This week, Jake goes out with comedian Richard Perez. The two discuss crying, Panera Bread, solo karaoke nights, and voice memo diaries. Tune in for more.
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Jake Cornell: Yeah, I think that this should be the episode where we both cry.
Richard Perez: So going out… I feel alone.
J: Did you just see what happened? Something happened with my nose when I snorted and it hurts in my eye now. So I just blew a capillary in my head.
R: Your eyes are getting watery. You’re halfway there. I’m going to try to catch up.
J: Is this fun for the listener? Us just silence, trying to cry. Is this fun for the listener? Do you think?
Katie Brown: Start by kicking each other in the shins.
J: I saw Cate Blanchett did “Hot Ones” and she said an actor told her that a good trick if you ever need to cry on stage is to walk up stage and pull a nose hair out. And I was like, “That’s genius.”
R: That is genius.
J: Did you ever try to tweeze a nose hair?
J: It’s psychotic. Why are they attached to your soul?
R: Yeah, I know. I catch myself, I pick my nose so much more than I know. I play with my nose a lot, and if I notice someone, we lock eyes on the train-
J: And you’re like, “Only touching my brain.”
R: I’m like, “I’m playing with my brain.” Yeah, I’m playing with my nose and I’m either picking it or I don’t know, smelling a lot like my fingers, but then tweezing myself.
J: That’s the thing. I touch my nose a lot too, but it’s not like — this is gross. It’s not like I’m digging for boogers. I’m just itching.
R: Yeah, you’re just like-
J: Touching. I just touch my face a lot. I remember in high school when I went through my period of, I didn’t have horrible acne at any point in my life. Knock on literal wood. But I did have the normal teenage acne. I remember someone was like it really helps to not touch your face. And I was like “impossible.” I’m literally touching my face at all times. I don’t know who I am if I’m not touching my face.
R: Yeah, me neither.
J: Do you feel that way?
R: I touch my face constantly.
J: Constantly. It was also really hard working in restaurants because we were like, “Don’t touch your face.” And I was like, “Okay, but this is who I am.”
R: And I don’t know, it’s also a nervous tick or something too. I don’t know. I think I touched my face almost more or something if I’m thinking a lot.
J: I used to have this nervous tick and it’s actually started relapsing recently I think because I’ve been looking at my phone too much. But I used to be really nervous that I was going cross eyed. Like that my eyes were losing direction.
R: I never thought that.
J: So I would always close my eyes and then do this and then put my finger on either side of my cornea so I could feel that they were aligned. And I would do that a lot. And I caught myself doing it at the gym the other day and I was like, you’re in public, stop. It was just a nervous little tick I used to do. Or also, have you ever just done this with your nose? Run it down the cartilage. That one’s very soothing to me.
R: I remember when I went to school for photography.
R: And a trick we learned, I don’t even remember what it applied. It’s something with the dark room in film. What was it? Basically your nose grease helps cover spots or cracks in your film when you’re trying to make a print. So there’s less, I don’t know, there’s scratches. Inevitably there’s going to be scratches on the negative. So your nose grease can help cover that up. Something along those lines.
R: I think about that all the time as I’m picking, playing with my nose, touching it, whatever.
J: Because you’re a photographer?
R: It’s about photography.
J: As someone who’s only done photography a little bit, do you find photography dark rooms incredibly erotic?
J: They’re a deeply sexual space.
R: It’s so so sexual.
J: What is it? Is it just that it’s dark? I guess it’s not that original of a thought.
R: Well no, it’s dark. It’s red.
J: It’s red.
R: Smells. It smells.
J: It could be dangerous if you f*ck in there because there’s like acid pools.
R: There’s chemicals that will never leave your body. That you’re playing with, dipping around, splashing. I don’t know. And also, I miss dark rooms.
J: Did your high school have a dark room?
R: We did actually.
J: We had a dark room too and I remember going in there and being like, “It’s psycho they’re letting us do this.” I could not believe. I was like, “The teacher’s just like letting us do this. It’s crazy.” Literally, nothing ever happened.
R: But that’s crazy.
J: Yeah. It feels like you’re in Berlin and I was just in Clarendon, Vt.
R: Totally. Seeing a picture come to life is really, really beautiful. I just wanted to get off of my chest.
J: Wait, what does that mean to you? Seeing a picture come to life? Is that the moment you take the photo?
R: No. The print in the solution in the dark room. In the red, red room. When you see the picture start to appear from the solution.
J: That part is incredible.
R: That’s magic. Yeah. I’m like, “I’m literally doing spells or something.”
J: Because when you do film photography, that’s the first moment you see the image too, right?
R: That’s the first time you see it.
J: That’s powerful.
R: Or in that way.
J: This sounds so annoying and hipster, but digital is kind of wack. Doing the film process is really ritualistic in a beautiful way.
R: Thank you.
J: Did you ever do digital or were you always film?
R: I was always, I did do digital for sure. It’s so expensive to shoot digital. But I don’t know. I feel like most of the things that I was working on that were really, really precious to me then, I don’t know, I invested in film for it.
J: Wait, so we are good friends. I know you, but just to relay to the listener, you’re from Jersey. You went to Pratt? Parsons? I will never not know someone went to Pratt or Parsons. You went to Pratt, though? Because Pratt’s in Brooklyn.
R: I went to-
J: Parsons is in Manhattan.
R: Manhattan, yeah.
R: Somewhere near here.
J: Yeah. Oh, duh duh duh duh. You went to Pratt. So you’ve been in the greater New York area for a long time.
R: Yeah. 11 years.
J: Obsessed. Over the years, also childhood in Jersey, what does going out meant to you in those different moments and times?
R: Wait. From?
J: Like restaurants as a kid all the way up through where we are now.
R: Of restaurants as a kid in New Jersey. I grew up in Central Jersey. Restaurants there, well it was very — the town I grew up in was so small, it was like a mile radius. You can walk the whole thing.
R: And so I loved doing that. Bringing my Walkman headphones. I’d walk everywhere. And then I lived right off of Main Street, which was the downtown area. And I was a downtown kid for my town.
