• Road Comedy Recap: House of the Mohegan Sun June 16, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    Last Thursday I performed for the first time in 11 years at Comix Roadhouse, the comedy club located at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT.  Here is the blog I wrote after my performance in 2013  Despite my optimism I was never booked again at the club until last week.  It was a live Making Podcasts Great Again episode and, as always, I delivered a masterpiece. But like so much of my comedy career, the show was only a part of the story. So here we go!

    For the trip I had to pack my suit, props and overnight stuff, which was more cumbersome than the usual overnight comedy gig. So with a small bag and a garment bag I lumbered to the 4:43pm NJ transit after a full day of remote legal work and then made the 5:49 train to Valhalla, NY, with only a few minutes to spare, to meet my show co-host, Jay.  He picked me up at the train and we made the 2 hour and change ride to Mohegan Sun.

    When we got to the casino at 8:50pm I checked in to the hotel with my hips killing me (like most big dogs I am having hip pain as I deteriorate rapidly) and made an incredibly long walk to the Earth tower.  I guess it’s called Earth, because it… kept me grounded:

    I got to my room, which was nice and proceeded to change into my Navy suit.  In addition to being in terrible shape (which as an unintentional method actor, makes for perfect role play as Trump), I also am conscious to commit multiple fashion faux pas as Trump (my Black shoes and belt with my blue suit). As I stared at myself in my numerous hotel room mirrors I had an ever more commonly occurring thought, “what the fu*k am I doing?”

    Once I arrived at the club I ordered a chicken fingers and Pepsi backstage because I am a 6’7″ 300 lb child.  I put my wig on, ran through some segments with Jay and then went out on stage after our comedian opener was done.

    The live Trump shows have really been some of my best work as a comedian and performer

    As I discovered in Vegas in March, I am even better doing the Trump show live than I am on the podcast.  You will be able to listen to the episode this week and watch it (if you are a Patreon member of the show).  We had some fans at the show and many casino attendees just looking for something to do.  After the show a woman who was in Trump attire and a huge MAGA fan told me she loved the show (my politics are clear, but some MAGA folk still find the show funny). I then shared a drink and cheesecake with a fan named Bruce (I had a slice of cheesecake and he had a beer) after the show.  My fans know that the sad state of my career has a distinct benefit – more attention to individual fans!

    I bid Bruce adieu and then went to sleep in the Earth tower at around 1 am.  And then at 3 am my TV turned on by itself to the welcome screen. It was so disorienting that I assumed that it was daybreak. But after my old man piss I stumbled back to the bed and looked at the clock and realized I just had horrible luck. Despite the comfort and pitch blackness of the room, the TV must have decided that my diet and stress were not enough to guarantee a heart attack – I need horrible sleep every night as well!

    I woke up at 730 the next morning, checked out and had some Starbucks burnt-ass coffee before ordering my Lyft to the New London, CT Amtrak station.  We had a pleasant ride for the most part and I learned that 24 hours earlier, my Lyft driver had found out that he had a son he had never known about. Through 23 & me he found out he had a son with a one night stand in California when they were both 16.  His son is now in his 30s, was a military veteran, cop and retired MMA fighter, at which point I said, make sure he knows that you had no idea he existed!  And also please make sure he doesn’t know I exist because that is an aggressive pro-Trump triple crown.

    Eventually I got home at 140pm that day and was greeted by Cookie with the usual smattering of whimpers and tail wags.  Unlike 2013, however, despite an even better performance this time, I am guessing this is my Last of the Mohegan.  Head to the calendar to get tickets to our NJ and NYC shows this Fall.

  • The Solution for Democracy is More Democrats June 11, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    I have a bit on my special Tall Boy, where I compare Democrats to struggling single moms and Republicans to deadbeat fathers who have abandoned the family. With expectations lowered to the basement for Republicans, Democrats represent only 50% of the elected officials in Congress and 99% of the elected officials trying to accomplish something other than impeaching Joe Biden’s gardener and tax cuts for their donors.  The country could be a great, functioning and productive democracy if the modern GOP were never elected. Because all factions of the Democratic party at the federal level at least, believe in, and demonstrate, a desire to do SOMETHING to help people and the country. The GOP is a hypocritical party of obstruction. Nothing more.

    Since the Obama Presidency I referred to the GOP as political suicide bombers because they offer no ideas, no values and certainly no legislation or solutions, but if they can drag Democrats down and render the public cynical and disillusioned then they score relative wins. As Mitch McConnell memorably said early in Obama’s tenure, he wanted to make Barack Obama a one term president. The sole motivation and consistent principle for the GOP the last 16 years has been “not Democrats.”  And now we live in an America where independents and democrats will scream “do everything!” at Democrats before they whisper “do anything” to Republicans.

    Before I continue, I am not writing for the cynics. The people who have chosen the appearance of high-minded disillusionment as a front for bitterness in some cases and intellectual and moral laziness in others.  This is for the people who say they cannot vote for Joe Biden on principle.  I am sure some of the cynics believe they are part of the principled and I cannot waste time trying to distinguish them for them.  I am also not writing for Trump supporters, because to quote Maximus in Gladiator, “I think you’ve been afraid all your life.”  The entire MAGA movement is an overcompensation for inadequacies, insecurities and inabilities manifesting itself as cartoonish ideas of masculinity, absurd interpretations of Christianity and infatuation with malevolence.  So, as I address the invested, but disillusioned, I would like to borrow from my my friend Rod of The Black Guy Who Tips podcast, and ask the moderates, progressives and far lefties, what among these will be better with Donald Trump than Joe Biden in your opinion:

    • Climate Change
    • Gun control
    • Abortion access
    • democracy
    • voting rights and access
    • the economy
    • our next pandemic
    • Israel and Gaza

    The first five are no-brainers, the sixth is also a no brainer if you examine the data and not just the vibes, the seventh is an even bigger no brainer, which leads us to the final issue and the one creating the most moral outrage among the Left: Israel and Gaza.

