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Road Comedy Recap: Heavy Lyfting in Princeton

This weekend I had a pair of gigs in Princeton, NJ at Catch A Rising Star.  It was my first time back to the club in what feels like 10 years (it did not go well when I featured there a decade ago) and fortunately, thanks to a killer Saturday show, I left with my head held high.  But until then it seemed like a potential disaster.  So with that thrilling and misleading intro, let’s break down the most recent road trip!

Friday: Lyft Tears Me Down

On Friday I woke up early to get some legal work done (Spike Lee’s documentary about me, J-L Doin’ Work, was scrapped because reviewing documents by the Beige Mamba was deemed “not as interesting” as his Kobe documentary), hit the gym and then made my way to Newark Penn Station for the 6:03pm express train to Princeton, NJ.  I would have taken the train to NPS and saved myself money, but NJ transit is shaped like a V in my area, with Secaucus as the pivot point of the V.  You need to go all the way to Secaucus to get a train that goes along the other part of the V. So you end up going past Newark to get back on a different train line that runs through Newark.  So to do that by train I would have had to leave at 430pm, whereas a 530pm cab would allow me to catch a better and faster train out of Newark Penn (which for TV enthusiasts is what The Walking Dead is based on).

So when I ordered my Lyft at 5:20 I was offered a faster ride (to arrive 8 minutes before the 6:03 train) if I upgraded to Lux (these are Lyft cars sans food/beverage/jizz stains) for a couple of dollars more.  Then I got a text from my Lux driver:

“Are you going to [sic] far?”

I did not reply because I was going exactly as far as I wanted. Not one step more.  So when my driverette (a female driver) showed up I hopped in and she asked where I was going. I told her Newark Penn Station and she said she wanted to go to NYC.  I thought, “You can, as soon as you drop me off.”  For the rest of the ride she kept nervously checking her phone, while hitting every bad patch of traffic.  Then as we got near Newark Penn at 5:59pm she opted to go through the most clogged traffic near the station and I missed the 6:03 by 1 minute.  She also rejected a person who was clearly her pick up at Newark Penn.  To top it all off, she dropped me off in the 3rd lane of traffic so she could make an easy escape to whatever awaited her in NYC.  When I opted to not tip her I noticed that she had 5 stars.  Not since the last Terrence Malik film I saw have I seen something so absurdly overrated.

I caught the next express to Princeton and arrived at Princeton Junction at 7:00pm (8pm show time).  The club is located in the Princeton Hyatt and GPS said it was a 1.3 mile walk. I opted to walk. And then .4 miles into the walk the sidewalk disappeared.  This happens far too much in our car obsessed, fat fu*k society – even if you want to walk and keep the Grim Reaper at bay for another 20 minutes, you can’t.  So I ordered another Lyft to take me less than a mile because to walk this path in the dark would probably spell my death via oncoming traffic.  When my Lyft driver arrived he farted when I got in the car. And it smelled.  His rating on Lyft? 5 stars.

I arrived at the hotel, checked in to a lovely king suite and then headed down to the club where there was an audience that could be described as “small.”  We had a good show (I posted to Twitter a sad engagement where no one got my Opus Dei reference) and oddly enough the crowd seemed to like me more the longer I was on stage, which is contrary to many audiences and most relationships I’ve been in. A highlight was seeing a friend from my days in Washington DC when I was a law student. Sadly I have only seen him around once a decade and a joke that hit well on stage was “a friend of mine from DC who saw me when my career started is here tonight. He knew me when I was only performing in front of a couple dozen people in DC. Now, 19 years later he sees me in a different city performing for a couple dozen people. Dreams come true!”  I retreated to my room with an ice cream bar after the show and got a solid 6 hours sleep.

Saturday: Better Show. Better Lyft Ride. Papa Johns’.

On Saturday morning I went to get breakfast. I saw a buffet display and was then told that it was for a private party.  I then made my way down to the restaurant for an delicious, overpriced hotel breakfast (this is why I prefer Hampton Inns, the official hotel chain of J-L’s comedy “career” – breakfast is always included). After that I did something I never get to do – I read all the magazines and papers I subscribe to – The Athletic, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NY Times and Michael Cohen’s substack.  I even spent 3 hours reading 1/8 of a ProPublica article!  Then it was time to have lunch with a long time fan who also had a business proposal to pitch me (TBD). We went to a great pizza place in Robbinsville, NJ called Papa’s Tomato Pie.  Superb.

