Comedy and Weight Loss Across America

When life closes one door, another one opens.  This is very true in my life, but generally when one decent door closes , the new door opening is an elevator door opening yielding an empty and fatal elevator shaft.  For the last couple of months I have been struggling to keep up with my free content empire (blogs and sketch videos have suffered the biggest reduction, the podcast has had more solo episodes while movie reviews remain the most consistent) with some very time consuming daytime legal work.  But no need to worry fan (or possibly I am up to fanS plural now), my day job assignment ended two weeks early so while I will start desperately seeking day time work (I receive replies to 5% of my comedy booking emails, but 75% of my legal work emails so at least I get some positive affirmation on top of actual money from pursuing legal work over comedic work) and experiencing financial related stress I will have more time to reaffirm my status as the King of All Unpaid Media.  Today’s contribution is a series of videos from stand up shows this year that will showcase some solid bits (mostly new from the 2nd half of 2014, or improved if not new bits) and provide an accidental time lapse of some of my weight loss this year.

I considered posting my half hour submission to Comedy Central from the DC Improv, but I would rather keep that product private until I officially don’t get picked. In the unlikely event I get selected then I definitely won’t post it because I think 90% of it would end up being what I would like to showcase on a television taping.  So enjoy this collection of random bits from 2014:

The Fatal Mistake of Quiznos

Dating vs Hooking Up

The Battle of Generations at Panera Bread

The End of Racism and Black Bouncers

The Benefit of Gay Marriage

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!


Lebron, Nipples and Shows: LA Comedy Journal

This week I have been in Los Angeles, with the main purpose of my visit being my second appearance on The Adam Carolla Show, which you can listen to here.  The recording went great and I think ensured me a third appearance (at which point I will refer to myself as a show “regular,” which although a stretch, will certainly be more true than the 1.5 million people walking around LA with either “activist” and/or “producer” on their business cards.  Among the perks of the show were the new vending machine that is completely free sitting in the studio.  Leaving the studio I did the classy thing and only took one bag of Famous Amos Cookies, instead of taking 9 bags of cookies, 14 bags of various candies and some gum, like I wanted to.  But there has been so much more to this LA trip than just crushing another appearance on the Carolla Show (#grinding #blessed #thankful).  So here are some of the highlights:

Los Angeles’ Confused Relationship with Lebron James

On Sunday evening I watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals at a sports bar.  My friend Nick and I were rooting for Lebron, which earned us numerous scornful stares, which I found odd given the fact that half of this town are people who left their hometowns behind to pursue the noble professions of acting and fellatio.  But fast forward to Tuesday night for Game 3 at a different sports bar that was dominated by Miami Heat fans (they even had jerseys to prove that they have been die hard fans for at least 4 years) and the reaction was completely different.  Being that this town feels like it is full of front running ass-kissers (imagine if the NYC comedy community ran an entire city) this felt more appropriate than the hostile reaction Lebron support got on Sunday.  Of course I eventually felt uncomfortable supporting the Heat when with 4 minutes left and the Heat  down 18, Rashard Lewis hit a 3 pointer, cutting the Spurs insurmountable lead to 15 points.  And then I saw a 13 year old Latin kid (I would guess Puerto Rican) ,who did not weigh on the triple digit side of 100 pounds pump his fist, mean mug a table of chubby Mexican dudes who were rooting respectfully for the Spurs, and say “what the fu*k you gotta say now you fu*king fa*gots!?”  Now they did not hear him, but I did… and so did this kid’s proud family members.  The response?  Nothing.  Obviously there was an undertone of Latin-on-Latin hate (Puerto Ricans rank 2nd on the Latino on Latino rankings, trailing only Cubans, but far outranking Mexicans), but I thought to myself “What would have happened if I called a group of strangers “fu*king fa*gots” at 13 in front of my family.  My guess is my parents would have stabbed me to death in shame before the table of Mexicans could do it.  But I wish this young man in his future as a low ranking member of the Latin Kings or as a high ranking member of a fast food management team in a decade.

Epidemic of Male Nipples at LA Gyms

So after a few days of eating terribly (the unlimited chips and cookies on a six hour flight are a gateway drug) I went to the gym today, a nearby 24 Hour Fitness.  And boy did it deliver.  Over 50% of the people had tattoos, including several guys that look like Harry Potter.  A majority of the women had ink, but the thing I noticed most of all, besides the worst pec size-to leg size ration I have seen in a good while, was the proliferation of male nipples.  Now I am not one of these tools that thinks women should be allowed to walk around topless (my apologies to Bruce Willis’ oddly big-breasted son who has been campaigning hard for this), but it makes me think that maybe men should do some covering up.  I would actually find it less weird for a dude to be working out shirtless than with a tank top that only seems to be beating the gym rule of “must wear shirt” on a technicality. Congrats sirs, 4 millimeters of each shoulder and your lowest 2 abs are covered by your “shirt.”  Other than seeing two women walking around with gallon jugs of water (is this a new cause? to prove that women can be as douchey as men in a gym?), the proliferation of male nipple was the weirdest trend I saw in the LA gym.

Fun Shows ad Reunions with NYC Comedians

It is amazing the mental change that can occur when doing unpaid bar shows 3,000 miles from home.  Other than been paid in a substance that I have no desire to use my four shows this week are all unpaid (#Grateful #blessed #Grinding #thankful).  Normally I would just watch TV or hang out with buddies in town, but being in a different city in front of different people, has a natural rejuvenating effect that motivates one to get on stage and, at least in my case, work on newer material.  I have also seen enough familiar faces to add a touch of comfort to the experience.  So I guess what I am saying  is when I get back to NYC… I will return to my normal level of unmotivated.  #Grinding

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!


Hosting (but not competing in) a Comedy Contest: Still…

This weekend I hosted a few shows as part of the Laughing Devil Festival in New York City.  I gave up a few years ago on entering comedy contests/festivals because a) I never won and b) no matter how often I said to myself, “Hey, just meet other comedians, have good shows and don’t worry about the contest component,” I would inevitably advance a round or two, which would kick in the competitive juices, just setting up disappointment and “but how did he/she advance based on that set?” sort of attitudes.  I have enough to be hostile, bitter or angry about with comedy without volunteering for more punishment.  But that said, I will gladly get paid to host shows at comedy contests, which is what I did Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.  And yet I still found myself angry, but for other comedians who did not advance.