R: And I would walk up and down and there were a bunch of little restaurants like Sushi and a Pizzeria and Dunkin’ Donuts, I don’t know, it was a mix of mom-and-pop and franchise. I don’t know. I feel like looking back, I’m like, oh yeah, because I love dining out alone a lot. And I feel like I got used to that, having access to that so young.
J: That is really special. I feel like that’s really special. And not a lot of people have that experience because, was your family doing the restaurant moment or was it mostly-
R: No, we barely ever ate out as a family.
J: So it was a thing you really found on your own?
J: That’s unique. I feel like most of the people I’ve interviewed for this show, that’s not their entry point and I love that.
R: Because I worked at Panera Bread. That was my first job ever.
J: Queer journey.
R: And that changed my life.
J: Powerful. Wait, how did it change your life?
R: I just remember starting to work there and I felt like I was in on something that I didn’t have access to or something. I don’t know. I was like, “Oh, this is culture. This is smart, cool. This is sophisticated and I’m going to be part of this and I thought it was fancy.” I thought it was expensive.
J: In my mind when I was younger, it was.
R: It was, right?
J: Panera was luxury. Panera was a true luxury. Because Panera wasn’t available in Vermont at the time. So that was when I went to a more metropolitan area. I was like, “There’s a Panera.” And to me Panera was true academia. Yale was Panera.
R: Yes, yes.
J: You know what I mean? Truly, Yale was Panera.
R: Yeah, truly. And I feel like working there, I just remember having a thought that was like, I want to one day be someone who goes here with ease.
J: You’re like working your way up the ladder and be on the other side of the counter?
J: Of Panera?
J: I get that.
R: And it came true. It came true.
J: The Fuji Apple Chicken Salad.
J: Is phenomenal.
R: I don’t like it with Gorgonzola. I always substituted with feta instead.
J: I respect people who don’t like blue cheese because I do think it’s a hard ass, but I love blue cheese, so it’s perfect to me. But I respect you. But the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad is so good.
R: It’s so f*cking good. And I would get that with the, you pick two. I’m trying to think. I usually go for, I’ll do that Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, no Gorgonzola, substitute feta and then a bread bowl with creamy tomato soup or broccoli cheddar. But if I’m feeling a sandwich, I’ll do the Italian combo. Which I think they still have. I don’t know. But I haven’t been in a while.
J: Once I found the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, I really didn’t stray away from it so I’m not that verse. I couldn’t tell you what my Panera sandwich is because I think it’s been truly years since I’ve gotten anything other than that salad.
R: I think they, I don’t know, I just feel like they’re very panini-focused or something.
J: So panini-focused.
R: Yeah. They have more options it seems like in the panini side.
J: And the cheddar broccoli bowl has always…
R: It’s classic.
J: It’s classic and it’s one of the few, I really pride myself on not being a picky eater. I don’t like not liking foods. I like to try everything.
R: Me too.
J: See, I get you. The cheddar broccoli soup has never been my spiritual calling. I don’t know what it is. I’ve always been more of a brothy soup to a creamy soup.
J: I think it’s actually truly just like a stomach ache issue maybe. But the cheddar broccoli in the bread bowl has never been my, but the creamy tomato.
R: It is so mine.
J: I’m going to swing that way and I don’t judge a cheddar. I’m not like, “Eww cheddar broccoli.” I’m just like, “It’s not for me.” But that’s a creamy tomato.
R: That’s totally fine.
J: Thank you. Thank you for supporting me on that.
R: Of course.
J: The creamy tomato. And I was also a huge advocate of just, I loved that you could get the little side baguette chunk. Sometimes, that was my favorite part of the meal.
R: Yeah, me too. I love, sometimes, oh my gosh. I just remember going on my break. I think looking back they would give us a discount. I don’t think they would let us have a full meal for free.
J: That feels very corporate and true.
R: But anyways, I just remember there would be times where a baguette was fresh out of the oven and it was warm.
J: Sexual. Absolutely sexual. Do you know what also I really associate with Panera and I don’t know that they still sell this. I feel like I haven’t seen this in a long time. Wait, do we remember Jones sodas?
J: The cherry one.
R: I don’t think I ever tried it.
J: Truly, like my foray into alt culture was a Jones.
R: Mine was stocking the fridge with that.
J: The Jones soda was really seminal to me. The Jones cherry soda, black cherry soda. Do they still, can you Google that?
J: I don’t even know.
R: Do Jones’s soda still exist? The Jones black cherry soda was really influential to me.
J: Oh my God. I felt elegant. You know those little things that you like, this is me expressing my queerness even though I’m not out yet and don’t even know that I’m queer?
J: Me drinking a Jones black cherry soda was a moment of expressing queer youth.
K: They still exist.
J: They still exist.
R: They still exist? Okay. Might get one after work.
J: I just want to see a photo. It’s going to be good for my brain. Yes. With these labels, this ties back to the photography moment. Why?
R: Oh right, okay. Yeah. They would have a black and white picture.
J: And I think they were different pictures. I’m remembering a hippopotamus.
R: Oh my God. Yes. Cool pictures.
J: It was very giving like a Massachusetts literary book group that wrote soda vibes. I can’t really explain it. What are these? I will say these are more neon than I remember. These are really neon. And I remember — well I’m also not seeing the cherry. It’s fine. The blue. I don’t trust this is a beverage. This is a little more trippy.
R: No, that’s too — that’s Gatorade.
J: It’s icy blue flavored. I would like it. Wait, but that’s so interesting because I feel like — so my high school job was Ben and Jerry’s.
R: Oh really?
R: They had, oh wait, I guess Vermont. That makes sense.
J: Yeah, exactly. We had a store, we had a scoop shop.
R: I don’t think we had one in Jersey. Or maybe we did, I don’t know. But that sounds so delicious.
J: Oh, I gained like 30 pounds. But I remember getting that job and being, it wasn’t even like “I’m part of culture,” because I don’t necessarily think, no. I guess I did think Ben and Jerry’s was cool.
R: Yeah, me too.
