John Lehr, the original Geico Caveman and star of Hulu's "Quick Draw", and Jay Martel, Emmy and Peabody award-winning comedy writer for "Key & Peele", come on to discuss their new project "Speed Bump".
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
This episode is a special treat.
John Lehr is an improvisational actor who has starred in a number of movies and TV shows. You might best know him as the “Geico Caveman” and his most recent show on Hulu “Quick Draw” which is, no kidding, one of my favorite shows. It’s a western that is improvised and it is wonderful.
Jay Martel is a Peabody award-winning writer and has also won an Emmy for his work on “Key and Peele” and is far too qualified to be on this podcast. He also writes for the “New Yorker” on a regular basis. He recently also wrote a book called “The Present” which is available on Audible and looks like it might be picked up for a movie.
This episode’s sketch: “Documentary on the Not-So-Superpowered”
Sketch Comedy Podcast Show is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
© Copyright 2022 Stuart Rice
SUBSCRIPTIONS & REVIEWS
MORE ABOUT THE GUEST
My father moved out of the house when I was ten and I started writing to make my mom laugh.
She was depressed a lot, so I tried to cheer her up with wishful thinking banged out on a loudly humming Selectric.
My writing since has all come from the same place: The need to take the edge off what life can throw at us while staying true to how absurd and strange it can be.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with many people who are funnier than I am: Ian Roberts, Michael Moore, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, Keegan Michael-Key, Jordan Peele, the Katydids, and Richard Curtis, to name a few. (Note to anyone who’s worked with me and has been kind enough to read this far, only to be greeted with non-inclusion in the last sentence: You were funnier, too.)
In the process, I’ve written comedy for magazines, basic cable, the stage, movies, books, before returning to basic cable, which is a great place to do a lot of different things while preserving your anonymity.
While I enjoy collaboration, writing for me is often a solitary, intimate act, something that happens between me and the paper or the screen. And every now and then it happens again: The moment of joy that comes from being surprised by a discovery, when reality gives way, if only for a moment, to the imagination.
Lehr starred as Leslie Pool in “10 Items or Less
,” from Sony on TBS for three seasons and recently starred as Sheriff Hoyle on Hulu’s original comedy western “Quickdraw
” for two seasons. Lehr also co-created, wrote and executive produced both series.
Lehr is one of the original Geico Cavemen
from the wildly successful commercial campaign. He appeared in dozens of spots, including the first commercial as a caveman boom operator, the caveman in therapy with Talia Shire, the tennis spot with Billy Jean King, Superbowl spots with Phil Simms and many more
Under their banner Howler Monkey Productions
, Lehr and producing partner Nancy Hower have created multiple projects, most involving their unique improvisationally-based “hybrid” style found in “QuickDraw
” (Hulu) “10 Items
” (TBS) “Jailbait
(Crackle) and “Memron
” (Slamdance award-winner). With Lehr starring and Howler directing, the team completed comedy pilots “Let It Ride,” (Comedy Central), “Retreat!” (NBC), “Team McPhearson (Fox) and “King of Beers” (EUE/Sokolow). The team’s script/development deals include “The Loop” (HBO), “Troubadour” (MTV), “Life on Mars” (Sony/BBC), and “LARP” (Echo Lake), Tommy Chong’s Pipe Dreams (TBS).
John has appeared in numerous television series
, including “Friends” and was a series regular on “Jesse,” both for Warner Brothers/NBC. His feature film roles include “The Sweetest Thing,” and three Noah Baumbach films, “Kicking and Screaming,” “Mr. Jealousy,” and “Highball.”
John’s hosting credits include “News Weasels” for E!; “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” for ABC; CBS’ special “Clash of the Commercials” with co-host Heidi Klum; and “John Lehr’s Movie Club” for TBS.
A recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Lehr is a seasoned monologist and comedian who speaks openly about his twenty plus years of sobriety. Under the banner “Cold. Sober. Comedy
.” Lehr performs and MC’s at fundraisers, non-profits and sober communities about his personal/career struggles, his continuing sober journey and the importance of an authentic sense of humor. Lehr recently debuted his newest monologue “Wait, I Have to Give a Crap About Other People?” at the Annual Sober St. Paddy’s Day Comedy Night for the Atlanta
Caron Treatment Center.”
Lehr’s critically acclaimed “Comedic Lectures
” solo performances have had sold out runs in LA and New York. He is also a respected improvisational performer having worked at the Organic Theater and Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, the Montreal Comedy Festival, Chicago Improvisational Festival and multiple venues in Los Angeles and New York. Lehr regularly performs stand-up
comedy and MC/Hosts events around the country.
John is married to author Jennifer Lehr with whom he has two children. The Lehrs reside in Los Angeles.
[00:00:00] Stuart: in this episode, john lair and J martell and little old me come up with a few sketch ideas. You remember the book, the kids, kids book about snitches. We shaved our head and then you see it and you're like, oh man, I gotta shave my head to and then it's just like how does that go? And it's just like we keep trying to grow hair, shaved hair. I don't know how that works out, but I've got a professional writer here, so I'm gonna
[00:00:24] John Lehr: let him
[00:00:25] Stuart: go marvel. Movies are all the rage, right? You're a superhero. But I like the concept of like a superhero, you're not really sure what to do with the power. So the ability to write anywhere as a, as a mutant power I think is pretty cool.
[00:00:38] John Lehr: That's a good idea
[00:00:40] Stuart: your situation where you're on stage and there's other things happening around you that maybe it's maybe it's not like the, the hockey thing, but like you, events are happening around you and people are still talking specifically to you about how bad you suck. Like everything else is going on around you. But you are the thing that's causing this to be terrible. Which one did we pick? You'll find out on this episode of, it's a sketch comedy. Welcome to sketch comedy podcast show. The one of a kind show where I Stewart rice invite interesting people to have intriguing conversations and then improvise a comedy sketch based on what we talked about this episode is a special treat. I'm going to give you a brief intro to both of these incredibly talented and funny human beings and try to get us right into the conversation, john lair is an improvisational actor who has starred in a number of movies and tv shows. You might best know him as the Geico caveman and his most recent show on Hulu Quick Draw, which is no kidding. One of my favorite shows, it's a western that is improvised and it is wonderful. J Martell is a peabody award winning writer and has also won an Emmy for his work on key and peele also one of my favorite tv shows and is far too qualified to be on this podcast. He also writes for the new yorker on a regular basis. He also recently wrote a book called The Present which is available on audible and looks like it might be picked up for a movie. Their latest project, Speed bump is a play performed in the backyards of fans. You can get tickets from the link in the show notes and now my conversation with john lair and J martell, john jay, thank you so much for coming on today.
