Archive for July, 2009

Missouri Loves Company

July 12, 2009

Friday July 10th, 2009 – Hannibal, MO

I think I’m about seventy years too late. Had I headlined the Star Theatre in downtown Hannibal, MO on this date in 1939 I probably would have been bathing in success. It’s a beautiful place and back in the heyday of theatres it was evidently a very hopping joint.

There wasn’t much hop left tonight. I was just thankful to be paid. We had a turnout of maybe 40 people in a room that could comfortably seat 400. Not good for the bottom line and even worse for the ego. Tonight really raised some major red flags about my future.

Summers have always been a slower time for comedy, at least in the rust belt. People in the north have had to suffer through a long brutal winter and when it gets warm they want to be out barbecuing red meat and watching baseball games and camping. I totally get that because I grew up in the north. I want to be outside in the summer too, not in a night club.

Still, the clubs don’t shut down completely and in the old days we used to get what was called ‘summer money’. That meant the pay was lower because the expected crowds were going to be lower and it was just part of life. Comics always used to complain and I could never understand that as I was coming up the ranks. I understood that it was a slow time.

I’m not saying I liked it, but I did understand. Many comics used to joke about having a ‘summer act’ with less jokes in it and that’s funny but we all were familiar with that term. I trace it back to John Yoder who owns the Funny Business Agency in Grand Rapids, MI.

He was famous for getting that concept into the comedy mainstream even though I have had other bookers use it too. It was probably a good sales gimmick to whip out back then to get clubs to keep running shows in the summer when many would have liked to close.

It is what it is and of course everyone would like to be paid top dollar but summer had a good side too. Since there were less people in the clubs and less pay it was a great way for acts to move up the comedy ladder. I know that’s what I did. Getting a booker to bump up a comic to the next position is slightly less difficult than establishing lasting world peace.

I was able to advance from opener to feature and feature to headliner by working weeks at clubs in the summer and I’m very thankful for that opportunity. We all have to get that break somewhere and mine came in the heat of Michigan summers. Thanks John Yoder.

Tonight was sparse. Hannibal, MO is a nice little town of about 17,000 maybe 20 miles  from Quincy, IL which has about 40,000 people. I’ve worked in Quincy several times and it was good. There was a club that did packed shows on the first Friday of every month.

I didn’t know Hannibal was so close. Comedy has been at the Star for six months and it worked well until summer hit. I hate to see anyone lose money, but especially me. It isn’t my fault they chose to keep going but I took the gig so part of it is on me. I just wanted to work and even though the pay was low I could use the money too. I’m trying to survive.

The couple who bought the theatre really did a great job of renovating it. I talked to the husband and he said it was about a five year project. They do weddings and parties and it seemed to be paying off for them but I still felt bad about the small turnout for tonight.

They ripped the theatre seats out and put in nightclub style tables and chairs instead. It’s fine that they did that but the first row of tables was way far from the stage so it was very hard to establish any intimacy with the audience even though there were so few of them.

I’ve been in every situation imaginable and I usually know how to compensate but it’s a tough sell to bond with an audience when the first row of tables is 40 feet away. It makes a hard job harder but I know they didn’t do it on purpose. They just weren’t experienced.

Thankfully I was able to bring my own opener. I chose Jim Flannigan from Chicago for several reasons, one of which was his dependable car. The main one was that I really like this kid and think he has a very bright future. He’s sharp and funny and his desire level is right up there where mine was when I was in my 20s. His enthusiasm kept me upbeat.

Jim is 28 and really starting to come into his own as a comedian. I was there once and I know right where he is in his development. He’s been working good gigs like with me up at the Skyline Comedy Café in Appleton, WI but he also has a day job and that takes up a lot of his time so he can’t work every week. I understand and that’s part of the game too.

The tiny audience in a big venue is something I’ve seen all too much but Jim hasn’t and I could see by the look in his eye he wasn’t thrilled about it. Nobody is but that’s how life works if you’re in show BUSINESS. Sometimes business isn‘t good and that‘s how it is.

That doesn’t mean the show can’t still be good. I’ve learned to work a small audience in a big venue or any venue just because I’ve had to. Those people came out and it isn’t their fault the place is 90% empty. They deserve a show and I always try to give them my best.

Jim went up and did his show but I could see his heart wasn’t in it. He did fine for these circumstances and he’s a funny guy but he wasn’t thrilled with it after he came off stage. I shook his hand and told him I was proud of him because I really was. It’s not easy to have to stand 40 feet away from 35 people for 30 minutes and entertain them all by yourself.

