On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe sit down with comedian Jake Cornell. They discuss his new podcast, “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” as well as his years of experience in the NYC restaurant industry.

So, what does “going out” mean for Cornell? And is there a difference in a night with industry friends versus comedy friends? Our hosts discuss these subjects and more. Plus, for this Friday’s tasting, Cornell concocts a simple, low-ABV cocktail that became a staple for him while working as a server during the pandemic.

Tune in to learn more.

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Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter.

Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.

Zach Geballe: In Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.

A: And this is the “VinePair” Friday podcast. I’m feeling really good.

JS: He’s back.

A: I’m already back, because I was already back on Monday. Anyways, for this Friday, we got a special treat.VinePair launched another new podcast that we’re all really excited about here. It’s called “Going Out with Jake Cornell.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jake, first of all, shame on you, you f*ckers. He’s really hilarious. I first came across Jake on TikTok, where he is absolutely hilarious. I probably had met Jake a few times prior but hadn’t put the two together, because I always would hang out at Kindred and Ruffian, where Jake used to work.

Jake Cornell: A different version of me.

A: Oh, there’s Jake!

JC: I didn’t know if this was a podcast where I wasn’t allowed to speak until I was introduced.

A: You were, but it’s cool. So we’re talking about the podcast and Jake as a whole. And then another really special thing is, next week we’re going to one of the episodes in Jake’s podcast in this feed. So, be on the lookout for that. Which one do you think we should play, Jake?

JC: Oh gosh, maybe the Molly one. The Molly one is strong.

A: Cool.

JC: They’re all good.

A: You love all your children equally. Jake, welcome to the”VinePair Podcast.” Welcome to the VinePair family.

JC: Thank you so much for having me on all fronts.

A: You’re welcome. The show is called “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” Before we talk about the show, let’s talk about you first. How are you feeling?

JC: I’m amazing.

A: Good. You’ve been in the restaurant industry for 10-plus years?

JC: Yes.

A: And you’ve had all manner of jobs in the business, right?

JC: Nothing back of house. I don’t want to take credit for back of house. But all front of house, yeah.

A: What attracted you to the restaurant business?

JC: Money. I was 18. My high school job was an ice cream scooper. I did my freshman year of college, and then I wanted to go abroad my sophomore year, and there was no money for me to do that. I found a really cheap program and found out that if I went to England, I could get a work visa. If I went to England for a year, I could get a work visa and study abroad while working. And the drinking age there is 18, so I was like, “Let me just try to get a bartending job.” And then I did that. So I went and studied abroad in England for a year and bartended to pay for it.

A: That’s awesome; I never even thought about doing that. I didn’t go abroad because I couldn’t afford it.

JS: I thought you were just doing it in Vermont.

JC: No, the whole first year was in two different pubs in England.

JS: Wow. That’s so cool.

JC: So that was how it started. And then it ended up being dope because service is different in England, especially back then. You don’t work for tips. It’s a little bit of a lower-paying job. Also when you work in a pub in England, you don’t have to know how to make cocktails. If someone orders a Martini in a pub, you’re in the wrong place, dude. I just had to pour pints and make mixed drinks and pour wine, so they were happy to hire me. But then when I came back to America, I had a year of international bartending on my resume, so it was a little bit easier to get jobs. Then, I was just in as a bartender. I got to cut the line. When I turned 21, I had been bartending for three years.

A: Oh, that’s cool.

Z: Did you have a moment as a young bartender, where someone asked you for a drink back in the States and you’re like, “I have no fucking idea what this thing is.”

JC: It was a joke. At times it was a full joke. Because I didn’t have much drinking experience before I went bartending. I remember one time in England, there was one of the bars I worked that had a satellite bar that was a back room for special events. I think they were playing a football game back there once.

JS: So, a soccer game.

JC: Yes, they were drinking and hanging out back there. There was this one guy that was ripping white wine, just ripping Chardonnay. And then he drank through all the Chardonnay that was back there and he was like, “Can I get another Chardonnay?” But there was Sauvignon Blanc, and I was like, “There’s no way anyone can tell the difference.” That’s just fake, it’s branding. I truly believed it. So I brought it to him and I poured him Sauvignon Blanc. He took a sip, and he’s like, “Oh, sorry, you poured me the wrong white wine.” And my mind was f*cking blown. No way, this guy is crazy. Sh*t like that happened all the time. It was crazy.

