MVM – Tell us a little about yourself: Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Jordan – I was born and raised in Stoney Creek my whole life. Everyone in my family is Italian, so I was brought up on a steady diet of salami and sports, not that sports are specific to being Italian but I played a lot of them as a kid, soccer being my least favourite, yet another surprise. I have two older sisters who had an interesting influence on me, specifically the kinds of movies we watched on P.A days. I grew up for a stronger appreciation for things like the dancing of Patrick Swayze and the acting of Molly Ringwald, god rest their souls. (Molly Ringwald isn’t dead, however her career has been for a while). As a kid, I used to watch Saturday afternoon wrestling with my Nonna. It was the only thing that would keep me still for longer than 3 minutes. She loved Bruno Sanmartino. Lastly, my parents taught me about hard work and have always been supportive of my career path.
MVM – How long have you been into acting/comedy? How did you get interested and/or where did you get your start?
Jordan – Ever since I was a kid, I always loved to make people laugh. I remember watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air in like Grade 4 thinking to myself “this is the funniest guy I’ve ever seen”. The next day I went to class and basically did Fresh Prince gags for everyone and they loved it. In Grade 6, I knew all the words to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, so the kids in the class used to encourage me by banging their desks to the beat until I got up and just busted into the lyrics; this was the middle of the class while the teacher was trying to teach by the way. I loved it. I would walk up and down the aisles and sing the whole song like I inhabited the spirit of Freddy Mercury himself.
By that time, I had become a terror to deal with in class, but I was good at sports and generally a good kid so I was given the benefit of the doubt. However, I never saw acting or comedy as an outlet or a job. I was always content on doing impressions for people in the hallways or just going on rants for my friends. Then I got to my last year of high school and I was like “maybe if I take drama class I can somehow do comedy for a living”. So grade 13 I signed up for drama and told the teacher I wanted to be a comedian. I’m pretty sure she created a stand up comedy unit for me but she wouldn’t admit to it. It was right around the time Man on the Moon came out, so I was really interested in different types of comedy like Andy Kaufman’s disruptive practical joke type comedy and looking for ways to identify with that.
So I wrote some jokes and I found a grey beard wig. I decided I would start my set by coming out eating crackers and just staring at the audience. This last like 20 seconds until my a.d.d kicked in and I took it off and did my material. I think I did impressions of my Dad and some bits about Body Break. The class thought it was hilarious, so the next week I signed up for amateur night at Yuk Yuks in downtown Hamilton. Jason Rouse was hosting, it was 1999. I tanked. Tanked like no one has tanked before. The only laugh I got is when I lifted my arm for some reason only to reveal the largest pit stain a human being could ever develop under one’s arm. A few other Hamiltonian’s who work in the industry were also performing that night I remember; all of the Imponderables and the guy who helped me get into comedy and a person I owe a lot to, Manolis Zontanos.
I didn’t take the stage for another year. Got back on at Mohawk, where I was going to school at the time and did another set at lunch time. Tanked again. Then I went to university at Brock and studied Theatre and Dramatic Arts. I didn’t return to stand up until four years later.
While I was in university, I drove to Toronto for 3 years and studied Improv at Second City and the Bad Dog Theatre, so that really helped me to find my comedic voice as well. I finally did my 4th set at a coffee house in my last year of university for all my peers and faculty. I destroyed. Everyone knew I was funny as they had spent the last four years in class with me, but stand up is a different world. They thought I had been doing for much longer and were really impressed. It gave me a tonne of confidence to pursue it full time and in May of 2006, the month I graduated from Brock, I booked my first amateur night with Yuk Yuks and have never looked back since.
MVM – My favorite comedian is jim gaffigan, who would YOU say is youre favorite comedian and who are the performers that have influenced you the most?
Jordan – I have a few comedians that I really like and who have influenced me the most. In 2000, Dave Chappelle’s “Killing Them Softly” was the first stand up comedy I watched in its entirety. I taped it on VHS and I would watch it over and over again until I could recite it word for word. He is the best storyteller by far and his voice work and his continuity from joke to joke is just amazing. Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker was really influential for me as well for a lot of the same reasons. I know its en vogue right now, but I have always said that I am strongly influenced by Conan O’Brien and a huge fan. His silliness and his small gags and voices that he slides in throughout his show is something I love. I never thought Andy Kaufman was that funny but watching his life story in Man on the Moon really gave me the confidence to be different and not conform to any type of comedy, so I consider him and influence. Jim Carey and anything In Living Colour was like always on Sunday Nights when I was a kid. SNL in its haydays of the 90’s was also really influential. Finally, it all started with wrestling! I really identified with character acting in comedy when I was younger and then transitioned into a more sophisticated brand of comedy like stand up as I got older.
