Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back To The Script

Wednesday April 30th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

At a time of need it’s great to have a good partner. I’ve been bouncing in and out of one of my infamous funks the last few days and I’ve been really trying not to let it get too out of control. When I get like this it makes me want to avoid everyone and that’s not what is going to help me break out of it. I think it’s better to force myself to work right through it.

That’s what I did today. My writing partner Rick Kaempfer has a fantastic work ethic. It probably comes at least partially from his German heritage. My grandmother was German and she could out work a platoon of Marines when she got going. She was about 5’2” but that didn’t stop her from shoveling snow or pulling weeds or whatever else needed doing.

Grandma was always wiping and scrubbing and washing and cleaning and it didn’t stop for sundown or Sundays. It used to drive me nuts but that’s how she was. Rick is a whole lot more laid back but he still gets things done. I couldn’t have picked a better partner for this script project. We get going and then it stops and then he’s right back to work again.

That’s exactly what I need with this project. The story really is fascinating but I lived it and it’s very painful to go back to that place. I had to testify in court against my childhood best friend and to this day I have nightmares about it. He forced me into that horrible ugly situation but I wasn’t going to prison for a bank robbery I didn’t commit. Who would?

It still didn’t make it easy. That whole period of my life was one torturous kick after the next and I’d rather just forget it but it really does make a fascinating story. Rick is the one who convinced me I should see it through to completion and I haven’t been keeping up on my end of the bargain lately. I’ve been dealing with my new problems but it’s no excuse.

One of my goals this year was to finish that script and SELL it so I can move on and not have to think about it anymore. It’s like a baby inside my brain and it’s kicking to get out. Once the script is sold I’m sure the movie will not be anything like what really happened but that’s ok. I just want it to be a good movie. That’s why I don’t want to have a big role.

I’m not an actor and never claimed to be. I wouldn’t mind a cameo in it somewhere but starring in it has never been my goal. This happened in my 20s and I think it should be for a pair of up and coming actors who can play the pair of lifelong best friends. Actually the fun role to play will probably be the bank robber. He ends up turning to the dark side.

Nobody is going to play anyone until I get the damn thing finished and sell it. Even then there’s no guarantee it’s ever going to get made but I really think this story is too strong to not get made. It’s got a lot of twists and turns and everyone who’s heard it is mesmerized.

That’s why I need to get cranking on it again. I talked to Rick today and we both agreed that it’s time to get back to work. I have some time off this next few months and I have no excuse not to finish this project. We made a goal of July 1st and I really think we can do it by then. I need to drop what I’m doing and make this happen. The clock is now ticking.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Supporting A Friend

Tuesday April 29th, 2008 - Highland Park, IL

One of the greatest benefits I’ve enjoyed in a lifetime of being in and around comedy is having a stellar list of wonderful souls I’ve been able to meet and call friends. I have a lot of problems too but whenever I get low I know there are many people who I really admire and respect and am proud to have in my life. It gives me a glimmer of hope in the world.

I’ve found throughout my life that the people who have a good sharp sense of humor are the only people I truly care about. They are usually not only funny but also intelligent and there’s a heaping helping of kindness in the mix as well. They come in all colors and ages and ethnicities and they brighten everyone around them. I treasure these people in my life.

Many of them are comedians but a lot more aren’t. Teaching classes for as long as I did put me in contact with literally hundreds of people who had that spark inside of them and I never get sick of being around that. Some of them pursued comedy as a career but most of them just wanted to see what it was all about. I love staying in contact with all of them.

One of those people is Arif Choudhury. Arif took my class a few years ago and we have stayed in touch off and on like so many other students and I do. He is a CPA by day but is involved in all kinds of other stuff too. He’s dabbled in comedy and also is interested in a career in film making. A couple of years ago he also started storytelling. He stays busy.

Arif is one of my very favorite people. He’s laid back and a gentle soul and a person or audience can’t help but like the guy. His inner kid is always out and he’s about as easy to deal with as anyone I’ve ever met. Whenever I hear from him it always cheers me up.

All that being said I received an email from him today saying he was performing over at the Highland Park public library doing his storytelling material. He has always been really supportive of my comedy classes and has even recorded a few so I felt I owed it to him to return the favor and go and show support. That’s what friends do and I’m so glad I went.

He drew a nice crowd and had a very strong set which he recorded to put on a CD. He’s got some great stories and with his extreme likeability he really pulled off a super show. It wasn’t a standup comedy show but that’s not what he claimed it was. It was much deeper.

Here’s a dark skinned guy who’s Bangladeshi-American and a Muslim. Think he didn’t have any trouble after 9/11? I have my own problems but it’s not that. I remember back in class he had a long beard and it was pretty intimidating on stage. He had to deal with how he looked but he was so likeable and gentle that in a very short time people got over it.

Arif has really morphed into something more than a comedian. His presentation tonight was funny and informative and there is a real need for it. HE is the guy that should be on CNN explaining how all of us as people just want the same things. I was really impressed by how much work he put into his presentation and I was just proud to be his friend as we sat as a group being entertained and informed. People like Arif are why I keep slugging.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Half A Day Off

Monday April 28th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Half a day off today. Usually on Mondays I run around like a raped ape and make a pair of trips into Chicago. One is by train to be on WLS and the other is by car to do Zanies in some capacity. This week I only had to be on the radio because Zanies took a night off.

I was still feeling low about the whole mess in Topeka and didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that to Jerry and the other guys because that’s no way to be a good friend and team mate. We have a commitment and I will honor my part.

It doesn’t mean my heart was in it though. I just didn’t feel funny today. Some days I’m bulletproof and nothing can stop me. Then there are days like today when I feel like I’m a complete waste of humanity and don’t want to leave the house. Nut job? Bipolar? Maybe.

I do know I’m not the only creative type that feels that way though. I think it goes with the territory. That pendulum swung in Topeka and I really felt it today. It wasn’t anger at all. It was disappointment. I didn’t intend to have that result at all. All I wanted was to do a great show and make a room full of people laugh and get paid and drive home. That’s it.

I didn’t intend to have to be a one man riot squad and have to try and match wits with a table full of frat boys in a room full of idiots who had no idea what I was trying to do. It’s a feeling of frustration and emptiness and disappointment and it makes me question life.

But we had a radio show to do and nobody cares about my problems. That’s ok. I’m not asking for that. I have to say it sure didn’t do the self esteem any favors to have Jerry tell us he received an email asking ‘Why are those idiots on? I’ve never laughed ONCE.’

Hey, thanks for the vote of confidence! It’s always nice to have hate mail. At least I can stay humble another week. Normally I laugh at stuff like that or even take pride in it but it stung to hear that today. Jerry gets it all the time but that’s his job. He’s a talk show host.

I’m a comedian. I just want to make life better for people and in turn feel better myself. I am good at what I do and I would think after all these years of polishing my craft I’d be a lot farther along than I am but I still have to fight drunks in Topeka and get hate mail.

At least if I was paid well I could insulate myself from it a little. I could keep the idiots at bay a little but now I am right there mixed in with everybody. I don’t have a choice. I’ll have to find some more work in the Topekas of the world for the next while to pay bills.

I was glad to have the night off at Zanies tonight. I just didn’t want to deal with anyone today. Sometimes I just need to be by myself and today was one of those times. I watched some vintage Rodney Dangerfield DVDs I have and laughed all over again. He’s the man.

But he wasn’t a happy guy either. When I met him I could see the pain in his world too. Is that what it takes to be a good comedian? That’s a heavy price to pay for those laughs.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Intense In Topeka

Sunday April 27th, 2008 - Topeka, KS/Kenosha, WI

Trouble in Topeka last night. I sure didn’t see this one coming. I was already packed for the drive home when I left for the club from the hotel. I was rested and fed and ready for a good show and then a long drive. I was relaxed and laid back and thinking good thoughts.

But as I walked into the comedy club I could feel a vibe and I knew it wasn’t good. I’ve been at this a long time and I can sense the energy of a crowd before a show. Usually it’s positive but sometimes it’s not. This was not. I felt that giant red flag sliding up the pole.

I looked around and saw an inordinate amount of ball caps and that’s never a good sign. I also noticed a lot of tattoos and odd piercing and that’s also not usually conducive to me having a good show. I could totally feel their angst building. I wasn’t expecting this at all.

The opening act was not the best match for me either. She’s pretty dirty and hasn’t been in comedy all that long and in this kind of a situation that can pour gas on the fire. It’s not a personal thing and I don’t have anything against her but in this situation it did add to the degree of difficulty of the situation. All the stars were lining up against me for this show.

To make it even worse the emcee was a twenty something DJ who hadn’t been taught to host a show and he was clueless as to how to set the tone for the night or introduce any of us. He didn’t make any announcements to keep table talk down and was totally useless.

The opener went up and she had to dig out of a hole from the first ten seconds. She then started swearing and took the show in a direction I was hoping it wouldn’t have to go but now it was and that set the tone. Again, it’s not my job to tell anyone what to do but when they’re opening for me I’d prefer they kept it clean. Most headliners want a clean opener.

That wasn’t in the cards. She had to defend herself and I can’t blame her for that. There was a bachelor party right up front and they wouldn’t let the show get started. There were about a dozen cocky drunken frat boy types and that‘s never good. This reeked of trouble.

They had been doing shots all night apparently and they felt they had to be the center of attention for the comedy show. I have seen these kinds of things get out of hand before so I carefully watched how it played out so I could hopefully just do my time and go home.

This particular place takes an intermission of about ten minutes between the opener and the headliner and no matter how many times comedians beg them not to that’s just how it works here. The booker has tried to get them to stop but they won’t so we just accept it.

If there ever was a night when an intermission hurt it was tonight. By the time I went up the bachelor party was even drunker and I could see I would have a touchy situation here. Some of the people weren’t back from the bathroom yet but the DJ just went up and gave me a horrible intro and brought me up. I tried my best to set a tone and build up a rapport.

