Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Tax And Attacks

Tuesday September 28th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   This old dung beetle continues to plug along. I’m pushing my symbolic little ball of poo across the desert of life, trying not to attract the attention of the lizards that want to eat me for lunch. I don’t think I’m better than anybody. All I want is to live a life of quiet peace.

   I have a little more peace knowing I’ve finally got my tax situation current for one more year. It was an issue, but it’s fixed - at least for now. I went to my accountant’s office and signed my completed tax return for 2009. I’m still ahead of the extension deadline date by over two full weeks, but that’s not what I want to keep doing every year. Enough already.

   I’m trying my best to overcome my annoying tendency to let it go until the absolute last minute every year. This isn’t the first time I’ve waited this long, and there’s no legitimate reason other than I’m lazy and find a way to put it off. I owe a state tax of $55, and have a federal surplus which will be applied to next year’s taxes. I’ll need it for my ship income.

   I know in my heart I didn’t cheat, and I did my very best to keep receipts, mileage, and all the other stuff that has nothing at all to do with comedy. Every self employed person is in the same situation, and not everyone is a whiz when it comes to this stuff. Personally, it isn’t something I enjoy, but I’m getting better at it only because I have to. It’s a necessity.

   I really don’t want issues with anyone. I know I’ve had more than my share of conflicts in life, and I wish I could have avoided all of them. Yes, I stand up for myself when I feel I have to, but it’s never fun to lock horns with anyone. It’s a waste of time in my opinion.

   Bert Haas from Zanies emailed me today and told me the guy who got in my face a few weeks ago about how he was going to light up the comedy world didn’t show up on time and didn’t get to go up last night. I laughed when I read it, because it’s so typical. He has some blog too, that slams me up and down apparently. I haven’t even tried to look for it.

     I’ve had some people inform me of it, and I just laughed about that too. I’m not close to being that important, and I’ve got my own life to worry about. I’m not pissed at that guy, even though he did jump right in my face that night. It did take me by surprise, and I very much regret how quickly I jumped back at him and how I did it, but what I said was right.

   This life is HARD, and we all need to respect that fact. Comedy is harder, but he didn’t see that at the time. Hopefully this will teach him a lesson, and there doesn’t need to be a war of words. It takes two people to make a fight, and I’m just not interested. He’s on his own. If the guy wants to keep slamming me in a blog, so be it. I have other things to do.

    I’m making slow but steady progress on most of the projects I’m working on, and I will continue to work as hard as I can. I really do regret the mistakes I’ve made, but some will keep haunting me no matter how hard I try to reverse the damage. Maybe it’s part of what I’m here to learn, if indeed that’s why any of us are here. I’m learning all the time, and the more I learn the more I realize I have a lot more to learn after that. Mouth shut. Onward.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Crusty Bread And Circuses

Monday September 27th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   I can see Dr. Smith from the TV show Lost In Space in my head so vividly it scares me. He’s moaning his inimitable classic line of lament, “Ohhh, the pain….the PAINNNNN.” And I feel it right along with him. The Green Bay Packers lost to the Chicago Bears, and life on this planet is not appealing at this time. It shouldn’t affect me, but it totally does.

   I’ve been through this time after time, and I know how downright stupid it is to let some stupid sporting event control how I feel, but it is. That all powerful ‘us vs. them’ gene we all have to some degree in some area of life is firing on all cylinders. ‘We’ got spanked by ‘them’, and it hurts. It’s not so much the fact that defeat happened, it was the way it did.

   The Packers played a horrible game. Period. They were penalized left and right and for a minute there I was expecting someone to get a penalty for early withdrawal. Every other kind was called, and the frustration of it all was too much to bear. I turned it off and went home to get some work done. I turned all media off and sat around stewing in my angst.

   Why does this bother me so much? It really does. I guess it’s the control freak inside me that gets irritated that the team doesn’t give a solid effort. If that happened and they lost, I would be able to handle it with no problem. Some teams are better than others talent wise and that’s just how it is. If the Bears outplayed the Packers and won, I could accept that.

   Giving a game away to a half assed ragamuffin band of mediocre at best gypsies was an absolute travesty. I didn’t see any fire or effort there, and I knew it was a total waste to sit and watch it happen. At least I got some work done, and tried to ignore the whole thing.

  That’s when it really gets tough to disappear. Good natured ribbing is one thing, and not every Bears fan is a dingle berry, but I have to say an overwhelming proportion of them in my world at least are. They call and taunt and not even in a funny way, and I’m not ready to play nice when that happens. Don’t poke the tiger, and if you do expect to get mauled.

   It’s a football game, and a relatively meaningless one at that. It’s early in the season and although this may come back to haunt the Packers late in the year, chances are it won’t be an issue. The Bears aren’t that good, and I predict they’re going to start losing soon and at a breakneck pace. They always do. They’re 3-0 now, but I see them starting to sink soon.

  But why do I care so much? I really wish I didn’t. But I do. I never smoked even a single cigarette in my life, or pipe, or cigar. Drugs and alcohol have never touched my lips, and I should be happy I dodged a major bullet in life. Most people at least dabble at some point with some substance, but not me. I’ve never had a hangover, because I never had a drink.

   So why am I so addicted to sports, especially the damn Green Bay Packers? I don’t have any idea, but I know that losing to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night while they wear a throwback jersey that made them look even uglier than their regular putrid uniforms do is no picnic. Does anyone in Brazil, China or Africa care even a little? No, but this still rots.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slept Away

Sunday September 26th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, so that’s what I did. I slept in, got up for a short while, then went right back to bed. I’ve been hitting it hard lately, and needed a day to lay around and do absolutely zilch. I didn’t watch any football, nothing. I slept the day away.

   I usually feel like I’ve wasted something when I do that, but today it felt good. I haven’t been exercising or eating particularly well or drinking enough water lately and I can feel it in my lack of endurance. I used to be able to plow through anything, now I feel exhausted.

   I was supposed to do a phone bit for my friend Steve Purcell’s internet radio show, but I slept right through the call. I never do that, but today I didn’t hear it ring. I felt bad when I woke up and discovered he’d called, but it was too late by then. I guess I needed the rest.

   When I did finally crawl out of the rack, I noticed my desk is piling up with paperwork. It seems like I just cleaned it up the last time. I need to write some checks, pay some bills, just keep things current. That stuff is getting harder and harder to maintain all the time.

   If it isn’t that, it’s laundry piling up. Or phone calls. Or emails. Or something to prepare for, like a comedy class or ‘Schlitz Happened!’ I’m a one man band trying to play a major symphony by myself, and I feel like I’m lost in the middle of a song. I’m overwhelmed.

   I’ve felt this way before, and I don’t enjoy it. It takes the fun out of all the things I have going, but what else can I do but try to keep plugging? I’m too far into everything to drop things off my schedule, but it sure would be nice to take a week or two off and just relax. That’s not an option right now though, and I have to find a way to make everything work.

   It’s a giant puzzle, and every day gets more complex. I plan on working on something I like, but then something else comes out of the blue and wipes it out and delays what I had going. It’s a momentum killer and puts me behind schedule. Then, I let my schedule lapse a bit or work on something else and before I know it everything is behind. It’s frustrating.

   I think the key is finding partnerships with everything I’m doing. Having others depend on me will make more deadlines, and that will in turn get more things done on my end as they’ll be depending on me rather than me just drifting between these projects randomly.

   This week it’s about focusing on the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show at the Schauer Center in Hartford. I’ll be ready when the lights go up, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I have a lot of things to complete if it’s going to be an ongoing event, which I really think it can be for a long time. Thousands of people will enjoy this show, and I want everyone to see it.

   That will require finding a venue to do it on a consistent basis, creating a marketing and advertising plan to promote it, coming up with merchandise to sell and keeping the show itself up to the quality standard I set for myself, which is extremely high. That’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. I’ve had my day of sleep, now back to work.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Saturday, September 25, 2010

From Slots To Brats

Saturday September 25th, 2010 - Las Vegas, NV/Milwaukee, WI

   Las Vegas definitely has a short shelf life. For a few days it’s great fun, then it’s time to go home. I find New York to be that way too. Both places definitely have an energy, but it can wear a person down in a hurry. If I was a partier, I’d probably be in rehab right now.

    Actually, I’m pretty boring for the most part. I keep to myself and just try to stay out of everyone’s way. I like to hang out with good people, but I don’t need to be pissy drunk or tooted up on cocaine to do that. Some people do, but that’s never been my style. Maybe if I did I’d be farther along in the business, but if that’s what it takes I’m glad I didn’t do it.

   There was no shortage of quality people to hang with here this week. Joe Lowers put on a fantastic event, and everyone here agrees. He and his wife Cindy risked everything they had to move out here from Pittsburgh and start this comedy room, and they’ve been really super to deal with. I sure hope they at least broke even, and also that they try this again.

   The opportunity to network with this many comedy people in one place at one time just doesn’t exist very often so it made it worth everyone’s while to come out here. I managed to even procure a few bookings myself, and that’s gravy at this point. I’m glad I came out.

   I missed the actual finals of the contest because it happened as I was on the plane flying back to Milwaukee to pick up my car. That’s where my mind is going to be for at least the immediate future, as I have several performances of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ coming up soon.

   I’m ready as far as the show itself goes. This will always be a work in progress, but I am ready to pull off solid shows at both the Schauer Center in Hartford next Friday October 1 and in Saukville at the Railroad Station on Friday October 9th. In between I’ve been asked to do a TV taping in a small venue called Sherman Perks, somewhere on the north side.

