For the past 15 years, Comedy Central’s half hour specials have showcased the future stars of standup. Looking back, the early years of Comedy Central Presents included memorable sets from the likes of Mitch Hedberg, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Dane Cook and dozens more. Re-branded The Half Hour in 2012, the series continues to feature the best up-and-coming comics in the country.
For many comedians, it’s that history that makes doing a half hour special so significant. While a half hour may once have been a comic’s first major exposure, comedians now have many ways to build an audience. Almost everyone who taped a special this year does non-standup comedy as well, branching out into the worlds of podcasting, sketch and improv, web series, acting, and more. In this new series, I sat down with each of this year’s 16 Half Hour comedians to talk about their specials, their careers, and their generation of comedians. Each interview will also feature an exclusive clip from the special. All the interviews can be found here.
Jared Logan is a regular cast member on the new Best Week Ever, and one of Dark Lords of Comedy alongside fellow Half Hour-ers Mike Lawrence and Dan St. Germain. Since he had been visiting LA for pilot season, he was the last person I interviewed; we met in coffee shop on the Upper West Side to talk about making standup work as a business and not being intimidating.
So how did your taping go?
That's so weird that you interviewed everybody else. I'm last the one, but I was the first person to go at The Half Hour. I took the bullet. It went great. I was very happy. My whole thing was just, don't be nervous. I knew that the jokes worked, because I'd done them a thousand times, so all I had to do was not be nervous, and I think I was able to do that. For me, it's remembering to have fun or remembering, this is why you got into this. This is the whole point of ten years of work.
I was sharing the show with Dan St Germain, who is — and you can put this in writing — a complete lunatic, and it was just really fun to kind of fuck with him the whole time. When we were getting ready, I was just sending tweets about him. How I kept hearing moaning coming from his dressing room and then it turned out he was just urinating and that's why there was all that moaning. Just things like that to try to antagonize him. That really calmed me down, actually, antagonizing Dan as much as possible. Trying to make Dan more nervous made me really calm.
It’s incredible that you and Mike and Dan all taped your submissions on the same night and all got the Half Hours.
Yes. Dan and Mike are kind of my New York comedy family. I was in Chicago for five years with all those guys like Kumail [Nanjiani] and Pete Holmes and whoever, so when I moved here, I kind of got in with Dan and Mike. We were at the same level in the mics.
I had assumed that Dark Lords was an ongoing thing, but Dan said you’ve only done it twice.
Yeah, it's a special thing. We're trying to build it into a brand. Maybe we should have an ongoing regular show but we're all, thankfully, very busy now. So when we can do it, we do it.
Well, the reason I wanted to do the series was because, if you look back at the first few years of Presents, there were so many amazing people. I just think how cool it would have been if someone had sat down with all those people like Mitch Hedberg and…
Are you saying I'm gonna be dead from a heroin overdose soon?
Maybe. Maybe you’ll be the one.
That would be pretty cool. It would establish me definitely in history. People would remember me way better than I was. I'm not saying that about Hedberg, I'm saying that's what they would have to do with me.
What did doing a half hour mean to you?
Boy, I mean of course it's a huge, humongous thing. I have this huge problem where I try not to enjoy anything too much or think that it's too important, because I think so many people are like, “This is my moment! Mommy and Daddy! Look, Mommy and Daddy, I did it!” And I'm like, it's cool, it's super fun, and of course it helps you continue your comedy career and expand it and make more money in the future and get seen by people that can put you in other things. In a way, it's a culmination of my last five years. I came to New York because the people at Comedy Central put me on Live at Gotham. Then I did that, and I was so happy that I had gotten on TV for the first time, but then it was a rough couple years kind of figuring out New York and figuring out really how to make this into a business. I feel like I had a good grounding, from being in Chicago, of how to be creative and keep my creative side working. But what I didn't have was the savvy of someone who does it as a business. And then also my standup's gotten way better over the years too, but to go from moving here because of Live at Gotham and then to have been here five years and to hit that half hour, to me it feels like a milestone in my emotional maturity.
I know you were just out in LA for pilot season. How was that?
It was great. They didn't give me my own show, which I was like really surprised, because I was told that I would get my own show by my agents and managers, but now they're saying like it takes like a couple years. No, it was really fun. I introduced myself to everybody out there and I feel like I made some new friends, and that's it. That's everything. It really is who you know, and I met everybody, and I had a nice chat with them, so now the groundwork is laid. Now we're kind of gearing up for the development season a little bit, and trying to get some content out there that maybe people want to like turn into something more. So that's what I'm working on right now.
