Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lunch With The Boys

Thursday February 28th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I think I struck a nerve with some people. Yesterday I wrote about how I’m feeling a big lack of faith in God and it stirred up a lot of strong feelings - most of them negative. I said what I truly felt as I always do and I still feel that way. I wish I didn’t but I do. Maybe I’ll get a new perspective on it at some point but for now I’m highly disappointed with it all.

A comedian’s job is to pick apart things that are thought to be sacred and find the faults. Then we can hopefully point them out in a funny way so all of us can feel better. We have trained our brains to think that way and having faith in anything goes against our thought process. I wasn’t trying to stir up trouble and I’m still not but God seems very far away.

What’s close is life as I know it and all the problems that go with it. Maybe God has all He can handle in running the universe so I won’t bother Him with my little piss ant life. It seems less and less important the more I think about it and I don’t want to bother anybody with my little life. There are a lot more important things going on than my mental tweaks.

Today I had lunch with Marc Schultz and Tim Walkoe. Tim is one of my favorite comic minds to be around because he makes me look slow. I talk fast on stage and pack a punch but Tim cranks it up about five notches more than I do. At lunch it’s like bees buzzing.

I hadn’t seen Tim in a while and I thought he was angry with me for being on WLS. He is very liberal politically as are many comedians and I don’t like to really talk about what anyone’s politics are because it might lead to an argument. Tim got in my face about why I would associate with conservatives but Jerry has been my friend for about twenty years.

I like to think of myself as an independent because I think about each issue and decide it in my mind after careful thought. On some things I’m liberal and others conservative. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that and I think it’s the best way but so does everyone else. That’s my problem with religion too. Everyone thinks they’re the only ones correct.

We had a good lunch and when politics came up I tried to change the subject. All three of us like sports so I tried to steer it that way to avoid any uncomfortable situations and it worked pretty well. We had fun and talked about sports and comedy and how comedy has been changing lately. There are a lot of bad comics out there and they’re hurting us all.

Tim has been doing cruise ships lately and we talked all about that. I am not really that kind of act and am not sure if I want to be. Yes the money sounds wonderful but if I have to be holed up in some tiny room near the poop deck puking into a bucket I think I’ll pass. Tim can play the guitar if he needs to and I don’t have that option. On a boat I’d need it.

That doesn’t mean I’d never do it and we talked about that vs. the club scene now. That seems to be dying on the vine and staying in it for the long haul looks to be certain death. That’s why I started the Uranus business and now it’s time to make that come to life. I am on the right track and I feel it even more after talking to Tim. I need to focus on Uranus.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jesus Loves WHO?

Tuesday February 27th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I was in a pretty good mood today when I woke up but gradually throughout the day the tide turned and now I’m pretty surly. This is part of the deal with all of the ups and downs of show business and life but it’s never fun when it takes a downturn. It’s inevitable in the course of life so I guess I have to deal with it and shut my mouth. That isn’t always easy.

The first thing that set me off was finding out that my ex business partner in the comedy classes at Zanies didn’t pay Zanies their end of the take. Not only did he drain my portion dry but now I look like the ass with Zanies who has been my solid rock in comedy for my entire adult life. Hearing that set me off and I didn’t expect it at all. Now I have to fix it.

I sent the guy an email and he wrote back saying he didn’t know it bounced and it didn’t happen on purpose and he’d make payments when he could and blah blah blah. I am in an uncomfortable spot all around with this situation and like a clogged toilet when it unclogs it usually gets messy and disgusting. That’s how this whole thing is and it’s no fun at all.

Then I signed online and got an ‘invitation’ to attend a showcase show at the club up in Milwaukee that’s run by my nemesis who stole the money from the ‘benefit’ he did when I was in intensive care after my car accident. I won’t name the club or the ape who runs it just because I don’t want to waste typing strokes even naming that low life bottom feeder.

Normally I don’t even think about him but today was the wrong day to get the invite for the show being done by a guy I really went out of my way to help get started. He’s a radio guy who has a morning show at a Christian station in Rockford, IL. He wrote me a while back and asked if I would help him get started in comedy and I took time and helped him.

I try to help people out whenever I can. I really do. I think anyone with a heart does the same and I’m not looking for glory or accolades but many times people take advantage of someone who’s a giver. I’ve always been that and my grandfather always told me ‘You’re gonna get crapped on kid. You’ve got a heart.’ My killer instinct is now starting to grow.

This guy picked my brain for months and asked me to look over his material and help to get him ready to perform and like an idiot I did it. He seemed sincere and I helped him for free because he claimed to have no money because he was a ‘Christian’. Why are they the ones that usually screw you the worst? I’m sure there are good ones but I find the snakes.

My father went to church every time the doors opened and he was one of the most nasty life forms I’ve ever run across. My sister hasn’t talked to me in 15 years and the reason it all started was because I asked her for help when I had my car accident and she said she’d ‘pray for me’. I admit I lost it and got in her face and 15 years later she won’t forgive me.

I’ve tried to make it right with her and say I’m sorry and I am but doesn’t the Bible talk about forgiveness? I tried to settle it with the old man too and that never worked out any better. He went to his grave bitter and pompous and if he’s in heaven I don’t want to go.

All of this ugly mess swirled together as I looked at that mass email from Mr. Jesus DJ. He lives in a delusional world of insanity and I wish I didn’t believe that. I used to believe in God and Jesus and all that goes with it but the older I get the more I think it’s all crap.

I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and Santa too and then I got a little older and found out it wasn’t real and it was crushing. Then I loved pro wrestling for a while and I found out that was all fake too and that was another low blow. Now I feel it about God and it hurts even more. I don’t know who or what to believe about any of it.

It would be wonderful if there was a benevolent God somewhere who looked at all our actions and at some point good would be rewarded and evil would be punished but it just doesn’t seem to work out that way. Believe me, I wish I knew it to be true but I think it’s a big scam passed down through the generations designed to drain money from the stupid.

If I had written or said that as a kid I probably would have expected a lightning bolt out of the sky to vaporize me from the planet but now I really do feel that way and I wish that I didn’t. Gramps thought it was all BS too and I remember how horrified I was to hear it.

Now I agree with him so that must mean I’m getting old. I still want to be good and do good and live a life of peace and not harm anyone or anything. I think there has to be one kind of higher power or another somewhere out there but right now on this day I’m sorry to say I just don’t feel it here in my immediate circle of being. That’s what set me off.

Here I went out of my way to help this goof because I was trying to be nice and after he bled me dry of information and help he just disappeared and I hadn’t heard from him in a LONG time. He was running all kinds of shows and do you think he’d ask me to perform on one of them? Just ONE? Nope. Never. He never even said thanks and just moved on.

And then he turns right around and goes to try and snuggle up to the Antichrist who has never done anything nice for me or any other comic. That just REALLY set me off and to get me that worked up about it says something. I’ve been pretty mellow for the most part lately. My life has always been a struggle but my way of handling it has gotten way better.

Today I had a relapse. I didn’t want to push the issue but I sent the guy an email and just told him to lose my number. I don’t wish him any bad but I won’t waste my time trying to be nice and help him out either. A lot of my students are that way too. They only call for a favor or to get me to pull a string, which stupidly I usually do. I have to toughen up a lot.

I’ve got other problems to worry about, like how to get Zanies paid off and that disaster cleaned up and out of the way. These are all things that nobody sees when the show goes on. And then people wonder why I go off on hecklers so strongly. Welcome to the jungle.

I wish I had faith in God and felt some love and hope and all that but I have to say it’s a pipedream at this point. I still don’t know how any God could make such a beautiful place like Earth and fill it with so many imbeciles and scumbags. I’m still working on that idea.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dream Training

Tuesday February 26th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Started to get some momentum going in a good way today. I’m trying to look at what’s really important in life and focus on that. I like a lot of things and that takes my attention in a lot of directions. That’s fine but I need to make a list of priorities so I can have some kind of order to it all rather than aimlessly wander in circles like I’ve been doing lately.

The Uranus business is a long term plan but will make my retirement years happy if I’m able to pull it off. Comedy is my current business and it’s going pretty well. I am working every week and a lot of people I know aren’t so that’s good. I might not be working in the places I want to work all the time but I do have income and gigs and that should continue.

What I focused on today was the in between. WLS is a fun thing that could lead to great rewards if handled correctly. Being one who has handled a lot of things poorly in my life I want to be extra careful not to blow this opportunity. I laid out a master plan of ideas for a way to turn this once a week segment into a moneymaker for the comics and for Jerry too.

I spent a couple of hours on it and I focused on all aspects of what we’re doing and how we can get better at it. NOBODY is doing what we’re doing in a format like we are so it’s open territory to make it pay off. After years of seeing how others did it it’s not necessary to be the best at anything, only that we’re the FIRST. That’s a painful lesson I’ve learned.

When I started I used to want to be the best comedian around because I thought it would make me rich and successful and everything would just work out. Boy was I totally off. It just doesn’t work that way and rather than fight it I am learning to go with the flow. I still want to be the best comedian I can be but I know now that I’m the only one who’ll care.

It felt good to think about the whole idea because it’s become a reality out of nothing. It started with an idea and now it’s been on the air for a couple of months and it’s starting to grow a little. It could grow a lot more with some care and thought and I started taking it to the next level today by outlining what we could all do to keep it progressing to that point.

This is the kind of stuff I love doing. I’m never depressed when I’m working on ideas to improve on especially when they’re associated with things I like doing. Comedy and radio are two things I love to do and to combine both with a chance to make money is the best.

After I was done working on the radio ideas I sorted a big load of sports cards I won on Ebay and found out I got a pretty nice deal. It was about 900 cards for $125 but there’s all kinds of interesting and unusual stuff in there. That put me in a great mood and I listened to a recording of a motivational speech by Vince Lombardi which I hadn’t heard before.

Actually he wasn’t all that great of a speaker but what he talked about what fantastic. It wasn’t particularly fancy or dynamic like a Tony Robbins or a Zig Ziglar but it was full of good solid ideas to put in my head and I let it soak in as I sorted cards. These are all of the things I need to be doing on a regular basis and if I keep this up I’ll start to see big results.