   That show will be on October 6th, and I can designate tickets for those who might enjoy sitting in on a TV taping. It will be low pressure and fun, and if you want to attend please let me know and I’ll gladly put you on the tickets list. It will be a very intimate setting.

   I fully intend to create a brand with this show, even though it’s somewhat limited in it’s scope. It’s a show about growing up in Milwaukee in the 60s and 70s, with a few older or newer references thrown in depending on who’s in attendance. That’s it. It’s not anything groundbreaking or earth shattering, but I know it will be entertaining for those who get it.

   I’ve been super busy with everything else I’ve been doing, and I’m way behind where I thought I’d be as far as marketing and preparation. I don’t have any of the products I was hoping to have for sale like t-shirts, DVDs or a book of essays about Milwaukee things.

   All that will come in due time. This is a fun project that’s come out of nowhere and has a bright future. I can feel it. I’ll be on TV and radio next week promoting it and the shows are what I’ll focus on for now. I’m ready to go. Good bye, Las Vegas. Hello Milwaukee!

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Still Working It All Out

Friday September 24th, 2010 - Las Vegas, NV

Had a bit of a detour today, but I’m not upset. This was supposed to be the ultimate day for networking, the highlight of the entire trip. There’s a meeting place at Hooters here in town for all working comedians who want to gather and it’s called “The Fryer’s Club”.

That’s a clever takeoff on the legendary Friar’s Club in New York, where comedians of past generations used to gather. I’ve heard about the tradition in Las Vegas and was going to attend with some comedian friends, but just as I was about to leave I got a call from my friend Dan Still informing me he’d just lost his day job and his life was in a major funk.

I’ve known Dan for twenty years, and there are few with a heart as big as his. He’s from Milwaukee, and decided to come out and test the waters of the contest in Las Vegas. I had no idea he’d be coming out here, and was glad to see him when he showed up Tuesday.

Dan tries harder than just about anyone I’ve ever met. He’s sincere, trustworthy, loyal to a fault and has a work ethic of a coked up mule. That guy will show up and keep plugging and slugging until the job is done - whatever it may be. He knows computers, machinery, auto and home repair and just about anything else you can think of. The guy is brilliant.

He’s similar to me in that he has a tendency to put people off at first, but after a while a person can’t help liking him. He’s kind and generous and I’ve always thought he was way underappreciated in the comedy world. He does second and third rate gigs because he has poor business and salesmanship skills, as do a lot of talented people. He deserves better.

He can do several celebrity voices dead on, and he always gives everything he’s got in a live show. I think the world of the guy and always have, and it pained me to see him in as much pain as he was. His wife has had some health issues and he needs a job to help get a handle on them. All he wants is a fair chance to work for a living wage to pay his bills.

Apparently his new employer didn’t agree, and now he’s out on his ass. What’s worse is Dan happened to lose an eye during his high school years. It’s funny to make jokes about stuff like that until someone really has to deal with it. Dan has been dealing with it for all the years I’ve known him, and I’ve never ONCE heard the guy complain. He’s a trooper.

What I do see is a guy who helps anyone and everyone, is honest as the day is long, and gets as little in return as anyone I’ve ever seen. I thought I was Mr. Lucky, but Dan has an life obstacle I hope I never have to experience. My respect for him is deep and sincere. He knows what pain and suffering are all about. My little life woes pale in comparison to his.

When a guy like that calls all bummed out, a schmoozing session can wait - even if it’s in Las Vegas with bigwigs. They can keep their wigs on another night and hopefully they can meet me another time. To me, sitting with a friend in need is much more important. I do have a heart, and know what it’s like to suffer myself. Dan was grateful I came, and it felt good to be there when a guy needed someone to talk to. Kindness is a noble pursuit.

To me, showing kindness is the only true pursuit that’s worthwhile in all of life. All else pales in comparison, and I’m ashamed of myself for failing as often as I have. I’d think by now I’d have things figured out, but I still blow all too often and that sure is frustrating.

An act of kindness shown to someone lasts forever. Dan was really bummed out tonight but he told me of things I allegedly did and said twenty years ago that he still remembers, and thanked me all over again. Quite honestly, I didn’t remember but Dan certainly did.

Dan is a kind soul himself and has helped me on many occasions over the years. I have a lot of kind souls in my circle like my cousin Brett and my friend Tim Marszalkowski in Michigan and a whole lot more that if I took time to list would look like a phone book.

These are the people that make me keep the gun out of my mouth every day. Hopefully I have shown enough kindness back to have earned my keep in my little time here on this ugly mean spirited planet full of hate and stupidity. Unfortunately, I’ve thrown my share of that around too, and I deeply regret it. That’s not what I’m about, but some think I am.

I know there are more than a few that think I’m a flaming ass pustule. I try to be good to all I cross paths with, but sometimes clashes occur. I’m not perfect, and not claiming that I am, but I really regret when things go sour with people. That’s why when things get off course, I prefer to just amputate the relationship rather than continue firing live ammo.

Maybe it’s right and maybe it’s wrong, but I’m still learning. Ultimately, I never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but sometimes they’re just too damn stupid to realize that and I go off on a tangent. That doesn’t make anything right, and I need to learn to curtail that.

This kind of stuff is way deeper than the shallowness of show business. I’d rather be an upstanding human being who shows kindness than a shallow wank with only money and material things. I’m starting to see what’s really important in life and it’s not anything any store sells. It comes from within, and I’m just now getting in touch with that inner power.

Some people I’m never going to reach, at least not in this life plane. My siblings are out of touch and probably out of reach for good, as are Bob and Tom. I’ve really tried to offer sincere apologies to all those people, but they’re not up for taking it. Now I can’t do much more and the ball is way out of my court. If they hate me, so be it. I’m not out of friends.

I’ve got a lot of people I really like and respect that I got to hang with this week. Two of them were Brian McKim and Traci Skene from Shecky Magazine. It’s an online comedy magazine and they’re very good at it. I like Brian and Traci very much and we got to hang out and visit for a while this week. I also saw quite a few comics I hadn’t seen in a while.

The more I plug along in my life, the more I realize I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was. I have a thick list of friends, I work doing what I love and have for my entire adult life. I came to Vegas to network and schmooze, but it turns out I hung out with someone from all the way back in Milwaukee. That’s ok. It’s always good to show some kindness.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sin City Symposium

Thursday September 23rd, 2010 - Las Vegas, NV

   This is turning out to be a very fun event. I’m not sure if I’ll get anything out of it other than hanging with good people, but that’s enough for me. At least I’ve been able to renew some old contacts and meet some new friends. My seminar went over pretty well from all accounts, and I’ve had comic after comic approach to tell me they’d learned something.

   That’s the whole idea. We all keep learning, but I’ve made the biggest mistakes and the smart people on the way up won’t have to make those all over again. I tried to be soak up as much knowledge as I could on my way up the ranks, but there weren’t people handing out advice to my generation of comics like I’m able to do. Times are very different now.

   The whole comedy business has changed, because the world around it changed. Human nature stays the same, and those are the points that I try to stress in my presentations. I did one in Chicago with Bubba Muski earlier this month at Pressure Café and this one was an offshoot of that. I gave some unvarnished opinions and focused on topics few others do.

   No matter how much any circumstances might change, the fact that it takes a lot of old fashioned hard work to succeed even a little is an absolute constant. Hard work combined with creative vision and a little luck thrown in there are what will ultimately define all of us as performers. These people need to know that, and hopefully I can paint the picture.

   Most of the booking agents have been pretty approachable. They held a meet and greet in a big room and we all got to shake hands, kiss babies and hand out business cards. It’s very intimidating for a new comic to be in a room with all those bookers, and I remember when I was intimidated by it too. It takes a while to realize that they’re all just people too.

   I renewed a few relationships with those I knew, and met a few others for the first time face to face that I’d worked for over the years. There was one that I wouldn’t approach, as I could see we were not going to hit it off. I had wanted to make some kind of peace with him, as I’d worked for his father for twenty years. He took over and started firing people.

   Do I need him for survival? No, but it would be nice to have that work. It’s in my home region and in places I do extremely well. A smart person would know that and beg quality people to work their circuit, but nobody ever accused any of them of being smart. They’re in it for themselves, and treat the comics like disposable diapers. I won’t put up with that.

   I turned the other way and avoided a confrontation. I could have gotten in his face, as he was part of the ugliness of the Giggles bounced check situation in Milwaukee, and I never did get my bounced check fees returned, but he’s not worth my time. He’ll run the whole business into the ground soon enough, and that’ll be it. He’s already started to mangle it.

   I’ll outlast him, just as I have so many other imbeciles in the business. Wasting time on clueless halfwits has been a major source of my conflict over the years, and when I don’t listen to them and do my own thing it usually goes quite well. That’s the best solution.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Las Vegas Lowdown

Wednesday September 22nd, 2010 - Las Vegas, NV

   I love Las Vegas. In a perfect world, I’d have lived here at least for a while by now and laid down some kind of networking base to return to often. I wish I had more connections out here, but I totally don’t. Other than a few showcases over the years, I’ve never had an opportunity to work out here and that’s too bad. I think Mr. Lucky would be a perfect fit.

   Whatever comedy boom there was out here appears to be over. I heard the club scene is brutal, and apparently the Riviera is closing their comedy club that’s been open for years. I did a showcase there years ago for Steve Schirripa, who later went on to an acting career in The Sopranos. He used to run the club and I got in through my friend George Miller.

