Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fit For A King

Tuesday January 31st, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   Happy New Year my dragging ass. It’s the end of January already, and I’m struggling to keep everything I’ve got going doing just that - going. Where did the month go? I feel like time is flying by extra quickly, and I can’t do anything about it. It’s frustrating, but reality.

   I did a lot of productive things this month, but not half of what I’d intended to. I have to focus on what went right, and go from there. I did some very solid comedy shows, and am feeling like I’m finally starting to build a fan base. It’s small, but I feel it. It’s encouraging to go to a show and know at least a few people are there to see me. I’m finally seeing that.

   I’m also feeling progress with the King of Uranus project. Jim McHugh has been a huge help in keeping me focused, and the timing is right for us to be working together. He’s an excellent detail person, and exactly what I need right now. We work together very well.

   Delegating tasks has never been a strength of mine, but I’m forced to start doing it soon or I’ll stay stuck at the level I’m at now forever. I don’t want that, and I feel I’m doing the necessary steps it will take to produce different and better results. It’s slow, but in motion.

   Yesterday after dropping Jim off after our radio shift at WNTA, I drove in to the city of Chicago to shop for a King of Uranus costume. I’ve got the wheels in motion to get a pair of custom sewn capes made by a friend of Jim’s mother, but I want to finish the rest of it.

   There’s a several blocks long business strip of Indian shops on Devon Avenue between about Western and Lincoln Avenues, and I wanted to shop around for some exotic clothes that a king would wear. I used to live not far from there, and I knew if that stuff would be sold in the Chicago area, that’s where it would be. I parked my car and started searching.

   I got a few strange looks when I walked in some shops, but everyone I met was friendly as I explained what I was looking for. All I said was I’m playing the role of a king and my costume needs to stand out and get attention. I wanted to look regal, and they delivered.

   I must have tried on a dozen complete outfits, and that’s usually something I absolutely can’t stand doing. This was different, because it was for something fun. I had a picture in my head of what I was looking for, and I tried to find as close to it as I could. It worked.

   There were quite a few things I tried on that I liked, but one full length black robe really stood out. It fit me perfectly, and both the sales lady and I knew it immediately. It slipped on easily, and it was exactly what I had pictured. She said it was made for an Indian king type, and I don’t think she was lying. Even if she was, it was an amazing piece of fabric.

   The only problem was the price. $550. There were intricate gold embroideries all over it, and even if I got the discount she promised, it would still be more than I can afford to drop on a King of Uranus garment right now. I haven’t paid for my capes yet, much less a crown. It was still fun to shop around and experiment, but it sure sucks up valuable time.

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mentor Health

Sunday January 29th, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   Being a mentor is extremely important to me, but I can’t put my finger on exactly why. I tried to figure it out, but the only answer that made sense was that it doesn’t matter why, only that I follow through and do it. I know how much in high esteem I hold my mentors, and they really made a difference. I want to be that same source of inspiration to others.

   My grandfather was THE most influential mentor I ever had, but he was a father figure for life lessons at an early age. All of my adult life has been in and around entertainment, so those mentors were more specialized and shaped me professionally. I needed them all.

   There was Gary Kern and Kyle Nape, two great guys who helped me cut my road chops and learn how to be a professional entertainer. But without a doubt, the big one for me by far was C. Cardell Willis. He hosted the show the very first time I ever stepped on a stage.

   Cardell was my comedy father, and also the rest of Milwaukee’s comedians at that time. He took time to run shows and help any and all who wanted to learn the craft. He gave of himself freely, and I learned things from him that I still use today. He was a giving soul.

   He was born and also died in the exact same years as my father. He would have turned 75 on April 20th of this year, and I think it’s only right I pay him a proper tribute. He was never famous, and in my opinion never got his due for all the people he helped - like me.

   I have put the wheels in motion to have a tribute show at Shank Hall in Milwaukee this coming April 22nd. The room was booked on the weekend, but Sunday is appropriate for a show like this because that room used to be Teddy’s, and they had Sunday comedy shows there for years. In fact, that’s where I did my first ever paid comedy show. It has history.

   It was also the Funny Bone in the ‘80s, so that’s the perfect place to have the show. I’ve arranged to rent the room for the night, and am contacting a list of Milwaukee comedians from that era who are still around. I’ve gotten a terrific response, and I can’t wait to pull it off. It will be my own personal tribute to a mentor, but also a chance to let others join in.

   I’m working on getting some sponsors to cover costs, and will also make it a charitable event and hopefully raise some money for at least one worthy cause if not more. I know it doesn’t do anything for my career, but that’s ok. I feel I have to do this, and I’m going to.

   Today I went to Milwaukee to take part in a ‘Comedy Conclave’ I was invited to attend via Face Book. It was a last minute thing, but I felt compelled to go. There’s something in my deepest DNA that tells me to help those people, or at least show them some support.

   There were new faces and some that I knew, and it was odd to now be in the role played by Cardell when I was starting. They were looking to me for advice and guidance just like I looked to Cardell. I didn’t hold back, and told them my unvarnished opinion. I wonder if anyone heard it? I do know they were glad I showed up. I felt it. Mentors do matter. A lot.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Super Bowling

Saturday January 28th, 2012 - LaSalle/Peru, IL

   Cause and effect. Action and reaction. Yin and yang. There are two sides to everything, and that can be maddening at times. Just when one of those sides is functioning correctly, the other needs attention and it throws life out of balance again. It’s a constant struggle.

   I’ve been in a nice little groove lately, doing all kinds of fun comedy shows close to my home and liking it. I’ve been generally working with and for quality people, and having a blast living in the moment. That streak continued tonight in Peru, IL at The Super Bowl.

   The Illinois Valley Super Bowl is a bowling center that has been featuring live comedy shows for probably twenty years or more. I’ve only gotten on the bandwagon recently, but now I’m in their regular rotation of favorite acts and I’m glad to be on it. I have fun there.

   The owners are Jim and Bob Stubler, and they’ve both been incredibly supportive of me and always bring friends when I’m there because they really like my act. How flattering is that? I always try to give extra strong shows there because I’m so grateful for the support.

   Tonight’s show was packed and rocking, and there was a couple who brought friends to see me because they loved me so much last time. The lady in the new couple paid me one of the most sincere compliments I can imagine by saying I had exceeded her expectations. She said she couldn’t stop laughing, and thought she was going to pee her pants. Victory!

   How much better can it get that that? Physical incontinence is the ultimate goal for any comedian, and it doesn’t matter where it happens. If I was playing Caesars Palace in Las Vegas or a bowling center in Peru, IL, peed pants are peed pants. I’ve done my job well.

   There was an enthusiastic line of people after the show that wanted to buy a CD and tell me how hilarious I was, and that’s never a bad thing. I thanked each one and meant it, and then thanked the Stubler brothers once again for having me. They treat me like a big star.

   Another plus was being able to bring along one of my former students Elly Greenspahn as the opening act. She did a fine job, and has made solid progress in just a few years as a comedian. She’s a Chicago public school teacher by day, and this is an extra perk for her. Getting a paid gig on a real show is a big deal, and it‘s been a delight to see her progress.

   It was a really fun night all around, but on the way home I couldn’t help thinking about how this is the end of this particular little run. It’s been a lot of work just getting all of the little details done, like doing radio interviews and physically showing up for all the actual shows. I spent decades before that preparing to be able to do these solid shows I’ve had.

   This run has been productive and rewarding, but I’ve let my booking maintenance really lack and I have holes in my schedule in February that worry the hell out of me. I have two weekends booked, but two that are not. Something MIGHT fall my way, but I don’t enjoy MAYBE being able to eat. I can’t sit and relish these fun shows, I have to seek out more.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Choo Choo, Mr. Bully!

Friday January 27th, 2012 - Rockford, IL

   Try as I might, sometimes I still have trouble overcoming my weaknesses. One that I’ve struggled with horribly since childhood is being able to let certain things go. Even though I know it’s not smart, I tend to carry grudges. Big time. For years. I’ve been improving for a long time, but it’s still a soft spot and I admit it. I’m sorry, but I REALLY like revenge.

   Maybe that’s the little brother in me who got pushed around as a kid, or maybe I’m just a dented can with an old fashioned mean streak. I’m not proud of it, but I know it’s there. I do all I can to be a nice person to a fault, but when I feel that someone has disrespected me I feel an intense need to break off a few karate kicks in their ass with a combat boot.

   Bullies are especially a problem. I refuse to accept bullying from anyone, and even if it means getting my own ass kicked I’ll always get right back in their face and let them have my unvarnished opinion whether they asked for it or not. Mincing words is not my style.

   That’s been my downfall on more than a few dozen occasions, but in retrospect at least I’ve made myself as clear as a bell with all the marble heads with whom I’ve had an issue. I’ll be the first to admit it’s usually a waste of time to worry about paybacks…but I have.

   Just when I thought I was over one that really bothered me for a long time, tonight I had a chance to stick it to a big time bully and I can’t help enjoying how delightful it feels. It’s kind of like running into an old flame by chance who was a scorcher in her day but is now a weathered old war pig nobody looks at twice. It shouldn’t bring pleasure…but it DOES.

   There is a comedy booking agent who used to have a stranglehold on the Midwest for a long time. He was never a people person, and in fact most comedians couldn’t stand him. We all tolerated him, only because he had a lot of work that was close to home. He made sure we all knew he was in charge, and had hundreds of us jumping through his hoops.

   He could call us at a moment’s notice and ask us to drive in a blizzard to some horrible gig in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and knew we’d do it because he could hold over our heads all that other work he had that we wanted. It was a power trip, and he loved it.

   I should have had a major clue when I eventually met him in person and saw that he had a beard. My grandfather always told me to avoid dealing with anyone with a beard, as they were surely hiding something. My father always had a beard too, so that was a useful tip.

   Like most of the Midwest comedians did in the boom years, I depended on this bully for a big chunk of my work load every year. The work was usually decent, and even though it didn’t pay great, it was enough to fill in the cracks and make it possible to earn my living.

   I can remember doing all kinds of last minute ‘favors’, but never ONCE getting it back in my direction. He could exploit anyone he wanted, and took full advantage of it. I knew I wasn’t the only one getting boned, but it still hurt. The bastard had no conscience at all.

   I’d had a few tiffs with him over the years, and one time we really had a big blow out. It was wrong on my part, but I really went off on him in frustration and left a nasty message on his answering machine. We didn’t work together for years, and I should have used it as my liberation. Instead, I came crawling back and tried to unburn the bridge. Big mistake.

   He ended up being the one who booked me at Giggles in Brookfield, WI which has now closed because the owner was bouncing checks like basketballs. He did nothing to inform me of a problem, even though he knew there was one. It was a major issue, and caused an inordinate amount of pain and suffering that didn’t need to happen. It still pisses me off.

   Unfortunately, there has been a long and rapidly growing list of comics like me who are no longer working for him because he turned the business over to his sons, who are about as people friendly and competent as Saddam Hussein’s two geniuses. It’s been pure hell.

   Well, tonight I got a little pay back. There’s a new room in Rockford, IL at a wonderful placed called Franchesco’s. WOW, what a venue! They have a show room that’s as sweet as any club I’ve ever seen, and they’re running comedy shows booked by my friends Ken Sevara and Sky Drysdale. Ken is another one of the victims of the booking agent bully.

   He’s about as laid back and nice of a guy as there is, along with Sky Drysdale who was a radio personality who hosted comedy nights in Rockford for years. He really knew how to treat the comics and also trained his audiences to behave during shows. He did it right.

   I couldn’t be more flattered that those guys thought of me to kick off the first show. Of course I had to say yes, and they made it even better by putting a guy named Brian Hicks in front of me as the feature act. He’s THE absolute best guy I can think of in the country for that position, and I don’t mean any disrespect by that. His style was tailor made for it.

   The feature position in comedy is quite often the easiest from a performer’s perspective, but very underappreciated by everyone else. To be a good one takes effort, and Brian does it extremely well. His act is original, clean, well presented and very funny - but not in any way that’s overpowering so a headliner can’t follow it. Plus, he’s super mellow off stage.

   He’s a married guy and doesn’t go out chasing waitresses or get snot flying drunk after a show. He does his job, does it well, and goes home. Bookers everywhere should look to clone Brian Hicks. He’s like a good utility infielder. They don’t get glory or huge money, but every team in baseball scrambles to find them. I’ve always been a big fan of Brian’s.

   The booker in question apparently was fuming about this new room opening in a market he considered ‘his’, and sent out an email ‘banning’ anyone from working it. Brian isn’t a rabble rouser, and wanted no part of it. It was a gig to him, and that’s it. Not to the bully.

   Brian is now persona non grata like so many others of us who’ve busted our butts to put money in this wank-a-doo’s pocket for way too long. Well, his empire is crumbling and it couldn’t delight me more. The old karma train has a circular track. Choo choo, Mr. Bully!

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

The Power Of Respect

Thursday January 26th, 2012 - Kenosha, WI

   I can dream about massive unbridled success of the King of Uranus all I want, and I am, but meanwhile back on Earth the grind of life still goes on in the trenches. Bills won’t pay themselves, and dreams won’t become reality without effort. Back to work to make a few shekels to tide me over until superstardom hits. It’s taking much longer than I imagined.

   The next few days are going to be hectic, but I love it. I’ll be working both on stage and on the air. Jim Stone contacted me for some last minute fill in talk host work at FM 100.5 WNTA in Rockford, IL. I told him I would show up, even though the shift starts at 5am.

   It happens to work out perfectly, as I have a comedy gig in Rockford tomorrow night at a venue called Franchesco’s. It’s a ‘ristorante’, so that means it’s a high class swank joint. That term along with ‘bistro’ mean the arrow points due northward on the ritzy titzy hotsy totsy hoity toity meter. If it has ‘haus’ or ‘o-rama’ in the title, it’s a dive. I‘ve learned this.

   Tonight I had a gig in Kenosha, WI at a place called ‘Pavle’s Lounge’. That’s definitely not a ristorante, but it’s not a dive either. That’s a bar, and they’ve had live entertainment for as long as Pavle has been open - 22 years. He’s a Serbian guy who couldn’t be nicer.

   It’s a tiny little room, but it does have a stage and maybe could fit 60 people if crammed full. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue tonight as I think the grand total was 14. This is just not the kind of gig I want to be doing now, but I was asked nicely so I said I would do it.

   There’s a huge difference between being respected and treated like a two bit whore, and the tiniest amount of respect goes a long way with most entertainers of any genre. We get bought and sold like baseball cards or used cars, and the ones doing it forget we’re people with feelings. Most of us become entertainers because we lacked respect in the first place.

   I was approached for this show by a bouncer at Pavle’s who saw me at a Zanies show at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL a few months ago. He said Pavle had not done any comedy shows in a long time, and would like to start up again. We worked out a date that turned out to be tonight, and since it was a week night there wasn‘t much risk involved.

   I called Russ Martin and Karl Newyear, as both are not far away and can always use the stage time. I knew they’d appreciate it, and wouldn’t waste the opportunity. I try to throw a bone to others when I can, and I like hanging out with those guys. It was an easy call.

   Pavle usually doesn’t open until 9pm, so the show was scheduled for 9:30. That’s a late start for any week night show, and knowing I had to get to Rockford by 5am made it seem that much later. I wouldn’t have minded if they canceled, but they wanted to do a show.

   It is what it is. Pavle was extremely grateful, and must have thanked me ten times. How can I get angry at that? It’s not his fault. It’s a hard task to fill even a small bar for a show in Kenosha on a week night. At least I felt respected, and those 14 people loved the show.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Digging Deeper Into Uranus

Wednesday January 25th, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   I’m battening down the hatches, as I can tell this is going to be a hell of a year. I feel the rumblings in the distance getting closer, and at some point the deluge will begin. It has to. I’ve been putting too much out there for too long without some positives bouncing back. 

   I’ve paid enough dues for about six lifetimes, and now it’s time for payback. I haven’t a clue as to what it will all entail, but I know it’s on the way. I just do. I feel it. I don’t know how I know, but I do. There are going to be events in 2012 I’ve never experienced before, but in a good way. I am working day and night to make sure I’m prepared to soak it all in.

   Between bookers calling, classes pending, my one man show ’Schlitz Happened’ about growing up in Milwaukee, The Mothership Connection paranormal radio show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI and trying to stay in contact with friends, I’ve got more than I can handle.

   That doesn’t include ‘side projects’ like producing the DVD for James Wesley Jackson or booking a ’Pirates Of Comedy’ tour with Don Reese, Dwight York and Dan Still. It’s a chore just to list all this stuff much less keep track of it, but every bit of it is worthwhile.

   And then there’s The King of Uranus. That’s the monster that’s been rumbling loudest, and I feel myself being drawn to it. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve admired in life and a mix of a lot of things from pro wrestler to charismatic evangelist to George Clinton and Sun Ra’s outer space alter egos to science fiction to just plain funny. It’s a total kick.

   I think it’s more than that though. My friend Max Bumgardner called tonight out of the blue to say he was thinking about me and had the urge to call so he did. Max is one of the few people I consider a true kindred spirit, and totally gets where I am coming from. He’s always understood the ‘dented can’ concept, and is a big fan of The King of Uranus idea.

   Max has very solid natural business instincts, which I admit I do not. I’m a creative type and that’s how it has always been. I’m at the mercy of the bean counters, and that’s a fact I’m not thrilled about. Max gets where I’m coming from, and called at the perfect time.

   He encouraged me to get out there and DO this gimmick, and told me to only say aloud positive affirmations that I want to come true. Max is a big time student of self help like I am, and he’s right. The Law Of Attraction really does work, and I needed to re-hear that.

   This whole thing is more than a gimmick. It’s the childhood I never got to have, and the way to reach more people than I ever would as a regular old run of the mill white standup comic. I’ve tried that for decades, and it hasn’t come close to working how I’d planned.

   This idea goes way deeper than that. It opens me up to a whole new level of community service and bringing laughter and healing to people who really need it. I picture this to be a whole lot deeper than putting on a goofy costume and walking into places to watch how people react. That’s part of it, and its very funny, but the roots of it all are very spiritual.

   Max is one of the few people who gets all this, and his call served as a lightning rod for getting me to put into words exactly what I intend to accomplish by doing this. At first the idea was just to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s much deeper now.

   I want to touch people’s lives and souls, not just their wallets. I want to help the hurting heal, and there are far more dented cans out there than I ever imagined. I’ve had my share of horrific breaks in life, but there are countless stories much worse than mine. They need to laugh, and they need someone who can relate to their pain to deliver it. And that’s me.

   There are countless nameless and faceless standup comedians out there, but there’s only ONE King of Uranus. I’ve finally come up with something that sets me apart from all the rest - even though I’ve been ‘out there’ my whole life. This is the vehicle I have lacked.

   I’m going to breathe life into this character in the next little while, but it’s been brewing since childhood. Gramps would LOVE this, and I’m not only doing it in his honor, but for  the others in my family who died without ever doing anything worthwhile - like my uncle. He left this planet a lonely unfulfilled bitter horse’s ass. He missed the reason for living.

   It’s all about giving and sharing and showing sincere acts of kindness. He motivated me whether he knew it or not, and ending up like him or my father scares me beyond words. I want to be known for my service to humanity, and this is going to be the way I achieve it.

   If a regular old comedian came to a hospital or an orphanage or an old folks home, they may or may not be remembered five minutes after they left. I know I feel that way far too often after shows. People may laugh and have a good time, but I’m forgotten in minutes.

   Who could forget The King of Uranus showing up in full costume with flames and farts and smoke and gimmicks and whatever else I can throw in? Word will get out, and it will spread like wildfire. I know human nature and entertainment enough to know I’ll get a lot of mileage out of minimal effort. Just showing up in the goofy costume will get attention.

   Now it’s a matter of coming up with the back story of why I’m dressed like that and the battle plan of how to get it known to as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. It WILL get seen, and it already has shown potential for lightning fast recognition.

   When it does, I want to have my priorities straight. Yes, I’m looking to get rich. I’m not denying that for a second. Money is a part of life, and it’s important. But what’s far more important is touching those who are hurting. I want to take this to places where comedy is needed most but not usually seen - like prisons or hospices. I want to make a difference.

    I know it all sounds corny and sappy, but I‘m not kidding. With all the insane horror of dysfunction going on in my life from such an early age, this is finally my chance to be the kid I never got to be then. I had to grow up too fast, and missed out on much of the dumb fun kids are supposed to have. Well, this is it - and a way to reach out to others who have similar scars. Like a Patch Adams, Peace Pilgrim or Mother Theresa, this is my mission.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Regal Stupidity

Tuesday January 24th, 2012 - Waukegan, IL/Hoffman Estates, IL

   Lots of running around today, but all of it productive - and long overdue. First it was off to scenic Waukegan for lunch with magician Dennis DeBondt. He ran across a guy with a bar/restaurant that has an upstairs performance space that wants to try live comedy shows.

   Downtown Waukegan is not the epicenter of entertainment, but there’s no comedy at all in Lake County, IL and it wouldn’t hurt to get a few things started. Dennis is a very funny comedy magician and could easily headline comedy clubs if he wanted, but he’s also very good at the business end of things and doesn’t need to do that. He does better on his own.

   He’s exactly the kind of person I need to align myself with, and I can help him too. He’s always talking to people that aren’t in my loop of contacts, and often those people ask for referrals of both comedians and magicians. It never hurts to know a source for new work.

   No matter what happens in Waukegan, I’m glad I met with Dennis. He’s a professional, and I can hopefully help him in return. We looked at the room in question, and it’s doable for an occasional show. It’ll never be a full time club, but that’s not what the place wants.

   After lunch it was off to work on the King of Uranus costume with Jim McHugh. I need a constant kick in Uranus to make this thing happen, and he’s been doing his job perfectly as of late. I’m the first one to admit I’m a scatterbrain, and Jim helps me to stay focused.

   It has to get DONE. Period. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m crazy, and in fact that’s the whole idea. I never denied it, and I don’t now. This is an admittedly stupid concept which perfectly fits a painfully stupid world. It lightens people up at a time when we all need it.

   We saw a perfect example of it today as we went into a fabric store looking for material to make the King’s cape. Or is it a robe? I don’t know, so that’s what we went to find out. Jim bought a new video camera that’s the size of a cell phone, and followed me around in the store as we looked through fabrics and had interaction with a couple of sales people.

   They were a little taken aback at first, but after a while they came around and it was fun to watch the transformation. Who’s not going to remember that the King of Uranus was at their store? It was great practice on many levels. We filmed a scene, bought the fabric and Jim’s mother has a friend who is a whiz of a seamstress and she’ll construct the costume.

   That will be more fodder for recording. Gradually, we’ll come up with the character out of trial and error and the reactions we get will dictate what stays and what goes. This is an absolute blast, and I don’t care who tells me it’s stupid. It IS stupid - that’s why it works.

   I really do have passion about this project, and I need others like Jim to keep harping on me to just DO it. There will never be a better time than now, and action is the main key to success at anything. The only failure possible with this concept is not taking my best shot, but days like this make that fear shrink like testicles in cold weather. Prepare for a King!

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

American Storage Pawn Picker War Stars

Monday January 23rd, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   I haphazardly gulp from life’s cup of shame like a thirsty dog laps from a toilet. I should be a millionaire by now, and the one and only idiot to blame for why I’m not gawks at me in the mirror every day. I’ve had chances, and so far I have blown every one. It haunts me.

   Nothing reminds me of it more than this recent glut of all the ‘treasure hunt’ TV shows.  ’Pawn Stars’, ’Storage Wars’, ‘American Pickers’ and all their various imitators show me just how close I was to hitting pay dirt. It was right in front of me, and I flat out missed it.

   What more of an ideal situation could a person ask for than to be constantly on the road for twenty-five years with 23 hours of free time a day to do nothing but hunt for treasures, make connections all over North America and wheel and deal? I was tailor made for this.

   I have always had an eye for collectibles, even as a kid. I remember going to sports card shows in Milwaukee back before they were popular everywhere. I would take the city bus across town to a place called Federation Hall when I was maybe 12 or 13, and come back with as many old baseball cards as I could buy with whatever stash of money I had saved.

   They used to have auctions for old cards, and I was right in there bidding toe to toe with grown men many years older than me. Many would ask why I was bidding on those cards when they weren’t from my era, but I just knew they would be worth money in the future.

   I ended up selling most of them in my early twenties when I really needed money, and it came in super handy at the time. I did make a healthy profit, but had I really been smart to wait until the peak years of the mid ‘90s I’d have made ten times what I did. I missed out.

   Still, I bought and sold sports card collections for years after that. I loved the process of hunting the source, making the deal and reselling it all. Sometimes I lost money, but more often than not I was able to do pretty well. There are a lot of universal steps that go along with any collectible genre, not just sports cards. Had I been smart, I could have hit it big.

   Collectibles and antiques are all about knowledge. The objective is to buy items from a seller that doesn’t know where to get as much as you can. That’s the whole concept of all these TV shows, and it’s exactly what I was doing as I was wheeling and dealing cards.

   What if I would have gotten to know antique dealers and collectors in all the towns I’ve been going back and forth to all these years? WOW. It boggles the mind how many deals I could have been part of and how many great adventures I missed out on. Sure, I did buy and sell a few random baubles and trinkets along the way, but nothing to break the bank.

   Now, after seeing these shows everywhere it’s going to be next to impossible to troll up anything of real value for any kind of bargain. Every seller is now going to jack up prices beyond belief, thinking they’ve got the Holy Grail. I wouldn’t think of starting now, but if I had years ago I’d have probably hit my mother lode by now. I missed the boat. How sad.

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

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Reality Of Perception

Sunday January 22nd, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   There’s a very interesting video on the internet about a world class violinist by the name of Joshua Bell who played a very difficult piece of music on a super expensive violin that was worth $3.5 million in a train station in New York. No passers by recognized him. He got $31 in donations in an hour‘s playing, while tickets to his shows average $100 each.

   I remember seeing the video when it first came out, but someone sent it to me again this week and I was reminded of how important perception is - especially in the entertainment game. Talent has never mattered, and the video drove that point home hard. It’s not that a talented person will never make it, it’s just that talent is not the one and only requirement.

   It’s not just about talent either. Joe Paterno of Penn State died today of lung cancer, and his perception was that of being revered for decades as a pillar of virtue and a worthy role model for his players to emulate. When the scandal broke about long time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly having sex with boys on campus, Paterno’s image was stained.

   By all I’ve read and heard, JoePa did absolutely nothing to protect the victims of one of the most horrific crimes I can imagine. Even though he eventually got fired as a coach, he still had the blind worship and support of a large number of football fans in Pennsylvania.

   They couldn’t imagine getting rid of the living legend, even if what he did was about as wrong as it gets. He was perceived as an icon, and the truth didn’t matter. There are other examples too numerous to count, as well as hypothetical situations. What if someone like Hitler or Bin Laden had helped little old ladies across the street? Would it redeem them?

   Of course not. Their perception was that of being evil, and deservedly so. They had way too much bad energy attached to their names to let one little good thing sway the opinion in the other direction. Reputation can go a long way in how the public views somebody.

   Brett Favre is a shining example of how someone’s public perception can change from icon to ex con in a short period of time. He was the king of Wisconsin for at least a dozen years, and when he left his fans were up in arms. Then, when he pulled his little Viqueens stunt, he turned to the dark side faster than Darth Vader’s cape. His perception changed.

   Perception isn’t always reality, but it might as well be. Ozzy Osbourne may have bitten the head off of a bat, and maybe he didn’t. Does it matter? Everyone has heard that story. Did Richard Gere and a gerbil ever hook up for a well publicized weekend rendezvous?

   Again, it’s not important if it actually happened or not. A lot of people THINK it did, so that’s all that’s necessary. That gerbil could pass a lie detector test and it wouldn’t change a thing in the public’s mind. The perception is there that it happened, good luck changing that. I was thinking today about what my perception is, and I’m not really sure. I hope I’m perceived as a good person, and I try to be one. Unfortunately, that’s not all that important as far as business goes. ‘Nice’ won’t get a person paid. It’s the ability to sell some tickets.

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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Fifty Mile Radius

Saturday January 21st, 2012 - Elkhorn, WI

   I think my ‘closer to home’ theory is finally starting to pay off. Tonight I did a show at a country club in Elkhorn, WI and my round trip total was 72 miles. What a delightful night of ‘work’ it was to be able to leave my house at 7:30 for an 8:30 show, and be back by 11.

   This is exactly what I had in mind when I came up with this plan, and now that I’m able to see results it makes me want to dig in and do it more. Who needs grueling twelve hour  drives each way on a weekly basis to prove I’m in show biz? I prefer it this way, thanks.

   There were a lot more positives with this gig than being out there aimlessly wandering the earth like Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu. It was easy, low pressure and I had a chance to earn my weekly nut in less than four hours. If I could do that every week, life is sweet.

   I didn’t make great money, but it wasn’t horrible either. Considering how much actual effort I had to put out to get it, I’ll shut my mouth and say thanks. I might have been able to score more gross pay for a weekend or week long booking, but after expenses I’d be at right around what I ended up taking home. Not having the long drive was like a vacation.

   This particular place is being booked by another comedian who is kind enough to think of me whenever these kinds of random shows come up. I wouldn’t consider going behind his back to try and book things myself, even though not everyone else operates that way.

   I’m very respectful of territorial rights when it comes to situations like this, and he ends up calling me more often than not anyway so we all win. He charged a small but very fair commission for recommending me, and I gladly paid it. The show went well as I was sure it would, and the guy in charge said I’d be back. I was paid and in my car without issue.

   How many other places like this are there within a 50 mile radius of my house? I would think there are enough to keep me working at least a couple of times each month were I to want to do that. Last week I was in Wauconda, IL which is even closer. Again, the money wasn’t stellar, but it didn’t totally suck canal water either. The closeness makes up for it.

   I know I may be getting spoiled these last two weeks, but I believe I deserve it. Way too often I’ve had to drive hundreds of hard lonely miles to stand in front of far less people or far less friendly or sober people. Nobody was drunk tonight, and they were good laughers.

   There are all kinds of people within a fifty mile radius of where I am. Zanies in Chicago is just about fifty miles exactly from door to door, and downtown Milwaukee is a little bit less. Rockford is maybe a little farther, as is Madison. Still, there are a lot of people living in that circle who would love what I do and I’m bound and determined to find all of them.

   Even if I expanded it to an even 100 miles, that’s still a lot of potential. I bet if I worked only that specific territory boundary alone, I could earn a respectable living and still sleep in my own bed every night. Next week I’ve got three gigs close to home. I’m loving this.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Scoring With Boring

Friday January 20th, 2012 - Gurnee, IL

   No rest for the wicked. Up and at ’em. I signed myself up for another network meet and greet breakfast this morning, and it started at 7:30 at the Golden Corral in Gurnee, IL. I’ve never been a morning person, even when I worked in morning radio, but that’s too bad for me. It’s smart business to crawl out of the rack, scrub myself up and make some contacts.

   Today’s group was the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, and I heard about it earlier in the week from my contact Jayne Nordstrom at Visit Lake County - formerly The Lake County Convention And Visitor’s Bureau. She’s been a total pleasure to work with since I became a member, and continues to come through again and again. She’s in my corner.

   Making contacts in my own back yard can never hurt. For the price of breakfast I’d buy  anyway, I get a chance to cross paths with others who all have the entrepreneurial mindset I’m trying to develop. If nothing else, not many of these people had ever met a comedian. I could feel ears perk up when I introduced myself, and everyone was friendly and warm.

   On Wednesday, I had a couple of inquiries from people who wanted to know if I would be available for a company function. Today, I had five more. Bingo! That doesn’t mean a single one of those gigs will ever happen, but how many other comedians were dressed up or up at all at 7:30am mingling with a room full of business owners? Not many, I’d guess.

   ONE measly little gig out of all of this will pay my yearly membership dues, and that’s a solid bet in my book. I felt quality energy both times this week, and will seek out more of these events to attend in the future. All I need is to hit one valuable contact to win big.

   After breakfast I stopped at the Gurnee Mills Mall to continue my daily exercise string. I’ve been on a roll lately, and not only have I not missed any days, I’ve been walking a lot farther than I ever have. Today I put in four complete laps, and I think that’s a first. Most people have much higher goals, but to me four laps in the mall felt like Olympic victory.

   I don’t know exactly how far that is, but I would guess it’s probably at least two miles if not more per lap. That’s a big place, and there are a lot of twists and turns to put at least a little variety in my route. I’m soaked by the time I finish, and I feel comfortable enough to immerse myself in thought as I exercise. I find it simultaneously relaxing and energizing.

   What a boring slug I am, but these stupid little things really do excite me. Getting up to put in an appearance at the networking meeting really made me feel like I’d accomplished something worthy of calling it a successful day. Then, getting in four laps in the mall took it over the edge. I’m on a thrill spree. What’s next, cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer?

   I know I’m a flaming bore, but that’s who I am. Doing a pound of cocaine or skydiving doesn’t tempt me in the least. Walking in a mall and meeting strangers at a restaurant put me in a great mood. Am I nuts? I’m afraid so, but it could be worse. I could be Belushi or Kinison or someone else who’s DEAD. I‘m dull, but I‘m alive. Today was a lot of fun.

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

A Run For The Money

Thursday January 19th, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

    It’s funny how life is a constant series of trade offs. When I was the young punk getting started in comedy, I had boundless energy and the stamina of a Marine. I could drive a car from sunrise to sunset, and still be fresh and ready to do not one but two shows that night.

   I ate whatever I wanted that was cheap and/or tasted good, got by on little to no sleep on a nightly basis and didn’t give a second thought to living a gypsy lifestyle. I was always in a new place, constantly meeting new people. It was perpetual adventure, and I loved it all.

   The only bad thing was, I didn’t have an act. I stunk severely, like a meadow full of sun ripened moose manure, and I knew it. I was bad for years. Every greenhorn is. It’s why all real comedians need to work the road. It’s the only way to acquire a set of sellable skills. 

   Some of those skills are what happens on stage, but a lot more are what goes on the rest of the day. Between all the travel and constant acclimation to new situations, clubs, cities, regions, climate, customs, cuisine, protocol, politics and who knows what else, it can be a constant drain on the energy reserves. It’s easier to absorb in youth, but it does take a toll.

   Now, like a Navy Seal I can walk into virtually any comedic situation and know exactly what has to be done. I have no fear, and have become exactly what I set out to be from the start. It’s come full circle though, as now I have no desire whatsoever to travel anymore.

   If I was told tomorrow I wouldn’t be able to travel outside a 200 mile radius of home, it wouldn’t bother me a bit. I’d welcome it. I could still perform for good audiences, but not have to put all those hard miles on my car and myself. That’s the best of both worlds from my perspective now, but it might not be the smartest choice. I might have one final run.

   It wouldn’t take all that much to set me up financially for life. I’ve already survived like a bug for this long, and fortunately my standards have remained ridiculously low. If I ever do hit pay dirt, I won’t piss it away like some moron athlete or rapper that hits it big at 22.

   I’d be able to easily settle up what look like insurmountable money mountains now, but after that I’d really be free to do exactly what I’m doing now. I’d work on the same things I’m working on now, and that tells me I’m on the right track. I love what I’m doing, I just have a shortage of time and money. Time shrinks by the day, but money can be acquired.

   One hot coast to coast tour would really do it. I could deliver the shows, and they would be the same ones I’m giving now and have been for years. It took long enough to learn my craft, but I did. The price was high, but I paid it and then some. I can’t let that just vanish.

   Doing all the things I’m doing now are setting me up for that calculated run. I still have some gas in the tank, and if I had to go out and tour one last time I’d do it for money. I’d also do it for fun, which is what I did it for in the first place. Too bad fun isn’t the type of currency most landlords or creditors accept. If it was, I’d make Donald Trump look poor.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Advertising Anarchy

Wednesday January 18th, 2012 - Gurnee, IL

   I saw a business card years ago that had ‘OFIT’ written on it in big block letters. Below those letters was written “There is no profit without PR”. How true. If nobody knows of a product, how can they buy it? McDonald’s never lets up on advertising, so there’s a clue. If they keep pounding their name out there after fifty years, I need to start following suit.

   There is no question most comedians are painfully under marketed, especially with the public in general. It’s tough enough to keep one’s name out there within business circles, much less the public’s eye. It takes a calculated effort, and most of us fall painfully short.

   I surely do, or at least I thought so. I’ve spoken with several booking agents recently to find out who they thought the most well promoted comedians are, and my name came up in the top two or three. BIG red flag. If I’m at or near the top, that’s one truly pathetic list.

   Granted, I came up in the generation where comedy clubs boomed. I could make myself a living performing in venues that promoted themselves as an outlet to see comedy. I was able to ride piggyback on a club’s advertising campaign, as did a whole generation of us.

   The booking agents were the ones with all the power. The goal was to establish contact with as many as possible, so work would be plentiful. Most of us never thought about any self promotion after that. How stupid and naïve we were, and now there are very talented performers floating around in comedy limbo that nobody knows about. That frightens me.

   Now, it’s a different game entirely. It’s a social media world of Face Book, Twitter and You Tube. There is a whole new generation of wannabe comics who are great at hawking themselves in those circles, but have no act. They haven’t paid any dues, but they’re good at drawing attention to themselves. Unfortunately, that’s more important than the product.

   This is how it is, and I need to deal with it. It doesn’t matter that I’ve put in a lifetime of sacrifice to attain a master level of my craft. If nobody knows I’m there, they can’t sample my product to see if they like it or not. I don’t want to be a dinosaur like a lot of my peers, and I don’t mean any disrespect toward them. The world has changed, and we need to too.

   Not only have I let myself get out of touch with booking agents, my public presence can use a major overhaul. I have contact with several radio shows around the country, but not enough to put me over the top. I thought I was on top of the game, but I’m way behind it.

   This morning I went to a networking breakfast in Gurnee, IL to shake hands, kiss babies and forge new contacts. I have to start over with a brand new marketing campaign. I don’t even have current business cards. That’s pathetic and inexcusable, but also motivational.

   I should be cranking out monthly newsletters for a calculated list of radio and television shows, websites and fans in general. The old comedy club days are long gone, and we had no idea how easy we had it then. Now it’s everyone for themselves - advertising anarchy.

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Wealth Of Health

Tuesday January 17th, 2012 - Gurnee, IL

   I know it’s a good problem to have, but there’s just too much going on in my life to sort it all out. I’ve been pounding it pretty hard since the new year, and trying my best to make steady improvement in several areas. One of those is exercise. It’s becoming a good habit.

   Right now, I still find walking the most beneficial. My doctor suggested I start running, and I probably will at some point, but for now long walks every day are working just fine.  I’ve been a regular at my old haunt The Gurnee Mills Mall, and I could probably name all the stores in order by now from all the laps I’ve taken in there. I find it comfortable there.

   There are some twists and turns in the contour to add some variety, and it’s a nice open course that lets me lose myself in thought as I work up a sweat. I suppose I could sign up for a gym membership, and I still might, but I like the mall for now. I’m a young old fart, and many times when I show up in the morning I know I can kick anyone’s ass in there.

   Not that I would, but just knowing I could take down a flock of codgers with a few well placed karate kicks makes me feel like a bad ass just the same. I would never be a bully to anyone on purpose, but let’s just say if a fight breaks out I’ll be able to take care of myself without having to bug the cops. I’ll snag a walker or crutch and use it as a battering ram.

    Actually, most of the people I see in the mall as I take my laps are super friendly. They are older and grayer, but they’re there for the same reason I am - to get healthy. Most will wave or nod or even say ‘Good morning’ out loud. I smile and say good morning to them as well, and it really makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something whenever I do that.

   The challenge is keeping it up every day. In the summer I was able to walk outside, and I like that too. There are several options of routes to be able to keep it fresh, and I love the feeling of being outdoors and knowing I’m doing something good for myself. I’m finding myself really enjoying it, and I can feel the benefits daily. I’ve made a total life upgrade.

   I’ve been solid on my diet too. Once in a great while, I’ll have a teeny tiny treat, but it’s exactly that - a treat. I don’t pound down the horrible things I used to eat on a daily basis, and I’m appalled that I spent all those years not thinking about what I ate. What a dummy I was, and I’m ashamed and embarrassed. This is the correct way to live, and I’m hooked.

   People tell me on a daily basis how good I look, and that’s a mixed feeling. I appreciate the fact anyone has noticed, but it also makes me feel like I must have looked like a circus freak before. I know people are just trying to be nice, but sometimes it makes me cringe a little to hear someone go off on how much I’ve improved myself. But I have. I feel great.

   I still have a long way to go though. Now I’m going to be fighting the aging process for the rest of my life - however long that’s going to be. Betty White made it to 90. Good for her. Today is her birthday and I have nothing but respect for her. I hope if I live that long I’ll still be taking my laps at The Gurnee Mills Mall - chasing all the 70 year old chicks.

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

Plan 10 From Uranus

Monday January 16th, 2012 - Kenosha, WI

   I have begrudgingly resigned myself to the painful realization that I’m never going to be able to come close to enjoying all of the things in life I’d like to experience. I wish I could read more books and see more movies and catch up on all the television shows I missed.

   I’ve been working mostly nights and weekends for going on three decades, so my prime time TV watching has been sporadic at best. I know I could have made an effort to record all the big shows, but I didn’t get around to it. When would I find time to watch them all?

   People don’t believe me when I tell them I’ve never seen an entire Seinfeld episode, but it’s totally true. I couldn’t name all the characters on ‘Friends’ for a million dollars free in unmarked bills. I think there’s a Joey and a Ross, but I’m not sure. Jennifer Aniston was on the show, but I have no idea what her character’s name was. Courtney Cox’s either.

   As a comedian and alleged radio personality, I really should know things like this. It’s a huge part of pop culture, and most audiences know all those references. I happen to know sports to the point of super geekdom, but there are people who have no clue about that. In these times, it’s impossible to know everything about everything. There’s just too much.

   The trick is to know a little about everything, but that’s hard also. I don’t care about any sitcoms past about 1980. That’s when I started to discover there was a real world besides the fake one the TV networks were trying to create. I’d rather go out and live life myself.

   I don’t fault anyone who likes to watch TV. I used to like it too, and I guess I still do on a certain level. Prime time network TV doesn’t interest me at all, but I’ll still watch sports on occasion and I do find myself watching shows like ‘Pawn Stars’ and ‘Storage Wars’ if they’re on. I also find myself watching ‘American Pickers’ and ‘Lockup‘. That‘s about it.

   Then there’s movies. It takes time and effort to cram all this into anyone’s schedule, and I’ve always got my plate full with all kinds of real things, so I can’t find time to sit around wasting two hour blocks of time on movies. Once in a while however, I will treat myself.

   Tonight, Mark Gumbinger invited some friends over to watch Tim Burton’s ‘Ed Wood’ from 1994. I remember seeing it and liking it when it came out, but I found myself liking it even more the second time around. I have a lot more life experience and can empathize.

     Ed Wood might have been a hack and a kook, but he hung in there and kept slugging to make his vision become reality. Good for him. It’s easy to give up. Where he was able to luck out was having his ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ get voted as THE worst movie ever.

   I’ve always said anyone in show business has to be the ‘something-est’. It doesn’t have to be the best. It could be the fattest, the loudest, weirdest - even the worst. All that really matters is that people remember it, and that’s what he’s remembered for. Maybe the King of Uranus will be the worst idea ever. Let’s hope so. I could be ‘Plan 10 From Uranus’.

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

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thank You, Packers!

Sunday January 15th, 2012 - Kenosha, WI

   Thank you, Green Bay Packers! Thank you for that giant steaming heap of fresh manure you plopped right on top of the birthday cake that is 2012. Thanks for putting your fans in the trick bag and teasing us with one of the best regular seasons ever. That’s all over now.

   Now you greedy bastards are going to fight over even more money we’re stupid enough to keep throwing at you, and you’re going to build more seats in that stadium of yours and sucker even more of us in for years to come. You’re cruel, heartless, and I want a divorce.

     Not just from the Packers, but the whole NFL. Why do I watch the games and care even a little? Nobody cares about me, and never did. You take my money, and sell me clothing that I pay full retail for and then stupidly wear everywhere defending the honor of a team that breaks my heart completely in two like a karate school breaks boards. It’s miserable.

   The Giants weren’t the better team, YOU stunk it up when it counted. So, thank you for breaking the bond we’ve had since I was an innocent little kid wanting something to do to spend more time with my grandpa. He was hooked on you, and passed it down to me too.

   I rue the day I ever watched my first game. You were terrible then, and I remember how you made my grandpa yell and scream at his TV screen. Even as a child, I found this to be completely insane. What could possibly become of yelling at a television? Could the team hear him? Were they going to turn things around? No, but now I’m doing it decades later.

   I remember how good it made Gramps feel when you won, and I never understood then how a stupid football game could get such a stranglehold on the emotions of an adult that is supposed to have it together. He was upset when you lost, but ecstatic when you won.

   Then, over decades of not even thinking about it, I became hooked just like he was and so many millions of others. I found myself screaming at televisions when you lost, and it became obvious that there’s more to this than just a game. This is an actual addiction, and what you’re selling is a drug. By the time any of us realize it, we’re hooked. It’s insidious.

   I vowed I wasn’t going to watch the game, and for most of it I didn’t. I don’t need to be in a perpetual state of sphincter lock for three hours, as you’ve been known to put us in on a regular basis. I’m rapidly approaching old age, and my health doesn’t need more stress.

   However, as with any addiction, in the fourth quarter I was shaking like a stripper’s butt at a bachelor party and I had to turn on my television to see what was happening. By then, it was too late. You were fumbling and stumbling and I knew the glory ride was all over.

   Thanks for making it nice and embarrassing too. Every obnoxious New York wank pole will now stick it in my ass, and I’ll have to pretend it doesn’t bother me when in fact it’s a rusty knitting needle pounded straight up my urethra. Thank you for freeing up next week, and I won‘t have to waste my time on that pesky Super Bowl either. Thanks for that too!

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

Friday, January 13, 2012

Maxwell's Silver Humor

Friday January 13th, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   Ah, Friday the 13th. My personal holiday. The perfect day to be Mr. Lucky. That’s when the rest of this insanity infested planet gets to feel what it’s like to be me every single day. I can relax a little and watch everyone else panic for a change. I find it rather refreshing.

   Actually, what Friday the 13th should be is a yearly marketing opportunity to generate a bit of media heat for my Mr. Lucky persona. There’s always at least one each year but not ever more than three. 2012 happens to have the three. They’re in January, April and July.

   I could absolutely see a manufactured event at some point, where it’s a special show for some venue to promote like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. I’m just not well known  to enough people to pull that off yet, but I’ve always wanted to do it. I think it could rock. It all boils down to how well known any personality can be to as many fans as possible.

   My intention was to start up another version of my email newsletter today, but I wasn’t able to get it done. The good news is, I’m the only one who cares even a tiny bit. Nobody was expecting it, and life goes on with zero disappointment - at least not because of me.

   I’m a little disappointed myself though, but I’ll get over it. I’ve been making progress at a steady productive pace on a number of fronts lately, but a newsletter is just not ready to go just yet. I’ve been sorting and compiling names and email addresses, and I’ll be all set to go very shortly. That might mean a week, two weeks or a month - but I’ll get it done.

   I used to have a monthly blast that went out on the 13th of every month, and I like using that day as a gimmick. Bills hit at the first of the month, and paychecks might come in on the 15th. I used to get a solid response when I sent mine on the 13th, and after a while I had people expecting it. My ex business partner handled it, and allegedly we had 2800 names.

   I can’t confirm that number as I didn’t actually see the list, but I wouldn’t doubt that we were close. Then, when he pulled his little embezzlement stunt he also stole the list along with the money and ended up trying to start his own comedy classes with someone else as the teacher. He pounded that list to the point my personal friends were getting mad at me.

   He sent those people relentless reminders of his classes, but he was too stupid to realize not all of them were comedy students. A great deal of them were friends of mine from all walks of life, and had no interest in comedy whatsoever. The whole thing leaves a terribly sour taste in my mouth. I can choose to snivel on about it or I can start a brand new list.

   I’m choosing to stop whining and start listing. I will make this list better in many ways than the last one, most notably categorizing them into lists of fans, bookers, students and working comedians. I’m going to call it ‘Maxwell’s Silver Humor’ after the Beatles song
‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. I’m not a particularly rabid Beatles fan, but it fits exactly so why not use it? Nobody can sue me, as I’m not using the song - just the play on words of the title. It doesn’t matter anyway, as I didn’t get it done like I planned. But it’s coming.

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

Maxwell's Silver Humor

Friday January 13th, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   Ah, Friday the 13th. My personal holiday. The perfect day to be Mr. Lucky. That’s when the rest of this insanity infested planet gets to feel what it’s like to be me every single day. I can relax a little and watch everyone else panic for a change. I find it rather refreshing.

   Actually, what Friday the 13th should be is a yearly marketing opportunity to generate a bit of media heat for my Mr. Lucky persona. There’s always at least one each year but not ever more than three. 2012 happens to have the three. They’re in January, April and July.

   I could absolutely see a manufactured event at some point, where it’s a special show for some venue to promote like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. I’m just not well known  to enough people to pull that off yet, but I’ve always wanted to do it. I think it could rock. It all boils down to how well known any personality can be to as many fans as possible.

   My intention was to start up another version of my email newsletter today, but I wasn’t able to get it done. The good news is, I’m the only one who cares even a tiny bit. Nobody was expecting it, and life goes on with zero disappointment - at least not because of me.

   I’m a little disappointed myself though, but I’ll get over it. I’ve been making progress at a steady productive pace on a number of fronts lately, but a newsletter is just not ready to go just yet. I’ve been sorting and compiling names and email addresses, and I’ll be all set to go very shortly. That might mean a week, two weeks or a month - but I’ll get it done.

   I used to have a monthly blast that went out on the 13th of every month, and I like using that day as a gimmick. Bills hit at the first of the month, and paychecks might come in on the 15th. I used to get a solid response when I sent mine on the 13th, and after a while I had people expecting it. My ex business partner handled it, and allegedly we had 2800 names.

   I can’t confirm that number as I didn’t actually see the list, but I wouldn’t doubt that we were close. Then, when he pulled his little embezzlement stunt he also stole the list along with the money and ended up trying to start his own comedy classes with someone else as the teacher. He pounded that list to the point my personal friends were getting mad at me.

   He sent those people relentless reminders of his classes, but he was too stupid to realize not all of them were comedy students. A great deal of them were friends of mine from all walks of life, and had no interest in comedy whatsoever. The whole thing leaves a terribly sour taste in my mouth. I can choose to snivel on about it or I can start a brand new list.

   I’m choosing to stop whining and start listing. I will make this list better in many ways than the last one, most notably categorizing them into lists of fans, bookers, students and working comedians. I’m going to call it ‘Maxwell’s Silver Humor’ after the Beatles song
‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. I’m not a particularly rabid Beatles fan, but it fits exactly so why not use it? Nobody can sue me, as I’m not using the song - just the play on words of the title. It doesn’t matter anyway, as I didn’t get it done like I planned. But it’s coming.

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

Toxic Amputation

Thursday January 12th, 2012 - Fox Lake, IL

   Time to relax for a day and catch my breath a little. I’ve got a lot going on, and can only keep the pedal to the floor for so long. I’m getting a cramp in my ankle, and relaxing a bit is a welcome break. Making the video project happen was a major step, and it feels great.

   It will be at least a month or so before it’s a finished product, so now that’s on the back burner. I’ve got several other projects that can use some heating up, and it’s time to set up a logical running order that will allow me to progress the farthest. It’s like a giant puzzle.

   I love puzzles, but this is my life I’m playing with. Finding a workable order of each of these projects is like putting together a batting order for a baseball team. If I do things out of order, it could easily cause me to lose the game of life, and I’ve come too far to let that happen. I want to squeeze every last drop out of everything I enjoy, and go out exhausted.

   I intended to sit back and do absolutely nothing today, but that didn’t happen. I received a text from David Stuart from Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL asking to meet up for breakfast and discuss putting together comedy classes and shows for 2012. He tends to be as busy as I am, so I said yes. If not today, who knows when else we‘d find a free hour?

   David is very professional, and I know we can help each other. He has improv classes at his facility, and has staked out Lake County, IL as his territory much like I have. We have a solid business relationship, and have proven to each other we’re in it for the long haul.

   Teaming up on comedy shows and classes in Lake County is a win/win, as we both live here and so do a lot of potential customers who wouldn’t go to Chicago or Milwaukee for what we are offering. Taking an hour to have breakfast and compare notes was worth it.

   After that, I took care of some less than thrilling errands I’ve been putting off like doing laundry and paying bills. My car insurance is coming due as is the yearly rental fee for my post office box. Those things all need to get done, and today was the day to shrink my list of minutia. All the money I made recently is now gone, but at least some bills got paid.

  Then there’s the Uranus project. It’s easy to let that slip through the cracks, pun intended of course, but I am training myself to devote some time to that project every single day of my life so it becomes a habit. Eventually, I want that to be my biggest source of income.

   It’s all I can handle to think about all these projects much less take action, but I chose to load up my plate like this so it’s up to me to get it done. One wasted day can send me off course even more than I am now, so I’m being careful to calculate how my days plan out.

   If nothing else, I’m having an amazing amount of FUN - a not so secret ingredient that has always been missing from the lives of most of my family. I come from a long line of miserable and dysfunctional losers who have not only ruined their own lives, they ended up spilling that toxicity on their children. Fun is like a magic soap to clean up their mess.

   I’ve got no time for toxic idiots anymore. Not that I ever have, but too many times I’ve let them get to me and that’s never a smart move. I never end up bringing them to where I am, they always end up bringing me down. I’ve got to just amputate people like that from my life and go around them. The more positive my own vibe gets, the less I need idiots.

   I’m going to continue my practice of firing those people from my life. I am willing to be extremely forgiving of someone’s shortcomings, but I refuse to tolerate malicious people and especially bullies. My father was a bully, and I learned the best way to deal with him was to not deal with him at all. He died miserable, alone and nobody misses him. It’s sad.

   When I run across someone with a toxic vibe, my patience is at an all time low. I had it happen yesterday, and it took me by surprise. I was at the radio station getting ready to do my video recording when one of the sales people I’ve known for years oozed out from his cubicle and started ripping me in front of his boss. He was rude, insulting and not funny.

   Like everyone else who has never actually done anything about chasing their dream, it’s always easier to run down someone else’s. He fancies himself to be a huge fan of comedy and of course thinks he knows everything about it, so he has to foist his opinion on me of everyone who has ever stood in front of a microphone to justify the fact he’s a total loser.

   I never care what his or anyone else’s opinions are about comedy if they’ve never done it themselves. It would be like me explaining how painful child birth is. What the hell do I know about that subject? Less than nothing, so I keep my mouth shut. Comedy seems to be something a lot of clueless imbeciles want to babble on about. I don’t need to hear it.

   The guy threw one mean spirited ‘joke’ after another at me, claiming to be ‘busting my balls’. Ha ha. I only tolerated him because I had to, and I’m sure he thinks we are buddies when in fact we never were. He’s the kind of leech that only calls me when he wants free tickets to Zanies - to see someone else. I’ve let it slide before, but this was the last straw.

   He was acting like it mattered if he stayed for the recording, claiming to have to fly out of town today and it would put a cramp in his schedule. He also ‘scolded’ me for leaving him off my list of invites and not begging him to be part of the event. There was a reason.

   After about a dozen attempts at trying to make himself sound important, I got right back in his face and unloaded a verbal barrage of haymakers that would make my father’s biker pals cringe. Enough is enough, and that maggot has never done me any favors in all of the years I’ve known him. He’s a small time pinhead who’s stuck in Kenosha, WI by choice.

   There’s nothing wrong with Kenosha, and in fact it’s a nice town and I have a cherished group of people I consider friends there. What I don’t like is the small market attitude of a small minded person who only has negative and destructive things to say. I won’t accept a toxic attitude like that, and I let him know it in no uncertain terms. Now, hopefully he has gotten the message and will stay away from me and continue to piss his own life away for however long it lasts. I don’t have time for him or anyone like him. I’m in a better place.

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

Video Victory

Wednesday January 11th, 2012, - Kenosha, WI

   In the words of Hannibal Smith of The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together!” I don’t know why it took so long to get one, but I finally have a three camera professional video shoot of my comedy show, and I’m ecstatic. This has been far too long in coming.

   There are all kinds of reasons why I haven’t gotten this done up until now, but none are legitimate excuses. I’ve needed a quality video shoot for years, and the longer I’ve waited the more it has bothered me. Now I’ll have one, and it will be a positive on many levels.

   Shooting any kind of video is never an easy task. It’s gotten easier with technology, but it’s still difficult to get everything on point because so many things have to come together at one time to make a quality product. Venue, audience and logistics are key ingredients.

   In this case, we made our own venue. There’s a performance space that was created for acoustic sets by bands at the WIIL/WLIP radio building in Kenosha, WI where I host The Mothership Connection on Sunday nights, and there is seating for 40 or 50. It was perfect.

   My director friend Mark Gumbinger was the one who suggested using that space, and it was a brilliant idea. It never occurred to me, and it totally took our risk factor away. If we had used another location, we’d have had all kinds of other issues. This was ideal because all we had to be concerned about was getting people to show up to be a studio audience.

   That was tricky enough in itself, as we didn’t want too few or too many due to the space constraints. We each worked our lists to hand pick people who were either good laughers or good lookers for cut away crowd shots. Mark is a meticulous director, and knows how to shoot and edit with the best of them. It was his call to find ‘eye candy’, and it worked.

   Lou Rugani from WLIP was kind enough to host the evening, and he dressed up in his tuxedo and made it an event. He’s got the voice of God, and was the perfect choice. Also, he’s the one who asked for permission to use the building. Technically, I don’t work there even though I host a once a week show. They may have said yes, but Lou sealed the deal.

   Another friend Russ Martin showed up and let Mark use his high quality video camera, and he also did a few minutes to warm up the audience. Everything worked out exactly as planned, and I came out and did about an hour and five minutes. I laid out my material in editable chunks so Mark can cut and slice, but there weren’t that many spots to be edited.

   I kept it squeaky clean, and that won’t hurt me either. I can send it out to corporate gigs or cruise ships or even churches if necessary. This will open doors I won’t be able to open myself, and I can’t believe it took this long to finally get this done. It was a total success.

   Slowly but surely, I’m making some solid decisions. It took me a while, but now I feel a positive momentum building. This was a solid way to begin 2012, and will lead to a lot of higher quality work in the future. It was a giant career leap - even if it was long overdue.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meetings In Motion

Tuesday January 10th, 2012 - Wauconda, IL

   Time to dive into the marketing pool with both feet. I need to show major improvement in that department but quick, or resign myself to the fact I’ll be working in toilets and hell holes the rest of my life and I just can’t see myself doing that. I’m determined to evolve.

   That evolution needs to include a massive overhaul of my entire professional life. I have already been working on my personal life and physical health, and I’ve been very satisfied with those results. Now it’s time for my career. I’d like to develop one after all this time.

   The way to do that will be to associate with quality people who can help me advance to the next level. I can’t do it myself, even though I’ve tried for decades. It’s a team building process, even though I’m the one calling the shots. I’ve helped people, now I need some.

   I spent the entire day meeting belly to belly with specific people I know can help lay the foundation of something bigger. Jim McHugh set up a breakfast meeting in Wauconda, IL with his marketing friend Rick Young and Rick’s friend Phil Gayter. Phil has an amazing track record of success in the advertising world, and is reinventing himself like many are.

   Jim has been a great help, as he’s a lot more focused than I am. When I drift, as I do on a regular basis, he helps get me back on course. I need that and appreciate it, and for what I’m doing right now he’s a valued resource. Rick has experience in the business world as well, something I’ve never claimed to enjoy. I need a crash course from all these guys.

   The four of us kicked around the King of Uranus idea, and sparks flew. It’s all about the marketing, and we were on the same page the whole time. I felt a synergy with these guys, and the more I can delegate to a team, the less I will have to be overwhelmed by myself. 

   We had a productive meeting, but now follow up is crucial. It’s not easy starting up this big of an idea from total zero, and I admit I need help in establishing momentum. I want a team of people to answer to and create deadlines for myself so things can start to happen.

   Then I went to have a lunch meeting with my booking agent friend Marc Schultz to ask him how I can improve my marketing skills for the corporate world. He has a much more accurate assessment of how to get the higher paying gigs, and I value his opinion greatly.

   After that, I met up with Tim Walkoe and Bill Gorgo for a brainstorming comedy ideas exchange session. We’ve done it a couple of times before, and want to make it a regularly scheduled part of our week. If someone has an idea, we kick it around and find the funny. The rules are, anything anyone wants to keep for their act has to be claimed. No problem.

   Between all these people, I’ve got a lot to work on. If I have people to answer to it will help me focus and hold up my end of the deal. I felt like I invested my time wisely today, and had a good feeling after all three meetings. I’m all about win/win, and intend to make everyone’s time investment in me pay off as well. 2012 is the year of marketing mastery.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Naive No More

Monday January 9th, 2012 - Chicago, IL

   Boy, am I feeling my age. It seems like just a few minutes ago I was that young buck all full of hopes and dreams, ready to make my mark on the comedy business. I was cocksure and brimming with bravado, thinking I was bullet proof and the big time was my destiny.

   How naïve that was, straddling the border of stupidity. Even stupider was assuming I’d be able to retain that limitless supply of energy and remain hungry and willing to keep up that hectic pace indefinitely until I made it. Hollywood would eventually discover what a hidden gem I was, and send a Learjet for me to assume my place as top banana in town.

   I distinctly remember how several headliners I worked with seemed to be jaded and not nearly as enthusiastic as I thought they should be. They were living the life I badly wanted to make for myself, yet they didn’t seem to be enjoying it nearly as much as I would have.

   Somewhere between then and now, I have switched teams to become one of those jaded old grumpy frustrated temperamental constantly complaining whiny bastards I swore that I‘d never be. I can clearly see now how and why it happens, and I have a lot more respect for those in the generation before me. This business grinds up souls. I’m aware of it now.

   Very few if any I’ve ever seen in the comedy or any other business are actually satisfied with where they are. Everyone wants more, or thinks they’ve been cheated or looked past in some way. It’s probably true to a certain degree, but the clock and the calendar roll on.

   I talked to my friend Joey Callahan from Philadelphia today. Joey is another one of my very favorites both as a comedian and a person, and he can totally relate to everything I’m feeling. He’s sacrificed his whole life for comedy just like I did, and he’s not any closer to being rich or famous now than when he started. It’s a cruel slap in the face most of us get.

   Joey is one of the elder statesmen in the Philadelphia comedy scene just as I am in both  Chicago and Milwaukee. There’s a new generation coming up and they’re looking at guys like Joey and myself like we looked at the headliners in our day. I’m sure they’re thinking the same things we did. “Why aren’t these old guys famous? When will I get MY shot?”

   Well, most of them will get some kind of a shot at some point if they stay with it. There are all kinds of variables as to why someone does or doesn’t ‘make it’ in comedy, and that doesn’t include the fact the definition itself of what making it is is different for everyone.

   I hosted the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago tonight, and watched the newer generation cutting their teeth just like I had to and everyone else who’s ever made standup comedy their life pursuit. Watching it brought back memories and made me feel ancient.

   There wasn’t anyone on the stage or in the audience over 40. I know, I asked. I watched as comics used pop culture references I had no clue of, and it scared me. I’m obviously no ‘up and comer’ anymore, even though I’ve never arrived. Reality can pack a hard punch.

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

Monday, January 9, 2012

Artistic Appreciation

Sunday January 8th, 2012 - Baldwin, WI

   It’s not a New Year anymore, even though several people I encountered today still were nice enough to wish me a happy 2012. Week two is here already, and time continues to be a very limited commodity. The big clock keeps ticking, oblivious to anyone’s objections.

   Most of my day was spent driving back from the gig in St. Cloud, MN. I’m glad I had a sounding board in Steve Purcell to bounce several ideas around with and make productive use of all that time in the car. It’s obviously the equal distance to get home as it was to get there, but it always seems longer on the way home. Having company is a welcome treat.

   We stopped to have lunch with another comedy cohort Dwight York. He lives in a town called Deer Park, WI which I’d never heard of until he told me he moved there, and I’m a native Wisconsinite. Or is it Wisconsonian? Whatever the case, I was born near cheese.

   Dwight has always been one of my favorite people, onstage and off. I’m a big fan of his comedy, as it is sick and twisted like few others. I mean that as a compliment, and he’s up there with my all time favorite comedians. He’s got a dark sense of humor, and it can be a hard sell on certain audiences - especially when they don’t know who he is beforehand.

   I respect the hell out of him for staying the course and being true to his artistic vision no matter what. He never backs down or pulls it back, even when an audience doesn’t buy in on a particular show. That takes big time guts, and I can’t say I’d be able to hang like that.

   It’s the equivalent of doing political comedy. Not all crowds are going to like it, and if it happens to be one that doesn’t it can make for a painfully long evening for everyone. This is why I have so much respect for people like Will Durst who have decided to follow their passion and do what they’re going to do and not crank out crap and pander to the masses.

   Dwight is the same way. He knows his style isn’t for everyone, but those who happen to like it will love it - and I’m totally one of them. He cracked me up from the very first five minutes I saw him on stage, and I knew I’d found a gem. Then, when I got a chance to get to know him better I found out he was a kindred spirit and I appreciated him even more.

   It is still my dream to put a tour together with Dwight and two of my other very favorite comedians and people Don Reese and Dan Still. Their comedy is warped, but they are all wonderful people and those who would like one would like all three. It’s a perfect match.

   It would be like opening a specialty restaurant with extra spicy food. Those who would like it would love it, and others would avoid it like bacon at a bar mitzvah. I wish I knew how to find the fans who would appreciate people like Dwight, but I have no inside track.

   I have enough of a challenge paying my own bills every month. If I had power, comedy would be a lot different. But I don’t. And it isn’t. If nothing else, it felt good to be able to exchange ideas with someone who has been there and gets it. There are far too few of us.

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

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fatal Distraction

Saturday January 7th, 2012 - St. Cloud, MN

   Welcome to the unpredictable world of live entertainment. Just when I thought I had my battle plan in motion, along comes some boozed up babbling bubblehead bimbo to pee in my pool and ruin the entire evening. I went on stage with a plan, but came off with a pain.

   That’s how it goes sometimes. In a situation where the public is involved, one can never predict how any given performance will turn out. It only takes a single idiot to transform a hot show into hell itself, but it was more than that tonight. The whole audience was odd.

   Last night’s vibe was outstanding. I felt it as soon as I stepped on stage, and was able to establish my rhythm and get in a groove and stay there to the end. Tonight, I felt the polar opposite and knew I was in for rough sailing less than thirty seconds in. I saw the signals.

   For whatever reason, this was just not a good group. They might be nice people, but that has nothing to do with whether they’re a good comedy audience or not. The cards weren’t stacked in my favor, and all I could do was play out the hand and leave. No jackpots here.

   They were chatty as a group, and that was the first red flag. Pockets of discussion broke out randomly across the room at various times, and it was loud enough to not only distract me but it carried over to other tables too. I’d put out one fire, and another would flare up.

   That’s not always a sign of rudeness. Sometimes it means something I said sparked up a conversation and people say “Yes! I remember when that happened to me.” Other times it is a sign of rudeness, and I wasn’t able to tell tonight. All I know is that it was distracting.

   Red flag number two was that an inordinate amount of the audience got up to go to the bathroom at the worst possible moment. They’d walk in front of the stage and disrupt my flow at exactly the wrong time, and it threw me off course even more. How frustrating.

   What put it over the top was the biggest red flag of all - a female heckler. Not only that, it was her birthday. And she was drunk. And didn’t have a date. And wasn’t thrilled about it. And she was biracial, and chose to play that card. And nobody would throw her out, so I was stuck with her the entire set. It was like having an elephant sit on my lap at dinner.

   Dealing with all those distractions, plus a less than stellar sound system threw me out of my rhythm time and time again. I have enough experience to be able to start over or work around it, but I came here with the express purpose of working on an organized set list for my DVD recording next Wednesday. It went fine last night, but tonight it was a total loss.

   Female hecklers are the worst. If the comedian slams them too hard, audiences can turn and sympathize with her no matter how drunk and stupid she may be. This one was bound and determined to make up for her lack of attention from Daddy and wouldn’t take no for an answer. After a dozen times of trying to be polite, I was forced to bring out the artillery and vaporize her. The crowd loved it as they always do, but I never enjoy these scenarios.

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

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dress Rehearsal

Friday January 6th, 2012 - St. Cloud, MN

    Back on the road for the first time in a while, but at least I have a battle plan in place to make it more tolerable. The last few months I’ve been keeping it closer to home, maybe a 200 mile radius of Chicago. Today, it was 470 miles one way to St. Cloud, MN and that’s a significant difference. It’s a big time haul, and halfway there I questioned my decision.

   In the old days, I made trips like this with little effort. In fact, anything under 500 miles was considered ‘close’. I would show up literally anywhere in the Continental U.S. where there was a microphone, a few dozen people and a payday - not necessarily in that order. I did it for the adventure of travel, the thrill of the stage and I needed the experience then.

   I took this gig for other reasons. One, I like the booking agents and they can have a hard time getting people to drive this far on short notice. With gas prices the way they’ve been in the last few years, comedians have really suffered to the point of extinction. It’s a bitch.

   The margin of being able to make a living depends on keeping expenses low, or at least manageable. That’s always been a challenge, even when gas was half of what it is now. In these times, finding people to make long drives for low money is getting to be impossible.

   The pay scale for a gig like this is never going to change. It is what it is, and we all have the option to take it or leave it. The club has to make money or they can’t continue having comedy. The booker needs to make a buck too, and that doesn’t leave a lot for anybody.

   This particular gig has been going for years, probably at least twenty or more. It’s a nice little Friday and Saturday in a college town, and the locals have been trained to see shows at this location. It’s a place called ‘Rum Runners‘, and they have a comedy room upstairs.

   I’ve found the people here to be very polite as a whole, and they enjoy comedy. Once in a while there can be some drunken idiots, but that goes with the territory. More often than not, they come to see the show. I gambled that would be the case this week, as I wanted to nail down the set list order for my DVD recording next week. This was my practice run.

   I was able to bring my own opener, so I chose Steve Purcell from Madison, WI. We like hanging out, and he’s a low maintenance to travel partner which is key. He enjoys getting out of the house once in a while, and he has a day job so it’s like a mini vacation to him.

   We had some laughs in the car, and the weather was spectacular for January in the snow belt. It was sunny and in the mid 50s, and for two native cheese heads it was like taking a trip to Florida for Spring Break. Still, it was a marathon and I realize this isn’t my future.

   The plan was to run through my set in order, and I did exactly that. The audience was as friendly as I remember, and it allowed me to have some leeway to experiment. I’m always looking to tweak or improve any joke, and sometimes I’ll ad lib something when the vibe is right like it was tonight. I feel very good about my set, and I’ll be ready for next week.

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

Friday, January 6, 2012

Necessary Nuisances

Thursday January 5th, 2012 - Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   Sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice short term comfort for long term gain. Distraction, delay and detour are the three D’s when it comes to putting projects in motion, and I’m at constant war with all three. Today I got taken out of my groove a little, but it was worth it in the long run even though it frustrated the hell out of me today. I see the bigger picture.

   My friend Jerry Agar called recently to invite me to be a guest on a Canadian television show he was guest hosting. He wanted to have me on to comment on some news stories a lot like we did with Jerry’s Kidders on the radio at WLS. He ran it past the producers, and they said yes. I did it mainly to help Jerry, but he doesn’t need that. He threw me a bone.

   Any time I can get on national television without being arrested, even in Canada, I’ll do it and be grateful for the exposure. That’s what it’s all about right now, and Jerry thought enough of me to share the spotlight a little. Nobody in Canada knows who I am, and if I’d have tried to get on the show myself it never would have happened. Connections pay off.

   I have no idea if it will lead to anything, either for Jerry or myself. He filled in because there was a need, and he asked me to be part of the show and I said yes too. Who knows? Someone could see one or both of us and like what they see. Or, it could be a one day gig.

   The hardest part was getting into Chicago by 1pm to the Chicago Tribune Tower where I had to be to do the taping. I sat in a room with a cameraman and couldn’t see Jerry at all. I could hear the show, and I stared into a camera for five minutes and responded to Jerry’s questions. If he and I hadn’t known each other so well, it could have been a giant disaster.

   There was a brief time delay, and even though Jerry warned me about it we still missed a couple of cues and stepped on each other. It wasn’t horrible, and if we did it again I’d be a lot more ready and I doubt it would happen again. For a first time though, it wasn’t bad.

   I’m glad we got to do it, and it was actually a fun experience. Too bad I had to lose a lot of my work day getting down there and back, not to mention losing $24 in parking fees. Is it worth $24 to get on TV all across Canada? I’d have to say yes. Plus, it’s tax deductible.

   After the TV appearance I met with Mark Gumbinger and Russ Martin at WLIP to do a run through for the DVD recording next Wednesday. Russ was kind enough to loan Mark his very expensive camera so we have a three camera shoot. We mapped out the logistics of the room, and tested the sound and lighting so we’ll be ready when a crowd shows up.

   Neither of these two activities were planned far in advance, but I had to say yes to both of them because they fit into what I’m doing as a whole. They’re two more nickels to jam into the giant slot machine of life, hoping I’ll hit the jackpot mother lode someday. There are zero guarantees that will ever happen, but if I don’t keep showing up and doing things like this then I know nothing ever will. Could I have blown all this off and got more work done today? Absolutely. But, I know in my heart I chose wisely - even if it was a detour.

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