J: Because it was like the tie dye shirts. The cool high school kids worked there. And then I worked there and I remember the day I got the job. I also, because it was right after I got my license, I drove there and went in and then I was like — I remember walking in to get ice cream. And then they were like, “Okay, here’s your ice cream.” And then I was like — I just wanted to be there. And I was like, “Oh, I’m like not working. I shouldn’t be here right now. Why am I hanging out at this place I work at?” And also, no one knew yet because I hadn’t started working. I immediately wanted to be this place where I could walk in and be like, “Hey Rich.” You know what I mean?
J: It just wasn’t that yet, but it eventually became that.
R: Yeah. Community.
J: Yeah. It is funny. I romanticized it. Before I worked in restaurants and in food for so long, I did really romanticize it. When I was a kid, I would look at waiters, especially waitresses. And I was like, they are the coolest people in the world. Their power.
R: I definitely, I felt that way too.
J: Have you ever worked in a restaurant?
R: No. Not really. No.
R: Currently I work at a coffee shop slash bar. I’m just at the counter. Hey.
J: But the barista is so chic.
R: Yeah, it’s sexual.
J: You find baristaring sexual?
J: In what way?
R: I just sense tension sometimes with some customers.
J: I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed with that.
R: I just feel flirtation or I don’t know. But then I try to think about when I’m on the other side and a barista, I don’t know. It’s like they know what they’re doing and they’re so…
R: Powerful and confident. And they’re just like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll go make that for you.” And it’s done in a minute.
J: I guess you also have regulars, I see my baristas really often more so than a bartender. Because if you see your bartender every day, it’s an issue. Do you know what I mean?
J: But if you’re seeing your barista every day, that’s just part of your ritual.
R: It’s part of your routine.
J: Wow. I’ve never really thought about that. So there is a sexuality to baristaring in that way. That is powerful.
R: “Hey. Good morning. You’re going to have the usual?” When I remember someone’s order?
R: I’m sexual. And also I’m the most thoughtful person in the world.
J: Absolutely. Wow.
R: Having a cortado again?
J: This one’s on me today.
R: And I love saying that it’s on us. I don’t know if I’m confident enough to be like me, but I’m like, “It’s on us.”
J: Well if you say this is on me now, we’ve said the words on me so it’s getting really sexual at that point. It’s getting really sexual.
R: And now I’m sweaty, I’m getting nervous. Thinking about what happens next.
J: “Do you want it hot today?”
R: Now that we’re in the transition to cold, I’m asking that a lot.
J: “Do you want it hot?”
R: “Do you want it hot? Or cold? Do you want it iced or hot today?” And they look me right in the eye. “Hot.”
J: And they spit on you.
R: Yeah and then I wipe it and I’m like, “Okay, thank you.” And then I run it over and quickly make the cortado or whatever they asked.
J: Cortado is a hot order. Can I say that?
R: I like the word a lot.
J: Cortado is…
J: It’s not actually the beverage I want.
R: It’s a little bit of milk.
J: Because it’s too small. I’m a volume queen.
R: Me too.
J: With a beverage, I want the biggest beverage I can get.
R: What’s your coffee order?
J: Cold brew black. I will say, and this is so annoying because I haven’t talked about this on the podcast yet, that I’ve recently started drinking hot coffee again. And it’s not normal for me.
R: Oh really?
J: Yeah. I’ve recently been like, I’m usually ordering cold up until, the only time, in previous winters I would only get hot on a day where I’m like, I actually physically can’t hold a cold beverage right now. It’s that cold that it will f*ck up my hand to hold a cold beverage. Otherwise I’m getting cold year round.
R: Right, me too.
J: But recently I was like, “I actually want a hot coffee.” And it’s not normal for me.
R: How long has it been? Hot coffee?
J: Years. And I’ve always preferred cold. And then at some point, I think when I started drinking coffee, I felt like well you have to drink the hot stuff and then you can cycle in some cold. Because that’s like how coffee’s supposed to be drunk. And then at some point I was like, let me just take queer autonomy over my coffee life. And I’m drinking cold all the time. And now I’m like, “Wait, I actually think I want to incorporate some hot.”
R: Wow. Do you love it?
J: I think I do. I don’t like it. I will say it’s not the first, I think part of it is I want to drink cold in the morning when I wake up. I don’t want to wake up with searing hot liquid. It’s not my vibe. And it’s also the number one reason I think is because I want coffee right away. And I don’t like that you have to wait for it to cool down. And I’m not trying to be one of those people. When I worked in a breakfast restaurant, I would serve old rich people who literally were so close to death, they could not feel this world. And they needed their coffee so hot. It was crazy. The water would be boiling and they’d be like, “This isn’t hot enough.” And I was like, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
R: That’s crazy.
J: I hope it’s hotter in hell, but it’s not here. That’s not what I want coffee-wise. I do just want a normal beverage. But I’ve been enjoying being like, “Ooh, what if I get a little milk in there?” I don’t know. It’s been fun. What do you drink?
R: That’s sexy. I’ve been exploring because I’ve been working at this job since March.
J: Was this your first time being a barista?
R: Yeah. And so before I was cold brew all year round.
R: All the time. I didn’t start drinking coffee until college, I graduated college, I think. Maybe my senior year.
R: I didn’t like it growing up. And then in more recent or I don’t know, since starting this job, having to learn how to make the drinks, I’m like, “Oh, an ice latte.” But then I’m like, that’s too much milk.
J: That is the thing is you’re drinking a lot of milk.
R: And so now I’m iced Americano.
J: See, I hate Americanos.
J: I just don’t like them.
R: I remember, I think it was on your Instagram story or something. You said something about the acidity or something of Americano, I think you were away and at Fringe.
J: Oh yeah. When I was at f*cking-
R: They don’t have a cold-
J: They don’t have cold brew.
R: So you were like, and I can’t get an Americano because it’s going to be too…
J: I just don’t, I think that a cold brew is really delicious and even a bad one is still drinkable. But I just find iced americanos to be so bitter and acidic. I just am not the biggest, it’s just not my vibe. It’s not my vibe. Because obviously I think the thing, oh this is going to sound so pretentious, but you know this is as a barista. There’s a proper way to make an espresso, and when you properly pull espresso, I do think espresso tastes good. But a lot of times people are just cranking out shots because they’re busy.
R: There’s a line.
J: And there’s a line and whatever and it’s super bitter.
