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Fall TV (so far): The Good, the Bad and…

Now that I have a TiVo that can record four shows at once (thank you RCN for also being $66 cheaper a month than Time Warner) I figured it was time to sample several of the new shows that are debuting starting this month.  Among the pleasant surprises so far have been Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (which feels like a wittier and better Grimm, an NBC show that I am a fan of) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  Having called Andy Samberg “the less talented Adam Sandler” (and having called Adam Sandler the worst movie maker not named Tyler Perry) allow me to eat a healthy plate of crow (I assume crow is paleo diet allowed).  Samberg is funny and the rest of the cast is excellent, with Andre Braugher showing great range as the primary source of deadpan humor on the show.  Now there are several shows still to come (and I am not watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – why would I watch a spinoff of an overrated movie focusing on the non-super heroes? Nor will I watch The Goldbergs, which I believe was secretly financed and produced by Hezbollah to make people hate, or reinforce prejudices against, Jews), but I think, as is the tradition of the Righteous Prick, I should focus on a few of the abortions that somehow survived to become fully viable shows on television.

Happy to say I was wrong about Brooklyn Nine Nine

(at this point I would also like to point out that Breaking Bad is poised squarely ahead of The Wire and behind Six Feet Under as the greatest drama of all time in the RP’s opinion.  This Sunday’s finale may be the show to finally bump 6FU from my all time greatest perch.  But seriously, if you don’t believe me – watch 6FU all the way through and then tell me if any finale has ever left as big a hole in your soul as that (unless Breaking Bad delivers, which it may).

So, the two shows so far that have me concerned are Dads on Fox and Mom on CBS.  Dads is not really worth discussing, except in the context of wondering whether Seth MacFarlane got lucky with Family Guy.  Admittedly the film Ted was fun (thought I don’t think brilliant), but as far as television hasn’t MacFarlane been behind American Dad and The Cleveland Show (Adam Carolla once said of his friend MacFarlane that MacFarlane was almost on one of the 9/11 planes, which would have deprived the world of Family Guy, but silver lining, no Cleveland Show)?  And now add Dads to the pile of excrement.  People were complaining and protesting about it being offensive, but the only thing offensive was that it was trying to pass itself off as a comedy.  I expect the show to be an early casualty, but then again we live in a country where Jeff Dunham makes $15 million a year.

But Dads is merely the undercard on this month’s Octagon match aimed at putting good comedy in a chokehold.  Mom, on CBS received better reviews than Dads (though mostly in comparison), but it is horrific.  It has Anna Faris and Allison Janney, so my expectations were high, even if it did come from the mind that made Two and a Half Men a monster hit.  Both women are experienced and talented, but the show is poop.  Faris plays a single mom of two (she was a teen mom, begat from a teen mom, played now by Allison Janney), but yet she lives in a nice house on a waitress salary.  The show is a great whitewash of working class life and bad choices.  The fact that a struggling waitress, single mom can live in a cozy three bedroom house (assuming at least three bedrooms since each of her children has their own room) is absurd.  This is sort of the tradition now of America – showcase working class people on sitcoms or reality shows presenting their lives as whimsical adventures, while denying the increasing difficulty of actual working class people.

The worst part of Mom, was that at the end of the episode it is revealed that Faris’ teen daughter is pregnant.  So three generations of teen moms is now hilarious?   I remember vaguely the Dan Quayle complaints about Murphy Brown, celebrating the single mother lifestyle.  Although my left leaning politics sees the absurdity of Quayle’s complaint it seems, like with a lot of things, the liberal pendulum may have swung too far.  My real question is where are the Republicans denouncing the show Mom?  This is what happens when Republican politicians are too busy trying to argue against everything a black President does.  Being against a black president always trumps lecturing women, real or fictional, on their lives, even when a valid complaint might actually be made.  So allow me to denounce Mom on comedic grounds and hopefully Ted Cruz will speak out against the moral absurdity of Mom soon.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday!

