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Road Comedy Recap: The King of Martin Luther Comedy

This week’s comedy destination was Washington, D.C. for 6 shows at the DC Improv.  Because I had to put myself up in a hotel I did what I do with all comedy trips that won’t make me much profit… I asked my girlfriend to join me for a weekend getaway (this is the way that I rationalize my comedy career – rather than being a struggling feature, trying to make a profit I instantly become a guy who gets paid a few bucks to take his girlfriend on vacation). #CheapVacationMogul.  I arrived Thursday solo at the Westin City Center. It was a very nice hotel that I was able to swing a good deal on through Hotwire.com. I knew it was a nice hotel because nothing was included. Internet, breakfast and prostitutes were all additional fees. Normally when I go to a hotel it’s a Hampton Inn where they give you Internet, a waffle iron and a townie 7 to warm your bed, all for $62 a night. No such luck with the DC Westin.  My favorite thing about hotels like this are the breakfast options.  “You can have a thimble of coffee and one scrambled egg for $25.50… or our buffet which features, eggs, pancakes, french toast, pastries, cereal, an omelette station and a therapy dog for $26.00.”  Hmmmmmmmm, can you come back and let me consult with Jared Kushner on the pros and cons of both options?  So as I write this in a coffee shop (I had to check out of the Westin at noon, which leaves me as a nomad in DC for 5 hours before Mass and comedy tonight before hopping the 1010pm train back to NYC) here is a recap of the week in quips and photos:

Thidepiece Thursday

With my lady not arriving until Friday morning, Thursday became “Thidepiece Thursday.”  Only one fan showed up (thank you The Black Guy Who Tips for having the most engaged and loyal fans anywhere) and she was attractive, but unfortunately she did not get the memo about Thidepiece Thursday because she rolled in with her man. Maybe because he felt guilty about violating Thidepiece Thursday etiquette by showing up or because no one had bought any of my merchandise after the show, but he bought all three albums I had for sale as he and his lady were happy with the show.  So I guess I will let it slide.

But after the 1 pity purchase I texted my girlfriend at 12:01 am (First Lady Fridays) and said, “Bring a bag with room; you are going to have to bring some of these CDs back home.”  And not to be too down, my buddy Ross and a friend of his also came to the show so obviously I am being modest about my ability to draw audiences nationwide. We sat in Shake Shack in between shows and talked about deceased relatives, just to keep it light.  Here is a fun clip from the show:

Food Court Friday

The girlfriend arrived Friday and we promptly went looking for food.  Fridays during Lent mean no meat for Catholics so she got some free-trade, goat cheese-quinoa-avocado wrap that was smuggled out of Brooklyn and I got two slices of pizza.  I actually walked from my hotel to Union Station to get her and then we walked all over DC. By the count of my new invention FatBit (which keeps track of all your steps and the fact that you are still horrible out of shape) I had done at least 25,000 steps before getting back to the hotel to prep for the evenings shows.

Before the evening entertainment we tried to go to the African-American History Museum (see my instagram – @jlcomedy – for Trump’s opinions on it) and there was a huge line. I ended up talking Utah Jazz basketball with the guy standing behind me, which is actually the least African-American way to have an NBA discussion. We then got about 30 people from the front when they said no more tickets were available #Blessed. We then went to an art museum where some Japanese lady who looks like a Pixar character had a big exhibition. We also failed to get limited tickets for that so we looked at other stuff, including a sculpture of a bald, fat girthy-cocked dude (the pic omits the girthy phallus for any young readers of bitter, anonymous comedian blogs #TargetMarket):

I left this couple (unknown to them) in the pic for scale

My girlfriend was meeting her high school friend and her husband at the show (THAT’S 6 FANS ALREADY FROM THE FEATURE ACT – #DRAW) and I had a very strong set. The audience was not full so I set my camera up in the back to capture the action. Unfortunately some folks sat near my camera (for no discernible reason) and bumped my camera so I learned quickly after the set that I had a great 18 minutes of the bathroom door killing.

As I steamed after the first show, and sold nothing, I considered quitting that very moment.  However, I did something smarter. I decided to counter the JL Comedy Jinx with some self-hate.  I decided not to tape my second set.  And of course I crushed. So while I don’t have that set on tape, I did sell 12 CDs after the show (including 3 to ANOTHER member of The Black Guy Who Tips fanbase – 7 FANS MOTHERFU*KERS!). I then crawled into bed next to my girlfriend, who was in a wine-induced coma, at 1 am. #SpoonSaturdays

Sight-Seeing Saturday

On Saturday we woke up and made our way to her friend’s house in East Falls Church for some brunch (“When in White Women Rome…”), though before that I had the pleasure of running into NYC comedian Anthony DeVito on the street. We had a nice chat and I wished him luck on his Comedy Central taping (for blog readers, you may remember Anthony from my intimate Winery Show/Bed and Breakfast in early 2016). After brunch the gf and I went for a long walk around DC and went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the World War II Memorial, which I think is the best thing in all of DC (thank you for your (lobbying) service Tom Hanks.  Both are beautiful.  The weather was beautiful, but then it was time to bring the lady back to Union Station (you either get 3 days in a Hampton Inn, or 2 in a Westin on the Broke Comedian Getaway Vacation Package). We ate Pizzeria Uno, which obviously put me on a 24-esque timetable to get back to my Westin bathroom and I put her on the train back to NYC. Before getting to the shows that night here are some photos (more on my Instagram):

 

