This Headliner gets an “Eagle” in Life! Jeff Jena

Jeff Jena is the interview and comedy set for this show, and he has been a good Teacher, near scratch Golfer, and Great Headliner! After years of working my clubs, Jeffery is a clean comic whom went on to do over 40 TV appearances, hundreds of cruise gigs, and many many corporate shows….one of the Best! In his interview he shares how comedy and golf made his life one to envy.

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/yourhostandmc)

Podcast Transcript:

Announcer: 

This is another episode of stand up comedy, your host and emcee, celebrating 40 plus years on the fringe of show business, stories, interviews and comedy sets from the famous and not so famous. Here’s your host and emcee Scott Edwards.

Scott Edwards: 

Hey, welcome to this week’s show. We have a special treat for you, gentlemen that worked many, many years at my clubs. He’s out of Ohio. You may recognize the name, he’s had over 40 TV appearances. He’s got a great 30 plus year career as a stand up comic. But most importantly, he’s a fantastic golfer. Ladies and gentlemen, Jeff, Jenna. Jeff, welcome to the podcast.

Jeff Jena: 

That’s an amazing in studio crowd out there. I hope they’re all

Scott Edwards: 

it’s amazing how many people I can fit in here. Hey, it’s so great to hear your voice. Jeff, we had a chance to work together a lot at the clubs. Your name came up recently. You know, my wife and I are still avid golfers. In fact, sitting right in front of me is one of your old bumper stickers, so many courses. So little time. So many courses so little time. And so your name came up. And I thought man, this would be a great guy to have on the podcast because you’re not only a terrific golfer, but one of the funniest guys. And you’re still performing, I believe, or at least you’re out there.

Jeff Jena: 

Yeah, well, right now I’m not performing too much. Right then kind of retired a bit. But But I still work when I can, you know, and I have been active, I’m taking some time to do some other things. Now. One of the things I’m doing most right now, I did a special for dry bar comedy. And I’ve been just promoting the heck out of that my, between my special and my clips for my special that are on YouTube. And Facebook. I’ve got over 4 million views.

Scott Edwards: 

That’s amazing. And

Jeff Jena: 

I mean, that’s, that’s a lot of people on Emeka trek figured it out like, in the 40 plus years that I’ve done comedy clubs. You know, on a good night, you have maybe 300 people. Right? Right. And if you’re really busy, you maybe do 200 shows a year. So that means in a good year, right? If you’re doing 200 shows a year 300 People show you perform to 60,000 people a year. So times 10 is 600,000 times four for 40 years, is 2.4 million people. So over the years, I’ve probably conformed live for 2.4 million people

Scott Edwards: 

give or take compute still a good number.

Jeff Jena: 

And less than a year, 4 million people have seen me on the internet.

Scott Edwards: 

It’s amazing what technology is made available. I mean, even this podcast, we were talking about that if I had written a book and got it out there, maybe a few 100 People would have picked up the book or something. But by doing this podcast, I’m reaching 1000s of people and we can share our history in comedy and make people laugh, but your 4 million hits for your video. And this is a great plug for dry bar comedy. And you said it’s on YouTube and you can go to dry bar website.

Jeff Jena: 

You can go to dry bar comedy.com. And there’s about 200 comedy specials on there. The name of mine, it’s called old dog new joke. Yeah, or you can just you can just search my name to Jeffrey, Jenna J. DNA, it’ll come up for you.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, well, that’s great. I’m glad that you found a way to take your talents and keep them going. And in these years later, let’s as I talked about previously, I want to give the listening audience a little bit of a background. My show is based on kind of the history through my experience with comedy and entertainers through laughs unlimited. But let’s go back a bit. How did you end up being a comic?

Jeff Jena: 

Well, you know, I, I had, I always say this in interviews. I always wanted to be a comic. When I was a kid. My dad had a great sense of humor. My dad has a great appreciation of comedians love to watch comedy on TV. And I can remember being a young boy and watching like The Ed Sullivan Show with my father. And he’d be laughing at the comedian. And one day I asked my dad so what does that guy do? I knew my dad did for a living. So what does that guy do for a living dad? My dad goes well, that’s what he does. And he goes on TV and he tells jokes and I just remember thinking, wow, you can get paid money to tell jokes. Yeah, it’s pretty incredible. And it just stuck with me as a kid. Of course, when you grew up, I grew up in a small town in Kentucky. It’s not one of the options they present on Career Day.

Scott Edwards: 

I can believe that, you know, so. So

Jeff Jena: 

I kind of I went to college, and I studied to be a teacher and I taught school for a few years. And I just, I mean, teaching is a great profession. It’s a noble profession. But I just wanted to try it. At some point, I always wanted to try comedy. And when I was living down in Houston, Texas in the late 70s, in school in the public schools down there. i One Sunday, I was looking through the Sunday paper, and maybe some of the Millennials don’t know that was a thing that was made out of paper, exactly. Printed news. And I was looking through the Sunday paper, and there was an ad, a small ad that says, improv classes. If you do think you’re funny, we give improv class was at the Comedy workshop theater in Houston, Texas. And I said, What the heck. And I went down, and I signed up for a series of classes. And I found out that I was actually pretty good at it. And started doing acting and improv acting. And then the owner of the club opened a, an adjoining comedy nightclub that had about I don’t know about 80 or 90 seats called the comics, Amex. And he basically said, anybody interested in doing stand up write an act and Co Op? I had no idea. I mean, I had no clue of what I was doing. What

Scott Edwards: 

if you’d already been here?