[00:02:36] John Lehr: My pleasure. Really appreciate thanks for having us.
[00:02:40] Stuart: Oh no, it's it's absolutely my pleasure. Um, I've got a really quick question for you. What makes you interesting, john, I'll let you go first
[00:02:51] John Lehr: Go 1st. I'm so fast
[00:02:54] Jay Martel: go first for about a half an hour.
[00:02:56] John Lehr: I'm so fascinating on so many levels.
[00:03:00] Jay Martel: Your hair is really, I
[00:03:04] Stuart: mean the hair is impressive. I know I've got I'm follicly challenged that your hair is gorgeous, you and me both.
[00:03:10] John Lehr: You guys have good bold heads though. I I underneath this, it's, you know,
[00:03:14] Jay Martel: it's like, like a great Hitler or something like that,
[00:03:19] Stuart: I gotta be honest, nobody has ever given me a compliment on my hair, but they have given me a compliment on my head. Yes, yeah.
[00:03:27] John Lehr: Wonderful head.
[00:03:28] Stuart: More people have wanted to touch my head than they ever wanted to touch my
[00:03:32] John Lehr: hair. Nobody ever wants to touch my hair, but I do, it looks
[00:03:36] Stuart: like it might hurt.
[00:03:37] John Lehr: I get a lot of comments on my hair.
[00:03:39] Jay Martel: Your hair is like a beautiful princess that needs to be sort of admired from afar. Like, it's like, it's too much, it's too much if you touch it, it might burn you or something with, it's like,
[00:03:52] John Lehr: it's like a jew touching a crucifix.
[00:03:56] Stuart: No,
[00:03:57] John Lehr: don't. Does
[00:03:58] Stuart: it burn? I don't know, but I don't want to find out
[00:04:02] John Lehr: film kapoor tomorrow, and I was just at a shoot where they were gonna do like a christmas scene and and that it was in a jewish household and they were gonna hang up a wreath to make the front door and I was like, it'll catch the house on fire, don't mess with
[00:04:17] Jay Martel: that,
[00:04:20] John Lehr: But I I think the thing that makes me the most interesting is that I'm still alive because I had a life that, I had I've been sober for 26 years and there was a life before that, which Jay has heard me rant about for years and
[00:04:35] Stuart: years.
[00:04:36] John Lehr: I don't, I don't, there's huge huge gaps in it, but I think that's probably what makes me interesting.
[00:04:46] Stuart: I
[00:04:46] John Lehr: and J is extremely interesting person.
[00:04:50] Stuart: Yes, Absolutely. J what what what do you believe makes you interesting? I
[00:04:55] Jay Martel: think that that I think that I can write under any circumstances like I could, if there was um maybe, you know, if I was on a battlefield I could write if I was uh I can, you know, I have this my office is actually the same room as the dryer in the washing machine. They're going like almost all the time because
[00:05:17] Stuart: you don't care. It doesn't, you don't
[00:05:19] Jay Martel: matter, it doesn't. But normally if I'm not writing it, small noises bugged the hell out of me. So
[00:05:30] Stuart: you're not hanging around like preschools like that's not a thing you're gonna do. Also, you should never say that you're hanging around preschools
[00:05:38] John Lehr: and white guy shouldn't be hanging around.
[00:05:41] Jay Martel: I mean they
[00:05:43] John Lehr: just immediately take you away.
[00:05:44] Stuart: Yeah, they call people,
[00:05:46] Jay Martel: I am not co signing for this part of the
[00:05:49] Stuart: conversation. Mm. Um Yeah, so I I just real quick j u um my favorite show besides Quick draw is key and peele. I thought that every I don't know if I saw a bad sketch. I saw ones that weren't as funny as others, but um, I, your work on that was just amazing. Everybody's work on that show is incredible. So, uh, and in my opinion, it's the best sketch show that has probably ever existed. Just everything was super strong. So, um, I know you wrote on key and peele, I know you've written a couple of movies. What else, what else can you let everybody know what else they would know you from?
[00:06:31] John Lehr: He, he won a peabody
[00:06:34] Jay Martel: Oh,
[00:06:36] Stuart: there you go.
[00:06:38] Jay Martel: And I'm getting another another peabody for being on this podcast.
[00:06:42] Stuart: Yeah, well, absolutely. They monitor this podcast for things.
[00:06:46] Jay Martel: The peabody voters are out there. Um, I, I'm a novelist. I've written a couple novels that are available, um, one called channel blue, another called um
[00:07:01] Stuart: yes.
[00:07:02] Jay Martel: Oh, oh my
[00:07:03] John Lehr: God.
[00:07:04] Jay Martel: Oh yeah, I'm used to like amateur podcast. This is a whole nother level.
[00:07:10] Stuart: Yeah, this is like an upper level podcast. It's wonderful.
[00:07:15] Jay Martel: I'm a contributor to the new yorker sort of like the nerdiest aspect of, I guess written humor, um, which can be found there and
[00:07:25] John Lehr: I'm a big follower of his, his stuff on the new yorker Or
[00:07:29] Stuart: do you have to be because your friends like you were there is that
[00:07:34] Jay Martel: we're pretty compartmentalized. I mean we, I feel like as friends, we feel no obligation at all to, to look at each other's work, but we do, we do enjoy each other's work because we enjoy each other. I mean, john john is one of the funniest people I've ever met and he just happens to live a block away from me, which is amazing.
[00:07:57] John Lehr: Yeah,
[00:07:57] Stuart: That is actually pretty incredible.
[00:07:59] John Lehr: And I feel the same way about Jay and, and it's great. It's great to have somebody in your neighborhood who we've known each other for 16 years. We met each other in Griffith Park. I think Jay was pushing his infant daughter at the time. Our daughters are the same age. Our sons are the same age. Our daughters are now 16 and are best friends. So, I mean, we're uh, we're in tight it, so it's all over at this point.
