With such a plethora of comics available, Carnival Cruise Lines has partnered with George Lopez to select the best of the best for their Fun Ship 2.0 ships. They hit the mark with Jason Blanchard, the former paratrooper who has made his mark in the comedy world.
Canadian born Jason seems to have found his niche as a comic and isn’t afraid of testing the boundaries with topics oft scandalous but guaranteed to emit a laugh or several.
From performing for the troops in Kabul and Kandahar, to hosting, producing and creating ‘Jason Blanchard Presents Next to the Mic’ and the Canadian Comedy Award nominated ‘Stand Up and BITE ME’ and ‘On BITE TV’, he has taken to the high seas to spread his comic genius around the world.
Jason talks cruising and laughing until you throw up with e-Travel Blackboard aboard the all-new Carnival Breeze.
e-Travel Blackboard: How did you get into performing on cruise ships?
Jason: It was luck. It’s very difficult to get in.
My agent who was Russell Peters’ first agent, had me booked for a couple of gigs back home which accidentally happened to have kids and adults at it, it went well so he said let’s give it a try.
We sent in the tape and then Carnival said that I wasn’t right for cruise ships. A month later they needed somebody!
It’s hard to watch a comedy tape at ten in the morning on a Monday, so I guess they were in a position where they needed somebody so they said we’ll give you a shot and that was it.
My first cruise was on the Pride and you get one cruise then they send you home and decide.
I did that cruise then they sent me to a couple of others right away. So it was fun!
e-Travel Blackboard: Are you cruising a lot of the time? Is that your main gig at the moment?
Jason: It seems to be. I do book stuff at home but you get to know where your schedule is so you can do a mix of both.
You never want to be always reliant on one area, so you always have to keep in touch back home.
e-Travel Blackboard: When you say you’re doing stuff at home, is it stand up gigs and corporate work?
Jason: Yeah I do my favourite clubs, not the clubs I didn’t like but needed to do before. You still dig the corporates, it’s nice!
When I first started headlining my friend said, you need to know your price and just stick to it but when you first start you’re like, “anywhere, anytime”. I was driving 8 hours to do a 1 hour gig!
e-Travel Blackboard: So you were a paratrooper? How long have you been doing comedy for then?
Jason: I was a paratrooper but have been doing comedy for 11.5 years.
I was out of the army a long time ago, 1995 is when I got out. But everything is compared to that time which is why everything is so easy and you always see me happy.
A young comic back home is working his way up and he asked me where I was today and I was like, “Spain”!
He’s not one of those bitter guys, he sees it as something he’d like to do sometime too. It’s fun!
e-Travel Blackboard: What is your most memorable experience in a show on a cruise ship?
Jason: On the Dream we had these twins in the front row and one of them was laughing so much that he threw up at the end of the show.
He was laughing and then he literally threw up and his brother was going to jump up and say something but it’s front row so I could see it and can smell it! I’m closing and I look at him and it was one of those moments, almost like the dog whisperer so the kid stopped.
I finished my show and got off the stage and the mum came up to me afterwards and apologized. When I asked if he was okay, she said that he was laughing so hard that he threw up!
I made it clear that was definitely not something she should apologise for! That was great!
e-Travel Blackboard: So if the greatest compliment for a masseuse is someone falling asleep, then is the greatest compliment for a comedian someone throwing up with laughter?
Jason: Or dying! There was a comic on another ship that had a guy die during his show. He had a heart attack!
While that’s a horrible thing, it would go right on my website with a warning that you must not have a heart condition if watching my show!
e-Travel Blackboard: Or someone’s water breaking and giving birth during the show?
Jason: Now that would be awesome because I would deliver the baby. I wouldn’t stop the show!
Another memorable experience was my very first R rated show on the Dream when I got a standing ovation. In Canada you just don’t do standing ovations, it’s not like the U.S.
I didn’t know what to do, I just stood there and waved! It was very neat.
Women have also flashed me 14 times on cruise ships!
e-Travel Blackboard: Wow you’re counting?
Jason: Of course! You won’t believe the things we count!
e-Travel Blackboard: So you just say a joke and they flash you?