Jeff Jena: 

Well, in 27, or 28, already,

Scott Edwards: 

so I was a little bit older, for a guy that that was interested in standup, you know, 89 that that is a little bit of a delay, and you had a career going.

Jeff Jena: 

But, you know, I had, it had been like a fantasy, but never something I like really pursued until I took that class when I was 27 years old. So I said, you know, I really want to be a stand for I stand up. So I, I, like, put down a few ideas for jokes that I thought would work and kind of rehearse them in a mirror, like people say, oh, you know, just rehearse their mirror and did an idea and which is a horrible advice, by the way. Because there’s only one way to learn to be a stand up comedy, is to do it. And that’s to get on stage and try to be a stand up.

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, exactly.

Jeff Jena: 

The The amazing thing, the thing that has always amazed me about comedy, it’s the only art form that requires an audience, like my son’s in music. And you can sit in a room by yourself and play piano. And at some point, you can just go, Wow, I’m getting pretty good at playing the piano, right? Or you can paint pictures in a room by yourself. And just at some point going, Wow, I’m really getting good at painting. But our singing or our dance, there are acting, but stand up comedy, you may think you’re good. Like you don’t know if you’re good. Until you get in front of an audience, stand up comedy. doing comedy is the only art form that requires a response from the audience.

Scott Edwards: 

That hasn’t been said before. And that’s so true.

Jeff Jena: 

And it’s really odd. And I can remember it was like during the Carter administration, the first time I got up and did comedy and I, I can remember one bit I thought was hilarious. I used to do a thing called the Billy Carter reggae, which sounds like a parody reggae song being sung by Billy Carter, you know, and I wish I could remember it because I would, I would tell you how bad I was. When I started.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, I would have thought that you’d gotten been able to pull from your history, for example, Dennis wolfberg, was a teacher first. And a lot of his material came from those experiences with children and kids. And I’m sure that you if you taught for a few years, must have had some material that the audience could relate to that falls back to being a teacher.

Jeff Jena: 

Oh, yeah, I had some stuff about teaching and you know about I actually remember one that I used to do, I used to say, Oh, I’m a math teacher, you know, I’ll go in and I’ll teach for two or three months about percentages, interest rates, fractions. And at the end of the time, you are getting through the kids in the ask a simple question like, Okay, you put $10,000 in a bank for one year and five and a quarter percent, which would show you how long to go with what do you get some good go Have a toaster.

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, they weren’t really absorbing everything you were trying to teach.

Jeff Jena: 

So, but but I had some bits about teaching and about my family and things like that. But just, you know, and I know a lot of comics who have I’ve talked to well over the years who agree with this. I don’t know what it was, after the first night of humiliation and embarrassment and being absolutely awful, I don’t know what it was, that made me want to go back and do it again. You got

Scott Edwards: 

bit by the bug. And it’s interesting that even when we fail, that somehow the exhilaration and in relating to strangers, and getting any sort of response, even a Boo is mean somebody is listening to you.

Jeff Jena: 

If somebody is paying attention, exactly. So it wasn’t until many, many, many years later, not only maybe five or six years ago, when Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called outliers was talks about people that become very good at things. And, and I know you and I have both heard that for many years in comedy. Well, it takes 10 years to become really good at comedy. That’s true. And that’s what Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, Outliers. It goes, it takes 10 years of repeated practice to be really good at anything.

Scott Edwards: 

You know, right. And some people still don’t really achieve it. But if it if you work hard, if you work hard, and you’re dedicated, and I think you have to have a personal interest in Drive. In other words, I dealt with a lot of amateurs, that would come in and say, Oh, I heard this was an easy way to meet girls or an easy way to get money. And they were really interested in the art form, they just thought it was a quick path to show business or stardom. And it’s so not true.

Jeff Jena: 

You know, I, I taught classes in stand up comedy, and, you know, classes can’t give you talent. Classes can’t give you drive. Classes can’t give you desire. But what a Class A comedy class can do for you, is show you how to avoid some of the pitfalls that

Scott Edwards: 

we all make. Right? Everybody make mistakes.

Jeff Jena: 

Right? And it can be. And I think that taking a class with somebody who really knows what they’re doing, might shorten that 10 year gap to maybe eight years, you know, in becoming really good? Well, I don’t think anybody, I don’t think you could take a class from somebody and become a world famous comedian, comedian, in three months, or two months, or whatever. But something I used to tell people in my classes, or the was s, and it goes to what you were saying about people showing up because they think it’s easy money or you get, you know, easy, you know, women like comedians or whatever. And this is what I would tell people who said, You got to decide really early on in life, or the lifestyle, because it makes a difference. You know, if you’re just doing it for the lifestyle, hey, that’s great, but you’re not, you’re not really an artist. Exactly like if you’re in a pre op pre op for life. And another thing I used to tell people, if you want this to be your job, you have to treat it like a job. Oh, that’s really important. Yeah. And you’ll have to be a professional when you’re working.

Scott Edwards: 

You know? Oh, that’s such great advice.

