Road Comedy Recap: New England, Old Problems
This past weekend I made my way to New England for shows in Boston, MA and Fairfield, CT. The gigs featured trademarks of J-L Cauvin comedy shows: A+ material, small crowds, meager profits and travel discomfort. I cannot think of any other witty things to put in this intro so let’s just get into it!
I made my way to Boston on the Acela, the northeast Amtrak line that gets you to Boston 20 minutes faster for only $8000 more. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, the seats on the Acela were uncomfortable for me due to my never-ending recovery from shoulder surgeries. The only comfort I had for most of the trip was the knowledge that I was not traveling with the poors. But then I noticed the man sitting adjacent from me was watching season six of Billions. As you should know, if you are reading my blog, which you are if you are reading this, I was in episode 5 of season 6 of Billions and I realized that this man was on episode 3 of the season. With 3 hours until Boston I realized he would get into my episode if he continued watching. Well, after taking a break in the snack car, I returned to my seat to see him in episode 5. I got out my phone (what is a better photo than taking a picture of someone watching your show while you sit behind them?) and was prepared to tap him on the shoulder when I appeared on screen and say, “THAT’S ME!” in the worst Make-A-Wish ever. And then, with less than 5 minutes before my first scene, he closed his tablet because he was getting off at the Rt 128 stop, a stop about 20 minutes before downtown Boston. Classic J-L Jinx.
Before going to City Winery I checked into the hotel, the Boston Wharf Hotel. My friend and opener for the night, Joe Pontillo was arriving later, but given the weather I changed my hotel from a (Tall) King bed to a Yassss Two Queen beds room. When he arrived I learned the first of many sad truths about the Boston Wharf Hotel, a hotel that looked like a million bucks and delivered 5 dollar service. $50 parking for the night!? I asked if that came with a hooker/sex worker/vaginal entrepreneur and they said no.
Joe and I made it to the venue around 6:15 and with no one helping us get the car into the parking lot I made my way into the venue and asked for help. They told me I could go to the parking lot and buzz him in. I went into the parking lot and no one answered the buzzer. Then some turd kicked the door stop, which left me in a cold parking lot unable to get Joe’s car into the lot and unable to get back into the venue. It felt like I was rebooting Spinal Tap into a depressing 10 minute drama. Nothing makes you feel like a headliner than being your own, inept parking attendant. But then, in a Shining like experience, an older Black man opened the door and let me back in (he must have sensed my despair). Once someone let Joe in we both ate some delicious pre-show salmon (my reminder that it was a Friday during Lent guilted Joe into ordering the same) and took some photos in the room posing as our green room. Then Jocelyn, our great handler (she was guiding the ship on my last trip to Boston as well) said they wanted to delay the start of the show because a lot of ticket purchasers had not yet showed up. Some little inside industry info – when a show has to start late because of lack of audience, that is not a great thing. But then a bunch of people actually started filing in and I felt temporary relief.
The show went really well (for the unvarnished truth listen to this week’s Righteous Pk Podcast) and I met several people who had come to the show just looking for comedy and thought I was great (in my years long struggle to woo comedy fans and not just bored people who like impressions, gaining people who only know me for stand up is a Godsend). After the show Joe, my college friend Duane and I went to a nice Italian restaurant for some drinks and bites and then left to go back to the hotel. And like a movie that you think is about to end, but then goes on for an hour more, the Boston Wharf Hotel front desk and valet now had their time to shine. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but at 1115 pm at a luxury looking hotel, with no other customers at the front desk and no other cars seeking valet service, 40 minutes is a long time to have to wait.
In the morning, Joe and I made our way home with a stop in a Connecticut IHOP for a breakfast where Joe marveled at the speed with which I inhale 5 pancakes, 4 sausage links (insert Mike Pence running gif here) and a partridge and a pear tree.
After a restful Saturday it was time to perform in Fairfield. Having not seen my Mom in a few weeks I met my Mom in midtown before catching a Metro North to Fairfield. We went to Shake Shack, at which point she handed me a stack of money to take a cab home to NJ… from Fairfield. “There’s a lot of shit going on in the subways,” my Mom told me at which point, her 6’7″ son with money and anger issues channeled Walter White said, “On the subway, I am the shit!” Like so many of the people hearing my jokes, my Mom did not get the reference. After Shake Shack I made my way to a packed train (I wish John Wick existed and the only people he went after were people who put their feet on train seats and people who listen to music and videos on their phones in public spaces without headphones). We arrived at the station at 7pm and it was literally 50 steps from the theater.
The small theater was great and the theater said they could tape our sets on their brand new, state of the art video system. I had brought my camera, but when I saw their set up I said I definitely wanted them to video tape on their system. We had 25 audience members, but at least half of them appeared to be actual fans or friends of mine (thank you!) and my pay was not contingent on ticket sales, so no pressure! I ended up having an outstanding set with all new material for my next hour and a lot of good ad libs. And just to be safe, 15 minutes before my set I went to the video guy and confirmed that he was recording the sets. You know where this is going…
On the train back at 1015 pm (a 90 minute train ride sitting next to a mother-daughter combo listening to loud music on one phone for the entire ride – teaching the next generation to be inconsiderate assholes warms the heart) I got a text from the show producer saying, “You are really jinxed – the theater forgot to turn on the video recording system). At this point I spiritually gave up on my comedy career. It is not the big things that break you folks – I am still performing and keeping up hope for my special(s), despite 501 days and counting of abject despair. But when pressing record proves too big a lift for a show? – that is the stuff that breaks me. I eventually made it home (only had to take a cab home from Newark, so “unnecessary cash from Mom” proves to once again be one of the most profitable sources of money in my stand-up comedy career – $120 profit on cab money from Mom compared to $170 profit on gig in Boston, which was a lower profit margin than my opener Joe).
Thanks to everyone who came to the shows, but more importantly, thank you to everyone who did not. In the words of George W. Bush after a different tragedy, “I hear you!”