Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kansas City Here I Come

Monday March 30th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

The thought of staying in one place for a while really appeals to me. I’ve seen just about everything there is to see in North America and it was a wonderful twenty year journey to experience but now I have other projects I want to tackle and driving to Kansas City isn’t one of them. I’ve done it. Many times. TOO many times. This week I have to do it again.

I’ll be working Stanford’s Comedy Club and by all accounts it’s a gorgeous new room in a big entertainment complex way out in the suburbs. That’s all fine but at this stage of the game it’s not the most important requirement I will need to have a successful week.

I have no idea who my opening acts will be and it’s a crapshoot as to whether they will match up well or not. Many times the openers are just thrown together by a booker and it often is without any thought as to how the entire show will flow. I’m getting a lot pickier as I get older and I want to be able to choose who goes in front of me. I’ve earned that.

Not many bookers really care unfortunately. If I’ve earned any good reputation over the years it’s that I can follow most anybody and that I don’t complain about it. I’ve had a lot of bookers tell me they put all their questionable acts in front of me because I can handle most anything and I’m easy to get along with. Gee, thanks. I’m penalized for being good.

That’s getting way old. I used to hear how headliners wanted to have approval on who’d open for them and I thought it was pretentious. Now I can totally understand why they did that and I’m very much in agreement. I want the shows to flow well for both the audience and for me too. If I’m going to sacrifice my life for something I want it to be worthwhile.

I have to be in town tomorrow night to do media on Wednesday morning. They usually have a full schedule of radio and sometimes TV to do and I don’t mind at all but that’s an extra grind that can get old pretty quickly. It’s fun to be a comedian but all this other stuff can get to be a lot of work. People don’t realize how much effort goes into filling a room.

I get it totally as do the owners of Stanford’s so hopefully their new location is a winner and we can have a killer week with sold out fun shows. That’s the goal every week on the road but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way. If it did I wouldn’t be looking for other projects to be doing right now. Or maybe I still would. The road can be a big grind.

The audience at the rising star showcase at Zanies in Chicago tonight was pretty awful. I could sense they were tight up front but all through the show they stayed that way and it made for a super long evening. I didn’t think it would ever end but 13 comics later it did.

Here we go with audience dynamics again. For whatever reason this group of people on this particular evening in this particular setting did not gel as an audience and all of us did what we could to get them to enjoy themselves. This just wasn’t one of those magic times I talked about having last Saturday’s early show in Pheasant Run. This was pulling teeth. But at least I got to pull them and sleep in my own bed. Tomorrow it’s a 550 mile drive.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Against All Odds

Sunday March 29th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

If there’s any one kind of person I respect most it’s a ‘doer’. It’s way too easy to babble on about all the things a person wants to do in life but it’s an entirely different story to get off one’s plump lazy dimpled fanny and actually DO it. Very few people actually achieve anything at all much less anything really significant and successful. It just isn’t that easy.

Many people over the years have called me a doer but in my mind I’ve fallen laughingly short of what I could have done had I had more drive. I could sit around and make a lot of excuses and some of them might be halfway legit but the fact is a lot of it was I was a lazy bum drifting through life and never really carving out a pathway to what I really wanted.

I see a lot of people my age who have really pulled of some admirable accomplishments and I bow to their achievements. Joey Gutierrez comes to mind. Joey is a guy my age who started comedy years before I did. I heard stories about his parents driving him to clubs to do sets before he was of legal age. Good for him. He knew what he wanted to do early on.

I worked with Joey numerous times back in the starting out years and I always liked his act and him as a person too. I wouldn’t say we were close buddies but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get along fine with him. We never fought or anything like that. We were peers back then and everyone was learning the ropes of comedy and finding our way in the business.

Well find a way Joey did. He moved out to Hollywood with his wife Diane who is also a comic and a writer and they have done extremely well. Joey wrote for the Seinfeld show and Drew Carey’s show and he and Diane were the creators of “Still Standing” with Jami Gertz. Any of those credits would be impressive but all of them together are outstanding.

To be honest I have no idea if Joey would even remember me or not. I’d like to think he would at least remember my name but in truth it’s probably been close to twenty years or more since we actually crossed paths. He had a plan and worked that plan amazingly well. I did whatever it was that I did for all that time and now I’m in quite a different position.

He’s probably looking at retirement or at least some form of future security while I’m in a very similar place to where I was twenty years ago. I still hope my car starts and I’m not anywhere near closer to financial security than I was back then. I’m still out here drifting.

Joey made some great decisions and he’s very talented. I only met his wife Diane one or two times and very briefly but she seemed very much on the ball as well. They’ve been at it for years and years and I’m happy for their success but now I have to find my game plan and get my own. I’m in a race against time and I don’t want to die broke in a basement.

I’ve done a few things pretty well especially coming where I came from and what I was given to work with but that’s no excuse anymore. I’ve had a lot of years to make my own life decisions and I can’t keep blaming my parents or my past. At some point I have to get my life together and take responsibility for how it turns out. That time is right about now.

The reason I thought about all this today was because I went to Zanies in Chicago to see the sitcom premiere of “Big People Little People” starring my comedian friends Tim Clue and John DaCosse. John and Bert Haas wrote the script based on Bert’s wife Sally who is also a comic. They’ve been working on this project for years and today was the showing.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t miss it for anything. I know and like all the parties involved and to see something I know has had this much work put into it made me proud to know all of them as friends. I respect the effort and even if it would have been horrific I would’ve still liked it because I saw the passion that went into it. These guys poured their souls into this.

John and Tim were part of another sitcom project idea a few years ago and Bert has been a writer for years. They teamed up on this project and have been plugging away making it come together in their spare time. All of them have families and lives and to make time to work on a project like this is no small accomplishment. I had to go and support the effort.

Jerry Agar knows Bert Haas and he was invited too so we drove together. I was the one who introduced them and it feels great to be able to say that. Everyone there was a Zanies insider or a member of the cast and it was an honor to be asked. Larry Reeb was there and Mike Preston too. Mike was the camera person and film editor and he did a fantastic job.

The whole atmosphere was fun and exciting. It’s especially interesting to watch a show where I know the people in it personally. I thought they really nailed it and it was a funny and well structured pilot. They entered it in a big sitcom contest and hopefully they’ll win or at least get some notice. That whole process is another game that has very poor odds.

Show business in general has very poor odds. For someone to get lucky enough to get a hit project takes a lot of things coming together. Timing and luck are part of that but it’s a matter of doing the work required also. It took a ton of hard work and sacrifice by each of the people involved in the show today to make it this far and this is only a pilot episode.

Actually it really isn’t even that yet. This was a self made version of a pilot episode that they did to enter the contest. They hope to be able to get some funding to do it again on a real soundstage with better quality broadcast equipment and maybe a crew. Unfortunately that isn’t going to guarantee they’ll ever get on TV with it even after all that hard work.

That’s why I respect the effort of all these people so much and I was honored to be there to see the premiere. I enjoyed it very much and I think there is some talent involved on all levels. John and Tim are smooth actors and funny guys and Bert is a strong writer as well.

I am also even more respectful of the success of a guy like Joey Gutierrez who not only was on several huge shows as a writer but he also got to be in charge of his own show as well. He came up the ladder and paid his dues and he is one of a very few who hit it big.

I’d love to see Bert and John and Tim hook up with Joey and take this project to the big time. It could happen. Show business is who you know and these people know each other.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What Makes It All Worth It

Saturday March 28th, 2009 - St. Charles, IL

The early show tonight at Zanies in Pheasant Run is an example of what has kept me in this business for an entire lifetime. There was a magical chemistry between the audience’s vibe and mine that was as close to a perfect match as I’ve ever seen. It was magnificent.

I’ve had good shows and bad ones but this was in a zone by itself. I don’t think I’ve had a dozen shows like this in my entire life that have been this good of a match. I felt like I’d known them all for years and we were just hanging out and having fun. And we all were.

What made it so special was that it lasted the whole show. There were no weak spots in a forty-five minute set and it built perfectly. I started strong and finished stronger. It feels as if I just bowled a 300 game or hit a hole in one. The stars aligned in my favor tonight.

This audience was a touch on the sick and twisted side which also helped make it work so well. They could take whatever I dished out and I knew it. That made me try to go for a few shock lines which totally worked. That can be delicate if they don’t buy it but tonight they totally did. It was like they were all on the same page and I was reading it to them.

Part of what helped was that there were two larger groups in attendance. Some of them obviously knew each other so there was a familiarity there but they were different groups so they were still strangers. To have them all come together so well was a rare happening.

After the show I was totally drained. I gave them all I had and they loved it. I did too. It was as good as comedy gets and that’s pretty damn good. I even remembered to bring my postcards to pass out and I sat and shook hands and passed out cards until everyone left.

These are the shows that keep us all going when it gets rough. The high is that intense. I knew it while it was happening and I just enjoyed the moment. I was totally free up there. I’m finally learning to enjoy myself during my shows. It’s like an out of body experience. It took years to learn how to do it right but now I can sit back and let instincts take over.

The late show wasn’t nearly as good. It was also full of chatty people and I had to deal with that all night. This was the late show Friday we didn’t have last night but after a hot show like the early one I didn’t really care. That buzz would last me the rest of the night.

That’s a good thing because I needed it on the way home. The weather was nasty and it was snowing hard as I heard a thumping noise coming from under my car. Apparently I’d hit a nail or a pothole or something and it shredded my front passenger side tire. I was not near civilization so I nursed it a couple of miles until I was at an identifiable intersection.

