In this episode of “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” host and former NYC hospitality pro Jake Cornell chats with actor, writer, and comedian Gabe González. The two share memories from high school — and compare how many proms they went to — discuss their favorite gay bars in NYC, and chat about how night outs have changed post-Covid. Tune in to learn more.
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Jake Cornell: I think a lot of us can relate to one of the first nights you had out post the lock-up being like, “I’m going to burn this city to the ground to make up for lost time.” Leading up to that, you mentioned that you were kind of a good boy at school when you’re younger. Walk me through your progression of what going out has looked like for you over the years and kind of the chapters.
Gabe González: Oh, God, yeah. I guess sleepovers aren’t outings. I wasn’t allowed to go to sleepovers. Up until I had my license, my parents were like, “Who are you going with? Will there be adults there? Why do you need to hang out there? You could just hang out after school.”.
J: Remind me where you grew up.
G: Orlando, Florida, like fully Orlando.
J: This season of the podcast has been very Florida-heavy, which is just interesting. I think you’re the fourth guest.
G: Who else?
J: And then I think there’s a third Miami person that I’m forgetting.
G: Alise? Have you interviewed Alise Morales yet?
J: Yep, but she’s not who I was thinking of. I think you might be the fifth Florida person.
G: Oh, my gosh. Oh, what a horrible streak. I love this.
J: I’m like, who are people I have fun going out with? And I think maybe that Florida people are fun to go out, is maybe what is actually true.
G: We have no culture. There’s nothing else to do.
J: OK, so you weren’t allowed to go to sleepovers.
G: Yeah. So my first outing would be the Starbucks at the Barnes & Noble’s near my house.
J: That’s very real for me.
G: Yeah, just coffee dates. Let’s have coffee. Let’s talk about the new Good Charlotte. Let’s be those girls today.
J: So that’s how it started. And then when did you start being someone who maybe partied a little bit more? What was the journey to get to the Gabe that I know I love?
G: Totally. Oh, my God. So I was too busy hiding the fact that I was gay to hide anything else in high school. I would hide dates. I would go to the mall with a boy, but have two of my lady pals pick me up and be like, “We’re just going to go watch this movie.” And that would be my date. Classically as a queer man, I went to prom four years in a row with women.
J: One of the most embarrassing things about me is I only got three of the four and it’s so humiliating.
G: You can’t ever go back and fix that.
J: But does it count? Here’s the thing: I went to two junior year, so I did four in high school. But sophomore year I didn’t get into any.
G: Oh, OK. I think that makes up for it, though. It’s like taking six AP your senior year. You’re fine, yeah.
J: Thank you.
G: Statistically you are there, you’re on par. It’s OK. But yeah, senior year prom was a year where I’m hooking up this boy. He goes to a rival high school. My friend brought him to prom. I brought someone else’s girlfriend. It was just a weird little roundabout. We all switch partners.
J: I mean, this is a Netflix series. Absolutely.
G: It was like “Euphoria,” but with all the kids on the speech and debate team. So that night at prom, we drank Natty Ice before. It was my first time drinking. I’m Puerto Rican, we drank, they gave me a sip of wine or a sip of beer, but I’m trying to get drunk. I was not, went to prom, came back to this girl’s house. I’m not going to say her name because she might hear this. But I’ve said so many things about high school that have gone back to people I went to high school with on podcasts, which is wild to me.
J: I know, I have a whole bit in the main chunk of my stand-up that is about someone I went to school with and it doesn’t paint them in a bad light. It’s all about how great they are, but in a funny way. I have to change the name. This person doesn’t have the consent, but so many of the jokes hinge on this person’s name that now I’m rewriting the stand-up to still work with. It sucks.
G: I’m really trying to be careful. I did shout out my old high school for shutting down a production of “La Cage” and being homophobic. But that was about as far as I went.
J: I mean, God bless.
G: Right? But that senior year prom I was like, OK, I’m leaving. I know where I’m going to school. I don’t have to deal with my parents. So I’m hooking up with a boy in a neighbor’s bush. I smoked a little bit of weed for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing.
J: Damn, we got it all in one night.
G: Literally, it was all just like second semester senior year. I was like, “My SATs are in, I’ve applied to college. I dare Brown to reject my admission because I got drunk on prom night.” That can’t happen. That’ll never happen. Oh, it was beautiful.
J: I also was a very good boy until second semester senior year. I know what’s happening, I know what’s next. It’s time for the party. And that summer was really where it started to happen for me. It was also right when Four Loko launched, so that really sent it off.
G: I think I had my worst breakup after a night of drinking Four Lokos.
J: Yeah, that’ll do it. That’s not good for a relationship.
G: I feel like college doesn’t really prepare you for going out properly. It’s house parties and messy drinking on the street.
J: 100 percent. This was probably Brown similarly, but at my college, freshman and sophomore year is very much house party heavy because you can’t really use fake IDs in Burlington. There’s not a ton of crime. They really just focus on underage drinking in a major way. You had to have really good fake IDs. So everyone would have a house party and then your junior/senior year we would really start to go to the bars. I moved to New York immediately, and even the way you go to bars in New York is not the same. I guess you can go to bars in the same way, but I didn’t want to. I was like, I’m kind of already over the shoulder-to-shoulder, slammed, sh*tty beer situation.
