Blog

The Cleveland Show

Important statistics from this week:

  • 1 show at the Cleveland Improv- 15 minute set
  • 24 hours on Amtrak to and from Cleveland, Ohio within a 51 hour span
  • 1 cold/flu obtained
  • 700 page book on basketball read
Hello Cleveland.
Hello Cleveland.

On Tuesday I set off on Amtrak for Cleveland, Ohio to do a set at the Cleveland Improv.  It was a 3:45 train, which was scheduled to arrive in Cleveland in a manageable 11 hours, 42 minutes.   I really like the train.  Anything under 12 hours I consider enjoyable.  It has an old school charm, in a way, but instead of travelling the rails with people who look and dress like Don and Betty Draper, it now really just consists of people who cannot fit in airplane seats (the morbidly obese and in my case, the semi-freakishly tall) and those that want to avoid TSA for profiling and legal status related issues.

Couldn't afford two seats on Southwest.
Couldn't afford two seats on Southwest.

On the train ride to Cleveland I managed to write the next brilliant, but under-viewed and underappreciated JLCauvin.com sketch and read 300 pages in Bill Simmons’ The Book of Basketball.  About half way through the trip I felt the symptoms of a cold coming on, which I blame half on my Atlantic City drinking binge/sleep deprivation last weekend that may have left me susceptible to illness, and the health industry’s biggest customers that I was entombed with on Amtrak.

I arrived at the Doubletree in downtown Cleveland at 4:10 am.  I fear that one day my nomadic travel schedule and odd hours, along with my menacing frame, will lead me to be the chief suspect in some disappearance/serial killer case.  “The last I saw Mary Jo she was coming back from the bar around 3 am.  To think of it I did see a rather large, rather unhappy looking man around 4 am that same night.” NY Post headline the next day: Comic Kills!

He had the same lifestyle as a comedian.
He had the same lifestyle as a comedian.

The next day I hung out most of the day at The Cleveland Improv (extremely nice club) and at the Rock Bottom restaurant above (I am sensing a message from above since I keep ending up in that restaurant chain in different cities). 

The show that night was an open mic night where local comics are given 4 minutes each and a few visiting comics are given longer sets to audition for emcee and feature work.  4 minutes may not seem like a long time, but the good news is the club does not make it a bringer for the young comics, so unlike other places, dreams are not manipulated and raped by club owners.  Not to mention that the booker of the Cleveland Improv has without question the best track record in returning phone calls and e-mails of any club with which I have dealt.  But it’s like Sinatra said about NY, “If you can, duh duh, make it there, then you are probably with the right booking agency or sucking the right di-k.”

For my set I got to follow an older comedian with Cancer who is undergoing chemo.  In one of my best off the cuff comments of my career so far the first thing I said on stage (with a well timed sniffle) was: “Well, I though I might get some slack from you guys because I have a pretty bad cold, but I guess that excuse is fu-ked now.”

I went through my set doing quite well until about the 11 minute mark.  Then 2 of my last 3 bits (including the Mariano Rivera of my set – Obama impression) fell flat.  There were three forces at work that I believed caused this: the checks were getting dropped on tables, my voice was dying on me and as the booker told me, Midwest crowds are slower, belly laughers (this last one may be the greatest euphemism of all time).  Overall it went well and I think it was worth the trip.  At least the trip going.

The trip coming back (a 5:20 am Amtrak the next morning, arriving at 6:25 pm in NYC) was like being Joel McHale’s character on Community.  I don’t like to pick on special needs folk, but about three seats back from me was a man by himself who literally spoke for about 4 hours with very little break to an elderly couple who were sort of being polite.  The main problem was that, as if some sort of stereotype from a Carlos Mencia bit, he just kept shouting out things like, “I like the train more than flying,” followed quickly by non sequiturs that expressed interest or joy in something.

