In this edition of Run The Light we interview actor and comedian Adam Ray.

Ari: When did you first start stand up? What club was it at?
Adam: First time I went on stage was in Seattle at a club called Giggles. I spent hours preparing the 7 minutes I got. Rehearsed it over and over, so that I had it down word for word. I think that because of all my theater experience I felt that it needed to be performed, rather than delivered with timing. But I got some laughs, had some supportive friends there, and played a song about boners on my guitar that I’m thankful is not on the internet 🙂

Ari: Do you think your USC acting training affected your stand up, how so?
Adam: Definitely. The training I received at USC has been applicable to so many areas of my life. Standup is no exception. I came into college with this musical theater background. Everything was big and performed at the audience. I had a few teachers that really helped ground me, and take away the “pushing,” that happens with most people early on. They got me to a place where I listened, and reacted, and talked the way people talk in real life. And I think that’s why my standup is so conversational. I get feedback a lot that people feel like they’re just hanging out with me having a conversation. Which is cool, because that’s what I did in High School that gave me the idea to maybe bring it to the stage. That being said, I’m still paying off my student loans, and that sucks poop. Can I say poop?

Ari: You can say anything here! You have a reputation as standup/actor that is very dedicated to both, hitting the stand up scene hard in your earlier days, how do you feel about actors who try to use stand up as a stepping stone?
Adam: I feel fortunate to have such a strong background in acting. The training I got at USC and in London, where I studied abroad, have definitely helped prepare me for the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to get.  I think it’s smart. I think standup is a great way to be seen, and a great platform to showcase your voice in a way that makes people want to build a show around you. But you can’t fake it. Just like standup. The audience can tell. And in casting rooms, you can be super likable, and charming, and smell like Fabio, but if you can’t act, they know. Which is why if you’re serious about it, you gotta put in the work. I’m not saying you can’t “make it” without having an experience. Cause it happens all the time. But as far as having longevity, that’s where it comes in handy. And just like any passionate artist that loves what they do.  To be great in the moment, you gotta practice when nobody’s watching. That sounded much more profound in my head. Ha, but I think you get what I’m saying.

Ari: Seems like you have gotten some cool breaks this year with Workaholics, The Heat, performing stand up on TV, Headlining stand up, kind of a cheesy question but at what moment in your career did you feel like “you made it”?
Adam: When I had my face shoved in Sandra Bullock’s cleavage. Kidding, but that was a surreal moment. I was like, “shit, a year ago I was working at Universal Studios dressed as a 1940’s cop, telling people from Thailand where the bathroom was so they didn’t miss the next showing of the WaterWorld Live Action stunt show… and now I’m smelling the boobs of an Academy Award winner.”  And they smelled great. They smelled great Ari.

Ari: I’v never wanted to smell boobs so bad until today, any cool Sandra Bullock or Melissa McCarthy stories from the set of “The Heat”?
Adam: Spending a month in Boston with everyone was really pretty incredible. And since all my scenes were with Sandy and Melissa, I got to be pretty chummy with them. And while I was out there, I’d do standup almost every night.  One night, Sandy brought a crew from the film to see me, and the next day there was this whole article on the front of the Boston Globe about it. That was weird. Cool, but weird. I for sure thought the first time I’d make it into the Boston Globe would be from stealing apple fritters from Dunkin’ Donuts. Those are tasty mother fuckers.

Ari: What’s with the beard in the movie?
Adam: I grew my hair and beard out because I wanted to give Paul
( the director ) an option. Also, I look sleazier with all that. It’s amazing how facial hair transforms people. Not saying I don’t look like a douche without the facial hair, but the beard, combined with true religion jeans, and lots of weird dragon bedazzled bracelets, made it pretty easy to get into character.

Ari: How has the transition to headlining been, was it a long time coming or did you have to stretch your material in the beginning?
Adam: I’m 7 years into standup, and like most young comics, felt I was ready to headline 2 years in.  Why, because I had the material, or so I thought. I remember getting a chance to headline a great room in Seattle, where I grew up, so I invited a bunch of friends out. I was funny, but not funny for 50 minutes. I filled the time, but thankfully was able to be honest with myself about how it went, and realize that I still had a lot of work to do.

