West Virginia native Jared Logan grew up as the artsy odd duck in a “good ol’ boy” town. Today, Logan’s happy-go-lucky comedy style has gotten play on Comedy Central and he’s preparing to release his debut album, My Brave Battle.
I understand you just recorded an album in Nashville. Your first?
Jared Logan: In May. And, yeah, it is. It’s coming up soon: Oct. 14 it will be out. I think preorders are already available on iTunes. It will be called My Brave Battle. I just thought it was a funny, sarcastic name that illustrates my extremely complicated artistic process. I got the idea from Larry King. He named his memoir My Remarkable Journey, which I thought was hilariously melodramatic for a nightly talk show host.
You grew up in the South yourself, in a West Virginian coal mining family. Yet you were interested in the arts. What was it like growing up?
JL: There are many wonderful things about West Virginia: It’s beautiful, people are nice. But like a lot of comedians, like a lot of people, because I have those interests I was occasionally bullied. It’s not that different in other places. I lived in Tennessee as well for a little bit, which was another rural good ol’ boy area. But I think that’s just misunderstanding for the most part. A lot of times kids don’t understand what that means, to want to read a book that wasn’t assigned to you for class. They don’t have a vocabulary for it. So, “that’s gay” becomes the vocabulary. “Hey, he’s reading a book… I guess he’s gay?” That’s the only term they can come up with.
That must have been difficult at times.
JL: I got picked on, but I made really good friends. But now that I’m older, I’m glad I grew up in that culture. I got some growth. I got a lot of material. And, you know what? There are a lot of good things that come out of that redneck culture, out of the country culture in general. It’s friendly. People know each other and they genuinely care how they’re doing. In New York and L.A., people are all ambition, they’re sophisticated, but they don’t necessarily have compassion
You joke a lot about how used your full scholarship to obtain a Theater degree. Did you see yourself becoming an actor?
JL: I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to perform. Acting was something that came with growing up as a drama geek, so it made sense going into college, but I didn’t know that I wanted to be an actor. I had a sketch group in college and that was my first taste at comedy. We loved it, but our professors would tell us “You guys should stop focusing on that and start focusing on plays we cast for you in the theatre department.” But the sketch group, that’s what we really wanted to do.
Is that why you moved to Chicago after school?
JL: Chicago was where I was like, I’m really going to try to do standup as a job. I had so many horrible theater jobs to support myself during that time. I did a job taking tickets at a theater that played a show Naked Boys Singing. Which is exactly what it sounds like. I didn’t have a problem with that — I actually enjoyed seeing other men’s penises so I could feel more secure about my own. (laughs)
But the thing was, part of my job was to deal with rowdy people in the audience. And, like every weekend, these bachelorette parties would come to this show — that was really more about the gay experience than anything else — and they would scream like it was a Chippendale’s club and reach up and try to grab the performers. So I had to boot women from this show every single week.
Wow. That must have prepared you for hecklers, at least.
JL: Yeah, you know, it did in some ways. I guess that experience meant I was never really shocked later when I saw how some people behaved at live shows. Which isn’t always their fault, per se. A lot of people go to one live show their entire life, it will be their third time getting drunk for the entire year. And then they ruin the show by shouting at the performer. But they don’t go to shows, so they don’t know how you’re supposed to act.
Being in Chicago at the same time as comics like Pete Holmes and Hannibal Burress, how important are the friendships you make with other comedians?
JL: That’s absolutely crucial. That’s because your whole career is really your buddies in comedy, your friends in comedy, because they help you out. Without them and their support, I wouldn’t be working in comedy for a living. And the way this business works, you’re always keeping in mind how your buddies help you. Pete Holmes is a friend and he brought me on to perform on his talk show. The old cliche is it’s who you know, not what you know — but in comedy that’s 1,000 times as true.
Jared Logan performs with Kara Klenk at The Comedy Underground in Seattle Oct. 9-11.
This interview originally appeared in the October issue of The Eastside Scene magazine. You can read the digital Green Edition online here.