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Road Comedy Recap: Virginia is for Hecklers

This weekend I made my way down to Washington, DC for a pair of shows as I prepare for the re-taping of the special whose name we dare not speak.  The trip began with an Uber ride worthy of the Fast and Furious Franchise and ended with a woman yelling at me that she had been abused by a priest.  Let’s just get into the recap!  Also the recap of my Buffalo road trip is part of a bonus episode of my podcast now available on my very robust and very cheap Patreon. Link available on my website menu above.

I don’t have friends. I got Uber

I have not used Uber in many years. I deleted it off of my phone and have used Lyft when I need a ride app because I believe choosing the company with fewer scandals and sexually assaults is responsible and engaged citizenship. But when I am about to miss my last chance to get to DC on time on a Friday, my sympathy for Me Too becomes AFTER ME!  The wait for Lyft on Friday afternoon was “limited availability.” which struck me as odd so I asked my girlfriend if she still had Uber on her phone. She did because our relationship is a lie!  “I THOUGHT WE AGREED TO DELETE UBER!  But while you still have it can you check if a car can get me?”  The wait said 15 minutes, which would get me to Newark Penn Station at 3:08 for a 3:13 train.  Close call, but I had no option. And then I waited about 23 minutes. So right there it seemed my window had all but closed. When I got in the car, the school crossing guard stopped us before we could go through the light. I slapped my (non-surgically repaired) knee and said “FU*K!”  My driver remained calm and non-judgmental and said “you are in a hurry?  I will do my best to get you there quickly.”

What proceeded was one of the two greatest cab performances I have ever been part of.  The first was the guy many years ago who got me from LaGuardia airport to midtown Manhattan in record time and for the cheapest price I’d ever had by using a series of side streets. It was Harry Potter level shit.  The other one was this driver who employed barely legal and perhaps extra-legal methods to get me to Newark Penn with six minutes to spare. It was like a Fast and Furious reboot where Dom is behind the wheel and The Rock is anxious and hasn’t been to the gym in a while sitting in the backseat.  And Vin Uber managed to never really be reckless. The ride was $20 but I gave him $40 in cash as a tip and told him his heroism that day would be immortalized in a comedian’s blog.

Night 1: Washington, DC

On my Acela train to DC (I call the Friday afternoon Acela to DC the adultery express, simply because it seems to feature a high number of attractive women and old men) I sat next to a woman who sort of looked like an older, but healthier Lindsey Lohan. When I got to Union Station I ate a Chopt Salad and mapped out my set for the 8pm show at Baby Wale (no affiliation with the the DC rapper, though I assured the crowd that there would be a cease and desist order arriving any day). Several die hard fans showed up, as well as middle aged women who I believe left very disappointed that I did very few impressions and lots of jokes that were not super nice.

Amtrak Pet Peeve – people not closing the overhead compartments – it is rude, lazy and a health hazard to travelers of height (tall is no longer acceptable nomenclature as it makes us sound like Starbucks beverages)

After the show, show booker and comedian Jon Yeager drove me to Springfield, VA where he had booked me a Motel 6.  During my stay I thought there might have been a tear drop tattoo convention being held in one of their presidential suites, but it turns out it is just sort of a motel for ruffians.  As I told the crowd on Saturday, they didn’t leave the light on, but the moonlight shining off of the police caution tape did create a warm, welcoming glow. I was in Room 114 because we could not afford the upgrade to where the players dwell.  This was my second hotel in the last 6 months with bulletproof glass for the front desk, in case you are wondering if fame and fortune have had a positive effect on my career.

My Motel 6 in a 4 part collage

Night 2: Culpeper, Virginia 

The next day I read, but to make up for that un-American activity I ate breakfast at McDonald’s and lunch at Chick Fil A.  To kill the afternoon before Jon picked me up for the trek to Culpeper (one p, so I pronounced it Culpeeper to the crowd for the night) I reviewed my first special taping to make more notes for the re-taping on May 14th.  Remind me never to do that again. That set and crowd really should have been my walk-off and I was tempted on Saturday while listening to call off the second taping on principle.  But the thing about principles and comedy is that principles always lose and no one cares. So SHOW STILL ON!

The show in Culpeper was at The Sangria Bowl – a very nice Latin restaurant with a staff of nice young Latin women. it was located across the street from the Culpeper GOP headquarters so I couldn’t tell if this was some sort of advanced Get Out trap to lure me in with tostones and attractive Latinas while the sundown committee across the street plotted my demise, but I stayed anyway.

