Comedy Mortality

One of the resolutions I made on Twitter/X (so it is legally binding) on the eve of 2024 was to get back to blogging once a week.  Though Saturday is not a business day (“every day is a business day” said the random bro influencer on Tik Tok with a million followers and an equally large number of aggressive, unverifiable platitudes), it is the last day of week 1 of 2024 so here I am maintaining one of my resolutions for at least a week.  I think the reason I singled out my blog, amidst all of the things I do (or try to do) in comedy was because in a time when I was truly a nothing in comedy (versus a significant has been currently) was that the blog had a bigger reach than I did.  Because I wrote honestly, and fairly well about many things, but most significantly, the struggles, hypocrisies, idiosyncrasies and (occasional) joys of stand-up comedy, the blog would sometimes generate broader mention than my early stand-up work.  So after a nearly 4 year period that saw my comedy career resurrected like Lazarus and euthanized like Old Yeller (early in my unexpected rise in 2020 I presciently suggested that my comedy career might have a similar arc as the patients in the film Awakenings), I thought, why not get back to my basics, if  only for comedic self-care.  Or at this point, it might just be comedic palliative care.

This week, after a 26 month ordeal that has been the worst experience of my 20 years doing stand-up comedy, my special Half-Blackface, was released.  I think, along with the companion album, which was released in August and differs in material by about 25 minutes, it is my finest work.  After the stresses of 2020, as related to my comedy career (inability to get a manager or agent to even call me back or set up a meeting, seeing a brief resurgent respect for lip sync as an art form, fearing the loss of my day job as I tried to pull 15 hour days in my apartment balancing a law firm workload and the unexpected need to produce comedy work for a career that had seemed comatose at best), I wanted to expose all the people who had become fans of mine from my impressions to my voluminous stand up work and sketch video library. With SNL not calling, I believed that stand up comedy was still my future and with approximately 200,000 new fans across social media, I wanted to convert those people into fans of my stand up. After all, if stand up clubs have been the all purpose venue spaces that managers and agents dump their “influencers” on to get a paycheck, then certainly a viral social media entertainer with 20 years of actual stand up experience should be a cake walk, right?

It turned out that none of the daydreams I had, logical though they may have been, came to pass. In fact, the biggest break I received post 2020 had nothing to do with the stand up world or anything I was expecting. I was asked to audition for a role on Billions in 2021, got the part and had a nice guest role in an episode of season 6.  It turned out that even without an agent, my social media reach was enough to create opportunities on its own.

But 2021 turned out to be the end of the ride up. After Donald Trump was kicked off of Twitter, my growth went from 10,000 followers a month for 7 straight months to zero. Not a few hundred a month. Zero.  Mind you, this was 2 years before Elon Musk took over.  And not only that, but engagement with the followers I had plummeted. I still get messages from followers telling me “I haven’t seen your stuff in months/years” (we will return to this point later).

But having learned hard lessons from a career of isolated successes that never snowballed into anything, I decided mid 2021, with Billions on the horizon and a great new hour of stand up that I had put together that perhaps, I could create one last gasp of social media buzz to turn my career from “what happened to that Trump guy?” to “Wow this guy was on Billions and has a killer new hour!”  I will not bore you with the details, but when a special takes two tapings and over two years to come out, things have not gone well.  In fact, the process was so long, that I wrote, filmed and (SELF-)produced a new album/special in the interim (Tall Boy on my YouTube channel and music streaming services).

But as I sit here typing today, in early 2024, I need to confront a sad truth.  Barring a miracle, my comedy career has likely peaked.  Every career has a peak. But you don’t know what your peak is until you start to fall from it and cannot regain it. I recently had to ask 3 MAJOR national headliners to write me recommendation letters to a booker. They all kindly did and it was a rare moment of feeling respected, or at least being treated kindly, in this business.  But even with my credits, skills and those recommendations, I am still not as hopeful for bookings as many might assume I should be.  At 44 I am not yet old enough to compete for the Lewis Black curmudgeon bookings, but I am certainly well outside the desired age range for Tik Tok Crowd Work Influencer-do you actually have any material? slots.  Is this how actresses used to feel when they turned 30, before porn made it OK to be hot and in your 30s?

Then there is the hopelessness of my social media platforms, especially Twitter/X.  Before 2020, when I had 4000 followers I would have one or two tweets a year that would explode and garner me some new followers.  I now have 125K followers, but have not had one tweet in 3 years reach the level of explosion.  In 2020, almost all my tweets and videos reached hundreds of thousands of people. But for the last 3 years, when trying to sell tickets, promote specials and other things of major significance to both a comedian, and presumable, a comedian’s fans, they get under 10% of that engagement, almost without exception.  Several people will probably respond to this by doing the progressive, reflexive response of “Elon ruined it!” but the truth is, in an effort to purge right wing misinformation (or right wing view points), my account was destroyed.

