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Kevin Durant May Have Killed The NBA

Celebrating my 30th year as a Utah Jazz fan in 2017 (in exile in NYC for the whole time, like a hoops Roman Polanski) I began the 2016-17 season with deferred optimism. Last year (2015-16) the Jazz would have made the playoffs if they had not been the most injured team in the league. This year they had a contract year Gordon Hayward, an ever-improving Rudy Gobert and veteran additions of George Hill and Joe Johnson, so it was not hard to convince me that this was the year they finally became relevant again. They won 51 games, despite losing the most starters’ games to injury in the league.  They have a young core, a rabid fan base and a series win over the Clippers to give most of their players a first taste of playoff success.  And as of last night’s bitter defeat in Game 3 of the second round hope has been snuffed out. And it may have been snuffed out for the rest of the NBA for some time.

Kevin Durant – Possibly The Biggest Bitch in NBA History

I think I learned that I hated Durant for the first time last night.  I thought his decision to sign with Golden State was weak and anti-competitive (you get to an NBA Finals at 23, take the defending champs to 7 games – after BLOWING a series lead – and you decide to join your vanquisher instead of staying put?), but I did not really care that much.  I was more focused on the development of Utah and figured we would not be championship ready for a couple of seasons anyway.  But seeing the Jazz, who I think could have easily been the 3 seed this year if they had merely suffered the league average for injuries, make such strides so quickly made me feel more helpless as a fan much sooner than I expected.

The Jazz have built a team slowly and surely that could be a conten- oh never mind.

And before I continue destroying Durant, I think some of the blame for his decision rests with the fans and the media in our age of easy markers of success and low attention span.  As a Jazz fan, and a 90s hoops fan of any good team without Michael Jordan on the roster, I felt many stinging defeats, but in retrospect I am happy to have rooted for a team that was competitive for 2 decades and elite for 4 or 5 years.  Malone and Stockton are among the game’s greatest players and losing to Jordan did not tear them down as much as it enhanced the legend of Jordan’s greatness.  However, with social media, the Internet and stupidity all playing a bigger role in our lives, the scrutiny and need for an easy token of “greatness” dominates sports’ conversations.  So after Lebron was crushed, but then redeemed for winning, by a fickle and hypocritical fan base, Durant probably looked and said “The only way for me to be legit is to win a title and the media and fans will forgive my cowardice if I win, just like they did for Lebron.”  Of course, there are critical differences (Lebron joined a 47 win team and had been in a purgatory of Cleveland – never bad enough with Lebron for elite draft picks, never enticing enough for free agents. He did not join one of the 5 greatest teams in NBA history that had just barely beat him), but I cannot say that fans and media are completely blameless in creating the atmosphere that made Durant choose Golden State.  But that said, his move to Golden State was the most cowardly and bloody coup since the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones (there will be more GOT analogies).

The Decision now looks like storming the beaches of Normandy compared to Durant’s gutless decision to play for the Warriors.

But none of these things made me hate Kevin Durant.  No, it was not until late in Game 3 of the Warriors-Jazz series, when Durant cursed out the Jazz mascot, Bear, that I realized he was a bitch.  YOU (clap emoji) DONT (clap emoji) GET (clap emoji) TO (clap emoji) ACT (clap emoji) TOUGH (clap emoji) WHEN (clap emoji) YOU (clap emoji) BITCHED (clap emoji) OUT (clap emoji) AND (clap emoji) JOINED (clap emoji) THE (clap emoji) WARRIORS!

I’ll admit I was deeply frustrated that my Jazz squad had nullified Curry, Thompson (FYI – the only non-bitch superstar on the Warriors) and Draymond to bad games and the Warriors were able to rely on the Johnny Gil of their Shitty New Edition to drop 38 points.  But seeing Durant try to be a tough guy, a villain and an “assassin” has made me (I never thought I would say this) miss Kobe Bryant – who may have been a douche and a jerk, but never an anti-competitive turd.  Watching Durant emotionally flex felt like seeing Amazon do a touchdown dance in front of a neighborhood bookstore that was closing.

So is there any hope? Probably not.  I mean maybe Klay Thompson could leave and maybe the overall bitch-ass-ness of the team would force it to implode, but other than that I think we may be stuck with this squad for a while.  But if there are any chances for the rest of the league here they are (with a slight Utah bias showing on one):

Lebron.  Lebron may be the Jamie Lannister of the NBA at this point (how ironic that the King is best represented by the King Slayer).  The Decision was when he pushed a kid out of the window (boooo), but he then helped a giant, unappealing woman (Brienne of Tarth = Cleveland) and we all were fans again (yay).  Well with Durant and GS being Cersei and The Mountain (a bitch and a powerful monster tandem) it may be the King Slayer who will provide us the best chance to prevent a terrible dynasty.  And, by the way, if Lebron actually does beat this Warriors team in the Finals, I (clap emoji) DONT (clap emoji) CARE (clap emoji) ABOUT (clap emoji) MICHAEL (clap emoji) JORDAN’S (clap emoji) SIX (clap emoji) RINGS!  The GOAT title will have passed and I will not longer entertain other arguments… even when it is revealed that Lebron uses HGH for milk in his cereal.

