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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Otis Day coming to Naperville, Woodridge as part of "Animal House" reunion




By ERIC SCHELKOPF

DeWayne Jessie might not be a household name, but his alias, Otis Day, certainly is.

Jessie played the fictional character Otis Day in the comedy classic "Animal House." Jessie will perform as part of an "Animal House" class reunion from Nov. 15 through Nov. 17 at Hollywood Palms in Naperville and Hollywood Boulevard in Woodridge.

More information is available by going to www.hollywoodpalmscinema.com and www.atriptothemovies.com.

I had the chance to talk to Jessie, http://otisdayandtheknights.com, about his illustrious career.


Q - You're going to be part of the "Animal House" class reunion. Why do you like being part of something like this?

I get to see the people again, and we can reminisce about certain things, and see what our careers are going through at this moment.

Plus it's a nice vacation. 

Q - Do you keep in touch with people from the movie?

We try to, but everybody does their own thing. But when we meet up, it's almost like we haven't been apart.

Q - Were you like a family on the set?

There wasn't any animosity, or anybody trying to be bigger than anybody else on the set.


Q - You must have some great pieces of memorabilia from the movie. Any items that you especially cherish?

Well, I have the John Belushi doll that they gave us. And I have a beer mug that lights up and turns around. And I have a few other little things.

I don't know where my script is, though. I move around a lot. I kind of just lost it, I guess.

Q - It doesn't seem like a lot of comedies capture the audience like "Animal House" did. Were movies just made better back then?

The timing was just right, you know what I'm saying. Look at "Bridesmaids" or look at "The Hangover." They were crazy.



I guess it just comes with the times. 

Q - Do you have a favorite scene in "Animal House?"

I love the band scene at the end, when the band walks into the wall. I love that. That's insane to me.

And then I like John Belushi on the ladder, and he falls back after seeing the girls naked.

Q - Your role in "Animal House" was your your breakout role. Were you nervous at all making the movie?

If you don't get nervous a little bit, then it's not worth it. But once you get in there and start doing it, it becomes second nature. 

Q - You've been doing this for so long that Otis Day has kind of become your alter ego, I guess. Did you ever imagine that would happen?



It took me by complete surprise. It just started building and building.

It's just crazy. I love it, though.

Q - Does it bother you at all that Otis Day has become bigger than DeWayne Jessie?

No, no. Because Otis Day and DeWayne Jessie are the same person. I don't get all twisted like that.
 
Q - In the movie, you were lip-syncing, but on stage, you have an actual band. I know that Robert Cray was part of the band in the movie. How did you put together your own band?

Well. my brother was a musician, so I was involved in the industry growing up anyway. We got together - it was me, my niece and my nephew - we got together, and we formed a band.

We got the rights from Universal, and we just did it from there.

Q - I know your brother recorded under the name of Young Jessie and was in The Flairs and The Coasters. Do you think he influenced you musically? 

Yeah, he did. My house was full of music all the time. I was involved in music all of my life.

Q - I understand that you almost turned down the Otis Day role.

Yeah, I did. I was thinking, maybe I could let this one go.



Then, before I walked out the door, a little voice in the back of my head said, "Take it." I didn't question that, and I took it.

And then it just skyrocketed after that.

Q - Did you get to work a lot with John Belushi?

A little bit, because he was flying back and forth to do "Saturday Night Live."

Q What was it like working with him. Did he crack you up all the time?

He was doing his John Belushi thing, but he was a hard worker.


Q - The movie is considered a comedy classic. Why do you think people still want to see the movie and come to events like this?

Because it was raw. It was just raw and it touched everybody.


I don't care from what walk of life you are from, everybody can relate to school period, and then college. And then the characters in it, you also know these type of people.

Q - The movie was pretty popular when it came out. Did you ever think they would do a sequel?

If everybody was going to be in the sequel, I could see it working. But John is gone, so that would be really crazy.

I think they should just live it alone. When you get perfection, just leave it alone.

Q - During your show, what songs do you like doing the best?

I like "Shama Lama Ding Dong," but I like "Shout" too. But we do a mixture of a lot of other stuff, too.




We do "Satisfaction" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Susie Q." People enjoy it.

Q -  You've been in other movies like "Car Wash" and "Where the Buffalo Roam." What made you want to become an actor in the first place?

I just knew that was what I wanted to do. And I also wanted to sing.

I guess I got my foot in the door through acting to be able to sing.

Q - What other projects are you working on?

I'm working to develop a comedy. We had some stuff happen to us on the road that you would not believe.


It's stuff that you could not make up.

Q - Is it kind of ironic that you got into movies to sing, and now you have a music career?

Yeah, it's crazy.