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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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Dane Cook & Comedy’s New Political Correct Police

As annoyed as I was with the gender-Eddie Brill issue that had arisen in the last week, that is minute compared to my feelings concerning the backlash against Dane Cook for a set he had recently.  According to The Onion’s A.V. Club (http://www.avclub.com/articles/so-apparently-dane-cooks-standup-set-was-unusually,67943/) , Cook had a very vulgar and unamusing set at the Laugh Factory on Wednesday night.  And apparently it was so offensive that such vaunted comedy icons like Daniel Kinno (?), Ali Waller (?) and the heir apparent to Bill Burr, TJ Miller, came out with some harsh words about Dane Cook.  I have been resoundingly ripped by NYC comics for being a so-so appreciator of Louis CK, and I predicted (about 4 or 5 blogs ago) that if Dane Cook was getting ripped it would be hailed as a great thing (I fu*king told you!) Here are TJ Miller’s comments concerning the set he saw:

“Fucking Dane Cook is eating [shit] at the laugh factory. He bumped [Bobby Lee] and is being just mean… The hubris of this man unfortunately led to his fall, but I’m afraid he is a damaged man & well, that’s about it. He [is] certainly not a comedian… Watching him try and work through his own shit on stage when he is saying, ‘Go fuck a dirty whore. That’s the best therapy.’ #lord… Dane. You’ve been doing standup for so many years and you still believe it’s okay to bomb and talk about your issues? You. Didn’t. Earn This…

I remember hearing [about] someone named ‘Dane Cook’ in college on Napster. I heard Harmful If Swallowed after college… Then there was a backlash (there always is, it’s inevitable), but it grew. It was more than I could believe, and it was due in part to him… I liked him. His snake bit, a lot of sort of absurdist stuff. Suddenly he was on SNL, he was the ‘king’ of MySpace, [and] he was famous. Good Luck Chuck and Vicious Circle sealed his fate in contemporary culture.

And then last night, he got on stage and was vicious, misogynistic, cruel, and arrogant. He talked about not paying for an abortion. He talked about finding some whore to fuck to take out his anger at his ex-girlfriend. He talked about how girls would do anything for him ‘because I’m me.’ He got mad when people were texting. ‘Dane Cook is onstage,’ he said. ‘Have some fucking respect.’

Here’s an idea, Dane: have some fucking respect for the audience that gave you the chance to be what you dreamed of being, and don’t be mad at them because you fucked it all up from hubris and thirst for fame. Don’t disrespect the people that gave you a chance. Don’t do an hour of mean-spirited trash. And Dane Cook, certainly don’t ask anyone to feel sorry for you. If you are the person you were onstage last night then you are not a good person. And the way you talk about women is disgusting and pathetic, but really just hurtful. So Good Luck Chuck. [You] need all the luck in the world to realize you need to go to therapy & figure out how to not be a hateful person. Stop performing until [you] do so.”

Now I have not been a big fan of Dane Cook post the aforementioned Harmful If Swallowed (for God’s sake I have a Dane Cook spoof video launching in the next 24 hours so he is no sacred deity to me).  I think the demands made of him in terms of producing content were bigger than his capabilities.  I don’t think he is horrible or anything, but he is not in my top tier of comedians by any means.  But who the fu*k is TJ Miller?  I know he is an actor and a comedian, but these are not the words of a comedian.  Maybe in the current sense of comedian he is (TV and movie stars who do comedy for extra money and please crowds because they are light, fluffy and familiar from mediocre movies), but he is not from the old school.  I doubt you will hear Dave Attell or Bill Burr or Chris Rock criticizing a comedian for trying different things, pushing boundaries, using abusive language on stage, etc. Perhaps it was not funny.  Any comedian who has ever tried something new or daring or dangerous has offended people while searching for the right tone, the right words and the right sentiment.

Even if you don't find him funny, respect the work.

TJ Miller sounds like a tool who does not understand that stand up is supposed to be (I hope) a bastion of free speech and a place to be free to take risks.  But The Onion is happy to blast this all over like he is some sort of knight slaying the dragon Dane Cook.  Cook was obviously working things out or trying new things on stage.  It does not sound like it was funny, but if an established stand up veteran with decades of work and millions of fans cannot at least be free to try new voices and material, then we might as well shut this whole sh*t down.  Unless Dane fought with people off stage or was hurling epithets to provoke a riot what he said on that stage should not be criticized except on whether it was funny, ESPECIALLY by a comedian.  When you are as big as Dane Cook (like it or not) you bump people because a Wednesday night show, which might be a big deal to younger comics, is his open mic. And at open mics sometimes comedians say and do things that seem wrong, on their way to finding the joke.  But I am sure TJ Miller already knows that.

