Archive for October, 2009

One Slick Negotiator

October 31, 2009

Friday October 30th, 2009 – Cranberry, PA

No show tonight but I’m not bummed out about it. This is a slow week and I knew that when I took the gig. We did have eight people show up so it wasn’t a total loss, but that’s still a little light to do a show. Not to say some places wouldn’t make us do one though.

I’ve had to do shows for two people. More than once. One time I even had to do a show for ONE guy – and he was a heckler. No joke. In every case the club owner reasons if he’s paying us to do a show, we’re going to do one no matter what. This is another reason club owners get minimal support from comedians. That’s just plain stupid to make us do that.

Nobody wants to be there and it makes everyone look bad. I’ve had classy places pay us out and call it a night. It’s not our fault if people don’t show up. They’re really buying our time for the night, not necessarily our act. We were there, but the crowd wasn’t. Too bad.

On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of clubs try to add additional shows over the years. I don’t mind, but be fair. One time I was working somewhere and the guy decided he could add an extra show during the Christmas season, but he was going to pay us half our price.

In other words, we were scheduled for X number of shows that week for Y dollars and even though I was never good at math I think you can figure out the formula for how the pay scale worked out. Say it boiled down to $100 a show for the week. He would pay the $100 for the scheduled shows but only $50 for the added one. He assumed we’d all do it.

I was just the opener back then and I really wanted the extra cash. No, I needed it. The headliner was a guy named Gary Kern, one of my early mentors. Great guy, great comic, horrible businessman. Common story in entertainment. He said he’d do it but I could tell he wasn’t thrilled about it. He hung his head and shrugged his shoulders and that was it.

The feature that week was a guy named Kyle Nape, also a mentor. He and Gary did a lot of work together and that’s very smart. Kyle was a comedy magician and a perfect lead in opener for Gary, who was dry but absolutely hilarious. It was a very good blend of styles.

Both those guys liked me and saw me as not only an up and comer, but someone they’d not want to strangle after being in a car for twelve hours. We went all over the country for many wonderful weeks of work until I was ready to feature myself and that was it. Those guys were both very instrumental in me getting started and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Gary passed away of a heart attack many years ago at the age of 36. Kyle is no longer in the comedy business but I did hear from him only a few years ago. I thanked him for how he and Gary took me under both their wings and he joked how they’d made a big mistake.

Anyway, back to the story. Kyle absolutely refused to do the extra show for the guy that night unless he got his full pay. The club owner was furious and the louder he hollered at Kyle the softer Kyle spoke. It was as if he enjoyed watching the guy squirm. And he did.

The club owner was foaming at the mouth screaming about how there was going to be a room full of people in fifteen minutes and he needed to have comedians. Kyle said he had no problem doing an extra show, but only if it were for 100% of the price of the others for the week. Then he sat down and calmly started putting his magic tricks away in his case.

I must admit it was fun watching the owner’s face turn purple and the wheels turn in his devious head. Then he came to Gary and me, trying to convince us of his logic. He told us since we were already there the money would be a bonus, not a rip off as Kyle saw it. He tried to spin it as a positive and quite frankly I was ready to jump at it. I needed that cash.

Kyle picked up his case and said very calmly to the owner, “SO, what’s it going to be?” The owner looked out and saw a full room and told us he’d be right back. He went out to call the booker, which happened to be John Yoder of Funny Business. John spoke to Kyle and tried to convince him to do the extra show and just take the money, but Kyle said no.

There was a lot of tension backstage and at one point Gary just asked Kyle to please do it and take the found money. Kyle had worked in the corporate world in Toronto and told us how we’d all thank him after we got our full pay. Sure enough, at show time the owner slithered backstage and snarled in Kyle‘s face, “All RIGHT…you’ll get the full money.”

Kyle wasn’t finished. “ALL of us will get the full money?” The club owner was getting even more upset, and I didn’t think that was possible. “NO, just YOU.” Kyle wouldn’t let it go. “Sorry, we ALL are in this show together and we ALL need to get paid full price.”

By now the guy wanted to strangle Kyle but it was time to start the show and he gave in rather than see if Gary and I would do it without him. It was a good old fashioned pissing contest and Kyle just plain out-pissed the guy. From that day on, Kyle Nape was my hero.

We all discussed it the next day in the car, and Kyle said he refused to get treated LIKE an idiot, BY an idiot. He said he was prepared to walk away and that’s why he knew he’d get the money. The guy had a full room and needed us, even for only one night. Kyle said he wasn’t going to let the guy screw us and didn‘t care if he ever worked that place again.

How many others would have had the stones to do what Kyle did then? Not many. I was willing to take half the money and so was Gary. Not Kyle. I really learned a lot from both those guys, but Kyle was king when it came to off stage business. No wonder he’s now in the corporate world again. Even he couldn’t stand a steady diet of comedy club oil cans.