I tried to focus on the rest of the people because I knew the party was trouble. The place was full and I hoped to get the others laughing and drown out the idiots. Ha. Nice try. The others were about as stupid as they come and for whatever reason I wasn’t able to get any kind of a roll going. Lines I know kill everywhere weren’t working and it was all over.

I’ve been around the block and can handle these situations because unfortunately I have been in them more than once. Once in a while it just doesn‘t work out. It was going to be a long night and I knew it so I just settled in to finish my time and fulfill my obligation.

That’s when it got ugly. One of the frat boys was checking his phone messages right up front and I had to deal with that. I politely asked him to stop and he shot back ‘If the show was funnier I wouldn’t HAVE to check my messages.’ That was it. I snapped like a twig.

He said it in such a condescending and nasty way it reminded me of my father. I started in on him and tore him a new bung hole right in front of his buddies. He wasn’t ready for that and didn’t know how to handle it. And of course the rest of the idiots loved all of it.

He then took a dollar out of his wallet and walked to the stage and dropped it at my feet and told me to ’take some comedy lessons’. I asked the bouncers to remove the table but I didn’t get any help. I tried going on and they kept yelling and I again asked for some help.

After the third time of asking for these halfwits to get bounced and getting no response I just walked off stage. No amount of money on earth is worth more than my self esteem or dignity and I’ve been doing this way too long to have to prove myself to pinhead morons.

I walked up to the security apes and the bartender and asked why they didn’t bounce the table and I was told ‘Because they work here.’ I was so angry I couldn’t see straight. I just got in my car and left. If I’d stayed I’d have said or done something I’d be sorry for later.

There is a deep seeded anger in me and I’ve struggled with it my whole life. Anger isn’t a bad thing in itself but if it takes the wrong path bad things can happen. I am getting a lot better at dealing with it as I get older but deep down that little spark is still there. Why fan those into flames by staying around that situation? Nothing good would have come of it.

Now I’m going to have to pay the consequences with the booker. He’s a good guy and I like working for him and the last thing I want to do is make trouble but he’ll probably get an earful from the club on Monday. Or not. Maybe they’ll understand and just pay me off.

Fat chance. There will be ripples from this but I will take it like a man and move on. If I never work Topeka or for this booker ever again I won’t starve. I hope it doesn’t come to that but chances are someone’s going to be a little irritable. But they’ll get over it. Me too.

This whole thing came out of the blue and it sure made for an unpleasant 715 mile drive back to Kenosha to do the Mothership Connection radio show today. I didn’t get a chance to sleep and went right to the station. We had a killer show and today I really needed that.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jordy Nelson?

Saturday April 26th, 2008 - Topeka, KS

Jordy Nelson? I waited three and a half hours for Jordy Nelson? I’m such a geek. Today is NFL draft day and I’ve been waiting for it for months. My beloved Packers were on the clock at pick number 30 and they traded down. Their first pick was at number 36 and they took a white guy. That’s never a good sign but I’m sure there was some thought behind it.

There was a guy named Favre that was drafted in the second round and he turned out to be halfway decent. Maybe this Nelson guy can squeeze out a career and make this day his entry into the hearts of the cheese head faithful. He’s already got our support…for now.

It’s amazing how huge the NFL draft has become. It’s a major television event and I’m not the only one who looks forward to it every year. People go to New York and dress up in their team’s colors and paint their faces just like they’re going to a game. It’s insane.

The whole thing is insane. I’ve said it before, it’s an addiction and I have it. I’m hooked for life and until I croak I will always care about the Packers. I will watch games and care if they win and on draft day I’ll hope they get the next big steal so they can keep winning.

I hate myself for loving it so much but I do so rather than fight it I admit it and sit back every year and enjoy the day. Every male in America dreams of hearing his name called at some point in a professional sports draft. Very few ever get to have that dream come true but we all have it. I know I did. I still do. Part of me expected to get called this afternoon.

“The Green Bay Packers select…backup holder…extra points only… Dobie Maxwell.” I walk out in my mustard yellow suit with my Packers cap on and give the big smile and handshake to the commissioner and say how proud I am to be chosen by my home team. Then they flash all my highlights from the school yard and Mel Kiper Jr. says it’s a steal.

EVERY guy imagines himself in that position whether he’s 22 or 72. I waited for it too and instead of hearing my name I got Jordy Nelson’s instead. What a letdown. But I don’t care. I’m used to letdowns in life. I’ll follow Jordy’s career and he can make up for it with a good career and helping the Packers feed my addiction and win on Sundays. Good luck.

Back to the real world for another year. I’m in Topeka and will have a hellaciously long drive after the show tonight to make it back to be on the radio in Kenosha tomorrow. I’m not thrilled about it but I knew that was part of the deal when I took this gig so that’s how it goes. I caught a bit of a break because there’s only one show tonight. That’ll help some.

I’ll have plenty of time to let my mind wander as I drive across I-70. Weather shouldn’t be a problem and I’ll have Coast to Coast AM to keep me company so it could be worse. I have made drives like this my whole life so I’ll suck it up and deal with it and get it done.

Jordy Nelson went to college at Kansas St. which isn’t far from here. I doubt if they will make him drive in to Green Bay but if they do I’ve got an extra seat. I’m leaving tonight.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sweet Home Topeka

Friday April 25th, 2008 - Topeka, KS

I’m back to where it all started. My diary that is. I was here on my birthday (March 14th) in 2006 and that’s when I started keeping a daily record of my life and I haven’t missed a single day since. It‘s become a regular part of my day and I hope to keep it up until I die.

The real trick will be keeping it up in the next life if indeed there is one. What’s over on that other side? I guess we’ll all find out soon enough so I’ll keep my focus on this life for as long as I’m sucking air. The next world will hopefully not need to have diaries written.

Hopefully we’ll all be rich and good looking and young and having so much fun there is no time or need to read anything. But until that time I will keep cranking out my life story day by day and page by page. I have come to really enjoy the experience of a daily enema.

Whether I’m feeling on top of the world or under it I clean it out of my system through my fingers when I type my daily installment. It makes me feel like I accomplished at least a little something by finishing each day’s page and I have something to show for all of my struggles. I’ve gained some regular readers along the way and I’m really grateful for that.

I never really considered myself a writer though and I still don’t. I’m a comedian and an entrepreneur. The comedian part has taken a lifetime to develop and I’m just now starting to work on the entrepreneur part. That’s what’s going to put me over the top if indeed I’m ever going to get there. Comedy sure didn’t but I still enjoy doing it. I’m a lifetime addict.

All those thoughts came flooding back tonight as I did the show at J.J. Bullfrogs. This is a nice place and even though it’s a sports bar they have a separate room for comedy and it draws a nice crowd of people who usually come to laugh. I’ve always liked coming here.

They put us in a decent hotel and all in all this is a doable gig. The booker lets me come here pretty much when I want and there is also a Tuesday night show which tacks on to a week in Kansas City quite nicely. The weekends have a different lineup of comedians and this week it’s me. Maybe next time I’ll take the Tuesday when I work Kansas City again.

It felt great to take it easy today and not have the stress of doing 97 miles an hour trying to make it to the show on time. There was even a big sports card show in Kansas City so I stopped and was able to take a lap on the way here. Even with that pit stop I cruised in by 5pm and the show wasn’t until 8:30. MUCH better doing it this way. I even got a nap in.

There’s still something fun about being on the road even though it can be a grind. I love the shows and always will. I also love the experience of going places I’ve never been (and there aren’t that many anymore) and meeting people I normally would never get to meet.

I did that today in Missouri. There was a diner that had a fried chicken special for $5.25 that blew the Colonel back to Kentucky. WOW was it good. There was a small town vibe and a sexy waitress who flirted with me the whole time. This is what makes the road fun.

Head Start

Thursday April 24th 2008 - High Hill, MO

I decided to get a jump on my driving and left a day early for Topeka. I haven’t been out on the road in a while and my chops are a little rusty so I didn’t want to force myself to do that hellacious drive on the day I’m supposed to perform. I’ve done it way too many times before and it’s never pleasant. I seem to remember having a problem last time I was there.

It all runs together after a while but I do distinctly remember having a major time hassle issue getting to this particular gig. Topeka is a lot farther than it looks and I remember the clock ticking as I wondered if I’d make the show or not. I did make it but not by much.

I’m not in the mood to be doing that this time around or ever again if I can help it. Forty bucks for a hotel room isn’t going to make or break me so I decided to invest it and insure my peace of mind. Usually I can find a one nighter or two somewhere but not this week.

There were a few stops to make on the way today. I had lunch with Marc Schultz but he didn’t have my check from the gig I did for him last week at the country club down on the south side in Orland Park. He thought it would be there by now but it wasn’t. It was still a fun lunch as it usually is and the check will get there eventually. He won’t let it get away.

After lunch I stopped at Zanies in Chicago to film a few random bits for a crew that was filming as many comics as they could find. I think it was for the Chicago Tribune but that could be wrong. I guess I should’ve asked more details but Zanies said show up so I did. I don’t think they’d put me in the trick bag and there were apparently others who did it too.

I was the last one of the day and the filming crew laughed out loud so I must have done something at least halfway funny. I just rattled off a few of my bits that I could remember off the top of my head and went until they told me to stop. They ran out of film and that’s how it ended. They shook my hand and thanked me for coming and I was back in the car.

My good friend Max is in Springfield and I hadn’t seen him in a while so I stopped for a few minutes to see how he’s doing. He’s still working at WYMG doing mornings but that isn’t thrilling him. He’s buying up real estate which is thrilling him and he now has upped his total of rental units to 11. Not bad for someone just starting out but he’s not done yet.

