Archive for October, 2009

Heads Up For Hannibal

October 20, 2009

Monday October 19th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

I took three laps in the Gurnee Mills mall this morning and I felt like I’d conquered Mt. Everest. I was worn out at the end, but the feeling of accomplishment was worth it. I also felt the blood pumping and the sweat flowing and the soreness in my legs. It was all good.

I added a new twist today. I brought a Discman CD player and listened to a program by Wayne Dyer called “Secrets Of The Power Of Intention” as I walked. I love Wayne Dyer. His programs always make me think and this is one of his best. It has a lot of solid points.

One of the things the program talks about is how important it is for everyone to work on being a creative being and tapping into that force which is inside of all of us. It spoke very loudly to me and it was the exact thing I needed to hear right now. I tried to soak it all in.

Most self help programs boil down to a few basic points. The main one is, the mind is a powerful entity and we are in control of ours if we choose to be. Great things have gotten accomplished when people have chosen to use their minds to attain whatever they desire.

Another main point is that the Law of Attraction really works. We get what we focus on because our mind attracts what we think about. Too many people, myself included, aren’t where they want to be because they don’t do the proper things it takes to achieve the goal.

Worse than that, most people don’t have any goals at all. Then they bitch and moan that life isn’t what they want it to be. I’ve been guilty of that myself but who hasn’t? Listening to audio programs won’t guarantee success but filling my mind with thoughts like this is a great way to get it kick started to DO something. I’m finally starting to take action on this.

Meeting with the people I’ve been meeting with has been totally positive. I choose only those I think have the best potential for making win/win situations and today I had dinner with Bill Gorgo. He’s a real teacher by day but also a life long comedy student, as am I.

After dinner we sat down and went over each lesson and he helped me divide it up into order of importance. His teaching experience helped me organize and it was productive to bounce ideas off of him. This is how to get better and I can feel improvement everywhere. This might be taking longer than I thought, but I’m finally making a plan and executing it.

I hosted the showcase at Zanies in Chicago and it was another red hot show. The crowd and lineup of comics were both on and that’s always a pleasure. Hannibal Burress was on the show and this kid has nothing but talent. He’s 26 and WAY farther along than I was at that age. He lives in New York now and is doing all the right things. I predict a big career.

The kid has a natural gift and is working hard at developing it. That’s rare. Usually only one prevails – a gift or work ethic. One without the other is wasted. Hannibal has a shot to really be huge, and you heard it here first. His website is http://www.hannibalhannibal.com. If I had to pick one kid to watch, he’d be it. Get on his bandwagon and tell him I sent you.

Team Dynamics

October 19, 2009

Sunday October 18th, 2009 – Kenosha, WI

Green Bay Packers win, Chicago Bears lose. Any time that happens it’s a splendiferous day in my world. I’m ashamed to admit that I feel that way, but I do. I’m a Packer fan for life and no matter how much I say I don’t care about who wins or loses, I know I‘m lying. I wish I could just turn off that switch inside me but I can’t find the fuse box. I’m hooked.

The Packers weren’t shown in the Chicago market so I took that as a sign to keep going on my projects and get something productive done instead. Sitting around for three hours shouting obscenities at a TV isn’t going to get me anywhere but a mental health facility.

I don’t have to watch the games anymore, I just want to know the outcome. This wasn’t a marquee match up and in fact I heard it was an ugly game, even though the Packers won 26-0. They played the Detroit Lions who were riddled with injury. That’s like getting into a fist fight at a nursing home. A victory doesn’t mean much but it feels good to kick ass.

I’m interested in kicking ass with a purpose. Life is a much tougher opponent than some old croaker in a convalescent center and I have to deal with getting hit back. Hard. I don’t have three hours on a Sunday to waste watching football right now so I’ll use that time to better myself while most of the rest of America is rotting on a couch in a pigskin trance.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy that and won’t be doing it in the future, but for now it’s more important to keep the positive momentum going. Step by step I’m starting to get my battle plan together and am surrounding myself with the most skilled people I can think of to team up with in every area so I can make a team that gets us all where we want to go.

I’ve got Marc Schultz in place for handling corporate bookings. I’ve got Jerry’s Kidders to give me something fun to be part of on the radio, as well as the Mothership Connection on WLIP in Kenosha, WI. Those are two teams of outstanding people that make me show up every week just because I enjoy their company. I‘m laying the foundation for success.

I’ve got Todd Hunt to help me with a promotional campaign and Vince Vieceli to help align my lesson plans with classes and one by one I’m putting people in place that have a special knack for whatever particular facet I need to develop. Shelley handles my web site but she’s working full time now so I’ve got some others lined up to help out in that area.

I’m working on finding people for all areas. Bill Gorgo is helping me with classes and it fits perfectly. He’s funny, knows what he’s talking about and we get along great. Zanies is still booking me and lets me do pretty much whatever I want when it comes to teaching at their locations so I’ve got a great base of operations in Chicago. There are some positives.