The show went well. A remarkably diverse crowd for a town that the census lists as 109% white.   I worked through material and issues and was ready to close with my bit on Holy Water when a woman yelled.  Now the first time she yelled was to tell me she did not believe I was half Black.  But I eventually won her over.  The next time she yelled was 3 lines into my Holy Water bit to say “I WAS MOLESTED BY A PRIEST!”  Now, there are many ways to deal with a heckle or an interruption, but that is a tough one. Perhaps if I was some edge lord douche I would have said “well he had terrible taste” or “well at least it was not a boy” but sometimes battles are not worth fighting, so I just said “Obviously I am very sorry to hear that.  Well, let’s move on to my bit about how my Mom beat breast Cancer” (which is what I did – comedy life hack – a great time to work on material that is often somewhat uncomfortable  is when an audience member has screamed about being a victim of child sexual abuse – the crowd is then way more amenable to Cancer material than they might have previously been.”

After the show Jon and I chatted with some new fans (at least one of whom said they would read this blog – THIS IS A FAN TEST) and then drove back to the Motel 6, which had actually been downgraded to a Motel 4 during the day. We stopped at a Wendy’s where I treated myself to a medium chocolate frosty and then slept for 5 hours before waking up to go to Church, during which a priest yelled at me “I WAS MOLESTED AT A COMEDY SHOW!”  Now I wait for the Acela back home to New Jersey.  Have a great week folks (join the Patreon!)

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Are Comedians the Most Insecure of All Contest Show…

Last Comic Standing is back after a 4 year break and it only took about ninety minutes of airtime before shock waves rippled through the comedy community.  Ben Kronberg, a comedian I know and like personally and as a comedian (he is “alternative” if I were to categorize him, but he has the calves of a top tier athlete – at least the last time I saw them in Summer 2013 – so I think that always made me less prick-ish about his alternative stylings).  Well the first episode of LCS was going smoothly until Ben got on stage and began his set with, depending on your perspective, a tired-stock joke or a somewhat modified industry standard (Ben fiddled around on stage, getting himself settled while not addressing the audience and then after about twenty seconds looked at the crowd and said (paraphrasing) “Oh like you start right away at your job.”  The set was then edited and there was a seemingly heated exchange between judge Roseanne Barr leading to Roseanne saying “Go fu*k yourself” to Ben.  This led to a viral hashtag on the Internet and the rest is history, depending on how important you feel stand up comedy is.

Now I interviewed Ben a couple of days ago on my podcast as part of my running commentary/analysis of the show this Summer. He was gracious and I tried to ask some serious and some funny questions about his experience with LCS this year (you can listen to the podcast episode here).  However, I was disappointed in myself for failing to ask Ben’s opinion on one other thing regarding this incident: do you think, despite being a beneficiary of some nice community vibes, that other comedians took Roseanne’s words too personally or defensively?

The response directed at the incident and some of the vitriol aimed at Roseanne would have seemed acceptable if this was just a show at a comedy club, but it is reality television.  From America’s Got Talent to American Idol (not to mention the glee our society, and many in the comedy world, take in watching the train wrecks that occupy the non-contest reality shows) it is clear that these shows are partly about talent promotion and all about ratings.  Simon Cowell is a mega rich television personality, in part, because he tore people new assholes on live television.

Now I know comedians are mostly sensitive types (despite whatever confidence or swagger they display on stage) who only manage to speak up with hashtags or when Carlos Mencia steals a joke.  But for people who get on stage and try to entertain strangers, the defensive posture to rally around one of their own seems a bit weak.  I mean, what do people expect from reality television?  Ben, in our chat seemed to know that anything was fair game and was disappointed how it was portrayed, but not startled and certainly not of the “Never Forget” mindset that some of the comments on social media would seem to indicate.   Maybe other reality show contestants are just as sensitive to their fellow artists, but I am not friends with many emo musicians “just trying to share their gift with the world,” though every time I see an Upworthy article in my Facebook news feed I feel like I am that much closer to being immersed in a world of annoying sensitivity training supervisors.

My only real thought on this is comedians – you cannot have it both ways. You cannot be the tough guys (and gals) of the First Amendment – getting a pass for everything you say about anyone or anything, but then, when someone gets sh*t on on a reality show (as rigged, as GOTCHA and as edited an entertainment format as there is) start calling out how uncouth it was. WELL I NEVER!

