Monday, May 31, 2010

A Frightening Realization

Sunday May 30th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

The frightening realization occurred to me today that I am completely dissatisfied with the vast majority of my entire life. Not only is that a major downer, it also dawned on me that I’m the main reason for it. How can someone be alive this long in what’s supposedly a place built on the idea of freedom and the pursuit of happiness, and still not get it right?

I would have thought for sure by now I’d have figured out at least a few of the mysteries of life, but I don’t think I have. I feel like I’m drifting through this cosmic plane without a purpose, and the harder I try to find one the farther away I get. It feels like I’ve struck out.

I’m just barely surviving, squeaking out an existence from month to month. Thankfully I don’t have a family to support, or we’d really be in trouble. Or would we? Would I have a different mindset if I had the responsibility of other mouths to feed? Would my choices have been different, thereby making the results of my life different? I really don’t know.

What I do know is, I’m nowhere near happy with the results I am getting for the choices I did make, so the only thing I can think of to make that change is begin making different choices. That sounds simple enough, but exactly what choices do I change and how? I’ve had a lifetime to make the ones I did make, and they’ve ultimately got me to where I am.

It all seems so totally overwhelming. It’s like I’m at that giant map of the mall with the arrow that says ‘You Are Here’, but I really don’t have any plan in mind of what stores I want to visit or if I even want to be at the mall in the first place. Why am I even standing here? I suppose if I made a plan I could visit just about any or all of the stores I’d want to.

Here I stand, feeling like that about life itself. Why am I even here? I’ve never felt like I fit in for as long as I’ve been here, and it feels even less now. I’ve done a few small things I thought were kind of fun, but for the most part life has just been one long uphill struggle that doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere, and sure isn’t getting any easier. This isn’t fun.

That’s the main ingredient I’ve noticed that’s always been missing from people I’ve had the closest contact with - FUN. Nobody in my family ever had fun as a priority in life, and sure enough most of them are dead and their lives reflected it. They came and went, never making a significant mark in life that lasted past their death. I never wanted that to be me.

Somehow, there’s a feeling in the pit of my stomach that that’s exactly where I’m going and it really hurts to think about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, either. I have a big job ahead of me if I intend to revamp my whole life, but if I don’t I’ll be miserable for the rest of however long I do have remaining on this rinky-dink half assed mediocre planet.

Maybe it would help if I had a better attitude about things, but I guess I don’t. I’m being honest and saying what I feel. This planet is SO not my home, and I’ve felt that way since I was a kid. Life is unfair, and idiots are everywhere - usually in charge. The results of life on this planet aren’t good as a whole, but I don’t care about that. I care about what I want.

In many ways we’re very selfish beings, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. As long as we don’t hurt anyone, what’s wrong with wanting to please ourselves? I think it’s an admirable quality to know what a person wants, and life should be about getting there.

I thought I had a plan at one time, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve screwed so many things up and had to deal with so many bad breaks, I’m not sure where I stand right now. I don’t have a very good perspective of the big picture from where I’m standing, and I need one.

All I can feel is that I don’t like the current course I’m on, and I know I need to change it. But how much? Do I need to turn 180 degrees? 90? 1? Left? Right? That’s the problem but how do I solve it? I can think and rethink and over think, but in the end I’m clueless.

I guess the smart thing to do would be to examine every single facet of my life’s history in detail and be brutally honest. What do I like and what do I not, and how can I improve and reshape the negatives into something that pleases me? That sounds like a lot of work.

I don’t mind working, but I want to work at something that will pay off eventually. I’ve been farting around for so long with things that haven’t had any payoff, I’m not sure I can even be sure what the right direction is. I’ve made fun a priority, and I’ve had some along the way, but I think life would have been much better had I made very different choices.

Some hard facts remain, and I need to face them. No matter what my choices were, I am 47 years old and living in a basement like a spider. Is it a nice basement? Sure. It’s livable and nobody would know it was a basement if dropped here from the sky, but I do. I opted to live here because it’s inexpensive, a stop gap. That mindset is what I’m not happy with.

My whole life is a reflection of it. Maybe it was out of necessity, or maybe I copied my father without even knowing it. My father used to squeak by in life, and drive crappy cars just like I do. He lived in a dingy house in a nasty neighborhood, and never wanted more.

Or did he? I guess I never really knew him very well, but I never asked him about it. He always said he was happy with how his life turned out, but I don’t know if I believe it this long after the fact. His life was even less than mine, because he never had any goals or at least never admitted it. Maybe his got squelched early, and he never tried another plan.

Well, I’m not him. I refuse to NOT try another plan. Just because what I’ve done hasn’t brought me the results I wanted, or thought I wanted, it doesn’t mean I have to accept this as my final fate. I don’t want to be broke anymore. I don’t want to be single either. I want a chance to shape a happy family, exactly the opposite of all I’ve ever had up until now.

I don’t want to be out of shape. I don’t want to feel out of place. I don’t want to have no place to go on holidays. I don’t want to drive a crappy car. I don’t want to waste one more minute of my life thinking about what I don’t want. I know that’s where I am now, but my inner voice tells me I don’t have to stay here. Other people have changed their entire lives around for the better and I know I can do it too. I’m way off from where I know I can be.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Way Off Schedule

Saturday May 29th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

One of the toughest things to keep on track as a comedian is a booking schedule. It’s an endless effort to coordinate dates, as every booker has their own way of operating and it’s extremely rare when it all ‘just works out’. There are always a few glitches, switches and changes that occur, and it’s wise to write all bookings down on one’s calendar in pencil.

Right now I’m in the middle of one of the worst booking periods of my life. Everything is in turmoil, and I really need to get things back on track. I was supposed to be working a gig tonight in Michigan for my friend Tim Marszalkowski, but that fell through and we’re still not exactly sure what caused it. That’s not a very good way to ease into the summer.

Summer is comedy’s off season, but comedians still have to eat. It was always harder to get summer work, especially in the north, but now it’s getting down right nasty. Clubs are closing en masse, and it’s like a giant game of musical chairs nobody wants to play. It’s a tough enough nut to stay booked as it is, much less having to deal with all this other stuff.

Since I had an unexpected night off, I drove up to Milwaukee to visit my friend Darryl Rhoades who was working at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino. We met on a hell gig years ago and stayed in touch. He’s from Atlanta and does musical comedy, and he had a bit part in the movie ‘Crazy Heart’ with Jeff Bridges. He’s a hard worker.

We often exchange stories about troubles with bookers or ideas of how we can get past having to get a day job, which both of us know we’re not qualified to do. Darryl was in a lot of bands before he got into comedy, and he’s a very good marketer. He has a dozen or more cds and also sells t-shirts, and he does very well for himself. I’m not good at that.

I’m getting better, but I’ve got a LONG way to go. Darryl works many of the same gigs I do, but I bet he makes quite a bit more money because of his marketing savvy. He’s also married to a woman who works for an airline so he can fly on standby for next to nothing. Hey, good for him. I wish I had that advantage. Any little thing helps in the big picture.

I love working the Northern Lights Casino for many reasons. The venue is spectacularly set up on all levels, onstage and off. The staff is fantastic, and it’s first class all the way. If all gigs were like that well run, comedy would be pure heaven. I always enjoy being here.

That being said, I discovered a glitch in the schedule that made my blood run cold. I had thought I was booked to be there next week, June 5th. Apparently, the booker wrote down the week after, and that’s when I was listed. I’m in Louisville at the Comedy Caravan that week and can’t get out of it. It looks like I’m going to lose out on a whole week of work.

I called the booker immediately, and sure enough there was a snafu. It’s hard to tell who was at fault, but it doesn’t matter at this point. I know it was unintentional, but now it’s a problem, and I was counting on that money. Fortunately, this booker isn’t a maniac and it will work itself out. I’ll get a rebooking, and life goes on. Still, I need a major revamping.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman

Friday May 28th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

Gary Coleman is dead, and I’m glad to hear it. Just like I was glad when I’d heard about Michael Jackson’s death, maybe the guy can finally find peace. I thought I was Mr. Lucky but he’s always had me beat. I’m glad his torturous run is over. The guy had it very tough.

Here’s a perfect example of proof that fame and fortune are both fleeting and not in any way guaranteed to provide happiness. I have to believe he had a freakish existence for the majority of his life, and whatever free ride he had because of his cuteness wore off fast.

The kid had to overcome being born black, with bad kidneys, was adopted by people in Zion, IL who allegedly misappropriated his funds, was estranged from them for years, and had to live the majority of his life being 4’8” tall and having to hear idiots en masse get in his face every single day and repeat his catch phrase “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”

I’m surprised the poor bastard didn’t go on a killing spree twenty years ago. Time after time he was caught on TV and made fun of, whether he was a security guard or having an incident with someone who probably got in his face. I always felt sorry for the guy. I still do. He should have had a wonderful life, but instead he had to be a source of mockery.

I remember seeing him interviewed on some talk show, and I wanted to cry. He told of his life and troubles, and admitted he didn’t have a lot of friends and my heart went out to the guy right there. I would have been his friend, and not because he was famous. Even in school I always tried to buddy up to the kids who were outcasts. Loneliness is pure hell.

I have a lot of comedian friends who don’t associate with a lot of other comics. I always seem to ‘buddy up with the strays’, and much of the reason for that is I can understand the mindset they’re in. I’ve been there too, and in many ways I never left. There’s a lot of hurt in there, and if someone can at least be a good listener there’s no better friend anywhere.

Gary Coleman wasn’t an idiot. Not by a long shot. He was a smart guy, trapped in a tiny body with bad kidneys and puffy cheeks that old ladies wanted to pinch when he was ten. Then, he wasn’t ten anymore and all hell broke loose. Life is hard enough without having to navigate adulthood from where that guy started. Former successes don’t help for long.

His fame was gone and I’m sure his fortune followed quickly. According to the article I read, he was still estranged from his parents at the time of his death. I’m not sure if those were his adoptive parents or not, and it’s none of my business. I do know about how that feels though, and no matter who it is, something had to happen to cause the estrangement.