    I do not pretend to be even knowledgeable enough to lecture on this topic, let alone to be some sort of expert, but as a human being I understand the fear, outrage and rage of Jews based on the increasing hate crimes committed against them and the brutality of October 7th. And on the other hand, the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives at the hands of a government spearheaded by a self-serving war monger in debt to far right militants (if not terrorists) to maintain his tenuous grip on power, with weapons made by the US, is its own moral outrage. I understand the rage and anguish, but also think Netanyahu has shown he is the worst person to honorably execute a defensible response to that rage and anguish.

    Joe Biden is a long-time, genuine supporter of the state of Israel. And I think he believed in defending allies, supporting allies and keeping an ally close so that he might be able to affect and impact that ally’s prosecution of a war.  Was his strategy on Israel wrong? Perhaps. Was it naive? Certainly seems so. Was it done in good faith? I think so.  Can anyone think of an American president, Democrat or Republican, in the last 50 years who would have done something drastically “better” (in the progressive opinion) in stopping Israel? Jimmy Carter perhaps? Who put his whole presidency on the line to broker peace between Israel and Egypt, succeeded, and then was voted out anyway.

    So the alternative to Biden, if you care about these progressive issues and especially about the treatment of people in Gaza is Donald Trump.  Donald Trump’s bold and progressive statement on Israel’s conduct was to suggest that Bibi Netanyahu needed better public relations.  Wow – I can already see the Nobel Peace Prize headed his way for that!

    Flippancy aside, no matter how awful you think Joe Biden is, if your decision to note vote or vote for someone other than Joe Biden leads to a second Trump presidency, are the additional lives lost due to Trump not on your conscience?  Why do you get a pass at this late stage of American Democracy to place your principles over lives while Joe Biden is a monster?  I am not saying to shut up, or not protest or anything like that. In fact, the polling and the protesting does seem to have hardened Biden’s rhetoric and actions against Israel. But is the goal moral purity at the cost of a better option?  Is the goal no deaths (not possible) or fewer deaths?  is the goal a perfect world or a better world?  If you are truly disturbed and upset and outraged over Gaza then it will take courage to vote for Biden. I am not denying that.  But not voting for Biden, staying in your righteous panic room and avoiding confronting the consequences of your own abstention? That’s cowardly.

    It has also come to my attention just how ignorant of civics and history so many people are. In the last century, all major eras of progressive power and action had one thing in common: LOTS OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS TO SUPPORT A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT.  FDR. LBJ. And to a lesser extent, BHO (Obama is not really known by his initials, but I wanted to keep the pattern going).

    Roosevelt has a massive Democratic majority and he did massive things with it.  Were some people left behind due to racism? Absolutely.  But did he move the country in a positive direction? Yes.

    LBJ had massive majorities and was probably the most consequential domestic president since FDR, or maybe even Lincoln.

    Obama had just a big enough majority to pass major health care legislation.  But as said above, Republicans like Mitch McConnell had studied their history and knew that if they didn’t put party above country, Obama might have been wildly successful like those other democrats so they obstructed, nurtured the racism animating lots of the tea party and birther movements and voila, Obama was rendered a respected, but less impactful two term president than he might have been.

    Republicans have given us Nixon, Reagan, HW Bush (probably the best of all of them and the one with only one term) and W.  Corruption, Great Rhetoric while cultivating racism, Christian nationalism and inequality, imperfect statesmen and the man who brought us the Iraq War and the Great Recession.

    But as time goes on, Americans follow a truly pathetic pattern that I believe smart phones and social media have only augmented by weakening out attention span and capacity for detail and long-term thinking.  With 20/20 hindsight Americans love to criticize the Clinton presidency, and I believe when it comes to economic deregulation, it is well-deserved.  But on things like welfare reform and the crime bill – these were complicated issues politically and, Clinton was elected with a minority of the vote and had to deal with the dawn of the conservative congress (and even the Gingrich congress was still willing to pass laws and come to the table, as opposed to the Kevin McCarthy/Mike Johnson congress, which is the worst in history). Clinton triangulated, compromised and did some great things (biggest job creation since FDR I believe) and some bad things. But he won, which Democrats had not done since 1976.  And winning, to accomplish some things can often require compromise in this system of government.

    Now we get to President Biden, who has been the most impressive domestic president since LBJ, with a ZERO VOTE MAJORITY IN THE SENATE.  He passed a huge infrastructure bill, the biggest climate bill and has put more Black women on the federal bench than the previous 45 presidents combined.  He did this while wrangling Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin and depending on VP Harris’ tiebreaker vote a record number of times.  He has used executive power to protect people of color, LGTBQ folk and the environment. After being stifled by the Supreme Court, he has still forgiven billions of dollars in student loans. Black unemployment and the economy overall are at record lows and highs, respectively, and yet Donald Trump continues to brag about his inferior numbers because he knows perception is quite literally trumping reality.

    The truth is progressives and moderates have taken Democrat-earned progress for granted and have not given the credit to Democrats for being the driving force AND defenders of that progress. Sometimes progress looks like passing the Voting Rights Act. But sometimes it looks like having an Attorney General who will not act to further erode voting rights acts by siding with states that are trying to do that.  Defense may not be as glorious and headline worthy, but as the saying goes in sports, it can win championships.

    I think young progressives (and some older ones) today, like suburban women in 2016, have started to take for granted the rights they have as automatic and inviolable. If the country lived up to its theoretical creeds, they would be. But apathy, lack of empathy and ignorance of our system was no help to all those women who voted for Trump in 2016 because “he wouldn’t get rid of Roe… (whispering) and if he does I will still be safe in my town or state”).  Well after 50 years of assuming Roe was the law of the land and a Constitutional right, all of a sudden (only suddenly to the Left – the Right had a constant, unrelenting 5 decade movement) it was gone.  What makes you think that if abortion can fall, that same sex marriage cannot? On the Left we praise things like legalization of same sex marriage, but the defense of that right is a never-ending fight.  And for those rights and so many other things, a vote for Joe Biden says “at best President Biden will continue to aim for big improvements in American life like more jobs, a better environment, safeguarding the rights of women, people of color and LGTBQ people, IF WE GIVE HIM A CONGRESS. But at worst, he will defend what we have fought for so far and hold the line against more encroachments on those rights until we can get a Congress again.”

