Road Comedy Recap: The Scatman Crothers of the Boston…

It has been several years since I attended any comedy festival and 10 years since I made a good, but failed run at the Boston Comedy Festival.  But in the “hope springs eternal” mindset that rests beneath numerous layers of “fu*k this sh*t” I entered the Boston Comedy Festival again this year. My mindset was fairly practical in entering. The prize for the winner was $10,000.  With 96 competitors I figured odds were in my favor (imagine buying a $600 lottery ticket – train and hotel fare – but your odds of winning $10,000 was 1 in 96 – but really much better than that based on experience) so I entered.  Also, a much less important factor I figured was with most comics of my comedy generation either finding success or permanent obscurity it was time for me to meet the next group of comedians who might pass me by in the next five years. Either way I figured there were enough reasons to give it a shot.

So after spending several hundred dollars I went to my preliminary round Thursday night and had a really good set. And then at the end of the show when the comedians going on to the semi finals were announced I figured I was definitely in the top 5. And I may have been right, but I was not in the top 3, which was the number of comics advancing.  And just like that I felt like Scatman Crothers from the Shining. I had gotten on my Snowcat (Amtrak) and traveled many miles to show up to save the day, only to have a comedy contest ax buried in my chest.  But like many things in comedy, I am calloused at this point to where I can just sort of shrug it off in a few minutes (by contrast losing in the semi finals in 2006 took me… oh wait I am still not over that robbery).  Silver lining 2 of the 3 comics that made the semis from my prelim also made the finals, meaning that we had a disproportionate number of finalists.  The system really is rigged!

When you have a vision of being a hero in Boston, but get axed in the 1st round

I spent the next day at the movie theater (movies and movie snacks are my alcohol) and saw Arrival (thoughtful and solid) and Magical Harry Potter Beast Creatures Movie (decent escapism, but not sure I need it to be a five movie franchise, which is what they have planned). And then, thanks to my friend comedian Jay Nog I got a spot on his Paid or Pain show as part of the festival.  The show is unique, but simple: comedians perform and the audience decides if they get paid or pain (delivered by a dominatrix – on this show a latex clad busty woman – my favorite thing on the show, other than my own humor, was seeing the comedians on the lineup talk to her in the green room like she didn’t look like a porn star – my conversation with her would have been “Did you order a pizza? Something wrong with your cable? Plumbing? Are we gonna fu*k or what??”). I was one of the two judges on the show offering witty criticism and commentary on the show and the performers.  Other than the aforementioned dominatrix I think it would be safe to say my Trump impression stole the show.  I spent the last 20 minutes speaking as Trump only, including what Trump would want from a dominatrix (“I would want Ivanka in the room because she is very hot and I would want the dominatrix to be dehydrated so when she peed on me it was a strong Trump gold color”).  I think the show will air on Sirius XM at some point – I will tweet/share the details if I get them.

After the show I had a couple of comedians and audience members tell me that I should audition for SNL. It was a nice compliment and I will get on that as soon as I find a way to make it to the semi finals of a comedy contest.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.


Comedy Tools

Bad things come in threes so here are three things I observed in the last week that were a grey cloud on my comedy career (perhaps the incredible week the Utah Jazz had had to be counterbalanced with bad luck elsewhere).

Strike 1

Last Sunday I was eliminated from the 1st round of the Boston Comedy Festival by a “comedian” playing a ukulele.  There are two things that can tell you how stupid people in America are – opinion polls and stand up comedy shows.  There are things I have endured during my comedy career – 1,189 GPS jokes, 24,567 marijuana jokes, to name a couple, but I am not sure anything so demeaning has happened to me as losing to a gimmick.  Being that this is the last comedy competition I will do, this was a particularly stinging “loss.”

Punchlines and thought were no match for quirky instruments.

