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Road Comedy Recap: Albany Fireworks

This weekend, in the spirit of patriotism and comedy, I travelled to Albany, the capital of New York, to perform at the Albany Funny Bone. For anyone concerned for my safety, do not worry – Albanians do not come from Albany.  The club is located in a mall with an 18 screen theater, a Pizzeria Uno and a Dunkin Donuts (along with dozens of other stores with no relevance to my life) so you can anticipate that this recap will be full of humor, movies and gluttony.  But it will also feature a horrible heckler, a terror threat in the Mall and Donald Trump watching fireworks.  So here we go…

Travel and Accomodations

I left for Albany on Thursday morning on a packed train (and 90% of the people were headed to Albany – who knew it was such a big destination – perhaps it was just a bunch of corrupt business people and escorts headed to the capital to celebrate another “hey at least WE weren’t federally indicted” end of the political year for the State Senate and Assembly.  Anyway, when I arrived in Albany I was greeted by Travis, the club manager who drove me to the Hampton Inn (I have always liked Hampton Inn and this one from the staff to the accommodations was the best one I’ve ever been in).  The only thing I found disturbing was one of the guests who each morning during breakfast basically gave herself DVD commentary on her whole breakfast (while verbally smothering her son – I thought he might have had some special needs, but then I realized it may have been the Mom with a social and/or personality disorder (“Ok so we are going to have some oatmeal and then – where is the milk? Oh here’s the milk – do you want cereal or waffles – you have to have one, cereal or waffles – and they have bagels, what kind of bagels do they have – need some kind of juice…”)  But some kid’s awkward upbringing is hardly a concern when you are crushing delicious waffle iron waffles (the three historically great equalizers in society – the printing press, the Internet and the budget hotel waffle iron).

J-L’s Movie Life

I ended up seeing three movies that weekend.  The first and worse by far was The BFG.  I will post my review here for your perusal, but it was weak on effects and boring – perfect combination.  I then did a Purge marathon on Friday – watched the first two on my computer and then went to see the third in the theater before the Friday shows.  Unlike many thriller/horror franchises that just become shameless money grabs, The Purge started with an interesting and provocative concept and has actually improved with each installment, especially as mild social commentary.  I couldn’t help but think that the man with his two kids under 10 years old had made a poor choice bringing his kids to it, but no judgment. The third movie I saw was The Shallows with Blake Lively and other than a goofy climax (and no I am not referencing my reaction to the first 15 minutes of the film that feature Lively in slow motion putting on and taking off her surfing wet suit) was a very well done thriller.  So who would think that a shark movie starring the wife of Blond-Dane Cook-with-creatine and a third installment of a low budget horror franchise would beat Spielberg, but they both did.

Terror Watch List

I realized a harsh lesson walking through the mall on Friday.  As a comedian on the road I spend a lot of time walking on the side of highways and milling around shopping malls – plenty of time to kill, but not a lot of money to spend.  And I like to take cell phone pics I think are funny.  Well in today’s environment, looking like an HGH infused angry Egyptian walking around a shopping mall taking pictures can rightfully raise suspicions.  And that is what happened, because as I was walking around a security guard approached me and said “Hey sir, can I help you find something?” to which I responded, “which way is Mecca – I need to pray ASAP.”

Shows: 5 Great Shows, 1 Incredible Heckler Lady

So I had a great weekend in terms of crowd response (but so-so in CD sales).  Guy Torre (headliner) and Frank Gentile (emcee) were both very fun to hang out with and there was only one blemish on the weekend – a drunk lady (of course) at the Friday early show (the only thing stopping me from a perfect 6 for 6 weekend).  She was loud, drunk and never shut up for 18 of m 20 minutes (she was escorted out at the 18 minute mark). I got good marks from the crowd for my increasingly hostile response to her, culminating with calling her “DJ cu*t” because she kept scratching every one of my bits before they were done.  Below are a couple of clips I threw up on YouTube.

Epilogue – 4th of July

I arrived home on the 4th of July to be greeted by Cookie, who was so happy to see me she peed not once, but twice in my apartment upon my arrival.  That night I made my way over to my girlfriend’s apartment which has an east river view so good for fireworks it was as if they were right outside her window (because they were).  And here is the comedy gold I produced while watching the firworks (enjoy and tweet this one today!):

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! And look for J-L’s new stand up album ISRAELI TORTOISE in August 2016.

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Road Comedy Recap: Impressions, Injuries and Deal Making in…

I have been in Los Angeles for the last five days and it was a trip befitting my social media hashtag #ComedyMogul.  I was making big media appearances, performing at stand up clubs and engineering deals with one of the biggest chain restaurants in the country.  It was one of my most productive trips to the west coast ever, even though every plural in the proceeding sentence should actually be a singular.  As I write this in an airport motel with plans soaring uncomfortably close every 10 minutes I am beaming with a sense of pride that I managed to crush it on the #1 podcast on iTunes, had a great set at a comedy club and filmed it and helped start a potential big deal between the Cheesecake Factory and a new craft beer, ALL while managing to earn exactly zero dollars while doing it all.  This is what Black Twitter would call “Peak J-L.” So here is the recap you have been waiting for.

Saturday – The Gentlemen’s Lodge

My flight out was pretty uneventful.  My legs felt good because I was in the Extra leg room seats (still unfair that in this day of trans bathrooms a tall man must pay extra to be in seats that fit) and I watched Daddy’s Home, a perfect airplane movie starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (very funny throughout, not really sure why critics crushed it, but perfect way to pass 100 minutes on a cross country flight).  I also had a 2 hour conversation with the woman sitting next to me, who happened to work for digital advertising for YouTube. We had a fun chat about politics, millennials, digital ads (I told her the kinds that I am most likely to watch – so now she has a good sample study of comedy moguls’preferences) and how I can help my content get more views. She said I should aim to get to 5000 subscribers because then I have access to YouTube studios.  With just over 1500 subscribers at my current pace I asked her to reserve me some space in 2032 for me to record some killer content.

