Posted by: Dan – Feb 07, 2012
Jesse Jarvis is a 25 year old catering chef who describes the nature of his work as "raising diabetes awareness for rich white people, one bacon wrapped filet mignon at a time." Born and raised in Richmond, Jesse has been doing comedy for a short, but undisclosed period of time that's taken him all over this fine state. He claims that he might have already left this city if it weren't for the fact that his art degree is weighing him down.
When asked about his first standup experience, Jesse stated: "It was at Cafe Diem's open-mic night and I performed to a bunch of people I didn't know, [as well as] two of my ex-girlfriends. It was short, awkward, and horribly performed. A lot like my relationships with those two ex-girlfriends."
I first met Jesse after one of his open-mic sets. His ten straight minutes of observational, Louis C.K.-esque self-deprecating humor stood out from the pack of would-be, aspiring comedians that mostly fell flat for me. I caught up with Jesse again at Bottoms Up Pizza, where he wooed me with a much longer and more refined set, which reinforced my initial hypothesis that the Richmond comedy scene was strong but overlooked.
Every-time Jesse takes the stage, he brings-the-funny for little or no money. It's his love of comedy that drives him. His passion for sharing his hilariously disparaging experiences with others appears therapeutic. Though Jesse is young, and one of the newer faces in the scene, his material has earned him the respect of his peers. Before he wiggles out from under the weight of his art degree and escapes RVA, look for Jesse at #ROFL @ The Republic tonight, or hosting every other Wednesday night at McCormack's Irish Pub.
1) Tell me about the moment you first knew you wanted to be a standup comic.
I always loved it. When I was a little kid I would see a Johnny Carson monologue or Bob Newhart do standup, so I assumed you had to be famous first before anyone would sit down and watch you talk into a microphone for an hour. So I thought I'd have to be a famous actor or talk show host first before I could do it. I see now that all you have to do is be willing to share your stories in front of a bunch of drunk strangers.
2) How do you best deal with hecklers?
It's difficult because sometimes when I'm bombing, deep down I know that they're right. That's a painful reality. Otherwise I just point out the obvious flaws in them, or how sad it is that they're heckling at a comedy show. I mean I know how desperate I am for attention--that's why I do stand-up comedy--but [to the heckler] what's your excuse? At least my desperation has a purpose.
3) What advice would you give an aspiring comedian with no stage experience?
You just have to get up and do it. A lot! No book you read or class you take could ever prepare you for the real thing. You just have to do it and keep working at it. Also, you learn more from having a bad set rather than killing it every time. That sounds weird, but anyone can do Carlos Mencia or Dane Cook style humor. Doing your own stuff in your own voice is much riskier, but even more worth it in the end.
4) I've heard that pudding is pretty popular with comedians. What is your favorite flavor of pudding and why?
Tapioca. I know that's the Dodge Caravan of all pudding flavors, but I like my pudding to have more texture to it than boring smoothness. When I see a boring vanilla or chocolate pudding I'm like, "What are you hiding, man?"
5) What are your thoughts on the Richmond comedy scene?
It's more exciting than people realize. This is a scene that sprang up from literally nothing. So the fact that now you have numerous times of the week to see FREE stand up comedy from people who are passionate about what they do, not making money off of it, and have a sense of realness to what they talk about, that's about as punk rock as it gets.
6) Outside of Richmond, what other venues/scenes do you like and why?
I like D.C. just because the talent is so strong there and being around it (along with any other major city) makes you want to get better. I also enjoy Charlottesville because they're a very smart and savvy scene, where you can really talk about whatever you want without worrying about it being over anyone's head.
7) Why did the chicken cross the road?
The chicken crossed the road because it understands its own pedestrian laws, because that's what America is all about.
Find Jesse on Twitter: Jesse Jarvis
Photos by Tyler M. Conta