I’m also weeding out the leakers. The numbers game of life is such that if I run across a weenie I really don’t have to have any interaction with him or her very long. I can choose to go around them or ignore them but I don’t have to let them bother me like they used to. That alone is an empowering concept. Why waste time on imbeciles without any vision?

Me? A Writer?

October 18, 2009

Saturday October 17th, 2009 – Chicago, IL/Crystal Lake, IL

I’m starting to put a few positive days together in a row and that’s how a successful life is built. One good day hopefully leads to another and another and before long winning has become a habit. The off days will be the exception rather than the rule and then hopefully the tide will turn right back to the good side again. I’ve been making wise choices lately.

Getting the tax stuff moving was a smart decision and I followed it up by starting to get the giant monkey of sports cards off my back by starting to get them ready for sale. That’s exactly what I need to do at this time in my life and move past a mistake I made without it festering and becoming worse. I took a calculated risk and it didn’t pan out. That’s life.

Today I kept the ball rolling and put more nickels into the cosmic slot machine. We had a lot of fun on our Jerry’s Kidders segment on WGN and received positive feedback from several sources. People in the building like us and we get complimented in the halls a lot.

It’s very flattering to be treated like that in one of the biggest radio stations in the world but I never get cocky because Jerry says we get hate mail every week. WGN has long had a reputation for having an audience so old they remember when radio wasn’t and they are trying to remedy that and move into the 21st century. To be hated by some is a good sign.

I don’t read that hate mail, just as I didn’t read the psychotic ramblings of Mrs. Giggles owner through this whole unpleasant series of events. Pushing delete is much easier and it doesn’t get my shorts up in a bundle. Those small time criminals are out of my life and it doesn’t bother me in the least. They’ve motivated me to take my life to a far higher level.

I thank them for treating me as poorly as they did because I guess I needed that big of an incentive to chase a higher goal. Most comedians take a lot of abuse partly because we’ve become used to it over the years and just grow to accept it. I’d like to think I’m able to get better work at better places for better pay and now is my opportunity to prove I’m right.

Tonight I met with Vince Vieceli to go over the nuts and bolts of the lesson plans of my comedy class. Just as Todd Hunt is the best self promoter I know, Vince is the best editor of copy. He really knows his stuff and absolutely shines when it comes to anything that is associated with the English language. I’m aligning myself with the best people I can find.

Vince had a lot of valuable input not only with my copy structure but also in turning me on to some people that are doing really well in their own world like David Sedaris. I knew the name but never really followed his work very closely. Stupid me. He’s got a following that comes to hear him read his essays out loud and has become an industry unto himself.

What it all boils down to is marketing. David Sedaris did something nobody in his field was doing and it caught on big time. He was a trendsetter. No matter if anyone else took a similar path, he’s looked at as the standard. Rush Limbaugh is the same thing. Whatever a person thinks of him personally doesn’t matter. Rush did what he did first and did it best.

That’s totally what I’m looking to do with whatever it is I’m doing. I’ve got experience in many areas of entertainment and I know there’s a niche for me somewhere, or at least I really believe that. That’s half the battle. If I didn’t believe it I’d just quit and drive a bus.

The whole idea of this diary was to practice my writing on a daily basis and document a comedian’s life on the road so future generations of aspiring performers can hopefully see they’re not the only ones that struggle. I wanted to be an inspiration to fellow dented cans but also be entertaining to the average reader if possible. I’m just cataloging my thoughts.

Lots of people have kept diaries from Anne Frank to Jim Bouton to David Sedaris and I remember hearing somewhere a quote that said “A life worth living is a life worth writing about” or something pretty close to that. Those three are about as different as three people can get and my life is completely different from theirs too. I need to find a core audience.

David Sedaris apparently did. Vince Vieceli works at a book store and is a big fan of his books. He said they sell well and are funny. I trust Vince’s opinion and I’ll check him out to see what I can learn. Dave Barry is another guy I never explored. I’ve seen all kinds of books by him in stores but he’s never been on my radar. Until now. I’ll study him as well.

Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four” was the inspiration for me starting this project. I read it in high school and absolutely loved it. I still do. He talks about what it’s really like to be a baseball player and describes it honestly. That’s what I want to do about being in comedy. It’s not always fun and it’s surely not glamorous and I hope I can capture that for readers.

I really don’t look at myself as a writer but I think that has to change. I may not be good at it, but at least I’m consistent. I do it every single day and have for several years now. If nothing else I’d like to think I’m getting at least getting a little better by now and if I ever was asked to show samples of what I’ve written I’ve got a whole archive to choose from.

