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 weekend I was in DC to emcee some shows for Sebastian Maniscalco, which meant, per my usual DC arrangements, rooming with my 5 year old nephew for the weekend. He has been pretty cool about me cramping his bachelor lifestyle in the past and this weekend was no different. Of course arriving at home at 1am each night and then waking up to a fully alert nephew at 615am each morning to discuss soccer and/or dinosaurs (my nephew’s two favorite topics, though showing him highlights of Vince Carter on YouTube may have given my nephew a new interest to supplant his Carmelo Anthony/JR Smith fan club membership) is not ideal, but so be it. My younger nephew’s motto is “I do more before 9 am than my lazy, underachieving uncle does all day.” My older nephew, who is up even earlier on a consistent basis, which is why the two ‘phews don’t share a room, has been described as Mel Kiper Jr. as having a “great motor.” I feel like Shaq the Buick salesman trying to keep up with two Russell Westbrooks.
On Saturday I went to watch the younger nephew play soccer where he has been dominating (they instituted a rule, based on his dominance, that if you score two goals you then need to go to defense). However, I was meeting my brother at the game and I arrived before him, which was a real wake up call. Like most adult males I have a hard time coming to grips that I am a grown up. I am 33 years old, but it still feels like an insult when people call me “sir.” My brain keeps telling me that I am just out of college and still a young buck, but the fatigue under my eyes and expanded waist line tell me I am a man. But it is a true rude awakening when you arrive at a park by yourself and are watching a bunch of 5 year olds that you don’t know play soccer. That is when it hits you, through a series of curious stares from parents, that you are in fact an adult man. Thankfully my nephew arrived shortly thereafter and I stopped handing out Second Mile Charity fliers.
My nephew dropped a hat trick, including a coast-to-coast third goal after being placed on defense (I particularly liked it when he said “fu*k your rules losers” or that might have just been me yelling that). I am now searching for whoever the youth soccer equivalent of Bela Karolyi is so I can get this kid to maximize his potential. His initials are JLC and it is high time a JLC bring pride to our family, instead of shame.
But the main point of the visit to DC, other than to buy discounted cigarettes for my mother (I assume at some point Mayor Bloomberg is going to make me a poster child for a crackdown on people circumventing the NYC cigarette taxes), was to host shows at the DC Improv. I was opening for Sebastian Maniscalco. It was a really fun week. The crowds were great and I was really surprised by Sebastian. I had watched a couple of clips on line before working with him, but in a way that really underscored how important the live show is to stand-up comedy, even though the live show is starting to become just part of a comedian’s package instead of the major selling point, Sebastian’s live show was fantastic in a way YouTube clips cannot capture. One of my great aversions is when someone tells me that I need to develop my character. I always want to say, “my character is that I am a funny person with good, original material.” But watching Sebastian was cool because he has a definitive character on stage, but it works hand in hand with the material, rather than trumping it. With the help of a buddy who came by and watched one of the Friday shows we determined that Sebastian was a combo of Boardwalk Empire’s Gyp Rosetti and Brian Regan.
So the comedy was great this week. My sets went great, the feature, Francisco Ramos, did great, and Sebastian crushed each show. Both guys were cool to chat with and it was nice to see crowds appreciating different sensibilities all on one show (but DC always has some of the best crowds in the country). Made me feel happy to be doing live comedy.
Now the good news – my calendar is empty of road work until July 18th. So do the right thing and get tickets to my CD recording in NYC on May 18th HERE.
This past weekend was one of those weekends that can give a comedian enough energy to pursue a failing dream for another year. After a weekend of opening for the great Dave Attell in Indianapolis I coincidentally had the opportunity to open for him for six more shows at the DC Improv. The DC Improv is consistently one of the best clubs in the country, if not the very best, in terms of audience and the weekend did not disappoint. However, the audience that saw me as Superman on stage did not realize that I was living a very Clark Kent-lifestyle during the daytime.