Train Dreaming

Monday February 25th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Busy ‘til I’m dizzy. That’s how I want to stay. What good is life if there isn’t something fun and interesting going on? I can sleep when I’m dead and that’ll happen soon enough. I want to use every remaining second of this life doing something productive. Mondays are my usual day of running all over the place and today was no exception but it was all good.

I’m becoming a semi-regular on the train downtown. I only ride one day a week but I’m starting to see the same people both going down and coming home. Most of them are very serious looking and seem to be off in another world of thought. Whatever they’re thinking of doesn’t look pleasant and I couldn’t be more thankful that I’m not one of these people.

There’s no way I could handle working a day job for very long without going on a spree of epic proportions. Riding the train has been a great source of inspiration to me if not for anything else but letting me know how lucky I truly am to be my own boss and do what is really important to me for my living. I may not be totally there yet but at least I’m trying.

The percentage of people who never take a swing at what they love has got to be huge. I see lots of unhappy people everywhere and this is supposed to be as good as it gets living in a country where freedom of choice is what built the place. What’s it like in Russia? No wonder they’re all stone faced boozers gassed up on vodka. They don’t get a chance at all.

That thought has been bouncing in my head for a couple of days now. I am so lucky that I live in America even though there are many things going wrong with it. I doubt if it was ever perfect and I think the world was wacked before I ever got here. This can’t be ‘it’ but it’s it for now and all of us have to live our lives and eventually we’ll see what’s up next.

I hope there’s a next world of some kind and I hope I get to experience love and fairness and peace and a lot of the good things that seem to be missing in this one. Imagine what it would be like on a train where EVERYONE loved their jobs and was getting enough love and plenty of sex and things were looking up and there was enough money to go around.

Imagine that train ride. I doubt if it would be the somber, silent smile-free sentence I’ve seen on Mondays for the last few weeks. I bet there would be music playing and sampling of home cooked breakfast treats and exchanging of phone numbers and nobody would get angry if the train was early or late. That’s the planet I want to live on someday. Is it there?

I sure hope so. That’s what keeps me going while I work through my problems on Earth as time slips away by the day. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay focused and positive and all of it just turns into a big blur. Today I was focused on being thankful and I realize that it’s all temporary no matter what it is. Even the good. One day Trump won’t have his money.

Tonight I was at Zanies closing the show for the ‘Zaniest Lawyer In Chicago’ contest. It is Zanies’ 30th anniversary and they’re doing contests all year for people from all walks of life who dream of being comedians. There are a lot. I lived their dream and I’m thankful.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

No More Excuses

Sunday February 24th, 2008 - Peoria, IL/Lake Villa, IL

The sunny weather today was perfect for the drive back from Peoria. I considered doing it after the shows last night but I’m glad I didn’t. Cruising through tiny towns on two lane snowy highways late at night on a Saturday is asking for trouble. Between speed traps and drunken farmers there are all kinds of potential pitfalls present. Darkness helps hide them.

It’s close enough where I could have made it in a reasonable time but my gut told me to get some sleep even though the motel smelled like curry chicken and my toilet still wasn’t flushing. I stayed up reading for a while and then just laid there thinking about what to do with the rest of my life. I still feel like I’m drifting even though I thought I had a life plan.

The problem is I’m not working that plan like I think I should be. I can’t figure out why. I am making all kinds of excuses as to why I’m not just getting in the groove and working on making Uranus Factory Outlet a multi million dollar entity. I keep farting around with all kinds of stuff from baseball cards to doing gigs in Peoria and those aren’t the answer.

It’s funny how the brain works. We all know Oreos and bacon aren’t good for us and all kinds of undesirable things will happen if we eat them regularly but 99.9% of us still keep eating them anyway. We play tricks on ourselves and say we’ll stop doing it on Christmas or New Year’s Day or our birthday and maybe we stop for a day but then it’s right back.

I feel like I’m letting myself down with this project and I don’t know why. I was as high on this idea as I ever have been about anything in my life and I felt inspired and ready for a major change and improvement and I thought I was on my way. I am KIND of on a path to do it but it’s not full throttle by any means. I’m limping along and making bad excuses.

Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe it’s self doubt. I don’t know exactly but I’m about to make a change. I’m not here to stumble through life and waste whatever talents I was given and I feel like I’ve been doing that lately. I demand WAY more of myself than others do and I am not at all happy with my effort. I thought about that on my drive home.

I’m happiest when I’m busy. Period. I always have been. I love to be booked constantly and I love to teach classes and I love to be around comedy and funny people. Being out in Hooterville trapped in a basement isn’t doing much for my social life but for now that’s a pill I choose to swallow. It’s cheap rent and if I really want to move in the future I’ll do it.

First I need to GET MY BUSINESS RUNNING. Period. It won’t matter where I live if I can pull this off. I’ll be able to buy a house any place I want but knowing me I’ll still be living in a cheap apartment and driving a car I bought from the auction. That’s how I am. It’s been a lot of years of squeaking by and making due and I’m not opposed to it at all.

That’s not the point. The point is using up whatever talents and creativity I was blessed with. I would much rather wear out than rust out. Way too many people have gone to their grave with their creativity still in them. My father was one. I do NOT want that to be me.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paid And Grateful

Saturday February 23rd, 2008 - East Peoria, IL

Another night in East Peoria. The old vaudeville term that asked if an act would appeal to the masses was “Will it play in Peoria?” In my case the answer would be yes. I can get laughs in many situations and tonight I pulled off two shows for two very different crowd types. The early show was chatty and drunk and the late one was small but very attentive.

The staff here could not be any more friendly. The club has only been open a few weeks and that will probably change if I should return but for now it was much appreciated. The bad thing is there weren’t enough customers to keep any of us in business for very long.

This is a tricky situation. There’s already a club here that’s been open for years. It’s way across town but this is Peoria and it’s not a very big one. Some towns are just one comedy club towns and this may or may not be one of them. One club can get along fine but when there’s two then both of them suffer. Time will tell if that’s the case here but it’s possible.

Lenny C. is a comic who used to host over at the other place for years. I’d heard of him and the club itself but for whatever reason I just never got booked there. Now Lenny has a silent partner who owns the building and he runs the comedy part. On paper it seems like a great deal but life isn’t lived on paper. This weekend’s shows were lightly attended.

Originally there was supposed to be five shows for the week and the money was not bad at all. That’s why I said yes. But then the Thursday got cancelled and we didn’t do the late show yesterday either. Tonight’s early show was ok but not great and the late show had a good audience but it was very small. I know somebody lost some money this weekend.

The physical building is very nice and the staff is friendly and Lenny has been hosting a show in town for years so on paper this place should be a hit. I felt bad that there wasn’t a lot of people but I am also in business and we made a deal. I did shave a little off what the original deal called for and would have taken more off but Lenny insisted I take my pay.

That was very straight up of him and I appreciate it greatly but I hate to see anybody get burned so early in the game. I met his partner and he seems to be doing alright but still I’d feel bad if the room closed before it got a chance to get going. Normally I don’t feel guilty taking any slime ball club owner’s money but these guys aren’t that at all. They’re honest.

I wish I had a way of paying them back. If I was a draw I could put some butts in here to help make them some money too but right now I can’t do anything but thank them for the cash and move on. There have been many times when I’ve taken it in the shorts but this is a time when I didn’t. I got paid what I was promised and we negotiated down after that.

These are the kind of people who deserve to succeed but unfortunately there aren’t any guarantees of that. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the audiences here because they were a little drunk and rowdy for my tastes and I’ve been through it too many times before but I would certainly come back here if it would make Lenny money. He and the staff were fantastic.

Pressure In Peoria

Friday February 22nd, 2008 - East Peoria, IL

It’s been a long time since I’ve been out on the road and I can’t say I missed it. Not after a hectic day like today. I got a late start because I was in a groove doing stuff at home and I made the stupid mistake of thinking I had time to get my mail in Chicago before heading to Peoria for the shows tonight. It’s a Friday and I got stuck in traffic and screwed myself.

I should have known better. Fridays in Chicago can be hellish and today was the perfect example. Traffic wasn’t moving so I got off the tollway and that was even worse. I did get my mail but it cost me way too much time and I was trapped like an animal with no hopes of bypassing the total gridlock on I-55. All I could do was tap dance on my brake pedal.

This is when the stress builds by the minute. I tried to back time the situation and see if I had any chance at all of making it there for the 8:00 show. I would be cutting it close but there was a chance if traffic would just MOVE a little. No such luck. It was constant stop and go (mostly stop) and I felt my window of opportunity slam down hard on my fingers.

It’s my own fault and I admit it. I didn’t think I’d get caught in the traffic and I assumed it would be clear sailing. Mistake. I should know better by now. I’ve had years of being in situations like this and to go back to it now was just plain unnecessary. I take full blame. I also needed to get there so I had to make some time when I finally did get past the city.

That’s even more dangerous. I don’t have a fuzz buster and I was doing 95 down I-55 in hopes of making up for my miscalculation. That could have been a huge ticket and I knew it as I gunned my little Honda for all it was worth. The miles flew by but not fast enough.

I called the club at 7:00 and let them know I’d be cutting it close. They gave me a route to take that’s allegedly a shortcut and that’s always a red flag. It was through small towns and involved a lot of turns and I didn’t feel confident about taking it but I did anyway. It’s their club and they should know the area. I got off I-74 where they said to but that was it.

None of the roads were marked and I stopped and asked at gas stations and it made me a lot later than I already was. I called the club again and they told me some directions that turned out to be completely wrong. It was SO frustrating to be wandering out in farmland hoping to find the turn off and it never came. Finally they sent someone to come get me.

I finally got there and had to go right on stage and of course there were about 16 people in the audience. It’s always like that. NEVER is it where there’s a full crowd waiting as I rush through cornfields at 95mph. It’s always a small drunk rowdy crowd who don’t care what kind of day I had. They want to drink and talk to me and that’s what happened here.

I made the best of it but it sure wasn’t what I expected. I’ve been playing some nice gigs lately and coming back to this was not what I was hoping for. I did the show and then got back in the car and checked in at the Super 8 Motel. My toilet doesn’t flush and there’s no remote for the TV. Welcome back to the minor leagues. This will surely keep me humble.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Falling For The Funk

Thursday February 21st, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI

Life on Earth is pleasure and pain. Today I felt them both. I drove up to Milwaukee for the George Clinton show at The Rave. That’s the pleasure part. The pain came when as I was crossing the street to attend the show I slipped on some ice and went down as fast as Hillary’s chances in the election. I went ‘ass over tea kettle’ as my grandma used to say.

