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Road Comedy Recap: Storming The States Near The Capitol

17 years ago I graduated from Georgetown Law and like the cicadas I just made a triumphant return to the DC area for 3 nights of shows.  It was a weekend of fancy Amtrak accommodations, reading on benches in shopping malls, heckles from plastic surgeons, hotel curtains that would not close, Cheesecake Factory, great comedy and a truly unique experience in my almost 18 year comedy saga: meeting fans. So without further adieu, here it is folks.

Thursday – Amtrak Luxury and a Fake News Summit in Arlington

Newark Penn Station is the closest Amtrak station to where I live, but it is also a disgusting place. So even though going to New York Penn would add time to my trip, I would also be able to luxuriate in the revamped Amtrak lounge in NY, one of the centerpieces of the new Moynihan Train Station.  As a Select Plus member of Amtrak (baller) I get access there for any Amtrak trip I take.  And it did not disappoint.  Unlike other Amtrak lounges on the east coast, rather than some Rold Gold pretzels and leftover Sara lee danishes, the new lounge has a full bar (well at least coffee bar), dozens of premium snacks and treats, beautiful, spacious seating and slaves fanning you. I ended up having a tea and two packs of Lorna Doones (I eat not for the job I have, but for the job that my great-grandfather wanted).

The NY Penn Amtrak lounge is a masterpiece. Seriously.

After I finished watching the complimentary gladiator matches in the lounge I made my way to my Accela to DC. I read 50 pages in Rick Perlstein’s Reaganland (leaving me with only 4200 pages left) on the way to DC and then took the Metro out to Tyson’s Corner, VA (which now looks like a whole new city) after arriving.  I checked into my Hilton hotel (as I told the crowds I like my hotels the way I like my sex tapes) and then made my way to O’Sullivan’s in Arlington for two shows.

Several fans showed up for both shows, but the true highlight (with no disrespect to my fans or the father of one of my college hoops teammates who showed up) was Jonathan Martin of the New York Times coming through for the first show.  Since most of our discussion was off the record I will not reveal all of the details of our hang out in between shows, but I will say this – everyone deserves to be loved the way Jonathan Martin loves my Mike Pence impression. Here is a brief transcript of a moment I will share.

J-Mart: You know Trump really did say to Pence “You can be a patriot or you can be a pussy.”

J-L (in Pence voice): Well Mr. President, I can assure you that the last thing I want to be anywhere near is a pussy.

*JM laughing hysterically*

J-L (in Pence voice): I won’t even go into seafood restaurants.

*JM almost falls out of chair laughing*

Friday – Mall Reading and Brewery Comedy

Crush on a show, get a mask

Friday was the type of day I had been missing for a year and a half. Walking around a new city, sitting around reading and just feeling relatively care free.  Of course the day began unexpectedly due to my hotel curtains.  There are two types of hotel curtains.  One type I call scissoring curtains – where you just try to bring together two separate sets of curtains to the middle and smush them together, in hopes of sealing them shut.  The other type are the “am I in there?” curtains – where you drag one curtain all the way across and try to seal it against the wall so no daylight seeps through. Well. at 7am, after 4 hours of sleep, I woke up thinking I had left a light on. In fact, the curtain had about 1/3 of an inch of daylight coming through, which was a sensation can only be described as “nuclear blast outside of my hotel window.”

Friday I ate at Shake Shack for lunch (their chicken sandwich is far superior to their overrated burgers) and read some more Reaganland (somehow I now have 4700 pages left – I think pages actually get added as you read it).  The mall Starbucks seating was closed so I had to drink my coffee and read my book just sitting outside of a random women’s clothing store, which after about 90 minutes, struck me as possibly creepy.  I then headed to Twinpanzee Brewery in Sterling, VA for the Friday show.  Unlike Thursdays shows, where I felt a tad rusty, the set Friday was great, which was good because my girlfriend’s friends all went to that show and there are only two things you don’t want your girlfriend’s friends to see you do on the road in this order: 2) making out with a sidepiece and 1) doing badly on stage.

Saturday – Coffee Shop Greatness (a J-L coffee is extra light with a dark roast if Java Nation wants to make a beverage named after me)

Saturday I had lunch with my buddy Ross at the Cheesecake Factory.  Even though I could feel Type II diabetes forming in real time it still felt like the right fuel for the last two shows of the week.  Then it was time for the shows at Java Nation in Rockville.  I think the best way to share with you what went on is through bullet points (because I am tired and need to do other stuff):

