• The Republican Party Is Anti-American March 2, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    Observing the Democratic Party for the last decade, it has become clear that it represents America. This is not about economic, racial, religious or ethnic demographics, though by those measurements, the statement would be true as well.  I simply mean from both political and governing standpoints, the Democratic Party represents America. We have politicians and voters who are on most sides of many issues, from economic policy, affirmative action, abortion, Israel, law enforcement, climate change (thanks Joe Manchin for helping us be diverse here) and everything else.  The common threads binding Democrats are a belief in democracy and a belief that the people elected to govern, should govern.  And it is these last two things that now mark the biggest distinction between the Democratic and Republicans parties.  I believe Mark Wahlberg described the GOP best in The Departed:

    Before I go further, I recommend you listen to this weeks episode of Rain On Your Parade podcast (find it on the podcast tab). The episode was focused on American democracy and covers what I will not be covering today (how to make America more democratic – it was not a very hopeful episode, but I believe it is the best one so far of my rebranded show).  This blog, is more about how congressional Republicans no longer are interested in the two pillars of their jobs: democracy and governing.

    Imagine a basketball team if you will. In practice, you scrimmage, run drills and try to compete for your own individual success to secure more playing time for yourself.  But in the end, once the coaches have selected playing time based on those results, the team is then unified in the goal of winning games together.  There will be disagreements sometimes on who is playing well, who deserves more time, etc. but the overall goal never changes: winning as a team.

    Now imagine a basketball team, where two members of the starting five do not like what the way the coaches are drawing plays and distributing playing time, so they proceed to injure their teammates… during games.  That might be disturbing to see, wouldn’t it? That is what the Republican Party is at this point.  There is an element of the GOP that cannot govern, but the vast majority do not want to govern. And that is why it is time to do away with the fallacy that “we all play for the same team: America.” We don’t.  Democrats are trying to do the work of the American people for the benefit the American people (they may disagree within the ranks on how to do it, but there is not an “anti-governing” wing of the Democratic Party). Now you could be the rare, principled Republican team player like Mitt Romney, who might have genuine disagreements on policy. But that is because he might think he has a better path to success. But the vast majority of Republicans are driven by nothing more than appeasing Trump and schadenfreude – seeing Democrats fail, no matter how much it hurts America, is the joy.  Republicans will cut of your nose to spite the Democrats’ face.

    Congrats GOP!

    The Republican Party is not an “opposition party” anymore. It is an anti-American party.  Their inactions and obstructions are not based on policy (see the border legislation as a good example) and they are not really based on fact (if you can say the Biden economy is a disaster you are either a liar or dangerously ignorant).  They are based on stopping the very workings of democracy and impeding the function of government: to govern for the benefit of its constituents.

    But the American people seem all to willing to indulge in the fantasy that “Democrats and Biden” can’t get things done.  For example, when the child supplemental income failed to renew (despite slashing childhood poverty by 30% I believe), it was 48 Democrats who voted for it, 1 or 2 who voted against it (Joe Manchin – basically a Reagan Democrat) and 50 Republican Senators who voted against it.  If you think 96% of Democrats voting for something to help children and 0% of Republicans is a DEMOCRAT problem, then you are doing the GOP’s work for them.  The Republican party has lowered the bar for themselves so much that America basically looks at Democrats to do 100% of the work with 50% of the workforce and then blames them for not doing the LITERALLY impossible (if you believe in math and constitutional law).  Here is the comparison I made in my special, TALL BOY, last year:

    So, to say this for the 1000th time, if you care about American principles and American people, there is one party that both wants to help people and is doing/trying things to help people. The other party, if they sat and did nothing, would be improving upon their current stance, which is to actively impede progress.  In fact every time Republicans actually are able to do something (with permission from their dominatrix Donald Trump) it ends up unpopular (tax cuts for the rich, getting rid of Roe v Wade). Republicans cannot govern and they don’t want to govern. The only thing more contemptible that what the Republicans are currently doing, would be knowing who they are and returning them to power.

  • Starbucks Mobile Ordering Is The Enemy February 24, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    Most days of the week I will take a break from watching shows, being depressed and working a day job (the three things most common among self-described “comedians”) to go to my local Starbucks for a reading break (which now also doubles as a “listen to 4 or 5 people watch and listen to things on their phones without earphones” break).  My order is pretty consistent (green tea and either a croissant or a cookie) and even if it wasn’t, they would know me by the fact that I am super tall and in there about 5.5x a week.  But as I have had plenty of time to observe how Starbucks works, I must say that one true enemy has emerged: mobile ordering.  Child trafficking, Trump and climate change are all bad, but I don’t think modernity’s problems can be so succinctly summarized as they are in Starbucks mobile ordering.


    I often find myself harmlessly jealous of the comradery that the employees at my NJ Starbucks display.  As a comedian I work alone and travel alone and can assure you I am horrible company and a horrible co-worker for myself.  But the workers at my Starbucks seem to treat each other well and be friendly with each other, which I would guess, in the absence of union protections, is a reflection of their manager.  Obviously one of the benefits of unionization would be not having to depend on the variances in franchise leadership for a solid work environment, but in the case of mine, her style and leadership seem to be working.  But mobile ordering cannot be fixed by a local manager.

    I have joked on my podcast, Rain on Your Parade, that Starbucks baristas have basically become bartenders that we pay like Wal-Mart greeters. Now I know the pay is better, joke killers, but the volume of orders that flood in on the mobile system are absurd sometimes.  Whereas, a line would keep the pace manageable, and sometimes discourage people who don’t want to wait 20 minutes for a coffee or a milkshake masquerading as a coffee, mobile order allows you to make a wish like Aladdin, as if it is consequence and labor free.

    One diabetesappuccino please!

    I do not know the numbers, and I am too lazy to google them right now, but I am sure that the volume of increased orders thanks to mobile ordering is outpacing the increase in pay and benefits to workers at Starbucks.  So, just like corporate greed squeezing more out of less, Starbucks is likely doing the same and we are the sole driver of it.  I have never ordered something mobile and never will and that brings me to the next point.

    Social Interaction

    I like talking to people.  I also like ordering something from a human and being able to hold them accountable if and when they fu*k it up!  But just like remote work (which is a forthcoming topic on the aforementioned Rain on Your Parade podcast), I am a fan of person-to-person interaction.  For all the wonders that technology has given us, the idea that person-to-person interaction is unnecessary or weird or “ok boomer” is just not true. It is part of us as human beings.  People will simultaneously decry the uselessness of in person work or communication or interaction, while lamenting the depression and loneliness of large segments of the population and not see a connection.  From dating to work, the avoidance of in person interaction is detrimental to society and individuals.

    I quote this from Gary Gulman’s special The Great Depresh often, but he said that small, pleasant interactions boost serotonin. Yet we seem determined to avoid something that our bodies biologically tell us is good for us.

    But J-L, what if they suck and you don’t want to deal with shitty people???

