- Road Comedy Recap: 39 Hours in Ann Arbor November 14, 2022
I have written dozens, maybe hundreds of road comedy recaps from my adventures around the country, basically a multi-decade effort to validate focusing my adult life on the pursuit of a career in stand up comedy. But this weekend felt like both the apex and nadir of that career and these recaps. It began on Wednesday with my computer crashing and ended with me walking home smelling like The Walking Dead and getting my first good night of sleep in what feels like a decade (literally). So let’s get to it!
Wednesday: What the Fu*k Just Happened to My Computer?!
I woke up Wednesday and went to my computer to send some emails. And then my computer froze and crashed. I had planned on using some of my downtime in Michigan to write some sketches and although pen and paper work, they make it very difficult to conform with screenwriting formatting. I proceeded to curse, panic sweat and complain about my third PC in 3 years to crash (must be all my comedy content and the Bible passage browsing I keep doing). I packed the computer and brought it into the Geek Squad near my office in midtown. I was helped by a young Geek (good rap name right?) named Jose and he was very helpful (like an old person I had made an appointment for the wrong day and had a look of panic in my eyes and Yung Geek (or El Guique?) explained what he thought the problem was and that he could have my computer back to me by lunch on Thursday, either repaired or diagnosed with a hardware issue, which would then be a manufacturer’s warranty issue… which as coincidence would have it was set to expire 4 days later).
Thursday: Race Through The City and the Train to Ann Arbor
On Thursday I woke up, packed for Ann Arbor (my triumphant return to the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase club after a three year hiatus) and headed into the city an hour earlier than needed to get my computer from midtown. When I arrived at Geek Squad I was greeted by a Black woman (Jose was not there) and she seemed perplexed by my expectation that my computer would be ready. I assured her that Jose had told me I could have it back fixed, or at least diagnosed, by right now. She checked the paperwork and confirmed this and then came out and told me the computer had been repaired (YAY) and they just had to complete the repair paperwork.
Now, even though I had 90 minutes until my train for Ann Arbor left and was a mere 15 minutes from The Moynihan Train Station I was nervous because I had left all my belongings in a locker in MTS unlocked. Even though it is a secure and monitored lounge it still crossed my mind that I could go to Ann Abor with the clothes on my back and my computer and nothing else if a theft occurred.
So as I paced around the Geek Squad area of Best Buy waiting for the Black woman (I wrote a joke in my phone that she might call it Gique S’quad and then deleted it thinking, “don’t be a Black name hack!”). The woman arrived with my computer and said I might get a survey (I just gave both employees high marks) and that Jose helped me on Wednesday and that her name was Ideal (immediately retrieved and updated my text joke) when I filled out the survey. I thought to myself, when you go to Geek Squad to interview (or any job) and your resume says “Ideal” as your name, isn’t that the easiest hire of all time?
So I left with my computer and walked to the Times Square Chop’t to get a salad. There is a Chop’t in MTS, but since it is mostly tourists who have never ordered a $19 salad they often take a long time considering their options while people with salad slicing blades stare at them with NYC brand hostility. I got my salad and made it back to the VIP lounge in MTS and ate my salad awaiting the announcement for train 49 to Chicago. I made my way to my roomette and had a pleasant evening of reading a Jim Thopre biography and watching The Good Fight as the train made its way to Chicago.
Friday: The Red Roof Inn Plus
When I woke up at 530 am in my roomette I saw that the train was 35 minutes behind schedule into Toledo (where you transfer to the Amtrak bus that services Michigan cities and towns), which gave me enough time to get breakfast on the train (all meals are included for sleeper car passengers, but when the train is on time to Toledo there is not enough time to get breakfast before arrival). So I got in an extra meal and then got on the bus to Michigan around 7am. I made it to downtown Ann Arbor at 9, but because check in at my hotel was not until 3pm I secured a seat at the college Starbucks (the most nonstop busiest Starbucks I have ever seen) and proceeded to configure my computer, which had to be wiped clean to reinstall the operating system – which feels like a threat the rapper El Gique/Yung Geek would make on a rap track.
At 2 pm I made it to the Red Roof Inn Plus. Rather than write all about it, here is a video from one of my sets this weekend for you to enjoy and learn from:\
I also saw Ann Arbor’s fat squirrels and chronicled them for Twitter:
Friday night we had one show and it went well. I hung out after with a fan/friend named Lacee (her heroics will come later in the weekend) and her co-workers, one of whom looked like a progressive, Italian Lauren Boebert, which if you listen to my podcasts lets you know that I was close to changing my state of residency during my second gin and tonic.
I went back to the RRI+ after and got a solid 6 hours sleep, not a small feat considering this is where I was staying:
Saturday: Highway Shoutout, Old Friends & an Oath Keeper?
On Saturday morning I woke up and asked the RRI+ for a late check out (just an hour) because I was leaving town on a 3:15 am Amtrak after Saturday’s two shows. It was granted and then I made my way to the McDonald’s a mile away for breakfast. About 5 minutes into my walk a woman in a car exiting the highway yelled “J-L!” I turned and saw that it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s who was supposed to attend my Saturday show. She pulled over (technically it was her son driving, a friend of my younger nephew) and she told me that because of an illness in her family they were driving to Ohio and would have to miss the show. Like The Nothing in The Neverending Story wherever my comedy goes, bad things seem to happen. But before we said goodbye she informed me of a greasy spoon right near where we were talking that I should try over McDonald’s. So after she and her son drove away with my well wishes I went to the aforementioned diner and it was delicious. A+ pancakes. The pancakes were so good I was able to ignore the ten 3 percenters that were sitting right next to me.
I will also say, I wish I had gone to law school at Ann Arbor instead of Georgetown. Not only do I really like Ann Arbor (I like DC as well), but as a large human being who carries himself with the arrogance, but also deteriorating body of a former athlete, I felt a lot of looks like “I wonder if he played for the Wolverines.” And the answer would be yes.
I went back to the Friday Starbucks to read and review the video from Friday’s show. I then went to St Thomas the Apostle for 430pm vigil Mass and walked back to the main strip to meet my childhood friend Ian, his wife and two of their friends for pre-show dinner.
The first show was excellent and as I learned throughout the weekend, Michigan, so far, seems to have the highest percentage of platinum J-L fans. Owners of multiple albums, listeners to at least one of my podcasts and Patreon subscribers. Several people made long drives to make the show and it felt really good. One fan owned all 8 of my albums and had seen me for the first time almost a decade ago at a different Michigan club. If I had 25K Lees I would be the happiest comedian on Earth (that’s a lie, but I’d be happier. I would simply have to find other reasons to maintain my misery). The first show ended and then the second show had more diehard fans and a guy that I think may have stormed the Capitol.
