Thursday, January 31, 2008

Under The Weather

Wednesday January 30th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Thank God I don’t have a day job. For whatever stupid decisions I’ve made in my life at least I didn’t do that. Every time I’ve tried to work for someone else I ended up miserable. I thought about that today as I hung out at the house and got some work done on my own. I felt a cold and/or flu bug coming on and thankfully I had nowhere to be the whole day.

That kind of stuff doesn’t fly at a day job. Feeling sick? TOO BAD. Get in here and get it done. That’s why we’re paying you the paltry wage that’s just enough to own your soul. It always bugged me when I had a job that my services could be had for such a low wage and there wasn’t much I could do about it because I really needed the money. It still rots.

To a certain extent I spent years doing it as a comedian too but at least that was my call. I am a business owner, sales person and product all in one package delivering myself over and over again around the country dropping off my load of jokes. But at least I’m the boss and if I feel sick one day I can stay home if I want and nobody yells at me. I like that a lot.

I have some gigs this week starting tomorrow and I thought it would be a good idea just to rest up so I can keep bringing strong shows. I’ve been on a roll lately but I’m not about to get cocky any time soon. I’ve still got a lot to improve on and I won’t walk through any of the shows this week. I need to use my stage time wisely and I intend to do exactly that.

Today I sorted through the 5000 count box of baseball cards I bought last week for $20. I’m not going to get rich on them but I did get a great value for my money. I found a lot of star cards with recognizable names that aren’t worth much to hard core card collectors but would make great giveaway bonuses when I sell merchandise after shows. I can use them.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am going to be a sports card dealer and not fight it anymore. I’ve dabbled with it my whole life and I really do enjoy it even though I know it isn’t ‘stable’. What is stable? Nothing in my life has ever been close to being stable. From my earliest memories I’ve been on shaky ground so why not just embrace what I enjoy?

To me standup comedy is stable. I know how to make a living at it and so far I haven’t had to live in a cardboard box under the freeway and bum change to get something to eat. I think the words of my grandfather telling me to get a civil service job ever since I could walk has had a lasting affect on me. I never wanted to do that but he always harped on it.

I tried to please him and did it for one day and then quit to do what I’m doing now. It’s been a bumpy ride to get to this point but I’ve sure had some amazing adventures that I’d never have had behind a desk working for the City or County of Milwaukee. I am finally starting to look at myself as a success for just surviving this long doing comedy. I did it!

Assuming I would have taken my grandpa’s route and worked for the city I might have had problems taking a day off today to rest up and prevent my oncoming illness. Plus it’s just plain COLD and I didn’t feel like leaving the house. Try telling that to a supervisor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Illinois Trollway

Tuesday January 29th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Not much going on today but I did do something I said I’d never do. I bought one of the Illinois Tollway transponders for my car. I’ve been resisting it for years but after having it be a hassle for so long I just decided to be done with it. Now the government can keep me under surveillance even more but at least I don’t have to deal with the apes in the booths.

I have a complete disdain for those people and I don’t hide it. In my warped mind it’s a loser mentality that takes a job in a toll booth. With all their brains, looks, hopes, dreams, education and luck all they could come up with in life is sitting in a booth sniffing a lot of exhaust blow by and going nowhere while their brains get smaller and asses get bigger.

Maybe I’m wrong and I hope I am but that’s the vibe I get from those people. And have you ever seen anyone in a toll booth you want to ask out for a date? I may not be a looker myself but those people are one step away from being rejected at a bus station. They’re all unshaven and miserable looking and then they don’t even hurry up to give me my change.

I’m in a hurry because I’ve got dreams to catch. I need a receipt because I pay my taxes and keep records and do my best to live an above board life with a clear conscience. It’s a constant struggle to make ends meet every month but I’m out there slugging away anyway trying to get my piece of the American dream. I don’t need to be delayed by a toll troll.

Personally I think the whole damn system is a giant scam. Where does that money go? I remember riding on the tollway as a kid with my grandpa and asking him why we needed to stop and put money in the little basket that looked like a urinal. He told me ‘Because in ten years when the roads are paid off they’ll take them away.’ I remember that even today.

Gramps died in ‘81 and there’s no sign of them ever getting taken away. Where is all of that cash going? Is there EVER a discount? No. Not once. How do I know that money has not been used to throw a Tupperware party in Springfield? I’m a paying customer and I’m entitled to a printout, right? Everyone just plows through and doesn’t ask any questions.

I don’t know why I get so worked up over the whole paid road system but it really boils my spittle. I have all kinds of alternate routes I take to avoid paying tolls and I would take a dirt road through a cornfield in a tornado just to avoid paying that stupid buck toll. It’s a pet peeve of mine and I had to put that pet to sleep. I’m now another transponder number.

This isn’t the only thing that twists my nipples either. I’m not fond of the grocery stores that keep track of how many Oreos I buy either. Why do they have to know? What’s next, a microchip in my toilet seat to see if I’m eating enough fiber? It’s only going to get a lot worse and there isn’t much anybody can do about it so at least I got a chance to vent a bit.

Other than that it was a pretty good day. I had lunch with Marc Schultz and talked about all kinds of stuff to market to the corporate world for getting gigs and that could be a plus for both of us. I’ll need his help if those gigs come in and if they do I’ll still avoid tolls.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Taking Action

Monday January 28th, 2008 - Chicago, IL/Milwaukee, WI/Chicago/IL

Lots of running around today but it was all productive. I got up at 5:30am to make it to my train on time to do Jerry’s show on WLS. I printed out the news stories we were going to be talking about and used my train time to write jokes. What a great thing the train is. It lets me relax and not have to fight traffic. When we got to Chicago I was totally prepared.

The segment went very well today. The other comedians were prepared too and this was a great week for stories. This is a good exercise for us in joke writing and it’s a nice bit of exposure too. We all enjoy it so it makes the train trip and getting up that early worth it. If it wasn’t fun I wouldn’t do it. There is also a feeling of accomplishment that‘s there too.

After the show I had a lunch with Bill Klaproth who was our assistant program director when I was at the Loop. He stayed on with the new company when we got fired and that’s amazing. We all thought he would be the first one to get blasted out but he’s the only one that ended up staying. Everyone else got das boot but that’s radio. It’s completely insane.

I don’t have a problem with Bill and in fact I liked working with him. He’s my age and has a family so I don’t want to see him have to suffer like my other two partners Max and Spike did. They’re still being affected by it and that was in 2004. It really wiped us all out at a bad time and those are the challenges in life that define if someone is a winner or not.

Bill is still at the Loop and is actually up for a promotion apparently. He’s friends with Kipper McGee who is the program director at WLS who I’ve known for many years. It’s a big inbred radio family and having connections never hurts. I am smart to rekindle one with Bill and eventually I could have it pay off down the road. This is all good business.

On the way home on the train I used my time to outline the book idea I had yesterday. I thought about what chapters I’d want to include and what information I thought would be useful. Then I got home and took it a step farther. I got in my car and went to a thrift store to search for a copy of the actual ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ book.

I haunt thrift stores and have seen that book there time and time again. Why pay the full price when I don’t even want to read it? I just want to see how it’s laid out so I can model it for my own book which will have nothing to do with the topic. I just think it’s a winner of a title and that’s everything in the book business. I wanted to take action on this today.

The first two thrift stores I went to didn’t have a copy but I didn’t flinch. I know I have seen it time and time again so I kept the faith. I pictured getting a copy and I knew I’d get one eventually and that’s exactly what I did. I went up to Milwaukee to get some stuff out of my cousin Brett’s house I’d been storing for years and found one at a thrift store there.

I also found copies of ‘The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’ and ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’. Those were both huge sellers and for .79 each I now own those too. It’s an educational process and I am studying everything about what made those books sell well.

I’m sure content is part of it but by far not everything. Marketing and presentation and a lot of intangibles had something to do with it just like in comedy. I’m sure the best selling books aren’t always the best written books just like the most popular comedians aren’t the funniest in many cases. I don’t have to have the best book ever written. I want it to SELL.

Does the world really need another book? Movie? CD? Comedian? No, not really but if I am going to make a mark as an entertainer I need to come up with products and then not only sell them but use them to sell me to people I don’t know. This is all a sales process. I am seeing the big picture now whereas for years and years I only cared about being funny.

I don’t like the results that it produced by living that way so now I’m changing it around so I can change my results. Having an idea for a book was good but I was proud of myself for getting right in the car today and finding a copy of the Men Are From Mars book so it can turn the idea into a reality. Taking action is what it’s all about and I’m glad I did it.

While I was in Milwaukee I got a call from my friend Ross Bennett who was in town at Zanies last week and had a layover day. Ross was very helpful to me when I started and is a fantastic comedian himself. He lives in New York and when I go there he’s the one who I stay with and we always have fun. He is also a dented can and we get along very well.

Ross was going to see an improv show with his son Nash at a place near Wrigley Field called Improv Olympic. I was in Milwaukee and felt like the Blues Brothers trying to get to Chicago on time for the show. I made it within five minutes and I really thought it was very entertaining. I work so much myself I don’t get a chance to enjoy other performers.

After the show Ross and Nash and I went out to eat and talked about a lot of things. It’s always fun to hang out with Ross because he’s been through some hard times and has the same kind of luck I do. He got kicked off the Bob and Tom radio show years ago and then he eventually got back on…the same day I got kicked off. He was sitting next to me in the studio when my little incident happened and he was very supportive and helpful that day.

He’s doing the best he can to be a good father too. Nash is 22 and his wife died when he was just a baby so it hasn’t been easy but he’s truly done the best he can and I respect him totally. Life is not easy and comedy makes it even harder but Ross has taken the challenge and done well. He’s one of my favorite comedians and favorite people too. He’s a mentor.

There was no showcase at Zanies tonight but it starts up again next week. I thought this would be a night off but I ended up running around more than if I worked. I’m glad I took action though and I don’t regret it a bit. Everything I did today had a purpose and I had an immediate payback. I wrote jokes that got on the radio. I found my book. I visited friends.

