Recently, The Things had the pleasure of interviewing comedy duo, Jay Wells L’Ecuyer and Eytan Millstone, professional sketch comedians and award-winning filmmakers who hail from NYC by way of Toronto. The pair's second comedy album, So Busy So Tired, produced by Comedy Records, was recently released on August 10th and has been getting rave reviews. Their first album All Growed Up reached the # 1 spot on iTunes when it was released in 2016. Jay & Eytan have also experienced success on their web series, the Jay & Eytan Web Series, with hits like Night Light and Meat Pie. We were excited to get the chance to find out more about these two because we're sure we'll be seeing - and hearing - more of them soon.
TheThings (TH): How did the two of you meet and decide to become comedy partners?
Jay & Eytan: We met in 2004 at the Humber College Comedy Writing and Performance program in Toronto. After years of performing in a larger troupe in Toronto called “The Boom”, we recognized our likemindedness when it comes to comedy, and that we have a great chemistry on stage, so the partnership just naturally evolved.
TH: Can you explain how your collaboration process works?
Jay & Eytan: Being in a comedy duo basically means trying to make the other person laugh as much as possible, and being very honest with each other if something isn’t working. When a joke or idea strikes us we collaborate on it in a variety of ways. Sometimes we text back and forth, sometimes we talk in person about it and it clocks right away, and sometimes we labor over it for long periods of time until we finally feel like we have something solid. And then we let the audience decide.
TH: You’ve had success (#1 on the iTunes Comedy Charts in 2016) with your first comedy album All Growed Up and now your sophomore album So Busy So Tired is set to be released in just a few days on August 10th. Do you prefer creating albums or web series?
Jay & Eytan: They are both very different mediums when it comes to telling a joke/premise/story, so it would be hard to say which we prefer. Creating albums forces us to generate lots of different premises and ideas that can be enjoyed without being seen. Never underestimate the power of a sound effect. Our web series allows us to tell a more cohesive and long-form story that hopefully ties together in the end. It is far less random but can be extremely rewarding once the final cut has been locked.
TH: What are some things that our readers might not appreciate about the difficulties of making a comedy (audio) album?
Jay & Eytan: Certain jokes or ideas are purely visual, so to walk the line of finding a premise that works well in a strictly audible setting is definitely a challenge. But parameters like that also force discipline, and discipline mixed in with the right amount of silliness can make for some solid chuckles!
TH: Among your other successes, you are both award-winning filmmakers as well. Have you always wanted to be filmmakers?
Jay & Eytan: There is definitely an ultimate goal, however far down the road, of having a story up on a giant screen and viewed by huge amounts of people. Being in front of a crowd in a live setting will never get old, but there’s something very rewarding about seeing a project through from conception, to production, to post-production, to finally having it viewed in a room full of people. Writing a 2 minute sketch is already a difficult task, so the challenge of writing a 90 minute movie is definitely something we strive for.
TH: Do you find that acting and filmmaking go hand in hand?
Jay & Eytan: Not necessarily. Some people have a real skill at telling a story through a lens, but put them in front of the camera and they freeze up. On the other hand, there are great actors that can transform into a character, but they will be the first to admit that they have no idea how to direct an entire movie.
TH: Jay played Tommy in the 2015 action/crime thriller ‘The Closer’, a movie which Eytan produced. What was the transition like going from comedy to a more serious project?
Jay & Eytan: We learned a lot on that project. A big lesson was that whether it’s comedy, drama or even horror, each genre tries to follow through with its intentions. A comedy intends to make you laugh, so hopefully, we pull it off! An action/drama wants you on the edge of your seat, so hopefully, they pull it off. The common thread was definitely “timing is everything”! The set up/punchline for a laugh is a lot like a dramatic pause before an abrupt gun shot/fight scene for a thrilling effect. Since we mostly do comedy, it was pretty cool to be out of our element. Watching Eytan and the director take on the action was awesome, and getting to play a US soldier in Afghanistan and getting my head blown off was by far the coolest role I’ve ever had.
TH: You both have performed at several comedy clubs across Canada and the U.S. What are you favorite aspects about performing stand-up comedy?
Jay & Eytan: The greatest part of performing live comedy getting a group of strangers to all have the same reflex in their gut at the same time based on a joke that you have created. And when that reflex causes to make a sound, and that sound collectively fills the room, there is no greater feeling.
TH: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting started in comedy but doesn’t know where to begin?
Jay & Eytan: Get on as many stages as possible in front of many strangers as you can. Any comic starting out will hear the same thing over and over, it’s like working out. The stage is your gym and every set you do is like doing curls. The only way to know if your material is working is to do it in a room full of strangers and see if they laugh. Comedy is the great equalizer - if it’s funny they will laugh, no matter who you are and how long you’ve been doing it. Also, comedy is the furthest thing from a get rich quick scheme. Get ready to fail and take some enjoyment in that.
TH: Who are some of your influences in comedy? Who has inspired you?
Jay & Eytan: As 80’s babies we definitely connected with Dave Chappelle and Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy. There's Always Sunny and Curb, and Bill Burr is one of the funniest people alive. Then of course we have countless peers who have probably made us laugh harder than anyone. There are too many to name, but just to throw a few out there, Garrett Jamieson, Hunter Collins, Keith Pedro, Bryan O’Gorman, Bryn Pottie, Hannan Younis, Nikki Payne, Pat Burtscher, Arthur Simeon, Nick Reynoldson, Dylan Gott, and the list goes on and on.
TH: Can you tell us what new projects you’re working on now?
Jay & Eytan: With the second album being released, the third album is already being conceptualized and talked about. Beyond that, our live act is always our main focus. Having a great live show that can connect with audiences of all ages and backgrounds is how we feel that we can achieve all of our goals in the world of comedy and entertainment.
TH: Can you share your favorite book (or most recently read) with our readers?
Jay & Eytan: Jay here! Funny enough, I’ve been reading Like Brothers by the Duplass Brothers lately. It’s great for anyone in a partnership, even if you’re not in a comedic or filmmaking duo. Just someone trying to relate with or work with someone else. They talk a lot about leaving ego at the door and using each other’s strengths to make the best product. Letting the other take the reigns if they’re passionate about an idea, and being okay in the passenger seat. Eytan and I have a very similar vibe in our collaboration and it was comforting to know that it’s natural to want to strangle each other every once in a while. Ah, brotherhood.
Like what you've read? Check to see where Jay & Eytan will be performing live next! If you don't want to wait to laugh, catch their award-winning web series, watch some side-splitting shorts or check out a live (at one time) show from the comfort of your computer. And don't forget to get your copy of So Busy So Tired which is sure to turn any humdrum commute or boring workout into a laugh riot.
Thanks for giving us a moment of your time, Jay & Eytan, and please keep the hilarity coming!