This week, Jake goes out with podcaster Patrick Hinds of “True Crime Obsessed.” The two discuss the era of cocktail lounges, why famous people don’t go out anymore, and the double-edged sword of bringing children to restaurants. Tune in for more.
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Jake Cornell: Yeah, a dog does not give a sh*t about its pronouns, which is amazing. They just don’t. You know what I mean? This is a very exciting episode. Long time coming. This episode goes all the way back to when we had SuChin Pak on.
Patrick Hinds: I was just re-listening to that episode all the way over here.
J: One of my favorites, such an icon. And SuChin Pak brought up iconic early 2000 celebrity hotspot Moomba, and then I get a DM from you saying, “Guess who used to work at Moomba.”
P: Well, let me tell you how you came into my life. We just moved into this building and we have this very fancy person who lives below us, and he is like a Broadway guy. His name is Stephen Oremus, and in the world of the things I care about, he’s very famous. We were nervous to live above him, but they’ve got a daughter that’s almost exactly the same age as our daughter, and we became super-fast friends, and one day we became text friends because he started texting me your TikToks. He was like, “Do you know this guy?” I’m like, “No.” He’s like, “He reminds me so much of you and he’s so funny.” So Steve and I would just find your TikToks and just text them back and forth to each other, and so that was how I became aware of you and I became obsessed with you. I learned that you had a podcast and I’m a podcast person, and I never do this, but I got drunk. I mean, I get drunk all the time, but I never get drunk to do stupid sh*t anymore. It was 2 in the morning and I was watching one of your TikToks and I was like, “I’m going to ask him if I can be on his podcast,” and my DM to you was like, “I never do this.”
J: One of the worst parts about having a podcast is having to ask people to do your podcast, so you asking me to do my podcast was a huge gift and a wonderful opportunity.
P: The next morning, I woke up and I was like, “I didn’t really do that, did I?” And I checked, I was like, “Oh, my God. I did.” And then at one point you favorited it, but didn’t respond, and I was like-
J: I must have been on the subway or something.
P: I felt like such a loser, and then you wrote back a really nice response. You’re like, “Yeah, let’s do it,” and I was like, “Oh, my God. This is crazy.”
J: That’s so funny. If I had just liked and not responded that would’ve been so scathing, I would never.
P: I mean, I took a picture of it and sent it to Steve, and I was like, “This b*tch liked it. Look, he liked it and didn’t respond.”
J: That is so funny.
P: But yeah, my first job in New York was at Moomba, which when… What is her name?
J: SuChin Pak?
P: Yeah. When you did the Moomba episode, you clearly didn’t know what it was. Did you know what it was?
J: I knew of it, but it wasn’t as much of a touchstone for me as some of the other restaurants she was talking about, but I remember hearing about it.
P: I started working there when that restaurant was on its very last legs. So I moved to New York in 2000 and I was working at CNBC, that was the job I got right out of college.
J: Okay. Where are you from originally?
P: Well, I grew up in Cape Cod. I went to college in Boston and I moved here the day after graduation. I was like, “I got to get to New York,” and I got here and I got the job at CNBC. That was what I was coming here to do, and I was working on a financial news show. I was awful. I’ll spare you the stories. At one point, I did something so egregious. I was an assistant to the production team. I was not on camera, but I did something so bad that they had to go to commercial and then come back and apologize. It was that bad.
J: Did you put a swear on the teleprompter?
P: No, I ordered a graphic. They tell you what to order and the graphic said, “Stock sinks,” and I ordered “Stock stinks,” and it made it to air and then the host was like, “We’ll be right back,” and then had to come back and apologize. It was crazy.
J: I mean, that’s not that offensive. I thought it was going to be way worse, but-
P: It’s haunted me.
J: No. I mean, anything like that amount of pressure and then you just make a simple mistake is hell.
P: When you’re at a job that you’re not right for, but you don’t have the guts to leave it, that was for sure that job. But then one weekend I was like, “I’m miserable. I’m a creative person. I’m not getting to be creative. I’m going to go find a restaurant job, and then I’m going to get out of here.”
J: A famous place for creativity.
P: Totally. And I only wanted to work in the West Village, and this was back before the West Village was cool. This was 20 years ago.
J: Yeah, that’s crazy to think about.
P: I know. Nobody went there. Restaurants could not work there. It’s so crazy. You go down there today and it’s teaming with straight frat bros.
J: It’s like they can’t work there anymore because it’s too saturated. It’s crazy.
P: And this one restaurant had kind of hit it, but I had never heard of it. I just walked in off the street. I didn’t know anything about this restaurant, and I walked in and I wanted to be a barback because I eventually wanted to be a bartender. And they said they weren’t hiring, and I was like, “Okay,” and I walked out, and the manager chased me down the street and she’s like, “No, actually we need a barback today,” and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll take it.” And working at Moomba was my first job. It was bananas, it was every famous person. I mean, even though the restaurant was on its last legs, I think I was there in its last nine months. I mean, every famous person you could imagine. Lizzie Grubman was still doing the PR for the place, so we did her birthday party. We did the birthday party the weekend before she backed over Tara Reid and all of her friends in her SUV. Remember that?
J: Yeah. Wait. So for the listeners, if you don’t know, Lizzie Grubman was an iconic New York PR queen. She was the No. 1 PR agent. Is that the term? She did PR, she was famous. She had her own reality show called “PR Girls” that was on, what, MTV? And she was famously, and Lindsay, if you’re listening, she was famously very mean, right? Iconically mean.
P: She was very nice to me. I only interacted with her a handful of times, but she was very, very nice, but she’s little and I just always wanted to see her be mean and I never saw it, but she was kind of a force.
J: Yeah. I mean, it’s especially crazy to think about back then because we’re talking pre-social media, so PR was power. Power because it’s press and press was so much more controlled because celebrities can’t counter a story on their Instagram, so PR is everything.
P: But it’s interesting because what you guys were talking about on that episode was how celebrities were way looser back then, and that’s true.
J: Yeah, I bet you saw some crazy f*cking sh*t.
P: Really crazy stuff, but everyone was really cool. This woman who’s still my friend to this day, Sam Ronson, it was her, and her friends were the ones who made that place cool. At that point, it was like Sam did a party there every Monday night, it was a karaoke party, and it was kind of the one big celebrity thing that people still came and did. I mean, everybody came. It was like Jerry Seinfeld and Shoshanna Lonstein, and I mean, Sam’s good friend still is Duncan Sheik, and that was back when he was really hot and Jamie King was coming all the time.
J: Would they have to do a bouncer? How was this happening at the door?
P: That’s a really interesting question. There was a security guy at the door. His name was Glen. God, he was so gorgeous. When you walked into Moomba, if I’m standing at the door, you walk in and there’s the downstairs over here, but directly in front of the door was the stairway that went up to the VIP lounge. So it was behind a door. So you would walk in and just go right to that door and then go up two flights of stairs, and then you’re in the VIP lounge.
J: And who’s deciding who gets into VIP? Glen?
P: Glen. Yeah. I mean, they never turned anyone away because only famous people tried. Moomba had been around by that point for so long that people just knew only famous people went up there. I remember one night, I don’t remember who the famous person was, but a group of girls saw this famous person walk in and go up the stairs, it was Macy Gray or something, and they tried to go, and then of course, they’re not allowed. By the time I got there, there wasn’t a line around the corner to get in. It was just kind of like-
J: And was it more of a bar or a restaurant?