Two towers of DC culture and history

WWII memorial is an incredible sight – full view of Washington Monument on one side, Lincoln Memorial on the other and a beautiful design and tribute

GF captured a perfect angle of the MLK memorial

Let’s just hope the Marvel/Disney people get the rights to the MLK comic instead of DC Comics

That night I arrived at the DC Improv for three shows and was greeted by friend, former podcast guest and DMV comedy legend Rob Maher.  We chatted and then I went on stage and did the Lord’s work.  I then went into the DC Improv Lounge to follow another DMV legend and friend, Randolph Terrance and crushed even harder than in the main room (I feel like my new bit on the “Fluidity of Sexuality” would please most comedians and members of the Nixon White House). I then had my best post show sales of the week (I opted not to give CDs to the gf to bring back – either I would sell them (good) or be furious that I was dragging them back to NYC (justifying my rage at comedy) to the point that I had to run back to the Westin to get the remaining copies for the late show.  All joking aside, I do wish I had gotten a job in DC over NYC after law school because the DC comedy scene has always been my favorite.

I had a very good second set and sold a few copies more. Then I received news that Louis CK had started his SNL monologue with a “Why Did the Chicken Cross The Road” joke.  So as I kill some more time on this beautiful DC Sunday, enjoy my video from 2013 that proves that I am way ahead of Louis CK. #JLouisC



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Road Comedy Recap: Manchester by the C Word

Thursday through Sunday I was performing at the Hartford Funny Bone, which as the name would indicate, is located in… Manchester, Connecticut (hence the blog title – there are no specific C-Words, but I could not resist the pun for the title).  It was my first time back at the club since 2011.  I received good reviews my previous two times at the HFB, but then went to the Des Moines Funny Bone in mid-2011 and received poor fan survey results (I still sold a lot of CDs and never got heckled or booed that week, so I am not sure how bad the grades could have been).  So naturally the response was to not book me for five years at any of the 20+ Funny Bone/Improvs.  I still wonder if one of my favorite videos on YouTube had anything to do with it, when I read emails during my last Des Moines set from a cute young woman (most likely a year or two away from sleeping with one of her high school students, assuming she is a teacher) who wanted to come to my hotel:

But like a reboot no one asked for I made a triumphant return to Manchester-Hartford last week and it was fun, funny and volatile.

Thursday: Good Start

I arrived in Hartford at 2:20pm on Thursday and was picked up by the club manager.  He was running the sound booth when I was last there in 2011, so it turns out that there are ways to advance your career in the comedy business, as long as you make sure to avoid being a comedian.  He brought me to the Extended Stay, which is pretty solid for chain hotels.  Pluses – full kitchen in your room.  Negatives – no breakfast and the arch nemesis of my health a 5 minute walk away:

I need to start telling clubs not to book me so close to IHOP

When my Mom learned I was at an Extended Stay she asked me if it was okay and if there were families staying there.  I then realized that she, being unfamiliar with the Extended Stay brand, assumed Extended Stay was some sort of governmental housing term for displaced families or a halfway house. I had to inform her that my career was not so bad (yet) that it required FEMA assistance.

The show that night was good (no hecklers, sold a lot of CDs). And one fan/friend (“Fran” – Trademark pending) showed up as well (I AM A DRAW).

Friday: The JL Jinx Affects Connecticut’s Heroines

It is no secret that I am a gambling cooler to my own comedy career.  Therefor, if anything actually positive starts to happen in my career the universe requires a hefty sacrifice to balance it out.  Well, with CDs sales brisk and shows going well, it should come as no surprise that within 36 hours of my arrival in the state, the UConn women’s basketball team, 4 time defending champions and owners of a record 111 game winning streak saw their streak ended Friday night.  There was nothing else to really report from Friday, but with the debt to the comedy gods paid, Saturday was in a safe position to resume destroying my career.

Saturday: Faith, Fans and Fu*k-Ups

I started my day (at 315pm) with a 2 mile walk to the nearest Catholic Church for Saturday Vigil Mass at 4pm.  In a big plus for Connecticut everyone shook hands during Peace, instead of the Purell habit that I have observed over the last 5+ years of just waving and saying “Peace be with you,” even to the person standing next to you.  Having prayed for guidance on what to do with my life, God would give a very clear answer that night at the Funny Bone.

I had 6 fans showing up to the early show (well 3 separate fans dragging others to the show) – I AM A DRAW OUT OF THE FEATURE SPOT!  But the early show was not starting on time. In fact it was starting 15 minutes late. So while the emcee was on stage (doing his full time) I was asked to get off stage by 8:05, which ended up being an 11.5 minute feature set (instead of the usual 20-25 minutes).  THAT WILL TEACH PEOPLE TO BE FANS OF MINE!  I still sold CDs and expressed gratitude afterwards, by doing a 30 minute set/podcast rant in front of Bertucci’s in the shopping mall for superfan Keith and his brother (I think it was his brother) and friend after so they got headliner minutes out of me at least.

