INTERVIEW: Comedian Jason J. Brown on bringing 'bathroom' humor to SteelStacks

 Comedian Jason J. Brown will record his debut standup comedy album, "Jokes Through the Bathroom Door," at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.  (Courtesy Photo)

Comedian Jason J. Brown will record his debut standup comedy album, "Jokes Through the Bathroom Door," at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. (Courtesy Photo)

The title of Jason J. Brown's forthcoming debut comedy album, Jokes Through the Bathroom Door, is not nearly as dirty as the name implies.

Jokes Through the Bathroom Door is actually an homage to Brown's earliest comedic influence: his late grandfather.

"I thought all the way back to when I was 5- or 6-years-old. My grandfather would tell me jokes through the bathroom door," Brown recalled Thursday during a phone interview. "He did have such a huge influence on me. I'm 43-years-old and here I am, 35 years later, (telling jokes) on stage."

Brown will record the album on Saturday at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Jokes Through the Bathroom Door will be released through Circus Trapeze Records, which was founded by fellow comedian Glen Tickle -- a close friend of Brown, who will also be part of Saturday's event. The Bethlehem resident is the fourth comedian to join the Circus Trapeze Family, including Tickle, Erin McGuirk, and Tyler Rothrock. 

Brown said is hoping to have the album out before Christmas, eyeing both a physical and digital release.

"I like to believe the Lehigh Valley is kind of unique in nurturing comedy of all different types. Every week, there are new people in those circles," Brown said. "The appreciation for comedy is here. The talent for comedy is here. We could literally walk into any venue in the Valley and ask to put on a comedy show and they would say yes. There are so many different outlets doing that now."

Brown got his start nearly three decades ago, first performing in in front of audiences as a magician and actor, before eventually taking a break from show business. 

When he got the itch to get back on stage, Brown found his calling when he learned Bethlehem Brew Works would be hosting an open mic for comedians. Intrigued, Brown attended. Since then, Brown has continued to hone his craft by performing throughout the Lehigh Valley and across the country.

Brown has also taught comedy classes at The Alternative Gallery in Allentown and has taken courses under improvisational comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. 

During his formative days of standup, Brown said he often would take a page or two from the books of his biggest professional influences: actor Harry Anderson (of Night Court fame) and magician-comedy duo Penn & Teller. "Early on, if I had to do a long set, I would throw in a magic trick," he said. 

The far-reaching tentacles of social media has helped Brown and other local comedians reach audiences on a global scale, he said. "I've had people from Brazil message me asking if it's OK if they send me a friend request because they saw one of my videos online," Brown said. "You're being exposed to people you would never meet otherwise."

At the end of the day, Brown said, it's forming and maintaining close relationships with other comedians that has proved to be the most fruitful. "There are no want ads for comedians. The best way to (get gigs) is through those interpersonal relationships," he said. "The biggest thing I've benefitted from are the classes and the personal connections I've made with other comedians."

Jason J. Brown will record his debut comedy album, Jokes Through the Bathroom Door, Saturday at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, inside the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem. Brown will be joined by host Roya Hamadani and comedians Glen Tickle and Ian Webster. Tickets cost $7-$8.