Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Hots And A Not

Saturday January 30th, 2010 - Chicago, IL/St. Charles, IL

Three shows today - two on stage, one on radio. The two on stage had a total combined audience of around 400. The radio show had several hundred thousand, if not more. Two out of the three shows came off without a hitch. Guess which one sucked rotten eggs?

I have to admit, I really stunk it up on Jerry’s Kidders today on WGN and I feel horrible about it. Jerry Agar is nice enough to have us on and I never want to embarrass either him or the station. I don’t take that opportunity lightly, and I want to contribute when I’m on.

I feel like I owe it to both Jerry and the other Kidders to step up and be the leader in the room as we’re on the air. I’ve done radio and comedy, and know the timing of both. It’s a total blast when it’s going well, and it usually does. Today I thought we were misfiring on all cylinders, and most of it started with me. For whatever reason, we never hit our stride.

Ken Sevara took the week off because he had a gig. Since we’ve been on WGN, each of us has had to bow out at some point, only because Saturdays are our work days. It’s tough for all three of us to make it in every week, but nobody’s angry about it. It’s just how it is.

Dale Irvin filled in for Ken, and he’s a total pro. He has his own individual bit he’s been doing for years called “The Friday Funnies” and it’s basically the same thing we do as the Kidders. He finds goofy news stories of the week and writes jokes. They’re funny jokes at that, and they’re on video. You can subscribe at and I recommend it.

Tim Slagle is our other Kidder and he’s usually on point also. In fact, we tend to like to tease Ken because he’s not the strongest ad libber. That’s not a bad thing, he just isn’t. He likes to be prepared and he can do great impressions and voice characterizations that none of the rest of us can, so everyone has their place. Today, that place wasn’t a radio studio.

One would think with three of us who’ve been on the air before and Jerry, we’d be able to get in there and start throwing heat from all directions. Many times we do exactly that, but not today in my opinion. Nobody else said anything, but I felt like it was a train wreck the whole time, and most of it was my fault. The harder I tried to flow, the less it worked.

We fell back on a lot of self effacing humor and made fun of ourselves, but that doesn’t cut it for long. Eventually, someone needs to land on some punch lines. I’ll admit I like to work off the cuff, and this is the danger of what can happen when that doesn’t work out.

I don’t want to overanalyze it, but we weren’t anywhere near where we should be today. This is one of the advantages of radio though. If we did stink, it was diluted and we didn’t have to suffer the torture of having to eat it live on stage in front of a room full of people.

That’s the worst feeling I know. If an audience doesn’t like a show, everybody knows it. And I do mean everybody. Time slows down and it’s a bloody vortex of negative energy. On radio, people either don’t know or care, or if they do they can just change the station.

What probably happened was that nobody noticed. I did, but that doesn’t mean anything at this point. It’s not my show. My name is nowhere on the product at all except for at the top of the show when Jerry introduces us. If I’m going to pick a place to blow it, this is it.

Still, I never want to put Jerry or the guys in a bad way. We’ve all worked way too hard and long to start slacking off now. If we’re going to be on the air, we should be able to be at least a little bit funny for those who take time to listen. I don’t think it happened today.

The good news is, what I think about this doesn’t matter one tiny little bit. Perception is always what matters, and the perception is we’re good enough to be asked to be on WGN radio. We’ve had enough good shows where the powers that be haven’t yanked us off yet.

This one was just a blip. Athletes get into slumps and I’m sure actors and musicians and any other kind of performing artist has to deal with an off day once in a while. This was a show that I didn’t like, but sometimes I can be way too hard on myself. Maybe I am now.

The two shows at Zanies tonight were a completely different story. I didn’t nod out this time and was ready to go from the beginning. There were two nicely packed houses and it felt good to have an opportunity to work a full week of well attended shows at a club. It’s how every week used to be back in the boom years, and I forgot how much fun that was.

The other acts on the show this week were both nice so that also made it fun. Zanies has a smart policy of hiring ‘house emcees’ which are experienced people to host their shows for a month at a time or maybe longer. I’ve house emceed in the past and loved it. It helps the club by making the shows stronger and helps the acts by giving us steady local work.

The house emcee this month is Vince Maranto, a funny guy I’ve known for probably 25 years now. We met when I first started coming to Chicago and have stayed friends all that time. Vince has the distinction of having had only two jobs in his entire life - McDonald’s and comedy. He started working at McDonald’s in high school and climbed up the ladder.

Eventually, he became a manager at the Woodfield Mall location when it was officially the busiest McDonald’s in the world. He started doing comedy and that became his career but he has some interesting stories of his McDonald’s years. Vince is always fun to work with. We make each other laugh off stage because we’ve got so much common reference.

The feature act is a 22 year old Indian kid named Prashanth Venkataramanujam. That’s more than a mouthful, and he just uses his first name on stage. He’s very bright and has a big future if he stays with it. He’s a good looking smart kid, and I hope he does very well. He asked me to grab some food after the show and pick my brain, which is totally smart.

Most kids his age wouldn’t have that foresight, but he totally does. I tried to help him as much as possible, as did Vince. He’s still green and putting his act together, but there’s an absolute spark there, and he was eager to learn from us all week. Working with a pup has a way of rubbing off on two old dogs like Vince and myself. It was a fun week all around.

Asleep At The Meal

Friday January 29th, 2010 - St. Charles, IL

This is turning out to be a stellar week of work at Zanies for many reasons. First, we’ve had good numbers for every show so far. I’m not sure if I’m a draw, but it doesn’t matter. I see butts in seats and they’ve walked out smiling and that’s what makes everyone happy.

I’ve been getting great reports on the comment cards, and that never hurts either. Still, I never liked those things and still don’t. The booker of a venue should know what acts are right for that particular room, and not have to consult the unwashed masses for their input on who they want to see in the future. Most of them have no idea what they’re looking at.

That’s no offense to anyone, just fact. Most clubs have some kind of mailing list card to fill out which allows people to suggest who they’d like to see at the club. Most put names like ‘Jay Leno’ or ‘Jerry Seinfeld’ or ’Bill Cosby’ or even some comedians who’ve died.

Sorry comedy fans, Bill Cosby’s career path won’t be leading him to St. Charles, IL any time soon. He has quite a few bigger venues he could sell out in the time it takes to whip up a batch of Jello pudding. He doesn’t need to be working a 300 seat comedy club. I do.

That’s why I don’t need some halfwit marking down bad scores just because he doesn’t like the shirt I’m wearing or the waitress didn’t bring his Long Island Ice Tea fast enough. That kind of thing happens all the time in a lot of one nighters, and it isn’t very fair at all.

But what is? Not much that I know. I just know that Cyndi does her job as the manager and a lot more and tonight she took the comics out to dinner at the world class restaurant called “The Harvest” in the resort. It’s an outstanding experience, from the off the charts food to the amazing service. It’s one of the absolute finest places I’ve ever eaten a meal.

The resort doesn’t have to do that and neither does Cyndi, but they do and we were very grateful for everything. Our server couldn’t have been more thorough and kept our drinks and butter and everything else full the entire meal. We went early enough so it wasn’t that busy yet, and we could enjoy the whole experience. THIS is what makes life worth living.

Hanging out with wonderful friends and eating fantastic food for free is a nice job perk, especially in this day and age. I might not be Donald Trump, but I sure got treated exactly like him tonight. No matter what goes wrong in the next month, this was a total highlight.

After dinner we all went back to the showroom for the start of the first show. I was full from dinner and sat in the back to watch the show like I’m supposed to do. I need to keep track of what happens in case I need to comment on it. Too bad I nodded out in about ten minutes. The host did his time and brought the feature act up, but I slept through all of it.

A waitress woke me up literally right as I was getting introduced. I leapt from my chair and tried to be calm, but I was WAY out of it. There I stood, in front of a full house after just waking up. That’s most people’s worst nightmare. Not me. I enjoyed the challenge.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Boozy Floozy

Thursday January 28th, 2010 - St. Charles, IL

I’m working at Zanies in St. Charles, IL this week which is located in the Pheasant Run Resort. The club is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year and I’ve worked every one of them. How far I’ve come, both personally and as a comedian. It was my training ground.

I still love working there. The manager is Cyndi Nelson, one of the nicest people I have ever met in life, much less the comedy business. She was a waitress and ended up getting the manager’s job when the last one was caught tapping the till, and she’s become one of the best comedy club managers in the country. She lives and breathes everything comedy.

I’ve seen club managers burn out all over the country, and I hope that doesn’t happen to Cyndi. She’s been there for several years and every comic loves working for her. She puts a whole lot of extra effort into her job to make us feel like we’re really in show business.

Most of the old pros really appreciate it and look forward to playing there. I know I do. The physical makeup of the club itself is very good. The stage is roomy and high enough up so everyone in back can see. The sound is crisp and the lighting is good too. It rocks.

The headliners have to do some local suburban radio shows, but that’s ok. Hopefully it helps put butts in seats. A new addition this time through was a pod cast by two guys who call their show “The Greatest Show In The World”, which is an outstanding title, rivaled only by my friend Steve “The Homer” True’s “ The World’s Greatest Sports Talk Show.”

Title is important, but these guys have a really good show too. They’re named “Frankie & The Cheez” and both of them used to be in radio until they got a dose of the old see ya later and never went back. You can hear them at

The shows this week have been well attended so far. Last night there was a late holiday party of Payless Shoes managers from the Chicago area and they were an especially good audience. I tend to go over well to working class audiences, as I don’t talk down to them.

Tonight was even fuller, and 99% of the audience was very good. Unfortunately, it had to be right up front where the 1% sat, and they ruined it for everyone else. Typical. I saw the problem the first ten seconds I was on stage, because it was from a super hot blondie who would NOT shut up. She was distracting by both her looks and drunken babbling.

To make it even worse, she was with some total bag of donuts loser with a shaved head, goatee, chain wallet and attitude to match. Plus, he was a Sox fan and had to let it be said to the point of me having to shut him up to the roaring applause of the rest of the crowd.

