Friday, October 31, 2008

Stop The Christmas Music

Friday October 31st, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Wow, Halloween already. The year is basically over and ‘09 is on the horizon. I was in three or four places today where there was Christmas music playing and I swallowed hard and braced myself for two months of that unmerciful torture. Can’t they shoot Rudolph?

The weather today was spectacular. It was sunny and clear and I was in a great mood for most of the day until I started hearing Christmas music in the late afternoon. It seemed so out of place on such a beautiful day and Pavlovian reflexes kicked in and those memories I try to bury came flooding back anew. Who’s ever had a ride in a one horse open sleigh?

How about roasting a chestnut? Wouldn’t it set off a smoke alarm if someone did it on an open fire? I’d rather grill a steak instead and Jack Frost can nip at someone else’s nose. I’d rather stay inside and watch Sports Center. And name ONE ‘hall decker‘. You can‘t.

It doesn’t matter because they’re not going to stop pounding the piss out of those ditties just because I don’t want to hear them anymore. It goes with the season and I’m stuck for months whether I like it or not. I don’t. Dear Santa - STOP THE CAROLS. Love, Dobie.

On a good note I took today to get all my copies made for comedy classes. It used to be a mad rush the day of classes to get them printed and sometimes it would boil down to the last hour. My ex business partner was responsible for handling all the administrative stuff and the printing too and he often would wait until the last second to get to it. It was tense.

Since I’m starting over again I can do it my way and my way involves a tension free and relaxed atmosphere. I want to have fun teaching and focus on giving my students as much as they can hold. I want these classes to be packed with more than anyone ever expected.

Having to wait in line at Kinko’s behind some halfwit trying to make a dozen copies of his ass to send out as party invitations doesn’t put me in a good mood ten minutes before class. Showing up prepared and relaxed and ready to go makes me feel a whole lot better.

I’ve got enough copies for 40 one day seminar students and 40 beginner class first week lesson plans. I will not need that many right now but that’s ok. They’ll be paid for and all set for next year when hopefully I’ll need every one of them. But for now this is the most prepared I’ve ever been this early for any class I’ve ever taught. I’m SO ready to do this.

This is probably the most excited anyone has gotten over making a big pile of copies for a long time but it’s a lot more than that. I’m creating something from nothing and that’s a thing that never bores me. This one is especially sweet because I’m building back up what that rat bastard thief and his two monkeys tried to take from me. They can’t steal passion.

I’m getting better but I still have a long way to go. I have no idea who if anyone will be showing up to classes this next week but even if nobody does I’ll keep trying and regroup until next year when I’ll come back and try it again. At least I won’t have to make copies.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Showbiz Politics

Thursday October 30th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I’ve struggled with the politics of show business for years. I admit I am not very good at playing the game but I am getting better as I get older. Some people think playing politics is ‘kissing ass’ or ‘sucking up’ or ‘selling out’ but that’s not it at all. It’s a matter of being seen in a favorable way by as many people with power as possible. It’s a tricky endeavor.

Today I had a situation I thought was dead and gone pop back into the picture out of the blue and I played the politics correctly. I received an email from a booker telling me there was an opening at the Skyline Comedy CafĂ© in Appleton, WI. I have never worked at that club but I’ve always heard nothing but great things about it from the crowds to the staff.

The owners there apparently heard about my infamous ‘Crisco package’ I sent the bully club owner in Milwaukee years ago after he had a benefit show for me after my near fatal car accident and kept all the money. They were none too happy about it and decided that I would not get to work their club. Right or wrong that was their decision and I accepted it.

I didn’t LIKE it, but I accepted it. It’s their club and they call the shots. Over the years I have tried to get in there and at least meet the owners so they could see I’m not the raving lunatic they probably heard I was but I was never able to get my chance to prove myself.

A few weeks ago one of Jerry’s Kidders Tim Slagle worked the club and without telling me happened to drop my name. There is only one owner now apparently and he didn’t get upset when my name was brought up. Tim told me about it and I told the booker to please keep me in mind for any openings and hopefully after all these years I could get my shot.

As luck would have it there was a last minute fall out for this week. The bad part is that the opening is for the feature position. I am by far not a feature but the booker asked if I’d be willing to do it to get into the club. Normally I would say no thanks but this is a special circumstance and I said I would be willing to do it only for the fact of my history there.

The emails went back and forth between me and the booker and the booker and the club owner and after a few rounds it was decided that he would go with someone else this time but it opened the door for me to get in there another time. That’s exactly what I wanted to happen and I’m glad I didn’t have to go up there and feature this week. I’ll be too busy.

I really hope I do get a chance to work that club. I’ve been wanting to get in there so I’d be able to see some friends I have up that way who keep asking when I’ll be playing there so they can come see me. I never wanted to tell them the story of why not and now I’ll not have to bring it up if I can get a week up there in 2009. At least I have a chance to now.

This situation was a culmination of many years of blowing my political chances. I was a quick tempered loudmouth at times when I should have shut up and played the game with more patience. I burned more than my share of bridges and some of them deserved it but I didn’t intend to burn this one. It just happened. Now hopefully I can rebuild it for good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dental Deja Vu

Wednesday October 29th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Time to get entrepreneurial. I am running out of time and options and I need to make as much money as I can in the shortest amount of time without breaking any laws. That’s the goal but I need to make a plan on how to do that. Buying a lottery ticket isn’t the answer.

I honestly don’t think that would be as much fun as starting from scratch and building a successful moneymaking enterprise out of nothing. That appeals to me and the challenge of starting at ground zero with no help is deep down the ultimate hunt. That’s the thrill.

The one single thing I’ve had the most success with in my whole life entrepreneurially is my comedy classes. I built that whole idea up from scratch and am still scratching but the actual product is a good one. I know what I’m doing and it’s constantly getting better.

The product has taken a while to develop and now I need to match that with a business plan and parlay this into real money. Up until now I’ve made a few bucks gas money for my time even though I truly enjoyed it and still do. I need to expand my horizons with it.

Uranus Factory Outlet is a great concept and I still love that too but I’m totally starting from less than zero on that project. The classes are different. I’ve experimented for years to get the product to this point and I’m very confident it’s a good one worth every penny.

The smart thing to do with the classes is get them going again and put them in EVERY possible place I can. Comedy clubs are great but the real money will come from locations where this is a whole new concept. Business sales training? Hospitals? Federal prisons?

I don’t care. I know about comedy and everyone likes to laugh whether they laugh at the same things or not. I want my name to be like Dale Carnegie for humor courses. I want to hear people say ‘Very funny - why don’t you take a Dobie Maxwell course?’ I’d love that.

My old radio friend Jimmy Novack came through for me this morning on 102.3 WXLC in Waukegan, IL. He’s doing the morning show now and used to be on with me doing the Mothership Connection show in Kenosha. He was in a position to help me out and he did.

He was kind enough to put me on the show at 7:20 to plug the one day class at Zanies in Vernon Hills this Saturday at noon. He gave me a nice interview and plug and I really did appreciate it. I don’t know if it will draw any people this time but he’ll put me on again.

It’s good to have friends. I’d do that for other people and I have in the past when I had a radio show so it feels especially good when it comes back around. He didn’t have to do it but Jimmy is a super nice guy and he knew it would help me. His karma is very positive.

I sure want mine to be too. Did I blow it in a past life so badly that I am being punished in this one? It sure seems that way sometimes and again I am truly sorry for whatever it is I did to keep getting this much dung blown back in my face. I’m trying to end that storm.

Joey Callahan called me from Philadelphia. He’s a great guy and very supportive and he is going through his comic’s dilemma too. He’s got a family so he had to take a day job to feed them and make sure they have insurance and I don’t fault anyone for that. He’s still a really funny comic and always will be. Once the comedy bug bites most of us stay bitten.

Joey knows how to hustle a comedy buck like we’ve all learned to do and I’d love to get involved in some projects with him. He has a show called ‘The Lads Of Comedy’ which I was part of at Notre Dame University of all places. It’s an Irish themed show and I hope it continues. Joey is one of my very favorite people and he’s thinking entrepreneurial too.

I drove up to Milwaukee today to meet with my baseball card friend Richard Caan. He’s selling cards on Ebay full time and has been offering to show me the ropes for a long time and today was the day. He’s not getting rich but he’s getting by and that’s not a bad thing. He quit his day job ten years ago and hasn’t starved to death yet. He showed me around a little and I learned how the process works. I’m educating myself on a whole new level.

Up until now I didn’t even explore the possibility of doing the things I’m doing now. It never crossed my mind. I was too busy chasing comedy and trying to put out the fires that kept starting like dealing with bank robbery accusations and recovering from car wrecks.

Maybe this is part of getting older or maybe I’m just finally starting to think smarter for a refreshing change. The chase of comedy isn’t what it once was because I have done very well in catching it. I’ve really improved since I started and I can still get a lot better but to only focus on that like I had for so many years is just plain boring to me. I want new fun.

Being an entrepreneur is something that I think will be fun - especially when the money comes. I’m having a blast planning these things out but fun doesn’t pay rent. Money does. I want to make the study of making money a science and then find a way to be good at it.

Money is not happiness and I know that but in the real world it’s a lot of good things. It has been something I’ve never chased until recently and I know if I ever do catch a bunch of it I will end up giving most of it away to help give others like me a little bit of a boost.

On a down note I had to get still more dental work done today. How many holes in the head can one guy have? I didn’t think there were any teeth that were unfilled in my head but my Russian whiz kid dentist Dr. Beyer found two more. The needle was familiar but still not pleasant and the drilling was deep and constant. I sure hope this is it for a while.

It’s more money on the credit card but at least it saved a root canal. He said if I waited a while longer it would have been another $1800 hit. This one was only $337. I was lucky I came as early as I did and I’ll just have to resign myself to knowing my teeth are horrific.