I know we’re not the only ones in entertainment to get screwed over though. Musicians, actors, strippers, you name it. Anyone who is in business as an entertainer has stories that make mine look like Sunday School lessons. Still, when it’s personal it hurts a lot more.

No worries about tonight though. I had a great day of solid work and even got in a walk. The weather was again perfect and I’m in a creative wavelength that’s cranking out really strong ideas like water. I’m moving ahead and having fun doing it. This is how I like it.

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Einstein Was Right

October 30, 2009

Thursday October 29th, 2009 – Pittsburgh, PA

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices, but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thought in clear form.” – Albert Einstein, quoted in  N.Y. Times, March 19, 1940.

I’ve always had an affinity for Albert Einstein, mainly because we share a birthday of March 14th. That may be the only thing we have in common, but this quote rings as true now as it did when I first heard it years ago. Translation: Idiots don’t grasp true vision.

That’s how I feel about this whole demented debacle with Giggles and Funny Business. I’m in a fantastic space in my head right now and who’d have thought a drive through the back woods of West Virginia would put me there? I wouldn’t have thought so, but it did.

Yesterday’s drive was way too long and hectic at the end, but today was completely the opposite. The weather was perfect so I decided to take U.S. Highway 19 out of Bluefield heading north toward Pittsburgh. I wound through the mountains and through a bunch of  secluded Mayberry like towns I’d never seen before. It put a whole new spin on all this.

Not ONE of those people cared about any bounced checks or knew I was a comedian or the fact I was on national TV this year or anything else other than my car is red. I waved to people as I passed and they waved back. Most of them smiled and there was nothing to be angry about. This tiny little flea fart doesn‘t mean jack in the big picture. I‘ll survive.

I was in a very creative mind space all day and stopped a few times to write down notes so I wouldn’t forget them. Trying to write on the steering wheel on those winding roads is a sure recipe for a fiery one car rollover. That would be a shame, because apparently I am aggravating some of the mediocre people with what I’m doing. I’m delighted to hear that.

I never set out to piss people off so much, but throughout my life I sure have succeeded. Those few I clash with usually hang on like pit bulls with lockjaw and that means I made a lasting impression on them. The best way to piss them off even more is to ignore them.

The wife of the Giggles owner is apparently telling anyone who’ll listen how evil I am. Good! She’s doing me a huge favor. Anyone that believes her will hopefully stay away so I can have more time for the quality people. I know a whole lot more of those anyway.

I don’t want to deal with these insects anymore. I got a bum check but that will pass in time. That guy has to wake up next to her every single morning, so I win in the long run.  She’s being a borderline stalker but I just delete all of her incessant emails and texts.

They’re the ones that started it by bouncing the check. NOT acceptable. Then the Funny Business wouldn’t fight for me and that’s wrong too. I’ve goofed many times but not this one. I’m glad to see I’ve managed to get under their skin. It’s about time somebody does.

I don’t wish anything bad on either of them, but I don’t have to. I think they will bring it upon themselves. Bouncing checks is THE cardinal sin in comedy and I’m not at all sorry I stood up for myself. They might not like how I did it but it sure captured some attention. I have special needs too – food, clothing and shelter. The comics need to be PAID. Period.

There’s an old joke I always loved. It says “How do you give an idiot a small business? Give him a large one and wait.” I see how Giggles and Comedy Café and Funny Business have shrunk over the years and it’s no surprise. I predict all three will continue to spiral.

The main reason is how they treat the comics. There is a complete lack of respect and I for one refuse to accept that from anyone who is clueless. None of them ever grasped the concept of what it takes to put on quality comedy shows and in a sense they’ve taken on a role of nothing short of pimps. We comedians are the whores, and we’re all disposable.

For years there was an endless supply of comedians on all levels who needed work from agencies and clubs like these. We’d take any and all abuse they might dish out, thinking it would somehow get us ‘in’ to get those gravy gigs, but that never seemed to materialize.

Instead, we’d get cancelled a week out because somebody like a Tommy Chong could be booked rather than us, and we’d be out of luck. No ‘Sorry’, no ‘Let me pay you for the inconvenience’, no NOTHING – just an empty week on the calendar with zero income.

These kinds of things happen over and over in the comedy world but I don’t think most outsiders really care. Then they wonder why a comic snaps at a heckler. Year after year of being treated like a soggy cat turd will sour almost anyone. I myself have reached a limit.

As I drove in the sunshine today it occurred to me what a favor Eric Yoder did by firing me. Thanks Buddy! Now I won’t have to secretly hope I’ll finally get paid back for all my years of loyalty and get to work a complete run of your rooms for decent money one after the other so I can clear out my financial backlog. Now I know I have to get on it myself.

I always knew it, but I think we as dented cans seem to hope there will be some random phone call from a booker who has treated us like mud for years, suddenly changing a tune that hasn’t changed in decades. It’s like expecting a Nazi to suddenly crave a matzoh ball.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way in the comedy world, but I am probably one of the few who’ll discuss it. I can’t shut my mouth about it and if I lose work, it’s not anything to build my career anyway. If I have to drive a truck, at least I’ll have my dignity and self esteem, and I’ll know my way around the country from all my years on the road.