    Oh STFU! As someone who often rubs people the wrong way, only assholes presume that their Starbucks interaction will suck.  Sure there are plenty of bad employees in lots of places, but Starbucks is closer to Chick Fil A than the DMV when it comes to solid interpersonal exchanges.  That is excuse making for the fact that society is in an interpersonal death spiral where the first wave were the socially awkward and emotionally crippled, but then the apps and “convenience” (the most harmful concept to our planet’s well-being) started to turn the normal into the dependent.  You can see this during a rain storm in Manhattan when people are not hailing a cab driving right by them because their app-brain tells them to wait 10 minutes for an Uber. Instead of the blind leading the blind, society is now the app-dependent leading the app-obsessed.  Of course dating is more difficult for people who find ordering a coffee with eye contact and voice as too personal.

    I’m sorry, but I am not used to having to speak to a human while at a coffee shop

    Hidden Costs of Convenience

    As alluded to before, like so many things in our society, Starbucks mobile ordering makes very immediate the idea that we don’t care how the beyond sausage egg sandwich gets made.  I walked into my Starbucks last week and saw 1 person on line and over 20 people waiting for the mobile orders.  And that one person was going to be last to be taken care of, despite having the (courage? if not now, we are a few years away from face to face communication being deemed brave by default) decency to order their beverage in real time and not in some digital fantasy where workers whose workload you do not know, and definitely do not care about, have to make complicated drinks (as I have said, if your coffee order has more than two instructions, you don’t like coffee, you like giving orders) at breakneck speed because they are no longer just handling orders, they are handling whims.  And that is what our society has become – a place of wish fulfillment on the backs of increasingly burdened service workers with absolutely no connection or interest in how the things get made by those requesting them.

    On my most recent visit to Starbucks, the place was about half full and only 2 people in line, and then in walked an entire high school girls’ team (couldn’t tell what sport because I only acknowledge Caitlin Clark and Simon Biles when it comes to women’s sports). Now I don’t mean to damage the feminist movement or Title IX, but I am guessing that post game on a Saturday afternoon in a ritzy NJ town (I cross town borders to go to my Starbucks, like Billy Joel wooing Christie Brinkley in the Uptown Girl video) the girls could have just come in and ordered their drinks. But instead, in a basic combination of all three of my complaints, they came in with 12 simultaneous orders.  As has happened to me, I can be the only person in line and still have to wait 10 minutes for a cookie because everyone else cannot wait.

    I would suggest charging extra for mobile orders, but that won’t work because it might cost Starbucks money if enough coffee warriors “boycotted” because they did not want to be charged for the extra workload they were creating. But even if it did get instituted, and it made extra money to be split between the store and the workers, it would still never happen because it would only improve the ordering experience for the most thoughtful and considerate customers – LIKE ME.

    Confusing Convenience with Goodness

    Like so many things I joke, speak and write about, I do not think this will get better and I don’t think it will stop. The things in our society seem designed to make us more awkward, less social, more consumerist and less connected. But the reason we let those things happen is because they all come with that magical word “convenient.”  We, as a society have confused convenience with goodness.  We have confused convenience with efficiency. And we have confused convenience with importance.  And as long as we keep doing that (and I don’t see how or why we won’t) we will all become either the overworked barista or the consumer who cannot make eye contact.

  • Road Comedy Recap: A Tale of Two St Pete’s February 13, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    This weekend I was on the road in St Pete’s Beach at the Sunshine Comedy Club. The gig involved two 25 hour train rides, a lot of walking and two shows that would both surprise me.  Let’s just get to it!

    The Ride Down

    I hopped on the SIlver Star (NY-Miami Amtrak) on Thursday at 11:30am. I was happy to see that I was in the newer of the two sleeper cars.  The east coast long distance trains often have one old sleeper car and one new sleeper car. What is the difference you ask?  The new sleeper cars slightly nicer rooms, mainly because each room is missing an individual toilet.  In the older car, each room has its own toilet, which is great if you don’t mind 14 separate rooms smelling like obese and/or elderly feces. No judgement, but I do mind that so I was happy to be in the newer car where the toilets all reside at the end of the car, and on the Silver Star, thankfully, that end was not my end.

    I spent my next day reading and watching shows on my tablet and after a night of not the worst sleep I arrived in Tampa, from where I took an Amtrak shuttle bus to St Petersburg, from where I then took a Lyft to arrive at the club.  Exhausted I checked in to the club’s air bnb and then went for a leisurely walk near the beach. I passed several people who said hello, which made me realize the blue state-red state tradeoff. Sure some of these people may love a racist dictator and want to control women’s bodies, but I got more hellos and eye contact from strangers in St Pete’s Beach in an hour than I have from my neighbors in New Jersey in 4 years.  Obviously I will still take my state where the majority does not support racist dictators, but the everyday feelings of courtesy and warm sunshine (in the Winter) makes it a closer race than it should be.

    Friday Show

    When I arrived to the club on Friday I caught up with the owner, Kenny, a successful comedian and all around solid guy. I noticed very quickly his term “good for you” is a nice way of saying “I think you have mental issues” because no one has ever said to me “good for you” after I just told them I spent 26 hours on a train to get to central Florida, besides Kenny.

    As I watched the crowd come in, it was a little bit of what I expected demographically (white, no young people), but it was not until close to showtime that I saw what I really wanted: a super jacked dude in a wife beater, who would independently be referred to by me and the feature act as “Goldberg” (the famed wrestler) and his girlfriend or wife who appeared to have, apparently keeping with the WWE branding, an HHH bra.  They had a decidedly Trump vibe (conservative bearing with hedonistic undertones), so I prepared myself for anything ranging from heckling to them treating me like the Capitol in a sequel to January 6th.

    And what happened?  A great show!  The emcee, Bart, turned out to be a longtime admirer of mine (pre-Trump stuff) because he discovered me as a fellow lawyer-comedian (the same way Greg Giraldo inspired me to hope for great things, I think I comforted Bart by showing him that one could be a lawyer, a good comedian and deeply unsuccessful and it was not the end of the world). The feature, Jay Legend (which really is tough to follow as merely J-L(sans egend), did great and then I had a blast.  I did not shy away from politics, but as I have learned through trial and error – when MAGA people feel they are in control of a room, they are happy with me as irreverent lib-cuck-beta-bitch court jester. However, in a divided crowd (I am talking to you 2023 Governors in Levittown) they get much more snowflakey about jokes concerning their golden idol.  The show was fun and I got a great, much needed night of sleep afterward.  Here is an extended clip from Friday’s show:


    On Saturday I woke up at 630am (rise n whine bro) and walked to the nearby Starbucks to read and write (I skipped arithmetic). I then went for a 3 mile walk on the beach and then went back to the Starbucks for a lunchtime Frappuccino.  I then went for a 1.5 mile walk (3 miles round trip) to St John’s Catholic Church for the 4pm vigil Mass.  I expected it to be Mary Magdalene Church – the patron saint of Only Fans, but perhaps that is only in Miami and Tampa.  I must confess that I often like going to places that I dislike politically.  I like people saying hello to neighbors and strangers and I like going into a Church that is full, even if I arrived beige and sweaty like either a giant Jesus or a giant terrorist. And one other thing – on my walk I saw a truck with a Co-exist bumper sticker, but all the letters comprised of different types of guns, instead of religious symbols. Now perhaps the truck owner is a gun owning psycho, but at the same time I thought it was absolutely hilarious.  But J-L, why didn’t you take a picture of it? Because I left my cell phone in the air bnb so I can be at one with nature and the women on the beach who have augmented nature. Namaste.