Wednesday and Thursday shows were quarterfinal rounds of the contest at Broadway Comedy Club. The crowds were full and the sets were mostly excellent (everyone was doing five minutes sets so they should be excellent or close to).  In Wednesday’s lineup there was a comic from San Francisco who had a terrific set (Kevin Whittinghill), probably my favorite of the show, but he was discussing being divorced and as I heard my laughter getting louder and louder I realized I had given this comic the kiss of death.  If I am enjoying a comedian too much it can mean that the performer has a perspective and tone that may appeal to people with life experience and/or people over the age of 26 who did not arrive in NYC with fanny packs and I Love NY shirts (stop saying “I heart” assholes).  But wishing partial handicaps on the future child of your ex wife who is marrying the man with whom she cheated on you is funny, dark and not something you hear every day from the stage.  Another line I enjoyed (as the comedian mocked modern positivity) was “YOLO, right?  You know what YOLO is? It is from a Drake song and it means you only live once so you might as well write a terrible song.”  I knew the comedian would not advance though. I just had a feeling and I was right.  Not taking anything away from the other comedians, but five advanced and I was really disappointed Whittinghill not deemed top five.  I don’t know if he has any great material after the five minutes I saw and after conversations with him he has not been doing comedy for that long, but seeing a comedian get semi-screwed in a contest started to bring up feelings of my own comedy contest trauma.

Sidebar – I am so tired of the catering the industry is doing to “millennials.” When I was a teen and a young adult I did not need someone who looked like me to tell me jokes, or someone with the same empty thoughts to spout them back at me – I wanted Carlin, Rock, Girlado, etc to tell me their world view, to share their perspective because it was funnier and more interesting than what my friends and I were joking about.  But now in the age of “You’re the best” marketing and people walking into you while texting and tweeting on crowded streets because of their inflated sense of Sun-Revolves-Around-Me syndrome, people want to just give people what they want and what makes them think about themselves. Hence why Comedy Central is always asking “How do bros feel about this comedian?”

The next night I was hosting again and the lineup was even stronger overall than the Wednesday show.  Several people got huge laughs, but the comedian I thought had the best set of the night (Matt Ruby) did not advance.  I have known Ruby for a long time and I was familiar with most of his material, but his set was the best overall – crisp, funny, consistent throughout – like a very strong late night television set.  So for the second night in a row I ended up leaving the contest disappointed that my favorite set each night did not even advance.  I felt like a Vegas cooler – as soon as I endorsed or rallied around a comedian their chances immediately tanked.

The Semi-Finals on Saturday, which I hosted, took place not at Broadway Comedy Club, but at LOL Comedy Club, which takes place in a 5th floor room of a building on 43rd Street and appears to be the place where they will film Saw 8.  The competition was great, but for the 3rd straight show I left frustrated.  The two best sets of the night were rewarded with 1st and 2nd so that was all good (and I believe the person who won the semi-final round I hosted, Drew Michael, went on to win the whole contest and that certainly seemed like a worthy outcome), but two sets I thought were more than deserving of appearances in the finals (Mike Trainor and Jacob Williams) did not move on (this is not to disparage those that advanced or didn’t, but without a horse in the race I was surprised to see a comedian I had ranked 11th out of 12 based on that night’s sets advance to the finals).

So I must say the level of frustration was slightly diminished by not competing and seeing that the winner had delivered strong sets, but this week also showed that I can still get frustrated at seeing other people get semi-screwed over.  I don’t know if this means I am more empathetic than people give me credit for or if I am just angrier at comedy than even I realize.  Or maybe it is both.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!


President Me by Adam Carolla

This past weekend I finished an advance copy (it’s out now anyway) of Adam Carolla’s new book President Me (this not a brag that I somehow receive advance access to popular media – I got it from someone who had access to advance copies of books and I will leave it at that).  It is no secret that I am a fan of Carolla.  I thought his first book, In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks, was non-stop hilarity.  His follow-up, Not Taco Bell Material, had moments of excellence but was not as much of a laugh riot as Chicks.  Well, President Me gets Carolla back to the Chicks approach: less memoir, more observations of the world around him. The result is just about as excellent as Chicks.

Now when it comes to my differences with Carolla, they grow the bigger the issue – i.e. the more macro an issue – taxes, government policy, race relations I tend to deviate from him.  However, when it comes to everyday things, which are the funnier of his observations and the overwhelming majority of the book, I rarely disagree with him.

The difference is in President Me is when I disagree with Carolla there was more of an attempt on his part to address the arguments against his viewpoint (before steamrolling ahead with his view anyway). The best example of this is his support of voter ID laws.  He readily acknowledges the subversive motives of the Republican Party, but then says he just thinks we should have them anyway.  Of course his near-endorsement of a poll tax (requiring everyone to bring a pay stub to the ballot) is a step way too far (but done half for comedic value), but I sort of appreciated that unlike folks from places like Fox News, at least he can say that he thinks something makes sense, even if he acknowledges that the people endorsing it are far from infallible heroes.

The main parts of the book are just laugh out loud funny.  I think his few pages on the proliferation of exposed feet in our society are the funniest things I have read in a while.  I think the main reason I like Carolla so much, despite our political differences, is that his view is “can we have an expansion of rights for everyone, but not a destruction of decorum and decency?” “Can’t things stay old school if old school had it right” sort of approach.  I have said it on a recent album that I feel in many ways I have more in common with my parents’ generation than I do with people in their early 20s.  Carolla may oversimplify some of the big things in our society and government, but on the specifics of every day life he is pretty spot on. And hilarious.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!


