On an explosive, leaked video recorded just hours before Election Day Donald Trump can be seen and heard refusing to concede election results if he loses, calling on his supporters to protect their vote with the 2nd Amendment in a speech rehearsal obtained by JLC News. Trump claims that the Democratic Party is full of “riggers” that are good at basketball, clearly a play on words implying a racial slur as well as claiming rapists in Texas and Florida have voted for Clinton. And in blunt language, even for Trump, the GOP nominee refers to Hillary Clinton as a bitch. This bodes very poorly for tranquility on Election Night. For the full video see below:
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This weekend (well Thursday-Monday morning) was spent in Syracuse, NY – the city that the Sun forgot. I was featuring at the Syracuse Funny Bone, located in the Destiny Mall – a mall so large that they have an entire store dedicated to Crocs, or as I call it, a recruiting tool for ISIS. The comedy week really began last Wednesday night when I played Batman in the Roast of Batman at Broadway Comedy Club. I had a good performance and tried to emulate the Christian Bale Batman voice (video forthcoming), but in terms of attire I had to wear a tight Batman shirt and a hot rubber mask (and then went right to a Batman themed Eyes Wide Shut orgy) because the XXL Batman costume basically fit like Freddie Mercury in the pants and like Chris Farley wearing David Spade’s jacket in Tommy Boy up top. But the jokes went well and then I went to sleep for an early trip to Syracuse the next morning. So without further adieu here is the recap of the trip:
Thursday – Amtrak Backtrack
As I write this from my return Amtrak Monday morning I am happy to report that we are on schedule. The same could not be said for Thursday morning’s trip to Syracuse. I have written a lot over the years of my affinity for, and frustrations with, rail travel in this country. As part of the stimulus plan when Obama took office many dollars were earmarked for infrastructure improvements and additions to state and federal rail service. Much of it was scrapped, especially in states like Florida and Ohio with Republican governors. I have thought for many years that there should be a massive – like hundreds of billions – investment in making our nationwide rail service comparable to Europe and Asia. Improvement to our infrastructure, thousands upon thousands of jobs, upgrading our transportation system and giving something for people to use – feels like a win all around, which is why I think various lobbies, probably aviation at the top of the list, have worked hard to kill this (in addition to the GOP wanting to privatize rail). So instead what we are left with is a 5.5 hour trip to Syracuse that takes 7 hours because Amtrak, once out of the DC-Boston corridor (where the money and power reside) Amtrak does not own the tracks so freight always gets priority – on my last 5 long range trips (5+ hours) the average arrival has been just a few minutes short of 2 hours late. I am no populist and am a happy Hillary voter, but nothing more richly symbolizes America than business being given priority 100% of the time over people on the rails of America. When I finally arrived in Syracuse (after we had to ride 30 minutes past the station because of a disabled train at the station so we could switch tracks) the sky looked like the beginning of the Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers, so very welcoming.
Thursday’s show was solid. Nothing big to report, but worth noting is that two stories below the club in the mall was a Cheesecake Factory. So I had a slice of the Hazelnut Cheesecake while the headliner was on (it’s their new flavor and it may be the best they’ve ever done). And just to show you the admiration and respect the Mall has for the money printing machine that is the Cheesecake Factory check out the side of the Mall as they are every bit as powerful as Saxs Fifth Avenue and Macy’s (and only Cheesecake Factory appeared to have reserved parking for their management in the Mall parking area.
Friday – Great Movie, Great Shows, Horrific Aftermath
On Friday I went to see Deepwater Horizon, the Peter Berg directed movie starring Mark Wahlberg about the Exxon Valdez spill (kidding for those of you who are bad with jokes). I have made a lot of fun at the expense of Wahlberg and Berg (sounds more like a law firm) because they have been on some sort of draped-in-the-flag mutual masturbation series of films recently (starting with Lone Survivor, which was OK and then next month’s Patriot’s Day about the Boston bombing these guys are making short, white American men feel even better than Donald Trump). The preview for Patriot’s Day is literally like a remix of the Deepwater trailer – white guy kisses pretty wife while guitars strum, then goes to work trying to make the world a better place – then bad sounds and ominous shots – and then title screen. I said on my podcast the next Wahlbergberg movie is probably going to be called Standing Blue – about a white cop who protests San Francisco 49er games because Colin Kaepernick won’t stand for the anthem.
Now, with all the jokes out of the way, I must give the Wahlbergberg devils their due – Deepwater Horizon was excellent. Incredibly well executed (minus some of the given cheese in the first 30 minutes of the film), well acted (Gina Rodriguez was not quite Tom Hanks at the end of Captain Phillips (GOAT PTSD performance) but she was really good when given a chance to flex her chops and Wahlberg was solid, as was Kurt Russell), and quite powerful. Highly recommend.
