Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Marketing Switch Is On

Sunday November 27th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI

   Marketing, marketing and more marketing. That has to be my focus if I’m going to have more than a donut’s chance at a fat farm of finding financial and/or creative freedom. I’ve slugged it out way too hard for way too long in life to still be a no name ham and egger.

   If I want different and better results, and I absolutely do, I’ll have to apply different and better tactics and strategies than the ones I’ve been using all this time. They’re not getting me where I want to go, and I flat out will not accept that. I have much higher standards.

   It’s time to take an honest look at where I am, why I’m there, and what I can do to move to where I want to be. I’m glad I bottomed out with that benefit show last weekend, as it’s forcing a radical change in me just as my diabetes diagnosis sparked a complete change in my diet and exercise habits. The fire is lit, and I can’t go back. I’m SO sick of struggling.

   I’ve paid my dues and put in my time, and I’m not happy with having to struggle to pay my bills every month. Nobody knows who I am, and that’s hurting my business. I need to develop a core of fans who come out to see ME. Period. It doesn’t matter who the ‘me’ is.

   It could be Dobie Maxwell, the standup comic. It could be ‘Mr. Lucky’, an exaggeration of me put forth as a comedic caricature. That could be manifested as a live comedian or in a comic strip, or both. It could be ‘The King of Uranus’, a completely made up character.

   Who or what really isn’t important, it’s cultivating that draw. I need a significant group of fans that I can service by providing entertainment they want to see. I need to enter into a segment of public awareness that attracts people to sample what I do so I can hopefully get them to buy the concept I’m selling and make me a solid revenue generating entity.

  This has nothing to do with art, or anything that resembles art. I’ve tried that, and it isn’t working. The public doesn’t know what’s good, and I doubt if they ever did. They won’t put out good money for something they haven’t heard of, and I guess I can’t blame them.

   Some people would say I’m selling out. Those people would be correct. Year after year of hoping someone will ‘discover’ me and ‘make me a star’ has taken a significant toll on my psyche. It’s not going to happen, and if I want to make any real money I need to put a marketing plan together and find a way to execute it. I’m now in show business. Finally.

   I don’t have an answer as to what I’ve been in until now. Maybe it was a quarter century of spring training. Maybe it was fantasy camp. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t a show business career. I’ve had a job, but it’s never been a career. This all has to change. Today.

   No longer am I going to piss and moan about the past. It’s over, and I did what I did. It wasn’t all bad, and in fact a lot of it was very good, it just hasn’t allowed me to end up at a point I’d like to be. I guess I didn’t really have a crystal clear picture in my mind of the results I wanted, but I know it wasn’t this. I’m going to shift gears and reset my course.

   I know I’m not the first entertainer to do this, and I won’t be the last. I’ve heard all sorts of stories of other people who have decided to be commercial and done it. One of the best examples is George Wagner, who transformed himself  by becoming ‘Gorgeous George’.

   He revolutionized professional wrestling, and was a national sensation in the 1950s. He wasn’t particularly big or muscular, he was just a journeyman worker - much like I am. If he wouldn’t have taken the chance and rolled the dice, nobody would know of him today.

   His notoriety had NOTHING to do with his ability to wrestle. Well, maybe a little, as he had to have some level of competence to make a living at it. But there were a lot of others struggling along exactly like he was. He used showmanship to break away from the pack.

   Kiss is the ultimate example in music. They took my generation by storm. I tried to like them, but to me their music was so horrible I never could. I thought they were spectacular showmen and I still do, but their music stinks worse than ever in my opinion. Does what I think matter? Hardly. Zillions of their rabid fans worldwide have made them filthy rich.

   Their music doesn’t matter, it’s the total package. They took a little from Alice Cooper, and a little from the glam rock scene in the early ‘70s and shaped their own identity out of it all. They sold it extremely well, and there were more than enough buyers who ate it up.

   Just because I’m not a fan of someone’s product doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of them as marketers and entrepreneurs. I recently bought a video documentary of Kiss’s comeback tour in 1998 on DVD called ‘The Second Coming’. I watched it today and I was riveted.

   Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley might not be setting the world on fire being musicians, but they’re as brilliant of marketers as I’ve ever seen. Their customer service skills are up there with anyone, and I learned by watching them work. They listen to their fan base, and give them exactly what they want. They’re also magnificent merchandisers. It’s a brand.

   Gene Simmons said they wanted to be “The band we never saw or heard on stage,” and that really resonated with me. They wanted every part of their show to please the fans that paid to see them, and how smart was that? Why please the peers? They don’t buy tickets.

   I don’t care if their music stinks, I’d still go see them in a heartbeat now. I’m not sure if they’re even touring anymore, but I seem to recall them doing a ‘farewell tour’ more than a few times. Brett Favre came back less times than Kiss, but so what? Their fans love it.

   I want fans that love what I do too. I want to sell out top venues and have people line up to see me and go crazy when I walk out on stage. I want to give them a fantastic show and exceed their expectations, then I want to personally thank them as they purchase products.

   I was and am a fan of a lot of people, and I want to have a chance to have group of fans of my own. Gorgeous George did it. So did Kiss. So did a lot of others. Now it’s my turn. What’s the gimmick that will make this happen? I’m not sure yet, but I’m going to find it.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nothing Personal

Saturday November 26th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   If there’s one thing I’ve been able to do successfully in life, it’s absorb large amounts of punishment. I challenge anyone to find another guy alive who has taken more direct shots than me without becoming a raging boozer, addict or go off on a six state shooting spree.

   That doesn’t mean I claim to be better than anyone. I absolutely don’t. All I’m saying is, I’ve taken my share of lumps and then some. It can get very frustrating, and I tend to let it rip when it comes to venting. Too few ever tell it like it is. I call life as I see it. Why not?

   I’m not always right, but many times I am. When I’m right I don’t have to rub it in, and when I make a mistake I have the balls and intelligence to admit it. That’s another thing I see far too few do. It’s not easy to admit when one is wrong, but I find it very liberating.

   I am a seeker of truth. It can be unpleasant at times, but I’d rather face that than wallow in a delusional fantasy world not based in reality. It’s easy to point a finger, but when the problem lives in the mirror it’s a lot more personal. Facts are facts, and if I’m at fault I’d rather admit it quickly and openly and get to what needs fixing. Ego needs to be set aside.

   The fact is, I made a mistake to take the low turnout of my benefit show last Saturday as personally as I did. I thought people cared about helping causes as much as I do, but that’s just not true unfortunately. I also thought I could depend on those who said they’d attend, but that was wrong too. I’m not the only one who has made this mistake, and life goes on.

   So, what now? As difficult to digest as it may be, I need to put it all behind me without bitterness and press on. In the future, I need to not take anything personally at any time - a daunting challenge when it all falls apart. The truth is, we all choose how we react to life.

   There are a lot more people way more disappointed than me who take things a lot more personally than I ever did who never learn to let any of it go. I’ve been hit so many times, I can’t hold on anymore. It’s like being on a ship in a hurricane - being angry at one wave won’t do any good. There are plenty more right behind it waiting to inflict more damage.

   I’ve been down before, and I’ve come back before. Nothing is new, except details of the situation. This last ordeal wasn’t my worst by far, but it did catch me by surprise. I was on a big time roll, and hit a speed bump dead on at full speed. I admit, it rocked my world.

   I’m better now, and even though it didn’t please me to witness, sparse attendance at the Will Durst show last night let me know I’m not alone. He’s paid more dues and been at it  far longer than I have, and he still can’t fill a larger venue. No offense to Will in the least.

   The truth is, the general public doesn’t love live standup comedy as much as comedians do. Fact. Nothing personal. Another issue is ineffective marketing. If people don’t realize it’s there, how can they judge if it’s good or bad? It has nothing to do with anything other than becoming a master marketer, which I need to do or I’m out of business. Soon. Fact.

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

Will Durst Was First

Friday November 25th, 2011 - Milwaukee, WI

   No comedy work this weekend, but I’m not upset. I could use the money, but I’ll take a chance to relax a little and recharge my batteries. I’ve been off my game lately and feeling pretty frazzled. It’s part of the ups and downs of being an entertainer, and life in general.

   The entertainment business is really changing, as is life in general. It was difficult in the past, but now it’s really tough to squeeze out a respectable living. There are no rules these days. Nothing is special anymore, and people can see everything for free on the internet.

   Getting a significant number of strangers in a room for any reason is getting to be nearly impossible, and that’s a real problem. Everyone is going in every direction, and who has a clue how to reach them all? Buying ads on radio, TV or newspapers used to be the way to do it. Now, there’s not enough bang for the buck in that. Niche marketing is the new king.

   Will Durst is a perfect example. I’ve always liked and respected Will, one of a very tiny handful of comedians who has carved out a niche as a political satirist. It’s hard enough to do comedy full time, but what he does is even harder. That’s why I respect him so much.

   Not only are audiences getting dumber by the minute, they don’t keep up with news and current events like they used to. Everyone used to watch Walter Cronkite or read the same newspapers, but it’s a whole new ballgame now. Finding common ground is a challenge.

   Will is one of my comedy heroes for several reasons. He’s from Milwaukee, but moved to San Francisco years ago. I remember seeing an article about him before I ever started in comedy, and it intrigued me that there was the possibility to earn a living by telling jokes.

   I’ve gotten to know Will personally over the years, and really learned a lot both onstage and off. He’s smart, hip, funny and a total pro. Watching him work has always been a fun way to learn, both about comedy and what’s going on in the news. He never disappoints.