After I returned to the hotel I did a few hours of writing. I then had a steak dinner at the hotel restaurant (at this point my spending for the trip was approaching the pay check I would receive at the end of the night for the weekend work).  The set was strong (with about 40 new minutes since the (2) special tapings (angry emoji) to the point that I am planning on a spring taping of my 8th hour – tentative title “The Hateful 8th” – SELF PRODUCED) and as proof here is a clip from the show as well as a Facebook posting about one superb fan, that of course seemed to be interpreted by many on Facebook as more sentimental than funny, as it was intended, because… my #fans.

So after the show I had a drink with the other comics and the show promoter. I then decided to head home that night, rather than sleep in the hotel again (even though it was really nice). I kept checking Lyft (prices ranged from $66 to $121) and then I saw on the wait and save option $54 to go from Princeton to my apartment in Bloomfield. SOLD!  My driver picked me up in a nice car (could have been a clean/jizz free Lux car, but was obtained via the common folk option) and beat the estimated arrival time by 14 minutes, all while laughing with me when I told him about Friday’s two awful drivers.  I gave him a deserved 5 stars and a $20 cash tip because at the end of a weekend like this, someone good at their job should turn a profit.

Thanks to CARS in Princeton and thanks to everyone who showed up.  Off to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 12 days.

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Road Comedy Recap: Ann Arbor Day(s)

This weekend I was making my headlining debut at Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, a terrific club in Columbus, Ohio (that’s some Big Ten football rivalry humor).  There were two shows Friday and two shows Saturday. The crowds were great, the headliner was greater and the travel atrocious.  If you are familiar with my travel stories over the last decade since I started doing road work regularly, you know that Amtrak and despair are my most frequent travel companions. This trip would be the apex of that travel history.  Before breaking down the weekend here’s the math: I spent 38 hours in Ann Arbor, Michigan and 43.5 hours in Amtrak facilities.  To paraphrase Jamie Lannister, “The things I do for self-destruction.”  OK – here goes the recap!

Thursday-Friday: Amtrak to Ann Arbor

Hello Darkness my old friend! – it was another trip on the infamous Lake Shore Limited – the Amtrak train that goes from NYC to Chicago by way of Australia.  The trip to Toledo (the stop where you get off to get the Amtrak bus to all parts Michigan) is supposed to last 15 hours, ending with a 6am “de-training.” Well, we got stuck in Albany, NY (2.5 hours into the trip on time) for 3 hours. So in the time I was stuck in Albany I could have gotten off the train, gone to Albany airport and flown to Detroit before the train left Albany. So we ended up getting to Toledo at 10am.  But, despite the fact that the Amtrak bus ORIGINATES in Toledo, apparently our 4 hour lateness was not quite enough time for the bus THAT ORIGINATES in Toledo to make it to the station on time.  It ended up getting there at 10:30 and I was in Ann Arbor at 12:20.  I ordered a Lyft and the driver told me that her cousin was Karlous Miller (a finalist on a season of Last Comic Standing). I did not think it was a good sign for the weekend that Lyft drivers in Ann Arbor were able to one-up my career, but so be it.

Since I had managed 3 hours of sleep on the train to Toledo I was full of energy to explore Ann Arbor once I had checked into my hotel. So I walked towards a movie theater to see John Wick 3 (worst of the three Wicks, sorry Keanu) hoping to see some stores or eateries to write in and assess the Tator Thots in the rust belt.  But all I walked by for 2 miles were car dealerships.  Seriously.  But then I found a nice little coffee shop near the movie theater and sat mapping out soon-to-be legendary sets.  After a late lunch of popcorn, M&Ms and Wick I headed back to the hotel to shower off the Amtrak Funk for the shows.

Being a comedian in America often means walking along the side of highways. This one made me more nervous than normal

The crowds on Friday were not too large, but they were outstanding. I then retired to my hotel to get a very important night of sleep (#Foreshadowing).

Saturday – Models, Abortion Stones and BBQ

I woke up Saturday to a solid complimentary hotel breakfast (Danish, Belgian Waffle, youth sports teams not saying thank you when you show them courtesy at the buffet) and then did my review of the sets from the night before, which conclusively showed that I am great, but could be greater (as Saturday’s game day adjustments would bear out).

