Thursday, August 30, 2007

House Of Pain

Thursday August 30th, 2007 - Salt Lake City, UT

I love Utah. It’s packed full of goofy white people and I fit right in. It’s a different world altogether and I got used to it when I lived here in 2000 and 2001. I really thought I’d stay out here for a long time and even bought a house to seal the deal. The radio business had a different plan and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I ever made and I have an impressive list of stupid mistakes to choose from. This one hurt a lot though and still does.

My hotel is about a mile from my old place so I walked by it this morning to see how it’s looking these days. I saw a sign in front of it from a distance and it looked like it was a for sale sign but it wasn’t. It was a commendation from the city of West Valley praising it as a ‘jewel of the city’ and it took first place in a contest the city had for the nicest yard. Wow.

I looked at the yard and it really was gorgeous. Someone moved in there and turned the yard into a show place with all kinds of rock formations and exotic flowers and the lawn is like the 18th green at Pebble Beach. I sure didn’t have it looking like that so I congratulate whomever moved in after I left. They probably got a very good deal on it and now it’s the showpiece of the neighborhood. It kind of hurt to see that at first but then I was happy for the people who live there now and realized I would never have gotten it looking like that.

Some things are meant to be and others aren’t. It wasn’t for me to be a homeowner here and I wish I’d have known that then. Actually I did have severe second thoughts about the whole thing back then but I did it anyway because everyone kept telling me how intelligent it was to buy a house and how ‘I couldn’t go wrong’ and all the other stuff that haunts me several years later. My life is full of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ but it’s too late now. It’s all over and the only thing that remains of my Utah experience is my vaporized credit rating.

That doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the day today though so I did. I took a long walk on a sunny day and thought about my life now. It’s easy to enjoy life when things are flowing smoothly but when the rough waters come it’s a challenge to keep a cool head. I can feel a lifetime of hard knocks and mistakes and rough breaks taking their toll on me now. I am at a crucial time in life and if I’m going to make my mark I have to hurry up and do it soon.

I was in a full sweat by the time I got back to the hotel and my blood was pumping hard. The altitude of Salt Lake City is higher than Denver so the air is light and I could feel it in my shortness of breath. I cooled off by doing the USA Today crossword puzzle and then I sat down to get some comedy work done to make this day productive on multiple levels.

My schedule is pretty bare for the next few months and looking at my calendar made me realize that I need to get back in the booking game but quick. I kept it on the light side for way too long a time because I didn’t know what was going to happen with the radio job.

That’s not going to happen now so I need to start from ground zero and build up a new list of contacts that will give me work. I feel like I’m starting over again and in a sense I’m doing exactly that. I’ll use this weekend to start making my contacts and get it all rolling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Image Ideas

Wednesday August 29th, 2007 - Salt Lake City, UT

This image thing is consuming my thoughts. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle but I enjoy a good puzzle. I know it won’t be a simple solution either. If I could find an image mall to zip into and then zip out with two dozen pair of knickers and some dashikis I would do it. Or maybe coveralls and an ascot. No wait - how about a codpiece and a beekeeper’s hat? If I knew what I was looking for I’d get it but I know that I do need to TRY something.

It’s not only the clothing. It’s the whole stage package. I was thinking all day about it. If I can find what works for me it might be the last thing that puts me over the top. Or not. It could be a waste of time and I’m already there and don’t know it. Right now I usually just wear dark colored dress pants and a solid color (usually red) shirt with the tail sticking out because that’s supposed to be in style. If my grandpa saw me with my shirt tail out he’d be all in my face about it but it’s the style now so I have been doing that. I’d feel much better tucking it in just because that’s how I was raised but that was a long time ago. Bell bottom pants and leisure suits were in style back then too and I’m surely not going to wear those.

Red has always been my favorite color. I don’t know why but it is. My cousin Jef Parker used to own comic book stores in Milwaukee and he passed away in 2001. He always told me to ‘pick a color’ and make it my own. His was blaze orange. He had his stores painted that color and his van was that color and his business cards were that color too. He sold it as part of his image and he embraced it. He used to tell me I should do the same thing but I don’t think blaze orange would work for me as a comedian. I’m not trying to be a clown.

Rodney had his red tie so if I choose red it may appear like I’m copying him but I always liked red even before I saw him. Color might have something to do with it, I don’t know. I think sometimes too bright a color can be distracting to a comedian. The look on stage is a very delicate thing. It has to be distinctive but not distracting. People have said I should be up there with iron scorch marks on my shirt or a ketchup stain. That seems too contrived.

Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean character is a good example of a uniform. He usually wears a tweed jacket and a tie except for the bits he does at the beach or a doctor’s office or any place where he has specific clothes just for that. I know he has a new movie out and I need to go see it just so I can see how he framed it all out and presented himself. I read reviews of it that were horrendous and I was sorry to see that. I like his style and respect him a lot.

I’ll make up my own mind about the movie. I just want to see how he uses costume in it. Laurel and Hardy had a costume as did Charlie Chaplin. Costume, uniform, whatever. It’s something I need to think about and experiment with and I’m going to do just that in Utah this week. I have job security out here and the club won’t mind what I do. That’s a relief.

I brought some different clothes along this week to try out and see if it makes any bit of difference at all. I rarely wear blue jeans on stage but this week I have a pair along for test purposes. I don’t really feel comfortable wearing blue jeans and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s too casual. I wear black jeans fairly often but blue seems like under dressing. I’ll see.

I also brought along a pair of light colored summer pants, almost white. I hardly ever do that either but I’m experimenting with trying SOMETHING different. When I lived here in 2001 I frequently wore suits on stage so the club people will tease me about it but I need a change and this is a place I can safely play around with it. No matter what I’ll get to come back here and it’s nice to have a place to test this on real audiences. This week will be it.

My shirt selection is going to be short sleeve button down shirts of various patterns. I’ve got a solid red one which I’ll probably wear on Saturday night with the blue jeans. I won’t feel self conscious about it and it’s pretty close to what I’m used to already. I also brought a couple of louder type prints too. Two are dark colored and one is lighter colored. I’ll try those out and see if I notice a difference in how the audience reacts. It’s amazing how that can have an affect on material. Changing out of the suit was an adjustment and I felt it. It’s a similar situation here. If I wear something else it will send a different message as well.

I like the idea of short sleeve shirts because to me it says ‘kid’ more. Maybe they won’t take it that way but it feels that way to me. A kid would wear a short sleeve shirt and I do want to get more into doing childhood material. The ‘dented can’ angle is all about how a child from a rough background gets over it and has to struggle. The exposed arms make it seem like I’m vulnerable. I’ve been wearing short sleeve shirts lately just because it’s been a hot summer but I feel very comfortable on stage wearing them and I’ll try it this week.

Wearing my glasses on stage is something I’ve only tried very few times. I will bet it has been under five times in over twenty years of performing when I tried wearing my glasses. I had to read a cue card a couple of times as an emcee so I tried it then but as a rule I just don’t like how they feel during a show. They reflect the glare of the stage lights and I have a big pair of eyes (my own) staring back at me the whole show. It’s distracting so I usually just go without them but one show this week I will force myself to wear them onstage and do a joke or two about them as well. I’ll do it on a week day show when it won’t matter.

Even to be thinking about any of this at all is a huge positive step in the right direction. I am getting older now and my act has to reflect that. Eventually I can see myself on stage playing the character of my grandfather who was so precious to me as a kid. Maybe that’s the role I’m preparing for all this time and when it hits I’ll nail it like Redd Foxx nailed his Fred Sanford character. He played an older man because he WAS an older man by then. It looks like it will be the same for me but that’s ok. If I can wait it out I will nail that role.

But right now I’m Mr. Lucky the dented can. I am struggling through life and fighting as hard as I can just to be ‘normal’, whatever that is. I think there are MILLIONS of people I could relate to with this and the key word is ‘struggle’. Nothing comes easy for Mr. Lucky and life isn’t easy for most. That’s the vibe I want to tap into and I think it will really work well if I can put it into a definable package. That’s what I’m starting to do here in Utah.

I’m SO glad I got here a day early and didn’t have to stress about doing a show tonight. I had a relaxing flight and the weather is beautiful and I have a room at the Baymont Inn. I will have to pay the club rate of $35 a night but that will be way worth it in stress relief.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Image Is Everything

Tuesday August 28th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

No show today. No class either. Still, I managed to work a full twelve hour day getting a handle on how I want to focus my energies in the next little while. Time management has been and still is an ongoing issue in my world and without a plan it will be easy to just drift away from all my dreams and that’s not what I want. I’ve come too far to let that happen.

The sad reality is that there are many talented people in all areas of show business and in life too that never get the recognition that people of lesser abilities do. Show business is an unbelievably difficult challenge and requires lots of hard work but luck is a big factor too.

Many talented people never get to that hallowed ground of ‘right place, right time’. I am hoping I can get there and just because I haven’t done it in the past doesn’t mean I cannot turn it around and get there in the future. The best people don’t always make it the biggest and even though I think that’s insane it’s the truth and that’s how it works. Sometimes. I’d love it if it were fair or at least a little fairer than it has been but all I can do now is look at where I am in life and look at where I want to go and map out a plan on how to get there.

Bill Gorgo made a great point to me in an email yesterday about image. We talked about it on the way back from Zanies last night and I thought about it all day today too. Image is SO important in show business and many huge performers have changed theirs throughout their careers. I am in need of an evolution of Mr. Lucky’s image and also of my own too.

Mr. Lucky is the character and Dobie is the person. I need to make a distinction between the two if for nothing else so that I don’t get lost in my thoughts and become ‘him’ all the time. I think sometimes I get overwhelmed with all my personal problems and it gets in the way of my professional life. It’s easier said than done but keeping the two separate is a big key to moving forward to where I want to be. Today I consciously thought about doing it.

