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American Idol Cancelled! But Singing Refugees Can Seek Asylum in Comedy Open Mics

After 15 years, American Idol has been cancelled by Fox.  The show has produced six legitmate stars (Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert and Phillip Phillips), hundreds of blooper reels and tens of thousands of delusional singers.   Well, with the mother of all singing competition shows obliterated (granted a haggard looking mother after several childbirths now ditched by the Dad of American TV ratings for the younger and hotter trophy wife known as The Voice) there will be a refugee crisis to rival that of the exodus from Syria over the last couple of years. I am, of course, writing about where the literally millions (AND MILLIONS – Rock voice) of singers in America will go now that one of their homes has been destroyed.  I tweeted a couple of years ago that if America could figure out how to turn aspiring singers hopes and/or delusions into energy we would be able to provide clean energy (well almost clean – there is bound to be some unprotected sex between singers and managers/producers) to the world for decades.  Well fortunately there is a place where failed singers… and just failed people in general can find a home – stand up comedy!

Like Jesus feeding 5,000 people in the story of the fishes and the loaves, stand up comedy seems to have an unlimited space for people who want to perform (and upon the first unpaid performance change their career listing on Facebook).   So come on singers!  Join the world of comedy.  You aren’t making money as a singer so comedy will simply be a lateral move.  Plus you will probably have some stage charisma and might be fu*kable looking which are two of the top four things you need to make a splash in comedy right now.  The other two are youth and being related to Bill D’Elia.

So if you are a waiter or waitress or unemployed person with a great singing voice in reality or just in your shower, google comedy open mics in your city and join the community of stand up comedy.  It honestly doesn’t matter if you have any experience or even a sense of humor.  Being funny is only one of literally dozens of avenues to success in comedy in 2015.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Clouds, Carolla and Cauvin – The West Coast Travel Journal

This week I took a break from staring at emails and contracts on a computer for 10 hours a day for a much needed working vacation.  I have not been on a vacation since 2010, though travelling for comedy can sometimes feel like a half a vacation… until you get your paycheck and realize it is not half a vacation, but half a job and you need something else to pay your bills.  But I digress.  I was excited to come out west.  It had been cloudy and cool in NYC and I was pale from a winter and early spring spent inside of law firm offices, so heading out to Los Angeles, a place so Sunny and warm that the state has a historic drought, was sure to change both my mood and my skin tone, right? Wrong.

The day I left for LA (Monday) New York was experiencing 80 degree sunny weather.  LA? 60 and cloudy the whole day.  I failed to pack anything with long sleeves, which was a big mistake since my first show Monday night was at a bar on Venice Beach right next to the Pacific Ocean.  The only things making a bigger statement on stage than my comedy set were my protruding frozen nipples.  It was then that I realized that I may very well be The Nothing from the 80s movie The Neverending Story.  Gloom and clouds follow me everywhere while I leave a warm sunny paradise in my wake (the rest of the week is supposed to be cloudy in LA followed by 80s and Sun next week). (for more funny details of my trip to LA and a quick review of Ex Machina check out this week’s short episode of my podcast here (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin/e/37900896?autoplay=true))

Tuesday was cloudier than Tuesday but it was the big day of the trip – another appearance on The Adam Carolla Show where in addition to getting to work with the great staff there and the Podfather, they also have a free vending machine (it makes you feel like a civilized looter).  Normally I only take one item, but on Tuesday I went all out and took TWO packs of Lorna Doone cookies (as I have been listing many ways I am getting older in my stand up I think my growing love of Lorna Doone cookies can be added).  The episode (http://adamcarolla NULL.com/jl-cauvin-2/) went well and they played a bit of my new Carolla-themed sketch video. Enjoy it here:

YouTube Preview Image (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=_KYcg34AYLg)

I then celebrated after Carolla the way I have celebrated every Carolla appearance… with a coma inducing meal at The Cheesecake Factory (some happy hour drinks, sliders, salmon, mashed potatoes, broccoli and a large piece of Oreo Diabetes Never See Your Penis Again If You Eat This Too Often Cheesecake),  My friend Nick and I then drove around Hollywood for a while counting the number of Chris D’Elia billboards (5,988 at last count).

So now I sit here in my boxer briefs writing this, staring out my window at a third day of cloudy LA. I headline Flappers tonight in Burbank (check my Twitter for link to free tickets) and will be writing sketches and material inside… things I could have done in NYC… but with more Sun #Blessed

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Will Forte is the James Harden of Comedy (and more NBA-Comedy Analogies)

The NBA playoffs have started, my DVR is full and my blog is in need of words so this week’s episode is a useless, but incredibly insightful comparison of NBA stars and people in comedy.  This hit me while watching The Last Man on Earth on Fox a few weeks ago.  It is a very good show starring Will Forte, formerly of SNL fame.  The show is the latest strong Forte product post SNL.  He did MacGruber (you must ignore all signs on-line that it was bad – the movie is hysterical), then he got nominated for an Oscar for Nebraska and now he has created a critically acclaimed show on Fox.  If Bill Hader had produced this streak of post SNL content it would not have surprised me, but Forte had never really made me laugh much on SNL during his tenure. But now, it is clear that SNL was holding him back.  Hence the James Harden example, though even Harden had showed more flashes of stardom on the Oklahoma City Thunder than Forte did on SNL.  For you NBA ignorant folk James Harden was the third wheel on a very talented Oklahoma City Thunder team and was undervalued by OKC so they traded him to the Houston Rockets. A few years later Harden is a top 3 MVP candidate and the Oklahoma City Thunder is out of the playoffs (I hate how singular named teams are referred to in the singular e.g. the Knicks ARE but the Heat IS).