We talked about how life is changing all around us on many levels. Gas is higher than it has ever been and food is starting to go up and there are rumblings all around us of things that don’t look pleasant. He’s trying to find security for him and his family and I can’t say I blame him. He’s working harder than almost anyone I’ve ever seen but it will pay off.

Max LOVES the idea of Uranus Factory Outlet. He gave me some catalogs with listings of all kinds of shirts and prices that he got from his printer who does all his station stuff. I will buzz through it and see if I can get some shirts printed as a start so at least I’ll have a line of products on my site to sell. It’s always good to see Max and the trip was worth it at that point. I kept driving and found a cheap motel in High Hill, MO. 474 miles for today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mailbox Maintentance

Wednesday April 23rd, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Lots of good progress today. I finally took a day to clear out the piles and piles of email that has been accumulating in my mailbox. I got my main two addresses down from about 300 emails each to under 50. I have been meaning to get to it for months and I finally did.

I love the feeling of doing something like this because it’s a momentum thing. One pile getting smaller and smaller starts it going and then the next one is even easier. I contacted a lot of people I haven’t spoken with in months and even heard back from a few already. I needed to do this and I did and even though it took me an entire day it was really worth it.

I also took time and listened to the mail order course from E. Joseph Cossman I bought recently on Ebay. I listened as I returned emails and really learned a lot. He was a real pro and even though he died before the internet was around he got the concept of marketing a product like few others. He was a winner and would have been a millionaire in any era.

I want to be a winner too. No I didn’t come from the best circumstances but I’m not the only one to have to overcome that. Not by a long shot. I am still walking and breathing so that means I have a shot. I have a good mind and a warped creativity and I can SO do this. I’m not cocky but I am confident after listening to eight hours of a how to plan of action.

The main thing I am doing is SOMETHING. I think about this project every day but I’m finally putting things into action as well. I bought those tapes but I actually listened to the entire set from beginning to end. Now I’m going to start on all those books I bought too.

After that I’m going to get my website up and start making products to sell and then I’m going to start getting on TV and radio and SELL them. If they don’t sell I’ll try some new ones and eventually I’ll find what does move and keep making that. It’s not a big mystery. I’m glad I bought this tape series because he really explained it in a way I could grasp.

I’ve got a lot of open time this summer and I am going to use it wisely. This week I have to go to Topeka, KS for shows and I’ll have lots of time in the car to map out a plan even more. I made some notes today and I’m starting to see the beginnings of this take shape.

Necessity is the mother of invention and I don’t have a lot of options right now. I need a plan of attack to put me over the top financially so I’m not sleeping in a basement unless I want to. I’ve had a lifetime of farting around and playing artist. Now it’s time for a payoff so I don’t die broke like so many other entertainers who never took time to make a plan.

Gorgeous George the wrestler comes to mind. He was as big as it gets in his day and his unique style influenced many others including Muhammad Ali and Hulk Hogan but when he died broke and drunk at 48 on the day after Christmas it was a sad story for the ages.

I sure don’t want that to be my story. I’ve had enough sadness in my life. How about an exciting happy ending? The King of Uranus wouldn’t die broke. He’d leave MILLIONS!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just An Asterisk

Tuesday April 22nd, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Feeling a lot better today. Whatever lung rot virus I had seems to have run its course so hopefully I can move on and get something done. This month is almost over and I haven’t done nearly as much as I hoped I would. Life gets in the way. And then it’s over too soon.

I read today where a soul singer named Al Wilson died yesterday at 68 of kidney failure in Pomona, CA. He had a number one hit in 1974 that topped the charts for a single week. I’d never heard of Al or his hit song and that’s what made me start thinking of all this.

In 1974 I’m sure Al was doing pretty well. He probably had a record deal and his career was starting to take off and things looked peachy. He had a closet full of silk shirts with a collar so wide he could use it as a glider and a Cadillac with gangster white wall tires. He probably thought he was the next big thing in show business and then life got in the way.

Now it’s 2008 and his kidneys gave out and his name is an asterisk in the book of music history. What did he do for those missing 34 years? Was he bitter? Did he build his life in other areas? Maybe there’s an Al Wilson orphanage somewhere that helps needy children. Was Al a good husband and father? Did he like to grow his own spices or cook barbecue?

Life isn’t easy and I’m sure Al had his own problems to deal with even without the ones with his kidneys. There are a lot of people who set out to get to the top of their field and it might even happen like it did for Al Wilson even though it was only for one single week.

Is there anyone that goes through a whole life doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing? That’s a difficult task. In many ways I feel like I’ve wasted my life only because it has taken so long to figure it out and get over a lot of humps I had to overcome up front.

I missed out on a childhood and a college education all that goes with it and a family on many levels both growing up and being the head of one now. That’s a lot of life to miss. I won’t ever get any of it back either. There’s nothing I can do about it so I should shut up.

All of that stuff didn’t feel like it was in the cards for me though. Even as a kid I felt my life was different than most others and looking back on it I was right. Yes I’m sure I could have made a few other choices in life and had slightly different results but it still wouldn’t make me ‘normal’. The truth is I never really found a place to fit in and build a full life.

I scraped together what I could and did use my given talents in entertainment to eke out a living both in comedy and in radio but like Al Wilson I’m just an asterisk. I had a small taste of the big pie but if my kidneys failed today most of the people who heard the news would wrinkle their faces just like I did when I heard about Al Wilson and say ‘WHO?’

Life sure does keep most of us humble. I am not feeling cocky at all today and I hope to make the most of whatever time I have left. Whether anyone knows me or not when I die isn’t the issue right now. I hope I still have some living to do and I need to squeeze it out.

Traffic Trauma

Monday April 21st, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Just when I thought there were no new ways to suffer I had a whole scenario play out at the end of the day today that could be made into a movie script. The question is whether it would be a comedy or a horror flick. The fates seemed to feel a need to torture me today.

Mondays are the longest days of my week. I get up very early to catch a train to Chicago to be on WLS with Jerry Agar in the morning. Then I return by 3pm only to have to drive right back into the city to host the showcase at Zanies on Wells Street. That’s a full day.

On the way home from Zanies tonight I got stuck in one of the nastiest traffic situations I have ever been in and that’s saying a lot. The Edens Expressway headed north is already being carved up like Michael Jackson’s nose and is down from four lanes to two which is a huge pain in the asphalt for everybody who lives in the northern suburbs. Like ME.

There was a spectacular rollover accident involving a semi and a minivan that shut the whole road down for two hours. The semi had a tanker trailer full of water that spilled on the highway apparently and it happened under an overpass and it damaged the bridge too.

I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it before and I happened to be about a half a block behind it so I was trapped for the long haul. Nobody knew what it was at first so we kept our engines running thinking it was just construction delays or something. Wrong.

I turned on my radio to the traffic report on WBBM and of course there were NO places anywhere within fifty miles of Chicago that had any kind of problem except right where I was and had I not stopped to give another comedian a ride home I’d have easily missed it.

But I didn’t. So I sat. And sat. And sat some more. Five minutes became fifteen became an hour. My patience for these situations has always been low and I sat there trying not to blow a gasket because there wasn’t a damn thing I could do except sit and wait this out.

I’d been up since 5am and neither the radio nor the comedy show had gone particularly the way I wanted it to and I just wanted to get home and get some sleep. I was still feeling sick and I hadn’t had a chance to eat dinner so I was also hungry and wanted to stop for a quick bite and then take some medicine and get some rest. I wasn’t planning on a delay.

But that’s what I got. It was something I guess I needed to experience and I can’t figure out exactly why. I sat there tired and frustrated and hungry and sick and low on patience and watched police car after police car after ambulance after rescue vehicle after anything else with a siren plow through the closed off construction lanes and it got to be a show.

I wasn’t close enough to see any potential disemboweled victims or bloody gore so that made it even more frustrating. It’s funny how any compassion for victims goes away in a situation like this. Hundreds if not thousands of stranded cars all have drivers that are not sympathetic to anything other than how this whole big ugly mess is making ME late.

I must admit that I was in that mindset too. I was low on gas and wasn’t sure how long I could last just sitting there idling but I didn’t want to shut the car off only to have to crank it right back up again. Nobody knew how long it would take to clean this up since nobody could see how bad the accident was. I could tell it was bad by the number of ambulances.

As I sat there with nothing to do but think it reminded me once again of how my whole life has gone. Last week when the train broke down I had the same feeling of helplessness and it wasn’t fun then either. I guess I need to keep experiencing this feeling for whatever reason but I still can’t figure out exactly why. If there’s a lesson to be learned I missed it.

Last week I wasn’t prepared to sit for two hours at a strange train station in the middle of the afternoon and tonight I was even less prepared to have to sit in my car as all of my gas and patience ran out waiting for some accident that wasn’t my fault to get cleaned up.

That was the first hour. The second hour is when it really got interesting. By then I was ready to have a heart attack. My stress level was redlining and I didn’t care if any of those people were alive or dead, I just wanted them out of my way. Everyone else felt the same way and we were all ready to move on but there was no place to go. We were all trapped.

I was stuck next to another semi and had to listen to that grinding engine sound for the entire time and that added to the stress level. Then nature took over. I had been drinking a few waters and a Mountain Dew earlier to keep me awake for my long day and now those had completed the cycle and I needed to hit the head but there wasn’t one. I had to hold it.

That also added to the tension. Then I had to take a big nasty dump and I can’t think of any cute clever way to say that after sitting in my car for two hours. It got so bad I started rocking back and forth in my seat hoping to not soil myself in my own car. It was torture. Then to make it even worse the smell of freshly dead skunk wafted through the evening.

It was one thing after another and I thought people were going to start killing and eating each other like in the plane crash in the Andes Mountains. I could feel the impatience not only with me but with everyone else too. Horns were honking and people were not happy.

