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Jesse Joyce: He is Doing Exactly What He Said He would do When He was 11. Can You Say That?
Recovery Comedians, Comics Anonymous, Recovery Comedy, Recovery Comic, Clean and Sober Comedy
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Recovery Comedian Jesse Joyce

Jesse Joyce started his comedy career in Pittsburgh in 1998. In 2001 he made the move to New York City and has been earning a reputation as a rising star on the comedy scene with performances loved by crowds around the world, and a writing style admired and respected by comedians at every level. Spawned from a family of lawyers, professional jugglers, an army ranger and a circus clown, Joyce developed his own unique brand of comic charisma which he brings to the standup comedy stage entwining distinctively intelligent material and high energy performance.

In television, Joyce has made appearances on the BBC’s How Clean is Your House, Date Night for AMC, Comedy Central’s inaugural season of Live at Gotham, Entertainment Tonight, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’s “Pass The Mic” and Stand-Up 360 with Caroline Rhea. In 2010 he was a top 20 Semi-Finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Currently, Joyce can be seen regularly on RedEye with Greg Gutfield on the Fox News Network where he brings his acerbic wit to bear on the events of the day.

In October 2009 shooting wrapped on Stags, a feature film produced by Ben Barenholz of Raising Arizona, Barton Fink and Requiem for a Dream and starring Joyce the dark comedy is about four New York City permanent bachelors.

Since 2007, Jesse has/had been the behind-the-scenes half of the long time Comedy Central Roast writing partnership with the late, great Greg Giraldo for Comedy Central and Joel Gallen’s Tenth Planet Productions including the Comedy Central Roast(s) of David Hasselhoff, Joan Rivers, Larry the Cable Guy, Bob Saget and Flavor Flav. His roast writing talents were also utilized for the TBS Celebrity Roast of Cheech and Chong. 

Joyce’s successful writing for the Comedy Central programs led to his being requested to write Comedy Central’s Burned! The Roasts’ Most Outrageous Moments and for The Comedy Central Roast(s) of Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen. Joyce’s writing has been utilized by Joan Rivers on TV Land’s How’d You Get So Rich? and can be found in print as part of Penguin Books, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jokes. Jesse’s work in TV, Radio and Print advertising has won him several American Advertising Awards as far back as 2001. Jesse can be heard on the XM and Sirius Satellite Radio where his acclaimed CD Joyce to the World is part of the regular rotation. His reoccurring appearances on the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom Morning Show, have become listener favorites and led a featured performance on their CD As Big As A Hat.

Jesse has entertained audiences across America as well as in 15 countries on 4 continents with his live show at clubs, colleges, and festivals. An established performer with the USO, he has performed overseas on numerous occasions. In addition to his busy club and college schedule, Joyce has appeared at the TBS Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, and in 2008 was selected to participate in the Great American Comedy Festival; a festival sprung of Johnny Carson’s legacy. When not headlining clubs or performing all around New York City he can be seen in theaters as part of The Comedy Addiction Tour where comics bring humor and poignancy to the struggles of addiction.

Recovery Comedy:  What were you like as a kid?

Jesse Joyce:  I was a pretty funny kid.  I told everyone since I was 11 that I wanted to be a comic.  There’s an interview with the local newspaper I have from when I was 12 that asked my whole class what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I said a stand-up comedian… which means I win, because Phil Bayer is not an astronaut.  I’m the only kid from my class who’s doing what he said he was gonna do when he was 12.

Recovery Comedy:  What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing?

Jesse Joyce:  My Uncle Mike did stand-up for a few years back in the late 80’s and that was during my crucial development years… I thought that was the coolest thing in the world that I knew someone who was a stand-up comedian…  Also, because I had a family member who did it, it seemed like a viable career option.   So I started setting up my own shows when I was 17, and at 18 got a job as the bar back/janitor of the Pittsburgh Funnybone just so I could be in the environment.  It was great because if one of the comics was running late or they missed a flight, they’d throw me up for a few minutes.  So at this point I’ve been doing stand up for about 15 years.

Recovery Comedy:  Were you performing stand-up comedy before you got into recovery? 

Jesse Joyce:  I was… Oddly, I didn’t start drinking till I turned 21, so I only had about 5 really good years of tearing it up on the road… but because I had no real responsibility other than make sure I could get on stage by 8pm,  it got out of control really fast.

Recovery Comedy:  Who are your comedy idols?