When we landed in LA I was greeted by my buddy Nick D. in his Mercedes and he drove me to my hotel in Studio City.  Thanks to Hotwire.com I got a great deal at a place named The Gentlemen’s Lodge.  I figured the great deal I got was based on the fact that in Los Angeles, a place called The Gentlemen’s Lodge would either be a far right enclave where conservatives hunted teenage boy and girl runaways for sexual sport or it would simply be an ironically named place where gay orgies were taking place.  Well, it turns out it was just a normal hotel, despite the presence of kids named Harper and Brooklyn roaming the hallways.  The rest of the day was uneventful as I prepared for a big next couple of days.

The Gentlemen's Lodge 4th floor (my floor) featured a quote from Bruce Springsteen's worst album for some reason

Sunday – Comedy Mogul Down!

I woke up at 4:45 am on Sunday because I never adjust well to the time zone change. But I felt energized and decided to get up and go for a run like I was the Rock sharing annoying Instagram workout pics.  Around 5:45 I started jogging on a quiet and empty road. Feeling good, like I might be able to churn out a couple of extra miles I made the mistake of relaxing and feeling a moment of happiness.  Just when those feelings infected me I tripped.  I rarely trip. It’s sort of weird. I will sometimes have my foot catch on something and not trip either because of balance or gait or weight distribution but I rarely trip.  Well, about ten years of never trips caught up in one epic fall.  When I hit the ground I scraped my palms, busted open one of my knuckles, busted my knee wide open (it still has not scabbed yet 4 days later) and bruised (or worse) my ribs.  I don’t even understand how I could have fallen only once and done that much damage to so many different body parts, but at my height maybe it’s like falling from a 2nd story window.  Whatever the case I was basically a gimpy invalid the rest of the trip. But that didn’t stop me from heading to Flappers in Burbank that night.

My name in lights
Later in the month, Flappers will be headlining a comedian eve more relevant than me: Jake The Snake Roberts, a 1980s wrestler

Despite performing at 1:20 am east coast time I had a great set closing the side room at the club.  Here is a quick clip of my new material about my dog Cookie. Enjoy:

Monday –  Cage, Crushing Carolla & Cheesecake 

Monday was celebrity day for me.  When I limped to the Starbucks across the street from TGL I was on line next to the actor who plays Luke Cage (co-star of Netflix’ Jessica Jones and the start of his own Netflix series this Fall).  We both played it cool, which was refreshing – just getting treated like a regular Starbucks customer and not a Comedy Mogul.

That afternoon I headed to Carolla Studios and had a great appearance (best one of the 6 I have made).  You can listen to the episode here and also watch my new Carolla sketch video I made for the show:

But the biggest thing I did had nothing to do with comedy.  Ryan is the manager at the Pasadena Cheesecake Factory and a big fan of The Adam Carolla Show.  My friend’s girlfriend is a waitress there and when Ryan found out last year that I was the guy that did the impressions on Carolla I began to see my bills shrink exponentially at the Cheesecake Factory.  As the second biggest regular celebrity at the Pasadena Factory (Terry Crews currently holds the #1 spot) I wanted to give back and show my appreciation for being treated so well.  And it turns out that a few hours before I went on the air I learned that Ryan was hoping to get Adam Carolla’s new craft beer into the Pasadena Factory (yes I am aware that calling The Cheesecake Factory, “The Factory,” is hugely douchey).  So on air I brought up the idea of Adam getting his Endless Rant IPA into the PCF and the idea was a hit with him and later his producers when I connected them to Ryan.  So now in addition to #ComedyMogul I am also a budding #CheesecakeMogul.  I have never read Trump’s The Art of the Deal, but I am pretty sure I just wrote the sequel in Pasadena.

Salted caramel cheesecake - one of my 2 free pieces of cheesecake during the week

Tuesday & Wednesday – Sun, More Cheesecake & 2 Nicks

Tuesday was the only full day I had to soak up some Sun because, like The Nothing in The Neverending Story, dark cluds metaphorically and literally follow me.  After getting a little darker I then headed back to the Cheesecake Factory to get more free food and to soak up Ryan’s praise since he had now heard the deal get sealed on air, along with his name said on the air.  I then ended the evening watching CNN in bed because I was too sleep to check out some LA shows. I fell asleep at 9:45pm local #RockStarLife

Wednesday was uneventful – met up with my buddy Nick Cobb and met his infant daughter (I asked her if she could put in a good word with me at MTV2) and completed my trip goal of hanging with only two different friends in LA and having them both be named Nick. Now I am about to go to sleep in my Super 8 Motel with jets lodly flying overhead.  Can’t wait to get back to NYC and earn some money doing legal work, but to be fair this was as good an unpaid trip as I could hope to have.  Hoping some good things materialize in the next few weeks, but hopefully they don’t pay.  #KingOfAllUnpaidMedia

The view from my airport motel. #Blessed #HumbleBrag #WaingroFromHeatStayedHere

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: Back to the Future in Columbus, Ohio

On Thursday of last week I travelled to Columbus, Ohio to audition for feature work at the Columbus Funny Bone.  Any comedian who has ever attempted to work the road should be familiar with the club. The manager there books feature work for 15 A clubs around the country so it is an important stop for people who want to get a lot of road work (and don’t have a manager, agent AND still believe in the antiquated philosophy that performing comedy is the best way to establish a career in comedy).  This was actually my third time auditioning at the club since 2007, so I think a brief chronology of how I found myself at the Easton Mall in Columbus, Ohio on April 7, 2016 is in order.

2007: Not Ready

In 2007 I went to the Columbus Funny Bone for the 2nd time.  The first time was as an audience member several years later to watch Greg Giraldo, a birthday present from my college girlfriend who was attending OSU Medical School while I was at Georgetown Law.  Well, in 2007 it was time for another lawyer-comedian whose career would eventually die to take the stage.  I had lots of material, but had not actually performed a 30 minute set yet. So like a human centipede version of my bringer sets I simply stitched together 3 ten minutes sets together. The result was an uneven, poorly paced set, with some good laughs, but overall somewhat incompetent.  On that same show was NYC comedian Keith Alberstadt and I saw that he was much more comfortable with the time. When I met the manager after the show to receive my $50 for the gig, he specifically singled out Keith as someone who did get passed because he seemed ready.  In a rare moment of humility (but I am never above being humbled, just not falsely) I was in complete agreement.  So for 2+ years I worked on getting some road work at C and B rooms and doing lots of time in NYC.  And like Rocky I may have lost the first installment, but I learned a lot and came back ready to win in the sequel…

2009: Of Course I Got Passed

When I made my way out to Columbus in 2009 I was armed with a lot more confidence and I got passed. The best feeling was that I knew it before I spoke with the manager because I had killed.  I got my $50 and was told to look for work in 2010.

