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Road Comedy Recap: No Sidewalk Suburbs of Chicago

I am sitting in Chicago’s Union Station (the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge to be more specific) racing to write this before my train gets called.  This first leg of my whistle-please-stop doing comedy tour in Chicago is complete and now it is on to leg two – the Southwest Chief, which is Amtrak’s daily train from Chicago to Los Angeles, with stops at many cities, including Las Vegas,… New Mexico?  I did not know there was a Las Vegas, New Mexico, but I hope it is known as Virtue City.  I am taking Amtrak and Greyhound this entire trip because after 2 years of largely working 2 jobs in my apartment, I wanted built-in relaxation where I could not do anything besides look out a window, read or watch a show, even if I wanted to.  So let’s see if I can type the Chicago portion quickly before getting on the train!

Capitol Limited

On Tuesday I made my way to Washington, DC to catch the Capitol Limited – their DC to Chicago train.  I had been upgraded to a full bedroom (from a “roomette,” which is French for “too small for a giant”  – spoiler I am taking a roomette to LA) and settled in.  I watched the entire season of Hawkeye on Disney+ (solid) and made it halfway through the first of four books I packed, David Frum’s Trumpocracy (an autographed gift from the author) and ate some decent meals courtesy of my my excellent train car attendant , who looked like an extra from Dances with Wolves, but sounded like Hank Azaria in The Birdcage.  The train was actually running ahead of time (I slept about 4.5 hours during the night) when we left Toledo but due to train traffic and mechanical difficulties on other trains we got to Chicago 2 hours late. THANKS BIDEN!

I am an Amtrak sleeping car tall

When I got to Chicago I hopped in a Lyft to Schaumburg, IL where the Chicago Improv is located.  It was my first time back at the Chicago Improv since 2010. That year, one year into my “I don’t need another job after being laid off because I am going to make it in comedy,” I went to audition for feature work at the club. The pay for the spot was $50, which slightly exceeded my $100 hotel and $405 Jet Blue round trip flight.  I was passed that night to feature at the club… as I joked once “I will end up headlining clubs before they ever feature me.” Prescient and pessimistic. Prescimistic!  (trademarking that since it is basically my brand).

I arrived at my Hampton Inn at 1145am, but as people who have seen my stand up recently, the Hampton Inn has really been the hospitality hero of my comedy career.  They let me check in at 1145am, which was a nice help since the Chicago temperature was a balmy 0 when I arrived.  If I ever get big enough to sign with a hotel chain it will be Hampton Inn.

MTV Cribs – Amtrak bedroom edition

Now my show was not until Thursday night so I had time to do my favorite road activity: legal work in my hotel room.  I got to town early by a day for a few reasons – so I had a day to feel acclimated and fresh and also because a social media friend that I made during the pandemic was a local TV personality and had told me to let him know if I got a gig in Chicago. This was no BS offer – the guy had me on via zoom twice in 2020 and was just very kind and supportive – he looked LA, but clearly had solid midwestern values.  Well, as the JL Jinx would have it, after 10 years on air the show had been canceled.

Now the night before I left for Chicago I received an email that my tickets sales in LA for February 6th were not good, so as often happens to me when alone, negativity snowballs and I began to ask myself “what the fu*k am I doing?” And with that joyous thought I fell asleep.

Street Walker

A common complaint I have had throughout my travels in America is, “why aren’t there more sidewalks?”  No wonder we are a fat country!  Well, Schaumburg has sidewalks… but they were all buried under a mound of snow. So to walk for lunch or a coffee on Thursday I found myself walking on the edge of quasi-highways, looking like a drifter. I never got hit by a car, but one person yelled at me “Run Forrest Run” as I trotted past traffic, which did not make me feel optimistic for the comedy sensibilities of the people of Chicago suburbs. Really?  Run Forrest Run is the best you’ve got?

After a meal at PF Chang’s (I like to lean on my eastern philosophy and training before a stressful show) I made my way into the Chicago Improv.  An absolute beauty of a club. Seriously, if you live in Chicago and did not go to my show (like the woman (Fan?) who had a lengthy conversation with me on IG about where I should have eaten lunch and then wished me luck on my show… maybe I can just seat 50 Zagat’s guides at my next show, in lieu of humans) you should go to the Improv.

