Friday, May 30, 2008

A Tankful Of Thankful

Friday May 30th, 2008 - St. Charles, IL

Today was filled with milestones and overwhelm. I’ve had feelings of overwhelm many times in my life but the difference is today that feeling is of gratitude. I am so thankful for so much it’s all I could think about all day and I need to acknowledge it to the universe.

It’s so easy to get in a rut and focus on the negative or what I don’t have but today was a day of celebrating what has gone right. When I started doing comedy I had no idea what it took to pursue it or if I had any abilities but I forged ahead anyway. If I could have looked ahead then and seen where I am now I would have sold my soul and a lung and a kidney.

It turns out that would have been a better deal than what I actually did give up. I gave it ALL my whole life to get where I am and took more than my share of lumps. I had to get here on my own without any coat tails to ride on and to make it worse I did a lot of stupid things along the way to make it even more difficult. I learned my lessons but it was hard.

It still is. I sometimes get lonely and depressed and think I’ve wasted my life and have a lot of serious doubts as to what I’ve done with what I’ve been given but today I got a hint that I actually did a few smart things after all. It made me feel like I‘m still in the game.

I took my walk this morning through the Gurnee Mills Mall. It’s about a half hour a lap and a nice workout. I took two laps and was just finishing up when Jerry Agar called and said his family would be gone tonight and asked if I wanted to hang out. Tomorrow is his birthday and I was going to call him anyway so I said I would take him for birthday chow.

He took a train from WLS out to Geneva and I picked him up there. We started working together when he was at a station out there and I was just starting at Zanies as an opener. I had no idea that all these years later our lives would have taken us to both be on WLS. He has totally earned it but I have too and we talked about that as we drove through Geneva.

We passed where the old station used to be located and then passed the Baker’s Square restaurant where we had breakfast for the first time after his show. It was closed down but the building was still standing and if it was open we would have had to have eaten there.

Instead we went to a steakhouse in St. Charles I had been to before. It was a great place and I had Alaskan king crab legs that were the best I ever had. ‘Market price’ was $45 the last time I was there but today it was $71. What, is OPEC now in the king crab business?

Even though it cost a lot more than I expected I still bought and didn’t mention it. Jerry had a nice chunk of prime rib that looked delicious and the food was still as marvelous as I remembered it from before. We had a relaxing feast and talked about what we’ve built.

We’ve both been through a lot of down periods and rejection and it’s great to see how it paid off. Jerry has a job at WLS and is making his mark in a huge market. He let me come along for the ride and now our Jerry’s Kidders idea has legs and is about to start walking.

Whether it makes us millionaires or not doesn’t matter at this point. Getting it to where it is now from just an idea is what’s so damn satisfying. We sat in that Baker’s Square for many a breakfast wondering what our futures would be. He went one way and I went in a completely different direction and now all these years later we’ve hooked back up again.

I ate my crab legs and enjoyed every bite. I dunked them in butter and it might give my aorta even more blockage than it already has but it tasted like heaven. I earned every bite with my own efforts and I was thankful for every sumptuous mouthful. It was orgasmic but as I finished I realized I don’t have a need to do this ever again. I can live without it.

It wasn’t the expensive meal in a nice restaurant that made me so grateful. It was all the events that made today possible. All those mistakes that educated me to learn my craft of comedy that got me hired so many times and allowed me to live my dream was the rush.

If I have to eat beans and ramen noodles the rest of my life I will still be grateful for the process that feels so satisfying to me today. I’m not the weak opener I was when I started. I’m a SOLID headline act now and nobody would doubt that. Even those who think I’m a complete putz always say ‘He’s very funny BUT…’ and that’s all the proof I’ll ever need.

I thought about how far I’ve come as a comic tonight during the show. Richard Reese is the middle act this week and he’s very green. He’s from Omaha and I think this is his first paid week on the road. He’s 26 and a very sharp kid but his act is all over the place. All of us are all over the place when we start. It goes with the territory. I was the same way too.

He is supposed to do 30 minutes but both last night and tonight he bailed at about 16 or 17. That’s a major shortage but I can totally relate. The first week I was in that spot I was in Pittsburgh at the Funny Bone and I ran out of material at about the same point. The guy who bailed me out was a Boston comic named Jay Charbonneau. He really saved my ass.

I don’t know what happened to Jay but I hope he’s doing well. He covered the time for me with no problem and now it was my turn to cover for Richard. He’s the wide eyed kid that I was back then and he apologized and felt awkward exactly like I did in Pittsburgh.

I sat him down and told him how nobody is ready to make the jump into a new position but we all have to do it anyway at some point and the first few times aren’t easy. I had the horrible feeling of knowing I was out of material way before I was supposed to be and he did too the last couple of nights. I told him to not worry and pay it forward just like I am.

I thought he was going to give me a kiss and his eyes lit up like a pinball machine. He’s a smart funny kid and will catch on just like I did. We all need a jump start and he’s going to be fine. This was my turn to pay back that favor Jay Charbonneau did for me in 1986.

I let it rip again tonight and I could only think of how much sheer fun it’s been to get to this point. I covered Richard’s time without blinking and had a blast doing it. Jerry was at the back of the room laughing and I’m totally grateful for how far we‘ve both progressed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fabulous Babes

Wednesday May 28th, 2008 - St. Charles, IL

Back on the rock pile today making little ones out of big ones. I’ve got so many projects in various stages of disarray it‘s getting confusing even for me. I continued the process of reducing them all into more bite sized chunks to make that big pile a lot less intimidating.

I spent about three hours sorting through a gigantic stack of papers I’ve been saving for way too long. I had them in boxes for several moves and I sorted some of the boxes and it shrunk down to one box but that box was still all over the place and unsorted. Until today.

There were a lot of things I can use in that pile so it was totally time well spent. I found phone numbers of people I haven’t talked to in a while including Anna Davlantes. She’s a news reporter from NBC 5 in Chicago and she sat in with us when I worked at the Loop.

She is one of the most beautiful women on earth and even though she looks great on TV she’s even better in person. She’s a sweetheart and very smart and funny too. She came to a couple of shows and we had lunch a few times and I really enjoy her company. I am not in her league and don’t claim to be but hanging out with her is fun. I feel totally at home.

That’s one thing about working at the Loop, there were stunning women all around. The traffic person Tanya was world class hot as was Susanna Homan who writes a column for the Sun-Times. She was on with us every week doing a bit on what to do on the weekend but she could have read the yellow pages and we would have sat there and let her do it.

Being around beautiful women is empowering. It’s good for the self esteem and helps in many ways. Confidence grows and life is better all around. I love the company of women in general but when they look like Susanna or Tanya or especially Anna it’s even better.

Besides finding several numbers I also found some comedy class notes and articles that I forgot I had and that pumped me up too. I will have more to work with as I rework all of my notes yet again and prepare to start reinventing the comedy classes for another session at Zanies. People are asking for them and I will move ahead and have one available soon.

I heard from my new web person Shelley today and her computer crashed with a lot of my Uranus stuff on it. She was bummed out about it and I can’t say I was thrilled to hear it either. I don’t know how bad it is or what I need to do to get it up and running again but what can I do? I’m at her mercy right now and this isn’t at all what I expected to hear.

I also got a bill from the lawyer for the Uranus project for $160 for one hour of work he allegedly did on my trademark search. How do I know he did it? The bill didn’t even have any details as to what was done. All it says is that I owe the money so I guess I’m stuck.

On another front I checked mail today too and still no check from Topeka. This was not unexpected and I’m getting a wee bit scorched. If I owed them money they’d never let me forget it until it was paid off in full. Then everyone wonders why famous people are jerks.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shaking It Up

Tuesday May 27th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Back to work with a vengeance today. This whole weekend was fun but now it’s time to get down to business and make something happen. I’ve been farting around too long and I know it. Fun is fun but time is slipping away. It’s the end of May and the clock is ticking.

Whatever choices I made good and bad have led me to where I am now. I took time to assess my position on many fronts today and decide where I want to go from here. I think the hardest part of all this is keeping myself on a single path to accomplishing my goals.

I’ll start on something and then get sidetracked on something else and then still another project or idea or distraction comes along and takes me off the second path and before too long I’m wandering around in circles with nothing accomplished. That’s happened a lot.

This time of year is the best there is weather wise and I am going to make it a plan to do my best to use this time wisely. It’s probably this period in my life too. I’ve gone through a tough winter getting here but now I’m ready to enjoy the sunshine for a healthy stretch.

I got back out and started walking again today after I’d let it lapse for a couple of days. I was going good there for about a week and then the weekend came and I slacked off. I did feel like I was starting a good groove with it but it sure disappeared quickly. I didn’t want to slide back too far so I thought it was important to get back out and start again so I did.

I also lapsed in my healthy eating quest as well. It only takes a couple of greasy meals to slide back into the abyss and I did exactly that. Why does bad food taste so damn GOOD? I really felt it though and at least I know I screwed up and am back on track once more.

Sodas have been my downfall and that will be a challenge to avoid them but I need to. It felt good to start in a good direction last week and I did feel better in only a few days but I see how it takes even less time to slide back into bad habits. I turned it around again today by going to the Golden Corral and packing as many vegetables down my pipe as I could.

This is a fight and I’m ready for it. Life doesn’t just fall into place by itself. There has to be a plan there on many levels and that plan has to be executed. I have been waffling way too long and need to reshape my plan for where I am NOW. I started to rethink everything and put things in their proper order. I will have to keep doing that over and over forever.

Weeds grow in everyone’s garden and it’s a whole lot easier to pull a few here and there as maintenance than to let them pile up and choke out any productive crops. I am starting to get a plan for the big picture of the rest of my life and I thought about it all day today.