At least I’ve got a few left. I’m doing my best to not look like the majority of the people in Alabama but it’s costing a fortune to do it. That’s why I need to be an entrepreneur so I can pay for these kinds of things in the future and save all the stress I’m having right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reshaping My Reality

Tuesday October 28th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Back to work in the world of my reality. David Alan Grier left Nashville on an airplane with a hefty cashier’s check and is back filming his TV show for Comedy Central. That’s his reality. Mine was driving back to Chicago in my ’94 Toyota and stopping at a Motel 6 halfway home so I wouldn’t nod out and crash into a metal guardrail and perish in pieces.

Our worlds differ just a little. Until David or Frank Caliendo or Jeff Foxworthy call me to be part of their world I’ll have to live in the one I’m in for a while longer. I was at least part of the reason that put me here so if I want change it’s up to me to initiate the process.

That’s what I started to do today. I can see the future of where I’m going and it’s not the happy ending everyone dreams about. Lots of comedians and radio people my age or even older are not in a good way right now and I don’t want to be that way anymore. I want my lifetime of hard work to lead to something other than chasing my rent money each month.

I want some security. I want some residual income. I want some padding so I don’t have to risk my life driving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in February entertaining drunk ice fishermen in snow suits. If I am going to get that security I have to change directions.

Every road comedian is going through this thought process right now. The playing field is changing and those who can adapt will still be in the game. Those who can’t will be on the road driving an 18 wheeler. It’s about the only other job a comedian is trained to do.

I had lunch with Marc Schultz and Tim Walkoe today to discuss getting work from any and every other source possible. Cruise ships, corporate, colleges, commercials, whatever source of income that may be out there. Tim has been working cruises for a while and he has been very helpful. I’m not sure if that life is for me but it‘s smart to have options now.

Marc gets a few corporate dates a year and passes most of them to either Tim or myself. If one of us does it one year the other usually gets it in the future. Many times people like to hire a comedian again if the first one goes well and Marc, Tim and I make a good team.

Tim is hilarious offstage and cracks everyone up. He’s just a naturally funny guy and all the comedians quote his lines that aren’t even comedy lines. He just says them in regular conversation but they’re too funny not to repeat. I’m honored to be considered his peer.

We went to the Old Country Buffet which is our usual haunt for our lunches and we are all fine with that. We can spread out and hang out and eat all we want and it’s a fun break from the insanity of the world. Today was more about business and I wanted it that way.

I had to use the bathroom before we left and at the urinal rack was an old coot who was 75 if he was a day. He dropped a crisp resonant three octave fart that had to have lasted at least eight to ten seconds. It was world class. Then without missing a beat he turned to me and said ‘Holy Cripes - what’s the par on THAT hole?’ Life doesn’t get funnier than that.

I was laughing so hard I almost peed on my shoes. He winked and gave me the thumbs up and walked out the door with a strange look of pride on his face. That whole scene was one of the funniest moments I can remember in recent memory. I bet David Alan Grier or Frank Caliendo didn’t laugh that hard between the both of them as I did at the urinal rack.

I walked back to the table and told Tim and Marc what happened and they laughed hard too. I showed them the geezer who did it as he was walking back to the buffet line to get a plate of prunes or whatever he was eating. It reminded me of what my Grandpa would do.

Gramps would probably be very proud of me and how far I’ve come in show business. I took it way farther than he ever did but I’m not satisfied with where I am. I want to take it to the next level so I can get paid. I already did the hard part. I paid my dues to get an act.

Now I need to SELL that act to someone other than bar owners who only pay me in the $2-300 range a night for a 45 minute show. I’d be doing the same show in an auditorium that seats 2-3000 people but I’d get paid a lot more. Why not shoot for the higher target?

I had a good day of brainstorming today as I drove from lunch to several Target stores to buy three ring binders for comedy classes. Office stores are very high with those prices for some reason and I don’t know why. Target sells them in the $2.00 range while the big office supply stores sell the exact same brand for about $4.50. I cleaned out a few stores.

Now I’m going to be smart and build my own course the way I want it. In the past I was always rushing to print class papers at the last minute but no more. I am going to print up a big batch of them that will take a while to use up but it will be a worthwhile investment.

I also updated my bio and resume today and had 100 each of those printed up on bright paper and will start carrying those with me so I can pass them out when needed. These are the kinds of little steps I need to take every day so I can get myself out of my obscurity.

It’s about MARKETING and PROMOTION and SALESMANSHIP. Comedy is not the main ingredient of any of this right now. I’ve got an act and it’s funny enough. It’s let me survive this long and if I never write another joke I’ll still survive. Now I need to sell my customers on my abilities. Once I do that and get in the door I’ll be able to deliver funny.

I stopped at a used book store and bought a few more great books on marketing myself. I’ve already got a big stack but now I have a few more. The first one I’m going to read is a biography of Mary Kay Ash. It looks very interesting and I’m sure I’ll learn from her.

I also put in a little time on my taxes of all things. I found a really nice organizer to put my records and receipts in and I’ve been keeping very good tabs on all that lately. I won’t have the same tension I had this year next year. I am already ahead of the game even now.

This was a hard fought day but I did a lot of smart things. I’m starting to think in a good way and that’s how I should. Maybe there’s a chance for me to change my reality after all.

Brainstorm Breakfast

Monday October 27th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

This is the first Monday in a long time I didn’t have to take a train or drive into Chicago to be on WLS with Jerry’s Kidders. It started to hit home as I sat in a restaurant with Jerry and his wife Ann at 9am brainstorming ideas of what they can do next. We’ve been doing meetings like this for years and it’s never fun but it’s become a kind of morbid tradition.

We’ve both been fired in radio so many times and had to start all over again we lost our count. We briefly went over a few previous meetings and tried to at least remember which towns they were in but then it became one ugly blur and we stopped. It‘s all a big mess.

Radio can be a very cruel mistress and it makes no sense sometimes. This is an example of that and all the second guessing in the world won’t change anything. What happened is not going to reverse itself and it’s time to move forward. Jerry and I give each other a day to be miserable and angry and then we know it’s time to plow ahead. It’s that time now.

Jerry and Ann and the kids are like family. We’ve been through so much together we’re both familiar with each other’s history. I’ve known them going on 20 years now and have seen them move all over the country just like I have. This was the first time in years we’d had a chance to live in the same town. Now it looks like that’s not going to happen either.

Chances are they’ll have to move. Again. The kids are in school and settled in and they are at an age now where another move isn’t going to be pleasant. Ripping them out of yet another town they’ve just settled into will cause stress and I feel really bad for all of them.

Nobody ever thinks about this part of it when they decide to fire someone in radio. It’s a knee jerk reaction to save a few bucks and the ugly part of it doesn’t cross the mind of the monkey who pulls the trigger. Max moved his family to Chicago from Omaha for the gig at the Loop and then a year later had to move again after we got torched. It was very ugly.

I keep using that word but it totally fits. Radio is an ugly business and there’s no reason it has to be in my opinion. The Loop could have found jobs for Max, Spike and me in the company SOMEWHERE. They always say how much they care about their employees at the time but when we get blown out nobody gives it a second look. I think it’s SO wrong.

Jerry’s company could have done the same thing. OK, they want to bring in Mancow. It will be a huge mistake and he’ll tank the ratings in six months or less but if that’s what an out of touch imbecile in New York thinks that’s fine. But they didn’t have to blow Jerry’s two years of hard work and sweat out the door. They could have found a place for him.

As of yet they haven’t. And they probably won’t. I’ve seen this happen to both Jerry and me several times now and every time it happens I get more and more disillusioned with it all. This was a real wake up call and I know I need to work on my own projects more than ever. It really is all about the money unfortunately. Those who have some can buy time to decide what to do next. I wish Jerry’s family well in all this. They all got screwed again.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back Up North

Sunday October 26th 2008 - Seymour, IN/Kenosha, WI

I was scheduled for another night in Nashville working with David Alan Grier but Brian Dorfman let me out of it so I’d be able to get back on time for the Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha tonight. He didn’t have to do that and he didn’t even cut my pay.

Sometimes I don’t think he does enough for me with all the connections he has but I did catch a break this time. There were only two shows last night where normally it’s three on a Saturday. I would have had to close the last one which is usually a drunk ugly mud pit.

It can get like that everywhere but especially in that room. Third shows are not always a fun experience and I was prepared to earn my whole week’s pay on that one show but this time there were only two. The club had been doing a lot of extra added special shows and the staff needed the time off to rest. I happened to catch it on the right week and I’m glad.

I really didn’t have it that difficult at all. The feature spot is the easiest spot in the whole comedy business. I hadn’t done it in a long time and I’d forgotten how gravy of a job it is. I basically got paid to drive to Nashville and hang out. My sets really didn’t matter much.

Like I said earlier though this wasn’t about my sets. This was a test. Brian was testing to see how my attitude and spirit is right now. He’s got all kinds of stuff going all over and I could benefit from it if he thinks I can do the job without making him look bad off stage.

I left right after the second show and got as far as Seymour, IN where I started nodding out a little so I got a room at the same Motel 6 I stayed at on the way down on Tuesday. It isn’t worth crashing my car or sleeping in it to save $40 so I splurged and got a warm bed.

The weather was sunny but pretty cold as I drove back the same way I came on Tuesday of last week. It’s a very easy route - straight up I-65 to and through Chicago to Lake Villa. I didn’t go home though. I went straight to the radio station to prepare for the radio show.

This was probably our best show ever. We’re improving all the time but tonight we had even more fun than usual. We had Stanton Friedman on for over an hour and he’s always been one of my very favorite guests on many radio shows including Coast To Coast AM.

