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Interview with Jason Rogel

Comedy is an art, and Jason Rogel is on the road to mastering his own brand of funny. I first spotted him in the indie film Splinterheads, where he played a shameless landscaper full of laugh-out-loud moments. This summer he popped up on ABC Family's State of Georgia alongside Raven-Symoné showcasing his talent on the small screen.

Consider this your unofficial notice to add Rogel to your one-to-watch list.

1. What struck first: the acting bug or comedy?

Definitely the comedy.  I got that from my parents at an early age.  My dad was kind of a ham, but my mom is a total crack-up.  She's always had this wicked, dry sense of humor.  And she makes THE BEST faces.  I recently found an old picture of my parents and me on my first trip to the snow when I was like 2 or 3 years old.  My dad is smiling ear to ear, proud to introduce his son to nature's magical creation, and my mom just has this "over it" deadpan look on her face.  I was like, "Ahh, yes.  That's where I get it from." 

2. What's your approach to playing a comedic character? How do you prepare?

I wish I had a more exciting method, but I pretty much prep for the comedic roles the same as I do the dramatic stuff--script work, character work, etc.  With comedy, the "funny" usually comes out of the situation and delivery, so I make sure I have an understanding of the jokes & where the set-ups and punchlines are.  After that, I'm ready to play and just have fun.

3. On State of Georgia, you play, Leo, a nerdy physics grad student. How would you describe your character? And what makes him an interesting character to play?

I love Leo.  He's all kinds of inappropriate awesomeness.  Leo kind of just says whatever and whenever, which was so much fun to play.  We have an amazingly talented writing staff, so the best part for me was getting to see where they were going to take the character next.  Initially, Leo was just another member of the "nerd herd" competing for Jo's affection, but I think once the writers saw the dynamic Hasan Minhaj and I created for Seth & Leo, they decided to have a little fun and spin things in a different direction--which definitely made for a more interesting storyline with his character.

4. How would describe the vibe on set?

State of Georgia was taped in front of a live studio audience, so the energy on set was always high and exciting.  The entire cast and crew are such great people--so talented and so welcoming.  It just really made for a fun atmosphere to work in.  We'd hang out, crack each other up, sing and rap and do Loretta Devine voice impressions on our downtime.  Then come showtime, we'd just go out there and have a blast together.  I love those guys.

5. You were in the indie film Splinterheads. That scene where you threw Thomas Middleditch's burger out the car was all sorts of hilarious (and made me an instant fan). Let's talk your rapport with Middleditch while shooting the film.

Ha!  Thanks--that was one of my favorite scenes to shoot!  Thomas is comedy brilliance.  What was cool was that most of our scenes together were shot toward the end of the filming schedule, so that gave us some time to actually develop our own little friendship.  When it came time to shoot our stuff, the banter between us just came naturally, which was perfect for the Wayne and Justin characters.

6. I could see you two collaborating again, the chemistry is there, whether in another indie comedy or in a bigger budget Judd Apatow flick. Speaking of Apatow, is he one of the directors you'd like to work with? What other directors top your list?

Yes, it'd be great to work with Thomas again, especially in a Judd Apatow film!  The Apatow crew is hilarious.  I also love Christopher Guest's films.  WAITING FOR GUFFMAN is one of my favorites--getting to work with him and that group of actors would be amazing.  I'm also a huge horror movie fan, so Wes Craven is definitely on the list.  M. Night Shyamalan usually has some unique storylines with interesting characters--it'd be awesome to play a part in one of his films.  And of course, Steven Spielberg.  I can die after that.

7. What's next for you? Would you like to carve out a solid niche in comedic acting or venture more into dramatic work?

I'm totally enjoying the comedic stuff, but I certainly wouldn't mind venturing into more dramatic roles or just mixing up genres.  I'd love to get to play a villain, or hell, maybe a character in some epic action/adventure movie where I get to shoot guns, punch people and blow things up.  That'd be awesome.

8. Where can all the Jason Rogel fans get their next fix? This is the part where you shamelessly plug your upcoming roles, shows, Twitter accounts, you know the deal. 

I was lucky enough to work on some great projects this summer, so there are a few things to look out for this fall.  I'll be on an episode of Nickelodeon's SUPAH NINJAS airing sometime soon, as well as an episode of the new comedy MAN UP! premiering in October on ABC.  I also worked on the pilots ZACH STONE IS GONNA BE FAMOUS (MTV) and GULLIVER QUINN (Disney); hopefully we'll hear more about those two shows.  And last but not least, SWAMP SHARK, a SyFy original movie I starred in with Kristy Swanson and DB Sweeney, is coming out on DVD next month.  I play the quirky nerd who helps fight a prehistoric shark that, of course, has invaded the swamps of Louisiana--y'all should definitely check it out, it's cheesetastic!

9. That's gonna wrap it up. Anything else you'd like to share?

Thank you so much for having me on!  You can stay in touch and find more info on upcoming shows and events on my Facebook and Twitter (@jasonrogel).


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