Knowing I would be on a train all Sunday I went to Mass on Saturday evening (#PrayerWarrior). I got a Lyft and my driver was a former model (she moved to NYC as a teen and was a model for many years – I believe her is all I’ll say) who moved back to Michigan to have kids and start a life coaching business (that was my confirmation that she definitely had been a model). So I was 2 for 2 in Lyft drivers being able to one up me in success in the art/fame pursuits.  Mass was Mass, though from the below picture you can see that these Midwest Churches are not playing second fiddle to the South:

On the back side it says “Except Ohio State”

I then ate some delicious food at a local BBQ spot (warning – I am not a food d-bag so if you are some guy who bathes in his own dry rub and wins contests in Texas for best bbq while carrying an AR-15 then you may not judge the food as I did, but I loved it)

Delicious!

Saturday-Sunday-Monday: White Sharon, Black Sharon and the Tornado

The shows Saturday night were awesome. Bigger crowds and even some fans from my appearances on Sirius XM and The Black Guy Who Tips.  Sold a lot of albums and then went back to my hotel. My train back to NYC was to depart Toledo at 3:15am, but I decided to not risk a lack of availability of cars later in the night so I called (app’d? Summoned?) a Lyft to take me the 70 miles to the Toledo station. A White Lady named Sharon accepted and then abandoned me 7 minutes later (#AbandonmentAmy), which is when a Black Queen named Sharon (am I doing this right Black Twitter?) accepted. She got me to Toledo 7 minutes faster than the estimate and I gave her a strong gratuity (#ComedyMogul is back!).  So at 2am I stepped into the Toledo Amtrak Station.  Before continuing to the horror portion of the story here are two new bits/clips from Saturday’s shows:

The station was fairly crowded. As I would learn it was because every train out of Chicago was extremely late. So I sat next to a young woman with blue hair, two tongue studs and a batman t-shirt (ummm are we soul mates or are you just here to star in my Make-A-Wish porn film The Beige Knight?).  And that was when the alerts started coming. My train would not arrive until 4:30am (a 90 minute delay). Shit.  Then another alert. And another. And another.  My train eventually arrived at 7:30am. I got into my room (rooms were cheap from Toledo so I got a sleeper car using points, figuring I would be getting on the train before daylight), which was prepared very nicely for slumber  by yet another Black Queen (#TrustBlackWomen) who also got a nice gratuity from me (the world will be a better place if I ever become rich and famous). I managed to sleep for 3 hours and that is when the real adventure began.

We were 4.5 hours late in Toledo and kept losing time city after city. Then we arrived in Rochester. Delay because a man was threatening to jump on the train tracks. Then we got to Syracuse. Delayed due to freight train traffic (America – where freight always gets priority over people, which is the main cause of many delays on our country’s rails). Also delayed because of a tornado.  So I took photos and a video. From that video, three different weather services contacted me asking for permission to use the video with credit.  Never a good sign for your comedy career when you crush 4 shows as a headliner and your only glimpse of success is from a weather video you shoot on your phone in Syracuse.

The Syracuse Tornado!

We kept getting delayed and at 9pm I turned off my phone for the rest of the night to avoid any Game of Thrones chatter. We finally arrived in Penn Station at 12:15am, but like a horror villain popping up right before the credits to slaughter our hero, the train then had to reverse for over ten minutes to actually go to the right platform. I stepped on the platform in Penn Station at 12:30am. I took a cab home to get my dog Cookie, who peed in the kitchen, but she didn’t spoil GOT for me so I didn’t scold her.  I took her out for a walk and then watched the finale of GOT (I liked it – it wasn’t going to be another epic bloodbath folks). I then slept better than I have in a long time – 6 hours.  Thanks Ann Arbor!

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Road Comedy Recap: Eyes Wide Shut at Wayne Manor

This weekend was a unique one for road work.  In early July I featured at the Albany Funny Bone and the emcee was a local named Frank Gentile. We had a nice week and went our separate ways, but then I got a message from him on Facebook a month later asking if I wanted to do a one night gig in the Albany area.  I was going to say yes because travel to Albany is cheap from NYC, but before I could say yes, Frank informed me that the gig also paid money and I almost had to reconsider taking the gig since losing money on as many shows as possible has become integral to my brand as a comedian (“The King of All Unpaid Media” (TM)).  I decided to take the gig and then learned it was a private party (Frank actually told me that initially, but I was so distracted by the thought of making money on a show that I didn’t read all the details.

