Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ready...Set...A Ready Set

Friday February 27th, 2009 - Hoffman Estates, IL

Perfection isn’t easy. Today I worked a few more hours tweaking and tinkering with my Late Late Show set and I sent it in for final approval. I took my time and made sure it was exactly the way I wanted it so now no matter what happens at least I can know I put in the effort and didn’t cut any corners. If it kills, I earned it. If it doesn’t, I can live with it now.

Nothing would be worse than going on national TV and tanking it with a set I was not thrilled about doing. I’m sure I’d show it and it wouldn’t be good for anyone. This one is definitely not that at all. It’s packed with jokes I like and is in an order that flows well.

I’m very grateful for all the people that helped me bounce ideas around. I received a lot of fantastic suggestions and I appreciate them all but today it was a matter of using what I know and going with my instincts and choosing exactly what specific jokes I will go with.

Actually I hacked it up pretty good and ended up changing quite a bit but it just felt like the right thing to do and I was in a good mindset when I did it. I felt like I was ‘seeing’ on a deeper level and I just went with my gut feelings on everything. When I do that I usually end up with good results and I totally let go and let my feelings take over. I’m confident.

Now the job is getting it memorized so I can go out there and nail it on March 10th. I do have a few opportunities to try it out and I will use every one of them. I heard somewhere years ago that when Jerry Seinfeld found out he was getting the Tonight Show for the first time he went out and practiced his set eighty times. EIGHTY! I will not have that luxury.

I will go over it that many times in my head though. I normally don’t ‘practice’ my lines because I’ve been on stage thousands of times but for this set I will definitely prepare. I’m putting my heart and soul and energy into this because I want to make sure I don’t eat it.

I’ve had killer sets many times in my life and it feels better than anything I can describe but only the people in the room saw it. This is TV and a whole new level. I need to nail it out of the box and have a good tape to show future bookers and also get back on TV too.

Tonight I did a show with Jim McHugh and the Chicago Comedy All Stars. It was a big fundraiser for a youth football team and there was a nice big crowd of people close to my age who were either parents or relatives of the kids on the team. It was a very classy event held in a banquet facility that was set up extremely well. Sound and lights were excellent.

That makes a huge difference and Jim knows that so he made sure it was done. I love to work with him and also Mike Preston and Sonya White who were also on the show. It’s a blast to do the show where all of us are on the stage and take turns doing short little bits.

I didn’t do my whole TV set but I did lay out a few of the lines and they really got some solid laughs. That put me in a great space and the show built as we went along. It was fun and we also raised money for a cause. Now my cause is nailing a solid set on March 10th.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hard Work Working Harder

Thursday February 26th, 2009 - Vernon Hills, IL

I didn’t think I was obsessive or compulsive but I’m starting to think I’m turning over a new leaf. I can’t keep my paws off this TV set and I’m finding myself getting really into it more than I have about anything in a long time. The more I work on it the more I want to.

It’s like a big puzzle and I love puzzles. Which jokes should I keep? Which ones should I cut? In what order should they go? Is Dear Abby a dated reference? Is Dr. Phil funnier? I am going back and forth not only on what I think but what my trusted comedy inner circle thinks too. We’re exchanging our opinions and I’m listening to see if I agree or disagree.

No matter what happens this is a wonderful shot in the arm for my comedy in general to be working this hard on one single four and a half minute set. I’m connecting with a lot of talented comic minds and also forcing myself to improve and work at the highest level.

I thought I had a tight set yesterday and I did but today I took it even farther. I sent out a bunch of emails requesting input and that’s exactly what I received and I loved it all. I am taking notes and making changes as I see fit and it’s a funnier set today than yesterday.

I’m to a point now where I have to just SEND IT IN and that’s it. I took my chances and asked for input and I received a lot of useful things and some that weren’t so useful at this time but I can totally see myself playing with later. This was a very smart way to do this.

It’s making me knuckle down and do my due diligence as a comedian and WORK on a smooth polished set crafted into a flawless routine that an audience doesn’t have to think about anything other than just enjoying it. It’s a slow process but I’m loving every bit of it and I feel like I’m finally putting 100% effort into my craft. Before I just kind of drifted.

A good comparison would be a musician who can’t or doesn’t read music but still has a way of being in the business anyway. I’ve read about quite a few people who did exactly that. Jerry Reed was one allegedly. Barry White too. Neither one supposedly could read a note of music but both of them had fantastic careers anyway. Music was just in their soul.

Comedians are very similar. I know I am. I was cracking jokes back in grade school and I got in trouble often but I couldn’t stop myself. I still can’t. It’s in me. I do this and that’s what I do. It’s part of my inner makeup and I’ve been able to make a living at it my whole life just like a Barry White or a Jerry Reed. Now I feel like I’m taking it to the next level.

What I’m doing now is long term maintenance much like a homeowner does. I’m fixing my comedy furnace and blowing out the gunk and changing the filters and tightening nuts and bolts that may have come loose from heavy use and preparing myself for another run.

Homeowners are never done with maintenance on something and I won’t be either. Just when the furnace is fixed the roof needs attention. Then after that the paint is peeling and it’s time to do that. Then it’s the yard. Then the garage can use some fixing. Same here.

I spent many years on the road learning the craft of comedy itself but I never really was good at the business part. Mastering the on stage part was difficult enough. I was a young buck and bullet proof and time was on my side. I could eat anything I wanted and hadn’t a care in the world other than working on my craft and I thought that would never go away.

Now I have learned my craft but not without severe cost. I chose not to be married and I spent a lot of lonely years trying to figure out my own problems without having a nagging wife telling me to get a real job or a backseat full of bed wetters telling me to be their dad.

I was able to get by with my natural ability but I didn’t work as hard as I could have just for that reason - I was able to get by with my natural ability. I was always dabbling in lots of other things like radio and sports cards and pro wrestling announcing and anything else I found fun. I thought I had plenty of time to come back to comedy but now it’s different.

My youth is fading fast and old age is getting close enough to think about more than as something way far away. It isn’t. I’ve got a few more solid years If I’m lucky and then I’ll need to find something else to pay my bills. Comedy clubs aren’t for gray haired old farts unless they own it. I never wanted to be a club owner so I’d better find an income source.

That’s the long term plan here. Getting on TV is a very nice accomplishment and I think it’s long overdue but I haven’t gotten it until now because I haven’t FOCUSED on it until now. Is part of this a law of attraction thing? Yes, I think it is. I let my furnace go unlit for way too long. Before the dead of winter hits I still have a chance to get it lit and this is it.

That’s why I’m taking this TV shot so seriously. It will be very important in helping me finish strong in the game I’ve been playing for so long. It elevates me to a level the public sees as being a legitimate entity. What’s the first thing any stranger asks when it becomes known I’m a comedian? ‘Ever been on TV?’ Now I‘ll be able to smile and shout ‘YES!’

My goal is to blow people away when they come to see me. I want to make them laugh so hard they can’t breathe and are turning purple in their chairs. I want to start from right when I hit the stage to the second I walk off. I want it to be an experience that changes all their lives in a positive way and is something they will think about on their dying day.

That’s a pretty lofty goal but that’s what I want. I’ve seen George Clinton live probably fifty times. Some shows are better than others but when he and Parliament/Funkadelic are on their game, NOTHING I’ve ever seen can match that pure raw funky energy groove.

I’ve had lots of moments where I was firing on all cylinders on stage and I have rocked my share of rooms all over North America in my day and it was great fun. Now if I can be even better and more structured and prepared I will be like Godzilla going through Tokyo.

I’m glad I took the time to put this much effort into this set. No matter how it turns out I have come out ahead before I even go to L.A. because it’s started me on the road to doing this to my entire act. I’m going to rip it up and remodel and have a whole new structure.

Let's Kill Some Babies!

Wednesday February 25th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

I don’t have an exact time count but I spent at least a full eight hour day working hard at getting my four and a half minute set ready for The Late Late Show on March 10th. It may have been nine hours or even ten but off an on all day all I did was work on preparing it.

There’s a lot of work involved in this whole process and I‘m not done yet. I must say I have put more preparation time and effort into this one single set than I have for any other comedy project I’ve ever done. No matter how it goes I will have improved my skills and broadened my comic horizons and it will be that much easier to prepare for the next one.

People ask me why it takes so much work to just go on TV for four and a half minutes. It needs to be tight and have a flow and be clean and oh yeah - how about FUNNY too? I worked all day editing and tweaking and switching words and trying different punch lines and switching the order of jokes and adding new ones and it’s all a lot of trial and error.

On top of that I sent the set out to as many people on my list that I thought had at least a smidgeon of comic ability to see what they might add to the mix. I was rewarded with lots of fantastic suggestions I wouldn’t have thought of at all and most of them were very tiny and minor but strung all together and added up it made a major improvement to the set.

Many people I sent it to weren’t actual working standups but they have comic ability so I wanted to tap as much as I could. Many of those are ones who said ‘I don’t want to be a nitpicker BUT…’ and then they’d make a wonderful observation that I will totally use.

I have no qualms at all about this process being a cumulative effort. I have no problems sharing credit either. Many if not most comedians are obsessive about making sure if they ever release a CD it says ‘ALL comedy material written by…’ and their name follows. I’ll gladly pass out credit if I can make my set better and that’s why I asked so many for help.

Yes I know how to do a four and a half minute set and yes I could have done it without any help from others but it wouldn’t be nearly as strong as it is now and I’m fine with the fact others can say ‘You know I gave him that joke.’ Great! But I’m still the one on TV.

Many good comics will give other comics a joke or a tag line that fits better into the act of the receiving comic than it does for the giver. I’ve done it lots of times and it’s cool to see another comic get laughs with a line I thought of. I’ve had comics give me lines too.