    Some people have fun in the sun… I have regret in the sunset

    After Mass I walked back to Chick Fil A for dinner (that’s double the power of the Lord before the show) and not to quote Christ on the Cross (not to be confused with Christopher Cross) but by the end of the Saturday show I was asking “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

    St John’s – the official Catholic Church of St Pete’s comedian visitors

    Saturday Shows Show

    When I got to the club Saturday I was told I had not sold enough tickets to justify a third show. I understood (no one is more familiar with my fans than me and it was really on brand on the way home from St Pete’s that one of these so-called fans told me on X/Twitter, “Oh I would have gone if I had known.”  If only there were 6 social media sites, my Twitter NAME which said “St Pete’s 2/9-2/10 for almost to months, or a monthly newsletter I put out that could better inform my fans…).

    When I saw the crowd I immediately thought looking at them, “Man if I won over that WWE porn parody and MAGA orgy crowd last night, these people will be eating out of my hand!”  This was the show where fans of mine (or more accurately, mostly fans of The Black Guy Who Tips Podcast and Stand Up With Pete Dominick who like me as a side character) came to the show, along with people who did not look like wrestlers and retired porn stars.  Well folks, I think you know where this is going, but this was a crowd that did a lot of smiling, several “huh?”s and only a decent amount of laughing.  Friday’s crowd was definitely better, which I informed the Saturday crowd of multiple times (to laughs, in case you think I was just blaming them without humor).  After the show people kept saying to me “why did you think it was bad?” and I realized it may have been one of those shows where the crowd did not meet my expectations, but most of them still enjoyed the show.  Maybe.

    After the show I had a very enlightening conversation with Kenny, during which he informed me (after hoping I would not take offense) that I am someone he uses as an example to comics of how hard the comedy business is.  I said I cannot take offense, when that is basically my mantra (hard work + talent + prolific production + good manners = miserable frustration). I then went to sleep.


    I woke up at 6am on Sunday and decided to go for a 3 mile walk (younger me would have gone for a run, but I am old me) and rewarded myself for my geriatric workout with 7am IHOP. Bart (the aforementioned emcee) picked me up and drove me to shopping mall where the bus would pick me up to take me to Orlando to catch the Silver Meteor (the Silver Star’s much more pessimistic cousin).  And to complete the pessimism, I was in the old sleeper car so all the rooms in my car had a toilet and only 45 minutes into the trip my neighbor wrecked shop (seriously, how do you leave your own toilet without shitting and then as soon as you are on an Amtrak, you feel relaxed enough to take an abusive dump – I left the car for the lounge for 2 hours because I felt like I was choking).  But J-L, do you ever go #2 on these long train rides you take?  No and to to quote DeNiro in Heat, “that’s the discipline.”

    In the old sleeper cars, your toilet and head are very close

    I then read, watched shows and read tweets about the Super Bowl before falling asleep. I woke up Monday morning in Washington DC and was home by 1130 am. Cookie greeted me in her usual whimpering, enthusiastic way, but I am starting to think she likes the smell of Amtrak funk almost as much as she likes me.

  • Road Comedy Recap: The King of Princeton February 5, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    This weekend I returned to Catch A Rising Star in Princeton, New Jersey for a pair of shows.  It has been far too long since I did a road recap blog, but there have been good reasons why I have not written a road recap blog in a while. The first is that I did not have as many gigs as I would like. The second is most of my fans seem to detest reading.  The third is I did not want to.  But other than those three small impediments, I was pumped to write! And now, with part of my New Year’s Resolutions was to resume blogging once a week, here we are!

    Friday was a surprise sell out (usually Saturdays sell out but Fridays can be a tough draw) and the crowd was superb (good laughers, hecklers that were brought to heel easily, and big merch purchasers).  After the show I rewarded myself with a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar and a smart water (better known as “the gentleman’s threesome”)  and fell asleep. Here’s a fun clip from the Friday show:

    I woke up Saturday with a full day ahead of me in Princeton, but I opted to catch up on a lot of writing that I needed to do (these brilliant, lightly-viewed sketches do not write themselves folks!).  So I was holed up in my room in the Hyatt and managed to write so much I had no time left for the gym (nothing like avoiding something to make me productive). I did make it out for a brief meal at PF Chang’s, where I received the most J-L on brand fortune cookie of all time:

    It’s good to know that my 20 years doing stand-up will pay off somewhere

    The show Saturday night was a sell out as well, but the crowd had a few more annoying people in it than Friday  And though they did not buy merch, several people expressed their disappointment that my merch cost $20 (one guy said “Hey I gotta be honest.” Really? I mean you can offer me your unsolicited opinion, but I don’t think you were subpoenaed. You always had the option of saying nothing. And with the prices of hats right now, I am not sure $20 is the sticker shock for the rest of the country (or the show 24 hours earlier) that it was for the trolls on Saturday.

    Despite having a hotel provided for another night I went to the Princeton NJ transit station to go home that night.  I  Shortly before midnight I was greeted by my dog Cookie with whimpers and spins because my 30 hour absence felt like a month to her.

    Tell your friends in the Tampa, FL area that I am headed their way! Because what comedy fan wouldn’t want to be part of comedy blog history?


  • Why Is The National Anthem Still Played at Games? February 3, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    Last week I attended the Knicks-Jazz game at Madison Square Garden.  I have been to three events there recently,  a Rangers game and a Madonna concert being the other two. If you are not new to American pop culture than you know that the only event of the three that did not begin with the Star Spangled Banner was the Madonna concert, unless you count Bob The Drag Queen calling a sold out crowd “bitches” to be a national anthem.  Of course if the Madonna concert had begun with the SSB it would be assumed that it was some subversive attempt by Madonna to “go woke” or “tarnish our nation,” because coupled with the faux outrage by Fox News would also be a fairly obvious truth: it is absurd to begin events like this with the National Anthem. This is not about racism arguments about the anthem itself, or the military funding to have it played, or any other issue beyond the fact that it is a total farce.

    Several years ago (2017 or 2018 perhaps –  I cannot quite remember) I began a headlining set by getting on stage to a Kanye West song and decided to stand with my hand over my heart for an extended period of time (whenever it was, it was before Kanye’s extended fling with Anti-Semitism). The idea was born during a conversation I had had on my podcast to show the absurdity of beginning a pop culture event with any kind of salute to a song.  Of course in reality the bit was 1) not as funny as I thought it was, 2) missed by many in the crowd and 3) not looked upon kindly by some in the crowd who believe that mocking the sanctity of saluting the flag before a baseball game is blasphemous.