Similarly Forte has been killing it since leaving SNL and SNL is out of the playoffs.  Perhaps just as good an analogy might be Tracy McGrady leaving Toronto before reaching superstar level and then winning two scoring titles with the Orlando Magic (BUT JAMES HARDEN IS BETTER FOR CLICKS ON THE INTERNET SO I WILL STICK WITH THAT COMPARISON FOR THE TITLE).  So in that spirit here are some other useless NBA-comedy analogies to honor the kick off of the NBA playoffs:

Bill Burr is Russell Westbrook – One of the dominant talents of his or any generation and a study in barely controllable rage within his respective field, Burr is clearly the Westbrook of comedy.  The same way Kevin Durant overshadowed (perhaps unfairly, perhaps not) Westbrook, Louis CK overshadowed his fellow ginger until very recently.  But no more.

Stephen Colbert is Steph Curry – unquestionable talents who never cease to exceed expectations, partly because of being undervalued early in their careers. But with Golden State primed for a finals run and Colbert primed to take over The Late Show these two are now at the top of their fields.

Kevin Hart is Kobe Bryant (last 2 seasons only) – Both take tons of shots and don’t make many hits.  Here is a fun game for 2016 – what will be higher: number of movies Kevin Hart makes or number of 30+ shot games 37 year old Kobe Bryant has?  Both should be retired by 2017.

Mark Wahlberg’s manager is Greg Popovich – Wahlberg not a comedy star, but I think it bears comparison if only to highlight Popovich’s greatness.  Wahlberg’s manager took a criminal from Boston with a goofy wigger persona and turned him into an A-list, Oscar nominated star.  Popovich has turned a bunch of overlooked foreign players and a bunch of NBA refuse into an inexplicably high performing team for 15 years.

Eric Andre is Giannis Antetokounpo – Giannis is simply known as “The Greek Freak,” an exciting, how-high-is-his-potential type player who seems to be one of the most physically gifted people in a league full of physically gifted people.  Please see the picture below for why Eric Andre gets him as the comparison.  Showing up in more and more TV shows and movies every year, the ceiling is high for Andre, but like The Greek Freak, only time will tell how far his physical antics take him.

John Oliver is Rudy Gobert – Foreigner who emerged very recently as a potential game changer.

Amy Schumer is Chris Paul – a star in her own right, she is well known for helping out many comedy friends.  I guess I could have called Mark Normand, Schumer’s opening act, the DeAndre Jordan of comedy since they have become rising stars thanks in part to assists from their point guards.

Louis CK is Lebron James – Though their reigns are in the down turn phase there can be no denying that they still sit atop everyone’s current list in their respective fields.  And they are both bald when unaided by hair treatments.

J-L Cauvin is Anthony Davis – Who else could I be, but the next great star of the NBA with versatility and still relative obscurity?  Height, versatility and many years from a title – perfect fit. #Blessed

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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11 Headlines You Will See with a Hillary Clinton Presidency

Yesterday the biggest surprise announcement since “the sky is blue” occurred when Hillary Clinton announced she was running for President in 2016.  There are several obstacles in Clinton’s way, the biggest one that America hates a presumptive nominee this far in advance.  American voters like to feel that they matter, even if it means shunning the qualified candidate to make a statement (e.g. the 2000 election should not have even been that close, whether you think GW Bush actually won or not).  But the nomination and election are still a ways away so I think now is a good time to anticipate some of the headlines and click bait that are sure to arise if Clinton is elected president.  Other than ruining men’s perfect 44-0 record of presidents, click bait may be the biggest reason I choose to not vote for Clinton. After all, minimum wage increases, Pacific trade deals and Middle East violence are much less part of my life than Facebook and Twitter click bait articles. So here are some titles you are likely to see from liberal and conservative sources:

1) Middle East leader refuses to shake President Clinton’s hand because she is a woman. What she does next is AWESOME! – Upworthy.  I put this at 117% chance of occurring

2) #YesAllPantSuits will become a hashtag after some conservative bloggers and Elizabeth Hasselbeck criticize her wardrobe one too many times.

3) The Bitch is Back?! – Controversy after GOP fundraiser featuring several GOP nominees plays Elton John’s song upon hearing that Clinton has secured the nomination. After a major backlash, Metallica agrees to play a Clinton fundraiser blaring their song Aint My Bitch to the crowd’s delight.  GOP commentators on Fox then blast Metallica and Clinton claiming hypocrisy. Discussion quickly moves on to how black people shouldn’t use the N word either.

4) Breaking The Glass Floor – mean article about Hillary gaining weight while on the campaign trail

5) Dy-nasty – NY Daily News headline when Bill inevitable takes off the gloves (and perhaps his pants) to defend Hillary against comments, probably by either Ted Cruz or Chris Christie once she secures the nomination.

6) 17 Times Hillary Caught Bill Cheating… and did NOTHING – yes this old chestnut will be re-packaged with 2015 click bait sensibilities by one of those fringe conservative Facebook pages.

7) 19 Other Women Who Should Have Been Our First Female President – inevitably boredom, dissatisfaction or some other bitter emotion will overcome the Internet and Jezebel will post some list of women, presumably including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Chelsea Handler, who were overlooked for the job before Hillary’s rise to power.