The second show started well enough and I was discussing my vaccination status and an older, rugged man kept making comments. He was not being aggressive and seemed in good cheer so I decided to humor him and simultaneously shut it down. I said “you look like you were at the Capitol on January 6th, but you seem a lot calmer than some of your allies – probably because a lot of them are home alone in their moms’ basements, but you have a good looking woman on your arm (Lesson 1 in the J-L disarm a MAGA comedy audience member – be large, Lesson 2 – make them feel like they’re doing cancel culture if they boo you and Lesson 3 – appeal to their traditional sense of masculinity). He seemed pleased and entertained but did not stop talking. Then, an audience member, who I must imagine did not get a good look at the man, yelled “Read the room man and shut the fu*k up!” That made it awkward but Quaker Oath Keeper in front seemed to not be offended. The club manager (a kind, young woman, which I think helped de-escalate) said to him that he would have to stop talking or he would be asked to leave. To his credit the Ann Arbor Shaman remained quiet for the rest of the show, but he and his lady did not seem too pleased (especially during my bits about roasting Barron Trump and having hypothetical, law school sex with Tiffany Trump). When he left he shook my hand and looked me in the eye and it was a look that said “Once I accepted Christ I renounced violence. Lucky for you.” He had a large neck tattoo, which on a white guy in his 60s is about as strong a warning sign as there is. Like I said, the guy who stood up for me and told him to STFU clearly did not see the man up close.
Sunday – The Extraction
After the show I had some great long chats with big time fans and then Lacee met me after the show knowing I needed to kill time before the 3:15 am train. So we went near the club for a drink and some appetizers and I began the Lyft watch.
- 12:15am $95 to Toledo Amtrak
- 12:45am $156 to Toledo Amtrak
- 1:10 am $221 to Toledo Amtrak
- 1:40 am (when leaving) $365 to Toledo Amtrak
So at that point I began to panic and asked Lacee if she could begin driving me toward Toledo (which is at least in the direction of her home) and she did and about 6 minutes out of the downtown area the price was $156 – I immediately selected it and we pulled into a large (closed) shopping center to wait for the Lyft… which never came. He claimed to be in front of the store, but clearly he wasn’t. Lacee’s guess was that he actually saw the ride was to Toledo and then pulled some BS (as proof my $5 non-pick up penalty was refunded). So at that point the Lyft price had climbed back to $230 to Toledo so Lacee drove me to the Amtrak. At one point with a 20 minute buffer between our GPS arrival and the train departure I said “GPS says that way” and she said “But the highway entrance is right there (pointing to an entrance 50 yards away)” but that would have involved crossing a double yellow line or some by-the-book GPS nonsense so my GPS led us on an 8 minute time killer through local roads to get us back to the highway Lacee had pointed out.
We arrived at the station in plenty of time (the train would end up delayed 30 minutes anyway) and I thanked Lacee by promising her copious attention and ink in the road recap. I then got in my roomette and fell asleep on and off for the next 4 hours. I spent the day reading, watching stuff and finally made it through my door in Bloomfield, NJ at 830pm where I was hugged by my girlfriend despite smelling of a day of Amtrak and licked by Cookie, probably because I smelled like a day of Amtrak. After a shower I went to bed and had the first uninterrupted 7 hours of sleep I can remember in the last several years.
- Road Comedy Recap: Heavy Lyfting in Princeton October 31, 2022
This weekend I had a pair of gigs in Princeton, NJ at Catch A Rising Star. It was my first time back to the club in what feels like 10 years (it did not go well when I featured there a decade ago) and fortunately, thanks to a killer Saturday show, I left with my head held high. But until then it seemed like a potential disaster. So with that thrilling and misleading intro, let’s break down the most recent road trip!
Friday: Lyft Tears Me Down
On Friday I woke up early to get some legal work done (Spike Lee’s documentary about me, J-L Doin’ Work, was scrapped because reviewing documents by the Beige Mamba was deemed “not as interesting” as his Kobe documentary), hit the gym and then made my way to Newark Penn Station for the 6:03pm express train to Princeton, NJ. I would have taken the train to NPS and saved myself money, but NJ transit is shaped like a V in my area, with Secaucus as the pivot point of the V. You need to go all the way to Secaucus to get a train that goes along the other part of the V. So you end up going past Newark to get back on a different train line that runs through Newark. So to do that by train I would have had to leave at 430pm, whereas a 530pm cab would allow me to catch a better and faster train out of Newark Penn (which for TV enthusiasts is what The Walking Dead is based on).
So when I ordered my Lyft at 5:20 I was offered a faster ride (to arrive 8 minutes before the 6:03 train) if I upgraded to Lux (these are Lyft cars sans food/beverage/jizz stains) for a couple of dollars more. Then I got a text from my Lux driver:
“Are you going to [sic] far?”
I did not reply because I was going exactly as far as I wanted. Not one step more. So when my driverette (a female driver) showed up I hopped in and she asked where I was going. I told her Newark Penn Station and she said she wanted to go to NYC. I thought, “You can, as soon as you drop me off.” For the rest of the ride she kept nervously checking her phone, while hitting every bad patch of traffic. Then as we got near Newark Penn at 5:59pm she opted to go through the most clogged traffic near the station and I missed the 6:03 by 1 minute. She also rejected a person who was clearly her pick up at Newark Penn. To top it all off, she dropped me off in the 3rd lane of traffic so she could make an easy escape to whatever awaited her in NYC. When I opted to not tip her I noticed that she had 5 stars. Not since the last Terrence Malik film I saw have I seen something so absurdly overrated.
I caught the next express to Princeton and arrived at Princeton Junction at 7:00pm (8pm show time). The club is located in the Princeton Hyatt and GPS said it was a 1.3 mile walk. I opted to walk. And then .4 miles into the walk the sidewalk disappeared. This happens far too much in our car obsessed, fat fu*k society – even if you want to walk and keep the Grim Reaper at bay for another 20 minutes, you can’t. So I ordered another Lyft to take me less than a mile because to walk this path in the dark would probably spell my death via oncoming traffic. When my Lyft driver arrived he farted when I got in the car. And it smelled. His rating on Lyft? 5 stars.
I arrived at the hotel, checked in to a lovely king suite and then headed down to the club where there was an audience that could be described as “small.” We had a good show (I posted to Twitter a sad engagement where no one got my Opus Dei reference) and oddly enough the crowd seemed to like me more the longer I was on stage, which is contrary to many audiences and most relationships I’ve been in. A highlight was seeing a friend from my days in Washington DC when I was a law student. Sadly I have only seen him around once a decade and a joke that hit well on stage was “a friend of mine from DC who saw me when my career started is here tonight. He knew me when I was only performing in front of a couple dozen people in DC. Now, 19 years later he sees me in a different city performing for a couple dozen people. Dreams come true!” I retreated to my room with an ice cream bar after the show and got a solid 6 hours sleep.
Saturday: Better Show. Better Lyft Ride. Papa Johns’.
On Saturday morning I went to get breakfast. I saw a buffet display and was then told that it was for a private party. I then made my way down to the restaurant for an delicious, overpriced hotel breakfast (this is why I prefer Hampton Inns, the official hotel chain of J-L’s comedy “career” – breakfast is always included). After that I did something I never get to do – I read all the magazines and papers I subscribe to – The Athletic, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NY Times and Michael Cohen’s substack. I even spent 3 hours reading 1/8 of a ProPublica article! Then it was time to have lunch with a long time fan who also had a business proposal to pitch me (TBD). We went to a great pizza place in Robbinsville, NJ called Papa’s Tomato Pie. Superb.
After I returned to the hotel I did a few hours of writing. I then had a steak dinner at the hotel restaurant (at this point my spending for the trip was approaching the pay check I would receive at the end of the night for the weekend work). The set was strong (with about 40 new minutes since the (2) special tapings (angry emoji) to the point that I am planning on a spring taping of my 8th hour – tentative title “The Hateful 8th” – SELF PRODUCED) and as proof here is a clip from the show as well as a Facebook posting about one superb fan, that of course seemed to be interpreted by many on Facebook as more sentimental than funny, as it was intended, because… my #fans.
