Renowned actor, comedian, and screenwriter Jamie Lissow, known for his sharp wit and comedic prowess, recently sat down with Greenbelt Magazine to reflect on the profound impact of his journey in the world of comedy and films. From family influences to personal breakthroughs, Jamie shared candid insights into his life, both on and off the stage.
GM: How has your journey into the world of comedy and films impacted your personal life and relationships?
Jamie: The world of comedy has greatly impacted my personal life in that I didn’t used to have one. I’m an introvert by nature and being part of this world forces me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. In my opinion, this world can be very tough on the wrong relationship and healthy, fun and exciting if you’re in the right one.
GM: Can you share a memorable family moment that influenced your sense of humor or shaped your comedic style?
Jamie: I don’t have a good answer for this. I just remember my dad always making everyone laugh and I wanted to be like him. I do remember watching him use his sense of humor to get through some really tough times, and then also doing that myself.
GM: Balancing fame and personal life can be challenging. How do you manage to keep a sense of normalcy and connection with your loved ones?
Jamie: One of my rules is to not be away from home for too long. I never want to be on tour for months. I need to go home, even if it’s just for a day or two in a week sometimes and remind myself why I’m out here in the first place.
I also think it’s important to recognize the laughs, love and validation or approval you get from a crowd are vastly different from getting those things from your loved ones. To succeed at one and not the other feels like a total failure overall in my opinion.
I also use technology to stay close to my kids. I think I’ve been Facetiming my kids a bit too much though. The other day I was home talking with my kid in person, and he tried to minimize me.
GM: What’s a lesson you’ve learned about yourself through your experiences in the entertainment industry, both positive and challenging?
Jamie: I’ve learned that the only way to absolutely ensure failure it to quit. This theater in Boise is a big deal for me. It’s my first theater that I’ve ever headlined and as of this morning I think there are less than15 seats left. Five years ago, if you told me I’d be performing here, a place where I opened for someone famous a few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve been at this for a while. I just turned 40, 9 years ago. The biggest thing I’ve learned in, not just entertainment, but life is in most cases there are only “events”. Whether they are good or bad will reveal itself later. In ten years, no one will care about most of the things we stress over today. I remember my son being really upset about losing this lego guy’s head when he was little. He was inconsolable and no amount of love or melatonin could get him to sleep. Then the next day he had forgotten about it and his world was ok again. So, in my house I like to call problems that will probably not be important in a few days or years, Lego heads to put them in perspective.
GM: Are there specific values or principles from your upbringing that you carry with you in navigating the complexities of fame and success?
Jamie: Honestly, I don’t know if it came from my upbringing or a book, podcast or from someone I respected that I worked with but one of my core principles is trying to add value. Just the concept of helping for the sake of helping. Trying to never look at acts of kindness or assistance as transactional or wanting something in return. The reward is inherent in the work, I used to do this thing where if someone said they had a script… I did it once with the guy who wrote the Blair Witch Project and also once with an Uber driver, I told them to send it to me and I’d ‘punch it up’, and I’d write jokes for it and send it back to them. I must have done this 100 times back in the day. I love writing jokes and making someone’s movie or tv show better or funnier. Years later I ended up writing a movie for the Blair Witch guy, who is now my friend. And I’ve gotten countless other “work” from that simple gesture. But that sincerely wasn’t why I did it, I just wanted to add value.
GM: How do you handle the pressure and expectations that come with being part of successful projects alongside renowned actors like Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade?
Jamie: This might sound weird but if I’m in a situation doing what I think I’m supposed to be doing I feel no anxiety or nerves during the actual performance. I feel way more anxiety and pressure during preparation for roles or writing jokes for Gutfeld! then when I’m on the air. When I’m performing, I’m home. I feel the pressure of wanting to execute, and for it to go well. But I like to think of expectations as people rooting for you and wanting you to do well. Like when I was acting in our Netflix series and I was opposite SNL legend Rob Schneider for the first time all I felt was joy, gratefulness and the love of the craft. That said, I had to talk to a small group of kids the other day about what it’s like to be a comedian and I was so nervous, and I think it went really poorly. I didn’t even get a seated ovation at the end.
GM: In the midst of a busy career, how do you prioritize self-care and ensure your own well-being?
Jamie: It’s a constant struggle and sometimes I’m good at it and sometimes not. When I’m in the zone I Peloton, cold plunge and eat really well every day. When I’m not in the zone I hang clothes on the Peloton and put beers on ice in the cold plunge.
GM: Has there been a moment in your career where you felt a significant personal or emotional breakthrough?
Jamie: So, I swear I’m not just saying because of who I’m talking to. The Egyptian Theater is very significant for me and represent an absolute breakthrough for me. Not just because it’s my first theater, but because I have a girlfriend – who just happens to be from Boise that I coincidentally met at The Egyptian Theater. I’ve always had trouble “enjoying” things, especially some kind of career milestone or success. I just move onto the next thing after maybe a two-minute dopamine spike. But having this woman I love be on this journey with me and seeing the excitement through her eyes has really made me slow down and be grateful and maybe even a tiny bit proud of myself. Writing that is making me cringe please feel free to delete it if you are cringing too.
GM: Can you reflect on a particular role or project that allowed you to explore aspects of your personality or life in a unique and unexpected way?
Jamie: I loved playing Jamie, Rob Scheider’s assistant, in Real Rob on Netflix. He was this dumb, clueless guy and every day they would give me a script that just said, “be yourself.” I’m just kidding, but there was this wonderful thing about pretending to be an idiot and with that character I also got to be serious and sad, I even got to cry. When I got divorced in real life, I felt like I had already prepared for the role. Sorry, for all the jokes, I felt like I was being too serious in this interview. Getting divorced is actually the very best thing that ever happened to me. It was a real lego head there for a second, but when the smoke cleared life was wonderful.
GM: As you continue to climb the ladder of success, how do you stay grounded and true to yourself amidst the evolving dynamics of the entertainment industry?
Jamie: I think I actually have a good answer for this one. Every single one of my goals is in line with every single other. And I write and update them in a journal minimum once a week. For example, if I say, “I’d like to sell out x number of theaters next year.” and below that I write “I’d like to spend more time with the people I love.” The x variable has to be a number that also achieves the goal of seeing the people I love enough. 100 might work. 300 does not. Every single goal must fit with every other or it’s off the list.