Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mancow's Karma Train

Saturday May 30th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Slight change of plans today. I came back from the UFO Conference in Galena, IL to be live in studio with Jerry’s Kidders this morning on WGN. I could have done a phoner but it’s much better when we’re all in the studio and can see each other. The energy is better.

We really are like a band playing. Everyone has a role and that’s what’s so fun about it. We’re learning those roles well and we bounce back and forth and there is a synergy with all of us when it works correctly. Today we had a nice flow going and everyone nailed it.

It’s fun to see the people laugh outside the studio on Michigan Avenue. We’re in a glass fishbowl and lots of people are walking around at that time. They look in at us like apes at the zoo and when we wave at them they love it. We do too because we’re used to crowds.

We added a new angle to the mix today by putting musical sound cues at the end of our news stories. Personally I hated it but I didn’t hate the fact that we’re trying something. If we didn’t we’d never get better so I played along and didn’t say I didn’t like it until later.

This whole thing is a work in progress and we all know it. Putting music cues at the end of our jokes sounded good on paper and we may be able to do it occasionally in the future but not after every story like we did today. It was too much and we all knew it but nobody listening had any clue so that’s the good thing. Nobody knows we were experimenting.

That’s another part of why this is such an attractive project. Nobody was angry but after the show we had an in depth meeting of how we can make the show better. We all agree a more slickly produced show would probably sound better but we also never want to let go of our back and forth banter off the cuff. There’s a fine line and we want to tiptoe on it.

We’re still only a few weeks into this on WGN so we’re still growing anyway but that’s not an excuse for not wanting to improve this whole project from top to bottom. All of us believe in it and we genuinely enjoy hanging out not only in studio but at lunch afterward.

I heard some unsettling news that Bill Leff lost his job over at WLS. Bill is one of a few guys I know who have done both comedy and radio and done it well. I respect Bill both as a comic and a radio personality and I hate to see him lose his gig. I know he has a family.

Things like this make no sense to me. If the station is losing money in piles how does it help to fire Bill Leff? It doesn’t. Bill is a pro and deserves to be on the air somewhere. He was on the Roe Conn show. I don’t know Roe but I haven’t heard he’s a tyrant. I’d bet it’s not a clash of personalities between them but just a budget cut that really isn’t necessary.

There are a lot of nervous people in the radio business and Jerry is one of them. He’s on the air on weekends but not nearly at the salary he was making at WLS. He’s also got kids to feed and he can’t feed them on the fun we have with the Kidders on Saturday morning. Radio should be fun and it totally can be but when the ax drops the laughs fade far away.

I’ve been where Bill Leff is and I feel bad for him. It SUCKS ASS big time and not just any old one. I’m talking a big old ripe, raw, unwashed, nasty, hairy, dragged through a big pile of mud, sweaty, disease riddled pig’s ass. With a boil on one cheek and a wart on the other. And diarrhea. In a closed room. With no windows. In August. At high noon. Get it?

The guy isn’t a particularly close friend but he is a peer and we’ve known each other for probably 20 years or more. He’s paid his dues and worked very hard and I respect anyone who does that, friend or not. Entertainment is difficult but Bill has found a way to make a living for many years and if anyone knows how difficult that is I surely do. Kudos to him.

That being said, why is he off the air but a weasely low life like Mancow Miller still on the air? When I was at the Loop Manclown was VERY mean spirited to us after we were fired the week before Christmas. My partners had wives and kids to feed just as Bill does but that goof went on his low rated ‘show’ and bashed us with venom. We won’t forget it.

At one time he replaced Bill Leff and his partner Wendy Snyder who I think the world of. It was ‘Wendy and Bill’ and they were very good. Wendy is also my age and is very talented and funny and also has a family and was making an honest living doing her job.

Snakes like Mancow are everywhere in radio but he’s the longest slithering serpent of the bunch. He allegedly bought his way onto WLS in Jerry Agar’s spot and now is trying to deny that happened. I have word from more than one source that it’s true and that’s an absolutely horrible thing to do not only on his part but the station’s for letting it happen.

Wendy and Bill were doing fine as was Jerry but somehow demons like Mancow get a halfwit station manager to bite on his hype bait and the results are never pretty. Mancow’s only real talent is his ability to fool ONE idiot at a time who makes decisions in radio. He has never had talent and in fact has vampire-ized many others who do have it. It’s evil.

I think he’s a plain old bully and I never have suffered bullies well. I’ve been around for a long time and have seen a lot of bastards including my father and in my opinion he’s up there with the scummiest of the scum. Or is it down there? There’s no love lost with me.

Now I hear he’s just pulled off a lame radio stunt where he faked a waterboarding so he could drum up some publicity for his ‘show’. The guy is a chameleon and jumps on what is hot but he’s never had an identity. When Howard Stern was hot he tried to play a shock jock but couldn’t pull it off. Now he’s trying to be a talk show host and he’s over his skis.

It’s not often I get so pissed off at someone but he’s always the villain off the air in this kind of situation. I was around pro wrestling and the bad guys in the ring were always the nicest guys out of it in real life. Mancow apparently doesn’t know when the show’s over.

Jerry is out of a job because of a clown like that and so are Bill and Wendy. I’m still not over the nasty things he said about us when we got it. How classless can you get by taking pot shots at the jobless? At Christmas? The karma train has a circular track. Choo-choo!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Inner Outer Space Circles

Friday May 29th, 2009 - Galena, IL

One of the things I’m most proud of in my life is the number of interesting communities I’ve had a chance to become part of. I’m a part of the standup comedy community and the radio community and the pro wrestling community and the sports card dealer community, at least in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. Now I’m adding yet another one to that list.

I’m really enjoying the people I’m meeting at the Out Of This World UFO Conference and I can totally see myself becoming a part of this community too. I’m very interested in the topic and always have been and everyone here has been very friendly. I feel totally at home with these people and that doesn’t happen very often for me. I like the vibe a lot.

It starts right from the top as it usually does in every good organization. When I first did a comedy convention in Los Angeles back in the ‘90s I knew the Perret family were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and we’re still friends today. Gene Perret is the head of the family and the convention but the whole bunch are classy people and I saw it quickly.

I’m finding the same thing here in Galena. Sam and Julie Maranto are also some of the sweetest and most sincere people I’ve come across in a long time and so are all the others I’ve met so far. They’ve associated with only top quality professionals and it’s a fun event all around. I’ve learned a lot and can see myself hanging in these circles more and more.

People who are interested in these kinds of topics get unfairly branded as kook bags and I think that really stinks. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a one man wack pack myself but it’s got nothing to do with the fact that I’m interested in learning more about the UFO scene.

I’ve never seen a flying saucer and don’t claim to be an abductee myself but I can safely say it sure is fun to eat dinner and have someone tell me they have. They had my attention from their first words and I enjoyed hearing some amazing stories. Whether or not they’re true isn’t something I can say for sure but nobody was mean and I really got a lot out of it.

I talked with some of the presenters and there is professional jealousy just like we have in comedy and I laughed when I heard about it. People are people and it’s bound to have a place in every field of endeavor. None of the weenies are here this week though and all of the people I talked to had nothing but great things to say about the Marantos. I sure agree.

They’ve got me helping out a little but basically it’s just a chance to schmooze and meet new people to be guests on the Mothership Connection. I’ve found a few already and I am glad I made it a point to come out here this week. Everything about the place is first class. If I had to take a week off of working comedy clubs this was the perfect way to handle it.

The food is wonderful and the accommodations are totally top shelf and the weather has been absolutely perfect. We all had fun today but I came back home to go do WGN in the morning with Jerry’s Kidders. Doing it on the phone makes it harder for everyone and I’d rather just drive in and do it right - but I’ll head right back to Galena for more UFO fun.

Kidders And Saucers

Thursday May 28th, 2009 - Chicago, IL/Galena, IL

Lots of running around today. First it was down to WGN in Chicago for a meeting with Jerry’s Kidders to discuss our goals. I don’t mind meeting and I don’t mind discussing but parking is insane. $23 every time we meet is a little steep but for now that’s what it costs.

We’ve got a good solid project here with a lot of potential or at least we think so. We’re a diverse team on the air and we get along off of it so that’s a good start. We’re on one of the most known broadcast entities in North America every week and that helps us as well.

What will really put this over is marketing and that’s what we met about today. Kipper McGee joined us and had a lot to add. He was our program director at WLS and he’s flat out brilliant. He not only likes us he sees the future extremely well. He’s a valuable ally.

He’s the one who suggested we get together and talk about where we’re going with this project. He wants us to be on myspace and facebook and have a ‘Kidder Twitter’ to share with our fans every day. We also talked about a website and things we need or don’t need.

Jerry will make the final decision on all of this and that’s great because the three comics don’t seem to see eye to eye on where we’re going. Ken and Tim and I are not always in a unanimous agreement on what we should do and that can rip a group apart. It did with the Chicago Style Standups because there was no real leader there. It was a lot of bickering.

We’ll keep that to a minimum because Jerry will make a final call and that will be it. As long as we’ve been a group that’s been our rule and it’s worked out very well. We’re all a team and since this is Jerry’s thing we agreed to have his word be the governing decider.

One thing we all agree on is we need to keep doing solid shows and try to improve each time we go on the air. We want to include more production value and make it a package a syndication company would find attractive but that’s down the road a bit. For now we are all on the same page and I hope we stay that way. We all really enjoy being a part of this.

After the meeting I headed out west to Galena for the big UFO Conference at the Eagle Ridge Resort. I always thought Galena was the prettiest part of Illinois but that really isn’t saying much. If Illinois didn’t have Chicago it would be worse than Indiana and Iowa put together. Galena is much like western Wisconsin in that it‘s hilly and pleasing to the eye.

The Eagle Ridge Resort is beautiful. Sam Maranto and his wife Julie are super nice and I’m in a fantastic four bedroom lodge with them and Richard Dolan who is a speaker this weekend. He was also on the Mothership Connection last week and was absolutely great.