There was a booker who told me one time ‘I can tell what kind of a day you’re having in your personal life by watching you on stage. If you’re in a good mood there’s nobody who can touch you but if you’re not it’s edgy for everyone.’ I cringed when he said that but the message was loud and clear and I’ve worked really hard to improve that and I totally have.

That was several years ago and it started me thinking about being ‘the character’ on stage.
Alice Cooper is an example of someone who didn’t know when to shut the stage guy off and he had real problems with it for many years. He has a grip on it now but it wasn’t easy to come out of ‘that guy’ in getting off stage. I guess all those self help books are true and what a person thinks about really IS important after all. Thoughts are things and they have a real affect on our lives. Maybe I’ve been unlucky in life because I expected it. I will say I first heard how unlucky I was from my grandfather when I was a kid and maybe it’s been a part of my thinking so long I don’t even realize it. Whatever the case, I need to leave it on the stage when I get off. Mr. Lucky is a hilarious character to play but SO not fun to live it off stage. On stage I am the brunt of everyone’s frustrations and a pressure release valve. I let people relieve their tensions by seeing that someone else is doing worse than they are.

But what is the image of ‘that guy’ on stage? Having a standardized look is an important part of the package and I need to evolve. Elvis evolved several times. He started out being fairly conservative and by the end he looked like a cartoon character but it sure fit him. He wore the jeweled jumpsuits and the capes and it became part of his image. I need one too.

Rodney Dangerfield is my comedy hero and he evolved his look too. I saw an album that he did in the early ‘60s and he didn’t wear the trademark black suit and red tie. He wore a flannel shirt and pair of jeans and didn’t look anything like ‘Rodney’ the character. At one time I wore suits on stage and it never hurts to dress up but I really don’t think it fits now.

George Clinton is another one of my favorites and he made his hair his image. He was an innovator of music in the ‘70s and played the character ‘Dr. Funkenstein’ who landed in a spaceship from another planet. Now THAT’S an image! He wore all kinds of stage clothes that added to the presentation and it didn’t hurt that it was the ‘70s and that was already a time for goofy fashion statements. He dressed wildly but then in the ‘80s he evolved and it took on a different look. He wore more colorful long robes and had his hair braided into a multi bright colored look that he’s now known for. His quote was ‘If I couldn’t get any hit records I needed to get a hit hairdo.’ Brilliant. George is very sharp and that’s why I enjoy his work so much. He’s always evolving onstage and off and I need to do the same myself.

I don’t think sequined jumpsuits or multi colored hair braids will work for my particular persona but I do need to find something that’s identifiable. Being ‘just another white guy’ is not going to get me out of the trenches and in reality I’m NOT just another white guy. I really am different onstage and off and I need to convey that message to the public so they can pick me out of a crowd and know that I’m not another idiot talking about airline food.

I need a comedy uniform. It’s a look that I cultivate that isn’t necessarily the same exact clothes every time but it should be similar. Steven Wright wore jeans and a flannel shirt. It didn’t matter if it was summer or winter. Robin Williams wore a short sleeve shirt that had a pattern on it and often had suspenders and casual pants. I don’t think I ever saw either of those guys in a suit but Steve Martin wore a white suit on stage and that’s what he became known for. He didn’t start that way and in fact he had long hair and a beard but he decided to consciously change his whole persona and came up with ‘that guy’ he called ‘the jerk’.

Putting on ‘funny pants’ isn’t going to make me famous. I have an act and I’ve spent my life honing my skills on stage. I have a persona that is identifiable in ‘Mr. Lucky’ and it has been relatively successful. I have also begun using ‘The Dented Can’ in describing how my childhood went because I know there are LOTS of people who can relate to that also. I’m ok with using both of those for now and I know I have a sellable show but I need to put it all into some kind of package so when people see me on stage they say ‘Oh, THAT guy.’

It’s a puzzle I need to solve. It’s not just clothing, it’s a whole image. For example, I’ve worn glasses off stage my entire life but NEVER worn them on stage. I thought they were goofy looking and never wore them. Now I wouldn’t know what to do if I saw anybody in the audience looking back at me. But it may be a part of my image. I’m still working on it.

Manic Martian Monday

Monday August 27th, 2007 - Chicago, IL

Lots going on today. On the cosmic calendar this is the day when Mars is closer to Earth than at any other time during the year. Allegedly. In 2003 it was as close to us as it will be for the next 40,000 years - give or take a few years of course. I don’t know how anyone is able to figure that out but what does it matter? If it’s wrong who will be able to prove it?

I am always reading tidbits about outer space and time travel and aliens and conspiracies because it helps me forget the insanity of what’s supposed to be ‘real life’. I’d much rather see a hovering space ship in the middle of a cornfield than have to watch any more of what Michael Vick is babbling about or whether Owen Wilson will ever get another movie deal.

Who really cares about that stuff? MILLIONS of idiots apparently. Don’t they have any hopes and dreams in their own lives? I remember being in LA during the OJ Simpson trial and there were people standing outside in Hollywood with billboards saying ‘Free OJ’ and ‘The Juice Should Be Loose’ and ‘Pray For #32’. I also remember walking up to a couple of these numbskulls and telling them they might want to worry about their own lives as he wasn’t going to be able to get out of his jail cell to see those signs. They weren’t moved.

It’s a good thing I’m not in charge. The world would be a LOT different. Michael Vick would be allowed to play football again…after spending a few nights on that rape stand he had set up for the dogs. Then just like those dogs if he lost a game he’d be drowned, shot or electrocuted. Or even worse, he’d have to watch Nicole Richie’s wedding or any one of Owen Wilson’s movies. Or maybe he could be a passenger in Lindsay Lohan’s car instead.

TV has been weaned out of my life to a great extent but I do have cable again so I take a minute to flick through the channels once in a while and all that was on today was Michael Vick and his ‘apology’. Right. Of course he ‘axed’ for the public’s forgiveness. I think that he deserves to get axed from the NFL but the Falcons didn’t even cut him. This is all a big circus and I’m sick of it. Turn off the cameras and let him go to jail and be someone’s little puppy maker. Maybe they could throw Phil Spector in there and they could write a song.

All kinds of goofy stories seemed to come to a head today. The Attorney General quit as of today and so did Bruce Cutler, Phil Spector’s lead attorney. He was also defended John Gotti so he’s got quite the resume. I’m surprised he didn’t defend Vick or Saddam as well.

Maybe Mars being so close to Earth has something to do with all this. I think it might be partially responsible for our audience at Zanies for Chicago Style Standups. They were not very upbeat and we had to work very hard to squeeze anything out of them. After that hot week in Memphis this was really a big letdown. The harder we tried the less they liked it.

Today was also my half brother’s 40th birthday. We haven’t emailed in a while so I sent a birthday wish and meant it. He is healing from all the pain my father caused us all and I am hoping we can meet up soon and start our own healing. This is a whole lot more important to me than worrying about my fantasy football quarterback or if Britney can keep the kids.

Monday, August 27, 2007

End Of Week Ramblings

Sunday August 26th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

678.9 miles on the Cougar today. That’s kind of cosmic but I’m not exactly sure what it means in the big scheme of the universe. On a small scale it means I have gotten more than my money’s worth out of a great auction car. I’ve already made about four times the price I paid for it and there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. On the highway it’s very smooth and I can’t help but feel like a proud papa every time I come back from a gig in it.

I really should have flown to Memphis and next time I probably will but this was how it worked out so I went with it. I was planning on leaving right after the shows last night but I stopped back at the hotel to check email and then I got some calls so I decided I’d stay and sleep since it was getting late. I don’t need to nod off at the wheel in Arkansas just to get back to a basement in Lake Villa. I thought it over and know made the right decision.

I woke up and read a little and caught the sports scores and my Milwaukee Brewers are pretty much done. I was cheering for them because they have stunk so long and started the season red hot but now they’re really sucking canal water. It looks to be over as they can’t even beat the last place San Francisco Giants. It’s too bad it had to end like this but it sure doesn’t look good. I’ll take it as a positive though. It will be one last thing that gets in the way of comedy right now. I had a good week in Memphis and am encouraged about going to Salt Lake City this coming week. I do well out there too and I should have another nice showing. I am improving all the time and have a ton of new ideas to work in so I will be in a work mode the whole week. I am going to shape and reshape my act and that helps keep my mind off bad things. I really felt like I was in a good space this week and I’m excited.

I heard a rumor from a friend that the Loop fired some people this past Friday including the overnight guy Crazy Ray. Max and I met Ray when we did our audition. He was a nice guy and he has a wife and kids to feed so I’m always sorry to hear stories like that about a radio axe taking someone out at the roots just because of budget cuts. I’ve been there too.

Maybe it was a good thing Max and I didn’t get the job. Last time there was no way any of us could predict that the station would be sold and we’d get fired and it wiped us all out and still hurts us now. Getting back into that grind again offers no guarantees and maybe it would just break our hearts again or maybe not. Who knows? I heard it from a reliable and trustworthy source so I have no doubts it’s true. I feel bad for the people who got gassed.

I heard from Max on the way home telling me his father in law passed away on Friday. I was sorry to hear it but he’d been sick for a while and it wasn’t unexpected. I’d met him at the Loop years ago and then last Thanksgiving he was at Max’s house and we watched the late football game together. He thought I was funny and I made him laugh a few times that day and I’m glad I was able to do that. He’s lived his life and now all his laughing is done.

Max moved back to the area so his kids could know their grandpa in his last days. Now that’s over too. Max is a good man for doing that and I respect him to no end. Like me he is trying to find his niche also. If we ever do get back on the radio look out. We’ll nail it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Amazing Graceland

Saturday August 25th, 2007 - Memphis, TN

I’m still on a high from the two hot shows last night. What a blast. I couldn’t sleep at all so I stayed up until dawn going through my calendar for next year. Actually I bought two 16 month calendars that go from September of ‘07 through December of ‘08 and now it’s time to fill them both with bookings. I’ve lost calendars before so now I have a backup in case I do it again. After all this time on the road I’m starting to get a little smarter. A little.