So if you are still reading this, you might be wondering, what is your point J-L?  My point, is that, even with all these things working against me, I still have a combined 90 thousand subscribers on YouTube and 125 thousand followers on X. These are people who chose to follow me based off of my comedic output.  So even if social media is not showing them my stuff, certainly they will search me out for shows and new content, right?  Wrong.

The harshest lesson from my rise in 2020 to where I am now (with a great new special that no one is seeing and a still prolific YouTube channel that has not lost subscribers, but has seen a 90% drop in views) is that the vast majority of people just want to be distracted.  Mediocre crowd work clips do the job just as well as brilliantly crafted material.  Most people, even self-proclaimed “fans” are willing to trust that the social media algorithms will show them what they want to see to an alarming degree (I had a fan tell me last year that “I haven’t seen your stuff in so long, I just assumed you quit” – which raises the concern that if having 6 social media accounts and a website are not convenient enough for a fan to look up if they don’t see your stuff, what the hell would be?).  Clearly most comedy fans have put on mental autopilot and assume social media will curate what they have asked for and will just assume the comedian is retired or dead before going to their page to see.

I also observed that many friends, co-workers, comedy colleagues etc. expressed unending amazement and support once 2020 hit and in my exuberance I was too clouded with a feeling of “Finally!” to realize that so many acquaintances from various times and places in my life were simply excited about proximity to someone with some heat, and nothing more.   Needless to say the only thing that has dropped off worse than my social media engagement is the emails and texts of impressed recognition.  I was funny and talented before March 2020, but good experiences feel better when shared, so my normal cynicism was in snooze mode. A career in comedy has limited my social circles (I joke that if I get married my wedding party will be my brother, my best friend and three podcasts) so sometimes Johnny Come Lately still feels like good company when you want any company to celebrate with you.

When I first recorded Half-Blackface I said two things to my girlfriend, who has had to endure almost 4 years of mood swings as my comedy has put me through the ringer. I said to her, my worst nightmare, related to comedy, is that I will make something truly great and it will never be heard or seen.  I also told her that if I could combine my best work (Half-Blackface) with my best entertainment opportunity (Billions) into one publicity chance then I could see if my career could continue.  Because if my best did not do anything, then it was no longer worth enduring if it would make me miserable to the people who actually care about me.  Ineptitude made the latter a moot point.  Social media algorithms and indifference seem to have made the former a reality.

The last time I felt close to this in comedy was 2013. I quit a stand up troupe I was part of and really did not think there was much hope for my comedy career. I then made a video called Louis CK Tells The Classics, which went viral and recorded my best stand up album (until the aforementioned Half-Blackface).    Both had more success than anything I have put out in the last 2 years, despite having a fan base 95% smaller.  As down as I was at the time about my career, there was still a glimmer of hope. Even if small, I did not feel barred from the game. Social media still could blow up (which it did for me with that video) and the industry did not feel shut off from me (I had meetings with 2 reputable managers in 2013, zero in 2020-21). But now, based on being shut off from my fans and their collective indifference (I am surely not unique in this respect – it is simply how we are now conditioned), I think there is little hope for a breakout moment again. Without representation and without a way to correct or appeal social media throttling my accounts, all I can do is make good stuff for the few that see it.  I promise that the blogs this year won’t be this morbid, but I have gone through the other 4 stages of grief (anger, denial bargaining, depression), so this is my attempt at acceptance.


How Good Is Breaking Bad? Not Even YOU Can…

For most readers of this blog it is not news or a shock that I have a podcast where I trash, or at least debate, popular, trendy or oversaturated things in our culture.  As much as crushing them is fun, at least half the time it is not the thing itself, but the overwhelming and overdone reaction of fans to the thing in question that I am really trashing.  I don’t hate cupcakes, to use an example of an early episode topic, just the way every bored chick with money in 2012 in Manhattan seemed to be opening up a cupcake store trying to out-cute and out-trendy the last week’s cupcake offering.  And last night, as I saw how large the Breaking Bad fan base seemed to have grown on social media I feared Breaking Bad might suffer the same fate as many of my podcast topics: that the culture that now obsesses over something (or anything) as soon as it becomes cool would drain Breaking Bad of its cool from overuse and overexposure and in the process kill (or at least reduce) my joy in it (sort of like the old people in the movie Cocoon did to the cocoon).