I am in awe of his vast knowledge of UFOs and he was a fantastic guest. Scott Markus is really doing a super job arranging the guests and keeping the website up and running as well. He also arranged one of his heroes Ursula Bielski who inspired his being an author.

We’ve got a good thing going here but like Jerry’s Kidders I know it could also end any time. I’m not getting cocky at all but I am very encouraged at our progress. If we can keep growing I really think we could turn this into something special but there’s no guarantee.

This week was a stopgap. I made some money but now I need to knuckle down and get back to work on all my projects. I’m falling behind. Again. There just isn’t enough time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tennessee Ya Later

Saturday October 25th, 2008 - Nashville, TN

This week flew by. Tonight is my last night in Nashville before heading back to do the Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha tomorrow night. If it wasn’t the biggest show we’ve ever done I’d be here another night working with David Alan Grier.

Thankfully Brian Dorfman is cool about it and is letting me blow off the Sunday show. A lot of club owners wouldn’t be that nice about it and normally I wouldn’t mind doing it but we’ve got some strong guests lined up for the show and I want to be there to enjoy it.

I accomplished my objectives here this week. I got back in the mix with Zanies and had an ok week. I still don’t like the audiences here as a whole but they do keep me humble so I don’t get cocky. I may do great everywhere else but when I come to the south it’s tricky.

I met David Alan Grier and we got along very well. I gave him my card and told him if I can be of any help on his new show I’d of course be glad to do it. That kind of thing has always been very uncomfortable for me to do. I just don’t like to ask people for anything.

Looking back on it I should have asked people like Jeff Foxworthy and Drew Carey and Frank Caliendo and several other people to keep me in mind but I just feel uncomfortable with the whole idea of doing that. People sure did it to me when I had my radio jobs and I felt uncomfortable hearing it too. I know most of them only wanted to better themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with bettering one’s self but trying to ride coat tails is a different story. I always feel that I am imposing on someone and if they wanted my help they’d ask me for it. Maybe that goes back to my childhood or some tweak in my head that makes it such a difficult thing for me but it is. I have to learn to overcome it or I’ll never advance.

David Alan Grier’s is a very intelligent and funny guy and those are the kind of people I always want to be around. Even if I didn’t get paid I’d still enjoy writing stuff for him and the show just like I enjoyed working with Jerry’s Kidders on WLS. But after a while there comes a point when a buck needs to be turned. I am at that point now. I need to get paid.

I took some time to explore the city a little since it was my last day in town. There are a lot of great used record stores here and a few decent thrift stores too. I like to take a lap in all of them whenever I come to town and just see what they’ve got. It’s very educational.

There is one that has a huge old comedy section and I got lost there for an hour looking at vinyl recordings of people I never knew recorded them like Paul Lynde and a very early recording of Joan Rivers. I don’t have a turntable anymore but if I did I’d have gone nuts.

I also treated myself to a place called ’Bar-B-Cutie’ which is a local barbecue joint that has been here since 1950. I had a nice rack of ribs and it was delicious. I had fun on a nice sunny fall day and the week of shows went fine but I’m ready to get out of here. Nashville is probably never going to be one of my strongholds but for this week it paid some bills.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not So Bad This Time

Friday October 24th, 2008 - Nashville, TN

The whole Nashville experience is way better than it used to be. I’ve never liked it here on a comedy level but the staff and people in town are very friendly and in this economic time income is income so that doesn’t hurt either. The good points far outweigh the bad.

We used to have to stay in an old rickety house across from the club and everyone knew it as ‘the crack house’. The club itself isn’t in the greatest part of town and we were afraid for our lives staying in a leaky hell hole with bars on the doors and windows. It was scary.

The neighborhood has improved a little over the years and there is a brand new group of townhouses a block away from the crack house which is now the Zanies office space. The club now puts the comedians in one of those townhouses which is a major improvement.

My friend Rick Wey came by today and took me out to lunch at a fantastic joint named ‘Arnold’s’. It was packed and the line ran out the door in the rain but it was worth waiting because the food was amazing. I had catfish and a hush puppy and collared greens and the best piece of pecan pie I think I ever ate. It was totally southern and local and I loved it.

Rick is a class act all the way. He’s a funny comic but he has a sales career which is his bread and butter. He’s always been friendly and we’ve worked together whenever I came here over the years. He bought me dinner up in Milwaukee and he paid again today even though I almost wrestled him for the check. It was my turn but he wouldn’t hear of that.

This is the kind of southern hospitality people hear about. People like Rick and the staff at Zanies and most everyone I encounter down here have always been very friendly to me offstage but as audiences these people have never really plugged in to what I do. They are not on my wavelength as a rule and I just have to suck it up and finish out my stage time.

I did a radio interview this afternoon on 97.1 WRQQ with a jock named Mack. I think he did THE best single radio interview I’ve ever had. He knew my bits and was on top of where I was from and what I’ve done and he made it fun and entertaining as well. I want to make sure I mention him because most jocks plow through it . Not Mack. He‘s a pro.

I also finally finished the Gorgeous George book I’ve been reading. His is a fascinating story and he had to endure a lot of people ripping him off. It made my own situation with my comedy classes seem more palatable. I’m not the only one to have to had this happen.

George was an original and in many cases the imitators are the ones who make the cash.
Mancow is a prime example. He’s never been anything but a copycat and whatever is hot is what he imitates. He was a Stern clone but now talk radio is in style so he’s trying that.

Coming up with anything that revolutionizes a business is rare. I wonder if I can pull off a fresh gimmick like Gorgeous George did with the King of Uranus? His timing was right for what he did. What can I do that’s right for the times now? That’s my puzzle to solve.

I have to say I am really enjoying working with David Alan Grier this week. He’s very funny and has been easy to deal with and friendly to everyone. Last time I was here it was a two act show and I opened for Mark Curry from ‘Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper’. He wasn’t mean but wasn’t very gregarious either. He didn’t want me doing more than ten minutes.

It was a waste of time for me to drive down from Chicago to do that and Brian Dorfman was out of town so I didn’t even get to hang out with him. This week it’s totally different. Not only are the accommodations MUCH better but Brian is in town and we hung out for a while today and that’s always fun. Plus I get to do more time and make it worth my trip.

I’m not the opener this week either. There is a local emcee named T.C. Cope who’s also a really good guy. He’s around my age and has been around the block so having a veteran lineup all the way through makes this week a breeze. We’ve all been through this before.

If there’s anyone who could be in the trick bag this week it’s me. I’m the only white guy on the show and also an outsider. Not only am I white I’m from the north and talk too fast for most people down here. I have to really watch myself and choose what I say carefully.

Last night’s audience was predominantly black and I did fine but I could see a few with their arms folded who weren’t going to enjoy me no matter what I did. That’s just how it is. Normally I really like black crowds and they like me too but there is a different way to approach them and the first person that uses the word ‘racist’ I’m going to kick their ass.

Are black and white audiences different? YES. So are northern and southern audiences. And Jewish and gentile audiences. And any number of different things including young or old or male or female or rich or poor or smart or stupid. Comedy is very much a matter of group dynamics and what’s funny for some groups of people just won’t work for others.

T.C. is from here and can bring out local references I can’t touch. He’s very likeable too and is used to this room because he works here all the time. David Alan Grier is a star and the one the people paid to see from his time on ‘In Living Color’ which was a huge show.

I am a no name white boy from the north who isn’t on the marquee and if they decide to turn against me twenty minutes on stage will seem like twenty years in a Turkish prison. I have usually done very well with black crowds but on occasion I have not clicked and it’s pure hell to stand there and not get any laughs from a group who doesn’t want to see me.

That didn’t happen tonight. The first show was about half and half and although most of them weren’t huge laughers they weren’t rude or mean. They enjoyed the show but were a polite quiet audience who weren’t as into it as last night’s group. The late show was work as I felt myself not being able to find their buttons. They were tired and didn’t laugh a lot.

Still, that had nothing to do with anyone’s color. It was late show Friday on a rainy day. It was fun hanging out with David and T.C. and Brian Dorfman between shows and that made my trip worth it. I’ll make a few bucks this week but it was also a networking trip.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Funeral For A Friend

Thursday October 23rd, 2008 - Nashville, TN

Up and down. Good and bad. Joy and pain. Yin and yang. What a day. Jerry Agar called at 6:30am to tell me he’s being replaced on WLS starting Monday morning. I was stunned to hear it but by the tone of his voice I could tell he wasn’t kidding. I’ve heard it before all too often. It’s become our tradition that the first person we call after a firing is each other.

I know I’ve been whining about how doing Jerry’s Kidders every week isn’t productive use of my time but that didn’t mean I wanted Jerry to lose his job. I was thinking how my spot could be filled by another comedian. This news really shocked me and everyone else too because I got calls about it all day. It was in the Chicago Tribune and everyone saw it.

What really infuriates me is that a no talent hack named Mancow is taking Jerry’s spot. I have no respect for that lowlife puke because when we got fired at the Loop he went on his show the next day and bashed us unmercifully. His company was the one that bought our station and we went to a group meeting after the sale and he was nice to our faces.

Then he went on the air and said a lot of mean things I don’t even want to repeat. It was unprofessional, uncalled for and WAY beyond the boundaries of ‘entertainment’. We had no chance to respond and we’re all still struggling to rebound from that whole ugly mess.

Now he comes along and blows Jerry off the air and was a bitch about that too. He went to the station and apparently offered to broker the air time himself and pay to be on the air because he is itching to get back on the air in Chicago. Jerry EARNED the right to be in a top market because he worked at it and was very good at what he did. Mancow bought in.

Jerry took the time slot he was in from #15 to #3 in just under two years. He was just on the brink of starting to settle in and more importantly his family was too. His kids have all settled in to new schools with new friends and now it looks like they might have to move yet again. I haven’t talked to Kipper McGee but I hear he’s not thrilled about any of this.

