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Road Comedy Recap: Roethlisberger vs J-L in Pittsburgh

This week I was in Pittsburgh for a headlining gig at the Pittsburgh Improv. When I got the gig a couple of months ago I was thrilled to get a Thursday night (as opposed to a Monday 1pm show, which seems to be closer to my reality with many clubs), which is traditionally a good night to work a club (if you cannot get a Friday or Saturday).  But as soon as I got the booking my J-L Jinx Spidey Sense kicked in and I thought “I bet the Steelers have a game that night.”  Do I even have to tell you that my assumption was correct?  So in a nod to self-preservation and local culture I made my show a 7pm show instead of 8pm, hoping that if the show ended by game time some people who were inclined to both support a twice-accused-of-rape quarterback and an Internet savior to millions in 2020 could have the best of both worlds.  However, Pittsburgh chose decidedly in one direction (spoiler – not me).  So let’s do an epic recap of my Pittsburgh trip – my first time back since 2009, when a white guy called a Black player on the Cleveland Browns a ni**er.  Good to be back!

Wednesday

I departed for my gig on Wednesday because I was taking Amtrak. Since I have a busy day job that I refuse to leave as long as comedy continues to be the dumbest business on the planet, I decided to work on the train Wednesday. Hotels were cheap so two nights were doable and I could be available Thursday morning for press if any were available (LOL – I would think a stand up comedian with a decently large following who can do lots of impressions would be a slam dunk for local radio, but apparently Jack Off and the Cum Dump on FM 101.69 could not be bothered).  So I busted out the WiFi hotspot in the café car on the 9 hour train ride to Pittsburgh and got to doing legal work while eating my sandwich.  And then 10 minutes in the café lady said I had to leave because the car closed in Philly when the train switched engines from the 20th century electric on the east coast to the coal powered 19th century train system the interior of the country runs on.

So while muttering expletives (you saw me bust out both the computer and the sandwich at noon, but did not think to warn me that the car would close? One of the great things on some Amtraks is when the café is not selling food it becomes impossible to continue sitting at the tables near the café.  Because as you know, tables do not work if food is not available) I went back to the business car, which was only about 15% full for most of the trip, which was lovely.  I decided to watch a movie I downloaded from HBO Max on my new tablet called Never Rarely Sometimes Always.  It is about a Pennsylvania teenager who goes to NYC with her cousin to get an abortion.  I figured, “when in Rome!” It was dark, powerful, excellent and a perfect way to get me in the right frame of mind for one of my comedy shows.  Because my career often feels like a burden I am carrying to term even though the humane thing would be to end it.

I eventually returned to the café car for several hours of work until we entered the part of Pennsylvania where the telephone signals no longer exist.  At that point I began reading Gommorah, a book I have had for years but was never motivated to read until friends started hyping up the show.  That way, after I read it I can watch the show and be morally superior to my friends because “I actually also read the book.”  But back to the dead zone of communication known as central and western Pennsylvania.  To be fair, I think the world would be better off if these Trump loving, mask burning, gun toting turds had no cell service or Internet, but in 2021 it is pretty startling that you can travel for 100 miles in a US state and not have a signal.  That reminds me of a joke I just wrote – “How many central Pennsylvanians does it take to put up a cell tower?  10 – One to climb the ladder and 9 to call him a communist fa**ot for wearing a safety harness.”

Pittsburgh Arrival

I arrived in Pittsburgh at 8pm, got in a cab and headed to my Hampton Inn near the club.  I walked in wearing a mask but noticed no one else was. Not staff. Not patrons.  Freedom!  I went to my room, dumped my stuff down and made my way to get some PF Chang’s.  When I walked in not one staff member was wearing a mask, but the restaurant was almost entirely empty except for a meeting of the 3 Percenters at the PF Chang’s bar and a few families.  I sat down and almost on cue, my brother, Pro Publica’s Henri Cauvin, sent me an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that stated that Pennsylvania was leading the nation in daily Covid hospitalizations (and that was with Philadelphia doing things like being run by Democrats and not being stupid with vaccines and masks).  That meant central and western PA were doing the lion’s share of owning the libs and the ventilators.  And as I kept noticing, no one wearing masks over the next few days I kept thinking “1/3 of you are obese, 1/3 of you are ugly and 1/3 of you are obese and ugly – all of you have plausible reasons to be masked up!”

the view from my hotel room was apparently of the location where Pittsburgh area criminals dump dead bodies

Thursday

The next day I woke up at 645am, my version of sleeping in. I went downstairs for breakfast, mapped out my set for that night and then went for a 4 mile walk around the malls near my hotel.  I then sat down for an 8 hour workday at my computer in my hotel room.  When that was done I went to Burgatory, a brilliantly named hamburger restaurant near my hotel. When I walked in I was wearing a mask so the host brought me to the quasi-outdoor area filled with nice torches that made me feel like I would watch a virgin get sacrificed while I ate my meal.  I sat there by myself until some other lib cucks were seated in my area.  I ordered a burger and fries and my God – it was great!  I felt like it was an omen for the show. (spoiler – it wasn’t).  I then saw they had a chocolate chip cookie sundae dessert. I made a note that if my set were really great or really awful I would come there after for the dessert.  I then left and went to the club.