These are the kinds of days I need to have again and again. I got a lot done and if I keep it up I’ll finally start to put a dent in all those projects I say I want to get to. It’s about the ACTION and not just thinking about it but thinking about it is the first step. Sometimes it all becomes one big blur. Thumbs up for today but now I have the rest of the week to fill.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Baseball Card Fever

Sunday January 27th 2008 - Milwaukee, WI

I love sports. I love sports cards. I’m hooked. Is that so bad? I suppose it could be crack and hookers and that would be real trouble. These two are hard enough. I loved playing as a kid and collecting cards went along with it. My dreams of playing are long gone but I’m still a collector deep down inside even though I know it’s only pieces of old cardboard.

There is something nostalgic about seeing the pictures I burned into my head as a kid as I devoured all the statistics while I rotted my teeth out with a big pink blob of bubblegum. Even the older cards that I didn’t collect have appeal because they are historic. Seeing the players from a different era is very entertaining and each card is a little piece of history.

I told myself all those things as I spent the day at Gonzaga Hall in West Allis, WI. I had not been to a Gonzaga card show in quite a while and today was the day since I had a gig last night in town and was here already. Yesterday I stopped at a Salvation Army store for a few minutes to kill some time between appointments and I relit my flame for this stuff.

There was a 5,000 count box of baseball cards from the mid 80s for $20 and I bought it. It had a lot of stars from that era and Cubs and White Sox and lots of players I remember so I gambled the twenty bucks. Most of the cards I will give away to friends with kids but I know I can make my money back and then some. There are some decent cards in there.

I hadn’t intended to buy a big load of cards but this was a good cheap deal so I did. I did intend to go to the Gonzaga show today to meet up with my friend Richard Caan. Richard is my age and he and his friend Dennis Barrett are wheeler dealers when it comes to cards in the Milwaukee area. Dennis is my age too and we’ve all been friends for years. Dennis has a day job and does cards for a hobby. Richard quit his day job to sell cards full time.

Both guys are very honest and I like hanging out with them. We all love cards and since we’re all the same age we have very similar tastes. The reason I wanted to meet up today was for Richard to help walk me through the Ebay thing. I wanted to see if it’s worth it to get my own Ebay store to sell Uranus Factory Outlet stuff along with some old cards too.

We hung out at the show and talked about sports and cards and saw the same faces that have been coming to the show for years and years. I talked to a guy named Mark I’ve had conversations with for about 20 years and for a million bucks I couldn’t tell you what his last name is. We see each other at card shows and enjoy our talks and then we all leave.

I got the itch again as I walked around and saw all that beautiful old cardboard. I looked at everyone’s setup and admired what they had but wasn’t jealous or envious. That’s not a factor at all. I just took a day off to forget about everything and lose myself in cards again.

I know I should have used today to work on Uranus or comedy but I didn’t. I did get all I needed to know from Richard and Dennis about Ebay and that made the trip worth it all. Plus I had a lot of just plain FUN. Once in a while that takes precedence and today was it.

Comedians Are From Uranus

Saturday January 26th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI

I awoke early this morning with an idea that’s bouncing around my head like a lotto ball. I knew it was a direct hit when I had the idea to start Uranus Factory Outlet in September and today I had the exact same feeling when I awoke with an idea to write a book entitled ‘Comedians Are From Uranus’. Now I just need to figure out how to fill up all the pages.

That won’t be a problem. The problem will be how to fit it into my already hectic out of control schedule and get it finished along with my other growing list of incomplete stuff I haven’t been able to accomplish. I don’t care though. This is a good idea. I have needed a book for a long time and this is the right title at the right time. Filling it up isn’t the issue.

It almost doesn’t matter what I put in it. Just the fact that I have a physical book to show people is the key. Most people won’t even read it. I’m not insulted by that fact at all. It’s a common practice even for me. I have two full shelves of books I haven’t read yet but I am still glad I bought them. Whether I do or don’t I fully intend to get to them at some point.

I need to come up with a nice cover that looks professional and fill it with something to go along with the theme. ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ is obviously a fantastic title but how many people have actually read it? I’m sure millions have but a lot more haven’t and that’s what I’m betting on here. I just need to be known for a good title.

I will put it on the pile of things to do which is growing by the day. No time today for it as I had appointments all over town. I had lunch with Tony Dunigan who used to visit me when I ran my professional wrestling business back in 1992. He was supportive back then but I hadn‘t seen him in years and then he saw my name and came to see a comedy show.

We’ve stayed in touch as it’s a lot easier now than it was in 1992. I was planning to buy him lunch but he popped instead. That was very classy. And tasty. He’s very positive and that’s exactly the kind of people I want to be around. Buying me lunch was something he didn’t have to do but I greatly appreciate it. I do it when I can and it feels great in return.

Russ Martin is one of my former students and he and I had dinner at the casino buffet. It was the daily double because he paid there too. I was going to pop but he did and again it was very flattering to have it happen. People who pop for a meal usually aren’t insincere. I have learned to be a better accepter of kindness and today I had two very nice examples.

I had two shows tonight at the Potawatomi Casino. The first was a company party in the banquet room and the late show was back in the Northern Lights Theatre. I got bumped in the early show because Loretta Lynn was booked but I don’t mind at all. She’s a legend.

Watching her work was an education and I loved it. She’s 74 and looks great and could still bring it on stage. She took requests all night and the fans loved her and even though I am not a huge fan of old style country I loved watching her work. I can see why she’s the legend she is. There’s just a presence there that takes a lifetime to blossom. She’s got it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Free Day

Friday January 25th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

A rare Friday off and I don’t like it. I guess I am a workaholic after all. I’ve been on my game lately on stage and having a weekend night off is uncomfortable. I wish I was out in a club somewhere working on my show. I’ll be working two shows tomorrow though and am booked next weekend so this is a blip on the radar. Or is it? I’ve got to refocus myself.

I am way behind on a lot of things most notably my Uranus Factory Outlet business. It’s kind of taking shape and I’m doing a lot of things right but I don’t have that singleness of mind I think I need to really succeed. I’m not totally focused on it and I can tell I’m not at the top of my game in anything right now except comedy but that’s not what I planned on.

I had planned on taking much of this year off to work on establishing and developing an up and running real live mail order business. I can still accomplish that but not in the way I’ve been doing it so far this year. It’s still early but if I don’t switch up my plans I’ll drift off in who knows what direction and lose my momentum. I don’t want that so I am going to revamp my plan and go in the right direction. This whole year will be trial and error.

The main problem I’m having is that there are too many things to do and not enough of a set plan or time to do them all. No matter what I do something else falls behind and then I find myself frustrated and discouraged. The only way to do this correctly is to make up a plan and work that plan religiously. Drifting day to day like I have been isn’t how to do it.

I saw a very interesting quote from Vince Lombardi at the Packer Hall Of Fame just this week. It said ‘We will diligently strive for perfection knowing we won’t hit it but we will achieve excellence along the way.’ I think that’s it. I heard it and didn’t see it written but I think that’s pretty close. I get the point though. He was all about full out effort. I get that.

Too bad I haven’t been giving it. I’ve been busy and having fun and doing a lot of good things so far this year but I know I can kick it up a notch or two or six. I have a lot of nice people around me in a lot of areas and they have been very complimentary and I really do appreciate it but I know in my heart I can do WAY better. I have extremely high goals for myself and my expectations are a lot higher than anyone else’s for what I can accomplish.

My comedy act is humming along at the moment and I’ve been having strong shows but I know in my heart I can take it to a whole new level. There is a lot more inside of me and getting to it takes hard work but I love every second of it. This is my life’s love and I have always enjoyed the creative part of comedy. How can I split time with this and Uranus? It has to be done with a precise plan and it will take an extra focused effort to achieve it all.

Eventually both will come together and I will use the Uranus business to get known as a comedian. I thought I was going to use radio to do that but it never worked out that way. I think being on Jerry’s show on WLS will do more for my comedy than when I was at any of the stations where I was actually employed. This is coming at a good time and if I have a chance to stay on the air it all could work out in the end. I need to just keep showing up.

One guy who is having things work out quite well is Jerry’s son Tanner. That kid has it all and he’s only 15. He’s a good looking kid with two parents that love him and he’s got the world by the gonads and I hope he knows it. I went to watch his swim meet today and not only is he a 9th grader on the varsity team but he sang the national anthem too. Unreal.

Not only that he nailed it acapella and all the girls went nuts. His voice didn’t crack one time. He’s in honors class and the swing choir and last football season the very first time he touched the ball he ran back a punt for 73 yards. Everything the kid touches turns right to gold and I’ve never seen anything like it. The thing is he’s a great kid and isn’t cocky.

We all had dinner after his meet and I sat next to him and could see all the hot girls pass by and wink at him and smile and wave and it was like he didn’t even notice it. If I could notice it how come he couldn’t? This kid is truly Mr. Lucky and I hope he doesn’t have a problem handling it all. That’s a lot of things to put in front of a 15 year old kid’s mind.

No wonder Britney Spears is out of control and her 16 year old sister is pregnant. I see a parallel with Tanner in that they were good looking kids who had talent and abilities but a major difference is that Jerry and his wife Ann don’t let it get out of control like Britney’s parents did. They keep all their kids in line and that’s not easy to do. Tanner will be fine.

I can’t help but be a little envious though. I’m happy for Tanner now but I wish I could have had a little bit of that back in high school. He’s only a freshman now and is setting a pace to be super kid by the time he is an upper classman. Does he have to get ALL the fun and accolades? High school years can be euphoria or total hell and most of us get the hell.

Tanner has been dealt a great hand of cards in life and I don’t think he’s going to screw it up but a lot of kids do exactly that. It’s a whole lot different out in the real world and it can pop somebody’s bubble very quickly. Maybe my tough upbringing prepared me for a life on the road but now this late into the game seeing someone like Tanner and all that’s going right with him makes me feel like I got cheated. He’s getting a chance to enjoy it.

I still do enjoy comedy though. That time on stage doesn’t get old even though all of the other stuff around it totally does. Traveling isn’t the same fun adventure it once was and it is getting more difficult as I get older. Dealing with bookers and incompetent openers and drunken hecklers never was fun and my patience is getting shorter by the minute for it all.

