Archive for September, 2009

Quiet On The Set

September 20, 2009

Saturday September 19th, 2009 – Menomonee Falls, WI

I’m still feeling lower than a piss ant’s pecker. The hardest part of this whole time is not letting it show in public. Usually when I get like this I try to stay away from everybody so I don’t bring them down too but sometimes I have no choice. Today I had to suck it up.

I made a commitment to be in a movie filmed by the son of a guy I went to high school with named Bob Richards. Bob is a super nice guy and has always been a huge supporter through the years. He and his wife Judy used to come out and see me in Milwaukee years ago before I moved to Chicago. He found me on Facebook recently and I’m glad he did.

Bob’s son Kyle is a film maker and is finishing up his first feature length film. That’s a very impressive accomplishment for a 20 year old kid, even if technology makes it a more achievable thing than ever before. Bob and I joked that we grew up in the dark ages and it would have been nearly impossible to crank out a movie then but now it’s not hard at all.

What’s hard is actually DOING it and that’s what I respect about Kyle and his crew. It’s a lot of work but according to Bob they’ve been diligent about getting it done and they are nearly done with the shooting part and hope to have their premiere showing January 1st.

I was very flattered that Kyle found a place for me in his movie and I showed up for my scene this morning at Menomonee Falls High School. I play a teacher who has a few lines and it was a fun scene to shoot.  Bob said “You’re a natural in front of the camera.” Well, I’ve been performing for an entire time so I should be. It really wasn’t all that difficult.

The real acting job was not letting anyone know I was in a nasty depression funk. It was nobody’s fault and I didn’t want to bring anyone else down so I sucked it up and tried my best to be pleasant and upbeat and easy to work with. It was nice to sit and visit with Bob and Judy as I haven’t seen them in a long time so that helped make things work out well.

The scene ended exactly at 11am which is exactly the time I had to be on the phone for this week’s edition of Jerry’s Kidders on WGN. I sure didn’t feel funny but again I had to force myself to put my own feelings aside and try to be part of the team. That’s not easy.

I couldn’t really tell how it went but nobody swore so I guess it’s ok. After that I drove to Leon’s Frozen Custard on 27th and Oklahoma in Milwaukee to try to find anything that would cheer me up even a little. If Leon’s doesn’t do it I know I need professional help.

Not only was the custard delicious as usual, I got an extra perk when the counter lady asked if I was a comedian. I said I was and she said “I saw you on the Jay Leno show and you were SOOO funny! I also saw you on the news and I remembered I’d seen you here.”

That lady has an amazing eye. Even though it was Craig Ferguson and not Jay Leno it’s still impressive she picked me out in a crowd. I thanked her and gave her a card and said she gets in free any time I‘m in town. She had no idea how good it felt, especially today.

The Wrong Direction

September 19, 2009

Friday September 18th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

Another day, another trip to the mailbox to find no check. This is beyond ridiculous and I’m about ready to snap. It’s completely unprofessional not to mention disrespectful and it pushes all my inner buttons. I’ve come way too far to have this kind of thing happen now.

This is a cumulative thing. Year after year after year of dealing with idiots and chiselers and scumbags and shysters add up to complete impatience. The sweetest and cutest puppy will eventually snap if it gets poked with a broom stick enough times. That’s where I am.

I’m not a violent person by nature but every day of this stupidity makes me want to take an ax handle to someone’s skull. Unfortunately, the number of skulls is growing rapidly. I just want it to be over with and move on but nobody seems to be able to understand that.

I did have some communication by email with the booker’s son who is now taking over most of the bookings. He’s been very professional about it and has a natural skill with his dealing of people that his father never had. He apologized profusely and said he’d get my money and said he’s been in contact with the club owner at Giggles and will stay on it.

What else can I do? I really don’t want to file a small claim in court and all that but if it comes to that I definitely will. I need that money and I earned it. That was the worst week of comedy I can remember in a long time and to not get paid for it adds insult to injury.

I’m really trying hard to stay upbeat right now but it’s not working. Everything seems to  piss me off or make me sad and the more I try to suck it up the more pain I feel inside. On one hand this is the best time of my life but on the other I feel like I’m ready to check out.

I had lunch with my friend Marc Schultz today and that’s always a positive. He’s a great friend in addition to being a corporate booker and his mother had depression so he’s dealt with it before. I can always talk to him about it and he was very encouraging today when I needed it the most. He said he’s getting a lot of interest from my Late Late Show DVD.

His business takes a while to make the rounds and he sends out sample DVDs of acts he books so clients can see who’s available. He’s sent my stuff before but my club stuff isn’t what would sell a corporate buyer. Having a TV spot on a recent show adds credibility.