Burgatory – never a better place for a Catholic comedian who loves hamburgers and exists in an entertainment netherworld

When I entered the club I noticed a crowd that, in terms of size, resembled the audience of an art house foreign film in its 7th week in the theater.  Ok, maybe not that bad, but when every show you do starts to feel like watching the dying breaths of Christ on the Cross you tend to see things as worse than they are.  More people filled in and it ended up being a mildly respectable crowd for a comedian that people seem to prefer watching in two minute increments on their phones, who was also performing while the Steelers were warming up for Thursday Night Football.

Quiet yet festive was the atmosphere in the mall between my hotel and the club

The energy of the crowd for the emcee and feature was not quite blackout, but definitely at least a brownout.  My set went fairly well (a strong ad libbed clip of me describing the battle for Pittsburgh’s soul that night is on my Instagram) and I met several kind and effusive fans after.  Now in a weird bookend to the night the emcee had to leave for something else after her set so I literally walked my own emcee and then two die hard fans of Making Podcasts Great Again asked if I wanted to get a drink after. I said that I would hang out but had to get my money from the office.  I ended up talking to the assistant manager for about 15 minutes (turns out I broke my streak of only making the minimum amount of money per the contract) and when I went outside it appeared I had been ghosted by my own fans!

Feeling abandoned I made my way back to Burgatory for that sundae only to find out that they closed at 9pm.  Perhaps there was an angel looking out for me and my waistline or perhaps I was in a Greek Mythology Hell where you are never able to both do comedy and eat delicious chocolate chip cookie sundaes.

Friday

I woke up early the next morning to eat breakfast at 6am so I would be in no danger of missing my 730am train home.  I got a Lyft from a guy who informed me that he had a lot of darkness inside of him, which either meant he liked Black guys or was troubled.  To be fair he was discussing how he writes poetry, which at this point I am considering as a more lucrative career than stand up comedy.  I got on the train and watched Moonstruck, another HBO Max movie expiring this month. Other than Olympia Dukakis I thought the movie sort of stunk.  I then went to the café car to continue my legal work.  Hard to pick out what the highlight of the week was: working on a train, working in a hotel, seeing my dream die another day, or working on the train, but it was all a wonderful and fulfilling experience.

The bittersweet thing about some of these underperforming road gigs is that the people who are fans enough to see me live are as bewildered as I am that my crowds are not packed.  After all, I am hilarious, diverse in my skills, and more famous than the average comedian (though to be fair the median comedian is a progressive incel with an annual salary of 17 drink tickets).  I think the answer is that my comedy was viewed as a distraction for most people, not as a mere sample of a robust catalogue of humorous work, which it was and is.  Throw in Twitter’s algorithms treating me like an unclaimed Trump son he had with Omarosa and voila! –  you have a recipe for failure gumbo!  That is why it is always weird when I see comments on social media like “he got me through the pandemic” as if my existence died once you got vaccinated.  Covid is still here and so is Cauvin!

I made it home around 530pm and – you guessed it! – went back to work until about 11pm on legal work.  If there is one lesson I have learned from doing comedy, making a lot of money at it, becoming quasi famous, recording a killer new special and appearing twice this weekend in the preview for the upcoming season of a major cable drama it is this: apparently I should not quit my day job.

Thank you to everyone who came out to see me in Pittsburgh. The irony of constantly disappointing myself is that it really does make me appreciate the people who pay money to see me and to become fans beyond when you need a worktime distraction or a giggle on a group text.  The flip side to the bitter spirit that engulfs a lot of what I do is a deep and genuine gratitude for those of you who do care and have comedy pallets beyond mere distraction.

See you in Washington DC next week folks!  DC Improv Dec 16-19.  I am crushing it – come see for yourselves!

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Party Over Osama, But Not With Obama?

Sunday night I was at a comedy show in Brooklyn when I heard the news that Osama bin Laden was dead, apparently killed in a cross between a Call of Duty video game and the final scene in Scarface.  I just had no idea that the death of a terrorist was a reason to party.  There is nothing I hate more than terrorists, whether they be KKK members, Islamic fundamentalists or my ex fiancee.  But I can’t help but be a little uncomfortable with our boisterous celebration of death.  If this were an isolated incident I would not sound so sanctimonious about it, but our culture has become one that is far too ready to celebrate violence.