But I can’t quit. What else can I do? Even starting my Uranus business is based in being funny and that’s what I was born to do. Tanner Agar was meant to do a lot of other things apparently and I’m thrilled for such a wonderful kid getting all the tools he’s gotten but it makes me feel like whatever kind of God is out there left a few out of my goodie bag way back when I was born and I’ve had to stumble through life with a lot less to work with.

Nobody said life was fair and that still pisses me off. Why not? Wouldn’t life be better if it was? But it isn’t and in this lifetime there’s not a damn thing any of us can do about any of it. Good for guys like Tanner. Bad for most of the rest of us. But alas, life still goes on.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cold Night Hot Show

Thursday January 24th, 2008 - Vernon Hills, IL

The bitter cold snap continues outside but inside Zanies in Vernon Hills the climate was red hot. I was a last minute replacement for the show tonight because the other comic that was supposed to work had another engagement. Stuff like that happens a lot and I’ve been on both sides of the coin. It’s no big deal on a Thursday but I was glad to pick up the gig.

I was even gladder when I got on stage and saw what a fantastic audience they were. It’s nights like this that keep all of us going in comedy. I could do no absolutely no wrong and everything I said got laughs. They were in a groove and I was in a groove and we made an exciting chemistry that neither one of us wanted to end. I ended up doing an extra long set tonight and nobody minded. Everything was working and I dug in and gave them my best.

I wish I could bottle nights like this and take a hit of it when I’m feeling low. This is the pure magic that I have a hard time putting into words. It has to be experienced live and in person to fully appreciate the depth of pure electricity that’s in a room when it’s like that. I loved every second of it and I wish it never had to end. Nights like this bathe my soul.

A lot of things come together in a situation like this. For one thing I’m totally relaxed at Zanies because I know everyone so well. They know me and I’m more like club staff than a comedian. That stage is a second home to me and there are no worries with having to be on my guard about anything. I know the sound system and the stage layout like my room.

The opening comedians were both not only good but they also complemented me well. I thought the show built extremely well and none of us stepped on each other. The emcee is a guy named Jack Calhoun who is putting his act together and progressing nicely and he’s happy to have the work and was very enthusiastic. The feature act was Denise Ramsden.

I really like Denise and it was I who recommend her to be booked tonight because she’s just back from L.A. and can use the work. Plus I think she’s very funny and is a perfect fit going in front of me. None of us stepped on each other and everyone had a good show. To have a show build correctly is a big part of the comedy business many bookers overlook.

For whatever reason it fell together tonight and so did the audience. They were on a roll from the start of the show and by the time I got on I could feel they were ready to go up to the next level and that’s where I took them. They were right there the whole night and it’s a cakewalk when that happens. I just laid back and brought my A game as long as I could.

I was supposed to do 40-45 minutes but I ended up doing 56 just because it was fun. It’s a chance to stretch stuff out and ad lib and bounce in and out of bits just to see where they will lead my brain next. It’s fun to be on the edge because it makes me focus on all that is needed to get myself out of this hole. I know I have a strong closer so that makes it easier.

This was one of the best nights I’ve had in a while. It was fun for everyone and I’m in a positive and upbeat mood headed into the weekend. Shows like this keep my hope alive.

Opposite Reactions

Wednesday January 23rd, 2008 - Green Bay, WI

I can’t figure life out. I got kicked off the Bob and Tom radio show a while back for my now infamous Tuscaloosa, AL comedy road story that was printed in the book ‘I Killed’. They physically removed me from the building and I am persona non grata to this day. If I had known it would have caused that much of a stink I would have shut my big fat mouth.

What really sticks in my craw is that they’re the ones that asked me to tell it. I told it on the air and didn’t swear once even though there was a lot of swearing in the actual story. I was pretty proud of myself for being able to skirt the actual words on short notice and still be able to get the vibe across but it sure put everyone in a tizzy. I still have no idea why.

This morning I was a guest on WAPL ‘The Rockin’ Apple’ in Appleton, WI and I was a little gun shy when they asked me to tell it again on the Rick and Len show. Apparently it was Rick’s favorite story in the book and he’s been waiting a couple of years to meet me. I was very flattered to hear him say it on the air and I could feel his sincerity. He meant it.

They asked me to tell the story and again I dodged all the dangerous parts but still told it well enough to get the point across and they went nuts. It’s amazing how I was able to get two completely polarized reactions to exactly the same story. Bob and Tom threw me out on the street and Rick and Len treated me like I was a comedy hero. I wish I could find an in between point somewhere but I’ve always had trouble doing that. I polarize people.

I’m getting a little tired of it but I don’t know what I can do to change it. I’m just myself but that isn’t always good enough for some people. The ones that don’t like me have been very vocal about it over the years and I guess that’s they’re right but when it’s somebody I didn’t do anything to it puzzles me. I have a few people I’m not fond of but I tend to leave them alone rather than look for confrontation. That’s not always what I get back in return.

Bob and Tom were really mean to me and I didn’t intentionally do anything to cause the reaction I got. They asked me to tell the story so I did. That set off their fury and I had my head handed to me on the way out of the building. I still don’t know why they had to do it like that but they did. They said they’d NEVER have me back and that’s a little bit harsh.

Bob and Brian and Dave Luczak in Milwaukee treat me the same way. They won’t ever have me on their show even if I was the hottest thing in show business and I can’t seem to get them to change their minds. I have tried to apologize and make nice and shake a hand or kiss an ass or whatever I need to do to end the war but none of them will speak to me.

My sister Tammy is the same way. She has a major bug up her bung hole and has blown me off for almost fifteen years. That blows my mind. I can’t believe I can get anyone that upset but I seem to have done it quite nicely in these cases even though I didn’t mean to. I try to be a nice person and think of others and do all the things we’re supposed to do but I still get people that don’t see it that way and it’s almost funny to see how negative a way they react. I don’t claim to be perfect but at least I think I should have a second chance.

But that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. Bob and Tom don’t need me for their show and I realize that. Neither does Bob and Brian or Dave Luczak. There are a lot of comedians and a lot of radio shows and nobody fits with all of them. Comedy clubs are the same way. Nobody works all the clubs in the country and I have a couple of those too.

One of them happens to be here in the Green Bay area. It’s called Skyline Comedy Café and it’s in Appleton. By all accounts it’s a great club with packed audiences and I’ve only heard wonderful things about it but for whatever reason I will never get a chance to work it. The owners for some reason have decided that I am the antichrist and that’s it for me.

The funny thing is I’ve never even met those guys. I tried writing a letter and last year when I was in Las Vegas one of the owners was there and I started to walk over to at least shake his hand and meet him personally but he turned on his heels and walked away from me and left me standing there. Again, it made me laugh to think I could be THAT hated.

He didn’t have to book me but I wanted a chance to stand belly to belly and give him an opportunity to tell me to my face what it is that upset him so much. I’d do a super job for him at his club but I guess I’m not going to get the chance. I think it’s all insane but that’s not my call. Those people have their reasons and even though I tried to correct it I can’t.

At least I know in my heart I tried to make it right with all of them. From my father who was nothing but mean to JD of the Comedy Café in Milwaukee who had a ‘benefit’ when I had my car accident in 1993 and kept all the money for himself. I voiced my opinions to each of them and when there was a disagreement I made it known but they didn’t budge.

What else can I do but keep going? Wasting time on all these people is taking time from what I’m good at. For every Bob and Tom who think I’m a butt head I’ve got a big list of people who think I’m hilarious like the Rick and Len show and WLS in Chicago and Jim Stone and Double T in Rockford and The D List at ESPN Radio in Milwaukee and more.

Rick and Len couldn’t have been any nicer today. They loved the story and treated both of us as if we were big stars and that’s how it’s supposed to be We thanked them and then headed over to Lambeau Field to take a tour of the Packer Hall Of Fame. I hadn’t seen the new one since they remodeled it and this was the perfect week to do that. It was empty.

The show at the Oneida Casino was very good. My name and picture was on all the ads and it felt really good to know I was part of the plan for once other than ‘Hey, can you do a few minutes over here while we mop up after the dog act?’ They made us feel important and who doesn’t enjoy that? Mike Weldon was the opening act and he felt the same way.

Mike is a very nice guy and is my age. He does impressions and had to get out of it for a while because of a small little thing called…cancer. Wow. I thought I had a few problems but when he told me that I clammed right up. He’s doing well now and we got along great the whole time. He loved the Hall of Fame and we went to Chili John’s for lunch and that was a treat for both of us. Bob and Tom don’t know what they’re missing. I’m a nice guy.

The Wacky Uncle

Tuesday January 22nd, 2008 - Stevens Point, WI/Green Bay, WI

Day off today so I decided to go see my cousin Leah and her husband Rob up in Stevens Point, WI. I had to be in Green Bay tonight so I could do radio tomorrow morning and it’s not that far of a drive from Stevens Point. Their daughter Janine just had a birthday a few days ago and I wanted to take her out for pizza. She’s a great kid and deserves some fun.

Any time I can add to a kid’s life I always do it. Those are the memories that burn into a life the most and years later they’re lived all over again. Janine is a sweet kid and we have many good memories together. I remember when she was born and I usually see her about three or four times a year. I try to always make it special in some way so it’s a memory.

She just turned 14 last week and she’s not a kid anymore. She’s almost as tall as me and could probably take me out with a couple of punches. She’s growing into a young woman now and kid stuff is getting passé to her. Now she loves Tony Romo and thinks he’s cute. Gag. Puke. I had to bite my lip but I did. We had good pizza, a lot of laughs and big fun.

That was the missing ingredient of my whole family growing up - fun. Nobody had any and now all these years later most of them are dead and what did it get them? They’re still dead but those unpleasant memories are still stinking up my memory closet and what for? I’ve really tried to live exactly the opposite of those people but they made it very difficult.

Leah and I talked about that over pizza. Her father and my father are brothers and she is trying to raise Janine to not have the lives we had as kids. They moved to Stevens Point to start a life of their own and I can’t blame them for that. Now her father is nearing the end and it doesn’t look like he sees his mistakes. He still thinks he did a great job as a parent.