Road Comedy Recap: Blood, Dogs and Laughs in North…

This weekend I was in Raleigh, North Carolina performing at Goodnight’s Comedy Club.  It was the typical J-L road comedy adventure (long, cheap travel, awkward accommodations, long walks along highways to stores and of course the usual mix of hugely entertained and awkwardly hostile audience members).  But let’s begin from the beginning.  The shows began at 8pm Thursday and since a flight to Raleigh would vanquish any semblance of profits for me it was time to call in back-up from my mighty stockpile of Amtrak travel points.  I booked the 7 am “Carolinian” which is a manageable 10.5 hours.  Now one of the downsides of the trip is that after that long on a train headed south of Washington, DC you end up smelling like the feet of old black women (which a friend said on Facebook sounds like a Civil Rights Era documentary).  And with a Southern staff manning the train the service was chatty, friendly and of course had us arrive 2 hours late to Raleigh.

With my 3 hour pre-show time cut to one hour I had to race to my deluxe accommodations at the Days Inn (when I arrived I realized there was a problem – I was paying 2 star hotel prices, but getting 1 star accommodations – the answer?  Duke University graduation. So not only did that school cost me money in 2010’s tournament, but they were now costing me money by raising the price of my hotel, which looked like it was usually inhabited by Waingro from Heat right before he murdered prostitutes , to civilized society prices).

I was opening for Iliza Schlesinger (but wait, I thought all the top female comics were at the Women in Comedy Money Grab – er – I mean Festival in Boston????) and when I got to the green room I was greeted by her and her emotional support dog.  It was a small dog and as you can imagine I was highly disturbed by this in theory.  The emcee and I were instructed that the dog could not be alone, so one of us would have to be in the green room keeping it company throughout her sets.   As it turned out though, the dog was very sweet and well behaved (except when Iliza would do her closing bit at which point, like clockwork, the dog would start to whimper and look to the door of the green room anticipating her return.  I am obviously still vehemently opposed to the concept of emotional support  dogs for anyone besides autistic children, but I will give the dog, Blanche, her due – she was a pleasant green room companion.

As for the shows I did solid work.  One of the new bits I am integrating into my set is about the devaluation of the word “empowering” through the story of Belle Knox, the Duke porn dabbler.  And I thought, what better place than 15 miles from Duke to start to make it part of my set.  And on Friday’s late show I stuck the bit, got great crowd response and when I got back to my camera saw that it was recording the wall to the right of the stage.  Someone had bumped the camera and not said anything or made an attempt to fix it.  What’s worse is that when I reviewed this comedy Zapruder film, the bump occurred literally 10 seconds before the bit began (which was 15 minutes into my set).  Obviously I suspect Belle Knox – the timing was too perfect to be coincidence.

Of course this was a J-L Cauvin comedy road trip so it could not be all good news.  For the second time in under a year I stayed in a room where blood was found on the fresh bed sheets (the La Quinta Inn in New Haven looked more like a Kardashian was having a heavy flow day, whereas at the Days Inn it looked more like someone had merely squeezed a zit in a corner of the sheet – so a real upgrade in class for me).  And I had to do document review work for half the train ride down and all day Friday before the Friday shows.   On top of all that the comedy club is located right next to a prison.  I only mention it because next time I might commit a few small misdemeanors in town so I can get an upgrade from the Days Inn (yes, I am a former prosecutor and I know that I would not spend a night in a prison as a result of an arrest).

Among the real highlights of the trip was getting a visit from The Black Guy Who Tips, his wife and a few of their friends to the Friday late show, continuing my new tradition of making friends on-line through comedy and podcasting and then meeting them in person a year later (talking to you Rob and Joe show).  The other good feeling was that the emcee and an audience member knew my YouTube work (the tweet Saturday night of “Just put it together that I saw Alt Wolf/Louis CK tonight” was something so cool I almost smiled).  And for any comics travelling to Raleigh the brownie sundae at the club Is hands down the best dessert I’ve ever had at a comedy club.

So as I head back to day job world today (after a ride north on Amtrak yesterday next to two meth heads from Boston and their meth princess describing different beatings they have given people) I would like to leave you with my favorite exchange from the weekend (other than when Iliza told me and the emcee, who was also 6’7”, that she felt safe… and skinny around us – I fought the urge to punt her dog like Jack Black punted Baxter in Anchorman). So here is the chat I had with some folks after the late show Saturday:

Nice guy: You aren’t really taking Amtrak home right. You have your plane ticket I’m sure.

Me: (pulls Amtrak ticket out of wallet and shows to him)

NG: Oh, I thought you just made that up!

Me: Nope

NG: But you must make some good money doing this – got to be like $500 a show, right?

Me: (Laughing/Crying maniacally)

NG: But you are chasing your dream. That must feel great.

Me: Laughing/Crying on the floor like Walter White in the episode of Breaking Bad when all his money is gone and he thinks Gus Fring is going to kill him.

I feel like every exchange I have with potential fans just turns into the Jake Taylor scene from Major League:


Woman: I’ve heard ball players make a lot of money.

Jake Taylor: Depends on how good you are.

Woman: Well how good are you?

Jake Taylor: I make the league minimum.

Catch me hosting shows for the Laughing Devil Festival in NYC this week (or reviewing documents in Midtown Manhattan).  Thanks for a fun weekend Raleigh.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

Stand Up Comedy

Comedy Career Advice: Keep Your Day Job. Seriously.

I am sitting on an Amtrak train, on my way to Raleigh, NC, as I write this.  I will be featuring at Goodnight’s Comedy Club for the next three nights, and all that stands in my way is 9 more hours on an Amtrak train.  The club is relatively close to Duke University, but Belle Knox and the Duke Lacrosse team have yet to respond to my Facebook invite to the show.  And as a Utah Jazz fan I plan on having lunch with Jabari Parker and selling him on the virtue of playing for the Utah Jazz, where, despite being very talented and Mormon he will still play second fiddle to Gordon Hayward in the hearts of Jazz fans (to quote Clayton Bigsby… “WHITE POWER!”).  But I am burying the lead right now.  Because for the 7 hours after I complete this blog I will be reviewing legal documents for a thing called (this may be an unfamiliar term to most mid-level comedians) money.  After a half a decade of living off of savings, comedy work and NYC subway break dancing I have gone back to using my law degree for money.  It’s like the exact opposite of Hustle and Flow with Terrence Howard – I am using legitimate money to help fund a career that makes me feel like a prostitute in the back of a Cadillac in Memphis.