P: A restaurant. Yeah, it was definitely a restaurant. This was back in the era of-
J: Club-restaurants like TAO?
P: TAO. But also lounges. We don’t really have lounges anymore.
J: Wait. Talk me through that. What was a lounge?
P: Do you remember APT?
P: So APT was this really cool lounge. It was one of the first spots that sort of brought the Meatpacking district up. Lounges, they were like nightclubs without dancing. People didn’t dance back then. Lotus was the first bar-restaurant that became a nightclub at night that was happening right after Moomba. So that was transitioning back into dancing, but people would go to lounges. There was a place called Suite Sixteen, which-
J: It’s so funny that you’re saying this because I go back and I watch movies and TV shows that are set in those times, and I always thought that they were-
P: How old are you?
P: Okay, because you’re like, “And I watched my black and white movies.”
J: No, I guess I’m more just saying… Do you know what movie I’m specifically thinking of is “The Sweetest Thing.” Do you remember “The Sweetest Thing?” Iconic film. It’s like one of my favorite comfort films, but they go out to these clubs and me and my friends would always dog on it being like, “It’s so funny that this nightclub is just couches and people sitting around,” but apparently that was historically accurate.
P: That really was a thing. I would say from 2001 to 2003, there was a place called Duvet that was literally beds. There was APT, which is where they did all the SNL after-parties, and it looked like an apartment door and you would knock on the thing, and then the doorman would either let you or not, you would go down to this basement lounge. It was really fun. Moomba was a restaurant on the first two floors, and then there was the VIP staircase over here, but there was also a staircase around the other side that would take you up to the lounge, and it was just a lounge. You could get food up there, but it was just couches and chairs. It sounds so lame now, but it was the height of cool in 2000 and 2001.
J: It’s so funny. VIP sections and VIP spaces are an eternal paradox because when you are not in them, they look like the coolest thing in the f*cking world, and when you’re in them, they are boring. They are boring as sh*t.
P: Well, celebrities are scared of each other. So I remember we would look at the VIP lounge and the famous people of the day were the “Sex and the City” ladies, Liv Tyler was really famous and she was always hanging out with Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix and Joaquin Phoenix, and that kind of crew. They would be at one area and Sam and her friends, which was Nikki and Paris Hilton would be at another area, and then you’d have Kim Cattrall and Lucy Liu sitting at a table over here and you would see them all looking at each other, but none of them… And it wasn’t like they were smoking. It wasn’t like a smoky thing and you couldn’t see people, it was just groups of celebrities not talking to each other.
J: I think it’s weird. On a much smaller scale, I guess it’s like when you go out in any sort of… Because celebrity’s a small world, right? It’s kind of being from a small town or when you’re part of a small community, you’re going to a small college, where it’s like you do know who everyone is when you go out, so then it is awkward to be like, “I’m going to go to this restaurant,” and I see Katie and she’s sitting there and I know her, but I’m not saying hi to her because I know who everyone is, so it’s like what decides the line? And I’m always like, “Err on the side of saying hi.”
P: Because I don’t care if you’re Liv Tyler, it’s still cool to say hi to Paris Hilton. You know what I mean? I think that’s the story.
J: Well, also I think it’s cool to also establish, “Hey, I’m going to say hi to you,” and then go sit alone. I’m going to acknowledge your person. I know who you are and that we’re in the same world, but then I’m not going to bother you. Do you know what I mean? Obviously if you’re someone like you or me that’s truly not famous, it’s like, “I’m leaving you alone. I’m not talking to you,” but I guess I’m comparing it to when I go out and see other comedians and it’s like at least I know who they are, I feel like they probably know who I am because maybe we’ve even been on the same show. There’s also the phenomenon of we’ve never met in life, but we follow each other on Instagram, and it’s like you just got to say hi. You have to acknowledge it, and I think that that is so refreshing.
P: Totally. Totally. And celebrity culture is so fascinating to me, and a lot of them don’t even want to be out. That was the other thing, they would go out, but you just got the sense they didn’t want to be there.
J: I mean, being psychotically famous and especially being really famous and young looks really lonely to me. It looks super, super lonely. I did a show at a bar a few months ago, and then very shortly after we finished the show, we were at the bar having a drink and Dua Lipa came in and she went and sat in the corner and the entire bar, and it was a packed bar, the entire bar just went and walked over to just stare at her and take pictures of her drinking, and she was just sitting there with one other person, but they couldn’t even really have a conversation, and I was like, “That looks so lonely and boring.”
P: I have two incredibly famous friends. That’s it. Everybody else I know is a total normie, and it’s Chrissy Teigan and John Legend.
J: Chill vibes. Chill vibes.
P: I know. Chrissy just is a fan of our podcast, and so she became our friend in real life and then we got to know her and John and we did a show in L.A. a couple weeks ago, and whenever we tour, we don’t know anybody anywhere, so it’s usually just me and Gillian in the green room for the hour before the show. But in L.A. we knew a lot of people, so we had 30 people in the green room before the show, and then Chrissy and John walked in and nobody else knew they were coming, and it was all of the air gets sucked out of the room for 10 seconds, and you’re kind of like, “Oh, no. They’re going to hate this,” and then they start talking and then it’s fine. But they can’t do anything. We all went for drinks after, and I was like, “Are you guys going to come?” And they’re like, “No. No,” and were like, “We literally can’t go to drinks after,” and I was like, “Oh.”
J: That sucks.
P: I know. I know. And you could tell they wanted to, they were having a good time, they met everybody, but they were just normal people. Yeah, I think that kind of fame would be very-
J: I guess it gets kind of dangerous because I feel like in the past few years it’s gotten really popular, or not even popular is not the right word, it’s become standard at the Comedy Cellar or when you go see the big tours, if you see Mulaney or someone on tour, they do the phone bag thing where-
P: What’s that?
J: So if you go to the Comedy Cellar now, you have to check your phone and they put it in a sealed bag, so comics can work on stuff and they don’t videotape it, and I feel if a bar or restaurant implemented that, it would potentially do well, but then you can’t really have people getting f*cked up and taking away their phone. It gets dicey. So much of what you’re talking about and what we were talking about with SuChin was the idea of the party and the celebration and what you’re doing, being for what you’re doing in the moment, and not for the content being exported out, and I feel like that there’s almost no way to bring that back unless everyone decides we’re doing it.
P: Yeah. I love going to L.A. I only get to go four times a year, and-
J: That’s more than a lot of people.
P: I know. I go for work a lot. I remember somebody saying to me, “Famous people don’t go out anymore,” and being really sad about that because there’s something-
J: Especially if that used to be part of your life was being out and about, yeah.
P: Totally, and that’s what it’s like. Especially as a worker in the restaurant industry and seeing famous people, it made your sh*tty night fun. Your dumb night at work was better because Leonardo DiCaprio was here and he was cool, and it’s sad to be like, “Oh, no.” You’re out in L.A. and there’s no chance you’re going to see Julia Roberts at the next table.
J: It is just a bummer. That is a bummer. And that’s interesting you say that because I worked at a very popular among the celebrities restaurant when I first moved to New York as well.
P: What was it?
J: We’ll bleep it, but it was ***. Yeah, and it was very, very popular among celebrities when I was working there.
P: I heard you talking about in an episode, I was like, “Whoa.” I was trying to figure out what restaurant it was.