When in DC I stay with my older brother and his family. How convenient, right? Absolutely, except for the fact that I have to room with my four year old nephew. He would be roommates with his six year old brother, leaving the attic to me, but his older brother has sleeping issues, so the four year old has been relegated to the attic. I give the kid credit. He is four years old and sleeps in an attic by himself and does not seem to be afraid of it. Of course, when I saw Paranormal Activity 3 last Friday, which focused on a child who sees a demon spirit, I could not say the same for me.
My nephew was apparently not that thrilled that I would be interfering with his four year old autonomy. He asked my brother if I could sleep on an aerobed in the basement (second scariest place in a house after the attic). But I don’t know why he was upset. I managed each night to enter the room practically silent and never waking him. However, every morning at exactly 615 am, my nephew would announce that he was ready to go downstairs and then engage me in 10-40 minutes of conversation. This may explain why I appeared semi-comatose by the Sunday night show at the Improv.
Saturday was sports day. With my brother in NYC on Friday and Saturday it was up to me to take the four year old to his morning soccer practice and his noon basketball practice. My brother was responsible for bringing snacks to the soccer practice so he had purchased some Kashi brand granola bars. I realized at that moment that I am only in favor of Michelle Obama’s healthy eating for kids initiative in theory only. And to add pretension to injury, when the coach was asking the majority caucasion kids their favorite ice cream one kid said “Mango Sorbet.” I then encouraged my four year old nephew to bully that kid, both in person and via cyber tactics, whatever would let that kid know that he is not OK. And on a particularly disturbing note – I discovered my fly was open for the first thirty minutes of the soccer practice. Not one emasculated, granola snack serving dad said anything! So I am running around a bunch of four year olds with a gaping hole in my crotch at four year old face level and no one said anything. Throw in the fact that I am an uncle and I am lucky to have not been shanked in jail later that night for being an accidental pervert.
After soccer practice it was time for basketball practice, which my nephew said he did not want to go to. Having been an accomplished college benchwarmer in basketball, I was a little taken aback by my nephews comment. But then I realized why. The coach of the basketball program was pretty intense. For a high school coach. But he was coaching and running through drills a group of kids between 4 and 8 years old. All the kids were black, so naturally the snacks were Dunkin’ Donuts. You can take the sugar out of the white soccer practice, but you can’t take the diabetes out of the black basketball practice. My nephew wasn’t terrible, so he seems sure to continue the Cauvin tradition of mediocre hoops accomplishments (but since he is relatively diminutive the expectations of his career will be much smaller than his gigantic uncle). And for any hoops scouts there was a seven year old at the practice with defined muscles in his calves and a consistent 8 foot jumpshot.
The shows, however, were nothing less than awesome. I had a great time. I even decided to join a couple of fans at a nearby bar after Friday’s late show. I basically did it just to prove to them that I would (they seemed sure that I was lying). They told me to meet them at “Public.” So I went a block away to Public to discover it was a four story bar/lounge/date rape emporium. I did not find the people (sort of like meeting someone in NYC and saying, “Yeah just meet me in Macy’s”), but the owner of the bar found me and he had been at the show and he bought me two drinks. Thanks, and just kidding about the date rape comment. It seems like a place where I would have thrived as a law student (for the record “G-town law student” much higher value in the bars than “unknown comedian killing it”).
I handed out more cards over the six shows than I have at any other gig since I have had the cards. And I never force them on people. I only give them to people who ask, or people who are so effusive in their praise that it seems reasonable to hand them one. And my trash ratio was great. For about 150-200 handed out I only found one on the street outside the Improv between the six shows. So for all that glad handing, performing and card dispensing I have added four Twitter followers, three facebook friends and two blog fans. So unlike my usual bitching I will just say thanks to that small, but incredibly lucky group of people in the DC area. The only problem is that a week of featuring at the DC Improv was the highlight of my comedic year. If DC is my peak fan base then I fully expect to see my body burned in effigy, composed of my cards, sometime this week in Syracuse. See you there!