Travis Jay On Standup, Comedy Roots And His Love Of Boxing

Written by Anthony 'Mr Play' Douglas
26/11/2018 05:14 PM

Q: Who is Travis Jay?
A: Travis Jay is a comedian, actor and writer.

Q: How did you get into comedy?
A: I got into standup comedy very randomly. In 2009 Kojo’s Fun House were doing the recording for MTV Base. I saw the promo and at the time I had no idea who Kojo was or what the Fun House would actually be but the hype got me interested. I remember sitting near the front, seeing these comedians come out and they all killed it – one after the other – and I left the event with my friend Courtney saying, ‘Yo, I can do this, you know’. Time went on and I was attending the Fun House shows religiously, I even attended one by myself. I got a spot at the Sunday show for my first gig May 24 2009, my first set went down so well I knew I was in love with standup for a reason. I was home.

Q: Who are your influences?
A: Dave Chappelle, who I actually got to work with this year, which was a dream come true. Growing up I would watch hours of Dave Chappelle’s show and his stand up. I remember trying to get my parents involved by showing them clips. It got so hard trying to get them to come to my computer, I’d learn part of his routine just so I could perform the joke to them so they’d get it. Also, my mother, Angie Le Mar, is one of the pioneers of black British comedy. Growing up, I’d seen countless performances, been in TV studio audiences and been able to be around the scene. I was essentially the boy in the corner. I’ve been near the game my whole life so when people have this nature vs nurture debate I really don’t know what side of the coin I fit into.

Q: We notice you do not use profanity in your standups or sketches, any specific reason?
A: It’s just not my style. I don’t think standup always needs to be clean or that people who swear are any less because of it, but I when I sit down to write and develop a new show I just don’t feel great about putting that energy out there. I don’t think it adds anything, I can articulate hard hitting material and also controversial opinions just as effectively without swearing. I also used to hate getting sent to bed because a comedian would start swearing on TV whilst I was watching, so a part of me is looking out for any young person who happens to be watching me.

Q: Tell us about your passion for boxing?
A: Ah man, my second passion. I’m telling you now, if I wasn’t a comedian, I would have been trying to pursue a career in boxing. I love it. I had my first encounter with boxing in 2011. I took part in a white collar boxing match, where you train like a fighter for three or four months and then compete with an equally matched opponent.

At the time, I was going through a real tough patch in life, had my daughter on the way, money troubles and I was trying to figure out where I fit in as a standup comedian. I’m not a fan of labelling everything, but this is the closest I’d come to being depressed, I just felt low. My rationale was, if I can put myself through this test and pull it off, then there must be something special inside of me. So I put myself through the weeks of training, sparring, getting hit, learning how to fight and I won the bout.

I applied so many principles of boxing to life. In life you have your goals, your opponent is your obstacle. Occasionally you get hit in the face in boxing, you can’t lose composure, you simply have to stay focused and make necessary adaptations. Life is just like that. Things will be tough, they won’t always go to plan but if you adapt and believe in yourself you can do anything!

Q: Tell us about the new TV show you will appear in?
A: Yes. So the show is called Ministry of Justice It’s a satire comedy sketch show. It’s a three-episode series and it’s on Channel 4 Friday Nov 30 at 11pm.

I’ll be in the next two episodes but still tune in, people. This show was a lot of fun, man. We pranked so many people so I’m expecting it to go down well. I actually told a story about when we were filming this undercover and this guy whipped out a hammer randomly! Luckily we were all cool but mate, what a day. I think people will like the show.

Q: What’s up next?
A: I’m currently gearing up to go the Edinburgh Comedy Festival next year, I’ve been meaning to go up there for several years but this year I’m finally going up so that should be fun. I have a few acting projects in the works – which I can’t speak on at this time – which I’m excited about, so things are moving beautifully in the right direction. If you’d like to come and see me perform live, catch me at The Bill Murray Comedy Club December 9 at 9.30pm. You can also use the ticket link

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
In the next three years, I’d like to see myself continuing to flourish at doing what I love. I’m blessed to have an amazing family, great friends and my health. I work hard week in week out, so I’m not putting any timelines out there on success. Things happen when they’re supposed to happen so when those opportunities knock, they better just know I’m ready.

Q: Where can we follow you?
Instagram and Twitter: @travisjayent

Additional contributions from Steph D’Sa & Lateef “Toks”