Monday, June 30, 2008

A Year Half Over

Monday June 30th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Happy half year. Where did the time go? The older I get the faster it moves. I have been trying to make the best use of my time but I still feel like I’ve fallen way short. Today was a great way to put a bow on this last six months and now I can move on to other projects.

Normally I take the train into Chicago on Mondays to be on WLS with Jerry’s Kidders. Today I drove in because Kipper McGee said he was taking us out for lunch as a ‘victory lap’ at Harry Caray’s restaurant to celebrate our week at Zanies. I wouldn’t miss that for a train ride and I didn’t want to have to keep looking at my watch and not enjoy the meal.

It was more than just a meal though. Yes the food was fantastic but more important than that was the symbolic meeting with some long time friends who I truly admire and respect so we could appreciate the fact that we’ve created a real product out of just a fuzzy idea.

Doing the Kidders bit every week with the guys is really fun. Kipper is totally behind us and in radio that just hasn’t happened for me before. We’ve been on over six months now and listeners are actually sending fan mail instead of those ‘You guys ALL suck’ bombs.

We all talked about how special this thing really is. It’s a rare situation in radio when all parties are on the same page and I truly think this is one of those times. Kipper is brilliant in his radio programming skills and truly has a big picture vision. Jerry is in stride and his show sounds great in my opinion. Even if we weren’t on it I’d still want him to succeed.

This was a milestone day and we all savored every bit of it. We still have building to do and we know it but making it this far was and is pretty satisfying. Today we focused on as many positive things as we could. It’s good to do that a lot more than I do and this was it.

I also met with Bill Gorgo about cranking the classes back up. Bill has been teaching at a high school level for years and is extremely good at it. He loves and knows comedy also so he is the logical choice to team up with on this. The vibe seems right so I’m doing it.

Tonight I was back at Zanies downtown hosting the show for John Fox. I’ve always had nothing but respect and admiration for John’s talent and he’s a true legend in the comedy business. He can work an audience like few others I’ve ever seen and tonight he was hot.

Nobody can get more laughs per minute in a club situation than John Fox. He’s had his battles with his demons like we all do and his are totally different from mine but we have always been friends and he was one of my very first influences. He helped show me how to get laughs and cripple an audience. When he’s on there is nobody better. NOBODY.

Tonight’s crowd was large and ready to laugh and I started the show strong and took it up from there. I gave all the comics a huge introduction and after the show John came to me and said ‘YOU are the absolute best host of a show I’ve ever seen and always were.’ Hearing that from a true pro like John Fox put the perfect cherry on a day of reflection.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Driving

Sunday June 29th, 2008 - Duluth, MN/Lake Villa, IL

477 more miles trapped in a Toyota Tercel today and every one of those miles reminded me it really is time to quit the road life, at least for a while. The stretch between Superior, WI and Eau Claire is long and boring and the one from Eau Claire to Madison isn’t a very thrilling jaunt either. Sure there are some trees and greenery but I can get that near home.

I really am surprised I’ve gotten my fill of this lifestyle all at once after having spent my entire adult life embracing it. I used to love to be out and about and seeing new places and meeting new people but that thrill has left me for some reason. I just woke up one day and didn’t want to do it anymore and I am feeling that stronger and stronger. I‘ve had enough.

That still doesn’t mean I’m not glad I did it. I sure sacrificed a lot and if I had pursued a family like I have always wanted I bet I’d be sick of that now and want to be out on a tour of all the places I’ve been going to all these years. Human nature always wants what’s out of reach and then when we get it it’s no big deal anymore. I am not regretting my travels.

I have some fantastic memories of touring the country and they’ll be with me the rest of my life. Seeing Mount Rushmore and Washington DC and Cooperstown, NY and also the Field of Dreams in Iowa are all things I think every American should do. I am thrilled that I got to see all those places and about a thousand more. I’ve satisfied all my wanderlust.

But even the best buffet meal has a point of being enough. No matter how good the filet mignon is when you’re full you’re full. I’m full of the grind of being on the road. It’s very draining even though it might not seem that way. There’s always something going on that needs immediate attention and the constant pressure of having to be somewhere gets old.

I heard Eric Clapton said recently how much he hates the road even though he’s a super successful act. He still loves the shows but everything around it is too much to handle and I can sure relate to his feelings. He’s making millions and I’m slugging it out for a couple hundred bucks and a hotel room. I still love the shows too but getting to them is a bitch.

I thought about all this as I drove in to Kenosha to do the Mothership Connection in our new time slot from 8-10pm. This is a MUCH better fit for us and we had a solid show for our maiden voyage. Scott Markus is a good fit as one co-host and now we will work on as many regular features as we can with other people we like working with. We can do this.

Gary Pansch is a good fit but he works Sunday nights. He’ll stop in and contribute once in a while when he can and that’s fine. A woman on the show would be nice and that may or may not happen but I was very encouraged tonight by the progress we’ve made already and I know we’ll keep growing and make this at least an enjoyable project for the hosts.

Putting time into this show or Jerry’s Kidders on WLS is much more the direction I feel fits me better right now. I still have to pay bills and eat so I’ll have to find an income soon to keep me off the road as much as possible. I can get rejected a lot closer to where I live.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Not Much Longer

Saturday June 28, 2008 – Duluth, MN

Another 243 mile drive I wasn’t thrilled about making. The weather made it a challenge because there were some bad storms but then it would be sunny ten minutes later. It was a constant back and forth struggle the whole way and when it stormed it was extra nasty.

My little roller skate Tercel was blowing all over the road so a few times I just pulled it over until the monsoon stopped and then started driving again. This one only came with a single windshield wiper but at least it’s on the driver’s side. I never know what surprises I will get from the auction until I’m out on the road somewhere. It keeps me on my toes.

This drive was like my life in a nutshell. The sunny parts were very enjoyable but when the stormy parts came I questioned my very existence. There was a very stark contrast of ups and downs today and it made me even more assured my decision to switch directions to something else is the right one. I’m not excited about doing road gigs like I used to be.

Duluth is a nice town and I’ve always enjoyed playing here. It’s surprisingly pretty here with hills and trees and water scenery on Lake Superior. I haven’t been here without a lot of snow on the ground and it was even nicer with the weather like it was. The storms had all passed by the time I pulled into town and found the Holiday Inn where I’d be staying.

The show tonight was in an old Irish Pub right downtown that had a spare room that has a lot of charm and character in it. Unfortunately tonight it didn’t have a lot of people in it to enjoy it all. They’ve been doing comedy about a year and apparently have done ok but of course the summer time is death in the north because nobody wants to be inside at all.

I can’t say I blame them. I don’t want to be inside either. We had a long ugly winter for the first time in several years and I can totally relate to people wanting to fish or swim or barbecue or camp or whatever else there is to do that’s not sitting down watching a show.

There were 35 people who did show up and they were pretty tight assed if you ask me. I wanted to really give them a good show since I already had to make the drive and had my nap and was well rested but they just sat and stared at all of us. I felt like I wasted my trip but I still hung in there and did my time and even threw in some new bits I was polishing.

The economics of this run is not in my favor at all. Between gas and food and wear and tear on my car and even more so my soul I lost out this weekend. I am grateful for the gig in the summer when work is scarce but I know in my heart this is not my future anymore.

One thing I did do is use the time in the car as a mobile office. I planned out my classes for the next year and came up with 24 articles I need to write for a newsletter and also did some work on Uranus by planning out what products I think will be the best to sell first.

I could have done that at home without having to fight storms and 35 Minnesotans who didn’t feel like laughing or buying anything after the show. I’m getting the message very clearly and I’m not fighting it. My life as I know it is about to evolve in a new direction.

Catch 22

Friday June 27th, 2008 - Wausau, WI

The thrill is gone. I never thought I’d say this but the thrill of hitting the road has finally been beaten out of me. It took a lifetime to do it but it’s finally dead. I’m glad I followed my wanderlust all these years but now traveling is just a chore. I found out for sure today.

I’ve been keeping it closer to home lately for many reasons, gas prices probably the big one. It’s getting harder and harder to turn a buck lately and I’ve been most everywhere so the ‘first time factor’ isn’t there either. Many times I’d take a gig in a place I’d never been to just so I could explore some new territory. There aren’t many of those places left now.

Today I drove 267 miles to Wausau, WI. There’s a gig in the Midway Motor Lodge and it’s been here for years. I’ve done it several times and every time I’m here there’s a totally new bar manager and host and the show can go either way. I’ve had some hot shows here and some hellish ones too. This isn’t a career maker but it does pay a bill when I need to.

We had about 22 people tonight even though the hotel was packed. There is a nice pool and it was packed with kids and families having some big reunion type party. They didn’t come to the show though and it was mighty quiet in the lounge. That takes the fun away.

To make it worse we’re right in between Minneapolis and Milwaukee and the Brewers were playing the Twins so that took people away from the show as well. It’s uncanny how I can manage to be in a place when a huge sporting event is also in town. Not that that’s a huge one but it doesn’t happen often and there was a lot of interest from the people here.

The other comics were good guys but a little on the green and naïve side. They both had visions of grandeur and were talking about how they were going to be purists and I had to laugh because I was the same way until enough shows like this in lounges with 22 people in the summer slowly squeezed it out of me. Now I realize I’m just here for the paycheck.

I still love performing and always will. I gave the 22 people their money’s worth but the process of being in the position to do it is getting to be way old. Spending the day in a car that may or may not make it and paying over $4 a gallon for gas doesn’t make it worth it.

I got my check after the show and thanked the staff who won’t be here if and when I am ever back here again. I went back to my room and did a crossword puzzle and I just knew this part of my life is rapidly coming to a close. I can feel a need to move on to a new life.

I guess athletes feel like this when it’s time to quit. They say they just know it and that’s what I’m feeling now. I had a great run as a road dog and experienced more in those years than most regular people would get to do in ten lifetimes but now I want to be regular too.

I love living in the Chicago area and wouldn’t mind just settling there. I could still do as much comedy as is in the area and maybe even here again too but the thought of doing the road full time and playing in lounges in front of 22 people is getting older just like I am.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Major Rage In My Cage

Wednesday June 25th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Half Christmas. Six months from now the weather will be nasty and there will be a completely different vibe than there is today. I need to remember how quickly things are prone to change because right now I’m ready to go on a thirteen state ass kicking spree.

Mike Preston called me this morning and told me my embezzling thief of an ex-partner has decided he wants to rub salt in the wounds by starting up a website and attempting the formidable task of starting more classes. I was pretty surprised to hear it at first but then it made sense when I found out his new partner in crime is in on it too. They’re both slime.

I’ve had that idea for years and he was supposed to be the one to help me execute it as it was his job to be the marketer and organizer. It never came to be and now he’s apparently trying to resurrect that idea now. The domain name he’s using was my idea and he had no right to do that in my opinion but he was the one who registered the name so I’m S.O.L.

This just infuriates me. Why don’t these grease balls move on to another con? They are only in it for the money and before he met me Mr. Thief never even set an oily foot of his in a comedy club. I was the one who trained him and showed him the ropes of how to do everything and now he sticks it in my poop shoot knowing full well it will grind on me.

Well it does. Big time. I totally see why people in Kentucky or anywhere else walk into a workplace with a gun and clean house. I’m not going to do that but it’s a good thing that he isn’t in my sight right now or I can’t promise I wouldn’t take an ax handle and pound a funky tune on his bongo drum head. He’s just doing this because he knows it gets to me.

How come I’m the bad guy in all this? HE’S the one who stole several thousand dollars of what was supposed to be OUR money for the business and spent it on himself because he’s a lazy rich kid who never had to work for a living. Now he’s continuing the tradition by stealing my idea and teaming up with the other oozing pustule of filth to scam people.

I know this is America and if I had a gas station that was doing well there are no laws that another guy couldn’t put another one right across the street. It doesn’t matter if it kills off both businesses either. Freedom is precious but there are some things about it that rot ass.

This is one of them. Can I stop these two jabronies from doing whatever they want? In a word - no. What can I do? Can I prove it in court that he stole my money? No I can’t. Can I legally do anything to throw a monkey wrench into their path? Well, yes. I have a person from the IRS I got to know back when I had to testify in the infamous bank robbery trial.

I still have that contact and could easily make one phone call and tell the IRS that he did not file his tax returns for almost 20 years. He lived part time in Australia and ‘worked’ at his father’s medical clinic but never did pay a nickel in taxes either here or over there. I’m usually not a vengeful person but this just picks my scab to the core. I trusted that bastard and he totally abused it and stuck it in my bum once and now he’s trying to do it all again.

What is the correct answer here? I agonized over it all day. My first reaction was to get in my car and go over to wherever he was and sodomize him with a plunger. The rubbery end. Then I thought it might be more fun to take a boomerang and make him swallow it.

Violence is not the answer. It sounds good in theory but so does attending the ballet. It’s not what I imagined and halfway through I’m sure I’d regret it. This is a very delicate one to ponder and I put as much brain power as I could muster into finding the right solution.

The truth is I really do love to teach comedy. I love comedy period. I love watching and performing and discussing and teaching. I love studying it and I have 15 years in teaching it successfully. I’ve got over 1000 graduates from my classes and most of them loved it.

Are there some who didn’t? Sure. Any good instructor will have that. I don’t pussyfoot around. I tell the students how it is in no uncertain terms but I also go out of my way to be extra encouraging and let them grow. When it goes well it’s a wonderful feeling of giving and I really am a giver. Money for it is nice but my true passion is teaching just to teach.

That’s why this angers me so. When I was in Milwaukee the co-’teacher’ I had was not a comedian at all and it irked me that she continued to ‘teach’ when I moved on. She tried it a few times and then it fizzled out. Many others have tried it too but it’s HARD WORK to teach a comedy class or any other class too. The best teachers pour it from their souls.

I know I do. I can feel it when I connect with a class and I have done it countless times. I have also missed on a few students but quite frankly they were idiots and weren’t going to go anywhere anyway. 90% of my problems came from 10% of my students and those I pawned off on the guy who is going to be the new partner of the embezzling Australian.

That sounds like the title of a movie: ‘Coming this summer to a theatre near you! If you thought Crocodile Dundee was funny - you’ve GOT to see The Embezzling Australian.’ I don’t find the humor in it personally right now but I have to attempt it so I don’t club him like a platypus. I really didn’t expect this to go any further and Mike’s call surprised me.

Mike told me he wanted to call me out of respect and I appreciate that a lot. He needs to pay bills and he said he doesn’t expect this site to go anywhere but as long as they are in a mode to pay a cameraman it might as well be him. I don’t blame him and hope he gets his money. I don’t think I’ll ever get all of mine so I might as well hope SOMEONE gets it.

It probably won’t go anywhere in all honesty because they don’t have any inner passion to draw upon when things get tough. I love comedy and want to be around it any way that I can. I thought long and hard today and decided the best thing to do is use this as a strong motivator to make me get my own class back running and take it to a much higher level.

I can see myself teaching corporate and sales people the principles of comedy and also a comedy writing class to aspiring writers of all kinds. That horse’s wanker stole my list of former students, my website name and my money but he can NOT steal my inner passion.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Have Phone, Will Babble

Tuesday June 24th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I needed to get a new phone today because Jerry Agar spilled his Coke all over my other one in the car last week on the way to Zanies and shorted out all the circuits. He felt badly about it but it‘s not that big of a deal. I know he didn’t do it on purpose and actually I was probably about due for a new one anyway. It took some running around but it’s all fixed.

It’s always funny to see the look on the kid’s face when I buy a new phone or computer. It’s only been a couple of years at the most but they look at the old one like it’s a Model T or some ancient artifact from the original King Tut expedition. The workers all gather for a gawk, point and fondle session like a group of monkeys with a shiny object at the zoo.

The kid today scrunched up his face and said ‘We sure don’t make THOSE anymore.’ It started the chain reaction and everyone else had to come look at it too and then at me like I was trying to pawn off an old candlestick phone like Andy Griffith used in Mayberry.

I realized I wasn’t going to get what I wanted which is just a plain old regular telephone so I looked around at the options. Wow. I felt like Fred Flintstone looking at cars that had real brakes and knew my feet wouldn’t have to put up with all the wear and tear anymore.

There really have been a lot of improvements since last time I bought a phone. I am still not ready for a blackberry or a boysenberry or a dingleberry quite yet but I did make a big upswing from the plain old phone I did have. This one has a few of the bells and whistles.

It’s got a camera which I’ve never had before and said I never wanted but as long as it’s there I might as well learn how to use it. Maybe I can take a picture of every crowd I work and have them give me the finger or something. Maybe they can just sit there and I would start uploading them on my website so people can see what it’s like from my viewpoint.

The whole technology train is not going to stop any time soon and it would behoove an old dog like me to hop on and hobo my way down the road a little. I’m too far behind and if I stay where I am I’ll be out of the game altogether. I need to learn more about all of the things that are growing so I can at least have a shot at hitting a trend that’s on the way up.

I’ve got such a long way to go and so many things I want to do and it feels like I’m in as slow a motion as I can be without standing still. Last week at Zanies with Jerry’s Kidders was a priority and I’m glad we did it but that also let the Uranus project totally sit and rot.

Time gets away but it gets away from everyone. I wonder if George Carlin did all of the things he really wanted to do? He was very prolific and considered a stunning success by a vast majority of the public but only he can answer if he was happy with his life’s effort.

I for one am not happy with mine at the moment. I’ve farted around with a lot of project ideas for years and none of them are really anything that’s worth mentioning. They’re not setting the world on fire or Uranus either. Time to restart myself. Have phone will babble.

George Carlin

Monday June 23rd, 2008 - Chicago, IL

A lot of people are talking about the death of George Carlin today and I’m one of them. It was the first thing I heard when I got up to go to WLS to be on the Jerry Agar show. He is about as big a name in standup comedy as there ever was and I’ve always admired him.

One of the few pleasant memories I have of interaction with my siblings as a child was us listening to his ‘Class Clown’ album at Christmas time one year. My brother Larry got it as a gift and we all listened to it and laughed incessantly. He was one thing we all could agree on liking and there sure weren‘t very many of those. It’s still a very vivid memory.

I was of course sad to hear of his passing but not all that surprised. He was 71 and had a history of heart problems so I guess it was just his time. He was born the same year as my father and I thought about how differently they lived their lives and will be remembered.

George was a major influence to a countless number of other comedians and they freely admit it just as he freely admits he was inspired by Lenny Bruce. Many of my friends like Jimmy McHugh and Vince Maranto and Bill Gorgo and so many others list Carlin as who had the most influence on them. He’s the reason a great many comedians got on a stage.

Rodney Dangerfield was probably my greatest influence but I was still a big fan of how Carlin did it and became an even bigger fan after I started doing comedy myself and saw how the game worked. He changed his style quite a few times and had a work ethic like is rarely seen in any artist. He cranked out more material than just about anyone else ever.

The amazing thing about it was it wasn’t just average material - he wrote CLASSICS in his day. He’s probably most famous for his ‘The seven words you can’t say on television’ bit but he had SO many more. Football vs. baseball was one of my personal favorites and the list is endless. He totally explored several sides of his creativity and lived a full life.

I did get to meet George in person just a few years ago at Zanies in Vernon Hills. It was a highlight of my life and career and he could not have been more easygoing, friendly or a genuinely nice person. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was blown away with the way he handled himself with everyone that night. I’ll always remember how nice he was.

He was in town for whatever reason and was visiting all the comedy clubs and helping a woman named Sally Wade become a comic. I think they were married eventually but they were just dating at the time and he was totally supportive of her as she started as a comic.

It was around this time of year and the club was empty on a weeknight. I wasn’t thrilled about performing for 20 people in a 350 seat room and when I got there Liz the manager didn’t sound the least bit excited when she told me George Carlin would be coming to the show. I like Liz but she is not the biggest of comedy fans and didn’t think this was a big deal at all. To her it was just another comic trying to hustle some stage time at her club. I just about jumped through the ceiling when I heard her say it. ‘WHO is coming?’ I asked.

‘George Carlin,’ she repeated. ‘They called from downtown and asked if we were doing a show. He asked if it would be ok if his girlfriend did a guest set so I told him to ask you when he got here.’ I couldn’t believe it. She told George Carlin to ask ME for a guest set?

I am friends with everyone at the Vernon Hills club because I’ve worked there so much. I was goofing around with the staff and didn’t see anyone walk in when I turned around to find myself right in front of the man himself. He smiled and said ‘Hi, are you Dobie? I’m George.’ How surreal that was. ‘I know who you are,’ I said. ‘It’s a thrill to meet you.’

He looked almost embarrassed. ‘Hey, my girlfriend Sally is just starting out as a comic. I was hoping that you wouldn’t mind if she went up in front of you for a few minutes.’ To have George Carlin ask ME if someone could go up for a five minute guest set was about as unexpected an event as I could imagine ever happening to me but it got even stranger.

George asked ‘I heard you teach comedy classes. Zanies speaks very highly of you and I thought maybe Sally could take one of your classes sometime.’ I just about soiled myself. I said ‘How about if YOU start a class and let ME take it?’ He laughed and said ‘That’s a very nice thing to say.’ Then we talked about comedy for a while and he was just the best.

Sally did her set but it was in front of a small crowd and she was just starting and it was a difficult position for anyone to be in. Nobody else except me knew when I went on that George Carlin was in the back watching and it was more than intimidating. I was a wreck.

I gave it all I had and actually got some nice laughs. Then I got off stage I went into the back and there was no Carlin. I felt crushed and thought I must have not been able to hold his attention but I heard from Liz that Sally and George got into an argument after her set.

George didn’t want to cause a scene so he decided to leave but Liz said he made a point to walk all the way back in and tell her ‘Make sure you tell Dobie I thought he was really funny. He made me laugh out loud. Sorry I can’t stay but please tell him that for me.’

I guess you’d have to know Liz but she just doesn’t lie about stuff like that. She said he was very genuine and she saw him laughing when I was on before they had their spat. He was the ultimate gentleman and reeked of class and I remembered that fantastic memory all over again all day as I heard of his passing. He really impressed me by his kindness.

I’ve heard many stories from many people what a class guy he was. Larry King was on CNN with a tribute show tonight and there were more stories of George’s classiness from other comics and his family too. His brother said he was great and most importantly to me his daughter said how great of a father he was to her. That sealed the deal forever for me.

My old man was born in the same year and was a total loser. George Carlin was one of the most successful comedians of all time and hearing he was a great father and brother is even more of a reason to pay tribute and respect his marvelous achievements. He had the career and life most people dream of and I’m thrilled I got the chance to cross his path.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Drugstore Bob

Sunday June 22nd, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Way back when I first started doing open mike comedy it was a place called Sardino’s on Farwell in Milwaukee. It was a music club and the place Al Jarreau started his singing career before me. They had a Monday night comedy showcase and that’s where I cut my teeth and started to learn my craft. It was a real education and tonight I earned my degree.

My mentor C. Cardell Willis used to host those Monday nights at Sardino’s much like I now host the Zanies showcases on Mondays in Chicago. We would go up and try to make whatever tiny gathering of people that showed up laugh and it was a part of paying dues.

There was a pharmacist who was a regular customer at the bar and everyone called him ‘Drugstore Bob’. Drugstore Bob had a nose redder than Rudolph’s and would get a snoot full and start heckling the comics. Sometimes it was sooner and sometimes later but there wasn’t a week that went by where that cranky old boozed up bastard wouldn’t pipe up.

He was very sharp and cutting and just plain mean when he wanted to be. Sometimes he was funny but most often he was right. He would critique the individual comedian and his or her jokes and many times he was dead on correct. He’d make fun of their clothes or the content of their act and more than several times he’d make an act leave the stage in tears.

My old man was a bully and I never put up with that kind of stuff throughout my life. It is probably my biggest pet peeve and I’ve gotten beaten up for it but I never back down to a bully. Most of them are useless and when confronted they back right down and shrivel.

Bob had stamina, I’ll give him that. He would show up late some nights and we thought we were off the hook but sure enough he’d start flinging insults toward the stage and then it was game on. He was pretty nasty when he wanted to be and I had no tolerance for that.

I can’t remember exactly when it was but one night I was doing pretty well and Bob had to get in on it. I was ready for him and laid him out with a few good lines and he held up a white handkerchief and surrendered. I didn’t let that happen and kept on giving him a face full to pay him back for all those other comedians he brutalized and the place went nuts.

After I was done Cardell came back up on stage with a look on his face like his son hit a grand slam to win the 7th game of the World Series. ‘Take THAT Drugstore Bob! I’ve got a PROTÉGÉ now!’ I thought Cardell was going to give me a hug right there. He loved it.

That was 25 years ago now and I’m sure Drugstore Bob is dead. He was old and boozed up back then but maybe it pickled his liver and he’s still around. But I doubt it. He liked a cocktail and judging from the crimson honker he called his nose it didn’t like him back.

As I came up the ladder at Sardino’s Bob would talk to me and told me he respected my determination and said he knew of all the rookie acts that I would be the one to finally get him to shut up. As goofy as it sounds I wish I had a picture of him and I from back then.

Nobody realized it at the time but Bob was a one man comedy training academy. He did his best to shoot down young up and coming comedians just to see we were made of. The brutality of it was not for the emotionally squeamish but to me it was ninja training class.

When I knew I could shut Drugstore Bob up it gave me my first pebble of confidence. It let me know that I may have at least a little aptitude for this after all. I still was far off as a writer of material but my heckling handling skills were very sharp from a very young age.

Over the years I’ve had to deal with more than my share of hecklers, drunks, idiots, bad seeds, losers, imbeciles, whiners, freeloaders, peanut heads, wankers and all the variations of those groups. I have gotten in trouble a few times - well more than a few times - but all these years later it takes a whole lot to rattle me up there. I’ve been through it all before.

Tonight was the last show for Jerry’s Kidders at Zanies. This has been a long week and I am not sad to see it come to an end. We did accomplish a few positives but I am still not thrilled with the numbers we did. I know it’s summer, blah blah blah, but I want to work.

Well, I guess I need to rephrase that because I did nothing but work tonight. I had to get 33 people from all over the country who felt like talking out loud to be on the same page. A big group of them were from Cleveland and they would NOT let me do my show at all.

I had to nail them with line after line and they laughed hard but it took every little bit of experience I learned from Drugstore Bob and every other dough head who thought they’d ‘help’ my show over the years. This was not a fun show and I had to keep my anger quiet.

I don’t know if it was so much anger as frustration. No, maybe it was exasperation. This week was humiliating enough without ending it on a sour note but that’s what happened. I am just not up for doing battle with a bunch of mouthy out of towners who won’t shut up. I guess I’m ‘good’ at it but what is good? I thought I had a pretty good act to give them.

For whatever reason my needs are not being met here. I used to love going head to head in verbal sparring matches but now I can’t stand it. I just want to do my show for a crowd like the second show Saturday who loved it and NOT like tonight or Thursday’s mud pit.

We didn’t make our goal this week but it still wasn’t a total loss I guess. We impressed a few people from the station and those who did come to see us loved the shows but I am having a difficult time focusing on that because of the frustration of tonight’s situation.

Tony Talley and Ken Rosenbaum came out to support us and that was great. Tony is an example of why I keep teaching classes. He loves to perform and has made an effort to be the best comedian he can be and that’s very satisfying for me to see happen all this time.

Ken is a great guy too but he did it for a while and now he’s just a friend. Tony is a peer because he‘s still out there performing. I respect that. I know he learned by watching what went down tonight and I hope it helps him. Drugstore Bob helped me get through tonight.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Class Action In A Suit

Saturday June 21st, 2008 - Chicago, IL

This is the longest day of the year. After today it’s all down hill. Sunlight decreases by a few seconds each day and before long it’s the dead of winter again. Today is as good as it gets and everything is operating at it’s top peak from the weather to our week at Zanies.

Tonight we had three shows which is never easy especially this time of year. Comedy is difficult enough without having to deal with the sun still being out. There’s something not right about that and the first show at 7:00 puts us right in the trick bag. It’s a tough sell.

Most three show nights are similar. The early show is tight because they haven’t eaten a meal yet and it’s the beginning of their evening. The middle show at 9:00 is usually really hot and by far the best of the week and then the late one at 11:15 is the drunken debacle.

That’s not 100% guaranteed but more often than not it’s pretty accurate. By that last one most comedians aren’t exactly sure what material they’ve already done and it can get very confusing. I like to switch it up more than the average comic so I have to really stay alert.

To make it even tougher we recorded the early show tonight. The radio station wants to have clips to put on their website and Marc Schultz wants us to make a DVD so he can go out and try to sell us for corporate work. The only show we were able to record was 7:00.

There weren’t many people there but enough to record. Marc wanted us all in suits but I don’t feel comfortable in a suit on stage anymore. I used to go with that look and had a lot of suits but I’ve evolved and now it doesn’t fit what I’m doing anymore. I just don’t like a suit on stage because I feel claustrophobic. I like to be free to punctuate with physicality.

Marc knows what he’s talking about though and I didn’t argue with him. If I had a name recognition factor I could wear a diaper and mukluks on stage if I wanted. To get the gigs now I have to play their game and that involves dressing how they expect me to. I get it.

But I still wanted to put my own flavor in it so I wore my tuxedo instead. Who argues a tuxedo? It’s different and hopefully will stand out a little. I made some jokes about being a theatre manager and I kept my whole act squeaky clean for the DVD. It worked nicely.

The station will be able to take clips for the website and Marc will have plenty to work with for a corporate demo so I made the best of an opportunity. Maybe I’ll have to wear a tux for corporate gigs but I don’t care. If they’re paying me I’ll wear whatever they want.

The point is that I now have a new video. I put some different material on it than my old one and left out what I thought could be controversial in any way. My big closing bit for a club about stupid people not breeding gets huge laughs but it scares off potential work too so I left it off. I know it works and I’ve polished it to a point that when I need to use it it’s right there and ready to go. Marc has told me people love it but are afraid to book me as it may offend somebody. That’s how that crowd thinks so I won’t argue and do it their way.

The 9:00 show is the big tester. That is usually the best show of the week at Zanies and all clubs that do three shows on a Saturday. As a rule there are NO comp tickets this show and everybody pays. It’s the money show and it’s assumed this will be a prime audience.

All those assumptions came true tonight. The show was jam packed and when Jerry hit the stage it hit me just how cool it is to be working the downtown Zanies in Chicago even if we didn’t sell out every show this week. This is a major deal and it’s finally sinking in.

The audience for the money show was spectacular. They got every little nuance and it’s a thrill when that happens because laughs are contagious and it’s easy to get on a big roll. They loved Ken Sevara’s Harry Caray impression and Tim Slagle was on fire. His stuff is very subtle and smart and not all crowds get how bright he is but these people got all of it.

When I got on I took no prisoners and launched right into my greatest hits. This wasn’t the show to experiment because they all paid full price and I wouldn’t cheat them. I went right to what I know works and work it did. I had to stand there and let them finish their waves of laughter so I could move on to the next bit. This is as good as it gets in comedy.

Standing on stage at Zanies in Chicago on a Saturday night wearing a tuxedo waiting as people finished laughing was a moment I wish I had a picture of to show my grandfather. I hope he saw that because he would have been pretty proud. I worked very hard to get all of that to come together and I thought of it as I stood there watching the crowd go nuts.

In all honesty I don’t really care if we come back as a group to the downtown club but it never gets old to me as a single performer. Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld and a whole lot of other big time comedians have worked Zanies and every time I’m on that stage it’s cool.

The Jerry’s Kidders concept really isn’t shooting for clubs and the ones we should focus on are in the suburbs where the WLS listeners are. Pheasant Run would be a much better choice for us and we will probably do it at some point but for now we got our ball rolling.

The late show wasn’t horrible at all but it wasn’t very crowded. I changed out of the tux and came back to Earth. I know how to entertain a smaller audience and this was one that wasn’t very drunk at all so at least I had a chance. Actually I liked them and we had a fun time together. I was still high from that middle show but that’s ok. It ended the night well.

This was a long week and it’s not over yet. There is a Sunday show and that’s usually a let down after a big three show Saturday but not always. Sometimes those shows can be a pleasant surprise. No matter what happens this week put a lot of good things in motion on a lot of levels. The station is happy with us and the perception is we’re a successful entity.

We are a successful entity. This is a very strong show and it’s being tailored to work for a WLS crowd who listens and reads the paper and doesn’t behave like drunken frat boys. I for one love the thought of working in theatres to people who aren’t drinking $1 beers in plastic cups by the dozen. The longest day of the year was the peak of a lot of work so far.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No Complaint Dept.

Friday June 20th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Here’s a switch - NO complaints from me today. I know I’ve been yammering on with a laundry list of what’s wrong with my life and career lately but today I won’t ramble down that path because it’s been stomped on enough. Today I was able to just enjoy life a little.

Whatever grandiose hopes I may have of fame and fortune and panties flying toward the stage may or may not ever come true but tonight I was totally satisfied with how it went at Zanies. We had two shows and both of them were off the hook. I was in a major groove.

The early show wasn’t completely sold out but it was pretty close. They were by far the best crowd of the week and I loved every second of it. They were quiet and smart and had come to be entertained. There was even the unheard of well behaved bachelorette party.

I started strong and got stronger because I knew they could handle my energy on stage. I love to hit it hard and pummel an audience and these people could handle it. They loved it actually and those are the audiences I crave. If every night and every show was like this it would be as close to heaven on Earth as I could come. This was the kind of vibe I live for.

There was a plan in place before I went up because I could see they were hot. I didn’t do my typical opener about being from Wisconsin because I know that works. I just went off about how I am Mr. Lucky and why and went right into my Greyhound bus bit which I’ve been doing a lot less lately for whatever reason. Like a musician it’s good to stay in tune.

I also didn’t do my big closer which I also know works very well. I wanted to substitute an alternate closer in case for whatever reason I am not able to do my regular one. I felt as comfortable with the one I chose as the regular one I normally use. They were right there.

Late show Friday can be a nightmare more often than not but not tonight. They were not loud or chatty or drunk and they listened through the entire show. Like the first show I did not do my big closer because I didn’t have to. I had them from the get go and didn’t let up until my time as up and they hung in there the whole time. This was a very strong night.

The amount of actual WLS listeners for both shows was probably pretty low. The city is not a huge listener base and we knew that going in. If and when we get to do some shows out in the suburbs our chances of drawing more will be a lot better. Even still I loved both of these crowds tonight no matter where they came from. These were my people tonight.

If I can get my 100,000 ‘people’ like this like Lenny Bruce talked about I’ll make a nice living and super serve those customers. If they buy a CD or a book or whatever I put out it will be a win/win for everyone. I may have a ways to go but I found a good start tonight.

Of everything I’ve ever experienced in my life being on stage in front of good audiences is what I enjoy the absolute most. Tonight was a whole evening of that and it recharges all of the energy that was drained out earlier in the week. This is exactly what we all needed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Got My Wish

Thursday June 19th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

There’s an old joke about a guy with a shriveled up chicken wing arm going up to Jesus and begging ‘Lord, please make my arm like the other one.’ Then the good one shrivels. I remember hearing that when I was a kid and feeling guilty for laughing so hard at it but it was way funny to me then. Tonight it came slinking back to haunt me all these years later.

All this week I’ve been bellyaching and sniveling about how the club wasn’t full for our Jerry’s Kidders shows at Zanies in Chicago. I wanted it nuts to butts jam packed tight as a crab’s fanny not one seat to be had anywhere full. Surprise, surprise - I got what I wanted.

Technically I did get what I wanted - a full house. There was truly not one empty seat in the whole place anywhere and I had to slink into the sound booth to watch the show. I had my elusive sellout after two previous nights of decent but not totally full houses and Jerry was pretty excited about it. The only problem is that all those people weren’t there for us.

Thursdays are Zanies telemarketing nights and these people won tickets from dropping a business card in a fish bowl. Very few if any of them listen to WLS or have a clue who Jerry’s Kidders are or Jerry Agar or probably Jerry Lewis either. They were pretty young.

I was just at Zanies as a headliner myself only a few weeks ago and found the Thursday night to be the most difficult show of the week by far and tonight was no exception. They were loud and drunk and chatty and all of us had to work to penetrate their noisy chatter.

Normally I would just plow through it and go on without issue but at the last minute it was told to us that Kipper McGee was at this show. Ugh. Of ALL the nights I didn’t want Kipper to see us it was tonight. He and I go back 20 years or more and he’s never seen me perform live. I‘ve told him for years that when he finally did come out I would be ready.

Oh, I was ready but the audience wanted to sit around and chat and check cell phones or text messages and they made it WAY harder than it needed to be for all of us. All three of us have an act that took us years to develop and it’s damn frustrating to have to fight with a bunch of idiots who don’t understand how to behave in public. This was a huge chore.

I don’t think they were bad people and the women especially were incredible. WOW. If I had to judge them on the amount of gorgeous women in the audience this would be a 10. Judging them on a politeness, listening and smartness scale I’d have to make it about -6.

Tim Slagle had a great point after the show and said how people behave in church is the same way they behave in public as a rule. If they are taught to be quiet and respectful in a church when they’re a kid then usually they are the same when they go out in public later.

He said this generation doesn’t really go to church as a rule and hence they don’t know how to behave properly anywhere and don’t think what they’re doing is wrong at all. That point blew me away and I had never thought of it until he said it. They didn’t have a clue.

And they really didn’t. Some of them were talking loud like it was a regular bar and it’s very difficult to have to work over that for a whole set. Then another few were checking a cell phone or texting something and they didn’t think that was wrong either. I was fuming but I couldn’t show it because Kipper was in the audience and Bert Haas was also there.

Bert books Zanies and Ken Sevara wanted Bert to check out his set because Bert hasn’t seen him in many years. We all wanted to have strong shows to impress Kipper and Bert. They’re the two who had faith in us to make all this happen. Nobody else really mattered.

We all got through our time without major incident and even though I got distracted by loud talking two or three times I still made it work and got a nice ovation when I got off. This was the typical one nighter mob I’ve been used to taming for all these years. It’s too many years of it actually. This one really snapped something inside. I’m SO over all this.

If this is how it is then I need to change what I’m doing because I’m flat out sick of it. If people want to talk that’s fine but why do they come to a live comedy show to do it? It’s a pain in the ass for everyone and I’ve had enough. I thought this week would be different.

I guess I’m wrong. Having to baby sit drunken twenty somethings is not why I gave my life up to earn my comedy stripes traveling across the country in crappy cars learning how to entertain a live audience. All of us on the show have done it and we’re better than this.

I see why some people turn to booze and drugs to numb the pain. I am glad I didn’t but I sure thought about starting tonight. The audience was already there. They were at home in a bar situation and loved it. Drinking is way of life to the majority of the population but it never appealed to me so I usually feel like the outsider. Tonight I felt like it even more so.

These people were from a different planet than I am. Most of them looked like they had money and were in the in crowd. They had blackberries and a Beamer and lived in a Lake Shore Drive high rise condo. The women were stunning and the guys were chasing them.

That’s fine but trying to do comedy in between their partying was futile. They weren‘t a comedy audience, they were there to be seen and hang out. The show was background for their party and I am not interested in that. I want to find people who want to see comedy.

Where the hell are they? They sure weren’t at Zanies in Chicago tonight. I hope they are planning on coming in for the weekend because this was a real patience tester. Jerry said I had a great show but I knew better. This was survival. I’m pretty good at that but it wasn’t what I came for this week. I wanted to give our WLS listeners a treat they never expected.

Hopefully we can build to that at some point and I will stop putting my expectations for the audiences this week so high. They are who they are and we will do our best to give all of them our very best show. I just don’t think it should be this much unnecessary work. It wasn’t meant to be this way but it is. The good thing is as soon as we were done they left to party somewhere else and we were forgotten about immediately. Time to do the same.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reshuffle The Deck

Wednesday June 18th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Back to Earth today from the Mothership, Uranus and hell. I was really bumming out at the thought of not selling out the house last night but there was a lot of good logic thrown around in emails by many of the parties involved and it calmed me down at least a little.

I have to remember I’m not building my whole life over - it’s just this particular project. I can’t expect a week of packed houses at Zanies to undo all the stupid mistakes and nasty breaks I’ve had thrown at me for a lifetime. It would be nice to think I could get paid back for everything in one fell swoop but that’s never going to happen so I need to accept that.

It’s still hard to swallow though but I’m working on it. I got up today and looked around at all the papers and clothes and receipts piling up and realized it’s time for another spring cleaning. Wait a minute, I didn’t even do the first one yet and it’s already summer. I spent some time sorting things into their proper piles and trying to see what I could throw out.

This is where time management kills me. I wanted to get walk in but I didn’t because of my time cleaning up around the house. Then I got a call from Bill Gorgo and we met for a while to get caught up on teaching comedy writing classes again in the fall. We both want to and now we need to find someone to be an administrator type to help us with sign ups.

I wanted to get into the city before traffic made it impossible and I did it. It’s a lot more relaxed if I don’t have to do hits off the exhaust pipe of the pickle truck in front of me for two and a half hours. It was much better to come in and meet with Bill and then go down and pick up Jerry for the show. Neither one of us expected much so we were prepared.

We had a nice dinner before the show and relaxed and talked about where this project is headed. Last night didn’t suck no matter how bummed out I was. It was great for a typical Tuesday in the summer. Tonight had even a few less people but those that came loved it.

Ken, Tim and I all agreed these people were a much better audience and we were a little more encouraged than after last night. We signed autographs again and sold a few cds and did what we were supposed to do. Nobody complained and word will get out on us soon.

It’s not going to be Carnegie Hall but the rest of the week should be ok. We’re building a show but there were again several people who came up and said ‘I listen EVERY week and I love you guys!’ That’s what we wanted to hear and tonight we heard it many times.

I also got word today that the Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha will be at night starting sooner than later. Our co-host Stu has too much other stuff on his plate so I will now be the one driving the show. I need to learn to run the system but I can do that.

Didn’t do anything on Uranus today but I did talk to my friend Tom Orlando who came out to the comedy show. Tom is going to be a real asset to me on many levels and we are formulating ideas on how to make it all come to life. Today was a day for restarting work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mel Brooks Syndrome

Tuesday June 17th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

The Agar has landed. Tonight was our very first Jerry’s Kidders show ever and I guess I should be ecstatic about that but I’m not. Actually I’m feeling pretty miserable right now. The apple that is my life keeps revolving and now the wormy side is exposed. I hate that.

Sometimes it takes a while but that worm always shows up again and it’s here today. It has been gone for a while and I don’t ever miss it but when it’s back I can tell right away. It’s like trying to drive a car in the wrong gear. Something’s wrong and I know it. Now it becomes a matter of how to fix it. Am I able to pop it into gear or will I blow the tranny?

On paper I should be very excited right now. This came from an idea Jerry Agar had so I could be a part of his show to a real live show booked at Zanies that has the blessings of a major radio station that has promoted us to the hilt on the air. All those things are great.

But it was still a major disappointment that we were not jam packed to the gills tonight. It was ‘pretty full’ by all accounts and for a Tuesday night in the summer with gas prices higher than they’ve ever been and the NBA finals and baseball on and blah blah blah but it’s still not what I expected. I was expecting it to be packed nuts to butts but it wasn‘t.

That makes me feel lower than Mike Tyson’s credit rating but what can I do? WLS did a wonderful job of promoting us and the people who did come had a fantastic time but we still didn’t take it to that elusive ‘next level’. The fact is it’s hard to put people in a room. People say they’re going to come and maybe they mean to but life just gets in the way.

I know I should be thankful for what we did do and I am but after a lifetime of slugging it out in the minors it would be SO nice to finally get that elusive payoff. I know it’s only the first night and we’re booked all week and the weekend will probably be ok and all the same excuses I’ve heard year after year but it still a kick in the groin to see empty seats.

It doesn’t escape me that there are flood victims all over the Midwest who had all of the possessions they own float three states away. I am also aware that there are troops over in Iraq who have to sleep in the sand to protect my freedom. There are all kinds of legitimate things to feel sad or disappointed about but this is the one that did me in. I feel we failed.

Maybe it’s the temperamental ‘artiste’ in me. Maybe it’s ego. Maybe it’s all the times it was pounded into me as a kid how I would never amount to anything. Whatever it is I am feeling mighty low right now but I can’t show it to the guys or especially to the audience.

Jerry knows how I get. Many times I’ve called him asking to give me one good reason I shouldn’t drive my car head first into an oncoming truck and he’ll at least listen because I know he can’t relate to the pain. He’s too normal. That’s a great thing and I tell him to be grateful he doesn’t get this low because it isn’t very fun. I need to fight to stay positive. It does feel good to type it out just so I can let my feelings out. I’m really disappointed right now but I have to suck up and shut up because in the end nobody really gives a rat’s ass.

That’s good in a way because who really wants the buttocks of a rodent anyway? I don’t want to dwell on a few empty seats on a Tuesday night in the summer but it’s a lot deeper than that. This is the culmination of a lifetime of work and it feels like I missed the boat.

I have heard excuses my whole life. ‘Oh, you should have been here LAST week. It was PACKED!’ It’s always something. The weather’s too hot or too cold. There is some event in town that happens once every fifty years that takes people away from the shows. I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard ‘Wow, you picked the wrong week to be here buddy.’

Did I really pick it? If I did I want to choose again. I want to choose the week where the show I’M on is the draw in town and the place looks like the welfare line with everybody wrapped around the building waiting to get in. I want us to be the hottest ticket in town.

To me this feels like I have prepared a great meal and spent years cooking it and when I put it out nobody wants it and it’s rotting on the plate. I want to see people enjoying it and having sauce all over their fingers and mouth and smacking their lips because it’s yummy.

I know how to do a comedy show. So do the other guys on the show. We’ve all been at this for years and we were expecting it to be like the Beatles at Shea Stadium or at least a little bit of that mania. The truth is there are a lot of things to be positive about after all.

The fact is we did have a very good show in a very legitimate club. In Chicago Zanies is ‘the’ comedy club and we got our first booking there. Jerry and I met 20 years ago when I was just the opener at Zanies in St. Charles. He was working for a tiny AM station with a signal that couldn’t make it anywhere close to Chicago. Now that station is off the air.

Twenty years later I have headlined at all the Zanies so many times it’s not even a thrill anymore. Yes it’s still great but it isn’t the mythical far away aspiration it once was. It’s a job now and I’ve done it and done it well. I’m one of Zanies top acts and Jerry is one of Chicago’s top radio personalities at WLS. We both came SO far from where we started.

Mel Brooks said he felt every one of his movies was a complete failure because he had such grandiose plans in his head when he started but what came out always disappointed him. I guess I feel the same way. Mel Brooks had several major hit movies and is a huge success by most people’s standards but by his own he was a schmuck. I feel that way too.

I talked with Tim Slagle after the show and he felt a little disappointed too. He thought more to my way of thinking that he was expecting roses and panties and room keys to be piling up in front of the stage while we were on. Well maybe not that but more than what actually happened. Nobody that was there had a bad time and they all lined up to meet us.

Ken Sevara was thrilled. He is a very positive guy and a wonderful politician. He knows how to say the right thing at the right time and is a glass half full kind of guy. He kept this in perspective and made some great points after the show. We did do a strong show and it was enjoyed by those who attended. Mission accomplished…but I’m still disappointed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back To Abnormal

Monday June 16th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Back to the full Monday schedule. I was off from Zanies last week and rather enjoyed it but today it was back to abnormally normal. I rode the train in the morning to WLS to get one more plug in for Jerry’s Kidders this week at Zanies. I won’t know if it will make any difference until we actually get there but we had a nice flow today and all of us felt good.

That doesn’t translate into selling seats though. There has to be something that causes a group of people to attend an event and I wish I knew exactly what that is. I’ve been trying to pack a room full of people to see me for as long as I’ve been a comedian and I haven’t.

I’ve had rooms full of people but they weren’t there specifically to see me. That makes a BIG difference - especially in pay. If I could fill a room of even 2-300 on a regular basis I would be making a lot more money than I am now both from the club and with my own merchandising. There are a precious few comedians that can put butts in seats these days.

Dane Cook sure mastered how to do it though. He is the best marketer I’ve seen and it’s got nothing to do with his actual act. He captured the 20 somethings market and good for him for doing it. We could all learn from how he did it and improve our income big time.

We’re doing more with this WLS week than anything I’ve ever been involved in. We’re on the station website and they’re running on air promos for us and Jerry is talking about us too. WLS has a far reaching audience but will any of them come out to actually see us?

That’s yet to be seen and it’s driving us all nuts trying to figure it out. We know we will give anyone who comes out a great show and we want it to be a big event but there’s just no way to predict it right now. Plus this is the start of the summer season and that’s not an easy time to draw people to see comedy. All we can do is show up this week and find out.

I fell asleep on the train coming home and missed my stop. It sure is a panic to wake up and not recognize the scenery and realize what happened but I’m only one stop away from the end of the line so it wasn’t a catastrophe. It did make my long day even longer though and I didn’t get a nap in before having to get in my car and drive to Chicago to do Zanies.

There was a small crowd tonight but a super solid group of comedians. These shows are unpredictable in that way. Sometimes the audience is hot and the comic lineup is weak or just the opposite. Sometimes everyone just plain sucks. Not tonight. The lineup included people like Bryan Berrey, Hannibal Burress, Kevin Williams and quite a few others too.

Those may not be household names yet but they’re all talented comedians. Well, they’re POTENTIALLY talented comedians. It’s a long ride and turning potential into a product takes years to do. Then after it’s a product the marketing process takes over and that’s the point most people lose it. It’s usually one or the other. The people who get the marketing part stop working on their act and the people with good acts usually don’t market. I know I fell into the category of poorly marketing myself and now I’m trying to turn that around.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Was (Not Was) Is Back!

Sunday June 15th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Father’s Day. No big deal. The revolving apple of my life currently has the bullet proof side facing out and not the wormy part. When I’m like this nothing bothers me and I have a callous so thick nothing can penetrate it. When the wormy side rolls around it‘s a totally different story. EVERYTHING reminds me of some painful memory but that‘s not today.

The positive I was able to do this week was to write those heartfelt letters to my brother Larry and my sister Tammy. They both should have gotten them by now and whether they respond or not is out of my hands. I wrote my sincere feelings and put my emotions out to possibly be stomped on but that’s a chance I felt I had to take. Now I’ll see what happens.

Even if it’s more silence at least I made a well thought out attempt. I’ve got a lot boiling on my personal stove right now and thoughts of Father’s Day and my sister’s birthday are only a few of the things swirling around up in the blender that is my brain. It’s on ‘puree’.

I talked to my friend Max down in Springfield because he’s one of the few people who totally gets what I’m talking about concerning broken families. His father is a lout and as boorish and rude as mine was. Max has the same feelings of inner torture I do and each of us call the other when we’re feeling low because it totally helps to talk to a kindred spirit.

Max was feeling down because he came to the realization that no matter how well he is doing he will always have that hole in his life where a father and mother should be and so do I. I was having a ‘bullet proof’ day as we refer to them but he was feeling a little down. I’m glad I called because he needed to unload a little and he’s been there for me as well.

We got to talking about how as we get older the desire for success and accomplishment to please the old man or get his attention or whatever the real reason is starts to fade and I totally agree. I still want to succeed and accomplish things but I want to do it for ME. We have both come farther than anyone expected us to but now we’re hacking through life.

Max has said many times and he said it again that if going to the Loop and getting fired after a year and humiliated and dragged through the mud for no real reason is what it took to hook us up then it was totally worth it. What an honor to hear those words but I have to agree with him. Max and I bond on a level that is deeper than most anyone I‘ve ever met.

It’s a bond of inner pain and turmoil and knowing we don’t want to turn out like either one of our fathers who were both wastes of DNA. Mine is dead and Max’s soon will be because he drinks and smokes and doesn’t take care of himself or try to make up for his shoddy treatment to his kids either. There’s no guilt whatsoever and Max is stung by it.

He told me he is working so hard and accomplishing things so he won’t be like his old man but I told him he already isn’t. He’s a great father and husband and is ambitious like few people I’ve ever met. He is on the radio and has rental properties and owns a deli and ice cream shop and he just applied to be the GM at his radio station. That boy is a hustler.

He’s got my life savings up as collateral on his ice cream shop and he keeps telling me that’s the best investment I’ve ever made because it will pay off beyond my imagination when he hits it big and I really think he will. That’s not why I did it though. I did it so he could live his dream and not be a boil on the ass of society like his father. He’s a winner.

I need people like that around me for my own launch into the business world. Max is a big believer in the Uranus project and at some point I know he’ll help me down the road. If nothing else he calls me and prods me to keep working on it and he told me that he has the figure of $10 million in his head for some reason. That’s how much he says I’ll make.

The more I think about it the more I don’t think that’s out of line. It might take a while but that’s ok. I don’t expect anything for nothing and I am thrilled to oversee the process of this whole thing. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything so having the little victories helps make winning a habit so when big success comes I’ll be ready for it.

One thing I did accomplish was buying the new CD from Was (Not Was) which is one of my all time favorite bands. For a dorky white boy from Wisconsin I sure do have some eclectic musical tastes. I’m by far not the average cheese head who listens to classic rock over and over again and nothing else. I like to find those rare artists that need to be heard.

Was (Not Was) is a group like that and a great one. They have a CD called “What Up Dog?” and every song on it is fantastic. The whole CD flows extremely well and all the songs fit together and it’s a treat to listen to it whenever I can. I never get sick of it and I have owned it since it came out in 1988 I think it was. They had a follow up to it in 1990.

I just found out they released a new one in the last month or so and I went immediately to find it and I did. I only got a chance to hear the first song but I already like it. They are one of the most interesting lyrical bands I’ve ever heard and that’s important to me in my musical appetite. I love someone who can turn a clever phrase and paint a picture for me.

One of their songs from “What Up Dog?” talks about a strained relationship between a father and a son. It’s called ‘Somewhere In America There’s A Street Named After My Dad’. Then it has the tag line ‘…and the home we never had.’ When I heard that song for the first time it went right to my heart and stayed there and I have loved them ever since.

They’ve really got a lot of talent and it’s beyond me why they’re not superstars. They’re doing alright I guess and Don Was has produced a ton of huge acts in the last 15 years or so but their own music just resonates deeply in my soul and I love it. I can’t wait to hear a whole new CD by them and as soon as I’m done typing I’m going to sit back and enjoy it.

This is a good time right now. The Mothership Connection radio show is building and I can see that continuing even though two guests backed out on us today and we had to talk off the cuff for two hours. We’ll get back in a groove next week. WLS is fun too. Our big week at Zanies is now here and we’ll get a chance to see if we’re a draw or not. Whatever happens we’ll have a fun week to remember and I’ll forget about my father even more.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Probing Uranus

Saturday June 14th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

No gig tonight but that doesn’t mean it was a day off. I worked on getting momentum in motion as I keep trying to bring this Uranus project to life. I didn’t get to sleep until about 6am because of my long drive back from Michigan. Then I got awakened by the phone as call after call started flowing around 10 so I stayed up and started working. I don’t mind.

I sent George Noory from Coast to Coast AM an email after I got cut off yesterday with the bad cell phone connection and he wrote me back. He’ll be in town in July and I think I will have a chance to meet him then. That started my day off nicely and gave me energy.

My emails are piling up again and I need to hack away at those and I still need to do my reconnecting with a bunch of bookers I’ve let slide as well. I thought I’d be able to get the ball rolling today but it wasn’t to be. Jerry Agar called and said he was coming over to get his motorcycle worked on at a dealership which is a few blocks from me so we had lunch.

We went over next week’s agenda at Zanies and also what we need to do after the week so we can keep getting bookings. Holiday parties are coming up and we’d be perfect for a company party. The goal with this is not to keep doing clubs but to take it higher where it can actually make us some money. It’s a great show and I can totally see this in theatres.

Jerry brought his 9 year old daughter Kaelin along and after lunch they went with me to get some business cards made up for Uranus Factory Outlet. I had to choose the template for the cards and I asked Kaelin to pick the one that she thought was the best and she had an idea right away without hesitation. ‘That’s the best one.’ she said. ‘Use that.’ So I did.

Why fight it? That kid is a firecracker. I want this to attract the kid in all of us so I used her judgment without hesitation. There were two women at the Office Depot who saw the name on the card and they both giggled which started Jerry and I giggling and I knew that I have a total winner here just with the name. Now I need to pack the site with products.

The cards will look great and have a picture of a planet with a ring around it which I’m sure is probably a picture of Saturn rather than Uranus but it’s tilted at an angle to match the tilt of the ring around Uranus. Yes there’s a ring around Uranus and if that isn’t funny right there then I’m out of business before I start. This whole thing is a 9 year old’s joke.

I dropped Jerry and Kaelin off and went back and got some postcards made up as well. I need something to pass out on tables before shows and put up in grocery stores and on as many bulletin boards as I can find. I am now in business and this is my first crack at some kind of an advertising campaign. It cost me over $300 but I ordered in quantities of 2500.

You can better believe if you see me in person in the next year or so you’re going to get one if not both of them whether you want it or not. Again, I am now a MARKETER first. Anything and everything else comes second. I have learned from reading books from guys like Joe Girard how important marketing is and I’m finally starting to do some for myself.

My Personal Luck Day

Friday June 13th, 2008 - Grayling, MI/Lake Villa, IL

there’s one day that doesn’t scare me it’s Friday the 13th. It’s just another day in a life of Friday the 13ths for me so I’m used to it by now. At this point I’ll walk under a ladder, break a case of mirrors, throw salt over the wrong shoulder, whatever you like. Any bit of superstition I had is long gone. The damage is done. Black cats refuse to cross MY path.

Whatever happens happens and I just try to deal with it the best I can. Today did have a goofy vibe to it though. It wasn’t bad, just odd. I had a gig in Grayling, MI tonight. I had a two night tour booked for a guy named Steve Sabo who I like and respect. I had to get out of his show last night so I could endure that humiliation fest instead. I needed the money.

I didn’t want to cancel the second night too so I agreed to do it. What I did NOT do was look at the map at how far it was. My fault totally. It was 403 and a half miles from where I live and it was too late to back out when I discovered that so I sucked it up and started to drive this morning. I ate breakfast at the Red School House but my waitress cutie was off.

I knew I wouldn’t be making that much on this gig but it was a chance to tune up for the big week at Zanies next week with Jerry’s Kidders so I resolved myself to doing it. I took advantage of a day with decent weather and turned my car into a mobile office for the day so I could catch up on stuff. Many people sit at a cubicle and daydream. Mine is moving.

Getting things done in the car has become something I’m pretty good at. I’ve had lots of practice at it and I find that it makes the drives WAY shorter. I know I shouldn’t but I like to do crossword puzzles. I don’t do them in heavy traffic but on wide open stretches it’s a time killer and it keeps my brain busy between writing jokes and listening to the radio.

Today I had 403 miles to kill and I made great use of it. I am really narrowing down my list of new material to work in and I have about 75 new lines or bits ideas I’m working in. I typed them out and put them in a three ring binder and was going over them in the car as I drove north. I can already feel the improvement and I haven’t even tried most of this yet.

Another thing I’ve been working on are the actual products for the Uranus site. I sent an update to my ‘inner circle of Uranus’ which is 50 people I hand picked that are either very creative or supportive or both. I heard back some great ideas and comments and I took the time to really go over them and think about how I’m actually going to pull this thing off.

I also sent out a newsletter to fans and students after taking an unplanned for break from it after Mr. Embezzler pulled his little stunt. It really wiped me out and I had to start over from nothing and I still have a long way to go. My new web person Shelley has been easy to work with but we’re still working out a system for all this and it will take time to do it.

The old one used to be in a newsletter template but now it’s just in email form as we get it up and running again. Allegedly there were a couple thousand names on that old list but he apparently didn’t include them when he sent all my stuff so now it’s starting all over.

I can piss and moan and whine and bitch but none of those things are going to change it. I have vowed to be done with anger over this and plow through it. I’m in a good space for being creative and Uranus keeps me going. I can feel so many great things about to pop.

The show was at 8pm Eastern time which means I lost an hour. I got to the Ramada Inn in Grayling at 7:33. I don’t like to cut it that close but that’s how it worked today. I was in a great mood because I worked all day but this gig had hell’s blowtorch written all over it. The audience was tiny and there was a six year old kid with her parents. And a big drunk.

I thought this was going to be another meatball surgery session but he show started a bit late and the drunk shut up or passed out or whatever he did and he wasn’t a problem at all for my show. The kid left halfway through the opener who was also a nice kid named Rye Silverman. He was smart and funny and laid back and the whole experience was very fun.

The crowd got bigger close to show time and by the time I got on they were really hot. I tried a few of my new bits and reworked a lot of the old ones and just had fun with it. I’m really learning to be in the moment and trying to shape each show to that particular crowd and it’s working very well. These people and I formed a bond and I did exactly an hour.

Last night the money people couldn’t relate to having a crappy car or struggling like the people tonight could. This is the out back sticks of Michigan where the economy left long ago. People are living close to the bone up here and they could totally relate to my humor.

I thought I was going to be miserable but in fact it as just the opposite. This show made my whole day even though it only paid $200 and gas cost me $91 to get there and back. It isn’t as easy to make a living doing these one nighters like it once was and I can’t rely on these like I once could. This particular one was really fun but as a whole these are brutal.

Hotels have long lost their thrill and I wanted to get home. I gained my hour back and I was feeling good and wide awake after the show. My favorite radio show Coast to Coast AM would keep me company for much of the trip and tonight’s topic was Friday the 13th.

They even had a special line to call for unlucky people so I decided to call. To my shock I got through! I have never called that show before even though I love listening to it. I had that little voice inside say call so I did. I had all kinds of unlucky stories and jokes in case it was going well but right in the middle of getting a roll going my cell phone just cut out.

What a MAJOR hassle and I screamed at it as I heard those familiar beeps of losing my call. George Noory is the host and he knows Kipper McGee at WLS. George said that he is scheduled to come to Chicago this summer and I totally want to meet him if I can do it.

I think I can. Kipper knows I love the show and I’d eventually love to be a guest comic. I love the topics and would fit right in. What a great fan base to plug the King of Uranus too. I’d always dreamed of being on the show and even the short time I was on fulfilled a long time dream and it was on Friday the 13th yet. See? It’s not such a bad day after all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Giant Leap For Uranus!

Thursday June 12th, 2008 - Lombard, IL

Highs and lows are part of life but in the entertainment business they come a lot quicker than in real life. One minute life is euphoric and the next it’s horrific. I am a wreck from a lifetime of this and there seem to be a lot more downs than ups. Today I got to taste both.

The major up happened when I was able to FINALLY see something actually up on the Uranus Factory Outlet website. Granted, it’s only a ‘coming soon’ page but at least it’s up and running. Well not quite running. Yet. First it has to crawl. Then walk. THEN it’ll run.

This was one small step for Dobie, one giant step for Uranus. I knew this wouldn’t be a cakewalk and I’ve been distracted by several things along the way but getting to this point is nothing short of a major thrill. To come from an idea in the shower and breathe life into it is what makes me get out of bed every morning. I’ve finally seen the birth of my baby!

That’s what it is though, a baby. Babies need nurturing every day and they poop and pee without notice or caring. They cry and need attention at all hours of the day or night and it will be a strain on my wallet too. I now have a responsibility to raise it up into adulthood.

It was fun to admire the page for a minute or so but now I have to get products made so I can sell them. I also have to get my financial situation straight so I can get paid for them too. I need to eventually take credit cards but a paypal account is needed and I also need a crash course on sales tax and taxes in general so I don’t get myself stuck in that mud pit.

I’m going to be in with the big boys now and this is exactly the situation my students go to right after they graduate comedy class. Graduation is fun and everyone laughs and it’s a wonderful audience of friends and family. But that lasts for ONE night. Then it’s right out into the real world and that’s quite often where the joy ride stops. This is the same for me.

Everyone dreams about starting a business of some kind. It looks easy and it sounds fun and who doesn’t dream of making a million dollars and living on Easy Street? I am not at all naïve enough to think the hard part is over. It hasn’t even started yet. All I did was put my first toe into the water of a shark infested pool. Now I need to dive in and swim in it.

I have some good people around me but I know I need to find more. I need to consult as many people with actual business experience as I can to avoid the pitfalls most newbies in business make. I’m going to be tight with my money because I don’t have a lot right now.

There are a lot more steps I need to make after this one including getting the real site up soon. I will look into making some products and realistically I want to be in place to have some sort of a Christmas rush later in the year. I would be thrilled if I could turn a profit.

There’s no guarantee of that though. This is all a crapshoot and I’m used to a crap catch. It sure is an adventure though and I am enjoying it more and more. Seeing that page up on the screen made me feel like a proud papa for sure. But I still have to make a living now.

That’s where the downer part came in. I had a private corporate show for some financial planners out at the Westin Hotel in Lombard tonight and it was a total kick in the groin of my ego and self esteem. Just when I think things are pretty good I have a show like this to bring me back from Uranus but quick. The degree of difficulty on this one was five stars.

I got this gig from Tim Walkoe who I really like. He’s one of the best comedians in the city and he did this group last year. He recommended me for this and said it was good for him last year. I talked to one of the partners in the firm and he seemed like a very nice guy so I didn’t think anything of it until I got to the hotel and saw the situation I was facing.

These people were in meetings all day since about 8am. Most of them were over 40 and many were older. They had just had a huge dinner after a cocktail hour and after that there was a power point presentation and then an awards ceremony for all of the top 15 sellers.

These people were tired and tipsy and full of red meat and then I got my usual intro that came from someone with ZERO entertainment experience and made it even harder. When he said my name about half of the people got up and left, most of them in the front rows.

To make it even worse there were no stage lights and I had to stand in front of a podium which took up most of the stage. Oh, and there was no formal microphone either. The guy who brought me up handed me a clip on lapel mike which didn’t work so they had to find another one and that postponed things for a minute or so while even more people left.

Right before I went on I asked one of the partners in charge how much time he wanted me to do and he said ’Oh, about an hour.’ WHAT? There was NO WAY anybody could have entertained these people for an entire hour after a long day like that. I was screwed.

All I could do is my best and I did. I held the mike rather than put it on because it had a weak battery and I couldn’t be heard anyway. I ripped as much clean stuff off the top as I could and they laughed some but then they hit the wall and I could have lit my testicles on fire and they would have yawned as I screamed in agony. This was way past their limit.

They were not mean people at all but I don’t think they were expecting a comedian and I know they weren’t expecting me to do an hour so I got off on a pretty big laugh at the 48 minute mark. I could tell the people were glad it was over but nobody was more than me.

After the show it was the awkward process of getting paid. Usually in gigs like this they have a check ready and I get it right after the show and that’s it. I waited around and got a funny look from all the partners until I said politely ’Are we going to square up soon?’

One of the guys said ‘You want to get paid NOW? What, do you think I should just get a checkbook and write one NOW?’ Uh, yeah. That would be great. But it didn’t happen. I guess he hadn’t been privy to protocol for hiring entertainment and he told me to ‘bill us through Walkoe and I’ll take care of it.’ Oh. I didn’t know that was part of the deal. I said thanks and left but there was a sinking feeling the whole drive home. Come on, Uranus!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cleaning Up Vomit

Wednesday June 11th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Forgiveness. Ouch. That’s been a tough one for me throughout my life. Everyone has an area of extreme weakness and this is mine. I never had any problem with alcohol or drugs like so many others in show business and life have had. Forgiveness has been my demon.

Some things are just hard to let go. I try to be kind and patient and understanding of the other side of an argument but sometimes none of that works and I blow a gasket. Nobody has ever accused me of failing to voice my unvarnished opinion and sometimes it has not gotten me the results I wanted. I’m learning to behave way better but I still have relapses.

Some of the clashes I’ve had in my life have been justified. Others have been a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some I’ve been able to fix and others not. It’s very rewarding when a broken relationship gets fixed and that was my theme for the day.

My sister Tammy’s birthday is coming up on Sunday which is also Father’s Day. I have not spoken with Tammy for over fifteen years now and it’s like we’ve erased any little bit of family relationship we’ve ever had, and we didn’t have all that much to begin with.

Tammy and my brother Larry lived with my father and step mother along with their son and my half brother Bruce. I grew up with my grandparents mostly but would get taken to visit my brothers and sister on school vacations and summers. We never really gelled and I tried to fit in but just never did. For whatever reason I was always the constant outsider.

Tammy and I had a falling out in 1993 and I am really sorry about that. I said some ugly things I shouldn’t have but it was a very difficult time for me and I was just blowing off a whole lot of steam. That doesn’t make it right but it does explain why I did it. I regret it.

I’ve tried several times to patch things up with her but she wants no part of it. I am very sorry for what I did but I don’t think I should be cast out like a demon forever for it. I’m a human being and I make mistakes and I admit the mistakes I made back then but that was probably the hardest time of my life. I was dealing with a lot of horrible things back then.

I had just had a near fatal car wreck and had broken bones all over my body. I had to be at home 23 hours a day that I wasn’t at physical therapy and one of my roommates had an argument with the other and stole all the furniture in the house to get even. I was screwed.

Those aren’t the best circumstances for brotherly love and I don’t even like going back to that place in my mind right now. It was a bad time. There have been a lot of times since that have been pretty good and others not so much but Tammy and I haven’t talked since.

I woke up really early this morning and wrote her yet another letter. I’ve tried it several times before with no luck. I think I might have gotten one response but it wasn’t positive and then the others were just ignored. Nobody likes to be ignored and I wonder why I try.

I guess it just seems wrong to me to not make an attempt to mend a fence that needs it.
Tammy and I will probably never be brother and sister but we both came from the same polluted gene pool and I have to believe she has her own painful memories of our family. I would think it would help us both heal if we talked about it and I wrote her exactly that.

My brother Larry is two years older and he stopped talking to me a few years ago too. It wasn’t from any arguments, he just kind of drifted away. He has his own life and I was on the road all the time. I tried to contact him a few times but he didn’t respond so I stopped.

I wrote Larry a letter too while I was on a roll and just asked him to forgive me for what I may have done to make him not want to talk to me. I asked Tammy the same thing. This is not easy for anyone to do but those are the things in life that are by far most rewarding.

This situation is like trying to clean up vomit or after a tornado. It’s a big ugly mess and there isn’t really any one place to start. The damage is everywhere and the natural urge we all have is to either walk away from it or find someone else to clean it up. It’s not pretty.

That’s exactly why I attempted to do it yet again. None of this is pretty and it has a deep rooted stranglehold on all of our pasts. There are a lot of people with issues like this so if I can write about my situation maybe it will help someone else with theirs. I sure hope so. I’d hate to think I was getting down in the trenches of all this for nothing. It sure isn’t fun.

I wrote what I sincerely felt and that’s a deep sadness for how things transpired and the deeper regret for the way I handled things. I was SO wrong and who wants to admit that? Nobody. But that’s the way it is so I laid claim to it. I want to allow all of us to heal now.

This whole subject took up most of the space in my head today and still is. How can we patch this whole thing up? Fifteen years is a long time. I’m not angry at her or my brother Larry or Bruce either. They all seem to be furious with me and all I want is to make good.

I got to thinking about my ex partner who embezzled all my money at Zanies. He’s on my ‘no fly’ list and if he asked for forgiveness I‘d have a very hard time with it. That one still stings to the bone and is a big sore spot. I know I should forgive him but it‘s not easy.

Then I got to thinking about my step mother. As a kid she and I never got along. I hated her and I don’t use that word often. I prayed for her slow and painful death and eventually I got it. She died of diabetes a few years ago and it was only then I found forgiveness for her. I heard she did die in pain and I saw how wrong I was to wish bad things on anyone.

I was very sad when I heard she had passed but then I was overcome with a pure feeling of total forgiveness that lasts to this day. Never have I had a single relapse and I see now how bad her situation was from an adult perspective. She’d had a hellish life all along.

Maybe this life is just a big test. Or a school yard filled with lessons. I have no answers. I do know I did my best to clean up a giant pile of vomit today that’s been there for years.
This has nothing to do with comedy but if it works out I’ll have a lot more laughter in me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All Booked Up

Tuesday June 10th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I didn’t pick up one single baseball card today and that’s good. I also didn’t type a word on my movie script that’s been sitting around gathering spider webs on and that’s bad. It’s still a constant struggle to manage my time and keep all of my projects in a running order.

Things are piling up similar to how they were a couple of years ago when I got rid of all the stuff in my life I wasn’t using. That was about 80% or more of everything I owned but I didn’t miss it at all after I chucked it. It felt good actually. I think it’s time to do it again.

The main thing that’s stacking up are books and tapes and audio CD programs just like before. I have a knack for finding that kind of stuff at rummage sales and thrift stores and even regular book stores and I buy it and then don’t read or listen to any of it. I have a few favorites that I look at over and over again and the rest just sit around unread. I hate that.

I don’t need to buy a book or a tape or a CD for the next five years or more. If I just use the stuff I have I’ll have more than enough to soak my brain in positive thoughts and good music without spending a penny. And if I sold or gave away most of it I wouldn’t be sad.

The main thing I need to read are the books about business and marketing. I now have a respectable collection of mail order and marketing and small business start up books that I would put up with just about anyone else who isn’t named Barnes or Noble. I’m full up.

Now all I need to do is READ the damn things. I have been listening to a few tapes like E. Joseph Cossman’s course and Tony Robbins and some Wayne Dyer but I have a whole shelf of others I need to get to as well. If I don’t get to them soon I should get rid of them.

I took special time today to start reading the one book I’ve been meaning to read since it came out in the ‘70s. It’s called ‘The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches’ and I’ve talked about it before. It was written by an ad guy named Joe Karbo and it sold millions by mail order.

There was a copy I bought on Ebay but it was a new and allegedly improved version of it that was done by another author. This was the original book and I had it sent to me by a former comedy student named John O’Brien who’s also a student of human nature and all kinds of other stuff too. I appreciate him sending it to me and I will read it and start there.

Then I need to keep going through as much of this stuff as I can and keep growing. I am not going to be able to write if I don’t take time to read more. All I need is one good idea from each book or audio program and I’ll have a nice load of brain bullets to start firing.

The reality is there isn’t a ‘lazy man’s way’ to anything. The book is really good and it’s about using the mind to focus on what a person really wants. That theme has been done in many forms from The Secret to The Bible to Wayne Dyer to Tony Robbins to anyone else who ever studied how the human brain works. We truly are creatures of thought and ideas are things and eventually they do come true. This is a great book to start off my training.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Marketing Mania

Monday June 9th, 2008 - Chicago, IL/Milwaukee, WI

I’m grabbing my new philosophy of life by the throat and not letting go. I asked Kipper McGee where his saying came from and he said he honestly couldn’t remember. He tried to Google it and what came up was my diary entry from yesterday quoting it and that’s it.

He told me he’d been using it for so long that he just focused on the quote and not who said it and for all he knows it might have been him. But it might not have been either. It’s not really important who actually said it. All I know is I’m thrilled I was able to hear it.

It got in my head immediately and rattled around but didn’t roll out the other ear. I have been thinking about it constantly since I heard it and took time to print out copies for each one of Jerry’s Kidders too. I have mine on the wall above my light switch so it will be the last thing I see at night and the first thing each morning. I have now changed my priority.

Marketing truly is the most important part of my business and indirectly my life too. If I can correctly market myself and my ideas I won’t be in want or need of anything on earth. I have made a ton of mistakes and overlooked a lot of smart things I could or should have done but I’m not going to miss out on this chance. I am on a marketing mission for life.

The good part of that is I don’t ever have to write another joke if I don’t want to. I want to actually but now the pressure is off. I’m funny enough. All I need is an act I can do for 45 minutes and I can technically get booked in any club or venue in America. I have that.

Dat Phan was the first winner of Last Comic Standing and he didn’t have 45 minutes or even close to that. He was marketed as a headliner and a future star but couldn’t deliver. I have the exact opposite problem. I can do the time but have been marketed rather weakly.

I am seeing quite a few people who have opened for me get shots on network TV and/or parts in movies and it has NOTHING to do with talent. They marketed themselves to who they needed to so they could be considered for the spots they got. I have been poor at that.

I guess I was always worried about being good enough or wanting to meet MY high but unnecessary standards and didn’t realize I was good enough to be put in the pool that gets to do a lot of the things I’ve wanted to. Talent is really not all that much of a requirement.

Some luck is involved but part of that luck is showing up around the places that can get what I’m looking for. Network TV and movies are made in Los Angeles but I’ve lived in places like Milwaukee and Reno and Salt Lake City and Lansing, MI. What did I expect?

I chased the dream of comedy for all these years with no real goals. I stupidly thought if I was a really good comic someone would see that and map out my future with no glitches or disappointments. What a moron I was. That doesn’t happen to ANYONE. They do it in their head first and then make it happen in reality. Madonna is a great example. Is it talent or marketing with her? NO question. She is a marketing genius and my hat is off to her.

This message is finally getting through to me now for some reason. If I don’t change my path I’m going to still be getting the results I’m getting and some of them I don’t like. It’s up to me to change my path and I’m doing exactly that effective immediately. I can feel it already starting to take hold of my whole being and I feel like a light has been turned on.

We had a killer show on WLS this morning. We were all in sync and energy flowed for our whole segment. Whether we’re good or not though we’re on WLS and more people at one time will hear us during that time than have probably seen me live in several years.

THAT is what’s important now. Some of them might think we suck eggs but most have no real opinion at all. We’re just on the radio when they have it on and they couldn’t care less about who we are. But then we might slip some funny lines in and they perk up. Then before too long they look forward to us coming on or even go to the website to find us.

Next week at Zanies will be very interesting. The station has gone all out to plug us and we’re all grateful for it. Kipper believes in us and Jerry does too and we’re all feeling it at every level. It’s nice that we’re good but it wouldn’t matter if we weren’t. If we are on the radio long enough SOMEONE will come and see us and eventually we’ll acquire fans.

I had the night off from Zanies tonight and didn’t mind at all. I could use a break. I tried to think of what would be the best use of my time and I went up to Milwaukee to visit my friend Todd Kasulke. I’ve known Todd 25 years or more and he’s a true friend. He has his own welding shop business but is intrigued by the Uranus project and wants to help me.

We had a great meeting and I told him the quote about there being lots of undiscovered geniuses but very few undiscovered marketers. He loved it too and has been wallowing in obscurity just like I’ve been for so long. The only difference is welders don’t seek fame.

He’s more than a welder though. Todd is sharp and funny and creative and he gets what I am talking about. He wants to be able to create some kind of product we sell on the site that he makes so we cut out the middle man. We had a fantastic brainstorm session today.

This is the kind of stuff I absolutely LIVE for. I love the creative process and I love the chance to be an entertainer too. The radio show this morning put me in a euphoric mood and then meeting with Todd capped it off. Then to make it even better I stopped at a thrift store and found a high quality postal scale for $40. It has to be worth a lot more than that.

I’ll need it if I want to be in the mail order business and I do. Actually I want to make it clearer than that. I want to be in the mail order MARKETING business and make money. I have been reading books on the topic and they all say I’ll need a scale. Today I got one.

I also stopped at a t-shirt screening place I just happened to drive by. The guy running it was in his 20s and very professional. He gave me a huge catalog and told me he’d help to get what I wanted and I told him I’d take him up on it. This is all starting to make sense to me and if I can stay on this path and continue to market myself I’ll live all of my dreams.