The late show started and a short Latino man in his 40s kept yelling that it was his birthday (apparently as part of Trump’s MAGA, men are trying to snatch the comedy club heckling nightmare crown from drunk white women). At one point he took the mic from the emcee (who was a nice kid 20 years old, but legitimately looked like a very tall 14 year old).  During my set Stand and Deliver and his surrounding tables never shut up (as I write this I wish I had gone into a Jaime Escalante impression), but I handled it pretty well and even got to say many humorous, somewhat racist things to him and his table using my Trump impression.  Look for my next video “Comedian CRUSHES Heckler as Trump, Obama & Bernie Sanders!!!!” (just kidding – I don’t want to post it)

Sunday: The Trump Pen and Peter Pan

Sunday was the final show of the week and after watching the Utah Jazz lose a close one on national TV I headed to the club.  The crowd was big and the show went great. However, the show started 30 minutes late and the headliner did well over an hour, so instead of being able to sell merch I had to run to catch my 10pm Peter Pan bus (named Peter Pan because like the kids in Pan, if you ride their buses you are likely not to grow older).  But after my set the headliner, Michael Colyar was kind enough to call me back up to the stage, called me a genius and gave me a talking Trump pen (follow my Instagram (@jlcomedy) to see my video of the pen). One of the nicest, if not the nicest gestures any headliner has ever done for me. But with no time to spare I got a ride to the bus station in downtown Hartford.

The bus got to NYC 40 minutes early (one of the great paradoxes of bus travel in America – it is unquestionably the worst of transportation choices and yet, always on time and cheap, which trains and planes cannot claim), but my favorite part of the trip was the intro safety video on the bus from the Peter Pan CEO and family (like a Trump family but with a net worth of $900K).  As I sat with a bunch of people that looked like extras from The Wire and a Trump campaign video about illegal immigrants, it was pretty funny to sit there watching the Peter Pan CEO, White Whiterson, and his children wish us well on our journey. I could actually see them cross the street on the video after delivering their message.

All in all, a productive and fun week of comedy.  Even more significantly, with 7 fans and kind gestures from the headliner, there may have been a downside to the week – I feel motivated to continue doing stand up.  And with that, enjoy two new stand up bit/clips from the weekend. Enjoy!

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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Road Comedy Recap: A Special Episode of This is Us – Albany Comedy Edition

Recently it has felt like stand up comedy is less a passion or profession I am pursuing and more an angry Albanian engaged in a blood feud with me. Beyond my usual gripes about the comedy industry (see 90% of my podcast episodes for more specifics) my last few weeks have felt like an installment of the Final Destination film franchise, where Death is determined to stop me from performing comedy.  Last week, after being booked for the Toledo Funny Bone since January I decided to email the club to confirm my spot (it would be the third time performing there, but knowing that the Comedy Grim Reaper is determined to push me back into the full time practice of law I figured that I should confirm just in case).  The response I got back was “Yes, the hotel is the same, but we don’t have you until the end of the month.” Now this was 27 hours before I was scheduled to leave for Toledo, so I had my round trip train ticket and more importantly had not picked up any day time work for the week (which pays more than a week of featuring, so it was a double whammy). And add on to the fact that I am booked elsewhere when Toledo said they have me.  I will spare you the transcript of my reaction within my apartment to myself after a series of cordial, neutered emails, but the look on my dog’s face said “Please just send me back to my abusive trailer park in Kentucky. This “comedian” (even my dog puts air paw quotes around my career) is too angry.”  With that preamble, I will now take you to this past weekend’s comedy journey in Albany, NY.

The Grim Reaper Strikes Amtrak

In a sequence worthy of its own episode on This Is Us my Friday morning unraveled like the Comedy Grim Reaper was gunning for an Emmy.  I arrived at NY Penn Station at 10:50 am for my 11:20am train.  Well, little did I know that a train derailment in New Jersey had caused havoc (my guess is that it was either the Comedy Grim Reaper or Mr. Glass from Unbreakable testing to see if my comedy will is unbreakable). I will now deliver the news/plot in bullet points:

  • Wait for news until 1pm
  • Told at 1pm to take Metro North from Grand Central Station to Yonkers where an Amtrak train was waiting to go to Albany and points north
  • Take subway to Grand Central and catch the 1:51pm train to Yonkers
  • Arrive at Yonkers at 2:20pm – told train must wait.
  • Go to vending machine at Yonkers Station because the Albany-bound trains do not have snack cars (#FindOurSnackCars). Machine eats one of my dollars (cue the This is Us acoustic singer songwriter depressing song)
  • Train finally cleared to leave at 3:30pm
  • Arrive in Albany at 5:35pm
  • Get in cab with 4 other people and forced to ride all over Albany for an hour before being dropped off at the Hampton Inn
  • (cue even more This Is Us-ish music – get a text from my girlfriend that her brother… wait for it… was on the train that was part of the derailment that set this all in motion – he is OK).
  • I have sex with Mandy Moore at the hotel.

So with 20 minutes before the start of the first show Thursday I texted my girlfriend saying that I needed to quit comedy.  Most of what happens in comedy makes me angry and that anger can sometimes provide fuel and motivation. But the trip to Albany, coming off of a week of a cancelled gig felt more helpless and pathetic (which, make no mistake about it, it is). End credits.  “Next week on This is Us…”

Great Crowds Save The Day

My mood was almost immediately uplifted once I got to the club on Friday night.  Maybe it was Pavlovian – going near a stage with Guns N Roses playing in the background is as good a set of factors to trigger involuntary happiness in me, but it would be unfair to characterize it that way.  The crowds were really good and generous the entire weekend.  The headliner was John Henton, who most notably played the handyman on Living Single, a show that aired on Fox from 1993-1998, also known as a great time for a young man to discover that Tootie from The Facts of Life was all grown up (the Michael Jordan of “Damn, she’s grown!” to Ariel Winter’s Crag Ehlo).  They were great laughers and even more importantly great buyers – sold out of all my CDs over the weekend.