Radio is FULL of stories like this and it never gets any better. Max is still reeling down in Springfield from his encounter with his local idiot and now Jerry gets pissed on by his company from New York with a lowlife bully who is going to run it all into the ground.

I couldn’t be any more angry and sad at the same time. Jerry is a great friend and I love his whole family. They all have sacrificed so they could hopefully have a reward later and this was supposed to be it. Now it’s over and nobody has any clue what will happen next.

Allegedly the station is trying to make room for Jerry in a different time slot. I hope that happens but it’s doubtful. This move was made to save money, why would they pay him a salary when other shows already fill that time? His chances look Karen Carpenter slim.

Jerry is a stud at what he does and a hardworking honest person. I know he’ll find a job again somewhere but he doesn’t want to work ‘somewhere’. He wanted to work at WLS.

This whole thing rocked my world all day and I called and talked to Max about it. Max was blown away as much as I was to hear the news and he talked about how he is totally done with all the insanity of radio and never wants to go back. This was his last straw.

I’ve said that too but after this I’m pretty shell shocked. Jerry will keep going and is not looking to do anything else. He’s got a manager and a great reputation so I think he’ll be ok in the long run but for now it’s a major kick in the groin. It takes all the fun out of life.

I had an appointment today to see Lenny Sisselman who used to manage Zanies before Brian Dorfman took over. Lenny is now managing several Christian comedians and doing very well with it. He’s an honest upfront grounded guy and I always enjoyed working for him when he managed the club. He was very fair and treated me like a total professional.

He knew me when the whole bank robbery fiasco was going on and said then that he’d love to represent me in selling it as a movie script. We’ve kept in touch and I brought the latest incarnation of the script I got from my writing partner Rick. I gave it to Lenny and I know he’ll have some solid input on it. He always does. I am glad I rekindled our contact.

This is what I needed to do this week. Nashville is an entertainment town and there are all kinds of contacts to be made here. Just because it’s known for country music doesn’t mean that those people don’t know other people and most entertainment entities have an office in town somewhere. Lenny has always been a good contact and I respect his word.

I told him about the Uranus Factory Outlet idea and he loved that too. He has a concert series with the Christian acts and they have t-shirts and Lenny said he’d turn me on to the supplier so maybe I’d be able to get a deal because of his connection. I will contact them and don’t mind at all if Lenny becomes involved in this. I want the project to be a winner.

Lenny and I had a very upbeat meeting and I could tell he’s still excited about the script. If good vibe and karma mean anything Lenny is a guy I want to have involved with what I am doing. Jerry Agar is another one. So is Max. So are a lot of other people too. I will get my group of positive people around me and weed out the leakers. Mancow can get bent.

The show at Zanies tonight was totally fun. David Alan Grier is REALLY funny. I have a whole new respect for the guy and I’m glad I came to do this week. I knew of him from some of the TV work he did on ‘In Living Color’ but I’d never seen his standup before.

He has a hell of a presence and is very sharp and funny and charismatic and I watched a full house audience that liked me absolutely LOVE him. He is no pretender and I am very happy for him on his new Comedy Central show. He’s a talented guy and he deserves it.

He was very down to earth and friendly too. He didn’t have to be and I’ve been frozen out many times by someone who’s supposed to be a ‘star’. Not tonight. We got along fine and he even watched my set and laughed out loud. He didn’t have to do that either. I hope to make a connection here and it’s smart business to do that. But I still feel bad for Jerry.

Nashville Politics

Wednesday October 22nd, 2008 - Nashville, TN

Back in Nashville to play both Zanies and politics this week. The Zanies here is run by Brian Dorfman who I know from Chicago. He used to run the club in Vernon Hills before moving here around ten years ago. It was a risk at the time but it’s paid off for him nicely.

More than nicely. Brian has gotten himself into a position of power and influence in the comedy business. He booked the Bob and Tom comedy tours from the start and talks with Tom on a weekly basis. He has transformed this place from a comedy club to a venue and every single week there’s some big name from TV or movies or Bob and Tom headlining.

That’s why I can’t. He doesn’t waste time with no name headliners and that’s how it is. If I want to work here I have to take the opener slot and do a two act show with someone and it’s painfully obvious how unimportant I really am. But the pay is good and I need the cash so when Brian called and asked me to work this week I swallowed my pride. Gulp.

This is a test. I can feel it. Brian has come a long way since he started and is now one of the players in the game. He knows everyone and hangs with everyone and everyone likes him. He’s a likeable guy but I like him for who he is, not because he can help my career.

Brian Dorfman is a master politician. He plays the comedy game well and he’s made his name which in turn has made him money too. I’m thrilled for him but I don’t think he has helped me as much as he could have. Part of that is because his perception of me is one of being a loose cannon. I guess that’s partially true at times but I‘m also a very solid act too.

We’ve talked quite candidly in the past of why I’m not where I want to be in the game. I don’t have a very high tolerance for idiots and unfortunately show business is loaded with them. I want to do my show and go home. Period. I don’t want to drink or shmooze or get high with the staff or hit all the nightclubs after the show. But that‘s not playing the game.

My big test in the past was the Bob and Tom appearance with two live shows afterward. They were in smaller towns but the pay was great and I know I would have torn everyone a new one had I had the chance. Then my little incident went down and it was all a blur.

No matter if the whole thing was BS (and I still think it was) it doesn’t matter. They are still pissed about it and Brian and I talked about it tonight. He said he heard the show that day and I said the wrong thing on the wrong day and it hurt me. I failed that politics test.

I didn’t want to jump on him because he was the one who put me in a position to have a shot at getting on that tour. IF it would have gone differently I would probably be on their A-list tour by now raking in big bank. Instead I’m here opening the show to pay my rent.

I’ve resisted coming back here because opening is very humiliating to me at this point. I am a strong headliner and it’s taken a lifetime to earn those stripes but closing the show at some barn dance in Topeka is not going to get me seen by anyone who can make me rich.

Being around Brian and his connections has a chance to put me in touch with somebody who can actually advance my career. I think it’s probably the only way I’ll ever mend that broken fence with Bob and Tom too. Brian could go to bat for me if he really wanted to.

I don’t think he will right now though and that’s part of the reason I’m here this week. It is his way of seeing how my mindset is right now. If he thinks I’ve matured and am where he thinks I should be attitude wise he just might put my name out there and try to help me not only with Bob and Tom but with other people too. He’s got his finger in a lot of pies.

I really do like Brian as a person and whether he gets anything for me or not isn’t going to change that but I can just feel him feeling me out. We visited for a while tonight and he is always busy with ten projects but he asked me some questions that I felt were all tests.

If Brian Dorfman thinks I am a good bet to make money and won’t make him look bad I bet things will start popping very soon. He knows places I don’t that need people who are able to do the job and I know I can do it onstage and off. I can write and perform and if an opportunity comes I know I won’t blow it. The problem is that Brian isn’t sure of that yet.

Liking someone and going to bat for them are two different things. Jerry Agar said that I wouldn’t be on his radio show if I couldn’t do the job no matter how much he likes me. It makes perfect sense. The same holds true with Brian Dorfman. I know he likes me but he is also in business and has to be smart. If he feels he can’t trust me I’ll never get his help.

This week is an opportunity for me to at least help begin that process. I might not make him change his mind 100% but if I can have a solid week and not complain and just do an outstanding job without incident that will go a long way toward getting another chance at a Bob and Tom tour or something else that would haul me out of my financial quicksand.

Tonight I opened for John Valby aka ‘Dr. Dirty’. He’s one of Brian’s favorite acts and I opened for him back in Vernon Hills many years ago. He’s a piano player with the dirtiest songs around but in a bar crowd it’s very popular. He’s also a wonderfully nice man and I always like sharing time with gentle people. After the show he told me how funny I was.

I got to visit with Brian and Dr. D for a while and another comedian Todd Link came to hang out with us too. We had fun and some laughs and it was low pressure and I played it exactly how I needed to. It wasn’t forced and I genuinely enjoyed hanging with everyone.

The rest of the week will be a bigger test. I’m opening for David Alan Grier. He’s really hot right now with a new show on Comedy Central and is all over My Space as the comic of the month or whatever they call it. He’s getting a lot of face time right now and is a big deal to a lot of people. He hasn’t worked here before and Brian said he doesn’t know him.

Tomorrow will be the big test. He could be a sweetheart or he could be Satan. I will just do what I do and see where it goes. Hopefully we can hook up and stay in contact but I’ve always been shy about stuff like that in the past. That has to change. Struggling isn’t fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

R.I.P. Rudy Ray Moore

Tuesday October 21st, 2008 - Seymour, IN

I was very sad to read that Rudy Ray Moore died today. He was a unique comedian who had a rabid loyal cult following and I was one of them. He was a true pioneer and had his character called ‘Dolemite’ that combined rhyming and rapping with XXX rated material.

He called himself the ‘king of the party records’ and in the ‘60s and ‘70s he recorded an impressive array of albums with titles like ‘Eat Out More Often’ and ‘That Pussy Belongs To Me’ with a picture him holding a cat on the cover. He knew his market and served it.

Rudy Ray Moore was a creative and marketing genius. He built a following in clubs and then sold his underground records which built his name and he carved out a whole career for himself for many years. He did a lot of things right and I admired his work for years.

A lot of black comedians are shocked to know that I know who Rudy Ray Moore is but I am a fan of any kind of entertainment that’s done well. I don’t like opera but I’m a huge fan of Pavarotti. He was a great entertainer. So was Johnny Cash. And so was Dolemite.

His material was as filthy as filthy gets and is not for everyone. I find it hilarious but not all people do. Like Redd Foxx though, Rudy was serving a market that couldn’t be served any other way. They were providing a product that couldn’t be purchased anywhere else.

