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Comedy Weekend Recap: 2 Gigs and The Red Wedding

Friday was the rare double dip for me – I was booked on a gig at Gotham Comedy Club at 7pm and then headlining the 1030 show at Jokers Wild in New Haven. The Gotham show went quite well… for the other comedians, but I closed it to such mixed response I was hoping a Daily Beast correspondent might be tweeting about it so I could vent some aggression after.  The crowd was not large and I got great response from the comedians and half the crowd, but I am still haunted by the face of the older woman rolling her eyes and shaking her head at me during numerous bits.  It was actually a very good lineup of people I have never seen do comedy, which means Vegas has the odds of all of them advancing past me in the business within 6 months. 

After the Gotham show, Danny took me and another comedian over 6’5″ named JP (seriously – height and initials – GET YOUR OWN GIMMICK!) into his two door car and we hauled ass to New Haven for the 1030 show. With about 70 pounds and a whole lot of anger advantage over JP I was granted shotgun.  The ride to New Haven turned out to be quite fortuitous because it turns out JP does an impression of Anthony Jeselnik that is so perfect that I have cast him (instead of me) in my November/December sketch “Comedy Academy” (I will still be portraying 4-5 comedians, but I know enough not to let JP’s impression go to waste – expect a Kickstarter/shameless campaign for this one). 

We arrived in New Haven and it turned out to be mostly my favorite demographic for a comedy audience – white chicks under 26 who are friends with one of the comedians on the lineup.  I did not go up until around 12:15 am, when about 20% of the crowd had walked or passed out, but I was very proud of the set I had.   It was a combo of using good material and taking time out of each bit every few minutes to verbally spar/flirt with a group of drunk women who would not allow the show to be about anyone but them for more than the length of a Beach Boys song.  It was one of those shows where I said to myself: “I am glad for all the good gigs and especially the bad gigs that allowed me after ten years to have a combination skill set to make this a fun show, even though I had to work harder than usual.  And why have I spend over ten years honing this skill set for half a day’s pay from a law firm?  What if I just run in front of traffic right now?”  Naturally I sold no CDs after the show, but I did get about 9 appreciative handshakes, which were heartwarming.  Danny, JP and I then headed to a 24-hour Wendy’s for a victory meal (and it was also a rest stop with showers available – I wanted to check them out just to see if I would see a Republican member of the House having a gay rendezvous and break the story for a nice finder’s fee, but alas I did not – just a bunch of truckers making tender love to each other).

But for all the comedy excitement that Friday contained, it was just the undercard for the weekend.  The main event was the wedding of John Moses, a great comedian and The Great Over 30 Hope (in boxing they are always looking for a great white hope, but in comedy circles, good comedians over thirty who have not gotten their shot are looking for a Great Over 30 Hope).  Here are the notable highlights:

  • As the bridesmaids entered to a string duo playing the theme from Game of Thrones, Moses began to tear up with a smile. As I tweeted (#MosesWedding) on Saturday, it was the wedding and comedy equivalent of Rocky opening a cut on Drago in Rocky IV (“The Red Headed Tough Guy is Crying!”). He also shed tears during the vows at which point I stood up during the ceremony and yelled “If he can change, then we can all change. Everyone can change (yes I have mixed the Rocky-Drago metaphor)!!!”
  • Picking out John’s most intimidating groomsman – easy call.  Given John’s great performance on my podcast, detailing many of the brawls he has been involved in, there was one groomsman who was clearly the Ty Domi (a famous hockey enforcer who played for John’s Toronto Maple Leafs I believe) of the group – a guy who looked about 6″0″, 230lbs of ass kicker.  The kind of receding hairline that looked like his hair was just slowly sneaking away to avoid his wrath.  Basically the guy looked like an angry Stanley Tucci on a protein and creatine diet.
  • I got a laugh during the best man’s speech.  The best man was giving a great, heartfelt speech about how John did not understand “why kids were beating him up because he just wanted to be their friends” as a kid.  I let out a huge laugh (once again listen to the podcast for context), which then got a nice echo of laughter from John and some of the crowd.  I then ran up to the best man, grabbed the mic and dramatically dropped it to signify that I was done.
  • Hearing John sing a not half bad “It’s not unusual” during karaoke, which led me to believe that his management is really trying to destroy any semblance of tough guy John to try and get him a sitcom as a triple threat in the Broadway sense, instead of the criminal justice sense.
  • Sitting at a table with John’s manager.  I resisted to stand on the table and scream “I’m the fu*king Louis CK impersonator!”  Instead I just introduced myself and within 20 minutes he left the wedding.  But comedian Owen Bowness, sitting next to me, did the right thing and told the wait staff that “he didn’t know if they were still there” so that extra pieces of cake would be left at their plates and subsequently buried in my stomach.
  • Getting a ride home from the aforementioned Owen Bowness, saving me two hours on NJ Transit.

