Wednesday I was headlining a one-night show at the Albany Funny Bone in New York. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it was a great show and thanks to the great crowd I have three new bits to share with you as I prep for a new album later this year. So enjoy the new stuff (and please tweet or FB share if you like any of them a lot)
The day after Thanksgiving I took my nephew to see Coco, the new Pixar masterpiece about the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It follows one boy’s quest to find his great, great-grandfather’s spirit and also his love of music, which has been forbidden by his family due to a long simmering resentment towards musical artists. It is basically Pixar doing a brilliant mash-up of Ghost and Footloose. My review would be an A or 4 out of 4 stars. The animation was outstanding, the story was incredibly original (nice to see that Disney actually allows Pixar to do Pixar things once in a while since buying them, instead of another half-baked franchising attempt) and it provided accessible exposition on some of the Mexican culture that was the backbone of the story for an outsider like me. I cannot vouch for how authentic it was culturally, but after reading articles by the filmmakers who went to great lengths to be accurate, and from the applause after the film ended from the majority Latin sold out crowd, I am guessing they did their homework and executed it well. In fact, Coco is now in my Pixar Mt Rushmore (which also consists of Toy Story (for those pleading for Toy Story 3 to be included, let’s just say the TS saga has a spot – it is the only story and franchise to date that Pixar has flawlessly executed, though with Disney shamelessly pushing Toy Story 4 out in a year it shows that they feel the need to cash in and potentially diminish a beautiful ending to the trilogy that would make Six Feet Under‘s finale writers proud), Finding Nemo and Wall-E).
So other than getting over my disappointment that Coco was not a 2 hour film about Ice-T’s wife (the name is for the main character’s great-grandmother), it seems like it was a pretty flawless cinematic experience – so what could J-L have to complain about?
Before every Pixar movie that I can remember (and I have seen all but two in the theater – Cars 3 and A Bug’s Life being the exceptions) there has been an animated short. Usually about 5 minutes, and sometimes getting nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Short, these mini-movies are often testing grounds for up and coming directors for Pixar to showcase or audition their talents in front of receptive audiences. Well, before Coco, there was a 20 minute (at least), 3 song, mini-movie involving the character from Frozen. For those of you that don’t know Frozen is arguably the most overrated phenomenon that Disney has ever produced. It was a throwback the The Little Mermaid-The Lion King era of Disney musical movies, but a shallow and weak descendant. Despite a great song from the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem, most of Frozen left me confused as to why it was such a phenomenon. Maybe cartoons and comic book movies had become so male, and even worse – adult-centered, that it offered a clear girl-focused story, even if weak by comparison to something like The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. So that may explain the success of Frozen, which is fine.
However, it does not explain why Coco required a 20 minute opening act involving Frozen, whose characters are so white, the Snowman almost passes as their black friend. I only mention race, not because I have a problem with Frozen, which takes place in Scandinavia I think, having a white cast. But I don’t think there is anyway to read it other than an animated white co-sign for the first Mexican-centered Pixar film. They broke every pattern of previous Pixar movies to do so, so the question is not if they did something wildly different for Coco, but why.
Obviously we live in polarizing times. The “President” is a racist and a white supremacist (I am still waiting for him to call out Jimmy Kimmel and Eminem the way he called out NFL players, Steph Curry, LaVar Ball and the mayor of San Juan, PR) and he began his campaign targeting Mexicans. And there are still many people who support him in this country and I am guessing some of them enjoy Pixar films. But Pixar, even with Disney’s money grubbing abuse, still has a track record of excellence that I think exceeds even that of Stephen Spielberg. Their films are original, creative and work so well on child and adult levels. They are all hits, almost universally critically acclaimed (ahem – Cars 2 and 3 please leave the room). Basically if Pixar makes a movie all they should have to say is, “Hi, we are Pixar. Enjoy.” But for some reason, in the 22 years since Toy Story graced movie theaters, the formula needed to be changed for Coco. And it was even featured on the posters as if to say, “Hey I know this *whispered* Mexican *end whisper* story may not be the normal Pixar you are used to, but if you give it a chance, you also get a bonus Frozen movie that is so white it will make these Mexicans at least feel like light-skinned, GOP voting Cubans. So come see Ivanka Trump and Taylor Swift sing in the snow!”
There is a benevolent interpretation to this move of course. Disney may recognize the political climate of our country and moviegoers’ tendency to ignore stories involving minorities unless they are comic book heroes or played by Denzel Washington or Will Smith. So maybe, taking a practical approach they said “This movie is great. We need to do whatever it takes to get folks to see it, even if it is pandering.” I appreciate that and in some ways think that that is good. But what does it say about this country that either the biggest entertainment studio in America is too insecure or cowardly to let their track record and a new great film speak for themselves or the company recognizes that even in movie going, white people may not support a story that isn’t white no matter who is making it. Because I am pretty sure many of those Latino people in the theater saw Toy Story, The Incredibles and many other Pixar movies with characters that didn’t look like them.
I hope Coco is a big success as it deserves to be, but the interminable Frozen movie before it was bad. On many levels.
This weekend I was at my favorite club in the country (tied for 1st with the DC Improv) – Helium in Philadelphia. As I told the crowds this weekend, my affection for Philadelphia comedy crowds stems from their combination of East Coast intelligence and piece of shit character. They are the perfect audiences because they understand the jokes and also do not (generally) care how dark or cruel the humor, as long as it is good. And it doesn’t hurt that my album sales are always strongest at Helium (average $300 a week in album sales). But if I have learned one thing in my 14 years as a comedian it is that as soon as J-L Cauvin expects something to go well for himself in comedy, it cannot and will not. So on Thursday I loaded up my bag with a ton of my albums and hopped on Amtrak down to the city of lawyerly AIDS.
