Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paying Back In Pittsburgh

Saturday October 31st, 2009 - Cranberry, PA

Small crowd, BIG fun. That’s not usually how the equation works, but tonight made my long drive to West Virginia and then here totally worth it. Wow, what a vibe these people had. They were there to see comedy and they gave it up start to finish. What a fun night.

This is the drug to which I am hopelessly addicted. An audience like this is worth going across the country for, and around the world. We clicked from the first five seconds and it never let up. I could do anything I wanted and I had as much fun as they did. We bonded.

What made it really satisfying is that Keith Schneider was in the room and saw most of the show. He and his brother Jeff owned the Funny Bone in Milwaukee where I cut most of my comedy teeth on the way up the ranks in the ‘80s. They switched off in running the club so I worked for each of them both onstage and off. They’ve known me from the start.

Before the show Keith and I were talking about my first road trip to their club on Route 51 on the south side of Pittsburgh. I was SO not ready and on my first night I was short on time by about 8 minutes. I was the opener and very green and I just got frazzled and froze.

I remember Keith getting in my face about it and scolding me for not doing my time. He was right and I knew he was right and it didn’t happen again…until I worked there for my first time as a feature act. I was supposed to do 30 minutes but I ran out of steam at about 17 or 18 and got off stage. Again, it was Keith who was right there to tell me what I did.

Again, no complaints from me. I knew I blew it and it felt terrible, but at the time that’s the best I could do. I was ok the rest of the week, but nothing special. I was just another in an endless parade of mediocre to poor Caucasian comedian wannabes during that time of the comedy boom in the ‘80s. Most of the others have dropped out by now, but I stayed.

Of the two brothers, Jeff was is the one who wanted to be a comedian. Keith joined him as a business partner, that’s about it. They’re two distinctly different people, but I’ve been around them both so long I can relate to each of them on an individual level. Keith is very much into flying and is a licensed pilot. We‘ll talk about his plane, but rarely any comedy.

During the show tonight I saw Keith walk through the rear of the club and grab a table at the very back. I don’t recall him doing that very often if ever, so it got my attention. He usually just waits in the office or counts out the receipts or whatever club managers do.

Tonight I heard him laugh out loud countless times and after the show he came right up and shook my hand and told me how far I’d come since that first time and how much he enjoyed the whole show. In a strange way, it really made me feel like it was all worth it.

As luck would have it, I went a little long tonight because the audience was so fantastic. I told Keith it was me paying him back for the time I went short in 1984. I didn’t make a ton of money this week, but I got a lot of work done and am still in a positive mindset.

One Slick Negotiator

Friday October 30th, 2009 - Cranberry, PA

No show tonight but I’m not bummed out about it. This is a slow week and I knew that when I took the gig. We did have eight people show up so it wasn’t a total loss, but that’s still a little light to do a show. Not to say some places wouldn’t make us do one though.

I’ve had to do shows for two people. More than once. One time I even had to do a show for ONE guy - and he was a heckler. No joke. In every case the club owner reasons if he’s paying us to do a show, we’re going to do one no matter what. This is another reason club owners get minimal support from comedians. That’s just plain stupid to make us do that.

Nobody wants to be there and it makes everyone look bad. I’ve had classy places pay us out and call it a night. It’s not our fault if people don’t show up. They’re really buying our time for the night, not necessarily our act. We were there, but the crowd wasn’t. Too bad.

On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of clubs try to add additional shows over the years. I don’t mind, but be fair. One time I was working somewhere and the guy decided he could add an extra show during the Christmas season, but he was going to pay us half our price.

In other words, we were scheduled for X number of shows that week for Y dollars and even though I was never good at math I think you can figure out the formula for how the pay scale worked out. Say it boiled down to $100 a show for the week. He would pay the $100 for the scheduled shows but only $50 for the added one. He assumed we’d all do it.

I was just the opener back then and I really wanted the extra cash. No, I needed it. The headliner was a guy named Gary Kern, one of my early mentors. Great guy, great comic, horrible businessman. Common story in entertainment. He said he’d do it but I could tell he wasn’t thrilled about it. He hung his head and shrugged his shoulders and that was it.

The feature that week was a guy named Kyle Nape, also a mentor. He and Gary did a lot of work together and that’s very smart. Kyle was a comedy magician and a perfect lead in opener for Gary, who was dry but absolutely hilarious. It was a very good blend of styles.

Both those guys liked me and saw me as not only an up and comer, but someone they’d not want to strangle after being in a car for twelve hours. We went all over the country for many wonderful weeks of work until I was ready to feature myself and that was it. Those guys were both very instrumental in me getting started and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Gary passed away of a heart attack many years ago at the age of 36. Kyle is no longer in the comedy business but I did hear from him only a few years ago. I thanked him for how he and Gary took me under both their wings and he joked how they’d made a big mistake.

Anyway, back to the story. Kyle absolutely refused to do the extra show for the guy that night unless he got his full pay. The club owner was furious and the louder he hollered at Kyle the softer Kyle spoke. It was as if he enjoyed watching the guy squirm. And he did.

The club owner was foaming at the mouth screaming about how there was going to be a room full of people in fifteen minutes and he needed to have comedians. Kyle said he had no problem doing an extra show, but only if it were for 100% of the price of the others for the week. Then he sat down and calmly started putting his magic tricks away in his case.

I must admit it was fun watching the owner’s face turn purple and the wheels turn in his devious head. Then he came to Gary and me, trying to convince us of his logic. He told us since we were already there the money would be a bonus, not a rip off as Kyle saw it. He tried to spin it as a positive and quite frankly I was ready to jump at it. I needed that cash.

Kyle picked up his case and said very calmly to the owner, “SO, what’s it going to be?” The owner looked out and saw a full room and told us he’d be right back. He went out to call the booker, which happened to be John Yoder of Funny Business. John spoke to Kyle and tried to convince him to do the extra show and just take the money, but Kyle said no.

There was a lot of tension backstage and at one point Gary just asked Kyle to please do it and take the found money. Kyle had worked in the corporate world in Toronto and told us how we’d all thank him after we got our full pay. Sure enough, at show time the owner slithered backstage and snarled in Kyle‘s face, “All RIGHT…you’ll get the full money.”

Kyle wasn’t finished. “ALL of us will get the full money?” The club owner was getting even more upset, and I didn’t think that was possible. “NO, just YOU.” Kyle wouldn’t let it go. “Sorry, we ALL are in this show together and we ALL need to get paid full price.”

By now the guy wanted to strangle Kyle but it was time to start the show and he gave in rather than see if Gary and I would do it without him. It was a good old fashioned pissing contest and Kyle just plain out-pissed the guy. From that day on, Kyle Nape was my hero.

We all discussed it the next day in the car, and Kyle said he refused to get treated LIKE an idiot, BY an idiot. He said he was prepared to walk away and that’s why he knew he’d get the money. The guy had a full room and needed us, even for only one night. Kyle said he wasn’t going to let the guy screw us and didn‘t care if he ever worked that place again.

How many others would have had the stones to do what Kyle did then? Not many. I was willing to take half the money and so was Gary. Not Kyle. I really learned a lot from both those guys, but Kyle was king when it came to off stage business. No wonder he’s now in the corporate world again. Even he couldn’t stand a steady diet of comedy club oil cans.

I know we’re not the only ones in entertainment to get screwed over though. Musicians, actors, strippers, you name it. Anyone who is in business as an entertainer has stories that make mine look like Sunday School lessons. Still, when it’s personal it hurts a lot more.

No worries about tonight though. I had a great day of solid work and even got in a walk. The weather was again perfect and I’m in a creative wavelength that’s cranking out really strong ideas like water. I’m moving ahead and having fun doing it. This is how I like it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Einstein Was Right

Thursday October 29th, 2009 - Pittsburgh, PA

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices, but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thought in clear form.” - Albert Einstein, quoted in N.Y. Times, March 19, 1940.

I’ve always had an affinity for Albert Einstein, mainly because we share a birthday of March 14th. That may be the only thing we have in common, but this quote rings as true now as it did when I first heard it years ago. Translation: Idiots don’t grasp true vision.

That’s how I feel about this whole demented debacle with Giggles and Funny Business. I’m in a fantastic space in my head right now and who’d have thought a drive through the back woods of West Virginia would put me there? I wouldn’t have thought so, but it did.

Yesterday’s drive was way too long and hectic at the end, but today was completely the opposite. The weather was perfect so I decided to take U.S. Highway 19 out of Bluefield heading north toward Pittsburgh. I wound through the mountains and through a bunch of secluded Mayberry like towns I’d never seen before. It put a whole new spin on all this.

Not ONE of those people cared about any bounced checks or knew I was a comedian or the fact I was on national TV this year or anything else other than my car is red. I waved to people as I passed and they waved back. Most of them smiled and there was nothing to be angry about. This tiny little flea fart doesn‘t mean jack in the big picture. I‘ll survive.

I was in a very creative mind space all day and stopped a few times to write down notes so I wouldn’t forget them. Trying to write on the steering wheel on those winding roads is a sure recipe for a fiery one car rollover. That would be a shame, because apparently I am aggravating some of the mediocre people with what I’m doing. I’m delighted to hear that.

I never set out to piss people off so much, but throughout my life I sure have succeeded. Those few I clash with usually hang on like pit bulls with lockjaw and that means I made a lasting impression on them. The best way to piss them off even more is to ignore them.

The wife of the Giggles owner is apparently telling anyone who’ll listen how evil I am. Good! She’s doing me a huge favor. Anyone that believes her will hopefully stay away so I can have more time for the quality people. I know a whole lot more of those anyway.

I don’t want to deal with these insects anymore. I got a bum check but that will pass in time. That guy has to wake up next to her every single morning, so I win in the long run. She’s being a borderline stalker but I just delete all of her incessant emails and texts.