Jeff Jena: 

And you and I have both known many comedians, some fairly successful, who didn’t take the job seriously. You know, it wasn’t, they didn’t treat it with respect, you know? Well, I think anyway, that’s, that’s totally straight off of your question. No, no,

Scott Edwards: 

no, it’s still it just to relate to that. Back in the 80s. We did a lot of open mics. And I took it very seriously that I was trying to help young entertainers maybe find their way or decide it wasn’t the right thing. And you probably don’t remember, but my partner Bob, and I wrote a book called be a stand up comic, or just look like one. I may have a copy of that book somewhere. But what’s interesting about the book is the first half of the book, we talk about all the nightmares of being a comic, because we were trying to dissuade those that thought it was a lark. And then in the back half of the book, we thought, okay, you’re still reading this, you must really be interested, here’s some tips to help you. And we interviewed several comics that we featured. Some of it was comedic Lee, but some was true advice in the book. But it was funny because just like you’re saying, we wrote the book for the same reason that you would teach those classes as you’re trying to weed out those that are there for a lark versus those that hey, if they have true interest, in fact, there was several people I work with that really weren’t that funny, but they had the drive, or they could write. And so all they needed was some of the lessons to focus their energies and their talents to make it work. And then there were other people that were kind of naturally funny on stage. But they didn’t write. They didn’t take it serious. They didn’t work at it. And they went nowhere. Now, both of us have had some experience in that. How did we end up working together? Do you remember what got you to Laughs Unlimited?

Jeff Jena: 

I don’t remember exactly. I turned it back. I knew about laughs and I was I moved to California from Chicago in I want to say 86, maybe 96. I think I moved out west. And, you know, as always, you know, you’d move somewhere and you start looking for work, you know, networking, what’s now called networking, you know, with friends and that. I just kind of remember hearing about last limited presale, just a great club. And I think maybe it was my friend timber door. Oh, who may have recommended me to you originally.

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, Tim was one of the guys that got his start at laughs he was doing he was a radio DJ and started doing stand up, ended up making a great career on it. In fact, one of my earlier podcast is a great interview with him. But that’s interesting that he introduced you because I do remember it being in the latter part of the 80s. But you were a strong regular headliner through a lot of the 90s and worked my clubs quite a bit. Because you’re very funny. And you didn’t come in as an opening act. I think you came in and maybe as a feature, but you were headlining right away.

Jeff Jena: 

No, no, I was headlining when I when I came there. I’m absolutely sure that but I tell you something else you might not remember one of the reasons you and I kind of clicked was because I was very interested in animation. In fact, they still collect animation. Oh, cool. You had also written a book about animation.

Scott Edwards: 

Right? We had the gallery we’d written a book. And you know how we got into it. Bruce Bohm. Oh, wow. Going back to going back to the late 70s, early 80s. But But it’s interesting. Yeah, I was really and still am involved in the animation world. But I didn’t remember that you were interested and you still collect good for you.

Jeff Jena: 

Right. And I had originally gotten interested in the early 80s. I was in New York City, there was an exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York, of Disney animators and animations, and doubles in AV one, I want to say, I had gone to see that exhibit. And I’d always been interested, I always liked cartoons and financial controls. And the exhibit just fascinated me for some reason. And I, I started collecting Animation Art back then. So in fact, I’m sitting in my family room now. And they probably have hung around the room about 35 or 40. Different framed up,

Scott Edwards: 

well, my wife, my wife can relate the house. You know, we had the gallery for over 10 years, and then we finally had to shut it down. When money got tight in the 90s Quit people quit buying art, but a lot of that animation and of course my personal favorites. All ended up in our house or our house is virtually a animation gallery. That’s interesting. You must have some great pieces.

Jeff Jena: 

I’ve got a few good ones I the one that that I really liked and I’ll never give up is I have two cells from The Simpsons, which are first season from The Simpsons with the stamp the studio stamp on the cell. And that was the only season where Matt groaning didn’t control the self interest and and they’re not available anymore. I don’t I mean, if you find a Samsung cell if the first season cell that has the studio stamp of that. I can’t remember what the MGM or what maybe was

Scott Edwards: 

was Fox Yeah. Fox

Jeff Jena: 

Now 20 Century Fox, who was and and 20 Century Fox, they have that studio stamp on the self for as a authenticity signature.

Scott Edwards: 

Wow. That’s that’s cool. And Simpsons is such a classic and still going today. I mean, amazing history of animation. I’m lucky to have a image a very large facial image of BART It looks like he’s coming through a hole or a window. And I have that sale and I and I have it right over the, the toilet and the guest bathroom. So while people are doing their business, it looks like Bart’s just staring at him with his grin, you know? But that’s great. Oh, I’m glad that. So I did forget that. I apologize. But I bet we had many good conversations like that a

Jeff Jena: 

lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of miles on the road, and say you and I have first met,

Scott Edwards: 

and a few drinks under my belt. Yeah. Well, that’s great. So anyway, you must have enjoyed our gallery. And hopefully you got to

Jeff Jena: 

the gallery. It was kind of right around the corner. If I remember, you know, kind of right around the corner from the club. I remember going in there. And I think he may have given me a chi No, I have that book. I know I have that book. I might not have your stand up comedy book. I think I do. Yeah, there’s in my, in my office library for those Sunday stuff, right.