On Thursday I took the poor people Amtrak down to Philadelphia, but was greeted by new leather seats on the train (#MAGA – Make Amtrak Great Again) so the ride felt more like an upper-middle class train experience. The one show of the night went well (I was opening for Kevin Brennan, who was actually the inspiration for REM’s Shiny Happy People, Thursday-Saturday) but the crowd was not that big and they were particularly stingy in their merchandise purchasing (I think I sold 1) and then I made my way back to 30th Street Station to go back to NYC. The club does not put up features so it was cheaper for me to travel home and come back Friday than to get a hotel Thursday night – the club is located downtown so weekend hotel rates are cheap, but during “business people” days, when titans of industry get rooms to bang hookers and associates, the rates are outside the range of #ComedyMoguls.
I got home at 2 am and settled in for a refreshing 5 hours of sleep.
When I arrived back in Philly Friday around 230pm I made my 1.2 mile walk to the Hampton Inn-Convention Center from the train station. I got my hotel on hotwire.com, which is the Russian Roulette of hotel bookings and had forgotten that I was in the deluxe “2 full size beds” room. Because when you are a #ComedyMogul you don’t sleep in the same bed twice.*
*Sarcasm – the 2 full size bed choice is always the cheapest and most annoying option
Before the Friday shows I made my way to The Cheesecake Factory for a nutritious dinner of salmon and broccoli and a basket of black bread (why does Cheesecake even offer the crusty white baguette when the black bread is basically dunking on the white bread like Shaq on Chris Dudley?). I skipped the cheesecake because I knew this would not be my last trip over the weekend. #RestraintMogul
The shows were really good Friday, but sales remained awful. And then I had to have an annoying interaction with some annoying older South Jersey type woman. Here is the conversation that happened:
Kevin Brennan: Hey J-L do you have the square app? (yes) She wants a t-shirt so you give me the money and then ring her up on your app (no problem)
*This actually meant that my sales of the first show would be -55 cents #ComedyMogul
Woman hands me her card and I swipe it.
J-L: (holds phone) OK – please sign here
J-L (still in friendly sales mode hoping people buy his albums): If you can just sign here…
Woman: (with attitude) OKaaaaaaaaaaay
Woman makes effort to sign.
Woman: (dismissive hand gesture) It’s not working.
J-L holds phone and holds it for her (doing nothing else). She waves her finger to demonstrate that it is not working, except it is working and her signature is just a dismissive line from her shitty finger. She says something else annoying.
J-L: I could really do without the attitude.
Woman: (thinking she is funny) Hey, you know where you are!
Woman then leans over and mumbles a question about my album.
J-L (still in friendly sales mode): I’m sorry? (did not hear her)
Woman: (holds up hands in surrender gesture) I come in peace.
Her weak, emasculated husband tried to engage me in conversation, but I just sort of nodded and said little. Then I think the woman said that her husband shouldn’t buy my stuff because I am not nice. Nothing could embody my comedy career more in 2017 than this: do favor for woman buying merch from a different comedian, get C U Next Tuesday attitude from the beginning, then misunderstood being polite as being a giant rude man and then her trashing me to her cuck husband – ALL WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF MY MERCH WHILE THE AUDIENCE LEFT THE SHOW BLOCKED FROM SEEING MY ALBUMS.
Saturday was the peak of the trip. Went to the Cheesecake Factory for a late lunch and got cheesecake (what kind of POS goes to TCF back to back and doesn’t have cheesecake either time?). Chose the pumpkin cheesecake because at 1040 calories per slice it is one of the lowest calorie options. #DisciplinedMogul Went to Mass as St John The Evangelist (which is also the name of my home Church in NYC – #BrandLoyalty) and then crushed both sets Saturday night. Had a fan drive from Delaware for the show (Thanks Zeke – a member of The Black Guy Who Tips fan base), but that buried a sadder note about fan support at the end of 14 years in comedy:
- performed at Helium a total of 9 times since 2011 (1 corporate gig, 2 independently booked shows, 6 feature weeks)
- my single highest week of merch sales occurred at Helium $410 in 2014 (out of the feature spot – and no gimmicks or t-shirts like a non-Boss!), almost every year my highest merch sales week is at Helium
- recorded an album there (Too Big To Fail)
- 2017: 6 shows – 1 fan
I am not blaming anyone or even pissed – it just becomes a reality that no matter how good you are or how hard you work, minus kingmakers or fame, people will eventually lose interest when it doesn’t look like anyone or any accepted marker of success is co-signing your work… even if you expand your platforms, produce a new album on average every 2.5 years and stay engaged on social media.
I checked out of my hotel at 1015 am, giving me close to 9 hours to kill as a homeless comedian in Philly. I opted to see Thor:Ragnarok (I give it a B: it’s fun, light and features way too much stupid Hulk and not enough leather clad, evil-hot Cate Blanchett. But in all honesty the Marvel movie universe is basically doing to film what Trump is doing to America). I then spent 2 hours reading The New Yorker (I was able to make it through almost an entire half of an article in those 2 hours) in a Starbucks, just to let all of Philadelphia know that I am better than them. Here is a fun new clip from the weekend:
Sunday night I was opening for Judy Gold who is 6’2,” and gay making us the most progressive front court in comedy history. The set went well and then I ended up on the Accela train back to NYC after the show with Judy Gold. It is part of my new book “Travel Like a Headliner, Live Like an Open Mic-er.” And with me was a ton of albums… minus ten.
This weekend I featured at Magooby’s Joke House in Timonium, Maryland. I was opening for Dan Soder. who five years ago was a waiter at a restaurant near my apartment and was on my podcast (Episode #6 – Walking Dead episode). Since then he has had a Comedy Central special, a Netflix half hour, a radio show on Sirius XM called The Bonfire and a recurring role on the Showtime show Billions. So needless to say my podcast is a real launching pad for stardom for guests, but not so much the host. The trip included fun shows, another visit to a Catholic Church trying to be an evangelical rock concert, poor merchandise sales and a late night trip home on Greyhound. So here we go!