J: And then they’re just throwing it in some water. And I’m like, “This is bad tasting, bitter coffee that is watered down.” And I love myself. So it’s not what I want. It’s just not what I want.
R: I get a splash of oat in there. So I think I trick my mind. I’m like, “Oh, I’m just having a cold brew.”
J: This coffee shop in this village I’ve been going to, they have twice now pulled on me because I also don’t like hot Americanos. They’re just not my vibe. So they’ve twice now pulled on me where I’ve ordered a filter coffee. I’ve been like, can I get just a drip coffee? And they’re like, “Yeah.” And then they ring me up and they’re like, “Oh my God, sorry, we’re out of drips. So we’re actually just going to give you an Americano.” And I’m like, “Well I’m going to call the police but I’m a cap.” So instead I’m just like, “Okay, now I have to put milk in it. I need to mellow it out with some milk.” But that’s pretty much it. Wait, okay. So we entered restaurants through the solo dining journey as a teen.
R: As a teen. Yes.
J: What did it look like for you going out to restaurants, nightlife when you were at Pratt?
R: At Pratt was primarily like, I don’t know because I definitely didn’t go out to eat or anything like that, that much. I had no money.
J: We broke as f*ck.
R: Broke as f*ck. The outing as far as food, the most adventurous thing would be like, we’re hung over, we’re all going to go to this diner. What was the name of it? There’s one.
J: Was it not Rosalu?
R: No. That used to be Clinton Hill or Clinton Park. Clinton Hill Park Cafe or something like that back then. And there’s like Mike’s on the corner, but then there’s another one on DeKalb that’s next to Brooklyn Public House or public whatever.
R: I think now it’s, what’s the name?
R: Roman’s. I think that used to be, or maybe next door to that, whatever. But we would go there and I feel like that would be like, oh I’m having a little outing.
R: I would mostly just get takeout. And there was on Myrtle Ave., I think they’re still there, Castro’s, this Mexican restaurant. So good. And they had this Margarita special or something that when we all turned 21, we were like, “Okay great, we’re going.”
J: Go there.
R: Treat ourselves and get tacos and Margaritas at that place.
J: That’s so interesting to me. Wait, no, tell me.
R: I’m just now getting a memory of going out. There was a bar that didn’t card that was on Myrtle. That’s like no longer there.
J: What was it called?
R: Rope. And they had a pinball machine. I feel like every time I went in there they would play Pixie’s “Where’s My Mind?” So I feel like that song repeats then on Mondays they had dollar PBRs.
R: So a bunch of us would be there on a Monday night in the summer. And there’s a picture I remember that I found of me on Facebook or something where there’s a pyramid of empty PBRs.
J: That’s so college.
R: Yeah. And I was like, “I’m alive. I’m so adventurous.”
J: Did you enjoy Pratt socially?
R: I did, yeah.
J: You did?
R: I loved going to, I don’t know, someone’s apartment and just drinking or I don’t know. That was so fun. I like that now too.
R: I love going to someone’s home.
J: It’s interesting. I feel like there’s two different types of people. There’s like the intimate home hang crew type and then there’s the out.
R: And I feel like I’ve had both.
J: I feel like some people find — I don’t know that I necessarily identify with this, but I know I have some friends who something that’s really intimate to them is hanging out with someone and doing nothing.
J: You know what I mean?
R: Yeah. Definitely.
J: I find that really fascinating. I don’t really experience that personally. I do love an activity.
R: I don’t know, recently I went to Fire Island for the first time and if-
J: You really loved it, you really connected.
R: I loved it. Yeah. And I didn’t know what to expect. I was really nervous. It checks a lot of boxes of things that I don’t typically do in my day to day or for fun or anything. I don’t even know how to swim. So going there and having downtime with, I don’t know, it’s just sitting on the couch on your phone with someone and just talking and then not talking or giggling. Being like, “Wait, this is so funny. And da da da.” I was like, “Wait, this feels intimate.” And I think others felt that way too. We were all really bonded after that.
J: Sort of becoming incredibly self-conscious that I’m running from myself and my fear to be around someone doing nothing. But I do do something. I’m like, “Let’s play a game.” I am that person.
R: But that’s fun too. That’s great to have an activity. Because sometimes I feel like I can be — I don’t know, when you’re really comfortable with someone, not doing anything and it doesn’t even have to be much of a conversation going on, but you feel comfortable. That feels so — there’s a closeness there.
R: But then there’s times where I feel sometimes I can be way too, oh, we’re going to get dinner. And then it’s an intense two hours of what’s going on?
J: That’s like you and me. I feel like you and I are like, we’re going sit down at a restaurant-
R: And we’re going to talk.
J: And make dead eye contact for like two hours. It’s very that. But I love that.
R: I do too. I really, really love that.
J: That’s my ideal. I was literally just texting with my friend Sabrina, who’s like a textbook friend like that, where it’s like, we’re going to get dinner and we’re going to sit down and we’re going to make direct eye contact for three hours and just-
R: And be like, this is how I feel.
J: And the server’s going to be like, “Are you guys okay?” And we’ll be like “Order, order, order.” And then immediately back into it. That to me is crazy because, it’s funny because some of my close friends like that to them. I think they enjoy it, but it’s also like, they have to truly recharge from that. And that to me is recharging. I leave that being like I’m juiced up.
R: Yeah, totally. I can feel that way too, sometimes.
J: I feel like I’m getting much more attuned to what is, because people would always talk about the introvert versus extrovert thing. And I don’t know that I’ve ever, I’m on a podcast right now and I never shut the f*ck up and I’m always out. I’m clearly an extrovert. I know that. But I don’t know that, people always like, it’s weird, when one is where you feel recharged and the other is where you feel drained. And I’ve always been like, I don’t know that I experience life that way, but I do think I’m getting more and more attuned to it the older I get. And I do feel like the thing that I know is really draining to me is being in a situation where it’s a larger group of people. And I mean like anything more than three and there’s an unwillingness to get beyond small talk where we have to stay at that level.
R: Oh God, yeah.
