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:
I was at the Mohegan Sun in Wilkes Barre, PA this weekend, so I guess my Cal Ripken-esque gig-less streak has been broken, but rest assured I am a fierce competitor and am committed to starting a new streak this week. I love the Mohegan Sun gig because you always get a great room, and it is like a mini-legit casino (the title is supposed to be a James Bond pun on Casino Royale, since the new Bond film opened this week). The comedy club is nice and I have generally done well so nothing to fret. I will just give you a few small highlights before sharing some clips of new bits that went well over the weekend (FYI – this is going up on a Sunday because Monday will be the all out blitz for my Trump-Sanders-Obama video – this week’s podcast will go up Wednesday instead of Tuesday:
- Jokes about every group went well except one: women. Now I made jokes about big women, but this line, that attacked women’s overall role as financial beneficiaries on dates, fell flatter than anything I said all weekend: “Valentine’s Day is sort of weird – in honor of boyfriends and husbands paying for dinner all year, they should pay more money for extra date – that is a weird way of saying thanks to us. I mean do you ask your Mom to cook you an extra special breakfast when it’s Mother’s Day?” – It felt like Daffy Duck following Bugs Bunny on stage. Crickets.
- Got to earn extra loot by doing a firehouse gig before Saturday’s show. Took my first Uber ride and despite making 2 wrong turns the guy still asked for a 5 star review. I was leaning 4 stars, but the guy was an African immigrant living in Donald Trump-loving Pennsylvania country so before he gets shot by police or chased out of town by a mob I figured I could give him a charity 5 stars.
- Got paid in cash for all my shows and some Uber reimbursement, but still managed to walk by all the tables without plopping it down and seeing if I could leave with headliner money. So thanks to my caution I still have cell phone, Con Ed and health insurance money for the month. What I am saying is that I am a rock star.
- OK, so without further adieu here are 3 bits from this weekend that I am very proud of. Hope you enjoy them, share them and subscribe to the channel:
This weekend marked the last scheduled comedy work of the year for me (and technically the last scheduled work of my life if you check the barren wasteland that is the calendar page of my website, but I am mildly confident it will not stay that way) and it was a classic J-L gig full of positives, negatives and sad transportation. The trip began with Martz Trailways – the Monkees to Greyhound’s Beatles. The shows were at Mohegan Sun in Wilkes Barre, PA. The first thing to mention is that the casino is really nice. It is how small casinos should do it – make your casino a smaller site of luxury instead of making a big, cheap, shitty casino. People would rather have a small dose of a luxury hotel with nice restaurants, bars and table games then some behemoth of slot machines and crappy buffets (the buffet at MSWB by contrast is quite good). But before I can get to the casino I had to take the aforementioned Martz Trailways.
There are a few signs that your town or city is struggling. One is if there is an Ebola breakout. Another is if the girls who reside there are routinely beaten for attending school. But a worse sign than either of those is if Greyhound buses choose not to service your town or city. And Greyhound does not go to Wilkes Barre. So when one arrives at the bus depot at Wilkes Barre it sort of resembles a group of overfed walkers from The Walking Dead. After a relatively pleasant three hour bus ride (as pleasant as I can be with my knees firmly lodged into the encroaching seat in front of me I arrived and waited for the local bus to arrive.
Pulling up to a nice casino on a public bus is probably exactly how the Rat Pack did it in Las Vegas, so naturally I felt like a real big shot when I stepped inside the Mohegan Sun.
The first night the show was tremendous though I had a moment that made me feel really guilty. One of my jokes that I recently wrote, based on an actual encounter at a Panera Bread in October of this year, is about a confrontation between an older man and a young woman. I described the man as a “Clint Eastwood type who had the look of a man who had killed a bunch of teenagers in some foreign village.” It got a decent laugh, though that is not one of the big laugh lines in the bit anyway. But coming off stage (to tremendous applause #Blessed) a man in a motorized scooter stopped me and said “You were very good, but we didn’t go over there to kill kids. That wasn’t right.” And for one of the few times in over 11 years of doing comedy I felt really bad. Obviously I did not mean the reference as an indictment of veterans, but of course the imagery would be graphic to someone who actually had been in Vietnam.