2010-2015: Good Start and then Screwed by Children of the Corn

In 2010 I worked the Hartford Funny Bone and the Toledo Funny Bone. Killed both weeks.  I then got an unsolicited e-mail from the manager saying that he had received great feedback on me and I was being bumped up his list. I figured that had to be a good thing. For 2011 I got booked at Hartford again, the Huntington, West Virginia Funny Bone and the Des Moines Funny Bone.  The Hartford week went great, but in a moment that was indicative of the general luck of my comedy career, the West Virginia club closed before I could work there (my career is like The Nothing in The Neverending Story). Then came the Des Moines Funny Bone. The gig started well – I was opening for Jim Short, an Australian comic I had met a few years earlier at the San Francisco Comedy Competition. So paired with a funny headliner who was fun to hang with (when he spilled popcorn at a movie, his rage was one of the funniest things of the entire week) the week was going well, though I was not killing like I had at the other clubs (but can you completely trust the sense of humor of a state that over the course of my comedy career has selected Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz in their caucuses?).  And then I closed my final set with my communications with an attempted groupie in Iowa:

When I left Iowa I felt pretty good.  Sold some merchandise, avoided cheating on my girlfriend (watch the video so you get this joke – not actually treating fidelity like an accomplishment). Little did I know I would not be booked as a feature again from that March week in 2011.

2016: Don’t Call It a Comeback. Seriously, don’t. I Was Already Passed Here.

Since 2013 I have volunteered to re-audition (around 10 years into comedy is when pride and dignity are completely beat out of you if all you have is your Hotmail account booking you on gigs). It took over two years to get back on (granted for a while the manager was not re-auditioning and then the club underwent massive renovations (it looks really terrific now), but on April 7, 2016 I made it back.  I had a pre-show meal at the Cheesecake Factory (after the usual sprint across a freeway that are commonplace for my road work trips – WE ARE A FAT NATION BECAUSE THE MIDDLE STATES DONT BELIEVE IN SIDEWALKS) and then got ready to perform.  I was the first to the green room, but then I was greeted by Miguel Dalmau, a NYC-turned-Indianapolis comedian and a comedian from Florida (who promptly dropped 3 names of headliners he works with, perhaps just nerves or conversation, but it felt like he had spent too much time in LA), both of whom were auditioning.

All sets went well (the crowd was a pretty easy laugh) and I was re-passed?  The manager informed me that, although he didn’t recall (I told him, that’s ok – you have to keep track of hundreds of comedians; I just keep track of one), I must have received bad reviews at a club. I said “Des Moines, 2011.”  I then received my $50 $25 for the gig  and spent it on popcorn, water and a ticket to Hardcore Henry, an atrocious action movie which is reviewed on this site on the movie review page. Because no matter how good or productive a comedy trip is, I always like it to end poorly.

Epilogue: Accela Train Blues

On Friday I had an 11:05 am flight out of Columbus to BWI and then an Amtrak ticket from BWI to NYC.  The reasons I do this are as follows:

  • Most trips to Ohio from NYC are on small planes. I don’t fit well on small planes and I hate how they have turbulence, even on clear sky days.
  • Southwest, which flies to all the Ohio cities I perform in, use 737s, which are solid sized planes.
  • But Southwest only goes to Columbus via Chicago if leaving LaGuardia and
  • I have a lot of Amtrak points so
  • I take Amtrak to and from BWI and Southwest to and from Ohio out of BWI

Well, I woke up in my Extended Stay hotel on Friday morning and saw that my plane was delayed 80 minutes, which is exactly the window I left myself to get to the 1:30pm poor people Amtrak. When I called Amtrak to change trains, the only train available after that for many hours was the 3:20 Accela (the rich people train) for a healthy $160 add on. So for anyone who wants a tally – that’s $190 on airfare, $160 on train fare, $100 on hotel, $35 on salmon and cheesecake, $25 on Hardcore Henry, $30 on Columbus cab fares and $25 in comedy pay. So for -$515.00 I was able to turn the clock back to 2009.  Pretty cheap for time travel!

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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Weekend Comedy Recap: Wine, Comedy and a New Jersey…

I was a last minute addition to a gig on Saturday and just the way I got it was illuminating in terms of how different generations and experience levels of comics can perceive road work. The gig was a paying gig, with transportation and a hotel room. This is what is known in road comedy as, “The Holy Trinity” or more accurately, “Whoa, did I get a time machine back to 1990?”  I was asked a week before the gig, which was to take place at Willow Creek Winery, in Cape May, NJ, by the young comic booking it who seemed apologetic for the relatively last minute notice.  See, he is approaching comedy like Bernie Sanders approaching a 19 year old black college student at Berkeley, who has a different world view on The Struggle. What he didn’t realize is that my career has felt much more like the experience of John Lewis (not just because of our similar names), except my comedy career has endured more pain and struggle than his work during the Civil Rights Movement. So in my mind, when I hear money… and a ride… and a hotel room, I don’t need to concern myself with anything else about the gig. Hell, I might have ditched a gig for this gig. But fortunately he caught me on one of my 361 nights a year when I am not booked. #Blessed

We all (Sam (the young comic/booker), his girlfriend (not a comedian) and Anthony DeVito (funny comedian) met in Hoboken around 1:30 on Saturday and made our way to Cape May in Sam’s car.  The drive was very fun and pleasant, though I realized I have the tendency like a dog that has been crate trained (my studio apartment being my human crate) to thoroughly/overly enjoy interaction with comedians when no longer solitary. I think if you asked comedians their opinion of me it would be “asshole” from (mostly) people who have never met me and “pretty cool, but holy sh*t does he talk” from people who have worked with me.  So at least I enjoyed the ride down to Cape May and then we arrived at the Southern Mansion.

