COMEDIAN TOM COTTER FROM ‘AMERICA’S GOT TALENT’ – THE INTERVIEW

My friend and first runner up from ‘America’s Got Talent’ took time out to fill me in on the show, talk about how the exposure has changed his life and share some war stories from the long bumpy road of standup comedy…

Tom Cotter and Joan Rivers roast the AGT judges at the finale. Watch the clip to see how the The Big Boys do it.

Tom Cotter and Joan Rivers roast the AGT judges at the finale. Watch the clip to see how the The Big Boys do it.

Tom, Thanks for taking the time to do my Crazytown interview.
Honored. You’re confusing me with someone who has something else to do. It’s Sunday morning, what else am I gonna be doing?

That’s true. What time were you shows last night?
We do one show at 7:30pm six nights a week.

Your shows are at The Palazzo in Vegas, same company as The Venetian, does this mean that Al (My Man) and I can just drop in, casually mention your name and drink for free?
That will not get you a beverage, that will get you escorted off of the property.

Who are you performing with?
It’s The America’s Got Talent Live Show with The Olate Dogs, Joe Castillo (sand artist), William Close (earth harpist), Light Wire Theater and Spencer Horsman (escape artist).

How has your life changed personally and/or professionally since all of the AGT exposure and coming in second?
First of all, the negative is I’m in Vegas doing a show and I’m away from my wife and kids, but that’s what I signed on to do. The positive is, that, yeah, your corporate price goes up, your college price goes up and your club price goes up. This is my little 15 minutes, it may only be 5 minutes, but I’m trying to capitalize on it and it’s hard to capitalize on it when you’re busy doing 6 shows a week.

What was the hardest part about participating in a talent contest like AGT?
Well, you’re comparing apples and oranges. Who’s to say that a sand artist is any better than light wire theater? Who’s to say that the earth harpist is any more entertaining than Olate Dogs? Or vice versa. In a comedy competition, even that, I think, is skewed, cause there are different kinds of comedy. This isn’t just comedy, this is so many different, eclectic talents thrown into a mixing bowl and you have to pick out the one you think is the best. I got very lucky this year, btw, I’m ADD, I’ll go off on some things here and you can just wrangle me back. This is the first year that 2 comics made it to the semi finals. Me and Jacob Williams, the other comic out of Chicago, we both got lucky because we did the show this year. This year was much better for comedians because Pierce (Morgan) wasn’t on. Pierce hated comics but this year he was replaced by Howard Stern who is very much a fan of comedians. So, instead of having just one ally on the judges panel, which was Howie Mandel, we now had two. We got very lucky in that this was the first year we auditioned, the first year we got on the show and this year it was much more friendly to comics. Getting back to your question, it’s very difficult being in a competition with such eclectic acts. What’s your cup of tea? Maybe William is your cup of tea or maybe comedy makes you hate tea.

Sharon Osbourne and Howard Stern have completely different, incredibly loyal, huge fan bases. Both applauded You, they had really great things to say about You. Do you think that’s going to have a big effect on your career? Being endorsed by both Sharon and Howard, picking up an incredibly mixed fan base that includes fans on both ends of the spectrum?
You have to go into it knowing that you have to appeal to such a huge / broad swath of America. There was a guy name Horse who just got kicked in the groin, that was his talent and Howard loved him. And all of his minions loved him. But he was only one judge, he was only appealing to that one jack ass kind of demographic and so of course he was eliminated. Whereas the other acts that moved on to the semi finals and the finals were much more broadly appealing. It’s like when we work on a cruise ship. You have to realize that you’re performing in front of little kids, people in their 90′s and everyone in between. So you can’t just go out there and do college material or just marriage material. You have to go out there and do material that’s going to appeal to a wide base. The judges all represent their own nitch and you want to appeal to all three, not one or two but all three because if you don’t you’re not going to get in. You need to have all three judges on your side. In years past that was the trouble because Pierce didn’t like comedians so you had to be extraordinary to get past him. It’s amazing how much influence the judges have on their followings because you listen to their comments and if they annoint you then their demographics are all going to follow you. However, if they throw you under the bus you’re screwed.

