A Beard Saves the Houston Comedy Trip

Comedy can be cruel.  For example, after last week’s ridiculously great set of shows at Helium in Philadelphia, I found out within a span of 2 hours this past Monday that a show at the Houston Improv on Feb 20th was cancelled and that the club I was supposed to perform near Baltimore on February 22-23rd had closed.  The comedy lord giveth and he taketh away.  But I still had a private gig in Houston on the 21st (tonight as I write this) which was the reason for going to Houston in the first place.  And changing flights would have been more than 5x the cost of the hotel for one night (I stay in really classy joints) so I decided to check if the Houston Rockets were playing.  There were and tickets were available.  More on this in a minute.

I was flying to Houston by Southwest because flights are dirt cheap to Hobby, because it is a hub of Southwest (I think).  I just had to get an 8 am flight to Midway, wait 3 hours and then catch my flight to Houston, arriving at 2:50 pm with plenty of time to spare before the Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder game at 7pm local.

I woke up at 430 am because I am now committed to making trips as cheap as possible, which means the 6 train to the M60 bus to LaGuardia.  $2.25 for only 375 minutes of travel.  The flight to Midway took off on time and arrived early.  Then bad sh*t started happening.

I already had a 2 hour and 50 minute layover, but that was before my flight got delayed an additional 3 hours and 45 minutes.  Even when I factored in Southwest’s “we are super cheap, so don’t depend on us that much” motto I did not think they would actually put me in jeopardy of missing the game.  The lesson here is no matter how big a lead your team has, never doubt that Southwest Airlines can turn it into a deficit.

When I finally arrived in Houston greeted by fellow comedian Alex Barnett who informed me that Brian Jian, the third comedian who would be performing Thursday (tonight) had flown in to Houston’s other airport.  So we arrived at the arena only 8 minutes after tip off, but in Texas, everything is bigger, especially the lines of people driving into parking lots because public transit does not exist here because public stuff is part of a socialist plot – AMUUURRRRRICA!

So the three of us arrived and we absolutely were representative of the Rockets organization.  We had Brian, representing the Asian community, which was in full force to support Jeremy Lin, or as they call him in Houston, Yao .5. Then there was me at 6’7″ the average height of an NBA player. Then we had Alex, a short Jewish attorney to represent the agents and ownership ranks of the NBA.  And lastly we had Alex’s friend Chuck, who was black.  We could have been a promotional ad for the NBA.


A tall guy, a Jewish lawyer and an Asian – it must be NBA action in Houston!

As soon as we arrived we discovered that some people were in our seats.  They asked if they could stay because they were part of an office party and they had nearly identical seats on the other side of the arena and were willing to pay us $20 each to exchange (naturally that deal was orchestrated by Alex). We did and the seats were almost as good; I still had an aisle seat to stretch my awkward legs.

At this point, after being up for 16 hours and travelling for 12 of them I was beat and don’t forget we were at the game because a show was cancelled.  And then, in one of the greatest ironies in my 10 years of comedy, a man with a beard made it all worth it.  James Harden, the immensely talented well-bearded star of the Houston Rockets put in one of the greatest performances I have seen live (for the record I have only been able to watch myself perform stand up on recorded video, for obvious reasons).

We were enjoying the game which featured Harden’s old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder and it was back and forth all game, but with the Thunder always in the lead.  Here are some of the highlights up until Harden and Lin went legend:

  • Harden hits a half court shot at the buzzer of halftime.  We all missed it because we were arguing over something.
  • But fortunately the INCREDIBLE HD scoreboard of the Toyota Center replayed it for us several times – seriously the scoreboard at that place is incredible and the producer of it is so good it looks like he is producing highlight reels and music videos live.  Seriously, if you are in Hollywood I would snatch up the Toyota Center Jumbotron segment producer now.  He (or she, but probably he) most likely has a cheap price tag.
  • The giveaway people are really good at the Toyota center.  We were in the cheap seats (which are $69, so not that cheap) but the t shirt giveaway people run up there and hand out free t-shirts since we are out of range of the 16 year old girl with the t-shirt gun. Also, there is “parachute time” when some guy in the scaffolding (I dubbed him “The Phantom of the Giveaways”) starts dropping down prizes in mini parachutes.  Unfortunately our seats were behind, and practically above him so we did not get any.
  • Speaking of giveaway teams – wouldn’t this be a great place for Al Qaeda to launch their next team?  The stadium gives you t-shirt gun firepower, the opportunity to stand in the middle of the court and a chance to drop miniature parachute bombs all over the crowd.  You get a motivated sleeper cell of energetic Al Qaeda teens (the jungle gym workout is great for auditioning as a halftime tumbling act as well) and next thing you know you have 9/11 x 6 at a sports arena.  In other words I think we need to screen these arena employees more carefully.
  • And last thing I noticed at the arena is that during the game they highlighted a “Suite of the Game.” This is where the arena takes the richest people in the stadium, who have luxury boxes, and puts them on the screen for the masses to cheer and appreciate their success.  WE DID BUILD THAT!
Here they are Houston… your rich people of the night!!!

