It was brief and so close to perfection that nobody noticed it wasn't Christopher Walken. That deliberate and apoplectic voice reading Goodnight Moonto terrified children in The Simpsonsepisode "Insane Clown Poppy" was ball-busting comedian Jay Mohr. "They asked Walken to do it and he wanted too much money, so they brought in a Walken impersonator," Mohr says. "It was like trying to get Elvis to play at your bachelor party -- he's dead, so you get an impersonator."
Best known for his role as Bob Sugar opposite Tom Cruise in the box-office blockbuster Jerry Maguire, as an occasional cast member on Saturday Night Live, and as the co-creator, executive producer, and host of Last Comic Standing, the 34-year-old Mohr is a celebrity with an attitude. He swore at New Times when we interviewed him last week. He bitched about his wife leaving with his kid. He even said that "guys who love completely bald womens' crotches have problems."
Like many future SNL members, Mohr cut his teeth at an early age on the New York standup stage performing at small clubs. An audition before SNL producers in '93 landed him his dream job as a cast member. "I went on third, and they left after I went on, so they never saw the nine other guys," Mohr says. "If I had gone on fourth, I would have never made it." But that dream turned into a well-documented nightmare for Mohr, who struggled for two years to get himself in front of the camera more often. (He was regularly pushed aside so veteran cast members had more screen time.)
After roles in movies like Suicide Kings and Go and short-lived television shows Actionand Mohr Sports, he's returned to his standup roots, performing in the Comedy Central special Mohr: My Turn. Mohr's act can be dirty without being crude and intelligent without being obscure, and he even manages to touch a heart chord at the end when he talks about the death of friend and fellow comedian Buddy Hackett.
Performing this weekend for Gilda's Club South Florida's tenth-annual "Live! From South Florida, It's Saturday Night" event, Mohr is eager to be involved in the group's cause. Named for the late Saturday Night Livecomedian Gilda Radner, the organization is a nonprofit support community for people living with cancer. "It's an amazingly horrible disease," Mohr says. "Any time you can do a show and bring in funds so they can do research -- that's something."