J: That to me? After 15 minutes I need a nap. I find that so draining. Because I do, I don’t know why, but I literally need to be like, “Can someone talk about their mom? Can someone talk about trauma?” And it’s not even, I always joke like, “Oh, I want to sh*t talk. I want gossip.” But what I actually want is to talk about something someone cares about.
R: Yeah. Exactly.
J: I can’t talk about f*cking what we watched on Netflix yesterday. Unless you really care, that’s fine.
R: If you care, sure. But…
J: But this unwillingness, it’s when people — I’ve said this before, the way I’d define it before. I feel like maybe you’ll get this when I feel like we’re talking and it’s just a Twitter…
R: Oh God, yeah.
J: It’s like looking at my Twitter timeline.
J: We’re kind of talking about the things I’m seeing on Twitter.
R: Just like boom, boom, boom, boom.
J: So that to me is having food poisoning while being on fire.
J: I literally, I’m like this is hell.
J: Because what are we doing? What are we doing?
R: Yeah. How are you? That’s a crazy question. But I don’t know.
J: I love when someone’s bad. I will say that when someone’s like, “I’m not great.” I’m like, “Thank you.”
R: Yeah, me too. Especially one on one.
J: Well yeah. If someone is in a group, I’m like, you’re crazy. No, I’m just kidding. But I just appreciate an actual conversation I think is my point.
R: Yeah. Me too. Or at least when we get to a place where we’re like, I feel like I’m overthinking so much. And when I’m in conversations or I don’t know, social environments or something, I really, really, when I leave a hang out or something and I look back and I’m like, oh that flowed. I didn’t even… everything just went boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. There was no, what am I going to say next? Or what?
J: Because you don’t have to think strategically when you’re talking about things you actually care about or that actually matter. Because intuition follows it.
R: That is so good.
J: When you’re trying to navigate these more high-level social dynamics-
R: I’m exhausted.
J: Oh my God. I hate it. And I think the people that are really good at that: demons. I actually think they are demons. I think they’re demons.
J: And I think that’s how demons climb the ranks because they’re really good. They really thrive in that space. And then you’re like, “So how do you feel about this?” And they’re like, “Okay, nosy.” And I’m like, “No, you’re a demon.” Do you know what I mean?
R: Yeah, absolutely.
J: And I think I really believe in that distinction. Where do you like to go out now? What are your, I mean, we have our spots.
R: Yes. I was thinking on my way here I was, this year I’ve gotten more into diners. A diner kind of hangout.
J: I’m getting big into diners.
R: I love hanging out at a diner with someone. And I’ve tried it with people where that’s our first time ever hanging out or a good friend and taking them there. Rosalu, I feel like is a go-to spot. I feel like we’ve gone a few times together.
J: Love Rosalu.
R: I like going there alone. Or sometimes I’ll have people meet me there, but I don’t know. So I love a morning hang. Not always, but just sometimes it feels nice to, if someone else is also on board. Totally understand if that’s not everyone’s thing. But just starting the day with a friend and you’re both energized for it and you’re like, oh, let’s meet up at 10 a.m. and get breakfast and then go about our day.
J: I genuinely love that.
R: That feels really, really good.
J: I love an early daytime hang and I feel like you’re one of the people that entered me into it, to be honest.
R: I don’t know. It’s just something I’ve been trying the past year and I really, really love it. It’s great when someone else is also really into it too. Or having fun. It’s really engaging. Even if it is a little bit early in the day.
J: I think it freaks people out because they think that it’s like, with dinner you get this… if you’re meeting up with someone for dinner or even for drinks, it’s like there’s all of this distraction from the intimacy a little bit. Do you know what I mean?
J: Well one, there might be drinking, which is obviously going to literally sedate intimacy a lot of the time.
J: But then there’s also the dim lighting. We’ve all had our day already. Everyone has their thing, and you’re so raw in the morning you’re like, I woke up, I shower, and now I’m seeing you. There’s a real, I’m showing you my full assh*le sort of energy to that. That I think does freak people out. But I think it’s really refreshing. A little coffee and a little brekkie is so…
R: Having eggs together. That’s so cute.
J: What was that diner we went to last time we hung out?
R: It was downtown.
J: It was an old Brooklyn.
R: Dumbo. It was near…
J: Brooklyn Heights maybe
R: Brooklyn Heights, yeah. I forget the name of it.
J: How did we end up there? Wait, what happened that day?
R: We just wandered.
J: Did we try to go somewhere else that was closed?
R: First we were going to go to Saraghina in Fort Greene, but then I got there and I guess they don’t really have a breakfast sort of situation.
J: So Saraghina in Fort Greene, I love them. I do find their current times of what is available when really confusing.
R: Yeah, I was very confused.
J: And I don’t want to blame them because I don’t ever want to really bad mouth a business. I guess I just need to do some research as to when they are available for what. I know during dinner hours they have dinner.
R: Dinner is amazing.
J: Everyone says it’s amazing. I’ve had snacks and a drink there and a to-go coffee. But otherwise I’m a little confused about what’s happening when. I’m like, do I go inside? Do I sit down? What am I doing? And I literally hate breaking rules.
R: Yeah, me too.
R: Yeah. Nightmare.
J: Nightmare. If I find out I broke a rule in a restaurant, I’ll never go back.
R: Yeah, me too. I get really, really…
J: It’s one of the worst feelings in the world.
R: But I think we went to Walter’s after, we literally just got sides.
J: Oh my God.
R: And you pitched. You were like, “Would you want to walk? We could just get this and then we can walk to…”
J: Oh yeah, we had fries and a salad. It was actually a really random day of food.
R: It was very random.
J: It was actually a really weird day of food. But we were just talking and hanging out.
R: But we were just like, let’s just hang out. And then we just took this nice long walk. It was cloudy outside. It wasn’t too hot. I don’t know, it was the early fall kind of feeling. And then we walked to Brooklyn Heights and we stumbled upon this diner.
J: And that’s such an example of why I’m such an advocate of the diner. And we need to protect that at all costs. Because the thing is, I’m a really big believer and you have to show up. Restaurants provide a specific thing. And I think it’s your job as a customer to look into what, if you want a specific thing, you need to choose your restaurant accordingly. The number of people that will go to a fancy place. I work sometimes at this wine bar in the East Village that has a vegetarian small plate menu. People are like, “Can we just get a round of fries,” and I’ll be like, “Why are you here? That’s not what we have.” And then they’re mad and it’s like, “No, if you want it to go out for fries and beers, it’s your job to pick that place.”
