Long live the idea of the comedy store, the last word.
To all those that continually ask me in emails for updates on what’s going on, I thought it would probably be easier if I just talked about everything in a final blog entry on the subject.
First off, thank you all once again for all the kind words and all the support. It’s made this whole weird transition in my life infinitely more enjoyable, and I want everyone to know that I appreciate it very much, and I send out mad love to you all.
I’ve been trying my best to stay current with the emails and myspace messages, but it’s been pretty much impossible. I try to do my best, but after the video and my blog postings the sheer volume of them has made answering them all like trying to bail out a sinking boat with a leaky condom. I’ve tried writing blog entries on other subjects, but I’ve gotten so many emails on the subject that I felt like I’ve gotta make one final post on it, and then move on for good. Hopefully this is it.
As for all the people forwarding me emails that you sent to the comedy store trying to get me reinstated there, thank you very much, but at this point I really don’t ever want to go back.
I’ve been really happy lately going up at a bunch of different places. It’s added a new flame to my creative drive, and I’ve actually really been enjoying the change.
I’ve been performing a lot at the improv in Hollywood, and I love it there. The audiences there have been great, and the managers and staff are all super cool.
Which brings me back to the comedy store…
I recently received a quite ridiculous 5 page typed letter from the current management accusing me of trying to get comics and patrons to boycott the comedy store, which is completely and totally untrue.
I have never told anyone to stop going there. Some of the comics have chosen not to go, but that was purely out of their own personal disgust with the store’s handling of the situation, not because I asked them to stop going.
I still have some good friends that perform there all the time. They’re very funny, and if you go there and see them you’ll laugh your ass off. Plus, it’s a great space to see comedy in. It’s a really cool old building that hasn’t changed all that much from the time when it was a mob run nightclub in the 1940’s. It’s one of those very few remaining old Hollywood landmarks that’s still around. So please, by all means go there and have a good time.
You just won’t be seeing me there ever again, and here’s where we get to why…
The really funny part of this silly 5 page letter that they sent me was where they claimed that the “real reason” that I was banned from the comedy store, was that they had asked me to stop filming there for my little internet reality show, and by releasing that video of The Carlos™ and I onstage I had violated their rules, and that I had to be “disciplined” for that. What was so funny about that to me, was that the reason they stated that they wanted me to stop filming there was that they’re claiming that those clips that I put up on my website constitute a “Show,” and that if I’m filming this “Show” at the club, I should be compensating them financially for it.
What’s so funny about that? Well, what’s really funny to me about them asking me for money to film there was that the entire time I performed at the comedy store, over 13 years, literally one third of my entire life on this planet, I performed FOR FREE.
For the hundreds of times my name was on the Marquee on sunset advertising “Fear Factor’s Joe Rogan” I did those shows for them 100% for free. I even advertised when I was going to be there, sending out myspace messages to everyone on my list, every time I performed there.
Not only that, I even purchased the very sound system they use in there right now to this day. They had a cheap, tinny system there that would cut in and out, and the speakers were blown, and it was a real nuisance to perform with.
The club didn’t have the money to fix it supposedly, so I decided to take care of it myself.
I bought a whole new set up with top of the line shit – speakers, CD burner, the whole 9 yards.
I paid for all of it 100% out of my own pocket.
It wasn’t just the LA club that I performed at for free for them either. The comedy store has a sister club down near San Diego in La Jolla, and on two separate occasions I traveled down there and packed the place for the whole weekend, did press for it, radio interviews advertising it, sent out letters to everyone on my email list and my myspace page, and never took a penny from them. They even jacked up the ticket price for those weekends because I was there.
I did it all completely as a favor to the club.
So after all that I’ve done for them, the fact that they would tell me that if I wanted to continue filming my clips for the internet there that they expected to be paid money for it was fucking mind blowing.
It’s like this situation is getting more and more surreal, and this was just some new level of gross that I was somehow expected to digest.
What’s really funny, was that the way I was looking at the typed words on the pages of this letter they sent me asking me to pay them, was exactly the same as the looks on the faces of those poor Fear Factor contestants when I was trying to feed them boiled horse rectums.
Like, “I can’t fucking believe you expect me to swallow this.”
Karma really is a bitch, I guess.
One of the really hilarious connections that they made in this goofy fucking letter was that since I hired a guy to do these videos, it’s obviously a “financial” venture because I have to pay him.
Even though I do it all entirely for free, and put it up on my website so that anyone can download it for free anytime they want to – the fact that I pay someone to film and edit it, means that they’re justified in asking me to pay them too.
A lot of people just fucking suck, but that club itself doesn’t, and neither do a lot of comics that perform there. If you want to go see some good comedy and you’re in that part of town, please go there. Like I said, it’s a bad ass place.