I have been to Magooby’s enough times to have memorized the path to the Red Roof Inn Plus – Amtrak to Baltimore Penn Station, the Light Rail from Baltimore Penn to Timonium Business Park (no one in 4 years has ever taken the ticket from me, but it is only $1.80 so I get it just in case) and then a one mile walk to the Red Roof Inn Plus, which is one mile from Magooby’s.
2 years when I stayed at the Red Roof Inn Plus I was on the first floor, which is basically a motel telling you they hope you get raped and murdered. A year ago I was on the second floor, but this year, in the ultimate sign of discount motel respect, I was on the top floor (the third). People don’t know this, but two flights of stairs is usually enough to discourage most motel rapists and murderers.
The room was nice enough, though I learned that the “plus” apparently stands for the white stain on my black desk chair. I have no idea what the white stain was, but it tasted salty (most of this section are jokes I opened my set with, but also true).
The crowds were solid for the 5 shows at Magoobys. Other than the two clips I have posted below, my favorite joke from the week was comparing Maggie Gyllenhaal to Kevin McHale with breasts – not sure I want to have sex with her, but I definitely want her on the low blocks if I need two points. I then explained to two different audiences who Kevin McHale is, what The Deuce is (Gyllenhaal’s great show on HBO) and who Waingro was (the character in Heat that I expected to run into at the Red Roof Inn Plus) because it is not a J-L Cauvin set unless various historical and pop culture references need to be explained. So here are two new clips (please give them a like on YouTube):
The Rock Church
Now on Saturday I had to check out of my Red Roof Inn Plus (to save money I opted out of a third night #ComedyMogul), which meant roaming Timonium, Maryland for 8 hours with my luggage like a Samsonite-sponsored vagabond. That meant 2 hours at Starbucks, 3 hours at Panera Bread and then a one mile walk to The Church of the Nativity, the closest Catholic Church to the club area, for 5pm Mass. By way of background please enjoy this bit from St Paul, Minnesota this past Summer about when I found myself at a very modern, hip Mass:
Here is the thing – when I go to Mass I expect the simple things: anti-gay, anti-abortion, organ music and/or Gregorian chants and preparation to fight to the death on the side of the righteous in the War on Christmas. What I don’t need is some Joel Osteen-meets-One Direction experience. As I approached the Church of the Nativity I noticed the entrance which felt more like a liberal arts college than a Catholic Church. Big driveway, a huge 3 story floor to ceiling glass wall showing a huge coffee bar and lounge. I then entered the Church part of the structure and when inside here are some of the things I saw:
- A band with 4 guitarists (lead, rhythm, acoustic and bass), a keyboard player, a drummer and 3 vocalists
- 2 large screens for showing the band, the song lyrics and the readers/speakers
- 3 different cameras and a switchboard (they were filming for the website and live streaming)
- A CNN-electoral map-esque 46 inch flat screen TV where the priest touched and swiped to highlight different parts of his homily and Bible verses
- Ushers with security headsets
This was insane to me. If you are Catholic, one of the things you enjoy or like about it is some of the old school-ness of it (and in all seriousness I am not talking about some of the antiquated values). But it is as if this and other Catholic Churches are saying “The Evangelicals are killing us! We need more bells and whistles. More pop music! More cell phone apps! More hypocrisy!” WELL I DON’T LIKE IT! The Catholic Church is not going to win more fans or loyalty by turning into a Mumford and Sons concert. But it will feel like an annoying experience to people who do want the ritual and tradition of Mass. And most of all I was disappointed in the folks in attendance. If you cannot depend on old, conservative white people to maintain old traditions – who can you depend on for that?! #MMGA
So after Mass it was time for the last two shows at Magoobys and then a Lyft (#NeverUber) to the Baltimore Greyhound station. My last three 11pm or later Greyhound trips I have had to sit next to someone because they were packed (Greyhound is like the Underground Railroad at night – immigrants, minorities and felons seeking to avoid the daylight), including my last trip from Albany where I sat next to a man so full of non-James Brown funk that my eyes teared up. Well, just like the Red Roof Inn finally show me 3rd floor respect on this trip, I was rewarded on Greyhound with a full 2 seats to myself.
When I got to Port Authority Bus Terminal at 4am (I called it The David Simon Bus Tour from the home of The Wire to the home of The Deuce – almost no one got that joke the two times I said it on shows) I hopped in a cab and went home.
This week see me at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia Nov 2-November 5.
Be sure to check out Keep My Enemies Closer, Israeli Tortoise and Fireside Craps on iTunes.
This weekend was another weekend on the road, which of course meant bus rides, many hours reading and watching TV shows in solitary confinement, solid laughs and disappointing merch sales. However, this weekend was a unique one because it involved working a casino and also going to see my nephew in a soccer tournament. So lets’get into it:
Friday – Empty Seats to Hear JLC Speak
Friday morning I made my way to Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch Transbridge Buses (the RC Cola to Greyhound’s Coca-Cola and Peter Pan’s Pepsi in the competitive world of bus/human trafficking transportation). The ride took just over 3 hours to get to Wilkes-Barre, PA, which was late, but not too late. Unfortunately I missed the local bus that goes to Mohegan Sun (the next one would have required a 3 hour wait in the Wilkes-Barre bus depot, which makes Port Authority look like a Saudi Prince’s palace) so I got a Lyft to the casino. When I arrived at my hotel room I was greeted by a TV that could not spell my name correctly (3rd time in 5 visits), but it was still a nice try. I then ate a feast at Timbers Buffet (comedians get 2 comped tickets to the buffet and since dinner is the most expensive meal it makes #ComedyMogul sense to use them for dinner), limiting myself to only 3 desserts with my meal (#PilotSeasonApproaching) and headed to the show.