We as comics will have to be entrepreneurial and book more of our own shows and just slide past these weasels. How hard can it be? I for one am not going to cower to whims of anyone I don’t respect, and if that means I get fired, I get fired. But, now they have a very experienced competitor who can not only do what they do, but BE the show as well. Let’s see who’s where a year from now. One club or booker does not a career quash. Game on!

Driving Myself Crazy

October 29, 2009

Wednesday October 28th, 2009 – Bluefield, WV

What an idiot I can be sometimes. Today was one of them. I accepted a gig in Bluefield, WV which is 714 miles from home. I’ve worked here before and should have known how far it is, but it’s been a while and I didn’t bother to look it up. I’ll surely not do that again.

There were several reasons why I did it. First, Halloween week is usually pretty slow in the comedy business. Everyone is at parties and I totally get that. I had this week open so I took this gig and strung it together with a weekend in Pittsburgh. In theory, it’s smart.

In reality, it’s a LONG drive for not enough of a payoff. In the old days there were a lot more one nighters to string together and I may have been able to put two or three stops on the tour before I got to Pittsburgh. Those are drying up quickly, and this is all I could find.

Now I have a night off to fill, at my own expense of course. My friend Darryl Rhoads is working in Ft. Wayne this week at a club called Snickerz. I haven’t been there in years so I thought I’d not only hang out with Darryl but also poke my head in and see about work.

Again, it didn’t seem that far but looking at it closer it’s 450 miles from here. Then it’s another 350 or so to get to Pittsburgh tomorrow. That’s too far and I admit in my old age I’m not nearly as bullet proof for driving as I used to be. I used to be able to grind it out.

The times are surely changing on all fronts. I’m getting older, the gigs are getting fewer, gas prices are getting higher and I’m getting tired of it all. The thrill is long gone and now it’s just a chore. I said years ago if it ever got to be like that I’d quit. Well, it’s like that. If I keep doing it so haphazardly. I’ll never get out of  this rut. It’s time to evolve gracefully.

I’ll never quit enjoying the stage time, but the drives are getting longer. I stopped to see my friend Greg Phelps in Indianapolis on the way here. He’s a former comic that’s moved on and started his own business. We talked about the road life and he said he doesn’t miss it at all. His family gets to see him and he’s got a daily routine. What’s so bad about that?

I guess everything has plusses and minuses but right now I wouldn’t mind having some routine in my life. I’ve seen the country and it’s beautiful but driving to Bluefield in a day doesn’t float my boat anymore. Even NASCAR drivers only have to drive for 500 miles.

Greg and I talked about my CD project because that’s what his business does. He helps design packages and arrange orders and is very good at it. I’ll use him in some capacity to do both my comedy CD and also the recorded version of my comedy classes. He’ll do the job and I also want to see him get the business because he’s a quality guy and deserves it.

I left Greg’s house and headed south on I-74 to Cincinnati. Then I went south on I-75 to Lexington, KY and east on I-64 to Charleston, WV. I didn’t need a map as I’ve driven all these roads many times before. I set the cruise control and popped in some tapes and used the time as a work day. I transformed my car into a mobile office and made the most of it.

I laid out all of the notes I’ve been making lately about my comedy classes and took the best ideas and wrote them on a legal pad. I came up with a skeleton outline of three levels of classes and I was very happy with the results. This will be a thorough teaching course.

I know I probably shouldn’t be writing when I’m driving but I put the legal pad right on the steering wheel and jot notes and catch phrases down as I watch the road. If I do crash head on into a pole at least I’ll die doing something I love. The notes can be saved also.

As I was driving east on I-64, Kentucky became West Virginia and I passed through the town of Huntington. That’s the home town of Soupy Sales, who passed away last week. It reminded me of the week we worked together in Reno when I lived there. He was a trip.

I don’t think younger people realize what a huge star he was in his day. We were sitting in a restaurant at the Reno Hilton where we were working when an older lady came up to Soupy and asked for an autograph. She was shaking with nervousness but Soupy signed a placemat and she just about jumped out of her orthopedic shoes. He made her whole year.

I liked working with Soupy because I’m a student of the game and knew how much of a star he was in his day. He could sense I knew what I was talking about and his wife Trudy told me all week how much Soupy liked me and would laugh while I was on stage. What a sweetheart she was and probably still is. When I heard he’d passed I felt sad for her.

At the end of the week we worked together Soupy asked me if I’d work a benefit show he did every year in Huntington. I told him I would if I was available and Trudy contacted me a couple of times over the years but I was never able to do it. I’m sorry that I wasn’t.

Life is short and then it’s over. Soupy’s life came and went and mine will too. Whether or not I’m a big star doesn’t matter. It’s about doing what pleases ME. It used to be going from town to town doing comedy and seeing the country. Now I’ve seen it. That part isn’t the fun adventure it used to be so it’s time to revamp my plan. I’m the one in charge here.