They’re the ones that started it by bouncing the check. NOT acceptable. Then the Funny Business wouldn’t fight for me and that’s wrong too. I’ve goofed many times but not this one. I’m glad to see I’ve managed to get under their skin. It’s about time somebody does.

I don’t wish anything bad on either of them, but I don’t have to. I think they will bring it upon themselves. Bouncing checks is THE cardinal sin in comedy and I’m not at all sorry I stood up for myself. They might not like how I did it but it sure captured some attention. I have special needs too - food, clothing and shelter. The comics need to be PAID. Period.

There’s an old joke I always loved. It says “How do you give an idiot a small business? Give him a large one and wait.” I see how Giggles and Comedy Café and Funny Business have shrunk over the years and it’s no surprise. I predict all three will continue to spiral.

The main reason is how they treat the comics. There is a complete lack of respect and I for one refuse to accept that from anyone who is clueless. None of them ever grasped the concept of what it takes to put on quality comedy shows and in a sense they’ve taken on a role of nothing short of pimps. We comedians are the whores, and we’re all disposable.

For years there was an endless supply of comedians on all levels who needed work from agencies and clubs like these. We’d take any and all abuse they might dish out, thinking it would somehow get us ‘in’ to get those gravy gigs, but that never seemed to materialize.

Instead, we’d get cancelled a week out because somebody like a Tommy Chong could be booked rather than us, and we’d be out of luck. No ‘Sorry’, no ‘Let me pay you for the inconvenience’, no NOTHING - just an empty week on the calendar with zero income.

These kinds of things happen over and over in the comedy world but I don’t think most outsiders really care. Then they wonder why a comic snaps at a heckler. Year after year of being treated like a soggy cat turd will sour almost anyone. I myself have reached a limit.

As I drove in the sunshine today it occurred to me what a favor Eric Yoder did by firing me. Thanks Buddy! Now I won’t have to secretly hope I’ll finally get paid back for all my years of loyalty and get to work a complete run of your rooms for decent money one after the other so I can clear out my financial backlog. Now I know I have to get on it myself.

I always knew it, but I think we as dented cans seem to hope there will be some random phone call from a booker who has treated us like mud for years, suddenly changing a tune that hasn’t changed in decades. It’s like expecting a Nazi to suddenly crave a matzoh ball.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way in the comedy world, but I am probably one of the few who’ll discuss it. I can’t shut my mouth about it and if I lose work, it’s not anything to build my career anyway. If I have to drive a truck, at least I’ll have my dignity and self esteem, and I’ll know my way around the country from all my years on the road.

We as comics will have to be entrepreneurial and book more of our own shows and just slide past these weasels. How hard can it be? I for one am not going to cower to whims of anyone I don’t respect, and if that means I get fired, I get fired. But, now they have a very experienced competitor who can not only do what they do, but BE the show as well. Let’s see who’s where a year from now. One club or booker does not a career quash. Game on!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Driving Myself Crazy

Wednesday October 28th, 2009 - Bluefield, WV

What an idiot I can be sometimes. Today was one of them. I accepted a gig in Bluefield, WV which is 714 miles from home. I’ve worked here before and should have known how far it is, but it’s been a while and I didn’t bother to look it up. I’ll surely not do that again.

There were several reasons why I did it. First, Halloween week is usually pretty slow in the comedy business. Everyone is at parties and I totally get that. I had this week open so I took this gig and strung it together with a weekend in Pittsburgh. In theory, it’s smart.

In reality, it’s a LONG drive for not enough of a payoff. In the old days there were a lot more one nighters to string together and I may have been able to put two or three stops on the tour before I got to Pittsburgh. Those are drying up quickly, and this is all I could find.

Now I have a night off to fill, at my own expense of course. My friend Darryl Rhoads is working in Ft. Wayne this week at a club called Snickerz. I haven’t been there in years so I thought I’d not only hang out with Darryl but also poke my head in and see about work.

Again, it didn’t seem that far but looking at it closer it’s 450 miles from here. Then it’s another 350 or so to get to Pittsburgh tomorrow. That’s too far and I admit in my old age I’m not nearly as bullet proof for driving as I used to be. I used to be able to grind it out.

The times are surely changing on all fronts. I’m getting older, the gigs are getting fewer, gas prices are getting higher and I’m getting tired of it all. The thrill is long gone and now it’s just a chore. I said years ago if it ever got to be like that I’d quit. Well, it’s like that. If I keep doing it so haphazardly. I’ll never get out of this rut. It’s time to evolve gracefully.

I’ll never quit enjoying the stage time, but the drives are getting longer. I stopped to see my friend Greg Phelps in Indianapolis on the way here. He’s a former comic that’s moved on and started his own business. We talked about the road life and he said he doesn’t miss it at all. His family gets to see him and he’s got a daily routine. What’s so bad about that?

I guess everything has plusses and minuses but right now I wouldn’t mind having some routine in my life. I’ve seen the country and it’s beautiful but driving to Bluefield in a day doesn’t float my boat anymore. Even NASCAR drivers only have to drive for 500 miles.

Greg and I talked about my CD project because that’s what his business does. He helps design packages and arrange orders and is very good at it. I’ll use him in some capacity to do both my comedy CD and also the recorded version of my comedy classes. He’ll do the job and I also want to see him get the business because he’s a quality guy and deserves it.

I left Greg’s house and headed south on I-74 to Cincinnati. Then I went south on I-75 to Lexington, KY and east on I-64 to Charleston, WV. I didn’t need a map as I’ve driven all these roads many times before. I set the cruise control and popped in some tapes and used the time as a work day. I transformed my car into a mobile office and made the most of it.

I laid out all of the notes I’ve been making lately about my comedy classes and took the best ideas and wrote them on a legal pad. I came up with a skeleton outline of three levels of classes and I was very happy with the results. This will be a thorough teaching course.

I know I probably shouldn’t be writing when I’m driving but I put the legal pad right on the steering wheel and jot notes and catch phrases down as I watch the road. If I do crash head on into a pole at least I’ll die doing something I love. The notes can be saved also.

As I was driving east on I-64, Kentucky became West Virginia and I passed through the town of Huntington. That’s the home town of Soupy Sales, who passed away last week. It reminded me of the week we worked together in Reno when I lived there. He was a trip.

I don’t think younger people realize what a huge star he was in his day. We were sitting in a restaurant at the Reno Hilton where we were working when an older lady came up to Soupy and asked for an autograph. She was shaking with nervousness but Soupy signed a placemat and she just about jumped out of her orthopedic shoes. He made her whole year.

I liked working with Soupy because I’m a student of the game and knew how much of a star he was in his day. He could sense I knew what I was talking about and his wife Trudy told me all week how much Soupy liked me and would laugh while I was on stage. What a sweetheart she was and probably still is. When I heard he’d passed I felt sad for her.

At the end of the week we worked together Soupy asked me if I’d work a benefit show he did every year in Huntington. I told him I would if I was available and Trudy contacted me a couple of times over the years but I was never able to do it. I’m sorry that I wasn’t.

Life is short and then it’s over. Soupy’s life came and went and mine will too. Whether or not I’m a big star doesn’t matter. It’s about doing what pleases ME. It used to be going from town to town doing comedy and seeing the country. Now I’ve seen it. That part isn’t the fun adventure it used to be so it’s time to revamp my plan. I’m the one in charge here.

When I got to Charleston there was a horrific accident and traffic was completely halted on I-77. That wasn’t what I needed and I called the Holiday Inn and told them it would be a close call. If I was lucky, I’d make it just at show time. If not, I’d keep them posted as to where I was and we’d go from there. I could feel the stress coming on and I dreaded it.

I inched through the accident scene and it took WAY too long. I then had to haul ass on I-77, which is a mountainous curvy toll road with all kinds of twist and turns. It was like a big video game as I raced at top speed to get to Bluefield, and I made it about an hour late only to find sixteen people sitting in the hotel lounge, calmly watching the World Series.

Nobody cared if I was there or not. The bar manager Lori Bailey is a sweetie and I know her from last time I was here. She was glad I made it safely and wasn’t angry at all. There is no opening act anymore and they just have one comedian. I had to go up and do my set to sixteen people just after driving over 700 miles. This isn’t what I thought life would be.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday Maintenance

Monday October 26th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

For the first time in a long time, I had an entire Monday off. No comedy classes to teach or showcases to host at Zanies, no lunches scheduled with comedians or bookers or ladies I like, no trip into Chicago to pick up my mail. Nothing. Instead I used the day to continue pushing forward to keep momentum going. My battle with time management never quits.

I enjoy teaching and hosting and lunching and hanging out but it did feel good to relax a little. Between the travel to weekend comedy shows and preparing for two radio shows, it can all be an energy drain. Then, having to come right back on Monday can be too much.

My walking at the mall is getting to be a regular activity, but not yet habit. I’ll start for a while and then stop for whatever reason, usually because I’m on the road. I’m booked for the next two weeks so it will be a challenge to keep up. I’ve been doing well lately though and today I did four laps for the first time ever. I was toast by the end but I did get it done.

I listened to Brian Tracy the first two laps but the second two I used to visualize what is really important to me. I pictured myself on stage in a theatre getting big laughs and being connected with the audience like I was in Minnesota last week. I also pictured myself in a class situation where there’s a room full of people having fun and learning about comedy.

I pictured myself surrounded by friends and even a family. I visualized my money being plentiful and owing no bills and having no tax problems. I pictured my sports cards not in my life anymore and there being a deal made that both parties find fair and appealing so it isn’t painful. It takes effort to focus on a vivid picture but taking laps is the time to do it.

I’m trying to compartmentalize my projects and I worked on that today as I watched the Monday Night Football game. I can’t remember the last Monday night game I was able to just sit and watch and it felt good, even though it wasn’t a great game. Still, I enjoyed it. It was a lesson to see the Redskins go down in flames even though their owner is mega rich.

