Jarrett Campbell: Respect for the Grind

March 26, 2020

Photo Credit

Ryan Bannon


Lara Smith


Lara Smith


Toron­to based come­di­an Jar­rett Camp­bell came across my radar some years ago when he cohost­ed The Rude Dudes pod­cast and I knew he was fun­ny. I tell any­one that will lis­ten that his Twit­ter bio is still my all-time favorite, but it wasn’t until I lis­tened to his lat­est album, Straight White Fail, that I real­ized exact­ly how skilled a come­di­an he real­ly was. Full dis­clo­sure, I’m late to the game of telling you how good this album is, as it got me through dri­ving around Christ­mas shop­ping with­out com­mit­ting vehic­u­lar manslaugh­ter. Hav­ing now lis­tened at least five times, I thought I would see if Camp­bell would sit down and talk with us at Com­e­dy Wham.

Join­ing me via phone from his shel­ter-in-place in Toron­to, amidst the cur­rent pan­dem­ic, Jar­rett Camp­bell and I had a won­der­ful chat about his com­e­dy start and how it has tak­en him to quite the career, with Straight White Fail receiv­ing a Juno nom­i­na­tion for Com­e­dy Album of the Year. The album also debuted on iTunes at num­ber one and made The Interrobang’s list of 11 of the Best Cana­di­an Com­e­dy Albums of 2019. Inci­den­tal­ly, I agree with them that it is so good for a road trip!

Camp­bell grew up in a small coun­ty out­side a small town. From his descrip­tion, the town of Let­terken­ny looks like a metrop­o­lis by com­par­i­son. To a kid grow­ing up in a town so small, stand up might as well have not exist­ed. Access to it didn’t exist there like it could today. Instead Camp­bell digest­ed com­e­dy in tele­vi­sion form, through car­toons and sit­coms. Giv­en even that lit­tle expo­sure, he knew he want­ed to be a com­e­dy writer. One of his ear­ly expe­ri­ences with standup came in col­lege, watch­ing Jim Jef­fries’ first spe­cial on a plane. Tak­en with the spe­cial, stand up still wasn’t in his mind to try yet. 

For all his self-dep­re­ca­tion, Jar­rett Camp­bell is high­ly intel­li­gent, and pur­su­ing his dream of com­e­dy writ­ing, he grew to under­stand that the best and most imme­di­ate feed­back for joke writ­ing was stand up com­e­dy. He was going to school for tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing at the time and work­ing in tele­vi­sion. Despite his fear of pub­lic speak­ing, he was deter­mined to do it. His first open mic (he still remem­bers his first joke) com­plete­ly bombed, but deter­mi­na­tion kept him com­ing back.

...it did not take long for stand up to just take over and become the thing..I was immediately hooked on it, and then it ruined my life.
Jarrett Campbell

That deter­mi­na­tion turned into an obses­sion for the art itself as he recalls, “…it did not take long for stand up to just take over and become the thing..I was imme­di­ate­ly hooked on it, and then it ruined my life.” It seems that the grind and the hard-fought bat­tles for respect in the world of stand up that some might resent, Camp­bell absolute­ly loves! I just knew that in order to ever get even remote­ly good at this, that it was all about rep­e­ti­tion and stage time.” He adds, I under­stood enough to know that I was going to take a beat­ing for a long fuck­ing time in order to get to a good place.“

I just knew that in order to ever get even remotely good at this, that it was all about repetition and stage time...I understood enough to know that I was going to take a beating for a long fucking time in order to get to a good place.
Jarrett Campbell

Camp­bell also knew a major key to get­ting good was the com­pa­ny you keep. What I did, from an ear­ly age, was I sur­round­ed myself with bet­ter comics than me,” he con­tin­ues, it’s not like I was kiss­ing ass or try­ing to get around these guys, those are gen­uine­ly the peo­ple that made me laugh and that I respect­ed.” Laughs from these guys were earned, not giv­en, and seemed to be a good gage for where he was with his writ­ing. And who were some of these influ­ences? Tyler Mor­ri­son, Dave Mer­he­je of Hulu’s Ramy, and K Trevor Wil­son of Let­terken­ny.

Jar­rett Campbell’s love and respect for the grind have paid off, com­ing off a suc­cess­ful year of award nom­i­na­tions and album buzz. And remem­ber that small town col­lege kid watch­ing Jim Jef­feries’ first spe­cial on the plane? Well he got to per­form at The Jim Jef­feries Gala at Montréal’s Just For Laughs last year.

  • Lis­ten to Jar­ret­t’s Straight White Fail is avail­able now on iTunes, Spo­ti­fy, and cdbaby.

Fol­low Jarrett

Jarrett Campbell