He’s about my age and has been in this business for 15 years. Apparently there are a lot of these kinds of conferences and it’s a circuit just like comedy clubs are. He said he does about one a month and also some local stuff in Rochester, NY where he’s from. I learned a lot by listening and he’s a fascinating speaker. This is all new to me and I’m enjoying it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Cosmic Comedian?

Wednesday May 27th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

My head is spinning from all the thinking I’ve been doing lately. I’m trying to carve out a path through the mountain of projects that is piling up in my life and it isn’t easy. When I work on one thing I leave all the others sit idle. I spent today trying to organize myself.

The way to do it in my opinion is to make a list of the things I want to continue working on and then figure out the steps of action to take all the way down to the tiniest detail. I’m at my best when I’m busy but there does come a point of overwhelm. I’m getting close.

Comedy is an example of something on that list. There are a lot of steps involved in the process other than being funny. I’m funny enough to get bookings and that’s dangerous as it doesn’t force me to move ahead. I don’t really have to work on my act other than going on stage somewhere halfway decent and I get enough stage time to not have to hunt for it.

That breeds complacency quite honestly. A lot of comedians fall into that trap and I can totally see why. There are so many things going on offstage and eventually life gets in the way that working on the act gets to be the last priority. I don’t want that to be my excuse.

Yes things are hectic in life but I don’t think there should ever be a growth stoppage on stage for a performer. Not for a good one anyway. I’ve got all kinds of ideas and concepts to polish and I need to get a system down where I can bring some of them out regularly to get started on them. I’ve been doing very strong shows lately but not working on growing.

I also have been lax at booking myself like I should. Like I said I get enough calls to get booked enough to stay alive but I’m really not pushing toward that brass ring of great gigs that I know I can do. I want to work soft seat theatres and Las Vegas and tour constantly.

Before I do that I need to set up an infrastructure of other things first like an online class and a mail order business that can be handled by a fulfillment house when I’m away. This is all stuff that needs to be sorted out and built from the ground up and takes time and lots of thought to execute it properly. It’s like a big puzzle and some pieces have to go first.

Besides all that I’m also interested in continuing the Mothership Connection radio show and all that goes with it. I love the flavor of it and I know I’m able to pull it off. I’d like to fill in on Coast To Coast AM at some point and be known in those circles as a comedian.

This week I’m attending a UFO Conference in Galena, IL put on by Sam Maranto. I met Sam as a guest on the radio show and he asked if I wanted to be a part of the ‘Out Of This World UFO Conference’. With a name like that I had to say yes. I can‘t wait to get there.

There will be some of the top names in that field there including my friend Don Schmitt and also Stanton Friedman who is the dean of that subject. I watched a video of his to get ready and it totally blew me away. I love stuff like this and it could be a whole new group of fans to market myself to. The title of ‘paranormal comedian’ is wide open. I’d love it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Planning My Execution

Tuesday May 26th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

What the hell do I do now? I have all kinds of half baked projects lying around undone in various stages of completion and I don’t really have a solid game plan as to how to get myself to change that scenario. Not good. Staying like this will lead to more of the same.

I absolutely have to make a change of how I go about doing things. I thought about that today as I took yet another lap in the Gurnee Mills Mall. Walking is a great way to scrub out the garbage can of my brain and I’m learning to really like it. I use it as private time.

It feels like I accomplished something both physically and mentally at the end of a walk and it builds momentum for whatever else I do that day. I’m finding I can’t always fit in a morning scamper before I start my day but that seems to be the ideal time, at least for me.

The main thing is that I’m at least thinking about it and sometimes actually doing it. I’m still not where I want to be but at least I’m not avoiding it altogether. That would be a big mistake and I’ve made enough of those in my life. How’s about being smart for a while?

As I was walking I realized that I’ve bitten off quite a mouthful with all the projects I’m working on but I do enjoy all of them so that’s the situation I need to make work. I have a limited amount of time but it’s the same amount everyone else gets so I need to use mine as efficiently as humanly possible while still allowing myself to breathe and have a life.

I also realized I don’t really have a solid battle plan written out that I can look at when I get sidetracked, which happens almost daily if not several times a day. I do get work done on a lot of things and I love doing it but having not only no written plans but also no solid deadlines is asking for failure and I don’t want that. I need to totally regroup immediately.

My brain felt like a blender on ‘puree’ as I got idea after idea walking through the mall. I never have a problem getting ideas - it’s the EXECUTION of them that’s been the issue. Ideas are not the key to success as much as many people believe it. It’s pulling them off.

How can I pull off an idea if I don’t have a goal written down or a deadline in place? I’ll keep farting around with this stuff forever if I don’t change that and today I realized that’s exactly what I need to do. I want to have a physical book of things to do that I can look at every day and burn that plan into the inner fiber of my being so I can make it come alive.

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately but I’ve also been drifting. I know in my heart I have a lot more to give and can do way better than I have been and I won’t be satisfied until an exact plan is in place that I can use to make the most of every day I have left in this life.

Another thing I realize is that I can’t do it alone. I need to build several teams that I can be a part of so progress can be made when I’m doing something else. Jerry’s Kidders is a great team and so are the people on the Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha. If I keep surrounding myself with those kind of people I’ll do great. But I need a battle plan.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Memorable Memorial

Monday May 25th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

I’ve said it before and I meant it - one thing I will never joke around about is how I have the utmost respect and gratitude for my freedoms as an American. I know there was a cost paid by countless soldiers who gave their lives in battle. There’s nothing funny about that.

It’s very easy to lose that fact and I almost did today as I was in traffic and some old fart was taking up every lane on the road with his Buick road yacht and pissing everyone off. I was in a hurry and so was everyone else but this dude wasn’t about to let any of us pass.

Finally when I was able to make my way around him I noticed he had Disabled Veteran plates on his car and I backed off from blasting on the horn. He had glasses about as thick as the bullet proof steel in the tank he was driving and his remaining days on earth looked to be in the low single digits. The last thing I need is a war with Wilford Brimley‘s father.

I wondered whether this guy was a war hero and protected several generations with the things he did on the battlefield in WWII or was he some slug who tripped and fell drunk as he was stealing wallets from dead Germans? Either way he was at the end of his line.

I didn’t think it was my duty to blast the horn and flip off someone who may have had a rough life because he had to go fight in a war when he was 18. I support the troops always but I will never support any war. I think it’s stupid and ugly and nobody is ever a winner.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people I’m not fond of and if a few of them took a bullet or sixty I wouldn’t shed many tears. What I’m saying is I don’t want to be the one to do the shooting. I think the best way to ‘win’ any war is to stay away from an enemy.

That may not work in all scenarios but on paper it surely does. If everyone stays in their own country and handles their own situations there would never be any wars. If the Arabs and the Jews would both agree to leave the Middle East forever the bullets would all stop flying and maybe we could focus on living productive lives instead of killing each other.

‘Holy land?’ My ass. Shouldn’t ALL land be holy? If God made the whole planet there shouldn’t be any place holier than the next but that’s my own opinion and evidently it’s a view that isn’t shared by many others - at least not those in charge of the war department.

Think of all the people who would have been able to live good lives who got shot down before they had the chance. I know I sound like a hippie idealist but I mean it. It makes an unbelievable amount of sense to me and if it were so we wouldn’t need a Memorial Day.

All those people wouldn’t have been snuffed out. Maybe that old coot who made traffic a living hell today would have not had to go to war and in turn not been so stressed so as he wouldn’t have had to buy such a big Buick that blocked so many people on a nice day. But I digress. What the hell do I know anyway? I know this is Memorial Day and war is a reality and people did give up their lives so I could write these words freely. Thank you.

The reason I was in traffic was because I was going to the Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park against the St. Louis Cardinals. I haven’t been to a game in a while and it was a nice day so I decided to call the woman I like in Milwaukee and see if she wanted to go.

I know she likes baseball and was off from work and she has a six year old son and two teenage daughters who also love the Brewers. She’s been stressed out at work lately and it isn’t easy for her to take the kids to a game so I wanted to spread a little kindness around.

The tickets were pretty expensive but they were excellent seats and I put it on my credit card so the pain won’t kick in for at least a month. Only one of her daughters could go but she was thrilled to be asked and her son brought his glove and was in his own little world. We sat in the sun and enjoyed the game and it almost felt like the family I always wanted.

A lady next to me opened her purse and took out a Tootsie Pop sucker and gave it to me and said “Give this to your son.” She assumed it was my family and I have to say it really felt good to hear her say that. I thanked her and just tried to enjoy the whole experience.

I totally did. Yes it will cost me some money I don’t really have right now but the vibe was very positive the whole day. I bought a program and had us all sign it and they liked that idea a lot. I told them to save it and have something to look at many years from now.

It wasn’t easy sitting at a ball game with a teenage girl and a six year old boy as they did what teenage girls and six year old boys do. The girl was taking pictures constantly of the players she thought were cute and was extremely upset that J.J. Hardy didn’t play as he is her love crush of all time for this week. She’s a sweet kid though and she really loved it.

The six year old boy was bouncing off the walls as all of them do and couldn’t sit still a single inning. He ate snacks the whole day and one of them was cotton candy which shot his sugar level to the moon but again that’s part of being a little boy. I know he had fun.

It tested my patience a little but it also was a lot of fun to just sit and hang out and be in a position I don’t get to be in all that often. I’m not the kids’ dad and I’m not the woman’s husband but I got to play the role for a day and I really enjoyed it. It’s something I’ve had a big desire to do my whole life and I know it’s not all fun and games but for a day it was.

After the game we went to her house and I played catch with the kid for a while as pizza was baking in the oven. The kid couldn’t throw it anywhere near me so it wasn’t really an actual game of catch for about ten minutes but eventually we straightened it out and got a little rhythm going. I showed him how to throw and catch and he caught on very quickly.

The whole scene felt REALLY good. The first time I told him he made a good catch his eyes lit up and I realized we’d already played longer than I ever had a chance to play with my own father who never threw even one ball with me. Ever. I can’t change that now but I can at least say for a day I got to act like a dad and I liked it. We’ll see if it goes farther. The woman and I are just taking it easy and seeing where it goes. So far it’s going well.