The lesson is, money is important but not the only thing. There has to be some kind of a plan in place and it has to be executed. Gramps was right, it really is a matter of balancing everything in life and most people aren’t able to achieve it. I’m trying to be one of the few who at least make a valiant attempt. I can feel myself doing a lot of the right things lately.

There are still a lot more to do though. I tried to put a picture in my mind of how I want things to go in the next year or so. I made notes on a legal pad and the next step will be to make three ring binders and have step by step ‘to do’ lists for my comedy career, classes, Jerry’s Kidders, the Mothership Connection show, Uranus Factory Outlet and life itself.

That might not be how everyone else works, but as for me I need to see it written down in order and have it right in front of me to check often. I need to start writing down goals for the following day the night before and also make weekly and monthly times to plan in advance the following weeks and months. I used my day off wisely and I‘m thrilled I did.

Monday, October 26, 2009

From Sink To Sync

Sunday October 25th, 2009 - Minneapolis, MN/Kenosha, WI

Another fantastic day for many reasons. First, it was totally worth driving all the way to Minnesota for just the one show last night. I’ve always liked the Twin Cities but have not been able to find a steady work base up there over the years. I’ve worked sporadically for various clubs and bookers but they’ve all either closed their club, sold it or passed away.

Now that my foot is in the door, I am absolutely going to pursue it. It’s a super comedy town and always has been. There are quite a few successful comedians who have made an impact in the business that started up there including Louie Anderson and Mitch Hedberg and Tom Arnold, even though Tom was from Iowa originally. He moved to Minneapolis.

So did Jeff Cesario, a fantastic comedian and great guy who is originally from Kenosha, WI. I asked Jeff why he didn’t go to Chicago and he thought Minneapolis was a better fit at the time because it had a better scene for standup. In retrospect, he was absolutely right.

Joel Hodgson is another brilliant act who came out of Minneapolis. He was the original Mystery Science Theatre guy and very highly touted as I was coming up the ranks. I never met him but I’ve heard nothing but nice things and his work is respected by virtually all. I hear he’s writing for Disney now and I’d bet he’s earning some hefty coin. Good for him.

At this stage in my career I have to choose markets I can develop fans, not just take any gig in a random hell hole to patch monthly money holes. No more holes, at least not on a steady basis. I’m done with that now. The whole Giggles nightmare totally soured me.

Speaking of that, I talked with Tim Walkoe today. He’s a Chicago comic who was to be at Giggles this week but he ended up cancelling after he heard checks were bouncing. He asked for cash up front and apparently they wouldn’t give it to him so he backed out. I’m sorry he lost a week but glad he didn’t have to ski through the slalom of stupidity I did.

What really hurts is he was scheduled to be paid $200 more than I was. Tim is hilarious and I don’t begrudge him the money, but it hurt that the booker and the owner would have a sliding pay scale. And if they did, it hurt even more that I wasn’t at the top of it. I’m one of the strongest acts by far they booked and have given the club free radio plugs for years.

I also talked to John Roy and he’s scheduled to make even more than Tim. Again, I like John and think he’s not only very funny but an excellent business person, but it stings that I have been getting slighted on their pay scale. Their view of me was lower than I thought and it‘s a kick in the ass. Don‘t they know we comedians talk? Word gets out eventually.

I refuse to let this get me down though. I’m going to choose to use it as a lesson to make me get paid more in the future. As frustrating and humiliating as the whole Giggles fiasco may have been, it was the polar opposite last night at the Running Aces gig. Those people were there to see a show and I was right in their wheelhouse. There are THOUSANDS of people like that in Minnesota and MILLIONS in North America. I want to find them all.

It may have taken me way too long to do it, but I’m finally starting to get a grasp of the business part of the entertainment business. I’m seeing it in a whole new way, but it took a variety of sodomizations over a quarter of a century to open my eyes. Part of it was my own naivety but another part was just being lazy. I assumed things would just ‘work out’.

How wrong I was, but I’m not going to allow myself to get angry about it. It was all part of the process of paying dues, and not only will I learn my lessons well, I’ll use all this for teaching purposes in the future. My comedy classes will have some business lessons also.

Part of what put me in such a good space is that I’ve been packing my head with quality audio programs lately. I’m not saying I’m ‘cured’ and won’t get angry again, but I do feel myself changing my thinking process and it’s helping me feel better. My focus is healthy.

Rather than thinking about how deeply I can bury a blunt instrument into a club owner’s skull, I’m thinking of ways to build mailing lists and get in with new venues and basically reinvent myself. That’s smart and healthy and if I do that it will take my mind off anger.

I used the drive back for more education and growth. There was a Jiffy Lube right next to the hotel so I had them change both my oil and my blown headlight. The Vikings were playing so there was nobody in the joint and I got pampered service. It worked out exactly how it was supposed to and that’s where I want to remain. I feel in sync with the universe.

On the way home I re-listened to most of an audio course by E. Joseph Cossman, a mail order business legend. If there was an entrepreneurial Hall of Fame, he’d be in it. He died several years ago but my own mail order mentor Melvin Powers speaks with reverence on how brilliant E. Joseph Cossman was. It is my desire to follow in both of their footsteps.

They’re both solid business people and made millions working smartly and efficiently. I have done exactly the opposite and judging by where it’s gotten me, I need to completely change my tactics or resolve myself to a life of poverty. That’s not what I’m looking for.

Seven hours in the car flew by as I popped tape after tape in my cassette player and tried to take notes as I drove. I got so into it I didn’t even listen to the Packer game. It felt a lot better to pack my head with business smarts so I kept that vibe going and I’m glad I made that conscious choice. A Packer game lasts for an afternoon. Success lasts for a lifetime.

I want this diary to be a how to guide for other dented cans who aren’t satisfied with the hand they were dealt in life. There are some things I’ll never have no matter how famous or rich I get, but that’s not the point here. I know nothing will make up for a lack of what I think I missed out on in life, but having money and influence will help me help others.

I made it to the WLIP studio about five minutes before the Mothership Connection was to go on the air. I usually hate to cut it that close but I was feeling so good I knew I would make it, and I did. Those three hours flew by too. We had a super guest and again all of it was in sync, exactly how it should be. I’m not finished, but I sure am making big strides.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Minnesota Nice

Saturday October 24th, 2009 - Minneapolis, MN

Now THIS is how I picture comedy is supposed to be. I worked a really fun show at the Running Aces Harness Track just outside Minneapolis tonight and enjoyed every bit of it. The whole experience was top shelf and it gave me hope there are people with a clue after all. Everything from the venue itself to the audience to the other comics were excellent.

I’ve had this show on the books for a while and didn’t really know what to expect. Most casino shows aren’t that great unfortunately, even though everything else usually is. They almost always come with above average accommodations and a meal coupon, but the gig itself is usually free for the customers and they don’t pay attention to the show. Not here.

This was exactly the opposite. They charged $15 a ticket and the people kept coming in right up to show time. They must have had over 200 people in a beautiful room with a hot sound system that could be heard everywhere. These people came to laugh and they were a spectacular audience. I did just under an hour but time flew because it was such a blast.

The other comedians were newer but very nice and we all got along very well. We were a good fit and there were no problems or clashes with material or anything like that. Wild Bill Bauer is a Minneapolis comic who also co-booked the show and he came out and did a few minutes to get things going before bringing up the host. That was a nice addition.

Like I said, EVERYTHING about this show was right. They put me in a Country Inn & Suites which was not only very nice, but close to the gig as well. Within thirty seconds of walking in the door at the show I had my check from Bill and it was the same pay I had to fight for from Giggles for doing an entire week of brutal shows with a filthy opening act.

After the show I had people lining up to tell me how much they enjoyed it and I finally remembered to bring along cards to pass out so I can get a mailing list going. Three single hottie women begged to get a picture with me and we hung out for a while and then all of the comics went to get something to eat at the casino restaurant. It was like the old days.

To top it all off the special tonight was twin lobster tails and I had to pull the trigger on that. It seemed like a fitting end to a spectacular night and we all sat around talking about comedy, but in a good way. The other guys were young and eager to learn and didn’t have any axes to grind…yet. I told them to stay that way if they could. It’s not that easy to do.

This wasn’t a day to piss and moan about anything. I have a headlight out on my car but that can wait. With all the doom and gloom in the comedy business lately I wanted to take in every bit of positive energy I could about today. The show was killer, the comedians on it were very nice guys, the hotel was really good, I wish every gig would work like this.

There’s really no reason they shouldn’t, other than people who aren’t comedians run the booking end of it. Wild Bill Bauer and his partner Rox Tarrant are both comics so they’re on top of it and I’d work for them anytime. This was totally worth it and I’m glad I came.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Son Of A Glitch

Friday October 23rd, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Just when I thought I was starting to get a teeny tiny itsy bitsy wee little half a smidgen of momentum going in the pursuit of my dreams, BANG - here comes the old unexpected shot in the dark mystery glitch out of nowhere to throw me off course and into the ditch.

I’ve been making healthy progress on my new CD project lately. Donna Gurda has been working on the actual recording master and should have a finished product soon from the sound engineer she’s been using for years. I’ll get billed fairly and I know it’ll sound good too. Donna knows what she’s doing and between the two they’ll make sure it’s not a dud.

Today I talked with my friend Greg Phelps in Indianapolis. He’s a former comedian but has started his own business duplicating CD projects. He got off the road to spend time at home with his family and I never fault a guy for that. He’s the guy I want to have help me because I’ve known him over twenty years. I know he’s honest and knows entertainment.

Greg and I went back and forth for about a half an hour exchanging ideas of what we’re each thinking the project will be. He’s got practical experience in printing all kinds of CD projects and I wanted to see if there were any new gimmicks I could use to get noticed.

