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Exclusive Interview: Jordan Pease Talks New Memoir, Being Named Funniest New LA Comic

Jordan Pease is accomplishing a lot to say he just made his mark on the LA comedy scene two-and-a-half years ago. ShockYa was excited to talk to the up-and-coming comedian who is not only aiming to break boundaries in the comedy world, but is also sharing his personal insights in his new memoir, “Accidentally Okay.” If you’re in the Burbank area, make sure to catch Pease at the Flappers Comedy Club June 7 and 8 at 8 pm and 10 pm both nights. You can also catch him at the Sacramento Comedy Spot in at 8 pm June 13.

I see you have a memoir, Accidentally Okay. First of all, congratulations on your book.

Jordan Pease: Thank you! I love it. I’m really happy with how it came out.

How did the book come about?

Jordan Pease: Actually, I’ve always been interested in writing. I’ve always been the type of person that…just jotted stuff down when it was funny…and it kind of just developed [as] me always wanting to become a writer. It was always something I excelled in.

I actually took a trip to Italy as a kind of “Screw it, I need a break” trip, you know what I mean?…I just needed to get away from everyone I know and just take a couple months for myself, and I wanted to see what my Italian culture and heritage is like. While I was there, I was writing a fiction book, actually. When I got to Verona, I just kept taking notes in a journal…and I was like, “Oh my God, why am I trying to write this fiction book when there’s a book presenting itself right in front of me that’s naturally flowing and…it’s funny and it’s loving and it’s touching and inspiring.” I was like, “I just write this as a book and keep focusing on myself and write a memoir about everything that happens while I’m here and how I’m growing as a person.” It kind of developed almost as a travel journal into a non-fiction memoir that I put so much work into and I’m so happy with it.

Is there a certain message you hope people take away from the book?

Jordan Pease: …I just want people to read it and be happy, no matter what. There are parts of it that are touching and…[it] talks about family grief and growing up gay and things like that, you know what I mean? Natural struggles that come along with being a human being. I just really want people to take something away from it that’s relatable…I really want people to read the book and come away with a sense of hope.

I really want them to know that there’s a period of life where you have no idea what it is you want to do…there’s a time in your life–and it’s usually a long time–where you don’t know what you want to do or where your life is going, and I feel like that’s the best part of life. While I was in Italy, I realized that that is the best part of life…So I want people to read the book and realize that it’s totally okay to feel completely lost and have no idea as to where you want to go in life, but it’s really important to enjoy the time on the road and enjoy the path that life takes you on while you’re trying to figure out where the hell you’re going.

What made you want to become a comedian?

Jordan Pease: I played soccer competitively my whole life. So many of my friends were like, “I’m going to play college soccer,” and my whole thing was like, “Yeah, I’ll probably play college soccer, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be famous. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen!” In my mind, I always wanted to move to LA and either become an actor or I was always involved in writing. I was always writing screenplays and I would ace every English test in high school.

…Growing up, I was always the prankster or the jokester of the room. I always loved getting attention from the room, so I was always pulling pranks or telling jokes. On every report card I had, there was at least three teachers in the notes section, “Talking is disruptive to the learning environment.” …I knew I had something to say and I wanted people to hear it, and I knew humor was the best way in which I could express myself.

…My family loved watching stand-up comedy, so I could see these guys on stage…and I was like, “Oh my God, look them–they don’t have to sing, there’s no background, it’s literally just them and their jokes and look at how they’re making everyone happy,” and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I just wanted to make people be happy by just being myself.

You’ve only just begun your comedy career, but you’ve already been named as the Funniest New Comic in LA. How do you feel about that honor?

Jordan Pease: That was 2012-2013, and I’m actually a judge this year…[Last year] I went up and I had just been doing stand-up for a year, and I had won first place in my audition round, so I just went up there like I was super-comfortable and like I had been doing this forever and I was like, “I’m just going to wing it,” and I killed! I won first place for the Funniest New Comic…it was awesome. It was great, and now I get to judge other people, which is great, because who doesn’t love to judge other people?

In your bio, it states that you say one of your goals is to make everyone laugh, not just certain audiences. May you explain that?

Jordan Pease: That’s my really, really main goal. As a gay comic, they naturally book me for the gay shows…like, on the 13th of June, I’m going up to Sacramento doing this show, “One Night in Sacramento.” It’s like a pride festival…with…me and two other bay area comics that are just starting to get big. It’s like they’re trying to make it for a complete gay audience, which I completely understand. It’s pride, I’m gay, I love doing stuff like that. But more of my focus is–I’m gay, there’s no struggle for me to reach out to the gay community, but I know a lot of gay comics, even in LA that really just focus on doing gay shows…I completely understand that, but I have enough material and I believe in myself enough that I…love doing shows that are mixed crowds and heterosexual crowds.

My favorite shows that I’ve ever done have been Latino Nights, where there are 300 people, all-Latin audience. I kill, I murder, it’s crazy! I’m a variable, you know what I mean?…Kathy Griffin always [says] that comedy is colorblind. If you’re a true comedian, you can make anyone laugh, and I truly believe that. If you’re a true comedian and you’re talented at what you do, you shouldn’t focus on one group of people. If you want to book me for an urban show in Compton, I’ll do it, I don’t care. If you want to book me for a classy show in the Marina of San Francisco, I’ll do it. If you want me to go to the Bible Belt in Texas, I’m doing it. I’m so fearless when it comes to comedy. If I’m going to risk my life, I’m going to risk it on stage in a state that hates gays than anything else.

When I first get on stage, they start laughing and I’m thinking they’re all nervous because they’re like, “What’s this gay comic going to talk about?” A lot of my material is almost like making fun of myself for being gay and making fun of the gay community. I’m making fun of them that shows that we’re so similar to the straight community. I have problems that are the same [as anyone else]–when I’m dating someone and I’m like, “He is so needy, I don’t know what to do,” and straight men love [those jokes] because they’re like “My wife is so needy, I don’t know what to do.” And they think it’s hysterical when I have this balance between a 22-year-old gay kid and this 50-year-old straight man from Texas. I have relatable material and it always blows their minds.

I’m sure all comedians have some kind of mark they’d like to leave behind in the world of comedy. What kind of mark do you hope to leave behind?

Jordan Pease: I want to be the first gay comic that is basically a mainstream [comic]…I want to be the first gay comic that can do shows in Texas, like what we were talking about before. I want to be the first gay comic that can sell out a show in Texas or in the middle of the Bible Belt or Tuscon and not worry about, “Oh my God, people are not going to come because I’m gay.” …I want to leave an impact where everyone loves life and loves everything around them. The impact I want to leave is that everyone is equal no matter what.

Basically, loving yourself and having a dream–it doesn’t matter where you come from, whether you’re gay or straight or black or white or fat or tall. If you have a dream, no matter who you are, you can go for it and succeed at it. I want to open the door for other gay comics so they don’t have to focus on just gay stand-up and gay cruises. I want to do a regular Royal Caribbean cruise, do you know what I mean? I really want to show that [people in the gay community] are the exact same as everybody else…I just want people to look at life and laugh at it and be hopeful and that they next time they meet a gay kid or gay guy or gay girl, [they] will not look at them for being gay, but look at them for their other characteristics.

Jordan Pease

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Monique Jones blogs about race and culture in entertainment, particularly movies and television. You can read her articles at Racialicious, and her new site, COLOR . You can also listen to her new podcast, What would Monique Say.

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