If there was a dented can Hall of Fame, Gary Coleman would be in it. My heart goes out to him and I wish him nothing but peace, hope, happiness and relief. The freak show of a life he’s had to star in for a lot longer than Diff’rent Strokes lasted is finally over, and I’m sending any good vibe I can muster his way. If there is life after death, hopefully he’s on a lounge chair right about now, sipping a cool one and getting a massage. He’s earned it.

Journey To Janesville

Thursday May 27th, 2010 - Janesville, WI

I received a nice surprise by getting a call to fill in for a last minute fallout in Janesville, WI at a place called The Armory. It’s, well, an old armory building in the downtown area that’s been remodeled and they did an outstanding job. It’s an absolutely gorgeous facility that does large production shows, and they’ve also been doing comedy for several years.

Janesville and Beloit have always had a soft spot in my heart. My first ‘road gig’ was in Beloit, and I remember how electric it felt to be performing in another city than my home town of Milwaukee. I felt like a real live performer, even though I was horrendously bad.

Everyone stinks when they start out, but the process of learning the offstage lessons is a separate education altogether. Getting in a the car and riding to the town with all the other comedians is part of that, along with talking about how the show went on the way home.

My mentor C. Cardell Willis had a friend in Beloit who owned a bar and booked shows about four times a year. He also had a place in Janesville, and eventually that was the big ‘run’. Beloit would be one night, Janesville the next. Once in a while we’d get to do both shows in the same month, and it felt like a Lollapalooza tour. I loved doing those shows.

Cardell would drive a few of us down from Milwaukee along with his manager Shirley Schaak, and Shirley would make up the order on the way down. She’d give us our times, and then pay us in cash after the show. I sure hope they made some money, but knowing how generous both of them were, I doubt it. Those were some sweet comedy memories.

Cardell and Shirley are both gone now, as is the economy of Janesville. I used to enjoy the audiences in both towns, as they were just good old hard working Midwestern people. They were friendly and loved the fact we’d drive down from Milwaukee to do shows for them. I felt really bad when I heard General Motors closed the plant there just recently.

It wasn’t a ghost town or anything, but I have to believe the future there isn’t what was the case when everyone had jobs. I’ve seen Michigan towns after the auto industry went belly up and it’s not pretty. Flint is a hell hole, I’ve been there more times than I wanted.

Hopefully Janesville won’t turn into another Flint. They’ve got a nice downtown and it seems like they’re working hard at keeping their city pride intact. It’s not filthy at all and The Armory really is a wonderful facility. Unfortunately, the audience wasn’t very large.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer, and they feed the comics before the show. I had one of THE best hamburgers I’ve ever had in my life, and everything about the place was first class all the way. I was asked to do a longer show, and I gladly did what they requested.

I ended up doing about an hour and ten minutes, but the audience that did show up was into it. I was too. I enjoyed the show, but wished they’d had more people so they might be able to turn a profit. I hope they keep it going, they’ve put too much effort into this not to.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Weirdness Continues

Wednesday May 26th, 2010 - Valparaiso, IN

More weirdness today. There must be a full moon coming up. That or the world has just lost it completely. That could be the case also, I guess. Whatever it might be, I just hope it ends soon so I’m able to navigate my way through the insanity and get by. This is crazy.

The situation with the Michigan gig is still a mystery. I spoke with the middle act as did Tim Marszalkowski, and we both agree he wasn’t at fault. He swears he’s not booked at a hotel in the same town, and we believe him. He’s actually a very good guy and was just as concerned about it as Tim and I were. He seems to know who these sneaky varmints are.

This is one of the dangers of trying to book shows. Word has gotten out that I have been thinking about maybe doing some booking, and this is the kind of stuff that happens right away. It’s like a mob hit that’s intended to ‘send a message’. This was Tim’s gig, I wasn’t involved at all. The only message I’m getting is that these people aren’t smart or ethical.

It looks like the show is going to be cancelled, or at least postponed. The middle act is a lifer in the financial business, and he has offered to make it good and pay in full both Tim and myself for our trouble, since his name was what seemed to start all the controversy.

He doesn’t have to do that, but it sure is a very honorable thing to do. I for one am sure not used to it, so I’ll be loyal to a guy like that for life. There are still some details that are unclear, but I’m sure everything will work itself out. The bottom line is, this business can be loaded with snakes and weasels, especially at the lower level. I want to get past all this.

That’s not to say insanity doesn’t happen on a higher level, but at least the possibility of a much higher payoff exists. This was chump change peanuts, and that’s why it was such a shock to see it happen like it did. All that’s for sure is that I’m not driving to Michigan.

I did have to drive to Valparaiso, IN for a show tonight. It was a show that’s been going on for many years apparently. There’s a company that has metalworkers that need to get a certification from the government, and it takes constant training to do it. They graduate to the next level, and the company gives them a dinner and likes to hire comedians as a treat.

Jim McHugh was the guy I got it from, and I’m very grateful. Still, the vibe was strange the whole time. There was a crying baby right in the front row, and that threw everything off. That’s WAY difficult to navigate, and she cried right on cue at about ten punch lines. It’s funny now, but wasn’t funny as it was happening. There’s nothing to do but press on.

On the way there I stopped to visit fellow Jerry’s Kidder Tim Slagle since he’s located in Indiana, and broke a filling on a sandwich he made for me. I haven’t had dental torture in a while, but now that’s back in the mix too apparently. It just doesn’t stop. What gives?

Whatever it is, this is an odd stretch. I did my time and got my check at the gig, but I’m not thrilled. I wanted to light it up for them. My tooth hurts too. All I can do is press on.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feels Like A Full Moon

Tuesday May 25th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

I wonder if there was a full moon today? I’m always afraid to look those up, because I really don’t want to know. I’d rather just fight through whatever goofiness it brings with a blind eye, not going in expecting everything to blow up in my face. I prefer a clean slate.

Today sure did feel odd, though. It was one of those days when I was behind every idiot on a cell phone in traffic who was in a deep conversation and had NO clue they were on a public roadway with other drivers. I’m trying to get better with anger but that really pisses me off royally. Do people really think they’re the only ones on the road? It’s maddening.

I lose count of how many clueless apes are lost in their own little world clutching a cell phone, gesturing like they’re conducting a philharmonic orchestra. Is there an immediate necessity to have such a deep conversation in the left hand lane in downtown Chicago?

If it’s that big of an emergency, PULL OVER. 99.999% of imbeciles I see clogging the toilet in the left hand lane when I’m late and in a hurry either have handicapped plates or a cell phone pressed against the ear of their empty brainless coconut skull that’s probably got a steel plate inside of it. I drive more than the average person, and I see it constantly.

Handicapped plates and stickers are another thing too. Of course I feel everyone should be able to get around, blah blah blah, but dammit DRIVE LIKE YOU’VE SEEN PAVED ROADS BEFORE. I was behind one halfwit slower than the next, and it blew my gasket.

I needed to get to Alpha Graphics in Vernon Hills, IL before it closed at 5pm on the dot. Jay Bachochin is the owner, and he told me he needed to leave by 5 to pick up his young son. Fine. I get that. I wish the hundreds of other mouth breathing Neanderthals did, too.

I fought traffic and missed stop lights and drove on two wheels at about 60mph through the 25mph speed limited downtown main street in Libertyville, hoping to make it by 5:00 so Jay could leave. He’s very laid back and mellow, and I got there at 5:04. He was cool, but I felt bad making him wait. It was just one of those days. I couldn’t catch any breaks.

I’ve given up trying to figure out what causes days like this. All I know is, this isn’t the first one I’ve ever had, and it won’t be the last. I’m sure everyone has them at some point, but when they hit me, I can feel them hit extra hard. To add extra stress, my gas tank was on ‘E’ and the red light was on the whole way. I had no idea if I’d run out of gas or not.

I gave Jay my CD cover art colorized so he could scan it and make posters, postcards or whatever else we can think of. I just needed to get the original to him and today was when I could do it. The time of stress in getting there felt like Steve McQueen’s ride in ‘Bullitt’.

Then I went to Pheasant Run in St. Charles to teach a comedy class for people who had to miss other classes for whatever reason. It was a make up session, and of course the air conditioning was broken and it was a sauna in the club. We were all sweating like pigs.

I was in a foul and salty mood, but it wasn’t the students’ fault. I really do love to teach classes, but today was not the ideal day. I fought traffic all day to get out there and then it was like a steam room inside the club for two hours. I came out soaked with sweat. Yuck.

Then, on the way home I received a call and a text from two different women who had to cancel dates I thought we had, and then the cake taker was getting a call from my good friend Tim Marszalkowski telling me a show in Michigan he booked for this week is off.

That’s not the unusual thing. Getting gigs cancelled at the last minute has been going on for years. Every working comedian has experienced it, but it rots ass big time, every time. This time it had a twist. Apparently, the person I suggested as the middle act got himself booked at another venue in town on the same night. In all my years, I’ve never seen that.

I don’t know him very well, but he’s from the Detroit area and asked if I could ever get him in with any bookers. Plenty of guys ask me that, and I try to help if I can. I know how hard it can be to get gigs, especially when someone is starting out. I thought I’d acquired a lot of good karma by passing countless names along over the years to a lot of bookers.

I thought this was another one, but it seems to have bitten me in the ass and isn’t going to release any time soon. Tim called and told me what happened and my jaw dropped. He was pretty shocked too, and said he’s going to cancel the gig he’d booked me for because people were bitching that the price of admission at the other gig was a whole lot lower.

Tim’s show was supposed to be a fundraiser for the local area businesses who wanted a chance at government grant money to start jobs. He worked very hard at getting it booked and had arranged radio interviews, newspaper articles, and secured my services to do the show. My Craig Ferguson appearance was a selling point and the people were all excited.

Then, apparently some snaggle puss booker I never heard of heard about it and went to a local hotel and booked a low rent show on the same night. The middle act who I asked to do our gig was listed as the middle act on that show. Tim and I both called him, but he hasn’t returned either call as of yet. I can’t understand what the hell he was trying to do.