It amazes me how that is a common story with idiot parents. My father never EVER had any regrets about his parental accomplishments. He always looked for anything else to put the blame on other than his lack of effort and even to the end he was defiant. Now it’s the same story with his brother and the funny thing is they never got along in life. It’s goofy.

My friend Max in Springfield has the same problem. His father is a callous lout just like mine and he is indignantly waiting for Max to apologize to HIM. How insane is that? The same feelings I have are shared by a lot of others apparently and it’s all a big waste of life. Those dunce bucket parents are never going to change their ways so it’s best to move on.

But even though it’s best to move on that’s not always the easiest. All of us want to get that pat on the back of approval from our parents. It’s hard wired inside us. How many of us actually get it? I don’t know but I know it’s not me and never will be. That’s why I am always trying to add to the lives of others, especially kids. I want to break that evil chain.

Janine has had a good life so far. She’s happy and well adjusted and won’t have to sit at Christmas wondering if she should blow her head off. That’s GOOD. I am glad I had a bit part in that along the way. I might not ever get to be a parent but I’m a great wacky uncle.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Changing Role

Monday January 21st, 2008 - Chicago, IL

A Manic Monday for the King Of Uranus. I almost missed my train to the city to be on Jerry’s show on WLS and had to run a block to catch it. I thought my heart might pop like a ketchup pack and realized just how out of shape I really am. Bye bye young buck years. I’m easing into geezer-hood. When my AARP card comes in the mail I‘m off to Denny’s.

Where did the years go? Throughout my life I have been the young pup in most cases. It just worked out that way. I am a little brother and even as a kid most of my friends were a few years older. Then I got into comedy and radio and I was always the kid there too. The people I hung out with were older in age but I felt comfortable with them intellectually.

Now I’m starting to feel the years creep up and they took me by surprise. I was too busy working and trying to survive to be able to fully enjoy my youth and now it’s slipping like a transmission in one of my beater cars and I’m checking the glove box for my warranty. I am acquiring a new role in life and I can feel myself slipping into it quietly. But it fits me.

I really noticed it tonight at Zanies. Hosting the new talent showcases has grown on me. At first I did it because nobody else wanted to do it. I was teaching classes anyway so the logical person to do it was me because I was already at the club. I lived close by and it fit easily into my schedule so I said yes. Now I have to drive 51 miles one way to be here.

The shows weren’t that strong at first but now they are really getting better. The comics are getting stronger and the audiences are getting bigger and I have the job of keeping it at a fever pitch so everyone can have a good time. This is the role C. Cardell Willis had way back when I started in Milwaukee at a place called Sardino’s. He kept those shows going.

I realized tonight that I am now in Cardell’s role here in Chicago. Most of these comics are in their 20s just like I was when I started. I can see their youth and inexperience and it totally hit me tonight as I was sitting with a few of them before the show and giving some tips out on how to make their jokes stronger or their performing skills better. I’m the wily veteran now and I can see them sitting there looking at me the same way I saw Cardell.

Cardell was about my age back then and he was very giving to us all. He encouraged us when we had a down show and praised us when we did well. He ran the show and we all learned by watching him work. A little piece of him still goes up with me on stage every single night I work but especially on nights like tonight when I assume his role on stage.

I remember being that young pup craving stage time and knowing how fantastic it felt to get up there and hear those laughs for the first time. It’s an electric experience that has kept me chasing it my whole life. You never forget the early years and I cherish mine still.

Cardell became such a big part of my life then and I am passing his experience on to all these young comics now. I sure hope I will be able to plant the good seeds in them that he planted in me all those years ago. I am taking the baton with pride and I will respect it.

One thing I learned from Cardell was the ins and outs of hosting a show. I have years of experience to draw from so I know exactly what to do at all times. Hecklers? Don’t even THINK about it. I can snipe them from 500 yards with a single shot. I fear nobody and the comics know I’m there to protect them. I’m their hero just like Cardell always was to us.

It’s so damn hard to get started in comedy and when some drunken wanker yells out his moronic prattle right in the middle of a punch line it can really ruin a five minute set. I am now the one that is responsible for setting the tone of the show and handling hecklers so it won’t be a problem for the comics coming up. I’m totally at home in that role. I love it.

Sitting around before the show I looked around the room and saw kids like Jeff Hansen and Bryan Berrey and Adam Burke and Hannibal Burress and many more and realized the new guard is coming up the ranks. Those names might not mean anything now but I have listed them because I predict good things for all these guys. They all have a lot of talent.

We were sitting around tonight talking about that. I told them it’s not all about talent in the comedy business but it doesn’t hurt to have it and all of these guys do. They sat there soaking my lecture in just like I soaked in Cardell’s words of wisdom. I lectured them for a few minutes knowing they might not be ready to hear it now but later they surely would.

I didn’t always get Cardell’s lessons either until years later. He would say something to us back then and it didn’t have any impact until years later when I realized ‘Oh, THAT’S what he meant by that.’ I wanted to take time and plant some of those seeds again tonight. These kids are all sharp and hopefully at some point they’ll all realize what I was saying.

The show tonight was outstanding. The audience was just ok at first but I whipped them up at the start and kept their energy up the whole night. That’s my job and I know how to do it. Even Bert Haas said ‘Wow, you really know how to get a dead crowd going.’ And I do. I learned it first hand from C. Cardell Willis back in Milwaukee. I’m the master at it.

Milwaukee was such a horrible place to start out being a performer of any kind. They’re some of the worst audiences I’ve ever seen and now I’ve got a lifetime of proof from my travels everywhere else. We were looked at as lepers back then and it hurt but now it’s the callous that makes me bullet proof. I always thought I was imagining it but now I know it to be true. There’s just something off about Milwaukee from an entertainer’s viewpoint.

But I don’t have to live there so I moved. Chicago is much more to my liking. I love the big city and now I am one of the top comedians here. There is a short list of people and to know that I’m on it is a real honor. I don’t take it lightly and that’s why I enjoy coming to host these showcases on Mondays. I just love being around the people who love comedy.

Everybody has dreams starting out and we all assume we’re going to be huge stars. I’m sure Cardell thought that and I did too. Just because we didn’t doesn’t mean we are not an
indisputable success. Cardell was a great comedian and he passed his knowledge on to me and I’m passing it on to all these other young comics. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Black Sunday

Sunday January 20th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

An open letter to Brett Favre: RETIRE ALREADY you washed up hillbilly. Yes you’re one of the all time greats and all that yahoo blah blah blah yackety yack ying yang. You’re the all time record holder and all that horse puckey too. You can blow your nose with $50 bills light your cigars with $100s. Ok, fine. Do it. Just do it away from me and get LOST.

I had to sit through a torturous afternoon of unbridled stress and I think I’ll need to hire someone to wet vac my shorts and couch. I have enough stress in my life as it is trying to squeak a living out of telling jokes to hillbillies like you without having you throw one of the most horrific interceptions I’ve ever had to sit through and this isn’t the only example.

Every year you piss and moan and whine about IF you should come back and take all of our Yankee cheese head money one more time and have everyone follow you around with a pooper scooper hoping to catch anything you might toss their way so they can cherish it forever. Quit playing with my head man. I can’t take it anymore. You’ve got your money now GO. Making me sit through that heartbreaker today made me want to kick your ass.

You get to go home and hang out in your mansion schmucks like me bought you and go fishing or hunting or running moonshine or whatever else Mississippi mud jacks do with their spare time. Maybe you’re out gator rasslin’ or moonshine runnin’ and quite frankly I don’t really give a swamp critter‘s fanny. Give me my life back. You gave me two weeks of freedom of not having to see if I can spend even more money to get Super Bowl tickets so now pull the plug and wait for the Hall of Fame. Let folks like me catch a little relief.

But not a chance. You’ll hem and haw and so will everyone else and they’ll hang on the hope you’ll come back one more time and bring the beer swilling cheesers a little hope to hang their alcoholic high cholesterol loser lives on. And what makes me the angriest is to think that millions of idiots will all really care if you do come back or not. I can’t stand it.

Think of all the kicked dogs and beaten wives and girlfriends from the U.P. to Kenosha. Everyone in the 715, 414 and 262 area codes were already picturing that next Super Bowl trophy to round out the foursome. We’re still hurting from that Denver loss but do any of you millionaires know how much that hurts? I doubt it. This is worse than dental surgery.

How about all the Shopko and Kmart and Fleet and Farm stores who are now up to their snow tires in ‘Packers NFC Champions’ shirts and hats? What about them? They’ll be all given to an orphanage in Guatemala so at least SOMEONE can get some use out of them. It’s not fair that you get to cash your millions and millions while we all get shafted hard.

Yes this was a great season and could have been one of the all time greats if you hadn’t forgotten what a green jersey looks like. This is like getting a date with a Playboy bunny and getting her back to the hotel and having her throw up on me when I get her pants off. It would have been painful enough to get rejected but to get that close and have it go bad is extra special torture. I needed to vent and I think there are a lot of fans that can relate.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Freezer's Palace

Saturday January 19th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

How cold was it? It was so cold my brain froze and I couldn’t think of any jokes about how cold it was today. This is the kind of day I’d like to see Al Gore and all his moronic psychobabble about global warming get strapped in a speedo to a sled and left at the side of the road to turn into a popsicle. He should start a campaign to fight global stupidity.

Who the hell do we think we are that even with all our pollution and mismanagement of natural resources that we can think we make a difference in the temperature? Old Mother Earth is still running the show and today she put a little deep freeze on us all. Anything on this planet with testicles got a lot closer to them today. This one was just downright nasty.

This is the kind of weather I remember as a kid. Snot freezes along with everything else and the walk home from school seemed like it would never end. Snow days? Sure we had a few but those weren’t that bad. It’s the days like this right after that made winter hell. If they had told us about global warming back then we’d have all laughed. I still do today.

Days like this makes people want to stay indoors and do nothing. I know I wanted to but I promised Mike Marvell I would do a benefit show for his son’s wrestling team. If I say I will do something I always try to make good on my promise and I wasn’t about to cancel on a day’s notice. I’ve had people do that to me and I know how it feels so I showed up.

