I love going to see traditional live jazz because there’s something very real and raw about it. At its core, it’s pure artists creating in the moment. On Monday night, September 15th, I went to see Spanky Wilson at the Riviera 31 in Los Angeles. Spanky’s been around forever for good reason and she’s shared the stage with legends like Marvin Gaye and Sammy Davis Jr. Before she started an Aretha Franklin number, she noticed several backup singers from the Academy Award winning film Twenty Feet From Stardom watching in the audience, so she asked if they would sing with her. The five female vocalists stood in front of Spanky on stage and spontaneously created with her. They watched her lead as she sang and provided amazing backup vocals without any rehearsal or discussion. It was awesome. They were all on the same page after years of creativity even though they’d never shared the stage before. The video is a clip I took from that performance.
The internet is dumb. I posted this silly joke to reddit the other day. Admittedly, it is not my finest work, but it is a stupid, fun joke. But the internet doesn’t understand jokes. Here are a couple of choice comments:
"Do people really think that the only way to have fun is by drinking too much? There are reasonable amounts that you can drink and have a good time, and you can have a good time without drinking at all. A lot of people have some screwed up praise for alcohol."
"People should be drinking for their own enjoyment, and not to some weird standard that others are setting."
"Oh you mean you had so much fun you can’t remember any of it and did permanent brain damage to yourself?”
That’s right, the internet turned a dumb joke into a conversation about brain damage. You win internet.
I recently accomplished a two-day backpacking trip through The Narrows in Zion National Park in Utah that was EPIC. Exhausting and fulfilling, it was refreshing to escape into nature for a couple of days. On our first day of backpacking, we literally saw two other people the entire day. Highly recommend it!
“Ugh, what do you mean the flight is cancelled?” I exhaled.
I had been waiting in the Madison airport for four hours. I had been on and off the same airplane twice already without taking off, alternating between the freezing terminal with it’s blasting air conditioning and the sweaty plane with it’s scowling travelers.
“I’m sorry sir. There’s weather in Chicago and it’s not letting up,” the gate attendant replied.
“There’s always goddamn weather in Chicago. I think Chicago did something really bad to piss off God.”
The gate attendant forced herself not to smile at my quip, but her lip quivered slightly, betraying her stoic demeanor. “I can get you on a flight at 6 am back to Los Angeles.”
My phone read 11 p.m. Not worth getting a hotel when I had to be back at the airport in 6 hours. I just decided to sleep at the airport, which is not the first time that’s happened. It’s probably not even the 10th time.
Looking around the terminal, I actually felt pretty good about my decision. Many airports are stuffed with uncomfortable row seats with permanent armrests that prevent a weary traveler from sprawling out awkwardly. But Madison was full of actual couches with cushions and pleather and hope.
I pushed a couple of couches together to make a fortress, an airport sleep castle, and just as I was lying down, the gate attendant approached me.
“I’m sorry sir, but since this is such a small airport, people aren’t allowed to sleep in the terminal. We don’t have enough staff to monitor up here. You’ll have to exit through security and re-enter in the morning.”
I looked around and noticed we were literally the only two people there. I squinted my eyes to look intimidating. “I’m just gonna sleep here,” I said.
She responded quickly, “There’s actually police that do a sweep of the terminal and they’ll escort you out. I’m really sorry. I wish you could sleep up here.”
After I asked for some more clarification for a rule I didn’t want to understand, I frustratingly stated my final desperate plea, “But there are only chairs outside of security, not nice couches like this! I can’t sleep in a chair!”
She thought for a moment. “Actually, I think there’s one couch in the family lounge area. No one really checks there. You could probably get that.”
I sprung into action, gathering my things quickly, desperate to snag that couch before some other thankless traveler. I ran out of security and noticed about 20 other people already sleeping uncomfortably in chairs in the ticketing area. I raced to the family lounge in record time and eureka, the couch remained unoccupied. It was actually only a loveseat, but a chair it was not.
The lounge wasn’t a separate room from the airport. It looked more like a hospital inlet with walls on three sides but no door to block off from the rest of the people traffic, blank white walls with nothing hanging on them, and bright fluorescent lights. There were two large family bathrooms separated from the waiting lounge area by heavy doors.