G: Yeah. There was a place called Fish Co. in Providence, which is where everybody would go with fake IDs.
J: Is that by the water?
G: It is, yeah.
J: I know exactly where it is. I’m from Cranston, Gabe.
G: Yeah, we talked about this.
J: OK, I’m from Cranston. So it’s funny because I don’t actually know these places in terms of going there, but whenever we drive through Providence, my mom will point to these bars and be like, “This is what happened here.” I know where different things happen from my family stories and Fish Co. was a big one. And there’s another one over by the water that when my mom was younger, had a pool-sized hot tub that was active during the club nights and people would get into it. And she said it was foul.
G: Oh, my God. It’s like Le Bain.
J: Yeah, it’s like Le Bain. But in Providence, R.I.
G: I can’t handle that.
J: OK, but you would go to Fish & Co.
G: Well I went a couple nights. But it wasn’t my scene. It was just so straight and so crammed in.
J: Were you out in college?
G: Like, yeah, but you know. My freshman year I was still weird about it. And I wouldn’t go to queer spaces and I didn’t really have any queer friends. So I was just lingering around straight people. Have fun making out. I’m going to smoke more and maybe walk home.
J: That was truly my vibe for a lot of it, too. Less so because I was not willing to, but more because I ended up in Burlington, which didn’t have a gay bar or a gay club. Sometimes if I’m stuck in a situation that’s not ideal, I’ll convince myself it’s great. It’s why I lived in the same apartment uptown for three years even though I wanted to live in Brooklyn. I’m like, “No, I actually do love uptown and it’s really fun up here. It’s totally fine that it takes an hour and 30 minutes to get home from a comedy show in Williamsburg.” I was like, “No, I actually like that I’m among the straight people. I’m not totally immersed in queer culture. That would be kind of blinding.” And it was all bullsh*t. The second I got to New York, everything was better. But yeah, I felt very similarly. Is there a good gay scene in Providence?
G: I was going to say, so Providence does have an Eagle, which is great. I don’t know if they’re all associated or if it’s just that gay thing where every city has a bar named the Eagle.
J: I think that’s a franchise.
G: Really? Oh, my God.
J: I think it’s a franchise.
G: Blowjobs and bathroom stalls, I love that. Oh, that’s really great. It was the first place I saw a grad student that I had a crush on. And he was like, “We can’t hook up until you graduate.” And I was like, “I’ll be at the back of the Eagle.” But Providence also has, I think, the only bathhouse out of three surrounding states. I forget what it was called, but Boston didn’t have any, so a bunch of people from Boston would come to Providence to go to that bathhouse.
J: Oh, my God. It’s so funny, because my lens of Rhode Island is visiting my grandparents. I know where I can get a good rainbow cookie.
G: I know, too.
J: I had no idea there’s a bathhouse.
G: Yeah. And it was so weird because it was something I was so tentative about exploring until senior year. And then I was like, “Oh, well, I’m leaving Providence, but I did this. It’s fine.” And then I got to New York, and it was everywhere is your own bathhouse.
J: Everywhere. Yeah, the city is your bathhouse. Honestly, at that point. Now, if you’re going out for a night out, are you going to a gay bar, gay club, or are you open to anything?
G: That’s kind of my M.O. Also when I landed in New York, I was so broke, I didn’t know anyone in comedy. I couldn’t afford UCB classes. I literally had no home, no place, no community here. The first place I found was a gay bar.
J: Which one?
G: Metro was one of my first.
J: Yeah. This wasn’t my experience. Again, I made the fatal choice of living uptown for the first three years I lived here. My boyfriend has kind of said this is at times. I think Metro is that for a lot of queer people that move in New York. It’s the first place where you find community and gay joy, which is really special.
G: It’s very lovely. Especially if you didn’t go to NYU and aren’t familiar with — at that time — Splash and all the bars in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. That was not part of my menu at the time. It just felt very far away. So that was kind of my home base. There was a little party called Hot Fruit on Monday nights, and it’s actually the first time I ever did comedy, too, which was really wild.
J: I really thought you were going to say coke.
G: Oh, no. I mean, maybe. No, that was college. That was definitely college. I’m not going to Metro, a total virgin man. Come on, now.
J: Your first time doing comedy was at Metro, though. That’s beautiful.
G: My first time doing stand-up. I did an open mic in Chicago in 2011, and I was so afraid of how poorly I did. I didn’t do it again until 2014. And it was not a show for comedy. It was a drag performance, burlesque revue, variety show night. And nobody wanted to see me, but that was kind of the best trial by fire to win over someone at Metro. Waiting for a drag queen means the most to me.
J: I know. It’s so true. When I first started doing comedy, and honestly, the first several years I started doing comedy, I was so intimidated by queer audiences because I respected them so much. I was so afraid of going into those spaces. I was like, “I’ll bomb if I do comedy for queer people because I’m not good enough for them.” They are the smartest, most discerning audiences there are, and they will not get it. And I will be humiliated and never be able to go to a gay bar again. And I think I missed out on building my queer comedy community for years because of intimidation. The second I got over that and started hanging out with everyone I was like, “Oh, wait, this is so much better. I love all these people so much.”
