Jamie Lissow may occasionally make a wisecrack about a politician, but for the most part that kind of humor is usually not a part of his act.
“I’ll talk about Tiger Woods or the Toyota recall or something like that,” said Lissow, a Rochester resident who will be one of five comedians performing in the “Nobodies of Comedy” Saturday night at Proctors. “But typically I don’t go into politics. I don’t take sides, I don’t find politics that interesting, and I’d hate to offend anyone that I might not agree with politically. Can’t we all just have fun and have a few laughs?”
Lissow, 35, is a graduate of Greece-Arcadia High School in Rochester and of Fredonia State College, also in western New York. He studied math and psychology; he doesn’t know why, and upon graduation decided law school would be a good idea. He started taking classes at Buffalo Law School, but didn’t stay around long.
‘Nobodies of Comedy’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $28-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org
“I went to law school for about a week,” said Lissow. “I didn’t know what else to do, so I also started doing open mike nights and was teetering on the edge of being able to do stand-up and make a meager living.
“I got this letter from the school telling me that at the end of four years I would owe them X amount of dollars,” said Lissow. “I can’t remember what the sum was but it was astronomical, something like $200,000. I thought to myself, ‘Why not take the plunge into stand-up now and I’ll feel like I’m ahead 200 grand.’ So, I gave it a shot.”
Lissow found almost immediate success, at least enough so that he decided to keep on touring and cracking jokes and telling funny stories.
“Doing it for your life’s profession, right away, you realize that it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “I was able to sustain myself the first couple of years and began thinking, ‘Hey, I can really do this.’ Then, I had my first brush with TV.”
The day after a television gig at the Montreal Comedy Festival, Lissow suddenly got an opportunity of a lifetime.
“I was just a middle act on the road, trying to get by when I went to Montreal, and then suddenly within 24 hours after doing that show I get offered ‘The Tonight Show,’ and before you know it I’m sitting next to Jay Leno,” said Lissow. “I said to myself, ‘Yes I can really turn this into a career.’ That was the moment I knew I had made the right decision.”
Lissow moved to Los Angeles for a while, and filmed a half-hour special for Comedy Central. He was successful and getting plenty of work, but he says he’s not a West Coast guy.
“When I was working in L.A. it’s not like I was hanging out at the beach having fun,” he said. “I was working hard, doing some TV and also doing a lot of traveling. I realized I was flying to places like Cleveland and Buffalo, where people really thought I was funny. I thought to myself, ‘Hey, if I move back to New York, maybe I can make a living without ever getting on an airplane again.’ ”
Lissow, his wife and a brand new baby boy lived in New York City for about four years, and then he was able to return to his hometown of Rochester. He has his own radio talk show and also has a regular gig as a contributor to “Fox News Redeye.”
“It’s the Fox version of ‘The Daily Show,’ and I might find myself on there with Ann Coulter or Bret Michaels talking about the funny stories of the day,” said Lissow. “We’re on at 3 in the morning, so you either have to live in Alaska or stay up pretty late to catch me. But it’s a great show that we have a lot of fun with.”
Lissow says he is very familiar with the Capital Region, and didn’t hesitate to perform with the “Nobodies of Comedy” when he was asked by Mills Entertainment of Ballston Spa, the promoters of the event.
“Michael Mills is a great guy and he knows how to put on a great show,” said Lissow. “I would go anywhere he asked me, and I do know the Albany area very well. I think I’ve performed at every college in that area.”
When he’s not working, you might be able to find Lissow working out, although not nearly as much as he used to.
“I was a body builder for about a minute, but yeah, I did work out a lot,” he said. “I have other priorities right now, like family, and it’s tough enough trying to be a stand-up comic and a father and a husband. No, I don’t work out like I used to.”
Lissow was also a pretty good wrestler in high school and college, but he says it’s not a sport for a lifetime.
“I wrestled for five years but then when you’re done with school what do you do?” he said. “It’s the only sport I know where it’s inappropriate to call up a friend and ask him, ‘Dude, do you want to pull out the mat and go at it.’ It’s not like basketball where you can shoot some hoops with a friend. You ask someone to wrestle they can take it the wrong way.”
Joining Lissow on the Proctors’ stage will be Buddy Fitzpatrick, Andrew Kennedy, Danielle Stewart and Mike Vecchione.
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Categories: Life and Arts