Not many people would even be willing to try it much less pull it off but he did as good as one could in that situation and I told him that. I went up and had to do 60 minutes so it would be a 90 minute show so we’d get paid. That didn’t make it easier but I still pulled it off. That’s part of being a pro and it’s taken a lifetime of gigs like this to be able to do it.

I was drenched with sweat as I walked off stage and knew I had given my absolute all in this situation. What I have to do now is find a way to make better situations. This isn’t the place I want to be at this stage of my life and career. I could just as easily give my all to a packed theatre or a TV audience. My show is there but my business isn’t. It’s a story that needs to change if there is to be a happy ending and I need to start writing it immediately.

Wiping My Assets

July 10, 2009

Thursday July 9th, 2009 – Waukegan, IL

My big personal purge officially started today. Step one was meeting up with Jerry Agar at the Waukegan Auto Auction and signing over the Toyota Camry he’s been storing for a while. It still runs very well and Jerry even stopped to run it through the car wash to make it shine like a new nickel. And it does. I have no doubt someone will buy it this Saturday.

I stuck some money in that car and it served me pretty well but there were little things it needed that I didn’t want to spend money on like fixing the radio antenna and also the CD player which Jerry’s son Tanner jammed. It also needed some front end work and at some point it would have started to cost serious money so I chose to send it down the road now.

Cars truly do have personalities just like houses. Or pets. All are unique and I have had good ones and bad ones. This one wasn’t really either one but I didn’t love it like the one I wrecked in Milwaukee in December. That one was a real peach and I wish I still had it.

But I don’t. So I bought the next one and stuck more than I wanted to in it and even if it did last me for thousands of trouble free miles I’ll part ways with it and start over. I’ll put the feelers out for another one and hopefully I can score one I want to keep a little longer.

Wheeling and dealing cars is not the fun it used to be. I’m only doing it now because of financial restraints. My credit is in the toilet and I have to fly under the radar until my big lotto check gets here. I think I’m going to sue Ed McMahon’s estate for the ten million he said he said was going to be mine. I’ve got all his letters as proof, now I need a lawyer.

On the way back to Jerry’s house we stopped at a car repair place he goes to so the guy could look over the other Camry to see exactly what was wrong with it. The radiator leak worried me a little and I was right. He said it would need not only that eventually but also a rear oil seal at some point and those aren’t cheap. I’m going to peddle that one as well.

It looks really clean and still starts with a flick of a key and has brand new tires but it’s also got some nickel and dime stuff I don’t want to deal with. Hopefully I can unload both cars and pay off my credit card and start over with something cheaper that stays that way.

If I have any significant road gigs I’ll rent a car or ride with the other act like I am going to do tomorrow with Jim Flannigan. He’s driving us to Hannibal, MO. I’ll pay for the gas and we’ll be sure and get there and back without a hassle. The peace of mind is worth it.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get much comedy work done today but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t rolling around in my head. I know this is all going to be very good in the long haul so I wasn’t upset at all. I have an idea of what I want for the big picture and I’m doing it.

Worldly possessions don’t really mean much anyway. Michael Jackson’s estate now has the daunting task of unloading all of his baubles and trinkets and I bet that’s going to be a world class pain in the ass. When I croak I want all of my possessions to fit in a car trunk.

An Urge To Purge

July 9, 2009

Wednesday July 8th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

I’m in a purging mood. Again. It’s time to rid myself of anything and everything I don’t absolutely need for survival or haven‘t used or worn in the last year. The last time I did it was a couple of years ago and it felt absolutely fantastic. Then I let myself load up again.

It feels like there’s way too much clutter in my life right now. I’m bursting at the seams with books I’ll never read and DVDs I’ll never watch and clothes I’ll never wear. Most of it was acquired cheaply enough but after a couple of years it adds up both financially and in the space it takes up. Looking back on it I wish I’d never bought even half of this stuff.

A perfect example is a big load of CD audio programs I bought probably a year ago. If I would have even listened to ONE of them I wouldn’t complain but I haven’t had the time like I thought I would. Might I in the future? Sure, and Michael Jackson may return too.

Last time I put everything in boxes and took it to a book store that buys used books and music. They pay pennies on the dollar but I had so much stuff I was able to squeeze out a couple hundred bucks for my effort. I remember feeling ripped off in one way but relief in another because it was like emptying the garbage from my soul. This time I’ll be smarter.

My friend Shelley has continually offered to help me with an Ebay store. I’ll at least try it out and see how it works. I’ve got a lot of things that I think other people might be able to use and pay me more than I’d get from the used book store but still get a nice bargain.