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The Things New Comics Should Be Doing

As I get set to celebrate/mourn a full decade performing stand up comedy it dawned on me that a majority of the posts I write concerning comedy have a somewhat negative or cynical spin.  Sure there are problems and issues with the art, as well as the business of stand up comedy, but I have certainly learned and experienced some very positive things.  Comedy has allowed me to see so many parts of America (and they are all obese).  I have heard racist comments in the deep south as well as the shallow northeast.  In other words, a career in comedy has allowed me to have a rich and fulfilling experience learning about the human condition in America.  It has also given me great insights into how, instead of just being mean and cynical to newer comics, my experience and observations of how comedy has changed in the last decade could provide guidance to those new comics.  So that they can become more successful and avoid the bitterness and cynicism that has sometimes stifled me, here are some of my suggestions for people just starting out in comedy or thinking about trying stand up (or maybe even some veterans), because after all: ANYONE CAN DO IT!

1.  Put “Comedian” in front of your name and as your occupation on all social media.  In other professions you have to earn your title, or at least exhibit some shame in calling yourself something you have not quite earned (like that look on a podiatrist’s face when he demands that you to call him or her “doctor.”  Well, comedy doesn’t work like that.  Simply claim the title after that first open mic and never let it go.  You don’t even need to earn laughs, let alone money, to call yourself a comedian.  And by putting it in your Facebook name you announce to the world that you are in fact a comedian.  Like they did not know already!

2.  Refer to your schedule of shows as a “Tour.”  A tour used to mean a sponsored series of events or at least a series of events similar in their significance or theme that calling them a tour seemed to mean something.  I might be inclined to refer to my mish mash of performances as a schedule or at least call the section of my website “live calendar,” but in this day and age a schedule is something you put on Microsoft Outlook.  You are a comedian! It says so on your Facebook name – so act like a rock star performer and call your list of shows a tour.  People will respect you more.  Even if that tour takes you to the basement of a taco restaurant.

3.  Tweet and Facebook “Up”.  Try to re-tweet and #FF as many people above you as possible.  And be sure to like the statuses of anyone significantly higher than you in the social media realm.  These more successful and/or famous people like being treated well and will recognize you for it.  And remember, every set that someone with more momentum than you does should result in either a  “you killed”, “you crushed” or “fu*king brilliant!” compliment from you.

4.  Refer to the right comics. A corollary to number 3 is to make sure you know who to praise, who not to praise. Easy examples to start you on your way: Louis CK – the best and  Dane Cook – the worst.  You will look like an asshole who has no idea what is going on in comedy if you veer to sharply from the boundaries that have been set by the comedy community.

5.  Do long sets as soon as possible.  I had a comedian (said so on his Facebook name) tell me he had been doing comedy for a very short time but was already doing 30 and 40 minute sets.  YES!  This is what it takes people.  Having 30 minutes is easy – if you can speak confidently for thirty minutes, can find a space anywhere in America with a microphone and someone willing to let you do it, then voila! You have thirty minutes of material!  Why wait – you may already be ready!

6. Start a web series.  Things may not be completely blowing up in stand up in your first 5 months (and you already have a podcast and a blog) so it is probably time to diversify your funny portfolio. Start doing a web series.  Nothing will make you a better comedian than by producing non-stand up comedy content.

7.  After one year, begin lecturing other performers and sharing what you have learned.  Once you have been doing stand up for one year, it is time to start sharing your knowledge with other comics.  Snort and chuckle when newer comedians say things that seem arrogant and remind them that you have been on the road and know what this business is really like (even one road gig qualifies you as an expert).  However, if you are talking to a comedian with significantly more experience, be sure to show them deference by saying “you know how it is” after complaining to a 12 year veteran how upset you are that your career is stalled after 19 days.  And speaking of the road…

8.  Never do the road.  Not only is the road not a really viable career path at this point except for the independently wealthy or established headliners, but it is not really what you should be about.  Working the road will help you get a good 30-45 minutes over time, whereas staying where you are will be good for networking and creating a ten minute set that your favorite neighborhood hangout will enjoy.

9.  Record an album as soon as you can and sell it for $5.  I defer to comedian Andy Sandford’s Facebook advice to young comedians, which sort of inspired me to give my advice column to young comedians:

hey, if you’ve been doin comedy for 6 months and have 45 minutes of untrimmed quasi-material that no one wants to hear…you need to record and release your own album on itunes ASAP, before you progress and hate the material. In the past, record labels kept artists like yerself down by having standards. Well the future is now, and you can sell direct to fans just like Louis CK, who you are most likely imitating

10. Create a Character.  Your voice and opinions, God willing, will never fully develop because within a few years you should be in development for television projects and never have to do stand up again.  However, in case you are not quite on that track, develop a character – make your voice sound different, be different, even if the thoughts expressed through your material are not.  Greg Giraldo is dead.  Pee Wee Herman is alive – which one would you rather be?