J: Now you get to know, and that’s it. And you’re right. Well, one, I always say I feel like celebrities were always super nice because they’re the only people that I already know what your name is if you’re a d*ck to me. I can say Patrick Hinds was a d*ck to me. You know what I mean? Where I can’t say this guy was a d*ck or whatever, but there also was a fun energy to it of being like, “Oh, you’re bringing this food to this table,” and especially because those jobs are so stressful and can be really boring, especially when you’re the barback or when you’re the food runner or you’re the busser. What I always found really fun and enjoyable and exciting about working in restaurants was bonding with the table, talking, reading their vibe and being like, “Oh, they want this,” and the connection, and that’s really not your job when you’re the busser, the food runner, the barback. You’re supposed to make everything else as smoothly as possible to set the server or the bartender up to do that specifically. And so when I had those positions, I was bored. Truly. I was busy as f*ck, but I was not mentally stimulated because it’s like you’re not talking to anyone, you’re not having interesting conversations.
P: Which is why you work in that industry.
J: Yes. And so then it was fun to be like, “Oh, but at least I’m bringing this fish to Seth Meyers or whatever.” That does add a little pepper of fun to it.
P: And people were d*cks too. I can tell you, Hayden Panettiere was an assh*le, and this was when I was a hotel concierge. She was awful. You want to know who made me cry? You probably don’t even know who this is. Cloris Leachman.
J: Of course I know who Cloris Leachman is.
P: Cloris Leachman made me cry.
J: How did she make you cry?
P: She was old as God and she was dissatisfied. I used to work at the W Hotel in Midtown and the W Hotels is a great brand. I worked at the original W Hotel and it felt like it. It was a crappy hotel, the rooms were tiny, the air conditioning never worked. It was a cool vibe, but-
J: It needed renovation.
P: It needed a renovation. It needed everything. It was just really bad, and Cloris Leachman was not happy about it. So I just remember she wanted to get into the Waverly Inn, and we had kind of an in there, but the guy couldn’t get her in and I was like, “It’s Cloris Leachman. Academy Award winner,” and the guy’s like, “I’m sorry, but we can’t get Natalie Portman in tonight, we can’t get Cloris Leachman in tonight,” and I had to tell her, and her ancient crone hand slammed down on the table and she goes, “You do not understand the kind of service I expect,” and I don’t know why that made me cry, but it did. It made me cry. I was already on the edge. It was a really hard job. I actually loved that job, being a hotel concierge was really fun.
J: Wait. I’ve never talked to anyone who did this job before. What did you love about it?
P: Oh. Well, I knew New York really well because I’ve now lived here for 20 years, but when I was a concierge, I lived here for 12 years and I was one of those people, like you, that liked to know the out-of-the-way spots, the sort of downtown cool spots, the things that people don’t really know about, and I would go out a lot. I wasn’t a partier, but I liked to go out. So I knew stuff, and that was really fun to share that information and really tell people the different, cool places to go and do things.
J: And I wonder, is that a job that’s also kind of faded out with the internet?
P: You were talking about this on another episode and the soul crushing. I was there for the death of the job. The death of the job.
J: Because that must have been so cool to be like, “I’m kind of your secret agent getting you in at all the places,” and the internet takes that away.
P: But I’ll say that at the high-end hotels, at the very high end, like the Ritz Carltons of the world will always have a concierge, mostly because rich people just don’t want to do things for themselves. Not because they couldn’t. At The W it was all about, “Can you get us bottle service at 1 OAK? Can you get us a table at whatever?” And booking tours and stuff, and people just do all that on their own now.
J: So when you were working as a concierge, was part of your job going to 1 OAK and schmoozing so that when you called and was like, “It’s Patrick from The W”?
P: Yeah, we’d get invited all the time. So if I ever wanted to go. By that point, I had a new kid, I was married and I kind of didn’t want to do the club thing, but I would go and you would get bottle service, they’d give it to you all for free. We would see every Broadway show, we would go to every restaurant. It really was like that. It was all free everywhere you went, and then that just started to fade over time. And I did the job for five years and I left before the pandemic. I left, I guess, well before the pandemic, but I remember my friend, they just started closing concierge desks at hotels all over the place. I mean, I enjoyed the job, but there are people who are career concierges.
J: Yeah, that’s really devastating to think about because I worked in a hotel for two seconds. It was six months, but it was quick, and I did not realize. I guess I had never thought about working in hotels because I was just a restaurant person and then someone called me and was like, “We need a bartender at this hotel,” and I got there and I was like, “Oh, hotels are like a f*cking world.” I remember this one girl. One time we were talking and I was like, “Where did you go to college?” And she was like, “I went to hotel school in Switzerland.”
P: And there’s Ivy League schools. Is Penn State the Ivy League one?
P: UPenn has amazing hospitality programs.
J: Right, and then there’s hotel specifications. Just hearing about the world of hotels, and I think because I didn’t grow up with money, if I stayed at a hotel, it was a Best f*cking Western. I didn’t know about this world of having status with certain hotels and the concierges and the connections and having certain rooms and the way that that industry had to be, especially before there were algorithms. The hotel wasn’t just where you slept, it was your key to the city. They were getting you the restaurant, they were telling you where to go, they were getting your tickets. They were taking care of you.
P: And we did all that. People would come in for the weekend. We’d get them Broadway show tickets, we’d hook them up with all their tours, helicopter tours, boat tours, private transfers, and it was fun.
J: I feel like that might be coming back, though, only because I feel like what I’ve been smelling in the water, I think a lot of people are saying this right now, is people are like, “Wait. Airbnb sucks. I want to be in a f*cking hotel,” and I’ve always low-key been that way. I’ve been broke most of my life, so I’ve been like, “Fine. We’ll do Airbnb,” but if I could, I’d be in a hotel all the time. And now with the fees and the cleaning and stuff, it actually makes more sense to stay in a hotel nine times out of 10, but I feel like hotels are realizing, “Oh, people are realizing that it’s more than just where you sleep, and those things are being valued more.” I don’t know. The idea of being able to call a concierge and be like, “Where should we go tonight?” I’m realizing, I’m like, “Do I want to be a hotel concierge?” It just sounds really fun, but it’s like calling and knowing that that person on the other line is actually a cool person who lives in the city and does this sh*t, being like, “Yeah, do you want to go to Joyface? Do you want to do this?” That’s f*cking cool.
P: And I’ll tell you, our concierge team was kind of a unicorn because we had the guy that knew all the clubs and knew all the promoters. I was the Broadway guy, I was the downtown guy, so I knew all the shows, but I could also tell you a cool way to spend the day on the Lower East Side. I could plan your whole day for you. Or the West Village. I could give you a walking tour of exactly where you start here and then you end up at the river and all the things you see in between. And then we had other girls who were into shopping and knew all the stores.
J: Like Park Avenue, yeah.
P: Totally, and it was fun to work on a team like that because you’re kind of like, “I don’t really know, but Marco’s going to be here at 4. I’ll get the info from here. Let me get your email.”
J: That doesn’t sound like a unicorn, that sounds like a well-designed concierge team. That sounds like someone did a really good job.
P: I guess I understand the company Starwood, which doesn’t exist anymore. Marriott bought it, but I guess we were paid well and if you can cut five people. We just weren’t busy anymore. When I first started there, it was around Christmastime, and I remember there were two concierges per shift and we just would have a line all the way through the lobby for most of the shift. You’re sneaking sips of water, it’s exhausting, but fun. And by the last six months I was there, we were down to one concierge per shift and you’re just sitting there with nothing to do, and the hotel is full. Yeah, it’s crazy.
