Saturday, November 29, 2008

Drifting And Thrifting

Saturday November 29th, 2008 - Spring Grove, IL

I’m still thinking pretty clearly but that could change at any minute. It’s holiday season and if I see the wrong holly berry on the wrong McDonald’s bag at the wrong time I’ll be in a deep dark ugly funk looking to shank all of Santa’s elves with a broken candy cane.

So far that hasn’t happened and I’ll count it as a positive. I’ve actually been pretty bullet proof about all the holiday stuff and it hasn’t penetrated my psyche at all. I’ve never had a problem with anyone else enjoying it if that’s what they like but for me having to see it all the time was the point of torture. Now I don’t really care. I have too much to think about.

I’m starting to slide back into my old habits a little bit and I’m not liking that at all. I’ve been wandering aimlessly all over the place the last couple of days and I just can’t do that and expect to make any real progress. I need to make a plan and stick to it but I’ve slipped into my old way of doing what I like when I like. It’s fun but not smart if I intend to grow.

Today I got up and felt like looking at junk so I went to the thrift stores in Waukegan. If I was paid minimum wage for all the hours I’ve spent in thrift stores I’d be able to buy the best stuff there is and not have to scour thrift shops. The problem is I like scouring them.

Just like with the car auction there’s something very satisfying about finding something in a thrift store for a buck that’s worth five or ten or twenty. That happens a lot but even if it didn’t I’d still enjoy buzzing through them. It’s the hunt. I love to search for treasures.

The problem as I get older is it really cuts into my time. For years on the road I had lots of time to kill every week so rather than drink or do drugs I hunted down trinkets in thrift stores all over the country. I found some decent stuff but nothing earth shattering. It’s just something to do and it keeps my mind sharp by testing my power of observation. I love it.

I’ve found hundreds of books and self help tape series, many of which I still have. If I’d read those books and listen to those tapes I might not be trolling thrift stores and focus my time on getting ahead in show business. Even though I like it I should stop chasing junk.

Time is limited and every day is a race to get my business up and running. After that I’ll focus on actually selling something. I guess I can get ideas at thrift stores but every single thing in one has been rejected and tossed aside by someone. Maybe I shouldn’t be there.

Where I should be is wherever creative people are creating. That’s what truly motivates me, not finding a Norman Vincent Peale book for a quarter. Sure I love those books but it won’t do me any good if I don’t read and implement the stuff they say. I need to DO it.

Tonight I had a gig at a pizza joint in Spring Grove, IL. It was exactly 11 miles from my house and that’s never a bad thing. I didn’t like the crowd very much but I did my time so I could get paid and was grateful for the chance to do it. Gigs like these keep me afloat so I can have an opportunity to chase a bigger dream. Thrift stores aren’t where the dream is.

Friday, November 28, 2008

An On Night Off

Friday November 28th, 2008 - Elgin, IL

A night off tonight. I had a gig but it was still a night off. Jim McHugh booked a benefit show to raise money for another youth baseball team and we had to fill 90 minutes. These kinds of shows are very easy and they usually end up being shorter than 90 minutes due to raffles and giveaways before the show and introductions of all the people who helped out.

Jim works his ass off on these shows and I appreciate him thinking of me to be on them. He handles all the communication with the group and also puts the lineup together so all I need to do is show up and perform. That’s all most comics want and I am no exception.

It doesn’t interest me in the least to have to go sell a show but I think it’s coming to that very quickly in our business. Clubs aren’t what they were and we all need to branch out to make a living and keep working regularly. Jim is on the right track with this and I hope he succeeds because the more shows he gets the more I will be on. We match up very well.

He’s trying to carry on the idea of the Chicago Style Standups which is still an excellent concept. Several experienced comedians on one stage at one time riffing back and forth is an entertaining show. It’s also very easy to do because we all have a lot of solid material.

Cherry picking the best bits on any night isn’t hard at all. Most of us are headliners so if we are only on for 20-30 minutes it’s like a night off. Then, if the show goes well we’ll be able to come back in six months or a year and have a show that’s almost completely new.

Tonight was not that exact format. Jim decided it would be best to do a traditional show of one comic after the next. He did about twenty minutes to host the show and brought up Patti Vasquez who did about thirty minutes. The audience liked them both so I knew they would probably like me too. I was only supposed to do thirty minutes so I leaned into it.

If there’s one thing I know how to do it’s stand on a stage and let it rip. I talk quickly so the shorter I’m up there the more of an effect that has. Thirty minutes is like a vacation so I can put all the best bits in a row and keep pummeling them until they can’t get a breath.

That’s what happened tonight. I went up and started talking fast and kept going until the whole crowd was with me and I hammered them until they couldn’t take it anymore. They were strong laughers and I was able to get on a roll in a short time and when that happens it‘s like skipping a stone across a pond. All I had to do was wait until the laughs stopped.

There have got to be more shows like this to be had, right? I would think so anyway. If I could do shows like this in town and make even so-so money I’d totally do it. It still gives me a stage fix but I don’t have to sleep in a mildewy motel room and drive a zillion miles.

Jim McHugh is a good comic and he is the perfect guy to run these shows. There aren’t a lot of people who are good onstage that can sell a show too but he seems to be getting a feel for how to do it correctly. I’m very happy to be an Indian and not a chief in all of this.

Dr. Thankenstein

Thursday November 27th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Comedians are complainers by nature. It’s what we do. We see something that’s not the way it’s supposed to be (or at least how WE think it’s supposed to be) and we harp about it. We piss. We moan. We whine. We bellyache. Then (hopefully) we point out the funny.

I must admit I’m pretty good at complaining. I’ve been dealt a poker hand in life that is not always pleasant and some of the things I complain about may even be legit but this is not the day to beat on that bongo drum. This is a day to focus only on what’s gone right.

Have I ever had to have kidney dialysis? Nope. Have I spent even one day in a coma or a wheelchair? Uh - no again. Have I been sexually abused as a kid? Have I had to get big needles stuck into me constantly because I’m diabetic? Have I ever had a rabies shot? No, no and no again. For all the things I’ve had to endure there are a lot more I’ve avoided.

I might have had to eat a meal or two I wasn’t thrilled about but I never had to miss one due to famine in my home land. I never once had to experience a drought where there was no water anywhere. Never have I had to get an air drop of emergency supplies in a crisis.

I’ve heard plenty of tornado sirens in my life but haven’t actually had to see one destroy my house and my neighborhood. I’ve never had a fire destroy my entire life and get saved at the last minute by jumping into a fireman’s net in my underwear at 3am to save my life.

What about diseases? Have I had cancer? No. AIDS? No. Anything other than a cold or flu bug that passed in a few days? Nope. I’ve been healthy most of my life. I can walk and believe it or not I’ve always been pretty athletic and good at sports too. I don’t have a bad back or arthritis and I’ve never had to have knee surgery or get a hip replacement either.

I’ve never had to be passed over for a job because of the color of my skin or my religion and I never had to drink from a certain faucet or sit on a certain place on a bus either. I go where I want and do what I want and even though I have to watch my pennies I’m usually able to pay my bills every month. I’ve never had to declare bankruptcy or live in a shelter.

I am not a political prisoner and I never had to be persecuted and placed in a camp to do forced labor just because I was of a certain ethnicity. I’ve always been able to read and get served in restaurants and I have not had to experience a child or spouse being murdered. I also have never had to go to war and face the chance of being killed on a constant basis.

For all the bad choices I’ve made I did choose to pursue a profession I absolutely love. I have been able to make a living at it my entire adult life so far and I’ve met so many great people I can barely keep track of them all. I’m thrilled to be a citizen of this country and it was an even bigger thrill to be able to see most of it as I have spent my life exploring it.

I’m sure I’ll be able to think of quite a few things that aren’t to my liking on another day but today I want to be thankful for the things that have gone right. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Radio Redirection

Wednesday November 26th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Radio is a game of musical chairs. Everybody moves around from job to job and station to station and it’s very unpredictable. Today I had two scenarios develop I didn’t plan for and they happened at two different stations. One was pleasant and one was bittersweet.

The pleasant surprise was getting a call from Jerry Agar asking me to join him in studio live on WLS tonight. He filled in from 7pm to midnight and looked to keep it lighter as it really doesn’t need to be news oriented on the day before Thanksgiving. People are tired.

I always love hanging out on the air especially when it’s with Jerry and on WLS. That’s a legendary radio station and at night it goes to about 38 states and much of Canada. I will bet more people heard us in this one single hour than saw me perform live the entire year.

That’s the power of radio. I wish I’d been able to plug Uranus Factory Outlet but that’s not ready yet so I didn’t. We just riffed a little about stuff Jerry had prepared and it went well. Monica DeSantis is the news person at that time and she added to the mix as well.

It was just plain FUN to be on WLS for an hour at night riffing with my friend Jerry. It isn’t often the airwaves of a major radio station open up like that so I’m thrilled he called. He didn’t have to do it but since he’s off the air and still being paid for a short time longer he thought it was smart to keep his name out there and I agree. This was good business.

He basically had a five hour commercial for himself and that never hurts. He received a lot of calls from listeners wishing he was back on the air and he handled it all with class. I don’t know of many people who could have done that but Jerry did and it only looks good for him even though he doesn’t have an actual job. Stuff like this will help to get him one.

The bittersweet news was getting a call from my Mothership Connection co-host Scott Markus telling me he got a job in L.A. and this Sunday will be his final week on the air. I think he may have thought I was going to be upset with him but not at all. It‘s a big break.

That kid is very sharp and I was lucky to have him as a co-host for as long as I did. He’s 28 and has a brilliant future. He’s a film maker and a published author and has done more things in his 20s than most people do in a lifetime. He’s got success written all over him.

It’s sad he won’t be an in studio co-host every week but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be part of the show. He can be on the phone or do recorded bits or whatever he wants if it fits into his schedule. He and I will meet up on Sunday and decide where to go from here.

