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Defund The Comedy Police

Growing up my favorite priest at my local Church was Father Murphy.  Father Murphy was a pretty hard-lined priest, but he was also a riveting speaker and someone that made me feel prouder to be Catholic after one of his homilies.  I have often told people the feeling I got from his speaking must have been akin to the feeling than some get from lives in military service (a life style as difficult for me to imagine for myself as it might be for an atheist reading this to associate with being a Catholic) – a call to sacrifice and to make personal decisions for a greater good.  Though I am sure Father Murphy was/is a political conservative, he never made me think in political terms. Rather, he amplified the value and righteousness of my personal life decisions.

The reason I bring that up is that beyond Church, the other thing in my life that has given me the same sense of purposefulness has been stand up comedy.  I do not beat my chest and try to use “I am a comedian and therefore a First Amendment hero,” but I have found stand up comedy a sanctuary to express and/or escape some of the worst things in my mind and in my life.  And in return for that I have tried to not censor myself when I believe in material, never steal material and always put humor as the primary point (though not ignoring the meaning and power of words, I do not want to be a comedian that ever pursues “clapter,” something I have seen on both sides of the political aisle in comedy – more to come on that later – at the cost of laughter). This is my way of respecting the freedom that stand up comedy has given me.  So for most of my career I tried to produce stand up comedy and videos at a headliner pace while only operating on a funny first, consequences second standard and adhering to that.  In keeping with an overall honest approach, I also spent a lot of spare time in my career critiquing and calling out bad business practices in stand up, highlighting comedy I thought was overrated and seething over comedians who seemed to always forget the good fortune in their self-proclaimed Horatio Alger tales of comedy success (these were the blogs, not the material on stage or in videos). These did not help me advance I am sure, but I have always embraced an all encompassing honesty when it comes to comedy – with the freedom to do comedy comes a responsibility to be honest about it, if that makes sense.  Probably stupid, but quixotically consistent.

But the one thing I never did was declare some comedy “not allowed.”  I might not like it, but I never believed in limiting comedians’ ability to take risks and fail.  The only time I ever did that was when Michael Richards went on a tirade of N words directed at Black audience members.  Although it took place on a comedy stage it was about as artistic as John Wilkes Booth shooting Lincoln at a theater.  But other than that I have taken a very broad – “if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it/watch it” stance on stand up and comedy in general.  Not to say you cannot have an opinion, but the bar for “cancelling” in comedy for me is skyscraper high. I know it is a cliche by now, but stand up is worked out in public – the art needs people to fail to advance.  And to be completely honest, I often hate when I see comedians being provocative for the sake of being provocative and then hiding behind this same rationale, but perhaps that is the price we have to pay to have stand up. The same way free speech protects hate speech, comedy speech protects provocative-for-the-sake-of-being-provocative speech.

I should also point out that as the Internet has expanded money making opportunities for comedians it has also expanded the viewership and listenership far beyond the comedy club attending audience.  I have scolded comedians for not expecting that thorn to accompany their rose of booming profits.  And on this point I may be somewhat hypocritical because recently as my social media following has blossomed so have condemnations of some of my jokes.  And I hate it.

It feels like there are two types of Progressive comedy fans. The type that leave a $10 tip in the tip jar and walk out and the type that wait 20 extra minutes until someone sees them put their $10 in the tip jar and then walk out (OK, there are definitely more than just these two but go with it for the analogy).  The thing they are doing is good, but for the latter the real reward is being recognized for doing the right thing.  It feels that way with some of the people who have become my fans on Twitter.  They like that I am making fun of the President, but do not like it when any group that is not rich, white, powerful men get mocked. As I have joked before, as a 6’7″ genius I really have no choice but to punch down with my humor.  But the reflexive push back from people is absurd. Take this recent tweet:

Many people informed me that I should take this tweet down and that fat shaming was wrong.  I told several of them that their comedy opinions were so misinformed that they should definitely not be trusted on what is good comedy.  And I wrote this joke with the intention of avoiding controversy – my rule is, if I could sell it to Jay Leno then it is probably harmless.  And yet the trigger words came out and told me that it was mean and not funny.  In other words, any mention of Lane Bryant in a joke violates some newly created rule of comedy. Here is another that got people upset:

Many people were offended by this one.  I had seen these four mayors on CNN together and thought, wow those names all sound like they belong in a superhero movie or a porn parody of a superhero movie.  All of the women are Black, but other than the name Keisha, in a color blind guessing game, I would have guessed that London Breed was the white daughter of a hipster celebrity couple in Brooklyn, that Lori Lightfoot was a white woman and possibly in an upcoming sequel to The Incredibles and that Muriel Bowser was the grandmother of the Mario Brothers character.  And if Keisha Lance Bottoms were Ken Lance Bottoms then I would have been only the 40,000th comedian to reference porn.  But the Twitter comedy police were not having it.  I was informed that mocking the names of Black women is a harmful stereotype and that I said porn because they were all women.  Others gave me the “jeesh maybe this would sound better at a club, but not here” type comments.

Perhaps it is because I am half-Black, or more likely because I am not an insecure person trying to constantly prove their racial awareness bona fides, but if these jokes are not OK then what these heroes without a cause are really saying is that “certain topics cannot be talked about ever.”  Another good example from one of my last live shows in 2019 – I did a joke about all the white, male serial killers getting documentaries and I asked “it’s 2019 – are there no serial killers of color?  No trans serial killers?”  A woman came up to me after the show very complimentary but told me “trans people have it very hard and I think you should leave them out.”  It was as if she thought trans people were the subject of the joke, when actually the subject of the joke were people who come up to comedians after shows and tell them that the mere mention of trans people should be off limits.  For the sake of being consistent, I know these are criticisms and I said that criticism is OK, but laced along these criticisms is a desire to wall off certain topics to make it easier to appear more righteous, when it is really just cowardice and laziness.