Jason: No, in one of my jokes that talks about women’s anatomy, if I get a big whoop, I can generally make it happen!
On the Destiny I made a bet with a woman onboard that if I could do a cartwheel, she would come onto the stage and flash everyone. Because most people would assume that I can’t do a cartwheel… however I can do a perfect one…toes pointed and everything!
So I had a record going with that so that is always fun!
e-Travel Blackboard: I want to see that at the show tonight!
Jason: If you find someone then I’ll do it!
e-Travel Blackboard: Do you work for any other cruise lines?
Jason: No, just Carnival.
Once I started with them, I give them my availability and they have been nothing but good to me so I don’t see the point of working on any other lines.
They’re great, they keep me very busy and luckily I work the bigger ships. In the last month I’ve worked the Dream, Magic and Breeze so it’s always a lot of fun.
e-Travel Blackboard: So have you found a difference since ‘Fun Ship 2.0’ and the Punchliner Comedy Clubs started?
Jason: I came on afterwards. I’ve been with Carnival for just over a year so I don’t know anything different.
e-Travel Blackboard: How do you think comedy shows on a cruise compare to land based shows?
Jason: The family show challenges you I think.
There are two ways you can look at the family show. There are some comics who say that they can’t believe they have to tell jokes with kids in the room since it isn’t what they got into standup comedy for and that’s totally understandable.
Or you can look at it as a challenge, which is what I did, and think what can I do to make the family show as good as possible. Now I have two different family shows just because I’m trying to make myself more valuable. The thing is, the reason I have this many shows is because I have nothing to do during the day.
So I write…
Last calendar year I did 305 half hour shows then with my corporates and clubs I did 10,700 hours on stage. So when I go back home and do a club, it’s so easy! Or a corporate because there’s no kids there, there is so much I can do.
Like there’s a bra shopping joke I’ll do tonight which is a joke which normally I put in a corporate show but won’t put in my family because it’s a little bit uncomfortable.
e-Travel Blackboard: Do you prefer the R Rated shows?
Jason: Of course! There’s no stress but I have to make myself swear during the R rated show.
I have to remember to throw it in because you can do it without swearing with the content I discuss. It’s not clean material.
My very first show on a cruise ship, obviously I was very nervous but I had my gall bladder taken out the week before but when my agent asked if I wanted to go I still said yes.
23 hours after that call I was in Nassau, Bahamas staring at this ship thinking what have I gotten myself into!
The first cruise director was a guy named Philippe who was awesome.
e-Travel Blackboard: Do you have much interaction with John Heald?
Jason: We met him at the Comedy Brunch yesterday. He’s very nice and it’s funny because with Cruise Directors, it’s the little things.
He asked if everything was OK and said that if we needed anything to go to him which was really cool.
He means it and it was really neat to meet him and Calvyn as well. We chatted last night at Liquid Nightclub.
e-Travel Blackboard: If you could take any celebrity dead or alive with you on a cruise ship, who would it be, why and on which ship?
Jason: That’s a good question…no-one has asked me that before! First off, I don’t get star struck but there are a lot of people I admire.
If it was my favourite comedian I would take someone you’ve probably never heard of. He’s big in England, his name is Mike Wilmot and he’s a Canadian guy and he was one of those first comics when I got started that I got to see live. I thought immediately that he was great.
I met him at my open mic and he came in one night asking to do a spot! He asked how much time he should do and I told him to just go until he was done!
He did half an hour and it was great and years later I met him at a comedy festival and I was ready to reintroduce myself because I didn’t expect him to remember me and he walked straight over and said how great it was to see me again!
e-Travel Blackboard: Name three things you can’t travel without.
Jason: My Macbook – I need that every time.
I can’t travel without my phone. This has all my set lists and is my alarm clock. I also record each of the show’s audio for my protection in case something happens at a show.
There have been cases where comedians have been accused of doing something and there’s no way to justify and the company always errs on the side of the customer, which is understandable.
I also can’t travel without my toothbrush. I brush my teeth a lot and I have forgotten it before and you have to use a crappy subpar toothbrush which is never fun!
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Natalie Aroyan