There was a nice crowd in the Knights of Columbus hall in South Milwaukee. Mike has been doing this for a few years apparently and word must have gotten out. They didn’t get rattled by the cold and when I got there they were laughing and in a good mood. A few of the Milwaukee comedians donated their time as well and it turned out to be a fun event.

I did about twenty minutes and that’s like a night off. The audience loved it and they all hooted and hollered and after the show came up and shook my hand and asked me where I’ve been and why I haven’t been on the Tonight Show and that made me feel really bad. I have been trying for years to catch a break and for whatever reason I’m still drowning in a sea of obscurity. I know those people didn’t mean any harm but it sure made me feel low.

I need to get in front of someone who can help me get to the person who can give me an opportunity to break down that door. I know I’ve made some mistakes but none should be enough to keep me from my spot in the sun. I want to work the big time rooms and have a core of fans that love my show like they did tonight. I’ll make it worth all their whiles.

I’m hoping the King Of Uranus will help me push through that door but whatever it is it sure has been difficult to find. I know I’m ready to break through somewhere but where is it? And when? I’ve been waiting a lot of years and I’m beginning to think I’ve been had.

At least I was able to help Mike out with his cause. He and everyone were very grateful and thanked me over and over again and that’s good enough for me. For a night off I had a chance to help someone and I’m all for that. But I still need to find a way to get a break.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Frank Caliendo

Friday January 18th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

A lot of people in the comedy world are jealous of Frank Caliendo. I’m not one of them. I see he is headlining the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee tonight. Good for him. I always wanted to headline the Riverside. It’s a beautiful theatre with a great stage. I got a chance to open there a couple of times when I first started and it was an electric experience. I was totally not ready to do it when I did but it went well. I’d sure love to get back there again.

Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. But I’m still happy for Frank. A lot of people aren’t. He’s done quite well for himself and a lot of good things have happened at exactly the moment they needed to. Show business has a lot of dented cans who can’t stand to see anyone else do well no matter who it is. They think if someone else does well they are getting left out.

Show business is brutal. It’s not for the squeamish and pussyfooters get toes stepped on. A lot of things have no rhyme or reason and insanity reigns freely. If you want logic get in the detective business. Logic solves crimes but it has nothing to do with show business. A lot of people with talent never make it big and a lot of people make it big without talent.

That’s just how it is. There are a lot of factors other than raw talent that have to do with who does or doesn’t make it big in show business. Frank just happened to have the lottery numbers that came in and he won big. Does he have talent? Absolutely. He’s loaded with it. But it was a lot more than that with him. He also had timing and a fantastic work ethic.

Frank opened for me at a bowling alley in Waukesha, WI his first time on stage. He was working at a batting cage and my friend Steve Hall took his son there to train for baseball. He asked me if I would do a benefit comedy show so his son’s team could earn money for a tournament in Ohio and I said I would. Steve suggested I use Frank as the opening act.

I remember telling Steve I’d find my own opener but he was sold on Frank. He said that Frank would break everyone up at the batting cage with his impressions and that he could easily do the job. Against my better judgment I agreed to it and I remember watching him that first night. He was very raw and all over the place but his impressions were dead on.

After the show Frank came up to me and was very polite. ‘Mr. Maxwell I just wanted to say I really enjoyed being able to open for such an accomplished comedian as you.’ I was very impressed by his sincerity and I told him ‘Kid, three years from now I won’t be able to get you on the phone. You’ve got something and I can see it right now. Enjoy the ride.’

He didn’t know what I meant but I could see it that night. He just had ‘it’. His presence was there and not developed yet but the impressions were. He nailed them all. The crowd loved it as they do all good impressionists. For a first time on stage he did extremely well.

The problem for the impressionist is that it’s a false love. The audience loves the people they are impersonating but not the guy doing it. It’s easy to get a big head when the crowd cheers and goes nuts for the voices and I’ve seen a lot of guys fall back on an impression.

Another thing about impressionists is that they’re technically not really pure standups. It doesn’t matter to the audience but to other comedians it can be looked at as a crutch. That causes a lot of angst with monologists who don’t do anything else but tell jokes. That’s as difficult as it gets but nobody in the audience knows or cares. They just want a show.

They’re just as happy to laugh at an impression or a prop or a song parody as a joke. It’s a lot different viewpoint from the audience to the performers. Most straight standups have a disdain for anything other than that. Ventriloquists, magicians, mimes, musical acts and especially jugglers are loathed and disrespected. That’s not really fair but I can relate to it.

It’s damn hard to come up with original standup comedy and when some idiot juggling bocce balls or scarves gets a bigger cheer from a room full of drunken hillbillies it hurts. I know how difficult it is but I also understand that the audience doesn’t care. That rots ass. I also understand that if someone has a knack for doing any of those things they should do it. If they can make a living entertaining people more power to them. I’m not against that.

Why should they have to care if I or any other comedian approves of them? Carrot Top is hated by most comedians but the public loves him and he’s rich beyond belief. So be it. Frank Caliendo is looked at like that by many as well. They think he ‘got lucky’ and gets by with doing impressions. Well, he DID get lucky and he does get by with impressions.

But there’s a whole lot more to it than that. As I saw him come up the ranks he did a lot of things right. He used to instant message me online for advice and I’d give it to him. To his credit he listened and made a lot of smart moves. He made a few mistakes too and that happens. Boy do I know that. I’ve made more than my share of my own but he recovered.

What impressed me most about Frank was his work ethic. He was ALWAYS willing to go on any radio station that would have him and be a guest. Many comedians wouldn’t do that for stupid reasons like ‘it’s too early’ or ‘that’s not my audience’. Frank always did it and not only did he show up he had some funny material ready to go. That’s very smart.

Where he lucked out was there was no impressionist for this generation. He was it. Rich Little and Fred Travelena’s time has passed. They’re old and their impressions are too but Frank nails the current ones and that’s important. He does a few that haven’t already been beaten to death. His John Madden is amazing. Who else does that one? He owns it now.

Then he got on the NFL show and Mad TV and got management and all kinds of things started happening for him. Was he lucky? Hell yes. We should all be lucky like that. He’s caught a lot of breaks but he’s also worked like a dog to get into a position to make those breaks happen. The people who are jealous probably don’t realize how hard he’s worked.

People try to get in my face about Frank all the time because we’re from the same town. He’s ten years younger and making a hundred times more money. Hey, good for him. I’m not able to do ONE impression. He can. The public loves what he does and he’s good at it and my hat is off to him. But don’t think it’s all luck. Frank Caliendo earned his success.

Tweaking The Act

Thursday January 17th, 2008 - Frankfort, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Fun day today. I got some work done in the morning and then went to have lunch with Marc Schultz. We went to the Old Country Buffet which we sometimes do on our lunch excursions. What a great freak show. The collection of nuts in that particular place keeps us entertained through our meal. It’s always better to get a show with the admission price.

After lunch I headed to my post office box in Chicago to pick up mail and drop off my laundry at the dry cleaners next door. There is a very nice Asian family that owns it and I take my shirts there even though it’s a little more expensive than I could get them done in Lake Villa. They’re just great people and I see how hard they work and I support them.

I then went to pick up Jerry Agar at WLS and we headed down to Frankfort, IL to meet up with my friend Max who was driving up from Springfield to meet Jerry. Max is a long time radio guy as is Jerry and they’d never met each other. I try to make connections with people when I can and this one was easy. Both had heard me talk about the other one and they are both in the same business. All I had to do was sit and let them talk to each other.

Max took the day off from his morning show in Springfield and Jerry came along to see the venue in case we want to do shows there in the future sponsored by the station. It’s an out of the way place for both of us because we both live north. Frankfort is WAY south of Chicago and not easy to get to. It’s 102 miles one way from my place. Milwaukee is 45.

The shows there are booked by Ken Sevara who is on our ‘Jerry’s Kidders’ panel. It’s at a place called ‘CD & Me’ which is also a client of WLS so it works all the way around. It was a good opportunity for Jerry to get on stage and say hi to some listeners and the other member of the panel Tim Slagle also showed up and did some time. It was a fun time and a practice run for future shows hopefully. It was low pressure and the audience loved us.

Max stayed for the show and met the other guys and it was a fun time all around. This is not a career builder but for a Thursday night in January to make a few bucks hanging with friends wasn’t a bad thing. The weather was freezing and it kept the attendance down. We had about 60 people but those who came out were there to laugh and they all paid a cover.

I used this show to work on my act. I knew I wouldn’t get fired and these people had no idea what to expect so I tried a lot of new things tonight. I also totally mixed up my order to force myself to tie things together. I did my big closer in the middle and I never do that but tonight I did so I could see what can follow it. This is the kind of situation to do that.

I have nothing to prove here. Ken is going to have me back and the people were having a good time anyway so it offered me a chance to experiment a little. I got some big laughs even though the order was a lot choppier than usual but nobody else knew that. I was able to sell the bits I knew would work and I ad libbed some good lines too. Everyone laughed when they were supposed to and even though I knew I wasn’t at full strength nobody else did. Future audiences will get a better show because I was able to start building it tonight.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Two Top Bananas

Wednesday January 16th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Much better day today. MUCH. I got up at 7am and started right in working. I had a lot of loose ends to clean up and I did them all. I had to send a new batch of comedy CDs out to LA to be listed on a website called George Carlin owns part of it and I met the other partner when I did the San Francisco Comedy Competition way back in 2003.

These kinds of contacts pay off slowly over time. I get listed on the website and actually have sold several units which I wouldn’t have otherwise. I sent him another 15 that he has been asking for so that’s a good thing. I won’t get as much money as if I sold them myself but that’s ok. The exposure is all good. I donate a lot of my CD money to charity anyway.

I need to stop donating once these are gone and start making some money. I don’t mind donating to charity and in fact I make it a point to do it whenever I can but now I need my legs to start sprouting a little in the business world. I’m a new little lamb just getting a lay of the land and those are what the wolves like to eat the most. I need to be most careful.

Today I tied up a lot of loose ends so I can focus on the business. My car insurance was due so I paid that. In full. For once I now have collision included so if a boozed up illegal alien t-bones me in a stolen car I will be covered. I haven’t had a bad wreck in a few years so I am probably about due pretty soon. At least if it happens now I’ll be able to get a new car even if I’m a squished vegetable and can’t drive it. Like a good neighbor they’re there.