   Although he’s been on national television through the years, I never thought Will Durst has gotten his due. I hate to say it, but I think he’s too smart - at least for the masses. I’ve never understood why he doesn’t have his own show like a John Stewart, who’s also very talented in my opinion. Not many comedians can pull off smart, funny AND be current.

   I drove up to Milwaukee tonight to watch Will perform at some pizza joint on the south side, traditionally not the hippest part of town. The words ‘hip’ and ‘Milwaukee’ usually aren’t used in the same sentence, much like ‘Cubs’ and ‘champions’. They’re opposites.

   Will likes to come home for Thanksgiving every year, and likes to work if he can. I can relate to that, and in my opinion he should be able to name a venue and it should sell out in advance. He used to work the various comedy clubs, but most of them were too stupid or greedy to build him into the draw he could and should be. That, or the joint has closed. Comedy clubs in Milwaukee have always been inferior and run poorly, and they still are.

   That’s a shame, but the Milwaukee comedians of every generation have had to swallow hard and get used to it. We’re the bastard children of the national comedy scene, and it’s a total embarrassment. Any talent that starts in Milwaukee has to leave to earn their stripes.

   I used to think it was just me, but it totally isn’t. I’ve heard entertainers of all genres say what a tough nut Milwaukee is to crack, and they’re right. It’s known for cheapness of the venues and tightness of the audiences, but those of us from there didn’t have any choice.

   That’s where we were born, and that’s where we started. Durst saw it first, then I came along. We both chose to leave, but have survived quite nicely. Frank Caliendo is another example. Both Frank and Will are from Waukesha, which is even smaller, but we all had to leave home to find our way. And, we’ve all clashed with the local clubs in our time.

   Club owners have never been known for being kind hearted benevolent souls, but there have been an especially nasty bunch of collective slime who have slithered into existence on the Milwaukee scene. I’ve said it before, and it’s true - the ones with money never had  brains, and the ones with brains never had money. It’s been decades of deep dysfunction.

   Most Milwaukee comedians feel like neglected children of a bad divorce, and we don’t have anyone who understands what we’ve been through other than each other. Will Durst should be celebrated for his remarkable accomplishments, and treated as a local celebrity.

   But he isn’t. Especially not by the comedy clubs. None of us have ever been treated like anything other than low rent whores who will work for peanuts and can be exploited over and over without consequence. If one of us happened to lip off, some new meat would be there and the abuse cycle perpetuated. It’s like that other places, but not like Milwaukee.

   There’s always been a particularly rotten situation there, and those of us who have been exposed to it have a callous around our soul from the abuse we’ve taken. We always think we’re going to be the one who will rise above it, but it never happens. All of us get stung.

   All we ever wanted was to make people laugh and have a place to come home to. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is, so we’ve just learned to go around the maggot bastards who have run their clubs into the ground and try to book our own shows. It’s the only way to get any kind of relief from the insanity, but it also opens up a whole new can of worms.

   Now it’s back to the issue of putting fannies in seats. Not easy to do, but I’d rather work for myself at this point than associate with the club scene. I’ve been scorched enough, and most other locals on all levels feel the same way. Milwaukee just isn’t a comedy hotbed.

   Richard Halasz is a Milwaukee comedian who still lives there and promotes shows on a semi regular basis. He and Will are friends, and Richard has booked Thanksgiving shows for several years out of necessity because the clubs won’t do it. He works extremely hard to promote the shows, but the turnout tonight was not many more than I had for the show I did last Saturday. Will was hilarious, as usual. I wish more people were there to enjoy it.

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grateful Or Dead

Thursday November 24th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   I always consider every day to be Thanksgiving, and I mean it. With all the insanity I’ve endured, it’s truly a miracle that I’m still breathing. I should have been dead several times over by now, but even with all the bad breaks I’ve caught I still have had a hell of a run.

   My disappointments are many, but I’ve still had enough spectacular moments wrapped up in all the bad times to at least keep it interesting. It could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse too. Every day is bonus time, and it’s up to me to write my ending.

   I’m trying my best to live a productive life, but I’m not even close to where I think I can be and it’s really bothering me. I’m struggling with things that seem so unnecessary to me like keeping my bills paid and organizing my time that what’s truly important gets lost in the shuffle. I want to squeeze the most out of my potential, not squeak out a meager life.

   Something’s wrong with this planet, and I don’t like the way things are going. Evil and stupidity seem to be growing like weeds and thriving, while kindness and knowledge are getting trampled on the floor. Has it always been this way, or am I just noticing it more?

   Whatever the case, I’m noticing big time and it scares me. Is this the only planet where this is how life works, or is the whole universe tainted with insanity? I sure hope not, and if there is reincarnation I want to go on record and say I don’t want to come back here.

   Too late for now though. I am here, and whatever amount of time I have left is growing shorter by the day. It’s up to me to make the most of that time, however long it is. I’m not guaranteed anything, and that’s actually fine with me. If I die tomorrow, I accept my fate.

   What I refuse to accept is not giving my all, and being honest I don’t think I ever have. I have had to survive and live like a cockroach for so long it’s taken away a chance to focus on creative projects so I can not only really live but also make other people’s lives better.

   What if I could have written and starred in movies like Charlie Chaplin or had the radio show I always dreamed of that would entertain people? That would have been a win/win for everyone, but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. I was close in radio, but the stars didn’t get totally aligned so here I sit wondering how I’m going to pay rent next month.

   Still, I’m thankful for the good things I have - especially the non material things. Actual possessions mean less and less as I get older, but things like teaching comedy classes and hanging out with good people mean more and more. I would love to have a family to call my own, but that doesn’t look like it will ever happen. Maybe it’s not my lesson to learn.

   What I’m feeling inside is a need to show more kindness. Life may not have dealt me a great hand, but it’s the only one I have and I have to play it. I want to leave this place and know I gave it my best shot. I can use significant improvement, and I hope I can leave this wacky planet better than I found it. That shouldn’t be too hard - this place is a nut house.  

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

Thank You Tim Cuprisin

Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   I was stunned and saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Tim Cuprisin today. Tim wrote a column about local media in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for years, and would always give me a generous plug whenever I had any radio career developments to report.  

   I’m not going to lie and say we were close personal friends, but the few times I did meet him in person he was very friendly and I enjoyed interacting with him. He was intelligent, and interested in learning about the comedy business. My memories of him are pleasant.

   He was only 53 years old, which is way to young to die in my opinion. Apparently, he’d been sick for quite some time and I had no idea. The last I’d heard he’d moved on to a job at  www.onmilwaukee.com after taking a buyout from the Journal Sentinel. He’s isn’t the only newspaper person to move on in recent times, and I was glad to see he’d found a gig.

   I was always grateful for the mentions in his column, and I made it a point to thank him whenever he did it. I offered him tickets to a show whenever he wanted, but he told me he couldn’t accept because it would be a conflict of interest since he was a reporter. I wasn’t trying to do anything but say thanks, but I respected him even more for being so ethical.

   I’m glad I took the time to thank him, because at least I got to let him know how much I appreciated his kindness. Nobody ever thinks it’s going to be the last time there’ll be any contact with a particular person, and there are meaningful feelings left unsaid. Too late.

   Sometimes it’s something profound. Sometimes it’s something simple but emotionally powerful like “I love you.” Sometimes it’s something simple like “Thank you.” Too many people take it for granted that another person knows what the first person is feeling. It has to be said or written, and it has to be done while the person is alive or it‘s wasted energy.

   How many times has someone died unexpectedly, and the first thing the living think of is the very last encounter they had? Was it positive? Was there an argument? Whatever it was, that was the last chance there was in this lifetime to communicate with that person.

   I was on good terms with Tim Cuprisin, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I feel badly he was so sick, and sure hope his pain was minimal. I had only pleasant memories and a positive opinion of him, but he won’t get a chance to know that now, and that doesn’t seem fair to me. Why does it take death to bring this out?

   Duane Gay was another Milwaukee media person I knew, although not that well. We’d gone to a couple of Brewers games with our mutual friend Mark Shilobrit, and he was an unbelievably nice guy. When I heard he passed from cancer, I had the same exact feeling.

   We shared some laughs at a ballgame, but weren’t close friends. Still, it ripped my heart out to hear he died so young and in so much pain. The same with Tim Cuprisin. It hurts to hear of this, and I send all good vibes to his family and friends. I wish this life was fair.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering Rodney

Tuesday November 22nd, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   Born on this date in 1921 was my absolute favorite standup comedian of all time, Jacob Cohen. Most people don’t know him by that name, as he later changed it to Jack Roy - his legal name at the time of his passing in 2004. His stage name was Rodney Dangerfield, an American icon and in my opinion the best comedy technician ever. Rodney was the king.

   I never get sick of studying Rodney’s body of work. He had it all - a great look, rhythm, excellent jokes and one of if not the best hook lines of all time “I get no respect.” Rodney had style, and after many years of struggle it resonated loudly with the American public.

   Rodney was a huge hit with my generation from his appearance in the film Caddyshack, and also from his many appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He had a strong following in my circle of friends growing up, and I was as big a fan as any of them.

   I remember buying his album titled ‘No Respect’ when I was in high school and playing it over and over, both for myself and my friends, and laughing each time. I’ll still pull out the CD version every once in a while and it still makes me laugh out loud. It’s a classic.