Perhaps I am overly sensitive and after all this is only Twitter, but right now YouTube and Twitter are the only two ways for me to really perform.  In 2018 I listened to The New Yorker podcast proclaim that Hannah Gadsby, a month before Nanette aired, would change comedy (I now know this was probably as much the input of a publicist as it was the opinion of The New Yorker podcast host). In my head I thought “what does The New Yorker (a magazine I like to read, but not take stand up cues from) know about comedy?”  And then they were right!  And I wondered – is this an aberration or a trend?  Is The New Yorker the new stand uptaste maker?

This year I have seen things I never thought possible in comedy, one of which is my relative success.  But I have also seen politically motivated, left wing social media dictate comedy in those spaces.  I am no doubt a beneficiary of that, but what has alarmed me is how humorless (and entitled) many of these people appear to be when the comedy (and comedian) does not align perfectly with their personal and political aspirations.  People who have accused me of comedy theft clearly are ignorant and may have never attended a comedy club, but I cannot dismiss them entirely because this is the platform we have for the foreseeable future.  I do my best to post other jokes (see above for sources of criticism) and encourage folks to check out my vast library of videos and albums that are neither political, nor Trump related in an effort to cultivate the portion of my fan base that likes stand up comedy.  But the the desire is far less for that work.  On top of that, for too many “comedy fans” on social media, their support becomes about affirming themselves.  I told someone recently that my comedy can make some progressives laugh, but I don’t make progressives feel good about themselves, which appears to be the ultimate aim for many of them.  And I could ignore them because they won’t ever go to a show of mine anyway (if those ever happen again).  But when they start assessing me as a person or telling me what to do with jokes (“take this down now!” “This is wrong!” “No!” “I thought you were funny but now I see you are an asshole!”) I would rather call them out and ask them to leave my virtual comedy club.  In fact, I don’t even think they like comedy. They like affirmation and wrapping it in comedy seems cooler or more fun, but when stripped of the “me” the rest of comedy is just Cody and they don’t know him.

As a quick example of why this is not just a one-sided issue, though it appears more prevalent on the left, I wrote this after attending a Dave Chappelle show a year ago. He did jokes on a 2015 or 2016 special on trans people that offended many.  In all honesty I thought they were hilarious. I am not saying they were not offensive, but they were also grounded completely in humor.  However, after the backlash he went through, in the show I saw live he decided to make a tortured metaphor between his usage of the N word and his usage of a homophobic slur. The response was not laughter because there was no joke. Instead there was head nodding and “clapter,” normally only found at a very progressive comedy show, but found in abundance at the Chappelle show I saw.  Chappelle is free to share his thoughts how he chooses and I simply didn’t like that bit, but the crowd’s reaction was sort of a mirror image of the cancel progressives. They were clapping at a crude analogy because it was affirming their desire to say the F word without condemnation, not because it was a great joke.  Is that so much different than someone wanting to cancel an artist for an offensive joke, no matter how funny?

Now, as I have navigated the last 4 months of my life and all of its successes and frustrations I have been given kindhearted advice from friends, associates and even a couple of celebrities to ignore haters, not comment on other people and keep my eye on the prize.  But right now the prize still just remains offering content from my apartment. And despite my writing, videos and impressions I am first and foremost a stand up comedian.  And no matter what level my career was at, I approached it in the funniest, but also most honest to myself way that I could. And if becoming successful as a comedian requires suppressing that which made me an excellent comedian then I must circle back to a quote from Father Murphy. When I was in high school he ended one of his homilies pondering, what if people who say religion and the Church are false are correct. And he said “If it is false, then damn it all.”

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A Bunch of Non Trump Stuff

The most frustrating thing of the last month or so has been constant accusations of stealing my impression of Donald Trump. For the record, I have been impersonating Donald Trump since 2015 and my current crop of Twitter videos were started March 11th of this year. On April 23rd comedian Sarah Cooper began posting her lip sync videos of Trump and to her credit, the world seems  to have redefined what the default assumption of what an impression is. Now instead of people being impressed with my impression many assume mine is also a lip sync (which is a compliment to its accuracy and plausibility, except when it comes with “stop stealing from Sarah” and the occasional, incorrect comment about my race, almost always from a progressive white woman, desperately guarding their new cyber connection to a black woman and viewing my work as an attack on her (once again – I was first, it’s an impression, not a lip sync and I am half-Haitian, half-Irish).  But to be fair a conservative sent me a private racist message because he thought I was Mexican.

I never understood why so many got money making opportunities off of Trump during his first term and I couldn’t, but to blow up on the strength of my impression and then have the very definition of impression changed on me is a level of #JLJinx I could not have seen coming.  But as a 17 year stand up comedian (June 2, 2003 being my first open mic), with hundreds of sketch and stand up videos, dozens of impressions and 8 albums (6 stand up and 2 as Trump) I would rather someone consume that content and then assess and compare what level of comedian I am.   So here are some albums, impressions and sketches that I think will make you a real fan of mine (though if you are reading my blog perhaps I am already preaching to the choir) because when Trump is done I want and need real comedy fans in my corner to have the career that has eluded me for 17 years.  The sooner I get out of the developing nation that is “Trump comedy” the better I think we will all be (but to be clear I am, or at least should be, the dictator running that nation 🙂 )

The Two Albums to Judge Me By: Keep My Enemies Closer (2013), Thots & Prayers (2018 – double album)

You can stream or buy these albums anywhere you listen to music.  They are my two best and I think each should have made me a headliner. Neither did, but the best way to judge if you want to come see me do stand up when the pandemic passes is to listen to these.  I have 6 in total and stand by all as quality works that also provide a sort of chronology of my life if you listen to them in order, but I know asking you to buy or listen to six stand up albums is probably a tall order (but feel free to do so).