[00:08:30] Stuart: That's fantastic.
[00:08:31] Jay Martel: J is
[00:08:35] Stuart: that an argument that you guys have, who's gonna bury who first
[00:08:40] Jay Martel: he's
[00:08:41] John Lehr: older, but I did a lot more drugs. So maybe who knows? You know, who knows?
[00:08:47] Jay Martel: And
[00:08:47] John Lehr: weirs weirs die young. My family dies young,
[00:08:51] Stuart: 17. Yeah.
[00:08:53] Jay Martel: Yeah, that's really true. Like because both your parents died, both died young and still alive. So that's something that handicappers should take into account. I
[00:09:02] Stuart: wonder if there's like, there's got to be like an item in Vegas where you can vote on, you can bet on which one. So
[00:09:08] John Lehr: I
[00:09:09] Stuart: wonder what the odds look like, you know?
[00:09:11] Jay Martel: Yeah. I mean, I wonder like if you could like pay a bookie to like just post odds on your friends deaths.
[00:09:18] Stuart: Do I wonder do they actually have stuff like that in Vegas. I don't actually know, but I'm, I imagine they're like the over under on or something like that. Oh yeah,
[00:09:31] John Lehr: Is that true? Oh my God.
[00:09:34] Jay Martel: I mean something like that has odds posted on it like has had posted on it for years.
[00:09:40] Stuart: Could you imagine hitting, hitting that jackpot?
[00:09:43] Jay Martel: Oh my God.
[00:09:45] Stuart: That would be crazy. Um You guys, they
[00:09:49] John Lehr: had odds on everybody. It's called health insurance and life insurance. It's like what you pay for your life insurance are basically your odds.
[00:09:59] Stuart: You think I'm gonna die tomorrow if that's the case? Like they are thinking very poorly of my
[00:10:05] Jay Martel: health. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:10:10] Stuart: So you guys, were you guys, um, you know, you've been friends for a long time? You do work together though, right?
[00:10:17] John Lehr: Yeah, we're right now we're in a play together. Look at that. That's awesome. Yeah. We're in a play that J wrote called speed bump and it's about to neighbors. I don't know where he got that idea who are friends who are around the same age, who grew up together um, where one of them wants a speed bump put in the street in the neighborhood and one doesn't and that starts a domino effect that
[00:10:48] Stuart: how much, yeah. How much of this is based on reality did you guys have a speed bump discussion at some point?
[00:10:54] Jay Martel: We have had in our neighborhood. Yes. We've had several people. I mean, you know, obviously for the sake of the comedy and the drama that everything's been. I and john is not the character he plays, nor am I. But we, we've had, I mean, I don't know if you've ever been to a meeting of your neighborhood or if you live in an apartment building, your coop, that people get really, really riled up when it's about
[00:11:24] Stuart: passionate
[00:11:25] Jay Martel: about
[00:11:26] Stuart: the weirdest things
[00:11:27] Jay Martel: thing. Yeah. And so this is just following um that little thread all the way to its logical Armageddon ish, that's
[00:11:42] Stuart: fantastic. Now you guys, um you guys started performing this in the height of Covid, correct? Yeah,
[00:11:49] John Lehr: or j wrote it during, during Covid and we and he and I would safely distance as we, you know, did read drafts of his script.
[00:11:59] Jay Martel: Um and so
[00:12:01] Stuart: that means that you didn't get a chance to practice the sex scene is what you're saying.
[00:12:05] John Lehr: No, we had to imagine
[00:12:07] Jay Martel: that,
[00:12:09] John Lehr: but but then then it was time to do a reading of the play and jay did it in his backyard because, you know, this was, this was after, after the pandemic was over, but still people were nervous and and we were, and we were talking about work shopping it. And uh I was, I was a big proponent of like, let's keep doing it in people's backyards because because because it's set in a neighborhood and its neighbors. It's like, it's amazing. It's
[00:12:40] Stuart: like you're part of that meeting for real, you know,
[00:12:43] Jay Martel: Yeah, it's
[00:12:45] Stuart: another level of immersion into this world that you guys have created. You
[00:12:50] John Lehr: know, you workshop plays in like a little black box theater and we didn't know how people would feel about that, you know, at that point. Um, I think now people are starting
[00:13:01] Stuart: now people, I went to a concert recently and it was like, I saw a dude like straight up cough just out into space and people did not back up and I was like, well we're done with this. Like everybody's okay.
[00:13:14] John Lehr: Yeah, I don't know, I still can't handle the coffee and if somebody, you know,
[00:13:21] Jay Martel: you
[00:13:22] Stuart: hop back a little bit and like, oh no, no, it's fine. It's fine. It's fine over there. Yeah. But um yeah, so you guys and you just had a performance right? You had one on the first,
[00:13:35] Jay Martel: how
[00:13:35] Stuart: did that go?
[00:13:37] Jay Martel: Fantastic. We performed it for about 70 people at a house in Laurel Canyon and it's the first time we performed it actually at night because usually what we do is we try to catch the dying sunlight for our performance, but it's gotten to the point now where it's getting kind of sun's going down pretty early and our host want to make sure everyone was liquored up and
[00:14:02] John Lehr: which was a good idea.
[00:14:05] Jay Martel: I felt like we were really performing to an audience for the first time
[00:14:09] Stuart: we've
[00:14:10] John Lehr: been performing to kind of sober ish audiences and man, it was nice to have an audience that was lit
[00:14:15] Stuart: just a little bit looser, just like a little bit easier to laugh and it's
[00:14:21] Jay Martel: true, like everyone was just like, you could just tell they've given themselves permission to laugh like immediately there
[00:14:28] John Lehr: was some weed going around,
[00:14:30] Stuart: perfect, yeah,
[00:14:32] Jay Martel: laugh
[00:14:33] Stuart: laugh to back. E yeah. Um
[00:14:36] John Lehr: comedians best friend
[00:14:37] Stuart: absolutely both on and off stage, but although you've been sober, I should probably not be saying
[00:14:44] John Lehr: that. No, no, no, I'm pro drugs,
[00:14:47] Stuart: Fair enough. Um and you've got to two coming up, right? You've got the 15th and the 16th and those are gonna be where whereabouts are those gonna be? And can people just go to this? People can just go to this website to get tickets and
[00:15:03] Jay Martel: Yeah, well they making making contact um we have a publicist named Andrea who has been very helpful to us and and that that website will lead you to a place where you can ask for for admission to one of these shows. We're not giving out the address obviously because these are actually people's homes and they might not nothing like, you know, a huge avalanche of people are going to show up, but you know, but
[00:15:30] Stuart: They might, and they can only accommodate 80 people in their backyard all of a sudden they've got 470, our
[00:15:37] John Lehr: Last one was big, I thought, I don't
[00:15:40] Stuart: Know 70 people as a lot of people
[00:15:42] John Lehr: in a lot of people in the backyard.