   Rodney had a huge career, one of the biggest of the 20th century, but he sure did have to struggle to get there. He started early like I did, then quit for several years to sell siding so he could feed his family, and then got back into it and his star eventually rose. He plugged and slugged and hung in there for years, and I’m sure he had doubts as to if he’d ever hit.

    When he did, he exploded. His appearance in Caddyshack was a home run, and people I know still quote his lines in it to this day. I was at a friend’s house a few months ago for a football game, and there were about ten guys there around my age. During a commercial he popped in Caddyshack, and we all giggled like school girls at Rodney all over again.

   My career has paralleled Rodney’s in many ways, except for the pesky success part. My natural rhythm is similar to Rodney’s, but I didn’t consciously do it. Yes, I listened to his album as a kid, but I listened to every comedy album I could find and I’m nothing like the majority of those people. Rodney and I are from similar pedigree, just like musicians are.

   Comedians have pedigree too, and I teach it in my classes. Robin Wiliams’ style is from Jonathan Winters. Jim Carrey’s style is from Jerry Lewis. Johnny Carson came from Jack Benny. They don’t do each other’s jokes, but their bloodlines intersect. I’m from Rodney.

   When I first heard that, it made me cringe. I wasn’t trying to steal from Rodney, even if I was a huge fan. I wanted to be me, but people often pointed out that I reminded them of Rodney and they still do. I’ve now learned to embrace it, as it’s a fantastic compliment.

   I popped in some DVDs of Rodney today and laughed all over again. He’s still the king in my opinion, and always will be. Getting to meet him was a major thrill in my life, and I should be so lucky as to have somebody still laughing at my jokes 90 years after my birth.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hoping For Hope

Monday November 21st, 2011 - Chicago, IL

   Well, I sure didn’t expect my morale and self esteem to dip down this low this quickly - and stay there for this long. I’ve had disappointments before, in fact a lifetime jam packed with them, but this particular setback sent me over the edge for some reason. I’m a mess.

   It snapped something deep inside, and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what that is. I thought I had a magnificent mojo and a tremendous groove for the last few months, and I did - probably my best ever, but this came out of nowhere and kicked me in the crotch.

   It wasn’t just the fact that a bunch of people I thought were friends let me down. It goes deeper than that. I admit I have abandonment issues, and this rattled my cage in the worst way. Whatever tweak I have deep inside took a direct hit, and now there are aftershocks.

   My mother left when I was a baby, and I’ve tried to deal with that my whole life and not let it get me down. For the most part I think I’ve dealt with it as well as anyone can, but in times like this I don’t know how to handle it. I always wondered what family life could be like if we’d have had a chance to at least know our mother, even if she didn’t live with us.

   I’m sure it has to affect my brother and sister too as they’re older, but we haven’t talked in years so I have no idea how they feel. I’ve tried to make peace with them several times, but they want no part of it or me so here I sit with all this pent up garbage festering inside.

   I’ve tried to ignore it, avoid it, work around it, but it’s still there. I remain that hurt little boy wondering where mommy went and why daddy is such a screaming meany and why I have to live with Grandma and Gramps while everyone else lives on together without me.

   That’s the essence of the dent in my can, and even though I know I’m not alone or even the worst off, it still hurts and it’s still there - no matter how long ago it happened or what has happened since. Sometimes it all floats to the surface and stings, and this is that time.

   This is why I feel a need to be in control all the time. If I’m pulling the strings, I know I won’t do anything intentionally to make this pain linger. I want people to laugh and enjoy themselves, myself included. I wish there was a strong family around for support, but that was never an option so I tried to make the best of my situation in whatever way I could.

   On Saturday, when those people didn’t show up it went way deeper than a poor turnout at a comedy show. It was my family abandoning me all over again and that’s probably the most painful thing I can imagine, or ever want to. It makes me not want to live anymore.

   If the people I thought were the closest to me don’t care, why would anyone else? I’m a wreck right now, and it’s been haunting me day and night since Saturday. What am I here for, and why do I have to keep getting kicked like this? I feel like I’m wasting everyone’s time, including my own. I wish I could just donate my organs to someone who could use them and lay down and go to sleep forever. What is the point of continuing this struggle?

   I’m in a danger zone, and I know it. I don’t care if I live or die, and I know nobody else does either. Very few can relate to this kind of pain, but those who can know exactly what I’m feeling and it isn’t pretty. If I was a drinker, I’d be drunk and if I was an addict, I’d be high. I can see why those people do what they do, and I’m so glad I never took that road.

   This is why the John Belushis of the world are found dead in hotel rooms. The dents in their can hit them square in the face like this did me and they get pushed over the edge for the last time. That’s where I am now, and I don’t know what I’m going to do to fight it.

   My defenses are down, and just in time for the holidays too. That’s the last thing I need to have around me, but life doesn’t make it that easy. Hearing yet another Christmas ditty to remind me of my childhood might be all I need to get in my car and drive off that cliff.

   This is all deep and dark and not for the squeamish. I wish life was one big Tupperware party, but it isn’t. We all have our particular nasties to deal with, but mine have never had much in common with the masses. I’m way out in deep space past Uranus, all by myself.

   That’s where I feel I am now, and I don’t know what to do or where to go or who to talk to about any of this. What shocks me is it all happened so fast and unexpectedly. I was on a major upswing and things were looking up. I felt bulletproof and ready to tame the lions of life. Now I’m ready to suck a bullet, but I don’t want to leave a mess to be mopped up.

   I wish I knew what would cheer me up right now. I’ve had quite a few people call to try to console me, but they’re making it worse. I’m not answering my phone to avoid dealing with any of that anymore. I’m sure they mean well, but they just pour gasoline on my fire.

   I’m not a violent person, and I don’t see myself hurting anyone else. Maybe this kind of pain is what sets off all those workplace shootings that seem to be getting to be a frequent occurrence in recent years. I’m sorry it happens, but that’s not where my path is headed.

   I just want the pain to stop. I want to feel needed and appreciated by SOMEONE on this planet, but I sure don’t feel it after Saturday. I thought after all these many years of paying my dues I’d be able to fill a room in my home town to raise a decent buck for a charity.

   Now I’m sitting here with everything in disarray wondering what to do next. I’m out of guesses, and out of energy to try something else. A day job is not the answer, but what do I do to earn a living? I don’t know, and it hurts to think about it. My brain needs a reboot.

   Everything hurts right now, and I don’t have faith in anything or anybody. The logic in me says it will pass, and it will. But when? That I don’t know. Until then, I have to circle the wagons and get through this however I can. Putting a bullet in my head won’t end it.

   It would end this life, but there are still things left undone. Despite all this ugliness, I’m a good person inside and I know I can help others who are even worse off than me. That’s what I need to focus on, but it’s SO hard right now. I sure could use a little ray of hope.

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Still Stewing

Sunday November 20th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   I’m still beyond hurt that the benefit show was such a flop last night. It’s a major slap in the face, and I feel like my entire life has been a waste of breath. I don’t claim to be better than anyone else, but I do think I’m better than last night. This isn’t how life is supposed to work, and it’s bubbling in my belly and burning like a bad burrito. I’m really bummed.

   What else do I have to do to get people to show up? I know I have ability, and when I’m in front of an audience that’s already there I can bring it with the best of them. But getting a group to show up to see me is like trying to round up rabbis for a pork producer’s rally.

   All I was trying to do was raise awareness for what I think is a worthy cause. Even if I’d not been diagnosed with diabetes myself, it is a major epidemic in this country and needs to be addressed. I’d have been glad to do a benefit even if it didn’t effect me personally.

   Being a good person is way more important to me than career success, and that could be a major part of my problem. I’d rather help someone else than myself more often than not and that’s why I take this so personally. I am always giving of myself or trying to, and not getting it back when I ask for it really makes me feel lower than a pregnant ant’s belly.

   I wasn’t asking those people to do anything but show up and have a good time. Many of them I’d done favors for throughout the years, and they weren’t necessarily fun but I did it anyway. They said they’d come, and they didn’t. I’m sorry, but that really pisses me off.

   I’m all kinds of things. Disappointed. Disillusioned. Embarrassed. Hurt. I thought I had a list of people I could count on when I needed it, but I guess I don’t. People always try to make excuses like “Oh, it’s deer hunting weekend” or “The weather had something to do with it” or whatever the excuse of the week is. I’ve been hearing those for a lifetime now.

   The market has spoken, and I guess I’ve been too stupid to hear it. Whatever I’m selling isn’t what a large portion of the public wants apparently. Their silence is deafening, and it finally sank in after last night. The 30 people that did show up were wonderful, and I love every one of them - but I could have called them up personally and all gone out to dinner.

   What stings so much is that I tried to get the word out to friends and strangers alike. My appearance on ‘The Morning Blend’ was a great plug, and I’m very grateful for the strong support from Tiffany and Molly the hosts and Katie the producer. They were all fantastic. I’m also grateful for my plug on The D-List on AM 540 ESPN Radio. Thank you, gents.

   So why didn’t the public show up, or the literally hundreds of others I personally had on my contact list? I just can‘t figure it out. They said they‘d be there to support, but it didn’t happen. It makes me really think about my direction and wonder what to do next. Twenty plus years is a long time to devote to chasing any dream, and maybe it’s time to give it up and get a day job. But where? What am I supposed to do now? This rocked my world, and I don’t know how to react. I’ve been struggling for a lifetime, but this was the last straw.