8) You Won’t Believe These Younger Pics of Hillary – Babe Alert! – Some site will located a few decent pics of young Hillary Rodham and declare her a babe at which point a feminist site will post less than a week later…

9) What if We Judged Male Presidential nominees like Hillary???

10) Why Hillary Clinton is the Worst President Ever – After all she may not be black, but she won’t give the GOP even that 6 month grace period of “I’m popular and have a mandate, but let’s see if we can work together on 1990s Republican ideas about defense and health care” that President Obama foolishly tried.  So their anger may equal or exceed that for Barack.  And for good measure:

11) Why Michelle Obama would be a better President than Hillary - Oh come on – you know this one will show up sometime between today and 2018.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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The New Wave of Harmless Diversity in Comedy

In law school (what a pretentious way to begin a blog post about comedy) we studied, among hundreds, the case Bakke v. Regents of California.  It was a 1970s case where the Supreme Court took on affirmative action for the first time.  It ruled that although racial quotas were unconstitutional in college admissions, using race as a “plus factor” was allowed, with the vision, correct in my estimation, that different races can provide different perspectives and value to a college experience that can benefit all students.  The sharing of different experiences and the exposure to people who many do not meet regularly in a largely segregated society (America as a whole, so please don’t tell me about how your neighborhood is different Astoria comedians!) is of value, as is addressing some inequities ingrained in our society.  Perhaps you do not believe in race based classifications of any kind and if that is the case thank you for reading my blog angry white person or Clarence Thomas.  But I think, on the whole, racial diversity is important for various reasons, exposure, familiarity and diversity of life experiences all making up its relevant components.

Last week I had a show in Brooklyn in front of a fairly mixed crowd, racially speaking.  Normally when I am doing material with either racially infused commentary or racial insensitivity I preface some of that material with autobiographical details. I discuss my mixed race heritage (Haitian father, Irish mother) which seems to set people more at ease to laugh and/or think about my material.  But on Thursday I opted to go right for one of my better bits of the last couple of years on black bouncers.  Here it is on YouTube from the DC Improv last October:

YouTube Preview Image (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=LGrCllt3gpg)

For the DC Improv crowd I had already prefaced it with my personal details, but last week I went right into the bit with no details (and because Winter has just ended and I cannot afford a tanning bed session, let alone a sunny vacation, I am at my lightest skin coloring possible).  And the response was the most mediocre it has ever been for the joke.  The crowd laughed/unclenched their progressive butt holes when I concluded the bit with “Maybe I should have prefaced that with telling you that my father is black. My mother just happens to be Irish which is the hateful bleach of racial mixing so I came out like this. But now maybe you can start laughing because a half black guy is talking about racism instead of the hateful guinea you think I am.”

(Now mind you laughs persisted even though I had dropped a blatant Italian slur, despite having no Italian heritage, unless you consider seeing The Godfather 40 times Italian).  Not to mention that the bit is really about the lingering and hidden racism of white people (or the perception of it – you decide), which you think might play better in a hip Brooklyn space.

In a career of frustrating false starts and setbacks this was a weird one. Granted it was one show, but in 12 years of performing I have noticed that my material and opinions, which usually stand on solid comedic and logical premises require some sort of checked box before I can share them with most crowds, especially crowds today.  I have a handful of sets I can recall where I have done material (mind you, I never drop N bombs or anything like that) without offering my racial identity ahead of time and they have all been less well received than when I do mention my racial bona fides.  Sometimes I refrain from explaining context if I think a joke should stand on its own, regardless of who is telling it, just to spite an audience, rather than pander to their preconceptions of what should be said and who should say it.  Sadly, these experiences have made me realize more than ever, pursuant to some discussions I have had on my podcast with comedian Josh Homer, that comedy audiences (and the industry for sure) now crave useless, or at least harmless diversity more than ever.  Let me explain.

In the Supreme Court example previously mentioned, diversity was not intended as its own end. Instead, diversity’s importance stemmed from the exchange of ideas, of perspectives, of experiences and opinions that would make diversity useful and desired.  And yes, there was, and still is, the idea of addressing certain socially ingrained problems and offering redress through diversity.  But now throughout society and inside comedy in particular it seems we want the presence of diversity, without any real substance to it. The visual of diversity has become paramount and feels more important than the meaning within it.  President Obama, who avoided race, much to the chagrin of some of his black and liberal supporters, immediately become a race baiter/hustler/divisive when he addressed the Trayvon Martin case in personal tones, years into his administration.  Eric Holder, who has been the racial issues pit bull for the Obama administration is reviled by the GOP.   We are so post racial that we get very angry when anyone actually gets racial.

In comedy it has been an interesting swing.  The new preview for Last Comic Standing seems to have accelerated the push for diversity from last year.  Last year featured a lot more color than previous years. There have been articles about a new wave of black male comedians steeped less in racial narratives and more in nerd and alt sensibilities. It seems to be a high water mark for diversity, especially black, in comedy, except it seems there are no new Chris Rocks (he dropped Bring The Pain at the age of 31). It seems the best path to rise from obscurity today in comedy seems to be a black guy who rarely discusses anything about being black unless it is innocuous or if it is used to mock black people (hi Key and Peele).  One need only open a newspaper or watch a news program to realize that racial issues are still at the forefront of American culture whether we wish them to be or not. And comics, who are so quick to cite their role as mirrors on society when defending their mocking the death of a celebrity in tweets, seem to be less likely to engage in some of these issues now.

