This week’s blog was supposed to be about the erosion of etiquette at the theatre and how that spells so much more doom for society. That can wait until next week. This week, due to both inspiration and time crunch, I will be writing about the man that I think best embodies the Republican Party more than any human alive. That man is Robert James Ritchie, AKA Kid Rock (there will be no pictures of Kid Rock due to me being scared off of using copyright-protected photos – podcast listeners know to what I refer – so pictures of my dog Cookie, who is dirty blonde and was found abandoned in a Kentucky trailer park, will have to act as stand-ins – the pic to the left is Cookie with her Donald Trump chew toy).
Now full disclosure – I am not one of these people who just reflexively dismisses Kid Rock like a progressive hack. I own several of his albums and to this day will defend his breakout album, Devil without a Cause, as a great album (and Rolling Stone picked him as their 1999 male artist of the year for that album). But given multiple decades to absorb the man’s place in our culture, mostly against my will, I have come to see him as much more than a top tier artist of the 90s-2000s rap-rock hybrid era (Linkin Park as the best and most unscathed member of this genre). I now see him as the embodiment of the modern GOP.
One hallmark of Kid Rock’s persona is a brash, flag waving patriotism that would come across as sacrilegious to anyone with a brain. Rock’s patriotism is the “How dare Colin Kaepernick kneel for the anthem – now watch two strippers twerk while I throw up middle fingers with the American flag in the background because AMERICA!” Like the thousands of mostly white dudes across American sports arenas who scream, shout and stuff hot dogs down their throats as the anthem plays, but will condemn anyone who doesn’t show proper respect (especially if they look different than them), Rock is the ultimate do as I say and not as I do patriot.
“Black Chick, White Guy”
Taylor Swift used country music as her path of least resistance in the musical world and then slowly, but surely, turned herself into a pop music megastar (I, for one, appreciate her honesty in making the full transition to pop, versus a lot of what passes as country music today, pop music with a little twang and a lot of fear of leaving the warm bosom of country music). Rock took a more conventional American path to music stardom – he immersed himself in Black art, rap to be specific, but like a stand up comedian failing to generate likes, he retreated into aggressive whiteness after his career regressed to the mean, after initial success (a song about an interracial relationship where he drops the N word might have been a harbinger of things to come – though artistically defensible when you hear the song, it becomes even more uncomfortable when the man becomes a Trump supporter who says things like “Fu*k Oprah” (disliking or disagreeing with Oprah is obviously not a crime or racist, but it certainly doesn’t look or sound great when factoring the totality of the Kid Rock circumstances)). But the point of this is using Black art/culture/proximity as a shield, but then denigrating Black people and supporting racist politicians when not appearing racist is no longer useful, is very GOP.
“I’m a Cowboy Baby!”
(Don’t even try to tell me this is not a good song) From what I have read Kid Rock grew up a well off suburban kid and has grown into a very rich adult. But his image is clearly as a man of the trailer park-oxy abusing people! From the stringy hair, the ratty mustache and the fur coat-wife beater couture, he is clearly cultivating an unemployed-just won a scratch off-working man-without a real job persona. And is there anything more Republican than pretending to be one of the people? From Reagan’s actor-politician who hates Hollywood and Washington, DC to George W. Bush’s Connecticut Cowboy to Donald Trump’s deep contempt for his own voters, but willingness to be their “retribution,” the modern GOP is one big cosplay act. Only H.W. Bush seemed to be true to the fancy pants that he was in real life and he got voted out after one term.
“Only God Knows Why”
This song is a damn masterpiece. I know it is, because a friend of mine in college, who hated Kid Rock, was deeply distressed when he found out the song he liked was, in fact, a very off brand, auto-tuned ballad by Kid Rock.
If ever there could be an anthem for the modern, Trump GOP, I think it would be Only God Knows Why. The lyrics that most reflect this are as follows:
I said it too many times and I still stand firm You get what you put in And people get what they deserve
Still I ain’t seen mine No, I ain’t seen mine I’ve been givin’, just ain’t been gettin’ I’ve been walkin’ that there line
So I think I’ll keep a walkin’ With my head held high I’ll keep movin’ on And only God knows why
The inherent contradiction in these lines, though poetically frustrating, are also the perfect embodiment of the modern GOP’s hypocrisy. I believe with all my heart that hard work and personal responsibility pay off, BUT IT IS NOT WORKING FOR ME! Well which is it? Is it personal responsibility for everyone, or is it others who are not working hard, but for folks like Kid Rock, it is actually an unjust tragedy that his hard work is not paying off? If not for his politics and generally offensive nature, I would say the song is a laudable lament of a world that seems to contradict the values it espouses. But knowing now who Kid Rock is, it sounds more like hypocritical bitching and is there any better way to describe the modern GOP than hypocritical bitches?