The stars of the trip were not that guy, but the crazy (literally) guy who kept walking from the cafe car and back talking to himself and the woman who sat in front of me and kept having incredibly loud cell phone conversations.  Here was my tally of phrases she used and how many times she used them on the train:

  • “You know what I’m sayin” – 1,187
  • “He think he can play me but I’m playin’ him” – 66
  • “Sorry, but she caught me on the phone and I was like ‘I need to go'” – only 1 time, but this is funny how she was blaming her her other friend for keeping her on the phone, even though it appeared that her friend said almost nothing.

So I can tell you when I need to go back to Cleveland for more extensive work I am definitely going to upgrade and take Greyhound. 

Fu-k!
Fu-k!
Blog

Stuff I’ve Been Watching

In keeping with today’s cultural trend I will provide some random and short quips today on television (I have been watching more because the book I am reading on Robert Oppenheimer is sort of heavy – side note – is it possible that if Mel Gibson were sober he might have meant to say “Jews End All The Wars” – based on how many were involved with creating the Atomic Bomb?):

I have seen documentaries on Rwandan genocide that made me laugh more than the debut of Saturday Night Live.  Lorne Michaels needs more black friends because maybe he is looking for their permission to fire Keenan Thompson.  That guy has taken more jobs from deserving black people than segregation and Jim Crow.

Fred Armisen does such a bad Obama impression that Secret Service should arrest him.

Did Lorne Michaels know that these men were ruining comedy and if so, when did he know it?
Did Lorne Michaels know that these men were ruining comedy and if so, when did he know it?

Bill Hader of SNL is extremely funny.  His Kieth Morrison alone almost makes watching SNL worth it.

Friday Night Lights is a great show (re-joined Netflix to catch up on some shows that I have heard are great – Breaking Bad is on the list).  So of course it has terrible ratings.   it is odd to me that a show featuring good looking young people and football could not be a success.  It is as if America is collectively saying – give us shallow things, but don’t you dare deliver them to us in anything that could be called high quality.

If Modern Family can keep up the pace from its pilot then it will be the best comedy on television not named Eastbound & Down.

I watched a 5 part mini series on Sundance called Brick City, on Corey Booker and his attempt to change Newark, NJ.  I am now working on a Corey Booker impression and once I have perfected it one of two things will happen: Corey Booker will not get re-elected and will fade into obscurity, or he will gain an even higher national profile and then Fred Armisen will do an impression of Corey Booker that is so bad, it will make his Obama look good.

Part 2 of my comedy tour entitled: Impersonating Light Skinned and/or Half Black Politicians. that's right Harold Ford Jr - you're next!
Part 2 of my comedy tour entitled: Impersonating Light Skinned and/or Half Black Politicians. that's right Harold Ford Jr - you're next!

The Cleveland Show was not good.

Family Guy premier was great.

Glee started strong, but I think it will fade, only bolstered by religious-like support from women and gays.

Cougar Town – see Glee, but eliminate the started strong part.  And the term Cougar is really just a brilliant re-branding of “she’s kind of old, but yeah, I’d probably fu-k her?”

I have only seen 4 episodes of Jay Leno’s show, but only Jim Norton stood out to me as exceptional.

Bored To Death, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm provide a nice HBO Sunday night.

At 4 pm, if not at the gym or sitting at my desk staring at the wall, I prefer Ellen to Oprah.

On Saturday will be the 2 year anniversary of my appearance on Craig Ferguson (my national television debut).  Since then, based on travel expenses, web expenses and gigs I have made about -$450 dollars from comedy.   My comedy career feels like the final third of a Behind The Music special; the downfall part, but without the awesome rise and hedonism that precedes it.

Voice of Behind The Music narrator: October 3, 2007 seemed like comedy was working out, but little did J-L know that was all about to change.  Next after commercial.
Voice of Behind The Music narrator: October 3, 2007 seemed like comedy was working out, but little did J-L know that was all about to change. Next after commercial.