Friday, July 31, 2009

Making The Rounds

Thursday July 30th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

The number one ingredient of making dreams come true is ACTION. Dreams are where it all starts but without action they rot. Too many people have a lifetime of dreams rotting on the vine and I don’t want to join them. I want to press on and make something happen.

That’s what I tried to do today as I realized the month and year and life are slipping into the past faster than I can keep up. It’s that way for everyone and unless action is taken I’ll be just like everyone else. It’s easy to sit still and let life pass by but I want to be different.

I want to tap into as many people’s positive creative energy as possible. I will hand pick those I think I can mesh with and try to team up. Kip Karstedt is a voice over wizard with a ton of talent that was part of a group that did some recorded comedy bits in 2004 when I worked at the Loop. We’ve kept in contact and he lives very close to me in Lindenhurst.

One of the production guys at the Loop was named Bob Dunsworth who is also a major voice talent and a very funny guy too. He knew an actor named Josh Swanson who knew an improv guy named T.J. Jagadowski who does national TV commercials for the Sonic chain. I knew Bob from work and he asked if I wanted to sit in and be part of the group.

We never did come up with a name but we sure did have a blast creating funny material and we managed to put together a CD length compilation of bits we wrote and recorded at that time. Our official name became ‘The Unnamed Audio Project’ which kind of became a joke in itself but there’s no doubt there was a lot of talent and spark with that bunch.

Bob Dunsworth moved to L.A. and is doing well and Joshua Swanson is still acting and is always going back and forth between L.A. and New York and Chicago. T.J. is a master at improv and teaches and performs at Improv Olympic and Kip does commercials out of a studio in his house. These are the kind of creative people I want to be around in my life.

Kip saw my TV shot and was very complimentary. He misses the fun we had recording those bits as much as I do and he said he’d like to start back up doing it again. I’ve always wanted to have a crew of people to do bits like that because nobody’s really doing that on a regular basis. Firesign Theatre and Cheech and Chong are the last ones to use that style.

After lunch with Kip I went to Bill Gorgo’s house to work on comedy class lessons. He is an actual high school teacher by trade and has a lot to offer as far as teaching me how I should organize my lessons so that was worth the trip into the city. We worked very hard but also got a lot done and I could feel the creative energy between us the whole time.

After that I went to meet with Jerry Agar about Jerry’s Kidders and how we can move it along so we can do some live shows and generate some income. We also bounced around some ideas about Uranus Factory Outlet with his sons and they added to the mix as well. I don’t care where the ideas come from, I just want to generate them so I can begin to take action and make something good happen. I put in a full day’s work making connections.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's Really Important

Wednesday July 29th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

My tiny little batch of inconveniences in life really don’t add up to much compared to the real problems some people have. I received a call today from Dr. Destruction, one of my co-hosts on The Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha on AM 1050 WLIP.

Today is his birthday but he’s not one for birthdays and holidays. I’ve grown to be good friends with him because although he looks like one of my father’s motorcycle gang thugs the guy has a heart of gold and is a very kind soul. I don’t know why we crossed paths but I’m glad we did. He adds to the radio show and is a character in his own right. I’m a fan.

The Doc was really down today because of a shooting in Kenosha last Sunday that I had heard about but it didn’t really hit home. I guess I’ve been jaded by living in cities for the better part of my life and it just gets to be numbers after a while. I feel bad but it’s true.

Apparently two total scumbags were trying to rob an ice cream stand and they shot two of the employees, one of them the 18 year old son of a friend of The Doc’s. He was really down and I felt bad for him but as a friend I wanted to let him talk about it. He said it was hard for him to talk about it and he was broken up about it since it happened. I see why.

I used to work at a frozen custard stand called Town Pride in Milwaukee when I was in high school. It’s gone now but back then it was a hopping joint in the summer. One night I was working late and after closing some punks came up to the window and one of them pointed a gun at me for just a couple of seconds and then started laughing like a hyena.

He didn’t rob me and it was only a couple of seconds but I felt a terror I’d never felt and thankfully I haven’t since. Every time I hear a gun story I can only imagine what the ones shot at actually feel before anyone pulls the trigger. I really feel for the families of the two victims, even though one of the people lived. He’s 43 but his life will never be the same.

The 18 year old kid was by all accounts a good kid who didn’t do drugs and worked at a job to earn some honest money. Why do these people have to keep dying and the maggots who shoot them get to live? I can’t see it and whatever the reason may be is lost on me.

The Doc thanked me for letting me talk about it and I thanked him for calling. He’s got a heart but who couldn’t help but feel sad to hear a story like this? I have nothing to bitch about in comparison and my little issues with anything pale in comparison. My life is ok.

I had lunch with Marc Schultz before I received the call and we talked about how to get the most mileage out of my TV appearance. He has some ideas and so do I so we kicked it around along with how I can make this ex partner thing disappear before it gets ugly.

I want the guy to stop using my name and get out of my life forever. Period. Life has no guarantees and I don’t want to waste a day of mine dealing with leakers. Wasting time on anything but doing good doesn’t seem worth it. This was another reminder to be grateful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Real Work Starts Now

Tuesday July 28th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Now is when the real work starts. I’ve been struggling for years and years to build up an act that works and I’ve done that. It wasn’t easy and I’m still improving but I’ve achieved a level of competence most comics never attain. One might think that would be enough to insure a steady income and relatively bump free road after that, but one would be wrong.

People have been absolutely fantastic in their words of congratulations but there’s not a guarantee that this will lead to anything bigger and in fact I know it won’t if I don’t make the effort myself. I was able to make this happen but I’ll be the first one to admit it took a twist of good luck to push it over the top. Luck does play a significant role in this process.

Someone has to see me who has the power to open doors that I can’t open myself. I did get some very positive feedback from many people and I appreciate it. David Letterman’s comedy booker is Eddie Brill, who is also a very funny comedian. Eddie sent me an email that said “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” He knows who I am now and that’s a plus.

Frank Caliendo sent me a nice email as well. I was very happy for Frank when he got an appearance on national television and they kept coming for him after that. I was happy for him even though I know a lot of people were jealous. Not me. He’s great at what he does and I don’t do anything close to it so he’s unique. It was very nice to hear from him today.

I know that a lot of people saw it that I don’t even know about. I need to find those who can help me and use this to make contact. Maybe someone will contact me but I won’t be sitting around waiting for that to happen. I need to take action and keep the ball rolling so I don’t waste all this hard work. A lot of comics make one TV appearance and that’s it.

I don’t want that to be me. As great of an experience as it was I don’t want that to be my highlight in life. I have a lot more to give and this was just a starting point. I have a whole lot more material and now I’m familiar with how the process works. This was education.

Jerry Agar called me tonight and said most of his family was out doing things and asked if I wanted to come over and hang out with him and his son Cooper who’s turning 14 this coming Friday. Cooper loves comedy and entertainment in general so I suggested that we watch Jerry Seinfeld’s movie ‘Comedian’. After all these years I still had never seen it.

I’ve heard a lot about it and I knew the general idea but I’m SO glad I waited until now to see it. It had a whole new perspective after I made my first TV appearance and I caught a lot of things I might not have had I seen it earlier. An example is Jerry Seinfeld talking about how he felt after his Letterman set. He said it was like his first Tonight Show shot.

He mentioned that after he got off stage he had no idea what happened and I felt exactly the same way when I finished my set. I also watched Orny Adams who I’ve met at Zanies in Vernon Hills a few years ago. He was thinking about everything else but just enjoying his national TV debut and I can totally see how that can happen. I‘m glad I didn‘t do that.

I’m not blaming a guy like Orny. A lot of people had a lot of bad things to say about his attitude and for years I’ve heard rips about his role in the film. I’ve met a ton of guys just like him so I guess I don’t think he was so bad. I think he didn’t have his head on straight at first but in his later interview on the DVD I could see that he was starting to mature.

This is a HARD business. Period. Life itself is difficult but not like comedy. Making an audience of strangers laugh time after time in town after town is about as tough as it gets. It takes a lot of perseverance and guts and although talent may not hurt it isn’t a priority.

The fact is, a lot of people have some modicum of talent. I’m finding out it’s what one does with it that determines success or failure. I’ve messed up more than most but it’s my educational process that has brought me to the good place I am today. I hope I am able to stay in this wonderful mindset because if I do I’ll be able to accomplish a whole lot more.

All this flatulence with my ex partner is not going to get me down. Why? I won’t let it. I have seen the overwhelming outpouring of positive wishes and congratulations from a ton of people from all over the world and I am going to choose to direct my attention to them.

It was great hearing from Frank Caliendo and Eddie Brill and I’m sure I’ll keep hearing from people but the highlight of my day was hearing from Miss Roberts, the librarian that launched my career at the North Milwaukee Public Library all those years ago. She’s still very much alive much to my delight and her email put a smile on my face that I still have.

On top of it all it was her birthday too! That made me feel great and she said she gets all kinds of people in their 30’s and 40’s who recognize her and come up and say hi. What an outstanding legacy that is to leave knowing that children’s lives were shaped for good.

She sure did good by me and I thanked her and apologized for stealing her $5. She said she might be able to come out to Giggles in Brookfield, WI when I’m there in a couple of weeks and I really hope she does. I want to do something nice for her and get our picture together so I can put it on my website and pay tribute to her. She made a difference in life.

The more insanity I see bouncing around the more it makes me want to be even kinder to people and grow as a person. Comedy is great and I love it but I am not a fame junkie that needs to use recognition as a drug. Was Elvis famous? Sure. How did that work out as far as solving all his problems? Michael Jackson too. They were still flawed humans.

I’m nuttier than a squirrel turd myself and I’ve never denied it but I will say that I’m on a positive roll right now none of the bad things are touching me at all. Knowing that I’ve reconnected with Miss Roberts after so long is a thrill. I hope I can bring a smile to her.