I have a ton of sports cards I probably didn’t need to buy but I did and those will get me some revenue if I get them listed. I bought many of them on Ebay but I also bought out an ex dealer in Milwaukee who wanted to get out of the business so I’ve got some inventory.

This will require keeping records and sorting and packaging but it will teach me a lot of things I need to know about business and it will also help me make smarter decisions next time I have extra money. The only thing that looks good in piles in my room is hard cash.

I think I’m going to start my purge by unloading my current vehicles. I have two Toyota Camrys that run and look halfway decent but aren’t exactly what I want. They both need a couple hundred bucks worth of detail type work like fixing the radio antenna on each one and front end work, etc. I’d prefer to run them through the auction and start all over again.

Jerry Agar stored one of them and used it for a few months but now his aunt in Canada gave him an old Buick Skylark for free so he doesn’t need mine anymore. I suppose if I’d fix the front end I could drive it another year or so but my gut says to start over so I will.

Drew Olson was letting me use his Ford Explorer which is sitting at the auction unsold. The price he asked for it was never met so I’ll have to pay a $100 fee but it’s in my name so I can start driving it again immediately. It needs tires and sucks gas but it’s a runner to get me around until I figure out what to do next. This feels like the time to do it all again.

The King Of Dents

July 8, 2009

Tuesday July 7th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

It’s a good thing I don’t own a handgun or I would have pulled an Elvis and blasted out my TV screen during coverage of the Michael Jackson funeral today. Enough already. He was a fantastic entertainer. Got it. I was a fan. My heart goes out to his kids and almost all of his family except his snake bastard father Joe. I can’t believe they let him in the joint.

By all accounts Joe Jackson was a first class horse’s ass. He was selfish and abusive to all his children and embarrassed and humiliated his wife by cheating on her and fathering children with other women. Michael talked about having nightmares about the bastard for years and I’m sure if the other kids were interviewed there wouldn’t be many happy tales.

I would bet everything I have that no matter how many Grammy awards Michael might have won it still didn’t make any of those horrific memories go away. Dented cans share a bond of having to overcome childhood pain for as long as we live. Michael was one of us. His fame and fortune may have been a distraction but the deep rooted pain was still there.

I said it before and I say it today. I AM GLAD MICHAEL JACKSON IS DEAD. He’s a dented can and a tortured soul and he gave of himself with good intentions until there was nothing left to give. His music will be around forever but now I hope his soul gets to have a little nourishment and he gets to finally have peace. The circus for him is finally over.

For everyone else it’s just starting. I for one am up to my clown hat with all of it. I don’t even want to turn on my TV or radio because something else will make me want to go get that gun and start shooting through the screen or the speakers. Between Al Sharpton and a host of other maggots clamoring for air time I can’t stop my gag reflex from going off.

I do feel bad for the kids and by all accounts Michael never did to his kids what his own father did to him. As far as the child molestation charges go, that’s a whole other issue. If he did do it then I’m glad he’s dead for different reasons but I am not qualified to judge.

Watching what I could stand of all the insanity today I couldn’t help but notice how out of control and unfair life really is. Even in death Michael Jackson can pack thousands into an arena while I’m sure Karl Malden, Fred Travelina and Farrah Fawcett’s funerals didn’t even show up on page 12 of the Kalamazoo Nose Blower Thrifty Nickel Shopper Times.

That’s how life is on this freakish little planet. We each get our own individual puzzles to solve and it seems like they were randomly passed out with no rhyme or reason for any of it. I sure don’t have any more answers now than I did when I started. I’m not getting it. It’s not Michael Jackson at whom I’m disgusted, it’s mass media and the idiot masses.

It still sticks in my craw about his father though. That guy seems to be continuing a long and insidious reign of terror unchallenged. I wonder if Michael ever got his chance to say  whatever he wanted to say to his father? I got mine but it was very disappointing. Then he died and it was over. Now Michael is dead before his father but I wonder if it’s ever over?

Jerry Agar called me in the middle of the TV coverage and I’m thrilled he did. He asked me to get together for lunch and go over some ideas for a website for Jerry’s Kidders so it can start bringing in some income. He’s got a family to feed and I could use a few buckos myself.  Necessity is the mother of invention and life for both of us right now is a mother.

We’re in a completely different situation than Michael Jackson but who isn’t? That’s not anything most of us could ever relate to unless we lived it ourselves. I for one am glad for not having to. I have enough problems trying to find some kind of clue to my own puzzle.