Sometimes people ask me why my diary isn’t funny and I tell them it’s not supposed to be funny, at least not all the time. I write about what I’m feeling or what’s going on in my life and like with everyone, that’s all over the place. Comedians are human beings and we all have many emotions to deal with as life unfolds. Funny is only part of that equation.

If nothing else, at least what I write is honest. I open my soul and let whatever is inside leak through my fingers onto the keyboard. To me that’s what real writing is, so I guess I am a writer after all even though I never saw myself as one before. I did it as an exercise.

Vince really opened up my eyes to a whole new universe. He’s a smart guy and loves to write humorous essays himself. In fact, I’d say he considers himself a writer who happens to do standup comedy. I’m the exact opposite. I always considered myself a comic first.

Maybe I’m a writer in there somewhere too. The same brain process goes into writing a joke as goes into writing a funny essay or article or book of such things. I think it‘s how it gets presented. This could help me find a whole new audience and that’s what I can use.

Dealing The Cards

October 18, 2009

Friday October 16th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

My personal boot camp continues. Today I started getting my sports cards ready to sell and that’s going to be a major project. I bought out several collections in the last couple of years and I have way more inventory than I need or want right now. It was a mistake.

Things were different when I bought them and I had planned to hang on to them for at least a while and maybe do some card shows while on the road doing comedy shows. It’s a wonderful idea on paper but in the real world it’s not going to work out that way at all.

I’m not the first person to make a large stupid purchase and I won’t be the last. One of the best ones I ever heard of was from my friend Rick Geiser who does publicity work for Zanies and other people too. He’s helped me many times over the years and I’m grateful.

When I was on a morning radio show in Salt Lake City, Rick sent me a press release of a book written by a friend of his called ‘101 Uses For A Dead Cat’ or something like that. If that’s not the exact title it’s close enough to get across the point of what kind of product he was promoting. I thought I owed Rick a favor so I agreed to put the author on the air.

Actually he was a fine interview and we had fun with it. I can usually milk a few laughs out of a radio guest if they are at all engaging and this guy was as I remember. It felt good to help both Rick and the guy out but Rick told me later the guy’s whole world got wiped out from this project because he had some ungodly amount of books printed, like 10,000.

On top of that, I think he had them stored in his garage and his wife wasn’t thrilled with it and eventually they got a divorce over it. We’ve all made a rotten purchase in our lives but that was the cake taker. I feel bad for the guy because I know he thought he had a big winner when he wrote it or he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger and printed that many.

My situation is a little different, or at least I hope it is. There are still people who collect sports cards and I have quite a bit of inventory, both old and new. I don’t have time to put into setting up at card shows to make my profit over a period of time so my first choice is to sell it as a lot to some dealer or even collector and get it over with, but that’s a stretch.

Not many collectors are going to want such a varied mix of stuff and not many dealers I know have the money to score it all at once. Those who do will try to chisel me down and steal it but I’m not going to let that happen. I’ll sell it at a fair price but I won’t be raped.

This is all part of the game of life. We take chances and try things that sound very good at the time but then not too long after we realize it was complete stupidity. I’m not so sure it was completely stupid, but I’d rather have the money instead. Too late. I bought them.

Now I have to find a way to recoup my investment and move on. The first step in that is sorting and organizing all of it, and there‘s quite a load. After that I can start looking for a buyer. Someone will buy them. I did. This will be a very valuable entrepreneurial lesson.

Super Marketing

October 16, 2009

Thursday October 15th, 2009 – Lake Geneva, WI/Lake Villa, IL

I’m still buzzing about taking the day to get my taxes organized yesterday. That’s one of those chore like things that looks best in retrospect, like going to the dentist for a checkup or getting the timing belt changed on a car. It’s not a whole lot of fun to do at the time but afterward there’s a proud feeling of accomplishment knowing it was the right thing to do.

After dropping off my records at the accountant’s office I went to meet with my speaker friend Todd Hunt to pick his brain about ideas for a promotional campaign. He has one of if not THE best marketing programs I’ve ever seen, at least for an act. I can’t think of one single comedian who can touch him, myself included, and I know hundreds of comics.

The only other promotional campaign I’ve seen that comes even close to Todd is a joint called Chicago Joe’s, and they’re absolutely amazing. It’s on Irving Park Road in Chicago just east of Western Avenue. When I first moved to Chicago I lived about a block from it and was a regular customer because it was so close. I became a big fan of their operation.

Someone there totally understands marketing and I am still on their mailing list all these years later. Every so often they’ll send me a coupon in the mail but it’s always supremely creative and catches my attention in a pile of junk mail. I’m blown away by their constant high level of creativity and support them whenever I can. They operate with definite style.

Todd has style too. He sends out a monthly mailing that goes to his potential clients and he includes me on the list to help him test. He creates postcards that have attention getting messages and they are all well thought out. He works extremely hard on this and it shows.