That’s what it’s all about. I’m not trying to sound like Sammy Davis Dr. but just taking a minute to tell someone they are appreciated is a magic self esteem builder all around. If I can do that for someone every day I feel like I‘m doing my job. This is not a time to stop doing what I‘ve been doing my whole life. It‘s a time to turn it up a notch or two. Or six.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The End Of The Party

Monday July 27th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Wow, when the party ends for Mr. Lucky that thing is OVER. Back to my regular life in Luckyland and I can’t say I relish it. It’s like I was wearing the same pair of underwear for a month and then had a full shower, massage, spa treatment and sauna. How would it feel to have to put those old disgusting funky ones back on again? That’s how I feel right now.

My problems have always come in clumps and clusters and today I had to deal with that once again. I’m used to it but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, especially after the event of my life and all the wonderful feelings that went with it. I came back to Earth but quick.

I don’t even know where to start. My radiator is just about to blow and I am nursing my car around hoping it doesn’t explode like the Space Shuttle before I can get it back to the auction. If I take a loss on that car I’ll be even more in the hole than I already am. People think I’m rich because I got on TV for five minutes but that’s totally not the case at all.

Then, my tooth situation is still there. I had to be at the dentist at 1:30 today and fought nasty traffic and construction in a boiling car with no air conditioning wondering if I’d be on time to get drilled on to cause physical pain and then have to pay for it all by myself.

I did end up getting there on time but just barely. I was under high stress that got higher as the drill poked me like brushing my teeth with a porcupine. They fixed my tooth but it still could cost a ton and I have to be extra careful or it will end up being a catastrophe.

There’s nothing I can do about it and have to shut up and pay. It will wipe me out but it can’t be avoided. Period. My car situation isn’t great either and I bought another one that has no guarantees of it not blowing up either. I’m taking a chance with another rot rod.

That was plenty to worry about for the day but I had to be at Zanies to teach a class and host the rising star showcase show. Class is fun but not a money maker right now. We are putting it back together after my ex partner’s little fiasco and now he has decided to come back uninvited and try to vulturize my shining moment. I’m so angry I could pop a vein.

I heard from a lot of people that he is circulating some email ‘congratulating’ me for my network TV appearance and then directing people to a website that he flat out stole from Jerry Agar. There is allegedly an email that is ‘’ which is NOT mine and I don’t endorse it in any way. Also, is the site in question.

That was a site Jerry Agar bought and paid for in 1997 as part of the audio program we created called “Be Funny Make Money”. Jerry financed it and I came up with the lessons and we worked very hard on it when both of us were really struggling. This really hurts.

I was in L.A. and trying to dodge bank robbery charges and Jerry had just lost his radio job in Tucson, AZ. We both put a lot of time and effort into that project because we had no money and we poured our souls into it. To have all this happen now is a big insult.

Why can’t this creep just go away and leave me alone? He has never been on a comedy stage in his life and it’s never been his passion. I knew the guy going on 20 years and he never really had much passion about anything except trying to find a way to get the quick buck. He tried all kinds of get rich quick schemes and I guess he thinks this one works.

I remember seeing on VH-1’s “Behind The Music” that Creedence Clearwater Revival had some record company weasel that butted heads with John Fogerty, who was the main creative source of that band. He cranked out the hits and had the passion but the oil can at the record company was a parasite and ended up suing and it got very ugly. I feel for him.

Creative types aren’t very good when it comes to business issues and even though I’m a lot better than I used to be I still have a long way to go with my own situation. I thought it might be turning a corner as I hadn’t heard anything about that guy in a while but now it’s back like a case of athlete’s foot and I don’t know what to do except try to sever the ties.

I don’t wish anything bad on the guy, I just want him GONE. Out of my life forever is a worthy goal and I thought I was on my way there until I heard about this. Now I see this is not going to be as cut and dried as I thought so I guess I have to reassess the whole thing.

It’s a good thing I’m still in a very positive mindset and I really am. Had this happened at a different time I may have done something stupid and if he keeps trying to screw with me I still might. I don’t want to think about that though. I want to think about fun things.

The fact is, I managed to get myself on national television as a standup comic using my own method of comedy which I now call ‘The Maxwell Method’. I have developed it for many years and evidently it WORKS, or I wouldn’t have been able to stay in the business this long. The TV shot was a nice payoff and adds a lot of credibility to what I’ve created.

I am going to keep on performing and keep on teaching and NOBODY on this planet is going to stop me from doing it. I will improve and keep working as hard as I can to make sure I’m at the top of my game so anyone with a brain who compares can see my method is the original and the better product. I have to take my personal feelings out of all of this.

In the past that’s been extremely difficult for me and I can’t guarantee it won’t continue to be like that in the future but for now I am bulletproof and just wrinkle my nose at all of his piss ant little attempts to horn in on what I’ve worked for for a lifetime. That’s slimy.

But there are many slime balls on this Earth and quite a few of them are slinking around at the lower levels of show business. I’m sure some of them even crawl up the sewer pipe and make it a little higher up the chain. I know I’m not the only one who’s ever had to get rid of a past business partner and eventually this will be over with one way or another.

The more I can just keep a good reputation growing and pile up satisfied customers they will keep the word going in my favor. The ones who can’t stand me already do so that’s a hornet’s nest that can’t hurt me any more than it does now. Welcome back to real life.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back To My Future

Sunday July 26th, 2009 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

As spectacular as this party has been, it’s time to pop the clutch and switch gears. I had THE best few days of my entire life and no matter what else happens this will be an event that will stand out as a stellar highlight for me. Not everyone gets that chance to live their life’s dream but I’ve had quite a few actually. None of them compare to this one though.

What I’ve done is hopefully put myself in a position to open some doors and take it to a new plateau. I’ve always talked about that ‘elusive higher level’ but maybe it’s not all that elusive now. It doesn’t matter HOW I got on network TV, all that matters is that I did it.

The reality is I may never do it again but at least I was able to do it once and that’s not a simple task. Nobody can build a career without the first one and now I’ve done that. What I do next will determine if and when it happens again. I need to make some smart choices.

The next logical step for me would be representation. There is only so much I can do by myself and I’m getting close to having done that. I need someone representing me so I can get more TV opportunities and who knows what else? I have a lot of things to offer and it would be to everyone’s advantage to have someone out there shopping me around now.

I know I’m not ‘there’ yet and one little spot can be forgotten about quickly. I’m still on a high from being on TV last week but the fact is Craig Ferguson has done more shows in the mean time and will continue to do more. He’s got a career. I’m hoping to build one.

A quick word about Craig Ferguson: I happen to find the guy extremely funny and I am thrilled I was able to appear on his show for my network debut. I am a fan and he’s also a dented can that is in there fighting every day. I respect him very much and would love it if I could be a regular on that show at some point. I know he and I would hit it off very well.

Johnny Carson loved Rodney Dangerfield and they hit it off. That lasted for years and it put Rodney on the map. If Craig Ferguson and I bonded like that it could catapult me to a spot I’ve always dreamed of and it feels like I am standing at the door now. Will it open?

That remains to be seen. I’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of decisions to make. This is like a puzzle or a chess game and I love those but each move is now very important. If I blow something now it could take me out of the game forever and I sure don’t want that. I waited to long to get here for a chance to play it so I have to think extra carefully now.

I have to come in with a clear head and humble attitude. I’m not cocky because I know I am still the underdog. I don’t ever want to get full of myself or believe my own press and lose touch of reality. I want to be in the right mindset and I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

The standards I have set for myself are far and away light years from what everyone else expects. I am nowhere near where I want to be even though I do feel I’m improving every part of myself all the time. The last thing I need to do now is think I’m a big comedy star.

The fact is, that studio audience was FANTASTIC. Period. For however many times I’d been on any stage anywhere, that particular group of people on that particular day had my back and laughed at exactly the right places and I will be forever grateful to my dying day to every one of them. That set will be how a vast number of people will get to meet me.

The vibe for those 4 ½ minutes was pure electricity and it happened at exactly the right time. I’ve had audiences like that before but the only ones who will ever see those shows were those who were there on that night. Even if it was 300 people in a comedy club that won’t do me much good the next morning. In this case I caught lightning in a TV bottle.

It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t perfect in my eyes and it totally wasn’t. I know it wasn’t even close to what I can do but nobody else does, or even cares. Fine by me. That means I have plenty of room for improvement and the next few times I’ll raise the bar even more.

I’ll be able to absolutely guarantee I’ll be better next time but there’s no way I’ll ever be able to predict what the audience will be like. Woody Allen talked about how it’s not able to be controlled and I totally agree. It’s the luck of the draw and I drew a winner this time. It’s recorded forever and now I’ll be able to show it to bookers for potential future work.

Next time it could be completely different but I’ll worry about that then. For now I’m in the position of being the ‘hot new guy’ even though I’ve been doing this a lifetime. There are a lot of people both in the public and in the industry who will see this and take notice.

I’ve got some positive attention and have made a hot first impression and that’s a pretty good start but the next question people will have is can I back it up? YES, YES, YES! I’ll be able to come back and take it even higher because I didn’t touch a lick of my polished and proven material this time. I took a major risk by trying to establish my character first.

It will pay off handsomely later because I’ll have material that’s been honed in clubs for years ready to serve up to a TV audience and I’ll be in my element then. Getting this first one out of the way was a major step and I’m thrilled it went so well. It was a training day.
To have as many people react to it as positively as they have has been a dream come true.

The fact remains that my tooth is still broken and my credit still rots and my car is still a time bomb I bought from the auction and I’m still living in a basement like a spider when most other people my age are starting to plan for retirement. Whatever ‘normal’ might be defined as has never been me so I guess I’ll have to custom make a happy life for myself.

If nothing else at least I’ve made it a priority in my life to have some FUN. Nobody else in my immediate family seems to have made that decision and maybe that’s why most of them ignore me. I wish we could all get along and be happy but that isn’t how it’s been.

The people I do get along with and am happy to be around are the crews of both Jerry’s Kidders and The Mothership Connection. Tonight was a super hot show in Kenosha and again calls of congratulations kept coming all night. Let‘s see what‘s next on the agenda.

King For Another Day

Saturday July 25th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

And the hits just keep on coming! I thought all the fuss would have started to fade away by now but I got to be king for another day. This is by far the most attention I’ve ever had and the good thing is it’s all been positive. Jeffrey Dahmer got world wide attention when he broke but I’m sure he didn’t feel good about it. This is completely different. I love this.