When I got to Charleston there was a horrific accident and traffic was completely halted on I-77. That wasn’t what I needed and I called the Holiday Inn and told them it would be a close call. If I was lucky, I’d make it just at show time. If not, I’d keep them posted as to where I was and we’d go from there. I could feel the stress coming on and I dreaded it.

I inched through the accident scene and it took WAY too long. I then had to haul ass on I-77, which is a mountainous curvy toll road with all kinds of twist and turns. It was like a big video game as I raced at top speed to get to Bluefield, and I made it about an hour late only to find sixteen people sitting in the hotel lounge, calmly watching the World Series.

Nobody cared if I was there or not. The bar manager Lori Bailey is a sweetie and I know her from last time I was here. She was glad I made it safely and wasn’t angry at all. There is no opening act anymore and they just have one comedian. I had to go up and do my set to sixteen people just after driving over 700 miles. This isn’t what I thought life would be.

Monday Maintenance

October 27, 2009

Monday October 26th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

For the first time in a long time, I had an entire Monday off. No comedy classes to teach or showcases to host at Zanies, no lunches scheduled with comedians or bookers or ladies I like, no trip into Chicago to pick up my mail. Nothing. Instead I used the day to continue pushing forward to keep momentum going. My battle with time management never quits.

I enjoy teaching and hosting and lunching and hanging out but it did feel good to relax a little. Between the travel to weekend comedy shows and preparing for two radio shows, it can all be an energy drain. Then, having to come right back on Monday can be too much.

My walking at the mall is getting to be a regular activity, but not yet habit. I’ll start for a while and then stop for whatever reason, usually because I’m on the road. I’m booked for the next two weeks so it will be a challenge to keep up. I’ve been doing well lately though and today I did four laps for the first time ever. I was toast by the end but I did get it done.

I listened to Brian Tracy the first two laps but the second two I used to visualize what is really important to me. I pictured myself on stage in a theatre getting big laughs and being connected with the audience like I was in Minnesota last week. I also pictured myself in a class situation where there’s a room full of people having fun and learning about comedy.

I pictured myself surrounded by friends and even a family. I visualized my money being plentiful and owing no bills and having no tax problems. I pictured my sports cards not in my life anymore and there being a deal made that both parties find fair and appealing so it isn’t painful. It takes effort to focus on a vivid picture but taking laps is the time to do it.

I’m trying to compartmentalize my projects and I worked on that today as I watched the Monday Night Football game. I can’t remember the last Monday night game I was able to just sit and watch and it felt good, even though it wasn’t a great game. Still, I enjoyed it. It was a lesson to see the Redskins go down in flames even though their owner is mega rich.

The lesson is, money is important but not the only thing. There has to be some kind of a plan in place and it has to be executed. Gramps was right, it really is a matter of balancing everything in life and most people aren’t able to achieve it. I’m trying to be one of the few who at least make a valiant attempt. I can feel myself doing a lot of the right things lately.

There are still a lot more to do though. I tried to put a picture in my mind of how I want things to go in the next year or so. I made notes on a legal pad and the next step will be to make three ring binders and have step by step ‘to do’ lists for my comedy career, classes, Jerry’s Kidders, the Mothership Connection show, Uranus Factory Outlet and life itself.

That might not be how everyone else works, but as for me I need to see it written down in order and have it right in front of me to check often. I need to start writing down goals for the following day the night before and also make weekly and monthly times to plan in advance the following weeks and months. I used my day off wisely and I‘m thrilled I did.

From Sink To Sync

October 26, 2009

Sunday October 25th, 2009 – Minneapolis, MN/Kenosha, WI

Another fantastic day for many reasons. First, it was totally worth driving all the way to Minnesota for just the one show last night. I’ve always liked the Twin Cities but have not been able to find a steady work base up there over the years. I’ve worked sporadically for various clubs and bookers but they’ve all either closed their club, sold it or passed away.

Now that my foot is in the door, I am absolutely going to pursue it. It’s a super comedy town and always has been. There are quite a few successful comedians who have made an impact in the business that started up there including Louie Anderson and Mitch Hedberg and Tom Arnold, even though Tom was from Iowa originally. He moved to Minneapolis.

So did Jeff Cesario, a fantastic comedian and great guy who is originally from Kenosha, WI. I asked Jeff why he didn’t go to Chicago and he thought Minneapolis was a better fit at the time because it had a better scene for standup. In retrospect, he was absolutely right.

Joel Hodgson is another brilliant act who came out of Minneapolis. He was the original Mystery Science Theatre guy and very highly touted as I was coming up the ranks. I never met him but I’ve heard nothing but nice things and his work is respected by virtually all. I hear he’s writing for Disney now and I’d bet he’s earning some hefty coin. Good for him.