Of course my AAA membership had expired and I didn’t know that. It was a huge pain in the ass to get a tow truck to get me at 1am which became 2:30 by the time one came to help. A local cop was great and helped me find a tow truck and waited until it came and I really appreciate it. Highs and lows in the same day are what make life such an adventure.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dance Fever

Friday March 27th, 2009 - St. Charles, IL

OK, that’s more like it. Back on track for two very strong shows at Zanies tonight. This is a lot more of what I was expecting and even the late show was really cooking. I thought they were going to be a little rowdy but they settled in nicely and I had a lot of fun with it.

The process of a live comedy show is very much a dance with the audience. I’m the one leading but if they don’t follow nobody’s having any fun. When they let me take them any and all directions is when it really gets fun and that’s what I felt tonight. I was in control.

I love life when the shows are like this. My mind is alive and sharp and I feel every tiny nerve ending inside me tingle as I shape the raw energy into a show that’s unique to each particular audience. That’s what I did twice tonight and after each show I was drenched in sweat and what a great feeling that is to know I’ve given everything I possibly can give.

The early show was pretty packed and I had several former students come out to see me. I’m always very flattered when that happens and tonight was no different. Steve Stern is a high school teacher by trade but he’s very funny and one of my all time favorite students.

He was going through a horrible divorce when he took my class years ago and it helped him funnel his pain a little. He was great in his graduation show but he knew he couldn’t pursue comedy any farther and he was fine with that. He just wanted to explore it a little.

We’ve been in contact for probably a dozen years now and it’s people like Steve that are the reason I love teaching so much. That process is very much a dance too and if they will let me lead I always promise I’ll take them to a place that will allow them to be their best.

I really had a fantastic time on stage tonight but after the shows I realized how piss poor my marketing is right now. I don’t have anything to sell or any cards to pass out and I am just plain stupid for not doing it. Many of these people are first timers and I could develop them into regulars if I let them know I’m coming back. This has to stop and I mean today.

I have some postcard size cards I had made up a while back which are now obsolete but at least they have my name on it and my phone number. I had them made mainly to start a buzz about Uranus Factory Outlet and also to push WLS radio appearances on Mondays.

I never did get one just for comedy shows and that’s insane. Why not? I have no excuse other than I just didn’t do it and tonight I blew a chance to stay on top of two outstanding audiences who would probably love to know when I’m coming back. I’m embarrassed for not being on the ball but I can change that and I will. That’s my first order of business.

Before the show the manager Cyndi took us out to eat at the Harvest restaurant which is in the Pheasant Run Resort. WOW, what a place. They have upgraded it into a fine dining establishment that’s as outstanding as any restaurant I’ve ever eaten. Ever. And I’ve eaten at a lot of great places. It was fun to hang out and enjoy one of the best meals I ever had.

Friday, March 27, 2009

There ARE Bad Audiences

Thursday March 26th, 2009 - St. Charles, IL

Today had all the trimmings of a great day but the show was terrible and that’s what I’ll remember. I took some time to prepare and I was in a very good mood but as usual it only takes a single wank pole to ruin it for everyone. It amazes me how some humanoids are.

I can’t stand it when this happens and it’s happened hundreds of times before. Some ass nugget gets into a comedy show for free and thinks he (or sometimes she) is ‘helping’ and no matter how much they’re told to stop talking nothing will get in their way of babbling.

The older I get the less patience I have with these situations but it really hasn’t bothered me in a while because I’ve had a string of very good shows lately. I’ve been on my game and when that happens I’m a difficult act to heckle because I talk fast and don’t allow for anyone to jump in and mess with me. Once in a while they still do and tonight was it.

It wasn’t just me though. This whole audience was goofy. Audience dynamics are very unpredictable, much like a jury. There are infinite combinations of possibilities as to how they will react and when they are all together they can do some unpredictable things. I am pretty good at reading audiences after all these years but sometimes even I still am fooled.

Normally I love working at Pheasant Run Zanies. The stage is nice and roomy and there is a nice sound system and the lights are good and usually I rock that place. Tonight was a situation nobody expected but we all had to deal with it and everyone is relieved it’s over.

The emcee this week is Mike Preston who has been doing comedy many years. He’s not a complainer at all and even he said he didn’t like them when he came off. The feature act is a young kid named Bryan Berrey who is really funny but is still a little green and hasn’t developed his road chops yet. He will, but tonight he had to deal with this situation too.

To his credit he did his time but his style is to do short and very clever one liners with a setup and a punch line. He doesn’t really interact with the crowd but tonight he needed to. I watched him struggle and it reminded me of the years I spent doing the very same thing.

I got up there and started to hit them hard and bring them into my rhythm. I used all my years of experience to get them in my groove and I had some spots where they were with me but I never got on a really good roll and part of it was because they were just plain old STUPID. Some people say there are no bad audiences but once in a while there just are.

What really made it unpleasant was a group of four halfwits right next to the stage who would NOT stop talking. They talked through Mike and then Bryan and halfway through my show I called them on it and they were smart asses and couldn’t believe I’d do that.

After the show the one who did it the most came back to shake Bryan’s hand and made it a point to not shake mine and make a snide remark I didn’t hear as he walked away and then shot me a glare over his shoulder like he ‘won’. Here’s hoping he gets a butt fungus.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hump Day Hiatus

Wednesday March 25th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Sometimes there’s a Wednesday night show at Zanies in St. Charles but this wasn’t one of them. This is my only night off this week and in these times that’s a welcome situation. Work is good and I’ve been getting all kinds of it lately. I will take it all and be thankful.

This is my peak and I have no idea how long it will last so I am taking all the work I can get, but in the best venues I can find. This week I’m at Pheasant Run Zanies which is very familiar and comfortable to me. I love the room the manager Cyndi is a total sweetheart.

Next week I’m in Kansas City and there’s a new location of the club I work and I heard it’s really nice. I’ve worked Kansas City a few times and I like that place too. After that’s over I come back to do Zanies on Wells Street in Chicago and then I go to Laughlin, NV and Las Vegas for back to back weeks. The pay is decent and I’m working places I like.

This is all I ever asked for and I’m thrilled to be doing it. I’m going to use these gigs to keep working on my act in every way. I will polish up new material and keep working on my next 4 ½ minute TV set every night. I will also work on getting my marketing up to an acceptable level for a nationally touring headliner which is what I want to legitimately be.

I had yet another lunch with Marc Schultz today and that’s exactly what we discussed at length the whole time. He’s always been in my corner but I asked him how I can take it to another level and really make a run at the big money. Marc books all kinds of acts besides comedians and he said a lot of it starts with a promo package and that starts with a video.

It doesn’t usually work that way in comedy clubs but Marc has always told me that isn’t where the real money is in this business. I agree with that 100%. The real money comes in getting the big company bookings at their convention or yearly awards dinner or whatever they do that uses entertainment. Those are the gigs that have a check with a comma in it.

I want to at least be considered for those kinds of shows and if I don’t put myself out in front of the people who book them I’ll never get my chance. Marc has been doing his best to include me in his presentations anytime comedy is being bought but I need lots of other bookers around the country to know me too. That will take as much effort as performing.

I also need to renew my ties with all the club bookers as well. I’m still very behind on it and there is absolutely no excuse other than I’ve been too busy working to look for work. I’m fortunate enough that a certain amount of people seek me out but that’s not the route to real success. I’m surviving and my needs are met but I want to do more than just that.

I want to keep making my dreams come true. I love the excitement of achieving a goal like getting on national television. Most people dream of it and I did too but I played the game and I really made it happen. Why stop there? I want to keep cranking out products that my fans enjoy and I want to make more fans to enjoy my products. I want to do it all correctly and not cheat myself or anyone else in the process. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

A Seven Year Old Superstar

Tuesday March 24th, 2009 - Rockford, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Today was all over the place but none of it was bad. I received a call to fill in at LT’s in Rockford, IL and I gladly took it. It’s a short drive there and back and I’ve done it several times before. I’m working the rest of the week at Zanies so this was a little bonus money.

I always liked Rockford. I bet I’ve worked there at least a hundred times over the years and with any luck I’ll work a hundred more. The people have been very friendly to me as a rule and it’s in a fantastic location accessible to Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, WI.

Another reason I like Rockford is being a guest on the ‘Stone and Double T’ radio show on WXRX radio. They have an open door policy and any time I’m in town I can go in and hang out on their afternoon show. I enjoy it very much and whenever I’m in town I try my best to stop in and say hello. They always treat me like I’m famous and I appreciate that.

There are a few famous people from Rockford like Suzanne Pleshette and Cheap Trick. In the comedy world Kip Adotta is originally from there and he’s always been one of my very favorites. I remember seeing him on the TV show ‘Make Me Laugh’ back in the day with guys like Bruce Baum and Vic Dunlop and many others. Kip was always very funny.

I met a young lady today who is going to put all of those people with myself included to shame and she’s only seven years old. Yes - SEVEN! Her name is Emily Bear and she’s a world class pianist. Not only this world either. If there indeed is life on other planets she’s got to be at the top of their list too. I’ve never heard or seen any seven year olds like this.

None of us really knew what to expect but when she came in the studio and sat down at the mike we all immediately knew we were in the presence of genius. This kid was full of an energy that radiated from her that is way beyond her seven years. What a gift she has.

My feeble little attempts at humor may have their place but I gladly took a back seat so I could soak in the vibe of a legitimate genius. I’d always heard Mozart was composing at a young age but to see an example of it in person was very impressive. It left us all in awe.

Some people just win the lottery in life. Emily Bear hit the power ball and then some. If there’s another seven year old anywhere with more going on than Emily I sure would love to meet that kid. Emily has it all. She’s amazing at what she does and a total peach pie to boot. She’s very much a child first and it shows. Her parents have done a wonderful job.