G: Totally. It’s so nice. It was that veneer of the institutions that really dominated New York at the time. I’m assuming we both got here, if you weren’t taking a class, if you didn’t know so-and-so, if you weren’t in someone’s sketch.
J: Oh, yeah. I mean, you’re talking to someone who went through the entire UCB system.
G: Yeah, right. It’s so intimidating. But yeah, that’s the thing. Those audiences are sometimes the warmest. Even if you were terrible, they’re not going to hold it against you. They’ll be brutally honest about it. But they’ll also be supportive in the aftermath.
J: Yeah, I don’t think I understood that, that you can bomb in front of a crowd and come off the stage and people will be like, “Oh, that was God awful, but I still want to hang out with you.” I didn’t know that that was an option. I thought everyone would be like, “Oh no, your stand-up is bad, I never want to speak to you.” And especially now, I feel like maybe you also feel this way. Once you kind of figure out your own thing and you’ve done it for a while, you can see someone do bad stand-up, but know they’re going to be a good comedian. And then you can see someone do bad stand-up and be like, “You should leave NYC.” You can kind of smell the difference a little bit.
G: You really can. But I think it goes back to that thing. Are you being yourself or are you trying to kind of replicate? Which is something you do have to learn by failing. It’s truly the most masochistic endeavor you have.
J: Yeah, absolutely. Did you ever work in the service industry?
G: I did in high school. Very odd jobs, very strange things. Publix is a big chain that would hire people.
J: Oh, we know Publix.
G: This isn’t even the service industry but this is wild. One of the only things I did with my family as a family activity besides church on the weekends is they would take us to Give Kids The World, and they would have volunteer busboys and servers. And we did that for a solid year. We would go once a month. And I was like, “I don’t think I have the fortitude for this.” I’m helping people and I was dropping things left and right. They’d be like, “Gabe, just don’t carry that. Don’t touch that. We got it.” I literally cannot do this. I will incur a cost to a company that would not make it worth paying me.
J: You’re a bad investment as an employee.
J: What were your survival jobs in New York? Or did you start working in media right away?
G: So I was trying to work in media right away and I did interviews. It was so wild. I did interviews at Gawker or Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, a bunch of other publications. And they were like, “You don’t have any credits. You are 21 years old. Your resume is a mixture of theater mainstage plays in your college and one internship. You have zero editorial experience.” So I was like, “OK, cool, cool.” I majored in modern culture media, but it was really film and media criticism, but also with a dash of production. You got to know how to make sh*t. So I started looking for video editing jobs. My very first survival job was actually editing porn.
J: Wait, I knew this. It’s so iconic.
G: Big Dipper music videos and porn kept me alive in my first year and a half.
J: I forget that your first job in New York was being a porn editor. Gabe it’s so f*cking iconic. Did you ever get to go out to porn parties?
G: Oh, my God, fully yes.
J: OK, everyone, plug in this. This is going to be a three-hour episode. I’m freaking out. Tell me everything.
G: Oh, my God. OK, so I do have to give credit because some of my porn friends were actually the people that introduced me to my comedy friends. It was really beautiful. It’s like, I meet porn stars through drag queens and whatever I’ll book you.
J: Did you want to be a comedian at this point in time?
G: Yes, but I didn’t know how. I really enjoyed writing. I liked satire. And I was really afraid of stand-up because it’s just me. It’s just me for 10 minutes. I hate myself. What am I going to do with that? But it was really sweet because that was kind of my inroad into comedy in a very strange way. An inroad into my life, really.
J: Yeah. It starts to all blend.
G: Truly. The first year I worked at this porn studio, the other editor was a very good friend of mine and he would take me out. He was next level, though. He was me the night at the Q, everyday.
J: Oh, damn.
G: Truly, truly. And so he was really fun and introduced me to a lot of people. And obviously I’d run into folks who I worked on set with at clubs, whatever. Long story short, one year the other editor at our company is like, “I can’t go to Hustler Ball. Do you want my ticket at all?” So I got myself a little wrestling singlet at a store on Eighth Ave.
J: I’m literally dying.
G: This is also the year I think I had gone to Folsom East as well. So I was like, “OK, I got to get here. I have to take the Q.”
J: Oh, my God.
G: And I get to Hustler Ball. First of all, I’m riding up at Hustle Ball with a porn star who is one of the most macho, gravelly kind of porn stars I’ve ever met. Absolutely huge cock. Everybody’s like, “Dom me, dom me, dom me. Rip me in half.” We’re in this Uber on the way to Hustle Ball and he is like, “Do I look OK, guys? Do I look fine?” He was so insecure about it and I was like, “Literally everybody along this block would probably say yes to f*cking you right now. You’re fine, babe. You look gorgeous.” The dysmorphia what.
J: This is sh*tty, but my favorite stories are stories about incredibly hot people being insecure. It literally is so delicious.
G: It was so unrelatable. But I was like, I kind of love this. This is the one thing that made him human to me.
J: No, it’s human to me. It’s so humanizing.
J: But what were the parties like?
G: That one was nuts because that was at a venue that Suzanne Barr used to throw a bunch of parties at. It was a three-floor venue somewhere in what used to be the Floral District, I guess.
J: Oh, like in the ’20s?
