Back up to Milwaukee for business and pleasure. I’ve been up there so much in the past few weeks it’s starting to feel like I live there again. It’s also starting to feel like Chicago with all the road construction and traffic jams. That isn’t the Milwaukee that I remember.
Lots going on today. First I met with a very nice lady who is producing some television segments for PBS for the fall fund drive. I was referred to her by a gentleman who has an outstanding website about Milwaukee history called www.retromilwaukee.com. He and I have had some brief communication about teaming up on the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show.
It’s a fantastic website, and I want to cross promote as much as possible. I’ll gladly plug his excellent site with my shows, and I hope he can plug my shows in return. He gave me the lady‘s email address and we set up a meeting for early afternoon. She‘s hoping to put a segment together about the show to be run in the fall. That would make nice promo.
After that I went to visit my old friend David Rickert. David was a comedian back when the boom hit in the ‘80s, and actually was funny. He’s very smart and performed for quite a few years. I’m sure he probably could have stayed with it, but he loved fire fighting a lot more than comedy, so that’s what he chose. He’s very good at it and that was his destiny.
David has been working as a fire fighter probably as long as I’ve been a comedian. He’s an expert, one of the very best around. His life worked out very well and I’m ecstatic for a lot of reasons. He’s married to a doctor of all things and they have three textbook beauties for children, two girls and a boy. They’re unbelievably sweet kids, not at all dented cans.
David’s family are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They invited me over for all kinds of holiday meals in my early twenties and I’ll never forget it. They knew I was not a fan of the holidays but they took me in as if I was their own flesh and blood. They lived it rather than just talked about it, and all these years later their kindness shines like the sun.
We’re all super busy and I haven’t seen David in a while, and we were scheduled to see a Brewers game a while back, but I blew it and missed the day. People like him and all of his family are what make life worth living, and it was great to hang out and chat for a few hours as his son Adam wiped me out on a video bowling game. He’s four. I’m an idiot.
After that I went over to see the woman I’ve been seeing off and on for so many years it blurs together at this point. I can’t really call her my girlfriend, but that’s as close as what she is at this point. We drift in and out of contact, and she’s got a hefty stack of problems to deal with of her own. She just had surgery for a herniated intestine and is home resting.
She’s a single mom with a seven year old son, and he’s got the energy of a giant swarm of bees. I brought them Cousins submarine sandwiches for dinner so she wouldn’t have to cook, and I know she greatly appreciated it. Her eyes lit up and it was a surprise that I was in town, so it felt good to do a good deed for the day. This is what life is really all about.
There was just a good solid friendly peaceful vibe all day, and I surfed it like a wave. In a perfect world, every day would be like this but it never is. For whatever reason, I didn’t let anything or anyone get to me today but that was never an issue. Good people just kept crossing my path, and I appreciated every one of them. I tried to return the same energy.
The main reason I was in Milwaukee today was to do a ten minute opening set for The fifth annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival at 342 North Water Street. It’s an outstandingly well run event and I stumbled upon it a few years ago. My contact there is a guy named Matt Kemple who, with a few partners, are really growing themselves a very nice event.
They have a website at www.milwaukeecomedy.com and are doing sketch and improv shows the rest of the weekend. Tickets are very reasonable, and there’s a lot of talent that shows up to entertain. I like how they start off the shows with a comedian, and I felt right at home from the first two seconds I was there. I wish them all nothing but big success.
It thrills me that someone is trying to make Milwaukee into a comedy town. It sure isn’t known for that, and anyone who’s tried to perform in Milwaukee will tell you how super difficult it is to get any recognition there. Comedysportz has done alright, and they know the Milwaukee stigma. I respect that whole organization from Dick Chudnow on down.
I’m very flattered that Matt asked me to be part of the festival, and I had a great time for my ten minute set. That space has housed a few of John McGivern’s one person shows in the past and I could definitely see myself doing a few ‘Schiltz Happened!’ performances.
I was out early enough that I still had some time to do something else, and I noticed that the Joan Rivers documentary “A Piece Of Work” was playing at the Downer Theatre. I’ve been meaning to see it for a while, but haven’t had time. I’d heard it was very well done.
I don’t know what to think of Joan Rivers. Part of me respects her work ethic, which is right up there with just about anyone I’ve ever seen, but another part of me is very turned off by her obnoxious personality. She seems very mean spirited, and that‘s hard to watch.
She’s obviously a dented can, but I don’t know why. She’s had a lot of success, but that doesn’t seem to have come close to satisfying her. It seems that nothing will. I was almost sad for her watching the film and seeing her deal with a lot of the same hassles that I do.
One scene that really hit home was her getting heckled at a casino gig in the far north of Wisconsin of all places, a place I’ve actually worked myself. Some goof didn’t like a joke she did and it was go time. She took charge and handled it, but it brought back a flood of memories of my own dealings with halfwits like that. I guess fame doesn’t prevent it.
Whatever dents Joan Rivers has in her can seem to be a lot deeper than mine. I love the process of creating comedy and hearing the laughs, but she’s obsessed with it to the point of never being able to enjoy it. I hope I never get to that point. I had fun at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, and the whole day was really enjoyable. Fame will never replace that.