Before I continue, I don’t want what I am saying and about to say to be confused for its simpler and uglier cousin “Hey, why can’t we just pick the funniest people and leave it at that.”  That is an easy cop out to defend the status quo in terms of opportunity and voice.  Just like the Rooney rule in the NFL, which requires teams to interview at least one coach of color before picking a coach, sometimes it is necessary to introduce new people and groups into the spotlight because the process has largely ignored them.  Keeping things fair and color blind will lead to no opportunities because one group has such a definitive, and in many ways unfair head start.

Now I must say that no one comedian can or should be required to deliver any kind of message or comedy. A comedian must be free to explore their own voice and that voice does not need to be, nor should it be required to be, some bullhorn for social issues.  But when the industry, in the aggregate, begins supporting a comedy whose mere pigment is supposed to represent a message, while muting or not presenting more defiant voices, that is an easy way out for audiences and industry alike.  Obviously W. Kamau Bell (admittedly never watched, but certainly observed the way it was marketed) and Larry Wilmore represented some of what I am thinking about, but Bell is off the air and Wilmore’s show has quickly diverted to a whole range of topics, perhaps because it doesn’t want to alienate people too much, or perhaps it is still too small a sample size to draw any conclusions.  But these are not the wave of new black comics people are raving about anyway.

Of course I do not know every single black comedian, but I do know the type the industry seems to be grabbing for with both hands.  We want to see diversity, but in comedy what we see is less important than what we hear and it seems that we hear a lot less than we see.  When one considers the tradition from Pryor to Rock to Chappelle it is striking to see that the fastest way to success now seems to be as a black comedian who avoids challenging people on race, especially in light of all that is occurring in our society today.  There have always been black comedians who did not make their act race based, but there were also comics who did because in America that is still something worth exploring and challenging.  I won’t make a field slave/house slave comparison (that would be as hyperbolic as the hundreds of people and things that get compared to Hitler on a weekly basis), but when the emerging landscape seems to be black comics who avoid these topics there is either a wholesale abandoning of a perspective by the industry, or a pandering by artists to be what the industry seeks. And neither is very positive in the aggregate.

This brings me back to my bit (what would my blog be without some self-aggrandizing).  A lot of my material over the last few years has been about my perspective as a (to a majority of people) white looking guy who has a black father to dissect some of the things I have seen.  But it seems like a lose-lose-lose situation. If I tell the crowd I am half black it gives me the perceived racial standing to criticize from within, but then it can be uncomfortable for people, usually white, who don’t want to be lectured on the persistence of racism from a guy whose face appears to have “white privilege,” even if he claims a different heritage.   If I don’t announce my racial background the reaction can be even more stand offish, often from both sides of the pigment aisle, even though my opinions tend to be left of center on all things racial.  The only perspective left is to pretend to be a hostile, conservative white comic who is “truth telling” to the masses with “I’m not afraid/I went there” posturing, except then I would not be true to myself or my actual feelings since the few comic voices that lean that way tend to be somewhere between conservative and racist.

I just think between my experiences in life and as a comedian and observing the trends taking hold in comedy (bearded non sequitur spewers have now given way to black/ethnic, “but there’s nothing different about us” comics in the passing of the “what industry is desperate for” torch) diversity doesn’t and shouldn’t mean abandonning or disregarding social commentary.  Perhaps the rise of politically correct watchdogs in comedy coupled with the rise of alternative comedy have created less demand for confrontational comedy (or less comfort with it).  But whether it’s softer audiences, more selective industry, both or neither it would be nice to have more challenging voices join the rising powers.  And if an Italian looking dude with a black dad can’t get away with it then someone with two black parents needs to before we all find out we are all similar and happy and no one is thinking or laughing.

And I am aware that diversity encompasses more than black and white issues, which is why I am predicting a gay winner of Last Comic Standing this Summer, without knowing anything regarding who has advanced, etc.  But in entertainment, as well as in America, black and white issues will dominate the narrative for some time the same way they did this blog.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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A New Comedy Joins the Perfect Season Club

This past Saturday I was bored and looking for a way to kill time in between a morning trip to the gym and 12 hours of college basketball.  Having just re-signed up for Netflix (the month subscription will end shortly after the release of Daredevil in April, but yes this is a dramatic turn, albeit not a complete 180, from my binge watching warning posted a few weeks ago), I decided to kill time by trying an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new comedy series from Tina Fey, rejected by NBC and picked up by Netflix.  By the end of the day, after skipping several games of March Madness (something I would have considered almost sacrilegious) and taking a few breaks I had finished the 13 episode run.  Unlike my House of Cards marathon, which was double the amount of time and done under a self-imposed podcast deadline, the binge of Kimmy happened completely organically.  The show was too damn enjoyable to stop.  And that is why it joins the rare company of my “Perfect Season of TV Club.”

Now I will only focus on the few comedy shows to post perfect seasons in my estimation, but obviously if drama were to be included, off the top of my head I would include season 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad, Seasons 3 and 4 of The Wire, Season 2 and possibly 5 of Six Feet Under, and I am sure The West Wing posted at least one perfect season, if not more.  But as far as comedies only a few shows have posted perfect J-L seasons.