There is a silver lining to this that I did not understand for a while.  Needing money is an incredibly stressful feeling (huge revelation here, I know).  I rank it somewhere between having a gun pointed at your face and getting a false positive on an HIV test.  It makes you more irritable,  more tense and more uncomfortable with just about everything.  During my first stint as an attorney I worked for the government, but lived at home to pay off my student loans, so it was like I was making double what I was making because I had such little overhead.  Then I went into private practice and was literally able to buy whatever I wanted/needed (I have fairly modest tastes) and was still saving money.   I never even thought about money for those years.

So once I was laid off in 2009, along with lots of lawyers and other people in that time frame, I had so much money saved and a fire in my belly to be a full time comedian that I made the decision not to pursue any more legal work.  So after changing my occupation on Facebook (though it is customary to call yourself a comedian on Facebook after your 8th open mic, I opted until it was my main source of income), I went about booking as many gigs as I could and auditioning at as many clubs as I could.  I started to get a decent amount of road work and from 2009 to 2012 I got more bookings each year than the year before.  In late 2011 I started doing some part time work just to provide some steady income, but the trajectory seemed to validate my choice to go full time: I was getting more work and more money each year from comedy.

And then in 2012, I had a steep decline in work.  Perhaps it was because I was no longer a fresh face or any number of other criteria, but I had at least 1/3 fewer gigs than the year before.  Coming off of a tough 2012 I made a commitment in 2013 to double down on comedy, to invest what I had into my comedy and to go balls out.  That started with blogs I had been writing, but went to the next level with many of the YouTube videos I made in 2013 up to the present.  They gained me more fans (and infamy) than even my performance on The Late Late Show had, but led to no increase in income.   So after feeling like I had doubled down on my comedy career at least 4 or 5 times I talked to a few lawyer friends of mine and decided to start doing document review work.

To put it in perspective readers of this blog can understand, going back to working a day job in the law is like living Breaking Bad in reverse. Sure comedy is killing me, but the autonomy and thrill of creating and being your own boss is powerful.  Going back to the day job world in earnest feels the same as watching Walter White if he had gone back to teaching high school chemistry in the finale.


Now I understand this cannot be unique to me, as there are aspiring writers, actors, etc that do this kind of legal work.  But as I try to do a good job there is little time to write during the day (hence why the blog has dwindled to one a week and the movie reviews have ceased to exist) and little energy to go to mics at night.  That is because when I had an every day day job I was conditioned and had the energy (and desire) to hit mics at the end of the day.  Now, all I want to do is go home, eat dinner and sleep before waking up at 530 to go to the gym before work.

Now before you start thinking this is another depressing diatribe there is a big positive – money.  And not just for bill paying.  There is a satisfying feeling each week getting money. even if the work ranges from mildly interesting to mind numbing.  It is a weekly reminder that something you did had some value.  Working in comedy at my level feels like a lot of moral victories (and as I once said on stage a long time ago – you know what another word for a  moral victory is? A loss) and a lot of doing comedy “for the love of” comedy.  At least in the regular business world, your boss speaks with money. When you get paid that is your thank you. In comedy, it is the same way – if a club pays you, they consider you worth something. If they don’t pay you – they don’t.  But because comedy clubs traffic in the hopes and dreams of a lot of its talent, there is a grey area where the talent feels good about what they are doing so not getting paid is not as hurtful.  If I did 50 hours of legal work in a week and only got a Facebook like for it I would go postal.  But because getting laughs at a show is a good consolation prize  for unpaid work (or having your videos or blogs shared on popular sites) a lot of hostility is avoided.

The point of all this is for comedians with some heat or an itch to give it all you’ve got to your comedy career: don’t. Not yet anyway.  There is only one time you should leave your day job (because comedians often overlook or become numb to the benefits of a day job – forced socialization, a routine outside of your own head, steady income and therefor steady reinforcement that you have contributed something tangible to the world) – when you have to.  When opportunities are coming in that cannot be missed  and that a job is actually in the way of, then you should quit.  I would not even put a dollar amount on savings you should have. I had an amount that I was certain would carry me until I “made it.”  And it did not.  But the other key thing to not leaving a regular job is that your are conditioning yourself well.  If you can keep a day job, write on your lunch hour and hit at least one mic a night then you are doing something more difficult than full time comedy.   Because as I am learning, it is tougher to adjust your comedy career when you need to go back to a day job after a long hiatus (especially when the relief of making solid money feels equal to or better than the relief of getting to perform on stage after a long day of work).  I am not unique to this I am sure, but had I just kept myself in the legal world for the last five years I am sure not much would have changed in my comedy career.  I would have had fewer road gigs (which are great for the ego, but not particularly useful in advancing your comedy career in a macro way in today’s comedy world), but nothing else would have changed for the worse.  On the plus side, money would not have been an issue which would have a positive effect.  I have always had a competitive streak in me, so I don’t want to act like seeing some people succeed in comedy with questionable talent would not irk me, but when you are also trying to sustain yourself off of comedy money, slights start to feel personal and not just professional (even if that is just subjective).  As an example – look at what happened to Ice Cube once he became rich – he talked about hating cops and killing people and two decades later he is making family movies and being a buffoon in beer commercials.  Now imagine the opposite and you have my comedy career.

My apologies if this was long winded, but if I am going to give advice to new or up and coming comedians, ignore the people you see on Facebook having huge success. Congratulate them, even admire them, but do not model yourself on them. They are lottery ticket winners on some level, either talent, hard work, look, connections, etc.  Maybe it’s just one, but probably a combination of several factors that got them where they are and chances are you do not have the combination that they have.   The longer you can put off making a career of comedy, the better off you will be.  Keep it as your creative and emotional outlet.  Work and hope that you get to a place where comedy clubs want or need you. Because when you are at a point where you need the comedy work you very well might be on the wrong path.  I do not know if this sounds overly cautious to people, but comedy is a perfect microcosm for the American economy (maybe I will just write this into book or script form). There are lots of opportunities for low income workers (bar shows, local emcees, guest spots) and lots of wealth for the elite (national headliners) – but the people in the middle are working harder for less.  If you want to roll the dice and try to be one of the elites, be my guest. but the smart move, even for the talented people out there who have not “made it,” is to try to be as comfortable in the middle as you can be, lest you become one of the people on the bottom.