R: To know.
J: You know what I mean?
R: Right, yeah.
J: But what I think is magical about a diner is it’s, the purpose of a diner is, it’s open 24 hours oftentimes. And we can be anything you want, whenever. Do you need breakfast at 4 p.m.? We got to you. Do you need dinner at 8 a.m.? We got you.
R: We got you, yeah. Burger, pasta.
J: And I think that’s really magical. And I think it’s really important because we ended up having a weird- ass lunch at I think 4. But that’s what we needed at that moment. From a very nice waiter, it was a great time. And sometimes I just want a big Diet Coke in a plastic red cup.
R: Me too.
J: It’s so sacred.
R: And then, I don’t know, it just get fries, a waffle, eggs, sausage and just look at my friend.
J: And gab.
R: And gab, yeah. And just be like, “We’re good.”
J: If you’re going out to dinner, do you have spots?
R: Dinner? I’m trying to think. Well now the past couple years, I lived in Bushwick, near Ridgewood. So I feel like I wander around there sometimes. I don’t know. I think when I get dinner with a friend, I feel like I probably ask them for a recs or something or go with their rhythm. I feel like I usually go to people rather than having them meet me in my neighborhood. That’s something I definitely know.
J: Yeah, I’ve actually never met you in Bushwick.
R: Yeah, no one knows where I live. I literally just always venture out to everyone else. I don’t know if it’s like a control thing.
J: That’s so funny.
R: I don’t know if it’s a control thing or waiting on someone to get to me. I don’t know.
J: I actually, low key really relate to that. I like being the one who’s like, I’ll go and meet you at this time.
R: I’ll go because I know I’ll have to leave at this time and how to get there and da da da.
J: If I want to go earlier, I’ll leave earlier and walk.
R: And walking too.
J: Wait, so I think you might actually be the only person who’s been on this podcast who walks as much as, if not more than me.
R: I walk a lot.
J: You’re a step queen. Let’s talk about, has this always been a thing for you since?
R: Yeah. Honestly, looking back in high school, I feel like, yeah, I would go for walks. I still do. And I mean a huge part of it is having headphones and something to listen to.
J: Because my thing is I can’t listen to something sitting down. I have to have an activity or I can’t listen to something. So if I want to listen to a podcast, it’s like I need to either start cooking, or go on a walk.
R: Be in motion. Doing something.
J: In motion or driving.
R: And in high school I had a Walkman or a CD player.
J: I had the black Sony one.
R: I had one that was electric blue and gray or something. And then I had these old headphones and I would just walk around and I carried a little bag of CDs with me.
R: And I would change them sometimes, but I don’t know. So I just loved doing that. I needed to. And it carried through. Then eventually got an iPod and then eventually everything went to your phone and Spotify and da da da. But over the years, I don’t know now I think I go on such long walks because it’s just meditative too.
R: And it just helps. And when I get done with work, I’ll walk from work back home. If the weather allows.
J: How long is that walk?
R: It’s an hour and a half.
R: And it’s just a good amount of time to listen to a podcast or listen to whatever song I’m obsessed with or feel like repeating over and over. And then on the way often I usually get dinner or something on my way home. So I don’t know. Sometimes I go to Sally Roots and get rice, beans, and chicken.
J: I love that. I think that it’s funny because people often get a lot of people being like, “You walked?” People thinking it’s weird?
R: Oh yeah.
J: What is, I’m like, “Yeah. It’s the most normal way to get anywhere and everywhere.”
R: Yeah. And also it’s New York City.
J: Why, yeah.
R: You walk a lot.
J: And also all people do is complain about how they hate the subway. I’m like, babe, walk. Obviously if you’re not able bodied, I’m not excluding, but like… babe, walk. It’s very important to me. The ability, being able to go around the city walking. I think it’s the number one reason why people always ask, would you ever leave New York? I just think there aren’t that many other cities that are this size and walkable.
R: And that you can walk that much.
J: Everywhere. I’ve walked here from home. Heaven.
R: That sounds amazing.
J: I’m obsessed with it. As you’ve started to perform more and more comedy, do you feel like that’s changed your relationship to being out, going out? Has that been an evolution for you at all?
R: Probably. I think so. I don’t know. Well, I don’t know, I guess because I’ve been starting to perform consistently for a little over a year. And so I think I’m just looking back at this past year and my relationship with going out. I don’t know. I feel like I don’t do it, but it’s not true. I mean, I don’t know. I do like to meet up with people on the weekends or sometimes, not always, but when a show is done, sometimes I will stick around and hang out or if people are going somewhere else, I’ll tag along. But not always. Sometimes when I’m done I go home and just want to go to sleep, I don’t know, I’m tired or whatever. Or I want to go on a long walk, truthfully.
R: I’m like, I do want to walk at least halfway from Union Hall to Ridgewood. And then catch the bus if I’m tired.
R: The rest of the way. And sometimes really getting done with a show is excited to go for the walk to process or play back or think about what I just did or what I’m learning or what was fun or what didn’t work or whatever.
J: I do the same thing. Because otherwise, if I do a set and then stay out and hang out and then I’m socialized for three hours after-
R: It’s hard to focus.
J: Well then the next day when I wake up, I think about the set. There’s too much that’s happened between the two to really then unpack it. Even if it’s recorded. I think there’s a better — I can go back and listen to the tape of it. But if I just immediately, or when it’s done, walk home and I almost always walk home from Union Hall. Weather permitting.
R: Yeah, makes sense.
J: That’s where I do a lot of my rewriting and my editing for the next time I do it. Is that walk. Then that’s when I was making videos. That’s how I wrote everything while walking.
R: Right. Yeah. And you have so many videos doing that. You walking.
J: That’s why. But that’s why the videos are of me walking. Because that’s how I write them. So it’s not like I’m sitting at home writing them and be like, “All right, time to go on a walk.” No, it’s because I’m with ideas as I walk.
