Occasionally, I get the opportunity to chat with comedians so when I was alerted to the fact that an actor/comedian was going to be coming to Portland’s Empire Comedy Club this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 20 and 21) for two shows (7 and 9:30 p.m. each night) I decided to see if the gentleman was willing to talk with me. His name is Jamie Kennedy, and if that name sounds familiar it might be for the movies he’s been in, like “Scream,” “Scream 2,” Baz Luhrman’s “Romeo + Juliet,” “Three Kings,” “Bowfinger” (with Steve Martin), and he just wrapped up “Ad Astra” (with Brad Pitt) … not to mention my personal favorite, “Tremors” (where he shares top billing with Michael Gross). Oh, and he’s done over 190 episodes on television with networks that include CBS, WB, MTV, Comedy Central, NBC, FOX, Showtime and VH-1. I called him at home in Southern California one snowy afternoon on Dec. 3 …

Q: I understand that you are coming over to our fair state to perform a couple of shows at the Empire Comedy Club in Portland.
Kennedy: Yes, I am.

Q: Have you ever performed over here in Maine before?
Kennedy: Never.

Q: Oh, first time to Maine, then.
Kennedy: I’ve been to Maine.

Q: I just watched you in “Tremors 5 — Bloodlines.”
Kennedy: Really — you like it?

Q: Oh, yeah. You brought a comedic element — as well as a lot of action — to it that reminded me a lot of the original 1989 first installment. I also have “Tremors 6 — A Cold Day in Hell,” but I haven’t watched it yet. Are you going to be involved with any other movies in the franchise?
Kennedy: Well, I did the first one, the fifth one, then I did the sixth one and I’m not in the seventh one — a long story about that one — but I really, really like (the series) … I thought it was awesome. You know, they let me have some fun on it.


Q: That was obvious in the “Outtakes” part of the special features, man, you had them really cracking up on set, that’s for sure.
Kennedy: Yeah, but I think the movies could be bigger, ya know? People who discover them love them and it didn’t seem like they really got pushed. We worked so hard on the movies and then they don’t get advertised — it’s like, “Come on, man!” — that’s what bums me out.

Q: That’s understandable. Hey, didn’t I read that you just finished up in “Ad Astra”?
Kennedy: Yeah, I was in “Ad Astra,” but I got cut out on that, …

Q: No!
Kennedy: … I think I’m going to be in the Director’s Cut, though, but yeah man, I had a couple of good scenes on Mars but, yeah, I guess they cut it, … I haven’t seen it yet, it’s too painful.

Q: I can understand that. I know it’s like comparing apples and oranges, but there’s your life as an actor and your comedy gig. Do you prefer one over the other?
Kennedy: I’m known more as an actor, but I’ve been doing comedy my whole career. … I’m more famous as an actor, but I always do comedy because it always gives me jobs and offers, ya know? I love movies — I love doing dramatic stuff — but it’s a hard fight sometimes, where comedy is so welcoming to me … so good to me.

Q: When you make a movie, you have to wait until it comes out to find out what people think of it, where there’s instant gratification to comedy, you know? At a club, people respond to the performance in real time — you get immediate feedback, right?
Kennedy: Yeah, but I really realize now that it’s all about how long your stuff stands the test of time. Like being in “Scream,” it’s one of those movies that is so respected that it jumps out of horror to become a pop culture thing — it’s never going to go away and I’m so lucky. … It’s probably my most talked-about movie.  And “Tremors,” to be a part of that, it resonates with people; and “Malibu’s Most Wanted” is another one. And I’m in “Three Kings,” which is one of the greatest movies ever — and it may be my deepest movie, drama-wise, and it’s not talked about as much as those other ones, and that’s crazy. But I’m so lucky because I have been in some movies that are standing the test of time.

Q: Well, seeing you’re coming to Portland to do comedy, let me ask you this: What can folks expect from your two nights at the Empire Comedy Club?
Kennedy: I just did a special called “Jamie Kennedy — Stupid/Smart,” where it was like me doing some jokes that are stupid, then I slowly go into smart. I think people think of my persona as one way, but I’m deeper than my persona and I want to show that slowly. Now I talk more about what’s going on in the world, I comment on my life — what it’s like to be a celebrity, what it’s like to be single in this day and age, what it’s like to deal with all the outrage … I comment on a lot of that stuff. It’s definitely a lot of fun, and there are some fiery moments, you know? As long as you’re passionate about something, you can go off on it — the world just doesn’t want jokes any more, they want point of view, they want what you’re feeling about this.  … We’re in a really charged time — everybody’s got opinions and you’ve gotta hold yours up, you know?

Q: I do. Now my closing question: Is there anything, Jamie, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Kennedy: I mean, I would just say, “Look, man, what else is going on that night? Come on out, man, come see your childhood hero (laughter)!”

Lucky Clark has spent 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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