So with all those highlights the game was coming to its conclusion the Thunder were leading by a dozen or so points with less than five minutes and Brian, who earlier in the game met up with Jeremy Lin’s agent for China-related dealings (they are friends, proving that the Chinese are the Jews of China) said words that must have reached Lin on some sort of cosmic, Asian, telepathic level.  He said “The Rockets better make their move now.  Time is running out.” It was like when Drago’s trainer yelled “SHOSHYA!” right before Drago murdered Apollo.  And just like that James Harden and Jeremy Lin put on a display of brilliance that had me going “HOUSTON IMPROV WHO???!!!”  Harden put on a dazzling display of shooting and testicular fortitude on his way to a career high of 46 points and Lin dropped in two three pointers in the last few minutes, ending the game with 29.  Rockets win by three.  And comedy disappointment was unexpectedly handed its second straight week of defeat.  Nice win rockets.

And now tonight it is time to a show for the Houston Intellectual Property Bar Association.  Dammit – maybe I should wait til tomorrow to gloat over the comedy gods.

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


Sticker Stupidity: My Made Up, But Plausible History of…

I am not a fashionable person. I was wearing flannel before, during and twenty years after the grunge movement of the early 1990s.  I wear New Balance sneakers and sweatpants a majority of the week.  I buy my suits at Jos. A Bank (how can you beat “buy 1, get 47” free sales?).  But sometimes things are so awful that even my primitive fashion sense is offended.  One thing that has been number for many years on my “fashion items I hate” are babydoll dresses, or as I refer to them “FUPA” covering dresses.   The most misleading item in fashion basically begin at the end of a woman’s breasts and then finish at the conclusion of the woman’s flaws or bloating, depending on whether she is on a permanent or 4 day expansion, respectively.   For several years this Trojan Horse of fashion has been my least favorite item of clothing, but over the last couple years it has been bumped out of the #1 spot buy New Era baseball caps with stickers on the brims.

I own a New Era baseball cap.  It is a Yankee fitted (the game version, not one of the 477 varieties of Yankee caps that have been released – you know so that you have a specific Yankee fitted hat for every holiday from 4th of July to St Patrick’s Day to Arbor Day) and I have owned it for several years.  It is broken in and lacks any price tags or stickers because I am not a fu*king moron.

I do not know the day the trend of leaving stickers on a cap began but I know it has emerged in the last couple of years.  Here are the many different explanations I have seen on-line:

  • Emulating athletes who receive brand new caps on draft day
  • Maintaining a “fresh” cap to symbolize the freshness of the person wearing it
  • Wearing the sticker to pretend that you have so much money that you don’t care

One explanation that a friend of mine had offered, not by way of knowledge, but just hypothesis, was that maybe it started as an act of civil disobedience.  Since it is a trend that began among black people, the idea was that with mall security and store employees discriminating against black youth in stores (questioning, following around suspiciously, etc.) keeping the sticker on after purchasing would act as a deterrent to being questioned, or would at least make people who are eyeing young black men suspiciously could be made to look foolish.  I thought this would be a great reason… if it were at all true.  However, I could find no evidence that this fashion AIDS has any root in civil disobedience.  Sorry, but when you look at Martin Luther King Jr.’s brim in any old photos you will not see a tag or sticker still on it.

Another explanation that I have pondered, (and at the risk of accidentally stealing material, I think comedian Yannis Pappas may have said this before I did in my presence at his show in Brooklyn), is that black people were simply doing the dumbest thing they could think of and seeing if white people would still steal/copy it. (If Yannis tells me he did not say this, consider it a new joke of mine).

But assuming none of these are true, all I can think is that this trend started out of sheer stupidity.  It is this generation’s pet rock.  But it is also evidence of the power black people have on influencing our culture.  Enough talk about “Girls” on HBO, black people can take some (non-compensated) comfort that they still disproportionately influence the culture (and in most cases is good, but not in this one).  Here’s is my brief, informal history of the sticker-on-brim phenomenon across racial lines:

  • Black youth start wearing stickers on their brims for some unexplained or unjustifiable reason
  • Latinos, as with the N word, quickly begin using it  as well to get grandfathered in when the race war begins
  • White people resist and mock
  • White people begin to actually market stickers and the hats now have bigger and more ornate stickers KNOWING that people will not leave the sticker on the hat (perhaps googly eyes or scratch n sniff are next)
  • Dumb white teens begin doing it, as evidenced by J-L Cauvin seeing no less than 7 white youths wearing stickered brims at the Yankee Game on April 27, 2012 (and only 2 were Guido-types!)

There you have it – white people stole blacks from Africa, stole their music for Elvis and stole golf back from Tiger Woods.  But now they have tipped their hand too much.  It is now clear that white people will try to copy any trend from black people no matter how dumb.  Just three years after a black man got the Presidency, a white dude is trying to take it back, despite clearly being an awful job.  But the brim sticker phenomenon is inexcusable.  No one can offer a legitimate explanation for why people do it and the people who do it refuse to acknowledge that it is absurdly dumb looking.  So shame on you black people for starting a stupid trend and shame on you Latinos and white for copying it.

But thank you Jeremy Lin for not doing it. Yet.