There’s something inherently funny about someone falling down even when it’s me. It’s my nature as a comedian to laugh at it and I laid there laughing but wanting to cry as well. It REALLY hurt and all I could do was pick myself up and keep walking. There were two people who came to see if I was ok and one of them was a midget. That was even funnier.

It was very cold out and ice was everywhere. The patch I slipped on was hidden under a coating of snow and wasn’t easy to see. I slammed my elbow badly and landed flat on my back with a big thud. I guess it could have been worse but I was immediately sore for the rest of the night. I caught my breath and limped into the club to get my ticket at will call.

I received an email from George’s manager saying my ticket would be waiting so I went to the window to pick it up. Of course the young girl working there with six rings pierced into her lip couldn’t find it and was a complete idiot. Her coworker was either high or just plain stupid and I’d bet on both. Finally I just gave up trying and paid for my own ticket.

George has always put on great shows and if I have to pay one more time I’m not angry. I know I’ll get in for free the next time and I hadn’t seen him in a while so I just did it so I could get in and forget about my pain for a while. That’s what good entertainment does.

The show was supposed to start at 8 but the band didn’t get on until 9:15. George didn’t get on until almost 10:00 but when he did it was off the hook even more than usual. Wow were they hot tonight - even funkier than usual. The band was tight and George was loose and the crowd was into it and I must say out of all the shows I’ve seen this was up there.

The energy of the band working as a unit is what always impresses me. There were a lot of parts that came together to make a single show that was dead on the whole night. There were guitar solos and a horn section and they played hit after hit without a break. They are nothing short of amazing when they’re on and tonight they tore the roof off the sucker.

I’m not even angry that I had to pay for this one. It was worth every penny. George still has it and he’s pushing 70 years old. I sure hope I can do shows when I’m that age. He’s a legend and any time I can see a legend I do it because there’s always something to learn. I watched George run the show and work the crowd and I sat back and enjoyed all of it.

I talked to James Wesley Jackson on the phone today. He used to open for them back in the 70s. I was hoping he would go with me and he wanted to but couldn’t do it this time. I always love to hear James tell stories about working with the band and next time I’m sure we’ll get back stage and I’ll get to hear some more. I can’t get enough of that funky stuff.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mothership Connection

Wednesday February 20th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I had my gig fall out tomorrow night and I couldn’t be happier about it. That means I’m free to drive up to Milwaukee and catch the George Clinton show at The Rave. It’s been a while since I caught a ride on the Mothership and I’m long overdue. I love to watch how a Pfunk show unfolds because they’re never quite the same two times in a row. It’s unique.

I’ve seen George live too many times to count and he never disappoints. He’s the leader of the circus and the center of attention but all kinds of things go on during the show. I’ve learned a lot about showmanship from him because he’s such a master. I’m sure I’ll learn something tomorrow night too and I’m thrilled at getting the chance to go. I can’t wait.

That’s how I want people to feel when they come to see me. I’m just one comedian and not a twenty plus piece band but the concept is the same. George gives people who pay to see the show WAY more than they bargain for and nobody can argue that point. It tests an audience’s stamina to be able to last through the whole show. It’s a challenge. I love that.

I also love it because of the raw energy that bounces off the walls. I’m very energetic on stage and I love to feel the flow during a show. George directs the band’s energy during a show and he’s great at it. Like in sports if someone has the hot hand they get the ball for a while. That’s how it is with the band. I just love to soak it all up live. It’s an experience.

I want my show to be an experience too. Comedy and music are different in many ways but similar in a lot of others. There is definitely a rhythm to both of them and mine has an influence of the funk without a doubt. That’s funny because I’m so painfully Caucasian. It would be a disaster if I tried to get into music but in comedy it gives me a fresh angle.

Every performer has influences. I’m sure George Clinton does too. He took all of those and rolled them up into one and added his own flavor and became a product himself. I am doing the same thing in comedy. I have influences of Rodney Dangerfield and C. Cardell Willis and Gene Perret who wrote for Bob Hope and others too. They’re all in the mix.

When I’m on stage all of those ingredients are in there but I’m now my own product. It took years to let the stew cook but it’s now ready to dish out. George is in my influential mix too and nobody I know in comedy has that ingredient - especially the white guys. It’s part of what separates me from just another shlub telling jokes and totally I need that.

It’s fun to be able to pay tribute to someone who had a strong influence early on. I don’t ever want to forget C. Cardell Willis’s generosity when I started in comedy but I can’t do much other than to mention it when I can. With George Clinton I can do a lot more. I will call the paranormal radio show I’ll be doing in Kenosha ‘The Mothership Connection’.

That’s the name of the album that got me hooked on the group Parliament back when it wasn’t cool for white kids in Milwaukee to dig the funk. It’s a hip name and not too many people will know where I got it but that’s ok. I don’t deny it. It’s my secret funky tribute.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Master Plan

Tuesday February 19th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI

The master plan is starting to take shape. I am working on a lot of things right now but I think they’re all worth my time. If I can pull them all off successfully I’ll be in a very nice position to make all my dreams come true. If I don’t I’ll still be doing things I really enjoy so I’m not taking much of a risk at all. It’s a big undertaking though and time is an issue.

Today I went to Kenosha to meet with my old 93QFM buddy John Perry. We’ve known each other since 1991 and kept in contact ever since. He’s the operations manager at what used to be three radio stations but now is down to two. I’ve worked for him over the years in many capacities and now we’re doing it again. The radio bug will not leave me alone.

This is a totally different situation than before. I did fill in weekend work at WIIL and it was supposed to lead to the morning show but never did. It was a political thing and I was not in the right position and didn’t get the gig. It was disappointing at the time but I didn’t lose a friendship over it. John is a great guy and way more important than a job opening.

Then I did mornings at a country station WEXT which got sold and is now a successful Spanish station. This time I’ll be co-hosting a show with Jimmy Novack who I met at the Loop when I worked there. It’s going to be a talk show about the paranormal that will be aired on AM1050 WLIP on Sunday afternoons. That‘s a station I haven’t been on before.

A lot of good things can come from this. WLIP has a strong signal and can be heard for many miles north and south of Kenosha. It goes into both Milwaukee and Chicago which is good and it’s also a chance to have some creative freedom to do a show about what has always been of interest to me. I will be able to pick the topics and shape the show myself.

Jimmy is a great guy and very positive and we’ll have a lot of fun doing this. He’s a big fan of UFOs and Bigfoot and ghost sightings and conspiracy theories and we’ll put all of those kinds of things on the air. There are no real ratings issues on a Sunday afternoon for a Kenosha station so we can have some freedom to develop the show and make it grow.

The master plan in this situation would be to get a unique show going and eventually be asked to fill in on Coast to Coast AM which goes nationwide. If I am developing both the radio show and Uranus Factory Outlet at the same time one will feed off the other. This is not going to be an easy task and it won’t be ground breaking radio at first but it will grow.

I went to the station and John and I brainstormed a little and came up with a plan to get the show on the air by March 3rd. I won’t be paid for it at first but eventually I will get to plug Uranus Factory Outlet when I get that going. That makes me want to do it even more but I can only go as fast as I can go. I see the master plan but it will take a while to do it.

Plus I still have to finish out my comedy bookings. I’m getting work left and right and I don’t want to stop any of it so I will let it all keep coming and do what I can to sort it out as it comes. It looks like the mother ship will land in Kenosha and then head for Uranus.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

President's Day

Monday February 18th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Just another manic Monday except that it’s President’s Day. Banks are closed and there is no mail delivery. That seems to be contradictory to what the ideals of a president would be but who am I to argue? I think some stores made all of this up just so they could have a ‘big blowout everything MUST go - no payments until 2013’ white sale. God bless us all.

I’m not opposed to remembering George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but why do we need to close the post office and bank to do it? Aren’t their pictures represented on the currency and stamps? I would think they would be open later just so we could all go in for a refresher course on the great patriotic things those two presidents did for our country.

I guess it doesn’t work that way. I took the train into Chicago to be on WLS and nobody was talking about any presidents. They were talking about how cold it was and not in very positive tones. I’m happy I only have to commute one day a week. Doing it every day is a grind I wouldn’t care for right now. I thought about how lucky I was and the ride was fun.

I’ve got a lot of fun things going on right now. That’s what I want to be known for. If it isn’t fun I don’t want to do it. I made it this far in life without giving in and ending all my dreams so why do it now? I have some seeds planted that could really pay off in a big way in the not too distant future. WLS is one of them so taking a train ride every week is fine.

Now I need to find out exactly how to do that. We have our segment on the air for a half hour every week which turns out to be about 15 minutes after news and commercials. We are still getting the whole concept together but there have been some good moments and I think we’ll continue to improve. I’m mainly doing it to help Jerry Agar but that’s not all.

This could be a win/win for everybody. Jerry gets content for his show and we as a live show could do venues in the area that comedians normally wouldn’t do. That’s the key to making this all pay off and how to handle it is delicate. Steve Cochran is a comedian who also does radio and he’s on WGN. He’s been doing live shows in the area for years now.

Steve is a good guy and a funny comic too and has found a nice niche with his shows. It could be the same way for us but we still need to keep showing up every week and keep it growing. It’s fun to build something from the ground up and breathe life into it and that’s what I’m doing with quite a few projects right now. Uranus Factory Outlet is another one.

I heard from my friend Max in Springfield, IL today and we’re going to meet later in the week so I can meet both his printer and t-shirt maker for the radio station where he works. Max said they’re both great guys and would love to help out with Uranus stuff. I’ll take it. My computer person Shelley is on vacation with her family and she’ll be back next week.

These are all the things I need to do to make my dreams happen and I’m laying a strong foundation so I can start building without worrying if it will collapse. I already have good people in the mix now it’s my job to get it all running smoothly. I’m up for the challenge.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Do I Do Now?

Sunday February 17th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Michael Jordan turned 45 today. I know that because he was born the same year as me. I also know it because my grandmother’s birthday was February 17th. At his height of fame I would always hear on the radio it was his birthday so I remember it even today. It’s also the one year anniversary of my father’s death. I wonder what all of these numbers mean?