Marc said he’s got three hold dates for potential holiday parties in December because of the DVDs he sent to people who chose me from it. There’s no guarantee I’ll get a booking because it usually has to go through a committee but then again I could get all three. It’s a crapshoot but at least I’m starting to get into the shooter after all these years. It’s progress.

That made me feel a little better but it’s much deeper than that. The dents in my can are very deep and seem to be getting deeper no matter how hard I try to pound them out. I am doing all I can to overcome where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through but when I get in a funk like I’m in now nothing seems to help. This is the worst I’ve had it in ages.

I don’t even like writing about it but I think I have to. Hopefully other dented cans will be able to use my life with all it’s lumps and bumps to help make theirs better. Is there an underlying pattern with any of this? Is it a chemical thing? A full moon? I haven’t got any clues other than to know when it gets like this I have no desire to live anymore. Life rots.

If there is indeed a next world I have to believe it’s better than this one. Is there a reason for all the insanity in this one or is it completely random? It sure seems random to me and if there is a God He sure doesn’t seem to have time for me. I feel cheated and abandoned.

I came home from lunch and my roommate’s kids were just walking in the door. I rarely see my roommate or her kids because it’s a big house and none of us are home very often. Our hours are completely opposite and that works out great because we never get in each other’s way. I drop my rent off on the kitchen table in an envelope on the 1st and that’s it.

Today for whatever reason I saw the kids for a minute. They’re both girls and are both sweethearts and very well behaved. Now they’re both in high school and they’re gorgeous so boys are starting to come around like flies. They’re cheerleaders and seem to be having all the fun that high school is supposed to be. We said quick hellos and I went downstairs.

I could hear them playing the radio too loud because their mom wasn’t home from work yet and giggling with their friends and after a while more friends came over and they were doing all the things school kids should. I was happy for them but it made me feel terrible because it drove home the hard nasty fact even more that I never had that and never will.

High school was very painful. I never really wanted to go to the school I went to but my grandparents wanted me to go there so I wouldn’t end up a troublemaker like my father. I wouldn’t have ended up like that anyway because it’s not in me. He was who he was and I’m my own person but since he was such a screw up I had to pay for his wild stupidity.

My grandmother always thought I’d get hurt and never let me play any sports and that’s still a sore spot, especially after seeing how much fun the kids were having today. If I did get hurt physically I would have been long healed by now but the pain of not getting to be part of the teams and having those kind of relationships still lingers all these years later.

Usually I don’t think about this stuff very much but times like this when I’m deep in the black hole it’s so painful it’s all I can think about. There’s a pain of regret and frustration and everything good I may have done in my life doesn’t mean a damn thing. It feels like a total waste of time and that’s what I feel like right now. I wish I could go to sleep and die.

This isn’t how life is supposed to be but I’m being honest of how I feel. I remember as a kid hearing of Jonathan Winters having struggled with depression and I couldn’t believe a hilarious guy like him could have a down day. Now all these years later I’m there as well.

Have I accomplished anything worthwhile in my life? Damn, it sure doesn’t seem like it and getting stiffed from my pay at Giggles in my home town doesn’t make it any better.

Knight Of The Living Dead

September 19, 2009

Thursday September 17th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL/St. Charles, IL

I’m in a deep dark nasty funk. I’ve been here before and even though it’s been a while, the seat is still warm. The older I get the more I dislike these times and I’d almost rather have a period every month. At least I could plan for it and know it would be gone soon.

I need to be careful what I wish for though. I know my luck. The last thing I need is to be the only man on Earth with a period. I’m sure there are women who get depressed too and they have both to deal with so I guess my life isn’t so bad. Still, right now it’s ugly.

I haven’t walked for a while and I’ve been eating poorly and been on the road for a few weeks and maybe that has something to do with it. It really is difficult to stay healthy on a road schedule and the fact is I’m just getting older. All that fast food is catching up to me.

Dwelling on how rotten I feel isn’t going to do much good so I’ll stop for now. I slept it off much of today but that didn’t even feel good. When I get like this I have vivid dreams that are very disturbing and it’s never a restful sleep. I can’t even remember what they are about most of the time but I do remember waking up not refreshed and still feeling tired.

That’s what happened today. I woke up in a sweat and didn’t feel rested at all. I took an extra long hot shower and tried to scrub up and get the blood flowing or something. It’s a chore just to get out of bed but I knew I had to get out of the house or I’d feel even worse.

My friend John Knight is working this week at Zanies in the Pheasant Run Resort out in St. Charles, IL. I was just there Tuesday teaching a class but I hadn’t seen John in a while so that was my destination. He’s a great guy and has been doing comedy as long as I have or maybe even a little longer. He’s originally from Pittsburgh and we met in the mid ‘80s.

