When we featured local comedian Jay Dee on the cover of Urban Tulsa last year, we expected him to be the up-and-comer from a simmering community of local comedians. (Check out "Humorist Manifesto" on urbantulsa.com.)
While Tulsa's comedy pot hasn't yet boiled over, Jay Dee still has proven to be at the top of the local game, steadily building his repertoire and preparing to take the next step.
In fact, the perseverance is beginning to pay off. After patiently spending roughly two years honing his craft and "taking the hit" in the emcee slot by warming up the audience between performers, Jay Dee is finally beginning to work his way into the spotlight as a feature act in direct support of touring headliners. He's even getting calls to play outside of Oklahoma and broadening his reach beyond his home territory.
He quickly brought UTW up to speed, while still displaying a mix of his affable smile and sarcastic wit. Although he's not on the brink of superstardom, his patience is helping him progress with a "slow and steady finishes the race" approach. After all, he's not in this for a quick fix but hopefully for an extended career.
With the arrival of 2010, that career appears to finally be taking off. In late March, Jay Dee flew into Indianapolis to meet up with touring comedian Kris Shaw, who extended an invite to join him as a feature act for a week-long run through the Midwest. That week on the road proved to be a learning experience as Jay Dee laughed that not only were there hecklers at every show, but "One night, there were hecklers heckling the hecklers -- it really toughened me up."
Although it wasn't necessarily glamorous, a week's tour through North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming did give the aspiring star a good glimpse of the road. It also provided a good dose of humility as he humorously kept a photo documentation of starting the tour with his name on a lighted marquee and finishing with his name scrawled on a chalkboard at the final club.
Nevertheless, that's exactly the kind of touring experience that's needed to grow outside of the local market and become a regional, then nationally touring act.
As he continues to make connections by performing with various comedians both in and out of Tulsa, the bookings have started rolling in, including feature spots in Texas and Colorado. By summer's end, Jay Dee's schedule will have seen him perform in 10 states; a huge step for someone who had only played Northeast Oklahoma roughly a year ago.
Right now, however, Jay Dee is stepping up as a leader on the local comedy scene. Normally dedicated to featuring nationally touring acts, The Loony Bin is putting on a local showcase Sunday, May 23, at 8pm with Jay Dee performing a 30-minute headline set, supported by Justin McCain as the feature act and Corey Douglas as emcee.
Cover is only $5, for what should be an opportunity to see Jay Dee at his best. At least he hopes so. In an effort to continue to build his career, Jay Dee will have Soul Tree Studios bringing a mobile unit out to record the show, which will become his first comedy CD. It's a risky move as most comedians record an entire weekend's worth of shows, then splice them together. He'll only have one chance to hit his marks and make the material work, but it's a gamble that promises to pay off.
If you can't make it out on Sunday night, Jay Dee will be following up later in the week as emcee for touring comedian Dante, when he performs at Loony Bin Wednesday, May 26 through Saturday, May 29. Check him out as he uses the coming week as a springboard to a promising summer schedule.
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