Sunday, November 17, 2013
Since I have devoted an inordinate amount of time to being a comedian, I have decided to take time out to express what I enjoy about my life as a professional joke-teller, because comedy is not a business for those who don't love it enough to sacrifice the stability and benefits that other industries offer (In fact, I don't know if there is an industry that offers less stability or fewer benefits). I don't have to remind myself why I love performing and making people laugh, so I shall be focusing on the 99% of my life which happens when I am not on a stage speaking into a microphone. Perhaps the non-comedian folk will find this insightful, and I assume that much of what I am about to write will resonate with my comedian brethren.
As a person who has always abhorred authority, routine, and the status quo, comedy has given me no greater gift than that of freedom and independence. Even though staying self-motivated can be a challenging task, every day I'm thankful that I don't have an asshole boss looking over my shoulder, pestering me with late-night calls/e-mails, or scolding me for his mistakes. Every so often, I will take a Tuesday afternoon trip to the beach or a casino, just to give a metaphorical middle finger to "the man".
And I have the freedom to express myself in a way in which my "professional" friends are only capable of doing in the privacy of their own homes or among their non-work friends. The average professional has to be vigilant about ensuring that his online presence does not contain anything "inappropriate". No expletives. No images of debauchery. No controversial political statements. Comedians tend to be encouraged to use expletives, detail their debauchery, and make controversial political statements, except by comedy bookers and club owners who do not understand why the average person enjoys going to see stand-up comedy.
Being part of the comedian fraternity is truly incredible, and I am grateful to be part of such an eclectic group. I love that my comedian peers and co-workers are former lawyers and felons, and former lawyers who are felons. Even though there are various cliques within the comedy community based on level of success and style of comedy, there is a bond between all working comics. Most comedians possess the ability to look past the superficial, and, when interacting with a fellow comic, only consider two things: "Is this person funny?", and sadly, "How can this person help my career?" But, the latter question I'll ignore since we're keeping this post positive. And, yes, stand-up comedy is mostly a boys' club, but in my experience, most female comics who are committed to the craft are treated as "one of the boys".
Even though I entered the world of comedy just as I was concluding my formal education, I have learned so much from my years as a comedian. I thought that becoming a comic would steer me away from the world of business, but as a self-employed person, I've been forced to develop business acumen. I have acquired entrepreneurial skills; I have learned how to take a creative idea and develop it as a vehicle for monetary gain. I have learned about the importance of networking, self-promotion, and negotiating, even though I'm still trying to hone those skills ("still trying to hone those skills"= I still suck at those things).
Most importantly, I have gained empathy, and possess a more intimate understanding of people. I have been able to bond with folks from all walks of life, and from all parts of the world. Comedy has afforded me the opportunity to visit every part of the US, and learn about the various cultures, environments, cuisines, and pastimes of people throughout the country. I've been able to visit other countries, and see destitution that surpasses that of any US "ghetto". I've performed for the troops, and many of them vividly described their experiences in the military and in war, and a few surreptitiously provided me with their uncensored views of US foreign policy. From hosting events for Children's Hospital, I've befriended mothers whose children have battled cancer. These women demonstrate true strength, selflessness, the importance of maintaining a sense of humor, and an unwillingness to accept the gravest of injustices.
You may have noticed that I have not mentioned how much I enjoy writing or creating comedic content. Personally, I thoroughly explore my mind and my heart to find the premises to my jokes, so that process can be a little exhausting. I don't enjoy writing a joke nearly as much as I enjoy having a finished joke that I know is funny enough to elicit laughter from all the random people who come to my shows.
But I digress (I've always wanted to write "but I digress"). Thus far, my journey in the world of comedy has not led me to a life of opulence. However, my journey has been enlightening and fun. So, the next time I find myself alone in an Econolodge hotel room after doing a gig for 10 people, and I'm questioning my life decisions and wondering what went wrong, I can remember that a lot has gone right. After all, I'll probably be eating pizza, drinking a Mountain Dew, and watching SportsCenter. Nothing wrong with that.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
My first tour took place from Dec. 24-Jan.4., and this tour took Justin Berkman, "the Jew", to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. I only mention being of Jewish descent because I'm pretty sure that most American Jews don't take their first overseas trips to Beirut and Amman. Also, traveling to the Middle East caused way too much anxiety for my stereotypically neurotic Jewish parents. They assumed I was going to be staying with radical, anti-Semites, and that I would be the target of every jihad in the region.