  • First show – a group of plastic surgeons who were drunk were disrupting my set.  At one point I told one “fu*k your mother” simply hoping he might attack me so he could be removed.  This was the only low light of the evening.
  • This was the clip 2 minutes after the f your Mom comment. This is now my gold standard for quickest turning a crowd around in my career:
  • Several fans told me after show how excited they were to see me in person, how I helped them get through 2020 and (most important for my future) how great a stand up I am.
  • Show Two was surgeon free and was incredible. My set was great, but I was blown away by the audience.
  • One fan told me that he had lost multiple family members during Covid and that my comedy had really helped him.
  • A fan who had seen me my last time in DC (2018?) came to the show with a friend who had independently discovered me through my videos (nice to have those two worlds collide).
  • Last, but not least – 5 members of a family flew from Ohio on Saturday to see me on the late show (and then flew back the next day). They were incredible fans, but as much as they enjoyed my comedy I must say seeing them all together having so much fun as a family really warmed my heart, or whatever part of my heart has not been destroyed by the comedy industry and the cheesecake factory.  After so many years, it felt truly incredible to have people showing such great and meaningful support to my comedy.
  • I also had a message on my phone after the 2nd show from a fan who had recently lost their father. I had done a cameo for the Dad a little while back and this person told me they were watching it and getting a good and needed laugh.  Needless to say that was powerful, especially on a night that already meant so much to me. It becomes a lot harder to gripe about industry slights when the people who actually buy your stuff are so connected and supportive (though I will double my efforts to still gripe if that is what it takes).

Sunday – Back to NJ

The next day as I waited for my train back home I gave two homeless people $10 each (one did a double take and the other one tried to hug me (I kissed her with tongue since the CDC said I was safe). I was only going to give them $1 each but then I opened my wallet and $10s were the lowest denomination I had (baller) and once you open up the wallet it would take a real piece of shit to say “just kidding!” to some desperate folks.

So my first real road comedy trip in a year and a half was an incredibly satisfying experience. Thanks to everyone who came out and who helped organize the shows (Jon and Gil).  If you want to know where I will be each month, sign up for my monthly newsletter (bottom of my home page) and if you like me talking and joking about comedy life – be sure to follow Righteous Pk podcast (just click on podcast above).

And if you were wondering, Cookie was hanging out with her human cousins over the weekend loving life:

Cookie Cauvin on watch
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Road Comedy Recap: Amtrak Animals and Arlington

This weekend represented the end to the longest slump in my comedy career. 7 months in between road work.  There are several possible reasons for this bad streak: bad luck with e-mail response, blacklisted for naming some notorious pieces of sh*t within comedy, making funny videos about people in comedy (the group of people who never stop claiming that “nothing should be off limits” in comedy), or less available work because of the need to work shittier comedians with managers who leverage their bigger clients to get their less talented ones force fed upon the general populace.  Whatever the reason is for my historic dip, this weekend was a break from that as I featured for Michael Ian Black for four shows at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.  So as usual, though I am rusty having not written a road recap in 6 months, let’s start from the beginning.

On Friday morning I headed to Penn Station to catch Amtrak to DC.  I arrived with perfect timing as the train track was called just as I got in view of the big board with all the track assignments.  Now, anyone who knows Penn Station knows that when a track goes up, unlike every other train station in the northeast corridor where orderly lines emerge, a mob scene immediately develops with half of the people attempting to form something close to a line while the other half begin to attack the front of the line from 5 to 6 directions, as if they cannot see the line.  Every time I get a train at Penn Station I am reminded how horrible humanity is.  We don’t need an apocalyptic situation or a water or food shortage to see humanity at its most savage; we just need a track assignment in Penn Station on a Friday.  The best part was when I was in the middle of the line a man just sort of slide into the line right in front of me.  I just tapped him on the shoulder and said “there’s a line.”  He then sheepishly moved all the way back (having a good foot in height and 100 lbs in weight on someone makes enforcing moral order a little bit easier).  I felt good, but I realized that it didn’t really matter.  Just the fact that in a random sample of Amtrak riders, 50% of the population does not give a shit for order or respect for other people irritates me so much.  The only silver lining is that the people that cut the line, rushed the middle, etc. came from all backgrounds, proving that economic status, sexual orientation, gender and race make no difference in how awful human beings are. #AllLivesSuck

This is what a typical afternoon rush for Amtrak looks like at New York Penn Station

So with a good, angry sweat built up observing this I grabbed a seat next to an old lady reading a Kindle (while I read my hard copy book) and headed to DC.

I checked into the Arlington Hyatt, which thanks to good luck on Hotwire.com turned out to be a very nice hotel and across the street from a Metro station.  For those of you that do not know Hotwire, it is like gambling for middle and lower class travelers.  You put in your address and it gives you anonymous hotels within certain distance ranges from your given address. It tells you the stars of the hotel, the price you will pay (always cheaper than other travel sites because it ends up helping hotels you might not book on another site because of either the name or the distance). So you could end up with a hotel 3 blocks from your destination or 4 miles (my range was 0 to 5.5 miles that I picked from).  So I was very happy to get a hotel off of a Metro station, 3 stops from the Drafthouse when it could have been a disaster (and they are non-refundable – you only learn your hotel when you have already paid).  It is a very thrilling way to start a mundane trip. But possibly not riveting blog reading.