Strike 2

The last week represented a week of zero bookings.  Now, normally I would just be talking about clubs around the country who ignore my emails, but what is great is that even free shows in New York are become douchebaggy.  A new thing has emerged (perhaps it is not new, but it is new to me) where shows at bars with good reputations now have bookers.   Really? I have to work through an independent booker for your fu*king show in a backroom of a bar?  You e-mail a friend or a fellow comedian who “runs” the show and then are re-directed to a bookerwho will try to watch your set at some point in the future so that you can have the honor of appearing on a show that will not pay you (perhaps if I had made more friends in comedy someone could vouch for me, but I guess I have not praised or kissed the ass of the right comedians).  WOW!   One more signal that comedy is just as big a fraud as acting or music.  Maybe I jsut don’t understand the game anymore.

Who knew unpaid spots at bar shows were so exclusive!

Strike 3

Tracy Morgan’s HBO Special.  I watched this abomination on Sunday morning.  Not since I saw Katt Williams deliver an absolutely worthless performance, high on drugs and low on material, at Carnegie Hall two years ago have I seen such an awful stand up performance.  It had all the hallmarks of bad comedy – out of date and unoriginal material (seriously after two years of seeing the actual Obama in office – isn’t the notice of Obama as a badass, gangster president completely irrelevant?), an audience of comedy illiterates (a standing ovation for a glorified open mic performance) and a performer who without Tina Fey’s writing appears to be mentally handicapped.

Behind this successful man is a woman who writes anything funny he has ever said.

I was told on Facebook that perhaps not growing up in a black community I could not relate to Tracy Morgan’s material.  It’s fu*king terrible comedy no matter what neighborhood you come from.  I am a fan of many black comedians and Tracy Morgan is just not good.  There was no in depth exploration of anything in his routine that required first hand knowledge.  It simply required that you either a) had never seen stand up comedy before so what he said actually appeared original or b) were a person who took delight in a black man for any reason.  It was awful.

So this was the week in comedy – losing out on an opportunity because of a ukulele, not getting on unpaid bar shows because I have to be vetted by independent commissions and seeing a famous comedian in a position I aspire to, proving that it is not necessary to be good at comedy to be well received in comedy.

Who’d think that 11 audience members at midnight in the Village Lantern this Saturday would have been the highlight of my comedy week.  Here’s hoping for a stronger week.


Trying Times in Indianapolis

This past week I spent in Indianapolis to compete in Trial By Laughter, a comedy contest (yay) between thirty-two comics from around the country.  Here are the important details:

  • The winner was to receive $1,000 cash, an Amazon Kindle, a Flip camera, a 45 minute DVD shoot at Morty’s Comedy Joint – the host club for the competition and a CD recording deal
  • Runner up was to receive $500 cash, a Flip camera, a 30 minute DVD shoot at the club and a recording deal
  • 3rd and 4th place receive automatic entry into the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta in Spring 2011
  • 5th-32nd place leave with varying ranges of disappointment and bitterness towards comedy and with sets to air on local Comcast (Indiana/Midwest) this December.

Guess which group I fell in?  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Here is a full recap of the week.

Night 1 – Optimism in Many Forms

So the first night of the competition I did good work.  I was the second overall comedian of the competition and I felt very good about my set.  I ended up placing first in my group and moving on to the semi finals.

After the show I was going to go to Steak N Shake with fellow comedian Nick Dopuch of Chicago via St. Louis, except for one thing – Nick’s car broke down – specifically his alternator and battery were shot.  This combined with Nick not moving on to the next round (he went after me and lost the crowd with a Chicago Cub bit) and I was feeling bad for him.  Had both of those things happened to me I probably would have lit the car on fire, but Nick was remarkably pleasant. 

And he was rewarded – two women who had watched the show drove by and asked us if we needed help (isn’t it usually the other way around? – what a great feminist moment).  They ended up driving us to the dealership so Nick could leave the car there for morning repairs and then were Nick’s guest to Steak N Shake as a thank you (sure this could be the opening for a porno film, but one was married and one had a boyfriend so Nick was going to have to be content with a hamburger and milkshake).  Here is the most important part of our conversation, which, once again, took place at Steak N Shake, where we were waited on by Andrew,

Imagine jemaine going through the awkward teenage years and you have our waiter at Steak N Shake.

who looked like a teenage Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, for the first of 4 consecutive nights:

Woman 1 – So you guys just travel around doing comedy?

