JL Cauvin has a pragmatic approach to comedy. Perhaps it's because he moonlights as a lawyer. "Basically, if you're at the top in comedy it's never been better," he explains. "There are so many ways to cash in and promote yourself and make money." It's a good time to get into standup as well. "If you're at the bottom, you can jump start with a lot of stage time and you have a lot of interesting avenues. But if you're in the middle -- and I consider myself to be in the upper middle -- it's still the middle until you break through to the upper tier."
"The real issue I think now is that even if you're good, if you're not hooked up with a manager or have some sort of a comedy mentor to bring you around and build you up, the money's just not there," he states. "You have to put in the full-time effort to get anywhere, but there are a lot people doing that and not making full-time money. Even good comics have to supplement their income outside of comedy, which makes it frustrating."
[jump] Cauvin is getting plenty of exposure, thanks to his numerous sketches on YouTube. One such series, called Comedy Academy, lampoons the comedy industry, particularly the idol worship Cauvin has noticed around Louis CK.
"It was a series of nine videos I released in one month," he says. "It has Louis CK running a fake comedy school, and it was me impersonating him and parodying a lot of things in the comedy business. That got me a lot of attention." While it boasts over 20,000 hits, and features some spot-on impressions, people have been shy about sharing the love. "I got a lot of private-message success. People were kind of nervous to be associated with it. I was impersonating a lot of big people, and taking some shots at those people and the industry. People were like, 'This is really good, but I'm not going to post it.' I guess they were afraid of losing future work."
One person who did get the joke and appreciated it was Adam Carolla. "Basically, through my own sweat, I've been a guest on his show twice," he laughs. "It wasn't to promote anything. He was one of the people I parodied for Comedy Academy. I had him teaching podcasting. He and his staff loved it. So they asked if I would make a specific video for this cause they were fighting against the patent trolls. So I did that, and I was a guest on the show, and they had me come back and make a different video."
The exposure caused Cauvin's own podcast audience to double, as did his number of Twitter followers. "He knew that I was a fan and that I was gently mocking him, because I had detailed knowledge and I was doing a good impression."
"The Louis CK video is still my biggest one though," he continues, "and that was born out of me just talking about him with a friend, who started laughing even though I wasn't trying to do an impression, [I was] just trying to convey something." A lot of people didn't get the joke. "I ended up getting a lot of shit on social media. I wasn't trashing Louis CK; I get that the guy works hard and is talented and respected. I understand all that. I just don't get the idol worship. I don't get it. But I don't make the rules. Just by speculating about that and acting that out, I got labeled a hater. If I, as a comedian, don't accept that Louis CK is the greatest comedian I'm a hater. Let's go all the way with it, and I'll make a video."
Onstage, Cauvin prefers to talk about his own life and experiences. "I bought these jeans at the Big & Tall store," he tells an audience. "Which as you can guess from the name is an awful store. They didn't want to put too much thought or care into naming the store, and decided to go with 'physical description of customer.'"
IF YOU GO:
The Joke Joint
801 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Lilydale
8 p.m. Thursday and Fridays; 10:30 p.m. Friday; 7:30 & 9:45 p.m. Saturday