I never thought that was the right slogan. To me a good neighbor isn’t ‘there’. To me an ideal neighbor waves at me when he’s walking into his house with a bag of groceries and I never have to actually talk to him for more than ten seconds. THAT’S a good neighbor. Maybe that’s why I rent and live in a basement like a potato bug at this point in my life.

My AAA was due as well so I renewed that too. $77 is not a lot to pay for the protection of knowing I will get towed whenever my engine blows like a fat man’s heart or I lock the keys in my ignition yet again. Over the years I’ve gotten WAY more than I paid and I will surely qualify for a platinum card should they ever come out with one. I’m a AAA ‘lifer’.

My bank account got smaller but my self esteem got bigger doing one task after another that I’d been putting off. At least it’s all out of the way now and I’m working hard to be a smart person for once and not let things get to the crisis point. This is a LOT less stressful and I already can feel a better vibe. My car is all legal and paid for and that feels fantastic.

I went up to Milwaukee today to have lunch with my friend Mark Krueger. I’ve known Mark since before I worked at 93QFM in Milwaukee and then we worked together there. He is a true character and unbelievably funny and has always been a supporter of mine.

Not many people could get away with the nickname ‘Mangy Man’ but he can pull it off. He is a true original and one of my all time favorite people. His warped and twisted sense of humor even makes me flinch sometimes and that’s no easy task. He’s a total natural.

Mark plays the guitar very well and is in several bands at any one time and he’s great at all of it. He loves obscure foreign music and used to have an import show on 93QFM way back in the ‘80s and ‘90s and even though it was on Sunday nights he was by far the most popular and well known personality on the station. He’s just got a natural likeable vibe.

I hadn’t seen The Mange in a long time and he always keeps in touch with me so I felt I owed him a visit and today was the day. He sells ad space for the Shepherd Express paper and that might be a place where I can advertise Uranus Factory Outlet. He laughed when I told him the idea and I know he’ll think of some great ideas for funny products to make.

While I was in the building I saw another one of my all time favorite people Rip Tenor. Rip is legendary in Milwaukee for his hilarious character named ‘Art Kumbalek’. It’s one of the absolute funniest characters I’ve ever seen in my entire life and it never fails to get me to laugh out loud every time I see him. I am in awe of how talented and funny Rip is.

When I first started out in comedy I had heard of a comedy troupe called ‘Rip Tenor’s Cavalcade Of Top Bananas’ and that name alone made me a fan. Then I went to see the show in person and it blew me away. Rip is a true comedic talent and not just a standup. I have always been a huge fan and to have him smile and shake my hand humbles me. He’s one of the heroes I had when I started and now all these years later we’ve become peers.

When I was on the morning show at QFM I had Rip on doing his Art character weekly. When I got fired he told me I was the only local broadcast station that had him on and it made me sick to my stomach. He’s a truly brilliant comedic mind and in my opinion he’s got all the talent he needs to be headlining major venues and cranking out hilarious films.

Mark Krueger is also funny enough to have made an excellent comedian had he chose a career in comedy. He’s doing great as a sales person and he loves playing in a band but he really is a funny person no matter what he’s doing. It saddens me that guys like this are in the daily grind world and some of the unfunniest people I’ve ever met are in comedy. It’s not right in my opinion but I have enough trouble paying my own bills. I just don’t get it.

Mark’s got a great wife Amy who has been unbelievably ill for several years. It’s a long complicated story I won’t go into but she’s spent more time in the hospital in the past few years than at home. She’s had countless surgeries and never complains about it. I am very sad to see such a sweetheart of a person suffer so much but she handles it amazingly well.

What’s even more amazing is that Mark told me Amy loves to come see me perform in town because I make her laugh for some reason. Wow, what a flattering thing to hear. I’m going to be at the Northern Lights Casino coming up at the end of the month and they are hoping to come to a show if she’s feeling up to it. Talk about pressure. I hope she likes it.

I came home feeling really up after getting to see two outstanding and funny people like Mangy Man and Rip Tenor. I know they’ll support me as friends on my business venture but I also want to tap into their creative minds as well. Both of them are extremely sharp.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fifteen Apples

Tuesday January 15th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I’m learning the hard way that decisions have consequences. I slept way too long today but I was beat from my all night road marathon on Sunday night/Monday morning. That’s two days ago but it’s still affecting me. Yesterday was out of whack and now today I slept until almost noon. I rarely do that and it made me feel like I wasted the whole day‘s work.

This is the time when all that resolution crap has worn off for everyone. It’s back to the grind of everyday life and that’s never easy. This is the beginning of the third week of the year and it’s a lot smarter to cut it into weeks rather than write a few goals down and then blow them early and go right back to all the bad habits again. I don’t want that to be me.

I saw how late it was and felt a little bit disappointed but what could I do? I overslept. It made me think of what I could do to salvage the day. I have a lot of things I could do but I can’t do them all. Not in one day. Planning and managing my time is more important than it’s ever been and I just wasted my morning asleep when I could have been getting ahead.

That’s not a habit I want to get into and I won’t. I forced myself to get outside and make a trip to the post office and the bank and get some exercise and fresh air. I wanted to light a fire under myself to get moving and do something productive so I wouldn’t waste a day. I also stopped at the grocery store and picked up a bag of apples and some drinking water.

I have eaten an apple a day since January 1st. I haven’t written about it because it’s hard enough to not be boring with this diary without talking about my fruit consumption habits but it’s been two weeks now and I think it’s worth noting. I’m not a huge fan of apples as a rule but the whole ‘apple a day keeps the doctor away’ must have some truth in there.

Now I’m finding myself actually looking forward to my daily apple. I’ve read how it’s a good thing to do because of all the health benefits of the apple’s skin alone. Of course it’s not going to help if I wash it down with a Pepsi and a candy bar but one thing at a time. If I keep it up for another two weeks and then another two weeks I will make it into a habit.

I did have my apple today and it was delicious. I also am going to fast for at least one 24 hour period each week depending on when it’s convenient. Somewhere between Tuesday and Thursday would be a good fit and I’ve also done that for both weeks so far this year. I am changing slowly and opening myself up to new things but I’m still a long way off yet.

But I’m thinking about it and that’s good. Small steps over and over become big ones. It isn’t too late to keep slugging because I’ve still got 50 more weeks left in the year plus an extra day on February 29th. One day of oversleeping isn’t going to wipe me out but if I do it again tomorrow I’ll really be upset with myself. It’s time to start making things happen.

I started by cleaning off my desk and starting over. It was piling up with junk and paper and clutter that made me sick to look at. It felt great to clean it off and start organizing my life like it should be. I’m still on a good track but this was a wakeup call I needed to get.

Stale Air Day

Monday January 14th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I’m getting old. I used to be able to pull an all nighter with no visible side effects. Those days are over. I’m really dragging. I didn’t get in until almost 5am from the gig in Becker, MN because it snowed during the last part of the trip and made it longer. Then I got home and had a few emails I had to answer promptly so I just took a shower and stayed awake.

I needed to be downtown to do Jerry’s show on WLS by 10:30. I ended up catching the earlier train and was there by 8:15. I walked over to the radio station from the train station and it was an artic blast of cold the whole way. I hadn’t been able to sleep on the train and when I got to the radio station I had to finish up writing the jokes I’d be using on the air.

We all had an off day today and that’s never fun. Radio is like sports in that momentum plays a big part of it and we just couldn’t get a groove going. Ken Sevara was sick and on low sleep and Tim Slagle was yawning in the green room before we went in. Jerry said he was off before we got in there and it made for a long twenty minutes. I thought we stunk.

That happens to everyone in radio at one time or another and the trick is to move on and not let it bother you but that’s easier said than done. We’ve had some very solid segments in the past and management has been very happy but today felt like we regressed. I’m glad we waited until now to do it because if the first week had gone this poorly we’d be done.

A lot of things contributed to us being stiff today but we were. The news stories weren’t that great and we were all tired and I was delirious from driving all night and it just laid an egg all around. We got a few decent lines in but we could all feel that it wasn’t the same as previous weeks when we got in a rhythm and it was clicking for everyone. Not this time.

The funny part is sometimes these are the shows the audience likes the best. I have had a lot of comedy shows I thought were brutal and had people come up afterwards and tell me how much they loved it and I can tell by the look on their face that they mean it. The thing to do is smile and shake their hand and tell them thanks. The audience in comedy judges it.

Radio is different. The audience doesn’t give immediate feedback. We walked out of the studio today knowing we could have been better but the audience could have thought that we were on fire just because one or two jokes hit them the right way. I’m through judging at this point because truly it’s a crapshoot. It was what it was and now we’re done with it.

One thing we all agreed on is that this is a work in progress and we’ll come back and try it again next week. We’ve had a lot more good weeks than this one clinker and we’ll use it as motivation to prepare more and be ready when the mike cracks next Monday morning.

I got back on the train and came home only to get showered up and head back to Zanies for the new talent showcase tonight. I enjoy hosting them but I would have loved to have a night off tonight to catch up on my sleep. Not so. There was a smaller audience and they were not great laughers like they were last week but it was ok. Now I’m ready to nod out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Blowout In Becker

Sunday January 13th, 2008 - Becker, MN/Lake Villa, IL

Paybacks are a mother. I owed a booker a favor so I took a gig in Becker, MN which is a 430 mile drive from where I live. The booker lives in Superior, WI and has booked me a few times when I really needed the money and I owe him so that’s why I took it. He said I would love this place but it sure wasn’t love at first sight. I walked in wanted to go home.

It’s a rock bar in the middle of nowhere that seats about 3-400. Becker is about halfway between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud and there’s no direct route to get there. I had to go on some back roads to get there and when I got there I saw about 10 people in the joint. It wasn’t very encouraging when I told the lady at the door I was a comedian. She looked at me like I had just urinated on her biker jacket and she probably could have kicked my ass.

I was promised a prime rib dinner and there was one little piece of meat left on the table which turned out to be a pool table with food on it. This place had red flag all over it and I seriously thought about getting back in my car and coming home. I have to be at WLS for Jerry’s show tomorrow morning and I’ll be dragging anyway but a head start would help.