Nick and J-L – Yeah

Woman 2 – So it must be crazy – is it just money and partying on the road?

Nick and J-L – Yeah, that is why you had to give a jump to my broken down Honda.  And why we are sitting in Steak N shake eating ice cream with platonic groupies – because it is fu*king crazy!

Somehow our fans thought comedy was much like a Motley Crue tour, which it is if you replace orgies with trips to Best Buy and cocaine with ice cream sundaes.

So after night 1 I was feeling optimistic of my chances in the competition and was more impressed with the resiliency of Nick.

Days 2-4 – Movies, The Rock & Al Pacino

The next two days were basically me and Nick driving from strip mall to strip mall doing impressions of The Rock, Al Pacino.  We also went to see Paranormal Activity 2 (underrated) and Due Date (overhyped).  Basically it was just a higher IQ version of Dumb and Dumber for 48 hours.  We also watched the other competitors each night, and passed judgment on most of them.

I kept telling Nick that he had me laughing way more in real life than when he was on stage.  It was like looking at my opposite.  I have been told to be nicer on stage, whereas I think Nick may make too much of an effort to be nice on stage.  That’s comedy – trying to be yourself, while making it work for other people.

Nick Dopuch and J-L Cauvin taking Indianapolis by storm

Night 4 – The Death of Optimism

So every competition for me has a pattern – I have a kick ass first round,  and a very good set in the round preceding the finals that is derailed by some sort of bad timing.  A brief history:

2008 Boston Comedy Festival – Sandwiched between Bostonians Joe List and Myq Kaplan I get squashed – less crowd interactive than List and then dismissed by one of Kaplan’s patented callback quips to my set.

2009 Boston Comedy Festival – I went last in a field of 8 in the semi finals.  I had an excellent set.  Unfortunately, the audience had sort of tuned out because Dave McDonough had just obliterated them (he went on to win the whole thing).  It was like he felt like a closer and then “hey wait, don’t leave – we know you loved that last guy, but we have one more as*hole who wants to stop you from going home – J-L Cauvin!”

2010 New York Comedy Contest – only 2 rounds and I finished 2nd of 70+ comedians.  1st place won $2500.  2nd place won $0

2010 Trial By Laughter – I am seeded 2nd, but behind the #1 seed Tom Simmons, who beat me in San Francisco last year and went on to win the whole thing.  As a 17 or 57 year veteran of comedy Simmons is a very tough matchup and going last (the benefit of being the higher seed) would make it nearly impossible.  But after the set I had in the first round I am not sure why I drew the toughest matchup in the second round, but the karma-like tradition of “fu*king J-L in the semi finals/second round” is apparently set in stone at this point.

Tom and I had engaged in some spirited texting during the week.  Where he assured me that everyone was fighting for second place and made Mom-related comments and plagiarised Eminem to trash talk while I asked him if he would use any notes from his days workshopping with Elaine Boozler.  So Thursday night we were the lad off matchup with NYC’s Lance Weiss leading off followed by me, closed out by Tom Simmons.

The competition is being filmed for local Comcast airing so all sets needed to be TV clean.  Lance Weiss, 40 seconds into his joke said: “oops I fu*ked up that joke, and now I have cursed… I will be selling my DVDs after the show” – a very funny moment, but made it more obvious that it would be a showdown between the Tom and I.

I went up and had a perfect set (10 minutes this round and comedians were not allowed to repeat jokes from any preceding rounds).   I could not be angry with myself.  What I could be angry with is that the crowd was now sufficiently warmed up for Tom Simmons to finish the show.  Which he did.  I left his set 3 minutes in because every minute that went by I could hear my chances of winning diminishing with every Midwestern guffaw.  Towards the end of his set I heard a loud burst of applause and I came back into the showroom, assuming it was him getting off stage.  Nope.  Applause break.  At that moment, for the 58th time in 7 1/2 years I declared my comedy career over.  All the frustration of the highs and lows just came to an all new head.

