Former Rochester radio host John "JR" Russell is marking seven years since he entered comedy, and in that time, he's evolved with an ever-changing act.

He's been on stage for audiences small (four people attended his performance during last year's Packers-VIkings playoff game) and large (in front of the North Dakota-South Dakota Moose Convention).

"That moose convention was the worst show with a lot of people that I've ever done," Russell said. "Sure, sometimes shows are hard when it's a small crowd, but this was a big crowd, and they just kept getting up to leave, even before I ever got on the stage! You just learn how to deal with it because if you signed a contract to do 45 minutes of jokes, and even if people are leaving, you have to do 45 minutes of jokes. That's the hard part. The fun part is sometimes I get to share the stage with big names."

Russell has performed at comedy clubs, corporate events and fundraisers, and he's been an opening act for comedians including Josh Blue, Maria Bamford, Mosha Kasherd, Chad Daniels, Shane Mauss, Dustin Diamond and Pauly Shore.Russell was even the opening act for truTV's "Impractical Jokers" live show.

"It's so funny because once you get into this and are actually working with all these people, its no big deal," he said. "Over the holidays, I had family members coming up and saying, 'Oh my gosh, how did you ever get to meet the guys from "Impractical Jokers"? That's awesome, they are my favorite TV show!' and I'm over here thinking MEET them, I WORKED with them for four shows. They are just guys."

He performs in Rochester when he can, and he's a regular emcee at the House of Comedy in the Mall of America.

As for his radio career, it's merged with his comedy pursuit. RadioIO approached him to be the programdirector and Stream Host of RadioIO Comedy.

"That's a big deal, a company like that is taking a big chance on me," Russell said. "I like it, and I'm excited. I'm hoping down the line to maybe do some interviews with some people I'm working with and then replay those on RadioIO."

You can follow Russell on Facebook, or check out his blog and website at

Packing up

We last checked in with 2002 Mayo High School grad Emily Tremaine two years ago when she was in an AT&T Samsung commercial, in which she screamed when she saw a picture of a spider on the phone.

Since then, Tremaine has been in guest spots on numerous TV shows, had the lead in "Firelight," a made-for-TV movie, and a recurring role on "The Big C."

Now, she plays a role in one of the movies of the year, "The Wolf of Wall Street." Her character, Cristy, "introduces Leonardo DiCaprio's character to his wife (played by Margot Robbie)," Tremaine said.

To land the role, she auditioned four times as three different characters, starting at the end of May. She learned she won the role in July.

The experience working with Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rob Reiner and other film greats, she says, was amazing and inspiring.

"When I was growing up, I had a poster of Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Titanic' hanging on the wall in my room," she said. "Then to see him on set and to work with him, that was pretty incredible. When we met, he introduced himself to me, and said 'Hi, I'm Leo.' I wanted to say, 'No kidding. Yes, sir, I know who you are,'" she said with a laugh.

"But he couldn't have been nicer, and the entire thing was a dream come true," she said. "Even though it was just a small part, it was a big moment in my career. It was inspiring. Every single person on that set, every single part of that production had the top people in their line of work."

Tremaine also has had a role on the NBC show "The Blacklist," starring James Spader.

"I wasin one episode in December, and it was sort of unclear if they were going to have me back," she said. "But now I'm going to becoming back as a recurring character on the show. I can't say too much because it's a high-drama show, but I'll be back."

"My main worry there is it seems like everyone dies, so I don't know what my future holds," Tremaine said. "I was home in Rochester at Christmas, and my mom said, 'Oh, I hope they don't kill you off,' and I said, 'Well, Mom, if they do, I hope it's dramatic and takes forever!'"

Tremaine moved to Los Angles this summer, "but it's funny," she said. "'The Blacklist' actually films in New York, and I just did a film ("Selfless," with Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds) that shot in New York, too. So it's kind of funny how much I've been working in New York since I moved to L.A. … from New York."

Megan Kennedy is a longtime midday radio personality on KROC-FM. Seen & Heard highlights local people with interesting stories. Send tips to