I even had a nice conversation with Pauly on the phone after it all went down, and we buried the hatchet. No hard feelings whatsoever.
To me personally though, that place is a part of my history, not my future.
I had a great fucking time all the years I was performing there, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it all went down. Like all things in this crazy life I’m living, it was all imperfectly perfect, exactly the way I like it.
When I was first starting out doing stand up in Boston, the comedy store was always this ultimate destination that could never really live up to the expectations that we had for it.
It was larger than life. It wasn’t just another club, it was like Mecca to us comics that had never been there. It was the place where Sam Kinison and Richard Pryor performed. It represented something above and beyond the rest of the clubs.
It was an idea.
It was an idea – that there was one club, one place, all the way across the country where they GOT it. Where the smartest crowds would go to see the sharpest comedy.
A place where no hacks were allowed.
A place where the inmates ran the asylum, and the person responsible for it all was this great woman that loved stand up comedy and understood the nature of the beast.
When I first started performing there, it was far more important to me than even getting on TV. I mean it was cool to be on a TV show and all, but what was REALLY cool to me at the time was that I was a regular at the motherfuckin’ comedy store. I was finally THERE.
I always knew that was the club that I needed to perform at, and I was there.
When all this shit went down a few weeks ago, the decision to never come back by me was made when I called Mitzi to discuss what happened, told her about the video and explained to her that it was going on the internet, she told me to just avoid The Carlos™ and she gave me a spot at 10pm that night. About an hour later when the manager called me to tell me I was banned- not knowing that I had just talked to Mitzi herself- it was a very obvious moment.
I could FEEL it.
I saw the man behind the curtain, and I realized that the moment we comedy store comics had always feared had finally come to pass – the moment where Mitzi was no longer running things.
I also realized that I had done my last set there.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, if I truly loved the idea of what the comedy store meant to me, then I had to walk away, because the reality of the situation was completely contrary to that idea. To stay and accept their bullshit would be a complete insult to the art form itself.
If the fucking comedy store –THE place- openly accepts a blatant plagiarist and punishes the guy that exposed him, there really can be no more obvious offense. That, and the fact that they somehow think that this video shouldn’t have been released -arguably the most important anti-plagiarism event EVER in the history of stand up- just shows how completely out of touch they are, and how there’s no fucking way they should ever be trusted again to do the right thing.
I was 99.9% sure that it was over for me, but the ridiculous letter they sent me completely sealed the deal.
There’s no sadness though, and I’m entering this new stage in my life with giddy, childlike enthusiasm, and I’m happily going where the universe takes me.
I’m really fucking loving performing in all these different places, and the idea of what the comedy store meant to me, lives on everywhere I go.
I remember one night Joey Diaz and I were on the road in Houston, and after a particularly wild show the audience was screaming and cheering, I thanked them, handed the microphone back to Joey to say goodnight, he gave me knuckles and he yelled into the mic, “That’s the comedy store, motherfuckers! That’s how we do it!!”
I’ll never forget that moment. He wasn’t just talking about a building back in Hollywood where we performed at; he was talking about an idea. He was talking about completely uncensored, raw and honest stand up comedy, and as long as there’s stand up, that idea will always be alive.
I take it with me everywhere I go, and if you come out to see me on the road with Joey Diaz, Ari Shaffir, Duncan Trussell, or anyone else I’m with, we bring that idea with us.
We take that idea everywhere we perform. We took it to the Upright Citizens Brigade in LA last Friday night, and I’m taking it to the improv in Pittsburgh tonight.
It’s not about some special container that you perform in, it’s about what you bring to whatever place you’re at, whether it’s a gigantic theatre or a tiny coffee house. That idea will live on.
Long live the idea of the comedy store.
And if you want to go to the actual comedy store, please do. Call them up, here’s the number: 323 656 6225.
You can email them to get their line up too if you like,
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the last I have to say about that subject.
I want to let everyone know that I’m also actively looking for other places to perform in LA. Rock clubs, bars with a stage, whatever you got. If you want me there, let’s talk. I’m even talking to some people about opening up a club.
I’m itching to get back to San Diego too, so anyone down there that’s got a spot, hit me up and let’s see if we can make something happen.
Peace and love, bitches!!
P.S., as far as my agency goes, once Gersh dropped me, I got on the phone with my manager and we signed on with the William Morris agency literally 5 minutes later.
They’re my stand up agents now.
As for the backlash against Gersh’s unethical behavior, Louis CK left them over this, so did Nick Swardson, and from what I understand a lot of other large name clients either have left them, or are looking for new agents now.
Cue the music, roll the credits.