Whatever it might mean it didn’t stop me from having all kinds of thoughts fly through my head today. I thought about how fast the year has flown by since the old man croaked. I feel absolutely nothing emotionally right now. I have no regrets that he’s gone but I also think it was all a big waste of time with no payoff in the end. He’s gone and I’m still here.

It would be great to think he’s ‘up there’ somewhere looking down and asking angels to keep watch over me but in reality I don’t think any of that is going on. If there’s a hell and he isn’t in it then I’m even more confused than I thought I was. I have no idea why any of this had to happen and if I’m supposed to learn from it I can’t figure out what it might be.

That’s what I was thinking about much of today and I came up short of answers. Why is any of life the way it is? Who the hell knows? My grandmother would have been 97 today but I’m glad she’s not here. She died at 93 and she had had enough then. She had a life of torture herself and was very cold and unemotional and in the end she died sad and in pain.

She was the one who raised me and was very hard on me because she didn’t want me to turn out like her own son - an underachiever and a loser. I remember once I brought home a report card and I went down in one subject from an A+ to an A and that’s all she said at the time. ‘You went down a notch. What happened?’ Nothing about the good stuff at all.

There are a lot more people than I thought that can relate to stuff like this. As I get older I meet people who are still struggling from their childhood nightmares and it won’t end. It amazes me how an aside like that can still sting thirty years later even though the one that said it has been dead for years. I know I need to let it go and I try but it still smarts a little.

I just want to know what any of it meant. Grandma was a tortured soul and died in a sad lonely way after a long illness being watched after by her two sons who only wanted to be near her for the money. Then the oldest son got it and never did anything with it and now he’s dead too. His brother is going down the same path and none of them ever found love.

I’m looking for it too I guess but I sure chose a different path to travel to search for it. It has been a brutal struggle for a lifetime to keep trying to break that chain of ignorance and squalor and unhappiness but I think I’ve done ok. Considering where I came from I am no less than a walking miracle and many times I forget that fact. I’ve carved out my own life.

But again, what was any of it for? I’ll be 45 next month myself and the youthful energy I once had bouncing off the walls is slowly leaving. I can feel middle age creeping up on me and now I feel like it’s a race against the clock but who am I racing? What do I win?

I thought about that as I got in my car this morning and drove up to West Allis, WI for a sports card show at Gonzaga Hall. I am now back in the card business because I enjoy it. I don’t think I need any other reason than that and I’m not looking for one. It’s fun and I’ve learned to appreciate that in life if nothing else. While we’re here we all should have fun.

My father and grandmother never had that word in their vocabulary. They were salty for their whole lives and died lonely and now nobody really misses them. Nobody might miss me either when I bite it but at least I’ll have had some fun along the way. I already have. I have always made fun and adventure a priority and looking back I’m thrilled that I did it.

The weather was horrendous today and there was ice and sleet everywhere. That meant the card show attendance was way down and it was as sparse as I’ve ever seen it. I did see my old friend Ray Gunderson who I’ve known for many years. He had a card shop over in West Allis and he was very much a father figure to me until he ended up closing the store.

We visited for a while and it was great to see him. He was always a wheeler dealer and I learned a lot from him about spinning collectibles. He and I visited and relived a bunch of fun times we had over the years and it was fun all over again to think about it all. The old man and I never did anything together fun or not. Ray’s been much more of a dad figure.

A lot of the dealers were willing to deal because of the weather and I ended up spending all the money I made this past weekend on old cards. Actually I didn’t spend it I invested it. It’s my plan to repackage them and either sell them on EBay or trade them for stuff that I really want or set up at card shows myself in the future. No matter what, it was all FUN.

I got a great deal on some ‘56 Topps baseball cards and they’re gorgeous. That stuff has gotten very difficult to find and like a blue chip stock you can always sell it for at least the price you paid for it. I’m not worried about losing money on these and they’ll be great for a while just to look at and sort and enjoy. I don’t care if it’s smart or not I did it anyway.

Supposedly the economy is ready to explode and they have new money ready to go for a one world government and the aliens are in charge and they’re going to install microchips in all of our skulls and watch us like rats in a lab. So why can’t I enjoy some sports cards? I don‘t know who to believe anymore but it sure isn‘t my family. They never hit pay dirt.

I’m really not worried about very much at this point including death. I’ve lived a life of my own choosing and even though I’ve made many mistakes I took responsibility for all of them and tried to make them right with those I wronged. Many of them didn’t accept a sincere apology but that’s not my fault. I can honestly say I did the very best that I could.

But what now? What do I do with the rest of my life? Is there a reason I’m still here for a while longer or is it all random? Innocent people got shot in many incidents recently but I am still here to plug along. Am I innocent? I’m not trying to claim that but I do sincerely try to live a good life and make an effort to make the world a better place than when I got here. I think I have at least a little. Now what’s ahead for both Michael Jordan and me?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Michigan Magic

Friday February 15th, 2008 - Grand Rapids, MI

Some nights everything just goes right. These are the ones that keep the bullet out of my mouth and tonight was one of them. Not only did the show itself go extremely well I got a chance to work a little political magic offstage too. It was a wonderful night on all fronts.

The show was at a rock club opening for a big Bob and Tom act named Drew Hastings. I have heard of Drew for years but he’s one of those rare road comics I hadn’t met yet. It’s odd when a veteran road comedian doesn’t meet another one at least once at some point. I know hundreds of comedians if even just a little but Drew and I had never crossed paths.

This whole thing was a touchy situation. I am on Bob and Tom’s black list since my last appearance on their show in October of 2006. Drew’s management needed an opener who could work cleaner in a bigger venue and called Zanies in Chicago. Bert Haas knew I had a week off so he suggested me. Drew’s manager had seen me in Las Vegas and said yes.

The Las Vegas shows were also in 2006 at the ‘Lucky 21’ festival at Caesars Palace. To have had him been there that week was a fluke that worked in my favor. Getting on Bob and Tom’s dark side was a fluke that didn’t. It’s all part of the randomness of the business and there’s no explanation for it. Hopefully I can put out good vibes and get som back.

The whole way there I couldn’t help thinking I would get there and get fired again. I am trying to be a positive thinker but after the last experience with the Bob and Tom people it isn’t easy. They WAY over reacted in my opinion and they have held a grudge ever since. If they heard I was going to be on a show associated with them I don’t think they’d like it.

This wasn’t one of their ‘all star’ shows though. It was a Drew Hastings solo gig but the show was sponsored by the Bob and Tom affiliate radio station and all the staff was there before the show. It was a big event. The last thing I wanted was to get sent home again. I thought it might happen when I got there and the bouncer said ‘There’s no opening act.’

I told him I wouldn’t have driven to Grand Rapids from Chicago to play a joke like that on him and he checked with his manager and the manager said there was an opener on the bill after all. My heart felt better and I walked through the club looking for the person that I needed to report to backstage. There was nobody backstage and I stood there by myself.

It was only about a minute but I felt my life in comedy flash before my eyes. I had taken a lifetime to get to this point of being in a position to kick major ass in this situation. I am a strong act but none of these people had seen or heard of me before so I was in a position of total power here and I was the only one that knew it. What a perfect position to be in.

The guy I was supposed to report to came backstage and we hit it off immediately. He’s a very laid back person but he also was the tour manager of the shows I got fired from for getting under Bob and Tom’s skin. He said ‘I heard what happened and I never did figure out why they did that to you. All the other comics said you weren‘t a troublemaker at all.’

That’s the thing. I’m really not a troublemaker. I don’t drink or party with the staff and I just like doing my show and leaving. There are comics like Doug Stanhope who enjoy life on the edge and that’s fine but that’s not me at all. That’s why this whole thing really rots. I got clipped before I had a chance to prove myself. I should have been on all those tours.

Tonight was my chance to redeem myself a little. The guy asked me what happened and by this time there were a lot of other people backstage and I had to handle it all delicately. I told him the story of what happened and ears perked up all over the room. Then the guys from the station asked what happened. I tried to change the subject but they kept asking.

I lucked out by having the meet and greet listeners show up and Drew and I went out to meet them. I realized I wasn’t known to them and I joked ‘I’m the bodyguard, nobody try anything funny. I’m packing heat and I’m not afraid to use it.’ They laughed and I tried to shake as many hands as I could but I knew none of them had any idea of who I was at all.

Even better. I could see the place filling up and one of the radio station people came up to me and said ‘So you’re the opener, huh?’ I nodded. He said ‘We need you to do twenty minutes. Do you think you have twenty minutes?’ He was either condescending or had no idea how comedy worked. I bet on both so I said ‘Gee, I don‘t know. That‘s a long time.’

The lights dimmed and the staff was back stage as I got ready to go on. They looked at me like I was on death row and I humored them a little by trying to appear nervous. I said ‘Hey, I think I’m a little queasy - can one of YOU go on instead?’ They all got looks like I was serious and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. My self confidence surged.

Live comedy is NOT for the squeamish. It’s a very difficult thing and sometimes I lose track of that because I’m so deeply into it. I wasn’t cocky but I just KNEW I was going to have a great show tonight and I wanted to redeem myself. I was more than ready to do my twenty minutes and when the guy brought me up I started pounding it from the very start.

I have a strong opening and a strong closer and that’s all anyone needs. Anything in the middle doesn’t really matter. All I had to do tonight was my opener and closer and I made that stretch out to twenty minutes EXACTLY. I did my time but I packed a lot more than that into it. I had multiple applause breaks and big pops of laughter and it was totally fun.

Walking back stage after I got off was even better. All the station people were looking at me like I was their new king and I shook every hand and thanked them for having me. I talked to the guy in charge and he said he got off the phone with Drew’s manager and told him I killed and was a great guy to deal with off stage too. THAT was what I was after. Is it too late to mend fences with Bob and Tom? I hope not but for tonight it didn‘t matter.

I liked Drew Hastings too. His act was very well written and performed and he’s a pro. I didn’t get to visit much but I could tell he was a pretty decent guy. He’s 50 and getting his break so that was very encouraging to me. He’s got a Comedy Central special coming out and I’m happy for his success. He earned it. But I did too. Maybe this was a break tonight.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Enough Shootings

Thursday February 14th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Today started out very well and I was in a groove until I heard about a shooting over at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. I know that campus because many years ago I had the extreme hots for a girl who was a student there. She was amazing and that school is a hotbed for hot chicks. Cindy Crawford went there. ‘Nuff said. It’s a young man’s dream.