It was Labor Day weekend so I expected lighter crowds, but when I arrived at the club there were 2 people (normal shows are over 200 people easy – they almost always pack the room). By Friday showtime the crowd had swelled to an almost unmanageable 33. I did have a very good set and sold a few CDs so I had post-show milkshake money at the Food Court Ben and Jerry’s. Shout out to the husky white kid who made the milkshake – maximum thickness, while still drinkable. Just like the plump, tongue-studded waitresses at the casino Johnny Rockets’ presumably have their skill set advertised, it made sense that this kid had milkshake making talent (Jon Gruden “arm talent” voice). The only downside to the night was that a new bit I am working on as a Dog Profiler (figuring out based on fears and reactions what happened to my dog Cookie, in her past – answer: she was molested by a black UPS driver in Kentucky) went well, but was not perfect enough to make a YouTube clip for you 34 blog readers).
Saturday – Power & Reading
Having recently gotten into the guilty pleasure Power on Starz (the 1st two seasons I watched on Hulu) I had only 2 days left in my week long free trial on Amazon Prime Starz Channel. I had watched season 3 after returning from Ohio and now had 5 episodes left, plus Sunday’s season finale. For those that don’t watch let me explain Power. It is a bad, but entertaining show about a drug dealer trying to go legit as a club owner. I have compared it to Skittles. I like Skittles, but I wouldn’t claim them as a good meal. The sex scenes are absurd (romance novel erotic or steroid-fueled, prison-style hate fu*ks, but not much in between), the violence even more absurd and the way 50 Cent, who has executive produced the show, has clearly influenced plot and character development to keep his character alive for 2 seasons too long all point to a terrible show, but I have enjoyed it nonetheless. And as a bonus, the blessed wife of Carmelo Anthony is on the show in all her La La Land glory, raising the important question: How does a double chin, no finals appearing adulterer keep a woman like that when her options are pretty much limitless? Even funnier is to hear her character in earlier seasons, pre-Melo stripper pregnancy, counseling her friend to leave her cheating husband. So I woke up Saturday, had a cup of black Power coffee and watched 5 episodes bringing me up to date. To balance that out and because I am a man of diversity and versatility I then spent 3 hours reading the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Goldfinch in the casino food court as obesity scooters motored about. So after consuming the artistic equivalents of Nerds candy and kale salad I showered up and went to the club.
The Saturday show was a nice large crowd (relatively to Friday’s) and I sold some more CDs and then did my traditional “run through the casino as fast as possible to my hotel room because I don’t want to be tempted to gamble my cash pay for the weekend” walk to end the comedy portion of the weekend. Normally this is where the recap would end, but this was no ordinary weekend (sung like Sade). Sunday, by a scheduling coincidence, would take me to my nephew’s soccer tournament in Allentown (sung like Billy Joel), PA, just an hour away from Wilkes Barre.
Sunday – I’m Gonna Get You Soccer
Knowing that I would need to get to my nephew’s games in Allentown I looked up buses from Wilkes Barre to Allentown, two small, but significant cities in eastern PA. None exist. I would have had to take a bus back to NYC and then get on a different bus line to go to Allentown. Insane. So, because I would be representing the entire Cauvin family at the tournament on Sunday, my brother got me a Lyft from the hotel to the soccer tournament. I got picked up in a Nissan Juke, which is a car that would not be big enough to act as a casket for me, but I still made due. My driver was on time, the ride was smooth and without delay and the conversation pleasant. So my brother tipped him a Lin Manuel Miranda via the app… but only gave him 4 stars. My brother is one of those guys who I think treats ride app ratings like movie or restaurant ratings. In reality 5 stars is the grade for no complaints (versus a movie where it means instant classic/perfection). When I told him he was a tough grader he said “If he had gotten you booked on Comedy Central I would have given him 5 stars.” So let it be known that 5 stars on Lyft is an impossible grade for any human being to get, let alone a driver, from my brother. Maybe John Wick could make it happen, but other than him, no one.
When I made it to the tournament I saw the different teams and parents. It always feels like there is one parent on every soccer team in America who looks like he is a high ranking member of Blackwater – like during the weekends he is a quiet parent who does cross fit and wears shades and hair gel, even for cloudy youth soccer games, but during the week is ordering black ops for profit in third world countries. But most parents just look like regular folks. My nephew’s team is a diverse mix of black kids, a few white kids, a Latin kid and then two long haired blonde kids (both very good) who looked like a tribute band to Nelson (and the games did in fact take place during AND After The Rain). Their first game, which would get them in the tournament finals if they won was against a team that was physical and 99% white (their best and dirtiest player was a bi-racial kid – he looked like a miniature Aaron Judge, including mohawk, so I felt a begrudging pride). Their defense and goalie tandem consisted of a Spencer, a Remy and a Brooks, so I assume when these kids are not defending the goal they are defending white culture and heritage. Well, thanks to an assist from my nephew, my nephew’s team won a tense 1-0 game (MATCH) to make it to the finals against a team from Maryland called Pipeline. And to quote the philosopher JR Smith, my nephew’s team would indeed get the pipe.
I erroneously/racistly thought a mostly Latino team had made it to the finals. Instead, the Latin team was actually beaten by Pipeline, a mostly white team (multiple kids with highlights in their hair, which is deluxe white, especially in a tournament for 10 year olds). This team, as it turns out would give up their 1st and only goal in 4 tournament games in the last 10 minutes of the finals. They whooped my nephew’s team 6-1. I think with better coaching strategy they could have lost 3-1, but a win was never in the cards. My nephew’s team is coached by a tall, good-looking British man, who probably wooed the parents with his tea and crumpets, but the Pipeline team was coached by two guys who looked furious that their town had cancelled the pee wee football league. The head coach, who gave a very nice speech at the end of the tournament to his team and to my nephew’s team was an insane person on the sideline. And his assistant coach was about 6’3″, 340lbs – you know, that ideal soccer body. My nephew’s team was smaller, more timid and less skilled than this team ( I genuinely think half of the kids would be playing youth football if their town had a team). But at this point I think America should have to call youth sports “Before Black Kids Hit Puberty” Leagues, because these burly white ten year olds that worked over my nephew’s team ain’t all turning into JJ Watt and Rob Gronkowski. But still they were tougher, better coached and stronger, which is basically 95% of winning at youth sports.