There was an art to what those guys did and how they did it. They weren’t just spouting off dirty words like many so called comics do today with no real reason. I flip out about it all the time because there’s no need for it in the club setting of today. It’s not that any of it offends me it’s just that it makes it hard to follow and it taints an audience in a bad way.

I grew up around bikers and the actual words don’t make me flinch at all. My grandma swore like a truck driver and could make sailors blush but when she went to church she’d curtail it for an hour. The same thing needs to be done in comedy clubs. There’s an art to standup comedy and blue material is hard to do in a classy way. Now I sound like a prude.

Redd Foxx was an extremely sharp guy and I have to believe Rudy was too. I never had a chance to meet him but I would have loved to shake his hand and tell him how much of a fan I was of not only his work but his marketing savvy. He put together an original idea.

I bet it would have surprised him a white guy 35 years younger than him would know of his work but I also think it would have pleased him to know how much it was appreciated too. It’s hard enough to make a living as a comedian but it had to be especially hard to get paid on the ‘chitlin’ circuit’ where he worked back in a time when they all got ripped off.

I hope Rudy had a happy and rewarding life but I read that he died in a nursing home in Akron, OH from complications of diabetes. That doesn’t sound like a happy ending and if I could have driven there to visit him I surely would have. There are a lot of performers in the world but very few can be called trendsetters. Much respect to a true creative genius.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Horn Of Plenty

Monday October 20th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

My Monday marathons get longer as I keep adding more things to do. Between WLS in the morning and a Zanies show at night I now have started teaching classes again too. It’s a good thing the classes are at Zanies to save on travel but it still makes for one long day.

I’ve been debating for a while now whether I really need to do all these things in a day but if I enjoy it (and I do) why stop? I can rest when I’m dead and even if I’m not making big cash it still could lead to that in the future. I think I’m going to ride it out for a while.

The WLS situation is as good as I’ve ever had it in radio minus a paycheck. Jerry is my friend but so is Kipper McGee the program director. Most program directors in radio are two faced backstabbing liars but that goes with the territory. They have to protect all sides from being attacked and they get it from both management and air talent. That’s not easy.

Kipper and Jerry are friends first and good ones at that. We all look out for each other’s best interests and I truly believe if any of us have a fault it’s being too generous. We have had a lot of fun with this project and there’s a mutual respect on all sides. It’s been a treat.

Treats don’t pay bills though and that’s an issue. We’re scheduled to perform at Zanies in St. Charles November 13th and that will be a big test to see if we can draw flies. I hope we can get some people but there’s no guarantee of that. The station is going to run some commercials for us though and that’s a payment plan if indeed it can put fannies in seats.

All we can do is keep showing up every Monday until then and do what we do. Today it was free flowing and fun and I thought we all got off some good lines. Everyone had their chance to shine and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Will that draw a crowd? I don’t know.

After lunch with the Kidders I drove to Lyons to meet with a former comedy student of mine named Eddie Horn Jr. Eddie took my class several times many years ago and I have always really liked him. He’s a human dynamo and has positive energy flying out of him.
He was in the music business for years and then tried improv and comedy for a while. It was always fun to have him in class but he wasn’t really a true standup. He liked to do his characters and voices and that’s fine but he never focused his efforts on just doing jokes.

We’ve been in and out of touch for years and when he heard about the Uranus project it piqued his interest. He has been politely nudging me for a while now to get together for a brainstorming session and I’ve wanted to but everything else just kept getting in the way.

Today was the day I decided to make it happen and I’m glad I did. Eddie is now making world class puppets of all things and selling them all over the world. He wants to connect these puppets with Uranus Factory Outlet and I totally think it could work. We bounced a lot of ideas around over beef sandwiches and I felt a really strong vibe. I have a feeling it will lead to something that’s very creative and different. This could be a day to remember.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Perisho The Thought

Sunday October 19th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Another really strong positive vibe today and it lasted from beginning to end. I am on a big upswing lately and am enjoying every minute of it. Yesterday’s seminar in Cincinnati really put me in a good space mentally and knowing I helped people always feels great.

I got a nice restful night’s sleep and started today with a vibe hangover from yesterday. I felt the same good feeling I felt yesterday so I ran with it. I could analyze it but that might take me out of it so why not just let it ride as long as it’s going to go? I feel like a surfer.

Gary Pansch called and asked if I wanted to meet up at the Iron Skillet Truck Stop up in Racine, WI. He works for the owner at another gas station and gets free meal coupons all the time and he’s very generous to share them with me. Gary is a very funny comic but he is also very shy and never pursued the road full time. He’s also a very talented cartoonist.

I showed Gary my new binder with all my comedy class notes in it and asked if he’d be willing to do some illustrations for it and he said he’d love to do it. I am now thinking the smart thing to do is flesh this out into an entire book and not just a little booklet that gets passed out to students in classes I teach. If I do this right I can get it all over the country.

Vince Vieceli is a Chicago comic who works at either Barnes and Noble or Borders. It’s hard to tell them apart unless you work there and most people don’t. Vince does and he’d have the inside scoop on how to arrange book signings and get published and all I’d need to have happen to get that done. We’re supposed to have a lunch soon to start it all going.

After lunch with Gary it occurred to me just how much down right fun I’m having right now. I love pretty much everything I’m doing and even though I’m still not the zillionaire I always pictured I am very grateful for the smart choices I made in my life. Even after all the stupid ones I’ve had come back to fricassee my fanny I’m still hanging in the big race.

The comedy business is shaky all around but I’m still booked and making a living at it. I am squeaking by but I’m surviving and I’ve got more coming up. Jerry’s Kidders on WLS is still going and even though I don’t get paid for it yet it’s still a chance to be on a station that is one of the most respected in America. If nothing else being on the air there is FUN.

It’s also fun to be on The ‘D’ List with Drew Olson and Dan Needles up in Milwaukee. I am treated with respect by all the staff and usually when I’m on the air even listeners are very nice and say something like ‘Hey, I love it when you’re on - you make me laugh.’ To hear that makes my whole day and I can’t think of many times when it hasn’t happened.

The WLIP experience with the Mothership Connection show is also a total blast. We’re starting to really hit stride with it and tonight was another very good show. Scott Markus has really taken to this and is a fantastic partner in many ways. He runs the controls and is also very sharp on the air too. He also brought our other host Lara Schaefer into the mix.

She has settled in very nicely and really adds to the on air mix as well. She fits in with us.
That’s three radio shows that I’m at least a part of that are nothing but pure fun. No, I’m not making a plugged nickel from any of them but I enjoy myself every single time. There are three different programs on three different stations in three different towns but they’re all in my wheelhouse and I hope to still keep doing them whether I ever get paid or not.

Another show that I have a blast on is the ‘Stone and Double T’ show on 104.9 ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL. Those guys also get it and when I go on there I can riff and just be myself for as long as I want. They know I will deliver and they let me do what I want. That’s all I ever asked. I know what I’m doing as an entertainer and creative freedom is what I need.

I’ve had SO much frustration in and around radio that sometimes I feel scorched and am a total downer about it but these four situations are anything but that. I enjoy myself doing all of them and now I just have to find a way to turn a buck so I can support a radio habit.

It’s amazing how a place like Kenosha can be pure fun and Bob and Tom could be pure hell. That’s ‘the’ radio show every comic in America wants to be on because they’re in so many markets. I think it’s over 200 now and they have literally MILLIONS of listeners.

Getting kicked off that show was one of the most insulting and hurtful things that I have ever experienced and I’ve experienced a lot. I still don’t know what I did to make them all so angry and even after a sincere apology both verbal and written they still blow me off to this day. Just recently I tried again to at least mend fences and I received ZERO response.

That nothing said a lot of something and they must still be pissed off but what else can I do but move on? Would I love to stick it to them someday? No, I really wouldn’t. I’m not looking to do anything other than have fun in life and that show was never fun. They were always very tight assed in there and everyone was on pins and needles. Who needs that?

It was also like that at the Loop in Chicago for most of the first year. We got reamed for any and every little thing and after a while the thrill wore off and it was a grind. I want my life to be fun and if it’s not I want to find something that is. I have. Bob and Tom can kiss my pasty white ass. They’re probably millionaires in money but they’re bankrupt in fun.

If my little whatever it was has upset them that much this much later I guess that’s not a good place for me to be. Would the exposure be nice? Sure it would but to have to worry about every little thing I say offending them isn’t worth getting up early in the morning to do. I’d rather drive up to Milwaukee to hang on The ‘D’ List. That’s a WAY better vibe.

The one thing that sticks out in all of this was the email I received from my friend Jerry Perisho out in L.A. who just survived prostate cancer. Jerry is a comedy writer and wrote an outstanding book about his whole cancer experience. It can be found on his website at Jerry is a super guy and my respect for him has always been huge.

Jerry told me he reads my diary and follows my ups and downs. He told me to enjoy the journey of life because there is no destination. It’s all in the journey. Man is he ever right.

A Super Cincinnati Seminar

Saturday October 18th, 2008 - Lawrenceburg, IN/Lake Villa, IL

Today was about as busy as it could possibly get and everything I did was fun. I doubt if a whole lot of other people can say they’ve bathed their lives in everything they enjoy but even if I’m not rich yet at least I am doing what I love. Today was a 21 hour love-a-thon.

I crawled out of bed at 3am to head for Cincinnati to teach my comedy seminar. I didn’t make my original plan of getting down there on Friday night and I was hoping that would not come back to bite me in the ass. Road construction or bad weather or both would do it and I hoped for the best as I packed my car with my big box of supplies and headed south.

Traffic was as light as I can remember seeing it in years and I breezed through all of the construction zones that have tormented me so often in the past. It was to the point of not a car on the road for several stretches and I could just feel the vibe for the day be positive.