To post a perfect season every episode must be hilarious.  No performances can be weak and it has to finish perfectly as well.  It also helps if the season builds upon itself with either lots of great callbacks and/or humor that improbably gets stronger from a strong start as the season progresses.  Admittedly most modern shows with shorter runs have better shots at pulling off a perfect season, but  so be it.  Despite my recent praise of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I did not think of one season in particular to put on the list.  As an all time great comedy it’s place is assured, but no one season felt “perfect,” though I would put my enjoyment of the over 100 episodes at over 80% hilarious, with only a handful being not worth watching.  But only the following shows have garnered perfect status in my mind:

  • Eastbound and Down – Season 1.
  • Hello Ladies – Season 1 + the 90 minute movie
  • Arrested Development Seasons 1 & 2
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 1

Now there is of course a chance that the limited run of these shows makes their perfection more memorable (only Eastbound made it to even 4 seasons, since the Netflix 4th season of Arrested Development was the worst add on to a classic since Indiana Jones 4 and Godfather 3 I do not count it), but if you have a good and varied sense of humor I don’t see how you could challenge them.  Yes Eastbound is a tad vulgar and Hello Ladies a tad depressing and awkward. But both on the list were tremendous and perfect.  If you don’t think Arrested Development was the best comedy of all time then you are wrong.  Arrested Development is like the deadbeat Dad of both Modern Family and It’s Always Sunny – it gave them the blue print of what made them great without giving a sh*t about anyone or anything AND it had the best cast of a comedy ever.  The cast was so good that almost no one from the cast was able to get cast as anything but a variation of their AD character for the last 12 years.

And that brings us to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  I referred to the show this weekend on Twitter and Facebook as “relentlessly funny.”  That is what it is.  There is so much strong, subtle and brilliant humor in every minute of every episode that I found myself laughing out loud more than I have in a very long time.  The premise of the show is basically 4 women are held by a religious fanatic in a bunker for over a decade (yes, basically they made a comedy that might have been subtly inspired by the Ariel Castro case in Cleveland) and then rescued.  Kimmy decides to stay in NYC after a Today Show appearance and make a new life for herself. She has a gay acting roommate and a job as a nanny for a billionaire’s wife.  For 13 episodes the show is a masterpiece.  From the opening scene where a Charles Ramsey-esque black man is immediately auto-tuned describing the rescue of the women and repeated every episode as the theme song, to the incredible funny courtroom cameo -as-religious fanatic defendant the show is a home run every episode.

The cast is incredible without a weak spot, or even less than a strong spot, but Ellie Kemper (Kimmy), Jane Krakowski (the billionaire’s wife) and Titus Burgess (Titus – the gay roommate) all deserve Emmy nominations.  They are all in full comedy beast mode.  Now, just to get a little indignant and righteous – go watch Transparent on Amazon, if you can muster the 5 hours this week to watch the “comedy” that won the Golden Globe this year.  Then watch Kimmy Schmidt.  My prediction is the laugh ratio will be at least 1:500 in favor of Kimmy.

And I know that I am sometimes harsh on women in comedy and proclaiming that men, thanks to societal expectations and culture and many other reasons, are on the whole, much funnier than women and obviously Tina Fey, whether an exception to that thought, or proof that that thought is nonsense deserves major respect (not that she doesn’t have it already).  Though I didn’t particularly care for her run as head writer on SNL, 30 Rock was brilliant and I think Kimmy may be her best work if it can maintain the brilliant pace it set with season 1.  And that raises a question: with Tina Fey’s legendarily muscular calves, her tiny thug facial scar and her amazing comedic skills… are we sure she isn’t really a man? Hash Browns Just kidding! Hash Browns LOL (inside joke for Kimmy fans).

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Weekend Recap: Crushed It in Philly and Brooklyn! (watching the Utah Jazz)

This weekend I was out on the road, which was a nice change of pace from sitting in sweatpants for 11 hours a day “on my way to the gym” while trying to finish Netflix (you read that correctly).  However, as my comedy booking e-mails continue to go into spam folders (perhaps using the subject heading “Enlarge your penis by booking me at your club” is a bad way to get through web filters this weekend’s road tripping was to support my favorite sports team, the Utah Jazz.  Perhaps other than “J-L is not booked to do comedy this weekend” no phrase makes less sense in the American pop culture landscape than “Utah Jazz.” As a quick primer they used to be the New Orleans Jazz, but then the team moved to Utah with all those swinging Mormon cats and decided that they should keep the name Jazz. especially if 30+ years later a team would come back to New Orleans and would prefer to be known as Pelicans anyway.  I became a Jazz fan because as a young hoopster I liked Karl Malone’s gigantic arms (no homo), their purple uniforms (no homo) and John Stockton’s short shorts (OK, possibly homo at this point).  And even at a young age the Jazz gave me a sense of identity as a sports fan away from my friends and family’s uniform admiration for the New York Knicks.  Stockton and Malone gave me the added benefit as a mixed race child of seeing a black person and a white person work together in harmony, as opposed to my parents who had more of a Robert Parish-Bill Laimbeer relationship.

Robert Parrish and Bill Laimbeer - less passively aggressive than my parents

So with that backdrop I have been a die hard Utah Jazz fan for 28 years I went to see them against the 76ers in Philadelphia Friday with two friends (Pat and Jim) first and then against the Nets in Brooklyn on Sunday.  Normally I also go to watch them play the Knicks, but when I looked up ticket prices for Knicks games, even the cheap seats had “anal rape” listed as the cost on Ticketmaster so I had to pass, which was disappointing since the Jazz won on a last second shot.  Last year I went because I received Lorne Michaels (yes that Lorne Michaels) seats 3rd or 4th hand (#ComedyMogul), but the Jazz came as close to winning that game as I did to becoming a cast member on SNL.  So on to this weekend’s festivities.

