Comedic actor Jamie Kennedy has made a career out of playing the loveable dweeb. He was the perpetual virgin in the “Scream” films, and the wannabe rapper in “Malibu’s Most Wanted.”
During free time on film sets, Kennedy works on material for his stand-up act. He’s bringing it to Tacoma on Sunday for two shows at the Tacoma Comedy Club.
In the mid-2000s, Kennedy punked unsuspecting victims in his hidden camera show, “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” Soon, he will start work on a creepy sci-fi thriller for Amazon. In it, he plays a clown.
Kennedy just returned from five weeks in South Africa where he was filming “Tremors 5” with Michael Gross. The 25-year-old “Tremors” comedy-horror franchise follows rural Nevadans fighting man-eating earthworms called graboids.
The newspaper caught up with Kennedy via phone.
Q: What are we going to see during your stand-up show here?
A: My whole MO for the hour is telling people behind-the-scene stories of Hollywood. How Hollywood is not what they think it is. Foibles and stories from my life. Then I make fun of (stuff), things I can’t repeat in the paper.
Q: What’s your history with stand-up?
A: It was one of the first things I did and then I got busy with acting. I love it. It’s a great thing to do when you’re not working. It keeps you fresh. I’ve put out two comedy specials, one on Showtime, one on Comedy Central. I’m working on material for a third. The road can be intense at times. There’s no better way to learn if something is going to work. An audience will tell you right away if it’s crap.
Q: I understand you’ve been fighting graboids in South Africa.
A: Are you familiar with them?
Q: I spent 10 years in Nevada. We embraced the graboids as part of our mythological history.
A: There’s a lot of graboids on the strip.
Q: Yes, but how did they get to South Africa?
A: That’s a very good question. That’s the story.
Q: What else have you been working on?
A: I did a pilot for Amazon. It’s called “The After” by Chris Carter from “The X Files.” That’s supposed to start filming in December. It’s like sci-fi meets “Lost.” There are some funny moments but it’s serious, suspenseful.
Q: A few years ago, you made a documentary film on heckling. What’s your take on social media heckling?
A: We live in a world of hate now. I would never tweet at an actor: “Hey, you suck.” But people do that and they’re in the business. The whole documentary explores: What is a heckler? It used to be just at a comedy club. Everybody is snarky now; too cool for school. And they think success is (denigrating) someone else as opposed to doing your own thing.
Q: People say things on social media they would never say face to face.
A: That’s why I respect hecklers. At least they’re right there (in the comedy club). With social media — it’s the realm of (cowards). They don’t think (a person’s account) is real. I equate social media with credit cards. It’s not real – until you make that payment at the end. They’d feel different if cash was flying out of their wallet.
Q: So, if someone sends you a mean tweet, what do you do?
A: I see that at least once a day. It just depends on how you are feeling that day. Are you vulnerable? If you tweet back, then you are engaging. What I find is if you tweet back, this guy has oodles of more time than you do. Then his friends will jump in and before you know it you’re fighting 10 people. If you write witty barbs, it’s a lot of work. You have to give your life away to Twitter. So I just have to ignore it.
Q: I promise to stop mean-tweeting you.
A: Hey, thanks man.
Q: One of the things you’re famous for in “Scream” is your character Randy’s rules “that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie.” So does your character in “Tremors 5” have sex or drink or do drugs?
A: My character definitely would like to have sex, but I can pretty much tell you he doesn’t get any. Does he drink or do drugs? Probably just off camera.
Q: Well, now I can’t tell if he lives or dies.
A: You know, Randy was supposed to be a virgin and then he got killed. The rules didn’t work out for him. How did I die? Maybe I’m still alive. Who knows?