This weekend I returned to Catch A Rising Star in Princeton, New Jersey for a pair of shows. It has been far too long since I did a road recap blog, but there have been good reasons why I have not written a road recap blog in a while. The first is that I did not have as many gigs as I would like. The second is most of my fans seem to detest reading. The third is I did not want to. But other than those three small impediments, I was pumped to write! And now, with part of my New Year’s Resolutions was to resume blogging once a week, here we are!
Friday was a surprise sell out (usually Saturdays sell out but Fridays can be a tough draw) and the crowd was superb (good laughers, hecklers that were brought to heel easily, and big merch purchasers). After the show I rewarded myself with a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar and a smart water (better known as “the gentleman’s threesome”) and fell asleep. Here’s a fun clip from the Friday show:
I woke up Saturday with a full day ahead of me in Princeton, but I opted to catch up on a lot of writing that I needed to do (these brilliant, lightly-viewed sketches do not write themselves folks!). So I was holed up in my room in the Hyatt and managed to write so much I had no time left for the gym (nothing like avoiding something to make me productive). I did make it out for a brief meal at PF Chang’s, where I received the most J-L on brand fortune cookie of all time:
The show Saturday night was a sell out as well, but the crowd had a few more annoying people in it than Friday And though they did not buy merch, several people expressed their disappointment that my merch cost $20 (one guy said “Hey I gotta be honest.” Really? I mean you can offer me your unsolicited opinion, but I don’t think you were subpoenaed. You always had the option of saying nothing. And with the prices of hats right now, I am not sure $20 is the sticker shock for the rest of the country (or the show 24 hours earlier) that it was for the trolls on Saturday.
Despite having a hotel provided for another night I went to the Princeton NJ transit station to go home that night. I Shortly before midnight I was greeted by my dog Cookie with whimpers and spins because my 30 hour absence felt like a month to her.
Tell your friends in the Tampa, FL area that I am headed their way! Because what comedy fan wouldn’t want to be part of comedy blog history?
This weekend I had a pair of gigs in Princeton, NJ at Catch A Rising Star. It was my first time back to the club in what feels like 10 years (it did not go well when I featured there a decade ago) and fortunately, thanks to a killer Saturday show, I left with my head held high. But until then it seemed like a potential disaster. So with that thrilling and misleading intro, let’s break down the most recent road trip!
Friday: Lyft Tears Me Down
On Friday I woke up early to get some legal work done (Spike Lee’s documentary about me, J-L Doin’ Work, was scrapped because reviewing documents by the Beige Mamba was deemed “not as interesting” as his Kobe documentary), hit the gym and then made my way to Newark Penn Station for the 6:03pm express train to Princeton, NJ. I would have taken the train to NPS and saved myself money, but NJ transit is shaped like a V in my area, with Secaucus as the pivot point of the V. You need to go all the way to Secaucus to get a train that goes along the other part of the V. So you end up going past Newark to get back on a different train line that runs through Newark. So to do that by train I would have had to leave at 430pm, whereas a 530pm cab would allow me to catch a better and faster train out of Newark Penn (which for TV enthusiasts is what The WalkingDead is based on).
So when I ordered my Lyft at 5:20 I was offered a faster ride (to arrive 8 minutes before the 6:03 train) if I upgraded to Lux (these are Lyft cars sans food/beverage/jizz stains) for a couple of dollars more. Then I got a text from my Lux driver:
“Are you going to [sic] far?”
I did not reply because I was going exactly as far as I wanted. Not one step more. So when my driverette (a female driver) showed up I hopped in and she asked where I was going. I told her Newark Penn Station and she said she wanted to go to NYC. I thought, “You can, as soon as you drop me off.” For the rest of the ride she kept nervously checking her phone, while hitting every bad patch of traffic. Then as we got near Newark Penn at 5:59pm she opted to go through the most clogged traffic near the station and I missed the 6:03 by 1 minute. She also rejected a person who was clearly her pick up at Newark Penn. To top it all off, she dropped me off in the 3rd lane of traffic so she could make an easy escape to whatever awaited her in NYC. When I opted to not tip her I noticed that she had 5 stars. Not since the last Terrence Malik film I saw have I seen something so absurdly overrated.