I’ve found a percentage of people want ZERO input from anyone. They want it all to be something ‘original’ even though that’s very difficult to accomplish. It’s all been done in one way or another so why not try to do it with style and panache? That’s what I want.

My persona of Mr. Lucky is nothing new and I’m fine with it. A lot of people are seeing my set and saying a variation of ‘This is like a young Rodney Dangerfield.’ Well I guess I just have to live with that. I don’t do Rodney’s jokes but my pedigree is definitely of his.

I think with the circumstances of the country the way they are a new version of Rodney would go over quite well right about now. People are suffering and more will follow in a short time so maybe my timing is good for once in my life. Comedy will be needed. Soon.

What I focused on today was taking all the suggestions I received and carefully reading them over and piecing the set together like a puzzle. Some people liked some of the jokes and others hated the exact same ones. Some suggestions I took immediately but others no.

It’s ultimately up to me and my lifetime of experience to construct this set and send it in to be approved and then polish it up and just go DO it. I heard an interview recently with Quincy Jones discussing the making of the Thriller album with Michael Jackson. He said it was difficult but there were some songs cut out of the final mix because they didn’t fit.

He talked about how everyone liked the songs but for the flow of what they were doing he had to make the decision to cut the songs no matter how painful it was. He referred to the process as an artist ‘killing his babies’ and how difficult that can be for some people.

What I did today was honestly look through the set I had and trim quite a few lines that I liked and may still do again in clubs but for the flow of a TV set just didn’t fit perfectly. It’s not that they weren’t funny it’s just that for this particular set they didn’t mesh well.

Getting to that point alone shows growth because there was a time when I would’ve had a difficult time doing that but not today. I trimmed and cut and edited and what I have left is a very tight and well flowing set which I will submit but still continue to make better.

John Roy was very helpful with this as he’s not only been on the Late Late Show but he also was on The Tonight Show and won $100,000 on Star Search a few years ago. He’s a very meticulous worker and he has been very helpful on giving me inside pointers and the smart way to structure my set. He suggested some cuts and I followed them immediately.

Gene Perret has been absolutely wonderful in all this as well. He has always been a very encouraging mentor and he is an absolute master as the craft of comedy writing. He made several suggestions of both lines and structure and I listened to him as well. I have a very credible list of talented comedy people to consult on this and I’m asking all I can contact.

A television set is very different from a club set or even an audition set. I auditioned for the David Letterman show at Zanies a while back and wasn’t very happy with it. I got the chance to be reviewed by the talent booker Eddie Brill who is also a comic and Eddie was extremely helpful and generous with his time and I thank him for helping me improve.

His critiques were a direct result of me revamping and reworking and being able to find my stride on this particular set I’m doing now. Whether I ever get to do a Letterman show remains to be seen but I do owe Eddie Brill a thank you because indirectly he was the one who steered me in the right direction as far as preparing for a TV shot. I’m very thankful for this shot and am putting in my due diligence and working hard to make it a success.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reflecting On Radio

Tuesday February 24th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

I wonder what would have happened if I’d focused on an actual radio career rather than drift around without a plan and see where I landed? I’ve made more than my share of big mistakes in life but one of the biggest was waffling between standup comedy and radio. I never did choose one over the other and now all these years later I’m half assed in both.

I am one of the very few people who has been able to pull off a living doing both pretty well and that was a blessing as well as a curse. Each one of them is a completely different skill even though most radio people think they could easily be a comedian and vice versa.

Sorry. Not a chance. Radio requires the ability to entertain the same audience with new material every day while comedy is entertaining a new audience with the same material. It isn’t the same thing at all and most people don’t know why that would make a difference.

It totally does. Radio builds an invisible bond over time. Listeners hear a personality for years and gradually get to know the person until they become familiar like a neighbor or a relative. Comedy is a much quicker one night stand kind of thing. It’s get in and get out.

As a comic I need to start hitting on all cylinders in a few minutes and grab the attention of the audience up front. They have to like and trust me almost immediately if I’m indeed going to be successful. If I don’t get them right away it makes it a whole lot harder later.

Radio is exactly the opposite. I don’t have to go on the air the first day or even the first week and grab the listeners by the throat. It takes time to bond with them and it also takes a different effort to be prepared to entertain the audience. I have to read and experience as much of life as I can that would possibly pertain to my audience. That takes a lot of work.

I’ve worked at three country stations in my life and I still can’t believe it but I did. It’s a whole world unto itself and even though I wouldn’t have chosen to work there that’s what was available so I took the jobs. In retrospect I’m glad I did because it expanded my life. I lived in towns I wouldn’t have lived in and met people I wouldn’t have met. It was fun.

I got a chance to go to Nashville for the CMA Awards and personally meet all the stars of the genre from Keith Urban to Toby Keith to LeAnn Womack to Sarah Evans and a lot more. 99% of them were really great to work with and I can honestly say I enjoyed myself and have learned to appreciate the entire country music industry as a whole. Thanks radio.

Even though I’ve been fired without a real cause five times I still could have made a lot more money and been a bigger name if I’d had a plan of action when I got in the business. I kind of lucked into my first real job in Lansing, MI in 1990 and that was where I goofed.

I never made a commitment to either comedy or radio and that was my big mistake. I’ve always taken it as it came and was fortunate enough to keep getting job offers in radio out of the blue without having to look for them. They kept coming and I kept on saying yes.

Had I been forced to get a tape and a resume like most other people in radio I doubt if it would have turned out like it did. I love standup comedy and still do and even though I’ve learned to love being on the radio too comedy is the winner. It’s always been my first love but radio is a close second. That’s why all this has been a problem. I really do enjoy both.

If comedy hadn’t been my favorite I’d have stayed in Lansing in 1990. That was a brutal situation but after six months when my contract expired I could have re-signed rather than resigned as it was me that quit when in fact they wanted me to stay. A hyphen changed it.

At the time it was absolute torture to work there. The people I liked who were working there when I started had all quit and moved on because nobody liked the owner. He was a rich kid about my age now who had apparently inherited the station and had no clue as to how to manage people and at that time in my life I was just not into being his minion.

In retrospect I should have stayed there and learned the craft of radio and ignored all the insanity going on around me but at the time I couldn’t. My immediate boss was a balding insecure geek who drove a Mustang and could suck ass better than a starving leech so the playing field was tainted from the start. He sucked up to the owner and I was the ‘rebel‘.

That’s what happens with youth and inexperience. I could have played the game and did what they said and just sat back and banked money while I got the experience I needed to go to the next job. That wasn’t my makeup then and it really isn’t now either but looking back I wonder what would have happened if I’d focused on building my career correctly?

I’m sure I still would have been fired and had some miserable memories I don’t have to remember now but I also probably would have made a lot more money in the long run for doing basically the same things I already did for the money I did make. The bottom line is I had ZERO career plan. I figured just as in comedy it would all work itself out in the end.

How completely stupid have I been in TWO different career paths? It’s not the path, it’s me at this point. Whatever the career choice or even life choice there needs to be a PLAN. I know that now but is it too late for me to salvage something out of my pile of mistakes?

That’s where I am now. I’ve had a half ass radio ride and a half ass comedy ride and the both of them together make me one full ass. Here I sit with my experience and education all this time later and I’m still not 100% sure what the smartest decision is for me for the long run. I still love comedy a little more but the thought of a solid radio gig is tempting.

That’s the key word though - ‘solid’. A ‘solid’ radio gig is like a ‘cordial’ war. There’s been no documented case of one ever existing. Jerry Agar had a ‘solid’ job at WLS and I thought he was in the clear but sure enough the Grim Radio Reaper found him anyway.

That probably answers my question as to what I should do but I still enjoy being on the air whenever I can. Why? Because it’s FUN. Radio management knows that and they can be as nasty as they want because like a trailer park abused wife - we’ll ALWAYS return.

Time Management Is Tough

Monday February 23rd, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Time is ticking away and there are only a couple of weeks before my big TV shot. I feel very confident I’ll be able to pull it off but I still need to keep everything else going too. It is always a matter of time management and every day no matter how much I pack in I still feel I left a lot on the table. That’s frustrating because it takes away from what I did do.

I could accomplish ten things in a day and then look at what I didn’t get done and it’s an absolute disappointment. I really am moving along well on a lot of things but I’m also not getting to everything I want to and that’s probably never going to happen. What do I do?

I know myself and wouldn’t be happy if I lessened my load. I like too many things and I would feel like I cheated myself if I didn’t at least try to sample a little bit of everything. I really do enjoy all the projects I’ve got going now it’s just a matter of choosing the order.

The Late Late Show appearance is number one right now but that’s two weeks away. In a day that will all be over and I need to make a plan on how to follow it up. I’ve got a nice run of shows coming up in March and April so that’s good but how can I parlay them into something bigger? I need a lot more products to sell and I need to open the Uranus store.

This all takes time and especially vision and I have part of that vision but it changes on a daily basis depending on what I’m working on. I still love to teach comedy classes too. I should have an online version of those set up so people can just download them and begin studying on their own. I’d love to still teach live too but again time just won’t slow down.

Today was an example of how a day gets eaten. Jerry’s Kidders wanted to meet up for a brainstorm session on how we can keep that project going. The other guys live south so it was my turn to take the long drive. It was 100 miles one way to get together and while we had fun I’m not sure how much we got done. This is not something we can fix overnight.

Without Jerry Agar having a job at a radio station it makes it tough. While we had a lot of fun doing it on WLS trying to resurrect it on a small station or on the internet would be a major step backward and I’m not sure if I have the time to be farting around with that.

Still, Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara are great to work with and we have a lot of laughs for as long as we’re together so that’s something I don’t want to just dump and walk away. It was a very productive year of being on with Jerry and it would be great to get back and do it again but there’s no guarantee of that. The stars aligned for us and they may not again.