G: Yeah. The top floor was a full circuit party. Second floor was little dips.
J: Was it at Slate?
G: I think so, yes.
J: Well, I haven’t thought about Slate in a long time. Slate used to have open mics during the day before they would throw fetish sex parties at night and they’d be setting up for them. And it was truly bizarre. I used to do so many mics at Slate. The bartenders would sometimes not have shirts on for an open mic. It was deranged. It was heaven, but it was strange.
G: That’s like the Q. I love that.
J: But it’s not three floors directly stacked on top of each other. They’re askew and there’s slanting staircases. All staircases are slanted, but at Slate I would go from one room to another and be like, “I think I’m on a different city block.” I don’t think I’m on the same city block as where I just was, this is really disorienting.
G: And there were f*cking aerial artists at that party.
J: It was Slate.
G: Yeah, it was Slate.
J: I wonder if Slate’s still open. I would go to a party there in a heartbeat.
G: Honestly same. Let’s investigate. We need to figure this out because I have some hijinks I want to revisit in that space. I want to conjure the energy of it.
J: So what does a dream night look like for you now if you’re wanting to go out on the town?
G: OK, so I’m kind of a mixed bag. Even before the pandemic, I was becoming a little bit more of a homebody. Now doing stand-up with such frequency, that’s kind of the night I go out. I’m going to run into friends, I’m going to run into people. I will probably go out afterward, and it takes out a lot of the guesswork and the organizing. We’re all going to be at the show if someone’s got afterward. Cute, great, perfect. We’ve already pre-gamed. I much more like the night out with friends, hop to a couple of places, and kind of just get into trouble. I’m not a really big concert-circuit-party, loud-blaring-bass music person anymore. I Definitely had that era. It was really beautiful. There were a lot of warehouses in Bushwick that gave me a great time. But I want to talk to people. I want to talk to people and just hang out.
J: When you say get into trouble, when we’re out, are we in it to win it? Or let’s grab a couple drinks, then go home?
G: If I’m going out, OK, let’s make a night of it.
J: Yeah, let’s get it going.
G: And I want to go to a bar. Take me to a weird place you’ve been. Maybe we’re going to see a show. Maybe you’ll end up in someone else’s house smoking. I have no idea. I just like meeting somewhere and we have the next few hours to make it happen. I think drag shows are also a really easy way to get people. F*cking “Drag Race” screenings were the only way I saw my coworkers when I was working in media. That’s what we’re doing after work.
J: I feel like people sh*t on the “Drag Race” screening. They’re like, “Oh, you want to watch “Drag Race?” I’m sorry, it’s Season 14, they’re still fun, and I don’t want to hear it. They are fun, unfortunately.
G: I’m also not going to the screenings to actually watch. I always watch the show the day after if I’ve gone to a screening at a bar because I’m missing a moment.
J: I have a show on Friday that is during “Drag Race,” but it’s a six-minute walk from 3 Dollar Bill. Oh, I’m just going to go to the screening, run over, do the show, and then walk back. I don’t care.
G: I’m a 12-minute walk from 3 Dollar Bill. What?
J: I know I’ve been to your house.
G: Yeah. Oh, my God. Where’s your show?
J: It’s at BCC.
G: Oh, my God. OK, perfect. Amazing. I didn’t know 3DB was doing the “Drag Race” screenings.
J: I don’t know if “Drag Race” will still be on by the time this airs, but probably “All Stars” will be on at that point. But the 3 Dollar Bill “Drag Race” screening is actually so luxe because they open the back party room and they set it up like a movie theater, and then they just project it on the big screen and there are seats with tables. And then you can kind of just get up. It’s not a crowded bar. It’s literally almost like watching drag in a gay movie theater. It’s kind of heaven. And then the hosts do numbers after through the crowd. It’s actually kind of sick.
G: Like a drag race nighthawk for one night.
J: It’s literally that with bar service; it’s my dream. It’s actually my dream.
G: Oh, my God. I’m so glad you awoke this opportunity to me. I had no f*cking idea.
J: It’s where I go to watch it if I’m free. I accidentally booked a lot of my Fridays before I realized “Drag Race” is on and it’s tough.
G: It’s fine, I think we got to be franchises coming out Tuesdays. You’re going to be dominated soon enough. We’ll be OK.
J: I’m already feeling anxious because my original favorite gay bar in New York that still is my favorite gay bar but in the past six months has become the hot, cool gay bar in Brooklyn. And now I can’t just go there and hang out because it’s slammed. And that’s great for the bar. I did a lot of posting about it on Instagram for the past year, and I’m not saying it’s my fault by any means. I do not have the following or outreach to have been the only reason that this bar became popular. But I do regret ever posting about it because now I should always be able to sit at this bar. It’s really annoying to me that it’s busy.
G: I know which one you’re talking about.
J: I’ll say it right now. It’s The Exley. I’m furious. No one under 25 was going to The Exley six months ago. Not a soul.
G: That sounds like a dream.
J: And now I’m seeing people show up in Doc Martin’s and latex trenches. And I’m like, “Guys, I love you, but this is not the bar that I wanted to be at.”
G: The latex trenches really helped.
J: The smoking section of Exley used to be cigarettes and now it’s vapes. You can see the transition and I love them. Every single bartender at the Exley, I adore you with all my heart. It’s so busy.
