An Interview with Jay Larson, Star of Esquire Network’s ‘Best Bars in America’.

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April 1, 2015 |  by  |  An Interview With..., My Stories

Many of you might know who Jay Larson is. He might look oddly familiar.

You may have seen him on Comedy Central or any of his multiple performances on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’. Or it was possibly one of his epic sets from ‘Conan’, including this one, which went viral and garnered over a million hits in one day…

If you didn’t see him there, perhaps maybe you’ve heard his thick Boston accent on one of over 140 ‘CrabFeast’ podcast episodes that he does with mutual friend and comedian, Ryan Sickler.

Skirball final

Kyle Cease, Me, My wife Jen, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jay and Natasha Leggero back in the day. They all performed on a benefit at the Skirball Center that me, Jen and Louie Anderson put together to benefit battered and abused women and children of the Greater Los Angeles area.

And if all this hasn’t rung a bell yet, maybe, just maybe you watched him on last season’s breakout hit ‘Best Bars in America’ on the Esquire Network, which enjoys it’s season 2 premiere on Wednesday, April 1st at 9pm EST.

So that’s how YOU know might know Jay.

How do I know Jay?

Larson and Adrian at bachelor party

Having a great time at my bachelor party at a lake house in California.

I met Jay for the first time around 2004 in a Ross Dress for Less on Lincoln Boulevard on the westside of Los Angeles. Don’t ask why, but we were goin’ after the same pair of sexy bedroom lounge pants to wear to the exact same after-hours pajama party that evening.

Later that night, we got to talking, and it just so happened that Jay was bartending at one of my local spots in Santa Monica, the World Café as it was formerly known. He and I became friends, but not only that, as a TV development executive and comic booker for CBS – I couldn’t help but notice his raw talent.

Larson at DC Improv

Jay waits to be called onto stage at the DC Improv.

He was one of the most hard-working, earnest, persistent (he once showed up at my office asking to be my assistant) genuine people I’d met in my time there.

Jay and I have been friends for over ten years now. In fact, I was honored to have him stand by my side as a groomsman in my 2008 wedding, only a few miles away from where he grew up. His mom played the piano at our service.

Larson Krick Jeff and Adrian at wedding

Behind the scenes, moments before I got married in Boston. Jay examines one of my wedding gifts, a 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt rookie card.

I couldn’t be more excited for his success.

But, there’s a lot that you still don’t know about him – there’s a lot more to the guy doing ‘boot shots’ at neighborhood dives and cracking jokes with his co-star, Sean Patton.

ADRIAN: Jay, what’s up dude?

JAY: Hey Buddy, long time listener, first time caller, or something like that!

ADRIAN: We’re super excited for you this week, with the season 2 premiere of ‘Best Bars in America’. For those who haven’t had a chance to see it yet, can you tell us a little bit about the show, some of the places you’ve been and where you’re headed this season?

JAY: Yeah man, I’m excited too, it’s such a fun show and we’ve had so much fun on season one and season two tops that! Except for me playing catch at Fenway Park!

Jay tossing balls at Fenway

Jay gets an opportunity of a lifetime. Playing catch at Fenway.

But this season is great, we go to Chicago and SF for complete episodes. We did both cities in the pilot episode so now we do full episodes there. This season we had some great celebrity guests and fellow comedians on the show which was great. But what I loved most was going to some smaller, lesser known cities. Minneapolis, Louisville and Detroit are all awesome cities and we drank them all up.

What’s great about the show is that people always watch episodes of cities they’re going to for work, or cities they visit or just because they love drinking culture and want to learn more about these places. Most people have no reason or think they don’t have any reason to go to Minneapolis until they watch the show and find out that Minny is the only city in America where you can feather bowl.

ADRIAN: What in the hell is a feather bowl?

JAY: Don’t ask, I’m not gonna tell you, watch the show!

ADRIAN: You’re such a dick.

ADRIAN: The viewers may not know this, but you’re a fairly new father. Your son, Reid, just recently turned one. How does it feel to be a dad?

Jay and Reid

Jay spending a lazy afternoon with his son, Reid.

JAY: Well, as you know, I’ve always wanted to be a Dad. I literally had boys and girls names written in my 5th grade notebook. I love it more than anything in the world. Reid just turned one and he is hilarious, he’s such a little adventurer and I love torturing him! P.S. He loves it too!

And surprise, we have a baby girl coming in September!

ADRIAN: WOAH. I didn’t see that one coming. Congratulations, my man!