    Vote for Democrats. Vote for Joe Biden.  These two things are essential. Together, a Democratic government can do great things and history shows, WILL DO GREAT THINGS.  Because if Trump and MAGA has shown us anything it is that everything is now on the line every time you vote locally, statewide or federally.  And you are either protecting liberal democracy and all that comes with it, or you are helping damage it. There is no third option. Because when people “didn’t like Hillary” they lost abortion rights.  What do you think you will lose if you help send Trump back to the White House? As the kids say, Fu*k around and find out.

  • Road Comedy Recap: Larchmont Legend May 27, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    This past weekend I found myself performing in a co-work space (is that what they are called?) in Larchmont, New York. The location, I learned when I was booked, is called The Idea Kitchen, which made me think it was a bar or restaurant, a more normal place to perform for comedians.  But it turns out that only thing cooking at the Idea Kitchen are ideas!  Well, sometimes the strangest places to perform end up being some of the best shows. Was this such a case?  Keep reading to find out (*clicks out of blog because more than one paragraph feels like homework*).

    Animals and Dogs on Metro North

    As I waited for the train from Bloomfield to Manhattan on NJ Transit I noticed that waiting for my train was one of the most attractive women I have ever seen.  Imagine if Megan Goode were 5’9″, wearing a Houston Texans jersey tied up Men on Film style, with short jean shorts and a prettier face than Megan Good.  If this sounds like fantasy that is why I kept pinching her on the platform to see if I was dreaming (it turns out I am supposed to pinch myself, lesson learned).  It is not low self esteem for me to wonder what the hell this woman was doing (and presumably living?) in my town.  Perhaps she heard in 2020 that it was a place of entertainment superstars (true), but since 2022 the clout and value of those superstars has plummeted and she can’t yet get out of a long term lease.

    When I arrived in Manhattan I made my way to Grand Central for a 6:36pm train to Larchmont.  I arrived 25 minutes early and since I had burned at least 100 calories on my walk there I figured I had earned a 690 calorie milkshake and 450 calorie hamburger from Shake Shack.  As I finished I walked on to my train to see in my car:

    • a mother and daughter combo with their bare feet on their seats
    • a man and woman with their large dog (65+ lbs) on a seat eating dog food off a plate on another seat
    • a woman with her large dog lying in the aisle (the least offensive but still impeded someone from going into another train car

    I sat down and read my book and fortunately only had to shut out two different cell phones blaring mindless content.  Of course, just like Michael Jordan needed angry motivation before games, boiling with anger at the lack of manners and decency in society always puts me in the right frame of mind for a comedy show (to my comedically challenged fans – that is sarcasm)

    The Idea Kitchen

    When I arrived at the Idea Kitchen is when I realized it was a co-working space and not a restaurant.  It was basically a full house (I would guess over 50 people) in the area and the show went great.  I continued working on my new material, which may be ready to be my 9th stand up album at the end of the year (tentative title: With Fans Like These, Who Needs Euthanasia?). The crowd were great laughers and picked up on almost everything I was putting down.  I left shortly after my set because I had to coordinate the right Metro North train so as not to miss the 2nd to last train to my town on NJ Transit.  Here’s a quick new bit from the show (others are on my patreon *stop reading, block J-L on all social media*):

    Lovely Ladies of Metro North

    When I got on my Metro North train I noticed our train had a petite, very cute  Latina ticket taker.  if there is an indicator that the Biden economy is not working it is hot women taking the train and working on the train.  What is this World War 2?! Of course I immediately thought, “how is that woman going to protect herself if an unruly passenger does not want to pay?”  I got my answer in the more brash, older Latina woman who was also working the train. The woman who could have been her mother in terms of age difference and similar size, got on the PA system about 10 minutes into the ride and said the following (I am closely paraphrasing): “I want to go through a few of the rules with everyone as we ride. Smoking and vaping are not allowed on this train since forever. Please don’t do it. Be courteous of your fellow travelers. And the seats are not footrests (this is where I got slightly aroused. And by slightly I mean fully). if you can see it, feel it or smell it you have probably stepped in it (bars) and we don’t want that on the seats. Please be courteous and have a great trip.”  At this point I realized that my love of trains, manners and Latin women had just gelled on this one soft core porn train ride back to the city.  But then my integrity was tested and I failed.

    When cute Latina ticket taker took my ticket she went to the woman behind me (I could only hear her) and asked for her ticket. The woman in a “I am usually entitled but I am putting on my most submissive voice” said she had come from a different car and forget to take her ticket marker with her.  Now I spotted a lie in her description because I knew she had come from the other side she was claiming.  Cute Latina ticket taker was not convinced and had her own sweet voice she threw back at her but accepted her explanation. Meanwhile me listening to this conversation:

    When we were close to the city the woman behind me got up and my usual impeccable, integrity-filled disgust at someone trying to sneak a train ride completely dissolved.  Rocking a sort of 2015 Demi Lovato haircut and filling out a jumpsuit in a way that I had never seen in person before, I immediately offered to pay her ticket and her rent for the next 6 months.  Once again, this was supposed to be something I merely thought and made a joke about, not a literal offer to be made out loud.  Lesson learned.

    The Way Home

    With some time to spare I walked from Grand Central to Penn Station. Feeling both elated from a good show and the vitrual 4some on the train (the older ticket taker would be invited simply because her wit and integrity is always welcome to be in the room, but only as support/personal assistant for cute ticket taker and jumpsuit Lovato) I did what I always do when I am depressed or happy – I got a milkshake.

    It has been years since I had a Mr. Softee milkshake and I spotted a truck by the 42nd street library.  I ordered a chocolate milkshake and when Mr Softee said “twelve dollars” I instinctively blew on my rape whistle and ran to Penn Station.

    I got on the 11:11 train home and was happy for a great night when a man dropped his beer as he fell asleep and some of it splashed my jeans.  Did he apologize? Of course not. Did it conveniently mask some of the stains on my pants from earlier train rides? A gentleman of the rails never tells.