G: Yeah. Not to turn the tables on you, but do you have any non-queer bars that you do enjoy going to? Or are you also just the gay bar person?
J: I have a lot of non-queer bars I enjoy going to. I would say most of the bars I go to are at least bi. Where I live in Bed-Stuy, Cmon, Everybody, I would say is our nearest gay bar. But Come On, Everybody, especially post-pandemic, is very event-based. You can’t just pop in for a drink that often. There’s usually a show and a ticket moment. It’s almost a gay club now, so I don’t have a gay bar to just go chill at in my neighborhood currently. But I love Glorietta Baldy and Doris and Super Power and King Thai. King Thai has gay vibes, but those are all, I guess, straight bars. And No Shrimp Pub, which is just a very laid back pub. And Do or Dive, which is not really gay but kind of gay. Those are my neighborhood spots. If I’m going to Williamsburg, I’m pretty much going to The Exley, or Metro or Mantra or The Rosemont or the Bushwick Country Club — which I guess is not gay, but it feels gay.
G: It can be.
J: It can be. Yeah. I would say Williamsburg is the only neighborhood where I’m pretty much exclusively going to go to a gay bar. I don’t really have other destinations in Williamsburg. I’ll go to Rocka Rolla every once in a while, I guess, for a cheap, big beer. If I’m in the West Village, I want to go to Julius’. It depends on the neighborhood, I guess. Certain neighborhoods are more gay bar-focused than others. Because I was a UCB kid for a long time, McManus on 19th and Seventh is very special to me. I do love that bar, which is fine. What about you? Do you have straight bars that you’re willing to share?
G: That was so comprehensive. I was like, I have a couple. And you were like, “If I want a big beer in this neighborhood, I’m going here. If I’m on the 1 train heading north.”
J: It’s truly my job.
G: It is.
J: I was a bartender for 10 years and now I make this. So it’s truly my job.
G: I thought I knew about a few places going out. And then I talk to people in the service industry, bartenders, people who run nightlife events. They are like, “There are 8,000 venues by you that could give you any of these things.” For me, there’s this place near me up Broadway in Brooklyn called Cafe Erzulie, which is really fun. I’ve enjoyed going there. During the day, they have a cute brunch, lunch scenario. People work outside in the backyard a lot. And then at night sometimes they are closed or private events, but they’ve just got a great vibe. There’s one bathroom and the line is brutally crowded.
J: That’s stuff. That’s always really tough.
G: Yeah. The Rosemont, 3 Dollar Bill, Metro are all kind of walking distance for me. So those are great. Sometimes after work, I’ll just pop in and sit in the back and drink white wine at 6:30 p.m. when no one’s there and be like, “Thank you, that’s enough.”
J: Wow. That’s truly 65-year-old gay man behavior. It’s so cute.
G: We’re the only ones there. It’s great.
J: The white wine. Flirting with the bartender?
G: Yes. Oh. Oh, my God. That was what kept me coming back to Metro for so long. There were two bartenders I had huge crushes on. It was great.
J: Yeah. Based on the few nights we’ve gone out together, you have a really interesting capability to fall fully, head- over-heels in love with someone that you have not met yet.
G: It happens at comedy shows all the time. I’d be like, “Who is that? I love them. I need to know everything about them.” This happened to me when I did a show with Kenice Mobley for the first time. I fully did not recognize her from Twitter. We were in a dimly lit room, masked. I was like, “Who is this person going up?” She went up on stage. I was like a) I know her, obsessed; b) the set. I need to know everything. Beautiful. Fantastic.
J: Was that the Scorpio show we did together?
G: It was, yes.
J: Yeah, she was really on fire that night.
G: It was great. It was really fun.
J: Yeah, shout-out to Star F*ckers, a show where everyone on the lineup is the same astrological sign. You missed the Scorpio show, which is the best one, unfortunately. But go check that out. What is your moon and rising?
G: OK, so my rising is Virgo, which is the only thing that keeps me organized because my moon is also Scorpio.
J: That’s intense. Wait, Virgo rising and Scorpio moon? That’s really intense.
G: My best friend is super into astrology and she did my whole chart. And she’s like, “Six of your whatevers are in Scorpio. You have a very intense personality.” And I was like, “Well, you’ve known me for six years, so yes. Duly noted.”
J: Yeah. Everyone loves Gabe, but no one’s calling him chill, right?
G: What’s happening? We’re going out, we’re on a mission, and we will achieve it.
J: OK, I’m curious about this. Stand-up is a part of your job. It’s part of your career. It’s part of your work. What is your approach to balancing? What are the nights of stand-up that are going out? What are the nights of stand-up that is just, I’m working tonight? How do you sort of navigate that?
G: It’s tough because, especially with the pandemic, work schedules are very difficult to predict. If I’ve got something to do the next day, if there’s a packet of self-tape, something to edit it and turn in or write, I’m going to be like, “OK, we’re going to get home by midnight.” We got to be a good girl tonight.
J: Yeah, totally.
G: But if I don’t have anything the next day, I love just being invited out to things spontaneously. It was after the Star F*cker show where we just went out and had that amazing dinner, right?
J: At Bogota? That was heaven. That was a heaven of a night.