This was no easy task, and I had all I could handle to keep the show under control as the evening went on. There was a very full house tonight and it was a fundraiser for some sort of softball league or something, and I could tell they were a bit older than last night and a lot more white collar. I know how to read my audiences after all these years of doing it.

Last night I had a more direct approach to capture them right away, but tonight I needed to be less aggressive up front and gradually ramp it up. Paying attention to these details is what makes a professional entertainer, and it takes years of experience to nail it correctly.

I also knew I had to work ‘big’. The room in Pheasant Run is narrow and long, just like the downtown Zanies in Chicago. This one is about three times as large, so when they are full to the back, the comedian has to be very careful to work to all parts of the audience.

I made sure I did that tonight. I consciously slowed my cadence WAY down, especially in the first few minutes, and used big sweeping animated gestures to punctuate my points. Old school professional wrestlers were great at this, as they had to communicate the story of the match to the people in the cheap seats. It’s a very subtle technique, but effective.

Miss Boozie Boobs started in with her vociferous diarrhea up front, and I could tell I’d be dealing with her the rest of the night. She wanted attention, and I guess her mini skirt and halfway exposed voluptuous knockers weren’t enough. I wanted to dive on her right there, but there were a couple hundred people who wanted to hear jokes. Too bad for me.

She not only would not shut up, she started talking to another woman at the table right behind her. That lady talked back and they started up a conversation right in the middle of the show. How rude, and I told her that in a way that made the audience laugh but they’d started to get sick of it too, and it was to the point where it could have gotten very ugly.

In the past, I might have really flipped out on her from stage, and I wouldn’t have been wrong in doing it. Cyndi was in the other room because she knows I can handle most any situation on stage and she knows she doesn’t have to baby sit when I’m on. She would’ve had my back no matter what I chose to do, but I made a decision I wasn’t going to snap.

There was a room full of nice people who were enjoying the show and I wanted to give them the very best I could give. I ignored the drunk couple, but DAMN she was sexy. It’s bad enough I have to get heckled by a hottie, but that she was with such an oil can loser is even worse. He gets to have wild sex with her and I get to sit by myself and write about it.

The very worst was that I finally got them relatively quiet enough to launch into my big closer, which is totally a rhythm bit. If I get taken out of my rhythm, it’s shot. It builds up a momentum and the audience gets into it and when it works it’s an ass kicker. When it’s interrupted, it fizzles. Usually, by the time I get to it I’ve got the audience in my grasp.

I almost had them there tonight, but right in the middle of my closer the two love birds got up and left and ruined my flow. They sat right in front and the whole crowd saw them leave. I tried to ignore them but nobody could. Everyone was gawking as they walked out.

This goes with the territory of being a club comic. I did the best I could, and it was still a very good show. I got strong laughs for most of the night, and nobody else in the crowd knows or cares how difficult it was, but I do. I hope those two were too drunk to screw.

Wilde About Larry

Wednesday January 27th, 2010 - St. Charles, IL

Most people, including many comedians, don’t realize how much devotion it requires to keep improving the onstage part of our business. There’s so much to do off stage it’s hard to keep growing as a performer, and that’s exactly why it’s so important to keep doing it.

The ‘act’ is the product we sell. Part of that includes jokes, but it’s also a mixture of all kinds of other intangibles from confidence to experience to presentation. It’s a developed persona wrapped up in a total package, and if it’s done correctly it should always evolve.

George Carlin is a perfect example. He had a 40 year career but was constantly evolving to the point of where it even changed his physical appearance. He started out with the suit and tie look and short hair, and evolved into the counterculture hippie wearing jeans and a t-shirt with long hair and a beard. His comedy evolved along with him. He kept growing.

I’m very much at that point myself, and I relish the challenge. I have more material than most comedians already, only because I made a point to keep working on it over the years while everything else in my life exploded around me. Focusing on comedy kept the bullet out of my mouth in some ways, but it also gave me something to do that I really enjoyed.

Comedy is FUN to me. It always has been. I can’t stand dealing with the club owners or the bookers or the brutal travel schedule or the sleazy motels, but the time onstage is what I live for. It makes up for all the other stuff, and if I’m going to sacrifice a ’normal’ life to get it I’m going to go about it correctly. Comedy is a craft, and it needs to be developed.

There are many aspects to that craft, onstage and off. Both are difficult. I’ve spent years which grew into decades learning the ropes onstage, and it didn’t come easy. Many nights I’d wonder if I made the right choice as I stood on the stage of some honky-tonk hell hole hundreds of miles from home hoping to hypnotize a handful of hooched up hillbillies.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but I did learn from it and now I’ve attained a level of expertise as a performer very few ever achieve. Why? Because I stayed with it a lot longer than most others would. Part of that is because of my love of the craft, the other is probably part stupidity. By all accounts I probably should have given this up years ago.

That being said, this is exactly why I need to keep growing. It would be easy to phone in my shows and focus on other things like I’ve seen a lot of other comics do. Unfortunately, some of those things they focused on were bitterness, booze or something else on the ugly list and it ended up destroying the act it took so many years of hard work to put in place.

I don’t think it has to be that way, and I’m going to do something about it. I never drank or did drugs, so that’s a huge minefield I avoided right there. Bitterness on the other hand has been a problem. It’s hard not to be bitter about things that are unfair in life, but who’s going to change that? The only thing any of us can do is become the best US, and let what happens after that happen. That’s where I’m sitting right now. I still can improve greatly.

A major part of that will be reworking my entire onstage act from top to bottom. Every single aspect of everything I do is up for review. It’s like totally remodeling a house that’s been lived in for 25 years. Over that time things wear out or break down and there’s a list of things to fix or improve to bring it back up to speed again. Plus, it’s good to refresh.

My act can use a total rework, and that’s not going to be easy. It’s a matter of busting up a lot of things that have been there for years, but also keeping some of the pillars in place to start rebuilding with a strong foundation. There has to be a well planned blueprint first.

My first 25 years in comedy were very unorganized. I didn’t have much of a battle plan at all other than to just get better on stage and stick it in the ass of everyone who bothered me. That was pretty stupid, especially the last part. Now, I’m not worried about what any other people think. I know where I want to go, and I hope I’m not too late to get there.

The first smart thing I’ve done is knowing what I want to do. I’ve never had that before. The second one will be doing my homework before I start. I’m going to go back in history and study guys before me and see what they did, both right and wrong. I’ve always been a student of the game, but now it’s time to dig even deeper and see what I can find to use.

Larry Wilde is a guy who published over fifty books about comedy from joke books to a classic called “Great Comedians Talk About Comedy”, which interviews a bunch of the biggest names of the 20th century from Bob Hope to Woody Allen to Johnny Carson and a lot more. Larry asks pointed questions and gets some amazing insights from the masters.

There are recordings of his interviews sold on a website called I have all of them and enjoyed every one. It’s fascinating for me to hear what the guys before me have to say about the craft, and it’s amazing to hear how much of it is timeless, even now.

Larry has his own website at and years ago we came into contact, even though I don’t remember exactly how. He’s always been very friendly and I do hear from him on occasion asking me about something comedy related. He’s what I consider a super student of the game, and that’s what I aspire to as well. He’s on top of his business.

He’s also a great entrepreneur, something I really need to learn. I contacted Larry about buying some of the recordings he made with more obscure but equally brilliantly talented comedians like Dick Gregory, Ed Wynn, George Jessel and Joey Bishop. I told him I was interested in buying out all he had and they came in the mail today. I can’t wait to listen.

The complete list besides the people I mentioned are Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Shelley Berman, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas, Maurice Chevalier, Jack Benny, George Burns and Jerry Seinfeld. Those are some heavy hitters and I’m sure I’ll learn from every one.

This is the kind of stuff most performers won’t do. One, it was an investment of money. Larry cut me a deal, but it still will cost a chunk of change not to mention the time it takes to listen, make notes and implement what I learned. But, it’s worth it. I‘ll really improve.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Big Odds And Bob Uecker

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee today for an appearance on The D-List radio show on ESPN 540 with Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I always love hanging out on the air and they give me walk on status to come in pretty much any time I want. I really appreciate that but I never want to abuse the privilege so I always try to have something to contribute when I’m on.

Today I didn’t have to do much at all, so I tried to insert a few quick lines and then stay out of the way. The whole Brett Favre situation was still the talk of the town and I let the guys take the show where they wanted. They were on a roll so I just sat back and listened. I cracked off a couple of halfway decent lines, but I didn’t want to force it so I laid low.

They have celebrity guests in on Tuesdays and today it was Brian Calhoun, a free agent NFL running back who played with the Detroit Lions from 2006-2008. He played college ball at both Colorado and Wisconsin and he went to high school in the Milwaukee area.

What a nice guy he is. He was very laid back and excellent on the air and he fit in really well with the show. I was fascinated with his stories on air and off of his experience as an NFL player, and all that it takes to get there. He had some pretty nasty injuries, including a ‘ripped quadriceps’. Yeowch. It made us all flinch, and that was just hearing about it.

I can’t imagine the pain of the actual injury, but that’s part of life as a professional. The guy is built like an absolute rock, and has giant hands that could probably twist my melon head off like a bottle cap. If anyone can recover from a ripped anything, I’d bet on Brian.

It occurred to me as I listened to the interview that the odds of being a household name and a genuine star at anything are way beyond astronomical. I mean, here’s a guy that has amazing athletic talent and was at the top of his class in high school and TWO colleges.

Still, he only gets drafted in the third round. ‘Only’, like that’s an insult. It isn’t, and it’s what made me think of just how rare it is to be a top five or ten first round draft choice in any major sport. Even after that, there’s no guarantee of success. A lot of people bust out.