As for the shows on Friday – I crushed obviously, but in my arrogance I slipped up. I am not a big cheese eater unless it is preceded by “grilled” or followed by “cake” but I opted for the quesadillas during the 1st show, then got cheesecake in between shows and then, in a moment of boredom, got the mozzarella sticks during show 2. What happened next was nothing short of Deepwater Horizon meets Harry from Dumb and Dumber. I will spare the details, but I got back to my hotel room at 1230am and left my bathroom at 3:05 am. In between dumping crude oil into the Syracuse sewage system I also vomited so hard I thought I burst a blood vessel in my right eye (just turned out to be bloodshot with cloudy vision for an hour). If my stomach had been any worse Peter Berg could have directed a movie starring Mark Wahlberg about the plumber that would have had to come and fix my bathroom. Porcelain Knight coming to theaters 2018.
And here is me crushing in an extended bit about my dog Cookie. Another clip of me doing Trump is getting a lot of hits on Facebook (my Trump impression is so powerful it turns conservative, upstate white voters into a Def Jam crowd)
Saturday – Crushing Sets, Crushing Emotions Over Poor Sales
Saturday I saw the movie Ouija, which was not very good (other than Lights Out – critics have been off bigly with this year’s horror offerings). I also ate very little because my stomach felt like it had been through a war. So there was nothing much of significance to report other than the fact that I crushed hard. Several people told me my Trump bit/impression was the funniest thing they had ever heard. I agreed with them. But in two shows I only sold 1 CD. So I went back to the hotel bummed, but hopeful with one more show left in the week. #LiveLoveLaugh Here is a picture of Jake The Snake Roberts and I from the club. If you don’t follow me on Instagram, this is Jake doing his impression of me when I heard Jake The Snake Roberts was headlining comedy clubs:
Sunday – The Final Chapter
Sunday began with being woke(n) up by the high school band that occupied every room on my hotel floor except for my room and the headliner John Henson (of Talk Soup and Wipeout) and they were loud and annoying, but I had already gotten the 4.5 hours sleep I need to be an angry, lazy, bitter sloth of a comedian so I was good to go. I went to see The Magnificent Seven and was joined by John, who either because he wanted an aisle seat as well or just wanted to assert his headliner status, sat one row above me in the theater. The movie was not very good. I feel like Denzel, Chris Pratt and Antoine Fuqua were all better than that movie (though Pratt was annoying in his overly charming performance). Then it was time for the final show. I did very well and sold the most CDs (10) than any other show for the weekend. I felt so confident that I had a 3rd and final piece of cheesecake, which as of this typing has not done any damage.
All in all it was a great weekend working with John and Mr. Jackson (the emcee), as well as Rob, the chauffeur, door guy, former strip club bouncer who escorted John and I around for the weekend. Looking forward to coming back in 2017! Now I get to see my dog Cookie, who is not thrilled about her Cookie Monster costume, but fu*k it – she looks cute in it. And if Wahlbergberg have taught us anything, it is heroes don’t always do the easy thing, but they do the right thing – coming in 2020 Mark Wahlberg as Cookie the Dog in Halloween Hero directed by Peter Berg.
Get J-L’s new stand up album ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.
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SNL had its season premiere this past Saturday to rave reviews, in particular the Alec Baldwin-Kate McKinnon Trump-Clinton debate sketch. The show also provided a long overdue Mr. Robot sketch, considering cast member Pete Davidson is a taller doppelganger for Mr. Robot star Rami Malek. However, one comedian in the far more anonymous part of the web has managed to combine a dead on Trump impression with a killer parody of Mr. Robot. Comedian J-L Cauvin, who was sure to post thumbnails of his sketch before the SNL premiere (justifying his paranoia that they might finally do a Mr. Robot sketch) in case anyone believed him to be a copycat gives the world Mr Trump: a perfect representation of the conflict so many voters have between supporting Hillary Clinton vs. supporting Donald Trump. Here is the sketch for your viewing and sharing pleasure:
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In a week full of controversial statements, even by his standards, Donald Trump has made a desperate, but significant play for black votes by declaring Atlanta, FX’s new comedy starring Donald Glover, “the second best show ever made, after The Apprentice of course.” This week, Donald Trump made headlines for acknowledging President Obama’s American citizenship, but without apology and by falsely claiming Hillary Clinton as the source of the birther movement. When that caused a predictable backlash Trump went to his playbook of “say something worse to distract from earlier bad thing” by suggesting Hillary Clinton’s protective detail abandon their weapons. Well Trump may have finally made his first real play for the African-American vote today when at noon he tweeted out “Atlanta on FX is great. Really great. Probably best show since The Apprentice.”
Trump is a lover of polls, statistics and click bait and he gets all three with his support of Atlanta. Atlanta has had strong ratings for FX, especially if you read titles of articles saying “Best Ratings for an FX comedy premiere since 2011” (which really means it is less successful than Wilfred, but that is not really the point). In a study of Black Twitter, Atlanta recently finished ahead of Barack Obama, Serena Williams and Beyoncé on things black people thought were important and excellent (a metric that combines quantity of shares of content with quantity of superlatives used in those shares). So whether it is genuine or pandering, Trump’s pivot to be pro-Atlanta is the only thing right now in black social media that may have the power to cover up his birther agenda, viewed as one of the low lights of disrespect shown to President Obama during his presidency.
