Showbiz, Jay Mohr and the Story of a Yoga Class

Bill Funt
Staff Writer

And now a story about two mainstays of life in L.A … spirituality and showbiz.

A few blocks away from me in my little shtetl (Jewish community) is a kundalini yoga studio called Yoga West which is run by Sikhs, the main proponents of that kind of yoga.

There are a great deal of similarities between Sikhs and Orthodox Jews: long beards, hair covering, name changing, sexual mores and other things, but like all the places I’m drawn to: everyone is welcome.

On every other Friday they offer a yoga class followed by what’s called a “soundbath” in which you lie on the floor for an hour with your eyes covered and are surrounded by people playing the didgeridoo, gong, chimes and other percussion. Don’t roll your eyes; the combination of those two activities is so relaxing and soothing.

So I’m there last night and who should I see sitting in the front but comedian Jay Mohr. I think he’s very funny. Any guy around my age who does Buddy Hackett is OK by me.

When it comes to celebrities, I don’t approach them unless they seem open to it and I have something to say to them besides “are you so and so?” In this case I decided to say, “I love that you are here. I love that you inject some grounded Jersey boy energy into this environment.”

I said this because while I love the opportunities for spiritual growth this town has available to it, let’s face it … a good deal of people who are drawn to it are a little … um … untethered and woo.

Well that was enough for Jay to be interested in continuing the conversation. I asked him how that little world of yoga compared to life on SNL and beyond, in places where there was a lot of darker energy, anger, emptiness and backstabbing. He told me that there wasn’t as much of that as people think, and that the life of a comedian is a very monastic life … just like the life of a yogi. They are for him complementary. And here is my favorite part of the conversation:

Me: “You know I don’t lead with what I’m about to tell you these days. Indeed part of my struggle has been learning NOT to lead with it but I have had a front row seat to celebrity. My father was Allen Funt of Candid Camera. I tell you this only to convey some understanding and familiarity with that aspect of your life.”

Jay: (Eyes wider) “Oh wow, I certainly remember him. Talented guy … but I find you infinitely more interesting.”

Those broad smiles are not to say that I’m still in competition with my dad. It’s just that what he said was – well – not something I have heard a lot. I enjoyed it.

Epilogue – I just called my Yiddishe mama back in New York for our weekly check-in and I told her this story.

Mom: “Wait, he thinks you’re more interesting because of your father?”

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