I love it for many reasons. One, I think I’m in the right mindset to really enjoy it. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me and it happened in exactly the right way. I earned this from many years of hard work but there was also some luck involved too, and it was good luck for a change. Mr. Lucky is a character but Dobie Maxwell caught a gigantic break.

I’m not going to ask questions or second guess or do anything but enjoy this moment. If nothing else ever comes of it it’s already been the most amazing good experience I’ve had in what feels like a sea of bad ones. If it took the bad ones to get to feel this then so be it.

The hot streak continued today as we gathered for our Jerry’s Kidders bit on WGN. We sometimes get to be on individually before our segment with a ‘get to know your Kidder’ bit where Jerry interviews one of us individually so listeners can hear what we sound like and learn a little bit about each of us. It’s a good idea and today we did it as a full crew.

I was running late because traffic was thick and I have a long way to drive to get to the studio. When I finally got downtown I was held up by the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile of all things and I took out my cell phone and clicked a picture of it. That’s a perfect way for Mr. Lucky to get held up for an appointment and I laughed even though it made me late.

By the time I parked my car and hustled up to the studio I squeaked in by the skin of my teeth with under a minute to spare. I really can’t stand doing that but that’s how it worked out. It sure wasn’t the first time it’s happened and I had zero time to get ready for our bit. I was out of breath and disorganized and that’s never a good way to be right before a gig.

The commercials ended and Jerry brought up the fact that I was just on network TV and the guys made a big deal of it. The producer played a couple of sound bites of it and I still don’t enjoy hearing myself but having it played on WGN in Chicago is never a bad thing. It exposed me to thousands of new people who most likely didn’t get to catch the show.

Ken Sevara and Tim Slagle were very kind and said some unbelievably flattering things about me as I sat there and again it was like a dream come true. Who doesn’t want friends who not only say nice things about you but do it to your face live on the air on one of the biggest radio stations in America? It doesn’t get any better than that and I won’t forget it.

Then we came right back and did our regular Kidders segment and I thought it was way off our usual rhythm. I personally didn’t think we nailed it at all but I didn’t want to bring it up and ruin the good vibe. I never know what the listeners think and for all I know they could have thought we finally nailed a funny one. It really doesn’t matter what I think.

Even if we did stink today, that happens on occasion and it won’t kill anybody. Nobody will care and as long as Jerry still has a job we’ll be back next week and get to tee up and take another swing. That’s what entertainment is all about. Once doesn’t define a career.

Every performance is a brick and the challenge is to shape all those bricks into whatever kind of structure a performer wants to build. Bricks can be used to build walls or they can be used to build bridges. I like bridges. They connect. Walls separate. I am a connector.

I’m also a reconnector and that’s what this whole experience has done. I’ve been able to reconnect with all kinds of people I haven’t spoken to in a while and one of them is a guy named Mike Sweeney I used to work with in Kenosha when I was doing morning radio.

It’s the same building I do my Mothership Connection radio show now but I worked for the country station then, which no longer even exists. Mike was part of an up and coming crew of hungry twenty somethings then and many went on to do bigger things. Mike went on to be a program director in Decatur and is extremely sharp as were most of those guys.

Unfortunately Mike got a face full of radio insanity and is no longer in the business. He got fired in Decatur for no real reason other than they wanted to make a change and that’s no way to have to live a life. He got the hint early and decided to take a much safer path.

He was ecstatic that I was on TV and I was very flattered to hear from him immediately after it aired. He had an extra Cubs ticket today so immediately after the Kidders I left so I could meet Mike rather than hang for our traditional weekly Kidders lunch. It’s good to have so many options of good friends to hang out with and I recognized that immediately.

How can anyone not have a great time at Wrigley Field on a perfect summer day? It’s a blast just being there and getting a free ticket put it off the charts. Mike and I had hotdogs and caught up and really had a lot of fun. He wanted to know all the details of the process of how I got on the show and he was amazed it was my first shot. He thinks I’m big time.

The thing that really stood out was that after being on national TV once I received lots of positive energy from people I knew and it was wonderful. Three days later I was out in front of 40,000 people and didn’t get recognized ONCE. That puts it into perspective. I’m not ‘famous’ and I’m no better or worse than anyone else. I need to keep that in full view.

After the game I went out to Comedy Comedy in Aurora to visit my friend Dennis Ross who was performing there this week. He’s from New Jersey and one of the nicest comics in the business. Any time he’s anywhere close by I have to see him and I’m glad I did. He couldn’t have been any more thrilled for the TV shot and was gushing about it afterwards in the restaurant as we were hanging out and I filled him in. Even the waitress noticed it.

This has all been a total life changer but now it’s time to get back to work. Winning the Super Bowl is great but there’s always next season and something new to strive for. I got more than I expected out of this experience and I’m grateful. Now it’s time to move on.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank You Miss Roberts

Friday July 24th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

I have a friend from out of town that had a job interview today in Milwaukee. He knew I’m from there and asked if I’d go up and show him around and make sure he was able to find the place he needed to be. I really didn’t want to go but he asked nicely so I said yes.

One place I haven’t been in years is the public library my grandpa used to take me to as a kid. It used to be called the North Milwaukee Library but now it’s referred to as Villard Avenue Library for whatever reason. I parked my car and went in to take a quick lap and check my email. The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was the library smell.

I used to love going to the library with Gramps as a kid. We’d go at least one night each week and I couldn’t wait. I’d read books there but also bring some home and Gramps had me show him which books I was planning to take home and make sure they were going to challenge me and not just be filled with pictures. He was in my corner more than I knew.

There was a librarian there named Miss Roberts who used to help me find books all the time. She was there for years and I think Gramps might have had the hots for her. She had the typical librarian look but she was far from ugly and she totally loved helping people to find the right books. One week she helped me find a book on ventriloquism and I loved it.

I was maybe 12 or 13 but that book really hooked me in. I ended up getting more books on the topic and I asked for a ventriloquist dummy for Christmas and got it. Miss Roberts asked if I’d want to do a show for the kids at the library and I thought I was Willie Tyler.

My show was horrible and I blanked out on my lines and I remember feeling that sting of major disappointment as I limped out of that room. Miss Roberts came out and lied I was wonderful and handed me a check for $5 which added rocket fuel to my self esteem.

Gramps didn’t get to see me perform that day and I’m glad he didn’t. I would have been very embarrassed and then he died before he ever saw me do comedy at all. If he was able to see me on network TV I know he was screaming and cheering the loudest of anybody.

I talked to the head librarian today and asked him if he knew of Miss Roberts and how I could check if she was still living. He looked her up and said he found a listing but wasn’t sure if it was the same one I was talking about. He promised he’d research it and get back to me if indeed it was her and I told him I needed to apologize for stealing her five bucks.

I really do hope she’s still living and if she is I’m going to send her some flowers or try to find out something she really likes and make her day and say thanks for encouraging a dented can kid who could have really turned out in a bad way. She had no idea how much her $5 meant to a hurting kid and it parlayed all the way into a shot on network television.

I sure hope something I do in my life pays off a dividend like that. If she’s still alive I’ll find her and thank her and if she isn’t she lives on in me. THANK YOU Miss Roberts!

The Amazing Adventure Continues!

Thursday July 23rd, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

One day after the biggest night of my life and the buzz is getting even better. What a big deal this is turning out to be for other people, WAY more than I ever expected. I’ve never been the recipient of such positive energy from so many people from all over the country.

Dented cans have a hard time accepting compliments. Most of us have been mocked for so long and ridiculed by those closest to us that something inside us tells us we don’t ever deserve something good to happen. When a compliment comes our way we shrug it off or attack the person who gives it by saying something like ‘Thanks, but I thought I sucked.’

That usually squelches it right there and the person who gives the compliment usually is in an awkward position and then the conversation is either over or moves on to something totally different. It’s ok to accept a compliment and I have forced myself to learn to do it.

I’m glad I did because there was a deluge of them all day and all night on my phone and in my email. I heard from people I went to grade school with, high school, worked with at jobs before and while I was a comedian, relatives, neighbors, anyone and everyone who’s crossed paths with me at one point or another contacted me to congratulate me. Almost.

It would have been nice to hear from my siblings but I didn’t. I’m not sure if my mother is living or dead and if she was going to contact me I’d have to believe it would be now. I haven’t heard anything from her since 1993, which is the last time I spoke with my sister.

None of that got me down today because I was hearing from so many people who were bubbling over with joy either because they knew I’d be on TV and was or they didn’t and seeing me totally shocked them. Either way, everybody was beside themselves with glee.

How fantastic does it feel to have the phone keep ringing all day with people saying the nicest things anyone could imagine and not having it quit? Cloud 9 is the toilet compared to what that feels like and the whole day was like that. It took me an entire lifetime to get to know how to properly deal with it but I did and it was SO special to feel it all day long.

The D List on ESPN Radio 540 in Milwaukee called and asked me to come and sit in to talk about the whole experience and of course I was happy to do that. Drew and Dan have always been in my corner as has everyone else at the station from Matt “Fish” Salmon the producer to Bill Johnson the PD to Steve “The Homer” True to owner Craig Karmazin.

Whatever problems I’ve had with other radio stations in Milwaukee are over with in my eyes. They think what they think but I went on the radio today and apologized to all of the radio people I may have pissed off in the past and I meant it. I’m in a solid mind set now.

I even thanked the guy at the club in town who still owes me $400 because that’s really the main thing that motivated me to leave town and get good and become a real headliner. That $400 was tuition and I used it to educate myself and learn my craft to the very core.

Days like this don’t come along very often and I knew it from the start so I decided that I was just going to enjoy it all and not think of anything else. The future is what it is but it took SO long to get here that I didn’t want to let one second of the day go unappreciated.

Drew and Dan were extremely kind to me and Fish played clips from my set even if that is pure torture for me, and it is. I can’t stand watching or listening to myself and never did as long as I can remember. Maybe that’s another dent I need to pound out of my can but it wasn’t done with malice. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. They played it as a tribute.