So after the show I had a drink with the other comics and the show promoter. I then decided to head home that night, rather than sleep in the hotel again (even though it was really nice). I kept checking Lyft (prices ranged from $66 to $121) and then I saw on the wait and save option $54 to go from Princeton to my apartment in Bloomfield. SOLD! My driver picked me up in a nice car (could have been a clean/jizz free Lux car, but was obtained via the common folk option) and beat the estimated arrival time by 14 minutes, all while laughing with me when I told him about Friday’s two awful drivers. I gave him a deserved 5 stars and a $20 cash tip because at the end of a weekend like this, someone good at their job should turn a profit.
Thanks to CARS in Princeton and thanks to everyone who showed up. Off to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 12 days.
- Road Comedy Recap: Destroying York and Nyack October 19, 2022
I am sitting in my old midtown Starbucks writing this in between another day at the law firm and before getting a haircut at my old barber shop before heading downtown to do a show at a restaurant for no money before returning to NJ for the night. So if you thought anything in my career or life had changed, it seems it has: I have a much longer commute home.
This blog is delayed by about 3 days because I was sick on Sunday, the Lord’s blogging day, and could not hammer this out. And then I had a busy week of podcasting and day jobbing and insomnia-ing. So this brief moment in between work, chores and unpaid comedy is when I can recount for you the absolute comedic destruction I delivered on Friday and Saturday. At this point, my comedy career feels like Neon in Blue Chips if Nick Nolte (and no one else) had ever discovered him in a small gym in “ALGIERS?!” He’d still be giving people work, but spending the rest of his days in business casual attire looming over a bunch of co-workers. So let’s get to it before this Starbucks closes…
Friday in York – Jean Betterman
I was picked up by friend and comedian Chris Lamberth from my apartment Friday afternoon for our journey to York, PA. We discusses movies and comedy for three hours and then got to our hotel. It was not a Hampton Inn so I cannot mention it as I try to preserve my potential future as a Hampton Inn spokesman (they get a solid shout out on my seemingly never to be released special Half Blackface, for which there will be a live memorial service on Sunday with my Patreon – if you want a ton of exclusive sketch videos, podcasts and more from me for very cheap you can join – just kidding! If you are a #fan of mine reading this, the last thing you want is to pay me for comedy). We then went to the Appell Center for the Arts in downtown York, and to my surprise the show was a sell out (I think lots of people just go to whatever is in town, but I did have plenty of fans there as well).
Daphne London led off the show with some funny musical comedy and then Chris did his thing from the middle spot. And then I killed it. There’s really nothing left to share. I had a set that was so strong with 80% new material since the two tapings of Half Blackface that I wish I had recorded it on high quality video and then thrown it out just to replicate the feeling from my greatest set ever in October 2021. I felt great after, sold a bunch of albums and then went to Iron Horse York for a post show meal celebrating my triumph. I ate a delicious piece of cake and went to sleep.
Saturday – Raising Money for Democrats in Nyack
Chris and I left York at 730 the next morning (or thereabouts) and made it an hour or so before stopping at an IHOP. After crushing that we went all the way back to NJ. But it was a quick turnaround for me because I had to go to Nyack to headline a small fundraiser for Democrats in Clarkstown, NY. Because NJ transit is dumb, here was how I had to go:
- 5:05 train to NY Penn Station
- Walk to Grand Central
- Get the 6:45 express Metro North to Tarrytown
- Take a Lyft across the Mario Cuomo (birth name Tappan Zee before it wanted to play boys’ sports) Bridge to the venue in Nyack
But J-L, why don’t you get a car? BECAUSE I AM NOT AN ENVIRONMENT DESTROYING LAZY PIECE OF SHIT. I LIVE NEAR THE TRAIN AND BUS AND FOR THE 2-3 DAYS A MONTH WHERE A CAR WOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE IT IS NOT WORTH THE INSURANCE, PARKING AND COSTS OF MANUFACTURING! PERHAPS IF MORE AMERICANS WOULD STOP LIVING IN NAVEL GAZING BUBBLES WHERE THEY BELIEVE THEIR ACTIONS HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES AND THEIR CONVENIENCE IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT IS BEST FOR THE WORLD THEY MIGHT STOP BITCHING ABOUT GAS PRICES AND TAKE PUBLIC TRANSIT OR WALK INSTEAD OF BEING A BUNCH OF FAT FUCKS ASKING ME WHY I DONT JOINT THE CARBON PARADE!
When I got there I finished mapping out my set in the green room and then proceeded to do an entire set of political material and impressions, about 2/3 of which I had written that day. It went over very well. Here is a clip:
I then mingled with people after, ate a brownie (an actual brownie, not a mini girl scout – I only respect Armie Hammer, I am not actually him) and then Pete Dominick, the comedian who organized the event, drove me to the Tarrytown Metro North at barely safe speeds allowing me to make the train back to the city by a minute. I then walked from Grand Central back to Penn Station in time to get a 12:20am to Newark, from where I procured a Lyft to take me home. When I arrived I ate a pint of ice cream while watching SNL. I fell asleep and when I woke 5 hours later I had such a bad sore throat that I was gagging on my phlegm and thought for about 10 minutes I might die (when my life flashed before my needlessly paranoid eyes – my two thoughts were that my special really was going to come out after I was dead and that my girlfriend and dog would be upset discovering my body, primarily because of how difficult it would be to move). For more on that fun experience – check out my podcast this week – just kidding, if you are a #fan I know you won’t!
Next road gigs? PRINCETON, NJ the end of the month!
- Road Comedy Recap: Boston Sleeps With The Phishes July 17, 2022
So this weekend I made a trip to Boston for an encore performance at City Winery. Last July my trip to Boston represented one of my first post/mid/where are we in the pandemic comedy road trips and it was a smashing success. Despite my pessimism at only being offered a Monday night spot I got around 150 people in the main room, met lots of fans and returned home to NJ the next day a conquering hero. So this year I felt even happier to get a Friday spot at CW. I had initially booked two Friday shows (the smaller room, which is better for comedy, seats 75 people so I figured 150 on a Monday in July = at least 150 tickets on a Friday in July). As my friend Duane said to me after the show on Friday, “I tried to buy tickets for the late show, but it was sold out.” I replied, “We canceled it because sales were awful.” He replied “Well you could have said nothing and let me think it was sold out.” I replied, “for better, and most certainly for worse, my entire comedy career’s essence forces me to say exactly what I just said.” So now that you know the middle of the road story, let’s get going on the whole thing.
