TheThings recently had the chance to chat with funnyman Jason Salmon who you might recognize from 30 Rock and Orange Is the New Black. Aside from being an accomplished actor, Salmon is also a sketch artist and stand-up comedian. He happens to have a brand new and completely hilarious comedy album out called Force of Nurture. It's available on Amazon Music and is the perfect choice for your next workout or long commute.
Enjoy this exclusive interview with Jason Salmon from TheThings!
TheThings (TH): Your brand new comedy album is called Force of Nature. Where did the title come from?
Jason Salmon (JS): It’s actually called, Force of NURture (a common mistake) The basis in familiarity is always the risk with wordplay in the album title. The title is sort of a play on my belief that I can probably attribute most of my success (and subsequent bravado) to having had good parents and teachers growing up.
TH: Can you tell us about your comedy style? Which famous comedian would say that your comedy style is similar to?
JS: A friend of mine described my comedy style as “...like getting the best advice you’ve ever gotten from the dumbest guy you know” and I think that’s pretty accurate. As a comic, I don’t usually think of myself in terms of other comic’s styles, but I have been influenced by a ton of them. Bill Burr and Gary Gulman are two of my favorites to watch work. I’m a big fan of Tommy Johnagin and Gina Brillon. All really different comics but all great writers who thread their vastly different styles with a combination of thoughtfulness and whimsy.
TH: Who is your target audience? What age groups can relate to your jokes?
JS: Like most comics, my target audience is really just anyone who wants to listen and laugh. I work clean so no that’s never an issue - one of my friends even said his 10 yr old loved my album (some of the topics are more mature, so I would recommend listening before you let your kid). I like to play to the universality of comedy so I want everyone to join the fun, but I’m also talking about my life and the lessons I’ve learned, so people who have a bit more life experience might click in a little deeper.
TH: Your comedy album covers everything from your heritage to politics to roommates and gay weddings. Where do you come up with your jokes?
JS: Ha. Yeah. I am all over the place topically, but it’s all based on what interests me. I think we all want the same things - happiness, peace, identity - but we struggle in our own ways to get those things and mostly we are our own enemy. I think everything I talk about falls under the umbrella watching people (mostly me) and appreciating the ridiculousness of their struggle.
TH: Do you have a favorite joke from this album? What makes it your favorite?
JS: My favorite joke on the album is actually the Dracula joke. It is literally the first joke I ever wrote. I came into comedy from an acting/improv background, and I was doing open mics where I would just get on stage, and discuss things that I thought were weird and funny, but I hadn’t really fully constructed an actual joke. So my buddy, Luke, took me to a diner near Standup NY, we had dinner, pieced together that Dracula joke from my scattershot stage material, and giggled like schoolgirls for a few hours. It is a day I will remember forever. And I still like the joke.
TH: You are also an actor. Do you prefer one over the other, acting or performing live stand-up? If so, why?
JS: I really love them both because they feed both sides of my psyche. Acting is about figuring out a character. And standup is all about figuring out yourself. One requires empathy, the other introspection. And I think ultimately, working both of those muscles, has helped me both on stage and on set.
TH: You grew up in Texas and your life experiences in your home state sometimes make it into your routine. What is it about Texas that makes your jokes funny/relatable even for those of us who have never been to The Lone Star State?
JS: I have been fortunate in my life to have lived in both Texas and New York City. Two of the most mythological places in the United States. And I love both of them. Part of the reason is that on a human level those places aren’t that much different. And I think that’s what interests me most is that people still have the same needs and wants no matter where you go. Just like some people like the Cowboys and some like the New York Giants, but it’s all just football.
TH: Can you provide some insight for us as to what it’s like recording a live album? (Were you extra nervous? If you made a mistake, did you have to re-record?)
JS: I wasn’t extra nervous, but you can’t ignore the risk things go terribly wrong, There’s a lot at stake. The biggest difficulty recording a live album, for me, was not worrying about the technical components. I had performed on that stage many times, had done the jokes thousands of times, and love to perform. But because of also done a lot of voiceover work and film, my natural tendency was to play to the recording instead of the room. So I had to continually remind myself to stay in the moment on stage. Because that’s when I have the most fun, and that makes it better for the audience.
TH: Can you share your funniest/most interesting experience that’s happened to you or that you’ve witnessed since you’ve been a comedian and actor?
JS: This may seem a little morose at first, but My dad has Alzheimer’s. It’s an awful disease, because of the loss of the person you once knew. But because, as an actor, I’m constantly searching for the soul of characters, it’s been a lot easier for me to connect with the soul of my father, even as the physical man changes. And because, as a comic, I’m always open to finding new ways of observing things, I’ve been able to view life through his lens a little more than I would have otherwise. As his brain function has suffered, I’ve sort of been able to experience my dad as a father, brother, and even a son. I don’t think I ever would’ve been able to do that if I hadn’t been constantly training myself to look for an interesting take on life. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve actually experienced some great moments with my dad through the course of this disease that I don’t would have been possible otherwise.
TH: Do you have any upcoming projects or performances that you can tell us about?
JS: I’ll be at the Omaha Funny Bone December 6th through 9th and Plano, TX at Hyenas December 21st and 22nd.
TH: Jason, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today!
Readers, if you've enjoyed Jason Salmon's answers and sense of style, you won't want to miss picking up Force of Nurture. From politics to Dracula and funny roommate stories, this album has something for everyone!