It’s very strange how it works both ways and I can sense either one. When it’s bad I can feel myself missing traffic lights or being behind one toothless mook after the next who is babbling on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette and clogging the toilet when I’m late for an important appointment. Today was just the opposite. The world opened it’s doors for me.

I was out of Chicago in no time and on my way toward Cincinnati and I thought of how much I really do love teaching these seminars. It’s a blast to put all the lessons together to help people chase a dream or just come out and spend a fun day. I love being a comedian too but this is an offshoot of it that I’m really glad I pursued. I have found a new passion.

I pulled into the Top Shelf Grille sports bar parking lot in Lawrenceburg, IN at 10:50am and the event was scheduled to start at 11. PERFECT timing. I’m not used to that and it’s a real treat when it works out. I found the joint with no glitches and the day started great.

It finished great too. My friend Michelle Minella organized this and she’s really loving her whole experience with comedy. She took a one day seminar at Zanies in Vernon Hills a couple of years ago and now she’s parlayed it to running some rooms around Cincinnati and this is one of them. Lawrenceburg is right next to the Ohio border and a nice place.

Michelle spread the word to her people and sold them hard on the fact that this kind of a program would be an investment in their future and she is right. I appreciate her positivity and she sat in and participated in the class. She loved it. Everyone loved it. Including me.

I met some wonderful people and the food was great at the sports bar and it was totally worth every mile of the 706 of them on my round trip. I even got a bowl of Skyline Chili on my way out of town. I couldn’t go near Cincinnati and not chow down on their chili.

This was a wonderful day had by all. Michelle Minella is another example of why I still teach these classes. No embezzling ex partner can ever get in the way of this kind of good vibe and I will continue to keep it going and blow him and his minions out of the water.

Up All Night

Friday October 17th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Wow, I pulled an ‘all nighter’ for the first time in a long time. I drove back from the gig in LaCrosse and needed to finish my paperwork for the comedy seminar I’m scheduled to teach in Cincinnati tomorrow. I have really been working hard on making it a good one.

Every new session of classes I teach or even a one day seminar like this one I go over an order of what I want to include and see if I can add anything to what I’ve done in the past. I always compile articles or write my own or just try to make the whole thing flow better.

After 15 years of teaching I can pretty much stand up there and talk about comedy until everyone including me is sick of it but that’s not what will make these classes great. I am well aware that the classes themselves are ‘the show’ and I need to entertain the people as I teach them about comedy. It’s both education and entertainment. It’s ‘edu-tainment’.

Part of that includes giving them a package of paperwork to take home with them. I am very picky to put the worksheets and exercises in the right order so the whole day can be laid out in order and there are no glitches on my end as a teacher. It improves all the time.

I have put together the best package I’ve ever had and when I got home I wanted to get them all assembled and packed and ready to go because I was scheduled to go up and be a guest on ‘The D List’ on ESPN Radio 540 in Milwaukee at 9am. I got back around 2:30.

I went right to work and thought I might get done by 4am so I could at least get a couple of good sleep hours in but I wanted to put the package together how I wanted it and it was a lot longer than I expected. When I finished I looked at the clock and it was 7:05. Oops.

Too late for even a nap so I showered up and got back in the car and stopped at the Red School House for breakfast. I haven’t seen my waitress honey in a while and not sure that she even works there anymore. I wouldn’t have had time to flirt as I was cutting it close.

I made it to the studio in Milwaukee right after 9am. I really like hanging out with Drew and Dan and it’s a very natural flow. I fit in very well with them and the staff treats me as if I were a regular. They don’t look at me as a guest even though I’m only there randomly.

Drew asked me to be a bigger part of the show and maybe do a ’Sixty Second Soapbox’ bit like I used to do on the Loop in Chicago. I know sports very well and especially sports in Milwaukee so that would be a natural fit. I would come up once a week and let it rip.

Of all the bashing I do of radio (and it’s all deserved) there are a few bastions of sanity and talent and I’m trying to find all of them and be a part of it. ESPN Radio is definitely a shining star with not only the D List but also my good friend Steve “The Homer” True.

I had a blast on the show and by the time I got home other stuff piled up and now I’m as tired as I’ve been in a long time. Time to rest up for my one day excursion to Cincinnati.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last Minute In LaCrosse

Thursday October 16th, 2008 - LaCrosse, WI

Flexibility is a huge asset in the comedy business. I picked up a last minute fallout up in LaCrosse, WI that’s booked by an agent down in Florida of all places. I’ve worked for the agent before and it’s a married couple who have always treated me fairly. They sent out a mass email trying to find someone and I offered to help out. They gladly took me up on it.

I know how it is trying to fill a fallout. It’s part of the business but it can sure be a huge bite in the shorts when it’s too close to the date. I’ve had to back out a few times over the years and I always try to make it right later if humanly possible. Sometimes it’s just not.

I had a gig already booked but it wasn’t that great. One of my former students is setting up afternoon shows in downtown Chicago because her husband used to work at the Board of Trade. They’re getting their feet wet in the booking game and it’s a few bucks to do an easy few minutes. I got Jim McHugh to replace me at that gig and I said yes to LaCrosse.

The weather was great and I had a relaxing drive up I-90. I thought about a lot of things and I got so deep in thought I never even turned my radio on. I do that sometimes and it’s like I’m in a hypnotic trance or something. I am awake and my eyes are open but my head is out past Uranus and beyond. I usually come back into consciousness many miles away.

Reworking my comedy classes has been my main focus the last couple of days and I am totally ready to get back in the groove. I’ve got a one day seminar in the Cincinnati area to prepare for and I think I’m more than ready. I’ve got all new sheets and I bought a load of three ring binders to put them in and it’s already the most organized that I’ve ever been.

I’m going to shake my ex business partner off like fleas off a dog’s ass. I’m the one that started teaching classes in Chicago and I won’t let anyone just come around and think it’s an unlimited cash grab scam. I’m going to outwork and outperform any and all of them.

The show in LaCrosse was just ok. There were a lot of people but it was way too smoky and a few of them were talking through the whole show. Until the end of time that one is a head scratcher to me. Why do these people pay a cover charge and then talk all night? I could never figure that out and I couldn’t tonight either but I did my time and got paid.

There’s a radio station that sponsors comedy night and they were here last time I was as well. It’s Z-93 and the afternoon jock is named Brittany and I did a phoner on her show in the car on the way up. She’s very sharp and very nice and not the typical radio bimberino. She has a pleasant personality and I hope she stays with it and makes it to a big market.

The program director is also the midday jock and she is a brunette stunner that is hotter than 99.999% of any radio babes I’ve ever come across. She’s gorgeous and still has that hot sexy radio voice that most radio women do but look like a Guernsey cow with a case of the mumps. Not this one. Smelling her perfume as we crossed paths on the stage made my drive worthwhile. This was a pleasant surprise to pick up some much needed scratch.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Two Cent Vent

Wednesday October 15th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Chicago, IL

Is the world really this stupid or am I part of a big long elaborate prank? Will somebody PLEASE yell ‘cut’ and stop this mess? It’s gone on way too long. I feel more out of touch with the public’s pulse now than I’ve ever been - and I’ve always felt like a total outsider.

Does anyone actually think a 72 year old senile coot or a gay porn extra is going to drag us out of the complete meltdown our country is experiencing? I can’t watch those two try to win over the mulleted masses without my gag reflex going off. Out of 300 plus million Americans THESE two dimwits are all we could come up with? I want to move to Cuba.

Sorry, I’m having a bad day. I need to de-stress a little. Everywhere I turn there’s been a problem today and I’m ready to pop a blood vessel somewhere important. I don’t know if I can take this much longer. Is anyone on this filthy marble playing cards with a full deck?

First I had to meet my friend Shelley up in Kenosha to ‘mystery shop’ a meal for lunch. She does that part time and we’ve gone before. Usually the food is decent but today I had all I could do to not take my grub and throw it across the room on my plate like a Frisbee.

Our waitress was a high school chick who only wanted to win some contest by pawning off an appetizer on as many people as she could. She botched both Shelley’s and my order and it wasn’t a big deal but then again it was. I know people are starving and all that but it wasn’t about that today. We were there to see if they were competent and it wasn’t close.

Shelley asked for the manager and he was a flaming homo who lowered himself to talk to her. He had an attitude for whatever reason and I thought he was going to break out in a show tune at any minute. It was obvious he didn’t want to be there and neither did we.

I don’t really care who’s a homo or not but this guy wore it like a feather boa and a pair of Madonna cone tits. Maybe I’m just getting old and I am losing my patience but how’s about this? DO YOUR DAMN JOB! Play Liberace later at the bath house but make sure my steak is cooked the way I asked. That’s why your here. Am I a curmudgeon now?

After a rushed lunch because of brutally slow service I had a dentist appointment back at the old torture chamber. I had what I thought was my final crown put in but now I’ve got two new sprouting cavities apparently and have to get those filled in a couple weeks. What’s wrong with me? Do I have some West Virginia toothless hillbilly DNA in me?

The crown cost $1300 and now my credit card which was clean is now juiced up again. It’s one thing after the next and I’m trying to just get stable so I can work on my projects but that’s a mythical situation. Most of my days are spent pissing out forest fires in life.

One that flared up today was what I wrote yesterday about my friend Max. Apparently it made it’s way down there and was going around the building somehow. Max asked me to take it down and that’s the only reason I did - because he asked. He’s got my total respect.

The other people I wrote about don’t and never will. Radio is full of no talent ass kisser insecure stiffs who couldn’t entertain a monkey with a truckload of bananas. They protect their little domains but when the doors are closed they know they are just stealing money.

Not all people in radio are that way but a large percentage are and I’m not going to back down about what I think. The funny thing is, whenever I rip anyone in this diary I will not mention them by name. I don’t want that. I’m not looking to get personal, I’m just talking about the situation. Whenever I’ve slammed anyone I keep it anonymous. You can check.