I plopped down on the loveseat but quickly realized the blazing fluorescent lights would prevent any heavy sleep. I believe I did what any sane person would do in that situation – I pushed the couch into one of the family bathrooms. Large enough to hold a couch and, more importantly, pitch black with the lights off, the bathroom offered the perfect place to get a quality 5 hours of sleep. My phone read 11:30 p.m. I set my alarm for 4:45 am.
At about midnight, I woke to knocking on the bathroom door. “Do you have a couch in there?” came a deep bass voice.
“Yeah”, I responded. “Is that a problem?” No response. I heard feet shuffling away so I rolled over on the couch and tried to slip back into dreamland.
About 5 minutes later, a louder knock interrupted my quiet. “Dane County Sheriff’s Department! Open Up!” a female voice bellowed. I opened the bathroom door and a female sheriff in full uniform stood in front of a gruff looking male janitor.
Groggily I asked what was their problem. As you might expect, the sheriff explained that I wasn’t allowed to move a couch into the bathroom. I don’t do well with authority – that is evident from my many detentions in school and my multiple arrests for fireworks. Our exchange went as follows.
“You’re telling me there’s a specific rule against moving couches?”
“I’m telling you that you’re not allowed to move a couch.”
“I’ll move it back in the morning. I’m just trying to get some sleep for a few hours.”
“In the bathroom?”
“Yeah, it’s the only place that’s dark.”
“You can’t sleep in the bathroom.”
“Because I can’t move the couch? Or because there is also a rule about sleeping in bathrooms?”
“I need you to move the couch back.”
“Why does it matter?”
At this point the janitor piped in, “What if someone needs the bathroom?”
I responded, “Sir, I already told you that my flight is at 6 am. I showed the sheriff my boarding pass. It’s after midnight. There’s a second identical bathroom next door. So what you’re saying is that you expect there to be not one, but two families that need to use these bathrooms at the same time in the hours between midnight and 4:45 a.m.? Are these families on drugs?”
Nobody laughed. The sheriff simply said, “If you don’t move the couch out of the bathroom, I’ll have to arrest you.”
Defeated, I moved the couch out of the bathroom as the janitor-sheriff team sauntered away. I sat on the couch seething for a few minutes, fuming about the injustice of my predicament. Then I decided to take action. If it’s against airport rules to move furniture, I’ll make the sheriff go around to every other person in the airport who pushed two chairs together to cobble together some semblance of sleep, and I’ll force her to wake them up to move their chairs back to their starting positions. If the sheriff wanted to be a dick, I could be a bigger dick. I was going to make every person in that airport hate her.
I stomped around the airport searching for the sheriff for 10 minutes, but she had already slipped back into her dark cave somewhere, drunk on her own power. My plan foiled. Glancing at the time on my phone, now 12:30 a.m., I gave up and decided to get what little sleep I could on the couch under the bright lights. I was still pissed off, but exhaustion is a more powerful motivator than anger for me. I hugged the inside of the couch and tossed and turned for a few hours. Whether because of the bright lights, my underlying anger, or the noise of sleeping in an airport, I never fell deeply asleep.
When my alarm blasted me awake at 4:45 a.m., I grabbed my things quickly with the intention of heading to my gate. But then I noticed there were no video cameras monitoring the family lounge. Revenge danced around my mind. I’m not proud of this, but every impulse drove me to it. I pushed the couch back into the bathroom and wedged it behind the door. I can’t use the bathroom? Now no one can use the bathroom. There’s a fucking couch keeping the door from opening.
I know they probably found a way to get the couch out of its wedged position pretty quickly, but they were also probably pretty annoyed at having to do it. I’ve never smiled that much after four hours of sleep in my life.
I’m one of the guests this week on one of my favorite podcasts, Doug Loves Movies! It’s about movies and fun and friendship and games. Also joining the podcast are the really funny comedians DC Pierson and Cameron Esposito. Listen!
I just got back from being a New Face at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal! So many great shows, so many fun after parties, so many awesome people, and so much time spent in my own head. I loved it, especially when I wasn’t over analyzing everything. I learned some lessons from my experience and I thought I’d share them with the internet in the hopes that it helps someone else doing New Faces in the future. I’m not an expert, but this is an informed opinion.
1. Know that you belong there
When you walk into a room that’s filled with comedy greats like Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr, Al Madrigal, and so many others it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easy to think “What the fuck am I doing here?” I let those thoughts creep in, and then I had to forcibly remind myself that I earned to right to be in that room. I was picked for a reason. And many of those comedy greats did New Faces years ago.