Her mom brought her to the studio and not only is she very attractive but she’s a singer and has appeared on Broadway. Her dad is the team doctor for the Rockford Ice Hogs and Emily is a beautiful kid inside and out. Good genetics plus good family equals good life.

I love kids anyway but it really blew my mind to see Emily handle everything so well in the interview. She was relaxed and I made her laugh out loud a few times by throwing her some lines she didn’t expect. Nothing took her out of the game though. She hung in there.

She was on the show plugging her gig with the Rockford Symphony on Saturday night. She’s also played at Ravinia in the Chicago area and has been on the Ellen DeGeneres TV show four times. FOUR. And I was thrilled about getting my one little spot just recently.

None of this has gone to her head and it was really fun to watch all this transpire as I sat in the studio and enjoyed the whole thing. Stone and Double T were loving it as well so it really came off sincere and it totally was. Stone even played a few of her songs on the air.

That’s what really blew everyone away. She’s on a level all by herself. She has released three CDs already and not only can she play like nobody else I’ve ever heard she WROTE most of if not all the songs on at least the last two. Wow. I am so impressed with that I’m speechless and that rarely happens but rarely does a person get to meet a child prodigy.

I have nothing to gain by plugging her website but go check Emily out for yourself and you’ll see why I’m gushing so much about her. It’s www.emilybear.com. Check out a CD and not only will you agree how fantastic she is but part of the money goes to charity too.

Not many people will ever get to experience what Emily is probably going to achieve in her life but I predict she will be fine and not flip out like the cast from Diff’rent Strokes. I could see that the music was just in her. It is a part of her being like her hair or her liver.

Here is a seven year old girl who is composing world class music but she’s still able to be a kid too. Her mother seemed very grounded and showed us a picture of her two other kids who are also apparently very grounded and normal. They don’t play the piano as well as Emily does but apparently few people do of any age. She’s the cosmic lottery winner.

It was a genuine thrill to watch this all transpire today. I could feel her talent as she was talking about it and then when we heard her songs it blew us all away. She’s very special. I wish I would have gotten her autograph or a picture taken with her but she did draw us a picture and signed it to Stone and Double T ‘and Dobie too’. At least I made the final cut.

The show tonight at L.T.’s was a big letdown after seeing Emily work. Here I am trying to make rent after a lifetime in comedy and she’s doing gigs with the Rockford Symphony at age seven. She’ll never have to do one nighters in bars to pay for her cell phone bill and that’s a good thing. She’s going to have a first class ticket in her life and I‘m glad for her.

The weather was pretty nasty on the way home and about a mile from my house I saw a car stranded right in the middle of a dark two lane road. I stopped to help and it was a cab driver from India. He thought his alternator fried but when we tried to jump it it wouldn’t turn over. We tried for quite a while and ended up pushing his cab off the road into a lot.

What really got my attention was how thankful the guy was that anyone stopped. I guess I don’t realize what it’s like to be a foreigner in a strange land and not speak the language well. I thought the guy was going to start crying when I offered to drive him home. It was no big deal to me but to him it was a major event. It feels good to be able to help people.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Magnificent Monday Magic

Monday March 23rd, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Some days everything works. Other days everything doesn’t. Today started one way and ended up the other. I woke up at 5:15am and was supposed to catch my train into Chicago at 5:26. I flew out of bed and dressed as fast as I could and started hauling ass to get to the train station. I cut mud pretty good and got there exactly at 5:27 to watch the train leave.

There was nothing I could do about it and had I tried to run any faster I’m sure my liver or pancreas or other internal organ I might need for a few more years would’ve burst like a frozen pipe in February. Better to wait for the next train than ride in an ambulance now.

The next train wasn’t for another half hour and it got me into the city later than I wanted but I was still on time to meet Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara to go over the material we were going to do on WLS in a special Jerry’s Kidder’s segment. Jerry Agar is filling in for Don and Roma on the morning show this whole week and invited us to do our bit once again.

I must say we handled it very nicely. Not only were we all in a good mood, we also had Maura Myles and Wendy Snyder sit in with us. It was like a band adding a horn section. It made us all sound great as those ladies know how to bring it on the air. They’re both pros.

Jerry knows what he’s doing too. He shouldn’t be on fill in duty in my opinion but it’s a chance to get some income and nobody can blame him for that. He has a wife and kids he needs to feed and far be it from me to judge anyone’s financial affairs. He needs a job and I respect anyone’s right to earn a living. What I mean is I think he should still have a job.

All of that talk and thought was put aside and we all went into the studio and let it rip. I could feel we were on a good roll in the first ten seconds and that’s what radio does to get a person’s soul and never give it back. Days like today are what keep us hooked for life.

After the show we hung out at our favorite restaurant Ronnie’s a few blocks from WLS and our old friend and biggest supporter Kipper McGee came to join us for a while before a doctor’s appointment for some back problems. He was hurting but still came to see us.

We all like and respect Kipper very much and it was he who gave us a giant push on the air like none of us have ever seen. He believed in us and so did Jerry and that’s why we’re always trying to please them first because we all appreciate how much work went into it.

Jerry was in a groove today and I thought all the Kidders were as well. I also thought we interacted well with both Maura and Wendy who are witty and sharp in their own right. It isn’t a strain at all at this point. We took a year to hone our chemistry and it‘s still there.

I sure hope this isn’t the last time we’re on the air together but I can never tell. This is a project that has technically been terminated when Jerry got fired but they keep asking him back to fill in and he in turn asks for us to join him. We’re like ghosts returning to a death site. We got fired months ago but we’ve returned many times. And I hope we will again.

Jerry drove into the city because it was such an early shift so he drove me back home. It saved a few hours of the train process for me so I decided to use the time to keep working on all the things I’m working on. I need to funnel every free minute I have into doing that.

I received two emails today from the Late Late Show from different people telling me it still hasn’t been determined when my segment will air. People keep asking and I’d love to be able to tell them when but as of now it hasn’t been decided. I’m fine with it. It’ll come.

Tonight was another showcase of the up and coming comics at Zanies in Chicago and I was again the host. I’m really enjoying that gig and it’s turning into a mini event. Lots of the people performing bring people to see them and the audiences have been pretty full.

They haven’t always been great audiences but at least there were butts in seats drinking and buying food. That’s what pays me so I always appreciate it. For whatever reason they were on fire tonight though. This audience was one of the best I’ve seen in many months.

It’s always amazing to me to study audience dynamics. It’s totally random and each one has to be dealt with separately. Sometimes the numbers are large but they are stiff and not into the show at all. Other times a small crowd of 20 or so can be electric. I’ve seen it all.

It has nothing to do with young or old or white or black or male or female or things like that. Yes, audiences can be different because of those factors, but even then there are still no guarantees they’ll all be the same. People are individuals and then they collect together as a random crowd and just like lottery number combinations the possibilities are endless.

Tonight’s audience was a lottery winner. They exploded with laughter and I could sense it in my first ten seconds on stage just like I knew in the first ten seconds on the radio that we would have a good show. I knew it. I felt it. And I was right. Again, this is the kind of show that keeps a person doing it when the audience sucks or is small. This was a keeper.

I wonder why it went so well today both on the radio and on stage? Was there some sort of biorhythm going on in the universe to make it so? Was it the opposite of a full moon or something and everyone was magically in a good mood? I have no idea but I sure felt that everything I was involved with was on point. Life was firing on all eight cylinders today.

Missing the train was no big deal but when it happened I thought in the very back of my mind that this could be the start of a ’Mr. Lucky day’. I’ve lived way too many of those to count but everything goes wrong and I can’t control it. Not today. Everything went right. I wish I could bottle up days like this and use a little bit of it when I’m having a bad one.

Another thing I want to mention is that it’s John Pinette’s birthday today. John is one of the very best comics of his generation, which is also my generation. He is a baby face kid on stage that everyone loves and I love to watch him work. He’s a natural and also a very nice person too. I’ve worked with him several times and always enjoy watching his show. I hope he had as good a birthday as I had a day today. I wonder how long this will last?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Collecting Wisdom

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

Another sports card show today but this time it was up in the Milwaukee area at my old standby Gonzaga Hall in West Allis. My friends Dennis and Richard usually have a set up of tables next to each other but today Dennis was set up in Chicago so I filled in for him.

I’ll never get rich selling cards. I know that. I did this for the practice. Just as in comedy there are a lot of different skills involved to make sales. I have to set up my table and then sit there and watch my stuff as potential customers walk by. Then as they rifle through all my hard work and try to chisel me down in price I have to maintain a calm friendly vibe.

It’s a poker game in many ways. None of the stuff is really valuable. It’s just cardboard. The whole idea is to warm someone up and sell them on buying YOUR cardboard. There are also niches. Some dealers sell only a certain kind of cardboard. It’s a lesson in how to be in business and I need that right now. I want to be fair but still find a way to survive.

Tables only cost $25 and that’s very reasonable. The show has been going since I was a kid in the ‘70s and many of the same people show up there once a month. It’s a time warp and a community all by itself. Like it or not, I’m a part of that community. And I like it. It has taken a lifetime of trial and error to acquire my knowledge of the sports card hobby.

It doesn’t matter that I taped the Late Late Show to these people. Over the years a scarce few of these people have come out to see me perform even though I always offer tickets if they want. Dennis and Richard have seen me many times and they’re great but most of all the rest of them say ‘I gotta come out and see that comedy thing one of these days.’ Right.

I don’t mind and to me it’s funny. I know most of them will never come out but they do make it a point to tell me that ‘one of these days’ they’ll be there. It’s been twenty years. I think if they were going to come they would have done it by now. Maybe they’re waiting until a certain night and then they’ll all come out on the same night and really shock me.