Comedy's New Champion of Not Hurting Feelings With Comedy: TJ Miller

Really, telling people to respect 20 years of comedy and not to text makes him a douche (perhaps the third person is a tad douchey)?  And he did a lot of time?  Oh, but when he was red hot, people in LA could not wait to be in seats for 5 or 6 hours to see him and Dave Chappelle try to break records!  There is no stand up that can be fun for 6 hours, but when it was cool, no one said sh*t about Dane hogging the mic or being self-indulgent.  I am not saying what Dane Cook did was funny.  It might not have been.  But what I am saying is that the TJ Millers of the world should respect stand up and shut the fu*k up.  Save the politically correct and sensitive guy talk for the dumb groupies who thought you were hilarious in She’s Out of My League.

I am a nobody in stand up, but I at least know how the game is supposed to be played.  The process of creating stand up comedy requires fu*king up on stage in a myriad of forms.

But I did enjoy Cloverfield so good job there.

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Movie of the Week: Green Lantern

In a year with two green superheros, who thought that Seth Rogan and the Green Hornet would receive better reviews that the Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds?  It is all how you frame the argument.  The big story about the Green Hornet was how Seth Rogan had lost weight for the role.  Even if it is a big piece of sh*t, the stories about that film had a positive/optimistic tone.  Meanwhile, the only pre-production headline I remember about the Green Lantern was that Ryan Reynolds beat out Justin Timberlake, among some other metrosexual B list talent for the lead role.  Ominous…

This ring has the power to bury my career as a possible A lister.

I had been so optimistic when I saw The Dark Knight, that Christopher Nolan had raised the bar so high on comic book movies that writers and studios would at least raise their game because of raised expectations.  Instead, the studios seem to have said, “Well, sh*t!!! We can’t beat that one so let’s just aim for somewhere between Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Daredevil.”

And from those murky waters emerges the Green Lantern, a barely entertaining movie that makes the digitally overdosed Thor, released earlier this season, look like it was filmed before the invention of the computer.   The plot involves aliens and other planets (which, like Thor, I think automatically renders your comic book second or third tier and not really worthy of a movie adaptation).  It is as if someone asked, “What if we made a 2009-2011 Nicholas Cage movie, but got Dane Cook, or the closest thing Hollywood has to Dane Cook, to star in the lead role.”  It is that mediocre.  And I will never understand why Reynolds, who is buff in this movie, was actually at his most buff when he played a married father in the re-make of The Amityville Horror.  You’d think a superhero in 2011 would be more swollen than a Dad in the 1970s.

In this film I wear a green suit with a ring. I call it a GSR for short! IN THE FACE!

The movie basically is a cosmic battle between the good force of will (green guys) versus the bad force of fear (yellow and black stuff – sort of like the intergalactic Pittsburgh Steelers I suppose), which apparently turns Peter Sarsgaard’s character into Eric Stoltz from Mask when exposed to it. Blake Lively plays a fighter pilot with the believability that Denise Richards once played a nuclear scientist in a James Bond film.  Green Lantern must overcome fear issues that stem from his father’s death and his inability to commit to a chick that has managed to turn Leonardo DiCaprio back to monogamy.  You know, problems that affect us all.  There is the plot.  I am sure you can guess how it turns out.

The villain of Green Lantern and the hero from Mask.

My favorite moment of the Green Lantern experience was, obviously its conclusion when, upon leaving the theater, a member of the theater staff said “Thank you for coming to AMC have a nice day!”  A man standing behind me said to the staff member, “How you gonna waste my time with that sh*t!”  Now he is a moron twice because a) she did not make the movie and b) how could you not know that it would suck?  But as the old saying goes, “Even a rude, unemployed guy with good expectations for a Ryan Reynolds movie is right twice a day.”

Grade: C-

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Good Week vs Bad Week

Last week started out terribly with the sweeping of the Utah Jazz at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.  If you missed it I tweeted incessantly, which just compounded my sadness (but I still feel I am less sad than the people who tweet about the weather, their meals, and other mundane things – namely a majority of people on Facebook and Twitter).  But that was just the beginning of the week.  I then had to cancel my show Always Be Funny that Thursday because we had 6 comics, 1 bartender and three people sitting at the bar, two of which were openly against the show and one who is a regular at the bar and is usually a decent audience member, except the time she heckled Jon Fisch.

