Meet Jason Shapiro! @LosFelizDaycare Mastermind and The Memory Hoarder's Journal Author

Jason Shapiro - Knock Knock Blog

Los Feliz Daycare runs coconut water through its faucets, encourages kids to recycle their parents’ medical marijuana jars into lunch pails, and is lucky enough to have Thom Yorke as an acting guest professor. It’s a wondrous child-care gem for hipsters in the heart of Los Angeles—and it’s completely fake. Who is behind the digital curtain of Los Feliz Daycare’s spot-on parody and loveable, boho-mocking Twitter account? Meet Jason Shapiro—a comedy writer who is neither a parent nor a resident of Los Feliz.

He does live in Los Angeles, though. Jason, who is originally from Minneapolis, is a comedy writer/performer and screenwriter. He created @LosFelizDaycare in 2013 to poke fun at exceedingly-progressive parenting and got inspiration for the account’s popular modern-parenting voice by walking the streets of Los Angeles, frequenting local restaurants, and getting tips from his writer friends and pals who are parents or work in education. The result has been a very loyal following.

Outside of running a faux, flower child, childcare establishment, Jason has written for a slew of shows and entertainment websites, like Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, Syfy’s Reactor, Spike’s Guy’s Choice Awards, Funny or Die, and HelloGiggles. He’s also the author of one of Knock Knock’s newest items, The Memory Hoarder’s Journal­–the ultimate repository for big memories, small memories, and everything in between.

The Memory Hoarder's Journal by Jason Shapiro
The Memory Hoarder’s Journal by Jason Shapiro.
Inside The Memory Hoarder's Journal - Knock Knock Blog
A peek inside The Memory Hoarder’s Journal.

1. How did you get your start in writing and comedy? Did you always know that was what you wanted to pursue? I always knew I wanted to be involved in comedy. I was that kid who was telling jokes from the time I could first talk. My mom’s friend Sue had a cable access show in Minneapolis and gave me my first break at 4 years old. I stood in front of a group of other kids and told jokes . . . poorly. There was a moment where I spoke directly into the small mic that was hooked up and said, “Mom! Line!”

My cousin Jake and I first started making short comedy videos when we got our hands on a video camera, and from there we were making videos with our other buddies throughout high school. We also did a lot of live comedy sketches and skits at Herzl Camp, where we spent every summer.

Jason Shapiro - Knock Knock Blog
Young Jason takes the stage!

When I got into college at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, I studied Comm Arts: Radio/TV/Film and decided I wanted to move to Los Angeles after school to pursue comedy writing. When I moved here in 2009, I started taking classes through the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and went through their improv and sketch program. I started working in TV, and was a production assistant on shows like Lost, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Parks and Recreation, and Suburgatory, and then got a writers’ assistant job on Once Upon a Time. During that time, I was writing a lot on my own and submitting jokes and scripts all over. I even wrote a Full House Reunion Special way before Fuller House was even a glimmer, and would print out copies and leave them around coffee shops and studio lots in L.A. so that people would think it was real. Please call me, Jeff Franklin.

I got my first writing job in 2012 on Betty White’s Off Their Rockers and have been writing ever since.

2. You’ve worked on a lot of different shows and in writers’ rooms. What’s your favorite part of working behind-the-scenes in script writing and show production?
I love the writers’ room process. It’s a dream to be able to sit around with hilarious and talented people and shoot the shit all day. I love the collaboration and the lunches. I really love the lunches.

I also loved the experience of working on a multi-cam. It was so much fun to watch the process of the story coming together, then working over a week to fine-tune the jokes, pitch new jokes, pitch 1,000 new jokes, and then put the show up in front of a live studio audience. That was a lot of fun to be a part of.

3. You started Los Feliz Daycare in 2013 but didn’t gain viral recognition until 2014. What influenced you to continue tweeting and sharing when you were unsure where it would take you? And any words of wisdom for creating “viral” content? I was having such a fun time tweeting from that account, in that specific “Los Feliz Daycare” voice, that I just had to keep going. I think it took some time to hone in and figure out the voice too. Twitter is a great way to test jokes because you pretty much get statistical feedback with favorites and retweets. You can clearly see what’s working and what’s not. I was also getting good feedback from some comedians, writers, directors and journalists who I really respect, so before it really took off, I was pretty content with that. I really didn’t expect it to take off in the way that it did, so that was a pleasant surprise.

My only wisdom on that is just put out something that you think is funny, or something that you enjoy, and then really think about how that connects to people. Hone in on what’s working and keep going.

4. If you weren’t in the comedy world, what other occupation could you see yourself holding? I would like to be a mailperson. Whenever I am staring down a big deadline and I don’t want to write, I fantasize about how great it would be to be a mail-person. I would know exactly what to do at all times and get to listen to a ton of podcasts!

5. What inspired you to create The Memory Hoarder’s Journal? Memory is fascinating to me. I remember some things from a road trip when I was six clear as day, and I often can’t remember what show I was watching the night before. I also come from an amazing family who likes to document things. Every family event is filled with pictures, more pictures, and stories from the past. So memory is a big part of my identity. I also hate forgetting things. Not a lot of people know this, but I don’t keep a digital calendar. I print out calendar pages every month and write down what I did each day. It’s insane. I got this from my amazing 90-year-old Nana. Nana Nessa Lee keeps a very detailed record of every day of her life, so she’s the real inspiration for this.

Jason and Nana - Knock Knock Blog
Jason and his Nana Nessa, who inspired him to create The Memory Hoarder’s Journal.

6. What’s your favorite Knock Knock product (besides your journal) and why? My favorite Knock Knock product is the Excuses & Lies for All Occasions book. I think it’s absolutely hilarious and it’s come in handy one or two times.

7. Do you have any winning advice for aspiring writers and comedians? Just keep going. Most of the people around you will quit.

8. Under what circumstances did you meet Bob Dole and how was it? It was on a family road trip out east when I was 4 years old. We were in D.C. and went to visit our congressman. We were walking down the hall of some important building and there was Bob Dole. This was in 1991 so he had already run for President. My parents stopped to say hi, and I blurted out, “You look like a President.” He calmly said, “I should have been, son. I should have been.” Kinda sad, now.

9. What are 3 things on your bucket list right now?

  • Go to Japan.
  • Be referred to as a “critical darling.”
  • Eat a shrimp the size of a Porterhouse steak.

10. Anything exciting on the horizon for you that you’d like to share? I’m working on a pilot script right now that I’m really excited about. Can’t say too much, but hoping that this company likes it and decides to make the show.

I’m also very excited for Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi. That’s going to be a lot of fun.

I’m also turning 30 in August. Wonder how that will go.

For more funny fodder, follow Jason on Twitter, @LosFelizDayCare and @JDShapiro.