Scott Edwards: 

Those listening, it was called sell magic. And it was the art of collecting animation. And it was, again, it was a effort of love for the art form. And we got a chance to tour the Disney archives. And where we really had a lot of fun with that. Well, I’m glad that we had that tissue can

Jeff Jena: 

help me with this. We’ll just we’re going off and all kinds of tangents. But there was a stand up comedian. I want to say her name was Karen, who, who? whose father was a Disney an animator.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, that is amazing. Good memory. Yeah.

Jeff Jena: 

But I don’t know what Karen Anderson.

Scott Edwards: 

And maybe it wasn’t, maybe it was another Karen, I’ll have to get somebody smarter than me to recall.

Jeff Jena: 

Because I remember very, and I think I work with her once at at lab. Because I remember, something sparked a conversation between us about animation. And then that’s why I think it was at last because we may have walked over to the animation gallery. And I said something to her about collecting. She goes oh, this is my father used to hand me cells from Cinderella and Snow White. And I used to cut them out. I used to cut out with my little scissors, cut out the figures. And I said do you have any idea? How much money? You know, like when? When you talk about putting baseball cards in your spokes as a kid?

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, right. You know, you don’t have any claim at the time of the intrinsic value of something

Jeff Jena: 

of that you put that Yogi Berra rookie card on your bike.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, and for those listening that don’t understand animation sales, which were the good ones were hand painted, and hand drawn. And they were a byproduct of a movie. And so the studio’s didn’t give a rat’s butt about him at the time. Now they’re, you know, valuable collectibles. So, bring it back down to comedy. You did work for me and laughs for many years. Did you have any particular memories of work in the club? Or was there anybody in particular you worked with that you enjoyed?

Jeff Jena: 

You know, I, I remember, I’m gonna bring up some painful memories. Maybe I remember your partner, who was a lovely woman who heard she had twin girls, I believe, yeah, Sue Henderson. And who was the most wonderful and she passed away, unfortunately, at a very young age.

Scott Edwards: 

She was falling. It was very sad.

Jeff Jena: 

And I have some guy he was not not that you and Jill weren’t great. I don’t want you to take that the wrong. No, no,

Scott Edwards: 

no, I was the boss. I didn’t have to be like,

Jeff Jena: 

but I remember how gracious and kind she was, you know, to. And that just, I remember, we had had a discussion turn I because she had had cancer once and gotten through. And my wife is a breast cancer survivor. And I remember talking to her about being a breast cancer survivor. And I think she had been in remission for 15 years, maybe more when she got sick again.

Scott Edwards: 

And it was really shocking, yes, and

Jeff Jena: 

very shocking and very sad. And I just remember I respect the remember, you know, I don’t remember like particular like stats or, or things like that. I remember more people. Yes, you know, interactions I had with people and and that kind of thing you know

Scott Edwards: 

That’s really the important thing to take away from it and you hit Yeah, the right words and describing Sue, she was my better half in the business in and was my partner at that point in the end of the 90s. I’d made her and her husband, Fred partners, and we actually lost her within weeks of Jill and I getting married when she put our wedding together. And it was a very dramatic time. And she was a very special woman. And thank you for bringing that up. In fact, one of the podcast features and interview of her twin daughters are both very successful on their own right, but grew up in the club, and I interviewed them on what it was like growing up working for me and their mom and being you know, like kids in this comedy atmosphere.

Jeff Jena: 

It’s it’s a good lesson if they were like a pervert in the club, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Protecting servers and cooks, they get all kinds of things.

Scott Edwards: 

Which, you know, it’s interesting, though you bring up a good point is that a course this podcast features on interviews and in comedy sets and talking about the industry in the art form. But what makes it work? What’s cohesive is it’s the relationships that we built. And just like talking with you, we haven’t seen each other in over 20 years. And yet, I feel like we saw each other on the golf course a week ago. I mean, you

Jeff Jena: 

greens, how that happened? You know, that? Yeah,

Scott Edwards: 

well, we went through a shared experience, something that we all cared about. And that’s something that that last now, i You were a great headliner, and before I move on to I have another topic to ask you about. But I got to tell you that I will never forget your bit about if I just made five more dollars. You know, it’s actually it’s actually 40 more dollars, okay. 40 more dollars.

Jeff Jena: 

Maybe it was inflation that drove it up.

Scott Edwards: 

You talk about even if you won the lottery, after this, and after that, if I just add 40 more dollars. And because of your history, pay my utility bill is a history, your history as a math teacher, you utilize that and brought up interesting topics that the audience can relate to, that involve money in math, and I think that was always almost your hook that worked with the audience very well. And I always remember it fondly.

Jeff Jena: 

Well, thank God. They’re very, they’re very, very nice.

Scott Edwards: 

And it’s actually AppSense. If I just had 40 more dollars. Now you’ve done a lot of stand up. And I know that in your career, you had several television shots, as I alluded to in the opening, and I know you’ve worked a lot of cruise ships, and I’d love to hear your two cents on that. But before I get to that, did you or did you not actually manage the improv in Irvine?

Jeff Jena: 

Yeah, my son was my son Myles, who’s now 22 years old, was born in 1998. And when when he was being about to be born, I was I was doing really well as a comic on the road. I was headlining improv and printed bones and other clubs around the country and making a pretty good nickel. But I just had this fear that if I continued, just being a road comic, that someday I’d come home to a son, who was 16 years old, had no idea who I was

Scott Edwards: 

roadwork is really a rough life.