The walls were decorated with all the ‘80s hair bands that played there recently. I could tell that’s probably their niche and that’s ok. No matter how bad my life gets I would NOT want to be a member of Warrant or Poison or Ratt that has to play here after playing huge arenas in their prime. I would think it hurts a lot more to do it now. I’m just here for cash.

Surprisingly the meal was very good and it got to be show time and there was no opener to be found. The lady in charge came over and said this was their staff Christmas party and there were only about 30 people in a room that seats 300. That was a bigger red flag and it made me just want to pay for my meal and get in the car and drive home. Who needs this?

I tried to be as nice as I could and politely asked her what she wanted me to do. She was not really sure and asked if I’d go up and just do my show without an opener. I told her to call the booker and see if he’d heard from the opener and she did that. Apparently he had a problem finding the place and then got pulled over and was going to be at least a half hour later than he already was. I told her I’d go up and do what I could until he could get there.

She looked at me like I was her hero and they were all very polite so I went up and tried to give them a show. It was their party and I wanted them to have fun and they wanted the same thing. Boy am I glad I stayed. They were REALLY into it and I could do no wrong. I had them from the first five seconds and proceeded to tear the roof off that joint tonight.

It’s amazing how chemistry works on some nights. I thought this would be absolute hell but it was exactly the opposite. I did an hour and twelve minutes and didn’t even do all of my material. I didn’t even do my closer which destroys most of the time. I didn’t need it. I had everything else working and ad libbed a lot and just totally plugged into these people. I had a blast and then the opener finally got there as I was finishing up. I had to get a start on my driving and didn’t watch his set but I’m sure he had a hard time following that one.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How 'Bout Dem Packers?!

Saturday January 12th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I took a day off of Uranus to feed my Green Bay Packer addiction. Now is the time that makes it hardest of all. It’s the playoffs and I want to watch them win but I know it will be absolute torture if they don’t. It’s my childhood all over again. They were so mediocre for so long that it left a life long scar on my psyche. Seeing them do so well now is a payback.

It didn’t start out very well though. There were two fumbles in the first minute and I had to shut off the TV before I pulled an Elvis and shot out the screen. I’m glad I don’t have a gun and have no plans to get one anytime soon because on days like this I might use it. To have a great season like this end so ugly would have been hard on a lot of us Packer fans.

Fortunately it didn’t end up that way but I wasn’t about to let my nerves get frazzled for the afternoon so I turned off the TV and went to get something to eat. I wanted to get out of that torturous mindset of watching them lose but of course they had the game on where I went to eat and everyone was watching it there too. They were Bears fans and loved it.

I wish I didn’t love football so much. I love sports in general but football is the one I am most passionate about and the Packers are always going to be my team of choice. I try not to care so much but I can’t help it. Football lights a fire in those of us who are fans and we are hooked for life. We’re all total addicts. And there are MILLIONS of us fans out there.

My addiction was fed as the Packers pulled it out and ended up stomping the Seahawks. I was thrilled for many reasons one of which was I had to perform tonight. The worst is to have to perform comedy after a home team loses a big game. I’ve been in that position for way too many times and I always dread it. Last week in Pittsburgh was a perfect example.

The show tonight was in Trevor, WI which is about six miles from where I’m living here in Lake Villa. I took the gig because I needed the money to help pay for my new computer I had to buy to replace the one that was stolen. I had to excuse myself from the annual big Elvis bash at Serb Hall in Milwaukee and I feel bad about that but I really needed the cash.

I missed last year’s show too and it was the last one Tom Green performed at before his tragic passing in March. Had I known that I would have cancelled my gig but he knew the way entertainment works and if a paid gig comes up you take it. I still feel bad I missed it though just because everyone involved are really good people. They treat me like a star.

The people in Trevor treated me like a star too. There was a nice full house and they all were there to laugh. I had them from the first few seconds all the way to the end and I sold a bunch of cds too. These are the kinds of one nighters there should be more of. They had fun and so did I. I shook every hand and signed every autograph and got paid immediately.

Then I got in my car and drove the six miles home and wondered why it couldn’t be this easy every night. I worked hard to get to this point so one night of easy money isn’t out of the question. Tomorrow I’m back to the grind of driving but for tonight life is pretty easy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

This U.F.O. LIVES!

Friday January 11th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Chicago, IL

Today was a monumental day on many fronts. I’m still fascinated about the numerology discussion I heard on the radio as I drove home from Wausau and there has to be meaning to today. ‘1-11’ has a lot of ones in it and maybe it stands for starting something. Or not. I need to brush up on it more but I do know that today was truly a day I won’t soon forget.

The first stop was up to Kenosha to have lunch with some radio friends and talk about a possible paranormal show in the near future. I love Coast to Coast AM and would love an opportunity to crack that market and be the comedian for those people who listen. They’re not all kooks at least not in a bad way but this is coming straight from a guy who is calling himself ‘The King Of Uranus’. If I can come up with an act that entertains people who like thinking about life on other planets and Bigfoot and time travel I’ll be a millionaire. Soon.

John Perry and I worked together back at 93QFM in Milwaukee in the early 90’s. Now he’s the operations manager for WIIL and WLIP in Kenosha and has been for years. He’s a very good guy and we’ve stayed friends all this time. He wants to have a show on WLIP that covers the local angle of the subjects talked about on Coast to Coast AM. I love that.

I will be teamed up with my old Loop comrade Jimmy Novack. Jimmy was doing nights when I got hired in 2004 but lost his job shortly thereafter because that’s just how radio is. He’s a fantastic guy and I didn’t really want a partner but if I have to have one Jimmy is a perfect fit for a show like this. He’ll get into it and we’ll have a lot of fun getting it going.

We’re not going to get paid for it but that’s ok. I understand how radio is. I am doing it because I like the idea and hopefully it will lead to something in the future. If I could get a guest spot on Coast to Coast as either a host or a guest I’d be thrilled. I am going to start working on more material about stuff like this and ‘The King Of Uranus’ fits in perfectly.

As I build up my business I’ll have a site to plug and any radio time I can get will be the chance to plug my site so I’ll take it. I’m going to still do Jerry Agar’s show on WLS each Monday too so I may use an assumed name on WLIP. I don’t think it will overlap but I’m not going to take any chances. This is two different shows for two different audiences. It’s a chance to really do something different and fun and if it blows up in a week I’m still ok.

Lunch was delicious. We went to the Brat Stop and I hadn’t been there in years. They’re advertisers on the station so we got our meals comped and that’s always welcome. We all kicked around some good ideas and will probably give it a shot on the air around March if all goes well. That will give us time to get ready and prepare guests and topics to discuss.

I know I’m already busy working on a lot of other things but this could really be a blast. I like Jimmy a lot and he’s enthusiastic about doing a show with me and that’s flattering. It will come across on the air too. We both love the idea of a show like this and we’ll make it appeal to locals by first starting with the Kenosha area and working our way out to find all the oddball ghost and UFO sighting stories in Milwaukee and Chicago too. It will be fun.

I’m learning to listen to my inner voice and every time I do that it turns out great. I wish I learned to do it sooner in my life but at least I’m getting better at it now. This project is a low risk and potentially high return investment of my time and energy. No matter what the final outcome is I’ll come out ahead. My inner voice says do it so I’m going to run with it.

Today was also the day I made a giant step with Uranus Factory Outlet by opening up a business account at my bank. I met the personal banker last week when I took the train to WLS to be on Jerry’s show Monday morning. He’s laid back and very sharp and my inner voice said he’s the right guy to help me with this process. I didn’t argue. He’s got the job.

I had to drive all the way to downtown Chicago to make it happen but I was off so I did. He walked me through the process and I showed him all my incorporation papers and it all went very smoothly. His boss was there to oversee it and both were very helpful and made me very comfortable that I made the correct decision. It all just felt right and I‘m thrilled.

I was sitting in a cushioned chair in downtown Chicago at a bank where I was looking at a couple of guys in suits who were having me sign papers as I launched my dream business that grew from a single idea I had in the shower. It was all surreal but I relished the picture in my head and I won’t soon forget it probably because I also got a parking ticket for $50.

Even that didn’t make me angry. The universe just reminded me that I am not above the rules and I never thought I was. I will pay the ticket and move on. I am now in business as ‘Uranus Unlimited Incorporated’ and it’s totally legal. I needed to get the lawyer to do the trademark search and he did. I needed that to get the incorporation papers which I also did and now those allowed me to get to the point of opening a bank account. And now I did.

This is all new to me and I am enjoying the process thoroughly. I know I’m not the first person to open a business in America and I know the others had the same feeling I did as I walked out of the bank today. I felt a lot of things actually. I was proud of myself that I’m doing it all legally and above board but I was also a little apprehensive too. Will this work?

Everyone that starts a business thinks it’s going to work. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be starting a business. I am not stupid enough to think I am going to make millions without a problem and I’m not expecting that. I am expecting not only an exciting adventure but the education of my life as well. I will spend some time in my own personal life college as this new role of businessman grows on me. I’ve not thought of myself as this before. It’s odd.

I do know that I have an optimistic attitude and am going to do my very best to make as happy of an ending to my life story as I can. I don’t intend on giving up on this any time in the near future. I’m in this for the long haul. I am going to rededicate my life to making all my customers laugh and it’s up to me to find out how to make that make me a millionaire.

I want to be rich in money of course but that’s not all. I also want a wealth of friends to share it with and a wealth of creative people to learn from and exchange ideas and live out all of our dreams and potential. I’m shooting for the moon but I’ll gladly settle for Uranus.

Crunching Numbers

Thursday January 10th, 2008 - Wausau, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Another 526 mile round trip to work. I told myself I would stop doing these gigs so I’d be able to focus on Uranus Factory Outlet but the phone keeps ringing. This one I took as did every other one that came along. I’ve got a nice full schedule for the next few months but is that what I want? I said I didn’t but when the phone rang for this one I couldn’t say no. Old habits are hard to break I guess. I like the booker so I did it but I wish I’d said no.