    But, despite half the country having racist seizures due to Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the anthem to protest police brutality against Black people, it seems to me that saluting the flag at sporting events is actually, based on observing the attendees, not that important.

    During the Knicks game various men shouted out during the anthem.  It seems there are always a dozen or so (white) men at sporting events who use silent moments to scream support for the team, presumably to maximize their moment for either ego or humor.  It is the sort of disrespect and hypocrisy during the presumed moment of secular reverence that I would analogize to partisan political speeches given by pastors in houses of worship. And a majority of every sports arena cheer and clap before the song is over.  Yet none of the above mentioned men (or women) are scolded, shunned, escorted out of the arena or fired by their bosses.

    But basketball is a “woke” sport (translation: full of Black people who occasionally speak their minds for social justice).  A better example is the hockey games I have attended.  NY Ranger games are diverse when compared to Sebastian Maniscalco crowds, but not much else (I am a fan of Maniscalco, but when I attended his MSG show in 2019 I thought I was at a “Don’t Cancel Columbus Day” rally).  And boy do those January 6th alternates in attendance of Ranger games LOVE to scream and shout during the anthem.  Where is this respect for anthem?  I understand that they are being joyful for their team, but what does that have to do with respecting the troops, or whatever the reason given for the flag salute and Kaepernick’s banishment?  Kaepernick was being silent and reflective, but that is more disrespectful than shouting “Let’s fu*king go Rangers!”?

    My simple point (which I cannot be the first to make, but I promised the fans a blog every week this year – PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT!) is what the hell is the anthem still doing being played during games?  This forced patriotism (where aggressive, rude white guys are presumed to be in the right spirit, no matter how uncouth their behavior and vocals during the anthem) would seem dumb before a concert (and was, in fact, dumb before a comedy show) but simply because of tradition (and an undoubtedly apocalyptic reaction from right wing media if it was ever stopped) we are held hostage by it before every sporting event. It should stop.

  • Madonna Got Me to Come Out as a Madonna Fan January 25, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    In February 2023 I bought tickets to see Madonna.  I did so for two reasons. Reasons I kept having to provide to people for some reason. The first was because she is a living legend and the second was I need a Valentine’s Day gift for my girlfriend, who was just wrapping up a grueling, two month shift as my nurse as I recovered from two shoulder surgeries.  I wanted to get floor seats and then I saw the prices and was like, “the upper deck has floors as well!”  But my girlfriend, a usually fiscally prudent woman with her money and with mine who would normally say “oh the floor is too expense” pointed me to a site where there might still be some left, indicating that she really wanted to get good seats if it was at all possible.  And I found “reasonably” priced floor seats and waited for August (which is also her birthday month, which is clutch – get the tickets for Valentine’s Day and the double up the gift power of the tickets by actually using them near her birthday). But when I bought them I posted on social media something to the effect of, “Well concert is in 8 months, so I guess the J-L Jinx has 8 months to kill Madonna.” And apparently it almost did…

    (Disclosure – a longer discussion of the Madonna concert will be the subject of next week’s Rain on Your Parade podcast)

    The Delay

    This past Summer, Madonna had to postpone some of her dates because of a life-threatening health issue.  Needless to say, I felt less angry about my special taking over 2 years to come out when I realized that my ability to jinx had nearly extended to Madonna’s life.  But the concert was rescheduled for January 2024 (which the girlfriend gift-giving committee said was no longer acceptable as a double gift for this year’s Valentine’s Day).

    As the concert approached I felt many people I know wondering why I was going to Madonna.  I mean it is not a men’s locker room at an Equinox gym, right? So why can’t a heterosexual man, raised in the 1980s go to see Madonna in concert?  I did not need to use my girlfriend as a concert beard!  Madonna is a music legend, a cultural icon and a lover of beige men – why wouldn’t I go?!

    The Arrival

    When we got to Madison Square Garden at 830 (the show was slated for 8:30, but thanks to a pathetic lawsuit we were aware that Madonna was not starting on time – but most main acts do not come out right at the start time so no big deal to us) and entered the Delta Lounge.  I would not be the only comedian in attendance as I observed Big Jay Oakerson (I know who he is, but he has no idea who I am), and Sarah Cooper (the 2020 Earth to my 2020 Moon), among the luminaries in the floor lounge area.  Later in the show I also would be fairly close to Amy Schumer, a comedian who has had a different trajectory than me since our days of sharing the bill on open mics and bringer shows.  But the 300 feet between us involved a lot of security and sharing the stage with Madonna.  So close, yet so far.  There was a distinctive air of “look at me” douchebaggery in the Delta Lounge that I was unaccustomed to. For example look at this mash up of Bruno and Marilyn Manson:

    We knew the show was beginning when Bob The Drag Queen (someone my girlfriend was familiar with, as a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race) walked right by us dressed as Marie Antoinette. We followed Bob’s cell phone holding entourage and “took” our seats (girlfriend never sat, I sat only for knee breaks).

    What followed was one of the greatest concerts, if not the greatest concert I have ever been too.  Based on actuarial charts I may not even live to 65, but what Madonna can do at 65 is nothing short of amazing.  Her vocals were good, her fitness is great, she looks great and the show was tremendous.  Bob The Drag Queen was an incredible emcee, the set pieces, the choreography, the flow of the show, everything was great.  There was a hiccup, however.


    About 4 songs in, the security guard came up to me and before I could say, “yes I am G list comedian J-L Cauvin and yes we can take a selfie,” he informed me that many audience members behind me were asking if I could switch seats with someone on the end of my row so they could see Madonna.  Now I had paid for these front row seats and if they wanted a better view they should have been less poor!  But I promptly moved and received praise and thanks from the Gay men and their female companions/accessories for my kindness. My view was not much different, but I was now seen as an ally (hero is probably too strong) to the LGBTQIA+ community.

    The Highlights (beyond the whole show)

    Hung Up. La Isla Bonita. – Two of my 5 favorite Madonna songs.

    Vogue.  The ballroom set up of Vogue, the performance, the dancing from Madonna’s young daughter, the emcee work of Bob – all A+. Now my girlfriend would have probably definitely enjoyed the show more with one of her gay friends.  Me smiling in appreciation and tapping my feet for most of the show would likely not compare to the gay exuberance that I would imagine some of her friends would exhibit. But she looked at me during Vogue and said afterword she was surprised that I liked it so much. As I said then and said on the forthcoming podcast episode, I was witnessing greatness – even when something is “not your thing” when you see something great, only an insecure person or worse would fight that recognition. And it was also funny that a woman I did open mics with was judging with Madonna on stage. But it was fu*king incredible. This was actually me on NJ transit going home after the show:


    And a side note – when Madonna started touring, people on Twitter were trolling her for using a grab bar with a lot of people offering “time to hang it up granny” type comments.  What the video and photos did not show was THAT SHE WAS LIKE 30 FEET IN THE AIR WHILE PERFORMING THAT PART OF THE SET!