Jeff Jena: 

It’s a very hard line. So I went to Robert Hartman, who, if you’re really inside comedy, you know, Robert, yeah, I do. But he, he at the crime, owned a number of improv had taken over the entire chain from Budd Friedman. And worker was a good friend. It was that was actually and Robert was just launching his agency and that I was thinking, you know, I can be an agent, as I know about conquests, and I know all the people to talk to, and so I could be an agent. And I was going to have a lunch with Robert, and just asked him for a job. And so I call him and he goes, it’s funny, you should call because I’ve been thinking about calling you. Oh, that’s great. Because when we’re talking about something, let’s get together so we go out and it’s like, almost like the classic movie. No, you go first. No, you go. So Robert says to me, listen, we’re moving the Irvine improv, which was one of the kind of the one of the flagship clubs of the improv we’re moving the Irvine improv from its old location, which was over by the campus of UC Irvine. We’re moving it over to this new thing they’re building called the Irvine spectrum, which is going to be this big entertainment and shopping complex. And he said, I don’t want it to be like every other comedy club in the country where you go to see the headliner. And the other two acts are just kind of feel on time and, and that kind of thing. And I need somebody to be who’s a good comment, to be kind of the face of the club point. And he said, Would you be interested? And I said, Wow, I’d be really interested, because I am trying to get off the road. On the way.

Scott Edwards: 

The timing was good.

Jeff Jena: 

The timing was perfect. So my, he said, Well, if you if you did this job for me, how much would I have to pay you every week? And know how it is like when you go into a no gate negotiation? On a job? There is that number? You know,

Scott Edwards: 

you have you have a number of the back of your mind, kind of high and a low.

Jeff Jena: 

Right, right. And so I’m thinking, Man, I want to hit this number, right? Because he has a number in mind. And I don’t want to be too far over the number, but you won’t like it. But I don’t want to be too far into the number. Because then I won’t make enough money. I’ll leave money on the table. So I, I looked at him. And I said, Well, Robert, I said, you know, I said I’ll be getting money from you every week. So it’s not like when I’m on the road that I have to make the same amount of money. So and I throw out a number that I think is a little higher than he wants to pay. And he goes really done. In my mind, in my mind, I go, that was more money there.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, yeah, definitely. But, but it

Unknown: 

was what it was a fair number. I mean, it was a fair salary. And so my job was basically that I ran the show, I hosted the shows, I ran the show room, and I kind of meet it and greeted guests as they come in. And I got to know all the regulars in the room and everything. And and through that. I got to meet a number of kind of name quote unquote comics who I didn’t know before. And I kind of became friends with them. That gig there led to a number of TV appearances from me because producers and directors and casting directors came into the club to watch another comic saw me do 10 or 15 minutes to open the show and later approached me said hey, would you come on the show and do five so it was pretty nice was pretty good gig for almost five years

Scott Edwards: 

Wow. Congratulations as most things in life they

Unknown: 

things run their course and and so after about five years I parted ways with the Irvine improv with with great memories and, and no regrets.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, that’s a great story. And the reason I brought it up, Jeff, is that you had my job at the Irvine improv. And I’ve interviewed a lot of comics, I’ve interviewed a few ex employees and stuff. But nobody has crossed that line between comic and producer. Even I am strictly I think of myself strictly as a producer, did you have any insights or reaction to being on both sides of the fence?

Unknown: 

And the thing that being on the other side of the fence is you get an appreciation for you know, a comic, you might look at a room and think well, there’s 300 people here that pay 10 bucks each. That’s $3,000 I’m not getting my fair share of that money. When you’re on the other side of the table, you realize that that 3000 Not only has to cover the comics, but it has to cover the hotels and the rent, and the insurance and the employees and your

Scott Edwards: 

saw the business side of it. Right. Yeah. And that’s interesting. And I was curious, I bet it made you a really good producer because you knew what it was like on the comics side. Right. And I bet after you left, it made you a better entertainer because you understood a little better about the business side because I do think that some entertainers that don’t understand the money in the business side, you know might get an attitude or feel like like you said they’re being taken advantage of which is rarely the case. I mean, in my what happened, okay,

Jeff Jena: 

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interview later on after I had left the improv as as an employee. Robert contacted me about He said, Hey, you wouldn’t be interested in investing in a club or gym. And, and I had planned to move back east near where I grew up in the copy of Tom, it was kind of near where I was moving to. And I said, you know, I talked about how much was involved and how much money you had to put in. And that was 1415 years ago, and I invested a relatively small amount of money, and I have done very well. So I knew that potential that a well run club could provide for an income and invested in a club with Robert and done very well in that investment over the 15 years, I’ve had been invest.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, congratulations. Were you a silent partner? Or did you get involved?

Jeff Jena: 

Hey, yeah, I’m very quiet, I just say thank you, when they send a check.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, that’s interesting. I had the opportunity to get involved in other people’s comedy clubs or chains. And I was really enjoying my life at laughs, and didn’t want to mess it up. And so I passed. And so there’s a few occasions that are pretty famous, where I help people get into the business that ended up making much more money and much more successful than I was, but I was really happy with what I was doing. And I think that’s because I was never in it for the money. I was just, right, just loving the whole thing. Well, that’s interesting. And I’m thank you for sharing that, because that is a different perspective, and interacting with the comics. Now, when you did interact with the comics, and you were negotiating prices and stuff, did it give you a little bit of an edge having been on the road?