Callers and emailers were extremely kind and I even got a pizza sent over to the station in my honor from Zaffiro’s with my name written on the inside of the box in a dark magic marker. It said ‘DOBIE MAXWELL - CONGRATULATIONS!’ That really felt fantastic.

I used to live not far from Zaffiro’s and I absolutely love their pizza. It’s thin crust and a Milwaukee institution and what a treat it was to enjoy the pizza on my very special day on the radio where people were all telling me I was hilarious. It’s what everybody dreams of. Most people never get that and even fewer dented cans do. But I did. And it’s spectacular.

After the radio show my phone was full of even more messages from well wishers and a lot of people who heard me on the air. Richard Halasz called and he’s a Milwaukee comic I’ve known since I started. He was beaming about the show and we went to celebrate it at our favorite restaurant, Crawdaddy’s in West Allis. Whenever we can hook up it’s there.

After that I drove out to Giggles Comedy Pub in Brookfield where I will be performing August 13-15th. I was on such a high I didn’t want to waste it and went up for a guest set. It was only five minutes but I wanted to do what I love the best - perform for an audience.

Phone calls kept coming in and when I got home I was swamped with even more emails than before. One of them really caught my eye and it wasn’t from anyone I know that well at all. We’ve met a few times and are friendly but he sent a wonderful email saying how it could be easy to pick apart the bad parts and second guess what went wrong in my eyes.

He’s totally right. That’s what a dented can would do. Instead he said to enjoy it all and know very few ever get to do this and relish it for all the right reasons. I will keep it for as long as I live and I asked him for permission to share it with my students. It’s powerful.

The fact is that I really did deserve a shot on national television. I’ve been blessed with some comedic ability and I also paid my dues and even with the mistakes I made and bad breaks I had it was an amazing feat to get the shot. Was I lucky? Yes, but I earned it too.

It would have been nice to get it when I was 26 but I know I wasn’t ready then. I’m very ready now though and I know I can handle myself like a professional should more of this come my way. Why wouldn’t it? Why SHOULDN’T it? I really do think I have a chance to parlay this into other things and it’s up to me to decide what to do and where I want to go. But that’s not for today. This was a day I allowed myself to enjoy my biggest night.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Biggest Night Of My Life!

Wednesday July 22nd, 2009 - Chicago, IL

The dented can has landed! What an emotion packed experience today was and it took a lifetime of hellacious struggle to both achieve and appreciate it. Had I known back when I started it would be this difficult I have to say I may not have made it to tonight’s payoff.

But I did. And I’m thrilled. I feel like I knocked out the champ and climbed Mt. Everest by myself all in one day. I feel emotionally and physically drained right now but it’s not a bad feeling at all. It’s what Vince Lombardi talked about when someone gives their all at something and there’s nothing else left to give. After all these years I’m finally legitimate.

I really wasn’t 100% sure my segment was going to air on The Late Late Show even if I did hear from the talent coordinator yesterday. They’d switched it around a few times and I must admit I was a little apprehensive about it airing at all. Unfortunately that’s how the dented can mind thinks. We’ve been disappointed so often in life we come to expect it.

That’s not an easy pattern to break especially when it’s drilled into the very fiber of our beings as children but this wasn’t the day to think about that. I was told it would air and if it didn’t, life would still go on. I did have an appearance on CBS 2 Chicago this morning to promote the later appearance so at least I’d get to be on a local station. I was excited.

Rick Gieser is the publicist for Zanies and we’ve been friends a long time. He got me in with a phone call and I wanted to take advantage of my big night, if indeed it was to come off after all. I was on with Roseanne Tellez who is a Chicago TV icon and a total stunner.

She was even more gorgeous in person than on TV but she was also friendly, intelligent and down to earth too. This was no propped up news bimbo. She came prepared and even asked me about comedy classes, which I totally didn’t expect. I thought she was a real pro and I see why she’s stayed on TV in Chicago this long. But how does she stay so young?

It cost me $20 to park but it was an investment in my career. I received several calls that I didn’t expect from people who were watching and that alone made the trip worth a drive into the city in rainy weather and road construction. This was my day to enjoy so I wasn’t upset at all. Tomorrow I may be a schmuck again but this was my “King For A Day” day.

After the TV shot I was too late to head up to Milwaukee to be on ‘The D List’ with my friends Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I really wanted to but I couldn’t make it in time so I went home to check emails to see if I’d heard anything as to whether the show would air or not. I didn’t receive any emails from CBS so I ended up going over to the car auction.

My one Toyota Camry sold and I plan on selling the other ASAP. I need a new vibe all around in my life so I wanted to see if there was anything that might interest me. Since it was scheduled to be my network TV debut and also George Clinton’s birthday I figured it would be a good day to pick a different car and start over, which is what I did. I bought an extremely clean one owner ‘96 Toyota Corolla. It’s cherry red and very clean and I like it.

After the auction I went to have .15 chicken wings with my friend Sheri who used to be a Zanies manager in Vernon Hills. She just bought a house out in Island Lake and there is a great place there that has wing specials and they’re delicious. Sheri is fun because she’s into show business stuff and knows about comedy. She was excited about the whole deal.

I won’t deny that part of me was really afraid that it wouldn’t air at all tonight. Yes, it’s hilarious that Mr. Lucky would get bumped on his network TV debut but there’s part of a dented can’s deepest darkest brain that really does expect it. I think back to all the broken promises of my father and being abandoned by my mother and it really does bother me.

It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if they bumped it to Friday but it’s been four months since the taping and I just wanted it OVER with. I nodded out for a while just as I saw it was probably time for it to air if it indeed was going to and when I woke up I saw a pile of emails and my phone had a pile of messages and texts and I cried like a little baby.

I read email after email and text after text of congratulations and support and dare I say it…love? Damn…I don’t think I’ve ever felt love in my life and it overwhelmed me in an extremely positive way. Tears flowed down my cheeks as they kept coming and coming.

I always dreamed of this day and quite honestly I was probably ready as a comic several years ago. Mentally and spiritually this is coming at a perfect time, even though it’s a late start as far as TV debuts go. I won’t blow it though. I’m SO ready for some opportunities.

I used to dream of getting on TV only so I could ‘stick it in the ass’ of my father or that club owner in Milwaukee who to this day owes me $400. That was the wrong reason and I know that now. Are the people I’ve clashed with total bastards? A few maybe, but that’s not even something I want to think about. I want to use this achievement to spread good.

I want to inspire other dented cans to never EVER give up and acknowledge those who are great souls but may never get to experience the thrill of standing on that stage with the TV cameras rolling. It really was a tremendous thrill and it took my entire life to attain it.

This high is going to be hard to beat but I want to try. I also want to dedicate this whole experience to my grandfather, my comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis and also the funniest comedian of all time in my opinion - Rodney Dangerfield. This day was for them as well.

I also remember my friend Jimmy Miller who died of leukemia at 37 in 1993. He was a Milwaukee comic who would have LOVED to see this. This is not a time to gloat or give any attention to those who think I’m a wanker. This is a time to pay respects and be very gracious and humble and just enjoy the moment. It’s been way too long in the making.

I’m always going to be a dented can but this is a major milestone in my life. From the place I came from to the thrill of tonight is flat out miraculous. Nobody expected it and I was beginning to doubt if I’d ever get here myself but this isn’t the end. It’s a beginning. The real work can start now and that’s exactly what I intend to do for as long as I’m here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Thrill And A Drill

Tuesday July 21st, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Got the magic word today from the new talent coordinator that my spot is scheduled for tomorrow night, July 22nd. She asked me for intro information and said it still my change but as of now that’s when it was scheduled to go. This is the first time I heard from her so I’ll take her word and plan accordingly. At this point I’m just thrilled it will finally be on.

I’m trying to line up my ducks so I can hit the ground running when I get the DVD. I’m hoping the show will send me one but if they don’t I’ll be prepared anyway. I bet I’ll have at least fifty or more people recording it for me so I’m not worried about getting a copy.

I had lunch with Marc Schultz today and he’s as or more excited about all of this than I am. He wants to get a copy of the set so he can send it out to people he’s been telling so it strikes while the iron is hot. Hopefully it will lead to more corporate work and I know it’s never going to hurt to have a current national TV credit to sell to bigger paying buyers.

Marc thinks he can start selling me to places that have booked older acts and want to try some new blood. I’m the youngest of the older comics and am at a point in my life where I can start doing higher paying gigs I never could before just because I wasn’t in the same age demo. That’s one of the good parts about getting older, there’s more money involved.

After meeting with Marc I went to meet with one of my former students Bob Williams, aka “Wilbur”. Bob is a comedy lifer even though he stopped performing years ago to be a husband and father and live a ‘normal’ life. Like all lifers, he kept returning to comedy in one way or another over the years and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.

I’ve taught a lot of closet comedy lifers over the years and I always tell them it’s totally fine to be one. Many times spouses or parents or siblings or children can be the worst for providing support of a comic’s dream. In a way it’s not their fault because they just don’t get it. On the other hand it can be cruel and painful so I always try to encourage the lifers.

Wilbur is flat out FUNNY. He really is. I’ve known the guy for many years now and he lives, eats and breathes comedy. He loves everything about it, maybe too much. I’ve had a lot of students that really love comedy and I enjoy being around them but unfortunately in the real world most people don’t get that deep into the inner workings of the laugh game.

I can sit and talk with Wilbur about comedy because he’s studied it and even though it’s more of a hobby than a career it doesn’t mean he isn’t passionate about it because he sure is and that’s what we talked about over one of the best hamburgers I’ve had in a long time at a place called Brandt’s in Palatine, IL. It was very enjoyable on many levels as we met.

Wilbur has been contributing jokes to the Jerry’s Kidders bit on WGN and has been one of our strongest writers. Many people have been sending stuff and I appreciate all of them but a few have really stood out like Mark Matusof in Washington D.C. and Tony Boswell in North Carolina. Wilbur is another one. These people have been consistently hilarious.

I want to hire a guy like Wilbur to not only write for Jerry’s Kidders but also for Uranus Factory Outlet too. He thinks funny and can crank out lines that could be bumper stickers or t-shirts and he’s done it for other companies in the past. I really have a solid respect for the guy’s talent and I wanted to meet up with him and start putting together a solid team.