I liked Breaking Bad when I could still tell people about it without annoying them (3-4 seasons ago).  Now everyone who has caught up on Netflix in the last 8 weeks is preaching the Gospel with all the annoyance of a born again crystal meth Christian. I was not quite John The Baptist (that was comedian Nick Cobb for me who got me on the show after season 1 had aired), but I was a relatively early and outspoken fan, while the cool kids were still sucking Mad Men‘s balls (do you STILL think Mad Men is better????).  But now it has become a “thing” which is when I start to hate stuff, even if it is not the stuff’s fault.

But guess what?

Breaking Bad is too good for social media or humans to ruin, no matter how hard they hashtag and pun their asses off about the show!  This is the true sign of greatness – delivering the goods (which the final season premiere certainly did) while simultaneously withstanding the surrounding douchebaggery of trendiness that usually makes me hate something.

Congratulations Breaking Bad.  You are truly great.  Now I just hope there is not a mad rush to watch Six Feet Under by assholes.

Today’s post is short because I am conserving my energy. I just started the Paleo diet and will be bidding adieu to processed foods, potatoes of all kinds and desserts that are not fruit salad.  So hopefully by January 1st I will have dropped 60 pounds or died because I will not be able to deal with any other outcome.

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


Comedian Trojan Horses: The People Who Trick Us on…

As a comedian (or as I prefer to downgrade myself – unpaid intern at comedy A/K/A The King of All Unpaid Media) I am pretty liberal with my Facebook friend add policy.  I rarely seek anyone out, but when added I usually say yes.  However, I have a few tests to not approve of you.  The first is if I check out your page and all it contains are comments from other people – either posting on your page or thanking you for the friend request. That means you are not real.  The second is if you are an attractive woman I have never met and are located in a place I have never been and if all your friends are men.  The third is if there are only symbols in your name.  One of the good ways to get me to click approve is if we have mutual friends and none of them are comedians (then you rate very high on the authentic human scale).  Another good way is if we have a lot of friends in common (meaning comedian) then have a picture doing something funny or have some statuses that indicate a human being is operating the account.  And of course proceeding a friend request with a “I think you are awesome” direct message leads to 100% of friend request acceptances.  However, these simple guidelines do not create a perfect Facebook experience.  This is because some people seemingly come in peace in “comedian” trojan horses; they offer an outward appearance of humor – either offering or appreciating – but then end up bomarding you with their real agenda that consistently affects your wall in an adverse manner.  Some might say I should block them from my newsfeed, but I say a) I will just unfriend – NO HALF MEASURES – IT IS BREAKING BAD WEEK; and b) it gives me the daily dose of hostility I need – like a multivitamin for my comedy.  So here are some of the people who use false pretenses to sneak into the comedy world on Facebook:

The Comedian Who Is Too Quick to the Fan Page Invite – Dude, I don’t know you.  You requested me as a friend and now you are inviting me to like your fan page?  And now I am seriously believing that your “friend” request was really just a plot to put me in the fan zone – like telling a chick you want to date, when all you really want to do is hook up.  I am not that kind of a Facebook user!

The Issue Person – Sure I have seen you at some mics or  yes there are a couple of photos of you on stage somewhere, but deep down you just really used a keycard into the comedy community to gain an audience for your single issue focus, that had I known about before accepting a friend request I would have clicked ignore.  If your posts are not 75% or more humorous (or at least attempts at humor) then you are lying to the Facebook community. #Feminsim #LoveReligion #HateReligion #Etc.

YouTube Person: The Guy/Girl Who Never Stops Posting Article, News Stories, Videos, Etc. – I have the Internet too.  Please stop throwing it all on my news feed.

Comedian Who Goes From Comedy Posts to Perspective Posts – One of the great things to see is when a comedian makes a jump from obscurity to some level above obscurity and shifts to a mentorship role (much like Walter White – they always had the desire to pontificate, but now they have worked hard and have the perceived stature to do so) in their statuses that no ones asked them to take on.  Just because a manager or agent bullied clubs to take you on, or risk losing bigger names on the agent’s client roster does not mean that you now possess pearls of wisdom or magical insights into success.  Just stick to the funny.  If I wanted that bullsh*t I would send friend requests to Tony Robbins and Joel Osteen.  For the record – I have been doing this consistently as a failure so no one can accuse me of flipping the script and turning into a know-it-all when I make it big.

Flavor Flavs – Do, say, or post something funny if you are a comedian. Do not just be hypemen/women for other comedians.  Or else change that name or place of employment from comedian to something else.  And then send me a fan page request for Dan Jones – middle school teacher.  That I would definitely click “like” on.