So that was the weekend. Meanwhile, back in NYC, my girlfriend gave Cookie a bath and a new toy:
This week I was in Liberty Township, Ohio (a suburb near Cincinnati made for the wealthy people of southern Ohio who love Trump, but don’t like sharing a zip code with the people from The Hills Have Eyes in southern Ohio that also like Trump) to perform at the Liberty Funny Bone (as part of my upcoming tour I will also be performing in Freedom, Illinois; These Colors Don’t Run, Missouri; and Colin Kaepernick is an Ungrateful Nigra, Alabama in September). The trip was one that did not involve Amtrak or Greyhound. Instead I used points on Southwest (which is the phrase you use when you want a woman’s vagina to dry up and collapse on itself like a black hole) to get to Cincinnati (the closest airport to the Township). The trip involved multiple Cheesecake Factory meals, a futuristic and stylish hotel, several killer sets and the usual absence of sidewalks for walking around in fat America. So without further adieu here is the recap:
Thursday – Inauspicious Start
When I got to LaGuardia Airport on Thursday I made my way to the Southwest area to check my suitcase. As I was winding through the roping (there was not much of a line) I saw some balding bro douche just duck under the rope and walk in front of me. I am still at a loss for what to do in these situations. I don’t have a calm, middle ground. I chose to stare at him like I wanted to beat him to death because I felt like my only other option was to actually beat him to death. I genuinely believe that murderers don’t do as much damage to society as people like this douche bag. Murder is an outlier in society. But people who show a lack of courtesy or respect are legion and they eat away at your spirit like termites in the walls of a house. He clearly saw me winding through the ropes and made the calculation that he could cut with no repercussion. And then, restraining myself from calling him a piece of fu*king sh*t and putting him in a choke hold, I start to feel the anger reinforcing itself because my restraint is become a self-fulfilling prophecy for him to get away consequence free. In other words I was ready to make the people of Ohio laugh!
But first was a stop in Chicago. Southwest Airlines basically requires every flight going west to stop in Midway for 4 hours… even if your stop is halfway back in the direction you just came from. So I read for a couple of hours in Midway Airport, but was very disappointed to see that both Potbelly and Ben and Jerry’s had both closed. In their places were a terrible pizza place and a Dunkin Donuts. So I got a Chocolate Long John from DD, which made me realize my 4 favorite donuts from Dunkin Donuts all have overtly homoerotic names:
- Chocolate Long John
- Boston Creme
- Glazed Stick
- Jizz Filled Phallus Surprise
When I landed in Cincinnati just before 4 pm I was picked up by Chris, an employee of the club. We had a pleasant 90 minute drive to the club (horrible traffic). I checked into my hotel, which was super stylish, meaning it looked nice, but had several features that were useless (see my Instagram video from Sunday to see a list).
The 1st show of the week was a good one, though it would end up being the least receptive crowd of the week for me. After selling 1 CD (cheesecake money!) I went back to the hotel to watch the Elian Gonzalez documentary on CNN. I had the volume on my TV at 13 out of a possible 100 and it was 10 pm. Then, at 1025 pm I heard a knock at the door. My mind first went “was that my door?” and with a second knock a minute later I wondered “is there a Liberty Town Whore at my room?” so I got up, put some pants and a shirt (I was in boxer briefs because I was settling in for sleep) and went to the door. I was greeted by a short Latino man wearing hotel gear who informed me that he had received noise complaints about how loud my television was. He then immediately said he would inform the people that they were wrong because he could not even hear my TV from the hallway when my door was closed. When he left I just turned off the TV. With the Gestapo atmosphere I was not longer inspired to watch a documentary about a 6 year old boy’s quest for freedom. If I cannot be free in a place called Liberty, is anyone really free?
Friday and Saturday – Cheesecake, Comedy and Sidewalks to Nowhere
On Friday I tried to walk to an LA Fitness 1.9 miles from the hotel. On Saturday I tried to walk to a Catholic Church (St Maximilian “Catholic Mamba” Kolbe Church to be exact). Both missions to better myself physically and spiritually failed. Why? Because America is a series of fat, car-addicted, sidewalk-less places. Making it to either place would have involved risking my life along highways and roads so I opted to live, though perhaps being a martyr would have been interesting:
Saint Jean-Louis Cauvin, died battling America’s obesity when he was hit by a Ford truck on an Ohio highway. His two miracles are turning a profit on a feature gig in Detroit that paid $300 for 5 shows, with no hotel provided and for taking an Amtrak for 30 hours without contracting any foot-borne illnesses.
I also made trips to the Cheesecake Factory on both days (they are donating 25 cents of every piece of cheesecake sold to charity this month, so call me the American Red Velvet Cross). On the second day my waitress was a pleasant young lady with an ample bosom and derriere. To me this felt like overkill by The Cheesecake Factory. You had me at “Cheesecake and 835 page menu.” There is no need to complicate this and turn it into a soft core porn where I cannot decide what I want more, the Hazelnut cheesecake or the waitress. I am thinking of making a Cheesecake Factory-themed porn where it starts with a busty woman delivering food, but then she leaves and I end up moaning in delight as I eat cheesecake and unbutton my pants, but only to make room for my expanding stomach, filled with cheesecake. #CheesecakeBae
The 4 shows were great between Friday and Saturday. Made some sales, made a few fans, blah blah blah. Here’s a highlight reel of various jokes and interactions with the crowds from the Saturday shows:
Sunday – Noneday
Nothing much to report (mainly because I am writing this at lunch in a Starbucks and all I plan on doing to day is sketch writing and making one more trip to the brothel known as The Cheesecake Factory.
This weekend I headed back to Clifton Park, NY for a private party show. Last year a comedian buddy from Albany invited me up to do the party and it turned out to be a great show (here is last year’s recap), so when asked to do it again this year I said yes without hesitation. There were several similarities to last year (though I did a new 35 minutes out of 40 minutes from last year) so I will try to focus on the different from last year. I took Amtrak up to Albany which was pleasant and then waited around the station for Frank (the other comedian) to pick me up. And that is where our story begins.