Wouldn’t it be obvious we’d find out about it? The shows even started at the same time. How would he be able to do both gigs, and not think anyone would know - especially in a very small town where they rarely have comedy at all? This is way up north in Michigan.

I’m not so much angry about it as shocked. I don’t see the thought process with the guy, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until I talk to him personally. I’m not that close with him at all, and we’ve only worked a couple of times on the road. I’ll hold my tongue.

The guy was supposed to have me headline a show he’s trying to put together in a jazz club in the Detroit area in September. I‘m sure as hell going to think twice about trusting anyone who would go behind my back and the back of one of my best friends like that on short notice for such a small amount of money. The whole day was like this - very weird.

Double Exposure

Monday May 24th, 2010 - Kenosha, WI/Chicago, IL

Any time a comedian can get on radio or TV, it’s a good thing. Today I did both. First it was a radio appearance on WLIP in Kenosha, WI - the same station on which I’m the host of ‘The Mothership Connection’ on Sunday nights. There’s a show in the afternoon called ‘Happenings Q & A’. It’s hosted by Frank Carmichael, who owns Happenings magazine.

It’s amazing what a small world it is. I’d heard the show many times, as that’s what was on as I was learning to run the control board at WLIP for my show. I’d heard of Frank for a long time before that, because he published the magazine. Still, it never occurred to me that he’s the brother of a comedian named Kurtis Carmichael who I knew from years ago.

He was a competent comedian, but his ‘fame’ came from being a TV Bozo The Clown in Milwaukee and getting kicked off the air for being too suggestive. He caused a big stir when he did it, and I remember watching it a few times back when he was on in the ‘80s. It probably wasn’t meant for kids, but I laughed really hard. He was the original Krusty.

Kurtis was a funny guy and I always liked him, but his real flair was for business. He’s one of the most entrepreneurial people I know, and he was always telling me about what he had going. He used to have a fleet of motorized ice cream tricycles and hire people to drive them near the beach and sell ice cream for him. I always admired his money sense.

I haven’t seen Kurtis Carmichael in years, but as soon as Frank said he had a brother in comedy, I immediately knew who it was. They look similar, and it hit me right away that it had to be Kurtis. Evidently the opportunity bug bit Frank too, as he’s had the magazine for years. Good for both of them. I always enjoy hearing entrepreneurial success stories.

Tonight I filmed a pilot for a standup TV show that was held at Zanies in Chicago. The show was run by Bert Haas, directly from a conversation he and I had on the way back to Chicago from Hot Springs, AR last summer. I think there’s room for another show like it, as many came and went during the ‘80s and ‘90s. This is just an old idea done over again.

The good part is, it’ll have comedians that aren’t the Hollywood mainstays. There are a ton of undiscovered comedians between the coasts who are too busy working to be on one of the coasts trying to get discovered. Those are the people Bert and I interact with daily.

I have nothing to do with the production of it per se, but Bert made me part of the pilot anyway. He didn’t have to do that, and I sure appreciate it. The taping went very well and it was loaded with great acts from Tim Walkoe to Dwayne Kennedy to a dozen more that totally deserved to be included. I hope this show takes off, I think it’s got some potential.

Today was a good day all around. It was fun if nothing else, but I think it was more. I’m sure both of these contacts will pay dividends in the future, and I appreciate it that both of them would include me in their projects. This is what building a network is all about, and the whole idea is to help each other grow. Two healthy contact seeds were planted today.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Red Flag Rising

Sunday May 23rd, 2010 - Chicago, IL

There’s a red flag flying sky high. Time to knuckle down and work even harder. I was asked to be part of a panel discussion at a comedy seminar held in Chicago this weekend called ‘The Inside Joke - 2010’. It was a venture by a local guy named Nate Baumgart.

Events like this are never easy to pull off, so kudos to Nate for even attempting to do it. I did one several years ago at Zanies, and it was all kinds of work to get it up and running. I don’t mind work at all, but these events require a lot of things that try one‘s patience.

Who can predict what can draw enough interest to get someone to attend a seminar? It’s a crapshoot, and advertising is not and never was cheap. It’s a little easier now with social networking, but it’s still not easy to get multiple butts out to fill up seats for any reason.

I thought Nate did a very commendable job attracting people from all areas of Chicago comedy even though the turnout was rather sparse. He had some top level people from the improv and standup scene, and if anyone was interested in learning they should have been there shaking hands and kissing babies. Nate kept the admission price ridiculously low.

If I’m not mistaken, each session was able to be attended for only a buck, and it was $5 for the weekend. That’s insane. We charged $350 for the weekend for the seminar we did at Zanies and we still didn’t turn a profit. We used the money to cover all of our expenses and advertising, and that ate it up quickly. We also had to purchase an insurance policy.

I don’t know what Nate’s expenses were, but I hope he didn’t lose his shorts. I don’t see how he couldn’t have, but that’s not my business. My business was to make comments on a panel about standup comedy that included Bert Haas from Zanies, Chris Ritter - the guy who used to own the Lakeshore Theatre, and comics Bill Gorgo and Cameron Esposito.

There were a lot of disagreements about a lot of topics, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What I found disturbing was that nobody was there to see it. There are a whole lot of aspiring performers of all kinds in Chicago, and this is an event that should’ve been a waiting list only kind of thing. It was a great chance to pick the brains of some veterans.

I hope the business isn’t passing me by, but I’m in a dangerously close place where that could easily happen. I heard some names talked about by the panel I have never heard of, and I’m supposed to be in the business. That’s a huge red flag, and I need to fix it quickly.

The whole comedy game is changing, much like life itself. It used to be that everybody in comedy knew or at least had heard of everyone else. Now, there are people I’ve never heard of that are signing movie deals. I guess I should pay more attention to the internet.

I’m not really one for chat rooms or message boards or all the other things most comics need to know these days. It’s all evolving there, and if I don’t catch up and learn who’s on top of it I’m SO dead in the water. This was a wakeup call. I need to get better yesterday.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Color Coordination

Saturday May 22nd, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

No gig tonight but this time it’s ok. Last night’s show was so hot I got my fix and I have a lot of work coming up in the next few weeks that will keep me plenty busy. My plan for today was to keep tabs on my daily chores like emails and calls and make sure those kinds of things don’t get out of hand as they tend to do quite frequently. It’s a constant struggle.

That was my plan, but I got so far off of it it’s ridiculous. I don’t know how it happened and I sure didn’t plan on it, but I ended up spending about eight full hours today coloring. Yes, COLORING - as in filling in a black and white picture with markers and hoping not to go outside the lines. I thought for sure my coloring days were over, but I was mistaken.

What’s next, a game of hide and seek? Some graham crackers? Nap time? Am I back in kindergarten? I wasn’t very good at coloring back then, so why did I revert back to it over forty years later? Necessity. I needed to add color to the cover artwork of my new CD. It’s been bothering me since I got it, and I had to see what it would look like in living color.

My original plan was to do a tribute to the Funkadelic album “Hardcore Jollies”. I chose that particular one not only because “Hard Luck Jollies” fits it perfectly, but also because it’s a very wildly drawn busy cover with all kinds of vibrant pinks and purples all over it.

Pedro Bell’s style is quite striking, and I have to believe he’s sampled his share of LSD, plus yours and mine too. He must have done about twenty albums throughout the heyday of their peak years, and they really do stand out. One of the reasons why is that they’re all bursting with an array of colors. That‘s what I‘d pictured my project to be, but it wasn’t.

I really feel bad that Pedro’s ink person ripped him off, but I paid for a finished product and I didn’t get it. Whoever was at fault isn’t important. What matters is, I needed to get a product out so I made due with what I had. It doesn’t look horrible at all, and most people who’d probably be fans of mine have no idea who Pedro Bell or Funkadelic are anyway.

Still, if I’m going to do something, I want to do it right. I know nobody cares, but I want to hopefully do another print run eventually, and that one should have a colorized version of the cover. I played around with several versions until I finally nailed what I had wanted in the first place, but it was worth it. The colors just leap off the page and it’s a lot better.

My friend Jay Bachochin owns an Alpha Graphics in Vernon Hills, IL and he said he’ll be able to scan the color drawing and reproduce it as needed. I could see this even being a t-shirt eventually, or maybe even a poster. It’s very unique and I’m glad I took the time to get it finished the way I imagined it to be in the first place. This was worth all my effort.

Hopefully, I’m now done with my coloring career and can go back into retirement. I am glad I did this though, because the results will pay off for a long time. Plus, I also colored a back cover drawing Pedro did, which I think I can tweak into the front cover of the next CD. I paid for it, why not use it? Anything that can set me apart in a good way, I’ll take.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Two States, Too Fun

Friday May 21st, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI/Crystal Lake, IL

I have to admit, life is really starting to get fun right about now. All kinds of things are happening on a daily basis that I really enjoy. I’ll also admit that in the past I’ve often had a tendency to bitch, piss, moan, whine, complain or bellyache about a whole lot of things. I realize that I can be picky, fussy, flighty and many times have been difficult to please.

Part of that may have to do with my creative nature, another part could be my childhood dented can experiences. Still another part could be that I’m a just garden variety kook bag wandering around on the wrong planet. A good bet would be a combination of the three.

Whatever the case, I’ve got a nice little groove going right now. I feel it. I’m coming off a depression funk recently, but that feels light years away right now. I’m at peace with my inner self and whatever demons I’ve had must have gotten bored with me and moved on.

None of this means it can’t or won’t change, but I do want to acknowledge the positive groove I’m in and be grateful for it. I feel almost bulletproof right now, and the reason for it is I know what I’m doing and am pleasing myself first. Everyone else takes a back seat.

I’m doing things my way, and enjoying each day to the fullest. Today was another good example. I drove up to Milwaukee to be a guest on ‘The D-List’ radio show on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee with Drew Olson. Dan Needles was off and several guests were filling in.