J: That’s so interesting. I had not thought about that. Oh, God. So you’ve lived in New York for, at this point, 20 years? 22 years?
P: 22 years.
J: That’s amazing. What did going out look for you back then in the Moomba days and then what does it look like now?
P: Well, it’s very different now. Going out back then was great because it would always be after work, right? So I worked at a cool place so I could get into cool places, but I also wasn’t super interested in that. I was really interested in the gay bars and clubs at the time. I was hanging out in Hell’s Kitchen when there were three bars, you would go to Posh, Therapy, and Barrage. There were three bars and nobody lived there, there were no restaurants over there. The West Village was the gay spot, then Chelsea was the gay spot, then it was Hell’s Kitchen, but this was before Hell’s Kitchen-
J: Please don’t tell me the Upper West Side is in there.
P: You know what’s so funny about that, is that the Upper West Side was the gay spot before the Village, so in the late ’60s. The Upper West Side actually used to have 15 gay bars. It’s crazy. And then the Village was where you lived and then you would party on the Upper West Side. It was bananas. Yeah. I’m a weird gay history nerd, so I know these things.
J: No, please. I find that fascinating.
P: Yeah, there was a couple that were still around when I was going out in the early 2000s.
J: Yeah, I feel like the only gay bar I know of above 50th Street is Suite.
P: Which is on 109th Street.
J: That’s what I’m saying, like up there.
P: And now up in Washington Heights they have gay bars too.
J: Yeah, they didn’t, but I lived there from 2014 to 2017. No gay bars up there then. None. I remember in 2019, 2018, 2019, someone being like, “Oh, yeah. There’s a Boxers on 157th,” and I was like, “Am I having a stroke? What are you talking about?”
P: Is it even safe to go to a gay bar up there?
J: There’s a Boxers up there?
P: I know. But yeah. I mean, back in the day it was cool because I would work at Moomba and then the doorman who worked at Moomba worked at this APT place where they would always do this SNL after-party. So we would work and then we would go to the after-parties, and that was really fun. And Cafeteria was really cool back then. So you’d go out there. Cafeteria’s still around. You ever go?
J: I’m very familiar with it because the UCB bar was McGinns, which is across the street from it, so I always saw Cafeteria, but I’ve never partaken in Cafeteria. But once again, a restaurant but it kind of acts like a lounge at times.
P: It’s really more of a restaurant because it was open 24 hours and you would go there at 4 in the morning, everything closed.
J: What’s the name of… Coppelia, the Cuban spot on 14th.
P: Yeah. And sometimes I’d get to go out with famous people, which was really fun. When Moomba closed, Sam Ronson took her party to Suite Sixteen, which was this new place, and she brought me over to work the party, and I remember I got kind of close with Tara Reid and it was so crazy. Tara Reid was very cool and she used to come into Suite Sixteen with a bunch of men she seemed like she did not want to be hanging out with. That was what would always happen, and one of them was Mark McGrath. She would come in with him all the time, yeah. He was also really nice, and the thing was they would always order shots, but I would have to give her lime juice to make it look like she was doing shots. And then I remember one night she was there until closing and I went down to close out and one of the bouncers came down… The bouncer, by the way, was the guy — I’m going to forget his name now — but he played the guy with the really big dick on “Sex and the City.” Do you know who I’m talking about? I can’t think of his name now, but-
J: The one that Samantha can’t f*ck it’s so big?
P: Yes, exactly. Exactly. He dated Madonna, but he was the doorman at Suite Sixteen. But he came down and he’s like, “Patrick, Tara Reid is waiting for you at the bar,” and I went up and she’s like, “I want to go to breakfast.” I was like, “Great. Let’s go to Cafeteria,” and Tara Reid and I went to breakfast at Cafeteria. It was crazy. It was so fun.
J: When you were doing this, I was in Vermont thinking that would be the coolest thing in the world.
P: Yeah. I mean, honestly. And it feels weird now because to me it felt like I was just going out after work. I remember putting her in a cab at the end of the night and I gave the cab driver 50 bucks or whatever, and I was like, “I cannot be the last person to see her alive. Get her to where she’s going, please.”
J: Well, because it is funny because when you meet celebrities, the second you meet them and start hanging out with them, they just become a person and the celebrity goes away, but then it’s funny then talking about it in the past and being like, “And it was Tara Reid,” and everyone has their own opinion of that, and whatever that was.
P: And people don’t remember how famous she was. She was so, so famous.
J: Yeah, because that’s another thing. I think the theme of this episode is talking about how just different things were back then. Because celebrities weren’t as accessible, they were more famous in this weird way you knew less about them, there was a mystique about them and it was like if you wanted to know what was going, you had to watch “Extra,” you had to watch “Access Hollywood,” or had to watch “E! News,” or read the magazines, and then like the Lizzie… What’s her name?
P: Lizzie Grubman.
J: I almost said Lizzie Grant, which is Lana Del Rey’s real name. Lizzie Grubman. Like the Lizzie Grubmans. Isn’t that what Kelly Cutrone does? Was she PR?
P: That name sounds really familiar, but I don’t know.
J: Kelly Cutrone’s PR too, right?
K: Fashion PR. Fashion.
J: Yeah, she’s fashion PR. But it was filtered through them to come out. So it’s like anyone who was in “American Pie” was so f*cking famous. So f*cking famous. I’m trying to think what the version of that is right now. Katie, you’re younger than me. What would you say is the thing right now that people are on it, they’re so famous?
Katie Brown: “Euphoria.”
J: Oh, 100 percent. Yeah, “Euphoria” is a good answer, but “Euphoria” is more prestige-y. I guess it’s also just that there’s so much more content out now that it’s like people… I just remember when the “American Pie” movies came out, I was not old enough to be allowed to watch them, and I was literally like, “Well, I’m being left behind by the entire culture by everyone.” I was like, “Every other person in the world has seen this movie.”
P: I remember when I stopped knowing who everybody was at the Grammys. That to me was a turning point.
J: Yeah, that probably happened to me. It wasn’t the Grammys for me. It was probably five or six years ago I went to look at the top 50 songs on Spotify and was like, “I don’t know a single person.”
P: There’s nine movies a year that are nominated for an Academy Award. I’ve never heard of any of them.
J: Well, that’s funny that you say that because I feel like with that, that’s a different thing where it’s because you kind of have to seek out the Oscar movies now. In a weird way, I feel like you do. I feel that the Marvel movies will come out and then you’ll get your “A Star is Born,” your “Top Gun.” I’m trying to think of the big movies.
P: Well, it’s “The Year of the Dog,” or whatever, the Jane Campion one.
J: “The Power of the Dog.” But that’s my point. Those movies you have to seek out. You have to go see IFC to see that, or Angelika. And I guess there’s always been movies at the Oscars that it’s like, “Who saw those?” Because especially growing up in Vermont, a lot of those movies just did not come to… I remember “Brokeback Mountain” did not play in my hometown for the first four months it was out, and I don’t think for a political reason, just because it was an indie, and I think that now, especially because they do the 10 nominees, there’s more movies. A lot of movies come in that you have to seek them out a little bit.
P: So to kind of answer your question, what going out now is like. Oh, God, it’s really hard to find a babysitter. You know what I mean?
J: Yeah. How many kids do you have?