Now don’t get me wrong – bin Laden was obviously a villain, though I sort of feel like I did at the end of the movie In The Line of Fire.  John Malkovich was the villain and was killing nice people, like the chubby bank teller who “shouldn’t have been from Minneapolis.”  And Clint Eastwood was the awesome hero that I rooted for, but at the end I realized I would not hear any more telephone calls from John Malkovich.  I think having read so many brilliant books on Al Qaeda and bin Laden (The Looming Tower is my favorite book) I had a strong intellectual curiosity about the terror movement and its modern leader, but that said, his death feels like a deserved punishment.  And any amount of comfort that it can provide the friends and families of the victims of 9/11 is welcome. 

I do not want respect for the terrorist, but a more muted response (akin to President' Obama's remarks) would maintain a respectful tone for the victims of 9/11.

I suppose I just would have preferred a slightly more muted response to the news.  Obama’s response was one of measured dignity and even the NY Post knew enough to just go with “We Got Him,” which is the NY Post equivalent of a lobotomized statement (I heard their first choice was “We finally fistfuc*ed that terrorist piece of sh*t!”).  But there seemed to be a celebratory feel to the people taking to the streets (especially young folk who, based on lots of Tweets and Facebook updates I saw seemed just happy for an excuse to party in front of the White House and tweet about it) that felt slightly inappropriate.  I am in no position to say what the response is, but if my parents were murdered and a jury delivered a guilty verdict (or the criminal were executed) appreciation and reflection would probably be my response before taking to the streets like the Yankees won the World Series.

But I think our country really just has a deeper respect and love of violence than other (civilized) nations.   MMA is our fastest growing sport, we restrict bare breasts in movies more than open bullet wounds and we party when a murderer is executed.  I just think it would be nice if our country could find a way to rally around something that doesn’t involve death.  Universal health care?  Incredibly divisive.  Protecting our environment?  Not a chance.  Tighter gun laws to protect citizens?  Not unless you want a bullet in your head. 

So my advice for Obama is every time there is an important social issue that will effect Americans much more than killing a terrorist who was in his nursing home days, he should take a Republican into a steel cage and beat the sh*t out of them.  Americans do not respect intellect, reason, nuance or long term benefits.  They understand might and force.  That is what we respect.

The feeling I had watching celebrations and chants of USA was not unlike the feeling I had at a Pittsburgh Steeler game and when I heard a Caucasian Steeler fan next to me refer to the Cleveland Brown’s Josh Cribbs as a nigger.  I was still rooting for the Steelers, but I felt just a little uneasy about it for the rest of the game.  That is sort of how I felt, to a lesser degree, watching celebrations on Sunday/Monday.  This is a country where a quarter of the people question the birth of our president because he is African-American and millions slurred with him with the untrue (but not insidious on its own) claim that he was Muslim, but along with the immature twenty-something tweeters partying, these are the people now willing to give the President his respect (or at least some, because he killed a bad guy.  I just don’t feel like partying to celebrate death, especially when many of the parygoers are people that would not want to party with the President if he was not killing someone named Osama.

I don't like partying over death. And I definitely don't want to party with this guy over anything.
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Utah Jazz Week Journal Part 3: Is Rooting For…

Saturday night I travelled with two buddies and fellow comedians Jim Dodge and, as of Tuesday at 6pm on the Game Show Network,Newlywed Show contestant Pat Breslin.  Both of them are Philadelphia 76er fans and we went to the game last year (along with approximately 50 other people in the emptiest arena ever for a professional, non-WNBA sporting event.  The Jazz won easily.  But this year I had a lot more concern.  The jazz had lost three straight games to the Wizards (awful), the Nets (more awful) and the Celtics (respectable, but awful because of the previous two losses).  After seeing the Jazz go 5-0 in the five games I attended last year I was unsure if they could stop from going 0-3, even if the 76ers suck.  My concern was well founded.

This is the only image I saw this week that had a member of the Utah Jazz doing anything with authority.

The Jazz sucked something awful.  They are playing basketball with the same enthusiasm that I send out booking e-mails.  Despite rooting for the team since I was 7 I am pretty much ready to write off this season.  However I was still trying to figure out the possible reason for the incredibly awful play of the Jazz.  Is it because I am a Yankee fan and at some point one has to pay a price for rooting for the Goldman Sachs of sports?  Probably not.  Or is it the fact that I am a Pittsburgh Steeler fan?  Is a 4 game losing streak the price to pay for rooting for a rapist to win one playoff game?  Maybe – what I fear is that it may be a mathematical equation then.  Perhaps x = number of rape allegations and you raise that to y, which is the number of playoff wins you want?  So if the bye week counts as 1 playoff win and the Steelers win against the Ravens is another then that would explain a 4 game losing streak.

X(Roethlisberger sex assault allegations) to the Y(Steeler playoff wins needed) power = number of Jazz losses

So bad news for Jazz fans, I am rooting for a 16 game losing streak.  The bad news is it looks like that is definitely possible the way they are playing.  The good news is the Steelers 7th Super Bowl is looking more and more likely.  The Jazz are at the Lakers for their next game.