After my expenses at the end of the day I made $325. That sounds good but I had to buy the cards I sold and most of what I did sell was to other dealers who took a chance on it to hopefully sell it for more to other potential customers at other shows in other towns. They are all in it a lot more than I am and do it for if not a living much more of a steady hobby.

I admit I just like to fart around with it once in a while. I love sports and I love to enjoy collecting things from my childhood era and before. It’s history and to get a very nice old card in pristine condition really is a lot more rare than one might think. That’s why they’ll sell for such ridiculous prices. There just aren’t that many of them. It’s a numbers game.

All of this is a side hobby but I intend on using it to not only have some fun and make a little extra cash but also to keep learning about business and salesmanship and how to get the most bang for my buck. I see some of these other guys work and they are a lot farther advanced than I am and they make the most of their time and inventory. I want to as well.

I’m really studying sales and sales techniques so I can maximize my comedy more than I am now. The cards are what they are and I enjoy them for fun. Comedy is what I’ve put a lifetime of real effort into and I’d hate to leave money on the table that I don’t have to.

A big example of that is my after show sales. I’ve been horrible at it for the most part of my life and mediocre at best for the rest of it. I’m out of products right now and I need an entire makeover in that area. I’ll bet I’ve left literally thousands of dollars in the wallets of people who loved my show and would have bought something but I didn’t have it to sell.

I’ve had many people ask me for a CD or a t-shirt after a show and I just didn’t have it. I would see inferior comics who opened for me sell piles of inferior crap merchandise for ridiculous prices just because people wanted to have something to take home with them.

A mailing list is another thing I’ve been pretty piss poor in maintaining. I have done this for a lifetime and in all reality I should have THOUSANDS of names of people who liked my show that I could notify when I’m coming back so they can spread the word to others.

Business cards? I’m half assed with those too. I get some and then give them out when I get asked for one but have I ever set up a fish bowl after a show? How about a nice setup of merchandise to browse through so I can sit and chat with people? I have sat to chat but it wouldn’t have been that much more work to have a display set up. I’ve really blown it.

All this is good because it tells me I still have lots of work to do. My shows aren’t going to be the issue anymore. They were for years as I had to build one from scratch. Now I am at a level where I’m a solid headliner but my marketing is very poor and has to catch up.

You watch, I WILL improve my marketing dramatically in this next year. I’m not going to waste my lifetime of work and not get my payoff. It’s not ego, it’s smart business. Why should I not allow people to know I’m around? I’ve been really lax on marketing myself.

That’s why I thought it was so good to set up at the card show today. I observed how all the other dealers did it and learned a lot. Most of them weren’t very good showmen and if I can learn from those who are I can take that showmanship to my display after the shows.

I sure am learning about a lot of things and I love that. I’ll put it all to use as I develop a strategy to market myself as a comedian, comedy teacher and also the King of Uranus. I’ll focus my energy on the marketing because that’s what will put me where the money is.

Tonight was yet another solid Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha. We had a guest who was a pet psychic who claimed she could communicate with animals and she blew us all away. My co-hosts brought their cats and it was all very entertaining.

I’m really loving the vibe of this show but I still don’t know how I can turn a buck with it. Fun is fun but I’ve got too many fun things that aren’t paying any bills. It would all get even more fun if one thing would hit financially so I could keep doing all the rest of them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Back In The Loop

Saturday March 21st, 2009 - Rosemont, IL/Chicago, IL

I think by far the best reward I’ve received from my time in the radio business is the big list of lasting friends I’ve made no matter where I’ve been. I’ve had full time jobs all over the country from Lansing, MI to Fort Wayne, IN to Milwaukee to Reno to Salt Lake City to Chicago to Kenosha, WI and I’ve been a ‘friend of the show’ in several other places.

I’m proud to say I am still in contact with at least one person from every place I’ve ever had a job and usually it‘s quite a few. My first radio job was in Lansing, MI at WMMQ in 1990. I still occasionally hear from several of those people all these years later and I even became friends with the guy I replaced, Jaz McKay. He’s still on the air out in California.

93QFM in Milwaukee was a horrible place to work because it was owned by the biggest bunch of halfwits this side of a NASCAR race but the on air staff was filled with absolute gems like Mark ‘The Mangy Man’ Krueger. He and his wife Amy come to see me when I play in Milwaukee and he’s one of the funniest humans I’ve ever met. He‘s a true genius.

David Lee ‘The Lee Monster’ did middays when I was there and he’s got absolutely the most powerful voice in existence. You’ve heard him all over the place doing commercials for monster truck shows and on Monday Night Football on the Westwood One network. I have been friends with David and his wife Karen since we worked together back in 1991.

Tim ‘The Rock And Roll Animal’ was also a great guy to work with. He was a big time talent rock jock and also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Staff meetings were as funny as it gets and we needed it at the time because management were such imbeciles to work for that morale was always in need of a boost. Those guys sure provided a big one.

John Perry did overnights then and he now runs WIIL and WLIP in Kenosha. He’s also a great guy and he’s the one who asked me to do the Mothership Connection show I have been doing on Sunday nights for a year. He was one of the people I met back at 93QFM. There was a sense of family and togetherness there with the air staff and we still have it.

The problems I’ve had in radio were with management. They come in and blow us out for no real reason other than to manufacture change just to make change. Usually it’s not the answer they think it is and then a few months later they get blown out themselves but it’s too late. Everybody loses. Then all the good people have to go find a job yet again.

I am very fond of people from all the stations I’ve worked but I have to say the very best air staff by far I’ve ever worked with as a whole was at ‘The Loop’ in Chicago. There was no weak link on that staff as far as talent goes and they were all wonderfully nice people.

Cara Carriveau followed us doing middays and was really strong. She got fired too after we did and it was stupid and uncalled for. She’s got a husband with his own business and two beautiful kids and works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. She breathed and slept the radio business and to fire her made NO sense. Now she’s working at WTMX in Chicago.

Seaver did afternoons when I worked there and he was made for rock radio. He’s got an amazing set of pipes and knows the format inside and out as did Cara and they both made the station sound like a major market legendary rock powerhouse. Of course he got blown out as well but he landed on his feet and is back on the air again on WDRV ‘The Drive’.

Jimmy Novack did nights when I first got there and he’s still one of my all time favorite people in the radio business and he’s now doing a successful morning show on WXLC in Waukegan. He got fired a few months after I got there and I still don’t know exactly why.

Replacing Jimmy was my friend Byrd who is as good as a rock jock gets. He has a huge voice like David Lee from 93QFM and kicks ass anytime he cracks a mike. He’s also one of the hardest working jocks I’ve ever met and he prepares for his show like few others. I still see him from time to time and he’s still at the Loop. He should be. He‘s excellent.

The morning show I was on was called ‘The Morning Loop Guys’. Stupid name, super guys. Spike Manton is a comic friend of mine and he got me in with the program director Greg Solk. Max Bumgardner was working in Omaha and he was our third guy. We were also on with Bruce Wolf but he was a morning TV sports guy and never sat in with us.

Spike, Max and I were the main guys and despite all our growing pains we got along as well as any three guys who were thrown together and told to be entertaining at 5am every morning for four hours. That situation could have ended up ugly but we were all friends.

We still are and that’s what made today so special. I got to see both of them in a single day and it was a blast both times. Spike has a son Mickey who’s about 10 and totally into sports cards. There was a big card show in Rosemont, IL today and Mickey wanted to go.

I hadn’t seen Spike so we all decided to go together and it was a lot of fun for everyone. Mickey and Spike got to have father and son time and I saw some card friends and we did all fun things all day and hung out. Spike is still struggling from getting fired but he is not quitting and we all have to just keep slugging. Still, we’d be doing SO well right now.

I dropped Spike off and went to have dinner with Max who was in town attending a big convention for his new job. He works for a company that rebuilds damage after tornadoes and he’s doing well at it. Max has major skills in business and he loves it but deep down I know he would like to be back doing mornings in Chicago radio. All three of us would.

Max and I had a great visit and I told him I saw Spike and we remembered some funny stories only the three of us would appreciate because we lived it. Morning radio can be a very intense grind, especially in a major market. It’s not easy to keep cranking out funny day after day and there was a lot of pressure on us. Still, we never fought. That’s amazing.

Whatever nightmare memories I have of radio (and there are several) the good ones of a bunch of great friends far outweigh those bad ones. Seeing Spike and Max in one day was a real treat. I didn’t get much work done but it recharged my batteries and I need it today.

Climbing Mt. Never-Rest

Friday March 20th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Today I climbed Mt. Never-rest. That’s the huge pile of emails that keeps growing and growing and never seems to stop. I do what I can to get caught up and then other things in life slide in and take me out of the groove and before I know it it’s piled up even higher.

Today’s total was right around 800 and that’s as high as it’s gotten in a while. Many of them were from ex students asking me to critique their acts and as much as I try to offer a helping hand there are not enough hours in a day to keep up with every one of them. I was swamped and some things I had to delete or explain that I just don’t have time to do it.

I’m also up to my hard drive in goofy downloads of farting pigs and love cutesy poems that if I don’t forward to a dozen people in four minutes my wang is going to shrivel and fall off and my breath will smell like a three week old diaper filled with rotten shrimp.

Most of that I delete right away but some of it comes from people I like and I feel guilty if I just delete it without at least reading it first. Usually it’s a waste of time so I just store it and before I know it I’m having nightmarish backup like I am now. I need to stop this.