    A Sequel?

    The only thing that ruined the night was (of course) comedy. I was checking my mentions after the show and saw someone make a comparison that they believed was flattering and that I promptly blocked them for (as bad as that sounds, it actually represent growth from the incensed artist-scorched earth response i wanted to deliver).  But as has happened after some great concerts in my life, a sort of malaise set in.  I felt like I had just witnessed something truly amazing and I felt my own emotions sort of crashing (after I first saw U2 in concert that is how I felt). It is a weird feeling, but a testament to what Madonna is still capable of at 65.  Now I am contemplating getting tickets to see the show again on Monday.  I probably won’t but if I do it is not for my girlfriend. It is for me. I am a Madonna fan. That is my truth. And forgive me if while at the Utah Jazz-NY Knicks game on Tuesday I spontaneously yell “Lauri Markkanen is serving cu*t tonight!”  That’s just the power of a Madonna concert.

  • Man vs Manners January 19, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    Manners maketh man, the old proverb goes (it predates the 2014 film Kinsgmen, apparently).  If that is the case, then I would like to introduce my own observation on current society: lack of manners maketh shit.  Many people have scapegoated the pandemic as this all inclusive excuse for people becoming increasingly incapable of common courtesy or behaving in public, but I think we have been heading this way for a lot longer (I believe the cell phone and Donald Trump were like steroids for indulging or permitting our worst instincts, and dulling our collective consciousness. The pandemic was more like the oven that allowed those awful ingredients to bake).  Because of my resolution to resume writing my blog at least once a week and, more importantly, because the topic this week feels like it is taking years off of my life, I decided to write on our epidemic of diminishing courtesy.  And yes, seeing a man in a sleeveless t-shirt at a Broadway show was probably my last straw.

    My older nephew is autistic and since being accepted into a special boarding school I have seen an improvement in his communication, his eye contact and his behavior in the relatively limited time I see him.  And as an uncle I am happy for my nephew and the rest of my brother’s family that their difficult, but necessary decision to send him away appears to be bearing fruit. But the comedian in me had to ask, “what world are the preparing him for?”  Eye contact?  Asking people about their day? Behaving well in public?  Sorry, is my nephew preparing to time travel back to 1958 (hopefully a progressive woke part of the country as he is Black)?  Staring at a screen and mediocre interpersonal skills are the norm today. Eye contact will only make him stand out as odd!”

    Because this is a topic I could probably write and Encyclopedia Britannica on, I will focus on just a few areas that I think embody how and why we are losing our courtesy.


    I am both unfashionable and do not care about fashion.  I have found in my life, that when I am fit, a t shirt and jeans look good and a suit looks better.  But I believe flip flops are for the beach, tank tops are for the gym and crocs are for the fiery depths of hell.  When I see a man in a sleeveless t-shirt at a Broadway show, it cannot be surprising that the interrupting ring of a cell phone will follow (not necessarily from the shirtless, but from the generally permissive space that the theater has become).  I have a friend who works at the Comedy Magic Castle in LA, a swanky, members only, jacket and tie establishment. It is sort of a Heaven on Earth in that, everyone has to dress nicely, the food, drinks and entertainment are good and there are no cell phone pics or videos permitted.  But he has told me stories of men coming in sweatpants or expensive jeans or shirts and explaining that the cost of their clothes should make up for the lack of compliance with the wardrobe.  As Countess Luann said in her infamous song, which I had the pleasure of hearing in one of the only Real Housewives of New York episodes I have seen, money can’t buy you class.  Perhaps a Real Housewife is not the ideal messenger, but the message is valid nonetheless.

    Venue and occasion-appropriate clothes convey a level of respect, not just for yourself, but for your surroundings.  I’ll admit I think this has been the area that I will complain about most directly attributable to the pandemic-work-from-home culture shift.  But it feels as though in the age of sweatpants to the restaurant-bathrobe to zoom work-suit to make Tik Tok dance videos, we have lost where to prioritize dignified dress.  And to be clear, this is not a classist argument. I am not asking that the impoverished man or woman dress above their means. But when you show up to a $200 play with $60 crocs, I am judging.  Because, while in and of itself, it is “harmless,” the tone it perpetuates concludes with show-interrupting cell phones.


    Speaking of “harmless,” there is no phrase that I think has done more harm to day-to-day courtesy than “what’s the big deal if I’m not hurting anyone?”  Pain, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  On public transit, it increasingly appears that instead of “the world is my oyster,” the phrase now should be “the world is my footrest.”  Look on a Metro North train in the winter – salt and snow on feet is clearly not an inhibitor of using another seat as a footrest.  And when did the phrase “excuse me” become extinct.  The amount of times I have seen and experienced someone exasperated with the slow pace of someone unknowingly blocking their path and rather than say “excuse me” they will huff, puff or in the case of weirdos, slither past the person like they are passing tripwire lasers in a re-enactment of Entrapment.  Obviously I would love to link this to one of my pet peeves, parents of newer generations letting their children call adults by their first names, but I have no data, other than my disgust at it.  “You’re welcome” has been replaced by “no problem,” which Brendan Gleeson dispatches with brilliantly in the first season of the great Peacock (formerly Direct TV) series Mr. Mercedes (one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations of all time). Unlike my uncle and mom, I don’t really have a problem with “no problem,” but it seems to speak to younger people’s seeming discomfort with anything formal.

    And then there is the loss of even common pleasantries.  The other day I was in the supermarket and I am always one for idle chit chat, but I can also read a room.  I can have a long conversation with the woman who once colorfully asked me about my pasture-raised, organic eggs, “why the fu*k ate these so expensive – ooops sorry for that.” I also know when a mere hello or hi as a *gulp* courtesy will be all that is welcome. On the day I am referencing, I began to put my dozen items on the conveyer belt and said, “hello.”  No response. Employee looked up from their phone, began scanning the items and then handed me a receipt.  It is when it feels like it takes more energy not to say hello back that I wonder, “WTF?”

    And I do believe there is a generational divide when it comes to common courtesy.  When I lived in NYC, I said hello to all my neighbors and 96% of them said it back!  As comedian Gary Gulman spoke of during his special The Great Depresh, nice little interactions with people release serotonin, a hormone that can decrease depression. One time, having lunch with Gulman, I mused, “but when I have all these rude interactions they must have the opposite effect.”  I see a direct proportion to people’s comfort with everyday interactions and their common courtesy to their age. Of course this is neither scientific, nor is it 100 percent correlated, but I have too much anecdotal experience to ignore what I have experienced.

    I used to complain about people not saying thank you when you held the door for them, but now I am lucky to get eye contact from a neighbor walking down the hall.  Perhaps this is the perfect storm of cool parents, I’m not hurting anyone laissez-faire values and a resentment of formality and perhaps the inadvertent intimacy thanking someone genuinely or accepting that thanks genuinely, but I think one thing above all has hastened our demise into a courtesy free society.