Those were the boom years of the comedy business. Every old fart (now including John and myself) talks about how amazing it was then but I have to agree. It really was the best of times for comedians but unfortunately neither John nor I had an act then. We were still learning our craft but we had a whole big country full of clubs to go explore. And we did.

John and I laughed about how now we’re the crusty old bastards we used to make fun of back then and how fast the time went. If we had acts we both have now in 1989 instead of 2009 we’d both be millionaires, or at least doing a lot better than we’re doing. It’s like we have the winning lottery numbers twenty years too late and are still trying to cash them in.

It was great to see John. I watched his whole show and it made me laugh out loud. He’s a pro and like me he stuck with it all these years. He moved to L.A. for a long time and is now back in Pittsburgh squeaking out a living like I am here in the Midwest. We’re lifers.

John was telling me stories of how he’s scraping up work just like I am and it makes me sad because guys like us should be kicking ass right now. We’ve paid our dues and have a lot to offer but now it seems fewer and fewer want it. What’s next for road dogs like us?

The Dent Gets Deeper

September 17, 2009

Wednesday September 16th, 2009 – Milwaukee, WI

I think I’m hitting the wall. I’ve been so busy doing so many things of late I am not able to sort everything out. Between all the traveling I’ve been doing lately and the shows I do once I get there and the comedy classes both at Zanies in Chicago and St. Charles, IL and everything else I’m just burned out right now. I needed to take a day off and relax a little.

I was supposed to have a date with my lady friend up in Milwaukee but she didn’t pick up her phone. We were supposed to hang out and have lunch and I thought it was a done deal but when I tried calling there was no answer. If there’s one dent that’s still in my can it’s abandonment issues with women. I think I may have an idea where that came from.

My mother left our family when I was five months old. My sister was 4 ½ then and my brother was 2 ½. I’m not a shrink but everything I’ve read about stuff like that isn’t much in favor of it as far as producing solid stable human beings in adulthood. I know I’ve been tweaked about this my whole life and days like this are when it really hurts. It bothers me.

I’m sure my mother had her own problems and by her own admission she was way into drugs and a whole lot of other things Good Housekeeping magazine didn’t endorse. Still, it can’t be good for kids to have their mother yanked away at a young age. I’ll bet both of my natural siblings are affected by it even though they were a little older. It still rots ass.

I’ve tried to deal with this my whole life. My mother image is nonexistent and the lady who raised me was my German grandmother who was about as warm as a six month old penguin terd. My sister and I never got along very well either and I can’t say we’ve ever had a close relationship like many brothers and sisters I see. I feel like I’m just drifting.

I’ve been blown off by women before as has every guy but there are certain times when it really hits extra hard. Rejection is never fun but after being blown off by my mother it’s even more sensitive for me. This is very personal and very painful at times and today was one of those times when it really hurt. I guess I just wanted some female company today.

I love women, I really do. If I were gay I’d say it but I’m far from it. The women I really like are usually the ones that blow me off and I know every guy can relate to that but with me it’s different. I’ve talked to a shrink about it and read books about it and many times a mother issue like I have causes a man to chase women he can’t have. It’s all a head game.

I don’t want to play head games at this time in my life. I want a life partner that I can be proud of that helps me and I help her. I want to be a husband and a dad and all the things I thought were supposed to be a birth right. I guess I could have had all that at one time but there’s no way I was ready for it then. I’d have been divorced by now and that’s not good.

Maybe all this is finally getting to me after having chased comedy as a substitute for the love I’ve felt I’ve missed all these years. I love getting laughs but it’s not the love I see so many others experience. Not sex – love. The kind between a mother and child and lovers.

I’ve had a lot going on lately and I’m just frazzled. I’m human, and humans get tired. It didn’t help that I went to my post office box this morning and didn’t find a check to make up for the bounced one I got recently. It’s been over a month now and I’m pissed beyond words. I thought my raw inner rage was fading away in my old age. I guess I was wrong.

There is NO excuse for this. None. I don’t care if the guy is having problems or not. Pay your headliner if you have a comedy club. Period. Normally in this diary I only mention a name if something is good and if it isn’t I’ll mention the situation and keep it under cover. Not today. The club that bounced the check is Giggles Comedy Pub in Brookfield, WI.

I hate to have to do it but I’m going to spread the word with comedians, which won’t be hard to do at all. It’s like a chick with herpes. Once word gets out it tends to stay out. I am not trying to be mean but I have to protect myself. The next step is filing a claim in court.