This is my one secret weapon that nobody can ever take away. I can spot the funny in an instant and know how to squeeze the most out of it. George Clinton talked about having a talent for working with the craziest musicians around and getting the most from them. I’m able to nurture comic talent and Wilbur is a guy I want on the team. We can both benefit.

I had time to meet with Wilbur because I had to be in the city for my latest dental ordeal and didn’t want to drive all the way home and turn right around a couple of hours later for another trip. I used my time wisely and showed up dead on for my 7pm torture treatment.

I can’t lie, I absolutely DESPISE sitting in that dental chair. I’ve done it all too much in my life and I’m WAY over it at this point. I dislike everything about it from that blinding light shining in my eyes to the sharp metal walnut picker the dentist uses to poke around my gums like he’s trying to pop the yolk on a sunny side up egg to the sound of the drill.

That’s where the real torture comes in. First it’s the needle that ‘might bother just a bit’ which feels like a vaulting pole being rammed into my jaw. Then it’s the feeling of being poked like a potato about to be put in the microwave. Then that drill just adds the whole feeling of what hell must really be like. How ‘bout that smell of burning teeth? Mmmm.

Better yet, how’s about that feeling of when the drill goes all the way into the cavity so deep that it gets stuck? The vibration goes all the way down through every single nerve in the body and it stays there for the rest of the appointment. And who hasn’t felt that stinger when the Novocain hasn’t quite taken full affect yet? I felt it today and it made me flinch.

My dentist really is a good guy though. I like him personally and he’s a total pro who is very respected in his field. Since he and his wife are Russian he has a few others working there too. The dentist who worked on me tonight was a Russian woman who was actually very friendly even though she didn’t tell me her name. She was competent but it still hurt.

I broke the filling right at the gum line and have to go back on Monday to get it looked at again to determine the extent of the damages. Tonight I just had it cleaned and refilled so it wouldn’t hurt anymore but I cringe at the thought of what it’s all going to cost me.

Jerry Agar called as I was driving home and we met up for a hot dog to discuss ideas for Jerry’s Kidders. I had a hard time eating the hot dog with half my face frozen and it might end up being a funny scene in a movie someday but for now it was yet another big hassle.

Lots of things are bubbling and brewing right now. I can feel it all rumbling and it’s still overwhelmingly positive. Getting on national TV is a big step and I’m very grateful for an opportunity this late in the game. Most people never get it at all. Now the fun really starts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Undisputed Tooth

Monday July 20th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

What’s THE absolute last thing I want to deal with in my complicated life right now? Is it a violent uncontrollable outbreak of explosive diarrhea? Nope. How about a case of the cooties? Sorry. Maybe it’s a blind date with a transvestite orangutan? Guess again. Of all the things I can’t stand dealing with, dental pain is my worst nightmare. That‘s the killer.

I’ve had enough of that for six lifetimes but it looks like I’m getting another large dose for good measure. I broke yet another filling today and it’s pure and absolute torture right now. It’s broken off right at the gum line and the throbbing pain reminds me I’m alive on a planet I still can’t figure out. I thought I’d be over this by now but it just keeps coming.

I couldn’t get a dental appointment today so I’ll have to wait until 7pm tomorrow when they can squeeze me in at my dentist’s office. I really respect him and would rather he get the business but I have no idea where I’m going to get the money to pay him. This stinks.

No matter how much I whine, moan, piss or complain it isn’t going to change anything. It happened. Now I have to fix it. There’s never a good time for something like this but it is especially rotten timing because of the Craig Ferguson appearance. That’s my focus or at least it was until I heard my tooth snap. That got my complete and undivided attention.

I have no idea how much damage there is but right now it’s as painful as I’ve had in my mouth since the 4th of July last year when I ended up having to have a root canal for more money than I think should be spent for two cars. If it’s that again I’m going to be screwed.

I know I just wrote a few days ago how things were getting positive and I’m trying to be that way now but I have to be honest and say it isn’t easy. I wish all this could be over and done with and I could have a few years of enjoyment but there’s never a guarantee of that.

Then I get an email today from my new friend Juliette that CBS has changed it back so I’m once again on Friday the 24th as it was in the first place. I don’t even want to start my thoughts on that because I just sent out a notice saying it was changed in the first place.

Now I’m going to look like a bigger idiot by switching it back again even though I have nothing to do with it and none of it was my call. My tooth hurts so badly I don’t want it to cloud my thinking and I’m going to let it rest for a while until I get to the dentist and have this taken care of. Whether I ever get on TV or not this is a problem that won’t heal itself.

I remember reading a story where David Letterman’s pickup truck blew a transmission right as he got his television deal. One minute he was worried about how he’d be able to get his transmission fixed and the next he was signing a network television deal. Strange.

Maybe it’ll be that way for me too. Or not. I have no idea right now other than my tooth is throbbing harder by the minute. I’m going to get some sleep if I can and start tomorrow to see if I can actually find out what the true air date is. This sure wasn’t what I expected.

A Dented Can Reunion

Sunday July 19th, 2009 - Harris, MI

The north woods two lane highway tour continues. The weather was picture perfect as we wound our way even farther north on wiggly roads from Manitowish Waters on U.S. Highway 51 to U.S. 2 in Ironwood, MI. Then we turned right and headed toward Harris.

The U.P. of Michigan feels like it’s own country to me. There aren’t any big cities and most of it is connected with two lane roads that wind through thick woods. There are lots of houses that look to be in various stages of disrepair and rarely if ever does one see any hint of a foreign car on the road. It’s very noticeable and I pointed it out to Steve Purcell.

Steve drives a Pontiac Bonneville so we fit right in. There are all kinds of old American hulks rotting in front yards all through the U.P. and I guess it could be best described as a far northern version of Alabama or Mississippi. The necks here would be blue rather than red though because of the cold weather. At least rednecks can wear Daisy Dukes all year.

The gig tonight was at the Island Casino in Harris, MI. That’s about 13 miles outside of Escanaba, which is the second largest city in the U.P. It’s not really a city though, there is only a population of 13,000 so it’s like more like a big small town. I’ve been through here enough to know it’s the place to stop to go to the bathroom and gas up on my way home.

I’ve done shows at the Island Casino several times now and each time it gets better and better. They’re building on to the casino and hotel so they must be doing well and there’s a pretty nice turnout for the comedy nights from what I hear from the staff. It’s not so bad even though the crowds get in for free. Casino gigs pay decent money so I‘ll take them.

I have a cousin named Wendy who I haven’t seen since I was probably seven or eight and we’ve been emailing back and forth of late. She loves the Island Casino and saw that I’d be performing there and wanted to get together. She likes to go up with a group a few times a year. One of those people is her older sister Lynn so we made it a family reunion.

Wendy brought her husband and daughter and her boyfriend and another friend. Lynn brought her husband and we all had dinner before the show. I really didn’t know what to expect but they couldn’t have been any nicer and they totally understood the dented can concept. We talked about how hard it is to break the chain but we’re all trying to do it.

Their father and my grandfather were brothers so we are second cousins. They both told me how my grandfather was their favorite and shared stories of how he was nice to them when they were kids. That made me want to be nice to even more people because it lasts.

The show was very fun and there was a full crowd of good laughers. I also had visitors from my step mother’s family who are from Iron Mountain. That family was always nice too and they didn’t have to be because we were only step kids. It was very flattering that they came out and I tried to spend time with each side so they wouldn’t feel slighted. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only dented can in the world or even in my own family.

Way Up Nort'

Saturday July 18th, 2009 - Manitowish Waters, WI

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and I thought I’d at least heard of every city or town or village or backwoods barnyard boil on the buttocks of the state map if not have worked a show there but tonight I played a locale even I never knew existed. Quite the fluke it is.

I’ve inhaled the pungent aroma of fresh Guernsey dung in my home state from Oshkosh to Crivitz to Dickeyville to Wabeno to good old Embarrass. Those are all very real places and I’ve been there in the flesh in all of them at one point in an as of yet not so illustrious career as a traveling minstrel of mirth and merriment. I’ve played places maps don‘t list.

Tonight I added Manitowish Waters to that quasi-illustrious chronicle and that’s not to be confused with plain old Manitowish. Manitowish Waters is a bustling suburb growing out of the overflow of the fives of people who chose Manitowish as their dream hangout.

This gig was tacked on to the casino I’m doing tomorrow night in Harris, MI which is a few miles outside of Escanaba. I’ve been there before and I thought that one was way out in the sticks but this one makes that one look like Ceasars Palace in Vegas. I rode up with my friend Steve Purcell and I’m glad I did. I might have gotten lost if I’d gone by myself.

Steve lives in Stoughton, WI which is right outside of Madison. He took my class a few years ago and has stayed with comedy since. I’m glad he did because he’s a very nice guy and all the other comics like him too. Working with guys like that makes runs like this as bearable as they can be. Long hours in a car are hard enough, but with a knob it’s hellish.

Steve is laid back and easygoing and we had a nice conversation about many things as it got later in the day. We drove up U.S. Highway 51 until we were almost out of Wisconsin and stopped at the pizza joint where we were to perform. We swallowed hard and went in to tell whomever we needed to that we were in town and ready to do whatever it is we do.

The actual gig was outdoors on a patio. There were about 40 people sitting everywhere but near the stage area, which was a wooden structure with a roof that reminded me of an extra wide outhouse that was cut in half. There was a single amp and a wireless mike and two red garden lights on the ceiling of the stage area that didn’t really help light anything.

This was about as unprofessional as it gets but what were the options? Do a show or go home. We were so far north there weren’t any Motel 6s within about 200 miles. Steve did his best and more importantly his time and I went up and had to do even more. I used up a lifetime of experience in pulling off a show but I did and it could have been much worse.

It doesn’t do any good to complain because I can’t see this gig lasting long. It was a few bucks I can really use right now and the people running the gig were super nice. They fed us a delicious pizza after the show and put us up in a huge $600,000 house on a lake right in the middle of nowhere. I sure wouldn’t have put comedians there if I owned it but they did and we didn‘t trash anything. This wasn’t the best gig ever but it did come with perks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Life's A Glitch

Friday July 17th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Life has never been simple, at least not for me. There’s always been some kind of glitch that shows up out of nowhere to let me know I need to stay humble. Alright already. I get the message. Can’t we move on? Don’t I have more important things to do in this life?