As I listen to podcasts and read articles about the hopes of conservatives have of getting a “pro-life” judge on the Supreme Court to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I feel like it is time to update Christianity and the Bible for Trump Christians. For example, Jesus 1.0 asked “What does it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” But wouldn’t Jesus 2.0 say “When you’re a celebrity they let you do it?” And when Jesus 1.0 said “Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” wasn’t he just being an unsuccessful loser? Wouldn’t Jesus 2.0 say “Please donate so I can buy a private jet to deliver the Gospel?”
I think of this as Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the front runner for the Supreme Court nomination because of her strong legal credentials and even more importantly, her pro-life credentials. She is a Catholic, as am I, and yet no one seems to have asked if she thinks the death penalty is unconstitutional. She also has a special needs child that she chose to keep (a beautiful personal choice for sure) and she adopted two Haitian children (I am sure she won’t mind thanking a man who called their native country a shithole) so she seems to walk the walk. I don’t know if she is as dedicated to abolishing the death penalty, but my guess is not. Perhaps it is because, despite her Catholicism, she shares a lot in common with Trump Christians. Trump Christians, previously known as Conservative Christians or Conservative Evangelical Christians, appear to believe in a Jesus-less brand of Christianity. They are people who appear to have replaced John the Baptist with Ralph Reed and Jesus with Donald Trump (after all, Jesus was not actually a Christian, as I have pointed out in many of my satirical Trump videos). I think conservative Christians in this country are basically savvy marketers who have chosen to adopt the wrath of the Old Testament with the popular branding of Jesus, while ignoring what Jesus said. After all, if they only like the Old Testament then that would make them Jews (“yikes!” said the conservative followers of Christ who think supporting Israel to bring about Judgment Day constitutes supporting Jews). If this were a modern day conservative Christian marketing team, Jesus would be complaining to the press that he was brought in for PR and diversity numbers but that his views are not being heard or respected.
So because Jesus is basically being used for branding purposes I think it is time to start redefining Trump Christians from the ground up. So let’s start with the Ten (Trump) Commandments for Conservative Evangelical Trump Christians:
Trump is the Lord Thy God and anyone who contradicts Him is Fake News/Fake gods
Thou Shalt Allow The Trump’s Name to be taken in vain if it constitutes a lucrative branding deal
Remember that standing in front of a Church holding a Bible after violently removing peaceful protesters is even better than keeping the Sabbath
Honor They Father and Mother as long as he supports Trump and she is hot
Thou shall not question how many people died as a result of Trump’s actions or inactions; thou shall be ok with death penalty and abortion shall be ok if the pregnant woman is a mistress of a wealthy Republican
Thou shall not be judged for committing adultery if you are Trump or work for Trump
Thou shall consider stealing by Trump or Republicans smart and strong
Thou shall not be held accountable for bearing false witness if you are Trump or work for Trump
Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, but you may bang thy neighbor’s Republican wife if her Christian husband pays you to and watches
Thou shall not allow people to move into your neighborhood for fear that because of their skin color they will covet your goods
So now we are finally building the foundation for a more honest and righteous Trump Christianity – actually Jesus was sort of too nice, so let’s just call these folks Trumpians.
A middle child of privilege. A man with deep contempt for the majority of Americans and its principles. A man who used a warped vision of a world religion to produce fanaticism among his followers. A man whose leadership has led to the death of thousands of Americans. This is a description of Donald Trump, though you could be forgiven for thinking I was referencing Osama bin Laden. In America, we have become reflexively accustomed to equating terrorist with Muslim and/or Brown, but make no mistake: Donald Trump is a terrorist. His whole life he has lacked both courage and faith, but do not think of him as a fanatical warrior engaging in actions that strike fear into people. Think of him more as the leader who issues orders and spouts religious platitudes while committing adultery and looking at porn in his private quarters. Dictionary.com defines terrorism as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” By that definition can there be any doubt?
I think I need to acknowledge the fact that many people colloquially think of a terrorist as a sort of violent, religious fanatic, or at least someone conducting their terror with religious undertones. Obviously the definition does not require this, but real life and dictionary definitions can often diverge. For those more inclined to link terror with religion, I would ask: doesn’t Donald Trump often wed a religious fanaticism to his political objectives? Donald Trump has no religious convictions, but is very happy to weaponize religion to suit his pursuit of power. As I have often thought of some fundamentalists (I am a Mass-attending Catholic for what it’s worth), faith becomes a post-fact rationalization for desired effects. For some it is violence. For many it is misogyny. For some it is to repress things about themselves. For Trump it has been an easy way to weaponize a group of people who want to win more than they want to embody Christ. He clearly believes in none of it, but he is willing to conduct violence on peaceful protesters just to send signals to his true believers that he is a tip of their religious spear. Combine that with lies and misrepresentations about abortion and inane declarations like “Joe Biden wants to hurt God” or “get rid of Churches” and you have effectively primed your religious fanatics for a Holy War (likely with trademarked merchandise).