This is how radio works. I expected Scott to be around for a while and he’s gone. I had thought Jerry was off WLS but now he’s back on - for a night anyway. That’s how it goes and I’m glad I’m able to roll with it. I’ve seen it happen too many times to let it get to me but a little stability would be nice at some point. I’m sure not doing it for the money. Now I have to rethink the whole Mothership Connection show and see if it’s worth my time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pat McCurdy Is Great

Wednesday November 25th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI

Sometimes my days just unfold out of nowhere. Today was one of them but it ended up being positive. I had to go to Milwaukee to get some banking stuff taken care of and I had to go to Wells Fargo bank to do it. I opened an account there back when I lived in Utah.

The only problem is there aren’t any in Illinois. Wisconsin has a few so whenever I find a need to make a transaction I drive up there and do it. I keep the account open because of convenience on the road. Sometimes it’s good to have an account at a bank especially for check cashing purposes when getting payment from clubs or venues. That’s why I do it.

I had planned on just shooting up and back but as I drove up I was listening to the radio and heard that Dan Needles was not in studio on the D List on ESPN Radio 540. I have a free ticket to walk in any time I want so I thought I’d head over and say hello to everyone.

Drew Olson is always very generous with mike time and I love hanging out with all the people at the station. The vibe is laid back and always a lot fun and sitting in Dan’s chair for today was Trenni Kusnierek. Trenni covered the Brewers and is very good at what she does. She just got a job with MLB Network and today was her last day before her move.

She is very competent and I can see why she got the gig. She was super nice off mike as well and to me that’s the sign of a really good person. Drew has always been outstanding and he surrounded himself with those kinds of people from Dan Needles to Trenni to Jon Greenberg from the Milwaukee Admirals to a whole list of others too. Drew is a winner.

I was just enjoying sitting in on the show and bantering back and forth when the door of the studio opened and in walked one Pat McCurdy. Pat is a Milwaukee music icon and he just drips with talent and charisma. If you haven’t seen Pat perform live make it a point.

Drew used to work for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and wrote a feature story on Pat years ago that was really well done. I had always heard of Pat but since I performed at the same time he did I didn’t get to see him. Drew suggested we all go to a Brewers game and that’s what we did. We all hit it off immediately and just hung out and talked about life.

I ended up telling Pat the infamous bank robbery story and he brought it up again in the studio this morning. We all went on the air and it was about as fun as radio gets. Since the Packers were drubbed on Monday it was very smart to bring Pat in for a feel good vibe.

I have always respected Pat McCurdy not only as a performer but as a hard worker and sharp businessman too. He hustles his ass off and works a circuit he created and I respect how he’s kept it going for years. I think he deserves the best and I’m a big fan always.

These are the kinds of times that make life truly fun. Hanging with Drew and Pat and to meet Trenni before she heads to the network was a huge boost in the feel good section of my psyche. I especially was glad to tell Pat McCurdy on the air how much I respect him.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Packer-Proof For A Day

Monday November 24th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Call a doctor. I think something’s wrong with me. The Green Bay Packers got stomped on like grapes in a tub and I don’t really care. I watched parts of the game between acts as I hosted the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago tonight and I didn’t blow a gasket like I usually would in this situation. I just saw it for what it was - a crappy football game.

Either I’m starting to die inside or I really am changing for the better. I used to be upset if the Packers lost, especially like they did tonight. They got embarrassed, spanked, blown out and torched - all in the same night. John McCain put up a better fight two weeks ago.

I really hope I can keep this mindset going because it’s amazing. I know I am prone to a few low spots and I’m sure I’ll get a few more if I’m lucky to keep living but to be over a lifelong Packer addiction would really free up a few extra brain cells for useful pursuits.

I’ve always known it was stupid to waste energy fawning over a bunch of steroid taking millionaires who care about it way less than I do but I couldn’t help myself. It was a habit I’d acquired in childhood and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t break it’s iron grip no matter how hard I tried. Now for whatever reason I just looked at the game with apathy.

Sure, I’d like it if they won but since they didn’t I just finished the show and didn’t let it cross my mind again. I had enough to focus on with that. The audience tonight was a very large and very young and a very stiff bunch I had to do my best to whip into shape. It’s no fun doing that but that’s why they pay me. If anyone can get them going it would be me.

I’m not saying that to brag but I’ve probably been through more of these kinds of shows than most other comics. I know how to get the audience ready for the next act and it took all the energy and experience I have to pull it off. They just weren’t buying anything at all and everyone had to work extra hard. It’s just one of those nights and everyone has them.

One of the people on the showcase was my former student Vince Carone. I have spoken of him before but I haven’t seen him perform in a while. Even though the audience was a bunch of cadaveristic stiffs and didn’t want to laugh at anything Vince brought some heat.

He gave it all he had for ten minutes and he’s got some funny newer material I haven’t heard. The crowd didn’t immediately take to him or his material but he stayed with it for his whole set and ended up beating a few laughs out of them. I’ve done that a few times.

I’m really proud of Vince and his development. He was a hungry na├»ve kid of about 19 when he took the classes but now he’s 25 and really settling into his stride nicely. He’s a good guy and thinks funny and looks good on stage and TV too. He’s going to hit it big.

What exactly ‘big’ is I don’t know right now but he’s already WAY farther than I ever was at 25. Hell, he’s almost farther than me now. But that’s ok. I am very happy for him because I know he won’t abuse his good fortune when it comes. I’m glad I could help.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maximum Effort

Sunday November 23rd, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Today was a great day for reflection. There was no Packer game to watch or Mothership Connection radio show to do so I sat around sorting out both my deepest thoughts and my shallowest possessions. It was very productive and I was at peace with everything all day.

I’m thinking so clearly right now it’s almost scaring me. Maybe it’s finally that time in my life my grandmother used to talk about when it all comes together as a person finally figures out the mysteries of life. After that it’s a race to actually do something about it.

She always spoke of a giant window closing slowly in everyone’s life and it was up to each one of us to get through our personal life window before it closed for good. The few that made it would win the game and the rest would be left to ponder what went wrong.

All I know for sure is something inside me feels different in a very good way. It started with all this insanity with The Embezzler and his little circus. I was getting very angry to the point of feeling hatred and I knew I didn’t want to go in that direction but sadly I was.

Then for whatever reason the hate just stopped flowing. I felt the same when I’d learned my step mother died years ago. As a kid she was almost as evil and nasty as my father but when I heard she died all my ill will left and it never came back. I know this won‘t either.

How do I know that? I can’t say. But I do. It doesn’t mean the whole ugly mess doesn’t still sting because it hurts to be stolen from but as far as taking it personally and my own inner flaming rage that has been doused like a camp fire. Those guys are losers. I’ll win.

It’s like I tapped into some higher flow of thought and I’m filling my canteen as full as I can while it’s still flowing. I don’t know if it will last forever but it’s flowing now so why ask why? I want to run, jump or pogo stick through my window so I can win this game.

Now it does become a race against the clock. Whoever is trying to copy me is not trying to get through their own life’s window which is closing on them as mine is closing on me. I don’t have time to think about anyone else. I have my own race to run and I want to win.

What will allow me to win my race is to keep following this inner voice I’m hearing for as long as it keeps talking to me. It’s the same one that threw me the idea of becoming the King of Uranus and that’s still a winner over a year later. Who or what is this inner voice?

It’s not the same one that told David Berkowitz to become the Son of Sam. I don’t even have a dog so it can’t tell me to kill anybody but that’s not what I want. I was considering whether I should club my ex partner with an ax handle but now I just don’t care anymore.

I don’t even want to be wasting brain space on that guy or his cohorts. They’re all dead to me. I was nice to them and they stole from me and laughed about it. They’ll burn out in due time and the reason is they don’t have the passion I do. I’m in a very good space now.

Now it’s time to really stretch the limits and take my life farther than it’s ever been. It’s taken a long time to get to this place and I feel like I’m a mature adult but still very much a kid too. I never had a chance to be a kid when I was young so I’m going to love it now.

Part of being a kid is taking risks nobody else would think of taking. Rolling the dice on becoming ‘The King of Uranus’ isn’t something the typical 45 year old male is doing. I’m sure not many 45 year old females are doing it either. NOBODY is doing it except for me.

That might scare off most people but I am loving every second of it. I’m not afraid to be successful with this and I’m not afraid to fail either. Actually I can’t fail. It’s already been a success just in the reaction I’ve gotten from others who hear of it for the first time. It’s a winner and I know it and now I have to make it successful both in theory and in reality.

This is something I can control and I will not abuse my power. I will surround myself at every turn with good people who will come together and make a fantastic team that won’t be able to be duplicated. The sum will be greater than the parts and I’ll be at the top of it!

If I’m going to be at the top of anything I have to reach the bottom of myself as a person first. I need to dig down deep and plant deep roots in myself if I am to be a leader of other people. I don’t want to be a hypocrite but if I don’t work on myself that’s exactly what I’ll be. The first place to look to make major improvements in this ugly world is the mirror.

I’m not giving my maximum effort and that needs to stop immediately. How can I be an inspiration to others when I’m not even happy with myself? What would make me happy? MAXIMUM EFFORT. I truly believe that. Giving my personal all is what I need to do.

I think that’s what Vince Lombardi based his life on and any other true winner does too. It’s not easy and few people ever even sniff around the edges of it but those who dare will reap major rewards. The human spirit is amazing and when it’s firing properly who could defeat someone with a vision? Look at the people who survived the Nazis. They won big.

I want to win big too. I might be in a less than desirable situation but I’m surely not in a Nazi concentration camp. I can walk. I can see. Well, I wear glasses but I can still read the paper. I can drive. I have a car. I have a skill that I love that can earn me a living. I’m in a country no matter how messed up it is will still let me chase my dream. I’m going to win!

All these thoughts ran through my head today and I am as pumped up as I have been at any time I can ever remember. I can’t explain it anymore than I have but there is an inner vision that I can’t remember having before that’s letting me see the big picture of life in a way I’ve never seen it before. Now I will take action and begin my race to true success.

I’m not afraid to die but more importantly I’m not afraid to LIVE either. I am the King of Uranus! This life is only a temporary stop so let’s make it fun. I’m not going to worry about anything other than looking inside of myself and becoming the best me I can make myself. If I do that I won’t have time to hate anyone else and splash around their mud pit.