So good luck to Ben, who seems to be getting some nice traction from the hashtag (Can we get a #YesAllWomenTellBenToGoFu*kHimself tag going?) and will be more than fine (as he said in our talk – it may not do as much for him as being a finalist, but he already is being talked about a lot more than any of the other people eliminated), but to the portion of the comedy world who found Roseanne beyond the pale and jumped to Ben’s defense – lighten up. If comedians cannot accept the harshness of entertainment and television gimmicks, why should regular folks be so open to your next edgy joke about (insert edgy thing).

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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Insanely Optimistic or Just Insane? A Day in the…

Every year there is some new way for people to help identify with people who are suffering and/or raise awareness (ugggh) for some plight.  Over the last couple of years I remember reading about people intentionally living on a dollar a day budget for food, New Jersey Senator-Elect Cory Booker eating on a food stamp budget and Kim Kardashian marrying a guy for three months who was only making $10 million a year before she got out of the financial dumpster and started dating Kanye West.  In other words people in the western world are always finding ways to identify with those less fortunate than themselves.  Well, this week a friend of mine inadvertently had a very profound experience identifying with the frustrations of a talented, but largely unrecognized comedian… me.

On Monday I launched my video of the month. It was a parody of the Bill de Blasio ad for NYC Mayor that completely shifted the Democratic primary race.  It is not a national ad, but it was omnipresent in NYC and brought de Blasio from 4th in the Democratic field to the overwhelming winner of the Democratic primary.  So I made a parody of it. If you missed it here it is (it is only 50 seconds):

I never expected the video to go viral, though with a few weeks until the NYC Mayoral election I do expect views to sort of trickle in. I also figured it would give me a head start on an impression of a soon-to-be national figure.  And the video is a really well shot parody if I do say so myself (kudos to video maker Dana).  But years of producing content has calloused my soul, despite my constant protestations on this site, to disappointing results when it comes to comedy.  However, my good friend, who for years has been a political junkie, as well as sometimes political volunteer, was convinced that the video would be a hit.  And he even went beyond his usually passive support for my comedic endeavors to look up over 50 Twitter handles for political operatives and reporters within the New York City area for me to send the video to.  At the end of the first day, the video was around 300 views and the text I received from my friend said it all:

“I can’t believe it hasn’t blown up.  Now I sort of understand your frustrations.”

I will put this statement into the same bin of exaggerated and misplaced sympathy as “I know losing someone is tough, my dog died last year,” but it was still nice to have a friend experience a little bit of the personal disappointment first hand.  Of course if my friend took his feelings of one day and then multiplied it by about 1600 then he would have a full appreciation of being a creator of solid, but largely unrecognized content for the last 5 years.  But there is the point.  People who read this blog and listen to my podcast generally think I am a miserable pessimist (you come for the negativity, but stay for the truth-telling and gallows’ humor).  But the fact remains to persevere in comedy, especially in its modern format, one requires a core that is either wildly optimistic or sadomasochistic and delusional.  People like to say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  So I am either at my core an optimist or insane.

I guess I would advise people to do like my friend and imagine yourself in the shoes of a hustling comedian.  You will either appreciate the work and see the optimism it takes to carry on or.. you can go insane with us.  Either way it makes comedians look better.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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Top 13 Righteous Prick Blogs of 2012

As has been customary for the last few years I have made my (unpaid) bread and butter writing about the comedy business, my own career and the occasioanl rant about something else in our culture.  So for those of you that have not kept up or would like a convenient link to send to people to turn them on to the blog I present my Top 13 (I refuse to do a Top 10 because they are too popular) Blogs of 2012.  Also, if so inclined to show me support either become a fan of the Facebook Page and/or “like” my Huffington Post page where some of these appear. Thanks and enjoy:

1. The Death of Stand Up Comedy – My typical cheery, well-reasoned about the demise of stand up comedy.  I believe this was the most “liked” post on my website this year.

2. 10 Things in Stand Up Comedy that Should Be Retired – Let’s put it this way, Chris Rock shared it on his facebook page and Ralphie May argued against it. Not sure I need any more endorsements.

3. Adam Carolla’s Eddie Brill Moment – My defense (well-reasoned to those not highly emotional while reading) about why what Carolla said was a) not as bad as people thought and b) not what people claimed he said.

4. The Elephant in the Room at the Comedy Awards – During another coronation of Louis CK I make the case for the late, great Patrice O’Neal.

5. Dane Cook and Comedy’s New Politically Correct Police – My first beef with a celebrity began here with TJ Miller replying (quite respectfully to his credit) to my commentary about Dane Cook’s new vulgar voice on stage.