  • Road Comedy Recap: Berkshires Brilliance May 21, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    This past weekend I travelled to West Stockbridge, MA in the Berkshires to perform at The Foundry, a wonderful and intimate (when comedians cannot sell a lot of tickets we use intimate to make it sound like it was a choice) venue.  As a distinguished alumnus of Williams College, the most notable landmark in the Berkshires, I expected a hero’s welcome.  The Prodigal B Student has returned!  Well, this was more like The Good Samaritan, where the people I expected to show up did not, but many people I did not expect to did and made for a really great show.  So without further delay, let’s get into it!

    Big Comedian, Mini Cooper

    I made my way into south Harlem to get a ride with comedian and show producer Kevin Bartini.  To kill some time I wandered Frederick Douglass Blvd, just one bi-racial legend crossing literal paths with another. I also noticed a lot more of the people walking the streets had more of a resemblance to Douglass’ father than his mother.  If I can paraphrase the great Gary Gulman, “There’s Malcolm X Blvd, I live more int he Malcom Gladwell section of Harlem, but not the Malcolm in the Middle section.”

    I met Kevin at his apartment and he pointed me to a Mini Cooper. When I saw the car I assumed Kevin would sit in there and a horse trailer would be coming for me to load myself into.  But alas, it did not arrive so I folded myself and my bad knees and my increasingly bad hips for the 2.5 hour drive to West Stockbridge.

    We Sold Tickets? We Sold Tickets!

    When we arrived at The Foundry (which based on its regal name and its small capacity feels like a perfect place for me to record a special – I began my path to humor as the joker on the Williams College basketball team (not joker as in Jokic, but joker as in makes lots of (too many) jokes) and perhaps it could end in The Berkshires as well.  At the front desk we realized we were going to easily clear 50 tickets sold (this may not seem impressive, but we were at 4 tickets sold five days earlier).  The one thing I have experienced trying to transition from middle act to headliner (I have always identified as a headliner, but over the last few years, thankfully, I have been able to express my comedian identity and live my low-ticket-selling-truth) is that for most shows, because most of my fans stink and my good fans are procrastinators, I am stressed on ticket sales instead of mentally prepping for my set for most shows.  It is really taking a lot of the enjoyment out of it for me, but that is the important “business” in showbusiness.

    Kevin opened the show and was followed by a regional radio personality Steve Nagle and both set the table wonderfully.  I then took the stage and had a great time. Working about 75% new material, so much worked, the crowd was great (it skewed older, but I am realizing that just like with porn, I am starting to really warm up to the 60 and older crowd) and I was feeling that dangerous thing that has teased and tortured me throughout my almost 21 years doing stand-up comedy: hope.  I sold a decent amount of merch after and just felt good.  But the Lord giveth and he taketh away.

                                                                                            King of The Berkshires

    New Jersey Transit Can Ruin Anything

    We got back in Kevin’s Mini Cooper and made our way to NY Penn Station for my train back to NJ.  I figured I would get the 1:19am, which is the last train to my town on a Saturday (or first Sunday technically), but as Kevin made good time, I realized the 12:34am train was in play.  I have enjoyed the extra money, extra space and extra quiet in my move from NYC to NJ.  But living your life at the whim of NJ transit is not a good way to live. It is the worst.  Metro North and LIRR are Uber Black compared to NJ transit in terms of service.  And here is where the great day, or technically it is the next day, gets ruined.

    Kevin dropped me off with 7 minutes to spare.  A homeless man in a wheelchair asked me to buy him something from a food truck.  I walked a few steps away and then my guilty conscience, which almost never shuts off, said “give him some money.”  I handed him a $5 and he then began to ask me if I could get him something from the truck. I felt bad, but told him I was sorry and had to run. Hopefully someone facilitated the purchase.

    When I got to Penn Station every 8th avenue entrance was closed (of course, why should I be able to get my train at the train station) so I power walked (bad hips and knees) to 7th avenue and got in with 2 minutes to spare to see a huge crowd of people waiting for trains.  Of course the trains were all delayed.  In fact, the 12:34 never arrived and I got a 1:01am train to Newark to then get a Lyft back to my town.  And while waiting for that 1:01 train I saw thousands of Morgan Wallen fans arrive (his audience appears to be 17-20 year old white trash for whom (who or whom? Can never figure that one out) the N word is not a deal breaker in 2024) in Penn Station.  Why do I mention that? Because a lot of Morgan Wallen fans then turned right around to get on trains back to NJ because they are as dumb as you might imagine.

    i arrived home at 2am to be greeted by an ecstatic Cookie and could only sleep 5 hours before going to early Mass and a book event at a Manhattan Holocaust Museum, which was still uplifting compared to NJ Transit.

  • I Went to an Elementary School Musical May 11, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    After the wild success of my blog last month recapping a trip to my girlfriend’s nephew’s talent show at a local high school (the alma mater of GOAT Tom Cruise) I decided to see if lightning could strike twice and checked out an elementary school production of Seussical, a musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss and not Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required.  Full disclosure, while I am an avid theater goer this show probably would not have been on my itinerary if one of the players in the show were not my girlfriend’s niece.  And fuller disclosure, I probably still would have skipped it if I had not gone to my girlfriend’s nephew’s show (equal work, equal aunt’s boyfriend attendance #Feminst #Ally).  So let’s break down this production of Seussical (which started 12 minutes late! Who the fu*k do you think you are, Madonna?!).

    High Property Taxes, Low Microphone Budget

    Glen Ridge, NJ is pretty pricey and you would expect a town that wealthy to have all the best stuff.  Well the best stuff does not include microphones apparently.  The first performer, in sort of a narrator role, had the mic cut off for about 40% of their time.  This would have been bad enough, but there was something else ruining my mood…

    Elementary School Seats, Gigantic Human

    When I went to the talent show I sat in the middle row, which was basically a massive aisle seat with about 5 feet of leg room. But for Seussical, the seats were assigned and though I had an aisle seat, it was an aisle seat that I outgrew sometime around 9th grade in terms of leg room and outgrew in terms of hip and waist girth in early 2023.  I would end up only sitting for the first thirty minutes before my right leg fell asleep “from the cheek to the feet” (that is my version of from the river to the sea).  I ended up watching the remaining hour standing in the back of the theater.  It was at this point that I realized I was at least 40 yards away from my girlfriend and her family so I was just a random, middle-aged dude watching a bunch of kids perform a musical. Speaking of a bunch of kids…

    6th grade seats for a 38th grader

    What is this The Ten Commandments?