A Storm Gathers
When Frank pulled up he had his 12 year old daughter with him who was going to a different party. So we were on good verbal behavior (only discussions of soft core pornography). After he dropped her off we went to Starbucks to map out our sets. I had a black coffee and Frank had a citrus mint tea, which I thought could get you beat to death in upstate NY. Obviously there has been some real progress made on social issues (#MAGA). While we were in Starbucks the Heavens opened up and a ferocious storm was unleashed. We became concerned for the party. Not that we wouldn’t get paid, but that the tent they have for the party would not withstand the storm or that there would a downhill flood (the house and tent area is at the bottom of a decline on the property). Well, that was the first and last time I underestimated Wayne Manor.
When we arrived at the house the rain had almost fully stopped. And we had underestimated the size of the property. There is a long downward slope to the front lawn and driveway, but it is so big that there is a nice 30 yards of flat land at the end of the front law so even if there was runoff there was enough of a buffer before the area where the tent was. And not a drop of water inside the large tent. Well done Dave! (Dave is the owner of the home and Clifton Park’s Bruce Wayne). So we dragged all the equipment down to the tent and while Frank set it all up I would look up from my plate of food (delicious chicken!) and ask, with little intention of doing anything, “need help?” Then it was showtime.
Laughs, Tyattoos and Dessert!
Frank started the show off and did well, despite the DJ ambushing him into starting the show before he was ready (maybe that is karma payback for every time a comedian has started a bar show without people realizing there would be a show where they are drinking). He did well and then I got on. I did a lot of new material, but my new bit (which needs work) on women with tattoos was a real highlight. Here is a rough approximation of the bit and exchange:
Me: As a mixed race person I am still looking for that type of woman who I can date as a fetish, but also discriminate against by not taking her seriously. I am thinking tatted up women are that group. Like just so inked up that it excites me and feels dangerous, but to a level where she definitely cannot have my kids or meet my parents.
Teacher: Iye hyave lots of tyats (trying to replicate the Vermont accent)
Teacher: Well Iye yam a teacher so Iye cyant hyave visible tyats but my entire sayde is tyattted up!
Me: But I cannot see them so that means you still respect your job and having a normal life. I am talking about a woman with sleeves and neck tattoos – a level of ink that says “fu*k my future.” That’s the level of fetish I am talking about.
*She then showed her substantial thigh tattoo*
Me: Well, give me a second. I am just going to text my girlfriend that we need to see other people.
I ended my set with Trump and then ate 4 mini cannolis and a couple of cookies. With that Frank and I got paid and he drove me to… the Greyhound station.
I got to the Albany bus station at 1030pm for the 11 pm bus. The bus didn’t arrive until 1130pm. I sat down next to a man on the full bus who smelled like the 2 worst smelling African cab drivers formed a super group with the 2 worst smelling Indian cab drivers (NStink?), did a 90 minute Bikram yoga workout and then rented out space in this guy’s seat. Not an exaggeration – my eyes teared up and I had one quasi-gag. Sadly, the driver was super slow and we arrived in NYC at 215am. The only thing I am ashamed of is that when I got home and my girlfriend was sleeping peacefully I got into bed without showering despite carrying at least 4 diseases from the Greyhound ride. But we are still together so unless I run into a woman with sleeves and neck tattoos, nothing can stop us!
This weekend I was (technically still am as I have begun this in a Starbucks 90 minutes before the final Sunday show) in Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy and home to two Amtrak train stations (more on this shortly). More specifically I was in Short Pump Town- arguably the worst town name in history where there is a mall containing the Richmond Funny Bone and other stores. I was staying in the comedy condo across the quasi-highway from the Mall. I was opening for Guy Torre, who I have opened for before. And like any trip down South the people of America fell into three groups – those that look like porn stars, those that look like they have Type 9 Diabetes and immigrants, who appeared to be the only people with average body types. The weather has been very hot (at one point I asked my balls if they were cutting weight for a boxing or wrestling match) and the comedy was very good. So with that brief road map, let’s dive in to another comedy trip:
Thursday – Why Does Richmond Have 2 Train Stations?
When I booked my trip to Richmond I selected “Main Street” as the station I would go to. As it turns out that station is less popular, has less frequent train stops and is a longer ride to the club than the earlier Richmond Station stop of “Staples Mill Road.” Maybe it is a Greenland/Iceland situation where they tell outsiders that there is a Main Street station to draw them away from all the wonders of Staples Mill Road. But I learned in time to get off at SMR.
When I arrived on Thursday I was greeted by Jason, the manager of the club and, as it turns out, my roommate for the weekend. He splits his apartment with the club. Admittedly when I saw my bed I was less than thrilled. It looked like something that Child Services or Special Victims Unit would want to take photos of before letting me move my stuff in. But the apartment was comfortable and one across-the-highway-sprint away from all that Short Pump, Virginia has to offer.
Thursday’s show went really well. The laughter was loud. The jokes killed. And the CD sales after the show were zero. But making up for it was getting to know the staff of the club. The sound guy (Buz) is a dead ringer for Rex Tillerson and that made me laugh. Also, one of the employees of the club, Sho, won me over when, during an in depth discussion of In Living Color, he called David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson the “Klay and Draymond” of the show (the implication being that Steph and Durant were the Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans of the show). Now, if you know me you know I love In Living Color, Basketball and analogies. Basically at that moment I knew that if I were gay I might have met my soul mate. (Fast forward to next week when I am yelling at my girlfriend – “WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE SHO?!!”
Friday – Girls’ Trip and Cheesecake Factory Bloat
On Friday I decided to take it easy so I went to see Girls’ Trip (I give it 3.5 Yassss Queens out of 5) and had an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (salmon, broccoli and then a very reasonable 1400 calorie piece of chocolate cheesecake). Apparently all that caloric intake had a positive effect because I crushed both sets that night. And as a bonus, my brand new manager showed up with his wife to the second show. It was their 11th wedding anniversary so either this dude is going to be the Jerry Maguire to my Rod Tidwell, or my comedy career is going to begin having negative impacts on personal lives besides my own.