6. How to Get Along with a Struggling Comedian – Very popular on the Huffington Post with comedians and called “bitter and mean” by commenters who know nothing about comedy or comedians.

7. I Did Not Know That Memes Were The Future of Comedy – Suck it George Takei! (metaphorically)

8. Comedian Speaks at South Bronx High School Career Fair Despite Lacking a Career – I often write about road work, but this was a nice change of pace as I recapped speaking at a career day about my legal and comedy “careers.”

9. The Social Media Guide to Watching Breaking Bad – What year would be complete without some Walter White work?  Only read this one if you made it through Season 4 of BB.

10. Jeff Dunham Announces New Puppets for 2012 – My press release for one of comedy’s genius level talents.

11. To the Defense of “Girls” – It’s Not Its Fault – Premature hysteria over 4 white girls starring in a show demanded a response and even though many disagreed with me, they were mostly not right.  Like the Carolla blog – this was a thoroughly anaylitical breakdown of the show and only those with an emtoional stake in the show would see me as wrong.

12. Why I Am Rooting For Lebron James – Praise for the King and shame on the NY Knick fan base.

13. The Future of Comedy – A sarcastic look forward at the comedy and stand up comedy worlds.

So please share this whole post or individual posts you like and thanks for reading in 2012 and hopefully in 2013.

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What About Bob? An Invitation to “Bob Hellener”

I was going to write on a different topic today, but thanks to Comedy Blog Terrorist – “Bob Hellener,” there has been a change of plans. 

For the past several weeks “Bob Hellener,” who claims to actually be named Bob Hellener, has been making comments on my comedy-business related posts.  Now I originally approved “Bob’s” posts because they seemed somewhat on the topic I was writing about (how feature work is dying as a way to make a living in comedy, which will inevitably change the landscape of live stand up comedy – or as comedian Josh Homer commented “the changing of the business of comedy will have a negative impact on the art of comedy.”  But along the way “Bob” began a middle school girl-style attack on me.  Normally I would have stopped the comments once they got mean spirited, but there was something so profoundly stupid and deranged about “Bob” – it became like reading a blog-equivalent of a horrific car accident every time he put fingers to keyboard.

One  of “his” bi-polar highlights wassuggesting that comedy may be going well for me if Patrice O’Neal requestedme as an opening act and then several comments later calling me an unfunny failure (hmmm Patrice O’Neal or “Bob Hellener.” who do I trust more when giving opinions on my comedy?). 

Then there was the Single White Female-esque analysis of my website photos (I believe “Bob” referred to me as “fit, buff and trim” in my website photos).  “He” was claiming that I was deceiving the public with my photos (and perhaps personally violating the trust “Bob” felt with me in “his” stalker mind) even though the photo section is literally a progression of me putting on weight (my photos fromAtlanta have me at my current CC Sabathia-esque frame).  But there is no reasoning with someone who clearly hate-masturbates to your photos and YouTube clips.

“Bob” consistently misconstrued simple points I was making because there was clearly some personal motive at stake.  But I assume after a stream of 80 comments on a blog it was over.  But low and behold, “Bob” made a comeback appearance on a more recent blog post:

https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2387

As you can see I was called a failure with limited job prospects inside and out of comedy.  So, to be fair to “Bob”, before I permanently spam “his” comments I wanted to offer an opportunity to “Bob” to clear the air and perhaps offer me some pointers on comedy and even show me how a real comedian is supposed to perform.  So I am inviting “Bob” to Smith’s Tavern on Monday, May 16th for the show I co-produce with Jessie Geller.  It is a low pressure environment, very laid back, in case “Bob” wants to work out some new material – I mean we cannot expect “Bob Hellener” to always do the “Bob Hellener classics,” right?  But it would be great to meet the heretofore unknown and unseen “Bob Hellener” and to learn from a true master of the art form.  Working with some profilers, we were able to come up with the following pictures of what “Bob” probably looks like, depending on gender.

If a man:

"Bob Hellener's" possible male profile

 

And if a woman:

"Bob Hellener" - possible female profile

 

This Monday, May 16th at 830 pm at Smith’s Tavern 440 5th Avenue Brooklyn, NY.  The show is free, but given “Bob’s” “gainful employment” I am sure a cover would have made no difference.  So hopefully “Bob” can show up or I will know that “he” is a fake person and will just treat his comments as I should have originally.  As spam.  OH NO I DIIIIIIIIIIIN”T!!!