At your shows can you tell when you have an audience of Stern fans, Osbourne fans or general fans of the show?
There are some rabid AGT fans. We’re in our third week now, the first week and a half it was huge fans of the show. Now they’re fans of the show and it’s more people who happen to be in Vegas and they’re familiar with the show so they come see us. Sometimes you’ll be shocked, a couple in their 40′s or 50′s dressed to the 9′s will come up to you after a show and it turns out their Stern fans. Or they’ll chat with you after the show and mention how much they love Sharon and you realize they’re Osbourne fans.

If you weren’t a standup, what would you be?
The whole thing was for me to go to law school, I was pre-law in college, I was a political science major in college, during the summers I was a cop, I clerked for a judge, I did all that crap and then I took the LSAT’s (law school admission tests) then I crashed and burned and then my long shot law schools became distant long shots and my back ups became more reality so I was slightly disgruntled and said to my dad “I want to get this out of my system before I go to school. That was 26 years ago. If I stayed on the course I had from freshman year of high school I would have gone on to be a lawyer but that did not happen and I’m quite delighted that did not happen. If I bailed on this (standup comedy) now I would go into sales, I’m assuming or something to put bread on the table.

Have you ever doubted being a standup as a choice in life?
Countless times. Almost weekly if not daily.

What will you be doing when you’re 60? 70?
My mother died at 53 and my Dad’s got colon cancer so I’m hoping I’m around at those ages. If I am I will always do standup. I go to The Friar’s Club and I see these guys in their late 100′s telling jokes. Right up ’til the end they still perform because they love doing it. They don’t need to, a lot of them are WWII vets and they have a pension and they don’t really need it for the income but they love being a ham. I know I’m always going to do that as long as I’m physically able to even if it’s just a hobby. So, I don’t know what I’ll be doing but I know that I’ll at least be telling jokes for my own amusement if nothing else.

What was your worst hell gig?
Wow. There have been a lot of them. It’s hard to nail down one. I did a breast cancer benefit on Long Island at a country club where the sound sucked so bad nobody could here me. Maybe just the first two tables up front, but nobody else could hear me so they were in conversation and it was the same time the silent auction was going on and I’ve never walked off stage before, I had been at this 20 years when that happened, and I walked off stage. I had never done that, I had never surrendered. That hurt, that I had to surrender that stage. That one hurt and another horrible one was a prom show cruise around the statue of liberty. It was all kids in prom clothes from different high schools that hated each other and wanted to fight each other. There were two microphones, a good one and a bad one and the dj had the good one and he gave me the bad one that kept cutting out every second. He introduced me, the kids who didn’t want to be there started scowling at me because thy couldn’t hear me and the dj started heckling me on the good microphone saying how much I sucked and I couldn’t come back because I had no microphone. That was a horrible death. The worst part of that was when the show was over I was out on a boat in the middle of New York Harbor and I couldn’t swim ashore. There was nowhere to go hide. I had to just stand on the deck as kids in prom dresses walked by whispering that I sucked.

If you could go back in time and make those hell gigs disappear, like they never happened, would you?
No. That’s valuable scar tissue. It helped me become teflon and brush off much less worse things that have happened to me in my career.

Where can people look for you in the upcoming year? In rehab. Or in councelling. My AGT dates and other tour dates are on my website.

Most importantly, does all of this success mean the next time we double date at Peter Lugar’s dinner is on you?
I’m sorry, you’re breaking up. We must have a bad connection.

"I lost to this guy" - Tom Cotter

“I lost to this guy” – Tom Cotter

 

 

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SPARE BENEFIT SHOW at THE COMEDY and MAGIC CLUB in HERMOSA BEACH!