I spent an extra chunk of money on my last one because I wanted it to look professional, which it did. That was a few years ago and I had a financial cushion because I had my job at the Loop. I had the cash so I did it up right. I invested in myself and I’m very glad I did.

I don’t have that luxury now but I’ll still find a way to make it the absolute best looking and sounding product I can for whatever money I can scrape together. I know both Donna and Greg will work with me and I’ll pay them both back many times over. I appreciate the help and I’d do the same for both of them and they know it. This will be a shoestring job.

The one thing I wasn’t worried about was the cover art. Of course, that’s the part that is turning out to be the glitch. I received a phone call tonight from Pedro Bell, asking if I’d received the final copy of my artwork yet. I told him I hadn’t, and he sounded quite upset.

I’d been dealing with an assistant of his and apparently they’ve just had a major falling out eerily similar to the one I had with my ex business partner. Pedro sounded like he was near tears at first, but then explained that he needs to use assistants because he has health issues that affect his vision. I’d heard he did, but I was still thrilled to be able to hire him.

The person I dealt with kept putting off the final product, saying it would be ‘done very soon’. I assumed Pedro was either busy or in ill health and I didn’t complain about it. It’s always been my dream to have him do a cover for me so I figured waiting was worth it.

Apparently the assistant told Pedro the work was finished and that’s why Pedro was so upset. He was very apologetic and said he didn’t do business ‘that way’ and I believe him. I’d always heard he was an honest guy and I told him not to worry about it. We’ll fix it.

James Wesley Jackson used to open for Funkadelic and he’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. James knew Pedro very well and swears by him and that’s good enough for me. If James says someone’s ok, that’s all I need to hear. Still, the timing is unbelievable.

Pedro said my project and another one he was working on got affected by this mess. He told me the story of how he found out and it was way too similar to mine. He said he had to fire the guy and end a business relationship that went back going on thirty years. He is rightfully upset and I told him I could unfortunately relate, but that doesn’t make it better.

I really feel bad for the guy. I’ve enjoyed his artwork since I was a kid in the ‘70s and to hear he got hosed by a business partner just frosts my ass to no end. I met him at the show when Funkadelic was in town and he is NOT a millionaire. Far from it. He works hard to make a living and apparently the guy who ripped him off has a well paying cushy job.

There isn’t much I can do about any of this other than wait for the dust to settle. Pedro’s health requires he has an assistant and I have to wait until he gets a new one in place. I am still hoping to get the CD out soon, but it won’t be Friday November 13th like I’d hoped.

Welcome to life, business, show business, whatever you want to pin this on. People just do what they do, and it stinks. I still don’t think my ex partner thinks he did a single thing wrong. In his mind, he ‘borrowed’ a ‘few bucks‘, and I ‘overreacted’. I’m still pissed now but that won’t bring the rest of the money back. Pedro and I both have to keep slugging.

I’ll get the artwork when the time is right. Pedro apologized several times and we talked for almost an hour. I wish we could have spoken under better circumstances because I am such a huge fan of his work. Anyone who knows Funkadelic album covers knows who he is, and even though most of my fans probably don’t, I couldn’t care less. It’s a huge thrill.

At least I did see the black and white sketch and it’s really fantastic. I told Pedro I loved it and he was glad to hear that. He was worried I’d be angry, but far from it. I knew he did his part, it was apparently the other guy who was supposed to finish the colorization part.

This will get fixed and I’ll release the CD and nobody will know the difference. I’m still in a good mental place and today I tried to practice more balance. Gramps would be proud of me because I’m putting in solid effort lately and even I can feel progress. I’m growing.

I had another lunch with Marc Schultz today and that’s always positive. He’s getting an interest from my Late Late Show DVD and thinks I will be getting more work in the new year. That’s great news and after lunch I went to the Gurnee Mills Mall to keep walking.

I did three full laps today and I was exhausted at the end, but also exhilarated. I listened to a Brian Tracy CD and I always enjoy his programs. He spoke about putting big picture type business plans in place for an individual life and it was really interesting. It’s a much more productive walk when I have stuff like that soaking into my brain. I’m glad I started doing it. I’ll be able to work my way through this latest glitch, but it sure was unexpected.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The One Word Secret

Thursday October 22nd, 2009 - Mt. Prospect, IL/Naperville, IL

One of the greatest books that’s ever helped me figure out the mysteries of life the most was written by of all people my grandfather. It’s jam packed with wisdom and humor and all kinds of great stories, and there’s a healthy dose of reality in it too. It’s a true classic.

It was written with love and every chapter has a well thought out purpose. It’s not fancy or long, but it does have quite a few vivid pictures and a bittersweet ending. The sad parts are a downer but the happy parts by far make up for it. I refer back to it every single day.

Gramps never actually published his book but he did write the manuscript in an unusual place - inside my heart. He spent quality time with me for years, planting seeds, knowing I wasn’t yet ready for most of what he was saying. Those seeds sprouted and are now full grown healthy fruit bearing trees that have sustained me through some very tough times.

I’m not claiming to be free of mistakes, but I know Gramps helped me make the best of my life’s circumstances. He opened doors in my head that would’ve been shut forever had it not been for him making a point of passing on a few tips he’d acquired on his journey.

I was thinking of one of his wisest teachings today. He told me the one magic word that is the true secret to success in any life is balance. Balancing everything is no easy task and Gramps used to say very few if anyone ever manages to do it. If one thing gets going well, everything else is left undone. Then when that gets attention, the original thing unravels.

It sort of made sense as a kid, but it couldn’t be clearer now. If someone devotes time to career, family life struggles. Vice versa is also true. It’s true all around. If someone works out physically but doesn‘t read, the brain rots. Everything requires time and energy and if anyone spends too much time on any one thing it throws that life out of delicate balance.

I tried for balance today in honor of Gramps. I went to my accountant to sign my return, but at least taxes are done for another year. I’ll actually be getting a couple of bucks back so it wasn’t horrible, but I really need to get better at this so I can avoid a hassle next year.

After that I went to see my friend Todd Hunt speak to a group in Naperville, IL. He was excellent and I learned by watching. Then we went for lunch to further discuss how to get a marketing plan in place. I wanted to pick Todd’s brain after seeing him work, and I did.

Tonight I sorted some sports cards and kept that plate spinning, even though I want the whole load of them gone ASAP. If I let them sit, it won’t get them out of my life. I really need to chip away at it until I sort them all into categories, then get the best price I can.

I also worked for a while on booking guests for The Mothership Connection radio show and also looked at my own bookings for the new year. Then I looked over my class lesson plans and banged out some work on that too. I heard from a woman I really like so I spent time talking to her. Oh, I got my walk in too. Gramps was right, balance is no easy task.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Esoteric Agenda

Wednesday October 21st, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

Someone I know turned me on to an internet film called ‘The Esoteric Agenda’ recently and I finally got some time today to watch it. It’s the same person who told me about ‘The Zeitgeist Movement’ and I found that to be interesting also. If you get a chance to watch it you may find it either fascinating or repulsive but that’s your call. It’s at

I really don’t know what to believe anymore. Since I’ve started hosting The Mothership Connection radio show I’ve been delving more into these kinds of topics for the show but I’ve always had an interest in them, even as a kid. There has to be more than just this little bitty speck of a planet we’re on and even that seems to be too much for humans to handle.

The Esoteric Agenda covers everything from religions to conspiracies to that one world government I’ve been hearing about since I was a kid. That seems to be more and more a distinct possibility with every passing day and nobody seems to think the future is bright.

What the hell is happening around us? Is there really a group of elite ultra rich that has a plan to wipe out 90% of the current world’s population? Is the Swine Flu all a big hoax to dupe us into taking the vaccine, which will do more to hurt us than help us? Is everything a big sham, including the government and the Federal Reserve System? Many think so.

It sure is hard to be funny when I keep seeing things like this everywhere I look. I get all kinds of things forwarded to me and I’m getting burned out on looking at them because it paints a picture of doom and gloom. I think I’m starting to see why so many people drink.

Still, I wonder what the real truth is? One person I think does an excellent job of getting his points across and informing people is David Icke. His website is and he’s got several fascinating books and videos that really put a new light on all of this. People thought he was a wackadoo for years but now he’s proving to be right on target.

Global conspiracies and mind control and the New World Order aren’t what I hoped my life would involve at this juncture but I guess it’s unavoidable. Look how much the world has changed in the past twenty years alone. My grandfather died in 1981 and I don’t think he’d recognize the place if he came back today. We’ve seen dramatic changes since then.

I for one am not liking what I’m seeing in the world. I see too many innocent people not getting what they need and that’s just plain wrong. When greed rules, those in charge take everything for themselves and leave everyone else to twist in the wind. Does it have to be that way? Am I that naïve to think there’s enough of everything in the universe for us all?

Seeing all of this insanity going on makes me feel totally insignificant. All I ever wanted was to get some laughs and make people happy for a while. I don’t want wars or religious oppression or government tyranny or anything like that. I want fun. What planet has that? Peace would be nice too. Justice for everyone couldn’t hurt either, could it? I’m sure glad this life eventually ends, because at some point I hope to end up in a place I fit in better.

Hard Luck Jollies

Tuesday October 20th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

It’s time for a new CD. I recorded a whole week of shows at Zanies in Chicago in 2007 and I tried to do every scrap of material I’d ever done so I’d have variety to choose from. I was hoping to cut it up into two, maybe three separate products but it hasn‘t been done.

At the time I was still working with my business partner and he arranged the recording project by hiring a sound engineer to come in and plug into the system at Zanies. The first couple of shows didn’t thrill anyone as I remember but the weekend shows were all solid.

The last thing I enjoy doing is watching or listening to myself. I never did. I heard it as I did it and that’s enough for me. Rodney Dangerfield said he didn’t like it either because if he made even one little mistake that’s what he’d focus on, not everything that went right.