But the highlight of the night was my exchange with a woman after the first show (which as it stands now was the best set of the weekend).
Terrible Fan Lady: You was pretty good. You’ll get better.
Me: Ah thanks
TFL: You was pretty good. You’ll get better.
Me: I am actually pretty happy where I’m at right now.
TFL: You’ll get better. And you need to get you a real girlfriend.
Me: Wow – 15 seconds to shit on the two of the most important things in my life. That’s impressive.
TFL: You was pretty good.
Fade to black.
Saturday – Get Swoll and Get CDs Sold
Saturday I ventured over to the amazing gym that comedians are allowed free access to during the week. It’s about a 15 minute walk from the condo and it is magnificent. In New York City, a gym as large and comprehensive as this one would probably run around $8500.00 per month. Of course in Richmond it only costs 3 eggs and a loaf of bread. Had a great workout and then had two more great shows. On the second show it was announced that Doug Williams, Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Washington Redskins was in attendance. I did not get to see him, but hopefully he enjoyed my set and will be telling all his friends. I also sold $90 worth of CDs, which would not be good normally, but since they were selling like laser discs the previous two nights I went to sleep happy (after asking a gas station attendant to turn the money into 90 $1 bills so I could Indecent Proposal myself to sleep.
Sunday – Detroit, Joke Bombs and Game of Thrones
(resuming writing Monday morning at Starbucks)
On Sunday I went to see Detroit, which was the story of a young Carrot Top who becomes a cop to terrorize black people in a hotel in 1967. It was a flawed movie, but very intense once it moved past its clunky first 40 minutes. I would give it a B+. Of course during the movie, the headliner for the weekend Guy Torre, asked me if I wanted to attend Washington Redskins training camp with him, so I missed that. But on the plus side, former comedian and Richmond-area resident Mike Way saw me in the theater and we had a pleasant conversation/movie-date. It was like the poorest man’s version possible of a Bill Murray-esque story for Mike.
For Sunday’s show I decided to try a few new jokes. Two went well, one was a shit show (hint – the one that involves sex with kids did not go over well).
- “Why does everyone in the South either look like they do porn or like they have Type 9 diabetes. My trip to the gym nearby was full of jacked tattooed dudes, women with big fake tits and people oozing over their scooters. You need some normal people here.”
- “Why are Southern women so flirty? Every conversation they need to make physical contact and they sound too interested and seductive – a woman at the movie theater asked me if the book I was reading was good in a way that felt more like the beginning of a porn.”
- “A guy once told me I looked like Jared Fogle. And that was before we knew he raped kids. I was offended then. Some things you just shouldn’t say. I don’t care if I am banging a 10 year old, holding a pair of giant khakis with my free hand while being fed a 6 inch veggie sub – you don’t tell me I look like Jared Fogle.”
After the show I went back to the condo to watch Game of Thrones and it was glorious. It was like the fantasy genre version of finally getting Eminem’s rap battle at the end of 8 Mile.
So thank you Richmond, Short Pump, the beautiful people and the obese people who all make up the capital of the confederacy. See you in 2018. Time to get home.
This weekend continued by July of No Bookings Tour (#JNBT), so it was time to make my way to Martha’s Vineyard for my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday party that my brother put together. Given the peak season, I was still pretty happy to secure a solid rate of sodomy from hotels.com for a bed & breakfast for two nights. I also booked the Seastreak Ferry for my girlfriend and me, which conveniently leaves midtown Manhattan and arrives in Martha’s Vineyard 5 The Perfect Storm hours later. The cost was $240 round trip per person, which is reasonable except for the word “ferry.” The word ferry makes me think $22.50 round trip and kids travel free – not Amtrak Accela to Boston prices. And on an ironic note, there is no better symbol for my comedy career that there was a comedy festival a short ride away from Martha’s Vineyard in Nantucket, where many comics were being paid to perform while I was spending a small fortune to feel like I was an unwitting guest on a hidden camera show. And with that intro, here we go!
The Perfect Ferry Storm
When my girlfriend and I boarded the Ferry it was cloudy with on-again, off-again rain. We got two seats together on the lower deck with books, podcasts and sandwiches ready for our ocean adventure. The Ferry was full of men in pastel colored pants and shorts and women and men trying to hog 4 seat tables to themselves. The boat left on time and despite the heavy clouds and moderate rain the ride was nice and smooth for about two hours. And then at the halfway point we entered the Atlantic. Here is an accurate photograph of how my girlfriend and I felt for the next two hours:
As someone who is almost never on boats and hates flying I was still surprised at how anxious the up and downs made me. I never wanted to puke but the physical and mental tension I had as a constant for 2 hours made me very tired. But we arrived in Martha’s Vineyard safely just after 9pm and made our way to the 1720 House, the bed & breakfast I had booked.
Indiana J-L and the Temple of Bugs
The door was open when we arrived (I believe this is a vacation town’s self fulfilling prophecy – if we leave everything open then we cannot have crime!) and our key to the “Yellow Room” was sitting there waiting for us. Interesting fact: the place is called the 1720 House because it was built in 1720 when it was illegal to make a house for people taller than 5’10”. I have dealt with short doorways and stairwells my whole life, but the additional Fear Factor addition here was that from every low hanging lamp from the entrance to the stairwell to the hallways to our room has spiders and bugs hanging so I quickly had to turn into Rocky Balboa bobbing and weaving to avoid spider/bug essence in my mouth. When we entered my room I assumed the rooms would be bug free, but I proceeded to kill a spider in the room and in our bathroom. I actually almost asked some of the bugs to chip in to offset some of the costs of the financial gang bang hotels.com perpetrated on me.