This would not have been so bad if the show I was scheduled to be on earlier that evening was not also cancelled.

Comedy shows beware of J-L. Or call Atreyu if you have his cell number.

So feeling like The Nothing from The Neverending Story, as shows were destroyed in my path, I took Friday off from comedy to go to the Bronx DA’s Office for my former bureau’s annual Yankee Game party.  It was a good event, especially since A-Rod hit a Grand Slam to put the Yankees ahead in the game late (let’s look at the two live sporting events I have attended this year – the game of the year so far in the NBA in Utah and a clutch grand slam from A-Rod against the Twins – it is as if God is telling me that I should quit comedy and just go to sporting events professionally).

Well, it was time to get back to the grind of comedy on Saturday – I had a show at O’Hanlon’s on 14th and 1st, which I learned upon arriving, was… you guessed it – cancelled!  Fortunately I was able to observe 4 white guys threatening to beat up a black guy so that was entertaining.  The four white guys looked like they might have been firefighters – not the heroes that women want to have sex with of course. No, these guys looked more like the crew-cut, Irish, raised in effectively all-white neighborhoods, voting Republican their whole lives, racist type of civil servants.  Those guys, not the heroes.  Now I have to allow for the possibility that they weren’t, but they looked the part anyway.  The black guy was a black Israelite, who are known for their congeniality and open mindedness, but this guys was quadruple teamed and they were throwing his property in the middle of the street, hitting cars and cyclists while doing it.  So I did what any former DA would do – I called the police.  I offered a very detailed description, but I made two mistakes – one – i Said I did not see a weapon.  Two – I said it was four white males attacking a black man (I was not dumb enough to say he was a black Israelite).  I waited 20 minutes, which the four Klansmen did as well, but the police never showed up.

Perhaps if he had attacked, instead of being attacked there would have been a better response time.

A more effective call on my part might have been:

“Yes, I see four black men attacking a white woman!”

“Do they have weapons?”

“Yes, if you consider their large, angry black cocks weapons!  Hurry quick!”

I think the police would have been there quicker.

So that was the end of my bad week.  But with Sunday comes renewed optimism.

First I was shooting my new video.  The story is about black guy wants to date a daughter of a rabid Tea Party member and the agency that helps acclimate Tea Party members to ethnic boyfriends.  Of course, it started out poorly because one of the actors backed out at 10:07 am via text for an 11 am call time because he had to wait for furniture for his move with his girlfriend.  Sounds like a valid excuse, assuming people  move on 30 minutes notice and lack a nervous system.  So after setting a new volume record for how loudly I could yell fu*k, comedian Matt Maragno came to the rescue at the last minute and delivered laughs.  The shoot went well and it looked like the week was off to a great start.

My sketches are in good fun because obviously there is no racially-based anger within the Tea Party.

It got even better when I got an offer yesterday to open for Jo Koy in Cleveland starting this Thursday and running through Sunday.  That means big crowds and payment of money for my jokes.  Of course, without eating for the 4 days I will only net a little over $100 for my efforts. 

Tomorrow night I am making my tape for college submissions and I am confident that will go well.

So, in sum a bad week in my comedy life is witnessing a hate crime and going 3 for 3 in having shows get cancelled.  A good week, by contrast, is doing a YouTube video, netting $100 for half a week’s work and doing a bringer so I can one day entertain college kids, with diminishing social skills and emotional connections.  Like I have told friends – if you have a choice between your son or daughter being in gay snuff films or being a comedian, go with the snuff.

Sunday will be the start of a new week, but it begins with the season finale of Lost (a show that proves that like Dane Cook comedy, as long as you have a premise with no logical conclusion you can actually make millions, even if everything following the premise ranges between nonsense and stupidity) so I am not too confident in the prospects for a good week.

Like Dane Cook - I respect the effort put into the work, but not really the final product.
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Patience

I remember as a 2nd grader (give or take a year) at Riverdale Country School some Columbia psychology grad students were allowed to use us for experiments.  Simple ones, maybe some of you have been involved in them (there is actually a commercial parodying them running on television currently, but it involves ponies) where the experimenter would tell us we could have 3 Hershey Kisses if we waited for an indefinite amount of time (could be 5 minutes, could be 50) or 2 Hershey Kisses at any time when we said we wished to stop waiting.  I distinctly remember waiting for only a few minutes and then requesting the two Hershey Kisses. 