I can relate to that very much. If I don’t like it I’ll want to do it over and maybe I’ll do it differently and not make it as good as the original take. I like to think I have good instinct and know what I’m doing on stage so I just leave it at that. I heard them laugh. It worked.

This project has been on hold since my business partner pulled his little embezzlement stunt right at the time when we were going to start releasing products every six months or so. That was the plan but the plan got put on hold. Until now. I can use something to sell.

I released my first CD back in 2003. It doesn’t seem like that long ago but it was. It was recorded in Louisville, KY but I sold the rights to it to Laughing Hyena Records, the guys who put out the truck stop comedy recordings where Jeff Foxworthy first got noticed. I’ve been without product to sell because they now hold all the rights to that particular project.

The deal was they hold ownership to the recording, but not the actual material. I am free to record it again so that’s what I did. I switched the order on some of the bits and made a few better and eliminated others. I made significant progress in the years since Louisville.

Now I have to get something out to show for it. Donna Gurda is helping me finish it and she understands the process as she produced Tom Green’s music projects for years. She is very good at details and I’m not but her mother’s been sick and that delayed this project.

Her mom passed away and now she’s ready to get going again. I also have the cover art I hired Pedro Bell to do, who was the artist on many of Funkadelic and George Clinton’s CD projects in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. That alone was a thrill and I can’t wait to see it all come together as a finished product. It’ll be better than the last one and that didn’t suck.

The last one was called ‘Lucked, Plucked, and Just Plain…Funny’. I’m going to call the new one ‘Hard Luck Jollies’, as a tribute to Funkadelic’s ‘Hardcore Jollies’. I asked Pedro Bell to model it after the original artwork and he absolutely nailed it. He did a spectacular job and those who know the original will be blown away. I was. For those who don’t have a clue of who Funkadelic is, it’s still very unique and will stand out. It’s time to release it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heads Up For Hannibal

Monday October 19th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

I took three laps in the Gurnee Mills mall this morning and I felt like I’d conquered Mt. Everest. I was worn out at the end, but the feeling of accomplishment was worth it. I also felt the blood pumping and the sweat flowing and the soreness in my legs. It was all good.

I added a new twist today. I brought a Discman CD player and listened to a program by Wayne Dyer called “Secrets Of The Power Of Intention” as I walked. I love Wayne Dyer. His programs always make me think and this is one of his best. It has a lot of solid points.

One of the things the program talks about is how important it is for everyone to work on being a creative being and tapping into that force which is inside of all of us. It spoke very loudly to me and it was the exact thing I needed to hear right now. I tried to soak it all in.

Most self help programs boil down to a few basic points. The main one is, the mind is a powerful entity and we are in control of ours if we choose to be. Great things have gotten accomplished when people have chosen to use their minds to attain whatever they desire.

Another main point is that the Law of Attraction really works. We get what we focus on because our mind attracts what we think about. Too many people, myself included, aren’t where they want to be because they don’t do the proper things it takes to achieve the goal.

Worse than that, most people don’t have any goals at all. Then they bitch and moan that life isn’t what they want it to be. I’ve been guilty of that myself but who hasn’t? Listening to audio programs won’t guarantee success but filling my mind with thoughts like this is a great way to get it kick started to DO something. I’m finally starting to take action on this.

Meeting with the people I’ve been meeting with has been totally positive. I choose only those I think have the best potential for making win/win situations and today I had dinner with Bill Gorgo. He’s a real teacher by day but also a life long comedy student, as am I.

After dinner we sat down and went over each lesson and he helped me divide it up into order of importance. His teaching experience helped me organize and it was productive to bounce ideas off of him. This is how to get better and I can feel improvement everywhere. This might be taking longer than I thought, but I’m finally making a plan and executing it.

I hosted the showcase at Zanies in Chicago and it was another red hot show. The crowd and lineup of comics were both on and that’s always a pleasure. Hannibal Burress was on the show and this kid has nothing but talent. He’s 26 and WAY farther along than I was at that age. He lives in New York now and is doing all the right things. I predict a big career.

The kid has a natural gift and is working hard at developing it. That’s rare. Usually only one prevails - a gift or work ethic. One without the other is wasted. Hannibal has a shot to really be huge, and you heard it here first. His website is If I had to pick one kid to watch, he’d be it. Get on his bandwagon and tell him I sent you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Team Dynamics

Sunday October 18th, 2009 - Kenosha, WI

Green Bay Packers win, Chicago Bears lose. Any time that happens it’s a splendiferous day in my world. I’m ashamed to admit that I feel that way, but I do. I’m a Packer fan for life and no matter how much I say I don’t care about who wins or loses, I know I‘m lying. I wish I could just turn off that switch inside me but I can’t find the fuse box. I’m hooked.

The Packers weren’t shown in the Chicago market so I took that as a sign to keep going on my projects and get something productive done instead. Sitting around for three hours shouting obscenities at a TV isn’t going to get me anywhere but a mental health facility.

I don’t have to watch the games anymore, I just want to know the outcome. This wasn’t a marquee match up and in fact I heard it was an ugly game, even though the Packers won 26-0. They played the Detroit Lions who were riddled with injury. That’s like getting into a fist fight at a nursing home. A victory doesn’t mean much but it feels good to kick ass.

I’m interested in kicking ass with a purpose. Life is a much tougher opponent than some old croaker in a convalescent center and I have to deal with getting hit back. Hard. I don’t have three hours on a Sunday to waste watching football right now so I’ll use that time to better myself while most of the rest of America is rotting on a couch in a pigskin trance.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy that and won’t be doing it in the future, but for now it’s more important to keep the positive momentum going. Step by step I’m starting to get my battle plan together and am surrounding myself with the most skilled people I can think of to team up with in every area so I can make a team that gets us all where we want to go.

I’ve got Marc Schultz in place for handling corporate bookings. I’ve got Jerry’s Kidders to give me something fun to be part of on the radio, as well as the Mothership Connection on WLIP in Kenosha, WI. Those are two teams of outstanding people that make me show up every week just because I enjoy their company. I‘m laying the foundation for success.

I’ve got Todd Hunt to help me with a promotional campaign and Vince Vieceli to help align my lesson plans with classes and one by one I’m putting people in place that have a special knack for whatever particular facet I need to develop. Shelley handles my web site but she’s working full time now so I’ve got some others lined up to help out in that area.

I’m working on finding people for all areas. Bill Gorgo is helping me with classes and it fits perfectly. He’s funny, knows what he’s talking about and we get along great. Zanies is still booking me and lets me do pretty much whatever I want when it comes to teaching at their locations so I’ve got a great base of operations in Chicago. There are some positives.

I’m also weeding out the leakers. The numbers game of life is such that if I run across a weenie I really don’t have to have any interaction with him or her very long. I can choose to go around them or ignore them but I don’t have to let them bother me like they used to. That alone is an empowering concept. Why waste time on imbeciles without any vision?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Me? A Writer?

Saturday October 17th, 2009 - Chicago, IL/Crystal Lake, IL

I’m starting to put a few positive days together in a row and that’s how a successful life is built. One good day hopefully leads to another and another and before long winning has become a habit. The off days will be the exception rather than the rule and then hopefully the tide will turn right back to the good side again. I’ve been making wise choices lately.

Getting the tax stuff moving was a smart decision and I followed it up by starting to get the giant monkey of sports cards off my back by starting to get them ready for sale. That’s exactly what I need to do at this time in my life and move past a mistake I made without it festering and becoming worse. I took a calculated risk and it didn’t pan out. That’s life.

Today I kept the ball rolling and put more nickels into the cosmic slot machine. We had a lot of fun on our Jerry’s Kidders segment on WGN and received positive feedback from several sources. People in the building like us and we get complimented in the halls a lot.

It’s very flattering to be treated like that in one of the biggest radio stations in the world but I never get cocky because Jerry says we get hate mail every week. WGN has long had a reputation for having an audience so old they remember when radio wasn’t and they are trying to remedy that and move into the 21st century. To be hated by some is a good sign.

I don’t read that hate mail, just as I didn’t read the psychotic ramblings of Mrs. Giggles owner through this whole unpleasant series of events. Pushing delete is much easier and it doesn’t get my shorts up in a bundle. Those small time criminals are out of my life and it doesn’t bother me in the least. They’ve motivated me to take my life to a far higher level.

I thank them for treating me as poorly as they did because I guess I needed that big of an incentive to chase a higher goal. Most comedians take a lot of abuse partly because we’ve become used to it over the years and just grow to accept it. I’d like to think I’m able to get better work at better places for better pay and now is my opportunity to prove I’m right.

Tonight I met with Vince Vieceli to go over the nuts and bolts of the lesson plans of my comedy class. Just as Todd Hunt is the best self promoter I know, Vince is the best editor of copy. He really knows his stuff and absolutely shines when it comes to anything that is associated with the English language. I’m aligning myself with the best people I can find.

Vince had a lot of valuable input not only with my copy structure but also in turning me on to some people that are doing really well in their own world like David Sedaris. I knew the name but never really followed his work very closely. Stupid me. He’s got a following that comes to hear him read his essays out loud and has become an industry unto himself.

What it all boils down to is marketing. David Sedaris did something nobody in his field was doing and it caught on big time. He was a trendsetter. No matter if anyone else took a similar path, he’s looked at as the standard. Rush Limbaugh is the same thing. Whatever a person thinks of him personally doesn’t matter. Rush did what he did first and did it best.

That’s totally what I’m looking to do with whatever it is I’m doing. I’ve got experience in many areas of entertainment and I know there’s a niche for me somewhere, or at least I really believe that. That’s half the battle. If I didn’t believe it I’d just quit and drive a bus.

The whole idea of this diary was to practice my writing on a daily basis and document a comedian’s life on the road so future generations of aspiring performers can hopefully see they’re not the only ones that struggle. I wanted to be an inspiration to fellow dented cans but also be entertaining to the average reader if possible. I’m just cataloging my thoughts.