Sidebar – if you are one of those “I don’t kill spiders because they actually kill the other bugs” stop it. Congrats, you would leave Saddam Hussein in power to suppress the good and bad elements, but I believe in the unfettered freedom to live without Daddy Long Legs walking over my face for $300 a night! I will allow the next Yellow Room (named for the quantity of urine you emit when seeing the bugs) administration to handle the Mosquito ISIS that emerges in the absence of strongmen spiders.
To date my most popular Instagram photos are now the photos of me in the tiny house so if you don’t follow me on Instagram (@jlcomedy) then here is a glimpse of me and various spots in and around the house.
My brother rented a (very nice) house in Martha’s Vineyard for his wife for 2 weeks. She is working on a new book so the house gives her 2 kid-free weeks to relax, sleep and work unencumbered. When I walked in the house I immediately offered money to be able to sleep on the floor for the night. And I could be mistaken but I think as I was wiping away the remaining Tarantula anal leakage on my forehead from the 1720 House I could see a look in my girlfriend’s eye that asked “Why did I get the Eric Roberts of the family?”
The party was really nice, the food delicious and I then got an ice cream sundae from a local shoppppppe afterwards (Martha’s Vineyard has 44,076 ice cream shopppppppes) so it was a nice night. I was in such a good mood I actually high-fived two of the spiders when I arrived back at the 1720 House.
The ferry ride back was a little better than the ride out and we got back to my place where my dog Cookie went nuts when she saw my girlfriend and gave me a head nod when she saw me (#Family #Respect #Blessed). We then watched Game of Thrones as I scanned my bags and clothing for any trace of stowaways from the 1720 House. None. This house is clear.
It cannot be argued that Donald Trump is intellectually, morally, emotionally and mentally unequipped to be president. He doesn’t read (he prefers briefings with “killer graphics” according to a member of his cabinet) and he seems to have no greater than a 7th grader’s knowledge of our institutions. He has no moral compass beyond “is it good for me” and as a parent he seems to have only passed on a name and equally shitty character. Now of course, you can make an argument for this man as a human being or as president, but in either case you are wrong. In baseball when a player has all the necessary skills to succeed he is referred to as a “5 tool player.” In Trump’s case he is the exact opposite – as a president he is a “5 failure tool” (sorry if this feels like I am pulling a Tom Friedman – trying to coin my own phrase). Emotionally unstable, morally bankrupt, selfish, stupid and arrogant – literally a Voltron of the 5 traits you would want least in a leader – and he has all 5 in abundance. But this is not about stating the facts. They are not in dispute among anyone not brainwashed or brain dead. This is about the people who don’t hate Trump and don’t support him, but for those faux intellectual warriors on social media I call the “One Dollar Bet” people.
On The Price is Right when contestants bid on the price of items to be selected to come to stage the last person will often bet $1. The reason for this is any bid that goes over the price of the item is disqualified. Therefore, if you bid $1 all you are saying is “I think everyone went over so even if I am the farthest away from the price of the item, I win by default.” That is sometimes a good strategy on the game show, but when discussing issues of the day these people act like their $1 “objectivity” lends them some sort of intellectual heft. In fact they look just as stupid as the wrong side, but without the passionate support to at least provide justification for their stupidity.
These are the people that used to say “I am not a scientist” when it comes to climate change. WOW – how brave. By saying you aren’t a scientist ($1 bet) you now have absolved yourself from listening to or believing scientists? Maybe the creationist CEO of the oil company is right that climate change is a hoax! Maybe Trump is right that it is a Chinese hoax – I DON’T KNOW BECAUSE I AM NOT A SCIENTIST.
Now these folks have evolved into the “I don’t like Trump. Heck I didn’t vote for him, but both sides are bad! Hillary was bad too!” Oh shut up you One Dollar Betting Bitch! First off a vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is not even a $1 bet. It is more like when Drew Carey or Bob Barker called your name to come on down and instead of coming down you went outside the studio and burned your name tag. But now these morons have evolved from the types that question scientists’ on climate change (AND PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND THAT YOU BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE IF YOU ARE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE – CLIMATE CHANGE IS AN EXAMPLE, NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF HOW YOU ARE INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST) to now demanding rigorous evidence from every commenter on social media:
- There seems to be collusion with Russia – WHAT IS YOUR EVIDENCE? – Ummm, common sense
- (a few months later) There have been contacts with Russian – SAYS WHO – Ummmm Donald Trump Jr.
- (a few days later) The emails say they intended to collect dirt on Hillary thinking it was Russian government intel – SAYS WHO – DO YOU HAVE DNA EVIDENCE AND VIDEO TAPE PROOF? WHERE IS IT? YOU ARE REALLY REACHING HERE!
This kind of shit just keeps happening. The $1 bet people keep puffing out their chests like they are Copernicus challenging whether the Sun revolves around the Earth, but they are really just Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun insisting there is nothing to see while the store behind him explodes. You can have your vote and your opinions – but stop pretending that ignoring facts and being a simpleton makes you an intellectual heavyweight. It just makes you complicit in an administration that should have an approval rating of a terror attack instead of in the high 30s.
And this goes for a lot of independents as well (the Kings and Queens of the $1 bet in many cases). Standing outside the parties may win you moral points and (for left leaning indies) make you feel a strong kinship with Bernie (who still insists on using as much of the Democratic establishment he can while not joining so he can just bitch about it, keeping up his brand). So keep complaining about the system, remaining an independent (I would be curious how many independents actually show wide variance in the parties they support from election to election) and be sure to complain about the parties not letting you vote in primaries as you insist on not joining the parties. I am not saying some people are not truly independent and do not have valid concerns, but I genuinely believe a lot of independents care more about feeling independent than actually maintaining some sort of political independence.
But at the end of the day yes, it is all Hillary’s fault. Because “any decent candidate would have crushed Trump.” But if that is true, then why after watching President Sleeper Cell destroy America’s credibility from within and put millions of people’s health care and safety at risk every time he has a thought, are his ratings still around 40%? Maybe the country, full of hate and morons has its own issues and the cure may not be “Hillary was bad too.” But keep making your $1 bets if it makes you feel good. I am sure you will get some nice parting gifts.