Personal Evolution

Sunday May 24th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

I’m still on a high from this week in Appleton. Everything went like it was supposed to or at least how I thought it was supposed to and I couldn’t be any more pleased. I feel like it was a graduation of sorts because it‘s taken years to prepare myself onstage and off and this was the week where it all came together. Symbolically and literally I really nailed it.

It’s kind of like another chapter in my life is closing and I need to move on. I set out to be a road comic way back when and my vision was to be a strong headliner that would be able to blow audiences away in every situation. I’ve come about as close to achieving that as is humanly possible although it came with a great price. Now I need a new goal in life.

Oh, I’ll still do comedy shows. That will never change. As long as I’m alive I can’t see myself not wanting to perform - especially under circumstances like there were this week. I just need to have a different life objective. I’m evolving in many ways so this is natural.

When I started I was a young punk and an angry one at that. I was looking to prove to a lot of people including myself I had something to offer the world. I wanted to be a comic but I have to admit some of it was for the wrong reasons. I wanted to stick it in the ass of people I thought had slighted me and that’s never the right reason but I’m past that now.

I learned a lot of lessons and many of them well. Many more were learned not only the hard way but a way that had never been tried before. I made some mistakes people STILL talk about to this day so I guess that says something. When I went I went big. Now I need to go in a totally new direction with a new destination locked in my head for the journey.

When I started in comedy there were a lot of unanswered questions. Was I good enough to achieve what I wanted? Would I be able to survive? Did I have the stamina to stay with it and never give up? All those answers turned out to be yes but I didn’t know that then. It was a choppy and uneven trip with a lot of rough spots and I don’t want to do that again.

I want to focus my life on kindness and giving. I know that sounds corny and staged but I totally mean it. I’m not ever going to be all that I dreamed of mainly because it’s too late for that now. I missed a lot of chances through the years for different reasons and now it’s a matter of piecing together a salvaged life from the chunks of wreckage that are all over.

It’s not my main goal to be famous and in fact I’m ok if I’m not. I want to be known by a core group of fans, yes. That doesn’t mean I want to have to rent a theatre like Elvis so I can watch a movie. That’s a curse, not a blessing. I want to make my life shine with those who are on a path to be students of the truth like me. It’s a lot deeper than comedy clubs.

I like to think I’m a lot deeper too. I love comedy and I still enjoy performing but I need to find another passion to take me through the rest of my life. I achieved the comedy level I aimed for when I started and this week was the culmination of that. Fame does not have anything to do with it. I know in my heart I did it. I passed the test. Time for the next one.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Goodbye Mr. Monkey

Saturday May 23rd, 2009 - Appleton, WI

What a night. What a club. What a blast. What a relief. Part of me is extremely glad that this week is finally in my rear view mirror. It’s taken too many years to get here but now I can finally put this whole mess behind me and that’s a big victory I never thought I’d get.

This whole week has been a fantastic experience on every level. I have worked comedy clubs all over North America and I’d have to honestly say I’ve never been to a club I liked more than this one. From top to bottom it’s one of the most well run clubs I’ve ever seen.

The more I got to know the owner Cliff the more I liked and respected the guy. He’s flat out smart and an excellent business man who knows what it takes to run his business and he executes it perfectly. This place ROCKS. The audiences are trained well and everyone on the staff is polite and fun and the vibe in the club was upbeat and positive every night.

All the little details were taken care of from the subtlety of the lighting both onstage and off to the pre show music selection to the announcements before, during and after. All the shows started EXACTLY on time to the minute and the checks aren’t dropped until after the show is over. This is a dream club and if every place was run like this I’d be ecstatic.

It was also especially fun to work with Emily Galati and Jim Flannigan this whole week because they are both hungry to get better. We went out and sat for a couple of hours in a coffee shop and worked on their bits this afternoon and that was really fun. I can’t recall a time in recent memory when both other comics actually wanted to go work on comedy.

Tonight’s shows were off the hook once again. These crowds and I click extremely well partially because I’m in many ways one of them. My grandmother was from Shawano and that’s not far from here at all. I could drop local references that blew them away each time but I know this area and it was easy. I let it all go both shows tonight and it was orgasmic.

Giving everything on stage has to be similar to what Vince Lombardi talked about how an athlete feels after giving everything on the football field. Granted, audiences don’t hit back but I was drenched in sweat after both shows and I felt physically drained afterward.

I leaned into it and let it rip and when I do that I’m all over the stage. I like to jump and run and kick and do whatever it takes to punctuate my thoughts and the more they pop the more I want to give them. Tonight they were with me all night and I gave them all I had.

People lined up to tell me I was the funniest guy they’d ever seen and I shook each one of their hands and said thanks. The chance to have them come up to me took years to get so I wanted to enjoy every person that enjoyed my shows this week. I sat there gratefully.

This was more than a monkey off my back. This was King Kong on steroids. I was able to prove to Cliff and myself and even the other guy who hated me so much that I am very capable of working not only this club but any good club in America. I really needed this.

After the late show I went upstairs to the office to get paid as is customary at the end of the week at a club and Cliff and I had some one on one time as I was filling out my forms for the IRS. He was very complimentary and said I did a fantastic job and that he’d gladly have me back in the future. He also said “All that other stuff is water under the bridge.”

I wanted to start crying right there because that’s exactly what I needed to hear. It felt as though someone just pulled a thorn out of my paw after years of having it fester and cause me excruciating pain. I never wanted to have any wars with anyone and to have been kept from a wonderful place like this really bothered me for a long time. Now all that is gone.

Cliff said his partner was the one that put all that stuff out there and he never thought to doubt him and see for himself. I said I knew it was a buyer’s market and he didn’t have to because there are more than enough capable bodies to fill the spots and we both know it.

If there’s going to be a war of clubs in this town my money is on Cliff all the way. I feel badly about the split they had and I really wish I could at least get to meet the other guy so I could put any ill feelings he has to rest as well. He may not book me but that’s not why I want to do it. I want to just end the hostility. If I get booked here it will be at Cliff’s club.

Do these things happen for a reason? Who the hell knows? I missed out on fifteen years of working a fantastic club right in my own home state. Indirectly it’s a result of sending the Crisco package to that cretin in Milwaukee who had the benefit for me and decided to keep the money for himself. I still think he’s a prong but I should have kept it to myself.

I’m not ever going to live that Crisco package down. There was a guy last night in fact who came up to me after the show and sat next to me and got right in my face. I could see he was a little drunk and he looked extremely pissed off. He said “So YOU’RE the prick that thinks it’s funny to send a Crisco package to a guy who just had a heart attack, eh?”

He looked a little greasy and I didn’t want to start anything so I just pretended like I had not heard him and said “Excuse me?” His eyes narrowed and he said “YOU know.” I said I didn’t think I knew what he was talking about and he said “Oh, sorry. I must have found the wrong guy.” Then he got up and left. That was really odd and it made me feel uneasy.

Maybe he really didn’t know it was me. I wear glasses offstage and many times people I talk to after a show don’t recognize me right away. It’s like Clark Kent. Does he look that different from Superman? I don’t think so but everyone else seems to. I get it all the time. That guy had a few drinks so maybe he thought he had the wrong guy after all. Whatever.

He was probably a henchman of that goof in Milwaukee. Let it be. I heard the guy had a stroke recently and everyone was waiting for me to send him something again. No way. It was a huge mistake and I’m still paying for it even though I think the guy is a total wank.

That’s not my problem anymore. I am thrilled to have been able to be here this week to turn a bad situation into good after fifteen years. No more Crisco packages from this kid.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Harvesting Happiness

Friday May 22nd, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI/Appleton, WI

Does anyone really know what true happiness is? I think it’s up to everyone to come up with their own personal definition of what exactly that is and then have the guts to try and achieve whatever it is they decide. As for me I’m coming delightfully close to finding it.

These last few days have been absolutely fantastic on a lot of levels. From the gorgeous weather to all the fun things I’ve been doing lately I feel like I’m back in sync with all my positive creative energy. I’m living life as it comes day to day and enjoying every minute.

Today was another grand slam from morning until midnight. I had to get up to do radio on three stations but fortunately they were all in the same building. Cliff the club owner is a very sharp guy and we had a nice visit on the way over there. He’s totally on the ball.

He went into a little bit of the situation he has to deal with and opened up very nicely. It wasn’t strained at all and at the station I ended up telling him the infamous Crisco story to at least let him hear my side of it. He actually liked it and it turns out he wasn’t the one to keep me from working here all these years. He bought into the business after it opened.

Whatever the case we’re getting along fine this week and a mutual respect is developing on both ends. He can see I know what I’m doing on stage and I can sure see he’s got a top notch business acumen that he’s developed into a fantastic club. I totally love this place.

Whether I come back here or not is obviously up to him at this point. I think I’ll have an opportunity to return at some point but even if I don’t I had the chance to get this big long ugly mess straightened out and prove myself to be a quality act and a quality person too.

The radio experience this morning was also very positive. The first station I was on is a husband and wife morning team named Doug and Mary on ‘Kiss FM’. I’m sure they have to put the comedians on because someone told them to and maybe it might not be the best fit for what they do but they were super nice and we got along great. They were genuine.

It’s got to be extremely tough to do a morning show and be married at the same time so I didn’t want to make their lives any more difficult. Neither project is easy but doing both must be like pushing two freight trains so kudos to them both. They have my full support.

The next stop was the Rick and Len morning show on WAPL “The Rockin’ Apple”. If there’s a more laid back and fun morning show to be on I’ve never been on it. They are in a class with my favorite shows of all time like Brother Wease in Rochester, NY and a few others but a very precious few. Not that many people in radio can handle comedians well.

Rick and Len love it and it shows. I was on the show a couple of years ago and we had a great time. Rick was on vacation today but Len took over and we picked up where we left off the last time I was on. They have a strong following and deservedly so. These guys are legends up in these parts and I could tell that when people started to call when I came on.