Lots of people have kept diaries from Anne Frank to Jim Bouton to David Sedaris and I remember hearing somewhere a quote that said “A life worth living is a life worth writing about” or something pretty close to that. Those three are about as different as three people can get and my life is completely different from theirs too. I need to find a core audience.

David Sedaris apparently did. Vince Vieceli works at a book store and is a big fan of his books. He said they sell well and are funny. I trust Vince’s opinion and I’ll check him out to see what I can learn. Dave Barry is another guy I never explored. I’ve seen all kinds of books by him in stores but he’s never been on my radar. Until now. I’ll study him as well.

Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four” was the inspiration for me starting this project. I read it in high school and absolutely loved it. I still do. He talks about what it’s really like to be a baseball player and describes it honestly. That’s what I want to do about being in comedy. It’s not always fun and it’s surely not glamorous and I hope I can capture that for readers.

I really don’t look at myself as a writer but I think that has to change. I may not be good at it, but at least I’m consistent. I do it every single day and have for several years now. If nothing else I’d like to think I’m getting at least getting a little better by now and if I ever was asked to show samples of what I’ve written I’ve got a whole archive to choose from.

Sometimes people ask me why my diary isn’t funny and I tell them it’s not supposed to be funny, at least not all the time. I write about what I’m feeling or what’s going on in my life and like with everyone, that’s all over the place. Comedians are human beings and we all have many emotions to deal with as life unfolds. Funny is only part of that equation.

If nothing else, at least what I write is honest. I open my soul and let whatever is inside leak through my fingers onto the keyboard. To me that’s what real writing is, so I guess I am a writer after all even though I never saw myself as one before. I did it as an exercise.

Vince really opened up my eyes to a whole new universe. He’s a smart guy and loves to write humorous essays himself. In fact, I’d say he considers himself a writer who happens to do standup comedy. I’m the exact opposite. I always considered myself a comic first.

Maybe I’m a writer in there somewhere too. The same brain process goes into writing a joke as goes into writing a funny essay or article or book of such things. I think it‘s how it gets presented. This could help me find a whole new audience and that’s what I can use.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dealing The Cards

Friday October 16th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

My personal boot camp continues. Today I started getting my sports cards ready to sell and that’s going to be a major project. I bought out several collections in the last couple of years and I have way more inventory than I need or want right now. It was a mistake.

Things were different when I bought them and I had planned to hang on to them for at least a while and maybe do some card shows while on the road doing comedy shows. It’s a wonderful idea on paper but in the real world it’s not going to work out that way at all.

I’m not the first person to make a large stupid purchase and I won’t be the last. One of the best ones I ever heard of was from my friend Rick Geiser who does publicity work for Zanies and other people too. He’s helped me many times over the years and I’m grateful.

When I was on a morning radio show in Salt Lake City, Rick sent me a press release of a book written by a friend of his called ‘101 Uses For A Dead Cat’ or something like that. If that’s not the exact title it’s close enough to get across the point of what kind of product he was promoting. I thought I owed Rick a favor so I agreed to put the author on the air.

Actually he was a fine interview and we had fun with it. I can usually milk a few laughs out of a radio guest if they are at all engaging and this guy was as I remember. It felt good to help both Rick and the guy out but Rick told me later the guy’s whole world got wiped out from this project because he had some ungodly amount of books printed, like 10,000.

On top of that, I think he had them stored in his garage and his wife wasn’t thrilled with it and eventually they got a divorce over it. We’ve all made a rotten purchase in our lives but that was the cake taker. I feel bad for the guy because I know he thought he had a big winner when he wrote it or he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger and printed that many.

My situation is a little different, or at least I hope it is. There are still people who collect sports cards and I have quite a bit of inventory, both old and new. I don’t have time to put into setting up at card shows to make my profit over a period of time so my first choice is to sell it as a lot to some dealer or even collector and get it over with, but that’s a stretch.

Not many collectors are going to want such a varied mix of stuff and not many dealers I know have the money to score it all at once. Those who do will try to chisel me down and steal it but I’m not going to let that happen. I’ll sell it at a fair price but I won’t be raped.

This is all part of the game of life. We take chances and try things that sound very good at the time but then not too long after we realize it was complete stupidity. I’m not so sure it was completely stupid, but I’d rather have the money instead. Too late. I bought them.

Now I have to find a way to recoup my investment and move on. The first step in that is sorting and organizing all of it, and there‘s quite a load. After that I can start looking for a buyer. Someone will buy them. I did. This will be a very valuable entrepreneurial lesson.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Super Marketing

Thursday October 15th, 2009 - Lake Geneva, WI/Lake Villa, IL

I’m still buzzing about taking the day to get my taxes organized yesterday. That’s one of those chore like things that looks best in retrospect, like going to the dentist for a checkup or getting the timing belt changed on a car. It’s not a whole lot of fun to do at the time but afterward there’s a proud feeling of accomplishment knowing it was the right thing to do.

After dropping off my records at the accountant’s office I went to meet with my speaker friend Todd Hunt to pick his brain about ideas for a promotional campaign. He has one of if not THE best marketing programs I’ve ever seen, at least for an act. I can’t think of one single comedian who can touch him, myself included, and I know hundreds of comics.

The only other promotional campaign I’ve seen that comes even close to Todd is a joint called Chicago Joe’s, and they’re absolutely amazing. It’s on Irving Park Road in Chicago just east of Western Avenue. When I first moved to Chicago I lived about a block from it and was a regular customer because it was so close. I became a big fan of their operation.

Someone there totally understands marketing and I am still on their mailing list all these years later. Every so often they’ll send me a coupon in the mail but it’s always supremely creative and catches my attention in a pile of junk mail. I’m blown away by their constant high level of creativity and support them whenever I can. They operate with definite style.

Todd has style too. He sends out a monthly mailing that goes to his potential clients and he includes me on the list to help him test. He creates postcards that have attention getting messages and they are all well thought out. He works extremely hard on this and it shows.

If I’m going to truly move ahead in the business I need to enhance my marketing ability and increase my monthly campaign by about 999%. That won’t take much because of the current half ass approach I use now. I’ve been able to scratch out a living mostly by word of mouth through people I’ve had contact with over the years. That’s not going to cut it.

Marketing is my weakest link, as it is with most entertainers and businesses in general. I know a lot of really good performers who should be bigger than they are but nobody on a large scale has seen them because they market themselves poorly or not at all. I’m in that category and I’m really sick of it. I sat down with Todd to start correcting this weakness.

Newsletters, mailing lists, products and networking are all part of successful marketing. The actual act isn’t really all that important. Look at Dane Cook. He’s a master marketer and no matter what other comics think of his act, millions of people pay to see it across the country so who’s right? I have an act but not enough fans. He has the exact opposite.

I’m not trying to be Dane Cook, but I am trying to be the best me I can be and that will include improving my marketing to increase my fan base. It will start with compiling my lists of bookers, fans, students, media contacts and working on building it into a network I can use to make a better living than I am now. This will require a complete restructure.

I’m planting some good seeds by getting my tax situation looked after and meeting with Todd Hunt. Todd isn’t a comedian but I can still learn tricks I can use to improve my own career by studying how he markets. Check out his website at Chicago Joe’s website is Call Todd and take him out to lunch.

After meeting with Todd I stopped at the Gurnee Mills Mall to get back into the groove of walking again. I keep starting and stopping and starting again and stopping again. With all I have going it’s not easy to make time every single day even though I’d really like to.

Last night I took a single lap and whenever I haven’t worked my way up to more it’s not an easy task. One lap was more than enough but I still was able to work up a sweat and go home feeling like I accomplished something. That was a full day of work if I ever had one but everything I did was productive. I’m thinking good thoughts and getting myself ready.

I also talked with Donna Gurda up in Milwaukee about my CD project. She hasn’t been able to work on it because her mom was sick and eventually passed away so how can I be angry at her? I’m totally not, but now it’s time to get that project finished. I also contacted Pedro Bell’s business person about my cover artwork and she said it’s almost ready to go.

It shouldn’t take long to piece together the project and I hope to have it available as near to Friday the 13th of November as possible. That’s the perfect date to release a Mr. Lucky project and I’ve had quite a few people ask me lately when the new one was coming out.

Donna will help me get my marketing skills up to par and I’m surrounding myself with as many quality people as I can find because I know I can’t do it all myself. I’m the main idea guy but I need a team around me to carry those ideas out. I’m choosing them now.

I was really tired at the end of the day yesterday but it was a good tired. I felt like I put a full day’s work in and that’s never a bad thing, especially when it’s for me. I woke up late this morning but I needed the sleep. I went right back to the mall and walked two laps so I can hopefully get back in my groove. It’s time to make it a daily habit the rest of my life.

Tonight I did a show in Lake Geneva, WI for Ron Swanson. He’s a young comic trying to get started and I always try to help those guys. We worked together last Friday night in Kenosha and this was his first crack at running a show himself. That isn’t easy to pull off.

Mel and Blossom out of Milwaukee opened for me and she brought along Jeff Lampton and a guy named Byron Beck who runs an open mike up there. I made sure I got Jeff and Byron guest sets because it was the right thing to do. They were happy to get stage time. I know how hard it is to start out and any time I can help out aspiring comedians I’ll do it.

There weren’t many people at the show but those who came were great laughers. I hope Ron can keep the show going but that’s a whole other issue. Club owners are all different and it’s a crapshoot every time a new room opens. I was just glad to be able to help a guy get started. I know how much that meant to me and now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Taxes Tornado

Wednesday October 14th, 2009 - Mt. Prospect, IL

Taxes are nothing to joke about so I don’t. It used to be a sore spot for many years until I found my current accountant but I’ve managed to stay current for the most part and keep the pain to a minimum. This year I seem to have gotten behind again for whatever reason.