“Hillary keeps hot sauce in her purse? Believe me, I keep Atlanta at the top of my DVR queue. Really great…” gushed Trump outside a white power rally this afternoon.
The response on Black Twitter to Trump’s love of Atlanta has been mixed, but one popular account, going by the name “@ThotsAndPrayers” said “Trump has done a lot of bad and said a lot worse, but he is right – Atlanta is (flame emoji).”
So it seems that it may be too little, too late, but the praise for this amazing show (it is at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is not just black social media that has noticed) as one of the greatest in television history by Mr. Trump is not falling on deaf ears.
Episode 4 of Atlanta‘s first season airs Tuesday.
Get J-L’s new stand up album ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.
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Yesterday I took a trip to Springfield, MA, home of the Basketball Hall of Fame (oddly enough one day before the ceremonies begin for Shaq, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming among others, so it ended up feeling almost like a private exhibit). It was a pleasant day trip and my girlfriend drove (I gave her 4 stars on Uber – too much complaining about the radio) so it was a rare trip where I was not going to make people laugh and the money I spent/lost would be intentional, instead of the risky Russian Roulette associated with the finances of road comedy work. Rather than bore you with more of my brilliant comedic words I will bore you with some of the photos I took and provide witty captions (if you follow me on Instagram @jlcomedy – this may actually bore you since I spent most of my time at the HoF gawking and posting photos with humorous captions). Before the photo album, the one fact that made me laugh hardest was that it took 21 years from the invention of basketball before they decide to use open baskets/nets so that someone did not have to climb a ladder to remove the ball from the basket. 21 years. Contrast that with the fact that it took 66 years from the first flight by the Wright Brothers (really solid, inspiring and quick read by David McCullough by the way) until Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The point is we all progress at our own pace. Without further adieu here is my trip that was funny, but by choice, not employment obligation:
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This weekend I was in Raleigh, North Carolina at Goodnight’s Comedy Club. I am writing this from the cafe car of my Amtrak train (the Silver Star, which originates in Miami, so other than licking a toilet seat in Brazil there are very few places I would expect to carry Zika more than this train) and trying to remember that the week was a strong one – worked with solid comics, saw two good movies, sold some CDs, indulged in some Chick Fil-A (in North Carolina, which I have dubbed a “bigotry Inception”) and was able to relax a little bit. However, 93 Uber rides, a horrible hotel breakfast, one female heckler and her emasculated husband and an elderly obese woman blaming me for her fall on this train 30 minutes ago have forced me to temper my happiness about the trip. So with that tease let’s get into the details of another road trip with America’s favorite Middle Man Road Recapper.
Thursday – Hotel, Motel… Best Western?
I woke up early on Thursday, said goodbye to my girlfriend and Cookie (my dog, I packed several “Complete Cookies” – vegan, protein cookies that my girlfriend calls “Bro Cookies” because they are sold at GNC) and headed for the Carolinian, the 7:05 am train that leaves NY Penn Station for North Carolina. I managed to secure a seat by myself until Richmond, VA, which on a packed train is pretty great. I read a little bit, wrote my next sketch (filming Friday and going up 10 days before the first presidential debate) and generally felt like a freedom rider in the 1960s (there were 3 white people and a bi-racial giant in my car to go with 80 black people and 54 bare feet. I played spirituals on my iPod to complete the ambiance.
When I arrived in Raleigh only an hour late (5:30pm) I got an Uber thinking I had hotwire.com’d the same hotel I had been in 2 years ago. For those of you that don’t play travel Russian Roulette on Hotwire.com (or as I will call it after this trip THOTwire.com), you put in your location and the website gives you discounted rates for hotels within a distance range – but to get the discounted rates you don’t know the name or exact location of the hotel. 4 out of 5 times it is a great deal and very convenient. However to get the $54/night rate (#ComedyMogul) I picked a hotel in a 0.2 miles-5.0 miles range from the club. Well, this was the 5th time because the hotel was 4.7 miles from the club – so that would mean Uber back and forth every night. But if you add up the rate of the hotel I stayed at last time (Days Inn – #ComedyMogul) I still saved about $19 when you subtract the Ubers from the increased nightly price so basically I gamed the system again, if you don’t factor in the mental cost of inconvenience. Sadly their continental breakfast sucked, but for $54 a night I guess I should be thankful that they had anything. #Blessed
Thursday night’s show was fun. The headliner was Jon Reep, who I actually voted for on his season of Last Comic Standing many years ago, and 6’7″ emcee Brent Blakeney, who I worked with the last time I was in Raleigh (the Duncan-Robinson of opening acts), but this time we did not have to babysit Iliza Schlesinger’s dog in the green room. The show went well, though it was the only crowd for the week that wasn’t packed. But I did make one pity sale of a CD to an older woman. That pity money then went to pay for a depression donut at the Dunkin Donuts near my hotel (the only thing within walking distance to my hotel – I would end up eating half of their inventory by Sunday morning).