I was at Jim McHugh’s house when we heard the news. Jim’s wife called as we were at his computer making up business cards. We turned on the TV and it was the same scene it always is. Some reporter has sketchy details and the police chief isn’t saying anything and the University faculty are all hush hush and everyone is wandering around in a blind funk.

I guess I’d be blind and funky too but why does this kind of scene keep happening? Last week it was the Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park. Five innocent victims got killed just for shopping for some clothes. Last week in Milwaukee eleven people got shot in a couple of hours. Last month it was the nut bag in Omaha who snapped and flipped out at the mall.

Being someone who has dealt with depression and anger and all kinds of ugliness for an entire lifetime I have to say this angers me even more. Everyone has THOUGHT about an uncontrolled shooting spree at one time or another but now people are starting to DO it in record numbers. Something’s wrong somewhere and I don’t know how to make it stop.

I’m not a stranger to hopelessness. I can honestly say I’ve been to the point of wanting a way out of my pain and was ready to take my own life. These people are obviously not in a strong mental space but it’s inexcusable to me when someone randomly opens fire on a group of people who have nothing to do with their pain. Why waste all of those bullets on people who are trying to live a good life? There are SO many others who really deserve it.

How about passing out a list of registered sex offenders and child molesters? Have at it. Gang bangers who habitually traffic drugs and steal and drain the police force manpower and spend our tax dollars needlessly would all make good targets. Plus, they have some of their own weapons so at least it would be a fair fight. Killing one of them would be sport.

Shooting innocent college students or ladies shopping is just not acceptable. If a wacko is in pain and wants to blow his head off I’m all for it. Nobody would have missed me by now if I’d done it when I was that low but at least I wouldn’t have taken someone’s father or sister or parent or child. I would have had the common courtesy to deal with it myself.

I’m getting harder and crankier in my old age and my patience is wearing thin. It’s not a gun control issue it’s a SELF control issue. Who the hell is spreading the word that going on a shooting spree is the way to solve someone’s deep seeded mental tweaks? STOP it.

There were a lot of positives today. I got a lot of work done and got called for two gigs this week when I thought I was off. But I can’t help feeling sad for the victims in DeKalb.
And Tinley Park. And Omaha. The shooters are dead but their evil lives on. Why is that?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Super Stud Tuesday

Tuesday February 12th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Weird day today. Not bad, just weird. I was supposed to go see Shelley to get cracking on my website update and switching it all over but she called and said one of her kids was sick and asked if we could make it tomorrow. That’s not the weird part. I can understand a kid getting sick. That happens. It’s the rest of the day that has me scratching my head.

For whatever reason I felt like the testosteronic tornado all day today. Hot chicks were a dime a dozen and I had a fresh roll of dimes. I couldn’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong - I didn’t mind it, I just had a hard time believing it. Every time I turned around I was talking to or flirting with or in the presence of a beautiful woman and it kept going the entire day.

It’s amazing how that kind of thing goes in streaks and today was like I hit the jackpot. I decided to get a haircut after Shelley called because I’ve been getting a little shaggy. I just picked a place out in a strip mall and got the sexiest babe I’ve seen in a long time by sheer luck of the draw. Normally I get the foul smelling chatty booze hag with smoker’s cough.

Not today. Today I got Roxy. Foxy Roxy. She looked good. She smelled good. She felt good as she rubbed her chest over my ears several times trying to cut some hairs I’ll never be able to pay back for growing there and letting her do it. I had just taken a shower but it didn’t stop me from getting the shampoo too. That was the best two bucks I spent all year.

Then I stopped at the bank to deposit my Zanies check from yesterday and got to talking with the branch manager. She’s about my age and very attractive and I’d left my comedy CD for one of the tellers and she heard it. She told me how funny I was and how everyone at the bank is hoping to come and see me next time I’m performing anywhere in the area.

That was very flattering and we talked for a while and I just found myself really feeling at ease with her and enjoying her company. She let it out that she was a ‘single mom’ and I must admit I enjoyed hearing it. Usually when things go well with a woman I like I hear the old ‘My BOYFRIEND says…’ and after that it’s all a blur. I tune everything else out.

It turns out that her daughter is looking for a car and we got to talking about the auction. I have turned many people on to it and if I can help her I will but maybe it will be an in to meet outside of the bank. She said she’d love to see it and I love being there anyway so if I can do something I enjoy and help someone too why not let it rip? It all just fell in place.

After that I went to the thrift store to take a lap because I enjoy it and there was a hottie in there walking around with way too few clothes on for such a cold day. Again - I wasn’t upset about it, I’m just stating a fact. She was looking at the books when I was and we did a criss cross a couple of times so I asked her to quit stalking me and she laughed out loud.

We struck up a conversation and she wasn’t a kook at all. She likes thrift stores just like I do and we talked about some of the better ones in the area. She didn’t have any rings but I didn’t pursue it any further. Maybe I could have. Maybe I should have. But I enjoyed it.

The whole day was like that. It was one attractive woman after another and it felt like a reward for all my years of frustration. I wish I could bottle whatever vibe I was giving off today so I could either sell it or spray it under my arms when I need it but it was working. I left the thrift store in a great mood and went over to Ponderosa in Waukegan for lunch.

I don’t know why I wanted to go there but I knew I needed some salad in my pipes. I am trying to eat better but it’s always a struggle. Red meat and Oreos taste too damn good for me to give them up no matter how hard I try. I like that particular Ponderosa for the super staff of nice people that work there. It’s right near the auction and I’ve become a regular.

Ponderosa in itself isn’t that great but this one rocks because of the people. One of them is an Asian lady again about my age who is not only a sweetheart but very sexy as well. I can’t help but notice her and every time I come when she’s working she treats me like a superstar. She was working today and again I happened to sit in her section. Another one!

She doesn’t have any rings either and I asked her what she was doing Valentine’s Day and she frowned and said she had to work. I don’t know if she’s single but I know she has a couple of kids but that’s ok. She went on her break before I left but I still counted it as a thumbs up from the fate department to get the hot chick both cutting my hair and at lunch.

Tonight was the best of them all. I had a dinner date with a woman I’ve known for years but haven’t seen in a while. We went out to lunch about a year ago and it was really fun at the time and we kept saying we’d do it again but one thing after another kept coming up. I thought she was blowing me off but I didn’t get angry or shut her off like I’d normally do.

I just let it slide and tonight was the night we both could make it. She picked out a place to eat which was not far for either one of us. She lives in the area and has all of her life so I guess it was good that I moved up to Lake Villa after all. If I didn’t it would have been a long drive in from the city. She’s definitely worth it though. She showed up looking hot.

I played it cool because last time she mentioned she was single but still had feelings for her old boyfriend so I just let it go. I didn’t stalk her or comment on it or anything else but enjoy her company because she not only is scorching but also a sweetheart. We talked for a while and ate for a while and talked some more and again it was just all very laid back.

I’d love to see her again and she said she’d love to see me too. Whether or not it’s true doesn’t really matter. At least she said it. It’s tough to read because I got the old hug but no kiss at the end. It’s tough to read when you’ve known someone for many years. We’ve always gotten along well and she’s always been attractive but not like now. She melts me.

There are a lot of beautiful women but she’s smart and funny too. Plus, she’s great with money and wants to travel someday in the near future. Bingo! Sign me up. I will see how all of this develops but for tonight it was pretty good. At least I’m opening myself up to a few possibilities of finding a mate rather than staying on the road and chasing the comedy mistress like I have for so many years. I’m changing my vibe and my results are changing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Smart Use Of Time

Monday February 11th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Finally a productive day of work. Finally. I’ve been floating around randomly like a fish turd lately with no real direction and that needs to stop. I think it’s doable to have a lot of things going but there has to be some kind of a plan in place with a logical order. I have a tendency to be all over the place and for whatever reason it’s a constant struggle to focus.

Mondays have been my busiest day of the week and I don’t mind it at all. It was back to a full day today after a couple of weeks of from Zanies. I still had to be at the WLS studio to be on Jerry Agar’s show so that makes it a full day. The train leaves at 6:55am and it’s a ten minute walk to the station a few blocks away. Today seemed longer due to the cold.

I had my jokes already written so that felt good. Rather than try to sleep or just sit there staring out the window I started reading a mail order book I just bought on Ebay. I am on the hunt for anything and everything I can find about the mail order business to help get a plan together so I can actually make this idea pay off. So far I haven’t sold one thing yet.

I’ve acquired a nice collection of mail order books to browse through and if I don’t buy another one I’ll have enough reading for at least the rest of the year. I’m set on books for the time being but that doesn’t mean I still won’t keep looking for them. I want to acquire as much knowledge as I can about this business and have a heads up approach as I begin.

‘257 Ways To Avoid Wasting Money In Mail Order - And Grow Richer!’ is the title of the book and I must say if I was the author that wouldn’t be the title I’d choose. I decided to buy it because I hadn’t heard of it before even though it cost me $13 plus $3 shipping.

Normally I haven’t paid even close to that for most of my books because I fish through a lot of thrift stores and rummage sales but I thought this was a good gamble so I risked it. I am very glad I did. It was a short book but packed with useful information for someone like me who is starting out. The author really spelled it out and made it easy to follow.

It was short enough where I could get through most of it in my two train rides and it got me in a good mindset about how I want to run my business. It was filled with useful tips a person at my level could really use. I try to be the same way with all my comedy students. I know they’re not always ready to hear what I say but I say it anyway in case someone is.

I got home at 3:10 and checked email and took a nap for an hour and then got in my car and started driving into the city to host the show at Zanies. I stopped at the UPS store and picked up a load of mail and then went next door and got my dry cleaning so it was a very productive day all around. I wasn’t rushed so I wasn’t in a high stress mode. It was calm.