P: Just one. We have an 8-year-old and she’s perfect, but she’s also a terror and a nightmare. My work schedule is so crazy. My day starts literally at 4 a.m., and so a lot of days I work until 7 or 8 at night.
J: Wait. Why does the work day start at 4 a.m.?
P: I mean, I just run a podcast at work, so there’s just a lot to do. But I also love getting up early. I’m just an early morning person. And years ago, I was like, “I’m going to see if I can wake up at 4 and start working,” and I did and I kind of never looked back. I know. I know.
J: What time do you go to bed?
P: If I’m really legit going to wake up at 4, I’ll try to be in bed before 9. It used to be hard 8. When Daisy was a little younger and her bedtime would be 8, I would go to bed at 8:00 too, but then I was like, “I should spend some time with my husband, I guess.” You know what I mean? So going out now is a rarity, but it’s like we’ll go to the theater and we’ll go to dinner, or we got a bunch of our friends we hadn’t seen together in a long time and we did a pub crawl of Hell’s Kitchen.
J: Yeah. I’m curious, I haven’t talked to anyone about this. So you have an 8-year-old. What is like figuring out, especially as someone who worked in a restaurant, taking a child out to restaurants?
P: In a way we are able to cop out in a way that people didn’t used to be able to because you can just give them your phone. You can give them a screen and they literally shut up, and my husband is really big on not letting… We’ll let her take the phone when we’re ordering, and then she has to participate in the meal when we’re eating. We just went out to dinner last night and it was pretty good. I mean, she’s at that age. We just went down to visit her grandparents, and we were on a little ferry tour thing and somebody had left a book about John Wilkes Booth on the table and she’s like, “Daddy, who’s John Wilkes Booth?” So we explained to her who John Wilkes Booth was and we were using words 8-year-olds can understand why he did what he did and whatever, and last night at dinner, we took the phone away and Daisy goes, “Daddy, why did that man want slavery?” She’s 8. It’s kind of like that. You just have to really engage them now, but it’s hard though. I worked in restaurants for so long and I was like… When Daisy was a baby and we would go out and she would make a mess, I was the dad under the table, cleaning up all the stuff on the floor, under the chair. I was never going to be the dad that left the carnage.
J: You think you can imagine what people leave behind from their kids in restaurants, and I’m telling you it’s 100 times worse. It’s actually unbelievable what people will leave behind.
P: And it’s like, “How did that child make that much of a mess in 40 minutes?”
J: And I’m also like, “What food did get in their mouth? What got in their mouth?” And it’s also food we don’t serve. I’m like, “Why is there lo mein under the table in this Italian restaurant?”
P: Where did Fruity Pebbles come from?
J: What are we doing here? It’s absolutely crazy. So God bless you for that. I feel like New York parents will bring their child to any restaurant. I’m like, “You got to pick and choose.”
P: Well, Steve wanted to go to Quality Meats last night. Great choice, but Daisy was coming from camp and she was wearing a leotard and shorts and he’s like, “Is she okay?” I’m like, “No, she’s not okay. We can’t go to Quality Meats with her like this. She needs a dress. She just can’t go in a leotard.”
J: That’s funny that you say that because it’s also like the dress is probably a signal to her also of what’s sort of happening there. If she’s in a leotard and then she goes to do a cartwheel, and you’re like, “You can’t do a cartwheel,” she’s like, “Well then why the f*ck am I in a leotard, dad?” Do you know what I mean? Whereas a dress is a kind of cue, “Maybe this is a place to chill out.”
P: And I don’t mean to say that she’s a girl, she needs to wear a dress. I just mean she needs to wear something that is-
J: If she wants a three-piece suit, let’s put her in a three piece suit.
P: Daisy, your tuxedo. You got to get your tuxedo on.
J: Daisy, tighten your cummerbund. But I think that it’s a two-way street. You’re not just dressing up for the thing, it’s also to inform how you feel in the place.
P: Which I didn’t realize until you explained it to me, and that is exactly right.
J: But I think that’s also not just true of children, because okay, the restaurant that we’ve bleeped earlier that I worked at. Did you ever go there?
P: I must have. I don’t have a memory of it, but I must have.
J: So it’s a really interesting restaurant because it was attached to a hotel that was also very fancy, but it was like-
P: Oh, right. Of course. Yes, I did go there.
J: Yeah, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful room, but because it’s connected to a hotel, in my mind, it was the kind of place… You don’t need to be in a suit and a gown, but I would dress nice to go there. So I would want to look nice and celebrities would come in. I remember the first time I ever went there as a guest I tripped walking in and really nearly, almost tackled the woman in front of me. Tripped in a bad way where I tripped on the door jam and really almost tackled, and the hostess had this look of true horror on her face, and I was like, “Yeah, I almost tackled that woman. I’m sorry,” and then I recovered because I was like, “I need to talk to the host, I know where I’m going,” And I walked around and looked back and I was like, “Oh, it was Uma Thurman in a gown.” She looked incredible and I was like, “I almost took Uma down. I almost killed Bill,” and it was really bad. So this restaurant, people would look amazing, but then because it’s a hotel, these also rich San Francisco tech bros would come down in slide flip-flops, Adidas shorts, and a T-shirt, and I was like, “This sucks for everyone. It sucks for you and it sucks for me because you’re killing the vibe. And also do you not feel…?” Part of the fun in being in these spaces is the dress up, and like you said, I’m not going to say it has to be a certain price point of clothing, I’m not going to say that it has to be gendered in any sort of specific way, and it’s almost sort of the porn argument of I don’t know what it is, but I know when I see it. I need to see your version of looking nice, and honestly, that could be denim done right. I don’t give a f*cking sh*t. I’m not going to make hard-line rules, but look nice.
P: Let me ask you a question. Do you think that you look nice right now? No, that is not a shady question because I think you look really nice right now.
J: Okay, thank you.
P: You strike me as the kind of person who knows exactly the kind of clothing that is your fit, your vibe, your thing.
J: So you’ve fallen for my trap, which is I will find an outfit I like, and then keep wearing it. I’m not good at dressing myself generally. These are my boyfriend’s pants. I tried them on last week, and it turns out they look amazing on me, so they’re my pants now. He doesn’t know. I figured out that I like this outfit. This is the third time I’ve worn it in a week and a half. It’s not like I know everything, but to answer your question, I do think I look nice right now. I would think about, depending on the restaurant, the fact that I’m not wearing sleeves would make me question. I don’t think I can go anywhere right now, but on a summer day in New York, I can go anywhere for lunch right now. Let’s say that. I can go anywhere for lunch right now.
P: I just want you to know you’re living up to what I hoped you would be. You’re nailing it.
J: Thank you. Thank you. I’m glad I don’t-
P: I could go anywhere for lunch. That is such a perfect New York distinction.
J: I could go to anywhere for lunch, and I could go to a lot of places. I could go probably anywhere in Brooklyn for dinner. And to be honest, the places where I couldn’t go in a tank top are not really my scene. It’s not my vibe.
P: Because pulling off an outfit is as much about the attitude as it is about the clothes. It’s as much about feeling you look good. I remember-
J: I remember seeing a Tom Ford quote that was like, “I hate when people wear shorts in the city,” and that pissed me off.
P: I wanted to wear pants for you. I brought pants to the office to change and I couldn’t do it.
J: Because I’m like, “Tom, it gets hot,” and similarly, I don’t think that those hard-and-fast rules, especially with fashion or aesthetics, work.
P: He’s the first f*cking asshole to go home and put on shorts on a hot day. Nobody who says something like that actually means it.
