You have seen Jason Stuart before, whether you recognize him from his roles on TV shows, his decades of prominence as one of the first openly-gay stand-up comedians (he came out on Geraldo), or from his masterful character work in dozens of feature films (including Tangerine and The Birth of a Nation). He is “that guy.” With over 150 credits to speak of, Stuart is admirably prolific.
Given all of that experience over the past few decades, Jason Stuart is an ideal fit for a memoir. Shut Up, I’m Talking: Coming Out In Hollywood & Making It To The Middle is that memoir, and CCB Publishing is releasing it in June. Shut Up is only one of the exciting new projects from Stuart, who has a weekly radio gig with Dash Radio (Riffing With Jason Stuart) beyond both comedic and dramatic roles in a variety of upcoming television and film projects.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Jason Stuart not only about his career, but also his off-screen living in Los Angeles. More on Stuart can be found online at www.jasonstuart.com.
What first inspired your move to Los Angeles?
Jason Stuart: I was nine months old, in a green Chevy with my parents and my brother, as he threw up my baby food on the highway. I was not his favorite person! I was really short and had no choice. (laughs) Otherwise I would’ve stayed in New York a little longer with hopes of being on Broadway!
What are some of your go-to places in L.A. for late-night eats?
Jason Stuart: My mom and I love Chinese food, so we go to the China King on Third Street all the time. A hole in the wall, but as a Jew, good Chinese food is a right of passage.
Is there a spot that you like to use for work-related meetings?
Jason Stuart: I meet all my filmmaker friends at Stir Crazy on Melrose. They have the best mocha lattes. We also meet at Solar De Cahuenga for a quick bite. They have the best omelets and sandwiches, to die for.
When it is time to grab a few drinks outside of the home, where do you usually go?
Jason Stuart: I have to say I like The Eagle for a casual drink, although I’m not a big drinker. Love seeing a man in a T-shirt and jeans.
Do you have a favorite concert venue in town to see a show at?
Jason Stuart: I’m much more of a theatre guy. I like the smaller theaters like the Mark Taper Forum, the Kirk Douglas Theater, and Comedy Central Stage for Sit and Spin which I’m going to be in on August 15th.
Food and drinks aside, what are you currently working on?
Jason Stuart: My book Shut Up, I’m Talking! is coming out in June. It’s a memoir on coming out in Hollywood and making it to the middle. I’m also hosting a new radio show every Wednesday between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM with my sidekick Lexie Grace on Dash Comedy Radio.
In addition, I have a few films coming out: the thriller Immortal, the action film Abduction — I play my first detective — in the SyFy film The Fare I’m the voice of “the dispatcher,” and lastly, the drama Hank from this brilliant Chinese filmmaker Hungyu Li, which is a big hit on the festival circuit and will show at Palm Springs Short Fest this June.
As an actor, stand-up comic, author and podcaster, how do you like to be thought of most?
Jason Stuart: I’m character actor first, a comedian second and all the other stuff are things I’ve done to be able to work as an actor more and have fun as a comedian. It wasn’t easy in the 80s when I started as a gay man in the closet. But as things got easier and rolls start to come, now the challenge is finding talented people to work with, but all in all I’m a lucky guy.
Finally, Jason, any last words for the kids?
Jason Stuart: I heard the story about Barbra Streisand. A friend of hers wanted her to meet with her niece who wanted to be an actress. Barbra said “Yes, of course.” The young girl asked Barbra, “Do you think I should be an actress?” Barbra simply said, “No.” The girl said, “Why?” Barbra said, “If you have to ask, you don’t really want it.” I agree 100%. It has to be something you can’t live without otherwise in the end the road is not worth it.