Then I had a dinner with my speaker friend Todd Hunt. He’s a great marketer and even in a tough economy he still plugs along. We exchanged ideas on stuff and he was helpful with tips on how to work with my TV set. He is very structured and I’m not. It helped.

After that it was off to Zanies in Chicago to host the rising star showcase. Tonight was a stellar lineup of comics and a full audience who loved it. Another jam packed action day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Game Of Numbers

Sunday February 22nd, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

According to numerology this is an important date. Allegedly 11 and 22 are numbers of significant power and importance and anyone born on the 11th or the 22nd are known to be very strong and/or influential personalities. Allegedly. My biggest heroes George Clinton in music and Rodney Dangerfield in comedy are both ‘22’s so I guess it might be true.

Bob Uecker is my other one in that group but his birthday is January 26th. I guess there are exceptions to every rule and even the cosmos has a few hiccups once in a while. Even so, all this stuff still fascinates me. My cousin Brett calls it ‘moonbeams and stardust’ and laughs at me for being interested in it but I am. There has to be something deeper to it all.

Yesterday was Brett’s birthday and he missed being a ‘22’ by a day. He’s a very strong personality and a generous soul and the closest person in my family by far. We always got along well and still continue to remain in constant contact. He and I are on the same page.

Another person who had a birthday yesterday is Ross Bennett. Ross is a comedian and a huge influence mentor of mine when I started and we still continue to stay in contact also. The fact that Ross and Brett are born on the same day makes me think it’s all connected.

I think Ross Bennett should be a huge comedy star. He is hilariously funny and unique and a master comedy craftsman. His show is second to none and I remember meeting him back in the ‘80s at the old Funny Bone in Milwaukee. I could see then he was a master of the stage but he also had a dented can side that I could relate to and we bonded back then.

Ross had a lot of things to overcome. He has a joke in his act that kills but it’s true. ‘My first wife died, my second one wouldn’t.’ Wow. Talk about a joke born out of pain. It gets laughs on stage but that really did happen and he had to raise his son as a single father but still be on the road and making a living to pay bills. Ross Bennett has my utmost respect.

It was he that helped me survive the L.A. jungle when I lived there back in the mid ‘90s and was not in a great position to be there. I’d lost my radio job in Reno and wasn’t ready for the L.A. game yet but Ross was living there then and helped me settle in and adjust.

Then he moved to New York and years later when I went there to explore the scene he’s the one who showed me the ropes there too. He helped me get a set at the Comic Strip in Manhattan and showed me around all the other clubs too. Ross is my comedy big brother.

He has guided me at times when I really needed it and I’ll never forget him for that. I’m grateful for his kindness and in turn it has helped guide many other comedians who have come to me for help over the years. I always try to pay kindness forward and I’ve done it.

Is any of this interconnected or is it all a big coincidence? Who knows? I sure don’t but I do know that for a ‘22’ this was a great day. I visited the sports card show in Milwaukee and did a strong Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha. It was all fun.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It Only Takes One Idiot

Saturday February 21st, 2009 - Stoughton, WI

I’m in a really foul mood right now and it all stems from ONE obnoxious drunken goof. That’s all it takes to ruin a comedy show and that’s what happened tonight at a tiny bar in Stoughton, WI. I had hoped to rehearse my TV set some more but there wasn’t a chance.

I was too busy defending myself against some babbling ass pimple who after me telling him to be quiet at least five times just would NOT put a sock in it. He apparently thought I was kidding the first several times and kept right on spewing out his verbal diarrhea and nothing I said could get him to stop. It got to the point where the audience got fed up too.

My patience for these situations is absolutely gone. Not going, GONE. I wanted to walk off the stage with the mike stand and bury it three inches into the part of his skull where it didn’t grow over from his soft spot as a baby apparently. It would have been worth prison to shut him the hell up so we could all finish the show and go about our lives once more.

I was really in a good mood the last few days but this little incident pushed all my nasty buttons and put me back into a mental place I don’t want to be anymore. I have to get this one out of my system and not come back here for a long time if ever. This was miserable.

I’m not sure how to handle this without looking like Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap pissing and moaning back stage about his cold cuts not being able to fit on the slices of bread that were on the tray. That was a funny scene but now I’m starting to see why people have that attitude. It’s a cumulative effect of years and years of things being constantly mishandled.

I don’t even know how I got this gig actually. Kathleen Dunbar is a comedienne now in Las Vegas but she’s originally from Milwaukee. She’s very funny and her brother owns a nice little bar in Stoughton and they’re trying comedy shows. Someone told me they were doing shows and the next thing I knew Kathleen sent me an email wanting to book me.

I was taking it light in February but it wasn’t far from home so I said yes. I did it mainly to help Kathleen and her brother but a few bucks never hurt either. In retrospect it wasn’t worth my time and frustration of having to joust with some boozed up diesel mechanic. It got very old very fast and if it wasn’t for Kathleen I’d have gotten back in my car and left.

This was a very difficult setup. The lights and sound were once again sub par at the very least and that always makes it more difficult than it needs to be. Then the stage happened to be right in the line of fire to the bathrooms. There was no emcee so right when I got on a line of people walked past the stage to line up to use the toilet. I had to deal with that.

They trickled in and out and it was twenty minutes before they were all done. I had that to deal with and it’s extremely tough to get a roll going in that situation. Then I had to put Mr. Flap Jaw in his place all night and it was constant pain in the ass for the duration. I’m not mad at Kathleen or her brother. They’re just trying to make a buck. I’m flattered that I was asked but in the future there has to be more crowd control. It only takes ONE idiot.

The weird part is after the show people were lining up to tell me how funny I was. That always creeps me out because I know in my heart I could have given them a WAY better show if I hadn’t had to deal with that beer sucking mongoloid waste of a birth certificate.

I wanted to get paid quickly and get out of there before the inevitable happened but of course I knew it couldn‘t work that smoothly. Right as I was putting my coat on the goof bag himself had to come over and tell me how he ‘helped the show’. He was rambling on about something and laughing at his own incoherent flatulence as he stuck out his paw.

I just turned my back and put my coat on and walked away from him before he or I said something we’d be sorry for. Nothing good ever comes out of those situations and if he’d said the wrong thing I would have taken his beer bottle and beaten him to death with it.

Why do I have such a disdain for idiots and especially drunken ones? I don’t know but I do and I know I do so I try to avoid these kinds of situations whenever possible. I have no patience to listen to some yokel with no clue tell me he was ‘helping me’ do a good show.

What’s even more frustrating was he was with a very attractive woman. Whether it was his wife or girlfriend she was way out of his league and it frustrated me even more to see her putting up with his inebriated prattle. He must have one hell of a trust fund or be hung like a wooly mammoth and that’s not fair either. The whole evening really turned me off.

Maybe it turned me off because I let it turn me off but that horse’s putz caught me on the wrong night and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with it. I wanted to give the audience all my positive energy and give them the show they came for but I had to waste energy on ‘him‘.

I know this all sounds trivial and picky but unless you’ve ever tried to make a full house of complete strangers laugh consistently for between forty-five minutes and an hour I will reserve my right to bitch vociferously because I have had to deal with this for a lifetime. It really stinks and I don’t think it has to be that way at all. Those idiots need to be removed.

That’s not a pleasant thing either. Kathleen’s brother runs a bar and doesn’t know how a comedy show works. This is just a part time once in a great while thing to him and I don’t expect him to have full security there with tasers in hand ready to squelch any hecklers.

I do expect there to be an announcement made at the top of the show telling people they need to be QUIET during the show. Comedy clubs usually say ‘keep your table talk to an absolute minimum.’ Sorry. Not good enough. Keep your table talk to absolute silence. If you need to talk on your cell phone or discuss the war in Afghanistan please go outside.

This is why I want to play the ‘soft seat’ theatres. Alcohol isn’t the major part of those shows that it is places like this in Stoughton. After all, it’s a damn bar. That’s what they do. I have too many examples of nights like this to draw upon to have any sympathy for that guy tonight but it was also kind of my fault for allowing myself to say yes. I should have stayed home and fiddled with Uranus. It would have put me in a much better mood.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rodney, Woody And Miles

Friday February 20th, 2009 - LaCrosse, WI

The phone has been ringing lately with offers of last minute fallouts and fill ins and I’m not complaining. It gives me a chance to work on my Late Late Show set so I’m taking all the stage time I can get until March 10th to work on the flow as many times as possible.

Tonight I was in LaCrosse, WI at a place formerly known as ‘Loons’. They changed the name to ’Howie’s’ and the night from Wednesday to Friday but it’s still booked out of the same place and I like the booker so I said yes. Even if I didn’t I’d still have said yes to get a chance to work on my TV set. Plus it also pays some bills and that‘s never a negative.

I used the entire drive up as a comedy clinic and listened to nothing but classic nuts and bolts old school recordings that allowed me to bathe my thoughts in the rhythm of the two all time masters I personally enjoy the most - Rodney Dangerfield and Woody Allen.

What a treat to just sit back and listen to both of them work. I’d heard everything as far as the material goes but I listened deeper to how they structured their jokes and the words they chose and their rhythm and cadence and routine flow and anything else I could learn. They’re both unbelievably good and hearing them put me in a very good space to create.

I also re-listened to an interview with Woody Allen done by a guy named Larry Wilde where Woody talks about writing jokes and nuts and bolts tips it takes to create a routine. It’s also something I’d heard but I want to bone up on anything I can before March 10th so all I have to do is walk out there and nail a tight solid funny four and a half minute set.

I’ve been making adjustments and tweaks and cutting a lot and adding a little and by the time I get to L.A. it’s probably going to be a different set completely but I am going to get it as snug as possible so there are no bad surprises. The good thing is I enjoy the process.