Violence For Political Purpose
Donald Trump issues calls to violence repeatedly but because he and his followers are white, “Christian” men they are called patriots instead of armed fanatics following their leader’s fatwas From claiming “2nd Amendment people” could take care of candidate Hillary Clinton, to demanding Michigan and Virginia be “liberated” (and a non-vague reference to the 2nd Amendment in Virginia’s case) he has consistently encouraged violence on the part of his followers as the way to fight for his cause (himself). He could not even bring himself to condemn the racists in Charlottesville because it would have contradicted his one and only goal: retaining his most fanatical and solid supporters. The political aim is always about him and his reelection and he will both encourage violence and ignore violence if it clashes with his sacred purpose of protecting Donald Trump’s power.
But beyond his direct calls for, or ignoring of, actual violence Donald Trump’s self-absorbed “leadership” has also cost tens of thousands of lives. Not pursuing Russian bounties on U.S. troops, lying about the risks of Covid to protect his economic numbers, failing to properly provide for the American people and then diminishing the risks of Covid again as the election nears he has shown at best, a grave indifference to the lives of American people, especially those in Blue states. In other words, those who did not support him were expendable. If “Terrorism by omission” were ever a thing he would be its supreme leader.
In summary, Trump encourages violence, looks the other way when his supporters engage in violence and prioritizes his reelection over the safety of Americans, especially the ones from places that do not support him. And as the cherry on top, sometimes, “friends” of his like Herman Cain are simply collateral damage. Unwitting suicide bombers in a Trump 2020 jihad.
Donald Trump Serves Donald Trump
These words will come off as sensationalist or incendiary to some, but I mean them. If Donald Trump were running another Democracy this way we would be encouraging new leadership. If he were in charge of a young democracy or a developing nation I think we would either have the CIA or SEAL Team 6 seeking his ouster and would cheer his downfall as a victory for Democracy. But he is a white, American, self-proclaimed Christian and he is afforded all the protections those labels provide while representing a daily threat to human life, Democracy and the founding principles of this country. Fans of Trump, like the rabid moron Alex Jones, love to claim that 9/11 was an inside job. Well, Trump actually is an inside job. We put him in office and he is causing more death and lasting damage through commission and omission than any terrorist ever has or ever could.
As heinous as 9/11 it did not break us as a country. In fact it unified the country, at least in the pre-Iraq War days. Donald Trump’s brand of terror is not an isolated incident. It is a governing strategy and personal philosophy and it is ongoing. Donald Trump’s terrorism does not profess to serve God or Yahweh or Allah. He serves himself and is willing to sacrifice all in that service and that should earn him at least as much scorn and condemnation as the agents of death and fanaticism that have preceded him.
In response to Charlotte not willing to guarantee a Covid orgy for Donald Trump’s August convention, Trump and the RNC, in a joint statement early Sunday morning, announced that the convention would be held at the end of August at a Hooters restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. “We wanted a restaurant that reflected both our Christian values and could provide the kind of sweaty intimacy that the President wants for his convention,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the RNC. “It’s like the original Hooters and also in a great state of Florida so those are two things I really appreciate,” Trump emphasized. “Great food, great people and women who have to pretend to be nice to you while you drool over them is what makes America great so I am proud to have our great convention at Clearwater Hooters.”
In addition to the location change, which was praised by faith leaders Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham and Ralph Reed, the announcement also provided a detailed itinerary of the convention:
Monday August 24 – “All Lives Matter”
Opening prayer by Joel Osteen
Sheriff David Clarke (AKA “Angry Hootie”) will take the stage, scream “Blue Lives Matter” and shoot himself to prove solidarity with his fellow officers and convention goers
Steve King will endorse Donald Trump while urinating on an immigrant child in a cage
Tuesday August 25 – “The Real America”
A salute to Patriot Farmers will feature a selection of songs by Kid Rock and Ted Nugent and a documentary about the beauty of the teenage women growing up on farms, narrated by James Woods.
The “Jews will not replace us” marchers from Charlottesville will take the stage in a powerful moment to honor Robert E Lee and Strom Thurmond.
Keynote speaker: Don Trump Jr will be introduced by his girlfriend Kim Guilfoyle, who will not at all wonder how she went from Gavin Newsome to Donald Trump, Jr. Junior will announce his plan to run for office in 2024 and will humanize his father with a speech expected to highlight the time his father said he didn’t want his first born to be a Jr “in case he is a loser” as well as the time his father bitch slapped him while he was a student at Penn.
Wednesday August 26 – “Faith and Guns”
Dana Loesch of the NRA will come out after the opening prayer and make herself climax using a loaded AR-15.
Alex Jones will eat his neighbor’s body on stage.
Pastor Robert Jeffres will set fire to a copy of the Koran
Vice President Pence, introduced by Jerry Falwell’s pool boy, will declare Donald Trump the greatest force God has ever unleashed on America and that Covid, like being gay, is just something we needed the strength to overcome.