J: Yes. There’s the restaurants where they require that men wear jackets or whatever, and I get that.
P: There’s only two and I’m glad they exist because something like that should exist for those of us who want to experience that once a year.
J: And for me, that’s also, it’s a time capsule. You’re going to experience that thing, and it’s like… Yeah, I can’t even remember the name. There’s one on Bleecker that’s white, that has a sign in the window that says, “All men, please wear jackets.” There’s a handful of them in New York.
P: Le Bernardin is like that, but they will also provide the jacket if you don’t have one.
J: 100 percent percent, and I think that that is fun because that used to be what a lot of these old smoky, sexy restaurants used to be. If we’re trying to create that vibe, we’re trying to create that vibe, and everyone’s consenting to that by entering. They’re signing up for it, and I think that’s really fun.
P: And you don’t have to have a jacket. You can put one on when you get here, but you do have to wear one.
J: Yeah, I think having a staunch dress code is really dicey. You’re signing yourself up for some trouble, but I do want you to look nice, and it’s the kind of thing where it sucks because to enforce it is inherently bad. If you put a bouncer at the door and you’re like, “Make sure everyone looks nice. If you don’t let them in,” immediately you’re going to get canceled, and also if it’s one person’s decision, it’s going to be bad. I just want people to listen. I’m like, “Just show up. Don’t wear f*cking Adidas.” Adidas shorts never look nice. Let me tell you that right now. Adidas basketball shorts, I don’t want to see that at dinner. Out at a basic restaurant, I don’t give a f*ck what you wear, but if I’m at Keens Steakhouse, let’s leave the Adidas at home.
P: You love that place?
J: So I’ve never actually been. I keep on referencing it because it’s like my top No. 1 I want to go to.
P: Yeah, you reference it sometimes, and I only went one time for dinner. It has such a storied history.
J: And it’s women-owned, women-operated. It’s very cool.
P: Yeah, but it used to be back in the day in the ’30s when the theater district was in that area, women weren’t allowed, and Sarah Bernhardt, I want to say, was the first woman they ever let in or something.
J: That’s insane.
P: Yeah, it’s crazy. But it’s as good as they say. In the way that Peter Luger isn’t as good as they say, Keens is as good as they.
J: That’s the narrative, and I am dying to go, but Keens is in my back pocket when I’m talking about that kind of old-school, classic, storied New York restaurant that’s just an obvious reference, but Le Bernardin’s a good example of that too.
P: I’ve never eaten at Le Bernardin. Have you been?
J: No. No, because I’m at a place in my life where we have a budget to irresponsibly go out a lot in a week, and I would prefer that than going out once somewhere really fancy. Do you know what I mean?
P: One million percent.
J: And I don’t have the budget to irresponsibly go out to those places often. We’re not there yet. We’ll see what happens, and then one day maybe we’ll go to Le Bernardin and Keens in one week, but I would rather go to my spots in the neighborhood or whatever.
P: Do you go out every night?
J: No, I go out a lot. I don’t go out every night because I also love cooking. Genuinely very much.
P: Oh, really?
J: Yes, I very much enjoy cooking. I really, really love to cook. And if I’m bored or feeling anxious, it’s actually more if I’m feeling anxious, something needs to get something out, I’ll cook a full meal that I’ll put in the fridge and eat it later.
P: Oh, my God. What kind of food do you make?
J: Whatever. I don’t know. I’ll make a pasta sauce and I’ll be like, “Nate, take it to work. I just made this dish because I feel like I need to cook.” Sometimes I’ll eat it. If it lines up with meal time, I’ll eat it, but other times I just want to cook. I love seeing people. I love being social, and so I will probably do that. I would say the average is four or five times a week, and I also love to host, so I love having people over. It’s just a mix.
P: That’s not what we do now. We finally have an apartment that we love and we have people over a lot. It’s hard having an 8-year-old.
J: Yeah. No, 100 percent. But she’ll not be 8 forever and then you’ll get to go out.
P: We think about that all the time. We’re like, “She’s not that far away from being able to stay home by herself for a couple hours while we go.” We’re talking three, four, five… I don’t know. Can you leave a 14-year-old home alone for an hour?
J: Yeah, I don’t know what age I started getting left home alone. I remember when I was 10 I was allowed to sit in the front seat of the car. That was a big twist. That was huge. Wait. What was I just going to say? Oh, that’s the other thing is I recently got a co-working space, but I don’t go there every day, and a lot of my work day will be at home. So at the end of the day I want to leave. And when my boyfriend was also working from home, it was like, “Get us out of here. We’ve been in this house all f*cking day,” and so I think that’s another part. I love my apartment. I love, love, love my apartment, but I’m in it a lot during the day and she’s dark. We don’t have windows. We’re a garden apartment of a brownstone. So it’s gorgeous. It’s in an old building. I love it. It’s spacious. It’s wonderful. The one downside? Dark. And so I’m like, “Let me get out into the sunlight. Let me get out into the city lights. I just need to be out for a second.”
P: You’re an extrovert?
P: Yeah, okay. Me too. And during the pandemic, I used to tweet all the time, “Check on your extroverts. Your extroverts are suffering.”
J: Yeah, it’s so true. And I think that’s a part of it. I will say the pandemic made me realize I was less extroverted than I thought.
P: Oh, really? I realized I was more, if you can imagine. I was more extroverted.
J: That’s so funny because what I didn’t realize was how much of my life had alone time built into it. I had my commutes, I had my time off, I had my mornings because I worked at nights and my boyfriend worked during the day, so I did everything to myself during the day. I could go on a walk, I could go shopping by myself. And then suddenly he was home all the time and I was home all the time, and I didn’t have a commute and I didn’t have anything that was a thing I did alone, and I was like, “Oh, I actually need a lot of alone time.” Not a lot, but I need a good amount. So now I like what my life is, which is I have my different projects, I have the podcast, I have this, I have that. So I’m running around during the day doing them and I’ll see you, I’ll see Katie, I’ll see different people, but it’s for an hour here, hour there, and then, a big social plan at night. Do you know what I mean? I’m meeting someone, a director I worked with a couple weeks ago for drinks tonight, and that’ll be like, “When the work day is done, I’m going to do that,” and that’ll be the rest of my night. And I like to have that cut off, and then I do a thing for the night.
P: Can I ask you some questions about you in case I never see you again?
J: Oh, my God. Please.
P: So is this what you do now?
J: I do a mix of things. So I do the podcast, I do stand-up, I have a project that hasn’t been announced yet that’s a thing I’m doing, and then I do ads.
P: So you don’t work in restaurants anymore?
J: No, I stopped in September.
P: And was that a big deal?
J: Yeah, it definitely was a big deal in a lot of ways. It’s funny because when I first moved to New York, I was like, “I think I want to be a comedian and an actor, and I also really love working in restaurants.” So I thought I had it made because I was like, “I can do both.” What’s the f*cking term? I can hedge my bets. I had things on both ends. I was like, “If restaurants don’t work out, or if acting doesn’t work out, I’ll have restaurants. So that’s fine,” and that’s why I worked at that restaurant because it was such a fancy career restaurant, and then I realized how brutal a lifelong career in hospitality was, and I was like, “F*ck. I need to…” Not that being an actor and a comedian is much more stable, but I also just realized, “Oh, one of these is actually my true dream and I just wasn’t willing to go after it.” And so then it was like, “F*ck. I need to make this happen.” So then it became this huge goal of mine to get out of restaurants, and I really villainized restaurants and I really felt like restaurants were the thing that was helping me pay my bills and it was getting things done, but at the same time, also it was the thing that was preventing me from getting where I was going because it took so much energy, it was so hard because the thing was I was working. I always worked in good restaurants that people who want a career in the restaurant industry should work at, which is what I should not have been doing because I also cared about it, and so I was working hard. I wasn’t showing up and phoning it in. Shout out to Rosemary’s if you ever worked at Rosemary’s. By the end, I was phoning it the f*ck in at Rosemary’s.