I was a little late due to road construction, but I did get there and shared the studio with the always lovely Caitlin Morall, who wasn’t wearing makeup and was STILL scorching hot, and Stephanie Sutton, sportscaster from Channel 12. She’s by far no homely muppet herself, and was very sweet and fun both on mike and off. It was totally worth the drive.

I cracked off a few good lines and made everyone laugh, and I also got to plug my Hard Luck Jollies CD for a few minutes, which Drew was very kind to do. It was a blast as I’ve come to always expect it to be, and even the owner Craig Karmazin made it a point to say some very nice things before I left. When does THAT ever happen in radio? Uh…never?

Tonight I did a show at The Raue Center in Crystal Lake, IL. I was there before a while back with Tim Walkoe, but it was a last minute fill in. I opened the show both as a favor and for the money, but tonight I was the headliner. It’s funny how the staff congratulated me for being ‘moved up’, and one lady only half jokingly asked if I thought I was ready.

I faked a look of terror and said “Geez, I don’t know. Got any extra jokes in case I need to stretch the time?” She didn’t laugh at all and probably didn’t know if I was kidding or not, but after I came off stage nobody had any doubts. These people were mine tonight.

Everything was right about this show. The place was full and the crowd happened to be totally into my vibe and rhythm. And, I was paid BEFORE I went on! Hear that, maggots who bounce checks? This was a great day all around, and even the weather was perfect.

Hometown Homecoming

Thursday May 20th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

Today it was back up to Milwaukee for a lunch with Tom Skibosh, former P.R. director for the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s a super nice guy, and I was hooked up with him through my power network of Milwaukee shaker/baker types. I’m learning it pays to be patient, as eventually good things do happen. It’s taken years to build up this quality people network.

‘Sky’ said can help me put a plan together for the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ one man show as far as things like making media contacts and getting an actual program published. He’s an expert on that kind of stuff and has years of experience doing exactly that for the Brewers.

Sky’s assistant was Jon Greenberg, now president of the Milwaukee Admirals. Greenie has always been great to me, and still continues to throw bones my way whenever he can. These are the kinds of people that I want to be around, and in return I’ve done favors for a lot of them as well. Nobody keeps score either, it’s a bunch of friends helping each other.

Some of the best on that list include Drew Olson, Steve ‘The Homer’ True, Ted Perry at Fox 6, Mark Krueger, Art Kumbalek, Gene Mueller, my friend Wade Waugus who works for the Bucks and started there when we were ball boys in high school. These are people I would do anything for, and they’ve proven it time and time again by doing things for me.

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to escape Milwaukee, but that’s where I come from and nothing will ever change it. I had so many painful memories there, and all I wanted to do was get out of town and forget them. I thought that would do it, but I was wrong. I still had them rotting inside. It didn’t matter where I went, all that ugliness was still festering.

All these years later, I’m a completely different person. I’ve worked through my painful family mess, at least to the point where I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I proved it to myself by successfully chasing and catching my dream of being a full time comedian. Family and childhood are things I couldn’t control. Things I could have been successful.

I’m seeing things a lot more clearly than I ever have, and even with the heaping helping of stupid mistakes I’ve made, I’ve also managed to squeeze in a lot of positive things too. My confidence as both a performer and a person is finally growing in the healthy way it’s supposed to. Mommy and Daddy never told me I was good, but audiences always have.

I guess I’m finally starting to believe it, at least a little. I’m not cocky or arrogant, but it does feel good when people come up after a show and tell me they enjoyed it. I know all kinds of comedians who don’t know how to deal with that, and I admit I used to feel very awkward in that situation for a long time myself. Now, I really enjoy it. It makes my day.

I’m also noticing all kinds of women around me lately. I’ve always been streaky in that department, either hot or cold. The tide flows in and out, and now it’s in. I’ve been having all kinds of women I’m interested in either contact me or I’m running into them in droves.
I sure wish I knew how to control it, but for whatever reason it’s been raining hot women.

One I absolutely adore is Kristi McHugh. She’s a comic from Iowa living in L.A. and is chasing the big dream. We worked together in Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago and she blew me away with her sharp funny wit. It doesn’t hurt that she’s supermodel hot, either.

Kristi called me today and said she’s doing a set in front of Tim Allen and his manager Rick Messina next week at the Laugh Factory in L.A. Yay, Kristi! I know she’ll nail that and I’ve always predicted big things for her. She was with me back stage when I taped my Craig Ferguson appearance, and I knew then she’d take it a lot farther than I ever would.

She has ‘it’, and I’m thrilled she’s getting her shot. She called out of the blue and asked if I’d help go over her audition set. Of course I will. Maybe she’ll let me be her new pool boy, or designated limo waxer. Maybe she’ll put me in charge of keeping her tofu chilled.

I think she’s a cross between a young Mary Tyler Moore and Sandra Bullock. Not in her looks, she’s blonde. I’m talking about in her attitude. She’s got the independent woman in the big city thing that Mary Tyler Moore had in her sitcom, and also the infamous big star quality of ‘guys want to do her, women want to BE her’. I think she’s going to hit it BIG.

Good for her. I had the same feeling about Frank Caliendo, and he ended up hitting it as big as anyone in recent memory. Good for him too. I can’t do one impression and I’m not a gorgeous blonde with a razor sharp wit. All I can do is plod along with whatever I have.

Maybe it’s not in the cards for me to be a big star, and that’s ok. There are a lot of nasty facets to that whole thing too, and I know it’s not all chocolate cake and limo rides. I have to believe Elvis and Michael Jackson had a lot more painful memories than positive ones, at least after the major fame set in. It seems to get so huge it consumes any one person.

My ego needs are a lot lower than that. I don’t need to be constantly stalked by a lurking band of carnivorous paparazzi hoping to catch me picking my nose so they can snap off a whole roll of film of it and sell it to the National Enquirer. Some crave all that attention.

I want to DO something in life. I want to help others and do good and be kind to people who can’t pay me back. I want to experience whatever high spiritual level there is to find on a superficial planet filled with psychotic idiots and greedy soulless robots. Can I do it?

That’s the plan. It’s always been the plan, even when I was starting out back in the early days in Milwaukee. I always wanted to be a big deal there, only because it was my home town. Who doesn’t want to be a big deal in their home town? I never got it, and after a lot of years of trying I just gave up and moved on. Now, I‘m reconnecting in a positive way.

I feel good things about to happen in the next few months, and I’ll enjoy every second of every minute of all of it. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and I’m finally in a position to really start enjoying myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and am ready to reclaim my Milwaukee roots by being a part of my team of friends like Sky and Drew and Wade and all the rest. I learned a lot of lessons along the way, and I’m ready to rock.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Networking Is Necessary

Wednesday May 19th, 2010 - Chicago, IL/St. Charles, IL

It’s only now that I’m really starting to grasp just how important building a network can be in terms of working in the entertainment business. People really do talk, and when I’ve been able to keep my name in front of someone who can do something for me, it’s usually paid off at least one time or another. The question is, how can I do it the most efficiently?

There’s a fine line between updating someone regularly and being a flat out pest. We’re all bombarded with emails and texts and most of those aren’t important so how can I keep my name and availabilities in someone’s head without bothering them? I wish I could say I knew, but I don’t. Nobody does. Everyone has different ways they digest information.

I’ve built up enough of a reputation with enough bookers around the country that I have people calling me for work. I do a solid job and can handle myself in most situations from a stage standpoint because I’m so experienced. I’ve seen it all and nothing rattles me, so a booker knows I’ll do the job more often than not even if there’s a flood or a wild heckler.

I don’t know how proud of that fact I am, but it’s true. I get calls from bookers all over who are ‘trying something out’ and use me as the guinea pig. It could be anything from a deaf mute biker rally to a gay lumberjack bake sale, or both. In the same weekend. Across the country. In a blizzard. And I have to be squeaky clean. With PowerPoint. In Yiddish.

Somehow, over the years I’ve been able to pull most of those kinds of shows off. That’s probably why I get so many calls for work today, but I’m still painfully lax on keeping the people who could possibly hire me informed I’m even alive. If I did, I bet I’d easily triple the amount of work coming in, and get paid more too because I could afford to be choosy.

Today Marc Schultz held a networking lunch with some of the clients he books through the year. Those are always fun, so I went hoping to meet some new people. Marc is one of the nicest bookers I’ve ever met, and everyone who knows him loves him. He invited Tim Walkoe and me, but we were the only comedians. The rest ran the entire gamut of variety.

There were magicians and jugglers and a ventriloquist and even a couple of other ladies who book entertainment that Tim and I have both worked for in the past. It was a fun time socially, but also a nice chance to network with people from another branch of a business that traditionally hires by word of mouth. This was a good opportunity for each one of us.

Occasionally people ask if I might know any number of different kinds of acts, so if I’m able to recommend someone and get them work I’m more than happy to do it. That’s how networking pays off, and I’ve had it come back to me in the past from other entertainers.

Tonight I went to Pheasant Run in St. Charles to meet in person with a small group that has been interested in a comedy class, but not enough to make an actual class. I met with them personally and answered questions they had, and I could tell they were impressed by my willingness to do so. No problem, that’s networking too. To do it is smart business.

Hooters And Rooters

Tuesday May 18th, 2010 - Greenfield, WI

Sometimes everything just works out. I look around at some people and I see it happen all the time. There are no glitches and everything moves along exactly how it’s supposed to. That’s never been me, but once in a while I’ll catch a day when it comes pretty close.

Today was one of those. For the second year in a row I was asked to emcee the swimsuit contest at Hooters in Greenfield, WI. I got it last year when my friend Drew Olson wasn’t able to do it, and he thought of me as a last minute replacement. My timing was perfect.

That’s not something I’m used to, so I took it as a victory. Any time there’s a chance for a paying gig on a Tuesday, one takes it - especially in this economy. I’d had experience in working for Hooters before from my radio days in both Reno and Salt Lake City, and they were always very professional to deal with. Plus, who doesn’t like to “check the menu“?