If you read this and see any ressemblance to yourself it is not a coincidence.  It probably just means I still think well of you in real life, but real life is irrelevant to the more important life on Facebook.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!  This week’s episode is all BREAKING BAD so subscribe or follow today.


James Gandolfini and the 7 Ways Comedians React To…

James Gandolfini passed away shockingly yesterday at the age of 51.  He was known primarily for his iconic performance/character of Tony Soprano and for being the face of one television’s greatest, if not the greatest, shows (my pre-Game of Thrones list has it at #6 on my favorite shows of all time).  But with an untimely death comes the ritual of comedians taking to social media immediately to offer RIPs, jokes and other comments.  I was particularly disturbed after Whitney Houston’s death only because I thought her talent was so singularly spectacular that it would have been nice for people to reflect and appreciate it for a minute or too before offering half-baked jokes.  Plus, it is worth noting that I saw a lot of trashing of Whitney Houston (black) for her drug problem – sometimes in the form of “Why do we care about this crackhead whore who did this to herself when we have troops and other real heroes dying,” and yet interestingly enough I have seen no calls for similar reflection from America’s social media heroes in the wake of grieving and reflection for the obese Gandolfini (white).  But rather than make this my usual tone of judgment I thought I would just offer the casual comedy observer the different types of responses that now come from comedians in the wake of a tragedy.  Enjoy!

1) Standard RIP message – this is made to either show appreciation for the man or woman’s work, but just as likely to let everyone know that you have heard the news and are hopefully either informing them, which makes you cool, or that you are feeling something profound, which makes you look warm.

2) Hack Joke – for example if you mentioned the ending of The Sopranos or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ you need your comedy license revoked.  These always seem to happen so quickly to the point that you see 8 comedians with the same joke, and they are all Facebook friends sharing the same wall, but they still failed to realize that the joke was dead on arrival.

3) Video Clip and/or Photo RIP – I like these actually. The person is known for something so it makes sense to share.  Which is why I will share Kim and Ray J’s tape when Ray J dies.

4) Actually Funny Joke – after a day or more of respectful time usually, you can just go to for these 🙂 but seriously folks… every so often someone posts something that manages to be a little gallows humor, but not too disrespectful and actually funny (or disrespectful, but really funny).  But if they do that and then spend the next 2 minutes telling you how good that joke was you are watching Anthony Jeselnick.  This is a great blog post people…

5) Unbelievable Emotional Post – This is the horsesh*t extension of #1 where someone with no emotional connection has a heartbreaking message.  99 out of 100 I don’t buy it, but just know that if Bryan Cranston meets an untimely death, my tears will be real.

6) We were friends post – You met the celebrity twice, but you refer to them as your friend, your spirit, your buddy, your dear friend or any other such nonsense.

7) Fake Moral Outrage post – These are the folk who either take a celebrity’s death as a time to remind us about the troops or breast cancer or any other important thing, but they only do it on that day.  There were no posts about honor or important causes the day before.  They are like the Westboro Baptist Church – they show up to a social media mourning and then try to shame you with stuff they don’t care about most days, but become morally indignant just to fu*k with your appreciation.  Or they point out that the death was not a surprise or that they deserved it.  Hey – if the celebrity did not harm to others and they were talented it is OK to reflect on their skills and gifts without being told about the causes you rarely discuss during non celebrity mourning social media time.

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


This Week’s Best Reasons to Quit Comedy

Every week represents a new wave of opportunities to want to quit comedy for so many people.  “Oh he has an hour special!” or “How the fu*k did she get on Late Night TV?” or “Why does my bank balance have a negative in front of it – does that mean the bank owes me money?”  Twitter is a constant stream of “93 retweets? You have to be kidding me!” and Facebook is an overflow of good comics spending too much time having to (or not having to really) defend themselves and bad comics claiming they are above having to defend themselves.  I saw a “comedian” drop what I will call crude statements about the Cleveland rescue in succession, basically daring someone to say “you are not funny” so he could start yelling from the mountaintops “I am a comedian and I go to places you are afraid of!”  And you just want to say in a calm and rational voice, “No – you are just not funny.  Now you are offensive, but just because some people who are funny are offensive, does not mean it is a causal relationship.  Funny can be offensive, but offensive does not mean funny.”  But instead I just debated unfriending the person for 5 minutes for constantly flooding my Timeline with bad comedy.  But because I am glutton for punishment I did not.  But this inspired me to give you my top reasons why you should quit comedy this week (possible recurring theme)

1) Because a middle aged dude minding his business in Cleveland is funnier off the cuff and is way more charismatic than you are.  There are a lot of unfunny human beings doing comedy and I like to imagine that Charles Ramsey, the hero from Cleveland, was probably a great up and coming comedian who did not test well with millennials or middle aged white people and was turned away from the industry.  The bad news is, with these metrics guiding stand up comedy, comedy may suffer, but the good news is the world may have a lot of very funny and toothless heroes in the coming decades.