For whatever reason those people seem to read it and take it personally. It’s happened a lot. I wrote about a bad date and the woman called and tore me a new one. Another time I talked about a dirty opening act and I got a nasty email from him the next day. Yesterday I went off on the situation Max is in but never once did I use their actual names in all this.

I want only the very best for Max and he has totally earned it. He’s only working in that smelly little hell hole pit of a town because he loves his wife and she’s from there. Max is big market all the way and he deserves more. But right now he needs to have a job there.

Max didn’t say those things about the stupidity of how radio works - I did. I take blame or credit and in this case it was blame. I didn’t mean to cause Max any harm but getting a dose of what he got really made me empathize with him and I wrote about my feelings. It brought back memories of my own dealings with clueless chowder heads from my past.

What would make me happy? That’s a good question. I used to think it would all work out for the best but I have long abandoned that notion. I’m not going to change this world so all I can hope for is to carve out a little corner of it where I can call home and be free.

There is a percentage of the population that does get it and are good people and do have a brain in their head and have a clue. I think it’s a shrinking number but it does exist. I’ve met many of them on my life’s journey and Max is totally one of them. There are a lot of comedians on that list too. Those are the people I want to share my life with all the time.

Max and I would make a GREAT radio team in a big market. Will we ever get a chance to prove it? I don’t know at this point. We shouldn’t have gotten fired from the Loop back when we did but we did. Max went to Springfield and on more than one occasion I was in there talking about maybe working there. Thankfully I didn’t. This would be trouble now.

I wish only good for Max and all the other good people of the world. The rest of them I couldn’t care less about and I wish there would be an I.Q. test every year and the ones that flunk get chopped up into fertilizer. I know that might sound harsh to some but not to all.

All I want is a little fairness in the world. Kindness wouldn’t hurt either. I really try that way of life myself but nobody sees when I do good deeds, they only read my blog rantings second hand and pass it on to others. Hey, at least I’m entertaining people I don’t know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Tough All Over

Tuesday October 14th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Times are getting tough for a lot of people. I was out running a few errands and decided to get some lunch at the Ponderosa Steak House in Waukegan near the car auction. I have been going there for years and for whatever reason that location has a particularly friendly staff. They really stand out. I’ve never seen one restaurant with so many quality people.

I think I’m turning into my grandpa but I have always liked Ponderosa. It’s cheap steaks and a salad bar but for what it is it’s a good deal. Well it WAS a good deal. I pulled up to find the place closed for good and it really took me by surprise. There wasn’t a warning.

I couldn’t help but think of all those people now without jobs. Granted, Ponderosa isn’t a career maker for most of those people but I’m sure it was part time income and they had all been there for a long time and got along well. Now they’re all scrambling to find a gig.

I’d gone to that place countless times because it was so close to the car auction. It was a combination deal to hit the auction and then the Ponderosa afterward either with whoever I went to the auction with or by myself. It didn’t matter. A good lunch is a good lunch. To see this scenario today was in an odd way the end of an era for me and I was sad to see it.

I know it’s weird but I’ve always loved their salad dressings. Both the French and Bleu Cheese are the best I’ve ever had and I crave it from time to time. How goofy is that? Do they put heroin in it? The way I love it so much I think they must. I wanted a fix today.

Since it was my errand day I decided to wait and go to Milwaukee to hit the Ponderosa by the airport. I needed to go to the Wells Fargo bank right across the street. I opened my account there when I lived in Utah and never closed it when I left and there aren’t any in the Chicago area. I use it as my emergency car repair fund and I needed to make a deposit.

Wouldn’t you know it when I pulled up to the Ponderosa this one was closed too. I sure wasn’t expecting this either. They were probably both owned by the same entities - either the company or a franchisee. I’m not sure how that works but now their employees don’t.

I drove up Layton Avenue and saw the building where a comedy club used to be located next to a Chinese restaurant years ago. The club closed and then it was a disco for a while but today the entire building was vacant. No restaurant. No disco. No jobs. No kidding.

This is all starting to hit close to home. Whatever boom years there were are going to be over for a while and everybody is going to feel this pinch. Personally I am not too worried about it because I have been a human cockroach my whole life but everyone else isn’t the underground warrior I’ve had to learn to be and I think there will be a mass panic. Soon.

I got the message today and am going to be even tighter than I’ve been in the past. I can see it getting even tougher than this and I need to plug up any money holes and find some new ways to make some more. I don’t want to be living in a park hunting for my dinner.

It did feel good to get my errands done today though. I’d let a few things get away from me like my car insurance and registration and it was coming down to the end of my grace periods. I paid my phone bill and also got supplies for my upcoming comedy classes too.

These are all things I don’t really enjoy so getting to them in a day felt good to clear out the stack. I also got an oil change and my transmission fluid was looking grungy so I took a few more minutes and a few more bucks and got all that taken care of as well. My car is running great and it’s now paid for too so little by little I’m getting myself back on track.

I don’t know of anyone else who is without credit card debt and has a paid off car but I do have that going for me right now and I’m thrilled about it. I don’t have much else but I have a clean financial slate at least in my immediate future and I’ve got some work for the next few months that won’t make me rich but will get me through. I won‘t be a vagrant.

Driving back home from Milwaukee I got a call from my friend Max in Springfield, IL. He told me he’s about to get fired from his radio job and that rocked my world even more than seeing two Ponderosas and a former comedy club closed down. I thought Max had a solid gig there and in fact we had talked about maybe me moving there to work with him.

He fell victim to the same scenario I’ve had happen all too often in radio. Some pinhead cowboy drifts into town and starts firing people to show who is the new sheriff in town. It never works out in the long run but for the short term it saves a few bucks for the station.

Max is as low as I’ve ever seen him and my heart goes out to him and then some. Max’s can is dented in the same places mine is and we have talked each other off the ledge many times. When I’m at my worst and want to suck a bullet only Max and my cousin Brett are able to get through to me. They get it where very few others do. I get Max’s pain as well.

He was very quiet and sounded like a beaten man. He’s tried to do the right thing all of his life just like I have and time and time again mud gets kicked in our faces and he’s now there again. He is clashing with his new G.M. and in that situation management will win. Max may be right but that doesn’t matter. The new idiot has the power and he’s in charge.

The sad part is the truth will come out later but it will be too late then. The imbeciles in my past who blew me out for no good reason all saw the stations go south until they lost control and they all got blown out later but that didn’t change my scenario. I lost my job.

Max has a wife and kids and has busted his ass to be a good father and husband and was always thinking of others as long as he’s been there. He put his family first and after all of our pain of getting fired at the Loop he dusted himself off and sucked it up and moved on.

Now it’s blowing up in his face and I can’t say I blame him for feeling low. If I had any clout or pull at all Max Bumgardner would be in charge of a big radio station because he would be great at it. He’s smart and trustworthy and one of the few people on earth I feel I can truly trust. My heart goes out to him and hearing his news really sank my spirits too.

Fun Day Monday

Monday October 13th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Manic Monday got even more manic when I overslept and missed my train into the city to be on WLS with Jerry's Kidders. I drove in but barely made it because of construction hell that stretched for miles. It was constant tap dancing on my brake pedal and I think I'll need a new pair of shoes soon - both for my feet and for my brakes. What a waste of time.

I was in such a hurry to get out the door that I forgot my list of stories and my computer too. I was going to stay downtown and prepare for my class at Zanies but for some reason I hurried out the door and forgot all about the things I needed the most. I remembered it as I was marooned in traffic and that made it even more unpleasant. Too late. I was the idiot.

Parking in downtown Chicago is always a hassle. There's a place near WLS but it costs $29 and I try to avoid that when I can but today I couldn't. It's a multi-story structure and I wound my way all the way to the top before I found one space and I had to squeeze into it with inches to spare on either side. Trying to do that in a hurry is as stressful as it gets.

I made it to the station with only a couple of minutes to spare but nobody was angry or stressed so I just smiled and shut my mouth. No sense getting everyone else into my vibe. I took a couple of deep breaths to clear my head and walked into the studio for the show.

Ken Sevara was off this week so we had John Landecker in his place. He's a legend in Chicago and we've had him ... Tim Slagle had never met him because last time it was Tim that was off when John was in so we had never been on as this particular group. John is such a pro that it didn't really matter though. He brought the goods and was great.

We all felt comfortable in there and the pacing was perfect and we exchanged jokes and insults and ad libs and the half hour flew by before we knew it. Nobody in the studio or in the audience knew I hadn't even looked at the stories for the week and just ad libbed it all the whole time. With John Landecker's presence that was possible and it worked out ok.

It's still a thrill to be on the air with a guy like that. He's truly a radio legend and also an easygoing and genuinely nice guy. We hit it off immediately the last time and it continued today without missing a beat. I feel comfortable in there with Jerry and with John but as it was happening I couldn't help but think how cool it was to be on WLS just hanging out.

After the show we all went out to lunch and were joined by Rick Kaempfer my writing partner on the movie script. He was Landecker's producer for ten years and I figured he'd have fun hanging out with everyone and he did. I loved the fact that I was able to hook up Tim Slagle with Jerry and put Rick in the mix today and this lunch was a result of all that.

Zanies was also a good vibe. I taught a class with Bill Gorgo and Mike Alexander and it was a writing class that really challenged us all. Then I headlined the show for a small but very appreciative audience who came up to me afterward to tell me how hilarious I was. It was a busy day but everything was fun. If I never get famous at least I had some fun days.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mothership Magic

Sunday October 12th, 2008 - Jackson, TN/Kenosha, WI

I left Jackson right at midnight and drove to the Funks Grove, IL rest area before I slept for a couple of hours. That was a 407 mile scoot but I wanted to put as many miles behind me as I could so I wouldn’t have to worry about cutting it too close for radio in Kenosha.