JAY: (smiles) Thanks… so it’s good that we got the second season out of the way now. Because the show is great and a lot of fun but I miss Kate and Reid like crazy…

ADRIAN: I can imagine being on the road is tough sometimes. Between your touring schedule and shooting a TV show, how do you manage your time with your family when you’re home?

Jay Kate and Reid

Jay, his wife Kate and Reid bask in the glow of a Southern California afternoon.

JAY: Well, Kate travels for work as well, so sometimes it can get real tough. But when we’re both home we spend as much time together as possible. We make going to the grocery store an adventure with Reid.

We try to make everything an adventure. We especially love all the ‘firsts’. Ice cream, the ocean, the observatory, sucking on a lime for the first time!

Yeah I gave him a lime, he didn’t dig it.

I told you I torture him.

ADRIAN: You and I have talked about this before and I know that you sometimes mention it on stage – you grew up being raised by most of the women in your family, right? Your mom and Aunts? What was that like?

Jay and Adam Larson

Jay and his brother, Adam, pajama’d up and hitting dreamland.

JAY: Well it wasn’t even my Aunts, it was my great aunts.

So, I was raised by a single mom and I have two sisters and a brother, so we were a lot to handle.

But my Nana and her three sisters were always around. I loved being around them, I guess I didn’t know it any other way.

I learned a lot about women from them and life. But as far as being a Dad now, and not having a Dad around then, really makes me take advantage of every moment with him. It’s such precious time.

ADRIAN: I hear that.

JAY: At the same time I try to not to baby him. I know that sounds weird, “I try not to baby, my baby”, but I try to raise him like he’s my second kid. I let him explore, fall and run into traffic. I’m just kidding he doesn’t walk yet.

ADRIAN: Does your upbringing play a role in how you approach fatherhood? I guess what I’m getting at is, do you think you put any more or less pressure on yourself?

JAY: I don’t put any pressure on myself at all.

I think I work harder to maybe make more money. But not to make money to be rich, to make money so I won’t have to work when my kids have activities in high school, etc. I felt pretty comfortable the first time I got on stage but I have never felt more comfortable than I do being a Dad.

I just trust the world around me and the world that Kate and I have created and I know we are going to do a great job with him. Of course there will be bumps in the road, but you gotta enjoy those too.

I guess sometimes I fear that he won’t love me, because I have never had that type of relationship with my Dad. But anytime those thoughts come up I try to push them out and realize how lucky I am to have such a great little guy. And, to realize that I couldn’t do any of it without my amazing wife…

ADRIAN: Right on, I dig it. So… I think I recently saw one of your Facebook or Instagram posts where you made a list of ten things that you wanted to do with your son. Maybe it’s changed since then, but would you mind sharing?

JAY: It’s always changing, and growing. There’s so much I can’t wait to do with him but here are some…

  • Teach him to growl. (Did that at 4 months)
  • Teach him to ride a bike. (I remember teaching myself)
  • Getting chinese food with him on New Years.
  • Tell him stories about his grandfather and his great grandfather.
  • Have a beer with him before he’s 21.
  • Play Catch!
  • Teach him that you always order pancakes for the table.
  • Give him $ for a date.
  • Tell him funny stories about his mom.
  • Live above his garage when I’m old.

ADRIAN: Ha! I think half of those are on my list, too – except for the flapjacks, I keep those to myself.

ADRIAN: Listen bro, I know you’re a busy man, especially this week, so I’ll wrap it up here.

With all these experiences over the last few months, visiting different cities and bars, I’m curious about three things: Favorite city, favorite drink and craziest story from the road.

JAY: Favorite city will always be Boston, my home.

But some places I thought were amazing, Sonoma, Louisville, Austin, Detroit.

Sean Patton and Jay Larson on BBIA

Sean Patton and Jay Larson, co-hosts of ‘Best Bars in America’. Somehow I don’t think it was coincidence that gold-framed picture splits the difference.

My favorite drink changes on my mood, but I love bourbon and Basil Haden is my favorite to sip on and Jefferson Presidential for special occasions.

As far as crazy stories from the road…I guess playing dice in the back basement kitchen at a bar in Boston, chugging a cup of cinnamon and gagging in the sink over it while washing it down with shots of Gin was pretty epic. Oh, and did I mention my brother was with me? It was the best!

ADRIAN: That’s incredible – so are you. Best of luck and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks. Much love to you and the family.

Don’t miss my man, Jay, beginning Wednesday, April 1st at 9pm EST, every Wednesday on the Esquire Network – and while you’re at it, give him a follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

You can also follow the Esquire Network on Instagram and Twitter, as well as ‘Best Bars in America, also on Instagram and Twitter.




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