The Rest of My Albany Trip

I saw the movie Life (really good).

I am working on new bits towards a 2018 album. Here is a clip of that bit making progress:

And if you do not follow me on social media here is a pic of me seeing one of Albany’s prized tourist attractions “Giant, Dirty Pile of Snow”

Hartford, CT starting Thursday.  Tell them I am coming.  And Hell’s coming with me… (this is from Tombstone, in case you think I am being exceedingly morbid).



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Comedian As Trump Filling Out March Madness Brackets Is Gold

News outlets were reporting earlier this month that President Donald Trump would not be filling out a March Madness bracket for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, as had become a sort of unofficial tradition with President Barack Obama, a hoops aficionado.  Well, those reports might as well be classified as “fake news” because Trump, thanks to comedian J-L Cauvin, has made a video predicting his Final Four, champion and, as a special bonus, his own “One Shining Moment.”  Trump has Duke, Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky as his Final Four, but trust me, you will want to watch this anyway:

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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Before CNN Made The History of Comedy, Ken Burns Made COMEDY

Tonight, the highly anticipated and publicized series The History of Comedy makes its debut on CNN.  I will be watching, if for no other reason that I will need many laughs after watching John Wick 2.  But what has confused me is the lack of attention that legendary documentarian Ken Burns received for his 2 part series from 2015-2016 COMEDY.  Is it because he focused on the contributions of mostly African-American comedians, while the CNN series promises a more “mainstream” treatment.   For those that have missed it below are the YouTube links to the 2 parts of Ken Burns COMEDY. It is a valuable piece of entertainment history that should not be forgotten amidst the hoopla surrounding CNN’s series.

Ken Burns Comedy: Episode 1

(https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=YKUdhhcVXz4)

Ken Burns Comedy: Episode 2

(https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=8hbv9fUnbEY)

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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Ellis from Die Hard Is Going to Be President. Seriously.

As I have been forced to come to grips with the fact that Donald Trump is about to become the 45th President of the United States (seriously, forget how awful a person he is – he is also devoid of any intellectual curiosity and offensively simple minded), I have noticed something troublesome, even by the new Trump-related definition of troublesome.   Absorbing daily reminders of his intellectual, social and moral failings, I have discovered that the President-Elect bears more than a passing character resemblance to one of the most famous small time roles in any movie from my lifetime: Ellis from Die Hard.

For a recap (or an introduction to the cinema ignorant), Ellis is a co-worker of John McClain’s wife and basically the prototypical finance douche bro of the 1980s.  When he enters the film he is finishing off a line of coke and shortly thereafter insisting that McClain’s wife show off the Rolex that he and/or the company gave her as a bonus.  The way he says Rolex and looks at our protagonist is basically saying “I banged your wife or am going to soon because I can get her a Rolex.”  Once I made the Trump-Ellis connection I felt like I needed to investigate more about Ellis, one of the most despicable characters of the 1980s.  So here is what I found, through the words of Ellis:

“Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I think I can handle this Eurotrash.”

Ellis says this when he decides to negotiate with Hans Gruber (is it a coincidence that Alan Rickman dies in the film he shares with Ellis and then dies the year Trump, Ellis’moral doppelganger, wins the White House?).  A confident negotiator? Check.  Disrespect for Europe? Check.

“It’s a Rolex.”

The line, mentioned above, is basically Ellis’version of “She was married, but I went after her like a bitch” to Billy Bush.  Except, at least Ellis confronts McClain semi face to face, even if it is only through scummy eyebrow raises.

“Well, I’ve watched 60 Minutes, and I’m saying to myself, they’re motivated, they’re happening, I.E. they want something. Maybe it’s because you’re pissed off or maybe it’s the camel jockeys, the hebes; northern Ireland; it’s none of my business.”

This line is incredibly Trump.  Instead of 60 Minutes Trump claimed “Watching the Morning Shows” was his foreign policy expertise.  He said to a room full of Jewish people “You all love to negotiate” and I think “Camel Jockeys” cannot be too far from what Trump has said of the people of the Middle East in his efforts to ban all Muslims from the United States.

“Hey, business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen what’s the difference? Let’s put it in my terms: you’re in a hostile takeover, you snatch us up for some green mail, but you’re not expecting some poison pill to be running around the building, am I right? Hans, *bubby*, I’m your white knight.”

This line is the sum of Trump’s appeal.  The first part is the claim that his experience in business basically makes him fit for anything that ever requires negotiating.  The second part about being a white knight – this was Trump’s literal message to the Alt-Reich (term I heard from comedian Jena Friedman at a show)

Had Ellis survived he might have been President in a future Die Hard film.

 “I told ’em we were old friends and you were my guest at the party.” 

This is the lie Ellis tells Hans Gruber to get him to take him seriously. The truth is he had never met McClain until that night.  Sort of a reverse of Trump claiming to not know Putin, when he really did.  The only difference is Ellis’ lie gets him killed. Trump’s lies will likely lead to a lot more deaths during his presidency.