If I’m going to truly move ahead in the business I need to enhance my marketing ability and increase my monthly campaign by about 999%. That won’t take much because of the current half ass approach I use now. I’ve been able to scratch out a living mostly by word of mouth through people I’ve had contact with over the years. That’s not going to cut it.

Marketing is my weakest link, as it is with most entertainers and businesses in general. I know a lot of really good performers who should be bigger than they are but nobody on a large scale has seen them because they market themselves poorly or not at all. I’m in that category and I’m really sick of it. I sat down with Todd to start correcting this weakness.

Newsletters, mailing lists, products and networking are all part of successful marketing. The actual act isn’t really all that important. Look at Dane Cook. He’s a master marketer and no matter what other comics think of his act, millions of people pay to see it across the country so who’s right? I have an act but not enough fans. He has the exact opposite.

I’m not trying to be Dane Cook, but I am trying to be the best me I can be and that will include improving my marketing to increase my fan base. It will start with compiling my lists of bookers, fans, students, media contacts and working on building it into a network I can use to make a better living than I am now. This will require a complete restructure.

I’m planting some good seeds by getting my tax situation looked after and meeting with Todd Hunt. Todd isn’t a comedian but I can still learn tricks I can use to improve my own career by studying how he markets. Check out his website at http://www.toddhuntspeaker.com. Chicago Joe’s website is http://www.chicago-joes.com. Call Todd and take him out to lunch.

After meeting with Todd I stopped at the Gurnee Mills Mall to get back into the groove of walking again. I keep starting and stopping and starting again and stopping again. With all I have going it’s not easy to make time every single day even though I’d really like to.

Last night I took a single lap and whenever I haven’t worked my way up to more it’s not an easy task. One lap was more than enough but I still was able to work up a sweat and go home feeling like I accomplished something. That was a full day of work if I ever had one but everything I did was productive. I’m thinking good thoughts and getting myself ready.

I also talked with Donna Gurda up in Milwaukee about my CD project. She hasn’t been able to work on it because her mom was sick and eventually passed away so how can I be angry at her? I’m totally not, but now it’s time to get that project finished. I also contacted Pedro Bell’s business person about my cover artwork and she said it’s almost ready to go.

It shouldn’t take long to piece together the project and I hope to have it available as near to Friday the 13th of November as possible. That’s the perfect date to release a Mr. Lucky project and I’ve had quite a few people ask me lately when the new one was coming out.

Donna will help me get my marketing skills up to par and I’m surrounding myself with as many quality people as I can find because I know I can’t do it all myself. I’m the main idea guy but I need a team around me to carry those ideas out. I’m choosing them now.

I was really tired at the end of the day yesterday but it was a good tired. I felt like I put a full day’s work in and that’s never a bad thing, especially when it’s for me. I woke up late this morning but I needed the sleep. I went right back to the mall and walked two laps so I can hopefully get back in my groove. It’s time to make it a daily habit the rest of my life.

Tonight I did a show in Lake Geneva, WI for Ron Swanson. He’s a young comic trying to get started and I always try to help those guys. We worked together last Friday night in Kenosha and this was his first crack at running a show himself. That isn’t easy to pull off.

Mel and Blossom out of Milwaukee opened for me and she brought along Jeff Lampton and a guy named Byron Beck who runs an open mike up there. I made sure I got Jeff and Byron guest sets because it was the right thing to do. They were happy to get stage time. I know how hard it is to start out and any time I can help out aspiring comedians I’ll do it.

There weren’t many people at the show but those who came were great laughers. I hope Ron can keep the show going but that’s a whole other issue. Club owners are all different and it’s a crapshoot every time a new room opens. I was just glad to be able to help a guy get started. I know how much that meant to me and now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

A Taxes Tornado

October 15, 2009

Wednesday October 14th, 2009 – Mt. Prospect, IL

Taxes are nothing to joke about so I don’t. It used to be a sore spot for many years until I found my current accountant but I’ve managed to stay current for the most part and keep the pain to a minimum. This year I seem to have gotten behind again for whatever reason.

I’ve gotten better and better each year at keeping my receipts and all that but organizing them is a different story. I bought a clear plastic container specifically with the purpose of using it to keep my receipts in order but all I did was throw them all in there haphazardly.

Yes, they were all in one place and that was a major improvement over scattering them everywhere but I could have been a lot more organized with just a little more effort. Why I couldn’t take a few minutes each week and add everything up is beyond me. I blew it.

Like the science project in school that gets put off until the night before, I kept putting it off until this week for whatever reason. I’ve had a lot going on this year and taxes weren’t my first priority, but I have no excuse for not having them done by now. I just let it lapse.

Then, to make it even worse I have a second container I bought that has all my tax stuff for this year in it. The piles got crossed a little so I had to sort through every little scrap of paper to see which belonged to which year. It took a full day’s work to do that and I mean eight solid hours. I woke up at 6am and finished up around 2:30, but at least I got it done.