    When I say devices, I am really only referencing the “smart” phone, though i did see a man looking at his iPad during a movie yesterday, so we may have someone pushing the boundaries of rudeness to the next frontier. Stay tuned!  If the Bible were written for the first time today, the serpent wouldn’t tempt Eve with an apple. He would present her with an iPhone. The smart phone has, through a combination of corporate and psychological intentionality, unleashed the absolute worst impulses in humanity. It literally creates a society of naval gazing.  I believe most problems involving lack of manners and courtesy have been uncovered, augmented or created by the smart phone.  Walking while texting, driving while texting, forcing the world to be part of your amateur films and the abandonment of headphones while listening to music are all bad developments for society and the last gasps of manners.  Earphones and ear buds are readily available. But the culture around the cell phone of navel gazing, self-importance and disproportionate access and power from a device in your hands made listening to shows and music and forcing them on others almost an inevitability.  When no amount of announcements and signs can lead to a cell hone free Broadway show it is clear we are no longer collectively in control of our phones.

    A brief message of hope – I will give this to the animals that inhabit Phish shows (I kid my Phish show brethren rom my 2 shows I have attended): I have not seen that small a number of smart phones out at a concert since before there were smart phones. In all their dirty glee, the Phish Phans were still able to prioritize being in the moment and enjoying the show, rather than trying to memorialize it like a well-trained cell phone slave.  Much like Rhianna, I found love in a hopeless place when I saw hope for society at a Phish show.  But then you merely have to walk into a cafe, a store or anywhere and see that parents are allowing tablets and phones to be adjunct babysitters. If we, who at least were able to form ourselves without cell phones, have become pathetic tools, how can a generation raised on them not come out worse?

    In the aforementioned supermarket I have seen a manager informing cashiers not to have their cell phones out while actively working. The tech marvel of cell phones has empowered bad instincts and created bad impulses as our society furthers the message that in person social interaction is unnecessary and courtesy completely irrelevant. And then we wonder why depression is up – perhaps because the thing we use so much is destroying some of the things that have made generations and generations of humans feel good.  Small talk, eye contact, flirting, pleasantries, courtesy, awareness of others, sympathy, empathy, interaction – I think the cell phone has not lessened our need for these things. It has simply made us worse at them while, in a self-serving manner, convincing us we don’t need those things anymore.  Though not cell phone related, I think my former co-worker who was frequently pissed off that our job required in person work after the pandemic, demonstrated the catch-22 of all of this perfectly when he recently lamented to me that his new fully-remote job would “have him all alone.”  Technological convenience blinds us to the harm until we are already harmed.  And all I am asking is that we remember to say please and thank you and to look where we are walking!


    I had to include him because he has set a tone that has clearly influenced large swaths of the population. He cleverly (or more likely instinctively because he is more animal than man) cultivated a norm where being offended by something was “woke” and “politically correct,” even when the thing is actually deeply offensive.  Morgan Wallen gets caught Hard R-ing the N word?  Well, that’s just wokeness – let’s push his album to #1.  Being decent is actually being a pussy. Not wanting to offend people is never the right answer, so we begin seeing comedy that is more focused on triggering emotions than triggering laughs.  And the racism?  I can just say that since 2015, members of my family have experienced direct racism more than I recall hearing the previous 36 years of my life.  He has emboldened the worst in a lot of people and has created a culture where not giving in to your cruelties and your base instincts is somehow weak or *GASP* “liberal.”

    Whether an erosion of courtesy came first or resulted from many of the things above, it is irrelevant now because these things are happening and I see no reason to be optimistic of us improving.  I am sometimes dismayed when I see how much time my nephew spends on his phone, not because I would have been better than him if I had a cell phone in my teenage years, but because of the stories, experiences and memories I have from not being buried in a phone in my formative years.  There are so many ways to scold what we have become (you just read it) because of diminishing manners, more controlling technology and horrible leadership examples. But perhaps the best way forward is for the people who know a life before all of this to share why courtesy and all its accompanying behaviors were and are good. Because the truth is, in 30 years I would hate for my nephew to be writing something about “how much better society was when all we did was stare at screens and said ‘no problem’ when someone gave you something.” Because that might mean his and our future became a Hell not even fit for Crocs.

  • The Conservative Comedy Cheat Code January 9, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    This past weekend, during an exhausting journey to get to Philadelphia to watch my Utah Jazz defeat the Philadelphia 76ers (join my Patreon to hear the saga in a bonus podcast episode) I saw several billboards and ads for comedians coming to the Wells Fargo Arena, where the 76ers play.  One stuck out to me and that was the ad for Jeff Dunham’s show.  Obviously, it first offends me that a ventriloquist can headline an arena, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is from 1000 feet away does it even matter if he’s moving his lips or not?  But Dunham’s comedy is really elite hackery. Obviously plenty of people like it because there are lots of simpletons in our country.  But there has always been a strain to his humor that felt like a wink and a nod to the “conservative” (I put it in quotes because what we really mean by “conservative” now is religious hypocrites, racists and greedy, myopic assholes) crowd. It was simple and harmless, but had just enough bland bigotry in some of the characters to appeal to their soon-to-be-MAGA hearts.  But with Dunham’s new show, he has given away the game.

    Jeff Dunham’s new show is called “Still Not Canceled” because PG rated ventriloquists are on the front lines of speech and comedy, right?  The only thing that could and should cancel Jeff Dunham Puppetry of the Peanut is good taste.  But that is not what he is suggesting or better yet, what he is lack-of-virtue signaling.  He is sending a thinly veiled message to his fans and their ilk that his comedy is an enemy of the dreaded “woke mob.”  And that is the new algorithm cheat code for right wing comedians (and ventriloquists) and grifters.

    When they came for Jeff Dunham I said nothing, because I hate his act and no one actually came to cancel him

    Similar to Bill Maher and Ricky Gervais, the conservative comedy crowd (of which there are funny people – I am not going to take the low hanging , and incorrect fruit of some of my left leaning fans who will reflexively say “conservatives aren’t funny” when my personal experience is a lot more pushback from liberals whenever my jokes touch on anything deemed sacred to them (e.g. a tweet making fun of Hunter Biden for being loved less than Beau Biden earned quick condemnation from my “fans” while there was no end to the joy my Jeff Epstein and Donald Trump having sex with underage girl references)) never seems to get bored of hearing the same attacks on “wokeism” or “cancel culture.”  It’s like every topic can be hack or overdone to them, but as long as you complain about wokeness, or deride a liberal talking point with a stereotypical gay accent, it is a never ending stream of originality and humor.  Just like the Left has proven themselves humorless sometimes when a topic is not to their liking, the Right seems to ignore the staleness of the bitching and moaning because it validates their beliefs.  But it is bad comedy.