Southern Mansion is the hotel where Anthony and I would be staying. Below is a picture of the bed situation, with Anthony doing some pre-show reading.  The Southern mansion looks and feels like somewhere Leonardo Dicaprio would have lived in Django Unchained and the living situation illustrated that. I had wished the bed situation was a little more equitable, but since I could not physically lie down on the small bed/lounge I got the humungous, gay Asian bed.

When we got to the show it was a beautiful event space full of elderly white people.  We got fed a nice dinner and drank free wine at which point I wondered if we were just being feted before we were ritualistically sacrificed. That is how un-road comedy this gig felt.  But then the show started and the crowd was great. Chrissie, the 4th comedian on the show, who drove up separately with her boyfriend, went up after Sam emceed. She did very well and set a dirty tone for the show. Like a comedian canary in an old, white people coal mine she let Anthony and I see that we would not have to operate on a perfectly clean level.  Anthony then went up and did well, especially when the microphone broke for 10 minutes (NOW it is feeling like a road gig!) and then it was time for me.

Before I went up Sam mentioned that Willow Creek Winery is the best winery in all of New Jersey. So in an effort to dig myself a hole, I announced that this gig was a perfect compliment for my bucket list because I had just performed at the best Olive Garden in Paris.  But it got some polite chuckles and the set went well. It was a weird feeling when I did my Election year run through of Trump-Sanders-Obama impressions realizing that this crowd of old white people did not seem to like Trump, Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton (maybe a Jeb Bush crowd?). And in the middle of one bit about Spirit Airlines one woman yelled at me “They don’t support the troops!” which I thought an odd policy for an airline.  But they were a nice crowd and laughed a lot despite being drunk and understandably tired (hour long dinner before a 110 minute comedy show).  We then went to a bar nearby that had possible the best chicken fingers and fries I had ever had.

The next morning Anthony and I went to brunch looking like a closeted couple of gay men on a secret getaway from our heteronormative fake lives in NYC. There was a nice continental spread, as well as on the house a la carte service to choose from (omelets, pancakes or French toast). After eating, but before departing, we got a nice compliment from a woman who was at the show and then some guy asked me to “do Bernie Sanders at brunch”… before telling me “last night was pretty good.” As I have said, pretty is the ugliest word in comedy, but when a gruff white dude with a mustache tells you any kind of compliment you have to realize that anything more than “pretty good” and his VFW buddies might accuse him of being queer, so I will take the compliment in the spirit in which it was intended.

We had an uneventful drive back to NJ and then caught a PATH and a Subway train right away, which is pretty crazy on a Sunday. So, without being hyperbolic, this might have been one of the best gigs I have ever had in my entire career when taking into account free perks, crowd, pay and overall comfort from start to finish.  And it might even still make the top 10 if I had a comedy career that wasn’t on life support!

 TWO NEW EPISODES OF MY PODCAST THIS WEEK OSCAR RECAP (TUESDAY) & SUPER TUESDAY RECAP (THURSDAY)- Check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. Subscribe for free!

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Road Comedy Recap: Philadelphia’s Joe DiMaggio of Comedy

Last week (Wednesday thru Saturday) I was performing at one of my two favorite clubs in America: Helium in Philadelphia (the other being the DC Improv, where I will be performing Feb 26th-28th).  The problem was I had to commute all week because I am working a day job and there is no hotel for features at Helium so it is more economically feasible for me to use Amtrak points to commute each day than to get a hotel.  I referred to myself as “the Joe Biden of comedy” on stage 4 times – it killed once, got some applause twice and bombed once (Biden famously, or not so famously according to 75% of crowds in Philly, commuted on Amtrak every day back to Delaware from DC to be with his family). What followed was the most successful merch haul of my comedy career and the most exhausting week of comedy of my life. For those not lucky enough to be in attendance here is the recap:

Wednesday

Run out of work at 4:25 – get on the A train to Penn Station to catch a 5:10 Amtrak to Philly. The single scariest experience of my life on the NYC subway occurred (even scarier than when a 400 lb black woman tries to squeeze into a seat space made for an anorexic dwarf and more scary than the time on my 7th birthday when I got on the 1 train without my mother and had to be comforted by a nice Latin lady, which may explain my life long affinity for Latin women). The train was fairly crowded and then at West 4th Street a man with no shirt on, with the build of Tommy Hearns who may have been high on bath salts (not kidding). I have never been on a subway so quiet because this guy was yelling at the top of his lungs (thankfully to no one in particular) the following (just examples, not a full transcript):

  • Don’t you fu*king look at me
  • You think I am a fu*king ni*ger?
  • If I had a knife I would fu*king slash you (especially scary because there has been a rash of slashings on the NYC subway in the last month)
  • Does this train stop at 59th street? (Ok, this one is a lie)

When I say yelling I mean Samuel L Jackson “I hope they burn in hell” times 10 yelling.  As I sat there I said to myself  “don’t look at him and only get physical if he attacks you or a hot chick sitting near you.” He moved to another car at 14th street, but that was the longest 80 seconds of my entire life.  And with that fun start to the week it was time for Philly comedy!

Nothing too interesting to say about the show other than the fact that I killed, sold CDs and avoided Shake Shack next door.  Also it was my second time opening for Bob Marley (New England comedian, not a hologram of the dead guy with one good song – I am a huge fan of Could You Be Loved), who is a funny guy, really nice and should absolutely be cast as Bill Burr’s nice older brother on a sitcom.

I got home around 12:30 am and fell asleep quickly after setting my alarm for 6 am.

Thursday

I woke up Thursday at 6 and took Cookie (my dog) out for her morning piss. I then made it to work at 8 am, allowing me to get my 8 billable hours in before going to Amtrak again.

There were no homicidal maniacs on the train on my way to Penn Station or Philly (unless I have some inner demons that have not yet surfaced).  The show went great and I sold a lot of CDs.  It was at this time that all the comedy pundits began to realize something special might be happening in Philadelphia.

