From Sink To Sync

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.

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