As radio hosts, interviewers and entertainers Jay Washington and JR Bang constantly explore various degrees of insanity.
The hosts of Know1 Radio‘s “Educated Insanity,” Washington and Bang use the interplay of insanity and incisive commentary primarily to create a kind of entertaining insanity.
To that end, it makes sense that both guys also hit stages to bring the laughs and the crazy and that motivation helped bring about the on-going “Laughing Insanity” showcase, which takes place once again this weekend at Chicago’s Laugh Factory comedy club.
In its eighth iteration, the LI showcase will feature several Chicago comedy mainstays, topped off by headliner Leon Rogers of “Barbershop” and WGCI’s Morning Riot fame.
“The lineup is another one I am proud of, extremely eclectic in styles and personalities,” said Washington recently via email. “It’s something for everyone to enjoy — for the casual fan to even the employees (of the club).”
As a team, Washington and Bang got involved with the Laugh Factory, which regularly showcases national comedians as well as open-mic talent, through interviewing and promoting Laugh Factory performers.
“The management loved the interviews so much that they asked would I be interested in hosting a show at the venue. Of course I accepted and the rest has been history,” said Washington.
The LI showcases have been a continued proving ground for Washington, who also travels throughout the nation as a comedian, as well as an effective marketing vehicle for “Educated Insanity,” which recently moved to Know1 after a long run at chicagolandsportsradio.com, which also broadcasts Regal Radio’s “D and Davis Show.”
“Every show we have our regulars and gain new fans, they in turn become loyal listeners to the show,” said Washington. “With Bang, it has introduced him to the comedy community and vice versa. People have begun to look forward to each month’s show at the Laugh Factory.”
While booking an established name like Rogers can help bring more folks in from off the street, many will show up to hear from the reliably funny Washington, who has made inroads as a comedian nationwide but loves more than anything to show out in front of a hometown crowd and give a platform to stand-ups who he continues to develop with.
“Josh Johnson is amazing in his performance and his writing, Jason McNeil — I love his perspective — Bobby Hill is another funny dude and Dave Helem, I have had the pleasure of working with him many times,” said Washington.
“(Rogers) has been a good friend and a mentor to me in the comedy game since I first got into it,” Washington said. “He and I had a friendship from back in the days when I was a professional wrestler, we actually had a match against one another.”
You read right — Washington at one time, 12 years to be exact, was a professional wrestler, a member of the team “Da Soul Touchaz.” Washington grappled for several promotions including Stars & Stripes Wrestling, ElitePro, Chikara, IWA MidSouth and he even held the heavyweight championship for Windy City Pro Wrestling.
A neck injury brought forward his premature retirement from the ring and Washington parlayed an active and entertaining social media presence into a stage career. Early as a standup, Washington did spots with Bang on his morning radio show and that teaming continued to flourish.
The intersection of wrestling and comedy is a deep and storied one — some wrestlers like Mick Foley straddled the line between both for years and today its nothing to see Brutus the Barber Beefcake and the Iron Sheik (who, like Foley is doing stand-up in his post-ring career) cameo on particularly anarchic Adult Swim shows (fast forward to 8:35 unless you’re really into random destruction).
At this point of his career, though, Washington is far from a gimmick and with the LI showcases he’s intent on making an previously unseen impact on the Chicago comedy scene.
“I’m honestly always a nervous wreck and working machine leading up to and including the moment when we first step on stage to open the show, said Washington, who is the lead producer of each LI event.
“Because it’s my hometown I want to give them a solid show top to bottom. I have to make sure the talent I put on the show is guaranteed to appeal to a diverse crowd and going to give it their all.”
More from Jay Washington:
On the WWE as of late and their failure to provide hometown hero CM Punk for its latest show at Allstate Arena last Monday: This will more than likely be the first WrestleMania where the main event is booed from beginning to end of the match, and I am talking about a thunderous boo.
No one wants to see Batista versus Orton — hell, no one wants to see Batista versus his shadow. As far as last Monday, I don’t think they should have rioted as a whole, because I have friends who work for the WWE, but I would have loved to see them trash the ring at the end like old school WCW Monday Nitro.
A recent story from the road: I did a show in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was like two weeks before Christmas. I rode with another comedian from Milwaukee who was driving (because I wasn’t doing that drive).
When we got there I realized that I was the ONLY BLACK GUY in like a 50-mile radius and all I kept thinking is “Yeahhhhh… I’m just not gonna make it…” Fast forward, we get to the venue and I see there was one other black guy. I found myself asking during my set, “how did you get here? Do you know you can leave? Blink once if you need help.”
After the show he told me he had moved there after he got out the military and proceeded to buy my drinks and tried to get me to hang with him and some drunk older women, I told him, “nahhh man. You keep that to yourself.”
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio and Kyle Means on Twitter @Wrk_Wrt