At this stage in my career I have to choose markets I can develop fans, not just take any gig in a random hell hole to patch monthly money holes. No more holes, at least not on a steady basis. I’m done with that now. The whole Giggles nightmare totally soured me.

Speaking of that, I talked with Tim Walkoe today. He’s a Chicago comic who was to be at Giggles this week but he ended up cancelling after he heard checks were bouncing. He asked for cash up front and apparently they wouldn’t give it to him so he backed out. I’m sorry he lost a week but glad he didn’t have to ski through the slalom of stupidity I did.

What really hurts is he was scheduled to be paid $200 more than I was. Tim is hilarious and I don’t begrudge him the money, but it hurt that the booker and the owner would have a sliding pay scale. And if they did, it hurt even more that I wasn’t at the top of it. I’m one of the strongest acts by far they booked and have given the club free radio plugs for years.

I also talked to John Roy and he’s scheduled to make even more than Tim. Again, I like John and think he’s not only very funny but an excellent business person, but it stings that I have been getting slighted on their pay scale. Their view of me was lower than I thought and it‘s a kick in the ass. Don‘t they know we comedians talk? Word gets out eventually.

I refuse to let this get me down though. I’m going to choose to use it as a lesson to make me get paid more in the future. As frustrating and humiliating as the whole Giggles fiasco may have been, it was the polar opposite last night at the Running Aces gig. Those people were there to see a show and I was right in their wheelhouse. There are THOUSANDS of people like that in Minnesota and MILLIONS in North America. I want to find them all.

It may have taken me way too long to do it, but I’m finally starting to get a grasp of the business part of the entertainment business. I’m seeing it in a whole new way, but it took a variety of sodomizations over a quarter of a century to open my eyes. Part of it was my own naivety but another part was just being lazy. I assumed things would just ‘work out’.

How wrong I was, but I’m not going to allow myself to get angry about it. It was all part of the process of paying dues, and not only will I learn my lessons well, I’ll use all this for teaching purposes in the future. My comedy classes will have some business lessons also.

Part of what put me in such a good space is that I’ve been packing my head with quality audio programs lately. I’m not saying I’m ‘cured’ and won’t get angry again, but I do feel myself changing my thinking process and it’s helping me feel better. My focus is healthy.

Rather than thinking about how deeply I can bury a blunt instrument into a club owner’s skull, I’m thinking of ways to build mailing lists and get in with new venues and basically reinvent myself. That’s smart and healthy and if I do that it will take my mind off anger.

I used the drive back for more education and growth. There was a Jiffy Lube right next to the hotel so I had them change both my oil and my blown headlight. The Vikings were playing so there was nobody in the joint and I got pampered service. It worked out exactly how it was supposed to and that’s where I want to remain. I feel in sync with the universe.

On the way home I re-listened to most of an audio course by E. Joseph Cossman, a mail order business legend. If there was an entrepreneurial Hall of Fame, he’d be in it. He died several years ago but my own mail order mentor Melvin Powers speaks with reverence on how brilliant E. Joseph Cossman was. It is my desire to follow in both of their footsteps.

They’re both solid business people and made millions working smartly and efficiently. I have done exactly the opposite and judging by where it’s gotten me, I need to completely change my tactics or resolve myself to a life of poverty. That’s not what I’m looking for.

Seven hours in the car flew by as I popped tape after tape in my cassette player and tried to take notes as I drove. I got so into it I didn’t even listen to the Packer game. It felt a lot better to pack my head with business smarts so I kept that vibe going and I’m glad I made that conscious choice. A Packer game lasts for an afternoon. Success lasts for a lifetime.

I want this diary to be a how to guide for other dented cans who aren’t satisfied with the hand they were dealt in life. There are some things I’ll never have no matter how famous or rich I get, but that’s not the point here. I know nothing will make up for a lack of what I think I missed out on in life, but having money and influence will help me help others.

I made it to the WLIP studio about five minutes before the Mothership Connection was to go on the air. I usually hate to cut it that close but I was feeling so good I knew I would make it, and I did. Those three hours flew by too. We had a super guest and again all of it was in sync, exactly how it should be. I’m not finished, but I sure am making big strides.

Minnesota Nice

October 25, 2009

Saturday October 24th, 2009 – Minneapolis, MN

Now THIS is how I picture comedy is supposed to be. I worked a really fun show at the Running Aces Harness Track just outside Minneapolis tonight and enjoyed every bit of it. The whole experience was top shelf and it gave me hope there are people with a clue after all. Everything from the venue itself to the audience to the other comics were excellent.

I’ve had this show on the books for a while and didn’t really know what to expect. Most casino shows aren’t that great unfortunately, even though everything else usually is. They almost always come with above average accommodations and a meal coupon, but the gig itself is usually free for the customers and they don’t pay attention to the show. Not here.

This was exactly the opposite. They charged $15 a ticket and the people kept coming in right up to show time. They must have had over 200 people in a beautiful room with a hot sound system that could be heard everywhere. These people came to laugh and they were a spectacular audience. I did just under an hour but time flew because it was such a blast.