I know now I’m not going to be doing radio any time soon so I can contact every single booker I’ve ever worked for, wanted to work for and hope to work for in the future. I am going to change my strategy and not just take anything that comes along as I always have. I will go after better work in better venues and that will take a solid plan and the execution of it. I still need to make a living but I also need to keep raising my stakes in new venues.

It’s a constant struggle but the worst thing I can do is stand pat. The fact is I’m a typical run of the mill ham and egger comedy club headliner. Even though that’s about as difficult a job as there is in the entertainment business it’s not a way to get rich any time soon. I’ve been able to make a living for many years doing this but it’s a younger man’s game and I’d be very smart in looking for what’s next. I don’t mind still being a road comic but I need a draw to get people to come and see me to make it worth my while for living this lifestyle.

One person who didn’t have to worry about money every week was Elvis. After an hour and a half of looking over my booking possibilities I decided to take a tour of the town for a while because I was sick of hanging out in the room. I don’t get to Memphis as much as I’d like and I like it here so I drove around town to see the sights. I passed by the building where Sun Records used to be and also the hotel where Martin Luther King was shot. I’ve seen those places before but I was in a touring mood so I took the time to see them again.

I passed by Elvis Presley Boulevard and hadn’t planned on going to Graceland this time through but when I saw the sign for it my little inner voice told me to go so I did. It’s been at least a dozen years since I’ve taken the tour and a lot has happened since then so I spent the $27 and got the deluxe tour package and killed a couple of hours of my afternoon. I’ve had a fun week and I’ve spent a lot more than $27 on stupider things so I decided to do it.

Last week was the 30th anniversary of his death and it would have been impossible to see it then but today was a breeze. I paid my money and got right on the tour bus that took me across the street. I was the only one on the bus and there were some people already in the mansion when I got there but it wasn’t packed like the last couple of times I’ve been here.

The first time I was here happened to be on the 10th anniversary of his death in 1987. I’ll never forget that trip because I didn’t know it was the anniversary until I got here. I was in shock walking around and seeing all the insanity unfold before my eyes. People from every corner of the country were gathered and many were dressed like Elvis and they were really somber. Many were weeping openly and I remember then hoping people would still have a reason to cry about me ten years after I was dead. That whole scene was very odd to me.

I had a comedy club shirt on and someone from Entertainment Tonight asked if I would mind if they interviewed me about the whole scene from the eyes of a comedian. It was my first national TV shot and I don’t remember exactly what I said but I made a couple of one liner jokes that ended up getting on the show. People told me they saw it but I never did.

I know I wasn’t as respectful then as I should have been or am now. Quite frankly it’s an absolute fact that Elvis Presley is THE single biggest entertainer for the entire 20th century with the possible exception of Bob Hope. Hope was great in his own right but Elvis had it as far as star power and charisma. Bob Hope was a star of radio, TV, movies and on stage and was world famous and rich beyond his dreams but Elvis had his generation’s sex drive.

I’m sure Bob did fine with the ladies in his circle but they weren’t tossing panties during his comedy routine. Elvis could have done any woman within a 500 mile radius of the city in which he was performing right in front of her husband and father. Now THAT’S power.

Back when I was here the first time I was a young punk and it was hip to make fat jokes and drug innuendos and people still do but all these years later seeing how insane showbiz is and how difficult success is on any level I have a whole new respect for how great Elvis really was. He hit it at 22 and broke lots of new ground not only in music but in Las Vegas and in movies too. Yes most of them weren’t great but they all made money and he did 33 of them. How many full time actors never do 33 movies? Lots. He was a singer who did it because his manager wanted him to. The older I get the more respect I have for old Elvis.

Taking a look at the wall of all his gold records was pretty impressive too. He’s the man when it comes to all time sales and nobody can take that away from him. Someone may be able to top it someday but he did it at a time when it really meant something. He was really in the right place at the right time in many ways and he won life’s lottery jackpot big time.

I’m really glad I took the tour. They have made it very slick and organized and whatever new company is running it is doing a spectacular job. I saw the planes and all the jumpsuits and the car museum and I felt I got my money’s worth for sure. I don’t know if I will need another dose of the king for a few years but for today it was a real learning experience and I soaked everything in with a completely different perspective than I did when I first came.

Two more hot shows at the club tonight. The first show was jam packed and I again had a monster response but I didn’t like them as much as that first show last night. That one is one for the ages. This one was very good but not the same. I did sell a lot more cds at this show and no hot blondies rubbed my crotch but other than that it was still a monster show and the second one was good too. Then I got paid and realized that Elvis gave more away to charity than I made for the week and realized I really have to find a way to be a draw.

I’m not complaining about what I made and in fact I’m very grateful for it but I am in an industry where the top performers get paid top money. I have clawed and scraped my way up the ladder for 20 plus years to be a top comedian and if you’d ask anyone who came to Comedy, TN this week they’d all say I was definitely one. Now I need to get paid like it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Absolute Magic

Friday August 24th, 2007 - Memphis, TN

Now THIS is how comedy is supposed to work! What a night in Memphis. I felt like I’d gone back in time and was in the comedy boom of the 1980’s again. I would have killed to be a headliner for audiences like this back then and now years later I finally got my chance.

Those years were amazing times. I had no idea that I was in such a boom period when it was happening and most other comedians didn’t either. Clubs were opening in every town and audiences would show up if there was a brick wall with a mike stand in front of it and three guys telling jokes for an hour and a half. They would laugh uproariously and it went on all week. Most clubs had shows Tuesday through Sunday and the houses were packed. Somebody made a lot of money during that time but it wasn’t me. I managed to eek out an acceptable living which became exceptional because I was doing what I wanted to do.

Both audiences felt that way tonight here in Memphis. The first show was pretty full and I could see that they were nicely dressed and didn’t appear rowdy at all. John Marks is one of the owners who is also a comedian and he opened the show very capably. It helps us all to have a strong and competent host to set the rules for the night and he did just that. He’s a pro and I was glad he was there. The feature this week is from Dayton, OH named Dave Glardon and he sets me up very nicely because he doesn’t step on any premises that I do.

Dave had a strong set and I could feel that this show was built correctly. They were in a good place when I got on and I took them on a roller coaster ride the rest of the way. This is when I’m at my best because I just keep pounding them until they can’t laugh any more and then I pound them some more. I could see people gasping for air and holding up their hands to get me to stop but that only made me give them some more. This was a workout for them but a night off for me. All I had to do was stand there and watch them all laugh.

That’s the challenge on a show like this. It’s easy to step on your own laughs when they are that responsive and that’s counterproductive. I worked for years perfecting these jokes so why not squeeze every last chuckle I can out of them? I laid them in there and just had to stand still until they stopped laughing and then I’d throw another one out and they’d go nuts all over again. I would make facial expressions or gestures and tried to fan the flames in any way I could. This was just one of those times where EVERYTHING I did worked.

I sold a few cds but not as many as I could have because people were lined up to tell me how funny I was. That’s never a bad thing and I didn’t want to shoo anyone away but I do think I could have sold twice as many if I’d have had a better setup in place. I need to get one quickly because I plan on being out on the road for a while and I’d hate to lose sales.

There was a hot little blondie with a sexy southern accent who had a couple of friends in her party who came up and told me I was the funniest comedian she’s ever seen in her life and that if she didn’t have a no good husband at home I’d be sleeping in her bed tonight. It kind of took me by surprise. Then she reached down and rubbed my lucky charms with her left hand as she kissed me on the cheek and told me I made her forget about her problems.

I know I don’t drink alcohol but I was thankful that she did. Having her jostle my crotch at work is a nice perk. I don’t think very many Walmart greeters have hot blondies do that on the way out of the store. This woman was smoking hot and dressed to the nines and I’ll bet her idiot husband doesn’t have any idea how lucky he is to get to come home to her. It was very frustrating and there was nothing I could do except say thanks and then they left.

The late show wasn’t nearly as full and it was a much younger group but they were also fantastic in their own right. Like those super audiences back in the ‘80s they erupted with laughter and that energy fed off itself and kept going the whole night. They weren’t jaded like many audiences can get today and I could tell they wanted to be entertained. That has a snowball effect because it makes me want to give them all I can in return. They were hot and loved the whole show. I slowed it down and was animated and I found their groove.

Nights like this are what make all the cross country drives and motel rooms worth it. It’s a feeling of intoxication being up there when everything’s going right like it was tonight. A bond of trust develops with an audience and they let me take them where I want. It takes a show to a whole new level and creates a fantastic energy that I never get tired of feeling.

Earlier in the day Dave Glardon and I went into town to get some lunch. Dave has a few years on me and was stationed in Memphis in the military back in the ‘70s. He only started doing comedy four years ago and is getting his feet wet on the road. I try to buy a meal for every feature act I work with just because it’s a good thing to do. It’s become a tradition.

When I started out I had one bought for me by a guy named Tim Cavanagh. He’s one of the nicest people and funniest comedians I’ve ever met. We worked some hell hole and he bought me a meal after the show. I thanked him but he said ‘This is not me buying a meal for you, this is comedy buying a meal for you. When you’re a headliner you need to pass it forward to someone else.’ I’ve always tried to do that and his one meal he bought has now turned into several hundred for other comedians on the way up. I don’t mind though, it’s a proud tradition. I hope I can continue it and have those other comics also pass it forward.

Today we ate at one of my all time favorite restaurants ‘The Rendezvous‘. It’s a rib joint in an alley that’s between two hotels downtown and is pretty famous around the country. I discovered it years ago and every time I’m in Memphis I try to get back there for a rack of ribs. They are very unique in that there is no barbecue sauce on them. They’re served ‘dry’ with a concoction of spices or herbs or whatever they put on them and the flavor explodes from the first bite. Dave had never been there before and he loved it just as much as I did.

