Joe Ohrin, 39, of Wilkes-Barre has been laughing at and impersonating comedy great George Carlin since he was a kid. Now a polished comedian, Ohrin performs both locally and in neighboring New York and New Jersey. And, some of his jokes are used by someone quite famous… read on to find out who, in this recent online correspondence with the NEPA funny man.
Donna: Do you remeber the first time someone said you were funny? Who was it, where were you, and what did you do to make them laugh?
Ohrin: When I was a kid, I would walk around doing bits from George Carlin. The clean stuff was all that I heard. I would do the jumbo shrimp routine, waffle iron, etc. I felt funny as a youngster but I was also shy. It took a lot to get me going.
Donna: Where was your first public appearence?
Ohrin: My first public show was an open mic night at a bar called Trax in Edwardsville. It’s since remodeled as Shanix. There were mostly musicians, but my friend really encouraged me, so I worked up about three minutes of material and gave it a shot. Some stuff got laughs, some didn’t, but the crowd was friendly. I did that a few times and then did some coffee houses at King’s College while attending. I moved to New York to work in the music business and would do comedy on the side, open mics on Long Island and the city.
Donna: You are married correct? I saw the announcement. So-since you are cohabitating-have you gotten any new material? (Read: what dumb thing has your woman done that made it to the stage…)
Ohrin: Yes, I’m married, and that has brought a slew of material. She sometimes makes fun of me to her friends at work when I do something dumb. But when she goofs up, it gets played out on stage to hundreds of people at a time! You want commitment, you got it! “I am committed to embarrassing you publicly, for the sake of humor!”
Donna: Outside of NEPA, where and how often do you perform?
Ohrin: Locally, I have performed at the FM Kirby Center which is awesome, Lackawanna County Stadium opening for Beatlemania, and otherwise at clubs in New York such as Dangerfield’s, and Stand-Up NY, also Coconuts in Florida and The Comedy Store in Hollywood, California. I don’t do as much far traveling as I used to. I stay mostly in the local, Philly, Jersey, New York area.
Donna: Locally, where can people find you? (That is-performing, not stalking!)
Ohrin: I perform at Wisecrackers a lot, www.wisecrackers.biz. (free plug) It’s cool having a bunch of great comedy rooms so close to home. They are in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton at the Clarion Hotel and State College. They also do occasional shows in various places for fundraisers, etc.
Donna: Talk about bright lights, big city, man! You have written for Leno and ‘starred’ in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe-tell me what it’s like to see your words come out of a late night show hosts mouth- and hear America laugh. And what was it like having being a bit part player on a major motion picture?
Ohrin: Yes, I contribute jokes to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That feels absolutely awesome. When the biggest comedian on the most famous show thinks enough of your jokes to tell them to 200 million people, it’s a huge compliment and a terrific rush.
I had a small part in A Beautiful Mind, but unfortunately it was mostly cut out. I was sitting on a bench at Princeton University in the scene playing a board game with a guy when Russell and Ed Harris walk in behind us, stand and chat. Then we get up and they take our bench. They shot us for about two hours and in between takes Russell Crowe is talking to me about how much he likes Willie Nelson, Ed Harris is patting me on the shoulder and then the director comes over. He says, “Okay, Joe. Here’s what I’d like you to do now.” The director was Ron Howard, and I’m thinking, “Richie Cunningham knows my name!” He was cool and came back into the scene a few times to direct me in different ways. That was a good day! I also did some work on an indie film with Molly Ringwald. She was fun, too.
Donna: What is your favorite type of comedy?
Ohrin: My favorite type of comedy is semi-intelligent…George Carlin is my fave. I’m not much into Dumb and Dumber stuff.
Donna: Say something funny about downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Ohrin: In the spring, the farmers market opens on the square, they sell food, art and turn on the fountain. Then the mayor passes a law that says “bathing in the fountain is prohibited” Has he seen the people ON public Square? Bathing should be required!
Donna Say something funny about me.
Ohrin: I know because you’re blonde, you can’t read fast, so I wrote my comments r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y!