What really is in short supply right now is money. Jerry has mouths to feed and is in the horrible position of having to give up on his dream after he achieved it and was a success. I still can’t believe he got fired from not only WABC in New York but also WLS here in Chicago. He was doing the job and especially in Chicago he was starting to hit his stride.

It wasn’t his fault he lost his gig(s) but he did due to circumstances beyond his control. I can totally relate to that because I had the same thing happen to me. I can bitch about it in a blog until I wear the prints off my fingers and so can Jerry but the situation is the same.

That’s what we talked about over chili dogs. There’s no time for anger or vengeance or anything else but DOING something to make a living. Being on WGN is nice but unless a steady stream of income comes from it we’ll both be homeless soon. ‘Nice’ doesn’t pay.

Ken Sevara and Tim Slagle are in a similar situation. As comedians we need to look for work every week and places are either closing their doors or paying MUCH less then they used to either because they’re doing less shows on less days or revenue just isn’t there.

The supply of comedians keeps growing as well, even though many are of poor quality. That doesn’t matter though, they’ll undercut on price and make everyone’s life miserable because they go into a situation and stink up the joint and burn that venue out on comedy. I’ve seen it happen time and time again, especially on the better paying private shows.

The entire comedy business has changed since I got in it as has my position in it. When I started I was able to make a living way before I should have. I learned on the job and did not have a clue of anything other than I knew I really loved being on stage. Had I been the comedian I am now in 1989 rather than 2009 I would be a flat out millionaire for sure.

Headliners were paid really well and flown in and treated like rock stars back then. All I wanted was to achieve headliner status and I thought my troubles would be over. Ha! Was I stupid to ever think that but that’s what I thought. I finally achieved it and not only is my life not trouble free, the pay is actually shrinking rather than going up. I had poor timing.

These are just facts. What business isn’t on the decline right now? Tattoos maybe but if I have to work at a tattoo parlor to make a living that’s when I’ll suck a nice big bullet for sure. The gravy train seems to be over but that doesn’t mean opportunity isn’t still there if I look hard enough. Jerry and I started to do that today. I doubt if we’re in Michael’s will.

Aiming For Uranus

July 8, 2009

Monday July 6th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

It’s taking a lot longer than I imagined but I’m finally starting to move ahead on the task of getting a website put together for Uranus Factory Outlet. I’ve been very careful to keep from giving up any percentage of the business so far because I’m not sure where it all will go. Eventually I may have to give up a big chunk or even all of it but for now it’s all me.

That’s why it’s taken so long to get to this point. I’ve been trying to juggle all my other projects and that just takes up time. This is the first time I’ve had to do this and I’m going at it the fastest I can with my limited resources. I want to take it as far as I can before I put it in the hands of anyone else who doesn’t share my vision. This was my baby and still is.

The guy I met with was recommended to me by my friend Max down in Springfield, IL. He does the site for Max’s New Salem Deli and Max thought he might be up for trying to help me get started. I talked to the guy on the phone and today we met up in person to see if we might be able to work together. Anyone recommended by Max has a big head start.

The guy’s name is Mark and he has some very nice sites on his resume. I took a look at a few of the things he’s done and it may be someone I can work with but I want to have a chance to talk to a few others before I make a final decision. This is my life savings here. I want to find the best match of someone I think I can work with and will help me grow.

No offense to anyone but I want someone who is going to meet my needs and also a guy (or woman) I can build a business relationship with over a lifetime. My mail order guru in California Melvin Powers told me he’s had the same printer for 40 years. I think that’s the smart way to handle things and I totally want to do the same. I want to exchange loyalties.

I also want someone who can give me what I want and need and someone who isn’t too big or too small right now. I want to find someone like minded who wants to develop into a big entity that can provide income for the infamous golden years, IF indeed we make it.

My friend Shelley is currently handling my personal site at http://www.dobiemaxwell.com. It looks great and meets my needs and she’s very easy to work with but she’s got a family to look after and she lost her job unceremoniously and money is an issue. I can’t pay her top dollar right now and that’s just how it is. We both have to survive and that’s a fact of life.

Mark and I had a nice lunch at a Greek restaurant in Naperville. That’s a long drive and I barely made it into Chicago for comedy class at 6pm with Bill Gorgo. We had enough to do a class but I’m not sure who will stay for the whole session. Summer classes are a hard thing to plan with everyone’s vacations etc. but so far it looks like we‘ll be able to get by.

After class I hosted the rising star showcase show. There was an odd mix of people both in the audience and on stage too but neither were bad. The audience was a bit young and I could see that right away so I made adjustments accordingly. That’s part of having a lot of experience to draw from. I knew exactly what to do and did it. Small steps lead to bigger.

