Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Benefit For P.A.W.S.

Monday June 24th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Tonight was a pretty good night, but it could have been great. I hosted a benefit comedy show at Zanies in Chicago for the group P.A.W.S., which stands for ‘Pets Are Worth Saving’. I always try to contribute to worthy causes if and when I can, and tonight seemed like the perfect chance.

   Every once in a while Bert Haas offers me a chance to run my own show at Zanies, usually on a Monday night. The shows have been billed as ‘Dobie Maxwell and Friends’, and they’ve been a lot of fun. I try to give deserving up and comers a chance to work the prestigious Zanies stage.

   I’ve been able to give some good people a chance to get an audition video at a respected venue, and that feels great. I know how hard it can be to break into a new club, so any time I can open a door for someone I try to do it. It would be nice if that would come back around, but it’s not why I do it. It’s just fun to be nice, and even more so when I can help a cause. It’s what life is about.

   Kelly Greenwood is a former student who has a day job as a teacher. She lives a few blocks from Zanies, and always asks me to be part of the Monday shows because it lets her get some quality stage time close to home and still be able to get up for school in the morning. 

   I’ve seen her work hard to improve her act over the years, and I have no problem letting her go up. She adds to the shows, and I know how important regular stage time can be. Kelly is also a big pet person, and volunteers at P.A.W.S. on a regular basis. I suggested we make it a benefit show, and she loved the idea. She went through proper channels as did I, and we made tonight happen.

   We rounded up a stellar lineup of comedians to volunteer their time which featured Tim Slagle, Brian Hicks and Michael Palascak. Kelly’s father passed away just a few weeks ago so she wanted to focus on getting the word out and thought it would be easier not to have pressure to be funny.

   I knew we’d have a solid show, but unfortunately nobody was able to predict we’d get screwed by the Chicago Blackhawks game. It kept people away in droves, but we still had attendance that wasn’t embarrassing. I’d say it was a little more than half full, and nobody who came looked at it as a flop. Kelly was disappointed, and I felt her pain. I have put on countless empty benefit shows.

   This wasn’t empty by any means, but I still understand her disappointment. I know how hard it is to get the word out for any event, and it always seems like a disappointment even when people do show up. If there is even one empty seat, it can be easy to take it personally. I’ve been there.

   As a special treat, Chrys Lavelette showed up to support the cause. Chrys is one of the comics I started with in Milwaukee way back when, but she’s been living in Chicago for years. She does a simply brilliant mime piece called ‘Appendectomy of a Fat Man’ and I asked if she’d mind doing it tonight. She agreed, so I put her on last as the cherry on the sundae. She nailed it as I expected.

   Everyone on stage did a stellar job, and those who attended were thoroughly entertained. It was by no means a bomb, but I know the hockey game hurt not only us but a lot of other places too. It was unavoidable, but that’s part of the live entertainment game. Some things can’t be predicted.

   I do hope those who chose not to attend tonight also choose to donate to the cause. They got to see the Blackhawks win the championship, so how painful could it be to throw a couple of bucks in the kitty to save a kitty – or a pup? Everyone wins, and it’s easy to do.

A great show for a great cause!

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