The Montreal-based comedian first blipped on the internet-famous radar last December, when editors at Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Funny or Die spotted his talent for belting out earnest and melodic observational comedy. After High as [email protected]%k hit the homepage, hundreds of thousands of soon-to-be fans fell in like with his lyrical illustrations of irony, carefully crafted songs that juxtapose “what is expected and what ends up unfolding.”
Lajoie’s path to notoriety isn’t marked by one, Chocolate Rain-like summer blockbuster, but paved with multiple, mini-sensations. The man is no one trick pony. After High as [email protected]%k came 2 Girls 1 Cup Song, then Everyday Normal Guy, followed by Everyday Normal Guy 2, and so on, and so forth. His uncanny ability to produce hits did not go unnoticed.
Lajoie is now repped by UTA, can count Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, and at least two Kids in the Hall amongst his growing fan base, is the object of affection of multiple record labels fighting to produce his upcoming album, and is gearing up for a 20-30 city concert tour through the US and Canada that kicks off in December. He’s also winding down a positively reviewed mini summer tour and will be playing at New York City’s Blender Theater at Gramercy on Friday.
While in route to his NYC gig, I caught up with Lajoie for a few minutes on the phone, where he told me about the transition from online to Hollywood, the difference between internet dollars and real dollars, his upcoming pilot for HBO, and how it feels to meet your idols. When we said this guy was going places, we were right:
Tilzy.TV: The last time we spoke was in April. What have you been up to since?
Jon Lajoie: A lot. I went to LA a bunch of times. I met with management and people down there. I signed a talent hold deal with HBO to develop a pilot. Been doing my live shows. Those have been going well. Good reviews and all that. And I want to record an album, so I have a bunch of record labels proposing deals. So…trying to stay happy in the middle of all this.
Tilzy.TV: Is that tough?
Lajoie: It’s sorta simpler to remain happy when things are simple. It’s cool, ya know, but I try not to lose the simplicity of this stuff while adding money to it and adding people to it. I’d like to keep it a simple as it is online. There you just write it, and then you shoot it, and then your audience sees it in a day so. You start adding time and people to that and you can lose what you’re trying to do.
Tilzy.TV: Has the process changed at all now that other parties are involved?
Lajoie: That process I’m keeping the same. I’m making sure no one touches the web stuff. I’m not trying to make money with the web stuff. i can’t give up that creative freedom – that’s one of my big things. So, I’m going to keep doing what I do online as simply as I can, but then on the side I do television and film, and write for television and film and preform and do all those things, but i have to keep my home base of ultimate creative freedom on the web.
Tilzy.TV: So how is it getting more complicated?
Lajoie: Well, it’s not. These other things are more complicated. The simple web stuff that I do is still very easy and great to do and very fulfilling. But the other stuff, I’m just not used to it. I’m an actor and I act on a show here in Montreal, but creating a show…you want to please yourself, or else there’s no point in writing a TV show. But at the same time you’re trying to please other people, which you don’t necessarily have to do on the web. On the web, you’re happy with what you’re doing and people are watching or they’re not – you don’t have to please some other dudes that are giving you money to make it.
It’s not complicated, it’s just, ya know, finding a happy middle with TV producers, showrunners and all that. It’s just something that I’m not used to. I’m adapting because I’ve been doing everything by myself. But at the same time these people are paying real money, not internet dollars…I’ve made 100s of internet dollars so far.
Tilzy.TV: Hundreds of internet dollars?
Lajoie: Hundreds of internet dollars. I swear.
Tilzy.TV: That’s better than most people. But it’s got to be pretty exciting too, going through this whole process.
Lajoie: Absolutely. Even if you backtrack one year ago, I still had very small amount of views on the internet and never in a million years would I have imagined I’d be where I’m at one year later.
Tilzy.TV: C’mon! Really?!? If I came up with Everyday Normal Guy and put that on the web, I’m thinking to myself, “This is going to be bigtime!” You didn’t ever think that?