Of course, for me, the idea that I will not need comedy for money  may just be more freeing to me artistically (if that is possible at this point).  A year ago I decided that the comedy business was not giving me what I felt I deserved and I had my best year on several metrics (web traffic, YouTube hits, podcast downloads and yes… comedy income). So if being annoyed in 2013 gave me a good year, perhaps not giving a sh*t at all will yield a great year in 2014.  Either way my bills will be paid.  Time to review these documents.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!


Weekend Comedy Recap: See Something, Say Something, Laugh at…

This weekend I was in Timonium, Maryland performing at Magooby’s Comedy Club.  I had performed a couple of weekends at the club’s older space a few years ago, but had not been booked since.  But then I worked a weekend in Syracuse a couple of months ago with the brother of Magooby’s owner, killed it and got him to vouch for me to work Magooby’s (side note – this is why for the rest of the year I am putting together a “Working With Relatives of Comedy Club Owners” tour).  But like all my comedy recap stories, the comedy club is just one player in an ensemble of experiences over the course of three days.  So here it is:

On Friday I arrived in Baltimore and then proceeded another hour via light rail and bus to Cockeysville, Maryland where my hotel, The Ramada Limited, was situated.  The first thing that bothered me was that the place was listed as a hotel, but had the motel-esque feature of all rooms accessible from the street (the lobby was just its own kiosk and not an entryway for access to any of the rooms).  In addition to that was the fact that within 2 blocks of the Ramada Limited (the Limited stands for your chances of success in life if you have to stay there) there was a Chick Fil-A, a Five Guys, an IHOP and a Dunkin Donuts.  The message from Cockeysville was simple: if a drifter looking for a quick score doesn’t kick in your door and murder you, the food options will do it to you.

The first bad omen on the trip was when I checked in to the ho/motel I was sent to one room that had not been cleaned. I came back and was sent to another room. That one had not been cleaned either (I could see the dead hooker’s body through the window).  Finally I got a third room that was clean. #Blessed

I only stay in 5 star hotels, if you add up the five 1 star reviews they receive.


Friday night’s shows were interesting.  The first crowd was dead for the emcee.  Now sometimes I can see an emcee doing poorly and say either “crowd is not warm yet or the emcee sucks.”  But in this case there were some solid jokes that were not even registering with the crowd.  My set had some good laughs and plenty of almost inexplicable dead spots (like language barrier level dead spots).  Here is how I basically ended my first set:

“Well, this was fun, though it was more like a TED talk than a stand up set.”

Crowd – nothing

“Oh Christ, I did it again – you guys probably don’t know what a TED talk is!  Now my set is turning into an Inception of references you don’t get – like layers of things you have never heard of on top of each other.”

Crowd – nothing

“Oh, Inception. Sorry – this tiny movie that made like $300 million a couple of years ago.  I referenced two movies in this set – Avatar and Inception and you’d think I mentioned some obscure foreign film.” 

See a lot of politicians say things like “The American people are smarter than that…” to discredit opponent’s positions.  And many comedians focus on being likable or pandering.  To quote Danny Glover, “I’m getting too old for this sh*t.”  I understand if someone like Dennis Miller can throw people off with all his references, but if an analogy to Avatar or Inception in a joke doesn’t register (when it registers laughs 98% of the time) then yes, crowd, it is you.  So I will treat you with disdain and condescension (even more than usual).   I have never watched a TED talk, but I know what the fu*k they are!  As another example unrelated to my jokes, I have never watched Citizen Kane from start to finish, but I wouldn’t stare like a vegetable if someone made a broad reference to it.  But maybe the crowd was just tired from a long work week. Or stupid. Or both.

The second show went much better Friday and I sold a couple of CDs.  It was a hard earned split.


Saturday’s shows were both solid.  The first show was probably my favorite crowd. I celebrated with a couple of gin and tonics and a burger (important note for a later part of this story – the last thing I ate until 8pm Sunday was the burger at about 1030pm) and then Rob Maher and Joe Robinson of the Rob and Joe Show arrived at the club.  They run a very good podcast and we communicate often on social media, but it was good to hang out in person.  Of course I woke up today to see that I had fallen 10 spots on the Stitcher Comedy Podcast Rankings, which I think is directly attributable to my association with them this weekend.

3 podcasting legends in one place!

The second show was probably only the third best set of the week for me (nothing was going to be worse than the first Friday show unless someone shot me while on stage) but I felt like I ended the weekend with a 3-1 record.  However, the most eventful part of the weekend was just getting started…


I could not sleep well Saturday night. I was getting up at 8am anyway to begin my journey on the Maryland bus system to get to Baltimore Penn Station, but what should have been 6 hours of relatively satisfied sleep was about 2 hours of crappy sleep.  My stomach was feeling a little queasy so I decided to skip the “executive continental breakfast,” as the Ramada Limited called it, and went to the bus.

During the 80 total minutes I was on the different buses I started to get progressively more tired and queasy feeling, though travelling through several neighborhoods in Baltimore I could not help but smile thinking about The Wire because everyone had the physique and accent of Prop Joe (and half the characters on The Wire – either the white-ish Baltimore accent of saying words like “Coach” as “Cauch” or the one I heard much more common, the blacker Baltimore accent of saying words like “two” as “tseu” (I hope that is clear and if it is not, I blame you)).