A: Oh my God, that’s hilarious. So how did you get into comedy?

JC: I wanted to be an actor and comedian and stuff. When I moved to New York, I started doing stuff at the Upright Citizens Brigade, and that was my way in. It just evolved into doing standup and characters and writing things. Doing the videos online pushed it to a new level. Now, I mostly just do stand-up and writing — and this podcast.

A: And this podcast, which we’ll talk about shortly. So how do you come up with the idea for the characters?

JC: When I worked in restaurants, it was a lot of the people I was dealing with, truly. It was a lot of that back then. It was the people I was dealing with a lot of the time, and also just in life. It’s either drawing on something I see in someone that is absurd that I can relate to why they’re behaving that way, or I see something of myself and then I heighten it to make it a little bit more ridiculous. They just come to me, but it’s all person-driven. That person’s acting crazy, and I want to act like that because it’s funny.

Z: No one has actually ever asked you to spit in their mouth, right?

JC: That was a huge problem.

Z: It’s one of his most iconic bits; I’m not making this up out of nowhere.

JC: The place I worked at before I left restaurants was Kindred, which is a natural wine spot. As natural wine got more and more popular, people wanted to drink stuff that tasted f*cking foul.

JS: So funky.

JC: They wanted the nattiest sh*t they could get. They’d be like, “Sorry, I just really wanted something funky,” and I’m like, “This sh*t hurts to drink.” I like funky, I like natty wine. I’m not picky. I like it all. It was like pouring someone a glass of sand and them being like, “Sorry, I meant something dry.” I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not going to say we, because the restaurant did not do this. If you’re going to Kindred now, this will not happen. I did this once, where I knew a bottle of wine had gone bad, and I kept it behind the bar. There was one shift where I was like, I’m going keep this bottle because people keep on saying that the wine is not natty enough, and I’m going to give this wine that’s gone bad. People were like, “Oh my God, it’s incredible.” All right, f*ck it, it’s not gonna kill them. It’s not moldy. It’s just super oxidized. I don’t know what else to tell you.

A: So you really had people who are like, “I need it as natty as possible.”

JS: Why do you think that is? I’m curious to hear your answer.

JC: I think it’s the same thing as the dry thing, where you go to wine bars and people are just like, “I want dry, I want dry, I want dry.” People are less comfortable really leaning into what they like, and they want to be told what they like and they want to be told what they should like and they want to be told what’s good. When “funky” becomes the word that everyone’s after, people just know to ask for that. Then, they just want it more and more. If I give you a wine that has a little bit of a funk to it but is also delicious, they’re like, “No, that’s too much, I want to really say that I was drinking the nattiest sh*t because it’s like a badge of honor.” Or it’s got clout to it. No one f*cking cares what you’re drinking. The number of times that we would have to be like, “Is this corked or natty?”

JS: We’ve done that; we’ve had this conversation before.

JC: That’s so intense. It’s an easy checkpoint for people to reference. Whereas the more subtle notes of wine, like acidity or body or all these things that are a little more nuanced and complex, people don’t think to learn those or express those. Their point of reference is, this should really taste like an olive. It should be salty. It should be acidic. It should be funky. If it’s not that, they’re like, “No, it’s not what I asked for.” OK, but it does taste good. I think you might not want what you think you want, you know?

A: Do you think they also think, when they’re asking for the natties, that there’s some kind of respect you’re going to give them as the server? Zach, I know that you worked the floor for a long time, too. Did either of you find your customers trying to impress you, because if they impress you, they might either get something for free or special treatment or that kind of stuff?

JS: Or just seem cool.

JC: I’ve never felt someone trying to be cool to get free stuff. I feel like it is more of a clout thing. There are other ways that people try to get free stuff, which is mostly by being an asshole. Or really hamming up that they know someone who works there. But in terms of trying to impress, that really just feels like a clout thing, where they just really want you to respect them and think they’re cool. I truly would respect someone that’s like, “Hey, I’m tired. Can you just give me this that tastes close to a Pinot Grigio?” Do you know what I mean? I’d respect you more for just knowing exactly what you want and telling me, than trying to puff your chest out and show that you know something. By doing that, you’re showing your actual cards.

A: Yeah. So let’s talk about the podcast. Obviously, the title is “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” You talk to really cool people about going out. But I’m going to pose the question, what does going out mean to you, Jake?