P: The Rosemary’s in the Village?
J: I worked there for four years, and it was a great gig. They were great to me. It was a really good gig. By the end, I was 100 percent phoning in and I can’t deny it. I was on my phone all the time.
P: That’s one where they have the herb garden on the roof, right?
J: Yeah, yeah. And then I went to Kindred, which was the last restaurant I was at before I left, and I loved working there and it was really amazing and they treated us so well, and that was also during the pandemic, so there was a period where the entertainment industry turned off. So then I just was a restaurant person with no entertainment career prospects or energy at all, and it was actually quite nice. And then when things started to pick up for me with comedy and with entertainment, I sort of started to freak out because I was like, “Oh, f*ck. I actually now don’t have the energy to do restaurants, but I’m not quite ready to leave. I’m not quite financially ready to leave and also emotionally, I don’t know if I’m ready,” but then I just had to because it was like I can’t turn down these opportunities to do this. This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It didn’t happen exactly in the way it did, but it was definitely a huge life shift. And I feel like I’m still going through the transition eight months later 100 percent.
P: Can I give you a little advice?
P: I remember when I became a full-time podcaster and this was before I decided to have a podcast network and we were successful enough that me and Gillian were both able to quit our jobs, and then my husband was able to quit his job and come be our manager, and I remember it felt very stable, but at the same time it felt like it could all go away tomorrow, and we would be right back to where we were, except now we couldn’t get a job. It was just that panic of… And I remember one day in therapy saying to my therapist, “You know what? I’m never going back. This is my life now. It’s this or better,” and it was a mental shift in that moment of, “Oh, I can let go of that worry because it’s not going to go away.” You just have to decide that everything’s going to be fine. You, if I may be so bold, are a phenomenal talent.
J: Thank you. That’s so nice.
P: My agent called me and was like, “Do you know this guy?” I was like, “Which guy?” He’s like, “There’s this gay guy on TikTok.” I’m like, “I know you’re talking about Jake.” And he texted me your video, and I was like, “Oren.” And my agent, his name is Oren Rosenbaum, UTA. He’s the guy. He’s the podcast agent. And we talked about you for 20 minutes. You have something. Excuse me. I’m not crying, I’m choking.
J: He’s excited, but I’m not that great.
P: No, there’s just something about you and it’s-
J: Thank you. That’s really sweet.
P: Yeah, I’m truly honored to be here and to meet you, you are a phenomenal talent.
J: That is very, very nice, and thank you for saying that. And that’s very helpful advice. I mean, what you guys have done with your podcast is so hugely impressive, but you’re right, it does feel like it could all go away. It does feel like it could all go away because on some level, it’s based on a social aspect of people like you, people like you and want to invest.
P: But that’s not going to change. You know what I mean? But that was the place I had to get to because my stock and trade is similar. We do very different things, but my success is based on people liking me, and I remember realizing at some point like, “Oh, it’s not an act. The reason the podcast is successful is because Gillian and I are both so authentic and it’s irreplaceable.” You know what I mean? TikTok could shut down tomorrow, you would just move all that success to Instagram. The you that you are selling is just very, very unique.
J: Thank you. That is very, very nice.
P: Yeah, it’s true though, and I’m so excited to see where you go and what you do because I love that you’re not just-
J: I promise I did not pay Patrick to be on this podcast.
P: No, I mean, you’re doing all the things. You’re doing your show and you’re touring and you’re doing this and you’re doing the TikTok stuff. I don’t know how you come up with it. It’s exciting to see you expanding in all these areas because you’re going to have success in all of them.
J: Thank you. That’s really nice. That’s really, really nice. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s definitely been a huge life shift. I think what you just mentioned has been specifically the hardest part. The fact that I have so many jobs now, especially with the show going to Fringe, it’s so crazy.
P: This is the “Him and Her” show?
J: “Man and Woman,” yeah.
J: No, “Him and Her.” Very similar. But it’s very crazy to me. Normally in my previous life, it would’ve been like I have my restaurant job and then one other big thing, it was UCB for a long time or it was this other thing, and now it’s like I have to run home from this recording to do that, and it’s sure it’s similar to you with having your own podcast and the network, where it’s just a very different thing. The thing of working in restaurants and working in hospitality and showing up and being like, “I am so good at this skill for the next six hours, and then it’s done,” that part of my life is over and I’m still learning. Because my boyfriend will be like, “You cannot work on a Saturday,” and I’m like, “But I can.” And the thing is, he thinks I’m obsessed and I’m like, “No, I’m actually not at the place where I can’t. I need to get a little farther along and then I can’t, but right now I’m working on a Saturday. For maybe a couple hours I am working on a Saturday, and I’m probably working on a Sunday.”
P: I remember saying to Steve, I remember realizing I could get all the work I needed to get done in a week done if I worked on the weekends. I was like, “Oh, my God. It’s two extra days. You can get it all done.”
J: Yeah, and maybe one day I’ll be able to delegate back or whatever, or maybe when Fringe is over, right now it’s like I’m working on the weekends and that’s just what it is, and here’s the thing. I am still happier than when I was in restaurants. I wasn’t miserable in restaurants. I’ve been very fortunate to be happy most of my life.
P: That’s amazing because the thing about what I was thinking about with you working in restaurants was that restaurants fed you in a way it doesn’t feed most creative people.
J: I had to get there, though. Yeah, I hated it, and the thing is I had to get there because I hated it for so long and then I realized I was like, “I’m more focused on getting out of restaurants than I am on being successful at comedy. I’m obsessed with getting out of this. I’m not focused on what actually is going to get me out, which is doing well at this thing,” and that was when I was like, “I can’t work.” That was why I left that first restaurant that was so brutal, that’s why I left the hotel. I stayed at Rosemary’s for so long because when I showed up to Rosemary’s, Rosemary’s had already been opened for eight years at that point, and it was a well-f*cking-oiled machine. I’d be like, “What happens if the bartender doesn’t show up?” And I was so ready for all these crises that had happened at all my other places, I’d be like, “What…” and they were like, “That just doesn’t happen here,” and I was like, “Oh, okay.” And it was a well-oiled machine, and so I stayed for four years because it was dependable. I knew how things were going to work. I roughly knew how much money I was going to make every week. It was really stable in that way, but I still resented it to an extent, and then that was when I sort of had to pivot, and especially when I started working at Kindred, where I had to be like, “Wait. I like this, and it’s okay to like this and still want to leave it,” Also that was when I started doing comedy about it. And because I had villainized it for so long, I felt like I couldn’t do any comedy about it because I was really afraid if people knew I was a restaurant person, they wouldn’t take me seriously as an actor and they wouldn’t take me seriously as a comedian, and so I was like, “I have to leave.”
P: Because every comedian is just independently wealthy.
J: Most of them are.
P: Is that right?