I broke all my projects down into individual categories and made notes on what I think I need to do with each one to keep steady progress going. I hope to keep it all in a workable order by using ‘Stephen King Style’ time management. I will focus on two or three of the projects each day for a specific time and have a plan rather than how I’ve been doing it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reflect And Respect

Monday May 26th, 2008 - Beloit, WI

If I’ve ever thought for a millisecond about acting cocky concerning my radio abilities it surely ended today. For the second straight year WLS put on ‘The Big Radio Rewind’ which brought back legends that made the station a blowtorch powerhouse in the ‘70s.

All day from 6am until midnight it was a throwback to the glory days of top 40 radio. It was a clinic to listen to people like Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards followed by Fred Winston and also John Records Landecker at night. Those guys are radio Hall of Famers.

They make it all seem to effortless but anyone who knows anything knows it’s not. It’s actually very difficult but these guys are all pros and it was a pleasure to listen to them all back on the air. Everyone was still as sharp as ever and I was in awe of their major talent.

What made it even better was that every hour they gave away prize packs and tickets for our Jerry’s Kidders show at Zanies in June was part of the package. The jocks all plugged the show and us and it felt like I died and went to heaven to hear it over and over all day.

I sure hope we pack the joint that week if for no other reason than to make the station’s faith in us pay off. Kipper McGee did us a huge favor by including us in the mix of all the fun today and radio geeks nationwide heard about us all day long. We got big props. It is in fact probably the best push I’ve ever received from any media outlet for a show I’m on.

We won’t let them down either. If we can pack any place we will tear the roof off as far as the show goes. That’s never going to be the problem. The hard part is getting butts in a room and even though we had huge exposure there’s still no guarantee we’ll draw flies.

I talked to Jerry about it today and he said it won’t be one thing that puts us over and he is totally right. It’s a bunch of little things and eventually we’ll be a known entity. I agree. We’ve been on the air steadily for about six months now. That’s still not enough time for establishing a brand but every week we go in there it doesn’t hurt. This didn’t hurt either.

There would have been no way to buy that many mentions even if all of us pooled every dime we could come up with. The station is behind this project and that’s what I’ve been shooting for my entire life. Every other radio job I had was supposed to be exactly this. If it took all the other horrendous flops to get to this one winner then I guess it was worth it.

This is as big as it gets in radio. The Loop was big but this is bigger. I am so grateful for this chance I can’t put it into words. My friend Tom Orlando sent me an email today after he read my entry yesterday and told me I was stupid to even think twice about the guys up in Milwaukee who can’t stand me and he’s totally right. Dave Luczak or Larry Lujack?

There’s no comparison. Larry Lujack is a legend and a Hall of Famer. Enough said. I’m thankful to be able to be a part of the same station and sit in the same studio each Monday that those guys did today. I’m not in their league but at least I’m on the same air waves.

Mark Shilobrit called me today and was still giddy about the Rodney tie. He loves it and has already made a prominent place on the wall of his den for it and I knew he would. It’s going to get a lot of love and attention and if I can be a part of doing that it’s a no brainer.

Mark has season tickets to the Beloit Snappers minor league baseball team and he asked if I wanted to go to the game. I was going to hang out and get stuff done at home with the radio on so I could listen to the WLS shows but it was too nice a day to sit inside and rot.

Thankfully I have a radio in my car so I drove to Beloit and listened all the way there. It was a picture perfect day and that always puts me in a good mood and there were also lots of yard sales to stop and gawk. It was a laid back day doing a lot of things I really enjoy.

Beloit, WI will always have a special place in both Mark’s and my heart. It’s where we both went ‘on the road’ to do comedy for the first time. C. Cardell Willis was a mentor to both of us and he had a place in Beloit that was owned by a local cop that did comedy and Cardell would bring us down there once or twice a year to perform. We felt like big stars.

Mark and I relived some of those shows and it was wonderful. We both loved to work a show with Cardell just because he was such a good person. It was our education not only in comedy but learning how to perform ‘out of town’. It really was a big step for us then.

It was also great to watch the minor league baseball atmosphere from my perspective at this point in my life. Those kids are young and hungry and have dreams of grandeur. I bet they all think they’re going to make the majors but in reality only a few if any ever will.

I watched the kids running up with pens to get autographs and the young girls squeal for their favorite players and it was really a slice of Americana. I ate my hot dog and was glad to be an American on Memorial Day. The freedoms I enjoy are not forgotten for a second.

That’s still one thing I don’t joke about. Yes I’m a major whiner and complainer a lot of the time and some of my gripes are probably legit but today they are all out the window. It doesn’t mean a damn thing what I like or don’t like when soldiers lost their lives for me.

I hate war and the thought of war and I’d never be able to brave it out like so many have for so long to allow me to sit in a baseball stadium in the sun on a gorgeous day because I chose to do it. That feeling of freedom is precious and I’m glad I had gratitude about it so drilled into me by my grandfather when I was a kid. He taught me to appreciate America.

Do I ever. No, I’m not thrilled about gas prices but who is? I’m even less thrilled about our government and the potential people to become our president but I still would not live anywhere else. I am grateful for this country and all the freedoms that go with living here.

I wish wars would stop and we could all live in peace but that’s just not a reality. I have nothing but respect and empathy for all the families who have lost a brother or husband or father or anyone close to them. Today was a day to reflect and respect and I absolutely do.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Miles Of Smiles

Sunday May 25th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI

No Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha today but I went up there anyway to help a friend live a dream. Bert Haas is the booker of Zanies but he is also a writer and is working on a play about a young comedian being visited by the ghosts of comedians who have passed away. It’s kind of like An Evening At The Improv meets A Christmas Carol.

Bert has done me too many favors in my life to count. Whenever I have needed work he has filled my calendar and kept my dream alive so the least I could do was help feed his. I hired one of the engineers at the radio station to record the play and Bert brought the cast.

I played the small part of a jaded road warrior comedian that wasn’t too far from what I play in real life. That lead into the young comic played by a very funny up and comer kid named Bryan Berrey. Mark Shilobrit was also in it and he played Rodney Dangerfield.

I’ve known Mark and Bert for years and years and it was my pleasure to hook Mark up with Bert because I knew he did a superb Rodney impersonation. Bert picked Bryan and it was an excellent choice. Another kid on the rise is Jeff Hansen who was Mitch Hedberg.

It took a couple of hours to lay it down in the studio but it went very well and we all got to contribute. Bert has worked very hard on this project and he asked me nicely for a hand in getting it recorded so how could I say no? I did all I could to make sure he got it done.

It feels very good to be able to pay back someone who has been so good to me. One of a few things in this life that makes me happy is my chance to make others happy. That’s the best part of being a comedian. Hearing all those people laughing is what fuels life‘s fire.

I’ve always enjoyed making other people smile and I still do. I decided to give away the Rodney Dangerfield autographed tie I just won on Ebay recently to Mark Shilobrit since I know it’s his birthday next week. He had heard about it anyway because I stupidly leaked it out in this diary a while back but even still his eyes bugged out when he actually saw it.

I thought he was going to start crying and I could tell it was a huge hit. He’s got a house and will hang it on his wall and enjoy it more than I would so I let him have it. Bert had a smile on his face from the time he walked in the station until the time we left and I could tell he was pleased with how it went as were we all. I put some big smiles on faces today.

That’s what makes me feel alive and I’ve always wanted to make people feel good but I have failed miserably with some of the ones that were supposed to be closest to me. I’ve never been able to mesh with my family and that kind of stuff still bothers me even now.

My sister still won’t talk to me fifteen years after we had a falling out despite my efforts to patch things up several times. My brother stopped talking to me too a few years ago for reasons only he knows. We didn’t have a fight but he just stopped talking to me. The very worst is my half brother who stopped answering emails after we’d started to correspond.

That one still puzzles me. We started to really open up a solid line of communication on both ends and then it just stopped. He didn’t answer an email and then I sent another and I could tell after a while it wasn’t an accident. I don’t know what I did but we now have not corresponded in months and it looks like it’s over for whatever reason. It baffles me still.

Howie Mandel used to talk about how he could be in a room with 3000 people in it and if just one person in front wasn’t laughing that’s the one he’d focus on and it would really bother him. I don’t agree with Howie Mandel on too many things concerning comedy but that’s definitely one I do. I guess it’s the comic’s nature to see the one guy NOT laughing.

In my life I have probably made over a million people laugh at one time or another and I have had too many people to count come up to me after a show or on the street or out in a restaurant come up to me and say something like ‘YOU are SOOOOO funny.’ It’s great. I love hearing it and it never gets old but thinking of the few who think I‘m a jerk is a pain.

If someone thinks I’m not funny I can live with that. But when they think I’m an ass or a mean person makes me sad because that’s not at all what I want to be. Radio people are notorious for freezing me out and I can’t understand it. Bob and Tom in Indianapolis hate my guts still apparently and I still don’t think what I did was all that bad. But I’m banned.

Dave Luczak and Bob and Brian in Milwaukee are two morning shows that have chilled me big time for years. They will go out of their way to keep me off their show and not any of the three of them would spit on my teeth if my mouth was on fire. Again I’ve sincerely tried to end any hostilities with all of them and they wouldn’t even acknowledge me once.

It’s not easy to admit mistakes but I have made many and really don’t want to have heat with anyone but there is definitely a certain type of person that thinks I am the antichrist. I can’t change their minds no matter how hard I try and how many times I try so why worry about it? That’s the right answer but it’s not that easy. I sure wish I could end these feuds.

All I would want is for my sister or brothers or Bob and Tom or Bob and Brian or Dave Luczak to just send me an email or give me a call or something and say ‘Hey, you’re not my kind of person but at least you’ve made an honest attempt to apologize. I accept it.’