[00:15:44] Stuart: I agree.
[00:15:45] Jay Martel: We're not like, you know, it's just, it's just us yelling basically. I mean there's no sound system, there's no like there's no light, the lonely lights for like these, these outdoor porch lights, like hanging over our heads.
[00:15:57] Stuart: You know? Honestly, I think I hope that this like kind of starts a trend where people start to do more performance out in the backyard. I think it's great. There used to be a website that you could go to and you could see sign up to get ideas for get shows. We're traveling. Artists would go and perform in your living room, which was phenomenal. Of course, Covid killed it, but it was so great to be in someone's house and they're like, I don't know, grab a cushion off the couch and like it was so, it was so much warmer than like going to a place to watch something I think for, especially for something like this, what a great way to experience that.
[00:16:35] Jay Martel: No, no, I was just gonna say that, you know, like we've, we've gone into backyards where we haven't known anywhere, but at the end of it, you feel like everyone's friends, you know, even though, you know, we haven't, we haven't really talked to anyone except each other, but the communal experience of laughing together, but
[00:16:56] Stuart: the audience is all holding each other's hands and they're swaying back and forth.
[00:17:01] Jay Martel: Not that, that, yeah.
[00:17:05] Stuart: Yeah, I know, but it's a shared experience that way? And I think it's really good.
[00:17:10] John Lehr: Yeah, it's cool. It's it's it's like, it's like the modern day version of the salon, you know, back in, you know, when you have all these people just sitting around, it was it's cool. It's really cool.
[00:17:21] Stuart: J and I don't really understand that, but yeah, we'll go along
[00:17:23] Jay Martel: with it. Um I think during covid people just loaded on their screens. I mean because like, just like how people are just ripping through like five seasons of a show, like in in in two nights and so like, you know, we figured we find that there's like a real hunger out there for people watching live people
[00:17:48] Stuart: and being around live people. I actually um I just recently had somebody on the show that wrote a book about to our cocktail parties and he's like, we should have these like on a monthly basis, just get people together. Doesn't even matter what it's about just getting together for two hours and see what happens. And I think it's
[00:18:03] John Lehr: Hard out after two hours, 2
[00:18:05] Stuart: hours. It's yeah. Yeah, he committed me to doing one of these. So I'm I'm excited to see how it goes. The beginning of november, I'm going to be doing it, but I think that's really important is to get out in front of people and see them and see what the interaction is between,
[00:18:19] John Lehr: How are you going to end it after two hours? What are you gonna do? I
[00:18:22] Stuart: don't know, he wrote a book. So I'm in the middle of the book and I need to figure out, I haven't gotten to that part. The end part where it's like, alright, please leave the hounds will be released, you know? But yeah, so I I love it. And I think especially if it can be around like a, like a performance, I think it's wonderful. I think it really does. A lot of, a lot of cool things for people hits those endorphins and they get to experience something they've never experienced before.
[00:18:51] John Lehr: It's true. There really people are really thrilled after when they come up to us. They're just like this was so cool and your
[00:19:00] Jay Martel: expectations are also low, right? Because you know, they don't know what they walked into there. Like we just, you know, a friend of ours said they were doing something in their backyard and we walked over so That I think those reduced expectations. I mean it's not like you bought like a $300 ticket for a Broadway show where it's like, Okay, show me
[00:19:22] Stuart: all cylinders, I
[00:19:26] Jay Martel: will say on our behalf, we don't have the benefit of like that those broadway shows have like, like lights and stage, you know,
[00:19:37] Stuart: amazon amazon wish list, you can put the lights on there, that's cheap. You could do that for very little money. Um So john now you've had an experience where you've made a show for Hulu recently. Right, And then you've got a pretty long career as an actor. What are some roles that like really stick out to you as like, these are the ones that you think people should go back and review.
[00:20:05] John Lehr: What
[00:20:06] Stuart: are the ones that you think you just nailed on them, nailed them?
[00:20:11] John Lehr: Well, I never think I nailed anything.
[00:20:13] Stuart: Anybody who's in, anybody who does any performer. Yeah,
[00:20:18] John Lehr: you never really feel like, okay, that one. Uh I think, you know, Quick Draw, which is the show I did for hulu is probably the one I'm most proud of. I, I created the show, I wrote the show and I started the show. So, I mean, you know, that's my baby. Uh and then I had the same sort of experience with the show called 10 items or less, which was on Tbs, which is, I think you can still find it out there probably on hulu or crackle. Um and then a show that many people haven't seen and it's very difficult to get a hold of, but it's called jailbait and this,
[00:20:54] Stuart: this
[00:20:55] John Lehr: is one of jay's favorites. It's so wrong. I wonder how it would play now. Anyway, my character gets jail, gets thrown in jail and there's, you can imagine it was, there was a show called Oz on HBO,
[00:21:10] Stuart: which yes, it was
[00:21:11] John Lehr: hardcore prison Drama. And so our idea was to do a comedy version of that. This is before Orange is the New Black or you know, um so it ran on crackle Sony's uh website um streaming service, but it was pulled because they they use advertisements and the advertising people are like this,
[00:21:35] Stuart: we can't
[00:21:36] John Lehr: we can't. But yeah, and you know, it was the Geico Caveman, which is, you know, um so, you know, I don't know, I mean, I all I did I I didn't have to do much, I just wear the makeup and they let me improv a lot, but people really liked it.
