New York-based standup Jared Logan is keeping awfully busy these days. He recently recorded his debut album in Nashville, released his new web series “Don’t You Think?”, featuring guests like Chris Gethard, Leo Allen, and Nikki Glaser, back in February, and was a cast member on VH1’s Best Week Ever on top of multiple TV appearances and his own Comedy Central Half Hour special that aired last year.
You can catch Logan performing on A Night at Whiplash, the concert movie version of the popular live standup showcase Whiplash at UCB NY that we recently released via our digital distribution label, Splitsider Presents. The film also features performances from Eugene Mirman, Janeane Garafalo, Sean Patton, Carmen Lynch, Michael Che, and Sheng Wang.
I got the chance to talk to Logan about the film, playing a demented character with his same name on his web series, and how where he’s lived affects his standup.
How’d you get involved with the Whiplash concert film? Had you done the live show before?
Yeah, I’ve done the Whiplash live show a lot, and I’ve actually hosted a lot when Leo [Allen] was out of town. It’s one of the best shows in New York to be on. Really, when I first moved to New York in 2008, that was the show that you wanted to get on because when you got on that you kind of knew you’d sort of arrived as a comedian in New York.
What was the taping like? It must have been really fun to have so many awesome comedians together.
Oh yeah, it was really fun. That’s always a very high-energy, electric room, but that night it really was electric. Yeah, the energy was insane.
Your episode of Comedy Central’s The Half Hour aired this past June. Did that open a lot of other doors for you?
Oh sure, I mean everything helps, right? I think that when you do The Half Hour people take you seriously as a professional comic. They’re like, “Okay, this guy’s a pro.” But it’s not any one thing that helps you get stuff. You’ve just got to be constantly be going for the next step. I loved doing it, it was awesome, and I’m really proud of it and show it to people if people want to see my stuff. But now I’m figuring what’s next.
In terms of what’s next, you’re recording your first album. How’d you choose to do it in Nashville?
I lived in Tennessee for a while and actually went to school in Memphis. I have a lot of really dear friends I never get to see that live in Nashville. And I knew that they would come, and then I have friends in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I used to live, and I knew that they would come, and I have some friends in Memphis that are going to come. So it’s nice to know that a small core of my friends will be there for the album taping, and they’re also friends that don’t get to see me perform all the time. But the other thing I thought about is that I have a lot of material about the South, and if I’m going to do that material, I should perform it for Southern people.
Last year, I performed at [Nashville club] The High Watt with the Reformed Whores — they’re a musical act, they do this really sick and twisted country music stars kind of act — and it was such a great show, and the guy that runs the place, Brandon Jazz, he runs a brand that brings in comedians there called Corporate Juggernaut. He just does such a great job and the show was such a pleasure. And the venue’s really cool, it’s like a rock club and usually has music there. It’s called The High Watt and I thought it would also just cool when you read it on the album description, you know. It’s something a little different, maybe it’ll get someone’s interest. A lot of people are recording it in New York or LA, so I wanted to do something a little different to maybe interest people. Maybe if you’re a Southern person and see this was recorded in the South you’ll go, “Maybe I’ll try this out.”
Do you think your Southern background differentiates your standup?
I’d say for sure it does. First of all, I blatantly talk a lot about it. I talk about myself, so I talk about being raised Pentecostal, my experiences living in the South or in West Virginia. But also, I think it informs my worldview about everything I talk about because I was raised in a Southern religion where they talk about the end of the world a lot I kind of view a lot of things that we deal with day-to-day as apocalyptic. Does that make sense? Another way to put it is that every complaint I have is the end of the world to me.
Do you have the material all ready for the album or are you still workshopping that?
Yeah, I have it ready. I’m in a situation where I haven’t recorded an album before so really I can pick from all of my material. But I do want to do something special for people who haven’t seen me on my half-hour or one of my other appearances where I did five or 10 minutes of standup on TV. For the people who are familiar with what I’ve done, there’s going to be a lot of new stuff in it too. And I’m really trying to focus on the idea behind the title My Brave Battle and make it a little bit roughly shaped like my life story, which I think is a good idea for a debut album, to have it a little bit be like, “This is who I am, this is my life story.”
My Brave Battle. That’s intended to be ironic. I don’t think that I have battles or am I that brave.
You also talk about being a theater major in college, but when did actually you start doing standup?