Respecting Rodney

Saturday November 22nd, 2008 - LaSalle/Peru, IL

My comedy hero Rodney Dangerfield was born on this day in 1921. Actually that’s not totally true. Jacob Cohen was born on this day and later changed his name legally to Jack Roy. Rodney Dangerfield was a stage name but that’s the one that everyone remembers.

Whatever the trivial details are Rodney is still my comedy hero today. What a style that guy had. He was and is my all time favorite comedian and his movies are still funny too. I laugh out loud when I watch him in ‘Caddyshack’ or my personal favorite ‘Easy Money’.

His standup is the best too. I was in high school when his record ‘No Respect’ came out and it just blew me away. It still does. His jokes are crisp and rapid fire and there is a fast paced rhythm there that I just love. It’s very much a style that works for him. It’s musical.

I am thrilled that I got to meet Rodney but I bet we would have gotten along very well if I had gotten to know him better. Guys I know that knew him better like John Fox or Larry Reeb and a few others have all said he and I would have hit it off. We are of the same ilk.

Rodney was the ultimate dented can. He struggled and overcame things his whole life to become a dazzling success. Who can’t respect that? The only place Rodney didn’t get the respect he deserved was in his act. Every comic with a clue knows Rodney was a master.

Numerology talks about the numbers 11 and 22 being ‘master numbers’. People with an influence often have a birthday on the 11th or the 22nd and Rodney is one of them. George Clinton is another hero of mine and his birthday is July 22nd. Coincidence? I don’t know.

I do know that I’m of the same comic pedigree as Rodney Dangerfield. People come up to me after shows and say ‘You remind me of a young Rodney Dangerfield. You don’t do his jokes but you just remind me of him.’ I know now it’s the best compliment I can get.

It happened tonight even. I worked a place called ‘The Super Bowl’ in Peru, IL. Or is it LaSalle? The town is billed as LaSalle/Peru and I don’t know exactly which one I played but I do know wherever it was the roof was blown off. I was on fire once again tonight.

I did about an hour tonight and didn’t even do my big closing bit. I ran out of time. I did some of my usual bits but I put them out of order just to see how I could recover. I also let my act breathe. I relaxed and ad libbed and riffed like a jazz musician and it all worked.

They got their money’s worth tonight. Sure enough after the show people lined up to tell me how funny I was when a couple said it again: ‘You remind us of a young Rodney up there.’ I informed them that today was Rodney’s birthday and thanked them for saying it.

I know in my heart I’ve got a talent and I’ve worked hard to develop it. I had fun tonight but I have to hope there’s more than just playing bowling alleys in LaSalle/Peru, IL. I like these people but I want to play the big rooms like Rodney did. Tonight was in his honor.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hope Sweet Hope

Friday November 21st, 2008 - Schaumburg, IL

I’m in a fantastic space in my head right now. This past week has been a nightmare and a half but I’m not going to even think about that anymore. Whatever is done is done and I can honestly say I did my best to handle things honestly and above board. I called it like I saw it and if someone doesn’t like it they can briskly lick the salty dew from my testicles.

Two things really put me in a great mood today. No, three. First, I stopped to eat at my favorite sushi restaurant at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg and there was a kid at the table next to me who wouldn’t stop laughing at everything I did. This kid was a peach.

I’d say he was about four years old and every time his parents weren’t looking I would make a face or put my chopsticks in my mouth like walrus tusks and the kid would squeal with laughter. It got to the point where people were turning around to see the kid’s laugh.

What better feeling is it than to make a kid laugh? His parents eventually caught on that it was me and then the kid came over and tried to put a piece of shrimp in my soup bowl. I yanked it out of his hand and ate it all in one motion and that set him off on a laugh riot.

The only thing better than making that kid laugh is making an audience laugh and that’s the next thing that made the day so satisfying. Tonight Jim McHugh put together a benefit show for his son’s high school and there were four of us on the bill. Besides both Jim and myself we also had Mike Preston and Sonya White and everyone had a super hot show.

Jim worked his ass off on this show and many of his friends and family came out to see him so he was amped up to do a good job. The venue was the Prairie Arts Center which is a 440 seat theatre in Schaumburg, IL and the crowd was pumped and ready to see a show.

This is the kind of ‘soft seat’ theatre venue I love to work. The seats all face the stage so there are no tables or waitresses and the sound is killer so the laughter explodes when it’s a hot crowd. Tonight’s was nuclear hot. Every one of us lit into them and let it really rip.

Nothing and nobody can touch me when I’m up there during a situation like that. I’m on my game and in a zone and my thinking is razor sharp like a prowling tiger. I know what I need to do to get the laugh and working with three other veteran professionals is heaven.

This is what I want to do every night. Working gigs like these is a breeze. We only have to use a small amount of material with this format so if we came back two or three or four more times we could really mix it up and give them a unique and different show. I love to ad lib too and this was a great night to do that. It was a great audience and we all had fun.

The last and most lasting thing that put me in a heavenly mood was the long list of calls and emails I received today from many of my former and current comedy students. All of this insanity going on has really brought out the best in those who are my fans and friends and all day it was one message after the next with one being more heartfelt than the next.

THIS is why I teach comedy classes and am so viciously protective of my students. The majority of those who ever come out are never going to be full time comedians. I tell it to all my new classes and I mean it - comedy is REALLY hard and only a few can ever do it.

There are so many other things involved than just being funny and very few ever have a combination of what it takes to outlast the game and beat the odds. Every level weeds out another batch of hopefuls until it gets to the level I’m at which is ‘lifer’. I am an oddity.

Very few of my students ever make it to that level but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t glad they took the class. I have had all types of people from teachers to cops to actors and actresses to speakers to ministers to sales people to lawyers to just about any other kind of profession you can think of take the class through the years and many contacted me today.

They all saw right through the juvenile pinhead antics of Mr. Embezzler and his spoiled little rich brat act and took time to either write out long heartfelt emails of appreciation of what taking the class meant to them or they called and told me how much fun they had in class. One or two would have been great but I lost count after about thirty or forty. WOW.

Being able to touch someone on such a personal level for a lasting amount of time is my biggest thrill. I guess I didn’t really realize how many people I had affected in such a very positive way but hearing so many of them in one day let me know I did what I’d set out to do in the beginning. I wanted to encourage and uplift newbie comedians and I’ve done it.

Those people are like my own children even though some of them are older than me by several years. They’ve been friends and fans and supporters over many years and I would protect them to the death. Would you protect your children? Most good parents would. If those other scoundrel rodents try to steal from or scam my students I’ll bitch slap them.

This is very personal to me just like the experience in class is personal to the students. It becomes part of their lives like a big event. Many people have told me their comedy class graduation was as or more important than even their high school or college graduations.
Steve Stern wrote an especially moving email. He’s a high school teacher and he took a class many years ago. His wife cheated on him and it was very painful and he wrote a bit about it that got huge laughs on his graduation night. It was both therapeutic and the most fun he’d ever had. He said how the classes have made him a better teacher for years now.

Norman Lorvig is a private investigator who has taken the classes several times. He’s a true character and he wrote some jokes about the situation that I didn’t even think of and I laughed out loud. I’ve known Steve and Norm and a bunch of others for many years now.

These are the kind of people I want to share my life and time and creative energies with. They’re positive and hard working and honest and there are enough of those to work with without having to waste my time with jealous and untalented idiots who think they’re not required to pay any damn dues. We ALL have to pay dues and today mine paid me back.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wow, I Must Be Important!

Thursday November 20th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Just when I thought nothing could surprise me I woke up to a phone call telling me my comedy students’ mailing list had been hacked into by The Embezzler. How the hell did that happen? I don’t know but it did. Sure enough I signed online and saw his little note.

Wow, I must be pretty important if some former business associate (and a piss poor one at that) has to break into my new mailing list (he stole the old one) and shoot off some big rambling diatribe about how I’m a pathological liar and he just ‘borrowed’ our money etc.

I didn’t read the whole thing because I didn’t have to. It just would have made me upset and who wants to get upset five minutes after waking up in the morning? Not me. I’ve got enough problems to last the entire day. I don’t need a big one in the face upon awakening.

This really put me in a different space mentally. I looked at how all this is going on and I completely lost all anger about this. I must say I was getting into a danger zone and very concerned about it. I am very careful about how I use the word ‘hate’ because I think that word is very powerful and should be used with caution. But I was starting to hate the guy.

I was upset with myself for doing it but I have to be truthful and say I really was starting to hate him for what he was doing to all I’ve worked so hard to achieve. Then I looked at how desperate he was to get a message to my students about what a good person he is but I need mental help and I just pitied him. What a sad attempt to justify himself and his life.

He apparently also got a call from Jay Leno as did the guy who wrote for Jay. The way he made it sound all three of them were laughing at me for what a pathetic case I was and how the story of my insanity is ‘spreading all around NBC’ and how Jay was saying how I was ‘hurting myself in show business’ and blah blah blah. I just stopped reading there.

Is any of that stuff true? Maybe some. Maybe all. Maybe none. I’m not going to even be concerned about any of it. I talked to Jay personally on the phone. I have nothing negative to say about him and never will. If he thinks I’m a flaming bilge hole that’s his right. But I doubt if I’m a blip on his radar or ever was. He’s got a lot bigger things to think about.

If my name is ‘spreading around NBC’ like he says at least they’ll have something new to talk about. I hope it’s a good diversion. I am already not working at NBC so it doesn’t really affect my life in the immediate future. If I burned that bridge it‘s not a life ender.

None of this makes any sense to me. I’m the first one to admit loudly that I’m a moody artist type and have the PERCEPTION of being difficult to deal with at times. That’s only from idiots though. Those who I mesh with love working with me and we don’t clash.

Perception is reality in many cases though and many times I’ve had to fight out of a bad perception right upon meeting someone because they’d heard stories about me. Whatever. Usually I can win them over within five minutes and after that there’s no problem at all.

If NBC is going to ban me by a story they heard third hand then sobeit. I guess I didn’t want to work there anyway. The same with Bob and Tom. If they’re going to kick me out of the studio for something I still don’t know what I did then I guess they’re the problem. I am a super nice guy and go out of my way to do whatever I need to to help any situation.