I spent the entire day today answering the emails I needed to and sorting and deleting all the ones I didn’t and twelve hours later I’m down from 800 to under 100. My head is very confused right now but at least I took the situation by the horns and wrestled it with vigor.

A lot of the emails required some thought or were from people I wanted to actually send a well crafted response and today was the day. I didn’t finish but I put a major dent in it as the day wore on so that made me feel like I accomplished something. I also cleared out all my phone messages and that took a while too. My voice mail was completely packed full.

Much of this was a backlog from last week because it was my birthday and also from all the fuss in L.A. with the TV show. Most people were very nice about it and offered up all their best and that’s always flattering to hear that. I wanted to answer every one of them.

I got some good news too. I’m booked at a club in Appleton, WI coming up in May and I’m glad to get it. I never worked there before and have been trying to get in for a while. It has a great reputation for being a killer room and I look forward to working there. I had to hurry and get some promotional material to them before next week and I mailed it today.

They require a DVD to show clips of upcoming events to their customers and a CD for radio commercials. They want their headliners to have a working website and I called my web person Shelley to help me get that started too. This will all make me a better comic.

Getting the emails out of the way felt good but I really need to find a way to avoid being so lax in the first place to let them pile up this high. I try to keep it under control but there are a lot of other things that just get in the way. Before I know it it’s piled up again and all of this starts over once more. For now, it’s manageable. I would like to keep it that way.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thank You Zanies

Thursday March 19th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Today is Rick Uchwat’s birthday. Rick is the owner of the three Zanies Comedy Clubs in the Chicago area and also one in Nashville. There have been partnership arrangements in some of those clubs which aren’t my business so I won’t even try to make a guess as to how they work. All I know is Rick has been the big cheese as long as I’ve been around.

Zanies has been my lifesaver in comedy for more than twenty years now. I have become one of their favorites and I’ve gotten steady work from them any time I need or want it. If it weren’t for them I may not have been able to make a living at this for as long as I have. Year in and year out I’ve been able to pay my bills with the money I’ve earned from there.

It all happened by chance too. Bert Haas was the manager of the Chicago club way back in the ‘80s and he called the Funny Bone in Milwaukee needing an opening act at the last minute. Jeff Schneider was the owner of the Bone and he suggested me because out of all the locals he said he felt I had the most potential. Thanks Jeff and Bert. I owe you both.

I remember being scared to death the first time I worked for Zanies. That was where I’d seen my first real comedy show when I started doing it. I was an open miker but I went all the way to Chicago from Milwaukee to see what the whole business was about and that’s where I ended up going. To be working there myself years later was a very big milestone.

I wasn’t very good at the time and I didn’t have a solid week at all. I was in and out and I never felt like I got a strong groove going. I don’t even remember who I worked with for the week but I do remember thinking how I needed to improve before coming back again.

I was almost relieved when the week was over but I was also excited to have had the gig.
As luck would have it there was an opening the following week at the Zanies out in the suburb of Mt. Prospect. Bert Haas sent me out there and the manager and I hit it off right from the start and he said ‘You can send that kid out here anytime. He’s got some balls.’

Thank goodness I had balls because I sure didn’t have very many jokes. I was pretty raw but that was the big boom for comedy and nobody cared. Zanies always booked good acts to close the shows and I was just window dressing while I paid my dues and learned what comedy was all about. Zanies offered me a chance to develop my skills and I’m grateful.

There were a lot of other clubs in Chicago at the time and at the peak there were 19 full time clubs. Wow. That’s a lot of comedy for one town but Detroit probably had as many as Chicago did back then as well. Those were the big years but then it all came to an end. There was no way all those clubs could keep providing top notch shows week after week.

Clubs started closing left and right in the ‘90s and before long Chicago would be down to a few rooms but Zanies managed to survive. I happened to stay with them and now all these years later I’m one of their main acts to the point of being like family. I’ve spent my comedy lifetime being loyal to them and they’ve been loyal to me too. I’m a Zanies lifer.

When I had my car accident in 1993 and almost died Rick Uchwat had a check for me a day later that paid my bills for several months. It was a loan and I had to pay it back but it couldn’t have come at a better time and I still appreciate it to this day. It saved my life at a time when my father or mother weren’t there for me. Neither one of them came to see me.

Rick sent a check and then called Bert Haas to book me so I could pay it back. They had me work as a regular ‘house emcee’ so I could stay local and heal up and get my comedy chops back in addition to paying back what I owed them. It was a win/win for everybody.

In my life as a dented can I haven’t had very many people in my corner. Those few who were are very precious memories for me now and I would fight for them to the death. My grandfather was one. He was the only reason that I made it through my childhood at all.

His wisdom and encouragement stay with me to this day and I know he must have been really proud wherever he might be as I finally did my first national TV spot last week. It’s a thrill to be able to do it if only for the fact it made him proud. He would have loved this.

C. Cardell Willis was another one who was a huge influence and mentor to me. He is in that rare group of people who gave of himself more than he took and I also thought of his kindness and generosity as I was doing my set in front of the camera. Cardell would be as proud as Gramps would have and those two had a lot to do with me getting there at all.

Rick Uchwat and Bert Haas and Zanies Comedy Clubs were more of my middle school years of influence. Gramps and Cardell were there at the beginning and trained me well. It was a little later that I got involved with Zanies but they have been with me for a lifetime.

I can’t see myself not working for them and even though some people call me a kiss ass and worse they weren’t there for me when I was in intensive care with tubes in every hole in my body. Where was their check? Their phone call? Zanies was there when I needed it.

I will always be grateful for those major influences in my life and I hope I can be one to a few people along the way myself. I surely try to be that way any time I can. I try to point young comics in a positive direction and I couldn’t do that if someone didn’t do it for me.

I called Rick and wished him a happy birthday and I could hear his voice light up on the phone when he realized someone remembered. If nobody else did I did and I told him that I appreciate all he’s done for me and how I wanted to be able to pay him back someday.

And I totally do. My ultimate dream is to be a big draw and come back to sell out shows in and around Chicago so I can pay Rick and Bert and all the Zanies people back for those years when they were keeping me alive. Literally. If it weren’t for them I would’ve had to quit comedy and get a day job and no way would my future look as bright as it does now.

Rick told me how he was proud of me and all I’ve accomplished and how nobody gave me a shot but I did it anyway. Hearing that made me feel like I finally earned my stripes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ready To Race

Wednesday March 18th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

A race car driver can’t win any races if he’s his own pit crew. That’s what I feel like as I look over my options as to what I should do next in my life and career. There are way too many things I’d love to delve into but I know I have a limited amount of time and energy.

Standup comedy is what has paid my bills most of my adult life. Other than working for a few radio stations doing morning shows which was a direct result of my comedic ability I haven’t had to whore myself out to the working world. I couldn‘t have lasted doing that.

I did end up whoring myself out to the comedy world on occasion but that was a choice I made to stay alive. I had no family to go to in an emergency to bail me out of any money pickles I may have gotten myself into so I relied on comedy money to keep myself afloat.

Looking back on it I never really had a career plan because I was too busy trying to stay alive. I took most any gigs I could get and I have a legendary reputation for rotten routing that I still get teased about to this day. If it’s December in Duluth or August in Austin I’m probably the comic booked that week. And, if there’s a long drive involved I’ve made it.

All of this is part of paying dues but I took it up to the very edge. I did those gigs out of necessity and didn’t really consider what I wanted as a result other than that month’s rent or car payment for the junk heap I was driving all that way to do the gig. It was an endless cycle that did keep me from having to work a day job but also kept me from the big time.

Now I’m at a point where all this has to change. I’m not thrilled about making those big drives anymore and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Not only are they tiring but it takes up a lot of time I could be using to do something else I enjoy more. I have evolved.

Today I took time to look over all I’ve got going and decide what I think is worth doing and what is a dead end waste of time. Unfortunately I found all of it to be worth doing but also all of it a dead end waste of time. It’s not the answer I hoped for and I‘m still stuck.

I have books I want to read and books I want to write. I have classes I want to teach and a few I wouldn’t mind taking. I’d love to learn to cook or play a musical instrument or try to paint or write screenplays or anything else creative and fun. That’s what life is about.

What I really need to do is carve out a workable plan for the rest of this year and work it every single day. That will keep me more than busy enough to not have to wander but I’m a wanderer by nature. I love to explore all kinds of things and see what they’re about but I have too many unfinished projects going on to keep doing that right now. I need to focus.

I can’t continue to be my own pit crew and expect to win the race of life. I need to have a solid team of people around me that all have the same goal - to WIN. I have many of the people I need already near me but now I have to create roles for them. This is all a master plan that needs to be in place before I make my next move and today I started making it.

This Little Piggy Went To Marketing

Tuesday March 17th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

St. Patrick’s Day and I think I’m the only sober life form within 100 miles of where I’m sitting. It’s yet another booze fueled holiday that allows idiots to drink too much and puke in public. While everyone else was chasing green beer I was focusing on green backs.

Marc Schultz called and wanted to take me out for a birthday lunch. I appreciate that he remembered. Lunch with Marc was productive and fun and he thinks he can sell the DVD from the Late Late Show to corporate clients. He’s in my corner and I really appreciate it.

Then I went into Chicago and visited ‘Uncle Fun’ on Belmont and Southport. That’s an amazing store with a lot of similarities to the Moon Fun Shops in Milwaukee I remember so well as a kid. There’s a lot of funny stuff in there that catches one’s eye immediately.

I looked for ideas as to what I can sell on the Uranus Factory Outlet site and also what I can package and sell at shows. I no longer have to worry about being a comedic genius - I now have to focus on becoming a marketing genius. That’s how I’ll build my retirement.