My personal record for merch in a week is $410 – 6 shows in Philly in 2013 I sold that amount of albums ($10 per album or all 3 that I bring for $20). Well after good sales Wednesday and Thursday the experts began to wonder if this could be the week I break my own modern day record for CD sales by a middle act (these are unofficial stats).  I just told myself to take it one show at a time and not to worry about the week.  Went home same way and when I walked in Cookie did not even greet me, presumably because she already thinks she has a deadbeat dad and because she likes my girlfriend more than me and that is who she was getting quality time with in my absence.

Friday

When I got to the club on Friday, both shows were sold out and I made a killing after the first show.  I also had a guy come up to me and tell me he liked my appearances on The Adam Carolla Show (now the key is to turn my media presence into people who intentionally come to see me perform, not just get pleasantly surprised).  The record looked to be in my sights. But like any no-hitter in baseball – you cannot talk or think about it or you can jinx it. Well, as it turns out the second show started 30 minutes late which meant I would have not be able to sell merch because I had to catch the last train to NYC at 12:10 am.  So I left the club and walked to 30th street station and found out that my train was 40 minutes delayed. So now I had missed my chance to sell and had to sit in majestic 30th Street Station with just a pack of peanut M & Ms and some docile homeless dudes until my train arrived.

Saturday

Now with all attention firmly fixed on me as I entered the last day with a chance to pass $410 (at this point it was the comedy equivalent of DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak – and just so you know, t-shirts and other non-CD/DVD items are like the juiced ball era of merch sales. I am trying to be Hank Aaron, not Barry Bonds #Purist #Hero). I had some good and bad omens.  On the good side there was a third show added on Saturday at midnight. Not that I expected to stay to sell after that, but it meant I would have to stay for the  first two shows, both of which were sold out, since my only transportation option was a 2:20 am Greyhound.  But a bad omen occurred also. My train to Philly was at 5, but my Fresh Direct order, which was supposed to arrive between 1 and 3, was severely delayed due to computer error and would not arrive until 5 at the earliest. So I had to cancel my food order, meaning that Sunday I might not be able to eat, unless I walked two blocks to a local supermarket. But like any great athlete or performer, I blocked out this stress and just focused on having great shows.

I killed with the first crowd and sold a ton of albums and had several repeat fans come up to me saying that they had seen me before and were happy to see me opening (once again, 2016 is the year of the intentional fan support, instead of the accidental). In fact, my total stood at $340 going into the second show.  I went to Shake Shack next door to Helium to take my mind off the historic accomplishment awaiting me and order a burger.  A woman in the kitchen came up to me and said “You really killed it the other night at Helium.” I said thank you and she then told the cashier to punch in a code that gave me $3 off  of my burger.  I then headed back to Helium with the swagger of Steph Curry playing a WNBA team knowing that it was not a matter of if, but when I would break the $410 barrier.

The second show went great and I pushed the total to $450. Confetti came down from the ceiling and I got a call from President Obama.  I then had a good show on the third show despite being in a sleep deprived semi coma. I left the club and made a 1.2 mile walk to the Greyhound bus station, which, surprisingly was fairly clean and did not have the feeling of a Taliban or Crips meeting place like many bus stations around America.  When I boarded my bus at 2:15 am I realized I was on a bus that President Trump might actually drone strike.  It was a few black people, 377 Mexicans and 220 Asians.  I heard almost no English spoken and realized that this Greyhound bus was basically the 2016 Underground Railroad or a Latin/Asian re-boot of Mad Max: Fury Road.

The bus arrived ten minutes early in NYC and I made my way home for a restful night of sleep, probably already awash in the Zika virus from that bus ride, but also swimming in cash like Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal.  All in all a net gain.

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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Weekend Comedy Recap – Sick in Saratoga

This weekend I had, what appears to be my final gig of 2015, in Saratoga Springs, NY. And like the race horses that have run there, my career has been begging to be euthanized.  On top of that general malaise, I also was (and still am) in the midst of the worst cold I have had in many years.  But it was with the warrior’s determination of a vagrant participating in a bum fight that I boarded the PATH train to Hoboken to meet up with Usama and Dan, another comedian on the show and the show’s producer, respectively, to ride up to Saratoga.  Usama, who turns out was going to go to medical school before discovering comedy, or as I call it, “the poor man’s def poetry”, showed off his brains and wit quickly, as he pick 6’d one of my jokes in our initial conversation (a “pick 6” is a term I coined for when a comedian telegraphs his (sigh… or her) punchline so badly that were it a football pass you could intercept it and take it in for a touchdown.  In this case it felt more like I had been picked off by Richard Sherman or Darrel Revis (like when I anticipated a Bill Burr punchline correctly at MSG – sometimes a brilliant comedic mind can make a great play without it being the QB/joke teller’s fault).  In my case, Usama and I were looking at the Freedom Tower from Hoboken (a Bangladeshi man named Usama and a bi-racial Egyptian-looking giant surveying the Freedom Tower from New Jersey – I am scared and angry that we weren’t profiled) and I said, telling him it was a joke (instead of being one of the comedians who pretends like his organic conversation just naturally morphs into well constructed bits), that it is a good thing we didn’t have cell phone cameras on 9/11 because nothing would have been worse – and he interrupted me and said “People shouting world star as the towers fell!”  And at that moment I realized either I am losing my fastball or Usama is a sharp dude/comedian.  Needless to say both my comedic instincts and my self preservation instincts compel me to choose the latter.