Lebron and Cleveland… GoT style

Chris Paul to the Spurs (or if not, the Jazz).  Gregg Popovich is the only superstar in the NBA besides Lebron with a shot to stop the Warriors.  And getting Chris Paul would greatly enhance their competitiveness for the next few years while Paul can still deliver (he was outstanding against the Jazz).  The Spurs are the Patriots of the NBA, except their leaders don’t like Trump, so they are even better.  With Chris Paul taking over for Tony Parker they would immediately be a legit contender again, especially if Apple updates the Kawhi Leonard operating system for 2017-18.  But if the Spurs cannot get him I would argue that the Jazz could make a compelling argument.  They have a great defense, depth at each position (except center – maybe address that in this Summer’s draft) and with George Hill injury prone and not under contract a possible place for major upgrade. And only a few teams are better than the Jazz and almost all have the pG position filled – GSW, Cleveland, Houston (Harden), Spurs, Jazz.  So basically if the Spurs cannot get Paul I think it would be beneficial to the league, to CP3, the Jazz and my mental health for the Jazz to make a deal for CP3. The pitch the Jazz make is simple – “Right now Chris, you are in the Stockton, Payton, Nash category and unless you get a title you will never break into the Isaiah Thomas category.  We are your best (non-Spurs) shot at that. So what if Utah is boring – it is beautiful and we only want you for 3 years.”

JaVale McGee accidentally injures all the Warriors. Perhaps an athletic move gone awry (known henceforth as a “JaVale”) in practice leads JaVale to land on Curry and Draymond, ending their seasons (note – I have always been a McGee fan – athletic, plays hard, goofy -pure entertainment, and oddly admirable).

Prayer – It cannot be denied that the Golden State Warriors are an unholy creation.

LaVar Ball gets his son traded to the Warriors on Draft Night and all Hell breaks loose.  Now that would be awesome.

LaVar Ball may be our last, best hope to stop the Warriors.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.

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Road Comedy Recap: Cleveland and The Electoral Map of…

This week I have been in Cleveland, my home away from where John D. Rockefeller started his empire, where Drew Carey got  fat and where I have appeared more than any other city outside of NYC and LA.  Basically I have been like Andrew Miller for this city, but over the last 7 years – 6’7″, immensely talented, unwanted by NY and delivering amazing performances.  This week has been no different and the city has been in need of healing (but apparently not in need of comedy albums as my 1.0 albums sold per show rate demonstrates) since it was the only Democratic stronghold in the city on Election Night.  I have told audiences that their state looked like a murdered Smurf because there was this tiny blue spot in the top of the state and blood red pouring out of it to the entire state.  So just like a bases loaded jam in the playoffs for Miller I arrived in Cleveland (under my urban room moniker of “Vanilla Coke”) to deliver some comedic healing… to the audience members that were not talking or texting or coming in late).  Here ya go:

Thursday – Southwest Mogul

I had a free flight to Cleveland on Southwest Airlines (I actually have the equivalent of about 6 free flights because of my Southwest credit card – let me tell you nothing gets women ready to get it on more than when at a bar or a club you pull out your Southwest Black Visa Card – yes girl, ever fly 5th class before?), but the catch was I had to fly out of BWI. Well I didn’t have to, but rather than fly from NYC to Chicago and then back to Cleveland I took Amtrak to BWI… at 4:40 am.  I arrived at BWI and went to the diner in Terminal A.  And they have (Trump voice) tremendous pancakes and hot chocolate (end Trump voice) for any travelers out there.  I then hopped on my flight and had leg room for days. See below:

Snug as a bug in a rug with soon-to-be crippled legs

When I arrived in Cleveland I snapped a quick pic with Lebron James who met me at the airport to discuss some potential business ventures.  I then made my way to the comedy condo (usually words that are as awkward to a comedian as “Special Event: Jake the Snake Roberts”) but the Cleveland Improv condo is quite nice.  I then killed time and had a great set that night.  And to prove it I sold 1 CD, but got more compliments and eye contact than I have ever received in my 7 years of performing at the Cleveland Improv.

King and Mogul

Friday – No Movie so Why Not Re-Write and Record a Bob Dylan song for 6 hours?!

Normally on Fridays I check out a movie and do a review and then emotionally wrestle for 5 hours on whether or not to go to the gym, but with no movie nearby (Black People Christmas, or whatever it is called was under 50% on Rotten Tomatoes so I couldn’t see it.  I was suspicious mainly because it was the first happy, mostly black movie that did not use Earth Wind and Fire’s September in the preview – I will not abide that disrespect to a proud black cinematic tradition.  So instead I decided that I should spend my day re-writing and recording a new rendition of Bob Dylan’s Hurricane for The Dan Lebatard Show on ESPN radio.  If you are a fan of the show it is strong work (even though my vocals are booty). I re-wrote it before lunch, went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame at lunch to see their new exhibit on music, power and freedom (really good and inadvertently timely) and then went back to the condo to record the song.  Hopefully it gets played and appreciated on the show Monday morning (writing this Sunday afternoon in a Starbucks):

That night I had some good sets and sold a whopping 4 albums so it was difficult to sleep that knowing that Saturday would be foot long sub at Subway instead of 6 inches due to my new wealth.  Here is a clip where I summarize the Republican Party in three awkward minutes:

Saturday – You Won’t Have J-L’s Merchandise Table To Kick Around Anymore!

The heading says it all. Had good shows, but after I sold zero on the first (helped in part by a group of 4 people who set up a human wall in front of my merch table – the pic below is of a woman doing the same thing on Friday night – but at least no one threw their coat on top of my CDs like in Albany earlier this year). So after selling zero on the first show I crushed the second show and then stormed out saying “You won’t have my merch table to kick around anymore!” and went back to the condo.  I then watched Dave Chappelle host SNL and give the best monologue in the show’s history in an episode every bit as good as Tom Hanks’s episode this year, which for me was the best episode of the show in years.

