Monday, May 30, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I’m working every day on projects, and feeling good about them all. Standup comedy as I know it is evolving, as am I. I think I’m headed left on the monkey chart, but at least I’m going somewhere. My knuckles are scraping the floor, my back is getting hairy and I have the strangest urge to get an extra large banana milkshake. I’m getting simpler, but it’s ok.
I really like what I’m doing, and that’s a major positive. I’m loaded up with trying to do six things at once, but what’s really added new excitement to all of it is my experimenting with producing other people. I’m finding I love it, and I have MUCH clearer direction for them than I do with my own stuff. I have a different perspective, and I feel comfortable.
George Clinton has produced all kinds of other projects in addition to putting together a lengthy catalog of his own work with Parliament, Funkadelic and his own solo albums for the last thirty years. He’s produced very successful outside projects for The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bootsy Collins, The Horny Horns, The Brides of Funkenstein, Parlet and more.
If he can find the time to do all that, I can find the time to do what I want to do as well. I’m currently working on a new DVD release for James Wesley Jackson which we’ll call ‘21st Century Enviromedian’, after discussing it at length. James thinks it fits his personal style, and I have to agree. We’re communicating regularly, and everything is going well.
I’ve hired Pedro Bell of Funkadelic cover art fame to handle the artwork for this project just like he’s done for both my current CD ‘Hard Luck Jollies’ and my next one which he totally nailed called ‘Comedy Skeletons In The Closet’ after George Clinton’s classic CD cover ‘R&B Skeletons In The Closet’ from 1986. It’s all costing a chunk, but it’s worth it.
I didn’t skimp on the product or the packaging, and that’s never a bad investment in my opinion. James has a very unique style, and has had fans from his days touring with all of the madness that went with the Mothership years. He’s part of the history of a cult band.
In my limited entrepreneurial experience, that’s something I think I can sell and I’ve put my own time, energy and money toward it to prove I’m right. Maybe I’m not, but it really feels right and the more things I do the more it confirms I did exactly the right thing. I am a fan of James both personally and professionally, and I know we can pull this project off.
Another project that’s gaining legs is a combination tour with my friends Dan Still, Don Reese and Dwight York. They’re all great guys and very funny, but not necessarily how a majority of the mainstream would picture funny. They’re all very smart, and yes they’re a little dark but absolutely hilarious to the right audience. I’m going to coordinate their tour.
These are both giant left turns, but I know exactly what I’m doing as far as what to do to start both projects in a positive direction. I already have, and have put minimal effort into either one. It’s incremental growth, but both are sprouting quickly. I don’t mind delaying my own stuff right now, because I’m learning a lot doing all this. And, I can feel results!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Rick Uchwat (YOO-aht), founder and owner of Zanies Comedy Clubs has died. He was by far the biggest supporter I’ve ever had, and it was him that ultimately kept me working steadily at the craft I’ve loved for over twenty years. He was also the ultimate dented can. I’m so crushed right now I don’t know where to start. Shock, pain, disbelief and sorrow are words that head in the direction I’m feeling, but they don’t come close to capturing all of it. He was truly a giant in his field, and I am by far not the only one who misses him. Rick was THE Godfather of the comedy scene in Chicago, and created an inner circle of solid people around him that became the Zanies family. I have been part of that family for going on 25 years now, and I’m extremely proud of it. It’s a lot more fun than my real one has ever been, and a lot more functional too. Rick was head of it, and took care of us all. Everyone loved him too. He didn’t always hang out at the clubs, but when he was there, he never held it over anyone that he was the owner. He talked to everyone and made us all laugh, but he also made us feel important and appreciated. A smile or thumbs up or pat on the back from Ricky lasted a long time, and made all of us want to bust our asses for him. The saying ‘A fish rots from the head’ was exactly the opposite of how Rick’s operation worked. We all took on his charisma and worked extra hard for him. Loyalty was without question. There are three Zanies locations in Chicago and one in Nashville, and the staffs have been in place for years. That includes management, wait staff and comedians too. It really is a family, and that’s unheard of in the entertainment business. The place I live is indirectly a result of working at Zanies, as that’s where we met years ago. I’ve gotten to spend Christmas and go to sporting events and forge life long friendships with the people I’ve worked with at all the Zanies locations, including Nashville. This is a sad, sad day. Rick was loaded with charisma, and he just had a way of winning people over. He was a Pisces, and his birthday was March 19th. I always called him on his birthday and we’d talk about life and what was going on, and I always thanked him for everything he’d done in a particular year - which was usually a lot. He told me I was the only one who ever did that. Rick was around when Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld and Richard Lewis started, and they are his peer group. Jay Leno was quoted as saying “Rick was the best.” There aren’t a lot of things to be said after that, because he was right. Rick set the standard for club owners. There are a few club owner headstones I would enjoy pissing on, but they survive. Why? When I had my nearly fatal car accident in 1993, Rick made sure a check for $2000 was in my intensive care room a day later. Yes, I had to pay it back, but I got to work it off on stage, and that was another way he supported me on my way back. I’ll never forget Rick’s kindness, and I can’t believe he’s gone. The entire Zanies family is stunned, and nobody’s lives will ever be the same. Thank you Ricky, you truly made a difference for all of us.