[00:21:53] Stuart: So
[00:21:53] John Lehr: yeah, I
[00:21:54] Stuart: mean that one, that one kind of hit the zeitgeist a little bit. I mean, really it did. So that that's pretty remarkable. And did you get your start doing improv? Like, what did you, what did you do to get in? Okay,
[00:22:06] John Lehr: So I started in, I went to school at Northwestern in Chicago and they had an improv show because, you know, they're they're outside of Chicago, the mecca of improv. And they had an improv show in at the university that I auditioned for and I could not believe you could say whatever you wanted on stage.
[00:22:25] Stuart: I
[00:22:27] John Lehr: just couldn't believe
[00:22:28] Jay Martel: it. You were one of those guys who were like, when they first saw improv, they were like, I've been waiting all my life for this. Like, you and your brother had been doing improv for years and not knowing it,
[00:22:40] John Lehr: right, right? All my all my
[00:22:42] Jay Martel: life jay's
[00:22:44] John Lehr: absolutely right. My me and my friends in Kansas were basically doing improv. We just didn't know that's what it was. We were just trying to crack each other up. So and so then I was off and running and I was in I was in Chicago, I did improv second city, I did improv at the organic, I did all over Chicago and then uh was discovered by by a talent scout and brought out to L. A. And then I pissed all that away with doing drugs and alcohol. Then I got sober and started a career.
[00:23:13] Stuart: Well, I mean, at some point you gotta hit that point in your career, the drugs and alcohol has to happen. It's not, it's inevitable because
[00:23:21] John Lehr: I'm just thrilled I survived
[00:23:24] Stuart: because
[00:23:24] John Lehr: a lot of my friends didn't, you know? So here I am.
[00:23:29] Stuart: And then j how do you, how do you, how does someone get to be a writer? Like how do you, that is like the most mysterious um like job or career I can think of is how do you get to be a writer? I know you're supposed to write, but like I've done that, I'm still not a writer. How do you become one? Well,
[00:23:49] Jay Martel: I think, you know, when I grew up it was there was more of a path to being a writer because there was more journalism, there was more magazines, there was more newspapers and I grew up reading my local newspaper front to back, you know, and loving all the colonists and loving and want and I wanted to be a journalist, you know, that's what I wanted to be and uh, and then you know, it's just that morphed into working in magazines and newspapers on my, you know, college high school every you know, and just going out and then I moved to new york to be, to work at newsweek and ended up writing articles for Rolling Stone and, and then that just kind of I guess because I was writing about tv for Rolling Stone, I had a moment where I was just like, why am I writing about this? I really actually want to be doing
[00:24:40] Stuart: it very cool. You, you and I were probably the two most popular kids in high school because I was, I was so into journalism on my class ring. That's what I had was the journalism thing.
[00:24:52] John Lehr: Yeah,
[00:24:53] Stuart: definitely. I crushed it in high school.
[00:24:57] John Lehr: That's better than the comedy drama mask.
[00:25:00] Stuart: I, you
[00:25:01] Jay Martel: know,
[00:25:03] John Lehr: yeah, jesus,
[00:25:05] Stuart: do you even have your class ring anymore? Is that no, who cares about?
[00:25:10] Jay Martel: It wasn't cool, cool.
[00:25:12] John Lehr: I had one, I don't know what
[00:25:15] Jay Martel: happened to, you know,
[00:25:17] Stuart: My mom bought it for me and like it showed up and she's like, I got this for you wasn't great through it in a drawer and never looked at it again. Want swamp, that's $200. She'll never get back.
[00:25:31] Jay Martel: She cut off her fingers.
[00:25:34] Stuart: Yeah, it was terrible. It was terrible
[00:25:36] John Lehr: sold a kidney
[00:25:38] Stuart: wamp wamp. What, what do you guys besides speed bump? Like, what are some things that you're excited about that you're doing, john john we talked a little bit about it ahead of time. I don't know if you want to reveal any of that, but yeah, go ahead.
[00:25:53] John Lehr: I'm pitching a show right now with bob Clendenin who has been on a, you know, bunch of the shows that I've done. He was on quick, anybody who sees a picture of bob
[00:26:05] Stuart: is
[00:26:06] John Lehr: like, oh my God, that guy, he's so funny and he's just a wonderful guy. And uh, and so yeah, that's what I'm doing right now with him and doing the play with jay and I've been doing a lot of live stuff. I've been traveling a lot people really, you know, I chalk it up to the post pandemic people want, Yeah. Live experience, it seems. So I've been traveling a bunch. I got a bunch more ahead of me. I'm going to Dallas and Chicago. I just got back from Toronto. I'm going to Austria in january and I haven't even told jay this. I just got a gig it for Norway. I mean,
[00:26:44] Stuart: it's,
[00:26:45] John Lehr: yeah, it's
[00:26:47] Jay Martel: all these countries want you to come teach them how to improvise in english. Yes.
[00:26:53] John Lehr: They want me to perform and then teach them how I did it for the camera.
[00:26:58] Jay Martel: Yeah, Really,
[00:27:00] Stuart: that's so do you do stand up in those situations or what do you do?
[00:27:04] John Lehr: I do do a solo show that is like stand up and do that for a lot of charity events and and things like that. But but I also do a an improv show with uh this improviser. Susan messing, who's this amazing legendary improviser improviser in Chicago?
[00:27:22] Stuart: That's amazing. Yeah. You've obviously done some stand up then. You've done
[00:27:27] John Lehr: that. J
[00:27:29] Stuart: have you ever done any stand
[00:27:30] Jay Martel: Up? I did 1 1. Very, very tight set uh in my career. When
[00:27:38] John Lehr: you say tight, what do you mean?
[00:27:41] Jay Martel: It was all gold, john
[00:27:43] John Lehr: wow!
[00:27:44] Jay Martel: eight minutes of your unadulterated gold.
[00:27:47] Stuart: And at that point you just dropped the mic and never hit the stage again. Right.
[00:27:51] Jay Martel: You know, you've painted the mona lisa, you just walk away.
[00:27:56] Stuart: Can
[00:27:57] John Lehr: you remember a joke from that?
[00:27:59] Jay Martel: But you don't want it?
[00:28:03] John Lehr: What, what decade was this?