Not only did I sort it out by years, I also put all my ‘09 stuff in proper order and put it in an individual envelopes so I can find everything at a glance. Usually I don’t do the sorting of it all until I get ready to go to the accountant and it’s an all day chore that I can’t stand.

This was totally different and the more I did it the better I felt. I think this is the earliest I’ve ever had my tax stuff organized this much and I can’t believe I was that stupid to just let it pile up every year with no rhyme or reason to it. I feel like a total ass but that’s what I did. There really is no reason for it other than I wasn’t on top of it. That’s changing now.

Taxes are a part of any business and comedy is absolutely a business. I’ve always put an emphasis on the show part and ignored the business but if I want to move ahead that’s not the way to handle it. I have a show, now I need to sell it to buyers who’ll pay more for it.

I always say I’m going to make a better effort with my taxes but then I let it pile up for a year and have to dig through the mess again. It’s a real weakness but at least next year I’m ahead of the game. I was proud of myself when I finished because I know I did it the right way. Now it’s a matter of weekly maintenance and I really think I can make that happen.

None of this has anything to do with being funny or getting work but I look at it like it’s the roof on a house. Keeping the roof maintained will keep everything inside safe from all elements. Keeping my taxes maintained now will save me countless headaches later when real money starts coming in. It was totally worth one day of my life to get myself current.

Uneasy Money

October 14, 2009

Tuesday October 13th, 2009 – Mt. Prospect, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Well, well – FINALLY a little something something showed up in my mailbox today. It took nearly six full weeks but let the record show that I did finally receive a check for the week I did at Giggles in Brookfield, WI August 13-15th of this year. Let that same record also show I did NOT receive my bounced check fees, even though they were promised.

Along with the cashier’s check (which was also $200 less than the original one that was rubber) I received another notice from my bank saying another check I wrote had bounced and that I was being charged a $22 fee for it. I had negotiated the other ones down to less.

I looked at the check in one hand and the fee notice in the other and I just laughed really hard. What else could I do? People at the post office were looking at me as if I was crazy and I guess I am but that’s how I felt. After all this ugliness and incompetence and weeks of going back and forth and having to fight for what’s mine I still ended up getting boned.

The owners of that rat hole are now dead to me. If I go back and try to get those fees my patience will wear out and I’ll commit a felony. Better to leave it alone and the only thing I wish upon them is that they get the exact same treatment they’re dishing out to comics.

So they have a special needs child. We have special needs too, like food and rent and it isn’t our fault we aren’t paid for our work at the end of the week as is customary at every comedy club in North America I’ve ever performed in over 20 years on the road. If it was a problem we could have worked it out but having it happen like it did was unacceptable.

I’m in a good space right now and focusing on positive energy and I made up my mind I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. The situation is bad enough and I want it to be OVER already. I would like to work for the booker in the future or at least not burn that bridge so I’ll let it pass that the club owner weaseled out on my bounced check fees. He’s a wanker.

If he thinks he’s beating me by not paying those fees he’s a small time wanker at that so why would I get down in the mental mud again right after I just crawled out? It would just bring me down and I don’t need that right now. He’ll get his, hopefully sooner than later.

That’s not my concern anymore. I can honestly say I’ll never darken the door of Giggles again and I predict it’ll permanently be dark in the not too distant future because of all the insanity coming out of there. I have to believe at some point the doors will close for good.

Whether they do or they don’t, I’m moving on. I got three weeks of Zanies bookings in  Chicago today and I won’t have to worry about my checks bouncing. I also got a call from a guy looking to book some casino shows and they almost always pay well. I’ll survive.

I also went to see my tax accountant today. I filed an extension and I need to get that out of the way SOON. I put it off too long but at least I’m taking care of it now. That’s where most of that Giggles check is going to go unfortunately, but at least I did get some of it.

An Energy Enema

October 14, 2009

Monday October 12th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

Nothing’s going to change for the better unless I do so today it was back to work with a major vengeance. Part of me loves ultimate challenges because if I win that’s the ultimate victory. Too bad that’s not always the outcome. Ultimate challenges wouldn’t be ultimate if they were easy to achieve. I’m in a pickle right now and have to think and act carefully.

This is the best time of my life right now in many ways so if I let these distractions take me out of the race the results would be disastrous. I can’t let a few bugs on my windshield prevent me from winning it all but right now they’re placed in the worst possible position that blocks a lot of my view of the track ahead of me. I need to squeegee this mess away.

I have made up my mind to not let small minded idiots keep me from doing what I need to be doing, and that’s be involved in the entertainment business. I’ve gotten fired in radio and had clashes with club owners and bookers in comedy but that’s only because they had no clue how to deal with anybody who had one. Entertainment is filled with these people.