Rooting for his team may be costing my other teams a lot in the karma department.
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Big Ben, Michael Wilbon & Why I Have To…

It is has been an up and down month in sports for me.  First there was my NCAA bracket and having to root for Duke.  Well, Duke made the Finals and all I need was for them to lose for me to win $1400 and 1st place in my pool or, if they won, they could still help me by scoring a lot of points which would have earned me over $100 and 3rd place in my pool.  Instead Duke, in classic Another-Reason-For-Me-To-Hate-Duke-Basketball form managed to win AND score just enough points to win a WNBA playoff game, causing me to lose the 3rd place tiebreaker and walk away with no money and the pain of a Duke Championship.

Baseball season has also started, with my usual apathy for Goldman Sachs, a/k/a The Wall Street Bombers, a/k/a The New York Yankees.  I’m sure by August I will care again, but right now I just get annoyed at all the people waxing nostalgic about the opening of baseball season like it’s still a team of neighborhood boys made good. 

Then the Utah Jazz caused me great joy and frustration.  My favorite team since the age of 7 provided me with the greatest live sporting event I’ve ever attended with a thrilling 140-139 OT victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Kevin Durant of the Thunder had 45 points, but the Jazz won with  just over one second left.  Then, in classic fashion, the Jazz proceeded to lose their season finale (thanks in part to the sensitive, free agent contract-conscious, former Duke Blue Devil Carlos Boozer’s abdominal strain – never trust a Duke Blue Devil) going from a cozy 3 seed at home against the maligned Trailblazers and a second round match-up with the paper tigers known as the Dallas Mavericks, to a 5 seed on the road with match-ups against their two toughest opponents (if they win in the 1st round) Denver Nuggets and then the Los Angeles Lakers).  The Lakers’ Lamar Odom might as well call the Jazz Khloe he fu-ks them so shamelessly.

But all these highs and lows have taken a backseat to the biggest story affecting a team that I am a fan of – The Pittsburgh Steelers.  Their star quarterback, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger, and soon-to-be-played-by Peter Stormare in a Lifetime movie has turned out to be at best, a man with a rich frat boy’s sense of entitlement or at worse, a serial rapist.  It of course brings to mind Kobe Bryant, who I think was the last comparable athlete, to be charged with a sex cime of this magnitude.

At best - a rich frat boy sense of entitlement. At worst - a rapist. Either way - not a fan.

Now the Kobe Bryant case seemed to go much farther through the legal system than the Roethlisberger case has.  The rumors around the Kobe case were that he attempted to and may have successfully forced a back door slam dunk on the woman in Denver.  Now I have only met one woman who reacted with good humor (disturbing on many levels when pondered) at unexpected anal penetration, but this is not the time to re-hash my routine, so even considering that the woman went to Kobe’s room of her own free will, her back door is her back door and no is still supposed to mean no.

But Ben Roethlisberger does not even have that benefit (which of course raises the possibility that this is an incident representative of that time honored tradition in America which is the only crime worse than raping a white woman is being black and raping a white woman – not looking to address that here).  He seems to have, in the very least, acted aggressively and inappropriately towards this young woman and with the assistance of security guards.  I am not as troubled by the allegation that his security guards prevented her friends from getting to the alleged victim, because let’s face it – rock stars and athletes have had sex in all sorts of places and she could have been consenting to sex in a VIP lounge with a famous athlete.  Of course, she could have also been raped, which would make the bodyguards unknowing (or knowing) accomplices.

If this were a one time incident, the benefit of the doubt would be with Roethlisberger, but he has been accused of sexual assaults before.  Normally I don’t condone prostitution, but in Ben’s case it is better than the alternative.  Roethlisberger, in the very least, is placing himself in unsavory and compromising positions and deserves to be suspended by the league.  The Steelers have already said they will be suspending him because the organization, maybe worth a billion, still operates with a family business mentality and that is commendable.  It is even more troubling when you consider some of the “offended” fan base of the Steelers (after all, at Heinz Field last year was where I heard Joshua Cribbs of the Cleveland Brown get called a “Nigger” by a white Steeler fan and no one seemed to bat an eye). (Click below link for that Heinz Field tale)

https://jlcauvin.com/?p=1212

So if that fan base is troubled, you know Big Ben is in big trouble.

But as I was saying before, Roethlisberger has a few options to sex crimes – he could have girlfriends in every city, so that he has variety, but with women he can trust a little better than strangers at a bar.  He could hire prostitutes.  Let’s face facts – these high end services cater to men like him and convicted of using a prostitute is a preferred alternative to even the social stigma of being acquitted of serial rape.  Or he could have a meeting with Derek Jeter and forge a discreet vaginal domination mentorship where he learns how to have successful sexual relations without crimes by him or extortion by her being committed.

But with these options available to a man of Roethlisberger’s stature, as well as previous incidents that should have been warnings, one must wonder, perhaps this is what Roethlisberger wants.  Rape after all is a crime of power, not sex.  So if Ben, given his competitive success, is into power and domination, then sexual gratification would not satisfy this lust.  Michael Jordan exhibited his OCD level competitiveness through excessive gambling, Tiger Woods through excessive relations with menstruating waitresses and perhaps Ben really is a man whose drive for success has a criminal and vile manifestation away from the playing field.  I am not a psychologist, but it makes sense to me. 

