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April 30, 2017

Road Comedy Recap: Fixin to Turn Down for What in Orlando

by J-L Cauvin

This week I traveled to Orlando, Florida for my first booking in Florida since 2009 when I performed at a resort in Destin, Florida (my check cleared from that week, but less than a month later the checks stopped clearing for performers, one of the last times in my comedy career that I was not sarcastically #Blessed – though that should tell you something about the stand up comedy business when getting paid what you are owed counts as a blessing). Headed to Orlando, or as I call it “Tampa with an Associates Degree” there were snafus. I was originally slated to perform Thursday-Sunday. So I booked flights on Southwest using points. But a couple of weeks before the gig I was told that it would be Friday-Sunday.  Now, changing the ticket would have used up a lot more points (which I do have #ComedyMogul), but I figured I would save them for trips in the future to max out their value and take my old friend Amtrak to Orlando. And that is where this week’s Road Comedy Recap begins:

Thursday – Amtraks of My Tears

I arrived at Penn Station in NYC at 245 pm for the ironically titled “Silver Meteor,” which was set to depart at 3:15 and arrive in Orlando a mere 21.5 hours later(look up #21HoursOfAmtrak on Twitter to see my chronicles).  I settled into my seat, which, despite the crowded train, I managed to not have to share with anyone the entire ride to Orlando.  The only other two who managed this feat were the black guy behind me who was charming – he listened to music for about 20 of the hours to Orlando via noise cancelling headphones… wrapped around his neck so that basically it just sounded like an iPod playing without the headphones in. So his combination of black skin and shitty etiquette no doubt dissuaded many (white, Southern bound) passengers from joining him.  The other passenger who didn’t have to share her seat was a large woman who said she had purchased two seats so technically she is disqualified from the contest of “avoiding sitting next to a stranger.” Rigged seating!

As the ride progressed I did several hours of comedy related work and recreational reading in the cafe car to avoid settling into my seat before sleep time.  Then a little after midnight I made my way to my seat. I reclined and closed my eyes and slept for an hour. Then I was awoken by one of the three children sitting in front of me with his mother as he listened to YouTube videos on a cell phone sans headphones.  I dozed off again for an hour then woke up (#StayWoke) to more cell phone videos.  I then dozed off for one more hour and around 430am woke up for good to Beats Off by Dre behind me receiving a cell phone call that he stayed on til 530 am.

You’d think a 6’7″ stranger staring at 2 am on a train would be enough to scare a kid. Nope!

Nothing else of great significance happened on the train, other than it being late. I arrived just outside of Orlando early Friday afternoon, picked up by George, who told me that when he was much younger and living in Miami a guy had tried to work with him to do some modeling or TV work. He declined thinking it was some sketchy 80s Miami thing until he arrived on the set of Miami Vice (where he was interning) and saw that guy with a young actor who resembled him doing a part that he would have been auditioned for by the sketchy guy. The young actor was getting his first big break and his name… was Moe Green (not true – it was Benicio Del Toro, but I just wanted to pull a Hyman Roth from Godfather Part II – but still, what an insane story!).

Friday – Georgetown Law Reunion

Friday afternoon I did some sun bathing (at this point when I take off my shirt my girlfriend says “Plumo” referencing Pablo Escobar from Narcos (and real life) who would offer men “the silver (plata) or the lead (plumo).” This is not because she thinks I am a ruthless leader or criminal, but because of the Escobar-esque paunch I sport when eating like shit and skipping the gym.) So hopefully some of the women at the pool thought I was too powerful a #ComedyMogul and that is why I have neglected my core. But I got some Sun and then headed to the club to open for The Amazing Jonathan, a comedy/magician veteran that was headlining after taking a few years off due to health issues.  When I got there to settle into the green room TJA’s wife informed me that the Green Room was private per his contract, so I settled in the showroom while yelling at her “You know who I am? I’m Moe Green!” (sorry for the Godfather references) No, I didn’t do that and I didn’t care. After all the Palestinians have no home and look how well they are doing, so being a green room-less Power Feature was not an issue for me.

Plumo to the Pool!

The first show went great and I sold a lot of CDs. One couple, that I would describe as poor man’s Kelly Slater and his porn star girlfriend (though she didn’t have that wounded look in her eyes or a high-pitched, my uncle diddled me when I was 8-voice so maybe she was just hot for hot’s sake), came up to me and were emphatic in their praise. He then pointed to the long line of admirers for the headliner and said “What is that? Are they serious? You should have that line.” Unfortunately he started getting louder and I had to tell him “No one ruins my comedy career or burns bridges except me!” But I still appreciated the sentiment and the support.  But it would be very “on brand” for me to get in trouble in my career for getting new fans.