R: That’s so sick.
J: If I had an office job, I absolutely would get that walking treadmill that you put under your desk. You can walk, I would have to. I think otherwise I think I would lose my mind. Have you ever had an office job?
R: I did, yeah. Before the pandemic I worked at a startup.
J: Oh right. I knew this about you. Did you lose your mind?
R: I mean I probably did for other reasons, but I do remember, it was in Nolita and so leaving work, I would walk. Sometimes I would walk the Williamsburg Bridge and then just go. And at that time I lived off the Myrtle/Willow Beach G. So sometimes I would just walk all the way home or just until I was tired and then catch the train or something like that. But most of the time I would go out or some, I’d do karaoke. A lot.
J: Do you still love karaoke?
R: I don’t do it as much, but I mean it’s always fun. Well actually not always, but it is fun. I do like it.
J: Would you bar or room? Did you do the one where it’s everyone in the room? Or did you like the private room?
R: When it’s going out with friends? I love a room. Oh no, sorry, everyone.
J: I think that’s more fun.
R: I think it’s really, really fun.
J: I’m Planet Rose every time, personally.
R: I think it’s so fun. But I also think it can be fun depending on the dynamic. But if it’s like you and two other people and you want to geek out and sing, then that’s so fun to get a room and be like, “Oh we’re going to sing all these songs.”
J: It’s funny you say that because I feel like people think about it in the reverse. We’re like, “Oh, it’s a small group. We’ll just go to the bar and if it’s a big group we’ll get our own room.” But if you’re a big group, you can take over the room.
R: Right, totally.
J: And that’s fun.
R: And feed off the energy and get excited.
J: But a small group geeking out on the room is so fun.
R: It’s really, really fun. And then I would go as far as I would record, what am I saying? When I was working at this job, this startup, I would leave work and on a Tuesday night or Wednesday night, go to Sing Sing on Avenue A and book a room alone.
R: And just sing for an hour. But it was so embarrassing because no one’s there yet. And it was really discounted. Which is great. You could sing for three hours. I mean, you could do two hours for $10 or something like that.
R: But there would be someone working at the bar and it’s quiet.
J: So they can hear you.
R: And I walk in meek just like, “Hey, can I book a room?” And then they’re like, “Okay, sure.” And then I go in and I’m singing and it doesn’t sound good. And then I leave and I’m like, “Thank you.”
J: But that’s what it’s for. No, I love that. That’s an emotional gym. You’re working at your emotions.
R: Yeah. But I loved doing that. I used to go out alone a lot.
J: And dancing too, right?
R: And dancing, yeah.
J: Do you think that was you scratching your performer itch without being in front of an audience?
R: Definitely. I definitely think I was scratching that. And then also running away from things too. I think it was an escapist kind of vibe or something that I was going through for a few years.
R: But then now I think I’m doing some things I’ve been wanting to do and exploring that. I don’t know. I think it really, and in the pandemic as well, not going out for a while. It just changed.
J: Totally. No, it makes sense. Because I feel like you are just someone who, when I see you on stage, it’s so natural and… Not effortless because I know how hard you work, but it doesn’t feel like, “Oh, this person’s working hard.” It feels very natural and fully formed and authentic.
R: Thank you.
J: And I think it makes sense that if you, I don’t know, there’s such an intimacy to having a karaoke room to yourself or dancing on a dance floor alone. I actually think those are very vulnerable and intimate things.
R: And I’m embarrassed.
R: Looking back.
J: But I don’t think you should be. Because I think that it makes sense that you would then have this very authentic, vulnerable quality to your performance. Because the way you trained yourself was this non-traditional, very authentic, vulnerable way of performing. Which is, I don’t know, the idea of performing for just me, myself versus a room full of strangers. The first one feels more vulnerable to me.
R: Yeah, definitely.
J: I think that — I don’t know.
R: And I tried to do it recently, a few months ago. I went to Sing Sing and booked a room alone. And I was really nervous.
J: For yourself?
R: Yeah. To do that.
J: It’s so interesting. Because do you journal? Are you a diary person?
R: Oh my God. Not writing but a voice memo. That’s been huge for me this past year and a half. I voice memo a lot. I just literally get into the voice memo app. I put on the wired headphones, I talk into it and I just vent.
J: I might steal that.
R: It changed my life.
J: I know people who journal and I can’t do it. I think there’s an incongruity between the speed at which I’m thinking and how fast I can write.
J: And so it’s not cathartic to me because it just feels like I’m slowing down my processing in a way that’s actually not helpful.
R: Right. Because it’s hard to, you’re thinking all these things and like how to commit to writing the word out.
J: And then sometimes I’m like, “This actually isn’t even legible.” Because I was writing so fast, that it’s just chicken scratch. And then I tried doing videos. Because I was making so many videos at the time. I started making little video messages to myself and putting him in the cloud. And I was like, maybe this, because I’m very envious of people who have a journal to look back on.
R: Yeah, me too.
J: I also have a really bad memory. I don’t perceive it. Have you ever noticed David Odyssey, our mutual friend, how anytime he talks about anything, he cites the year immediately?
J: Have you ever noticed that about him? I’d be like, I was hanging out with Richard in 2017 and then this.
R: Actually that’s so true.
J: I literally, I’m dead serious. I could not tell you what year you and I met. 2020?
R: 2020. Great. Wait. No, maybe 2021.
J: But the thing is, Richard, I’m telling you, I literally don’t know. I will reference things all the time. I like, “Oh yeah, we did this.” The other day, I was talking to this woman I’m friends with. And I was like, “Oh yeah, Taisha and I have known each other for three years.” And she was like, “We’ve known each other 14 months.” And I truly thought we had known each other for three years. I just don’t perceive time correctly. I don’t know what it is, but I’m very amazed by people. So to my point is, I can’t right now think back and be like, what was summer 2018? I can’t crystallize that, really. I have a very good memory for stories. I could tell a story about a time when I hung out very clearly. But I couldn’t tell you what time of my life that was, what year that was. I can just really remember the specific moment. But I don’t remember my life in the broader sense really. And so I’m very jealous of people who have a journal to look back on. The idea of me being able to look back. I can kind of do it. The closest thing I have now is my camera roll. Do you ever do this? I’ll look back at my camera roll and be like, “Oh that day I forgot that day.”