A lesson in patience
A lesson in patience

I did not realize that more than two decades later this mindset would bite me in the ass when everyone else would adopt it.

With the advent of YouTube and similar media outlets the viewer’s attention span is both demanding and being molded for nothing less than ten minutes of humorous bursts.  The shorter the better.  If something is 3 minutes try to make it 2, etc.  But comedy, I believed, was open to all sorts of styles and thoughts.  My jokes generally come in the form of intermittent punchlines during the course of stories or opinions with (hopefully) a big punchline at the end.  That is one style – it is not changing the world, but iI hope the content and perspective I have is unique enough.  I am no Bill Cosby or George Carlin, but I wonder to myself sometimes if those legends started out today would they even be considered comedians or would they be placed under the more nebulous “spoken word” category, meaning I may have to listen to some set up or opinion or allow a person to develop something before I get to a more substantive and funny payoff. 

Ok, ok, would you just say the 7 words already?!
Ok, ok, would you just say the 7 words already?!

I really believe YouTube, for all its convenience is going to have a very detrimental long term effect on comedy.   I was recently told in the course of a rejection for something I auditioned for that I “needed to get to the jokes faster.”  This was in response to one of the best sets I’d ever had in my life.  Now maybe that means that I suck.  But I do not feel that is the case.  So, despite telling what is my best material in crisp formats that had just gotten me passed at two well regarded national clubs, I was taking too much time getting to the punch.   But this may just be what the comedy fan market is demanding.  But

This trend has a doubly deleterious effect on my nascent career because at the time that young storytelling comics with points of view may or may not be getting shunned (or at least fewer opportunities) for more quick hit style comics (nothing against them at all if they do it well), it also seems that this is the dawn of new dominance for the slovenly/nerdy comedian.  Seth Rogan’sascendancy may be the biggest moment of this trend(or re-trend), but also in successful movies like The Hangover the two guys getting the biggest laughs are Zach Galifianakis (slovenly) and Ed Helms (sort of meek and nerdy).  Shows like Important Things with Dimitri Martin and the new porn for alt comedy fans, Michael and Michael demonstrate that the nerdy and alt scene is where the comedy businsess seems to be mining for its new talent.  Perhaps Dane Cook cashed in all the alpha male chips this decade for comedians.  But these two trends (shorter bits, stranger comedians) make me feel like a 2009 General Motors SUV.  That is why instead of getting what I think is a half-assed critique of my audition I would have preferred to hear, “Fu-k you,” or “We don’t want you,” or “You are not what we’re looking for.”  Those I can understand, but if the gates to the comedy kingdom require admission fees in the form of alternative looks or sounds or rapid fire punchlines akin to Rodney Dangerfield or Robin Williams then my days in the business are numbered.  It’s just not what I do.

And people are becoming more and more programmed to expect or demand certain delivery devices like YouTube – the internet is no longer enough.  Not too long ago I told a waiter at a restaurant that I was a comedian.  He seemed to be a big comedy fan so I gave him my card which has my website on it.  He then asked me if I had any clips on YouTube and that he’d look me up on YouTube.  I just gave him a sh*t eating grin because I did not want saliva in my food, but in my head I was thinking, “Yeah maybe you could check out clips of mine if I put them on YouTube, but wait, I think I know where you might also have a chance of seeing some clips – the FU-KING website I just gave you that has all my stuff you pre-programmed moron.”

And to show that this is not sour grapes or some small potatoes gripe, all entertainment is feeling this decrease in attention and creativity – even porn!  See the link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/business/media/08porn.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=plot%20in%20porn&st=cse

Now if even porn stars are craving more substance to their work something is going dreadfully wrong with our pop culture. 

If even she requires some plot then maybe we need to ease off of the YouTube pedal.
If even she requires some plot then maybe we need to ease off of the YouTube pedal.

I really feel like at some point down the road YouTube will have some video Twitter equivalent where things can only be 15 seconds long and will just consist of people taking dumps in public places or near children and we will all be competing with that stupidity as comics.   I just hope this is a phase of comedy and not a permanent direction because if it is I’ll just take my two Hershey kisses now.

