Mormon Artist

Jason Gray

Jason was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. He has five brothers and no sisters, which depending on perspective can be considered a blessing or a curse. In high school he made a short sketch video called “Sean Connery’s 7 Tips to Dating for Fools” and has been hooked on comedy ever since. Jason met his lovely wife on a double date. Funny thing is, she was not with him, but with his roommate. Despite this they have all remained good friends. He served a mission in Argentina and on the last day of his mission he fell into the mission president’s pool after a piñata mishap. Besides writing and performing sketch comedy, he enjoys sports and the outdoors. He has a mild obsession with Batman and if you want to get on his good side fast, tell him he looks like Heath Ledger and he will love you forever. Website
Photo courtesy Jason Gray

Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you first fall in love with comedy?

I first fell in love with comedy when I saw How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I loved Jim Carrey’s performance and I walked out of the theater telling everyone that I wanted to do that someday.

How did you first get involved in organized comedy?

I started by making funny “sketch” type videos with friends and showing them to church groups. When the Dark Knight came out, I wrote and starred in a parody of it called “The Dateman.” I played the Joker and was bent on spoiling the Dateman’s social life by sabotaging his dates. I had such a blast making the film that I wanted to keep pursuing sketch comedy.

And how did that lead to Divine Comedy and Studio C?

After I made “The Dateman,” I saw a flyer at BYU advertising Divine Comedy auditions. I went to the auditions expecting a few students to be there, but the place was packed. I had no idea what I was getting into and I was so nervous I almost left, but fortunately I stayed and performed.

After I’d been in Divine Comedy for a few years, Matt Meese asked if I was interested in doing the show for BYUtv, and approximately two milliseconds later I agreed and abandoned my previous career plans of being a dentist.

Photo courtesy Studio C

Do you believe humor is something that can be taught? Something you can practice? Or something simply innate?

I believe it is a little of both. You have to have a natural ability with comedic timing and sense of humor, but the rest is hard work. The key with comedy is making it look easy, which I think we are doing because people still ask us, “Do they pay you to do Studio C?”

You’re famous for your impersonations. How do you decide who to emulate? What’s your process for adopting a specific persona?

I usually decide on who to emulate based off of movies and characters I love. After watching Harry Potter I was determined to impersonate Snape. I watched YouTube, Harry Potter DVDs, and other Alan Rickman movies to get his mannerisms and infamous drawl down. He and most my characters are a continual work in progress, but I love bringing them to life and putting them in new and funny situations.

Do you have a favorite impersonation? Which comes easiest to you?

That’s a tough one. Right now I’m quite fond of Darth Sidious. He is such a ridiculous character that he works really well for comedy. My easiest impersonation is Snape because I have been working on him for years. It’s gotten to the point that I can slip into a Snape impersonation without realizing it. Which can be very awkward in certain social situations.

Is this what you imagined doing after college? Where do you imagine yourself five years from now?

My whole life I thought I was going to be a dentist. My cousin Justin was the first person who told me I should pursue acting. I thought he was crazy, but I’m glad for people like him and others who have encouraged me. Five years from now I would love to continue doing comedy, sitcoms, and voice-overs. But my ultimate dream is to be in a Christopher Nolan movie.

Studio C now has viewers numbering in the millions. How do you handle the fame?

I was such a goofy kid in high school that I still ask people, “Are you sure?” when they ask me for a photo or autograph. But I am grateful that people are enjoying the show and excited to meet us.

How does the gospel inform your work?

Being on BYUtv, we know we have a responsibility to be wholesome and uplifting. The viewers have high standards in both content and quality and our mission is to provide both every episode.

How does you see comedy helping build the kingdom?

Our comedy is very inclusive. You do not have to be LDS to understand or appreciate our humor. This allows Church members to share it, without having to explain “inside jokes” that are only funny to Mormon culture. Clean comedy is for everyone, and we want Catholics, Buddhists, atheists, and whoever else to enjoy our show.

Any advice for budding standup comedians?

Take advantage of every opportunity you can to perform. With YouTube and other media outlets there are so many ways to get your material seen. It is a lot of hard work, but it’s fun work, so enjoy it and constantly challenge yourself to improve. Also don’t get discouraged; I once made a “funny” video for a seminary devotional and no one in the class laughed and it was ten minutes long! I was so embarrassed I almost swore off comedy for life. Fortunately I did not follow through with that threat. ❧

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