Last updated: December 2, 2011 5:35 pm
‘Gary Oldman is maybe the only actor that’s better than I am’
Internet comedy sensation Jon Lajoie takes a break from new sitcom to tour across Canada
VICTORIA (CUP) — I dial the number I’ve been given. Instead of the usual ring of a telephone line, I’m treated to the sounds of an orchestra in full flight. There is no answer, just a disaffected voice on the other end simply telling me “Jon’s not here, leave a message.” I call back. The same orchestra, only this time, an answer.
It’s internet comedy sensation and star of FX’s sitcom The League (now in its third season in the U.S., first in Canada), Montreal’s Jon Lajoie. He’s on a prep day for a live show in Saskatoon and has no problem killing some time talking to me: “What the hell else am I gonna do in Saskatoon, right? Not a lot to do except freeze my ass off and eat horribly.”
Between live touring, releasing comedy albums through iTunes, his character on The League and of course, his famous multi-million-viewed Internet videos, Lajoie has built a strong, loyal, cult following. The Internet videos were what launched him, but Lajoie says that wasn’t the plan when he started putting them up on the web.
“Go ahead, look up my first video, which is ‘Saturday Night Webcam Party’ and you tell me if that looks like a guy with a plan,” says Lajoie. “It looked like a drunk guy in an apartment who is messing around in front of a camera, and that’s exactly what it is.”
Despite the rough edges and lack of technical skills in that first video, it got Lajoie started on a quest to hone his craft and get better with subsequent videos.
“It was really exciting to start doing it and to kind of explore shooting videos and editing them and seeing what I could do with them,” he says. “I really did invest a lot of time, once I started; reading about editing, reading about shooting and different camera lenses and blah, blah, blah. Not to say I have any production value in my videos. But I just kind of know a bit more about it and I’ve gotten better — regardless of whether I’ve gotten good or not, I got better.”
The effort more than paid off as the videos, including “High as Fuck,” “Everyday Normal Guy (1 & 2)” and “2 Girls 1 Cup,” began to go viral.
“People started watching. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna try to ride this wave a little bit,’” says Lajoie.
The absurdist humor of Lajoie’s songs and commercials for fake products caught the eye of Jeff and Jackie Schaeffer, creators and producers of The League, as they scoured the internet looking for someone to cast as the aloof but well-intentioned stoner character Taco.
“They had seen my videos and were like, ‘Oh, Taco already exists. It’s him and he’s making internet videos.’ So they came to get me, knowing what I do and liking my sensibilities and all that stuff. They’ve kind of allowed me to do a lot of what I do on the show.”
The semi-improvised, laid-back humor of The League seems to be the perfect fit for the absurd, often sick humor Lajoie has become known for.
“It’s really the perfect situation for me, because I would not do well on a straight-up sitcom or anything like that; I’m not the best actor in the world,” he says — but quickly reconsiders. “Gary Oldman [is] maybe the only actor that’s better than I am. Him, Daniel-Day Lewis and then it’s me. It’s like those guys could do those roles, but I gotta stick to having some kind of say in what’s coming out of my mouth and how it’s coming out of my mouth.”
Even with his star rising as a cast member of The League and his continued release of hilarious internet videos, Lajoie finds time to tour and bring his unique brand of humor to the live audiences all over North America.
As an Internet sensation, he understands people might be skeptical towards paying for a ticket to see someone they could see for free online. To those people, Lajoie offers a very simple answer: “Tell them to go fuck themselves!”
But he adds that he knows where the skeptics are coming from.
“I get it. At first, I hesitated to do a live show because I have no interest in reproducing my videos live on stage. I think that’s boring for everyone. What I do: it’s basically just my comedic sensibilities thrown together in a variety show. Yes, I will do a few of the songs that people wanna hear and there’s a bunch of new songs, a bunch of stand up and new videos that people are gonna get to see. I do a PowerPoint presentation as well.”
Covering all the bases of his many talents, Lajoie promises something extra for even his most devout fans.
“If you knew all my stuff inside and out, still 60 per cent of the show is new. You won’t have seen or heard it in any of my videos. And I masturbate on stage. If you want to see that. I don’t know many people who do wanna see that, but if you do wanna see it, I’ll be doing it.”