So basically Ellis and Trump are the same – scumbags obsessed with material goods and themselves and willing to lie to make themselves seem better.  There are only two differences.  Ellis was high on coke and at least trying to free his co-workers from a terrorist.  Trump is sober and trying to enrich his portfolio and ego at the expense of the American people.  Who knew in 1988 that Ellis was the hero we would need in 2016. #RIPEllis

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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Donald Trump: America’s Participation Trophy

Today the electors vote, presumably, but disappointingly for Donald Trump.  And just over a month Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States.  And one of the running things I have heard and read from conservative pundits and Long Island comedians is that one of the driving forces behind Trump’s election (ahead of bigotry and stupidity, of course) is the safe spaces of liberals.  The idea that liberals are too easily offended and politically correct and require too much sensitivity. This is considered the progression from a participation trophy culture – if we give every 8 year old a trophy for their 5th place soccer team, then eventually those children will require safe spaces on their college campuses and rescind invitations from speakers with whom they don’t agree.  The election of Trump (in addition to being a potential disaster for women, people of color and immigrants) was really a comeuppance for those faggy liberals and their weakening of what makes America strong.  And yet, the group that abhors participation trophies (or at least wants to blame said trophies, metaphorical and literal, for America’s problems) has just elected the biggest participation trophy in American history.

Adam Carolla, the podcaster/entertainer, often says we need to work “big to small” when lambasting priorities of the left. Now I am a big fan of Carolla as a comedian and a person, but I disagree with a lot of his politics, especially because he, like many conservatives, often apply lessons and principles against their enemies with rigid discipline, but not to their own side.  Carolla’s show has featured some alt-righters like Milo Yogurtanapopolis (hey if I am too respectful to his foreign sounding name wouldn’t that make me a pussy liberal?), and one of their things about speech (as well as race, etc.) is that the left is playing games with identity and speech, while the conservatives are simply about solutions and not catering to useless things like feelings and identity.  As if conservatives treat life like math, while liberals treat it like poetry. Shitty poetry.  In fact Carolla has called the Democrats the party of feelings (to be fair he sort of characterizes most people today as to concerned with the self and their feelings, not just liberals all the time). It plays well and makes sense with the narrative that liberals are too sensitive and are into participation trophies.  And yet, I feel like people like Carolla have missed the forest for the trees.  No president, in my lifetime at least, has played and prayed upon a victim mentality and identity politics more than President-Elect Donald Trump.

“The economy is a disaster” – unemployment cut from almost 10% to under 5%

“Our military is a disaster” – the strongest in the world by a wide margin

“I will bring back coal” – not happening

These are a few examples of Donald Trump’s comments to appeal to men and women who, admittedly, may have fallen behind in an increasingly global, technologically advanced, eco-conscious world  and I do sympathize.  But wouldn’t the conservative approach be “don’t blame someone – get new training, more education, etc.” (even if unrealistic)?  After all, Hillary Clinton said she wanted to replace coal jobs with new training and jobs in those communities for a clean energy 21st Century.  Wouldn’t that be the conservative approach?  Not handouts and identity politics, but education and employment?  But instead, leaving aside the repudiation of President Obama’s legacy and skin color for now, the Trump voters opted for someone who demonized immigrants and promised jobs that cannot come back. Hillary Clinton promised help with pulling up their bootstraps, Trump blamed the boot maker and promised everyone a new pair of their favorite boots that the manufacturer stopped making.

So just as conservatives have hijacked patriotism, faith and other ideals that plenty on the left share as well, at least let them take ownership of being the participation trophy party as well. Trump voters have elected a man who has promised impossibilities and appointed a cabinet that will not only not “win” for their interests, but actually make you even bigger losers in the end.  So while libtard parents are giving their 8 year olds participation trophies for soccer, Trump voters have elected a participation trophy as president. And like Adam Carolla says, shouldn’t we be worrying big to small instead of the other way around?

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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Road Comedy Recap: 36 Hours in Baltimore

This weekend I was featuring at Magooby’s Joke House in Timonium, Maryland (sorry for the Trump-esque title of the blog – it was really 36 hours in a suburb of Baltimore, but that is not as good a title).  It was a weekend of highs and lows (as Michelle Obama said of my comedy career “When J-L thinks his career will go high, it will definitely go low”), sickness, multiple perfect sets, one dumb or tired crowd (yes YOU LATE SHOW FRIDAY), a cozy Amtrak ride and a too cozy Greyhound ride.  In other words, the trip was all that you have come to expect from road comedy from me, but in a more condensed amount of time.  So here ya go:

Friday: Fu*k You Sony!!!!!!!

I arrived in Baltimore on Friday around 2:15pm off of the Amtrak and then hopped on the “light rail” (basically two trolley cars where no one has ever taken my ticket in 3 years – but at $1.70 I can afford it, even if it is just the honor code). I then made the 15 minute walk from the station to my Red Roof Inn Plus (plus is for the fact that they have some rooms with extra amenities… I was not in the plus section). It is the same place I stayed in Fall of 2015 so I knew they got 5 stars on the J-L Road Comedy Guide for Hotels. To illustrate:

5 stars – no thefts or assaults on me or any other guests while I am there

4 stars – no thefts or assaults on me

3 stars – no visible stains of body fluids on sheets or chairs in my room, but possible thefts or assaults on others

2 stars – La Quinta Inn in New Haven, CT

1 star – sewage

One mistake I made during this trip was not bringing my parka. I had no idea how cold it would actually be in Timonium.  It was The Revenant-cold.  And I had a 1.2 mile walk to the club each night and a .8 mile to Panera Bread. Within ten minutes of my first walk I knew I would get sick (nose still running as of the typing of this sentence).  So at 6:30pm I made my way to the club.  But these were no ordinary shows.  I was also planning on using one of my 4 sets as a submission for Comedy Central’s new season of The Half Hour.  I have dozens of sets this year that would be admirable submissions, but knowing that every 5 minutes of material having, roast battling sycophant is submitting 30 minutes I at least wanted to make sure mine did not have any extraneous material that may happen… GULP… during a working comedian’s set!!!!