Mothership Motherlode

July 6, 2009

Sunday July 5th, 2009 – Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

The hectic schedule of weekend fun continues. Tonight it was back up to Kenosha for a ride on the Mothership Connection on AM1050 WLIP. Tonight was our first time doing a three hour show instead of two and I was concerned that we’d be able to fill up the time.

This was a big step for us. It’s kind of like a comedian advancing from the opener to the feature slot or from feature to headliner. I’ve done both and there’s always a bit of tension only because it hasn’t been actually proven. It’s growth. Everybody has to go through it.

Filling three hours of talk on the radio is difficult just as filling even five minutes can be on a comedy stage. That doesn’t even count the entertainment value. I just mean filling up the actual time with some kind of content that doesn’t make an audience do a double take.

We pulled it off even though I wasn’t thrilled about it, mostly because of a lack of being prepared. In a perfect world we’d have had a much tighter schedule with a whole lot more production value but the audience has no idea about any of that. They‘re very supportive.

That’s a big advantage of being on a station like this. If I was on WGN with a show like this I’d have to be a lot more structured and preplanned. That might not be a bad thing but there is something nice about having the freedom to do whatever I want. Power is a drug.

So is aspirin and I don’t abuse that so I don’t want to abuse my freedom either. This is a great learning opportunity of how to be a talk show host and it’s also a lot of fun because I love the subject matter we get to talk about. I wouldn’t do a political program because it doesn’t interest me. Talking about UFO and Bigfoot sightings and all that totally does.

I also really enjoy working with my co-hosts. Dr. Destruction is a great guy and loves to be part of the whole scene as does Diane Ebert. She already worked in radio so she gets it but she’s a fan of this stuff too and adds to the mix. Gary Pansch is a comedian friend and can only be on once in a while but he totally is part of the crew when he’s in the studio.

Our former co-hostess Lara Shaffer rejoined us tonight after taking a couple months off to go to Korea of all places. She had no radio experience at all but she joined us and fit in right from the start. It’s been really fun because when someone has had to leave the show someone else has come along and stepped right in immediately without missing a beat.

Having Lara and Diane in the mix at the same time was really good. I was concerned it may clash but I don’t think it will. I will encourage both of them to participate and not be shy about speaking up. I like having a woman on the show and two is better. It’s like The Allman Brothers having two drummers. It’s a nice little bonus even if it’s not necessary.

Like with Jerry’s Kidders I’d love to get a syndication deal with this show but for now I just enjoy doing it. We all get along great just as the Kidders do and I’m proud to say I am the one who pieced both of these teams together. Now I need to find a way to turn a buck.

Fireworking Together

July 5, 2009

Saturday July 4th, 2009 – Dyer, IN

Absolutely anything would have been more enjoyable on this 4th of July than last year’s and I do mean ANYTHING. All I can remember is being laid up with excruciating dental misery and not being able to eat, sleep or even think straight the entire day. It was torture.

Today was the exact opposite. We had a super fun Jerry’s Kidders segment on WGN at 11am and I can tell we’re catching on, at least at the station. There’s an engineer who was in studio for our first day and I could see he wasn’t totally sold on us initially. His name is Ben but he’s on the ball and caught on to us quickly. We made him laugh that first day.

Ever since he’s been a fan and we see him laugh out loud as we do our round table style bit with jokes flying around the studio. He gets the subtlest of stuff and he’s been our best audience so far. Jerry is now running his own controls so Ben doesn’t work our shift as he used to but he came in today just to say hello and I could tell he likes us. We appreciate it.

There’s a producer named Matt who is getting to be part of the team as well. He sits in a producer’s booth next to our studio on Michigan Avenue and I can also see him laugh the whole time we’re on. He’s also a sharp young kid and a big sports fan and I can see in his eyes that he enjoys being part of what we’re doing. That kind of energy is always needed.

The third signal was having the news person Steve Alexander bring in a potential story for us to do on the air. He’s a top notch broadcaster and a total pro and for him to bring a story for us to use was a very generous gesture on his part and we all appreciated it. Jerry read the bit on the air and we riffed on it and I hope it made him feel good. We sure did.

Tim Slagle wasn’t live in the studio with us because he stayed at home preparing for his annual 4th of July blowout. Literally. He lives in a suburb which is right over the border in Indiana where it’s legal to blow off fireworks on a person’s own property. Boy, does he.

Tim and his wife Kathy have a made it a tradition to have a fireworks party and they’ve been inviting me for years. For whatever reason I was either booked or like last year I was not able to attend and by all accounts from absolutely everyone it’s always a ton of fun.