Why is any of this even coming up? If it’s me or something I did I’m truly sorry but I am having a hard time seeing what it is. If I was wrong I’d admit it and apologize and also try to improve myself so I wouldn’t do it again but in these cases I’m stumped as to why it is.

I’d love to be writing about how Jay Leno made some calls and heard I was not only an ass kicking comic but also a fantastic person too. There are a lot of people that happen to think that but none of them work at NBC apparently according to this latest news flash.

I’d also love to be back on the Bob and Tom show too. I would be great for those tours and be a super guy to work with both with comics and with fans too. I can’t force anyone to like me and I do try to be nice but sometimes I just clash with idiots. It’s not new at all. I’ve been a polarizer since childhood. Those who like me really do and vice versa too.

I’m sure that has to do with why I’m not farther along in show business. Political skills are very important and mine are very sub par. I’m getting better but that’s not going to be good enough. I need to improve dramatically. Jay Leno is a master politician and has been for years. That’s a compliment. He can do great comedy but his people skills are superb.

Mine are so-so at best. I love to be around people I like but don’t hide it very well at all if I don’t like or respect someone. To me that’s a time waster. I’d rather we cut the B.S. as soon as we realize we’re not meshing and both move on and find those we match with on some level. I’m totally fine with it if someone thinks I’m an ass but then don’t hang out.

I don’t blame anyone but myself for most of my situation. I could and should have gone to Los Angeles and stayed there if I wanted to be a player in the comedy business. Instead I rolled the dice with radio and roamed all over the country trying to find my niche there.

That never happened and now at my age moving to L.A. would be a waste of time. I am not what Hollywood is looking for and I know it. But I’m ok with it where I sit now. I am comfortable in my skin and will be happy to get steady work and have some fun with this whole King of Uranus concept. If that hits I’ll get calls from Bob and Tom and Jay too.

I did get some calls and wonderfully uplifting emails from a whole lot of people today. I was blown away by both the number and the depth of feeling in all of them. I sure am in a state of extreme wealth when it comes to friends and I’m grateful for every one of them. I was very moved by some of the emails I received today to the point of tears. Thank you.

This whole thing is now over in my eyes. If I’m a laughing stock who cares? I don’t. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing because I love it. I also love the people I’m doing it all with. If I keep letting my talent and abilities take center stage the wannabes can’t follow me there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jay Leno's Class

Wednesday November 19th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Every time I get a phone call and see ‘UNKNOWN’ on my caller ID it sends a chill up my spine. That tradition started years ago when I was in the process of going through my infamous bank robbery fiasco. When that word appeared on my caller ID it was usually a person from the government I really didn’t want to hear from but I didn’t have a choice.

I saw my phone ring this morning with that word in all caps on the caller ID and I felt it all over again. I answered with as much confidence as I could muster and heard the voice on the other end say “Hi, Dobie? This is Jay Leno.” Sure enough it was the real Jay Leno.

Apparently he heard of my rant from a few days ago that mentioned the whole big mess with one of his former writers and he called to ask me about it. He wasn’t condescending or mean or angry or pompous or anything other than a genuine guy asking a few questions about the situation. I told him my side of the story and apologized for even involving him.

I don’t think the average person realizes what a super solid reputation Jay has within the comedy business. When I started back in the boom years of the ‘80s everybody knew that the two top comedians in the whole comedy club world were Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.

There were those two guys and then there was everyone else. But even with those two it was always Jay first and Jerry second. Obviously both of them have achieved unparalleled success in their separate endeavors but there were some similarities that they both shared.

One of them was a superhuman work ethic. Bert Haas from Zanies in Chicago tells new comics of how in his heyday in clubs Jay was cranking out about ten new minutes a week. Wow! If you’ve never done standup comedy before that’s amazing. NOBODY does that.

Another thing they both had in common was a solid plan and they both worked it to the utmost degree. Jerry Seinfeld had one of if not the biggest sitcoms in history and Jay Leno has huge ratings on his Tonight Show. It’s hard to argue with proven successes like those.

But even more important was the reputation these guys had. I’ve never heard a negative thing about Jerry Seinfeld other than a few newbie idiot comics calling him a hack. That’s beyond stupid because if anything he spawned a generation of hack comics who borrowed his style and did it very poorly. Unfortunately Jerry gets blamed for that but it wasn’t him.

NOBODY I know has ever called Jay Leno a hack. They can’t. He isn’t. Bert Haas said that Jay Leno was the one comic he’s seen in the last 30 years that gets to the best joke on any given topic the quickest. I’d have to agree. I haven’t seen him live in many years but I was blown away the times I did. Bert is right. Jay has an act jam packed with killer bits.

There are many people and unfortunately some comics who have never had the pleasure of watching Jay work live and only judge him from his TV show. I think that’s a gigantic mistake. It’s not getting a chance to see the whole picture. Jay Leno is in the elite class.

I think it’s the same way Bob Hope and Woody Allen have been perceived by some. I’ll admit when I first saw Bob Hope on TV he was an older guy and I didn’t find anything at all funny about him. I thought he was a lecherous old coot making Brooke Shields jokes.

Then as I got into comedy myself and studied his body of work I saw how truly great he was and have a whole new perspective and respect for him now. Woody Allen is a victim of that too to a degree. Some people only see his later movies or don’t like what happened with his step daughter/wife situation but that doesn’t hide how truly brilliant his mind is.

I’ve always been taught to respect Jay Leno from my earliest times starting out. I’m one of the regulars at Zanies in Chicago and the owner Rick Uchwat and Jay are friends. Rick always told anyone who’d listen of Jay’s fantastic work ethic and why he was the greatest comic working in America. I listened to those stories and I’ve wanted to be like that too.

Then I hear stories of how at the end of the night Jay would walk over and drop a $100 bill in the waitress tip jar and also how he would shake hands with people who wanted to meet him after the show. Time after time I’ve heard stories like that and I’m sure if you’d ask most other road comics they’d say they’ve heard it too. He’s a legend among comics.

That’s why it was so impressive for him to call me today. HE did it. He didn’t have one of his lawyers or assistants or secretaries do it. He did it himself. I think that’s totally how it should be done and I’ve always tried to be like that myself but Jay Leno doesn’t have to do it. But he does. That’s just plain smart business. Who wouldn’t agree? I’m impressed.

I really wish those other goofs would go away. That’s what I really want. Jay made a lot of great points in our conversation and one of them was that in any business people get an original idea copied. He’s totally right but this is painful because it’s been so personal. If I hadn’t worked with those two before this would be a lot less emotional. This is personal.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen but Jay said he’d give his former writer a call about this and I’m sure he’ll make his decision from there. I have no reason to lie and I didn’t. If the guy hadn’t made those promises I’d say it but he did and he never delivered. It was on me to a certain extent too because I shouldn’t have believed his pie in the sky promises.

But I stupidly did. Part of it was because I really admire Jay Leno and have since back in the ’80s. Not only is he a fantastic comedian and businessman he’s also a car guy and any person who knows me knows I love cars too. His are a lot nicer than mine but I love them anyway. We got to chat about one of his many cars I saw on a documentary a while back.

It was an Oldsmobile Toronado he restored and I love those. I had one and it was a big giant petroleum belching highway SCUD missle with dual exhaust and an 8 track player. I loved that car and if I still had it it would be a safe haven should terrorists attack again.

Jay’s website for his cars is www.jaylenosgarage.com. I have been perusing the cars for a while and enjoying them. No matter what happens next I think Jay Leno is a class act.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thank You Gramps

Tuesday November 18th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I often speak of how wonderful I think my grandfather was and I mean every word of it. If it weren’t for him and his guidance in raising me I would be dead or in prison for sure. I still almost ended up both of those even with his help but I’m not and I have him to thank.

He was born on this day in 1912 and as long as I’m alive November 18th of every year is going to be my own personal holiday just as it will be on November 22nd which is Rodney Dangerfield’s birthday. Rodney was a professional hero but Gramps was my father figure.

As I look back on it now I see him for his greatness despite his faults. He was without a doubt a dented can and part of that stopped him from chasing the big dreams of his life. It never occurred to me then but I know now that he was a small time hustler. He never had the stones to pull the trigger on the big one and I think he regretted that to the bitter end.

He had his reasons for doing what he did and I wasn’t a part of his life until he was way past his spunky youth. He was 52 when he and my grandmother started raising me when I was abandoned by my parents who were getting an ugly divorce. Gramps often told me in later years he always felt like he owed me something because of the bad start I got in life.

He said he knew my father was lost and would never come around to the good side but I was a fresh baby and might have a chance if he took some time and helped me learn about life. He and my grandmother were having problems themselves but apparently I was what the doctor ordered because I kept them together a few more years while they raised me.

Gramps was just the best. He never once treated me like a child. He always talked to me like an adult even from my earliest memories of him even though I always remember that I called him ‘Gramps’. Always. Never ‘Grandpa’. He was a Gramps and always will be. If I had my way I’d play him in a sitcom. I know I could nail his character. It was so unique.

He would take me for walks and tell me about life as he made me laugh incessantly. His sense of humor was pretty corny on a certain level but his wit and wisdom were sharp as a straight razor. He was no B.S. and didn’t pull any punches and I love him for his honesty. He laid it out like it was and didn’t waste time with political correctness. He was dead on.

Those walks will always be with me and I know there’s a book of wisdom in all he took time to share with me then. I often refer back to something he said or did and it makes me either laugh or think and both of those are positive. I would give anything to see him now and show him how far I’ve come despite all the odds. I know he’d be beaming with pride.

I have some notes on the book I’d write about him because I’ve thought about writing it for years now. I took time today to organize it a little and put it in a file in my computer in a place where I can see it easily. He was a compiler of quotes and jokes and tidbits of info and trivia and just loved to learn. His wisdom was well thought out and it still helps me.

There would be nothing more I’d love than to finish that book in his honor. His wisdom is timeless and for the ages and I know many others could benefit from it too. I have a ton of other projects going now but this one would be my very favorite. It’s already written in the deepest most sacred place in my soul. Gramps wrote it there while he was raising me.