So as I have done hundreds of times, I set up my camera in the back of the room and proceed to crush (I am just referring to set up the camera when I say hundreds of times – I have crushed 1000s of times!).  Like a perfect set.  After the set I walked up to my camera and saw that it had turned off.  Well, this model of the Sony Handycam series, newer than the previous ones I had, keeps a backup of everything that you cannot delete. So my memory was full and shut off the camera halfway through the set.  After cursing and pacing for 15 minutes, the club owner lent me an SD card to use for additional memory.  However, I already knew the 2nd set would not go as well, even though it was going to be a bigger crowd.  I knew, because it was me.  And I was right.  I had a strong set on the late show.  There was just one problem – very few people in the crowd seemed to agree.  I actually did a new bit at the end of my set called “J-L blames crowd for ruining his Comedy Central tape and his life.”  That actually got them laughing.

I got a ride home from local legend/comedian Rob Maher who was nice enough to come watch and hang out at the 2nd show. I then spent 90 minutes researching how to clear the memory on my Handycam.  I was able to find and implement the solution.  And that is how the future of Comedy Central changed forever…

Saturday: Homeless in Panera Bread and Another Perfect Set

On Saturday I had to check out of my hotel. Normally I would stay Saturday night and go home Saturday morning, but when I broke down how much I was earning (not a lot) and did the math of what 2 nights at the hotel and two train tickets would be (75% of not a lot) I opted to get a Greyhound early Sunday morning (12:40am) thus saving me most of the cost of a train trip and one night at a hotel.  #ComedyMogul  So with an 11 am check out I had to kill 8.5 hours without a home before Saturday shows.  So I went to Panera Bread and wrote two sketches while eating a 1030 breakfast and a 2 pm lunch.  And just a travel tip – no one does hot chocolate better than Panera.  Hot, but immediately drinkable and tastes like someone melted chocolate into a cup.  Only thing is overkill – they recently added chocolate chip marshmallows to the hot chocolate which, although tasty, turn a great beverage into a calorie heavy sugar rush.  I then made my way to Starbucks across the parking lot outside and read for another two hours before going to McDonald across the highway for dinner.  #ComedyMogul

My Panera Bread fan meet n greet event was a huge success

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Saturday crowds at Magoobys.  I was already sick and dreading the pending Greyhound trip. I had only sold 4 cds to the first two audiences on Friday. The pressure was now on after going 0-2 on Comedy Central tapings. And I had no idea if my camera would fu*k up again.  Well what transpired was the comedy equivalent of Michael Jordan’s flu game.  The first crowd was great. Every joke hit and the camera taped!  Headliner said to me “That was the set; make sure that camera taped it.”  So when people ask when Comedy Central changed for the better* you can point to that perfect set that then elevated their series, etc.

*Set Deposited into Recycle Bin on desktop January 1, 2017

The second set also went great as a nice bonus and I ended up selling 21 CDs between the two shows.  I then took Uber to the Greyhound station for the final part of this epic 36 hour trilogy.

I love that the bathrooms have Kathy Griffin and Dane Cook at Magoobys. I did not verify, but I would like it to mean "for female shit" and "for male shit"

Sunday: Greyhound Abdi & Canola

Exclusive shot of me on Greyound (c) Annie Leibovitz

I got on my Greyhound bus at 12:40am. Before me on line was a man, probably in his late 40s who bore a slight resemblance to Barrkhad Abdi of Captain Phillips fame.  The man had a backpack, a suitcase and a large plastic bag.  He had a ticket that indicated he was at the end or in the middle of an epic trip (having  taken a couple of long Greyhound trips earlier in my career his trip had at least 3 bus changes.  But beyond all these details it seemed like the man might have been slightly developmentally disabled.  As I got on the bus, having dreaded this trip all day, I thought about this man – Where was he going? Where was he coming from? Was he safe? Did he have friends or relatives helping him?  It was making me sad as I settled into my seat thinking about how meaningless comedy feels in a world where a man like that might be struggling just to maintain his existence.  And then my bus driver  yelled into the bus audio system:

“Good evening everybody!”

silence. (half the bus sleeping)

“I said GOOD EVENING EVERYBODY!!!”

buh buh hello bitch damn

“My name is Canola and I am your driver tonight.”

Me: laughing.

So I guess laughter can have a useful place when you are feeling down.  Thanks Canola. And good luck Greyhound Abdi. I hope you are OK.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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December Surprise: Hidden Videos of Trump Speech Discovered

As the country prepares itself for President-Elect Trump to become President Trump, the tweets, the international incidents and the conflicts of interest continue to pile up.  But recent videos handed over to JLC News may change how even some of Trump’s most die hard supporters feel about him.  In a speech given in early November Mr. Trump spoke at length on various issues that may shock some of his fans and his detractors equally.  He spoke on issues affecting the black community, the heroin epidemic, women’s health and shocking plans to push for a Constitutional Amendment on President term limits.  Of course the mainstream media did not cover these but here are some clips JLC News received:

Trump on the Heroin Epidemic

Trump Bashes President Obama and the State of the NBA

Trump Proposes Constitutional Amendments

Trump Talks Women’s Health Issues



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The No-Name Comedian Manifesto for 2017