The shows were really fun at ACDH, as they were the first time I was there in 2014.  I began a bit rusty, but to be fair (since I never hesitate to shit on crowds that suck) they were easy/very pleasant audiences.  The most important thing I learned from the 1st night was that I needed to retire a Ronda Rousey joke I tell. Here is the offending part:

Even more than Hillary Clinton, I feel like Ronda Rousey is a more impressive feminist hero.  Because she is not just doing what a man does, but she is so impressive men might want to be her, without thinking of gender first. I mean she’s rich, she’s famous, she’s ripped and she gets applauded for beating the shit out of women. What guy wouldn’t want to be her?

Now the joke is a solid joke in terms of structure and punch line, but I finally realized (the joke has hit well 50% of the time for me and fallen flat 50% of the time in the 10-12 times I have told it) that I have to quit telling it. If I was 5’3″ and 105 lbs I could probably get away with it because (as I discussed with the emcee of the weekend) it would rise to the level of absurd and the joke would feel less like a viable threat.  However at 6’7″ 275 lbs the idea of hitting a woman is sort of impossible to make funny even if the joke technically works.  #LargeComediansPunchlinesMatter

The second night was outstanding.  I had dusted off some of the rust of the first night and both shows, especially the second one, were killer. Sadly, videotaping is not allowed at ACDH, even by comedians so the set will only live on in the hundreds of oral re-tellings of the feature act’s legendary performance by the hundreds in attendance.  New bits killed, old bits killed and by the end of the night I only had 5 of the 26 CDs I brought to sell (I lost 21 on the Metro – KIDDING – I sold 21 copies because I am very good at stand up comedy).

So it was a great trip and it felt good to be on the road again, even if just for a few days and even if I spent Saturday in my hotel reviewing e-mails for my daytime legal work.  I feel like the two best parts of road work are leaving and returning: the excitement of going to perform for new people and then the mental exhale of knowing you will get back home to your usual comforts: cookies and a TiVo. #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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Labor Day Weekend Comedy Recap: DC Comic

This weekend I was at the Arlington Drafthouse in Arlington, Virginia to feature for Jay Chandrasekhar (or Jay C as I would have called him if I knew him better and had thought of that funny nickname on the spot instead of on a train two days later), known best as a comedy director and star of the films Super Troopers and Beer Fest, though I was happy to hear that he had also directed several episodes of Arrested Development.  I took Amtrak down to DC on Saturday and then ventured to the Metro Pentagon City stop, which was also the location of the mall I always went to during law school when I wanted to spend money I did not have. I hopped a cab to my hotel, the Pentagon City Sheraton, a 4 star hotel according to Hotwire.com, which continued its excellent streak of providing me with criminally low prices for DC Summertime hotel rooms (honestly – I feel like the cheapness of DC area hotels in the Summer could not be any lower even if there was an outbreak of Ebola in the DC area).

When I arrived at my hotel with an almost dead cell phone I realized I had left my cell phone charger at home.  So I took the hotel shuttle back to the Pentagon City Mall to purchase a cell phone charger, which quickly put my net earnings from the weekend at a robust -$21.00.

It was then time to head over to the theater.  My hotel was literally .9 miles in a straight line from my hotel so I started walking, forgetting that I am 36 lbs heavier than the last time I lived in DC for a Summer.  By the time I arrived at the theater I looked like Robert Hayes trying to land the airplane at the end of Airplane!  The staff at the club was great and the crowds were some of the best I have performed in front of.  And CD sales were surprisingly robust.  I saw an older gentleman leaving the theater on Friday night wearing a Williams College hat and I said – “Hey Williams – I am class of 2001.” He then gathered his family around to chat – he was Class of 1964, his son was class of 1996 and his daughter was a vile human being, which I inferred when she said that she had attended Duke.  We had a nice chat and then they bought my albums, which made me finally feel like I was benefiting from the Williams College alumni network.  After that an older drunk woman sort of sexually harassed me which was made weirder by the fact that her date/boyfriend/lover/husband/benefactor was right there. She actually spent 4 drunken minutes guilting him into buying one of my CDs.  It would have been less awkward if he had just paid me $10 to come back to their apartment and have sex with her while he filmed.

The next day was a big day of podcasting.  First was recording a mega movie episode of my podcast with Chris Lamberth (goes up tonight/Tuesday morning) and then I headed back to the theater to record back-to-back-podcast episodes with the guys behind the Three Guys On podcast.  Then, with 7 hours of my life gone I felt like I had had a busy day of accomplishments, until I realized all I had done was record three podcast episodes.  The show was not until 10pm so I had more time to kill so I grabbed dinner with my buddy Ross, whose wedding was chronicled in last week’s blog post.  He then revealed a  truly shocking pair of opinions to me: he is a huge fan of The Leftovers and hated Guardians of the Galaxy.  I asked him when he was joining up with ISIS, since he clearly hates America.