I caught the next express to Princeton and arrived at Princeton Junction at 7:00pm (8pm show time). The club is located in the Princeton Hyatt and GPS said it was a 1.3 mile walk. I opted to walk. And then .4 miles into the walk the sidewalk disappeared. This happens far too much in our car obsessed, fat fu*k society – even if you want to walk and keep the Grim Reaper at bay for another 20 minutes, you can’t. So I ordered another Lyft to take me less than a mile because to walk this path in the dark would probably spell my death via oncoming traffic. When my Lyft driver arrived he farted when I got in the car. And it smelled. His rating on Lyft? 5 stars.
I arrived at the hotel, checked in to a lovely king suite and then headed down to the club where there was an audience that could be described as “small.” We had a good show (I posted to Twitter a sad engagement where no one got my Opus Dei reference) and oddly enough the crowd seemed to like me more the longer I was on stage, which is contrary to many audiences and most relationships I’ve been in. A highlight was seeing a friend from my days in Washington DC when I was a law student. Sadly I have only seen him around once a decade and a joke that hit well on stage was “a friend of mine from DC who saw me when my career started is here tonight. He knew me when I was only performing in front of a couple dozen people in DC. Now, 19 years later he sees me in a different city performing for a couple dozen people. Dreams come true!” I retreated to my room with an ice cream bar after the show and got a solid 6 hours sleep.
Saturday: Better Show. Better Lyft Ride. Papa Johns’.
On Saturday morning I went to get breakfast. I saw a buffet display and was then told that it was for a private party. I then made my way down to the restaurant for an delicious, overpriced hotel breakfast (this is why I prefer Hampton Inns, the official hotel chain of J-L’s comedy “career” – breakfast is always included). After that I did something I never get to do – I read all the magazines and papers I subscribe to – The Athletic, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NY Times and Michael Cohen’s substack. I even spent 3 hours reading 1/8 of a ProPublica article! Then it was time to have lunch with a long time fan who also had a business proposal to pitch me (TBD). We went to a great pizza place in Robbinsville, NJ called Papa’s Tomato Pie. Superb.
After I returned to the hotel I did a few hours of writing. I then had a steak dinner at the hotel restaurant (at this point my spending for the trip was approaching the pay check I would receive at the end of the night for the weekend work). The set was strong (with about 40 new minutes since the (2) special tapings (angry emoji) to the point that I am planning on a spring taping of my 8th hour – tentative title “The Hateful 8th” – SELF PRODUCED) and as proof here is a clip from the show as well as a Facebook posting about one superb fan, that of course seemed to be interpreted by many on Facebook as more sentimental than funny, as it was intended, because… my #fans.
So after the show I had a drink with the other comics and the show promoter. I then decided to head home that night, rather than sleep in the hotel again (even though it was really nice). I kept checking Lyft (prices ranged from $66 to $121) and then I saw on the wait and save option $54 to go from Princeton to my apartment in Bloomfield. SOLD! My driver picked me up in a nice car (could have been a clean/jizz free Lux car, but was obtained via the common folk option) and beat the estimated arrival time by 14 minutes, all while laughing with me when I told him about Friday’s two awful drivers. I gave him a deserved 5 stars and a $20 cash tip because at the end of a weekend like this, someone good at their job should turn a profit.
Thanks to CARS in Princeton and thanks to everyone who showed up. Off to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 12 days.
Last night I did a show at a club in Princeton, New Jersey. I was the feature act (the middle act doing about 25 minutes) and it went so well that I woke up with an e-mail from the owner/manager telling me that I was now demoted to emcee the shows tonight (instead of featuring) because I did not “look comfortable” and referred to a cheat sheet on stage. I think I would have been happier if I were banned from the club and arrested for indecent exposure than being demoted. Unfortunately, being demoted to emcee one night after featuring (with the same headliner) is like being fired from a job, but then still having to show up to work for another couple of weeks. Obviously an awkward situation.
The sad part was last night’s show did not resemble a club gig. That is because 65% of the 30 patrons were all doctors in some medical consortium. Their average age was 55 and their favorite topic was themselves (for the record, the headliner is pretty dirty, but she scored big time points with the crowd by doing, drumroll please… lots of crowd work). The emcee automatically does crowd work as part of his/her job description – “get the crowd involved and excited” and the headliner can see the tone of the show through the feature, which leaves the feature to figure out where he or she can go. Sort of like being a set up man in baseball. Your job is just not to fu-k up the show before Mariano Rivera.