The other comedians were newer but very nice and we all got along very well. We were a good fit and there were no problems or clashes with material or anything like that. Wild Bill Bauer is a Minneapolis comic who also co-booked the show and he came out and did a few minutes to get things going before bringing up the host. That was a nice addition.

Like I said, EVERYTHING about this show was right. They put me in a Country Inn & Suites which was not only very nice, but close to the gig as well. Within thirty seconds of walking in the door at the show I had my check from Bill and it was the same pay I had to fight for from Giggles for doing an entire week of brutal shows with a filthy opening act.

After the show I had people lining up to tell me how much they enjoyed it and I finally remembered to bring along cards to pass out so I can get a mailing list going. Three single hottie women begged to get a picture with me and we hung out for a while and then all of the comics went to get something to eat at the casino restaurant. It was like the old days.

To top it all off the special tonight was twin lobster tails and I had to pull the trigger on that. It seemed like a fitting end to a spectacular night and we all sat around talking about comedy, but in a good way. The other guys were young and eager to learn and didn’t have any axes to grind…yet. I told them to stay that way if they could. It’s not that easy to do.

This wasn’t a day to piss and moan about anything. I have a headlight out on my car but that can wait. With all the doom and gloom in the comedy business lately I wanted to take in every bit of positive energy I could about today. The show was killer, the comedians on it were very nice guys, the hotel was really good, I wish every gig would work like this.

There’s really no reason they shouldn’t, other than people who aren’t comedians run the booking end of it. Wild Bill Bauer and his partner Rox Tarrant are both comics so they’re on top of it and I’d work for them anytime. This was totally worth it and I’m glad I came.

Son Of A Glitch

October 24, 2009

Friday October 23rd, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

Just when I thought I was starting to get a teeny tiny itsy bitsy wee little half a smidgen of momentum going in the pursuit of my dreams, BANG – here comes the old unexpected shot in the dark mystery glitch out of nowhere to throw me off course and into the ditch.

I’ve been making healthy progress on my new CD project lately. Donna Gurda has been working on the actual recording master and should have a finished product soon from the sound engineer she’s been using for years. I’ll get billed fairly and I know it’ll sound good too. Donna knows what she’s doing and between the two they’ll make sure it’s not a dud.

Today I talked with my friend Greg Phelps in Indianapolis. He’s a former comedian but has started his own business duplicating CD projects. He got off the road to spend time at home with his family and I never fault a guy for that. He’s the guy I want to have help me because I’ve known him over twenty years. I know he’s honest and knows entertainment.

Greg and I went back and forth for about a half an hour exchanging ideas of what we’re each thinking the project will be. He’s got practical experience in printing all kinds of CD projects and I wanted to see if there were any new gimmicks I could use to get noticed.

I spent an extra chunk of money on my last one because I wanted it to look professional, which it did. That was a few years ago and I had a financial cushion because I had my job at the Loop. I had the cash so I did it up right. I invested in myself and I’m very glad I did.

I don’t have that luxury now but I’ll still find a way to make it the absolute best looking and sounding product I can for whatever money I can scrape together. I know both Donna and Greg will work with me and I’ll pay them both back many times over. I appreciate the help and I’d do the same for both of them and they know it. This will be a shoestring job.

The one thing I wasn’t worried about was the cover art. Of course, that’s the part that is turning out to be the glitch. I received a phone call tonight from Pedro Bell, asking if I’d received the final copy of my artwork yet. I told him I hadn’t, and he sounded quite upset.

I’d been dealing with an assistant of his and apparently they’ve just had a major falling out eerily similar to the one I had with my ex business partner. Pedro sounded like he was near tears at first, but then explained that he needs to use assistants because he has health issues that affect his vision. I’d heard he did, but I was still thrilled to be able to hire him.

The person I dealt with kept putting off the final product, saying it would be ‘done very soon’. I assumed Pedro was either busy or in ill health and I didn’t complain about it. It’s always been my dream to have him do a cover for me so I figured waiting was worth it.

Apparently the assistant told Pedro the work was finished and that’s why Pedro was so upset. He was very apologetic and said he didn’t do business ‘that way’ and I believe him. I’d always heard he was an honest guy and I told him not to worry about it. We’ll fix it.

James Wesley Jackson used to open for Funkadelic and he’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. James knew Pedro very well and swears by him and that’s good enough for me. If James says someone’s ok, that’s all I need to hear. Still, the timing is unbelievable.

Pedro said my project and another one he was working on got affected by this mess. He told me the story of how he found out and it was way too similar to mine. He said he had to fire the guy and end a business relationship that went back going on thirty years. He is rightfully upset and I told him I could unfortunately relate, but that doesn’t make it better.