Friday would be the peak of the trip on all fronts, except CD sales. I woke up, thought about going to the hotel gym, and after burning 3 calories thinking about it I opted instead to do a double feature at the movie theater. I got an Uber and ate at the aforementioned Chick Fil A and then saw Hands of Stone and Don’t Breathe. Check my positive reviews of both here:
The shows that night were great. Packed crowds, big laughs, etc. In other words nothing really fun to recap happened. I did get a celebration milkshake at Dunkin Donuts (technically it is a DD/Baskin Robbins, but DD is doing all the heavy lifting for that mediocre ice cream – the milkshake was weak).
Saturday – “If AIDS and Cancer had sex on this stage right now it would be more enjoyable than what you are doing”
During the day I sat in my hotel room doing a marathon of The Good Wife on Amazon Prime (solid show – 15 eps through season 1; I would have called the show The Nice Lawyer). I then made my way to the club. The first show was hot despite a few woman making their voices heard too much (one woman said “oh come on” in disappointment about 7 times in the first 11 minutes of my set and a couple of younger ladies kept trying to get me to recognize them by overreacting with “awwws” at some punchlines. But overall – great first show. Then the second show happened.
There are sad and tragic moments in American History concerning black men that are too legion to count. From slavery to Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin America has a plentiful history of destroying black men. I would like to add another black man to that tragic roster. There was a Latin woman who kept talking and repeating lines and clapping off the beat of the jokes. At best she was horribly distracting, at worst she should be first on Trump’s deportation squad list. I probably spent 12 of my final 22 minutes on stage in North Carolina dealing with her. I pledged to the crowd that I was going to join ISIS and after I completed my one target mission I would retire from jihad. I ripped this woman so many ways and nothing worked (also here is a popular blog I wrote in 2013 about female hecklers). And even more disappointing was that her husband or boyfriend, a strong looking black man (physically strong, obviously he had been mentally broken) had said nothing or never tried to intervene or calm her down or drown her in a bathtub. Now in fairness to Stephen from Django, she was a Latin woman and that is right after cookies as my life kryptonite , but at some point you have to step up and be a cis-hetero-normative male, no matter how good the salsa is. The entire crowd roared every time I crushed her and the biggest laugh I probably got all week was when I morphed into Trump and gave her a “Get her out.” On Twitter and Facebook I said this man’s performance was “the weakest by a black man since Charles Smith against the Bulls.” (The above quote is one of many things I said to her by the end of my set). Here are just a couple of still shots from me scolding the woman:
After the second show I sold some more CDs and was treated like a hero by most of the crowd. But those good tidings simply meant that the comedy gods had something negative in store for me before leaving North Carolina, because no comedy journey ever ends well…
Sunday – The Fall Guy for the Fallen Lady
Just 2 hours ago at the writing of this sentence I arrived at the Raleigh train station. I boarded the train and was told to take seat 3. I saw an obese elderly woman sitting in seat 4, but she had books and a tray of snacks in seat 4. I then said “Hey, that is my seat – they assigned me to it.” She then started saying she could move back (her scooter was in front of seats 1 and 2), but I did not understand that seat 4 was not her seat (why would I assume an obese/handicapped woman would park her chair somewhere other than the seat she is sitting in?) so I just waited for her to move the snacks so I could sit down. She then got out of the seat and shuffled/struggled to walk over to seats 1 and 2. At this point half the car is staring at me like I am the bus driver telling Rosa Parks to move, even though that is not what I intended. Also I am now blocking about 12 passengers from making it to their seats. A guy the size of Luke Cage then tells me he is in seat 4 (why Amtrak paired 6’7″, 280 lbs with 6’3″, 230, when the people paired behind me had the combined weight of Tom Hanks at the end of Philadelphia is a mystery to me). As I was sliding out of the way of Luke the fall heard around the Amtrak world occurred. The old lady fell spilling coffee and juices. Luke and I helped her up to her seat and then a conductor came up to her to see if she was OK. She then explained that (pointing to me) “He HAD to have that seat so I got up.” I tried to get support from Luke Cage, but between elderly black woman and guy who looks like he co-owned the pizza shop in Do The Right Thing I think his support for my predicament was tepid at best.
So now I sit in the cafe car on my way home blogging instead of being treated like the Bull Connor of Amtrak in my seat. The good news is I will be back on Amtrak tomorrow headed to Albany to do voice work as Donald Trump, so I just need to remember my German Sheppard and fire hose in the morning.
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This weekend was a unique one for road work. In early July I featured at the Albany Funny Bone and the emcee was a local named Frank Gentile. We had a nice week and went our separate ways, but then I got a message from him on Facebook a month later asking if I wanted to do a one night gig in the Albany area. I was going to say yes because travel to Albany is cheap from NYC, but before I could say yes, Frank informed me that the gig also paid money and I almost had to reconsider taking the gig since losing money on as many shows as possible has become integral to my brand as a comedian (“The King of All Unpaid Media” (TM)). I decided to take the gig and then learned it was a private party (Frank actually told me that initially, but I was so distracted by the thought of making money on a show that I didn’t read all the details.
