I love Jerrod. Okay, I love a lot of people in comedy, but that shouldn't dilute the fact that Jerrod is awesome. Everybody loves Jerrod, not just me. He's got the kind of open heart and positive attitude you don't often see in people who embark on a career in comedy, much less maintain once they're in the thick of it.
Jerrod started comedy back home in North Carolina at the urging of his friends, where the only stage time available was in between drunkards belting out Journey hits at a karaoke bar. Then he moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2008 and got up on the Comedy Store open mic the first Sunday he was in town. It was his first set in LA and he drew the bullet spot, so he opened to a crowd of zero customers and was playing to the other comedians in the back.
Jerrod remembers "It was a phenomenal disaster - I talked too fast and I think I said the N-word 17 times in 3 minutes. It wasn't even related to the joke, I was just using it instead of 'um'"
Then he started doing as many spots around town as possible and signing up for the mic, knowing the odds of getting up were slim. But that was how his group of comedy friends coalesced. He'd go with Willie Hunter, Jamar Neighbors, Angelo Bowers and Josh Adam Meyers to get the $4 hamburger special at Carney's and watch the other mikers, no matter which of their group got up that night. He saw the mic and potluck night that followed as a way to see some great comedians and learn from them.
Then Eleanor Kerrigan saw one of his sets at BrewCo and told him to stop by the next Monday while she was hosting. Eleanor was killing as the host and Jerrod had a late spot with the Eleanor-warmed crowd. With maybe a little overconfidence, he asked Adam Szajgin, who was working the door, to nudge Tommy when he want up because he felt this was going to be one of those sets where everything came together. And it did. After that, Jerrod started getting Friends & Family spots (the 3 minute spots that go to employees & comedians early in their development) to work out and grown in.
About a year after that - almost two years to the day from his first set in the OR - Jerrod got to showcase. He was excited and hoped it went well, but the showcase also featured Willie and Jamar, so he was just happy to be there with his friends, sharing that moment. And that mix of emotions, concern and laid-back attitude paid off. He got booked to do La Jolla and passed as a Paid Regular soon after.
Jerrod credits many comedians with helping him, but he looks back on the times guys like Bret Ernst, Al Madrigal, Chris D'Elia, Ian Edwards, Neal Brennan and Ahmed Ahmed were helping him out, giving him support and advice as much more meaningful than any of the bugs they were putting in Tommy's ear. Though I'm sure it didn't hurt that all of those those guys, along with Argus Hamilton and Bill Burr spoke highly of Jerrod.
His first set was... a learning experience. Like most comedians, he put so much pressure on himself to deliver he over-prepared. He was too much in his head and ruined his normal flow. The set was fine, but to Jerrod that was failure. "I forgot to be a human being. Especially in the OR, you need to be a human being first. You need to break that fourth wall. The Original Room is not the place to just recite jokes. It's a gym, it's a therapy couch and it's a show. You need to be open and honest and entertaining." Luckily, that psych-out just inspired Jerrod to rise to the challenge to find his way to redeem himself in the room.
So he moved to the later spots to "find his voice" and about two weeks later he had to follow the amazing Brody Stevens. Despite the fact that their energies and styles are so different, Jerrod had fun with it. "I love those situations where I get to learn how to adapt - it's like when you're coming up and you do crazy mics or 'ambush comedy' where you show up at a bar or coffee shop and the crowd doesn't even know there's supposed to be comedy going on. The OR is just a room full of adapting."
Getting passed at the Comedy Store was a goal for Jerrod because so many of his heroes came from the Store and because it's such a challenge. "You have the greatest sets and the worst sets in the same room, at the same microphone. It's crazy" He also looks at his peers, the young comedians the Store is developing along with him, and feels confident that the Store is going to be the home for the best of the next generation of comedy. "You get to see your friends who are doing the open mic, Friends & Family or Paid Regular spots, whatever. The Store offers the most opportunities to see so many people I'm inspired by in one night."