Archive for October, 2009

An Empty Mailbox

October 10, 2009

Friday October 9th, 2009 – Kenosha, WI

Another day with an empty mailbox and I’m glad I don’t own a gun because today’s the day I might have used it. This is a cruel test of my patience and I’m about to flunk it badly if I don’t get my check soon. I don’t care if they said it‘s in the mail, out of the mail, close to the mail, at Santa’s workshop, whatever. It’s all verbal flatulence to me. I don’t have it.

Not too many things are more frustrating then opening up my post office box door only to be able to look straight through and see NOTHING waiting for me after all this time. It left a cold ugly lump in my gut and I feel like I’ve been had once again. Promises are very easy to make but keeping them is another story. I am dealing with small time criminals.

Why does this have to be so long and drawn out and painful? What lesson am I to learn from getting hosed by a shyster and his bitchy tarantula wife who seems to be in constant and perpetual P.M.S. 24/7/365? All I can think of is that I must be paying for some awful thing I did in a past life and I have to shut up and take it or I’ll have to come back again.

This is the last place I ever want to come back to. How insane is the Earth if Brett Favre is playing for the Vikings and Barack Obama gets the Nobel Peace Prize? What did he do to earn it other than get the blind worship of the idiot masses, much like Favre has done?

Doesn’t anybody THINK? My belief in any kind of God is getting dimmer and dimmer, and the more I see stupid things happening, the more I think I’m the butt of the joke. Why do I feel so out of place here? The older I get the more I couldn’t care less if I live or die. I’m losing hope that good will ever prevail and when that’s gone it’s time to pack it all in.

This kind of meaningless minutia takes all the fun out of life. It reminds me of growing up and how most of my family acted. They never made fun a priority either and now most of those people are dead and what did it prove? Not a damn thing. It was all one big waste of time and breath and energy and I see the same thing happening here. It’s totally stupid.

I still think the Golden Rule is THE best single thought that has ever been unleashed on mankind at any time in history. If we’d only live by that one principle none of this insane prattle would be taking place and life would be SO much easier. I can’t see why it’s not.

Whatever situation happened at Giggles, they should have paid me that week and been done with it. I thought we had a good relationship as I’d worked there many times before. Had the owner come to me and told me he was having problems I’m sure we could have worked something out. Instead, it was a sneaky back door job and the bridge is torched.

I don’t ever want to work there and I especially don’t have anything good to say about a rotten puke that would knowingly bounce a check like that or his pukier wife who is now taking it upon herself to trash my name all over the internet. Yawn. Does anybody care? I surely don’t. I just want my money already. Where the hell IS it? The booking agency is no angel in this either. They knew checks were bouncing and still sent comedians there.

I’m sick of talking about this anymore. Sick and tired. Tired and sick. I’m sick of being tired and tired of being sick. I want my money and I also want to learn whatever I need to learn so this kind of torture doesn’t have to keep happening. I want to focus on my craft.

Being a comedian is supposed to be fun, and it usually is. It’s those other twenty-three hours that kill the buzz. I now see exactly why people shoot heroin into their toes or why postal workers flip out and bust caps in their coworkers asses. Some probably deserved it.

Karma is supposed to be the great equalizer but I don’t have much faith in that either. If I treated people like I’m getting treated by Giggles and the booker and even the raw deal I got at the Comedy Café all those years ago, I’d probably be dead by now. Why do they all get off without so much as a slap on the wrist? I don’t get it. I thought karma was equal.

I guess I don’t understand the big picture and right about now the whole thing is pissing me off to the very core of my existence. I should have gotten that Nobel prize for holding back on taking a pickaxe to the forehead of one of these bumbling soup heads. It’s been a challenge not to flip out on all of them but I do the best I can to just ignore their twaddle.

What if anything could cheer me up from this mounting mound of manure? A hot show. That’s the doctor’s order any time I’m feeling low and tonight I got a last minute call for a fill in gig in Kenosha, WI at a place called ‘The Nook’. I had the night off and it was an easy drive so I gladly said yes and I’m glad I did. I was pleasantly surprised all around.

A guy named Nick Rezny and his business partner Erica Hawkins are comedians in the Kenosha area who are just starting out and trying to get some shows going. They’re where I was when I started and I know how difficult it is to get any gigs going, especially at first.

The place they did the shows is an artsy coffee house type joint but it was really fun and there were people for both shows. There wasn’t a stage light so it was tough to see anyone performing and there was no mic stand either but the audience was there to see comedy so nobody seemed to notice. There were all age groups in attendance and I really had a blast.

There’s another younger comic named Ron Swanson and he was there too. He lives out in Lake Geneva and he’s booking his own show that I’m doing next week. There was also a young kid just starting out named Jesse Silva and some juggler named Steve that got his first paid gig tonight. They all went up and the audience was polite and listened intently.

The acts weren’t polished but they’re new and it reminded me of when I was that level. It’s a LONG journey and I saw their looks of admiration when I finished but I told them it was the same look I had when I used to see people like Danny Storts when I was starting.

These guys can do it too if they hang in there for 25 years like I did. That’s why it’s SO frustrating to have to deal with this money issue all this time into it. Tonight was different as I got paid IN CASH right after the show and they even threw in a $20 tip for coming in on short notice. Giggles and the Comedy Café both need to take lessons from these guys.

Up The Creek Without A Battle

October 9, 2009

Thursday October 8th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

If all these giant red flags weren’t waving in my face I could probably see all of the bold black handwriting on the wall behind them. Comedy clubs as I’ve known them are in BIG trouble, and I need to start working on alternate forms of income. The gravy train is over.