I'm happy to report that my experiences in these countries were pleasant, and that I was not forced to wear a Jewish star when I went through customs. The tour started off in Beirut, and our first show was at the US Embassy in Lebanon. From there, we went to Jordan for two shows for the Tennessee and North Carolina National Guards, followed by one show in Adana, Turkey at an Air Force base, and then we closed out the tour with two shows in Egypt for MFOs (Multinational Forces and Observers). All of the shows were fun, but the one in Adana stood out. As a comedian, you cherish the shows like the one we had in Adana. The venue was spectacular, and we performed for a sold-out, enthusiastic crowd that appreciated comedy and treated me and my tour mates to a vigorous standing ovation at the show's conclusion.
Besides the shows, there were many other fun times on this trip. I stood in the Dead Sea. I snorkeled in the Red Sea. I took a pic next to the Mediterranean Sea. I played softball with the troops in Egypt. I rode in a Black Hawk helicopter. I rode a camel. I joked around with a Kiwi general and the US Ambassador to Lebanon. And the food was tasty!! Pita, falafel, hummus, and shwarama, oh my!
My next tour was from March 13-29. This tour was less cultural and more tropical. In order, we visited Greenland, the Bahamas, Curacao, Guantanamo, Puerto Rico and Honduras. Greenland was definitely the outlier on the trip. It was not tropical. You can only get to Thule, Greenland via a military plane, and there is nothing to see there other than snow and rocks. And fjords (google "fjords", if necessary). Once we survived the Greenland cold, the rest of the trip consisted of great weather, beaches, and tan acquisition (true story). Again, the shows were great, and I truly enjoyed all my performances.
Here were the off-stage highlights from this tour. I kayaked in the Bahamas. I drove a Coast Guard boat in Guantanamo. I did some flipping and twisting off a diving board in Honduras (still got it). I was kicked out of a casino in Puerto Rico (I believe I was asked to leave because I was giving my friend blackjack tips, and he was winning money). I ate more tasty food. Paella, ceviche, and empanadas, que rico!!!
I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to have gone on these tours. Besides the good shows, quality food, and super cool recreational activities, these were extremely educational and enriching experiences. Specifically, I learned that GTMO is much more than a detention center, but also an enormous naval base with great amenities, including a kick-ass Jamaican restaurant. Puerto Rico is an ideal vacation destination due to its culture, environment, food, weather, and you don't need a passport to go there (I hope you knew that). I became more acutely aware of how our deployed soldiers live and the many sacrifices they make to serve. I saw the effects of sequestration first-hand; budget cuts were being implemented, many of which are decreasing the quality of life for our troops. I learned about our missions in all these various countries, and talked to military folks about US foreign policy.
While I appreciated having had these opportunities, the troops were equally appreciative to have us there. At times, I feel like what I do is fairly insignificant and inconsequential, but for many of these troops, watching a comedy show is a much-needed diversion. Never have so many people come up to me after my shows and expressed such sincere gratitude to me for merely showing up to perform. I was embarrassed that the troops were thanking me since what they do is much more deserving of gratitude, so I would always thank them, too.
I look forward to doing another one of these tours in the future, and I'll try to keep you posted about all the places my comedy journey takes me. Finally, I have to acknowledge Mark Serritella, Johnny Cardinale, David Forseth, and Luchana Gatica, my fellow comedians who accompanied me on these trips. They are quality comedians and excellent traveling companions.
OK, this blog is too long. I'm done.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Thursday, April 28, 2011
As a single heterosexual man, women often question me about what I’m looking for in a lady. I’ve heard that some ladies make lists about attributes that their man should possess. I’ve always found the idea of such lists silly because no man is going to be able to meet all of the criteria on a woman’s list, and such lists ignore the powerful forces of chemistry, inexplicable lust, and sad desperation. However, here would be my list, if I were dumb enough to ever make one. I have divided this list into the physical and personality traits that I’m attracted to in a woman. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m a loser.
THE PHYSICAL- Can I just write “hot” and move on?? Actually, while some women possess undeniable beauty, men do have preferred physical types (but men seem to be more willing to disregard their “types”, especially if they’re just trying to get laid). For some reason, I tend to be more drawn to women who are tall (5’5” or above) and dark (they have at least a natural tan). There may be some subconscious eugenics reasons in play here because I’m short and my skin is a lighter shade of white. I guess my attraction may in part be due to the fact that if I am ever to procreate, I have a desire to not start a race of albino dwarves. However, I have been attracted to a few light-skinned shorties, so fear not, my melanin-challenged, vertically-challenged mujeres.
