I Have to Tell You Something, It’s Awesome
When word broke out around the office that Jessi Campbell was going to be interviewed at this week for Funny Title Here, the metaphorical panties of RooftopComedy dropped. Immediately. We love her, almost irrationally so around these parts, so it was a long time coming until Jessi graced us with her presence.
Paolo: Oh my God, we love you so much, why do you think people love you so much?
Jessi: It’s pretty simple, people love me because I’m awesome! I’m kidding! But seriously, I am.
No, I really appreciate the support you guys at Rooftop (the best website ever) give me. It feels really good to know people like what you do. I think people like me because I’m non-threatening. I tell jokes and I can’t throw a punch.
Paolo: How did you get into comedy?
Jessi: I always loved it. My parents used to take me down to the comedy club in my town when I was a teenager, and I grew up on their Bill Cosby records. When I was 18 I saw an ad in the newspaper for a comedy class. I was still really scared but my dad made me call. He actually dialed and then put the phone against my ear. Later that week my mom took me to an open mic at a bar. I was so nervous I turned completely red, panicked, and left without going on. I was actually pretty lucky to have a family that supported me. And/or just wanted me to stop annoying them.
Paolo: Who are your comedic influences?
Jessi: There are a lot of famous comics that I like and admire. Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, Dave Chappelle. But the ones that influenced me are the guys I saw and met when I first started. Sitting in the back of the room, wishing I could be that good one day. Two big ones were Troy Baxley and Chad Daniels. They were both guys that would come through and the whole staff would come in to watch. They would both kill and I always felt really cool when I got to hang out with them. I still feel cool when I get to. Another guy I think really influences me is Jim Norton. I’m not dirty at all, but I hope one day to be as brave and honest as he is.
I saw Richard Jeni’s Platypus Man when I was 13. I told myself I was going to be a comic right then. And right after I watched it, I wrote my first joke. I still have it. I’ve wanted to throw it away out of total embarrassment, but I can’t. It’s horrible but it still makes me laugh. And no, I will never tell anyone what it is.
Paolo: What was the absolute worst show you’ve ever had?
Jessi: It’s always hard to pick out the worst show. It could be that college lunch show where I asked a group of women how they liked all the date rape on campus, or the show in Alabama that made me seriously question my career choice. But there’s one that still bothers me every time I get on stage.
I hadn’t been doing stand up that long and I was doing a guest set. I used to do one almost every week, and I did the open mics. So if you had seen a comedy show in Tucson, you probably saw me. I was trying new stuff in the middle, and I started with a couple older jokes. During every joke I told- three or four jokes in a row- this guy in the front would yell my punchline right before I did. I was still new and I didn’t know what to do. I started shaking and panicking. And then I started a new joke and he yelled out, “Finally!” To this day I have this thing about doing jokes too long. I throw out perfectly good jokes because I’m afraid someone’s seen them before. If I ran into that guy again, I would probably punch him and tell him he made me self conscious about my material. I can still remember exactly how I felt that night and it’s probably been 5 or 6 years. What an ass. Not that I hold grudges.
Paolo:I’ve been digging your “Jessi Goes To” series on Youtube! What was the genesis of that, and are there any other places we can expect you to go to?
Jessi: I kind of started the travel videos to force myself to enjoy the country. I’ve been traveling a lot, and most of it I spend in hotels. I think when you’re on the road full time you take the travel for granted. So, I wanted to do something to keep me busy and force myself to sight-see, but a lot of comics have road diaries so I wanted to be different. I wanted to do something that was unique but still showcased the places I was going. I have this fantasy where The Travel Channel calls me up and says, “those Goes To videos were amazing. We would love to give you a tv show.” And I say, “Oh my god. Seriously?” And that’s when the fantasy ends. Because then they go, “No. Making fun of places isn’t nice. And you’re not very TV friendly, if you get what I’m saying.” I guess I always really wanted my own travel show and I think you can see that in the videos. I try to be funny without being too mean.
I’m making a point to be more consistent with the videos. So there should be more every couple of weeks. Sometimes I go somewhere and it just doesn’t work out. I never pre-plan, I just show up and try to be funny. But Thursday I’m going to the Spam Museum and next week, Houston and Tulsa. So hopefully I’ll find something good.
Paolo: So how’s married life like? Do you wear the funny pants in the house?
Jessi: People always ask me if it’s hard to be married on the road, but I actually think it’s easier for the most part. We don’t really get a chance to get sick of each other. Except when my husband comes home from an 11 hour day and all I’ve done is play video games in my pajamas (that happened today). Then it’s even more awesome for me.
My husband is funnier than I am when we’re home. He commits to jokes that I can’t. A lot of his humor involves exposing parts of his body when I have my head turned. Oh, it’s a laugh riot when I turn back around and his wiener is resting on my laptop. He’s what I like to call “a keeper”.
Paolo: And lastly, do you have any last words to your adoring fans who would be reading this now?
Jessi: I would say thank you. I am above all a fan of comedy and I know what it feels like to be a fan of someone who’s funny. And to think people feel that way about me is really special. I would hug every fan if I could.