The 10 Sketches of Mine That You Should Watch

These sketches are all written by me and feature me in some capacity, many as impressions. So watch, enjoy and share your favorite(s).

Biggie (2013) – a spoof on the Movie Big

Joel Osteen’s Early Sermon (2015)

Adam Carolla Show with Trump, Bernie and Matt Achity (2016) – my Carolla impression got me on the Adam Carolla Show as a repeat guest – the Trump was still in its infancy and many of you will not know that the Matt Achity is strong – Carolla Show fans the most likely to get this one to its core

This is Trump (2018) – my Trump centered parody of This Is Us (yes it is a Trump sketch, but more as a sample of parody writing of a popular show)

Ken Burns Comedy pt 1 (2015) – As a fan of Ken Burns’ documentaries I decided to do a 2 part series on stand up comedy as a send up of both comedy and Ken Burns.  Trumpet, JB Smoove and narration by me.

Booty (2011) – a send up of the Kardashian Craze

The Punisher at Home (Jon Bernthal) ep 1 (2018) – An impression a lot of people like from me, just need Bernthal to become a certified A-lister so I can capitalize

Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry Make a Movie Together (2014)

If Bad Boy TV Heroes Were Black (2014) – the most relevant sketch I made that sadly stays relevant

Tout Bagay: A Half-Haitian Comedy Saga (2018) – a sample of my stand up that tells about my upbringing. The main part is not on any album, but this should entice you to check out the albums I hope

So if you made it through some or all of this thank you and hopefully you will continue to check out my stand up albums and my many other videos.  When Trump is done there will be more and more content for you to still laugh at and hopefully fewer annoying comparisons and comments.

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Baltimore is Bush League – a Concert Road Recap…

This weekend I took my girlfriend to Baltimore.  If you are part of the racist cult known as MAGA, you might consider this a capital offense, but it was actually a nice weekend that I planned as part of her birthday before Donald Trump lashed out at the city and John Lewis (not to be confused with Jean-Louis, a half black civil rights icon). But I am willing to take coincidental progressive points for pumping tourist dollars into Charm City after Trump’s attack.  Having just shelled out a lot of money for a move (and related expenses) next month to New Jersey I was tempted to tell my girlfriend that my birthday present to her was my freedom and the bulk of my checking account, but that might have come off a tad dickish, so when she saw a commercial for a Live/Bush concert and said “Oh I like Live!” (my response of “And I like Bush!” was not met well) I figured that might make for a good present.  Problem was the most convenient concert was in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, so I said to myself “Hey – a two day getaway near the harbor to see the concert, throw in an Orioles game, nice accommodations and the non-poor Amtrak (Accela) and you’ve got yourself a decent birthday present!” What would follow would be one of the most entertaining trip of my adult life. The sad news I have to report is that Trump may have been partly right about Baltimore… but for completely different reasons than he undoubtedly meant.

Friday – KKKountry Music Knight at Camden Yards and Possibly the Worst Cheesecake Factory in America

We took the noon Accela out of Penn Station and arrived at Baltimore Penn at about 2:30.  There was a line of cabs outside and as someone who appreciates organized labor and detests the libertarian driven gig-economy I hopped in to a yellow cab.  Interestingly enough a millenielle (female millennial (TM)) was telling a cab driver that she was ordering an Uber. This struck me as a decisive victory for apps, cell phone addiction and stupidity. The yellow cab was actually cheaper than an app and though clicking an app may be convenient – how is waiting 4 minutes for a more expensive ride more “convenient” than getting in the cab that is in front of you?

We arrived at our hotel – The Kimpton Monaco, which was a beautiful piece of shit (also how I have described multiple exes). It sounds like a hotel where James Bond would be meeting someone to exchange data files, but beneath the service it was a stunning mediocrity (how some of my exes probably describe me). I wanted to name the blog Kimpton Ain’t Easy, but did not after it got two eye rolls from my girlfriend. However, when we arrived we had not yet discovered any of the hotels flaws (it was listed as a 4.5/5 star property on Hotwire – the website for people who are willing to play Russian Roulette with their lives to save significantly on hotel rooms).

As the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a hotel by its elegant lobby”

After we checked in we headed out to a local restaurant I found through exhaustive research – The Cheesecake Factory.  The exterior of the Factory looked more like what a Cheesecake Factory would look like if described in a Bruce Springsteen song – the exterior looked like shit and the hostesses had the enthusiasm of women whose men folk had been laid off from the Cheesecake Textile Mill.  They said we had to wait 15 minutes and gave me a buzzer. Five minutes later the buzzer buzzed.  So like Pavlov’s dessert dog I headed to the hostess who then started to show a trio of people who just walked in (no buzzer) to a table after taking my buzzer. I followed, assuming she was taking us to our table (since we were first by 5 minutes and had a buzzer) and the other hostess, who had just seen me, a 6’7″, 290 lb dude in a purple shirt 5 minutes ago, said “Can I help you?” I then said, in my most Wahlbergian-Departed voice “Yeah, I’m the guy looking for cheesecake – you must be the other guy!”