Lajoie: Well, to give you and example, with Everyday Normal Guy I wrote the song and didn’t create a video for at least two months. My brothers actually convinced me to make a video.
‘Cause, you know I actually enjoyed writing it and rapping it and recording it, but then I thought, “You know what? Tthis has been done a million times. Let’s use hiphop for the loser, the guy that’s not a cool rapper. You know, Adam Sandler, Weird Al, Flight of the Conchords. All those people had done that.” So I wasn’t sure. I found all the lines funny, and I enjoyed writing the beat, but I did not think people would respoind to it the way that they did.
Tilzy.TV: Is this your first time on tour?
Lajoie: Well, it’s just a mini-tour. I have a couple shows a month unil december when I’m going to have at least 20 to 30 dates lined up across canada and the US. But yeah, I’ve been doing shows since the summer. Just for Laughs in montreal was the kickstart. I never did live shows before this, well one. But Just for Laughs was my premiere. I was in a band for four years before this, so I’ve done shows before, just not comedy shows.
Tilzy.TV: How do you like the comedy?
Lajoie: I really like it a lot. It’s like the flip side of the same coin. When I used to be in the band, in the writing you always try to talk about strong subjects, but without that comedic angle it can be quite depressing. But when you flip the coin and start having fun with it and enjoy yourself and laught at it, it’s fuckin’ fun.
Tilzy.TV: Any weird fan stories yet?
Lajoie: No, though I get weird e-mails sometimes from crazy fans. I wrote this song, Show Me your Genitals and it’s like a parody of those really sexist songs and some guy will write me saying, “Oh man! It’s so nice to have someone that thingks like me. Women are shit! I agree. I agree.” So…yeah, I come across some weird fans sometimes.
Tilzy.TV: What’s up with HBO?
Lajoie: Funny or die and HBO are collaborating on 10 half-hours of content. They asked me to create a show, which would be like a pilot. Whether it goes to series or not is another story, but at least I’d get to create a pilot episode for what the Jon Lajoie show would be. And people involved are like Adam McKay and other Funny or Die guys, which is really cool that i get to work with those guys. Very weird and very cool.
Tilzy.TV: They found you through Funny or Die? That’s pretty awesome.
Lajoie: Yeah, which shows how open they are and how genuine they are at finding people they actually enjoy.
Tilzy.TV: So you opened your email box one day and there’s a message from Adam McKay and another one from Will Ferrell?
Lajoie: Ha. Not exactly. In December last year, someone from Funny or Die contacted me and said ya know people down there really liked what I was doing and were curious to know what my plans were and all that. I went to LA a few times and then finally with the HBO thing, I got to meet them.
And it’s weird because people tell you they are fans of yours, but you don’t really believe them. You’re like, “Yeah, Adam McKay and Will Ferrel like my shit. Whatever. Someone’s just saying that.” But then you meet them and they’re quoting your songs. That’s the weirdest thing ever.
Tilzy.TV: What’s your HBO pilot going to be about?
Lajoie: In some form or another it’s going to be a type of sketch comedy. I have to sit down with Adam and a few other people and figure out the happy middle, a good format for it. I have a bunch of different ideas. It’s going to be similar to my web stuff, but tied together a little better than a bunch of sketches.
Tilzy.TV: What’s been your best moment throughout all this?
Lajoie: When i preformed in LA, two of the Kids in the Hall, Bruce McCullochand Kevin McDonald came to the show and came to to see me after and said how much they liked it. That was a big thing for me because, being Canadian, I grew up on Kids in the Hall. Tose guys were the fuckin’ weirdest, craziest, funniest guys growing up. They were my idols and all of a sudden they’re at my show telling me they really enjoy what I do. That was a relly nice, touching moment.
Check out links to everything Jon Lajoie (and one of the sweetest splash pages I’ve seen on the web) at JonLajoie.com.