The Way to Boston
I took a day off from work (I now try to factor in the cost of vacation days when taking a comedy gig, the way companies should factor carbon output into their value) and hopped on the 10:03am Acela to Boston. The train was uneventful. I helped my seatmate, a petite Asian woman, put her suitcase in the luggage compartment. Either I am getting weaker or Thor’s hammer was in her suitcase because that thing was heavy AF. The real highlight came when a fan, before departing one of the stops just outside of Boston tapped me on the shoulder and said she was a big fan. I said I was headed to Boston to do a show and she said she knew but her husband had tickets to Phish. As if that was not bad enough, some guy on the train (one of these Phish people that apparently have unlimited vacation days to tour the country to watch Phish) chimed in with “you’re going to Phish? Me too!” I wanted to say “Hey fella, can’t you see this is a fan-entertainer conversation? No one asked what the Ungrateful Dead fan thinks about any of this!” But instead I thanked the fan for her support and waited to arrive at South Station (as I learned this morning before leaving for NYC it is actually the Michael Dukakis Train Station – PUT SOME GREEK SALAD RESPECT ON HIS HAIRY NAME!)
I walked to my hotel, Club Quarters, from MDTS. Serviceable enough hotel, though my bathroom smelled very musky. Then it was time for sound check. The young staff on the show was all very nice and positive. The lead was a young woman whose experience working with artists and her psych degree clearly gave her a good set of skills to communicate with giant, despondent, self-deprecating comedic geniuses before shows.
I made my way back to my hotel to shower and go over my set list (of the show, at least 50 minutes were written in the last 2 months, post the new special). And on an extra good note, my friend Al, part of a Williams College group of friends coming to the show (Utah Jazz Coach and Class of 2008 Eph Will Hardy was disappointingly not there – he must still be busy helping demolish my favorite team – WHY COULDN’T IT BE AN AMHERST GRAD TO DO THAT!?), had been able to get on a last flight out of Chicago after his planned flight was canceled.
So I went on stage at 7:20 and outside of a bit on Mark Wahlberg and comparing terror attacks in Boston and NY to the Red Sox and Yankees, which did fine but ruffled some, I think the set was a big success. I do not want to mention some of the topics (simply because several of them are original and I would not want to inspire someone else to do bad versions of my work), but I will probably post some audio/and or video to my patreon this week. I also busted out an impromptu George Carlin impression for a bit where I was parsing some language. One fan was at the show 2 days after his father had passed, which was very touching and would have been a much more valid excuse to miss a show than Phish (just kidding Acela fan!).
But it turned out that in addition to all of Boston going away every weekend in the Summer, there were a ton of big concerts in the area on Friday. Not only Phish, but Zac Brown Band and, the big one nearby, New Kids On The Block, whose audience could only be described as a “white, middle-aged flesh tsunami” (as I dubbed it after the show). After the show my group of Williams friends and I made our way to a nearby sports bar to watch the Red Sox-Yankees game, which the Yankees predictably lost (since I was watching).
The next morning I woke up and read on a park bench downtown while having a cup of coffee. As I took in downtown Boston, and wrote in a tweet, it felt like watching American History get molested by a shopping mall. The proximity of commercialism and historical landmarks is so jarring, at least to a visitor. I then went with my friends and some of their kids to a family friendly brewery called Trillium (seems like an oxymoron, but it seemed to work – beer, kids, driving – what could go wrong?!). I had 3 drinks and then proceeded to play whiffle ball with everyone. My personal highlights were ripping a double with one hand and on a routine grounder, fielding it and then tumbling to the ground as some combo of beer, surgically repaired knee and 43 year old-thinking-he’s still 29-clumsiness took hold of me. I cannot imagine what that looked like to half a dozen elementary school age kids, but it had to have been jarring.
I had to take a Lyft back to Boston early because I had to go to Mass (since I am on Amtrak all morning and they don’t provide a snack car chaplain). I arrived in Little Italy for Mass, which meant I had to kiss my hand after doing every sign of the cross. I also noticed that there were a lot more young and attractive people at Mass in Boston than in NYC or NJ – is this because they are still trying to bag a Kennedy?
After Mass I went back to my hotel and prepped to go watch the Sox and Yankees with my friends, but after a long, fun and tiring day drinking and playing whiffle ball in the Sun the plan was nixed. So I did not get to watch the Yanks (of course they won 14-1).
I got up early for the 6:35am train back to NYC, which is where I am writing this. It is not an Acela train, but I am sitting next to a guy wearing a Brown University Sailing hat. It makes sense that I am on this regular people, slow train – comedians on the downside of their career are right at home. But someone on an Ivy League sailing team? You are not doing life right if you are on the poor people train.
- The End of the Utah Jazz July 1, 2022
This week the Utah Jazz, my favorite sports team for so many reasons (explained in a hilarious, poor audio quality mini special I recorded in Utah in February of this year), hired Will Hardy to be their next head coach. Coach Hardy went to Williams College where he played basketball. I also went to Williams College and practiced a lot of basketball (most of my college career was as a quad and biceps model in garbage time of games), graduating 7 years before Hardy did. So this week started as an exciting and hopeful one, but today that hope came crashing down as the Jazz traded franchise centerpiece and 3 time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for several first round picks and some players.
People have been telling me the Jazz got a great haul. But before I dig a lot deeper – let’s examine that assertion. The T-Wolves seem to be planning on title contention and making all those picks in the mid 20s – there will be no ZIon Williamson or Jayson Tatum in the Jazz’ draft future, unless they suck all on their own (without Gobert, this Jazz team actually has 1980s Doug Moe-Denver Nuggets defensive potential). But OK – let’s just accept for the sake of argument that Danny Ainge and the Jazz have made the decision to rebuild around Donovan Mitchell and this was a stellar haul for Gobert (in addition to the first round pick for Royce O’Neale). Best case scenario the Jazz are title contenders in 4 years? No guarantee of a title of course, but perhaps after they rebuild they will be even better than the best of the Gobert-Mitchell years. But if they don’t win a title (and even if they do) it will have cost them, to quote Thanos, “everything.”
I grew up in NYC so liking the Jazz was not logical and certainly not geographical. But I was drawn to the stats in The Sporting News (you used to wait once a week for a sports newspaper that your older brother subscribed to to see stats – welcome to pre-Internet!) and underneath the name Michael Jordan every week in the scoring leaders was “Karl Malone – UTA” and above Magic Johnson on the assists column was always “John Stockton-UTA.” This piqued my 8 year old curiosity and the way the two of them operated as a tandem was particularly enjoyable to a tall, bi-racial child whose Black father and white mother argued frequently. From 4th grade until today (I am currently wearing a Rudy Gobert Jazz jersey) I could be found in purple or purple adjacent attire – looking like a hoops-obsessed Barney or Grimace on a weight training program.
The Malone-Stockton years were great and I don’t know one Jazz fan who would trade Malone or Stockton (*clears throat* as players – without subsequent knowledge of past and future off the court activities) for an early 90s rebuild to see if they could topple the Lakers, Celtics or Bulls. The Jazz had relevance, high quality play and an identity thanks to Malone, Stockton and Coach Jerry Sloan. They lost to Jordan, which delights Jazz haters, but for Jordan’s GOAT status to mean anything to Jordan fans, it requires acknowledging that Malone and Stockton are all time great players, otherwise, how does defeating them twice enhance MJ’s legacy?