We ate like kings and hung out and just enjoyed the comedy life like it’s supposed to be enjoyed. It can get difficult at times and frustrating and makes us all crazy but when we’re in a good town working a good club with good people there is no way to beat it. This is a week like that and I’m enjoying every second of it. It might not be how it was in the boom years everywhere anymore but a week like this sure makes it feel that way. This is fun and I needed some fun right about now. All I have to do now is find 51 more weeks like this to fill out my year and I’ll be all set but I don’t think 51 other hot weeks like this even exist.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Talking In Memphis

Thursday August 23rd, 2007 - Memphis, TN

I was correct in thinking I would have a hard time getting up this morning. I wasn’t able to nod off until about 4:30 and had to be in the lobby at 7:30 to get my ride to the stations to do two radio shows. One of the owners picked me up right on time and off we went.

Stop number one was a show called Drake and Zeke. I’ve been on their show before and I didn’t think I did that well so I was extra careful to try and go with the program. I’m still a little shell shocked from my Bob and Tom fiasco and I get oversensitive sometimes. All I need to do is get in a couple of good lines and say the name of the club as much as I can.

Morning shows that have a strong following are many times an insider’s club. They have their own inside jokes and lingo and it’s difficult for an outsider to fit in unless they let me. It’s my job to find their vibe and try to add to the show while still plugging the club as well and it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes it just doesn’t mesh and I’m out in a couple of minutes. Other times it hits right away and they ask me to stay for the whole show or even come back the next day. Every town and every station is different and it can be delicate.

Drake and Zeke have a strong following and it’s not that they were mean to me last time it just felt to me like I didn’t get into their wheelhouse. I can usually tell when I knocked it out of the park but I wasn’t really sure last time. They’re not uproarious laughers like a lot of shows are and I wasn’t sure if I hit on anything or not. Plus they play the ‘bad boy’ role and with the FCC rules choking that kind of show more and more it’s difficult to tell when and where to stop on a topic. I held it back a few times and then they’d say something way more over the edge than I’d think of going. The worst thing for me to do would be to take it over the edge with content because the club would get in trouble and that would be bad.

I thought today’s show went much better than last time. They both shook my hand when I got there and I felt a good vibe right away. Drake has one of the deepest voices I’ve ever heard, the stereotypical big booming radio guy. If he’s not making big money in voiceover work I’d be shocked. Zeke is very funny and they make a good team. I got to listen a little on the way in and they had a nice flow going today talking about Michael Vick and all that mess so I hopped right in and joined them when I got on and I could tell they went with it.

I knew I did well because after the show the producer shook my hand and had a gigantic smile on his face that said ‘Thank GOD you were funny and didn’t swear.’ I have seen that look before from radio producers and know how sensitive they are with having comedians on the air, especially ones they’ve never heard of. I know I’m not known to them and I am not insulted at all. My job is to go in and win them over and it’s actually a fun challenge.

It’s usually a part of the sales package that an on air appearance of some sort gets added when the station buys advertising. Sometimes the show likes it. Sometimes. I could feel an icy look as the producer looked me over when I walked in the studio. He wasn’t mean but he wasn’t friendly either. After I was done I his wide grin told me that I had surprised him pleasantly and that’s ok in my book. It felt a whole lot better this time and I will be back.

When I used to watch professional wrestling as a kid it was the colorful interviews that were what sold me on seeing the live shows. The same holds true here. It’s all a sales job. I have to go on a morning show and explain who Mr. Lucky is and why a listener on their way to work would want to come out and pay to see me tell jokes at night. NOT easy.

I’m well aware of how important doing good radio is and I try very hard to make a club happy. I will come in a day early to do it or I’ll do several in a day or whatever it takes to make sure the club gets the maximum opportunity to sell as many tickets as they can.

My next stop was at a station I’d never been on before. It was a hot hits station and that usually isn’t my crowd at all. The show is called Karson and Kennedy and they were really great. They made it fun and we taped an interview which will run tomorrow morning so it can be edited if they need to or they can cut it up and make it two segments if they want.

I could feel a good vibe with them and we took off from the start and it was a really fun experience. I kept it light and funny and didn’t get too deep on anything other than trying to get off a few good lines and saying the name of the club as much as I could. Formula.

After the shows I sent everyone an email of thanks for having me on. I know it’s part of the deal with the club buying advertising but I still am thankful for a chance to go on air to promote myself. It only takes a few seconds and I try to do it whenever I can. I got a note back from the producer of the Karson and Kennedy show that said I was the first comic to EVER send a thank you note and that it impressed them all to no end. They liked me as it was but the producer said it blew him away and he asked for my cell number and if I’d be ok with it if they called me once in a while from the road to do a bit. That’s networking.

The rest of the day I mostly rested up for the show tonight. I was tired from all the miles I put on this week and the lack of sleep finally caught up with me. It’s about 100 or more hot soggy degrees and going outside didn’t entice me at all. I slept and did a couple of the crossword puzzles in the USA Today I’ve been saving and just hung out until the Packers preseason game came on national television. I didn’t know it was on and it thrilled me as I flicked around the channels and discovered it. I caught about an hour before I had to be at the club and the first team looked pretty good so I was in a positive mood for the show.

There were only about 20 people in the audience but I didn’t let that get me down at all. It’s a weekday in the summer and I know how comedy is. It’s not personal and I didn’t at all take it that way. I’ve been in this situation hundreds if not thousands of times and I can pull 45 minutes out of my vast experience pile and not even make a dent. I flowed with the audience and followed their lead and took them where I wanted but also let them give me a place to take them. I didn’t force anything and I really felt like I was in charge up there.

All my years of experience on stage and off are coming together. I can feel it without an ounce of doubt. I have paid my dues and am ready for a break. The weekend shows look a lot better and I will give it all I have on stage but I also need to work on getting bookings.

Delayed By The President

Wednesday August 22nd, 2007 - Memphis, TN

It sure didn’t look like 688 miles from Topeka to Memphis on my map but that’s exactly what it was. Maybe I should have used but if I did I might have not taken a gig all the way out in Topeka in the first place. I really need to check more carefully before I say yes from now on. It was an all day haul to get to Memphis and when I pulled in right before midnight I was tired, sweaty and wishing I would have popped for a plane ticket.

Coming out of Topeka I headed to Kansas City where traffic was a total nightmare. The freeways were all backed up in every direction and the whole town was a big parking lot. I couldn’t figure out why. There was construction but it shouldn’t have been that backed up so I got off the freeway to have some lunch and find a way out of town. I stopped to get a plate of barbecue since I was in Kansas City and found out the reason for the delay. It was because President Bush was in town making a speech today. Sure he was. Mr. Lucky is in traffic hell because of the President being in town. Hilarious. I’ll have to keep that premise and expand on it. Also, it was funny to get directions from the owner of the barbecue joint because he must have had me going in six different directions and each time he kept saying ‘No, no WAIT! This way is better…’ and then he’d send me a totally different direction.

It was good that I hadn’t been out on the road in a while because I have some gas in my own personal tank but it was also not good because I wasn’t used to the long drives as if I had built up my tolerance. It’s an endurance test and I am out of shape so I felt every mile. Good thing I had the Lucinda Bassett tape series from Max to keep me company today. It helped me get through the day and it really is something I needed to hear right about now.

Her basic message is that depression and anxiety can be lessened by doing several things such as changing diet and exercising more and also by focusing on positive things. Again it isn’t anything I haven’t heard before but hearing it again is never a bad thing. Whether it’s ‘The Secret’ or Tony Robbins or Wayne Dyer or Norman Vincent Peale or this tape series the message is basically the same - what one programs into the mind produces the results.
I have been really out of the groove lately and this is helping to bring me back. I loved to hear about the stories of others who succeeded and that’s always encouraging to know the fact that I’m not alone. Depression can be brutal and when it hits it feels like I’m isolated.

It doesn’t help that feeling to have to make 688 mile drives to get to work. Today it was fine but there are times when I’m on some lonely highway somewhere trying to make it to the next gig when I feel like I’m the only human on earth. Even UFOs won’t abduct me. It can be very overwhelming and this tape series talks about that. I really felt it talking to me.

Filling my head with positive things like this can only help me to keep going and defeat the darkness that surrounds us all. It’s easy to get into bad habits and it takes effort to change.
For right now I’m on a good path. I’ve got club work this week and next and I love the people I’m working for both weeks. Memphis will be fun. I have to be up early to do radio in the morning but I don’t feel like sleeping right now. I’m sure I’ll pay for that tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Turnaround In Topeka

Tuesday August 21st, 2007 - Topeka, KS

BIG breakthrough today. I stopped at Max’s house in Petersburg, IL to personally wish his son Dustin a happy birthday. I’ve known Dustin for several years now and he’s a super kid. Max is a great dad and it’s fun to see him grow up the right way. Today he turned 12.

That was the age when things started to fall apart for me because my grandparents got a divorce and it was very ugly. I was right in the middle of the war and it wasn’t a lot of fun. On second thought, it wasn’t ANY fun. Twelve is an age for having fun, not hating life.

Dustin and his sister Skylar had a couple of friends over and they lit up when I walked in the door. It never gets old to have somebody glad to see me and I handed him his birthday card with $12 in it and he loved it. A buck a year might be cheap these days but that’s how much I could give and I could tell he was just glad that I remembered it was his birthday.

I told him I would buy him lunch or anything he wanted to do but today was his first day of school and he already ate. He said he wanted to play a game of basketball so I said sure. It was Max and the boys against me and the girls and of course we got clobbered but they didn’t care and we all had a lot of laughs for about a half an hour. It was just good old fun and I would have LOVED to have my dad and his friend play basketball with me and mine on my twelfth birthday. I would have loved it on ANY birthday but I’ll never get it now so if Dustin could have it I’m thrilled to be part of it. Whether he remembers me or not isn’t a real issue. It’s that he and his dad got to be on the same team and play that game together. It will be a lifetime memory that he’ll never forget and it will always come back pleasant.