Now of course if you want other reasons to be annoyed – the video has 125 dislikes as of this typing – can we not find these people and eliminate them from society?  A lot of people like the death penalty for murder.  Not me.  Those people are outliers who cannot be deterred usually.  Prison is enough to deter the normal person.  I am for the death penalty for things like littering.  Because the average asshole who litters with a garbage can near him or the guy who gives a dislike to a video like this is probably making everyday life worse for more people.

And just like good comedy, don’t skip to the two minute mark like half the assholes on the web encourage you too – see the story and enjoy the buildup to some classic comedy!

2) Because the web is constantly looking for villains to put on cyber trial.  This week there have already been two “controversies” regarding humor throughout my Internet circles.  One is the article today from Slate about the response to Charles Ramsey.  I cannot say I disagree with the general premise of the article, but I also think it ignores the fact that unlike some other situations, Charles Ramsey was actually a poised, confident and funny dude.  I appreciate sensitivity to issues like this, but I also think it is part of the Internet’s 100% rate of finding a villainous angle to things.  I am sure there are pockets of the population enjoying the Ramsey video for the wrong reasons – like if you are more obsessed with him saying ribs and “MacDonald’s”, than his great “Deeead Giveaway” tag line then you, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, might be an asshole.

But the real story occupying many in the comedy world is the recent back and forth between a blogger and comedian Sam Morril.  Here is the blog that started all of it.  Sam wrote a fine response on Facebook and the blogger replied with this.  I think Sam is funny and all of the jokes she cited have made me laugh in person.  The only problem is that it is getting tiring and annoying to keep defending comedy.  If Sam was not good at comedy then I would have a problem with his jokes.  But they are funny and clearly intended as humor so the discussion ends there for me. But in a world where every slight and every incident and every thought has the potential to become viral or widespread this blow up is going to become the norm.  Every person who is offended or unamused or somewhere in between has a bullhorn known as the Internet.  And that would be reason enough to quit comedy this week, if not for number 3.

3) Because Comedians and the Internet always turn these issues into overly thoughtful circle jerks.  At some point between hours 12 and 36 of a “comedy controversy” it becomes an irritating circle jerk of thought and debate.  First comes the rallies to Sam’s defense, then come the attacks on the bloggers, then come the tweets and posts about “debate” and “respect” and “art” and then comes the congratulating each other even if on the opposite sides of this thorny “issue.” I actually saw two comedians have a semi-debate on Twitter and then have the equivalent of a social media hug it out and agree to disagree.  One day, philosophers and school children will ask, “Which came first, the blogger who took comedians too seriously or the comedians who took themselves too seriously and made themselves relevant to bloggers?”

4) Because a manager arranged and cancelled two meetings (one by simply not calling back).  OK this one was just for me, but a reminder that after a decade I still ain’t sh*t!

5) Because Funny or Die stole the Huffington post’s mojo and posted a list of funny women you should be following on Twitter.  The only possible good that might come out of this is if the pro women on Twitter HuffPo folks get into an East Coast-West Coast war with Funny or Die’s female tweet fans and then both go down in a hail of bullets.  See that is a murder joke, not  a rape joke.

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


The Repetitive Cycle of Tragedy and Social Media

On Monday afternoon, after clearing my DVR of 4 days-on-the-road recordings, I returned to the regularly scheduled television programming to see that it was not the regularly scheduled programming.  The news was reporting a bomb or bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon. The tragedy would end up killing three, maiming dozens and injuring over one-hundred.  It was a terrible day for Boston, running enthusiasts and anyone who wants to feel safe and secure in their every day life.  But almost as instantly as the tragedy occurred, a now familiar threesome of of sympathetic messages, patriotic outrage and unformed, unfunny jokes flooded social media.  Because of the conditioning many of us have undergone with social media (my unproven theory is that due to the decline of  faith and religion, but not in humanity’s overriding need to feel connected, we have developed a culture where food eaten, thoughts thought and feelings felt must all be shared to give us some sense of meaning and of being part of something bigger) I considered sharing my thoughts on the incident, as well as some unfortunate jokes that popped into my head (“Even our 9/11 was better. #GoYankees” was a particularly heinous fleeting funny thought), but chose not to.  I preferred a time when I did not have to consciously stop myself from doing these things, but it is a start in retreating from the mentality I have adopted within social media.  The fact is I believe a lot of the outpouring of sympathy is self-serving, not necessarily selfish, but definitely self-serving.  And I think the comedians that jump at a chance to make these jokes are seeking only exposure and notoriety  – why else would you post half-baked jokes that are likely to offend people? No one really wins with that – comedy fans get a weak product and people’s feelings get hurt.  And then these lead to conflict and stupidity on social media.