By the time I reached Baltimore Penn Station I was sweating profusely and my stomach was reacting like I had just chugged a gallon of Mexican tap water.  As I result I ending up spending so much time in a Baltimore Penn Station bathroom I nearly qualified for adverse possession.  Feeling better and barely making a train I had been 50 minutes early for I sat down in my seat and started to feel a different kind of queasy coming on.  Not to mention the sweating got worse to the point that it might have been making fellow travelers uncomfortable.  I went to the snack car to have a water and a Gatorade and to get a little more space.  About 25 minutes into that I had the sudden urge to vomit. So I shuffled my way to the bathroom (by this time my back was hurting and all my muscles felt weak) and let forth a furious puke fest.  Now I was just left with back pain and a headache, but my stomach was much better.  I then went back to my seat to see someone sitting in it (to be fair it was a crowded train and I had been gone for an hour) and my backpack missing.  Turns out someone had seen a sweaty dude with thick eyebrows leave a backpack and told the conductor!  I could finally cross “be suspected of being a terrorist”  off of my bucket list.  To show how out of it I was, the conductor had walked right by me with my backpack – as it was at the table right next to where I had been semi-comatose in the cafe car.

So there it is folks – comedy, hostility, illness and terror threat – just another weekend in comedy.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free! 


Comedy Road Work: Fool’s Bronze

One of the things I hear from younger comics, the ones not afraid to speak to me, in conversation is the following: “I need to get on the road.”  A much more accurate derivation of this that I hear is “I want to get out on the road.”  That one word change makes all the difference and it took me several years of ongoing frustration to learn the difference.   Many comics want to get on the road – it is fun, you feel like you are earning your keep (travel, receiving a check, filling out a tax form – it almost feels like a job!) and you gain experience and stories.  But the idea of “needing” to get on the road is really nonsense.  Now, of course I am speaking to a majority of comedians, but excluding some: headliners and their personal opening acts, this does not apply to you.

As one of the last of a generation of comedians raised early on advice like “write… perform… repeat” as the key to becoming a good comedian (back then becoming a “good comedian” implied that the quality would render you a  “working comedian”). Internet and television opportunities may be plentiful, but with the industry prioritizing different metrics beyond (or above) the actual quality of stand-up comedy, working on your stand up act has never been more irrelevant to being a working comedian (better to be “decent” with additional factors in your favor, than just a great stand up). But the mythology surrounding road work still persists: the idea that working the road is necessary in light of tremendous evidence that it cannot help you build your career or your bank account.  I have said it many times before, but like America in general, stand up comedy is becoming a business where the middle class is being squeezed out. It is not financially viable for up and comers (without management or heat or other entertainment income) to work full time at their stand up so the only people incentivized to dedicate themselves to comedy are locals who are increasingly employed by penny pinching clubs (don’t cut the headliner’s $20,000 pay check; instead, cut the feature pay/value from $900 total dollars to $500) or headliners who continue to be more central to the club’s bottom line.

So why are comedians still drawn to the road? Ego. That is the main reason. It serves no real financial purpose. And no matter how many emails you collect as a feature act or a low level headliner, without a massive Internet or television presence (or industry/management backing willing to leverage their more famous clients to benefit your budding career – very common) you are not going to build the kind of fan base that will elevate you to the level you want or need (or by the time you collect 15 years of e-mails we will be on to the next tech thing you “must do” to advance.  But you feel like a real comedian on the road – if you are coming from NYC, LA or Chicago club audiences treat you like a D-list celebrity if they like you, drinks are cheap, laughs are plentiful and you might even sell some merchandise.  But at the end of the day, the dwindling quantity of road work that pays a decent week’s wage is not worth the ego boost.  And many of the clubs (not all, there are still some good managers and owners still treating their comedians like professionals) are nickel and diming comedians more and more so that it sometimes is not even worth missing a week of work back home.  Think of it this way, to be available to even do 20 weeks of road work in a year you cannot really have a full time job.  But to become great at stand up you need the freedom to work at least that much.  It is a real Catch 22 – if you have the time to work on your act you will almost likely get too poor to continue that lifestyle, but if you work a full time job to pay your bills your opportunities for stage time, road work and crafting longer sets will be greatly diminished.

And then there is my personal favorite that deserves a small note – the road booker’s “last minute replacement” list.

Several years ago I received a few bookings from a prominent club booker.  I did very well with the clubs I work, as evidenced by the unsolicited e-mail I received from the booker saying “I have heard great things about you. I am moving you up my list.” I assumed this meant I would receive more bookings. Since that e-mail I have not worked any of his rooms.  I did not realize that I was moved “up” from the “sometimes booked” to the “fu*k this guy” portion of his list.  I would think that would be a step down, but clearly I don’t get the industry.  But then I realized that I had actually been moved to the “last minute replacement” list for this booker, as well as another unrelated booker.  This list is the “Oh no someone cancelled and I need someone within 1-7 days.”  Now, obviously some of the people receiving these e-mails may be within driving distance to these clubs, but for many these e-mails come off as borderline insulting.  If you are paying me $600 and the flight I must now book costs $500, what is the incentive?  Or is this just a half-acknowledgement that the booker knows the desperate environment they have helped cultivate among comedians that someone will grab it just for the chance to ply their trade for a week?

Of course when I sent a professionally worded email to a booker concerning my lack of opportunities I was told by a third party that my email may have been received poorly (this was an inference, not direct knowledge). In other words, simply corresponding like a regular person may rub these fief lords the wrong way.   So my advice to young comedians would be to leave the road alone, no matter how tempting it is, unless you fall into small exceptions (and on a side note – if you are going to do festivals – treat them more like vacations to meet and talk with other comeidans – if you treat them like realistic opportunities for career advancement, odds are you will leave disappointed, or at least eventually become dissatisfied with them).  Everyone knows the “chicken or egg” dilemma, but what came first, the nickel and dime booker or the headliner who decided to bring their own feature?  Now I have seen some headliners bring their own feature, driven mostly by insecurity, but many others want someone who will work well with them personally and on stage. Totally understandable.  One would think this would be the job of the booker to coordinate good talent that has general chops and also works well with the headliner.  Some bookers take this responsibility seriously. Others don’t give a fu*k because booking good mid-level acts (both as individual performers and in coordination with headlining acts) takes giving a damn about comedy and not just the bottom line.