While we were playing basketball Max’s cell phone rang and he stopped to take the call. It was his wife telling him that her father was dying and might not make it through the day. Max didn’t tell me until after the game that that’s what the call was about as he didn’t feel he needed to ruin Dustin’s birthday like that. That’s his grandfather and the reason Max is living in the area is this is where his wife is from and he wanted his kids to be near so they could know their grandparents and have pleasant memories. His grandfather has been sick for a while with cancer and now it’s nearing the end. Max is planting some good seeds for both his kids and he sat and talked with me about all of it after the game was over. We had a very deep conversation about a lot of things but mostly about not getting the Loop job.

Max really wanted it just like I did. We both know we would have rocked that job but it didn’t go our way and there’s nothing we can do about it. Could it change? I guess so but we are both forced to make plans for the immediate future. Max is getting socked with his ice cream business because of bad weather and he’s working hard doing his radio show for the classic rock station in Springfield and selling air time too. He’s got a very full schedule and he can’t be farting around waiting for the Loop to call us and neither can I right now.

He is one of the few people I can really relate to and he feels the same about me. We sat in his living room for an hour just talking about life and what we should do and I knew I’d better get going soon but I also knew that Max and I both needed the time to talk this out.

I finally had to leave and I knew I’d cut it way short but I’d been to Topeka before so I knew it wasn’t a career maker. Hanging out with Max was a lot more important, at least today. Before I left Max gave me his copy of the Lucinda Bassett tape series about getting over anxiety and depression that are frequently advertised on TV and radio. I’ve heard the ads and thought about getting them but I never did for whatever reason. Maybe it was that I didn’t believe a tape series could help my deep seeded problems or maybe I thought they would be too expensive but for whatever reason I never did make the call to order them.

Max said he thought I’d get a lot out of them and I popped one in as I got back on I-55. It was like they were made especially for me and I popped one in after the next as I drove south toward St. Louis and then west toward Kansas City. She suffered from anxiety and rather than let it defeat her she did something about it and started this whole program. I’m very grateful to Max for letting me borrow it and it’s having a similar affect on me as back when I watched ‘The Secret’ for the first time. It pushed a lot of major buttons in my skull and I knew it was the right thing to hear as I was hearing it. This one hit me the same way.

No book or tape or speaker is going to ‘cure’ me of my depression and wacked head. I know that and it would be stupid to think anyone but ME is going to be the difference but it sure does feel good to know that other people are struggling with the same demons as I am and that they have had success in overcoming them. It’s an ongoing process that takes a constant focus but it can be improved and together with the help of the books and tapes and positive people there can indeed be major improvement and that really got me going.

Last night Tom Dreesen had some great points in his presentation too and together with the tapes I heard today I really enjoyed my 543 mile drive in the hot sun. I knew that I had a very narrow time window to make the show but I really thought it was important to stay and visit with Max and especially hang with Dustin on his birthday. I listened to that inner voice and that’s what I thought was best. As I got closer to Topeka I knew I’d cut it very close but instead of getting upset and angry and frustrated I just focused on me being there on stage and having a killer show and at the end hearing a huge ovation and getting paid.

The tapes talked a lot about visualizing the good rather than focusing on the bad or what the PERCEIVED bad will be when it hasn’t in reality even happened yet and may never at all. Rather than think of how angry the club owner would be I thought of how glad they all would be to see me and how I would go up and make it more than worth the wait for me.

I forced myself to focus on only that and I must admit it wasn’t easy. I pulled into the lot fifty minutes after show time and parked in a handicapped space because that’s all that was available and I sprinted into the club and the manager said ‘YOU would be the comedian.’

He wasn’t angry at all and said he was concerned but not worried and that I should relax and just get ready to go up and do my best. That was WAY cool of him and that’s exactly what happened. I tore the roof off the place tonight and people lined up to say how funny I was and it felt WONDERFUL. I’m not saying I’m at all ‘cured’ and out of the woods or anything like that but I’m marking this day as a very important key to my future success.

Meeting Tom Dreesen

Monday August 20th, 2007 - Chicago, IL/Bloomington, IL

Back on the road again. I’ve been taking much of the summer off from any kind of hard road schedule and mainly working stuff in and around the Chicago area. It was nice to get to take some time off but now I need to get back out there. The radio job isn’t going to be an issue and I have a wide open schedule so I hope to fill it with quality work in fun places for good money. That’s the goal, and I don’t see any reason I can’t achieve it. I’m ready.

Tonight at Zanies I got a chance to meet Tom Dreesen. He is someone I’ve heard about for many years and never met. He’s originally from the Chicago area and has appeared on The Tonight Show 61 times. He has been on TV over 500 times and was also the opening act for Frank Sinatra for many years. He also was the partner of Tim Reid who was Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati. They had the first black/white comedy team which I think is a great gimmick. He said they were the first but I think another one could work again.

I’d seen Tom many times on the Tonight Show back in the 70s when I started watching regularly. The comedians were always my favorite and now getting a chance to meet many of them is a real thrill. I’ve met and/or worked with several guys from that era like Johnny Dark and Bobby Kelton and Kelly Monteith and Kip Addotta and David Sayh and George Miller and Jimmie Walker and Avery Schreiber and even George Carlin and Robert Klein.

Tom Dreesen was one of those guys too and meeting him in person was a definite thrill. I know some of the names I mentioned aren’t huge stars but they were the people I saw at the age when I had no idea what I wanted to do and they showed me that it was actually a possibility to make a living by making people laugh. To me all these guys are true heroes. I never get tired of meeting comedians I’ve admired and we always hit it off immediately.

I didn’t get a chance to visit with Tom or get to know him because he was in town to do a motivational speech at Zanies. He has done them for young comedians and I have always wanted to attend one but for whatever reason I was never in town when he did one. I got a chance to see it tonight and he is now expanding it and making it more for the public and that’s probably very smart. He’s got great stories and a lifetime of stage experience and he will probably get booked in corporate venues just with the credit of opening for Sinatra.

There wasn’t a seat available at Zanies when I got there and Tom was just getting ready to go on. He was in the back of the club as I walked in and I got introduced by Bert Haas who is the General Manager. It meant something for Bert to introduce me as someone that is a comic and also teaches classes and Tom’s eyes lit up when he heard that. He was very nice and very classy and I learned a lot by just the way he carried himself. He’s a winner.

I hope to get to meet him again and spend some time talking. I hear he’s great to comics and I try to be that way myself. I respect Tom a lot and was glad I got to meet him and get to see his presentation too. After that I hosted the showcase show and that was fun also. It was a full night and then I fired up the Cougar and drove to Bloomington and got a Motel 6 so it wouldn’t be such a long drive to Topeka tomorrow. I’m glad to be back out again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Soaked In Saugatuck

Sunday August 19th, 2007 - Saugatuck, MI/Lake Villa, IL

If I lived in the south I believe they’d call this a ‘gully washer’. It’s been nonstop raining for the last couple of days and there is no end in sight. Flash floods are happening near me and there are trees down and sewers backing up and it’s a big mess. There is even a bit of backup in the basement apartment where I’m staying and some of my stuff got soaked. It’s a good thing I got rid of a lot of stuff because I don’t have to worry about flooding but the stuff that did get wet was some one of a kind autographed pictures and letters I had and I feel horrible about losing them. It happened once before when I lived in Utah and I lost all of my celebrity autographs I wrote for over the years. I had people like George Burns and Bob Hope and Charles Schultz and a few other big celebrities that had died. I’ll never have a chance to replace any of those and it really hurt when it happened. This hurt a little too.

I lost stuff that had sentimental value but it got soaked and saving it would just make me think about the damage so I looked at it one last time and tossed it out. Some of it was all the stuff I saved from my road trips over the years. I saved fliers and postcards of places I visited and had a nice collection of stuff from all over America. I have the memories but it still feels sad to have to chuck some of the doo dads and souvenirs I saved. I worked hard to accumulate them but that’s life. I’d rather have a clear memory than a damaged flyer.

I was supposed to go to my friend Dennis Ross’s wedding in New York but that wasn’t going to happen with the weather like it is. I feel bad about it because I was invited and do like to show up if I said I would but with the bad weather I couldn’t have driven there and not had delays. Traffic was brutal everywhere and I ended up taking a last minute gig over in Saugatuck, MI just because I need the money. That was a hard enough drive as it was.

Saugatuck is a resort town right on Lake Michigan. There are lots of boats and even lots more money up here and they have comedy shows in the summer. I have done shows here in the past but not for a few years. It just didn’t work out with my schedule and that’s fine with me. It’s not really a comedy starved area but any money on a Sunday night is gravy.

I sat down to wait for the show to start and in walked one of my ex students who was a complete hemorrhoid about wanting a refund because he dropped out and didn’t finish the graduation part of his class. My name wasn’t on the flyer because I was a last minute fill in and he looked quite shocked to see me. I was pretty surprised to see him too. Of ALL the people to run across in a tiny town on a Sunday night for a fill in show it was him. I’m not even going to attempt to figure out the odds but it has to be astronomical. I had a very hot show. I could tell because when I came off stage he was gone. That’s how I know. If I did not he’d be there to rub it in. Still, the odds of him even being there at all were enormous.

He really was a prickly thorn in our side for weeks. I tried every way I could think of to make it right but he just had his mind made up he wasn’t going to be satisfied. I wanted to really let him have it but I chose not to and kept as professional as I could. I never thought I’d see him again so this was actually a very funny joke from the universe. When I saw him walk in I laughed out loud. I had to. If nothing else it sure does help to keep me humble.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How 'Bout Dem Packers?

Saturday August 18th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

How out of whack is my world? I don’t have a gig tonight, I don’t have a date tonight, the weather is absolutely horrible and has been all day long…but I’m in a fantastic mood. Why? Because the Green Bay Packers won a preseason football game 48-13 tonight. I’m pathetic and I know it but it feels SO good so I’ll just enjoy it and worry about life later.

It’s not even a real game. It’s only preseason and doesn’t count for anything other than I can feel good about being alive for a day. It’s crazy and I know it but it does make me feel something good deep inside and I wish it didn’t. I need help. I think I’m a Packer-holic. It is euphoric when they win and it kills me when they lose. I’m not even a gambler. I am not a fantasy player either. I just feel satisfied inside whenever the Packers win and it’s stupid.

You may agree I’m an idiot but I’m not the only one. There are MILLIONS of others all over the world who also suffer from my disease. Packer fans are everywhere and in all my years of traveling America I have never ever had a problem finding a Packer bar anywhere to go see a game on TV. When I get there it’s full of green jerseys and there’s usually beer flowing and bratwurst cooking and I feel like I’m back in Wisconsin no matter where I am.

I have made fun of those morons who live and die with the Packers score but deep down inside I have to admit I’m one of them. My grandfather had the disease and passed it down to me and I’ve been suffering with it my whole life. He died of cancer and was in a hospice the last few weeks of his life and there happened to be a Packer game on TV right near the end. He only had a few days left and we were there watching a game together for our final time. We both knew he was going to die soon but the Packers destroyed New Orleans 35-7 in a blowout like tonight and he had the last big smile on his face I ever saw him have.

That’s the power of sports and it’s scary. It affects something way deep inside us. There is an ‘us vs. them’ tribal need in all of us and a need to compete and win. This is what is in the soccer hooligans who kill each other in Europe and also what’s in the terrorists over in the Middle East. Palestine vs. Israel is just a more violent version of Packers vs. Bears. It’s a deep inner human need to pick a team and be loyal to it and want to win and be the best.

I wish I could get rid of it but I admit that I’m hooked. I’ve tried everything but I still do care if they win and probably always will. I don’t always watch the games anymore but I’ll catch a final score and go over all the statistics. I am geeky enough to watch the NFL draft on TV and I look forward to it even. I think shooting heroin would be an easier addiction.

That being said, for one day I am on top of the world. I am not in a funk today and I will build on this good vibe to get ready to go on the road again and start the comedy grind for the umpteen thousandth time. I got the oil changed on both cars and have clean laundry to last me for a few weeks and I’m back out on the comedy trail. I have a gig tomorrow over in Michigan and also a Chicago Style Standups meeting to see what’s going on there. I am aching to get back in the groove again and I know my act is getting stronger than ever. I’ll see if I can parlay it into more than just some gigs in Michigan and Topeka and Memphis.

Elvis Is Still In The Building

Friday August 17th, 2007 - Milwaukee, WI

Tonight was the Tom Green Memorial Elvis show at Serb Hall in Milwaukee. It was the last place on earth I wanted to be on one hand but I wouldn’t miss it for anything on Earth on the other. Tom and I were good friends for probably twenty years and he did these kind of shows in August on the anniversary of Elvis’s death and in January on Elvis’s birthday.

He would get several other Elvis impersonators and along with his band have a big show and they were always a blast. He liked to have me on the shows because I could open with a few minutes of comedy but I’m a strong emcee and would bring everyone up with a very solid intro and really get the crowd into it. My years of ring announcing for pro wrestling came in handy after all. It was a perfect fit for the Elvis shows and it became a regular gig.

He started doing them back in the 80s and I had a standing invitation to show up both in August and January for the two big shows he’d do every year. We also did some shows in Madison over the years but the Serb Hall shows were always the big events. The joint was always packed to the rafters and I’d wear a tuxedo and feel like a big star for one night.

I didn’t even start out as a particularly big Elvis fan at first but Tom was such a fantastic entertainer that I have morphed into one over the years. Tom had ‘it’. He happened to do an Elvis show but he had huge talent and was just an all around entertainer. He would get the crowd going and give them everything he had which was a lot. His voice was amazing. He used to sing the national anthem at Packer games and hockey games and he even did it for me when I ran pro wrestling shows in the 90s. Tom was a true class act. I miss him.

The last place I wanted to be was at Serb Hall without him there. His death was very sad and very shocking because he was sick and didn’t tell anybody. We were all shocked at the news and this was the first big show after he passed and nobody was looking forward to it but those who knew Tom knew that he would have wanted this to be a big giant blow out.

I opened the show so it was my responsibility to set the tone for the night. I didn’t want to turn this into a downer so I explained that we were here to celebrate Tom’s life which is true. I told them Tom would have wanted it to be a happy night which is also true. I didn’t want to take away from the other guys who came out to perform but this was Tom’s night and that was a fine line to walk. The band was there and they sounded great as usual and it really was a hot show. The audience loved it as they always do and it was a beautiful night of tribute to a good friend to many. Tom would have been proud and it wasn’t sad at all.

No matter how low my life gets at times or how much I feel out of place I always have a place in this little subculture in Milwaukee. It’s two days a year but for those two days I’m in the family. Me and a bunch of Elvises. Or is it Elvi? We’ll all go about our business and then in January it will be time to do it again. Tom used to pay me for my time but tonight I donated it all to the cancer society in his name and will continue to do that as long as these shows keep running. I hope they do. For a night we all feel like big stars and everyone that is involved in these shows could not be any nicer. This is something I will always enjoy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A-OK With The IRS

Thursday August 16th, 2007 - South Elgin, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Another day of survival in the jungle. I knocked out a bunch of emails to try and shrink my load of 256 I need to answer down to a manageable number. They pile up quickly and I try to keep up but if I get a little behind it adds up in a hurry. Next thing I know I’m 256 behind and that gets to be a little much. I try to answer them personally and thoroughly so it took a couple of hours but I did get the magic number down to 164. Still a ways off but at least I put a dent in it and it made me feel like I accomplished at least a little something.

My accountant called and told me my tax return was finished. I dropped it off a few days ago and he said he’d get to it ASAP and it was faster than I thought. I did file an extension on April 15th and technically it wasn’t due until October 15th but I’m glad to get it done for another year. There’s no real reason I shouldn’t have had it finished way before April 15th but I didn’t get to it and it really isn’t a big deal. But to me it is just because I don’t like to have unfinished business if I can help it and I’m glad it’s over with. I owe $33 to the state of Illinois and will get back a few bucks from my federal return so at least I’m not in debt. I still have to resolve the issue with the state of Utah who claims I owe taxes on $10,000 I didn’t report in 2003 but that’s not correct. My accountant knows it’s a mistake and said I shouldn’t worry but I know how my luck goes. Prison time in Utah doesn‘t interest me.

I’m not working nearly as much as I did last year and am keeping better records so I will hopefully be able to knock out my taxes earlier than ever next year. I plan on getting it out of the way before my birthday in March. I don’t need to have any more tax hassles and if it should happen that I do get a windfall anywhere down the line I don’t want to be in a spot so many other entertainers get themselves into and not be smart about it. I will be ready.

Now it’s a matter of finding a way to get that windfall. Tonight’s gig wasn’t the answer. I did a show in a dance club in South Elgin, IL. I took the gig because I cancelled my full week in Lansing, MI this week so I could host the Tom Green Elvis memorial show up at Serb Hall in Milwaukee tomorrow night. The booker had this one nighter available and he offered it to me so I could at least make something for the week so I took it. Big mistake.

It’s a night club and not set up for comedy. There is no stage and the lights that pointed at the stage area were disco lights and not very bright at that and it was a complete mess. I could tell this wasn’t going to be fun but I showed up and the smart thing to do was to get paid and leave. I watched the opening act Brian Hicks go up and struggle for 30 minutes. I like Brian and he’s very funny but nobody was listening and he was talking to the furniture for a half hour. To his credit he did his time and brought me up to do 50 fabulous minutes.

This is the time when comedy is VERY difficult. They were chatty and not listening so it was stupid for me to be there but if I walked I wouldn’t get paid so I just stood there for a full fifty minutes and recited and rehearsed my act. Was it fun? NO WAY. Did I pull it off? Yes, I sure did. Now I know what a stripper feels like and I would have rather showed my giblets than have to stand up there with nobody listening but I tuned them out and finished my time and got my money and drove home. That radio job now seems light years away.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NO Loop For You

Wednesday August 15th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

Two more dents in my can today. The first was another trip to the dentist to get a crown installed. I had the temporary one in there until this one was ready and today was the day. Of course it was difficult to put in and I was gagging as the dentist and his assistant put all kinds of hardware in my mouth and then put the crown in and took it out and put it in until they ground it down to make it fit. Then he ground my upper teeth to make it fit and that’s never fun. It wasn’t supposed to hurt but a couple of times he hit some kind of nerves that I sure did feel and it was an unpleasant experience all around. I had to pay $918 for all this fun and I must say a weekend in the Wisconsin Dells with a Swedish bikini babe would be a much more enjoyable way to spend that kind of jack but too late. I gave him the check.

Then I came home to a curt email from The Loop saying we are not getting the job. The guy who’s now the acting program director was the assistant when we worked there and it took a long time to get back to us. He was on vacation last week and to make us wait that long to give us a ‘see ya later’ email wasn’t very cool in my opinion. Max thought so too.

The truth is we’d have been perfect for that job. We would have gone in there and nailed it for a lot less money than anyone else with our ability and chemistry would have cost and we would have both poured our heart and soul into it every single day. We had a job there before and we were starting to shine and that’s when they pulled the plug. The new people took over on December 1st and we were vaporized by December 16th. Merry Christmas!!!

Max and I had a long talk on the phone and tried to cheer each other up. He and I are on the same page in being dented cans. His childhood has followed him just as mine has and it doesn’t let us have a ‘normal’ life, whatever that is. My grandmother was a dented can too and I still remember her telling me ‘the dark cloud NEVER leaves.’ She was almost 90 by then and that just about made me take a bullet right there. It chilled me when she said that and it still does today. Especially today. This is the kind of stuff that sends people into that ugly tailspin. It’s never fun to get rejected but for a dented can it’s worse. It’s personal.

Today happened to be one of my ‘bullet proof’ days and it didn’t affect me at all when I read the email. I looked at it and hit delete and looked at the rest of my mail. I have fallen way behind on emails and have 265 to answer and that will be a big project. I read some of them today and many were from people asking me for something like students wanting my advice or comedians wanting me to put in a word for them at clubs I work at or just those that want my time in some way or another. I have always been a favor giver but when I am in need nobody seems to be around to help me in return. I sure do feel that way now and it doesn’t feel good. Who do I complain to? Nobody really cares and I don’t expect them to.

I put out my monthly newsletter on the 13th and wasn’t very upbeat this month. I usually try to be positive and say what’s going on but this is a rough time for me and I told it like I saw it and I received quite a few responses of all kinds from many people. Most tried to be positive and tell me things like ’hang in there’ and ’it’ll get better’ and all that meaningless tripe that they don’t even believe. Most people don’t know what this kind of life really is.

One person sent me a damn written out song parody about Karl Rove or something and said ’Cheer up! People are dying in collapsing bridge accidents. It’s not so bad.’ I wanted to personally take that guy up to Minnesota and have him dive for cadavers. Or be one. It is true that people are suffering and I am aware of that but when I get into a funk none of that matters. Everything seems to be far away and it comes over like a deep dark ugly fog.

The reason I am writing about this is that I know I’m not the only one going through it. Max can TOTALLY relate to it as can a few others I know. I am sad they can relate to it but they can and we can have good conversations about it and at least address our issues.

I am going on record as saying I am very disillusioned with how life works and how my journey is going. I did not ask to be born and I have tried as hard as I can to be a good and productive person despite my inner turmoil and wackery. Other people have used theirs as an excuse to drink or do drugs or give up and be a bum but I have tried to overcome mine and defy the odds. The more I try to do right the more things seem to go totally wrong. It gets very old after a while and one of these days I just might flip out one way or another.

Constant pressure is a very tiring process. Having to consistently worry about where I’m going to find work or pay rent or keep my car running or manage whatever crisis situation pops up (at of course the most inopportune time) is draining on the psyche and the body. I can see why some people walk into a school or post office and wipe out everyone in sight.

I don’t think I could do that but I sure can relate to the feeling of hopelessness at times. If I did snap I surely wouldn’t shoot innocent people though. There are way too many that deserve it to randomly waste bullets on the public. Take some time, do your homework. It is an insane world and looking around I still can’t figure out why it all has to be this way.

This again brings me back to the God issue. This can’t be the best there is in this galaxy. I have to believe Earth is the county fair of the cosmos and the only reason aliens ever visit is to be entertained by our total insanity or guess our weight. God must have a lot of other planets where the inhabitants are a lot more together than we are here. This planet is just a little side project like a Camaro on blocks in the yard. He’ll get to us when He has time.

But for now this is where I live and I don’t have a choice. Well, I do I guess but what if I go to the next world and it’s worse than this one? I am at a very low point right now but it isn’t painful today. I’ve been here before and I can handle it. My tooth is hurting me more than not getting the Loop gig. It would have been NICE. Lots of things would be NICE. I have not had a lot of nice in my life and at this point yet another kick doesn’t even hurt.

I will be able to scrape by and make a living doing comedy. I’ve done it for twenty years and I can do it a little while longer. It’s just that now it’s not as fun as it once was. It’s not the same thrill of the kill it used to be. Now it’s a chore going back to the same places I’ve been to before. I know it could be worse and I am aware that people died in Minnesota. It still doesn’t change the fact that I am in a tough spot in my own life and I want to play this out so it has a happy ending. That’s why I write a diary. I hope it inspires someone else.

Brewers And Birthdays

Tuesday August 14th 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

Tonight was the 25th anniversary reunion of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers World Series team up at Miller Park in Milwaukee. I wanted to be there live in person because I lived in Milwaukee then and it really was a special year. The stadium was sold out but I did get to listen to some of it on the radio. It took me way back to life twenty five years in the past.

I graduated high school in 1981 and I hadn’t started comedy yet at that time. I was still a baseball player myself and hoped to get a shot to play professionally. I was 19 and all over the place and didn’t have an idea what life would be. The Brewers were the talk of the city and it was a team with all kinds of characters on it that just fit the town’s personality. I’d love to be a part of something that people would still be excited about 25 years from now.

Sports touches people in so many ways more than just the game. That was a completely different time and era in my life and I can go back there immediately just by hearing names of players like Cecil Cooper and Ted Simmons and Eddie Romero and Don Money and all the rest. I have to admit that it sent chills down my spine just hearing it on the radio. If I’d have been there in person I bet I would have cried like a baby. It’s really that emotional for some reason I can’t explain. Am I losing my edge or getting to be a sentimental geezer in my old age? Who knows, but today I focused on good people the whole day. I love that.

I’m not an authority on astrology but I have to believe that this is a special day in zodiac history. I know four people who happened to have a birthday today and every one of them is one of the sweetest most generous and gentle souls I know. It’s amazing how all four of them could have a birthday on the same day. I looked in my Chase’s book of events I used to use when I was on the radio to see which celebrities were born today and saw that there was of note Halle Berry, Steve Martin and Antonio Fargas who played the role of Huggy Bear on Starsky and Hutch back in the 70s. I don‘t know if any of those people are as nice as the four that I know though. These people are just the cream of the crop and I mean it.

One of them is a former student named Donna Lappert. She lives in Wheaton and is very religious and you’d never think she’d like comedy much less perform it. She looks like she would play June Cleaver’s stunt double but she’s a wonderful soul and very funny and tells everyone she meets how good a teacher I am. It’s people like her that cause me to keep on teaching the classes. I sure don’t make a ton of money. I do it mostly for the satisfaction.

James Wesley Jackson is another one. He was the opener for George Clinton for years. I knew George had a comedian open for him because I’m a huge fan and when I finally met James I really liked him and still do. Working with him in Chicago Style Standups is a real treat. He’s very laid back and spiritual and just a quality person all around. So are both of the other two. Joey Callahan is a comedian from Philadelphia I met years ago through my contact with Gene Perret. Gene was Bob Hope’s head writer for years and he too is from Philadelphia originally. Joey and I became friends and stayed that way and we have a huge bond because we’re both left handed. We’re wired differently and understand each other.

Kate Brindle is the fourth one. She is also a comedian from Ann Arbor, MI and is about as opposite as anyone can be from me. She is a vegetarian or vegan or something that isn’t in my foreseeable future that starts with a ‘V’. She is into all kinds of animal rights causes and is very P.C. and is very liberal in her politics but I respect her because she really lives a life she preaches and she doesn’t try to recruit everyone to her causes. I worked with her a few years ago and her sweetness radiates from across the room. She’s kind of like if Mary Tyler Moore did standup comedy. Who could heckle someone like that? She’s absolutely wonderful and maybe we get along so well because we’re so opposite but whenever I see her on my caller ID it makes me feel good. All four of them do. I am not always a butterfly of political correctness or social interaction and I tend to think there is an overabundance of stupidity and greedy selfish people scaling the earth but people like these give me hope.

Another person I think the world of is my friend Marc Schultz. He’s a booker but we’re friends first. If he never booked me again I would still hang out with him and that does say a lot. I’ve learned to tolerate most bookers but not hang out with them as friends. It’s rare and there’s probably a reason for it. Most performers and bookers are different in that they both have a different ideal. Performers want to perform and bookers are looking to fill the hole and make a buck. Marc is a real person first and I try to be that way too. We agree on the fact that the show is bought by the customer and they are the ones who call the shots.

Marc called me a few weeks ago and wanted to meet a comedian named Dan St. Paul in person. Dan is part of a group called ‘Standup Dads’ which is a great idea. It’s kind of like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with four guys who are all fathers. Fantastic gimmick. Marc is hoping to sell them to theatre shows along with Chicago Style Standups and he’s talked to Dan on the phone but never met him. I know Dan because he hosted some of the shows at the San Francisco Comedy Competition when I was in it in 2003. He happens to be here in Chicago performing at a Zanies so Marc asked if I wanted to go and catch his show.

Going to see comedy on a comedian’s day off is about as appealing as having diarrhea in a space suit but Dan St. Paul is different. He’s been doing it for probably 25 years and he’s a true pro. He’s got lots of well written original JOKES and he delivers them for forty five minutes. That should be what every headliner does but it’s far from the case. Watching all the comedy I have in my life the good ones stand out. It’s like being an NFL quarterback. The experienced ones stand out and nothing except actual experience will substitute for it.

Marc and I watched Dan’s set and I was laughing out loud which is also hard to do as a comedian. He’s just a pro and makes me laugh and his stuff is smart and original. He has a bit about a baseball game with heaven vs. hell announced by Harry Caray that lays me out. I heard it on the radio years ago and loved it then and when he did it tonight I exploded.

These are the kinds of craftsmen I respect. He is making a living and his family probably won’t be starving any time soon but unfortunately Dan St. Paul is not a household name. I think guys like him and Tim Walkoe and Dwayne Kennedy and Larry Reeb and a bunch of other people who are out there in the trenches just like I am should be more known but we are all just making a living. I have to believe it’s like that in music and acting and all of the creative arts. The famous ones aren’t always the best ones and that’s just how it works.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Little Green Book

Monday August 13th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

Back to basics today. Everything around me is in turmoil and every part of my life is out of whack. I’ve been this way before but the older I get the more it bothers me. I am trying to get in sync with the universe and when I’m not there it can be overwhelming at times. It feels like I’m trying to find the end of the fresh toilet paper roll and I can’t and it bugs me.

I tried to do some little things to get back on course. Trying to fix everything in a day is a sure recipe for failure and that would make me feel even worse. There is a pile of papers I’ve allowed to get bigger than it should in my room. Some of it is receipts and other stuff like comedy notes and old newspaper articles and who knows what. It’s not out of control but it could easily get there so I focused all my energy on just getting that pile sorted out.

It took about an hour to do it but I felt a lot better. I threw much of it out and put all the rest of the things in order and as I was doing it I found an uncashed check for $200 from a gig I did back in May up in Door County, WI. If there was ever a time in life when I could use an extra couple of Franklins it’s now. I don’t know how I overlooked it but I did. This will come in handy in paying my dental bills and gives me another reason to get organized.

There are a lot of things coming at me in a lot of directions and I let things pile up. I was meaning to get at that pile but it just kept getting bigger and bigger. I am glad I decided to tackle it today because it made me feel like I accomplished something. Plus it was an extra two hundred bucks. But I didn’t stop there. I also had some papers piled up in boxes from my move and started to go through those too. Much of that was stuff I’ve compiled over a period of many years and ranges anywhere from radio bit ideas to comedy articles to cards and letters I’ve saved from the mail. I even found my Passport and other odd ball papers.

One of the oddest things I’d forgotten I even had was a copy of Jeffrey Dahmer’s police report. Back in the day that was a hot item because nobody could get it. I was working on the radio in Milwaukee back then and we had a guest on the morning show who had given us a copy. Soon after the police department put a freeze on it and nobody could get one so I started selling it for as much as $15. I took out ads in True Detective magazines and lots of people called me a ghoul but I did make a few bucks when it was all over. It was nuts.

People are ghouls and want to see stuff like that. I even copied it on blood red paper for effect and also so they couldn’t just make copies and do it themselves. For years I had lots of people ask me if I still had those and once in a while I’ll get a request for it even today.

This isn’t what’s going to put me over the top though. All these years I’ve had my little schemes and ideas like this and while they’ve been fun and interesting I haven’t found my niche yet. I’m still searching and that’s what troubles me. I thought I’d have found it long ago. Ray Kroc didn’t start his first McDonald’s until he was 52 so I guess I’ve got time. I need to find my McDonald’s pretty soon. Drifting around like a stray dog looking for my next bone all the time isn’t what I need to be doing right now. But what do I do? I have a unique situation in that I have a lot of interests and could hit on any of them at any time.

I just wish I had a clue as to which thing to focus on. There are no guarantees and that’s what is driving me crazy at the moment. If I knew I could count on the radio job to come through I’d do that. I would pour everything I have into it and make it my main priority. It would be a good home base in many ways and I could still get back to comedy eventually.

But when standup comedy appears to be ’stable’, I know radio isn’t my main career. It’s a definite long shot and I knew that going in. I just wish we’d hear SOMETHING so we’ll be able to move on one way or another. Max has a family and businesses down where he’s living in Springfield and he has to make plans in his life too. It’s getting to be a time issue.

I didn’t want to think too much about it so as not to feel even more overwhelmed than I already do. I can only work one day at a time and I wanted to make today a building block to start getting me where I want to go. Sorting all my paperwork was a really good start. I didn’t want to stop there so I asked myself what the next thing I could do today to get my positive energy started again and I decided to sort out all the books I want to read soon.

I’ve bought some in the last few weeks and rather than let them sit I really do want to be making a dent in reading them. I’ve been good in the last few weeks but still have a pile of things to get to. If I didn’t buy another book for a year I’d have more than enough to read.

That still wasn’t enough though. I sat and thought what would be the best thing to do to get my mind started in the right direction and I got out a composition notebook I bought a while back with a green cover and decided to make that my list of money making projects. I have so many ideas and half baked schemes that I will in all likelihood never get to every one of them. Rather than continue to be frustrated I sat down and made a list of projects I have been thinking about or meaning to do or dreaming about and listed them in an order of the degree of difficulty I can see in getting them done. That took two hours to lay out.

Putting them down on paper was very productive. I sat there and thought of what I need to do for each one and which ones were more important and it helped me put my priorities in order as to what’s realistic. I know I can get more products to sell but only if I get them finished. It’s easy to have a half baked idea in my head but getting it completed is a totally different story. At least I am starting to make a physical list of things to turn into reality.

Wayne Dyer talks about the power of intention. If the mind actually focuses on a thing it can be turned from an idea into a reality and that’s what I started today. He talked about if he was thinking of a new project he’d make up a cover with the title of his book and wrap it around a different book and look at it every day until the new one was completed. I like that idea and I have some blank CD jewel cases and can start doing that with my stuff too.

I feel like I’m starting out all over again but in many ways that’s exactly what I’m doing. Getting my head straight and making a plan is the first order of business. Today was a big step in doing that but I still have a long way to go. I have so many things going and don’t have a clear picture of where my life is going right now but that should change in the next 30 days or less. Either I’ll be on the radio in Chicago or back doing comedy on the road.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Which Way Is Up?

Sunday August 12th, 2007 - Lake Villa, IL

Not a fun day today. I am in a rut and could use a shot in the arm from somewhere. I am starting to drift through life yet again and I don’t like that feeling. I am trying to stay on an upbeat path but I’m finding it very difficult. Everything around me is in disarray and I have nothing solid to focus on in the immediate future so everything feels like it’s up in flames.

My cousin up in Stevens Point emailed to ask me if I was coming up for Thanksgiving. I missed last year and she and my cousin Brett are about the only family I have to be with at holiday times. I like her and her husband and daughter very much but holidays are not very appealing to me. I remember all the heartaches from the past and it makes me want to curl up and die. Everyone tells me ‘Just forget about it and move on.’ I wish it were that easy.

Some years are better than others but when it’s bad it’s horrible. Her father is the uncle of mine who helped screw me out of my grandparents’ will and I’m still a little sore about it. There was no reason for it and I could have really used some of that money, especially now with all my dental work I am getting done but he did what he did and it’s over with.

He and his son Brett don’t speak at all and they all blame it on me because I didn’t speak to my father for so many years. They seem to think I have some kind of Svengali type spell on him and he listens to what I say. Not true at all. He’s 37 and can make up his own mind at this point. He feels he doesn’t need to speak to his father and that happens to be exactly how I felt for many years but each one of us made that choice. I have no control of Brett.

I can feel a little animosity there as she was trying to tell me how ‘he’s not the same guy anymore’ and all of that prattle she probably wants to believe but just isn’t true. I wish this all had never happened too but it did and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. They are all deeply into church just as my father was and that makes it even worse. I’m sick of it all for so many years and if he was that close to Jesus you’d think he’d realize he was a complete jackass and ask us for forgiveness rather than keep his attitude that he is God’s co-pilot.

It’s like gum in my hair and I just want to shave it off and get away from it but it doesn’t want to go away. I tried to be polite to her but she is wrapped up in it all and thinks he is a new man since my aunt died but in reality it’s all a codependent sea of dysfunctional goo.

These are the times when it’s difficult to stay alive much less be funny. I feel like getting a nice shiny pistol and putting a bullet in my skull and ending the torture once and for all. I have been through this time and time again and I am rubbed raw from it all. The hope I did have is waning and I feel like I missed my freeway exit and am running out of gas quickly.

Having no job, no family and no immediate future hope don’t help me feel any better. To be this far out of the game this far into it makes me lose my will to fight it anymore. I have really tried to overcome my past and there are days when I feel I am doing pretty well but this sure isn’t one of them. I feel farther away from the prize now than I ever have and am not seeing anything on the horizon that will make it any different. What do I do about it?

I really wish I knew. Hearing from the Loop would be a great shot in the arm right now. I know Max and I can do that job and it would give me something to focus on for a while. I would pour myself into it and start a show from the ground up and I know it would rock. Max is a super partner and he gets it. We’d come out of nowhere and that would be FUN.

Fun is really lacking from my life right now. I know I am able to survive like a bug but it isn’t fun anymore. I have a couple of gigs this coming week but nothing great. I have been lacking in booking fervor because I’ve been waiting for the radio job to come through. If I take bookings the radio job wouldn’t let me do them but if I don’t get the gig I’ll have big holes in my schedule like I do now. One or the other will have to break and I need it soon.

A nice girlfriend would be great right about now too but every woman I am interested in at the moment is either wacked out of her mind, going through an ugly divorce or not very interested in me back. I don’t want just anyone, I’d like to be with someone who interests me but I am not in the right vibe for that apparently. I have too many other things to focus on anyway and all of it is looking like a big mess. This isn’t how I thought life would be.

A nice string of quality comedy dates would really lift me up out of the rut too. If I can’t get the radio gig then a nice run of comedy would cheer me up immensely. Getting into all the Funny Bones or Improvs would be HUGE and I know I’d do hot shows but how can I do that? I don’t have any real ins there and don’t know what to do. Everyone and their ma wants those same gigs and I’m just another tape nobody will watch. I need a connection.

All of this piling up at once is really overwhelming and I don’t feel like doing anything at all and that makes it all even worse. It will take a big break to get me out of this rut and an outside favor is all I can see doing that. Wishing it so or trying to do it myself is not where it’s going to come from. I need someone with power to make a call and open up a door.

The Loop guy could call this week and that would be a super start. Or I could hear from some big comedy bookers. But those things could have happened last week too. I am at a point where my patience is running out and don’t think it’s ever going to happen for me. I have given it all I have and spent my entire life perfecting my craft and I feel like it’s all an elaborate waste of time at this point. That’s a cold hard fact that really slaps me in the face HARD. I’d hate to think I’ve come this far and this is how it’s going to end but it seems as if that’s the case right now. Drifting through life like this is not making me happy. I hate it.

A lot of others in comedy have gotten to this point and that’s supposedly when they had their break. I read stories about how Richard Pryor and David Letterman and Lewis Black and many others thought they were never going to make it and that’s when they hit it. I’m to that point right now and I wish I could say I have total faith but in all honesty I can’t.

In truth I am tired and hurting and lonely and just fed up with the whole thing. I just feel numb at this point and don’t think anyone cares if I live or die. I sure don’t. All I want is a chance to make people laugh and feel good about their life and that’s what I want as well. This is a very low point right now and I wish I had something in the tank to recharge me.