Tom Simmons went on to finish second to Kansas City’s Mike Baldwin so thanks for doing my job for me Baldwin.  Of course I was not there because I had flown out the morning of the Finals.  Special thanks to comedian Tony Deyo, who was also a much better sport than me about losing in a very tough semi finals match (to Mike Baldwin), who gave me an early morning ride to the airport.  I guess one of the good things about the week was to see and meet comedians who were able to roll with punches a lot better than me and look to the bigger picture.

Here is the familiar end for me in comedy competitions.

Unfortunately now is not the time for lessons because I am headed to Boston for… you guessed it – the first round of the 2010 Boston Comedy Festival.  God help us all.


Second Place A/K/A 1st Loser

(My epic gripe/concern about Twitter & Facebook must be delayed)

Last night I finished second in the New York Comedy Contest.  I am automatically entered into the Boston Comedy Festival, which I have been accepted into5 times in the last 5 years so you can imagine my relief.  In terms of tangible benefits I do not have to pay the $35 entrance fee, which is good, except I did pay a $35 entrance fee for the New York Comedy Contest so I sort of break even.

On my refrigerator right now.

The Finals took place at the Times Square Arts Center in front of a packed crowd of 60 people (including the 6 judges, 12 comics and waitresses, one of whom looked like she still thought the location was a strip club, much to the chauvinistic amusement of the all male lineup of awkward comedians, a/k/a me).

I had a good set last night and I caught a glimpse of the winners list before it was announced.  My first reaction was: “Oh sh*t! I saw my name!”  My reaction 1.5 seconds later – “Fu*k there was a name above mine.” That name was Jim Tews, who oddly enough I met for the first time a few weeks ago in Cleveland, where he hails from.

When I saw him before the show I told him I did not remember his name and he said likewise.  After the show he came up to me and said, “Now you’ll remember my name motherfu*ker!”  (That’s not true, but that is what I would have done to him if I had won).  Jim won $2500.  I won a $35 coupon for the Boston Comedy Festival, which I paid $35 for.

Oddly enough I did not feel angry at all (and still don’t, which either shows an increasing maturity or apathy on my part).  And making me feel even better was seeing the Lakers lose to the Celtics when I got home last night.  A loss always feels better when you then see Kobe Bryant lose.  I am sure when Kobe got back to his hotel and checked Twitter he was equally pleased to see me lose.


The Loss of a Great Man and a Great…

This week in Cleveland I received some sad news – Mike Crotty Sr., the father of a friend and teammate of mine from Williams College passed away suddenly.  Although I was a senior when Mike the younger was a freshman, Mr. Crotty hit it off with the entire team.  Present at just about every game he was quick with a compliment for everyone, which was particularly impressive for someone like me since I spent a majority of games riding the pine.

My favorite memories of Mr. Crotty are particularly appropriate to this website however because they both involve comedy.

In September 2005 I was competing in the Semi Finals of the Boston Comedy Festival.  I had probably seen Mr. Crotty only once or twice in the 4 years since I graduated from Williams, but there he was with his son and several former classmates of mine from Williams.  I had a good set and thought I would make the Finals (a recurring theme for me), but sadly did not make it.  I was disappointed, but was just beginning to find out that that is 90% of comedy.  And as all the finalists were announced, Mr. Crotty let out a bellowing “That’s bullshit!”  when it was clear that I was not a finalist.  After the set and seeing that I was somewhat disappointed he reminded me that not one of the other competitors had a dunk like the one I had to end my college career four years earlier (see he could find a hoops highlight even for me).

Now some comedians may read that and say that’s improper or not the nicest way to end a show, but in the grand scheme of things it meant a ton to me.  In a business that increasingly feels like being alone at sea, it was the father of a friend who had the guts to call out what he thought was wrong, all in the name of supporting my comedy.  Outside of my Mother and Uncle I don’t know anyone who would make such a blatant gesture of defiance in defending me on something so small.   As I have continued along in comedy the amount of people standing up for the right thing or willing to speak against “bullshit” seems to diminish with every passing week.  Mr Crotty was not to be counted in that group.

