Our next Comedy Records Showcase happens Monday (August 6) at New York Comedy Club! As always the lineup will feature a mix of Toronto and New York comedians and this month’s show will also serve as a release party for the latest album from the Brooklyn-based sketch duo, Jay & Eytan.
Originally from Toronto, Jason L’Ecuyer and Eytan Millstone relocated to New York in 2013. Since moving to the Big Apple the pair have taken a unique approach to their live sketch work and focused on performing on stand-up shows throughout the city.
Interrobang recently spoke with Jay & Eytan about their choice of focusing on stand up rooms as opposed to traditional sketch comedy venues and the benefits and challenges of crossing over genres.
The Interrobang: What inspired your decision to start performing at stand-up shows?
Jay & Eytan: Over the years we’ve performed on all types of shows (stand up, sketch, improv, outdoor music festivals, hip hop events) we just found that we love and prefer the atmosphere at a stand up show. We like bringing a small element of sketch to the rooms as a way to stand out and switch it up a bit for the crowd.
The Interrobang: What are the biggest differences between performing on a sketch show versus a stand up one?
Jay & Eytan: We find that stand-up is more about a pure set up/punch-line joke and storytelling rather than setting the scene, character work and general theatre vibe that comes with sketch shows. They’re both great in their own way but a sketch show feels more like a theatrical performance. A stand-up room has more of that, I’m gonna get trashed and laugh my ass off, vibe.
The Interrobang: Have you noticed any similarities between stand up and sketch comedians?
Jay & Eytan: Really good stand up and sketch comics are just oozing with talent but they prefer to ooze it out in different ways. A stand up uses real life experiences and observations and embellishes them to make really funny. A sketch comic uses that same experience but rebuilds it into a scene with a setting and characters. A stand up would say, “I was in a Canadian Mosh Pit the other day… Never heard the word “Sorry” so many times in my life.” Whereas a sketch could feature loud metal music blaring as a group of men in flannel shirts bump into each other saying, “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry there bud!”
The Interrobang: What’s the biggest advantage of performing as a duo on a stand-up show?
Jay & Eytan: The biggest advantage is when the host says they’re gonna switch things up a bit and do some sketch because right away the audience thinks, ooh, this is new. They perk up a bit, especially after six or seven stand-ups in a row.
But that’s not all the time though. There are definitely audiences that give the cool chick in high-school judgment face as if to say, ugh, this is different. We don’t like different do we, Stacey? Being the ugly duckling on a show can definitely go both ways.
The Interrobang: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced performing as a duo on a stand-up show?
Jay & Eytan: Some stand-up stages are small and clearly not meant for sketch. They’re built for one person and a microphone. For times like those we’ve practiced coming out on stage or having a plan like one of us moving the mic stand and setting up our set list while the other guy grabs the stool and puts our props on it. If we don’t, it looks really clunky and clumsy and it’s not a good way to get a crowd pumped up.
A lot of our sketches involve music cues and we hate annoying some person at a stand-up room by asking them to play them at a very specific moment. In a sketch room it’s not an issue because they’re all about the lighting and music cues, it’s business as usual.
The Interrobang: What’s the reaction been like from stand up comedians when they’ve seen you guys on a show?
Jay & Eytan: We’ve luckily never seen full out anger from a stand-up comic that’s noticed us on a line-up but there have definitely been some eye rolls. The negative reactions are a minuscule percentage compared to the amount of support and mutual respect we’ve received though. Comics see how close to stand up we are but we just act out the joke rather than tell it. Sometimes when we’re about to go on all the stand-ups come back in the room to see what we’re gonna do and that’s a huge honor. We always end up talking to stand-ups for hours about the differences and similarities between what they do and what we do. It’s almost always very positive
The Interrobang: What are your ultimate goals in comedy?
Jay & Eytan: We think the ultimate goal is balance; the balance of a fulfilling career and a happy home life as we blossom in adulthood. Right now the live act is the main focus but we love filming as much as possible. We’re trying to get better and better with each project.
Our Comedy Records Showcase happens the first Monday of every month at New York Comedy Club at 7PM. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at NewYorkComedyClub.com with the promo code NAFTA.
Jay & Eytan’s album, So Busy So Tired is available August 10 through Comedy Records.