I’ve been looking forward to it for months and it didn’t disappoint. Normally fireworks aren’t my favorite pastime but in this case it’s total fun. Tim passes the hat with everyone and takes the money to the fireworks mega store and spends it all. Then he brings it back and starts lighting it off and before long a person would think they were lost in Baghdad.

Ken Sevara and his wife Lori were there and Jerry Agar came over after he finished up his night shift at WGN and we all just relaxed and enjoyed the show. There was fantastic food and an eclectic mix of extremely nice people and it was a blast and a half. Literally.

I’m really glad I was able to hook Tim up with Jerry. They’ve clicked and so have all of us as a whole. The Kidders are more than just a radio bit. We’re a group of good friends.

A New Mission Statement

July 4, 2009

Friday July 3rd, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

Lots of good energy all around today. I finally feel like I’m starting to get a master plan of some sort together and I spent most of the day working on starting to execute it. Action is everything and ideas alone are nothing without it. I want to put my dreams in motion.

I have to focus on what I want and where I’m going with whatever resources I now have at my disposal. I thought about all of that today and tried to etch a sharply detailed picture of exactly what I see myself becoming on my mental movie screen. That’s where it starts.

Nothing worthwhile is built in a day but it sure can be visualized. My brain tends to get off track and wander frequently but that’s because I let it. Most of us never focus on what we really want so I took time to do that. I don’t want to miss out on my life‘s purpose if it indeed does have one. I guess it does if I give it one and I‘m grateful for a chance to do it.

Deep down I really feel my purpose is to make others feel good. I guess that’s all of our individual purposes indirectly but mine is getting clearer. I am a comedian and help those who are dented cans like me feel a little better about themselves. It’s a noble undertaking.

I started making a binder of my updated comedy notes and goals and totally got lost in it for several hours. I also upgraded my mission statement. I don’t know if many comedians have a mission statement but I’ve had one for many years. Now I need to actually DO it.

Here’s what I came up with: “Dobie Maxwell is a funny, famous, functioning, fulfilled entertainer. I will develop my potential to it’s very fullest and always continue to improve and grow as long as I’m alive.” It might not sound like much but I really thought it out.

Some comedians are funny but not famous while others are famous but not funny. A lot of entertainers and people in general are not functioning or fulfilled. I wonder if Michael Jackson was either one of those, especially at the end? Yes, he was very famous but that’s no guarantee for the last two. I want to be funny and famous and functional and fulfilled.

I was blessed with a dollop of funny and I’ve been working my whole life to develop it into a marketable product. This is where a lot of my problems have come up. Fame is not a guarantee of happiness so maybe that’s not the best word. Notoriety may be better. I am not looking to have to wear a disguise when I leave my hotel to see a movie or eat lunch.

I’m talking about being known in the circles I need to be known. In my case that would be the comedy world. I want to be known by not only my peers but also the public who is into comedy. I know I can light it up with the best of them and I’ve proven it many times.

It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’, it’s ‘how’. How do I put myself into the position of being seen by someone who can put me on TV or help me maximize my potential to wherever it will fully blossom? Management may be the answer and I need to explore that possibility. If I do get a chance I am confident I’ll make it pay off. I’ve paid my dues and then some.

That’s only the first two parts. I can be funny and famous but if I’m not living the other two it’s a waste of time. Functioning in my mind means living an upstanding life without becoming a slave to anything or anyone. I want to be a real person who enjoys all of life.

The last one is the best. Fulfilled in my mind is being a servant to humanity. Teaching a comedy class gives me a wonderful feeling of fulfillment because I’m able to be a part of helping someone live a dream. That’s why I’m so passionate about those who’ve crawled out of the sewer to pollute the jacuzzi. They’re just in it for the money. There’s way more.

Pulling off all four of those things isn’t going to be easy but that’s my mission and I am putting it out there so others can call me on it when I err. I’ve blown it before and there’s a good chance I will again but it will only be a temporary delay. I know where I‘m going.

Is there anyone I can think of who has done what I’m trying to do? Paul Newman comes to mind. He wasn’t a comedian but he was very talented and famous. His marriage was an extreme success and he did amazing charitable work and his kindness pays off to this day.

THAT is a life to aspire to in my opinion. I didn’t necessarily agree with his politics but that’s ok. He walked the walk and was true to his beliefs. He did solid work and was very much loved by his peers and admired by the public. I’d say he lived my mission statement to the fullest and I bet he had a great life. I wonder if I can tap into that space in my life?