Life is too, but entertainment attracts a higher amount of lowlifes and bloodsuckers who want to exploit the gifts and abilities of those who are the real deal. I’m not the first act to have a check bounce in show business history and I know I won’t be the last. It’s part of a long history of ugliness which goes back to the dawn of humanity. Some of us are rotten.

Many more are sweet and giving and friendly and those are the ones I’m going to focus my energy toward from now on. Giggles can kiss my pasty white aspirations. I won’t take their unprofessional treatment and when I get my money I’ll move on and focus on bigger achievements and worthwhile goals, not just paying my rent from working their hell hole.

This whole mess brought out an ugly side I really don’t like. It’s draining and not where winners dwell, and I want to be a winner when it’s all over. Nobody will remember any of this after I’m dead so the sooner I can move past it and on to meaningful things the better.

That was my goal today as I packed in a full work day of positive contacts. I had a lunch with Marc Schultz and that’s always positive. He’s a good friend and is pleased I’m going in this direction. He always thought I was wasting time in comedy clubs because that isn’t where the real money is. The real money comes from the corporate market that he books.

That market is down like most other things in these times but I’d be coming into it on a lower pay scale so that could get me booked at higher pay than I get at most clubs. That’s fine with me and today Marc said he’s booked me for two dates next May for solid money and has two or three people interested in Christmas parties for December. It’s trickling in.

After lunch with Marc I went to meet with Graham Putnam of Fun Inc. I was introduced to him by my friend Chuck Field, who also hooked me up with Marc Schultz. Chuck is an amazing networker and we met when he took my comedy class years ago. That’s why I’m so gung ho on the classes, it attracts fantastic people into my life like Marc and Graham.

This kind of connecting and reconnecting and networking can’t quit. Those people have positive energy and are in my corner and want to see me succeed, and I want the same for them too. Marc Schultz has booked me several times over the years I’ve known him and I never had a single problem with getting paid. That’s the kind of guy I’d rather work for.

Graham Putnam was very generous to put some time aside for me. His business is joke items of all kinds and his specialty is fake vomit. I guess someone has to specialize in that and he’s the guy. The company has been around since 1937 and moved to Chicago in ‘41.

Graham and his wife Kathryn bought it and turned it into THE largest magic factory in America. That’s pretty impressive and no small feat in itself. I explained to Graham what I’m trying to accomplish with Uranus Factory Outlet and he said he’d put together a few samples of ideas of things I’d be able to sell both at shows, online or even at flea markets.

I’m not above setting up at flea markets if that’s what it takes to work for myself. I’d be a lot less stressed having multiple streams of income flowing in and that’s smart business no matter who it is. Depending on one source of income these days is asking for trouble.

Guys like Graham and Marc have been around the block and they know the ins and outs of their business just as I know the secrets of the comedy business. I’m running out of gas and time and can’t afford to make beginner mistakes anymore. I have to get help from the people who traveled the road before me. My period of reckless wandering is now history.

I have a completely different view of life and the world now than when I started and my needs and wants are completely different also. I used to think I wanted what most people think success in show business is – fame and money and not much else. Most that imagine  what success is picture the bling without the string. There’s always a string. ALWAYS.

Fame requires being able to handle the intense demands on one’s time and the invasion of personal space. Paparazzi rhymes with Nazi and there seems to be a valid reason for it. I don’t need some leech with a zoom lens taking pictures of me taking a dump at Spago.

I would like the money part though. That’s something I am preparing myself to handle. It’s fun to think about Ferraris and yachts but that wouldn’t be what I’d spend it on. I’m a man of simple needs and I’d get a bigger kick out of helping people that really did need it. Buying someone a new wheelchair or getting a kid’s cleft palate fixed is a true dividend.

In order to do that I have to put myself in a better financial position. Focusing on my lack of money will only bring more of the same. As difficult as it is I need to think of having it rather than needing it. Any number of sources from the Bible on down teach this principle including The Secret, Think And Grow Rich, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins and a lot more.

They teach it because it’s true. Today I started slowly, but I started. I met with Marc and Graham and then went to host a great show at Zanies in Chicago. Both the comedians and audience were totally on and it made the evening a total blast. This was an excellent start.

Metaphysical Fitness

October 12, 2009

Sunday October 11th, 2009 – Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Spirituality is one subject that doesn’t come up very often between comedians, and I’m surprised it doesn’t. Most of us are of above average intelligence and like to discuss many different topics but that’s one that usually gets avoided, or at least it has in my experience.

Religion gets brought up a lot, and many times gets skewered mercilessly. There are all kinds of bits making fun of Catholicism or Judaism but I’m talking about things we bring up offstage between ourselves. I’ve taken twelve hour rides with people I barely knew but that’s one thing that rarely if ever came up. As I get older I’m exploring that side more.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing the Mothership Connection radio show as much as I do. I get to explore all kinds of topics I’m already interested in but bringing in experts in a radio studio makes it all the more worthwhile. Tonight we had a very exciting show.