    I think the show featured every child in the town.  I have never seen a Broadway musical with a cast half this large.  And the quantity of the cast was only the second most disturbing thing about casting…

    Live Aid + Band Aid + The March on Washington = Seussical cast

    Is This Dr. Seuss or Dr. Wokeness?

    The Cat in the Hat and Horton are two of the most well-known MALE Dr. Seuss characters. In the show they are both played by girls.  This is how it starts. Next thing you know we will have male elephants competing in high school swimming meets against female elephants and we will have let it happen!

    The show was the abridged version (75 minutes) instead of the 2 hour, 30 minute Seussical that Lawrence Olivier made famous in the West End.  All the kids seemed to enjoy themselves and other than a few of the dads wearing their financial firm fleece jackets, the parents provided a pleasant audience.  And one day the 773 children who filled the stage will be able to say the performed in front of a comedy legend.

  • Seinfeld Can Have Opinions on Comedy May 4, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    In 2019 I remember seeing quotes from writer-director Todd Phillips on why he had pivoted to more serious films, like his then forthcoming Joker.  Phillips was the man behind two of the best comedies of the last quarter century – Old School and The Hangover.  He also, along with Judd Apatow, may have represented the last comedy film giants, which says a lot about our culture. We went from Mel Brooks to Zucker & Abrams to Harold Ramis to the Farrelly Brothers and Ben Stiller to Phillips and Apatow.  I am probably missing some big people in there, but the point is for close to 50 years there were writers and directors who defined their respective decade(s) for comedy movies.  So it is fair for someone to ask why this stopped in the last decade.

    One reason, in my opinion, is the increasing reliance on superhero and big tent movies for both revenue and comic relief, which has rendered the big comedy movie a less attractive investment.  Another reason is the comedy sensibilities of younger people appear underdeveloped at best and completely lacking at worst (Thor and Tik Tok cannot be the main sources of comedy for humor to grow and survive – sorry to young people, including my nephew, but “that’s facts”).  And then there is the reliable, and heavy over-reliance, on blanketly blaming “wokeness.”  Wokeness has become this magical complaint that seems impervious to the most common complaint about overdone comedy from comedians – that it is HACK.  It seems on this one topic and term, there is no exhausting the bro comedians, the elder curmudgeons like Bill Maher and every other simplistic troll who just wants an easy answer to why things are not the same as they were 10 or 50 years ago in with comedy.  There is such little nuance and creativity, even in the complaining that a reasonable person could ask – this is neither funny, nor original – is the only reason your keep using valuable stage or screen time to lament this is because there is a sizeable portion of the audience who just like simple complaints repeated?  I don’t know, let’s ask a Trump rally hearing Trump share the same 4 phrases and 5 complaints for the 7th straight year of his Hateful Moron gatherings.

    That said, I am not unsympathetic to some nuanced complaints about political correctness, as I have had numerous issues with many of my most vocal, least invested “fans” about jokes they do not like.  Conflating good comedy with righteous opinions, however, is bad for comedy and not great for society.  I feel like wokeness is maybe 10% of the problem and gets 95% of the blame.  But when a comedy legend or genius is offering their genuine opinion on a shift in comedy, based on their vast experience, it is worth at least listening and considering, even if you disagree.

    So in Phillips’ case, which is sort of a precursor to the current Internet rage/love being showered on Jerry Seinfeld, he had said he felt like he couldn’t make comedies anymore because things had gotten too woke (or whatever word he used in an interview). What followed from that, on the Internet, was a barrage of “the guy with the unfunny frat movies can’t make movies now?” Now, Phillips did use certain language in his movies that would, understandable to me (some of you may still think being able to use homophobic slurs in 2024 is what stands between us and 1984), be out of step and maybe even frowned upon today.  But his movies were massive hits across many demographics and were defining comedies for their time.  The revisionist history that vocal, and often truly unfunny people, need to put forward to make their disagreement with a comedy writer a moral crusade is borderline pathetic.  If Todd Phillips has an opinion on comedy, he has more than earned the right to share it and have it considered, even if you ultimately disagree.  And of course, no one is “stopping him” from speaking, but I think you know what I mean.

    And then Phillips’ film Joker made $1 billion and was nominated for 10 Oscars.  Clearly he has no business in Hollywood.

    That brings me to the comedy complaint du jour – Jerry Seinfeld.  Seinfeld recently said, during the promotional tour for his new movie, Unfrosted (confession – I watched it last night expecting to hate it. I didn’t. It was mostly fun, occasionally funny and campy in a Muppets Show sort of way – I can see why people might have not liked it, but I think it’s bad ratings and reviews may be influenced by his current bete noire status), that he believed wokeness and PC crap is hindering television comedy (I had listened to the interview on the New Yorker podcast before the “controversy” broke out, but did not think it was worth more than half an eye roll and a “good interview, disagree on that point” from me.

                                                           Jerry Seinfeld in Unfrosted

    But what has now predictably followed is a series of complaints about Seinfeld’s entire career and a listing of all the shows that prove Seinfeld wrong.

    On the first point, I do believe Curb Your Enthusiasm proved definitively that Larry David was perhaps the Simon to Seinfeld’s Garfunkel or his Stephen Merchant to Jerry’s Gervais.  But that does not erase Seinfeld’s deep contribution to American television and comedy history with Seinfeld.  And his stand up career is legendary, even if he remains a stickler for well-crafted jokes instead of producing glorified podcast episodes as annual “specials.”  And loads of people enjoy his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  I can understand not being a fan of Seinfeld and/or disagreeing with his take here.  But this need to wholly erase a well-earned legacy to simply bolster a current disagreement is Phillips all over again multiplied by five.