So Dan showed up shortly after Usama and I met and we got into Dan’s Subaru. Dan is Italian, but also has a Mediterranean skin tone that could easily be construed as Middle Eastern, so basically we had a sleeper cell headed to Saratoga, with much worse funding.  Usama fell asleep in the backseat for just about the entire ride up, which allowed me to eat horribly at rest stops without the skinny dude body shaming me. #DoveSoapAd

We arrived at the venue, The Parting Glass Pub, at around 7, just in the nick of time for the 915pm start time.  There were just as many headhsots of horses as there were of entertainers, or maybe Tony Robbins used to do comedy.  I sat in a half coma sounding like Stephen Hawking with a stuffy nose, hacking like I was in the last stages of Ebola, which allowed me the isolation I needed to prep for my set.  The show went really well with Usama really impressing me (he did use the “soul bounce”, generally saved for black comics in all white rooms (trademark pending), to point out he was a real outlier compared to the crowd, whose racial makeup was somewhere between albino and bleach, but his set was really great).  I did well with my 40 minute set (my timer after read “40:07” which proves that even when sick I am a well-oiled machine of struggling comedy) despite my cold and the local guy taping the show was nice enough to tell me he was a huge fan of my appearances on The Adam Carolla Show.  Basically this was like Jordan’s flu game against the Utah Jazz, but for upstate NY comedy shows.

The most famous headliner to appear at The Parting Glass Pub (before me).

We then departed back for Hoboken, stopping just once at a Roy Rodgers where I got a burger and fries just to ensure that death would come swiftly. We arrived in Hoboken at 3:00 am and Usama took the PATH back to the city.  I got home at 3:45 and celebrated a good show with a chipwich and 4 hours of sleep.  For one little show the money was good, though I did the math and if I had simply worked on my legal assignment for the entire time I spent on the Saratoga trip I would have made triple the money.  When you are willing to sacrifice comfort and money for comedy that is a sign of dedication to your craft.  Or a sign of masochism.  Either way, looks like that is the last road update of 2015.  Thanks for the least productiv & least lucrative year of comedy road work for me in 7 years comedy biz! #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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Weekend Comedy Recap: FInally, J-L Has Come Back to…

This weekend took me to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – birthplace of Jesus Christ and high school football location of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  Well, major events happen in threes, so you can officially add my stand up performance to that historic duo.   I was scheduled to headline a 7pm show at Broadway Social and because of my extensive fan base (consisting almost exclusively of friends from college and law school) I knew I would have 2-10 “fans” in the crowd.  To get to Bethlehem I had to take Transbridge bus line (“I took Transbridge bus to get here, so I guess now buses can identify as whatever they want in this post Kaitlyn Jenner world” was my first joke on stage and it bombed), which is all part of my “Not Even Good Enough For a Greyhound Depot” Comedy Tour of America.  At only 3 hours, the bus ride was not quite long enough to cripple my bum knees, but I still had a limp for about a half hour after arriving in Bethlehem.

When I arrived I was greeted by my buddy Scott, Scott’s brother and a friend of theirs.  It was also confirmed that many years ago I coined a term called “Weinberg” that has become very popular in their circles in Bethlehem.  Like many funny things I have forgotten I told Scott that whenever someone tries to shift blame on someone out of nowhere it is like when Col. Nathan R Jessup in A Few Good Men asks Daniel Caffey who’s going to protect the country, “You (Caffey?)” *turning unexpectedly to Kevin Pollack’s character with a hint of Antisemitism “YOU Lt Weinberrrggg?”  So at some point in my storied career of unpaid humor I referred to someone as totally “Weinberging” someone. And for many years that has become a thing in Bethlehem, PA. #Legend

"What did I do?" - Lt. Weinberg

When we arrived at Broadway Social I saw that it was a pretty nice bar/lounge so I took in the surroundings, went over my notes for what I wanted to do on stage and set up my camera that I lugged from NYC.  After several local comedians went up I went up and had a very strong set.  The lounge had a clear VIP lounge area for private parties or something so it got a huge laugh when I said after a sort of dirty bit got less laughs than others “Oh please we are in a club with a VIP rape room right over there!  So don’t act too uptight when you know that visiting stripper porn stars probably come here to fu*k who ever is the important business man in Bethlehem.”  I was extremely happy with the set and knew that I had at least 2-3 quality YouTube clips ready from the set.  On top of that I also was paid $5 more than the agreed upon payment.  So let that be a lesson to you young comics – if you do things right, work hard and professionally you will reap tremendous, unexpected benefits.

Sometimes your talent and height are too big for a normal spotlight.

After the show I went back with Scott to his house, but his three kids and wife were at the in-laws, which led to two benefits: a late night viewing of John Wick on HBO and a free child’s twin bed for me to sleep in (I think I secretly hoped that Scott’s family would arrive before I woke up just for the potential Goldilocks/Home Alone level humor of a 4 year old finding a giant in his bed.  Of course it probably ends with the child standing his ground and killing me in a perfectly legal shoot (especially considering my black father/ISIS eyebrows), but still pretty funny.

An artist's rendering of me sleeping in a twin bed

The next morning, before catching the transbus (Its momma named it bus, I’ma call it bus!), I was asked to stand as Godfather to Scott’s youngest child (After Mel Gibson and Stephen Colbert I might be the third most famous Catholic in entertainment).  I then slapped him and told him he should act like a man!  So, just another typical road comedy gig for me – bus travel, lucrative cash bonuses and providing spiritual guidance.  And then I got home and accidentally deleted the set from Friday night. #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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Road Comedy Recap: Killing and Getting the Death Penalty…

This weekend was Labor Day weekend, but in one of the great ironies of my comedy career in 2015 it was one of the few weekends I found myself working in a comedy club, instead of at a computer doing legal work.  I was in Timonium, Maryland at Magooby’s Joke House featuring for Rob Maher (he is the guest on this week’s podcast).  So, continuing one of the most revered traditions in all of stand up comedy, here is another road recap for you to enjoy:

Thursday – Small Crowd, Smaller Laughs: I arrived in Baltimore with The Wire theme song repeating in my brain and got on the light rail to Timonium. From there it was a .6 mile walk to the Red Roof Inn Plus, where I was staying. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the RRIP for a few reasons: one – I have stayed at some very pleasant, well-attended Red Roof Inns; two – this was a Red Roof Inn PLUS so it was probably better than that and three – I paid $159 (including taxes and fees) for three nights. So those are two reasons it could be good and one that could mean I would get raped and murdered by Waingro from Heat (an analogy I have made too many times to the various lodgings in my comedy career).

That night there was only one show. The crowd was light and for me, the laughs were lighter.  It was one of those crowds where way more people came up to me after to tell me variations of “really funny,” and I always want to reply, “Yeah, I know, but it would have been cool to laugh out loud during my set so that I didn’t get the universal sign for “not funny at all.”