I learned today that apparently now my appearance on The Late Late Show isn’t getting aired next Friday but rather next Wednesday July 22nd instead. Personally I don’t have an issue with it and in fact to me it’s a lucky coincidence because that happens to be George Clinton’s birthday. Supposedly ‘22’ is a power number so maybe it won’t hurt me at all.

What did hurt was knowing I have to retell the people I already told that the segment is going to air on Friday. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel already printed it and now I look like a horse’s ass for getting the date wrong. I also was scheduled to be on CBS 2 here in Chicago on Friday and I had to call the publicity guy back and tell him it’s been changed.

I know none of this is my fault but it’s still uncomfortable to have to go through all this. I feel like a five year old trying to get the adults to watch me and having to pester them all until they do. I really don’t want to bug anybody about this. I just wish it would air and be done with so I can move on and focus on my next one. That’s when the career will start.

I was talking about this with my friend Max. In any entertainment endeavor like acting or comedy or radio or whatever, moving to the next level is never easy and few ever do it. Even fewer still keep doing it. It’s not easy to release an album but a lot of people still do manage to do it. But how many ever do a second one? That’s where the real challenge is.

In comedy, I released a CD in 2003. Since then a ton of people have also done that but I took time and effort and made mine better. I paid extra to make it look nice and I put a lot of effort into putting out the best product I could. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t do it any other way and even now people tell me my CD stands out from most of the rest.

That’s nice to hear but I’m doing a second one. Why? Because I’m better now and I am growing as a comedian. I want to do a third one also and a fourth and a thirteenth at some point if I should be lucky enough to live that long. A true artist keeps growing constantly.

I’m a better comedian even since the TV taping in March. That whole experience taught me a lot of things I could do better and I’m working on improving everything every time I go on stage. Hosting the Zanies shows on Monday nights offers me several opportunities to work on new lines and chunks and I totally do. Next time on TV I’ll be WAY better.

In my mind the first one is long over but it’s important that people see it so I hope it just gets aired on Wednesday and that’s it. Max and I talked about how hard it is to expect the good result because as dented cans we’ve seen it go the other way too many times. Max is one of the few who gets that and I’m glad we talked about it. It could be easy to get down about it but the fact is I know I did it and I do think it will air. Eventually. Well, I hope so.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chili's Choices Changing

Thursday July 16th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

The prevailing vibe of my entire life seems to be changing and I have to say I like where it’s going. There’s a positive rumbling in the distance and it’s getting closer all the time. I have consciously been trying to put out a better vibe and I feel markedly different results.

I’m not saying I’m ‘fixed’ or ’cured’ or anything like that. A dented can is pretty hard to undent unless a major push comes from the inside. I’m pushing hard and it’s working. I’ll always have that dent but at least I’m improving myself and I want to acknowledge that.

Case in point: I had lunch with my web person Shelley and her two daughters today at a Chili’s restaurant in Round Lake Beach, IL. It’s about halfway for both of us and we have met there several times in the last few months. The staff there has always been super nice.

I ordered a Philly cheese steak sandwich and it was one of the worst meals I’ve ordered in recent memory. The bun was like a brick and the meat was greasy and overcooked and pretty nasty looking all around. I happen to love guacamole and the order we got was just plain yucky for whatever reason. It had an aftertaste and I didn’t want to guess what from.

Shelley and I needed to meet up because she is going to start selling stuff on Ebay so we can raise some money. She needs it just like I do and we wanted to get it started. I also am trying to get my website current so when I’m on TV next week hopefully I’ll get hits from all over the place like I did when I did the Bob and Tom show. I got thousands from that.

Anyway, the meal wasn’t the most important thing. We had business to take care of and I always love goofing around with kids so I wasn’t really worried about one bad meal. It’s no big deal and it was my fault for ordering a Philly cheese steak at Chili’s at all. I should know better. The waitress came for my plate and saw that I didn’t eat much of anything.

She asked if anything was wrong and I said “It’s not your fault but this wasn’t what I’d expected. No big deal, thanks for asking.” I really wasn’t angry at all and was thinking of the business stuff rather than the food. The whole thing was a speck and I had moved on.

The manager came over and asked what was wrong and I told him not a thing. I ordered a sandwich and it wasn’t that great and I had some chips and salsa and life would go on. It was very nice of him to do that but he was very concerned and I assured him I had been to the restaurant before and would come back again and told him I wasn’t going to flip out.

We ended up having a laugh about it and he truly was concerned about the service and I have to say it felt great to be treated as a human being by another human being. That’s all I ever wanted in the first place and when I do flip out it’s because I feel like nobody cares.

I’ll go back to that Chili’s and I recommend you do too. The manager is Michael and it feels good to know someone in corporate America is on the ball. The few minutes it took for him to come to the table won my business forever. THAT’S how to serve customers.

I couldn’t help wondering all day what it is that’s putting me in this space. I’ve had a lot of cruddy meals before and sometimes I reacted like I did today and sometimes I didn’t. It could be that but it seems a lot deeper. It just seems like my whole life is starting to turn.

I’m not saying I’ll be whistling ‘Zippity Do Dah’ every day and all my steaks will be as rare as I like them and I’ll hit only green lights in traffic but I feel that I’m starting to walk on ground I’ve never walked on before. Maybe I had to experience the very bottom so I’m able to fully appreciate the top. I’ve struggled a long time but maybe it’s finally over now.

What’s really amazing is the overwhelming outpouring of good wishes I’m getting from everywhere. Facebook is an amazing connector and I put the link to the CBS website that lists the guests for The Late Late Show on it so everyone could see I’m not making it up.

Over and over and over again I’m hearing things like ‘About time!’ and ‘FINALLY the good guy makes it!’ and ‘I’ll tell all my friends.’ I’m getting calls and emails and people I haven’t heard from in years are wishing me well. It’s exactly what I always wanted to feel but who doesn’t want to be appreciated? After a lifetime of work it seems like it paid off.

One TV shot is not going to make me a superstar and I’ll still have to struggle with a lot of the same things I am now but it will be a major milestone and something to look at as a turning point in my whole life. Most people never make it this far. I did. It’s a huge thrill.

It doesn’t mean I plan on getting cocky. Far from it. It means I want to work harder than ever so I can keep going and growing and my main purpose is to give back more than I’ll ever take in this life. That’s what true success is and I know it now. I’m ready for this run.

Part of getting ready is putting a super team together. I’m weeding out the losers and am looking to find winners. I had dinner tonight with a guy named Bryan who approached me a long time ago looking to do some website work. He’s 32 and very sharp and was patient with me for months until we could set up a meeting. Tonight was finally the time to do it.

This is the guy I’m going to team up with to get the Uranus Factory Outlet website up. I had a very good vibe from him and told him what I was looking for and he shot back a lot of good ideas too and it felt right so we shook hands on it and made a deal. We’ll try it for a while and if it doesn’t work we’ll move on but at least we talked it through beforehand.

I also called Ted Perry at Fox 6 in Milwaukee. He’s been a major supporter of mine for many years and I can’t put into words how much I appreciate him. When I’ve been really down he’s always been an uplifting friend by either giving me a book to read or making a joke that lays me out. The guy is a major air talent but he’s also extremely funny as well.

Something told me to call him so I did. I also got a call from Tom Skibosh who used to be the P.R. director for the Milwaukee Brewers. He and I are going to meet up for a lunch when I come to town to play Giggles in Brookfield August 13-15. I also got mentioned in the Journal-Sentinel in Tim Cuprisin’s column. I can feel a positive momentum building.

Tim Cavanagh Is A Genius

Wednesday July 15th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Part of the fun of being a performer for me is crossing paths with other performers who have a totally different set of abilities than I do. I enjoy quality entertainment of all kinds and I appreciate it much more than the public because I know how difficult it actually is.

One of the most talented and hilarious people I’ve ever met is Tim Cavanagh. Tim is in a class by himself when it comes to comedy and his style is absolutely his own. I’ve been a huge fan of his since before I ever started doing comedy and I’m even more of one now.

I first heard of Tim from the Dr. Demento radio show. He had a song called ‘I Want To Kiss Her’ which is still one of the absolute funniest songs I’ve ever heard in my life. He’s absolutely brilliant at twisting a phrase and inserting a double entendre and milking it for all it’s worth. I don’t throw the word genius around very often but Tim Cavanagh is one.

What makes it even better is that he looks like a high school English teacher and in fact he was a school teacher for a while apparently. His boyish innocent appearance combined with his wicked sense of humor are like nitro meeting glycerin. What a punch it packs.

When I first started doing comedy one of my first ‘road’ gigs was a dive pizza joint that I think was named Freddie’s but I’m not sure. I do know that I wasn’t ready to be there as a customer much less a comedian but that was the first time I got to meet Tim in person.

I couldn’t believe how a celebrity in my eyes like Tim could be working at a pizza joint but that was way before I understood what anything was really about. I can remember that I was thrilled to be able to meet him and then after the show he asked me to stay and have pizza with him and his wife Chris. I was totally flattered and jumped at the opportunity.

To make it even better Tim paid for the pizza. I thanked him profusely but he corrected me and said “This is not me buying you a meal. This is comedy buying it for you. As you advance and are a headliner I want you buy a meal for the person who opens up for you.”

I’ve never forgotten that and over the years literally hundreds of young comics have had a meal bought for them from comedy. Those who try to thank me get the explanation that I got from Tim and hopefully they’re passing it along as well. Tim Cavanagh is a class act onstage and off and I can’t believe he’s not a major comedy superstar. He is in my book.

I’ve worked with Tim many times over the years as I came up the ladder and every time I did he was never less than a total pro. Even when the crowds were small or drunk or at a venue less than stellar I’ve never seen Tim Cavanagh slack off and give less than 100%.