This was the first night of comedy for a place that was just bought by two guys in about their mid 30’s. It used to be a martini bar apparently and now it’s a joint that has different kinds of live entertainment six nights a week. Jazz, folk, open mike singers and comedy. It may work and it may not but I am not thrilled about doing places like this. I’m burned out.

Dan Still was the opener and I’ve known Dan for many years. He’s a great guy and if he wouldn’t have been there I’d have gotten in my car and immediately driven home. I didn’t and now that it’s over I’m glad I didn’t because I got paid and even though it wasn’t fun I can always use the money. That’s why I came up here but thank goodness I don’t need it.

There’s a BIG difference between needing the money and wanting the money. I used to always be in a position of needing it so I’d drive extra far or put up with a lot more stupid circumstances than I’m willing to now. I do comedy because I enjoy it. I don’t need to get attention from strangers that bad that I force a show in a hell hole where nobody wants it.

This place wasn’t a hell hole and the owners were actually decent guys. One of them is a musician so at least he gets the performing part and how difficult it is. They had some ads in a local entertainment paper but their account rep quit and they didn’t get in so there was nobody there for comedy. They called some of their friends to try and create a last minute audience and that’s even worse. They should have just paid us out and we’d all go home.

But it’s not my job to tell them that and the booker is a good person who thinks I’m one of the funniest people she’s ever seen. Whether I am or not she THINKS I am so why do I want to screw that up by walking off stage or leaving town without doing my job? It was a situation I’ve been in all too often so I just went up and did my time and got paid and left.

On the way home I was listening to my favorite radio show ‘Coast to Coast AM’. That’s what keeps me awake on long drives and this one was tough because it was snowing really hard and roads were slick and dangerous. The topic of conversation was numerology and I was riveted by the lady who was the guest. It’s a study that’s been around for 2500 years.

She gave the formula for figuring out the ‘master number’ everyone supposedly has. It’s derived from the month, day and year a person is born. There are allegedly nine ‘life paths’ we all are on and whether it’s true or not it was fascinating to listen to through the snow. I am a ‘9’ which is a humanitarian. ‘9’s’ supposedly like to give back and like to help people more than they like to help themselves. That makes sense. I really do feel that way. I can’t say how all of this makes sense but it does. I think there’s more to life than meets the eye.

I have a couple of books on numerology I bought years ago and never read through but I did keep them when I got rid of most of my possessions last year. The subject interested me enough to keep those books and now I’m going to buzz through them a little. I’m not into all that moonbeams and star dust new age yackity yack but I don’t think this is that.

Numerology has been around for thousands of years and there is all kinds of mathematic calculations in the universe from pi to Einstein’s theories to who knows what else? I really perked up when the lady said that us ‘9’s’ are not only humanitarians but also ‘old souls.’
I have heard that term over and over again my entire life even when I was a kid. People through the years have always told me ‘You are an old soul.’ Even my father said it when I was about 10. He was talking to my grandfather and I overheard him say ‘That kid is just WAY beyond his years. I can’t get into his head.’ He was right. He never did and it hurts.

Since I had the magic formula given out by the lady I tried to figure out as many ‘master numbers’ as I could from any and everyone I could think of that I knew their birth date. If nothing else it kept me awake on the road. Every number has a meaning attached to it and allegedly birthdays on an ‘11’ or ‘22’ are very significant. Those apparently are for people who have strong personalities. Jack Nicholson is a 22 according to the lady. It made sense.

George Clinton is also a 22. His birthday is July 22nd. The lady said these people have an unbelievable charisma as a rule and if there are two more charismatic people than them I’d like to see it. Jack is a movie star for a reason. George is a star too. They just command an attention when they show up and have an unbelievably strong presence. I don’t have that.

I really do think I’m a humanitarian though. I try to help people whenever I can and I am always thinking of what I can do to contribute to the betterment of life. As I went through all the people I could think of and their birthdays to see if I could find any other ‘9’s’ there were only two. One was my good friend Drew Olson and the other was my sister Tammy.

It makes perfect sense with Drew. He’s totally a giver and I’ve known him 20 years. He has always been very generous with not only me but everyone else he meets. There isn’t a person I know who doesn’t like Drew and that’s probably why we’ve been friends for this long. He doesn’t seem like an old soul but maybe it’s true. He sure does think of others.

My sister Tammy really surprised me. We have never really gotten along and that always bothered me. For some reason I just felt she never liked me as a kid and as an adult we are not even talking. She hasn’t talked to me in going on 15 years now and I’ve made a bunch of attempts to patch it up over the years but she wants nothing to do with me ever again.

That’s her choice and I can’t change it because I’ve tried. She must be in a lot of pain to hold a grudge this long. Maybe if there are past lives I did something bad to her. I tried to sincerely apologize for anything I did in this one but whatever it is sure got to her in a bad space. I hope we can patch it up at some point but if not I tried my best. I sure can’t say if any of this number stuff is accurate or not but it sure killed the time driving home tonight.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

An Hour On WLS

Wednesday January 9th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

More side tracking today but I couldn’t say no. Jerry Agar called and said he’d be filling in on WLS in afternoon drive for Roe Conn and asked if I wanted to come down and sit in with him and our ‘Jerry’s Kidders’ panel of Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara. Of course I had to say yes for many reasons but mostly because Jerry is my friend and I’ll always help friends.

This was a really good opportunity for all of us. Roe Conn’s show has a large audience and it’s probably going to get larger now that Steve Dahl is back doing mornings. He’s in a similar situation to what I was in when I was at the Loop. Howard Stern was going over to Sirius eventually and Mancow was going to be gone so we would have had a wide open shot to slide in and have some big ratings just by osmosis. Too bad we got blown out first.

This is a much better situation though. WLS is a legendary station and it’s a talk format. The Loop was a rock station first and personalities second. The chance to build a name on WLS is a lot better not to mention it’s an AM station and will cover a lot more map space. All I’m interested in is getting my name out as a comedian. A radio career isn’t my goal.

It never was. All I want to be on the radio for is so people will hear me and maybe think I’m funny enough to come out and see my live show. It’s a way to give out some samples like they do at the grocery store. Passing out a piece of cheese or salami will hopefully sell the customer on paying for some to take home with them. I am doing the same thing here.

I was intending to do some booking contacts today and update my avails and also put an agenda together for getting my projects in order so I can start working on them all but this took precedence and rightfully so. Getting to be on a major radio station for an hour being funny is a great showcase. I am very comfortable with Jerry and we all riffed and did well.

The concept of the panel of comedians talking about the news is a good one and nobody is really doing it on the radio. I’m not at all political in my act and we mainly focus on just being funny rather than having any political messages or agendas. That’s what I love to do and Jerry and I have known each other so long we have a great rapport. This is all helpful.

Good things could come out of all of this for everyone. Jerry is still new on the air and it was a great chance for him to get some exposure to a larger audience in drive time. When I was on the Loop they told us our cumulative audience or ‘cume’ was about 250,000. I’m not sure what it is for WLS but I’m sure it’s quite high. They blast a signal to many states.

If we can just keep showing up and getting a reputation for being funny this bit will keep growing and eventually lead to live shows in the listening area. Ken and Tim and I will put on a KILLER live show because we’re all headliners and only having to do 30 minutes will be like a night off. Jerry will host the show and at the end we’ll come out and riff together just like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour did. I know we could pull that off and tear the roof off the joint. THAT is the reason I keep my pole in the water with radio. I’ve wanted to be a draw in comedy the whole time. This could be my chance to have it happen. FINALLY.

I still like being a ‘friend of the show’ on a lot of other shows too. That’s the best in my opinion. I’m not an employee of any of them and I can come in and hang out whenever the chance arises. I have that with The D List on ESPN Radio 1510 in Milwaukee and also on 104 ‘The X’ in Rockford. Pretty much any time I feel like it I can call any of these people and tell them I’m coming in and they’ll say ‘Great!’ It feels fantastic to have that freedom.

My friend Max down at WYMG in Springfield would make room for me anytime I’m in the area too. I like all of those people and that’s four steady shows I can not only be a part of but have them glad to see me when I show up. Plus I can plug my gigs and eventually it will be a nice jump start for Uranus Factory Outlet. I’m already part of the shows so I can tell what I’m doing and get some publicity at the same time. None of this will hurt at all.

That’s why I made it a point to go downtown today and help Jerry out. It helped me too and that’s the best way to do it. Win/win. I’ve always been a big fan of that. It was a lot of fun too. We hung out on the air and had some very funny moments between all four of us. I know we also reached THOUSANDS of people who’ve never heard our names before.

This is how breaks happen. All I need is ONE person to hear me and think I’m funny to open up a lot of doors. It’s never possible to know exactly who it is either. The stations all stream these days and who knows who listens? I need to be on my guard and just be funny like I know I can. I’ve always been able to ad lib on the air and get laughs in the moment.

That’s not a skill everyone in radio has. It’s not something that’s teachable either. Either a person has it or they don’t and I happen to have it so I will keep showing up any time an opening exists in front of a microphone and they allow me to fill it. I need the exposure for comedy and I still hope to be able to find a way to sell tickets and put some butts in seats.

I love making people laugh. I love it. I’m an addict. Getting emails or calls having a total stranger tell me they were having a bad day and then I totally made them laugh so hard the bad feelings went away is what I live for. I know I’m a wackadoo and am up and down all over the place so knowing I brighten someone else’s life once in a while makes me happy.

It’s a total rush to be on stage and being on the radio is fun too especially when I get the other people on the air to laugh out loud. I can’t get enough of that. I don’t care if it’s the traffic person or the news reader or a caller. Getting someone to laugh on the air is a thrill. It’s real and natural and sends good vibes out everywhere. I can feel it. I felt it today too.

I’m off schedule of what I thought I’d be doing this year but I’m ok with it. I’m working lots of comedy gigs and getting lots of radio air time and that’s all good. I did go stop at a branch of my bank today and ask about opening up my business account. I got the pack of stuff from the lawyer with all the incorporation papers so I think I’m ready to get started.

It’s going to have to wait a little longer though because I have to go to Wausau and do a gig tomorrow. I’m getting all kinds of last minute things like this falling in my lap and why turn any of it down? It’s free money at this point and I’d be stupid to shut that faucet off.