After the show Rob (the headliner) and I were caught in a conversation with a 5’7″ busty blonde from Bel Air, MD who taught special ed kids (what’s not to like?).  Now on a quick biographical note, I dated a 5’7″ busty blonde from Bel Air, MD for three years so perhaps engaging in any conversation with her was an attempt to re-capture a pleasant moment from my past.  However, that lasted about 20 seconds. Why?  Because the woman at the club was kind of racist and might have been looking to cheat (two of my three rules with hooking up are 1) must not be racist and 2) must not be in a relationship – the third, which does not apply here is 3) must not be someone a friend dated). Well this woman was regaling Rob and I with stories of how she has relationships with women, that her husband was away for the weekend and how she gave her 1st BJ in 7th grade.  She had an accurate count of how many black men she had made out with in her life (“three”) and many other odd statements that might have made her super progressive during the Civil War, but felt uncomfortable in 2015.

After leaving the club and bisexual, racist version of my ex, I stopped by the gas station across from the RRIP, bought a pack of Soft Batch cookies and a 1% milk (an old road tradition of mine) and went to cross the street when I saw a young 20-something woman in a low cut tank top and shorts holding a sign that indicated that she was hitchhiking.  Needless to say that this empowered woman was just another in the quietly dignified group of “sex workers” in America who, despite a 99.9% correlation of being victims of sexual trauma and/or parental neglect, she seemed like the exception to the rule and just making sound life choices to augment her entrepreneurial life.  But since my room had two beds and I felt bad I asked the woman three quick questions…

Washington had Mt Vernon. Jefferson had Monticello. J-L Cauvin has the Red Roof Inn Plus

Friday – J-L is Back! (but still not selling much merchandise): Friday I spend about 5 hours in a Panera Bread reading (FYI – the best chocolate chip cookies available from a chain are Panera Bread’s. They are awesome).  Message to any men over the age of 60 in Timonium, MD – there is an oasis of senior citizen vagina in the Panera Bread.   I also tried to watch a movie through Amazon Prime in my room, but Red Roof Inn Plus has the WiFi equivalent of 1997 dial up.  I also noticed that there were a lot of ants in  my bathroom area so I did buy a can of Raid-Ant Killer and proceed to become the Bashar-Al Assad of the Timonium ant community.

Weapon of Ant Destruction

That night I had two strong shows, but sold almost no merchandise.  So instead I bought two packs of Soft Batch, one for each CD I sold. I would have given the local prostitute a pack, but she was not out on Friday night.  I then got home in time to catch an amazing fifth set between Rafael Nadal and an Italian dude named Fabio Fognini. In addition to upsetting Nadal, he also led to the greatest tweet in US Open history when I wrote “Fognini looks like the hot member of an ISIS boy band.”

Breaking hearts and bones as a member of ISIS' #1 boy band

Saturday – Kill on Show 1, Get the Death Penalty on Show 2: One of the things I have learned recently is that even as I get better at writing and performing my comedy I will still alienate some crowds, even when I am on my game. Generally it will be a combination of easily offended and mentally dumb that don’t get or like me.  Well Show 1 Saturday was NOT that crowd. I murdered as hard as I ever have with that crowd (video clips coming to the YouTube channel soon).  I really had a terrific set and felt great.  I had earlier watched Northwestern upset Stanford on TV (my brother went to NU so they are the college program I root for/follow) and had had another Panera chocolate chip cookie that day so with a great first show the day had the makings of perfection.  Then Show 2 occurred…

I felt good going into show 2. My friend Marie, from law school, showed up with her husband so I thought – “I am killing with strangers – now the crowd has people I know – THIS IS GONNA ROCK.”  What followed for the final show of the weekend was nothing short then capital punishment.  Awkward silences to the early litmus test jokes I have (early set jokes I use on the road that always kill so I can gauge the crowd) and then when discussing Latin women and working in the Bronx an audible “Wow… wow” from an unhappy women. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that was the only sound.  In 3 of the 4 shows before the laughter may have drowned the feigned shock of this woman, but the late Saturday crowd’s silence provided her with an audible spotlight.

The best thing about doing comedy long enough is that you really don’t feel badly after a tough set (they did lose it to a 5 minute bit about being blamed for other people’s shits in public bathrooms – not surprising).  I think they could tell I felt mentally superior to them, which may have hurt my chances of regaining their affection (which I never actually had).  Oh well, 3 of the 5 shows went great, one went so so and one was a bloodbath (with me as the sole victim).  But it is weird that in the same town, on the same night one crowd of residents can think you are the greatest thing ever and then the very next crowd hates your guts within ten minutes.  But that is how real life has been for me so at least my comedy appears to be true to myself. #Blessed

Off to Los Angeles next week. Stay tuned.

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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Road Comedy Recap: Amtrak Animals and Arlington

This weekend represented the end to the longest slump in my comedy career. 7 months in between road work.  There are several possible reasons for this bad streak: bad luck with e-mail response, blacklisted for naming some notorious pieces of sh*t within comedy, making funny videos about people in comedy (the group of people who never stop claiming that “nothing should be off limits” in comedy), or less available work because of the need to work shittier comedians with managers who leverage their bigger clients to get their less talented ones force fed upon the general populace.  Whatever the reason is for my historic dip, this weekend was a break from that as I featured for Michael Ian Black for four shows at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.  So as usual, though I am rusty having not written a road recap in 6 months, let’s start from the beginning.