I think the Steelers’ reaction has been appropriate, especially if they decide to trade Big Ben.  Even if Roethlisberger is innocent of all charges, he is obviously conducting himself in an embarrassing fashion and that alone gives the Steelers and the NFL a right to punish him to protect their corporate image.  But rape is in my opinion the worst crime there is, but perhaps that is why condemnation is coming more cautiously.  I am still surprised that allegations (and subsequent criminal conviction) of abuse of dogs by Michael Vick seemed to generate more outrage than Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged sexual assaults on women. 

And on a side note, as a fan of Pardon The Interruption on ESPN, I have also found Michael Wilbon’s defense of Ben Roethlisberger reprehensible.  I am a big fan of PTI and a big fan of Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.  But it seems Wilbon, unlike the curmudgeon Kornheiser, has spent too much time cultivating a hybrid existence of serious journalist and Ahmad Rashad-buddy relationships with superstar athletes that he now sees fit to defend, or at least omit criticism, of athletes he favors.  Tiger Woods is a glaring example.  Gilbert Arenas was another to a much lesser extent, but Wilbon’s Roethlisberger commentary has been awful.  He said flat out that he does not think Roethlisberger should be suspended.   He is clearly a Big Ben fan and that is fine, but the lack of a criminal conviction cannot be the only acceptable standard for allowing a player to continue business as usual.  And Wilbon scoffing at Roethlisberger’s loss of a beef jerky endorsement at the end of a show this week was equally insensitive.

Michael Wilbon's commentary has been a huge disappointment during the Roethlisberger coverage.

All in all, it seems like it will be impossible for me to don a Roethlisberger jersey again.  To be fair I do have a Karl Malone jersey and he has not always been a model citizen, but he is a far cry from serial rapist (not to mention my inspiration for pursuing basketball).  And even if Ben is innocent of all criminal liability I’d still rather be associated with a black, redneck power forward than a jerk with a rich frat boy sense of entitlement.

I think I've retired this jersey. And not in a good way.
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My Ten Favorite Things From 2009

No movies made this list (but I have already given you my Top Ten of the Year, so they don’t really need another platform anyway).  Not everything is from this year, but they were read, viewed, worn or observed by me this year.

10. Fred Armisen.  In a year that had some ups and downs, he represented both.  He gave what is the least funny impression ever on Saturday Night Live and he did it week after week.  To quote Forrest Whitaker’s character from The Shield, “It’s like he is pissing in my mouth!”  But the bright side of that is that one year in there is still a void for a decent Obama impression.  If ever there was hope for me in 2010…

You give me hope Fred Armisen.  Hope that SNL will change who does Obama.
You give me hope Fred Armisen. Hope that SNL will change who does Obama.

9. Arrested Development – I know this show is older, but I watched the first three seasons on Netflix this year and it is the funniest multi-season show I have ever seen (important distinction hint hint).  If you have not seen it, you should.

8. Laid Off/Full Time Comedian

According to my biopic script:

I walked out from the law firm that had crushed my soul with a defiant stride knowing that although I was taking a risk pursuing comedy full time I had the confidence of knowing that I would follow my dream and in the end be a success.  I was also touched by the slow clap I received from all my co-workers as I left on my last day.

According to reality:

I planned on going to do comedy full time in 2009 at some point, but given the economic climate and the generally good feeling of a swollen bank account (from a pretty nice place to work as law firms go) I probably needed the push, or shove, of being laid off to pursue comedy full time.  Now my dream still feels attainable, but is starting to resemble a bad acid trip as much as it does a dream on its way to fulfillment.

7. Steeler Super Bowl – This was cool because it was a great game and washed away memories of the only Super Bowl the Steelers had won in my lifetime – Super Bowl XL (40), which was the worst Super Bowl ever played.  I also cannot put the Yankees title on here, because although I like many of the players, something about that victory felt like cheering Goldman Sachs’ bankers when they date rape your daughter and your pension fund.  Of course the Steelers did not help themselves with their “ni-ger” shouting fans this season, but perhaps a poor season will be their punishment for having racist fans.

6. Obama’s Inauguration/Nixonland – Such a cool moment when Obama was inaugurated.  Even cooler was being able to predict how half of America would turn on him as soon as they could and how his young supporters would realize that politics is work and detail and compromise and not a pop culture reality show called For The Love of Obama on VH1.  I always bet on old people in the long term in politics and in 2010 the book Nixonland will prove quite prescient when the Republicans break through the 60 voting block in the Senate and win about 30 seats back in the House.  If you like politics or just want to predict the 2010 election read Nixonland.  But January 20, 2009 was still a great day.  The country was divided on September 10, 2001 and after 9/11 the country rallied around Bush (91% approval, after being dismally low before).  Do you think if the same happened today the country would rally around its President?  I am guessing not.