Several of them remembered me from the last time I was on and I didn’t believe it until one guy started repeating what I was talking about then. It was about my car accident and he related the story back to me better than I can probably tell it now since it’s been such a long time since I told it. It totally blew me away that more than one person remembered.

How can it not be fun to sit in a top rated morning show with a guy who likes comedy? Len was great and set me up perfectly and Rick’s fill in was a guy named Ross Maxwell. It all just fit in perfectly and the hour really went by quickly. This is how radio should be.

I thought I was finished but I spent the 9am hour on “The Razor” with another good guy named Elwood. His show is called “Morning Wood” which is one of the funniest names I have ever heard. He’s totally into radio and in a good way. He loves it and it shows in his delivery. He has passion and I always love to be around people like that. I stayed an hour.

Cliff was saying on the way out that he likes dealing with the stations because there are such good people at all of them and I totally agree. This was one of the most productively fun three in a row radio shots I think I’ve ever done. They treated me like a big star and it sure felt good. I appreciated every bit of it and I especially enjoyed the lack of radio BS.

These were a bunch of real people who happened to work in radio and I would enjoy an opportunity to talk with them whether it was on the air or in the air on a plane. There’s no pressure or big time Hollywood attitudes flying around and I‘d work up here in a second.

Afterward I had already made a commitment to drive down to Milwaukee to be on with my friend Drew Olson on “The D List” on ESPN 540. That’s always fun but today was an even bigger treat because it was ‘Free Food Friday’ where a restaurant comes in and gives a party and then Drew and Dan Needles talk about it on the air. Dan had a day off today.

Too bad for Dan. Too good for me! The restaurant today was a new seafood place that’s absolutely spectacular. They brought a huge lobster and crab legs and ahi tuna and a perch that would make a mermaid blush. What a spread of food and then I got to hang on the air with Drew and a former major leaguer named Paul Wagner who’s also a hell of a fun guy.

This is exactly what I love to do - hang out with good people and have FUN. If it’s on a radio station even better and today I got a chance to really stretch out and let it rip. I can’t remember a day when I’ve had so much fun on air with so many different people on such a variety of stations. I loved every minute of it and I knew as it went on how cool this is.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day so when it does I’m very grateful. I enjoyed being with friends and I also got to do comedy shows tonight as well. The early show was a little weird and even Cliff noticed it. They were strange but it didn’t suck. It just was.

The late show was a MONSTER. Wow, what a crowd. It was electric and I could do no wrong. What a feeling! I never get sick of it. It may only be in a limited capacity and only in certain areas but I’m getting to live my dreams and if that isn’t happiness then what is?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Bad News Today

Thursday May 21st, 2009 - Appleton, WI

Good vibes are bouncing off the walls this week and I’m not complaining. I’m enjoying the spring weather and everything else about my experience here in Appleton so far. If the whole comedy business was like this we’d all be in a much better place. They get it here.

The audience tonight was even hotter than last night’s crowd if that’s possible. This was about as fun as it can get because I was in charge from the first ten seconds and I was able to take them anywhere I wanted. I was having fun and so were they and the time flew by.

I relaxed and put it on cruise control but I still punctuated my punch lines and acted out my bits and just had a blast on stage. I felt like a kid doing yo yo tricks and I was totally at home because these people were cheese head Wisconsinites just like me. I’m one of them and I knew what to say and when to say it. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give them a perfect 10.

I’m usually an extremely harsh critic and especially hard on myself but tonight I loved it and felt great from start to finish. I could tell by the firm handshakes after the show that it resonated with the audience like I thought it did and people asked for autographs and also pictures so I felt like a big star. I shook every hand and thanked them and I really meant it.

Earlier in the day I was ecstatic to see the first draft of my CD cover that Pedro Bell and his crew of artists are working on. It’s exactly how I pictured it to be and I’m thrilled that I spent the money and did this. I realize most people who might like me have no idea who Pedro Bell or George Clinton are or what a Funkadelic album cover looks like but I do.

That’s all that really matters. It surely will stand out even to those who have no idea and I’ll be able to enjoy it as long as I live. WAY worth the investment to me and if I had it to do over again I still would do it. It looks great and this is only the pencil draft. There will be lots of bright colors in the final version and I’m sure it will look even better. I love it.

I’m also loving working with Emily Galati and Jim Flannigan this week. They’re really easy to deal with and the show builds like a comedy show should. Emily is still a tiny bit green but she’ll be fine and she already showed improvement from last night to tonight.

Jim Flannigan is impressing the hell out of me. He’s a close friend of one of my former students Vince Carone who also impresses me greatly. They’re both as hungry to succeed as I was when I was their age and it’s a pleasure to watch them both develop into full time professional comedians. They’re both good people and I’m very proud of both of them.

Jim has a day job in sales and is excellent at it but it’s also helping his comedy develop. I see the huge progress he’s made and he will only get better. He did a fine job tonight as he did last night and we also had a good time hanging out this afternoon. This kid rocks.

All in all this week is low pressure, just like I wanted it to be. Tomorrow I have to be on a couple of radio shows to promote the weekend but that’s fine with me. I’m having fun.

Opportunity In Appleton

Wednesday May 20th, 2009 - Appleton, WI

Damage control week. I’ve heard wonderful things about the Skyline Comedy Café in Appleton, WI but until this week I’ve never worked here. There are reasons for it that I’d really rather not get into because it won’t change the fact that I have been excluded for so long. It’s taken many years but I finally got my chance and I’m grateful to have it. Period.

Life is full of sensitive politics but the entertainment business is even more delicate. I’m the first to admit I’ve made more than my share of stupid mistakes in life and business but I believe a real winner hangs in there and is able to turn things around. It sure isn’t easy.

I’d pretty much written this place off because I felt I wasn’t ever going to be shown any chances to prove myself. No club in America needs any one comedian and that’s a reason to keep us all humble. No matter what position one is going for there are HUNDREDS of qualified and capable bodies to fill that spot and each club only has 52 weeks a year open.

The Skyline Comedy Café has gotten along just fine without Dobie Maxwell and that’s just the way it is. It’s a buyer’s market from a club standpoint. They can use a lot of good acts and never need to get around to me and nobody will be the lesser for it. Except me.

I’m really glad they gave me a shot though because this is one fantastic room. We had a super packed house tonight and a rocking show and on a Wednesday night in a Wisconsin comedy club on a sunny day in May that’s a borderline miracle. This was a genuine treat.

The booker thankfully let me pick my opening acts for the week and that’s something a lot more bookers should consider. It’s a much better week when there’s chemistry onstage and off and this week will be very low maintenance. The opener is Emily Galati who just moved from Arizona and has done some showcases at Zanies. She’s funny and fits well.

Jim Flannigan is the feature and I’ve always liked this kid onstage and off. He’s a funny act but also a student of the game. He’s polite and respectful and isn’t afraid to work hard and pay some dues. He wants to learn and he’s grateful for the chance and all of us fit in a show together because nobody steps on each other’s premises and we will get along fine.

I met the owner Cliff and he was nothing but pleasant. He smiled and shook my hand as I walked in the club and that’s the best I could expect. He didn’t say anything to make me feel uncomfortable and I’m thrilled he didn’t. I don’t want any bad blood between us and I’m confident after tonight there won’t be. I did a strong show and I can tell he knows it.

He’s very sharp and he wouldn’t have been in business as long as he has if he wasn’t. If I could change the past I would but I can’t so all I can do is build whatever kind of a good business relationship I can from this point forward and see where it goes. It started today.

I hope I can draw a few people but this is a tricky weekend with the holiday and the nice weather too. At least I get a chance to prove myself and I’ll be on my very best behavior.

The funny thing is I’m always on my best behavior. I don’t drink or do drugs ever nor am I mean or abusive to the staff. I always tip even if I’m only drinking water and I try to be polite and respectful to everyone I meet from the janitor on up. It doesn’t really take a lot of effort to be nice but I try to put some into it anyway. It’s just plain smart business.

What isn’t smart business is not even getting a chance to be booked at a club because of something someone heard. Reputations can make or break a person and mine for the most part has been very good over the years. I show up and don’t bother people. Occasionally it gets around that I can be hard to work with but that’s because I want to do quality shows.

I want the sound and lights to be right and I want opening acts who aren’t drunk all the time or filthy on stage. I also want the audience to know they can’t talk during the show. I have a strong act that’s taken years to develop and trying to out shout some boozed up oaf who got in free by dropping his wrestling ticket stub in a fish bowl totally pops my cork.

There is never a problem in the good rooms because they know how to have these kinds of things taken care of before I ever have to deal with it. Such is the case here in Appleton this week. The sound is fantastic and the lights are perfect and the audience is well trained and not obnoxious at all. They come out to hear COMEDY and it’s a delight to be here.

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be here before but that’s how it worked out. Fair or not isn’t a question because life is never going to be fair. It was what it was but I heard there is a big ugly fight going on between the owners and now there are going to be two clubs in town.

None of that is my business and I’m not going to pry. If Cliff decides he wants to let me in on the story I’ll listen and then keep the information to myself. His business is not for a diary of mine and I’d never think of including it but I am sorry to hear of the falling out.

I did get approached by the other club a while back and since I didn’t work here I would gladly have done it but then I got this booking so this is where my allegiance will fall as it all shakes down. I have never been one to play two sides against the middle and I want to build a relationship that works for both parties. From what I’ve seen tonight I’ll stay here.

I’ve seen this situation happen over and over in many towns and sometimes there is just room for one club in a town. When there are two it chokes both of them out and I sure do hope that isn’t the case here. This is a very nice club and I hope the other one doesn’t put a damper on that. There are a few places to draw from but I would think location is key.

All this reminds me of comedy classes in Chicago. When I was doing it nobody else in town even thought of it. Now everyone and their grandmother tries one and I’m the only one who suffers because they knock down the price and have no idea what they’re doing.