The show was surprisingly packed, sold a few more CDs and then headed back to the hotel. Sadly, my trip back to NYC this morning has been punctuated by a disturbing amount of people in my Acela train car with bare feet up in the air or on their seats.  I am so tired of people putting their feet everywhere like the world is their foot rest.  Feet, whether covered or not, belong on the floor, unless you are in your own home.  And no one wants to see your feet.  I have been angry about this and not many people articulate it better than Adam Carolla in his new book President Me.  From my perspective it is one of those things that is wrong, but the burden shifts to the complainer if you complain.  Like being owed $5.  The person should just pay you back, but if you ask for it back too often you will get the “Jeessh, alright – it’s just $5!!!”and YOU end up feeling like an asshole even though they owe you money.  Put your shoes on people and keep them on the ground.  Other than that, really successful trip to DC.  Hope to see some of you people at the DC Improv October 24-26 when I am back (assuming the people at the shows read this blog).

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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Comedy Recap: Early Wake-Ups, Soccer and Stand-Up in DC

This weekend I was in DC to emcee some shows for Sebastian Maniscalco, which meant, per my usual DC arrangements, rooming with my 5 year old nephew for the weekend.  He has been pretty cool about me cramping his bachelor lifestyle in the past and this weekend was no different.  Of course arriving at home at 1am each night and then waking up to a fully alert nephew at 615am each morning to discuss soccer and/or dinosaurs (my nephew’s two favorite topics, though showing him highlights of Vince Carter on YouTube may have given my nephew a new interest to supplant his Carmelo Anthony/JR Smith fan club membership) is not ideal, but so be it.  My younger nephew’s motto is “I do more before 9 am than my lazy, underachieving uncle does all day.”  My older nephew, who is up even earlier on a consistent basis, which is why the two ‘phews don’t share a room, has been described as Mel Kiper Jr. as having a “great motor.”  I feel like Shaq the Buick salesman trying to keep up with two Russell Westbrooks.

On Saturday I went to watch the younger nephew play soccer where he has been dominating (they instituted a rule, based on his dominance, that if you score two goals you then need to go to defense). However, I was meeting my brother at the game and I arrived before him, which was a real wake up call.  Like most adult males I have a hard time coming to grips that I am a grown up.  I am 33 years old, but it still feels like an insult when people call me “sir.”  My brain keeps telling me that I am just out of college and still a young buck, but the fatigue under my eyes and expanded waist line tell me I am a man.  But it is a true rude awakening when you arrive at a park by yourself and are watching a bunch of 5 year olds that you don’t know play soccer.  That is when it hits you, through a series of curious stares from parents, that you are in fact an adult man.  Thankfully my nephew arrived shortly thereafter and I stopped handing out Second Mile Charity fliers.

My nephew dropped a hat trick, including a coast-to-coast third goal after being placed on defense (I particularly liked it when he said “fu*k your rules losers” or that might have just been me yelling that).  I am now searching for whoever the youth soccer equivalent of Bela Karolyi is so I can get this kid to maximize his potential.  His initials are JLC and it is high time a JLC bring pride to our family, instead of shame.

But the main point of the visit to DC, other than to buy discounted cigarettes for my mother (I assume at some point Mayor Bloomberg is going to make me a poster child for a crackdown on people circumventing the NYC cigarette taxes), was to host shows at the DC Improv. I was opening for Sebastian Maniscalco.  It was a really fun week.  The crowds were great and I was really surprised by Sebastian.  I had watched a couple of clips on line before working with him, but in a way that really underscored how important the live show is to stand-up comedy, even though the live show is starting to become just part of a comedian’s package instead of the major selling point, Sebastian’s live show was fantastic in a way YouTube clips cannot capture.  One of my great aversions is when someone tells me that I need to develop my character.  I always want to say, “my character is that I am a funny person with good, original material.”  But watching Sebastian was cool because he has a definitive character on stage, but it works hand in hand with the material, rather than trumping it.  With the help of a buddy who came by and watched one of the Friday shows we determined that Sebastian was a combo of Boardwalk Empire’s Gyp Rosetti and Brian Regan.

So the comedy was great this week.  My sets went great, the feature, Francisco Ramos, did great, and Sebastian crushed each show.  Both guys were cool to chat with and it was nice to see crowds appreciating different sensibilities all on one show (but DC always has some of the best crowds in the country).  Made me feel happy to be doing live comedy.

Now the good news – my calendar is empty of road work until July 18th.  So do the right thing and get tickets to my CD recording in NYC on May 18th HERE.

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