Jay Mohr has a ready reply for when people ask how often he gets to play Atlantic City. "If I sell out, I come every year," Mohr says. "If I don't sell tickets, this will be a one-off."
Fortunately, Mohr, who performs 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa's Music Box, has various means to connect with his audience.
The actor-comedian, who's known for his big screen roles in "Jerry Maguire" and "Hereafter," began hosting a live syndicated weekday talk show on Fox Sports Radio in January. He also continues to produce his own podcasts, via Smodcast.com, featuring conversations with fellow comedians and others from the entertainment world.
Mohr has written two books, including the best-seller, "Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live," about his stint on the sketch show, and most recently starred on TV in the CBS sitcom, "Gary Unmarried."
He talks about how sports talk is nice work if you can get it, and playing the game of figuring out –– and winning over –– a crowd.
Q: The Borgata's Music Box is like your second home in A.C. What do you like about the room?
A: The Music Box is a really great size to play. When you do theaters, there's so much stress. Comedy clubs are 250 to 300 seats. When you do a theater with 1,600 seats, it's a little nerve-wracking. If you don't sell out, you don't get asked back. That's a fact of the comedy business. But the Music Box is a perfect size –– 999 seats –– exactly perfect to fill, you don't sweat it out too much.
Q: What do you think of this whole sports radio thing?
A: I love it. I'm done every day at noon, so I'm on the beach by 2 p.m. with my sons, so that's awesome. I love sports and I get to
talk sports. It's not that much work. I'm pretty lazy. I'm a stand-up comic, I don't like to work too hard. I usually only work three hours a week, so this fits in perfectly.
Q: Does being on the radio every day sharpen your stand-up?
A: I think the podcast is a much better place to try material, because you work on the conversation and there's no corporation above me. With the radio show, I'm an employee of a giant corporation. You have to make sure everything times out perfectly.
It's like a dinner party. The fork does have to go in the right spot. You've got to serve the soup before the salad, or vice versa. There is a right way and wrong way you've got to do it.
Q: Does your material from radio cross over into your act, or are they completely separate?
A: If I play someplace local, certainly. If I go to Atlantic City and something happens about the Eagles, it's giant news. Certainly, if it's the elephant in the room, you want to mention it.
You've got to be careful, because you might be eliminating half the room. For all you know, people who came to see you that night might not care about sports at all. You've got to vibe them out.
With comedy, you walk to the mic, you've got about 16 seconds to feel out which way we're going to go that night. You don't want to waste their time. People work hard to buy a ticket to a stand-up comedy show.
You don't want to start talking about the Baltimore Ravens' offensive woes if you've got a bunch of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" fans in the audience.
It's a very delicate walk, that walk from backstage to the microphone, you're really gathering a lot of intel on your walk out there.
Q: I guess that's where experience really comes into play.
A: The game I like to play is how good a comic are you? Can you sell a story about the Eagles to a bunch of housewives? Can you make it universal?
The Eagles fans that are there, the Giants fans that are there –– the guys that know me from "Jerry Maguire," they'll buy into it. Can you make it funny for people that aren't even sure what you're talking about? Can you present it in a way that's universal? That's really fun to do.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 7
WHERE: Music Box, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City
WEB SITE: JayMohr.com