All in all a fun weekend in and around comedy.  Time to get back to submitting resumes for day jobs.

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

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Some New Clips

Hello readers, fans, and haters!  No profound thoughts on life, culture or comedy this week, so I thought I would share some new stand up bits/clips from recent shows.  Hopefully you enjoy one, some or all of them and will share one you like. Thanks, and don’t forget to check out my weekly podcast Righteous Prick on iTunes or Podomatic.

A Bronx DA Tale

From Riches to Rags

Back to Haiti

2012 Racism in NYC

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Starving Kids, Depressed Kittens & My Former Career as…

I will be writing a new post Wednesday, but I wanted to share two new videos from last week’s killer show at Gotham Comedy Club as Comedians At Law concluded our Lawmageddon Tour.  Enjoy (really one of my best sets – thanks to all who were there)

My Career as an ADA

Starving Kids vs. Depressed Kittens

Hope you enjoy and please share.  Don’t forget – my new CD is FREE on my store page for the month of April and a new episode of my podcast goes up tomorrow (all this before a new blog on Wednesday). Thanks for the support.

 

 

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The Last Bringer (part 17)

I needed a clean tape because I want to submit for a few TV things so I did a bringer last night at Gotham Comedy Club (this is what someone might say at their first meeting of Comedians Anonymous to treat their addiction to laughter-based approval from strangers).  To put that in civilian terms, imagine you are a married woman and you just found out your husband was in a gay gangbang porn film before you got married.  And all your friends have copies now.  That is the level of internal embarrassment I feel doing a bringer at this stage of my comedy career.  But more important that my sense of pride, which I abandoned sometime in 2009 with regards to my comedy career, is getting a a good clean tape.

To get on the show last night I had to scrounge together a bunch of friends, who literally represented every part of my life other than law school.  I had at least one representative from my family, family friends, high school, college, comedian friends, the Bronx DA’s office and Blank Rome (the firm I worked at).  Considering I was annoyed enough doing a bringer and the lengths I had to go to get people I said to myself that I could no longer do another bringer so I had to make last night’s set a good, nay, a great one (I also probably said this three years ago).  And as it turned out my set really did turn out great.  I have almost never been happy with a set, especially when taping it for a specific purpose, but last night was the exception.  Crowd was great and I felt like I stuck the landing.  In fact it took me longer than usual to fall into a post show funk.  Here is the set:

But it was as if Gotham knew that it would be my last bringer ever because on the lineup was Jim Gaffigan, Sherri Shepherd, Jeff Dye, Judah Friedlander and Louis C.K.  I have said and still believe plenty of terrible things about bringer shows, but last night was actually pretty damn impressive.   Oh well, thanks to everyone who came out and hopefully the tape can do some work for me.

Comics Unleashed HERE I COME!!!!

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First Comic Sitting

Well, today I had an audition for Last Comic Standing.  I did two minutes in front of three big time pros: Andy Kindler (very respected comedian), Natasha Leggero (who sort of reminded me of the lead singer of The Bangles – niiiiice) and one of my two favorite comedians, Greg Giraldo (Chris Rock the other).

From the title you can tell that I did not advance and sadly I completely agreed with the judges.  However, there is something profoundly crippling when one of your idols in your business tells you, as nicely as possible, that it wasn’t good enough.  Sort of like how Michael Jordan ruined Kwame Brown’s career by continually berating him and calling him a “faggot” in practice when he was an 18 year old rookie with the Wizards.  Kwame was never a good player after that, though he did his best to dispel the epithet by fathering a starting five and two subs with numerous women (at last check).  None of the judges were mean at all – they were quite nice and refreshingly constructive, but I hope that was not because I am almost the size of Kwame Brown and they are not Michael Jordan’s size.  I must admit though, that when Giraldo went to speak and I could see from his expression that it was going to be a very lukewarm appraisal it was one of the most painful moments of my career. 

I hope I don't end up the Kwame Brown of comedy.

I guess I came prepared with a sort of a generic set that may have worked with producers in the past, but with real, genuine comedians of a high order judging, that was a big mistake.  It seems whenever I audition for something I play it safe, probably because auditions terrify me. 

What is so bitter to take is that this season could be great and come with an extra stamp of legitimacy because of who is judging and selecting.  Of course there are funny people who will not make it, but if Greg Giraldo says you are a good comedian, it carries with it some real street cred that Bobby Baccala from The Sopranos (previous celebrity judge) just does not have.

On a plus, they thought my Obama impression was really good.  But Giraldo thought the premise surrounding the impression was too convoluted (which as soon as he said it I thought – “of course it is – FU-K!”).  As I left Gotham Comedy Club – my brain began to re-work jokes, but not to make a show, but because their advice, even on the two minutes of material, could actually make me a better comedian.  I guess if their feedback can help me make my material better then there is a silver lining.  It might have been helpful if one of them told me to give up also.  Time will tell on that one.

