What made it into this week’s column: Why Jay Mohr remains a stand-up guy in his new role as morning sports-talk host, thanks to his kids getting him up earlier than any professional man should have to roll out of bed.
What could have made it in but did not?
Why, more Mohr quotes, of course. Such as:
== The biggest surprise to hosting the show so far:
The audience is the biggest surprise, their level of enthusiasm. To me, I had this idea going in: ‘Let’s act like I’m guest hosting and in a month people will realize, oh, my gosh, he’s still here.’ But on Day One, people were calling in, almost choosing sides – I’m riding with you, man. I’m fired up. They seemed as excited as I was and that makes you very grateful. You don’t get that on a movie set. Crips driving in from Diamond Bar carrying sandbags to put in front of Jennifer Aniston’s feet so she hits her mark aren’t the ones saying, ‘So glad you’re here, buddy! Yeah! Acting! Do it!’ But it’s important to people, right now.
== On what happened to the show “Mohr Sports” that ESPN ran in 2001:
That was a great time — 25 episodes, 14 time slots and then we were told our audience isn’t following us around. in hindsight, we know the ratings we got then are the same ones everyone’s getting now. At the time, it was a cold water shot to get a 0.4 when you’d think you’d get a 3.0. I’m very proud of that show — my first shot at really getting to assemble a team like a general manager. I had K.P. Anderson and Ralphie May. Now K.P. runs “The Soup” at E! and Ralphie is a Hall of Fame comedian. I stand by it. We had guests who were ridiculous. Dennis Leary and Alec Baldwin were agreeing to be the second guests. Everyone would do sketches with us. It was a place where people wanted to hang out, with Bob Morten, who had 19 Emmy nominations with Letterman, as our producer and his philosophy was: Make it ‘a hang.’ We did it at Hollywood Center Studios. When guests came, they weren’t in a hurry to get out. We got to a point where Al Sharpton, Suge Knight, Tom Brady, Alec Baldwin — we were writing sketches only because they were all still there. Seriously. We had Al Sharpton saying, ‘What kind of hair products do you use!’ and holding up a hairspray can. We only wrote it because he was still there. Kobe Bryant was the first person I interviewed.
I think this show is ‘a hang’ too. I think what’s exciting and different with this show is that I talk to these guys as a comedian first, it’s not a haircut in a suit. So when I’m talking to Kenny Smith from TNT, you do a little research and find out his wife is a ‘Price Is Right’ model, and I want to know if they argue about how much stuff costs in the house. And he starts laughing and goes off. It’s what I’d ask him if we were in a layover in a bar airport. I think sometimes radio gets bogged down in stats and numbers and it’s incredible the wide open lane I’ve been given to have fun. It’s absurd to me, and fantastic that someone has said: ‘This is your job. We’d really like it if you put the fun back in it.’ Oh, OK.
== On whether he can continue his acting gigs while doing this:
I don’t know. This is all my attention. I can do a stand-up in Las Vegas, fly over and come back, but as far as acting goes, I guess we’ll see, but I haven’t thought about it since I started. Name me one actor who wouldn’t want to come in and talk to Kobe Bryant. You can get up a 4 and be at Malta doing stunts underwater in a sunken submarine set for 15 hours, or you could sleep eight hours, kiss your kids goodbye, and talk to Kobe Bryant. Ten out of 10 would take the later. Even Hugh Jackman. As for the standup, I just have to be more strategic. You can’t have that rambling tour anymore.
== On the role he plays in the upcoming movie “The Incredible Burt Wondestone,” starring Steve Carrell as a Vegas magician, with Jim Carrey in the cast — and Mohr as a character called “Rick the Implausible”:
There are three times in my life where I’ve sort of left my body professionally. When I did the “Jiminy Glick Show” with Martin Short and five minutes into it, I realized there was no prep, they pushed me out onto the stages and trusted me to go have fun with him and Michael McKeaon. I must have done something right.
This time, I’m ad libbing with Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell, we’re trying not to laugh, to hold it together. That’s a weird moment.
The third is here: When people are calling on our segment called ‘rapid fire,’ and in two and a half minutes, there’s Montana, Maine, Florida, Arizona, Las Vegas, California, Sydney, Australia – and a guy calls today from Laughlin Air Force Base (in Del Rio, Texas) waiting for an artillery strike. That’s the craziest thing in the world to reach that many people now. The boundaries have completely evaporated. No one’s regional any more.
== On what he thinks might be missing from sports talk today:
I really don’t think anything. You’ve got enough personalities especially with XM satellite radio now. You’ve got your guys who are way out. There’s guys that just shake the corporate tree and bite the hand that feed them like Dino Costa, and that’s why you listen. You’ve got guys kinda funny, very analytical and statistical. I really don’t think anyone’s missing. And if there was, I’d say so. It’s whatever town your in, they’re covered. I like all sports. From doing stand-up, I know how Boston fan acts and feel about SEC football, how big the Cowboys are in Texas and how suffering Astros fans are. So I can talk about that. I think A-to-Z, every color of the rainbow is represented – urban shows, Spanish-speaking shows, the super-funny guys with drum rolls and cowbells. And then there’s the guy who combines all of it like Dan Patrick. He’s hysterical. Calmest, coolest interviews I’ve ever heard. You never get the feeling there’s a clock on his show ever. I aspire one day to be as good as Dan Patrick.
== Why did the front page of the New York Times’ sports section Thursday have a huge chunk of blank white space? Ed Sherman of the ShermanReport.com addresses it.
== As a follow-up to Bill Walton’s returning to call college basketball games for ESPN and the Pac-12 Network: Coming off Thursday’s coverage of Arizona-Oregon on ESPN2, Walton has agreed to coordinate his broadcasts with a 10-week, nine-school speaking tour completed with a branded tour bus that will include having him as a guest lecturer on the USC and UCLA campuses on Wednesday and Thursday. He should cover some 3,500 miles over the next 10 weeks with stops at both Oregon and Arizona schools, in Seattle for the University of Washington and then at Stanford and Cal in late February and early March, in concert with him doing conference games on ESPNU and ESPN2. The Pac-12.com will follow along to publish photos, video and blog posts on its website to chronicle the trip. “I am coming to share the dream, to spread the love, and to provide the help on the way that we are all sure to need,” Walton said. “There are no rules or limits, other than to be on time and to come with an open mind and a caring soul.” Walton is also scheduled to do four games during the Pac-12 post-season tournament in Las Vegas from March 13-15 for the Pac-12 Network.