Against All Odds

Sunday March 29th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

   If there’s any one kind of person I respect most it’s a ‘doer’. It’s way too easy to babble on about all the things a person wants to do in life but it’s an entirely different story to get off one’s plump lazy dimpled fanny and actually DO it. Very few people actually achieve anything at all much less anything really significant and successful. It just isn’t that easy.

   Many people over the years have called me a doer but in my mind I’ve fallen laughingly short of what I could have done had I had more drive. I could sit around and make a lot of excuses and some of them might be halfway legit but the fact is a lot of it was I was a lazy bum drifting through life and never really carving out a pathway to what I really wanted.

   I see a lot of people my age who have really pulled of some admirable accomplishments and I bow to their achievements. Joey Gutierrez comes to mind. Joey is a guy my age who started comedy years before I did. I heard stories about his parents driving him to clubs to do sets before he was of legal age. Good for him. He knew what he wanted to do early on.

   I worked with Joey numerous times back in the starting out years and I always liked his act and him as a person too. I wouldn’t say we were close buddies but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get along fine with him. We never fought or anything like that. We were peers back then and everyone was learning the ropes of comedy and finding our way in the business.

   Well find a way Joey did. He moved out to Hollywood with his wife Diane who is also a comic and a writer and they have done extremely well. Joey wrote for the Seinfeld show and Drew Carey’s show and he and Diane were the creators of “Still Standing” with Jami Gertz. Any of those credits would be impressive but all of them together are outstanding.

   To be honest I have no idea if Joey would even remember me or not. I’d like to think he would at least remember my name but in truth it’s probably been close to twenty years or more since we actually crossed paths. He had a plan and worked that plan amazingly well. I did whatever it was that I did for all that time and now I’m in quite a different position.

   He’s probably looking at retirement or at least some form of future security while I’m in a very similar place to where I was twenty years ago. I still hope my car starts and I’m not anywhere near closer to financial security than I was back then. I’m still out here drifting.

   Joey made some great decisions and he’s very talented. I only met his wife Diane one or two times and very briefly but she seemed very much on the ball as well. They’ve been at it for years and years and I’m happy for their success but now I have to find my game plan and get my own. I’m in a race against time and I don’t want to die broke in a basement.

   I’ve done a few things pretty well especially coming where I came from and what I was given to work with but that’s no excuse anymore. I’ve had a lot of years to make my own life decisions and I can’t keep blaming my parents or my past. At some point I have to get my life together and take responsibility for how it turns out. That time is right about now.

   The reason I thought about all this today was because I went to Zanies in Chicago to see the sitcom premiere of “Big People Little People” starring my comedian friends Tim Clue and John DaCosse. John and Bert Haas wrote the script based on Bert’s wife Sally who is also a comic. They’ve been working on this project for years and today was the showing.

   I couldn’t and wouldn’t miss it for anything. I know and like all the parties involved and to see something I know has had this much work put into it made me proud to know all of them as friends. I respect the effort and even if it would have been horrific I would’ve still liked it because I saw the passion that went into it. These guys poured their souls into this.

   John and Tim were part of another sitcom project idea a few years ago and Bert has been a writer for years. They teamed up on this project and have been plugging away making it come together in their spare time. All of them have families and lives and to make time to work on a project like this is no small accomplishment. I had to go and support the effort.

   Jerry Agar knows Bert Haas and he was invited too so we drove together. I was the one who introduced them and it feels great to be able to say that. Everyone there was a Zanies insider or a member of the cast and it was an honor to be asked. Larry Reeb was there and Mike Preston too. Mike was the camera person and film editor and he did a fantastic job.

   The whole atmosphere was fun and exciting. It’s especially interesting to watch a show where I know the people in it personally. I thought they really nailed it and it was a funny and well structured pilot. They entered it in a big sitcom contest and hopefully they’ll win or at least get some notice. That whole process is another game that has very poor odds.

   Show business in general has very poor odds. For someone to get lucky enough to get a hit project takes a lot of things coming together. Timing and luck are part of that but it’s a matter of doing the work required also. It took a ton of hard work and sacrifice by each of the people involved in the show today to make it this far and this is only a pilot episode.

   Actually it really isn’t even that yet. This was a self made version of a pilot episode that they did to enter the contest. They hope to be able to get some funding to do it again on a real soundstage with better quality broadcast equipment and maybe a crew. Unfortunately that isn’t going to guarantee they’ll ever get on TV with it even after all that hard work.

   That’s why I respect the effort of all these people so much and I was honored to be there to see the premiere. I enjoyed it very much and I think there is some talent involved on all levels. John and Tim are smooth actors and funny guys and Bert is a strong writer as well.

   I am also even more respectful of the success of a guy like Joey Gutierrez who not only was on several huge shows as a writer but he also got to be in charge of his own show as well. He came up the ladder and paid his dues and he is one of a very few who hit it big.

   I’d love to see Bert and John and Tim hook up with Joey and take this project to the big time. It could happen. Show business is who you know and these people know each other.


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