I have no desire to go to court, I just want my money and move on. Unfortunately I have previous experience with this from another slug club owner who still hasn’t paid me $400 for shows I did in ‘94. His name is J.D. and he runs the Sodomy Café, also in Milwaukee. Even though it’s my home town, the comedy scene there is horrible and always has been.

I was going to file a small claim on J.D. in 1994 because he laughed about not having to pay me. “Yeah? So SUE me,” He said. He tries to be a bad ass biker the same way my old man used to act. They even rode with the same gang of maggots. I never took my father’s bullying and I wasn’t going to take it from J.D. either. I did my shows and I want my pay.

The booker at the time was afraid of J.D. and she BEGGED me not to take him to court because she was afraid she’d lose her booking gig. My inner voice told me loud and clear to file the papers but I thought about it and tried to be nice. What an idiot. She SWORE it would get settled but 15 years later it’s still a pain in the ass, and nobody cares except me.

People wonder why entertainers are cold hearted bastards and I used to do it too. In my naïve youth I would look at stories of what some big star did and was appalled. Now I’m applauding. It’s this petty little grind that piles up year after year after year. I’m sick of it.

I make mistakes often and I admit them whenever I can. I don’t claim to be perfect but I do claim to make an attempt to make things right with people when there is a problem. If I can fix it, I do. If I can’t, at least I try to figure out what an alternative may be. This isn’t a similar situation because I haven’t heard anything from Giggles. Nobody really cares.

I don’t think he’s as mean spirited as J.D., but in either case I’m out pay I earned for the shows I did. They were very good shows, too. The pay scale in Milwaukee has never been good so even if I did get paid I’d still be getting ripped off but at least I‘d have my money.

What I really need right now is a night or two of very restful sleep, but the checks that I wrote that are bouncing won’t let me do it. My patience is as short as a Marine’s recruit’s bangs and I just want to get paid and move on. And a nice girlfriend wouldn’t hurt either.

Twin Task Tuesday

September 17, 2009

Tuesday September 15th, 2009 – Lombard, IL/St. Charles, IL

Another day running around from dawn to midnight, but it paid my bills so I needed to do it. The first stop was Lombard, IL which is 51 miles from where I live. I had a gig as a host of a showcase for performers who sell themselves to schools and libraries. My friend and ex radio partner Spike Manton hosted it for a few years but this year he couldn’t do it.

It was very nice of him to pass it along my way and I didn’t want to let him down by not showing up on time. Spike has a tendency to get places right when he needs to be and that can be maddening to an outsider. When we worked at the Loop in Chicago we started our show at 5am. Spike would walk in between 4:58:30 and 4:59:30 daily. We got used to it.

The guy in charge of this event wasn’t used to it and he asked me politely if I could be a little early and I told him I would. Wouldn’t you know there was a traffic accident about a mile from the place and it backed up traffic for miles. I ended up walking in at right about exactly when Spike used to make his daily entrances into the studio and I felt like an ass.

I did call the guy though so he knew it was happening but still, I can’t stand being late. I try to avoid it when I can but when I can’t it’s pure stress, and that’s what I felt like as we sat and waited for the accident to get cleaned up. I was trapped with no way out other than wait for it to clear. There’s nothing like raw tension to get the spirits going for a live gig.

This wasn’t an easy gig at all. There were about twenty performers of all different kinds from Mexican folk singers to puppet shows to a game show to a dog act. They each got a showcase of EXACTLY eight minutes and if they went even five seconds longer I had to go up on stage and keep the show moving. That only happened about two or three times.

Still, I had to watch the acts and get the intros right and get the audience focused on the stage and that’s no easy task. I’ve always been a good emcee and that’s because I chose to learn it as a craft. It’s a difficult job and takes years to master but today I’m glad I had it. I will be able to pay my rent next month from the money I earned today, but I worked for it.

Not many people can pay a month’s rent with one day’s worth of work so I’m grateful I have that opportunity. Plus, they bought us lunch which was simple but delicious. It came at the perfect time and I’m not complaining at all. They paid me immediately at the end of the day and everyone was professional and pleasant the whole day. This was a good gig.

After that I went to Zanies in St. Charles to teach a comedy class. I’ve got six signed up but one is helping me with legwork and promotion so only five are paid. Nobody is going to get rich but at least it’s a start and there are a lot of people in the area so now I’ll see if I can get anyone to come out on a regular basis. I have to carve out my territory of classes.

At least I’m working and earning a living. The money is going to be spent as fast as I’m able to get it but at least I’m able to keep some coming in. Another thing that’s important to note is that I’m still doing what I love and not working some hellish day job. Not yet.

