Fortune Cooking

Friday August 28th, 2009 – Pittsburgh, PA

It’s amazing what a night’s sleep and a shower can do to recharge the batteries. I’m in a very good space today and ideas are still flowing like water from yesterday. I have to find some way to increase my income very soon without committing any crimes and I have no choice but to expand my entrepreneurial horizons. I doubt if I’d be able to find a real job.

Actually, I don’t want one. It’s not that I’m lazy but I really am a poor employee. I have to believe if I’ve made it this long without having to succumb to the false security of a job I can make it a little farther. I don’t mind working, what I mind is working for someone in charge I think is a moron. That doesn’t always have to be the case but it usually happens.

I thought a great example of the pain of that scenario was shown in ‘The Wrestler’ with Mickey Rourke’s character having to take a job at a deli to pay his bills. I wouldn’t have a problem working a part time job for the work, but dealing with a hard ass boss isn’t in my genetic makeup. I’d have to get in his face and that would be it but what does that prove?

It proves I need to be working for myself and that’s what I intend to do. I sure could use some cash right now but going to work at Walmart isn’t going to bail me out in the longer run. The smart thing to do is keep plugging and find a way to manufacture some income. I am in a rut for now but that doesn’t mean it has to last. It’s up to me to turn this around.

I had an idea today that I think I can develop into something. I’m going to keep it in the bag for a while until I write out the big picture but it already involves something I’m good at and have experience. I have to use my skills as an entertainer and public speaker to find ways to put money in my pocket. I do have skills in that department but not many others.

If I had to work a construction job or install swimming pools I’d be dead in a week. If it comes to that I’m in big trouble, but it doesn’t seem all that far off either. If fear of taking a day job motivates me to finally forcing myself into being an entrepreneur, then so be it.

The truth is, I’ve never really put myself into the correct position to make real money. It looked like I was about to get close in radio when I worked at the Loop in Chicago. Until the station got sold they were looking at signing us to a multiyear contract for decent coin. That was in 2004 and I’d have been sitting pretty right now. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

Instead, I’m worried about how I’m going to get my car out of the airport parking lot on Sunday morning when I get back to Milwaukee. Rent is due on Tuesday and I’ll barely be able to scrape that up. A lot of things led me to this point but deep down I know I’ve been  weak with my money skills but that’s only because I’ve chosen to be. I can improve them.

I’m in the situation I’m in because of a combination of things. Luck is part of it but only a small one. Yes, I’ve caught some tough breaks in life but the real reason I’m so broke at this time is because I let money slip through my fingers carelessly. I’m not the only one to do that but it angers me because I don’t have to let it happen. It’s time to fix this problem.

It really is a matter of how I choose to handle this. I can be bitter and angry about where I came from and how little help I’ve had or I can get off my ass and do something about it immediately and enjoy the process as it happens. That would be the best answer and I like challenges so I need to look at this as the ultimate mountain. If I climb it I’ll be the king.

Every day counts. Every choice counts. Every person I choose to have in my life counts. I want to play every card I’ve been dealt correctly and win the game. These are the things I was thinking about all day and it was very exciting to me to be able to start seeing in my mind’s eye what I want to make come true. I feel like I’m FINALLY starting to get a clue.

One of my ex students John Burton drove in from Columbus, OH to hang out and meet the club owner Jeff Schneider in person so hopefully he can get a future booking. I hadn’t seen John in a long time but he’s one of my very favorite students ever. He’s a survivor.

Like me, John’s parents weren’t a factor in his life so his grandparents raised him. He is an only child and his grandparents died, leaving him some money. He thought he was set for life financially and started out on his comedy journey because he enjoyed it. He’s very intelligent and of all my past students he’s one of the hungriest to learn that I’ve ever met.

I’ve stayed in contact with him over the years and always enjoyed seeing his progress in comedy. He’s paid his dues and slugged it out and he has my total respect both on and off stage. He’s a dented can too but with a lot more social skills than me. He plays the game a lot better than I do and he’s also a law school graduate who gave it all up to live a dream.

Jeff Schneider can be a tough nut to crack. Like with so many club owners, it becomes a numbers game as to who gets a booking. I’ve known him since he owned the Funny Bone in Milwaukee where I started back in the ’80s so he’s more than a club owner. I know the guy very well and my word is trusted so John getting a thumbs up from me will be a plus.

John and I hung out for dinner before the show and he’s really struggling right now too. He lost a bunch of money in the stock market and his nest egg is scrambled. He said he is in trouble for the first time in his life and like me, he doesn’t enjoy it. He’s looking for an answer financially just like I am. Everyone in America seems to be struggling with this.

People like John Burton and so many others are why I continue to teach my classes. It’s a win/win for everyone and totally not about the money. I introduced John to Jeff and that made me feel really good because I know he’ll get some work out of it and he can use it.

The audience tonight was just so-so. I suppose I could have walked my way through but I try to never do that. I want to make the most of every time I’m on stage so I used tonight as a practice session. I added new lines and delivered each one with future TV in mind.

The fact is I wasn’t nearly as prepared for my TV spot as I would have liked. There’s a big difference between doing six minutes on television vs. 45 minutes in a club and I flat out didn’t nail it. Unfortunately, thousands will see that when only 100 or so saw tonight.


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