Most people dread a deadly dull trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. But 31-year-old comedian Jono Zalay would entertain himself every time. The Californian native has settled in several states as an adult and would require new driver’s I.D. for each one. Each visit to the DMV became a personal challenge. How could he stick it to the man with his visual proof of identity? They say a picture paints a thousand words, and Zalay came up with many hilarious ways to express his punk self.
As a much younger man, Zalay made his way across the states from his home in San Diego, CA, to Boston, Massachusetts, to study for a doctorate in neuroscience. But as well as cramming his brain, he was developing his funny muscle at the same time. Zalay embarked on a sideline stand-up career, and he quickly made a name for himself around the New England area’s comedy circuit.
Upon graduation, Zalay’s sense of humor became his main focus, and he became a full-time funny man. He earned accolades from the likes of Comedy Central, which named him one of its “Comics to Watch” in 2016. Increasingly, Zalay divided his time between the entertainment capitals of New York and Los Angeles, CA.
And it was in the Golden State where Zalay would make his latest hilarious statement from a trip to the DMV. On January 9, 2018, the comedian began a thread on Twitter. He tweeted, “Recently moved back to California and had to get a new driver’s license. This is my story.”
Of course, a new license meant posing for an updated photo that would be printed on the government-issue card. Zalay explained on the social media site that he “wanted to take advantage of [his] relatively longer hair and lack of mustache” in the refreshed image.
But it turned out that Zalay had no intention of using his flowing locks and clean-shaven look as part of his new DMV image. Instead, the prankster headed to the hairdressers. “My idea would need a lot of steps to transform this wholesome young boy,” he tweeted.
Next, the funny man shared an image of himself with his mane in foil, a tell-tale sign that he was coloring his hair. The ripples of aluminum combined with the black salon robe made Zalay think he looked like a “Supreme Court Justice,” as he described himself on Twitter. But would he be found guilty of a tonsorial fashion crime?
Once the foil was removed, the full glory of Zalay’s newly bleached blonde hair was revealed. The comedian described his new voluminous, side-swept style as “Mean Surfer #7 (uncredited), Point Break (1991).” An imaginary extra for the film starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, but the look was very in-your-face in reality.
Sure, the blitz-bleached style was shocking – but Zalay was nowhere near finished his punk styling process. Next, he had the hairdresser add a splash of scarlet dye, leaving just a bit of the blonde exposed. At that stage, the stand-up compared himself to pop star Aaron Carter if he were to become “a birthday clown after his album tanks.”
A few extra-strong hair products were undoubtedly used to complete the next outrage for Zalay’s hair. His dyed locks were swooped skywards into a shape similar to horns. Even with this extreme look, the comedian was not happy and still had finishing touches to add.
The “final phase,” as Zalay called it on Twitter, involved a bit of make-up and a few accessories to transform him into a true punk. Now he was geared up to kick them to the kerb down at the good-old DMV. But, needless to say, the unsuspecting employee who had the zany Zalay in her line gave the comedian a funny look.
When Zalay’s number was called, the female staffer compared the picture on his old license with his fresh punky image. She then told her client, “You’re going to need a new photo, you look nothing like your last California I.D.” This was understandable, as once upon a time the comedian had rocked a mustache and mullet.
Indeed, that little exchange at the DMV was a small clue that Zalay was no novice at this sort of thing. And it turned out that he was by no means the only one to commit such a stunt. He tweeted that in fact his father had started the trend way back in the 1970s. And the very particular sense of humor must have run in the family, because all of its members would go on to use similar snaps for their visual I.D.
And Zalay explained all on Twitter. He wrote, “My family has a tradition of being officially documented by the government as characters, because they don’t know we’re not those people.” He then proved this by sharing a photo of his brother, who went full hippie on his last visit to the DMV.
So to carry on the tradition, all the stand-up had to do was sit down for his new DMV photo. Unfortunately, Zalay did not get the exact shot he envisioned. “When taking the official photo, the picture person [didn’t] let me snarl my lip,” he reported to his Twitter followers.
Nevertheless, despite not being able to utilize his punky snarl, Zalay still had plenty of anarchistic attitude left to deploy. The funny man next had the serious prospect of a written driving test. Apparently, he “barely passed” due to an interesting answer. As Zalay recounted on Twitter, it asked, “‘Did you know you’re not allowed to park in front of your own driveway?’ I said you could because f*** the government.”
However, at the end of the day, Zalay successfully earned his license, which he reported would be sent to him soon. He summed up his experience in a further Twitter entry. He tweeted, “I got a punk driver’s license even though I am NOT punk but it is a prank on the lame government so technically I AM a punk?!”
Of course, posting his experience online opened the comedian up to plenty of commentary. With this in mind, Zalay added a disclaimer about his wacky humor at the bottom of his Twitter thread. And it was a pretty woke move from the comedian. Zalay wrote, “I acknowledge this is only something a white guy can do.”
The funny man now played it straight. He added, “I think that is tragic and want every person regardless of race, religion or gender to have this frivolous of a relationship with people who check their I.D.s.” Zalay announced that he had set up a fundraiser so followers could contribute to the fight against new voter I.D. laws in North Carolina.
The comedian had one last gift to give those following his license application saga via Twitter. On January 22, 2018, he received his I.D. in the mail – and the picture did not disappoint. But, despite his best efforts with his punk makeover, Zalay’s new card still described him as having brown hair.