We were supposed to have a guest named Janice Olson who does ‘oracle readings’ and has for many years. Her website is http://www.shininglite.com and she was found by my friend Shelley who wanted to have her in as a guest. We’ve been going back and forth on when both Janice and Shelley could make it on the same night and tonight turned out to be it.

Janice brought her friend Adam who owns a store called ‘Sacred Earth’ in Antioch, IL and both of them together were extremely interesting guests. They talked about topics like chakras and meditation and angels and all kinds of stuff my grandpa would have placed in the category of ‘moonbeams and stardust’. Sometimes it’s all a big joke but not tonight.

Janice and Adam were both very knowledgeable on the subjects they discussed and that made the show go by extremely fast. We had several new listeners call in for readings and  a lot of things came up that sent us off into deep but fascinating tangents. It was really fun but also informative too. This show is opening my eyes to a whole new world of topics.

I’m not saying I’m going to enroll in warlock academy or start casting spells with magic potions but it makes logical sense to me that something is bigger than the physical part of life as we know it. Does numerology have something to do with it? Birth signs? Chakras?

Does the Chinese Zodiac really have an influence on life or is it just something to gawk at to kill time while I’m waiting for my egg drop soup to arrive? Chinese culture has a lot of spiritual aspects as does Native American. Egyptian too. Certain cultures embrace this.

Americans not so much it seems. I was force churched as a kid and most people have to follow along with whatever religious beliefs their parents have…or don’t. My church was very adamant about not exploring anything else because they thought their way was right.

Who doesn’t think that? Muslims think they’re right and so do the Jews. Christians are a whole different animal and they think Muslims and Jews are wrong. None of what I am talking about on the radio show has anything to do with right or wrong. I just want truth.
That’s what most comedians usually want too. We see the craziness everywhere and it’s our job separate the truth from the B.S. and make it funny in the process. Our minds think along those lines during the creation of comedy yet most of us aren’t very spiritual beings.

I’m sure there are exceptions but I can’t think of many. Most comedians I know have an aversion to having a serious conversation about deep things like this because their trained reaction is to start making jokes right when it starts to get serious. That’s how we think as comedians and it takes some effort to turn the comedian off and turn the spiritual side on.

Personally I’m really enjoying delving into this side of existence. I never really got into it as a kid because I was so forced into the church thing. I thought I believed it all without  a hint of doubt and that was enough for me. Now, I’m not so sure. Everything is up for an argument and the more I look at everything the more I realize I have no clue on any of it.

Is there a God? I don’t know and nobody else does either. Having a hunch about it isn’t proof, and nobody has proof until we die. That’s when we find out the big surprise ending if indeed there is one. Do we come back? Do we go somewhere else? Are heaven and hell real? Is this the only place life exists in a universe chock full of zillions of other planets?

I can’t even begin to think of other planets because I still haven’t come close to figuring out this tiny one we’re on – for now. Everyone who comes here eventually leaves so that’s something to think about at some point. No matter how good or bad it is at any time it’s a temporary condition and eventually we all pass on, but where do we go? I’m way curious.

Janice Olson spoke about having a near death experience during surgery and that’s what made her get into this field. She said it was a wonderful experience and that she didn’t get any negative vibes at all. I’ve had two near death car accidents and both times I had a split second of extreme clarity before impact and I didn’t feel anything negative either time.

In fact, I felt very calm both times. I thought I was about to die and in my head I was not in a panic in the least. I remember feeling a sense of anticipation, much like going up that first big hill on a rollercoaster. I didn’t know what to expect but I expected it to be a blast.

Maybe that’s all part of the mystery of life. There are so many ideas I’ve read about I’m not able to remember them all. Some people swear we picked everything about our whole life from our parents to our problems before we even get here. Is that true? Who knows?

Others say the only reason we’re here is to learn lessons. That’s a bit hard for me to buy but again, who knows? Nobody has any proof but there are hints and bits and theories and gut feelings and somewhere in all of it the real truth exists. I’m getting hungrier to find it.

This is going to have an impact on my comedy too. I’m already bringing things into the mix I’ve never come close to touching before. There’s a depth to it and I have to say I am really comfortable with it all. The masses may stare at me like a car accident but that isn’t going to stop me from bringing it up anyway. Spirituality is part of the human mystery.

Pride Worth The Ride

October 11, 2009

Saturday October 10th, 2009 – South Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

Strange day today. I overslept and almost missed being on WGN with Jerry’s Kidders. I haven’t had an alarm clock since I was about 12 and can usually get up at the exact time I need to, within one minute on either side. Today I slept right through and blew the streak.