JC: God dammit. I guess for me, it just means, what you’re doing when you’re out of the house by choice and not for work. If any time you’re out of the house, and it’s not because you have to be, it’s because you want to be, it’s what you’re doing. To me, going out can be going to the beach, going out to a restaurant, going out to a bar. Anything that is being out and about in the city or the town that you live in, or a place that you’re visiting, I guess.

JS: In a recreational way. Not like running errands, correct?

JC: Not running errands, not going to work, not doing work. Anything else, that is going out. I think it’s a very broad term.

A: Do you find that most people who you’ve had on the podcast agree with you?

JC: Yes. Some people think the question, and maybe I could have answered this way as well, as what does it mean to you personally in terms of your life? For me, it’s what I live for. I obviously love doing comedy. I love — I’m such a douchebag — my art. My happiest moments are sometimes these moments where you catch yourself at a table with four or five of your best friends, and you’ve just been having a good time and you’re like, “Oh, damn, my life is good.” Those moments are always the happiest moments. I live in a city that I love. I have a lot of great friends here, and there are a lot of amazing places to go. So to me, it’s very special. It’s what I work for; that’s what I spend my money on. Going out and being with people and doing sh*t with my friends. I’m not someone who’s saving up because I want to buy a house and have three kids and raise a family and have that be my life. No shade, no judgment, but that’s just not where my life is going, and that’s not what I’m interested in. Yeah, I would love to buy a house, but it’s not going to have a nursery. That’s what my priority is; it’s building out my experiences and my network, and the time I spent in the city and what I do with it.

A: And you love New York, right?

JC: Yeah, I do.

JS: You’re not moving to L.A.?

JC: I don’t have any interest in moving into L.A..

A: Or Seattle?

JC: Oh, I forgot Zach’s in Seattle. I was about to be like, “What the f*ck? No.”

A: This is part of my shtick that I f*ck with Zach about.

JC: Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in L.A. and you’re casting director and you want to offer me a job, we can do the podcast remotely and I will take a job in L.A., and then I will come back to New York when the job is over. I’ll go to L.A. for work. But I do love New York; it has fully felt like home.

JS: So much of being and living in New York and NYC is going out for those things, right? I know a lot of people who make money to do just that.

JC: I see all these videos online of people complaining about how sh*tty their New York apartments are, and I’m like, “That’s not the f*cking point.” Leave your apartment, go out. If you want a nice apartment, go to Seattle. I don’t know what to tell you. It makes me mad.

Z: I have to ask a question about going out, Jake. Do you think you go out more like a comedian or more like an industry person?

A: Whoa, that’s a good one.

JS: What’s the difference here?

Z: Jake can tell you the answer. I just know what it’s like to go out as an industry person.

JC: The answer to your question is, both. It depends on who I’m with because I have industry friends, and I have comedy friends. It usually depends on who I’m out with. Going out as an industry person usually means going to either a restaurant I’ve worked at or know people who work at, or going with someone I used to work with or somebody I know from another restaurant and us checking out a new place. It’s very much about the vibe and seeing each other, and then maybe we go out to drinks after. It’s usually more of a night. For comedy, it’s doing a show and then hanging out with everyone after the show. Which is fun and great, and I love it. That one’s going to usually be more of a larger group, where maybe I’m less close to the different people because the metrics of who’s there is determined by who got booked on the show, who stayed after, who came to see the show. Whereas if I’m going out with my industry friends, it’s the people we invited and that we texted to go. So it’s a little bit of a different vibe. Going out for comedy is definitely less about the space we are in. We’re not there to check out the bar. We are there because that’s the bar that the show is at or that’s the bar next door to where the show is.

A: So it’s not about being at a sceney bar?

JC: I’m not picky, in general, about where I go. I’m down for most places. But I guess my point is, if I’m going out with an industry person, we’re probably going to check somewhere out. Or we’re just going to one of the dive bars we know and we’re really getting into it. But with comedy, it’s usually larger groups and we’re either at the bar where the show happened or the bar that’s next to it. So it’s a little bit of a different vibe there. When I party with comedians, there are more late-night, big Brooklyn dance party rave moments, which I couldn’t do when I worked in the restaurant industry, because I don’t have that stamina. I can’t go out till 5 a.m., wake up at noon, and then go to a restaurant shift at 4 p.m. I wasn’t able to do that. So I was never doing late, late, late nights when I worked in the industry. Now that I don’t and I can sleep in and putz around my house and write jokes later, I’m more open to going out super late. Comedy nights, for me, usually end up being later.