MVM – What elements are essential to a great comedic performance and how has performing comedy made you a better actor and vice versa?
Jordan – Different elements work for different people but I pride myself on a few things. When my sets are lacking one of these elements, I can usually point to one of these things. Energy is a huge thing for me because my jokes are best told with a certain amount of vigor. Strong stage presence. People can feel when your nervous, unprepared or down right scared. In return, they will eat you alive with their silence, so command their attention and have confidence. It’s your time to shine when your onstage, so soak in every minute because you never know when your next set will be.
This was never a problem for me for a few reasons. First, before I started comedy I had done shows in Improv classes and spent 3 years performing for classmates in school. Second, anyone who knows me will tell you I never get offstage to begin with. I am “always on”Ã‚Â and always making people laugh. If I were a Jersey Shore character my knick name would be “The Show”Ã‚Â or “The Salami”Ã‚Â because I love salami sandwiches. Actually I like prosciutto as well, NEVERMIND. Get on stage and develop you stage character. Who are you to the audience? What’s your angle? For me, I am Jordan with the volume turned way up. I am a charming Italian boy who has a tonne of energy and even more to say. I very rarely do dirty jokes and when I do I make sure they get laughs because that’s not who I am onstage unless the topic comes up. If I’m hosting and getting to know the crowd, then I will take more risks with sexual material because I will establish with the crowd that I am interested in getting to know them in a non-malicious way.
I’m just an Italian boy with an active imagination and a lot of questions! I’m like a bull in a china shop who just ate 3 bags of Splenda. Read/write material and get it on its feet. Read some stuff on comedy, learn how to write jokes and then sprinkle in your own unique touch. Then get onstage and tell them a few times to see how good they are. Don’t expect to go onstage and improvise 5-7 minutes unless that’s your angle but come onstage prepared. No one in the audience knows how long you have been doing comedy so just go up with confidence and with repetition and lots of sets, you will get better. Ask my friends, I have tanked a-plenty. Don’t get down on yourself if you do tank. Try and tape your sets and improve show to show.
MVM – I have seen you live many times and can say that I laughed all night, but describe the feeling if a joke flops and how you deal with it.
Jordan – If a joke doesn’t go well, I basically say something to address the failure. Nothing gets a better laugh than what’s happening in the present. In the beginning I would panic but after a while you realize that its part of the game and you have to prepare for these things because not everything you write is going to be funny. Now that I have been doing stand up and have some experience I am prepared to deal with this if it happens. I have stock lines that I use, that work for me onstage such as “Ok that wasn’t a joke as much as it was a sentence”Ã‚Â or “Honestly, I am HUGE in Vegas. I’ve opened for Carrot Top like twice”Ã‚Â. These work for me because my stage character is a person who is confident and would not admit defeat. Now if my backup fails, I usually go to a high energy F-U mode where I tell the crowd its their fault by saying “you know what, that is a funny joke. The only reason you aren’t laughing is because you are racist”Ã‚Â. Something like that.
MVM – What would your dream role be?
Jordan – Every since I was 12, I’ve always wanted to be on SNL. It’s been my dream job. I’d still love to accomplish that goal but right now, my goal is to make a living as a comedian and work towards my own 30-minute stand up special. For comedians in Canada, it’s the ultimate compliment and achievement to get your Comedy NowÃ‚Â special. It basically says you are on the map in Canada as a comic.Ã‚Â
MVM – Where can people catch you live? Any upcoming shows?
Jordan – Add me to Facebook and you can see my show dates on my frontpage, but I will be competing in Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh Off in Hamilton at the Upper James club, Thursday February 4th. The Finals for Hamilton are on February 18th and I fully intended on being there. Winner goes to Toronto against a mix of pro comics for a chance at 25 grand.Ã‚Â
MVM – Lasty, for somebody who is just starting out in comedy/acting, what advice would you give them?
Jordan – Don’t quit your day job. If comedy was easy, everyone would be doing it. Don’t get into comedy for the money. It’s a long road until you can actually make a living doing shows. It took Jim Carey almost 20 years in the entertainment business before he made Ace Ventura. If you are passionate and you love to perform, find all the open mics in your town, start getting onstage and work on your jokes. Talk to experienced comics, build relationships and show your face at shows. This is a face-to-face business. People want to work with their friends and other comics who they find funny. When you have a good show, hold your head a little lower. When you tank, hold your head a little higher. Other than that, just go onstage and have fun! That’s what comedy is all about.Ã‚Â