The comic’s grind
Jason Anderson shows what it means to hustle in Sacramento’s comedy scene
Today is the best day of Jason Anderson’s life.
When he first started telling people that, he hoped it would become his truth. “How are you doing?” someone would politely, but most likely rhetorically, ask. “Best day of my life,” he’d lie in response.
He had just gotten out of River City Recovery Center in Herald, Calif. after getting clean long enough to convince his parents to loan him some more money. He used drugs and alcohol for years, and after his addiction reached a severe point, something stuck.
“I got a month clean and my mind got a little bit better,” he said. “I got involved in the community and I’ve worked with other alcoholics and drug addicts and I started feeling like a better person.”
With work around his sobriety, every aspect of his life improved—his marriage, his career as a private investigator and a project he’d worked on about three years: his stand-up.
When Anderson took his first stand-up class at Sacramento Comedy Spot, he didn’t have much reason for stage fright. He had already bombed in the worst way.
He was about 14, performing a long set of monologues in A Chorus Line, when he repeated himself and broke character.
“I said, ’No, wait. Hold on a second,’” he said, recounting the rules of live theater he’d defied. “I broke character, I told them to wait a minute. That was the worst feeling I ever had.”
Traumatic childhood experience aside, he continued to be drawn to performance. He wrote and starred alongside his friend in an episode of Bridezillas and tried stand-up after an early-onset midlife crisis in his 30s.
In his first set, he made a joke about having sex with John Ross, who taught the class at the Comedy Spot.
“He made a joke about having sex with me? I actually don’t remember that,” said Ross, who now runs the new STAB! Comedy Theater on Broadway. “He definitely has an absurd side to him, which I like a lot.”
Anderson, like many creatives, can see the weak spots in his early sets. He focused a lot on being gay, a topic he throws casually into his newer sets. He remembers seeing his father squirm during the first show he attended, as Anderson sang “Jimmy’s sucking dick,” into the mic while playing his guitar. With practice, he learned to opt more for substance and rely less on shock humor. And he has practiced a lot.
“Yeah, pretty much every night,” he said, except Wednesdays. Those are date nights. “Sacramento’s great because most nights you can get up at least one time,” for an open-mic.
The comedians who make up the Sacramento scene are so talented, he said, it drives everyone to be funnier.
“Every single week you’re challenged to write a little bit better, to do something different,” Anderson said.
In late June, he competed with 29 other comics, many from the Sacramento area, for the Comedy Spot’s annual Sacramento Stand-Up Competition. And although he didn’t take home one of the cash prizes, his work ethic shows no signs of slowing down. He’s even returning to Sac City College to finish up his associate’s degree. And to top it off: He’s currently on a bill with Ludacris and Vanilla Ice for the XO Festival in mid-July in Antioch.
“With Jason, I enjoy watching him perform but I also like seeing his opportunities, where I’m like, holy shit, he’s got this or he did that,” Ross said. “He’s actively participating rather than waiting for stuff to happen.”
Anderson said he’s just focused on doing the right thing every day, and now he can honestly say today is the best day of his life.
“I was lying when I first started saying it,” he said. “After a while it started being the best day of my life. I kinda kept saying it and it wasn’t a lie anymore.”