    And now, to use one of the few Latin phrases I remember and like from law school, we have reached the reductio ad absurdum point of the “cancel culture” warrior phase of comedy. Jeff Dunham, promoting an entire tour as “I have not been canceled yet.”  Perhaps his poster should be the famous photo of Malcolm X holding an assault rifle looking out of his window, but with one of his puppets’ heads superimposed on Malcolm’s.  The chances of Jeff Dunham being canceled are about as high as my new special going platinum (Half-Blackface totally should, but should and will are a universe apart).  But this is the point now – Dunham is sending the very clear message that funny is less important that culture war signaling.  Even if that is completely absurd. Only complete idiots would be motivated to see a ventriloquist with 1980s stereotypical puppets simply because he had made the ridiculous claim that he had evaded cancellation… so far!  But apparently, judging by the size of the Wells Fargo arena, Jeff Dunham’s dummies will have a lot of company this week.

  • Comedy Mortality January 6, 2024 by J-L Cauvin

    One of the resolutions I made on Twitter/X (so it is legally binding) on the eve of 2024 was to get back to blogging once a week.  Though Saturday is not a business day (“every day is a business day” said the random bro influencer on Tik Tok with a million followers and an equally large number of aggressive, unverifiable platitudes), it is the last day of week 1 of 2024 so here I am maintaining one of my resolutions for at least a week.  I think the reason I singled out my blog, amidst all of the things I do (or try to do) in comedy was because in a time when I was truly a nothing in comedy (versus a significant has been currently) was that the blog had a bigger reach than I did.  Because I wrote honestly, and fairly well about many things, but most significantly, the struggles, hypocrisies, idiosyncrasies and (occasional) joys of stand-up comedy, the blog would sometimes generate broader mention than my early stand-up work.  So after a nearly 4 year period that saw my comedy career resurrected like Lazarus and euthanized like Old Yeller (early in my unexpected rise in 2020 I presciently suggested that my comedy career might have a similar arc as the patients in the film Awakenings), I thought, why not get back to my basics, if  only for comedic self-care.  Or at this point, it might just be comedic palliative care.

    This week, after a 26 month ordeal that has been the worst experience of my 20 years doing stand-up comedy, my special Half-Blackface, was released.  I think, along with the companion album, which was released in August and differs in material by about 25 minutes, it is my finest work.  After the stresses of 2020, as related to my comedy career (inability to get a manager or agent to even call me back or set up a meeting, seeing a brief resurgent respect for lip sync as an art form, fearing the loss of my day job as I tried to pull 15 hour days in my apartment balancing a law firm workload and the unexpected need to produce comedy work for a career that had seemed comatose at best), I wanted to expose all the people who had become fans of mine from my impressions to my voluminous stand up work and sketch video library. With SNL not calling, I believed that stand up comedy was still my future and with approximately 200,000 new fans across social media, I wanted to convert those people into fans of my stand up. After all, if stand up clubs have been the all purpose venue spaces that managers and agents dump their “influencers” on to get a paycheck, then certainly a viral social media entertainer with 20 years of actual stand up experience should be a cake walk, right?

    It turned out that none of the daydreams I had, logical though they may have been, came to pass. In fact, the biggest break I received post 2020 had nothing to do with the stand up world or anything I was expecting. I was asked to audition for a role on Billions in 2021, got the part and had a nice guest role in an episode of season 6.  It turned out that even without an agent, my social media reach was enough to create opportunities on its own.

    But 2021 turned out to be the end of the ride up. After Donald Trump was kicked off of Twitter, my growth went from 10,000 followers a month for 7 straight months to zero. Not a few hundred a month. Zero.  Mind you, this was 2 years before Elon Musk took over.  And not only that, but engagement with the followers I had plummeted. I still get messages from followers telling me “I haven’t seen your stuff in months/years” (we will return to this point later).

    But having learned hard lessons from a career of isolated successes that never snowballed into anything, I decided mid 2021, with Billions on the horizon and a great new hour of stand up that I had put together that perhaps, I could create one last gasp of social media buzz to turn my career from “what happened to that Trump guy?” to “Wow this guy was on Billions and has a killer new hour!”  I will not bore you with the details, but when a special takes two tapings and over two years to come out, things have not gone well.  In fact, the process was so long, that I wrote, filmed and (SELF-)produced a new album/special in the interim (Tall Boy on my YouTube channel and music streaming services).

    But as I sit here typing today, in early 2024, I need to confront a sad truth.  Barring a miracle, my comedy career has likely peaked.  Every career has a peak. But you don’t know what your peak is until you start to fall from it and cannot regain it. I recently had to ask 3 MAJOR national headliners to write me recommendation letters to a booker. They all kindly did and it was a rare moment of feeling respected, or at least being treated kindly, in this business.  But even with my credits, skills and those recommendations, I am still not as hopeful for bookings as many might assume I should be.  At 44 I am not yet old enough to compete for the Lewis Black curmudgeon bookings, but I am certainly well outside the desired age range for Tik Tok Crowd Work Influencer-do you actually have any material? slots.  Is this how actresses used to feel when they turned 30, before porn made it OK to be hot and in your 30s?

    Then there is the hopelessness of my social media platforms, especially Twitter/X.  Before 2020, when I had 4000 followers I would have one or two tweets a year that would explode and garner me some new followers.  I now have 125K followers, but have not had one tweet in 3 years reach the level of explosion.  In 2020, almost all my tweets and videos reached hundreds of thousands of people. But for the last 3 years, when trying to sell tickets, promote specials and other things of major significance to both a comedian, and presumable, a comedian’s fans, they get under 10% of that engagement, almost without exception.  Several people will probably respond to this by doing the progressive, reflexive response of “Elon ruined it!” but the truth is, in an effort to purge right wing misinformation (or right wing view points), my account was destroyed.

    So if you are still reading this, you might be wondering, what is your point J-L?  My point, is that, even with all these things working against me, I still have a combined 90 thousand subscribers on YouTube and 125 thousand followers on X. These are people who chose to follow me based off of my comedic output.  So even if social media is not showing them my stuff, certainly they will search me out for shows and new content, right?  Wrong.

    The harshest lesson from my rise in 2020 to where I am now (with a great new special that no one is seeing and a still prolific YouTube channel that has not lost subscribers, but has seen a 90% drop in views) is that the vast majority of people just want to be distracted.  Mediocre crowd work clips do the job just as well as brilliantly crafted material.  Most people, even self-proclaimed “fans” are willing to trust that the social media algorithms will show them what they want to see to an alarming degree (I had a fan tell me last year that “I haven’t seen your stuff in so long, I just assumed you quit” – which raises the concern that if having 6 social media accounts and a website are not convenient enough for a fan to look up if they don’t see your stuff, what the hell would be?).  Clearly most comedy fans have put on mental autopilot and assume social media will curate what they have asked for and will just assume the comedian is retired or dead before going to their page to see.