So I was feeling bad waiting outside to sell CDs after the show (sold 3 #ComedyMogul) and I saw the man drive his scooter (is that how you describe that?) to the bathroom and then he just got off it and walked with relative ease to the bathroom! Knowing that he could walk made me feel less bad about the joke for some reason so the night ended on a high note and I celebrated with a large chocolate milkshake (#ComedyMogul).
The next day I spent in my room writing two of my best sketches ever. Look for the first one on December 16th (a novel look at the violence affecting black men in America) and the other one in early January (me as Joel Osteen). I will leave it at that, but I have missed the days of being able to just sit and write for 5 or 6 hours in a row. I can really crank out good shit when left alone by people trying to get me to pay my bills.
The Saturday show was very good and I sold one CD after which I promptly used to buy a large chocolate milkshake ($4 change left over #ComedyMogul). The club paid me in cash, which given my love of gambling was dangerous, but for the second trip to MSWB in a row I avoided all gambling. After all, trying to make stand up comedy a career is a much bigger gamble than anything you can put on the roulette wheel.
The next morning woke up early and went to the Wilkes Barre station which at 645 am is fortunately cleared of walkers.
So there it is folks. Another year of stand up and travel is over. Now it is time to get into the office and help some real #moguls make money so I can continue my #ComedyMogul lifestyle (extra chicken on my lunch salad).
This past weekend I was performing at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, PA (normally I post my comedy recaps on Monday, but had to bump up this week’s Oscar recap podcast to Monday). I always love doing casino gigs. Not because they are always great crowds, but because even the weirdest, crappiest (pun intended), in the middle of nowhere casino still has a standard level of accommodations that shame almost all other road comedy accommodations. It is a sliding scale of trade offs that comedians often have to do: Hey this club is great (no room); hey this club is really good (semen stained comedy condo accommodations); hey this club sucks! (can’t wait to be back because you put me up in a Hampton Inn and I am desperate for money). But casinos are always a win, no matter how good or bad the crowds are (the crowds were solid at MSWB, so this is not a tease to some nightmare story from the weekend). So here is the recap:
I took the Martz Trailways bus to Wilkes-Barre. Always a good sign when Greyhound tells a town, “No, we are either to scared to travel to your town or your town is too insignificant for Greyhound to service.” The bus trip was uneventful, but the Martz Trailways bus depot in Wilkes-Barre was anything but uneventful. It made the average crowd at NYC’s Port Authority Bus Terminal look like the cast of Downton Abbey. It looked like the people from The Hills Have Eyes had had an orgy of unprotected sex a few decades ago with the zombies from The Walking Dead. The kind of sad that makes you feel sorry for some of the people if you were not also simultaneously frightened.
The casino was really really nice (other than the stream of tobacco entering my lungs). All the accommodations were great, the buffet was delicious (though I did flaunt my comedy wealth by eating at Johnny Rockets one night), but rather than tell you here are some pics of some of the highlights:
The first show on Friday was solid. Sold zero CDs, but delivered at least 40 firm handshakes after the show. I was still feeling the effects of a cold and was a little lower energy than normal, but I still, like any veteran entertainer, blame the crowd for me not selling well. Crowd was good though. The second show (Saturday) though was a full house (450 versus show #1’s 150) and was great. Other than the woman who kept muttering possible hate speech about President Obama before I did my impression they were a great crowd, as evidenced by the two CDs I sold after the show. That is an increase of INFINITE percent over the zero I sold on show 1. Then I was paid cash by the club and managed to walk by all the tables without losing any of the money before leaving the casino the next morning. #Hero
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I had two shows in venues that are classier than the places I generally perform in. The first was Thursday at Tenjune, a New York City club and then at the Mohegan Sun Casino on Saturday. Considering the last couple of bar gigs I had, simply the fact that no death threats were involved was a major upgrade. Here’s the recap:
The gig at Tenjune, which I believe is an ancient term from the Far East that roughly translates to “douchey ‘brahs’ with loot and coke,” was actually organized by Williams College alumni to highlight the charity work of a couple of alums. I was the comedy interlude in between the open bar hour and the Tenjune gang rape known as “cash bar.” I was actually surprised to even get in to the club because I just thought these clubs took place entirely outside. My experience is that you show up with one or two friends, a large black man (these clubs do not seem to hire white bouncers because black men with freedom are the only thing known to effectively intimidate the merchants of arrogance known as investment bankers), looks at you, notices that you are not famous or accompanied by eight women and then says “nah.” Apparently these establishments do let people inside.