Good news is my CDs will rush for 100 yards with this kind of blocking...

On an Amazon Prime movie side note – earlier in the day I watched Woody Allen’s Bananas for the first time – wow – what a brilliant comedy that still holds up and is even prescient about some things (available for free with prime until November 30). I then watched (tried to) the very overrated Green Room – made it 65 minutes in and was bored. (Trump tweet voice) Sad! (End Trump tweet voice)

Sunday – Mass and TV in Starbucks

Walked to Mass on Sunday morning (huge, beautiful St John The Evangelist – oddly enough the name of my Church in Manhattan – I guess they franchised out) and couldn’t help feeling unholy thoughts as I looked at all those white, Catholic, Ohio voters (I know how half of my people tend to lean), but then I saw a girl texting during Mass and officially felt like a grumpy, old man.  But I do like being in a full Church and the fact that people still shake hands in Church in the Midwest instead of the Purell wave that you get in NYC.  I then watched Pitch and The Exorcist on my computer (seriously good shows on Fox this Fall – Mark Paul Gosselaar as a grizzled veteran catcher on Pitch is particularly good) and wrote a new version of My Prerogative called My Presidency for Trump (a joke that did so so was about how Trump is basically Scarface for white racists – expect his poster in redneck thug trailer parks in 15 years – and a political version of what Bobby Brown did when he left New Edition). I only mention this because I am starting to feel like comedy is more a compulsion, rather than a profession or even a hobby. Oh well, 500-5000 YouTube viewers will be thrilled when it goes up at some point and that is enough for me!

So one more show tonight and then my usual 5:50 am Amtrak back to NYC on Monday. You are welcome Cleveland.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.

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Donald Trump Congratulates the Cleveland Cavaliers (but just the…

On a day when it was revealed that Donald Trump’s campaign manager was let go by Ivanka Trump and that his campaign had almost no money, The Donald tried to offer some congratulations to the newly crowned NBA Chamption Cleveland Cavaliers.  However, in classic Trump style he managed to forget Finals MVP Lebron James, star sidekick Kyrie Irving and everyone else that is black on the team! He gave a big shout out to Kevin Love, but Trump has obviously moved well past dog whistle politics and has gone full racist bullhorn with this one.  Try to laugh if you aren’t crying while watching this:

(Be sure to give the video a like on YouTube when finished watching)

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Top 10 Predictions for the 2016-17 NBA Season

Lebron James ended the NBA season on a high note last night delivering a title to Cleveland, a city over 5 decades without a sports title, despite having three major sports teams.  He defeated one of the greatest teams ever (and statistically the greatest regular season team ever) and led the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.  He did it in versatile and dominant fashion and ended all doubts that he is a top 5 all time player (I have him as 1B to Michael Jordan’s 1A).  As someone who has loved Cleveland since my first visit to the city in 2010 (my endorsement has led to a nice renaissance of the city over the last six years) and has defended Lebron’s greatness since the late 2000s I am super happy for the city, Lebron and mostly myself for being completely correct.  But now that we are left with only baseball for the next 2+ months (with a brief respite for Wimbledon) I figured I should at least compile a list of things to look forward to for next season. Here are my top 10 predictions for next NBA Season:

1) Steph Curry returns built like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – After hearing that the physical play of OKC and Cleveland damaged his game, Curry will undergo a Michael Jordan-esque commitment to weight training.  He may go overboard though as he tries to go from the NBA’s Kevin Hart to the NBA’s Rock.

A computer generated projection of what Steph Curry will look like next season (still in Under Armor)

2) Kevin Durant goes to the Miami Heat – Pat Riley goes full Vince McMahon and brings in Durant to disrupt Lebron’s eastern conference dominance. Instead of Durant, Bosh and Wade doing a big pep rally it will be Riley coming out alone in McMahon cadence: “Oh I am happy for Lebron. He won his title for ‘The Land’… BUT NOW WE HAVE A NEW SON OF THE BEACH!” and then a curtain drops with Durant coming out as Riley flashes all his rings for the camera.

LEBRON! LEBRON! LEBRON!

3) Russell Westbrook Has The Greatest/Worst Season in NBA History – With Durant gone, Russell Westbrook will average 38 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, 15 turnovers and shoot 36% from the field,  He will actually tear both ACLs midway through the season and still play all 83 games.

4) The Knicks Sign Harrison Barnes – Harrison Barnes was tremendously awful in the last three games of the Finals (seriously – Nick Anderson level mind issues may have occurred – it looked like Barnes was aiming his shot in Game 7).  He may have cost him a lot of money, but in Montana there is one team president who probably thinks he can snatch Barnes at a discount.

5) Demarcus Cousins punches his coach – Every season needs a controversy and Cousins seems to be on the edge of all NBA talent and 30 for 30 cautionary tale.

6) The Utah Jazz Make the Playoffs and, inspired by Cleveland, start calling Salt Lake City “The Lake” if they don’t already – Hey, I am a Jazz fan so give me this one.

7) The Minnesota Timberwolves Begin Frightening the Entire League – Great new coach, loaded with young talent (and about to add another lottery pick). I think T-Wolves make the playoffs and everyone realizes that Towns-Wiggins are coming for all of you like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones (GOAT episode last night by the way)

8 ) Lebron Haters Go Completely Silent – This is the only way to tell that Lebron has been great.  Look for them to reappear in 2019 to declare that Lebron is not THAT great.