I really feel bad for the guy. I’ve enjoyed his artwork since I was a kid in the ‘70s and to hear he got hosed by a business partner just frosts my ass to no end. I met him at the show when Funkadelic was in town and he is NOT a millionaire. Far from it. He works hard to make a living and apparently the guy who ripped him off has a well paying cushy job.

There isn’t much I can do about any of this other than wait for the dust to settle. Pedro’s health requires he has an assistant and I have to wait until he gets a new one in place. I am still hoping to get the CD out soon, but it won’t be Friday November 13th like I’d hoped.

Welcome to life, business, show business, whatever you want to pin this on. People just do what they do, and it stinks. I still don’t think my ex partner thinks he did a single thing wrong. In his mind, he ‘borrowed’ a ‘few bucks‘, and I ‘overreacted’. I’m still pissed now but that won’t bring the rest of the money back. Pedro and I both have to keep slugging.

I’ll get the artwork when the time is right. Pedro apologized several times and we talked for almost an hour. I wish we could have spoken under better circumstances because I am such a huge fan of his work. Anyone who knows Funkadelic album covers knows who he is, and even though most of my fans probably don’t, I couldn’t care less. It’s a huge thrill.

At least I did see the black and white sketch and it’s really fantastic. I told Pedro I loved it and he was glad to hear that. He was worried I’d be angry, but far from it. I knew he did his part, it was apparently the other guy who was supposed to finish the colorization part.

This will get fixed and I’ll release the CD and nobody will know the difference. I’m still in a good mental place and today I tried to practice more balance. Gramps would be proud of me because I’m putting in solid effort lately and even I can feel progress. I’m growing.

I had another lunch with Marc Schultz today and that’s always positive. He’s getting an interest from my Late Late Show DVD and thinks I will be getting more work in the new year. That’s great news and after lunch I went to the Gurnee Mills Mall to keep walking.

I did three full laps today and I was exhausted at the end, but also exhilarated. I listened to a Brian Tracy CD and I always enjoy his programs. He spoke about putting big picture type business plans in place for an individual life and it was really interesting. It’s a much more productive walk when I have stuff like that soaking into my brain. I’m glad I started doing it. I’ll be able to work my way through this latest glitch, but it sure was unexpected.

The One Word Secret

October 23, 2009

Thursday October 22nd, 2009 – Mt. Prospect, IL/Naperville, IL

One of the greatest books that’s ever helped me figure out the mysteries of life the most  was written by of all people my grandfather. It’s jam packed with wisdom and humor and all kinds of great stories, and there’s a healthy dose of reality in it too. It’s a true classic.

It was written with love and every chapter has a well thought out purpose. It’s not fancy or long, but it does have quite a few vivid pictures and a bittersweet ending. The sad parts are a downer but the happy parts by far make up for it. I refer back to it every single day.

Gramps never actually published his book but he did write the manuscript in an unusual place – inside my heart. He spent quality time with me for years, planting seeds, knowing I wasn’t yet ready for most of what he was saying. Those seeds sprouted and are now full grown healthy fruit bearing trees that have sustained me through some very tough times.

I’m not claiming to be free of mistakes, but I know Gramps helped me make the best of my life’s circumstances. He opened doors in my head that would’ve been shut forever had it not been for him making a point of passing on a few tips he’d acquired on his journey.

I was thinking of one of his wisest teachings today. He told me the one magic word that is the true secret to success in any life is balance. Balancing everything is no easy task and Gramps used to say very few if anyone ever manages to do it. If one thing gets going well, everything else is left undone. Then when that gets attention, the original thing unravels.

It sort of made sense as a kid, but it couldn’t be clearer now. If someone devotes time to career, family life struggles. Vice versa is also true. It’s true all around. If someone works out physically but doesn‘t read, the brain rots. Everything requires time and energy and if anyone spends too much time on any one thing it throws that life out of delicate balance.

I tried for balance today in honor of Gramps. I went to my accountant to sign my return, but at least taxes are done for another year. I’ll actually be getting a couple of bucks back so it wasn’t horrible, but I really need to get better at this so I can avoid a hassle next year.

After that I went to see my friend Todd Hunt speak to a group in Naperville, IL. He was excellent and I learned by watching. Then we went for lunch to further discuss how to get a marketing plan in place. I wanted to pick Todd’s brain after seeing him work, and I did.

Tonight I sorted some sports cards and kept that plate spinning, even though I want the whole load of them gone ASAP. If I let them sit, it won’t get them out of my life. I really need to chip away at it until I sort them all into categories, then get the best price I can.

I also worked for a while on booking guests for The Mothership Connection radio show and also looked at my own bookings for the new year. Then I looked over my class lesson plans and banged out some work on that too. I heard from a woman I really like so I spent time talking to her. Oh, I got my walk in too. Gramps was right, balance is no easy task.

The Esoteric Agenda

October 22, 2009

Wednesday October 21st, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

Someone I know turned me on to an internet film called ‘The Esoteric Agenda’ recently and I finally got some time today to watch it. It’s the same person who told me about ‘The Zeitgeist Movement’ and I found that to be interesting also. If you get a chance to watch it you may find it either fascinating or repulsive but that’s your call. It’s at http://www.veoh.com.