All I’d be doing would be repeating it like a parrot. He planted lessons inside me that he knew I wasn’t ready for then but they are beautiful blooming flowers now and I’m thrilled he took the time to plant them. I’d be in a lot worse shape if he didn’t. He knew he was an influence and he cherished the role. I just wish I could have had his guidance a bit longer.

Gramps died in December of 1981. I graduated in June of that year and he was gone by Christmas. He had cancer and the chemotherapy baked him like a meatloaf. Medicine has come WAY far since then and his last couple of years weren’t pleasant. I do remember us in his hospice room watching one last Packer game together. They beat the Saints 35-7.

The only positive influence of my childhood was gone and I was left to forge a life with whatever knowledge he gave me. That’s a tall order for a kid just out of high school but it was the hand I was dealt and that’s what I’ve played. I made some stupid mistakes just as all of us do but his wisdom and humor and strong presence in my life are still there today.

I remembered Gramps as I went to have a lunch with my friend Marc Schultz. He has a great tradition of organizing ‘showbiz lunches’ once or twice a year with local performers of all kinds and today was one of them. There were all kinds of people there from jugglers to ventriloquists to comedians to magicians and who knows what all. It was a total blast.

Jerry Agar showed up as did Ken Sevara and Tim Walkoe and we all sat at a table and I could barely eat because of the laughs flying back and forth. Another one who attended is a legendary magician named Marshall Brodien. Marshall is one of my all time favorites as a marketer because he used to sell magic sets on TV when I was a kid. I‘d bet he‘s rich.

I got to chit chat with him but a good friend of his is a magician named Ken Mate. I like Ken and met him through Marc Schultz. I told Ken about the Uranus project and he said I could meet up with Marshall at some point and maybe pick his brain a little. I’d love that. Today wasn’t the day for business talk though. We just all got together and laughed a lot.

Tonight I had a meeting with part of my new marketing team for comedy classes. I have some great former students and Kathy Romanowski is one of them. She’s amazing and is aching to get this project going. Rick Piccolo is a comedy lifer who has drifted in and out like many people do but he’s back in and wants to learn and also be around it. I love that.

My web person Shelley is also a former student and can help as will Kerri down there in Louisville at Tom Sobel’s office. I’ve got some great people lined up and now it’s my job to get them working in the same direction and delegate jobs to their strengths. I am loving the challenge and we had a very positive meeting tonight. I have a great vibe about all the people involved and 2009 could be a huge year. It’s about time. Happy Birthday Gramps!

Here Comes The Cold

Monday November 17th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Hello winter my old friend. The myth of global warming doesn’t hide the fact that we’re all about to get blasted by your fury one more year. I for one am not thrilled about it and if I had a reason to move somewhere warm I would. But I don’t. So get it over with already.

It snowed a little and the temperature dipped lower than the comfort zone and I realized I have to haul out my jackets from the back of the closet. I’ve been slipping in and outside for a few days but it’s a cold brisk walk to the car with no coat so I finally caved in today.

I also started sorting through all my worldly possessions to see what I can start throwing out, giving away or selling. Every time I do that it feels great and I feel a need to do it one more time. I’ve been accumulating a lot of stuff (mostly books) and it’s time for a purge.

I started with a couple of big boxes of miscellaneous clutter that were sitting around for way too long and bothering me every time I looked at it. I threw a bunch of stuff in boxes months ago just to get it out of the way and I said I’d get to it later. Today was finally that day. I sorted and found stuff I’d misplaced and also filled a giant hefty bag with garbage.

It always feels good to tackle this kind of a big job but it’s a constant struggle to keep it from choking me out. Between emails and calls backing up to paperwork for classes to all my mail and bills and collectible stuff it gets to be overwhelming. I can’t keep it all sorted out. Things pile up and I fall behind and then I find myself like now catching up way late.

The logical answer would be to get rid of as much as I can and lighten the load. I try but I always seem to end up accumulating more stuff and then it all starts over again. For now I will just go through what I’ve got and at least put it into piles and boxes and organize it.

I found some comedy notes I’d forgotten about and that excited me because I never did get a chance to do it on stage yet. I will work it in as soon as I can. I also moved around a lot of boxes and clothes and paperwork and prepared to put a dent in how much I own.

I really should dump my sports cards but that won’t be easy in these times. I don’t have any potential buyers for the whole lot and if I put them on Ebay it’s a crapshoot. Selling a big collection usually involves breaking it up into smaller lots and selling those. I thought I’d have set up at a few more card shows by now but those seem to be fading fast for now.

Again, the smart thing is to wait it out and keep slugging. Sorting all the cards into how I can sell them will take a lot of work and I’m not above doing that. It’s better to work for a while to get them in order rather than sell them in bulk to someone who’d rip me off.

No matter what happens at least I’m making an honest effort. I put in a full day’s work and then went to host a show at Zanies in Chicago because nobody else really likes to do it. I will take it and be grateful for it and move ahead with my other projects for the rest of the week. Making progress every day is what success is all about and today I made some.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pure Packer Pleasure

Sunday November 16th, 2008 - West Allis, WI/Kenosha, WI

No matter what problems I may be having in my life at any given time when the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears it all seems a million miles away. Today it seemed to be two million as the beloved green and gold shredded the Bears into soup meat 37-3.

I’ve said before how stupid this all is and how little it means in the scheme of life but to a longsuffering fully addicted cheese head brainwashed Packer zombie like me it was my finest hour. Not having to get the wave of phone calls and emails of taunting Bears pukes plus not having to make any myself because sometimes that’s better was double pleasure.

Stomping on the Bears until they’re bloody stumps of rotting smelly putrid meat is any Packer fan’s greatest thrill. I never get tired of it and if I could buy the DVD of this game and watch it over and over again I probably would. I’m surprised the NFL doesn’t do that.

That would probably be a hot seller. They have been televising games for decades now. Why not package up the television coverage minus commercials and sell individual game DVDs of every team? Maybe they could even do full seasons like other shows do. I’ll bet it would sell in the millions. I’d buy a few select Packer games from the past to rewatch.

Maybe they wouldn’t even need to make a DVD. How about just having a website with a full archive of games on it and charge a buck or two to download it and watch it once? I really think that would work as odd as it sounds. I’m a geek for the Packers and I’d do it.

I’d especially do it for a game like today’s because I didn’t get to watch it start to finish. I was up in West Allis, WI at the monthly baseball card show at Gonzaga Hall. I caught a few plays here and there because a few of the dealers had radios or a small TV with them.

I am never going to not enjoy sports cards either. It’s an escape. I needed a day of that to wash the taste of anger out of my mouth from The Embezzler’s constant attempts to make my life a living hell. I don’t enjoy being angry but I feel like I have to defend my territory.

Jay Leno takes pictures with a lot of people. Just because he took one with him does not mean he is endorsing their classes even if it looks that way. I have to focus on a lot bigger goal and get known myself. If I were known like Jay Leno this wouldn‘t even be an issue.

That’s a lot easier said than done but after thinking hard about it and trying to be logical that’s the proper answer. Taking a barbecue skewer and puncturing his lungs didn’t sound bad at first but after rethinking it that’s not the smart choice. I need to outwork that putz.

Taking a day off to go to the card show was exactly what I needed. I also had a fun time doing the Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha tonight. We had to be off the cuff because we didn’t have guests lined up but we pulled off a show despite of it.

We’re starting to find a groove on the air and listeners are calling in and it feels like it’s a morning show format at night talking about ghosts and UFOs. That could be a big winner.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Can't He Just Die?

Saturday November 15th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I’m about as angry as a humanoid life form can get right now. I’m seeing blood red and I’m ready to haul off and kick someone right square in the ass with steel toed work boots. Don’t worry - it’s not you. It’s my old ex-business partner again, a.k.a. ‘The Embezzler’.

This situation just won’t die and he won’t either unfortunately. I thought he’d gone back to Australia to suckle his mother’s teat and freeload there for a while but I received a note from one of my former students that just about sent me through the roof in a blind rage.

Apparently he is still trying to be in the teaching business because there was a picture of him standing next to Jay Leno. THAT is what capped it for me and I was ready to take his head off with a toenail clipper. If it would have been anyone else I would have let it pass.

What pissed me off so much was that another alleged comedian came to me a while ago and asked if I’d help him with teaching classes. He was a writer for Leno at one time so it sounded like a good idea because he promised me he’d get Jay to get a picture with me so it would legitimize my classes, book and tapes. Who wouldn’t make that kind of a deal?

I was stupid enough to take him at his word but he never came through with the picture with Jay or anything else he said he’d do. Then he started teaching his own mangled class not only in Michigan where he lives but he came right in my back yard in Chicago to do it here too. I called him on it and he denied every making that promise and then ignored me.

In the mafia this is how a person gets wacked. It’s a respect thing. I’m very respectful to those around me and if there is a problem I try my very hardest to fix it. I made more than my share of mistakes over the years but this wasn’t it. These pukes are stealing from me.

The Embezzler knew this whole story and then he pulled his little stunt and cleaned out the bank account from the Zanies classes which he was in charge of organizing. This took me totally by surprise and I’m still trying to reorganize and recover from it. To see his fat ass smirking next to Jay Leno made me want to crack his skull in half with a waffle iron.

I don’t blame Jay Leno for this. He doesn’t know or care and he shouldn’t but by every account I’ve heard of him he’s a straight up guy and would think this is totally wrong. It’s theft and other than stealing a comic’s act this comes about as close as it gets. I’m furious.

What am I supposed to do here? I know I should just focus on my own stuff but this is a major bone of contention with me and I can’t help but think about it. If I did this to any of those wank sticks they’d cry foul and try to ruin my name. They’d be the first to scream.

I have tried reasoning with this pud but he just doesn’t listen. He is purposely trying his best to hurt me because he knows how much passion I have for comedy and teaching too. He’s a money whore and pretty much admits as much so why does he keep trying to make this work when he doesn’t really love it? Because it looks like an easy buck and he’s lazy.

