Guest Update: Cameron Shultz

I'm in Chicago, and I'm about to go eat at a steakhouse so good they list it in those magazines they put on airplanes. Also, they have something called a Garbage Salad on the menu for $19, which leads me to believe that either the word 'garbage' has a different connotation in Illinois or every joke I ever made about the Midwest is completely true.

While I do that, enjoy this blog update from guest writer Cameron Shultz about the one time that he went to a major city or something like that. I'm just hitting CTRL + V. I literally have no idea what this is.

A Night in Gotham

The red markers around the club I visited indicate some of New York’s finest mugging locations.

This past summer I spent a week in New York City with my cousin, Kelley, and her niece, Fay. Aside from walking around Manhattan and eating stacks of pizza, I tried my best to extract that real New York experience from my trip. Something that was special--really worth remembering. Luckily for me, about two-thirds of the way in, I found it.

We started the day late. Kelley was helping me find stuff to do on my own once she left for work, so we checked out some events on-line and she saw something that looked pretty interesting. There was a comedy contest at the Gotham Comedy Club where local journalists try their hand at stand-up and compete for the title of New York's funniest reporter. It wasn't free and the only way in was to be on the guest list. Kelley dialed the number on the site and spoke to a man named Ryan, who initially wasn't very helpful, but once Kelley mentioned that she was a CBS radio producer and that I was a visiting journalism student, he perked up, and said he would try to get me on the list and to text his email so that he could get back to us. The show started at six and it was already past three, so chances were pretty low there'd be room for me. The address he gave us was, and Kelley told me later that he’d said I should ask for Mr. Goldman at the door, even if he wasn't able to add my name to the list. We ate lunch and then I went with Fay to Times Square to buy a two-day pass that would allow me free entry to several well known locations around Manhattan, which I would use another day.

After purchasing the pass from Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Fay and I caught the subway down to 23rd street. It was about ten to six, so we were right on time. Opening the door to Gotham we saw a long, dimly lit hallway bisected by a red velvet-covered chain rail. To the left was the host, and to the right was his beady-eyed bouncer. I gulped hard and proceeded forward.

"Good evening," the host said with a smile.

"Hi," I replied. "My name's Cameron Shultz. I think I might be on the guest list."

He flipped through the guest book a few times, and then frowned.

"No, I'm actually not seeing you."


"Okay well, is, uh…Ryan Goldman around? Is there any way I could talk to him?"

The host stopped scribbling and looked at me, then at Fay, then turned and glanced back into the club. He flipped the pages of the guest book a few more times and said, "I'm just going to write you guys in."

I didn't respond, and instead stood there stupidly with my brow wrinkled, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. The host X’d out a table on his lectern and handed us a card with the number thirteen written on it. He smiled. "Enjoy the show, guys," he said.

Apparently I started walking into the club, and I think said something like "Thank you," as I passed. I’m not positive, though, as I was still dumbfounded by what had just happened. A waitress met us at the door and I handed her the card with the same trepidation one might have if they were using a fake ID for the first time. "Hi, welcome!" she chirped. "Let me show you to your seat."

Gotham Comedy Club is cramped, dark and shaped like a half-circle with chairs and tables arcing in rows along the back, then forming even rows that lead all the way up to the stage. The waitress led us into the club and over to a table for four directly in front and to the left of the stage. She handed us cocktail menus and asked us what we'd like to drink. It had been explained to me earlier that this venue had a two-drink minimum, so I ordered two Sierra Madras’s (…I know, I know) while Fay ordered a margarita. I couldn't stop fidgeting from the excitement. No one asked for our IDs; we were surrounded by 30 and 40-somethings wearing expensive clothes; it was all in a fucking New York City comedy club at six in the evening; and the comedians were all journalists!

As waited for the show to begin, I snatched up one of the programs from the table and pointed out to Fay that the show was being presented by Goldman McCormick Public Relations.

"Wow," I said, "it must mean that this Ryan Goldman guy is a bigger deal than we'd thought. He isn't just some event organizer—he’s got his own company!"

Pleased with myself for getting past the host and security without paying a cover fee or having my name on the guest list just because I'd asked for the right guy at the right time, I sipped my drink and skimmed through the rest of the program. It was full of the usual acknowledgements and ads, along with profiles of the each of the reporters performing that night and in the back it had a picture of professional comedian Franklyn Ajaye, who was the guest comic for the evening. Then I read the very last page, and nearly hit the ceiling.