A: OK. Do you drink differently as well?

JC: That’s also an interesting question. I don’t love performing with booze and my system. Some comics really love two drinks before they go on; that’s not usually me. I might have a beer while I’m waiting or maybe one drink, but I usually hold off. I don’t want to catch myself drunk on stage feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. Afterwards, it’s usually pretty simple mixed drinks. It’s nothing crazy. I’m probably not going to get anything fancy. When I’m out with an industry person, we’re probably trying something new. I feel it’s the food that’s more different. When I go out with industry people, the food order is quite different. We’re just down to try something more expensive and fancier. In terms of drinking, if you’re a comedian or industry person, I’m probably still ordering a Gin Martini or a mixed drink. I’m not far enough out of the bartending industry yet to enjoy trying fun bar cocktails. I’m not reading that, I don’t want to look at it. I really just want to order one of the classics, and that feels like it’s pretty much the same throughout. I end up drinking more with comedians. Part of it is that thing of, it’s a bigger group, I don’t know as many people, I’m chatting and bumping around. There’s a heightened social energy, which leads to more drinking. So sometimes, I feel like I end up having more drinks with the comedians than I would if I’m sitting down one-on-one with an industry friend in a bar, just having a couple of drinks. It’s a little bit of an energy thing. But also there are exceptions to both rules on either side. I’ve had very industry-esque nights with comedy people, but also that’s because there is a lot of layover. I have comedy friends who are industry. How do comedians pay their bills until they can do it with comedy? It’s usually the industry. I went to Kiki’s last week on the Lower East Side.

A: I love Kiki’s.

JC: It’s so f*cking good.

A: It’s the best.

JS: It’s just a Greek restaurant, right?

A: It’s not just a Greek restaurant.

JC: It’s a really delicious Greek restaurant that’s very competitively priced.

A: Extremely. I don’t know how they make money. It’s a front.

JS: It’s really hard to get into. There’s always a massive line.

JC: There’s always a massive line. It’s really fun. The food is really good. The energy is really good. The service is really good. Melissa Rich, who was on the podcast, is best friends with Kiki. I posted that I was at Kiki’s, and Melissa came down. She’s a comedy friend, but then we had a very industry-esque night. We were ar Kiki’s, we went to Clandestino, we had Martinis, we hung out. She’s a comedy fan where it feels industry. So it does waffle back and forth.

A: Wow, Kiki’s is the best. Although you also love Walter’s like I love Walter’s.

JC: I adore Walter’s. Nate and I went to Walter’s for dinner on Sunday. It’s the best. It’s so good. It always is so good.

JS: And you had the chicken?

JC: Absolutely, absolutely.

JS: Just fact checking here.

A: Just gotta make sure that what you said on the podcast is real.

JC: Yeah, I don’t mess around with that thing.

Z: I want to ask one more comedy and drinking question. Most of the stuff that I’ve seen of yours, because most of it’s resonated with me, has revolved around the industry, around drinking, etc. But in general, is drinking a fruitful source for comedy? So much of what you do is that character-based caricature. I often think that drinking is a lot of fun and also can be very serious. It feels like it could be difficult to make some of the specific things and technical things funny, but I feel like you do a good job with it. So so how does that play out?

JC: I don’t think that being drunk is inherently funny, especially if you’re not drunk. If I made a video pretending to be drunk like that, I don’t think I would be funny. The culture around anything is really funny, especially if you heighten and exaggerate it. What I was doing for a while was doing that with the restaurant industry and with the beverage industry. I was heightening the behavior of douchey somms and aggressive chefs and annoying customers. But then you can expand that and do that about Brooklyn parents and things like that. Anything that people are passionate about, you can transition that into a comedic idea. So I think it’s less about drinking as much as it was the drinking culture. Comedy and culture are very intertwined. What is VinePair’s thing? “Drinking is Cutlure?” Exactly. I’m an industry boy, baby. I know what it’s like. So I think it’s very tied in in that way, if that makes sense.

A: Very cool. Well, Jake, it’s been awesome having you on the podcast.

JS: He brought a drink for us.

A: I know.

Z: I have it right here.

