Adam Ray does it all. When we connect by phone, he’s in between cities, eager to discuss all that’s been happening in his insane life. He has a new album out – Read the Room, he’s the voice of ‘Swift Wind’ on the new season of “She-Ra” on Netflix, and he’s voicing one of the leads on the upcoming animated Hulu series, “Crossing Swords,” all while co-hosting the popular podcast About Last Night and somehow touring both coasts of the United States.
You recently threw out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners baseball game. How did that come to be?
I’ve been a lifelong Mariners fan and I used to take the bus with my middle school friends down to the stadium. We’d make these really silly signs and always get on the jumbotron. Cut to 15 years later, I was doing a show and the Mariners’ announcer was there. I get off and I was wearing my “M’s” hat and he gives me a thumbs up. We start chatting and go over to this bar next door and start playing pool until two or three in the morning and just become buds. And so anytime I’d go to a game, I’d stop by the booth and hang out. Spring training, same shit.
Eventually I was like, “Dude, I’ve been wanting to throw out a pitch forever.” I feel like there’s only a handful of actors/comics from Seattle who’ve done some cool shit like I’ve done and I feel like they have so many first pitches, there’s gotta be room for something like this unless they’re gonna keep getting sick kids or weird dads from lumber companies or whatever. It’s never somebody that you fucking know. Even though I’m not a household name, I was like there’s gotta be room for a comic to squeeze in there. So [the announcer] put me in touch with some people and we fucking made it happen dude.
That’s wild. And it came on the heels of the NBA All-Star game.
Yeah, so my buddy Adam Divine took me for my birthday last year to the NBA Awards. And I’m walking down the red carpet, taking all these pictures wearing a suit, and Adam’s like “Dude, you look like every European player’s agent.” So I just start going up to players committing to the part. Like Reggie Miller would walk by and I was like, “Reg, how we doing playboy?” And he was like “My man.” I go, “Adam Ray, from The Agency.” Like not evening trying to come up with something. He’s like, “You good man?” I’m like “Real good, man. Just trying to live. One foot in front of the other. Waking up with the sun, going to bed with the moon.” I sounded like a Phil Collins song. The players are all so conditioned to treat people as if I’m someone of importance – and a lot are really good dudes – so most of the guys were on board with the skit.
We go to the after party and it’s awesome. We’re meeting and hanging with everybody, taking shots with Rich Eisen and Shaq. Adam Silver is there, and I’m about four or five tequilas deep and I’m like, I should go talk to him. I go over and we kind of became real chummy and started talking about Seattle and comedy. I was going to be in New York soon after and he was like “Well, hit me up, I wanna come see a show.”
So I hit up my buddy Brad Williams, and the next thing you know, we’re in New York hanging out with Adam Silver. And he’s just so fucking cool. We’re joking around and Brad goes, “Hey, just promise me this: don’t let Peter Dinklage play in the Celebrity All-Star Game before me.” It was a joke, just a throw away, but Adam Silver laughs and goes, “Screw that guy, you’re in.” Brett and I kind of pause and look at each other, like “Wait, what?” I go, “Mr. Commish, Brad’s just a prop, I actually play, and we are a package deal.” And he goes, “Yeah, you can both play. Alright, I gotta get outta here.” About a month before the game, I hit up Adam Silver and asked what’s up. He said it was on and that I’d be getting an email soon. Then a woman called and provided all the details, took our jersey sizes. It still didn’t feel real until we were on the bus going to the game. But yeah, it was dream shit dude. Make A Wish for sure, yanno?
Would you ever smoke a joint with Adam Silver?
For sure, dude. You can tell that guy…like he’s a real smart dude, but way chiller than I thought. For a guy who runs a sport and has his hand and head in so many different areas, he just was really personable. We talked sports and comedy sober, so I would love to throw a little sativa in the mix and see where his brain truly goes. And I’m sure he did back in the day. He strikes me as the first commissioner who would smoke a blunt post-game with KD or something. I feel like he would come up with stoner ideas, too. Like, “I wanna be in NBA 2K, man. How come the commissioner never…like, what if there’s a draft and I’m there…maybe give me hair in the game. Really pimp me out, give me a cool voice. Maybe Denzel does my voice.”
And if you get to a certain level, you can unlock him as a player.
Oh my God dude. Unlocking old commissioners. Didn’t NBA Jam have weird things you could unlock? I think you could unlock Bill Clinton.
