By Jason Tanamor
Fans of the popular Blue Collar Comedy Tour may recognize Juston McKinney from the Next Generation of Blue Collar Comedy guys. Aside from McKinney, the tour consists of Jamie Kaler, John Caparulo and Reno Collier. McKinney, who also appeared on the hit show, “King of Queens,” took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Zoiks! Online.
Q – You were once a patrol officer. It seems like there are a lot of ex-cops going to stand-up comedy. Mike Armstrong and Billy D. Washington to name a couple. What is it about cops going on to be comedians?
A - I'm not sure. You see a lot of funny stuff as a cop and I think you need to have a good sense of humor to be able to deal with some of the situations you find yourself in. I think also it feels good as a comedian to have people pay to listen to you instead of as a cop where people have to listen to you.
Q – Do you find yourself missing being a patrol man?
A - At times. Especially this year. I was hired when I was 19 and this December I would have had 20 years in and could have retired with a pension.
Q – Why did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy?
A - It has been something I wanted to do since Junior High. I can remember being in the school library with a group of friends and we were all talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said a comedian and they all laughed, so I thought, “wow this is easy.”
Q – How would you describe your act for those who haven’t seen you perform?
A - Observational and personal. I write jokes about everything I go through in life. I used to do a lot of material about being a cop because that was what I was doing at the time. Now I do more about marriage, kids, and owning a house etc. I use a little profanity but try to stay away from the f-bomb.
Q – You’ve done a lot of television. It seems like comedians always end up on TV. Is this the ultimate goal for a comedian?
A - Yes, with television comes exposure; therefore more money. Any comedian who tells you they don't want to do television probably can't get on television.
Q – How did you get involved with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour?
A - The producers asked if I wanted to be part of it and after the success of the original Blue Collar Tour there was no way I could turn it down.
Q – Back in the day, being on the Tonight Show was a monumental feat that could change your life as a comedian. Now, with all the specials and networks devoted to comedy, do you think the market is over saturated with stand-up?
A - Yes. There are too many people watching other programs and there are too many comedians getting TV spots. I think it is harder than ever to stand out.
Q – How often do you stray away from your material in terms of how the flow of the show? I mean, do you ever completely go off course given the circumstance?
A - I like to use every opportunity that I have an audience listening to work on material, which is the only way you grow as a performer. Sometimes I will go up with the intention of working on jokes A, B, and C and after that I don't know where I am gonna go. Sometimes I'll go into the audience and there are those instances when you have to lay into someone.
Q – Have you ever said a joke that offended someone so bad that you later regretted it? If so, what was the situation?
A - Not regretted telling it but regretted they got offended. I had a show back in 2004 and there was a white couple from Alabama and I did a joke about deer whistles on my police car and asked if they knew what a deer whistle was. They were making fun of themselves and laughed as they said "we're not that advanced down there." They got a big laugh from the audience. And I made a comment about I'll slow down some of these jokes for you guys, and went back into my routine never saying anything else about Alabama. The show went well and I was very happy with it. After the show audience members were all coming up to me saying how much they liked the show, etc. Then this old white guy in a suit walked up and looked very upset and said, "I know why you don't like people from Alabama." I said, "Excuse me?" He said, "Because Alabama is 90% black and people from Maine don't like black people." Wow, I thought, I play along with a couple from Alabama about their state being a little slow and he jumps to the conclusion that the whole state of Maine is racist! I would love to bump into that guy now and point out that Maine overwhelmingly voted for Barrack Obama.
Q – Is being on the road just crazy at times?
A - When you are single and on the road I am sure it is a wild time. I enjoy hearing stories from those comics. But when you're married and have been with the same woman for more than ten years and are faithful and you don't use drugs, it doesn't get too crazy. I went to Amsterdam once and I felt like a designated driver at Woodstock.
Q – What are you working on now?
A - Getting ready to shoot my 1-hour stand-up special which will air on Comedy Central and be released as my new DVD/CD.
Q – Anything you wanted to add?
A - Thanks for reading this and check out my website at justonmckinney.com.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."
By Jason Tanamor