Good luck to Nick Cobb, David Cope, Luke Cunningham, Myq Kaplan and any other friends who have moved on.

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Killing, Dying & The Death Penalty

Death Penalty

Before I get into comedic related issues a quick statement on the death penalty (due to some Facebook chatter on my page).  I am against the death penalty in all cases.  The recent revelation in Texas that an innocent man was executed for arson and capital murder in 2004 for allegedly setting fire to his home, which killed his two young children should be huge news.  Can you imagine the man’s anguish (he never pleaded guilty)?  But I am against it even when the person is actually guilty (yes even if DNA and videotape corroborate it).  I think it is barbaric.  China, parts of the Middle East and the U.S. are the world’s executors.  No one else I believe.  

This doesn't say it all, but what it does say, it says nicely.
This doesn't say it all, but what it does say, it says nicely.

One argument for the death penalty I get is – what if it was your friend or family member they killed – you’d be for it then?  Well, being human I would want vengeance.  But the government is in place to elevate society (at least we hope) beyond Old Testament justice, not to enforce it.  It has no deterrent effect and I don’t think satisfying some sort of blood lust should be our main justification for imposing a punishment.  Isn’t that why people get to watch UFC and MMA fights?  This is to say nothing of the racial disparity in the application of the death penalty.  It is a flawed and barbaric system because it relies too much on passion and prejudice, which is exactly what the law is supposed to reign in.  There is a reason that a police officer can shoot someone during a potentially dangerous or lethal situation, but not when the criminal has his hands behind his back handcuffed and is unarmed.   Of course the person is not convictedof anything yet, but even after conviction does he/she pose any more threat to society locked away for the rest of his life than the unarmed person on the sidewalk with his hands cuffed?

Now with that happy start this has been a strange week in comedy.

Killing

Monday –

Had a great set at the Boston Comedy Festival (the one and only sanctioned kill in this blog entry).  Advanced to the semi-finals on Friday.  Was feeling great about comedy.  This was one of those days where I was saying, man comedy is great.  It almost feels good to be alive.  Oops spoke to soon – because here comes Tuesday.

Racially and metaphorically this was me on Monday.
Racially and metaphorically this was me on Monday.

Dying

Tuesday –

Started the evening off with the World Series of Stand Up at Carolines.  14 audience members.  Maybe 16.  I delivered my jokes with more disdain than usual (partly fatigue from Boston), despite a renewed effort to be more smiley when I deliver my jokes (“what’s  the matter boss, WE sick”).  The crowd laughed as much as they could at someone they probably did not like (the line “wow – thanks you guys I always wondered when the first time that joke would not do well would be” is not very endearing) and I lost.

Then I was off to a bringer at Gotham Comedy Club.  I learned an important lesson from my bringer.  If I am ever in a foxhole the people I can depend on are: my parents, my girlfriend, a few ex-co-workers and my barber – because in a pinch that is who showed up to support me.  The jokes were going fine until I risked a bit on interracial porn being racist.  It went over well with about 8 people in the crowd.  My joke, albeit still a little rough, focuses on the fact that a successful genre of porn is interracial.  I mean the categories for porn are things like: anal, orgies, urine and feces fetishes and interracial.  Shouldn’t one of these not be considered as much of a taboo?  Exactly, urine and feces are pretty mainstream now.  I will take the blame for that one not being ready Gotham, but deep down I think the 2.5 black people (my Dad, me and some dude) were not enough to make the 93 white people comfortable talking about race.

Then I went and auditioned at Comic Strip at 1115 pm.  It went well since there were still 6 people who had not yet fallen into a comedy show induced coma.  And of course I did not get passed.  I was told that my HIV joke was good.  I replied by saying it was not a joke and then stabbed him with a needle full of my blood.  I was told my joke about my height was a little too obvious, which I kind of agreed with except then I realized I had not told a joke about my height per se.  Maybe I just don’t know what words and sentences mean yet, but when I do I will be able to adjust my joke about Lane Bryant to not be so damn much about my height.

Size wise and metaphorically this was me Tuesday.
Size wise and metaphorically this was me Tuesday.

Wednesday

The Epilogue to this experience was that Time Out NY once again failed to list my show in their comedy listings page (for the next listing I am going to disguise my show and call it the ALTHOMOSUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC LOWEREASTSIDEOR POSSIBLY BROOKLNBUT ONLY COOL PARTSOF BROOKLYN EXTRAVAGANZA SHOW.

Resurrection?

Hopefully that means the end of the bad comedy karma and I can get back to doing well Thursday and Friday.  Stay tuned.

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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.