Philadelphia

The first part of Jazz Weekend was Philly.  That meant the PATH train from Manhattan to Hoboken, get picked up by Jim in his borrowed car and Daryl Dawkins’ game jersey, stop at Pat’s house where he was with his adorable two sons, reminding Jim and I that perhaps being struggling, unsuccessful comedians with no families of our own is actually a plan B for life, switch to Pat’s larger car for the Cranford to Philly leg of the trip and then watch a match up that NBA TV called “what the fu*k else is on tonight.”

The drive from Cranford to Philly was uneventful, because Pat (the Dad) did something I have never seen before – he kept perfect 62 mph pace with the GPS. We had a 90 minute trip according to the GPS and he arrived in 90 minutes.  Not 89 or 83… 90.  Being a Dad really changes people.  I might just be mythologizing Pat, but I feel like if we took this trip 10 years ago he might have tried to lap the GPS in a race.

So we arrived at the Wells Fargo Arena just in time for the game and as a Wells Fargo customer (#ComedyMogul) I knew that I wouldn’t have to pay ATM fees (#Blessed).  The game was great if you like terrible shooting and way too many t-shirt gun promotions.  A thing I noticed about the T-shirt gun – it turns people into the rich seats into proletariat animals.  Your seats cost $200 bucks – why are you screaming like a refuge who sees a UN Peacekeeper at a child’s medium piece of sh*t t-shirt?  Our seats were much cheaper but we were closer to the haves than the have-nots, though if you are at a 76er game you are sort of a have-not by definition.

During the game there was a very cool video montage of Allen Iverson and when the crowd saw him in attendance on the jumbo tron it was the loudest the arena got until the very end.

A shot of Allen Iverson on the jumbotron waving to me during the game

As the game got to the end, with the Jazz possessing a very comfortable lead, the game within the game took shape.  See Jim enjoys a bit of gambling now and then (now is every morning and then is every evening) and he placed a small wager that his 76ers would beat the 7.5 point spread.  Well the Jazz had around a 13 point lead with just over a minute left.  It looked like a lost cause for Jim until someone on the 76ers (I forget who) decided he would pad his stats with a barrage of useless 3 pointers.  With 30 seconds left it was Jazz ball up 9. At this point Jim is losing his bet, but because of the 24 second shot clock the 76ers are guaranteed one more possession if the Jazz miss and the 76ers secure the rebound. Well with about 7 seconds left the Jazz missed, got their rebound and missed again!  The 76er player trying to set the record for most 3 pointers made with no chance of winning took the ball, dribbled down court and raised up for a buzzer beater. SWISH!!!  And the crowd went bezerk (Jim, Pat and I were the only people left and you would have thought they just showed Iverson again on the jumbotron putting on a 76ers jersey to play the next night).

All in all a great trip and a great win for the Jazz.

Brooklyn

After a day off to almost go to the gym and declare that I would start eating healthy the next day I ventured to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Jazz-Nets game.  I was picked up in a nice Uber car with my friend John in it (#ComedyMogul) and it dropped us off at the arena with a few minutes to spare, which was good since we had to go through a metal detector when we got there.  I have been to about 10 NBA arenas and I think Barclays is the only one I have entered with metal detectors.  Is that the NBA’s way of not so subtly saying that Morgan Freeman should take over ownership of the team until it is a better place to play (“You Shoot bricks don’t ya D-Will. Well,do ya?? You know what that does – it kills our fan base son, so if you want to kill our fan base stop fuc*king around and do it expeditiously!”)?

Barclays looks like a nice NBA arena with a touch of inner city high school

When we finally got in the arena I settled in with a hot dog and pretzel (couldn’t eat a hot dog at Friday’s game because of Lent (#CatholicMogul)) and our seats were fantastic.  Sadly, once the Nets become even decent the prices will skyrocket, but it is nice to see a 6pm Game on a Sunday with a great view of the court, without having to bring crimes against humanity charges like at Madison Square Garden.  The game was competitive, I ate cheesecake (When in Rome with a Junior’s cheesecake concession stand) and the Jazz earned a quality victory, with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert solidifying my decision to make them the next two Jazz jersey purchases in the off season, continuing the black and white Jazz tradition.

After the game I asked the Jazz for free tickets next year because the Jazz are 2-0 in 2015 when I am in attendance (#Blessed).  No response so far.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Road Comedy Recap: The Scatman Crothers of Metro North

On Tuesday a storm hit the Connecticut/NY area.  It was a healthy mix of snow, rain and hail and caused me some apprehension because I had a gig in Stamford, CT at 8pm and it was up in the air whether it would be cancelled.  I also received multiple messages from my mother warning me about the weather, which if not for windows, eyesight and Internet access I would have never known.  Feeling sleepy and being discouraged by the weather I was tempted to cancel on the booker, but then I realized I had a lot of new material I wanted to work on so my love of comedy propelled me to Stamford.  That and the fact that at 330pm yesterday my daytime work assignment ended abruptly and the gig in Stamford was a paid gig.

I have not had road work since December so forgive me if I consider a 47 minute express train to Connecticut as a road gig, but for blogging purposes I do.  And for $14.50 I had to stand for the whole 47 minutes to Stamford (unlike many people I cannot fit into most Metro North seats, especially if there are other people sharing the seats).  So I am really less of a road comic and more of a road warrior.