Everyone knows the sensation of panic that causes the covers to come flying off and the fast motion Keystone Cops movie to begin. Good thing I showered last night and all I had to do was get dressed and out the door. It’s a long way to the freeway and I was gunning it the whole way, totally speeding in the process. I probably used up any karma favors I had.

I went even faster on the freeway and slalomed in and out of traffic like I was driving in my own personal Grand Prix race and made it to the studio with barely seconds to spare. I could hear the Kidders’ intro music play as I slinked in and took my seat like nothing was wrong, even though I was out of breath from running full speed all the way from my car.

Being late really irritates me and I don’t enjoy it at all. It causes undue stress and that’s the last thing I need in my life right now. We had a fun time as we usually do but I don’t want to make a habit of this and I immediately apologized to the guys when we finished.

Living 54 miles from the studio makes it rough to overcome being late so I have to take extra care to not let this happen again. No matter what time I get up it’s still 54 miles one way whether I’m driving like a raped ape or someone’s grandma so I need to deal with it.

I drove home a lot slower and tried to fill my head with peaceful thoughts. I didn’t even stop at my P.O. box because even if the check was there my bank was closed and it would have to wait until Monday anyway. That situation is what it is and getting myself thinking about it will only infuriate me and that’s not where my head needs to be. It’s not healthy.

When things are good, they’re great but when they’re not, they’re REALLY not and I’m teetering on the precipice. Dwelling on one check from one club is not worth my thoughts or my time. I wish it hadn’t worked out the way it did, but it did. Now I have to move on.

Putting good thoughts in my head is a must. I have always loved listening to recordings by people like Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer and many others as well, but those two are probably my favorites. They both have voices that are easy to listen to and they both make excellent points in their programs. Those were the two guys I was in the mood for today.

I listened to Tony Robbins in the car and enjoyed it but when I got home I put in Wayne Dyer’s ‘The Secrets Of The Power Of Intention’ and it was exactly what I needed to hear. He talked about a lot of interesting points and I listened intently as I answered my emails.

He said a lot of things that hit home and Tony Robbins does that too. So do other things like ‘The Secret’ and any number of constant truths. Everybody can use a refresher course in clear thinking and this was the right thing to do today. It put me in a very good space.
I think I could put out products like that only because I enjoy them so much myself. I’ve listened to most of the big names and a lot who weren’t so big. I know I could put a solid package together talking about the inner workings of what makes humor work and I’ll bet it wouldn’t take very long. I’ve been studying it my whole life and I love talking about it.

I also think a program for fellow dented cans would be really useful. I’m getting a lot of people coming up to me after shows saying “I’m a dented can too” and they thank me for bringing it up but still making it funny. This takes comedy way farther than a strip mall in the suburbs somewhere. This touches people who need to be touched. That’s a lot deeper.

This is what’s really important, at least as far as I’m concerned. Money is great and I am all for making as much as possible but the real reward is being able to serve humanity and touch people with laughter.  And I don’t mean casually, I mean rich hearty belly laughter.

I’ve had countless people come up to me after shows and say things like “I just couldn’t laugh any harder if I wanted to” or “My cheeks and stomach hurt.” Great! I love to hear it. That’s why I’m still doing it all these years later. I think there’s a glaring need for humor.

I was off tonight so I drove up to the Milwaukee area to support a show put together by Jeff Lampton, a Milwaukee comic who bills himself as ‘The Loose Cannon of Comedy’. I love that moniker and it could probably fit a lot of people, myself included. Jeff has been amazingly supportive of me for years and it was only fair that I return the favor, so I did.

Another friend Art Hinty was on the show as well as Russ Martin, a former student who also lives in the Milwaukee area. Russ flew out to hang with me in L.A. when I taped the Late Late Show spot in March and Jeff and Art took up a collection with the other comics so I’d be able to have some expense money out there. That was about as classy as it gets.

Everyone’s eyes lit up as I walked in the room and Jeff came over immediately and said hello and thanked me for coming. I thanked him for all his support and told him I felt like it was my duty to be there. It was a respect thing, and I respect all those guys immensely.

All of these guys have been cheering me on and they look to me as a big brother figure. I appreciate it beyond words and I felt I had to show up and support their show, especially since I was off tonight. The room was smoky and my eyes were burning by the end of the night but that‘s ok. I‘m used to that by now. I‘ve been dealing with that my whole life.

Russ did a good job as did Art Hinty. Those guys are both older than me but they have a youthful exuberance and it’s very obvious they both really love comedy, just as I do. I like to watch them work and I laughed and clapped and enjoyed the show with everyone else.

Jeff went up and really let it rip. He put the show together and packed the room with his friends and family and they were all there to see him and he didn’t disappoint. I was really proud of him and all the other guys too because I know how hard it is to get people out to a live event for anything, especially in the Milwaukee area. I‘m thrilled I got to see it live.