As 2016 rapidly approaches its conclusion I am reflecting on a year that has been by far my most successful financially as a comedian and also in some ways the most frustrating.  I have made the most money of any year, in part thanks to royalty payments for my albums, in part thanks to President-Elect Donald Trump and in part thanks to 13 years of diligence in trying to get booked as a feature at as many comedy clubs as I am able.  I had an album reach #1 on iTunes and have made repeated performances on the top podcasts in the country.  All done on my own with no representation.  However beneath the veneer of budding success lie harsh truths.  I have been unable to build an infrastructure for my career.  Unlike a regular job, having a good year does not guarantee anything of the sort next year.  There are no linear promotions in stand up comedy, at least not for the unrepresented among us.  Having a good year in 2016 simply means I will have to redouble efforts in 2017 just to maintain the level I achieved this year and hope for recognition, notice and/or opportunity in 2017 that may allow me to surpass where I am currently.  But the difficulty is that even if you double the money I made in comedy this year I would still need another source of income to continue living the pleasant, but month-to-month existence I have had for the last several years.  So what that amounts to is that as I approach my 14th year in comedy (and look up the lyrics to Guns N Roses’14 years for a solid description) in what at times feels more like compulsion than enjoyment, I will have to work at a pace that didn’t fatigue me when I was working as a full time attorney and open mic comedian 10 years ago, but now exhausts me. And unlike the comedian I was in 2006 a lot has changed since then.  In 2006 I had to worry about stage time, writing and getting clips to bookers. Today there are a dozen social media platforms, YouTube videos and podcasts all of which help you expand a fan base, but all of which take time and energy (in some cases money) and are not stand up comedy.  And without a larger platform, media presence, or gatekeeper, you are only likely to expand linearly (my podcast has grown from 200 to 1000 listeners a week since I started it over 4 years ago, which is nice and from a larger comedy business perspective, completely irrelevant) and in this business exponential growth is needed and is still almost always controlled by powerful players in the business.  However, just like state lotteries, the powerful in and around comedy have no qualm feeding the myth that the average guy with some pluck and a $1 can be the next success.  So as we approach the conclusion of my most successful year as a comedian I offer some words of how comedians can help themselves and how the business can help comedians.  Do I expect any of these to take hold? No. But I need this Starbucks coffee to cool off so might as well write.

Comedians Need a Guild

Having attended law school and practiced as an attorney I wish I were more well versed in labor law, but I am not.  But I do know that stand up comedy needs a guild.  Now I would not expect it to wield as much power or prestige as the Screen Actors Guild, nor provide certain things like health insurance because the economies of comedy clubs are not what they are for film studios, but certain protections and rights need to be enshrined for comedians at some point.  For example – the fact that feature acts continue to be the most squeezed of the three comedian levels (emcees – often locals, entry level, middle acts – who have to do the travelling of headliners and perform more time than emcees for a fraction of the money headliners get).  The pay per show of feature comedians has not gone up in 30 years.  Half the clubs now do not provide lodging for feature acts. That means a feature act, who presumably is the next decade’s headliner (after he or she waits for the Vine stars, Instagram stars and MTV2 stars to leapfrog him or her) must find a way to travel and lodge themselves and hope that frugality and merchandise sales can help them make a little money.  And of course the real reason to do it for net gain of maybe a few hundred dollars is to make contacts, hone your act and possible make some fans.  But this is no longer really a viable path for people to earn a living and become great comedians. Therefore a Guild should guarantee lodging and/or increased pay for features. Now clubs can be organized by levels (colloquially we call them A or B (or C) rooms – based on crowds, location, prestige, etc. and those levels can be required to pay features a certain level. For example if no lodging is provided then an A room would have to pay a feature $150 per show instead of the standard $100 per show.  These are just figures meant to illustrate my point as several clubs already do pay $100 per show plus room, but obviously there is something wrong with a job that is paying the same or less than the same job in 1986 (in real dollars, not adjusted for inflation).  Like America, the Middle Class of comedy has been the one most decimated by cutbacks at clubs. In fact, I would argue that they are the only ones paying.

Another issue I would want a comedy guild to address is an outright ban on clubs managing talent. SAG for many years (I could not find out if the rule was lifted recently) banned talent agencies from producing content because of the obvious conflict of interest.  I manage you; I make a movie; I cast you ahead of other talent and then I collect 10% of the salary I pay you for being in the movie.  However, there are clubs that manage talent, allow that talent to monopolize spots at their club or clubs and then force feed their talent on showcases for networks under the guise of presenting a cream of the crop of talent for networks to select from.  In this age of everyone telling comedians that gatekeepers don’t matter – they still matter a lot.  We can keep producing free content while being sold a false dream or we can wake up and realize that for every Bo Burnham there are 10,000 people producing free content, some of it good, with no shot of breaking through without an established entity or gate keeper paving the way.

These are just two ideas I have regarding a comedy guild, and I realize they, along with other ideas, would require a collective action that the comedy community may not be capable of.  I have said this with some scorn and also some self-blame, but it is hard to organize a labor force when the majority already act and think of themselves as scabs.  New comics are afraid of ruffling feathers, comics with some heat and opportunity are afraid of squandering what feels like a shot at the dream and big time comics are too removed from their struggling days to relate or care about the diminished outlook for comedians today.  Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but with the Internet demanding more of comedians than ever, having a business that is increasingly stacked against the middle class of comedy cannot and should not be tolerated by comedians at any level.

