Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quarterly Interest

Thursday March 31st, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Here it is the end of the first quarter already and I’m only just now beginning to feel like I’m recovering from the rigorous grind of cruise ships and everything else I’ve been doing in this last year. I think I was more mentally tired than anything, but I did need a breather.

   I admit I’ve farted around for the last month or so, and I’m not ashamed at all. I enjoyed it. I needed it too. I was hitting it pretty hard there for a while, and I could feel right where my limits were. I don’t often push those, and I ended up sucking all my energy reserves.

   Now I feel I’m ready to get back out there and start working again. I need to have a plan in place this time though. I’ve been wandering aimlessly for too long. It’s time to put it all together and do whatever it is I’m going to do in life. This is my one big shot with a pistol that took a lifetime to load. What do I shoot for? This is my choice, so I better be careful.

   I want to get all I can out of the creative abilities with which I was blessed. I want to put my all into creating, developing and selling as many products as I can, and I can use a big seller right about now to kick things off. I’ve got lots of ideas, but limited time to work on them all. Now it becomes a matter of using my time efficiently and in the correct order.

   I have to consciously focus on my projects from start to finish, and learn to delegate the tasks I’m not good at. I have to work on one project at a time, and I have to keep records of progress so I can see what needs to be improved at a glance. These are all major steps, and it will take major change on my part to get as many of them done as I humanly can.

   That’s probably going to mean cutting back on lunches with comedians and friends like Marc Schultz, and even women I like. I love hanging out and bouncing ideas around with friends, but it’s not always the most efficient way to spend my time, especially right now.

   I need to plan my lunches and dinners carefully, at least for the next few months. I want to crank out as much and as many sellable products as humanly possible in these next six months from April 1st to October 1st, and that will take concentrated effort each and every day. I’ve got some comedy bookings then, but not that hectic out of control pace I was on.

   I’ve said all this before, and then some rinky dink gig comes up in Wyoming and before I know it I’m in my car wondering if I’ll make it. I’ve really got to stop doing that, and get to work on something that can pay off in the future. The road pays no dividends. It takes.

   I spent the last few days hanging out with some of my favorite comedy people like Karl Newyear (The World’s Funnies Lutheran), Bob ‘Wilbur’ Williams and Gary Pansch from The Mothership Connection radio show. They are all good guys, and we had a lot of fun.

   But now I choose to come out swinging in these next six months and step up my effort a little. I need to spread out more tasks to more people, and work on other things to help my life be more well rounded. If I can pull it off, this could be the best six months of my life.

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

Structure And Routine

Wednesday March 30th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Structure and routine. There’s an unbelievably fine line in humans between craving and  loathing it, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly where that line is. 100% complete and total freedom is what we all think we want, but once it’s attained boredom sets in quickly.

   How many people have counted the days until retirement from some job they hated, but when it finally comes, the thrill is gone in less than a month? They end up either dying or finding something else to do that has some kind of structure to keep their mind working.

   I’ll admit, I’ve avoided structure for the better part of my adult life and now I’m paying for it. I had a lot of fun and toured North America, but had I made a better battle plan and stuck to it I’d be in a lot better position than I am today. There IS a need for structure and routine after all, it’s just a matter of how much. It’s rarely fun, but it does insure growth.

   That’s where I am now. I need more structure in every area of my life, but not so much  that it’s going to strangle my creativity and cramp my style. I have a lot of ideas for things I want to achieve, but I’m still a little shaky when it comes to going after them properly.

   I’ll work a little here and a little there, and get a little done. That’s not close to being the way to do it correctly. Do you think Ray Kroc did that with McDonald’s? Hell no. He put a plan together and created a system, then he recreated it in every one of his restaurants.

  I have to buckle down and make a workable plan for what I’m doing, and then create my own system. The trouble is, I’ve got a lot of things I want to do. I may have to take a step back and get one going, then when that’s up I can start the next one. But that’s BORING.

  It is for me anyway. I like having all kinds of things going at once. I don’t know why I’m comfortable with it, but I totally am. Maybe it’s A.D.D. or maybe it’s because that’s what I’ve always been used to in my life. Whatever it is, it’s not working out the way I want it to so that means I’ll have to make adjustments or it’s going to continue to be a let down.

   I was supposed to have a dinner date but it got postponed. Instead, I met with my friend Bob ‘Wilbur’ Williams. He’s a former student, and very funny guy. He’s an exceptionally gifted writer, and I wish I could pay him what he’s worth to create jokes and situations for a Mr. Lucky sitcom. That character is meant for TV, even if I’m not the one to play him.

  We talked about how Carl Reiner came up with the character of Rob Petrie based on his own life experiences, but it was Dick Van Dyke who played the role on the show. He did a fantastic job with it too, and Carl was still able to play Alan Brady and contribute to the mix as well. I would have no problem with someone else playing Mr. Lucky on a show.

   Wilbur would be a great sitcom writer, but that’s just not where entertainment seems to be going these days. Still, he’s on my go to list of creative people and I’ve got a rock solid one in place. The talent is ready, I just need a project that pays to be able to hire them all.

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Revised Radio Rant

Tuesday March 29th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL (revised)

   One thing I’ve been able to do in life is admit when I’m wrong. Apparently I’d obtained the wrong information on the radio firing of John Jagler at AM 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee today and I apologize for including him in my previous rant about the insanity of radio.

   I don’t apologize for ranting about the cruel nature of radio though. It’s out of control as far as the cannibalization of its employees go. I’ve been witness to it first hand five times and every one of them has come about for reasons I still can’t understand. It wasn’t a lack of ability on my part, and it rarely is. They always seem to be going in a ‘new direction’.

   Unfortunately, that direction is usually south. Of the five stations I’ve gotten fired from, four of those are no longer on the air and the other continues to struggle badly. Their ‘new direction’ turned out to be a lot worse than the one they were headed when I was working for them. The major complaint I have is how management doesn’t treat us like humans.

   One thing I did get correct was that sports talk host Bill Michaels is no longer employed at WTMJ. I’m not exactly sure what happened other than his contract wasn’t renewed and it’s none of my business, but I did read where Bill Michaels said he was surprised about it and didn’t fully expect it. That’s all I had to hear, and I feel for the guy. He got taken out.

   Other than maybe sports coaches, I can’t think of another business that’s so quick to fire people out of the blue. I don’t know Bill well, but I’ve met him and know people who are friends of his. I’ve heard him during Packer coverage and listened to his sports talk show, as I’m a big sports talk listener in general. He worked hard and I’m sorry he was gassed.

   He wasn’t the first one though. I was a big fan of Steve ‘The Homer’ True on WISN for years, and he got let go after his contract was up. He’s now on AM 540 ESPN Radio and still sounds great. I’ll take at least a little credit for introducing Homer to Craig Karmazin at a comedy show years ago, and they ended up working out a deal that’s still going now.

   I love hanging out on ‘The D List’ on ESPN Radio. The vibe in that building is a whole lot better than most other stations I’ve been around. Sure, people come and go as happens in all work places, but I don’t sense a gun to the head atmosphere there from Craig and he treats his employees very well from my observation. I’m a big fan of the whole operation.

   My whole point is, I think people who are competent and want to work should be get to do exactly that, especially after putting in years of loyal service. If there has to be changes made, fine - but don’t just blow the person out the door with no way of earning a living.

   That’s no way to treat human beings, yet it happens all the time. I think there could be a lot more class shown without that much effort. Most broadcast companies have properties elsewhere and at least a token offer of other employment could be offered. It’s only right, but that’s just my opinion apparently. I’ve never seen it happen in real life. I send positive vibes to Bill Michaels and everyone else who’s been fired in radio. It’s very unnecessary.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WTMJ Radio Firings

Tuesday March 29th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   The grim reaper of radio must be working on commission. I’ve never seen a business so bound and determined to fire its people en masse with such cold heartedness. I’ve had my own name called five times in four time zones, and every one has been ice cold and ugly.

   Today the ax fell at AM 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee with twin casualties - morning news co-anchor John Jagler and evening sports talk host Bill Michaels. I never met John Jagler but I have briefly crossed paths with Bill Michaels. Either way, I can feel for them both.

   They both had meetings in which an office door was closed, and within scant minutes a member of management recited a few well oiled clichés informing both of them they’d be no longer working at the station. There was paperwork to fill out, and then each one had to go clean out a work area which took years to accumulate piles of paper, junk and trash.

   Time began to slow down as they filled a makeshift box with years of memories pulled from desk drawers and their entire tenure at the station flashed in front of their eyes. They fought back tears, and it became a surreal situation that this was indeed the end of the line at a place they’d come to the point of taking for granted. But in an instant, it was all gone.

   Each one had to have security walk them to the door, and they had to be completely out of the building within an hour or two. Other employees heard about it and a few may have come over to say good bye, but more stayed away until it was over because they all know they could be next. Both guys loaded their cars, and left the parking lot for the last time.

   Does any radio person really deserve to get treated like that? I seriously doubt it. They’d been showing up for years, and became part of the furniture. They’re people, just trying to make a living like anyone else. The company has a lot of other stations, couldn’t someone try to find them a job somewhere else or at least give a heads up a few weeks beforehand?

   Nope. That would make too much sense. That would be ‘nice’ and human rather than a calculating heartless execution that’s completely uncalled for, but happens all the time at all kinds of stations coast to coast. That’s how that business is, and it stings to the bone.

   The same thing happened to Phil Cianciola at WTMJ a while back. I always thought he was extremely talented and should be handed the afternoon shift when Jonathan Green’s tenure came to an end. They humiliated him too, and kudos to him for fighting back with his own pod cast. Still, I think all of those guys should have a job. They’ve all earned it.

   I know business is business and all that, but we’re all humans too. Couldn’t the station try to sit down and help them relocate and continue their lives after dedicating a chunk of it to the station? To me this would be a no brainer, but I guess that’s why I’m still fired.

   Not that it means much coming from me, but my heart goes out to those guys. I’ve been where they are and it’s not fun. Radio is what it is, and I wish all the best to both of them.

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Critter Communication

Sunday March 27th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   Back for yet another Sunday evening radio ride on The Mothership Connection on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. We always have fun, and no matter how down and out I may feel on any given Sunday I’m always in a good mood on the air because that’s why we do the show in the first place. We all contribute to the mix, and we’re a nice ensemble cast.

  Tonight’s topic was animal communication, or ‘pet psychic’. Our guest was a nice lady from Madison, WI named Asia Voight, who is apparently an expert in her field. She was a wonderful guest, and really knew her stuff. Our co-hosts brought their animals, and she nailed one accurate reading after the next. It was astonishing to watch her rattle it all off.

   I never had many pets as a kid, and as an adult I’ve been on the road traveling so it’s not possible for me to have pets of my own. It’s bad enough I’ve had to drive all these miles a year as me - I’d never want to put a poor animal through any of that. That would be cruel.

   Just because I never had pets doesn’t mean I’m not an animal lover or wouldn’t assist in promoting any animal related causes. I want to cry every time I see the commercial on TV with Sarah McLachlan asking for monthly pledges to help some animal get help it needs.

   There was a comic I worked with years ago named Ric Schraeder who was a vegetarian only because he didn’t want any animals to die just so he could eat. That’s a noble cause I was never able to follow, but I sure admire him for doing it. That takes true commitment.

   Asia said she discovered she had the gift of communicating with animals since she was a kid and was surprised everyone else didn’t as well. Maybe we do, and she’s just had the ability to get and stay in touch with it this long. She amazed everyone with all her dead on questions that were supposedly ‘animal messages’. Learn more at

   Who am I to say if anything we talk about on the radio show is real or not? I think there is a whole lot more to the universe and life as we know it than I’m able to grasp with my little old dimly lit low watted appliance bulb of a brain. I’ve learned to shut my cake hole and open two ears and let the experts speak what they know. That’s why the show works.

   Plus, we just have fun doing it. There’s zero money to fight over so we all show up each week because we enjoy everything about it. It’s fun to be on the air, and it shows. I like to go by a policy of ‘HAVING fun but not MAKING fun’ and everyone else follows along.

   There’s never any reason to take someone’s dignity or gang up on a defenseless outsider like so many radio shows do. I never want to operate that way. We are regular people who talk about interesting subjects in a fun way. That formula has worked out very well so far.

   The only other comedian I can think of that has so many varied projects going on is Jeff Foxworthy. The big difference is, he gets PAID - and very well. I haven’t worked that out yet, but when I do look out. Fun and money together have to be the greatest combo ever.

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

A Wasted Favor

Saturday March 26th, 2011 - McHenry, IL

   I really am trying to be a nice guy in this life, but the nicer I am the more I get scorched. Tonight I agreed to do a show for a comedian who lives in my area and is trying to start a regular show at a joint in McHenry, IL - maybe a ten minute drive from where I’m living.

   I’ve always gotten along with the guy, even though the give/take ratio in favors has him taking by about 95%. Whatever. I’m used to it by now. I’ve always had the policy if I can give or help, I do. I try not to keep score and hope it all evens out in the end. Am I stupid?

   When I showed up, all the red flags went up of a horrific experience. There was a small room with a bar and no stage, a rinky dink sound system and I heard within minutes there would be no cover charge for people to see the show. I wanted to get in my car and leave immediately, but I told the guy I‘d do the show for him so I shut my mouth and sat down.

   We were supposed to start at 7:30, but didn’t get going until well after 8. That’s another red flag, as it usually serves to rile those who arrived for the original start time. I’ve had it happen before, and don’t need to keep reliving it over and over again. I’m past all of this.

   By the time the show did get going, the comedian who’d set it up had partaken in a few swallows of hooch and was feeling a little tipsy. He went a bit long and was all over the place, and I again rolled my eyes wondering why I couldn’t have said no and had a night off. I like to perform, that’s why. Me and my stupid need for the attention of strangers.

   The highlight of the evening was watching one of my former students Elly Greenspahn do the feature spot at my request. She’s a teacher in Chicago Public Schools and has been at comedy for five or six years now. She’s been making some nice progress and I wanted to give her a chance to have practice at doing a longer set in front of a suburban audience.

   She really pulled it off, even though the sound system was pretty weak and the lighting on the stage was a single bulb, and a dim one at that. Her stage persona is developing very nicely, and the audience loved her. I can see television written all over her and I was glad I could throw her the stage time. She went a little short, but that’s fine. She gave it her all.

   By the time I got on, alcohol became a factor and a few people started to talk. I saw I’d have to take charge, and that’s exactly what I did. It made it tougher without a good sound system, but I’ve got experience and knew what to do. I just didn‘t feel like having to do it.

   They laughed hard, but I still had to deal with talking pockets most of the night. I don’t want to have to do that at this stage of my life, and it wasn’t fun at all. Then to make it all worse, the guy handed me a check at the end of the night. And it was $50 short. Not good.

   What am I going to do, yell at the guy? I took the gig and assumed all would be handled professionally. WRONG. I will be pissed if the check bounces, but it’s my fault for taking one. This was too much stress for a piss poor pay off. Please don‘t ask me for any favors.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Raising Expectations Immediately

Friday March 25th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Chicago, IL

   Time to make some hard decisions. I’ve pecked away a little at all the projects I’ve said I want to tackle this year, but the progress is just not enough. I need to improve by a lot if I’m going to make any progress with anything. I’ll have to fire myself up, or fire myself.

   One of the major downsides of self employment is that there can be too much freedom, and that can do just as much or more damage as not enough. If I went to work at Wendy’s and wasn’t cranking out enough burgers per hour, I might get a warning but eventually I’d be shown the door. There’s an expectation level there, and they have the right to set one.

   I have an absolutely enormous expectation level set for myself, but the problem is it can be overwhelming at times. I’m trying to build a skyscraper by myself with popsicle sticks, and that’s just not realistic. I have to take proper steps in proper order, make up a tangible plan of action and actually follow it day in and day out until what I envision comes to be.

   That’s really tough  to pull off, especially alone, and it’s impossible to pull off without a fully detailed plan. I’ve gotten better at my planning in the last year or so, especially when I was out working the cruise ships. I’ve got a nice outline laid out, but it’s still not there.

   Here it is, almost the end of the first quarter already and what have I done? Not a whole lot, and nowhere near what I thought I’d have done by now. Things do get in the way and there are legitimate reasons as to why I’m behind, but not one of them are and excuse and I refuse to settle for the piss poor progress I’m making. Time to kick it in the ass. Today.

   There’s no reason I shouldn’t be living all of my dreams right now. I’ve pissed away so much of my life making mistakes and dealing with my own stupidity that I’ve left myself precious little time to make something good happen. Many of those mistakes have taught me valuable lessons, and now I’d like to try success for a while and see how that fits me.

   I’m very disappointed with my level of achievement, not only for my whole life to date but for this year especially. I’ve got to get organized and get others working with me on a team basis if I’m ever going to move past the level of bottom feeder scavenger that I am.

   I don’t want to be at this level anymore, but I also don’t want to have to be a full blown 100% all beef class A New York Style wankeroo either. My grandpa always told me the most difficult challenge in life is to be a good person and a success. It’s the golden ring.

   Well, that’s exactly what I’m shooting for. I know me and I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the most difficult anyway so why hide it anymore? Failure I can take, not giving maximum effort I can’t. I know I can do better, and I need to start right now.

     I will begin immediately to improve myself on every level and make plans to do it on a bigger scale and with other people involved on the team. Between Uranus Factory Outlet, comedy, comedy classes, exercising and organizing, I’ve got plenty to occupy my time.

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

Every Single Day

Thursday March 24th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   It takes a truly rare breed of human animal to thoroughly enjoy being famous and all the strains that go with it. We’ve all dreamt of walking down the red carpet at the Oscars with cameras flashing and screaming fans begging for autographs. That actually might be fun!

   Fun for how long though, maybe a half hour tops? And, dreams can easily be turned on and off in the mind instantly and at will. True fame cannot, and people become prisoners of it depending on their individual personalities. Some are better equipped mentally for it than others, but eventually even the best of the best have to get sick of always being ‘on‘.

   Technology doesn’t help either. Today being famous is a 24/7 gig, with no time off for good behavior. Paparazzi are squatting in the driveway waiting to snap pics of celebrities taking out their garbage these days, and I don’t think I’d ever enjoy that, however big of a ham I might be. I’m actually more of a bacon slice, one little piece usually takes care of it.

   It can be flattering to be recognized in public, especially when the person is a fan. I just had it happen a few days ago when I went to get a haircut. I got a sandwich afterward and the lady behind the counter had seen me at Zanies. When I first walked in she stared right at me and locked in her gaze. It was odd. I thought maybe my haircut looked extra goofy.

   I made my order, and we joked back and forth a little, and it was only then she asked if I was a comedian at Zanies. I asked her if she thought I looked funny and she launched into “My husband and I couldn’t stop laughing. We think you’re the funniest guy EVER!”

   I thanked her and meant it, and that made everyone else in the restaurant turn and gawk at me while I waited for my sandwich to be made. I’m sure nobody else probably had any clue of who I was, and that makes it even more awkward. I smiled and waited, but I could totally feel eyes on me as I picked up my food and went and ate it. It was uncomfortable.

   After I was done eating I made sure to make eye contact and smile and wave on the way out. Usually I carry pairs of free tickets with me for Zanies but of course I didn’t have any with me that day, nor did I have a copy of my ‘Hard Luck Jollies’ CD either. I usually do.

  That particular situation I handled well though, and I could tell by the look on the lady’s face she really did recognize me and in a positive way. I was nice to her and really meant it, and I made a point of acknowledging her before I left. I wanted her to feel appreciated.

   I’m not even close to being what could be legitimately called ‘famous‘, and I wouldn’t be able to begin to imagine what it must be like to be someone truly known like a Charlie Sheen or a Lady Gaga. Whether I like them or not, they’re about as recognized as it gets.

   Who was the most famous person of the 20th Century? Elvis? Michael Jackson? Hitler? Muhammad Ali? Richard Simmons? Carrot Top? Whoever it was, I bet they were sick of getting asked to sign autographs every time they walked out in public. I know I would.

   The reason I’m bringing any of this up at all is, believe it or not I get a healthy share of hate mail on a semi regular basis. I can’t believe why I’d matter that much for anybody to want to dash me off a nasty note, but apparently there are some restless souls out there.

   I’m not talking about those I may have had run ins with in the past for whatever reason, I’m talking about total strangers taking time to seek me out and send me emails telling me in lurid detail just how much my blog sucks and that I should stop writing it immediately.

    There’s usually some form of the statement “I read your blankety-blank little diary every single day and it’s SO blankety-blank terrible it makes me puke…” Really? Terrible I can handle, that’s an opinion and you’re entitled to one. But, you read it “every single day?”

   Am I over at your trailer forcing you at gunpoint to do that? Not “every single day” I’m not. Not once a week or once a month. Not ever. YOU are the one who CHOOSES to put yourself through the self torture of reading it that often, so I can’t say I feel any sympathy.

   Do I think I’m some self important hotshot writer now? Not in the least. I don’t claim to be a writer at all actually. I’m a journeyman road comic, still out here hacking out a living after a lifetime of dumb mistakes and rotten breaks. And - I’m a whiner, a kook, a student of humanity, but most of all I’m a dented can cataloging the events of my life. That’s it.

   I don’t claim to be better than anyone else, or even that my opinions are right. I just take a few minutes every day and jot down what I’m feeling, warts and all. I do it for me, and I don’t think about who reads it or if anyone even reads it at all. It‘s a daily exercise for me.

   Hopefully I can help aspiring comedians and entertainers in general both now and after I’m dead have an idea they’re not the only ones out there struggling or getting their teeth kicked in by idiots and scumbags. This is a difficult business, and not many will ever talk about what a grind it can be. I want to let the curious know what it’s like from the inside.

   Truth be told, I wanted this to be the comedy version of Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four”, of which I’m still a huge fan. He spoke of what it’s like to be a major league ball player, something a lot of people want to do but never get the chance. The same is true with life on the road as a comedian. People think they want it but have no idea of what it entails.

   So, if you’re one of those who read my ramblings “every single day” and hate it beyond words, I’ve got two well chosen words just for you - PISS OFF. I couldn’t care less if you don’t like my diary or even if you don’t like me personally. A lot of people don’t like me, and it’s always been that way. The good thing is, a lot of others do, and that’s my saver.

   I don’t claim to be perfect, and never have. I don’t even claim to be good at writing this diary, even though I’m into my sixth full year now. I just want to have something to show for my time on this planet after I leave it other than an abused corpse filled with red meat and sugar, and a lengthy line of creditors searching for some mysterious stash of cash I’ve managed to hide from everyone. Sorry, it’s not there. All I have that’s really mine is this.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pendulum Upswing

Wednesday March 23rd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   The pendulum was swinging in the good direction today, and I love when that happens. I felt myself on a bit of a slide there, but only briefly. Now I’m definitely on the upswing, and it’s time to plow ahead and get to work. This is the time to put in maximum effort.

   I really am delighted I got the call from the club manager in Michigan yesterday. That’s a major deal, as I thought that situation was severed forever. When I’m wrong, I’ll freely admit it but that wasn’t one of those times. I feel vindicated getting back in there and I’ll go in and light it up when I do go back. That’s one of my favorite clubs in the country.

  What amazes me is how clearly the message is that I needed to learn those lessons I did from all this. It was a nightmare while it was happening, and caused me to lose those who I thought were friends, but it also taught me how to conduct myself business wise and not ever have to let it happen again. Even getting embezzled was a lesson, and I see that now.

   Am I still pissed off at those who did it? I thought about that honestly today, and I have to say I don’t even think about them anymore. I have no feelings at all. It was exactly like when I heard of my father’s death. The damage was done, but I wasn’t thinking of him at all so it had no reaction. Not at first anyway. I feel the same with this. I don’t really care.

   I guess that’s a lesson in itself too. No matter how bad someone gets scorched, the cure for it is to just move on and let time heal it. I admit I was pissed at all those people while it was going on, but now they don’t mean a damn thing. If I saw them, I’d ignore them.

  Surrounding myself with quality people is the answer, and there are enough to make life wonderful. I’m refusing to waste my time with bung holes, and I’ll enjoy the company of the good ones and focus on building something with them. That’s my choice, and I like knowing I have a say in the matter. I can hang out with good people if I want, and I want.

  I had the pleasure of hanging out with two today. The first was an old radio partner from my past named Mark Napoleon. Mark and I worked in Kenosha in the same building I do The Mothership Connection at a country station in 1999. He was my traffic guy or at least that’s the company that paid him to be there, but in reality we were partners on the show.

  Mark is very funny and still can be heard doing traffic all over Chicago radio. He’s been one of my very favorite people since we worked together, and I’ve always wanted to work with him again in some capacity. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, but made time to get together today. It was like we’d never been apart, and we hung out for three hours.

   After that, I went to visit another friend Rick Piccolo out in Algonquin, IL. Rick is great because he is getting back into comedy later in life and really enjoying it. He’s like a little kid and I love that kind of passion. He took me out for a late birthday meal, and I couldn’t be any more grateful for friends like Rick and Mark and so many more. They get it, and if I have to suffer through this life, these are the kinds of friends I want to have joining me.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apology Accepted

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Just when I thought I’d seen and heard everything, I get a phone call today that surprises the hell out of me - but in a good way. It was a club booker calling to apologize. To me of all people. I can’t say I ever remember that happening, so I’ll count it as a major positive.

   It all had to do with the nightmare fiasco I had to endure with that slithering oil can flim flam man who convinced me to teach him how to teach comedy classes so Jay Leno could endorse my course. He said he wrote for the Tonight Show and I stupidly swallowed it.

   What a naïve bumpkin I was, and he totally scammed me to the bone. We taught a class together in Michigan, and it was actually quite successful. We had 17 people and it was a blast, even though I did the teaching part and the other goof just nodded his coconut head along with everything I said and went “Uh huh…uh huh.” He was completely useless.

   Without drudging up all that pain, he ended up going behind my back and snagging that club for his own, telling the manager who called me today I wasn’t interested in doing the classes there. That was never the case, and it ended up becoming a sore spot immediately.

   I tried to explain my side of the story but the manager didn’t want to get involved. He’d been friends with the comedian who screwed me over for years, and he assumed I was the bad guy in the whole mix. I ended up not getting booked at the club for years, and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. But - I let it go and moved on, figuring I’d lost this battle.

   Well, lo and behold I get a call today from the manager offering me a week of work and apologizing for the situation and how it all played out. Apparently there was a falling out between those two, and a lot of things surfaced that caused a complete change of heart.

  I gladly accepted the apology and reassured the club manager I was never angry at him - and I wasn’t. It was the knob shine who went behind my back and said I didn’t want any part of the classes anymore. That was uncalled for, but he never thought he was wrong.

   Funny thing though, he’s been burning bridges all over the country lately. I can think of at least four other bookers he’s had run ins with, and every one of them have told me of it as it has happened. This is only the latest, and I have to say none of it makes me feel sad.

   It even escalated at one point to having Jay Leno call me on the phone. I said I shouldn’t have been stupid enough to think Jay Leno would endorse me or my little old course, but that’s exactly what the guy promised. Then Jay asked me for the guy’s name. When I said it, it didn’t ring a bell. That really sealed the deal. I knew I’d been scammed by a shyster.

   I was delighted to get the call today. I love working that club and am glad to be back in good graces. I’m sorry the manager had a falling out and I can’t figure out what this goof is trying to prove. He’s a mediocre comic at best, and now is resorting to ‘teaching’ for a way to scam money. I’m not perfect, but I’m not that. Hopefully this can all go away now

      But, I must say it was all a tremendous lesson - even though it was and still is extremely painful. I really did learn a lot, and I’m going to choose to take that from it rather than let myself get bitter and give up. Yes, I got screwed. Hard. Without dinner, flowers or a kiss.

  However, it showed me quite a few things I was doing wrong and I’ll never do them that way again. First off, I was stupid to trust some drifter who came out of the blue and made me an offer that was too good to be true. I fell for it, and assumed he was being sincere.

   Second, I undervalued my product. I’ve worked for years to polish my class lesson plan over and over and over yet again, always trying to improve myself and my material before each class session. I genuinely care about my students, and I would never ask any of them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I work just as hard as I would expect a student to.

  Most of the other comedy teachers I’ve seen are just in it for the quick buck. Not all, but the vast majority I’ve seen definitely are. I have always been a disciple of Gene Perret and give him credit for his methods of joke writing. He’s the king and always will be, but he’s a writer and focuses on that. I have a more broad based course with performing skills too.

   Thankfully, the one thing nobody can steal is my passion. No matter how many of these wanna be wank poles try to horn in on my comedy classes, NONE of them will ever come close to how much I try to give to my students. My methods may be a little unorthodox to say the least, but the ones who’ve gotten it over the years say it was a thrilling experience.

   That’s what I want to continue, and help spread laughter and creativity to more than just those who want to be comedians. That’s a hard gig, but a lot more common folk could get a lot more laughs if they would focus on doing that. I want to contribute that to the world.

   I remember there was that guy dressed in black with the hat that taught guitar lessons in a course he sold on late night TV. I don’t remember his name, but I remember wanting to get the course and start playing the guitar. I still do. I won’t get invited to join Funkadelic, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun and fart around in my spare time playing a guitar.

   I think comedy can be sold in the same way. People need and want to be funnier, and I can offer a simple fun course plan to accommodate every level. That’s a very noble goal and something that will make the world a better place. As corny as that might sound, I’m in. The classes have been such fun over the years, I know they can help a lot more people.

   Thirdly, this whole thing taught me about dealing with people in a business situation. If I have a good idea, and I think I do, nothing is stopping anyone from stealing any or all of it and trying to put me out of business. It’s up to me to put out the very best product I can.

   Between that serpent and my ex partner who embezzled all the money from the classes, I’ve learned a lot of the same lessons others in show business have had to lose a lot more than I did to let it sink in. I got off easy, and I have totally learned from it all. Bitterness is a natural reaction, but it won’t change anything. I choose to dust off and move forward.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kenosha vs. Hollywood

Monday March 21st, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   It’s amazing how much of my life has been rooted in Kenosha, WI in the last few years. I never expected it, but I can’t say it’s a bad thing. I like the town and have made a lot of good friends there between having the radio show on WLIP and being part of the crew of director Mark Gumbinger’s film projects. I feel comfortable hanging in town. I enjoy it.

   Plus, it’s very easy to get to from where I live and it’s halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago and I have business in both cities. I could easily see myself living there for a long time and not regretting it in the least. It’s centrally located and easy to navigate the town.

   I’ve never been one to climb any social ladders. If I like someone, I like them no matter where they live or who they are. That’s not the way it works in Hollywood, which is why I didn’t last out there. I made friends with a lot of people who were struggling like I was, so that wasn’t the way to advance my position. I ran out of money and had to leave town.

   In a perfect world, I’d have gone back there and still be there now. I’d have found a way to survive, and maybe even hit on some script idea. It’s hard to say, but I did know people out there and they’re now becoming the next generation of Hollywood. Mark Roberts is a brilliantly creative comic mind and he’s an example of someone doing very well out there.

   Mark is a rare breed who can both perform and write. He’s been in all kinds of shows as an actor, and he’s terrific. But, he’s as good or better behind the camera. He’s right where he belongs, and deserves all the success he’s getting. I’m not claiming to be in a league of a Mark Roberts, but he does know me and had I stayed out in L.A. longer, who knows?

     Billy Gardell is another example. He’s a great guy and has worked extremely hard to get to where he is, and I’m thrilled for his success. There are quite a few others I’ve met over time who are also doing well like John Riggi, Jimmy Pardo and of course Drew Carey. I’m happy for all of them, and they each made a lot of sacrifices for a long time that paid off.

   Quite frankly, I didn’t do that. I chose to leave town when my money ran out and return to Chicago, as that’s where I could earn a living. I gambled on radio several times and got scorched each time. It is what it is, but that’s why I never ended up going back out to L.A. In my mind I always intended to, because I love it out there. I just haven’t had the chance.

   Now, I’m in a whole different position. I just want to salvage a good life and have fun at this point. If I went back out to L.A., I’m a different person. I’m not as hungry now, and I don’t want to live like a cockroach all over again. I wouldn’t expect to just show up and have the people I know give me a job. They earned their positions, and I didn’t. True fact.

   What I have attained is a spot in the crew of Mark Gumbinger and his network of talent. It might not be big time, but they’re fun people with real talent, and I’m proud to be a part of the mix. Mark called a meeting at his house tonight to brainstorm his next project and it was a lot of fun. Whatever mistakes I made in Hollywood, at least I’m part of this group.

      Life eventually becomes a matter of what’s realistic. Hopes and dreams are great, but as time passes the immensity of vision eventually shrinks to fit the circumstances. I never had time to dream as big as I should have, because I was always too busy trying to survive and pay my bills. I know I wasn’t the only one to have had to deal with that, but it was a drag.

   Now is not the time to be bitter about it though. I could sit here and dwell on it but that would only fester and rot and do nothing positive whatsoever. That’s how life played out. Tough noogies. Maybe I was a mega star in a past life or a parallel universe, but here I’m a run of the mill schmuck who never really found a stride. I’m still out here slugging away.

   The time frame I’m dealing with is a lot smaller now. Who am I kidding? Even if I do hit it in the next little while, I’ve got a lot of hard road miles on my carcass from chasing all of this for so long. And I don’t know how much punishment it can withstand. I need to get in shape and stay there. I’ve pissed away my youth and sooner than later I’ll be paying for it.

   I want to do something great in my life and always have. The clock is really ticking hard  and for the first time, I hear it. I used to be that young buck with my whole life in front of me. That isn‘t the case anymore. I woke up one day and all of a sudden I was out of time.

   The big question is - what exactly IS this greatness I think I seek? I used to think it was ‘hitting it big’. Well, that definition is different for everyone. In effect, I did hit it big in the radio business when I got hired to do mornings at The Loop in Chicago. That’s a big time station, and radio people were and even still are impressed. Not everyone gets to do that.

   My problem was, I didn’t get to STAY doing it. If we were still on the air, I bet I’d have saved a quarter of a million dollars by now. Between the radio salary and comedy gigs and I’m sure I would have kept teaching classes too, I’d be sitting on financial easy street now.

   For whatever reason, that’s just not going to be the way it is in this lifetime. Again, I can sit and bitch about it or I can keep slugging and salvage the best I can with the equipment I have left to mine what I can out of the rest of my life and avoid being bitter about what I didn’t get. That’s very easy to do and I’ve seen way too much of that to know it’s a trap.

   I’m not going to be Mark Roberts or Billy Gardell or especially Drew Carey. This isn’t a negative statement, it’s simple fact. Those guys went out to L.A. with sky high hopes and dreams and stayed there. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, but I didn’t. I can’t expect to head out there now and catch up for lost time. I chose what I chose for whatever reason, so be it.

   That doesn’t mean I can’t have fun though. It also doesn’t mean I can’t build a business right here in the Midwest. I know I can teach people who want to learn about comedy and I’ve proven it hundreds of times. Maybe that’s my way of salvaging some kind of a life.

   I’ve got a lot of my plate right now, and it’s time to play it out with careful thought. I’ve pissed away a lot of years, but I have a lot of experience too. This is probably my last shot to really hit anything of note. It’s late in the game and if I’m going to win it, it’ll be soon.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rethinking Radio

Sunday March 20th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   I feel like I’m drifting again. Damn. How does that happen? One minute I feel I have life and its complex mysteries figured out and everything is going smoothly. The next I’m in a funk trying to locate the exact spot it all came off the rails. Right now, clues are scarce.

   I thought I was on a straight and steady path for a while there, and I totally was. I was in an upbeat mindset and ready for adventure. After this past weekend, I feel like I’ve wasted my entire life and want to donate my organs to someone who can use them and check out.

   There’s a fine line between being productively busy and completely overwhelmed. I may have accidentally tiptoed over it, and that’s why I’m feeling the way I am. I’m not exactly sure which side of that line I’m on right now. Big dreams are great, but we all have limits.

   My main problem is even though I’m getting better all the time, I’m still not up to where I need to be when it comes to both organizational skills and focus. I bounce back and forth between projects and as situations arise to occupy my time and attention, I get distracted.

   There’s a real trick to delegating tasks, and I haven’t mastered it yet. Up until recently, I wasn’t able to do it at all, so there is significant improvement. I’m in the middle of giving a test run to several people to see what comes back. I know everyone is different, so it’s my responsibility to make sure I communicate what I expect and see if the others can deliver.

   I’m sure I’ll be happy with some, disappointed with others and surprised either way with surprises I didn’t expect. I chose a wide variety of people to ask for help, and have gotten a wide variety of responses in return. It takes time to get everything into place, and it feels like everything is all over the place. That’s where I am now, and it feels like I’m drifting.

   One of the projects that’s really a crapshoot is the Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha, WI on AM 1050 WLIP. It’s been on over three years now, and even though I’ve had to keep changing co-hosts the show is sounding better than ever - no thanks to me.

   The current crew is really doing the job, and I’m delighted. All of them started either by being guests or in my friend Shelley Maas Hernandez’s case, just coming out to watch the show and see how it worked. She had so much fun I offered her a free pass to come back anytime she wanted. She did, and now she’s a co-host and runs the show when I’m gone.

   She does a more than satisfactory job, and sounds great along with both Greg DeGuire and my comedian friend Gary Pansch. Greg is a true expert on several paranormal topics, and adds a level of credibility even I don’t have. Gary adds to the mix too, and we have an absolute blast on the air together. I keep things loose, but they don’t need me to be there.

   They do fine, and Shelley is great at lining up guests every week. That’s something I had no desire to do, but was a necessary part of the job. It’s running smoothly now, but the big issue is how can we turn a buck? Fun is fun, but I don’t have time to keep investing in this.

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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Brutal One Nighter

Saturday March 19th, 2011 - Bloomington, IL

   Talk about both sides of the spectrum. Last night was about as fun as a one nighter gets, tonight was exactly the opposite. That doesn’t usually happen on back to back nights, but being Mr. Lucky often has side effects that don’t happen to anyone else. This was brutal.

   The venue tonight was called the Tree House in Bloomington, IL. There’s been comedy there in some form for decades. I remember working it at least a dozen times over the last twenty years, and have had mixed results. Sometimes it’s been fine, other times pure hell.

   The actual setup isn’t bad at all. There’s an elevated stage and nice seating area with no poles or bad sight lines in the way, and the sound system has been workable. The lighting is terrible, but that’s better than having bad sound. In theory, this could be a good venue.

   Unfortunately, they haven’t figured out a way to make it work just yet. This wasn’t the Tree House I remembered, and I could see trouble brewing as soon as I walked in. There was loud rap music playing with disgusting X rated lyrics, and the people were mouthing along with the words which is a bad sign. It felt like a gang hangout, and I didn’t like it.

   Showtime was 8pm, and by 7:55 there were 12 people there for comedy - all sitting in the back row. Nobody was there to seat them, and I could smell trouble. There were also about 20 people at the bar in the rear of the room, about half of them white trash boozers who were loud and obnoxious. When the show started, they were talking to the comics.

   Whomever was to host the show didn’t show up, so a potential comedy student went up and tried to fill in after a short debriefing. He was there to maybe do a guest set, but not a hosting job. He was very green and had no clue as to what to do, but that wasn’t his fault.

   The feature was a very nice young kid out of Chicago named Jay Washington. He tried to do his best, but the hillbilly mafia wouldn’t stop talking and that makes it very difficult especially for a newbie. I give him kudos for hanging in there, and he did his whole time.

   As for me, I’ve been around way too long to put up with any lip from drunks. I went up and immediately confronted the situation and threw gas on the fire. I told him to shut his toothless pie hole or the show would be over. He wouldn’t, so I got off stage until he got thrown out. It was awkward for several minutes, but eventually all of them staggered out.

   I’m sure the bartenders and staff were pissed, but I wasn’t going to fight those imbeciles for 45 minutes, especially when they didn’t pay to see the show. I don’t think anyone had expected there to be a confrontation, but it absolutely worked. The 12 people were great.

   I ended up doing a full show, and those people laughed hard and were a fantastic crowd, or reasonable facsimile of a crowd. I actually had fun performing for them, but afterwards I realized even more I need to stop doing these lowball one nighters. No amount of money is worth having to expose myself to this kind of aggravation. This was a waste of energy.

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

A Fun One Nighter

Friday March 18th, 2011 - Frankfort, IL

   Tonight I was back in Frankfort, IL at a place called ‘CD&ME’. Why they named it that is still a mystery, as is why they decided to do comedy shows in the first place, but they’re sweet people so I keep saying yes when they ask me to show up. They respect comedians.

   It’s booked by my fellow Jerry’s Kidder Ken Sevara, and he’s really put a lot of his own sweat equity into it to get the room going. Frankfort is about as far south as it gets when it comes to Chicagoland suburbs, but Ken lives there and it’s a place for him to call his own locally. It’s a smaller version of the old pro wrestling territories. Ken claimed Frankfort.

   I think it’s actually a tree nursery or something, but they have a large building with a bar and balcony and large dance floor area where the shows are held. The owners are about as nice as club owner types can get, and they’ve at least supported Ken since he started this a few years ago now. It’s gotten better with time, and people do come out to enjoy comedy.

   From where I live it’s almost a full 100 mile one way trip and really not worth my while financially or career wise, but the people are so nice I can’t resist saying yes. Ken treats us all very well and at this point I can have my pick of weeks whenever I want to work there.

   If nothing else, it’s a great place to work out new material. I’m usually able to grab their attention in the first minute, and I can take them anywhere I want after that. I want to give the audience my very best and also Ken and the owners for having me. I’m very grateful.

   Unfortunately, grateful doesn’t pay the bills. The gig is what it is, and even though it’s a fun time, the pay just isn’t there. Plus, now it’s a Friday so unless I can tack on a Saturday somewhere, it’s difficult to take it anymore on its own. It becomes a matter of economics.

   I worked tonight with a kid named Pat McGann. This kid is going to be big time, and he is just getting started. He’s a good looking Irish kid from the south side who’s father is an alderman or judge or someone with influence. I didn’t ask, and it’s none of my business.

   He hasn’t been doing comedy long, but he’s got all the tools to have a big time career in some kind of show business, and I’m happy for him. I never had what he has on stage and off, so there’s no reason to be jealous. Plus, he’s a nice kid and has a good work ethic too.

   Pat did a fine job opening for me, and I brought it home with a solid set. My friend John O’Brien drove all the way down from Wilmette, and he’s seen me countless times before. He’s always been a huge supporter, as has his wife Gail. How can I not be blown away by that? John had nothing but great things to say, and when I came off stage he was smiling.

   “Now THAT’S a professional.” John said. What a nice thing to say, and I appreciate the fact he knows how difficult comedy really is. He’s a former student and has done comedy on and off for many years now, so he knows the inner workings. Saying what he said and how he said it made me feel great, even if nobody else in the whole place had half a clue.

   What sets CD&ME apart from regular comedy one nighters is that they hire a music act to play after the comedy shows are finished, and make it an evening of entertainment for a single cover charge, and I think it’s very smart. They are located out in a remote area so it makes perfect sense to want to keep the customers in one place for as long as they can.

   This week’s music act happened to be my friend Dave Rudolf, and I’m thrilled. Dave is a super talent and an even better person, and I was the one who suggested he come out to see a comedy show a while back so hopefully he could get hired, and that’s how it went.

   I love it when I can hook good people up, and this was a perfect match. Dave lives very close by in Park Forest, IL, and this wasn’t a far ride at all. Having work close to home is a real treat on many levels, and everything just fell together without a glitch for a change.

   That being said, I noticed Ken seemed a little upset when I arrived. When I asked what was bothering him, he told me another comedy show was coming to a steak house up the road, and not only that quite a few of the comedians he’s used for years are working there.

   This is becoming more and more typical these days, but I don’t like it. I’m all for people working, but in some cases there isn’t enough for everyone and I think this is it. Nobody’s debating the steak house isn’t allowed to start a comedy show. That’s not the issue at all.

   What’s at steak here is the territory. Frankfort isn’t that big a town, and is probably only a one night a week area. Putting two there will very likely kill off both of them in a short time, and then nobody will be there. That’s bad for comedy, and they should know that.

   Unfortunately, there’s no requirement for smarts when it comes to starting up business ventures, and they’re going to do what they’re going to do. Ken has invested four years in his room and has really done a nice job with it. The new gig is being booked by a person neither Ken nor I particularly like personally, and that’s going to make it extra irritating.

   I do agree that the comedians should have at least called Ken and let him know they had taken work at the new place. Etiquette in the old days said that’s exactly what to do. It’s a courtesy, and depending on the situation doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t do both gigs.

   In a bigger city, I don’t think it matters at all. A person can work all the clubs in a town back to back to back, and it won’t make a difference. Smaller venues in smaller towns are different, and if a place does comedy first the comedians owe the bookers at least a call.

   Pat McGann happens to book a very nice gig at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake, IL. I’m booked there in April, and another club close by asked me to perform also. It’s on another night just like this gig in Frankfort, but out of respect I called Pat to ask about their rules.

   Pat said they preferred I not work the other place, and that’s fine I can understand trying to build a draw, and it wasn’t a problem. I told the other guy, and he understood. End of a potential problem. Comedy is a very delicate undertaking sometimes. This is an example.

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

Friday, March 18, 2011

She's Out Of My Life

Thursday March 17th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude at all the birthday wishes I received this year, and they’re still trickling in three days later. How flattering. I always try to remember people’s birthdays if at all possible, even though once in a while I’ll let one slip through the cracks.

   Most times I’ll nail it though, and I love it when someone is genuinely surprised that I’d remember. It makes them feel special, and I love that. That’s what birthdays are supposed to be in my estimation. It’s someone’s personal holiday and spotlight day to celebrate life.

   I’m sure some of this has to do with never knowing my mother. I used to wonder where she was when I had birthdays as a kid, and why she couldn’t at least give me a call or put a cheap card in the mail or something. It made me feel like I wasn’t important in her life.

   After several years of never hearing from her, it kind of got moved to the back burner of my mind. I just wrote her off, even though Mother’s Day used to remind me of everything again. There was never any closure there, and still isn’t. She just took off and that was it.

   That whole situation was apparently a complete mess according to what I’ve heard from family members over the years, but kids don’t know that. She was my mother, and I never heard hide nor hair of her until I was about 10 years old. She came and picked me up with my sister Tammy and brother Larry and took us to the Milwaukee County Zoo for a day.

   It was very awkward for us all, as I really wasn’t all that close with my siblings either. It felt like a day with a total stranger and a couple of acquaintances I barely knew. When the day was over she dropped us off and that was the only time I saw her until I was about 18.

  Maybe that’s part of the reason why birthday greetings and cards and making a big deal of it is important to me. I love to pamper someone and let them bask in their personal day. When it comes back in return, it’s fantastic. I lost count after 800 online birthday wishes.

   I know Face book makes it easy, and some people just do it to everyone, but it still feels great to see all that mail come in anyway. Most of them were from people I know and like and I felt like I was at least a little bit special to somebody on this insanity filled planet.

   One person I didn’t get anything from was the woman up in Milwaukee I’ve been back and forth with for so many years. This is the third birthday in a row she’s missed and my patience is over. I sent her a text saying it hurt my feelings, and it did. I always remember her birthday and her kid’s birthday and try to make them feel like they’re special that day.

   To not have it come back brought all that coldness from my mother’s absence back into play and it really made me feel like a bag of fertilizer, minus the bag. I know I got a giant pile of greetings from some fantastic people I really like, including women, but not even getting a call or text or email from ‘her’ hit a big klinker with me. A dented can has to be careful of not focusing on the one bad thing, but it’s tough. It hurt. She is SO out of here.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meals On Wheels And Jerry Lewis

Wednesday March 16th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Chicago, IL

   Jerry Lewis turned 85 today. What a life that guy has had. I was never a big fan of his as a kid, even though a lot of my school friends loved him. I’ve since grown to tremendously respect him as I get older, and I think the man is a flat out creative genius, like him or not.

   He tends to polarize people, but so do I. That’s exactly what good entertainers do. Their fans adore them and their detractors abhor them. Either way, everyone seems to be talking about them and that’s the whole idea. Lady Gaga is the most recent one I can think of, but Charlie Sheen seems to be running hard to win the warped attention derby these days too.

   The accomplishments of Jerry Lewis are quite remarkable. People may not like his style or him in general, but the sheer volume of work he cranked out is impressive. Movies and live performance with or without Dean Martin and even the telethons all require ability.

   The problem is, he always seems to angry about everything when I see him interviewed. There’s always that layer of angst close to the surface when he talks about anything and it bothers me to see it. Maybe it’s because I had or still have it myself. I feel like I’m getting a lot more mellow as I get older, but Jerry Lewis seems to be going the opposite direction.

   I can’t speak for Jerry Lewis, so I won’t try. I’m happy with the direction I’m headed at this time, and intend to keep going in it. Jerry Lewis has an awesome body of work to fall back on, I don’t. That was the focus of my day today. I need to crank out some products.

   For breakfast I met with Cathy Rubino, an ex student who’s wonderfully creative and a sharp lady. She volunteered to help me create products, and I will let her. She has a lot of solid ideas, and we threw a few back and forth to get started. I can’t do all of this myself.

   Finding places to make stuff and getting prices and comparing notes with other places takes a lot of time, effort and patience. I don’t have any of that right now, so I’ll delegate it to Cathy to work on. We had a productive meeting and at least the ball is rolling now.

   Lunch was with Marc Schultz, and he took me out for a birthday treat at an Italian joint called ‘Cuzzin’s’. I’m used to the Milwaukee sub sandwich chain called ‘Cousins’, so my bearings were a little off. Magician Dennis DeBondt joined us, and he’s always a treat to hang out with. He’s very funny onstage and off and we all sat around laughing and eating.

   After some errands, I had a dinner at Boston Market with Todd Hunt. I still think Todd is THE top guy to model for marketing, and that’s where his background is. His products are stellar, and he has a system of mailing updates to customers and just runs his business with total efficiency. If you need a business speaker, go to

   I hit the trifecta for meetings today, and all three others bought because of my birthday, but I know that won’t last. I’ll gladly pay next time, and at least things are getting going, if slower than I pictured. That’s life, but at least I’m headed in a productive direction.

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Patience Pays Back Twice

Tuesday March 15th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Birthday over - old age officially settling in. With it comes some wisdom, and hopefully that will help me make better decisions than I did in my maverick youth. I still want to be a maverick, but in a much subtler way. I want to pick my spots and have a purpose now.

   I had two pleasant surprises today, in an already positive mood. Answering hundreds of birthday greetings tends to put a person in a happy mood, or it does me anyway. One after another, it was a funny note or a shared memory and I spent several hours catching up on all of it. That’s a great problem to have and if I’m going to get swamped, that’s the way.

     The first surprise was from Pedro Bell’s new assistant Tym Stevens. Pedro did my CD cover art for ‘Hard Luck Jollies’ and did so many classic album covers for Funkadelic in the ‘70s. He’d been having some health issues and his last assistant never finished the job he was told to do, and I never got a colorized finished version that I could use to reprint.

  Well, that’s no longer an issue. I got the files today where Tym not only colorized it all, he updated the line art and made it reproducible and computer friendly and he also made a new logo for ‘Mr. Lucky’ which resembles the Shaft logo from the ‘70s. It’s outstanding!

   I couldn’t be happier with all of it. Now when I reprint the next batch of cds, it will look like a Funkadelic CD ‘Harcore Jollies’, which is what I wanted in the first place. The logo of my name looks like the Funkadelic logo, and the ‘I’ in Dobie looks like a microphone.

   If nobody else gets it (and unfortunately few will) I do, and I think it’s fantastic. It’s my tribute to Pedro Bell’s unique style, and to be able to do this project at all was a stray idea that came to life and is now reality. It’s all now exactly how I pictured it, and I’m thrilled.

   I had to wait a while to get it, but it was totally worth it in the end. Tym said he wanted to wait until my birthday and make it a surprise, which was unbelievably thoughtful. I am beyond excited, and even though I still have copies of the other printing left, I’ll make the next one look ten times better. Again, I’m probably the only one that cares, but that’s ok.

  The other surprise I received was finding out Giggles Comedy Club is closing up in the Milwaukee area. That’s the place that bounced a check and totally treated me and a lot of other working comedians very poorly. I’m surprised it took this long, but I’m delighted to hear of they’re closing if only for the fact the insanity of how they operated it will cease.

   I’ve had all kinds of bad experiences with Milwaukee clubs over the years, and this is a little bit of payback knowing they won’t be able to do it anymore. The damage is done but at least it won’t spread. It was like when my father died, I wasn’t sad when I learned of it.

   I did a lot of favors for those people, and they crapped all over my name and tried to put a dent in my reputation. I’m not perfect, and never claimed to be - but I do help others and give of myself way more than the average Joe. Their mean spirited slight was a big insult.

   The agency who booked the comedians there had a hand in it too. They sent us there but knew the club was bouncing checks the whole time. It was all a big ugly mud pit and I for one am delighted it’s closing. I don’t have to mock them or send a dozen dead roses like a radio person I know of once did. They’ll get the message when they’re asking if their new customers want fries with their Whopper. Hopefully they’ll just get out of show business.

   Actually, comedy clubs at that level are pretty far from show business. They might be in the entertainment business, but on a very low level. Those people couldn’t create any kind of entertainment if they wanted to. They pimp the talents of up and comers and we take it, dented cans most of us are, because we need attention that badly. Will it lead anywhere?

   NO, and this is ringing proof. They managed to stay open for a few years, probably a lot longer than they should have, and when things got bad at the end they screwed over those who kept them in business - the comedians. That’s happened way too many times and I’m sore from taking it in the poop shoot from vermin like this. Let them go deliver pizzas.

   Because of their actions, a lot of comedians including myself may have to do that exact same thing. There are so many mismanaged comedy clubs around that are now closing up that the business itself is in serious trouble. The cycle is playing itself out, and it’s a bitch.

   I’m getting better in my old age about reacting to this kind of thing. In the past, I’d have looked to stick it in their ass in any way possible and as high up as I could. Now, I see I’m wasting my time even thinking about lowlife maggots like that. They were never involved in comedy for the same reason I was anyway. They wanted to sell beer. I wanted a career.

   The truth is, comedy clubs are not where to make a career. They’re a training ground for comedians to learn the craft, and then it’s time to go somewhere else and get ‘discovered’ and take it to the next level. I was never able to do that, and became frustrated at the club level because it never propelled me to where I thought I wanted to go. It wasn’t meant to.

   It’s crystal clear to me now, but I wasn’t able to see this just a few years ago. Maybe it’s part of the process of getting older. I’m losing my youth and boundless energy, but I have a new perspective of things I never had before and can see situations in a whole new light.

   The people who ran Giggles were not nice to me at the end. They disrespected me and a lot of other hard working honest comedians too. I honestly don’t wish them anything bad personally, I really don’t. I’m just delighted they’re out of the business. It’s like flushing a toilet - one time won’t do it forever, but it makes the bathroom smell a lot better for now.

   Life is downright DIFFICULT. Period. At any age. When idiots make it harder, I can’t see why it has to be tolerated. This went on far too long, but hopefully it’s over. In fact, I have a chance to book a new venue not far from where Giggles was. How about that?

   The karma train has a circular track. Choo choo! What goes around, comes around. I’m far from perfect myself, but I do try to treat people with respect. This was a satisfying day.

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

Forward, March

Monday March 14th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Racine, WI

   Another birthday, and since I can’t stop them from coming I might as well find as many ways to enjoy them as I can. Yeah, I’m getting older - but so is everyone else. I’m not the first person to be in this position and I won’t be the last. For the immediate future, I am in a position to do whatever it is I’m going to do in this life. I am in my prime creative time.

   I’ve got some life experience behind me, and still at least a little gas in the tank, so now it’s a matter of seeing how far I can make that tank go before I’m too old or too worn out to get anything done. It’s a giant race against the clock, like a 4th quarter drive in football.

   What’s my touchdown? It’s a lot different now than it was, and I never had a clear idea of what it was before. I guess I thought it would work itself out, which of course it didn’t. Now I realize I have to put the image in my own head and go make it happen from there.

   I’m fine with it, and am up for the challenge. I love challenges, and for the first time in my life I feel like I’ve got some sort of plan in place. I want to find something I love that pays enough for me to build a nest egg to live comfortably should I need to stop working for whatever reason. I don’t need a mansion, I just want to be able to live like a human.

   I’ve spent my life in basements, cheap motels and filthy comedy condos. I don’t think a modest town house at some point would be out of my league. I don’t need anything other than a clean place to stay in a nice area. I’ve spent enough years living like a cockroach.

   Sometimes I get a little down, and sometimes I get off track, but in all honesty I’m on a very positive path right now. My health is pretty good, considering I’ve neglected it for all these years. Plain and simple, that has to stop. Immediately. I know I keep saying that, but now it’s true. One can eat so much lard, sugar and pork before one’s heart pops like a zit.

   I need to stretch. I need to exercise. I need to drink more water. I need to cut soda out of my life forever. I need to eat healthier. I need to drop significant tonnage. This is difficult and not able to be done in a week or a month or even a year. I need to make big changes.

   That’s got nothing to do with how I spend the rest of my days. I have a wonderful group of friends and associates to choose from, and I truly believe I have all the ingredients for a dream life if I’ll just put it together. I’m nothing more than the arranger, and will mix and match people’s strengths and talents to get the best results for the group. That takes effort.

   I want to give this next year my maximum effort. I don’t think I’ve ever done that up to my standards before, which are way higher than anyone else’s for me. I want to do things right, have a plan and execute it all the way to completion. I want to score a touchdown.

   And, I want to build a team of diverse talented creative types of all kinds that will have fun playing along with me. I want to become a comedic version of Berry Gordy or George Clinton, who headed a group of creative types and talents and got the most out of them.

   That’s the plan for the year. As for today, it was a flat out fantastic birthday. I’m still on a high from the fun radio show last night with the house full of fun company. Shelley did a wonderful job of making it a memorable evening and it truly was an unexpected treat.

   Today it continued with almost 1000 emails and Face book greetings from people from all walks of my life from comedy to radio to collecting to women I like to friends I’ve had for years and years. I even had some fans wish me a happy ‘pi day’, which it is - (3.14).

   This was not only unbelievably flattering, it also really put into perspective the odds of people I get along with to wank poles I can’t stand. There are maybe ten or a dozen idiots goofs I don’t want to deal with under any circumstances vs. all those I heard from today.

   And just because someone didn’t wish me a happy birthday doesn’t mean they’re sworn enemies. There are a lot more people I can tolerate than the few pukes I can’t. That hit me in the face when I saw those emails piling up all day, and it made me feel good about how I’ve handled the leakers. Why do I have to deal with them at all? I don’t. Good riddance.

   I’m sure people are going to do that to me too, and they have. My siblings are a flaming example, but that’s a family squabble thing. I don’t count them on my ‘dirty dozen dufus’ list. They’re not going to talk to me, and that’s it. I send them love and am moving ahead.

   My friend Russ Martin bought me lunch today at the Iron Skillet Truck Stop in Racine, WI on Highway 20 and I-94. Russ has helped me by recording some ‘Schlitz Happened’ shows and gave me a DVD which I can give to Marc Schultz to cut up for the website.

  After that I took a lap in the thrift store in Waukegan on Highway 132 which is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I also took a lap in the Gurnee Mills Mall. It felt good to get out and exercise, and I also bought myself some DVDs to watch and two new baseball caps that say ‘King of Uranus’ on them just because it was my birthday and I treated myself.

   I stopped at my storage bin and removed a box of business and mail order books I’d put in a place where I could easily find them. Those are what I need to bury myself in for the next few months and get ideas to get Uranus Factory Outlet going. I’m putting it in gear.

   The woman I rent my living space from bought me dinner tonight at The Olive Garden not far from where we live. I didn’t even know it was there. It was a chance to hang out a little, since I haven’t done that since I moved in last December. We enjoyed ourselves.

  Yes, I want to build a business and make a wad of cash and all that, but I also want a fun life in there somewhere too. Traveling was great, but I missed out on a lot of the ‘normal’ side of life. I’d like to have a few bites of that for a while. I’m excited about the next year.

   Hopefully I can salvage a life I’ll be proud of after coming from where I did. That was a bad scene all around, and thankfully most of them are dead now. Why should I wallow in that years later? I want a satisfying fun life surrounded by winners. Forward - MARCH!

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

Monday, March 14, 2011

Uranus And The Mothership

Sunday March 13th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL/Kenosha, WI

   The planet Uranus was discovered by Sir William Herschel on March 13, 1781. I don’t know how he discovered it or why he chose to call it what he did, but I’d have to guess it was around 6:01am on March 14, 1781 the jokes started, and they’re still flowing today.

  Who doesn’t remember snickering in class the first time they heard of the planet’s name and put it together with the body part? It was in grade school, and we weren’t supposed to laugh - but that’s exactly why it was so funny. Suppressed laughter is always the sweetest.

  For 230 years now, grade schoolers of all ages have made Uranus jokes and laughed out loud, even though the stodgy ‘powers that be’ have tried to change the pronunciation over the years. Sorry, if you’re over 30 it’s Ur-ANUS. Tee hee. Don’t take away my childhood.

   Today is officially the day I roll the dice and put everything I’ve got into banking on the power of a grade school joke taking me from just another white guy trying to be funny to a successful business person with name recognition. It’s time to make something happen.

   I’ve had this idea for years now, and have spent time and money getting myself ready to make the plunge, and the time is now. I have learned a lot, but have a lot more to go. I’ve been working on so many other projects and also trying to survive that I’m way behind on where I thought I’d be by now, and it’s disappointing. Quitting now would make it worse.

   I want to create a character that’s larger than life called ‘The King of Uranus’, and make myself known to customers who will buy funny things of all kinds. Harland Sanders had a similar transformation into his Colonel Sanders character, which is exactly what that was.

   He dressed the same way, looked the same way and cultivated a persona that Americans eventually came to know, like and trust. I’m not sure if I can become the icon he did, but I sure think I can associate myself with whoopee cushions and joke items at the very least.

   I know there’s more in there too. Maybe it will evolve into a production company to put funny products together like live shows, CD and DVD projects and maybe even television or movie projects. I don’t know exactly what direction will be the best, but I know I need to start now and attempt to go somewhere. Right now, it’s all sitting there doing nothing.

   There’s no way I’m going to start thinking about this again and start making a living as ‘The King of Uranus’ overnight, or next week. I won’t be listing ‘Royal Space Highness’ as my occupation on my tax return this year. It’s going to take a steady transformation for several years to pull it off the way I envision it. I’m going to change my whole existence.

   It’s not just a matter of putting on a cape and a crown or some goofy costume. I need to learn about business and sales and marketing and use my creativity and showmanship in a totally different way than I have before. I want to educate myself and evolve into a unique entity that can become a brand name on its own. And, I still have to make a living as well.

   This is SO off the beaten path, but that’s why it intrigues me so much. This should be a wonderful time in my life, and in many ways it is, but I’m really starting to get sick of the road and comedy as I’ve come to know it. That was a dream 25 years ago, and I really did manage to pull it off and make it a reality. Now it’s time for a new dream, and this is it.

   What interests me is working on and learning new skills. I can adapt pretty well, and the skills required for business are different than the ones required to live the road life. Going from one to the other will have some lumps and bumps, but I believe it’ll pay off nicely.

   That’s all a ways off yet. Tonight it was up to Kenosha to go back in the radio studio for The Mothership Connection on WLIP. I hadn’t been on the air in a while and was looking forward to it. Co-hosts Gary Pansch and Shelley Maas Hernandez suggested we get a nice meal before the show at the HuHot Mongolian barbecue restaurant. That’s their favorite.

   I don’t hate it, and we met up for a birthday meal. Shelley had a coupon and we enjoyed a nice relaxing meal before the show. I didn’t think to ask who the guests were, as they’ve been doing a fine job without my input at all. I showed them what to do, and they do it.

   The first guest was a woman who talked about reinvention and finding our ideal jobs in life. She was fascinating, and told me I’d hit stride in a year or two and be more known as a speaker and helper of people. She was a great guest, and whether or not it’s true she had our attention the entire time. The show is tremendously fun when guests are that sharp.

   After that it got really fun. Shelley went out of her way to do a ‘This Is Your Life’ show for the final two hours and it almost made me cry. What a kind hearted thing to do, and it made me feel very much appreciated. I always try to do things like that for others, but it’s even better when it comes back my way. She worked on it for a long time but it was great.

   She lined up callers to wish me a happy birthday and tell a story. It started with my very sweet Godmother Anita Baumann. She has always remembered my birthdays and always sent a card, even when I was a kid. My birth mother was nowhere to be found, but Anita’s kindness is still there all these years later. She’s a kind soul and I appreciate her so much.

     After that, our ex co-host Lara Shaffer was in studio and sat in with us for a while. Lara was and is absolutely fantastic on the air, and totally adds a unique angle. She’s got a very natural on air presence and is extremely sharp on the topics we talk about. She was in her usually strong air mode, and we lit it up for almost an hour. It was great to have her back.

   Next it was a mixed array of comedy people from the years of my life from Bert Haas of Zanies in Chicago to Jim McHugh to Bill Gorgo to Tim Walkoe and several others. Then, Jerry Agar was on the phone telling how we met, and Shelley played the Kidders theme.

  To my shock, the other two Kidders Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara walked in and made my whole month. They’d been planning it for a while, and it was an absolute blast hanging in the studio with such great friends. For one night, I was the king of radio. And I loved it!

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

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clash And Carry

Saturday March 12th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   What would make me happy? I used to think I knew, but that wasn’t even close to what I think now. I used to want show business success, but for all the wrong reasons. I still do want to succeed, but now on a different level and for different reasons. I have evolved.

   The trick now is to not let the past consume me or the future overwhelm me like I think it may have done in the past. I’m never going to be able to live the dreams I had years ago and that’s just how it is. Whatever ships that already sailed aren’t coming back to get me.

   From this day with the circumstances I’m in, what would be the smartest plan to get my life to a place I truly want it to be? The first thing is, make a plan. I’m doing that little by little by making connections with people who I’ll hopefully have to answer to. Julie Carey came out of the blue, but I put the vibe out there I needed someone and she showed up.

   I’m a big believer in vibes, even though I have no idea how to define it other than a raw energy someone emits that causes a feeling of reaction. Some of us emit positive ones and others don’t. I know I often rub people the wrong way at first, but they come to really like me in time. Others never do, and just think I’m a flaming wanker. I don’t worry about it.

   I never have. I’ve always wanted to just ignore people I clash with, and not have to talk to them and waste everyone’s time. I don’t wish bad on them, I just want them to live life somewhere ELSE. I don’t care if that’s Zanesville, OH or Zanzibar - get out of my sight.

   There are several people I’ve chosen to eliminate from my life, and quite frankly I don’t miss a one of them. I’ve got my own life to live filled with my own problems and having people I clash with out of the way makes things less complicated in my mind. I’m terrible at faking like I like somebody when I don’t, and I realize not everybody likes me either.

   Unfortunately, I had to work with one of those people at my show last night. It’s a long story I won’t revisit, but that person said some things in a condescending way exactly like my father would have, and I wanted no part of those words, or him in general. No biggie.

   Then, I found out I had to work with the guy and my heart sank. Why do I have to be in the same room with that knob shine? If I was the headliner, I should have had the clout to work with anyone I wanted. The booker Harry Hickstein is also a comic and a sweetheart of a guy and didn’t want to make any waves and fire the guy. So who has to live with it?

  Why me? If it was the other way around, and it has been, I’d get fired without the hint of a second thought. Too bad. So sad. Sucks to be me. Now that I’ve got a little bit of clout, I guess it doesn’t mean anything. I guess I could have no showed, but that’s not my style.

   I’m way too ‘nice’. Well, nice SUCKS, and Leo Durocher was right - we do finish last. I don’t want to be a mean bastard, but sometimes that’s the only answer and it’s a matter of survival .I’d much rather have a win/win than try to vanquish someone I can’t stand.

   Unfortunately, that’s how it often works in return. Some people are incredibly insecure, and will stop at nothing to squash anyone close to being thought of as a potential rival or competition in any way. I’m sick of playing that game, but in show business it’s constant.

   Why the hell am I even here on this planet? Supposedly we Pisces are the ‘old souls’ of the world and have the most experience, if indeed any of astrology is true. Maybe I clash when dealing with others who are working on different things. I have no solid answers.

   I really don’t want to squash anyone. I’m all about live and let live, but some people are just bung holes and I don’t want them to live near me. Is that too much to ask? My sister and I have clashed our whole lives, and she has chosen to not speak to me for going on 18 years now. I’ve tried to make peace with her, but she refuses to accept or acknowledge it.

  What else can I do? Move on and try to let it go. Sibling relationships are supposed to be deeper than business ones, so why can’t people understand it when I ignore them and just want to be left alone to get by on my own merits? I don’t know, but apparently they don’t.

   I always look at it as a numbers game. Out of 300 MILLION living here in America and 6 BILLION world wide, why would I have to spend time with even ONE idiot I don’t like or respect? There are way too many people I haven’t met yet, not to mention the ones I’ve already bonded with and get along with splendidly. I don’t need to waste time with idiots.

   I regret even spending as much typing time dealing with it as I just did, but I want to get it out there, so it doesn’t sit and fester inside. I know I’m not important, and people aren’t required to hire me as a comedian or even talk to me. I know that, and it keeps everything in perspective. I don’t want wars or clashes with anyone, but that’s totally unrealistic.

   I’m not one to think I’m right all time, and will always admit when I screw up. I do not nor ever have expected anyone to be perfect, I just happen to feel bad vibes from various individuals from time to time, and over the years I’ve found out that feeling is accurate.

   All that being said, that’s just how life works. The guy I had to work with last night did not come near me, as I asked the booker to make sure he not do. We got along fine and it didn’t re-escalate. I still don’t know why I had to be in the same room with the guy, but I guess there was a lesson I had to learn. I wasn’t mean, but it was quite uncomfortable.

   This is all part of being a dented can. There are all kinds of deep seeded quirks that get tweaked by people in life. If mommy and daddy weren’t there, how can I expect a random stranger to treat me well? And for all I know, these people are dented cans worse than me. It’s only now that I can begin to comprehend the other people’s situation. That’s growth.

   I’m still loaded with faults and defects and shortcomings, but dammit I’m getting better all the time. Those that don’t like me can go piss up a rain gutter. I don’t care. I’m a nice person, and do a lot to help others. If you’re too stupid to see that, that’s not on me. I have enough things to work on keeping my own life on the road. Life on this planet is difficult.

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

Quittin' Time

Friday March 11th, 2011 - Toluca, IL

   I get the message loud and clear - it‘s time to find something else to do to make a living. I’ve always said when standup comedy is no longer fun, I’ll stop doing it. My grandfather said a similar thing about smoking, but he used the price per pack of cigarettes as criteria.

   “When they hit a buck a pack, I’ll quit,” he’d say. Of course when it did he didn’t, and he’d say it about the next price break and it went on for years. My grandmother got in his face and wouldn’t let him forget, and it became a running joke. He was a smoker. Period.

   What ended up making him actually give them up was a heart bypass operation. He quit overnight, cold turkey. He said it was miserable, because he enjoyed smoking and all that went with it. It was a popular habit of his generation, and wasn‘t frowned on like today.

   I am heading toward my own disaster if I don’t stop taking comedy gigs in non comedy venues. I’m hesitant to say stop standup comedy altogether, because it can be great fun in the right situation. But those situations are getting fewer and farther between. I need a gig that pays the bills, and let comedy serve as a hobby or fill in when I’ve got some time off.

   The reason I’m so miserable is, this just isn’t fun anymore. All the minutia it takes to be booked for a gig, physically get there, have to play chair and whip with drunks in difficult circumstances and then driving home or worse yet going to a sleazy motel isn’t worth the pittance of money that comes back in return. It used to be fun, now it’s just a big hassle.

   Thanks to the ships, which weren’t fun either, I do have a few bucks put aside to bridge a small gap between getting something else going to help put some more money away and maybe get to enjoy life for a while. The grind of these small time one nighters is torture.

   I’ve been doing this for so long, every possible thing that can go wrong has - and it gets old. Every babbling drunk that talks through a show thinks he (or worse, she) is the center of the universe, and I have to shut that person up with well worn heckler lines said over a fifth rate sound system which used to be used for calling bingo games during prohibition.

   The process used to be a challenge, or at least I was duped into thinking it would maybe lead to somewhere better. It doesn’t. About all it does is offer stage time, but not a quality place to hone one’s craft. It would be like taking a dance lesson and having some drunken slob try to cut in on your partner halfway through the song. How will that help anyone?

   Steven Spielberg isn’t going to be in Toluca, IL looking for comedic talent to star in his next blockbuster film about the entertainment business, either. Most times, it’s just some random drunks who’d get loaded at some bar whether there happens to be a show or not.

   The people who run these shows aren’t entertainment people. They’re looking for ways to get new people in their joint so they can sell liquor, and maybe throw a piece of fish or steak down their throat too. Most are not comedy lovers, and we’re just being exploited.

   Then, there’s the money. On paper, it looks like a pretty sweet payday to stand up there and tell jokes for under an hour. But figure out how many phone calls it took to get a guy on the phone to book it, how long it took to drive there, how much gas was used, and the profit margin shrinks like male genitals in a cold swimming pool. It’s just not worth it.

   Not for me anyway. Not anymore. I’ve learned how to hobo a living for myself for years doing these gigs on various levels, but that time has to end soon. I’m tired, and even if the owners are thrilled - I no longer care. Quite frankly, they’re very lucky to get somebody of my experience and ability to work in some hell hole town off the beaten path. I’m past it.

   That sounds cocky and pompous, but it’s fact. There comes a time to stop doing certain things, and this is it for me. I used to do it for the experience, which I have plenty of now. Then I did it for the money, which I’ve got enough of at least for now. Other than both of those, what other reason would I have to say yes other than the sheer fun of performing?

   Don’t get me wrong, everything about the show tonight went very well. The people who owned the Italian restaurant were absolutely wonderful, as was the staff. The actual show was booked by Harry Hickstein, a genuinely nice man who has a heart of solid gold. He’s been a huge supporter of mine, and always tries to get me in at the various gigs he books.

   It’s flattering to be wanted, and I truly appreciate it. BUT - the actual gig was not fun at all. There was a tiny stage with a horrible sound system that fed back to the point of being a distraction. The lights in the room were restaurant lights, and I had a ceiling fan right in front of my face so I couldn’t see much of the audience. The conditions were atrocious.

   Then, of course some table of drunks right in front had to start up talking right during a punch line, and threw my timing way off. I couldn’t be mean, because they were pillars of the town, and important people to the restaurant. They needed to be bounced, but I wasn’t the one to do it, and the restaurant sure wasn’t going to do it. I had to bear the brunt of it.

   I’m just too old for this kind of rinky dink politics. If someone wants a show, I’ll try my damndest to give them a great one - but I need the right tools to do it. Give me the proper stage, well lit with a kick ass sound system. Then we can talk. If someone gets loud, they need to be launched. Now. No warnings, toss their boozed up carcasses out immediately.

   Then, there’s the ‘free’ meal. That’s always tricky. They’ll give you a meal, but it’s the proper thing to leave a nice tip to the server. OK, fine. Still, that ends up to costing close to what the actual meal would have been, so it’s never really ‘free’. It all adds up, and the bottom line shrinks even more. By the end of the night, it’s usually lucky to break even.

   I did get a chance to work with fellow Jerry’s Kidder Tim Slagle. He took the gig to get to hang with me, and I’m unbelievably flattered he did that. He is also a road warrior and knows of everything I just mentioned. His act is very smart, and he had to struggle to get their attention too. The one thing that came out of it is that he made some suggestions for the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show which were fantastic. I’ll take that as the reason I came.

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