After Malone and Stockton, Andrei Kirilenko and Sloan kept me interested in the Jazz. They even won 42 games in the 2003-04 season with a starting lineup of: Carlos Arroyo, Gordon Giricek, Matt Harpring, Kirilenko and Greg Ostertag. That is literally a squad that should tank unintentionally and instead they missed out on the playoffs by a single game, if my memory serves me correctly. Their lack of talent caught up the next year which would lead to the Deron Williams-Carlos Boozer era – a time of brief, surprising success that was shattered with the retirement of Sloan. So the Jazz were forced into a rebuild… which they did expeditiously. It seemed the franchise always was in a hurry to get good. To be relevant. To give their fans a product worth cheering for. So they drafted Gordon Hayward (and made several other egregious draft errors – taking Enes Kanter and Alec Burks at 3 and 12 when Klay Thomson and Kawhi Leonard were available at 11 and 15 stands out to me) and Rudy Gobert and were back to being a 50 win team quickly after being terrible. They could never do it via free agency, but yet they managed to do it nonetheless. Hayward ditched the team on the precipice of being a top tier team, but then Donovan Mitchell arrived and that led us to the inchoate success of the Gobert-Mitchell era.
The playoffs have been frustrating and inconsistent recently, but 15 months ago the Jazz had the best record in the league. Mitchell is 25 and Gobert is 30. Malone and Stockton did not reach the finals until their 12th/13th seasons. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas legend, lost in a finals in 2006, won and MVP the next year, but was bounced from the playoffs in Round 1 (this would be the type of shame that might have ended his time in Dallas had social media been then what is is now), but he stayed and in year 12 (I think) he won a title against the Big 3 of Miami.
But contrast that with Giannis who won a title at 25 years old last season. Had they lost on a Kevin Durant 3 pointer or lost to the Suns, their coach might have been fired and the speculation that maybe Giannis was not “that guy” would have been in full force… for a 25 year old 2x MVP. It is insanity (a hint of it was delivered to Jayson Tatum after his finals performance this year). Like with our politics, social media has had an irredeemably and perhaps irreversible negative impact on sports. So now, the Jazz had to “blow it up” because two stars in their prime hit a rough patch.
But to many people reading this you may be thinking “it’s a business” or “if the Jazz want to win this is how it’s done,” but being a fan used to mean more than just that. Now you have superstars ring shopping, cheapening their careers and the value of the ring. I have no geographic or family ties to Utah. So the team and its culture are the only things that keep me so dedicated as a fan. Being able to watch the development of Gobert and Mitchell is part of what endears them to fans like me. Yes, the uniform matters, but seeing their growth and talent in that uniform is an x factor that cannot be quantified merely by wins and losses. Gobert roasted Hayward when he ditched the Jazz for the Celtics and now he has been dealt away with the same level of mercenary disloyalty. The Jazz that won 42 games with Kirilenko and a G league roster is why I root for the Jazz. Because, at the risk of sounding corny, doing it the “right way” still counts. Or it should. And the fact that Rudy and Donovan might both compete for titles in the next 3-5 years leads me to ask the obvious “why not try and keep them together?” Maybe they needed their Hornacek and Sloan, instead of the franchise needing a new Malone and/or Stockton.
A good friend told me something many years ago that I reference from time to time. He had said (this was at least 10 years ago) that with the rise of the Kardashians, monetizing everything they possibly could, young people no longer registered “selling out” as a negative. Survey responders did not even really register the concept. And I think that mindset has really taken hold to an absurd degree. After Hamilton made Lin Manuel Miranda 9 figures his next stop? American Express pitchman. After Watchmen, Regina King endorsing Wells Fargo. And a mere month after seeing Paperboi mock woke capitalism on Atlanta, I saw the actor who plays Paperboi doing a Tulsa Massacre ad for Citibank. I know people have been selling out forever, but it was not as common as it is today (American actors had to do their commercials in Asia so as to not tarnish their image). These are just the examples that popped into my head while writing this, but it seems that the ends justify the means to truly absurd degrees (all the way to a recent White House occupant that declared “They’re not here to hurt me”). A championship. Money. Power. Followers on tik tok. The list goes on and on. It is not that this is occurring that is alarming – it is that it is becoming the default expectation and not the negative exception.
So seeing the Jazz go into this mode, selling off an all time great in his prime is normal for our time. I get that. But what makes you think a bi-racial kid from NYC being a die hard Utah Jazz fan for 35 years considered “normal” his number one criterion for supporting a team? Maybe the Jazz will get really good. Maybe they will win a title. But it will have cost them more than just Rudy Gobert. And whatever that cost is, they can now never get it back.
- Convenience Over Life June 8, 2022
Jimmy Carter warned that the country needed to get off of fossil fuels over 4 decades ago. Needless to say we did not listen. Or perhaps we listened and did not like what we heard because Carter was given the boot for Ronald the Baptist, who would unknowingly, but certainly, pave the way for Donald Christ. Unfortunately, this is emblematic of modern American politics: a lethal combination of short term selfishness and long term stupidity. And I should be clear, this is not a “both sides” argument. I simply say “modern politics” because the reality is that the American Republican party controls our politics, not as a majority representing the will of the people, but more like the way stage 4 Lung Cancer controls the life of a longtime smoker. And given that enough Americans seem to want to continue metaphorically smoking rather than seeking moral and political chemotherapy, we may really be in the end phase of America’s “greatness,” however you might define that. I think that even goodness may be too high a calling for America.
Of course, while acknowledging the obvious asymmetry in what causes our political paralysis and cynicism, this does not mean the Left is absolved. “Do Something!” they shout and tweet after a mass shooting, but do they yell at their neighbors to “do something!” on Election Day? Do they themselves vote and participate in the boring parts that make democracy work, or do they rely on cynicism on those days, staying home to tweet dissatisfaction? “We must solve homelessness!” but do they support higher taxes or shelters and/or affordable housing near their properties? “We need criminal justice reform!” but do they balk at long term policing and prosecutorial changes the first instance some crime ticks up from record lows (I added this one after the San Francisco DA was recalled)?
The problem is that even though the Right is far more responsible for the denigration of Democracy & the dysfunction of D.C., the whole country appears afflicted to some degree.
A couple of weeks ago I was driving (OK – being driven) from Philadelphia, PA to Sellersville, PA for a show. As we increased our distance from the city to the suburbs and towns I noticed, like hundreds of trips I have taken around the country, that the houses got bigger and nicer. Without any data or even knowing the economic or political information about the specific towns I went through in Pennsylvania I can say with certainty that I have been to dozens of affordable towns over the years with houses and properties that would be 5x as expensive or more if located closer to cities (or even strip malls). But this appears to be America’s promise – if you are willing to drive a long way, American Dream – classic edition is still within reach for more people than it should be.
Living in cities costs more and comes with benefits, but those benefits are often paid for and are ecologically more sustainable. These places are often vilified by the Right, but Blue cities and states clearly contribute more to the national economy and less to national gun deaths (per capita). To quote Col. Jessup, “I would rather you say thank you and be on your way.” As I listen to the stories about gas prices hurting Americans I have to wonder: did people never think the bill would come due? Instead of treating this as the 20th foreshadowing of the ecological and economic catastrophe of climate change, it is treated as an inconvenience or a deprivation of the fundamental right to cheap gas and a larger carbon foot print as long as you are willing to drive an hour or two a day to get to your American dream (which, of course, compounds the problems).
I think the aforementioned guns are another good example of this at work. Some states pass laws to protect their citizens from gun violence, but they are only as strong as the porous gun laws in neighboring states. But once again, the freedoms of the (majority) conservative spaces in this country are sacrosanct and the rights to clean air, life and a future for the actual majority seem to be allowed only as far as they are compatible with the immediate whims and desires of “Real Americans,” who love their country more than anyone, but often seem to live in spaces with… fewer Americans.