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

Diabetes Dejection

Saturday November 19th, 2011 - Milwaukee, WI

   I challenge anyone to attempt to fill a randomly chosen room with at least 100 strangers or more for any reason. I’ve been doing my damnedest for going on a quarter of a century, and it I’m still not able to pull it off. It’s beyond frustrating, and I’m ready to eat a bullet.

   It doesn’t sound that difficult, but neither does winning the lottery. All anyone has to do is have a ticket with the correct combination of numbers on it and bingo - instant success. It doesn’t seem that difficult until someone tries it. Then they see how hard it actually is.

   I’ve been searching to find any human way possible to fill a room with people to see me perform a standup comedy show for a lifetime, and I’ve failed in more ways than Wile E. Coyote. The latest attempt tonight blew up in my face once again, and I’m taking it hard.

   November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and I didn’t realize that until this year when I was diagnosed with it myself. I know I probably should have already known, but I didn’t. I wanted to perform a benefit show so others might become educated about the disease.

   MILLIONS of Americans are going to be dealing with diabetes either first hand or with someone very close to them in the next few years, and I know there’s a need to spread the word about what to do to help prevent it. It’s not necessarily a death sentence, but it does require a major lifestyle adjustment that most people aren’t expecting. I know I wasn’t.

   I thought it was a no brainer to do a show to bring attention to the disease, and I thought I’d be able to pack a room for a good cause with little effort. It wasn’t about me at all, and I wasn’t promoting it as such. I just wanted to donate my time for a night to help others.

   HA! Was I wrong. After calling in every favor I could with every local person I’ve ever known in my home town, all I could get to show up was about 30 people. I was absolutely crushed, and still am. I never call in favors, and chose my event very carefully. It’s not my nature to ask people for anything, but tonight I made an exception. This was for a cause.

   I had a long list of people I thought were good friends not only promise they’d be there, but that they would ‘pack that place’ with as many of their friends and family as possible and make it a killer event. The only thing that got killed was my dignity and self esteem.

   This really hurts, and it shows me where I am on their list of priorities. If they couldn’t come, that’s fine. I’d understand. But why not only tell me they were coming, but make it a point to say they’d bring a crowd with them? I counted on them, and they let me down.

   It wasn’t about me, but I’m taking it personally. The venue still charged us for the room and by the time it was all over I lost money with expenses of time and gas and what’s left is an embarrassment to present to the Diabetes Association. I feel like jumping off a cliff. I got on TV and radio and promoted this like it was my last show ever. I feel like I failed, and my whole life has been a waste of time. I guess I should have learned to drive a truck.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Birthday Presence

Friday November 18th, 2011 - Kenosha, WI/St. Charles, IL

   My grandfather used to like to point out often that “Every day is someone’s birthday, so there’s always good reason to celebrate.” Gramps would have turned 99 today. Not many make it that far, but not many were like Gramps either. His lessons guide me even today.

   Even though I write my little diary every day and have for years now, I still don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m just a comedian who dabbles, but I do have to release one book before it’s all over and that’s the one Gramps wrote. It’s packed with love and wisdom.

   He didn’t write it on paper, it was etched permanently on my heart over the years of my childhood. I didn’t always see the love behind it then and sometimes he could be difficult to deal with because he didn’t accept mediocrity - especially from me. He had standards.

   Truth was truth, and he didn’t deal in B.S. He laid it on the line and told me how life is, warts and all. I never remember him talking to me like a child, and he didn’t pull punches on any subject. I didn’t always get it then, but I’m now able to see just how great he was.

   It’s not going to be a long book, and I don’t know exactly how I’m going to publish it as of yet, but I do know that by this time next year I want to have it out as a tribute to his life and the 100th anniversary of his birth. He might not have been famous alive, but his life is worth recounting to future generations. I hope I can share the wisdom he shared with me.

   Today is also the birthday of a comedian friend of mine named Gary Pansch. Gary and I have been friends for years, and he knows how highly I think of Gramps. He knows I will never forget his birthday because he shares one with Gramps, and today he and I hung out and had a healthy birthday dinner before driving to Zanies in St. Charles, IL for a show.

   Norm MacDonald is there this weekend, and that’s Gary’s very favorite comedian of all time. I don’t know Norm, but I’ve always heard he’s a very nice guy off stage and wanted to let Gary have a chance to see his hero perform live and meet him in person. And I did.

   I don’t have a lot of clout, but I was able to inform the manager Cyndi Nelson that Gary wanted to meet Norm, and he was just as friendly and down to earth as I always heard he was. Cyndi is a total sweetheart, and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. It worked perfectly.

   Getting to do that for Gary meant a lot, because I know what it’s like to be a fan and get to meet a hero. I’ve met Rodney Dangerfield and George Carlin and George Clinton and I won’t forget any of those memories just as I remember my times with Gramps as a kid.

   We also got to hang out with Kevin Farley, Chris’s brother. He was friendly too and we bonded because we’re all from Wisconsin. It was a terrific night all around, and everyone had fun. Gramps would have been proud of me for allowing Gary meet his hero in person, but I enjoyed it too. Norm is hilarious, and a super nice guy. This is how it should be, and I loved every minute of it. The spirit of Gramps is still alive, and I intend to keep it going.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Star Treatment

Wednesday November 16th, 2011 - Milwaukee, WI

   If every day was like today, I’d have a dream life. It isn’t, so I’ll have to enjoy it while it lasts. Actually, things have been going rather well for quite a while now and I’m trying to soak every last little bit of it in. I know there are no guarantees, so every day is a big deal.

   If nothing else, I’m having a blast living out my fantasies. If you’d have told me as a kid I’d be a headlining comedian and have my own radio show about flying saucers and live a life of constant cross country travel, I wouldn’t have believed it. Now, I wouldn’t quit it.

   All those things might not be to the level I pictured, but now that I think of it no picture ever existed. I guess I just figured everything would work out, and boy was I wrong. I was a clueless kid with no direction, other than I enjoyed entertainment and that’s where I had the most natural ability. I was always able to make people laugh from my earliest youth.

   My school and Sunday school teachers all said I was funny. Disruptive at times, but still funny. I can’t help it. I’m a ham. I love to chase the laugh, not so much for me but for the fun it brings others. I love it when others are enjoying themselves. That makes me happy.

   Today I got a chance to be on two of my absolute favorite shows - ‘The Morning Blend’ on WTMJ-TV and ‘The D-List’ on ESPN 540. Both were kind enough to have me on for a chance to pump up the benefit I’m doing for diabetes awareness month this Saturday.

   Before this year, I had no idea there was a diabetes awareness month much less when it was. I learned the hard way, and hopefully I can help someone else by sharing my story of how diet and exercise made dramatic improvements and reversed the disease completely.

   I don’t claim to be an expert…yet, but I’m learning new things about health all the time and still making strides to change my whole life around. I’m still eating well and exercise is a major part of my life to the point of it being - dare I say it - a priority. I feel fantastic.

   I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get some publicity for the event. Hopefully there will be enough bodies to classify it as an event. 10 or less would be somewhere between a poker game and a Tupperware party. I think we’ll do a lot better though. I feel good vibes.

   I can’t be more grateful for the support I received today. ‘The Morning Blend’ produce is Katie Pinkowski and she and everyone there are sweethearts to work with. I love going in there. Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle have a great chemistry as co-hosts, and they always treat me like a big star. Who wouldn’t love that? It makes me feel I‘m worth something.

   It’s the same feeling I get at AM 540 ESPN on ‘The D-List’. Drew and Dan give me the freedom to go on whenever I want, and when I’m there I feel like a part of the show. They have a producer Matt ‘Fish’ Salmon who even has a drop of me telling a joke and plays it when I sit down. Again, who wouldn’t love that? It’s the same kind of feeling stars get on national shows, but I have it in my home town. That’s all I ever wanted in the first place.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Unshow

Tuesday November 15th, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   The last thing I need in my life right about now would be any more high risk, built from scratch, cockamamie, hare brained, wackadoo fly by night ideas or get rich quick schemes to clog my toilet on a semi regular basis. Doing all I’m doing now keeps me busy enough.

   I tend to be a bit scattered to say the least. That being said, I’m gradually adding another discipline to my weekly schedule of activities to accomplish, but it’s one I can handle and it won‘t interfere with anything else I‘ve got going. All I have to do is run my big mouth.

   I’m the sidekick on a pod cast called “The Unshow”, a modified for the internet version of a radio show that used to be on in Pittsburgh that was hosted by Jeff Schneider, owner of the Funny Bone comedy club there. I was a guest on that show whenever I would pass through town, and I always had a blast. It was unique and eclectic, not like regular radio.

   Jeff and his brother Keith owned the Funny Bone in Milwaukee in the mid ‘80s. That’s where I cut my comedy chops on many levels. I was an all purpose grunt and did anything and everything from answering phones to seating people to hosting shows to mopping the floor afterward. I got to hang around the comedy business and learn it from the inside out.

   What a fantastic opportunity that was. For once I was absolutely in the right place at the right time, as that’s when the ‘comedy boom’ was happening in America. Every town had at least one comedy club, sometimes more. Nobody realized at the time what a big deal it was, but looking back those truly were the good old days. I was part of a happening scene.

   I was in my early twenties then, and the world was my oyster. I was the first comic from Milwaukee to be able to make my living from standup comedy, even though much of that income came from my menial tasks at the club. I didn’t care, I was able to live my dream.

   The Funny Bone eventually closed and now it’s Shank Hall - named after a reference to a scene in ‘This Is Spinal Tap’. Jeff and Keith moved back to Pittsburgh, and I’ve worked their clubs there for years. Keith is more into the business end, but Jeff and I always had a strong rapport when it came to comedy. We make each other laugh, and have for decades.

   We don’t always agree on everything, but that’s not a bad thing. Also, both of us tend to be extremely polarizing personalities. People either really get us or really don’t. That isn’t a bad thing either. We are who we are, and by now both of us have learned to accept that.

   Jeff’s radio show was quite solid, for that exact reason. He was who he was, and he’s an interesting guy with strong opinions on a myriad of topics. He’s very entertaining to listen to, and whenever I was on I could fit right in because we’d known each other for so long.

   That’s why this pod cast is a no brainer. We record it every Monday morning via Skype, and basically just riff on whatever topic that strikes us. www.unshowlive.com is where it can be heard, and those who like it will love it. Those who don’t, we really don't care.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Viking Vindication!

Monday November 14th, 2011 - Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   Now THAT’S a football game! The Green Bay Packers stomped the purple stuffing out of the nefarious Minnesota Vikings 45-7, in one of the most enjoyable ass whippings I’ve seen since Buster Douglas flattened Mike Tyson. Humiliation! Embarrassment! I love it!!

   This one goes all the way back to childhood. Year after year, the Vikings who were lead by that little slippery bastard Fran Tarkenton would completely emasculate the Packers on their way to losing four Super Bowls, but even losing those Super Bowls didn’t take away the sting of having to watch my Packers get pummeled - twice a year, every year. Brutal.

   Fran Tarkenton was the devil. I realize how great he was now, but then I would flip out at the TV watching him scramble around in the backfield while the entire Packer defense looked like the Keystone Cops trying to tackle him. Packer fans over 40 remember it too.

   Those purple pukes were the one team the Packers just couldn’t beat. I remember them tying in 1978, and that was extra frustrating because they were so close but couldn’t get it done. I remember screaming at the TV and just how stupid that was, but I did it anyway.

   The Packers and Bears had some pretty heated battles back then, but once in a while the Packers would win so at least I’d have some hope. The Vikings ran roughshod over every team in the division back then, and they were in an elite class as much as I hated to admit it. Even though they kept losing those Super Bowls, they were good enough to get there.

   I guess that’s why it was so sweet to savor this game tonight. Fran Tarkenton isn’t there anymore, and none of the same players or coaches are around, but the fact that they took a beating that bad, on Monday Night Football no less, made my inner child leap with glee.

   I don’t care that none of this should matter in the big scheme of life. It certainly doesn’t. Not in the big scheme anyway.  But, I won’t deny there is an obscure little place inside us all that loves every minute of stuff like this, and that’s where I am right now. It’s heaven!

   The truth is, the Packers are on a winning streak for the ages. I know it will end at some point, but until then I’m going to relish every single minute. I would have sold my soul, a kidney and all my Mad magazines and baseball cards to get to experience this as a kid. It took decades to finally get it, but I did. I guess that kid is still alive, because I‘m loving it.

   What made it even more fun was watching it at my friend Mark Gumbinger’s man cave in Kenosha, WI. I had a comedy class to teach at Zanies in Chicago, but that was finished at 7:30 so I got in my car and made it to Mark’s house in time for the second half kickoff.

   There were a bunch of fun people there, and we were all around the same age. All of us remembered the torture of watching those Minnesota maulings, and I could feel the exact same vibe of sweet revenge coming from them to. I’m not alone, and even though none of this should mean anything - it totally does. I for one am choosing to enjoy it all. Go Pack!

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

Losing My Drive

Sunday November 13th, 2011 - Harris, MI

   Back up nort’ for more fun in the Upper Peninsula. The driving gets old on this run, but that’s what it is and I know it up front. I can either take it or leave it, so I took it. I always do. Then, as I‘m making the drives, I tell myself this is the last time. Until the next time.

   It’s not easy to turn down work these days, but I need to seriously rethink my battle plan and find a way to make money without having to do this anymore. If I want to do it, that’s one thing. Sometimes a road trip can be fun. But not to the U.P. In November. In snow.

   I don’t want to burn a bridge, and there’s no reason to, but the truth is other than getting a chance to work at the Northern Lights Theatre in Milwaukee there’s no reason to do this run anymore other than money. It’s not a career maker, and I’ve surely got the experience.

   The booker of this run is a very nice guy named Joe San Felippo. I like him and his wife Margaret very much, and they wouldn’t care what I decided. We’d still be friends if I said I didn’t want to make the long drives anymore, and I’m sure if I asked they’d help me find a way to just do the Northern Lights gig. Right now, that sounds like the best way to do it.

   That would be an ideal venue to do my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show, and I could avoid the white knuckle stress of those two lane roads in sleet storms. I’ve paid years of dues to not have to do that anymore, and there is no shortage of young bucks who’d take their turn.

   This is all part of the growth process entertainers need to go through. The drives are the price that comes with being able to get the experience of being booked as a headliner, and that builds chops to eventually work nicer rooms in bigger cities. Actually, this run is very nice and so are the people. It’s just that it’s so far to get there, and weather is a big issue.

   At least I get to bring my own opener, and tonight it was Steve Purcell. He’s a laid back nice guy, and we get along well. He lives near Madison, so I swung up to get him and that made the drive even longer but it would be stupid not to ride together. Getting to hang out is the main reason I asked him to do the run in the first place. We always have a fun time.

   The Island Casino in Harris, MI was our destination, and Steve and I have worked there way too many times to count. It’s a 7pm show, but that’s Eastern Time so we’re finished by about 7:30 Central Time and can get home at a decent hour. That makes it a lot better.

   My cousin Wendy and her friends came out to see the show, and it’s always great to see her. Her father and my grandfather were brothers, and she’s had her own struggle with all that goes with being a dented can. Her father was a lot like mine - a complete ass, as were most in our family tree. My grandfather was an exception, and we’re trying to follow suit.

   I remember her and her older sister Lynn from way back in my childhood, and they both were sweethearts. Seeing her and getting to hang out with Steve made the 733 mile round trip worth the effort. But, if I’m smart, I’ll find a way to avoid having to keep doing them.

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweet Home Milwaukee

Saturday November 12th, 2011 - Milwaukee, WI

   Sweet home Milwaukee. Like it or not, it’s my home town - warts and all. I’m learning to like it a lot more as I get older, as I’m able to see a much bigger picture these days than just the angst riddled dysfunctional mess that was such a big part of my early years there.

   People are basically people, and dysfunction exists everywhere. I’m not the first to have to deal with it and mine wasn’t the worst. Knowing that, it doesn’t make everything in the past ‘all better’ like a mommy kissing a boo-boo, but it puts it into perspective. Life is not fair, easy and never will be perfect. For anyone. We’ve all got humps we have to get over.

   I’m doing the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt, and actually life and all that goes with it is looking quite bright these days. It took a lot longer than I thought for it to arrive at this point, but I’m here and I want to enjoy every last second. It was a long rough trip.

   Tonight’s shows were at The Northern Lights Theatre at the Potawatomi Casino. I love everything about that place from the actual venue to the people running it to the audiences to the security staff. If every gig was like this, I’d have been a major star many years ago.

   Working at a place like that makes a performer want to give the absolute best show one can give. There’s a huge stage with a killer sound and lighting system, and the laughs just ricochet through the room. I always have a blast working there, and tonight was the same.

   They have a special parking spot for us, and the security staff walks us back stage to the dressing room which has a plasma TV with full cable, and a big fridge stocked with sodas and waters and any number of other perks we might enjoy. They give us food coupons for either the sumptuous buffet or the delicious food in the sports bar area. It’s all first class.

   The guy I report to is named Steve, and he’s been there for years. He’s laid back and as easy to work with as anyone I can think of. He’s always friendly and upbeat, and asks me how much time I’d like to do rather than just bark it out orders like most stage managers.

   The security guards have been there for a while and they are always glad to see me or at least they fake it well if they’re not. They quote lines I used last time, and said they love it when I’m there because I’m easy to deal with. That makes me feel great to hear it, as my goal has always been to not bother anyone and just do what I do. This is a wonderful gig.

   I had a bunch of people come down to see me, as I usually do. I never know who knows I’m in town or not, but it always surprises and amazes me whenever I play here just how many nice people I’ve crossed paths with in my home town. It’s not that horrible after all.

   I can’t list all the friends that came to one or stayed for both shows, and I’m fresh out of superlatives to express how highly I think of them all for taking time to do it. I gave them my best, and I hope they enjoyed it at least half as much as I did. All the driving I did this last two weeks made it a special treat to be back here. Milwaukee is home, and I like it.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State Pedophillia

Thursday November 10th, 2011 - Sault Ste. Marie, MI

   I can’t turn on a radio or TV without hearing more sordid details oozing out about Penn State’s football program and the dark situation there. I thought I had seen and heard it all, but this took everything to a new level of shock and disgust. What a repulsive cesspool.

   It’s the same feeling I had when I heard of Jeffrey Dahmer and his exploits. That one hit a little closer to home, literally, as I was living in Milwaukee at the time. I was working at 93QFM on the morning show, and our news person Debbie Dalton informed us a national news story was breaking about finding body parts in an apartment a few blocks from us.

   My partner Mike Baxendale, Debbie and I just stared at each other, not knowing how to react. It was beyond anything we could comprehend, and we weren’t sure what to do with it as a topic. We were supposed to be funny, but that was something WAY over the line.

   We ended up letting the story unfold, and as it did nationally we let it run its course like is going to happen with the Penn State situation. Every day something new would unfold in the Dahmer drama, and as sick and twisted as it was it was also fascinating to follow.

   We had a newspaper reporter come in and give daily reports for a while, and one day he happened to leave a copy of the Dahmer police report in the studio. Apparently things like that are public record, but they’d stopped giving it out because it was so controversial and ghoulish. I knew human nature, so I took out ads to see if people would buy it. They did.

   I’m sorry it happened, and I’m sorry for the victims and their families. It was insensitive to do that, and I doubt I‘d do it again, but it was a lesson in human nature to observe such a level of interest in something so dark and heinous. I know I still have a copy of it in one of my boxes, and I bet if I offered it again people would want a copy ‘for a friend’. Right.

   All that aside, I’m very sorry for the kids who were abused. Nobody thought about them through the whole thing, and I can’t imagine the horrors they endured. I was listening to a radio talk show on my way to the U.P. yesterday and a guy who said he was molested as a child called to offer his thoughts on the situation. It was chilling to hear his vivid recount.

   I felt his anguish jump through my radio. He was in a lot of pain, and I’m sure all those other kids from Penn State are too. I had a less than fairy tale childhood, but this goes far beyond anything I ever had to endure. I need to stop whining and know they had it worse.

   I can’t believe this insanity was allowed to continue as long as it did with absolutely no intervention from anyone who knew about it. Couldn’t anyone call the police? I must say I like football too, but this trumps it. It should have been handled, and heads need to roll.

   I’m to the point now I don’t want to hear any more about it, but like with the ugliness of the Dahmer situation, there’s something darkly fascinating about it all. We all have a little bit of ghoul in us, and that’s just how we’re wired. Still, my heart goes out to those kids.

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

Here Comes The Snow

Wednesday November 9th, 2011 - St. Ignace, MI

   433 more miles added to the odometer today, but the constant barrage of a rainy, snowy, sleety, icy mixture made it way more grueling than the 537 mile journey to Nashville last Wednesday. An already long drive turned into a ten hour mega-bummer filled with stress.

   Of course I didn’t leave as early as I’d have liked, as I had some details to get to I didn’t finish on Tuesday because I had a comedy class to teach. It all backs up, and I have to get things done when I can. I’m trying my best, but it’s not always good enough. I’m behind.

   It was raining as I walked out the door, and it was right at the temperature where driving becomes a complete hassle. It’s too cold and sloppy wet to open the driver’s window, but I have to so the condensation doesn’t fog up the windows and I can’t see the road in front of me. Then, my left arm gets soaked because the window’s open. It’s funny if it isn’t me.

   Rain turned into snow just north of Milwaukee, and continued all the way to St. Ignace, MI - a teeny tiny weeny winy seasonal summer vacation town just north of the Mackinac Bridge. When I arrived at the Kewadin Casino to check into my room, they had a weather radar at the front desk and I saw that I’d been smack dab in a storm squall the entire day.

   EVERY other direction was clear as a bell and soaked in sunshine apparently, and they were talking about it behind the desk when I got there. Apparently, they had closed down a few two lane roads in the U.P. because of icy buildup and I’m lucky I was able to make it across U.S. Highway 2 without spinning out. My speed never made it over about 45.

   I had to peel my fingers off the steering wheel like crab legs, expecting to hear a snap as I did each one. I had time for a quick shower, and then it was down to the lounge for their free comedy night. Nobody pays to get in, so nobody feels they have anything invested in the show. I’ve never been a fan of that, and I’m not now, but this was an excellent show.

   There were maybe 60 people tops, but I’ll bet more than half of them came up after the show to shake my hand and say a sincere “Thanks for entertaining us.” I could tell it was genuine, and that’s about the nicest compliment anyone can hope for. It made me feel like my all day dog sled trek through the elements was appreciated, and that goes a long way.

   I’m working with my friend Phil Dunham this week, and he’s an inspiration and a half. He’s got THE most positive attitude of any comic I’ve ever worked, and maybe anybody else either. He could give Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar a serious run for their money. He absolutely loves being on stage, and it shows. He exudes enthusiasm and it’s contagious.

   Phil is the greatest. He turned his life around after his wife left him in 1989, and he has never looked back. He’s successfully raised two sons and created a financial business out of absolutely nothing, and now he’s going back and chasing the comedy dream he started in the ‘80s and was cut short when his marital situation went sour. I have total admiration and respect for Phil, and people like him and crowds like this make long drives worth it.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Entrepreneurial Experimentation

Tuesday November 8th, 2011 - Libertyville, IL

   Today would have been the ideal day to rest up and do absolute zilch, but it didn’t work out that way. Far from it. This is an extremely hectic time, and I’ve got more things going at once than I ever have. It’s a lot of fun and very exciting, but also not easy to keep track.

   The trip to Nashville took a lot out of me physically, even though I exercised every day by walking all over town. There are all kinds of hills with slow steady inclines that make walking there deceivingly difficult. I’m so sore right now, I can barely get up off a chair.

   There’s no rest for the wicked though, as I’m leaving right away tomorrow morning for a two day tour of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’ve made that drive way too often for my liking, and I’m not looking forward to it tomorrow. But, it’s part of the run. Too bad.

   This one is about 500 miles in the opposite direction of Nashville, but the results will be similar - nobody will care if I’m there or not. I’m just a peg filling a hole, and those aren’t that hard to find. If I piss off the wrong person or my car breaks down, no payday for me.

   That’s why I’ve got to start promoting my own shows. I read somewhere George Carlin would promote his own shows, and take the financial risk. I’m doing that this week in not one but two venues in two states. The first is a clean comedy show with two of my friends and former students Karl Newyear and Michelle Krajecki. It’s in Round Lake Beach, IL.

   The Round Lake Beach Civic Center is a beautiful facility, and they want to try standup comedy. I was off Friday, so it seemed to be a worthwhile risk. It’s being co-promoted by Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL and between everyone else and me we should have a decent chance of putting butts in seats. This will be a chance to test our promoting wings.

   If it all flops, it won’t be the end of life as we know it and our planet will still spin. I’m calling in a few favors, and I’ll rarely do that. We’ll fill seats, but how many who knows? We’re all rolling the dice, but the worst case scenario won’t be fatal so I’m willing to try.

   Details are at www.improvplayhouse.com. I’m anxious to see if we can pull this off. No matter what happens, I’ll be betting on myself and at least I won‘t have to deal with some quirky high maintenance diva. If I deal with a kook bag, it’s me. I’m already used to that.

   I’m doing another show November 19th for National Diabetes Awareness Month up in  the Milwaukee area in Franklin, WI at a place called ‘The Hideaway’. That’s another low risk rental, and I’ll call in more favors. Their site is www.thehideawaypubandeatery.com.

   That show is being promoted by my friend Russ Martin, but I think I can get a couple of media hits and help get the word out at least a little. Both are low cost well booked shows that will be worth people’s whiles. I hope we’ll break even on these two nights, or at least raise money and awareness for good causes. Friday is to honor Veterans Day and the 19th is for diabetes awareness. If one or both fizzle, at least it will be with positive intentions.

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

Running On Fumes

Monday November 7th, 2011 - Nashville, TN/Chicago, IL

   Now the pendulum swings the other way. I drove home the same 537 miles that I did to get here on Wednesday, but it seemed painfully longer. I left after the show last night, but stayed longer than I’d planned to visit with some comic friends who came out to see me.

  I couldn’t just leave, that would be rude. They made it a point to come see me and I was flattered they made the trip. I tried to relax and enjoy their company, knowing all too well I had a brutal all night run ahead of me. Ducking out a little earlier wouldn’t change that.

   There were fourteen people in the audience, and they were as stiff and devoid of life as the rest of the week. I bit my lip and did my time, then thanked the staff for having me. It isn’t their fault, and there’s no sense being angry at anyone. It is what it is, and that’s life.

   I’m not the only one facing these situations. I visited with two Nashville comics - Rick Wey and Joby Saad. They’re both veterans, and are experiencing quite a few of the same pitfalls I am. Rick has a day career, and is doing quite well. Years ago, nobody would be respectful or take a day job comedian seriously. Now, those people are the envy of us all.

   Rick is very classy and a true gentleman, and I always love to see him. He and his wife Gina have taken me out to eat and taken me to ballgames, so there’s no way I’d not make time to visit at least a little while - especially since he drove to the club just to see me.

   Joby Saad and I go way back. If a ‘Joby’ and a ‘Dobie’ are in the same business, sooner or later we were bound to cross paths. He’s a very physical act and quite unique. He was in L.A. for years, but like a lot of us he wanted to have whatever a ‘normal’ life may be.

   Guys like Joby and Rick and I can relate to the state of comedy right now, and it’s good to have someone to bitch to who understands the bigger picture. Those guys are doing the same thing I’m doing, just in a different part of the country. It doesn’t matter, it’s all hard.

   By the time I hit Louisville, I knew I’d bitten off a big drive. I used to be able to pull off drives like this with no problem, but those days are done forever. I got out of the car for a walk and stretch about every two hours, and it seemed like I was driving to Afghanistan.

   I made it through Chicago without issue and arrived home at 7:30am. I forced myself to eat breakfast, as I’ve been pretty lax with that lately. It’s not a habit yet, even though I’ve been maintaining my healthy lifestyle quite well as a whole. Road grease was my bane.

   The long drive wiped me out for most of the day, but I had to be back at Zanies by 6pm to teach a comedy class, then host the Rising Star Showcase at 8:30. We had a great class and a super solid Rising Star Showcase. Mark Schiff and Steve Mittleman stopped by for guest sets, as they had a corporate gig in Chicago. I’ve always been a fan of both of those guys, and it was a treat to meet them in person and find them both to be very friendly and approachable. My schedule is packed, and the coming week is loaded too. I need a clone.

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

Country Kudos

Sunday November 6th, 2011 - Nashville, TN

   More Nashville history today. If I’m going to be stuck here for the week, I might as well soak up as much of the atmosphere as I can. I don’t know when I’ll be back this way, if at all. I do have quite a few friends in town, but professionally I’m not sure if I have a niche.

   It’s fine either way. The comedy crowds here are just not my favorite. As a rule, they’ve been drunk, loud, indifferent and flat out stupid. Oh, and judgmental too. I’ll do stuff I’ve done everywhere else, but here they’ll turn up their noses or groan. I’ve lost my patience.

   Even Caroline Rhea was frustrated last night, and she’s a name act with all kinds of TV credits who has been coming here for years. She’s very funny, but the late night audience insisted on talking through her set and someone was even texting. How rude can you get?

   I don’t know what it is, but it is. Maybe it’s because they can see Loretta Lynn or Faith Hill shopping at a Kroger, so they’re unimpressed with anyone of lesser notoriety. I don’t know, and I’m to the point I don’t want to know. I’ve never been able to rock this town.

   It surprised me about Caroline Rhea though. She said she loves it here, and always has. I was very impressed with her onstage and off, and we got along extremely well. She’s a real person, and made herself accessible to anyone who wanted to meet her after shows.

   She also talked about how she’s not thrilled with the road anymore either. She’s a mom and wants to spend time with her three year old daughter. What’s wrong with that? It was very fun to work with her, and when she had to struggle to get their attention I’ll admit it made me feel relieved. It wasn’t just me after all. We all had to fight to get them to listen.

   It is what it is, and it didn’t get in the way of having fun and learning stuff off stage this week. I went back downtown this afternoon to take in the induction ceremony in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame. There’s a walk of fame like Hollywood, and today they held a free event open to the public to induct several people, including guitarist Les Paul.

   I’d never been to a Hall of Fame induction ceremony of any kind, so I made it a point to attend. Les Paul is from Waukesha, WI so I had to support that alone. I got way more than I expected though, and was glad I went. There must have been about a thousand people.

   Dr. Bobby Jones was inducted, and I’d heard of him for years. He has a gospel show on CMT I believe, and it’s been on since 1980. He’s the host and executive producer, and he has won all kinds of Emmys and Grammy awards. He was a dynamic speaker, and it was worth going just to see him. That wasn’t all though. There were several more inductees.

   Alan Jackson was there, and he was great too. I didn’t realize how prolific a writer he’s been, and it blew me away. He’s had thirty-five number one hits if I heard correctly, and he’s written or co-written over twenty. I’ve heard if a person writes three hit records, that person is financially set for life. I would think Mr. Jackson has been able to squeak by.

   Kix Brooks was also on the bill, and I didn’t realize how much success he’s had either. I’d heard of Brooks And Dunn, but apparently they’ve sold more records than almost any other act in recorded music history. Wow. They were rattling off statistics as they brought him up to get his award, and I lost track. He was the headliner, and was introduced last.

   There was another lady inducted I’d never heard of named Dottie Rambo. Great name. I must admit I’d never heard of her before, but she was a child prodigy who wrote all kinds of hit songs for all kinds of people from Dolly Parton to Whitney Houston. I was amazed as they read off her impressive credits, just as I was with Alan Jackson and Kix Brooks.

   These people are all major successes, and I respect every one of them even if they’re not on my personal favorites radar. I have to admit I’ve never owned a single Alan Jackson or Brooks And Dunn CD, but they’ve done quite well without my help. They’re both huge.

   I was impressed even more when I heard them speak. Each one of those guys was about as humble as I could ever imagine someone being with all they’ve accomplished, yet both made reference to how they felt like they didn’t deserve to be included with the big stars.

   They absolutely did, as did everyone who was inducted. Bobby Jones is very impressive as well. His publisher was his presenter, and made the point that even though Bobby grew up in Paris, TN his records were being sold in Paris, France. I’m sure he’s done well also.

   By all accounts, Les Paul was not only an innovator and creative genius but also a super person who everyone loved. His son was there to present him, and told of how well loved his father was. What a sincere tribute. I can only hope someone remembers me like that.

   I stayed for the entire ceremony, and enjoyed every bit of it. I learned a lot, and have the utmost respect for the accomplishments of everyone there. Not only did they deserve their recognition, they all seemed like outstanding people as well. I want to model myself after people like these, even if I wasn’t a direct consumer of their music. They’re great people.

   Afterward, I took the tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame. I can’t believe I’d never seen it before in all the times I‘ve been to Nashville, but I hadn’t. It cost $19.99, but there was a $2 AAA discount so that was all I needed to hear. I knew I needed to check it out.

   I try to always make a point to check out places like this on the road, especially Halls of Fame. I’ve been to the football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH and baseball in Cooperstown, NY. I’ve also seen the bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis. This was right up there with the best tourist attractions I’ve ever seen. It was worth every penny, and I enjoyed everything.

   I’d only heard of Chet Atkins, but again wasn’t familiar with a lot of his work. I’m now going to make it a point to check out more of it, as well as Hank Williams too. There was a whole exhibit for each of them, and I see why. They were monster talents, and deserve a place in entertainment history. Seeing this part of Nashville was awe inspiring, even if my shows weren’t fun this week. I’m a student of the game, and this week had many lessons.

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Entertainment Education

Saturday November 5th, 2011 - Nashville, TN

   Just because I’m not the center of attention in Nashville this week doesn’t mean it needs to be written off as a wasted trip. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can absolutely be smart and use my time to learn something. Nashville is an entertainment hub, and even if I don’t particularly enjoy the country genre, there are lessons to be learned everywhere.

   All entertainment towns have the same dynamic. There are precious few spots at the top but there are countless hoards of faceless masses chasing them. Whether it’s Los Angeles for film actors, rock bands and comedians or New York for Broadway entertainers - it’s a crapshoot. There are many factors that determine success, talent being way down the list.

   Improvisers flock to Chicago from all over to be part of the scene there, and Nashville’s niche is country music performers and songwriters. Country music is a gigantic influence on middle America. I learned that when I worked in country radio, and I respect all those who have overcome the odds. Any field of entertainment is difficult, so kudos to them all.

   I took another walk downtown today to explore the scene some more. It was a beautiful sunny day and Broadway was packed with people with cameras from all over gawking at the tourist attractions. There was a real buzz, and I tried to focus on what I could learn.

   One place that really stuck out was the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. One of the reasons is ‘Ernest Tubb’ is a funny name. I’ve heard of him since I was a very young child because I had a wacky aunt who loved his music. That alone made me never want to hear any of it.

   I still couldn’t name even one of his songs, but you can bet your cowboy hat and big old belt buckle I’ll soon know a lot more about him. That guy was a big time marketer and an outstanding showman, and I’m now a fan. It doesn’t matter if I like his music, I like HIM.

   His store has been open since 1947. There are a couple of locations, but I saw the main one and it was dripping with country music history. There were early 8x10 photos of the greats like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn, and there were also many I’d never heard of.

   There was a great photo of Ernest himself holding his guitar upside down with the word ‘THANKS’ written on the back. What a simple gimmick, and I’m sure crowds went crazy with applause when he’d flip it over. That’s very memorable, and would work just as well for someone else today. If Slash started doing it, his fans wouldn’t know where he got it.

   What interested me even more was the mail order side of the business. I picked up their catalog, and it’s a twelve page shiny flyer that sells every country CD and DVD I’ve ever heard of, and a lot more that I haven’t. Ernest died in 1984, but his brand is still kicking.

   He also had a great nickname ‘The Texas Troubadour’. Everything about him had a ring to it, and I’m sure that wasn’t by accident. I’m going to study his history and reallocate as much as I can for my own brand. King of Uranus - ‘The Terrestrial Troubadour‘? Hmm.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bitch Or Do

Friday November 4th, 2011 - Nashville, TN

   I’m the invisible man in Nashville this week, and that’s just how it is. Nobody cares I’m here, and I don’t fit in with the flow of the show or the town. I can choose to be upset and bitch about it or I can get to work on my projects. Those are my two choices - bitch or do.

   I’m choosing to do. It’s not all bad. I’m going to get paid, and that’s the reason I’m here at all. It would be nice to feel like I’m wanted or needed, but that isn’t the case. Nobody is mean to me, and the staff at the club are extremely friendly. It could be a whole lot worse.

   My accommodations are ideal, a major upgrade of what they used to be. The club is in a pretty rough area of town, although it seems to be on the upswing. They used to put is in a ramshackle crack house looking hell hole that was located right across the street from the club. Any convenience was far overshadowed by the fear of being attacked by a vagrant.

   There were bars on the windows and doors, and I’m sure there was mold, lead paint and asbestos all working together to sterilize those who stayed there. I used to abhor having to stay there, and it would end up depressing me by the end of the week. Sometimes sooner.

   Now, they have us in a brand new beautiful apartment about half a block from the club and right up the street from the crack house, which has now been renovated and used as a business office. The apartment complex we’re in now wasn’t even here until just a couple of years ago, and it’s a difference of night and day. I have a clean, happy place to work.

   They’ve got fully loaded cable TV here, but I’ve been so busy working I haven’t turned it on at all. I’ve got work to do, and I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself. I took the gig, and am grateful for the chance to get paid. I could be driving a school bus.

   I did take a break from my work to take a long exercise walk today. I wound up walking several miles and ended up downtown.. That’s a part of Nashville I haven’t frequented for all the times I’ve been here, and I really have no reason why. I guess I never wanted to get lost in the tourist scene, and I was never a huge fan of country music so I didn’t go there.

   Today was different. I was all over the main strip, which is Broadway. There must have been two dozen little bars with live music playing at 2:00 in the afternoon. I kept hearing the same old country classics being sung by people nobody had ever heard of, and I felt a kindred spirit bond with all of them. They’re in the same boat I’m in - the S.S. No Name.

   They’ll all be able to tell their family and friends they played Nashville, but who knows how long they’ll be here? Next week there will be a new crop of wannabes getting off the bus wanting to take their place. Like comedy and life in general, it’s all a numbers game.

   My walk back to the apartment was a lot cheerier. At least I’ll be getting paid this week. Those people were doing it for free, hoping to get seen. Both shows tonight were in front of the same drunk, stupid chatterers I remember. I did my time, and life on earth goes on.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Tennessee Twist

Wednesday November 2nd, 2011 - Nashville, TN

   Back in Nashville for a week at Zanies. This is a completely different world from how it is at the Zanies clubs in the Chicago area, but it boils down to earning the cabbage so here I am. 537 miles from door to door is an excruciating commute, and that’s only one way.

   I’ll have the exact same drive home on Monday, and I’ll have to leave early because I’m teaching a comedy class at Zanies in Chicago at 6pm. Not only that, I’m scheduled to host the Rising Star Showcase at 8:30. I took those gigs before I took this one. Am I insane?

   Maybe, but that’s not the reason I’m doing this. I’m doing it to earn a living, and in this economy one has to take work when it comes. I’ve already resigned myself to the fact I’m not actively looking to be a road monkey much longer, but Nashville is a tricky situation.

   Although I’ve never been fond of the south in general, this is an entertainment town and it wouldn’t hurt to have solid connections here. I know a few people already, and having a chance to reconnect is exactly what I need right now. Show business is about connections.

   I guess I already knew that, but it’s been driven home rather hard again and again lately and I’m getting the message whether I want to hear it or not. Reading the Harvey Mackay book about networking recently was what started it, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

   I’ve been gathering all my collected business cards from the boxes I’ve been sorting and put them all in a single container. I have several hundred of them from various eras of my life, and I used my time in the car to sift through them all and decide which ones to keep.

   The largest percentage of cards are from other comedians, and I had all day so I decided to sort them into alphabetical order. It took a few hours, as I needed to keep an eye on the road while I did it, but I managed to get it all done before I got to the Tennessee state line.

   I was able to do three things at once: I sorted out business cards that had been collecting for more than twenty years, I listened to Robert Ringer’s entire six cassette audio program called ‘Living Without Limits’ and I drove to Nashville to earn a living. That’s efficiency.

   I also made and received some phone calls, and tried to be as productive as I could with the situation I was in. I think I did a good job, but that doesn’t change the fact I’ve lost my zeal for making these long trips. I’m making an exception this week, but I’ve had my fill.

  I was scheduled to headline tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, and open for Caroline Rhea on the weekend. Instead, I got to the club and was told I was double booked and ended up opening for Taylor Mason. Taylor is a great guy and very talented, but I didn’t expect it.

   He draws a Christian crowd, and I was told I had to keep it squeaky clean for an all ages show. Thanks to my cruise ship experience, I can handle it. Not many comics I know can hear they have to be kid friendly ten minutes before a show, and still manage to pull it off.

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


Tuesday November 1st, 2011 - Kenosha, WI/Fox Lake, IL

   11/1/11. How symmetrical. I don’t know what it means, but it sure looks neat when I’m writing it on my checks. It’s kind of like when the odometer turns a milestone number on a car. It’s fun to gawk at for few seconds, but then it’s gone. Tomorrow, this will be over.

   Today, I used it as a motivator to make as much progress on as many projects as I could get to, especially things I’ve been meaning to get done forever but haven’t. I got right to it as soon as I woke up and went on a long walk to get my exercise in. That’s always a good way to start the day. I feel like I’ve accomplished something before I begin anything else.

   I used my walk to line up the ducks in my head of what I wanted to get to, and I knew it wouldn’t be everything so I had to pick my battles. I decided to work on each of the major projects I’ve got going for two hours and attempt to get one thing finished and off my list.

   First on my list was the Uranus project. That’s been sitting way too long to the point of stagnation, and I need to dust it off and get it moving again. I have a vision of what I want to do, and I’m not doing it because everything else is taking up my time. I want to create a mail order business that sells funny things of all kinds through a character played by me.

   The character will be called ‘The King of Uranus‘, and wear outlandish fancy costumes. It will be a cross between a wrestler, a televangelist and any other gimmick I can throw in there to sell it. If I have one thing it’s a gift of gab, and if anyone can pull this off, I know I can. This is the finishing touch of a lifetime of hard work. The package is almost ready.

   George Clinton consciously made an effort to ’go weird’, and it worked extremely well. Before him it was George Wagner, the wrestler who became ’Gorgeous George’. He went off on his own tangent and became a nationwide sensation. Maybe it would help a little if my name was George too, but it isn’t. That doesn’t mean I still can’t pull off my vision.

   The vision includes theme music, and I’ve been meaning to get it recorded from a vinyl record to an MP3 file so I can play it online when I make You Tube videos to use as sales tools for my products. I went to the radio station in Kenosha and forced the issue until the project was done. The guy who said he’d do it hasn’t, and it’s been sitting for months.

   It took about eight minutes of actual work, but I wouldn’t leave until it was completely done. I hounded the guy, but I had to. It was uncomfortable for both of us, but at least it’s out of the way and I can use the song to build the character. It was a lesson in persistence.

   I also wrote some checks to pay bills, mainly because I liked writing 11/1/11 on them. It felt good to get some of those bills taken care of, as they’ve been sitting for a bit. Today’s theme was getting to projects that are long overdue, and I got to several. It feels fantastic.

   I did three loads of laundry, mailed some packages I’ve been meaning to, and all around had a productive day. I’m still slugging, and in the game. The King of Uranus is coming!   

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roger Dangerfield

Monday October 31st, 2011 - Fox Lake, IL

   It’s not important where, but in the last little while I was sitting quietly waiting to go on before a show when a potential customer walked up to a ticket taker at her booth to ask if she thought the show was worth seeing. The person wanted to know her honest opinion.

   The ticket person hadn’t noticed me sitting there, but I was totally within earshot of her and the one asking had no idea I was one of the comedians. This was a ripe opportunity to get some unvarnished feedback if there ever was one, and I braced myself for her answer.

   She wasn’t very complimentary of the other two acts, slicing them up rather thoroughly as a matter of fact. Then she got to me, and I expected the same. Not so. She went on and on about how funny she thought I was, and even tried to quote three or four of my jokes.

   The person who asked her actually laughed, and then took out his wallet and purchased four tickets. Just when I was starting to feel pretty good about myself, the ticket taker said “That guy is SO funny! He reminds me of a young Roger Dangerfield.” My heart sank.

   Rodney Dangerfield is my comedy hero, and I can’t think of anyone more famous as far as a comedian goes. In his time, he reached the pinnacle of notoriety with countless times on television and starring roles in several major motion pictures. Still, this woman wasn’t able to identify a major celebrity correctly. Part of me laughed, but it was also disturbing.

   Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard a famous comic’s name mangled. A lot of people seem to feel a need to express their opinion of who their favorite comedians are once they find out I’m one myself. I don’t know why they would think I care, but they do.

   “Oh, I love that Bill Crosby. He’s a hoot.” Any time someone tells me they think a guy is a ‘hoot’, I know I’m in trouble. These are the same people who call women ‘gals’ and add an ‘s’ to words whether they have one or not, as in “I went shopping at Walmart’s.”

   I can’t believe I still hear people refer to Jerry ‘Steinfeld’ or ‘Seinfield’, but I do. And, it happens a lot more often than I thought it would or should. When I appeared on The Late Late Show on CBS, I had quite a few ask me what ‘that Greg Ferguson’ was like. Really.  

   I’m not looking to get famous just so people wandering around ‘Walmart’s’ pronounce my name correctly. They won’t. Fame is not what interests me in the least. What interests me is building a brand I can use to sell tickets. So far, I’m just a generic can of spinach.

   This isn’t an insecure desperate search for ego gratification. I want to get paid for all my years of sacrifice to put myself in a position to develop my abilities to this point. I put my heart and soul into this, and right now it seems like I’m not any closer to recognition than when I started. Something’s not right, and I need to fix it. But how? Everyone thinks they have the easy answer and have been telling me to ‘get a manager’ or ‘get on TV’. Really? Gee, I didn’t know it was that easy. Maybe I should contact Roger Dangerfield’s people.

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