[00:28:06] Jay Martel: Oh, this is 1979.
[00:28:10] Stuart: Yeah.
[00:28:12] Jay Martel: Reference it was a Star Heavy Star trek.
[00:28:14] John Lehr: Yeah.
[00:28:16] Stuart: Oh yeah, I mean crowds love that.
[00:28:19] John Lehr: The correct
[00:28:20] Stuart: crowd actually really does love that. But like
[00:28:23] John Lehr: the Star Wars stuff probably still plays
[00:28:27] Stuart: Oh yeah,
[00:28:28] John Lehr: you break that stuff out. That's fucking green man, That'll go forever.
[00:28:32] Stuart: Forever. Um Yeah, I am. I realized after doing stand up for a short period of time, I am not cut out for stand up, but I do love improv, so I can appreciate really, really good improv um but I, I, I find anymore even with stand up like if they're not doing well, I feel bad for them and I will pity laugh which is the worst thing you could do right?
[00:28:56] Jay Martel: Well, improv was kind of the same when it's bad. It's very bad when it's, it's very good. But um in terms of doing it, it's a lot less lonely bombing uh with other people on stage. Yeah,
[00:29:09] Stuart: because if you're with someone good they can pick up the slack, which is fantastic.
[00:29:14] John Lehr: Yeah, they'll save you.
[00:29:16] Stuart: Yeah, Yeah, that's their job. Yeah. Have you ever had john have you ever had an experience with improv where you were with somebody on the stage and it was just awful like they were just chewing up the time and you, you couldn't figure out, do you have a specific example that you can think of?
[00:29:35] John Lehr: I have, I could give you a dozen, but the one that sticks out the most was at a bar called Sheba's in Chicago on Southport where it they had a stage but they had monitors around the proscenium of the stage and the monitors were playing the Blackhawks who were the hockey team in Chicago in
[00:29:57] Jay Martel: the Yeah,
[00:29:59] John Lehr: and and it was the Stanley cup, they were playing for the cup, but it was the fine, you know the semifinals or whatever and it was the tournament and we were performing and they left him going without the sound on and people were piste off. And I remember a guy and this was a terrible, this was my earlier groups and we were just terrible. It was called, just to give you a sense the name of the group was called random sample. So that's just
[00:30:24] Jay Martel: something.
[00:30:26] John Lehr: And um, I was doing something with somebody and a guy goes, you suck. And then, and I was like, oh, he thinks we suck and, and he made eye contact with me and he goes, no, you, you suck.
[00:30:40] Jay Martel: That's
[00:30:44] Stuart: a little demoralizing when you're on stage. Like, maybe I shouldn't keep
[00:30:48] Jay Martel: going. You know, you must have appreciated his specificity.
[00:30:52] John Lehr: I did. I did. I, well it hurt, it hurt bad and then I drank it all away and turned it into cancer.
[00:30:59] Stuart: There you go. How do you, how did you play off of that? Did you at all? Or did you just go, no, I'm going to go into the shell. Just leave it
[00:31:07] John Lehr: at that point. It was, I have a joke with j like if the play doesn't, if we forget lines in the play, we just get in the car and drive away
[00:31:15] Stuart: and just
[00:31:19] John Lehr: go and you just kind of, I just went into that mode of like, oh, sh it, this is
[00:31:24] Jay Martel: this is this
[00:31:25] John Lehr: gig is
[00:31:25] Jay Martel: over. I
[00:31:27] John Lehr: get to the alcohol fast, right,
[00:31:30] Jay Martel: Right.
[00:31:32] Stuart: And then jay, um, you've, you've written so much stuff. Have you ever had a situation where somebody was performing something you'd written and you were just like, oh man, you can't get this any worse, you can't do this any more wrong than the way you're doing it and I as a writer, you get some input I imagine, but the director's got most of that, so I wonder how how does that play out when you, when you get into that situation?
[00:32:00] Jay Martel: Well, I mean there's a lot of different levels to that. There's there's the immediate thing of like writing something for the stage and then seeing it done poorly and or or not not, I mean, let me just say as a writer unless you unless you're doing it yourself or or or directing it yourself, it's rarely like you see it in your head, but that's part of the beauty of the whole thing, right? It's a collaborative medium, so you you other people are bringing their vision to it and you have to allow for that. And a lot of times, I just have to, like, I'm not gonna say anything because that's just different, that's just a different vision, it's not wrong or right, you know? Exactly, and it's hard because being a writer, people, the only reason people become writers is because they're control freaks and they want to control everything. That's why it's just there and the page and that's, you know, so that you you have to really force yourself to let go, right,
[00:32:58] John Lehr: but you don't do that in rehearsals. He just says wrong when I say one of his lines wrong. No,
[00:33:04] Jay Martel: what's more john once
[00:33:06] John Lehr: again again.
[00:33:08] Jay Martel: Yeah,
[00:33:10] Stuart: cut
[00:33:13] John Lehr: will be like, what do I smell? Oh, it's ship coming out of your mouth.
[00:33:20] Jay Martel: Well,
[00:33:22] Stuart: at least at least he's gentle about it. You know, like you just don't want to hurt anybody's feelings
[00:33:27] John Lehr: with a, with a shot caller once for a rehearsal. Like those dogs shotgun would just hit me with a three or a
[00:33:34] Stuart: two. Yeah,
[00:33:39] John Lehr: it's true. He's right. It did
[00:33:41] Stuart: work. So with the play, you how much play is in the play? Is it, is it? It's not an improvised play. It's a scripted play. Yeah. Does that make it more
[00:33:52] John Lehr: difficult
[00:33:53] Stuart: for
[00:33:54] John Lehr: me? It is I don't do a lot of heavily scripted stuff. I mean I, I didn't, I did weirdly the year during the pandemic. I did a two person a movie that was a low budget movie and it was just the two of us. And so it was kind of like, like you had to know every scene because it moved, had to move fast because they didn't have a lot of money, but still you get to do, you do a scene and then if you screw it up, you get to do it again. So a play is a totally thing. So it's, it's hard, it's a lot to learn thick. That's a thick play. j laid on.