Jeff Jena: 

Yeah, you know, and I’ll tell you a quick last year, I won’t mention names, but I’m at the club one week, and we have a headliner in the club. Now, keep in mind, the guy only lives in LA, which is a 40 minute drive away. So but he’s staying in a hotel, a very nice hotel. And every 25 to 30 minutes, I get a call, Hey, how do I get to the club? thing, you know, 30 minutes? Hey, how do I get something to eat? And finally, after about the fourth phone call, I just stopped and I said, Hey, man, let me ask you a question. When you’re at your home, 40 minutes away from here, who likes harassed there?

Scott Edwards: 

That’s a great response.

Jeff Jena: 

And, and it was, you know, and fortunately, I had had a relationship with this person, as a comedian before that. And he kind of got the message. You know, yeah, that was the other advantage. I’ll just tell you one more thing. The other advantage that I had as a showroom manager, and that was that I had a relationship with a lot of comics. And somebody like a comic, who I won’t mention to get a name, but somebody would be coming in, like next week, and all the people are in such a pain in that case, so hard to get along with that case of such a, you know, and, and I said, Really, and so he would come. And when he saw I was the person there in charge. The whole attitude was just, I’m working for a friend,

Scott Edwards: 

oh, you know, Oh, that’s such an advantage.

Jeff Jena: 

And so at the end of the week, the staff would go, wow, he wasn’t like that at all. Last time. He was this and he was that nice. You know, and just, you know, just, you know, one of the things is, a lot of times and you know, this is true. A lot of times guys who are artists, they’ll push you to see what they can get away with,

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, of course, it’s a business.

Unknown: 

And when you, when you draw a line, you say, Listen, that’s not going to happen. And if you if you don’t like that, then you can just go because I can get another comment.

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, and that’s so true. And it’s important that you understood that you had that power.

Jeff Jena: 

And I knew that Robert would back my play. And I had another incident. And again, I won’t mention the comics name. But I had them in a very nice hotel, in a suite. And they called up and said, This hotel is totally unsatisfactory for my in that the manager was called nepta coming in call me themselves, and the manager come into that hotel, totally unsatisfactory. She’s, and I said, well, listen, that’s the hotel. I don’t know what to tell you. And he goes, Manager Go to me, Well, my client is probably going to walk on the gig. And I stopped and I said, How many weeks there’s your pregnancy guy, this this person was making a lot of money. You know, as a name, headline. And I said, How many weeks does your client have an improv? And he goes, Well, what’s that? You’re so well, because you’re not only walking on this week in Irvine, you’re going to be walking on all these weeks, because I’m going to hang up. I’m going to tell Robert about our conversation. And I’m going to tell him how you talk to me. And he’s going to cancel all your week. And the guy like hangs up on who I call Robert. And I said, I said, here’s the deal. And he goes, I got your back. So the manager calls Robert, a few minutes later, the bencher calls me back and goes, Hey, listen, you know, we’ll be at the club on time tonight.

Scott Edwards: 

Got to his purse strings. And the whole week was very smooth. Yeah, wow. That’s That’s a great story. I’m not afraid to name names. I don’t know if you’ve ever actually fired a comic midweek. But I had the pleasure. Two guys that ended up having really good careers, one very famous Bill Maher, and then Bill Kirkham Bower the two bills, were the only comics in my 20 plus years of managing the club that I fired midweek, just because of attitude and problems, and never regretted it. In fact, I still talk about it. Because I think guys with that kind of attitude, and think their shit don’t stink doesn’t carry with me as a club owner, it was all about being funny in the audience’s and an actually, in both those cases, what really offended me was that they were telling my audiences who paid to see them how stupid they were. And it’s like, right, you know, who the hell are you to think to do that? I mean, that nobody’s that good. So that’s interesting, and great stories. And that’s the kind of stuff that you would run into on the business side. And then on the comedy side, you are fairly unaware of, especially if you were a good easy to work with comic like you were. Now I know, in the years since you’ve had a lot of success. We mentioned over 40 appearances on TV like MTV, Showtime, HBO, and you’ve done a lot of cruises. How many years were you on the seas?

Jeff Jena: 

Oh, well, I started doing, I kind of started, I started doing cruises when I was living in Los Angeles. And I would do them just to kind of fill in my schedule, you know, well, I don’t know, per week, I can go down and do this weekend cruise at a Long Beach, pick up some money now. Okay, I’ll do it. And I was working in Vegas a lot back in the middle 90s. And that, and I didn’t do a lot. But when I decided to move away from California moved back to the Midwest, I was already beginning to kind of age out of nightclub. If you know what I’m saying,

Scott Edwards: 

oh, yeah, no, it’s definitely harder to get older. And

Jeff Jena: 

I’m not like a huge name, you know, I’m not a big star. So the demand for me to appear in nightclubs was kind of falling off. And so I had worked for an agency out of Florida, Don casino vacancy, and Wendy, who was Wendy casino, but she’s now married is now when the garbage. And I called Wendy. And I hadn’t worked for her in seven or eight years. And I called her up in 2005 or six, I want to say, and I just said to her, I said, Hey, Jeff, Jenna, and I don’t know if you’ll remember me. And she goes, Jeff, Jim, what are you doing? And so she goes, it’s great to hear from you. How are you? And so we talked for, you know, 10 or 15 minutes about totally everything, not this, right. And just like you said earlier, it’s like you have a relationship with somebody in this business. And you don’t talk to them for a number of years. When you start talking all of a sudden, it’s like that didn’t just last week. Yeah. And so after about 15 minutes, I kind of stopped. I say, you know, I went the I guess it’s really no secret. Why I’m calling you. I’m really hurting for some work right now. And without hesitation, she said, How many weeks? Can I give you?