Then finally traffic started to inch forward. Two lanes had to be condensed into one and we started to slowly slalom through the debris under the overpass. There was an idiot that tried to gun it and about six state troopers pulled their guns and stopped him. It was a very tense scene as they yelled at him to slow down and of course he was directly ahead of me.

There was no kidding around with those guys and they held the driver back and told his passengers to get out of the car. I was next and they barked out orders on how I needed to drive and where I needed to go and I didn’t joke around with any of them. I followed their instructions and slowly wove through the obstacle course of mangled metal and car parts.

After finding a place to empty my bladder and bowels I grabbed a quick meal at a diner on my way and I arrived home at 2:40am. It could be worse. At least I don‘t drive a truck.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Bumpy Ride

Sunday April 20th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Interesting ride on the mothership today. We were back on the air on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI after a week off and we had a few speed bumps to fly over. Listeners had no idea that everything fell apart because we really haven’t made an impression on them yet.

We are just getting started and today a few unavoidable pitfalls happened that took us in a direction I for one didn’t expect. For one, our third co-host Jimmy Novack took another day off today. He works for the rock station in the building and they had a remote at some pro marijuana rally or something because it’s 4/20. I had to find out about it third hand.

I really like Jimmy personally but he can be a little flighty at times. This is one of those times. Our other co-host Stu James is also the promotions director for both stations in the building and he’s got more than his plate full. I can’t ask him to do any more than he does already and he does a nice job keeping everything flowing. He runs all the controls on air.

Two weeks ago Jimmy brought up 9/11 and how he thought a whole show devoted to it would be interesting to do so we agreed to do it. Now two weeks later he wasn’t here and it left us dangling. I had attempted to make contact with a few websites on the subject and I found someone who agreed to come on but then he had to back out and leave us empty.

I was going to have my cousin Brett on anyway because he is in construction and he had said it was fishy on the day it happened. He was thrilled to come to the studio so he drove down from Milwaukee and sat in Jimmy’s chair for the show. He said how he felt about it and it was very interesting. We ended up getting more calls than we’d ever gotten before.

At the end of the day we pulled off a two hour show but I was not happy with it at all. It was unorganized and we could have done a lot better. It’s nobody’s fault that the guest we had booked couldn’t be on this week or that Jimmy did his other event. Those things are going to happen and I’m not upset about it. What I am disappointed in is my lack of prep.

I am the one running this show in the long run. Stu and Jimmy are both working at what their jobs are at the station and this is part time. It’s part time for me too but if it will stay on the air for any length of time it’s up to me to keep the guests coming and prepare more thoroughly. Everything fell apart today and there was really no plan B to fall back on.

Cousin Brett did a great job and he was on cloud nine because being on the radio was a new experience for him. He’s very smart and quick witted and funny and he could do this for a living if he wanted to but he doesn’t want to. He still likes doing his carpenter thing.

We covered the time today and there is no real pressure on this show because nobody is getting paid. Yet. If there ever is money involved I would hope we’d still do it because we love to do it and not for the money only. We received calls from people who all said they had heard us before today so that was encouraging. We’re getting regulars after all. We’ll keep showing up and polishing the show and hopefully take this to where it should be.

Hope In Hobart

Saturday April 19th, 2008 - Hobart, IN

After all these years of trying to figure life out today proved I’m still a flaming idiot. It’s still a mystery and I don’t feel any closer to figuring it out today than when I was growing up. I’ve had one unexpected thing after the next jump up on my path and dealing with it is not always pleasant but today was a welcome exception. I expected a kick and got a kiss.

I was booked to do a one nighter in a restaurant in Hobart, IN tonight. That right there is enough to make me feel like driving my car into an oncoming train but I already made my money for the week with the country club gig I did for Marc Schultz on Thursday so I had no real pressure on me other than to make it through Chicago traffic so I could get there.

Ken Sevara inherited this gig from someone and tonight was their third show. He could have easily asked any one of a hundred or more comedians to do it but he asked me and I gratefully said yes. Comedy work is getting more and more scarce and I don’t ever take it for granted that the world owes me a living. It was nice to be asked so I said I would do it.

Is my first choice after a lifetime of paying dues to work in the basement of a restaurant in Hobart, IN? Of course not. I want to be working to sold out houses at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas but they didn’t call me this week. Ken did. Las Vegas will have to wait. Again.

I had a hellishly long drive through construction, fog and rain to get to Ken’s house way down in Frankfort, IL. It’s about 95 miles door to door from my place to his and I thought about turning around more than once as I was stuck in another pocket of traffic hell but it started creeping along again and I hung in there for almost three hours until I got there.

Ken’s wife Laurie is very nice and she came with us and we had a fun visit in the car all the way to Hobart. I was in a much better mood then and when we got to the gig we were fed a delicious meal of home made food and that was another unexpected perk. We all sat and ate before the show and the other act was Vince Vieceli who I always got along with.

I must say I was a little concerned about the show. It was in a dining room area next to a portable salad bar on one side and a fireplace on the other. There was no stage of any kind and there were poles all over the room. This had nightmare written all over it in red paint.

Ken hosted the show and did a few minutes and brought up Vince who couldn’t get his rhythm going because some goofus with a Blue Oyster Cult t-shirt and a shaved bean had it in his head that he needed to be part of the show. We all saw trouble there and Vince is about as mild mannered and polite as it gets. He did his best to ignore it but he couldn’t.

Vince took my bullet tonight. Usually it’s me in the trick bag but tonight he did what he needed to do and did his time and then I went up and powered right through that idiot and he didn’t have a chance to get to me. I wouldn’t let him. Plus, the rest of the audience all wanted to laugh and they ended up catching fire immediately and I was able to hit a nice stride and have a strong show. I didn’t expect this to be fun but it totally was. Go figure.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Colon The Barbarian

Friday April 18th, 2008 - Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Still sick. Still miserable. I don’t get flu bugs or colds very often but I’ve got something that seems to fall somewhere between the two and it’s trying my patience. I am coughing and wheezing and my head is pounding and I am not thrilled about any of it. I need to get this out of my system but how? I’m in a business where I have a lot of public interaction.

I took some flu medicine last night that knocked me out for a few hours but I still felt as rotten as I did yesterday when I woke up. I had a lunch meeting with Rick Gieser lined up and I didn’t want to cancel it…again. Rick is a P.R. whiz and I’ve known him forever. He has helped me a ton over the years and I have been able to get business for him in return.

We try to get together for a lunch and idea exchange session every few months but we’d missed each other a few times due to things coming up on both ends so today was the day and I didn’t want to blow it off again. I drove over to Woodfield Mall and we ate at Sweet Tomatoes which is a salad bar restaurant. We both needed to clean out the plumbing a bit.

After lunch I came back home and laid down for a while because I still felt horrible and I was booked for a gig tonight in Kenosha. I did it as a favor to my friend Joe Sanfelippo who I’ve known for over 25 years. He books a lot of casino gigs and has always been one of my favorite people to deal with so when he asked me to do this gig for him I said yes.

It was in a nice restaurant but everything about the gig was wrong. The owner didn’t get how a comedy show worked and it really wasn’t my place to tell him. The show started a half an hour late and people were impatient and they were already drunk when they got in the place. There was a big party of people who sat right in front and were very boisterous.

The opener tonight was an ex student of mine named Tony Talley. He’s one of my very favorite students of all time and he’s come a long way in only a few years. This was good experience for him because he got to stretch out a little in a safe environment and practice doing 30 minutes. That’s a big deal and a milestone and he passed with no problem at all.

Tony is a great guy and I am glad he was there to get the experience but by the time the torch was passed to me they were losing sobriety at an alarming pace. These are the drunk rude Wisconsin audiences I remember so well from when I started. I didn’t have fun at all and just plowed through my time. I was sick physically and sick of dealing with boozers.

The thing that made my whole night was about 40 minutes into my 50 minute set I felt a little gas buildup in my stomach. It must have been from all that salad I ate for lunch and I let loose with some of the nastiest flatulence I have ever unleashed . It was pure uncut evil and it was crawling through my lower colon and out in public for everyone to deal with.

I could see the front row’s noses wrinkle and they suspected each other but not one had a clue it was me. Then a waitress walked right through it and I thought she might lose her lunch right there. It was my own little victory on a night I wanted to stay in bed. So there.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flu Bugged

Thursday April 17th, 2008 - Orland Park, IL

I’m sick. Ick. I hope it doesn’t stick. That’s about as creative as I can be right now as an absolutely crushing headache strangles any creativity that may be trying to escape. I have been coughing all day until my throat is raw and the last thing I felt like doing was a show tonight but I had to. This was my whole week’s nut. I had a gig booked at a country club.

Marc Schultz got it for me and there’s no way I could let him down. Plus I can use what they’re paying as it’s what I usually make for a whole week at a comedy club. These are a love/hate relationship because they’re usually not fulfilling artistically but they more than make up for it financially. Even with expensive gas and a long drive I still made out OK.

I was supposed to go on at 8:00 but they were running late as these things usually do so I didn’t end up getting up until about 8:40. I got off at about 9:25 and got some nice laugh pops all the way through so I know they were happy. Well I hope they were. If only ONE person is offended in any way there’s usually hell to pay but these guys seemed very cool.

It was a tricky gig in many ways. These people were pretty well off and they can’t relate to jokes about car problems and breakdowns. They all own brand new Lexuses or BMWs so I stayed away from that kind of thread. They were also mostly male so I didn’t do a lot of the kid stuff I usually do either. I read them well and catered to what they would like.

Earlier in the day I did start on what I set out to do yesterday so that’s a positive I’ll lay claim to. I got out the movie script and dusted it off and read it and there are a lot of very funny scenes in there. I hadn’t seen it in a long time and I’m very encouraged by what’s in it. I needed to make a first step and this was it. Now I need to keep it going and WRITE.