Today is Tim’s birthday and I called to leave a message thanking him for all the lessons I learned from him over the years not only about comedy but about the business as well. It has always been appreciated and still is. Tim’s website is Go check for yourself why I think he’s so great. If you have a brain and a sense of humor you’ll agree.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An All Star Cast

Tuesday July 14th, 2009 - Chicago, IL/Milwaukee, WI

My life flashed before my eyes today and I wasn’t even near death. This was the kind of day that happens once in a dozen years or maybe more. It was an action packed constantly moving non stop stimulation of all my senses, and the best part was none of it was bad.

The first thing that put me in a stellar mood was checking my spam file and discovering an email from a fan in New York named Juliette I didn’t even know I had. She said she’s been watching to see when my name would appear on the list for The Late Late Show and lo and behold, today was the day! I just wrote about that and suddenly it becomes reality.

I clicked on the link myself and there I was, scheduled to appear Friday July 24th along with Paris Hilton no less. It was a kick to see my name on the list and I don’t think they’d put it on their website if it wasn’t going to happen. Granted, a million things could come up between now and then like a plague, World War III or Bin Laden turning himself in.

Michael Jackson could rise out of the grave with Elvis opening for him or any one of an infinite number of possibilities could happen to knock my little four and a half minute set off the air but I’ll worry about that later. As for now I’ve made the website and I take that as a major victory! After a lifetime of struggle this will validate me in a number of ways.

There are a whole lot of people that attempt to do standup comedy at least once in their lifetime. Most of them never go beyond that and for every level of advancement there’s a large segment of that group that drops out and never advances. That means from opening act to feature and feature to headliner and headliner to a national television appearance.

A lot of people who have never seen me before will get a little taste on July 24th. A lot of them won’t remember me five seconds after I’m done but all I need is ONE person in a position of power to see me and like me to make the right doors open. I’m not going to be naïve and think I’ve made the big time for one little appearance but it sure won’t hurt me.

In my mind I know I didn’t hit a grand slam with my set but I also know I didn’t munch manure off a barnyard floor either. I learned a ton from the experience and watching other people’s first time on national television confirmed to me that the finished product wasn’t there for anyone. Even Seinfeld and Leno and Roseanne and Drew Carey had to develop.

That’s what really encourages me about all of this. I’ll have a DVD to send out to a ton of bookers that won’t be hideous and then I’ll go in and blow them away by being a much better act than anyone expected. Then I’ll keep working on more sets for TV and improve by leaps and bounds every time I go back again. I’m already working on more TV sets.

I then received a call from Marc Schultz to have lunch with him and a very funny comic I’ve heard of for years named George Tracy. He’s an Irish comic who talks with an accent thicker than the Lucky Charms leprechaun and he’s a wonderfully nice man. I always love to meet other comedy performers of all kinds, especially those I don’t always get to see.

George doesn’t do many comedy clubs and now lives in Branson, MO. He’s opened for Bobby Vinton and many others and is really a funny guy onstage and off. Marc is always introducing his acts to one another and I was flattered he thought of me to meet a total pro like George. We had a fantastic lunch and he gave me a CD and a DVD after we finished.

After that I went into Chicago to get my mail and I received a call from my friend Todd Hunt telling me he had some articles for me. He saves comedy articles and I always enjoy meeting with him because he is constantly marketing himself for his speaking gigs. He is a constant source of information and ideas and I help him in return by polishing his jokes.

After meeting with Todd I headed up to Milwaukee to have dinner with my cousin Brett who I haven’t seen in a while. On the way I received a call from my first program director in radio who hired me in Lansing, MI in 1990. His name is Dan Balla and was really a big supporter of me way before I was ready. He has a kind heart and I really liked him a lot.

When I was hired the station was going through a lot of turmoil and he ended up taking a different job and leaving me stranded. I was never angry at him because I knew he was in a bad situation but then we lost touch and that was it. Thanks to facebook we’ve gotten back in touch and it was really great to catch up after all these years. He’s still a good guy.

Dinner with Brett was a delicious plate of ribs from Famous Dave’s but Brett was not in a good mood because a friend of his was beaten to death with a brick to his head in a very ugly robbery over the weekend. He was stunned and sad and I felt bad to hear about it too. That story made me remember my friend Les Sorenson who also died and that felt worse.

There aren’t too many things that could cheer me up from that kind of downer but going to see George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic was one of them. I hadn’t seen the band in a while and I’m always in a good mood when I’m at a P-Funk show. They’re always on my ‘must see’ list and rarely if ever do they disappoint. Tonight was yet another blowout.

You can keep your Green Days and your Creeds and P.U. to U2 too. When George and the boys get the funk cranked up I’d challenge any other music act on earth to match their uncut pure raw energy. I’ve never seen anything like it and when they’re on they’re great.

Tonight they got right into it and played hit after hit after hit and tore the roof off of the Rave. That place is a toilet and I have no idea why George keeps playing there but I have probably seen him five or six times already. Still, it was a power packed funky orgasm.

I love the fact that George is going to have a birthday next week and be the same age of my grandfather when he died. I can’t picture my grandfather standing on a stage with long multi colored hair and blowing away a room full of people who hung on his every move.

After the concert I got a call from Ron Lee, the first guy who ever booked me for a paid comedy show. I made $10 for ten minutes and I ripped him off. I was SO bad. Tomorrow is his birthday so we hung out and talked. What a busy day. It was like my life in review.

Richard Simmons Rocks

Monday July 13th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

As I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in my life I thought of other people who have done something similar to what I want to do. Rodney Dangerfield pulled off his biggest successes much later in life than most people do. So did Willie Nelson. I’ll be one of those stories too should I happen to finally hit something big. I’ve sure put in my time.

George Clinton was the mastermind of a huge group of musicians that had record deals with several companies and at his peak he was a creative and money machine. He still is a respected and influential force in music even now. He achieved success on his own terms.

Those people have always had my admiration and respect but I was looking through the list of recent celebrity birthdays and yesterday included Richard Simmons. I know people already think I’m crazy but I think that guy is an unheralded American hero. I’m a fan.

Richard Simmons has had unbelievable success. He’s branded himself and transformed into an American institution. Yes, he gets bashed by the media left and right but he’s been great about taking a joke and has never whined or complained at least not that I’ve heard.

He has carved a niche for himself and in my opinion he deserves to be rich but what I’m most impressed by is his kindness to his fans. He has by and large a group of followers no other person has approached the way he has. He helps hurting people build self esteem.

Sure, everyone wants to be a sex machine and in perfect shape but that privilege is only reserved for too small a group for too small a time. The biological clock ticks for only so long and then it’s over. Richard Simmons has helped millions get their self esteem back.

Some of those people never had it at all. I’ve watched his infomercials over the years on the road when I couldn’t sleep after a show and he never failed to keep me interested with his compassion for all those people. I really think the guy cares and wants to help others.

If he’s scamming the public then I respect his acting ability but something about the guy really strikes a positive chord with me. I don’t care if someone is gay or straight or tall or short or Chinese or Bolivian, I care if they have a good heart. I think Richard Simmons is a great humanitarian and I’ll bet there are a whole lot of people who will agree with me.

I want to leave a similar legacy with my comedy classes. Yes, I love to perform and it’s a total rush when it goes correctly during a show but being able to have people come and tell me my class helped them live a life’s dream is right up there with any stage thrill I’ve ever had. Being a part of helping someone else achieve something is a wonderful feeling.

People make fun of Richard Simmons all the time but not me. I think he’s built a super life and not only is he doing good things the people he helps are able to transform into an exciting life they may never have experienced before. What’s wrong with that? I will be a winner in life if I’m half as successful as that guy. He‘s a hero. Happy birthday Richard.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Red Light Reroute

Sunday July 12th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Everything seems to be on hold in my life right now. I feel like I’m waiting for a cosmic red light to change to green so I can advance to my next adventure. Maybe I should smack the GPS and see if it will give me a hint as to where I should go and what path is the best.

I’ve got a lot of projects not really going anywhere and that needs to change. I think I’d rather risk crashing and burning going somewhere than running out of gas at a red light. It involves a lot more risk to be in motion but I’ve never been afraid to roll the dice of life.

One thing that’s fallen off the map is my Craig Ferguson appearance. I can’t figure out a reason why it hasn’t aired yet but I’m sure there is one. I could speculate all kinds of stuff but I’d probably be wrong. Someone asked me out there for a reason and I have witnesses that saw me physically do my set so now it’s a matter of the segment airing on the show.

This is a delicate situation. Do I keep pestering them about it? That doesn’t sound like a wise option but I’ve seen people do it over and over again. Many times the squeaky wheel really does get the grease but that’s never been my style. Maybe I need to evolve that way.

A management deal would be the logical solution to this but that’s delicate too. I’d need a manager I could trust and that also believes in me as an artist or at least a creative entity. The term ‘art’ and standup comedy don’t automatically go hand in hand. I don’t think I’m doing anything that’s going to change the world. All I want to do is make people laugh.

I want to make as many people laugh as possible with whatever talent I’ve been blessed with and that’s not happening to my satisfaction. Nothing against Hannibal, MO but next time I go there I want to make it worth my while or I don’t want to go there. No offense.

Jeff Foxworthy was very generous to turn me on to his management company. I’ve been waiting to get the DVD of my Craig Ferguson appearance to send to the people in L.A. so I can maybe have a chance at getting signed by them to represent me. That’s been my plan all along but the weeks have turned into months and everything seems to be at a standstill.

The lady I talked to told me I could ‘send a package’ but I’ve not done that because I’ve been waiting for the segment to air. At this point maybe it will and maybe it won’t but if I wait any longer I think I’m just wasting time. I have to put something together and send it out and at least make contact. There is a lot more to what I can offer than 4½ minutes.

I know I’m not a 22 year old up and coming stud who looks like Brad Pitt. I’m an aging road warrior who’s loaded with experience and can rock a live room with the best of them but that might not be what they’re looking for these days. Too bad, as that’s all I’ve got.

Hopefully, talent and ability and the paying of dues will be rewarded but I know there is absolutely ZERO guarantees of any of that happening. I have to be the one to make that a reality and sitting around waiting for it won’t get it done. Time to try another approach.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's Only Money

Saturday July 11th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

July 11th. “7-11“. I’m not sure if it means anything but I took it as a cosmic hint to buy two lottery tickets just to be safe. I’m sure nine zillion other idiots did the same thing so my odds are even worse than usual but that’s ok. At least there’s a chance. I’m all about hope. I’m about out of money too so a nice little wad would come in handy right now.