The thing I like about Hooters is they really know how to run an event. They’ve always been extremely thorough, at least from my experience, and they make it classy rather than take it into the gutter. Of course guys are there to gawk at chicks, but it doesn’t feel slimy.

The manager of the Greenfield Hooters is extremely sharp, and I could tell that as soon as I met him last year. His name is Bob Hall, and he totally gets how to run an event. This was his fifth one, and by no means was it easy to pull off even one. It was a killer success, and run well from top to bottom. Any time I can be a part of something like that, I do it.

One of the few things I know how to do well is emcee an event. I can think very quickly on my feet and keep things going smoothly, even when they’re not. That took many years to acquire, but I’m confident to be able to handle anything at this point. It’s not a big deal, but like a referee in sports - the host only gets noticed when something goes very wrong.

Nothing went wrong last year other than I made a couple of comments up front that had a bit of double entendre to them, and Bob told me I had to lay off of that kind of thing. He wasn’t a jerk about it or anything like that, he just told me where the line was and I got it.

After that, it came off without as much as a hint of trouble, and everyone was happy. He paid me immediately, and I was grateful to get it. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that he wanted me back this year, and it happened to fit into my schedule perfectly so I said yes.

This year’s event was even better. The crowd was more into it, and everything fell into place perfectly. The same sound guy was there, a guy named Bobby Donini who had a big system that really sounded great. He handed me the mike and everything went really well.

This year I had a co-hostess too, an absolute blonde stunner named Sarah who’s 21 and looks like Jessica Simpson but is a lot smarter. She did some announcements between the costume changes of the contestants and was a peach to work with. She wasn’t stuck up or a bubblehead at all. Nobody was. This was about as fun as a Tuesday in Wisconsin gets.

These are the kinds of connections that make life enjoyable. It started with Drew Olson. I’ve known him for over twenty years, and he’s always had a heart of gold. Even when he was just an upstart writer for the Milwaukee Journal, he was always generous and got the concept of sharing the wealth in life. Now, all these years later it’s paying off in spades.

Drew was a roommate of a comedian friend named Pete Lipsey, another classy guy who has always been a giver. I’ve tried to be the same, and for whatever reason the three of us hooked up way back when, and it’s paid off more times than I can count. I helped Pete get started in comedy, and had Drew on as a guest when I was doing mornings at 93QFM.

It’s funny to imagine now, but he was actually nervous the first couple of times he was on the air with us in those days. Nobody else knew that though, and he was very good on the show. We’d have him in when we could, and he always told me how grateful he was for it. I was happy to do it, and now all these years later the roles have switched around.

Now he’s Mr. Radio Guy and lets me sit in on his show when I want. He’s never blown me off, nor forgotten how I helped him get started. That’s not only a sign of real class, but a tribute to his lack of petty insecurity that can be so common in the entertainment game.

Drew passed the Hooters gig on to me, and I met Bob. Bob liked what I did last year, so he called me again this year. I totally didn’t expect it, and it was a pleasant surprise to get another chance to do it. He said he plans on doing it next year, and I’ll get the call again.

What’s even better is that there’s a similar contest at the Hooters in Rockford, IL. Guess who’s hosting that one? My old radio buddies Stone and Double T from 104 ‘The X’, and I was just a guest on their show last week. All the people were telling me how I needed to meet them but I told them we were already friends. Small world, but this one is a winner.

These are totally the people I want to not only hang out with, but exchange services and favors like this. Stone and Double T are great guys, and they give me the same freedom to come on their radio show as Drew Olson and Dan Needles do on ESPN 540. Bob fits into that mold, and now he’s another connection. He’d help me, and I’d surely help him also.

These people are more than just friends. These are RELATIONSHIPS, the kind that one never loses out by both seeking and developing. Nobody keeps track of favors, but there’s two way action whenever one is needed. I want to find as many of these people as I can in life and keep the network growing. The dividends it pays come back many years later.

I gave Bob and a copy of my Hard Luck Jollies CD, and I forgot I did a bit about having a Hooters in Milwaukee that should have been called “Udders”. It’s gotten big laughs for many years, but I felt embarrassed that it was on there. This Hooters is anything but that.

What a treat to have people like Bob and Drew and Stone and Double T in my life. I’m extremely grateful for all of them, and it doesn’t hurt to have to look at gorgeous women in bikinis all night to get paid. This is how life should be every day. I’m working on that.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Split Decisions

Monday May 17th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

Had dinner in Chicago with my grade school friend Tom Orlando and his nephew Alex, who thinks I’m one of the funniest humans alive. Tom has been wanting to bring Alex to meet me for a while now, and tonight was the night. I’m glad we were able to hook it up.

Tom is one of my all time favorite people. He’s truly funny and always was, even in our school days. He was in broadcasting and did quite well for himself, but he also has a great business head and decided he wanted the financial security of doing that. Good for him.

Tom has done it right, and he couldn’t be any nicer. He made a great point while we ate when he said “The difference between Bill Gates and me is - I have ENOUGH.” That’s a point I’ve never heard put that way, but he’s right. He loves what he does, but he also has time to enjoy it. He’s always doing things like going to Europe to backpack for a month.

It’s great to have someone like Tom as a friend now, because he’s known me my whole life and knows the entire story, just as I know his. We’ve had a lot of similar experiences, especially in broadcasting. We’ve also done very different things and that’s ok too. We’re able to learn from each other, and I consider him a true ally. He’s someone I really trust.

I brought up the whole idea of maybe going after the comedy booking accounts of some of the slimier agents around, and he was all for it. He’s from Milwaukee and knows about the history there, and he could totally see where my frustrations lie. He said he could see a solid opportunity, but only if I made a total commitment to it. I’m not sure of the answer.

Booking comedians has never been my goal. I want to keep myself booked, but I see the need for someone to step in who’s both ethical and competent, and I know I could do it at a higher level than those who are doing it now. It would appear I have no experience but I know the business inside and out from being on the other side. I could absolutely do this.

Rumor has it the Comedy Café in Milwaukee is going to reopen and the owners are in a process of reorganization. They’ve apparently interviewed several booking agencies from all over, and Funny Business has undercut everyone’s price in hopes of getting it. I’d hate to see that happen, and I’d love to have a chance to say my pitch to the building owners.

NOBODY in America could do a better job of booking a comedy club in Milwaukee. It can’t happen. I’ve spent a lifetime observing the city, the club scene there and the comedy business in general. I know the territory inside and out and could book it better and for the absolute lowest price around. It’s like a factory outlet, they could cut out the middle man.

Funny Business or any other agency doesn’t know the Milwaukee comedy scene like an actual comedian. I’d know exactly what to do, and would love to have a chance. I’d prove it to everyone, and results would be almost immediate. One thing I wouldn’t do is go over the head of the woman who used to book the Comedy Café. I told her I have no animosity toward her and I don’t. She’s ethical, and I wouldn’t disrespect her. The others? Look out.

Shuffling The Cards

Sunday May 16th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

Life is turning out to be much more difficult than I thought. I was sure I’d have all life’s mysteries figured out by now, but I’m still bumbling along trying to piece it all together. I should be planning for a grandiose retirement, when in fact I’m just barely squeaking by.

I don’t like it one bit, but that’s where I am. And I know I’m not alone. I have to believe hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in this country alone are not satisfied with the direction their life is headed, but they do nothing about it except maybe drink a whole lot so they can forget it. The fact remains, we’re all self made and that can be a bitter pill.

I look back on my life and many times I had the right idea, but didn’t execute it and it’s too late to try again. Baseball cards are an example. I knew they’d be worth something at some point, so I began buying as many old ones as I could when I was barely a teenager.

I sent them away to get autographed, and I had all kinds of big stars who are now dead including Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris and many others. I saved the right cards and had a fantastic collection by the time I graduated high school. I drifted from the card game as most kids do, but a few years later I got back in it and fell in love all over.

I bought some more stuff and then life’s storms started to hit and I was sick of having to move it time and time again so I ended up selling it all. Even though I made a very strong profit at the time, I’d have been able to make a total killing had I just held on to it longer.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda is part of everyone’s life, but I really did blow it. I should have not touched any of those cards for years, and then sold them right at the peak back around 1996 when prices were sky high. I have to believe I’d have been able to clear $150,000 or more, and I could have gotten out with a hefty chunk of change to show for my efforts.

Now, I’m trying to peddle my remnants way past the peak years and hope to break even on some stuff I probably overpaid for in the first place. I tried to force it rather than let the deal come to me, and now I’m paying for it in more ways than one. My timing was off on this deal, and not only did it take up time, space and money, it’ll take work to sell it all.

I drove up to Milwaukee today to take a run through the card show at Gonzaga Hall and meet with the guy who’s supposedly going to take my cards on consignment. He’s buying collections left and right because others are selling too, and doesn’t have room right now.

He’s been in the card game steady for 35 years, and everyone respects him. He’s from a small town in Michigan, but he travels every week to card shows and has a built up a very solid reputation for being an honest guy. I could have done that too, but I chose otherwise.

I’ve dabbled with cards for probably that long, and didn’t make a full commitment like this guy did. He’s not rich, but he’s got a plan and does ok. I’m scrambling to get out of it and move on with life, hoping to hit stride with something else. This life thing isn’t easy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sales Fails

Saturday May 15th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

Another Saturday night without a gig. I never enjoy that. It’s mostly my fault, as I’ve let my booking chops get rusty, but gigs have been coming in on their own so I’ve not had to be as aggressive as a young kid trying to get started. I’ve established a solid reputation for doing killer shows, and that’s why my phone keeps ringing. I’ve earned it the hard way.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be out there pounding the pavement selling myself every single week, and that’s exactly what I haven’t done. I don’t enjoy that, but now I’m seeing the direct result of my lapse by not working tonight, and if you don’t work - you don’t eat.

What comedy basically is is a sales route. My wares are my show, and I make rounds to buyers who can use what I’m selling. Some buy it for a night, others for a week, others do it for several weeks over and over again. It’s my job to line up more buyers, and also get a higher price from the ones who have bought me in the past. I’m letting my sources lapse.