Comedy bookers (to reiterate, not all, but enough to shape the industry) have further driven a scab mentality into working comedians, so a union will never be possible (how do you form a union when the labor force is replete with scab-mentality workers?).  So I think my advice to up and coming comedians is to forego the road.  It will do nothing concrete for your career.  Now if you are working with a headliner and have a personal relationship that can drive you forward professionally then embrace it. Or are you someone with management and road middle work is just a truck stop on your way to headlining and more heat then ignore this as well.  But to everyone else, the road has nothing to offer you. Perhaps a decade ago it was fool’s gold, but the economics of stand up comedy now have rendered it fool’s bronze – not even worth the foolhardy chase on which you want to embark.  If you think me hypocritical for pursuing road work, understand that my carer has his an all-time high for notoriety, which is a good thing, and a credit to the products I have worked hard to put out, but also near a low point economically because of several of the factors I have included above, so any opportunity to make money from comedy is one I cannot pass up.  Is this where you want your career to be?  Pursuing any and all work, out of equal parts desire and necessity?  Play the long game, not the short game and your comedy career and life will be much better off.  In the age of Facebook and Twitter every comedian’s insecure need (or perhaps to show to fans and industry that they are working and relevant) to post messages of false humility and blatant braggadocio of the clubs they are going to work or have just worked can get any comedian seeking opportunities to feel jealous. That is the short game.  Remember – getting on the road in many cases now is not a necessity, but a desire.  Unless you fit into exceptions I have written steer clear of the temptation.

So my advice is to work locally on your act.  Work on your YouTube channel. Work on your Twitter account. If this sounds cynical, it is.  But it is also true.  I have reluctantly, but fully embraced this.  It is simply reality at this point.  I know that I will have to become a headliner for many of these clubs to employ me again, but my stand up skills are not a well known enough draw to make it happen (yet?).  Comedy works less like General Motors and more like Silicon Valley now.  So work on your act and comedy portfolio in a way that benefits you, because I assure you, many club owners’ agendas are in direct opposition to the advancement of your career and bank account. Don’t let them throw you scraps in the dumpster and act like they are feeding you dinner.

If this concerns any of you it should. It means there are fewer and fewer careers possible in stand up comedy.  But if you are willing to go for it – the way to do it is to either connect with connected people, or become a headliner – in talent or, more beneficial, in fame/reach.  So get cracking on all things that are not stand up comedy if you want to be a working stand up comedian.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free! COMING THIS WEEK – WHO SHOULD REPLACE DAVID LETTERMAN. 

Stand Up Comedy

The Silent Majority of Comedy (I hope)

There is a saying in stand-up comedy, “it takes ten years to find your voice.” I don’t know who invented this saying. Perhaps it was a club owner running bringer shows wanting to postpone frustrations of the semi-slave labor being manipulated with tapes and compliments. Perhaps it was a well-meaning veteran comedian trying to encourage a frustrated, younger comedian. Or maybe it is just true.  After all I feel like around 5 years in is when my comedy started to shift to the more personal and opinionated and around 8 years in when it merged with my sense of frustration and injustice with the way the comedy business worked, both as a business and as an art.  After all, it may take 10 years to find your voice, but from half of the casting and showcase lists you see from major comedy players, it can sometimes appear that you find your manager and your opportunity after your first pubic or facial hair sprouts, “voice” development be damned.  But in my 10th year is when all the things I had been writing, performing and producing hit a new stride and grew my audience.   So now I have, for better or worse, carved out a niche in the business through my videos, podcasts, blogs and stand up as sort of a guy who at best, offers funny and unflinching shots at anything I see wrong, even if it is with the business that I am trying to succeed in, or, at worst, is committing career suicide for his peers’ enjoyment.

What has perplexed me is that on a weekly basis I get messages, e-mails and texts from fellow comedians, many of who are friends or at least people with whom I am friendly, pointing me in the direction of some comedy news/blog/practice/etc or something they at least think will anger me into producing new content making their argument for them.  I don’t mind it, and am certainly not calling out any friend or acquaintance in particular.  But I have gotten suggestions for podcasts, blogs and videos from numerous people over the last few months and the question I want to ask is “You are a comedian, why don’t you do something with it?”

Some of the examples that come to mind include a blog last year, made as humorous and as complimentary as I could about an experience I had at a club (fun club, great staff) where the condo was infested with roaches in a pretty shitty building.  And the blog may have gotten me banned at that club.   But since then I have had private communications with several comedians about those accommodations and how terrible it was and other comedians cancelling gigs there.  But I am on the hook as the person who made a public stink of conditions that the department of health would take issue with, let alone hard working entertainers.  When the comedy business (or just a comedy business) treats performers poorly they should be ashamed and crawl into hiding, not the comedian who has a legitimate gripe about maltreatment.  And my post was only meant to be my personal humorous experience, until I heard at least a dozen comedians describe a similar experience.

There was Comedy Academy, my web series, which has passed 26,000 views total in a month and the most private messages of congratulations I have received in the last year but, per video, the fewest public shares on social media of all my videos, in the last year.  The people who were most likely to share the videos were people at the lower rung of comedy or people located in the untouchable upper rung of comedy, like Adam Carolla and Sebastian Maniscalco.  And while I deeply appreciate every share and post, I was disappointed by the fact that more of the videos were not shared.  It reminds me of how so many lower class and middle class Republicans in America vote against their interest.  They believe the American Dream so hard they ignore things right in front of their face.  Similarly, in comedy whether it be manipulation, poor payment (forget $5 spots at UCB when features on the road are getting paid the same (or less when you factor in the disappearance of paid-for lodging on the road at many places) as comedians 25 years ago, or just calling out bullshit professionally or artistically, so many up and comers are about “playing the game,” which most of them cannot win.  Just like the economic ladder in America, the comedic ladder, towards a career in comedy, especially stand-up is more difficult than ever.