The Zanies showcase was absolutely fantastic. The audience was small in number but a great group of people who wanted to laugh. The lineup of comedians this week was really strong too and it was good for everyone. I sat back and watched the comics destroy and it was fun to observe. They worked hard. I got paid. THIS is something I could get used to.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stone Cold Truth

Sunday February 10th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Another nasty blast of stone cold frozen nose sub arctic brutal polar bear weather today. It was one of those days where it was painful to be outside for even a few minutes and the kind of weather that would make anyone want to move to Honduras immediately. This is the kind of weather I remember as a kid growing up and I never liked it back then either.

But who does? There aren’t any families that I know of making the trek from San Diego to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because they ‘dig the frosty scene’. This isn’t how we humans should be living in my opinion but that’s just me. Mother Nature seems to have a different idea. Millions of us are dealing with this right now and not one of us enjoys it.

I remember my grandmother telling me horror stories of having to use the outdoor toilet in weather like this and thinking about it today still made me shudder. It’s hard enough to sit on a cold toilet seat indoors much less having to wade through two feet of snow for the honor of hovering over a hole in an outhouse where snow drifts come through the cracks.

We really do have it amazingly good right now and I for one am thankful for it. I met up with my friend Gary Pansch for lunch today up in Racine, WI. He has coupons for food at a great truck stop up there because he works for the company. We get together once every few months to talk about life and comedy and today was the day we had planned to do it.

Yes it was cold getting to the car but after a few minutes the car warmed up and I made it to the restaurant right on time. We sat around and talked about comedy ideas and things that might sell on Uranus Factory Outlet and enjoyed a great meal. Gary is a very creative guy and an excellent comic but he chooses not to pursue it full time because of the road.

He’s not one to live the road life and not everyone can do it. His dad was a truck driver all his life and we talked about how important truckers really are. They haul all the luxury stuff we enjoy and don’t even think about like oranges from Florida and lobsters from out east and everything else that gets put on the shelves of our local stores all across America.

I don’t know why it took such a cold day to make me appreciate how much I have at my fingertips but I sure did. I have warm clothes and a car that starts and a nice INSIDE place to take a dump whenever I need to. Plus I have a HOT shower available to me at any time and I don’t take any of that for granted. Driving home I had a deep feeling of gratitude.

We all complain about life’s injustices and I am at the top of that list sometimes. I know it could be better but it sure could be a lot worse too. I bet there are a lot of unhappy mugs working in a forced labor camp in Siberia who have to suffer these horrors all the time. If I only have to do it for a little while I can shut up and deal with it. I have other stuff to do.

This week coming up is important. I don’t have any comedy gigs booked other than the Zanies new talent showcase tomorrow so I need to use the cold weather to hole up and get my indoor chores caught up. This is the time to work harder, not sit around and complain.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Racine Theatre Guild

Saturday February 9th, 2008 - Racine, WI

I’m starting to get spoiled. I worked in yet another wonderful theatre space tonight and I had a blast. The last two weeks I was at the Northern Lights Theatre up in Milwaukee and tonight I performed at the Racine Theatre Guild. It’s a gorgeous venue with a super sound system and an audience that came to laugh. Shows like this are what I always dreamed of.

My friend Steve DeClark set up this show. He and I go back as far as there is to go with comedy in Milwaukee. We started in the early 80s at a place called Sardino’s on Farwell. It’s the same place Al Jarreau started his singing career and it’s since been torn down but they had a comedy night there on Mondays and that’s where I first met Steve back then.

He went out to L.A. and played the Hollywood game and did pretty well and then came back to raise a family in Wisconsin. He is a social worker and is very good at it but he is a lifer in comedy just like me. He now does plays mostly and is very good at that too but he set this show up because the Racine Theatre Guild has been doing a comedy series lately.

It was a great deal for me because all I had to do was show up and go up. I love to work onstage and if I can do that I am happy. Setting up shows is not what I enjoy even though it’s a necessary evil. The show part is more fun than the business at least for me. Steve is good at it so there is no competition from me. I just want to perform for good audiences.

Tonight’s audience was superb. They got the jokes and the subtleties and all of the local references too. When I come back to Wisconsin I can really punch it up with that kind of stuff and it’s fun for me to hear them laugh in recognition when I mention something they know. It really forms a bond between them and me and takes it all to a whole new level.

I had a whole bunch of material left over that I didn’t get a chance to perform. I guess it was because there was so much time eaten up by laughing and applause breaks. That’s the best problem in the world to have as a performer but sometimes I like to stretch bits out in length so I can ad lib some things if I feel like it. Tonight I kept it tight and still had things left over. I didn’t want to go too long so I ended it when I felt they had laughed enough.

That can be a tough call when it’s going well. The natural tendency is to keep going for as long as the material holds out but sometimes there can be a point of saturation where it doesn’t need to be extended. They’ve laughed enough and it’s time to say goodnight. I’ve usually had a good barometer for that over the years and tonight I felt they’d had enough.

These are the kinds of places I want to work. Clubs can be fun on Saturdays when there is a full house of paid customers but the week day half empty or less drunk fests aren’t the thing I need to be doing anymore. These last three weeks are where I want to be and that’s what I will be hoping to book in the future if I can. I know I can rock these kind of shows.

It was a pleasure sitting after the show and having people line up to tell me how funny I was and shake my hand. I thanked every one of them and meant it. This was a fun night.

A Second Opinion

Friday February 8th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

No gig tonight. I don’t like to be off on a weekend and I’m usually not. I have a show at the Racine Theatre Guild tomorrow night and that should be fun by all accounts but that’s tomorrow. Nothing tonight. That always bothers me right around show time. I feel like an orphan that missed a train and has nowhere else to go. If it’s a weekend I want to work.

I did a lot of soul searching and deep thinking today. Many comedians I know are some of the deepest thinking people around but nobody wants to hear that. They want the jokes and nothing else. Most comedians that evolve into actors want to play that serious role at some point but most times those movies bomb. Which successful comedian has done it?

Robin Williams has done a ton of movies but has any of his big hits been a serious role? Jim Carrey is another one. He’s always said he wants to do a serious role but I doubt if an audience would flock to see it. He’s established himself as a comic and that’s what he has to deliver his fans to satisfy them. Most comedians have a very serious side. I know I do.

There is a very delicate balance as to when to let the serious side out. Most people think comedians are on all the time and nothing fazes them and everything is bright and happy. Ha! That seemed odd to even type that statement but it’s absolutely true. Countless times I have met someone after a show and had them tell me ‘Wow, I sure wish had your life. It must be so carefree and fun all the time.’ I smile and nod trying not to laugh in their face.

Today I thought about my future and what I should do right now. Having the lunch with Marc Schultz yesterday got a lot of wheels turning in my head. I thought a lot about all of what he said as far as getting hired in the corporate market. I’m not sure if that’s what I’d be happiest doing even if it does pay a lot better. I asked myself what I really want to do.

I want to have FUN. I’ve always done things that have been fun to me and maybe it has cost me financially but at least I have some good stories. Is that the smartest thing to keep doing now? I really thought it over and I have to say honestly the answer is a giant YES!

I’m already living like a cockroach and I’m used to it. I could have had a nice house and a new car and a lot of the other toys of corporate American lifestyle but I chose to go into a field I love. I still may have the financial payoff at some point but if I don’t I have loved the path I’ve chosen even if there have been many bumps. I made the right choice in life.

Now I need to choose again and take the comedy business to a different angle. Should it be safe or a risk? That’s the basic choice and after a whole day of thinking hard about the situation I’m in I decided to keep taking the risks. That’s my gut feeling and I am going to follow it until I feel otherwise. So much for the corporate world, I’m headed for Uranus.

That’s the project I need to focus on. Period. I am already an established comedian and I will get work just by osmosis. People I work for know I do the job and as long as they are in business I will get calls for work. I might not get rich but I will be able to pay my bills.

What will put me over the top is making this business work. Uranus Factory Outlet will put me on the map in many ways if I can pull it off like I envision. The problem is that for my entire life NOTHING has gone like I envisioned. There’s always a glitch somewhere.

I needed to get my mail again today so I headed into Chicago to the UPS Store on North Avenue near Zanies. On the way in I got a call from Jerry Agar asking if I wanted to have dinner with him and his wife Ann. He was downtown so I swung by and picked him up at the radio station. I was in a brooding mood and he is one of the people who I can talk to.

Jerry has struggled a lot in radio to get to WLS and I’m thrilled for his success but he is not guaranteed of any job security at all. Not yet. He told me he walks around his house in the early morning when he’s getting ready for work and thinks it could all get taken away in a day if he loses his job. That’s how radio people think and I’ve been in that boat too.

We were laughing about all the times we called each other after we got fired in the past but it wouldn’t be funny if it happened now. He’s got a lot riding on this gig. His kids are all entrenched in schools now and having to move again would be torture. He’s risking all his marbles that this will be his payoff after a lifetime of risks and I hope he’s on target.

Jerry’s wife Ann has been a saint through all of this. She has not only supported Jerry’s radio habit but also was a great mother to their three kids as they criss crossed the country over the years. Before that she worked as an advertising executive in Minneapolis and did a lot of work with McDonald’s. She understands the corporate world and I need that help.

The kids were all doing school things so the three of us sat at a restaurant and had ideas about what would make Uranus Factory Outlet work. Jerry and I are more of the maverick mentality but Ann has been in the real world of big business and was very helpful. She sat with us and brainstormed from a position of what would or wouldn’t work in that world.

We were at an Italian restaurant that had the big paper square over the linen table cloth and we just wrote ideas on the paper. People around us were trying not to stare but I could see them looking at us out of the corner of their eye and wondering what we were doing. I love to have idea sessions and they were all piping in with thoughts. It was productive.

Ann is a wonderful person but her sense of humor is a lot more reserved than Jerry’s or mine. Different people have different tastes in a lot of areas and her humor is not like the majority of the people I hang around. That’s not good or bad, it just is. Most of network TV’s idea of ‘humor’ on a sitcom doesn’t make me laugh but millions of people watch it.

That’s why Ann was so important in all of this. She gets this joke. She thinks it’s funny and so does her mother who is a very straight but hip lady who lives in Minneapolis. Ann has had a lot of experience in what sells to the public and having worked for McDonald’s she can tell what will or won’t work for the masses. She thinks this is a wonderful idea to pursue and offered a lot of ideas I hadn’t thought of at all. This settled the issue once and for all. Sink or swim I will be the King of Uranus. Now I need to decide what that means.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ball Of Confusion

February 7th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Back to disorganization. I was going stir crazy today and wanted to get out of my holed up gopher state and smell some outside air. I called up my friend Marc Schultz to see if a lunch was available and then I planned to go down to my mailbox in Chicago to pick up a load of mail. I still haven’t gotten all of my 1099s even though it’s way past the deadline.