The event was from 8pm to 11pm so that the club could scrub out our liberal arts college nerdiness before the cool crowd showed up. I knew I was in a different league when I went to the bathroom. When I entered the bathroom there was, predictably, a West African man with an assortment of colognes and gums. He was on his cell phone and standing in front of a urinal. I said excuse me. He glanced at me and continued talking into his phone. I said excuse me again and he finally moved. I was impressed, “Man these clubs are so cool and exclusive, even their bathroom attendants are arrogant pieces of sh*t!” Maybe I was not on the list for the urinal. Or maybe he knew I was a comedian.
After catching up with a few friends I took to the stage aroun 915 and did 20 minutes. It went great. I was really happy with the set and even happier to have the club comp me a few drinks because when I actually paid for one I needed a bank loan. I am not saying it was too expensive, but when I asked one of the bouncers how much a bottle was for a table our of pure intellectual curiosity, he said “Your first born. And $550.”
An even cooler thing than being one-upped by a bathroom attendant happened after the set. I was talking to some younger alums and a woman from the Class of 2009 (every time someone mentioned a class after 2008 from college I unnecessarily did math in my head to wonder if it was even legal for me to speak to them – worrying signs of both old age and saying perverted things on a daily basis) asked me about my lawyering days (I mentioned being a lawyer in my set as sort of a “this is what can happen if you fu*k up a Williams education/scared straight” sort of message). I told her my first job out of law school was as an ADA in the Bronx. She said, “Oh my Dad worked in the Bronx.” As my slightly impaired mind started to piece it together I asked, “as what?” She said, “He’s a judge,” and before I could ask (my brain was digging through information 6 years old) she said Judge Barrett. Here is what transpired next:
Me: Holy sh*t!!!! He was the judge me and my bureau were in front of every day!
Judge B’s Daughter (JBD): Shut the fu*k up (if the Judge reads this she actually said “heck”)
Me: Judge STEVEN Barrett!
Both of us: Shrieking like teenage girls.
Me: Oh my God – I forgot – Judge Barrett was so nice to me and it was definitely because he told me in my first year that his daughter got into Williams and he was so happy. It had to be that because I was a shi*ty lawyer!
JBD: And I remember him speaking nicely of this ADA from Williams!
ME: This is awesome! (this may be why people of my ilk don’t get into clubs like this. No one has ever called anything close to this mundane as “awesome” in a shrine of coolness like Tenjune).
(Contrast this entire exchange with my set three days earlier where I nearly got into a fight to the death at a midtown pub – COMEDY!!!)
We spoke for a little bit more, basically in awe of this tremendous coincidence. Somehow I brought up Breaking Bad (I have an amazing array of avenues with which to introduce that show into conversation – example: Hey, did you see that Obama’s poll numbers are down? “Yeah, but you know what’s up – Breaking Bad’s ratings!”) and she informed me that Judge Barrett was a big fan of Breaking Bad. All I could think was, damn – if I was still an ADA in the Bronx, not only would I have health care paid for by NY, a steady salary,some pride and a mother who did not worry about me as much, but also ANOTHER thing besides Williams College for Judge Barrett and me to bond over. Then JBD told me that the Judge was also a fan of Hawaii Five-0 and the good feelings subsided.
So Tenjune went well and like they say the best things in life are free because I did not get paid a cent. But I was comped three gin and tonics, which according to Tenjune is a $458 value so I guess I made out like a bandit.