Good luck on your comedy adventure young comedian!

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

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How To Get Along With A Struggling Comedian

Hello everyone.  It has been eight weeks since I last posted and I have been itching to write.  My new site is finally up and I am very proud of it (www.JLCauvin.com). I have been touring cities at a relatively exhausting pace (by the end of the month it will be 11 cities and 10 states in under 40 days – consider it my Lenten wandering in the desert of comedy), reaping little financial benefit and even less comedy industry credit. To give you a glimpse of my current comedy pessimism, two nights ago I dropped a pitch perfect George Lopez impression on stage for the first time and all I could think was, “Well there is another thing I can do that will go to the grave with me.”

I usually spend a lot of time, when I do write about comedy, complaining or critiquing aspects of the business, whether it is bookers, managers, clubs, or monolithic groups of comedians.  But I realized it is not just them making comedy more difficult, it is regular people and everyday individual comedians who make this such an annoying journey at times, even if they don’t intend to.  So, inspired by the “Broken Windows” theory of crime prevention, which theorizes that swarming and fixing little problems will lower overall crime, I present the “Broken Compliments and Questions About Comedy” theory on making comedians, who are struggling in the increasingly weakening middle class of comedy, happier day-to-day.  Obviously these are my own personal theories, but I doubt I am the only one for whom these will resonate.  Some of these apply to fellow comedians and some apply to regular folk.  Enjoy:

1) Re-Tweet, don’t Favorite. And don’t email or direct message me that I am funny.  I am a reluctant abuser of social media.  If I did something else I would avoid it, but it is a part of entertainment so I try to immerse myself in it.  But the reward is very simple – if someone likes something, share it. That is how I can advance my reach and audience.  Treating my material like a black guy that a white girl secretly dated in college is helpful to no one.  I am sure there is some benefit to favoriting. I just don’t care.

2) Don’t ask me about how my comedy is going. And definitely don’t refer to it as “my comedy thing/skits/sketch/hobby.” If you think it is so trivial then don’t ask about it. But if you are actually curious then speak of it like it is a career or a job.  No one ever asked me how the “legal thing” was going when I was a practicing lawyer.

Want to see me smile about comedy? It's unlikely, but these guidelines give it a chance.

3) Don’t tell me about your friend who is hilarious unless they are a comedian. Otherwise you are insulting and degrading what I have sacrificed to be skilled at what I do. I was the funny asshole at the cafeteria table and have been since I was 10. But now I make strangers laugh and have done so with an economically crushing, relationship harming, career risking, trial and error process.  So your friend can go fu*k himself.

4) Don’t say you want to go to a show or to let you know when I am in town unless you mean it.  You owe me nothing.  I mean it. I am doing comedy whether you support it or not.  It is like a story I shared from a couple of years ago. A decently connected manager was very interested in working with me to find a way to publicize my Obama impression. We met several times over several months and then he told me that he decided not to commit to it.  The lesson – don’t say anything unless you’ve made the decision to act, not just because you think you might act.  That way expectations are not raised. Simple and thoughtful.  If I don’t know, then I can’t care.

5) If a joke goes up on Facebook, “Like” it – don’t piggyback on the joke. There are a few egregious offenders of this – the person that never acknowledges a good joke, but then just takes the 95% of thought that the writer created and then simply attempts to add to it. If you like a joke, like it. If you don’t ignore it. But if someone beat you to a concept, don’t try to pull yourself up by their bootstrap.

6) Try to make famous people work for it on social media. Comedians and civilians alike – try not to kiss too much ass, especially of funny people, unless they are actually being funny.  They do not care about you or how many times you suck their twitter di*k.