I’m sure every other business goes through this kind of thing too but it doesn’t make it any easier. I feel bad for Cliff because he’s got a sweet club here. I’m glad to be here and for whatever it’s worth from my end I’m hoping to stay here and build a draw together.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Night At Hooters

Tuesday May 19th, 2009 - Greenfield, WI

Three days of creative freedom and now this - the grand slam. Tonight I was asked to be the host of the bikini contest at Hooter’s in Greenfield, WI. Oh, alright. Twist my arm. I’ll force myself to trudge through and put in another day on the rock pile. Work, work, work.

My friend Drew Olson has been hosting this event for the past couple of years as part of his radio gig but tonight he had to appear on TV for the Brewers so he gave my name as a replacement. The dear lad. I’ll have to make sure he and his are taken care of in my will.

Actually the gig was a lot of fun. I have done a couple of events for Hooters before and I always enjoy working for them. I was in Florida some years ago and got to host a similar couple of events down there that were also well run. Those people are very professional.

My contact here was a guy named Bob who I assume is in management. He was easy to deal with and very friendly and the whole night was like a night off. All I had to do was to announce the girls as a group and as individuals and keep the flow moving. Piece of cake.

The event was held in a tent in the parking lot and a lot of effort was put into making it a success. Bob and the staff were right on it and it came off without a hitch. There were a total of 23 contestants from Hooters locations in Green Bay, Appleton and Rockford, IL.

Most of the girls were between about 18 and 22 and I realized immediately that I am not from the same planet they are. I have nothing to say to any of them other than hello. I’m a completely different animal than all of them and it was funny to read their contest bios.

They listen to music by people I’ve never heard of and as they paraded on stage I don’t think I recognized more than one or two songs out of the 23. They were born in the ‘80s and ‘90s and almost all of them were young enough to be my daughter. I felt very old.

The Hooters people handled everything with class as I’ve come to expect from them in my experience. They didn’t want it to be dirty and I didn’t take it there. I tried to pump up every contestant and there were no dogs in the group at all. I thought every one was up to very high standards and growing up in Milwaukee I don’t remember that kind of quality.

The hard part was narrowing the field. There were some total knockouts in the line but I could see the disappointment in some of their eyes when they didn’t make the final five. I know the feeling from having been in comedy contests over the years. It rots ass to lose.

I don’t think young women have any idea the power they have. These girls were totally hot and there weren’t any losers in the bunch. Any guy should have been thrilled to have a chance at any one of them but most guys that age are complete idiots. I know I sure was.

I passed up chances at tons of hot women then because I wanted to ‘focus on my career’ for a while. Ha. What a mistake. Now these women look at me like I’m their dad’s friend.

Three For Three

Monday May 18th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

If life was like it’s been in the last three days all the time I’d have nothing to bitch about anymore. Saturday was great because of Jerry’s Kidders on WGN. Yesterday it was doing a solid Mothership Connection show on WLIP. Tonight it was a hot showcase at Zanies.

Monday nights at Zanies can be very tricky. Sometimes the crowds are fantastic but the lineup of comedians is weak. Other times it’s just the opposite and the crowd is comatose but the comedians are strong. Tonight nitro met glycerin and everything was explosive.

I can’t remember a recent show where everything just fell together like tonight. What an absolute blast to be part of a show like this. I’m the toughest critic there is and when it’s a bad crowd or a show misfires I’ll be the first to admit it. Not tonight. There was a raw and rocking electricity in the room from the first ten seconds to the last comic of the evening.

I’ve done enough of these shows and shows in general to get a real feel for the audience in a very short period of time. If they’re super or if they suck - I know it immediately. It is no mystery to know how an audience is going to behave. The mystery comes from why?

Why they were so good tonight is anyone’s guess but I think it was the luck of the draw. These particular people as a whole had excellent senses of humor as individuals and when they came together the sum was greater than the parts. They laughed right when they were supposed to and nobody heckled and when a comedian was talking they were listening.

That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be and if it were like this more often there wouldn’t be as much binge drinking by comics. Well, maybe there still would but the reason would be other than trying to forget a bad audience. These people should travel together as a unit and build self esteem to aspiring performers all over the country. They were magnificent.

Nights like this make all the years of struggle seem worth it. We all felt appreciated and who doesn’t want to feel that? I sure do. I need it. Everyone does. Hearing it several times on the walk between the stage and the men’s room confirmed it even more. We rocked it.

Three separate projects in three separate days but all of them were fun and when they go the way they’re supposed to the feeling of satisfaction pulses through my veins and that is the feeling I have right now. The drive home tonight was like floating on a passing cloud.

All of these things are on my terms. I didn’t have to kiss anyone’s ass or compromise an ideal or a moral to make it happen. For the last three days and nights I’ve gotten to do my favorite things without having to get hassled from some imbecile that I’m doing it wrong.

I was in control of all of it and I liked and respected the people around me too. Taking a concept like Jerry’s Kidders or the Mothership Connection or even hosting the showcase and making it come to life from only an idea is a thrill I’ll never get sick of having. I’m in creative heaven right now but I can’t gloat. There are a lot more projects left to conquer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

White Sox And Black Holes

Sunday May 17th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Here’s a nifty nugget of obscure baseball trivia knowledge even if you don’t like sports. Former Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos May was born on this date in 1948 making him 61 years old today. He originally wore uniform number 29 but later changed it to 17.

What makes it so significant is he’s been the only professional athlete to wear his birth date on his uniform - ‘May 17’. That’s one of the coolest trivia questions I’ve ever heard and I was able to partially dazzle or at least temporarily perplex quite a few of the people who attended the sports card show up at Gonzaga Hall in Milwaukee today. It was fun.

Nothing gets a sports geek’s juices flowing like a skull buster trivia question and I’m a big one myself so I understand the concept fully. It’s fun to be stumped for at least a little while but then it gets to the point where a person just has to know. That’s how today was.

People were guessing former Brewers pitcher Don August but he was born in July. I’m not sure what his uniform number was but pitchers usually have higher numbers so if it’s higher than 31 that would take him out. People were fascinated by this question as was I.

I do love a good trivia question and I’ve been compiling a list of the best ones I’ve ever heard for as long as I can remember. When I was in radio I was smart enough to write the best ones down so I could use them over again and I’ve got a file that would choke a yak.

If I ever do land a full time radio gig again I’ll be able to hit the ground running but it’s not likely I’ll ever get the chance. However, every time I say I’m through with radio a job comes out of nowhere and I’m back in it again. I’ll just let it happen however it develops.

For now I’m having great fun on two radio fronts even though I’m not getting paid. The WGN experience yesterday was great and so was the Mothership Connection in Kenosha, WI tonight on WLIP. Talk about your polar opposites in every way. WGN is one of THE broadcast entities on the planet and WLIP is in a studio the size of a teenager’s bedroom.

WGN is a 50,000 watt blowtorch that reaches thirty some states and half of Canada. It’s the flagship station of the Chicago Cubs and it rakes in millions of dollars in revenue each year. WLIP is nowhere near a blowtorch. It’s more like a Bic lighter running low on fluid.

Still, it’s great fun to do the show there each week and I want it to continue and get a lot better. The content is pretty good I must say but it could use more flash like sound effects and music beds and stuff like that. That will improve in time but I’m dealing with a goose egg for a budget so I have very limited resources to draw from. At least we’re on the air.

Tonight’s show was very strong. We had two solid guests - one talked about UFOs and the other talked about ghost sightings in Illinois. They were interesting and I kept the flow going the whole time. I love hosting the show because it’s good practice and I feel totally at home with the topics, guests and my co-hosts. A few bucks would sure be nice though.

Window Of Opportunity

Saturday May 16th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Jerry’s Kidders are adapting rather nicely to our WGN scenario. This was week number three and I thought we started to hit stride as a team. We already knew each other but now we’re adjusting to our surroundings and how things are done at WGN. It’s a lot different.

First off we’re in a completely different studio situation. WLS had us sequestered away in a tiny little studio buried in the bowels of a downtown Chicago building. We were near a cluster of elevators so once in a great while a hot looking intern would walk past us but it wasn’t often enough to look forward to. We pretty much had to create our own energy.

WGN’s studio is a glass enclosed zoo cage right on Michigan Avenue. There are lots of people mulling around and peeking in to see if they recognize anyone inside. Even if they don’t they still smile and wave when we wave at them and there’s a steady flow all day.

That may take some getting used to for radio people but for the three of us it’s water to a duck. We’re used to performing for live audiences and we know how to feed off of their energy one way or another. If we can get a live audience to be part of this we’re golden.

The weather was gorgeous today so there was an even bigger crowd rubbernecking in at us this week than there was the last two weeks combined. They were up against the studio glass and apparently they can hear us on air. I could see a lot of them laughing out loud.

When the bit is going well there’s a total rhythm in motion and that’s part of why it’s so much fun. We’re all in the same comic groove and it’s like a band performing live. We’re all in the moment together and when it works it’s down right splendiferous. What will put it over the top and make it even better would be to include a live audience every time out.

I don’t see that being a problem as the concept takes off and develops into a familiar bit with WGN listeners. Even those who don’t listen can figure out in about five seconds that we’re a group of (hopefully) funny people doing jokes back and forth. It won’t be difficult to figure that out and like today there will be some who will stay and watch and enjoy it.

A couple of times today I was able to hit a punch line and make eye contact with people as I did it and I saw them laugh. I gave a couple of thumbs ups and got some back but that will evolve as we settle in. There will be those who just come out to give us all the finger.

I’m fine with that too. I can handle it. It might be fun to yank my Levi’s down and shoot a pasty white moon shot right in their faces but this is WGN so I’ll fight that urge. We all know where we are. We need to ease ourselves in steadily and establish our brand name.

So far so good. It really feels good to see those people looking in at us and laughing out loud. As we get fans we’ll go outside and shake every hand and thank them for taking the time to come out and see us. This could be a fantastic opportunity to network every week and build a loyal following. We all see it and we love that we’re seeing. This can work!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wayman Tisdale

Friday May 15th, 2009 - Lake Zurich, IL

Yesterday’s vibe of all pleasant all day has evaporated but quick. Today was exactly the opposite. The weather was drizzly and blue and so was the energy. A single day can make a big difference and I’ll be damned if I can figure out why that is. But it is. And it stinks.