When it comes to body type, I prefer curves. I would opt to be with a woman with a Beyonce body as opposed to an aerobics instructor physique. I like boobies and booties, but my lady does not need to have big boobies and a big booty. One or the other will suffice.
Obviously, a pretty face never hurts. Certain specific facial features that I find sexy are full lips, nice skin, a sweet smile and a lovely set of teeth. Natural selection may be in play here because most meth addicts don’t possess these traits.
Generally, I (and most guys) find long hair more attractive than short hair. Long hair is more feminine, sexy, and it can be pulled. I have been with a few black women and I know not to pull a black woman’s hair unless I have express verbal and written approval to do so. Also, I am one of the few guys who likes chicks who can rock the pony tail. I think I’m unique in liking the pony tail. Well, I’m definitely unique.
PERSONALITY- Even though some women believe that men are completely superficial and wholly disregard a woman’s personality, a woman’s behavior can make her much more or much less attractive. However, if a woman is really hot, many men will just pretend like she doesn’t have a personality, brain, or feelings because guys don’t expect really hot women to be capable of anything other than being really hot. Anyways, here are the personality traits that I like in a lady.
Kind/Considerate- For me, this may be the only attribute that is absolutely mandatory for me to date/keep dating a woman. Not only do I expect my woman to be kind to me, but she has to be nice to strangers and treat waiters, customer service people, flight attendants, homeless people, and my delinquent friends with respect.
Furthermore, she has to be a woman of her word. If she says that she will meet me at 8:00 or call me back in 10 minutes, I would be appreciative if she follows through on those things. I am understanding if an unexpected situation arises causing her to flake, but if she always has an excuse, then I know that she’s generally full of shit.
Sense of Humor- I don’t expect my woman to be hilarious, but she has to find me hilarious (kinda kidding, but not really). She can’t be overly uptight and has to be willing to laugh at “inappropriate” poop, sex, and racial jokes (without actually being racist).
Intelligent- My hypothetical woman doesn’t have to be a PhD, but I would prefer if she occasionally read something other than US Weekly and could talk about something intelligently, other than what happened on “Khloe and Lamar” last week. She doesn’t need to know what “opprobrium”, “obsequious” , or “abjure” means, but she should have basic grammar and spelling skills in at least one language. I have a special attraction to women who are knowledgeable about engineering, physics, or music because I am rather ignorant when it comes to these subjects. Where are my hot physicists at???
Independent- While this may sound mean, partially I want my woman to be independent so that she doesn’t become dependent on me. However, I find it sexy for a woman to be able to balance a checkbook, cook an extravagant meal, or change a tire (I call AAA). It’s even sexier if she is able to fight her own battles and doesn’t let anybody take advantage of her (as long as she also shaves her armpits).
Low-Maintenance- I am immediately repelled by women who can always be seen sporting fake nails, expensive purses, and trendy apparel. Most of these women who I have met spend more time working on their tan and highlights than they do on acquiring any useful skills. I love ladies who look cute when they’re rockin’ flannel pajamas or a T-shirt and jeans. I like women who wake up in the morning looking somewhat similar to how they look after spending hours getting ready before a night out on the town.
I am also hesitant getting involved with a woman who is emotionally high-maintenance. If I am in a relationship with a woman, I will call/text daily, but I shouldn’t get yelled at if two hours pass without you hearing from me. I have shit to do.
Passionate/Ambitious- I like women who have goals, dreams, and aspirations. Furthermore, I like women who are working hard to make their dreams become a reality. I have met many women who want to become fashion designers, but virtually none of them have taken any steps to make that happen. By the way, just because your friends say that they like your clothes doesn’t mean that you should be a stylist or designer. Even if a woman doesn’t have a specific career goal, just being passionate about a topic or having an intense interest in something is cool.