How I choose to handle this ugly situation is going to determine my political skills. I do admit I sent Mr. Embezzler a spicy email along with the forward of the email he sent with his mug plastered next to Jay Leno’s. I probably shouldn’t have but I felt I needed to do it.

I thought this guy was my friend for a long time. He appeared to be and he actually was good about helping me when I asked him to. When I had a bad car accident he drove way down to Ohio to pick me up. I helped him whenever I could too and that’s why I it was so big of a surprise when he cleaned out the bank account. I trusted him with my whole life.

He’s basically a fat lazy 40 something bum who is content to go nowhere in life. He’s a rich kid who never had to work and now that his daddy died and he didn’t get the millions he thought he would he apparently thought it was ok to help himself to our business fund.

I have plenty of my own faults and don’t claim to be perfect but one thing I haven’t had the guts to do is steal from a business partner and then go behind his back and start up the exact same business and try to undercut him. This whole thing is a huge pain in the ass to think about and I don’t know why he’s doing it. He was never this persistent for our stuff.

He knows how much this whole thing hurts me and he is bastardizing all my hard work over a lifetime and all the dues I paid and the hard struggle it took to get the information I use to teach my classes. He and his apes are trying to cash in the easy way on my efforts.

Who wouldn’t be furious about that? I know I’m not the only person dealing with a bad situation like this but it’s still a total downer. Nobody else cares and that’s why I have this daily forum so I can at least get it out of my system a little without committing a felony.

I can’t guarantee I still won’t though. If I were to see him or any of his minions today in my path I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t ball up my fists and start playing a tune on raw skull. There is only so much reasoning a sane man can do and then it’s time to use other means.

I’m not a violent person by nature and don’t want it to come to that. I must say though it wouldn’t bother me if the tax man showed up on his doorstep and looked into the fact that he hasn’t filed income taxes in over a dozen years. Maybe that’s a little factoid I can send.

I hate to be a petty little priss about this but those guys are stepping on my dignity and it is as painful as anything in my world. It’s all I’ve got and I’ve nurtured those classes for a lot of years and I am not going to give up my hard work to three thieves with a website.

There was a pigheaded guy who was my roommate in Utah when I lived there. We were friends or so I thought and he pulled his own little stunt that eventually caused me to have to lose my house. I tried reasoning with him many times but just like this it didn’t work.

He eventually died of a heart attack in a boat fishing with his father and son at age 50. It didn’t make me sad when I heard about it and I can’t say I won’t feel the same if I heard it happened to this varmint slug either. I wish this would just go away already but it doesn‘t.

Friday, November 14, 2008

25 Years Already?

Friday November 14th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

As close as I can figure it exactly twenty-five years ago today I stepped on a stage to try my hand at standup comedy for the very first time. I was a twenty year old punk without a clue as to what life was about or what the future would bring. That kid has now grown up.

Back then I would have given anything if I could have guaranteed myself all the things I ended up doing since that day. Now I would give anything for the chance to go back there and talk to that kid for an hour and tell him to do things differently. I sure screwed a lot of things up since 1983 but there weren’t a lot of people to offer guidance. I was on my own.

The one thing I’m thrilled about is that no matter what storms blew through my life I’ve NEVER stopped doing comedy since that day. Never. I was almost killed in two nasty car wrecks but that didn’t stop me from performing nor did several morning radio jobs I took to both pay bills and hopefully get seen or heard by someone. Too bad that never worked.

Even though I started in Milwaukee I am a Chicago comic. People in my age group that moved to L.A. and found success include Paul Gilmartin from TBS ‘Dinner and a Movie’ and his wife Carla Filisha who wrote for the sitcom ‘Still Standing‘. The creators are also both from Chicago and I knew one of them Joey Gutierrez quite well. He’s a funny guy.

John Riggi is from Cincinnati but I knew him when he moved to Chicago and he’s huge on the Hollywood scene. He’s a big time writer and multi-millionaire now. Mark Roberts is another mega talented writer and performer who I was very familiar with and hung out both in Chicago and L.A. when I was there. These are just the first few names I think of.

Pete Schwaba did his movie ‘The Godfather of Green Bay’. Steve and Leo were a team both as comics and writers and they wrote ‘Space Jam’ and ‘The Santa Clause’ among an impressive list of their successes. All of them had one thing in common - they had a plan.

I was all over the place just trying to survive. I had no family support and didn’t know a lot of people I could trust so I made my decisions along the way as I saw fit. As I evaluate my decision making skills now I have to give myself a ‘What the hell were you thinking?’ Sometimes I’d make some brilliant decisions and other times I’d completely blow it. I’ve usually not had much middle ground in my life but all these years later I’m still kicking.

I drove up to Milwaukee today to reflect on my life of the past quarter century. It wasn’t necessary that I went up there but I had a lunch date with a woman I’ve known for almost as long as I’ve been a comedian. We’ve drifted in and out of each other’s lives for reasons I still can’t figure out and for whatever reason we’re back in contact again. It’s strange.

She’s funny and good looking and I enjoy her company. She has had her own mountain to climb and has some baggage of her own but who doesn’t? She’s a good person and we just sat and had a low pressure lunch and talked about life a little. It was very relaxing and I don’t know if it will lead to anything but she’s single and so am I so at least I’m trying.

After lunch I took a tour of all my important Milwaukee landmarks all these years later. The first place I did comedy was called ’Sardino’s On Farwell’ on this day in 1983. It was a Monday night open mike showcase hosted by C. Cardell Willis who became my mentor and more of a father figure to me than my real father. That was the first time I’d met him.

Sardino’s has been torn down for years and there’s an apartment complex there now. I’d love a picture of myself from that era but I don’t have any. That’s a big regret now. I have done WAY better than anyone could have predicted including me and I would have loved to have shown everyone there that night a list of all the things I’d do in the next 25 years.

I didn’t start out full time of course. Nobody does. I had day jobs and struggled until my act developed and I was able to go on the road full time. That was in late 1985 and I have been performing ever since. Just because I never got hugely famous doesn’t mean I’m not a success because pulling off what I have from where I came from is a full sized miracle.

I drove past Shank Hall which is also on Farwell which was Teddy’s then. It was a rock club which did comedy on Sunday nights and where I got my first paid gig - $10 for a ten minute set. Boy did I stink then. I should give the $10 back. I could be charged with theft.

There’s no guarantee I have another 25 years left and whatever time I do have I will use wisely to help others avoid the mistakes I made. Still I was able to survive since 1983 and if you’d have told me that on that night I probably wouldn’t have believed it. But I did it.

Now it’s time to write about all of my adventures for that quarter century. I’ve seen and done all kinds of things most people never get to experience and they weren’t always in a good way. I had to dodge bank robbery charges for a bank I didn’t rob and get humiliated time and time again by club owners and radio pinheads and even my own closest family.

I’ve seen deaths and disappointments but I’ve also seen people like Jeff Foxworthy and Drew Carey and Frank Caliendo grow from the level I’m at now to being household name superstars of pop culture. They were all holding winning lottery tickets. I hold my own.

The game isn’t over for me yet but if I do hit anything it will be by sheer persistence for staying in the game this long and a little luck too. That’s always a factor. I’ve had a lot of bad breaks though. Sure I’ve made some whopper mistakes and I admit it but anyone who knows me also knows I’ve had more than my share of lumps along the way. It’s uncanny.

It’s also unchangeable. Whatever happened happened and it’s over. I’m where I am now because it’s the result of all the choices I made since this date in 1983 combined with the luck of the breaks I caught. It’s what everyone has to face up to and I am facing it head on without complaining. I made my choices. It’s time to choose again. I’m a lot smarter now.

I closed the day by going to the Milwaukee Public Museum. I haven’t been there since I was in grade school. I remembered some of the exhibits and enjoyed the rest. This was an excellent way to celebrate my 25th anniversary of comedy. I sure have earned my stripes.

Crab Legs And Kidders

Thursday November 13th, 2008 - St. Charles, IL

The end of an era. Maybe. Tonight was our one year anniversary as Jerry’s Kidders on WLS and we celebrated by doing a live show at Zanies in St. Charles, IL. It was also our farewell performance as Jerry is off the air and it doesn’t look good for his quick return.

The whole night was bittersweet. Mostly sweet on the surface but the bitterness was in the mix too. There’s no way Jerry should have been taken off the air but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. There was ONE lone idiot in New York who has zero programming experience who decided to pull the trigger and murder a successful show on a silly whim.

Does that pinhead feel guilty? I highly doubt it. He is probably on to other bloodletting and hasn’t given Jerry or his family a second thought. It’s inhuman and that’s what really made this whole thing so sad. We were starting to connect with listeners and it was on the cusp of being something to be proud of. Tonight we had a healthy turnout and it was fun.

Jerry called me this afternoon and after talking with Ken Sevara and Tim Slagle he said since we were doing the show he would show up in support since we supported him for a whole year by going into Chicago at our own expense to do our weekly bit on his show. It always feels awkward to show up after getting fired in radio but I‘ve had to do it myself.

I’m glad he decided to show up though and I picked him up on my way to meet my old grade school friend Tom Orlando for dinner. Tom and I meet up for dinner whenever I am in St. Charles and tonight was the night. Jerry went to the club to meet with Tim and Ken and Tom and I went to our favorite restaurant which is right on Route 64 in St. Charles.

It’s a great place that has upper end steaks and prime rib and THE most delicious giant Alaskan king crab legs I’ve ever had. It looks like the ribs the waitress brings Fred at the end of every Flintstones episode. These things must be on steroids but they’re delicious.

Tom had his usual prime rib and I had my usual crab legs and butter and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if my heart stops before morning. I know I should eat better and all of that whole wheat salad bar veggie plate hoo-hah but DAMN that plate of crab legs was good.

Tom is a great guy and very funny and one of my favorite people. He’s real and doesn’t hold back on what he feels and always has a great new story or five to share about all his latest adventures. He’s a sharp businessman and very successful and I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s earned everything he’s gotten and I’m just glad to hang out and laugh a lot.