Brian said he still wants to play in the NFL and I’m really rooting for him. He’s over his injuries and said he’s 100% and hopes his agent can land him a job somewhere. That also was a red flag when I heard it. Now he has to jump through all those hoops as well as the actual training and dedication it takes to be a player. Those guys are treated like cattle.

He also said he played on the Detroit Lions 0-16 team in 2008. Everyone made fun of it at the time, but nobody did today because we all realized just how much effort it takes for anyone to even make an NFL roster, much less win a championship, much less one game.

And, no offense to Brian at all, but now he’s gone. He’s only 25, but every year there’s a new crop of young bucks coming up from all over that want to take his job. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and I have nothing but respect for the guy. I hope he gets to return.

Another guy I have nothing but respect and admiration for is Bob Uecker. Today is his birthday and I still want to meet him in person before I take a stray bullet or crash my car again. He’s always been one of my very favorite comics, even though he’s not a standup.

The guy is just FUNNY. Period. He’s got ‘it’, and I’ve found him to be hilarious since I started listening to him do Brewer games on the radio with Merle Harmon as a kid. Then I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and realized he was using the boring parts of games to polish his bits for TV, and the Brewers were pretty bad to say the least.

At the time I had no idea how the process of comedy worked so I’d watch him rattle off stories I’d heard before on the radio, but they were trimmed down to a streamlined polish and flowed seamlessly with a smooth easy rhythm like he was just saying it off the top of his head. Johnny would go nuts and it felt kind of cool to see a local guy on national TV.

Bob Uecker is another example of the numbers game. He plays it up like he was a very poor player, but the truth is he made the major leagues in the early ‘60s when there were a lot fewer teams. He also lasted for quite a few years and played on a World Series team in ‘64 with St. Louis. There are a LOT of players who never came close to doing all that.

That being said, he still was never a star player. He’s light years ahead of the people on the street, but in the game he was just another guy. He made the most of what he could do with what he had, and then he moved on as crop after crop of new talent kept coming up.

Yes, he sure did find his niche as a broadcaster - so much so that he made Cooperstown. But how many other guys did he play with that went back to their hometown and found a dead end job and drifted off into obscurity? Probably a lot. The whole thing really blows my mind, and it actually puts me in a good space about what I’ve achieved in comedy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big comedy star. I’m not even a small to medium. I’m an above average performer just like Brian Calhoun and Bob Uecker are above average with what they chose to pursue. Both of them made the big time, and that’s no small task for a person in any competitive field like sports or entertainment. A precious few become stars.

I made it to the big time by getting on national TV, even if it was only for a few minutes at 1am. I did it, and it went well. I didn’t embarrass myself, or the network either. I could easily go on and do it again, and would love the opportunity just as Brian Calhoun wants to get another shot at the NFL. It’s not a matter of if he can do it, it’s will he get his shot?

I’m in the same boat in comedy. I could do an infinite number of appearances, but now it’s a matter of how and where will I get that shot? I don’t know, but it’s not out of line to think it COULD happen. Still, there’s no guarantee it will lead to becoming a big star.

The thing we all have to do is keep plugging and do the best we can do. It’s all a major roll of the dice, and odds are against everyone. Bob Uecker played them and won. Brian Calhoun and I are still hoping to hit our jackpot. Someone wins the lotteries, why not us?

Monday, January 25, 2010


Monday January 25th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m still buzzing from the delightful outcome of the whole Brett Favre interception situation yesterday. I got to savor it over and over on ESPN many times, and it just gets that much sweeter every time I watch it. Like a good P-Funk record, I never get sick of it. I know it shouldn’t make a bit of difference in my life, but it does.

It’s sick and twisted, but I think I’m getting as much or more enjoyment out of this than if the Packers had actually made it to the Super Bowl, and that scares me. The word for it is ’schadenfreude’, which is German and it means to rejoice in the misfortunes of others.

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t feel that way, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. I turned on both WTMJ and ESPN 540 in Milwaukee today and there were oodles of callers just as pleased as I was. I still felt a little sheepish for loving it so much, but not as bad as I did yesterday when it put me in a state of near euphoria. Why is this so powerful?

I really tried to figure that out all day. To me, Brett Favre represents all those jocks back in school who not only weren’t nice, but they got all the chicks too. Then, they mistreated them but that made the chicks want them more. I guess it’s also a younger brother thing.

He represents the big brother that gets to do what I wanted, but doesn’t appreciate how good he has it and ends up pissing it all away. That’s what he did to the Packers from my viewpoint and I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Then, he got TWO chances that most others don’t get and it got to be sickening. First it was the Jets, then the Viqueens.

I guess it was part jealousy and part envy and another part cold hard realization that my lottery ticket was never punched with the numbers Brett Favre got. Even though he blew it in the eyes of many, he’s still got a ton of supporters who stand by him no matter what. He’s a lightning rod for attention and opinion and that brings with it all the spoils of war.

There were still a few thick headed morons who called the radio stations today trying to defend everything this selfish hillbilly did and continues to do. He’s got a charisma I will never have, and few people ever will. He was blessed with the ability to play football in a way that captivates the masses, and it monopolizes the airwaves. I’ve grown weary of it.

I wish he would just go away, and hopefully this will make him do it. Even Jerry Agar, who I have known for twenty years, took it upon himself to expostulate his theory on why the loss wasn’t Brett Favre’s fault. I just nodded and smiled. He plays Mr. Big Time radio arguer of political points and he’s good at it, but not this time. Brett Favre blew this one.

Jerry sat and smugly defended how it was the fumbles of Adrian Peterson and blah blah blah until I just tuned him out and replayed the vision in my head and recharged myself to the euphoric place I was in most of the rest of the day. I don’t care about anything else but the fact that justice won out, and the high fallutin’ hillbilly has to take the brunt of this for the moment, and I couldn’t help but really enjoy every single solitary second of all of it.

OK, that’s great. Now what? My own life is in need of a major overhaul but here I’m all wigged out wasting what’s left of my youth thinking about some stupid ass football game. This is wasted energy, and I know it. I’ll bet nobody in Haiti cares even a little bit if some millionaire crybaby had his ego ruffled up by losing a game. They’ve got bigger issues.

I need to have bigger issues too. Football is entertainment, and I have to admit this was one of the most entertaining scenarios I’ve ever seen. But it’s over, or at least I need for it to be over with me. Brett Favre has all the resources he’ll ever need for the rest of his life, and so does his family. He’s a special talent, and very few will ever get to experience that.

Every kid dreams of playing sports or being an astronaut or a movie star or maybe even a comedian, but how many actually get to DO it? A whole lot less than dream of it, that’s an icy fact. I was never even close to being good enough to play any sport professionally, and that hurts to admit even now. No matter how long I live, that’s a dream that’s OVER.

Maybe that’s why this feels so good. Brett Favre’s dream is going to be over eventually and then he’ll just be another schmuck like the rest of us, no matter what he does. Yes, he may try broadcasting or fart around with coaching or some little gravy job someone surely will offer him, but it won’t be the same thrill as getting to be the king of all pro football.

The fact is, the guy had a world class life that millions only dream of. He’s human like the rest of us and however he handled himself is what he did. Maybe in future years he’ll regret it, maybe not. I don’t have anything personal against the guy, and just because I am glad he got knocked down a peg, none of this should capture my attention. Who cares?

I’ve made more than my own share of mistakes that I’ve got to deal with. I don’t have a huge mansion and more money than ten banks waiting for me to spend on any whim I can think of. I know that won’t guarantee happiness, but it sure could help a guy search for it.

On a much smaller scale, I’ve been blessed with the ability to do comedy that not many others ever get. I know hundreds of people that look at me jealously because I took a huge risk and went out and chased my own dreams. Maybe I can’t throw a football like a Brett Favre, but I doubt if he can go up and blow a room of strangers away at a comedy club.

I’ve had so many people tell me things over the years like “I’d give ANYTHING to be a comedian full time.” I thought that too when I started, but I actually did it. It wasn’t what I expected, but there are parts of it that are really great. In fact, it’s what keeps me alive in the difficult times. At least I’ve got that. Many people just drift through life totally empty.

I know in my heart I have a lot more entertainment inside of me. I’m a solid comic and a competent radio personality too. Maybe I won’t be able to thrill millions the way a Brett Favre or any other star athlete can, but I’m just not built for that. I never was. It would be like a squirrel trying to enter a cockfight. That’s not what they’re made for. I was made to entertain people, but not by throwing a football. As disappointing as that may be, I do still have some work to do on my own life and career. Football isn’t my canvas. It’s comedy.


Sunday January 24th, 2010 - Kenosha, WI

I know it doesn’t mean anything in the big scheme of life, but DAMN am I in a chipper mood knowing the Minnesota Vikings and their sub human orangutan fan base won’t get to have the pleasure of watching their hired hillbilly whore Brett Favre take their team to the Super Bowl at my expense. I had nothing to do with any of it, yet it still delights me.

This whole ugly mess is still a hot button for a lot of people, and I’m one of them. Here I am, slugging it out to pay my bills every month, but I still care that a multi million dollar cocky jock who cares nothing about me gets his comeuppance. But I do. And it’s sweet.

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to absolutely despise Muhammad Ali. She said she’d like to go in the ring herself and kick his ass, just to shut him up. She’d get so upset when he’d come on TV and brag about himself and I thought it was funny to watch how it made her react. He was doing his job, and Grandma didn’t even know it. That’s the idea.

Brett Favre is doing his job too. He’s managed to polarize MILLIONS across America’s heartland that either deify or despise him, and they all watched their TV today to see how the final chapter would turn out. Would he lead his purple devils to the dance or return to the bumbling bumpkin who broke more hearts in Wisconsin than triple bypass surgery?

I have to admit, I was hoping for not just a losing football score, but a heaping helping of humiliation piled on to make it REALLY burn. I wanted the fans of the Vikings to feel the pain I felt when Mr. Fuzz Face Favre threw his last Packer pass to a New York Giant.