Emotionally Stable (at least somewhat)- In my mind, all women are crazy, but there are different levels of crazy. I have come to accept that virtually all women are much more emotionally expressive than I am. I rarely get pissed off and I have never raised my voice to a woman I was dating, even though I think all of my ex-girlfriends yelled at me at some point. I can’t remember the last time I cried like a baby, but all of my exes sobbed uncontrollably around me at some point. I understand that almost any woman will cry and yell more than I do, but I don’t want to have to listen to crying or yelling on a daily basis. Try to save your crying or yelling for situations that truly warrant crying or yelling. Don’t cry because the Lady Gaga concert is sold out, and don’t yell at me because I said you look “sexy” instead of saying that you look “beautiful”.
Sexual Compatibility- Some people like to discount the importance of sex in a relationship, but as soon as you lose your virginity, sex becomes important. My ideal woman has a healthy sexual appetite (daily sex is good) and is adventurous enough that she is willing to try different positions and locations (public park, anyone??). However, she’s not so adventurous that she wants to rock the strap-on and violate me.
Well, that pretty much sums up the traits that my perfect lady possesses. Perhaps I didn’t mention that my woman needs to be trusting, loyal, supportive and fun. Of course, there’s no woman who will have everything that I desire, but now when a chick asks me what I look for in a woman, I can send her a link to this blog.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I’m sad to have to inform you all that on Wednesday I shall be having a somewhat major surgery. JB is going under the knife. For the past 11 years years I have been afflicted with a disease called ulcerative colitis. Basically, I have an inflamed colon which leads to some rather unpleasant symptoms. While there are medications that can alleviate the symptoms, the only cure for colitis is surgery. For the past six months, my condition has been rather bad (and the medications have not helped) and I have been advised that surgery is my best option at this point.
What will my surgery entail??? Well, my colon and my rectum will be removed (I’m sure some of you giggled when you read the word “rectum”), and my hopefully competent surgeon will be forming a pouch out of my small intestine, and this pouch will eventually do the work that my colon used to do. After this first surgery, I will have a temporary ileostomy. This means that I won’t be pooping out my butt. JB will have a shit bag attached to his stomach. Sexy. After 2-3 months with the shit bag, I will be having another surgery, all my internal plumbing will be connected, and I’ll be able to poop out of my butt again.
Unfortunately, there is a somewhat lengthy recovery time after the first surgery. I’m supposed to be in the hospital for about a week and full recovery is supposed to take about six weeks. So, if you don’t see me for a while, you know what’s up. When you do see me, I may look super skinny. I won’t be able to exercise for a month, so it may take some time for me to rebuild my massive biceps.
Emotionally, I’m doing just fine. The reason why I’m having this surgery is because my disease has been greatly diminishing my quality of life. For a long time, leaving my apartment has been a painful, kinda scary experience. I love life, and I am hoping that my surgeries will allow me to live life to its fullest yet again. I’m excited to be rid of this disease, and I assume that my upcoming ordeal may provide me with some new comedic material.
For those of you who are close to me who were unaware of my situation, don’t feel like my not telling you about this stuff somehow means that we’re not as close as you thought we were. Since I was diagnosed, I have rarely talked about my colitis. I’ve tried to live as normally as possible, and I’m not the type to really want or seek sympathy. Plus, most people don’t want to hear about the not-so-fun things this disease causes. The only folks who have known about my colitis were friends with me when I first got this disease, or people who have had to see me endure the effects of my ailment.
So, feel free to send good vibes my way and hope that all goes smoothly in the operating room. Also, if there is anybody you know who you think may want to know about what’s going on with me, please pass this along to them. I probably won’t get a chance to talk to everyone I would like to individually before my surgery. To my fellow comedians, I look forward to sharing the stage with you soon. This will be by far my longest time away from stand-up since I became a comedian. When I’m feeling better, make sure you have some stage-time for me.
I guess that’s about it. More than anything, dealing with my health issues has taught me to be appreciative of what I have and to take full advantage of all my blessings. So, I encourage you all to do the same. Next time you take a solid, painless, well-formed poop, be grateful. This week, I implore you all to eat good food, drink good drinks and have satisfying sex. I will be taking advantage of my morphine. Much love to everyone.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I think women, the fashion industry, and the cosmetics industry could benefit from listening to straight dudes. It saddens me that whenever I'm watching America's Next Top Model (I've seen it a time or two, but don't hold that against me) and I find one of the girls very sexy, Tyra, Janice, or Jay will tell that girl, "Oh no!! You're giving me trashy. You're giving me porn star. We're looking for top model." Porn Star looks better than top model. The women they call "top models" look like aliens or exotic animals.