7) Don’t ask me why I don’t have an agent or a manager.  It is not by choice.  I don’t want to be a struggling freelance unknown, unappreciated comedian.  And to answer your follow up, yes, my career would be easier if I had people booking me for shows and auditions and gigs.  Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

8 ) If you do nothing do not ask me to follow you on Twitter. I will follow friends and fellow comedians that I like either personally (which pains me because sometimes I feel like I am giving positive reinforcement to a mediocre product) or professionally, but every so often a person from a show will ask for a “follow back.”  Why? Did you just travel 100o miles to entertain me with your writing and performance and I will receive more of that?  OR are you just someone who tweets random personal thoughts and opinions with way too many pronouns, which make even your mundane thoughts hard to process (“This book is great!” – what fu*king book?!!!).  But thank you for equating my career of making people laugh and trying to build a fan base that will purchase tickets to see me and raise my minuscule profile with your desire to brag to your friends about how many people checked our your twitpic of your salad at Panera Bread.

Ahhhhh, feels good to be back.

Blog

Support My Free Comedy Content For Free To Make…

Having given up on making money through comedy I have dedicated myself to creating tons of free content to you, my 11 fans.  Because I have nothing to gripe about specifically (sorry) I am hoping you will help me out.  There are some free ways you can support my comedy endeavors that would make me moderately happy.

FOLLOW MY PODCAST & SUBSCRIBE ON iTUNES

My podcast has been going nicely and all I need for you to do is click the link below and:

1) Click the “become follower” of the podcast – the numbers help and then you receive a notification as soon as the new episode is up.

2) Use the “subscribe through iTunes” link on this page (it is not in the iTunes directory yet, so if you search in iTunes you won’t find it yet) to get it downloaded every Tuesday directly into your iTunes account.

http://righteouspk.podomatic.com/

WATCH MY NEW VIDEOS, FORWARD THEM TO FRIENDS & SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE PAGE

Simple and free steps.  These two new ones are really good and gaining subscribers, like podcast “followers,” helps me (for free)

 

FOLLOW MY PODCAST AND ME ON TWITTER AND BE A FAN ON FACEBOOK

www.Twitter.com/RPrickPodcast

www.Twitter.com/JLCauvin

https://www.facebook.com/#!/RighteousPrick

Sorry for the self promotion blog, but these are all free ways you can support what I write and what I produce so if I cannot make money I might as well feel slightly validated.  Thanks for your support and I wil be back spewing venom at the comedy business next week.

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The 2011 J-L Cauvin Reader

With 2011 coming to a close I thought I would give fans, friends and new readers a Best of  2011 of my blogs.  I have divided them into 5 categories and the following blogs represent both my favorites and the ones that got by far the most web traffic.  The five categories are:

  1. The Comedy Business
  2. Road Gig Stories
  3. Politics
  4. Movies
  5. Sports

If you are a fan of the blog I’d appreciate you passing this along (or you can always pass along your favorite individual posts from within this blog) through Twitter and Facebook.  This is really a collection of mys best stuff so sending it to people could turn them into fans. Thanks again for reading.  2012 will be a big and new year for my on-line content and I hope you will:

  • become a fan of “Righteous Prick” on Facebook and
  • follow @RPrickPodcast on Twitter
  • Every Monday starting in January I will post my movie reviews to www.YouTube.com/JLMovieLife (subscribe today even though the page is not finished), and
  • look for my new podcast every Tuesday starting January 3rd on iTunes (Righteous Prick) and
  • and please continue to come to this blog on Wednesday and Fridays for new posts.

 

A picture of me reading makes sense since this post is caled the J-L Reader.

THE COMEDY BUSINESS

  1. How To Fail In Comedy While Really Trying – A Breakdown of the Breakdown of the Traditional Path to Comedy Success (with an epic battle with “Bob Hellener” – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2304
  2. In Re Bob Hellener – Comedy hack and all around douche Dan Nainan is revealed to be the coward behind Bob Hellener – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2596
  3. Charlie Sheen – The Comedy America Deserves – A Breakdown of Charlie Sheen’s 2011 “Comedy Tour” – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2254
  4. Comedy One Hit Wonder – A self-depricating take on my career after 8 years – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2771
  5. A Tribute To Patrice O’Neal – A Eulogy For One of My Favorite Comedians – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=3099