Thursday August 27 – “Keep America Great”
Candace Owens will start the evening by walking on stage with George Zimmerman and the officers that killed Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and George Floyd (following his pardon by President Trump) and declare “It’s time to get off the Black Lives Matter/DNC plantation.” She will then announce a new dating show on OAN where she will choose from among 10 cops who have killed black men/boys to get engaged. It will be called Tie the Knot.
Jon Voight will introduce President Trump declaring him the greatest leader in the history of mankind. Voight will also apologize for having a black son on the show Ray Donovan.
President Trump will take the stage as MAGA children bring up surgical masks on stage for a giant burning. Stephen Miller’s wife will then give birth to a demon live on stage. Ivanka will parade the stage in a bikini while Trump speaks. He will then end his speech with a threeway kiss with Ivanka and Melania and declare his second term “The Wild Things presidency.” Balloons filled with hydrochloroquine will fall from the ceiling.
It has been two months since I went viral with Donald Trump vs God on Easter PPV, though the first video was even earlier on March 11, 2020. Because the Twitter algorithm has people missing some videos, two pieces of advice for fans on Memorial Day. One, subscribe to my YouTube channel. You will not miss a video and the views I get on YouTube pay me (versus the views on Twitter which just make my ego feel good, but do nothing for my bank account). Two – share the list I am about to share far and wide with people who are fans and those who have never heard of me. If you do enjoy the impression and have money to spare (subscribing on YouTube costs nothing, if you are not aware) then go get Fireside Craps: The Deuce (dominated the iTunes and Amazon comedy charts for 2 weeks this month) on iTunes or Amazon. OK, without further adieu, here are the top 10 videos of the #TrumPandemic that the J-L Video Committee (me) decided on as the top 10 (all are superb so the deciding was very tough):
10. Donald Trump Encourages People to Drink Diet Fresca
9. Donald Trump Mourns Brian Dennehy (one of two videos that cracked me up and needed re-filming)
8. Donald Trump vs God Easter PPV (the one that went viral and started this)
7. Donald Trump Appoints James Woods (the definitive “reading” Trump)
6. Donald Trump Angry with Georgia (feat. JB Smoove)
5. Donald Trump Reviews Joe Biden’s Appearance on The Breakfast Club
4. New Easter (feat. Andrew Cuomo)
3. Trump Congratulates Tiffany Trump on Law School Graduation
2. Trump Re-Opens Mar-A-Lago
And the Number One for me was a no-brainer. It is the video I had to re-film multiple times because I kept cracking myself up.
1. Donald Trump Is Concerned for Kim Jong Un’s Health
(Disclaimer – I know Stugotz will not read this due to length, someone please give him a cheat sheet… I get the show)
By way of introduction I have been performing stand up comedy for a few months over 15 years when I started midway through law school in Washington, D.C. as a much needed stress release. I have been making sketch videos on YouTube since 2009 and have been podcasting for just under 7 years. I have been doing impressions since 6th grade when my Jean-Claude Van Damme impression became a favorite among my friends. My stand up career was largely started on impressions, both hacky (Schwarzenegger, DeNiro) and not so hacky (Owen Wilson, Jack Bauer, to name a couple), but as life experiences, good, bad and ugly accumulated, my stand up became a place for me to explore my thoughts about my life and the world. As a reuslt I began to steer my impressions to my YouTube channel. It was from that YouTube channel that I would find a way into The Dan Lebatard Show, ESPN’s most downloaded radio show/podcast, first in 2014 and then in a much more substantial way starting in 2016.
The Dan Lebatard Show is my favorite podcast. It prides itself on its anti-sports show sports show, much to the humorous chagrin of co-host Stugotz. They speak intelligently and nuanced on sports and culture, they get great guests and have a great roster of regulars (the great Bomani Jones, Greg Cote and Stan Van Gundy to name a few that are not Pablo Torre or Marty Smith – I may “get the show” but I still don’t get the appeal of “Marty Party”). And then there is the crew inside the show, the “Shipping Container of Frightened Refugees.” Chris Cote (the most underrated member of the whole show IMO), Billy Gil (if sports radio were Moneyball ESPN might view him as a better value Stugotz), Roy Bellamy (the quietest member of the crew, which makes his contributions, even “Roy’s Realm” which grew on me quickly, admittedly because of Chris Cote’s background, pleasant surprises) and of course, Mike Ryan, the undisputed leader of the SCoFR and almost their representative in the triumvirate of Dan, Stugotz and Mike – sort of the Westbrook of the Shipping Container and the Bosh of the Big Three. The most appealing thing of all about the show when it came to me, a comedian who loves sports, was the fact that humor is almost on equal footing, if not above sports, in terms of the qualities the show most valued. They also incorporate fan content to a very large degree, creating loyalty and interaction, if not attribution, integral in building a great brand in 2018. I was one of those fans who contributed and was given attribution, likely because I do this for a living (or did) and because it was wildly popular with the show and its audience. But it was shut down (twice) without warning, explanation or merit and that is what this will be about.