The show at Zanies tonight was very strong. There was a hot crowd and Jerry was there and his listeners got to meet him and we hung out afterward as a group for one more time. We should all be on the air somewhere and that’s when the sadness set in. This wasn’t the fault of anyone other than some goof bag bean counter in New York and some last gasp at a career by a nontalent has been like Mancow Mauler. He bought his way on the air but it won’t change the fact that Jerry’s Kidders had a year of fun on WLS and we kicked ass.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting Even Busier

Wednesday November 12th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

It’s raining, it’s pouring, it’s anything but boring! Things are starting to heat up and I’m going to be in trouble if I don’t manage my time well every day. I’ve been putting out my feelers to people that I want to work with and they’re starting to come back in bunches.

Yesterday I heard from my writing partner Rick Kaempfer and he’s ready to get back to our movie script. That’s a good thing because Lenny Sisselman in Nashville wants it done so he can send it to his partner in L.A. The copy I gave him is making the rounds and if he can get a nibble we’ll need a finished copy for a big pitch or at least a finished treatment.

This is starting to get hectic because I also received an email from Linda Perret who has asked me to collaborate with her on an online comedy correspondence course and she’s at the point where she’s ready to move forward. Her dad was Bob Hope’s head writer and he has a fantastic comedy writing course which I’ve taken myself but this would be my own.

It’s an honor to be asked to work with the Perret family and I do trust them implicitly to be fair and upfront the whole way. That’s why we both agreed it would be best to go with a written agreement before we start stating both of our roles. I’m all for doing that. I did it with Rick Kaempfer and we’ve never had a single problem. It‘s all in writing and solid.

I’m sure our deal will be the same. We’ll come to an agreement as to who does what for the course and we’ll start it as soon as we can. It will add credibility to me and also allow Linda to have more products to sell people who have taken her dad’s course. It’s win/win.

I also met with a former student Kathy Romanowski who is a total marketing whiz kid. She’s done it for a living for years and years and has some outstanding ideas I would not have thought of myself. We met at Zanies in Pheasant Run with another guy named Rick who’s trying to get started in comedy but has some solid ideas too. I felt a creative vibe.

This is what I should have done years ago but for whatever reason I didn’t. Kathy has a lot of super ideas and she understands what I’m trying to do with all this. Rick has a lot of contacts I don’t and I don’t think Kathy does either. People like Shelley my web person or Tony Talley or any number of past students who have offered to help are also in the mix.

That was all yesterday. Today I received a stack of emails from Kerri in Louisville who has volunteered to run my site for the classes. She had some other things to do for a while and that’s fine but now she’s ready to let this project rip and she is asking me to get going and start shipping her text for the site and pictures and start making products to sell soon.

Kathy wants me to produce those same things so she can get them listed in places she is familiar with and also she has an uncle who is a printer and can help polish up this whole package. I can feel all this coming together and I never would have been this hungry if my former partner hadn’t embezzled everything like he did. That money has now become my investment and if I keep this vibe going I’ll take it WAY farther than I would have before.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks To All Veterans

Tuesday November 11th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Veterans Day. One thing I will not joke about is how grateful I am for my freedom as an American citizen. It was drilled into me by my grandfather and I still remember his telling me any chance he got how lucky I was to be born where I was and not to ever forget it. As long as I live I won’t forget it even if the direction our nation is going doesn’t thrill me.

People gave their lives by the untold thousands so I can call myself the King of Uranus. I have to believe a lot of countries would have locked me up by now and thrown away the key. Maybe they’d be right but in America I have freedom to pursue my big idea anyway.

In retrospect I don’t think it would have hurt me to have served in the military. I almost went in right out of high school but I backed out at the last minute. I had no idea of what I wanted to do back then and was still entertaining dreams of being a professional baseball pitcher. I don’t think that was in the cards either but now I wish I’d have done them both.

The main thing both of those things would have done was scratch my travel itch. I had a bad case of wanderlust and wanted to go ANYWHERE but Milwaukee. Either baseball or a stint in the military would have let me see some places and meet some different people I wouldn’t have met if I’d stayed home and worked at a factory like a lot of my friends did.

Now all those factory jobs are gone and so is the youth of my generation. There are a lot of people my age who have mortgages and kids and a bad marriage and their hopes are all dead. They never got out and saw the country and for most of them it’s too late for it now.

I am SO glad I found comedy and stayed with it all these years. For whatever heartbreak I’ve felt I’ve had ten times more satisfaction knowing I love what I do and I chose to do it as my vocational pursuit. All those places I didn’t get to see playing baseball or signed up in the military I saw as a comedian and I enjoyed every one of them. I found my calling.

Still on this day I think of all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and I’m grateful that I live in a place so many people are willing to fight for. I personally think war is stupid for many reasons but on this particular planet full of stupidity it seems to be an activity that’s way too common. If I had my way and ran a planet there wouldn’t be any wars to fight.

But I don’t run a planet or a country or a city or a block. I run me. That’s it. There are a whole lot of people I’m not fond of but I don’t plan on killing them. I’m fine with staying away from them and hopefully we can all just live out our lives in peace. I’m a big fan of peace but that’s not how it works on this planet. People seem to have to have blood here.

Just because I don’t like war or approve of mass killing doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate everyone who died to give me the freedom to say that because I totally do. Veterans Day is a day of reflection and I don’t want to make any of those deaths unimportant or wasted. It’s up to me and all of us to not allow this country to crumble and rot and I for one have a burning desire to not only end all wars but also to honor the sacrifices of those who died.

Dawn To Desk

Monday November 10th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Back on the good foot. Slump over. I had a feeling yesterday was a fluke and it was. I’m very experienced when it comes to prolonged depression related funks but this wasn’t one of those. If I never get one of those again I think I can survive just fine and I’d like to try.

Today went well from the start. I forced myself to crawl out of the rack and at least start doing SOMETHING to work through whatever slump I was in yesterday. I looked around for the best one day job to start that would do me the most good. I decided to clean off all the papers strewn on my desk and regroup. I scrubbed it feverishly and removed the dust.

I’m finding an organized desk is a huge asset. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it should at least allow me to know where my most important business papers are like checks to be cashed, bills to be paid, my calendar of open dates, class paperwork and financial records.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a complete list of contact numbers and emails either. All of that stuff is kind of in the same general area but I never know exactly where especially at most of the crucial times when I really need it. Today I made a step to make a place for all of it.

I also forced myself to lay out my big cork board on the wall with my top contact people for 2009 in four areas - Uranus Factory Outlet, comedy, comedy classes and radio as well. That was the best thing I did all day by far and it sure showed me how far I’ve got to go.

Finding the top ten people for each of those projects was not as easy as it sounds. I want to not only find the best people I want to find the best mix of people who are diverse and can help me get what I want depending on the project. I thought it through on all counts.

I now have a plan in place for the new year to at least look at my board and focus a little bit on each project every day and that’s already putting me ahead of the game. I should’ve done this years ago and I don’t have an answer why I didn’t. I’m doing it now though so it doesn’t matter. I put more organization into my life today than I have in a long long time.

Today would have been my father’s 71st birthday. I might not have even remembered it if it weren’t for it being the same day as the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There was a news story on it and I immediately remembered it was the old man’s birthday. Who cares about it now? I surely don’t. He’s dead now and the longer he’s dead the less I miss him.

It’s funny how his memory is just fading away now. He’s less and less of a factor in my life now because he never was one before. Not a good one anyway. What did it all mean? I have no clue. We never spent time together and there are ZERO pictures of us together.

I used to wish him a painful torturous eternity in hell for all the pain he caused all of us. Now I wouldn’t even walk across the street to piss on his ashes. He’s dead and never did anything exciting or worthwhile for himself or his family. I don’t want to be like that and I will spend the rest of whatever time I have trying to NOT be like him. I’m doing well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Moonbeams And Stardust

Sunday November 9th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Today was a day to forget. So I will. Nothing was firing properly no matter how hard I tried and I didn’t really try that hard in the first place. I slept too much, the Packers lost to the hated Minnesota Vikqueens and we had a horrible radio show on WLIP in Kenosha.

Days like this happen to everyone and today it was my turn. I’ve been in a good groove lately so I won’t let it bother me but I won’t dwell on it either. Shake it off. Move ahead. It’s when this kind of vibe lingers is when it’s bad for morale but I don’t think this will.

The Packers were bound to have an off year and this is turning out to be it. I didn’t get to watch the game because it wasn’t on in the Chicago market so that’s a positive. I guess I could have listened to it on the radio but I knew it was an off day and something told me to just go about my other business today and let this one go. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this.

My other ‘business’ didn’t get done either. I can see my desk piling up again and I have a growing pile of calls and emails to return and I could have put a nice dent in all of those piles today but I just didn’t. Did I take my nice long walk to get exercise? I won’t lie. NO.

The radio show just wasn’t happening tonight. We had a guest back out at the very last minute and that happens but we didn’t have much of a plan B. My partner Scott has been really on the ball with this and he did his best to find a replacement but it just wasn’t on a par of the shows we’ve been doing lately. This was a good lesson on how to be prepared.

Scott is not liking his new job and he was in a bad mood and our other host Lara wasn’t on point and I was off and we had no guest for half the show. That’s no recipe for a stellar radio broadcast and we plowed through it the best we could and were glad when it ended.

The good thing is we all just knew this wasn’t where we are and how we do it and we’ll come back next week and get back to our old selves. This was a blip on the radar. A freak of nature. A fluke. Whatever biorhythms were hanging out today were not in our corner.

There has to be something to all of that somehow. I’m usually not one to believe in that ‘moonbeams and stardust’ stuff like my grandpa used to call it but today had a vibe to it. I could really feel it and I don’t want to blame all my problems on a thing like that but I did get a feeling all day like I was fighting the tide rather than riding it. I’m just glad it’s over.

Was there a full moon today? I didn’t see one but then again I didn’t look. I drove home from the radio station thinking about the coming week. I have a lot of things I want to get done and get back to the good groove I have been in for the last little while. That’s what I want the majority of my life to be and as of late it has been. Today was a one day slump.