J: Well, I mean, that was the crazy thing when I started at UCB, I kind of assumed… Because UCB, the Upright Citizens Brigade, was where I first started doing comedy stuff, and then I branched out after I left or whatever, or it closed, but I remember when I started out, I think I kind of naively assumed that everyone was going to show up on an even playing field because also I didn’t grow up around rich people. I would say the rich girl in my school, her parents were doctors and she drove a new Honda Civic. That was the richest girl in my school. Do you know what I mean? I didn’t know how rich rich people were because especially when you go to college, everyone lives in the dorms, it kind of just feels like everyone’s same level of rich, and also Burlington, which is where I went to college, even the rich kids are ski bums so they look like sh*t. I didn’t know, and so then when I got to New York, I thought we were all going to show up to try to be comedians and be on the same playing field, and then I would immediately, “Wait, how do you pay your rent?” And they were like, “My dad does,” and I was like, “There’s no way,” and you just have to learn. And that’s a huge lesson I think you have to learn when you’re doing is whether you’re being a podcaster, a comedian, an actor, you can’t compare yourself to someone else’s path because if you do that, you’re setting yourself up a failure and their success is going to happen no matter what. No matter how mad you get at the fact that they didn’t have to pay their own rent, they still won’t and they’re still going to go on and be successful, so stop thinking about it. Focus on how to pay your own because that’s your reality. And then maybe when you’re at the top, remember that feeling and look back at how you can be more equitable than it was for you. You fighting against it in the moment is only f*cking you over, and I wish I had realized that a lot earlier. But yeah, I remember when I got there, there were so many comedians. I was like, “Wait, your dad does what? Your mom does what? You have how much money? You grew up where?” And just realizing so many people… Because I mean, it makes sense. No one is forced to do comedy, thank God. You know what I mean? We all do this, and no one is forced to go into acting. I guess some child actors probably, but no adult is forced into acting, no adult is forced to do comedy, and I think it’s a naturally self-selecting thing where the less risk you have in your life, or the less of a risk it is, the more likely you are to take it. If you have a huge net under you, you’re more likely to go into this risk thing. Yeah, a huge number of those people had a sh*t f*cking ton of money.
P: Wow. I didn’t realize that.
J: I mean, it just makes sense. You know what I mean? It’s hard. If you’re trying to figure out a job, it’s like, “Okay, do you want to be a comedian? Then you need to find a day job so you can be free at night for mics. Or do you also want to be an actor? Then you have to do a day job where you also can leave to audition,” and then suddenly it’s like, “What’s going on?” I think it’s a little bit easier now because all auditions are self-taped, so you could be working a day job and do your self-tape when you get home. But back when I moved here, when I would get an audition, which happened once every 200 years, it was like for the next day at noon and I was like, “I have a lunch shift.” It’s an interesting sort of system.
P: But you found your own way, you made your own way, you’re doing your own thing and that’s something that you figured out how to do that you always will be able to do.
J: So you were a concierge when you started the podcast?
P: Yes. I was a theater podcaster before just because I loved podcasts and I loved theater and I was making a Broadway podcast where I was interviewing Broadway people, and then I honestly truly wanted to make a true crime podcast, but I also wanted to make money making a podcast, and I thought, “If there’s any genre that I’m going to be able to do that in, it’s going to be a true crime.” I met Gillian who was also a theater podcaster, and we were like, “Let’s make a true crime podcast together. What’s it going to be?” We had this idea, I want to do a three- segmented podcast where the first part would be true crime news, and this middle part we would talk about a thing, like a documentary or a podcast, and then the final part would be an interview with somebody from the true crime world, and we made a pilot. We actually did all three segments and in the middle segment we had both watched the documentary, “The Imposter,” which is a bananas documentary.
J: Is that the one about the boy who gets found, but it’s not the boy?
P: Yes, it’s so crazy. And we were kind of recapping it, but not really. We were kind of just talking about it. And Gillian and I were new friends, I didn’t know her that well, and she was just making me laugh so hard. You hear me laughing off mic because I didn’t know if it was appropriate to laugh or not, and I was making her laugh, but we were never laughing about the crime or the family, it was always about the other stuff, the stuff in the margins. And when I went to edit the first episode, I remember thinking like, “Oh, God. This is so good. This middle part is so good, and no one is doing any podcasts like this.” There’s so many true crime documentaries and nobody’s talking about them, and I remember calling Gillian and being like, “I know this isn’t what we wanted to make, but I think this is the thing,” and so she was like, “All right, let’s do it.” And that was it. We called it “True Crime Obsessed,” which is a terrible title because it tells you nothing about what the podcast is, but it’s a great title because if you go to Apple Podcast and you Google “true crime,” it’s one of the first ones that comes up, and here we are 600 episodes later. Yeah, it’s been five years. A couple months ago, Gillian was like, “We’re about to hit our five-year anniversary,” and I was like, “Oh, my God.” And when I look back at where we started, we were recording episodes in my living room in Harlem where we each had a million other jobs, she was freelancing, she had a million jobs, I had a job, to where we are now where both of us, this is our full-time job and we have an office and a beautiful podcast studio that’s air conditioned. Where we’ve come in five years, it’s been totally life-changing.
J: That’s so amazing. But it’s like you weren’t sitting down being, “How do I get out of being a hotel concierge?” You were being like, “Oh, I like this.” You know what I mean? I think that is the trick, and it’s so hard to get to that place when you are working these jobs, but similarly I think part of it was probably you were enjoying being a concierge. I think that there is romance. I remember talking to my friend once, there’s a romance to the starving artist and there’s a romance to the hustling, worked-down artist, and it’s like, “Hey, I don’t actually think it’s helpful to your creative process,” whatever your art form is, if that’s being a podcaster, that’s being a painter, that’s being a comedian. I don’t think it’s actually helpful to your process to have to spend 30 to 60 hours of your week f*cking miserable. Find a job that is passable. I’m not saying to go there and it’s all your best friends, you have the best friends, because that actually might be distracting. That was another reason I loved Rosemary’s. It was like, I don’t want to hang out with these people, we don’t go out after work, but I like being around them enough for the day.
P: And that’s a major thing in the restaurant business is that if you have ambitions beyond that, you can lose yourself in the fun of restaurant friends.
J: Yeah, if you catch yourself like six months in and you’re like, “I’ve gone out every night after work,” I get it and it’s so fun, and you can have that life, but just take a moment to assess. Take a moment to assess exactly. 100 percent take a moment to assess. This has been so, so fun. This has been the best. I love to plan, and I know you have an 8-year-old so you’ll have to plan around it, but I like to end our episodes with planning a night out together.
P: Don’t you dare, I would love that.
J: But I love an early meetup, so this could work out well. You live in Hell’s Kitchen?
J: I never go out there, so let’s do Hell’s Kitchen. What’s a restaurant you love?
P: All right. Let’s do this. Come to my house for a drink on the roof. We’ll do a drink on the roof, and then we’ll go… You know where I’ve never been? Casellula. Have you been?
J: I’ve never heard of it.
P: Casellula is like a cheese and wine place. Should we do that?
J: Yeah, I love cheese and wine.
P: Oh, my God. And it’s right around the corner from my place.
J: Oh, perfect. Okay. This will be great. Okay, perfect.
P: I’m going to hold you to it. I don’t know if this is real or not, but we’re doing it.
J: No, this is real. Send me a DM and we’ll do it.
P: All right. Amazing.
J: This was perfect. Thank you so much for doing the show.
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.