I really don’t know what to believe anymore. Since I’ve started hosting The Mothership Connection radio show I’ve been delving more into these kinds of topics for the show but I’ve always had an interest in them, even as a kid. There has to be more than just this little bitty speck of a planet we’re on and even that seems to be too much for humans to handle.

The Esoteric Agenda covers everything from religions to conspiracies to that one world government I’ve been hearing about since I was a kid. That seems to be more and more a distinct possibility with every passing day and nobody seems to think the future is bright.

What the hell is happening around us? Is there really a group of elite ultra rich that has a plan to wipe out 90% of the current world’s population? Is the Swine Flu all a big hoax to dupe us into taking the vaccine, which will do more to hurt us than help us? Is everything a big sham, including the government and the Federal Reserve System? Many think so.

It sure is hard to be funny when I keep seeing things like this everywhere I look. I get all kinds of things forwarded to me and I’m getting burned out on looking at them because it paints a picture of doom and gloom. I think I’m starting to see why so many people drink.

Still, I wonder what the real truth is? One person I think does an excellent job of getting his points across and informing people is David Icke. His website is http://www.davidicke.com and he’s got several fascinating books and videos that really put a new light on all of this. People thought he was a wackadoo for years but now he’s proving to be right on target.

Global conspiracies and mind control and the New World Order aren’t what I hoped my life would involve at this juncture but I guess it’s unavoidable. Look how much the world has changed in the past twenty years alone. My grandfather died in 1981 and I don’t think he’d recognize the place if he came back today. We’ve seen dramatic changes since then.

I for one am not liking what I’m seeing in the world. I see too many innocent people not getting what they need and that’s just plain wrong. When greed rules, those in charge take everything for themselves and leave everyone else to twist in the wind. Does it have to be that way? Am I that naïve to think there’s enough of everything in the universe for us all?

Seeing all of this insanity going on makes me feel totally insignificant. All I ever wanted was to get some laughs and make people happy for a while. I don’t want wars or religious oppression or government tyranny or anything like that. I want fun. What planet has that? Peace would be nice too. Justice for everyone couldn’t hurt either, could it? I’m sure glad this life eventually ends, because at some point I hope to end up in a place I fit in better.

Hard Luck Jollies

October 21, 2009

Tuesday October 20th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

It’s time for a new CD. I recorded a whole week of shows at Zanies in Chicago in 2007 and I tried to do every scrap of material I’d ever done so I’d have variety to choose from. I was hoping to cut it up into two, maybe three separate products but it hasn‘t been done.

At the time I was still working with my business partner and he arranged the recording project by hiring a sound engineer to come in and plug into the system at Zanies. The first couple of shows didn’t thrill anyone as I remember but the weekend shows were all solid.

The last thing I enjoy doing is watching or listening to myself. I never did. I heard it as I did it and that’s enough for me. Rodney Dangerfield said he didn’t like it either because if he made even one little mistake that’s what he’d focus on, not everything that went right.

I can relate to that very much. If I don’t like it I’ll want to do it over and maybe I’ll do it differently and not make it as good as the original take. I like to think I have good instinct and know what I’m doing on stage so I just leave it at that. I heard them laugh. It worked.

This project has been on hold since my business partner pulled his little embezzlement stunt right at the time when we were going to start releasing products every six months or so. That was the plan but the plan got put on hold. Until now. I can use something to sell.

I released my first CD back in 2003. It doesn’t seem like that long ago but it was. It was recorded in Louisville, KY but I sold the rights to it to Laughing Hyena Records, the guys who put out the truck stop comedy recordings where Jeff Foxworthy first got noticed. I’ve been without product to sell because they now hold all the rights to that particular project.

The deal was they hold ownership to the recording, but not the actual material. I am free to record it again so that’s what I did. I switched the order on some of the bits and made a few better and eliminated others. I made significant progress in the years since Louisville.

Now I have to get something out to show for it. Donna Gurda is helping me finish it and she understands the process as she produced Tom Green’s music projects for years. She is very good at details and I’m not but her mother’s been sick and that delayed this project.

Her mom passed away and now she’s ready to get going again. I also have the cover art I hired Pedro Bell to do, who was the artist on many of Funkadelic and George Clinton’s CD projects in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. That alone was a thrill and I can’t wait to see it all come together as a finished product. It’ll be better than the last one and that didn’t suck.

The last one was called ‘Lucked, Plucked, and Just Plain…Funny’. I’m going to call the new one ‘Hard Luck Jollies’, as a tribute to Funkadelic’s ‘Hardcore Jollies’. I asked Pedro Bell to model it after the original artwork and he absolutely nailed it. He did a spectacular job and those who know the original will be blown away. I was. For those who don’t have a clue of who Funkadelic is, it’s still very unique and will stand out. It’s time to release it.