Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Missed From My List

Tuesday December 1st, 2009 - Chicago, IL

I think I made a boo-boo. The list I made of my own personal favorite comedians is not anything other than just that, MY personal favorites. If I didn’t happen to list someone it’s not meant to be a personal slight and indeed I did leave out a few comics unintentionally.

I was trying more to spread the word on people I think are talented comedians, not leave out anyone to make any statements. There are some comics I have personal jags with but I still think are excellent comedians. There are also some people I really like that I think are not very funny at all. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what I think. But…people ask.

This particular list generated all kinds of responses for some reason. Those that were on it thanked me for including them. A few that weren’t seemed hurt, and I didn’t intend that at all. Still others tried to disagree with me, and they can go make their own list. It’s all an individual matter, and I know there are people who never thought I was funny. Whatever.

One of the people I forgot to mention was Jimmy Shubert. He’s my age and toured with Sam Kinison and Carl LaBove and that whole crew, and he’s a wild man - but that’s not a bad thing. He’s a whirlwind on stage and absolutely hilarious.

A few people tried to call me sexist, but I can think of several women I think are funny. One of my absolute favorites is Kristi McHugh. She’s originally from Okaboji, IA, how’s that for a funny start in life? She reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore with attitude, and she cracks me up. She lives in LA and I see big things for her.

Mary Mack is another funny lady. She’s got a super thick northern accent that makes all the people in ‘Fargo’ sound like southerners. She’s from northern Wisconsin and she may weigh 100lbs on a good day. VERY funny, and unique too. Plus, she works constantly at her craft and continually improves. She’s going places too.

A couple of women really stand out who are on the Jerry’s Kidders contributor list. I’ve always been a huge fan of both Teme Ring and Nancy Jo Perdue. Neither one of them do standup per se, but they’re both terrific comedy writers. They get it, and their minds think in a funny direction naturally. I know either one could be a comic if they really wanted to.

There are a bunch of others on that Kidders list who are extremely sharp including Bob ‘Wilbur’ Williams, Mark Matusof, Tony Boswell, Art Hinty and many more. Now I’ll be leaving more people out so I’ll shut up and leave it be. I just want to give talent their due.
Talent alone doesn’t guarantee success though. It has to be recognized by a group of fans.

I don’t feel I need to justify myself with anyone, but I did want to include at least a few more names of people I think are truly funny, hoping someone will discover them and get to be fans just like I am. It’s all subjective, so just because I say it’s so doesn’t mean it is. Here are a few more I‘m throwing out: Steve Seagren, Mike Toomey, Mike Preston, Bill Gorgo, James Wesley Jackson, Jeff ‘Big Daddy’ Wayne and Tim Clue. Go look them up.

Wait a minute, what about the up and comers I see at Zanies on Mondays? That’s a big list too. Hannibal Burress, Bryan Berrey, Vince Carone, Jim Flannigan, Michael Palasack, Emily Galati, Kyle Parris, Adam Burke, Tony Sarfino, Tony Talley, Bubba Muski…I will burn myself out trying to think of everyone so I’ll stop. Let’s just say I’m a comedy fan.

It’s a craft, much like music or acting and getting good at it takes time and hard work. I respect anyone willing to put in the time, but quite often they’re not the ones with the real gift. It’s rare for someone with exceptional talent to also have an exceptional work ethic.

I have a hard time judging myself so I won’t even try. In my mind’s eye, I have a bit of talent but a mediocre work ethic. I could have done WAY more than I have, but that’s my viewpoint. I’ve had more than several people say extremely flattering things and I’m very humbled to hear them, but I don’t always agree. I guess I can see where all the holes are.

My goal is to torch people right out of their chairs. I want to see smoking piles of burnt ectoplasm dripping from the ceiling when I come off stage. I want paramedics to have to always be on call when I work because 80 or 90 customers might laugh so hard they may have to be jump started like an old Pontiac. In other words, my standards are pretty high.

Sometimes I’ll come off stage and want to give up entirely, but people still line up and tell me I was wonderful. I know I wasn’t, but again - it’s not about what I think. Those in the paying audience are the real judges, and what they say goes. I have to get used to that.

I also have to get used to the fact that I don’t have enough hours in a day to pack in all I have going right now. I was on my way to getting organized, or so I thought, but now I’m right back at ground zero again. My desk is a mess, I have a pile of laundry that needs my immediate attention before it turns into compost and I haven’t exercised in way too long.

That being said, I got my blubbery rump out of the house and took a lap back in my old stomping grounds at The Gurnee Mills Mall. It’s been a while since I’ve been there and it sure felt like it halfway through my first and only lap. I thought my heart would explode.

This is the same old struggle, but it’s not going away any time soon. It’s like the war in the Middle East. They might switch things around a little, but it’s a matter that’s going to be dealt with into perpetuity. I’ve resigned myself to the same thing with my time. I have a lot of things going and am trying to make steady smart progress on all of it. It’s tough.

What are the most important things? That depends on what day you ask me. Today it’s organization and exercise, but that leaves all kinds of other stuff for tomorrow, and later in the week, and next year too. It doesn’t stop and sometimes I feel like I’m over my skis.

Too late now. I’m halfway down the hill and it’s starting to look like one big blur. I am off this week but I want to use it to take care of what I’m behind on and get a useful plan in place for 2010 that I can follow and make steady progress. I’ve had some glitches this year but as a whole a lot of good things have happened. More will happen if I plan better.

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