When I arrived in Albany off of a packed Amtrak train I was greeted by Frank and we made our way to Clifton Park, NY.  We stopped at Wendy’s where I ate a spicy chicken sandwich meal (just like athletes it is important for comedians to give their body the right fuel to generate the proper amount of self-loathing energy before performing).  When we got to the venue I was greeted by what I would refer to as “Wayne Manor” the rest of the evening – a huge home with a Ferrari (or Corvette or some other car that I will never be allowed to touch, let alone own in my life) in the garage, a tent for the party and a deluxe his and hers porta-potty that put most Manhattan studio apartments to shame.  And I would be remiss if I left out the fact that for a party with about 40 guests in the middle of nowhere (NYC bias), the women looked great – proving my theory that money to women is like heat to bugs.  In the middle of upstate NY in a town I have never heard of there were still several attractive women (and there with husbands and boyfriends – so very legit – not imported/rented talent like the Platinum porta potty), which shows wherever there is money – Beverly Hills, Clifton Park, Syria – there will be attractive women.  Much like in the middle of winter if there is one sunny 50 degree day all of a sudden bugs show up with no warning for that day, hot chicks and money are the same – they just show up, even in places where you might only expect morbidly obese people on scooters wheeling around the local Wal-Mart. This is not even suggesting gold digging – it is more like how a plant will lean towards sunlight – it just sort of happens sometimes.  To prove my point, when I mentioned that I was taking Greyhound back to NYC during my set, three of the women in attendance died. This was not intentional – it was just their natural response to being so close to sad economic situations.

The evening was a catered, DJ event – as I joked, the guy who had the party and owned Wayne Manor basically throws small weddings as his regular parties. In fact, since I only have audio of my performance – here are some of my favorite off the cuff remarks from my set:

  • I will keep my set short as I know you probably have to go fight crime in downtown Albany soon
  • I assume everyone has their masks for the Eyes Wide Shut sex party inside after my set?  Kids, I suggest you leave before then.
  • (During Southwest Airlines bit the host clapped) Don’t give me a pity clap sir!  We both know you do not fly Southwest.  You probably have a tunnel built in the airport for yourself to avoid the riff raff that flies Southwest
  • (while his wife stepped away) I bet your wife tries to get mouthy now that she feels comfortable in her big house – like her opinions matter (I then point to the house) Do you just look at her and say THAT’S YOUR OPINION?!
  • Your Summer party is a wedding level event to regular people.  P Diddy should be taking notes.

The rest was basically just my routine, but what a fun gig!  The audience was great and I crushed the desert trays before and after my set.  The host is basically an auto body shop mogul – a self made business success. He told me he grew up in a trailer and has been working his ass off in the industry for 22 years (the last seven in his own business) and he told me that he thought I would eventually break through in my industry.  It made me sad to inform him that seven years ago I was a six figure attorney so if anything I will be in a trailer by the end of my career, but I still appreciated his kind words and the great party he put on.   But like any gig of mine it had to end on a sour note.  Enter Greyhound.

I referred to this as "Resting Greyhound Bus Face" on Instagram

Frank gave me a ride to the Greyhound station, which by Greyhound standards was a Ritz Carlton: various vending machines with snacks people might actually want, a separate cafe and only one homeless man semi-pants-less outside the door.  I was scheduled to board the 11pm bus which was scheduled to arrive at 1:45 at Port Authority – this is what you get when you travel for $17.  To be fair Greyhound has upgraded their seats to leather so now you no longer need a black light to see the body fluid stains.  The bus was 30 minutes late, but I did get a seat to myself. However, all lights on the bus were off the whole time so I could not read (bus driver asked “Does anyone want to read?” and to no one’s surprise no one said yes so I didn’t want to be the douche with a reading light on so I just listened to my iPod and rubbed my sore knees (from the cramped seating not any Eyes Wide Shut activities at Wayne Manor).

For all of you that were unable to experience the genius that was this show (or were there and want more), I suggest you go to iTunes and get my new stand up album Israeli Tortoise which went #1 this month on iTunes (also available on Amazon and Google)

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Weekend Comedy Recap: See Something, Say Something, Laugh at…

This weekend I was in Timonium, Maryland performing at Magooby’s Comedy Club.  I had performed a couple of weekends at the club’s older space a few years ago, but had not been booked since.  But then I worked a weekend in Syracuse a couple of months ago with the brother of Magooby’s owner, killed it and got him to vouch for me to work Magooby’s (side note – this is why for the rest of the year I am putting together a “Working With Relatives of Comedy Club Owners” tour).  But like all my comedy recap stories, the comedy club is just one player in an ensemble of experiences over the course of three days.  So here it is:

On Friday I arrived in Baltimore and then proceeded another hour via light rail and bus to Cockeysville, Maryland where my hotel, The Ramada Limited, was situated.  The first thing that bothered me was that the place was listed as a hotel, but had the motel-esque feature of all rooms accessible from the street (the lobby was just its own kiosk and not an entryway for access to any of the rooms).  In addition to that was the fact that within 2 blocks of the Ramada Limited (the Limited stands for your chances of success in life if you have to stay there) there was a Chick Fil-A, a Five Guys, an IHOP and a Dunkin Donuts.  The message from Cockeysville was simple: if a drifter looking for a quick score doesn’t kick in your door and murder you, the food options will do it to you.