My name is J-L Cauvin and if you have not heard of me that is understandable and one more reason why I have to write this. It is my relative anonymity that made my dismissal so easy, even though my work was much more well known than me.
I became aware of The Dan Lebatard Show, much like many non-Floridians, when Lebron James signed with the Miami Heat in 2010. A few days after Lebron’s Decision, a friend sent me a photo montage on YouTube set to the Lebatard rant. I must have watched it 20 times at least. It was hilarious. Shortly thereafter I began listening to the show and by 2011 I was a regular listener. 5 days a week downloading the podcast.
In 2014 I created a web series called Louis CK’s Comedy Academy, where I impersonated various comedians teaching assorted comedy disciplines at a fictional school. If you count the 30K views the preview video got, the series generated around 70K total views – certainly not viral, but also not nothing. One of the videos in the series was George Lopez teaching Latino Comedy. When Dan went off on how he didn’t like George Lopez’ comedy later that year I figured this was my opening to contribute to the show and get a little bit of shine myself. And Dan did play it on the air and for my work I received a Dan Lebatard Show t-shirt. Other than my Late Late Show t-shirt, which I foolishly gave to a woman I was dating, incorrectly assuming I would get many more late night TV spots and the associated swag that accompanies said spots, the Lebatard shirt was the only shirt I had received marking a comedy accomplishment (distinguishing it from the Salvation Army store room worth of comedy festival t-shirts I have accumulated in my apartment throughout my years performing).
I continued devouring the show through 2015 when a certain orange man announced his candidacy for the presidency by calling Mexicans rapists. I had already been working hard on my impression of Donald Trump, and getting some work with it, when in 2016 Stugotz said something that made me think “who does that remind me of?”
The Birth and (First) Death of Trumpgotz
Trumpgotz was born on September 23, 2016. I sent it to the show after hearing Stugotz go off on Chris Bosh’s health issues with the Miami Heat. The certainty and inconsistency of Stugotz talking about medicine and pro sports felt so Trump-ish that I decided to record the quotes, word-for-word, as Trump. The result was a lot of Twitter praise and followers and a video that now sits at just under 15K views. I made several more for the show that Fall to the same effect.
But as the Podcast Lord giveth, He taketh away. Around February 2017 Stugotz began ignoring my tweets and the show stopped playing the sound on air, despite the consistent hits and praise for the subsequent submissions that did make it to the air. I just assumed the show no longer wanted them and was moving on. I was disappointed, but after over a decade in stand up I was used to things going up and down and usually ending down. I kept listening to the show and just hoped I could find another angle or break to keep my career mildly relevant.
Dan Resurrects Trumpgotz
To my surprise in June 2017, after many months of not being on the show, Dan asked on air (slight paraphrase), “Whatever happened to Trumpgotz? Those were funny, right? Put it on the poll, ‘Was Trumpgotz one of the funniest things on the show?'” Over 11k responded to the Twitter poll (not an exact science I know) and almost 9K said yes. On air Stugotz offered a reluctant finger point at Mike Ryan, who it seemed clear had unilaterally decided Trumpgotz was no longer funny.
Mike Ryan is the glue guy of The Dan Lebatard Show – he can have moments of virtuosity (if his Mel Kiper as Beyoncé scouting reporter was truly off the cuff it was genius) and he is generally well versed in pop culture, sports and (sigh) music that he can have starring moments on the show, as well as all the excellent production off air he does. But, as a stand up comedian who has worked with many funny people who are comedians as well as not, there is always a slightly thirsty aspect to his humor. His impressions, praised by Dan, tend to either be remixes of Frank Caliendo (the Mel Kiper technically just sounds like someone who studied Caliendo as a cheat sheet) and his others tend to be some version of Vincent D’Onofrio in Men In Black (which did get Mike a little hot under the collar on an episode) – Andrew Luck-D’Onofrio, Demon of D’Onofrio Debate – gee I wonder if Mike has an impression yet of Wilson Fisk on Daredevil! He enjoys a sort of fiefdom on the show as the resident comic genius, that is not really a threat from celebrities, whose level he does not compete at, nor is he threatened by the hundreds of one-off contributions from fans. But a regular contribution from someone at least in the talent and stature zip code (though not number of Twitter followers) might pose more of a threat to his ego. And when it comes to comedy bona fides it isn’t a contest.