G: Literally one of my dream outings.
J: Wait, same. That was a dream outing where no one planned this. Eight of us went out to dinner. That restaurant was so fun. We left Union Hall and just walked down Fifth Ave and then someone was like, “This place looks dope.” And I walked in and I was like, “We have eight people that need dinner,” and they were like, “Yeah, let’s go.” And it was a f*cking party. That was such a fun night.
G: It was so much fun.
J: You also did something annoying, which is that you won the ordering contest. You aggressively ordered the best thing on the menu. And everyone was like, “What the f*ck is that?” Everyone else’s food was fine and then your food was objectively delicious, and everyone was pissed. We were all pissed. You ordered something and were like, “I don’t know what this is, but it sounds like it’ll be good.” And it was gorgeous. And I was furious. I was mad at you.
G: It came in a frying pan. Honestly, on the menu, it looked like way too much.
J: Yeah, it looked bad on the menu. And I think that’s also why I’m mad, because I was like, “Gabe’s f*cking up, but whatever he’s drinking, It’ll be fine.” And then it showed up, and I was like, “This asshole.” I was so mad.
G: I follow my heart at new restaurants. We’re trying something new.
J: I guess it’s a good rule of thumb. If you’re at a restaurant, order what the person who smokes the most weed at the table has ordered. And you’ll win out.
G: Fully. You’ll never fail. It’ll be great.
J: That was so fun. It’s interesting because I feel the same way whenever I go to a show, unless there is a tape the next day or a packet or something, I am down for anything. I kind of hope that it’s a fun show where everyone’s vibing and let’s keep it going. But with our jobs, there’s always homework. There’s always another project we could be writing, another thing we’re trying to sell or pitch. Because if you go out after every comedy show you do in a week, you’re actually never going to write anything. But you do have to. Now that comedy is my full-time job, I’m sort of navigating what that looks like on a day-to-day basis. I do have things I want to write, but I also want to live my fun life and part of my job now is going out four nights a week to comedy shows. And not just to comedy shows now, because of the podcast, but to restaurants and bars. So it’s interesting how it is navigating it for different comics and stuff.
G: It sounds really cynical, but I think the reality is that going out is also part of the job. Not that going out with friends after a show is the job.
J: It’s true.
G: You have to cut up after the show. You have to stick around. I stuck around after a show where I was going to go home because Milly was like, “Just stick around. We’ll take an Uber together.” And I was like, “OK, cool.” An hour later, Milly had introduced me to five people I had never met.
J: Milly has been on this podcast, and that’s actually fully the story of taking a car home with Milly Tamarez. You are going to go home two hours later than you wanted, but you will have a really good two hours.
G: It’s amazing.
J: She’s like, “We’ll split a car. But you’re hanging out.”
G: If you insist, I guess.
J: She’s so good at that.
G: She’s really great at it. It’s very, very good. She reminds me of one of my aunts in that way. We talk about this all the time because I feel like Puerto Ricans and Dominicans love a long night out. You could be sitting in a kitchen with several relatives and you’re going to be up until 4 a.m. It’s going to be gossip, drinking, shots, going outside, smoking, coming back in.
J: Yeah, that sounds like heaven.
G: I feel like we were born for this. We were definitely ready for it.
J: Milly definitely has that energy and I see that in you. Well, no, we could just keep going, though. We could keep hanging out.
G: That’s the danger, though. I’ve really had to relearn my limits going out again post-pandemic, because I was very good at sensing it and I’ve lost all of that entirely. And it’s not just, “Am I going to be hungover, am I going to get home safe?” Am I going to be able to work tomorrow? Am I going to feel good?
J: I’m different in that I don’t struggle with limiting length. If I’m tired or if I had one drink more than I wanted to, I’m leaving. I’m down to go home and go to bed. Mine’s a quantity thing. I’ll be like, “I’m not going to go out tonight,” and then come at 7 p.m. and I’m like, “Well, my friends are all at this party.” And that’s where I struggle more so. I’ll go for two hours and then come home, I don’t need it to be a big night out. But I don’t love a night in, and especially post-pandemic, I really find it hard for me.
G: Totally. We’ve lost so much time. That’s the other thing. I felt more surrounded by people and you can text folks. But I don’t know, it felt so different through the pandemic. Literally not seeing anybody I was like, “Do I have any friends left in the city?” What’s going on? I know they’re here, but it was really scary. Part of going out so much was trying to get that again, to be like there are people here, we are supported and around each other.
J: I agree. And I do think we are still in the process of rebuilding community. When people are like “New York is back, everything’s back to normal,” I get what you’re saying. You can go to a bar and it feels normal. I totally got that. But the level of community of being like, “I know if I go to these places, these people will be here and x, y, z,” is still rebuilding in a way. I think it’ll be great when it comes back. I have faith it’ll come back. But we are still rebuilding there being regular parties where all your friends are at every weekend and that sort of thing. There are weeks where it gets hiccuped where all these people can’t go out because they all got exposed at this party or whatever. You know what I mean? I think we’re still like coming over that hill and I’m very excited for that to be out the window.
G: Same. I’m praying to the gods, but we’re on a podcast. No one can see it. Yeah, it’s just tough. Thinking about going out requires so many more things and has so many more ramifications than it did before.