When I arrived in Albany off of a packed Amtrak train I was greeted by Frank and we made our way to Clifton Park, NY. We stopped at Wendy’s where I ate a spicy chicken sandwich meal (just like athletes it is important for comedians to give their body the right fuel to generate the proper amount of self-loathing energy before performing). When we got to the venue I was greeted by what I would refer to as “Wayne Manor” the rest of the evening – a huge home with a Ferrari (or Corvette or some other car that I will never be allowed to touch, let alone own in my life) in the garage, a tent for the party and a deluxe his and hers porta-potty that put most Manhattan studio apartments to shame. And I would be remiss if I left out the fact that for a party with about 40 guests in the middle of nowhere (NYC bias), the women looked great – proving my theory that money to women is like heat to bugs. In the middle of upstate NY in a town I have never heard of there were still several attractive women (and there with husbands and boyfriends – so very legit – not imported/rented talent like the Platinum porta potty), which shows wherever there is money – Beverly Hills, Clifton Park, Syria – there will be attractive women. Much like in the middle of winter if there is one sunny 50 degree day all of a sudden bugs show up with no warning for that day, hot chicks and money are the same – they just show up, even in places where you might only expect morbidly obese people on scooters wheeling around the local Wal-Mart. This is not even suggesting gold digging – it is more like how a plant will lean towards sunlight – it just sort of happens sometimes. To prove my point, when I mentioned that I was taking Greyhound back to NYC during my set, three of the women in attendance died. This was not intentional – it was just their natural response to being so close to sad economic situations.
The evening was a catered, DJ event – as I joked, the guy who had the party and owned Wayne Manor basically throws small weddings as his regular parties. In fact, since I only have audio of my performance – here are some of my favorite off the cuff remarks from my set:
- I will keep my set short as I know you probably have to go fight crime in downtown Albany soon
- I assume everyone has their masks for the Eyes Wide Shut sex party inside after my set? Kids, I suggest you leave before then.
- (During Southwest Airlines bit the host clapped) Don’t give me a pity clap sir! We both know you do not fly Southwest. You probably have a tunnel built in the airport for yourself to avoid the riff raff that flies Southwest
- (while his wife stepped away) I bet your wife tries to get mouthy now that she feels comfortable in her big house – like her opinions matter (I then point to the house) Do you just look at her and say THAT’S YOUR OPINION?!
- Your Summer party is a wedding level event to regular people. P Diddy should be taking notes.
The rest was basically just my routine, but what a fun gig! The audience was great and I crushed the desert trays before and after my set. The host is basically an auto body shop mogul – a self made business success. He told me he grew up in a trailer and has been working his ass off in the industry for 22 years (the last seven in his own business) and he told me that he thought I would eventually break through in my industry. It made me sad to inform him that seven years ago I was a six figure attorney so if anything I will be in a trailer by the end of my career, but I still appreciated his kind words and the great party he put on. But like any gig of mine it had to end on a sour note. Enter Greyhound.
Frank gave me a ride to the Greyhound station, which by Greyhound standards was a Ritz Carlton: various vending machines with snacks people might actually want, a separate cafe and only one homeless man semi-pants-less outside the door. I was scheduled to board the 11pm bus which was scheduled to arrive at 1:45 at Port Authority – this is what you get when you travel for $17. To be fair Greyhound has upgraded their seats to leather so now you no longer need a black light to see the body fluid stains. The bus was 30 minutes late, but I did get a seat to myself. However, all lights on the bus were off the whole time so I could not read (bus driver asked “Does anyone want to read?” and to no one’s surprise no one said yes so I didn’t want to be the douche with a reading light on so I just listened to my iPod and rubbed my sore knees (from the cramped seating not any Eyes Wide Shut activities at Wayne Manor).