[00:34:37] Jay Martel: We would have not done it except at some point. We we we realized that it would be easier just to finish memorizing it than to stop. It was like Vietnam like in 1968
[00:34:51] Stuart: we just got to finish it. That's all we gotta do. Just finish it.
[00:34:54] Jay Martel: You know, like the smart thing to do would just be to withdraw all our forces, but let's just bomb the fun out of all the countries in Southeast Asia
[00:35:04] John Lehr: just
[00:35:05] Jay Martel: blow it all up. And so that's what that was all we had to go through to the other side. Yeah, we're
[00:35:12] John Lehr: in the we're in the napalm stage right now.
[00:35:15] Stuart: Oh my goodness. Yeah. Those poor audiences right there. Like I don't know what just happened to get me to the emergency room.
[00:35:22] Jay Martel: You know, like I think what happens, you know, we've had, we've had rough rehearsals where we've gone up a lot and and have no idea what what comes next. But I think what happens in performances that adrenaline kicks in and the adrenaline is your friend, you know, like it's like helping those people there and the possibility for group shame and humiliation, that's
[00:35:47] Stuart: really what we're doing is just avoiding that as much as possible. That's the
[00:35:50] John Lehr: sheer fear of looking like an idiot. It motivates
[00:35:56] Jay Martel: you. It's so funny too because I I vacillate during the average performance. I vacillate so wildly between bravado and abject terror. You know, like, well, normally I'd be like, oh my God, I'm sucking nailing this, and, like, I have no idea what comes next.
[00:36:11] Stuart: You're like, oh man, you're looking at your hand. It's all smeared because you wrote down the words, but it's now smeared because you've got so much sweat on your hands,
[00:36:20] John Lehr: Like, when your when your partner's doing a speech and you don't know the line that you're supposed to say at the end of it, it's like the cold hands.
[00:36:28] Jay Martel: Yeah,
[00:36:29] John Lehr: just grab your heart,
[00:36:31] Jay Martel: you know, it's
[00:36:31] John Lehr: just like, what is it? What is it, what is
[00:36:34] Jay Martel: it? Just
[00:36:35] Stuart: shout out off, off, off to the stage line, and it's like, there's nobody there to give it to you,
[00:36:40] John Lehr: what are you gonna do? I
[00:36:43] Jay Martel: realized that the biggest accuse you can give anyone in the play is a line, like, what? Or really?
[00:36:54] John Lehr: Will there be lines that are kind of similar, but they're
[00:36:58] Stuart: slightly
[00:36:59] John Lehr: different. Oh my God, it's horrible. But we've got it, We're doing pretty good.
[00:37:06] Stuart: Yeah, I mean, it sounds like you guys are professionals. That's how you get
[00:37:10] Jay Martel: through it.
[00:37:15] John Lehr: I guarantee we will not drop one line in the next performance. I may God, strike us
[00:37:24] Jay Martel: down.
[00:37:27] John Lehr: We
[00:37:29] Stuart: weren't expecting thunderclouds tonight. But that's funny. Um how often do you have to rehearse that to get it, like, ingrained for you. Like, how many times? Yeah, no,
[00:37:44] John Lehr: it's
[00:37:44] Stuart: like, I mean, I'm just curious, like, how much rehearsal does it take a couple of weeks. Has it
[00:37:50] John Lehr: been a year of twice? Once or twice a week because we broke up, you know, real lives. Um Right j I don't
[00:37:59] Jay Martel: yeah, I mean we'll go we'll go like a couple of months without working on it at all because we don't have any shows coming up and then we'll have like these panicky weeks, learn it in our sleep, you know, we'll sleep on the script, we'll have our wives shouted to us while we're in the shower, you know? Oh my God,
[00:38:21] John Lehr: it's
[00:38:21] Jay Martel: true. I got this I had this I had a surgery like in august and with general anesthetic. And I was sure that that when I woke up I was like, like my brain and wipe my hard drive of that play. I mean I know who I am and I and I and I and I know like who my friends are but I don't know that play anymore. It's gone. And
[00:38:46] John Lehr: it's kind of amazing how much we do remember really, when you think about it? It's weird how that sh it sticks in your brain. I mean it's crazy.
[00:38:55] Jay Martel: Yeah,
[00:38:56] Stuart: that's that's why
[00:38:57] Jay Martel: it's a great play, you know? It all makes sense. I
[00:39:01] Stuart: mean every word is gold. Just like your stand up routine.
[00:39:05] John Lehr: It is it's well written. Really well written.
[00:39:07] Stuart: Yeah I really I I if
[00:39:10] John Lehr: if
[00:39:10] Stuart: there is any way I could get down to L. A. To go see that I'm I would totally do it. I'll see what I can do.
[00:39:16] John Lehr: Yeah. No,
[00:39:18] Jay Martel: no. All
[00:39:20] Stuart: right. Well, everybody needs to, if you're in the Los Angeles area, please go or if you want to travel to L. A. And see a phenomenal like no holds barred full frontal show, you'll want to hit up speed bump the play. You'll want to go to this website. It's also in the comments, so it's easy to click on. Um, but john J we have to record a sketch. I so badly want to get there to watch it. If I do, I will let everybody know if you can get there and you're in the L. A. Area and you'd love to see these to perform this incredible play in someone's backyard email Andrea at A M C K Pr dot com. That's A N D R E A at A M C K P R dot com. But I'll let john fill us in on all of the things these guys are up to
[00:40:17] John Lehr: the best time you can ever have in a lawn chair, please call us up because we will come on over and make your night
[00:40:27] Stuart: speed bump the play. Make sure you call, get your tickets asAP selling out fast because there's only so much space in the backyard And now our sketch documentary of the not so superpowered in 3, 2 in a world filled with superheroes. It is hard to make every power relevant. So super beings have taken to hire super talent agents to advocate for their place on super teams. These poor underpowered superhumans cannot face the likes of lex Luther or Doctor Doom alone because as powerful as they are against normal schlubs like you and me, their powers can seem pretty silly against real foes. It takes a team to keep an idiot alive. Let's see how one of these tryouts goes as we go undercover to uncover the trials of one such hero as he tries to join one of these powerful teams as we continue our exploration of the not so super powered. All right, I'm telling you this guy is the best superhero you guys are gonna have on your team. I know that the Avengers right? Like they save the world and all that, but you're going down the right track right on is definitely going to be you're right on time,
[00:41:53] John Lehr: he's right,
[00:41:54] Stuart: he's very dry, but also he's incredibly powerful and I you know what, here's what I'm going to say, put him in a situation, let's see what he can do and I I guarantee he will be on the Avengers and he will be your number one Avenger before too long,
[00:42:09] John Lehr: can I just say it's a little weird that he has an agent. Just I'm just putting that out there.