The first bad omen on the trip was when I checked in to the ho/motel I was sent to one room that had not been cleaned. I came back and was sent to another room. That one had not been cleaned either (I could see the dead hooker’s body through the window).  Finally I got a third room that was clean. #Blessed

I only stay in 5 star hotels, if you add up the five 1 star reviews they receive.

FRIDAY SHOWS

Friday night’s shows were interesting.  The first crowd was dead for the emcee.  Now sometimes I can see an emcee doing poorly and say either “crowd is not warm yet or the emcee sucks.”  But in this case there were some solid jokes that were not even registering with the crowd.  My set had some good laughs and plenty of almost inexplicable dead spots (like language barrier level dead spots).  Here is how I basically ended my first set:

“Well, this was fun, though it was more like a TED talk than a stand up set.”

Crowd – nothing

“Oh Christ, I did it again – you guys probably don’t know what a TED talk is!  Now my set is turning into an Inception of references you don’t get – like layers of things you have never heard of on top of each other.”

Crowd – nothing

“Oh, Inception. Sorry – this tiny movie that made like $300 million a couple of years ago.  I referenced two movies in this set – Avatar and Inception and you’d think I mentioned some obscure foreign film.” 

See a lot of politicians say things like “The American people are smarter than that…” to discredit opponent’s positions.  And many comedians focus on being likable or pandering.  To quote Danny Glover, “I’m getting too old for this sh*t.”  I understand if someone like Dennis Miller can throw people off with all his references, but if an analogy to Avatar or Inception in a joke doesn’t register (when it registers laughs 98% of the time) then yes, crowd, it is you.  So I will treat you with disdain and condescension (even more than usual).   I have never watched a TED talk, but I know what the fu*k they are!  As another example unrelated to my jokes, I have never watched Citizen Kane from start to finish, but I wouldn’t stare like a vegetable if someone made a broad reference to it.  But maybe the crowd was just tired from a long work week. Or stupid. Or both.

The second show went much better Friday and I sold a couple of CDs.  It was a hard earned split.

SATURDAY SHOWS

Saturday’s shows were both solid.  The first show was probably my favorite crowd. I celebrated with a couple of gin and tonics and a burger (important note for a later part of this story – the last thing I ate until 8pm Sunday was the burger at about 1030pm) and then Rob Maher and Joe Robinson of the Rob and Joe Show arrived at the club.  They run a very good podcast and we communicate often on social media, but it was good to hang out in person.  Of course I woke up today to see that I had fallen 10 spots on the Stitcher Comedy Podcast Rankings, which I think is directly attributable to my association with them this weekend.

3 podcasting legends in one place!

The second show was probably only the third best set of the week for me (nothing was going to be worse than the first Friday show unless someone shot me while on stage) but I felt like I ended the weekend with a 3-1 record.  However, the most eventful part of the weekend was just getting started…

SUNDAY FUN DAY!

I could not sleep well Saturday night. I was getting up at 8am anyway to begin my journey on the Maryland bus system to get to Baltimore Penn Station, but what should have been 6 hours of relatively satisfied sleep was about 2 hours of crappy sleep.  My stomach was feeling a little queasy so I decided to skip the “executive continental breakfast,” as the Ramada Limited called it, and went to the bus.

During the 80 total minutes I was on the different buses I started to get progressively more tired and queasy feeling, though travelling through several neighborhoods in Baltimore I could not help but smile thinking about The Wire because everyone had the physique and accent of Prop Joe (and half the characters on The Wire – either the white-ish Baltimore accent of saying words like “Coach” as “Cauch” or the one I heard much more common, the blacker Baltimore accent of saying words like “two” as “tseu” (I hope that is clear and if it is not, I blame you)).