When I got to Stamford I had about 40 minutes until my set and according to my phone’s GPS, which was getting soaked in the slushy rain that was pouring down, I was a mere 15 minutes from the bar.  And then my phone did something that it occasionally does that pisses me off.  Holding my phone completely upright it still refused to point the right way so I spent 10 minutes in the slushy dark trying to determine which unshoveled sidewalk I was supposed to walk on to get to the gig.  I finally was able to interpret my messed up GPS and trudged along to Castle Bar & Grill (a very cozy little spot in Stamford). When I walked in it looked like (get ready for the title of this blog) Scatman Crothers arriving in The Shining.  The only difference was that he was axed to death immediately after his long, wintry journey (35 year SPOILER) whereas I only wished someone would ax me as I dripped my way in to the bar like a giant, melting, grey parka snow cone.

After thawing out I went up and had a very good set for something that was 75% material written in the last month (#prolific #blessed #NeonBoudeaxuOfComedy #BlueChipsReference #ItMeansIamAGiantButYetLargelyUndiscoveredTalent #TooManyHashtags).  And it confirmed the thing I have felt for years – very little can restore my desire to perform comedy than doing well with newer material in a bar show.  They don’t do anything to advance the business side of my career but it always feels good to win over a small audience, as well as fellow comedians, and gives a little boost to keep going to see it work with bigger crowds.

Now it is time to get on social media and see a bunch of tools claiming to crush and/or be blessed so I can get rid of my renewed enjoyment of comedy ASAP.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Binge Watching Shows Is Destroying America

This weekend the third season of House of Cards went up on Netflix (subscribe to my podcast here (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) for tomorrow’s debate/discussion over the show) and like many Americans I went to extreme lengths to finish the series before work on Monday.  Positioned in my favorite chair (dubbed by former podcast guest Brian McGuinness as the “Throne of Hate”), wearing XXL Depends to limit bathroom breaks, armed with various snacks and with numbers for diners and my Seamless account logged in for quick orders of food I was prepared to marinate in Kevin Spacey’s atrocious accent, as well as my own filth.  But feasting on multiple rounds of diner food and burgers over two days could not match the emotional disgust I felt after watching 13 hours of one television show in two days.  By early afternoon on Sunday when I was done I felt like I needed to introduce myself to my neighbors like a convicted sex offender I felt so morally bankrupt.

Just like CNN reporting on Lindsey Lohan or Kim Kardashian, binge watching is another example of society and media giving us what we seemingly want, while having no regard for what is in our best interests.   And perhaps with no addiction to anything conventional like alcohol or drugs, services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have tapped into the most destructive of all addictions that plague many Americans: sitting on your ass doing nothing.  And just like the gun control debate, only more important, something needs to be done about the easy access to entire seasons of shows before we destroy our nation.

Now there are times when a Netflix or Prime binge can feel less dirty, even at times like a noble endeavor.  People catching up on Breaking Bad, which was exceptional and one of the driving forces in linking binge watching and popularizing shows, was like our generation’s Neil Armstrong on the Moon moment.  No longer did missing a show leave you out of the cool kids’ table.  Netflix allowed people to catch up on the show in anticipation of upcoming seasons and then, in many cases, provide the late comers with the confidence to act like they were the first to discover the show.  These Christopher Columbus-like frauds should have been the first warning sign that binge watching might have an ugly side.  But I, like many, ignored it.  I mean during two weeks off from work in February I managed to devour 9 seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and then began proselytizing about it like a born again Christian.   Granted each season was only, on average 3.5 hours of actual viewing, but I managed to catch up to the current season and had a strange and pathetic sense of accomplishment.  But this is just another step on the slippery road of binge watching hell.

The binge watching phenomenon to catch up to shows would have been bad enough, but once Netflix, and shortly thereafter Amazon discovered that people liked binge watching old shows/seasons a new depth of depravity was formed.  Because what is better than binge watching old shows?  Introducing new shows that could be binged of course.  The feeding of America’s television gluttony became a step too far.  It was like a restaurant saying – hey all of our customers enjoy our chocolate frosting cake, so now, for dessert we will offer them a 4 pound bowl of frosting for them to eat with their hands.  Sure that sounds amazing as I sip a soy protein smoothie this morning trying to purge the House of Cards weekend of trans fat from my system, but it is too much.  In addition to augmenting the grossness of an already sedentary and obese nation, it is not even a good way to watch television.  I love the show Alpha House on Amazon Prime.  Ten 30 minute episodes per season it goes by in a breeze (and is a far superior show to House of Cards for any political junkies reading this).  It is a good comedy and I barely remember any of it.  That is because each time the seasons went up (there have been two) I have been able to crush them in a single weekend (and still make it outside to breathe fresh air and have unhealthy food picked up by me instead of delivered).  But that then leaves 50-60 weeks in between viewings during which time the show’s details both humorous and plot related are squeezed from memory.  Most likely to make room for 6-12 other shows that have been binge watched.

Frank Underwood is helping destroy fictional and real Americans.