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Identity Theft

Last night at Gotham Comedy Club I watched some younger comics struggle through sets.  No big deal.  Not one comic worth his salt can watch an early tape of him or herself without gagging at how terrible it looks, no matter how well you thought you may have done at the time of the performance.  So I don’t really hold it against anyone if they are not doing well.  In fact it yielded a very funny moment for a comic last night.  The comic was from the South and made a Walmart joke.  It did not receive a great laugh so he said sarcastically, “Guess you don’t have Walmart in New York,” which he quickly learned from the crowd’s response was in fact the case.

I also don’t mind when comics, especially newer ones clearly have the imprint of their favorite comic or comics on their material.  Last night I saw a comic who, like many males under the age of 28, probably believes that comedy begins and ends withDane Cook, which I guess is why he tore his shirt off (ripping all the buttons), while simulating sex set to death metal music.  He also coined the word “chesticles” (combination of Chest and icicles), which sounds like it came from the Dane Cook Thesaurus.  And then there was his sendoff of “You guys are my reason for living” to the crowd.  I almost puked.  I was waiting for him to flash a Su-Fi and say “by a round of applause how do you feel???”

Like it or not, but he will be a big influence on new comics
Like it or not, but he will be a big influence on new comics

But that is no big deal.  There was a comic later who actually ripped off an entire persona of a comic.  And apparently me and the emcee were the only ones who noticed.  That is what sucks about comedy – it is an honor based culture, but from 4th grade mathclass to Denis Leary I have learned that thieves and cheats don’t always get theirs.  This comic, who was doing well with the crowd (especially since it was his first time at Gotham), but I noticed that his speech pattern, the way he held his hand was basically an imitation of a Canadian comic named Jeremy Hotz.  I thought maybe I was being too hard on the new comic or that it could be a coincidence so I showed some YouTube clips to my girlfriend who was at the show, but unfamiliar with Hotz’ work.  Her response, “are you kidding?  that is pretty ridiculous.” 

Shut up and give me your delivery and style
Shut up and give me your delivery and style

Joke thieves are bad because it is so easy to do and so hard to catch.  But identity theft is the bigger theft because forming a voice and persona on stage is often harder than just writing new jokes.  I did not bother to learn the names of the above mentioned comics because maybe they are figuring out comedy as newcomers and should not be completely trashed, but that will only be true in the near future.

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The Good, the Bad and Watchmen

Some lists for the week.

The Good

  1. American Idol – A few weeks ago when they announced the Top 36 contestants I picked my Top 5. All 5 of my picks are in the Top 13.  https://jlcauvin.com/?p=622 So I guess I am actually on my list of good.  This show is good.  I constantly hate myself for feeling this way, but it is.
  2. March Comedy Madness at Caroline’s – 2 years ago I made the Sweet 16.  Last year I made the Elite 8.  After going through a broken up engagement and gaining a sick Obama impression I have done the equivalent of comedy performance enhancing drugs to try and win the thing.  1st round this Wednesday – check the calendar for info.  Note: this could be bumped to the bad list immediately upon me getting bounced from the tournament.
  3. HBO Sunday nights.  – Eastbound and Down is an absolutely great comedy. Flight of the Conchords has been hit and miss, but the last two episodes have been amazing.  And Big Love – a show whose first two seasons I watched on demand simply because there was nothing on television  last summer – is off the charts great this season.
  4. My Best Friend’s Girl – I ordered this movie on demand, making it the first time I had paid for anything featuring Dane Cook since a 2004 performance at Caroline’s.  It started out shaky, but I really enjoyed the movie.  Perhaps it was because my expectations were lower than Paul Blart: Mall Cop ( and even given those expectations, quite possibly the worst movie ever made), but if this had been his first movie instead of his 6th or 7th his film career might have a different trajectory. 
  5. The Utah Jazz – 11 wins in a row.  My favorite thing on Earth other than my own jokes is the Utah Jazz.

 

The Bad

  1. Rihanna and Chris Brown – I have harped on them enough, but this couple – the young black version of Michael and Kay Corleone in Godfather II – should both have their careers go up in flames.
  2. The Heartland Institute – their Conference on Climate Change in NYC over the next few days is and effort to show that global warming is either hoax or greatly exaggerated.  I wish there was a way to ensure that only them and like minded skeptics/non-believers of fact would die in the event of environmental catastrophe.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/science/earth/09climate.html?_r=1&ref=us
  3. 24 – The President is being held hostage.  Even for a far fetched show – this season sucks.  The only thing good related to this show will be my forthcoming spoof.

Watchmen

I saw this movie this weekend.  It was ok if you like movies. It was great if you like neon blue penis shots.