But with the rest of the show and the audience providing overwhelming contrary opinion Trumpgotz was back! I began cranking out almost weekly videos and was getting direct messages from Stugotz when he thought a particular rant during the day (knowing I was an out of town podcast listener) might be a good one for Trumpgotz. Hank Azaria, voice over artist extraordinaire called my Trump impression “astounding. Ten out of ten.” on the show. That probably represented the high water mark for Trumpgotz. Hank Azaria – Queens born, went to Tufts University, worth $75 million was someone I could identify with. I am Bronx born (both outer borough), went to Williams College (fellow member of the NESCAC) and I have $750 dollars in the bank. For him to give me that type of praise only solidified, even if only for one impression in my comedic arsenal, my hope that there was still hope for me in comedy. By mid 2018 I thought, with my new stand up album, Thots & Prayers, recording later that year I might have a chance to make a move with the show. What if, based on two years of popular and unpaid contributions, the show would grant me one hour, in studio, in character as Trumpgotz to offer hot takes, etc. in exchange for a couple of plugs for the new album. Sort of a junior version of Azaria’s 3 hours to promote Brockmire? Sure it was a long shot, but it also was not absurd to think it a possibility. With the loyalty and size of the show’s audience and their enjoyment of Trumpgotz I really thought 1000 sales might not be outrageous, which could yield me $15K. Not Taylor Swift numbers, but when you have atrophied your Georgetown Law degree and poured everything you have into a career, that kind of money can give you a respite from living month to month. Already an unlikelihood though, July 4, 2018 made it an impossibility.
Dead on the 4th of July
In June 2018 (I think) Donald Trump was ridiculed for mumbling/not knowing the words to America The Beautiful or the National Anthem. I was contacted by a fan of The Lebatard Show who got my information from Mike Ryan (sidenote – as of this typing the only two people affiliated with the show that do not follow me on Twitter are Mike Ryan and the show account, which I believe Ryan has access to or control over). The fan wanted to know if I would record a Trump-inspired version of America The Beautiful for his podcast. Disclaimer – the song referred to Hillary Clinton as a c*nt and to President Obama as a monkey. As someone who believes Trump is a clear cut racist I viewed these as words simply in keeping with a character. Dan always says he wants to have Quentin Tarantino on the show and presumably he has heard the language that Tarantino has written and does not ascribe it to Tarantino the person. Similarly, Alec Baldwin (and his vastly inferior Trump impression) had become chummy with the show as of my last listening and yet he has a history (and present) of real life action that is less than positive. But at the time I thought nothing of it – sure the language is offensive and wrong, but it is in keeping with the racist person I am portraying. I sang the song and was actually quite proud, considering I am not a singer, of being able to sing and maintain the impression. The podcaster/fan was very pleased and thankful (I did it for free) and he posted it to YouTube on July 4th.
Within 3 hours (and less than 200 views) of it going live I got a direct message from the podcaster. He told me that Mike Ryan had said the following (these are second hand quotes from the podcaster that I am copying from my DMs):
Mike Ryan isn’t happy about the sketch.
He asked me to take it down.
Said it’s going to be a major headache for him. That he can’t be associated with it.
He seems like he is at a point where if we don’t take it down he wont work with you anymore
These were all messages sent to me within one minute of each other. I then told the podcaster to please take it down and he did. Less than 200 views and I am guessing Disney and ESPN brass were not among those viewers to rush to a video making fun of Trump by relatively unknown Miami-based podcasters with no affiliation to ESPN or Disney. But Mike Ryan certainly was one of those less than 200 people to rush to the video. The man whose impressions were Diddy remixes compared to my Trump had placed me in contact with the very podcaster whose offensive song would supply a (questionably) valid reason for him to ban me from the show (versus his arbitrary and solitary decision to stop playing my audio in 2017 – now he had cause, either coincidental or manufactured). I am not a conspiracy hack and don’t even actually think Ryan could be this cunning, but it is worth at least pondering.
I submitted 2 other videos in the next two weeks, believing that my quick action at the behest of Mike Ryan was enough to maintain my relationship with the show. They were ignored by every member of the show I tweeted them to and were never played, despite actual requests every week since July for Trumpgotz on the show. And Trumpgotz was not among the 30+ impressions nominated for best impression during the show’s annual awards in August. But in case you think my content is too toxic for the show, the day Greg Cote leaked Dan’s engagement I tweeted the show, leaving out one person intentionally but sending it to Billy, Roy, Chris, Stugotz and the show. It read “Stat of the Day: Dan’s fiancée was not born when Die Hard came out.”
Without attribution Mike Ryan made the joke a few minutes later on air.
So I sit here in a midtown Manhattan Starbucks (I guess transitioning from my career as failed stand up comedian to future failed screenwriter?) finishing this. My (double) album, Thots & Prayers is better than I had ever hoped and even has a 5 minute bit about the OJ Simpson documentary, partially inspired by Dan Lebatard’s commentary on it (if you were a fan of Trumpgotz you can go get it on iTunes or other platforms if you want to show some support, but I don’t expect many of you to and that is not the purpose of this writing). But it has also sold poorly in relation to my previous releases. I can’t help but be slightly bitter than the 1% chance I had to have it blow up through an ESPN platform was snuffed out, by what must be pettiness. Could I be wrong? Could Mike Ryan’s second snuffing out of Trumpgotz simply be because he was playing it safe and did not want a 150 view video of someone in character to bring down the most popular podcast at ESPN? Sure. But it’s unlikely.
