A Tulsa comedian is getting laughs around the world with a few film appearances along the way.
Comedian Jay Dee lives in Owasso. He can be seen in the 2014 film “Rudderless,” in which he plays “a partier,” and this year’s “Te Ata,” in which he plays the late actor Bela Lugosi.
VITAL STATS: Raised in an oil family, Jay Dee bounced from Tulsa to Bartlesville to McKinney, Texas, for high school. He earned a degree from Rogers State University in computer science.
NOW: An Internet tech whiz at a mental health facility by day and a tongue-in-cheek comic by night. He was the Tulsey Entertainer of the Year in 2011 and a presenter in 2012. Dee has worked with stars including Dave Chappelle and appeared alongside Billy Crudup, Selena Gomez and William H. Macy in the Oklahoma-set feature film, “Rudderless,” which premiered locally at the Circle Cinema in October.
How did you get into comedy? I always had that class clown thing going on. I was watching a late-night show once and they had a comic on, and he was awful. I said, “I don’t think I’m great, but I could be awful also. I’m going to give it a shot.”
Do you remember your first successful gig? My first good gig was at Wits End Comedy Club in Westminster, Colorado. I had emceed in Tulsa and surrounding states, but Wits End was the first real comedy club I was booked to feature at. Emceeing is tough because the audience doesn’t care about the first comic, and they aren’t warmed up yet. When I featured at Wits End, the audience was already warmed up, and they were laughing nonstop. Midway through my set, I couldn’t believe how much laughter there was, and instead of appreciating it, I just couldn’t help but wonder, “What the hell is wrong with all these people?”
Another time I played Caroline’s Comedy Club and Gotham Comedy Club in NYC on the same night. That was pretty incredible.
Have you ever bombed? Oh, absolutely. It’s part of the business. I can kill one night and fall flat on my face the next. Most recently, I had just come back from a West Coast tour. I had some of the best sets of my entire life in Los Angeles and my international debut in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. I returned home to Tulsa the following weekend and had an absolute dud back home.
I was oozing with confidence my first time on stage, and I bombed. It was a great dose of humility. Bombing — it’s kind of like watching television ... Just me, staring at people, staring at me.
How was filming “Rudderless”? The vibe on the set was really amazing. William H. Macy has a very strong aura around him, so you know when he’s around. He’s a very short guy, but he’s strong; emanates energy. He did a great job directing and was really organized.
If you could perform anywhere in Tulsa, where would it be? I’m actually not going to go with the largest scale and say the BOK Center, even though I’ve pictured it, but actually, the Brady.
What’s up next? I’ve been dabbling with bits of acting. I would like to do more.
I was cast to play the role of Bela Lugosi for the feature film “Te Ata,” which recently filmed in Guthrie ... I was also cast in another feature film that’s about to begin shooting called “Monday at 11:01.”
For a while, my goal of performing in all 50 states consumed me. Then after I did that, I did Canada, and that was great. I feel like I’m at a really good point right now, and I’ve entertained the idea of checking out London ... Late-night appearances would be pretty cool.
Describe your brand of comedy in five words. “Apparently not for Tulsa audiences.” Just kidding! I love Tulsa, I love the support I’ve gotten, but the audiences here are tough. I applaud anybody that starts their comedy career in Tulsa, because we’re a tough crowd. Even so, the real successful people in comedy are the ones that have to face adversity, and there are some really talented, successful people performing here.
Editor's note: Jay Dee achieved his dream of performing at the Brady Theater when he did an opening set for comedian Dave Chappelle on Dec. 19, 2014.