Comedian Jason Marcus is glad to hang up his snow shovel and escape the brutal Boston winter in favor of a warmer Vegas vacation.
Only this trip could prove to be more than just a vacation. Along with Alyssa Wood and the comedy/music duo Carlie & Doni, Marcus is a finalist in the Improv at Harrah’s quest to find the funniest person in America. Marcus will be on stage at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Improv.
In conjunction with the DVD release of the film Funny People, the comedy club encouraged jokesters to send their material to ijoke.com. Marcus was one of the three top contenders and received a trip to Las Vegas to perform for a panel of judges including Budd Friedman, an owner and talent booker with the Improv. The winner will receive a paid six-night run at the Las Vegas Improv later this year.
How did you get involved with the ijoke competition?
I saw an ad for it on a comedy website, and I submitted a video and I got an email a few weeks later saying I was selected for the top five. To get from the top five to the top three, you had to bother every one of your friends to vote online. I actually had the most votes. It made me feel like people actually gave a crap, which was kind of cool. I’ve always wanted to work at the Improv. Just to meet Budd Friedman would be amazing.
What is it like doing comedy shows at colleges? Do you end up at frat parties afterwards?
At the college shows I’ve done, we’ve not been allowed to hang out with the students at parties afterwards even though we’re usually invited. I don’t think I have a bad reputation; I have no idea why they always say that. But I’ve never partied with any of them after the show because we’re never allowed to. College shows are a little weird, but I love doing them. They’re weird because you have to take out all the bad language and inappropriate material and replace it with other words. Then it just comes off kind of weird. At one college show in Maine, it just seemed like I was forcing it to be clean. So I just said, “You guys are grown ups, right? You’re in college. Can I get a little dirty?” They hooted and hollered so I did my normal act and afterwards the bookers came out and said it wasn’t too bad, that I kept it clean enough. Maybe I’m not as dirty as I think.
What was your experience like at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival?
It was my first time doing a comedy festival. That’s actually why I stopped going to college. My school said you could only miss three classes and then you would fail. I had to be gone for a week for the festival, so I had to think if I thought I could make a career in comedy or did I want to finish up with a degree in criminal justice. So I just went to Vegas and they failed me and I never went back to school. The festival was so awesome, though. I learned so much. They had these seminars during the day that taught you how to set up a press kit and how to approach bookers for work. At that time in my career when I was just staring out, it was so helpful.
Do you have a favorite comedy festival experience so far?
Because I won the Best of the East at the Detroit Comedy Festival, I should probably say that. I almost didn’t get in. I was accepted as a backup and I had to fly myself out there and they said if someone dropped out then they’d put me on to compete. I decided I felt lucky, so I went. Someone found something better to do so I was put in. I went first, which is always worst for comedy. I ended up winning. It was the longest shot ever.
You are referred to as a “devoted student of the art of standup comedy.” Who are some of your biggest influences?
George Carlin. I grew up watching him when I was a kid. I’ve watched stand-up my whole life. I read every comedy book I can get my hands on. I’m a huge nerd. I read all the comedy Web sites and all the blogs. It’s the most interesting thing in the world to me.