When we sat down we waited for a while until our waiter, who I would describe as a gay man so stressed I assumed Barbara Streisand and Britney Spears had just died in a murder-suicide.  We never got the Brown Bread before the meal, our order was taken late and he genuinely made us anxious (not for us, but for him).  He also seemed unhappy I did not order the cheesecake he recommended.  Hopefully all is good with him now.

Then it was time for the Baltimore Orioles-Tampa Rays game at beautiful Camden Yards.  I was there in the mid-late 90s with my brother, but this was my first trip back since then.  It really is one of the great stadiums in all of sports.  The Orioles are an abomination though and the stadium was about 85% empty, making my isolated seats (which I eventually moved up from) all the more absurd:

Camden Yards features personalized sections for Oriole games

However, it was Country Music Night at Camden, so at least people who love country music and awful baseball would be in attendance. Now there were some black people at the stadium, but I did not realize until the 6th inning that it was White Culture night at the stadium. Players were still coming up to their walk up music, which included MAGA-approved blacks like Kanye, but all the stadium music was country and I kept thinking, “How far South is Baltimore?” But I really let out a laugh when during one inning break they played some country song that featured flat out rap, including the lyric “I’m a shot gun toter, Republican voter…” and I thought – that is classic new Republican – abuse an art form begun and dominated by black people and use it to praise anti-Black-adjacent politics (unless of course I missed the next lyric “With Grant and Lincoln I’m Three’s Company like Mr. Roper” and then have the audacity after each rap verse go back to pure country.  Truth be told I am all for a good mash-up, but hearing hip hop hijacked by guys who don’t seem like allies feels icky, to say the least.  I probably had the look like Will Ferrell in Old School when he realizes his wedding band is cursing as I listened to this song.

We then went back to the hotel after seeing the Orioles get worked (these kids sitting behind us were really into the game and left an inning before the Orioles hit a home run for their sole run of the game.  I guess he should have listen to Colt Ford’s hip hop country masterpiece above, in which he says “Quitters never win” (25% chance quitters is code for the N word).

Saturday – Aquarium, Bush v Live, White Trash and McCormick & Schmucks

Saturday was a packed day. Since it was a birthday trip I decided to spring for an overpriced hotel breakfast, figuring that anyone will the temerity to charge $20 for pancakes and bacon will make a decent set of pancakes. Nope!  Pancakes sucked!  It was like they were missing an ingredient.  After that we headed to the National Aquarium, which felt overpriced and was full of rude kids. Maybe it was because my parents instilled a healthy fear of adults in me as a child I was never one to challenge or be rude to adult strangers. But as my girlfriend and I were waiting in lines, parents would routinely tell their kids to hit whatever hole opened up in viewing spaces of various exhibits, as if we were just offensive linemen opening holes for their shitty kids.  I know it’s a small sample size, but on top of climate change, Trump and the Kardashians, parents who want to be cool will be the 4th horseman of the apocalypse.  Teaching your kids to say please, thank you and exhibit some amount of manners doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a good one.  I’m this close to pretending that I am a bulked up, just-out-of-prison Jared Fogle just to put some fearful respect into the hearts of these families!

After escaping the Aquarium we went to Pizzeria Uno for lunch (all the Baltimore hot spots) and it was the only meal we had all trip that featured good food and good service. Then it was time for some rest before the main purpose of the trip – Bush and Live.

When we left the hotel that evening we headed to McCormick and Schmicks – a good restaurant with abhorrent service.  The restaurant was about 80% full, but from the servers you would think they were feeding thousands.  The food was good for sure, but I think our waitress was actually a bar tender pressed into service.  Baltimore may be Charm City, but the service industry there appears to be second to all.

After McCormick’s we walked to the concert venue, which if Heaven has a trailer park I believe I saw it this weekend.  Let’s start with the Baltimore accent (not The Wire version, but the whiter version – which seems to sound like Philadelphia (already one of the worst accents out there) had a one night stand with a trailer park and had a baby). Then the tattoos – as I said on my 2012 album Too Big To Fail – it appears that once American manufacturing dried up and coincided with the rise of reality TV and MMA – America traded in identity and creativity for “expressing themselves” through permanent ink.  And I would guess that that at least 31% of the audience at the show had uploaded a video to YouPorn, which is the same percentage of the women present that I believed had had sex with non-front-men members of the two bands we were there to see.  And as two bonuses, the man in front of us during Bush had body odor so strong that the lady and I had to move elsewhere for Live. And during Live, we were standing behind what appeared to be a Throuple (that’s a term that means when a married couple has a third partner who has low self-esteem… unless they live in a wealthier zip code and they suddenly become “enlightened sexual beings”). The man looked like he just missed out on playing the husband on Escape at Dannemora and to be fair his wife was pretty good looking except for a paunch that signified “I am no longer the hot stuff I was in high school and as long as this ‘Associates 15’ I put on 20 years ago is still here there is enough insecurity to allow a goofy chick in to do the dirty work.”  But let’s talk about the music, shall we?

Bush was outstanding and even though Live is the billed headliner on this tour, it was clear that Bush was the more dynamic band with the

Gavin during Glycerine. He may have slept with all the wives of Live after his set

better hour and the better front man (despite not playing his single from the Richard Gere-Diane Lane romantic drama Nights in Rodanthe).  Gavin Rossdale was an A and so was Bush.  And I am pretty sure 4 women in their late 40s left pregnant after Bush’s set.  The bar was set high for Live and boy did they not meet it. That is not to say they were bad. They were very good and I would argue that the night’s closing song, Lightning Crashes, was the best song by either band, but the overall catalogue and energy of Bush and the presence of Rossdale (versus the “what if your uncle were a less cool version of Andre Aggasi of Live’s Ed Kowalczyk) made it a decisive victory. Plus, in their hour, Live did not one, but two covers. That’s a forfeit in my book.  I did plenty of people watching during this and noticed that almost every white man in Baltimore (or at least the white men who come into Maryland for Bush/Live concerts) walks with a mixed look of anger and insecurity (I guess that is the official look of MAGA). It’s a look like they just found out that their girlfriend is talking to her ex from high school by the porta-potty.

