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Road Comedy Recap: Comedy and Kevin Spacey in Maryland

After a 5 month drought of road bookings, November represented an avalanche of bookings (2).  I was at the Brokerage in Long Island a few weeks ago, and even though taking New Jersey Transit to Long Island Railroad on a weekend is the time equivalent of driving to Atlanta, I did not write it up as a road recap. But with a booking outside of Baltimore that required Amtrak and hotel accommodations, here is the first road recap in quite some time! I was performing at Magoobys (I think for the 6th time between the 2 locations they’ve had this decade) and the weekend included all the staples of a J-L Comedy road trip: 1 awful show, 2 movies, 3 awesome shows, 5 pancakes at IHOP and a 7am Amtrak trip in Baltimore where Kevin Spacey held the door for me. So without further adieu let’s get into it!

Friday

On Friday I took a regular Amtrak (AKA poor people train) to Baltimore, but upgraded to the business class car, which was actually really nice. The rest of the train was packed, but the business class car, with tons of leg room and leather seats was only about 15% full. When I arrived at Baltimore Penn I walked to the light rail station, which I take every trip to whichever hotel Hotwire.com has bestowed upon me near Magoobys.  I buy a ticket for the light rail every time, but in half a decade of taking it, not once has anyone taken the ticket from me.  I arrived at the Extended Stay America, which is named for how long they expect the hotel’s bed bugs to cling to your clothing, in Timonium (hard to beat $135 after fees and taxes for 2 nights).

The two shows were solid that night. I was opening for Aida Rodriguez, most recently of Tiffany Haddish’s stand up series on Netflix.  I sold a handful of albums and ended the night with a vending machine can of pringles and some CNN. #Blessed

Saturday

Having scouted out eating locations I made my way to an IHOP about 3/4 of a mile from my hotel for some breakfast (also found out that IHOP does catering now, so as soon as I have a function that requires catering expect a call from me IHOP). I then got a Lyft to the Hunt Valley Mall where I went to see two movies: Knives Out and Queen and Slim – both very good movies and also could have been called White People Problems and Black People Problems, respectively. I then had Chick Fil-A for dinner nearby, giving me an IHOP breakfast-Popcorn and Candy lunch-Chick Fil-A dinner. How I am still alive I do not know, but as I write this the diet starts now (33rd time I have said that in 2019).

The first show Saturday night was outstanding. A new bit I am working on about getting hit as a child really did well on this show.  I cannot blame the first Friday crowd for not laughing a lot – since I forgot half of the punchlines, but none of the sad parts, so it felt more like a sad origin story than a darkly humorous take on my childhood.  But here is the newest rough draft of “All Roads Lead to Joe Rogan”:

The second show on Saturday was lightly attended and even more lightly laughed at.  Most of the audience were good sports and enjoyed my set, but there was one woman in a hat (it looked like she meant to line up early for Church Saturday night to get a good pew, but ended up at a comedy show by accident). So the shows ended on a low point, but the overall trip and majority of shows were a great success.  A good way to end the decade where I made 1 tv appearance, created 2 viral videos, self-produced 4 stand up albums (one went #1), made 8 appearances on Adam Carolla, made double digit appearances with The Black Guy Who Tips and The Dan Lebatard Show and made $734 in net profit. Bring on 2020!

The Red Hat (AKA “The Undertaker of Black Church”) is visible in this shot while Aida Rodriguez performs

Sunday

On Sunday I took the 7am Acela (#Comedy Mogul) out of Baltimore, figuring correctly that that would be the only time to take an Amtrak comfortably on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.  The station was not too crowded, but I did notice one person that I had to do a triple take: Kevin Spacey. Like myself, Spacey obviously knows that the early morning Acela on a Sunday is the most discreet way for an entertainment star to travel.  As I approached I had 4 options:

  1.  Tell him that House of Cards really sucked without him (and then rap my knuckles on the wood bench twice)
  2. Ask someone to record me on their camera and scream at Spacey for all the hurt he has allegedly caused
  3. Try to get him to grope me (#Settlement) or
  4.  Give him a knowing head nod and be on my way.

I chose 4 and his response was:

He was sitting with either a female relative or a personal assistant (OR POSSIBLY A WOMAN WITH HER OWN GREAT CAREER AND LIFE INDEPENDENT OF KEVIN SPACEY – PLEASE DON’T CANCEL ME). I was unable to upgrade to first class on the Acela due to blackout restrictions (insert Spacey joke here), but by coincidence Spacey held the door for me and a woman before going down the stairs himself.  SO HE IS ALRIGHT IN MY BOOK!  Our ways parted when he went to the First Class Car and I went to the upper-middle class section.

So all in all another fun and fruitful road work weekend. Thanks to all that have enjoyed this blog and supported my career the last decade.  All 7 of you!

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Movie of the Week: Margin Call

Margin Call is a star-studded film, most likely shot in the span of a week, that focuses on the destruction from within of a major New York Investment Bank (I believe Lehman Brothers was the inspiration).  The movie feels like it could have been based on a play, simply because there are about 9 characters and 90% of the action takes place in one office building.  The movie is very solid, moves quickly and is well acted.  But I feel like no movie on the financial crisis will ever satisfy me like Inside Job (that sentence sounds disturbingly erotic).

It features a wide range of investment bank archetypes.  You have Jeremy Irons and Simon Baker (“The Mentalist” or in this movie “The Douchiest”) as slick titans of banking; Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto (“Gay Spock”) are sort of the intellectual bankers who don’t appear to be in the business just for the lifestyle and who see wrong in the way their employer is handling the impending economic doom; and Paul Bettany (if you do not know  Paul Bettany he is the British actor who is the intersection of the Venn Diagram of Sting and Joel McHale) represents the mix of the two – he sees the problems with the system and likes to point out that it is “normal people”‘s greed that fuels their work so fu*k them if things turn south.  Basically he would be a scumbag in any other circle beyond investment banking, but within banking he is a pragmatist.  Demi Moore is also in the movie.  I just wrote that so no one accuses me of being misogynist because I left out the one woman in the movie.  I want to be considered misogynist for the right reasons.

The movie does not enrage or educate like Inside Job.  So, the movie is sort of operating at a real niche audience – movie lovers with a working understanding of the financial crisis.  At least with Inside Job it gave you a really clear understanding of the situation.  And I do not think the movie explains even as well as Too Big To Fail, the HBO film based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book.   But I guess the movie is not intended as a teaching tool, but just as a snapshot of the eve of a huge financial crisis.  And I suppose it is effective in doing that, mainly because the cast is so strong.  But I actually felt more gloom and doom from watching the two aforementioned films.  As I wrote, this felt more like a good play.  So I guess if you are looking to supplement your Occupy Wall Street fervor with a piece of good drama then get to a theater (or buy it on Pay-Per-View for $6.99) and see it.

Final Grade – B+