PF Chang’s next door to the Improv tried to set me up with a sidepiece

The emcee and feature both did well and then I got on stage in front of a respectable crowd and proceeded to do a very self-indulgent 80 minutes.  To be honest I have never gone quasi-hoarse on stage and that is when I knew I had done too much. That said, most of the set was pretty damn killer and already have developed some new bits that make me want to plan for another album at the end of the year.  The audience was really great and after the show meeting the fans was really great.  I know a lot of people have said things like “you got me through the pandemic” and other such nice statements, but after being so stressed and bummed about so many things related to my career, including in the last 48 hours, meeting the fans after the show was maybe the first time ever (no offense to all other great fans in other cities) that it really lifted my spirits.  Not sure if it was because there were many people who I had many interactions with on social media, or if they were at the right show at the right time to pick me up or if it was nice that so many people had specific comments about bits they liked, but whatever the reason (the real reason may have been that they bought more merch than any other crowd in the last year) it made me feel damn good!  So to the fans and friends who came out in Chicago – thank you!  Be warned though, once this all turns south in 6 days or 6 months I will probably blame you for making me want to keep at it.

Goodbye Chicago. Thank you for your service

Bam!  Finished – time to get on this 40 hour train (2nd David Frum book and season 1 of Raised By Wolves on HBO Max is this leg of the trip’s content). Follow my YouTube and Instagram for more train adventures. See you in California!

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Chicago Journal Pt 1: Law Degree to the Comedy…

Well yesterday was my first day in Chicago to start a week of feature work at Zanies.  I flew a very bumpy short flight from Cleveland to Chicago and had my usual dosage of annoyance from the new brand of airline terrorist: the woman (or man) who thinks they are the sole owner of the window.  I like seeing outside but I would at least like it put to a vote of the row of seats.  Otherwise I reserve the right as the aisle seat person to refuse the window seat passenger access to snacks or the bathroom.  Anyway I arrived in Chicago and was picked up from the airport by my friend from law school who has provided me with shelter each of visits to Zanies in 2010, 2012 and now 2014.

The last time I was in Chicago she had added a cat to her apartment and that cat promptly sat on my head while I was sleeping, putting the fear of God into me.  So this time when I met the cat I have been kissing its ass and scratching it – like Anthony Cumia taking pictures with black fans I was out to show Biscuit (the cat) that not only do I NOT have problems with cats… some of my best friends are cats!

The other thing this trip is providing is a great contrast in paths taken by Georgetown Law graduates.  As I wrote on Facebook last night, many of my law school classmates, several of whom who have been exceedingly supportive by either recruiting people to shows in different cities or, in a few cases, providing me a couch or a spare bedroom (see as a lawyer you can have more than a one room apartment) to stay in when clubs do not provide lodging.   Well my friend owns her own place in the heart of downtown Chicago and it is a great loft.  Then she gave me guest passes to the East Bank Club – the greatest-to-an-absurd-level gym I have ever seen.  I am legitimately living a more luxurious lifestyle (except with a cat creeping around) than if I were staying in a great hotel (by great I mean EVEN BETTER than my usual Hampton Inn when I am feeling like a baller).  The point is the best thing I can say about law school is that it puts you in contact with people who will be successful and might help you on your difficult path to mediocrity. #Blessed

The show last night went very well at Zanies.  Here are my three favorite interactions that will help you see how I did:’

3) “Are you always the middle at clubs? (Yes) You should be a headliner.”

2) “Did you perform at Vanderbilt with lawyers?” (YES!) “That was a lot more tame than your act here” (well did you still enjoy it?) “To be honest I am very much against porn (I did a bit on the absurd fact that porn is still labeled interracial in 2014) but you did get lots of laughs.”

1) “My boyfriend died this week and I lost my job and you made me really laugh tonight and I am going to tell people about you.” (So you’re single?)

This will probably be the last blog of the week, but be sure to check out www.YouTube.com/JLCauvin for my review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Friday.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free! THIS WEEK’S EPISODE WAS A MASTERPIECE

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Chicago Trip – Part 2

Well after an odd start to the week, Thursday and Friday turned out to be fantastic comedy nights in Chicago.  Let’s start with Thursday night:

Thursday – Great Set, Awkward Sexual Encounters

Thursday was the first show I would give myself an A or an A+.  I felt great, consistent energy throughout the set and great crowd response.  Then the awkward after-show activities began.

As people were leaving the club I stood by the exit handing out my cards.  I try generally not to be too intrusive – sort of a mild encouragement to take one, rather than an automatic hand-off to everyone so that I guarantee at least the people who take one had some affirmative desire to get my contact info.  And sometimes comedy show attendees want to take a picture with you – perhaps it’s my borderline circus height in some cases, other times it might be because they want to remember a comedian they liked or some just want masturbation material.  Well, the only person who asked for a photo after Thursday’s show fell into this third category.  And yes, it was a dude.