On Friday morning I headed to Penn Station to catch Amtrak to DC.  I arrived with perfect timing as the train track was called just as I got in view of the big board with all the track assignments.  Now, anyone who knows Penn Station knows that when a track goes up, unlike every other train station in the northeast corridor where orderly lines emerge, a mob scene immediately develops with half of the people attempting to form something close to a line while the other half begin to attack the front of the line from 5 to 6 directions, as if they cannot see the line.  Every time I get a train at Penn Station I am reminded how horrible humanity is.  We don’t need an apocalyptic situation or a water or food shortage to see humanity at its most savage; we just need a track assignment in Penn Station on a Friday.  The best part was when I was in the middle of the line a man just sort of slide into the line right in front of me.  I just tapped him on the shoulder and said “there’s a line.”  He then sheepishly moved all the way back (having a good foot in height and 100 lbs in weight on someone makes enforcing moral order a little bit easier).  I felt good, but I realized that it didn’t really matter.  Just the fact that in a random sample of Amtrak riders, 50% of the population does not give a shit for order or respect for other people irritates me so much.  The only silver lining is that the people that cut the line, rushed the middle, etc. came from all backgrounds, proving that economic status, sexual orientation, gender and race make no difference in how awful human beings are. #AllLivesSuck

This is what a typical afternoon rush for Amtrak looks like at New York Penn Station

So with a good, angry sweat built up observing this I grabbed a seat next to an old lady reading a Kindle (while I read my hard copy book) and headed to DC.

I checked into the Arlington Hyatt, which thanks to good luck on Hotwire.com turned out to be a very nice hotel and across the street from a Metro station.  For those of you that do not know Hotwire, it is like gambling for middle and lower class travelers.  You put in your address and it gives you anonymous hotels within certain distance ranges from your given address. It tells you the stars of the hotel, the price you will pay (always cheaper than other travel sites because it ends up helping hotels you might not book on another site because of either the name or the distance). So you could end up with a hotel 3 blocks from your destination or 4 miles (my range was 0 to 5.5 miles that I picked from).  So I was very happy to get a hotel off of a Metro station, 3 stops from the Drafthouse when it could have been a disaster (and they are non-refundable – you only learn your hotel when you have already paid).  It is a very thrilling way to start a mundane trip. But possibly not riveting blog reading.

The shows were really fun at ACDH, as they were the first time I was there in 2014.  I began a bit rusty, but to be fair (since I never hesitate to shit on crowds that suck) they were easy/very pleasant audiences.  The most important thing I learned from the 1st night was that I needed to retire a Ronda Rousey joke I tell. Here is the offending part:

Even more than Hillary Clinton, I feel like Ronda Rousey is a more impressive feminist hero.  Because she is not just doing what a man does, but she is so impressive men might want to be her, without thinking of gender first. I mean she’s rich, she’s famous, she’s ripped and she gets applauded for beating the shit out of women. What guy wouldn’t want to be her?

Now the joke is a solid joke in terms of structure and punch line, but I finally realized (the joke has hit well 50% of the time for me and fallen flat 50% of the time in the 10-12 times I have told it) that I have to quit telling it. If I was 5’3″ and 105 lbs I could probably get away with it because (as I discussed with the emcee of the weekend) it would rise to the level of absurd and the joke would feel less like a viable threat.  However at 6’7″ 275 lbs the idea of hitting a woman is sort of impossible to make funny even if the joke technically works.  #LargeComediansPunchlinesMatter

The second night was outstanding.  I had dusted off some of the rust of the first night and both shows, especially the second one, were killer. Sadly, videotaping is not allowed at ACDH, even by comedians so the set will only live on in the hundreds of oral re-tellings of the feature act’s legendary performance by the hundreds in attendance.  New bits killed, old bits killed and by the end of the night I only had 5 of the 26 CDs I brought to sell (I lost 21 on the Metro – KIDDING – I sold 21 copies because I am very good at stand up comedy).

So it was a great trip and it felt good to be on the road again, even if just for a few days and even if I spent Saturday in my hotel reviewing e-mails for my daytime legal work.  I feel like the two best parts of road work are leaving and returning: the excitement of going to perform for new people and then the mental exhale of knowing you will get back home to your usual comforts: cookies and a TiVo. #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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Road Comedy Recap: The Scatman Crothers of Metro North

On Tuesday a storm hit the Connecticut/NY area.  It was a healthy mix of snow, rain and hail and caused me some apprehension because I had a gig in Stamford, CT at 8pm and it was up in the air whether it would be cancelled.  I also received multiple messages from my mother warning me about the weather, which if not for windows, eyesight and Internet access I would have never known.  Feeling sleepy and being discouraged by the weather I was tempted to cancel on the booker, but then I realized I had a lot of new material I wanted to work on so my love of comedy propelled me to Stamford.  That and the fact that at 330pm yesterday my daytime work assignment ended abruptly and the gig in Stamford was a paid gig.

I have not had road work since December so forgive me if I consider a 47 minute express train to Connecticut as a road gig, but for blogging purposes I do.  And for $14.50 I had to stand for the whole 47 minutes to Stamford (unlike many people I cannot fit into most Metro North seats, especially if there are other people sharing the seats).  So I am really less of a road comic and more of a road warrior.

When I got to Stamford I had about 40 minutes until my set and according to my phone’s GPS, which was getting soaked in the slushy rain that was pouring down, I was a mere 15 minutes from the bar.  And then my phone did something that it occasionally does that pisses me off.  Holding my phone completely upright it still refused to point the right way so I spent 10 minutes in the slushy dark trying to determine which unshoveled sidewalk I was supposed to walk on to get to the gig.  I finally was able to interpret my messed up GPS and trudged along to Castle Bar & Grill (a very cozy little spot in Stamford). When I walked in it looked like (get ready for the title of this blog) Scatman Crothers arriving in The Shining.  The only difference was that he was axed to death immediately after his long, wintry journey (35 year SPOILER) whereas I only wished someone would ax me as I dripped my way in to the bar like a giant, melting, grey parka snow cone.

After thawing out I went up and had a very good set for something that was 75% material written in the last month (#prolific #blessed #NeonBoudeaxuOfComedy #BlueChipsReference #ItMeansIamAGiantButYetLargelyUndiscoveredTalent #TooManyHashtags).  And it confirmed the thing I have felt for years – very little can restore my desire to perform comedy than doing well with newer material in a bar show.  They don’t do anything to advance the business side of my career but it always feels good to win over a small audience, as well as fellow comedians, and gives a little boost to keep going to see it work with bigger crowds.

Now it is time to get on social media and see a bunch of tools claiming to crush and/or be blessed so I can get rid of my renewed enjoyment of comedy ASAP.

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!