I also started to read ‘The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches’ I talked about yesterday. My gig was way across town so I left early and checked my mailbox in the city and then made the trek to Orland Park just so I could relax for a couple of hours and read. I sat in the mall at the food court and read for a while. Then I took out my act notebook and worked on that.

I’m starting to make some noticeable progress with all this stuff. None of it is huge but at least it’s going in the right direction. I counted the number of lines and/or ideas I’d like to add to my show at some point and it was about 150. That’s very encouraging. This has to be by far the most work I’ve ever done on my act at one time and I will see big growth.

That is if I live that long. I’m really hurting right now and I’ll be the first to admit I’m a total pansy ass when it comes to being sick. I hate it and always have. I hope this just goes away or runs it’s course or whatever it needs to do to get out of my system and let me get back to work on all my projects. I have stuff I want to do rather than cough my lungs out.

I am behind on preparation for the Mothership Connection radio show this week. I want to get some guests lined up but I haven’t heard back from anyone so I will have to work at finding someone for Sunday. Anyone know any wack jobs who want to be on the radio?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mail Dominance

Wednesday April 16th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Beautiful weather today. Not too many things put me in a better mood than a sunny day that’s warm and today was about as perfect as it gets. I gladly drove to meet Marc Schultz and Tim Walkoe for lunch with my windows down and my radio up. Gas is expensive but it’s worth it to drive on a day like today. This is what I loved about living in Los Angeles.

It’s always great to have lunch with Marc but Tim Walkoe is flat out one of the funniest humans who has ever walked the earth. He has a quick rhythm of speaking just like me so when we get together it’s machine gun freestyle and Marc was laughing so hard he barely was able to finish his meal. I was laughing too because when Tim gets going he’s on fire.

We had a lot of laughs during our meal but we also were discussing what’s next for the comedy business as we know it. Tim has been doing more and more cruise ships and just did a big showcase down in Florida. He’s a guitar act when he needs to be and that totally helps in that arena. Straight monologists like me have to be extra strong to get hired there.

Marc has been a booker of corporate events for many years and he said there’s always a fluctuation in that market depending on the economy. He doesn’t only book comedians so he has a cushion in what he can sell but he said that we are definitely in a down cycle now but it will come back up again. I am working for him tomorrow night as a matter of fact.

After lunch I went into Chicago to get my mail. I’ve been waiting for a package that had finally come in and I didn’t want to wait any longer. I won a mail order course a few days ago on Ebay by a famous mail order entrepreneur named E. Joseph Cossman. I remember his infomercials years ago but I never popped for his course. I think it was around $350.

My winning bid was $59.95 and with $15 postage I now own it free and clear for $75. It was a great buy and looking over the course I know I’ll get way more than $75 out of it as I already have a mini course from him that I paid $30 for and that was fantastic. This is an expanded version of that and just by looking through it I can tell I got my money‘s worth.

Melvin Powers is another mail order millionaire who has a great course I took way back when and have since gotten to know him personally. He lives in Hollywood and has been very generous with his time giving me tips on how I can market my comedy class through a mail order course. He told me that E. Joseph Cossman was one of the all time winners.

I sent Melvin an email today asking him to help me with the Uranus idea. I’m not stupid enough to think I can do this myself and I am going to call in every favor I can. I have not asked for many favors in life from anyone but this is a time when I am choosing my spots.

People ask me for help in comedy and I always try to give it whenever I can. This is the same thing and I know what I’m asking isn’t out of line at all. Melvin will tell me what to start with and what books to read and how to get this thing to be a reality. I will listen to a guy like him because he’s made millions over the years. He’s a huge success in that field.

I’ve been interested in mail order for about as long as I can remember and the more I’m studying it the more I feel I have what it takes to be a huge success too. There needs to be a workable mix of several ingredients and I have at least some of them that are required to win at this game. One of them is showmanship and that’s something I understand well.

I’ve always been able to come up with a clever slogan or product idea and I totally love doing it. I also think I can handle the job of writing funny and interesting ad copy that will sell my products. Mail order has changed because of the internet but the principles are the same they’ve always been. The sales ‘circular’ is what sells the product - whatever it is.

Melvin’s book and tapes talked about that as did E. Joseph Cossman’s course I already own. This is his master course and I’m sure a lot of the same things will be covered but it still was worth it to me to invest in it so I can immerse myself in it and start to learn from a true master even though he passed away a few years ago. This is my chance to succeed.

Desire is also a major ingredient for success in mail order. I guess it is in life too but for mail order it’s extra important because it requires so much individual effort. There isn’t a place to go to start as a clerk and work up the ladder like with a regular job. This requires a whole different attitude and quite frankly it can be a little scary to take on by one’s self.

I have been putting my dream off way too long. I have been tiptoeing through this and it has been good so far but now I have to kick it in gear and dive in the pool. I am now in an educational mode and need to pack my brain with as much knowledge as I can about what I have chosen to pursue. I need to then take what I’ve learned and parlay that into success.

I also won another very famous mail order success story book on Ebay called ‘The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches.’ That was written by a guy named Joe Karbo who used mail order to sell millions of dollars worth of books in the ‘70s. He’s also passed away now and I’ve been looking for a copy of that book for years. He only sold it through the mail back then.

I now have almost more than I can handle to do in the next few months but I’m going to find a way to handle it. This is my prime success time and I don’t want to waste a minute of it. I am going to risk it all and make something happen and not a lot of people have the guts to roll those dice. Even I’ve been too hesitant in my eyes so now it’s time to DO it.

This doesn’t change the fact that I need to keep working on my movie script either. I am going to start on that and keep going until that’s finished and I also have comedy gigs that I need to book so I can feed that nasty habit of eating I’ve acquired over the years. It’s not going to go away any time soon so that’s another reason I need to keep earning money.

I can feel the wheels starting to turn and I love it. I’m finally starting to DO something I have thought about and dreamed about but now it’s starting to slowly become reality. It’s like Dr. Frankenstein watching the monster start to twitch for the first time. It’s starting to come to life and that’s what the whole idea was in the first place. I am the King of Uranus and this idea is so stupid it will succeed. It already has. But now I need it to earn money.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Day

Tuesday April 15th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Tax day. It could be worse. I could be Wesley Snipes. I have had my share of problems with my taxes over the years but not that. He’s got some serious issues. All I did was fail to file returns for a few years. That’s all caught up now and I ended up getting a refund at the end of it. I planned on getting them done early this year but I had to file an extension.

It’s a quirk with me and I need to fix it. I thought I was going to do it this year but it got to be close to the deadline and my accountant sent me an email saying he was busy and it would be easier just to file an extension and do it later. I said it was fine with me and it is. I have all of my records and receipts and it shouldn’t be very complicated at all. I hope.

If I’m lucky next year’s return will be VERY complicated because it will mean I made a lot of money. I’d gladly pay extra to have the accountant have to sort out all my payments and royalties and dividends from various sources. I’ve been trying for that for a lifetime.

Money is a skill I am working on and it’s becoming less and less scary. There is no real secret to it other than paying attention and watching what comes in and what goes out. If I would have been smart right from the first dollar I ever made I’d be rich now but I wasn’t and most others aren’t either. There needs to be some financial training for the masses.

You’d think there would be at least a high school course in it but I never heard of one. I had to learn everything on the fly and now all these years later I see what an idiot I was. If I had saved just $100 a month since age 16 I’d have $34,800. Plus interest. But I don’t.

What if I saved the money from HALF the sodas I bought during that time or blew on a magazine I threw away a day later or whatever else I pissed it away on. I don’t think there needs to be a total miser attitude of saving everything and not having any fun but I think I could have been a lot better with my money with not all that much extra effort. I blew it.

That doesn’t mean I have to stay stupid though. I am actually in a good position to start turning all this around. My car is paid off and my credit card debt is zero and my rent is as low as it gets without having to share a toilet down the hall with recovering alcoholics. If I start saving now I can still salvage a decent life at my retirement age if I live that long.

That’s a big if though. Who knows what will happen? Life is day to day and this was an uplifting one. After yesterday I needed it. No pressure today, only fun. My friend Shelley came by and took me out to lunch at Applebee’s because she’s a mystery shopper and had to go there. We talked about what we‘re going to do with my website and mailing list etc.

Her daughter Greta just turned four and I love kids that age. To make a kid laugh is one of life’s true treasures and thankfully it isn’t that difficult. Just a few fart sounds or goofy faces usually does the trick and that laughter is pure medicine. We finished up lunch and I came home and started working on my comedy notes. I always get lost in that and it took up most of the rest of the day. My taxes will get done soon enough. Today was for fun.

Train Breakdown

Monday April 14th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Strange day today. On my way home from WLS the train I was on broke down smack in the middle of nowhere and we were all marooned like the passengers of the S.S. Minnow. It took everyone by surprise as the train stopped moving and we just sat. And we sat. And we sat some more. Then the conductor made the announcement that the train was broken.

There was something wrong with the brakes and it couldn’t operate so they were able to nurse it back to the previous station and let us all off. They said there would be a new one on the way ‘in a few minutes’ but that ended up being two and a half hours. What was the alternative but to sit and wait and it put me in a bad place in my head. I felt like a stooge.

My can has many dents but abandonment is probably the biggest. My mother left when I was a baby and that’s never easy to take. I was five months old and I can’t think that’s a positive thing for a child that small. James Brown talked about that happening to him also and how it was a lifetime source of pain for him too apparently. I know I struggle with it.

Especially on days like today when I was in a hurry to get home so I could get a nap and then make it back downtown to meet with Carrie Long who is an ex student who wants to help me organize comedy classes. She’s a six foot blonde with super model looks and has a wonderful sense of humor. She’s great on many levels and I know we’ll help each other.

Of course this had to be the day when the train broke down. I’ve never had any problem at all until now even though I’ve only been taking it for a few months once a week. Today had to be the day when a problem arose but that’s how the timing for Mr. Lucky works. It seems to always be at the worst time and I sat there today and thought about it as I waited.