I’m by far not Paul Newman or anyone else. I’m me, warts and all. I may not ever get to the heights of a Paul Newman or Paul Lynde or Alfred E. Neumann but if I don’t shoot at some kind of goal I’ll just drift off into the sea of unhappy shlubs who never really live.

I’m the first one to admit I’m a crazy bastard. I’m moody, petty, temperamental, easily hurt, persnickety and all the other quirks that go with creative types. I want what I want or nothing at all and sometimes I can clash with people right from the start. That’s how it is.

On the other hand I have a lifetime of great memories of exciting adventures from coast to coast and all over North America. I have great friends and continue to make more and I have BY FAR surpassed everyone’s expectations of where I’d end up from where I came.

I don’t think I’ve come anywhere near my potential yet and that really pumped me up as I looked over all my comedy notes. I wrote down my goals and also divided up into easily workable categories all the material I want to develop into stage bits and recordings too.

This is the fruit of a lifetime of labor. I boiled it all down to about 100 pages but it will continue to be rearranged and added to and eventually I can see that evolving into a book like George Carlin’s “Brain Droppings” and others. Those were just his comedy notes.

I feel totally rejuvenated right now. I’ve got a mission statement and a purpose and I am rested and ready to keep working. I made a binder for comedy stuff now I need to repeat it for comedy classes and also Uranus Factory Outlet. I can’t build anything without a plan.

A Case Of The Willies

July 3, 2009

Thursday July 2nd, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

I was in a pretty good space most of the day until I read a very disturbing article in USA Today that really set my head to spinning. It was in the sports section and featured former Green Bay Packer Willie Davis and talked about how many former athletes who’ve had a second career after sports are having financial troubles. His story was covered in detail.

Apparently he lost millions in the real estate fiasco in California and he also owns a few radio stations across the country, most notably in Milwaukee. I met Willie when I worked at 93QFM back in 1991. There was some racial tension in the city due to a nut bag wacko alderman named Michael McGee who said he was going to start shooting white people.

Our program director thought it would be a good idea to simulcast an event where some listeners from both stations would get together and spell out ‘Milwaukee’ in the middle of a field. I didn’t see how that would stop any shootings but I had no choice. I had to attend.

About 14 people showed up and the event was a complete waste of time but I did get to meet Willie Davis who showed up to see what it was about. He’s got enormous hands and when he grabbed mine to shake it I think it went past my elbow. The guy has a presence.

I always really respected him for his intense work ethic. He never missed a game in the NFL and was an All Pro and a Hall of Famer. That’s no small accomplishment but then it ended and instead of complaining he got a degree from the University of Chicago and was off to success in the business world. He bought a beer distributorship and then tried radio.

I’ve heard all kinds of Willie Davis radio stories over the years and some people didn’t like working for him but he ran successful stations in L.A. and Milwaukee. I was a fan of his WLUM a lot more than I was of 93QFM where I worked. He ran a profitable entity.

That’s what was so disturbing about the article. If anyone was NOT a loafer or a whiner and was the epitome of what a work ethic was all about it was Willie Davis. If he’s broke I know we’re in a lot of trouble in this country. The article said a lot of former athletes are scraping the barrel right now and they weren’t talking about the overpaid wanks of today.

What the hell is happening to our country? What incentive is there to have a work ethic for 40 years like a Willie Davis and many others and sacrifice everything only to have the banks collapse and everything else along with it? Something totally wrong is happening.

I hope Willie enjoyed what he did all these years. I’m sure he’s probably not going to be sleeping in a pup tent but losing several million dollars can’t be pleasant. I don’t see why it was necessary in the first place. It seems that once again the hard worker gets burned.

What about all the bums and leakers that partied for those 40 years? Willie thought he’d earned some security when in fact he busted his butt for bupkis. That really made me look again at what I’m doing and further decide to do what I love and follow my inner passion.

Half Year Adjustments

July 2, 2009

Wednesday July 1st, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

And, as the whistle blows…halftime 2009 is officially here. Time continues to zoom by at a pace way faster than I can process it. All I can hope for now is a painless death with a shot at better circumstances if indeed there is life after this episode of cosmic flatulence.

Until that inevitable time I’m still stuck here for some reason. Or is there any reason at all? Is it just random chance? Sometimes I wonder. I look around at a planet so filled with craziness on every level and it makes me ask why I was ever born at all. Did I screw up in another life? Is this my punishment? Will it get better? It’s all boiling down to a question.

Whatever the answer is, none of it seems to matter now. I’m here and have to play out a hand of cards I was dealt. The choices I make today will help to shape my tomorrows just as my choices until now have gotten me to this point. It’s not easy to keep making them.