That would really make a huge difference in my warped world but I don‘t see it coming. I’ve tried and tried more than once with all of those people but they just blow me off and now it’s to the point where trying again would just be stupid. I’ve made an honest effort.

Nice guys might finish last but at least we finish with class and dignity. I will never get the approval of everyone but who does? Nobody. At least I have a large circle of friends I have taken a lifetime to collect that think I’m an ok guy. I sure hope they do anyway. I try.

Today I did more than try. I succeeded. This kind of a day makes memories that will get brought up years from now and I want to keep doing things like this with as many as I can for as long as I’m alive. The others who think I’m a weenie missed out on a loyal friend.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Price Isn't Right

Saturday May 24th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

No gig tonight and that makes me feel bad but not as bad as watching the news lately. It is now to the point where I don’t even want to hear it anymore. It totally depresses me and that’s the last road I need to go down. All the horror stories my grandparents predicted are starting to come true and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. This joke isn‘t funny.

What’s the REAL reason gas prices are climbing higher than Sir Edmund Hillary? Who really knows? I’m quite sure there are a guarded few that created this panic and they’re all thrilled to sit back and watch the rest of us scramble around like cockroaches when a light comes on. We can’t do anything about it but sit back and watch our great nation collapse.

Oil shortage my pasty white ass. There’s no oil shortage. There’s probably a glut but we are the ones getting played like a banjo. Every time I turn on the news I hear horrific tales of how this is only going to get worse and all it reminds me of is when I was a kid and the ‘oil shortage’ then was going to be the end of us. Today I see it all from a different angle.

Maybe I listen to Coast to Coast AM too much but I really am convinced this is all a big pile of donkey poo. Someone somewhere is running the world and our country and it isn’t anyone the public has heard of. I know I’m cynical but I really believe we’re being jobbed out like cattle and sold down the river for pet food and soup meat. Party time is now over.

My grandpa and I used to have conversations about this back in the ‘70s. He was totally convinced it was a scam back then and looking back on it he was correct. He was the one who taught me to never believe anything the government or the media says until I think it through myself first. He told me if I was smart I’d eventually be a cynic too and it’s true.

He told me the world was screwed before any of us got here and we just need to make a way the best we can. He never believed in God or religion at least when I knew him. He’d looked into it and thought it was all a big dead end and I’m thinking the same way myself.

I wish I didn’t think that but I do. Like those words of the song say - ‘Oh yeah, life goes on…long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.’ Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety but I don’t think this is going to turn around any time soon. We’re coming up on some rough times.

Will it be the infamous ‘end of the world?’ I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon - if ever. We as a human animal might be wiped from this planet like a dingle berry but the planet itself isn’t going anywhere. It’s been around for gazillions of years already and this scenario has probably come up many times before. It’s ALL been done before.

There are still wars and hatred and ugliness all over the place and it’s not getting better. The Jews and Arabs have been fighting since who knows when and that’s not even close to being settled. And all of it seems to be in the name of some kind of a ‘loving’ God too.

That’s still an issue with me. How can any kind of loving God make such a beautiful rock way out in space and fill it with so many complete idiots to run it? It doesn’t make sense.

To me this planet is like some remote location of a fast food franchise that the corporate office can’t find anyone qualified to manage and we’re running it into the ground as fast as we can without management to stop it from happening. That’s how it feels to me now.

There are a whole bunch of bigger and more important planets that are getting all of the attention because they’re bringing in the revenue but we’re out here in the sticks all alone with nobody to haul in the reigns. None of us speak the same language and it’s anarchy.

I don’t know why I got to thinking so deeply today but that’s where my head was. I had just about enough of the news broadcasts so I shut both the radio and TV off and intended to get some work done but my brain kept spinning about all this stuff. It’s very depressing and takes away a lot of the optimism I was starting to feel. Who wants to see life go sour?

News media lead me to start thinking of all this. It’s the exact same stuff that we talked about back when my grandpa was alive. Thirty years later it’s come full circle and even a little bit worse. Now it’s a globally unified mess and the problems seem to be way bigger than they were before if indeed there are any ‘problems’ at all. I still have serious doubts.

Why can’t there be enough food and water for everyone? Why can’t fuels be cheap and plentiful or technology be worked on that makes new forms of whatever we need that can be distributed to the people who need it and nobody has to go through life in such misery?

I guess I have a total disrespect for the human race in the big picture and that’s not what life should be about. What is the meaning of all this? Why are we here? Is it some kind of universe reform school where we’re sent to learn some lessons or is it all random chance?

And who has real answers? Gramps now knows if indeed there is a next world as does my old man. Neither one has come back to give me any kind of a hint as to if there’s any reason for all of this and I feel like I’m peeing into the dark and hoping to hear a splash.

I feel so alone and clueless. Where is God? Where is my guardian angel? If I have one I want to meet him someday so I can pull his wings out feather by feather and kick his robe hoping there’s a little pink angel butt inside of it somewhere. Why couldn’t he warn me?

What has made me come to this point of thought? My grandpa was there when I was an optimistic kid and it used to deeply trouble me to hear him express a lot of the very same feelings I just did but now all these years later I completely agree with him. Am I wrong?

I sure hope so. I want nothing more than for there to be a God of love that makes things right at some point and when it’s all over shows us why we were here and what it was all about and then shows us our place of eternal reward but at this point I think it’s all crap.

And I’m sick and tired of getting barraged by the religious zealots who tell me that I’m going to hell if I keep questioning God. Hey, I’m IN hell. We all are. What did we do to get sentenced to tour this cosmic carnival where nothing makes sense? The joke‘s on us.

Two Good People

Friday May 23rd, 2008 - Fond Du Lac, WI/Oak Lawn, IL

I was literally all over the place today but it was worth it. First I took my new old car up to my friend Jack Bennett’s car lot in Fond Du Lac, WI. Jack has always done me well on many levels and I wanted to pay him a visit mainly because I haven’t seen him in a while.

The other reason was that the exhaust pipe came disconnected when I hit a pot hole and it sounded like a Cessna crop duster. It was a little loud at the auction and I knew it but to have to replace it two days later was unexpected. It was also a surprise when the infamous ‘check engine’ light popped on during the trip north. I began to wonder if I’d been had.

Jack’s mechanic is a whiz kid and he replaced the main pipe in about ten minutes. Jack ordered the pipe at his discount and it was half off. It would have been $250 but he let me have it for $125 installed. Along with shutting the check engine light off and oil change it cost me $165. I gave him two $100 bills because the mechanic deserved the extra money.

Now that thing is purring like a kitty cat. What a sweet little cherry that thing is. I’ll use it as a spare car until I find someone who needs it. At these times with the gas panic I will not lose money with it. I was glad I bought it and even gladder after the work was done.

Jack has always taken care of me. He took my class way back when I started teaching in 1993 and I owe him a lot. He’s found work for me at events he’s been in charge of and he always made sure I was paid well and taken care of on every level. I still owe him a lot.

He’s a very talented actor and his work ethic makes me look like a lazy bum. He always has three projects going at any one time and is one of the most optimistic people I know. I would love him to be involved in the Uranus Factory Outlet commercials at some point.

We talked about it as we waited for my car to get finished and he had some solid ideas I hadn’t thought of. Jack has always been a helper and I’m glad we reconnected. I know it’s out of the way but even with gas at $4.12 a gallon it was worth the drive. I got my muffler fixed but also bounced around some quality ideas with someone who knows the business.

Tonight I went to Oak Lawn, IL to visit Bill Brady at his comedy club Barrel of Laughs. It was Bill’s birthday and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. He’s really a super person and it also was worth the gas to be there with a room full of comedians singing Happy Birthday. His family was there too and this was one of the few surprise parties that was a surprise.

We took pictures and hung out and he seemed genuinely touched. That’s what life is all about and I’d have hitch hiked down there if I couldn’t afford gas. Life is about taking the time to acknowledge special moments. If we don’t have those then I don’t want to live.

During the party there was a comic named Tommy Johnagin who made his debut on the David Letterman show. He opened for me a couple of years ago and we all stopped to see
his set in which he really delivered the goods. It was very impressive and he deserved it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Upper Crust Rust

Thursday May 22nd, 2008 - Vernon Hills, IL

I’ve only been off of my usual grind of doing a lot of shows for a couple of weeks but I already feel the rust starting to form. It doesn‘t take long. I worked a fundraiser tonight at Vernon Hills Zanies and I could feel it squeak the first couple of minutes. After that I was fine and actually had a strong show but I did notice a lack of touch in the very beginning.

Jimmy McHugh put the show together with his friend Rick Young who has a ton of big connections in the corporate world and is between jobs right now. He and Jimmy are on a good road trying to get corporate types to have fundraisers for various causes. It’s a smart idea to try to sell something to people with money to pay for it. This bunch was loaded.

We did the show with four of us instead of the usual three. Besides both Jimmy and me there was Mike Preston and Patti Vasquez which is a strong show. We each did twenty or so minutes and that’s like a night off. I went on last of the four and had to hit them hard.

Shows for benefits can be a little dead. Many of the people don’t really go to see shows much and are just here to help the cause. It took a while to get them in the groove but we did eventually and the show closed very strong. These shows are not for the squeamish. It can be very daunting to go up and try to jump start a cold rich indifferent charity crowd.

After the show there was a couple who came up and said how much they enjoyed all of us and the woman nonchalantly mentioned that her father invented Viagra. WHAT? That guy has to be carrying his wallet in a wheel barrow by now. I was very disappointed that she didn’t laugh at all when I said ‘I bet your mom was thrilled!’ I thought it was witty.

These people just don’t think that way. Why do they need comedy? They’ve got a lot of other things to think about…like where to spend her father’s millions. They were actually both very down to earth friendly people but the vibe in there tonight was one of money.