For all of you that were unable to experience the genius that was this show (or were there and want more), I suggest you go to iTunes and get my new stand up album Israeli Tortoise (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/album/israeli-tortoise/id1140802153) which went #1 this month on iTunes (also available on Amazon and Google)
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The last week has been a great microcosm of my career. My latest album, Israeli Tortoise, with no industry, label, management or iTunes support hit #1 on the comedy charts for a day and stayed in the top 10 for 4 days (as I type this it currently sits at 110, so basically my album has had the same arc as the movie Awakenings – a miracle occurred and everyone became happy only to see it quickly fall back into a Robert DeNiro stupor by the end of its run. The album also received a Twitter endorsement from Jim Gaffigan, the Pope of iTunes album sales. And to kill time on the road I saw 4 movies, 3 of which I enjoyed. That’s the good news. But like any comedy adventure it also featured the usual assortment of low lights – a 15 hour train ride with 20 minutes sleep and then having to wait 4 hours before checking into the hotel, being avoided like a leper by 99.9% of the audiences of the shows after performing, despite crushing 4 of the shows and only having one stinker (LATE SHOW FRIDAY – I AM TALKING TO YOU). Fitting that during the week where I hit #1 on iTunes I have my worst week of merch sales on the road ever (I am averaging 1 CD sold per show with one show to go – the good news is I will get an unsuspecting workout dragging 90% of my albums home on Monday morning) . Here is my truth (hand to the chest) in more expansive details:
If Eli Roth is looking for a new movie idea for one of his awful torture porn films, perhaps “Cross Country Amtrak” could make a compelling subject. I have taken the Lakeshore Limited (the one that goes from NYC to Chicago by way of Greenland) well over a dozen times in my comedy career as it hits Cleveland, upstate NY and Chicago, all places I have performed in many times. But perhaps it is my increasing #ComedyMogul status or just getting more uncomfortable as I get older, but the train is rough. Especially to Toledo. It was an hour late and arrived in Toledo at 7am and let me tell you, there is nothing more refreshing than getting off a train filled with the obese, the “I need to avoid TSA” and bare feet crowd of an Amtrak after 15 hours (and kudos to the two separate people who took powerful shits in our car during the Odyssey) and only 20 minutes sleep.
Due to inconsistent Internet in the room and the fact that the gym in the mall closed 2 years ago, movies ended up being my main time killer. I saw 4 movies, one each day. I loved Sausage Party (see the review here (https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=LNyS5e5PMoY)), was more than pleasantly surprised by Bad Moms, found a lump in my throat during Pete’s Dragon and wanted to murder every critic on Rotten Tomatoes who gave the atrocious Lights Out a positive review. Also one of the great benefits of the Toledo Funny Bone, besides the excellent hotel across the street (not withstanding the Internet, it is pretty swanky) from the club, is the fact that food and the mall (not a great mall, but better than nothing) are within walking distance and involve no crossing or walking along the side of any highways – always a plus in the life of the car-less feature).
The main event for every trip are the shows and I have been very happy with my performances. But to be honest, I have eaten it on stage (Birmingham, AL 2009 comes to mind as an overall week that was a struggle) and still came away still selling decently. However, the Toledo crowds have been a perfect storm of people who don’t want to buy AND don’t particularly want to make eye contact with you after a show. I did get a handful of “are you really half black”‘s – slightly fewer than the “good show”‘s I got, but a lot closer than I would have liked. The main thing I have judged from the crowd is that a lot of them seem like stand up novices – those who may not be comedy savants so they simply know by the end of the show “the guy who went last and did the most is the only human being that counts on the lineup!” I have opened for some of the biggest names in comedy and although never overshadowing them – if you hold your own as a feature, good crowds can recognize the talent and promise in all the acts. These crowds laugh their asses off (EXCEPT YOU LATE FRIDAY SHOW), but then walk by you like you were the 25 minute mic stand repair guy. Very weird and frustrating, but that’s the deal sometimes.
The worst though, was the guy who came out after my set with his wife or girlfriend to specifically tell me that he thought I was really great and that my set blew him away. He asked for a picture, I obliged and he and his lady went back in for the rest of the show. I went to the emcee and said, “Well, at least I will get one sale after the show.” Fast forward 245 minutes (black headliner) and the same dude might have been able to challenge Usain Bolt for the 100m. I kept thinking – don’t you at least want my website info?”
Usually merch money pays for all my food and movies for a weekend and then some. Now I am going to have to hit an ATM to tip out the bartenders after the last show. This is my 9/11 (which if I had sold between 9 and 11 CDs I would not have to go to the ATM).
One other thing I have learned about myself being on the road for the last few years is my ability to depress emcees. It is admittedly cool that because of my videos and impressions my reputation and skills have outpaced my actual career within stand up comedy (which is sort of counter-intuitive – “Hey people know and like your work – of course we can’t book/represent you!). On top of that my exposure on podcasts like Carolla and TBGWT have made more people on the road familiar with my work. But it is sort of a bizarre compliment seeing comedians getting sort of depressed about the business when realizing that I am still a nobody (implying that they think I should be further along – hence the compliment). Not to mention I get slightly aroused seeing comedians become more aware of what a shameful joke this industry is. Quick teaching moment – kiss the ass of a headliner, get a manger or be under 30 with a pinch of talent (but not too much so that they don’t think they can mold you into what they need at their agency) – these are the ways to “make it.” All other methods are red herrings.
So as I gear up for the finals show of the week (and a 3:20 am Amtrak back to NYC – SEE AT THE BOTTOM FOR SUNDAY EPILOGUE) I leave you with some bits from the weekend and a reminder to go buy Israeli Tortoise on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/album/israeli-tortoise/id1140802153) (or other digital platforms), Enjoy – and pray that I don’t get Zika, Ebola or Bird Flu on my way home.
Play Station Banged My Ex
The Problem With Ocean’s 8 in 1 Minute
I sold 1 CD on Sunday night after a very strong set, which helped complete my 1.0 sales per show rate – the lowest of my career for any road weekend. However, group of older black people came up to me at the club after the show and said the following (for ease of writing I have turned all of their voices into one speaker):
OBP: We were on your Amtrak coming here. We sat next to you and in front of you (there were 4 of them total)!
