While Jonah Ray was here during SXSW showcasing his talents as a stand-up comedian, he is still a big part of the Nerdist Podcast with Chris Hardwick. Austin Fusion briefly delved into Jonah’s nerd-mind during our previous SXSW interview to see if he could shed a different perspective of the power of the podcast and the nerd revolution.
AFM: Since there is such a family aspect within the comedy community, and you guys tend to pop up on each other’s podcasts, has this medium changed comedy?
JR: In comedy we pretty much all know each other, with either doing shows or hanging out with each other. The podcasts show that familiarity to everyone now. That’s the fantasy I had growing up, when you saw two actors hanging out with each other. You felt familiar with them, and thought that you could hang out with them also. It’s become a different time for comedy because of the podcast.
AFM: The social media aspect does seem to be a good thing. It is getting your work out there, and there seems to be more exposure.
JR: I forgot to mention this earlier, but I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I have gotten in trouble with some of the things I’ve said, but it’s also a good way to weed out those people who may not gel with your personality. It’s similar to the podcast, you’re just talking and a thought will come out or you’ll tweet something, and thousands of people hear or see it. Then if you respond to one person and not someone else, it makes for a weird experience.
AFM: So it is a double edge sword in a sense.
JR: Yeah, it is. Plus you can see when people just want to at (contact) you on Twitter just to say something disrespectful. I’m sure there are people I know that don’t like me, but I like the idea of not being able to know that. The slight detachment of the Internet makes people more comfortable. There’s this theory I have of what’s going to happen called Personality 2.0. It’s the idea that, and sorry for getting a bit heady here, but with the social media and networking, people are developing a personality they want to have and that’s their output online. That’s what they want people to see them as, yet that isn’t who they are. A lot of people are being characters that they have created.
AFM: One thing that is great about the podcast, and especially after talking to both you and Chris, is that people can relate to you guys.
JR: Chris’s book has helped a lot of people, and people come up to us and thank him for making them feel okay. I think Chris is a good poster boy for that. Sure he gets called out for it, saying he’s not a nerd cause he’s on TV and a good-looking guy, but it’s not about that. What he’s doing is show you that not ever nerd is someone with glasses, acne, and is awkward. What it comes down to is not feeling guilty about liking something. If it’s entertaining and you like it, say you like it. Embrace your inner nerd, that’s just another way of saying be yourself and don’t deny what you like.
AFM: When did you notice that a nerd was becoming hip?
JR: I don’t know, it seemed gradual. You were there too; we’re all on the same timeline. When I was going to school, I didn’t care about the hierarchy of who was popular; it didn’t matter because they weren’t my friends. I was never alone, I had good friends and we’d do what we thought was cool. I have always tried my best to embrace it.
AFM: So you never had that moment where you withheld it?
JR: I don’t know, maybe I was a bit dumb. I found friends who liked the same thing.
AFM: It is funny that you say dumb, but that is actually the smartest thing you can do.
JR: I never felt like an outcast because I always knew who my friends were. I’d say we had more fun than others cause we didn’t care what others thought. I think being in the punk scene, or indie scene, back then made me feel okay. I guess that is kind of a nerdy thing. I didn’t care, I knew who I was and what I was doing.
AFM: Do you think there is a certain element that people connect to on these so-called nerdy things?
JR: You can’t figure out why you like it, you just like it. Yet, this is the problem in the nerd community. If you like one thing, they assume you like everything else that’s like that. Everyone is trying to define it, define it as him or herself, but it’s not going to work out.
AFM: Do you think there is more internal conflict the nerd community than that from outside sources?
JR: Yeah, I do. It’s all infighting. Everyone has to relax, no one is right or wrong, and they just need to enjoy what they like.
For more things Jonah Ray, go to his website and follow him on Twitter (@jonahray); you won’t be disappointed.
Interview by Lisa Mejia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo provided by Jonah Ray