There was a mix of three different charities and there were a lot of doctors and lawyers in that mix. We stood around afterward and shook hands and took pictures and had a ton of flattering compliments from the audience. The show was definitely big a hit with them.

I really did learn something tonight though. People’s need for sharp, fresh and clever is a lot less than most comedians think. This is why Adam Sandler is a star. The majority of the audience tonight had never been to see live comedy before and didn’t behave at all as comedy regulars do. They had a lot fewer demands of us and I for one don’t like it at all.

I want a crowd who challenges me in a good way. They’ve seen a lot of comedy and are hungry to hear something they haven’t heard before. When they get it they laugh hard and it’s a total feeling of accomplishment when it happens. San Francisco crowds are like that as are New York City audiences. There’s an electricity as far as comedy goes and I love to work in places like that. Doing shows like tonight is not like that at all. Knowing where to separate the two takes years of experience. I learned well and was able to correctly read it.

There is a very subtle difference but it’s definitely there. Newbie crowds need to have a few minutes to adjust to what they’re experiencing. They need to be talked to and told the rules and brought along slowly. It’s like being with a child. The level of experiences they have is a lot less than an adult and they need to be treated differently. It’s a learned skill.

The child is a lot more tolerant and a lot less expectant than the adult. A kid can go nuts over something very simple like a bug or a shiny penny and it can keep the kid enthralled indefinitely whereas an adult needs mental meat to chew on. It’s completely different and to know when to give what to who takes a lot of time to learn. Tonight I read them well.

It was a great warm up for the week of shows at the downtown Zanies next month with Jerry’s Kidders. WLS is not known as a comedy station and most of those who will come out then will be like the people tonight. They will be curious and not really know what to expect and if we just welcome them and make them feel comfortable they will LOVE us.

We’ll shake hands and take pictures and sign autographs and everyone will leave happy. I may not be creatively satisfied but that’s not what that week is for. It’s to get ourselves a start doing live shows and let word start to get out. The audience needs to be trained as to what to expect and they will be. I’ve seen it happen time after time. THEN it will be fun.

It’s all building to something and I’m glad I experienced tonight. I never did like taking any time off from comedy and I still don’t but it’s good because it will keep me totally on my toes. I’ll have to focus and concentrate if I want to bring my ‘A’ game and I totally do.

I’m not worried about being ready in June because I’ve got some work lined up and will be back in more of a steady groove like I have been for my entire adult life. Taking two or more days off in a row is not what I want to do much less two or more weeks. I like work.

I got some nice work accomplished earlier today when I had lunch with my web person Shelley. She has been bummed out lately because she lost a good job she had working for Godiva Chocolates. The company sold out and they closed her store. Just like radio it was nothing she did but she lost her job anyway. She’s got a husband and a couple of kids too.

We haven’t been in contact lately because we’ve both been busy but I felt it was time to get rebooted and start working. I need to get my personal website and the Uranus site up ASAP and we set a goal of Friday the 13th of June. The main thing I want is to get Uranus going. I’ve come this far and to let it drift like this is unacceptable. I need to get it in gear.

I got up early and took my walk and thought of ideas. Then I sat down and drew up the list of bullet point goals as to what is needed for Uranus Factory Outlet, my personal site and comedy classes too. I’m getting inquiries to teach and I am not ignoring them at all.

I got up early and stayed up late and again put some good time in on several projects. It did feel good to get back on stage though. Of all the things I do that’s my very favorite. It never gets old and I never get sick of it. I’ve got my fix to last me through the weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Man Of Auction

Wednesday May 21st, 2008 - Waukegan, IL

The last thing I needed to do today was buy a car at the auction in Waukegan. So that’s exactly what I did. I read an article where small car prices are going nothing but up in the current gas gouge and I took a chance and bought a clean little honey bun I hope to resell.

I found a 1994 Toyota Tercel that was extra clean and had a one owner title. It’s a great little runner and I got it for a steal at $700. With auction fees and a title I’ll end up paying about $1000 for it but I didn’t think it was a bad gamble. I won’t be greedy and if I get an extra couple hundred bucks I’ll sell it. Someone will need a gas sipper and this will be it.

The feeling of finding a car to rescue off of the dung heap at the auction never gets old to me. I don’t know why I love it so much but I do. The only reason I even went at all was the weather was too nice to sit around the house. I wanted to get outside and get exercise.

I did get a brisk three mile walk in and broke a nice sweat. I’m starting to enjoy the time walking because my mind is producing all kinds of sharp ideas. It used to be my best spot for ideas was in the shower. That’s where I came up with the Uranus Factory Outlet idea.

Another time that’s always been productive is right after I wake up. Even if it’s only the shortest of naps I always have ideas flowing at that time. I’ve learned to write them down and now I’m going to start bringing a notepad and pen along when I walk. I’m feeling it.

It’s only been a week or so since I’ve consciously started to eat better and exercise more but I have noticed significant improvement in how I feel. I’m eating salads and fish and as hard as it is I’m avoiding Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper too. I haven‘t croaked yet.

I wasn’t even looking to buy a car today but when that little roller skate caught my eye I knew it was a good deal. I’ve bought so many cars at this auction I just know when it’s an excellent buy and this was it. Nobody else really wanted it and I felt it was a smart move.

It did use up my very last emergency money though and now I’m really walking on very thin financial ice. I’ve got my rent paid up until August 1st so that’s good but I don’t have any padding in case anything goes wrong. This was a gamble but I did it and now I’ll deal with it. It was a calculated risk and I’ve always read that those are what make up success.

I won’t starve to death even if it blows up tomorrow. Many others spend their money on a lot worse things than a cheap car auction. At least I have a chance to sell it again. I don’t think cocaine users get a chance to resell their stuff when they’re done with it. I’ll be fine.

If nothing else it was FUN. The feeling of winning the auction is fun and so was driving the car around the block to see if the engine would fall out. It didn’t. It ran great and it’s a five speed which is always fun to drive. This was a nice little deal and I’m happy with it. I also got some other stuff done today and all around it was well spent. If I can keep myself in this kind of vibe and stay out of the dark shadows I just might pull off my big dreams.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fire And Ice

Tuesday May 20th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I bet I’d have made a great mobster. I’m sure I’d be long dead by now but I would have totally fit the personality type. Part of me is a total teddy bear pushover but part of me has an icy cold streak. Most people have one or the other but only a small minority have both.

I’ve always been able to be at ease with the ‘gangster types’. My father rode with some of the nastiest bikers around and even as a kid I remember not being afraid of them. I had a rapport even then. I treated them the same as anybody - with human dignity and respect.

When I started in comedy I worked a club in downtown Detroit. There was a short black guy right in the front row sitting with two big black guys and some women. The little guy started talking to me and I got right in his face and the room went silent. Then he laughed and so did everyone else. I found out later he was one of the biggest coke dealers in town.

I didn’t know that but I wasn’t afraid of him. I spoke with him as a person and he totally got it. We talked after the show and he slipped me $200 and said ‘Pretty funny for a white boy.’ He left laughing but everyone else thought he was going to pull out a gun. Not me.

Another time in Cleveland a muscular ape in an expensive suit started getting on me for being from Milwaukee. I fired off a few insults about Cleveland and again everyone had a moment of silence waiting to witness my death. The guy stood and started to wind up like he was going to punch me but then laughed and gave me a big hug. Everyone else sighed.

For some reason I’ve just always been able to mix with those guys. One time I was at a club in Florida and a bunch of mobster types were at the bar after the show and the owner brought me over to tell them some street jokes. They were trying to stump each other and he knew I know a lot of old jokes so I spent about three hours firing jokes back and forth.

After they left the owner came over and told me one of them was going to prison and he wanted to have a funny going away party. The guy gave the owner $100 on the way out to give me (well that’s what I got) and said that I made his last night of freedom a great one.

I said how nice I thought all those guys were and the owner said ‘Yeah, they’re real nice now but say one wrong word and your head would be buried in a swamp in five minutes.’ Then he explained how most mobsters have that sweet side but a cold side right next to it.

We tried to figure out what it was and I really think it’s because they’ve suffered pain in childhood just like me. The average biker or mobster or coke dealer usually doesn’t come from a golden home life and I sure didn’t either. We can bond because it’s the synergy of where we came from. We want to be nice but can turn heartless if provoked. And quick.

I guess all humans can be that way but most never have to develop the hard side. I sure am not proud of mine but I know it’s there. I wouldn’t want to own a gun because I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t use it. The older I get the less I see my patience lasting with idiots.

I’m also finding myself fitting in with the mainstream even less. I didn’t fit in as a kid and I find myself drifting even farther away now. I couldn’t care less about who’s the new finalist on American Idol but millions of cattle graze in front of their TV to find out. It’s a total waste of time in my opinion but who’s right? Millions are glued to that tripe. Why?

Britney Spears? Why is she getting air time? Rap ‘artists’? I think they’re all talentless punks who couldn’t get a job mopping a floor if it weren’t for inbred white kids who keep buying the dung they crank out. NASCAR is even worse. I hope they all kiss the wall and their fat stupid toothless fan base too. But again, millions of Americans are hooked on it.

Am I officially a curmudgeon now? I guess I am. But I don’t really care. I’m probably at my very best level of being a comedian I’ve ever been and I am still struggling to pay bills and rent. I don’t see a lot of rappers doing that because there’s a demand for the ‘product’ that dwarfs mine. They’re the Walmart and I’m the corner store that has to struggle along.

I really felt something snap in me when I heard about that class in Ann Arbor taught by the goof I helped get started. That really rubbed me raw and I went to have lunch with my friend Marc Schultz to make a battle plan. Usually we have fun but today it was business.

Marc has been booking entertainment his whole life. His dad started the business and he kept it going. I asked Marc to make a plan so we can book the Jerry’s Kidder’s shows in a venue different from comedy clubs. Maybe it’s small theatres or golf outings or company holiday parties but whatever it is I know there are people who will appreciate what we do.