Four years later (this past Fall) I was headlining Tommy’s Comedy Lounge in Boston on Halloween weekend.  The Friday night show on Halloween’s eve had been a success and several friends from Williams (my main Boston connection) showed up, but the Halloween night show was very lightly attended.  But guess who made it to show driving straight from a basketball game a couple of hours away to get there on time?  The Mike Crottys.  After doing stand up for almost 7 years there are few people I can count on to consistently show up for a show.  The fact that Mr. Crotty was one of those people speaks overwhelmingly to his loyalty, kindness and love of a good laugh.

Of the many benefits of attending Williams College, meeting Mr. Crotty was undoubtedly one of them.  I was sad not to attend his funeral, but I’ve been in Cleveland performing comedy.  My next stop next week will be a headlining weekend in Boston.  There will be one big laugh missing for sure.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Mike, his Mom and his sister.  Thanks for sharing Mr. Crotty with a bench-warming comedian.


Boston: Less Than A Feeling

This weekend I headed up to that city known for its charm, its Patriotism and its resistance to integration efforts.  That’s right it was of to Boston, for what would be the first headlining gig I have gotten from a comedy club – Tommy’s Comedy Lounge.  If I ever see the check or cash from the gig I will be sure to frame it, like Scrooge McDuck’s first dime.

The answer for the jeopardy question: When was the first time J-L headlined at a comedy club?  We will also accept, when was the last time J-L headlined a comedy club?
The answer for the jeopardy question: When was the first time J-L headlined at a comedy club? We will also accept, when was the last time J-L headlined a comedy club?

Some of the highlights:

1) Booker told me he thought I was awesome and had no idea all the sh*t I brought because he has only seen me in 5 minute spots at the Boston Comedy Festival.  That felt nice.   And then reminded me I’ve never made the Boston Festival Finals.  Fu-k.

2) Friday’s show was awesome and a lot of fun – great crowd, great tape.

3) Yankees won Game 3 while I was in Boston.

Some of the low lights:

1) 8 audience members on Saturday’s show.  Granted it was Halloween, baseball playoffs were on and it was raining, but the fact that I could not have done a bringer in NYC and I was headlining was sort of embarrassing.  Thankfully the crowd was really good, despite their small numbers.

Lesbian bar across the street from Tommy's Comedy Lounge proved a much more popular destination than my shows.
Lesbian bar across the street from Tommy's Comedy Lounge proved a much more popular destination than my shows.

2) I saw Paranormal Activity and then could not sleep very well Saturday night.  The movie was quite creepy, but what made my experience more creepy was that I was staying at the College Club of Boston, an affiliate of the Williams Club.  The room rates were very reasonable, but the place was a quiet townhouse with creaky wooden floors, lots of old paintings and rooms that looked like Bill Compton could have lived in them when he was actually alive.  In other words I was pretty sure a demon was haunting me and was fu-king with my sleep.  And my comedy career.

My room in Boston.  Seems more appropriate for tea with women in 1798 than for solitary self-loathing in 2009.
My room in Boston. Seems more appropriate for tea with women in 1798 than for solitary self-loathing in 2009.

3) While eating one of the worst hamburgers of all time at a restaurant called Rock Bottom in Boston (named after either Dwayne Johnson’s WWF finishing move or my career) I saw a mouse run across the floor.  Kind of like the obvious symbolism of the rat in the iconic Boston-set film The Departed, the mouse in my experience was Martin Scorsese’s cosmic and obvious way of telling me that comedy is like a rat race, but smaller and more insignificant.


Boston Comedy Festival Recap

Well, this year, as it has happened twice before, ended in the semi-finals for me.  But it was a fun experience and I met some good people and funny people.  Sometimes they were both.