9) David Blatt Joins ISIS – I think we can all agree that joining a terror organization is wrong, but Blatt is as close to being justified as anyone could be.  Watching Tyronn Lue’s “coaching” get praised has to be killing him. He comes from Europe to Cleveland and is spit out by the heart of rock n’ roll?  Not on his watch!

I will have my vengeance in this life or the next

10) Steven Adams pledges his loyalty to Daenerys Targayan – Kahl Adams should date Emilia Clarke raising his celebrity profile during what should be a breakout season for the OKC big man.

Going to make a lot more money so he should be part of a new power couple

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: Working Vacation in Cleveland

So this past week I was performing in Cleveland, Ohio, one of my favorite cities and one of my three potential permanent residences within the next 18 months (the options are A) New York – because if it is broken, why bother to fix it; B) LA – because there are more opportunities for industry to ignore me or C) Cleveland – because I like it, it’s cheap and the only worse thing than wasting 13 years of your life doing comedy is to do it for another 13, so might as well pack it in and enjoy as much real estate as your money can afford).  The week was chock full of adventures, discoveries and fun so might as well get into it.

13 Hours on Amtrak

Considering the fact that I have been very busy this year with full time legal work, triple the amount of road work I had all of 2015 within the first 3 1/2 months of 2016 (a good thing, but also shows just how terrible my 2015 was) and a new dog stressing me out occasionally, I have not had a lot of time or energy to do anything with my girlfriend besides Netflix and Pass Out. So I figured I would book some emcee work in Cleveland and make it a 4 day trip.  Not knowing if the feature would be using the comedy condo (of course once I paid for 4 nights in a hotel, the JLComedy Law* is that the condo would go unused by the feature, which it did) I booked a Comfort Inn in downtown Cleveland for a rate so cheap on Hotwire.com that I assumed a disaster loomed.

*JLComedy Law is like Murphy’s Law, except only half Irish and a lot worse when applied to trying to turn a profit from comedy endeavors.

I also convinced my girlfriend to take the 12.5 hour Amtrak ride from NYC to Cleveland (at the convenient time of 3:30pm, arriving in Cleveland at 3:27 am), because it is a “nice ride” and “quite cheap.”  Let me put it to you this way – if you have a chick who does this with you and doesn’t complain she is not only a ride or die chick, she is potentially a ride AND die chick (two seats behind us for the second half of the train trip was a man with more than half his face and neck tattooed – the 4 types of people who take Amtrak more than 6 hours are 1) felons 2) illegal immigrants 3) morbidly obese 4) overly qualified comedy emcees) .

I looked up the Comfort Inn before leaving work and noticed that several of the pictures featured rooms with 2 double beds, as well as tube TVs (or as the headliner I would soon meet, Tone Bell put it, “the TVs with the asses” so I figured I may have gotten a hot rate of 50% off the room rate, but it still might feel like I got robbed.  This was running through my mind as we traveled all the way North through northern and then western New York. We lost time in Albany so the train could change engines there (from electric to diesel or something like that) because our train industry is still stuck in  different era.  We ended up arriving in Cleveland at 4:05 am feeling like human experiments at the CDC.  We made our way into the Comfort Inn and were greeted by a friendly, heavy set black woman, straight out of central casting, who saw us with out bags making it through the doors and began asking our names while still struggling with the suitcases in the doorway.  To her credit she never gave us any eye contact during our entire exchange, so I applaud her commitment to the character.

Dawn at the Comfort Inn and the Cleveland St. Law School in downtown Cleveland

God Bless The GOP Convention

When we made it to our floor we noticed that the carpet on our half of the floor was new and when we got into our room it had a king sized bed, a newly furnished bathroom and a flat screen TV!!  We then passed out for a healthy 4 hours of Amtrak filth covered sleep, breathing in the Subway bread air that penetrated the room since we were directly above a Subway restaurant. #BreatheFresh

As it turned out, this hotel was clearly undergoing renovations for the rush of taxphobic whores, religious nuts and Klan members that will descend upon Cleveland in July for the GOP Convention.  For the hell of it I looked up hotels the week of the convention.  Hotels.com reported 167 hotels WITHOUT availability that week and the only hotel within 15 miles of the city center with availability was a 2 star hotel charging $340 a night.  This same hotel’s rate next week, for point of comparison? $96.  So perhaps if the convention were taking place elsewhere I would have been sleeping in a semen stained, TV with ass-having room filled with police caution tape, but thanks to the GOP I stayed in a 2 star hotel with 3.5 star upgrades.

The Sights

Needless to say, my girlfriend and I spent our first day in Cleveland at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.  I am a member of the museum (a guest and I can get into the museum for free for the next 4 years thanks to my generous donation #PatronOfTheArtsMogul and I get 10% off all purchases #ComedyMogul) so we walked in and I got a member wrist band, while my girlfriend was given a wristband for non-members.  #MembershipMogul

The next day we went to a new restaurant at the Westin hotel (where staff followed us around because they could smell Comfort Inn/Subway on our clothing) called Urban Farmer (it’s theme is a black farmer called Ol’ DaeMcDonald) and it was delicious!  My girlfriend made it her business to force me out of my usual shitty routine of chain restaurants by becoming a human Fodor’s guide to Cleveland.  The food was great (and she let me off the hook by choosing lunch – dinner prices were like NY Steak House prices, but lunch prices were like Cleveland lunch prices). We then saw The Jungle Book, which I reviewed in beautiful (and windy) downtown Cleveland:

The next day (Saturday), my girlfriend’s last day in town, we went bowling on E. 4th Street, which is sort of the hip/hipster area of town with several new restaurants. We bowled (I racked up a career high 148 in one game – not too bad for someone who has bowled less than 10 times in his life and never more than once in a two year period) and then left for an early dinner. We tried to eat at a brand new bar-b-q restaurant, recently opened up by one of the 377 celebrity chefs on TV, but the wait was 1 hour and 45 minutes… at 430pm. So we went across to a restaurant that looked promising, despite the communal tables, which always spell some horeshit dining “experience” gimmick.  The restaurant’s food was tasty, but they promised family style.  Well, when we sat down our waitress told us that it was tapas style. I asked her if I looked like a trendy bitch from Manhattan because I came in here for Midwestern family style, not big city skank tapas!  She recommended we order several things which we did, only to realize that Midwestern tapas doesn’t really mean many small dishes; it means many large dishes.  But I learned a valuable lesson in food marketing – if you call something pizza you can charge $10, but if you call it a “flatbread” you can charge $14.

A picture of me in front of the Cleveland Convention Center, before Cruz and Trump supporters burn it down in July

The Shows: Work Work Work and a Killer Headliner

Emceeing shows at the Cleveland Improv is work. It is not always fun. It is not always comedy. But it is always work. You are competing with 10% of the crowd coming late, 33% of the crowd talking for half your set, etc.  Your job is not to warm them up, but to gather their attention.  It is basically like a combination of being Jesus Christ on the cross while telling a Black Lives Matter rally to disperse: sacrificial and unwanted.  Well, as of this writing (Sunday evening before the final show) I have had 4 good sets and one horror show (I am talking to you late show Friday), which I consider a huge win/upset.  And, instead of looking at the week as a massive loss of money for comedy work, I have framed it as a mini vacation where the Cleveland Improv is paying for me and my girlfriend’s hotel.  Glass half full sort of thinking.

But the real revelation for me this weekend was the headliner Tone Bell.

When you see a name that you are not too familiar with you can make several assumptions. Maybe this guy is just some rising MTV type star with great PR and a mediocre act.  Or maybe he is a niche, urban act who has not crossed over (he is black). Or maybe he is a really good comic who is under the radar.  Well I didn’t know what to expect, but the dude is hilarious.  He is an Atlanta-born comedian and he flows easily with urban vernacular, but doesn’t present the animated delivery found frequently at clubs like the Cleveland Improv.  He walks a middle line, not with middle of the road mediocre comedy, but in terms of his delivery and sensibility.  He legitimately had me LOL-ing for most of his set, as well as quoting his jokes throughout the weekend to my girlfriend.  For all of you who paint me unfairly with the “hater” brush, you will at least take my praise of him seriously.  But the guy’s potential for breakout stardom had me thinking of Gary Owen and Sebastian Maniscalco.  Not his style, but his potential to have broad appeal at the comedy club level (he is already a working actor).  So if you see Tone Bell coming to a city near you I give it the official Righteous Prick recommendation.

While at the club I also got to bid a potential Cleveland farewell to Lee Herlands, my favorite club manager in the country.  He will be leaving Cleveland for the east coast, but rather than explain why I am a fan of his, feel free to check out one of my favorite podcast episodes of all time when I chatted with him in 2014.

So it is time to head to the club for the final show of the week before I hop on my 5:50 am train back to NYC on Monday morning, but I hope to be back in Cleveland soon. Maybe for a lot longer than 4 days.  And in case you are wondering, my pup Cookie is in the care of a friend of my girlfriend and she is already taking ass shots like a teenage girl from the Bronx without my strong paternal influence over her:

 

Cookie, you are too young to pose for photos like that!

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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Colin Farrell May Be The MVP of the Summer

Now that NBA season is done and Lebron James’ heroics fell short we have entered the period of time where dumb movies and baseball dominate our entertainment lives.  In other words, it is a very sad time for many people, even if you ignore the oppressive heat that is coming (the opposite of Game of Thrones).  But in this time of hopelessness it appears a hero may have arisen from the ashes of Stannis Baratheon’s daughter on HBO.  It is not The Rock, though Ballers, for all it’s clear flaws did hold my attention. And it is not The Brink, which also seems to be on the line of potentially fun/potentially a disaster. No the hero comes from a place I never expected it: Colin Farrell.

Colin Farrell was the pretty boy of the moment around 2003(?) or 2006(?) – I really don’t know. he was Irish, and douchey-handsome and women seemed to like him even though his acting was inconsistent and his box office track record sort of shoddy.  And it seemed like no Hollywood dramatic A-listers wanted to follow the McConnaughey-Harrelson season. so the show put together a patchwork quilt of “eh.”  Vince “I really need a hit before my Libertarian politics bury my career for good” Vaughn as the bad guy, Rachel “I am out of my depths, but I am tired of being the nice girl” McAdams as the tough girl cop, Taylor “I’ve had more shots as a leading man than 10 qualified black actors and Steve Howe combined” Kitsch as the cop who has a past we don’t car about and the aforementioned mustachioed Farrell. Now I mention the mustache for the simple reason that the last time Farrell prominently displayed a mustache he was in my “Worst Movie of 2006” Miami Vice.  But in a weird bit of foreshadowing, I though Farrell was the best part of Miami Vice (contrast with Jamie Foxx, whose performance prompted me to demand that he return his Oscar for Ray).

