Young love is a beautiful and funny thing, and in the case of Kelley Bryant and Jason Eksuzian, it's more specifically a tenderly delivered dick-joke thing. The two first met years ago when they were both students at Bennington College and eventually moved out to Portland, where they began gaining attention in the arts scene with Lightbox Studio, where they created, produced, and performed critically acclaimed and financially damaging theatrical productions. They also started having sex. They then abandoned their original project, and have gone on to earn more plebeian popularity, first with the "Gong Show" talent show, and then with their own variety show, the "Kelley and Jason Show," wherein the couple hosts a night of skits, singing, and video clips—like a modern day Sonny and Cher. They also formed a musical act, Koto y Soto, best described as "pimp-pop." Somewhere in there, they got married.
Now, fresh off the boat from a European honeymoon, they are resuming the "Kelley and Jason Show" this Sunday, July 2 at Holocene (1001 SE Morrison, 9 pm, $5), which will continue on a bi-monthly basis. We got the 411 on the show, their marriage, why the gym sucks, and competitive self-mutilation.
MERCURY: Is this incarnation of the "Kelley and Jason Show" doing anything different?
JASON: We're launching the animation department. We have a couple of neighbors who write and make videos, and they have a web design company and a couple podcast things they do. They're called Noboto. The pair of them has gotten way into this weird animated stuff. Generally what happens is we all hang out and get enormously drunk, and maybe under other influences, and inevitably someone will say something like, "We should do this thing where there's, like, Jesus, but he's, like, crippled." So yeah, animation, baby, it's the future.
Does the show have any recurring themes?
J: They're all pretty unique, except we always celebrate somebody's birthday in the crowd. And we always sing a song to end the show together.
J: We've done everything from Pearl Jam's "Jeremy"...
KELLEY: Olivia Newton-John's "Have You Never Been Mellow?" and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. And the last one we did was "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips.
J: And we almost nailed that harmony.
K: I think our ultimate message with the show is kind of like Christian boot camp without being Christian. We're trying to inspire people to feel good—but you don't realize you're being brainwashed.
Have you ever been to one of those camps?
K: Oh yeah, I grew up going to those. I was borderline sucked into it. I was in "Acquire the Fire." Imagine the Rose Garden filled with a bunch of 13- to 18-year-old teenagers with their hands in the air and their heads down, and then one of them turns to you and says, "God just told me I need to go to Africa." So what I'm saying is, people probably leave our show and say, "Kelley and Jason just told me to..."
J: Give better head.
K: Yeah, go give better head and maybe read a book. And maybe go dig up that old Olivia Newton-John record. Get a haircut.
[The author's boyfriend jumps in to describe a "middle-aged monkey man" at his gym who also needs a haircut.]
J: I fucking hate the gym. We're going to do a sketch about being at the gym, in fact. My favorite thing is to watch women watching women. It's so fucking funny. They'll fully be on the StairMaster with the iPod on, watching TV, and then this chick'll walk by and she'll have just a bra and yoga shorts on, and the one on the Stairmaster will just be like, "Ahhhhhh!" and you can totally watch her internal dialogue go one of two ways, either, "I've got her. I could take her boyfriend," or "I'm gonna fucking turn this machine up." I psychologically feel healthier because we pay money to the gym. Technically I'm losing weight, like in a more... global economy kind of way. [When I do go] I just wear an iPod that has "I'm Fat" on repeat. "You're a fat fuck. You're a fat fuck. You're not hungry. Drink more water."
K: Then he goes home and cuts himself in the bathroom. Actually we have a spot—oh my god.
J: That was like an almost professional segue.
K: I heard this really upsetting radio documentary about cutting, and how it's this teenage crisis. The big thing now is that teenagers cut themselves in places where they can roll their sleeves up and have people look over and say, "Theirs is bigger than mine, I'm gonna go in the bathroom right now and make mine bigger." We're not going to totally dive into the issue because that's not what our show's about. We're just going to make fun of it.
What's next for you guys, ambition-wise? And are you still doing music as Koto y Soto?
K: We're actually going to record an album soon, and put it on CD Baby.
J: I feel like there's a really big home for us at Comedy Central, they just don't know it yet.
K: Or anywhere, I don't know, maybe just on the internet.
J: I'm the egotistical one, and she's the realist.
Until you hit the big time, what are your day jobs?
K: [I work at] a place called Sonic Arts. We work with production companies making music for studios and recordings for pictures.
J: I work in production, on commercials. We just did one on a stain remover, and I'm like whatever, we'll just do time-lapse shots, but the shit really works. They put a fucking wine stain on a shirt and they sprayed it with the shit and it disappeared. It's beautiful.
Speaking of domestic chores, how did you guys decide to get married?
J: We got engaged at Chopsticks, the karaoke place, when Kelley said something like, "Maybe some day we'll get married," and I was like, "Yeah, we should just do that," and she was like, "Yeah, we should," and I was like "No, I'm serious, we should just go out and like, get that done, so that we can check that off the list." She asked me like 15 times if I was drunk. But it just made total sense.
Check out a preview of the "Kelly and Jason Show" at portlandmercury.com/podcasts.