The American Dream has become an environmental, economic and emotional Ponzi scheme. Except if you point out the problem early (Jimmy Carter) you will get voted out and if you preside over the consequences (Joe Biden) your approval ratings will plummet. How can anything actually get done when enough of the voting public will punish you for trying to solve a problem or blame you before you can fix it? The Right often acts like food stamps and other forms of assistance create a dependency that will ruin the country and the communities that are (perceived to be) the beneficiaries of those benefits. Yet somehow, many Americans need never make the choice between more expensive housing or higher gas prices, because living cheaply is the right of “real Americans.” This is not a sustainable model for a country or a future. No one would accept a politician saying “If you wanted cheaper gas bills at the pump, maybe you should have worked harder so you could live closer to your job or the city!” And yet, it has always been a viable political argument to so many in this country to decry poverty as more of a life choice than middle class comforts as the choices that they actually are.
We will not limit guns, even if to save the lives of some children. Gun control cannot stop all shootings. But is it not worth stopping some shootings? Is unlimited cheap gas some inalienable right or something we should have moved beyond decades ago? Is shoplifting and homelessness the fault of progressive DA’s in the first 2 years of their tenure, or symptoms of problems going back decades?
Covid, as I feared, proved the depth of our concern with the individual over the greater good. If we are bombing brown people we must be united as a nation, but to save life, the personal burden of wearing a mask or getting a vaccine was too intrusive for many. How can we expect people to become more selfless when we couldn’t stop being selfish as a million Americans died? How can we expect to save the planet for our grandkids when we couldn’t wear a mask to save our grandparents?
To end on a truly depressing note (before I read the article in today’s New York Times about the “environmental nuclear bomb” in red Utah), I was waiting for a train in New York’s Penn Station a couple of afternoons ago and a homeless man, who clearly had intellectual disabilities, was asking for money. He had cigarette burns in his sweatshirt. He seemed genuinely harmless as he walked from person to person saying “excuse me, do you have change?” Sadly I did not have money on me. I thought to myself, how are we a society where a man to exist like this? How much would it be worth to make sure he has a roof over his head, clothing that does not look ravaged from both nature and humans, and safety from a world that I can only imagine has been unimaginably cruel to him? How much would the pro-life Right and the progressive Left be willing to add on to their gas bill or gun permit fee? Sadly, I think the answer is $0 and that seems appropriate for a country headed quickly toward moral bankruptcy.
- Road Comedy Recap: Virginia is for Hecklers May 1, 2022
This weekend I made my way down to Washington, DC for a pair of shows as I prepare for the re-taping of the special whose name we dare not speak. The trip began with an Uber ride worthy of the Fast and Furious Franchise and ended with a woman yelling at me that she had been abused by a priest. Let’s just get into the recap! Also the recap of my Buffalo road trip is part of a bonus episode of my podcast now available on my very robust and very cheap Patreon. Link available on my website menu above.
I don’t have friends. I got Uber
I have not used Uber in many years. I deleted it off of my phone and have used Lyft when I need a ride app because I believe choosing the company with fewer scandals and sexually assaults is responsible and engaged citizenship. But when I am about to miss my last chance to get to DC on time on a Friday, my sympathy for Me Too becomes AFTER ME! The wait for Lyft on Friday afternoon was “limited availability.” which struck me as odd so I asked my girlfriend if she still had Uber on her phone. She did because our relationship is a lie! “I THOUGHT WE AGREED TO DELETE UBER! But while you still have it can you check if a car can get me?” The wait said 15 minutes, which would get me to Newark Penn Station at 3:08 for a 3:13 train. Close call, but I had no option. And then I waited about 23 minutes. So right there it seemed my window had all but closed. When I got in the car, the school crossing guard stopped us before we could go through the light. I slapped my (non-surgically repaired) knee and said “FU*K!” My driver remained calm and non-judgmental and said “you are in a hurry? I will do my best to get you there quickly.”
What proceeded was one of the two greatest cab performances I have ever been part of. The first was the guy many years ago who got me from LaGuardia airport to midtown Manhattan in record time and for the cheapest price I’d ever had by using a series of side streets. It was Harry Potter level shit. The other one was this driver who employed barely legal and perhaps extra-legal methods to get me to Newark Penn with six minutes to spare. It was like a Fast and Furious reboot where Dom is behind the wheel and The Rock is anxious and hasn’t been to the gym in a while sitting in the backseat. And Vin Uber managed to never really be reckless. The ride was $20 but I gave him $40 in cash as a tip and told him his heroism that day would be immortalized in a comedian’s blog.
Night 1: Washington, DC
On my Acela train to DC (I call the Friday afternoon Acela to DC the adultery express, simply because it seems to feature a high number of attractive women and old men) I sat next to a woman who sort of looked like an older, but healthier Lindsey Lohan. When I got to Union Station I ate a Chopt Salad and mapped out my set for the 8pm show at Baby Wale (no affiliation with the the DC rapper, though I assured the crowd that there would be a cease and desist order arriving any day). Several die hard fans showed up, as well as middle aged women who I believe left very disappointed that I did very few impressions and lots of jokes that were not super nice.
After the show, show booker and comedian Jon Yeager drove me to Springfield, VA where he had booked me a Motel 6. During my stay I thought there might have been a tear drop tattoo convention being held in one of their presidential suites, but it turns out it is just sort of a motel for ruffians. As I told the crowd on Saturday, they didn’t leave the light on, but the moonlight shining off of the police caution tape did create a warm, welcoming glow. I was in Room 114 because we could not afford the upgrade to where the players dwell. This was my second hotel in the last 6 months with bulletproof glass for the front desk, in case you are wondering if fame and fortune have had a positive effect on my career.
Night 2: Culpeper, Virginia
The next day I read, but to make up for that un-American activity I ate breakfast at McDonald’s and lunch at Chick Fil A. To kill the afternoon before Jon picked me up for the trek to Culpeper (one p, so I pronounced it Culpeeper to the crowd for the night) I reviewed my first special taping to make more notes for the re-taping on May 14th. Remind me never to do that again. That set and crowd really should have been my walk-off and I was tempted on Saturday while listening to call off the second taping on principle. But the thing about principles and comedy is that principles always lose and no one cares. So SHOW STILL ON!
The show in Culpeper was at The Sangria Bowl – a very nice Latin restaurant with a staff of nice young Latin women. it was located across the street from the Culpeper GOP headquarters so I couldn’t tell if this was some sort of advanced Get Out trap to lure me in with tostones and attractive Latinas while the sundown committee across the street plotted my demise, but I stayed anyway.
The show went well. A remarkably diverse crowd for a town that the census lists as 109% white. I worked through material and issues and was ready to close with my bit on Holy Water when a woman yelled. Now the first time she yelled was to tell me she did not believe I was half Black. But I eventually won her over. The next time she yelled was 3 lines into my Holy Water bit to say “I WAS MOLESTED BY A PRIEST!” Now, there are many ways to deal with a heckle or an interruption, but that is a tough one. Perhaps if I was some edge lord douche I would have said “well he had terrible taste” or “well at least it was not a boy” but sometimes battles are not worth fighting, so I just said “Obviously I am very sorry to hear that. Well, let’s move on to my bit about how my Mom beat breast Cancer” (which is what I did – comedy life hack – a great time to work on material that is often somewhat uncomfortable is when an audience member has screamed about being a victim of child sexual abuse – the crowd is then way more amenable to Cancer material than they might have previously been.”