They don’t have to be mobsters or bikers or coke dealers and quite frankly I hope that it isn’t those types. I’ve found that the people who appreciate my comedy the most are those who are over 30 and have had some struggles in their lives. It’s not an ethnic thing either. I’ve done great with white and black and everything in between. SMART people like me.

Unfortunately that’s the true minority in this world. There are smart, sincere, easygoing, kindhearted, gentle, funny, giving people of all colors in all corners of the earth but aren’t talked about in the media because Jamie Lynn Spears’ out of wedlock waterhead is on the front pages of every newspaper in the world. All the good people have to be sick of it too.

I do get people coming up to me after shows that say ‘You are THE funniest comic I’ve ever seen in my life. Thanks for making me laugh harder than I have in years.’ I don’t get all the people saying it but I do get at least a few almost every time. That gives me hope.

All I want to do is entertain the ones who ‘get it‘. I don’t care what color they are or if I get a network sitcom doing it. In fact I’ll probably never get a sitcom but that’s absolutely fine with me at this point. I wouldn’t be happy having to dummy it all down for the herd.

Who wants to be a cold hearted bastard? Not me. I never did but I keep getting people poking me and I can’t help it. Poke the cutest puppy enough and he’ll snap at you too. It doesn’t need to be like that. I want to surround myself with people who have kind hearts.

Joy And Pain

Monday May 19th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

‘Joy and pain…like sunshine and rain.’ Those are lyrics from a song by Frankie Beverly and Maze that has always been one of my favorites. It talks about how life is made of ups and downs and really says it well. I got a heaping face full of both today and joy is better.

We had a very strong show today on WLS. The guys were all in sync and Jerry was too. We all contributed today. Maura Myles is Jerry’s news person and she’s very capable as a broadcaster but also can be funny too. All of us are starting to gel together and it’s a blast.

Half an hour on WLS every week is the equivalent to a TV spot. More people will hear us in our short time on the air than if we each headlined a club seven nights a week for an entire year. We’re getting more and more comfortable doing it and we can get better still.

That was the joy part. Nothing feels better than having something like this come from a single idea into a reality that is now ready to head to the next level. We’ve been on the air for six months and soon will do a live week at Zanies downtown in June. We’re excited.

Kipper McGee took us out to lunch today on the station’s dime so we could talk about a plan for the week at Zanies. We are going to do a press release and make it an event and it will be exactly what I’ve always wanted to happen. It’s only taken 20 years to make it so.

The pain part was getting home and seeing an email from a guy named Chili Challis. He used to write for Jay Leno and approached me several years ago about teaching him how I teach my comedy classes. He promised to get Jay Leno to endorse my book and tape set if I’d let him sit in with me and I did. It sounded like a great deal at the time so I said yes.

Boy did I make a gargantuan mistake. He came in with all the flashy L.A. talk and had a business card that said ‘Tonight Show Writer’ on it and he played the game great. He was never a strong comic but always tried to be everyone’s friend and sometimes that works.

We taught some classes and I ended up doing all the work but he watched how I did it. I tried to be generous and share my resources because I truly love to teach. It’s a matter of a chance to give something back but I’m learning for others it’s a gravy train to easy cash.

We did a class in Ann Arbor, MI which is one of my favorite clubs. The manager is laid back and easygoing and everyone likes him. He let us do what we wanted and it we had a nice turnout and the class was a success. Little did I know I was about to get hoodwinked.

Soon after Challis went behind my back and told the manager I ‘wasn’t interested’ and he slid right in and took the class over himself. No phone call. No ‘thanks for helping me get started.’ No nothing. It really stuck in my craw and I told him. He laughed it off and it really scorched my ‘nads and still does. Now he’s doing it again and I fired off an email I probably shouldn’t have but it infuriates me that a wank pole can get away with this and I can’t do a thing about it. I spent years perfecting my lessons and he coasted on my work.

When I used to promote pro wrestling shows I always noticed how the good guys inside the ring were the biggest ass bags outside of it. They would come across as such nice guys in public but behind the scenes they were the slithering snakes I had to keep both eyes on.

The bad guys in the ring were always the nicest outside of it. Those were the ones that I could call when my car broke down to come give me a jump start. It always amazed me to see how that mindset worked but it was definitely true. It’s also in other walks of life too.

Ministers come to mind. The ones that preach against things the most are the ones who seem to get caught with cocaine and underage sex partners of both genders or whatever is the vilest nastiest sin in the deepest pages of the scriptures. They’re the worst offenders.

There are a few comedians I can think of that come to mind too. I won’t name them but I can think of several I know who have been down this tired path. They play the clean and wholesome family man card on stage and then when the show’s over they’re the first ones out chasing skanky waitresses and snorting everything they can pound up their nose holes.

It’s not my job to tell anyone how to live and I’ve got enough problems of my own for a dozen country music records but what makes my colon wink is that these other guys try to hide it and pretend they’re good people. No they’re not. They’re greasy weasels from hell.

This is a real lump in my throat today. Some days it would just roll off my back but not today. I really helped Challis and thought his motives were good. Usually I can spot a bad egg a mile away but he even slid past my radar which is usually pretty accurate. I’m sorry he felt he had to go behind my back like a punk when all had had to do was just tell me.

That’s why I’m so upset with the other pencil neck poop shoot who boned me on out of the comedy class money. He and Challis were ‘friends’, much like Hitler and Mussolini. I must be putting out the wrong vibe if I keep attracting people into my life who are out for no good and I am going to do whatever I need to to stop it immediately. Enough already.

Will it kill me to have someone doing a comedy class in Ann Arbor, MI? No, it won’t. I don’t claim to be the only one who can teach a class but I do claim to put more into those classes than anyone I’ve met. I pour my heart and soul out for my students and try to give them all way more than they pay for. These other yahoos are out to skim a quick nickel.

It’s important to react in the right way to all this. I’m actually more hurt than angry that both the embezzler and Challis would be so cold as to stick it to me behind my back. That is not something I’d do and I admit that I don’t like it one bit. But I need to handle it right and not look like an ass which I can tend to do quite easily. This is a delicate situation.

The smart thing to do is keep focusing on the good things. The WLS show is sprouting. Uranus Factory Outlet is still a huge possibility. I am still able to teach comedy classes at Zanies who have been loyal to me and continue to let me have free reign to do whatever I want with their blessing. That’s what I focus on, not backstabbers I thought I could trust.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Time Warp Again

Sunday May 18th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI

Up to Milwaukee today for my monthly jaunt through the time warp that is the sports card show at Gonzaga Hall. Like the car auction in Waukegan it is it’s own world and I am included in the cast of characters. Both places are offbeat, oddball and I love them.

One of the reasons I am so fascinated by both of these places is that certain people are drawn to it just like I am. I only see them at the event and all we talk about is what is at that event whether it be cars or cards. Then we leave and reconvene at the next event.

Some people know my name and some don’t and vice versa. One guy I knew for years through the card shows was Bob Koehler. Bob had the same location at the card show for probably 25 years or more. I first started attending the shows at a different location when I was about 14 and he was around then too. I’d say he was ‘the’ card guy in Milwaukee.

If he wasn’t he was right up there. He allegedly had a ton of stuff hoarded at his house. I always heard he was a millionaire many times over but I never really talked to him about it. I would walk through the card show every month and nod hello and he’d nod back.

As I started to get some notoriety as a comedian and a radio personality in town he was a lot friendlier. He knew my name and I’d already known his because everyone talked of how Bob Koehler would never cut anyone a deal. He always charged top dollar. Always.

I’ve bought and sold and traded countless thousands of sports cards in my life because it is something I enjoy doing and I can’t ever remember ONCE doing any kind of deal with Bob Koehler. Not one. I’d say hello and chat with him but never struck up any business.

At the show today I learned Bob passed away recently. He’d had cancer for a while and I hadn’t seen him for months. They left his table open and had a tribute with photographs for everyone to look at. Then during the show they observed a moment of silence for him.

Then in a few seconds it was right back to wheeling and dealing and trading and all the stuff that’s been going on at these shows since the ‘70s when they started. It really got me thinking about what I want to be known for when my time is over. I want a different vibe.

I didn’t have anything personal against Bob Koehler. I liked him well enough and didn’t have any squabbles or bad blood with him, mainly because we didn’t have any interaction deeper than a hello and some small talk a few times a year. We were never close friends.

It didn’t seem like anyone was really sad that he was gone. They were quiet for the short time they needed to be and then it was right back to business as usual. I kept remembering how I’d always heard he was a millionaire but now it wouldn‘t help him anymore. It sure made me examine my own life all over again. Sure I’d love to be a millionaire too but not at the expense of kindness or passion or humor. I want people to think of me as somebody who was kind and gentle and funny and genuine. I’ve still got some work to do on that.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Boston Store Days

Saturday May 17th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

There are way too few days like today to stay inside so I got out and stayed out in it. It’s the time of year when there are no bugs and it’s not too humid so I want to enjoy every bit of it I can. And what better way to enjoy a Saturday morning than go to the car auction?

That’s my home away from home when I’m in town and I should probably just get a job there and get it over with. I don’t know why I like it so much but I do. I love to see which cars go for how much and if anyone gets a steal. It’s a total study in human interaction.

Part of the reason I went is because Drew Olson is looking for a car and hates the whole process of looking for one. I love it so I told him I’d see if anything came through. I saw a couple of possible deals but nothing fantastic so I said hello to the other regulars and left.

Today was a great day for outside exercise and I took advantage of it by going on a long walk yet again. My feet and legs were still throbbing from yesterday’s hike which was all the more reason to do it again today. I need to make exercise a habit and I’m starting to.