I never intended to have a two and a half hour delay so I had nothing to read or drink or eat and there was nothing close by. I felt like I was dropped there out of the sky and didn’t have a reason to be there and it was just a big waste of time all around. Sometimes I feel a similar way about my whole life. I feel like I was marooned on this planet accidentally.

I had places to go and naps to take and supermodels to meet but I couldn’t do anything I had planned because the train broke down and I was stranded. I felt totally abandoned and alone and I’ve felt that way in my life a whole lot. That’s why I make some of the choices I make I’m sure. Trust is very much an issue with me because I’ve been burned so much.

That’s why this whole thing with my ex partner hurts so much. He stole money from me when he could have asked me for it and I feel extra hurt by it. I don’t want to ever have to deal with him again and in my mind he’s dead to me. I can’t stand dealing with that pain.

What I didn’t need today was two and a half hours to sit in a train station and have it all bounce around in my head. I tried to think of other things but my mind came back around to this a lot more than I wanted it to. The feeling of complete helplessness that I couldn’t change the situation stung me to my inner core. That’s probably why I’m a control freak.

I freely admit it too. I like to be in charge just so I can avoid situations like this. That’s a major reason I’ve always had a car. Or two. Or three. Cars represent freedom to me and to be able to go where I want when I want means everything. I’m finally figuring myself out.

My mother is probably never going to come back to me and at this point I don’t know if she’s living or dead. Unfortunately I really don’t care because the damage is already done. Even if she showed up tomorrow I’d have a hard time opening my heart to any kind of an exchange of feelings just because that hurt is so deep and so old that it’s taken roots now.

Hopefully I can someday help others who have had that same kind of pain. There are all kinds of stories out there and I’m sure a lot are worse than mine and it’s not easy to go on living life when there’s that kind of pain to deal with. Sitting around today with only time on my hands to think about this didn’t do anything for my morale. This whole thing rots.

I finally made it home about 5:30 whereas I usually get home around 2:30 on Mondays. I took a quick shower and drove back downtown to meet with Carrie. She’s a sweetheart and a ball of energy and I know I can help her and she can help me too. We had fun for a while but I had to leave quickly and head over to Zanies to host the new talent showcase.

Tonight’s show was extra strong. There was a great lineup of comedians and the crowd was amazing and I had a chance to do some time up front and it was really fun. This is my way of putting salve on my pain and if I needed any it sure was tonight. I was friends with most of the comedians who went up tonight so that made it extra special to see them rock.

My friend Marc Yaffe came in from northern California. We met back in 2003 when we did the San Francisco Comedy Competition together and stayed in touch. He has a Native American comedy tour he books and he’s one of my all time favorites on stage and off. It was great to see him go up and blow the room away as did a lot of my other friends too.

There was an ugly situation too. The guy my ex partner is going to do classes with came out to the club to allegedly watch one of the showcasers. I have tried to help that guy for a long time but he continues to do things to sabotage that and I had to finally stop trying.

He is a very intelligent person but has no street smarts at all. He doesn’t see that he does the damage to himself and people don’t want to work with him after a very short time but that’s not my fault. I tried a lot harder to help him than most and he still stuck it to me for my efforts by going behind my back and teaming up with the other guy who stole money.

This is all a high school game and uncalled for and I wish I didn’t have to even discuss it but it happened and I am. Anyway, he showed up tonight and apparently Zanies has had enough of him too and cancelled his future work. Now he thinks I had something to do in that whole mess but I totally didn’t. He did it to himself but apparently I’m getting credit.

This whole day has been full of these kinds of things I really don’t want to deal with but they just kept coming anyway. At least we had a hot show though. That’s what I live for.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Focusing On Fun

Sunday April 13th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

No Mothership Connection radio show because Jimmy Novack had something planned with his kids and wanted to take a week off. I suppose I could have done it with our other partner Stu but we decided to just take a week off and start back up next Sunday. I took a day to just hang out and take inventory of where I am in my life and where I want to go.

I went up to Milwaukee to take a lap at the monthly sports card show at Gonzaga Hall. I love to look at old baseball cards and even if I don’t own them I still appreciate the beauty and history they represent. It scratches an itch somewhere inside me and I am not going to fool myself anymore and not admit that I love it. What’s wrong with having a fun hobby?

I’m never going to be a big time dealer and that’s ok. Everyone dreams about finding an attic full of baseball cards or comic books or some other collectible worth zillions but that happens about as often as lottery winners. It does happen, but rarely to anyone we know.

I’m farting around with it again and have a nice inventory of stuff I bought on Ebay and I’ll keep learning about how to sell them so I can get my own Ebay store eventually. I will use that knowledge to help sell funny stuff for Uranus Factory Outlet. I’m learning for the future and having fun too. My friend Richard Caan sells cards full time but it isn’t easy.

He’s got a real eye for cards and knows how to buy right and sell right too. He’s my age and has a knack for the hobby I don’t think I ever will. I buy from him frequently because we like a lot of the same stuff and he’s always been very fair with me. It makes it all fun.

Fun is what I focused on in my thoughts today. What’s REALLY fun? I thought about it all the way home and then watched a DVD documentary about Elton John and how he put the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ album together. It was really interesting and everybody involved all talked about how it ‘all just came together’ and ‘everything fell into place’.

Quincy Jones talked about that same vibe with Michael Jackson and ‘Thriller’ also. It’s a peak of creativity when everything comes together and that success will never be seen at that level again. The Beatles had it with ‘Sergeant Pepper’ and George Clinton had it with ‘One Nation Under A Groove’. It’s the peak of a career when everything is at it’s zenith.

In a lot of ways I think I’m at that place in my life right now. If I were to die today I feel like I left some of my best stuff inside me and that thought repulses me. I have a recorded comedy course on cassette from 1997 and my one CD recorded in 2003. That’s all I have to show for a lifetime of hard work and I don’t think that’s enough. I’ve got WAY more.

I want to have the effect on people in the same way I felt when I saw ‘Airplane’ for the first time. I was in high school and I went with my brother and sister and cousins and we laughed so hard we couldn’t see straight. We talked about it for months and it blew us all away. THAT’S the kind of reaction I want and it doesn’t matter if it’s a standup comedy CD or DVD or movie appearance or funny commercials as the King of Uranus. I want it.

Another Hell Gig

April 12th, 2008 - Richland Center, WI

Tonight was my first and last appearance in scenic Richland Center, WI. I hope the few people who were there enjoyed it because they’re not going to see it again. In fact I didn’t even want to finish the show when I was up there and almost walked off several times. If I didn’t like the guy who booked it so much I would have gotten in my car immediately.

Fletcher Lee is the guy who booked the show. He’s been very nice to me for years and I like him very much. He’s honest and hard working and he never claims his gigs are going to be anything but an agreed upon amount of money. Most of them are ok and I just did a couple recently that went very well so this one was unexpected. I wish I’d turned it down.

I also made it worse by leaving later than I wanted to because I had some work to finish up on my Gene Perret correspondence writing course. I wanted to finish that all up as it’s my last installment of a twelve week course and this is my final exam to be critiqued by a master comedy writer of all time. I thought that pulled rank over Richland Center, WI.

I wound my way through the two lane back roads on US Highway 12 and of course that was the exact time it started to rain, sleet and snow and every conceivable combination of those three things imaginable. That made me later and it was frustrating but I felt good for having finished my lesson and sending it in on time. The deadline was midnight tonight.

The show was in a sports bar’s upstairs hall and when I got there the opener had already come off. There were about twenty people sitting there looking at me like I owed them an explanation. They had a free drink from the bar and that’s about all they really cared for. I could tell I had wasted my time as soon as I walked into the room but I was already there.

Everything was wrong about this gig. The mike chord didn’t connect well and there was a short in it and it went out time and time again. I didn’t really need a mike I guess but it’s more professional that way so I didn’t want to give up that power. These people didn’t get it. I don’t think any of them had ever been out in public before much less seen comedians.

They rudely talked with each other from time to time and one idiot even took a call and talked out loud for a couple of minutes. I wanted to just put the mike down and go home but I thought of Fletcher and stayed on. He would have a hard time getting paid and I did not want to lose my pay either since I already drove through snow and sleet to get here.

There was an especially obnoxious imbecile who had a deep gravely voice and he kept interrupting right at my punch lines. He had impeccable timing I’ll give him that. He had a knack for blowing any chance of me getting a rhythm going with these hard conditions. I tried to be calm and not let it bother me but finally I snapped and really let him have it.

The owner was downstairs and didn’t watch and these people were not worth my time to explain how to act at a comedy show. These are the people I talk about in my closing bit that shouldn’t breed. I wasted my night tonight and also gas but at least I got paid.

I need to be more careful of what I say yes to anymore. I didn’t make out all that well by the time I paid for gas and something to eat and it sure wasn’t a gig to do for fun. I had an awful time and the harder I tried to entertain this group of bumpkins the more they didn’t want any part of it. I have no idea why the bar tried comedy but I know they lost money.

There was a hotel involved but I told the owner I didn’t need one and he was upset as he already paid for the room. I told him I would drive over there and take care of it and I did. The people at the hotel were very nice even if they had a few teeth missing and I decided I wanted to cut my ties with Richland Center, WI once and for all. I left and it felt fantastic.

I’ve worked way too hard to bring myself down by doing these self esteem killer shows. They’re not even shows, they’re frustration sessions. I never thought I’d say this but there is no thrill in these shows anymore. I’ve done it so many times any kind of exhilaration is squelched by the disappointment of having to slug it out with drunks one more evening.

I like to work at my craft of comedy not my babysitting skills. All I did tonight was take potshots at various babbling boobs who were never taught social graces in their trailers. It might sound condescending and I suppose it is but I won’t allow myself to keep offering a well crafted show up to crowds who don’t appreciate it. I’m not a whore, I’m a call girl.

