Fresh Start

There’s never a bad time to make a change, start fresh and find a new appreciation for life. At 50 years old, comedian Jay Mohr did just that. He gave himself a second shot at life with a clear head and a full heart.

“It took me 50 years to get out of my own way,” Mohr told us. “I feel like I’m new to my own life. I’m just showing up to my own life.”

Mohr is a recovering drug addict and has been very open about his struggles. In fact, he even finds the humor in his situation and shares that as part of his standup routine.

“I look at it this way, if I don’t talk about that, what on earth would I talk about?” he said. “That’s what happened to me. I went away to rehab for two months. Also, I feel lucky because I don’t know many comedians that even have the opportunity to talk about being that broken. I love being able to talk about myself period, but to be able to talk about myself at my lowest, lowest low — what an opportunity. If somebody in the audience could maybe benefit from that, that’s my primary purpose in life is to help that other person.”

Mohr’s loved ones held an intervention for him on March 11, 2021, and then he checked into rehab for two months. He came out refreshed, recharged and ready to get back to work.

He’s always been a busy guy, with nearly 100 film and television credits to his name and more than 30 years as a standup comic. He fell in love with comedy as a kid, watching specials on T.V.

“I was always obsessed with standup comedy,” Mohr said. “I always would record comedians on T.V. in junior high and high school. Once I was watching public access T.V. in New Jersey and there was a commercial for an open mic night at a local comedy club and it was kind of like two LEGOS clicking together in my mind, ‘Oh that’s why I love comedy. I’m supposed to do it.’ And I did it.”

He went to that open mic night, and it snowballed from there.

“The first show I ever did was at noon on a Sunday and there were other comedians that said, ‘What are you doing Wednesday? There’s an open mic in Hackensack, New Jersey.’ I said, ‘OK I’ll meet you there.’ Then when I was at the Wednesday gig, they said, ‘What are you doing Saturday? There’s one in Montclair.’ So then I went to that one. So I just kept showing up and doing those little spots and each place gave birth to another place,” he explained. “Then you start going to Manhattan, then Philly, then Connecticut, then after awhile somebody offers to actually pay you to do it somewhere.”

His first venture on television was hosting the lip-sync contest game show “Lip Service” on MTV. Not long after, he got the chance to audition for a spot on “Saturday Night Live.”

“‘Saturday Night Live’ was an impossibility, so it was never a goal. It was just something that was like past the moon, in another dimension, so it never dawned on me that it could actually happen until I got the audition,” Mohr said. “I got really lucky because my manager owned a comedy club in Greenwich Village and that’s where the auditions were. Because I was his client, he put me in the best spot, the third spot on a lineup of maybe 20 people. But on that night, the air conditioner went out and it was July. Everybody from ‘Saturday Night Live’ left after the fourth guy, so more than half the guys there were never seen. It was just one of those shots where I went on third and they just couldn’t take the mugginess anymore and they left after.”

With a little luck, Mohr landed the job, but didn’t quite find the success he had hoped for on the show. However, after a couple of years, he got an even bigger break.

“Nothing can prepare you for ‘Saturday Night Live,’” he said. “You have to learn on the fly. It’s really humbling. I didn’t own a computer, I was writing sketches out on a yellow legal pad with a pencil. But then when you’re done writing a sketch, where does it go? Who do you give it to? It’s all very confusing and very layered. I have nothing but great things to say about my time there. The problem, without a doubt was me. I didn’t want to wait my turn and I got really frustrated while I was there, and that all was because of me. But you know, you leave ‘Saturday Night Live’ and within two years you get ‘Jerry Maguire,’ it’s like, ‘OK maybe there’s something bigger at work here, where I wasn’t supposed to be there that long.’”

As mentioned, for his first film role, Mohr had the fortune to act alongside Tom Cruise in the 1996 hit “Jerry Maguire,” which Mohr credits as one of his favorite roles to date.

“Tom Cruise is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met or will ever meet,” Mohr said. “He was so kind and great and funny and he’s such a professional, knowing everyone’s name on set. It was really a good example to follow on how to act moving forward.”

From there, his acting career took off, starring in movies such as “Picture Perfect,” “Suicide Kings” and “Pay It Forward.” He also hosted an ESPN talk show and was executive producer and host of NBC’s reality show “Last Comic Standing” in the early 2000s. He starred in the sitcom “Gary Unmarried” on CBS from 2008-2010, which he said was another of his favorite parts.

He’s also had ventures into radio, with his “Mohr Sports” program and hosted his own podcast called “Mohr Stories.” He has written two books, including 2004’s “Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live” and 2010’s “No Wonder My Parents Drank: Tales from a Stand-Up Dad.”

Now, he said he is focusing on his sobriety and standup comedy, and enjoying every minute. He also recently announced his engagement to Los Angeles Lakers President Jeanie Buss.

“Oh my god, I’m so lucky! She’s amazing. She’s seen me at my absolute worst and stuck around,” Mohr said of his fiancé. “I’m really happy with where I’m at in life today. I can look at my career and say, ‘Holy smokes, he did a lot of stuff!’ And that was with me getting in my own way, every step of the way. I’m really grateful and happy every day.”

His act currently includes stories from throughout his life, as Mohr likes to share his personal journey and the real struggles, which many can relate to.

“I point out the absurdity of life through storytelling, then I also have all these impressions,” Mohr explained. “It’s weird, it’s almost like there’s two halves to the show. There’s the part where I talk about being at my own intervention, going to rehab, two failed marriages and having kids, then its halftime and then it’s, ‘let’s do impressions!’ I do Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Tracy Morgan, Clint Eastwood, Chris Farley. I will only do an impression of a celebrity if I have a personal story with them. It’s about how I met this person and here’s how this goofy conversation went.”

Mohr is coming to Laughlin for the first time Saturday, Jan. 28 for a standup performance at the Tropicana’s Pavilion Theater.

“I can’t wait! I’m coming with some buddies and we’re going to take Laughlin over,” Mohr said with gusto. “It’s a guarantee that if you buy the ticket you’ll take the ride and you’ll have a blast. Take all of the guess work out of it — come to the show! Don’t even think twice about it. Let’s go!”