Favorite Moment

I guess advancing to the semi finals.  It felt good to kill it.  Also, getting a lot of support from friends in the Boston area.  Always nice to get support from friends and then reward them with a good performance and a good show.

Least Favorite Moment

Watching the eventual champ, Dave McDonough, absolutely crush in the semi finals right before me.  At the time I was thinking, “I think I have a chance at making the finals” and then he obliterated the audience.  It was like that moment in a movie where the hero appears to have saved the day and then at the last moment the alien/villain creeps up from behind and stabs the hero in the back as he falls tragically.  That was how it felt.  But at least he won the whole thing. 

Just near the end when it seemed our hero would advance it became clear that any victory would only be a moral one.  Yes, I am Maximus in this metaphor.
Just near the end when it seemed our hero would advance it became clear that any victory would only be a moral one. Yes, I am Maximus in this metaphor.

Best Bizarre Compliment

Told by a fellow competitor and eventual finalist that I was hysterical and that he wished he could clone me and raise my clone as a homosexual.   He was gay, not just curious in seeing how one raises a homosexual child.

What I would look like if cloned and raised as a gaybe.
What I would look like if cloned and raised as a gaybe.

Most Reassuring Moment

Listening to a panel of managers and bookers talk about the business of comedy.  I always imagined these things being bullsh*t fluff sessions, but it turned out to be incredibly helpful and encouraging.  Made me glad I stayed the extra day after not advancing. 

Overall a fun time and put me in a much better state of mind for the San Francisco Comedy Competition where all my lessons from Boston, from being relaxed and forgetting it’s a competition to wooing the comedic affections of gay men will surely come in handy.


Mad Man

Today I depart for Boston for the semi-finals of the Boston Comedy Festival.  Last night I had my own show that I produce and I was excited both for the great lineup we had, as well as the fact that I would be able to do a nice practice run of my set for tonight.  Unfortunately, that would not happen.  What would happen is that Medgar Evers College would finally be bumped down to #2 on the list of worst gigs I’ve ever performed.

Last night the bar was largely occupied by young members of an ad agency (think Mad Men, but all stupid, unable to handle their alcohol and unattractive) who had been there drinking and playing Wii since early afternoon, since they had a half day.  Even in my glass half empty approach to life I thought, hey maybe we could make fans of this group since they work nearby.   Instead what we got was a bunch of drunk as-holes.

Don Draper's expression says it all, but ad men are on the wrong side of this fight.
Don Draper's expression says it all, but ad men are on the wrong side of this fight.

I managed to get through about 4 minutes of material until I had to deal with the idiots (and they had already ruined 4 people’s sets).  There were two main offenders.  One was a drunk kid who looked like he was about 19.  He managed to make a spectacle during everyone’s set.  The other was a slightly older d-bag who would shout random things he thought was funny.  For example when I said the word Obama, he shouted “Obama your mama hahahahahaha.”  Even when they appreciated the jokes, they would then discuss and argue loudly why the joke was or was not funny.

I felt terrible and embarrassed for the great comics I had come to perform, but fortunately all of them know experiences like this.  I was very close to actually pulling the Chazz Palminteri scene from A Bronx Tale, which I ironically just filmed a spoof of, where he locks the bar door and tells them that they can’t leave the bar. 

Adding insult to injury, I was talking after the show outside with Nick Cobb when the 19 year old spectacle came outside and started talking to us.  So I said to him, “You just ruined our show, but now you are interrupting my life and a private conversation.”  Then when I was talking to Nick one of the worker’s from the ad agency, we will call him Token after the South Park character,  decided to flex his muscle by saying the following, “Don’t you hate comedians who aren’t funny and make fun of the audience.”  At this point he might as well have come into my apartment and taken a sh*t on my bed.  Despite actually trembling with rage (my only fear was that I might hospitalize the jerk – I am no fighter, but I am big and like most comics have very little to live for) I managed to utter out the most sensible thing I said all night – “you and your friends ruined the show in there, but now you’ve come outside and disrespected us out here.”  Hearing that, and probably seeing the crazed look in my eyes that only occurs during Utah Jazz losses and listening to Sean Hannity, he apologized. 

