When "Big" Jay Oakerson dropped out of college to pursue a career in standup comedy, his mom's response couldn't have been harsher than if he'd taken a job bouncing for strippers at bachelor parties; she kicked him out of the house until he agreed to cut down on his standup habit. In the meantime, Oakerson took a number of dead-end jobs -- jobs like driving around strippers and escorts. And that wasn't the worst of it.
"I had a gun put in my face in Atlantic City," Oakerson says, recalling his job playing Winnie the Pooh at a kid's birthday party in the 'hood. "Afterward, the father wouldn't let me in the bathroom to change, so I took off the Pooh head, and the kid started crying, and the father was furious. I ended up being chased down the street with the head in my hands, still wearing the costume. That was as scary as any stripper problem I ever had."
Fortunately, Oakerson's work-related problems were about to end. In 2001, his story-based brand of standup won him the Salem Orb-E Future Faces Competition (the comedy portion, that is), and he was given the chance to perform at New York City's noted comedy club Carolines on Broadway. "I did one show with Kim Coles [of In Living Color fame], and they ended up keeping me," Oakerson says.
So the now-27-year-old Queens resident left the world of shit work and made comedy his full-time job, flooring audiences with anecdotal bits about ultramacho frat boys or being too fat for karate. ("I was a clear belt," he quips.) Aside from regular standup gigs, Oakerson can be seen co-hosting Spike TV's Movies on Tap every Sunday with fellow comic and good friend Patrice O'Neal. This comes after a recent spot on Dave Attell's Insomniac Tour, appearing on Comedy Central's Premium Blend, and working as a writer for Chappelle's Show.
And speaking of said program, Oakerson's currently touring with fellow Chappelle's Show writer Kurt Metzger. They'll be in town Thursday through Saturday, performing at the New York Comedy Club (8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). Admission costs $12. Call 561-470-6887, or visit www.nyccboca.com. -- Jason Budjinski
Maybe you long for the days when Jerry Garcia was still alive and Phish toured every year (or maybe you just really love weed). In that case, Of a Revolution might be the remedy you need. Chances are, if you know about O.A.R., then you're already really, really into them. But there's an equal chance you have no idea who they are, mistakenly grouping them in the indie-rock category in your brain. Though O.A.R. is definitely a band built on DIY work ethics (e.g., relentless touring and self-released albums), it's not indie by any stretch of the imagination. Its music is an amalgamation of arena rock, folk, pop, lyrics about poker, and plenty of island vibes (a term the band seems to love). Formed in Rockville, Maryland, O.A.R. has acquired a pretty strong underground following throughout the years -- one that devotedly attends shows, records the band, and posts their fawnings all over the Internet. So if you have a hankering for acoustic guitar-based jamming and extended improvisations, then put down your Dave Matthews CD and get your ass down to the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre (1801 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach) for Sunday's 6 p.m. show. Tickets cost $28. Call 954-523-3309, or visit www.ticketmaster.com. -- Dominic Sirianni
Meet the Parents
As a native New Yorker raised in Brooklyn's ethnically diverse Sheepshead Bay neighborhood, Steve Solomon has acquired a wealth of material for his character-driven performances. But the basis for his routine isn't some kind of Cosby-like crew of neighbors but the odd collection of characters that occupied his own home. In his one-man comedy show, My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm in Therapy, Solomon treats the stage like a psychologist's sofa, recalling not just his neuroses-inspiring parents but all the aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and grandparents who made his family functions a struggle to keep his head screwed on. Though Solomon's hands are full with all the characters he has to interpret, his cache of voices and dialects will make you wonder which ones are really him. Howie Mandel's got nothing on this guy. Solomon's performances run now through August 14 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $25. Call 561-832-7469, or visit www.kravis.org. -- Jason Budjinski
Just when you thought Drew Carey and his ilk had killed off the art of bullshitting their way through a decent joke, local improv troupe THEY bring the practice back to life. For the first time in Fort Lauderdale, THEY will spend 90 minutes cracking unrehearsed jokes based on audience suggestions alone; so yell loudly, and yell often. This group of actors gets together to perform its spur-of-the-moment shenanigans this Saturday night at the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre (640 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale) for more than just the giggles. Despite the venue, this isn't some cutesy kids program. Tonight's show is a benefit for the FLCT; proceeds will be used to fund drama programs for kids. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $7. Call 954-763-6882, or visit www.theyimprov.com. -- Jake Smith