I started my diary almost 800 days ago now and I haven’t missed one yet so there might just be some hope that I can keep this up too. I already feel a lot better and I haven’t even gotten into a rhythm yet. If I do this right I’ll make exercise and health a way of life but it isn’t there yet. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing for a while and remove the dust.

One thing that’s really dusty is my dating situation. I have quite a few women I like and have been in contact with recently but none of them could go out tonight and I sat around with no gig and no date. Saturdays are for fun. It’s no fun to sit around with nothing to do.

I suppose I could have really pursued a gig or a date for tonight and would have rustled up something of dubious quality on either end but I just went with the flow and there isn’t anything flowing tonight. I usually work on a Saturday night so I’m not used to this at all.

I’ve spent my entire life working on Saturday nights and that’s probably why I’m single. I’m the one that entertains the dates when they come out so the guys can score with all the women that laughed at me to get them in the mood. Ouch. That’s not a pleasant thought.

Way back when I started I had a day job at the Boston Store in Milwaukee. That was the best time of my life and I didn’t realize it. That place was absolutely PACKED with sexy women who worked there and I knew them all. I worked as a ‘flyer’ so I went to all of the departments and filled in when there was a need. I got to know every chick in the joint.

Every lunch and break I had my pick of lovelies to choose from and I did. I was 22 and so were they and one was hotter than the next but I was too stupid to know what I had. To me comedy was more important and I was going to let nothing get in my way of doing it. Now all these years later I wish I was back at Boston Store with my pick of the hotties. It probably won’t ever be like that again and on a Saturday night alone that makes me sad.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Student Is Ready

Friday May 16th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Grunt. Sweat. Creak. Sweat. Groan. Sweat. That pretty well sums up the first hour of an action packed day today. I got up early and took an hour long walk on a sunny morning. It got me in a groove and broke a full sweat but I loved it. I’m starting to get hooked on this.

After a shower that felt even better I drove up to Milwaukee to be on the ‘D List’ radio show on ESPN Radio 540. I love hanging out on the air. I can usually crack off a couple of one liners that make the guys laugh so I’ve done my job. Then I have lunch with Drew Olson who I’ve known for years. He’s a very positive guy and makes it worth the drive.

We had lunch at a place called ‘Cheesy Grill’ near Miller Park. It’s a joint that sells the best grilled cheese sandwiches around and Drew and I both had one with Sloppy Joe meat added to it which was quite scrumptious. I didn’t have a Pepsi but I sure wanted one. We both did have a cup of tomato soup that complemented the sandwich perfectly. Good eats.

The real reason I went to Milwaukee today was to follow up with my friend Todd’s guy who has the t-shirt business. I called him yesterday to set up an appointment and we had a meeting after the radio show and lunch. He was very gracious and showed me all around.

He’s been in business since 1956 and got started working for his dad at age 12. He sure did know the silk screening business and he gave me the nickel tour of how it all works. It was nice of him to do that and in a short time I learned that I have been very lucky to have chosen comedy as my life’s work. There may have been troubles but at least I enjoyed it.

There didn’t look to be too many things that were enjoyable about screening t-shirts. He said he’s not rich but he’s not broke and it’s made him a living his whole life. He has a lot of accounts with little league baseball in several suburbs and some other big accounts that he’s gotten through the years. He said whoever bought the business would get all of them.

That’s not guaranteed though. HE is the guy who forged all the relationships with those clients. I or anyone else would come in and they could bolt tomorrow. He’s got his way of doing things and anyone else coming in would have a whole new way of doing it and that happens with any change of hands of a business. He spent his life to perfect what he does.

It was very interesting to see how the business works. He showed me the machines that make the silk screen and then he sends it through a conveyor which bakes it on the shirts. I watched the process for a few minutes and it was about 173 degrees in there. That place belches heat and I’m sure summers are no picnic in that joint. I was sweating a lot today.

He also took me in the basement and showed me all his operation down there. He’s got thousands of his silk screens all in order and he’s cataloged them all on 3x5 cards with an appropriate number. He’s taken 40 years to accumulate that system and it works for him. I wouldn’t have any idea how to figure it out and it would be months or even years before I could get my own system going and get the place humming. This is not an easy operation.

But at least I learned something and made the effort to follow up and call him. I thanked him for his time and gave him my business card and a CD and he was very impressed that I had one. He asked why I would want to get into the silk screen business and I explained the Uranus Factory Outlet idea and it cracked both him and his assistant up. They got it.

That made me feel great. I know there’s something with this idea but now I need to find out exactly what it is. I don’t think it’s spending my days in a sweat shop cranking out my own shirts but if that’s what it takes to get started I’d be willing to do it for a little while.

I had to pay dues as a comedian and I’m willing to pay some with my new venture but it boils down to a matter of time. This guy started when he was 12 in 1956. I’m not 12 and I don’t have that kind of time. I need to find someone to hire to make these shirts - not me. I don’t think it would hurt to know how though and I told him I wanted to stay in touch.

I don’t remember exactly where but I know I heard this: ‘When the student is ready the teacher will appear.’ I’m the student. I’m ready. I was a student of comedy for years and I learned it well. I still study it but at least I have the proficiency to make a living doing it.

All the other stuff is totally new to me. I have NO idea how to make any of this come to be but I am doing it anyway. It’s like taking a trip to California. There are many ways that can be accomplished and if I knock on enough doors and ask enough people someone will be able to help me get there. I might have to take a plane, train, bus or car. Or hitch hike.

I may have to use all of those methods but if I really wanted to get to California and had all my focus on getting there eventually I know I would. The same holds true here. I’ll get my website up and then I’ll find a way to get products to sell and then I’ll sell them and if I don’t I’ll get other ones and then I’ll keep doing that until I find ones that people want.

That’s oversimplifying it but not really. I didn’t have desire one to make a t-shirt until a short time ago and then I talked to my friend Todd and he mentioned the guy’s name that I met today. I looked around and learned about his business and maybe I’ll use him to get my first few orders done. If he doesn’t work out I’ll go find someone else. It’s no secret.

I need to do the same thing with bumper stickers and greeting cards and whatever else I can come up with to sell on the site. Then I have to promote the site and get publicity but that’s where I will shine. I know how to talk on the radio and that will put me over. I will be able to knock that out with no problem but making the shirts myself isn’t my dream.

This was still a very productive day though. I listened to my E. Joseph Cossman course the whole way up and back and that guy was really a winner. I wish I’d have met him but he died several years ago. The one thing I’m learning from him though is basic marketing.

It doesn’t matter what products I choose to sell it matters how I market them. I do have a bit of a flair for showmanship and that will put me over the top. Listening to these tapes really has my brain bathed in this project and I’m glad I took time to meet the t-shirt guy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Half A Victory

Thursday May 15th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I’m trying to keep all my plates spinning. So far, so good. I’ve got a lot of things going on and when I work on one or two of them some of the others get neglected. Then I go do some of those things and the first things start to rot. The adage is true - ‘Use it or lose it.’

Personally I want to use it. I want to use it ALL. Whatever I’ve got rolling around inside of me I want to get it out and involved in something good. Or fun. Or profitable. Or all of those things. I have a burning desire to not be a lazy bum who dies with unfulfilled hopes.

There were a few more steps in the right direction today to hopefully make that happen. For the third day in a row I consciously paid attention to my health. I ate a big salad and it didn’t even disgust me. I drank a lot of water and I didn’t even miss Pepsi. Well, a little.

Still, for me this is all good. I didn’t have any fast food or even any unhealthy slow food so that’s a huge plus. I’m sure my lower colon has enough stored down there to open up a location of whatever chain I want so I’m not out of the water yet. This will be a long haul.

It’s only three days and I’ve been here before. The key is just not going nuts and getting in a habit of making smart decisions. It’s not easy for anyone and I will struggle with it as long as I’m alive but if I keep making good decisions like I have I’ll be alive a lot longer.

One good decision I apparently made was to write the letter to the owner of the club out in Topeka. I received an email from the booker today telling me to expect a check for half of the amount of what I was to be paid for the weekend. He was confirming my address.

I must say I was a little surprised that it was handled this quickly and without incident. I wrote it off in my mind and didn’t want to deal with it anymore but I was pleased with the letters I wrote both to the booker and the club owner. I stated my case with facts and did it without getting personal or nasty or angry. There have been too many times when I didn’t.

This whole situation rots but if I get half my pay at least it’s an effort to settle this thing. I probably won’t be back to Topeka at least not at that place and it’s questionable as to if I will get booked by the booker again so at least this is a way to walk away on good terms.

Now the politics starts round two. IF I get the check I will only be paid half of what was agreed to. The booker gets his commission out of that money and I probably won’t be one of his go to guys in the near future. What do I do? Do I pay him anything? Do I pay half?

I am going to pay him his full commission. That’s the classy thing to do. Whether or not we ever work together again is not the issue. Most comics would keep the money or try to get away with half but this has been so ugly and a hassle that I want to let the wound heal.

I always try to live by the Golden Rule and if I was the booker I’d want to get paid so that is what I will choose to do - but only if and when the check comes. I would send it now if I had proof of that but I don’t. I’ll wait and see. But at least it’s a partial victory. Half.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun Inc.

Wednesday May 14th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

It’s not what you know it’s who you know. Right? That’s what I’ve always heard. It’s a fact that knowing the right people in the right situation can really grease the wheel and for once I knew someone that helped me. That doesn’t happen often so I don‘t take it lightly.

Chuck Field is a ventriloquist who took my comedy class many years ago. He’s a solid person and always tries to hook people up who can help each other. He’s the one to thank for introducing me to Marc Schultz who’s not only a booker of corporate stuff but is now one of my favorite people. He’s a friend. Chuck hooked us up years ago and I’m grateful.