J-L: Oh yeah, I remember you!
OBP: Yes, you were very funny tonight. And we commented on the train how often you got up to go to the bathroom.
J-L: Yeah, I didn’t sleep for the whole trip so my body kept having to pee.
OBP: Will you be going back on the train tonight?
OBP: Then we will see you there. We will get a picture with you there!
So look for a pic of me and 4 older black people at the Toledo Amtrak station coming to the Internet soon!
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With the Republican National Convention over and Cleveland still standing, national attention now shifts to Philadelphia, PA where the Democrats will hold their convention. While the Democrats lack the star power of Scott Baio and Antonio Sabatao Jr., they will still bring some pretty heavy hitters to the Convention in the prime time hours. Now other than watching what the speakers have to say, the only other place you should be looking during the Convention (besides my Twitter account @JLCauvin) is Donald J Trump’s account. Well, thanks to Wikileaks I am able to share some of the pre-written tweets The Donald has locked and loaded for the 4 nights (be advised some of these are offensive):
Monday: Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama
“@RealDonald Trump Crazy Bernie clearly doesn’t like Crooked Hillary. Pathetic! His supporters should come to me. Be great!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Crazy Bernie is so full of lies, but he’s crazy so I feel bad for him. Needs assisted living!”
“@RealDonaldTrump The politically correct police are so pathetic. Now they are letting Leslie Jones talk! Not funny!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Michelle Obama wants kids to eat fruit and drink water. So poor! My kids drink the tears of immigrant laborers”
Tuesday: Bill Clinton and the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland & Michael Brown
“@RealDonaldTrump Bill Clinton – liar, rapist, murderer – one of the worst presidents of all time. Pathetic!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Rapin’ Bill now raping the truth. The American people won’t be fooled. We will win!”
“@RealDonaldTrump If Trayvon Martin respected law and order he would not have been attacked by George Zimmerman #BlueLivesMatter”
“@RealDonaldTrump So what if George Z wasn’t a cop? He has a gun and wanted to be a cop. Great guy! #BlueLivesMatter”
“@RealDonaldTrump Shame on the Democrats for taking these poor women and exploiting them. I will be great for black women!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Our law enforcement deserve better than this. We need more police and better moms! #BlueLivesMatter”
Wednesday: Barack Obama and Joe Biden
“@RealDonaldTrump I wonder who Plagarisin’ Joe stole this speech from. Melania would be a much better VP. Hot!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Joe Biden lost his son last year. All of mine are alive. Pro-life is the best!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Barack Obama would be the biggest liar of all time if Crooked Hillary were not still alive. Someone should see about that.”
“@RealDonaldTrump Barack Obama did nothing for black people. I will be the greatest president for blacks ever. Even better than Lincoln!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Barack Obama destroyed our country. I will make it great again. Believe me!”
“@RealDonaldTrump RT @WhitePowerParty “After a monkey president, we can’t have a bitch president. No more animals in the WHITE House #Trump2016″”
Thursday: Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton
“@RealDonaldTrump: Chelsea Clinton is a 4 on her best day. Ivanka is a 10. Great lips, breasts and legs. And her voice is seductive. Great lady!”
“@RealDonaldTrump: How sad to have a rapist father and a crooked mother. Amazing she has not killed herself. But still, not as hot as Ivanka on Ivanka’s worst day”
“@RealDonaldTrump Why is Crooked Hillary shouting? Screaming and shrill. NOT PRESIDENTIAL!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Crooked Hillary has told more lies tonight than even Lyin’ Ted. BAD!”
“@RealDonaldTrump Worst convention ever. No stars. No people. Just politicians and blacks. We are going to make America great again.”