It does today anyway. When it goes from bad to good it can be exhilarating and hopeful. When it goes in this direction it can spiral downward into one of those depression funks I try so hard to avoid. They usually come back though and I hope this isn’t going to be one.

What really disturbed me early was reading that Wayman Tisdale died of cancer at only 44 years of age. I never met the man in person but I did play baseball many years ago with someone who claimed to be his distant cousin so I kind of followed his career because of that. I had no reason to doubt that guy and I don’t think he would just make that fact up.

The guy I played ball with was a nice guy and I’ve always followed sports and I’d heard of Wayman Tisdale because he was in college playing basketball at that time and was just about to get drafted into the NBA. I remember we talked about who the Milwaukee Bucks were going to draft and he went off on how they should draft Tisdale over everyone else.

When I asked why he told me what a great person Tisdale was and how much everyone who ever met him liked and respected him and he said whatever team got him would be a better team on and off the court immediately. The guy was a one man fan club for Tisdale and because of that I always cheered for him throughout his NBA career. I like nice guys.

Then after he quit playing after a respectable career he started to release jazz albums for a few years. I remember hearing he was doing that and I was very impressed. It’s not easy to make it to the NBA much less have a career for more than a couple of years. It’s also a difficult thing to not only release a music album but to have one place on the charts also.

Wayman Tisdale played in the NBA for twelve years. He released eight jazz albums as well. Either one of those two things would be major achievements but to do both is down right spectacular. I have nothing but respect for the man and everyone seemed to have all positive things to say about him on every front. His legacy will be one of a total success.

Why do people like this have to die at 44? This really bothers me and further questions if there is a God looking out for us or not. Why would a guy like Wayman Tisdale have a horrible cancer death at 44 when Charles Manson is healthy and cancer free at a ripe age?

I don’t get it. Hopefully Wayman Tisdale is in a better place and that’s the place I want to go to sooner than later. I am getting older and more jaded and hearing of this really set me off today. I was very sad and still am. It doesn’t seem fair to me but life never was.

On top of that I also heard a comic friend of mine has bladder cancer. That really made today a downer all around. Why can’t life be happy and fair? On this planet it just isn’t.

Pleasantly Pleasant

Thursday May 14th, 2009 - Grayslake, IL/Tinley Park, IL

I can sum up today in a single word - pleasant. I don’t think I’ve ever written or uttered that sentence in my life and I have to say it feels fantastic. What a treat it was to have an entire day free from crisis, malfunction or disaster. This is a groove I could get used to.

The weather was absolutely perfect and that’s always a good start. The sun was out and the temperature was just right and it stayed that way all day. I hit every green light and my road seemed to unfold in front of me. I don’t know why it was clicking but it totally was.

My first stop was a quarterly membership meeting of the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau. I joined last month and today was my first meeting. A lady named Jayne Nordstrom was the representative I dealt with and she’s really good at her job. She’s been persistent but not a pest for a long time now and I finally ended up joining at her bequest.

She’s a very nice lady as are all the other people both in the bureau and the actual group of business owners. Everyone was laid back and friendly and I could feel the positive vibe as I walked around shaking hands before the meeting. Rick Young helps Jim McHugh on some of the Chicago Comedy All Stars shows and he lives close by so he showed up too.

There was a drawing for two airline tickets because Mitchell Field in Milwaukee is also a new member and Rick kept telling anyone who’d listen “I’m going to win those tickets, you know.” He kept saying it and saying it and when the actual drawing finally happened the lady put her hand in the big bin and pulled out the winner. It was Rick. We erupted.

I wonder if that’s truly how life works or if this was just a fluke of a day. He said it like he believed it and sure enough - BANG. He wins the tickets. It was amazing because his statement over and over wasn’t forced at all. He really sounded like he believed he’d win those tickets and damned if he didn’t. He seemed to know it. It was eerie. Good for him.

Tonight I worked a gig for a group in Tinley Park, IL which apparently has had comedy before. I got it through Jimmy McHugh and he did it last year by himself. This year it was different because he hosted it and got myself and Rocky LaPorte to do it along with him.

Rocky is the epitome of pleasant. I’ve known the guy twenty years and he’s always very upbeat and positive. Everyone I know likes Rocky and I do too. He was in L.A. for years and was always in the running for a sitcom but for whatever reason it never came to be.

Did he get bitter about it? If he did he sure doesn’t show it. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to handle it as well as Rocky did but he’s by no means a failure. He works good gigs, makes a living and doesn’t complain. About anything. Ever. He sets a very good example.

After the show we hung out and it was…well…pleasant. Nobody trashed anyone and it was just three comics making each other laugh and sharing stories. No bite, no bitterness, no fake Hollywood smiles. There was a vibe in the air today I want to bottle up and save.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lancing A Human Boil

Wednesday May 13th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

I don’t know why so many of my non comedian friends ask me about the late night TV talk shows but they do. What do I think of Jimmy Fallon? Will Jay Leno be able to make it in prime time? How long will Letterman keep doing it? I’m the last guy who’d know.

In truth I don’t really watch any of the shows unless I’m flicking through the channels at some hotel after a show looking for Sports Center. Once in a while I’ll watch if a friend is performing but that’s about it. For whatever reason those shows don’t really entertain me.

I have nothing against any of them and I used to love Johnny Carson and even Merv but that was mainly because those shows featured comedians regularly. There weren’t all that many shows either so most of them were able to get the huge guests. It’s not like that now and I don’t have time to sit and listen to some bubblehead I don’t know plug a bad movie.

Speaking of bubbleheads I’ve got one crawling up my ass of late trying to get me to put a word in for him with Bert Haas at Zanies. He’s a former student who I have gone out of my way to help many times in the past and then when I do offer any insights or advice he ignores it all. Then he’s angry that Bert won’t return his emails so then he bitches to me.

This is one of the few downsides to teaching the classes. For all the great people I meet there are those few mosquitoes who tend to annoy me so much it makes me almost forget about the winners I meet. It’s a test in human relations skills and also a patience drill too. I try to be friendly and encouraging and uplifting but after a while I can’t take it anymore.

I’m to that point with this guy and it’s taken years to get there. He bawled me out about “not taking FIVE minutes to watch my tape“. OK, that does make me look like an ass but I’ve had over 1000 students over the years and at any one time I have several who contact me asking for ‘five minutes’. Those blocks of time add up and before long I’m swamped.

I really do have to learn to say NO but that’s always been difficult for me. I have a heart and I enjoy helping people but I feel like I’m being taken advantage of by people like this. I sent him an email telling him he’s never ONCE offered to pay for my time to look at his tape and the times I did he did exactly the opposite of what I told him. He’s so off my list.

The whole exchange left a bad taste in my mouth because I really did try to help the guy out over the years. He seemed sincere but looking back on it he was a pain in the ass most of the time and he thought he was WAY better than he is. Then he trashed Bert Haas with all his energy and sent me nasty emails wishing Bert to rot in hell. Those were a red flag.

Now I’m sure he wishes me in hell and that’s fine. Actually I think I’m already there so his wish came true. I know he’s probably trashing my name around the open mikes and he can go ahead and do that too. I’m not going to apologize for what I did or said because he was the one who didn’t listen. I told him the right things to do and now I’m finished with it all. I’m not going to take abuse from a guy like that. Watch, he’ll get his own talk show.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Betting On The Kidders

Tuesday May 12th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

I got an email today from The Craig Ferguson Show but it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was from the talent booker Celia Joseph saying she’s again leaving the show because of another opportunity and wanted to let everyone know. She was an absolute peach to work with and I sent her congratulations immediately. She made my experience there very easy.

Still no word on when my segment will air. Actually I don’t really care if it runs or not. It would be nice and I still think it will but whether it does or not I can use the DVD for a new audition set to get more club work and private shows. That’s the real benefit of all of this for me. A lot of people can’t or won’t stay up that late to watch the actual broadcast.

Everyone on the show was absolutely fantastic to work with and I don’t see why my set wouldn’t run. If I tanked it they would have told me by now and it would have been over. I got paid and I am still on their mailing list so I think it’s just a matter of that’s how they do it. It takes time and when they feel it’s right they’ll put me on. I’m totally fine with it.

The main thing I got out of all of it was the experience of taping for national TV. I had a taste of what it was like and I didn’t blow it. I made quite a few mistakes that I absolutely will NOT make the next time or any time after that. I have a much better perspective now.

No matter what happens I will not be intimidated when I get in that situation again. I’ve now been there before and know what to expect. I’m sure it’s the feeling NFL rookies feel after their first game or even their first year in the league. It’s an adjustment but once they make it they’re ok. I feel like that now. If I handled that I can handle any other situation.

Surprisingly the situation seems to be shifting back to radio again. My best opportunity right now is the WGN slot with Jerry’s Kidders. None of us have made penny one since it started over a year ago but we’ve made strides in putting our act together and we continue to improve even now. This could reach a lot of people who’d never hear of us otherwise.

It really is all about who knows us. If we can get to be a name in Chicago it should lead to some gigs in the area. The actual listening area of WGN is a lot more than Chicago and I’ll gladly go to Peoria or Des Moines or Kokomo or anywhere else that would have us. It wouldn’t be much different from what I’ve been doing other than the pay will be higher.

I still haven’t had that big break and unfortunately there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever get it. I’ll need some luck in there somewhere and Jerry Agar seems to be my one man charm bracelet. He’s had a total knack of being in the right place at the right time ever since he’s gotten into talk radio and it’s looking like he’s there again. WGN could be our big payoff.

At least it’s still fun. Jerry and the guys make it worth the time and we all enjoy being a team both on the air and afterward in the restaurant. I sure hope adding money to the mix won’t cause us to lose that spirit of fun but it totally could. I don’t think so but who’s able to say for sure? Still, I won’t let it scare me off. This is the biggest project I’ve got going.

