Jeff Lawrence

Gay Jewish Brooklyn Nets fan recovering addict Stand Up Comedian Need to know more?

10 Reasons Why NY Sucks (from a native New Yorker)

1) There are no New Yorkers. 

Everyone is from somewhere else.  If I move to Florida and stay three months I’m not a Floridian.  You are not a New Yorker.  New Yorkers have fled the city en masse because they are smarter than everyone that comes here. The brilliant New Yorkers outsmarted everyone.  They went ahead and died.   

2) The Yankees can’t buy a championship any more. 

Even the FUCKING NY Yankees are on a budget and can’t afford free agents. Gone are the good old days when we had an off year and George Steinbrenner would fire everyone and then buy every free agent over the Winter.  Come October, we were parading down 5th Avenue yelling “The Red Sox Sucks”.   Why take it out on the Red Sox? Rivalry? Nah, cause deep down inside we know that Boston is a better town to live in than this shit hole. 

3) No Pets Allowed. 

Except cockroaches, mice, and rats, everyone has them.  I paid a premium and moved into a new building for the sole reason of no living things. No Pets Allowed on the lease.  I was sick of living in a tenement building and having cockroaches crawl on me at night, literally.  There were none….for about 5 years.  Then a Buddhist Temple moved into the ground floor space and started feeding the pigeons, feeding the rats, cooking food that smelled like burnt gerbils and athletes foot, and voila! cockroaches AND rats and pigeons.  No mice cause the rats eat them.  They do that by the way, just google it.   And if you want to find a place that allows dogs, your less than 2% vacancy chance of an apartment just went to .0007%…good luck. 

4) The Mayor always sucks. 

Doesn’t matter who, Ed Koch was the last great Mayor.  That’s because he was a closet homosexual and we all KNEW itAnd that made him human.  He checked me out once HARD at a restaurant, the only time my poor Jewish parents took me out to a hip place, and my Mother leaned over and said “I think he likes you”.  He did, he liked everyone, except people that littered. He hated litter, all we gays do. 

5) The expensive rent. 

And I’m talking about 10 years ago.  Now, it’s just ransom money.  You pay, and pay and pay, until you bleed and there is nothing left.  But life is so hard, you still got to go out the expensive meal, the expensive club, and that’s what credit cards are for.  And I used them… a lot.  I was in debt for over 30 of my 40 years living here.  It got so bad I would call Chase and they would pick up and say “Hi Jeff!” You owe,  $41,753….and 52 cents.  I finally got out of debt, and next I’ll tell you how you can too!

6) You Stop Doing Everything! 

That’s right,, the only way to get ahead in NYC is to stop going to the expensive restaurant, never rent a car, do your laundry yourself, carry your tupperware lunch everywhere or live on one giant Chipotle burrito a day.  You get “sick” on your best friends birthday so you don’t have to buy a gift”  Christmas presents? forget it.  Radiohead tickets? Got a grand?  When you leave your towels hanging in the bathroom for an extra week to save on the laundry bill, you know you’re living in NYC.  

7) Everyone wants More! 

Not just the fat guy on line in front of you in Chipotle, everyone.  And God forbid you live better than your friends, and can afford the new laptop and new flat screen,

8) IT FEELS like everyone around you is wealthy. 

That’s cause everyone is…except you.  NYC is really an experiment conducted by aliens from a far away planet.  You are the subject.  The rest of the New Yorkers are the aliens.  The experiment is designed to see how much you can take.  And you think about leaving all the time, but you can’t.  Because they control your mind and if you left the experiment will end.  

9) You use Whole Foods as a pickup place. 

I’ll admit it, the men are hotter there than any gay bar, and I can browse, the isles are wide. No sweaty guys trying to rip me off on drugs.  You can spot the vegans and avoid them. Actually you can’t

10) Everyone is into really bad HIPSTER food. 

Seriously, how did this city get the reputation as the best food in the world?  Just about everything is hipster inedible. I don’t know know what drugs people take to come up with a taco served on Naan Bread with braised shoulder lamb, shredded polar beer ears, batteries, shirachi, and parmesan.  Not just any parmesan, imported parmesan from the Antoninino valley.  Google it, it doesn’t exist.