J: Then negotiation of, I know what I’m comfortable with, but what is my friend control with. And it’s OK that we have different comfort levels. We just have to have a conversation about that. That’s very much the phase we are in right now.
G: And I have learned what to expect from venues. I went to a comedy show fully knowing I was going to be the only person in the entire bar room with a mask on. And that was the case. I was like, I’m not going to hyperventilate. We’re not freaking out, this is fine.
J: I’m curious. You don’t need to say where, but what about that show made you say, “I’m going to be the only one?”
G: Not the show. Sometimes you do a show in the back and folks are really great about it and you’re out and in the bar. And so I had assumed. There’s a backyard, I went out to smoke or whatever. I was hanging out and talking out there and I went inside and I was like, “Oh, I’m sure there will be a mixed bag of people who are masked or not masked.” It was fully nobody and they were really good about checking vaccines on the way and all that stuff. But people are at very different places right now. There are very different comfort levels.
J: Yeah, there are very different comfort levels.
G: I have a partner right now who’s sick at home waiting on surgery. I don’t want to give him Covid.
J: Yeah, it adds a whole ‘nother level. And that’s the thing I think people don’t think about. People always assume, oh, you’re just really cautious because you’re anxious. No, maybe they have a partner at home who’s immunocompromised. There are layers to it that people don’t know about. And so it’s always important to just keep that in mind.
J: Earlier, you were talking about you and Milly being Puerto Rican and Dominican. Being raised Puerto in a Puerto Rican family, what was Puerto Rican going out. When you’re out with your Puerto Rican friends or family, what does going out mean culturally to Puerto Ricans?
G: Oh gosh. I feel like going out in Puerto Rico is totally its own thing. There’s a vibe there and it’s fantastic. You see people of all ages out. My mom moved back to Puerto Rico for a few years when I went to college and she was literally going out more than I was, drunk-dialing me.
J: That’s iconic.
G: She was fresh off of divorce, living her best life. Honestly, go get it. You lived your 20s with me in a cradle, right?
J: Write that movie. I’m sorry, write that movie about a woman who gets divorced and her kids go to college, move back to Puerto Rico. Literally pitch it now.
G: I’m working on it. It was her live, laugh, love. It was really beautiful. But in Florida, for me, it was a lot of bringing large parties to restaurants and having my grandmother insist that we all be seated in chunks and not when everybody gets there. Also, having all 16 relatives show up and then having four of them have very particular dining specialties that they say are allergies that are not.
J: I’m getting anxious and slowly tensing.
G: They are any server’s worst nightmare. If you see a big party in Puerto Rican show up, the tip will not be worth it, I promise you. Now, if my grandmother is anywhere in that party, she will make you rue the day that you ever thought you could do this job. So it was a lot of that. But then we went back to someone’s house. OK, who are the two people driving? You all are out here playing dominoes, eating food. The rest of us are guzzling these beverages and talking about an aunt nobody has seen in five years.
J: So I’m hearing things I like, which is designated drivers. I’m hearing about gossip, which we know is my favorite thing. It sounds like I would not go to the restaurant and meet you guys after.
G: That’s what I do out of embarrassment at this point. Sometimes I’m like, “Oh, I’m sorry I took too long showering, I’ll meet you guys there.” But I’m also getting to the point where some of my cousins that I grew up with, not first cousins, but second family members you call cousins that aren’t cousins are having kids now. They’re not going out as much. They’re like, “Come to my beautiful new home” in the ass crack of central Florida where they’re just starting to build a new subdivision. “we’re going to scream in my backyard because they don’t have neighbors.” What is Florida? What is happening right now?
J: That is deeply bizarre, but I love it.
G: Truly. There are a lot of Marc Anthony songs that when they come on, the entire house will just know and sing in unison. That’s impromptu karaoke for sure.
J: That is, across the board, beautiful. My dad’s one of six from a big family and I just remember walking into my Aunt Debbie’s house as a kid and they all were playing poker with nickels and quarters at the table and chain smoking. I unfortunately do just f*cking love the smell of smoking inside. It’s disgusting, but to me, it just smells like a good party. Me at six years old walking into the party, being like, “Yas.” It was just a big family party where everyone’s talking sh*t and hanging out. That is truly a beautiful thing.
G: It’s so true. It’s the slight smell of pork in the kitchen. Definitely some cigarettes, even though everybody that used to smoke doesn’t anymore. They’ve all quit.
J: Wow. Our families are very similar because there was always a honey ham. I feel like mine’s the New England of Florida-Puerto Rican with a big family, talking sh*t, drinking, and cooking a large piece of pork.
G: If you have five siblings or more in either parent’s family, the rules are universal at this point, I think.
J: I think that’s actually probably really true. Because then there’s enough siblings that there’s going to be one that everyone’s talking sh*t about absolutely fully.
G: Every time.
J: I really related to talking earlier about how when you go out, you want to be able to talk. Because I think that’s the thing for me. I’ll do slammin’ techno parties here and there occasionally and mostly because it’s what my boyfriend or my friends love. But for me, going out is talking the whole time. I never want to not be talking to people. I always want to be having a conversation. I want to be talking sh*t. That’s also why I think I’m down to go home sometimes because if it gets too late and people are tired or people are too drunk, OK, there’s no conversation. I’m over it. And here’s the thing. I don’t need the conversation to be good. I actually want to talk bullsh*t. But once it’s past the point where we can’t even talk bullsh*t, then it’s time to go home.