2. You have to be excited about your set
I think it’s important to run your set ahead of time so you’re comfortable with it, but not to the point it becomes boring for you. If you’re over-rehearsed, you won’t have the right energy to hit that stage. There needs to be a bit of excitement coming through to grab people.
3. Go to the panels and events
There are a lot of awesome panels that happen during the day, from interviews with acclaimed directors to panels with successful tv shows. I learned a ton at those panels and got a lot of interesting knowledge nuggets that changed my perspective on writing and performing.
4. Don’t look for someone to talk to
The times I felt most in my head was when I was looking around a room trying to find someone to meet or network with. Because when you’re not talking to someone, all the negative thoughts flood in - “Does no one want to talk to me?”, “Is everyone talking to someone else”, “Am I doing something wrong?” The reality is everyone is talking to someone and not talking to someone all the time. I think it’s better to find people you enjoy and hang out with them. If the industry wants to talk to you, they’ll find you. Don’t walk around searching for them.
5. Watch shows, but also hang out with your friends
The best part of Montreal is all the amazing shows. There are so many talented comedians there, and I wanted to watch all of them. The first night I wore myself ragged going from show to show to show. I enjoyed it, but it felt lonely as I migrated around the festival by myself. Then the next night I hung out with some of my fellow New Faces. We caught a show, but we also hung out at a cafe and talked. I’m going to remember that cafe conversation for much longer.
6. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
Everyone wants to kill it on New Faces. You’re in the wrong business if you don’t. But putting pressure on yourself to kill it is the kiss of death. I think comics really become the funniest version of themselves when they stop worrying what other people think. They stop worrying about killing and just be themselves. If you’re in New Faces, you’ve already put in the work. Now just be yourself without listening to the critic in your head, and whatever happens happens. But if you think “I have to kill it”, you won’t.
Stuart Scott has long been one of the best anchors on ESPN. He’s charming, funny, witty, charismatic, and a host of other fun qualities. His comedic timing in ESPN commercials is always spot on (check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4HBEat2H_s).
As with most public figures, we rarely get a glimpse into their sensitive side or their personal lives - with the exception of trashy reality stars. Last night at the ESPYS, Scott welcomed the world into his battle with cancer and showed a depth and presence we don’t often see on SportsCenter. It’s one of the best moments I’ve seen on television. We need more honesty in this world.
The media of the Associated Press has announced LeBron James’ plans to retire from basketball this summer. For the past 10 days, LeBron has remained exceedingly quiet about where he plans to play next season. Though LeBron himself has said nothing, leaks keep coming from his camp, from potential cities, from media insiders, and from my grandmother that he plans to play in Miami, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas, or the National Junior Basketball Association chapter of Redwood City. It seems every 10 minutes another report comes out that he has changed his mind and is going somewhere else to play.
After 10 days of LeBron frenzy and speculation, Chris Broussard of ESPN said today that he “expects LeBron to announce his retirement by the end of the week.” When asked for details, Broussard simply said, “Well he’s giving me nothing. I’m freaking out over here!”
It wouldn’t be the first time an athlete retired at the peak of his game. In 1999, Barry Sanders shockingly walked away from football even though he remained one of the best running backs in the sport. It brings new light to the 2007 LeBron interview when, after losing the NBA finals, he said, “I want to be the Barry Sanders of basketball.” At the time, everyone assumed that meant he wanted to be a legend in his sport, but apparently he wanted to quit while he was ahead and go out on top like Seinfeld.
When asked for comment, the entire city of Cleveland wept silently.
In honor of Independence Day, here’s a clip of me improving with an audience about fireworks. If you didn’t know, I have a firework addiction problem. Like the kind of problem where I’ve been arrested multiple times for fireworks. The handcuffed, put in cop cars, court dates, hire a lawyer kind of problem. Here’s hoping I don’t get arrested this year. Some of you might say, “Just stop doing fireworks.” To that I say, America never gave up, neither will I.
I definitely have World Cup fever! I have watched part of every game in this World Cup so far. I can’t get enough. It’s ruining my life. I’m not being productive, but my excuse is it only happens once every four years, so back off. In honor of the World Cup, here’s some video of the greatest goal I’ve ever seen at a World Cup. Thank you Mr. Bergkamp. You are forever in my dreams.