I’ve gotten better and better each year at keeping my receipts and all that but organizing them is a different story. I bought a clear plastic container specifically with the purpose of using it to keep my receipts in order but all I did was throw them all in there haphazardly.

Yes, they were all in one place and that was a major improvement over scattering them everywhere but I could have been a lot more organized with just a little more effort. Why I couldn’t take a few minutes each week and add everything up is beyond me. I blew it.

Like the science project in school that gets put off until the night before, I kept putting it off until this week for whatever reason. I’ve had a lot going on this year and taxes weren’t my first priority, but I have no excuse for not having them done by now. I just let it lapse.

Then, to make it even worse I have a second container I bought that has all my tax stuff for this year in it. The piles got crossed a little so I had to sort through every little scrap of paper to see which belonged to which year. It took a full day’s work to do that and I mean eight solid hours. I woke up at 6am and finished up around 2:30, but at least I got it done.

Not only did I sort it out by years, I also put all my ‘09 stuff in proper order and put it in an individual envelopes so I can find everything at a glance. Usually I don’t do the sorting of it all until I get ready to go to the accountant and it’s an all day chore that I can’t stand.

This was totally different and the more I did it the better I felt. I think this is the earliest I’ve ever had my tax stuff organized this much and I can’t believe I was that stupid to just let it pile up every year with no rhyme or reason to it. I feel like a total ass but that’s what I did. There really is no reason for it other than I wasn’t on top of it. That’s changing now.

Taxes are a part of any business and comedy is absolutely a business. I’ve always put an emphasis on the show part and ignored the business but if I want to move ahead that’s not the way to handle it. I have a show, now I need to sell it to buyers who’ll pay more for it.

I always say I’m going to make a better effort with my taxes but then I let it pile up for a year and have to dig through the mess again. It’s a real weakness but at least next year I’m ahead of the game. I was proud of myself when I finished because I know I did it the right way. Now it’s a matter of weekly maintenance and I really think I can make that happen.

None of this has anything to do with being funny or getting work but I look at it like it’s the roof on a house. Keeping the roof maintained will keep everything inside safe from all elements. Keeping my taxes maintained now will save me countless headaches later when real money starts coming in. It was totally worth one day of my life to get myself current.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Uneasy Money

Tuesday October 13th, 2009 - Mt. Prospect, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Well, well - FINALLY a little something something showed up in my mailbox today. It took nearly six full weeks but let the record show that I did finally receive a check for the week I did at Giggles in Brookfield, WI August 13-15th of this year. Let that same record also show I did NOT receive my bounced check fees, even though they were promised.

Along with the cashier’s check (which was also $200 less than the original one that was rubber) I received another notice from my bank saying another check I wrote had bounced and that I was being charged a $22 fee for it. I had negotiated the other ones down to less.

I looked at the check in one hand and the fee notice in the other and I just laughed really hard. What else could I do? People at the post office were looking at me as if I was crazy and I guess I am but that’s how I felt. After all this ugliness and incompetence and weeks of going back and forth and having to fight for what’s mine I still ended up getting boned.

The owners of that rat hole are now dead to me. If I go back and try to get those fees my patience will wear out and I’ll commit a felony. Better to leave it alone and the only thing I wish upon them is that they get the exact same treatment they’re dishing out to comics.

So they have a special needs child. We have special needs too, like food and rent and it isn’t our fault we aren’t paid for our work at the end of the week as is customary at every comedy club in North America I’ve ever performed in over 20 years on the road. If it was a problem we could have worked it out but having it happen like it did was unacceptable.

I’m in a good space right now and focusing on positive energy and I made up my mind I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. The situation is bad enough and I want it to be OVER already. I would like to work for the booker in the future or at least not burn that bridge so I’ll let it pass that the club owner weaseled out on my bounced check fees. He’s a wanker.

If he thinks he’s beating me by not paying those fees he’s a small time wanker at that so why would I get down in the mental mud again right after I just crawled out? It would just bring me down and I don’t need that right now. He’ll get his, hopefully sooner than later.

That’s not my concern anymore. I can honestly say I’ll never darken the door of Giggles again and I predict it’ll permanently be dark in the not too distant future because of all the insanity coming out of there. I have to believe at some point the doors will close for good.

Whether they do or they don’t, I’m moving on. I got three weeks of Zanies bookings in Chicago today and I won’t have to worry about my checks bouncing. I also got a call from a guy looking to book some casino shows and they almost always pay well. I’ll survive.

I also went to see my tax accountant today. I filed an extension and I need to get that out of the way SOON. I put it off too long but at least I’m taking care of it now. That’s where most of that Giggles check is going to go unfortunately, but at least I did get some of it.

An Energy Enema

Monday October 12th, 2009 - Chicago, IL

Nothing’s going to change for the better unless I do so today it was back to work with a major vengeance. Part of me loves ultimate challenges because if I win that’s the ultimate victory. Too bad that’s not always the outcome. Ultimate challenges wouldn’t be ultimate if they were easy to achieve. I’m in a pickle right now and have to think and act carefully.

This is the best time of my life right now in many ways so if I let these distractions take me out of the race the results would be disastrous. I can’t let a few bugs on my windshield prevent me from winning it all but right now they’re placed in the worst possible position that blocks a lot of my view of the track ahead of me. I need to squeegee this mess away.

I have made up my mind to not let small minded idiots keep me from doing what I need to be doing, and that’s be involved in the entertainment business. I’ve gotten fired in radio and had clashes with club owners and bookers in comedy but that’s only because they had no clue how to deal with anybody who had one. Entertainment is filled with these people.

Life is too, but entertainment attracts a higher amount of lowlifes and bloodsuckers who want to exploit the gifts and abilities of those who are the real deal. I’m not the first act to have a check bounce in show business history and I know I won’t be the last. It’s part of a long history of ugliness which goes back to the dawn of humanity. Some of us are rotten.

Many more are sweet and giving and friendly and those are the ones I’m going to focus my energy toward from now on. Giggles can kiss my pasty white aspirations. I won’t take their unprofessional treatment and when I get my money I’ll move on and focus on bigger achievements and worthwhile goals, not just paying my rent from working their hell hole.

This whole mess brought out an ugly side I really don’t like. It’s draining and not where winners dwell, and I want to be a winner when it’s all over. Nobody will remember any of this after I’m dead so the sooner I can move past it and on to meaningful things the better.

That was my goal today as I packed in a full work day of positive contacts. I had a lunch with Marc Schultz and that’s always positive. He’s a good friend and is pleased I’m going in this direction. He always thought I was wasting time in comedy clubs because that isn’t where the real money is. The real money comes from the corporate market that he books.

That market is down like most other things in these times but I’d be coming into it on a lower pay scale so that could get me booked at higher pay than I get at most clubs. That’s fine with me and today Marc said he’s booked me for two dates next May for solid money and has two or three people interested in Christmas parties for December. It’s trickling in.

After lunch with Marc I went to meet with Graham Putnam of Fun Inc. I was introduced to him by my friend Chuck Field, who also hooked me up with Marc Schultz. Chuck is an amazing networker and we met when he took my comedy class years ago. That’s why I’m so gung ho on the classes, it attracts fantastic people into my life like Marc and Graham.
This kind of connecting and reconnecting and networking can’t quit. Those people have positive energy and are in my corner and want to see me succeed, and I want the same for them too. Marc Schultz has booked me several times over the years I’ve known him and I never had a single problem with getting paid. That’s the kind of guy I’d rather work for.

Graham Putnam was very generous to put some time aside for me. His business is joke items of all kinds and his specialty is fake vomit. I guess someone has to specialize in that and he’s the guy. The company has been around since 1937 and moved to Chicago in ‘41.

Graham and his wife Kathryn bought it and turned it into THE largest magic factory in America. That’s pretty impressive and no small feat in itself. I explained to Graham what I’m trying to accomplish with Uranus Factory Outlet and he said he’d put together a few samples of ideas of things I’d be able to sell both at shows, online or even at flea markets.

I’m not above setting up at flea markets if that’s what it takes to work for myself. I’d be a lot less stressed having multiple streams of income flowing in and that’s smart business no matter who it is. Depending on one source of income these days is asking for trouble.

Guys like Graham and Marc have been around the block and they know the ins and outs of their business just as I know the secrets of the comedy business. I’m running out of gas and time and can’t afford to make beginner mistakes anymore. I have to get help from the people who traveled the road before me. My period of reckless wandering is now history.

I have a completely different view of life and the world now than when I started and my needs and wants are completely different also. I used to think I wanted what most people think success in show business is - fame and money and not much else. Most that imagine what success is picture the bling without the string. There’s always a string. ALWAYS.

Fame requires being able to handle the intense demands on one’s time and the invasion of personal space. Paparazzi rhymes with Nazi and there seems to be a valid reason for it. I don’t need some leech with a zoom lens taking pictures of me taking a dump at Spago.

I would like the money part though. That’s something I am preparing myself to handle. It’s fun to think about Ferraris and yachts but that wouldn’t be what I’d spend it on. I’m a man of simple needs and I’d get a bigger kick out of helping people that really did need it. Buying someone a new wheelchair or getting a kid’s cleft palate fixed is a true dividend.

In order to do that I have to put myself in a better financial position. Focusing on my lack of money will only bring more of the same. As difficult as it is I need to think of having it rather than needing it. Any number of sources from the Bible on down teach this principle including The Secret, Think And Grow Rich, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins and a lot more.

They teach it because it’s true. Today I started slowly, but I started. I met with Marc and Graham and then went to host a great show at Zanies in Chicago. Both the comedians and audience were totally on and it made the evening a total blast. This was an excellent start.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Metaphysical Fitness

Sunday October 11th, 2009 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Spirituality is one subject that doesn’t come up very often between comedians, and I’m surprised it doesn’t. Most of us are of above average intelligence and like to discuss many different topics but that’s one that usually gets avoided, or at least it has in my experience.