Do you have a background in acting?
I do. I was a theater major in school. I have a whole routine about that that'll be on the special. I don't know that I was a very good actor ever, but I love to do it. And I haven't done it in awhile because I've been focusing all on standup. But I was in all kinds of horribly miscast college plays. Like I played Chris in Arthur Miller's All My Sons. I looked exactly like I do now but slightly younger, and I played a fighter pilot who comes back from the war after leading a squadron of fighters and finds out that his dad made faulty parts at his company that killed his own soldiers. And there's suicide and all kinds of seriousness, and the students that came to see it the first night laughed through the entire thing. So much so that we didn't want to go back out for Act Two, and they made us go back out and do Act Two. But the thing about Act Two was that it started with me in a tank top chopping down a tree. So when the curtain came up, the students who'd been laughing uproariously through the whole thing were just in stunned, shock silence until one of them finally was like, “Put a shirt on.” And then they began laughing again. They really enjoyed the whole show, the students. I think that's maybe a part of the origin of when I decided it was gonna be standup comedy for me. I love dramatic acting, but I think when I'm angry, I sound sort of funny. My voice gets higher pitched when I'm mad. I'm not an intimidating person.
Well, that’s not a bad thing.
No, of course not, but sometimes you want to be a little scary. I get asked for directions about five times a day because everybody's like, well he's not gonna rape us. He's not a sexual being at all.
And how’s Best Week Ever?
I love Best Week Ever. It's really, really fun and they make it an easy process. They listen to the comedians in terms of ideas. I have my own segment, the Rednexpert, and I've pitched them something else that might be in the works now. And they were very accommodating with me. I had to do it in LA for awhile, and they hooked up a team of great producers and directors and people out in LA to help us do it out there. It's the most fun.
It’s interesting, because your standup isn’t particularly topical.
No, and I'll be honest, when I auditioned for Best Week Ever, I was like, they're not gonna take me. There's a Patton Oswalt joke where he tells why he was fired from Best Week Ever. They asked him, “Well, what do you think of Paris Hilton?” and he was like, “She's a cunt and I hope she dies.” And they're like, “Oooook.” And I feel like that's what my audition was like. They would be like, “Real Housewives” and I'd be like, “Ugh. When it's on, I feel like the FBI's trying to get me to leave my compound. It's just screeching.” I hated on everything, and I thought, well that would have been fun but they probably thought I was too hateful. I guess that's what they were looking for. [Laughs] Although some of my more hateful lines, I notice, don't make it on the show. I didn't know I had so much hate inside me until I started talking about pop culture all the time.
Yeah, that’ll bring it out in you. One of the things I’m most intrigued by is that everyone doing a Half Hour this year does other things as well as standup. Do you find things like acting and Best Week Ever, end up informing your standup?
Definitely. Absolutely. It's interesting. I think having the acting background really informs the way I do standup. I think you always need to be multi-faceted. It's boring to just be a standup joke machine all the time. You have to go do other things and experience different ways of experiencing the world.
And then what’s next for you? Where can people find you?
Boy, I always suck at this question. Bonnaroo. I'll be at Bonnaroo.
It could be more general, if you have any grand plans.
I really want to get married to my girlfriend, I want to keep living on the Upper West Side. I don't know, what did other people say? Did Dan St Germain tell you that he'll have his own network, and he'll have a film that he's made or something? To me, it feels like bragging. But then, in the business world, that's what you're supposed to do. Like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Oh I'll be running this company, and you will be direct inferior.” I just think that's so insane. Hopefully I'll be making more money, because I would like to get married and that costs a lot of money. I told my girlfriend, we were just talking about weddings, and I was like, "I could spend like four or five grand on a wedding," and she laughed in my face because I guess that's a really small amount of money? I guess I don't really know how weddings work very well. And then, yeah. I definitely have plans, I just don't like to share them with everybody.
Jared Logan's Half Hour premieres on Friday, May 31 at midnight. He's on Twitter at @JaredLogan.
Elise Czajkowski is a contributing editor at Splitsider and comedy journalist in New York City. She tweets at @EliseCz.