I’ve been featuring for the past 3 years. Guys like Bobby Lee, Harland Williams, Chris D’Elia, all who’ve become great friends of mine, and who were really instrumental in the growth I’ve had in the past 3 to 4 years.  The road is necessary. Getting out of LA and seeing your material work in places you’ve never been to is both exciting and inspiring.  I’ve been getting up every night for the past 7 years, often two or three times a night, so that when this opportunity to headline came about, I’d be confident to deliver. It’s so fun to headline. You’re on stage for an hour versus 20 minutes, and you have a chance to really develop a relationship with an audience so they can get to know you. You have the opportunity when you feature, but your job is more about doing well and setting it up for the headliner.  It was intimidating at first. Headlining is a different beast. Pace is key. Having a beginning, middle and end to your set. Figuring out how to open, and close, these are all things I’m learning as I go.  It’s just another aspect of the art that makes you want to get up again right after you got off.

Ari: What were your biggest influences in comedy?
Adam: “In Living Color” was a big one. It was the first thing I can remember really being in awe of, and laughing so hard every time I watched it. It was also on past a time I was supposed to be up, so there was that added element of mystery to it all. The way they all were able to make larger than life characters seem like real people was fascinating to me. Then when “Ace Ventura” came out, I memorized the whole movie and would perform it on the bus before school and kids fucking loved it, which was odd, but fun. Doing that started me on the path of impersonating teachers and friends, and although I did have a knack for matching voices and mannerisms, no other kid was doing it, so it could have just been that my competition was minimal.:)

Ari: Do you have any advice for other young handsome Jewish comedians coming up?
Adam: Ha. I mean my advice for young comedians, which I still am, but to the real early beginners, is be fearless. It’s a big problem with most comics starting out, especially in LA, that you wanna be so good so fast. It just doesn’t happen. Develping a point of view takes time, and getting up a lot. Writing, experimenting, and most importantly, failing. It’s easy when you start out to only be concerned with “did I crush tonight?” You don’t learn when you crush all the time. It’s when you don’t that you get better. Cause it forces you to be reflective on what happened, and not just cruise to complacency.  Also, don’t wear a backwards baseball hat. I did for the longest time, and Bobby Lee and Bryan Callen both would give me shit for it. Bobby would say “you’re not 20, stop wearing a hat. You look better without it.” And Bryan would say, “you have such luxurious free-flowing hair, let it breathe young warrior.” I started becoming better friend with them after that coincidentally.

Ari: You also host the “About Last Night podcast” with Brad Williams, you guys have had a lot of really awesome guests, if you could have anyone as a guest for a future episode who would it be?
Adam: Doing the podcast came about so unexpectedly.  Brad and I knew each other from attending USC together, but weren’t great friends. I started going on the road and opening for him, and of course spending all that down time together makes you closer.  When he first asked me to do the podcast with him I thought “everyone has a podcast, I don’t wanna just be another show that saturates the market.” But knowing that it’d be two of us instead of just one person, like most podcasts, had an interesting appeal to me.  We’ve been doing it over a year, and have developed a strong following.  We both get people coming to shows just from the podcast.  The goal is to start doing live shows with it and eventually theaters like the big dogs Adam Carolla and Maron.  And yea, through our relationships in the comedy world, we’ve have had some pretty awesome guests on.  Coming up this month we’ve got Paul Feig, the director of The Heat, Bridesmaids, The Office, and 30 Rock. Whitney Cummings, Dane Cook, Michael Rappaport, David Krumholtz.  Not only has it been fun, but it’s another avenue that helps develop a skillset that ends up being super handy in situations you weren’t anticipating.

Ari: Any new projects in the works?
Adam: Using some of the momentum from THE HEAT, I’m starting to go around to several production companies and networks pitching shows I’ve been developing for a few years. It’s also giving me opportunities to headline around the country, which I love. My buddy Adam Devine has a hilarious new standup showcase show for Comedy Central coming out in the fall called HOUSE PARTY, and I’m on that. I’m also getting more auditions, and trying to book that next acting job. It never stops. The hustle, the grind, never being fully satisfied, it’s a blessing and a curse. I can only speak for myself, but that feeling of never being satisfied pushes me to strive for more. Sometimes the business becomes overwhelming and a bit frustrating, and you can easily lose sight of why you got into it in the first place; because it’s fun.  Which is why flying home to see my 4 year-old twin nieces is so important. Not only because I love and miss them so much, but when I’m with them, I’m in their world, and completely forget about mine. They’ll get excited about a weird looking leaf, or laugh really hard when they add the word poo-poo to a Taylor Swift song.  It’s genius.

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