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: COMEDY

I do think the great thing about FB is sometimes you post a simple thing like "I can't sleep" and so many people come to the rescue. Every remedy recommended I've tried, perhaps too much. What is so ironic, is the only thing I need to knock me out like a zombie is one hit of weed. That's it, one hit. And THAT is my drug of choice, I'm the hardest of addicts and cannot pick up no matter what. Staring out the ceiling pondering the meaning of life as the hours tick from 7AM to 8AM to 9AM is the worst feeling in the world. I never ever had a problem sleeping until I got into comedy. And I believe it won't go away until I leave. Ironically, whenever I'm on vacation I sleep normally, so clearly it's a stress and anxiety issue. I'm sure I'll get crucified by saying being a stand up comedian is overrated; NEVER criticize the CRAFT. But for so many comics it's life or death and I don't want it to be that for me. It should be something you love, enjoy, like, or just leave.

I definitely see stand up as being a part of my life in the years ahead, and not my entire life that defines me as a person. People get so excited when you tell them you're a comedian, they light up, it's a nice feeling. But everyone adds "at least you're doing what you love". If every comedian loved stand up then why are comedians as a whole so much more cynical, prone to addiction and psychosis? Just google it, don't argue with me. Is stand up really the crack cocaine of all art forms? A pro comedian once said to me "I love being on stage, but what I have to do to get there just isn't worth it". That resonated with me. It's not the time on stage that is grueling, that is the release of the tension, the reward of the laughter, the reason we all do it. it's the offstage business, marketing, politics, backstabbing, promotion, mistrusting, maneuvering, stealing, ass kissing and general exhaustion of trying to get ahead or at least maintain your place that takes it's toll. Not to mention road trips and the luscious Holiday Inn buffets. As Marc Maron said, if you want to be comedian, just know that you're in for a lifetime of heartache.

If you're new, everything is pollyana as you sling back beers with your friends in bars as you rise the comedy ranks...enjoy it while it lasts. I'm sure people reading this will say "why don't you just leave"? For the same reason you won't leave: "No fuckin way are you taking my place after all these years of work!" So onward I march planning gigs, road trips, business, yes business. Someone called me a "businessman" the other day. Damn right, if you're not, good luck to you in show BUSINESS, you will fuckin' drown if you don't know how to promote yourself and not let people take advantage of you.

Just like addiction, I take comedy one day at a time. Today I'll write, do some gigs, watch some tape, plan my calendar, work on my book, (yes you will want to read it) try to be of service, not be swayed by negativity, and at the end of the day, hopefully get some much needed sleep.

30 Days Sober and 11 years of My Mother Passing

As I lay in bed at 6AM I realize that I'm not going to go to sleep tonight. Not even the least bit tired, and then it hit me; it was 11 years ago today that my mother passed away. I was much closer with my Dad, but my mother's death perhaps signaled the end of family for me. My mother was not a good parent by any measure. She often yelled at me; told me I shouldn't have been born, left me with caretakers that were abusive, locked me in closets when I refused to go to school, and purposely didn't feed me. She left me alone to cook my own lunch when I was about 9 years old and I set the kitchen on fire; I think we were kicked out of the building because we moved months later. I always hated her and told her so since I can remember. We once got a dog at our Summer home which I wanted more than anything in the world, and after three days she gave it away. I wanted desperately to take piano lessons and she refused. I used to run away in the neighborhood in search of pianos; often the cops were sent looking for me. Sometimes I would just call them for no reason. I turned to drugs when I was 12, and stayed addicted for 30 years; many of those years we barely spoke.

When I told her I was gay, she said "no you're not" and "how could you do this to me?". She never worked, she never cooked, never helped me with school. She complained that my Dad didn't make enough money even though he worked his ass off his whole life. She spent all of the family's money on herself, fur coats, jewelry, whatever she could get. I always told her when she got old I'd stick her in a nursing home and throw away the key. But as she grew elderly, something shifted; I practiced compassion and forgiveness. I moved in with her and became her primary caretaker. It's ALWAYS the gay son that sacrifices. I also began to understand mental illness. It was a therapist friend that explained to me that my Mom was psychotic. I remember she always took pills, lots of pills. They were prescribed so we didn't think much of it. I remember when I was 12, taking all of her pills, I think they were anti depressants. I drank all the Nyquil, cleaned out the bar, smoked cigarettes, and smoked weed pretty much daily since I can remember; and graduated to freebasing, LSD, Quaaludes, you name it; I'm lucky to be alive.