I also listened to some Miles Davis on the trip. ‘Birth of The Cool’ is a breakout for him and again it’s a matter of studying structure. Music and comedy both have a structure and that’s one of the major lessons anyone must learn who is serious about being a comedian.

Many people think a comedian just goes up on stage and makes a few fart noises or acts like a monkey and that‘s all it takes. WRONG. Comedy is an intricate craft and a difficult and highly skilled one to master at that. Today I put in a full day of working on my craft.

By the time I got on stage I was in a laid back mellow groove. It was snowing but I’m used to it so it wasn’t a panic situation. The sound system was weak but unfortunately I’m used to that too so none of it was a big deal. I leaned into it and focused on getting laughs.

Some of the set involves tweaking some of my regular jokes and that’s not easy but I’m very happy with how it went tonight. I delivered them how I wanted and they still got nice laughs and flowed well also. This is all part of the craft and I’ll do this exact same process as many times as I can before March 10th. I’ll be ready when the little red light comes on.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Checking My Stimulus

Thursday February 19th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

I received my government stimulus check a few months ago and immediately cashed it and hid it in a drawer until something I felt that I really wanted to buy with it came along. Today was that day. I ended up spending $175 of my $311 on a collection of sports cards.

In a perfect world I wouldn’t be farting around with sports cards anymore and especially now with all that’s going on in my life and career but I like them and I’ll always enjoy the process of the hunt so I gave in and went with my gut feeling and bought them anyway.

My friend Sheri has worked at Vernon Hills Zanies since it opened and she also worked at a pawn shop for a while to make a few extra bucks. She stopped in to visit the shop and noticed that the owner had purchased a load of sports cards and called to tell me about it.

I wasn’t really looking to buy any sports cards but it never hurts to look so I took a drive over to check out the cards and have a lunch with Sheri. She’s a sweetheart and just got a new puppy she’s been telling me about so I mainly went to see the dog and have a lunch.

It was about a half hour drive from my house (what isn’t?) but I found the shop and saw the three heaping boxes of cards along with a three ring binder about half full. Most of the cards were from the 1990s and were the steroid apes like McGwire, Sosa, Canseco, etc.

There was a time when those cards would have commanded BIG bucks and I’ll bet it all that the person who sold this collection to a pawnbroker most likely took it in the shorts. I don’t really like newer cards but there were enough older ones in the lot to coax me to put in what I thought was a fair offer of $175. He was asking $250 and that was a tad high.

We shook on the deal and I paid for it and hauled my cards to the car. Sheri and I had an enjoyable lunch and then I drove home thumbing through the cards when I should’ve had all my focus on the road but I wear glasses so I had three eyes on the road instead of four.

To my surprise I ran across three Michael Jordan rookie cards I hadn’t noticed upon my first perusal in the store. At one time that was THE card in collecting and it went for huge money. Everyone wanted one and I’ve never owned one actually. If you’re a collector the one I’m talking about is the ‘86 Fleer card #57. That will be gibberish to everyone else.

I looked at the cards closely and they are in pristine condition but I have a feeling all of them are fakes. Any time there’s money in a collectible there are lowlife maggots who try to beat the system and this is no different. I have a few friends I trust to see if they are real or not. If yes - I’m probably looking anywhere from $600-$2000. Each. Not a bad profit!

If they’re not legit (and I suspect they aren’t) I’ll sell them very cheap and tell whoever I sell them to they’re counterfeits. I couldn’t live with myself if I ripped anyone off so I am going to handle this above board. I have a few friends that can tell me the truth and I will see what they say before I sell any of them. Still, it was fun to see them pop up in the box.

It’s the feeling of winning a lottery and it’s electric. I’m sure that’s why so many people gamble in casinos. Hitting the big jackpot must feel the same way - not that I’ve ever hit a big jackpot but I’ve been in the same room with people who have. It’s very contagious.

Everyone hears stories of people going to a rummage sale and buying an old painting or piece of furniture for three bucks and it turns out it’s a rare antique worth three million or more. We all want that to be us but I’m not sure how realistic that is. I do know I love the chase and it’s not possible to find the big bargain if one doesn’t go out and search for it.

I just want to keep turning my money over and over again and doubling it whenever it’s doable. I doubt if my government stimulus check will earn me much interest so I decided to see how much I could make on my own. 2% won’t transform me into Donald Trump.

Realistically I think I can double my money on the cards I bought today. Even if I don’t make a dime off the Jordan cards I still think I can sell enough quarter, dollar and fivers at card shows to bring in a return on my investment and the rest I can give to kids if I want.

A great number of the cards are totally worthless. They’re still sports cards though and I package those up and give them to kids whenever I can. They’re still fun to sort through a few times and if the kids play with them or destroy them it doesn’t make any difference.

That gives me as much or more of a thrill than making a few bucks. Time after time I’m reminded of someone’s kid I put a box of cards together for and the parents always have a lot of nice things to say and I appreciate it. That’s a way to make friends for life. What kid in the world wouldn’t want to have a big box of baseball cards to rifle through and own?

Some kid or kids will get a nice collection with what I bought today but I will still have plenty left over to package and arrange and set up at some card shows and try to sell them cheap but still make a profit. The older cards will sell eventually and those I don’t mind if I have to sit on for a while. They don’t go out of style with me. It’s the new ones I loathe.

Most of the guys in this batch are of the steroid era including Alex Rodriguez and all of it makes me sick. It’s all just greed and the bad side of humanity and that’s of course why I got these cards for as low a price as I did. These were the fallen heroes and now it’s over for them. They get to keep their money but their on field records should be totally yanked.

Even through all of it I’m still glad I did this. Why? Because it’s FUN. And it’s a risk as well. Success of any level doesn’t come without a risk of equal proportion. I bought these cards to hopefully resell and double my money. Then I want to use that money to try it all over again. Will it be cards? Maybe. Maybe not. I‘ll take it as it comes and let it develop.

It’s a way to exercise my entrepreneurial muscles and that’s my new life frontier. I love the challenge of taking this collection and making it presentable and sellable and seeing if I can turn a profit with it in reality rather than just thinking I can. Now I can prove it. And there’s still a chance those Jordan cards are real too. That would totally put it over the top.

Weather Or Not

Wednesday February 18th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

This is the time of year when living in the Midwest really rots. It’s either cold or snowy and sometimes both. Today the snow came and made things interesting for everyone. The temperature was right close to the freezing point and it turned the roads into a sled track.

Brake slamming wasn’t an option as everyone was sliding around trying to find traction somewhere. It was really tricky so I just took it slower than slow while I drove home after running some important errands. The last thing I need is to get into another big collision.

I don’t need a small one either. I’ve had my fill of accidents in my life and if I can avoid another one I’ll do whatever it takes including staying home and getting work done which is what I need to do anyway. It seems like the harder I work the more that needs doing.

One thing I did get done before the snow hit was visiting the Alpha Graphics in Vernon Hills. It’s the same one that does the printing for Zanies and it’s owned by a great guy that also runs the Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators. His name is Jay Bachochin and he was a guest on the Mothership Connection radio show a couple of times along with his group.

He’s been doing Zanies printing for many years and they’ve never had a problem so I’m going to hire him for several of the projects I’m working on. He’s printed a few rounds of paperwork for my comedy classes and has been very fair with pricing and I appreciate it.

I need to build relationships and that’s what I’m trying to do with all these new ventures I’m working on. I’ve built a great relationship with Zanies to the point where I’m almost a member of the families of all the managers and many of the staff. We’ve had a productive business relationship for going on twenty years that‘s crossed over into strong friendship.

That’s what I want to build again and again but I need to find more sources. I’ll need to have a reliable printer in the very near future because I want to make bumper stickers and greeting cards and I’ll need a whole new press kit and business cards too. I also could use an updated slick printed version of my comedy class handouts condensed into a booklet.

I spent about a half an hour going back and forth with Jay and he was very helpful. I am trying to find someone I can work with and I get a very good feeling from him. He totally gets the concept of what I’m trying to do and he’s on board for helping me achieve it all.

I need to really make a splash in a good way in the next little while. The Craig Ferguson shot will be a nice feather in my cap but I need to follow it up right after with something a management company and bookers can plug into. I need to keep cranking out products.

I will have another CD out before too long so that’s a positive. I’ve got at least two and maybe even three in the can but I want to get one out first and use that to finance the rest. I still have to watch the budget like a hawk but I think I’ll be able to make a solid effort I can be proud of. Now I just need some fans to buy it. Maybe I should include a free prize.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Michael Jordan And My Grandma

Tuesday February 17th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Lots going on today both inside and outside my head. I don’t know where to start so I’ll bank on the power of celebrity and mention today is Michael Jordan’s 46th birthday. I will always remember that because February 17th was my grandmother’s birthday too. If there are two more completely opposite humans to ever walk this planet I couldn’t imagine it.

Who in the free world born after 1985 doesn’t know who Michael Jordan is? Even now he’s still a legend if not for how he played basketball but also for selling merchandise like Haines underwear and Nike shoes and Gatorade and who knows what else?. He had a big time run in the sun. He’s a marketer’s dream and one of the biggest pro sports stars ever.

My grandmother was born in 1911 in Waubeno, WI to a single mother which was not a very easy thing to live down back then. She was treated like dirt most of her childhood in a small town where she too was raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather was crippled in World War I and there was no welfare back then so times were tough at their house.

She escaped to Milwaukee when she was 16 and met my grandfather not too long after. I think she was hoping life would improve so they got married and if there were ever two people who probably shouldn’t have been married for 45 years it was those two war birds. I don’t think they should have been married at all but I guess that’s how the times were.

They eventually split up when I was twelve but they’d raised me from five months old because my parents had an ugly break up and I was going to go up for adoption. I’ve had many versions of that story told to me over the years and none were ever very pleasant. It was a bad spot at a bad time and for whatever reason my paternal grandparents raised me.

Gramps was to this day THE most positive influence on my entire childhood. I think I’d be a raging substance abuser of some kind or in prison or dead if it weren’t for the time he took to try and impart his wisdom and knowledge. He told me he felt he owed it to me for some reason for the hand I was dealt at birth and it’s difficult to admit your son is a loser.

Gramps died of cancer when I was 17. I graduated high school in June and he was dead by Christmas. That’s when everything really turned into a zoo with the family because he was the peacemaker. My father and I were always butting heads and when Gramps died it was an all out war. I never put up with my old man’s bullying and it caused major ripples.

Grandma and I never got along until I was in my late 30s. She was in her 80s then and it was only then she finally started opening up about her life. I didn’t get my first (and only) hug from her until I was 37. She eked out the words ‘I love you’ like she was trying not to wake a sleeping baby and it felt totally awkward. I said ‘What took so long?’ We cried.

We talked about a lot of things during that time and I made weekly visits when I could. I’d bring her a hamburger or a box of chocolates and she would absolutely go crazy as she never drove and was marooned in her house all alone. She appreciated any little attention.

She really opened up during those sessions and expressed her rawest feelings and all her disappointments of how her life had gone. That probably produced a lot of her anger and I know it bothered her how badly my father turned out. He didn‘t make either parent proud.

Eventually Alzheimer’s disease took over and she didn’t even recognize me anymore as I came over with my weekly meals. She would eat them and appreciate it but she had zero clue as to who I was and that was pretty difficult to sit through. I still did because I felt I’d owed her something for raising me even though it wasn’t the most pleasant of childhoods.

All of this still swirls around in my head and probably always will every February 17th because not only was it my grandmother’s birthday it’s also the day my father died. I will never forget when I got that news in 2007 and it’s one of the first things I thought of. The old man popped off on his mother’s birthday. Does it have any meaning? Who knows?

What a giant waste all this has been. Grandma’s dead and she never chased a dream or took a risk or did anything but be pissed off with how things ‘turned out’. She never took control and changed her life’s direction. Gramps and her were going in opposite paths.

My father was a complete waste of a sexual encounter and I still have no idea why I had to deal with that for so long. He was never the adult and I don’t even want to call our time of interaction a relationship because it wasn’t. It was one constant fight and he never did a damn thing to make up for his mistakes to any of us kids. He’s dead and I don’t miss him.

Michael Jordan is my age. He’s a little under a month older and he rose to becoming an international icon during that time. He talks of being close to his father and when he died it was a national news story. I always found that hard to relate to because my old man was such a wank pole. I couldn’t imagine Jordan’s good fortune. First his millions - now that.

Is Michael Jordan happy? I have no idea. I never met the guy but I have a feeling if I did we’d get along pretty well. We’re a month apart in age and of the same generation. He’s a human being like everyone else and I’m sure he’s not 100% happy all the time but I’ll bet he’s got a lot of opportunities to search for happiness that I or most others will never get.

I went off on such a tangent with all this I don’t have time to talk about all the positives that are going on and there are those too. I had lunch with Marc Schultz today and he had a DVD for me to look at with his corporate acts on it. It will be a good example of what I need to get if I want to get more corporate type higher paying work and I absolutely do.

I’m still working on my Craig Ferguson set and I also am walking in the mall every day like an old fart but better now than after my quintuple bypass when they blow out all that fast food crud and sludge I’ve eaten since becoming a road comic. It’s much better now.

The situation with my family is what it is. I don’t want to be like Grandma or my father. They never found their stride. I have and it’s being a comedian. Making other dented cans laugh takes my own pain farther away. Sad to say but some others totally relate to all this.

Time To Prepare

Monday February 16th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Still plugging away on my set for the Craig Ferguson show. The talent booker has been super nice in allowing me extra time to go over it and get a flow that I can work with and I really appreciate that. This is all new to me and I don’t want to blow my opportunity and go in there unprepared. In the end this is all probably going to make my entire act better.

I’ve spent more time tweaking and arranging this one four and a half minute set coming up for this TV taping than I have my entire act for the past several years. I’m a jazz riffer. That’s my style. I like to go on stage and let it flow in the moment and those moments are never exactly the same from night to night so my shows are never exactly the same either.

That’s part of the fun of it for me but that’s not how TV works. I get that. They can’t let some unknown goof go on their network and riff for four and a half minutes. Who knows what disaster that could lead to and I’m fine with this whole process. I just don’t want the chance I’ve worked so hard to get be wasted by me not being ready so I’m over cautious.

I know I can do the job but I want it to be something I’m proud of too. Part of me thinks if I rehearse it too much it will come off flat and stale but that’s not necessarily the case at all. Some of the jokes I’ve done before many times and I know they get laughs. Others are tag lines or offshoots of other jokes or lines other comics added after looking over my set.

The main thing is to give it structure and that’s what I’ve always had trouble with. I like keeping it loose because the laughs are more genuine but structure is never a bad thing for an act and that’s what I teach my students. I tell them to do what I say and not what I do.

Part of that is because I had nobody to tell me what to do when I started. I did it the best way I could with the knowledge I had and quite frankly I developed some bad habits. I’m able to overcome them now because I’ve done it so long but if I had it to do over again it sure would have been nice to have someone guide me along the way. I’d be even better.

I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with enough natural comic ability to be able to make my way through just about any situation. I can think quickly on my feet and when it’s not going right I can pretend that it is and get through it. Not a lot of people can do that and it has brought me through a lot of hellacious situations but now it’s time to do it correctly.

That means I need to go over the set and take out the fat and put the jokes in the correct order and try to maintain a flow the whole time too. That’s not easy but I’m up for the big challenge of creating it in just a few weeks. I know I can do this and I’m not going to fail. Plus I’ve had a lot of great input from comedy people I really respect. This is going to fly.

I hosted the rising star showcase at Zanies in Chicago tonight and wanted to try my new set out but it just didn’t feel right so I didn’t. There were a lot of new comics there I don’t know and the audience was young and rowdy so I didn’t think it was the right place to be experimenting. I had a job to do and I did it. I’ll have plenty of time to practice the set.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mixed Radio Signals

Sunday February 15th, 2009 - Kenosha, WI

The radio business is in a state of flux right now. Everything is in a panic and it’s even more unstable than usual and that says a lot. That’s like saying Madonna is feeling ‘a wee bit horny.’ Really? Sleeping with everyone on Craig’s List didn’t hit ‘send‘ on that email?

It’s happening in all size markets and I’ve been a victim of the ‘tornadio of radio’ a few times myself. Recently. Losing the Loop gig still stings but that was in 2004. I know it’s a long time ago but it still stinks and there was no real reason for it other than some simp in a suit in charge of a major market radio station was trying to shake things up and he did.

He turned out to be dead wrong but he’s still employed for some ungodly reason. He’s a slick talking used car salesman type and has never been on the air in his life but that’s the typical monkey who makes programming decisions these days. It’s totally out of control.

A similar imbecile with even less of a clue fired my friend Jerry Agar at WLS which in turn put a dagger in our Jerry’s Kidders bit we did every Monday. He replaced Jerry with a brokered show which is a total cop out. Rather than have the sales staff sell commercial spots it’s easier to sell it as a whole chunk and be done with it. They‘re whoring it all out.

It’s even trickling down to me at WLIP in Kenosha, WI for my Mothership Connection show on Sunday nights. I received word late in the week there is now an infomercial that will run on the station from 8-9pm taking out the first hour of our show and there’s not a thing I can do about it. I have two choices - quit or adapt and I did think about quitting.

It’s only a little show on a little station once a week and nobody gets a nickel for it. We do it because we all enjoy it but fun doesn’t pay bills. We could all probably find several better things to do on a Sunday evening but the show is growing on us and we all love it.

I’ve known the program director John Perry since I was at WQFM in Milwaukee back in 1991 and I consider him a friend. We’ve always had a good working relationship and I don’t ever want to do anything to burn a bridge with him because I respect his position.

He’s gone to bat for me more than once when I’ve needed a job and I’ve worked in the building off and on several times in the past dozen years or so under different ownerships. This decision was an ownership thing which was made over his head and he told me I’m stuck with either accepting it or not but in his words ‘we won’t be able to fight city hall.’

Fair enough. He’s right about that and the corporate bigwigs are doing what they think they need to do to turn a buck whether any of us in programming like it or not. I was a bit put out that it happened so quickly and I had a guest I had to cancel but that’s how it goes.

What will end up happening at least for now is that we’ll be moved ahead an hour and it won’t really make all that much difference. 8-10pm to 9-11pm isn’t a deal breaker but I’ll be careful about making long term plans because anything else could happen at any time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Left My Heart In Sturgis, MI

Saturday February 14th, 2009 - Sturgis, MI

Tonight was the most fun I could have on Valentine’s Day without a date. I was booked in Sturgis, MI for a comic named Steve Sabo who I owe a couple of favors to. He books a few one nighters around his home town of Toledo to make extra money and also help him stay booked himself. Smart idea. I’ve worked for him before and he’s always been honest.

I’ve had to cancel on him a couple of times for various reasons and even though I don’t like doing that circumstances dictated it necessary. He’s a comic himself so he gets how it is but I still felt bad about it and told him I’d pay him back and I will. I’ll fill in in a pinch and return the favor someday. This one wasn’t in a pinch so I still owe him but it was fun.

Sometimes a tiny little one nighter in the middle of nowhere with low expectations can be a pleasant surprise and tonight was one of those. The joint was packed and they were a fantastic audience all the way through. The owner hosted the show and apparently they’ve been doing it for three years now. I’d never even heard of it before but this place rocked.

They even fed us for free. It was delicious too. They had a dish called ‘baked steak’ and it melted in my mouth. It was kind of like a pot roast dish served over noodles with lots of mushrooms which I happen to love. Who’d expect all this from some little roadside joint?

No offense, I sure didn’t. Even the sound and lights were excellent. I couldn’t believe it. Usually one nighters in bars like that have various degrees of malfunction which make the whole night more difficult than it needs to be but not tonight. Everything ran smoothly for the entire evening and it truly made it a worthwhile trip. I’d come back here in a second.

Many things went into the success of this show. First, Steve Sabo is a comic and knows what it takes to have a good show at a place like this. Second, the owner actually listened and did what he said. It’s a team effort and that’s why it’s lasted for three years. Plus it’s a biweekly show and they shut it down for the summer. The owner doesn’t overexpose it.

Everything about this gig was good. The opener was a guy out of Columbus, OH named Rye Silverman who I’ve worked with before also at a Steve Sabo gig. He’s a nice guy and the audience really liked him too. He didn‘t step on my premises and we got along nicely. It all flowed perfectly. Sometimes there can be clashes or hassles but none of that tonight.

Even the hotel was surprisingly good. They had a game room with a free pool table in it and I can’t remember the last time I saw that anywhere. This was one of those times when everything just falls together and I’ve had enough times when it didn’t to really appreciate the entire scope of it. For one night in one little town things went like they’re supposed to.

Steve Sabo is a smart guy. He’s got a few of these kinds of shows around the area and it puts a few bucks in everyone’s pocket. Being a booker and a comic are two different skill sets entirely and kudos to him for doing both. It’s a good way to keep the cash flowing for all of us in a tough economy and if nobody else appreciates it I sure do. Thank you Steve.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Luck 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke

Friday February 13th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI/Rockford, IL

Friday the 13th is Mr. Lucky’s personal holiday. I’ve said it before but that’s when every other person on Earth gets to feel what it’s like to be me for a day. They’re all waiting for some disaster to happen and the pressure is off of me for a change. I actually feel at ease.

This is an unusual year because we’ve got back to back Friday the 13ths and there are a total of three for 2009 which is the most any one year can have. I don’t know if that’s any good for anyone but me but I sure like it because I can have a chance to promote myself.

There’s another one in March and that’s the launch date I’m looking to have my Uranus Factory Outlet website up and running and able to take an order. I’ve still got a significant amount of work to do to make that happen but I’m forging ahead. Deadlines are a positive thing and bring out the best in winners. I’ll do my best to get it done when I said I would.

I had to file an extension for my trademark which cost $150 plus lawyer fees but I can’t afford to let that get away after getting it this far. I will pay the fee and keep plugging and not let up until I turn this into a reality. I’m the King of Uranus and nobody can stop me!

Right now nobody’s trying to stop me so that’s a huge plus. Most people think I’m just a kook bag and that’s ok too. I don’t care, I still think it’s fun and I’m going to make it all come together despite what anyone else thinks. Life is too short to not chase a fun dream and this is totally it - at least for me. Nobody else could pull this gimmick off any better.

Mr. Lucky is another story. There could be some young actor who could play the role of Mr. Lucky much like Dick Van Dyke played Carl Reiner for The Dick Van Dyke Show. It wouldn’t really bother me at all if he nailed it as strongly as Dick Van Dyke did. I have no problem with that at all as long as the production is a big hit. I don’t even have to be in it.

Carl Reiner got to play Alan Brady which must have been a fun role but Dick Van Dyke was the lead even though it was based on Carl Reiner’s life. He was secure enough in his skin to relinquish the lead but in return got to be on one of the greatest sitcoms in history.

I’d make that trade in a second. Mr. Lucky is a fun comic character to play but the times when it comes too close to my real life are anything but fun. I’m starting to separate them quite nicely though and Dobie Maxwell is growing as a person while Mr. Lucky is getting deeper and more recognizable as a comic persona. That’s the way to make this all work.

Today I drove up to Milwaukee to be on ‘The D List’ on ESPN Radio 540 with the guys from 10 to noon and then I drove to Rockford to be on ‘104 The X’ with my other friends ‘Stone and Double T’. It was fun to be Mr. Lucky on the air especially on Friday the 13th.

At least I’m not rusting away in my old age. I’m putting projects on the table to work on and very ambitious ones at that. I might succeed overwhelmingly or totally miss my mark but at least I’m out here DOING something. It’s about the journey and I’m on a good one.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Help When I Need It

Thursday February 12th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL/Franklin, WI

Good friends are by far my biggest asset and right when I need them most the best ones are coming through for me. I put the word out a few days ago I could use a little input on my TV set and I sent a copy out to my closest comedy friends I thought could be of help.

The replies have been rolling in from everywhere and they’ve all had a lot of excellent suggestions I can use to make the set even better. That’s why I asked them to look it over in the first place. It’s good to have ‘fresh eyes’ look something over especially when I am so close to it. I am breaking new ground with this method so a little help goes a long way.

I’ve helped countless people myself over the years so I don’t feel guilty about this at all. Many comedians especially of the newer generation would never think of using writers or help from other comics but that’s not how I think at all. If I can make my set better I will.

Gene Perret was Bob Hope’s head writer for many years. He and I have been friends for many years and I always value his opinion. He’s a true comedy master and I never abuse a favor with him. He knows if I ask for something it’s special and I asked him to take a fast peek at my set and tell me what he thought. He wrote back today with some SOLID notes.

He wrote routines for Bob Hope in the Vietnam jungle so he understands the concept of what pressure and deadlines are better than most. I explained that I wanted to be prepared for my shot and he agreed that I was doing the right thing. He changed a little of my word rhythm to flow better and after looking at it again it absolutely does. He knows his stuff.

Bill Gorgo also did some editing on the set and smoothed out a few more areas that had some extra words. That’s what makes it better and I appreciated the effort. I also got some useful suggestions from Kevin Burke and Richard Halasz and Jerry Agar had a very good suggestion on how to shorten up one of the lines. I’ll take these and rework the set again.

The talent coordinator for the Late Late Show has been very supportive. She gave me an opportunity to rework it one more time before she sends it in for the final submission so it can be reviewed by the network censors apparently. I’m not worried at all now. It’s a very solid set with some nice jokes and a good flow. I can make a good impression if I nail it.

I have no reason to believe I won’t. I will finish it up and then work on it until I am sick of it and then I’ll work on it some more. This is what I need to do to get on television and there is NO excuse as to why I shouldn’t do this. Fear and nervousness are out the door.

I kept up my walking today in the Gurnee Mills Mall. I’ve been going there so much the security guards are starting to get to know me. They nod when I walk by and I’ll nod back but I don’t stop walking and today I worked up a full sweat and took two laps in the mall.

Little by little all this is coming together. It’s only a month away but I’m training for it a day at a time. Three days down - twenty five to go. I’m going to give this my full effort.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Is It I Want?

Wednesday February 11th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Self inflicted boot camp day two. So far so good. I made some good decisions today but they’re ones I should be making every day and don’t. Maybe this will help me finally take charge of my life like I always threaten to and then get sidetracked by fifty other things.

Those fifty other things are still out there but for at least the next month I want to avoid letting them take me out of my groove. I need to go out to L.A. and knock out a solid four and a half minute comedy set on March 10th. Period. I want to be in a positive mental and physical and even spiritual place when I get there. I want this to be the start of my career.

I’ve said it before and it’s true - I’ve had a job in show business my whole life but never a career. I’ve never done anything that builds to anything significant even though I’ve had a couple of times I thought something might pop. I’ve worked hard but never had that big break that’s necessary to launch someone into a career. Everyone needs to find that break.

The good thing is everyone starts where I did too. Some have more talent and others are luckier but everyone starts out as an unknown at some point. The Michael Jacksons of the world get recognized early and it’s a life long career even if he’s cooled off a lot by now.

The Willie Nelsons and Rodney Dangerfields of the world are exactly the opposite. I’m in their category and those guys struggled and fought a lot longer than they probably had to but that’s how it went for them. They made it later rather than sooner but they made it.

‘Making it’ is different depending on who is asked to define the term. For me making it would be having a significant number of the public know who I am and come see me at a live show. They could know me from television appearances or a radio show but I want a solid fan base of intelligent people who love comedy and I want to serve them all well.

I’d love to have financial security but only so I could be free to create more and give of myself more. My needs and wants are ridiculously low at this point and it wouldn’t take a whole lot to get me there in a hurry. After that I’d focus on giving away as much of what I had as possible so I could spread it around a little. The fun part of life for me is creating.

I want to have a career body of work to look back on that I can be proud of. I would like to have several more CD and/or DVD projects of quality standup comedy that makes my fans laugh and also is studied by comedians because it’s well done. That takes hard work.

I want to also keep on teaching classes and allow others to experience the thrill of being up there on that stage. That’s been one of the best things I’ve done and there’s no reason I need to stop any time soon. It keeps me around creativity and quality people and I love it.

It all starts with a successful TV credit. That puts me on a level I need to be to make the other things happen. Management would be nice too. I need to start thinking on a level of where I want to be and doing low paying seedy one nighters isn’t it. I want a career now.

Four Weeks To Ferguson

Tuesday February 10th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

T-minus twenty-eight days on the nose and counting until I make my national television comedy debut on the Craig Ferguson show in Los Angeles. Actually that’s only when I’m recording it in front of that good old ‘live studio audience‘. The air date has not been set.

It will air whenever it does but my main focus for the next four weeks is to be READY for that taping date. I’ve been a comedian my whole life so it’s not a matter of wondering if I can do the job. I can. I’ve done it literally thousands of times in just as many venues.

I’ve gotten laughs all over North America and know how to be funny on stage. This is a matter of doing THIS job and doing it well. I looked back at my four and a half minute set I submitted months ago and it’s not that bad in retrospect. There are some good lines in it.

It flows pretty well even though the material I chose I don’t usually perform in an order like this I still think I’ll be able to polish it up and test it many times and then go out there and let it rip. If nothing else I will get a great experience of being on a national TV show.

I went through my list of trusted comedy minds and sent a copy of my set to all of them. I asked them to go through it and see if there are any glaring weaknesses or duds that need to be pulled out immediately. I didn’t see any but that’s why I asked. I’d rather have it out of the mix now rather than go on TV and drop a big horse dump. It’s just smart business.

That’s what all of this is - smart business. I don’t need to go out and do a television shot to pump up my ego. I’ve made a living at comedy for a lifetime and that’s no easy task for anyone. What this does is adds legitimacy to my efforts and proof that I can do the job for future potential people who will hire me. I’m going out there to make a new tape for gigs.

Hopefully I’ll make some new connections too. I need to reconnect with the Foxworthy management people and get that contact going. Now I’ll have something to show them at the meeting that’s fresh off the griddle. Not everyone has that option so I’ll use it wisely.

I’ve got four weeks to do a personal boot camp. I bought a whole body cleanse and that takes two weeks to clean the toxins out of my body allegedly. I’m sure I probably have all kinds of nasty germs and buildup in my colon so hopefully I can start blasting it out so I’ll be in good spirits four weeks from now. I won’t be a finished product but I’ll be better.

I also have started my daily walks again. I went to the Gurnee Mills Mall both yesterday and today and completed a full lap each day and was sweating when I finished. That’s the kind of thing I should be doing every day but I haven’t been. I want to get myself ready.

Between having my trusted friends make notes on my set and me walking every day and eating better and cleaning out my toxins and inner sludge I should be in good shape. I like deadlines because it causes me to focus and with my scatterbrained left handedness it’s an absolute must. First day of boot camp complete. Four weeks and counting to my taping.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Check Your Checks

Monday February 9th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Just when I thought I could move on from my Memphis experience a Mr. Lucky glitch rolls in and I’m right back to dealing with it again. I normally won’t take a check from an out of state club but if I trust anyone in America it’s the people at Comedy, TN. So I did.

I’ve done it before and have never had a problem. Today I took the check to my bank to deposit it and the teller informed me I wouldn’t be able to do that because the amounts on the ‘written out’ line and the ‘numbers’ line didn’t match. I never would have noticed it.

Taking a check is never a preference and over the years most people pay in cash after an engagement whether it’s one night or a whole week. Many places pay by check but then it can be immediately cashed in house should the comic choose to do that. Most of us do.

What had happened was the person writing the check forgot to write the word ‘hundred’ after the first part so it was a huge discrepancy and the bank wouldn’t let it slide. I have to get a new check written for the correct amount. One would think they could make a quick phone call to Memphis and talk to the club manager or the bank and clear it all up. Nope.

I called John Marks and left a message and he called back in about an hour or so. He’s a comic too so he understands and he couldn’t have been any more apologetic. I told him to relax because it was an honest mistake which it was. He offered to overnight a new check but I told him to just mail it and save the $30. He told me he‘d do it and I know he will.

It is kind of funny that it happened to me though. Mr. Lucky’s legend grows every time a quirky thing like this happens and too many have happened in my lifetime to count. It’s been a hell of a ride but it sure provides entertainment for a lot of people. This will be yet another tale of the unusual that will make the rounds on my behalf. I’m used to it by now.

This could have been a real disaster in another situation. I’m glad I don’t make it a habit to take checks because things like this happen all the time. One time I was working down in Blacksburg, VA across from Virginia Tech where they do a weekly show in a Holiday Inn that’s actually quite good. The hotel manager forgot to sign only my check. Game on.

I left town and couldn’t cash it so I had to mail it back to them and get another one sent to me and it was a month or so before I got my money. They admit they’d made the error but I was the one who had to hunt it down and get my money. It’s the cost of business.

This check from Memphis was signed and I always check that now so that’s all I needed to do - or so I thought. I checked the amount too and it was correct. What I didn’t check is the line where the amount is written out. That’s where the mistake was so I overlooked it.

This is a great lesson for comedians or anyone in business - NEVER TAKE A CHECK. Period. And if you have to check ALL that can go wrong with it. Check the date. Check it for signature(s). Check to make sure the amount is right. Everywhere. Check your checks.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

An All Day Sucker

Sunday February 8th, 2009 - Memphis, TN/Kenosha, WI

Memphis will always have pleasant memories for me no matter if I’m ever booked here again or not. After the late show last night I said my final goodbyes at the club to the staff and they were all very complimentary of my show and said they always thought I was one of if not the most favorite comics that came through town. And a few may have meant it.

Actually I think they all meant it. I usually try to keep to myself with a club’s staff for a lot of reasons. I’m never rude but I don’t go out of my way to hang out with them because I don’t think anything good ever comes out of it. Sure, it’s fun for those who might like to party a little but as for me it’s always been smart business to let them come to me first.

IF someone on the staff decides to talk to me I try to be as nice as humanly possible as I do to all who approach me but looking to befriend them is a different story. I’ve seen a lot of strange things happen between comics and club staff on a lot of levels and I don’t want to bog myself down with that. I’ve got enough other problems to work on in my own life.

One of them was riding eleven hours home with my comedian tag along friend that now ranks as my biggest mistake of 2009 so far. By the time we hit St. Louis I wanted to get a cab and pay someone else to drive me home just so I could get some peace and quiet.

I like to be quiet in the car when I drive long distances. I always have. I like to allow all my ideas to float around my head and then leak out my ear for me to bounce around for a while and think it over. Sure I like music and sports talk and I listen to stuff but as a rule I like to keep it quiet because it allows me to think and be creative. That’s just how I like it.

Of course he is exactly the opposite and insisted on playing me HIS favorites which was bad enough until he started singing along with them at the top of his voice. I truly wanted to drive into an oncoming train to stop the pain but I sat and gritted my teeth for the entire 650 mile trip. This is the kind of mind torture the Chinese have been using for centuries.

He really is a harmless person and doesn’t mean to be anything but positive and in fact I can’t stop him from talking about being positive because he corrects me every time I may let a negative statement leak out. He’s not only a glass is half full kind of guy he wants to walk around with a pitcher filling up everyone else’s glass whether they want it or not.

I’m sure he means well but by the Missouri state line I was considering the positives of a murder/suicide and making a pretty good case to myself. By the time we got to Chicago my nerves were frazzled and my energy was drained and we drove eleven hours together from 4:30am to 3:30pm. I felt like I had just finished a marathon doing the crab walk.

We’ve worked together before and it’s worked out ok but this time it was a chore and a hassle and I don’t know how to deal with it in the future. We have a booking coming up a couple of weeks from now but it’s one night and only a couple of hours away. I’m hoping to just move on and next time he asks to tag along with me I don’t answer my phone.

I hate to be that way but I have no patience for stuff like this. I try to be polite and think of the other person and avoid conflicts and confrontations and clashes whenever I can but this whole trip pushed every single button I have and right now I feel like I’m worn out. It was a complete lack of fun for me but I don’t think he has any idea he made that happen.

Could I tell him? I guess so but would that change anything? I doubt it. People are who they are and I respect that. I’m the first one to admit I’m a loopy bastard filled with quirks but they’re MY quirks and I know how to deal with them. I don’t need to baby sit others.

Many years I worked with Shirley Hemphill from the TV show ’What’s Happening?’ It was the first celebrity I ever worked with for a whole week and I sure did get an education from her. She was from the mountains of North Carolina and shot straight from the hip. If she liked or didn’t like something she’d let everyone know and then nobody was unsure.

I watched how she handled herself and she ALWAYS drove herself places like to do an interview on radio or TV. She never wanted to be beholden to someone to pick her up and she took responsibility. She also NEVER took a free meal from anyone. She paid for it in full because then if she didn’t like something she could complain about it without guilt.

I thought that was a little harsh when I first saw it but now I realize she did the very best thing she could have done and kept control of the situation. If the guy that’s with me sang in her rental car she’d have either thrown him out or tried to out sing him herself but it’s a call she would have made herself. I didn’t want to make it because I was trying to be nice.

‘Nice’ never does it. It just doesn’t. Nice people get shot in the head or mugged or taken advantage of in a Bernie Madoff money scam. Nice people have to foot the bill for all the others who aren’t so nice and that alone makes me want to puke up my vanilla pudding.

I’m a nice guy too. I think I’m doomed but that’s just who I am. I try to help everyone I can in any way I can but even when I can’t I don’t try to annoy them on purpose. This is a situation where I think the guy doesn’t see how much energy he drained from me all week and how I don’t even want to deal with it anymore. I just don’t want to be near this vibe.

I’ve got work to do in a lot of areas. I know that. If I keep letting this kind of stuff take a foothold it’s going to drain all the positive energy I do have and I can’t afford that now. It isn’t doing any good for me to have wasted a whole other week dealing with all this stuff.

On a good note the Mothership Connection radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI went great again tonight. We had interesting guests and interested callers and we are a work in progress but one worth paying both dues and attention. This is a very good team.

Driving 650 miles from Memphis starting at 4:30am and being a worn out babbling half wit didn’t help the show prep or make it better. Still, we had an interesting program and if I stay around here I have to believe I can at least avoid the physical hell of being in an old car driving from an old hotel hearing an old comic telling me old stories. THAT’S old.

Twelve Is Elvis

Saturday February 7th, 2009 - Memphis, TN

I’m in Memphis and thinking about marketing. Who better to model than Elvis Presley? We do have one thing in common - five letters in our first name and seven in our last. It’s about all we have in common but at least it’s a start. Elvis is the ultimate marketing study.

Is there a bigger single name in the entertainment industry in the last 50 years than Elvis Presley? Do we really need the Presley? Elvis is a one name dynamo that conjures images of sideburns, swinging hips and a glitter jumpsuit. Viva Las Vegas. Blue Suede Shoes. A hunk o’ hunk o’ burnin’ love. I don’t think there will ever be another act as big as he was.

The reason for it is he was the ultimate example of somebody being in the right place at the right time and everything fell together. Did he have talent? Absolutely. Charisma? He was bathing in it. Good looks? Chicks threw themselves at him. He had it all. Elvis really was the king and he lasted for twenty years alive and even longer dead. What can I learn?

Uh, after thinking about it for a while I learned I am not even close to being Elvis other than having the same amount of letters in our first and last names. He hit it at 22 and was dead before he reached the age I am now. I guess I’ll have to forge my own life story and nobody will probably ever want to tour my house when I’m dead other than a junk hauler.

Still it was fun to take a ride over to Graceland and walk around a little. Last time I was there I took the tour but I didn’t need to again and just walked around and took in the gift shops looking for marketing ideas. I’m starting to think like an entrepreneur and no place on Earth is a better example of marketing than Graceland. I had fun watching it all work.

Elvis was the ultimate redneck in many ways. Most of them have a car on blocks in the yard but Elvis has a JET. That’s class. People pay to walk through an airplane parked in a parking lot. That’s a classic example of American entrepreneurial genius if I ever saw it. I’m sure Elvis was probably sick of being Elvis but he sure was a moneymaking machine.

My friend who tagged along on this trip is starting to really get on my nerves. He’s nice and all that but his quirks are not my quirks and we almost came to blows over it when he wanted to have me park in a parking lot to avoid getting my window smashed because he saw a pickup truck in front of me with a smashed window. It got to the point of yelling.

I try to be very easygoing but he was nagging me like a granny and I couldn’t take it for much longer and I blew my cork pretty good. It’s MY car and MY trip and if I want to get broken into damn it that’s MY call. He wouldn’t let it go and it pissed me off and I blew.

I’m sure he didn’t mean to upset me so much but he pushed all my buttons and it really chapped my ass. I can’t deal with that trivial little minutia very well and that’s probably a good reason why I never got married. I’d rather be alone and do things my way than have to suck it up and shut my mouth and be miserable because someone else thinks it should be done a different way. Sorry, if I’m paying the bills Mr. Lucky calls the shots. Period.

Other than that this has been a fun week. The feature act is a funny kid out of Charlotte named Carlos Valencia who’s a little green but has a sharp mind and nice potential. He’s in his twenties and wears a porkpie hat like the Blues Brothers and looks Jewish and does jokes about it. He’s a nice kid and I enjoyed working with him. I think he’s got a future.

People used to tell me I was that kid when I was in my twenties too. ‘You’ve got a nice thing going there kid’ they’d say. ‘Stay with it.’ Well I did stay with it and now I’m a guy telling other kids to do the same. Carlos and I had a nice talk backstage about where he is going and what his goals are and he’s got a firm grasp of the offstage part of the business.

That’s something that I had to work at and still do. I used to just do what I thought was funny and not worry about what anyone else thought. I thought if the audiences laugh I’ll get bookings. HA! How stupid was I? I didn’t realize how much of a political campaign a career in show business actually is. Hell, LIFE is a political campaign. We all deal with it.

Someone should write a book about that subject. If I knew more on how to be good at it I would but I’d BUY the book of someone who could show me how to hide my boredom and disdain for total imbeciles and not have them know it. I’ve never been able to do that.

On the other hand if I like someone they REALLY know it. I feel that way about all of the people here at the club this week. The owners John Marks and Sammy Martin are two of the nicest and most honest people I’ve ever worked with and for and I would drive here for nothing and help them out if they ever needed me. They are on my all time faves list.

I think it’s a kindred spirit thing. Those guys are slugging it out just like I am and they’d be out on the road trying to feed their families just like I am if it weren’t for them running this club. Now they’re closing it in two weeks and they aren’t sure what they’ll be doing.

They have the same concerns as I do about the economy and the comedy business and a future income after the road days are over. They’re both my age and that’s just how it is. I bonded with those guys immediately and as long as they run shows they’ve got my loyalty forever. No matter what I’m doing if they call me I’m there for them. That’s how I feel.

The shows tonight were again off the hook. The first show especially was a monster but the second one didn’t stink. They were a little rowdy but nowhere near the zoo it was last night. I read them well and spiced it up a little because I could see that’s what they would react to the best and they did. I did the job this week and earned every penny of my pay.

I feel bad my friend is having marital issues but it was a mistake to bring him along and in the future I’m going to be more careful. I’ve had people in the past tag along with me on the road for various reasons and it’s a week of babysitting in many cases. I don’t want to have to make sure the other person is entertained. I’m here to work and I want to focus.

I did get a chance to hit the Rendezvous restaurant and have some of their famous ribs. I’d told my friend how good they were and he agreed. At least we didn’t argue about that.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Glorified Hobo

Friday February 6th, 2009 - Memphis, TN

The comedy road life as I know it is coming to an end. For me anyway. I can feel it and in some ways I embrace it. In others it scares the hell out of me because it’s been such an ingrained part of my being my entire life that I don’t know if I can just stop cold turkey.

This week in Memphis has the typical ups and downs of life on the road. The club here is one of my very favorites in the country. It’s run by two comics named John Marks and Sammy Martin who know how it is and have created a wonderful working atmosphere to look forward to. They train their audiences and make sure it’s a very comic friendly gig.

The hotel on the other hand is a different story. It’s a flea bag run by middle easterners who think waking Caucasians up numerous times before 8am is a tradition in America. It might have been a nice joint back in ‘77 when Elvis died but that’s the last time I think it was painted or remodeled. It’s not horrible but it wouldn’t be the place I’d choose to stay.

I’ve stayed in enough toilets over the years to just let it ride and not bitch and that’s the plan this week too but after a lifetime on the road it does beat a person down after a while and I talked to John Marks about it. He asked me how the hotel was and I just shot him an angry scowl and we both laughed. He’s a road comic too and knew exactly what I meant.

We talked about it and I totally knew where he was coming from and why they put us in a place like this. They got a deal and the club is closing soon so God bless them for being able to save a couple of bucks. I don’t have a problem with it at all but a few comics gave John some heat about it and that’s a good way to weed your name out for future bookings.

The place we’re staying is less than a minute drive from the club and it’s next to a lot of restaurants and is right off the freeway too. It’s easy to find and for three nights it’s ok but there’s a Motel 6 right across the freeway ramp for the probably the same price and that’s where I’d choose if it were up to me but it’s not. So I’m stuck in the Curry Chicken Inn.

That’s the thing about life on the road - it’s always different. Some weeks the hotel is an absolute palace and the gig is pure hell. Sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes both can be really good or both can be really bad. Then a few days later everything is reshuffled.

The reason I say road life is ending at least for me is that I have outgrown it. It’s not fun and exciting like it used to be and it’s not leading anywhere. When I started I needed it to get my comic chops and learn my craft. I’ve done that and more and not only have I been successful at learning my craft I’ve really enjoyed the hands on education about life I got.

Now it’s time to get a hands on education about other things. I know how to be a comic and I know how to live like a cockroach on the road and be a glorified hobo. That was fun for a while but now I have to learn about being in business and taking a week off to come down here just delayed that process yet again. I love John and Sammy and I’m glad to get a chance to work with them one more time before they close but it’s coming to an end.

The next step is to either weed out the road life on this level or take it totally to the top. I don’t think the Blue Collar Comedy Tour stayed in any joints like this and that’s a good thing but all those guys were road comics and they’ve all been through what I’m doing.

The shows are great but the other part is a grind. If I’m doing big shows in theatres and staying in five star hotels and have a tour bus and/or get to fly everywhere it makes it a lot easier to reason being away from home. The road is still a grind even in the best of all this but at least there’s a payoff at the end - HUGE money. Right now I’m still squeaking by.

Putting in my time to develop a mail order business is just a smart thing to do right now in many ways. I’m not getting any younger and while I’m still breathing I want to hook up a new stream of income so I don’t have to keep staying in places like this much longer. If I do take a road gig somewhere I want to have enough money to stay where I want to stay.

Still, I’m glad I came this week. The first show tonight was packed and I was in a zone. I always love working this room and part of that is that they train their audiences to laugh and appreciate good comedy. They book solid comics and John or Sammy host the shows and they’re both excellent emcees and keep it moving correctly. It makes a big difference.

The late show was completely the opposite. There was a birthday party for some young hottie and there were about 30 people who came on a bus. They were gassed before they got off the bus and there was no chance for any of us. The show was doomed before it got started but that’s also part of the ups and downs of road life. Late show Friday is a pisser.

There were several stunning young women in the group and all the comics were staring and drooling and gawking but even that didn’t help the show. It was Nagasaki and we had to work around it which is difficult to do. This is when nobody wants to be the headliner.

I made it through and actually got some laughs from the rest of the audience but it was a struggle the whole way. John apologized but I told him he didn’t have to because we have all experienced shows like this over the years. It’s part of comedy and any lifer knows it.

Ups and downs. That’s what road life is. One show is a treasure. The next one is torture. I can deal with it but I can’t keep coming this far to do it. There are enough gigs closer to home where I can still develop my business during the day and build some financial base.

Another ‘up’ was the delicious rack of ribs I had before the show tonight. Sammy is one of the best chefs anywhere and runs the restaurant in the club and it’s OUTSTANDING. I think Sammy would be a world class restaurateur if he wanted but he has the comedy bug just like all of us and that’s what he enjoys doing. He’s good at it too so that’s his choice.

The ups way outweigh the downs over the years and I’m glad I lived my life like I did. I have wonderful memories of traveling all over North America and I appreciate the chance I got to live my dream. Now my dream is evolving and this part is winding down. I loved it and savor it and will enjoy the rest of my week in Memphis. But it’s time to move on.