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Road Comedy Recap: Cleveland and The Electoral Map of…

This week I have been in Cleveland, my home away from where John D. Rockefeller started his empire, where Drew Carey got  fat and where I have appeared more than any other city outside of NYC and LA.  Basically I have been like Andrew Miller for this city, but over the last 7 years – 6’7″, immensely talented, unwanted by NY and delivering amazing performances.  This week has been no different and the city has been in need of healing (but apparently not in need of comedy albums as my 1.0 albums sold per show rate demonstrates) since it was the only Democratic stronghold in the city on Election Night.  I have told audiences that their state looked like a murdered Smurf because there was this tiny blue spot in the top of the state and blood red pouring out of it to the entire state.  So just like a bases loaded jam in the playoffs for Miller I arrived in Cleveland (under my urban room moniker of “Vanilla Coke”) to deliver some comedic healing… to the audience members that were not talking or texting or coming in late).  Here ya go:

Thursday – Southwest Mogul

I had a free flight to Cleveland on Southwest Airlines (I actually have the equivalent of about 6 free flights because of my Southwest credit card – let me tell you nothing gets women ready to get it on more than when at a bar or a club you pull out your Southwest Black Visa Card – yes girl, ever fly 5th class before?), but the catch was I had to fly out of BWI. Well I didn’t have to, but rather than fly from NYC to Chicago and then back to Cleveland I took Amtrak to BWI… at 4:40 am.  I arrived at BWI and went to the diner in Terminal A.  And they have (Trump voice) tremendous pancakes and hot chocolate (end Trump voice) for any travelers out there.  I then hopped on my flight and had leg room for days. See below:

Snug as a bug in a rug with soon-to-be crippled legs

When I arrived in Cleveland I snapped a quick pic with Lebron James who met me at the airport to discuss some potential business ventures.  I then made my way to the comedy condo (usually words that are as awkward to a comedian as “Special Event: Jake the Snake Roberts”) but the Cleveland Improv condo is quite nice.  I then killed time and had a great set that night.  And to prove it I sold 1 CD, but got more compliments and eye contact than I have ever received in my 7 years of performing at the Cleveland Improv.

King and Mogul

Friday – No Movie so Why Not Re-Write and Record a Bob Dylan song for 6 hours?!

Normally on Fridays I check out a movie and do a review and then emotionally wrestle for 5 hours on whether or not to go to the gym, but with no movie nearby (Black People Christmas, or whatever it is called was under 50% on Rotten Tomatoes so I couldn’t see it.  I was suspicious mainly because it was the first happy, mostly black movie that did not use Earth Wind and Fire’s September in the preview – I will not abide that disrespect to a proud black cinematic tradition.  So instead I decided that I should spend my day re-writing and recording a new rendition of Bob Dylan’s Hurricane for The Dan Lebatard Show on ESPN radio.  If you are a fan of the show it is strong work (even though my vocals are booty). I re-wrote it before lunch, went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame at lunch to see their new exhibit on music, power and freedom (really good and inadvertently timely) and then went back to the condo to record the song.  Hopefully it gets played and appreciated on the show Monday morning (writing this Sunday afternoon in a Starbucks):

That night I had some good sets and sold a whopping 4 albums so it was difficult to sleep that knowing that Saturday would be foot long sub at Subway instead of 6 inches due to my new wealth.  Here is a clip where I summarize the Republican Party in three awkward minutes:

Saturday – You Won’t Have J-L’s Merchandise Table To Kick Around Anymore!

The heading says it all. Had good shows, but after I sold zero on the first (helped in part by a group of 4 people who set up a human wall in front of my merch table – the pic below is of a woman doing the same thing on Friday night – but at least no one threw their coat on top of my CDs like in Albany earlier this year). So after selling zero on the first show I crushed the second show and then stormed out saying “You won’t have my merch table to kick around anymore!” and went back to the condo.  I then watched Dave Chappelle host SNL and give the best monologue in the show’s history in an episode every bit as good as Tom Hanks’s episode this year, which for me was the best episode of the show in years.

Good news is my CDs will rush for 100 yards with this kind of blocking...

On an Amazon Prime movie side note – earlier in the day I watched Woody Allen’s Bananas for the first time – wow – what a brilliant comedy that still holds up and is even prescient about some things (available for free with prime until November 30). I then watched (tried to) the very overrated Green Room – made it 65 minutes in and was bored. (Trump tweet voice) Sad! (End Trump tweet voice)

Sunday – Mass and TV in Starbucks

Walked to Mass on Sunday morning (huge, beautiful St John The Evangelist – oddly enough the name of my Church in Manhattan – I guess they franchised out) and couldn’t help feeling unholy thoughts as I looked at all those white, Catholic, Ohio voters (I know how half of my people tend to lean), but then I saw a girl texting during Mass and officially felt like a grumpy, old man.  But I do like being in a full Church and the fact that people still shake hands in Church in the Midwest instead of the Purell wave that you get in NYC.  I then watched Pitch and The Exorcist on my computer (seriously good shows on Fox this Fall – Mark Paul Gosselaar as a grizzled veteran catcher on Pitch is particularly good) and wrote a new version of My Prerogative called My Presidency for Trump (a joke that did so so was about how Trump is basically Scarface for white racists – expect his poster in redneck thug trailer parks in 15 years – and a political version of what Bobby Brown did when he left New Edition). I only mention this because I am starting to feel like comedy is more a compulsion, rather than a profession or even a hobby. Oh well, 500-5000 YouTube viewers will be thrilled when it goes up at some point and that is enough for me!