Well, the comparison that came to mind while watching Farrell was Lebron James.  Lebron was in a great no-lose situation with the Cavs in the NBA Finals.  He had a poor (though still underrated cast, since most people talked about them like they were the silver medalists at the Special Olympics) set of teammates with his two best injured, he could showcase his talents fully and if they won he was the greatest and if they lost, he had still done what just about no human could have done.  I was skeptical of Farrell, but after last night’s episode I see that he both brought it AND was given a great set of circumstances.

First, unlike basketball, an ensemble helps your performance.  Farrell does not need to do 50 minutes of acting, he simply needs to steal the show in 15 minutes (I guess more like a game 3 Matthew Dellavedova), but he does just that. He delivers rage and creepiness that is so on point it is almost funny (in a good way).  I will not spoil his lines for you so you can enjoy them yourself. #hero

Second, the show seems to have taken a nosedive in structure and quality.  It is just gloomy and to be honest when there weren’t exposed breasts or Colin Farrell on camera I sort of drifted in and out of the plot.  So like Lebron, Farrell has a better landscape to perform in for personal glory.

Third, they give Farrell’s character (can’t remember his name, don’t really care) a fat, red-headed son.  This is like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love being injured.  I don’t even know how Farrell could produce a fat ginger kid (I was reminded after posting this that the kid appeared to have been the product of a rape, presumably with a fat ginger rapist), but it makes his son the target of bullies, which allows Farrell to a) bully his fat ginger kid into telling him who took his kid’s Lebron sneakers (SEE THE PARALLEL IS RIGHT THERE – last year had the Yellow King, this year it is King James)and b) attack the father of the kid who bullied FGK and then yell expletives and sexual threats… to a 12 years old.

Fourth, Colin Farrell does deliver. Last night was not quite a 40 point, 16 assist, 13 rebound type game, but it was like a 27 point, 5 steal performance off the bench.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the creators of TD2 were calling everyone in today after the social media response (and the Righteous Prick bump) and just re-working the last 6 episodes to focus on the Dad beating, kid cursing, fat ginger kid having sonofabitch (sorry Ballers has me writing in the style of The Rock).

So in summary, though I feel like the gloomy nothingness of season two of True Detective will yield no awards and no praise, it is a time for Farrell to step up and reclaim his popularity (which I am not quite sure why he ever had it) and the show seems to be giving him the chance. And if he can make 9 more episode of this watchable, then he will be the real MVP.

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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Lebron is the Greatest, but Hakeem Already Did THIS…

I have spent the last 8 years of my hoops fan life calling Lebron the greatest player of all time. His combination of Magic Johnson skills, and a size and athleticism combination suggesting an evolutionary leap forward made it obvious to me.  And then for 4 years I wrote and podcasted his greatness to death post-The Decision, mainly because of the obviousness of his talent and the hypocrisy of non-Cleveland basketball fans who seemed to only express outrage at Lebron’s disloyalty because he was not disloyal with them (hi Knick fans).  So it is sort of bittersweet to see Lebron getting so much respect and credit now from people with low basketball IQs who could not fully appreciate Lebron’s greatness until they had 100% proof in the form of this year’s Finals run (a LOT of people on my Facebook feed qualify).  Was he not the greatest of all time last year when he played great, but was severely under-matched against a brilliant and hungry Spurs team? Well now everyone is back on the Lebron bandwagon more than ever before and it has forced me to point out a fact amidst this love fest narrative: Lebron may be doing something Michael Jordan never did (potentially winning a finals without a stud second banana), but what Lebron is doing is NOT unprecedented.  It happened in 1994 and was done by Hakeem Olajuwon.

In 1994 Hakeem Olajuwon took a team of journeymen and young, not yet developed talent on his back and carried them to a 7 game win over the Knicks (hi Knick fans) in the Finals.  He averaged 28 ppg, more than double the next best playoff average on his team. And let’s look at his roster:

  • Vernon Maxwell
  • Robert Horry (rookie year)
  • Kenny Smith
  • Otis Thorpe
  • Sam Cassell (rookie year)
  • Mario Elie

Wow – doesn’t that roster inspire fear???  Not one all star on the team. Not sure if Thorpe ever made an all star team and I was informed on social media this morning debating this point that Sam Cassell made one all star team… in 2004.  So the idea that no player has ever done what Lebron has done is plain false.  Sorry, I have defended him and love watching him play, but facts are facts.  And watching this finals aren’t the Cavs sort of displaying the same sort of unlikely heroes that the Rockets sort of did?  Granted both supporting casts benefit from playing with a top 10 all time player, but let’s look at it:

  • Dellavadova is playing as great as any role player in Finals history.  And it is not all because of Lebron. The man is on every lose ball like one of those annoying guys trying to impress the coach.
  • Tristan Thompson is rebounding like the spirit of Dennis Rodman is inside him
  • Timofey Mozgov is proving to be a competent center (Hi Knick fans). Not an all star, but solid in the post, able to hit clutch free throws (game 1) and a legitimate rim protector
  • JR Smith and Iman Shumpert (just to say hi Knick fans), but isnt JR Smith basically Vernon Maxwell?

My point is this: I freely admit that this Cavs supporting cast wouldn’t win 30 games without Lebron, but neither would that 1994 Rockets team.  So let’s enjoy Lebron’s run as potentially the greatest finals performance ever, but what he is doing is not completely unprecedented.  Hakeem may have operated int he shadow of Michael Jordan’s departure, but it is no reason to bury his legacy under the ascension of Lebron James.