One thing that has been going very well in the last few days is my off stage work on my act. I worked hard on the plane trip west on writing down ideas for my Gene Perret course and today I handed in an assignment I’m proud of. I worked on it and put my time in and I will get something out of it in the near future. Gene has a knack for helping me improve.

We have a great synergy together as mentor/student. I try to get in the heads of my own students and when I hook up with someone like a Vince Carone or Tony Talley or several others it’s a total win/win situation. It’s fun for me and I can see improvement in them as well. It’s the same way here with Gene. I’m the student this time but I can feel the spark.

This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve taken his course and it’s worth every penny and a lot more. Gene wrote for Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller and Bill Cosby and a lot of others and he shares stories about how they came up and it’s always interesting and informative. I’ve learned a lot from this particular session as well and I’m glad I put the effort in yet again.

Comedians would probably make fun of me for taking the course once much less all the times I did but I don’t really care. I’m learning and improving and I can feel it. I now have 35 new jokes I wrote and they all pertain to being Mr. Lucky which is what I told him the main focus of my act should be. I broke the jokes into subcategories and he’ll critique it.

The next thing I need to work on is the movie script I’ve been letting sit way too long. If I had worked on that tonight rather than wasted my time in Richland Center I’d be in way better spirits than I am now. Plus I’d be able to save the wear and tear on my car. I learned a lot tonight and even though I got paid it will be a much better payday if I have a finished script to sell or Uranus Factory Outlet making money for me. Farewell Richland Center.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ticket To Ride

Friday April 11th, 2008 - San Francisco, CA/Chicago, IL

A little glitch in the master plan today. I left the hotel after the show so I could make it back to San Francisco to catch my flight back to Chicago at 7am. It was a long dangerous winding drive through dark roads and steep hills at 6000 feet and I didn’t want to take any needless chances on missing my plane so I decided to leave right after I got paid. So I did.

I made it through the dangerous part with no problems at all and carefully headed west on I-80 and down the mountain where the Donner Party had their little smorgasbord party back in the day. I can’t imagine being stuck there with no food and I was afraid even to be in a car on a paved road having to cross over that terrain. It’s a LOT scarier than it seems.

I thought the worst was over as I saw the mountains flatten out to a regular old highway terrain as I neared Sacramento. I noticed a couple of people zooming past me at speeds of what had to be over 100 miles an hour. They had souped up looking cars and I haven’t an idea who they were or what they were doing but I could see I didn’t want to be near them.

This happened four or five times and I wasn’t thrilled about it especially at 2am. Who’s out then? Drunks, pimps and comedians too stupid to book flights closer to their gig. I did not want to get rear ended by a coked up pimp in a souped up hoopty on my way home at 2 in the morning but what could I do about it? I turned up the radio and kept on driving.

A couple of minutes later I noticed flashing sirens in my mirror and thought they might be after those maniacs but it turned out they were after ME. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly pulled over and held up my hands like I always do when I’m pulled over especially late at night. I have found cops a lot less edgy if they can see both of my hands the whole time.

I refrained from any Erik Estrada jokes as he came to the passenger’s side and asked for my license and proof of insurance which I had. He said with an unhidden blast of disgust ‘I got you going at 80 miles an hour. EIGHTY.’ Then he shook his head and walked back to write my ticket. I couldn’t believe he stopped me and not those other guys going faster.

He must have been in the car twenty minutes and I wasn’t sure if I had any outstanding warrants or unpaid parking tickets in Kalamazoo that might bite me in the short hairs at 2am in Sacramento when I’m trying to catch a plane. Nope. He handed me the ticket and said I’d be hearing from the state in the mail in about three weeks. And then that was it.

I thought that was really strange and it was stranger that there wasn’t even an amount on the ticket. I’ve had a couple of speeding tickets now in the last few months and it’s been a huge hassle not only to pay them but to have to jump through all the hoops of each state.

I hope it doesn’t jack my insurance up my tail pipe but it probably will. What can I do? I know, I know. DON’T SPEED. Ha. A lot easier to say than to do and I challenge anyone driving to ‘quit speeding’. Not so easy. I have never seen anything ever called ‘The Great American Speed Off’ where speeders quit cold turkey. We like to push our driving limits.

THIS Is Why I Do This

Thursday April 10th, 2008 - North Lake Tahoe, NV

Days like today are why I haven’t put a bullet in my head yet. When things go like they have been going lately it’s easy to question my life and career choices but then I’ll have a day like I had today and it all gets crystal clear. I’m on the correct path, at least for today.

I got up and checked out of the hotel in Oroville because I wanted to not have a stressed out drive and get lost on the way to North Lake Tahoe. I lived in Reno a few years ago for a year or so when I had a radio gig there but I never went to this part of Lake Tahoe and it is easy to get lost around these parts. There’s a lot more wilderness than paved roads here.

Most of my drive today was two lane highway through some of the most amazing roads in North America. I sat behind the wheel of my rental car in stunned silence worshipping the spectacular raw mountain scenery that can’t be duplicated on any postcard. This has to be seen and felt and smelled in person to get the full effect and that’s what I did all day.

The sun was out but it was a little crisp and I had to keep cracking the window and then rolling it back up when it got too cold. Then the sun would heat it up inside again and I’d roll the window back down. I didn’t mind because every curve in the road would bring an entirely new batch of awe inspiring natural beauty which made me very glad I’d come.

Exploring scenery in the west has always been one of my favorite things about being on the road for my whole life and I never get sick of it. When I’m in a foul mood this pokes a hidden supply of adrenaline I didn’t know I had and invigorates my whole being. I feel a strong sense of pride in being an American whenever I see all this natural beauty up close.

The drive was only about 200 miles in length but it took a lot longer than it should have because there were a lot of two lane roads and steep hills and dangerous curves and it’s an obstacle course that can’t be sped through without extreme danger. One wrong move in a tight spot and I’m Purina Critter Chow. There are lots of hungry mouths in those woods.

I made it to the Crystal Bay Casino which is literally right on the state line of Nevada. It is right next to the ‘Welcome To California’ sign and I always think it’s cool to do that. It was a pleasant surprise to see my name up on the marquee outside of the hotel and it was even spelled correctly! I didn’t expect either one and that made me even happier I came.

I checked into the hotel and they gave me a VIP room that was again very classy. These can get addictive especially after all the fleabags I’ve stayed in over the years. This is why I like working in casinos. They know how to take care of their entertainers. It’s only good business because the happier we are the better shows we’ll do for their customers later.

The hotel was right on Lake Tahoe and the view was heart stopping. I went to the diner across the street to have lunch because the restaurant in the hotel was closed for repairing or remodeling or something but whatever it was it was closed for a few days. The diner is across the street and had an even more all inclusive view of the lake and the mountains.

What a way to eat lunch. THIS is why I’ve chased my dreams all these years. I wouldn’t have ever seen a sight like this had I listened to my Grandfather and gotten a civil service job in Milwaukee like he wanted me to and like my father and uncle did. They lost out. It was worth it all just to sit in that diner and eat a BLT and gawk at this one of a kind sight.

I looked across the street and saw the marquee with my name on it and that was a scene I will replay in my head for a long time. The band Asleep At The Wheel is playing in the lounge tomorrow and they’re on the marquee too but it looked like all one sentence when I looked at it. “Dobie Maxwell Asleep At The Wheel”. Maybe that’s a cosmic warning.

The last thing I need is to be asleep at the wheel in my life. Especially now. I have to be at my best in the thinking and planning department and in the doing too. I sat there eating lunch and soaking it all in and I realized that no matter how much money I didn’t happen to take in this week this experience will be worth the trip. I am in sync with the universe.

After lunch I was walking back to the hotel and I saw the opener Mike Betancourt. He’s 26 and just getting started and very eager to learn. I asked him if he wanted to take a drive around Lake Tahoe and his eyes bugged out with excitement. ‘SURE!! Let’s go!’ I was as exuberant as that when I started out and I love being around that kind of positive energy.

We started driving and he started to pick my brain about comedy and I told him a lot of good solid pointers that would really help him. I remember when I was starting how much that meant when the headliner would even talk to me so I tried to make it fun for us both. I love to talk about comedy and he was in a mood to listen and we both enjoyed the scene.

The drive was a lot longer than we’d expected but it was worth every second. If I’ve got to fork out four bucks a gallon for gas I want something to make it worth it and this was it by far. We wound our way through mountain roads and even saw some live bears. We did not expect that and stopped the car and almost got rear ended but again it was worth it.

It was good to be able to share some pointers with Mike and I hope he remembers a few of them but even if he doesn’t neither one of us will forget the lap around the lake with all that optical stimulation. We could barely take it all in but we kept our eyes open anyway.

The show tonight was another great one. The room was pretty full and it was a beautiful setup for comedy. There was a big stage and nice lighting and the mike was booming and sharp until the power went out and I had to stand up there and wing it until they fixed it. I have enough experience where I can do that and it got the respect of everyone in the joint.

This was not a moneymaking trip this time but I had fun anyway. The feature act was an amazingly funny woman named Kristi McHugh out of L.A. by way of Iowa. She had very strong jokes and is blonde and gorgeous and I bet she’ll go far if the right person sees her.

Unfortunately she’s smart and funny and that usually doesn’t go with blonde and sexy. If I had power she’d get a shot because she’s hilarious. But I don’t. I’m just making a living.

Stress Test Passed

Wednesday April 9th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL/Oroville, CA

Nothing like starting out the day with a dose of major stress. Acid reflux and an air tight bung hole are the two ingredients I always want to have as part of my day before 6am and today that’s exactly what I got. It eventually cleared up but I didn’t know that at 5:35 as it dawned on me I was intending to be on the road by 5 at the very latest. I was pushing it.