What I really like about the store is that it’s well organized and has a lot of fun things to look at for everyone. It’s kind of like a museum of the goofy. It’s a well set up display and it has a fun atmosphere. That’s exactly what I want to create with everything I‘m doing.

After a thorough tour of Uncle Fun I went to meet my professional speaker friend Todd Hunt. He is a fantastic marketer and that’s what I wanted to discuss with him. I’ve helped him with his presentation many times in the past and now it was my turn to pick his brain.

Todd bills himself as a ‘recovering anal-retentive professional’ and his actual skills as a speaker are quite good. What’s even more impressive is his slick promotion material. I’ve been around performers of all kinds all of my life and I’d have to say his materials are the best I’ve ever seen. His anal-retentiveness may be a factor but that’s ok. Todd stands out.

He has direct mail pieces and offers a free booklet to meeting professionals and he also has two self published books he sells after his presentations that really look good. I asked him about how he did all of it but the main thing I wanted to know was how he managed to memorize his material so well. He has a formula he uses and I want to implement it.

Next time I go on TV I’m going to have my material memorized a LOT better than I did this last time. Todd knows his presentation inside and out and in fact he prides himself on getting quizzed with it. He’ll ask someone for a single key word from his script at random and he’ll pick it up from that point and start doing it perfectly. It’s an impressive sight.

The whole day was very productive. Todd and Marc are both in my corner and I have to keep surrounding myself with people like that. I also need to keep focusing on marketing. I feel like I’m starting over but that’s ok. I have a good product and I believe in it so now I have to dress it in an attractive package and sell it in as many ways and places as I can.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TV Or Not TV

Monday March 16th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

No appearance on the Late Late Show tonight and the only one who doesn’t seem upset about it is me. I’m getting calls from all over the country from people who said they were looking for my name and didn’t see it. Hey, I don’t run the show. I was just a guest on it.

In my mind even if I don’t get on at all it still was worth the trip. The experiences I had of how to narrow down material into a TV set and the pressure of doing it and the feeling of accomplishment it brought afterward were all fantastic. I needed them to forge ahead.

It made me a better comic all around and I didn’t embarrass myself so now everything’s a bonus, including it airing. What I really need is the DVD so I can send it out to bookers for future work. They don’t have to have actually seen it although I do think it will run in due time. They have a big job to make everything fit and I‘m not worried about it at all.

My friend Bengt Washburn from Utah was on last year and he was pushed back several times as I recall. I can remember getting emails from him and felt bad at the time because nobody wants to be bumped but that’s how it goes. I’m not the only one to experience this and it really doesn’t bother me at all. It will run when it runs and I’ll be totally grateful.

I’m already preparing for my next appearance, whenever that may be. I won’t let myself make the same mistakes I just made and will be more than ready to go in there and really let it rip. If I know my act inside and out it will let me deliver the lines with confidence.

If Jerry Seinfeld did his set eighty times before he did his first Tonight Show I’ll bet I’ll at least be able to match that before I do another television appearance. It will also help to make my radio appearances better as well. I‘ve got a lot more crisp clean jokes to deliver.

Doing good radio is a part of the business many comedians overlook. As a headliner it’s usually required at least once during the week and what most people don’t realize is more listeners will hear a five to ten minute radio shot than will come out to the club all week.

I’ve always tried to do good radio because I’ve been on both sides of the equation. It’s a huge anchor to a radio show if a comedian doesn’t play along and many times they do not for whatever reason. Sometimes they just don’t know how. Whatever the case it isn’t fun.

Some comics are really good at it to the point it helps sell tickets. That’s the whole idea. It’s like professional wrestling, the interviews are designed to sell tickets to the live show. The ones who get that concept are few and far between. Bruce Baum is a guy who does.

I was in Salt Lake City and Bruce came in to do our show. I’ve always been a big fan of his from his TV appearances on ‘Make Me Laugh’ back in the day. He has manic energy and for whatever reason he just cracks me up. When he came in he had jokes ready and it really made everyone look good, but especially him. I was impressed with his preparation and always try to be that way myself. I will use my TV set jokes to make my radio better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Ideas Of March

Sunday March 15th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Up to Milwaukee today for a birthday brunch with my cousin Brett. His birthday was in February but he’s still a Pisces so we rolled it into one and went to Pandl’s for a big feast. I still think they have one of the best brunches on Earth and we love to go and grub up.

The sun was out and the food was fresh and we had a really good visit. Brett is the only one in my family who seems to get it and I really value his input. He’s always been in my corner through thick and thin and it was great to be able to relax and enjoy our meal. We laughed a lot and they were deep laughs because we share a lifetime of history together.

Then I came home and saw my email box packed full of birthday wishes from all over the country from all kinds of people. There were comics and former students and friends I went to school with and radio people I’ve worked with and I sure appreciated every one.

It helps to cover up the fact I haven’t heard from my mother on my birthday in probably twenty years and I don’t know if she’s living or dead. I wouldn’t know how to react if she in fact is alive and tried to contact me now. I feel absolutely no emotion toward her at all.

That’s not how life should be in my opinion but that’s how it turned out. It hurt for a lot of years but now I just kind of roll with it. She’s never been a part of my life so it’s not as if I miss any memories of her. I miss the fact that I never got to know my mother at all.

It’s too late now. Just like when my father offered to ‘hang out and split a pizza’ when I was 31. I didn’t need any more friends then and I don’t now. I needed a father and he was never there. I knew who he was but never got to know him. I never knew who my mother was at all. I saw her maybe four or five times in my life and the last time I was about 18.

These are the kinds of things that put people over the edge. It drives people to do drugs or drink and every day I’m SO thankful I never went down that road. If I did I doubt if I’d still be alive to write about it. Every day I wake up is bonus time. I don‘t want to waste it.

That’s why I need to make a better plan and squeeze as much as I can into however long I have left. It’s all about giving and sharing with others now as my own can is still dented and always will be. I will never have the dream life I pictured as a kid and maybe that’s a good thing if it makes me get off my ass and share what I have been given with others.

I’m on the clock now and deadlines are good, at least for me. I need them to get projects done or I’ll let them sit there and go unfinished forever. I sat around and thought of all the fun things I still want to do with my life and realized I probably won’t get them all done.

That’s why I have to be careful with my time. The distant future is not all that distant as I get older and my time to shine is now. That puts a whole new urgency on what I am into and hopefully it will make me get more things done. I feel like I have a lot to accomplish.
I need to go through my schedule and see what I can eliminate that is wasting my time.

Part of that is the Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha, WI on WLIP. I really do enjoy the whole experience but is it worth my time? I can’t really say. I don’t get paid a nickel and prospects of that don’t look good but I do get to have some creative control.

I love creative control but there has to be a payoff at some point. I have creative control over my comedy and it’s starting to pay off after many years of hard work. Getting on TV is a great start and should lead to other things including more TV and work in new places that will also pay. I am parlaying my efforts and I can see the value of my time preparing.

As much as I love doing the radio show and the people I do it with it’s not going to pay off anywhere near how comedy is paying off right now and I don’t know if I can afford to invest my time in making it continue. It will dilute both my comedy and the radio as well. I have a few back to back weeks of comedy gigs coming up and the show will be an issue.

Who am I going to get to fill in for me? I don’t know right now and I have too much on my plate to do a ‘nationwide search’. I only have a limited amount of time and energy and it’s just becoming a distraction rather than a project I can breathe life into and develop.

I’ve got enough projects on the burner to fit that description. Uranus Factory Outlet has all the ingredients to not only be big fun but make big money too. Maybe not immediately but it can be built. I don’t see how I can build the radio show into anything but a hobby.

If I dropped the show I’d miss it but I’d also have more time available to devote to other projects I enjoy just as much. I need to get my comedy classes going too and that’s also an outlay of time and effort. Between comedy and classes and Uranus and radio that does not leave me a lot of time for hanging out with friends or God forbid dating anyone regularly.

Time is rapidly becoming the enemy and to win the war I need to have a battle plan. I’m up against a formidable opponent that keeps attacking so I have to be on my game and get a good plan in place and work the plan every day. I also need a positive surrounding cast.

I have a fantastic group of hand picked friends and talented people I have chosen for my circle of contacts and hearing from them on my birthday was very much appreciated. That tells me there are good people in this world and those are who I always want to work with and will give my all on their behalf. I have the ingredients for success. It’s time to get it.

This is the best time in my life. I’m at my peak creatively and before I get senile and not able to zip up my own pants I need to squeeze as much product out as I can. I can feel my mortality and it really doesn’t scare me. What scares me is that I’ll die with work undone. If there is a next life I surely don’t want to come back here. I want to go to a new planet.

For now I’m here and that’s my reality. I choose to plug on and make the most of what I have been given and continue to give of myself until it hurts. I want to be remembered for my generosity and sincerity and hopefully I can make a few people laugh along the way as well. It’s taken a long time to get where I am and I want to make sure I don’t blow it now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Birthday Blessings

Saturday March 14th, 2009 - Vernon Hills, IL

Oh oh. Youth and all it’s magic is quickly slipping away. Now I’ll have to rely on guile and trickery to get myself over and that’s a scary thought. Today is my 46th birthday and it isn’t going to get any prettier. I’m now officially closer to 60 than I am to 30 and that rots.

My prostate is probably getting ready to swell up like Jiffy Pop popcorn and I can feel an uncontrollable urge to wear shorts and dark socks. I’m thinking of buying a big old giant road yacht like a Buick or a Lincoln and my pants are starting to creep up to my nipples.

Where did the time go? Away, and that’s all that matters. I would have been 46 anyway so at least I made a few good decisions before now but it’s still going to be a challenge to salvage a productive life. I see all the potential that has been wasted and it bothers me.

