Living the dream
2 weeks ago I got a chance to travel back to the land of my birth, the love filled paradise of best wishes commonly known as Newark, New Jersey. That’s what I looked like back when I lived there. Wasn’t I fucking cute?
The New Jersey Devils built a badass new arena in Newark, and we had a UFC there on one of the nights they were off. The arena was pretty fucking sick, and it’s being hailed as one of the signs that Newark is making a financial comeback.
I’ve got a lot of memories connected to Newark. I was born there, and I only lived there until I was 7, but when I was in my early 20’s I moved back there again for 6 months or so.
I was living in Boston during my early days in stand up, grinding out my days working for this hilarious private investigator, Dave Dolan, a great guy that’s still a good friend to this day, and I was trying to do my comedy at night. I was keeping up a crazy pace; I would deliver the Boston Globe in my car early every morning, 365 days a year to 300 houses, then I would work for Dave during the day, then head to the comedy clubs at night to pursue my dream of one day becoming a professional stand up comedian.
I would always look at these comics with their careers in order with great admiration.
I couldn’t imagine how great life must be when you get to the point where you can pay your bills by just doing stand up. I still remember that energized, hungry feeling I had back then thinking about it, and I call upon it for inspiration some days.
Back in those early days in Boston I was always tired. Trying to keep with all the shit I was doing was really taking a toll on me, but I had to keep doing it.
I was seriously exhausted all the time, so much so that I fell asleep once while in the middle of going down on my girlfriend. I’ll never forget the image burned into my mind of her disappointingly pushing my face and looking down at me, propped up on her elbows with eyebrows raised, saying, “Hey, you were snoring.”
I couldn’t even deny it.
Normally if you wake me up, for whatever reason I’ll almost always lie and say I was awake. I have no idea why I do it, and I try to stop it, but for whatever reason I’m just always pretending that I was already up.
Not this time, though. I just took my shame like a man.
I knew I had to make some progress in my life, and fairly soon.
Well, it was somewhere around that time when I met my current manager, Jeff Sussman.
Jeff was living in NY managing comics, and he and his number 1 client were about to part ways, so Jeff was searching for new talent. On a whim, Jeff decided to take a trip up to Boston and check out some of the local talent there.
I wasn’t scheduled to perform that night, but I had a new joke that I had written that day, so I called up the club and asked them if I could do a guest set.
I was driving home from work exhausted, and I’m sure I had thoughts of pussying out and just going home and getting some rest, but I plowed on.
I got to the club, and Oliver, the club manager was introducing Jeff to a few of the comics. I got to meet him, but he left before I went onstage – which to me at the time was no big deal. I didn’t really think I was ready to managed by a guy with as big a name in the business as Jeff, and the new joke I had come up with was dirty, and at the time I was brainwashed by the current thought process into thinking that dirty jokes were cheap and easy, and that to “make it” you had to work clean.
If Jeff had stayed to watch my act I probably would have tried to water it down, and I probably would have sucked.
I went onstage carefree and had a great set, and in the middle of my act, Jeff came back into the club because he heard a lot of laughter from outside.
When I came offstage Jeff was there waiting to meet me. He handed me his card and asked to see me perform again the next night.
I remember thinking that if I had known Jeff had returned to the club while I was onstage, I probably would have never done those jokes, and probably never had that good a set, and he would have probably passed me up and signed someone else.
At the time it really did feel like a scene in a movie. Coming offstage to a round of applause when a smiling man hands you his business card, and thus begins the next chapter of your life. Jeff has been my manager ever since.
He’s a bad motherfucker, and the coolest guy in the business.
Jeff signed me 2 weeks later, and wanted me to move to NY.
I was basically scratching and grinding at the time, so I didn’t have any money saved up for the move. Lucky for me my Grandfather still lived in Newark, and he offered to let me stay with him.
North 9th street was a nice neighborhood when my grandfather moved his family there in the 1940’s, but over the years shit had drastically changed. By the time I got there in 1990 he was surrounded by poverty and crime. The next door neighbor’s house got raided for selling crack right before I moved in, and there were plenty of stoplights on the way to Grandpa’s house where my doors were always locked and I was always ready to hit the gas. I stayed there for 6 months until I had saved up enough money for my own place, and to this day whenever I think about Newark, I think about my frame of mind back then. It just comes right back to me in clear focus.
Having the UFC in Newark was a huge memory flash for me. My grandfather died in the mid nineties, and I hadn’t been back there since his funeral. Driving around, staring at all the buildings, it was the same feeling all over again. Some places just have a “feeling” that you get when you’re there, and to me, there’s no place that rings out in my memories quite like Newark.