ROAD GIGS

  1. The Best & Worst Fan Mail From Des Moines, Iowa – A Series of Fan/Love Letters From A Homophobic Self-Proclaimed Blow Job Queen (watch the video)- https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2210
  2. The Hills Have Eyes Wide Shut – A Swinger Party Overshadows My Show in Allentown, PA – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2165
  3. Cleveland Extremities – The Loss of Lebron James Apparently Caused An Unusually Large Number of Men in Cleveland to Masturbate in Public – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2665
  4. 30 Hour Train Ride From New Orleans to NYC – Of All The Train Rides I’ve Taken For Comedy, This Was The Most Epic – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2867

POLITICS & ECONOMICS

  1. Economics For Dummies – 9 months Before Occupy Wall Street I wrote this – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2178
  2. 3 Non Partisan Things America Should Dohttps://jlcauvin.com/?p=2742
  3. Occupy Wall Street – A Follow Up to #1 in light of the Occupy Wall Street Movement – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2987

MOVIES

  1. Review of Super 8 – I Expose JJ Abrams As Hollywood’s Bernie Madoff – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2537
  2. Someone Must Stop Adam Sandler – Title Speaks For Itself – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2710
  3. Return of the Planet of The Apes – My Favorite Movie of the Year (and a funny write up) – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2752

SPORTS

  1. The End Of The Diet Jordan Era – My Summary of Kobe Bryant’s Era as Diet Michael Jordan – https://jlcauvin.com/?p=2412
Blog

Movie of the Week: Cowboys & Aliens

My real movie of the week is The Devil’s Double, but unfortunately I promised the gf I would wait to see what critics are calling the “Scarface of Arabia” so instead the review of the week is for Cowboys and Aliens.

The movie is solid, but by no means spectacular.  Here’s the breakdown:

THE GOOD

Daniel Craig is nearly perfect in the movie.  His few fights are well executed.  His few moments of humor are perfect and not cheesy.  And he seems to have the gravity to convey a cowboy, despite being in a sci-fi movie.

The action scenes are pretty well done and I will not specify how it ends, but at least it does not do that shameful “NOW WE HAVE TO HAVE A SEQUEL!!!!” moment.  Now if the movie is successful I am sure there will be a sequel and that is OK, but at least the movie does not conclude in a pandering and obvious way.

The supporting cast is largely solid, headlined by the alluring eyes of Olivia Wilde.

THE BAD

Harrison Ford.  He has officially announced his candidacy for the “Robert DeNiro – My Legacy Be Damned I need a Paycheck” club.  Watching Harrison Ford in this movie gave me the same feeling I had watching Karl Malone play his final season for the Los Angeles Lakers.  My thought in both cases was “You have earned the right to do this, but I still do not know why you did.”  Harrison Ford has one note in this movie – crusty old man.  It is as if he took the line from The Fugitive at the police station where he yells “You find this man!  You find this man!  He had… a mechanical arm!” and just delivered every line with the same grit.

From the middle of the movie on I felt like Favreau and the team that wrote the movie were veering into Michael Bay territory of cheesy jokes and excessive amounts of knowing smirks.  Be on the lookout for Favreau (after the quality of Swingers and Iron Man 1) to turn into the next Michael Bay.  Hopefully he does not, but I am sure with the money Bay’s crap makes it is tempting.

This movie does something that a lot of sports and action movies do.  In the beginning of the climactic battle between (spoiler) the cowboys and aliens the aliens are kicking the cowboys’ (and Indians) asses.  Then a character dies, which get the cowboys and Indians pumped up (as if the fate of the world and their own lives was not sufficient motivation to give it their all) and then, without any additional weaponry or manpower they start to turn the tide.  I hate that sh*t.  That is only the beginning portion of a pretty good conclusion of the film, so do not feel cheated by that description.

The Indians – why are Native Americans always extremely noble or extreme fu*k ups?  Just once I would like to see (even if not true) a group of apathetic Indians who just want to be left alone in a movie, rather than either fighting for the spirit warriors of the past or drunk in a gutter somewhere.

THE UGLY

This portion is dedicated to the black gentleman sitting behind me in the theater.  He represented his stereotype well, not allowing a single moment, whether funny, action-packed, tense or boring to go by without his inner monologue being expressed outwardly.  By my comment count here is the breakdown:

Oh wow’s – 19

Oh sh*t!s – 11

Ooooooo’s – 33

Miscellaneous – 114

And my personal favorite – “Use that knife to stab that nigga!”  And by “nigga” he meant alien.

Final Grade – B/B-