Token and his ad agency buddies made me very angry last night.
Token and his ad agency buddies made me very angry last night.

But there it is.  Bad audience, but not as bad as Medgar Evers College.  But the fact that it happened at my show and nearly resulted in misdemeanor assault charges makes it the worst.   All in all, since Monday, this has been the worst string of shows I’ve done (3 “eh” shows on Tuesday, an awful open mic on Wednesday, and a crime against humanity on Thursday).  Let’s hope Boston brings me back some good vibes.

There is a happy ending to the Always Be Funny show story though.  My friend who part owns the bar where my show takes place left me a voice mail last night.  He told me that the drunk 19 year old had torn down one of the bar’s signs in drunken stupidity and thrown it in the bushes outside, so my friend threw him in the bushes, at which point he began crying.  The only thing that would have made me happier is if Token had somehow had his jaw broken during this exchange, but even so, maybe it was a sign that my luck was changing at the right moment.

Hopefully his tears mean good things for my comedy fortunes.
Hopefully his tears mean good things for my comedy fortunes.

We’ll see – Boston Comedy Festival Semi-Finals tonight at 9 pm – Hard Rock Cafe.


Killing, Dying & The Death Penalty

Death Penalty

Before I get into comedic related issues a quick statement on the death penalty (due to some Facebook chatter on my page).  I am against the death penalty in all cases.  The recent revelation in Texas that an innocent man was executed for arson and capital murder in 2004 for allegedly setting fire to his home, which killed his two young children should be huge news.  Can you imagine the man’s anguish (he never pleaded guilty)?  But I am against it even when the person is actually guilty (yes even if DNA and videotape corroborate it).  I think it is barbaric.  China, parts of the Middle East and the U.S. are the world’s executors.  No one else I believe.  

This doesn't say it all, but what it does say, it says nicely.
This doesn't say it all, but what it does say, it says nicely.

One argument for the death penalty I get is – what if it was your friend or family member they killed – you’d be for it then?  Well, being human I would want vengeance.  But the government is in place to elevate society (at least we hope) beyond Old Testament justice, not to enforce it.  It has no deterrent effect and I don’t think satisfying some sort of blood lust should be our main justification for imposing a punishment.  Isn’t that why people get to watch UFC and MMA fights?  This is to say nothing of the racial disparity in the application of the death penalty.  It is a flawed and barbaric system because it relies too much on passion and prejudice, which is exactly what the law is supposed to reign in.  There is a reason that a police officer can shoot someone during a potentially dangerous or lethal situation, but not when the criminal has his hands behind his back handcuffed and is unarmed.   Of course the person is not convictedof anything yet, but even after conviction does he/she pose any more threat to society locked away for the rest of his life than the unarmed person on the sidewalk with his hands cuffed?

Now with that happy start this has been a strange week in comedy.


Monday –

Had a great set at the Boston Comedy Festival (the one and only sanctioned kill in this blog entry).  Advanced to the semi-finals on Friday.  Was feeling great about comedy.  This was one of those days where I was saying, man comedy is great.  It almost feels good to be alive.  Oops spoke to soon – because here comes Tuesday.

Racially and metaphorically this was me on Monday.
Racially and metaphorically this was me on Monday.


Tuesday –

Started the evening off with the World Series of Stand Up at Carolines.  14 audience members.  Maybe 16.  I delivered my jokes with more disdain than usual (partly fatigue from Boston), despite a renewed effort to be more smiley when I deliver my jokes (“what’s  the matter boss, WE sick”).  The crowd laughed as much as they could at someone they probably did not like (the line “wow – thanks you guys I always wondered when the first time that joke would not do well would be” is not very endearing) and I lost.