There’s nothing I can do about the past though and to dwell on it won’t make the future any better. There are still some choices I need to make both for the short and the long run that will determine whether or not I won my own personal game of life. It’s all up to me.

The monkey wrench in all of this is the human factor. We all blow opportunities in life. It’s how a person comes back again and again that determines the winners and losers. I’m the first one to admit I made stupid mistakes and now I need to maneuver around them.

I’m going to keep doing a lot of what I’m already doing but this coming year is one that I think I need to make some significant changes. For one, I want to move so I don’t live in a basement like a spider anymore. It was a good deal for a while and it helped both parties financially but at this age I don’t want to be a troll in someone’s basement. I want a life.

It’s also time to find a steady girlfriend that will lead into a (gasp) marriage. I’d like that experience in this life before I die even if it should happen blow up in my face. I’m fine to take the risk and I am putting that energy out in the universe. I don’t want some unshaven barrel assed she moose just because I want to be married though. I want to find a honey.

My vibe is improving a lot and hopefully that will produce different results than before. Moving to a new place and dating some nice women will make this year more interesting if nothing else. I want to accomplish other things yes, but I need to make room for dating or I’ll never hook up with anyone on a long term basis. I’m putting that vibe out there.

My comedy vibe is very good too these days, both performing and teaching. I had a pair of hot shows tonight at Zanies in Vernon Hills and I really enjoyed this whole week. I can feel myself getting stronger and stronger and the whole TV experience has made me a lot more structured and aware of myself on stage. I will use this year to improve even more.

Life has been a series of twists and turns and unexpected events and I’m sure there will be more of all that coming down the pike this year. My goal is to get past it and keep life going in a positive direction. Time to stop farting around. I’m at my personal peak now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Fun Is Rising

Friday March 13th, 2009 - Vernon Hills, IL

Right now is the best time of my life on many levels. I’m in a solid mental space for the most part and even though the dark periods still come they don’t last as long as they have in the past and they don’t wipe me out. This last one wasn’t fun but I worked through it.

Getting my TV shot is a big deal and I’ve been thinking about it constantly. I’m grateful to have gotten it at all and it was a combination of a lot of things that got it. Part of it may have been ability but it’s not the biggest. It was persistence and patience and yes, luck.

There are a lot of comedians who are able to do a five minute television set. Maybe two or three sets. There are a lot more comics who can do it than available spots so me getting one of those that were actually available was a numbers game victory. I’m very fortunate.

I’m also very grateful and don’t and will never take it for granted. Everyone needs their break though and this is at least part of mine. All I need is ONE pair of intelligent eyes to see my character and decide it’s a winner and a moneymaker and I’m on my way that day.

For far too long I was drifting in all kinds of directions and didn’t seem to be able to get it all on track but now I feel it starting to happen like I envisioned it all along. I am finally making good decisions on a consistent basis. I can see positive progress and I’m thrilled.

Life is never going to be perfect and I know that but it sure is getting a lot better. I have positive things going all over the place and even though there are a few hiccups once in a while and I still get in my funks none of that is going to shut me down totally. I’ll be ok.

Now it’s a matter of keeping it all going. As youth slides out the door and middle age is the flavor of the day I have a new set of tools to use to get my dreams to come true. I’m at a different place than I was when things were bad and I don’t have to dwell on the past.

Mr. Lucky is a character and characters are timeless. The older I get personally won’t at all affect the success of the character. Someone else can play it years down the road and it will be just as funny then. It’s taken a lifetime of mistakes to come to this point and now I can enjoy the fruits of my labor and I’m so glad I didn’t give up. The fun is just starting.

This was a really eventful year for me and I can feel more good things in the future. I’m still a dented can and always will be but I’m playing the hand I was dealt the best I can so what else is there to do but enjoy the game? It’s Friday the 13th but I’m feeling very lucky. The future is looking bright and I’ve paid my dues so I don’t feel guilty about enjoying it.

Two excellent shows at Zanies in Vernon Hills tonight. The first audience was amazing and I was at my best the whole show. Afterward people were lining up to shake my hand and tell me what bits they liked the best and I had more autograph requests then usual too. The whole vibe was tremendous and even the late show was very good which is a surprise for a late show Friday the 13th. Life is in a good groove right now and I’m loving all of it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

NOW The Real Work Starts

Thursday March 12th, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA/Vernon Hills, IL

What an amazingly life transforming trip this was but now the real work needs to begin. This was a long time coming and it feels great to have my first national television shot out of the way but by no means is this the end. Now I have to parlay it into a comedy career.

In reality I dodged a major bullet by being able to recover from my flubbed line dead on smack dab in the middle of my set. Everyone flubs lines but to do it right in the middle of my national television debut is a perfect fit for Mr. Lucky’s character. Unfortunately it’s a nightmare for me as a comic but when it happened I knew I had to make a quick decision.

I could’ve gotten angry or frozen up or just stomped off stage never be heard from again or countless other dumb stunts. I had enough presence of mind to pause for a second for it to be edited out and then I continued and tried to get back in a rhythm again and finish up.

I doubt if I’ll ever watch the set because I don’t enjoy watching myself in the first place but also I’d be way too critical of it. I could and would split it apart and rip myself but for what good reason? The audience did laugh and applaud and the show staff seemed happy.

I couldn’t change it now even if I wanted to so why try? I’ll let it be and hopefully many years from now people will look at it and say ‘Wow, did you see Dobie’s first TV spot? It was sort of like him but not all the way. He’s SO much funnier now.’ That’s what I want.

Go back and look at the first Tonight Show comedy sets from Seinfeld and Leno and all the rest and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the finished product is there but not all. It’s a constant work in progress and I see that the longer I do this. It’s an evolutionary process.

I’m evolving in a good way and this whole experience didn’t hurt a bit. It’s my point of beginning and whether or not it came later in life or not - it came. Period. I know a bunch others who are older than me and probably funnier too but they’d never take this chance.

Part of that is luck of the draw but part of it is personal choice too. I knew deep down it was necessary for me to make this step if I was indeed going to ever become a real comic in the eyes of the industry. This one shot might open a couple of doors and then it’s a new push to open a few more. This was a very important step because it gives me legitimacy.

I’m not walking around with an old dead credit like a lot of other guys are. That’s not a rip on anyone else but nobody cares if someone was an extra on ‘Gunsmoke’ in 1967 or a stuttering cab driver in a Jerry Lewis movie. What has a person done in comedy lately?

That’s why this is such a huge deal to me. Craig Ferguson has a hot hip show and is an up and comer and I doubt if he’ll be going anywhere but up in the next several years. He’s on his way up and hopefully so am I. I’d love for us to develop a professional exchange. It would be great to sit on the couch and riff with him like Rodney Dangerfield used to do it with Johnny Carson. They had a great rapport and I’d love to develop my own with Craig.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. I’m not assuming it’s going to be a partnership thing or anything delusional like that. I’m Mr. Lucky, not Ruppert Pupkin from ‘The King of Comedy’. All I’m saying is I feel I can come back in the future and do my part better.

The harsh reality is that I wasn’t completely ready for this appearance with the material I was planning on using. It wasn’t polished and spit shined to the point of total clarity and that will never EVER happen again. I learned some very valuable lessons from all of this.

The fact that I made it through it all is a miracle. Now I just cross my fingers it will air.
It should but who knows what could happen? If it does air I’ll hear about it beforehand and afterward I’ll get calls from people I haven’t heard from in years and I’ll feel good for a few hours and then it’s time to get busy and get going on making the next TV set better.

The first thing I need to do is send flowers to Celia Joseph the talent coordinator. She’s my main contact with the show and has been instrumental in getting me on and I am very grateful for her ease of demeanor and professionalism. I can’t forget about that and I want to let her know that she not only was great to work with she helped make my dream real.

The second thing I need to do is get a finished copy of the DVD and send it everywhere in the free world that could possibly book me for a show in the future. I need to reconnect with those I know and connect with those I don’t. This is a solid first impression to send.

Thirdly I need to find management in the near future. That’s going to also put me into a more credible light with those who can and do pay the highest wages. I am understanding a lot more how all this works and how the perception can sway a buyer into hiring an act.

Fourthly I need to crank out a few products as soon as possible. I have at least one CD if not two or maybe even three recorded raw but now I have to pay to get them edited and in print and that also will help spread the word. This is also part of the process of business.

Fifth, I need to keep exercising and watch my health a lot more than I have been. I’m at a crossroads now where I’m not old but I’m not a young buck either so better to start now than wait and have a stroke or heart attack and wish I would have started this years ago.

Those five things will keep me quite busy for the rest of the year. I also need to keep on working and polishing the set I was planning to do on Tuesday until it shines like Kojak’s forehead. Jerry Seinfeld did his set 80 times allegedly. I did mine about six. Not enough. I want to put a time in my act each night to polish and experiment with television set jokes.

Tonight I did exactly that in Vernon Hills at Zanies. I was in a great mood and I sure do have a new enthusiasm for the stage knowing I have a reason to be up there. I did as much of the lost TV set as I could but I spread it out and didn’t try to jam it all on them at once.

THAT’S the way to do it and tonight all the pressure was off so it was fun to go up for a whole set and riff and have fun like I usually do. I did, but I also had a game plan in play.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hollywood Swingin'

Wednesday March 11th, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA

I’m still floating on air from the show last night. There are so many things to sort out I don’t know where to start. The main thing is that I didn’t embarrass myself and it now is a reality nobody can take away from me. Even if it never airs I’m still the better for it all. I think it will air and I’m all for it but the real benefits from this came from the process.