Scott Edwards: 

Wow. See, she had the memory of your act that I have.

Jeff Jena: 

Right. And so when do you get that was very, very nice to me. She helped me start getting work on ships. And so I’ve been working with ships pretty regularly since 2005. So about 15 years now, I’ve been doing a lot of cruise work, still do a lot of corporate stuff.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, you’re perfect for corporate and cruises because I didn’t mention this earlier in the podcast. But in there’s a difference out there. You’re a clean comic, the kind that I appreciated, especially as a club owner that I could bring in as a headliner. I have no problem with dirty comics or comics that dropped the F bomb when it’s got a reason. But there’s a handful of people as especially from our generation, and a lot of them are famous and a lot of them and you fall in that category that was very funny, clean, very successful, just not famous, and I hope I’m not taking anything away. But that’s the reality of the business. You know, It’s like there’s a there’s hundreds of really good actors, but we can only name you know, 10 or 20. Right? Right.

Jeff Jena: 

But here’s the thing, Scott is like, people talk about success all the time. It’s like, to me, I’m very successful. Because for 40 years, I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life, both on and off stage. My career onstage has given me financially enough money to do what I want to do. When I’m not on stage.

Scott Edwards: 

It’s really a blessing. Now, many people can say that.

Jeff Jena: 

And it’s like, you know, and I tell people, you know, I haven’t worked a day in 40 years.

Scott Edwards: 

That’s great. It’s true. You know, I

Jeff Jena: 

mean, I’ve had jobs, but but it’s not work. And I was one of those people who had real jobs, like teaching, I worked in a steel mill, I worked in another factory that made bathroom cabinets. I’ve had real jobs. And real jobs can be soul sucking. You know, but if you have a job that you love going to, and it’s something want to do. You know, that’s a blessing beyond comparing life. So Oh, exactly.

Scott Edwards: 

And you said that very well. And it’s so true.

Unknown: 

I’ve been very, very fortunate in that sense. So, like, I’ve had a very, me, I’ve had a very, very successful career. Now. I didn’t get everything I wanted out of it. You know, I’m not so rich that I can just, you know, burn $100 bills. But, you know, I’ve done well, you know,

Scott Edwards: 

I think you stipulated to me, what was important to you in the six and why you feel successful. And I totally agree. I kind of went the other way, I had a lot of fun when I was young. And I’ve had more of the real jobs, since which has not been my live stream. But by through this podcast, and by doing, I still do charitable fundraisers, and I get on committees to help produce shows. And that’s kept me my toe in the creative world. And I’m envious as someone like you that’s been able to keep that going all these years. And let’s take it on to the next subject. One of the great benefits of being a successful road comic, in entertainer like you is that we can we have the time and money for our joyous times, and for you and me, but mostly you it’s on a golf course. In fact, I believe your wife is a golf pro. Or she

Unknown: 

was at one time, she’s, uh, she had been retired from that for a number of years.

Scott Edwards: 

But she plays I mean, how cool is it to be able to play with your I get the joy of playing with Jill all the time. So I imagine you guys get out and hit the links and still have fun.

Jeff Jena: 

Why don’t we actually played in a tournament together this weekend? Oh, good. Oh, yeah. So we had a great time, Saturday and Sunday playing and having a great time. So how’s your golf is? Golf is, you know what? Not bad? Good. Not bad at all. I’m blessed in another way physically, you know, I mean, I’m 68 years old now. But physically, you know, thank God. I, I don’t have I haven’t had any major health problems in my life. I still, you know, I can still I still walk great. My balance is good. You know, my memory is great.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, this is important for a good golf game.

Jeff Jena: 

Yeah, and I exercise all the time. And, and, and I’ve been very fortunate to not have a lot of physical problems. And so, you know, I can still hit the ball pretty good. And I still love the announcer desk. You know, it’s like, I told a friend today we we played today is just absolutely gorgeous day to day. And I said, You know what? You wake up in the morning, you get to hang out with people you like, you get to do something you love in this unbelievably beautiful place. With this absolutely perfect weather. If you play well. That’s like a bonus. Right? Right. You know, that’s just the bonus. That’s just the icing on the cake. You know?

Scott Edwards: 

Well, you’ve been doubly blessed because you were able to make a living doing what you loved. And when you got the chance to play. You got to do golf in it. Because your travels I bet you’ve played courses from coast to coast.

Jeff Jena: 

I’ve been then not only that, but then I got I think I counted up once how many different countries I had

Scott Edwards: 

played golf. Oh, in different countries. Interesting.

Unknown: 

You know, like Canada, Mexico, I’ve been played golf in Jamaica, in England and Scotland. and Ireland. So in Australia, so I think I’ve played golf in 12 or 13 different countries, which is a whole nother you know,

Scott Edwards: 

blessing. Yeah, yeah, well, well. Have to have another podcast just about golf? Well, yeah, I think that’s great.