    I also observed that many friends, co-workers, comedy colleagues etc. expressed unending amazement and support once 2020 hit and in my exuberance I was too clouded with a feeling of “Finally!” to realize that so many acquaintances from various times and places in my life were simply excited about proximity to someone with some heat, and nothing more.   Needless to say the only thing that has dropped off worse than my social media engagement is the emails and texts of impressed recognition.  I was funny and talented before March 2020, but good experiences feel better when shared, so my normal cynicism was in snooze mode. A career in comedy has limited my social circles (I joke that if I get married my wedding party will be my brother, my best friend and three podcasts) so sometimes Johnny Come Lately still feels like good company when you want any company to celebrate with you.

    When I first recorded Half-Blackface I said two things to my girlfriend, who has had to endure almost 4 years of mood swings as my comedy has put me through the ringer. I said to her, my worst nightmare, related to comedy, is that I will make something truly great and it will never be heard or seen.  I also told her that if I could combine my best work (Half-Blackface) with my best entertainment opportunity (Billions) into one publicity chance then I could see if my career could continue.  Because if my best did not do anything, then it was no longer worth enduring if it would make me miserable to the people who actually care about me.  Ineptitude made the latter a moot point.  Social media algorithms and indifference seem to have made the former a reality.

    The last time I felt close to this in comedy was 2013. I quit a stand up troupe I was part of and really did not think there was much hope for my comedy career. I then made a video called Louis CK Tells The Classics, which went viral and recorded my best stand up album (until the aforementioned Half-Blackface).    Both had more success than anything I have put out in the last 2 years, despite having a fan base 95% smaller.  As down as I was at the time about my career, there was still a glimmer of hope. Even if small, I did not feel barred from the game. Social media still could blow up (which it did for me with that video) and the industry did not feel shut off from me (I had meetings with 2 reputable managers in 2013, zero in 2020-21). But now, based on being shut off from my fans and their collective indifference (I am surely not unique in this respect – it is simply how we are now conditioned), I think there is little hope for a breakout moment again. Without representation and without a way to correct or appeal social media throttling my accounts, all I can do is make good stuff for the few that see it.  I promise that the blogs this year won’t be this morbid, but I have gone through the other 4 stages of grief (anger, denial bargaining, depression), so this is my attempt at acceptance.

  • My Phirst Phish Concert July 31, 2023 by J-L Cauvin

    I do not know when I decided I did not like Phish. I think it started in high school, but phor approximately 25 years I have decided I did not like the band. It was not the same as my disdain phor a band like Dave Matthews Band, whose combination of Jar Jar Binks vocals, cacophony of too many instruments, awkward dancing and phans that simply referred to them as “Dave,” could quantifiably explain my hostility (though I do like the song Two Step).  The vibe I got around Phish, whose music I had never heard until last night was more like the instinctively repulsion I pheel toward people who walk around barephoot in public places.  I was content to remain an ignorant hater (I am a proud American), but late last year an opportunity presented itself.

    My phriend Ross, who generally enjoys my curmudgeon-style comedy, decided it was time to invite me to a Phish show (perhaps even he has his limits phor my hating when it comes to his beloved Phish). He comes to NYC, what seems annually, for some of Phish’s end of year Madison Square Garden residency and he asked me if I wanted to go last year. I said I would. Now at the time I was high on opioids dealing with the phirst of a soon-to-be unexpected two shoulder surgeries, but I had been told by my surgeon that I should be good to go to a concert.  I was not and had to postpone my phirst Phish experience.  But hope and Phish tickets spring eternal and Ross was back in town this weekend for 2 Phish shows.  I had two shows this weekend as well (my phirst show in Princeton Friday was one of the 20 greatest shows of my life and the show Saturday was one of the 2 best shows I had that weekend…) so my only option was to join him phor the Sunday show.  I thought this might have been a problem when I phirst accepted because I had a day job and did not want to be up late on a Sunday night, but the gods of jam band cured that issue with a June layoff (please join my patreon or buy my albums) so I was ready to go to Phish!

    I arrived at MSG at 6:30 for the doors to open so I could absorb the “Phull Phish experience.”  I will say this – Phish concerts are a very diverse group of white people.  You have your dirty hippies, some gym bros, one or two weed smokers, some corporate boat shoe bros, biker looking dudes, etc.  The lack of racial diversity was somewhat alarming to observe, but not unexpected, but unlike the Sebastian Maniscalco concert I saw in 2019 at MSG, this collection of white people seemed to be, phor obvious reasons, MAGA free, even if some pholks might have looked MAGA at phirst blush.

    We had nice, comfortable seats in the Chase Bridge area (my stage name when I become a country singer), an area high up but with an oddly VIP vibe and a lot of space phor a tall and increasingly large man (DAMN YOU LEFT SHOULDER!).  The show began 35 minutes late (or right on time to Ross and his buddy Jason).  Now right before the show Ross confessed to me that he has seen Phish over 70 times.  It phelt like that moment in a movie where our hero volunteers for a paratrooper mission and as the plane door closes with an intimidating phinality, the guy in charge says, “And we are doing it without parachutes” and only the hero was uninformed of this beforehand.

    I stood 2 steps below to create a semblance of equality at the Phish show

    One of the distinct things about a Phish concert is the dancing.  As I looked to the men standing in front of me or the teeming masses in the phloor area of the arena, I could not pick out one individual with something I would call rhythm. It more resembled an Elaine from Seinfeld dance contest phor (mostly) men.  But together they all phormed an undulating collective – like one of those portraits made of different photos or the zombie mass in World War Z.  And perhaps if there is an overarching beauty to the experience it is that it is a collective and positive experience where every phan is enriched by being part of a like-minded collective. Like a bizarro MAGA rally – all white, all loving the person/people on stage, but instead of wishing death on people who read books, the Phish people writhe like joyful seizure victims.

    Now of course I am making jokes, but many of you are wondering, “but J-L… did you ENJOY the show???”  And the answer overall is… yes?

    This portion of the Phish show was sponsored by Planet Phitness

    The songs are absurdly long, but I actually enjoyed 3 or 4 of them (I think they only played 2 songs in the 3 hours, but what do I know).  The lights are actually an impressive and not irrelevant component of the show. The guitar playing was strong and everyone seemed pleasant. Even concession workers seemed to be in a better mood than normal, most likely thinking “these dirty white people are actually much better than the diverse coalition of aggressive assholes who show up to Knick games and the MAGA whites who yell at us during Ranger games!”  Sweetening the experience was the phact that I did not pay for my ticket (thanks again Ross!) and I got to have an extended hang with a phriend and his buddy.  Did I like it when the Phish songs veered from more rock sound to a phunky style, the way the entire crowd seemed to?  Absolutely not!  I hated the phunky songs.  But, according to my Phish Phact checker Ross, the set list was more rock than normal, so thank you Phish for phinding it your heart to appeal to a Phish Phirst timer.

    I had to leave after the phinale (which was one of the ones I liked) to catch a train so I missed the encore, which I can assume and imagine every Phish phan is going “OH MY GOD YOU TOTALLY MISSED THEIR KILLER 9 HOUR ENCORE SET!” but I think with Phish, it was good when I left.  I may not have been left wanting more, but the victory here for Phish is I did not leave wanting less either.