It was a brief bio of the two executive producers of the show. A Mister Goldman and a Mister McCormick. Mr. MarkMcCormick of Goldman McCormick Public Relations. I had asked to speak with someone who didn’t even exist, and yet here we were. This sent Fay and I into private peals of laughter. We couldn’t believe it. Goldman and Mr. Ryan

It was around this time that the show started. The Emcee got everyone warmed up before the six reporters came on one at a time to perform their routines. Most of them were actually pretty funny for *cough* journalism folk *cough*. A few of them were downright ridiculous. One female scene reporter with heavy makeup and a squatty dog in her purse rambled for fifteen minutes trying to tell an incomprehensible story about an ex-boyfriend. But since she was drunk, she couldn’t stop snort-laughing and eventually the Emcee saved the show by running her off the stage. Isn’t she great, folks? I wrote down the punch lines to a few of the jokes I heard and will try to recreate them to the best of my ability for you:

"When an attractive older woman likes younger guys she's a Cougar. And that's great. Unfortunately the reversal of that isn't. No, it isn't at all. Attractive older woman who likes guys is a called a Cougar...An older man who likes young girls is what we call a pedophile, folks."

"When you see a group of ladies out together you know they're going to have a good time. There's that whole lookin' out for your sister mentality that women have when they go out together. Guys—they don't have that. You see a group of guys out together and you know they won't be having as good a time as the ladies. Ever have that awkward moment where you're walking with your buddies and one of you accidentally brushes the hand of another? ‘Did you just try to hold my hand, you fucking homo?’ Guys don't touch each other. Girls do. You ever wonder why girls always look so much better than guys? It's because they help one another out. When they're getting ready, you know, fixing each other's breasts, tightening this up here or whatever. Yeah, guys don't dress one another. You don't see a bro squat down and say to another bro, 'Hey, Jimmy, your left one's a hangin' a bit low today, buddy. Hold still and I'll stuff it back up there for ya.'"

"I don't like soccer. You know why? Because it gives third-world countries something to feel good about since, apparently, the U.S. sucks at soccer. Oh, you can score a goal from half-field? I have indoor plumbing; I feel like a winner every time I turn the water on. What's that? Your country's won two World Cups? Well ours won two world wars."

"This economy, man, this economy is in real bad shape. I know. I been around a while and I've got my own economic downturn indicators, and we're in some time tough times. You know how I know? Saw an Asian homeless man for the first time on the street the other day. I was like 'Oh, shit, we must be in some real big trouble.' He had a sign and everything…It was the most neatly organized sign I'd ever seen. Said: Will do science and math for food. And people weren't giving him money or nothin', they were just yellin' out complicated equations at him all day long. He's raising the curve for homeless people! They're probably like 'Fuck, I used to just be able to wash windows...Now I got to explain the theory of relativity, too."

"Met a woman on the plane the other day. Nice-looking woman, so I decided to ask her, 'What social groups do you interact with in your life?' And she said, 'Well I have personal relationship with God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.' I realized at that point that I wasn't in the mood for that shit. So I said to her 'Girl, He’s seein' other people, you know. Has been for a long time.' Well that pissed her off. Told me I was going straight to Hell and everything unless I accepted Christ into my life. Even when I asked her if I was a good person – if I'm kind to others - she said no. So I'm down there with Hitler, and Stalin and Khan and all those evil, barbaric motherfuckers since the beginning of time? And I could just picture it. Going down there to Hell's orientation and getting to meet the Hell assembly. You know, Ted Bundy, Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, and having the ringleader say: 'Adolf, why don't you tell everyone how you ended up here?'

'I was responsible for World-War Two and the killing of six million Jews before committing suicide.'

'Great. Thanks, Adolf. Jeffrey, why don't you share?'

'Well, I would fuck young boys and eat'em. And you see, it's never the other way around. I don't know about any of you crazy people out there trying to eat the boys and then fuck’em, but it doesn't work.'

'Well done, Jeffrey. Franklyn, please tell us what you did to get to Hell.'

I'd stand up and say: 'Oh, all I did was not accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.' And you would hear the collective 'oooOOOh...' and whispers of 'Daaamn,' reverberate through each layer of Hell."

Cameron Shultz swears to this day that he was already intoxicated when he ordered those Madras’s.