After the show Jon and I chatted with some new fans (at least one of whom said they would read this blog – THIS IS A FAN TEST) and then drove back to the Motel 6, which had actually been downgraded to a Motel 4 during the day. We stopped at a Wendy’s where I treated myself to a medium chocolate frosty and then slept for 5 hours before waking up to go to Church, during which a priest yelled at me “I WAS MOLESTED AT A COMEDY SHOW!” Now I wait for the Acela back home to New Jersey. Have a great week folks (join the Patreon!)
- Road Comedy Recap: Best 12 Hour Stretch of My Career? April 10, 2022
This weekend I was booked almost last minute to headline McGuire’s Comedy Club in Bohemia ON Long Island (I was told after the show not to say I am “in” Long Island). Now whereas Long Island’s politics range from Trump to Don Jr in the towns I have played, the closer you get to the Atlantic Ocean the more those Trump politics become more Ginni Thomas and Marjorie Taylor Greene. But with the re-shoot of my special a little over a month away, a decent check for a one show gig and nothing else on my schedule I said I would take it (my first time at this club). It ended up being a great show for reasons I will detail and the great show was merely the opening act for other great news Saturday would bring. So without further adieu!
My day actually began with a trip to Riverdale in the Bronx to pick up a bookshelf from my Mom’s apartment. (The Bookshelf also sounds like an awful A24 film that would be nominated for 4 Oscars). I have exceeded my bookshelf capacity in my apartment (NERD) so I asked if I could I could take one of my Mom’s which would fit my needs and match with my dog Cookie’s color scheme. So I took a 9:55am bus from Bloomfield to Port Authority Bus Terminal to the A train to 168th street, transferred to the 1 train, got off at 231st street greeted by a 3 minute rain/hail storm (seriously the 3 minutes couldn’t have happened during the preceding 100 minutes I was inside transportation?) and then the Bx10 bus to my Mom’s apartment (a/k/a my childhood home).
I hung out with my Mom for a couple of hours, during which she asked why I did not shave if I had a show, at which point I told her 4 days of Islamic teen stubble on my face (the closest I can really get to a beard) would be the least of my worries performing for the OAN fan club. Then the guy with a truck I hired to move the book shelf arrived. We put it in his truck, which he delivered to Bloomfield, NJ and I made my way back to the A train to catch a 4:24 train to Oakdale, Long Island.
Long Island Dominance
Both legs of my Long Island RR trip were not very crowded, but on each train I managed to have mask-less MAGA dudes sitting next to me, one of whom apparently though that even covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze was too much of a concession to the woke mob. When I arrived in Oakdale I ventured into a Dunkin Donuts to kill time before ordering my Lyft to the club, which was approximately 4 miles away.
When I went into the Dunkin Donuts a woman was talking to the clerk as if she knew him (like the mother of a friend type dynamic, which is also how a lot of porn starts) and she said “How’s school going?” to which he replied, “Well I am actually not enrolled this semester because of the booster requirement.” Now before I became fully aroused with erotic patriotism for this American hero, I thought “if the choice was between a degree and donuts, maybe you should have gotten the shot? And if it was the booster you had a problem with, does that mean you already got the first 1 or 2 shots?” Well, after drinking my coffee and saluting this icon I hopped into a Lyft to the club.
When I arrived at the club I saw that it was pretty packed (Free Ticket Energy) and I gave my intro to the manager. I decided Howard Stern and Billions would be well known and helpful credits when performing in front of Newsmax Plus and the manager immediately deflated me when he came back to me and said “Now Howard Stern is a radio show? And – ohh Billions is a TV show!” And yes, my name was wrecked at the top of the show as well giving me the triple crown of “Who gives a sh*t who the headliner is” vibes. Everyone was very nice though so I sort of didn’t give a sh*t either.
After the emcee and feature both got the crowd going I went up and had one of the best sets of my life. I don’t mean it was the funniest I’d ever been or it was the tightest set I’d ever had. But over the course of an hour, while never ceding any ground or trying to run from the fact that I am a Biden-voting Democrat that thinks the Trump family is a huge pile of excrement, I won them over big time. Like Johnny Lawrence handing Daniel the trophy at the end of Karate Kid level respect. I got big laughs, a few harmless heckles, zero slaps and fairly robust merch sales after the show. I also had a discussion that probably turned into a podcast with a group of hard core MAGA dudes that loved my set. And one of the keys to my success, which I loathe to give away, is that I have come up with the perfect way to untighten right wing crowds when they hear stuff they don’t like (which was like 4 times during my set). By the end of the show I felt like I had gone into an opposing team’s stadium and dropped 45 on them (points, not Trump hats). Even better analogy, I felt like Rocky in Rocky IV in Russia (and not just because half of the crowd probably supports Putin) as the crowd realizes that what they are watching from the Italian (looking) guy is undeniable.
UpLyft for the Soul
So after a show that went great and the fact that my next possible train out of Oakdale was in an hour, I decided to check the Lyft app and saw that a car from the Atlantic Ocean back to Bloomfield, NJ was only $108. It would also get me home before the beginning of SNL. So I said – “fu*k it – I am treating myself after this perfect day of book shelf moving and comedy crushing.” My driver arrived, a young, eager to please Indian (I believe) fellow. He accepted the ride, but seemed sort of nervous about going what would be a very long drive. I assured him I would give him a big tip. At that point he pulled over to a rest stop and I had to tell him I meant money.
So as he drove at a fast, but still controlled speed I could see that he was on pace to get me home in 70 minutes instead of the estimated 90. So with 30 minutes left in the ride I asked my Twitter followers to Venmo me money for the driver and I would add their money to my $50 tip. Well when we got to my building at 11:08pm I gave him $50 tip on the app (the max it would allow which seems stupid) and $141 in cash representing the donations from fans. He was very grateful and I thought, what a great end to the night. Little did I know it would get even better
From Bookshelf to Booker
When I got upstairs to my apartment, I looked on my phone and saw that a video I had posted earlier of me impersonating NJ Senator Cory Booker had been retweeted… by Senator Cory Booker! So the video has been blowing up for the last day (I just added an Eric Adams video to Twitter and YouTube). And as the cherry on top of an absolutely perfect 14 hour run, I did not think SNL sucked!
- Road Comedy Recap: Utahpia February 14, 2022
I am writing this last installment from a 4 hour delayed Amtrak to Pittsburgh. I was supposed to be off of this train 3 hours ago, but engine troubles in Chicago and freight traffic derailed that plan. Because of the extensive delay, my connecting train from Pittsburgh to Newark has already left the station so a bus in Pittsburgh will take me to my final destination of New Jersey. I have often compared my comedy career to a horror movie – when you think victory has been secured, THAT is when the villain arises from behind and slits your throat. The final leg of my “Paid Vacation Tour” (as I joked with the crowd in Utah – better for your mental health to say “I got paid for comedy while on vacation” than “my comedy gigs keep losing me money.” So here is the Utah/journey home finale of the early 2022 road recap series.