The basic timeline for these tragic events now go like this:

  1. Tragic Event occurs
  2. Everyone sends out thoughts and prayers via social media
  3. More facts emerge
  4. More thoughts and prayers are sent out via tweets, status updates and possibly through actual thought and prayer
  5. First few comedians begin to post jokes that are generally not clever or funny, but are definitely the first on the topic.
  6. Patriotic anger from people
  7. More thoughts and prayer messages
  8. Outrage at jokes made as well as “how could you do (fill in the blank) at a time like this, which then extends to anything that is not outrage and sympathy on your Twitter feed or Facebook Timeline
  9. Defense of jokes made by comedians claiming to be the guardians of the 1st Amendment and “everyone grieves in their own way” even though they are not really grieving at all.
  10. More thoughts and prayers, but with inspiring messages and memes of how we cannot be defeated by ugliness.
  11. Political anger – why isn’t Obama calling it a terror attack (even though common sense tells you that while clearly a terror attack, the term “terrorism” evokes a more specific connotation that may be wise to avoid before more facts are revealed)?
  12. Messages that we all stand with Boston
  13. Messages from people reminding us that all over the world there are bigger and worse tragedies every day and that we should once in a while throw thoughts and prayers in their direction as well.
  14. Gruesome images of the Boston attack for no apparent reason, but that we should all be angered and hurt by the incident, so why not post bloody limbs on the Facebook timeline.
  15. We all stand with Boston messages have officially replaced thoughts and prayers
  16. More people joking.
  17. Share pictures of different children holding signs teaching us how we really should be.

And this was basically a recap of 24 hours.  One day!  I do not mean to sound callous or rude, but the Boston incident did not really affect me in a significant way.  I think it is a sad event and I think it is terrible for the people who witnessed it, experienced and have suffered loss.  But this is someone writing who has not felt fully safe in a movie theater (my favorite sanctuary from a lot of things) since the Aurora shooting.  What are the chances something happens to me in a movie theater?  Almost zero.  But that incident felt like my sanctuary was shattered because it was so violent and so unexpected.  Similarly, I am sure runners everywhere feel that way and I appreciate and understand it.  That is why I chose not to joke about the incident. Out of respect.  The need to joke about it did not trump common decency, something that our sex-tape, shock-value, nothing-is-sacred culture seems to have misplaced. But I won’t pretend like the incident has touched me in a deep way just to appear like everyone else.  Every day I read something in the New York Times that makes me cringe or feel terrible, but it is also not my place to blast that the day of an incident that has hurt many people deeply.

I really think we just live in a fraudulent society now.    Even if thoughts and prayers do something, I am sure that tweeting thoughts and prayers does nothing except allow everyone to see that you are doing proper things.  I spoke to my Mom about how sad the incident was and watched some of the news.  Had the incident been bigger in scale, perhaps I would have donated blood.  When did we become a society where the outward appearance and expression of emotion became the norm for everything?  I actually had the thought when social media exploded during and after the Boston tragedy, “Thank God we did not have this crap during 9/11.  At least we were forced to process that tragedy in a deeply personal and meaningful way instead of becoming a series of token statements and weak humor.”  Appearing to feel something now seems as important as actually feeling something.  And competing with that emotional fraudulence is a comedic fraudulence.  Comedy used to be about being funny and/or having a message.  But thanks to Twitter followers, Google Analytics and dumb friend willing to like and indulge mediocre comedic sensibilities and worse taste, every death, ranging from celebrity to human tragedy, begins a stop watch for comedians acting like heroes and writing like amateurs to pump out something offensive or mediocre in an effort to satiate the gods of web traffic and timeliness.

The funny thing is I agree with most of the things on the list above and also hate most of the things on the list above (especially the jokes part – I am never for censoring comedians’ right to say something, but hate when most of it is unfunny, simple and sensational).  But our response to tragedy, due perhaps to a combination of numbness and needing to feel included and special, appears to be about us and not about the tragedy or the victims.  “Look how sympathetic I am” (to me it is no different than wishing RIPs or Happy Birthdays to people on social media who are not actually on social media – who is this for?  Us to recognize what a warm and caring person you are, or to honor the person you speak of?), “Look how edgy I am,” “But look how outraged I am!”  This was a tragedy, but sadly I think it is the new normal.  We live in a world with increasingly deadly technology, easier access to that technology and a populace always looking to send messages from hashtags to terrorism.  I just hope as our society changes we still remember how to actually feel sympathy and experience joy and pain and not just express it on websites.  And one thing I left of the list…

18. Blog about your thoughts on the whole incident.

For more contentious, but also more funny, stuff from J-L check out this week’s episode of his podcast here.