   I passed my audition but I thought Steve Schirripa was a maniac and never called to get any bookings. He’s a huge guy and can be intimidating, and I didn’t want to deal with any of that at the time. In hindsight, I should have gotten hired and taken my chances. I didn’t need the work then, and was getting hired all I wanted. Those days are gone for everyone.

   I still get hired in enough places to keep me alive, but it wouldn’t have hurt to lay down a few comedy roots here, as it’s an entertainment town. No - it’s THE entertainment town in all the world. Why would I want to know people here? I doubt if that could help any.

   This is yet another in my laundry list of stupid mistakes, but it’s too late now. I did what I did, and that’s it. I have connections in places like Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh. I don’t mind working in those places, but it would be a lot sexier to have yearly stops in Vegas to flesh out my booking schedule. I never thought to develop that until it was way too late.

   Still, I enjoy coming out here and hope to hook on somewhere at some point so I’d have a reason to come out more often. I could totally see a billboard with ‘Mr. Lucky at Wynn’ next to Cher or Wayne Newton. George Wallace seems to be the new king of comedy out here, and good for him for claiming the title. He’s charismatic, funny and can pull it off.

   I really think I could fit in well too though. I’d love a situation where I could set up my own space and stay out here for a while. I heard George Wallace has a deal to keep him in town for multiple years, and that’s great. That would be the ultimate super dream gig in a perfect world, and maybe the ship gigs are training me for it. Those audiences are similar.

   I’m just going to enjoy my time here this week and not worry about anything else. I had a fantastic dinner with my friend Dan O’Bryan, a former comedy student who now lives a few miles north of town. He’s also a former radio guy with a set of deep booming pipes to prove it. Like me and everyone else, he got sick of the insanity of radio and left the game.

   Dan is one of the reasons I keep teaching comedy classes. People like him and so many others have crossed my path in life and made it a lot richer. He’s always been supportive and still is, and it was great to sit back and hang out for a while. He totally gets the plight of any entertainer, as he’s one too. I’m grateful for good friends and time to enjoy them.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

The World Series Of Comedy

Tuesday September 21st, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI/Las Vegas, NV

I’m in Las Vegas this week for an event called The World Series Of Comedy. It’s a big contest for up and coming comics from all over to win about thirty weeks of paid work at various clubs around the country. There will be all kinds of bookers here to help judge the contest and it‘s a fantastic opportunity to get to interact with them away from their office.

Many times a booker won’t answer a call or email for any number of reasons, one of the biggest being they don’t know who the person is that’s asking them for work. Events like this can really open doors, and even though it’s designed for feature acts, I volunteered to hold a comedy workshop just to be a part of it. I think it’s good business to be part of this.

The guy putting it on is a comedian named Joe Lowers. He’s originally from Pittsburgh, but moved out here and started his own comedy room in a resort called Alexis Park, just a short ways off the strip across from The Hard Rock Café. It’s a gorgeous venue, and it’s a perfect place to do what he’s doing. He offered me a chance to teach and I gladly took it.

These kind of events are really good, especially for a social retard like me. It’s a chance to mix and mingle and make contacts with people that can last for years. I’m just not that much of a social butterfly, but these kinds of events make it easy to hang out without any pressure. Everyone’s usually laid back and approachable, and even I feel comfortable.

Judy Carter used to do an event at a resort in Palm Springs, CA that I attended several times at my own expense. Comedians made fun of me for doing it, and I probably could have taught most of the workshops I attended, but it was a chance to schmooze and meet a boatload of nice people, many of which I’m still in contact with today. It was worth it.

I can already tell this trip was worth it. I wondered a little on the flight in, as I came in on Southwest Airlines from Milwaukee. Normally I love Southwest, but today’s mix of passengers were all about 400 lbs. or more, and they kept getting up to use the bathroom and it seemed like every time I looked up there was a buffalo sized butt cheek in my face.

When I landed, Joe had promised someone would pick me up at the airport, but at that particular time, he didn’t have anyone available so I had to wait about a half hour in the blazing heat in a long line to get a cab. I landed at 11:15 and my seminar was scheduled to begin at 1pm. I didn’t get to the hotel until about 12:30 and it was a little bit stressful.

I ended up making it to the venue on time, and was joined by Cyndi Nelson from Zanies in Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. She’s out here as a judge and is a sweetheart of a person so I knew I’d be ok. I met Joe and he showed me the club where the seminar was scheduled and there were three people sitting there. I thought I’d drawn the big goose egg.

By 1pm there was a full house, and it was a total blast. Cyndi was there and added on to things I said, and the comics who attended asked excellent questions. Now my ‘work’ is over, and I can hang out and press the flesh. These will be seeds for my comedy future.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Brakes And Breaks

Monday September 20th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

   There’s nothing quite like that sickening metal on metal grinding noise that signals it’s time to get a brake job. There’s no way around it, and I knew that as soon as I stepped on my pedal yesterday after filling up with gas on my way home from Detroit. It’s a hideous sound I’ve heard all too often, and it’s never cheap to hire someone to make it go away.

   I go through so many cars, I thought I’d replaced the brakes on this one. I guess not. It’s all a blur after a while, and after thinking about it I realized it was my last rot rod, the one that got rear ended at 60 miles an hour. The car is shredded, but it has a new set of brakes.

   Too bad for me. I guess I get left holding the bag again. All used cars are time bombs, it boils down to the ability to get rid of them before the timer goes off. I almost pulled it off this time, but now I’ve got to keep it a while to make it really pay off. It’s all a gamble.

   This particular auction mobile has been great. I stuck minimal money into it and driven all over the place. Since the first of the year I’ve put 32,000 miles on it and was hoping to make it to the end of the year and rerun it through the auction. I put two tires on it and had some welding done on the exhaust. I also had it tuned up, but other than that it’s a cherry.

   No, wait a minute. I did have some front end work done from a friend of Jim McHugh’s and that cost $500. That’s how the cost of a cheap car can skyrocket and end up turning a perceived  bargain into a money sucking lemon. Maybe it would be better off to invest in a better car, but my credit has been shot for years and this is how I’ve chosen to survive.

   Still, it has over 200,000 miles on it and it’s just common sense that sooner or later I’m going to have to get something fixed. Today was sooner than I expected, but I took a risk and had the brakes replaces all around. The mechanic looked at the whole car and said he thought it would last indefinitely, and it would be a good investment so I rolled the dice.

   I’ve got ship work coming up and that will be great for making the car last, as I’ll not be using it at all. It doesn’t look that great, but it runs quietly and has a good stereo. That’s a big deal with me, and it meets my needs. I just don’t want to have a car payment hovering over my head every month. I’ll save up my money from the ship and pay cash for a car.

   I was up in Milwaukee because I had an appointment with my old friend Robert Deglau to help me piece together local radio and TV jingles and commercials for the background music at the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show. He’s a production master, and I knew he’d be the right man for the job. He dug deep and got a list of some great stuff that blew me away.

   He barbecued some chicken and burgers and we went into his studio and it took me way back to my childhood in about two minutes. He loved doing the project, and I’m thankful we hooked up again after 35 years. He said it was for a reason, and I think he’s right. He’s very talented in production of audio and video, and I can see him being a vital part of the show as it develops. I’ll take the brake job hit because working with Robert will pay off.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Entertainment Anarchy

Sunday September 19th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   This was a really fun week, and I manufactured it myself. I made it happen by piecing it together from scratch, and that’s what has to be done more now than ever before. Comedy used to be a lot more regimented and run by the booking agents. Now it’s all up in the air, everyone for him or herself. There are no rules, and comedians need even more acumen.

   I’d say it’s a stone’s throw from complete anarchy, but maybe that’s already here. There aren’t any regulations, and anyone can book a show anywhere they want. This week was a perfect example. On Wednesday I worked in Eau Claire, WI in a dinner theatre that’s now trying comedy once a month. Not only that, the booking agent for it is out of California.

   That isn’t how it used to work. It used to be very territorial like professional wrestling a few decades ago before Vince McMahon changed all the rules. He expanded his territory and put everyone else out of business, and even though the others didn’t like it, they were not able to stop him. Now, he’s the only one left. That entire business has totally changed.

   Comedy is in the process of changing as well. In the old days, that Eau Claire gig would have been fought over by one of a handful of area booking agents out of either Wisconsin or Minneapolis. There’s also an agency out of Iowa I can think of that might have gotten a shot, but that’s about it. Now with the internet, it’s open season for anyone in the country.

   The shows I did on Thursday and Friday were booked directly between myself and Phil Anglin, the club owner. There were no booking agents involved, and he doesn’t even do a regular comedy night at his places. It’s a few times a year, and this was one of them. I had the gig on Saturday with Phil Dunham scheduled for months, so those nights added work.

   Phil Dunham approached the blues club himself, and the club wanted to try comedy. He isn’t a full time comic or booker, and the venue isn’t known for comedy. This is how it is these days. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but there sure is a lot more room for error.

   This particular week happened to go splendidly well in every location, but that isn’t the way it will always go. At least when there was a little more structure the quality was a bit more predictable. Most of the gigs had decent sound and lights and accommodations, and the pay scale was relatively set. Now, all of those things are all over the place. It’s scary.

   My pay this week was very good, and I had no trust issues with anyone because I was in the hands of outstanding people. Both Phils are honest to a fault, and the people from Eau Claire were totally professional. If every week was like this, comedy would be stress free.