By the time I reached Baltimore Penn Station I was sweating profusely and my stomach was reacting like I had just chugged a gallon of Mexican tap water.  As I result I ending up spending so much time in a Baltimore Penn Station bathroom I nearly qualified for adverse possession.  Feeling better and barely making a train I had been 50 minutes early for I sat down in my seat and started to feel a different kind of queasy coming on.  Not to mention the sweating got worse to the point that it might have been making fellow travelers uncomfortable.  I went to the snack car to have a water and a Gatorade and to get a little more space.  About 25 minutes into that I had the sudden urge to vomit. So I shuffled my way to the bathroom (by this time my back was hurting and all my muscles felt weak) and let forth a furious puke fest.  Now I was just left with back pain and a headache, but my stomach was much better.  I then went back to my seat to see someone sitting in it (to be fair it was a crowded train and I had been gone for an hour) and my backpack missing.  Turns out someone had seen a sweaty dude with thick eyebrows leave a backpack and told the conductor!  I could finally cross “be suspected of being a terrorist”  off of my bucket list.  To show how out of it I was, the conductor had walked right by me with my backpack – as it was at the table right next to where I had been semi-comatose in the cafe car.

An artist's rendering of me on Amtrak yesterday

So there it is folks – comedy, hostility, illness and terror threat – just another weekend in comedy.

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

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The Cleveland Show – 2013 Edition (plus the worst…

Dispatch from BWI.  Today I left NYC on a 3:00 am Amtrak to catch a 915 am flight from BWI to Cleveland (travel for free will make me do annoying things to myself, but I have Amtrak points to cover the train trip and I had enough points on Southwest to get to Cleveland for free round trip from BWI, but not from NYC.  But it is not all bad news.  Thanks to some good luck I will be staying in a nice hotel instead of the comedian condo.  Perhaps this is just luck, or perhaps my no-holds barred, bridge burning, career destroying blog tactics have gained me a measure of fear among bookers and managers (to paraphrase Walter White – I AM THE ONE WHO BLOGS)!  But probably just luck.

Either way, I am too tired to write much, but I have already experienced something funny, or at least memorable. Because the diner was closed (July 31st-August 1st – great timing) I had to eat breakfast at McDonald’s when I arrived through security.  There is no level of satire that could parody the experience of a 645 am trip to the BWI McDonalds.  I feel like the service style was one of such hostile apathy that it would make the most hardened fast food employees stop and take notice.  I know it is McDonald’s and the pay sucks, but to combine apathy with hostility takes some effort.  Saying “can I help whose next would you like to try the egg white surprise” in the form of one word, delivered in monotone and just repeating it with increasing volume so that some intimidated Midwestern couple in their 50s hop to attention takes a real dedication, as do the dozens of tattoos adorning the arms of the women of BWI McDonalds.  The best is when the food is ready they drop it off to a spot 3 feet from you and no matter how many people reach to be handed the food it was consistently placed just outside of the reach of the customer, yours truly included.  It felt like the whole staff were women who were deemed “too tough and nasty” to play Snoop on The Wire.  Oh well, time to get on the flight to Cleveland.

Ay - welcome to McDonalds, fu*k you want?

Review of 2 Guns tomorrow.  Shows all weekend starting tonight at the Cleveland Improv.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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Roaches vs. Man – My Alamo in the Comedy…

Week 2 of my San Antonio journey officially began yesterday as I moved from the outskirts of San Antonio into the heart of downtown to work at Rivercenter Comedy Club.  A quick breakdown of the two clubs – The LOL Club gets you free admission to the best movie theater in America (Alamo Drafthouse) and quick access to a Cheesecake Factory and a Chick Fil-A.  On the downside you are sort of isolated and the only gym you can workout at is Planet Fitness – a gym that bans jump rope and heavy weights, but does have tootsie rolls and pizza parties.  Now I am at the Rivercenter Comedy Club.  Pluses – near the Alamo, which could be defeated by an athletic high school basketball team (if the tall Dutch were attacking instead of miniature Mexicans it would have been taken faster – the thing is small and short), near a Fogo De Chao (a Brazilian steakhouse that serves unlimited filet mignon) and a free week pass to the Gold’s Gym.  There is a movie theater, but it is not free and not as good, though it is a solid AMC.  So at this point it is hard to draw an overall winner.  Each club has its strengths and weaknesses.  The tie breaker is simple:

LOL Club – comedians get a hotel.  At Rivercenter – comics get the condo.

Whenever a comedian gets booked on the road there are three possibilities: one is the club provides a hotel, the next is they provide a condo – an apartment the club owns or rents and have cleaned once a week for the incoming comedians (do yourself a favor and DO NOT bring a black light – better to live in ignorance) and the last is that the club provides nothing.  Shockingly the lack of any lodging is sometimes preferable to the condo.