Rise of the Frans – Comedy & Social Media’s…

Over the last couple of years in comedy, with the rise of social media, there have been many hints and tips on how to accelerate your career using the new forms of communication.  “Communicate with fans!” “Create a relationship with fans!”  “Be Louis CK!”  Other than “content creation” there are no other things I hear more in comedy right now to make it.  Unfortunately, I feel like all this advice and expertise sharing is moot.  Like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (not really a Breaking Bad reference, but feel free to think of Walter White as you read this), which states that you cannot know the position and momentum of something at the same time, all this advice about social media and outreach is outdated as soon as it is identifiable.  Once ten comics have made money and success from a given strategy (Dane Cook – MySpace, Rob Delaney – Twitter, George Lopez – Latino people with terrible senses of humor), everyone adopts the technique and then collectively saturate the market with it.  And no on discusses the side effects or unintended consequences of all this outreach!  Sure, for the upper echelon of comedians in stature and money, they still call the shots, but I recently mowed three fans’ lawns just to get them to listen to my free weekly podcast.  Telling jokes, providing free content and travelling around the country is not quite enough these days.  Now, this is not to say that the advice of communicating with fans is useless, but at some point too much communication, outreach and heavy petting can lead to an awkward blurring of the line between fan and friend, which has given rise to a new breed of people thriving in the new media world of comedy: “Frans.”

Frans can come in three varieties: one is the fan that crosses too quickly into friend territory and starts sharing too much personal information. The second Fran is a friend that believes because they have been to three shows in 8 years and has heard of Louis CK that they are now well equipped to critique and modify your act.  The final Fran is very common to comedians – the token Fran – the friend who has claimed to be a fan for a long time and turns out is really neither.


This Fran starts as an eager fan and can engage you on various topics – sports, movies, comedy and it all stays solid.  If it stays there you have a great fan, social media has worked and you should reward them with merch or comp tickets or recreational drugs.  But Type 1 Fran-ness can start with a personal question  or an inquiry for advice on a personal matter, which then puts the comedian in a position that I hate in all aspects of life (I have used this example before on sharing cable bills).  If you engage on a personal level, then you have just turned the fan into a Fran.  However, if you pull the “slow down,” or “that is not my department” then you may lose the fan entirely when they feel like, justifiably or more likely unjustifiably, like a used up Steubenville high school student who was only there to have his or her funny bone  tickeled while they were passed out in what they thought was a friendship blackout.  In other words, there is no safe middle ground – you are either uncomfortable or an asshole.  I once had a fan tell me “can’t you act like a person?!” during an exchange and all I could think was, “I’m not a person! I’m a comedian!!”

The way to nip this in the bud, in my opinion is to have a firm boundary.  Mine is either the second pregnancy or the third restraining order, whichever comes first.  That is when I tell a fan, “Hey, you have crept in the the Fran zone!”


This is the person that started out as a friend and then, thanks to lots of interactions with you and your comedy on social media, began to feel a little bit like Luke Walton. What I mean by that is when Luke Walton arrived on the Shaq-Kobe Lakers he probably was in awe of their talent and very respectful.  But after 4 or 5 seasons of VIP treatment at clubs, championship rings, Luke Walton probably started offering Shaw free throw tips and trying to compete for chicks with Kobe at the club.  Similarly, if your friends become immersed in your comedy world on social media and on the Internet what may start out as a respectful, deferential relationship to the work you have put in to your comedy and the talent you have cultivated, but then all of a sudden your friend goes from Flavor Flav, just offering spontaneous bursts of encouragement to P Diddy – attempting to one-up your status updates on Facebook, critiquing all aspects of things you do and then slyly throwing in comments like “WE know what funny is.”  Since when did you go from my Luke Walton to my Scottie Pippen?

The way to nip this in the bud is to go out to a big dinner with them and at some point during the dinner do this to them:


This is the friend who claims to always support your comedy and then after a few years you realize, no you don’t! And then you realize, we aren’t even really friends!  And finally, that is when you tell your parents you are moving out.

The cure for this is easy – do not get into comedy. If you respect your parents and family at all you won’t make them choose between loving you and respecting you.

