If you don’t know Bobby Jaycox, this message exchange will sum him up in a nutshell:
Me: Hey Bobby, would you be willing to do an interview for my blog?
Bobby: No fuck you.
Bobby: Damn auto correct. Yes I would love to.
Bobby is quick-witted and naturally funny. He’s a comedy all-star, killing it in improv shows and stand up gigs alike. He was a finalist in this year’s RFT Standup Throwdown, the founder of the Jilly’s Comedy Showcase, a writer on STL Up Late and my teammate on Bluebeard. He probably does other comedy related stuff too in between his job fighting fires and his misadventures with the opposite sex. Just ask him.
He’s the kind of guy you want to hate because he’s so fucking talented, but it’s impossible to hate him because he’s so fucking funny and so fucking nice.
So hate him if you dare.
Meet Bobby fucking Jaycox:
Why did you get into improv? How long have you been doing it?
To hit on Alexis Govreau…that was the initial reason. We both went to a show at the Gaslight Theater, and I fell in love immediately with The Improv Shop and Alexis Govreau (who is still my good friend). I knew I had to start taking improv classes, and I knew it had to be at The Improv Shop.
I started playing around with improv at a young age because my dad and I loved Who’s Line is it Anyway. When I was in grade school, I would make my friends play the games from the show. I also dabbled with improv in Jr. High and High School in drama classes. I only started taking it seriously when I joined The Improv Shop over a year ago.
How would you describe your style of play? In other words, what sort of scenes/shows do you have the most fun doing?
I don’t know if I have a certain style, but I rarely pass up a dick joke in any scene (something I try and work on doing less). I think I’m a pretty high-energy player. I enjoy being absurd quite a bit – anytime there’s and option to be a superhero or a dying dog, I jump on it. I love being in a scene where everything is so clear that you turn your writing brain completely off and just live in the moment as completely different people. Those moments happen, and usually the audience can tell. It feels completely effortless. In those scenes you talk less, use more body language and facial expressions, and it feels amazing as a performer.
Can you regale us with a tale about the best or worst scene/show you have ever done?
The last show with my Harold team Bluebeard was one of the most fun times I’ve had on stage. Ben Noble (this guy who has a dumb blog that nobody likes) and I got to be policemen who ride horses. Ben was dragging a dead guy behind him. We later got to ride those horses aka Rafe Williams and Todd Towers. Rafe and Todd initiated the scene as horses, they bent over on the chairs to be on all fours and Ben and myself leapt on top of them. They had an entire horse conversation while we just rode them. That scene picture was fun. Oh, and Andy Sloey was the dead guy flopping around behind the horse as it dragged him along.
What do you do to find inspiration for improv? In other words, do you have a life? If so, how do you spend it (besides pretending you are someone else on stage in front of large groups of people)?
I have been doing stand up comedy for the past 4 years, and that was my inspiration to seek out improv. I wanted to keep expanding myself and make my stand up better. I really wanted to get out of my head and use different brain muscles.
But now, I’m inspired by the people of The Improv Shop. I would say 30% of me does it for the actual improv and 70% is in it for the kick ass people. I’m not sure if that’s shitty, but it’s how I feel at this point.
Can you share some words of wisdom with those just starting out?
Do not fucking be afraid to fail. I promise you, you will become better as an improviser if you just commit to what you’re doing, even if it sucks. It’s what I wish I had done more.
Find a group of people you love being around and improvise. Just play with them as much as possible, push them and let them push you. If at any point you get depressed, just fucking show up to The Improv Shop and hang out. You will almost always feel better. Also remember that feeling when you are happy and you see someone bummed the fuck out by the bar. Be the person that makes them not sad anymore. Is this too far off track? Fuck it.
But most importantly, don’t fall in love with Katie Cook. You’ll get drunk and then you’ll tell her you think she is hot and then you’ll throw up in her car and then she will pass you over to John Langen (who you will also throw up on) and the two of you will have to sleep on the floor at The Improv Shop all night, and the next morning you will have to walk to your car in just a vomit t-shirt and a quilt with a bunch of holes in it, and families will look at you weird and then you will have to miss your improv practice and feel super shitty the whole day. BUT if John likes you he might just buy you Burger King and take a hung over selfie with you because he is a nice fucking guy!!
Moral of the story…life is short, get drunk and eat a shit ton of fast food.
What was the question?
What is the best improv advice or note you have ever received?
One of the simplest pieces of advice I ever received (but I still remember because it makes so much sense) was from John Langen. Some of us had a hard time creating in a scene but even a harder time listening. So what he said was something to this effect.
“Do you want to know how to be a better listener…?” Then he paused for a bit and said, “whatever you just did to get ready to hear my advice, that’s how you listen.”
It blew my mind how simple it really is.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned from improv that translates to your real life?
I think the best lesson is that when you are a kid, you play with your imagination to the fullest, but somewhere along the way you get boring and don’t play as much. Improv reminds me to play and not take life, or myself, too seriously.
Do you have anything going on that you’d like to plug?
Is this where I make a butt plug joke? Just imagine me holding a butt plug while plugging my stuff.
-August 6th I will be hosting and performing at the very first Funny Bone Showcase in Valley Park.
-August 21-24 I will be at Deja Vu in Columbia, MO
-August 23rd is my birthday
-September 10th Steve Raines and I will takeover The Improv Shop for a night of stand up, improv, and our dumb brains.
-Check out STL Up Late on YouTube. Season 3 starts Saturday September 13th
-Check out my team Bluebeard on Facebook.
-Check out me throwing away this butt plug.
What St. Louis improviser(s) would you like to see answer these questions?
John Langen, Steve Raines, Lorne Cox
(Optional…well, more optional than the others). Is there a video, podcast episode, blog post etc about improv that you find particularly inspirational or inspiring?
TJ and Dave were profiled on this RadioLab podcast. They basically say that when the lights are off before the show, there are a limitless number of characters and relationships floating around in space. When the lights come up they just step into an almost predetermined character/story that already exists. So in a way you can’t fail because the thing already existed. Or something like that…it makes sense to me.