Paying Showbiz Dues

Monday May 11th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Back in the Zanies Monday night saddle after a couple of weeks off. It felt good to have off but it also felt good to be back. I really do enjoy hosting these shows and it gives me a chance to check out who’s coming up the ranks. It’s smart business to know these people.

Somewhere along the line any one of them may catch a big break and need a writer or a role in a sitcom or movie and hopefully I’ll be at the top of the list. I do try to be available should they have questions to ask and many times they do. I also try to encourage them as much as I can. I watch their shows and make suggestions and I see that they appreciate it.

I know exactly what they’re going through because I was there myself. It takes years for an act and stage persona to truly develop and mature and there is nothing that will rush it. Doing sets at every possible opportunity in every possible environment is the way to do it correctly and when it’s not going right that can really get old. This is part of paying dues.

NOBODY else can pay one’s dues except that particular person. I see a core of comics putting in their time at Zanies and other places and I see their progress whether they do or not. People like Mike Palaszak and Bryan Berry and Adam Burke and Hannibal Burress and Julianna Forlano and Mikey Mason and Beth Stelling and others are doing it right.

Sometimes the audiences love them and other times they just sit there. I can totally feel what they feel because I still experience that now even if it is on a different level. I try to always give them a quality introduction and show them what a good emcee does so if and when they host shows they’ll get an idea of what to do. I am setting an example for them.

C. Cardell Willis set the example for us back in Milwaukee when I was starting out. I’m just passing his kindness forward and hopefully when I’m dead there will be someone that remembers what I was trying to do with fondness just like I remember Cardell. He was an inspiration to all of us then but as the years go by his memory grows sweeter and sweeter.

I don’t do it for any other reason but that it’s FUN. I enjoy being able to watch this crop of newbies ripen and if I can throw a little fertilizer in the mix I’m happy to do it. I owe a lot to the few people who helped me when I started and I’m just paying it forward. People like Cardell and Gary Kern and Kyle Nape and Danny Storts all helped me get my chops.

Darrin Hensley is a very funny guy out of Lexington, KY. He drove up to do a set and it was good to see him. We worked together in Corbin, KY of all places and he was the host of a weekend I did down there. He was very new then but I could see his hunger so I went out of my way to be nice to him and help out. I know he appreciated it so I didn’t mind.

Tonight I was the host so I made sure he had a great introduction and he went up for his six minute set and I could see the major improvement since Corbin. He did a nice job and the crowd liked him and I told him he should be proud of himself. And he should. Paying dues doesn’t have to be miserable but they do have to be paid. There are NO exceptions.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday May 10th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Another Mother’s Day and I still don’t know if my mother is living or dead. She would be 66 now but I can’t confirm that either. I always heard she wasn’t even 21 before I was born and I was her third child. I think it may be accurate because I heard it many times.

I’ve only seen my mother a few times in my life that I can remember. She left the family when I was five months old and I was sent to live with my paternal grandparents. Both of my siblings stayed with my father who eventually remarried a short time later. It wasn’t a pleasant life for any of us and we were never really raised as two brothers and a sister.

I was always the outsider and growing up with the grandparents had it’s own set of ugly problems. They fought like soccer hooligans and I had to grow up in the middle of all that until they finally split up when I was about 12. None of us kids had a positive home life.

Gramps was my only ray of light as a kid. He would tell me the truth about pretty much everything, even when it wasn’t pretty - and it usually wasn’t. The one subject he’d never talk much about was my mother. She just wasn’t a part of my life and that’s how it was.

I was about nine or ten when I heard she was coming to take all of us kids to the zoo for a day. I was less than thrilled to hear it because I didn’t know her at all plus at that time it wasn’t fun to be the youngest sibling. Both my sister Tammy and brother Larry had heard from my father I was living the life of leisure with the grandparents and they hated that.

For a while they were both very mean to me but I blame that on the old man. He was an instigator and probably jealous that I was getting all the attention from his father he never got. Whatever it was it wasn’t fun to be me and seeing Mommy Dearest didn’t thrill me.

All I remember was how awkward it felt to be with our ‘mother’. She wanted us to call her that but I remember how none of us really wanted to because we didn’t look at her as our mother. She was Jeannie and we’d always been pumped full of bad stories about her.

I didn’t see her again after that one day at the zoo for another several years. I don’t even know how we got back in touch but I was in high school when I saw her again. I was with my sister and brother and I remember going to a gathering of people who were allegedly a group of our relatives. We felt like total outsiders but I don’t remember them being mean.

Then for whatever reason we drifted apart again and I didn’t hear from her again until a birthday card came in the mail for me when I was 27. Why that year I don’t know but I do remember finding it odd to get a card on such an odd numbered birthday from my mother.

She wrote (or tried to) a letter that I had a hard time deciphering because it looked like a third grader wrote it. I’d heard she never finished high school and that letter confirmed it. I was embarrassed to read it with all it’s spelling errors and know that neither she nor my illustrious father were ever going to do anything positive in my life and I sure was right.

I remember writing her back and sending her some of my press clippings as a comedian because I was starting to get a few by then. I told her I didn’t know why I was doing it but I thought she might want to know her son actually tried to make something out of his life.

I also remember letting her have it about abandoning us all and how horrible it felt to be left alone and have to grow up not even knowing if my mother was living or dead. I never got a response and didn’t end up hearing from her again until I was lying in intensive care at St. Michael’s hospital in Milwaukee in March of 1993 after my infamous car accident.

I was really hurting and had broken my jaw once and my sternum twice. I was really in a bad way and the phone rang in my room. It was my mother. Click. She called again and I hung up again. She called a third time and I told her I was not emotionally or physically ready to talk to her but if she wanted to visit me after I got out I’d be able to see her then.

She did call me again when I got out and we arranged a meeting time when she’d come over to see me and visit. She said she wanted to get to know me and even though I wasn’t really thrilled about that I was open for giving her a chance. She seemed to sound sincere.

She was supposed to come over at 6:00 on a Wednesday. I can remember looking at the clock on the wall of where I was living then and seeing it go from 6:00 to 6:30 to 8:00 to 2am. She never showed up and never called to tell me why. That was the last time I heard from her. There was a part of me that died that night and I don’t enjoy thinking about it.

Sitting there with broken bones didn’t hurt as much as her not showing up. Every time a car drove past I thought it might be her but then I just gave up. I had two roommates then and both of them were gone that particular night so I sat there by myself wondering why I was even born. Before or since I can’t describe anything that’s been so intensely painful.

Loneliness. Abandonment. Torture. Those are only words and they can’t get to the pain I felt with that experience. This is only something a dented can is able to relate to and I’m very glad not everyone is able to feel what I felt that night. It was pure and uncut raw hell.

All these years later it still hurts to think about that story. I had heard she was still alive from one of her half brothers who came out to see me at a show a while back but I’m not really interested in finding her or trying to start a relationship this late in the game. She’s dead to me and after not trying to contact me in 16 years it’s a little late to do it over now.

I’m the first one to admit I’m a nut in many ways but hopefully this explains a little bit of why that is. This is cruel and unusual punishment and I admit it still stings. No, stings isn’t the word. It’s EXCRUCIATING when I think about it but I don’t always do that on a regular basis. I try to work past it and get on with my life but days like today are horrific.

People have a lot of inner things like this inside and I know I’m not the only one. I sure do try to not let it ruin my life but many times that anger and hurt lays there and festers. It will be with me for the rest of my life and that’s just how it is. Happy Mother’s Day Ma.

Two Terrific Teams

Saturday May 9th, 2009 - Chicago, IL/Lake Forest, IL

There’s nothing like being part of a really good team. When I was a kid what few sports teams I did get to play on were all terrible. I played basketball in 7th and 8th grade and that was about it for a Caucasian under 6 feet tall. Was I Jerry West? No. Jerry Lewis? Closer.

We didn’t win many games and we weren’t very close as a team either. I love the game of basketball but it doesn’t love me back. Baseball was a little better because I was a left handed pitcher and that’s like being a blonde with gargantuan honkers. Someone is going to give you a shot and the phone is always ringing. I played on quite a few baseball teams.

One of my favorite experiences during my high school years was playing on an all black team one summer. I was the only white guy and it was great fun. The guys were a little bit standoffish at first but we became friends very quickly and I loved it because everyone on the team was a good person. We got along and it was a pleasure to play with all of them.

That’s one of my first real experiences with a fun team environment. Another was also in my high school years when I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. That was a total blast even though our boss tried his best to make all of our lives a living hell. He wasn’t a nice guy at all but the other guys were and we all fit in well with each other and had fun.

I still talk to some of those guys even now and they’re still great guys. Wade Waugus is still employed by the team and has always been one of my favorite people. He was a high school kid just like me and he ended up making a career out of a part time job of cleaning up sweat puddles and pouring Gatorade. Good for Wade. He parlayed it into a fun career.

Many of my radio experiences have been horrible but only because I got fired by a total idiot. My partners have for the most part been very good. My partners at the Loop were as good as it gets and we still stay in contact years after we lost the gig. That says something.

Another team that’s turning out to be really great is Jerry’s Kidders. All five of us have a wonderful chemistry and we also have a role. Jerry Agar is the host. Tim Slagle fit in so well with Jerry at WLS because Tim was a listener before Jerry even got there. I got to be the one to hook them both up and I’m very proud of that. They’ve gelled together nicely.

Ken Sevara does voices and is a great guy to hang out with and Kipper McGee is like a George Martin figure. He was the Beatles’ producer and knew how to make them sound a lot better right out of the box. That’s what Kipper does for us. He’s been in our corner all the way since day one at WLS and no matter what he will always be a part of our team.

We’re now on WGN though and Kipper isn’t directly a part of us at the moment. We’ve got to find our niche on the station and their new program director is a guy Jerry’s worked with before up in Minneapolis. I’ve met him a few times and I like him very much. I think he’s very sharp and is a good fit for WGN at this time. We’ll be able to work together and I’m sure it will continue to build but Kipper will eventually get back on our team again.