    But the second part, where people are presenting all the shows that prove Seinfeld wrong… yes they exist (from Eastbound and Down (well not that recent, but I need to always praise it) to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to The Other Two there have been exceptional comedies recently that focus on terrible people and decidedly non-PC language and situations.  But to defend Seinfeld, those comedies are now niche, like so much other great art (see the store page of this very site to purchase and stream such brilliant, yet disappointingly niche content).  What have the best comedies at the Emmys been the last 5 years? Ted Lasso. Schitt’s Creek. The Bear. The last great FUNNY comedy to win best comedy at the Emmys was Veep. (But J-L, you are forgetting about Fleabag!  Am I?)  The culture clearly has embraced nice (or in the case of The Bear, drama?) to be their celebrated comedies. Laughter has given way to feel good, at least in what we have recently celebrated.  So is Seinfeld wrong? In my opinion, yes. But he is not completely without merit if you see how people respond to Todd Phillips or what shows they reward with comedy awards.  And the fact that some of the best and most successful comedy work on TV in the last decade has been with Seinfeld alums Larry David and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss (the only J-L I put above me and J-Lo in the J-L GOAT discussion) would only further bias Seinfeld (understandably) to his show and era.

    So people can agree or disagree with Seinfeld, but I believe, just like science and other disciplines there are people who could be considered experts in comedy. In fact, just because Seinfeld chose to work clean only strengthens his credibility to speak on this issue. He is not as self-interested as another comedian might be when he expresses this. Rather, he seems to be expressing a concern for the course he sees comedy taking in general, not his personal comedy.  Comedy is, of course more subjective than math or science, but if you with one tweet or thread condemn Jerry Seinfeld as out of touch with comedy and in the next post hail Ted Lasso as the proof that Seinfeld is wrong on comedy, then we can at least all agree that you are not that expert.

  • The Ballad of The 24 Year Root Canal April 25, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    Last week I was basking in the glow of learning that my special, Half-Blackface, was streaming free on Amazon Prime, but like all things related to my comedy career, the basking was brief in duration. I woke up last Monday with a toothache and it only got worse until I finally made it to my dentist two days later.  It appeared that I had an infection, possibly stemming from a root canal I had had in college.  This was only the beginning of my problems, but first some background.

    Fall 2000 – The First Root Canal

    I was a senior in college. Having had a youth filled with candy, cavities were not something foreign to me, but the pain I had begun experiencing in one of my lower left teeth was something of a completely different order.  Having always hated the dentist, I did not want to go to the dentist in Williamstown, MA because if I am going to have someone go to war on my mouth I at least want it to be the Manhattan sadist I was used to.  I honestly think the original phrasing of “it’s the devil you know” was “it’s the dentist you know” and it got lost in translation throughout the years.

    But by day 3 I was taking about 35 Advil to gain even temporary relief (Hulu has chosen not to go forward with me miniseries The Most Boring Drug Addiction Story Ever) and I thought, “internal organ failure seems like a steep price to pay to endure tooth pain.” I made an appointment for the dentist in Williamstown and I only remember two things: they had to basically inject through my tooth (top down through a small hole) to fully numb the area and that 2 seconds was the most painful 2 seconds of my life.  And the second thing I remember is that after they gave me a root canal and a crown and my pain was gone.

    Fall 2000-2021: The Legacy of the Root Canal

    For years  the dentists I would see would comment on what a good job the dentist had done with the root canal, but after the pandemic, perhaps sensing that I had gained immeasurable wealth and fame during Covid, my dentist said that the crown needed to be replaced (I kid my dentist – I have been seeing him for over a decade). He said that 20 years for a root canal and crown was an impressive amount of time, so we redid the crown and I hung the crown he had removed from the rafters of the dental museum.  I had dental insurance which covered a majority of the new crown and I left hoping for another 20 year run of root canal greatness.

    April 2024 – The End is Nigh

    My dentist, who squeezed me in on a busy day before he left for the week for his normal days off and the Passover holiday, took some x-rays and cleaned up a filling next to the root canal tooth suggesting that some space might have led to the infection, but that the root canal might also be infected. Either way he proscribed amoxicillin and Motrin and said I should feel better in a couple of days.

    Sadly I did not feel better in a few days so I went to my brother’s dentist and was told the same thing – to let the amoxicillin work and if I did not feel better by Monday to see an endodontist.

    But on Saturday I was in more pain so I went to a boutique dental office that had Saturday hours and emergency care.  The took x-rays and said that the root canal was failing (like all great athletes there is a time when you just haven’t got it anymore) and that there was clearly an infection around the root canal.  They recommended extraction, bone graft and implant. I am not going to tell you how much this cost, but when the dentist leaves so that the “patient care coordinator” can come in, you know it isn’t cheap.  When an office has someone whose job it is to tell people that their wallet pain may exceed their oral pain, you know you are in trouble.  I of course said yes.  And if you have not figured out my luck, of course I no longer have dental insurance, as I lost the job that came as a small requirement to keep said insurance.

    What followed was a 45 minute ordeal that is the closest I will ever get to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.  Of course I needed extra Novocain (because I am very large, a pussy, or both). But needless to say I had both long and stubborn roots (I like my teeth like I like my commitment to comedy) and it took quite a while to full remove the GOAT root canal tooth.  Now when I entered the office I had everyone laughing as I made gallows’ humor jokes. When it was done I was literally shaking from the trauma and basically had the body language of  Theo on Game of Thrones after he had fully been broken into Reek. When I sat up I noticed some tooth shavings and a tiny morsel of bloody root on my bib/shirt. I felt like the Nazi in The Zone of Interest when he sees his children bathing in Jewish remains in their river (minus all of the Nazism and atrocities against Jews, though some people have told me I look like Seinfeld).

    When I finally made it out of the chair I saw that the dentist was fairly short and I thought, was this a “short king” flex?  Me strapped down like Gulliver while he went to work?  He was very friendly, but isn’t that how a truly confident short king would act? I envisioned him saying to the support staff after I left, “Guess who doesn’t have jokes anymore?”

    The Aftermath

    I made my way to my local CVS to pick up my stronger Amoxicillin and pain meds and when I walked in U2’s Beautiful Day was playing. You may think I am making this up, but I am not. In Fall 2000 when I got the root canal, U2 had just released their new single off there new album, Beautiful Day.  Now, as if a funeral hymn for the gone root canal tooth, here it was playing again.