Wednesday: Road Warrior to See the Jazz Beat the Warriors
The girlfriend (Laura) and I left Vegas early on Wednesday morning to make our way to Salt Lake City for the Jazz-Warriors game. Since I have been behind the wheel twice in the last 21 years all the driving would be the responsibility of Laura. Averaging 90mph for 6 hours we arrived in Salt Lake City shortly after 4pm. But not before stopping for gas and a nature photo in Provo
The game that night started poorly with a 13-0 Golden State run, but for most of the game after that the Jazz kicked their ass. That made my career record 2-0 when attending Jazz games in person in Utah. Might be time for a key to the city. As a bonus, I was invited on for an hour with the local ESPN radio affiliate to talk comedy and the Utah Jazz on Friday’s show. Of course, in classic J-L form – that appearance would be a day after my Thursday show in Jordan, Utah so it only counted as promotion for Utah people with time machines.
Thursdays Were The Best Days
Thursday started with a nice breakfast at the Homewood Suites we were staying in and then it was time for my (now legendary) visit to the Utah Jazz team store. I ended up spending $666 on merch (the mark of the hype beast?), but more importantly I made my first real goofy tik tok that people seemed to enjoy. Since the store was empty at 1130 am except for employees (who, like everyone we encountered from Utah, were incredibly nice) I had free reign to film various video clips, which I stitched together into a Pretty Woman parody.
After the shopping spree we toured some of the LDS sights downtown and then met a longtime Twitter friend (Spencer Hall – a big Jazz blogger I began following like 12 years ago who looks like a boy band Tim Tebow and also, as I would learn, is some kind of connected dude in Salt Lake City) for dinner. Here is a pic of us in front of a giant Jazz mural that he and his lady brought us to.
Then we headed to Jordan Landing for the show at Wiseguys. I will be putting out a 21 minute video on my YouTube later this week called The Utah Jazz Mini Special. About 15 minutes of the set is Utah Jazz material and a new bit about Mormon history that I learned on our tour of the LDS sights referenced above. The show was a home run and thanks to the crowds in Chicago, LA and Utah I sold out of the merch I brought with me. A truly great night until I got back to our hotel and Laura asked “Where is your jacket?” See, when you are so hot on stage you can literally heat yourself and not realized you don’t have a coat until an hour later, despite Utah temperatures. But the next morning, on his way to his day job, the Wiseguys manager that night, Jose, brought me my coat to the Homewood Suites. Like I said, super nice people.
Friday – The Streak Continues
On Friday, after a poor night of sleep because I was coming to grips with the fact that I would have to re-shoot my comedy special (listen to this week’s Righteous Pk podcast for some laughs and despair), I made my way to the local ESPN radio affiliate for an hour on air. It was a great time talking comedy and some hoops with Spencer Checketts before heading to the Toyota Club of the Vivnt Arena at 530 for the complimentary buffet/banquet before the game (when you buy 8th row center court seats you get some perks… like sitting next to 10 year olds with rich parents). The Jazz won the game, running my streak to 3 wins while attending Jazz home games (definitely deserve key to the city).
We then went back to the hotel to sleep because I had a 3:30 am train out of Salt Lake City Saturday.
Planes, Trains and What the fu*k is Happening?
I got my train at 3:30 and settled in for an additional 2 hours of sleep. Laura, who was flying home, would end up having a 10 hour delay in her departure, turning a noon flight into a red eye. During her trials and tribulations I would end up having the most beautiful train ride of my life in the Colorado portion of the trip (just like Kansas was the state to sleep through on the way to LA, Nebraska earned that designation on the California Zephyr route to Chicago.
When I arrived in Chicago is when everything went to shit. No need to bore you with the details, but I am still not in Pittsburgh and my dog Cookie puked this morning, which means one thing: it is time for me to be home already. Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed this three week odyssey (remember to subscribe to my YouTube and Instagram for all of my travel photos and sketches- and lastly – tune into Billions on Sunday the 20th for my cable drama debut.
- Road Non-Comedy Recap: Las Vegas February 10, 2022
As a break between gigs in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, I did something I have not done since 2018 or 2019… I took a vacation! Admittedly it was a 24 hour vacation to break up travel between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, but it still counts! The only two times I have visited Vegas in my life were both with my family. The first was in college with my basketball team and my family visited so I did no gambling and no clubbing (and to be honest not even that much basketball playing) and the next time was to take my Mom for her birthday with my brother many years ago. it was fun enough, but buying three tickets to Thunder Down Under was a lot more awkward than we anticipated. So this time I was meeting my girlfriend for a Masks Up, Finances Down trip to Sin City!
I took an 830 am Greyhound from LA to Vegas and unlike my bus ride from San Jose with 3 recently released felons (see previous road recap blog) this bus ride really felt like it had a criminal element. The woman behind me was going to get her son who was recently released and the woman next to her never stopped talking on her phone for 5 hours (no mask – so spreading her profanity-laced droplets). In the back of the bus, which I ventured through only once for a Cirque du Soleil-level piss on a moving bus, I saw an awkward white dude surrounded by sleeping Black dudes and it made me laugh because it felt like a Greyhound reboot of The Mad Real World from Chappelle’s Show.
When I arrived at the Vegas bus dept, I hopped on a local bus with an incredibly unhelpful bus driver (DUDE – YOU WORK AT A TRAVEL DEPOT IN A TOURISM CITY – HOW DO MY QUESTIONS BOTHER YOU?). I arrived at the MGM Grand and my girlfriend met me on line waiting to check in. We had a large room, but had to walk down a long hallway that smelled like a stripper ready to go on stage (post perfume, pre-sweat and Champagne Room).
Then it was time to gamble. Long story short on gambling – the Wheel of Fortune machine was our best friend. I ended up losing money eventually, but the only time I was in the plus was with my success on that machine. My girlfriend, meanwhile, crushed the shit out of the machine, winning every time except for once. I lost everywhere I went – Game of Thrones and Little Shop of Horrors machines ended up murdering me (I know the fun-theme machines suck because casinos know you will play based on the theme regardless of how expensive the plays or how bad the pay outs… but I did it anyway). I then placed $20 on my college number (33) on roulette. The only positive to losing that is that a couple wearing Let’s Go Brandon masks followed my lead with more expensive bets, hoping I would be good luck. So they lost their MAGA dollars at least. I must admit, I did not have the same level of disdain for them as the usual MAGAts because they were following casino rules on Covid, which plenty of people were not. So if it’s between hating Joe Biden and not spreading Covid and hating Joe Biden and spreading Covid, I will tip my ironic red hat to the former.
Then we went to Craftsteak, an outstanding and expensive restaurant in the hotel. I was able to retroactively count it as Valentine’s Day dinner, so that means I get a break Monday… pizza party! Then we headed to see Vegas/Magic legend David Copperfield. We both enjoyed the show, though some of the theatric elements were a little too much for me. And, as a big fan of the show Arrested Development (the greatest tv comedy of all time – Netflix seasons do not count), it is hard to take magic 100% seriously after Wil Arnett’s GOB performance. And the most inadvertently hilarious part of the show was how many non-English speaking/barely speaking people Copperfield ended up selecting for demonstrations.
So that was it – the next morning we got out early for a 6 hour drive to Salt Lake City, which is where I am typing this now. The epic Salt Lake Recap will be written Saturday from Amtrak as I wrap up the epic vacation/tour.