When my Mom grew old and fragile we became closer. She came to my 40th birthday; a gala affair that had Boy George and Pee Wee Herman stop by. She said it was the most fun she ever had. She would clip out articles about how gay people had higher IQ's, and were higher educated and leave them on my desk. My therapist would tell me that's her way of saying I love you. I guess when her time came I realized that you only get one mother, and sometimes, we don't get to choose. But, she was still my Mother and I realized she did the best she could. At her funeral there was only one relative, and I chose not to tell my friends; I wanted it over with. It was like Elanor Rigby. After her burial a cousin told me that my Grandmother, her mother whom I never met, was evil, and that she never had a chance in life. She was made to care for my Grandfather at the age of 8, and was traumatized by his terminal illness. In life we get to see people, but we never get to see their past, and what made them the person they are today. For some, just being alive is the best they can do.

I have 30 days of sobriety today. It may not seem like a lot, but for me it's the equivalent of 30 years. Every day I'm sober is a victory because of where I came from. I smoked weed morning noon and night for 29 years. I never thought anything was wrong, it was just how I coped. It was the only way I could be at peace with myself, my family, my upbringing, my sexuality and my struggle. So the next time you complain about your Mother don't be surprised if I punch you in the face. Your mother is the reason you are alive today, and if she isn't perfect, well you're not alone. One thing I always did no matter what, was take my Mom out on Valentine's day to one of the cities best restaurants. It was painful, but damn I had some good chef connections; it happens when you're gay and have the best weed in town. So take your Mom out this year, buy her some flowers, tell her you love her, and know that no matter what she is doing the best she could do. You only get one Mother, and if she isn't perfect, she is still the perfect mother for you.

 

 

 

This is What Marriage Equality Feels Like For a Gay Man

“Gay marriage has been legalized across the United States, but there's still work to be done.”

Every time we gays achieve a milestone, and this is perhaps the biggest, I feel a little empty inside. I know I'm supposed to jump around and celebrate, and everyone is congratulating me, but that's not necessarily how I feel.

Don't get me wrong. I've been fighting for gay rights (marriage wasn't even in the equation back then) and donating whatever time and money I can for over 25 years. I think what hits the hardest is that life was very different in the mid to late 80's, and almost all of my gay friends from that era are dead. AIDS, drug abuse, suicides, I've witnessed it all. I was deeply closeted for so long -- not because I wasn't bold and brave or proud, but because I'd lose my job, my family, my friends and more. At least that's what I was made to believe. I once told a boss in LA in the arts I was gay. It took a lot of courage back then, and she replied "no you're not."

I had two lives and put a lot of work into them both. There was "straight" Jeff, who had a girlfriend, was the front man for an LA rock band and worked his ass off to get record deals while keeping his cover. And there was gay Jeff who ran around weekends with my other closeted friends having fun but always looking over my shoulder.

I moved to LA to get away from my straight life, family, frat brothers and friends, and vividly remember standing on Santa Monica Blvd. waiting on line to get into gay bars. People in cars would roll by each and every time and yell, "FAGGOTS!" I would wear a baseball hat and always look away. That kind of stuff stays with you forever. Most of my friends there were figuring out my sexuality -- hell, my girlfriend walked in on me with a guy, and she still didn't leave me. I was a rock singer, so she dealt with it. But it was a quiet support.

I identified as "bi", which is just a bridge to being comfortably gay, until about 30. When I couldn't take it anymore I came back to NYC, and discovered ecstasy and the gay nightlife where I would frolic for 10 years as a bodybuilding stud and a dealer until I bottomed out on drugs. When I cleaned up I decided to devote my life to making others laugh, and help others to do the same. I had spent too much time in a very dark world. I've had some fun relationships, but never settled down with Mr. Right. It's tough for anyone gay or straight, but really tough for me for many reasons including my childhood intimacy issues. I try to find happiness in the simple things, and take each day as it comes.