Half A Birthday

September 16, 2009

Monday September 14th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

Half a BIRTH-day to meeeeee-eeeeee…half a  birthday to me. Exactly six months from today is my next official birthday but I had a jam packed day of fun anyway. It didn’t start out that way. I left my cell phone in the back seat of the cab that drove me to get my car at the parking lot of my friend Todd Kasulke’s business. He let me park to save airport fees.

Todd crawls out of the rack super early and we agreed I wouldn’t call him after 11pm if my plane from Denver was delayed, which it was. We finally got in about 11:20 so I took a cab to live up to my end of the deal. I left my phone in the back seat as I got my luggage and didn’t discover it until the cab was gone. I raced directly to the airport to retrieve it.

Of course in Mr. Lucky tradition it was the cabbie’s last run of the night and he checked out and was going home. After running around and getting supervisors to call and see if it was turned in someone finally tracked the cabbie down and he ended up bringing it back.

That was a close call and I thanked him profusely but it sure was a lesson. That could be a total disaster as I have no ‘if found return to’ info on my phone. Who does? By the time I got back home it was 4:30am. I slept for a few hours and then had to be in Chicago for a run through with Jerry’s Kidders at the Royal George Theatre. I wished it wasn’t today.

I could have used a full night’s sleep but I said I’d be there so I was. I barely made it by 2pm as I said I would but it was close enough where nobody complained. Vicki Quade is in charge of this particular facet of the Kidders and she’s doing an outstanding job. We’re starting to see the production take shape and everyone is excited about it. It’s a lot of fun.

Basically what the ‘play’ is about is Jerry Agar’s radio journey tweaked a little for stage effect and we do our comedy bits as ‘callers’. We start out with a live version of what we do on WGN each week and then it’s just a reframed version of all our standup material in strategically placed points during the show. Like communism, it all looks good on paper.

Now we’re starting to make it happen on stage. We know our comedy bits, we’ve been doing them for years. Now we’re presenting them in a theatrical setting. Rob Becker did a similar thing with his standup material and called it “Defending The Caveman” and he’s a multimillionaire because of it. He packaged and sold it extremely well and kudos to him.

I’m not sure if we can do the same but we ran through it today and it was a blast. We all invited people we knew who had a clue about entertainment and took their suggestions at the end of the run through. It was amazingly productive and everyone who came liked the concept. The big picture is getting clearer, now we just have to fill in the smaller details.

After that I went to Zanies in Chicago to teach a comedy class with Bill Gorgo at 6 and then host the showcase show at 8:30. Both those things were fun and went very well but I again almost fell asleep at the wheel driving home afterward. I’ve got a full plate for sure but I really enjoy all that’s on it. This was about as happy a half birthday as I can imagine.

Airport Aggravation

September 14, 2009

Sunday September 13th, 2009 – Salt Lake City/Denver, CO/Milwaukee, WI?

What goes up, must come down. What goes on the road, must come home. Travel is the one part of comedy that never changes. When I started it was 99% driving. Once in a blue moon I’d take a train or a bus but usually it was miles and miles behind the wheel of a car without fail week after week. It was several years before I ever was able to afford to fly.

These days it’s about half and half, driving vs. flying. There are enough gigs close to me in the Chicago area to which I can commute and that’s why I’ve continued to live there as long as I have. Flying to gigs used to be my big aspiration but now it‘s just a chore. I can‘t  stand the hassles of having to take my shoes off and get cattle prodded before every flight.

Airport security is a complete waste of everyone’s time. 9/11 terrorist check my ass. Do I look like I belong to the Taliban? I don’t even have any facial hair. And even if I should arise suspicions in line, surely the 85 year old grandma with the knitted purse they’ve got pushed up against the wall clogging the toilet for everyone else can’t be very dangerous.

I guess I just resent the fact I have to pay for ONE individual nut case who decided he’s going to attempt to use his shoe to blow up an airplane. The only good use I can think of for that shoe is kicking him in his poop shoot 500 times for every person he’s made have to take off their shoes before getting on a flight since he did that. And add a steel toe to it.

It’s really too bad that the actions of a select few have to affect the vast majority. Flying has long lost the luster it used to have, at least for me. Yes, it saves time between the long distance gigs but I’d rather stay closer to home and drive because I can haul more things.

Now most of the airlines are charging for checked bags. Southwest doesn’t have to do it so why do all the others? Because people are stupid enough to pay it, and I’m one of those people. What choices do we have other than taking a train or bus or even a blimp? Drive.

I’ve made the drive between Chicago and Salt Lake City more times than I ever wanted to. It’s about 1400 miles and there’s NOTHING to see. When Omaha is the highlight, you know you’re on a boring trip. If I intend to keep working in Utah I’ll have to keep flying.

