Jay Washington: from slamming folks to slanging jokes

Jay Washington: from slamming folks to slanging jokes

Jay Washington is a Chicago comedian and radio personality. What separates Jay from other comics is the interesting leap he made from pro wrestling to comedy, as well as his determination. This Sunday (Feb. 9th) you can see his show "Laughing Insanity" at the Laugh Factory Chicago at 8:00 pm. You can also hear his radio show "Educated Insanity" Monday-Friday, 3-5  pm CST at www.know1radio.com.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Chicago, born and raised. Grew up on the south side. I say onstage, that I grew up in a neighborhood that sounds like it was meant to breed gladiators, not productive members of society. And I can say that because of the nicknames of the neighbors we had. Part of the street was called the "Terrordome," the other part "Killa Ward," very gang-infested, violent neighborhoods.

Did being from a tough area get you into wrestling?

Not really, but the fact that a lot of the guys I grew up with ended up becoming wrestlers. As kids, we would always wrestle in our backyard and in our front yard.

How do you get into pro wrestling?

You would hear about it. It used to be like a real closed-circuit thing, to figure out how to get into it, almost like a secret society. That's how it used to be. But now it's like, "Oh there's a Wrestling School..."

One day this guy I always used to wrestle with signed up with Windy City Wrestling. He was like, "Hey you should come do it." Then I went down there and it was $2500. I was like, "I can't do this." A couple years later he got into another promotion and he was like, "It's only $40 a month." I was like, "I can swing that." That was in 2000.

It was a while before I started making money wrestling. It was a long time. Almost 5 or 6 years. At first, I wasn't doing it that much because I wasn't getting booked that much. I was a regular guy. So I was doing it maybe once a month, two months, something like that.

Where would you get booked?

All over the country. One of my biggest memories so far was wrestling in Philadelphia in the former ECW arena. Which is considered to be a bingo hall under the freeway. If you drove past it you'd be like, "What is this place?" But to just go in there and know the history...

What was your wrestling name?

Trauma. I was the Urban Gladiator Trauma.

Are there similarities between wrestling and comedy?

Getting booked, going on the road, working with horrible promoters, horrible venues, clicks... That's with any entertainment facet, any business. You're always going to have that group of entertainers that are going to stick together with who they consider are their friends and buddies.

Which career path is tougher?

Actually both. With comedy you have to make people like you. You have to. There's no ifs, ands, or buts. But with wrestling, you have to entertain people to be brought back. If I have a match, and people are just like, "Whatever," the promoter isn't going to waste any money bringing me back. Pretty much the same thing each way.

What do you like to talk about in your act?

Some of everything. Everything I experience. Being a father, my deceased mother, my family. When I experience things, things I go through. Heartaches and pains... The way I look at situations about my life.

If I told people about it, they would laugh. Now I have to find a way to deliver it where it's funny entirely. I wouldn't say I've found my voice, but I'm getting to that point.

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