    As I sit here today, I am three hours away from a just scheduled appointment with Short King, DDS to look at my mouth because the swelling has not gone away and there is still a decent amount of pain radiating in my mouth. My guess is that I need a different antibiotic than Amoxicillin, because of course I would be unresponsive to an antibiotic I have not had in 3 decades.

    The Lesson

    I don’t know if a root canal can teach anything about life, but when i think about something lasting twenty years, exceeding expectations, people and experts commenting on its quality and then ending up in the trash I begin thinking, “has my comedy career just been one long root canal?”

    Technically this s the first blog of 2024 that missed my self-imposed “one blog a week” New Year’s Resolution, but hopefully you will excuse it as it was the result of a medical issue.

  • America and Netanyahu Remind Me of Casino April 13, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    I am not an expert on Israel. I have heard anti-Semitic things from people who claim to simply be against the “genocide in Gaza.”  I have also heard people of conscience complain about the crisis in Gaza.  I have heard people of decency defend the broadest parameters of Israel’s self-defense.  I have also heard people whose integrity I deeply question portray everything Israel does as part of its right to self-defense.  Twelve years ago I wrote a tweet saying that I thought the relationship between the United States and Israel was like that of Ace Rothstein (Robert DeNiro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) in the movie Casino.

    The implication was that there was a long standing friendship between one friend with considerable power (Rothstein) and another, smaller friend full of volatility (Santoro), but that the friendship was exploited and manipulated by the smaller, volatile friend at the expense of the powerful friend.  But now, while trying to write something within my self-imposed, New Year’s Resolution of weekly writings, I looked up and saw that 12 years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was in one of his earlier stints as Prime Minister of Israel.  So, perhaps it is not actually Israel that is Santoro, as the country has been both bellicose, militant, self-defensive and peace-seeking during my life.  I would only be the 100 millionth person to condemn or criticize Netanyahu, but from my relatively ignorant, yet observant vantage point, it seems that he is as bad for the United States as he is for Israel and it is time for everyone to cut ties with him.  He seems to think that he, like Santoro, not only has a blank check to do what he wants, but that he is the main character in the story.

  • I Went to a High School Talent Show April 6, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    This past week I watched the engaging and disturbing docuseries Quiet on The Set, about the awful and in some cases, criminal exploitation and abuse that went on during the Golden Age of Nickelodeon (as I said on this week’s legendary episode of Rain on Your Parade podcast – at 11 years old I was enjoying In Living Color, so I am not sure how children could enjoy the offerings of Nickelodeon, but alas, this was mere foreshadowing of the comedy stupidity that would come to define present day society).  So after watching all four episodes, I thought, “what better place for an unmarried, childless, struggling entertainer to go to than a local high school talent show?!”

    Full Hassan Minhaj disclosure – my girlfriend’s nephew was in a rock band participating in the talent show, so it is not as funny or creepy as my set up would have you think.

    The show took place at the Glen Ridge elementary school.  Despite the wealth of Glen Ridge, apparently their high school does not have a large auditorium on its campus proper and uses the elementary school across the street (this is particularly galling when you consider that A THE graduate of Glen Ridge High School is the GOAT, Tom Cruise.  The only other factoid I know about Glen Ridge High School is that in the late 1980s a group of Glen Ridge jocks sexually abused a developmentally disabled girl (the first book I read, for pleasure, so to speak, in college was Our Guys – an absolutely tremendous book about that shocking case, which forever imprinted Glen Ridge in my mind in a way that even Tom Cruise could not undo with 40 movies and many more thetans).  So, with that on my mind I went to see the talent of Glen Ridge High!

    Piranha performing under a sign that I thought about cropping to make for a controversial social media story.

    I will not disparage any of the acts, which other than a dance troupe and a gymnast, were all musical.  I was largely impressed with the talent, and when not impressed with the talent, the courage to be mediocre in front of kids and parents.  My girlfriend’s nephew is only in 8th grade, but played drums in a very competent rock band named Piranha. I would have awarded them 3rd place, but they did not place at all.  Their music evokes Green Day and I was particularly amused by their bass player, who seemed furthest along in his rock identity and enthusiasm (a sort of Flea energy with Buddy Holly look… glasses, he wore glasses).

    First place is where the judges and I agreed.  I am assuming the girl was a junior or senior and performed really well at the piano, even doing a non-cliche version of Feeling Good, a song that I have grown to hate due to its overexposure in commercials, singing contest shows and Michael Buble.  She seemed to have the talent and poise of someone who has ambitions and parents willing to fund them.

    Second place went to a duet that was good (both were good, but one of the singers might have won first if she was solo – a voice of incredibly clarity and tone and other things that might make me sound like I know what I am talking about).  But here is where I had a big beef with the judges.  There was a small child – I do not know if he was an elementary school kid allowed to compete in the high school show, or if he is just a sort of Gary Coleman-Webster type kid because when I told him after the show that he was great I was alarmed at how small and young he seemed.  Well what he did was perform Piano Man on the piano, with a harmonica in his mouth. His harmonica looked like orthodontist head gear because of his age and size and he was great.  I kept thinking, I cannot do either of those things and he is pulling it off well, and had the savvy to pick a song right in the wheel house of the 40 something judges (I am only saying that to make me and my girlfriend feel better – we were probably older than at least two and possibly all 4 of the staff/teacher-judges.

    After the show I felt myself projecting my own indignity and frustration on him, but the kid seemed very happy to talk to his friend and take compliments from giant strangers.

    Third place went to a good singer who I had disqualified because she sang the song Never Enough from The Greatest Showman, a song so schmaltzy that the only thing that could ruin it more was having videos released of corrupt New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez singing it to his accomplice then-fiancée as he proposed to her.  I, in fact, have had enough *drops mic*.

    So that was my night at the Glen Ridge Talent Show – and on an unexpected positive note – almost all the kids (and parents) were off their phones!  Perhaps that is the key to keeping the youth off screens: make everything about them and their friends.

  • Las Vegas: Seeing The Boss and Feeling Like a Boss March 25, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    I am currently sitting in a Hampton Inn in Salt Lake City, UT, blocks away from the Delta Center – The House That Ainge Destroyed.  I have a couple of hours before the Jazz-Mavericks massacre game so I figured I would recap an eventful, inspiring and cash-hemorrhaging couple of days in Sin City!