Besides doing ventriloquism shows Chuck and his brother have a box business that they inherited from their father. He knows all kinds of people from all walks of life and he said whenever I was ready that he’d introduce me to a guy who owns the company ‘Fun Inc.’

The name alone perked up my interest and it turns out he manufactures and distributes a line of gag items like fake vomit and whoopee cushions and magic tricks and all different kinds of stuff that I could maybe sell on the Uranus site. He’s located in Chicago and is a world wide wholesaler of stuff like that to magic shops and wherever else may sell vomit.

I hadn’t seen Chuck in a while and he’d been telling me about this guy for a while but it just didn’t seem like the right time yet. I didn’t want to waste a favor so I put it off until it seemed like the right time. That time was today and I met Graham Putnam live in person.

For a guy who sells rubber poop and itching powder he was pretty straightforward and a wee bit serious. He was very informative though and I learned a lot. I explained what I am looking to accomplish and he listened and then gave me a brief education on his business.

Just like almost every other business the gag business is changing too. There are certain things that are perpetual sellers and those are like hit records apparently. There aren’t that many but the ones that are bring in tons of cash. That’s what everyone is looking to score.

We spent about a half hour in his office and I was very respectful of his time. I was also grateful to Chuck for introducing me and he was right there the whole time too. Could the meeting have happened without Chuck? Maybe, but it’s always better to be introduced by someone who knows the person and this couldn’t have worked out better. We hit it off.

Graham gave me a catalog of a company out east who sells stuff and explained how that in the last 20 years or so the gag business has become an import business. All of it is now made overseas and shipped over here so getting a special manufactured product here isn’t going to be easy. Most of the places here buy their stuff from the same sources over there.

Taking a half hour to meet with me was very nice of Graham and I will buy from him if at all possible when I get my site up. Whoopee cushions will definitely be a constant part of the Uranus gag and I want to either sell them or use them as a giveaway with sales.

This was a very productive meeting and I’m glad I waited until now to do it. Chuck is a connection I made years ago that paid off today. He’s totally willing to help and I try to be that way too. It felt like the karma train made a stop at my station today and I needed it.

When I got home I checked my email and found a response from Jerry Agar’s friend up in Canada who is the master entrepreneur. He told me to type out my questions for him to look at and he’d get back to me. He didn’t quote me a price but I’m sure there’s a reason.

Many times people come to me for advice on starting out in comedy. I always sincerely try to help but over the years I’ve found that some people are just time wasters and I can’t afford to give of my time like that. That’s when I started charging people to weed out the kook bags. If someone is sincerely interested and I see a spark I am very lenient on price.

I have a feeling that’s how I will be treated here too. If I blow him off or ask all kinds of rambling stupid questions I’m sure he’ll charge me through the nose. If I take time to give it some thought and ask well thought out questions I bet he’ll take time and answer them.

That’s something I have to take care of in the next day or so to keep this momentum up. I’m doing things I need to do to get started and that’s what I set out to do. I also got a call from my friend Todd Kasulke up in Milwaukee saying he has a guy who wants to sell his t-shirt silk screening business he’s had for 40 years. He’s looking to retire and move on.

I may or may not want to buy the business but if I could learn how to work it I’d surely take some time off the road and do that. He apparently does little league uniforms and all kinds of stuff like that and learning that business would be a skill I can use for Uranus.

I’m planning this as my retirement income and I am really jazzed about all these things coming together at once. Just like when I had a deadline for my CD project I can feel this all starting to move forward and I can picture in my mind a successful website that has all kinds of products on it and people will love to browse to see ‘What’s new from Uranus.’

I will call the guy in Milwaukee tomorrow and try to set up a tour of the place. I need to also call my friend Shelley and get her and me on the same page with the both my website and the Uranus Factory Outlet one too. I haven’t talked to her in a while but now it’s time to reconnect and restart the fire. Getting this going could be the biggest thing I ever did.

What also felt good was that I again took a nice long walk today and exercised. I totally need to make a habit of it every day and even though it’s only two days it’s two days in a row and I need to make it three. I drank some water too so little by little I’m improving.

I also listened to a Tony Robbins tape series I bought recently. I like listening to all the positive people I can and I enjoy Tony Robbins. It’s a rhythm of speech that’s listenable and a person either has it or they don’t. I also love Wayne Dyer and Brian Tracy and Les Brown and Earl Nightingale too. I’m just going to keep packing my coconut with as much quality input as I can and I have to believe it will take root and produce quality results.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

30 Days Away

Tuesday May 13th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Another spectacular sunny day. Something about sunshine really puts me in a groove of life that makes me feel good. Maybe I should move somewhere else where it’s sunnier for a longer period of time. I really did love living in L.A. when I did but I ran out of money.

If I can make enough money to live wherever I want I will seriously consider moving to someplace warm again in a hurry. For now it doesn’t really matter though. I’m happy with living around Chicago. I love it here and it’s comfortable. Winters aren‘t a deal breaker.

I had a major mental enema today and I needed it. The weather was great so I took a big pile of laundry over to the Laundromat near my bank. I got to flirt with the bank manager who is really sharp and funny and then I went right next door and climbed Mt. Laundrus.

Doing laundry isn’t my favorite task but I don’t hate it. It’s very cathartic and gives me a feeling of accomplishment which is always positive. Getting my clothes clean put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Today is the 13th and I’ve adopted that as ‘my’ day as Mr. Lucky. I’m not superstitious at all and I don’t mind being associated with the number.

I used to send my monthly newsletters out on the 13th and I need to get that going again. I was going to do it last month but I got behind and then fell into the doldrums after all of my trouble in Topeka. I’ve been blowing it off and I need to stop blowing and start doing.

Next month’s 13th is a Friday and I always want to make those an event if I can. The last time I did that I got kicked off the Bob and Tom show but at least I tried to get the biggest bang for my buck. That situation is still a sore spot and I am dumbfounded as to how they all got so angry over such a non event. Was it because it was Friday the 13th? I doubt it.

That’s in the past and I won’t be able to change it anytime soon. I’m on WLS which is a much bigger station than any of the ones they’re on so I guess I rebounded quite nicely. In the big scheme of things none of this means anything anyway but it feels good to be on in Chicago. There are enough people here to make me a nice living and that‘s all I‘m after.

I really have to get my Uranus Factory Outlet business up and running. I have no excuse as to why it’s not up yet and I’m disappointed with myself for not doing it. I’ve been in an all over the place mode for a few months and it’s not acceptable to me at all. I don’t like it and I won’t tolerate it. I’m going to force myself to get the project up by Friday June 13th.

When I was doing my comedy CD back in 2003 I was farting around exactly like this. I knew I needed one but would make stupid excuses as to why it wasn’t out. Bert Haas said he would cancel my bookings at Zanies if I didn’t have it finished in 30 days and I did it.

As soon as I had a deadline I cranked it right out and it turned out very well. I’ve sold a lot of them and have received a lot of nice compliments and gotten work from it too. This is a very similar situation. I’ve got my deadline so now I need to breathe life into Uranus.

Bucks Stop Here

Monday May 12th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

There was a tiny blurb in the Chicago Sun-Times this morning that brought back a giant memory. On this date in 1974 the Boston Celtics defeated my beloved Milwaukee Bucks in the seventh game of the NBA finals to win the championship. I had forgotten the exact date but that horrific memory still haunts me all these years later. It left a scar on my soul.

Sports has always been a passion with me and as a kid I was the only one in my family other than my grandfather who liked it even the least bit. My father used to ridicule me in his inimitable caustic snide way about how I was wasting my time and money watching a bunch of…well I can’t really repeat what he said but it wasn’t very uplifting. He hated it.

My grandmother hated it too. She would stop her whole world to watch Lawrence Welk or Hee Haw but if I wanted to watch a ball game she’d make sure I couldn’t enjoy even a bit of it. She thought it was funny to cheer against any team I was for and that was brutal.

Game 6 of that championship series in ‘74 is still one of the best basketball games I’ve ever seen. Kareem Abdul Jabbar hit one of his patented sky hook shots from way deep in the corner that now would have been a three point shot. It won the game for the Bucks on the road and sent the series back to a game seven in Milwaukee. They HAD to win it all.

I remember yelling and jumping all over the place when he hit that shot and getting my ear chewed off by my grandma telling me to be quiet and go to bed. I was 11 and it was a school night but all I cared about was watching that game. The Bucks were down but not out and when they won it in the end it gave me hope that there was a just God after all.

Then came the big game seven. I was sure they were going to win it all but those nasty Beantowners blew the Bucks out of their own arena and won it 102-87. John Havlicek is the devil and if I ever see him even if he’s old and sickly I’ll kick him in his shins. Hard. He is the one who killed the Bucks and took away my youthful hope and made me bitter.

My grandmother was right there in my face laughing and I had to restrain from hauling off and cold cocking her right there. She didn’t get how emotional sports can get and if I could have beaten Lawrence Welk to death with a clarinet that night I surely would have.

Once in a while I’ll see ‘highlights’ from that series on TV and it makes me cringe. I’m sure it’s like Dallas Cowboys fans feel every time they see video of the Ice Bowl in 1967. I don’t feel sorry for the Cowboys fans, I’m just saying I bet the feeling is the exact same.

Other than that little unpleasant relapse into the past I had a great day today. The shows at both WLS and Zanies were both really strong. It’s fun to be a part of a good show and I was part of two today. Jerry’s Kidders is starting to take shape and that feels really good.

We’ve got a live show coming up at Zanies in June. That combines the best of both my worlds and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sure it will be a lot better than Topeka.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

As The Apple Turns

Sunday May 11th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Another Mother’s Day. I’m sick of writing about how miserable these kinds of holidays can be but today I don’t have to. I’m not miserable at all. I’m not thrilled about it but I’m definitely not miserable. If I was in the mood I was in last week after all that ugly mess in Topeka this could have been what launched me on my six state killing spree but it’s not.