I have dealt with a lot of indiginities and disappointments in my comedy career, but this may have been the most disappointing. I have no management, no agent so almost everything I have accomplished in my comedy career has been talent, work, and a touch of luck in times that tweets have been read. And the idea that someone who doesn’t even have skin in my game could see fit to shut you down simply because he can is gross. And the fact that Dan, Stugotz and the rest of the shipping container has yet to 1) bring up Trumpgotz and 2) respond to a single tweet in 4+ months referencing or requesting Trumpgotz makes me think Mike Ryan has already poisoned the well with regards to me. When he arbitrarily shut me down in 2017 he left it open to Dan remembering on air how good it was. But if he had just cause (I was a toxic comedian using foul language and slurs) then everyone would be on notice to ignore Trumpgotz. Once again – maybe I am wrong, but then what the hell is the alternate explanation for shutting down a popular segment that cost the show exactly nothing?
This may sound like ravings of a crazy fan or a bitter comedian, but my writings have covered injustices and bad practices across entertainment and media for years, obviously with a focus on stand up comedy. But the Lebatard Show meant a lot to me as a listener and as a contributor. The show seemed to have a lot of respect for comedy. In fact, whenever Dan interviewed a comedian in the last few years he always seemed to be concerned that PC culture, etc. might be making it more difficult for comedians to practice their craft. Well Dan, if you read this… the difficulty is coming from inside the house.
This weekend I purchased a Google E-book of Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, the book that summarizes the ineptitude, chaos and stupidity of the Trump presidency. I tried to buy a hard copy of the book Friday, but all copies in all NYC Barnes and Nobles sold out before lunch. So between Saturday and Sunday, in the span of under 36 hours I read the 300 pages of F&F on my computer and may have caused permanent eye damage (I am a ride or die hard copy reader of books and newspapers for good reason). You may be wondering, but J-L, even though your comedy career is a wasteland of bitterness and non-bookings, why use your free time to read the book in such a short time? The reason is to create an abridged audio book of F&F in Donald Trump’s voice for the people! So, with no further introduction here is the 8 part abridged audio book of Fire and Fury as read by Donald Trump (it’s 2 hours of listening so my suggestion is that you just listen to the videos in the playlist format (like a YouTube podcast) and if you enjoy them share on social media (or email) with friends. #MAGA
It cannot be argued that Donald Trump is intellectually, morally, emotionally and mentally unequipped to be president. He doesn’t read (he prefers briefings with “killer graphics” according to a member of his cabinet) and he seems to have no greater than a 7th grader’s knowledge of our institutions. He has no moral compass beyond “is it good for me” and as a parent he seems to have only passed on a name and equally shitty character. Now of course, you can make an argument for this man as a human being or as president, but in either case you are wrong. In baseball when a player has all the necessary skills to succeed he is referred to as a “5 tool player.” In Trump’s case he is the exact opposite – as a president he is a “5 failure tool” (sorry if this feels like I am pulling a Tom Friedman – trying to coin my own phrase). Emotionally unstable, morally bankrupt, selfish, stupid and arrogant – literally a Voltron of the 5 traits you would want least in a leader – and he has all 5 in abundance. But this is not about stating the facts. They are not in dispute among anyone not brainwashed or brain dead. This is about the people who don’t hate Trump and don’t support him, but for those faux intellectual warriors on social media I call the “One Dollar Bet” people.
On The Price is Right when contestants bid on the price of items to be selected to come to stage the last person will often bet $1. The reason for this is any bid that goes over the price of the item is disqualified. Therefore, if you bid $1 all you are saying is “I think everyone went over so even if I am the farthest away from the price of the item, I win by default.” That is sometimes a good strategy on the game show, but when discussing issues of the day these people act like their $1 “objectivity” lends them some sort of intellectual heft. In fact they look just as stupid as the wrong side, but without the passionate support to at least provide justification for their stupidity.
These are the people that used to say “I am not a scientist” when it comes to climate change. WOW – how brave. By saying you aren’t a scientist ($1 bet) you now have absolved yourself from listening to or believing scientists? Maybe the creationist CEO of the oil company is right that climate change is a hoax! Maybe Trump is right that it is a Chinese hoax – I DON’T KNOW BECAUSE I AM NOT A SCIENTIST.