G: It’s just like, “Yeah, Oh, my God. OK. I love you,” We’re winding down. It’s part of the reason I picked up smoking in college so I could leave the party and talk to people outside.
J: I actually relate to that. And that’s the best part about smoking. I’ve never been a smoker, but I’m always down for a cigarette, which is honestly the worst way to be. They say that’s worse than smoking because you’re always going to be smoking a little. I know it’s bad, but occasionally I do. It’s not about the cigarette as much as about being like, “I need to step outside and talk to one person for 10 minutes and then go back inside.” And then sometimes there’s nothing like being at a party and then the smokers go outside and then you’re like, “This is better than the party and now we’re at the cool kids table.”
G: It’s so good, though. Not to blow his spot up, but there was a very special moment when I did a show with Larry and a few of us were there early. We all went and Larry was just like, “Hey, I brought a little one-hitter, do you guys want some?” The audience was coming in and we’re going to be on time. We’re ready. We know who’s going first, whatever. We just hid outside and the four of us shared a little moment. And it was so much more about just having that little calm before the storm because it’s totally sold out. It was chaotic. Everyone’s jumping to different shows. It was just a very sweet curated by Larry, a grounding moment. It was really nice.
J: Are you going to his Carnegie show?
G: Oh, when is it?
J: It’s in three weeks. Try to grab a ticket. We’re going. It’s gonna be fun.
G: OK. Amazing. I’m so excited. I have to see his show. By the time this podcast comes out, it’ll also be too late. But Joel Perez is doing a show at The Public. So many people are putting on great things at really fantastic theaters.
J: It’s great to have good shows and theater back. OK, to wrap up, we haven’t gone out in a minute. Let’s plan our next night out together and then get it going.
G: Oh, I love this. OK.
J: Last time we hung out was at The Rosemont.
G: Was it?
J: Yeah, your birthday.
G: Yes, it was my birthday. I’m trying to figure out if Star F*ckers was before or after. But it was before.
J: Oh, I think it was before. I think it was before.
G: So it was definitely The Rosemont and then my place.
J: Great time.
G: That was my first party at my apartment. I was very nervous.
J: You have a good apartment for a party.
G: OK, good.
J: Because it has three distinct rooms. There can be three distinct conversations happening in a way that is good. And the bathroom is private enough. I overall rate your apartment pretty high.
G: Oh bless. OK, great. The shower is separate from the toilet, so nobody’s going to vomit in my shower, which is really nice.
J: That’s huge.
G: That’s huge. And when I say anybody, I mean me. I was the person in that scenario.
J: We’ve gone to Q Club together, we’ve done The Rosemont together. I think that leaves an Exley-Metro night. We’ll start at Exley and walk to Metro.
G: We should absolutely do that. Are we doing a dinner or late-night snacks in between or after?
J: OK. Well, what’s your restaurant vibe? We didn’t talk about restaurants at all in terms of eating out. Do you like to go to restaurants?
G: Eating out, I do love to go to Latin American cuisine in general. That’s just the vibe for me.
J: I feel like Latin spots in Brooklyn are a weak spot for me in terms of having them in my back pocket and knowing good ones. So maybe we do that. What’s a fave of yours?
G: So I live on Graham Avenue, famously known as the Avenue of Puerto Rico for a certain stretch. There is an incredible restaurant. It is so wild because I actually profiled the chef and owner in a video I did three years ago and I was like, “Oh, I’d love to live near here.” Amazing. Amazing. Got this apartment not knowing how close it was. It is called Caridad China. The chef and owner is a Chinese man who moved at a very young age to Puerto Rico and was trained to cook under his uncle, who is also a Chinese-Puerto Rican man, and then moved to New York and opened up a Chinese-Puerto Rican fusion restaurant.
J: So what’s the name again?
G: Caridad China.
J: Got it. F*ck, that sounds perfect.
G: It’s mind blowing. It’s just so good.
J: It’s like Chinese-influenced Latin food?
G: Yeah. But then also, just taking dishes and mashing them together. Like taking a Chinese chicken dish and putting plantains with it.
J: OK, perfect.
G: It’s the move, and it’s walking distance from both of those. It might be a dangerous night out because we will be full.
J: No, I was going to say, I smell heartburn. I’m going to have heartburn fully. But that’s fine.
G: The girls will be sipping Pepto-Bismol with their vodka drinks.
J: We’ll go to Caridad China for dinner. We’ll walk to Exley and do vodka-Peptos.
G: Stop, that’s going to be big five years from now. You made Exley happen and now you’re going to make vodka-Pepto happen. I can’t handle you.
J: Once our stomachs are settled, we’ll go to Metro for some dancing.
G: Oh, bless. Perfect.
J: We just need to hit Metro before the backyard closes so we can have a cig back there.
G: Always. Yes. OK. Thank you. Great minds.
J: OK, perfect. I’m going to text you and look at the calendars. We’ll find the time for this because it’s perfect.
G: Beautiful. Actually, yes.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shout-out to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.