During my set, a gentleman raised his hand during my set and attempted to ask a question.  It was rather bizarre since stand up comedy is not usually a Q & A, unless you are some douchey college comedian who tries to “engage the audience with post show discussion on social issues” so that you seem like more than a third-tier college grad who tells base fart and race jokes under the guise of relating to young people.  The guy seemed nice enough so I did not mock him too much for his raising his hand. (by the way I am in the process of trying to do exactly what I just criticized two sentences ago with a couple of racially ambiguous comedians – what a fu*king sell out!)

Well after the show this man, although slightly drunker at this point, came up to me and told me how great I was and asked for a picture.  Now at this point, based on his slight handshake, effeminate facial expressions and erection poking from his khakis I was able to surmise he was gay.  But since I don’t discriminate when it comes to people who like my comedy I said sure.  Well, as his partner tried to take the photo there were some malfunctions which allowed my new fan to keep his arm around me for what would be an uncomfortable amount of time had he been a large breasted women, let alone a dude.   But I had reached a point of no return.  I just had to bear a creepy hand on the small of my back for about 15 seconds or 45 minutes in creepchill factor.

The dude did not look this flamboyant, but he was in spirit.

The photo has not been tagged on any Facebook pages yet, but if anyone sees my face in any gay porn photos they are photoshopped.  I am not homophobic, but I am homophotophobic.   An ex of mine once said to me that she thought every straight man should have to hang out in a gay bar so they can experience what women go through with men (because every man apparently wants to alter the sexuality of a woman with an act she finds contrary to her very being? just more dumb woman logic from someone who thought herself smart).  Of course this is the same woman who defended her having had HPV by saying that “all women get it” (official stats – 25% of women contract it, which is only slightly above “all whores get it”).  Needless to say I disagree and won’t be hanging out in any gay bars unless they start buying my CDs.

After the show I went to a local bar with the headliner Jimmy Shubert.  At the bar we were greeted by some fans from the show.  Lets just summarize that part of the evening by saying women take rejection a lot worse than men.  I have a girlfriend and have no intention of coming back to NYC with anything, but a bunch of unsold CDs and 5 more pounds of fast food body weight.  A man has no problem with rejection because, like a sexual terrorist, we only need to be right once.  If a guy hits on 100 women in one night and one of those women agrees to have sexual relations the guy calls the night a huge success.  For a woman, the name of the game is national defense.  Reject everything until she decides that someone is worthy of a vaginal green card.  But if a woman tries to throw herself at a dude and he is not interested for any number of reasons, she is almost invariably a rude nightmare for the rest of the time that you are in the same room.  In this day and age of sexual equality (which is a myth – it’s just women wanting more money at work, less pressure to have kids (which is sometimes a sour grapes reaction to men getting to have more pre-martial sex than earlier generations) and still wanting the man to provide and pick up the tab like it’s still the 1950s) women need to start getting better at handling rejection. 

Friday – 2 Great Shows and a Card in the Snow

Friday’s shows were awesome.  Same as Thursday, but even more people in attendance than on Thursday made these shows even more electric (please gay dude from Thursday’s show, if you are on this blog, do not read anything into me using the word electric in my description.  The Rock referred to himself as electrifying and if a buff dude running around in tights on a stage isn’t the model for heterosexuality than I don’t know what is).  Then some fun things after the second show

I have a bit about Big and Tall Stores –

Well, a “rather robust woman,” to quote Shallow Hal,  came up to me with a look that was either “I think he’s funny” or “I fu*king hate him” and said “Just to let you know I give great head to my black boyfriend.”  Only in comedy or pornography could you have done your job well and hear something like this afterwards.

Leaving the club I observed one of my cards on the ground in the snow.  Maybe that woman came back from “Chicago Trip Part 1” came back for revenge.  So no matter how well a night goes in comedy, there is almost always a chance for something to ruin it.  Last night it was seeing my picture on the snowy ground of Chicago.

The streets of Chicago can be a cold place for a courtesy card.

 3 big shows tonight at Zanies – 7, 9, 11 pm

My final Chicago write up will be Monday when I return to NYC.

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Chicago Trip – Part 1

On Tuesday I departed JFK on Jet Blue for a 6 day stint in Chicago.  The trip got off to an inauspicious start when the pilot came out to address the passengers in person before the flight.  Here is basically what he said:

(grim face) Hey everyone – we’re getting set to take off soon and I need to let you know that it is going to be pretty bumpy up there, not just taking off, but basically the whole way to Chicago.  We are passing through a pretty bad storm and the weather in Chicago sucks ass and to the tall fu*k in seat 4B who decided that he would leave his parka at home and just bring a thin jacket because it looked less bulky and would be more comfortable – you are an idiot and you should listen to your mother.”