Then I was off to a bringer at Gotham Comedy Club.  I learned an important lesson from my bringer.  If I am ever in a foxhole the people I can depend on are: my parents, my girlfriend, a few ex-co-workers and my barber – because in a pinch that is who showed up to support me.  The jokes were going fine until I risked a bit on interracial porn being racist.  It went over well with about 8 people in the crowd.  My joke, albeit still a little rough, focuses on the fact that a successful genre of porn is interracial.  I mean the categories for porn are things like: anal, orgies, urine and feces fetishes and interracial.  Shouldn’t one of these not be considered as much of a taboo?  Exactly, urine and feces are pretty mainstream now.  I will take the blame for that one not being ready Gotham, but deep down I think the 2.5 black people (my Dad, me and some dude) were not enough to make the 93 white people comfortable talking about race.

Then I went and auditioned at Comic Strip at 1115 pm.  It went well since there were still 6 people who had not yet fallen into a comedy show induced coma.  And of course I did not get passed.  I was told that my HIV joke was good.  I replied by saying it was not a joke and then stabbed him with a needle full of my blood.  I was told my joke about my height was a little too obvious, which I kind of agreed with except then I realized I had not told a joke about my height per se.  Maybe I just don’t know what words and sentences mean yet, but when I do I will be able to adjust my joke about Lane Bryant to not be so damn much about my height.

Size wise and metaphorically this was me Tuesday.
Size wise and metaphorically this was me Tuesday.


The Epilogue to this experience was that Time Out NY once again failed to list my show in their comedy listings page (for the next listing I am going to disguise my show and call it the ALTHOMOSUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC LOWEREASTSIDEOR POSSIBLY BROOKLNBUT ONLY COOL PARTSOF BROOKLYN EXTRAVAGANZA SHOW.


Hopefully that means the end of the bad comedy karma and I can get back to doing well Thursday and Friday.  Stay tuned.


Wake Me Up When September Ends

A lot of big things in September that can potentially lead to incremental success as a comedian or months of bitter regret.  I have not done any new writing since returning from Denver in a hopes to avoid what is often the death-knell for me in any audition/competition in the past.  It goes something like this: I think of a funny premise, which will be funny in a month, a week before an important show.  I then say to myself – this is my best joke!  I then do it and it ruins part of a set that would have been good, but for the prematurely born joke.  I then punch inanimate objects and write about my frustration.  Not this year.  Here are my upcoming trials:

The Boston Comedy Festival – August 30th-September 6th.  This is aspirational.  If I am performing on September 6th it will have been a success.  If I am not angry on September 7th it will have been a huge success/possible miracle.

I have not made the finals in Boston in 5 years and Aaron Boone no longer comforts me.
I have not made the finals in Boston in 5 years and Aaron Boone no longer comforts me.

An Obamacare Tale– We just finished filming my latest spoof/video and not only do I think this will be the best, but also actually semi-relevant.  Imagine a health care town hall with all the worst elements of Obama haters, then imagine a guy who looks like Beck playing Joe Biden and the best Obama impression you’ve ever seen by a member of my family.  Then model it after the scene in A Bronx Tale where Chazz Palminteri beats up a group of bikers.  What do you have?  A video that should go viral and be on Olberman’s Countdown and launch my new career as SNL’s Obama.  What will it actually get – 14 Facebook comments and 500-600 hits.  But it should be up this week and will make me momentarily happy.

What happens when the town hall gets our of control for Obama?  An Obamacare Tale... coming soon.
What happens when the town hall gets our of control for Obama? An Obamacare Tale... coming soon.

San Francisco Comedy Competition September 9, 2009 – November 4, 2013– This is a prestigious comedy competition that lasts for a very long time if you are good/lucky.  I hope to go far (it actually ends October 3, 2009 – see Boston Comedy Festival above for similar description).   I have never been to San Francisco, but I hear it’s a nice city.  I am sure I will enjoy my friend’s couch and the nearest 24 Hour Fitness club and Starbucks.  But don’t worry, I will tell everyone that it is awesome when I return, the way people returning from Europe trips show how much they were changed by experiencing Europe by saying things like Barthelona.

Hope to have good news to report in September/October.  Probably will be more entertaining if I don’t.  Stay tuned.