The key to success is what I do tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. If I let today drag me down and blow tomorrow then I’m in a rut. I don’t need that. I need to get up tomorrow and get to work on becoming the King of Uranus. My throne is vacant.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Night Trevor

Saturday November 8th, 2008 - Trevor, WI/Lake Villa, IL

It’s hard to explain but I feel like I’m seeing things crystal clearly as of late. I have a big picture scenario in my mind at all times and everything I am doing is leading to that place and I feel like I’m on the right path. Uranus Factory Outlet will be the center of my world and everything else leads to it. Comedy shows, classes and radio all go through Uranus.

I took some time today to visualize where I want to go with all this and who exactly I’m looking to associate with on the way there. I have a big cork bulletin board on my wall for making a battle plan and I cleared it all off in preparation to put a plan in place for 2009.

I’m going to divide the board into quarters and put together individual plans for each of my most important projects for the year. One is Uranus Factory Outlet. Another is classes. A third is the Mothership Connection radio show and the fourth is my career as a comic.

All four of these things have different people involved and require care and nurturing to grow. Sometimes I tend to wander and get lost or scattered but I won’t if I take time to do my daily due diligence for each project. The main thing is organizing all of my associates. I may be the King of Uranus but there are a lot more people than me that will be part of it.

I made a list of the top 5, 10 and 50 people that I have in place right now for each of the four projects and that should change as the year goes on. I will constantly be making more contacts and some people will drop off and other new ones will join on and that’s what is so much fun about all this. I want to find people who want to achieve something special.

I might be the leader but it’s the team concept that’s going to make this my life’s work and something to remember. There’s no way I can do it all myself and I don’t claim to be able to do that. I want to be like George Clinton and be the lightning rod for a big group’s creativity and like George I want to be the one all the others look to for creative energy.

When I’m doing things like this I’m never depressed. I haven’t had a bout with the dark monster for a while and I’m sure he’s going to make a return visit as he always does but if I can stay busy with this kind of creative vibe I don’t think he’ll stay very long. I’ll beat it. This is the place I need to remember next time the darkness comes and get over the hump.

I usually get depressed around the holidays and I hope I can avoid that this year. I wrote an email to my brother Bruce today asking to meet up with my other siblings Tammy and Larry and him too. For whatever reason none of them are talking to me and I don’t want it to last forever. I said I was sorry for whatever I did and I really am. I want to make peace.

Maybe we won’t ever be close or like a real family but if we could all just meet up for a chance to let the healing begin that would be the greatest Christmas I’ve ever had. I would be ecstatic to hear from them and go with a spirit of peace and healing and try to make the rest of our time here as pleasant as possible. I don’t know if I’ll hear back from any of the three because last time I wrote them letters they all ignored me. But I did try again today.

If they don’t respond this time either I guess it’s their loss. I am happy with where I am headed and have come amazingly far from where I started. It’s a true miracle to be where I am now considering how stacked the deck was against me from birth. I’m a long shot.

If indeed we’re here for a reason and the reason is to learn something or work out some issues from a past life if indeed that whole thing is true I’ve really made a lot of progress in my time here. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds and had to overcome some nasty odds to achieve minimal success but I sure did put forth major effort to get it. I earned my keep.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I died soon. It wouldn’t bother me either. Having no real family or roots is not my idea of fun and whatever choices and mistakes I made to put me in this position are done. All I can do now is try to undo what I can and writing that email was all I can do right now. I hope they are all in a good space and we can move past it all.

The whole issue of a wife and kids is over with me too. I don’t think it was meant to be for me in this particular plane of existence and I have to accept that. Getting it now won’t suddenly make up for a lifetime of feeling left out. I don’t think it’s in the cards for me.

What is in the cards right now is total gratitude for what I do have. I am in a wonderful groove creatively and that’s where I will draw my energy as long as I can. My family is a sore spot that may or may not heal but my creative side is where I go to feel like I belong.

I had one of the hottest gigs I’ve had in a long time tonight in Trevor, WI of all places. I didn’t expect much going in other than a chance to hang out with a few comics and chow down on some of the delicious pizza after the show. The joint is called Michael’s Pub and I’ve worked there a couple of times before. It’s exactly 6.5 miles from home. I love that.

How many times have I driven 650 miles or more to do a hellish one nighter for next to no money and either drive back all night or stay in a fleabag and contemplate suicide for a few hours and then make the long drive home? Tonight I had a 13 mile total round trip.

Except for the smoking laws in Wisconsin everything about this gig was outstanding. If I could find audiences like this every night and be in the groove I was in I’d be a superstar of world class proportions. I was on tonight and the audience loved it and we all had fun.

Jeff Lampton from Milwaukee was the opener and Mike Preston was the feature and the both of them did very well. For this particular audience these were two good matches and I went up and started riffing as soon as I got on. I did some of my bits but I switched them as much as I could to test my abilities and see how far the audience would let me stretch.

I felt like I had them right away so I went off on tangents and tried to be in the moment as much as I could and it worked out extremely well. I got off on a big applause break but didn’t do my usual closer. I didn’t need to. They had had enough. Then all the comics and I had some pizza and hung out for a while and made each other laugh. This was super fun and it didn’t matter if it was L.A. or New York or Trevor, WI. Fun is fun and this was it.

Lunches In Bunches

Friday November 7th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Vernon Hills, IL

My day’s activity list sounded like a Dick and Jane reader from back in first grade. Run, run, run. Go, go, go. Fun, fun, fun. Grow, grow, grow. I bounced around all over hell and back all day today having meetings with all kinds of people but they were all important.

I feel like I’m putting my own personal cabinet together as I prepare for my reign as the King of Uranus and I am choosing the people around me very carefully for many reasons. The biggest reason I am choosing anyone is that I feel they’re good at something specific that I can use now. I’m also trying to pick out quality people too. That means a lot to me.

My first stop was a lunch with Vince Vieceli. I almost missed it because of a bad wreck that detoured traffic on the way to the restaurant. I got lost and couldn’t find my way there and ended up being over a half an hour late. By the time I made it I was way stressed out.

Vince is one of the most professionally acting people I know. He’s always been a guy to plan his schedule and make follow up visits and send thank you cards and he is one of the most conscientious people I’ve ever met. I didn’t want to disrespect him by being late so I kept calling on the cell phone to give him updates but he never got upset during any of it.

I have a big pet peeve about being late. I can’t sand it. If I tell somebody I’m going to be there I do my best to show up on time. It’s a respect thing with me. I don’t like my time to be wasted and I don’t want to waste anyone else’s in return. It seems that I have too much stuff going on lately that I’m being late more and more. I have to get better at planning.

Vince is the perfect example of someone I want around me during all this. I’m a tornado blowing all over the place but Vince is very stable and reliable and if I ask him to do a job I can count on it getting done right the first time. He’s not the same demeanor as me and I need that desperately from at least a few of my associates. Stability somewhere is a must.

A while back I had Vince look over an outline of a shorter version of my comedy class I want to record on a CD. Not everyone wants to be a full time comedian but there are a lot who would buy a shorter version with some beginner’s tips and I’d love to develop that at some point. It would be a product I could sell at shows but also hope to get in stores too.

Vince went through my outline and ripped it to shreds and I love him for it. He not only corrected my grammar usage to the slightest degree he also revamped the order and made it WAY better than it was. He has a fantastic talent for the written word and I let him just run wild and do what he does. That’s his gift and I recognize it. He’s way above average.

As a comic Vince is funny enough. He does a decent job and I’ve worked with him a lot over the years. No offense to him but he’s never going to be a star as a performer. Not all people have that gift. It doesn’t come naturally to him but he works at it like few others in the comedy business. He practices and prepares and puts in his time to be his very best. If the majority of comedians had the work ethic of Vince Vieceli they’d be in great shape.

Vince manages a book store and aspires to be a writer of humorous essays. He’s around books and book stores and understands the publishing game. If I’m going to move ahead I will need to understand that game too. Vince is very willing to share just like I am and we have an opportunity to help each other. That’s why I called for a meeting so we can begin.

The first thing I did was give him a check for $100 as thanks for his help with the other project. I still have the outline and eventually intend to record it. The second order was to give him a copy of my one day comedy seminar text so he can start shredding that up so I can flesh it out into an actual book. Then I can either approach publishers or do it myself.

Vince was thrilled to get the check but he earned it. I don’t expect anyone to not get any pay for helping me and although I don’t always have money to pay people I thought that I owed it to Vince because he did such a fantastic job on the last project. He really nailed it.

Part of my job as the King of Uranus is to find people like Vince who have gifts that the public can’t see and bring them out. George Clinton is great at that and it’s a gift in itself to be able to recognize those of others. I have it. Vince has a permanent place on Uranus.

I’ve got a list growing of people I want to have in some capacity on this project even if I don’t know exactly what that is right now. My friend Tom Orlando from grade school is a perfect example. He was in radio and TV but now is in construction. He knows a hell of a lot of people and is a funny creative guy who loves the concept. That’s who I want here.

Eddie Horn is another one. He’s bursting with creativity and does puppets and writes all kinds of comedy and song parodies and does characters too. Wendle Snotzsky is the name of one of them and it’s absolutely hilarious. Eddie and Wendle always have a job with me but now I have to find a way to pay them. I have to pay me first and that’s my challenge.

Besides Vince and Eddie I have about fifty or sixty other people on my list who I see as various parts of the Uranus network. It will be my job to find their best way to contribute. Vince is an ok comic but an outstanding writer and editor. That’s his place. I’m basically a maestro putting together a giant orchestra of creative people and letting them go crazy.

I drove to Milwaukee to have dinner with my cousin Brett. I haven’t seen him in a long time and it’s always good to hang out and laugh. He’s also very creative and had ideas for the project and that made it worth the drive but it didn’t hurt that he bought dinner either.

After dinner I came back to Zanies in Vernon Hills and hung out with the staff who I’ve known for years. Scott Markus works there and we did our prep for the radio Mothership Connection show on Sunday and I also got to meet Craig Gass who was a very nice guy.

This was a day of meetings and networking but all of them were productive and fun too. If I’m going to create a winner with Uranus Factory Outlet I have to be the one up front in charge who sets the tone and I’m starting to do that quite nicely. I am putting the pieces in place to build a fantastic team of creative people that have talent coming out of Uranus.