Growing up in Seattle, what inspired you to pursue a career in comedy?
I was always kind of a funny kid at school, never really the jokester of the family. But I would always do weird-ass puppet shows for friends and I did impressions of teachers a lot. I used to prank call Seattle sports radio stations in, like, fourth and fifth grade and record them on a cassette. I’d call back four or five times in a night and then play them on the bus for my friends. I’d also memorize big chunks of dialogue from movies like “Ace Ventura” and perform it on the bus.
But the first time I remember getting a lot of laughs and doing something extra special was in fourth grade, a girl named Annie moved to our school and everybody had a crush on her. She started hanging out with my buddy Evan, holding hands, getting together at recess, going to school dances. Anyway, my buddies suggested I call Evan and pretend to be Annie, since I could emulate her voice. So I would do it and call him and talk on the phone for like an hour a couple times a week. And would set things up like, “Come sit next to me in the lunchroom.” And we’d all watch him the next day. Just seeing my buddies laugh, having an audience, I got a high from making people laugh really early on. And it came easy. I knew a lot of funny kids, but unlike some of them, I didn’t have any nerves to get up in front of an assembly or do a talent show. It was always a fun hobby.
When I got to high school, I quit football to play Danny Zuko in “Grease” and got a real buzz from that experience because plays were such a big deal in our community. To have that much fun and receive all the adulation people were throwing at me, I thought maybe [performing] wasn’t just a hobby, maybe I could do it as a career. Combined with watching “Almost Live!” in Seattle that Joel McHale was on and seeing Brody Stevens on the Seattle public access show “Brody & Teina”…those guys and those shows were my insight into how a performance career could be attainable.
It showed you there was an outlet for what you wanted to do.
You have no direction or idea of a path to get to that, and I didn’t know comedy could truly be a career until I moved to Los Angeles. I went to acting school in LA just to get me down there, which was a good thing because LA is so big and intimidating. I graduated with a theater degree, worked in a casting office, and then started busting out YouTube videos when YouTube hit. I met these guys who did special effects for Lucasfilm and JJ Abrams and they wanted to get into comedy. So I paid them in dinners and they shot and edited everything. That really helped get my name into the comedy community, at least so far as cool web content. I then worked at Funny Or Die for a little bit, kept auditioning, hit open mics, just tried to do it all. And I still am. It’s tough to keep it all going, you just gotta prioritize. And weed helps a lot.
There’s a lot of great things I’ve done on weed. I was super baked in college when I rushed the stage on “The Price Is Right.” That was when I first started smoking pot for real, and after I did that, I was like, “Yeah, this is probably going to be part of my life for a while.”
There’s times when I smoke when it’s just to get high and chill out. Sandy Danto and I used to get high and come up with all these crazy video ideas and just laugh. Afterwards, we’d think maybe they were only funny because we were high. But a lot of them were actually really good. So I realized we weren’t complete degenerates and still had our sensibilities about us when we’d smoke. There’s a time to get real comatose and isolate yourself from society, but at this point I’m more precious with my time and not wanting to be a complete piece of shit. I can’t turn my brain off and am always thinking and writing and trying to create stuff, so if I’m going to take a break and be a little “out of commission” I still want to make sure I can access that part of my brain.
Performing high I can’t really do anymore. I need to be fully present and cognizant so I can work the crowd and also be articulate. I talk at a decent pace and have high energy and I can’t be going on autopilot. I’ve done it, it’s just not fun. When I do smoke for podcasts, I don’t feel I’m at my worst but I don’t feel I’m at my best. Creatively though, hanging out in a small group, for sure. I’ve done that for writing sessions, and sometimes you need a break from reality to get a second set of eyes on what your thoughts are. You put those stoney goggles on, take a step back and can analyze your thoughts.
When you do smoke and what do you smoke?
Sativas are the best. I’m not a vape guy at all. Mainly blunts and joints. I’ve even thought about getting a bong again just to take myself back to 1998. But sativas are my jam. I smoked some crazy strand Gorilla Glue a few months ago and the guy was like, “You just turn into a gorilla and you can’t fucking talk.”
I love the guys at the pot stores because sometimes they try to take advantage of you and act like you’ve never smoked before. Like every pot shop worker has always just smoked what they’re giving you. “I just smoked a couple of these last night, I was giggling my ass off. But if you want a really good high, dude, I just smoked this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. We just got it in an hour ago, but last night, I just smoked this shit.” It doesn’t even add up.