After the show, which was very enjoyable (and based on the hey day of both bands reminded me of my first workout mix tape), we went back to the hotel, arriving at 11:05pm. I asked the front desk if room service still delivered and he said no.  We then asked if they had vending machines. He said no, but offered the 7-11 three blocks away that we passed on because I believe it is a hotel’s responsibility to offer me overpriced snacks and food when it is 11pm on a Saturday.  So we went to bed having had as great a weekend as you can have when coupled with MAGA throuples and terrible overall service almost everywhere you go.

Our hotel room did come with a $9 bottle of “Fred” water

I am not saying Trump was right about Baltimore, but if by calling the city “filthy” he was referencing all the white trash and the menus at McCormick & Schmick’s I would be unable to refute him.  But you have to be an asshole to look at this and call it “disgusting”:

pre show, post dinner Baltimore inner harbor
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It’s Time for Jay Inslee to Start Name Checking

For anyone following me on social media for the last few months, my usual cycle of Utah Jazz support, entertainment snark and Trump bashing has been superseded by a daily campaign for Governor Jay Inslee for President.  I was supposed to attend a private fundraiser for Governor Inslee earlier this week, but given my usual luck it was not completely surprising that bad weather and a helicopter crash (!) in NYC led to a postponement of the event.  So I must resort to my blog and social media to get part two of my message out to Inslee and his staff.  Governor Inslee can no longer play the role of The Lorax in the 2020 campaign. He cannot play the Eco John the Baptist to whichever savior the Democratic primary voters eventually pick. He needs to get out of the 1% pack and to do so he must start naming names in the Democratic party.

As a quick recap I wrote this about and for Inslee in March and although it took a while he has started to employ some of these things (almost certainly by coincidence, but still).

  • He has started to distinguish himself a little bit from the also-rans with his climate change militancy
  • He has name checked Joe Biden (at the time that I wrote in March, Bernie was the front runner and Biden had not declared yet, but the logic is the same)
  • He has finally started to tout his stellar progressive credentials and accomplishments

At least some of these represent positive and smart steps, even if it took too long to start.  But now the Governor has a bigger problem. He is basically headlining the 1% field. His climate debate request has gotten him a little more press, but it has not been able to get him to break into the Biden-Bernie-Warren-Buttigieg-Harris 1st tier.  He has not even broken into the Booker-Beto-Klobuchar second tier. Oddly enough, when Seth Myers took a dig at Inslee’s relative anonymity I thought “at least they were mentioning him!”  It reminded me of the Jack Sparrow line, when told he was the worst pirate someone had ever heard of… “but you have heard of me.”

And to be clear, my money is where my blog is – I have given so much money to the Inslee campaign that my girlfriend may be starting to think Inslee is a chick from California that I am seeing on the side since some of that money “might be better spent on other things” as she waves her naked ring finger.  But the Governor is in real danger of being stuck in the 1% crowd permanently if he doesn’t take some drastic action. That is why he needs to start naming his opponents and not just offering a list of great accomplishments as a legislator and governor (that not enough people are hearing anyway).  Because right now, Inslee’s goal must be to get to 3-5%. And to do so he must start going after those above him.

But this is not necessarily a call for attacks and I don’t think from Inslee’s character he is looking to tear down fellow Democrats. Instead here examples of what he should do (in both an ad and in the debate at the end of the month):

  •  “I think Senator Warren has a great idea for paid family leave. That’s why I already implemented it as Governor.”
  • “I think Senator Booker has great ideas on criminal justice reform and gun control. I lost my seat in the House voting for the assault weapons ban and have commuted sentences/pardoned thousands of non-violent drug offenders as governor.”
  • “Beto has a cute climate change plan.” (Ok that’s just for me, but you get where I am going)
  • “Bernie is a passionate progressive, but my progressive record is second to none and I did it in signing bills and risking my seat in Congress, not just in debates and campaign rallies. My state has the highest minimum wage AND the highest GDP.”
  •  “Senator Warren has a good plan for college tuition, but I have done that in Washington as well. And as someone who had to leave Stanford after a year for financial reasons I understand this issue on a personal level.”
  • “Pete Buttigieg has a great future in this party and is an important voice going forward, but when we get Donald Trump out of office we need someone with the experience and the vision to tackle our probelems on day one. He may be a quick study, but I already know the book.”
  • “Joe Biden was a great VP under a great President, but Mitch McConnell needs to be dealt with as the SCOTUS thieving, Trump enabling, corrupt wife-having enemy to our Constitution that he is. WOOOOOO!” (sorry a Ric Flair exclamation seemed appropriate after all the rhyming).

I hope that makes my point clear.  Govenror Inslee is at the point where getting to 10 or 20% is something to worry about in the Fall. The immediate mission (for the survivial of his campaign and message) is to get to 5%. And to do that contrasts must be made by name.  Most of those are not attacks, especially the Booker and Warren comparisons – but they will make people wonder if maybe Governor Inslee is the best person to make ideas into laws.  The message must be “Yes I think climate change is the lens through which we must view most, if not all, issues, but before you brand me some tree hugging, one issue candidate, know that my record as a Congressman and a governor is a progressive powerhouse. Many of the candidates you support now are great people with great ideas. But I have spent the last 25 years turning great ideas into great laws. And when it comes to not just defeating Trump, but governing and leading a great new century of American hope and prosperity there is NO candidate more prepared on day one than me.”  They cannot attack Inslee on his record from the left and if the moderates of the party want a Biden – they should be looking at the younger guy with a sterling economic record as governor – where business AND workers have thrived.

