Big Irish Jay, ‘The Everyman’s Comedian,’ Comes to The Fox


Jay Hollingsworth is the kind of comedian that calls it like he sees it, and as a heavyset, 6-foot-8 Irishman, he starts with his stage name, “Big Irish Jay.” 

As the nephew of a police officer and the son of a longshoreman, his comedy is a mix of witty observations and recounts of his own past taken from the perspective of an everyman who you might come across after a couple drinks at the bar. 

Hollingsworth’s roots started in the Pacific Northwest. He was born in Portland and spent his youth bouncing from there to Washington state. 

“For people that move around a lot — at the time as a kid you hate it,” he said. “But I think that’s actually good for you because you adapt, you enter a new area and you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to get to know people. … Forces you to be more outgoing and social.” 

It’s commonly said that comics process the hardest parts of life by translating the pain to laughter. Hollingsworth — who says he’s not nearly the funniest person in his own family — said he sees that very process in his own relatives. He related a story when at his aunt’s funeral, as people tearily took to the podium, it was a mix of jabbing one another.

“It was like a roast. Cousins were ripping at other cousins and crying and laughing. It was so bizarre, but that’s how (comedians) deal with stuff,” he said. “We have no filter and we throw it out there. I think comics, in general, are the greatest people to be around because they don’t take offense to things and they’re the most honest.”  

Hollingsworth found himself in Boston with jokes on paper, but not the nerve to perform them until it came time to impress a girl he was dating who was enrolled in an improv class. 

“It just went from there,” he said. 

Eventually, he returned to the Pacific Northwest as a comedy club emcee in Bellevue. After a few years, he moved down to Southern California to really commit to the craft. 

“They say you go to New York to be a better comic and L.A. to become famous — it’s the old adage and I chose L.A.,” he said.

While many comedians want to land onscreen as hosts or even writers, Hollingsworth said a solid career in standup is his dream. The work takes him around the country, but like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, Hollingsworth said he plans to avoid college campuses. 

Not long ago, he was set to be the last of a group of comics to perform for a group of fraternity and sorority members at a California university and he noticed the audience was laughing, but kind of tight. 

“I went onstage and I said, ‘Looking at everyone here I’d say I’m by far the fattest person in the room,’ and the whole room went ‘awe!,’” he said. 

Trying to take the joke a step further, he threw out there “I’m probably the ugliest one in the room!” 

The joke fell flat and a young woman stood up and shouted, “No, you’re not, you're awesome!” he said. 

Although universities aren’t his thing, Hollingsworth is well known on the comedy touring circuit and in the word of podcast. 

He’ll be in Centralia at the Fox Theatre on Friday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person in advance and $18 the day of the show. They are available at Holley’s Place Frozen Yogurt and online at 

For more information, contact the Fox Theatre at (360) 623-1103.