Now these folks have evolved into the “I don’t like Trump. Heck I didn’t vote for him, but both sides are bad! Hillary was bad too!” Oh shut up you One Dollar Betting Bitch! First off a vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is not even a $1 bet. It is more like when Drew Carey or Bob Barker called your name to come on down and instead of coming down you went outside the studio and burned your name tag. But now these morons have evolved from the types that question scientists’ on climate change (AND PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND THAT YOU BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE IF YOU ARE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE – CLIMATE CHANGE IS AN EXAMPLE, NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF HOW YOU ARE INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST) to now demanding rigorous evidence from every commenter on social media:
There seems to be collusion with Russia – WHAT IS YOUR EVIDENCE? – Ummm, common sense
(a few months later) There have been contacts with Russian – SAYS WHO – Ummmm Donald Trump Jr.
(a few days later) The emails say they intended to collect dirt on Hillary thinking it was Russian government intel – SAYS WHO – DO YOU HAVE DNA EVIDENCE AND VIDEO TAPE PROOF? WHERE IS IT? YOU ARE REALLY REACHING HERE!
This kind of shit just keeps happening. The $1 bet people keep puffing out their chests like they are Copernicus challenging whether the Sun revolves around the Earth, but they are really just Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun insisting there is nothing to see while the store behind him explodes. You can have your vote and your opinions – but stop pretending that ignoring facts and being a simpleton makes you an intellectual heavyweight. It just makes you complicit in an administration that should have an approval rating of a terror attack instead of in the high 30s.
And this goes for a lot of independents as well (the Kings and Queens of the $1 bet in many cases). Standing outside the parties may win you moral points and (for left leaning indies) make you feel a strong kinship with Bernie (who still insists on using as much of the Democratic establishment he can while not joining so he can just bitch about it, keeping up his brand). So keep complaining about the system, remaining an independent (I would be curious how many independents actually show wide variance in the parties they support from election to election) and be sure to complain about the parties not letting you vote in primaries as you insist on not joining the parties. I am not saying some people are not truly independent and do not have valid concerns, but I genuinely believe a lot of independents care more about feeling independent than actually maintaining some sort of political independence.
But at the end of the day yes, it is all Hillary’s fault. Because “any decent candidate would have crushed Trump.” But if that is true, then why after watching President Sleeper Cell destroy America’s credibility from within and put millions of people’s health care and safety at risk every time he has a thought, are his ratings still around 40%? Maybe the country, full of hate and morons has its own issues and the cure may not be “Hillary was bad too.” But keep making your $1 bets if it makes you feel good. I am sure you will get some nice parting gifts.
In Ace Ventura’s voice: “Trump is Jackson… Jackson is Trump… Jackson is a cuck!”
The two biggest news makers on my timeline (besides me and my brand new comedy album Fireside Craps – only $4.99 on iTunes) this week have been “President” Donald Trump and Knicks “President” Phil Jackson. Trump is the worst president in American History by Secretariat margins and Phil Jackson is the most inept president of a basketball team since my last NBA 2K season on Play Station. I thought a quick comparison would be interesting and it sure was.
Donald Trump entered the presidential race based on an unearned, but highly public reputation as a business genius because he turned his father’s empire and money into a bigger empire and several bankruptcies. Phil Jackson took over the Knicks with an unearned reputation as a basketball genius (whose signature offense was designed by a former assistant coach) built on the backs of 4 of the top 20 players of the last 30 years in the NBA, including 3 of the top 10.
Both have their roots in 1970s New York City – Trump as a young real estate douche bag. Phil Jackson as a player for the Knicks who threw a lot of elbows like a douche bag.
Trump took his job with no experience, but lots of unearned arrogance. He clearly did not want to live in the city of the job and believed his charisma and confidence would somehow make the job easy. Jackson had no experience in management, wanted to do the job remotely from Montana, and believed that his reputation would lure players to NYC.
Trump has been a colossal failure, unless your only reason for support is “I am a spiteful bigot so Trump is crushing it right now.” Similarly, Jackson has been a colossal failure unless your only hope for the Knicks is “Maybe they will be so bad the NBA forces James Dolan to sell the team.” Both fan bases probably hope for Trump and Jackson to say racist things on tape, but for very different reasons.
Trump has alienated allies, shown zero knowledge of politics, government or the world and has made horrible personnel decisions. Jackson has alienated fans, shown no knowledge (in fact has been dismissive) of the modern NBA and has made horrible personnel decisions (the Joachim Noah trade is his Michael Flynn, and suggesting he would trade Porzingis is basically his version of putting Jared Kushner in charge of everything).
But here is the main difference between Trump and Jackson. Trump told America all the stupid things he believed and would do. And America still elected him. But if Phil Jackson had said “I will give Joachim Noah $72 million, berate our star player and lower his trade value and then threaten to trade our best player in 2 generations” no Knick fan would have supported his hiring. So take heart Knick fans and even James Dolan; it could be worse. You could be as dumb as Trump voters. I guarantee 35% of Knicks fans are not sitting at home wearing Donald Sterling jerseys claiming that “trading Porzingis would Make the Knicks Great Again.”
I learned after writing this that Observer.com had written an article in April comparing Trump and Jackson, but mine was written without this knowledge (and is funnier).