R: I do that. I do that with Instagram archives too. Instagram stories. I’ll reference that for myself and be like-
J: That’s actually really smart too.
R: Oh that’s what was going on a year ago on this day. Or whatever.
J: So I tried doing the video version of it, but I just felt too, the voice memo might be perfect because it’s easy.
R: Voice memos, I love.
J: It’s so easy.
R: It’s probably a little uncomfortable the first couple times. And I would just keep saying to myself, this is literally for no one this. No one’s going to listen to this. Don’t be self-conscious of if you sound dumb or what. That doesn’t matter. Just blah. Just say it. And now, I don’t listen to all of them, of course. There was a period last year where I was recording every single day. September to December. I just had a lot on my mind. And so I was really going through it. So I was just every day recording, blah blah, blah. And so now I can listen back to it and just certain days or a date or something that comes to mind. Then I can have some sort of perspective of how I articulated or how I explained or felt about a certain scenario or a time or whatever. And now there’s space from that.
J: I might steal that from you.
R: Yeah, it’s huge.
J: It sounds, yeah because I process everything by talking. Sometimes if I have something to process right now, I’ll find a friend to go out and get drinks with or go on a walk with or whatever. Because I need to talk it through. And the idea that being able to do that with myself on the phone does sound really nice. Sometimes if I’m upset about something, I would do this thing. I did this at Fringe a lot when I was upset about different things. I would voice memo text them to my friend. I had two or three people who were my Fringe people, what I’m stressed about Fringe, I’m texting you. And I would voice memo them a lot. And then sometimes I would just immediately listen to the voice memo back. And listening to myself processing the moment was very helpful. I don’t know why. It feels humiliatingly narcissistic to be like, I talked about it and recorded it and then listened to myself back. And that made me feel better.
R: I don’t know. And there’s some that I’ve listened to of my own voice memos and I even say in them that I know I’m going to feel different about this and a year from now.
R: And it’s true. And then I listened to it a year later…
J: And you do.
R: I was like, “Yeah, I feel different about this and everything’s okay.” Or those things that I was worried about or that interaction or that person or blah blah blah. Some things feel, definitely there’s shifts that have occurred since then and maybe there are some things that still linger or whatever. It just takes time.
J: I think that it’s so funny that we’re going deep. This is exactly-
R: I know, yeah.
J: It’s interesting to go. Having this conversation has been interesting because I think it’s highlighted for me how much of going out can be therapeutic in a really earnest way. Do you know what I mean?
J: I feel like when you and I go out for lunch, I’m cataloging every time we’ve gone out for lunch or for dinner or for breakfast, it’s deeply cathartic. We are not just like, “Oh yeah, I’m hanging.” I have fun hanging out with you. But we don’t hang out flippantly. Do you know what I mean?
R: Yeah. Absolutely.
J: We truly don’t. I feel like it’s deep unpacking or updating or I’m struggling with this and that makes it sound like we don’t have fun together. We’re having a lot of fun.
R: Well, we have fun. We laugh.
J: No guys, we have fun.
R: Yeah. We have fun.
J: Don’t judge us. But it is just this sort of duality. But I think — I don’t know. It’s just interesting because I wouldn’t have necessarily described myself as someone who goes out that way a lot of the time, but I actually think I do with certain people. You being one of the main ones.
J: On that note to finish the episode, this has been wonderful. Let’s plan our next night going out together. What do we want to do? Or should we do a breakfast? Do you want to do a day hang?
R: A part of me was like, “Yeah, let’s do a day. Let’s do a breakfast or whatever.” But then I’m like, “Maybe we can switch it up.” I’m so down to do that.
J: Let’s do a dinner.
R: Yeah. And I’m new to desserts. I like ordering dessert.
J: Talk to me about this.
R: I don’t know. I feel like I didn’t really go out much to restaurants before the pandemic and I’m sober too. I don’t drink or anything. So now this past year I’m diving more a little into desserts.
J: Into desserts.
R: Into desserts as a treat or, well that’s what it’s for. That’s dessert.
J: I actually like to have it at the end of a meal.
R: I actually love it as a treat.
J: For me, it’s a little treat.
R: So I finished the meal and then I have a dessert after.
J: And I like to do a sweet one.
R: I like to do something sweet.
J: Wait, what desserts have you been loving? Let’s base it on what dessert you want.
R: So me and my best friend Olivia, we — in the beginning of the year — spontaneously had this cute little dinner. I helped her move in — she got a studio — and then we both just looked like sh*t. And we were like, we’re going to go. And we wanted to find a fancy restaurant to go to. So I think I probably Googled “fancy restaurant.”
R: And Le Crocodile came up.
J: I’ve heard it’s amazing.
R: It was incredible. We were like, “We’re going to go there.” And then we were like, “We’re so effortless, we don’t even care. We look like sh*t and we’re going to go to this fancy restaurant.” And then we went and I was like, “Okay, we stand out. I think we were trying too hard.”
J: The thing is, the richest people at restaurants will look the worst. And I can say that from my years of experience, rich people show up to a restaurant looking like absolute fucking sh*t.
R: And so we sat at the bar and we had this delicious meal. It was amazing. The whole experience was so great. And then for dessert, we got profiteroles. Which was new to me. And I was like, “This is so divine.” And we were just like, I don’t know. In the heat of the moment, we were just like, “We’re going to have these profiteroles and celebrate and welcome in the new year. And these are the things that we’re calling in.” Some of those things came true.
J: I’m obsessed with that. I’m obsessed with that. Should we go there or do you want me to show you my favorite dessert in New York?
R: I want you, yeah, I want go to your favorite dessert.
J: So we’re going to go to Colonie and get the sticky date cake because it’s my favorite dessert in the city.
R: Where is it?
J: It’s in Brooklyn Heights. It’s actually really close to that diner we went to last time.
J: Beautiful. Oh my God. Wait. Oh my. That’s amazing. Perfect. Let’s do.
R: Yeah, we’ll go there.
J: Oh my God.
R: Perfect. Love you.
J: I love you.
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.