Thursday through Sunday I was performing at the Hartford Funny Bone, which as the name would indicate, is located in… Manchester, Connecticut (hence the blog title – there are no specific C-Words, but I could not resist the pun for the title). It was my first time back at the club since 2011. I received good reviews my previous two times at the HFB, but then went to the Des Moines Funny Bone in mid-2011 and received poor fan survey results (I still sold a lot of CDs and never got heckled or booed that week, so I am not sure how bad the grades could have been). So naturally the response was to not book me for five years at any of the 20+ Funny Bone/Improvs. I still wonder if one of my favorite videos on YouTube had anything to do with it, when I read emails during my last Des Moines set from a cute young woman (most likely a year or two away from sleeping with one of her high school students, assuming she is a teacher) who wanted to come to my hotel:
But like a reboot no one asked for I made a triumphant return to Manchester-Hartford last week and it was fun, funny and volatile.
Thursday: Good Start
I arrived in Hartford at 2:20pm on Thursday and was picked up by the club manager. He was running the sound booth when I was last there in 2011, so it turns out that there are ways to advance your career in the comedy business, as long as you make sure to avoid being a comedian. He brought me to the Extended Stay, which is pretty solid for chain hotels. Pluses – full kitchen in your room. Negatives – no breakfast and the arch nemesis of my health a 5 minute walk away:
When my Mom learned I was at an Extended Stay she asked me if it was okay and if there were families staying there. I then realized that she, being unfamiliar with the Extended Stay brand, assumed Extended Stay was some sort of governmental housing term for displaced families or a halfway house. I had to inform her that my career was not so bad (yet) that it required FEMA assistance.
The show that night was good (no hecklers, sold a lot of CDs). And one fan/friend (“Fran” – Trademark pending) showed up as well (I AM A DRAW).
Friday: The JL Jinx Affects Connecticut’s Heroines
It is no secret that I am a gambling cooler to my own comedy career. Therefor, if anything actually positive starts to happen in my career the universe requires a hefty sacrifice to balance it out. Well, with CDs sales brisk and shows going well, it should come as no surprise that within 36 hours of my arrival in the state, the UConn women’s basketball team, 4 time defending champions and owners of a record 111 game winning streak saw their streak ended Friday night. There was nothing else to really report from Friday, but with the debt to the comedy gods paid, Saturday was in a safe position to resume destroying my career.
Saturday: Faith, Fans and Fu*k-Ups
I started my day (at 315pm) with a 2 mile walk to the nearest Catholic Church for Saturday Vigil Mass at 4pm. In a big plus for Connecticut everyone shook hands during Peace, instead of the Purell habit that I have observed over the last 5+ years of just waving and saying “Peace be with you,” even to the person standing next to you. Having prayed for guidance on what to do with my life, God would give a very clear answer that night at the Funny Bone.
I had 6 fans showing up to the early show (well 3 separate fans dragging others to the show) – I AM A DRAW OUT OF THE FEATURE SPOT! But the early show was not starting on time. In fact it was starting 15 minutes late. So while the emcee was on stage (doing his full time) I was asked to get off stage by 8:05, which ended up being an 11.5 minute feature set (instead of the usual 20-25 minutes). THAT WILL TEACH PEOPLE TO BE FANS OF MINE! I still sold CDs and expressed gratitude afterwards, by doing a 30 minute set/podcast rant in front of Bertucci’s in the shopping mall for superfan Keith and his brother (I think it was his brother) and friend after so they got headliner minutes out of me at least.
The late show started and a short Latino man in his 40s kept yelling that it was his birthday (apparently as part of Trump’s MAGA, men are trying to snatch the comedy club heckling nightmare crown from drunk white women). At one point he took the mic from the emcee (who was a nice kid 20 years old, but legitimately looked like a very tall 14 year old). During my set Stand and Deliver and his surrounding tables never shut up (as I write this I wish I had gone into a Jaime Escalante impression), but I handled it pretty well and even got to say many humorous, somewhat racist things to him and his table using my Trump impression. Look for my next video “Comedian CRUSHES Heckler as Trump, Obama & Bernie Sanders!!!!” (just kidding – I don’t want to post it)
Sunday: The Trump Pen and Peter Pan
Sunday was the final show of the week and after watching the Utah Jazz lose a close one on national TV I headed to the club. The crowd was big and the show went great. However, the show started 30 minutes late and the headliner did well over an hour, so instead of being able to sell merch I had to run to catch my 10pm Peter Pan bus (named Peter Pan because like the kids in Pan, if you ride their buses you are likely not to grow older). But after my set the headliner, Michael Colyar was kind enough to call me back up to the stage, called me a genius and gave me a talking Trump pen (follow my Instagram (@jlcomedy) to see my video of the pen). One of the nicest, if not the nicest gestures any headliner has ever done for me. But with no time to spare I got a ride to the bus station in downtown Hartford.
The bus got to NYC 40 minutes early (one of the great paradoxes of bus travel in America – it is unquestionably the worst of transportation choices and yet, always on time and cheap, which trains and planes cannot claim), but my favorite part of the trip was the intro safety video on the bus from the Peter Pan CEO and family (like a Trump family but with a net worth of $900K). As I sat with a bunch of people that looked like extras from The Wire and a Trump campaign video about illegal immigrants, it was pretty funny to sit there watching the Peter Pan CEO, White Whiterson, and his children wish us well on our journey. I could actually see them cross the street on the video after delivering their message.
All in all, a productive and fun week of comedy. Even more significantly, with 7 fans and kind gestures from the headliner, there may have been a downside to the week – I feel motivated to continue doing stand up. And with that, enjoy two new stand up bit/clips from the weekend. Enjoy!
Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER & ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.