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In 1987 I was eight years old and Appetite for Destruction came out. My first introduction to the best rock album of all time (in my opinion), or at least the best in my lifetime was my brother arriving with the single (for my young readers that was like an iTunes song but played on vinyl, not ironically or to be cool because you think it “sounds better,” but because that was the option available) for Sweet Child O’ Mine. I mostly laughed because he kept trying to sing along, but did not know the words. Of course once I started seeing videos for Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City I became a huge fan. I managed to purchase Appetite for Destruction right under my Dad’s nose, who as a well meaning, but misguided and strict immigrant parent, often took PG movie ratings too seriously (“It says parental guidance – I am your parent.”) and missed the Parental Advisory sticker on AFD. Much to my surprise as I hit song #2 on AFD, curse words happened (“so fu*king easy” on It’s So Easy) and I was a little startled, but the music sounded so good I quickly got over that. By the time I was a 7th grader GnR had released 4 albums and were clearly destined for status somewhere near the Rolling Stones. And then Axl Rose went Axl Rose and it all disappeared. I was too young and broke for the use Your Illusion Tour in 1991-92 so basically my last chance to see the original GnR in concert was a quarter of a century ago. I discussed on my podcast before the rumors of the Not in this Lifetime Tour began that a GnR show was a bucket list for me. And then, as if I was Knockin on Heaven’s Door, my bucket list chance fell like November Rain (sorry)! I bought 2 tickets to Philly when I thought I couldn’t get tickets to their NY/NJ show – but then they added a second NY/NJ show – so I will be headed to that next week. But this Philadelphia show is the special one. Short story – I would give it an A+, To compare it to virginity (since it was my first GnR concert) it was like losing your virginity to your favorite porn star, while she tells you she had never had better and decides to quit the business because she wants to marry you and have kids with you, while putting her Harvard M.D. to good use to give medical care to poor children, but only when you are not home. In other words – great! Here are more specifics:
Travelling to Philly – The Daly Show
I took Amtrak down with my girlfriend and it pretty much resembled this scene from Step Brothers:
When I arrived in Philly I saw my buddy Jim from law school. I knew he was going from social media, but had not thought to ask “Hey will you be on the 12:54pm train from NYC?” with the show at 8:30pm. My gf and I went to our hotel – the Doubletree and as we walked in (not a joke) Sweet Child O’ Mine was playing. I then ate multiple Doubletree cookies and we headed to the nearby Cheesecake Factory to try and get diabetes so that the concert could become a literal bucket list event.
At about 7pm we hopped on the train to the concert venue and when we got off the train we ran into… Jim from law school. We walked to the venue where Jim parted ways to have some beverages with his buddies and I went to the gift shop to make my girlfriend buy me a t-shirt (#ComedyMogul handles train, hotel and tickets, but inside the arena it’s time to earn your keep).
As the show as about to begin (probably an hour between opening act and GnR, which was within the bounds of reason – the only thing more notoriously late than CP time is WAR (W. Axl Rose) time) I get a text from… Jim from law school, indicating he can see me – his tickets were basically directly behind me in a higher section of the stadium (obviously the financial difference between us two Georgetown Law grads is that my comedy earnings of $45.51 per week allow me the finer things in life). Other than sweating like Striker at the end of Airplane! it was pleasant enough waiting for the greatness to begin.
The show was great. How great? The band performed one song off of The Spaghetti Incident (McKagen’s cover of New Rose (sounded great) and four off of Chinese Democracy (none of which were my favorite two – Street of Dreams and Prostitute – FYI – hate on that album all you want, but it showcased that Axl was still a great song writer – and with the original band lending themselves to those 2008 songs they sounded damn good live) and the show was still an A+. I am pretty sure to get Axl to commit they had to let him do at least 4 songs off of Chinese Democracy (an ego thing – like these are the songs I did by myself but they count). It is an easy thing to agree to though. Axl is like Phil Jackson – he is demanding to run the triangle offense – but as long as he brings Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (his voice and name recognition) to the table you are content to let him believe that everything he does is genius.
They opened with some deep voiced Axl songs (It’s So Easy and Mr. Brownstown), probably to warm Axl up because when he hit Welcome to the Jungle a few songs later, all doubts about his range and power were put to rest. When the band did Double Talkin’ Jive, a song I actually didn’t like, I was mesmerized by Slash’s 3 minute solo. And Axl takes too much heat for putting on weight. He is a little more burley, but who looks the same at 25 and 55? And Slash has old man A-cup man nips, but no one is ripping him?! Only Duff McKagen looks like a statuesque rock God (seriously – dude is in his fifties and is a tower of lean muscle – in his bio he talks about how he got into martial arts and running to get out of alcoholism – he then was an early investor in (I think) Starbucks and Amazon (he is a Seattle guy) so basically fu*k him! But Slash and Axl are holding down the Dad bods to make up for Duff’s stubborn commitment to healthy living.
The GnR set ran over two hours and delivered everything I could want except for the lack of Patience (and if they did Patience I would have screamed for the acoustic version of You’re Crazy). If I had to rank any one song as the highlight it was, surprisingly, Civil War. I always liked the song, but the live version was beyond incredible. The only time I frowned was when I would look at the girl next to me recording herself dancing. I understand taking pictures or even recording a little bit of video – but this girl was almost pretending to dance to capture a video of herself dancing at a concert. It was “peak millennial” (the caption was probably “Feeling so #Blessed that all I can do is dance to this amazing song by Whitesnake).
Back to the main event – Axl’s vocals are there. Slash’s guitar playing is mesmerizing. Despite the crowd looking like a white power rally (I counted by the end of the night – 11 Indian/Asian people, 6.5 black people (including me) and 400,900 white people, with approximately 1.7 million tattoos among them. It looked like a Comic Con for people whose favorite comic is Donald Trump: 2016. But the concert, which concluded beautifully with Paradise City, was everything I wanted and hoped for and more. For more photos (not that many, but some) – check out jlcomedy on Instagram. Now I have my GnR experience locked away forever, in case they suck in NJ and then break up forever.
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! And look for J-L’s new stand up album ISRAELI TORTOISE in August 2016.
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