On behalf of all the straight men, I want to give you women some help in the appearance department. I'm sick of the fashion faux pas that hurt my soul and limpen my weiner. Instead of sitting idly by, I am trying to be proactive and start a revolution. In taking a cue from the Obama campaign, I am writing this because I have HOPE that women can CHANGE. Also, I want to acknowledge those women who are doing the right thing and accentuating their natural beauty. On behalf of penises everywhere, I stand and salute you!
The Black Plagues of Fashion (AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Colored Contacts- Thankfully, fewer women are wearing these diabolical accessories. There was a time when colored contacts were a popular trend. There is nothing wrong with brown eyes. I like brown eyes. If you have brown eyes, you should like them, too. It hurts my soul when I see an Asian woman wearing bright blue colored contacts. Does she think that anybody assumes that she has natural bright blue eyes? No guy has ever uttered the phrase, "I like chicks who wear colored contacts." Guys usually prefer natural, unless we're talking about titties. Believe it or not, though, there is no consensus in the heterosexual male community on whether fake boobies are good or bad. But, if the titties look like a pair that do not resemble anything naturally found on a woman, even the implant fan will be disappointed. So, proudly rock your natural eye color. There is no eye color that is gross. Only colored contacts are gross.
Big Girls in Little Tops- A timeless fashion no-no. I have been attracted to a few "thick" women. Although being overweight doesn't necessarily make you a BBW (big, beautiful woman), there are many sexy, bigger ladies. While lots of men don't mind a bigger woman, very few men like a big stomach. If you are carrying a few extra lbs, feel free to show off some cleavage, but try not to wear anything that's too tight around your mid-section. If you are heavy and you do wear something that's tight in the middle, when you sit down, your stomach will look like a planet that has multiple rings orbiting Planet Hefty. Shoot, that sounded mean. My bad.
Caked-on, Bright Eyeshadow- One of the scarier make-up trends. Usually, "artsy" women or so-called make-up artists will engage in this revolting practice. No woman looks better because she has green or purple shit on her eyelids.
Fake Eyelashes- I must reiterate my point that fake is generally bad. Lately, I've seen many a woman sporting ridiculously long, fake eyelashes. I'm sure it's fun to play dress-up, and women feel glamorous when they put on the long lashes, but the fake eyelashes are creepy looking. I was talking to a girl who was wearing the fake lashes, and I couldn't stop staring at them. I was fighting the urge to reach out and yank them off. Luckily, I have a lot of self-control.
The "God Bless America" Fashion Trends (PLEASE FOLLOW!!!!!)
High-Heels- Regardless of what your face and body look like, no woman looks worse in high heels. Heels make you look longer, sexier, and more feminine. I'm a shorter dude who has dated a few taller ladies, and sometimes the tall chicks are hesitant to rock the heels because they don't want to feel too tall, or they think that the few extra inches of height will make their shorter man feel insecure. Ladies, regardless of your height, feel free to sport the heels. If your man can't take a taller woman, then he is a pussy and you need to find yourself a confident dude.
Jean Skirts/Any Skirt- I singled out jean skirts only because I have a couple of friends that like to yell out, "Jean Skirt!" at any woman they see dressed in one. These guys may be juvenile and objectifying women, but their jean skirt line always makes me giggle. Please forgive me. Skirts are always sexy. They show off the legs and the booty. Shorter skirts are obviously sexier, but once the skirt gets so short that butt cheek is visible, you are gonna look a little scandalous. I don't mind scandalous, but scandalous attracts a lot of attention, and maybe not the attention that you're seeking.
Those Huge Stomach Belts- I've noticed that a lot of women are wearing these big belts across their stomachs. Personally, I like these belts, even though whenever I see them, in my head I'm saying, "It's a Gut-B-Gone". The big belts flatten a woman's stomach (if that's her problem area) and they accentuate the boobies. Very nice. However, while the end result looks good, believe it or not, men are smart enough to understand the stomach belt trick.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed Justin Berkman's take on women's fashion. Those who know me know that I'm not the most fashionable dude. I wear whatever is comfortable, I rarely go shopping, and my socks are usually not matching. But, I am very heterosexual, believe it or not. Oh, feel free to add to my list of good or bad fashion trends in the comments section. I'm curious what you think. Now, I'm gonna try to get a job as the first straight dude fashion commentator on E!