I have to remember that as I sit in the Denver airport waiting for my connecting flight to Milwaukee. The shuttle from the hotel left without me this morning and I barely made my flight from Salt Lake City here. The security people were extra rude and ran my computer through the machine twice for whatever reason. I had to use all my energy to stay silent.

Then on the plane I had TWO screaming babies across from me and a mother/daughter team sitting next to me that were about as annoying as two humans I‘ve ever seen. I had the middle seat but I let them sit together and by the end I wished I’d hitch hiked to Utah.
Now I hear my plane to Milwaukee has been delayed. I was scheduled to get in at 10:30 but now it’s a mystery. I’m going to miss the Packers/Bears game too. This is the part of comedy nobody talks about but it is a reality. I’m paying now for the fun I had this week.

A Worthwhile Weekend

September 13, 2009

Saturday September 12th, 2009 – Salt Lake City, UT

Another fun week in Utah comes to a close. I like it here for a lot of reasons but mostly because there are just a lot of good people that keep crossing my path. I clicked with this place from the start and people I hooked up with when I lived here in ’01 are still friends now. Then, each time I come back I seem to add more friends to that list. I love the vibe.

Mick Martin and Allen Handy are perfect examples. They have an afternoon radio show on KBER ‘K-Bear’ and it’s very entertaining. They did mornings when I worked here and were on an hour longer than us so sometimes I’d go hang out with them on the air the last hour of their show and we’d really let it rip. We pretended to be rivals but it was all fun.

How many radio guys would have the security to let that happen? Not many, trust me. It was always fun hanging with those guys and they’re both genuinely talented. Even though we both worked for the same company then and were just down the hall there’s no reason they had to be nice to me but they always were. They put me on their show yesterday too.

Not only did they put me on the show, they bumped a few other people to do it. I was in the neighborhood when they were doing a remote and they saw me and waved me over to go immediately on the air. They kept me on and let me do bits with them and sit in for the whole show. It feels great to get the star treatment but those guys deserve it. They rock.

Today I had lunch with Debbi Olson. When I lived here she was a newspaper reporter at a paper that covered a story about our radio station helping to rebuild a house that burned down in town. It was a big promotion and she not only wrote a great article about that but also wrote another one about me too. She’s originally from Chicago and loves comedy.

She always supported me when I lived here and showed up for shows constantly. She’s a fan of entertainment in general and really understands it. She’s friends with the musical group Air Supply and sees them regularly too so it’s very flattering that I’m on her list.

People can joke about music acts like Air Supply or Barry Manilow or ABBA but it’s a reality that all those acts make big money and are stunning successes. People should think I’m half as successful as any of them. Show business is difficult and it’s easy to make fun of someone because they ‘sold out’. Well, we’re all for sale no matter what anybody says.

Debbi came out once again and brought her two daughters and a boyfriend of one of the daughters. They all told me how they loved the show and also stayed up late to watch me on TV when I was on the Late Late Show in July. They were all gushing about it and how can that not feel good? They were all extremely complimentary and that’s how it is here.

All four shows in West Valley City at Wiseguys were excellent this weekend. I wish the crowds were bigger but so does everyone else. The guy who manages the club is very nice and he paid me IN CASH immediately after the show so there will be no bounced checks. I wish every place would treat me as nicely as they do in Utah. I hope to come back soon.

That shouldn’t be any problem. Keith Stubbs is the owner of all the clubs here and he’s one of my biggest supporters. He’s a hilarious comedian and also does a morning show at 101.5 ‘The Eagle‘. He’s been on for a few years now and he’s been able to parlay it like I always wanted to but never could. He’s got four clubs in the area and can work them all.

Or, he can stay home and be with his family if he wants. He’s got a wonderful wife and a beautiful house full of beautiful kids and to me that’s about as successful as one can get. Keith has a lot of skills on stage but he’s also a seasoned entrepreneur. He’s opened clubs many times and back when I lived here he was opening his first one in Salt Lake City.

I went to do an audition for him and really had a killer set. He ended up having a fallout soon after so I filled in on short notice. I had my radio job so I was doing ok financially at the time and Keith was going through the process of introducing comedy to a market that is about as tight as it gets. Crowds were very light all week and I knew he was struggling.

I told Keith I really didn’t need to get paid for the week because I was living very nicely on the money I was making at the radio station…BUT, there would probably be a time at some point where I wouldn’t be working at the radio station and would need work. That’s the time he could pay me back and we shook hands on it. It was the best deal I ever made.

That week of shows has been paying me back for going on nine years now. Keith loves to perform and he’s great at it but he has an amazing knack for business and that’s what I have never had. He knows what it takes to keep rooms open and he’s been doing it for as long as I’ve known the guy. The money isn’t huge but it’s always there and I appreciate it.