It is so disturbing to see the entitled gay youth that feel this is their birthright. Throughout our history in America, this is really the first time where the majority really doesn't care who you sleep with, at least publicly, and that is a beautiful thing. The rest of the world will follow, for, just like being left handed, about 10 percent of the world is gay. You can use your right hand, but it just isn't natural.

There are people from my generation that have been out since their adolescence and have found happy relationships, even long term marriages. I am happy for them, although they are few and far between. I think of the times I went to NYU in the mid 80's, lived in a frat house in the Village, and picked up the NY Post one day; the headlines said "AIDS". Then I saw men walking around wasting away, looking sick. I was very scared, even terrified, but ultimately lucky. My therapist once said being closeted kept me alive, and I'd have to agree. That was a shocker, watching AIDS as it unfolded; West Village restaurants were going out of business because many believed they could catch it from unwashed plates or toilet seats. I remember Reagan sweeping it under the rug. It was a gay problem, he would say, and most people didn't care. There was no education, no meds, no cure and no hope.

Today didn't just happen, and it certainly didn't happen because of politicians. It happened because good people everywhere died needlessly, and the other good people fought for their rights, and continue to fight. Social change takes time, and it takes a movement. The same evolution of our society now prohibits parents hitting their kids, gives women equal rights, fights for the ethical treatment of animals, fights against racism and police brutality and for a society based on fairness and equality.

So whether you donated money and time for this cause, or if you simply just don't hate people based on their skin color, age, wealth, education, sexuality or religion, you are responsible for this day. It takes a majority of straight people to make life equal for a minority of gay people. So thanks, everyone.

I have always found my peace being single, I've always struggled mightily in relationships and I subscribe to the notion that happiness comes from within. I no longer spend endless time looking for Mr. Right. I try to be the best that I can, and find the Mr. Right in me. My friends always say "you need to find a guy", but it's they who are usually single and are projecting.

Today's victory has been fought since the evolution of man, we are just privileged to live in this timeline. The young gays need to understand there are many who fought and many who died who will never see this day. So appreciate it, and have gratitude. It is not because you voted a certain way, it is because humanity is always evolving.

We are like an evolved ant farm, just doing what they do. Work, eat, sleep, reproduce and fight for survival through building a community. When others around you are happy, you are a happier person as well. Now there are other battles. Laws don't change hatred. There is not one less homophobic person today than yesterday. In fact, there may be more. There are the small and the weak who are threatened by this and will act out accordingly.

I hope those who are coupled and now have the chance to marry celebrate wildly. And for those who are single and gay, there is finally hope to lead a "normal" life.

Advice for new comics breaking into Stand Up Comedy

To all new comics trying to break into stand up comedy, hats off to you. You are brave to try this even once. The road is long and arduous, but if you just keep getting up and never quit you will succeed. I started at about 40 years old, and was told I have no chance. I had been a performer my whole life, and I just wouldn't buy into that. I opened for years, featured, and finally I am now headlining; on the road, in the city, private events, and even foreign countries. I will still host if the pay is decent, and I will still feature even if in my heart I know I'm stronger than the headliner. I was willing to do anything to get on stage: produce, bark, design websites and flyers, trade, beg, rent a car at a loss, travel, pay, negotiate, live in debt for years, and even pray.

I just never quit, even though I think about quitting every day. Life has got to offer more than being surrounded by the drunk people I seek approval from nightly. What keeps me going is the laughter of those around me, and every show I try to make this about my audience, and not about me. I try, I'm not perfect, but I keep getting up, and eventually things take care of themselves. I thank everyone who gave me a spot and anyone who ever believed in me. Because, and trust me on this, most people won't believe in you. Many will be your friends, but with a little success you may find that many aren't. I truly believe If I can do this you can too, but you most devote your life to it. It's not a job, it's not a career, it's a lifestyle, and it's not for everyone. Whatever your goals, I wish you the very best of luck and success in your comedy journey.