5. The West Wing – Watched the entire seven seasons on DVD in 5 weeks.  The greatest dramatic series I have ever watched not named The Wire.  Sorry The Sopranos I think you’re great as well, but the detail and the writing of The West Wing was intimidating in its brilliance.

4. New York’s Funniest Comedian – I am still waiting for an e-mail response(to a very politely and respectfully worded e-mail) from a certain comedy club as to why I never got a call back, despite being promised a spot in a showcase and simultaneously being denied a chance to audition because it was unnecessary.  This moment was a low point in my comedy naivete, but also a wake up call that was invaluable.  That is not to say that 40 years from now when I am sitting a lone in a mansion, miserably counting my money in the dark, that I won’t assault, with a bowling pin, some booker or manager or assistant sycophant who shows up to my home.  That reminds me, I think my next CD will be entitled “I’m Finished!”

Sure I will do your show.  But first you have to tell me that bringers and cattle calls are bullsh*t and that you have made false promises.
Sure I will do your show. But first you have to tell me that bringers and cattle calls are bullsh*t and that you have made false promises.

3. The Bonfire of the Vanities – The most enjoyable piece of fiction I have ever read.  Did for novel writing what The West Wing did for me in terms of television.  As Salieri said of Mozart’s music in Amadeus, “Remove one note and there would be diminishment.” That is how I felt about every sentence of this 600+ page novel, which is just as relevant today as it was 22 years ago.  Just don’t see the movie before or after reading it. 

2. Paul Millsap Jersey – I received this gift Christmas 2008, but I did not wear it until this hoops season.  If it’s the thought that counts, then I have never received a better gift in my life.  And I seem to be the only person outside of Utah to possess one, which makes it even more exceptional if you consider things in Utah fashionable. 

The jersey may look ugly to you, but when I got it as a present it made me very happy.
The jersey may look ugly to you, but when I got it as a present it made me very happy.

1. Eastbound and Down – So this is the answer to the question what could be better than great literature, historic national elections, pursuing your dream or seeing your team win a title?  That’s right – a fu-king redneck.  If Eastbound and Down ended after only these 6 episodes it would be like Guns N Roses dying after releasing Appetite For Destruction – a perfect debut to live on forever.  So apologies to my girlfriend, Barack Obama, Tom Wolfe, Jason Bateman, The Steelers, stand up comedy, and everything else that went on this year, but my favorite thing this year was a foul mouthed racist pitcher form Shelby, North Carolina – Mr. Kenny Powers.

And feel free to support Kenny Powers with a Kenny Powers jersey: Kenny Powers Jersey

2009 was your motherfu-kin' year Kenny Powers.
2009 was your motherfu-kin' year Kenny Powers.

Have a Happy New Year readers and fans.  All 6 of you.

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“Tackle That Nigger” & Other Sights and Sounds At…

I was one of the big believers that some of the intense criticism (not so much the criticism itself, but the tone and language and unwarranted passion of the criticism) of President Obama was based on race.  People spoke of the tenor of the national conversation becoming increasingly hostile and aggressive.  Well, fortunately football fans in Pittsburgh do need the nuance of political arguments because they are more than happy to simply blurt out rude and offensive slurs.  Let me take you on a tour of this past Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns game.

As I walked to Heinz field with my brother we observed several classy t-shirts. “Baltimore sucks, Cleveland swallows” was one such shirt that was clearly debasing the national conversation on football and city supremacy.  Another shirt, however, caught our attention.  It simply said “Burn the Brownies.”  We joked to each other that there could be a not-so-subtle racial tone to that shirt. 

In Pittsburgh, Brownies are a rival and a euphamistic slur.
In Pittsburgh, Brownies are a rival and a euphamistic slur.

Everything seemed pretty normal walking to the stadium.  Fat men in Steelerjerseys mocked other fat men wearing Cleveland Browns jerseys.  My brother andI were actually quite surprised at the absence of homophobic slurs that usually abound at professional sporting events.  Maybe this would be an extra classy day at Heinz Field.

After we took our seats we were quickly joined by three men in our row.  They were all approximately 6’1, 220 lbs of high school football and college drinking weight.  They looked like they were about 22 years old.  They spoke like they were from the antebellum south, both in content and accent.  Here is what happened.

Sidenote- Can anyone explain to me how trailer parker/redneck is a uniform accent throughout the country?  I have met trailer parkers/rednecks from places as different as Alabama, Colorado and Michigan, but they all seem to have the identical twang. Weird.

1st Quarter

Comment one from Billy Bob (that is what I will call their ring leader) came at the expense of a black man wearing a Browns jersey.  Billy Bob yelled at this man, (loud enough for close by people to hear, but not loud enough for the man to actually hear) “Sit down Brownie, and I don’t just mean your jersey.” I gave Billy Bob the benefit of the doubt – either he had seen the former FEMA director or he was trying to be intentionally provocativefor his friends’ benefit, which as a comic I could understand a little.   Nothing to get to worked up over.