Actually the money isn’t bad at all but I’ve got a lot of expenses coming out here. It’s a hassle getting here because it’s so isolated and driving is not an option. Air fare and rental cars eat up most of my pay when I come here but at least it’s deductible on my taxes and I do always have a good time here so I look at it as a mini working vacation. I really like it.

That’s what life should be about in my opinion – fun. What’s so wrong with being a star in Salt Lake City, or at least being treated like one? Keith lets me pretty much choose my schedule and all his club managers are super sweet people from Jack in West Valley City to Gail up in Ogden and the young comics here all fight to get a chance to work with me.

That’s very flattering too. I see guys in their 20s like Blake Bard and Aaron Burrell and Spencer King and Colin Williams and others showing up every night to get stage time so they can improve and it reminds me of me when I was their age. I always try to hang with them and compliment them because I mean it. I enjoy watching them advance themselves.

Another highlight of the Utah experience is staying at the Baymont Inn in West Valley. It’s about two blocks from the club and it’s one of my favorite hotels anywhere. I always like Baymont Inns as a rule but this particular one is above and beyond. The staff is very friendly and they treat comedians great because Keith always puts us up here. All in all I have to say this has been once again an overwhelmingly positive and worthwhile trip.

9/11 Is A Joke

September 12, 2009

Friday September 11th, 2009 – Salt Lake City, UT

There’s never going to be anything funny about thousands of people losing their lives in a single day, but I have to reluctantly say I think 9/11 is a total joke. Some call it an inside job while others call it a conspiracy. Isn’t that the same thing? That depends on who’s the one being asked. Whatever it was it still stinks eight years later. Something‘s fishy here.

Am I getting cynical in my old age? No, not at all. I was plenty cynical in my youth too. I’m just trying to figure out what life is all about. The more I dig into it the more it seems most of us are just dung beetles pushing our big wet balls of poo across the desert daily.

We really don’t seem to mean much in the big picture and those who run things aren’t about to relinquish power any time soon. The older I get the more I think the world was a cesspool long before I ever got here and will be long after I leave. I’m not part of the tribe who runs things on the grand scale, no matter who ‘they’ are. And I do think ‘they’ exist.

Maybe I’m crazy but I’m not stupid. Something’s going on in a place higher than us that produces results that trickle down to the masses. I’m not sure who’s behind it but it would be nice if they had us dung beetles in mind once in a while but apparently that’s not going to happen any time soon. We get the brunt of their actions and have to live with it daily.

When I was a kid in the ‘70s there were gasoline ‘shortages’ and people believed it. The energy ‘crisis’ was going to be the end of us all and we’d have to all ride bicycles to work instead of drive our cars. By the end of the century we were supposed to be totally tapped.

What happened? Where did all this new oil magically come from? They also told us we would freeze to death from ‘global cooling’. Ha! Another lie from ‘them’. Al Gore took it to the opposite level with global warming but he’s a babbling idiot too. It’s all a big scam.

Who’s doing it and for what reasons I can’t say but I think 9/11 is in the same category. It must have served some higher purpose none of us out here in the trenches will ever see and I for one am very disgusted by it all. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives and I think it’s wrong. So does everyone else with a conscience but we don’t seem to matter.

Then we’re at ‘war’ against ‘terrorists‘. Why do we have to have wars all the time? Is it about money? I have to say yes. Are there really terrorists that were behind 9/11? Maybe I don’t get it but it sure doesn’t seem that way from where I see it. I don’t think they’d stop.

Wouldn’t someone who is trying to destroy us keep trying? If they scored a major hit on us, why stop there? I wouldn’t, but I’m not a terrorist. But if I were, I wouldn’t have let it end with that one opening campaign. The whole thing seemed staged and I’m suspicious.

Was there a real ‘threat’ of communism in Vietnam? Look at all the soldiers that had to lose their lives over that big mess. Again, who makes that call to keep starting things like that, knowing thousands will die? I guess I don’t grasp how the big picture works in life.

My cynicism deepens as I get older but I think the dark side of human nature gravitates toward positions of power. Greed and lust for power get out of hand and it seems like we all are susceptible to the temptation of it. Who knows what any of us would do if we had total power? None of us can say unless we get that chance but most dung beetles won’t.

I don’t know what to think about any of this but I do think about it. I can’t help it. Who in the world over about 12 years old doesn’t remember 9/11/01? It’s THE biggest event in our current lifetime and I happen to think it wasn’t an accident. I know I’m in the kook of the month club, but I was there before. If I’m wrong I’ll admit it but I sure don’t think so.