I knew this would be another long haul and it really was. My head was bobbing all over the place for about the last 50 miles before I got to the rest area but there wasn’t any other one within reasonable distance so I just kept pushing it. I won’t be surprised if I wind up a statistic someday but driving long distances is part of the job description. We all do this.

I’m putting a major dent in the Gorgeous George book Mike Preston gave me last week and the author goes into that very subject. Many of the wrestlers of that day had accidents because of the same reason. They had to get to the next town and the only way was by car and they had the same problem comedians do. It’s tiring to drive - especially after a show.

The total trip back was 612 miles and I slept for an hour and then headed over to do the Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha with Scott Markus and our new female co-host Lara Schaefer. She’s a friend of Scott’s and does a very nice job so we’re the new three headed monster that hosts the show. I like having the group of us in there.

Tonight’s guests were off the hook. This was the best show we’ve done and it made the 612 mile drive worth it and then some. We’re on from 8-10pm and the first hour we had a Hollywood horror director on named Scott Spiegel who was very energetic and funny but the real treat was in the second hour. We had an author on named Bonnie Mayer. WOW.

It takes a lot to make me tongue tied but she blew us all away. She wrote some books to document her experiences of having regular visits with aliens. Her first was back in 1976 and it occurred in New London, WI. A friend of hers went along too. It was fascinating.

She’s a very nice lady and didn’t sound like a kook at all. If she is I don’t care because I know great radio when I hear it and she was definitely that. She kept us riveted with great stories the whole time she was on and we’ll definitely have her back. This is why I loved the concept for this show when I was asked to do it. Tonight was total fun for two hours.

There is a big upcoming conference in Burlington, WI in two weeks that will feature the topics we talk about on the show and it just so happens I’ll be off and can go experience it and enjoy myself. I think George Noory from Coast to Coast AM is going to be there too.

This is totally becoming a newfound love. I’ve always enjoyed subjects of this nature so doing the show isn’t really work especially when I have two co-hosts like Scott and Lara who get what we’re doing and add to the show rather than just whine about getting paid.

I’m not sure if we’ll ever get paid for the show per se but I would like to find a waterfall of cash somewhere along the way. We’re starting to find our stride and tonight was great.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Ten In Tennessee

Saturday October 11th, 2008 - Jackson, TN

As far as the road goes this is a super gig. Other than the fact there were only 14 people at the show last night everything else is very accommodating. If I had to rate this gig on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d have to give it a 10 for reasons only a road comic would understand.

First, it’s VERY easy to find. It’s right off I-40 which is a major highway. The sign can be seen from the road and that makes it even easier. How many times have I had to get off a major highway and wander through a confusing mish-mash maze of unmarked and unlit country back roads trying to find some out of the way hell hole honkytonk? Too many.

Second, the hotel is about a block away and that can be seen from both the highway and the gig itself. I can choose to walk or drive to the gig from the hotel and that’s a choice to make for those comics who like to have a few cocktails. I’m not one of those but there are a lot who are and this gig lets them do that with no potential problems. It’s the perfect fit.

Third, the exit we’re off of has just about every restaurant chain represented that’s ever been a franchise. I think there are some that have closed everywhere else but are still open here for whatever reason. There are fast food and sit down restaurants in every direction.

There are also places like a Best Buy and a Dick’s Sporting Goods and many others that are right here should there be any kind of need while we’re here. If I get bored I can buy a DVD to watch and probably walk over to get it. Everything is very close and open late.

Also, they put us up in a place called The Guesthouse Inn. It’s nicer than a Super 8 or a Motel 6 and those aren’t horrible places. There is a Motel 6 two doors down and they still put us here so that’s always a good sign. It shows they’re thinking of us and I appreciate it very much. Any road dog would. This place costs a few bucks more but it’s a lot better.

My feature act this weekend is a guy named T. Ray out of Louisiana. He has a family to support and is a school teacher by day but does comedy when he can. He’s very funny and we had lunch today at a great buffet joint called Barnhill’s. WOW, what a fantastic meal.

We talked about comedy and he’s originally from New Orleans where comedy has been a tough sell over the years. Like Milwaukee, both towns are located next to water and are not on the way to anywhere. Both towns have people who are born there and die there but never really get out and explore and take risks and that’s never good for comedy crowds.

Back in the ’80s those two towns were very similar because it was difficult to get a club to last much less get started. Milwaukee was late getting it’s first comedy club and so was New Orleans. We talked about that and agreed since we stayed with it we’re both ‘lifers’.

I’m going to drive all night after the show tonight so I’m making my entry early. I hope it’s packed tonight and the club makes money and this gig doesn’t die because it’s got all the perks road comics could ask for. The only thing I don’t like about it is the long drive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Money Back Guarantee

Friday October 10th, 2008 - Spring Lake, MI/Jackson, TN

I knew today would be a drive-a-thon and it was. 732 miles of boring highway between Spring Lake, MI and Jackson, TN. I left right before 9am and didn’t get into Jackson until 9pm for a 9:30 show. Normally I don’t like to cut it that close but today I knew I would.

My most important stop was at the bank in Petersburg, IL to pick up my cashier’s check for the money I let my friend Max use as collateral on his business loan. He’d promised to get it back to me in October and he made good on his word. He’s one of very few I trust.

Time after time I’ve gotten burned but I’m still a giver and I wish I didn’t need this cash but I totally do. It’s all I’ve got in the world right now and the way the world is going I’ve got more than a lot of people do so I better keep it. I have to pay some bills but I will save the rest of it and use it to finance both Uranus Factory Outlet and my comedy classes too.

Part of this money was willed to me by a comic named George Miller. He was very nice to me and we were friends for years but he was also David Letterman’s friend too. George passed away but had some huge medical bills apparently and Letterman paid all of them.

If it weren’t for that I would have gotten zilch and quite frankly I didn’t expect anything but I sure was grateful for it. George was very funny and I liked him a lot. We hit it off on a gig and stayed friends for years. One New Year’s Eve I was able to get him a nice gig in Chicago that paid him $6500. That’s how much he left me when he died. I was shocked.

I cherished George’s friendship and also that he thought of me. I have never met David Letterman and don’t know how to get in touch with him but if I do I will personally thank him for his generosity because that in turn helped me. The money has already helped Max get his business going and now I’m going to use it to create a course to train comedians.

I met Eddie Brill a while back and he’s the talent booker for the David Letterman show. I briefly told him the story and when I get the product done I’ll contact him again and see if I can send one to Dave and at least thank him for doing what he did. It was very classy.

Eddie Brill is a classy guy too. He was very approachable and is a comic too so he has a feel for how this all works. Whether I ever get on the show or not doesn’t mean much but getting a chance to say thanks does. Sure I’d love to get on but that isn’t my focus here.

All the way down in the car I was making notes and planning out how the course would look and sound and dividing it up into lessons and it made a lot of the time go by quicker than it would have if I’d just sat there doing natural bong hits of fresh dung for 700 miles.

The show tonight was a waste of time. There were 14 people and one of them was a guy with A.D.D. who was walking around and talking the whole time. He distracted everyone onstage and off and I did my 55 minutes and said good night. That was a difficult task but I didn’t worry about it. I’ve been there before. My cash situation concerns me a lot more.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spring Lake Fever

Thursday October 9th, 2008 - Spring Lake, MI

Today was a perfect weather day and I actually enjoyed my 238 mile drive. I stopped in Ann Arbor to have lunch with Kate Brindle. She’s a sweetheart and I always enjoy seeing her. We had Chinese food and talked about life and comedy and enjoyed the weather too.

On the way to Spring Lake I stopped to fill up my tank in Lansing and it brought back a flood of bittersweet memories. I had my first radio job there at WMMQ back in 1990 and I wish in retrospect I’d have turned it down. That whole experience detoured my life path.

Had I focused on comedy only I’d no doubt be a lot farther along than I am now but I’m where I am because of what I chose and moving to Lansing to be a morning guy was what I chose then. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. I took a lap and then headed over to Spring Lake.

How many times have I played the Holiday Inn in Spring Lake, MI? However many it is it was one more tonight. This place has been doing comedy for many years and I have had some hellish nights here but tonight wasn‘t one of them. It was another night at the office.

There have been several bar managers here over the years but the guy now has been at it for a while and he’s the best one they’ve had. They did have a super hot blond for a while but she partied too much and they had to fire her. I remember one time I was here and she took me in to her office to get paid by grabbing my crotch and walking me like a pull toy.

I doubt if Holiday Inn management enjoyed that as much as I did and she never fit what anyone would picture a Holiday Inn bar manager to be but DAMN she was a scorcher. To have Spring Lake on the calendar meant a chance to see what wild stunt she’d pull next.

The guy now is very smart and runs a smooth operation. He knows the town and how to please his customers and whatever they’re paying him is a bargain because he’s been very dependable for several years now. The pay for this gig is $50 less than everywhere else in Michigan but that’s how it’s always been. They have a budget and that’s what they’ll pay.

The degree of difficulty can be very high here. It’s a long skinny room with a little stage in the far corner away from the bar. They don’t charge a cover so that means loud talking is usually part of the equation along with hellacious second hand smoke. Michigan hasn’t enacted the smoking ban and I forgot just how brutal that can be. I smell like a Marlboro.

There’s a pretty good sound system but the lighting is terrible. There’s one stage light to have to stand in to let the audience see any kind of facial expression and it prohibits how I like to work. I like to be free up on stage but tonight I had to stand stationery in one spot.

I challenge anyone to stand in one spot and rattle off material to hold the attention of an audience full of people who all got in free and make them laugh consistently. I did it for a whole hour and as I was up there I realized how much I’ve grown over the years. I’ve had my share of nights here where I didn’t get them but tonight I took charge and kicked ass.