Road Hard: How Adam Carolla Circumvented Hollywood

Editor’s Note: Be sure and get caught up on the previous parts of the series before enjoying today’s conclusion:

January 21: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative? 

February 6: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism

February 26: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?

It was a dark and stormy March night when Adam Carolla brought Road Hard to town, typical weather in these parts.

I’d been writing on assignment about Carolla since the beginning of the year, expositing at length in an exploration with a broader context—how does Carolla figure in the universe of countercultural conservatism, assuming such a place exists?

It’s no secret that the mass conundrum facing conservative counterculture is the progressive stranglehold on the means of production and distribution, specifically in the creative and influential realms of film, television, and the literary arts.

Actually, the rain on March 14th was atypical, at least for 2015. The Portland premiere of Carolla’s crowd-funded, romantically intertwined comedy brought the first steady downpours of what has been a record dry year-to-date.

I was probably a good choice for the Carolla assignment, because up until a few months ago, I’d had no real history with Mr. Carolla’s entertainment career.

Love Line? I prefer getting my sex advice from Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Now my essay subject was in the Rose City. I knew there’d be a meet-and-greet, and it was natural that I’d want to meet him in the flesh.

I had no idea what Road Hard was about, but have always valued independent films produced on low budgets which become hits. Like The Blair Witch Project, a quirky little picture that spooked its way to obscene profitability in a horror landscape glutted with low-to-midrange-budget teen attrition flicks.

I refused to even consider looking at a Road Hard synopsis, because I wanted to go in cold. Neither a fan nor disgruntled former fan, I came to the story neutral, or, objective, as we used to say back in high school journalism classes.

And I certainly wasn’t a member of the leftist press.

Though Carolla’s embattled and self-depreciatory humor threads the narrative like a business-trip hangover, Road Hard actually reminds me of a typical Hollywood-style film, the kind I never see.

Carolla’s Bruce Madsen, a character facing the waning of the show business performance dream, is apparently spot-on autobiographical. His options are less than optimal, emotions are pulling him in other directions, and his next production is to figure out where to go from here.

Along the way, from Hollywood to the hinterlands, Madsen finds that there is no escape, either on the road or at home, from the life he has sown, and the madness of our times. In Road Hard’s world, touring becomes a means of perpetuating a lifestyle that seems to be crumbling around you. The promise of artistic fame and fortune has become a slog.

One interesting takeaway was the apparent difference between the offstage lives of touring rock stars and standup comedians on the road. I don’t know about Carolla, but when Bruce Madsen is hitting the sticks, he doesn’t come with an entourage. And the groupies don’t quite work out as one might hope.

It was also interesting to take stock of Carolla’s audience, a different sort from the conservative, khakis-with-collared-shirts brigades I’m used to covering.

Carolla’s crowd was pure Portlandia, with a libertarian edge. Patrons mingled dressed in the muted tones of politically correct raingear, drinking beer and acting civilized, as if they’d internalized Carolla’s anti-narcissism diatribe from President Me.

My sense was that not one ticketholder in attendance would be caught dead showing up on an airliner without shoes.

The bottom line on Road Hard? There are no witches, but bitches, pardon the vernacular, are well represented.

Carolla’s hangdog persistence and inchoate quest for meaningfulness save the film from becoming yet another manipulative Hollywood journey movie with a foxy, age-appropriate female soul mate as the ultimate prize.

Road Hard’s showcase wasn’t the only shoe dropping for Carolla on Saint Patty’s Day weekend. On Saturday, his home improvement sting operation, Catch a Contractor, was set to begin production of its third season, which will debut on Spike TV this summer.

It was that show–which I discovered in its second season–and Carolla’s appearances on The O’Reilly Factor–that put the Gen X comedian, author, and entertainment entrepreneur securely onto my radar.

After a brief Q&A at the film’s end, Carolla met with local supporters who had backed his project, and then came out for his meet-and-greet at the merch table.

I got the opportunity to meet Carolla, mention the PJ Media assignment, and get my copy of President Me signed. I also offered a special thanks for Catch a Contractor, the show I turn to when things get too professional and predictable on This Old House.

It was time to move along. There was a long line waiting behind me, and another line waiting outside in the pouring rain for the second showing at the Aladdin that night.

When last I saw Carolla, he was taking center stage in a forty-something couple’s celebrity selfie.

It was more than just a moment of Adam Carolla’s life imitating Bruce Madsen’s art. It was a glimpse at how artists do what is necessary to tell their stories when the implacable entertainment gatekeepers won’t let go of the green light.


Please join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-ninth in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
  21. Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
  22. Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music
  23. Ronald R. Cherry on March 17: How To Untangle Orwellian Doublethink: 4 Secrets To Help You Spot BS
  24. Dave Swindle on March 18: Do Fairy Tales & Scary Stories Hide Secrets For Defeating Evil?
  25. Walter Hudson on March 18: The Case Against Freedom, Part I: What Are ‘Externalities’?
  26. Chris Queen on March 18: Can Conservatives & Libertarians Unify? A Review of The Conservatarian Manifesto
  27. Frank J. Fleming on March 19: Today’s Question: Are We All Sociopaths In Our Own Special Ways?
  28. Aaron C. Smith on March 19: Animals Kill. Humans Torture. Why?

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

  1. Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
  2. David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
  3. Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
  4. Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
  5. Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
  6. Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
  7. David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  8. Liberty Island on November 22nd, 2014: A Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers
  9. Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
  10. Kathy Shaidle on November 25, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)
  11. Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
  12. Kathy Shaidle on December 3, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)
  13. Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose

January-February 2015 – Volume I

  1. Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
  2. Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
  3. Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
  4. Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
  5. Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
  6. Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
  7. Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
  8. Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
  9. Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
  10. Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
  11. Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
  12. Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
  13. Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
  15. David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
  16. Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
  17. David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood
  18. Kathy Shaidle on February 9, 2015: Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?
  19. Aaron C. Smith on February 10, 2015: Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates
  20. Spencer Klavan on February 12, 2015: How to Apologize for Your Thought Crimes
  21. Kathy Shaidle on February 16, 2015: David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite
  22. David P. Goldman on February 18, 2015: Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life
  23. Lisa De Pasquale on February 20, 2015: Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey
  24. Spencer Klavan on February 24, 2015: How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned

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