So one more show tonight and then my usual 5:50 am Amtrak back to NYC on Monday. You are welcome Cleveland.

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

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Weekend Comedy Recap: Chappelle, Danbury and Twitter Credit

This weekend presented a diverse array of comedy exposure.  I featured at a country and western bar in Danbury, Connecticut on Saturday night, but the undercard for the weekend was going to see Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday.  I have not been to Radio City Music Hall since I was a child and I forgot how big and beautiful that place is.  It really looked too big for a good comedy show.  But being a huge star that the crowd has been missing for a decade has a way of taming an intimidating room.  The DJ started the show with a tremendous slate of hacky jokes, but he’s not a comedian and the crowd enjoyed them so as usual… I’m the asshole.  The show started late, which led to numerous people standing in front of us (what happened to places like Broadway and Radio City? It used to be if you were late enough you didn’t get to sit and especially a comedy show with an intermission there is no reason to allow late people to disturb the experience of people who paid substantial money for tickets (they were a gift to me for my birthday but I am never above acting indignant).

So the show started with an immediate J-L Cauvin connection.  Tony Woods, a well known DC comic, was the opener.  The difference between DC comedy and NYC comedy is at some point NYC comedians decide they are above open mics and some bar shows, whereas in DC Tony Woods, who was already an established headliner, showed up all the time to any decent bar show or shitty open mic to work on his stuff.  And he always killed.  And I remember the first time I saw Dave Chappelle and Greer Barnes at the DC Improv, after seeing Tony Woods enough times, and it didn’t seem hard to guess who one of their inspirations was.  Whether that is true or not I do not know, but when you see two younger comics with a similar style to an older, funny comic your brain cannot help but make connections.

Woods did very well and then after an intermission Donnell Rawlings had a set that had me laughing at a few moments harder than anything I would see that night (this is only meant as a compliment, not as an insult to any other performers).  Then it was Chappelle time.  I enjoyed his set and I also enjoyed the fact that he was wearing a suit and  not a sleeveless shirt.  One of the few areas where black people are given a pass that white people are not is fashion (#blackprivilege?).  This is why Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook feel so comfortable walking around like morons after games wearing clothes that the Emperor would not be caught in.  And this is also why when Chappelle wears sleeveless shirts on stage to show off his new muscles people marvel at his guns.  White comic with muscles does it today I guarantee other comedians are chanting douche-bag at him (the way we all did at Dane Cook – unless we were the chick he was banging that night – and he didn’t even have muscles to show off).

Cool or Douche?

The set was fun, fairly light and enjoyable.  I was more impressed with the ability to control a room that large with standard stand-up.  Obviously his fame and devoted fans buy a longer attention span, but he also delivered.  If I had to grade it I would say it was a B+/A-, but I am sure that is “hating” to most people.  Oh well.  It was a relief to me though, because he washed away the memory of when I saw him in DC a decade ago, for top club dollar, and he delivered what amounted to “Hey man, I’m Dave Chappelle and I’m famous, rich and just me talking about anything is worth the price of admission.”    I left with a much better impression on Thursday.

But this was all prelude to my soon-to-be legendary performance at Coyote Maverick Bar in Danbury, CT on Saturday night.  I was featuring, but still brought 10 CDs because you never really know if you are going to sell zero or all of your CDs on gigs like this.  When I arrived at the location about 20 minutes before showtime I saw that the room was pretty small (roughly 100 capacity).  That is a good thing, unless you consider that 20 minutes before showtime and there are still approximately 98 seats left to fill.  I was informed from the smiling manager that the advertisement for the show (which was jam packed the week before) was placed in the wrong paper in a different city.  So now I had to deal with the fact that people in Bridgeport, CT were intentionally ignoring my show, instead of the good people of Danbury intentionally ignoring my show.  Now they just had to indifferently miss my show.

When the show started the crowd was about 25 strong.  I worked my ass off and felt good about my set, but pretty bad about my life.  They were a solid crowd (though with the average age being Crypt Keeper I had to dump a bit of my 40 and under material) and I did some of my best crowd work ever so at least that skill set got some exercise.  However, the biggest laugh of my set came with “I am selling CDs after the show…. oh who the fu*k am I kidding…”  But the gig was fun, the bar is cool and the check cleared despite having my last name spelled incorrectly.    So great job Dave Chappelle opening for me for the weekend. You really set the comedy table nicely.

But like any weekend of comedy it ended on a down note because after the world cup USA game yesterday, which was great and with an objectively incredible ending, I tweeted “That was some George RR Martin shit!  #WorldCup””  It got 5 retweets and 7 favorites from my 1700 followers.  20 minutes later I saw a retweet, from someone I follow, of a tweet by some tech geek with 11K followers who tweeted 1 minute after me (he doesn’t follow me so I doubt he saw mine) that said “George RR Martin wrote that game” and it had over 3200 retweets.  And I shut off twitter and felt a renewed sense of hate for all things comedic.  Sorry Chappelle and Danbury, but hate is stronger than any joy you can provide, but thanks for trying. #Blessed

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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How to Be a Great Comedy Heckler

The Dave Chappelle incident in Hartford has brought heckling and its place in stand up comedy into the spotlight again.  Well to help improve, if not settle the debate, there is now a video on the Internet that promises to help people become better hecklers to improve the comedy club experience.  Watch it and share:

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday! This week’s episode – a debate/discussion about paying college athletes.