Jeff Jena: 

You know who I’ll throw in a name just real quick, because almost run out, you know, who has my dream job of now? I don’t know if you ever worked with David Wood? Yeah. Oh, David, who was not there was, was there a ventriloquist thing they would

Scott Edwards: 

Dave would was a Dave would was a ventriloquist, right.

Unknown: 

But there was a David Wood, who was a stand up. And he now has a job, where he travels all over the world, and plays golf courses. And then just works for one of the golf magazines or a golf website

Scott Edwards: 

and just writes about,

Unknown: 

writes about the courses or writes them. And then he leads trips. Like to like Scotland, let’s say, like, hit they’ll, like organize a trip of, you know, 50 or 100 golfers who are going to go to Scotland for a week. And he’s like, he goes along. And he’s like, the kind of the host of the trip. Oh, that is like living. He’s living my dream life. Right? Yeah.

Scott Edwards: 

See, it’s funny, as good as your life has been. It’s it’s easy to find somebody that has something you can envy that may especially as a talented golfer like you to be able to see somebody making a living, doing what he loves, getting and getting paid for it. I mean, Damn, that’s great.

Jeff Jena: 

He is. I see his posts on Facebook all the time. And I always liked him. And I always like leave alone, though, man. You’re living. You’re living life and you’re living the dream.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, that’s, that’s great. Well, let’s bring it back down to comedy. Jeff, what I want to do is I’m going to share some material tape live of you doing your sets. As I mentioned a couple of times, you’re one of the top headliners that we had through the club. Always clean, always funny. I never remember having any issues working with you. It was always a pleasure. And thank you so much for saying some kind words about Sue, and really appreciate it.

Jeff Jena: 

And you know, I’m sure you don’t want to big pat on the back. But you and Jill were always great to meet you. And I always like I can remember going out playing golf with you and Jill and I think maybe we went to a program to an Oakland A’s baseball game once or twice together. And just, you know, those are the things that I remember more than like, particular shows or anything like that.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, like I said in the beginning, it’s the relationship we built, that we’re able to continue today. Thank you so much for that. Ladies and gentlemen, I am so happy to share with you some of the comedy of this very funny man Jeffrey, Jana. If you get a chance check them out on dry bar comedy. Is it dry bar? comedy.com? Is it that simple?

Jeff Jena: 

Yeah. Yeah, you can go to dry bar comedy.com. And just search my name Jeffrey, Jenna, or old dog new jokes. And you can watch the special. You can also find clips on Facebook or YouTube if you just search by name.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, that’s great, but let’s not make him search. I’m going to play some of your great material right now. Jeff, thanks so much for spending some time with me tonight. And I appreciate you doing the podcast ladies and gentlemen. Sit back we’re gonna hear some great live comedy. Thank you Jeff. Hope you enjoyed doing this.

Jeff Jena: 

Got it was great to talk to you my best to Jill and take care of yourself.

Scott Edwards: 

Ladies and gentlemen, here are some great stand up comedy by Jeffrey Jenna.

Jeff Jena: 

I have one son my son’s name is Miles if I mentioned him later in the show Miles is my son unless I’m in Canada and he’s kilometers younger people help the older people they don’t get the metric system. Look at them they’re confused. He is a great boy. He is our only child so you as you can imagine he is the Crown Prince at our house and he just turned 19 I love that reaction so let me answer the question and every woman in the rooms mind right now. 66 Cuz I know when I say God, I’m 19 years old son every woman or mangoes, but how the heck old? Are you grandpa? That’s not right. He’s got a 19 year old and our Picard. Older people help the younger people with that job. He’s a great boy. He just turned 19 I was in charge of the birthday party this year. So we did. We had some cake and ice cream. We gave him the presence and it was dad’s when his children when he turned one. Did you guys have a birthday party for him? Of course of course. And that was your idea, dad? Of course not. When miles turned one My wife and I got on this huge argument about the birthday party and stuff like she’s yelling at me across the house. It’s important that we have his friends over. Like, maybe he’s one. He doesn’t know his own friends. out of the house for three hours, you don’t know me when I come back. And now I don’t have to tell any dad in the house tonight who won this argument? Do I dance? We ended up spending $1,800 i I see the look young millennial man. Let me explain. This is kind of like some kind of government project. There were cost overruns and union problems. We spent $1,800 on a birthday party for a one year. I thought my idea was much better. This is my idea. I said we take him to the county fair, put them on a pony have his picture. I take the picture home. I throw it into a drawer. And I wait. I wait five 815 years from now he will find that picture and he will come to me his father and they go Daddy. What was this? So that was your first when you opponent. We used to ride him all around the neighborhood. And one day I had to go out of town. Your mom didn’t take care of me. I know you don’t remember that.

Scott Edwards: 

Hey, that was a great comedy set by Jeffrey Jenna. I know you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for listening to this show. We’ll see you next week. Bye.

Announcer: 

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Stand Up Comedy your host and emcee. For information on the show merchandise and our sponsors or to send comments to Scott. Visit our website at WWW dot stand up your host and mc.com Look for more episodes soon and enjoy the world of stand up comedy. Visit a comedy show room near you.

Take a look at the rest of our podcast transcriptions here.

Join the Mailing List!

Join the Mailing List!

Stay up to date in the Business of Comedy & receive exclusive offers from the Man Behind the Laughs!

Please select the following option to consent:

You have Successfully Subscribed!