   But it isn’t. There are all kinds of scumbags out there who will be rising out of the taller weeds trying to rip comedians off. I see it already happening, and the only thing I can use to stop it is my experience and list of contacts. It’s going to take more hustle than ever for all of us to stay booked every week, and that’s just how it’s going to be. Times have now officially changed, and the business part of show business is even harder to navigate.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Babblitus Interruptus

Friday September 17th, 2010 - Plainwell, MI

   I wish the punk kid I was when I started in comedy could see the act I’ve become now. I would have been blown away, and had I been required to give up a major organ or two or sell my soul to achieve it, I’d have done it without hesitation. I’ve really come a long way.

   Tonight was another kick ass show, this time at Rhino’s Pub in Plainwell, MI. This one seats a few more than last night, and we had about 100. Phil the owner said we were sold out, but that was all his hard work. He got the word out to his customers and they showed up ready to laugh. He’s developed a very nice clientele and deserves to make his money.

   Since he booked me way back when as a tester, he’s had a lot of decent comics through his places and even some bigger names like Jim Brewer and Doug Stanhope. It’s not a big crowd, but it’s a great one and Phil treats the comedians right. He puts us in a nicer hotel, which only costs a little bit more but says volumes to us as performers that he values us.

   We get a nice meal before the show if we want, and he makes sure everything’s on track so there are no unpleasant surprises. He hires out a good quality sound system and person to run it, and has proper lighting on the stage. He charges a fair cover charge of $7 and he promotes the hell out of it with his customers. They love it, he loves it, and we all win.

  Why is this so difficult to do everywhere else? I don’t know, but it is. If Phil did this full time, he’d be one of the top club owners in America. I bet he could run a club or two or a whole chain and make it really fire on all cylinders. He’s the right mix of smarts and love for the business, and it shows. We had two killer nights and it was fun to be a part of it.

   There was a little glitch, but it wasn’t Phil’s fault. There was a couple right off the stage to my right who would NOT stop talking during the show. They talked their way through the opener Tom Slovinski’s set, and it was annoying but nobody said anything. I went up and hit the crowd hard, but eventually they started doing it again about fifteen minutes in.

   I tried to be polite, and I told them they’d have to be quiet for the rest of the night. I saw that the woman had a smug look on her face like “How DARE you stop my important and meaningful babbling during your show?” Then just a few minutes later I had to address it once more. Again, she looked at me like I just stole a bite of her dessert and kept talking.

  This was a very delicate situation. It isn’t a comedy club, and even though these people’s rude behavior made it hard to continue, they could be regular customers of Phil’s so I did all I could to ignore them and keep on going. In other circumstances, I’d have attacked.

   Then, during my closing bit when I had the crowd in the palm of my hand, she started in for a third time and it totally ruined my timing. That bit is all timing, and when it works it destroys. It was working, but her babbling lost my rhythm and I couldn’t get it back. I told the audience it was her fault, and got off stage but neither one of them looked the slightest bit concerned and kept on talking. The formula continues - a few idiots ruin it for the rest.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Friday, September 17, 2010

Small Town, Big Fun

Thursday September 16th, 2010 - Richland, MI

   When it comes to a comedy domain, I’m king of the rust belt. From Buffalo to Chicago and most places in between, crowds can identify with and relate to Mr. Lucky. They know what I’m talking about, and I can go into a room of strangers and bond in a few seconds.

   That’s exactly what happened tonight at the Richland Pub in Richland, MI. There aren’t comedy shows there on a regular basis, but when there are they draw a nice crowd. There were about 75-80 people who packed the place and laughed all the way through the show.

   The place is owned by a great guy named Phil Anglin who found me years ago after I’d been on the Bob and Tom radio show. He thought I was funny and asked me to do a show at his small pub in Plainwell, MI called Rhino’s. I did, and it was a huge hit. His customer base loved it, and he went on to do many more shows there over the years. Good for him.

   He’s an entrepreneur with a heart, and treats people extremely well. Our birthdays are a day apart, so maybe that’s a Pisces thing. Either way, I’ve done shows for him in the past but not in a while. I approached him about doing some since I’m booked near Detroit this Saturday and these are good fillers. We could afford to take a chance with minimal risk.

   Tonight’s show was fantastic, and it totally paid off. I recommended Tom Slovinski for the opening spot and he did a fine job also. The whole night was a smash and I’m glad we rolled the dice. No matter what happens tomorrow night in Plainwell, we’ll turn a buck.

   I don’t take any credit for doing anything other than the show. Phil did all the hard work of promoting the show, and he deserves to make the most money. I’m thrilled with a hotel and a little gas money. It was a chance to work out, try new material and have some fun.

   Today is my comedy writing mentor Gene Perret’s daughter Linda’s birthday. Linda is a sweetheart, as are the whole Perret family. Gene was Bob Hope’s head writer for 20 years and has won three Emmy awards for his television writing. If there are more generous and caring people on this planet, I’d sure like to meet them. The Perrets are as sweet as it gets.

   That being said, Linda told me of an all too familiar unpleasant situation she’s dealing with that’s exactly like the one I’m going through. Gene has an online writing course and it’s wonderful. I’ve taken it several times, and I always learn something. He’s the king of modern day comedy writing, and goes above and beyond in taking time in his critiques.

   Still, some knob shine doesn’t think Gene knows what he’s talking about and started in with a personal attack that won’t stop. Linda told me her story and I told her mine and we both wondered why we even bother to try and help anyone. One turd always has to ruin it.

   Gene Perret doesn’t claim to know everything and neither do I. We’ve both helped a lot of people and expected little in return, yet we still get sniped at by morons who think they have something to prove. I’m glad I’m not alone in being hated, but it still isn’t called for.

   I talked about this with Phil from the club also. Phil tries very hard to please people just as I do, and he gets a face full of it too. His places are well run, immaculate, staffed with a friendly and competent crew and he said despite all that some people still piss and moan.

   There’s always that few that ruin it for the others. They have nothing close to a clue, but they all think they matter in the big scheme of life. Unfortunately, none of us do. We’re as replaceable as light bulbs, and the older I get the more I realize that. It keeps one humble.

   I think some people just want to have something to whine about. I had an aunt like that. Nothing was ever good enough for her and I never heard her say she was wrong. Not even once. Now she’s dead and nobody misses her. I want to make the best of my alive time.

   Part of that will be to ignore idiots like the one I’ve been dealing with the past few days. He’ll go up and tank it at Zanies, and that will be it. He’ll be back in the pool of newbies, blindly hacking is way through when in fact I could have helped save him a lot of time by offering some guidance. Had he just asked for it, this all could have turned out differently.

   He could have learned from my mistakes, and even gotten some pointers on what to do to make his audition set better. I know what I’m talking about, despite what people might think. I don’t know about a lot of things, but standup comedy is something I know about.

   Am I crazy? Sure. I’ve never denied that. I’m a dented can, what does anyone expect? If I was ‘normal’, I wouldn’t have a need to stand on a stage on a Thursday night in little bar in Richland, MI telling jokes to people who have no clue who I am. I’d have it figured out by now, hopefully having found something a little more stable. But no, here I still wander.

  I’m grateful for great people like Phil who set all this up with a phone call and Linda for relaying her story of going through the exact same thing I am when all she wanted was to be helpful. No matter how hard she tries for a solution, her idiot doesn’t seem to want it.

   All he seems to want is a forum to bitch and throw out rude, mean spirited comments to one of the most laid back and generous people I know. It shouldn’t, but it really does tend to rattle the old self confidence. We tend to only see those who think we’re the problem.

   I wish I could figure out what keeps putting me in these situations and avoid it the next time. I should have kept my mouth shut at Zanies when both of those inbreds walked over and started talking, but the situation seemed harmless enough at the time. My trying to be helpful led to the first incident, and then being truthful helped ignite the second blowup.

   I’ll also admit I can have an attitude at times, but that’s not always a bad thing. If some people don’t like it, I couldn’t care any less. I don’t think I’m better than anyone, but I do think the truth matters and when I have an opportunity to implement it, I do. End of story.

   This was a very enjoyable experience, and doing the show for Phil and talking to Linda on her birthday helped wash the bad taste out of my mouth of the previous couple of days.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pinheads And Paradise

Wednesday September 15th, 2010 - Eau Claire, WI

   The pinheads in life always seem to have some degree of persistence to make them even more annoying than they already are. The crusty old geezer that yelled at me at Zanies last Monday seems to think he’s going to strong arm me into his way of thinking. What a dolt.

   He’s going on long rants on his apparent brilliance about comedy, trying to convince his cluster of other clueless newbies to think I’m the idiot here. Whatever. They haven’t even gotten paid one dollar yet, but they know all the answers. Good for them! It must be very comforting to wake up every morning knowing all there is to know about the comedy biz.

   What they don’t know are all of the darkest, most evil and underhanded dirty tricks I’ve learned over the years so when cockroaches like this slide out from under the fridge, I can stomp on them before they crawl to safety. Sometimes idiots need to be taught a lesson.

   Supposedly, Mr. Fuzz Nuts is supposed to go up and do a Rising Star Showcase in two weeks at Zanies. Well, guess who gets to host that show? His introduction is in my hands, and mine only. I am completely responsible for setting the tone for his audience and I can do or say anything I want. Hmmm, I wonder if he thought of that? He should. I sure am.

   Bert Haas always likes to say “There are a lot of ways to say f-you.” And he’s correct. It isn’t very smart to piss off the host of a showcase to get into the biggest clubs in Chicago that could provide the most paid work, but that’s what he’s done. Apparently he forgot to think about any of that when he went off on his little one coot crusade to trash my name.

     We’ll see how quickly he learns a valuable lesson in two weeks. I don’t normally waste my time with imbeciles, but this cocky bastard needs a size 10 shoe in his ass. He’s trying to be a bully, and I’ve never suffered those or idiots well. He’s both. Bring on the games!

   I’ve learned more than a few secrets in my day, and I’ve been saving some for a special occasion. The last thing these people want or need is my undivided attention, but they’re a stone’s throw away from getting it. If anyone gets messed up here, it’s going to be them.

   On the bright side, I worked a fantastic gig in Eau Claire, WI tonight with Steve Purcell at a place called “The Fanny Hill Dinner Theater”. Funny name, great place. The audience was there to laugh, and Steve and I both tore the roof off the joint. What a fun evening we had, and the owner said he’d love to have us back. I hope so. This was a total pleasure.

   This audience was razor sharp, and they got the subtlest of jokes. The sound and lights were perfect and everything clicked from the first ten seconds. This is the kind of venue I want to find for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ It’s more theater and less nightclub. It was perfect.

   Wasting my time arguing with morons won’t get me anything but frustrated. This is the place I need to be putting my energy - paid shows in quality venues. Those wanktards will never achieve that on a regular basis so why waste my energy on them? This is more fun.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Focus Pocus

Tuesday September 14th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

   Finally, a day to rest. Not a lot, but at least a little. I needed it. I’ve been running around in too many directions, not getting enough things done. That’s been a common story for a long time, but now I’m at my limit. I can’t pile any more activities on my too full plate.

     It’s time to start chopping some out actually. One of the first will probably be the Rising Star Showcase hosting at Zanies in Chicago on Mondays. That’s a long way to drive after what’s usually a full weekend of comedy shows, then it’s the radio show on Sunday night.

   Mondays should be a day off, but it’s hard to turn down money. Most comics don’t ever turn a buck on Mondays, so that’s what attracted me to it at first. Plus, I taught my classes so it made it doubly worth my time. But that was when I lived in Chicago. Now I’m in the outer reaches of Lake County and it’s a fifty mile drive through construction to get there.

   Bill Gorgo lives in the city and he’s been doing a splendid job of teaching the beginner level as I knew he would. He loves it, and is a teacher by trade anyway. Plus, I tend to get a little weary having to teach rank beginners. It’s much more fun to work with experience.

   I have to say those two imbeciles from yesterday really bothered me. Both of them went off on me when all I was trying to do was explain how it really is. I don’t claim to know it all, but as far as standup comedy goes I’ve earned a few stripes in my quarter of a century out here in the trenches piecing together a living. Their attitudes really hit my off button.

   What the hell am I wasting my time for? I really don’t know. I always felt a need to help others, but when they not only don’t appreciate it but cop a major attitude besides, it takes any and all the fun or reward out of it. The older guy sent me his long rambling manifesto on Facebook which I won’t even read. I could see the rage in his eyes and I don’t need to.

   He’s pissed off at his own life, for whatever reason. It’s more than me, but I don’t need to sit there and take it from someone I’m trying to help. He may be a dented can himself, but I’ve got my own problems. Let him make his own mistakes since he knows so much.

   That whole thing really left a bad taste in my mouth and still does. What do I need to be doing instead that doesn’t put me directly in touch with clueless idiots? I wish I knew, but there seems to be an inexhaustible supply that keep showing up and I’ve had quite my fill.

   I went up to Milwaukee today to have a lunch date with the woman I hesitate to call my girlfriend, and I just didn’t feel like being there either. I used to really like her for a lot of reasons, but now I don’t feel anything. She forgot my birthday in March. It hurt then, and still does. I know she‘s swamped, but I am too. I remembered her birthday. What gives?

   We had lunch, and she said I wasn’t my normal self. And I wasn’t. All I wanted was to lay down and get some sleep, which I ended up doing as soon as I got home. I need to get my batteries recharged, but I don’t know how I’m going to do that. It’s back to the grind.

   I’ve got work this week in Eau Claire, WI and then three nights in Michigan. I was able to manufacture a week of work by piecing together four nights in a row, but that’s getting harder and harder to do. I can see the writing on the wall, and it says “go get a stable job“.

   Like what, cruise ships? That booker sent me an email today asking me to fill out avails for the rest of the year starting in mid October. I have to take it, at least for now. I’ll bank as much as I can while I can, and just learn to suck it up and live with the lifestyle for the time being. Nobody else is paying even close to what the ships are, so why not take it?

  Life is not going at all like I thought it would, but it’s not necessarily bad. I never would have thought I’d be spending any time on cruise ships, but there are some perks to it that I will enjoy. Weather will be the main one, and I’m going to enjoy being away in the winter months. I’ll take advantage of the sun and hopefully that will make up for the down side.

   I also have to remember that I’m still out here plugging, technically doing the thing that I love most - comedy. I’ve seen a lot of friends drop out of the business for many reasons, most of them legit. They had families to feed, or illness, and others just couldn’t hack it.

   It’s rough out here, I’m not going to lie. I think about quitting, but that’s not what a real winner would do. That’s too harsh. A real winner would plot a course from where he was to where he’d want to go, and do everything it took to get where he was trying to go. That sounds a lot easier than it is, but it’s exactly the right thing to do. That’s where I am now.

   I’ve struggled and worked my ass off to get to this point, and it’s not even close to what I pictured it would be. Maybe that’s part of the problem, I really didn’t picture a whole lot of anything. I just kind of thought things would work themselves out. They sure have not.

   I think I still have some time to regroup, and I also feel I still have some things I want to do. Despite the reaction those two halfwits gave me at Zanies, I know I can help mentor a new performer who’s sincere about learning the craft of standup comedy. I’d hate to think all these mistakes would go to waste without them helping someone benefit from them.

   Hopefully I still can myself as well. I think I have a lot of great shows still in me, and if I stay with it, good things will keep happening. The cruise ships are paying, and that’s the thing I need most right now. If I can bank some cash, my whole outlook will be brighter.

   The main thing I need to remember is that each and every day I wake up is bonus time. In truth, by all accounts I should be dead right now. I’ve had four nasty car accidents that could have easily killed me in an instant. Any one of them probably should have, but I’m still here. Is there a reason? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Sometimes I do wonder.

   Another thing I need to remember is most of the things I’m doing are fun things. I’m all stressed out and busy, but it’s for my own projects like doing comedy or radio shows and a whole lot of other things. Not a lot of others ever get to do that. Even though it’s not the exact picture I had in my mind, my life is still pretty good. I need to keep thinking of that.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Two Without A Clue

Monday September 13th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

   Sometimes it’s best to just keep one’s pie hole shut. Tonight was one, but I didn’t do it. I ended up snapping and barking in the face of two people who now probably think I’m a complete dingleberry. It made me feel bad, but not for what I said. It was how I said it.

   I hosted the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago tonight, as I’m known to do on a regular basis. Comedians come from all over the country to do either a six or ten minute audition for Bert Haas, who books the acts for all three Zanies clubs in the Chicago area.

   It’s usually a lot of fun, especially when the audience is red hot like it was tonight. It’s a night off for me, as all I have to do is keep the energy flowing properly and bring each act up with a professional introduction. I learned how to do that by watching my mentor back in Milwaukee during my early years, C. Cardell Willis. Cardell knew how to host a show.

   He was the dean of Milwaukee comedy then, and I’m now playing that role in Chicago at Zanies. Cardell’s tutelage taught me how to keep a show moving, and when to distract an audience when an act has a rough set. It takes years of hard work to be a good emcee.

   After the show a Mexican guy in his 30s came up and told me how much he’d enjoyed the show and is an aspiring comedian himself. I told him we just started a new class and if he wanted to he could come out next Monday and sit in at no cost to see if he liked it.

   The guy misunderstood and thought I said he could come out and be on the Rising Star Showcase show. His eyes lit up like a pinball machine and he said “I’m ready to do this!” I asked how long he’s been doing comedy and he said “Six months.” I told him he wasn’t even close to being ready to go up at Zanies yet, and tried to explain about paying dues.

   He snapped and started getting right up in my face. “How the hell would YOU know if I’m ready or not? You’ve never even seen me.” I told him I didn’t need to. Nobody can be ready for a professional comedy club audition after only six months. That doesn’t happen.

   The guy was really indignant and went from friendly to complely confrontational in less than ten seconds. That’s not a good thing to do with me on certain days, and this was one. I started in on him and his wife ended up pulling him away before a fight started. He was about 5’2”, so maybe he had short man’s disease or something. He was ready to rumble.

   Just as he left, an older guy probably in his mid to late 60s came up and shook my hand and said he’d overheard what I said and agreed with me. He told me he was scheduled for an audition in two weeks, and asked if I’d be hosting. I said I probably would, and then he said he’d been “doing it two years now” and told me he was ready. I told him I doubted it.

   Then he snapped and got in my face even worse than the Mexican guy did. I laughed at first because I thought it was trying to be funny, but it turns out he wasn’t. It was like I’d insulted his mother or something and he too seemed like he was ready to throw punches.

   He stormed off, and several members of the audience were still there having witnessed both incidents back to back. They looked at me for my reaction and I just shrugged it off and said “Must be my cologne.” What else could I say? Both of those guys were clueless.

   About a minute later the old coot came stomping back and I tried to explain myself but he started yelling that I didn’t know a damn thing about comedy and how he was going to go up there on that stage and show everyone how funny he was. I offered to bet his whole Social Security check he wouldn’t, and that made everyone around him laugh out loud.

   It sent him into a full fledged rage, and I thought he was going to have a grabber right in front of everyone. I told him nobody was ready to do a showcase like that after two years, and I was right. Nobody is. Does that stop them from doing it? NO. But they’re not ready.

   The true purpose of a showcase is to be seen by a booker to get hired for paid gigs. That would mean the comic would have more than six to ten minutes of material he or she just used in their audition set. The audition set itself should be a sample a booker can judge.

   I tried to calmly explain that to both people, but neither one wanted to hear it. I have no idea why so many are so stupid, but it’s true. This is why there are thousands of people in lines around a club when Last Comic Standing shows up, and it’s a similar mentality for American Idol. The masses seem to think one small audition bit will be all they’ll need.

   Dat Phan was a perfect example. He won the first year of Last Comic Standing and did not have more than ten minutes of material. OK, now what? You can’t headline with that but nobody seems to think before they act. He got a nice break and then couldn’t make it grow into anything else. When a break comes, a performer needs to be ready to leap at it.

   The old guy kept saying “How do you know I’m not ready?” Because you’re not. Sorry you’re old and wrinkled, and you’ve probably wanted to be a comedian all your life, but if all you’ve had it two years of stage time, your growth is that of a two year old no matter if your calendar age is much older. Stage age can’t be faked. It has to be EARNED. Period.

   I felt bad that I snapped at both of those guys, but they snapped at me first. Don’t cop an attitude around me without walking the walk. I don’t claim to be better than anyone and I really do try to help sincere newcomers as much as humanly possible, but sometimes they don’t have a clue and I tell them about it. Maybe I’m not the one who needs to do that.

   Anything involving the entertainment business is flat out DIFFICULT. Comedy is about the hardest it gets, and coming into it with a lack of respect is a good way to get your butt handed to you in an embarrassing way. Everyone has to pay their dues. No exceptions.

   Both of those guys went home angry and I never like to see that. I’m not going to flatter myself and think they’ll remember my name, but I know what I said stung both of them to the bone, or at least how I said it. Too bad though, that’s how it is. I’ve been in this game for 25 years and I’M still paying dues. It never ends. Those two bozos need to know that.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Luggage Returns

Saturday September 11th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

   The eagle has landed. When I got home late last night I noticed my luggage had arrived after having gone on a whirlwind tour even bigger than the one I’ve been on lately. It had been delivered earlier that day apparently, and looked to be beaten and abused. There was no apology from the airline for losing it or number to call to go after any reimbursements.

   I had to purchase backup clothes to make sure I was covered for my shows on the ship, but I guess that’s going to have to come out of my pocket. I tried to explain to the person I talked to on the phone that it wasn’t my fault they’d lost my bag, but she vehemently said in no way were they responsible for any reimbursement and refused to discuss it further.

   I was only asking for $30, but her attitude turned sour in a hurry. The old me probably would have lit into her and carved her up verbally, but what does that prove? She works a dead end job tracking luggage for an airport so how happy could she be anyway? I have a chance to live my dreams in the long run. This will pass. She’s stuck tracking lost bags.

   It’s all a matter of choices. That’s what life is. That’s nothing new, but it’s sure making itself clear to me after a lot of years of stupidly hoping everything would just work out by itself. No way. I’m finally starting to take charge of my life and make some good choices.

   It’s taking longer than I expected, but at least I’m seeing results. I’m starting to get back what I want, only because I’ve chosen to receive exactly that. The Law Of Attraction does work, and I could kick myself for waiting this long to start using it to make my life better.

   Maybe I needed to learn some lessons first. If so, I’ve sure done that and then some. I’m a lot more confident now than I’ve ever been because I’ve been around the block and seen how the world works. It’s taken a lot of prep time, but I feel like I’m ready to get started.

   This afternoon my friend Don Schmitt asked if I would perform for his Anniversary get together at his home in Hubertus. He and his wife Marie are sweet people and it was very flattering to be asked. They put a big party together and wanted to have entertainment for the guests. They hired me, magician Glen Gerard and mentalist Rex Sykes. It was a blast.

   It’s fun to perform for people who enjoy entertainment. I was in town anyway working at Potawatomi Casino, and that was fun too. I had a lot of people come out I didn’t expect and that’s always a pleasant surprise. I even had some cousins come out to show support.

   There aren’t many in my family I’m close to, but these people are great. My grandfather and their father were brothers, so I think that makes us second cousins. No matter, they’ve come out before but it’s been a while. It was a really fun night and a good vibe prevailed.

   This is really what true success is. Whatever psychological baggage I may have doesn’t mean a thing. These people tonight all think I’m a big star, and they laughed as hard as an audience could. What’s wrong with that? I have both my luggage and my groove back.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Positive Pressure

Friday September 10th, 2010 - Sault Ste. Marie, MI/Chicago, IL

   This was a nice little two night run to bring my confidence back. I feel like I’m at home in the Midwest, and I was able to have very strong shows. That’s very good in a way, but in the big scheme of things it really doesn’t mean a whole lot. What does? I wish I knew.

   I had a lot of time to think in the car on the way back to Chicago, and that’s always the consequence of working a gig so far away. It’s just as long of a drive home as it is to get there, but it usually feels longer by far because I want to get home. Whatever thrill of the anticipation of a show is long gone, and sometimes those miles can get long and lonely.

   Kate Brindle helped keep it interesting for a while, but she got off in Lansing where she left her car to meet me for the ride north. I hadn’t been to Lansing in a while and it hasn’t aged well at all. I lived there in 1990 when I had my first morning radio gig and I thought it was a toilet then. It’s gotten worse, and I’m glad I never got a chance to lay roots there.

   I never got a chance to lay roots anywhere. That’s a lot of what percolated around in my brain the rest of the way home. I’ve chased an elusive dream my entire life, and I screwed myself because I didn’t even have a picture of exactly what it was I wanted. I just threw it all to the wind and let it happen however it would. No wonder I didn’t enjoy the results.

   If I’d really wanted to be a big time standup comic, I should have zeroed in and focused on that and that only. I should have moved to Los Angeles at some point and stayed there, with maybe some time spent in New York first to make connections. Radio came into the picture unexpectedly, and I wandered down that road instead. That was a stupid mistake.

   I’ve made lots of stupid mistakes, mostly because I had nobody around to tell me I was about to make them. I did what I did with the knowledge I had at the time, and sometimes it was just a guess. More often than not things blew up in my face, and then I had to make more decisions to try to get myself out of the mess that had been made. It’s been rough.

   That’s why it was important to me to have a chance to record a DVD in front of a group of up and coming comics who had a chance to ask questions to someone who’s done what they’re trying to do. I never had that and I know how valuable it is for those who’d use it.

   There’s a guy named Brian Kanner who goes by the stage name of Bubba Muski. He’s a very kind soul who’s putting his own act together but also runs an ‘open forum’ at a place called Pressure Café on Clark Street in Chicago. He calls it that because ‘open mike’ isn’t very sexy, and he’s right. Open mikes can be brutal, and he’s trying to keep things upbeat.

   He was the perfect person to approach, and when I did he was very up for it. He got the word out to his crowd, and we had a nice turnout of people to sit around and talk comedy for an hour while my other friend Russ Martin recorded it on his camera. I didn’t pull any punches or sugarcoat anything and I thought it came out very well. The people who came out were very grateful, and hopefully I was able to plant some seeds for future growth.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bored At The Border

Thursday September 9th, 2010 - Sault Ste. Marie, MI

   The eye of the driving storm. It’s only about 50 miles from St. Ignace, MI to Sault Ste. Marie, but then it’s a marathon to get back home. I live as far away as possible and it’s a haul no matter if I go back through Wisconsin or return the way I came. I’m driving with Kate Brindle, so I’ll end up going the way I came. For today though, I had a short drive.

   One thing that’s always bothered me is having to cross the Mackinac Bridge. Part of it is the fact that a toll is unavoidable, and I really don’t like paying tolls. There’s no way to avoid it other than going the other way through Wisconsin though, so I’ll have to fork out another $3.50 of my hard earned money to get back on my way. Seven bucks total is a lot.

   The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was only $5, and they only charge going one way. At least there I’m in The Bay Area, which is a wonderful place. Here, all I get is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. No offense, but that’s not worth $7. Trees should be free.

   All this is what it is. I’m grateful for the work, and tonight was another red hot show at the Kewadin Casino. These crowds can go in any direction, and I’ve experienced them all in my times performing here. Tonight was a very good one, and they were solid laughers.

   It’s odd how it works. Kate Brindle is very funny and presents herself well, but they just stared at her for most of her set. She was trying her hardest, and I thought she should have gotten way more response from them than she did. They didn’t hate her, but they sure did react to her differently. I’ve seen it go the other way too. Sometimes the opener gets them.

   It’s all a random crapshoot, and I thought about that as I was on stage. There were more Canadians in the audience than usual, and they sat right in front. I was able to play to their local sensibilities, as I’ve been to Canada several times and actually enjoy it. That was my advantage, and maybe that’s why I was able to get them and keep them the whole show.

   Even though I had a very solid show, it occurred to me about halfway through that I was bored with doing these kinds of shows. I’m not ungrateful, and I’m not saying I think I’m better than anyone else. I’m saying I’m sick of driving so far for so little pay without them knowing who I am. Tonight went fine, but there have been many nights where it hasn’t.

   Those were years of paying dues and acquiring skills. Now I have those skills and being this far from home for so little money really doesn’t thrill me anymore. I was just the guy who was at the FREE SHOW at the comedy club at the casino. There’s no cover charge at either of these shows, and we’re basically a talking buffet or happy hour. I’m sick of that.

   I’ll be at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee on Saturday, and this is part of that run. I’m not angry or upset, and the shows were very good here - especially after the brutal week at sea. All I’m saying is, I need to keep working on the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show because at least that’s something that people will come to see. Or, they won’t. But at least I won’t be just the guy who happens to be on stage when they get there. I need to become the draw.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Thursday, September 9, 2010

North For Self Worth

Wednesday September 8th, 2010 - St. Ignace, MI

   Talk about a change of scenery. Yesterday I left St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where it was hot and everyone was sweating. Today I’m in St. Ignace, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and everyone is wearing sweatshirts. It feels like it could snow at any minute.

   Right now, I’m glad I’m here. I need some time off from the ships to regroup and rest a little, both mentally and physically. Driving 560 miles seemed like a day off, as all I really had to do was sit and stare at the highway all day. I found it relaxing and am feeling good.

   Part of the reason is that I’m working with Kate Brindle. She’s always been a sweetie to hang out with and she just soothes me with her presence. She’s very different from me on almost every level, so maybe that’s why we get along so well. I don’t care, I just enjoy her company. We’re a good match onstage and off, and there won’t be any stress on this tour.

   Sometimes being in a car with another comic for a long trip can really get on someone’s last nerve. Bathroom schedules or smoking or choice of music or any number of tiny little details can conflict and grow into a major disagreement. Kate and I have always clicked.

   The show tonight was in the Kewadin Casino in St. Ignace, MI. It’s a beautiful building located right north of the Mackinac Bridge. I’ve been here before and the show is in their sports bar. Crowds are usually small but friendly, and that’s how it was tonight. We had a great show, and it felt really good to be back in an environment where I felt comfortable.

     I will say I was a little concerned to see three biker types sitting front and center, but not to worry. They were great laughers and kept it up from start to finish. Kate is a tall blonde who really looks great, especially when she dresses up for stage, so that could have been a big problem. Three bikers hooting and hollering in a small room could have ruined it all.

   It was good to air it out and have a great show just to put a little self esteem back on the table. I’ll admit, those shows on the ship really kicked me down pretty far. I thought I had lost my touch or something, but this proves I didn’t. I’ll just have to use a different tactic.

   I received a call from American Airlines telling me my luggage is still lost but they will keep calling me with updates until it’s found. I didn’t yell at anyone and that whole mess seemed like a world away, even though it’s still pretty recent. They’ll get it back when it’s found, and if it isn’t I’ll still go on with life. I really don’t need to let this cause me stress.

   There are way too many other sources from where it could come. My car made it all this way without a hitch or glitch, and I got to spend the day with a hot blondie who I can get along with without wanting to strangle forty miles into a trip. Oh yeah, they fed us too.

   This was a good day to take a breath and relax a little. My vibe is much better and I’ve got steady work coming up in the next few weeks that should be both fun and rewarding financially. This is the groove I want to be in constantly, and for a day it’s been a blast.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Worser Than Worse

Tuesday September 7th, 2010 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands/Miami, FL/Chicago, IL

     Now it’s just ridiculous. I received a call from the ship office at 11 o’clock this morning telling me my luggage had been delivered by the airline and I needed to go pick it up right away. I’d told the airline I wanted to pick it up at the airport in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands as I flew out today to avoid any further chance of it staying lost. They brought it anyway.

   I scoured the bowels of the ship where the office said I’d find it, and sure enough, there it was. It was dirtier than when I packed it, and it looked like it had been beaten up pretty badly since I’d seen it last, but after the miserable week I’ve been through I didn’t mind at all. I was just glad to see it, like a long lost run away pet that returns home unexpectedly.

   Sign off time for us was 1pm today, so I hauled the bag back to my cabin to take a long hot shower, shave myself and put on some clean clothing to get ready for my flight home. When I opened the bag I noticed a plastic bottle of shampoo had burst and put a big stain on every one of my clean shirts and pants, creating one big gooey shampoo mess. Yuck.

   What else did I need to endure for this week? I did find one clean t-shirt and some socks and underwear and I felt like a civilized human for the first time in an entire week. I put a splash of the new cologne on that I just bought and headed down to disembark the ship to get to the airport on time. I had to get my passport back and take a shuttle to the airport.

   I shared the shuttle with the other comedian Phat Kat and a juggling team billed as The Village Idiots, who are very nice guys. We got to the gate only to discover we had a delay of almost two hours which would seriously jeopardize my connection home to Chicago.

   Not only is there nothing to do in the St. Thomas airport, it’s an open air situation and it started to pour in buckets so we all sat there with our education getting wet, knowing our flight home was delayed by two hours. None of us were happy about it, but that’s how the breaks go when a person travels for a living. All we could do was wait it out, so we did.

   As it turned out, the pilot made up some good time in the air, and we got to Chicago at the exact 45 minute window I was told it takes to make a connecting flight. Of course the apes on the plane wouldn’t move quickly, and people wouldn’t sit and let us who had the connecting flights go first, and it made me despise the masses of human filth even more.

   How about some courtesy? NO, too much to expect. I ran like O.J. Simpson through the Miami airport and of course the gate was as far as humanly possible from where we were. I was huffing and puffing and panting when I got there and was THE last person to board.

     Originally they were supposed to put me up in a hotel and give me meals, but all I really wanted was to get home, which I did. Then I went to pick up the luggage I’d just got back earlier today, only to discover it wasn’t there. They lost it AGAIN. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. What a nightmare this whole week has been. Before I committed a felony, I walked away dejected and got in my own car as Jim McHugh picked me up. This is hell.

   I know in the big scheme of things this is all barely a flea fart, but in the moment this is a major catastrophe. I guess I have to look at it from the big picture, and treat it all as just an exercise in day to day living. I didn’t get diagnosed with cancer, nobody got killed, the main problem is a suitcase full of a few clothes that is temporarily lost. It’s not a big deal.

   This is a short time inconvenience and easily fixable. It wasn’t like I lost a leg or an eye in a car accident, and I didn’t get fired from a job when a wife and house full of kids were depending on me to bring home the bacon. I had an inconvenient week long gig on a ship.

   I’m going to get paid, and the shows weren’t all that bad this particular week. Monday’s late show was actually one of the best responses I received. Unfortunately, it was because I had to rip a table of drunken hecklers in the front row, but that’s always been a sure fire big time crowd pleaser. If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s vaporize hecklers.

   Actually, it felt good to unload on those people. They looked like they were not only the kind of people that had money, but they probably didn’t earn it. They were dressed nicely, but very disrespectful of the rest of the people around them. I tried to be nice and explain that they were disrupting the show, but they kept it up so I took no prisoners and let it rip.

   Normally, I’ll throw one or two lines out there and go back and forth for a while but this time I just kept it coming. They were irritating me personally and I could tell they weren’t endearing themselves to the rest of the audience either, who actually were there to laugh.

   It was the right place at the right time, and the rest of the crowd was in my corner. I also had some trouble from a loudmouth Southerner who was ordering drinks rudely and with a chip on his shoulder so I turned and started in on him too. He backed down immediately as the rest of the room was howling with laughter. At least I got to show who was boss.

   That’s not the kind of show I ever want to do, but I’ll defend myself if I have to. That’s a time when I had to, but it was more than that. It was a chance to vent a little and recoup a little of my dignity and self worth from having to piece my life together the whole week.

   The flight delay and lost luggage on the way home didn’t help any of that, but I’ll get it back eventually and life will go on. I don’t get paid until Friday of this week, but I’ll get it deposited in my account and the check won’t bounce like it did at Giggles in Brookfield.

   I have to learn to focus on what’s positive and let the rest roll off my back. It’s not easy to do on weeks like this though. One thing goes wrong after the next, and before long it’s a full fledged nightmare in progress with no end in sight. This was the most horrific week I’ve had in a long, long time and I can’t say I’m not thrilled it’s over, but I have to go on.

   One thing that made a huge difference was getting home and checking my email to find notes of encouragement from all kinds of people like Arnold Mukai and Spike Rizzo and Teme Ring and John O’Brien and several others who say they follow my exploits and are in my corner. I guess I forget others read these ramblings. I just do it to keep a discipline.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Pain

Monday September 6th, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   Help me, please. I’m in the pit of hell, and I want to go home. Six days has seemed like  six years, and I just want it all to be OVER already. This is not what I want to do with my life, and unless I figure something out quickly I’ll jump off the side of the ship and end it.

   Thankfully, I’ve had some very good veteran comedians to help me through in learning how to adjust to this life, and it is indeed an adjustment. This whole week Phat Kat was a total help with everything, and I thanked him for it. He hasn’t been doing comedy all that long, and most of his years were spent on ships. For him, the club scene sent him running.

   For me, it’s been the exact opposite. The more I get in front of these ship audiences, the more I find them stupid and difficult to master. The degree of difficulty is extremely high all around, and there’s no real warm up act to get them in the mood. This isn’t enjoyable.

   Phat Kat says one just gets used to it, and he’s chosen to take the money and run. He’s a very personable guy on stage and off, and he’s got a magnetic charisma much like Mutzie from New Orleans does. He’s another guy who’s new like me, but I think he’s perfect for these gigs. Mutzie and Phat Kat were made for the ships, and that’s a compliment to both.

   I have to believe I’m not the first person to clash with this lifestyle, but I’ve been doing well enough to keep a job. I haven’t let on to anyone on board that I’m unhappy, and I can keep my mouth shut with the best of them when I need to. I kept a bank robbery quiet for several years, I can keep this under my hat too. I just don’t know if I want to. It’s a pisser.

    I just don’t have the same kind of energy and charisma guys like a Phat Kat or a Mutzie do. I tried to figure it all out tonight as I struggled through my first two shows. What’s the reason I’ve had so much trouble figuring these audiences out with any real consistency? It normally takes me just a few minutes to adjust and find their pulse. This has been harder.

   Part of it is I have to divide up my material between the early family shows and the later adult ones. That takes away some of my safety net, as does I’m realizing I have more stuff than I thought that’s either local or regional. I can go up in Milwaukee and ad lib for most of the show, or in Chicago for quite a while. Here, I have to keep it right down the center.

   This is a real problem. I don’t want to be here, but if I quit I may not get a chance at this much money again for a while. I’m sure there have been pro athletes who were drafted by a team and it wasn’t a pleasant experience but the money was good. That’s where I am at this time. In truth, the smart thing to do is just shut up and let the paychecks keep coming.

   I’ve never been one to do that by nature. I’ve always done things for the enjoyment and figured the money would follow, even though it never really did. The ships pay well, feed us, fly us in and out, and give us a place to stay even though it’s tiny and without the light of day coming in or out. No other job has ever done that for me. Still, the shows have put me in such a down mood it takes away any fun there may be. I am SO ready to go home.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Money Vs. Misery

Sunday September 5th, 2010 - Half Moon, Bahamas

   I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely miserable out here. I hate it, and I want to go home immediately. Whatever thrill there was about cruises or travel or exotic locales is now as far away as my lost piece of luggage. It’s gone, and I have no idea if it will ever return.

   I thought about that all day today as I sat in my cabin and tried to get work done. I went down to the ship’s office to see if they could help me track down my luggage, but all they did was laugh at me and try to make bad jokes in their broken English. I could have said a lot of very nasty things, but I wisely held my tongue. I don’t need those guys angry at me.

   I don’t need anyone angry at me. I just want to live my life in peace and do what I enjoy doing. I love comedy, but not in this particular venue. These people aren’t here to watch a comedy show, they’re here to be on vacation. IF a good show happens, it’s almost a fluke.

   The thought crossed my mind that a lot of comedians would love to have these gigs and a whole lot more wish they had the ability to do the clean and the adult shows in the same night. This isn’t for the novice, and every night is unpredictable as to the audience’s vibe.

   I know a lot of other people still would love the chance to come visit all the exotic ports we’re stopping at, and I’m trying not to be ungrateful for any of it - but I’m totally sick of it all and want to go back to Chicago and do what I was doing. That’s where my heart is.

   I know I’m a picky bastard, but that’s how I am. When I was at The Loop, it was a radio job that everyone in America wanted, but that was miserable too. We had to do things the way of our program director, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. If there’s one thing I am it’s a big control freak when it comes to creativity. I’ll sacrifice a lot of things in life, but not that.

   I stayed with The Loop gig and eventually it did start to get fun. Too bad it was about a month before we got fired. All in all, it was a year of misery vs. a month of fun. Was that worth it? NO. I did meet my friend Max Bumgardner and he’s a wonderful soul, but to go through a year of hell to meet him was a heavy price to pay. The money was nice though.

   That’s the dilemma I’m facing. Do I suck it up and keep coming back? The money’s the only reason to say yes. It’s even more than I was making at The Loop, but the level of my misery is more too. Maybe it will even out, but as of right now I want to abandon ship by morning. I wanted to quit the radio job too, but I stayed with it even though I loathed it.

   The shows tonight were actually very good. The family show went so well a large group from Florida with kids asked for my autograph and said they thought I was great. I didn’t let on I was miserable, and thanked them for their kind words. They didn’t need to know.

   The good news is I’ll be off the ships for the next six weeks. I’ve got my own bookings and I’ll have a chance to let this all settle in and see if the money is indeed worth the bad side nobody sees. There has to be a happy medium with both fun and money somewhere.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Robert Schimmel RIP

Saturday September 4th, 2010 - Miami, FL

   Bad news all around today. First and worst, I heard Robert Schimmel passed away from complications of injuries sustained from a car accident of all things. I know he had cancer for quite some time, and to hear he died from a car accident was an unpleasant surprise.

   I worked with Robert at the Funny Bone in Milwaukee in the late ‘80s and immediately hit it off with him. I was just starting out then, and working at the club answering phones, seating shows, hosting shows, cleaning cigarette butts out of urinals, whatever I could do to earn extra money to support myself. I remember hosting shows for Robert Schimmel.

   His act was pretty blue even then, but extremely funny. He didn’t have any kind of fame or name recognition and I remember quite a few people were offended by his show during that week. I remember sitting at an all night diner called Ma Fischer’s where all the Funny Bone comics hung out after shows with Robert and listening to him talk about his life.

   He was a very friendly guy and never talked down to me because I was only an opening act or worse, a room seater. He was very genuine and real and we got along right from the start. By the end of the week, we were looking forward to hanging out at Ma’s before the shows even started. He knew he might not do well, so he looked forward to hanging out.

   As he got recognized in later years, I was always a fan of his both because he was such a real guy and because I thought his act was hilarious. He laid it all out there, and had his own unique style. Then I heard he had cancer and it was very sad, but he seemed to have it beat by all accounts. He was very popular with comedians too, at least the ones I know.

   He’d work Zanies in Vernon Hills, IL on occasion and I always tried to go and say hello whenever I was in town. I’m not going to claim we were ‘close personal friends’ like a lot of insincere showbiz wannabes do, but I did know him on a comic level and whenever we got together he always thanked me for ‘saving that week in Milwaukee’. I’m glad I could.

   I thought I had some rough obstacles to overcome, but Robert Schimmel makes my life look like a trip to Disneyland. He fought through a lot of difficult situations but handled it with the spirit of a warrior. I have nothing but total respect for him and am truly sorry this horrific event had to happen. I don’t know all the details, but I sure hope he finds peace.

   All comedians want is to make everyone laugh to hide the hurt most of us feel inside on a regular basis. Robert Schimmel was no different, and it pains me greatly to see all of the torture he had to go through in his life when all he wanted was to bring all of us laughter.

   The other bad news today pales in comparison. My luggage is still lost, even though the airline swore it would be here today. The ship’s office called and tried to find it but it was wasted energy. Now I have to finish out at least one more night of shows in my makeshift wardrobe, and it’s totally annoying. It’s hard enough living out here without having to try to improvise supplies every day. I‘m really having second thoughts about being out here.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary

A Face Full Of Ship

Friday September 3rd, 2010 - Somewhere At Sea

   No luggage. No sympathy. Life goes on. I’m taking my knocks out here but it’s all a big education. I’m learning a lot every day, but that’s never a bad thing. This is an experience that will surely make me a better comedian in the long run. For now, it rots. This is hard.

   Tonight was my three show night, and it was another tough one. The shows weren’t full and that’s a red flag. I don’t think it’s me personally, but that’s always the first reaction in that situation. The early show was very empty, and the other two weren’t all the way full.

   The truth is, this is the last night of this particular cruise and most of the people are just thinking about going home. They’ve eaten and drank and partied and seen exotic ports for the first time, and that’s a lot to do for the average Joe. Plus, I talked to one of the people on staff and he said it’s getting to be the off season for cruising, whenever that might be.

   I have no idea when the season to cruise is or isn’t. I don’t have any experience at all in this business. That’s why it’s good that I’m out here losing luggage and having mediocre shows in my opinion. It will either force me to adjust and get better, or it’ll weed me out.

   As I was on stage all three shows tonight, hoping my borrowed tuxedo pants that were a couple of sizes too big wouldn’t slide off in mid show and embarrass the hell out of me, it occurred to me that nothing I do on stage really matters. I am not part of the big picture.

   These people didn’t come to hear me - they came on a cruise to eat like pigs, drink like fish, screw like rabbits and be on vacation. Comedy is just a sidelight, and whether or not I want to hear it, that’s how it is. All I can do is give them my best, and that’s what I’ll do.

   Comedy clubs in theory are completely different. People go there exclusively to watch a comedy show, or at least that’s the idea. Many clubs have to paper the room with all sorts of free tickets, and that’s when it gets out of hand. It brings in groups of people who think they’re there just to drink, and once again the comedy part is bastardized. I never like that.

   I want audiences that want to see smart comedy shows. In a perfect world, I’d love them to be fans of mine who enjoy what I do. They’ve seen my show before, liked it, and chose to come back and see me again. I’ll go out of my way to give them the very best I can do.

   The problem I’m having out here is, nobody on the ship knows or cares who I am. They happen to be in a place where I happen to be performing, and they don’t have to pay a red cent to see it. That alone takes any value out of it, and I have no star power to draw from. That really makes it difficult, and I’m feeling it every week. I feel like I‘m starting over.

   The goal is to please these audiences. This will be a hell of an education, and it already has been. I’ve been adjusting constantly, and will continue to do so. Either I’ll get better and figure it out, or I’ll get fired and go back to what I was doing. The shows aren’t the only thing that’s taken adjustment, it’s the entire lifestyle. This has been a big challenge.

Posted via email from Dobie Maxwell's "Dented Can" Diary