Mohr or Less: The talented headliner loses his originality—and his edge

Photo: Bill Hughes
Jason Harris

Two stars

Jay Mohr November 7, South Point.

You know things aren’t going well when a joke draws such a paltry response, its teller chides the audience, “My Showtime special disagrees with you.” Such was the case with talented funnyman Jay Mohr Saturday night at the South Point, during a bit about how homophobia isn’t really a phobia because you’re not really afraid of gay people. In the audience’s defense, it wasn’t the most original bit. In Mohr’s defense ... yikes.

I’ve been a fan of Jay Mohr since his tumultuous days on Saturday Night Live in the mid-1990s. His was my favorite Christopher Walken impression, and his utilization of the character on the “Christopher Walken’s Psychic Friends Network” was one of the great sketches of the era. Since that time, Mohr has always had a bit of an edge to him, whether as the conniving agent Bob Sugar in Jerry Maguire or as the host of his popular talk radio show Jay Mohr Sports.

But that edge was nowhere to be found during his Vegas show. Instead what we got were jokes like this: Mohr’s penis is so small he pees on his balls! Heard that one before? It’s standard open-mic work. Mohr says he’s horrible at sex, going for “16 seconds straight.” But somehow before he’s done his wife has had multiple orgasms. Sounds pretty bad. Mohr wants to play a joke on his wife, so he sends his son inside to explain to his mother that “Daddy’s dead.” He then sits in his car for 45 minutes waiting for the joke to work, as if Mohr’s wife wouldn’t come out and tell him to knock it off.

That wife is actress Nikki Cox, credited as the writer of the aforementioned Showtime special, Happy. And A Lot. But the night’s best material was Mohr’s own stuff. The story of Al Pacino stopping him from killing a bird because it might have a family. The tale of Tracy Morgan fighting off an entire audience but refusing to fight Mohr. And the well-known closer of his conversation with Christopher Walken, in which Walken explained why he’d rather have a tail than be able to fly. Mohr’s ability to wring humor from such yarns helps make him a good impressionist. It’s less about accuracy and more about taking something you know about a person and accentuating it on a grander scale.

It would have been nice to get similar hyperbole from Mohr’s life rather than retrofitted jokes that often missed the mark. On this night, what was needed was more Mohr.

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