Saturday was a trip to Mohegan Sun (via Greyhound/Peter Pan bus lines in conjunction with my endorsement for Poverty) to open for Michael Winslow, also known as the sound guy from Police Academy. When I arrived to Mohegan Sun a woman at the casino said, “You look just like Dwayne The Rock Johnson.” I said, “Yeah I get that. And Adam Sandler” And then she howled with laughter. And I cried inside. Naturally no one would confuse me with either of those multi-millionaires at Mohegan Sun for a number of reasons. Ballers don’t arrive on Greyhound, don’t make their first meal at the casino a trip to Johnny Rockets and definitely don’t play $5 on the penny slot machine and call it a night.
I went to check in and was informed that I was to go to the VIP check in. I then asked them to send a reference letter to the bouncers at Tenjune to let them know that I am, in fact, a VIP. I went up to my room, wrote out my set and then soaked up the Mohegan Sun ambiance:
- I enjoy casinos. They are like the south. People are either bringing their A game physically or their F game. Not a lot of people putting in B+ effort. That is where I come in. My fashion line/taste could simply be called B-
- Asians dominate the casino! If you love Asians casinos are a great place (I don’t mean if you want to have sex with ironing board shaped Asian women because you “like” tiny, boyish figures i.e. you have not yet come to grips with your homosexuality). They are everywhere. And don’t take this negatively. It is just a fact. Which I guess means if you really hate Asians, Mohegan Sun is also a great place because you get to see lots of Asians losing money.
- A Ben And Jerry’s open until 330 am – noted.
So I got to the Cabaret theater, which seemed like it held 400 or so people (much bigger than a comedy club of that same capacity, but the people are not herded together like slaves on a slave ship to maximize club profit). The crowd was full by showtime which was cool, but Michael Winslow was not there yet. He arrived at 915 but said the 6 credit introduction I was given to say when bringing him (only a two person show so I was an emcee/feature hybrid) was “too much.” So he accommodated me by typing up an 11 credit introduction with jokes for me to read before bringing him up. And he typed with only his index fingers. So as soon as it printed I ran out on stage with it like it was a Supreme Court order to stop the execution of Troy Davis (too soon?) and the show began.
I did my set and made only two mistakes. One was a momentum killing new jokes about halfway through the set. They were warmed up and I sabotaged myself. It was like DeNiro in Heat when he is about to escape with his girlfriend, but makes the fatal mistake of going after Waingro – success was right in front of me and I took it off course.
I got the crowd back pretty quickly though and then a few minutes later I got the 5 minute light. Then I made a decision that ruined my weekend. I opted to end with my Good WIll Hunting bit, which does well in clubs, but for a big theater-sized space was an iffy choice. It got laughs throughout, but the final line fell completely flat. And that was it. For that crowd my Obama closer was the obvious choice and I just didn’t do it. Part of me thought, maybe I will have time and part of me must have wanted to to take the risk (the House won per usual). I knew better and yet I closed with the wrong bit. I felt like the pitcher in this historic baseball game from 2001:
But unlike that scenario no one was clapping when I delivered my final pitch. They eventually clapped in recognition for the 26 minutes that we shared that were enjoyable but sometimes, like a sporting event, it does not matter how well you played the game if your final play loses the game.
Michael Winslow went up and crushed and I have to say, his sound effects are frighteningly good (it’s been a while since I saw Spaceballs or Police Academy). After the show some people went out of there way to tell me I was awesome which felt good. Perhaps they went to the bathroom for my last three minutes.
I ended the night how any comedian living free in a casino for a night would end – by walking around looking at machines and tables that would get me in trouble and then settling on an ice cream sundae from Ben and Jerry’s (at midnight, so my finding out that they close at 330 am was a little over-confident on my part). I sat alone on a bench while eating it and people-watched while people watched me. What I realized is that if you are a grown man with a bizarre look of comfort and confidence sitting alone on a bench in a casino eating ice cream people (esp women) will only give you two looks: 1) is that guy special needs? or 2) that guy is the coolest customer in this place. I got plenty of both.
So thanks to the Williams College alums at the show, the people with kind words after the Mohegan Sun gig and the Ben and Jerrys folks. They helped make yet another week of comedy a fun and interesting experience. Just kidding, comedy is still misery.
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