I’ve been taking the easy way and just letting the phone ring at random. It’s been doing that, and that’s part of the reason I’ve been less than aggressive with the whole process. In a way, it’s good that I have some holes in my schedule as it will make me pay more mind and improve my habits. I’m off next Saturday too, though I am booked on Friday the 21st.

I used today to get a load of sports cards ready to take up to Milwaukee tomorrow to get the ball rolling in getting them sold. There’s the monthly card show at Gonzaga Hall up in West Allis, WI that’s been going on for years, and there’s a dealer from Michigan that has agreed to take my collection on consignment and sell it for me. It’s what I need right now.

Not only will it bring me some income, it will also help free some room in both my life and my home. I totally admit the timing isn’t right at the moment, and I want to overcome a big mistake I made by buying them in the first place. I did what I did at the time with as much information as I had then. Circumstances have changed, and I want to move ahead.

I also made some calls as to the possibility of trying to become a booker myself of some rooms. I’m not really looking to be a full time booking agent, but I know I could do a way better job than a lot of those who are doing it now. Plus, I could do it for a far lower price.

I know several people who used to be involved in the comedy business and could grasp the concept of getting the legwork done. If I had booking authority, I would hand choose individual shows with comedians who would work best in a particular venue. I’ve been at this my whole life, and I understand how it works. Chemistry is a major part of booking.

There’s much more to it than that though. There are a ton of possible headaches, and in no way do I think it would be easy. I just think it’s being so mangled now that somebody has to step in that has a clue and clean it up a little. This is business, and I resent the fact a bunch of incompetent no nothings were handed the keys to my immediate future by their father who never cared if we lived or died in the first place. This is totally about survival.

The Magic Question

Friday May 14th, 2010 - Libertyville, IL

Life has more pay ins than pay offs, at least for most of us. I know it does for me. I have struggled for so long, I’m having trouble getting myself in a mindset to accept whatever it is that’s going to be my payoff. Will there be one at all? I’m beginning to really wonder.

I was in a short tempered pissy mood all day, and I don’t know why. It was one of those days when absolutely everything got on my nerves, and I felt like punching something or someone just for looking at me wrong. It was a bad day to leave the house, but there were places to go and people to see and I needed to do it anyway. I avoided punching anyone.

My web person Shelley asked if I wanted to go with her on a ‘mystery shop’ at a brand new burger joint in Libertyville. She does those as a part time job, and once in a while I’ll tag along so she doesn’t have to go herself. Her kids are in school and her husband has to work, so it’s a chance for her to get out of the house a little and make some cash as well.

Shelley is a very sweet person. She’s a giver like me, and always tries to help people in need. I totally appreciate it, and she and her husband Bob have helped me eliminate some viruses from my computer when they totally didn’t have to. Shelley built my website too, and helped me when I really needed it. I don’t ever want to screw over people like that.

She likes comedy a lot, and would love to be on the road doing shows. A lot of people I know would. They look at me and think I have ‘the life’. Granted, there are a lot of facets of my life that are outstanding. I make my own schedule, and I’ve been able to survive for a lifetime doing what I really enjoy. I never lose track of that, but big holes still do exist.

We had to wait in line for our burgers, and I was in no mood for crowds today. I tried to stay positive, and if Shelley didn’t have to eat at that particular restaurant, I’d have turned around and got back in my car and went home. Halfway through lunch, Shelley asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. “What exactly is it that would make you happy?”

Isn’t that the magic question for all of us? I sat there trying to figure it out for quite a bit longer than I expected, and I kept saying “GOOD question.” She looks at me and thinks I have the perfect life. I look at her with her family and that’s what I really want. I still love doing comedy and always will, but having a loving family really appeals to me. I want it.

I’m not saying that’s perfect either, but it sure would settle me down a little. Also, more financial security would do it too. If I sacrificed this much for this long, I sure didn’t get a decent payoff for it. I’m struggling to survive, and I should be doing a lot better than that.

What the hell did I sacrifice so much for if there’s no payoff? I want people to come see ME, not just go to a random comedy show and I happen to be there. There’s a difference, and I haven’t been able to achieve it no matter how hard I’ve tried. It’s SO frustrating, but what can I do? I’m too far into the game to quit now, but I definitely could use a big boost when it comes to my business skills. I’d love a family too. It would make me feel needed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Keeping It Clean

Wednesday May 12th, 2010 - Oregon, IL

I had what was probably one of my top three personal best comedy shows EVER today, and I’m feeling like a total loser. It’s mixed emotions to the tenth power. The show itself was as good as I could be, and I’m a tough critic. Too bad not a lot of people were around to see it. I feel like I missed my career bus, and am trying to hitch hike across the country.

The gig was booked by Marc Schultz at the White Pines State Park in Oregon, IL. They have a nice campground facility there that also has log cabins. There’s a restaurant on the grounds that has a theatre space attached that seats about 150 people. They have all kinds of entertainment apparently from celebrity music impersonators to bands to funny plays.

Marc has booked acts there before, but they’ve never had a standup comic, mostly due to the common (and too often justified) concern that the act will be dirty. Marc sent them my Craig Ferguson set on a DVD and the woman in charge bought me directly off of it.

That’s the main reason to get a TV credit, so as to parlay it into more work. Marc says a lot of places he’s tried to sell me before were afraid to book me because they thought I’m ‘too clubbish’, and didn’t know if I could do a clean set. The TV credit legitimizes me.

The good thing about all this is it’s starting to expand my venues. The bad thing is, I’m at the ‘tweener’ age. I’m getting old for young crowds and am young for old ones. I know I can do well with most audiences, but nobody handles them all. NOBODY. Anyone who says they ‘kill everywhere’ is a bald faced liar. Different audiences have different tastes.

Today’s gig couldn’t have gone any better. It was a 1pm show, right after the lunch but before dessert. They wanted me to do a solid hour, but no intermission as is sometimes an obstacle for comedy. There were about 55-60 people in the audience, and I doubt if any of them were under 50. I was told a church group was to be there, but I think they cancelled.

The woman in charge named Beth was both extremely friendly and professional, as was everybody else I met from staff. The audience was used to seeing shows, and was right on target from start to finish. These people were WONDERFUL, and it was a treat to get the opportunity to perform for them - even if the place wasn’t sold out. Still, it wasn’t easy.

A large portion of the audience consisted of The Red Hat Society. I’ve dealt with them a few times before, and they’re usually sweet people. Today was no exception, and all of them sat in one section and were great laughers. They’re a group of ladies 50ish and over and I think they do charity work as part of their group. They’re usually very conservative.

Marc Schultz told me this would be a clean show, and I had no problem with that. I can keep it squeaky clean, which I did today. I didn’t say even one ‘damn’ or ‘hell’, and if the church group had shown up, there wouldn’t have been any complaints. I was ready for it. This was a show that very few working club comedians could have pulled off, and I knew it as I was doing it. I adjusted myself accordingly, and I pulled off a solid hour on stage.

I challenge anyone who’s ever tried to be a comedian to do that. Believe me, it’s not at a small accomplishment. It took every single ounce of the experience I’ve earned for all my years of honing my craft thousands of times on stage all over North America and Canada to make today happen, and keep this group of seniors laughing without being off color.

I don’t usually work blue anyway, but sometimes that’s the direction the audience wants to go. I’m not offended at all by any swearing, and it can be a tool in the right situation on stage. This wasn’t the place to use it, and I knew that going in. It was a challenge, but I’ve always loved challenges and that’s why it felt so good to pull off such a solid show today.

There were a lot of things going both for and against me, but in the end I nailed it. That was what was so satisfying. People lined up to have me autograph their programs and get a picture with me and I did whatever they asked me to. I also heard over and over “I loved the fact you kept it CLEAN.” I know there’s a HUGE market for comedy that isn’t dirty.

The trouble is, most club comics who are funny can’t adjust, and most people who do a clean act aren’t funny. It’s a very fine line, and not many can do it. I was proud of myself, mainly for the fact that I knew where the line was the whole time and knew I wouldn’t let myself cross it. I had to really work hard to be in the moment and focus on getting laughs.

One of the Red Hat ladies went off on a tangent halfway through the show, but I knew I couldn’t flip out on her. She wasn’t mean or heckling, she just made comments that were a little out there. I took it and ran with it and got about five minutes of ad libs that had the whole audience laughing, but I didn’t have to slam the lady who said it. It was all in fun.

A lot of the skills I used today I learned from my mentor C. Cardell Willis. I used to sit and watch him work for older crowds, and he really knew how to do it. He slowed down, became much more animated than usual and he never got angry at them when they would talk to him during the show. Those were a lot of the very same techniques I used today.

I’ll admit I threw in a couple of old jokes too, but I knew exactly when to do them and I leaned into it and SOLD them like I just thought of it. That’s the key in that situation. It’s very much an attitude and likeability is very important. I was firing on all cylinders today, only because I knew what this audience wanted and gave it to them - for one whole hour.

That’s a long time on stage in any scenario, much less this one. I did my preparation for this show and it paid off with the satisfaction of both audience and venue. They said they want me back next year, and I’ll gladly do it. The bad part was I wasn’t able to draw flies.

That’s what made me feel so low afterward. I don’t mind performing for older crowds, and in fact if they were like today I’d love it. There are cruise ships that pay well and lots of active assisted living centers that would probably love to see a clean show like this and pay for it too. Still, I’m not known and haven’t been able to develop a draw. I could have easily been just as funny for 550-600 people as I was for 55-60. I got a nice payday today and am grateful for it, but the venue didn’t get rich. My show was hot, my business - not.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Almost Accident

Tuesday May 11th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

I’ve had a healthy helping of spectacular car crashes in my life, and today I just missed another by a margin so close I still can‘t believe it. If that wasn‘t a miracle, I don‘t know what is. I thought for sure I was going to die and I had to pull over to let my heart recover.