I started doing standup in late 2003 in Chicago. Actually, that’s not really true. I went to a couple open mics before I moved to Chicago. I used to have to drive 45 minutes from Memphis when I was in college to this open mic in Tunica, Mississippi, at a casino there. So my very, very first standup was in front of a Southern crowd, and a very uniquely Southern crowd because Tunica, Mississippi, had a lot of like redneck, good ol’ boys in it.
So what was each move like, from the South to Chicago and then Chicago to New York? Did it change your standup at all?
When I moved from the South to Chicago, I was just really happy to be in a big city where there was a big community of any kind at all. At first I worked in theater when I got to Chicago and then I eventually found my way into standup and there was a big comedy community in general with the improv schools and everything there. I had zero money, but I didn’t care because I was doing what I wanted to do. That I could on a Saturday spend five dollars in a used bookstore, it was really cool to do stuff like that. So I was just thrilled. I loved it.
When I moved to New York, it was a lot harder. By the time I moved to New York, I already had a TV appearance. I really thought that I had it made it, that I was about to make lots of money in comedy and that it was all set in stone. I didn’t realize I had a lot to learn. And New York’s a tough city anyway, especially for someone who’s lived in the South, stuff like that. So it took me a couple years, it was only a couple years, to learn my craft and become a better businessman. Now I love New York, I really really enjoy it and I have a great time living here, but when I first got here, it was hard. I was living in a rough part of far Eastern Bushwick. Our apartment had mice and you know, it was just terrible. But now I love it.
I don’t know. There might be an LA move in my future pretty soon as well. I was just down there for two months for pilot season and had a lot of fun opportunities. Cara [my girlfriend] and I, might be heading out there kind of soon.
Let’s talk about your new web series, Don’t You Think? Where’d the idea for that come from?
Well, I think that we all look at Facebook all day, and we see our friends and our neighbors and our family post some things where we’re like, “What is wrong with you?” You know, this sort of like weird, misinformed, a lot of times well-meaning, but just completely uneducated opinions or braggery — I don’t know if braggery’s a word. And what I started doing is I started making Facebook posts making fun of them, like I would make fun of those posts people made that I find absolutely annoying where you just brag about how great your kids are and stuff like that. And then people were like, “Man, I really love these posts, they’re hilarious, you should do something else like that.” So I was like, why not make this character that would post this kind of stuff on Facebook, why not give him his own vlog where he interviews people about the important issues? And that’s kind of how it all came to be.
How much of it is improvised versus scripted?
I usually go in with a couple ideas for things I can say, but the rest is improvised. I always really try to react to the guest, and also I wanted the guests just to be really funny being themselves because I was being funny not being myself. So I definitely pick people who are very much themselves on stage and are funny talking about the things that they care about. I really don’t have much of a choice of who we can get for guests, but people like Nikki Glaser and Chris Gethard are people who are just funny being themselves and I love that.
I have to say, your wardrobe choices are hilarious. How did those come to be?
I went to the thrift store and just found stuff that wasn’t hilarious to look at but looked uncomfortable. To be honest, some of the stuff I wear, my agent was like, “Why did you choose to wear a shirt that didn’t button?” and I was like, “Because I think it’s funny.”
And it has a bit of a Between Two Ferns vibe. Did that influence it at all?
Sure, definitely. I watched all of those a long time ago, but I definitely wanted to do something like that. Also coming off a year of watching Stephen Colbert do his thing, I think I have a unique play on that for sure.
Yeah, definitely. So do you have any other projects you’re working on?
There’s definitely going to be another web thing happening, it might be more episodes or something different. I’m also trying to figure out a podcast with my girlfriend because we had a great idea for one.
Awesome. Anything else you want to talk about?
I think you covered just about everything in my life right now. I want to just mention my girlfriend Cara because she is hysterical and I am in love with her.
How does she feel about being talked about on the web series?
Oh man. When she first heard about it, Cara was like, “Wait, what’s your character’s name?” And I was like, “My character’s name is Jared.” And she goes, “What? Well, what’s your girlfriend’s name?” and I was like, “Cara.” [Laughs] She was like, “Oh man, seriously? That’s a bad idea.” I was like, “No one’s going to get confused, Cara, or think that this is really me, and if they do I think that’s funny.” I was actually hoping more people would email me like, “You’re an idiot,” but most people get the joke.
Emma Soren is a writer from Chicago living in Philadelphia.