I’m still trying to figure out how my whacked out brain works. It feels like my life is an apple with a worm in it that constantly revolves. When the good side is showing there is a feeling of being bulletproof but when the worm side shows I go into my hellish darkness.

The worm side has been showing up less and less but it’s still there and whenever it’s in view the world is a horrible place. When it’s not I can tolerate just about anything and it’s a total feeling of invincibility. Today the worm was nowhere to be found and I’m thrilled.

We had a strong radio show in Kenosha today and our guest was really good. She talked about ghost hunting and what ghosts are and we could have fun with her because she was smart and could laugh at herself. She is an only child and we talked about how her mother let her off for a couple of hours to do our radio show. The whole thing worked perfectly.

On the way home I thought about my mother a little. I truly have no idea if she’s living or dead and sadly I really don’t care. Like with my father the damage is done and nothing she could say or do would make up for it now. At least when the old man died I was able to put some kind of bow on it and wash my hands of it. With my mother it’s all mystery.

I’ve only seen her a few times in my life, the last one when I was about 18. Then there’s the story of when I was 30 and in intensive care after my car accident and she tried calling me in the hospital. I hung up on her a few times but she kept calling back and saying that she wanted to see me. Then we made an appointment to do that but she never showed up.

That’s been 15 years now and it still hurts so badly I can’t put it into words. But I didn’t feel that pain today any more than any other day. I thought about it a little but it didn’t put that nasty sting in my being like some things do. I guess it’s just the luck of what day it is.

If the wormy side of my apple was out today I might be ready to suck that gun barrel but I am actually in pretty good spirits. Having a good radio show and seeing that project start to take shape is very encouraging. That was my main focus for today and not my mother.

What a waste this has all been. Why did she just abandon all of us and then not make it up to us ever? She’s had many years but hasn’t done it and if she is dead I’m sure she has a few things to answer for right along with my father. They sure didn’t give us kids any.

Wherever she is is going to be a mystery for a while. I don’t even know her last name at this time because I think she’s been remarried a couple of times. I can’t see myself paying anyone else to look for her because if I found her there’d be very few good things to say.

Money Matters

Saturday May 10th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Lucky for me I have cheap tastes because I’m broke. I haven’t been this low on cash in a long time and I’m starting to sweat it a little. No, more than a little. A lot of things have gone down in the past year or so and the result is I am running my financial tank on ‘E’.

Some of it was my fault but not all. I spent a nice wad on sports cards just because I like them and thought I could afford to take that risk. I can resell them at some point but not at once like I bought them. I bought them in large lots and hope to resell them gradually at a profit. I didn’t buy them to turn a quick buck and looking back on it I wish I hadn‘t now.

I had no idea I was going to get cleaned out by my business partner. That was a shocker and it took out my entire emergency fund. I never planned on touching a dime of it unless I was in dire straits but that didn’t look like it would happen at all. Now I’m not so sure.

I also was good to a few people and sold them cars on credit and haven’t been paid back and that’s hurting too. Paul Kelly has been a total ass about it and I have lost total respect for him. It’s my own fault for doing it but he came to me and said he needed a car so I did what I thought was a favor but in return he totally took advantage of my generous nature.

It also caused me to drop out of Chicago Style Standups. I know that saying ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’ and it’s a lot truer than I imagined. I made a mistake and now I deeply regret it. Coupled with all the other stuff I find myself backed into a corner and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. But it did and now I have to shovel my way out.

I know I’m not the only one having money squeezing woes right now. A ton of people are in huge debt and have a huge monthly nut but I purposely try to live cheap so I don‘t have that constant pressure. I‘m starting to feel a little and I need to recushion myself.

I’m going to choose to look at this as a positive and deal with it without letting it get me down. I got myself into this pickle and I will get myself out. Money is like the tide and for now the tide is out. It will again come in and when it does I need to handle it a lot better.

It’s getting so tight I even thought about trying for another radio gig. The thought didn’t last very long but I did think about it. It sure would bail me out of this. I would try to bank as much cash as I could each week and continue living like a bed bug. I can do that well.

If I suck it up and watch my pennies I’ll be ok. I hope. Without my normal backup those squeaks in my car sound louder and those aches and pains in my body are achier. And gas prices aren’t doing anyone any good right now. All the black clouds are lining up at once.

But that’s how it is. Work has dried up at the moment and money is tight but I think it’s a cycle and I will treat it as such. It all decided to sneak up at me at once and I’m going to have to make a conscious plan to change it back to where I was before. I’m one bad break away from total disaster and with my track record of luck that might not be that far away.

Despite all that I still had a very fun day. I hadn’t been to the car auction in a while and I heard the rusty tin calling my name. I love the whole experience of hunting for cars so I headed over and took a lap. I felt right at home as I got my bidder’s card and settled in for the action. I wasn’t going to buy anything today but that didn’t mean I didn’t still enjoy it.

One of the guys who works there is a regular listener to WLS and heard Jerry and I talk about where I get my cars and now I’m a huge celebrity to the auction staff. He called the owner when we were talking about it and when I walked in his face lit up and he pointed me out to the rest of the staff. ‘THAT’S the guy. That’s him right there. He’s FAMOUS!’

I smiled and turned around to see if anyone really famous was behind me but it was me they were gawking at so I waved and shook some hands and then customers turned heads too. I felt good in a way and like a total ass in another. I was not looking to be on stage.

Before the auction I stopped at the Red School House restaurant for breakfast because I wanted to see if that waitress I like was working. She was but yet again I didn’t get sat in her section so I had my breakfast and left. It’s a small place but always busy so I guess I have to keep trying. I will though because I want to at least get my chance to ask her out.

After coming home from the auction I spent some time reading about mail order before spending some more time working on my act. I have a lot of material I’m trying to polish and I really enjoy losing myself in the process of doing that. It’s very productive and fun.

I needed to be at Jerry Agar’s house by 5:30 to ride over and see two of his three kids in a production of ‘Jungle Book’. I really love watching his kids grow up and do all of these fun things I never got a chance to do. All three of the kids are talented and I love them all.

His daughter Kaelin turned 9 and had a birthday party so there was a house full of little girls after the show. We had pizza and punch and birthday cake and I was able to make all the kids laugh which is always the best. One of them leaned over to Kaelin and whispered ‘Who IS this guy? He’s FUNNY!’ Those kinds of moments can’t be bought for any price.

Neither can hanging out with his sons Tanner and Cooper. The four of us just hung out and talked about guy stuff for a while and that was fun too. Tanner is 15 and Cooper is 12 and I can make them laugh too. I was both those ages and I can put myself in their shoes.

At the end of the day none of this cost me anything other than showing up but I sure had a lot of fun. I didn’t need to pay any cover charges or taxes or tips and that’s ok with me. I have never had extravagant tastes and even if I do hit my jackpot someday I’ll still enjoy a car auction or a rummage sale or a flea market just because they’re fun. I like the process.

Making money is a process too though and there’s nothing wrong with learning how the process works. I’m starting pretty late in life but I need to change my whole view of how I handle my finances so I can never be in this position again. Even though I had a fun day it doesn’t change the fact that I am still running very lean and could use some backup cash.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Yay Ebay!

Friday May 9th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I love Ebay. What a great idea that was. A world wide rummage sale that gets people to bid against each other on a third party of people’s junk. Brilliant! I wish I’d thought of it. I’ve yet to learn how to sell anything but I sure have mastered the buying part. I’m hooked for life. I enjoy it even if it’s just browsing to see what other people are trying to unload.

There are baubles and trinkets and outright garbage and that occasional treasure that has kept me coming back. I’ve fished a lot of cool things off the cyber dung heap including an entire collection of Mad magazines and several out of print comedy albums I have looked for for years. Today my latest treasure arrived in the mail and it juiced me up once again.

I won a framed autographed red necktie of my comedy hero Rodney Dangerfield. A few years ago I was hosting a charity show and saw one at their silent auction. That one went for $275. This one cost me $50 with shipping. It also came with an unused ticket from his show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and a certificate of authenticity. I totally love it.

Maybe I’ll keep it and maybe I’ll give it to my friend Mark Shilobrit who’s having a big birthday this year. I’ve known Mark for 25 years and he was in the group of comedians in Milwaukee that started just before I did. He’d been doing it a few years when I started but we worked together hundreds of times over the years. He loves Rodney as much as I do.

Mark and his wife Tracy just built a beautiful house out in Waukesha, WI and it would look great on one of his walls. I move around like a gypsy and never know where I might hole up in any given year so the logical choice would be to let Mark have it and enjoy it.

I really do enjoy giving more than receiving. I loved the feeling of winning the auction for what I thought was a great price but the real joy would be to see Mark’s look when he opens it. That’s what I love more. If it were up to me I’d give presents away every day.

I try to do that when I can as much as I can. It doesn’t have to be a big money gift, only a gift from the heart that means something to that specific person. I always pack boxes of sports cards for my friends who have kids who would enjoy them. They aren’t worth any money but when the kids open them and see that huge box of cards they always light up.

Recently I found a huge box of toy cars I’d been saving for whatever reason and I gave them to a woman I know who has a five year old boy. She’s a single mom and can’t really afford a lot of extras right now and that box put the kid on cloud 999. She said he loved it so much she thought she might have to change his underwear. That’s what I love to hear!

I have far too many faults as a human to list and I am trying very diligently to live a life of honor and peace. I fail way too often and am far from where I want to be or thought I’d be but the spirit of giving is one thing I learned to love early. That’s one of the reasons for me being a comedian. When I can light up a room full of strangers and let them forget the troubles of their day it makes me feel like I do have an actual reason for living after all.