Too many people think of Govenror Inslee as a one issue candidate and relegate him to the EPA under an administration of a candidate polling better.  That’s like saying Lebron James would make a great 6th man. Yes, it’s true, but the resume, the accomplishments and the experience demand a bigger spotlight and that starts, for Governor Inslee, by naming names and getting to 5%.

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The Case (and possible strategies) for Jay Inslee

In 2000 I cast my first Presidential vote for Al Gore.  I had been a big fan of Gore’s since middle school when I read Earth in the Balance and was happy to vote for someone who had the experience, intellect and foresight to confront the issues critical to the country’s present and future.  Obviously he sighed at a debate, lost the election and seems to have (understandably) lost his passion for politics. I have since voted for John Kerry, President Obama twice and Hillary Clinton.  But the candidate I am supporting for 2020 may be the most enthusiastic vote I’ll cast since popping my presidential voting cherry for Gore (though being the bi-racial son of a black immigrant man and a white American woman I did feel a personal affinity for then-candidate and President Obama). I am supporting Governor Jay Inslee of Washington and am hoping that he can start to gain some real national traction.  Here are some relevant facts about Governor Inslee for those who don’t know much about him:

  • Voted for the assault weapons ban in 1994, which cost him his first Congressional seat after one term
  • Returned to Congress in the late 1990s and voted against the repeal of Glass-Steagall – one of the key factors that precipitated the financial collapse of 2008
  • Has been a consistent voice regarding climate change for decades
  • Voted against the war in Iraq
  • As governor (currently serving his second term in Washington state) – signed first net neutrality law, declared a moratorium on the death penalty, introduced a state public option for health insurance in January 2019, and has pardoned thousands of low level drug offenders.  Washington was also the first state to sue to stop Trump’s original travel ban on Muslims.
  • Personally – has three kids, married his high school sweetheart, drives a Chevy Bolt (green and ‘Murican!), won a state hoops title in high school and is 68 years old

So basically Jay Inslee was a progressive martyr in his first stint as a Congressman, supporting a gun control bill that passed but cost him his job.  He was right on Glass-Steagall, the Iraq War and his commitment to his signature issue, fighting climate change, has shown foresight and leadership.  He has federal legislative experience and strong executive experience.  Plus, his state is home to Starbucks and Amazon, so it would be hard to claim his progressive vision and leadership have been incompatible with capitalistic success.  But right now Inslee is polling in the 1% range.  Among his “problems” – his social media following is weak and he is a “straight, white man” in a party and liberal climate that yearns for a candidate more reflective of the Democratic party’s diversity.  My main issue with this is that the Democrats have last nominated a black man and a woman. John Kerry was the last white man the party nominated (in 2004).  This is not an argument that “it’s time to go back” or anything stupid like that. My point is that, unlike the Party of Trump, the Democrats have not shown themselves averse to voting for people other than straight white men, and yet it seems more than ever the Democrats and liberals seem to be acting like selecting a candidate who happens to be a straight white man would automatically be treated like a step backward.  I think that is counterproductive both in the primary phase and in potentially damping enthusiasm in the general IF the party happens to nominate a straight white man.  I think the roster of candidates is really strong (Pete Buttigieg is running a surprise second in my own personal choices), but I will vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination.  Worrying about too centrist or too progressive a candidate when Trump is the other choice is like declaring chemo or surgery as terrible choices for dealing with Cancer – you better choose one because the result of not supporting either is Cancer.

So with this heartfelt, but mostly useless endorsement I would like to suggest some advice for Governor Inslee’s campaign (since the campaign is running with fighting climate change as its overarching theme I will not address that, but I wholeheartedly endorse that emphasis):

  1. Make it clear you are not Governor John Hickenlooper – I write this only half in jest.  You announced your candidacy the same week as Governor John Hickenlooper (a more centrist candidate, who is also a white male, but who unlike you, saw Deep Throat in the theater with his Mom).  The media sort of labeled both of you alternatively as “centrist governors” and “here come the straight white guys,” which is sort of a lazy (and false) branding of your track record. You are as progressive as anyone in the race, except that you have the votes and record of actual progressive actions, not just rhetoric.
  2.  Meet with the Parkland kids and other gun control activists – the only thing that young people have been as vocal about as climate change in the last few years has been gun control.  You could really be THE candidate of young people if they learn that not only are you a climate change warrior, but also lost his your first Congressional seat voting for gun control (how many politicians on either side of the aisle these days would you expect to risk career for conscience?). Working with kids like the activists from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas would bridge your 25 year old vote to today’s concerns. This should be your way to approach other large issues where your record is clearly a strength.
  3.  Take on Bernie Sanders – Bernie’s fans are probably as devoted to Bernie as Trump’s supporters are to him. Taking on Bernie (not in a dirty politics or insulting sort of way) would highlight that you are no less progressive than Bernie (and on gun control more so). Your voting record and policy priorities cannot be criticized from the left and your record of accomplishment stands favorably to Bernie’s mostly rhetorical star power.  Also, being almost a decade younger than Bernie cannot hurt.  Now you may be saying, but if Bernie’s fans are ride or die for Bernie why take him on?  Well, there are many voters, whether they be people of color, women, or other demographics who still feel either an affinity for Hillary Clinton or a wariness of Bernie.  Showing that you are able to make a compelling challenge to Bernie’s front runner status might make some people notice and might make others who felt that Bernie was not sufficiently supportive of HRC feel that they have a progressive alternative that doesn’t feel like a betrayal of Hillary.  There are many candidates, but according to polls around 50% of voters favor Bernie or Biden in the primary (at least right now). So you know that these are voters who are not writing off straight white men based solely on their demographic (not that other candidates’ bases of support are based strictly on that, but certainly there is enough talk in progressive circles that it is also not a negligible concern).  Aim for 8th place and you will stay in 11th. Aim for 1st and you might get yourself into the top 6 in time to become a real contender.
  4. Highlight your personal story and your consistency as a progressive champion for 25 years – my 100 blog readers now know your personal and professional details, but most of America does not.  Change that.  Continue to highlight and feature climate change, but letting the American people know your consistent progressive bona fides else won’t detract from it. Your other accomplishments and experiences might just make America feel even more certain that you are the candidate to successfully win the battle against climate change.
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Road Comedy Recap: Guns and Tater Thots in Dayton