I don’t usually publicize my shows unless they’re legitimately raising funds for good causes, have a strong line up of talent that I can honestly recommend or are at a non-douchebaggy venue. Well THIS Fantabulous show hit the trifecta:

CALL 310-377-2998 FOR RESERVATIONS

THURSDAY OCTOBER 17TH at 8pm 
THE COMEDY & MAGIC CLUB
1018 Hermosa Ave, HERMOSA BEACH, CA
ALL PRO LINEUP OF LA’S BEST COMEDIANS
raising funds for
SPARE (Save Pound Animals thru Rescue & Education) 

The perfect gift for Nana! Get your holiday shopping out of the way!

Buy one of my T’s at this show and ALL proceeds will go directly to SPARE
 xoxo

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INSIDER PASS: ATLANTIC CITY

If you’re headed to Atlantic City and you want to venture outside of the casino matrix, there’s more to do than just pawn your gold…Seriously!
The first time I went to a casino town I had envisioned wealthy folk in tuxedos (owned, not rented) at baccarat tables sipping martinis (shaken, not stirred). If this is your idea of Atlantic City, let me give you a heads up, you may be a little surprised.

Tourist websites forget to tell you that you’ll be surrounded by this:

Atlantic City…or as I call it, “Trickle Down Theory My Ass”

I don’t have time for a Marxist diatribe right now, let’s just say that it’s a city of extremes.  If you find yourself wondering what lies beyond your playground at The Revel or you need to take a break from losing your oldest kid’s college tuition at The Borgata (it’s ok, we all know he’s no rocket scientist and isn’t cut out for college anyway) here are some great finds your concierge won’t tell you about:

Everyone told me this is Sinatra's old hangout. I now believe them.

Everyone told me that Angelo’s was Sinatra’s old hangout. I now believe them.

Atlantic City locals have repeatedly told me, “You have to go to Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern.”  After years of working the casinos I finally got around to going and I have to say, they are right. If you want some of the best food available at the best prices then Angelo’s isn’t an option, it’s a must.  The moment we walked into the tavern we were hit by the warmth and charm of the bar. We let the friendly staff (Angelo’s granddaughter, niece and nephew) know that we’d be having more than just drinks and we were guided through a small wooden door that looked like a broom closet or WC into the restaurant and back to 1957. We ate and drank seriously great food and house wine like swine for a fraction of what we’d pay at a casino restaurant. The clientele was very mixed, always a good sign – locals, blue collar, white collar and even a table of models who behaved themselves.

Models can be obnoxious in their own element (NYC, LA, Milan) but here at Angelo’s they know they’re seriously outnumbered so they keep the attitude in check…

Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood and regular schmos have packed into the maze of small dining rooms behind the tavern door at Angelo’s – perfect place for a private party, btw.

The Irish Pub on St. James Place at the Boardwalk is the real deal. Great food, fantastic prices, and a relaxed, beautiful pub atmosphere. Blackboard specials are $8.50, dinner is served until 3:00am and late night food goes until 6:00am. Like most of the places I’m recommending, The Irish Pub is a great oasis but you should get there via the boardwalk instead of the streets and do NOT walk there alone at night.  It’s right off of the boardwalk but you can’t be stupid. It’s a perfect set up for ‘have nots’ who want to roll stupid drunk tourists, don’t be one. Save that shit for your hotel room or a chain restaurant in one of the casinos.

It’s ok to be a drunk asshole in a casino, your bill has been padded with a drunken idiot fee…

The Irish Pub is sketchy on the outside but warm and fuzzy on the inside! Actually, this goes for most good local joints in Atlantic City.

If you’re in the mood for a seriously great sandwich go to White House Sub Shop. I don’t like to blaspheme, but some claim it rivals Pat’s or Geno’s subs in Philly.

If you want to skip the local adventure but still get the great sandwich, they also have a location right inside The Trump Taj Mahal.

The prices at Veggie Grille reflect the fact that they’re the only game in town for vegans. Luckily, most of them have trust funds.

 If you’re vegan I don’t know what the hell you’re doing in Atlantic City, but there’s one place that offers vegan food: The Veggie Grille Pizzeria Restaurant. The only game in town,  it’s small, off the beaten path and has a gritty sub shop atmosphere. It’s not entirely  vegan but they do offer some choices.  It was pretty good, pretty fresh but it’s not your LA or NYC vegan dining experience, just get those images right out of your head and remember that beggars can’t be choosers.

Located right next to Veggie Pizzeria on Albany Ave, Santori’s offers fresh produce at great prices. Don’t bother looking anywhere else.

 If you want to stock up on food for your hotel suite or condo rental you will be up for a challenge. I strongly suggest you stock up on goods before you’re in Atlantic City. I usually drive in from Newark airport or New York City and make a pit stop 25 minutes away in Hamilton, NJ. Once you get any closer to AC the pickins’ become much slimmer and overpriced. I have no issue blowing good money on well made cocktails or a great dining experience but spending $22.00 for an $11.00 bottle of wine in a casino wineshop irritates me more than the cast of Jersey Shore. Once you’ve stocked up the only game in town to replenish your produce is Santori’s Produce.

A good late night hang is Tony’s Baltimore Bar and Grill. The bar is open 24hrs, food is good and served until 3:00am and I’ve never been to a dive bar with so many decent wines by the glass. Grab a glass of Mondavi pinot grigio for $5.50. The waitresses seem like they’ve worked there for decades and they have a certain “Don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you” style of service.  I have no issue with this as it was also my style during my waitressing days.

Tony’s Baltimore Bar and Grill – If this seedy little bar makes you nervous just walk through to the Mom and Pop dining room in the back.

And last but not least, You should find a way to get yourself into Chef Vola’s:

I’ve never been here, but I’m telling you to go.

This BYOB, family owned, italian restaurant is literally in the basement of a house. Reservations must be made weeks in advance and even then you may end up waiting for your table. Everyone I know who has been to Chef Vola’s says it’s well worth the wait and the cramped-grandma’s-basement atmosphere. I haven’t dined here yet because every night I’ve spent in Atlantic City I’ve had shows and I simply refuse to rein myself in while experiencing Vola’s. If I’m going to wait weeks for a table and be cramped into a small basement for this highly touted dinner I have no intention of practicing self control…I’ll get there one of these visits.

Me in all my elegance outside of Chef Vola’s. Believe it or not, THIS is the hardest restaurant to get into in Atlantic City.

 Ok, I’ve been heavy handed on the italian food but that’s what they do in Atlantic City and they do it well. There’s more history, stuff to do and great food to experience but that will have to be another post. In the meantime, here are a few more things to check out: 

The Tanger Outlets – Not the most impressive outlet shopping but a nice change of pace from the drinking/overeating/gambling you’ll be doing. I find the sportswear shops (Nike, Puma etc.) and the Famous Footwear Outlet to consistently have the best finds. Most of the other ‘higher end’ store merchandise screams “Outlet”.  If you’re serious shopper you may want to head over to:

The Pier Shops at Caesar’s – This silly overpriced mall was supposed to bring back high end to the boardwalk. It may have breathed some new life into the area but it’s now in chapter 11. Slightly depressing to walk this mall as shops are being closed down but serious shoppers can take advantage. Higher end stores like BCBGMAXAZRIA and JUICY have constant sales and added discounts just to keep their merchandise moving. You’ll find better deals than you will at most of the outlets down the street.

The Jitney is an easy / cheap way to travel up and down Atlantic City but I would not take it alone at night (unless you’re attracted to people with teardrop tattoos, if this is the case, go for it). It’s best to travel outside of the casinos with at least one other person, preferably an even larger group. You can always grab a taxi at any casino or major restaurant as well. Night time travel in Atlantic City is not the time to count pennies; your health insurance company will just say the gash in your forehead from the mugging was a pre-exitsing and refuse to pay for stitches.

Lucy The Elephant – Six stories high, Lucy is a 131 year old (8 years older than the eiffel tower) giant elephant building/roadside attraction. Kids, history buffs and anyone with a sense of curiosity love Lucy. Guided tours up to Lucy’s top are offered every half hour. I suggest you go during nice weather as it gets quite windy and it’s a great place to lollygag.

Everybody Loves Lucy!

Lastly, Mr. Pigeon:

The view from the comedy condo is SOOOOOO much better than the comedy condo itself…

Have fun!

 

 

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE PROLETARIAT

Times are tough so here are some tips to help regular folk get the most bang for their travel bucks…
As a standup comedian, I pretty much travel for a living. On my last flight I should have been writing jokes but instead decided to ‘check out’ with some sauvignon blanc and magazines. I always enjoy reading the travel tips from fashion editors, super models and A-list actors. They read funnier than most sitcom scripts. The suggestions I’ve picked up from these well-meaning-yet-completely-out-of-touch-with-reality-celebutants are about as realistic as thinking that Mitt Romney is a “job creator.”

There’s the actress who never travels without LA MER eye cream to counteract the drying effect flying can have on skin. At $165.00 for .05 oz, she neglects to mention that you’d better be willing to work a pole, move some meth or start your own ponzi scheme to pay for it.

You can’t suggest people buy this…

When the economy is here…

it’s in the shitter folks, our economy is in the shitter….

There’s the magazine editor who simply can’t travel anywhere without her “comfy” cashmere wrap to keep her both warm and fashionable. Yours truly looked up said cashmere wrap and it’ll set you back $500.00 (before tax). Looks like that family of five in Africa you thought about helping is shit out of luck. They won’t be getting those three square meals for the next 18 months, but you’ll be looking fine and feeling comfy.

And of course, what self respecting dude would board the plane without a $700.00 luxury duffle bag? Down to earth actor boy swears the compartments inside are practical. Phew! Thanks for doing all the research for us!

Yes, actor boy, $700.00 on a duffle bag is quite practical for most people. They can also just pick up some supermodelling work on the side for extra cash if things are a little tight. 

Ok, I admit, I’m class baiting. Who doesn’t enjoy a little class baiting from time to time? I’m being silly, I know and I’m the first to admit that I love the finer things in life whenever I can get my hands on them. But I am acutely aware that the finer things are way out of reach for most people on the planet.

I’ve been very lucky. My business is risky and unpredictable but it has brought me around the world and occasionally dropped me in some pretty swanky spots. So, I’ve decided to share a few of my very own travel trips, for the regular schmo. Hopefully they’ll help you cut a few corners and make your travels easier:

  • When renting cars, don’t get ripped off by the car rental company trying to sell you unnecessary insurance. Yes, they’re super friendly behind that counter but it’s because they’re scamming you into buying extra insurance that you don’t need. They use fear tactics and will give you that “you’ll be sorry” look when you pass. If you don’t stand strong and hold your ground with these sheysters that “bargain” car rental you found online for $19.99 per day quickly turns into $62.00 per day when you leave the counter and you have no idea how it happened. If you own a car, call your insurer to find out exactly what your car insurance policy covers on rentals. You can also call your credit card companies and ask what they cover on car rental insurance.
  • The ‘pre-paid’ gas option that the rental car agencies offer is also a total rip off 99% of the time.
  • Always have a GPS when traveling in uknown areas for vacation or work. If you don’t have a portable one you can bring, that’s the one extra you should absolutely purchase from the rental company. (Of course, when traveling in Italy, getting lost is half the fun. You may end up somewhere even better than your intended destination, so I suppose you could skip it in Italy).
  • Oil of Olay makes dry facial cleansing cloths that take the hassle out of bringing soap or liquids. Just add water to these little tissues and toss them when you’re done.
  • Ok, I know it’s vacation and you want to feel like a Kardashian, but hotels will charge a fortune to do your laundry. If you’re on an extended trip, I highly recommend Purex 3-in-1 sheets. Like the Olay dry cloths for your face, these are a dry sheet containing both soap and fabric softener that are activated once you toss them into the washing machine. Throw a few of these suckers in your suitcase. They’ll keep your suitcase smelling fresh and clean (you know you’ll overpack no matter what I say but you’ll manage to wear that one shirt 75% of the time) and using them will save you enough money to alleviate the guilt of drinking $18 martinis at a rooftop bar.

    These little suckers will wash your clothes, keep your suitcase from smelling like an old age home AND save you enough money for those $18.00 martinis.

I apologize for saying you want to feel like a Kardashian, I know you’re better than that. 

Last, but not least, if you’re traveling with your dog, Drury Hotels are a tremendous bargain. I drove cross country with Man and Dog and found our canine was not only tolerated but welcomed at the hotel, without added doggie fees. They also have a fantastic ” 5:30 Kickback” every night at 5:30 pm, offering FREE hor d’oevres and beverages of the adult variety! They’re motto is “The extras aren’t extra,” and they actually mean it. They are primarily located in the south and the midwest.

They love My Dog, so I love them.

Happy Travels!

 

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GET YOUR ASS TO HONG KONG

My ass was dragged to Hong Kong for work five years ago and I’ve been addicted ever since. I strongly suggest you drag your ass there at the first opportunity. Here are just a few of the great things to do, see and buy in this insane metropolis. 

If I had only one sentence to describe Hong Kong it would be “Like New York on steroids.”

My good friend and fellow comedian Du Kirpalani grew up in Hong Kong so I enlisted his help creating a ‘must do’ list for Hong Kong. We lost count after 7,248 ‘must do’s’, so wefigured we’d just start with a few:

The Peninsula Hotel - A Luxury hotel where you’ll see ladies having high tea and finger sandwiches. You’d swear you were in The Pierre, NYC or London. The fashion is fierce & these woman definitely give Madison Avenue ladies a run for the money.

You’ve got to stroll this swanky hotel during high tea (then go buy yourself a nice tea and a meal at a local joint for $2.35)

Next, you can walk right over to the polar opposite:

Chung King Mansion – A SUPER sketchy giant kind of indoor mall: Pakistani Prostitutes, Indian Prostitutes, Australian Pimps, Cheap electronic stores, hidden apartments with 12 people living in a one bedroom. Also has the best exchange rate for foreign currency.

Sam’s Tailor in Tsim Tsa Tsui (near Chung King Mansion) – People from around the world swear by his work which is making the best suit. Not expensive, but apparently the quality matches an Armani and no one can figure out the way he takes measurements. Sam’s clientele are super loyal and you will be too.

Let Sam be your tailor and YOU TOO, CAN BE A CHICK MAGNET.

 Metropol Restaurant – On a second floor, you probably won’t find anyone who speaks english. Hustle and bustle and amazing dim sum that will be of the highest quality and super cheap (for eating with a roof over your head) ***You know it’s good because it’s full of old local ladies. That’s one of my tip offs for good eats around the world, if it’s jammed with old local ladies you know it’s the real deal and a lot of bang for your buck. Nobody messes with old local ladies anywhere.

Foodies beware: You will have no self control, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

GREAT hiking all around HK – ‘The Dragons Back’ trail near Tai Tam is gorgeous. Also, The Big Buddha on Lantau Island – yes, of course tourists go, but it’s breathtaking and locals go all the time. The commute from HK island is amazing, you do a train through what would be like queens or an outer blue collar borough in NYC, then you do a tram to go up to the Buddha. HOWEVER, the adventurous people hike it, I’m dying to and haven’t had a chance. You’ll see random dogs wandering, the occasional cow and people wandering this hike. They all seem happy too. (I normally don’t trust happy people, but at The Big Buddha I do).

That Kardashian mom would totally try to buy this Buddha, but it’s not for sale.

This is more than enough to get you started in Hong Kong because you will get lost. A lot. And the places you end up when you’re lost will be even better than the places you meant to go…

Coming up next: Insider pass to Boston.
Want more? Check out Bernie on Crazytown.

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