This guy is a fat racist.
This guy is a fat racist.

2nd Quarter

Listening to fans at a football game is generally like being at Church – don’t expect tons of logical or scientific words to be uttered.  In the former it makes sense because it is predicated on faith.  However, I am amazed at how dumb football fans can be, despite honoring it andfollowing it like it’s a religion.  In this quarter Billy Bob went to get some beers from the concession stand.  However, he was taking his “Terrible Towel,” which his buddy, Cletus, wanted to continue waving.  As soon as it was clear Billy Bob was going to throw the towel I knew it would land on my head.   Four seconds later as I sipped my hot chocolate, a terrible towel landed on my head. 

This angered my brother more than it did me, but what happened afterwards was even more awful.  Cletus, in his drunken 81 IQ way explained to me in these exact words, “Oh man, I’m sorry.  He was trying to throw the towel at me and hit you in the head.”  Oh, thanks for clarifying that for me!  I would have never known that that is what happened, except for the fact that I saw Billy Bob throw a towel and felt it land on my head.  Moron.

Then Cletus, with a chance to star as lead idiot while Billy Bob got beers, turned and spilled his entire current beer on an 11 year old kid in front of him.  Moron.

This kid had a beer dumped on him by dumb, racist crew.
This kid had a beer dumped on him by dumb, racist crew.

3rd Quarter

This climax of this experience occurred during this quarter.  With the Cleveland Browns running the Wildcat offense with a black player playing the quarterback (I don’t know most of their players’ names because they suck – oh correction – they swallow according to the Pittsburgh area literature) the Browns began to make some good plays.  And then, after a particularly good play, Billy Bob uttered the words that ruined my day and possibly won Eastern Pennsylvania for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary against Barack Obama:

“Tackle That Nigger.”

This was one of those moments for me where time sort of stopped.  I felt like Zach Morris in Saved By The Bell where only I could speak or hear what was happening.  My thoughts were, in order:

1) I need to Tweet this (shameful, but very modern reaction)

2) Wait, did Billy Bob  just really say that?  And that loudly?

3) Why is no one looking around? Did anyone hear that?  Or are they ok with it?

4) Damn – I am sure this guy has little interaction with mixed race people, but even so, I am going to have hit up a tanning bed.  But he’d still be thinking it even if he was too embarrassed to say it.  I have had numerous experiences like this where white people have felt free to tell me all sorts of racist things because it was winter and they had no idea I was half black or half anything besides white.

5) Does Billy Bob realize that  he is wearing a Santonio Holmes jersey, who is quite black?  Or is this just emblematic of America’s tradition (diminishing, but still existent) of embracing blacks as entertainers only (even Obama had to brand himself as “cool”), while fearing, dehumanizing and/or denigrating blacks in other contexts.

My reaction was sort of dumbfounded and as I looked around, based on the composition of the immediate 5-6 rows (white, lots of rednecky accents) I did not think an argument, let alone a fight, would be advisable.  But hopefully my letter to the Steelers organization identifying the date and seat numbers will ensure that these guys have a tougher time getting into games and will have to just watch games from the Aryan Nation Father-Son Sunday Brunch.

4th Quarter

My brother and I sat with sort of a vomity look on our faces, not really enjoying the remainder of the game sitting in the KKK box. 

As I sit writing this now I am reminded that racism is alive and well in America.  However, I am just as annoyed with people who would read this, be disgusted and outraged by such overt racism, while reassuring themselves that they are not racist simply because they don’t speak the same language.  The people who did not even flinch when he said “Tackle That Nigger” are the bigger worry to me and there are a lot of them.  Perhaps I should have hit the guy or started something, but it felt like a useless reaction.  Not sure what I should have done exactly, but I wish I could of thought of something more satisfying than just “be pissed off.”

Of course all of this could have been averted if the Steelers tackling was better.

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Friday Night Slights: Comedy at Georgetown University Law Center

There are bad ideas and then there is what happened this past Friday night.  It was the first night of my law school reunion at Georgetown.  For the few days preceding the reunion I was told that some people thought it would be a good idea for me to perform some stand up at The Dubliner, which was the bar where the Class of 2004 happy hour/binge drinking incident was to take place.  I was extremely reluctant to do this, but when you do comedy it is a thin line between politely refusing twice and saying “NO FU-KING WAY” when you are asked a third or fourth time.  So I agreed and at 9:50 pm Eastern Daylight Time on October 16, 2009 I got on a makeshift stage and began what should now be known as the case of Cauvin & Random Comedy Fan v. South American & Eurotrash Douchebags.

9:51 I look around and see about 70 law students watching in the back waiting for me to tell jokes.  I also see 15 people speaking incessantly in the front.  I think, ‘maybe I’ll make this quick because these people may not want to be at some impromptu comedy show for Georgetown Law Alums at a random bar.’  I also think, ‘yep, this was a terrible idea.’