House of Cards suffers the same sort of fate as do many of these shows.  Instead of racing to catch up and join a discussion – at least an idea tangentially related to joining a community, it becomes a race to finish the season as if it were a contest and not entertainment (I am fully hiding behind “I needed to be done for my podcast” as my excuse).  The irony of racing through streaming television diminishing our actual ability to run a race is not lost on me.  So in an effort to make myself a healthier individual and more appreciative of entertainment I have already cancelled my Netflix account (at least for a couple of months).  So I have it through March 5th. Which is just enough time to finish the remaining 8 episodes of the Starz’ violent video game/gay porn-posing-as-a-television series Spartacus.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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NBA Fashion: It’s FANTASTIC(ly Bad)

The NBA locker room was the most flamboyant place I’d ever been. Guys flaunted their perfect bodies. They bragged about sexual exploits. They primped in front of the mirror, applying cologne and hair gel by the bucketful. They tried on each other’s $10,000 suits, admired each other’s rings and necklaces. It was an intense camaraderie that felt completely natural to them. Surveying the room, I couldn’t help chuckling to myself: And I’m the gay one. – John Amechi

The above quote is from a former NBA journeyman center and the first NBA player to come out publicly as gay a little under a decade ago (after his career was over).  This blog post will not be about gay athletes, but I did think it tangentially highlights the absurdity of what I am writing about today.  The NBA had a fashion show this weekend as part of their All Star Weekend festivities (I did not watch). And with the All Stars of the NBA in NYC, there were several ads in the newspaper featuring prominent NBA stars doing appearances at places like Bloomingdale’s (James Harden) and Ermenegildo Zegna (Carmelo Anthony) to name a couple.  Over the last decade the media has increased its love affair with NBA players showing an interest in fashion like it makes them modern day Bill Bradleys.  My question is, when did fashion stop being the hallmark of one-dimensional stupid people?  I mean at least Modern Family gets it right that the dumb daughter is more of an idiot savant when it comes to fashion, instead of it being one impressive arrow in her quiver of diverse talents.

Disclaimer – I am not “fashionable.”  I wear a lot of sweatshirts and flannel.  My sneakers are usually New Balance.  I have close to a dozen Jos. A Bank suits, which if you have seen their commercials mean I only actually paid for half a suit and got 11.5 free.  But something has shifted.  When did fashion become a real pursuit outside of dumb chicks and gay men?  I am obviously being flippant on purpose to make a point.  Of course I know what it looks like when someone is wearing a great suit (I own mirrors) and I am aware when a woman is wearing something great or awful on the Oscars red carpet.  But fashion in general, and more specifically with athletes, has begun to feel like a modern day version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Yeah, sure Russell. This is a great look.

NBA players are more concerned than ever with their “brand.”  I preferred the 1980s and 1990s when only Michael Jordan had a brand because he was the best and a villain to all the other fan bases in the NBA.  Everyone else was about their team, had a modest shoe deal and would not be afraid to punch and tackle a friend on another team.  Larry Bird was not interested in showing the world how diverse a man he was because he was too busy practicing his jumper and icing his back.  Charles Barkley was not holding his tongue and wearing rimless glasses and a fedora at press conferences.  John Stockton showed up wearing polo shirts and khakis as if he were modeling Calvin Klein’s new “Middle School Math Teacher Couture.”  Scottie Pippen rolled in a long black leather coat like he was Shaft, not Zoolander!  The point is these guys might have had other interests, but they had no need to pretend to be a hundred different things for a social media hungry world.  They were well paid basketball players and that is what they did.

Great Capri pants D-Wade

But now with shoe deals paying more than team salaries, players who are more immersed in social media approval (and probably a more insecure bunch) and team-to-team bro hugs being part of the ritual of the NBA, playing basketball is not enough for some of these cats.  So when you have super rich men who have focused so much of their lives perfecting, to quote Liam Neeson, a particular set of skills, to the exclusion of other interests, what is an easy way to make them look diversified?

“Fashion.”

Of course, fashion houses benefit – who wouldn’t want giant, athletic, human billboards walking around in their suits or clothing?  And maybe you can make some of these wealthy young men investors since they have more cash to spend than they know what to do with and it sure beats accruing gambling debts like Antoine Walker.  But along the way of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant rocking slick and classy suits we veered into full on Emperor’s New Clothes.  Along the way someone was supposed to tell Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook to cut the shit.  But no one did because they are the meal ticket and they have an odd mixture of supreme self confidence given their fame and skills, but also a need to be taken seriously beyond basketball.  I think that need to appear “more than just a basketball player” is a big need in this day and age of media diversity.  If 50 Cent can be a Vitamin Water mogul then why can’t NBA players be “fashion icons?”  Because not every NBA player can be a Shane Battier or even a Shaquille O’Neal.  So the quickest way to appear to have taste, class, diverse interests AND people kiss your ass is to become immersed in the fashion world.

No comment on Tyson Chandler needed

I will admit, I am no risk taker when it comes to clothing.  And occasionally I can admire someone taking a risk and pulling it off.  But I have always said a woman (and most men) wearing a fedora is an idiot no matter how hot she is.  And some of these “bold fashion choices” by NBA athletes are moronic, no matter how athletic and rich they are.  So come on NBA, maybe next All Star game let’s have a showcase of some extracurricular talents (musical, artistic, educational, etc.) of NBA players to showcase the real diversity of interests in the league instead of a parade of bullshit that really just looks stupid.  And in the spirit of Jon Amechi’s quote at the beginning of this blog post, perhaps have R. Kelly sing “Down  Low” during the next fashion show if you decide to keep it.

NBA Fashion Show... HATED IT (In Living Color reference for young readers)

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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