Religion gets brought up a lot, and many times gets skewered mercilessly. There are all kinds of bits making fun of Catholicism or Judaism but I’m talking about things we bring up offstage between ourselves. I’ve taken twelve hour rides with people I barely knew but that’s one thing that rarely if ever came up. As I get older I’m exploring that side more.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing the Mothership Connection radio show as much as I do. I get to explore all kinds of topics I’m already interested in but bringing in experts in a radio studio makes it all the more worthwhile. Tonight we had a very exciting show.

We were supposed to have a guest named Janice Olson who does ‘oracle readings’ and has for many years. Her website is and she was found by my friend Shelley who wanted to have her in as a guest. We’ve been going back and forth on when both Janice and Shelley could make it on the same night and tonight turned out to be it.

Janice brought her friend Adam who owns a store called ‘Sacred Earth’ in Antioch, IL and both of them together were extremely interesting guests. They talked about topics like chakras and meditation and angels and all kinds of stuff my grandpa would have placed in the category of ‘moonbeams and stardust’. Sometimes it’s all a big joke but not tonight.

Janice and Adam were both very knowledgeable on the subjects they discussed and that made the show go by extremely fast. We had several new listeners call in for readings and a lot of things came up that sent us off into deep but fascinating tangents. It was really fun but also informative too. This show is opening my eyes to a whole new world of topics.

I’m not saying I’m going to enroll in warlock academy or start casting spells with magic potions but it makes logical sense to me that something is bigger than the physical part of life as we know it. Does numerology have something to do with it? Birth signs? Chakras?

Does the Chinese Zodiac really have an influence on life or is it just something to gawk at to kill time while I’m waiting for my egg drop soup to arrive? Chinese culture has a lot of spiritual aspects as does Native American. Egyptian too. Certain cultures embrace this.

Americans not so much it seems. I was force churched as a kid and most people have to follow along with whatever religious beliefs their parents have…or don’t. My church was very adamant about not exploring anything else because they thought their way was right.

Who doesn’t think that? Muslims think they’re right and so do the Jews. Christians are a whole different animal and they think Muslims and Jews are wrong. None of what I am talking about on the radio show has anything to do with right or wrong. I just want truth.

That’s what most comedians usually want too. We see the craziness everywhere and it’s our job separate the truth from the B.S. and make it funny in the process. Our minds think along those lines during the creation of comedy yet most of us aren’t very spiritual beings.

I’m sure there are exceptions but I can’t think of many. Most comedians I know have an aversion to having a serious conversation about deep things like this because their trained reaction is to start making jokes right when it starts to get serious. That’s how we think as comedians and it takes some effort to turn the comedian off and turn the spiritual side on.

Personally I’m really enjoying delving into this side of existence. I never really got into it as a kid because I was so forced into the church thing. I thought I believed it all without a hint of doubt and that was enough for me. Now, I’m not so sure. Everything is up for an argument and the more I look at everything the more I realize I have no clue on any of it.

Is there a God? I don’t know and nobody else does either. Having a hunch about it isn’t proof, and nobody has proof until we die. That’s when we find out the big surprise ending if indeed there is one. Do we come back? Do we go somewhere else? Are heaven and hell real? Is this the only place life exists in a universe chock full of zillions of other planets?

I can’t even begin to think of other planets because I still haven’t come close to figuring out this tiny one we’re on - for now. Everyone who comes here eventually leaves so that’s something to think about at some point. No matter how good or bad it is at any time it’s a temporary condition and eventually we all pass on, but where do we go? I’m way curious.

Janice Olson spoke about having a near death experience during surgery and that’s what made her get into this field. She said it was a wonderful experience and that she didn’t get any negative vibes at all. I’ve had two near death car accidents and both times I had a split second of extreme clarity before impact and I didn’t feel anything negative either time.

In fact, I felt very calm both times. I thought I was about to die and in my head I was not in a panic in the least. I remember feeling a sense of anticipation, much like going up that first big hill on a rollercoaster. I didn’t know what to expect but I expected it to be a blast.

Maybe that’s all part of the mystery of life. There are so many ideas I’ve read about I’m not able to remember them all. Some people swear we picked everything about our whole life from our parents to our problems before we even get here. Is that true? Who knows?

Others say the only reason we’re here is to learn lessons. That’s a bit hard for me to buy but again, who knows? Nobody has any proof but there are hints and bits and theories and gut feelings and somewhere in all of it the real truth exists. I’m getting hungrier to find it.

This is going to have an impact on my comedy too. I’m already bringing things into the mix I’ve never come close to touching before. There’s a depth to it and I have to say I am really comfortable with it all. The masses may stare at me like a car accident but that isn’t going to stop me from bringing it up anyway. Spirituality is part of the human mystery.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pride Worth The Ride

Saturday October 10th, 2009 - South Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Strange day today. I overslept and almost missed being on WGN with Jerry’s Kidders. I haven’t had an alarm clock since I was about 12 and can usually get up at the exact time I need to, within one minute on either side. Today I slept right through and blew the streak.

Everyone knows the sensation of panic that causes the covers to come flying off and the fast motion Keystone Cops movie to begin. Good thing I showered last night and all I had to do was get dressed and out the door. It’s a long way to the freeway and I was gunning it the whole way, totally speeding in the process. I probably used up any karma favors I had.

I went even faster on the freeway and slalomed in and out of traffic like I was driving in my own personal Grand Prix race and made it to the studio with barely seconds to spare. I could hear the Kidders’ intro music play as I slinked in and took my seat like nothing was wrong, even though I was out of breath from running full speed all the way from my car.

Being late really irritates me and I don’t enjoy it at all. It causes undue stress and that’s the last thing I need in my life right now. We had a fun time as we usually do but I don’t want to make a habit of this and I immediately apologized to the guys when we finished.

Living 54 miles from the studio makes it rough to overcome being late so I have to take extra care to not let this happen again. No matter what time I get up it’s still 54 miles one way whether I’m driving like a raped ape or someone’s grandma so I need to deal with it.

I drove home a lot slower and tried to fill my head with peaceful thoughts. I didn’t even stop at my P.O. box because even if the check was there my bank was closed and it would have to wait until Monday anyway. That situation is what it is and getting myself thinking about it will only infuriate me and that’s not where my head needs to be. It’s not healthy.

When things are good, they’re great but when they’re not, they’re REALLY not and I’m teetering on the precipice. Dwelling on one check from one club is not worth my thoughts or my time. I wish it hadn’t worked out the way it did, but it did. Now I have to move on.

Putting good thoughts in my head is a must. I have always loved listening to recordings by people like Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer and many others as well, but those two are probably my favorites. They both have voices that are easy to listen to and they both make excellent points in their programs. Those were the two guys I was in the mood for today.

I listened to Tony Robbins in the car and enjoyed it but when I got home I put in Wayne Dyer’s ‘The Secrets Of The Power Of Intention’ and it was exactly what I needed to hear. He talked about a lot of interesting points and I listened intently as I answered my emails.

He said a lot of things that hit home and Tony Robbins does that too. So do other things like ‘The Secret’ and any number of constant truths. Everybody can use a refresher course in clear thinking and this was the right thing to do today. It put me in a very good space.

I think I could put out products like that only because I enjoy them so much myself. I’ve listened to most of the big names and a lot who weren’t so big. I know I could put a solid package together talking about the inner workings of what makes humor work and I’ll bet it wouldn’t take very long. I’ve been studying it my whole life and I love talking about it.

I also think a program for fellow dented cans would be really useful. I’m getting a lot of people coming up to me after shows saying “I’m a dented can too” and they thank me for bringing it up but still making it funny. This takes comedy way farther than a strip mall in the suburbs somewhere. This touches people who need to be touched. That’s a lot deeper.

This is what’s really important, at least as far as I’m concerned. Money is great and I am all for making as much as possible but the real reward is being able to serve humanity and touch people with laughter. And I don’t mean casually, I mean rich hearty belly laughter.

I’ve had countless people come up to me after shows and say things like “I just couldn’t laugh any harder if I wanted to” or “My cheeks and stomach hurt.” Great! I love to hear it. That’s why I’m still doing it all these years later. I think there’s a glaring need for humor.

I was off tonight so I drove up to the Milwaukee area to support a show put together by Jeff Lampton, a Milwaukee comic who bills himself as ‘The Loose Cannon of Comedy’. I love that moniker and it could probably fit a lot of people, myself included. Jeff has been amazingly supportive of me for years and it was only fair that I return the favor, so I did.

Another friend Art Hinty was on the show as well as Russ Martin, a former student who also lives in the Milwaukee area. Russ flew out to hang with me in L.A. when I taped the Late Late Show spot in March and Jeff and Art took up a collection with the other comics so I’d be able to have some expense money out there. That was about as classy as it gets.

Everyone’s eyes lit up as I walked in the room and Jeff came over immediately and said hello and thanked me for coming. I thanked him for all his support and told him I felt like it was my duty to be there. It was a respect thing, and I respect all those guys immensely.

All of these guys have been cheering me on and they look to me as a big brother figure. I appreciate it beyond words and I felt I had to show up and support their show, especially since I was off tonight. The room was smoky and my eyes were burning by the end of the night but that‘s ok. I‘m used to that by now. I‘ve been dealing with that my whole life.

Russ did a good job as did Art Hinty. Those guys are both older than me but they have a youthful exuberance and it’s very obvious they both really love comedy, just as I do. I like to watch them work and I laughed and clapped and enjoyed the show with everyone else.

Jeff went up and really let it rip. He put the show together and packed the room with his friends and family and they were all there to see him and he didn’t disappoint. I was really proud of him and all the other guys too because I know how hard it is to get people out to a live event for anything, especially in the Milwaukee area. I‘m thrilled I got to see it live.