This was a very ugly divorce and what man wouldn’t enjoy seeing his ex-wife get fat or do something that drove him nuts for years to her new man? Many might not admit it out loud, but it’s human nature. It may not be pleasant, but it’s real. Packer fans had to endure some hellacious pain over the years, even though he did provide us a lot of thrills as well.

We’d have put up with it had he behaved like a gentleman and gone about his business like a gentleman should. Instead, he put himself above the team and it all went south and the whole soap opera started playing itself out. He got what he thought he wanted, even if a lot of loyal Packer fans felt betrayed. I was one of them and I wanted to see him LOSE.

Well looky there, I got my wish! I turned on the TV during a commercial break during my Mothership Connection radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI just in time to see the New Orleans Saints kick the winning field goal. That made my night, but then the highlights rolled and I saw the interceptions, it made my year. It was football Christmas!

There are still all kinds of blind sheep that think he walks on water and will support him to the end no matter what he does, up to and including genocide and blasphemy. He’s got a brainwashed base of bonehead butt sniffers who fawn on his every move. Then there’s a whole other side of the coin who think he’s the Antichrist and wanted to see him go down in flames. We got our wish and I love it. But Brett is a millionaire. I’m not. Who wins?

The Power Of Nice

Saturday January 23rd, 2010 - Chicago, IL

Today I was surrounded by flat out nice people. All day. And all night too. What a treat it was, and I’m recording it here so next time I’m forced to deal with any one of a number of rotating pukes, maggots and wankers, I can look back and find some encouragement in the fact that there absolutely are a number of quality souls sprinkled throughout this life.

I think they’re sprinkled way too thinly, but they’re around and I cherish every one I get a chance to meet in person. They stand out like a rapper with an accordion and their life’s goal is to please others. Period. Nothing else matters. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life, even if I haven’t always achieved it. More often than not though, I’ve been able to nail it.

Nothing feels better than making someone else feel good, and those who know that will go to the ends of the earth to do it for as many others as possible. A few get recognized as celebrities, like Mother Theresa or Gandhi, but most good people live very low key lives.

I had lunch with Cara Carriveau today. We worked at The Loop back in 2004, and now she works at WTMX “The Mix” following Eric and Kathy‘s morning show. She also has a website at where she interviews mostly music related people, but occasionally a few others. I was her first interview when she started and it was a blast.

Cara is a total pro and works relentlessly on not only her career, but at being a mom too. She has two wonderful kids named Jeri and Sam, and they came to lunch too. I met them years ago when Cara had station staff parties at her house and they’re both just super kids.

People like Cara and her kids make life worth living. That whole staff at The Loop was loaded with top notch people from Spike Manton and Max Bumgardner who were on the morning show with me, to Cara who did middays, to Seaver who did afternoons, to Byrd at night, to Mark Zander overnights. We all got along and should all still be there today.

But, that’s only our opinion. Those intellectual gorillas at Emmis Broadcasting decided to blow us all out the door except Byrd. Byrd is a major league rock jock talent, nobody is disputing that. I’m glad he has a job and he deserves one, but so do the rest of that group.

Cara has bounced back nicely at the Mix and she still sounds like the big time talent she always has been. I know how hard she works at everything and was delighted to hear that she’s happier now than at any other job she’s ever had. That’s rare in radio. Good for her.

Tonight I did two more shows at Riddles and the entire staff there are unbelievably nice from top to bottom. Ken Stevens if the owner and it starts there and trickles down to Rick the manager and Patty the bartender to the wait staff and everyone else. The vibe radiates.

How can a person not want to cheer for a Cara Carriveau or a Ken Stevens or any other quality person to thinks of others and makes life better for everyone around them? These are people I want to not only be around more, but emulate as well. They‘re the real deal.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Opinionator

Friday January 22nd, 2010 - Alsip, IL

Even though I usually have strong opinions on any given topic, I never think they mean anything in the grand scheme of life. I’ve met a lot of people who think their opinion is of the utmost importance, and that the world is waiting to hear what oozes from their yap.

Not me. I’m just one guy swimming upstream in life, trying to survive day to day. I like to speak my mind, but rarely do I nail the opinion of the masses. I’ve always felt like I am on the wrong planet, and the older I get the more I want to go back to where I came from.

I’ll get my chance soon enough, and until then I’ll play out my remaining days trying to do the best I can with the tools I’ve been given. Youth is fading quickly, and I’m learning how amazing it was now that it’s leaving. I’m taking on a whole new perspective in life.

That being said, people keep asking me what I think about the Tonight Show situation with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and what I feel about Brett Favre. Why anybody would care what I think about either of those things is beyond me, but lots of people keep asking so I’ll gladly throw in my two cents. I know it means less than nothing, but here it comes.

As far as the Tonight Show goes, I couldn’t care less. I don’t watch any of those shows, but I think there are too many of them. Johnny was great, but it was only him. Now it’s a watered down mish mash of mediocrity, with a shortage of quality guests and content for anyone with an age or IQ over 35. Kanye West’s latest CD has zero interest in my world.

What interests me even less is watching Letterman and Leno fire verbal rockets at each other about what’s going on. Who cares? Not me. They’ve got their millions and I’m still trying to stay booked every week. I’d gladly take a $30 million buyout to go away forever.

Conan never captured my attention, even though I’ve heard he’s a decent guy. He’s my age, so that kind of makes me want to see him do well. When they start calling him old, it means my time is coming to an end too. I’m sorry the guy got put in this situation though. From all I’ve seen he’s taking it well, and I have to believe he’ll land himself a new gig.

If he doesn’t, he’ll have some money to tide him over so he can make up his mind what he wants to do next. That’s a nice problem to have, one I don’t have right now. I’m in the exact opposite situation. I have to find a gig each week to pay my bills so I can survive.

As for Brett Favre, I think he’s the antichrist. His jersey number should be 666 and that legion of purple zombies who cheer for that insidious team got exactly what they deserve. He’s an insincere lout who thinks only of himself, and he’s brainwashed millions of apes into believing he’s a team player. I think he’s a scum bag pig and I hope he gets diarrhea.

All that said, what do Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Brett Favre and me have in common? Absolutely nothing. They’re all household names and multi millionaire celebrities, and I’m a middle aged goof who tells jokes and lives in a basement. They win.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Thursday January 21st, 2010 - Alsip, IL

It never hurts to have a new place to work, especially in the Chicago area. Zanies is my home base for comedy club work, but they don’t have a club on the south side. There was a rinky dink room I used to work, but that wasn’t worth the drive. It never paid very well.

Chicago is a huge market and there are literally millions of people who might like to see a comedy show, but there are way too few clubs to serve them all. Zanies has been around forever but there’s a lot of territory that doesn’t have anything. The south side of Chicago has been wide open for a while now, and I’m glad to see someone has finally claimed it.

Riddles Comedy Club is where I’m working this week. They used to be open for a long time but the owner sold it and then it closed. They’ve reopened in a new location and the original owner is back in charge. The website is and the room is really gorgeous. It’s nice to be working for competent people who love comedy.

I only worked at their old location one time. I was driving to and fro from Milwaukee as I remember so I was probably working at 93QFM doing mornings. It was a long drive and at the time the shows ran from Tuesday through Saturday. That’s a lot of time on the road and I just never went back. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the room, I just had other options.

I’d heard the original owner Ken Stevens decided to reopen in a new location and he’s a good friend of Ken Sevara, one of Jerry’s Kidders. Ken Stevens asked Ken Sevara if there were any strong acts in the area he might be able to use that he may have overlooked and my name came up. I got a call from Ken Stevens and got a booking. That’s how it works.

I’m very grateful to get the work, and it taught me a lesson. I really do need to get better at keeping my name out there in front of potential bookers. I could have had tons of work through the years at the old club, but I just never went after it. Zanies has always been my home base in Chicago, but since there’s no south side location they’re fine with Riddles.

How many local weeks of work did I blow by not staying in touch over the years? I had as much road work as I wanted, so I guess I never thought about it. Ken is a very nice guy and I’m sure we would have gotten along great but it just didn’t work out that way. Now, with clubs closing and the economy the way it is, I’m going to be smart and stay in touch.

There are quite a few other places I’ve made the same mistake. I’ve either worked there in the past, or they know my name well enough for me to approach them and at least be in the mix of possible people to book in a fallout situation. I’ve been very lax at my duties of staying in touch with those who could possibly book me and it needs to stop immediately.

This is a wake up call. I need to start reconnecting with everyone and stay in touch on at least a semi regular basis. I hadn’t talked to Ken Stevens in about 20 years. That’s just not smart. Even if I didn’t work for him, I should have kept in touch. Who knows what I may have missed? This is yet another area of life in which I could stand a major improvement.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Waste Of Wednesday

Wednesday January 20th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

It’s coming up on three weeks into the new year and my whole schedule has completely jumped the tracks and run off course. I’m swinging in the breeze like a rusty gate and I’ve got to stop now and regroup immediately before I lose control of everything. I’m drifting.

It’s not like I haven’t done this before, but this is not what I planned for and I absolutely refuse to accept it. If I’m going to get anything done of any significance, I have to make a conscious effort to block my time and use it efficiently. I started the year off OK but then went off into my old ways and now I’m just letting the wind take me where it wants to go.

Today was a complete waste of time. Not good. I ended up sleeping late and that starts a day off in the wrong direction. I’ve been pretty good about popping out of bed early lately but today I flat out blew it. I don’t know why, and then when I woke up I still felt sleepy.

Emails have built back up to over 600, my bathroom is filthy, everything I own is piled up in disarray and I wouldn’t know where to find anything important if I really needed to track it down on short notice. In other words, I’m right back to ground zero all over again.

The fact is, things just take more time than planned on and that puts everything else off schedule and before you know it nothing gets done. Yesterday was a good example. I had a day I could have used to work on my mess, but I chose to go up to Milwaukee for lunch with Richard Halasz and then a trip to see the venue we’ll be doing a show on March 13th.

Did I have to do that? No, but I wanted to. But it wasn’t absolutely necessary. I need the discernment to determine what’s really important and what isn’t and then the discipline to execute and enforce it after I’ve made my decision. That’s a whole lot harder to get done than it is to say, but I’ve got to make an effort or I’m going to be out of time all the time.

Today I was asked to appear on some radio show in Chicago I’d never heard of to pump up our play “You’re On The Air”. In theory, that was great. In reality, it was a completely wasted trip to Chicago and several hours of time I’ll never get back. I’m sorry I took time out of my schedule to do it, and it didn’t do any good for anyone. It was a mistake to go.

The only good thing was meeting the lady who hosted the show. Her name is Maureen O’Looney, and I’m not nearly clever enough to make that up. She’s almost 90 from what the engineer guy told me, and she speaks like she’s auditioning for a Lucky Charms spot.

She was an absolute sweetheart of a person, but as far as promoting our show it was one of the biggest wasted trips I’ve ever made. This was on a brokered AM station and I don’t think there were many listeners who would want to see our show. I tried to fake patience.

I can’t keep doing distracting things like this. It takes hours out of my day that I should and could be doing some productive things. No offense to Maureen, but I’ve got a lot of things brewing and need to keep stirring the kettle. I’m angry at myself. This was a waste.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back To Milwaukee I Go

Tuesday January 19th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

Never say never. There was a time when I could not WAIT to escape my home town of Milwaukee, WI. It was my life’s mission. Even as a kid, I knew I didn’t want to live there very long and as soon as I could leave, I hopped on the first Greyhound bus out of town.

I’ll never forget it. I was working at a restaurant called “Rustler Steak House” across the street from the Southgate Mall on South 27th Street in 1982. The Brewers had just lost the World Series and the nasty cold of a Wisconsin December with Christmas coming wasn’t an exciting prospect for happiness so I left my job in mid shift and bought the bus ticket.

I was 19 at the time and not sure what life was about, but I did know I wanted to live it anywhere but Milwaukee. Warm weather was the first target but all I could afford to buy with the money I’d saved was a ticket to Dallas, TX. I don’t know why I picked Dallas of all places, but I did. Maybe it was because I could afford a round trip ticket, which I got.

That trip was one of the best things I ever did. It was the first of countless cross country adventures I’d have over the next almost thirty years and at the time it took a lot of guts to chuck everything and DO something exciting. I thought I’d planned for it but I did a poor job and ended up having to use that return ticket a day after I got there. I wasn’t ready yet.

Coming back to Milwaukee was pure torture. It was cold and everyone I knew made fun of me for ‘failing’ in my bid to start a new life somewhere. I hadn’t failed, I just needed to learn a few more things which I eventually did. But at the time, I was feeling pretty low.

I went back to grovel for my job back at the Rustler Steak House but they wouldn’t give it to me right away. They wanted to ‘teach me a lesson’ and I guess they did. It taught me to rely on myself, which I’ve had to do since. Then I remember getting my job back after a while and then the restaurant closed and went out of business, leaving us all dangling.

I bounced around several other horrific low paying dead end jobs from restaurants to car dealerships as a lot boy to anything else I could do to survive. My grandparents raised me but my grandfather had died and that threw the family into a full scale war by that time.

It was all I could do to support myself then, much less try for college. I was all alone in a cold ugly world, and that world was Milwaukee at the time. I found it to be an alcoholic cesspool of lowlife dysfunctional idiots who weren’t interested in bettering themselves.

They had no ambition to rise above anything other than their boring no brainer factory jobs, their bowling teams, and their beer. LOTS of beer. Milwaukeeans sure love to suck down their suds, and with most it’s a way of life. I never drank, so I never fit in either.

Over the next few years, I kept struggling to survive but eventually discovered standup comedy as a means to get me out of town. It was a rocky start, but I stayed with it and am SO glad I did. Comedy is what gave me hope and what kept me from swallowing a bullet.

As soon as I was able to leave Milwaukee, I did. I had a horrible family life, didn’t like the whole booze soaked mindset that embraced mediocrity, had no wife and kids to hold me back and knew the entertainment scene was pathetic to the point of embarrassment so I moved to Chicago in the mid ‘80s. I don’t remember the exact year, but it was fantastic.

It’s amazing how 90 miles on a map can be 90 million light years in life. Chicago had a comedy scene and I quickly became part of it and cut my teeth as an entertainer. I learned my craft and enjoyed my life and knew the first week I was there I made the right choice.

Then as life opened up, I took some chances and started in radio and that’s when things started to get all cloudy and convoluted. I ended up back in Milwaukee at 93QFM later on but that ended in total disaster. Still, something inside yearned to be a star there. I wanted to prove to those who doubted that I was worth something after all, especially my father.

It’s a common story in show business and life in general. We all want to gain approval from family, friends, lovers or whomever else we feel we need to impress. I admit that my main focus was on ‘sticking it’ to everyone, but what a waste of time all of that is. I know it now, but I hadn’t learned that then. I wasted a lot of time and caused myself much pain.

Who needs any of that? I’ve survived until now and although I made a ton of mistakes I regret horribly, I’m still in the game and in a much better mindset. I’ve learned a lot and it shows. Supposedly we’re here on Earth to learn lessons. Well, I’ve earned my doctorate.

All that being said, I drove up to Milwaukee today to meet with Richard Halasz. He’s a comedian friend I’ve known over 25 years, and he’s now promoting some shows as well. I told Richard about my one man show about growing up in Milwaukee and he absolutely loved the concept. He’s got me booked in Saukville at the Railroad Station on March 13.

Granted, Saukville is not where I pictured this show to be, but he says the people came out and supported shows he’s done out there with Will Durst and wanted to try something else. I’m willing to give it a shot so we went out there today to look at the room. I looked it over and met one of the owners and everyone seemed like nice people so we’ll let it rip.

If you’d told the clueless angry hurt kid who got on that bus in 1982 he’d be looking to return to Milwaukee to do shows, he’d have flipped you off and walked away. Now, it’s a whole new adventure and I’m really looking forward to it. I know I can pull this off for an audience that grew up in the same place I did. The difference is, I’m able to accept it now.

Milwaukee is what it is, but it sure is unique. After seeing everywhere else in America, I have a whole different perspective now. That time in my life would have been horrible no matter where I lived. It took many years to see that, but I have. I’ve matured greatly.

I doubt if I’ll ever live in Milwaukee again, but I’m close enough to be able to pull this off. I’m going to craft a show about my hometown and share it with others who grew up where I did. I’ll turn a negative into a positive and also make a few bucks for my trouble.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back To The Trenches

Monday January 18th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

Today the harsh reality sank in that I’d left a lot of things undone as I prepared to do the stage play last weekend, and now I’ve got an intimidating mountain of work to do to get it back down to a manageable level. I put everything I had into the play and now it‘s over. If it paid at least a little I wouldn‘t be concerned, but everything we made went to expenses.

I knew it would be a building process going in, but it took even more of an effort to pull this off than I thought, and now everything else is in disarray. I haven’t made any booking inquiries in way too long, and I also had intended to start the process of printing my CD.

The master is finally done, but it’s still sitting around because I haven’t been able to put any time into it to get the cover and liner notes finished and get them actually printed. I’m going to use my friend Greg Phelps in Indianapolis and he’s been extremely patient but it needs to get DONE. I’ve wasted a ton of opportunities to sell them and that’s not good.

I also hope to get a shopping cart on my website so I can sell them there too. That could and should have been done a long time ago, but it wasn’t. I blame myself. There’s only so much time in a day and so much any one person can do, and I’ve fallen behind on a lot of things I assumed I’d have been able to finish by now. I’m ashamed and embarrassed by it.

This is why having a plan with goals is so important. Making things happen in steps is a great way to avoid getting too far off track, and that’s where I’m headed right now. I have to be more careful in where I focus all my energy and at least back myself up a little bit.

Weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly goals and longer should be in place so I can handle a detour like this play once in a while and not get as wiped out as this has done. I have over 600 emails I’ve fallen behind and haven’t been putting in my time reading like I intended.

I’ve been exercising semi regularly, but that’s fallen off for the weekend as I got myself all wrapped up in the play. None of this is anything I’m proud of, but it’s how it’s worked out so I’m behind honest with myself. The cost of getting this play up and running was an enormous one. Even if it wasn’t an outlay of cash, it sure came in and took over my life.

Now it’s gone, at least for a while. I have some work this week and next, and then it’s a new month already. I have to get myself back on track for comedy bookings and also start working on my one man Milwaukee show. That’s something I can control and I really am excited to get that going. I see exactly what I want to do, now I have to execute that plan.

Uranus Factory Outlet needs to become reality as does the next level of comedy classes. I love all these projects, but time management is the old nemesis of the new year. It’s still a battle to find time to do all the things I need and want to do. I’m stretching it pretty thin.

Tonight I was back at Zanies in Chicago hosting the Rising Star Showcase. It was good to get back on stage doing standup again. I’ve got a lot of work to do, time to get started.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fun And Foresight

Sunday January 17th, 2010 - Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Back for a little hair of the dog that bit us. Last night was a major high and a chance for us to enjoy the sweet fruits of a lot of labor, and we did. After the show we went out for a fantastic meal at a place called Leona’s, which is a chain in the Chicago area. The food is outstanding, but we’d have had just as much fun at Wendy’s. This was about the people.

We sat around and enjoyed each other’s company and buzzed about how much fun this whole project was. Everything fell together exactly how it was supposed to, and that’s not what I’ve been used to in life. Six months ago we had a concept. Now it’s an actual show.

It took major effort from the group, but it was the right effort. The combination of what we brought to the table as the Kidders was the comedy aspect. Jerry brought along a radio outlet and Vicki Quade helped us develop our concept into a play format. We couldn’t do any of this without all these ingredients, and we know it. For once, things fell into place.

Last night was the launch, and it was a good one. Nobody made a fortune and we didn’t set the theater world on it’s ear - but we did DO this. Last night was our night to enjoy the thrill of all this coming together, but that’s over now. As great as it was, we had to return to the Beverly Arts Center today for a matinee performance at 2pm. Time to do it again.

It seemed almost surreal to be right back there so soon after our big night. By the time I dropped Jerry off it was after 2am and he suggested I just sleep on his couch because we needed to get back so soon, so I did. It saved a lot of time and driving but we still had our hands full getting up and showered and headed right back south for another performance.

The audience was again very receptive and we were actually a lot looser as a group. We knew our cues from doing it last night, but this time we had some technical glitches. I had my microphone go out for two of my characters and that threw us all off stride. I covered for it and projected loudly, but it was still a hassle we didn’t expect. Welcome to theater.

This is a whole new experience and there is much to learn. Some of the costume change situations were a little awkward too. None of us are used to that as standup comics, so we struggled a bit with the timing of it all. The first show Ken Sevara had an issue with it and today I did. I had a sleeve turn inside out on a jacket and I’ll be damned if I could fix it.

It’s like a pit crew in a car race. A lot has to be done in a limited time and if one thing is out of place, it screws everything up. I could NOT get that sleeve to pop back in, and that caused me to rip my microphone wire out of the socket and off of the unit that was on my pants. I stuck the unit in my pocket and went on stage to do my bit. I had no time to spare.

Nobody in the audience cared, and actually it was a good learning experience for us all. I have to believe this is all part of live theater, and the bugs will get worked out the more times we do this. We all agreed that standup comedy is THE best performing experience of them all. All we do is show up and talk. Still, nobody regretted doing the play. It’s fun.

Too bad fun doesn’t pay any bills. If it did, I’d make Donald Trump look like a vagrant. I’ve done fun projects my whole life. Once in a while I’ll squeeze a couple of stray bucks loose, but I’ve never come close to hitting the mother lode. I do want to experience that.

I read recently where my funk hero George Clinton’s mother passed away and he didn’t have enough money to pay for her funeral. That was a real wakeup call. George is now 68 years old and should be living the life of the superstar he is, but he’s still out touring so he can pay bills just to survive. That’s not right, and I sure as hell don’t want that to be me.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun, but smart financial planning has got to be a part of the mix at some point. I’m to that point, and if I don’t watch myself I’ll be in the same boat as George Clinton and so many others who either got ripped off or just didn’t plan.

From what I read, George was allegedly ripped off by people who were supposed to put his financial affairs in order after a bankruptcy in 1984. That was after his first big heyday but he would come back and have another big run when rap music sampled his big songs.

By all accounts he should be extremely rich, but apparently he isn’t. He truly is a legend in his field, and that’s even scarier. I’m far from legendary in my field and never had even close to the impact George did. If he’s broke and used up, what’s in store for me? I better learn to get my finances straight so when money ever does start rolling, I’ll be prepared.

As fun as doing this play was, I have no idea how long I’ll be involved in it. Fun is fun, but to really do this right it will take paying dues and a total commitment from all of us to keep going in the same direction. It’s like a band, and that’s what scares me. Bands break up all the time and a group of people have a lot more chance to clash than an individual.

I’ll be the first one to admit I have trust issues, and I’ve brought this up to the group. I’ll be a dented can my whole life, and in addition to that I’m a creative control freak. I like to do things the way I like to do them, and I think I’ve earned that right. Getting voted down in a group situation will only last so long with me, and I know it. I am creatively selfish.

I think that’s necessary to be good, and I’ve told this to the other guys. Jerry is fine with it, but I’m not so sure about the other guys. They say they are, but when money flows who knows what bumps in the road will turn into mountains? I don’t want any clashes to come out of nowhere but it’s almost inevitable in a group situation. I want to prepare for it now.

In reality, we’re all too old to put a lot of time and effort into this for years to make it an industry like a Rob Becker did with his play “Defending The Caveman”. He is a marketer like I’ve never seen, and I respect the hell out of what he did with that show. Vicki Quade is brilliant in her own right and has marketed her shows very well also. We need that too.

Now is when the real work starts. We had our fun for a weekend, but now it’s time for a review of everything and see where we all stand. Will we take it farther? Who knows, but even if we don’t just to get it this far was an electrifying experience. I’m delighted I did it.

Opening Night Fever

Saturday January 16th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

Tonight was the big debut performance of our play “You’re On The Air” at the Beverly Arts Center and we all agreed it was a smashing success. We’ve been working for months for this night and it’s here and gone. Nobody can take this away from us now - we did it!

What an absolute blast it was to pull this off in front of a live audience. Was it sold out? Were people camping out for tickets like Grateful Dead fans? Were tour buses coming in from the hinterlands packed with rabid followers? Frankly, we’re not ready for that yet.

This was a first time run through in front of a live audience and that was enough to keep us more than occupied the entire evening. We’re all new at this and we’re working out the bugs. I’ve read that the smart restaurants never have their grand opening on the first night they’re open. They make sure they have the details worked out first, THEN they let it rip.

That’s exactly what we’re doing, and it worked out perfectly. We had a very respectable crowd and it wasn’t just our friends and family. We had fans that came especially to show support, and we couldn’t be more grateful. We felt like stars, and who wouldn’t love that for a first time doing something? The audience was right there from start to the very end.

We’ve got three especially enthusiastic fans that have supported us from back when we were on WLS and continue to show up no matter what we do. We love all three but we’d never be able to rank them in order because they’re all fantastic people in their own way.

One is named John Vass. He has been a huge supporter of Jerry’s on the air to the point of building a fan page on Facebook. Another is Fard Muhammad, (pronounced Fa-ROD) who always shows up to see us and tells all his friends how funny we are. How flattering.

The one who stole the show this time was Shoshana Weissmann. She’s a teenager who lives in New York and heard Jerry when he was on WABC and became a huge fan. She’s been a supporter of the Kidders too, and not only is she a sweetheart she’s brilliant to the point of genius. For her birthday she asked her father to bring her to Chicago to see us.

How amazing is that? Shoshana and her father came by train and were there to see our debut performance. Before the show she came back stage and met us all and got pictures. She was shaking like she was meeting the Beatles, and we all made her feel special, and she is. We love John and Fard and all our fans, but how many come from New York?

This was just a wonderful night all around. The people who were there were there to see US, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted as an entertainer. We gave them our best, and it really was a solid show. We’ve got a few things to work out, but nothing big. We’re on target.

How many people in life get a chance as adults to do something this much fun? Not too many, and we all knew it. Problems can wait, this was our big night to go out and pretend to be thespians. We all savored the laughs and applause and it was a magnificent evening.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Love And Haiti

Friday January 15th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

Another full day of play practice today, but that wasn’t really what’s on my mind. We’ll be able to pull this off when the curtain goes up tomorrow night. We’ve all put in a ton of time and effort getting this project to this point and I’m really pleased with how it’s come so far in a relatively short time. It doesn’t suck, and we’re not going to embarrass anyone.

Our lines are pretty much down by now, but today we did a full dress rehearsal to get an exact feel of how much time we have for costume changes and where we each need to be on stage during each of our scenes. We all blew some technical aspects, but that’s why we rehearse. Nobody did anything major, and we all knew right away where we screwed up.

Dale Irvin was very nice to have driven down to watch and support us and he had some very helpful notes, as did Vicki Quade. Vicki is a pro and has all kinds of productions up and running at any given time and she’s been absolutely essential to getting this all going.

Everyone we’ve been in contact with has added to the mix with this whole project. It’s really been a team effort all the way, and a whole lot of fun too. We’ve got costumes and a stage setup and the material flows very well from all of us. Mostly that’s because we’ve all been on stage before. This is our standup material presented in a much different way.

Vicki got us some nice articles in a few of the south side newspapers and that’s another reason we’re all glad to be working with her. She’s done this before, and knows what the papers want. We’ve done it too, but not in the theater scene. We’re thrilled about it all.

The hardest part of the work is over now. We went from idea to page to stage and today we all walked out of there knowing we will come back tomorrow and give a show we can all be proud of. No matter how many or few show up, they’re not going to get cheated out of their money and that’s all we can ask for. We hope they enjoy it, but that’s up to them.

The Beverly Arts Center is a gorgeous facility and we’re loving it more and more as we rehearse there. There’s a guy named Peter who’s helped with lighting and sound cues who has been super easy to work with as have everyone else we’ve met there. Their website is and they’ve got other great shows besides us. Check them out.

What’s really bugging me is what’s next? I really didn’t plan on this play taking up this much of my time and energy, and I’m already slipping behind on my plans for everything else I’m trying to get done in the new year. I’ll have to make some tough decisions on my next moves so I can get back on track. The play is up and running and out of our hands.

Vicki will act as our agent and either book us or not. That’s what she does, and she’s as good at it as anyone I’ve been around so who knows? Maybe we’ll be working a lot but if we don’t, I need to have a backup plan. Actually, THIS was my backup plan. I decided to invest the time with the Kidders to make this happen so we’d have something to possibly sell to earn some extra money, and I’ll be dipped in spit if we didn’t pull that off exactly.

That’s not what I was thinking about most of the day though. This whole Haiti situation is really bothering me. I feel SO sorry for the people who are suffering down there. I don’t care what color they are or if they drink goat’s blood or whatever they allegedly do, it just makes me sick that so many people have to go through something as horrific as they did.

What really makes it worse is that they were suffering in the first place. I can remember when I worked in Miami a dozen years ago how everyone always made fun of the Haitian people. They were the Polocks of the Caribbean, and everyone told Haitian jokes instead.

I love jokes as much as anyone, and the sicker and meaner the better. But those are just JOKES. Deep inside, I have to believe any human soul with kindness knows when to stop kidding and start showing compassion. This is that time. Those people are in a big hurt.

I’m not going to go off on any big rants or complain about politics or anything else I am not qualified to do. I’m a political idiot and I admit it. Of course I have opinions, but who said that means I know what I’m talking about? I spout my mouth off with what I feel, but nobody needs to hear that now. What needs to happen is a little help for our humankind.

When Katrina happened, it got ugly and political and everyone pointed fingers and it’s a scar on our country to this day. My opinions don’t matter about that either, but it seems to me there could have been a much better solution on all sides in that mess. Let’s hope that this doesn’t wind up as political ammunition. No matter who’s in charge, HELP THEM.

I wish I could do something to help, but what? I’m struggling to survive myself. I guess I could send a few bucks somewhere, but how do I know it would do any good? This is an opportune time for scammers unfortunately, and I’m sure they’ll be coming out very soon to prey on people like me who want to at least make an effort to show some compassion.

It’s my job to make jokes and poke holes in the insanity of life, but there’s not one thing funny about thousands of people losing their lives in a few seconds. And why them? Why is it all so random? Those people were already dirt poor, now this? Who’s in charge here?

I can piss and moan and complain with the best of them but this is not a time to do that. I have no problems at all compared to people in Haiti who have piles of rubble where the house they lived in used to be. All I have to worry about are my stupid little lines for my stupid little play that reflects my stupid little life. I may have problems, but not like that.

I also stopped to see a woman I’m very fond of, and that was a total disaster too. I’d not seen her in a while and wanted to reconnect. We’d gone out to dinner a few times and had what I thought was a good time but then she invites me over tonight and tells me how she has a new guy she’s seeing and how great he is. Why do women do that? I felt like an ass.

There must have been some crossed signals or something so I got in my car and deleted her number from my phone. I would have been pissed if I hadn’t thought of the people in Haiti who are sleeping on rubble tonight. My dating life really doesn’t matter very much.

Acting Like An Actor

Thursday January 14th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

With all the over the top, underfinanced, whacked out, half baked crazy schemes I have been involved in so far in my life, it’s a wonder I don’t have more acting experience. I’ve tried standup comedy, radio, pro wrestling promotion, sports card dealing and other goofy stunts that would have made Lucy and Ralph Kramden wince, but I’ve left acting alone.

Part of the reason is that I respect it as a craft. Anyone has to devote a lifetime to it to be truly skilled, just as in any other craft. Acting is no different than comedy or music or any other craft in that regard, and I was lucky enough to discover comedy early enough on so I devoted my energy to that. It scratched my creative itch and I never needed to be an actor.

That being said, I’ve filmed a part in a movie and am appearing in a play all in the same week. How strange. Up until now my acting experience has been painfully low. Last year I was in a short scene in a film that was directed by my high school friend Bob Richards’ son Kyle, but that was a last minute thing. He did me a favor and allowed me to do a part.

Before that, I was an extra in the movie “While You Were Sleeping”. I was in an actual scene with Sandra Bullock, and I played a mailman of all things. It didn’t take any acting talent to dress in a postal uniform and push a mail cart down the street. The real challenge was not trying to hit on Sandra Bullock as we stood around almost an hour, ten feet apart.

They told us as extras we weren’t supposed to approach the stars for any reason. I guess I can see that, but in my case it was ridiculous. It was filmed in winter and it was about as cold as I can ever remember, and in fact too cold to snow. They needed snow in the scene so they brought in a fake snow machine to fill in the set, and that took just over an hour.

There we were, Sandra Bullock and me, just feet apart. She stood there and for the life of me, I could NOT get her to look my way and say hello. She looked up, around, over at the snow machine, everywhere but in my direction. After a few minutes it got to be funny.

Usually I’m a pretty good schmoozer and can strike up small talk with most anyone, but not this time. Sandra was not a huge star then, but I love brunettes and I would have loved to at least be able to test my flirting skills on a cold day when there was nothing else to do but stand there and hope my testicles would return by spring. She never even said hello.

I’ve heard since that she’s a very nice person and who knows why she didn’t say hi to a lowly extra, but all these years later I haven’t forgotten it. That pretty much ended dreams I may have had to be in movies, but I really never did. All I ever wanted to be was a solid funny comedian. That’s all that mattered to me. I couldn’t care less if I was a good actor.

Now, it’s a little different. I had fun doing Kyle Richards’ movie and even more doing a few scenes with my friend Lou Rugani in “Dead Air” yesterday. Plus, there was an actress named Tierza Scaccia who was not only really good looking and talented, she actually did speak to me both on camera and off. What a great name that is, too. I hope she hits it big.

I’d love nothing more than to show up at the Oscars with Tierza on my arm and moon Sandra Bullock. Thoughts like this are probably why I’m not only not an actor, but still a single comedian in my 40s. I’ve always been prone to doing things on the maverick side, and the masses just aren’t ready for that yet. Sandra Bullock did things right, good for her.

Actually, I’m glad I chose standup comedy over acting. I suppose I could have done the ‘actor/comedian’ route, but that usually means ‘neither/nor’. No matter how many breaks that didn’t go my way, the fact remains that I have paid my dues and am a solid comedian and NOBODY can ever buy that. It has to be earned, just like the skills of a master actor.

My problem with acting is, I have to be someone else all the time. I guess that’s fun for some people, but I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. It never appealed to me to have to create a new persona over and over again as it takes to be a successful actor. I was fine with shining up the one I had doing comedy onstage. It’s a personal choice for all of us.

Many famous actors kind of just play themselves over and over. Adam Sandler is pretty much the same guy in all his movies as is Martin Lawrence or Eddie Murphy or a flock of other people who didn’t start out as standups. Does Chuck Norris have stage chops? What about Stallone or Arnold? None of these people are what I’d call craftsman. Would you?

Writing is another craft that looks easy and lots of people aspire to become. That takes a lot of discipline and effort too, but who’s willing to put it in? Not many. Those that do are quite rare, and even rarer are those who put in the effort and have real talent to go with it.

I’ve never considered myself a writer either, BUT - I’ve managed to produce an entry in this diary every single day since March 14th, 2006. Does that mean I’m a GOOD one? No, but it does mean I’m a writer to some degree just because I’ve kept cranking out the pages day after day after day. I may still stink, but I stink less now just because I kept doing it.

Acting is the same way. I bet there are ten times as many unknown mediocre Caucasian wannabes in Hollywood and all over who want to be actors, just as I’ve wanted to get into comedy. I paid my dues and chased the dream my whole life, just as I would’ve done had I chose to be an actor. The hard work requirement doesn’t change no matter the craft.

It was a lot of fun to be in the movie yesterday, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m some hidden gem that Hollywood is waiting for. If I really want to pursue it I need to be around it and study it. Acting classes wouldn’t hurt, and probably a few books as well. I don’t have time for all that right now, nor do I want to get involved in a whole new gig.

I love comedy, even though it’s an insane business. What, and acting isn’t? It’s a crazy world all around, so I’m glad I chose what I did. Comedy is the best there is, but that’s my opinion. Too bad, as that’s the only one I care about. No offense to actors, comedy is best.

Still, we’re going to have fun with “You’re On The Air” at The Beverly Arts Center this weekend. We had a dress rehearsal today and I had to act like an actor. I hope I fool them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Hectic Day Off

Wednesday January 13th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Today was supposed to be my only day off this week, but I ended up putting in a sixteen hour work day. How did that happen? I’m about ready to drop from exhaustion but I have to be right back up tomorrow morning to pick up Jerry Agar and drive to the Beverly Arts Center to begin final rehearsals for our play “You’re On The Air“. I’m running on fumes.

The new car smell of 2010 has worn off and now it’s just another year. Two weeks of it are gone already, and I feel myself getting totally overwhelmed. I’m in this play way over what I thought it would be, and fun or not it’s draining all my free time. I didn’t expect it to be this all inclusive, but it is. Today I went to Milwaukee to scour some thrift stores.

I know thrift stores very well, and can usually find what I need if I look hard enough for it. Usually I look for books or audio programs, but not today. I was trying to find costume pieces to go with the characters I play and it was a real challenge. I did it on Monday with Chicago junk shops and today I covered as many in Milwaukee as I could. It was a chore.

I know my way around Milwaukee and it’s thrift circuit quite well, but spending the day doing it is an energy drainer. I walked up and down row after row of junk seeing if I could find anything that jumped out at me that would fit into the show. That takes concentration and determination to keep focused but I hung in there and did it. This is our big weekend.

I was exhausted after that but I needed to get to Gateway Tech in Kenosha to appear in the film “Dead Air” by Mark Gumbinger. He’s the director and co-writer and we’ve had him on our WLIP Mothership Connection radio show a few times. He’s been asking me to be in a film for a while now, and today was the day. It’s only my second movie role.

Mark has done a lot of directing of both feature films and documentaries and he’s a real pro. The schedule changed a couple of times, which is to be expected. He’s trying to get a big project done on a small budget, and if anyone can relate to that math problem, it’s me.

I was running a little late, but so was the shoot. That’s also to be expected. I had a much bigger part than I imagined, and quite frankly I hadn’t memorized any lines. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I just showed up willing to do what I needed to do. We ended up doing quite a bit of filming and I didn’t get out of there until almost midnight, but it went well.

I played a ‘stern but likeable’ radio station manager. Do any of those exist? I would bet I’d see a two headed albino leprechaun with webbed feet riding a unicorn before I’d see a ‘stern but likeable’ radio station manager. That was a challenge, but I think I pulled it off.
Mark was very easy to work with and seemed happy with what we did. I’m glad I did it.

This is all a lot of unexpected effort I didn’t expect to be putting in, but I think it’s very worthwhile so I’m doing it anyway. It’s like a quarterback calling an audible at the line of scrimmage when the defense changes. I have an opportunity to gain some experience and learn different things so I’m investing time and energy while the situations are available.

Working At Our Play

Tuesday January 12th, 2010 - Cary, IL

This ‘play’ stuff is anything but. We’ve worked harder as a group on this one project for no guaranteed return than just about anything else I can ever remember doing. This isn’t a play, this is a WORK - and lots of it. I’m learning a lot and having fun, but it’s an effort.

Even though we’re all basically doing bits from our comedy acts, they’ve been divided up into chunks and spread out over the show in the form of characters which we each are working to bring to life. We’ve all done our material as standup comedy. This is different.

Since we’re doing a show about talk radio, the characters we are playing will either be a live in studio guest with Jerry, or a caller. Each of us is playing several characters and it’s a real challenge to define each one clearly with just a jacket, wig, hat or some sunglasses.

We’ve been gradually putting it all together, and everyone sees the mammoth effort that it has taken to get even this far. We haven’t even done our first real show yet and we have already updated and rewritten and improved the whole show countless times. We improve and upgrade something absolutely every time we get together, and nobody thinks it sucks.

We’re all professional entertainers and have been on stage or in front of a live mike for a lifetime. We won’t freeze up and draw a total blank, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be blowing lines and/or forgetting cues. That’s why we’re working so hard to get it smooth.

Vicki Quade has been a real help in guiding us in a theatrical direction. She has a lot of experience in not only putting plays together, but getting them up and running in theaters. I really don’t think we could have gotten close to this far without her, and everyone in the group knows it. This truly has been a group effort and everyone involved has had a part.

We went through another rehearsal at Jerry’s house today, but mostly it was about what each of us was wearing for each scene and where we’d be standing on stage. We did run a few scenes, but not the actual dialogue from top to bottom. We only did a few transitions.

I for one am absolutely sick of my lines by now. I’ll be fine once an audience is there to hear them, but reciting them to each other is a complete drag. I like to be fresh and wing it whenever I can, but the other guys are much more regimented. I have to be very respectful of that, and I try to be even though it’s torture for me. This is a team effort, not my show.

I’ve always read where Jackie Gleason never liked to rehearse for “The Honeymooners“ and just went out and riffed it. He’d apparently drive the rest of the crew nuts, and I never wanted to do that even though I do enjoy working fresh and completely in the moment.

If nothing else, one thing I do have is a new perspective on just how difficult this whole entertainment thing is, at least to pull off correctly. Standup is supposed to be the hardest, but all of us are experienced in it so we can handle that. Doing this play was hard, but we all rolled up our sleeves and put in our time. I sure hope the audience likes it. We’ll see.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last Minute Cancellations

Monday January 11th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

One of the worst situations to deal with as an entertainer is the last minute cancellation. It happens to all of us, and it’s an absolute killer. Besides having a check bounce, I’d have to say it’s a close second on the list of least favorite things. Still, it’s a sad reality of life.

Outsiders have no clue how we go about getting bookings. I get asked all the time about it and most people assume we have some magic ‘agent’ who sends on a ‘circuit’ that’s all mapped out according to routing and it all just works out for every comedian in America.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Booking gigs is a chore, and most comics really despise it, at least the good ones. We want to be on stage getting adulation from strangers, not trying to convince some bar slug we’re funnier than the last group of no names he had at his hell hole last week. Booking shows is sales, plain and simple - and sales is HARD.

Comedy is hard too, but most people aren’t good at both. I know I never was. I couldn’t stand the booking process, but I kept with it because I wanted the stage time. No, I needed it. It’s the drug on which all performers are hooked, and one way or another we all put our own method of finding work together. There’s no real right way to do it. It’s a crapshoot.

Some bookers like certain acts, and that’s just how it is. Some acts work better in places than others. I was never a college act for example. Even when I was that age, I never hit it off as a rule and I knew it. I was able to handle club crowds quite well, so that’s where all of my energy was focused. I came up the ranks and paid my dues and became a headliner.

Now comedy clubs are fading out, or at least the good paying ones. There are WAY too many bad comics who are willing to work for low pay that clog the toilet and drive down the price. They’re bastardizing the business but that’s how it goes. It looks easy and a lot of people want to try comedy so they do. Guys like me who have paid dues get the shaft.

I was booked in Fond Du Lac, WI February 6th at some yacht club. I had no idea a yacht existed in Fond Du Lac much less a whole club, but apparently they are now having some comedy shows occasionally. I was booked by another comedian I’ve known for 25 years.

I had the date on my calendar, but today I get a call out of the blue telling me the date is cancelled because they decided to go with another act who’s local. Now I’m screwed, and it’s less than a month out. There was no written contract, so all I can do is try to replace it.

Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but in a perfect world the yacht club would do one of two things: one - pay me out. I don’t care if they want to use the local guy, but I reserved that date through the booker and I should be paid for it. Too bad this booker is only a comic.

He’s just booking it to make a couple of bucks. He really has no power. If the club has a whim to switch it at the last minute, technically they can. They don’t care that it puts a big hole in my schedule and takes money out of my pocket, but it‘s time somebody told them.

Then people wonder why entertainers cop an attitude after a while. I wondered it as well when I started. I used to hear headliners tell horror stories of getting stiffed on money, but it never really sunk in. I was so enamored with being on stage that the money didn’t make any difference. I would have done it for free, and many times did. Club owners know this.

Bookers know it too. Sometimes club owners book their own club, other times they hire a booking agency. Sometimes they use an actual comic who thinks they know how to put a show together, and most of us think we do. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.

That’s why comedians get stiffed so much. There are too many hands in the till and not enough attention paid to the actual bookings. Most bookers just fill holes, and don’t have a clue how to build a show that works best for the audience in a particular venue. They’re only interested in their commission, even though they all claim they know the business.

One of the worst offenders of this I’ve ever seen is Funny Business Agency, which used to be out of Grand Rapids, MI. I worked for the owner John Yoder for years, but now I’ve been ‘fired’ by his twenty something son who knows even less about comedy than John if that’s possible. John used to fill dates in his clubs by matching up acts by random chance.

Time after time I’d get some act in front of me who was either a drug act or completely filthy or some other total mismatch for what I do and I’d have to fight my way out of the hole that act dug before I even started. Plus, Funny Business was the KING of last minute cancellations. Any time they had a bug up their ass about anything - bang. Gig cancelled.

This is completely unprofessional, and every comic hates it but they had enough work a few years ago where we all took whatever they dished out because we needed the money. If we had to be humiliated and get cancelled once in a while, it went along with the deal.

I for one have had my total fill of it all. It’s disrespectful and unprofessional and at my age and level of experience, I’m not going to kiss the ass of any two bit booker who can’t treat me like a human being. I’m a strong headliner, and it took a lifetime of hard work to earn my status. I’m not going to let some yacht club in Fond Du Lac handle my destiny.

The comic who booked it called and all he could say was “I’m sorry, man. I’m sorry.” I don’t blame him for the cancellation, but he’s not a full time comic and to him this is just a hobby and a few extra bucks. I do this for a living and I’m not going to just sit there and say it’s ok and then if and when they decide to call me back put it on my calendar again.

I’m starting to work better gigs through my friend Marc Schultz and those always have a signed contract. If I get bumped, I get paid. That’s how it always should have been, but it never was. The Yoders and quite a few others would cancel us and never think twice.

Am I getting to be the cranky old bastard I said I’d never become? Probably, but now I totally see why those other guys felt that way. Comedy is difficult enough without getting stiffed on pay. If anyone knows of any open gigs, I happen to be open this February 6th.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Cardinal Sin

Sunday January 10th, 2010 - Kenosha, WI

They sucked me in again. Damn those green and gold bastards. How do they keep doing that? I swore I was NOT going to let myself succumb to the temptation but I blew it. I fell full force for the fever, and got a face full of football feces flung at me. How frustrating.

Somewhere in the cosmos there has to be a planet where life doesn’t suck the bottom of an outhouse hole. That’s where I want to live, and if there’s an extra seat on any departing mother ships I’m ready to leave immediately. Maybe I can get a space ticket deal online.

After today’s flaming football flop, I’m ready to pull up stakes and relocate to a planet I can call home. Maybe it’s Uranus, as that’s exactly where my beloved Green Bay Packers took it today in what sports people are calling one of the best playoff football games of all time. I’m convinced it’s only a great game if your team wins. Otherwise, it’s just torture.

To invest time and emotion in cheering for a team and then watch them get scorched at the very end is about as fun as riding in the passenger seat with a suicide bomber, and has the same result. It’s a sudden jolt that has lasting results. The pain doesn’t go away soon.

This is the worst time to be a Packerholic. I knew they weren’t going to have it easy this week but nobody predicted a game like this. I had a strong feeling they were going to lose and if I was smart I would have bet what little money I do have and not watched one play.
I could have spared myself the death dagger at the end and put a few bucks in my pocket.

I’ve often heard that Dallas Cowboy fans still ache over the infamous Ice Bowl game in Green Bay in the ‘60s. I love watching those old highlights because I know how it comes out and it cheers me up every time. It was one of the all time great games in NFL history, or so the announcers keep saying. I guess I never had to watch it from a Dallas viewpoint.

I started doing some work today and vowed to make it a productive one. I’ve got a play to rehearse for this week and just came off a solid week of comedy shows. I’m starting to get some momentum going in the new year and I didn’t want to ruin it with having to get my spirits crushed by a lousy football game. I know my weak spots and this is a big one.

Everyone was predicting a Packer victory and I really did feel like that was my cue not to watch the game. I’m not a gambler at all, but I really did get the feeling to lay down as much money as I could get my hands on and bet on Arizona. I didn’t listen to that either.

When the game started I purposely isolated myself and started working. Then, I blew it by rationalizing I had to just peek at the score. They were down 31-10 by that time and it seemed like it was over. Fair enough. I was glad I didn’t watch it. But then it all changed.

They launched a remarkable comeback and I got texts from friends saying how exciting it was. That’s when I lost it and couldn’t resist anymore. I got sucked back in and that was it. They got beat and it’s over. And it hurts. It feels like a cactus was jammed in my soul.