Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Does Anything Have Meaning?

Sunday August 29th, 2010 - Tampa, FL/Kenosha, WI    

   Another long travel day. First it was up at 7am to sit in a room with dozens of others to wait for my Immigration papers to get stamped by the U.S. Customs agent. I don’t know why I need to be a part of that, but those are the rules. It’s not my ship so I have to obey.

   Some of the people were getting off the ship, others were renewing their paperwork for another tour of duty. There are all kinds of rules aboard ship I don’t understand, and in all honesty couldn’t care less about. I will do what they tell me to, and so far that’s worked.

   The detail that was a tad inconvenient is that I had to wait until 10am before they let me get off the ship. I have no idea why I couldn’t just pick up my passport and leave, but that isn’t how it works. I had to go back to my cabin for a couple of hours and hope I didn’t go back to sleep and end up back at sea again. I did nod out for a bit, but didn’t oversleep.

   I was let off the ship at 10am on the button with probably 50 others and took a shuttle to the airport, where I had three hours to kill until my plane left. Jim McHugh picked me up at O’Hare and I had to rush up to Kenosha to host the Mothership Connection radio show.

   I don’t hate the cruise ships, but it is a lot of effort and time away from the other things that I do love. I’ll have to work it out and see how I can get the best of all worlds, if that’s possible. If nothing else, at least I’m growing. There’s always something new going on.

   The radio show was a lot of fun tonight. Some weeks are better than others, and this one made it worth the long day of travel to get there. We landed at 5:30 and by the time I took Jim McHugh back to his house I had all I could handle to make it to the station by 8:00.

   Then, four hours on the air is not an easy assignment either. I am in charge, so I have to make sure the show flows and keep things moving. My head has to be in it, but after a big day of travel it can be difficult to stay focused and not think about sleep. It takes an effort.

   Where all of this is leading, I really don’t know. That’s what scares me. Am I training to do something great, or am I piecing together random projects that come along, hoping it’ll lead to something eventually. If that’s the case, I think I’m going to be very disappointed.

   I don’t think anything ‘just happens’. There has to be a plan there from the start, at least for the big stuff. I’m still tweaking the concept of that whole Law of Attraction thing, but I do believe it works. I put the idea in my head I needed to earn more money, and I am.

   The ship gigs came out of the blue shortly after that, or did they? How much of that was me and how much was random coincidence? It might not be exactly what I want, but it is what I was looking for results wise. I’ll keep experimenting and see how far I can take it.

   Everyone wants to believe there’s a giant master plan for the universe, and they’re in it. I’m not so sure. What if it’s all just random chance? I feel like such a tiny cosmic speck.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Ships To Schlitz

Saturday August 28th, 2010 - Heading For Tampa, FL

   I’m starting to see how life on a ship can be a floating prison. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I’m starting to feel the initial thrill disappear like that smell in a new car. I see all the things I’d heard are absolutely true, and it’s up to me to not let the pitfalls win out.

    The shows are important, but the off stage life is even more crucial to keeping with this for any amount of time. I can’t see many comedians I know doing it, only because of how lonely it can get. Most of the cabins have no windows, and are in the bowels of the ship.

   Other than the other comedian, there’s really nobody to hang with. We’re not supposed to hang with passengers, and the crew are all working most of the day. It’s a very solitary existence, and unless one has a rigid set schedule for the day it can be quite monotonous.

   I’ve tried to get out and walk as much as I can, but it’s a major effort to get it done. The passengers are out there too, and if they’re not in the way, they’re talking to me and it’s a major task to get any real exercise done unless I do it at 6am, but who wants to get up that early to walk around a ship? I sure don’t, but I’ll probably have to start if I want exercise.

   I’ve been out a couple of weeks now, and I’m really ready to get home for a while. I’ll only be there a few days, but it will feel good to see my friends and hang out a little. I’m actually looking forward to having errands to run and bills to pay. I’ll feel like a human.

   I’d heard one of the down sides of the ships is that it’s easy to lose land contacts and it’s true. The clock is ticking and the more time I’m away, the more distant everything I know becomes. I intended to be working on the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show about Milwaukee but that’s been the farthest thing from my mind lately. I’ve still got time, and I need to do it.

   I have bookings in October for the show and I want to fulfill my commitments. I’m still sold on the idea of doing a local show about my home town, but I want it to live up to my standards, which I admit can be painfully high. I don’t just want to haul out some half ass bumbling production, I want it to blow people away. That’s going to take a lot of effort.

   How can I put in that effort if I’m trapped in a cruise ship’s cabin on the Caribbean? I’ll have to delegate authority to others, but that will make it take longer to develop. This is a good problem to have since I’m getting paid, but a problem nonetheless. I need a team of people working in Milwaukee while I’m out at sea earning money to finance the project.

   At least I’m thinking about it, and not just letting it rot on the vine. I still want to do all my projects, including comedy classes on line and Uranus Factory Outlet. If one of those should happen to hit like I envision, I’ll be a millionaire. I’d love to do them all if I could.

  That’s not very likely though. There isn’t enough time. Reality is, I’ll need to find teams to run most of the day to day operations of all these projects, but I’ll call the shots. That’s a ways off yet though. First I have to get them going on their own. I’ve got a full plate.

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

Treading Water

Friday August 27th, 2010 - Somewhere Near Belize

   The shows tonight weren’t horrible, but they sure weren’t what they were last night. It’s a little frustrating to take a step backward, but I really don’t think many people noticed or cared in the least. It was funny enough, and quite a few drinks were sold. That’s the goal.

   I highly doubt if these gigs will ever be consistently great, but that’s ok. It’s a chance to catch up financially, and that’s crucial right about now. I’ll be able to put a healthy dent in my pile of bills by the end of this run and hopefully get back to and then pass break even.

   That’s a point I should have been years ago, and I was. Then all hell broke loose, and it got out of control. Bad breaks combined with bad decisions put me in a hole. This will be my way out, and the smart thing to do is ride this horse until it bucks me off. As long as it keeps paying, I need to keep showing up. I can make better decisions if I have a backup.

   I thought the radio gig at The Loop was going to last a lot longer than it did. It probably would have if the station hadn’t been sold, but who could predict that? I’d be set for sure by now, but it didn’t happen. I’m going to treat this completely different. It’s temporary.

   From everything I’m hearing, I can count on it for at least six months to a year. I’m not sure if I want to be out every single week, but if I could do two weeks a month I could get the best of both worlds. I could have steady income and savings now, and still develop all the other fun stuff I’m working on like comedy classes, ‘Schlitz Happened!’ and Uranus.

   I want to focus on long term wealth, even though nothing is guaranteed. If I bust ass for the next few years and save like I should, I should have a few years of a cushion saved so I won’t be living hand to mouth anymore. That’s not how life is supposed to be and it’s a brutal way to exist. I’ve been doing it so long I’m used to it, but it doesn’t mean I like it.

   I didn’t really like the shows tonight either, but I’m not worried about it. Eddie Capone didn’t like them either, and he’s been out here a lot longer than I have. He said they were much more difficult to do in the smaller lounge we’re in rather than the big rooms he has done for years. He said there was just one comedian then, and it was a lot better situation.

   Like a lot of things in life, it’s not what it was. He’s used to it being a lot better, but for me it’s a step up. He did his shows and they were fine, and then he came off stage saying how he wasn’t happy with them at all. At last, a kindred spirit. I think it’s good to not be satisfied with a show. It means a performer wants to improve, and that’s never negative.

   Sometimes things are just ok. They might not be spectacular, but they’re not horrendous either. That’s how it is with most of these gigs. I know the standards for myself are higher by far than anyone else’s are for me, so to most others I’m doing ok. I need to accept that.

   I don’t see this chapter of my life lasting very long, but who knows? I’ve never been on target before with predictions, so why start now? I better just keep showing up every day.

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

My Best Times Two

Thursday August 26th, 2010 - Somewhere Near Honduras

   Finally! I knocked two killer shows out of the park tonight, and it feels like I conquered the high seas. I’ve been tentative and hesitant since I got out here, but tonight was my big breakthrough. Both shows were by far my best ever, but I’m sure not going to get cocky.

   Still, it was an electric feeling to let it rip for both the all ages show and the adult. It’s a different vibe for each one, and I nailed both of them tonight. I’ve had good shows before, but not this strong back to back. This gives me confidence for the times when I struggle.

   It’s probably useless to try and figure out the reasons for it, but I did anyway. This is my second time performing on Carnival Legend, and it leaves from Tampa rather than Miami like Carnival Liberty. I’ve heard people are friendlier on this one, but who can really tell?

   It sure felt like it though. Both crowds were into it from start to finish, and I could sense a buzz in the room before the shows even started. They wanted to be entertained, and I’ve never seen a bad show when that happens. I followed my instincts and gave my very best.

   The early show was actually a lot of fun. When kids laugh, it’s big and loud. They don’t hold anything back. That kind of laughter is pure and real, and there’s no feeling like it on Earth. For whatever reason, the kids and I bonded tonight and they got everything I did.

     The adult show was even better. The room was jam packed and even the standing room was full. There wasn’t a place to stand for dwarf, midget or circus freak. I was barely able to make my way to the stage when I was introduced, and that’s a super problem to have.

   I started strong and got stronger, so I decided to bring out my infamous closing bit that I haven’t been able to sell at sea so far. Not only did it sell, it absolutely killed. I got waves of laughter and applause, and barely had time to squeeze it all in before my time was up.

   I feel a nice rapport with the staff on this ship and they all gave me thumbs up and high fives. People lined up after both shows to get pictures, autographs and shake hands. These people are almost star struck with the comedians. That rarely if ever happens in the clubs.

   The other comedian this week is a veteran of the ships named Eddie Capone. He’s from New Jersey originally but lives near Miami now. He’s a total pro, and it was a pleasure to watch him work. His style is completely different than mine, but he had great shows also.

  His years of stage experience are very evident, and that’s something that can’t be faked. Just like an NFL quarterback, actual game experience has got to be earned by fire the hard way and Eddie has earned his for sure. He said he’s worked every one of Carnival’s ships.

   We hung out a little between shows, but I hope to get a chance to have a lunch or dinner with him and hear some of his tales of battle. I always respect a veteran of show business, and I can tell Eddie’s been around the block a few times. I’m hoping to pick up a few tips.

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

Commuter Games

Wednesday August 25th, 2010 - Cozumel, Mexico

   If there’s a tougher commute to work for any job on Earth, I’d sure like to see it. This is relentless. I wasn’t able to sleep one wink last night as I was up late answering emails and catching up on all the work I’ve been behind on from lack of internet access. One night in a hotel was all I had, so I took advantage of it. I had no idea I’d have to pull an all nighter.

   I had the option of a 7am or 8am shuttle to the airport for my 10am flight, but I knew it was smarter to take the early one. I thought about trying to take a one hour nap, but that’s asking for trouble. Oversleeping and missing my plane would be the last thing I’d need.

   I’d much rather be at the gate and wait than have to cut it short so it was ok to get there as early as I did. I kept checking my phone, wallet, passport and itinerary because I know a lack of sleep can make it easier to misplace something. I have enough problems as it is.

   The ship is in Cozumel, but there are no direct flights there apparently. They sent me to Cancun, and I was instructed to take a $90 cab ride to a town called Playa Del Rey, about 45 minutes away. There, I had to catch a ferry which took me to the island of Cozumel.

   Planes, cabs, ferry boats, shuttle buses, deadlines - it was an adventure to say the least. I made it to the ship with three hours to spare, but had I missed any of the legs of the trip it would have been a real challenge to make it on time. I had to pay attention to everything.

   One thing that’s very evident is the poverty virtually everywhere. Cancun is a place I’ve heard of, but only like Acapulco in that there are resorts there. The actual town is a hellish toilet. There’s no city skyline at all, as someone pointed out as we were landing. I’d never been here before so I really wouldn’t think to notice. But it was correct. I just saw fields.

   My cab driver was a very nice guy named Raul. He spoke English very well and had an opinion on just about everything. He grew up in a small town and moved to Cancun to get a job and make something of his life. Who can’t respect a person for that? He had to be at least my age, maybe a couple of years older. It made me very grateful for all that I have.

   I made it to the ship and checked in, but I’d lost a document I’d apparently had stamped at the airport by Immigration. I had no idea what it was or where I put it, and I tore apart a pile of paperwork looking for it. The person in the office was not very happy because that document needs to be collected by the Mexican government before I get to leave the ship.

   The more I searched, the more panicked I became. I didn’t know if I had it or not. I had a complete idiot for my clerk at the airport, and she ripped up my paperwork and restarted it three different times. She was obviously new, and had to call her supervisor to finish it.

   Maybe she didn’t give it to me. Maybe I left it there. I had NO idea, but I kept searching for it anyway. Finally, I opened a book I was reading and it fell out from one of the pages. I screamed with delight and took it to the office. I won’t have to live in Mexico after all.

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Miami Voice

Tuesday August 24th, 2010 - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands/Miami, FL

   This gig is definitely not for dabblers. It’s all in or all gone, and full attention is required both onstage and off. The amount of things to look after is by far the most I’ve ever had at any one time of anything in which I’ve ever been involved. Minute details are everywhere to be found, and one uncrossed T or undotted I could result in a big time mess o’ trouble.

   Part of it is all a big adventure though, and for now I’m going to choose to enjoy it all as much as I can before either I get sick of it all or it gets sick of me. Anything could dust up at any time on either side, so I’m not taking anything for granted. It’s all week to week.

   There are quite a few solid positives, but that’s not always what the dented can searches for first. Most of us are so used to being burned in some painfully brutal way, we come to expect it. That isn’t how a true winner thinks, and I have to catch myself often. But I am.

   It would be easy to just can all this and walk away. I’m not really into it full time, but if I make good showings that will probably happen in the not too distant future. Either I can handle this assignment or I cannot, and that will become quite evident in the near future.

   So far, the shows have been just ok. I’ve had some very good ones and others I’m really ashamed of. Still others were in between both extremes and just plain mediocre. Getting a chance to travel to all these exotic places I’ve never been before is turning out to be a real treat, even better than I expected. But I have to realize - this is the first time I’m doing it.

   The first time around the comedy circuit was a blast too. So was my first real radio job. I had a lot fun for a while, and then some surprise bomb dropped or some crisis happened and I was deep inside a pit of hell I wasn’t wanting to be inside of. So far I haven’t had an inkling of any of that here, but it’s bound to happen. That’s just how things tend to work.

   Every week I’m out here working the ships is another week of paid education. I’ll make mistakes, but not nearly as stupid as the ones I made in my younger years. I’m much more experienced now, and the worst case scenario of getting fired won’t rock my world like it has so many times in the past. I’m not going to put myself in that vulnerable spot again.

   Supposedly, we’re all here to learn life lessons. If that’s true, I’ve done exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I really am getting better as I get older, and my thinking is getting a lot clearer too. Now that I have a steady income, that’s clearing up a lot of problems also.

   If you would have told me when I was a frustrated, hurting, unfulfilled, smart and dumb ass kid that one day I’d be staying overnight at a hotel in Miami, waiting to fly to a cruise ship to do a week of comedy shows that paid me solid money I’d have laughed out loud.

   Now, I have to make the most of this fantastic opportunity, and if nothing else just be as grateful as I can for such a wonderful chance to experience what most others only picture in a wild pipe dream. I’m living it, and I appreciate it. It’s a LONG way from Milwaukee.

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Caught On Tape

Monday August 23rd, 2010 - Somewhere near St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

   Mr. Lucky caught a good break for a change, and I’ll take it. This could be exactly what I need to keep my job. I had one of my three shows recorded by the company tonight, and fortunately it went very well. That’s a lot of pressure off me, because now it’s all on tape.

   I’m the first to admit I haven’t mastered the cruise ship audience yet, and I didn’t think I was quite ready to be recorded. Too bad. Like a random drug test, the company does what it wants when in wants, and I have absolutely zero choice in the matter. I had solid shows last night, and either one of those would have been fine to record, but nobody showed up.

   The cruise director called and said I’d probably get recorded at some point this week, so I was ready for almost anything. Apparently the Carnival office wants to have a record of every comedian they hire, and I think that’s a great idea. I just wanted mine to be a decent show that represents what I do fairly. I’d hate to get judged on a show I wasn’t proud of.

   My first show tonight went very well, but it wasn’t all that full. There are a lot of things to do aboard ship, plus it was at 7:30 and a lot of people were still eating dinner. I would have been ok if it were recorded, as I did what they asked me to do. I didn’t swear and the kids weren’t offended at all. Nobody was. I got solid laughs from those who were there.

   The middle show at 11pm is the big one. We alternate nights and last night Mutzie blew the doors off the room. There was standing room only, and he really knocked it out of the park. We were talking afterward and agreed it would be great if they’d recorded that one.

   Sure enough, when I showed up tonight there were two camera people setting up shop a few feet from the stage. I didn’t expect two cameras, much less broadcast quality that near the stage. I thought it would be a small video camera way in the back by the sound booth.

   For the second night in a row, the place was jammed to the rafters - standing room only. They seemed like good laughers, but I had no idea what to expect. All I could do was give it all I had, which I did. The cruise director was in the room the whole time, as was a lady from corporate who was supervising the process. I must say I was very tight beforehand.

   It’s not easy for a dented can to visualize only good things happening, but that’s exactly what I needed to do. I really needed to nail a good one, and thankfully I did. There was an older couple from Canada sitting right in front, and the lady decided she wanted to talk to me the entire show. Thankfully she did, because I was able to squeeze big laughs from it.

   I’ve always been a good ad libber, and tonight was a great example. The crowd was into what I was doing, and she took it up a notch. I knew about five minutes into it I’d kick ass so I slowed down and milked it for all it was worth. It was the hottest show I’ve had yet.

   If there was a time I could use a break, it was now. I’d like to keep this job for at least a little while, and tonight should have cemented it. Still, I need to keep improving myself.

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

Kurt Cobain's Wall

Sunday August 22nd, 2010 - Somewhere Near The Bahamas

   New day, new audience. The ship has been emptied and refilled with all new passengers and we’re back out at sea. These guys know how to turn a buck. The last group got off the ship and the staff cleaned everything with the scientific precision of a NASCAR pit crew.

   It was amazing to behold. One group off. Next group on. That’s not easy to do with that many people, but they’ve got their system down. Now if I can just get mine. I really need to have a plan as to how I’m going to handle these audiences, both early and late shows.

   Tonight couldn’t have gone any better. Go figure. I nailed both of my shows, and didn’t have a bit of trouble. I did get a warning from the cruise director for using a line I pull out once in a while when I used it during the early show. It’s about someone’s shorts looking like ‘Kurt Cobain’s wall’. It tends to shock those who happen to know Kurt Cobain is.

   I don’t use it often, but when I think it will get a reaction I’ll pull it out on occasion. It’s not a reference most kids would know, so that’s why I used it tonight. I felt I was having a good enough show I could throw it in, and the cruise director happened to be in the room.

   He made mention of it to the comedy club manager and then it trickled down to me. It’s the kind of thing that can become a problem, as it sticks in the memory of those in charge. I don’t think it’s a big deal at all, but until I’m ‘in’ with everyone I have to be on red alert.

   Could I get fired over something like this? You bet. It depends on the mood or whim of the person in charge. This is not a comedy club, it’s a cruise line. Any little thing can be a reason to blow someone out if that’s what they want to do, but I don’t think they want to.

   I told the manager I’d not do it again, and I won’t. I haven’t met the cruise director, and he shows up at whim. I’m still baffled as to what to do. One night I feel like I stunk up the place, the next I feel like a star. People asked for my autograph and I received all kinds of compliments as I walked through the ship. I’m sure not cocky though. I need to nail this.

   I was told the company wants to have a record of what all comics do, and they’ll send a video person to record an early and late show so they have it on file. Tonight would have been a great night to record, but of course they didn’t do it. Maybe tomorrow. All I can do is my best, which I do every night. Now it’s a matter of getting friendly luck of the draw.

   Gulp. That’s never been my forte. In fact, it scares the hell out of me. Who knows what kind of torture awaits in that situation? Some drunk heckler could go off on a tangent or a million other things, and it will be on tape in the office forever. I could really use a break.

   This is what happens when a person has a job. Others call the shots. I’ve never enjoyed that, and I still don’t. The people here are very nice, and I have no complaints, but having to worry about using a joke in a certain situation is not what I want to do long term. This is a great opportunity to make some money and pay off bills. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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

Doubts, Pouts And Right Back Out

Saturday August 21st, 2010 - Miami, FL

   This is the part of comedy that causes people to drink, drug or whatever else one does at a low point to forget their intense pain. I’m feeling about as low as a worm‘s weenie, but I can’t let on to anyone on the ship as I’m still new and not ‘in’ yet. I have to keep smiling.

   The truth is, nobody cares. The people who saw my shows sure don’t. The first one was sparsely populated, as was the second. That’s good for me, as there aren’t many witnesses to testify in court that they didn’t like it, if indeed they didn’t. They just sat there staring.

   The last one was full, and it reminded me of the infamous buffet I ate at The Stardome in Birmingham, AL. It’s one of my all time tank job stories, and I hope the entire state of Alabama gets plowed over and made into a giant compost heap. Those people are idiots.

   I’ve never had what I’d consider a hot show in Alabama, but I sure have had some ugly ones. My debacle in Tuscaloosa was so bad it made a compilation book of comedy stories from the road called ‘I Killed’. I almost lost my life that night, and I don’t ever want to go back there. I don’t like the entire South in general, and the feeling appears to be mutual.

   That’s how I felt last night. I’m not sure how many of those people were Southerners or not, but the reaction was the same. They didn’t get it, and I don’t think my stuff is all that complicated. I’ve done it for years, and usually something works at some point. That’s the thing that’s so frustrating about nights like this - it’s not like I’m trying out first time bits.

   Some people just don’t get it. It’s not for them, and that’s fine. But it sure is hell to have to sit through it on both ends. I’m sure they didn’t like it any more than I liked being there but that’s how it worked out. I won’t make excuses, even though there are some reasons.

   The other comedian Mutzie has a different stage personality altogether. His material has no bite at all, and he’s just a goof up there. He has charisma, and shaves his head to create a distinct look. He’s very likeable, but creatively he’s not doing anything I haven’t seen at least a thousand times before. Apparently, these audiences have never seen any of it at all.

   He was on BET for six years on the show ‘Comic View’, a show which I don’t get. I’ve never found it to be the least bit funny, but I’m not black. It must be some kind of culture thing. It’s odd, as I like black music very much and know my way around it like no other Caucasian I know. But when it comes to comedy, I just don’t find most of it very funny.

   Everything is a matter of taste, and I wasn’t the pleasure of the people on this particular cruise. Well, not all of them. Friday went quite well actually, and it wasn’t a matter of any kind of black/white or North/South issue. There were all kinds Friday, and they laughed.

   This is still a new animal, and I’m learning the hard way. I’m willing to keep trying, but I’m not willing to do the Arms Expert bit to survive. It’s just not what I do or who I am. It will be interesting to see how this next week goes. For all I know, it could be my last one.

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Three Shots To The Head

Friday August 20th, 2010 - Somewhere Near Miami, FL

   My turn to do three shows tonight. Each cruise requires us to do a total of five shows in two nights. We have one all ages show each night, and then we each split three shows for two nights. One night we do two adult shows and the other just one. Tonight was my two.

   I can’t think of two harder shows I’ve had on the same night in recent memory. The first show was worse than that, and I’m feeling like jumping ship right now. This is absolutely not what I signed up for, and if I could have found a canoe to paddle home I would have.

   I’m embarrassed, and it doesn’t seem like I’m in my element. Last night went extremely well, and both Mutzie and I had solid shows. He did his three, and I did my two. Even the all ages show went well, and I had them from the start. I thought I’d finally figured it out.

   WRONG. Tonight’s early show was not even half full. There were a lot of other things going on and this is the last night of the cruise. People are tired, broke and want to return home. Still, I don’t think that’s an excuse for me not connecting with those who did show up. I’ve been a comic long enough to change gears, but tonight all of it fell on deaf ears.

   The circumstances were as difficult as it gets. There were a group of kids sitting right in the very front row, and then there were empty rows, and adults sat in the very back of the room. That alone made it a no win situation. Then, there was some kind of karaoke show going on in the bar next door, and the bleed over could be heard by everyone in the room.

   I did what I could, and it didn’t come close to thrilling anyone. Most of these people did not get anything I threw at them, even though I tried my best to adjust on the fly and plug in to their wavelength. Normally I can find at least something to build on, but not tonight.

  That was the longest thirty minutes in recent memory, until the next show. That was also sparsely populated for whatever reason. There was evidently a huge bingo game going on in the main auditorium, followed by a huge show. That drew people away from comedy.

   The third show was a total nightmare. I was supposed to do a completely different show than the first two, because that’s what the club manager promised to the audience. He’s in charge, but doesn’t have any prior standup comedy background. Too bad for me. He’s the person I answer to, and rather than get in trouble with the booker I followed instructions.

   I ate it with a bib from the time I walked on until the time I got off. I got maybe three or four mediocre chuckles, but that’s it. Usually I can ad lib something and get some energy going, but not tonight. They hated everything I did, and I wasn’t too fond of them either.

   The trouble is, Mutzie got a standing ovation in his late show with an ancient bit called ‘Arms Expert’. That’s where a woman stands behind a comic and slips her arms through and becomes his. It’s as old as the hills and considered the ultimate hack bit. I like Mutzie a lot and he delivered it well, but it made me want to slither into a hole and die. I still do.

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

Whatza Mutzie?

Thursday August 19th, 2010 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica   

   One of the most enjoyable parts of comedy is becoming friends with comedians. We are a different breed to say the least, and many of us share similar traits. Being a dented can is one of them, but not all. I’ve found comedians as a whole to be of above average intellect and believe it or not, very sensitive as well. Many times, a stage persona is only for stage.

   Bobby Slayton is a perfect example. He’s billed as ‘The Pit Bull of Comedy’ and he has a gruff demeanor and gravely voice. He can tear apart an audience and especially hecklers but off stage he’s a very sweet mellow guy, at least the times I’ve met him. I like him a lot and although we’ve only worked a few times, we hit it off immediately. We had synergy.

   More often than not that’s how it is with real comedians. I use that term carefully. There are people who do comedy for a living who aren’t real comedians. They’re in it for lots of other reasons, and that’s their choice. They usually get weeded out eventually, but I don’t pay them any mind. I prefer to hang with the people who eat, sleep and breathe comedy.

   It’s in them, a part of their soul. If comedy didn’t pay, (and often it doesn’t) they’d still get in front of that audience. Comedy is a craft, and craftspeople WORK at it for the rest of their natural lives. Fame or not, fortune or not, real comedians will never quit working.

   I’ve crossed paths with hundreds of real comedians in my day and I never get sick of the experience. I enjoy their company, and we never run out of things to talk about. If it’s not about comedy itself, it’s about bookers, gigs, new places to work and all sorts of things in and around the topic of comedy. One would think it would get boring, but it never does.

   This week on the ship the other comedian is a guy from New Orleans who bills himself as ‘Mutzie’. I admit I did a double take when I saw his name on my itinerary, but that’s it. I’d never heard that name before, and I had no idea if it was a male, female or animal act.

   It turns out it’s a he, and a very nice one. For whatever reason, I’ve always found every comedian I’ve ever met from New Orleans to be fantastic people. I can’t stand the actual town itself, with all it’s filth and debauchery, but that’s me. The comedians are top shelf.

   I can think of people like Sammie Martin, “The Silver Fox” John Schnauder and a guy named “Red Bean” of all things, and every one of those guys are quality people. I think a nickname must be a prerequisite of being a New Orleans comic and Mutzie is a good one.

   It rhymes with ‘Tootsie’, and the guy is just loaded with charisma. He’s got that rhythm in his speech that New Orleans people have, and it’s magnetic. He has a little lisp in there too and sounds kind of like professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes. He’s a natural performer.

   Mutzie and I hit it off immediately, and I can tell he’s been a road warrior for a lifetime just as I have. He said he started in 1984 just as I did, and has been slugging it out on the road ever since. Three weeks on the ships, three real comedians. This is a perk of the job.

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

O Wallet Where Art Thou?

Wednesday August 18th, 2010 - Grand Cayman Island

   “Keys, wallet, phone. Keys, wallet, phone. Keys, wallet, phone.” It’s grown to become a daily mantra, desperately trying to remind my scattered self not to misplace any one of the ‘big three’ objects so crucial to daily life on this planet that create pure misery when lost.

   A month ago I lost my cell phone. It was 24 hours of torture until I got it back, but I did. Today I left my wallet in a cab. I’ve done that before actually, on more occasions than I’d like to admit. It just happens. Sometimes I’ve been able to get it back, but most - bye bye.

  Today, to make it even harder it was in a foreign country, and by all logical definition it should have been one of the bye byes. I landed on Grand Cayman Island to catch the ship I worked on my tryout with Carnival Cruise Lines, ‘Liberty’. It’s a major process to make it through security and customs and then get to the ship. There’s always some obstacle.

   Everyone always wants to see an ID or a boarding pass or get an employee number or a whole lot of other objects I’m rarely prepared for. It’s like a giant episode of “Let’s Make A Deal” and I’m waiting for Monty Hall to pop out at any time and offer me $50 if I have a kazoo and an extra $100 if I whip out a flugelhorn right behind it. It takes concentration.

   It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is. This whole travel thing is hard work. I had to be at O’Hare airport for a 5:55am flight so Jim McHugh was kind enough to help me out again. He’s not far so I can park my car at his house for free and he took me to the gate at 4:45am. That’s a true friend, and I totally appreciate him for doing that. That’s way early.

   There was an extra long line in security as they have the new x-ray machines to get used to, and that’s making it even more of a hassle. Shoes off, computer out, everything’s a big game of musical chairs and a total farce, but it’s part of traveling so I shut up and took it.

   The flight was totally full, and of course I was in the middle seat between some guy that wouldn’t stop talking and a black woman bubbling with attitude that seemed like she may start a race war at any moment. There was a mean energy off of her everyone nearby felt.

   I wasn’t looking for a race war or bright morning conversation. I just wanted to nod off for at least a little sleep and get to the ship. We landed in Miami and then I had to change planes for Grand Cayman Island. I had a window seat this time, but it was another packed flight and took forever to get through security, customs and all the other jumpable hoops.

   I did notice that Iggy Pop was on the plane, and he had to go through the line just as we all did. That made me feel a little better, but I don’t know why. He stood there with all of us and nobody approached him. I don’t think most people in line even knew who he was.

   With all those distractions, I guess I just wasn’t concentrating. I was lacking sleep, and I left it behind. The driver was kind enough to return it to the ship, and I have it back - ALL cash included. I caught myself a major break. Paybacks don’t always have to be a bitch.









Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nobody's Fault But Mine

Tuesday August 17th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   I’m on a roll. My life is changing in a very positive way, and I’m going to take credit for it. I was the one who programmed it into the master computer of life, aka the cabbage that rests on my shoulders - my brain. I’m FINALLY starting to practice what I’ve read about.

   All the great self help books talk about how we are in control of our lives, and if we are not satisfied with our results we can choose again. It sounds great in theory, but from my experience very few if anyone ever actually works to make it happen. I’m doing it and it’s really starting to happen. I can feel tangible results, and I know my thoughts started it all.

   It’s a lot of little things, but they’re all starting to come together. I feel it very much and I’ve always been one to go by feel. The ship gigs are coming along unexpectedly, but at a perfect time. I’m hearing about other comedians I know talking about doing them and the advantage in that situation is going to be mine. I can do clean shows, most of them can’t.

   I can also do ‘prison time’ alone quite easily. I’ve had to since I was a kid. I like myself as corny as that sounds, and am not trying to constantly find ways to abuse myself during my free time. I’m going to use all that time to build something else as I build my act with this new venue that has presented itself unexpectedly. I have income, and time to work.

   I also got an email from my friend Rich in Milwaukee telling me he’s helping me piece out my skyscraper stack of sports cards, and has sold some stuff already for $2100. I trust Rich, and he said it was a good and fair deal so I appreciate it. It’s some breathing room.

   Whether I take a loss or not, the money is needed now, and it’s coming in. It feels right, and I can honestly say I’ve learned my lesson the total hard way. That’s the best way, and hopefully that particular lesson is done. NO more cards, at least not on a level like that.

   Live and learn, and I sure did on that one. But…now it’s almost over, and that will drift away and I’ll be on to other things. That’s what I’m so excited about. It feels like my total being inside and out is finally on the same page, or heading there quickly. It’s a big deal.

   I also kept on working on sorting through every shred of what I own looking for my tax records. There was a box I must have looked at 500 times, but I never thought I’d put it in there. But I did. I dumped it out and there they were, and it felt like I won the big lottery.

     These are all little piss ant seemingly meaningless things that don’t have significance to anyone but me, but I can see plain as day the effect that it’s all having as it comes together in real life. I put the idea in my head to cleanse everything in my life and turn my finances around and get things going in a good direction. It’s doing exactly that, and I called for it.

   We can all do this, but I see how most of us don’t. It’s easier to complain than to go out and actually DO something about it. You watch, things are happening for me in a positive way like never before. I’m back out on the ship starting tomorrow, and I‘m excited to go

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Meaningful Nothing

Monday August 16th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   I didn’t do much of anything today, and I loved every minute of it. I had planned to find my tax records if nothing else, and I still haven’t. I looked in a couple of places I possibly could have placed them, but they weren’t there. It’s concerning me a little, but I’m not yet officially worried. I know I kept them and they have to be somewhere. I’ll keep looking.

   I’m probably not going to owe much if anything, but this is really bothering me. There’s no excuse for it, and I’m ashamed and embarrassed. But only a little. I’ve been working at a lot of things in my life lately, and much of it is getting better. I’m starting to notice it for the first time, and I may not be the person I thought I was but I’m being the best me I can.

   This whole dimensional plane is insane and imperfect and all I kept thinking of today is that none of it really matters. If I’m fat or bald or ugly or broke or unhappy, nobody really cares except me. Happiness is up to each one of us, and we do have free choice despite all the things that are imperfect about this world. We can still choose a lot of things each day.

     We can choose to be satisfied or depressed or jealous or content or anything else we can imagine. It’s not like that’s anything new, but it really hit home today and I didn’t allow a thing to bother me all day long. I made up my mind before I got in the car that I was NOT going to let anyone piss me off, no matter how much they tried. Some tried, but all failed.

   I wanted to count how many strangers I could make laugh out loud today and I got it up to six. Not great, but not horrible either. The hardest was the Chinese guy at the buffet but when I got him he really cracked up. Language can be a barrier, but it wasn’t a deal killer. I made up in my mind I was going to get that guy to laugh, and eventually it happened.

   I was at the buffet with Lou Rugani from WLIP, film director Mark Gumbinger and his brother Mike. They’re regulars every Monday and all thought I was on the ship and out of action. When I walked in I saw genuine looks of pleasant surprise and it felt wonderful to know someone was happy to see me. We had a fantastic lunch and laughed like toddlers.

   This is all hokey and cornballish in a way, but it really isn’t. What do we really have but our ability to choose? Everything else is a product of that, but choice is where it all begins and ends. I can feel I’m getting better in my choice making abilities, and it’s about time.

   I had a really great day today, and didn’t do a damn thing anyone would consider to be a groundbreaking act. In fact, I did very few acts at all. I had lunch with friends, I spoke to a few more on the phone and online, and I spent most of the day being grateful for each and every little blessing I have. I’m thankful for the ship gigs, and for life itself. I feel good.

   I know I have my work cut out for me, and that’s another thing that makes me feel good all over. I’m going to go out there and nail those shows on the ship. I’m going to improve by the show, and enlist the help of others to build an act that people love. Everything I am doing now is a labor of love. If nothing else, I was able to find some things in life I enjoy.

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

Boats, Planes and Radio

Sunday August 15th, 2010 - Tampa, FL/Kenosha, WI

   One of the down sides of working on a cruise ship is having to obey all their rules when it comes to getting on and off a ship. This morning I had to report at 7am to a room where the staff people who were disembarking today had to go through immigration. There were probably 100 people present, and the line moved slowly. I had one choice - sit and wait.

   My individual paperwork took about thirty seconds to stamp, and I was back waiting in my cabin until 10:15 when we were allowed to leave. I’m sure there are reasons for it that are quite legitimate, but I don’t see why I can’t just get my gear and bolt when we arrive.

   Passports are another concern. The ship holds all of our passports until Immigration has to see them, then they get stamped and we get them back. I really haven’t gone very many places until now and haven’t had to worry, but now it’s going to be a major concern if the pace I’m going keeps up as I’ll have to get a new one way before I would have otherwise.

   Every time I get off a ship someone has to stamp it, and before too long I’ll be out of all empty pages and have to get another one. The expense is bad enough, but the time needed for turnaround can be worse. Some of the people on board were talking back and forth of problems they’ve had, and I’m going to have to watch my own situation to avoid theirs.

   Carnival has been great to work for though. They treat people well from my perspective and I have no complaints. They provided a shuttle from the ship to the airport for those of us who needed one, and many did. It cost $10, but I’m sure a cab would have been quite a bit more. It was an easy process and I wound up getting to the airport several hours early.

   This is much better than having that high pressure wall of stress to deal with to catch an earlier flight so I wasn’t complaining at all. I took the opportunity to finish reading a book I brought along called ‘The Packer Way’ by a former Green Bay Packer General Manager named Ron Wolf. Packer fans remember him fondly, as he was all about winning games.

   The book laid out nine steps of strategy to build a winning organization, and sprinkled a lot of stories in about the Packers of Wolf’s era in the 1990’s. I think it’s a great idea for a book, as Packer fans will enjoy the stories and those who aren’t can use the strategies in a business scenario. I don’t know if I’d call it a classic, but I’m glad I took time to finish it.

   That’s another one of my goals on the cruise ships. If I’m out for a week I should have a lot of free time that can be used productively. If I can crank out at least one book a week I think I’ll be ahead of most other people on Earth. I’ve never been one for fiction, but I am a fan of self help stuff so this could be another way to improve my entire quality of life.

   Jim McHugh was very kind to pick me up at the airport, and of course my plane was an hour late. That made me cut it way too short as far as getting to WLIP in Kenosha for the Mothership Connection radio show. I made it, but barely and again it was stressful all the way there. We did have fun on the air, so that made up for it. Still, there’s a lot going on.

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ultimate Meal

Saturday August 14th, 2010 - Somewhere Near Tampa, FL

   One thing I’ve made a special point to do in my travels is eat well. Not necessarily a healthy well, but I’ve treated myself to some of the best tasting food in North America. I’ve eaten some of the most delicious food imaginable from all kinds of establishments from top end restaurants to greasy diners and everything in between. I’ve sampled it all.

   If someday my heart should explode in mid beat, I’ll have earned it. No complaints on my end. If my bank account was as rich as my diet, I’d be able to buy Donald Trump like Baltic Avenue on a Monopoly board. I know I need to improve the quality of healthiness of what I eat, and after tonight it’s going to be a lot easier. I’ve eaten the ultimate meal.

   I’ve always been in search of it, and like a good rap CD or an Adam Sandler movie that makes me laugh, I didn’t think it existed. Until tonight. Tony Esposito and I had no shows tonight and he asked me if I wanted to go to the steak house and end the week with a nice meal. He’s a super nice guy and loves good food just like I do so of course I said I would.

   He arranged it with the cruise director and made reservations for 6pm. I’m still not sure where we can or can’t go, so I wouldn’t have had any idea who to ask. We do get a lot of employee discounts on a lot of things apparently, and Tony says I‘ll learn it all as I go.

   For tonight, it was a world class meal for $40. With tip. From the moment we walked in to the moment we left, we had impeccable service from our wait staff who could not have done a better job. They made sure we had everything we could need, want or ask for. One was from Macedonia, another from Hungary and a third was from Lithuania. They all had unbelievably sexy accents, and were very attractive. It felt like we had a harem serving us.

   The meal came with two appetizers, soup, salad, main course and dessert. Tony had the filet mignon, and I opted for the surf and turf. It was orgasmic. We both had a bowl of the lobster bisque, and I had shrimp cocktail that could have made a meal by itself. The salad came with the most outstanding bleu cheese dressing I’ve ever had, and it all was perfect.

   We sat and ate and joked about how we don’t get this kind of treatment doing club gigs, and we were right. I thought of those low rent ham and eggers at Giggles in Milwaukee or any one of a number of other leakers who’ve treated me and a lot of other comedians like dirt and I thought how they’ll never get to experience this. They can all rot. We earned it.

   Everyone on staff was unbelievably friendly, and the chef came out after and asked how everything was. I told him it was THE best meal I’ve ever had, and meant it. I don’t know if he believed me, but I was not kidding. Everything about the whole experience was right on target and on a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 14. This is how I always pictured life to be.

   I will appreciate this night and remember it always. Yes, I need to exercise and eat a lot healthier more consistently, blah blah blah. This was a special occasion, and the best part was I got to savor every bite. Gratitude makes everything taste better. This was a big treat.

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

Not A Matter Of Luck

Friday August 13th, 2010 - Somewhere Near Belize

Only two shows tonight, it felt like a night off. I’m starting to get an idea of what these audiences will like and laugh at. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily what I do on a regular basis. I see it, I accept it, and I’m not upset in the least. I need to adapt to their tastes, not expect them to jump on board with what I’m ding. I’m here to please the crowd, not me.

This is not a career move. It never was. It’s a chance to earn steady money, eliminate all my credit card debt and hopefully bank a few bucks so I can finance some of my ideas for products and projects that I can’t do as of now. I’m taking a calculated risk by being here.

In a perfect world, I’d work as often or as little as I want. I’d develop a solid reputation for being a good guy to work with and a quality act that can be depended on to knock out killer shows night after night, in any situation. I’ve kind of got that in comedy clubs now, but that doesn’t translate to cruise ships. This is a different audience, and I need to adjust.

My ‘Mr. Lucky’ persona doesn’t seem to be working at all. Nobody cares. I have never really polished it to the point where I have a solid set of jokes only about being unlucky. I have a few things, but I feel it limits me sometimes in a particular audience. These people are on vacation, they don’t want to hear about a guy from Wisconsin who has bad luck.

At least I don’t think they do. I don’t feel it. They want to talk about the ship and what’s involved on a cruise. That’s our only common ground, other than the fact I’ve been to the cities and towns these people come from. There aren’t too many places I haven’t visited.

The first show tonight was the best early ‘PG’ show I’ve done yet. I had a plan going in, I wanted to keep the amount of premises down to a minimum so I wouldn’t have to waste any material or burn any topics I might want to delve into in the later show. There were a few kids in the audience, but not nearly as many as the last cruise. It wasn’t an issue at all.

This experience is no doubt going to make me a better performer, because I’ll make it a priority to improve and adapt into this situation. I had a similar situation when I moved to Utah to take a radio job. Those audiences were completely different than what I was used to, and I had some big adjustments to make in a short time. I did, and now I love it there.

I think I’ll have the same experience here. I observed both Jim Brick and Tony Esposito, and they both figured it out. They do material right down the middle, and aren’t the angry ranter types that can have success in comedy clubs. They went with the flow of the crowd and that’s what I need to do also. This is a new situation, and winners are able to adapt.

I’ll find a way to make this work for as long as they’ll keep hiring me. It’s good to have a standard to aspire to, and I’d love to be the best guy out here. That’s going to take some work, as my act doesn’t thrill the masses like a juggler or impressionist does. I’ll have my work cut out for me trying to figure it out, but I’m up for the challenge. It’s another solid source of income, and that’s never a bad thing. Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky after all.

All New All Over

Thursday August 12th, 2010 - Somewhere Near Honduras

   New day, new challenges. Yesterday it was making it to the ship on time. I did. Barely.  Today it was finding my way around it. Again, I knew not one soul on the entire ship and had to be very resourceful. This ship’s interior is totally different from the other one I was on, and I was completely lost as soon as I walked out of my cabin. This is all new to me.

   Everything is in a different place, and I wandered around for over an hour trying to get a handle on what was where. Last time the comedy club was in the rear of the ship and easy to find. This time it’s in the middle, directly under the main show lounge. It’s tricky to see the staircase leading down to where the shows are, and I missed it three different times.

   This ship seems to be a little older and a little smaller than the other one, but not all that much. This is still one big bad hunka hunka floating steel, and I’m still in awe of how this much metal can float. It’s a techno-miracle, and I’m glad I have a chance to experience it first hand. Not only that, I’m getting paid to see places on the planet I’ve never ever seen.

   Anything new can be intimidating, and this totally is. I’ve been in all kinds of situations in life where I’m the outsider or the rookie, but this is up there with anything I’ve faced as it’s so large and so far from home. This has to be what newbie soldiers feel like. It’s a big boat in a foreign land, and everyone else all seem to know what to do and where to go.

   I finally found my way back to my cabin and when I walked in the phone was ringing. It was the other comedian, a guy named ‘Big Tony’ Esposito. He’s from Orlando, FL and in his mid 30s. He’s been doing the ships for about eight years, and we hit it off right away.

   He’s a big sports fan, and knows some of the same people I know in the comedy world. I could tell he’s laid back and easygoing, and I think he sensed the same in me. There’s an inner sense that comics have that can tell if another one is a good person. I know I have it, and can pick up on someone’s vibe pretty quickly. So does Tony. We’ll have no trouble.

   The shows tonight were also a little different than the last time. This was my day to get three shows, and tomorrow I’ll have two. They rotate us so people can come back and see comedy two nights in a row at the same time and see different acts. That’s how they do it, and I’m not complaining. It’s just that I’ll have to get used to this style if I work on ships.

   My early show went a lot better than both of the last ones I did on the other ship. These people were into it, and I was able to knock a couple of bits out of the park and get a nice applause break each time. I felt a lot more confident, and can tell I’ll eventually be able to figure this out. It’s a little different than most comedy clubs, but I can see where to adjust.

   The last two shows were fine, but still a little choppy for my tastes. I did exactly as they instructed, and didn’t repeat material from early to late shows. I did a lot of different stuff in the last show too, even though I didn’t have to. I wanted to give the audiences all I had, and tonight I didn’t embarrass myself. I can see where I need improvement, and I’ll do it.

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

Almost Missed The Boat

Wednesday August 11th, 2010 - Cozumel, Mexico

   Travel is work. Period. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it. Sometimes. But it is work. It’s a constant, never ending process of always having to be in the next place - barely being able to enjoy the place I just got to. It can be a distraction, especially for a scatterbrain like me.

   There are always multiple tasks to look after - mostly the tiniest of details,  and missing just one teeny weeny one can put the entire trip at risk. If I should happen to forget my ID or miss a shuttle or any one of a number of countless insignificant things, I’m in trouble.

   It almost happened today. My flight from Chicago left O’Hare at 6:20am for Dallas, TX and then a connection to Cozumel, Mexico. That ends up being a long day after changing planes, having to find gates, going through security, customs, filling out forms for Mexico even though I’ll be leaving the country in a couple of hours, and flagging down a shuttle.

   Then I had to find a ticket seller, pay for a shuttle ticket, wonder if the Mexican money I got in change and didn’t expect was correct and/or where I’d ever spend it, find out which shuttle was the one that could take me to where the ship was and try to ask it in Spanish.

   All of this needed to be done on a timetable. The plane landed at 12:45pm, and I had to get to the ship as fast as I could so I could check in, find my cabin and jump through even more hoops with the Mexican security people. Oh, and don’t lose the passport. I’ll need it to get me through these checkpoints, even though it’s only a tiny little thin paper booklet.

   I was constantly grabbing myself in every pocket, checking to see if I had everything I’d need to get me through the checkpoints. Filled out forms, ID, cash to pay for what I might need from a place that doesn’t take plastic, and all in scorching heat without any sleep the night before. My plane left early and Jim McHugh lives pretty close to O’Hare airport.

   He’s a comedian and keeps comic/vampire hours like most of us and he offered to make sure I not only had a ride to the airport, but also a safe place to store my car. I would do it for him too, and he knows it. Still, I’d worked all day and hadn’t had any sleep as I got to his house. He was awake, but I was beat. We got to the airport drop off gate by 4:45am.

   After all that work to get to Cozumel, the shuttle took me to where the boats were and it was a major surprise to see THREE docked there. I hadn’t printed out the one document I needed to tell me which one, and I had no clue which was mine. I had to take a wild stab.

   It turns out that was the wrong one, but it took almost an hour to find that out. Now I’m really sweating it because I’ve got limited time. The ship was to set sail at 4:30. I tried the next one, and fortunately that was it - but I had a two mile walk with luggage in the heat.

   I made it to the right ship, found my cabin and immediately flopped down on my cot for a few minutes just to rest. What a day. I was in no mood to perform tonight, and I’m glad there were no shows. It took plenty of work just to get here. Show business is NOT easy.

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

Old Home Weak

Tuesday August 10th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

   I have a new show business goal. I would like to be the first entertainer in history to get a reputation for having his income tax situation not only clean, but immaculate. For every Wesley Snipes, Willie Nelson, Redd Foxx, Joe Louis and so many others, I’ve personally never heard of anyone who’s on top of it year after year. I’m sure there must be, but who?

   For me, it’s been a life long pain in the I.R.- ass. A flair for math has never been one of my talents and my organizational skills are even worse. Saving fifty cent toll road receipts for months in an envelope to add up in April has never crossed my mind as a fun activity.

   I know it’s a necessity in life and especially in my own business as an entertainer so it’s to the point now there’s really no excuse at all. I’ve had a lifetime to master this but I feel no closer to having it aced now than I ever have. I was maybe halfway decent for a couple of years, and they weren’t even in a row. Depending on how goes my mood, so do taxes.

   This year, I’ve really let it hit the skids. I thought I was ahead of the game and had a big head start, but now I can’t even find my files at all. I’m talking about for 2009, as the IRS is sending me multiple letters telling me they haven’t received my 2008 return, which is a mystery because I paid my accountant to do it as I do every year. Somehow, it’s been lost.

     I really didn’t need another stop to make before heading out to sea, but I went to see my accountant to hopefully clear this all up. He showed me my return from 2008, and I don’t owe the government any money. He made a copy, I signed it, and he said he’d send it out.

   He’s a very laid back soft spoken guy, and pretty typical of what one would think to be an accountant type. He’s very Jewish, but that’s a good thing. I don’t want an accountant who’s half Swedish and half Jamaican. Give me a Jewish guy to handle my tax situation. I’ve trusted him now for probably ten years or more, and he knows how flighty I can be.

   He pointed his finger at me and said “NO false promises this year, Mr. Comedian. Get yourself a better system of keeping records. You know what you have to do - now DO it.” He’s so right. I just wish it was that easy. For some reason I seem to have a mental block. I always say I’m never going to let this happen again, and then it does. I’m embarrassed.

   I fly out at 6:20am tomorrow, and I come back next Sunday for two days before doing it all over again. He told me to bring my paperwork in Monday or Tuesday and said it’s not doing anyone any good to keep filing extensions every year. He’s right, but I guess I feel I get a little reprieve from the government or something by doing it, so I do. It‘s a crutch.

   Little does he know, when I got home I wasn’t able to find my paperwork for the life of me. I’ve moved everything around countless times recently as I’ve been clearing out all of my sports cards, sorting laundry, whatever. I obviously had to have put them somewhere, but I sure couldn’t find them today, no matter how hard I looked. I’ll find them when I get back, and take them in and get it done like I always do. But I really need a better system.

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

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Golden Rulebreakers

Monday August 9th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

The longer I walk this sorry excuse for a planet the more I am acquiring an utter disdain for at least 90% of the humanoid life forms walking here with me. I am not feeling like I belong, and it’s getting worse. If any aliens are reading this and would like to bring a new friend to your home planet, please come find me. I have a passport and I can leave today.

I usually don’t get this pissed off for very long, but today I’m not in the mood to take an ounce of poo from anyone. I’ve had it with the human race, and I’m cheering for a big old mushroom cloud to wipe out a few million so maybe some of these halfwits will wake up.

Here’s an example of the kinds of things that are chewing on my fanny. My web person Shelley lost her job at a restaurant chain. She’s got a husband and two really sweet kids at home, and like a lot of people she needs to work to put the family over the hump. She has a huge heart and works like few others, but she keeps getting screwed out of menial jobs.

She worked at a chocolate store in a mall, but that went sour. Then she found a job at an all night restaurant. That wasn’t her dream gig either, for many reasons. Then, she got this last gig and threw herself into it. She showed up and did her job just like she always does.

Then, yesterday she tells me not only did she get fired - they made her open the joint up by herself so the manager could sleep in. THEN, they took her to the office and dropped a bomb on her head. That’s about as brutal as it gets, and I can sure see why people flip out.

I hear story after story of this in all kinds of scenarios. Radio isn’t much better and there is a list of cold hearted devious bastards who’ve fired me over the years for no real reason that I would have not one ounce of guilt urinating my first and last name, mailing address and Social Security number on their open coffin, headstone or urn of cherished remains.

Inhuman people and actions really irritate us humans who are out here trying to play by some set of rules where everyone has at least a chance at fairness. It feels like life’s now a Road Warrior movie where everyone is for him or herself, and nice ones get rubbed out.

I’m really getting sick of it, and I know a lot of others are too. I’m trying to clear up my business before I head out on the ship and one of the things I did today was pay up on my credit card which is juiced up to the hilt. Most of it is from my dental pain of the last few years with all the root canals and crowns I’m still paying for, but not all. It’s a giant mess.

I got to thinking of all the times I’ve lent people money and it hasn’t come back, even if I politely ask for it. Paul Kelly owes me $500 for a car I sold him several years ago. I also sold Will Clifton another one of my auction rats so he could surprise his son with a car.

The waterhead kid got drunk and wrecked it within a month, and I haven’t seen a nickel of the money. It’s $1000 and I could sure use that and Kelly’s $500 right about now. The worst thing is if I owed both of those pukes half a buck they’d sue me on People’s Court.


The fat bastard who used to mismanage the Comedy CafĂ© in Milwaukee J.D. owes me a $400 debt for shows I did in 1994. I asked for it many times over the years, and he smiled and said “Prove it.” This is not what human beings do. This is how monkeys behave right before they start grabbing their genitals and throwing handfuls of dung. We’ve devolved.

My ex business partner who I trusted with my life embezzled $8000 and also laughed at me when I went after him for it. He grudgingly paid me back $1400 with checks that said ‘Loan Repayment’ when they should have said ‘Theft Restitution’. Then he sent one final one that said ‘Final Payment’. And it was. That’s the one thing he did tell the truth about.

I’m not the first person to get screwed over and neither is Shelley and neither is anyone else, but my question is why does it have to keep happening to people who are absolutely trying their hardest to be on the up and up? Bastards and criminals seem to get a free ride.

And don’t give me this ‘God’s will’ BS either. I’m having a major problem with that as well. Where is this ‘God’ guy, the one in the white robe with the long beard who rewards Cub Scouts for helping little old ladies across streets? Why isn’t He making things fair?

I’m losing it, man. I’ve had it up to my pasty white arse with the same old excuses that let bungholes slide time after time. If it were the opposite, good people wouldn’t get half the leniency the scumbags do. They wouldn’t. Liberty and justice for ALL? Not a chance.

But then there are the silent group of those who don’t bitch and complain, but just keep on slugging. They don’t wail about how the government owes them and they aren’t trying to get a free ride from anyone and they just want to make a decent life for themselves and their families. These people are mixed in randomly with the scumbags, and it’s a travesty.

The good ones come in all colors, sizes, shapes, locations, distinguishing characteristics and ages - and they’re left to fend for themselves against a world full of non thinking, non feeling oafs who are out to vanquish them from the planet so there’s more beer for them.

I haven’t been this down on humanity in a long time, and there’s no real reason for it as I see it either. Maybe I’m getting old and this is where I’m headed. Probably so. I just am beyond sick of seeing good people get stung by an unfair turn of events and have to take a backseat and not be able to do anything about it. Shelly should still have that job to go to.

I want my money from the grub worms who owe me. Granted, I gave them the power to screw me over by giving them the money in the first place. My bad. I treated them just as I would like to be treated. I learned that from that stupid thing called The Golden Rule. It apparently wasn’t meant for this particular planet, as we’ve screwed it up for millennia.

I’m not perfect and don’t claim to be better than anyone else, but I do try to make a few better choices. I don’t think it’s working, as here I am at this late age struggling like I’m a freshman in college. There’s another thing. I didn’t get to go there either, because nobody in my family thought it was important. Thanks Pop! Where are the aliens? Come get me.

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

Monday, August 9, 2010

Watered Down Thoughts

Sunday August 8th, 2010 - Kenosha, WI

   I’m in a low mood and I really shouldn’t be. But I am. I’m trying to figure out what did it but I don’t think it was just one thing. It’s a lot of little things coming together, but they add up and now I’m feeling lower than a cricket‘s pecker. I hope I’m not in another funk.

   Part of it is deep down I really don’t want to go out on the ship, especially for as long as I’m going. I really do appreciate the work and everyone there has been wonderful to work with, it’s just that the timing seems to be wrong. I would have loved this ten years ago.

   Even five years ago when I got fired from the radio gig at The Loop. I had money saved then, and I would have saved more and been sitting pretty right now and not had to really do much of anything I didn’t want to do. I think I would have appreciated it a lot more.

   I still do, and I’ll get to see some exotic places, even if it is in the dead of summer when it’s as hot as it gets. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some additional bookings at the peak times when it’s winter in the north. Eventually, I hope to be able to schedule myself whenever I want.

   I guess a lot of it boils down to freedom too. Money equals freedom of choice. I had the world by the t’aint just a few years ago, and I really didn’t know it. I was totally debt free when I went to Salt Lake City in 2000, and that’s when everything started to disintegrate.

   I had a nice radio gig making $50K a year, not great for a morning show in that size of a market, but very good for a cockroach like me used to piecing weeks together. I also did a lot of comedy out there, and lived off of that money and banked 100% of my radio salary.

   I had a nice apartment a mile from where I worked and a nice girlfriend and a shiny red Cadillac I paid cash for and life was on the up. I was saving money every week, then I got snaked into buying a house. That’s when it all came crashing down. Hard. It took a while, but eventually I lost the job and the house went a few months later. I’ve struggled since.

   Then I got the job at The Loop which turned things in a good way again. I started saving the radio money and again living on my comedy gigs. That turned things around in a short time, and life was again on the upswing. I was used to living like a bug and was in heaven knowing my car was paid for and I was putting money away every week. That’s success.

   I had zero debt and $40K in the bank and was just ending my first year and hoping we’d get signed to our second contract, which we would have done if the company hadn’t been sold. Instead of showing us respect, they showed us the door and it hasn’t been anywhere close to the same since. My partners Max and Spike have had to struggle just as I have.

   That was five years ago now, and it’s never going to come back. I didn’t think it would at the time, but I sure didn’t expect it to play out like it did. I’ve had to piece and paste all my life together month by month, trying to find the next somewhat steady gig. It looks to be the cruise ships, so I won’t complain. I’ll be grateful and go in and give my best work.

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

Making Up For Mistakes

Friday August 6th, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI

One annoying trait I’ve noticed continually in most of my least favorite people I’ve ever met is their refusal to admit and claim a mistake. Everyone or everything else but them or their actions was responsible for any given situation gone wrong - every time, all the time.

My father was totally like that, as was my Aunt Charlene. Neither one of them ever said they screwed something up, and it was comical after a while to hear how they would put a spin on anything to remove themselves from any blame whatsoever from any situation.

The funny thing is, they never got along - but they were exactly the same. I’ve been in a lot of radio situations where the bosses were like that also. They’d never ever admit it if a mistake was made, and the next thing I knew would be I’d been fired. How does that fly?

I may be personally chock full o’ faults in my own life, but admitting my mistakes isn’t one of them. It’s been a main theme for this diary and continues to be a major part of how I live my life on a daily basis. I fully admit I’ve made some terrible choices, but I want to turn them around and do things correctly as much as possible. That‘s not at all easy to do.

But who said life was easy? Nobody I know. Pimpin’ apparently ain’t easy, and neither is life itself. The key is what we all do to correct the things we can, and move on, hoping whatever lessons we learned will serve us well. I’d hate to screw up and not learn from it.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in recent years was buying the large collection of sports cards that I did. In theory, I had extra money at the time, and I’d planned on setting up at sports card shows across the country during the day, as I performed comedy at night.

Like Communism and several other things, that sounded great in theory and on paper. If I could have pulled it off, I’d have two streams of income, and life would be better in a lot of ways. I was never able to do it, for whatever reasons. Some were legit, but the facts are I never turned a profit with it and all I had was a huge pile of cardboard clogging my life.

I could have chosen to do nothing, and let them sit - just as they have been for much too long now. That’s not what a winner would do, so today I packed the whole lot of them in the back of my car and drove them to Milwaukee to my friend Rich who sells sports cards on Ebay for a living. I’ve known Rich forever and he said he’d help me liquidate my pile.

He didn’t have to do that, but he said he would and I’m taking him up on it. I’ve helped a lot of people in my life, and when it comes back it’s greatly appreciated. Rich will assist in sorting and pricing and helping me move it as quickly as possible, which still may take a while. There’s a lot of stuff there and it’s in all kinds of conditions. That’s how I got it.

There is no doubt I made a big mistake buying these. Life circumstances were different then, and I did it. Now I need to undo it, probably at a loss. I can’t worry about that now, I will take what I can get and humbly accept it. I’ve learned a lesson, and will grow from it.

The hardest part is, I can’t just hit a reboot button and start all over. I thought about this before I did it, and even imagined the worst case scenario, which is exactly what occurred almost to a tee. The entire sports card business is on thin ice, but I still love it anyway. I’ll be hooked on old cards as long as I’m alive, but right now I can’t afford to be involved.

Like a lot of things, it can be a time and money sucker without immediate or guaranteed payoff. There were no guarantees I’d make my money back much less a profit, but it sure did sound like a great idea at least for a while. What I didn’t think of was all of the hidden costs like table fees at shows, theft, and travel expenses. There’s also the risk of damage.

Rich had some water in his basement last week in an area he’d never had it before, and he’s lived in that house since he was 5 years old. He had to throw out some collectibles he never thought he would, and that fear does exist with all dealers. Fire, water damage, theft and even natural disasters like tornadoes or earthquakes can wipe out a collection quickly.

We talked about exactly that as Rich and I unloaded my car in his driveway and brought the boxes into his living room. He’ll sort it for me and has some people who may want to take some of the newer stuff off my hands. I’m sure the price will be low, but at this point I just want it all GONE. I bought it a few years ago now, and I just want to recoup and go.

Another mistake I made in the last few years is with the comedy clubs in Milwaukee. If I could change it I would, but I can’t. The fact is, most of them have been run by anything from gangster wannabes to novice Polocks, and the comedians have been treated poorly.

I’ve worked them all in my time, and the one place I’ve always been treated fairly is at a place called Jokerz. I was one of the first headliners they booked, but it was through a guy who no longer books the room. He asked me to stop working there, and since I’ve known him over twenty years, I said I would. I chose to work another club I’d also worked for.

That owner called me too, and asked that I would work only his club and if I did he said he’d “make it worth my while” and “take care of me.” Yes sir, he did that alright. He put me in the trick bag and bounced my check - THE number one sin a club should never do.

That whole situation was a huge mess and continues to leak raw sewage into my life as my reaction to the check being bounced wasn’t very pleasant. First off, I accepted a check from a Polock - red flag number one. Then I bitched about it and took it out on his special needs child which got his tarantula wife all caffeinated and pissed off and it started a war.

The truth is, I never should have stopped working at Jokerz in the first place. I liked the staff from the start, and I still do. There’s a manager there named Natalie who is a people person and a sweetheart all the way. She took me back, and I did my first show tonight.

The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was very friendly and the show was really fun. My friend from high school Joe Kubicek came out, a former Milwaukee cop. He’s been a supporter for years and I appreciate not only that, but Jokerz for having me back. I felt I was home.

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

Gotta Get There

Saturday August 7th, 2010 - Algonquin, IL/Milwaukee, WI

Sometimes the hardest part of comedy is getting there when your name is called. Today was a perfect example, and I always say I’m never going to let it happen again…until the next time it happens. Stress and angst were a bigger part of my day than the comedy part.

I had two separate gigs booked tonight - one show at a golf course in Algonquin, IL and then two shows at Jokerz Comedy Club in Milwaukee. Of course, each of those places are in opposite directions of where I live, so I knew my travel time would be a major issue.

I measured how far I had to go and how much time I was supposed to have to do it and it came out pretty close. I tried to coordinate it with both parties, telling each of them my situation beforehand to avoid confusion. The country club promised to get me on and off so I’d be able to make it to Jokerz, who in turn agreed to start their show a little bit later.

On paper, in theory, I would be fine. I gassed up my car and had my proof of insurance ready in case I was pulled over, and had my map all laid out of the route I’d had planned for several days. For once I thought I was ready, and was confident I’d be able to do this.

This is a variation of a situation every live performer has encountered WAY too many times to count. There are X number of miles to travel in Y amount of time, and variables like road construction or a train delay are never figured in and then it becomes a flat out race to get there in time. Making the money is important and we’ll risk our life to get it.

I pulled up to the golf course at exactly the time I said I’d be there, and of course they’d been drinking and golfing all day and were running late for dinner. I’d worked for them in the past, and they liked me enough to bring me back again so I didn’t complain - but I did say I was on a tight time schedule and needed to be off so I could get back up to Jokerz.

They sat everyone down and started bringing the food out, and then brought me up right in the middle of that so I had to deal with waiters and waitresses walking past where I was standing. There was a wireless microphone, but no stage or lighting so I had to stand right in front of a long table of prizes and awards that were going to give away after the meal.

I could hear the clinking of silverware on plates and some people weren’t looking at me while others weren’t even facing me at the tables where they sat. Some were talking with each other, others were talking with the wait staff. This was not the ideal show situation.

I’d been in front of these people last year, all baseball umpires of all things. They were a little drunker this year, and I could feel it. I opened with some standard lines that are solid 99% of the time and they just laid there so I knew I’d have to adjust and find a new route.

Actually, it found me. A couple of the drunker guys in back started piping up comments and I was able to slam them, much to the delight of the other guys. It was all male so I got a little blue, which they all loved. I could tell what I had to do to get them to come along.

How many times have I been in this situation? I’ve lost count. They weren’t bad people at all, but the situation was extremely difficult. They all knew each other and maybe a few of them remembered me from last year, but I doubt it. I had to really be in top form here.

This was survival mode. By the time I got on it was about a half hour later than we had agreed on, but what could I do? That’s how these things tend to go, and I needed the cash so I took the risk. Now I was up there in the middle of dinner deflecting heckler darts so I could do my time and get in the car and start racing to Milwaukee to do two more shows.

A few of the guys started stepping up to the plate and trying their hand with me and that was a big mistake. I launched them left and right and the more I jammed them the more it went over with the rest of the audience. They loved it, and when I said good night I got an unbelievable pop from the audience. Some were even standing, but I had to start driving.

I got my check and started my journey north to Milwaukee. Of course I hit every kind of traffic construction there could be, and also got behind every nose picking, phone chatting Illinois road ape there was out driving tonight, and of course that was every single one.

Frustration and tension built as I pounded my Toyota’s accelerator to the floor. I was up to about 90-95 a few times, and then I thought better and slowed it down. I went the long way, but it was freeway so I thought that would be easier. I took I-43 north and barely got to Jokerz by 9pm when I was scheduled to go on. I dashed in and went right up on stage.

I’ve never enjoyed doing that, and it took a minute or two to get adjusted. I did find my rhythm, and the audience never knew that I’d risked life and limb to get there on time for the show and they didn’t care. It’s not their job. It’s my responsibility to get to work when my show starts. I’ve always hated these situations though. It‘s just too much of a drain.

But what am I supposed to do - turn down the money? Right now I can’t do that, so this was the only choice. At least it wasn’t the worst case scenario which would have been not making it for the show at all. I’ve done that too, and that’s about as frustrating as life gets.

The first show went fine, and the staff at Jokerz are really wonderful to work with. They knew the deal, and were very supportive. We texted back and forth the whole way so they knew how close I was as I sped like a maniac to get there. It was like a James Bond movie or something. I did make it when I said I would, but this was way too close for my tastes.

The second show was a surreal nightmare. There was a bachelorette party that went off the deep end and had to be thrown out, right during my show of course. It was very tense, as there was yelling and loud confrontation and I had to try to tip toe around it on stage.

My friend Drew Olson came out to hang, and he witnessed yet another example of how difficult comedy can really be, at least on this level. I didn’t tell him about the rest of the night, but he’s been around long enough to know how it is. This was a day of high stress, and I earned every penny I made. The sad part is, it’s all going to go to paying off bills.

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

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Russians And Lutherans

Thursday August 5th, 2010 - Waukegan, IL

   I’d like to meet the anal retentive S.O.B. that can keep up with everything that has to be looked after in 21st century life. I have a hard time believing anyone can do it. There’s just too much to do, and too little time to do it. I know I’m having major difficulty, and I only have me to look after. If one little thing goes wrong, it throws everything else off course.

   One little thing rarely goes wrong though, it’s a cluster of major things. That really puts everything into a state of total disarray, and trying to manage it is like trying to keep a pit of snakes under control just by talking to them. For some reason, snakes just don’t listen.

   I was all over the place today, getting myself ready to head out to sea next week. I broke yet another dental filling so it was back for an unexpected stop at the old Russian shop of dental horrors to get drilled on - again. They really do great work there, but there’s not an ounce of sympathy for pain. They waited in line for toilet paper, I better learn to shut up.

   They’re actually very nice people, but I do notice a hardness about them in some ways. I guess I’d have it too if I grew up in Russia, so I don’t complain. My dentist this time was a Lithuanian woman with a great sense of humor. She told me to stop moving my tongue or she’d cut it off. She said she’d already cut off two and a third would win her a jackpot.

   That probably doesn’t translate very well, but she delivered it perfectly with her accent and it put me in a good mood because it was unexpected. She showed more humor in five minutes than in all the others I’ve dealt with in probably twenty five visits over the years.

   I was surprised my credit card worked, but it did, and now I’m in a financial hole bigger than the one that was in my tooth. I need this money from the ships to bail me out at least a little, and to make it worse I still haven’t filed my income taxes yet. I filed an extension.

   My accountant called today and said there’s a problem with the IRS. They said they had not received my return for last year, even though I know I mailed it. I have to see him this coming Monday to straighten it out, and that’s more money I don’t have to pay him to file this year’s return. It just keeps coming and I have no defense. I just have to deal with it.

   After the dentist I went to get a haircut, then did my laundry after that. I had a mountain built up and was out of socks and underwear. I also answered a fermenting stack of phone messages along with some emails I’d been needing to get to and all in all it was a tornado.

   My friend Karl Newyear invited me for dinner at The Quonset, a great pizza joint in his hometown of Waukegan. We flip flop buying, and it was his turn. Good thing, as I’m all tapped out at the moment. We had a hot waitress that distracted us both, but we liked it.

   Karl bills himself as ‘The World’s Funniest Lutheran’ which is a great gimmick. He has a job and just got married, but he’s getting an itch to perform. I get it, but it’s not always an easy sell at home or work. Check out Karl’s site at www.worldsfunniestlutheran.com.

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

Growth Hormone

Wednesday August 4th, 2010 - Lake Villa, IL

   I’m still thinking a lot about my comedic evolution process. The gig on the cruise ships is going to cause me to do it in a hurry, as will the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show focusing on life in Milwaukee thirty years ago. It might not be creatively satisfying to dummy it down to the masses, but it’ll be good training. I’ll find my inner essence, and grow from there.

     I’ve always been able to adapt and get laughs, even as a kid in school. I’m not worried a bit I’ll find a direction to go, I just want to make it consistent. Playing ‘Mr. Lucky’ is very fun to do on stage, but hell in real life. I do like the angle of one guy having absolutely the worst luck and timing on the planet, but will it be enough to build a career on? We’ll see.

   I guess I could evolve more into ‘that guy’, but I don’t know if I want to. I’ve never had a solid consistent 45 minute headliner set doing only ‘Mr. Lucky’ bits. Maybe that’s a big part of the reason I’m not farther along than I think I should be, but it’s true. I have bits to define the character a little, but they’re not very deep. It’s more of an underlying side bar.

   It might be a good way to go for the ships and the Milwaukee show, but I’m not totally sold yet. One thing I am sold on is keeping it clean. I’ve never been a filthy act, but in my travels I’ve never seen someone who keeps it clean get hurt by that. Ever. It’s just a smart business decision. I’ve heard swearing my whole life and it doesn’t offend me in the least.

   My father was a biker, and he and his minions could turn a room bluer than someone’s face choking on a chicken bone. The funny thing is, my grandmother could out cuss them all. She was a master, and when she let it rip those bikers knew they‘d met their match.

   I can hold my own when it comes to salty language, but on stage I don’t find it adds to a show very often. In certain circumstances, a few cleverly placed words can punch up a bit and add texture, but like most spices - too much ruins the whole dish. Most young comics have NO idea how to keep it clean these days, so when I get on the crowd has heard it all.

    That never sets a good tone for any show, and it’s not a matter of being offended as it is an issue with being able to use those words for surprise when necessary. A well placed ‘F bomb’ is one of the biggest weapons in comedy. I’ve seen it and used it myself at times to punctuate a line and fracture an audience. But - it should be saved for the right occasion.

   That’s still not what I’m talking about as far as evolution though. When I started, I liked to work the audience a lot more than I do now. One thing I have been given is a quick wit. I’ve always had it, even as a kid. I could nail someone with a line like a sniper without an effort. I don’t know why, but I could. I can still throw out lines naturally, and I enjoy it.

   Evolution. Reinvention. Growth. I’ll be doing all these in the immediate future. It’s part of entertainment and life itself. Nobody stays a kid forever. Even Beaver Cleaver grew up eventually. We all move on. It’s that time for me, and I want to find something I can sink my teeth into for a few years until it’s time to do it again. I’m starting to see how it works.

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