I needed to be all the way on the south side of Chicago to get to Midway Airport for my 7:20 flight to San Francisco so I could rent a car and drive 200 miles to Oroville to do my show at the Gold Country Casino. I originally booked it thinking I’d had a weekend out in Salt Lake City and this was going to be my plane fare but they bumped me in Salt Lake.

That happens and I’m not upset about it but I thought I’d be able to cancel the casino as well and just rebook the whole run at a later date. Nope. They’re booked by two different people and the guy with the casino gig said they don’t like cancellations so I had to do it.

I guess I didn’t HAVE to do it but had I cancelled it would have been a black mark for me with that booker and I don’t want to do that. I am a man of my word and if I say I will do something I really do try my best to do it. That being said I still overslept and was late and no matter how noble my intentions were I was in danger of missing my plane totally.

There was an upside down rollover accident right at the entrance of the freeway where I get on and traffic was backed up for miles. I inched ahead while turning on the radio and I heard the traffic reports talking about how bad this accident was and of course how that’s the only place in the area with any backups whatsoever. It was kind of funny but then not.

I really didn’t want to miss my flight even though I would barely break even by the time I paid for the plane and parking and gas and the rental car and food. I finally made it past all the mess and lit it up as fast as humanly possible in my Honda. I was pushing 80 and it didn’t feel like it so I hit 90. I was going to do everything in my power to make that plane.

I took 294 South to I-55 North and then it backed up again. I pulled a stunt I would not normally do an drove on the shoulder past the jam up and got off on Cicero Avenue for a final race against the clock to see if I could make it. By now it was nearing 6:45 and I was ready to pop a blood vessel in my brain at any moment. My stress-o-meter was red lining.

There was a woman talking on a cell phone blocking the remote parking lane and I laid on the horn until she finally got the message. She could see by the look in my eye I wasn’t kidding so she moved on without incident. Good for her. Good for me too. I don’t need to add a murder charge to my already growing list of problems. I just wanted to get there.

Catching the shuttle bus was a different story. I just missed one and the next one was on the other side of the lot and all I could do was wait for it. I could feel my upper and lower cheeks dimple up with pressure and I stood there rocking back and forth hoping it would do some kind of good getting the driver to hurry up and come across that lot. It didn’t.

He finally showed up and I got on and then it took a few more minutes to get back over to the actual terminal but we did and I ran all the way to the ticket counter which wasn’t a problem because it was pretty empty. They said I wouldn’t be guaranteed to get my bag at the same time the plane showed up if indeed I made the plane. I sprinted to try to make it.

Airline security has got to look for the most clueless people they can find who still have a need to exploit their authority. I politely told the lady who was supposed to examine my ID and boarding pass that I was in a huge hurry and could she please slide me through.

She looked at me like I just stole her last nacho chip. Then she stared at my license like I handed her a Where’s Waldo puzzle and then she started talking to her cohort on where to go for lunch later. I thought I would have to beat her to death right there but she let me go and I got to the gate just as they were closing it up. I was the last person on but I made it.

My heart was pounding as I found the last seat on the plane but then I realized that I did make it and rather than focus on almost missing it I thought about making it to Oroville to do the gig there. Last time I worked there I had a similar situation and it was a major issue getting to the place just as the show started. It was also major stress and I barely made it.

I was on the plane though and it was a lot earlier than last time so my chances were very good I’d make it in plenty of time. I did a crossword puzzle and then worked on my Gene Perret comedy writing course exercise which is due Saturday. My stress went away and it was a productive four hours in the air as I got a lot done. I almost didn’t want it to land.

When we landed I got right on the tram and picked up my rental car and headed out for Oroville. There were no glitches from that point on and I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Northern California. I’ve always loved it here and I love it even more when the clock isn’t ticking to get to a show. I made it to the casino at 4pm and checked in relaxed.

The shows here haven’t been the greatest but I keep working here because the money is pretty good and the accomodations are top shelf. They give us a Jacuzzi suite and feed us and they really want comedy so that’s always nice. This gig usually paid for my flights.

This week there was no place else to go so I just looked on it as a vacation. When I got to the sports bar where the show is it was emptier than I’d ever seen it. Red flag. But then at show time there was a mad rush and for whatever reason they were there to see comedy and they were by far the best audience I’ve ever seen here. They made it a total pleasure.

I had them from opening to closing and then there was a line afterward to both meet me and shake hands and surprisingly enough buy a CD. Casino gigs are a tough sell because I don’t pretend to be able to compete with slot machines but not tonight. They bought a lot.

If I had to break even on a gig this wasn’t bad at all. The openers were both very funny and nice to work with and this was a pleasant experience all around. I’m glad I didn’t give up and miss my plane. Two hours of stress vs. the rest of this day was worth the tradeoff.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Call Me Controversial

Tuesday April 8th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

From one controversy to another. I feel like Amy Winehouse or Pac Man Jones. All day long I’ve been getting calls and emails asking ‘Did you see Shecky? You made front page news!’ What they’re referring to is the online comedy publication Shecky Magazine. The recent blog I wrote about John Yoder made it across their desk and they commented on it.

‘They’ are Brian McKim and Traci Skene. They’re both comics out of Philadelphia and I’ve known them for years. They started the magazine in 1999 and it’s become a flagship in the comedy business for who’s who and what’s what and they’ve done a great job with it. They both love comedy and pour their heart and soul into it and I respect their passion.

They didn’t agree with what I wrote about John Yoder’s losing work as a death knell in comedy and they spoke their mind. That’s fine. People were asking me how I’d react to it thinking I’d spout off a laundry list of harsh retorts but I’m not angry or upset at all. I only worried if John Yoder would be upset but I talked to him on the phone and he was calm.

The only bashing I need to do is against ME. I’m the one who put myself in this delicate situation and it’s up to me to get out of it. I take full responsibility. What I was attempting to say in that article was that everything shifts in life and the comedy business is doing it.

I am too. I’m now 45 and grisled and have different wants and needs than when I was a 25 year old punk who thought I knew it all. The Yoders of the world were thought to be a pot of gold waiting to be raided and the comedy business was new and growing. That’s an out of date fact now and in reality there aren’t too many more places comedy can expand.

There are a lot of clubs having problems right now for various reasons. I don’t think the business is ever going to go away but people in my situation need to be careful or we will get passed by. That is happening to me in a way and I’m aware of it even more after going to see John Yoder. He knows it and he’s no dummy either. We’re both trying to survive.

Brian and Traci are trying to survive too. They are both comics and writers and it’s their job to call it like they see it just like I do. They write for people in the comedy industry on many levels while my little daily diaper full is mainly for me. I try to make it easy to read for someone who doesn’t know comedy that well but wants to get a peek inside the door.

I am finding I’m getting a wide range of readership from both the comedy and civilian world and from past experience I’ve found that the best way to please nobody is to try to please everybody so that’s not what I’m going to do. If someone is angry with what I say or write or do I’ve had lots of experience with that. It’s no big deal. I can handle backlash.

What I don’t want is to have run ins with people who I didn’t intend to run in with. I am not angry at John Yoder at all. In fact I like him personally and respect his honesty. I have never EVER had a problem getting paid what I was owed and no matter what some might say he’s been nothing but fair and accommodating to me. I hope he can rebound nicely.

There are other bookers that comics like to complain about all the time too. Tom Sobel is one and Bert Haas from Zanies is another. Those guys have both been nothing but nice to me as well and I don’t have a bad word for either of them. A lot of comics don’t feel as positive toward those guys as I do but that’s their business. As for me I have no problems.

I have no problems with Brian and Traci either. Some people thought they bashed me or were unfair with what they said but I really didn’t think they were. They said what was on their mind and it didn’t hurt me at all. Who’s right? Who knows? We all view it uniquely.

This blog is meant to open up a window to what it’s like in my world warts and all. I do not sugar coat anything and I write what I feel. It’s gotten me in trouble more than once in the past and may again in the future but that’s ok. At least I know someone is reading it. It isn’t interesting to everyone and that’s why I try to mix it up a little so I can keep it fresh.

One thing I respect in people is ACTION. We can all sit back and think we can do a lot better than something we see but most people never once take any action. That’s not easy and I know it. Maybe people think my rantings stink and that’s fine. Let them write their own diary and keep it going every day for over two years. We’ll reconvene in April 2010.

In my description of John Yoder’s reaction I called the look in his eye ‘shell shocked’. I felt that way today after going through the nightmare of this situation with my partner in comedy classes for the past few days and now this latest posting on the Shecky website. I am going to just hang out today and relax and watch some movies or sort baseball cards.

That’s what would take the edge off this for me. I can see why people drink or do drugs. I’d probably be high or drunk by now but that’s not an issue so I guess it could be worse. I am going through a bump in the road right now and tomorrow I’m back on the road for a couple of days out west. I wish I could blow it off and just hang out but I need to go do it.

The best way to approach all this is with the mentality of the dung beetle. I push my ball of dung across the desert all day and hope the lizards don’t kill and eat me for lunch. If I make it to the end of the day I can hope to get a fresh ball of dung to push tomorrow. I’ll hopefully live to tell another tale and write another blog and hopefully I won’t hit a nerve.

That’s unlikely though. Usually I have a knack for getting reactions out of people on one level or another. When it’s good it seems to go away quickly but when it’s bad it lingers. I don’t want any trouble with John Yoder or Tom Sobel or Shecky Magazine or anyone but it usually doesn’t work that way for me. I didn’t want any trouble with my partner either.

The one thing I can hold on to through all of this is that I have paid my dues and can go up on a stage at a comedy club and blow away most audiences. I have spent a lifetime of learning painful lessons and making sacrifices to get this skill and I know I’ve earned it.

A lot of other people want that but they don’t have it. No matter who I piss off or who’s jealous of me or who bans me from working their club they can’t take that away from me.