9:53 Too much talking up front (including soccer chants).  I say, “Hey, give me 5 minutes and I will make you laugh a little then I’ll get off the stage.” I figured being understanding to some of the patrons who did not want to be there for law school reunion/annoying jokes would appreciate it.  Instead 5 o’clock shadow South American douche yells out, “Do you want to bet?  You will not make me laugh.”  Oh crap.

5 O'Clock Shadow South American Douchebag: He is The Most Condescending Man In The World
5 O'Clock Shadow South American Douchebag: He is The Most Condescending Man In The World

9:57 Right to the Obama impression.  Law students laughing in the back, but not enough to drown out foreigners in front.  Even Obama bombs with these people.

10:01 pm – after various strange comments and people getting on stage I hop off the stage after enduring a “show” that should have never been.  Then began the fun stuff. 

Random Guy (RG) – Man that was great – don’t listen to these as-holes – that Obama impression is sick

Me – Thanks, this is definitely not the venue for comedy.

5 O’clock Shadow South American Douche (SSAD) – Why do you do this?

Me – First of all, you’re a dick.  Secondly, this is not the place for comedy.

SSAD – But why would you take a microphone if you cannot do comedy?

Me – I don’t know if there is a language problem or if you don’t realize that you are a condescending prick, but my comedy is fine.  What do you do for a living?

SSAD – I do many things.

Me – Ok besides being a dick and not shaving regularly what do you do?

SSAD – I am in business.

Me – Well wouldn’t your job be rather difficult if I came in shouting at you during the entire meeting?

SSAD – But I would never do business if I could not.  You are not good at comedy.

RG – This dude is funny and you are a fu-king rude piece of sh*t.

At that point this complete stranger who appreciated my comedy actually got into about a 6 on 1 confrontation with a contingent of South American and Eurotrash dudes (and a chick) defending my comedy.  I had to step in to prevent it from becoming a fight.  So I guess just when I thought Georgetown Law had struck again and actually infected my stand up (previously immune to all the awfulness of law and law school/center-ness) with a terrible experience I was able to spark a near fight for someone willing to fight for and against my comedy.  And as it turns out the Eurotrash South American contingent were actually LLM (sort of like a Masters in Law – you know for people who have given up on giving up, as opposed to law students who have just given up on dreams and hopes and originality) alums of Georgetown so they just plain sucked.

But it was a pretty nice trip otherwise to the Law Center.  Got to see Chief Justice John Roberts give a talk during the alumni gala dinner.  I was very tempted to pull a Kanye-Taylor Swift on him (perhaps, “Earl Warren was one of the best chief justices of all time!”), but since C-Span was not covering it I figured a di-khead move without television coverage is just a di-khead move.  So law center reunion was overall good, but would shortly be overshadowed by a series of ugly incidents at Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game that I attended with my brother.  To be continued tomorrow…

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Law School Reunion

Technically a Law Center Reunion

This weekend is a busy weekend for me.  I’m going to the Steelers game in Pittsburgh with my brother on Sunday, which alone would make for an eventful weekend.  However, before then I will have embarked on a two day return to Georgetown University Law Center (GULC) for the 5 year Reunion.

My law school career basically began with 9/11, which I think should have been an early warning to me that I was making a wrong choice.  Half way through law school, and seriously contemplating quitting (rather than a glass half full/half empty perspective at the mid point of law school I had more of a “this glass sucks” perspective), I discovered stand up comedy.  After that law school was a breeze.  Whenever a class was boring I just took out a notebook and began writing towards whatever bar or hotel open mic I was doing that night.  Oddly enough, my grades were inversely proportional, semester to semester, to the effort I exerted academically.  That’s right kids – when in doubt; don’t try.

That's not the worst part; J-L is still going to law school.
That's not the worst part; J-L is still going to law school.

So now it’s time to re-visit that time, like attending a War Memorial with fellow soldiers, except slightly less traumatic.  And like old soldiers with Alzheimer’s and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I will probably look at several people whose faces I recognize, but cannot recall their names.   I will have more interesting stories than most, having two legal jobs and a new career since I graduated with dishonor, but will also be expecting most 6th year associates to pick up the lion’s share of the bar tabs.

I hated tax law... who the fu-k are you again?
I hated tax law... who the fu-k are you again?

I think the anticipated questions I will get by demographic at Reunion:

Married Men – So, how cool is stand up comedy on the road?  Cool, except when they pay me.

Married Men with kids – So do you fu-k a lot of chicks on the road? Truthfully – not at all.  (but if it’s someone I did not like in law school, “hell yeah dude – I don’t know what anybody who gets married and has kids is thinking… so how’s your family?”).

Single Men – Why aren’t you drinking more you pussy?

Married Women – So, how cool is stand up comedy on the road?

Married Women with kids – This is my son/daughter (no question – very bossy)

Single Women – Why aren’t you drinking more you pussy?