So after my first four jokes (tried and true from San Fran to Denver to Boston and every sh*thole open mic in NY so like I said, tried and true) fell flat I realized that just a handful of people and the comics were giving me any consistent laughter. So at that point I took a long hard look at my set list. Far from a memory helper it was more like a temporary examination of the choices I have made in my life. Then I just continued to rip through jokes that usually work with everyone outside of conservative medical professionals staying at Princeton, NJ hotels. I was comfortbale the whole time, but I guess I can’t say the same for the crowd. Some things went well and they even laughed a lot at the Obama impression (despite being almost unanimous in their displeasure for him – aside – I hope most of them lose their jobs with a public option if that is possible), but their laughter stopped just in time to give me an awkward exit off of the stage.
I think my main problem is that I confused the show’s proximity to New York as “non-road.” With my exponentially heavier travel schedule this year I have seen what works and what doesn’t work outside of major urban centers. Sometimes I have been surprised (Denver in particular), but most places and most people are content with the same old stuff (blacks and whites are different, black comics who are loud and animated versus calm and thought provoking, crowd work, women and men are so different, etc.). It is as if people do not go to comedy clubs to hear something original in these places, but to hear the same jokes that they have always liked from different people. This is not necessarily “wrong,” but it is irritating. Oh, fu-k it’s wrong. Dumbasses. Buy a CD if that is what you like. But either way it would have been nice to have one show to make the adjustment from “comedy club set” to the “older white people who do not get pop culture or sports after 1985 set/love crowd work about themselves and are possibly the intellectually slowest group of doctors in America” set. I guess not.
What’s absurd is that although I feel my stuff is on the whole fairly original, I am not re-inventing the wheel on stage.
I guess what I have to figure out (and what I fought with my girlfriend about – I turn into a verbal Jake LaMotta after a bad show) is how to get paid: infrequently for somewhat original concepts, without being a self-righteous Hedberg or Carlin rip off that abound in “alt” scenes or more frequently for a routine that makes me want to kill myself but that comedy “fans” eat up on the road while I hope for a big break that will allow me to be my own voice.
But first I have to sludge through rain/snow to host two shows tonight. Cold, wet and demoted – sounds like I’ll be much more comfortable tonight.
I saw an ad recently for One-A-Day (the multi-vitamin seller) Gummy Vitamins. These vitamins are for adults. Because after all haven’t you ever been having a multi-vitamin with a glass of juice, coffee or water in the morning and just thought, “God, if only there was a way to get my vitamins and minerals without putting up with all the fu-king bullsh*t that comes with a multi-vitamin!” Well now, finally, grown adults don’t have to suffer the indignity and hardship of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for 1-3 seconds without enjoying a piece of candy.
I thought purchasing condoms, lube and childrens’ toys at the same time at Duane Reade was the most demeaning thing I could do at a pharmacy, but I don’t think it’s anything next to purchasing adult gummy vitamins. And why are scientists working on this? Who is not taking a multivitamin because it’s just it’s just too unpleasant an experience? Chewables already exist for those people with poor gag reflexes or traumatic step father incidents so why are the gummies necessary? Is there even one person with decades of mineral deficiencies who is treating these vitamins like a Kathy Griffin fan club that just found out a cure for AIDS has been found?
I also just read an article in the NY Times style section about how people in my age group are clinging to their youth (the most offensive example was of colleges, including Princeton and Williams College safety school Middlebury partaking in Quidditch tournaments).
I have been told that I am too negative sometimes with my blogs and comedy. First off, fu-k you. Secondly, if you open your eyes and ears for all our technological advances it keeps looking like we are going backwards. Adults playing Quidditch and eating candy vitamins may not seem terrible, but it just reminds me of those early 90s Jenny Jones or Jerry Springer episodes where mothers in their 40s would walk out dressed provactively (known today as business casual) their embarrassed daughters would cringe as the mothers did turns shouting things like, “You wish you was as hot as me! I can have any man in here! That’s right baby!” and other white trash affirmations.
Now that we have moved beyond demonizing these trashy people and have given them more respectable terms like “cougars” and “middle school teachers,” we have to continue to compete with youth so we don’t feel older and responsible and like our time has passed. So we have gummy vitamins for adults only a few months after Flintstones released their gummy vitamins (who the fu-k are these 6 year olds that think they can have all this fun?) and we play Quidditch as college students. Granted, I am sure these kids are still properly considered losers, but since plastic surgery can only keep you young on the outside while your soul decays underneath I guess now is the time to start acting the age we wish we were.