Another team that’s working out very well is The Chicago Comedy All Stars. I did a gig with them tonight at the Gorton Center in Lake Forest, IL. It was a fundraiser for the Lake Forest Youth Baseball program and that seems to be a paradox. If anyone appears NOT to need any fundraising it’s the people of Lake Forest, IL. They all seem to be squeaking by.

Actually the wealth is amazing. Lake Forest is one of the richest municipalities in North America allegedly and I don’t doubt it for a second. There are huge mansions and a whole lot of Rolls Royces and Mercedes Benzes rolling up and down the main streets. I’ve been through there many times because my ex business partner’s father was a physician there.

I performed at the Gorton Center too back with the Chicago Style Standups a couple of years ago. It’s a really nice venue and the audiences were fantastic last time so I was very much looking forward to coming back again. Jimmy McHugh was with the Chicago Style Standups and he broke off to start his own group. He has his vision of where this will go.

Jimmy is very honest and busts his ass and I really like working with him. This is totally his baby along with his friend Rick Young. Rick is a very good salesman and helps Jim to secure gigs and deal with venues. He presents himself professionally and fits in with us.

The fun part for me is hanging out with the comedians. Jimmy has about a dozen of the Chicago area comics he thinks can grasp the concept of his shows and he intermingles the crew as needed. Sometimes it’s because of availability and other times it’s a matter of the kind of audience that hires us. He can mix and match and come up with a workable show.

Tonight it was Jimmy, Mike Preston, Ken Sevara and myself. That’s a strong show and the audience loved it. With each of us taking turns at the mike we end up doing maybe 20 to 25 minutes at the most. It’s like a night off. We go back and forth to the mike but we’re sitting on stage the whole time in a director’s chair. It’s a fun concept and we all love it.

Again, there’s a real feeling of camaraderie and team with the group and that makes it a lot more fun than it already is. When a good team is clicking the sum truly is greater than the parts. There’s that little intangible ingredient that puts it over the top and it’s only at a time when everything comes together. As I get older I really enjoy being a part of a team.

Jimmy’s doing the best he can do right now and I’m very grateful he includes me in his shows whenever I can make it. We do fit in well together and I genuinely like and respect the guy. He’s funny and honest and works hard and that’s the kind of person to hang with.

The Kidders are in a nice position right now and so are the All Stars. We’re not where we want to be yet but at least we’re in a position to build something. If one of these were to hit pay dirt the other one would be soon to follow. We’re positioning ourselves to win.

This is what’s worthwhile in life. When I focus on this stuff everything else fades away. I like and respect the people on these teams and I want the best for us all. Unfortunately it takes time to build all of these things so the best thing to do now is put my time in wisely.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Magic Formula

Friday May 8th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

I found the magic formula! Actually I’ve always known it but today is when I officially put it into action. I combed through all of the contacts I’ve ever made and compiled a list of people that I think are creative and/or funny and/or both and could possibly contribute to the Jerry’s Kidders bit on WGN. I took my time and really thought about my choices.

Some of them were comedians and some weren’t. Some were in radio and others were ex comedy students and some were just funny people I’ve met in my travels. I know for a fact a lot of people love the process but have no desire or natural ability to be comedians.

To those people being funny is a hobby. They compile jokes and may actually come up with a few good ones themselves but they don’t know how to share them with anyone. A few get published in Reader’s Digest and that’s great but most of their jokes will just rot.

These are the kinds of people that are going to make Jerry’s Kidders great. I sent out my list and it had about 85 people on it. Within about three hours I’d heard from 73 of those people who overwhelmingly said things like “YES - I’ve been waiting for something like this. Put me on your list!” I haven’t had even one no out of all those people. It’s amazing.

Granted, I hand picked that list from a lifetime of contacts but I could just sense a major hunger for something like this in which they could participate. It’s a challenge and kind of like a crossword puzzle in a way. Creative minds like challenges and I was pleased to find that so many of the people I chose were so gung ho about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We’ve had some success on the radio in Chicago for over a year and that’s no small feat but it was only us slugging it out ourselves. We had a blast and did fine but now with this group of talented and creative people behind us from all over North America we’ll put out a MUCH better product in a very short period of time. This is going to be a turning point.

There’s no way we’ll be able to use everyone’s jokes but eventually we’ll make THEM a part of the show. Jerry can read some of the submitted jokes not only by the people that I chose but from others who will find us along the way. We’ll be the clearing house of all the aspiring jokers from not only Chicago but all over the country. We‘ll be their funnel.

Part of Johnny Carson’s success formula was that he shared the spotlight. He’d let some other person shine but the next night they were gone and Johnny was still on doing it over again with someone else. He was secure in his own skin and it worked for thirty years.

That’s what Jerry needs to become. We’re in the studio as the panel of comedians but a whole lot more comics and writers and fans of comedy will be listening and maybe even calling in and sharing their jokes. Almost everyone has ONE good joke. We’ll take them.

I was pleasantly surprised at the positive response I received from all those talented and creative people. We won’t exploit them and in fact I look forward to sharing the spotlight.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Searching For Comedy Class

Thursday May 7th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Back to work today after my little Smokey and the Bandit style cross country gallivant yesterday. I’m glad I could help a friend but now it’s time to help myself. I’m up to about all I can handle with everything I’m working on and even one day away slows me down.

Things are actually pretty good right now but I’m still in the danger zone of unfinished projects that can blow up in my face with no payoff. Comedy classes are one of them. It’s going to take some readjustment to get them where I want them because the battle field is constantly changing due to the steady supply of weasels who seem to want to ‘teach’ one.

I’m still pretty scorched at my ex business partner and his main minion who are still on a mission to make my life miserable apparently. I saw a snide posting the guy made on an independent website and I had all I could do to not call him at 3am and insult him and his bull moose old lady he sponges off of because he’s an aging hippie who never was funny.

Does it piss me off? Absolutely. He flat out stole my idea and isn’t even replicating it in a way that makes the product look good. He’s a money grubbing loser who couldn’t think of his own idea so he had to take mine which has been successful without him since ‘93.

Ditto to my ex partner. I trusted both of those gimokes and they turned around and stuck it in my brown eye with a cattle prod. Who wouldn’t be angry about that? Too bad for me though because nobody else cares. They weren’t violated so to the rest of the world it’s no issue at all. If I go on and on about it I look like the ass even though they are the thieves.

Anger management has been a major problem for me over the years and a major reason for it is my dented can past. I’m not saying that’s right or that I have an excuse but I am at a place in my life where I can objectively look at it from afar rather than blowing my cool.

One of the main reasons I’m not farther along in show business is that I have never been good at playing the politics game. I like who I like and I don’t who I don’t and I’ve had an extremely difficult time hiding my disdain for those I deem to be either an idiot or mean.

It’s especially difficult when someone is both but that’s not the case here. These serpent bastards are not idiots at all. They’re very cunning as a matter of fact. Many times when a person has limited abilities he or she has to rely on other tactics to get over. It isn’t always a bad thing and I’ve seen some people who’ve really been able to get far with their moxie.

I’m the first person to admit when I make a mistake and I’m also not claiming to be any other thing than passionate when I go off on protecting my comedy classes. It’s one of my most positive achievements and it’s taken years and years of hard work to develop them.

I’ve sacrificed a lot of things in my life to get this far and to see some no talent balding yesterday’s news hack bastard come along and pilfer the fruits of my labor it ruffles all of my feathers and sends me into a defense mode. I won’t let anyone steal my heart and soul.

All that being said, there’s a smart way I need to handle all of this. This is THE hardest and most frustrating thing for me to deal with because I’ve blown it so many times in the past. I have a tendency to say what I feel and when it isn’t pretty it tends to make waves.

I never used to worry about it and I’d just let it rip and say what I thought unvarnished. I have no problem putting words together to make my point and if I think someone is a jerk or trying to bully me I’ll really lean into it and go for the jugular. It’s ballsy and I admit it feels good doing it…but only for a while. The backlash usually lingers for many years.

People in those situations have a long memory, especially when they’re insecure and are not able to get by with talent and ability. That tends to make them defensive and when it’s pointed out that they’re untalented blood suckers they don’t usually react to it positively.

That’s human nature and I should know it by now but many times my temper has taken over at exactly the wrong time and I’ve unleashed an atomic verbal blast or two that has caused me much ill will, especially from strangers who have never met me personally.

Had I called the dufus or sent out a scathing email I thought about it would be over and I’d feel better and have moved on. He would still have it and send it to those who think I am a wank stick and negative momentum would be building and I wouldn’t even know it.

This is SO difficult for me. Amy Winehouse has a hard time staying away from heroin. I have a hard time not driving over to this ass bag’s trailer and getting right in both of the faces of he and his wart hog she beast cloven hoofed balloon ass old lady who looks like Lily Munster after a funeral parlor gang bang and telling them to stop stealing my idea.

But I can’t do that. Well, I guess I could but why waste my energy? I used to have a lot of this angst pulsating through my veins and I couldn’t wait to let it out but now I’m older and have acquired the ability to think at least a little bit before I plow ahead into stupidity.

What’s the smart thing to do here? Make MY classes even better. I know what I can do to make class fun and I’ve been doing it for many years. I also know it takes a major dose of HARD WORK to do it and neither of those two lazy bastards will put in that effort to make it a winner in the long run. They’re bugging me now but I can outwork them both.

That’s what I need to do with all this emotion I’m feeling right now. It would feel good to let them both have it but they apparently aren’t going to stop any time soon so all I will be doing is taking time and effort away from what I’m doing, and I know I have a gift for both teaching and performing. Those two are just trying to scam a buck and suckle a teat.

I’m not perfect or without blame in life and I never claimed to be but this issue is a raw bloody scab with me. Someone has invaded my inner creative space and raped me with an axe handle with an idea I was willing to share within reason. They’re trying to suck it all up for themselves and yes I’m steamed like a giant lobster about it. I need to tiptoe gently through this minefield before I do anything stupid. There’s too much else good going on.