My bank is located on Highway 132 in Lindenhurst, IL or maybe Lake Villa. I know it’s one of the two, but I’m not exactly sure where the border is. It’s next to a strip mall where a lot of people heading east make left turns to get to the stores there. It’s often a hassle for people who want to go straight and they dart around the turning cars. It’s very dangerous.

There are a lot of minivans and cell phone blabbers in the area and I’ve seen a lot of bad driving on that particular stretch. The speed limit is posted 35, but very few come close to obeying it, even though there’s a police station just a few blocks down the road on 132.

It isn’t an uncommon occurrence to come out of the bank and observe a fresh car wreck in the process of being cleaned up off the road. People can’t seem to handle the left turns in combination with the cell phones, texts and whatever else they’re doing while driving.

I stopped at the bank today and was thinking about a million and seven other things as I drove east on 132, trying to catch up with the flow of traffic. I’d glanced away for a half a second and looked back to see there’d been a chain reaction wreck when a minivan turned right to avoid someone turning left. It blocked the whole road and I stomped on my brake.

I had a split second to decide whether to slam into the car that slammed into the van, or opt for door number two and take my chances by swerving into the oncoming lane to miss it but possibly get hit by oncoming traffic, which I was unable to see because it was being blocked by a pickup truck that had also managed to get into the wreck. It was a big mess.

I chose to take my chances and swerved to the left, not knowing what was there. That’s similar to what I did last December on an icy road up in Wisconsin and an oncoming car hit me square in the hinder at about 60mph. That wasn’t pleasant, and I hoped it wouldn’t happen again today. It’s funny how time slows down, and I was coherent through it all.

My swerve was successful, but there was traffic coming the other way and I had to gun it past the accident and then over into my lane again. I narrowly escaped getting hit and it made my heart jump up into my throat because it all happened so fast. I just missed being a big part of the festivities and that’s the last thing I need right now. I caught a big break.

I’m not going to try and analyze anything, but this was really a close call. If there was a car coming closer in that oncoming lane, I’d have hit it head on, probably about 45 miles an hour. All kinds of unpleasant possibilities could have happened, but today I dodged it.

The funny thing is, I just had my oil changed yesterday and filled up with gas. I’d have lost that money too. It’s happened before. Often. Maybe my luck is changing for the good.

Vibe And Charisma

Monday May 10th, 2010 - Barrington, IL

I’ve really been thinking a lot about inner vibe lately. I’m only just now starting to grasp in my head how vital it is to all of our lives. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know it’s real. What was that inner feeling I had yesterday to go to the casino and win money?

Where did it come from? Was it a guardian angel? A ‘spirit guide‘? Was it all just a big coincidence? I don’t feel it was that at all, but I don’t have the exact source pinpointed yet either. My guess is it’s something we can all access, but not everyone discovers the way.

We all have good days and bad days, and I know the moon and tides and that cycle have an influence on how we all feel and what kind of energy flows from us. It’s real, and I can feel it more than I ever have. People radiate energy, and I’ve always been able to sense it.

One of the reasons I’m such a major fan of George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic is that George has amazing charisma, unlike most anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ve been able to catch them live countless times, and although I love the music the true electric moment of the whole show is when George makes his entrance. It’s an experience I never get sick of.

The band is playing, and there are lots of musicians on stage. They get the crowd going for maybe 30-45 minutes or longer, and then they hit their opening song that indicates it’s time for George to come out. It’s called ‘Cosmic Slop’ and all the fans know it, but when he finally shows up it takes the audience to outer space and the whole joint pops a cork.

I don’t think just anyone could do that. If the band was playing and the crowd was in an unbelievable groove and everything was firing on all cylinders, and my grandma came out there instead of George Clinton, the whole thing would be ruined. George has a look with his distinctive hairstyle and clothing choices, but it’s more than that. It’s his inner energy.

My question is, can it be developed like a physical muscle? I’ve felt my own inner vibe evolve, and it’s been in a good way. I don’t know if that comes with age or if I’ve made a conscious effort, which in my mind I think I have. I want to learn to control this energy.

I’ve been doing little tests lately to see what works. For example, I made a list of twelve women I’ve known in the past that I really found attractive. I looked at the list, and put in my head a conscious vibe to re-attract them into my life again and see if I still found them attractive, and if there’d be a possibility of connecting. Sure enough, they’re coming back.

I had dinner with one of them tonight. I hadn’t seen her in several years, and she teaches developmentally disabled children. She’s sharp and funny and still looks great. She’s still all the things I remember, and we had a fantastic time catching up. Time flew like a bird.

The only downer…she was divorced and is now remarried. Ugh. Very disappointing in one way, but in another very encouraging. The point was to reconnect, and we totally did.
I hadn’t seen her in years, but I put the vibe out there and we reconnected. It’s like magic.

A Psychic Nibble

Sunday May 9th, 2010 - Battle Creek, MI

Supposedly everyone has psychic ability of some sort. The only one I’ll lay claim to is a tiny inner voice that speaks to me once in a while. It’s not audible, but I do feel it inside at various times. I don’t claim it to be anything other than an inner urge, but I really feel it.

Many times it’s come to me when I’m watching sports, which I’ve been known to do on a regular basis my whole life. I’ll be watching a game or match, and feel when a big event is about to occur, then blurt it out. I’ve called knockouts in fights two seconds before they happen, to the surprise of everyone - including myself. I have no clue why this happens.

I’ve called home runs in baseball and touchdowns or interceptions in football, and I just get this feeling inside. I know when it’s there, and I immediately say it out loud. I’ve been able to nail it on several occasions, and it’s stunned a room more than once. It stuns me as well, as I have no idea where this comes from or how I can control it. It’s all very random.

I had another example of it today. Last night I had a gig in Coldwater, MI. It was farther than I thought or I probably would’ve driven back, so I stayed the night. On the way home I passed a new casino in Battle Creek that was built just recently, and the voice told me to stop and win some money. I’m not a big gambler at all, but I’ve never had the voice fail.

The place was jammed to the rafters, and I had a hard time even finding a parking space in the lot. I did get one, then I went inside and had a hard time finding a machine. I like to play slots, even though there’s no real skill involved. I found ONE machine open, so I sat down and pulled out a $20 bill. At first the machine wouldn’t take it. Eventually it did.

I played the $20 down to zero, and was going to leave. I saw an ATM and withdrew $40 and went back to my machine, which was now being played by someone else. I saw a new one open up, so I sat down and started playing that one. My $40 was just about gone but I still had the feeling I was going to win something. I wish I knew how I could sense this.

Two or three pulls later, I won a small jackpot to give me a few more pulls. That started it, and I just kept hitting. I again made the dumb mistake of playing less than full capacity of coins and that cost me about three times. Still, I ended up walking out with a nice little jackpot total of $170 for my troubles. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten such a strong message.

That’s not a million dollars and I’m not going to retire on it, but for a non gambler it’s a pleasant surprise gift from the cosmos. I’m not taking any special meaning into it but I am grateful for it. It helped make the trip worthwhile, and at this point I’ll take what I can get.

I have to believe all of us has a version of that little inner voice inside, but how or what can we do to get control of it? I can’t control mine at all, but when it’s there I know it and this was an example of it. I didn’t know the universe dealt in increments of $170, but I’m not complaining. I’m hoping to find the way to lure the big catch. I got the appetizer, now it’s time for the main course. Are you listening, inner voice? Keep these vibes coming.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meeting Dusty Rhodes

Saturday May 8th, 2010 - St. Charles, IL

I’ve never hidden my deep affinity for old school professional wrestling. I loved it as a kid, and when I found out it was all predetermined I loved it even more. It was a fantastic show, and the more I got into performing myself the more I realized just how charismatic those guys really were. They built personas and used them to sell tickets to kids like me.

Over the years I’ve gotten to meet quite a few of my childhood pro wrestling heroes and the thrill never goes away. From Nick Bockwinkel to The Crusher to Baron Von Raschke to Ric Flair to ’Luscious Johnny’ and ’Handsome Jimmy’ Valiant, I admire them all still.

The only one who was in a salty mood when I met him was Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan. He was one of my all time faves, and to catch him on an off day was unfortunate. I got to shake his hand, but that’s about it. I’d heard he had surgery for throat cancer, and I didn’t want to give the guy any trouble. He’s suffered enough. I still think he’s an all time great.

Today I got the chance to not only meet ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes but have a pizza lunch with him at an appearance in St. Charles, IL at a Holiday Inn Express. I paid $50 for the chance and it was worth every penny. I heard about it on Facebook and signed up immediately. The date ended up getting moved to today, but I was still able to attend.

The lady who put it on is named Heather Klinger, and she delivered everything she said she would do. I was totally impressed at the way everything was handled, and it was a fun event all around. Her website is and I hope she keeps doing this. I know it’s difficult to coordinate something like this but it came off without a hitch.

Dusty Rhodes is right up there with the most charismatic wrestlers there ever was. He’s got the gift of gab and really uses it well. He was one of the best interviews of all time for his entire career, even though he never had the huge chiseled physique of a Hulk Hogan.

He was a regular Joe, and that was his gimmick. I remember him as a bad guy when he started, and he was known as ‘Dirty’ Dusty Rhodes. He was tag team partners with fellow Texan Dick Murdoch and they wrestled as ‘The Texas Outlaws’. Years later Sam Kinison borrowed that name in comedy for his band of traveling comedy friends. It fit both times.

Eventually Dusty became so popular he had to become a good guy. He put butts in seats and that’s what entertainment is all about. He did it again today, as probably sixty or more people paid $50 to meet him and get an autograph or photo. Afterward we were lead to an area where they brought out pizzas, and Dusty proceeded to hold court with the audience.

He was very entertaining and had some great stories. He took questions from those who had any, and the people in attendance were very respectful and asked good ones. It was an outstanding event from top to bottom, and I’m glad I did it. I got a chance to give him my CD and he said he’d listen to it. Whether he does or not, it was a very pleasant experience because he knew how to work the room. Everyone in attendance was a satisfied customer.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Loose Changing

Friday May 7th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

I want to be a millionaire. Period. No, a multi millionaire. Can I say that? Too bad, I am saying it. I’m saying it because I want to get the message out to the universe that I’m tired of scraping by each month and it’s time to change my financial vibe. I’m ready to be rich.