    2 New Jersey Icons. One Arena.

    I arrived in Vegas on Friday at 3pm on a bus trip that inspired last week’s blog on speakerphone usage.  The main purpose of my trip was to take part in the Stand Up Podjam – a day long festival built around the extended comedy and podcast community of Pete Dominick, and brought to fruition by the extraordinary efforts of Cassie Rice, a generous fan of Pete’s and mine.  I would be performing a live episode of Making Podcasts Great Again on Saturday afternoon and then performing stand-up comedy Saturday night.  But before that was time for my first Bruce Springsteen concert.

    I have been a fan of Bruce Springsteen for most of my life, the way a Catholic who goes to Church on Christmas and Easter is a lifelong Catholic.  I have several of his albums, but also found his Broadway show boring (an apostasy that I think would get me the death penalty in parts of New Jersey) and have found the Opus Dei level worship (to keep the Catholic analogy going) among many of his fans to be off-putting (and fertile ground for jokes).  But with a night in Vegas to kill and The Boss in town, it felt like time for me to finally get baptized in the waters of The River.  It was also the second musical concert I would see featuring a Twitter follower of mine (Richard Marx – 1st, Stevie Van Zandt – 2nd).

    Now to preserve a lot of the Springsteen adventure for my podcast (if you are a fan of me, my ideas or my comedy and don’t listen to Rain on Your Parade every week – amend immediately!), which will be completely dedicated to Springsteen on April 4th, I will simply say I enjoyed the show a lot. I still consider myself a secular Springsteen fan, but might attend a few more services than before. How many? TWO! THREE! FOUR!

    Springsteen in Vegas

    Making Podcasts Great Again and Stand Up 

    When Jay Nog (my co-host) and I took the stage at 1pm I felt confident we would have a great live episode. I did not necessarily think it would be out best episode ever, but that is exactly what happened.  Now, with all due respect (which is not much) to anyone who thinks anyone on God’s Green Earth does a better Trump than me, this show was the death knell of that erroneous delusion.  Voice, mannerisms, hour of ad lib content and an extended jerk off dance were just some of the reasons why this taping should be a special on Netflix and why we should be performing it live in theaters every night until the 2024 election.

    The episode should be available on audio soon for our podcast subscribers and the video, of which I just learned only 26 minutes of the hour taped unfortunately – (resume blog from new computer that was not smashed to smithereens) – will be available to view for subscribers of MPGA as well (standing ovation at the end not featured).

    After the podcast we had a few hours to have Chick Fil A and rest –

    Sidenote – the great thing about a place like Vegas, much like Los Angeles, is that even the regular folk are sort of a trickle down hot.  While getting coffee at Starbucks the students at a local beauty school kept coming in and I kept wondering are you the students or the finished products?  at which point hot coffee was thrown in my face.  And the aforementioned Chick Fil A felt a little less like Christian chicken and a lot more like a guy who liked women who looked good in glasses and form fitting red polo shirts (seriously it was clear that the God-fearing manager of the restaurant had a busty, Filipina librarian fetish)

    We went back to the venue for the stand up show and musical performance.  The show began to take on the feel of almost a memorial service for Pete, though Pete was alive, healthy and emceeing the show.  It is just that Pete has been a big part of his fans’ lives for well over a decade and there is a deep appreciation for his work, his character and most importantly, his showcasing of world class talent on his show, me.  I just want my fans to actually buy tickets (or anything above free that I do), so hoping for a warm community of heartfelt tribute seems like an absurd ask for this life.  Though to be fair, two of my biggest fans made the trip from the land of Latter-Day-Saints to Sin City to see me and brought a friend as well (thus clearing my “wherever two or more are gathered in my name” requirement for me to perform)! So that felt good in a way that an arena of 20K fans screaming your name cannot match (take that Bruce!).

    On the lineup was Pete, followed by Ophira Eisenberg who killed (I was last on a show with her over a decade ago and she always just has impeccable polish, without seeming too prepped or inauthentic). Then Christian Finnegan went up and, while I was hoping that since he had recently discussed how little he was doing stand-up while on Pete’s show he would lower the bar, he promptly murdered.  So then I went up as the literal and figurative half-Black sheep of the lineup and did well (better than I felt according to the audience) but it was an overall superb show.

    Once we were done, musician Gareth Sever performed several songs, the overwhelming highlight of which was The Ballad of Pete Dominick, which was basically like Bob Dylan’s Hurricane if it were twice as long, funnier than Weird Al’s funniest and featured a sizeable roast of J-L Cauvin that was so good I can’t wait to share it when an MP3 is available (on my patreon he finishes … as 99% of the people who know J-L sighed as they would never give 3 dollars for lots of hilarious J-L related work). Finishing the evening was Jon Carroll, singer-songwriter, who among his smallest credits is the theme song for Pete’s show, Stand Up, which he performed with back-up from a local group of high school musical students (I think they were high school – at this point every one 16-23 looks like a child to me).

    The event was awesome. The fans were awesome and I am very proud to have been included in the event and with my contributions to the event.  The next day it was time to go the Vegas strip and destroy all those good feelings.

    Wheel of Fortune and Roulette

    I met the girlfriend at the Venetian for a day of more official Vegas activities. To sum it up I spent a large amount on a return visit to Wolfgang Puck’s Cut (excellent again and somehow even more expensive than just 5 months ago), was treated to the Darren Aronofsky movie at the Sphere (incredible experience, incredibly expensive – but beware awful people – it involves climate change so it might be “woke” – i.e. stating obvious things about climate and nature that would make a normal human feel slightly guilty and/or distressed) and some gambling – the girlfriend, on her first ever time playing roulette, devised a roulette system that had her slowly accumulating chips over an hour until she left up $200 (I genuinely think whatever her system is she could have made $2k if she sat there for 6 hours).  My gambling consisted of massive losses on slots, medium losses on roulette and major losses of self-esteem.

    Ok – remember – to join both of my podcasts for some of the best sh*t you will ever listen to this week. Off to the Utah Jazz game!