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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The Weekend of Melissa, Lebron and Stannis

I gave a positive review of a Melissa McCarthy movie. I was rooting against Lebron while it seems most people I know are now rooting for him.  Comedians were on social media criticizing Stannis Baratheon (Game of Thrones SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) for using his child to advance his career.  Any one of those things in a decade would be enough to justify me writing a post (first one in just under a month – I believe a record for lack of productivity for me), but they all happened in the span of four days.  I am not sure what to make of all these, but I need to break out of my blogless slump so here goes.

First off, last week I saw a screening of Spy with Melissa McCarthy.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, which thoroughly surprised me.  The critical praise has been big and the movie opened up at #1 at the box office.  I offered a solid (first positive review of the Summer) and slightly shorter review than usual of the film and even posted it two days early.  The result?  My least watched review of the last year. The message is clear – call J-L a negative and bitter observer of entertainment… and then don’t watch when he likes a movie.  Call J-L sexist… but don’t watch a glowing review of a film centered around a strong and funny female lead.  That’s right critics of this critic – time for you to look in the mirror.  Welp, I guess next week I will have to take a verbal dump on Jurassic World…

Then there is watching the social media reversal on Lebron James.  I spent 4 years writing posts (some of which got shared a ton) and recording some podcasts defending Lebron going to Miami, but more importantly as his place as the game’s best player (I have been saying he is the best since 2007).  But then something happened.  After beating up on the eastern conference that everyone said sucked many more people joined the “Lebron is the best… time to recognize… I think the Warriors have no chance…”  in the last few weeks, which feels insane.  And it all happened as Lebron began spouting insecure platitudes like a Teddy Ruxpin whose string you pull and he only says 4 phrases:

  • I have to teach my team to win
  • I am a leader 
  • I’ve been there
  • It’s a process

Basically it looks like he took Rosetta Stone Erik Spoelstra during his four years in Miami and brought fluency in sports cliches to Cleveland… and the fans love it!  I preferred Lebron wearing the black hat and forcing his greatness down the throats of haters.  If I can give the devil his due, at least Kobe has not taken off his black hat since he put it on in 2004.  But last night Lebron won me back. I still want Golden State to win, because the most important thing to me is being right and I predicted GSW in 5, but Lebron won me back with last night’s performance.  I am not talking about his inefficient, but stat sheet stuffing performance. Rather I am talking about his explosion of exuberant rage at the conclusion of the game and the fact that he was too tired and drained to spew cliches in the post game interview.  I loved that!  He got away with several travels in the game, but he was hacked badly so bad late in the game that the ref should have blown a rape whistle that I enjoyed seeing him enraged with happiness (possible album title for me?).  I hope Lebron keeps it up so no matter who wins I can be happy.  But if he starts mentioning his own leadership again I will slide back firmly into Golden State’s camp.  But to the morons on social media (majority of people): Lebron is and has been the best. Him defeating the Hawks with a shitty cast should not have been what pushed you over the edge.  Nor should 4 Finals appearances with the Heat. He has been the best individual player since 2007.  But to the knee jerkers who also will inevitably start calling Steph Curry a bust or not great if he fails to win the title – The Warriors are a great team. Not a very good one. A great one.  And Steph Curry is a top 5 player in the NBA.  Just facts.  Anything else regarding Lebron, the Warriors and Curry is open for conversation, but the respective greatness of those three parties is not.

Lebron stops with the cliches and let's his rage out! YES!

But the biggest moment in entertainment for me this weekend was episode 9 of Game of Thrones this weekend.  I have always identified with Stannis Baratheon.  If you don’t know who he is, see if my description of him sounds familiar.  He is an angry and dark person, who is generally right about his career but has not attained his goal yet.  His goal is to be King because he is the rightful heir to the throne.  And last night (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) he had his daughter, who he loves, burned alive because it will likely give him the power to succeed at war.  Apart from my horror all I could think was, if only I had a daughter… is that what Comedy Central execs are looking for?

But of course the social media reaction, including from comedians, was pretty much universal condemnation. Huh?  The community that exploits pics of their kids for laughs and likes across the Internet is mad at Stannis for simply using his kid the way the Native American uses the buffalo?  You use all of it or it is a waste.  I, for one, am doubling down on my support of Stannis.  Sure you don’t like his attitude or his methods, but he is the rightful king and it can’t be an easy choice to torch your daughter so at least no one can tell him that he isn’t working hard enough.  Perhaps if it doesn’t work though Stannis’ next course of action will be to secure management. OK, maybe I made this a little too personal.

In other news, this week’s podcast will go up Wednesday because this Tuesday is the launch of my new video 12 Years A Bringer.

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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Will Forte is the James Harden of Comedy (and…

The NBA playoffs have started, my DVR is full and my blog is in need of words so this week’s episode is a useless, but incredibly insightful comparison of NBA stars and people in comedy.  This hit me while watching The Last Man on Earth on Fox a few weeks ago.  It is a very good show starring Will Forte, formerly of SNL fame.  The show is the latest strong Forte product post SNL.  He did MacGruber (you must ignore all signs on-line that it was bad – the movie is hysterical), then he got nominated for an Oscar for Nebraska and now he has created a critically acclaimed show on Fox.  If Bill Hader had produced this streak of post SNL content it would not have surprised me, but Forte had never really made me laugh much on SNL during his tenure. But now, it is clear that SNL was holding him back.  Hence the James Harden example, though even Harden had showed more flashes of stardom on the Oklahoma City Thunder than Forte did on SNL.  For you NBA ignorant folk James Harden was the third wheel on a very talented Oklahoma City Thunder team and was undervalued by OKC so they traded him to the Houston Rockets. A few years later Harden is a top 3 MVP candidate and the Oklahoma City Thunder is out of the playoffs (I hate how singular named teams are referred to in the singular e.g. the Knicks ARE but the Heat IS).