The first time I performed at Rivercenter was in Fall 2011 and I did not see one bug the whole week.  So despite other comedians ripping on the condo I had no problem coming back to it.  And during the day I saw nothing.

I did the show that night and had a great set – excellent crowd.  Had fun chatting with the emcee George and the headliner Cory, who was my condo-mate (the headliner gets the room with the 14 inch tube television – BALLER).  However, as I walked back with Cory to the condo after the show he began telling me haunting stories about his last time at the club (which was Fall 2012 – so more recent and relevant) and the high quantity of roaches he saw throughout the apartment (to be fair there are a lot of combat traps and 2 bottles of Raid in the condo).  And like Beetlejuice or Candyman it was as if Cory summoned the evil spirits of roaches and waterbugs by saying their name because when I got back to the condo I saw a large roach climbing the side of my dresser. I promptly smashed it (#hero), but was now convinced/paranoid that the apartment was teeming with them.  I put all my stuff into my suitcase and sprayed every inch of the room with Raid.

We then went out where I decided a few beers might put my already tired ass into a coma so I could pass out without thinking about my new roommates.  We ended up going to this excellent place Mad Dog’s British pub, which featured outstanding karaoke hosts (they looked like an older Amy Poehler and Mya Rudolph performing a sketch about two older women hosting karaoke).  When Cory and I walked in we got great looks of “who ARE these guys” because Cory is short but very jacked and bears a little resemblance to Michael Vick, while I look like a back-up long snapper for an NFL team (hey we both made this fictional roster).  One of the karaoke highlights was one guy wearing a Roger Staubach jersey who did a phenomenal version of Cherry by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons.  The staff was hot, the crowd was fun and the hosts were great (singing, dancing and joking around – I guess women in their mid forties do have something to contribute after all!) and I started to relax.  After a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours we left to go back to the condo.

We were talking in the kitchen area and I was starting to feel comfortable (all the lights on in the apartment) and then a roach just sauntered out towards me in the light of the kitchen.  This roach was like Blade – it was of the night, but could also walk in the light.  I then noticed one on the wall and Cory informed me that a stain on the floor was his handiwork earlier in the day (dead roach stain, not a Cory stain).  I promptly stepped on the one approaching me and declared “I’m out of here.” I felt like those brave souls at the Alamo that I was now so close to – outnumbered by aggressive, tiny, brown creatures.  I then booked a room at a nearby Doubletree for a surprisingly low rate (this blog is sponsored by hotels.com).  When I got to the Doubletree at 3 am the man at the desk looked at me and said “No offense, but you look deathly tired.  Here are a couple of cookies.”  And then I fell asleep in my beautiful room at the Doubletree.

Remember the Condo!

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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A Beard Saves the Houston Comedy Trip

Comedy can be cruel.  For example, after last week’s ridiculously great set of shows at Helium in Philadelphia, I found out within a span of 2 hours this past Monday that a show at the Houston Improv on Feb 20th was cancelled and that the club I was supposed to perform near Baltimore on February 22-23rd had closed.  The comedy lord giveth and he taketh away.  But I still had a private gig in Houston on the 21st (tonight as I write this) which was the reason for going to Houston in the first place.  And changing flights would have been more than 5x the cost of the hotel for one night (I stay in really classy joints) so I decided to check if the Houston Rockets were playing.  There were and tickets were available.  More on this in a minute.

I was flying to Houston by Southwest because flights are dirt cheap to Hobby, because it is a hub of Southwest (I think).  I just had to get an 8 am flight to Midway, wait 3 hours and then catch my flight to Houston, arriving at 2:50 pm with plenty of time to spare before the Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder game at 7pm local.

I woke up at 430 am because I am now committed to making trips as cheap as possible, which means the 6 train to the M60 bus to LaGuardia.  $2.25 for only 375 minutes of travel.  The flight to Midway took off on time and arrived early.  Then bad sh*t started happening.

I already had a 2 hour and 50 minute layover, but that was before my flight got delayed an additional 3 hours and 45 minutes.  Even when I factored in Southwest’s “we are super cheap, so don’t depend on us that much” motto I did not think they would actually put me in jeopardy of missing the game.  The lesson here is no matter how big a lead your team has, never doubt that Southwest Airlines can turn it into a deficit.