I know it sounds goofy but I’ve always pictured myself coming into a giant windfall of cash at some point in my life. Even as a kid I always had that vision in my head. I thought it would be from getting signed to a Major League baseball contract but that wasn’t in the cards. I didn’t give up though and over the years I expected it from other places. I still do.

Would it be fun to earn a fortune? I guess so, but I’ve been trying to do that too for a lot of years and it hasn’t panned out to my expectations. I thought for sure I’d be rich and set for life by now and I’m not. Part of it was my fault and part of it wasn’t but I’m in a bind. I made a few smart choices but I also took some risks that didn’t pay off. Here I sit today.

I’ve watched ‘The Secret’ and ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ and even a bunch of the ‘no money down’ real estate snakes and I realize that money is just a tool. It doesn’t buy happiness or perfection but I think it does buy freedom and that’s very precious to me. I like choices.

Then again, I’ve totally screwed up so many of my life’s choices that maybe money is a bad thing to entrust with an halfwit like me. When I’ve had it I’ve spent it freely but I did think of others when I did it and wasn’t a greedy bastard thinking only of myself. I like to spread it around like manure and hope something good grows out of it. It usually does.

At one time I was in my grandparents’ will to be cut in a third along with my father and uncle. They weren’t too thrilled with that discovery and over the years they weaseled their way between me and the money and got it all. My uncle used to do my taxes and he put a paper in front of me and said “Sign this.” Stupidly, I did. I trusted him and I got scorched.

I was young and even stupider than I am now and I didn’t think much of it at the time. It came into play later and as my grandparents both died it became apparent I’d been hosed. I admit I was pissed off about it for a while because I really could have used that financial base to make some different decisions in my life. I could have moved to L.A. and stayed.

Instead I had to slug it out on the road doing comedy and take radio gigs in places that I never would have chosen to live like Salt Lake City and Reno and all these years later I’m still struggling to find my way. I got a ton of life experience but it sure took a major toll. I never had the chance to go to college and I knew it so I had to just move on and continue.

I tried to figure it out and I think my end would have been probably around $150,000 or so. That’s not millions but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. I could have made that stretch a long way and I still could. But it never came. My father died and my uncle is getting close and what did it all prove? Not a damn thing. They didn’t do anything productive with it.

Then there’s my sister Tammy. Apparently she won the lottery for $250,000 years ago. I heard about it third hand and actually when I did I was happy for her. She supposedly was left with $166,000 after taxes from what I heard and she paid off other family members so they wouldn’t tell me about it. I find that funny now but back then it really hurt to hear it.

She knew I was struggling and could have slipped me a few bucks to be nice but even if she didn’t I don’t think she had to tell them not to tell me about it. I heard about it a while after the fact from a couple of different people so maybe it was true. Whatever. Good for Tammy. I know she bought a house with it so I hope it made her happy. It’s only money.

That’s the way I look at it now. It’s a symbol of energy and love and a way to measure a person’s abilities. It’s not always fair but there are some basic skills involved to handle it and I haven’t been very good at it over the years on a regular basis. I’m ready to evolve.

I’m putting a vibe out in the universe that I am ok with money and I will use it for good when it finally does come my way. My needs are so low that my wildest dreams aren’t all that wild and I’ll have plenty left over to use for positive things when the windfall comes.

My father didn’t do anything memorable with his life or money and my uncle probably won’t make any stunning changes this late into his own situation. He could have broken the family chain but he didn’t and I refuse to go down that same path. I want to do better.

The good thing is, even though I’m squeaking by I’ve done it honestly. Every oil leaker car I drive and every bite of greasy food I eat and every out of style shirt I wear are bought with money I went out and EARNED. There is a real feeling of accomplishment in that.

But a little help sure would be nice right about now. Selling the bank robbery script is a distinct possibility but not if I don’t start showing it to people. I also have a ton of ideas to develop as far as books and comedy classes and Uranus Factory Outlet and even one little hit out of any of that would put me in a way better place. I’ve paid my dues. I’m ready.

I bought the two lottery tickets today and I imagined myself winning. I saw the cameras rolling and the news people laughing out loud as I cracked off joke after joke. Having my luck turn around so dramatically would be a perfect end to being Mr. Lucky in a negative way. It would be a whole lot funnier talking about how I USED to have a lot of bad luck.

I want to put it out in the universe that I expect a windfall and I expect it soon. I’ve had a lot of lean years and it’s my time to catch a good break for once. I’m preparing my mind to accept that gift and not have to keep living in a basement like an insect. I’m over that.

On a high note our Jerry’s Kidders segment on WGN radio was a blast today. We were on fire with lines bouncing back and forth and energy percolated from everyone. Whether anyone listening knows or cares about us isn’t the issue. We’re not getting paid so why do it if it doesn’t please us? We could see people on Michigan Avenue looking in at us as we did it and they were laughing so I think some listeners did too. Money sure can’t buy that.

Missouri Loves Company

Friday July 10th, 2009 - Hannibal, MO

I think I’m about seventy years too late. Had I headlined the Star Theatre in downtown Hannibal, MO on this date in 1939 I probably would have been bathing in success. It’s a beautiful place and back in the heyday of theatres it was evidently a very hopping joint.

There wasn’t much hop left tonight. I was just thankful to be paid. We had a turnout of maybe 40 people in a room that could comfortably seat 400. Not good for the bottom line and even worse for the ego. Tonight really raised some major red flags about my future.

Summers have always been a slower time for comedy, at least in the rust belt. People in the north have had to suffer through a long brutal winter and when it gets warm they want to be out barbecuing red meat and watching baseball games and camping. I totally get that because I grew up in the north. I want to be outside in the summer too, not in a night club.

Still, the clubs don’t shut down completely and in the old days we used to get what was called ‘summer money’. That meant the pay was lower because the expected crowds were going to be lower and it was just part of life. Comics always used to complain and I could never understand that as I was coming up the ranks. I understood that it was a slow time.

I’m not saying I liked it, but I did understand. Many comics used to joke about having a ‘summer act’ with less jokes in it and that’s funny but we all were familiar with that term. I trace it back to John Yoder who owns the Funny Business Agency in Grand Rapids, MI.

He was famous for getting that concept into the comedy mainstream even though I have had other bookers use it too. It was probably a good sales gimmick to whip out back then to get clubs to keep running shows in the summer when many would have liked to close.

It is what it is and of course everyone would like to be paid top dollar but summer had a good side too. Since there were less people in the clubs and less pay it was a great way for acts to move up the comedy ladder. I know that’s what I did. Getting a booker to bump up a comic to the next position is slightly less difficult than establishing lasting world peace.

I was able to advance from opener to feature and feature to headliner by working weeks at clubs in the summer and I’m very thankful for that opportunity. We all have to get that break somewhere and mine came in the heat of Michigan summers. Thanks John Yoder.

Tonight was sparse. Hannibal, MO is a nice little town of about 17,000 maybe 20 miles from Quincy, IL which has about 40,000 people. I’ve worked in Quincy several times and it was good. There was a club that did packed shows on the first Friday of every month.

I didn’t know Hannibal was so close. Comedy has been at the Star for six months and it worked well until summer hit. I hate to see anyone lose money, but especially me. It isn’t my fault they chose to keep going but I took the gig so part of it is on me. I just wanted to work and even though the pay was low I could use the money too. I’m trying to survive.

The couple who bought the theatre really did a great job of renovating it. I talked to the husband and he said it was about a five year project. They do weddings and parties and it seemed to be paying off for them but I still felt bad about the small turnout for tonight.

They ripped the theatre seats out and put in nightclub style tables and chairs instead. It’s fine that they did that but the first row of tables was way far from the stage so it was very hard to establish any intimacy with the audience even though there were so few of them.

I’ve been in every situation imaginable and I usually know how to compensate but it’s a tough sell to bond with an audience when the first row of tables is 40 feet away. It makes a hard job harder but I know they didn’t do it on purpose. They just weren’t experienced.

Thankfully I was able to bring my own opener. I chose Jim Flannigan from Chicago for several reasons, one of which was his dependable car. The main one was that I really like this kid and think he has a very bright future. He’s sharp and funny and his desire level is right up there where mine was when I was in my 20s. His enthusiasm kept me upbeat.

Jim is 28 and really starting to come into his own as a comedian. I was there once and I know right where he is in his development. He’s been working good gigs like with me up at the Skyline Comedy Café in Appleton, WI but he also has a day job and that takes up a lot of his time so he can’t work every week. I understand and that’s part of the game too.

The tiny audience in a big venue is something I’ve seen all too much but Jim hasn’t and I could see by the look in his eye he wasn’t thrilled about it. Nobody is but that’s how life works if you’re in show BUSINESS. Sometimes business isn‘t good and that‘s how it is.

That doesn’t mean the show can’t still be good. I’ve learned to work a small audience in a big venue or any venue just because I’ve had to. Those people came out and it isn’t their fault the place is 90% empty. They deserve a show and I always try to give them my best.

Jim went up and did his show but I could see his heart wasn’t in it. He did fine for these circumstances and he’s a funny guy but he wasn’t thrilled with it after he came off stage. I shook his hand and told him I was proud of him because I really was. It’s not easy to have to stand 40 feet away from 35 people for 30 minutes and entertain them all by yourself.

Not many people would even be willing to try it much less pull it off but he did as good as one could in that situation and I told him that. I went up and had to do 60 minutes so it would be a 90 minute show so we’d get paid. That didn’t make it easier but I still pulled it off. That’s part of being a pro and it’s taken a lifetime of gigs like this to be able to do it.

I was drenched with sweat as I walked off stage and knew I had given my absolute all in this situation. What I have to do now is find a way to make better situations. This isn’t the place I want to be at this stage of my life and career. I could just as easily give my all to a packed theatre or a TV audience. My show is there but my business isn’t. It’s a story that needs to change if there is to be a happy ending and I need to start writing it immediately.