Similarly Forte has been killing it since leaving SNL and SNL is out of the playoffs.  Perhaps just as good an analogy might be Tracy McGrady leaving Toronto before reaching superstar level and then winning two scoring titles with the Orlando Magic (BUT JAMES HARDEN IS BETTER FOR CLICKS ON THE INTERNET SO I WILL STICK WITH THAT COMPARISON FOR THE TITLE).  So in that spirit here are some other useless NBA-comedy analogies to honor the kick off of the NBA playoffs:

Bill Burr is Russell Westbrook – One of the dominant talents of his or any generation and a study in barely controllable rage within his respective field, Burr is clearly the Westbrook of comedy.  The same way Kevin Durant overshadowed (perhaps unfairly, perhaps not) Westbrook, Louis CK overshadowed his fellow ginger until very recently.  But no more.

Stephen Colbert is Steph Curry – unquestionable talents who never cease to exceed expectations, partly because of being undervalued early in their careers. But with Golden State primed for a finals run and Colbert primed to take over The Late Show these two are now at the top of their fields.

Kevin Hart is Kobe Bryant (last 2 seasons only) – Both take tons of shots and don’t make many hits.  Here is a fun game for 2016 – what will be higher: number of movies Kevin Hart makes or number of 30+ shot games 37 year old Kobe Bryant has?  Both should be retired by 2017.

Mark Wahlberg’s manager is Greg Popovich – Wahlberg not a comedy star, but I think it bears comparison if only to highlight Popovich’s greatness.  Wahlberg’s manager took a criminal from Boston with a goofy wigger persona and turned him into an A-list, Oscar nominated star.  Popovich has turned a bunch of overlooked foreign players and a bunch of NBA refuse into an inexplicably high performing team for 15 years.

Eric Andre is Giannis Antetokounpo – Giannis is simply known as “The Greek Freak,” an exciting, how-high-is-his-potential type player who seems to be one of the most physically gifted people in a league full of physically gifted people.  Please see the picture below for why Eric Andre gets him as the comparison.  Showing up in more and more TV shows and movies every year, the ceiling is high for Andre, but like The Greek Freak, only time will tell how far his physical antics take him.

John Oliver is Rudy Gobert – Foreigner who emerged very recently as a potential game changer.

Amy Schumer is Chris Paul – a star in her own right, she is well known for helping out many comedy friends.  I guess I could have called Mark Normand, Schumer’s opening act, the DeAndre Jordan of comedy since they have become rising stars thanks in part to assists from their point guards.

Louis CK is Lebron James – Though their reigns are in the down turn phase there can be no denying that they still sit atop everyone’s current list in their respective fields.  And they are both bald when unaided by hair treatments.

J-L Cauvin is Anthony Davis – Who else could I be, but the next great star of the NBA with versatility and still relative obscurity?  Height, versatility and many years from a title – perfect fit. #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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Cleveland Journal Pt 2: The Wrap Up (in Pictures)

Well, another week in my home away from home, Cleveland, has concluded and between good shows, great weather and saving money on my Con Ed bill back home this week was a huge success.  Since I was busy snapping a ton of photos on the trip I will just give you a short write up before giving you the photos (with hilarious captions of course).  Wednesday through Saturday I middled for Tim Gaither and Sunday I emceed for Gary Owen.  The great thing about working with Gary Owen (other than him being a funny dude) is that my first paid gig in August 2004 was emceeing for Gary Owen at the DC Improv.  So in 9 years, 11 months I have finally made it to the point where I am… emceeing for Gary Owen?  But since I worked with him in 2013 (and he remembered me then too after an 8 year gap) he remembered me as “the Georgetown law grad” (better to be remembered for something, right?).  He also remembered me telling him how good Season 3 of Breaking Bad was (apparently I really was like a Born Again Christian with that show).  But all the shows were fun (some more fun than others), but unlike most of my road comedy blogs I will let the pictures of the city and my time here do he talking.

Morning in Cleveland. Not a bad view

 

Downtown Cleveland on the 4th of July
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - best museum in the world
Big open fields for people to play Frisbee downtown. Has Cleveland become a liberal arts college campus brochure?

 

Science Center on the lake where they test Josh Gordon's blood for PED and alcohol (Cleveland Browns burn!)

 

A Cleveland bird tried to shit on me... my backpack took the hit for me. #NeverForget

 

All for one and one for all.. and by "one" they mean Lebron James

 

Legends line the streets of Cleveland near the lake

 

The view from inside the Cleveland Improv. Best location of any club in America (that has had me)

 

Car crash right outside of Church before Mass on Saturday #NotBlessed

 

Bar Louie in Cleveland - spinach dip with LOTS of artichokes - $8.50; Hillstone in NYC - removed artichokes from its dip, $17 - WIN FOR CLEVELAND

 

This pit bull was the guest of honor at the cookout I was invited to on the 4th. I think it's a pit bull. It was scary enough for me to call it a pit bull. Too much muscle tone

 

The Cleveland Improv

 

Walked by it yesterday, will be there tonight for Yankees vs Indians.

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!