[00:42:15] Stuart: Well, to be honest with you, most of the super heroes now that are not like aligned with a team, they have an agent because it's kind of crowded right now. I don't know if you've looked around at the superhero landscape. I
[00:42:27] Jay Martel: agree with you. I beg Stewart not to come to the audition. Um But he just insisted that they write on needed.
[00:42:35] John Lehr: You're a superhero who you you can't even keep your agent from coming to your
[00:42:39] Jay Martel: I'm it's my character. I'm an I'm an actor auditioning to be this new superhero. So
[00:42:47] John Lehr: let's also
[00:42:48] Stuart: I'm more than just an agent. I'm a hype man too. That's
[00:42:51] John Lehr: that's that's a power in and of itself. We need a hype man here at X. Force if you're interested that we need
[00:42:58] Jay Martel: I'm a writer who can write under any circumstances you
[00:43:03] Stuart: put them in any situation and he'll right, that's the thing
[00:43:06] John Lehr: what happens to the writing then it turns into lasers or what happens when I
[00:43:10] Jay Martel: know I've been submitted to these different publishing houses who you know, sometimes they'll they'll pay me for, you know and publish it,
[00:43:17] John Lehr: wow. You know what my superpower is? I can make your brain explode inside your head. I am needed on the X Force Team a guy who can write
[00:43:28] Stuart: right on is gonna make your head explode after
[00:43:32] Jay Martel: the battle. Okay,
[00:43:35] John Lehr: okay. All right, let me put you in a situation. Alright, Alright, so the hulk you know who the hulk is. Right,
[00:43:43] Stuart: okay,
[00:43:43] John Lehr: great. So the hulk has been exposed to some gamma rays that have made him even crazier than he is and he's gone dark on us. He's become red hole. He's coming right at us. But we're all frozen and stasis so I can't make his brain explode. The only person who isn't frozen is right on. What do you do?
[00:44:05] Stuart: All right, right on, you can do this.
[00:44:07] John Lehr: Okay, He's writing. Okay. Now the hulks already ripped your head off. I mean, what did you write?
[00:44:15] Jay Martel: Please don't rip my head
[00:44:16] John Lehr: off. Okay. He might read that. Alright, okay.
[00:44:20] Stuart: And you were
[00:44:20] John Lehr: able to do that under stress?
[00:44:22] Jay Martel: Well, yeah, I mean, assuming the hulk was charging at me. Okay.
[00:44:26] Stuart: I mean, you think about how fast the hulk charges? That was less than two seconds
[00:44:30] John Lehr: initially. I thought it was honestly, I'm gonna say, I thought it was a bullshit talent, but now that I see
[00:44:35] Jay Martel: you trying to tell you, you have to see it in practice. You can't just don't
[00:44:40] John Lehr: yell at me fucking blow your brain out. Okay,
[00:44:43] Stuart: I tell you what, You throw out another scenario. Just one more scenario.
[00:44:47] John Lehr: Okay, Okay, I'm super hot for Supergirl and I'm I don't know how to talk to her. I'm embarrassed, but you can slip me notes like cyrano de Bergerac what would you have me say to her? You'd write something down and slip it. He's writing.
[00:45:06] Stuart: Okay?
[00:45:08] John Lehr: Yes, No, I wanted to be good. Stop yelling at me. I'm gonna. I'm this close to blowing your brain apart
[00:45:13] Stuart: and there's no Meteor coming at this point, right? Like there's, there's nothing like, okay, okay, we're just talking
[00:45:18] Jay Martel: incredible. Me getting my brain blown up.
[00:45:21] John Lehr: All right, just do it. It was always there. I'm just pointing it out
[00:45:26] Jay Martel: to you.
[00:45:26] John Lehr: Okay, Here it is. Hey, Supergirl. How about getting me souped up girl?
[00:45:34] Stuart: I mean, that is like Shakespearean
[00:45:37] Jay Martel: on, right on
[00:45:40] Stuart: your welcome
[00:45:41] John Lehr: to the team. Get him a suit. Let's get him a really tight suit.
[00:45:45] Stuart: Any scenario right on is going to absolutely tear it up on the page.
[00:45:50] John Lehr: Okay, Okay, well let's, we'll tear it up. I don't want him to tear up the page then we wouldn't be able to read it, but I know I'm following. I'm following. I'm following. Okay, right on a fan is coming at you and they want an autograph. What do you do?
[00:46:06] Stuart: Come on, Right on. You can do it. What gives? Why did you blow up his brain?
[00:46:14] John Lehr: I didn't, I didn't do anything.
[00:46:18] Stuart: Thank you so much for joining us for sketch comedy podcast show. We hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it. Make sure to head over to sketch comedy podcast show dot com there. You can subscribe to the show, Head over to youtube and watch some of the videos and sketches we've done there. Maybe head over to Patreon and become a patron to the show that would be so much appreciated or you can leave a review someplace or if you're feeling really saucy apply to be on the show. I appreciate every single one of you that listens to the show and I would love to hear more from you. Now I've got to get this out of the way, sketch comedy podcast show is protected under a creative commons attribution, no derivatives four point oh international license. Which means that if you would like to reproduce anything in the show, please contact the show so that I can get you the right material for it. And also, this show is copyright 2022 Stewart rice. Every day we are given a choice. Can we do the funny thing or the not so funny thing. I'm going to urge you to do the funny thing today and create an improvised comedy adventure of your own. Take care. See you next episode. This has been delightful. Thank you guys so much for being on the show
[00:47:48] John Lehr: Stewart. Thank you, man. This was fun.
[00:47:51] Stuart: Good, good. I'm glad to hear it. Um, all right, well, uh, that's it for the show. Thank you so much. Take care.
[00:47:59] John Lehr: Take care. Bye.