Jesse Joyce:  The guys who are and were my favorites to watch are Louis CK, Greg Giraldo, John Stewart, Norm MacDonald, and Dave Attell… I think those guys are/were really the best in the business.  

Recovery Comedy:  Where does your inspiration for material come from? 

Jesse Joyce:  Just stuff I’ve been through mostly…  Getting sober, living in recovery in the comedy business, my marriage, the implosion of aforementioned marriage, my extensive travels etc…  I usually am inspired to talk write jokes about things I’ve been through…  it’s a cathartic thing to take stuff that might have been difficult or painful to go through and to find the humor in it… and then to explain it in such a way that others can relate to it and find the humor in it as well… Most likely someone in the crowd has been though something similar and it will really resonate with them, and hopefully I can help them to find a way to laugh at their own situation.

Recovery Comedy:  What is your joke writing process? 

Jesse Joyce:  I used to be pretty meticulous about it… I’d say it on stage the way I wrote it verbatim… but these days, once you have as many years of stand-up under your belt as I do, I feel like I can bring an idea to the stage and shape it while I talk it out. 

Recovery Comedy:  What is your kryptonite? 

Jesse Joyce:  Women in their 50’s.   I’m not saying ALL women in their 50’s have a problem with what I say on stage, in fact plenty come up afterwards and say they had a great time… but the ONLY people who ever seem to have a problem with something I said on stage happen to be women in their 50’s.

Recovery Comedy:  Is your family supportive of your comedy career?

Jesse Joyce:  100% .  I made a deal with my parents years ago, that I could move to NYC with their full support behind me perusing stand-up as long as I got a college degree… so once I did that, they signed off on their oldest boy traveling the world like a circus gypsy.

Recovery Comedy:  Is comedy part of your healing process? 

Jesse Joyce:  Totally.  As I said earlier, being able to laugh about something painful or dark for me is the most cathartic thing in the world.  It seems to be a healing thing for the audience as well.  I do tons of shows at rehabs, AA conventions and half way houses and a lot of times, newcomers come up to me afterwards and tell me that the show was the first time they laughed since they got sober… cause let’s face it, no one quits drinking on a high note… so they can see that I’ve managed to stay sober for over 7 years now in an industry cluttered with abuse and I’m having a pretty good time with it in sobriety… it has a hopeful quality to it, I suppose.

Recovery Comedy:  What was your worst experience performing comedy? 

Jesse Joyce:  I did a show once at 3 in the afternoon on the back of a flatbed truck – with no mic – just using a megaphone – in  a field in Altoona, Pennsylvania for 400 drunk prison guards.  Oh… can I add that to my “comedy kryptonite” question…  I forgot to include “hundreds of drunk prison guards.”

Recovery Comedy:  What was your best experience performing comedy?

Jesse Joyce:  Getting the respect of guys I idolize is probably the coolest thing for me.  Greg Giraldo was always one of my favorites and I got the greatest opportunity of my career in getting to not only tour with him for 5 years, but form a writing partnership and a really close friendship in that time.  Also, once recently after a show I did at the Improv in LA, Louis CK went out of his way to come up to me and tell me that he really liked my set.  Stuff like that means more to me than any of the TV shows I’ve done…  Also, getting to tour around the Middle East for a month doing shows for the troops in ’08.  We performed all over Iraq, on a battleship, an aircraft carrier, tents in Djbouti Africa, a base in Saudi Arabia…  it was one of the coolest months of travel I ever had.

Recovery Comedy:  What is your favorite joke?

Jesse Joyce:  You gotta see my act.  Right now my favorites are about the fact that now that my wife left, how reassuring it is that now I don’t have to deal with having a wife in the apocalypse, and one about my struggle with quitting smoking.   My favorite “joke joke”  - like not one in my act, but one of those jokes in the ether that gets told at bars and stuff is “What’s the worst thing you can hear when you’re going down on Willie Nelson?  - I’m not Willie Nelson”  hehe.  – I acknowledge that that joke will probably get cut from this interview, but you asked…

Recovery Comedy:  What is your comedy dream? 

Jesse Joyce:  Honestly, I feel like just the simple fact that I’m doing what I said I was gonna do when I was a kid is pretty awesome.  I feel like I’m living it…  Just the simple fact that I pay my cell phone bill with money I got from jokes is living the dream.  That having been said, I’d love to host the White House Correspondents dinner someday.

Recovery Comedy:  Thanks so much for taking the time to be interviewed.  We look forward to working with you many more times at future recovery shows.

To find out more information about Jesse Joyce or to book him for your next Recovery Event just click here!

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