One of the biggest stories of Friday night was three law school buddies coming out to the show!  Well they came to the late show.  The first show was a tour de force.  The second show featured 3 different tables of drunk, loudmouths (women and their weak men) and of course that was the one my friends came to.  They still had a good time and I ended up selling decently after that show as well, I think mainly out of solidarity with people’s disgust with the talkers. We then went for dessert at a nearby bar and watched the Utah Jazz lose at home, forcing a Game 7 (an hour away as I write this – UPDATE THEY WON!).

Just your typical 13 year Law School Reunion at a comedy club.

Sadly the real headline for me on Friday was that my brother was in Haiti with my cousin burying my father’s ashes.  As my brother said, it was sunny and hot, just like my Dad would have liked it.  I would have been there, but there is an old saying in entertainment – when the comedy world offers you a chance to net $310 profit in a week you don’t say no.

Saturday – Rednecks Ruin The Hotel Pool

On Saturday, well rested considering I had slept a fitful 3 hours in the last 44 hours, I made my way to Planet Fitness, the gym for people who hate gyms. Sadly when I arrived it was not hot fudge sundae and donut day.  I understand the purpose and focus of Planet Fitness and respect it to a degree. For many people, the gym can be uncomfortable and discourage people from working out. But Planet Fitness seems to have gone too far in the other direction.  I half expected to see a sign saying “no shoes, no cellulite, no service.”  There was a sign banning supersets.  The exercise bike did not go to a level high enough to challenge me and I am an out of shape Plumo!  The dumbbells only go up to 60lbs. It’s not a gym. It’s a place where people rehab after hip replacements!  But I did a serviceable back workout despite being asked to leave once a vein became exposed in my arm from working too hard.

I then went to the hotel pool for some more rays and that is when the redneck trash took over.  I was lying there getting some sun when 6 people, appeared to be two couples and a couple of friends, showed up. They immediately started playing music on a stereo (that Trump America confidence) and Lil John’s “Turn Down For What” came on in their playlist. Then one of the woman changed it and one of the redneck men said “Why did you turn that off? I was fixin’ to turn down for what!”” I had a private chuckle and then went back into my zone until the youngest member of the crew, who I can only describe as “Lena Dunham, if she let herself go” began jumping into the pool. The pool was small and there was less than a foot between the pool and the lounges where people like me were reclining. I barely got splashed so I said nothing, but then she did it again and I got a healthy dose of water. So I said to one of her friends “she’s got to stop that.” Well, Trailer Park Dunham began pouting and “put herself in a time out” because I guess I was being a cranky old man and not letting Shamu Gallagher have her fun. I kept my cool, but I was seething inside. Or maybe that was just the sun burn I developed on my shoulders. Either way I was hot, but left peacefully.

The shows Saturday night were both excellent. Sold merch, met a fan from The Black Guy Tips (a usual occurrence by now because he has the most engaged audience of anything I have done in 14 years of comedy – UPDATE – another fan showed up to Sunday’s show) who came from Tampa with his girlfriend to see me (despite the fact that the club staff repeatedly told him I was not performing there this weekend because in comedy there is an old saying – “Fu*k a feature, and not in a good way.”  But here are two good clips from the weekend’s shows. A brand new bit and a retooled classic from Keep My Enemies Closer (seriously that album is a masterpiece – get it):

Sunday – The Sweaty Journey to a Fake Catholic Church Before The Jazz Game

Now there are stories that I am not writing here that will be covered on the podcast this week, but this is also being written before the Utah Jazz game on Sunday. So for anything Sunday night or Monday-Tuesday (taking Amtrak back – #PrayersForJL) , as well as things from the weekend not written up here, the podcast is the place to go Tuesday night. But Sunday I woke up (#StayWoke), had a delicious breakfast at the hotel and began walking to the nearest Catholic Church for 10:30 am Mass. Now I forgot to pack walking around shorts so I had to make the 2 mile walk in jeans. So when I arrived at the Church in humid heat and sprinting from cars as I crossed the highway (thanks Google maps for making me think there were sidewalks) I was tickled at the fact that it was an Eastern Orthodox Church. It counts for Catholic Mass (like transfer credits from a strange alternative learning college that doesn’t believe in grades or gender), but it really feels like a parody of Catholic Mass. First off, 95% of the Mass is sung. Even the readings. So during prayers I sounded like the bass from Boyz II Men doing an interlude breakdown while Greek Shawn, Greek Nate and Greek Wanya sing-prayed their hearts out. Also, these folks do the sign of the cross wrong. And Communion was a wine soaked piece of bread. So now I know that I prefer my tasteless wafer.

So now that I am caked in dried sweat with dusty jeans sitting in a Starbucks I am hoping that my #Blessed weekend passes to the Utah Jazz.  See you next year when my Amtrak arrives back in NYC! And meanwhile, back in NYC while I am away:

Cookie: it’s hot AF back in NYC

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