One of the best parts of my trip was that I got to hang out on the radio all morning with Opie and Anthony and little Jimmy Norton. It’s one of my all time favorite radio shows to do, because that’s really what it’s like – hanging out. It barely feels like you’re doing radio. It just feels like you’re involved in a funny conversation with some really cool guys. I’m on their show every time I’m back east, and it’s one of the things I look forward to the most.
We started out the morning talking about psychedelic drugs because they had story they were reading about kids getting DMT from toads, and we spent the next couple hours having a trippy conversation about psychedelics, crazy dreams, and sensory deprivation tanks.
O&A have a cool set up, where they do regular FM restricted radio in the first part of the morning, and then from 9-11am they go on XM satellite radio where they can go balls out.
Like virtually every radio show, O&A have a bunch of regular people that visit them on air, and one of them is a 50 year old virgin that they call “Stalker Patty.”
This is where the “balls out” part comes in, this time very literally.
Opie came up with the idea of giving patty a Listerine breath strip and telling her that it’s actually laced with THC, the active ingredient in Marijuana.
For over an hour we had her convinced that she was high as the satellite that was broadcasting our signal. It was both amazing and hilarious for a bunch of reasons; first off being that she fell for it hook, line, and sinker. There wasn’t a moment where she questioned it, and watching the power of suggestion work so effortlessly was just fucking fascinating. We had her scratching at imaginary bugs, they were fucking with the sound coming into her headset so that she heard everyone’s voice echo. Everyone was making weird noises and chanting, and she thought she was so high she couldn’t stand up.
They had guys that work on the show dress up in outfits, like a monster and a giant bunny rabbit, and just walk through the room while no one addressed them.
Then Ari pulled his junk out and we had her convinced that was an illusion too.
At one point in time I told her that she was going to be fine after the drug wore off, but one thing that was very important was that she shouldn’t lay back and close her eyes, because if she did she would instantly fall asleep.
Something like a half an hour later someone offered to recline her chair back and suggested that she rest her eyes. As soon as she did, she was out like a light. Instantly.
It was fucking crazy. Within seconds she was snoring into the mic.
The power of suggestion is just fucking incredible.
Granted, we were observing it working on a simpleton, but it was so effective it made me think; could you imagine if there was someone out there so much smarter than me that they could do that to me just by talking to me?
I like to tell myself that’s not possible, but when you watch another human being get drawn in like that – 100%, completely spellbound, it really makes you wonder.
“Biggie, biggie, biggie can’t you see, sometimes your words they hypnotize me…”
I had a show late Friday night at Caroline’s on Broadway, and the turn out and the crowd were amazing. The show didn’t start until 1:30am, and there was a line of people down the block freezing their asses off waiting to get in.
To them, I say thank you very much. I really appreciate everyone coming out, especially for such a late show on a Friday night. The crowd was drunk and rowdy, but that’s to be expected from a group of people that have probably been up since 7am, worked all day, and then had to fucking freeze outside waiting at 1 in the morning to see a comedy show. Taking that into consideration, they were remarkably well behaved. The show was completely sold out, standing room only, and only one guy got thrown out, and even he was cool, he was just too drunk to know when to shut the fuck up.
I got to meet a bunch of people after the show and take pictures with them, and it was truly a pleasure. I met a bunch of different people that drove down to the show from different states because I’m so rarely on the East Coast these days. To them, and everyone else I just want to say I’m honored. It’s people like you guys that make all of this so worthwhile, and your enthusiasm enriches me and inspires me more than you could possibly know.
After the show we prowled the streets until 6am with Chuck Zito and the Tapout crew, and a great fucking time was had by all.
The next day I woke up to do my dream job – hosting the UFC. Out of all the gigs that I’ve ever had in my career, there’s none that I enjoy more than that UFC.
I’m a huge fan of the sport, and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work for the best Mixed Martial Arts organization in the world. I’ve been doing commentary for over 5 years now, and I still have to pinch myself every time one of these events is about to start. The excitement of the UFC is really like nothing else in all of sports. Its just competition stripped down to it’s raw core – free of distractions like balls and field goals and time outs.
Nothing but 2 men furiously executing skills against each other that they have honed through countless hours of work and sacrifice playing the ultimate game with both the ultimate risk and reward. I fucking LOVE it.
I can’t believe it’s really my job. I’ve often thought that my life has been so fortunate that so many times it really does feel like it’s all a dream.
Maybe in some parallel continuum it really is. Maybe there it’s still 1990, and I’m still face down asleep in my girlfriend’s pussy, dreaming of this magical life I’m living.