Then there was my Facebook post about the Laughing Devil in Long Island City being booked by the people at The Stand.  People were nervous about what that post implicated because it looked like a shot at The Stand, which is the rising challenger in the NYC club scene with great buzz.  But what I was actually questioning, which was missed by most people who were afraid I was taking a shot at The Stand, was why did a cozy club in Long Island City, which was providing paid spots to comics like me, that are not getting them elsewhere in the city (it was nice to have a club not directly tied to talent management in the way some of the bigger clubs in NYC are) and free spots to comics that were not getting many elsewhere in NYC, switch booking practices… and not tell their roster of comics?  I know this because I was fortunate to at least be on the list for avails that The Stand sent out, but I know several people who were only on the Laughing Devil roster who knew nothing about a change and just assumed they needed to submit more avails for spots.  I don’t know why the change was made to different bookings on weekends because the last three weekend shows I did at the Laughing Devil were all packed, but that was a business deal/transaction to which I am not privy.  I feel like it is going to eventually become The Stand East (I don’t actually know that, but as an up and coming neighborhood with a built in audience it would make sense to get a foothold in it, especially since it was close to being sold last year) and can now be a workout room for spillover from The Stand’s roster.  Why am I saying all this?  Because clubs and comics like to speak of “community””, but unless I am completely off base this flies in the face of that.  And yes, having recorded an album and my biggest YouTube video at that club I feel particularly annoyed by the change, but that is business.  But individual comedy club ownership is a small business and should treat their comedians like part of a small business, not like a cog at Wal-Mart.

My point with a few of these examples is that if comedians are only speaking up or being bold about the business or art of stand up when they have the cover of industry or fame or are taking generally accepted “bold stance”” topics within the comedy world (like scoring tried and true points attacking conservative politics as an example), then how can it actually stand for anything anymore?  If everyone in stand up spoke out on bullsh*t, demanded more equitable treatment on the road (why does $200-$300 have to come out of the feature worker, when you can afford to pay a headliner anywhere from $2-$20K per week?  It is the same “job creator” argument we hear in politics, except in this case it is the “seat fillers.”  Will your audience stop coming if every food item is raised 25-50 cents to pay a decent week’s wage and accommodation to a hard working middle class (literally) comedian?

These are just some of the things I try to attack with serious writing, but also with humorous personal stories (self-deprecating to depressing) and funny sketches.  I guess I should be thankful that not many people, if any, take this sort of approach to the comedy business because it has allowed my name and reputation to rise slightly higher than where my actual career is right now financially.  But it also makes me wonder what happened that comedy because so full of cowards or at least people too afraid of repercussions for doing or saying the right thing (honesty is the right thing and what I believed was the hallmark of comedy versus other arts with more sullied reputations in the popular culture).  This is what confuses me above all: if comedians don’t treat stand up as a profession and an art on its own (and not just a pit stop on their way to television deals) then how can the industry possibly do better.  As philosopher Katt Williams once said (and he could have been making a decent defense for the comedy industry), “How can I ruin your self-esteem? It’s esteem of yo muthafuckin self!”  I think there is a lot of shabbiness by the industry, but there seems to be little push back or standing up for oneself in the comedy world (UCB “controversy” aside, which still led to no pay).  I want to believe that there could be a strike or a union or improved work for comedians, especially on the road, but comedians are almost conditioned at this point to think and act like desperate scabs – so how do unionize workers when the work force already consists of scab mentality?

Just under a year ago, when I made my Louis CK Tells The Classics video I remember one of the very first YouTube comments I got was “This would have been funny if you were making fun of Dane Cook, but not Louis.”  And I feel like that all the time in comedy now.  Like there is an acceptable way to question or challenge things in comedy.  I don’t think there is, as long as it is either valid or funny.  Or ideally, both.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!


Road Comedy Recap: Mohegan Sun Casino – Always Bet…

This past weekend I was performing at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, PA (normally I post my comedy recaps on Monday, but had to bump up this week’s Oscar recap podcast to Monday).  I always love doing casino gigs. Not because they are always great crowds, but because even the weirdest, crappiest (pun intended), in the middle of nowhere casino still has a standard level of accommodations that shame almost all other road comedy accommodations.  It is a sliding scale of trade offs that comedians often have to do: Hey this club is great (no room); hey this club is really good (semen stained comedy condo accommodations); hey this club sucks! (can’t wait to be back because you put me up in a Hampton Inn and I am desperate for money). But casinos are always a win, no matter how good or bad the crowds are (the crowds were solid at MSWB, so this is not a tease to some nightmare story from the weekend).  So here is the recap:

The Bus

I took the Martz Trailways bus to Wilkes-Barre.  Always a good sign when Greyhound tells a town, “No, we are either to scared to travel to your town or your town is too insignificant for Greyhound to service.”  The bus trip was uneventful, but the Martz Trailways bus depot in Wilkes-Barre was anything but uneventful.  It made the average crowd at NYC’s Port Authority Bus Terminal  look like the cast of Downton Abbey.  It looked like the people from The Hills Have Eyes had had an orgy of unprotected sex a few decades ago with the zombies from The Walking Dead.  The kind of sad that makes you feel sorry for some of the people if you were not also simultaneously frightened.

The Casino

The casino was really really nice (other than the stream of tobacco entering my lungs).  All the accommodations were great, the buffet was delicious (though I did flaunt my comedy wealth by eating at Johnny Rockets one night), but rather than tell you here are some pics of some of the highlights:

My TV at the Mohegan Sun heard I was on my way.


No more paper signs for Mohegan Sun! Now room service can ignore an electronic do not disturb signal.


The diner next to the casino was delicious. And made for people 6'3" and shorter.


When you sell 2 CDs the night before what else do you do besides spend that money immediately on room service breakfast?

The Shows

The first show on Friday was solid. Sold zero CDs, but delivered at least 40 firm handshakes after the show.  I was still feeling the effects of a cold and was a little lower energy than normal, but I still, like any veteran entertainer, blame the crowd for me not selling well.  Crowd was good though.  The second show (Saturday) though was a full house (450 versus show #1’s 150) and was great.  Other than the woman who kept muttering possible hate speech about President Obama before I did my impression they were a great crowd, as evidenced by the two CDs I sold after the show. That is an increase of INFINITE percent over the zero I sold on show 1.  Then I was paid cash by the club and managed to walk by all the tables without losing any of the money before leaving the casino the next morning. #Hero

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!