It is Sunday morning in the Beaver Creek, Ohio Panera Bread as I write this.  Because I will be on a 16 hour Greyhound bus ride tomorrow I will not have access to Internet (or personal space and drinkable water) all day tomorrow so the road recap goes up this morning.  Besides, with most of Ohio presumably staying home tonight to watch the GOAT Lebron James, I assume tonight’s show will not warrant much consideration anyway. This was my first time to Dayton giving me all the Ohio comedy merit badges (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus were already completed) so this will be chock full as I recall the loss of my Dayton virginity.  And like so many of these recaps it begins with a travel story full of pain.

Greyhound to Dayton

I do not like flying.  I don’t have a crippling fear, but I do not like it. And I have not been on a small plane (smaller than a MD-88 and usually not smaller than a 737) since 2009 when I did a gig in Destin, Florida.  We transferred in Atlanta for a 50 seater to go to Fort Walton Beach, FL. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was one of the bumpiest flights of my life (raising the question – WHAT THE FU*K ARE THESE PLANES LIKE IN BAD WEATHER?).  Additionally, the size of seats on those planes are slightly less roomy than overhead baggage space.  So I just decided that when I can’t travel on a normal sized plane (737 or bigger) I would go via other means, which means my beloved Amtrak (I am known as “The Joe Biden of Amtrak riders you don’t give a shit about” in rail transit circles) or Greyhound. Well, at $120 round trip and 16 hours Greyhound beat Amtrak in both price and time so that is how I travelled.

My bus left Port Authority bus terminal at 9:15pm on Wednesday night.  I was loaded up with healthy snacks, podcasts and a hazmat suit for the 15.5 hour journey.  I probably slept a total of 90 minutes during the journey, but I had my own seat for most of the trip, which was the best case scenario.  And I smelled only 2 farts throughout the journey. Neither were mine.

When I arrived at Dayton I ordered a Lyft. This is what transpired next:

My Lyft driver was a 67 year old black man that gave me his Motown cover band’s card when I told him I was a comedian. Turns out his group, Touch, finished 3rd on an NBC show hosted by Nick Lachey, so you know a trip is off to a bad start when your Lyft driver in Dayton, Ohio has more entertainment juice than you do.  I arrived at the club around 1:45 and got walked over to the comedy condo.

Condo Glory

In stand up comedy there is only one C word that offends comedians and that is “Condo.”  If you, as the middle act, get a hotel you have won. There is usually a minimum standard of care delivered by even the crappiest of hotels, but a comedy condo can range from “Hey this is solid!” to “Hey, this comforter is solid frozen with other comedians’ semen!”  Well, the new standard for comedy condo excellence has been set by the Dayton Funny Bone (suck on it Rivercenter Comedy Club in San Antonio – the awful condo since abandoned that resembled the bug room in Temple of Doom – and the subject of a blog that got me banned from there).  The apartment, which is located in a new building in the mall where the club is (literally a stone’s throw from the club) is basically a slick 1 bedroom loft type apartment with a full cable package (all the HBOs, etc). It is pretty much a better set up than 95% of hotels, so good job Dayton FB!  It allows me to creepily spy on patrons of the club:

Alfred Hitchcock style!

For dinner I went to The Cheesecake Factory, located a dangerous 400 feet from the condo (it is the preferred restaurant for NBA players and NBA-sized middle acts) and then I went to the club.  Thursday’s show went well, sold a few albums, watched the first half of Game 1 of the NBA FInals (I could not stay up for the JR Smith debacle because even my love for Lebron must succumb to 90 minutes of Greyhound sleep.

Greyhound is worse for you than crack and meth combined. This was me at 1030pm Thursday night

Friday: One Good Crowd

Friday I went to LA Fitness and got swole AF. I also went to the Cheesecake Factory again (I went with a sensible dessert of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, which is one of the lower calorie cheesecakes they offer at only 13,880 calories per slice). I watched the outstanding season finale of The Americans (thanks for not spoiling (*watching) it Black Twitter!) in Panera Bread and then, just like that, it was time for two shows at the Funny Bone.

The first audience was so so.  I know that because when I was selling albums after the first show (right outside the bathrooms like some African bathroom attendant offering you CDs instead of cologne and breath mints) two young guys came up to me, bought the albums and said “We want to be comedians and I don’t know what was wrong with that crowd. You were awesome.”  This proves that I perform to the back of the room, even if they are just in comedian fetus form.   The second audience was awesome – they were a smaller crowd, but they bought a lot of my albums, which after 15 years (June 2nd was 15 years since I picked up a mic at the Takoma Station Tavern in D.C.) is the cynical way I judged the quality of a crowd – you can boo me, but if you buy my albums you are a good crowd.