Lunch with Marc is always relaxing and today was no different. We can talk about a lot of things but today we talked about what would put me over the top as a comedian. He’s a big supporter of mine and a booker of all kinds of acts and he said I have the talent but we need to package it in a way that he can sell it better. What I have now just doesn’t cut it.

I’ll need to really focus on keeping it clean if I do that and I’ll have to revert back to the suit and tie look I have used in the past. I don’t mind it at all but appearance does make an impact on a comedian’s character. I feel comfortable in a suit but someone pointed out to me that Mr. Lucky shouldn’t wear one because he’s not doing that well. That made sense.

But it really doesn’t matter unfortunately. I could be a white collar guy with bad luck or problems ala Drew Carey’s character. He always wore a suit and it fit him. I don’t really care which way it goes, I just want to work. I love being a comedian but the real money is in clean shows for larger groups of people. Many times those are in a corporate situation.

Marc is a great guy and has done well for himself since taking over his father’s agency. He’s been in the entertainment business his whole life and that’s why I listen to him. He’s very experienced and sharp and he’s in my corner and wants me to succeed. Yes of course I’d give him a cut if I got hot in that market but I know that’s not the reason he’s doing it.

We would make a great team though. He would represent me exclusively in those kinds of shows and he’s very credible doing it. He knows how to write contracts and has been a licensed agent for over twenty years. Higher paying convention type work can feel safe if they get a recommendation from a real agent. We talked about how to get into that circle.

Again, funny isn’t the first requirement. It’s being SAFE. I can work that way and have done it countless times but I’ll admit that’s not my first choice. My first choice is to go on stage and read the audience and let it rip to their vibe. More often than not I keep it on the clean side anyway but once in a while in the right situation I can pepper it up if I want to.

I grew up around bikers for goodness sakes. There isn’t a word or phrase or grouping of words and phrases that could ever make me flinch. I spent most of my childhood hearing my grandmother swear a lot worse than any biker gang combined. She could light it up as well as anyone I’ve ever heard so as far as I’m concerned those words don’t have impact.

That’s not the case in doing comedy however. It’s THE biggest fear of every booker and in the higher paid corporate type shows it’s to the point of obsession. If I did go that route I’d have to totally retool my sales package. I’m not sure if I can do that now. It’s too late.

Or is it? It never hurts to have options for work and if I could get booked 15-20 times a year it would probably pay all my bills. Unfortunately doing something like this is not just a part time thing. I’d probably have to go full bore into it and sell myself to other agencies around the country and that’s a huge task that would take lots of time and money to do.

And then there’s the King of Uranus. As goofy as that whole concept is I think it will be a big moneymaker if I can make it happen. I’m not that far away but I still don’t have any way of guaranteeing it will pay off in the short run. That is a completely different angle to work on and talking it over with Marc we agreed that doing both would be confusing.

At least I took the time to talk about it though. Just launching into something without an idea of where I want it to go is a mistake. I’ve already gotten things started as far as doing the Uranus business but I wanted to hedge my bets and see what Marc thought would give me a shot to really break through the pack. He’s got lots of experience and I respect that.

As much as I like and respect him I still don’t think he understands what I’m looking to do with the whole Uranus gimmick. He’s very traditional and that’s good because that’s a market that pays a living wage. He doesn’t waste his time on rinky dink stuff and that’s a thing we both agree on. I’m not looking to be the king of the small time toilets anymore.

Working places like the Northern Lights Theatre are where I want to be. I love working in those kinds of venues because it’s how show business should be. There is an attitude of respect just walking into a nice venue that adds an aura of professionalism. I am ready for those kinds of places and I want to claim my spot in them. But how can I best enter them?

I really don’t know for sure. The worst thing I can do is try to please everyone and I am not even thinking about that. I asked Marc what would put me over in his world of people who book higher paying shows and he told me the truth. It may not be what I wanted him to tell me but I know he didn’t sugar coat it. Now it’s up to me as to how I respond to it.

Doing what he said would cost me several thousand dollars in promo but it would pay a handsome dividend should I land a lot of work in that area. I’m just about the age where I could start doing that and it would pay me a lot more than I’m making now. Would it be a case of selling out? Maybe it would but what’s wrong with that? I’m in business to eat.

On the other hand I could keep going with the Uranus idea and use that to put myself on a different level by getting media attention. That’s a much bigger risk but it would be a lot more fun that’s for sure. It could be miserable though if it hits big and I’m trapped into an identity of ‘King of Uranus’ 24 hours a day. I don’t want to be the new Pee Wee Herman.

This is a very crucial time in my life and career and I didn’t think it would hurt to get an opinion from someone I trust. Plus it was good to get out of the house even if I did have a hard time digging my car out of the snow. It was completely buried. I got my mail but I’m still missing a few 1099s. Comedy clubs aren’t the best record keepers many times so it’s a good thing I have been getting better at it. I shouldn’t have any tax problems this year.

Cold Cocked

Wednesday February 6th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

A snow day! I didn’t leave the house all day and I felt like I was back in school again. It was a chance to catch up on some of the things I’ve been letting go and I did make a little bit of progress but not as much as I would have liked to. I took some cold medicine and it knocked me out. I laid down for a nap about 2pm and didn’t wake up until 7:30. Yikes.

That’s more than a nap. That’s bordering on mini coma. Cold medicine always takes me out even if it says ‘non drowsy’. I don’t know what it is but I know it’s true. I’m glad I am not a druggie because I’d probably either be dead by now or a total junkie. I wanted to not be sick for my show on Saturday and I felt something coming on so I took some medicine to help drive it out of my system. It also drove all my energy away and I zonked out cold.

These are about the only drug stories I will ever have. Most of my friends growing up at least tried drugs at some point and many comedians are more than casual users. I’ve often been in a comedy condo on the road somewhere where the other two comedians are doing bong hits on the couch while I’m trying to watch Sportscenter. It never looked fun to me.

I’m not trying to be holier than thou but I’ve never done illegal drugs. Not once. I never smoked even one puff of a joint or did a line of coke or ate psychedelic mushrooms or did heroin or dropped acid. I’ve known people who’ve done it all. There aren’t a lot of happy stories associated with drugs. I’ve never heard ‘Hey! I shot some smack and found a job!’

I’ve had more than one person tell me they thought I should drop acid. Hey, thanks! To get that kind of advice is almost as smart as a stock broker telling me to buy Enron shares. The people who told me all said it would ‘expand my mind’ and let me see things in quite a new light. I don’t know if I’d like that new light and I’m not going to take any chances.

I’m happy with my creativity quotient as it is. That’s not the problem. The problem is a matter of taking action. That’s the hard part for everyone. It’s easy to have ideas whether they’re drug induced or not. Making them come to life is an entirely different situation. It takes careful planning and daily effort and it’s never easy. Being on drugs wouldn’t help.

The day wasn’t a total loss as I went right to work when I woke up. I worked on sorting all of my tax 1099s from last year and getting my list of bookers ready to hit up for work. I really need to do a booker blast just to touch base and let them know I’m still available. I have enough work for the time being but keeping on a booker’s radar is a constant job.

I also heard from my friend Shelley who is going to be helping me reorganize my whole website. Her sister in law is a web designer and Shelley is very sharp herself. I have good feelings about hiring them to help me revamp the whole thing and start all over. I need it.

Shelley is a former student and I trust her. Plus she’s a Packer fan so that’s a big plus as well. Getting new blood in my website will improve it dramatically and it couldn’t come at a better time. Inch by inch I’m starting to get myself in gear. Let’s see about tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back To Uranus

Tuesday February 5th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

I’m way too scattered and it needs to stop. I’m not sure if I can. All the things I’m doing are fun to me and I like working on them all but when I spend time on one thing all of the others get left to rot on the vine. Then I go do something else and what I was just doing is thrown on the dung heap for a while. I have to seriously think of how to pack all of it in.

Doing it the way I’m doing it isn’t working. I’m all over the place. Today I had to go up to Milwaukee to record an interview for WMYX radio that will run on Friday morning. It plugs the show I’m doing this Saturday night at the Racine Theatre Guild. I can’t blow the interview off so I had to drive up there and do it in the studio. That wiped out work time.

I realize it’s not torture to do a radio interview and it could be a lot worse but today was a day I wanted to get refocused on Uranus Factory Outlet. That’s my big dream but I have been letting it fall through the cracks and it’s frustrating. Too many other things have had to get done and my big project is laying dormant. So is my movie script too. That’s bad.

Taxes are going to be coming up too and I need to work on those in addition to working out who will be doing both my personal website and the Uranus one too. That’s not what I planned on but my former business partner has left me in the trick bag. I haven’t had any time to even look for a new person yet because I’ve been out working a lot doing shows.

And what about my comedy classes? I love teaching those and would like to continue it both live and online but again I just don’t have the time to organize it. My partner was the administrator of those too and he did do a good job at that part of it but now that’s gone. I see other classes popping up in the area and they’ll all find out how hard it is. I did it first.

Just because someone is first doesn’t always mean they’re the biggest or wealthiest. The restaurant business is packed with examples of that. Howard Johnson’s was in business a long time before Denny’s or Perkins but I don’t see many around. White Castle started in 1921 but McDonald’s blew them and everyone else out of the water. Ray Kroc was king.

I need to be a Ray Kroc at something. Is it comedy classes? Standup comedy itself? It’s not easy to revolutionize anything and there has to be luck and timing involved too. What should I focus my limited time on that will net the biggest return? I wish I knew. I love to do comedy and I love to teach classes and I love the idea of being the King of Uranus too.

I also love to wheel and deal sports cards. Buying a load of those on Ebay didn’t help at all but in the long run it will be ok. For now I need to drop most of what I’m doing and do the things that need to be done first. Getting up with no plan every day and working on all of these things randomly is not the smart way to do it but that’s exactly what I’ve done.

