Jensen Karp talks to us about the comedy world and it’s relationship with the LA Clippers. He goes in-depth about his relationship with the team and some of its players.
Anyone that grew up in LA listening to Power 106’s Roll Call knows Jesnen as a rap battle legend. Using the moniker “Hot Karl” he went undefeated for 45 days and ended up getting a record deal with Interscope. His book Kanye West Owes Me $300: And Other True Stories from a White Rapper Who Almost Made It Big is a great read with hilarious anecdotes. These days he has his hands in writing, producing, and art. He’s written jokes for the ESPYs, The Late Night Show with James Corden, and Funny or Die just to name a few.
Recently, he helped create and is Executive Producer for the show Drop The Mic on TBS. With all of that going on he still manages to run an art gallery and host a couple of podcasts. Gallery 1988 on Melrose in LA is an amazing pop art space with some incredible shows. Jensen is the host of Get Up On This, a podcast discussing all things pop culture. He also hosts a podcast with his mom called Motherly Love in which they answer questions about relationships and life.
Needless to say, it means a ton to us that he took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about comedy and the Clips.
Quick note: most of this interview was done in November.
How long have you been a Clippers fan?
"I was born in Los Angeles, and have lived my whole life here. And as soon as I got into basketball around 3rd grade, I hit that crossroads that every one had to face here: Lakers or Clippers? And it was the least climatic dilemma in all of our sports. The Lakers were in the midst of a dynasty and most people didn’t know the Clippers were even a professional team. But Lakers tickets were insanely expensive and I wanted to attend live games. So my dad started buying Clippers tickets at like $6 each. I wasn’t raised with money, so this was a perfect solution. And somehow, I just became a fan of the shittiest team in sports. I loved them without irony and had a hope they’d win every game. I bought a Ron Harper jersey for God’s sakes. And every day since then, they’ve been my team. Through good and bad. I love the entire NBA, and I root on my favorites, but there’s only one team that has had my heart for 30 years, and they’re the worst."
Why, in a city with a storied franchise like the Lakers, do you think there is still a fan base for a team like the Clippers?
"I think, despite the “curse,” they’re an exciting team. There have rarely been an off-season where we, or experts, don’t think we strengthened our roster. I mean we lost CHRIS PAUL this year, and ESPN was still saying they made great moves. It’s weird. The optimism is always there, even in LA. I don’t think we can ever became THE city’s team, but there will always be room, especially in a post- Sterling era. Blake and DJ dunks, Milos assists. Those kind of things have popped up for the Clippers over the past 20 years – even Brent Barry’s slam dunk championship or Mark Jackson’s showtime-esque year with the Clips. We have moments that make us think things are changing, but they don’t. I think that will always keep a fan base around."
Do you have a favorite Clippers moment?
"It’s a random one, but it was a game against the Suns on Dec. 9, 2014. They won 121-120 in OT, and it was on a lucky bounce buzzer beater 3 from Blake. I had been talking to Blake about doing the Space Jam Live Read we ended up doing with him and DeAndre at UCB soon thereafter, and there was just so much buzz on the team. This was their 8th in a row, I think, and I couldn’t imagine the finals without them. Blake had 45 points in the game and I was also always a huge Bledsoe fan when he was with the Clippers, and I remember him getting a triple double. The crowd was so hot. Jamal got ejected for literally no reason, weird stuff was happening. And even though Blake now can hit that jumper (or even a 3), back then, it seemed impossible. Blake was having issues with PJ Tucker all game. So chippy. And even when he hits the three, Blake first instinct is to run after PJ and talk shit. It’s just such a fun run for the team, and I kept my ticket from that night because it may have been the happiest I had ever been watching them, outside of their later round 1 Spurs win, which would end in total heartbreak."
What is it about the Clippers that you think attracts so many people from the comedy scene?
"I think comedians, naturally, like an underdog. If you’ve spent your whole life writing jokes, feeling a bit ostracized, the Lakers will not be your team. They’re the popular kid. The football quarterback with all the girls. The Clippers were the bookworm just trying to put together a good team. The rag tag essence of the Clippers speaks to a comedian, and you see that with the Mets too. When the Clippers eventually win, I wonder if comedians will just move over to the Jazz."
Do you see any connections between being a fan of comedy and being a Clippers fan?
"I mean, I think both need tragedy to survive. Any comedian who hasn’t faced actual pain, isn’t funny. And it’s always been the same with me and Clippers. I’ve only been to a handful of Lakers games, but hundreds of Clippers games. I’ve been a season ticket holder forever and it sucks. But I still go. I’m going tonight. And that’s how comedy is. If you bomb, you go back up. You keep trying."
The team got really raw and young in the Chris Paul trade, but is currently struggling. What do you think our future looks like as a franchise?
"I can’t really figure out what the future holds tbh. The curse seems to be in full effect with the Beverly injury, and I miss JJ and Jamal. I think we’ll need needling in the 6th seed area for a bit, which is never a great spot for rebuilding. I think the Blake resigning was crucial (we had nothing else around us) and continuing to show confidence in DJ can be the only focus. And maybe firing our coach? Everything else is about getting lucky with signings and hoping he have an incredible franchise PG in Milos when he’s back."
You were a guest on JJ Redicks podcast in May of last year, what was that like, especially being long time Clippers fan and a fellow podcaster?
"I was a huge JJ fan and when he started following me on Twitter, I figured that was as far as it would go, but he started reaching out to me and telling me I was funny, which was nice. We talked about podcasting, because he is shockingly a very good interviewer. Like VERY good. And when my book was coming out, he either asked me to come on, or I forced myself. We’ve become friends after that, and he really is a great dude. Doing his show was super fun, especially since it was mostly me pestering him about raps he wrote in college. But anytime I can have a personal relationship with a Clipper – I will exploit it."
Have you done any work with any other Clipper?
"Yeah, I’ve written for Blake for a few times, either for the ESPYs or commercial stuff (he also appeared as a guest on my Baby Talk web series) – which all started off with Space Jam Live Read I did a few years ago at UCB. I asked Blake to read as Michael Jordan, and Blake put me in touch with DeAndre to be Barkley – and weirdly enough DJ did an INCREDIBLE Sir Charles impression. They ended up playing clips from the Read on TBS and having DeAndre do the impression for Charles – which made me pinch myself. But it was a really fun event that including comedians like Nick Kroll, Jerrod Carmichael, Paul Scheer, Seth Green and Shelby Fero, all somewhat Clippers fans."
Chuck or Clipper Darrell?
"Hands down – Darrell. Despite his weird legal run-in with the new management, he’s been around forever. And the man made his car a Clipper-mobile. You have to respect the man’s dedication, even if he’s illegally using a trademarked name to book gigs that the organization knows nothing about. Let the man live."
A huge thanks to Jensen for doing this interview. You can follow him on Twitter and IG @JensenClan88. Check out his awesome pins at Patti Lapel. Be sure to give his podcasts a listen, his shows a watch, and his art gallery a look! Stay up to date with Jensen and all his endeavors on his website.
Stay tuned for part three!