This whole experience changed me forever and in a very positive way. For one thing I’ll use it to make my comedy much more structured. I will change everything around and get ready for the next television experience and it won’t be nearly as hectic as all of this was.

I’ll be way more prepared and I’ll continue to polish the material I developed for the set yesterday and didn’t get to use. It’s not wasted. I’ll polish it and be ready to rock the next time so I won’t be as overwhelmed. Getting this over with was good but I want to be back again and again and again. I’ve got a start but it’s by no means done. I’ve got work to do.

Another benefit this will have is in my teaching. I can honestly say I’ve been there, done that and that goes a long way in credibility. I have the experience and it was very difficult to attain it. I know what I’m talking about and I can help others prepare for their own sets.

Still another benefit from all this is the overwhelming positive vibes I have been getting from so many fantastic people. I’m sure there are those who are jealous or think I’m a big ass knocker but I don’t really care about those people. I care about the comics who called to ask how it went and there were so many of those calls that my phone ran out of juice.

Two friends I forgot to mention yesterday were Jack Freedman and Mike Alosa. Both of those guys stood in line for three hours to see the taping and waited afterward to come up and say hello and tell me how funny I was. THAT is the kind of thing that makes all this a humbling experience and I won’t soon forget it. They came to see me and I’m so grateful.

I’m grateful for all of this but I know it’s just the beginning. I’ve got so much to do now it’s spinning my head. I don’t want to get overwhelmed so I won’t go into it but this is not the finish line. It’s the starting gun. NOW I can start to see how far I can take my career.

There are things to do on every level and it will keep me busier than I already am. I will get back to work when I get back to Chicago but today I will hang out in L.A. and visit as many people as I can. I know I won’t get to them all but I’ll try to squeeze in quite a few.

I’ll be checking out of the hotel and visiting all day and I’ll go right to the airport for an early flight out tomorrow. Then the ‘vacation’ is over. I have a week of shows at Vernon Hills Zanies and a TV appearance on NBC5 for Friday the 13th. And my car needs work.

I love it here in Los Angeles and would love to move back here or at least have a reason to visit more often. Coming back here really lit my flame again especially after such a hot experience yesterday. I’m in a great space and I feel ready to start out on a new adventure.


Tuesday March 10th, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA

WHOOOEEEE!!! And I mean that with a capital WHOOO and an even bigger EEEE! I can barely feel my toes or anything else as I hover over the bed at my hotel room directly across the street from the CBS Studios on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. Today was my big day and it was totally worth all the effort I put in to get here. This was a day to savor.

First, the staff of the Late Late Show down to a person could NOT have treated me any nicer from the second I walked in to the second I left. They were beyond professional and now I see why the expression ‘the bigger they are, the nicer they are’ exists. These people went above and beyond to make me feel welcome and I felt at home right from the start.

Second, Craig Ferguson is FUNNY. Period. That guy is quick witted and hilarious and I am pleased to have made my debut on his show. Nothing at all against Letterman or Leno or Conan or Kimmel but I feel like my vibe fits in particularly well with what Craig does.

Third, the audience was primed and totally ready to laugh and a huge part of that was a guy named Chunky who does the audience warm up. He’s a friend of my friend Nancy Jo Perdue from Texas who also was in the audience today. Chunky kept the crowd pumped.

What an amazing experience all around. It was and still is surreal and seems like I had a stunt double play me for a few minutes and I was out of my body watching it from afar in a folding chair trying to soak it all in. It started and ended before I could comprehend it.

I read a quote from Jay Leno saying he compared his first Tonight Show to his first time having sex. It was a lot of fun when it happened, it was over way too quickly and when he was done the first thing he wanted to do was go right back and do it again. I totally agree.

After his two scheduled guests Craig had to tape some promos for something and he did a very funny job on those too. I’m telling you, the guy is naturally funny and audiences do love him and I see why. I was extremely impressed at how he pulled off his whole show.

It was my job to have to follow an entire show and Craig’s ad libbed funny promos and still appear to be relaxed and myself. NOT easy. I was strapped in with a clip on mike and I heard the director count back from ten and Chunky the warm up guy said my name and I walked from backstage smiling ear to ear and stepped on my mark on stage. I felt alive.

I looked into the camera mainly but also could see the audience right behind them and it felt like I was in a club. I opened with my first couple of lines and then it all went dark for a second and I felt totally lost. I switched gears in an instant and fired off a couple of lines out of order that got very nice laughs but then I ended up tripping on a line in the middle.

That could have totally been the death of it all but I just stopped for a second and took a breath and let it pause so they could hopefully cut it out. I started back again and kept on a nice pace until I saw the director holding up a 30 second sign way sooner than I thought.

I then went into my closer which got a solid laugh and applause and I said good night. It all happened so fast I didn’t really have time to enjoy it while it happened and I didn’t get to use probably half of the material I had worked on but I totally didn’t mind. That’s ok.

The main thing is I didn’t embarrass myself and that’s what my goal was. I pulled it off. I know I’m not the first person to flub a line and won’t be the last but what better persona for that to happen to than Mr. Lucky? It almost seemed like it was part of the master plan. The audience was primed to laugh and they were really hot. This was a lifetime memory.

Right before I went on Craig came over and shook my hand and told me to break a leg. The whole staff came by as I walked from the makeup room to the stage area and I felt as if I were a turkey being lead to the chopping block but in a good way. They were all very supportive but the main thing I heard most people say was ‘Have fun.’ Boy, did I ever.

That’s what I thought about as I walked out there. FUN. It’s fun to be a comedian and it couldn’t be more fun than to do it on national television in such a great environment as is provided by everyone on the show. I spent a lifetime getting ready to be here for one day.

I also thought of all my friends who were rooting me on and sending good wishes and it almost caused me to start crying as I walked out there. I thought of how proud the people that have passed on would have been today. My grandfather would have been beaming as would my cousin Jef Parker and C. Cardell Willis and Jimmy Miller and so many others.

To me this was as much for them as it was for me but it was for me too. I’ve never been anything other than a dented can and this means so much to have achieved this wonderful accomplishment considering where I’ve come from and I don’t want to forget this feeling.
It probably doesn’t mean anywhere near as much to anyone else but that’s ok. There is a new group of guests for tomorrow’s show and the world will keep spinning and life won’t change all that much for most people but for me my life and comedy career began today.

Today’s four and a half minutes was the start of a life on a new level and I want to treat it as such. It doesn’t mean I’m better than anyone and it doesn’t mean I won’t have to still do crappy gigs occasionally but what it does mean is that I have made it to an elite level. I came from a total beginner to being chosen to perform on a network television showcase.

The main feeling I have right now is relief but right after that it’s gratitude. I am so very thankful for not only this opportunity but the fantastic amount of backing and support I’ve felt from so many outstanding people. Joining me backstage were Russ Martin who came all the way out from Milwaukee to experience this. He said he wouldn’t want to miss it.

Kristi McHugh was there too as was Grace Fraga. They’re both sweethearts and loved it as well. Good people hanging with good people produces a vibe that is electric and that is how it felt all day. Everywhere I turned there were fun people who appreciated the whole magnitude of the scene and how much pure fun all of this actually was. What a memory!

Another important part of all this was that it was my friend Tom Green’s birthday. He too would have been extremely proud of everything this event meant and I was thrilled to have it happen on this day. Tom passed away from cancer two years ago now and it still is a mystery to me why a great entertainer and even greater person had to be taken like that.

Life is not fair and never will be. This is a world filled with injustice and sorrow and all kinds of horrible things and that’s even more of a reason to be grateful for the wonderful feeling I have now and to be surrounded by such positive people who make me feel like it wasn’t a waste of a life after all and in fact all of my dues paying over the years had merit.

This isn’t a day to dwell on anything other than the positive. I’m not looking to gloat or ‘stick it to so and so’ or anything like that. I’m not going to waste my time with that kind of thinking and I don’t need to. My time is limited as is all of ours and I want to focus on a way to get back to a situation like this and do it again. THIS is where I want to be again.

What would do that? Continuing to work on my act and keep improving. One thing this entire experience has done is completely rejuvenate my comedy skills. I have leapfrogged ahead many steps in just a few weeks of work and I won’t ever go back to the other way.

I will continue to polish and perfect the set I was working on for today and in just a few months I can guarantee you I will have it SCORCHING hot. I added a lot of new lines but those lines fit my character perfectly and they will help me to really take this to the level I know I can take it. This is only the beginning and if nobody else knows it I certainly do.

I’m starting to find my stride now more than ever before. This was a major step up and I am in no way thinking this is the end of the process. Far from it. Now I know what I have to do and I can go back and do it properly and avoid the mistakes I just made doing this.

I know it sounds like a football coach going off on his players after a victory but I made several mistakes throughout this process that I will not make again next time. I won’t get into them but I know in my heart where I goofed and that will help me improve and that’s fine with me. I’m not a perfectionist at all. I’m an ‘improvement-ist’. I want to get better.

I already have but in the next six months if I am fortunate enough to remain alive and in good health you will see a MAJOR improvement in all facets of my comedy performance. This has taken me to my highest level ever and has brought me to a level of the big boys.

I know in my heart I didn’t nail it tonight like I have the ability to REALLY nail it. This was a hot crowd on a hot TV show and I’m grateful for every one of those who were there but that wasn’t the whole me and I totally know it. I want to get that chance to blow them out of their underwear and leave them sitting there naked and worn out from laughing.

I’ve got a ways to go to get there but tonight was the greatest step of all - the first one. It was a major milestone in my life and my career, as in now I am starting to HAVE a career and not just a job hauling jokes to tiny towns in beater cars. This was a big step forward.