This week is going to be key because I’m only working on Saturday night. I have a very good opportunity to get myself straightened out and back on some kind of regular plan so I can make the best use of my time. There’s a lot of stuff to do between Earth and Uranus.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Back To Boot Camp

Monday February 4th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Back to the salt mines today. It was a fantastic weekend in many ways but now it’s over and I need to move forward. The Giants won the Super Bowl yesterday but they also need to start focusing on next season. They might get a few days to enjoy it a little but I’ll bet a lot sooner than later they’ll start getting themselves prepared for a new set of challenges.

That’s what I’m doing too. Whatever mental tweaks I’m finally getting over after all my years of struggling with them are great but that’s not what is going to put me in a position to have a career and financial security. It may get me READY for it but now I need to get a plan of action going and do something about it. I can’t and won’t let myself get lazy.

That’s the worst thing I could do. Improvement never stops. NEVER. It’s like owning a house. As soon as the roof is fixed the furnace needs to be replaced. Then the water heater goes. It never stops. Comedy never stops either. I am always looking to get either booked more or for more money and that alone is a difficult job in itself. Then there is onstage.

I’m due for a major overhaul on myself both onstage and off. I’ve fallen behind with all my booking contacts and although my shows have been really strong lately in my deepest heart I know I need to move on and improve myself. I’m getting bored with what I do and that’s never good. If it’s fresh to me it will help me sell it to the audience. I need to grow.

That’s why I signed up for another Gene Perret comedy writing course. Gene is the best there is and I always learn from him. He was Bob Hope’s head writer for 20 years and it’s worth every penny to study the structure of jokes with him for a 12 week course. I think it will be my third or fourth time taking it now. It isn’t inexpensive but I’ll gladly pay for it.

It’s an investment in myself and my future. I know Bob Hope’s comedy style isn’t what most comedians use today but the discipline of daily writing and improvement is never an out of style thing. Many times it’s the last thing a comedian works on just because there’s a ton of other things to do. I want to really make an effort to improve my onstage product.

Everyone is telling me how funny I am lately but none of that is going to my head at all. I know I can do WAY better and I will. I have enormously high standards for myself that others don’t see and if I just keep working I really believe I can get there. That’s the fun.

I once read where Julius Erving said something similar. His standards for himself were a lot higher than everyone else’s and he pushed himself to his limits. I am not doing that in a comedic sense so taking this course is a great step forward. Gene will get me going in the right direction and it will help me write jokes for Uranus Factory Outlet too. I need it.

I felt like the WLS radio bit was a little weak on that level today. We got by with some riffing on the Super Bowl and it was ok but I was woefully unprepared with actual jokes. It’s great that I can ad lib and I love to do it but that doesn’t change the fact I still need to stay sharp with my joke writing. Taking the class with Gene will be a much needed boost.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Super Sunday

Sunday February 3rd, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Super Bowl Sunday. The last thing I intended to do today was watch the game since my beloved Packers got squeezed out but I got a call from Bill Gorgo inviting me over for his own mini Super Bowl party. I’ll always say yes when I get a call from Bill because I’ll get a heaping helping of great grub included in the deal. That boy knows how to chow down.

Corned beef was the fare of the day and it was fantastic. Hanging out and relaxing while watching football and eating corned beef sandwiches is a hard thing to turn down. We all loved the game and if the Packers weren’t in it I was happy to see the Giants win. They’re the team of destiny this year and they deserved to win it all. The underdogs got their bone.

I wonder if Michael Vick got to watch the game in prison? I bet he wasn’t eating corned beef sandwiches and hanging out with friends like I got to so that made it even better. The food and company were both outstanding and that’s another thing I have to be grateful for in my life. There are a lot of good things happening to me right now and I am claiming it.

I’m still on a high from the shows last night in Milwaukee. The whole night was just so much fun all around. The time on stage was electric but it was more than that. The people who made it a point to come out and see me is what made it special. Even some people in the audience who hadn’t seen me before came up and told me how much they enjoyed it.

One guy in his mid 40s came up and said ‘Thanks for taking me back to my childhood. I could relate to everything you said and my shirt is wet from laughing so hard I cried.’ It doesn’t get any better than that and when he shook my hand I could tell he really meant it.

Making a connection like that with a stranger really tells me I’m hitting my comic stride.
It’s important to note this time in my life because I can feel it’s about to get even better. I have been slaying my Milwaukee hometown dragon for a couple of years now and every time I come back and perform I have been having experiences like this over and over. It’s a mental victory every time someone comes up and tells me they really enjoyed my show.

I don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore. That’s all over with now. The people that think I’m a tool will always think that and no matter what I do to try and make up for it they are determined to be angry with me no matter how sorry I am. If I could change the things I did in the past I would but I can’t and if they don’t forgive me that’s their choice.

But those people are the ones with the problems, not me. I am getting stronger in a very good way and for every one of them who still treat me like soiled shorts there are a whole lot more who don’t. I have earned my stripes but I can’t please everyone so why even try? The ones who like it are getting larger in number and the ones who don’t are in the past.

There are a lot of new challenges in my life I want to attempt and my mindset is exactly where it needs to be right now. I haven’t had a bad depression bout in months but I’m not guaranteed I won’t in the future. As for today life is starting to heat up and get interesting.

Dreams Come True

Saturday February 2nd, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI

What a night! My show business dream came true. I was at the Northern Lights Theatre for the second week in a row and I had a blast for the second week in a row. It’s a fun gig on many levels and everything went according to plan or better. That doesn’t happen very much in my life so when it does I need to acknowledge it, claim it and hope to do it again.

I think some of the dents are finally starting to come out of my can. Tonight’s vibe was how I always thought it was supposed to be and how I pictured it way back when I started doing comedy. I was a different person then and very confused and hurting and wanting a chance to prove myself in any way I could. That’s what most people in show business are.

We all want that acceptance we missed or thought we missed as a kid and entertaining a group of total strangers is about as close a substitute for the real thing as it gets. Applause and laughter is medicine to us and we’ll do anything to get it. It’s very difficult but we’ve got to have it so that makes it even more stressful and sometimes takes away the fun of it.

All I really wanted when I started was to be recognized in my home town of Milwaukee as a comedian. Period. I didn’t need national fame or have any Hollywood dreams then. It only meant something to be recognized in the home town. Looking back on it I think I am like so many others who have turned to comedy in that it was a veiled cry for family love.

I talk to other comedians all the time and most of them have stories of how they’ve had horrible experiences trying to do the same thing. Many of them don’t even get a chance to work in their own home towns because they’ve had a falling out with their local comedy club. If it’s a one club town as most are they have no choice but to find work elsewhere.

That was the story with me for many years. I had a major falling out with the spawn of Satan dark lord who owns one of the comedy clubs in Milwaukee. He had a benefit show for me when I had my car accident in 1993 and kept the money. He’s a bad guy and treats comedians like dirt. He bounces checks and tries to pretend he’s a gangster and it’s all an unpleasant scene. Nobody likes him but comedians will still kiss his ass to get stage time.

If there’s one thing I’ve never tolerated it’s a bully. My father was a bully and I stood up to him from an early age and I did with this guy too. Coincidentally (or not) he associated himself with the same horde of biker maggots as my father did and that made me have the urge to stand up to him even more. I’ve always stood up to bullies. I’ve gotten myself in a lot of trouble for it on occasion but more often than not they’re cowards and back down.

I’ll be the first one to admit I had a chip on my shoulder and when I was starting I often clashed with people in authority because I didn’t respect their position. I think respect has to be earned no matter who it is, myself included. A lot of others don’t think that way. It’s a difference of opinion that has cost me a lot of work over the years but if I had to do this all over again I have to say I’d probably still be the same way. I might have handled how I did it a little differently but I still believe the basic principle that respect has to be earned.

The sad thing is that none of this really matters in the big scheme of show business. It’s a dirty and ugly business at times and integrity is often swept under a rug to make a buck. I always wanted to be a good person first and being known for that is just as important to me as being recognized for being a good comedian. I know that’s nuts but it’s totally true.

That’s why these last two weeks working in Milwaukee have been so special. It’s been a lifetime of slaying dragons for me both inner and outer. I’ve always had a bitter taste in my mouth for Milwaukee because I was treated so poorly here starting out. It really is the worst place I can think of to start out in any kind of entertainment because it’s so tough.

The audiences aren’t impressed with much and are as a rule cheap and sparse and if you can get even a peep out of a Milwaukee crowd you will get huge reaction anywhere else. I always felt like an outsider even though I was from here and whenever I’d come back for a show I always had to throw in a few jokes to bash the city just to get back at the source.

The scum bucket club owner who pulled his little money stunt on me is still slithering around but I really don’t care anymore. He’s not the only game in town and what hurt so badly years ago has totally turned around. I outlasted him and have matured onstage and off and now not only am I a nationally touring headliner I can come back home as well.

Everything I always wanted to happen in comedy in Milwaukee happened in these last two weeks. I worked a beautiful room with a great sound system and it was fabulous. For all the gigs I did starting out in some smoke filled hell hole corner bar it was a treat to be at the Northern Lights Theatre. Just walking in the place makes me feel like I’ve made it.

I was all over the media too. I had my name in lights on the marquee which everybody could see on the freeway and I was in the paper and on the radio ads too. Back in the day nobody would list a comedy show at all even in the smallest of nose blower news rags.

Last week and this week I had too many people to list come out to see me because they heard about it in the media and it made me feel like a big star. I had people from all parts of my past come out from those I went to school with to former coworkers to people that used to hear me on the radio when I worked for 93QFM. Every one of them not only had fun but they were waiting in line after all the shows to tell me how far I’ve come in life.

They sure are right. I have come far in my life and I appreciated every one of those who came to see me beyond words. Each of the four shows the last two Saturdays had a line of people waiting to see me afterwards to tell me how great I was. What a fantastic feeling! I felt like a king and I thanked every one of them for showing up. This made it all worth it.

I’m not getting cocky or looking to cop an attitude. I got whatever revenge I wanted for whatever it is that hurt so much all those years ago. My father is still dead and he’ll never give me the acceptance I wanted but the Milwaukee audiences did and that felt wonderful and I appreciate the chance to experience it. Too many times in show business it’s easy to forget when it goes well. Not me. I’m savoring every bit of this. It took a lifetime to get.