When I finally arrived in Houston greeted by fellow comedian Alex Barnett who informed me that Brian Jian, the third comedian who would be performing Thursday (tonight) had flown in to Houston’s other airport.  So we arrived at the arena only 8 minutes after tip off, but in Texas, everything is bigger, especially the lines of people driving into parking lots because public transit does not exist here because public stuff is part of a socialist plot – AMUUURRRRRICA!

So the three of us arrived and we absolutely were representative of the Rockets organization.  We had Brian, representing the Asian community, which was in full force to support Jeremy Lin, or as they call him in Houston, Yao .5. Then there was me at 6’7″ the average height of an NBA player. Then we had Alex, a short Jewish attorney to represent the agents and ownership ranks of the NBA.  And lastly we had Alex’s friend Chuck, who was black.  We could have been a promotional ad for the NBA.

 

A tall guy, a Jewish lawyer and an Asian - it must be NBA action in Houston!

As soon as we arrived we discovered that some people were in our seats.  They asked if they could stay because they were part of an office party and they had nearly identical seats on the other side of the arena and were willing to pay us $20 each to exchange (naturally that deal was orchestrated by Alex). We did and the seats were almost as good; I still had an aisle seat to stretch my awkward legs.

At this point, after being up for 16 hours and travelling for 12 of them I was beat and don’t forget we were at the game because a show was cancelled.  And then, in one of the greatest ironies in my 10 years of comedy, a man with a beard made it all worth it.  James Harden, the immensely talented well-bearded star of the Houston Rockets put in one of the greatest performances I have seen live (for the record I have only been able to watch myself perform stand up on recorded video, for obvious reasons).

We were enjoying the game which featured Harden’s old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder and it was back and forth all game, but with the Thunder always in the lead.  Here are some of the highlights up until Harden and Lin went legend:

  • Harden hits a half court shot at the buzzer of halftime.  We all missed it because we were arguing over something.
  • But fortunately the INCREDIBLE HD scoreboard of the Toyota Center replayed it for us several times – seriously the scoreboard at that place is incredible and the producer of it is so good it looks like he is producing highlight reels and music videos live.  Seriously, if you are in Hollywood I would snatch up the Toyota Center Jumbotron segment producer now.  He (or she, but probably he) most likely has a cheap price tag.
  • The giveaway people are really good at the Toyota center.  We were in the cheap seats (which are $69, so not that cheap) but the t shirt giveaway people run up there and hand out free t-shirts since we are out of range of the 16 year old girl with the t-shirt gun. Also, there is “parachute time” when some guy in the scaffolding (I dubbed him “The Phantom of the Giveaways”) starts dropping down prizes in mini parachutes.  Unfortunately our seats were behind, and practically above him so we did not get any.
  • Speaking of giveaway teams – wouldn’t this be a great place for Al Qaeda to launch their next team?  The stadium gives you t-shirt gun firepower, the opportunity to stand in the middle of the court and a chance to drop miniature parachute bombs all over the crowd.  You get a motivated sleeper cell of energetic Al Qaeda teens (the jungle gym workout is great for auditioning as a halftime tumbling act as well) and next thing you know you have 9/11 x 6 at a sports arena.  In other words I think we need to screen these arena employees more carefully.
  • And last thing I noticed at the arena is that during the game they highlighted a “Suite of the Game.” This is where the arena takes the richest people in the stadium, who have luxury boxes, and puts them on the screen for the masses to cheer and appreciate their success.  WE DID BUILD THAT!
Here they are Houston... your rich people of the night!!!

So with all those highlights the game was coming to its conclusion the Thunder were leading by a dozen or so points with less than five minutes and Brian, who earlier in the game met up with Jeremy Lin’s agent for China-related dealings (they are friends, proving that the Chinese are the Jews of China) said words that must have reached Lin on some sort of cosmic, Asian, telepathic level.  He said “The Rockets better make their move now.  Time is running out.” It was like when Drago’s trainer yelled “SHOSHYA!” right before Drago murdered Apollo.  And just like that James Harden and Jeremy Lin put on a display of brilliance that had me going “HOUSTON IMPROV WHO???!!!”  Harden put on a dazzling display of shooting and testicular fortitude on his way to a career high of 46 points and Lin dropped in two three pointers in the last few minutes, ending the game with 29.  Rockets win by three.  And comedy disappointment was unexpectedly handed its second straight week of defeat.  Nice win rockets.

And now tonight it is time to a show for the Houston Intellectual Property Bar Association.  Dammit – maybe I should wait til tomorrow to gloat over the comedy gods.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes.