Saturday, September 29, 2012

Good Money After Bad

Friday September 28th, 2012 – Morgantown, WV/Charlotte, NC

   Anyone self employed has to wear a variety of hats. Some fit better than others, and there are a few that don’t fit at all. As a comedian, I have things to tend to onstage and off. I am the product, so I am the writer and performer. I also have to be the sales agent to get bookings, and a publicist once I get them. I am the complaint department as well, both from bookers and actual customers.

   I also am responsible for taxes, profits, losses and all kinds of other stuff I’m not trained to do and quite frankly am not the least bit interested in doing. But they need to get done, and I have to find a way to address it. My least favorite part of being a comedian is off stage minutia, and I had a heaping helping of hell to deal with first thing in the morning and it gave me all I could handle.

   After trying every conceivable way to settle it peacefully, I found the building in Morgantown, WV where small claims court is located. This is about the last thing I want or need right now, but the amount of money in question will equal several months rent should I be able to track it down.

   Vince Skolny is the person who hired me for the engagement, and he cancelled with very short notice this past March. I hired Tom Sobel out of Louisville, KY to negotiate the deal, as he’s the agent who booked me for the comedy show where Vince saw me a few years ago and asked if he could hire me for a private engagement. I went through Tom Sobel because it’s proper etiquette.

   Tom drew up a contract, and we all agreed on a price. It was a very fair price in my opinion for what I was going to have to do, but I wanted it to be a win/win/win where we all did well. It was an event I was looking forward to doing, and I hoped it would lead to other events in the future.

   I’m very sorry the project didn’t go as planned, but I still need to be paid. We made a contract, and everyone knew that if it didn’t come off we were to receive payment for reserving the dates. Entrepreneurial projects fail all the time, but that’s how it goes. I feel bad, but I need my money.

   Tom tried to reach Vince time after time and got ignored. I’m glad he handled it professionally, as I would have probably said something I’d be sorry for later. I held my tongue and hoped we’d be able to work it out, but it doesn’t look good so Tom booked me in Morgantown so I could get the papers filed and hopefully cause Vince to have to pay up at some point. This is a huge hassle.

   An even bigger hassle is that it costs $70 to file the papers and another $25 to deliver them via sheriff to Vince. That’s $95 more dollars I don’t have, and I am infuriated I have to think about it at all. I should have been paid months ago, and life should be going on more smoothly than it is.

   It stuck in my craw all day as I drove from Morgantown to Charlotte, NC for my gig tomorrow in Columbia, SC. Those long lonely hours in a car weren’t so bad on my way up the ladder but at this point it’s like being in a rolling prison. I drove twelve solid hours before crashing in a cheap motel that smelled like disinfectant and curry chicken. Maybe that was the dish being served, but it sure stunk as I laid on a lumpy mattress with a flat pillow wondering why I chose to be a comic in the first place and stayed with it this long. Is the dent in my can that big that I still need this?

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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Road Rejuvenation

Thursday September 27th, 2012 – Morgantown, WV

   Welcome to the 21st Century. In the old days, it was enough to handle just to make it to a town to do a show. That was about the only focus a comedian needed to have. These days however, to not use the car as a mobile office where business can get done is foolish. The game has changed.

   I had a 330 mile drive from Lexington, KY to Morgantown, WV today and not only was there pleasant scenery to enjoy, there were contacts to make. I’m working hard on setting up a benefit event and comedy show for Officer Josh Albert on October 17th at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, and there isn’t much time to get everything done. I need to take advantage of every available minute.

   So far, it’s all falling in place without a glitch. The comedy part is booked, and it’s going to be a solid lineup - even though it doesn’t really matter. I mean, who’s going to bitch about a charity show being terrible? It’s about the cause. Does anyone show up at a wedding just for the food? 

   The quality of the show itself in those situations is never all that important. What needs to be of far higher priority is not only getting butts for all seats, but finding creative and effective ways to generate the most money for the cause. That’s my focus, and I want to hit a financial home run.

   I had an idea to get comedians to donate two copies of their CD or DVD - one for Josh to listen to as he recovers and the other to be used in an auction situation. I know quite a few of my comic friends have very funny products, and it would be a way to get their names out too. It’s win/win.

   I’m also hoping to get some items to have an auction. I put the word out with my contacts for a signed picture of Jay Leno and David Letterman, and I’ll contact people like Jeff Foxworthy and Drew Carey who would know who I am. I’m sure I’ll have to go through a maze, but that’s fine.

   I’m going to put on an event the way I’d want someone to put one on for me. It’s nothing more than a prime example of The Golden Rule in action, and since I said I was going to do it I want it to be a stellar event. I always have grandiose visions at the start of any project, but that’s good. It keeps standards high and gives me something to shoot for. I want this night to be a huge success.

   Tonight I did a show at West Virginia University in the ‘Mountain Lair’, and it was again a lot of fun and well received. I don’t know why it has taken so long for me to finally be able to relate to college audiences, but I’m able to do it. As frightening as it sounds, I’m more than twice most of their ages and they could be my children. Still, I’ve been able to find common humor ground.

   I really enjoyed these last two nights, and it was fun to watch the opening acts each night. They were both white males in their 20s, and both of them reminded me a lot of myself. I was that guy when I was that age, and I know exactly what they’re going through. Both are putting their show together, but more importantly they’re getting their road chops. I tried to encourage them both.

   I’m not kidding anyone though, my road days are numbered – or at least I hope they are. I need to find a way to make a buck closer to home. But for a few days, I feel like I’m a road dog again.

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

College Credit

Wednesday September 26th, 2012 – Lexington, KY

   I’m back on the road for a few days, and all the creaks and squeaks of inactivity are there. Even my blood is brittle, and it’s a strong reminder I’m not the bullet proof kid I once was who’d jump at any chance to see someplace new. I won’t be going anywhere this week I haven’t been before.

   Part of that is rather comforting, as I’ll know pretty much what to expect. Another part tells me I’m spinning my wheels and I need to implement a much better career plan. I am literally all over the place, and nothing significant is getting done. I’m surviving, but that’s about it. It’s not great.

   I took this particular run so I could file a small claim in Morgantown, WV against the guy who unceremoniously backed out of a gig we had booked for March of this year. He totally stiffed me out of a hefty chunk of change, and there’s no good reason for it. We had a contract, and I totally lived up to my part of the bargain. I’m sorry he wasn’t able to fill his event, but it isn’t my fault.

  The booking agent I went through to set this up is Tom Sobel out of Louisville, KY. I’ve never had a problem or harsh word in the probably quarter century I’ve known him, and I wish comedy was full of Tom Sobels. It’s full of something, but not him unfortunately. Tom is a professional.

   We were both if not shocked at least taken aback that this situation has festered this long and is still an issue. The guy seemed legit, but despite numerous attempts to contact him and resolve the situation like adults he continues to ignore every attempt to settle and move on. It’s been a bitch.

   Tom booked me for tonight in Lexington, KY at the University of Kentucky’s ‘Cats Den’. He’s been booking shows there for years, as well as West Virginia University in Morgantown where it all started with this ugly situation. The guy that leaked out on the deal saw me there and asked if I would be able to do the combination show and class for him. I said I would, but through Tom.

   I should have listened to my gut when he suggested we go around Tom, but that’s just not what ethical people do. I’d rather cut a booker in on something, and in a situation like that it’s the way to handle it professionally. I’m glad I did, as at least there is now proof we had a deal. Tom never acts any less than with ultimate class, and he has documented all this insanity for several months.

   It’s the last thing I want to have to deal with, but it’s too big a payday to just let it go. Tom was nice enough to give me some work so I could pay my way out, and that’s typical of how he does business. He’s great at putting himself in the comic’s shoes and treating us how he’d like to be.

   Tonight’s show was really fun. I’ve never been a college act, but this has always been a fun gig and I’ve done it several times now. Tonight we had another packed house, and they were there to enjoy the show. It was run correctly, and part of the reason is that Tom cares about all the details.

   For instance, he puts us in a nicer hotel than just the typical faceless flea bag. It’s a few dollars more, but it makes a world of difference. If nobody else appreciates Tom’s courtesy, I surely do. This should be a fun few days, so I’ll sit back and enjoy the ride. Tonight started it with a bang.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Television Treat

Tuesday September 25th, 2012 – Gary, IN

   When ‘the call’ comes, one needs to be ready to answer it on a moment’s notice. I received one yesterday morning from a television producer of a new Chicago area talk show called “Seven on Ridge” that is taped in downtown Gary, IN of all places. That’s not exactly a media hotbed these days. I realize the Jackson Five came from there, but they left in 1968. I admit I was a bit leery.

   I’d first heard of the show from a posting on a Face Book group somewhere, and to be honest I can’t remember exactly which one. It said they were accepting submissions from entertainers and wanted a video link, so I sent them my Craig Ferguson set along with an updated bio and resume.

   That process tends to be completely useless 99.999% of the time, but once in a while lightning does strike and something comes of it. Today was one of those whiles, as apparently a comedian guest they had booked got sick at the last minute and they needed a fill in. I said I’d gladly do it, but I wasn’t expecting much. No offense, but how good of quality could a show from Gary be?

   Boy, was I wrong - and I’m delighted to admit it. This is no half baked seat of the pants off the radar lunatic fringe piece meal production as I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. I pictured a ‘Wayne’s World’ scenario much like can be the case with Mike Preston’s ‘Psychobabble TV’.

   I love Mike personally and I really am a fan of that show and all the people on it, but he cranks it out on less than a shoestring budget and it is what it is. Fun is one of the things it always is and that’s what keeps everyone showing up. If he is ever going to shoot for broadcast quality – and I sure hope he does - there’s going to have to be some production upgrades. Everybody knows it.

   This show is completely different. There’s a very professional looking set and the equipment is top shelf, not something they bought at a flea market or rummage sale. They’ve also assembled a house band that absolutely sizzles. Wow, what a group of talented musicians they are and it gives the show a real boost. That alone was very impressive, but it wasn’t all. The show was great too.

   The host is a gentleman named Michael Essany, and I found him to be very friendly as soon as I walked on the set. He shook my hand and thanked me for coming in on short notice. The entire staff was great, and I felt at home immediately. They gave me a dressing room and everything.

   The head writer is a gentleman named Ian Ross Hughes, and he introduced himself and told me what the order of the show was. Then the stage director gave me an easy to follow outline of how the segment would go, and everything worked smoothly. This is a well run show top to bottom.

   The guest before me was a fantastic singer named Terisa Griffin who was on ‘The Voice’ very recently, and she blew the roof off the studio. Wow, what a big time talent she is. These guys are doing a quality show, and I hope it’s successful for a long time. Their hard work shows through.

   My set went well, and Michael interviewed me after that. It felt like a Johnny Carson scenario, and what entertainer wouldn’t enjoy that? It took a lifetime to prepare, but I was ready for this.

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Comedy Conquers Cancer

Saturday September 23rd, 2102 – Sparta, WI

   If life could get any more fun than I had today, I bet I’d have to pay a serious cover charge. It’s days like this that will hopefully put a smile on my face should I be lucky enough to survive long enough to make it into a nursing home. I’ll drool into my yogurt cup thinking about the fun I had on stage working with the people I liked the most. Today will be a day I will use as the standard.

   Bill Gorgo, Tim Walkoe and I were booked in Sparta, WI along with our friend Jim Wiggins to do a cancer benefit set up by Jim’s son Josh. It was held at a bowling alley of all places in a very well set up banquet room that had a seating capacity of 330 – and I didn’t see any of them empty.

   Josh worked extremely hard organizing the evening, and even hand built the stage we stood on. His wife Amy decorated the stage area with a huge backdrop, and everyone in town pitched in to make the event a huge success. I’ve seen nights like this totally tank it, as everyone drops the ball by not doing what they say they’ll do. Not tonight. This was one of the best run events I’ve seen.

   Everyone in the comedy world adores Jim Wiggins. You can’t help but love him, as his energy precedes him into a room like cheap perfume on an ugly stripper. Jim is a giant of a soul, and his warmth is contagious to everyone around him. Everywhere he goes, he’s a magnet for people on all levels from other comedians to wait staff in restaurants to audiences at his shows. It’s magic.

   Jim has survived cancer two times now, and has just been informed it’s back. He will be going through the ugliness of chemo yet again, but he’s got the balls of a burglar about facing it. He is an inspiration to everyone, and that’s why we all wanted to be a part of this show out of respect.

   This was an absolutely stellar lineup of comedians, and to make it even more fun Steve Purcell drove up from Madison to hang out and be a part of it. Steve has worked with all of us and is on everyone’s list of favorite people. He took my comedy class at Zanies years ago, and is a shining example of why I teach them. He’s funny and classy and having him there added to the evening.

   To really put the whole night over the top, Jim was surprised by his daughter who flew in from Colorado Springs to surprise him. Nobody knew she was coming, and it was emotional to watch Jim’s reaction when he saw her. There’s a lot of love there from his kids, and that’s something I just can’t relate to unfortunately. I never experienced anything even close to that with my father.

   The vibe in the room was red hot from the start of the show right to the end. Tim and Bill and I rocked the house, but we’ve all got decades of experience and knew what to do. Steve did a guest set and knocked that out of the park as well – but we all knew this was Jim’s night and wanted to let him enjoy his moment. He was magnificent, and he did it in front of his kids, friends and fans.

   Hanging out with fellow comedians can be one of the sweetest feelings there is, because we are all tuned in to the same wavelength. We don’t have to edit anything for the public, and the laughs in situations like that are pure and uncut. We had a night of them onstage and off, and I know we all will remember this for a long time to come. Find Jim at He’s worth it.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome To Kansas

Friday September 22nd, 2012 – St. Charles, IL

   It’s great to have friends with connections. That’s what life is all about. ‘Who you know’ really does make a difference, even though I never look to abuse it. I like people because I like them as individuals – not for what they can do for me. That’s probably not smart, but at least it’s sincere.

   One of my favorite bands of all time Kansas had a concert at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL tonight and my friend Rick Piccolo got me in to see it. He has been friends with Phil Ehart the drummer since the ‘70s, and it was no problem for him to score the tickets. That’s how it works.

   Rick is also friends with fellow comedian and former Jerry’s Kidder Ken Sevara, and he joined us as well. I had no idea Ken was coming, and it was a pleasant surprise to see him when I got to the theatre. Ken has booked me for several quality shows in the past year or so, and that has been another good connection. I got him into the Kidders, so I have been a connection for him as well.

   That’s how it’s supposed to work in my opinion, but it often doesn’t. When it does, everything just feels right and that’s how it was tonight. Rick and Ken are both laid back great guys, and the three of us turned off the bitch-o-meter and had fun. We weren’t on stage tonight, Kansas was.

   Nobody enjoys quality entertainment more than another entertainer, and we loved every minute of the show. Rick and Ken are both former drummers, so they liked it on a whole other level than I did. I have never played one note of music in my life, but I certainly understand showmanship.

   Kansas puts on a fantastic show on every level. The stage was decorated with a giant backdrop of an image of their first album cover, and they had a stellar light show too. They looked like the headliners they are. They commanded the stage, and they gave the audience what they paid for.

   What I found fascinating was how they presented each song with freshness and enthusiasm like they hadn’t played them 10,000 times before. I knew every song in their set, and it wasn’t all that different from the show I saw in the same theatre maybe two years ago. They didn’t phone it in.

   I know how easy it can be to get stuck in a comedy rut, and the same jokes night after night can really get stale in a hurry. I’ve always been one to switch things around frequently if for no other reason than it keeps me on my toes while I’m performing. I don’t think a band can be that loose.

   They were sure on their game tonight, and the crowd went nuts as well they should. They were able to let it rip in front of a theatre full of fans who were there to see them do it, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do myself. I saw that theory in action tonight, and it was fun for everyone.

   After the show, Rick got us backstage to say hello to Phil. I met him last time, and since then I heard his wife is originally from Milwaukee so I gave him a ‘Schlitz Happened!’ t-shirt that has a lot of local jokes on it that she’ll get and he won’t. He was very gracious and Ken and I didn’t want to bother him because we understand how it is after a show. We gave him and Rick time to catch up, and politely thanked him for the tickets. Life sure can be fun when it works like this.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Officer Joshua Albert Benefit Fundraiser

Thursday September 20th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I have no problems. I piss, I moan, I bellyache. I whine, I bitch, I snivel. None of it means even the slightest hint of anything legitimate, and I need to shut my mouth and get with the program in life. There are people who have it WAY worse than I ever will, and they can use a helping hand.

   My cousin Wendy sent me an email that just about ripped my heart out of my chest. Her father and my grandfather were brothers, so I guess that makes us second cousins. I saw her when I was a kid, but then we lost touch for many years. We just reconnected a couple of years ago and she’s a total sweetheart. Like me, she is trying to break the chain of darkness that is our family legacy.

   Her daughter Katie is a Milwaukee police officer, and her partner Joshua Albert was recently a victim of a drunk driver driving up the wrong way on a freeway entrance ramp causing a head on collision. According to Cousin Wendy, Officer Albert’s diaphragm exploded, he broke his pelvis in two places, both hips are broken, an ankle is broken, he shattered a foot and they’re not sure of all the damage to his neck because they can't do a scan right now. And I thought I had problems.

  This is about as horrible as horrible gets, and Cousin Wendy asked if I’d be willing to perform a benefit fundraiser on his behalf. She explained that they live in close proximity to each other and take the same route home. Usually, Officer Albert would follow Katie but on this particular night he was in the lead and happened to take the brunt of the accident. It was just a freak occurrence.

   Unfortunately, Officer Albert will have to suffer consequences for the rest of his life - which he is extremely lucky to still be in possession of. I’m sure he’ll be on the shelf for several months at the very least, and his physical therapy is going to be absolute hell on Earth. What a horrific fate.

   I’ve had my own nightmare with a drunk driver years ago and almost lost my life in a late night car wreck where I flipped a convertible completely upside down. The drunk survived with barely a scratch, and on top of all that he was driving after revocation after multiple previous offenses.

   My sternum was fractured in two places, and I broke my jaw. I had a bruised heart, bruised ribs and had to go to physical therapy to learn to walk again. That was bad enough. I can’t picture the degree of horror of what Officer Albert will have to endure on his long difficult road to recovery.

   I told Cousin Wendy I would do all I can to help, and I will do exactly that. I did contact one of the local comedy clubs, and they promptly rejected the idea. That’s about typical of what I would expect, even though I tried to explain this has nothing to do with me personally. And it doesn’t.

   This is about helping a fellow human being who can really use a hand right now. We all tend to get numbed by all the nasty things we see on the news every day, and I have to admit if I had not gotten the email from Cousin Wendy I might have not even heard about this. It’s hitting someone close to home, and I have to do my part just because it’s the right thing to do. I did manage to get Shank Hall for the date of Wednesday October 17th to do a benefit show. I’ll have more details as they become available, but I am going to do all I can to make this a reality. I have no problems.

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

Just The Way I Like It

Wednesday September 19th, 2012 – Rosemont, IL

   To a hungry man, a cold can of beans can taste like filet mignon. To someone full, the thought of even one more bite of anything is thoroughly disgusting. Situations have a way of providing a unique perspective depending on the individual circumstances. Tonight I had some filet mignon.

   I picked up a night filling in as the headliner at the new Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL. I love working for Zanies, as these kinds of randomly scattered bookings come up often, and I’m one of their main go to guys. It’s a position every comedian in Chicago would like, and I’m very grateful to be in it. Local acts like Larry Reeb, Tim Walkoe and I are known as Zanies regulars.

   Are there others who could do the job? Of course, but we’re in the mix at Zanies and that’s the way it is. I’m sure quite a few comedians in town are less than thrilled with that arrangement, but there is little alternative other than to keep showing up anywhere there’s comedy and carve out a spot of their own somewhere. Every club has their set of favorites, and nobody works them all.

   This can be a very random and illogical process to the point of becoming maddening. Bookings rarely have much to do with ability, as there are plenty of acts to go around to fill any open spots. It’s a total buyer’s market, and everyone knows it. I couldn’t be more grateful for my status with Zanies, and quite honestly I wish I had it a lot more clubs. I’m still at the mercy of most of them.

   Then it becomes a matter of networking, hanging out and also a certain percentage of plain old luck of the draw. I happened to be at the right place at the right time years ago, and Zanies chose me as one of their regulars. We’ve maintained that relationship for decades, and it’s still working out well for both sides. It’s that way at other clubs with other comics, and it works how it works.

   When I lived in Milwaukee, there were often two clubs at war with each other and I was never able to get hooked up with the one that everyone wanted to work. That’s just the way it happened to play out, and I’ve often tried to figure out why but came up blank. I’ve given up trying to put a logical meaning to anything in the entertainment business. After decades in it, I am still clueless.

   I may be clueless offstage, but when I get in front of a live audience I know exactly what to do. Tonight was no exception, and I had a fantastic time with an audience that was there to have fun. Mike Preston and Ralphie Roberts were also on the bill, and they are both competent comics and people I like personally. When everything lines up like that, there isn’t too much that bothers me.

   To make it even better, my friend Jerry Agar happened to be in town with his radio station and bought me a delicious dinner at the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL. It was short notice, but we were able to work it out and managed to hook up for a meal and then headed over to Zanies.

   Jerry and I have been friends since the Zanies in St. Charles opened in 1989. We’ve both come an amazingly long way since then, and I’m glad we’re still in contact even though we once again aren’t living in the same town anymore. He watched the show and I drove him back to the city to his hotel. On the way home, all I could think of is this was all I ever wanted to do. And I still am.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dana MacCraw Is Awesome!

Tuesday September 18th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL
   One of the most valuable lessons I ever learned from my grandfather (and there were many) is that when a person makes a mistake the correct way to move forward is quickly acknowledge it, accept full responsibility, sincerely apologize and move on. I’ve learned not everyone can do it.

   Well, I made a mistake. It’s surely not the first and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the worst one I ever made, and it wasn’t even intentional - but what mistakes ever are? Nobody wakes up on a Tuesday and out of the blue on a whim says “I feel like pulling off an extra stupid stunt today.”

   I received a phone call this morning from Dana MacCraw of Comedy Express Entertainment in Florida. Dana and her husband Doug have been in the entertainment business for twenty years or more, and we have worked together on occasion. They have always treated me extremely well.

   In fact, they happen to be some of my very favorite people in the comedy business. I have total respect for both of them, because they’re honest hard working people who are trying to earn their living in a very difficult business. They have a house full of kids to feed, and that’s no easy task.

   Doug is a successful comedy hypnotist, and Dana books comedy shows of all kinds in quite an array of venues besides just comedy clubs or one night bar venues. My dealings with them in the past have been to schedule random fill in dates in my own calendar, but they have a much bigger scope of reach than that. Their website has a more complete view at

   Dana called to point out – and correctly so – that I had mentioned her in a recent entry in which I stated that she and Doug had booked me for ‘some random shows’. She wasn’t angry, but she’d read that as maybe not being completely accurate as to what she does in business as a whole, and future potential customers of her and Doug might see that as a negative. She makes a good point.

   That was never my intention, and it isn’t now. It’s very easy to lose track of the fact that all we ever put up on the internet is ‘out there’, and nobody knows when it could ever come back to bite us in a nasty place. I have learned that the hard way, and I was very sensitive to what Dana said.

   The only reason I ever started writing a daily diary was to see if I could do it for thirty days in a row. I don’t know why that appealed to me, but I thought I’d give it a shot and begin on March 14th, which is my birthday. I’ve managed to do it every single day since 2006. It’s become habit.

   I try to make it a strong policy to not mention names if a situation is negative. Occasionally I’ll tee off on someone or something that touches a nerve, but more often than not I’ll either take aim at myself, or find something positive to say about someone I like or admire. I’ve done that often, but the ones that tend to step on toes are the ones that I’m known for. I probably should just stop.

   I guess I’m not that smart. I mainly post it for the benefit of younger comics climbing the ranks so they can see what it’s like, warts and all - and there are many warts unfortunately. Dana is not one of them, and in fact she and Doug are examples of how I wish all comedy bookers would be. 

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

No Cubs No

Monday September 17th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   I fully intended to spend the entire day getting caught up on my mountain of mundane minutia, but in the end it remains another undone Monday. But this time I’m ok with it. It was my choice, and I’d make it again – even though what I chose to blow everything off for didn’t even happen.

   I received an unexpected phone call this morning from my friend and fellow comedian ‘Uncle Lar’ Larry Reeb, asking if I would be available for a Cubs game this evening. Had it been a call from almost anyone else in the cosmos, I would have politely thanked them but said a firm no.

   This was a special occasion, and I had no choice but to say yes. Our mutual friend Bob McVia happened to be in town, and Larry and I hadn’t seen him in far too long. The three of us started a tradition probably twenty years ago now of trying to catch a live baseball game every summer.

   Most of the games have been at Wrigley Field, but on occasion we’d switch it up and catch the White Sox or even the Brewers in Milwaukee. We’re all baseball fans, but it’s never been about that exclusively. We’re all good friends that make each other laugh hard. That’s the real draw.

   Bob used to bring his son Johnny every year, who was probably 12 when we started. He’s now in his 30s, and has a family of his own. He hasn’t been to the last few games, but Bob has told us in the past how much Johnny used to really love hanging out with us and being part of the group.

   There are extremely funny people who never become full time comedians, and Bob has always been one of them. That’s no insult to anyone, but the lifestyle sacrifice it takes to pursue this as a full time career just isn’t for everybody. Quite often idiots stay in the game and talent drops out.

   Bob McVia is far from an idiot. He’s a down to earth, well read funny guy who dabbled a bit in comedy but decided to have a life and family instead. Good for him. Larry and I gave it all up for comedy, and we joked about whether it was a good decision or not. Frankly, there was no choice.

   Comedy is a calling. Those of us who have that calling can’t do anything else. We need it, and will do anything to get it. Larry and I would do comedy even if nobody paid us, and that’s where things seem to be headed. He’s been doing it even longer than me, and we both see what’s going on and it has us more than a bit concerned. It’s too late to back out now. We’re both in too deep.

   We didn’t let any of that stop us from having a great time, and we made each other erupt with laughter just like we always have. In fact, we didn’t even need a baseball game. There was a rain delay, and we sat in the stands from 7pm to 10 and they didn’t even take the tarp off of the field.

   Larry’s brother Jim came with us, and he brought his son who is Johnny McVia’s age. We had a blast just hanging out, and nobody was upset there was no baseball game. I don’t know if that’s an insult to baseball or a compliment to the quality of the company, but we enjoyed ourselves for an entire evening and nobody was angry we didn’t see even one pitch. Hanging with friends like Larry Reeb and Bob McVia make life worth living. My pile of laundry will be there tomorrow.     

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Plate Too Full

Sunday September 16th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL/Kenosha, WI

   My biggest dreams and my worst fears are both coming true at the same time. I feel several of the projects I’m working on start to finally make progress, and it’s throwing my schedule into an even bigger mess than it already is. I’m getting blasted from every direction, and I can’t keep up.

   This is a wonderful feeling in some ways, and a nightmare in others. I feel like the TV reporter who gets his first big national break covering the oncoming hurricane for CNN. He’s excited for the chance to be on network TV, but scared to death to be standing right in the hurricane’s path.

   That’s how I’m feeling, and I don’t even have time to dwell on it because there’s too much that needs to be done. I’m pedaling my tricycle on the freeway as fast as I can, and I don’t know if an exit ramp is coming up any time soon. I wish I could hook on to somebody’s bumper and coast.

   One thing that’s going well is I’ve had some inspiration of late to write some articles I’ve been meaning to crank out for a long time about standup comedy for my classes. I kept getting behind with other stuff as happens often, but for whatever reason I’ve managed to really get on a roll.

   I started a separate blog about it at and I’m very happy with the way it’s turning out. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it, but I’ve gotten some great feedback already from some new comedians who say they were referred to it by someone else.

   I’ve never claimed to know everything, but I do know about standup comedy and this is a great chance to give back a little. There’s a lot of useful information for someone starting out, and I am totally not worried about ‘giving away the store’. This is basic information, but too few know it.

   I have plenty more should anyone sign up for any upcoming classes either at or I’ve also got one scheduled at Harper College in Palatine, IL for October  and I will keep showing up at all those places for as long as they let me. I really love the teaching process, and I know I’m giving students value.

   The Mothership Connection paranormal radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI is also starting to really take off. Our facebook followers at have literally quadrupled in just a couple of months at, and we’re getting listeners from everywhere on the planet. The internet is an amazing tool, and this wouldn’t have been possible until recently.

   We had a house full of very pleasant company in the studio tonight with Jay Bachochin, Allen Dunski Jr. and Jackie Moran from Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators (WPI) talking about their new documentary about the mysterious drownings in LaCrosse, WI. is their website, and they’ve been friends of the show since we started in 2008. We had a blast.

   Chris 'CP' Peppas is another long time friend and supporter and he came down and sat in so he could write an article about the show. It's all a lot of fun, but I swear I am going to have to clone myself about six times if I'm ever going to keep up with this frantic pace.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Radio Blood

Saturday September 15th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI 

   No matter how many times it screws me over, kicks mud in my face or bites me in the ass, I’m always going to have a soft spot in my heart for radio. Not only is it intensely fun to be on the air and get paid for talking, the people who gravitate toward that career field and I get along nicely.

   I’ve worked at or been associated with more than a dozen radio stations in a variety of formats all over North America since the mid ‘80s, and I maintain contact with people from every single one of those places without exception. I might not see or hear from everyone every week, but we do cross paths on occasion and it was radio that brought us together. I cherish each one of them.

   Tonight there was a 20th anniversary reunion and get together for everyone who ever worked at 95.1 WIIL in Kenosha, WI. Other than having the most appropriate call letters in radio, (it stands for ‘Wisconsin’ and ‘Illinois’) it has been a place I have been associated with for the long haul.

   I never worked all that much for WIIL per se, but I was on the air there. I did weekend and fill in work on and off for years and also worked as the morning guy at the country station that used to be in the same building. WLIP is also there where The Mothership Connection originates, and in fact it’s in the very next room. I’ve been associated with the building in some way since 1992.

   Even through numerous ownership and staff changes as is common in radio, there has been an outstanding sense of family maintained in that place. Most of us have come and gone more than once and/or worked at more than one station or job title, but the sense of community remained.

   I was brought into the fold by John Perry, who used to do overnights on 93QFM in Milwaukee when I was on the morning show. There’s another station with a wonderful sense of community, but that’s another story for another day. I’m telling you, radio talents as a whole are sweethearts.

   John Perry has had an amazing run at WIIL, and we talked about that tonight. He’s survived in the volatile mine field that is the radio business, and that’s no small feat. We have always gotten along very well, and have helped each other out many times. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

   It was great fun to reconnect with a lot of the old faces I hadn’t seen in a while, and I marveled at not only how much I liked them personally but how much big time talent came out of there to go on to bigger and better things. It really was a launching pad for a crop of gifted individuals.

   Brian Sherman was there, and he’s a prime example. He was at Q101 in Chicago for a solid 11 year run until he was unceremoniously blown out by those fine folks at Emmis Communications, the same group of slithering serpents that showed me the door at The Loop. That’s radio. Yuck.

   Brian is very talented, and a good guy to boot. We talked about how many people who worked at WIIL advanced in the business, and there was never a sense of jealousy when someone moved on to bigger things. It was more of a feeling of hope like someone else was next. It was healthy. I was always happy for Brian, and he has nothing whatsoever to be ashamed about. He did well.

   Another big time talent and total sweetheart is Mindy Novotny. She’s been up in Milwaukee at 102.9 ‘The Hog’ for years, and I have always been a fan of hers on air and off. Like Brian and so many others who worked at that place, she fit right in and did the job. She deserves her success.

   She’s very smart, and we talked about how little security there is in that big radio meat grinder. I think that’s part of the reason the on air people tend to get along so well. We all know we could be the next one to get the ax, and we tend to cling to each other for support. Whatever the case, it was great to see Mindy. She talked about going back to school, which is never a poor decision.

   Nothing ‘stable’ is a poor decision, but all of us in radio have that side of our personality that is only satisfied by walking on the wild side. Being on the air is what makes us feel alive. It’s a fun rush, just like a comedian feels on stage - and I’m hooked on both. I need to go to double rehab.

   Brian Sherman has a family now, and he’s going to be selling cars. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of by doing that, but it’s still not radio. Even with all the insecurity and insanity, it gets in a person’s blood and stays there for life. Everyone in that room tonight had ‘radio blood’.

   Steve Perks was also there. What a funny and talented guy he is. He and I stay in touch as he’s a web developer now and is helping me get my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ website together. I’d love to do a morning show with that guy, but jobs are just not there like they used to be. It’s depressing.

  We didn’t get to visit much, but I see him quite regularly so we’ll catch up later. Tonight was a chance to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and there were many. People like Mike Sweeney and Cliff Johnson were there – again just fantastic people all around. Mike worked his way up to being a program director in Dectatur, IL, but got gassed on a whim by a total halfwit.

   Everyone in the room has these tales, and that really pisses me off. The imbeciles who do the firing in radio have never been on the air themselves and wouldn’t know talent if they bought a ten pound box of it at a rummage sale. Like the clueless bookers in comedy, radio management monkeys are cold hearted and clueless to the fact they adversely affect the livelihoods of us all.

  The thing that really burns me most is that both in comedy and radio none of the talented people are looking to harm anyone or do anything but entertain others and make the world a better place for everyone. I don’t think that’s so bad, but way too often the turds in charge just can’t see that.

   Terry Havel was there too, another person of whom I am a huge fan. He’s not only a passionate radio guy, but a mentor to many. John Perry credits him, as do many others. I’ve always enjoyed Terry’s passion for music and radio, and he’s a huge sports fan too. Even though he’s a Cubs and Bears fan, we still had a great conversation. If I owned a radio station, he would be my first hire.

   But I don’t own a radio station, and unfortunately none of us in that room did. If somebody did, we’d all have jobs and hopefully be able to scratch our creative itches. We all have them, and we all understand the feeling of needing to be on the air. It’s a passion, and I love to be around those who are passionate. It was a well spent evening reconnecting with friends I respect and admire.

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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Just One Pawn

Friday September 14th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL 

   This here show business thing sure isn’t the glamorous carefree cakewalk people might think it is. I guess it might be for somebody somewhere, but not in my contact circle. Everyone I’ve been talking to lately is taking it in the shorts, with no signs of a turnaround any time soon. It’s ugly.

   My haphazardly pieced together comedy booking schedule continues to blow up in my face by the day, and it’s a common thread throughout my peers. Today I received yet another happy note telling me a new one nighter in Lexington, KY closed after one show where only 4 people came.

   This is disturbing news on several levels, but at the end of the day it’s one more night’s pay I’ll have t to find a way to live without. What makes it even worse is that I’m booked to work a show at the University of Kentucky in Lexington the very next night. It would have been a perfect fit.

   I don’t think that’s ever happened even once in all my years of road dogging, and it would have been a nice little kiss from the cosmos. My reputation on the road – and well deserved – has been one of having the worst routing of anyone working. I wish it weren’t true, but it has been forever. I have notoriously driven hundreds of miles out of my way to pick up shows, and done it often.

   I did it for years, thinking it would get me somewhere. I showed up wherever and whenever I’d get hired, and too many times to count I got there worn out from too long of a trip. But I did what I thought I had to do, and I don’t regret it. I busted my ass, and earned my chops like few others.

   What good all those years of doing the hustle does me now, I can’t say. Nobody with power or clout who could help advance my career was ever at any of those shows, and all these years later I’m still struggling to survive by the month. Gas has doubled in that time and so has my age. I’ve spun my wheels literally and figuratively, and I don’t have a whole lot to show for it. I feel used.

   That one nighter in Lexington would have paid for the hotel room I’m going to need on a night off that week, and also a chunk of the gas to get back and forth. I was thinking of renting a car to save the wear and tear on my own. It’s got high miles and could puke at any time. Why risk it?

   Now I may have to since I lost this booking I thought I had. I’ve worked for that booker quite a few times over several years, and this is the first time anything like this has happened. It’s brutal, but I don’t blame the booker. It’s just how the times are right now. Difficult is how it is for us all.

   Of higher concern is the other news I received today that the immediate contact person I dealt with at Carnival Cruise Lines is no longer employed in that position. I always got along with her very well, and we had been in touch of late to discuss going back out again this winter. I’m very sad to hear she’s not there anymore, as I thought well of her both personally and professionally.

   I feel bad for her, but I feel bad for me too. I’m going to have to start all over again and there’s no guarantee the new person in charge will ever return an email much less book me. This is how the game works, and that’s what it is – a game. Life is a big chess match, and I’m just one pawn. 

   I don’t know why it has to be like this, but it obviously is. Something’s wrong somewhere, and it’s probably some form of trickledown effect from the top where’s it’s probably screwed up way beyond our feeble comprehension. We’re just the worker ants. The orders come from the queen. 

   But who really is ‘the queen’ anyway? Does anyone really know? No, I don’t mean Elton John and I don’t mean the President of the United States either. I don’t think that position is more than a high profile broadcast news anchor. The real source of power tells the President what to say to us worker ants, and he has no choice but to read what is put in front of him. That’s what he does.

   I know I sound like I’m in the tin foil hat wacko patrol, but I really feel there’s a deeper reason for why things are the way they are. I thought that before I started hosting a paranormally themed radio talk show and the more I dig into topics like these the more disgusted with humanity I get.

   It certainly does appear at least on the surface that humankind as a whole is absolutely rotten to the core, doesn’t it? It does to me anyway. Yes there are a number of good eggs, and I try as hard as I can on a daily basis to be one of them. But it seems like I’m in a painfully outnumbered band of gypsy renegades who are no match for the Death Star. Evil is everywhere, and it is in charge.

   I’m not claiming to be perfect, but damn. They’re really making it rough out here. At least I try to think of and respect my fellow human being whenever I can. I make an honest attempt daily to follow the rules I was told we’re all supposed to use to play this game called life, but too few do.

   I have a lot of valued friends and business peers that do, but they’re getting boned in the stinker dot as hard as or even harder than I am. What gives? Why does it keep occurring? I think it’s just plain wrong, but I have no recourse but to peck away on a keyboard and let my aggravation ooze.

   I sure wish I could do much more, but I don’t see how. I can barely keep my own life operating week to week. What would I do with power? I’d like to think I’d do a lot of good, but who could guarantee that? I’ve always heard that absolute power corrupts absolutely. If that’s true, that’s an unbelievably disillusioning thought. It’s almost like we’re hard wired inside to screw the pooch.

   So where does that come from? God? Here we go with that whole question again. Who or what is ultimately responsible for placing the human species as a whole on this planet has a deep inner flaw, and it has trickled down and pissed into the gene pool all of us share. Our DNA is polluted.

   Maybe I’m taking this way too deep, and I hope I am. Maybe we’re just in a tough slump and it will all turn around as the pendulum of yin and yang swings back and forth as it has always done. Or has it? Has it always been this way and I’m just now tuning in, or are we all sliding down that giant cosmic commode faster than we’re able to save it as it appears? Is there hope for us idiots?

   I don’t know if we’ll ever know, but I do sense a deep seeded feeling of something being really wrong and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. My grandfather was a cynic to the bone. As a kid I couldn’t see his point of view, but now I think I see it clearer than he did.                                   

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Self Employment Blues

Wednesday September 12th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Oh, the many joys and pains of self employment. The pains seem to outnumber the joys. I’m so frustrated right now I want to kick something, but I know it won’t fix anything. I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulled the football away yet again. It’s a familiar scenario, but it’s still painful.

   Here I lay, flat on my ass, staring skyward hoping to get some kind of message from whomever or whatever is out there running this mess called a universe. My little corner of it is out of whack and getting worse, and the harder I try to fix it the wackier it gets. Steady work sure would help. 

   I thought I had it too, but that house of cards came crashing down today when I got word that a gig for November 3rd I thought was solid got changed to the 10th. I can’t do the 10th, because I’m already booked with the Chicago Comedy All Stars in Iowa that weekend. I’ve had it booked for months, and I’m not about to back out now. Both dates pay well, and losing one is a total killer.

   They’re both private shows, and those are the biggest risk. Comedy clubs switch dates as well, but at least there’s that faint glimmer of hope the gig can be made up later. In a private situation, they might just decide not to go with comedy at all. They have no idea we depend on this for our livelihood and it makes a huge difference in our lives. If the boss says switch the date - too bad.

   This was a handshake deal, like most shows are. It’s not a huge paying corporate date, but it’s a nice chunk of money for a Saturday night about three hours from home. It’s less than two months out, so replacing it will be next to impossible. This really stings, but what can I do about it now?

   This is the downside of self employment, and I’m really getting sick of it. This year has been at the top of my list of all time years of getting stiffed, screwed and bamboozled out of what should have been solid bookings without sufficient notice to be able to replace them, and I’m running on financial fumes because of it. I’m down what would be an entire year’s rent, and it really stinks.

   I’m finding that making handshake deals doesn’t mean a lot anymore. It used to be that once an engagement was agreed upon, it was set in stone. Higher paying corporate type work might have a contract to sign, but way more often than not we’re out there on a wing and a prayer hoping we get paid. It used to be a lot more dependable, but not recently. This pisses on my wallet big time.

   I have vowed to make Wednesdays my consistent weekly ‘booking day’, and this was a hell of a way to get it started. I’m sure the person who booked me didn’t do it on purpose, but it sure has rocked my world. Anyone wanting to be a full time entertainer better prepare for bombs like this.

   Then people wonder why performers cop an attitude. Dates pulled at the last minute, bouncing checks, clubs closing and any number of unforeseen pitfalls is enough to drive anyone to drink, smoke, shoot, snort or whatever else will let them escape this meat grinder of insanity. It’s ugly.

   This is really getting old after a lifetime of placing my trust in people who have no reason at all to watch my back. I mean nothing to them, and it shows. I should have learned to drive a forklift.

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

A Kindred Spirit

Tuesday September 11th, 2012 – Rosemont, IL

   I had lunch with Mike Preston today, and good things usually come from that. Mike and I are a similar breed in that we both love to conceive and execute creative projects that excite us, but we both fall painfully short when it comes to the business end of things. It’s not an enviable position to be in, but at least we both admit we’re in it. We’re well aware of where we need improvement.

   Mike has been the host of a cable access show called ‘Psychobabble’ for years. I’ve been on as several characters, as have a lot of other Chicago area comedians. It’s great fun, and Mike allows us to be creatively free and basically do what we want. There have been some talented people on the show, and I totally think there’s a place for it in the TV cosmos. The only question is where.

   The show is an eclectic mix of interviews, comedy, characters and goes in many directions. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. Mike and the crew run the gamut from strippers and porn stars to an impressive list of A, B, C and lower celebrities of all genres and the result is always entertaining.

   Mike’s co-host is a comedian named Marge Tackes. Marge is a total sweetheart and extremely intelligent, but she can come across with some as being a bit coarse. She tells it like it is and that often includes colorful language. I’ve been around foul language my whole life, so nothing could ever shock me but some people tend to get offended. This is a major issue in the showbiz world.

   Mike and Marge aren’t looking to get on the PTL Network with this show. It’s an R to X rated show, and that’s what it is. They shouldn’t have to apologize for that, and they don’t. I think they should have a huge cult following by now, but like me their marketing has been severely lacking.

   That’s not an insult, and Mike didn’t take it that way as we talked about it over lunch. We both love what we’re doing, but no matter how talented or funny we may be the Chinese buffet we ate at demanded to be paid. Life works like that, and we know it. We have to find a way to get paid.

   Mike has been putting the show together on a shoestring budget for years. That’s not easy with a TV show, but for what he’s got to work with he’s worked miracles. He’s not only a very skilled cameraman and editor, he really is an outstanding host. I’ve seen him interview celebrities on all levels and he does his homework and always nails it. The guy really has a gift in several areas.

   Too bad one of those isn’t marketing and finance. He keeps telling me how much he likes what I’m doing, and I feel the same way about him. Whenever we work together, we always have a lot of fun but we always get good work done too. It’s like George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. When they worked together it was a perfect fit, but they also both had their own separate things as well.

   I love working with Mike, and I wish I had a reason to do it more. It’s fun now, but if there was pay involved it would be off the charts. I don’t know how that will happen though, and that’s the question that stumps Mike too. We could both use offstage management, but where does anyone find that – especially in Chicago? I have no idea, and I’ve been so busy trying to juggle my own projects I don’t have time to look. I guess it’s a quality problem to have, but it’s still a problem.

   Mike’s website is and there are a lot of really funny clips on it with everyone from Mike Ditka to Seka to people nobody has ever heard of and never will again. He’s the ring leader, and the cast of characters he’s put together has turned out to be one hell of a mix.

   I’d love to see the show get some exposure on Comedy Central or maybe even overseas for the British or Australian markets. The problem is, how does one get that kind of connection started? If I knew that, I’d be doing it myself. I’ve got a few projects of my own that could use some help getting seen. The good news is there’s a lot of product there. The bad news is, it’s not marketed.

   There are always hoops to jump through and pride to swallow, and that’s where Mike and I are at our worst. We’re the artistic type who creates what we create without concern for how it might need to fit a certain format or adhere to a parameter and that’s just not a smart way to do things.

   Well, I for one want to get smart in a hurry. I’m willing to make adjustments in my Mothership Connection paranormal radio show, and I’ve been doing exactly that in the last few weeks. I can feel major improvement, and there’s more to come. I’m going to get a website redo and make up a sales package and attempt to get it on a real network of some sort where I can turn a real profit.

   I think Mike needs to do the same thing, but I don’t think he’s up for doing it himself. I for one would LOVE to work behind the scenes for the show, but he needs someone way bigger than me with a lot more contacts than I have. I don’t have the time for my own stuff much less take on the mammoth project of marketing Psychobabble, but I sure think someone could do it and do well.

   At lunch Mike mentioned a movie club hosted by WGN radio’s Nick Digilio at a theatre out in Rosemont in an entertainment complex right across from the new Zanies there. The showing was ‘Capricorn One’, a movie I saw when it came out in the ‘70s and had wanted to see again since I started hosting the Mothership Connection. The theme of a faked Mars landing is up my alley.

   Mike and I were joined by Cyndi Nelson who is the manager of the Zanies in Rosemont. She’d seen the movie in the theatre like I did and like me wondered how it would hold up after all these years. It was odd that we all came together on short notice, but it worked perfectly so we did it.

   I met Nick a while back at Zanies in Chicago, and he’s a very eclectic guy himself. He’s on the air on weekends, but also is a film critic and does a lot of other things. He dabbles in comedy and that’s how we met. He also has directed plays and acts, and there could be more for all I know.

   I like people who have a lot of interests, but it sure can be a bitch keeping up with them all. It’s hard enough keeping one knife sharpened, much less a whole drawer full. Sometimes it’s just not possible to pick only one thing to pursue and stick with it exclusively. There are many options.

   The movie was a lot different than I remembered it, and pretty farfetched and corny. That made it fun to watch, and it really was enjoyable. There were all kinds of stars from the ‘70s, and all of us are from that generation so we got all the references and knew who the stars were. It was a fun diversion, but now it’s back to work. Maybe Mike and I could write a ‘Capricorn Two’ script.

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

Rising Star Return

Monday September 10th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   After a few months of being away, I hosted the ‘Rising Star Showcase’ at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago this evening. There are routinely two each month, usually the first two Mondays. I’ve not done them in a while because it’s an issue getting back and forth since I moved to the sticks.

   From where I live now, it’s about 50 miles one way from my driveway to Zanies. When I lived in Chicago it was less than 5 miles, and that’s a significant difference. I used to be able to hop on a city bus a block from home, and it dropped me off two blocks from Zanies – a bargain for $2.

   Driving presents a whole other issue. In any big city it’s a pesky hassle at best, but the Chicago streets are Thunder Dome. Between potholes, maniac cab drivers and red light cameras that snap pictures of license plates in intersections, it’s a constant sensory overload to maneuver anywhere.

   Finding legal and affordable parking spots is another nightmare. Bloodthirsty ticket writers are out en masse, always looking for their next victim. They prowl the street just waiting for a meter to expire, and no matter how much anyone complains they’ll finish the ticket anyway. Bastards.

   There’s a valet parking option, but that gets expensive too. There’s a parking lot just two doors from Zanies that costs $12. When I first started out it was $6, and stayed that way for years. Then it kept going up and up and now it’s double the cost in just a few years. It reminds me of postage rates, and that’s maddening too. Prices are doubling everywhere, but what I get paid is the same.

   Still, I love to work so I showed up anyway. There was a hole in the schedule tonight so I filled it. It never hurts to get on the Zanies stage, as every comedian in Chicago would love to be doing exactly what I’m doing. I don’t take it for granted, nor do I disrespect any of the acts performing.

   All of the acts on the show are there to be seen by Bert Haas, who is the booker. He’s very rare in the fact that he actually watches the performers and gives them a belly to belly critique. That’s not at all how most other bookers do it, and I respect Bert greatly for putting in the effort. He has been giving up free Mondays for years to do this, and I can’t think of many others who’d do that.

   I’ve had to do auditions for years, and know what it feels like to get treated poorly. I’ve had to drive hundreds of miles, and then show up and go onstage without a shower or chance to prepare or relax before the show. I’ve had bookers fail to show up, or be in the other room when I was on and miss my set. That’s unbelievably frustrating, especially after driving several hundred miles.

   It’s all part of the process, and anyone who has lasted as long as I have has similar stories and a lot of them. It can be such an icy cold business, and I see no real reason for it other than the ones doing it know they can get away with it. Bert making a point to watch the acts is quite refreshing.

   I feel I owe it to the acts to give them a stellar introduction, and I do my best to do exactly that. I know what it’s like to have my name mispronounced, or be announced as being from anywhere but where I’m really from. It was a solid show tonight, and I enjoyed getting back in the groove.

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