 Facebook is not Your Friend

I have a buddy who is a comedian, but also owns and operates a hugely successful non-comedy Internet company.  He has over 2 million fans on his business Facebook page. And over the last couple of years, as Facebook has approached 2 billion users worldwide it has become more and more difficult for him to reach his fans with posts because of the algorithms Facebook has instituted.  Facebook has become immensely profitable and their answer to that has been to squeeze the people, business and creators that have helped make it successful.  Google pays successful video makers and Twitter does not hide posts – there is still an egalitarian spirit in their business model, unlike Facebook, which basically holds its creators hostage.  Facebook, as many of you know, discourages YouTube videos from being seen. As an example, 3 years ago I had a YouTube video link go viral. It had 81 shares and 200,000 views in 3 days.  Last year I had a video get 80 shares and it had 5,000 views.  There are other factors to explain some disparity, but none to explain that large a disparity other than Facebook’s algorithm.  Now Facebook wants its users to directly upload through Facebook and your reward is the ego boost of more views, but nothing else. No compensation, no credits for ads. Nothing.

Facebook is a media giant. Make no mistake about it.  They deserve to be treated like CBS, ABC and NBC and I hope the criticism from fake news stories being spread finally gets them to wield the power they cultivated with more responsibility.  And as their ads continue to cost more and more money it will reach a point where your feed will be flooded by only the companies and entities that can afford to advertise on radio and television.  So like many things in this country, they are driving their success on the backs of content creators, but making it unaffordable for those creators to get exposure (get exposure and make no money or upload a YouTube clip and get no views).  Once again, at least Google pays people (there are plenty of issues with Google as well, but trying to keep this under 3000 words).  My solution, as unrealistic as it is, would be for comedians to not upload any content directly to Facebook.  Once again, this would have to be some sort of hashtaggy moment to draw attention, but we are now addicted to likes and clicks like a digital heroin, so I know it is unlikely.  Facebook is just another big, bad company, except they actually don’t make anything. They steal ideas from other apps and they use free content from its users.  And comedians should consider themselves one of the main foods on the plate of the social media parasite.

Do Not Use a Label to Produce Your Album(s)

I have self produced 5 albums and self producing has had real financial benefits. This year I will make a little over $15,000 in royalties because I am both the artist AND owner of my material.  I have produced good content, but I have never been able to get a label to produce any of my albums.  Now this comes with a caveat before I continue. If you are a major artist you can negotiate a deal that works for you. Like most things in comedy (and America) if you come into a deal with power you will leave with power and lots of money.  Or if you are an up and coming artist and Comedy Central wants to work with you and produce your album that relationship has immense value for your career because of their reach and their numerous platforms.  However, if you don’t fit into these categories I would advise you to take to heart what you half-heatedly tell yourself when trying to justify continuing a rocky career path: do it yourself.

This is one of the few areas where there is an ability to do it yourself (this assumes you are at a level of skill and talent where your material is at a point where it is worth putting down in an album and can find, if not an audience, at least respect, if people hear it).  I get the breakdown of my royalties each month and it is roughly 47% to the artist and 53% to the  rights owner.  Now I probably make a decent amount relative to most no name comedians, but let’s say you are a comedian with one kick ass album. Maybe your label even negotiated a good deal for you, but bottom line is they will make half of your money in perpetuity of your album(s). Why? Because they put up the up front costs for you and got you a nice venue – it may not be a deal with the Devil, but I assure you it is not angelic either.  Once again the lure of a top notch production and immediate gratification lures comedians to wager their long term benefits.  These labels aggregate albums from big time people and dozens if not hundreds of no-namers like myself.  So while you make $500 a month they may make $550 a month x 100 (or more) comedians. Individually, like class action lawsuits, you have no reason to really challenge, but as a collective comedians could change this industry.

If you look at the iTunes comedy charts you will usually see albums from 5 labels dominating and they will also occupy the “New and Noteworthy” spots with high profile placement.  My album Israeli Tortoise hit #1 on the comedy charts in August, but it had no backing, no label and never got placement as new and noteworthy, even though one might think reaching #1 in its first week might make it both new and noteworthy.  The point is that the only way to change the business is to practice what we preach, or at least pretend to believe.  In an era where music labels, television studios and movie studios face increasing competition, comedians continue to be a reliable source of entertainment slave labor where large companies feed the narrative that “gatekeepers are not necessary” to encourage free content, while simultaneously benefiting from their monopoly on real and concrete opportunity as… gatekeepers.

Of course I must admit that I do not know how each of the major labels operate or the nature of the deals they sign with comedians. I can only extrapolate what I know from my payment breakdown, how I see working no name comics treated by the business and the general lessons of history when powerful interests and business operate without restriction or restraint.

And In Conclusion…

America recently elected Donald Trump president.  This was the insane result of many things and one of them was working class people willing to buy a lie wrapped in a fairy tale because they were desperate to believe something that catered to their anger and diminished clout.  In comedy there is no need for a Trump because it is already run as if Trump is in charge. Contradictory policies, false promises and the middle men and no-namers buy in against their own interests.  As my friend Mike Payne said perfectly (and hopefully now famously?) “Comedians talk about the world like Karl Marx and then become Paul Ryan when speaking about comedy.”  I am not here to say that I am going to burn myself in front of a comedy club like a monk during Vietnam, either literally or metaphorically (though some might say this blog is doing just that), but there is no better industry more emblematic of income inequality and a rigged system than the broken backs of the middle class of comedy.  The question is – will comedians ever band together and do anything about it because it is only getting worse.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.



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