A: So Jake, obviously every Friday, we have a drink. And you have brought your favorite drink, which we’re going to enjoy. Zach, you have all your supplies, right?

Z: I’m locked and loaded.

A: OK, cool. Why don’t you tell us what the drink is and how you make it, so that Zach can follow along and make it correctly.

JC: Perfect. So this is my favorite low-ABV drink. This was an invention of when we were working in the pandemic at Kindred in the summers, and we were bored and it was hot out. We were sipping on these while we worked at a dead pandemic-ridden restaurant, just f*cking around behind the bar. I ended up making this. It’s very simple, two ingredients. All you need is a grapefruit-flavored seltzer. I have Hal’s New York Seltzer here.

A: Are you a Hal’s person?

JC: I’m a Polar person. I am from New England, but I’ll take a Hal’s happily.

A: OK.

JC: I would say you want to do a wine-glass-worth pour, so maybe a 6-ouncer.

A: You’re not putting any ice in here.

JC: I think that might be what we’re hearing over here. Is Katie getting the ice.

A: Oh, it’s Tim McKirdy.

JC: So we’ll do a little ice.

A: I just think it’s funny, because every time we used to do cocktail videos, people would be like, “They’re touching the ice with their bare hands.” How do you think your bartender grabs it? Come on. Everyone chill out. So we have ice.

JC: This one just needs a little more love. So seltzer and ice go in the glass. And then this is Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro.

A: Are you a big Lo-Fi fan?

JC: Lo-Fi just sent me their vermouth, and I haven’t tried them yet. The only product I’ve had is the Lo-Fi Amaro, but I am obsessed with it. I do think it’s f*cking delicious. Have you had it?

A: No.

JC: It’s really tasty. It’s very dark, but it’s so summery to me. Of course, we’re drinking this thing on a rainy winter day. It has enough bitterness that it won’t feel like a sweet drink at all. But it doesn’t feel punishing at all. It has a lot of berries, too; it has a lot of herbaceousness. It’s my perfect summer drink. If you want it not low-ABV, just do Prosecco instead of seltzer. But I think grapefruit seltzer with Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro is a perfect match made in heaven.

A: You got yours made there, Zach?

Z: I do. I’m about to give it a sip.

A: AlL right, hold on.

Z: Oh yeah, that’s very tasty.

A: Holy sh*t. That’s good.

JC: Isn’t it f*cking good?

JS: It’s very floral and kind of perfume-y.

A: How much alcohol is in it?

JC: 17.5 percent. This is low-ABV. You can drink these all day.

A: This is really good.

JC: Well, that’s why we would drink them at work. I would drink them all day at work and never catch a buzz, because it’s mostly water with a shot of wine in it. I love low-ABV drinks. I truly love them. There’s this new bar in Clinton Hill called Famous Last Words, and they have a whole low-ABV cocktail menu. They have a normal cocktail menu and then a low-ABV cocktail menu. And it’s f*cking awesome.

A: Famous Last Words?

JS: That’s a good bar name.

A: It’s a good bar name. Where in Clinton Hill?

Z: I want to say Fulton and maybe Clinton, across from that Italian restaurant by the Clinton Washington G.

A: I know what you’re talking about.

JC: Check it out.

JS: I thought you were going to make us a Gin Martini.

JC: It’s 4 p.m.

JS: Oh, sorry.

JC: Unfortunately for me, it’s 4 p.m.

A: Do you have a show tonight?

JC: I’m going to someone else’s show tonight.

A: To wrap this up, and now I’m very curious: Is it a thing where you go to support other comedians and they come to support you?

JC: Yeah, and if you have the night free, it’s nice to go see other shows and check out what people are doing and meet other people. I guess there is a self-serving aspect to it, but I like being out and about. Also until September, I was working in bars. So I only had two nights free to see shows, and I was also on shows, so I very rarely got to see my friends’ show. Now that I don’t work nights, I really am trying to take advantage of it.

A: Make sense. Well, Jake, thank you so much for joining us.

JC: Thank you for having me.

A: Everyone, listen to the podcast called “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” Like I said, it’ll hit this feed next week with one of our preview episodes, when Jake sits down and talks to Molly Baz. You can also find it by just searching iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify. Who’s on Stitcher, anyway?

JS: Download it, guys. Subscribe.

A: Download, subscribe, rate. Jake, thanks.

JC: Thank you so much, guys.

JS: Thank you.

Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.

Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.

Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.

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