Money and all that goes with it is a skill. I know that. I’ve always known it. It’s just like learning to be a plumber or a bus driver or a sushi chef. There are a set of skills one needs to learn to make the most of one’s income that I’ve never taken time to master properly.

That’s completely my fault, and I’m putting it out there. I don’t like it and I want to turn it around right now and get myself corrected. I could offer all kinds of reasons for doing it but none of them would be excuses. I’ve treated money very loosely and it’s reciprocated.

My grandfather was my biggest life mentor as a kid, but he died when I was 18 and just out of high school. After that I was on my own, always trying to keep myself alive for one more month. I was so busy with the everyday worries I never took time to even study that there may be a big picture and I should be saving at least a little something every month.

I think we’ve all looked at what we could’ve and should’ve done in life, and sometimes it can be so painful it hurts just to remember. I remember having a few talks with Gramps about money and savings, but nothing too in depth. When I really needed it, he was gone.

I bet a lot of young people could use a financial plan, but in my experience the family or school system doesn’t provide it. We venture out into the working world blind and stupid only to mangle what little financial resources most of us do get. By the time we’ve finally learned at least a little of what it’s all about, it’s too late. I’m going down that path now.

That’s exactly the path I do NOT want to be on. If I keep doing what I’ve been doing all these years, I’ll wind up broke, broken and miserable - and there’s no reason I need any of that to be part of my life. I’m making a decision today to turn my financial mess around.

I can blame situations and circumstances, and I’ve had plenty of those. I did have a nice situation about ten years ago, and then I bought a house in Salt Lake City and it was a big long ugly toboggan ride down into the pit of financial hell and I’ve never been able to get myself out. I thought things would all work themselves out, but who was I really kidding?

There has to be some effort there, just as there needs to be with everything else. Life and money and marriage and career and anything else one can think of need to be planned out in the head, and executed from there. The whole thing starts in the brain, and that’s where I’ve been lacking. I’ve been focusing on all kinds of other things rather than my money.

Money won’t make me happy, but it sure will afford me more choices to see what does. I can also help others who are in situations like I was and continue to be. I put myself in a bad spot, so I believe I can get myself out. It might take a while, but it’s got to be worth it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sixth Grade Reunion

Thursday May 6th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

Back to Milwaukee two days in a row. It’s almost like I’m living there again. That’s not my goal, but I’d never say never. If I’m turning a good buck doing something that I would need to be there for, I’d do it. Right now I have the best of both worlds living where I am.

Tonight I had an appointment to go in front of the board of directors of German Fest for the possibility of being booked this year. Milwaukee is the City of Festivals and I happen to be at least part German, so I took the chance and went to the meeting. It was worth it.

The main reason it was worth it is I got to reunite with Robert Deglau, a classmate from the sixth grade where we both attended the Jackie Robinson Alternative Open Classroom School. Both of us only attended that one year, and we were in the same home room class together. Jackie Robinson school still exists, but it’s not at the same location we attended.

That first year it was an experiment which intrigued my grandfather. Two students were picked from each grade school in town and formed into a junior high of grades 6-8. It was like an expansion draft in sports. They needed one boy and one girl. I took an aptitude test at the Silver Spring school and got chosen along with a nice girl named Angela Patrinos.

I think they were looking for creative types, as Angela was extremely artistic as I recall. Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes was chosen to go there too, and I still remember him carrying his guitar with him and wearing sandals. I didn’t know him well but we did cross paths a few times and never had any problems. It was an interesting mix of kids for sure.

Robert and I always got along, and I knew he really liked radio, as did I. We took a field trip to WZUU and met “Larry The Legend” who was a huge personality then. We got the chance to arrange the trip all ourselves and that was the good part of the Alternative Open Classroom format. They did encourage us to find something we liked and learn about it.

Robert and I went our separate ways in life, but both of us made radio part of our lives. He now hosts a show called “Continental Showcase” which has been on the air over 50 years. My grandma was a rabid listener, and if she knew I knew the host, she’d be proud.

I knew Robert was German, but that’s not rare in Milwaukee. I didn’t know that he was so involved in the German community in town. We hadn’t seen each other since the sixth grade, then he and his wife came out to see me do a show this past March in Saukville.

Robert is a flat out technical genius. He’s been an engineer at various Milwaukee radio stations and is a broadcast lifer. He has a studio in his house that’s better than most of the stations I’ve ever worked for, and said he’d help out with any project ideas I might have.

The German Fest people were all very friendly, and I didn’t have to audition or anything like that. Robert gave them a copy of my CD and they took a vote and now I’m in for two slots this year. This would’ve made my grandma very proud. I won’t let anybody down.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Detail Disoriented

Wednesday May 5th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

Up to Milwaukee today to keep pecking at that egg shell. I have a big job ahead with all that needs to be done to get this one man show up and running from just an idea. I have a lot of details to look after, and that’s my weakest trait. If nothing else, I’ll learn something and improve along the way. Good thing I’ve given myself a few months to do all of this.

Today’s adventure started out with a big mistake. I was supposed to have lunch with my friend Tom Skibosh, former P.R. director of the Milwaukee Brewers. I wanted to go over several aspects of all this with him, and he graciously agreed to meet up to hash it all out.

For whatever reason, we got our times mixed up and I was late and missed him entirely. I don’t remember the last time that’s happened with anyone and I felt like a total stooge’s weenie. I didn’t have a cell number for him and I didn’t confirm the day before like usual.

I just assumed we’d be ok and everything would work out. Wrong. I blew a few details right there, and I’m already learning I need to improve. It’s no big deal, and Sky is a great guy and wasn’t upset at all. We’ll reschedule, and next time I’ll take care of business a lot better. I sat and ate my Chinese buffet alone and planned the rest of my day’s direction.

I had two scheduled appointments to see potential venues to perform the show. I’m not used to making appointments to do shows, so the whole process seems odd. I looked over the venues and both are small theatres that should work very well…IF people show up.

That’s one gigantic enormous humongous ‘if‘. I’ll need to put up posters, take out ads and work my list. Oops. Correction. First I’ll need to CREATE a poster, get them printed, then WRITE an ad, and BUILD a ‘list’. Then, I can think about getting the show running.

I had no delusions about any of this when I had the idea. I know it will be a ton of work, but I’m up for the challenge. Sponsorship would be great, as would publicity, but that’s a building process just like the rest of it. I have some past experience from my time spent as a pro wrestling promoter, even though that was many years ago. The process is the same.

I took that business and was able to pop it up a notch from where it always was. I put all my energy into getting publicity and creating an image for the brand and it totally worked. Again, the hard part was the details like getting the actual ring set up and then taken down after the shows. Comedy sure has a lot of advantages. All I really need is a microphone.

Who knows if these venues are right for what I’m doing, but I now have the connection with both owners and will see how it pans out. Obviously, they’d get business too so they want this to work so we can all make a buck. It’s a different dynamic than comedy clubs.

I had dinner with another friend Art Hinty. He’s promoted a few of his own shows and I know he knows the local scene these days a lot better than I do. By the time I got home it was 10pm and I’d put in a solid twelve hour day. Whoever said show business was easy?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Psychobabble TV

Tuesday May 4th, 2010 - Chicago, IL/St. Charles, IL

What a world class scatterbrain I can be. I’ve spent a lifetime losing keys, wallets and anything else that’s difficult to replace. Today it was my cell phone, which I left at Zanies last night while I was hosting the new talent showcase show. I take most things out of my pockets before I go on stage, only because I don’t want to have a lumpy crotch to stare at.

I really don’t care if people choose to stare at my crotch, and I prefer if it’s an attractive lady, but a wallet or phone in my pocket makes me uncomfortable. Usually I’ll leave it in the car, but for whatever reason I brought it with me last night. I put it in a hiding place so secret, I forgot to retrieve it after the show and got halfway home before I realized I did it.

Obviously, I couldn’t call anyone at Zanies to see if they were still there but since I live 50 miles from the club I turned around and took a chance that I might get lucky and catch the manager still there counting money or something. Nope. Not this time. I was screwed.

It’s amazing how important a cell phone becomes in 21st Century life. I was without it a total of about 14 hours and it felt like I was exiled to Alcatraz for a twenty year period of solitary confinement from civilization. I breathed a sigh of relief as I picked it up from the box office person who let me in to get it. We joked about how dependent we all are now.

I had a full mailbox full of messages to get to, even more than usual. For some reason it seemed to be even busier than usual, and I get a ton of phone calls every day from a lot of different sources. Most are either booking related or people asking me to help them with a comedy situation. Many times I just turn it off and ignore it, but I like it to be my choice.

Tonight I had a comedy class scheduled at Zanies in Pheasant Run, but it was delayed a week because Mike Preston was taping an episode of his cable TV show “Psychobabble” instead. Mike has been doing that show for several years now and he really puts his whole being into it. I know how difficult it is and he does a splendid job of keeping it together.

Mike invited me to be on as a guest since he bumped my class, and I always enjoy being in the mix with his cast of characters. Marge Tackes is his co-host and they fit perfectly as a pair. Mike used to be a social worker and is a very giving person, sometimes to a fault.

He treats everyone on the show like adults, even though it doesn’t always come back. In the times I’ve been on, he’s always let me have creative freedom and I always try to make sure I’m prepared so I add to the show. I appreciate and respect how he runs everything so I feel a responsibility to carry my load and not be a weak guest. We’ve had a lot of fun.

Tonight Mike asked me to prepare some of my “Sixty Second Soapbox” bits that I have been doing on various radio stations for years. He played a clip from me on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and I sprinkled them in between other guests. He also had Tim Walkoe on and it was a really entertaining show top to bottom. You can check out Mike’s website at Warning: this is not your typical TV talk show.