Remain calm, everything on the flight is perfectly normal.

And the pilot was not lying – the flight was moderate to heavy turbulence for about 100 of the 130 minutes of the flight.  As someone who pees a fraction of an ounce every time a plane hits a bump it was a tough flight, but about halfway through I think my system just overcame my brain and said, “you cannot physically sustain this much pussy-ness for the whole two hours so just relax and read your Adam Carolla book (great read by the way – “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks”).

So I arrived in Chicago with just over 10 hours to spare so I wandered the city, looking like either a terrorist or a homeless person, but I scared no one as much as I did the parents at the 420 pm show of Tangled at the AMC Theater off of Michigan Avenue.

I am a movie buff, some might say I have a “problem,” but those people suck.  I also really enjoy animated movies.  Some might call me “immature” but those people suck.  But it dawned on me that I am not just a “sir” or a “man” or a “sexual deviant” to small children, but to the entire world now.  I may look slightly young for 31 (I can pull of 26 to some drunk girls), but I certainly don’t look 19.  And the worried looks from the parents who saw a guy the size of an NFL defensive end plop down in front of them wearing 3-D glasses to see a princess with long hair sing about how her life sucks may have been justified.  In any case, great movie and for the record – I was masturbating to the hot, evil step mom in Tangled, not to any of the theater patrons.

Sir, this is a children's movie and maybe... what are you doing in that trench coat?!

So after catching pneumonia during the day in Chicago it was finally time for shows.  Here’s my review of my performances and the Chicago crowds Tuesday and Wednesday nights:

TUESDAY

Packed house.  My first joke – a bit about big and tall stores started strongly, but faded quickly.  My entire set was a masterwork in getting an audience to laugh and then giving them an opportunity to show what great people they think they are as the “awwwwwww”‘d several of my jokes.  I believe a decent amount of the awwwww’s came from women under the age of 27, who anyone knows, are the worst people on Earth.   So they let me know that they did not approve of my humor every other joke.  I would give myself a B, but the crowd a C-.  But weirdly enough, after the show I was getting a lot of enthusiastic praise from most of the people there.  Weird.  Lots of people took my cards, none were found on the ground outside and one guy even tweeted that people should go see me. 

Sidenote – I did not “retweet” this tweet, because I believe people who retweet compliments so their followers can see that someone complimented them are narcissistic, even for Twitter, and should be hit in the face with a shovel repeatedly.  Seriously.

WEDNESDAY

Smaller crowd, twice the laughter from Tuesday.  This crowd was the opposite of Tuesday – show was amazing and I give myself an A and the crowd an A- (a little chatter from… you guessed it – a table of chicks under 27, stopped them from getting the 4.0).  The set went well, I could not even do all the jokes I wanted because there was more laughter than anticipated.  Great feeling.  And then after the show it all went to sh*t.

Some people were complimenting me – felt good, but then three things occurred that just left me feeling weird and wishing I had gone to teach high school right after college:

  1. Several people asking me “how tall are you?” after a show.  I don’t mind the callback to my joke – it is a nice compliment that you liked or at least re-called one of my jokes.  So thank you.  But please don’t give me a look like you want me to laugh super hard at a joke I wrote and have told 500 times.
  2. A woman shook my hand and said, “You were hysterical” so I handed her one of my cards with all my on-line content links on it (they are really nice – shout out to Steve Axworthy of Worthy Concepts Inc.) and she took it, walked two steps and then walked back and said, “To be perfectly honest, I will probably just throw this on the ground outside.”   Perfectly honest would be, “Im going to throw this out so don’t waste it.”  Being perfectly cu*ty is saying you will throw it on the ground.  Even in hypothetical situations you can’t have manners or decency – you both disrespect me and litter in your imagination?
  3. Last group of people leaving the show were a group of women in their mid 40s to mid 50s.  The first 5 said, good job, really funny, etc.  Then the last one walks up to me and says nothing about the show.  She asks, “have you been tested for (name of disease I cannot remember)?”  You have long legs and long arms and are very big and it affects men, like that basketball player who died (not sure who she meant)?  You should really be tested for it.”  And then she left, without comment on the show.

So I finally ended a show with the will to live restored only to have some lady from Chicago tell me I’m going to die anyway.

Oh did you like my show? Oh you just wanted to tell me I'm a freak with a good chance of dying young? Thanks.

Shows and adventures continue tonight at 930pm at Zanies.