Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Everything is completely different from back when I started anyway, and I do mean everything. The comedy business is different, I’m a different and better (or at least more experienced) person and life itself has changed. The internet generation has created both challenges and opportunities for all of us. Reassessing is something we all need to do. Gone are the days when someone gets a job at age 18 and retires at age 65. Times were different then too, and I wonder how many of those people were actually happy? Maybe a life of too much structure is a bad thing too. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never experienced it. What I have experienced is the living of the dreams I had when I started in comedy, and not a lot of people can say that about anything they ever try. I really didn’t have anything I wrote down, and that’s probably why I didn’t go farther than I did. Still, I’ve done well. I had a picture in my mind when I was starting that I wanted to become a headliner and travel from coast to coast making a living as a comedian and nothing else. I wanted to get on national television as well and be like all the comedians I used to worship back on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when I was a kid. Technically, I‘ve attained all of it. I do admit, a lot of it wasn’t like the mental brochure I wrote for myself, but I absolutely did do all the things I’d pictured and then some. I did make it to headliner, and a solid one at that. Even my enemies will say I’m a strong comic, and it’s not an issue. I also played a lot of big time places from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to major clubs from NY to LA. Radio was a surprise direction, and if you had told me when I started I’d be on morning shows in Lansing, 93QFM in my home town of Milwaukee, Reno, Salt Lake City and the legendary Loop in Chicago, I would have given up any inner organ you wanted to make it happen. I didn’t expect any of those, and again it was something most people never get. I did have some rough spots in there too, and working Negaunee, MI and Spearfish, SD were never on my dream list - but I did do those and hundreds more. The fact is, I carried out my initial dream and made it happen over and over and over again, and now I need to find something new to focus on and make both a bigger and much clearer dream to chase. The reason I never took comedy any farther was because I didn’t dream big enough. It’s a common problem with many, and I admit it stunted my career growth. I also had a lot of other problems to overcome, but I’ve really done a lot to work through those also. I’m the very best edition of myself I’ve ever been, and it’s time to reboot, reshuffle and reinvent. What is it I want this time? That’s a good question, almost too good to answer. It’s easy to look back on comedy and see what went wrong to the point of overlooking the several things that went extremely right. Too late to fix the bad stuff, the cement has hardened. Whatever direction I do go, I want to spend the rest of my life giving and helping others have a better life. I know that sounds corny, but I mean it. Yes, this is a planet filled with idiots, but that’s not all that’s here. There are good people too, and I want to find them all.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Up and at ‘em early again, and it’s a harsh reminder of why road life gets to be so much of an unforgiving grind. I haven’t had a run like this in a while, and even though it’s been fun it‘s been a lot of work too. Too many years of it are catching up and taking their toll.
Today I had to drive 366 miles back the exact same route I drove yesterday to get to the gig in Morgantown, WV. Tim Rowlands and I left an hour earlier, as we are both veterans of the road game and know it’s always better to have a cushion of time to allow for crisis.
Car trouble is always a distinct possibility, especially with any vehicle I own. A flat tire becomes a crisis depending on how far away from the gig it is, or how close to show time it happens. Engines and transmissions can blow as well, so getting to a town is crucial.
Tonight was the most important of the three night run because it paid the most. Missing this one would have had the most consequence so we wanted to get there as quickly as we could to avoid putting our payday in jeopardy. Art is one thing, but getting paid is king.
Tonight’s show was at a beautiful hotel in downtown Frankfort, KY called The Capital Plaza. They do three or four shows a year in their banquet room and apparently it’s been a big hit. They serve an amazing buffet dinner and sell it as a package, which is very smart.
I think a lot more hotels could and should do shows like this around the country, as this was a major success all around. They sold the place out, and it was an event in a town that in all likelihood wouldn’t be able to support a full time comedy club. It was a perfect fit.
Tonight we had a third comedian on the bill as an emcee. Her name is Sally Brooks and she’s a lawyer who now lives in Morgantown, WV. Her husband teaches at the University and she had to make the same drive we did. Welcome to comedy, the commute is a killer.
Sally said she used to live in Chicago and actually opened for me one night at a show in Kenosha, WI several years ago. I totally didn’t remember, and felt like an ass. It all blends together after a while and I told her I hoped I was nice to her and she said I was. Whew.
I really do try to be nice to everyone, but I totally see how it can be misperceived as it’s a constant battle to focus on what needs to be done before, during and after a show. There are all kinds of things to think about, and sometimes an opening act can read that as being aloof or antisocial. Quite often it’s just a matter of not having time to sit around and visit.
Sally and Tim did a fine job, and the audience just loved the show. They stood in line to tell us how funny we were, and that’s never a bad thing. These people don’t get to see live comedy shows, and I think it’s important to meet and greet every one of them if possible.
As much fun as this run was, now it’s over. I have a really long drive back to Toledo to drop Tim off, then I’m back to host the radio show. It never ends. That’s life on the road.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Time stands still. Millions of people got an unexpected day off today as an aftermath of the gargantuan blizzard that crippled much of the country. Business isn’t as usual, and it’s a stressful time across several time zones. Not for me. I loved it. I needed the quiet time.
There was a time when I cursed the brutal Midwest winters, and all that goes with them. I hated the bitter cold, the snow and especially the wind chill factor. It was hard enough to survive frigid months in a frozen hell, but blowing wind made it unbearable. I despised it all so much I vowed to move somewhere warm and stay there forever. So much for vows.
Now, it really doesn’t bother me and I’m shocked to hear myself say that. Winters come and go a lot faster as I get older, and before I know it the robins will be singing and I’ll be listening to baseball games on the radio again. It‘ll all be over soon. Time goes too fast.
I’ve been in warm places and watched weather reports from home and I must admit that can feel pretty good. For a while. But, in the long run it just isn’t the major deal breaker it used to be. I’d rather be stuck in snow with people I like than on a beach with pinheads.
Maybe part of it is I know I’m going back on the cruise ships in a few short weeks for a well placed ten day run in the sunshine. I’m sure I’ll enjoy that sunny weather, but I had a great time today holed up all day because it gave me a chance to finally start organizing.
I’ve needed time to sort things out for months now. Everything I own is in boxes mixed up in no particular order. I tried to keep it somewhat organized as I was moving, but I had to be out in such a hurry I wasn’t able to be nearly as well prepared as I would have liked.
I still have a lot of needless clutter to throw out, and I was able to get that process started.
I put in a full twelve hour day dumping out boxes, sorting out the contents and putting it all in piles. I’m sure I’ll be at it for months until I get everything exactly the way I want it, and hopefully I can leave it for a while. I’ve had my fill of moving for about six lifetimes. It’s amazing how quickly things accumulate, and most of them are totally unnecessary.
I want to have only a few basic necessary possessions and be extra mobile in case I have to move again, which I’m sure is inevitable. I’m still getting over this last one, and I don’t want to think about going anywhere for a while. I’ve got all I can handle to settle in here.
It was Groundhog Day, and I used it as my own personal retreat. I fasted the whole day, and drank a lot of water while I worked. I listened to a lot of music I really like, including a special recording of a radio show that delved into the Funkadelic song ‘Maggot Brain’.
I can’t get enough of that song, and most Funkadelic fans would agree. It’s an amazing guitar solo that’s loaded with passion and emotion and it just crawls into one’s soul after a while. It’s an extremely powerful experience, and there are several killer recordings of the song - most of them live. I enjoyed my one day vacation, and it was productive too.