The only blemish after the first audience was a black who came up to me and said “That ain’t your race. (proceeded to touch my hair) Nah – show me your stomach hair. Niggas got nappy stomach hair.”  Now, as I have said, if I wanted to use the N word (which I don’t – there goes my shot at a Trump cabinet position) I could make a legal case in N Word Court (my new show I am pitching) presenting DNA evidence, a picture of my father and my Sprint Mobile bill as compelling proof of my half-blackness. However, I have lived my life as an HGH infused Adam Sandler with a tan so even if the N Word Constitution accords me a right to say it, in the real world I do not have license to use it. My point is writing this is that I tell my story not to take liberties with language or to “get away with” saying things. I tell my story because it is my story.  But increasingly (and I have noticed a lot more skepticism in the age of Trump from black people, just like many more white people commented and asked about my race after shows during Obama’s presidency) I am having these uncomfortable interactions. My theory is that under Obama, white people were wondering if I was cashing in on the cache of being bi-racial (if they can’t be cool then why should this Italian looking guy get to be), whereas black people have been saying a lot more things to me since Trump’s election – perhaps wary of whether I am a racial and political ally or just someone trafficking in race.  But whatever the case, don’t touch my hair! #BlackGirlMagic

Missed References, Guns, Thots and Prayers: Saturday

Saturday I went to LA Fitness again and got even more swole AF. I emailed the cast and crew of Comedian Combine the final script (filming June 16th – this will be one of my best sketches) and then walked 2.5 miles to the closest Catholic Church for vigil Mass.  Now the weather was beautiful, but it was also 80+ degrees and after a while 2.5 miles starts to get super hot.  I arrived at Church looking, as I often do in summer months, like an ISIS operative having a panic attack.  Another weird thing about the Church, was the demographics of the attendees.  Not an exaggeration – there was one beige dude (me), 4 Asians and about 800 extremely white people.  I have noticed this more and more on the road and after reading Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law (which made my last blog – my recommended U.S. History reading list) I can’t help but think of the historical shame of how segregated our cities are (and how the book thoroughly explains was done by design at the highest levels of federal and state government, in addition to local and personal prejudices that created, and sustain, a world of white middle class wealth).  I wanted to ask the people around me “Don’t YOU think it is weird that EVERYONE looks the same in here?”

The Passion of Christ… was FREEDOM!

 

As I walked back from Mass I stopped in a Wendy’s for a chicken sandwich.  It was just me and these two people:

I will have a #6 meal and ONE REASON – I DARE YOU TO GIVE ME ONE REASON!

Coupled with my Mass experience I almost want to ask “If you moved to a town without scary minorities to feel safe, why the need for the gun you paranoid, fat Nick Offerman-looking cuck!? Al Qaeda is not coming for you, no matter what your Greyhound Bus Depot security thinks (see video above). And you probably have zoning laws that would bar people that have the same skin color as people in MS13 or the Crips from moving here. Besides I could take that from you if I wanted to – I AM THE CAPTAIN NOW!”  During my meal two girls came in and ordered food and then one proceeded to sit with her bare feet on the seat and I thought, “Excuse me Donald Glover, but THIS IS AMERICA – an old, scared white dude with a glock on his side and a millennial putting her bare feet up in a restaurant.”

The first show went OK that night, but in the same set I made an Alex Jones reference (and then polled the crowd and only 1/3 had even heard of him) and a Nino Brown reference (and only about 7 people knew what I was talking about) in the same set and thought America’s ability to get references has to be somewhere between those two, but alas it was an epic fail.  I also made a Rocky IV reference on the late show and almost no one had seen it.  And they call themselves patriots?

I went back to the condo after the first show to upload the video to my computer and by the time I got back to the club everyone had left (the headliner did a shorter set than he had been doing) so I sold nothing after the first show. Fortunately the late show would be the best crowd (only heckling I got was on the late crowd, so they sucked under normal definitions of crowd quality, but as I wrote earlier, albums sales are the sole factor determining a crowd’s quality form here on out).  I did get a good new bit, as well as a pop culture phrase I have invented. Enjoy “”Tater Thots”:

As my set was winding down I started going into my bit about how it is tough to ask a guy to settle down in 2018. A bit that has been doing well for me and was 4/4 in Dayton, but then some dumb, attractive woman and her tatted up, sleeveless shirt, dip swallowing boyfriend/man/friend decided to chime in (I think she was also a Trump supporter, so let’s just use another one of my linguistic inventions – she was a Trunt). I do not hate stupid people. They were stupid based on their support of Trump and their inability to understand the premise of a joke. But they were confident stupid people and I hate those mfers.  So I aborted the joke, but I think it helped propel album sales because when I made my self-deprecating album pitch a black man yelled out “We Got You!” and I thought “I don’t believe in Wakanda Forever, but perhaps today we are all Wakandans!”  I sold well after the show and even gave two black men (I believe one of them was the man who shouted his support) and their dates a breakdown of their relationships as Trump (I gave my endorsement to the black man dating a black woman, but told the black man dating a white woman that I did not approve, which had them all laughing).  I then went back to the condo to find The Dark Knight was on. I stayed up til 2am watching it because it was only Wakanda for a day – it is The Dark Knight forever. And here is a beautiful shot of Beaver Creek I took on my way to Church: