Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Testing Positive

Wednesday July 30th, 2008 - Rosemont, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Looks like today is the day I get my first test of staying in my positive groove. I heard of three comedy clubs that went under and the end doesn’t look to be in sight any time soon. I have talked with several fellow comedians in the past day or so and everyone is feeling a MAJOR pinch of late. Summers are usually slow anyway but clubs closing doesn’t help.

The ones that closed are the Funny Bone in South Bend, IN, a club in Fairview Heights, IL which used to be a Funny Bone but was renamed and I don’t know what the new name was and also a place called Nitwits in Sioux City, IA. Those were all clubs I would’ve put on my radar to start reconnecting with and at one time or another I’ve worked at all three.

This is not good news for comedians and comedy in general. Last month it was the club in Cedar Rapids, IA called Penguins that closed because of the flood that wiped out all of the town. Several other places have been having really small crowds and nobody knows if and when they’ll close either. This has been a hellacious summer for a lot of comedians.

As luck would have it I was taking some time off anyway and it couldn’t have come at a better time but now I need to start delving back into the mud again and try to get my piece of the action in an ever shrinking club market. This is a numbers game and those numbers are getting smaller as far as available dates to go around for a large number of comedians.

This is a perfect example of supply and demand. There are a limited number of clubs to work and all of them have 50-52 weeks a year to fill with usually three act shows. There’s an opener/emcee slot which is usually filled by a local. Then it’s the ‘feature’ or ‘middle’ act who usually does 25-30 minutes. Most places have enough local or regional people to cover that spot quite easily every week. Then there’s a ‘headliner’ or ’closer’ which I am.

That’s the hardest position to fill because of many reasons. It’s usually a 45-60 minute set and that alone is not easy. Doing FIVE minutes of comedy successfully is extremely difficult but try to follow two usually mediocre to horrible acts who are trying to gun for your position and then have to entertain a group of drunken strangers who got in for free.

It’s a daunting task and surely not for the squeamish or thin skinned. I have spent years getting ready to be an effective closer and I’ve absolutely accomplished my objective of doing exactly that. In the right situation there aren’t too many headliners working in clubs that can blow me out of the water but that ‘right situation’ is getting to be harder to find.

Nightmarish hecklers like my misadventure in Topeka are getting to be the norm rather than the exception. Inexperienced opening acts who I have no idea how are able to get the club to book them are also getting more common than ever. Anarchy is in full effect now.

Comedy has had a very weak quality control system over the years and inferior acts get bookings when they shouldn’t. Many times funny has NOTHING to do with why a comic gets a booking and I’ve been the recipient of it myself. It all boils down to human nature.

If a booker likes a comic the comic will get booked. He or she only really has to be at a level of ‘funny enough’. Did the crowd leave? No? Ok, I guess it was funny enough. Is it fair? Who’s to say what fair is or isn’t? Everyone THINKS they’re funny but there is a lot of gray area and nobody can really prove or disprove it in either direction. This is our life.

We have to try and convince enough people to hire us for one of those limited spots. It’s taken me a lifetime to polish my craft and I am a strong headliner. Most places I’m hired hire me back. Most. I’ve had some trouble in the south as many northern comics have but not like in Birmingham, AL. They HATED me there and I wasn’t too fond of them either.

I couldn’t by a ticket to that place at this point so I don’t even try. It’s a very nice room physically but they pack it with toothless Skoal chewing inbreds who think dressing up is a matching pair of Dale Earnhardt jackets. Whatever they like it sure isn’t my comedy.

That’s another club I won’t work and that’s how the numbers work. Every comic has to find 50-52 places a year that has a reason to book each of us. And as I said the reason has nothing to do with being funny. It might help at some point but it sure isn’t a requirement.

This is just how it is. People may be surprised to hear it or disagree with me but I know of which I speak. There are clubs that love me because I’m a nice guy off stage - or so the opinion is there. I really do try to be professional onstage and off but not everyone sees it that way. There are also a few places that wouldn’t have me back if I was the new Leno.

The places that will have me back by FAR outweigh those that won’t but now the issue is that there are less places to work period. I hadn’t worked the Funny Bones or Nitwits in a while but I wouldn’t have minded going back to any of them at some point. Now I can’t even if I wanted to and that’s three more weeks out of 52 that I will have to fill next year.

I am still in a good space mentally and am thinking clearly about all this. All comedians and most all Americans in general are feeling a pinch right now. I saw where Bennigan’s restaurants all went out of business overnight and left a bunch of people out in the cold. I hate hearing stories like that and I’m sure there are a lot of people who are in a big panic.

Not me. I have been struggling my whole life. I know how to batten down the hatches at times like this and live like a bigger cockroach than I already am. This doesn’t faze me so much as warn that harder times are coming for everybody. I need to regroup and THINK for a change. Life has been tough before and human nature never changes. I can beat this.

One thing I would really like to beat is the flesh of Mr. Embezzlement. I appeared on an episode of Mike Preston’s Psychobabble TV show tonight and heard he is taking many of my ideas and using them against me on the website he started recently. Yes it rankles me.

What I’d like to do is take an ax handle and fracture his skull. Then he’d have a reason to treat me like dirt. But what I NEED to do is do what I do and do it better because quite frankly I am better. This is a big test. I need to focus on what I want - not that wank pole.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grandma's Window

Tuesday July 29th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

More good vibes all around today. I’m on a nice creative roll right now and I don’t want to waste even one single solitary second of it. I know this doesn’t last forever but for right now I’m in a fantastic mental zone. I feel like I’m bulletproof and nothing can stop me.

I read an interview with Stan Musial once where he talked about how fantastic he felt in spring training every year knowing he was going to hit .330 when the season started. He’d love every minute of it and it was interesting to read that article because I’d never heard it put quite like that before. Right now I feel the same way. Whatever I do is going to work.

I don’t know why I know that but I just do. I think I’m in the position in life I’d hear my grandmother talk about as she got older. She thought that all of us reach a point where we figure out the secret of how life works. It doesn’t happen at the same time for any of us so it becomes a race. While we‘re stumbling through our life there‘s a giant window closing.

IF a person can figure out how life works in time to get through that window before it’s closed that equals success and happiness and all the things everyone dreams about. If not, it’s a horrible feeling knowing what to do but also knowing the window is closed forever.

My grandmother said she missed her window. It was closed by the time she figured out what life was about. Maybe that was why she was so crabby. From my earliest memory it always seemed like she was cold and hard and angry about something. It wasn’t until she was in her 80s that we had these conversations and she really opened up about everything.

She was German and not at all warm by nature. I don’t think I got my first hug from her until I was about 37. She told me she loved me and I wasn’t sure how to react to it. I’d not heard her say it before. She had a long life and a lot of time to think about stuff like this.

Whatever anger and bitterness she kept inside her kept her from living whatever dreams she might have had. We didn’t speak at one point for over nine years. I thought we would never speak again. She didn’t approve of my being in ‘that goddamned show business’.

It was only when we reunited after all those years did we start to become close. I would go out and see her once a week or so and bring her lunch and sit and talk with her and let her just say whatever she was feeling. She opened up on a lot of things and was very wise on many subjects. That theory of the closing window really makes total sense to me now.

I don’t think my window has closed yet. I think this is my time to leap through it before I end up like my grandmother. And grandfather. And father. And most of the people who ever lived. I don’t want to end up like them. I am going to choose to live a fulfilled life.

That takes effort and planning and total commitment but what’s wrong with that? I have lived this long trying to figure things out so why not take it all the way and jump through that window? It‘s a little scary but it‘s a lot scarier to think what might happen if I don‘t.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Dream Monday

Monday July 28th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Today was abnormal but in a very good way. Most Mondays I’m up extra early and on a train headed for Chicago to be on WLS with Jerry’s Kidders. Jerry Agar is on vacation for a week so we had the day off. It felt good to let it rest and we’ll continue again next week.

Monday nights usually find me at Zanies on Wells Street hosting a showcase for up and coming comics but tonight they had a special ‘diversity’ showcase which was looking for ‘different’ comedians. Translation: non Caucasians. They won’t say that but it’s the truth.

Bert Haas picked me to host that showcase because I’m a strong emcee but the one who approves that gassed me right away. She took one look at my picture and said ‘Oh, uh…is there anyone more….uh…diverse?’ Bert told me about it and we both laughed. It’s stupid because it makes their show weaker but they’re going to do it how they’re going to do it.

Actually it felt good to have a whole Monday off. I can’t even remember the last time it happened so I wanted to make the whole day count. I moved even closer to ‘the source’ I talked about yesterday and went inside my skull and started stirring up some brain yogurt.

Everyone has things in their head they haven’t gotten to and today was my day to get all my ducks in a row and start quacking to a steady beat. I took a day to just let my mind go. I dreamed. I imagined. I brainstormed. I visualized myself having already achieved all the challenging goals I always wanted to accomplish and I wouldn’t let those images turn off.

Who doesn’t have a repressed fantasy of some kind deep inside the folds of the brain? It isn’t a bad thing at all but the tragedy lies in not going after it. That’s unfortunately far too common for most of us and it sure was for everyone in my family. Nobody chased dreams and I just refuse to be like them. My father died miserable and I don’t want to follow him.

Whenever I’ve been depressed I’ve always felt out of sync with the universe. When I’m in a groove like this I feel like I’m totally in harmony with everything. Some may call that manic depression and maybe I’m in my manic cycle now but whatever it is I feel fantastic so why fight it? I love it when my creativity is out front and ruling my waking thoughts.

Why do I feel so good right now? Part of it is that I know what I need to do to get where I want to go. Whether I do it or not remains to be seen but I think I have at least a skeleton of a plan and if I keep heading in that direction all that I ever dreamed of will come true.

I took a nice long walk in the sunshine this morning and let my mind go where it would. I took a notebook along and jotted down ideas when they hit me and it got to the point of where they wouldn’t stop hitting me. I felt like Mike Tyson did against Buster Douglas.

One thought after another came flying into my head like bugs on a windshield. I had to sit down and just start sorting them all out but I loved it. How many people ever take one whole day out of their life to just THINK? I highly recommend it. It’s a mental enema.

The main thing I accomplished today was getting all of the projects I want to work on in the immediate future down to one page of ideas along with a skeleton plan on what I need to do to accomplish them. It sounds oversimplified but I really did make major progress.

Part of the reason I think I was able to do that was I’ve been bathing my brain for a few days in the Brian Tracy audio program ‘The Luck Factor’ I talked about previously. It has a very well stated message that luck really isn’t a factor at all - it only appears that way.

He goes on to say how hard work and preparation and having a plan all need to be in the mix and THEN the ‘lucky break’ can happen at any time. It put my head in gear and made me revamp my thinking process. It’s so easy to keep focusing on what is going wrong and not what I want but I need to get focused on exactly the opposite - what I really DO want.

This is the same message ‘The Secret’ has and even the Bible too. There are universal laws we all can use to change our lives and it all starts with changing our thoughts first. I have known this for years. It’s not always easy to stay in that groove but I am in it now.

I made a major step in the right direction today by putting those thoughts down on paper and actually seeing both in my brain and on my paper what I want to accomplish. I put my whole being into it and really had a mental workout. I thought of ideas that surprised even me and I’m excited to get out there and make them happen. This was a breakthrough day.

Since I was on such a roll I started to contact my very top connections in every facet of my life just to share the vibe. I started by sending an email to the booker of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I had some contact with her in the past but then she was gone for a while and now she’s back again. She sent me back an email and told me to resubmit.

It was very nicely worded and she used terms like ‘so glad to hear from you again’ and ‘let’s pick out a date’. Those are REALLY good things to hear and I will do just that. It’s exactly what I need to be doing and a shot on Craig Ferguson will be a tangible reward.

I also wrote a very heartfelt bulletin and posted it on myspace. I have over 1000 friends of all different types and I wanted to see who was on my side and in my groove right now. We all fluctuate but I’m on a good buzz right now so I sent out the note hoping to connect and reconnect with others who can help me and I can help them too. I heard from several.

My cousin Brett in Milwaukee is probably the closest human to me in my life. He is the younger version of me in many ways and he fights some of the same demons I do. He is a Pisces and is left handed and comes from the same pissed in gene pool I do and we have a lifetime of memories to share every time we get together. We always cheer each other up.

Tonight we went to Famous Dave’s in Milwaukee and had a fantastic meal. I love to go to Famous Dave’s because I think he’s a brilliant marketer and a great businessman. He’s very sharp and I met him in person in Salt Lake City years ago. I respect his work ethic so I’m glad we had our dinner there. It was a perfect way to end a special Monday on a high.

"The Source"

Sunday July 27th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Another ride on the radio Mothership in Kenosha tonight and it was a good one. We had a fun show and two interesting guests and easily killed the two hours. We’ve still got a lot of room to grow and improve but for now we’re making steady progress and the big thing is nobody is telling me what to do and how to do it. Creativity blooms in this type of vibe.

For whatever faults, defects or shortcomings I have (and I freely admit there are many) I have been blessed with being close to ‘the source’. I don’t exactly know what that is but it is definitely real and not everyone is close to it. It’s a vibe that flows through the creative types and it takes one to know one. I’ve been there since I was a kid and I always knew it.

I’m not trying to sound cocky or elitist and I don’t think I’m better than anyone else but I do know I’m in a different position than most of the rest of the world. I think that’s why I’ve always admired others who also shared a similar position. Two prime examples of it are my two favorites George Clinton and Rodney Dangerfield. Both were very prolific.

Musicians look to George and comedians look to Rodney as both are innovative and not afraid to follow that inner vibe and trust it to let them keep producing quality work for the entire span of their lives. Rodney was 82 and he still wrote, performed and made movies.

George is just as funky and creative now as he’s ever been. That show last night was off the hook and he was the one who everyone in the room was zeroed in on. Both the crowd and the band were riveted on him and he was the one who brought all the energy together. He was the maestro and we all had our place and role to fill. Mine was to enjoy the show.

Rodney was the same way. He had several HBO young comedian specials and he kept it all together under his creative wing. He hand picked funny people he liked but he knew as much about comedy as anyone else. He hand picked Sam Kinison and Jim Carrey and lots of other people and those shows were loaded with fresh talent because he was a talent too.

Whatever clashes I’ve had were always with non creative people. Unfortunately my old man was a prime example. He never cared about improving himself or searching for a big dream to chase or anything other than deciding he was going to make life hard on himself and when he did that he passed it all down to us too. We never did resolve that conflict.

Seeing George Clinton still banging it out really put me in a good space. I know I have a dollop of that creativity and I am also able to thrive in the maestro position. Rodney did too and I am at an age now where Rodney really made a leap forward. I think I’m ready to make a similar run. I don’t know exactly what that is right now but I can feel I’m ready.

This week I am going to start making some tough decisions. I’ve got a lot of things in a state of half assed disarray and I don’t like that at all. I need to take some time and make a smart plan and STAY WITH IT for once. I can feel myself surfing on the good vibes for a while and when that happens I’m bulletproof. I need to take full advantage of it and I will.

I can’t help but still be grooving on all the good things that happened this week. There’s a lot to sort through but I can’t help still thinking about that P-Funk show last night. What an experience that was and I’ll never forget it. Meeting George last year was a major thrill but getting to hang back stage last night and see how it all worked was right up there too.

Seeing James Wesley Jackson get reunited with them was also very positive. He was on cloud 99 and when he thanked me for ‘making it happen’ I was on cloud 999. I’m not the one who made it happen but I really do think I’m connected to the source of what did.

Wayne Dyer talks about that a lot as does The Secret and all kinds of other publications and pamphlets and even religions. That inner source could be called God or higher power or whatever anyone wants but there is something there and I want to find out what that is.

Why is George Clinton still out there putting on shows so thick with electricity you can cut it with a butcher knife while my uncle who is the same age is wasting his life living in a house by himself down in Missouri? He never chased his dreams and now is going to be living out his days in solitude and squalor just like his brother did. I don’t have an answer.

George Clinton has countless albums to chronicle his work and has performed live for a lifetime and millions of people have been entertained by his creativity and gifts. My uncle had some creative gifts too but he spent his life working a job he hated and now it’s over.

I don’t want to go to my grave with my creativity still inside me. I did one little piss ant CD which isn’t even an example of my best work. Far from it. I’ve had some shows over the years that are right up there with almost anyone I have ever seen and even though only those that were there saw it there were witnesses. I want to take that to a higher level now.

It all begins in my head and that’s what needs to get a tune up right now. I have a chunk of free time for pretty much the rest of the year and even though I’m a little light on cash I need to not focus on that. I can fix that situation and it won’t even take long once I start to tap into that source of flow. I am not going to let myself continue to live like a cockroach.

Wealth comes from within as does health and virtually everything else. I am going to be working on that inside for this next week and start completely over and do a makeover of my mind. I have books and tapes and CD programs I want to start delving into because if I don’t it’s stupid to even have them. I know I need an adjustment and I am going to do it.

My first audio program is by one of my all time favorites Brian Tracy. He’s got a super program called ‘The Luck Factor’ which is one of the best programs I’ve ever heard. He’s very listenable and I’ve been trying to soak in as much of it as I could as I drove around in my car all day. I already can notice an improvement in my thinking and I will claim that.

Before the radio show I had a meal with Shelley my web person. She has a good vibe to offer and I can use that right about now. We went over some ideas and at least let the ball start to roll if even a little. I want to get even closer to that mysterious ‘source’ and I will.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In Funky Heaven

Saturday July 26th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

If I can’t be on stage doing a show on a Saturday night the only other place I’d rather be is at a George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic show. Tonight the P-Funk played at the Cubby Bear nightclub across from Wrigley Field and it was nothing less than funktacular.

I tried to count how many times I’ve seen them live and I can’t. It might be 30. It might be 40. It might be more. Any time I have a chance to catch George and the boys live I will always do it. They rarely disappoint. Some shows are better than others depending on lots of variables but tonight it was all systems go and the Mothership was flying at full speed.

This was a fantastic night on many levels. I contacted James Wesley Jackson who used to open for the band back in the 70s. He had some kind of a falling out like many of them did and it wasn’t really my business so I didn’t pursue it as I got to know James. I think it may have had to do with money but a lot of the band members have had those squabbles.

Again, that’s no business of mine. I know how hard it is keeping MY money in line so I can’t start pointing fingers at George for how he deals with it. There are a lot of people in the band and I have no idea how everyone gets paid. All I care about is hearing the funk.

I had always known James opened for them and as I got to know him better I found him to be just a wonderful soul. What a laid back nice guy he is and I consider him a friend on several levels. We’re both comedians and worked together many times and we’re both on the same page when it comes to loving the P-Funk. We just hit it off right from the start.

I’ve been asking James to come with me to a show for several years now. I would love to see him not only patch up whatever needs to be patched but also have him open up for them again. I know he loved it and who wouldn’t? The gigs might not have been the best because of the circumstances but I’m sure it was fun touring and having fun on the road.

I contacted James this week and he was off tonight and said he’d love to come. I sent an email to George’s manager who I met in Houston last year. She’s very nice and said she’d leave two tickets for us at the will call window. James and I were supposed to meet at 9.

When I got there right at 9:00 I didn’t see James anywhere. I called his cell phone and it went to voice mail so I wasn’t sure what happened. I stood in a long line that got a whole lot longer as people showed up from every direction. This was going to be a full house.

As I stood in line I noticed Pedro Bell standing on the sidewalk. He’s the artist that did most of the cartoon illustration cover art on a lot of George’s biggest albums and he lives in Chicago. His art style is very familiar to anyone who is a fan of the funk and I sure am.

I’ve been trying to track him down for years so he can hopefully do the cover art for my CD. Nobody else would know how cool that is but anyone who is a P-Funk fan would get it right away. I tried to have the artist for my first CD shoot for that style but he missed it.

I walked up to him and asked if he was Pedro Bell and he said yes. I told him I loved his work and named a few of my favorite covers he did and his eyes just about popped out of his head. He was shocked that I knew who he was and we talked for a few minutes and he is very sharp mentally. He’d been sick for a while and nobody knew if he was still alive.

James knew him but said he lost track of Pedro when I asked James to help me find him so I could get him to do my CD artwork. Tonight I found him and we exchanged business cards and I asked him if he’d do my cover and he said he would. I have no idea what he is going to charge me but whatever it is I’ll pay it if I have to sell my hair, lungs and sperm.

How cool would it be to have a Pedro Bell CD cover? I don’t care if nobody else knows who he is, I do and I’d love it. The fans would get it and that’s all I’d care about. The rest of the people will just think I hired some wacky cartoonist to do my artwork. That’s fine.

As I talked with Pedro I got a call from James who was already inside. He had spotted a few people he knew and they got him in and then he came outside and found us and all of us went to the stage entrance and got in that way. That’s the first time I’d ever done that.

James thanked me up and down for coaxing him to show up because he was greeted by the band very warmly and they made him feel welcome. I could see how glad they were to see him and it made me feel great that I had something to do with that. James is part of an era when they were one of the biggest bands in the world and he deserves to get his props.

He told me they loved seeing him and they were thinking of a way to get him back with the show. He was floating on air and I was too just hearing it. He said ‘And YOU are the one who made it happen.’ I don’t know if I made it happen but I did suggest he show up.

While I was talking to Pedro James was meeting up with his friends in the band. He did get some time with George and George made it a point to ask how I was and he saw what I wrote when I covered the show they did in Milwaukee. He loved it. I loved hearing it.

To have all this happen in one night is a feeling if pure electricity. James was in heaven and so was I. I’d never really been backstage before and I got to see the show from a new perspective. I stood next to James and we just grooved our asses off. George comes out at about an hour into the show and we were standing right next to where his path would be.

The band was even hotter than usual tonight and then it was time for George to show up and crank it up even higher. He walked right past us and gave us both a look and a nod of recognition. I could tell he knew who I was because I was standing right next to James.

James turned to me and said ‘He knew it was you’ and that made my whole night. I saw it in his eye and I nodded back and he went out to the stage and the place went nuts. He’s got so much presence and energy even though he’s in his late 60’s. I was amazed as I saw the band take it even higher and they ripped through some old obscure songs that made all of us hardcore old time fans happy. This whole experience was one of my very best ever.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Really Good People

Friday July 25th, 2008 - Springfield, IL/Milwaukee, WI

Another day with Max on the morning show on WYMG in Springfield, IL. We had fun yesterday but today we really got on a roll. We started clicking right at 6am and kept it up the whole morning and that makes the time fly by. Before we knew it it was time to leave.

Morning radio is a blast when it’s like that but it’s not always like that. Max and I are a fantastic team because he doesn’t try to be funny and I have no desire to do ‘radio’. He is the one running the controls and making sure all the sponsorships get mentioned and I am looking to throw in funny lines whenever I can and also rile people up to get them to call.

Every story in the news was good today and that was just luck. But we’ll take it. We did make the most out of it and just flew without nets. That’s the other good thing about a gig in a town like this - expectations are VERY low. Max and his partner Liz don’t try to do a funny show and don’t claim to be comedians. They do fine but today we focused on fun.

There is a receptionist in the building named Heidi who is a very sweet person. She is a Chicago transplant and married a Jamaican guy and lives in Springfield. She sat in for the show and was really good. She had great timing and knew when to laugh and when to talk and when to just sit there and let us go. She said ‘I sure wish you were here EVERY day.’

Max gave her a stern look and she caught it and shut up. It turns out Max is up for a job to be the operations manager for all the stations in the building and he wanted to have me on so the new GM could hear me. If he gets the gig he wanted to bring me in on the show.

We went out to breakfast afterward and talked about the whole situation. Max is a smart guy and has made the most of this opportunity. His wife is from here and even though it’s not a big market he’s taken advantage of his experience and besides being on the air he is out selling commercials all day. That’s where the real money is and he understands that.

He told me if he would get the gig he’d love to bring me in as the third person and then be able to spend more time selling. He knows I’d handle the entertainment part and show up every day and after the show he’d do his radio stuff and I’d go to work on Uranus. It’s actually a good plan in a way but I don’t know how long I could stand living down there.

Max told me he knew I probably wouldn’t want to live there but he knew I had to come down and sign the bank papers anyway so he wanted the new GM to hear me and have an opportunity to hear what I could bring to the table. He didn’t tell me because he wanted to just let me rip and be myself on the air which is exactly what happened. We were on fire.

This is a tough situation. I said I’d never get back in radio full time but this is different. Max would be my direct boss and there would be no BS. He and I work well and we have great chemistry on air. He knows I want to build my Uranus Factory Outlet business and I can do that anywhere since it’s going to be mostly mail order anyway. It will take a while to get going and I’ll have a steady income and insurance and a cheap place to call home.

All those things are very attractive and I don’t have to like the town. I’ll be working for most of my waking hours and if I want to do comedy St. Louis isn’t that far and I can still work in Chicago on weekends too. The main thing is to get that steady income coming in.

After breakfast Max thanked me for coming down and I thanked him for helping me get at least part of my money back. He told me he’d keep me posted on the developments and I told him we’d talked about a job here before and it hadn’t worked out so I’m not upset if it’s all fart gas. Radio in general is fart gas and once in a while there is a bit of truth in it.

Driving home with that cashier’s check was a good feeling even though I knew it would be gone way too fast. I kept driving all the way to Milwaukee and went right to the Wells Fargo Bank to pay off my credit card. That felt good actually because I’m saving a bunch on interest. I took the remainder and put it in my bank and will pay the dentist off with it.

I went to Milwaukee because my friend Rick Wey from Nashville was up doing a gig at Jokerz Comedy Club. Rick took me to a Brewers game last year because his company has an office in Wisconsin and he’s just a really good person. He’s the personification of the term ‘southern gentleman’ and he brought his wife up to see Milwaukee. He’s a class act.

The show was cancelled at Jokerz because of low turnout but that’s summer everywhere in the north. Rick was disappointed but I told him it’s very common and it is. The woman who runs the club is named Natalie and a total sweetheart and I’m sorry I can’t work there but I have to play politics. I know and like the owner of Giggles so I am loyal to him first.

That doesn’t mean I can’t visit and hang out and Natalie and the whole staff didn’t treat me badly at all. That’s how it should be but I’m not always used to that because of what’s gone down with the third club in town. I don’t even want to go down that road right now.

It would spoil the positive vibe with Rick and his wife who is also a sweetheart. We all went out to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and it was a delightful evening. I gave them a few tips on where to go and what to do when they were in town and for once I felt like I knew what I was talking about since Milwaukee is my home town. We had a blast.

Today was also the birthday of a few people I know. For whatever reason nine months ago today must have been rocking because there are multiple people born today. I am the birthday savant and for some reason I seem to remember people’s birthday. I try to always call or send an email because it feels good to have someone remember it’s your birthday.

One of the people who has a birthday today is Anna Davlantes from NBC 5 in Chicago. She is a reporter and part time anchor and I got to know her when I worked at the Loop. If I would have to pick one woman I’ve ever met who has it all it would be her. WOW what a package. She’s absolutely stunning to look at but that’s not everything. She’s very smart and funny and doesn’t have that heartless distant feeling many people in broadcasting are famous for. She has a soul and is a very warm person inside and I think the world of her. I had to call her on her birthday and she was flattered I remembered. How could I forget?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Max And My Money

Thursday July 24th, 2008 - Springfield, IL

Up at 2:30am to drive to Springfield, IL to be on WYMG with my old buddy Max from the Loop. Max’s partner is on vacation and he asked me to come down and hang out for a couple of days and do the show with him. I love to hang but there was an ulterior motive.

I needed to sign some papers in person at Max’s bank in the midget-tropolis Petersburg where he lives. It’s about 25 miles outside of Springfield and I don’t think there’s 1000 in the town. His wife is from there and his kids love it but if I had to live there I’d have to be sedated on a daily basis and even then it would be mere weeks before I’d munch a bullet.

This situation didn’t end up how I planned it but Max was in a pickle at the time and if I can help a friend in a time of need I’m all about that. I trust Max totally and I can’t say the same for very many others. It wasn’t a matter of trust with all this. It was just bad timing.

Originally the money was supposed to be freed up in a year. I put my life savings up for collateral so he could buy out his useless partner who was starting to be a major anchor of his business. He was a big time God Squad crusader too and they’re always the worst. It’s amazing how creeps like that can sit in church and pray but be such bastards in real life.

My father played that game to the hilt and I warned Max before he teamed up with Billy Graham Jr. but he still did it anyway. I can’t gloat because I teamed up with my own devil in disguise as my ex partner cleaned me out of all the comedy class money from Zanies. It hurts to think about it and he hadn’t done it when I loaned Max the cash but I still did it.

Life is short and it was a calculated risk and my calculations were wrong. The one year became two and now I just can’t wait any longer. I needed a chunk of it to pay the dentist and another chunk to pay my credit card down because I maxed it out trying to pay for my recent car nightmares. Things backed up and I was out of cash and I needed to clear it up.

I drove out to Petersburg and took care of the paperwork in about two minutes. I got my cashier’s check and drove back into Springfield thinking all the way of the best strategy to work my way out of this. I don’t think I’ll be getting the rest of it for at least a little while because Max had some problems at the store. He lost his electricity and inventory rotted.

His freezers were off for 18 hours and he lost ice cream and hamburger meat and he had to pay a deductible on his insurance policy that he didn’t expect. This all took some twists neither one of us expected but that’s how it turned out. Now I have to dig my way out of a tough situation and put Max in a tougher one than he already is in but what else can I do?

I have to survive and this is my only alternative right now. I will get some comedy work and keep slugging but right now I’m running pretty lean. It’s tough to stay thinking funny when things are like this but that’s the key to my sanity right now. I was going to use that money for Uranus Factory Outlet but that’s not going to work now. I guess I need to keep thinking and be patient and something else will come along to bail me out here. I need it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where's My Own Joan?

Wednesday July 23rd, 2008 - Chicago, IL

All kinds of stuff is starting to bubble again. I love that. I am getting calls for gigs and it feels good to get back in that groove again. I love to work and always have and any time I can get on stage in a good situation that’s what I want to do. Key words - ‘good situation’. It doesn’t do me any good to drive to Wyoming to work for 37 drunks who got in for free.

It’s about time to make my rounds again for the clubs I like. I already am set to return to Memphis in February and that will be a blast. It always is. I also heard from Tom Sobel as well. He owns the Comedy Caravan in Louisville where I recorded my CD and I have had fun every time I worked there too. He treats comics very well and that’s how it should be.

My friend Max called from Springfield and asked if I would sit in with him on his radio show the next two mornings. His partner is out and I always love to see Max so of course I said I would. He’s also arranged a meeting with the bank down there so I can work out a deal to get my life savings back that I loaned him for his ice cream shop. I really need it.

The highlight of my day by far was an email I received totally out of the blue from Joan Dangerfield, Rodney’s widow. She told me that she is aware of my blog and enjoys it that I mention Rodney in it. She also told me Rodney did a character called Mr. Lucky on one of his network TV specials back in the ‘80s with Bill Murray. I totally wasn’t aware of it.

What a nice thing for her to do though. It made my whole month. It was because of her I got to meet Rodney in person when I lived in Salt Lake City. She’s from Utah and when it came time to set up a radio interview she initially said Rodney didn’t do radio but when it came out that I was a comedian and Rodney was my hero she made sure we got to do it.

Whether she reads anything else I write or not Rodney is STILL my comedy hero and he always will be. Like George Clinton, Rodney and I bonded on several levels. Not only did his comedy style match mine he also had to fight the depression dragon like I do. Rodney rose above it and dedicated his life to making others feel better and that’s what I want too.

I’ll never forget the phone conversation I had with him when we did the radio interview in Salt Lake City. I know a lot of things about his career because I study comedy and that impressed him. We stayed on the phone for quite a while and exchanged names of people we both knew. There weren’t all that many but there were a few and that helped us bond.

What really put it over the top was when I told him how much I loved his movie ‘Easy Money’. I wasn’t lying either, I really do. For some reason that character he played was as funny as I’ve ever seen and Joe Pesci was in it too. My friend Mark Shilobrit and I still do lines from that movie when we see each other and it still cracks us up. Rodney loved that.

Getting my chance to meet Rodney in person will be one of my all time life highlights. It was only for a few minutes after his show but he remembered me from the phone and I could see his eyes light up when Joan told him who I was. That was an electric moment.

We talked for a few minutes and I made him laugh. That’s a feeling I can’t put into any form of language. Making Rodney laugh is like scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Not everyone gets a chance to do it but if it happens it’s a lifetime memory. And that was.

The only downer about the experience was that the person from the radio station didn’t tell me until we were driving home that the camera he used to take our picture didn’t have any batteries in it and there was no picture. I was SO crushed. Nobody will ever see how I got to meet my hero. I’ll have to take that memory to the next world all by myself. Arrgh.

I’ve said it before but I’m Rodney’s comedy pedigree. I don’t do his jokes but I have his DNA in my style. Lots of comics come from someone else but I’m totally from Rodney. I used to cringe when someone would say ‘You remind me of a young Rodney Dangerfield for some reason’ but now I understand that it’s the biggest compliment I can ever receive.

I hear that very often too. Even in the most horrific drunken hell hole someone seems to always have to find me and tell me that. I guess it means he’s the closest thing they know of that I remind them of. I try to be myself and I am but it reminds the public of Rodney.

I have no idea why Joan chose yesterday to send me that email but I’m very glad she did because it really came at a good time. It validates me in my struggles and tells me I might be on the right path after all. Sometimes I have no idea if anything I’m doing is working.

If I can be this generation’s Rodney Dangerfield I won’t be upset about it at all. I will be honored to carry that torch and I’ll carry it proudly. Rodney was the hope for the struggler and the release valve for the pressures of those who needed it. The people who liked what he did LOVED him and he was revered both by his fans and by comedians from all over.

In wrestling Buddy Rogers was known as the Nature Boy. He was a huge star and then a young punk named Ric Flair came along and he called himself the Nature Boy too. He did it his own way and was a superstar in his own right but his pedigree goes back to Rogers.

If I can take Rodney’s hard luck character DNA and build my own fan base for a whole new generation I don’t think he’d mind. I doubt if anyone will ever reach the total level of success that he did but I’d sure love to try. If I ever get it I won’t deny his direct influence.

One thing I definitely noticed about Rodney and Joan was that they really did appear to love each other. I didn’t get to know them very well but all the dealings I had and in every story I’ve ever read about them they really did seem like they had a very healthy marriage.

On paper it would seem like anything but that. Rodney was older and very successful so who wouldn’t want a much younger blonde stunner on his arm as eye candy? Of course. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did but I didn’t get that impression at all as I met them.

Maybe there’s a future Joan Dangerfield type out there for me. Smart, funny, gorgeous and rich. Hey, I have to leave my fortune to someone. Right? Oh, I have to make one first.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

George Clinton's Birthday

Tuesday July 22nd, 2008 - Chicago, IL

What has rainbow colored hair, never stops touring the world and has my total respect and lifelong admiration? It’s ‘Dr. Funkenstein’ George Clinton and today is his birthday. I have always loved George’s music but what I really am interested in is his creative vibe.

Depending on what biography one reads he was born in either 1940 or 1941. Either way at the very least it makes him 67 years old and he’s still out there touring with a band that can still ‘tear the roof off the sucker’ like one of the titles of his songs says. He’s the man.

Getting to meet George in person last year was still one of the greatest thrills of my life. It was even more thrilling to have bonded with him immediately and felt a connection on a creative level. I know nothing about music and he’s not a comedian but creativity is the product of intelligence and for whatever reason we seem to be on a similar creative vibe.

Today is the 22nd of the month and allegedly that’s a big day in numerology. I am not as versed in that as I should be but I’ve read a little on it and heard radio interviews about it and the 11th and 22nd are ‘power numbers’ apparently and those with birthdays on that day are supposed to be very influential people of all kinds. George Clinton is definitely that.

Maybe there’s some truth to it. Rodney Dangerfield had a birthday on November 22nd and I can’t think of two more influential people than a Rodney Dangerfield and a George Clinton. Countless idiots have tried to follow in both their footsteps and I’m one of them.

I don’t think I have the influential power of either one of those guys but I sure did relate to them on a professional level. Rodney was my all time favorite comedian and he was an astute business man and entrepreneur but not like George. George is in a class by himself.

In his heyday in the ‘70s George managed to get record deals with several companies to record many of the same people but under different names. His musical brilliance is great but to couple that with the business smarts puts him above almost anyone else. I think he is even more amazing to still be out there touring at this age and he’s no has been either. I still enjoy seeing him work and I hope to do it again this weekend if I get a chance to go.

He’s performing at the Cubby Bear in Chicago and I’ve seen him there before. It’s not a huge venue but the boys still put on a great show and if I can free up my night I will travel into the city to see it. I also hope to bring James Wesley Jackson with me because he used to travel with them back in the day. I’d love to get a picture with James, George and me.

Even if I don’t I can still learn from how George built his empire. He was in charge and even though not everyone always got along with him nobody doubted who was the one in the driver’s seat. Good or bad, right or wrong George was the one pulling all the strings. I really think that’s the way to do it and it’s worked for him for over 50 years. He’s still out there slugging and still running the show. I hope to build my own comedy empire just like he did and get the best people available to work together and build a strong creative team.

A Pleasant Surprise

Monday July 21st, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Speak of the devil. I went to my post office box in Chicago today and surprise surprise! There was my check from Topeka. I couldn’t believe it. Just when I had given up all hope there it was. I looked at the envelope and started laughing and everyone in the UPS Store looked at me like I was nuts. I guess I am. I keep thinking I know what’s going to happen.

This whole situation was totally unnecessary in my opinion. If the bouncers would have shut the table of frat boys up I could have finished my show and this wouldn’t be an issue at all. Instead it caused pain and frustration and in the end I am still screwed out of $375.

I am a man of my word and I will send the booker his full commission. In all likelihood I won’t be working much if any for him at this point and I know for sure I won’t be going back to Topeka. The bridge is burned and that’s too bad. I had some decent shows there.

It’s also close to Kansas City and I like working that town too. It never hurts to have an extra gig added on to pay for gas money or a plane ticket and Topeka is a prime example. After today’s surprise I guess I’ll never say never but it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever go back. I thought about what my mistakes were and how I could have avoided them to begin with.

The first thing is I should have not taken the gig in the first place. At this point I should be working better venues but for whatever reason I’m not and this gig was offered to me. I took it so there goes that defense. Nobody forced me to go. I accepted it of my own will.

The second thing is I should have shut the table up before I got on stage. They were not quiet for the opener either and to make it worse there was a break between acts and that’s the time when the waitress brought even more liquor to the group who was drunk already.

The third thing is I could have just stood up there and done my time. They were all loud and obnoxious and I let them get to me but I didn’t think it was fair for everyone else that came to the show but in retrospect they were idiots too. That was just a bad mix of people in one place and it happened to be at my show. If I really wanted to I could have gone on.

But I didn’t want to badly enough I guess. I wanted to give the people a show but I had to deal with those halfwits early on and I just decided it would be better to walk so I’d not put myself in a position to say or do something I’d be REALLY sorry for later. This was a stupid enough mistake as it was so staying longer might have really put me in a bad spot.

This whole thing has been a big lesson to me. I wish it wouldn’t have happened but I’m not able to promise I wouldn’t do the same thing again. I’ve really had it with drunks and I just don’t want to fight them anymore. I want to find the people who will enjoy my act.

I’ve found there are quite a few of them too. There weren’t many on that one particular evening in Topeka but that doesn’t mean I will never go back to Topeka. I just doubt it’ll be at the place in question. This was a long way to go to find that out. I need better gigs.

I’ll work on that along with everything else I’ve got going but for now I have to put this in the history book. I got half my originally agreed upon money and I’m going to still pay my full commission to the booker out of respect and good karma. I don’t want to be a jerk and stiff the guy because I like him personally and we share a birthday too. I’ll pay him.

But as soon as I drop the envelope in the mailbox tomorrow it’s OVER in my mind. I’m not going to get rich doing weekends for drunken frat boys in Topeka, KS. I live in a very big city and am on the radio here and I need to find a way to make that pay off financially.

This morning was our big one hour Jerry’s Kidder’s special show ‘Barack-No-Phobia’. We had a video recording made while we were doing it and it actually turned out to be an exciting experience. We were doing it live without a net and I love the feeling of pressure in a situation like that. There’s no safety net and we could all make a mistake at any time.

Nobody blew it today. This could have been really ugly but it wasn’t at all. We worked well as a team but this was Jerry and Tim Slagle’s baby. They are the most political of us and I for one don’t really care either way. I’m not thrilled about Obama or McCain so for me it was just another week. I added a few things when I could but mainly just sat back.

I had a few lines here and there but I knew this wasn’t my thing so I didn’t force myself on anyone. That’s how I would want it if I had a creative vision on a project and I figured Tim and Jerry knew where they wanted to go and they did. I thought it came of very well.

Tonight I hosted the rising star showcase at Zanies as I usually do. A comic named Clay Miles from the D.C. area flew in and I picked him up at the airport. When I was in D.C. at a club called Wiseacres Clay and the booker Mike Diesel were very kind to me. My other friend from Milwaukee Jerry Thomas lives out there too and all of them treated me well.

I thought it was only fair that I return the favor so I told Clay I’d pick him up. I only had one problem - I went to the wrong airport. I’d ASSUMED he was flying into O’Hare but I found out right as I left home it was Midway which is way across town from me. I should have checked closer but I didn’t and all I could do was tell him I would be a little bit late.

Actually it wasn’t that bad. We hung out for a while and had a Chicago hot dog because he’d never been to Chicago before. We went to Portillo’s which I think is by far the best. I respect how hard that guy worked and he started with one little hut and has worked up to having about 40 stores all over Chicago. That guy is an example of the American dream.

Clay had a very strong set and I think he’ll get some work from Zanies. I’m glad I had a small hand in it and after the show I drove him back to the airport. On the way he told me one of the most disturbing things I’ve heard in many years. It was a major wake up call.

He told me the manager of the D.C. Improv club said ‘If you’re 35 and not a star in the comedy business by then…it’s OVER. Get out now.’ That chilled me to hear it and I have heard the warning. No more Topekas. No more BS. I need to make my move but quick.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Batman Radio

Sunday July 20th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI

Another dose of the Batman today. That was the theme of our show on the Mothership Connection tonight on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha. It’s not really a paranormal topic but everyone and their grandmother is talking about it so why let that opportunity pass us by?

It doesn’t really matter what we talk about actually because I doubt if anyone’s listening to us. Yeah, it’s a real radio station and all that but the truth is we’re probably just talking to ourselves for two hours. This is practice and I knew it when I took on the challenge but that’s how a show develops. It’s like open mike nights in comedy. This is very important.

Tonight was our first ‘theme’ show. In the past we’ve just put anyone we could find that was willing to talk on the phone on the air and we’ve done ok with it. We’ve had several very interesting guests and even though we were just winging it we pulled off good radio.

It’s starting to fall together and there were a lot of positives tonight. First, Scott Markus my regular co-host is really doing a fantastic job. He’s excellent on the air and really gets the concept of how to keep the show moving and keep it interesting. He arranges many of the guests and he also created our website for the show. It’s

I wouldn’t have been able to do that and he’s really into the whole concept of this thing so that’s one less problem I have to worry about each week. We’ve been communicating very well and adding things every week. I can see this show growing by leaps and bounds in a relatively short time and that could be good for everybody. Plus we’re all having fun.

My friend Gary Pansch is also a regular contributor and part time co-host. He has a job on Sunday nights and can’t come in every week but once a month he can and tonight was it. He came up with a great idea to do a weekly ‘Mothership Hall Of Fame’ feature that he started tonight that’s very well prepared and smooth. There’s another piece of the puzzle.

He spotlights a random nut bag and does some background on that person. It could be a local person or a national figure or someone living or dead. If we can keep up this kind of growth we’ll have something we can hopefully get paid for at some point. That’s the idea.

Gary and I saw the Bat-movie before the show because he hadn’t seen it yet. I loved it the first time and didn’t mind at all sitting through it again. I caught a few things I hadn’t seen the first time most notably the sign on the semi trailer truck the Joker flipped over.

It had ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ printed on the side of the trailer but someone had spray painted an ‘S’ in front of ‘laughter’ to make it ‘Slaughter’. Very clever and I missed it the first time. It fit in perfectly as the Joker was shooting his bazooka at people. Subtle.

Scott brought in a couple of guests that talked about comic books and role playing game geeks and it all tied in really well. I had my friends Michael Alexander and Joey Callahan call in who are both comedians but also big Batman geeks and it all fit together perfectly.

I think I’ve really found out what the true secret to life’s success is and that’s having the right connections. That’s probably not a big revelation but I thought of it today as all of it came together on the air. Indirectly I’m the one who made it happen and I love the results.

There was a fun vibe in the room and we had callers who contributed and the two hours went by so fast I couldn’t believe it. I was the one who put this idea out there and we tried some different things but in the end we pulled off a fun program. The guests all loved it. I felt the positive vibe as we walked out of the station and it felt great to be the leader of it.

It’s the same thing on WLS on Mondays. Yes it’s Jerry’s show but he will admit that he came up with our segment so he could have me on the air because he believes I can add to his show. I helped pick the other comedians and as we got started I was the main one who acted as the go-between between the comics and Jerry. Now we’re gelling well as a team.

I don’t do all the jokes nor do I claim to take credit for it but I am the leader of the bit as it happens in the studio and I direct the segment. Even if that means pointing to one of the other guys who has his hand up at least there’s a point of focus that we can all agree on. It helps us to avoid talking over each other and it just feels right all around. I love that role.

It’s on a much smaller scale of what George Clinton does during a live show. He is who everyone watches for the lead and it starts with him. I feel very comfortable with that role on both of the radio shows and I will do exactly the same for Uranus Factory Outlet. It’s a matter of knowing who has the hot hand and dishing it off to them when they do. I love it.

George Clinton said in an interview that his only real talent was being able to take all of the craziest people in the music business and get their absolute best when nobody else had a clue of how to do it. I feel the same way. I can get the best out of other people’s talents.

Now I need to find a way to turn a buck with all this. Maybe that’s the part that causes a problem but we all need to eat. Nobody is getting paid for either of the radio shows so we all show up just for the fun of it. For now. If and when money is involved there may be an ulterior motive for some people. For now we’re all just having fun and I’m enjoying that.

Yesterday I got to hang out with Kipper McGee in downtown Chicago. We intended on going up to Milwaukee to see our friend Pat Martin’s daughter get married but traffic was so heavy and it was raining so we had no chance of making it on time. We called Pat with the news and he didn’t seem too pleased but I heard from him today and he wasn’t angry.
Pat was the guy who got me started in radio. He was also very instrumental with getting Kipper’s career going too so we both really appreciate Pat. He’s a great guy but not one of the bigwigs in radio and he’s struggling along like everyone else. Still he’s a giving soul.
These are the kinds of people I want to and have surrounded myself with in life. Kipper is a huge supporter of Jerry’s Kidders and Jerry lets us on the air every week too. I have a bunch of great friends I cherish very much and there are indeed good people in this world.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Club Most Club Owners

Saturday July 19thth, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Still catching up from yesterday’s Batman binge. After seeing that midnight showing of the movie I drove Jerry into the city to WLS. I had told him I would because I intended on continuing on to Shelbyville, IL to do a gig but plans changed. The opener and I live close to each other and with gas prices it wasn’t smart to drive separately so we split expenses.

Jerry would have had to catch the train and he hadn’t planned on that so I didn’t want to put him in a spot so I just drove him in like I said I would. It was 4:30am by the time I got there but that’s the best time to be in the city. I dropped him off and went to get my mail.

STILL no check from Topeka and that infuriates me. I thought we had an agreement for a peaceful settlement to a bothersome problem that shouldn’t have been a problem at all. I tried my best to be an adult and a professional and speak softly but in the end I’m still out. The club owner is being nothing short of a bitch about this and it’s a total lack of respect.

If I owed that pinhead fifty cents he’d sue me or have me banned from working there or who knows what kind of hell I’d have to pay. The booker would be all over me to get him paid off and I’d be barred from getting work until I cleared it up. When it’s me he doesn’t care at all and even though I told him I’d send him his commission I’m still out of luck.

This is the kind of petty insanity that makes big stars order the bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed. It’s maddening to have to keep after this weeks and months after it was an unnecessary distraction in the first place. I highly doubt I’ll ever get my money. If I keep pestering the booker about it that will be a sorer spot than it already is. This sucks.

If I take the maggot in Topeka to small claims court I’ll have a hassle and an expense of filing the paperwork and all of that is nothing I really want to do. Who does? Just pay me. I did the work and I even negotiated a deal where I wasn’t even asking to be paid for what turned out to be the issue at question. I just wanted my money for the show that went fine.

This is a very dangerous area for me. In the past I’ve done stupid things like send a club owner that had a heart attack a mail package that included a tub of Crisco, sausage gravy, Cheese Whiz, a pound of bacon and a jar of Miracle Whip. When I had my car accident in 1993 he had a ‘benefit’ for me and kept all the door donation money. That was my retort.

Was it funny? Sure. To the comedians I was a hero because that fat bag of pus had done a lot of underhanded things to a lot of people but I stood up to him and didn’t take it. I did send a message but I never did get my money. To this day he owes me $400 and it stinks.

Again, I tried to reason with that imbecile just like this one. He blew me off because the majority of other comedians will take stuff like that because they don’t want to lose work. I get that concept because work is limited but I don’t get how the majority of club owners sleep at night. This is just plain THEFT and if this was the Mafia they’d both get wacked. I’m glad I’m not in the Mafia because I’d have to take out a second hit and still be stiffed.

Anyone would be angry if this happened to them and I’m no exception. This is NOT the error of a well intended but absent minded accountant. This is flat out disrespect. This is a classic case of ‘Oh YEAH? So sue me.’ They seem to enjoy thumbing their noses at us. It goes on way too often and makes being in business not fun. These people are not ethical.

But somehow they still stay in business. That black hearted oaf in Milwaukee still has a club and our little incident happened back in 1994. He has a legendary reputation of being a selfish lout and screwing people over and bouncing checks on comedians but there’s an endless supply of people who are willing to work there and that cycle of abuse lives on.

I for one think my dignity and self respect are worth more than working for weenies like that but they still owe me money for shows that I did. It’s ‘only’ $375 in Topeka and $400 in Milwaukee but ‘only’ is a relative term. If they were owed that by me it would be a war but since I am owed by them it’s ‘only’ $400. ‘Why can’t you just let it go?’ Could YOU?

I can really use all of that money right now. Every single penny. I have two root canals I need to pay for for one and for another thing I earned the money. I did the shows and they were able to sell drinks while I did them so they have already been paid. I want my money and it’s now to the point where if I saw either one of those idiots I’d just start punching.

Business is not pleasant when it boils down to this. I have to believe small claims court is full of way more petty things than this but I can see why. There’s so much emotion that goes with it. This isn’t always about just the money. Respecting people is part of it too. It all boils down to the Golden Rule. No matter anyone’s religion that is THE best rule ever.

I always try to live by it and I sometimes fail but when I do I attempt to make it right. It wouldn’t have come to this point if it were me on the other side because I’d have handled it a lot differently. These two lowlife scumbags think they’re above the Golden Rule. NO.

I can’t make either one of them pay me. Having this Topeka trouble reminds me of that selfish soup head in Milwaukee and brings all that back up my mental drain pipe again. I try to forget about it but I can’t. Do I wish bad things on those people? Hmm. That’s very hard to say. To be honest if fat boy in Milwaukee had another heart attack I wouldn’t cry.

But wishing it on him is not what I’m about. All I wanted in the first place was to make all the customers laugh and get paid what we’d agreed on. THAT is my focus and taking time to waste energy wishing bad things on bad people doesn’t do anything to make me a better person. I don’t want to be around that kind of vibe but I do still want to get my pay.

I am washing my hands of this Topeka incident because I don’t see any positive energy coming out of it. I made my case and thought we had a deal negotiated but now it’s being ignored. I am a man of my word and if it had been me I’d have written the check quickly.

This is all a lesson for me as I move ahead with my Uranus Factory Outlet business. I am sure more incidents over money will occur and I intend to operate on an honest basis for my part of the business but I know not everyone else will follow suit. This is my warning.

On The Batwagon

Friday July 18th, 2008 - Cary, IL

Normally I won’t jump on the pop culture bandwagon but tonight I made an exception. The new Batman movie is one of the biggest in years and I went to the midnight showing with Jerry Agar and his two sons and one of their friends. I’m glad I did. It was fantastic.

The last movie event I can remember that was this big was the Lord Of The Rings piece of flaming poo that I had to sit through and waste three hours of my life I’ll never recover. I didn’t find anything redeemable about that one at all and when it was over I leaned over to tell the person next to me how horrible I thought it was and the crowd started clapping.

This was a whole different story. I felt the buzz beforehand and it was a fun experience even though there was a delay in the actual start time. It was supposed to start at 12:01am but for whatever reason it was delayed. They showed the previews and then it appeared as if something broke and we all sat there looking at a blank dark screen for several minutes.

I can usually crack off some good lines in these situations and get laughs from the seats surrounding me but nobody was laughing tonight. They were concerned they wouldn’t get to see the movie. We sat there a few minutes longer and then they showed more previews.

I noticed when we walked in the theatre that is was theatre #13. Plus there was a big old full moon in the sky as we drove to the theatre from Jerry’s house and I couldn’t stop my laughter as I thought of how only Mr. Lucky could go to a premiere and miss the movie.

Finally the movie started about 12:30 and it was really worth the wait. I like Batman but I’m not a fanatic about it even though I did paint several cars I owned like the Batmobile I used to see on the TV series. I never really read the comic books more than casually but it was still a great movie and I had fun being part of the event. People came in full costume.

This was based on the Dark Knight comics which my cousin Jef Parker tried to coax me to read when he owned his comic book shops before he died in 2001. One of the precious things buried along with him in his coffin was the Dark Knight series. He loved it that much. He always talked about how he wanted there to be a movie made and this was it.

He would have loved this movie. I sure did. It was filmed in Chicago and I could spot a whole lot of familiar locations throughout. I thought it moved along really well and Heath Ledger was outstanding as the Joker. What a great role and he’s sure to win that Oscar.

I talked to my friend Joey Callahan in Philadelphia today who’s not only a huge Batman fan but one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met and a funny comic too. He has been telling me for a long time how high the expectations for this were and he thought they nailed it.

What fun it must be to be part of a huge project like this. This is beyond a movie and it’s now pop culture. Everyone was buzzing about it on the way out and I’m sure it will make a ton of cash for a ton of people. I’m glad I went early. Now nobody can spoil it for me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Double Play Radio

Thursday July 17th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

fun today on two fronts. Drew Olson made the call to the bullpen and I drove up to Milwaukee to be on my favorite show ‘The D List’ on ESPN Radio 540. I love talking about Wisconsin sports because that’s where I grew up. My memories are vivid and deep and I’ve got a lifetime of knowledge to add to the show. Plus I love to hang with the guys.

Brett Favre was obviously the main topic of conversation and I let loose with a heaping helping of the heartfelt hammer I hit him with yesterday. I raised a few eyebrows with the guys but nobody really disagreed with me and that started people calling up to comment.

I really fit in with those guys and I love to hang on the air. Drew is an excellent host and Dan Needles from Channel 12 really knows his stuff. Sometimes Dan is the one I’ll fill in for but today it was Bill Johnson the program director. He’s a good guy too and no matter who it is I still like sitting in. Sometimes I even show up and sit in when they’re all there.

We had a special guest named Jason Wilde on the show today and he’s a sportswriter in Green Bay and covers the Packers. He had inside information and I felt like I had a seat in the press box to get all the inside scoops. Normally it’s fun to be on but today it was extra good because the energy was electric. This is a hot story and I felt the buzz all around it.

I got home and saw that I got some comedy bookings for both October of this year and February of next year. Both are upper quality bookings and that made me feel good. I will hopefully keep that trend going and be able to work on Uranus Factory Outlet as I travel. I intend to use road media to promote my business on radio and TV and sell some product.

The second wave of radio fun came when Jerry Agar sent me an email of a column that talked about how no comedians want to poke fun at Barack Obama. He asked if I thought we could do a Jerry’s Kidders segment that ONLY poked fun at him and I flinched at first but then I thought about it and said I’d be up for giving it a shot. Jerry wants us to do this.

He ran it past the program director Kipper McGee and Kipper LOVED it and wants it to be an hour segment. We usually get a half hour but this is something they both think is an opportunity to make some noise and get some attention. If they want to try it I’ll pitch in.

This really isn’t my field of expertise and never was. Politics doesn’t really do anything for me and I rarely if ever talk about it on stage. On the other hand sports IS my thing and I rarely if ever talk about that on stage either. I guess I just never wanted to go in either of those directions. It’s like a band deciding to use or not use a ukulele or tuba. It’s a choice.

I do know how to write jokes though and I know I can add something to the mix. I think the big reason why nobody jokes about him is because he’s black. Period. There’s just SO much tension about race that comedians of all kinds don’t want to go near this one. He’s a political candidate and every one of those deserves to be made fun of. I would let it rip on McCain just as hard - and we might very soon. For this week it’s ‘Barack ToThe Future‘.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fed Up With Favre

Wednesday July 16th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Brett Favre can kiss my pasty white buttocks. On second thought, no he can’t. That ugly stubble on his mouth would feel like steel wool. Who does he think he is anyway? He has totally worn out his welcome with me and I’ve been a Packer fan my whole life. Even I’m getting sick of hearing about this every time I turn on a radio, TV or computer. Enough!

He said, she said, they said, I heard, we heard, blah blah blah. It all makes me puke. I’ve got my own problems to work out and I don’t need to hear about a $100 million hillbilly’s perceived lack of respect. He had the worship of an entire state for 16 years and if he isn’t satisfied with that then I guess he can stay in Mississippi and mow his lawn and just pout.

It blows my mind how much press this is getting but it’s everywhere. Yes he was a very important part of the team and one of the greatest players to ever play football but I don’t think that’s a reason to behave like he has. It’s only a game but he’s making it out to be a matter of life and death and the whole thing is turning me off. I wish he would go away.

Yes I love it when the Packers win and he was a big part of that for many years but who says any one person is bigger than an organization? This is a great lesson for me because I see just how quickly a relationship can go south. I’m not the only one who feels the way I do and it’s polarizing a lot of people. There are proper ways to do things and ways not to.

I think he looks like a selfish ass. ‘I want to play.’ Hey, I wanted to play too but I wasn’t good enough. He was and maybe still is but then he shouldn’t have retired. Whatever it is I’m sick of hearing it and I turned off my TV and radio today and focused on my work.

That’s the best thing I could have done and I made some solid progress. My emails have been stacking up again but today I chopped them down significantly once more. It’s a big relief to do that and at least I got it down to being manageable. Motion is always good for creating more motion and I didn’t stop there. I started working on a lot of paperwork too.

I’m reworking my comedy classes once again and I will start teaching in the fall. I don’t intend to let a few backstabbing ex associates stop me from doing what I’ve spent a lot of years perfecting and I feel good that I spent time planning it out today. I feel rejuvenated.

I also started to make a ‘to do’ list which I haven’t had in a while. I’ve had a list before but this one is much more detailed. I broke my life down into the projects I really want to work on and made some notes as to what I need to do to keep a steady progress going. It’s well thought out and I spent several hours today working on it and getting it exactly right.

I also got word from the auction that my Toyota sold on Saturday. That’s great news in just the nick of time because I have car insurance due not to mention paying for repairing the Cadillac. This will help me get one step closer to keeping things more manageable in my life. Brett Favre has $100 million dollars or more to play with and I don’t. That’s how it is. I need to make my own fortune because he’ll never help me anyway. I’m ok with it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Clock Fighting

Tuesday July 15th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

July is half over and the clock keeps ticking. I wish I could make it stop for a while so I can get caught up with everything. Things get out of control and then it’s hard to have any kind of organization because things are piled up everywhere and it’s hard to manage it all.

I tried to have an objective eye as I looked at my life today and where I want to go in the future. It’s a constant battle with time management and there just aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish everything I want to do so things need to start getting cut. I need a plan that allows me to keep making constant improvement but also allows me to survive now.

This is a rough time for a lot of people. The economy is not looking good and no matter what anyone says it’s all about the money. Dreams are great but unless the bills are paid it doesn’t really matter. I have been chasing dreams for years and just barely squeaking by.

I want to oil up that squeak. I have a lot to learn about making money and especially the skill of what to do after I get it but at least I’m aware of it. I never really had a windfall to deal with other than the one year I worked at the Loop and I’m still living off that money.

Granted, I did some questionable things with it like buying sports cards and tin can cars from the auction but at least I had fun with it. If I get a serious windfall I won’t make that same mistake but I need to educate myself so I don’t. There’s just too much to focus on.

Good news from the mechanic today. I took the Cadillac Catera in to have him look at it a couple of weeks ago and he finally got to it. He said he looked it over today and it had a problem with one of the spark plug holes that wasn’t threaded properly and someone tried to redo it and did a bad job. He thought he could fix it and it shouldn’t be too expensive.

I felt a whole lot better about life when he said that. He asked what I wanted to do and I asked him if he thought it would last a year. He said he thought it would. That model has an aluminum engine block and that’s the reason I had the problem with the spark plugs. I should have researched this model before I bought it but I took a chance and got stung.

It could be a LOT worse though. That noise I heard driving it home was not funny and I thought I was in for a lot more trouble. I still could be but at least there’s a little hope now and I’ll take it. He said he can’t fix it for another week because he’s backed up at the shop and that’s totally ok with me. It gives me more time to get other things in life sorted out.

These are all things that take up lots of time and no wonder I’m as far behind as I am in just about everything. Things like this come out of the blue and have to be dealt with but I would rather be doing something else. Who the hell cares about fixing bad spark plugs?

I want to be performing and writing and making as many people laugh as I can. I need to get my priorities straight and use my time wisely. There is a limited amount of it and I’ve wasted enough over the years. Having a plan and working it is more important than ever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kudos For Cosby

Monday July 14th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Bill Cosby celebrated a birthday on July 12th and I know I’m a couple of days late but it still seems appropriate to write about how great I think he is. Of all the 20th century genre standup comedians I find it hard pressed to find anyone greater. He is up there with the all time greats and with the possible exception of Bob Hope I can’t think of a bigger success.

I am a huge fan of Bill Cosby and I can’t understand how anyone else isn’t. I understand that comedy is subjective but he is the one person who cuts through all classifications and is funny to the most amount of people. Young or old, white or black, city or country, he is thought of as funny or at least entertaining by the vast majority of groups. He’s a classic.

At one time or another I’ve been very fortunate and gotten to meet most of the greats of the comedy business in my lifetime. I’ve personally met Dangerfield, Pryor, Carlin, Leno, Seinfeld, Kinison, Hicks, Chapelle, Chris Rock, Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey and a whole lot more but Cosby is one I’d love to meet at some point. He’s one of the all time masters.

There are so many amazing things I respect about him I don’t know where to start. He’s still performing which is amazing in itself but also amazing is that he is still growing as a comedian. I saw him live only a couple of years ago and he did bits I’d never heard before and that totally impressed me. Even after all these years he is still working at his craft.

He turned 71 on Saturday and was born the same year as George Carlin. Carlin was one of the greats in his own right but Cosby probably made way more money. I don’t know it for a fact but he appeals to such a wide audience that I would think he’d be way ahead. If I am still doing comedy at 71 I’ll be in good company. Comedy does get better with age.

Today was yet another jam packed Monday. Jimmy McHugh joined us this morning on WLS while Ken Sevara was on the road doing a gig. Afterward we all walked over to the famous Billy Goat tavern for a ‘cheezborger’ and a ‘no Pepsi - Coke’. I hadn’t been over there for many years and it was especially fun to go back and experience it all over again.

Kipper McGee was able to join us as he sometimes does and I sat back and enjoyed the fact that I have known Kipper so many years and I hooked him up with Jerry a few years ago and then Kipper came to WLS and hired Jerry and now Jerry has the comedians in on Mondays and I had a hand in picking those guys too. I feel like I‘ve had a hand in all of it.

I like that feeling a lot. I don’t take credit for it other than I was able to hook people up who in turn work together well and fit in perfectly and I’m part of the mix. I love it more than anything I’ve ever done and reflecting on it made my cheezborger taste even better.

Tonight at Zanies was also fun. There were comics from all over the country and I was able to keep the show going and give them all pumped up intros and I enjoy it when their eyes light up as they hear me do it. It’s always nice to have a nice ego boost right before a set and if I can pump someone up I always try to do it. There were lots of positives today.

Meeting The Boomer

Sunday July 13th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Up early and up to Milwaukee today to set up at the Gonzaga Hall sports card show. It’s a once a month show and this is the slowest month of the year. I had a table today and had ZERO sales. Not one card. I could have been selling Mickey Mantle’s liver in a jar and no offers would have been made on it. I had a pretty bad spot too stuck way back in a corner.

I’m not complaining about it. I made the choice to do this. I have to pay my dues like all the dealers before me did and earn the right to turn a buck with the regulars. I’m not in the line of fire with them yet and it will take a while to get there even though I’ve been going to this show as a buyer for years. There aren’t enough people who are my customers yet.

Maybe I’ll never get there but that’s totally ok. This is a chance to test out any and all of my sales and marketing ideas for Uranus Factory Outlet. If I can sell THESE people I can sell the world. Milwaukee people are as cheap as they come and prying a buck loose is no easy feat. I have enough cheap cards to set up for the next few months and I will do that.

I need to get out there and test, test, test. That’s what mail order is all about and I know this isn’t mail order but it is a section of the public and I will take advantage of that. I will keep observing and seeing what sells and how the good dealers do it and learn a new craft that I can use to feed myself for many years. This is a new arena for me and I’m learning.

Actually I still had fun even though I didn’t sell a single thing. Most of the other guys in the room ate it too and I was at least near my friends Richard and Dennis. They both were teaching me the ins and outs of setting up at shows and I just shut up and let them tell me how they do it and I picked up little bits and pieces as they did. I am going to learn this.

Richard and Dennis and I are the same age and when we were kids growing up all three of us were big Milwaukee Brewer fans. One of if not THE biggest star on several of those teams in the 70s was a guy named George Scott. His nickname was ‘The Boomer’ and he was a big power hitting first baseman and a slick fielder too. He was my favorite player.

The Boomer was an autograph guest at Gonzaga Hall today and I got my chance to meet him in person. If you’d asked me as a kid to donate a lung for a chance to spend time with George Scott I’d have given up both of them and breathed through a straw. He was a huge star and an icon to Brewer fans. I remember he hit a home run the first game I ever saw.

They announced at the show he was in the back room signing and there was ‘no waiting at all’. I thought that was strange because this was the crowd that should have worshipped his memory like I did and even though the crowd was sparse it was the Boomer himself.

What a huge letdown it was to meet him in person. He’s 64 now and walks with a cane. He apparently is totally broke and goes around doing card shows whenever he can to get a little extra income coming in. He’s from Mississippi and has a restaurant but his family is involved and supposedly it loses money when he’s not there because they steal from him.

The whole story was pathetic and I heard about it from Leroy Kilps the guy who runs all the shows at Gonzaga Hall. He was saying how George was at a card shop signing not far from me in Waukegan yesterday and he was three hours late to that and today he charged a lot more than was advertised for his autograph so he could make a few more dollars.

I for one didn’t try to talk him down. He signed an 8x10 in his Brewer uniform the way I remembered him as a kid. I asked him to personalize it and he just wrote ‘Dobie’ under his name. Usually guys write ‘To Dobie: Good Luck’ or ‘Best Wishes’ or something like that but George didn’t seem to get that concept. He seemed to be out of it. I was uneasy.

I told him he was my favorite player and I wasn’t lying and I saw his eyes light up for a brief second. ‘Your favorite player, huh?’ ‘Yes sir.’ I said. ‘Of ALL time. NOBODY hit a tater like the Boomer.’ I saw his eyes drift off and then he came back and signed his name and that was it. I wanted to shake his hand but he didn’t seem to be in a handshake mood.

Here was a guy who had it all back in his day. He had Cadillacs and jewelry and was an all star and golden glove fielder and now he’s at Gonzaga Hall signing autographs to guys like me who remember how much we admired a guy like him. It was all a surreal picture.

I don’t think he made all that much money and on the way out he had to walk right past my table to get to his car. He had a cane and puffed at every step and stopped to rest right next to me. I tried to not notice him stooped over and out of breath and thanked him again for the autograph and wished him a safe trip home. I wish the guy well. He was my hero.

I watched Richard and Dennis watch the mighty Boomer hobble outside and all three of us talked about how sad an experience it was to watch that happen. He was someone that all of us grew up admiring and to see him now took a little piece of that memory away. It sure was a wakeup call for me to start being better with my money. I need an action plan.

There are no pensions in comedy. George Scott played 14 years in the big leagues and I have to think he gets some money from baseball somewhere. I don’t know how much it is and he’s obviously not handled his finances well but at least he has something coming in.

Nobody is going to pay me 20 years from now for jokes I told 20 years ago. I need to be smart and make myself some residual income so I’m not sitting in some funky gym years from now having some guy gawk at me saying ‘Hey, that’s Mr. Lucky. I used to listen to that guy on the radio. Wow, he sure has hit the skids.’ This was a big motivator for me.

Tonight we had a very good Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha. We are on at a much better time now and are getting a groove going with guests. I had a meeting for dinner with Gary Pansch and he’s going to contribute a weekly feature that will be good.

The best way to work through my rough spot is to keep busy doing things I love to do. I am doing exactly that and we’ll see how I can parlay that into some financial security. I’d feel a whole lot better if I had some money in the bank so I don‘t end up like the Boomer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thanks Willie

Saturday July 12th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

More needles today. Big needles. Sharp needles. Big sharp PAINFUL needles. A whole bunch of them. Right in my mouth…along with that infamous line ‘This may be just a bit uncomfortable.’ Uh huh. A bit uncomfortable. And Hitler was just a bit cranky. Exactly.

Dental pain has a classification all to itself. I’ve had all kinds of it in my life but today’s dose was as bad as I’ve ever felt it. There was drilling and grinding and scraping and it all was being paid for by me which even made it worse. I had the same guy that did the work last week but he wasn’t in as good a mood or something and today‘s session was harder.

Maybe because it was a back tooth or whatever the reason but this was just pure torture the whole time. He put a rubber chunk in my jaw to prop my mouth open and I felt like it was going to rip my lower jaw right out by the roots. He didn’t ask me if it was painful or not and just started grinding away. I was powerless as I just laid there and had to take it.

This is going to be a huge financial burden and I totally didn’t expect it. How to pay for it will come later. For now my mouth still hurts and I couldn’t eat anything all day. I tried to hit the Chinese buffet on the way home but my mouth was still frozen and I had a very hard time chewing anything. It was a funny situation for a movie scene but that’s about it.

Nothing has been very funny to me lately and usually I can find the humor in just about every situation. I’m just sick of everything and it seems like every direction I turn has one more booby trap I have to try and disarm. I’m not having very good luck with any of them and there are all kinds of explosions going off in every direction. This is a rough stretch.

A little encouragement would really be nice right now. My self esteem is in the toilet. If there was ever a time I needed a boost it’s now. I don’t feel any love from God and all the way down from there. I really could use a hug from someone or just a sign that says I will figure this out and have some good things happen at some point. It sure looks bleak now.

I did get a very nice email from a guy named Willie. He said he just stumbled upon this diary and has been following it. He called me ‘resilient and resourceful’ and that made me feel great to read those words from a total stranger. I sure do appreciate it. Thanks Willie!

Hopefully I can touch a lot of Willies in the world with this daily rambling. That’s a big reason of why I do it. I hope to inspire someone else to chase a dream somewhere. I didn’t come from the greatest circumstances and it really is a miracle that I made it this far but it sure isn’t getting any easier lately and I am having all kinds of things explode in my face.

Part of me wants to just lay down and die tonight. If I could turn my life over to anyone who is dying of cancer and has a family that loves them and wants to spend some time I’d gladly do it right now and just hop out of this world and hope the next one is a lot more to my liking. I wish life was like an Etch-A-Sketch and I could turn mine over and shake the past out and start over again. But I can’t. My mouth hurts but my soul hurts a LOT more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

R.I.P. Mike Irwin

Friday July 11th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Very sad news today. I received an email saying a comedian friend of mine Mike Irwin passed away. I knew Mike when I first moved to Chicago in the 80s. He was a few years older than me but always very friendly. He loved sports like I do and we bonded with that and comedy too. Mike was a great hustler and I mean that in a good way. He worked it.

Mike was a heavy set blond haired guy and looked more like John Candy than John did. He used to dress up in a cape and paint his face blue and go to Cubs games as ‘Ultra Fan’ or ‘Super Fan’ or some kind of a gimmick name he came up with. He started to get on TV a lot and that’s when the team put the kibosh on it. They didn’t like the attention he got.

He didn’t give up though. He was always trying some kind of angle and I respect him as much as any comic I’ve ever met for doing that. He had an old Checker cab he bought for road gigs and that became his signature car. He always had a flair for marketing himself.

One of his funniest bits was a character he did called ‘Coach’. It was a parody of an old time football coach giving a pep talk at halftime and it was hilarious. He would say funny and outlandish things and then say ‘Right team?’ The audience would then answer ‘Right Coach!’ It was one of my favorite comedy bits of all time and he really brought it to life.

I got to know Mike pretty well when he was in Chicago. He was also a dented can like most of us are and he opened up a little after we got to know each other. He just wanted a happy life and to hear the laughter and he really did give his all as long as I knew him. He moved out east and I hadn’t seen him for a while but I heard he was teaching classes too.

There’s a guy I’d gladly have shared anything I had with but he never asked. He heard I was teaching in Chicago and he asked if I minded if he did it out east and of course I was fine with it. Mike was a good soul while these other heathen bastards here are scumbags.

This is not a day to focus on the scumbags though. They’ve got their own things they’ve got to answer for some day. Mike Irwin has nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever and I’m sure wherever he is right now he is being welcomed with open arms and he deserves it.

What was really sad was I read he had cancer. It was discovered in his jaw of all places and by the time they discovered it it was already stage 4. Apparently he was in a whole lot of pain and that just rips me apart. He never spent his life doing anything other than trying to RELIEVE people’s pain. It seems so unfair that he would have to suffer even one bit.

I don’t understand this stupid planet and how it works and I never did. I have only very positive memories of Mike Irwin and I was and am saddened still to hear of his passing. It doesn’t seem fair because I don’t think he’s much over 50 if anything at all. It just stinks.

I did manage to get some work done today but none of it seems important right now. I’ll talk about it tomorrow. Maybe. This is a day to reflect on the positive life of Mike Irwin.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Damage Control

Thursday July 10th, 2008 - Waukegan, IL/Kenosha, WI

I didn’t do all that much today but hopefully that’s about to change. I needed a day to be alone with my thoughts and a lot of thoughts they were. I’m at a real crossroads in my life right now and I don’t want to blow my opportunities like I’ve done so many times before.

I did some running around today but nothing strenuous. I stopped at my favorite joint to eat breakfast but the waitress I like was off. She hasn’t been there the last couple of times I stopped so maybe she quit or something but at least I stopped and tried. Grub was good as usual so it wasn’t a total loss. I do like that waitress though and would love to date her.

Maybe I’ll get a chance, maybe I won’t. Today wasn’t a day to worry about that or any other thing I can’t control. I’ve been beaten up lately by a lot of things and I just allowed whatever situation was at hand to be what it was. Maybe I should be like that more often.

After breakfast it was over to the radio station to cut a promo for the Mothership show. I met the G.M. for the first time and he was pretty laid back. I saw some others I haven’t seen in a while because I am in there on Sundays and they were all very complimentary of the show and whether they’ve heard it or not doesn’t matter. They were all very friendly.

After that I headed down to the Waukegan Auto Auction to drop off the title so I could run the Toyota through the auction. Whether it gets sold or not will be seen but I did get a message to stop doing the auction for a while. I need to pick ONE car and just drive that.

One thing I did was measure how far I walked yesterday and was shocked to find out it was exactly seven miles. That’s pretty good but I sure feel it in my legs today. It hurts just to get in and out of a car but at least I had a seven mile hike to think about what to do for the next little while. I need to regroup and pick a plan and stick with it. I’m too scattered.

I received quite an email from my friend Max down in Springfield. Max really took out the red pen and let me have it point blank. He told me some straight up points that cleared my sinuses and then some and I thank him for it. He was right. He told me I shouldn’t get wrapped up in car auctions and baseball cards and go out and live what I was meant to be.

I’d never really heard it put that way and a lot of it was in my face and non sugar coated but many times that’s how I am with people. They can’t take it and I become a pariah. It’s not easy to receive a face full of raw unbridled truth but that‘s exactly what I got today.

One thing Max can help me do is get my life savings back a little earlier than I thought. I have it tied up until late September as collateral for his ice cream shop and deli at a bank down in his town but he thinks he can rework the funding so I can get it earlier. I need it.

That would be SO huge even though I’ll end up spending a major chunk of it on teeth or my credit card bill but at least I’ll be able to get to ground zero and start over again with a clean slate. There will be no more baseball card purchases or junk cars in the near future.

I did those things because I enjoyed them and in a way I still do but it’s totally not what I need to be doing if I want any kind of a life and big time career. If I hit something I’ll be able to trade Rolls Royces like baseball cards if I want to but I’m not sure if I really do.

I want to CREATE. Period. That’s what I really enjoy. I thought about it all day and the things Max said are totally true. I need to crank out as much product as I can either as my own standup comedy products or writing movie scripts or even teaching comedy classes. I also need to focus on what’s good rather than what’s going wrong. That’s not so easy.

What IS easy? Nothing worthwhile is ever is. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so off target. Am I farting around to avoid something I know I have the ability to do? Am I afraid of it? I don’t know exactly what it is but I do know that what I’ve been doing is not satisfying.

Not a lot of people can do what I do on stage and the older I get the more I see that. I’ve really put my time in to learn how to do it and the vast majority of those who see it have a very positive opinion of it so why am I wasting my time trying to be a small time wheeler dealer just like my father and grandfather were? I don’t know but I’m sure rethinking it.

I got home and popped in the movie Airplane! I hadn’t watched that movie in years but it was made by the Zucker brothers who are from Milwaukee. I figured they were able to escape there and make something of themselves so I wanted to start soaking myself in the vibe so I can do it too. I watched it with the commentary from them and it was interesting.

They were in their 20s at the time and they had to fight the studios and bring it in under budget and all those hurdles new talents have to go through but they did it and it was very successful. They parlayed that into everything else they did and I have nothing but respect for them and would love to meet them someday. I learned a lot by watching and listening.

Dick Chudnow is another guy from Milwaukee I respect. Dick worked with the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams but apparently had a falling out for whatever reason. It’s not at all any of my business what the reason was and I’m not implying anyone was right or wrong. I’ve had my own share of that stuff myself. I don’t know that story but I do know about Dick.

Dick Chudnow went on to be the founder of Comedysportz. I was starting as a standup right at that time and sat in on a couple of their first meetings. I had a clear shot to be an original member then and in hindsight I kind of wish I would have done it. Too late now.

I saw the concept he was doing and liked it but I also didn’t want to share the stage back then. I wanted to be a standup so I decided to take that road but I know I could have done both at that time. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Dick built that into a HUGE empire and he’s a brilliant marketer. He surrounded himself with talented people and I respect his vision.

The Zucker brothers are Hollywood stars. Dick Chudnow made the most of his situation and didn’t let their success stop him. He found his own thing and did it well. I’m now out floating in space and looking for my own thing to do well. I know it’s not at a car auction.