The cruelest joke of all in this life is that the only thing we have no choice about is that we all have to keep making choices. That’s deep. I don’t think anyone can just stick their life on automatic pilot and not pay attention to it. Sooner or later it will crash and burn.

I sure don’t want that but I feel like I’m doing an iffy job as a pilot. Whatever I had as a flight plan has blown out the cockpit window and now I feel like I’ve drifted out of touch with the control tower and hope I can get back on course somehow. I feel completely lost.

I really did have simple goals in life. All I ever wanted was to be ‘normal’ but that’s the last word I’d use to describe how it’s turned out so far. I feel like a circus freak who never got to live a regular life. At least Michael Jackson had a few hundred million to play with along the way. He was a freak too but his toy box was a lot bigger than everybody else’s.

From all accounts I hear he just wanted to be normal too. Who doesn’t? The human life experience can be a blast at times but when it goes bad it’s a nightmare. Staying in sync is no easy task for anyone and it seems like very few ever do that. I want to be one of them. I’ve been in that groove and it’s wonderful. Then I fall out of it again. I want to stay there.

But how? Sometimes I feel like I’m right on course and other times not. Right now I am so confused I don’t even know why I’m here much less where I’m going. It’s all a big old mess. I sure thought I’d have it figured out by now but I don‘t. And time continues to slip.

I made some decent choices the first half of this year but also blew some others. I didn’t get to a lot of things I thought I would and that’s frustrating too. I don’t want to be having this same talk six months from now so I need to change my strategy to make that happen.

I think it boils down to contacts, choices and vibe. My vibe has to be positive and that’s a lot easier if I hang around positive people. My choices have to be clear and shared with others so I can help myself stay on some kind of a consistent course. That’s the first step. I spent all day today sorting out what I need to do to rebuild my life from the ground up.

Vibe is very important. I really believe that even though it sounds like ‘moonbeams and star dust’ like my cousin Brett says. The vibe a person puts out is what comes back and it can be changed depending on the choice of the person. Mine could use a major tune up.

I try very hard to be a good person but I think it’s more than that. ‘Good’ and ‘nice’ are not enough. I’m sure Hitler thought he was a nice guy and in his mind he was doing good. History suggests differently but it depends on who you talk to. Some people liked the guy.

I sure don’t want to compare myself to Hitler but I’m finding that I still have a knack of polarizing people myself. I’m either loved or loathed probably because I put that vibe out. If I like someone I make it known immediately but if I don’t I do that too. And that’s how it comes back. I have a lot of people in my corner but also a few who hope I die in a fire.

That boils down to contacts. Who do I choose to spend the majority of my time with? If I surround myself with quality people it will keep my vibe up to snuff. Lately I’ve noticed I’ve been clashing with some people and I never enjoy that. That’s not what I want to do.

I want to put out a vibe so strong those people can’t penetrate it. I don’t want to have to be in a position to ever have to deal with someone like that. I don’t wish any bad on them but I do wish them to be far away from me. Those two comics who owe me money owe it because I was stupid enough to lend it. That’s on me. It will be a bonus to get paid back.

But if they don’t I can’t keep dwelling on it. And that boils down to choice. I choose all the things I think about and I don’t have to think about those guys or that money. If that’s what I think about it’s preventing a lot bigger and more creative thoughts from growing.

Piss on the both of them for not paying me back in a reasonable amount of time but piss on me too for letting it happen. Also, piss on the rude and boorish club owner who put my self esteem in the mud but again piss on me for ever allowing it to happen. His little toilet isn’t where I need to be working anyway. In reality he did me a favor by chasing me off.

I talked to Tim Slagle today and he made a hell of a point. He said if I blow that guy off like I’ve been doing it’s the same as Bob and Tom blowing me off. My sister too, I guess. I haven’t answered the guy’s calls and don’t intend to because I’ll say something ugly I’ll be sorry for later and I don’t want to put myself in that position. But Tim made his point.

How do I handle it? Good question. Bob and Tom may never talk to me again but quite frankly they didn’t have a good vibe when they did. They were in a bad mood and I had it spill over on me for whatever reason. Enough with pissing on people already. That’s not a final answer and it smells too much like piss. I’ll tweak my vibe until it’s right. But how?

These are the things I’m trying to figure out as I head into the second half of this year. If I change my vibe and improve my choices a different result will happen. The contacts I’ll develop will also have a part of that bigger picture and the good news is I’m the one who gets to pick who that is! That’s the best news I’ve had in a while but it was always there.