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


The Social Media Guide to Watching Breaking Bad

Last Sunday night I watched a great episode of Breaking Bad, the best show on television by a mile and a show that is only looking up at Six Feet Under in my all-time drama rankings.  But thanks to Twitter, Facebook, E-mail and Adult Friend Finder my television viewing has become a high wire act to avoid both spoilers and requests for immediate analysis at 11:05 pm every Sunday.  This Sunday’s episode was particularly bad because a fairly major event occurred, but because I was 11 minutes behind on my DVR I was treated to an alert on Twitter that spoiled the ending (Yes, I know the solution is to avoid Twitter, but I was not checking it.  It was when I went to look at something else on my computer that the message was up on my screen. The person deleted the tweet which was a good idea because I went looking for the tweet so I could publicly shame them).   So, in keeping with this blog’s love of Breaking Bad, as well as its beloved condescending and angry tone, here are my tips/requests of people who ruin Breaking Bad:

1) You must wait at least 48 hours before revealing significant plot points.  Sunday night has become television’s most packed night. Perhaps you are still cleaning off your vibrator of bad taste and loneliness from an episode of True Blood or enjoying Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom, the only thing liberals refuse to abort, despite the fact that it endangers the health of the viewer, but Breaking Bad belongs on the level with The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire (no, Mad Men you may not join this party you pretentious B+ of a show posing as an A+) as Sunday’s greatest achievements (Church and NFL are already in the Sunday Hall of Fame).  But folks, the DVR has been invented!  So people are not watching all their shows from 10:01-11:04, but may start it at 10:15, 10:30 or even the next day!  Granted, if you are a true Breaking Bad fan only military service or the birth of a male child should prevent you from watching it the night it airs, but unless you start at 10:11 pm with flawless fast forwarding skills you will be seconds or even minutes behind the real time viewing.  If you feel compelled to comment on the show (instead of staring blankly at the screen for hours, the way I did after the final two episodes of Season 3 of Breaking Bad) here are examples of acceptable and unacceptable social media posts:

  • ACCEPTABLE – “Tough/Sad/Great Breaking Bad tonight””
  • UNACCEPTABLE – “RIP ——–(enter name of character)”

Now I believe RIP messages on Twitter and Facebook are usually inappropriate, but reasonable people can differ on that (you are still wrong if you disagree with me). However, RIP messages for fictional characters that ruin plot points for others can not be acceptable in a civilized society.  And this says nothing for people in later time zones who are also victims of these Breaking Bad social media terrorists.  Admittedly I have done this on shows like American Idol, but I have no respect for fellow viewers of American Idol.  Breaking Bad viewers deserve more respect.

And as a follow up to this – if someone is good enough to post an acceptable message, you should not then retweet or comment with information that spoils what the original poster was not revealing.  You are a bad person if you do this because you are both spoiling the show and hijacking someone else’s status update for your own evil agenda.

So I think 48 hours is a good amount of time before openly revealing plot points. Please abide by this out of respect for people who watch television’s best show.  Or you shall be dealt with like Gus Fring dealt with the cartel in season 4:

2) Please Do Not Ask Me For Instant Analysis.  As part of the social media culture we are in a race to declare, opine or explore everything instantaneously.  I am usually bombarded with emails within 30 minutes of the conclusion of a good episode.  I am still wiping the lotion off of my nether regions thirty minutes after a good episode of Breaking Bad, so what makes you think I want to immediately get on my computer, AKA porn machine, if I am already spent?  Besides, Breaking Bad episodes, the truly powerful ones (which is all of them, including The Fly episode – shut up haters!), are meant to linger in your mind and soul and make you question all that is good and bad in the world (or am I taking it too seriously?), so let those thoughts and feelings marinate.  That is why it is called water cooler conversation – because you should wait until mid-morning on Monday to discuss it. In other words, if enticed to ask questions either go to sleep or follow Walter White’s advice:

3) Do Not Live Tweet Episodes of Breaking Bad.  I know AMC has all sorts of “two screen experience,” promotions but dammit,  just watch the show.  This is simply a respect issue.  Like people who play fantasy football and then ruin your experience because they are rooting in your face for a back up running back against your team, simply because their Dungeons and Dragons league is at stake, live tweeters are ruining the show for themselves and you.  Like taking your hat off indoors or holding a door for a woman who is not starting at her iPhone, this should be a time-honored part of proper, mannerly behavior.  I think computers should be rigged to react like Tio Salamanca’s wheelchair here for anyone who live tweets Breaking Bad:

That is it people – really easy steps to making the final 9 episodes of Breaking Bad more enjoyable for everyone.  And sorry if this post spoiled season 3 or 4 for you, but what the fu*k have you been waiting for?  If you read this blog and have not watched Breaking Bad until now and are not at least caught up through Season 4 then it is your own fault. Bitch.