I won’t go as far as to call it a government conspiracy just because I don’t think they are that organized. On the other hand, I don’t think a bunch of rag tag Muslim extremist types could pull it off either. Who did it? Who knows? All I know is it’s very sad and I wish the families of the victims peace and comfort and I also wish the same for our brave soldiers.

The soldiers who died in Vietnam and Iraq were brave and fought for the America most of us are brought up to believe exists. I love that America and if I had to die for it I totally would. It isn’t the fault of those who protect us, it’s the fault of whomever starts this stuff.

Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11/01. Coincidentally I was living right here in Salt Lake City then and had just lost my radio job. I was in a funk and that made it a lot funkier. Everything shut down and I felt like I was cut off from civilization way out here.

Everyone was depressed and wondering what was happening and then after several days of that everyone needed a laugh. I got a gig in Elko, NV because nobody could fly and the person booked couldn’t get there so I filled in. There were two shows that night and I had a very hard time getting laughs in the first one. Nobody really knew how to react to it yet.

Then, the late show was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Laughter exploded in every direction and it was one of the purest experiences I’ve ever had onstage or off. People in the audience came up to me crying after the show and hugged me and thanked me for the laughs. We were all Americans and we all loved our country and this was a way to heal.

Now, are we really still that patriotic? I have to say unfortunately no. I don’t see nearly as many flags as I did then and 9/11 seems to have just glossed over and we move on. It’s getting farther and farther in the past and it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years already.

Whatever the real story of 9/11 is or who’s really in charge of the world is something I can’t control. I have a hard enough time controlling myself and my own little dung beetle existence onstage and off. That’s what I focused on tonight and we had two fun shows at Wiseguys in West Valley City. The crowds weren’t huge but they sure did come to laugh.

My little opinion doesn’t mean much in the big scheme of things. The damage has been done. I send out a special vibe to the victims and families of 9/11 and also those who put it all on the line in our Armed Forces. They deserve it. The ones who did it can go to hell.

Utopian Utah

September 11, 2009

Thursday September 10th, 2009 – Salt Lake City, UT

There aren’t many Americans in the history of this great country that have seen as much of the lower forty-eight states up close as I have, and that would include Lewis and Clark. And Jerry Lewis. And Roy Clark. And Jerry Springer. And Roy Rogers. And Mr. Rogers. And Mr. T. And Mrs. Olsen. And Miss Daisy. And Boy George. And everybody else too.

If there’s one thing I’ve done it’s travel across North America, from the big cities to the wide open spaces. If there’s a chance to see something I’ve never seen before I always try to squeeze it in my schedule. I’ve made a habit of that since I started and I still do it now.

That being said, Salt Lake City is one of my very favorite places of them all. The beauty of the mountains is absolutely stunning by itself but coupled with the Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats it’s like no other place anywhere. I remember when I had my job interview out here I thought it looked like another planet, and in many ways I was right.

This is it’s own world out here. Salt Lake City is the place people come to from all over the area for hundreds of miles in every direction. There’s not a whole lot of population for the amount of land that’s out here. If there’s ever crowding in any big city there’s a whole lot of empty space out here for them to be sent. There’s a long way to go before it’s full.

Las Vegas is about 380 miles southwest on I-15 and that’s the closest big city. Denver is about eight hours but that drive through the mountains can be brutal, especially during winter. I know, I’ve done it. More than once. In an old car. With bald tires. And a spongy brake pedal. Believe me, sliding over snowy mountains in a car can be out and out terror.

Still, I was ready to make this place my home. I feel comfortable here even though I’m an outsider on almost all fronts. I’m not a Mormon and I’m not really an outdoors person, at least when it comes to hunting and fishing and all that. I just think this town is a place I could have settled down and enjoyed a good life. Then I lost my radio job and it was over.

It wasn’t all that long ago (2001) when I did live here but it seems like a whole different lifetime now. I still have friends here and Jim Mickelson is one of them. He worked at the station I did and got fired a month after I did. His birthday is March 12 and mine is March 14. Other than being a Minnesota Vikings fan he’s a great guy and we’ve stayed in touch.

Jim is working part time at one of the other country stations in town and just squeaking by. His wife Kathy has an advertising agency and business is down in that industry just as it is in most others. They’ve hung in there and slugged it out but it’s a struggle to survive. Jim and I had breakfast today and talked about what we’re both going to do next in life.

Jim and Kathy have always been great supporters of mine and are just fantastic people. I spent Thanksgiving at their house one year and it was one of the best times I ever had. It’s people like them that made me want to live here. I bought a house and everything and that was the single stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Live and learn I guess and boy, did I ever.