Today I got word the club in Battle Creek, MI closed after 25 years. That was one in the first batch of road gigs I did when I started, and I was sorry to hear it‘s gone. When I first did it in the ’80s it was located in an athletic club. The stage was right on a tennis court.

In fact, they even called the club “The Comedy Court” at the time. It wasn’t horrible as I remember and then it moved to an actual night club location for a few years. That place was better but then the owner got a sweet deal from the city of Battle Creek and it moved right downtown into a gorgeous facility I really enjoyed. It was a miniature auditorium.

The whole setup was fantastic from the sound system to the lights to the stage itself. It’s a shame a place like that had to close, especially after comedy had been in town for such a long time. The owner was smart enough to name the joint Gary Fields’ Comedy Club and he became a celebrity in town because he used to host the shows every week. Very smart.

I wasn’t a regular there but I did work it several times over the years in all of his various locations and I never had a problem with the guy. He was always cordial and we worked a deal when I had my radio job in Lansing that I’d be his ‘go to’ guy in case of any fallouts.

That worked out great because it was close by and there actually were some fallouts that I ended up doing so it was a win/win for both of us. I always liked Battle Creek because it was home to the cereal companies and it was unique. Most of the rest of Michigan is built around the auto industry. Battle Creek and Grand Rapids aren’t and they’re a lot cleaner.

Michigan is in a lot of trouble, and I hope it’s not a foreshadow of things to come for all the other states but I can’t see how it isn’t. Where are all these mysterious new jobs going to come from? How much cereal can we as a nation eat? Battle Creek had a comedy club that ran for 25 years. I don’t know all the inner workings but Gary seemed to have a clue.

Last year South Bend, IN had their club close, the Funny Bone. That was there for many years as well. It troubles me that all these medium sized towns that used to sustain a club for years are falling out one by one. Kalamazoo has been gone for a while now and I have to wonder about other towns like Fort Wayne, Lansing, Toledo, and a whole lot more.

This is a real concern and it makes me feel old that I’ve seen these places come and go. I started not too far after all these clubs opened and I saw them at their peak. Now I have a strong act all these years later and they’re teetering on the brink of extinction. My luck.

I think there will always be a need for comedy and people will always need to laugh but it sure seems like the venue’s changing. I wonder where that is? I better find out. SOON.

Milwaukee’s Malignant Humor

October 7, 2009

Wednesday October 7th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

Hopefully my nauseating ride on the Insane-O-Whirl is coming to an end soon. I finally heard from the booking agency about the Giggles situation today and they sent me a copy of a picture of a cashier’s check that was overnighted to them in North Carolina because I guess me giving that imbecile my mailing address THREE TIMES didn’t sink in enough.

This is worse than a Three Stooges movie. I filled out a tax form when I thought I’d get paid the first time and my address is on that too. Now, he’s sending it overnight at a large expense down to North Carolina and apparently it’s going to get overnighted back to me.

I’m beyond speechless. Then, to top it off, there’s no added cash to cover my bouncing fees for the checks I wrote on his rubber one like he promised. They weaseled out on that as well. Then the agency gouged me for $200 for their booking fees they’ve been trying to collect for way too long. I’m going to end up losing money for the week and it all stinks.

What is it about Milwaukee and comedy clubs that can’t seem to get it right? They are a huge embarrassment to the comedy world and it’s been like that ever since I started. It’s a constant fight to get both respected and paid and it hasn’t gotten any easier in 25 years.

The names change but the abuse stays the same. Who the hell are these morons and why do they gravitate to the comedy business? Probably because it looks easy. All it needs is a person on stage talking and people show up and buy overpriced drinks, right? Sorry, it’s a lot harder than that. By the time these goof bags figure that out they’ve ruined their club.

Not only that, they’ve hurt comedy too. Milwaukee is laughed at by road comics due to the constant amount of insanity that comes out of there. There are all kinds of stories like this about bounced checks, and not only from Giggles. The Comedy Café has it’s share of horror stories too but somehow they both keep on stumbling along and it’s all just wrong.

The comedy community in Milwaukee is in shambles and always has been. The comics have been treated like dirt forever but since we’re dented cans we kept showing up for the stage time because it’s like a drug. We need it and will put up with anything as long as we get some of it. Club owners knew that and exploited it to the fullest and they still do now.

I’m finally maturing to the point I don’t have to keep getting humiliated and can say no but it’s all so unnecessary. The clubs there should be thrilled to get good talent cheap but that’s not enough for them. They have to keep making us chase down our money and put a monkey wrench into situations where one doesn’t need to be. Just PAY US. That’s it.

I’ll believe the Giggles check when I see it. No, that’s not enough. I’ll believe it when it CASHES. I’m Mr. Lucky after all, I very well could be the first person to have a cashier’s check bounce. Now THAT would be funny – to everyone else. I don’t know if I’d laugh. I do know that if I get it I’m going to use it specifically to finance a project that will put all this small time stupidity behind me. I hope this Insane-O-Whirl ride can finally be over.
None of this EVER happens when I work a real club. I’ve been working for Zanies for a quarter of a century and never had even one minor problem with them in getting paid, or a bounced check incident. They have three clubs in the Chicago area and one in Nashville.

I can always count on them to handle things professionally, and they do. Utah is another situation that has always been solid. I go out there and work for Keith Stubbs at Wiseguys and I get paid the exact dollar amount we agree on and there’s never been even one issue.

The Late Late Show on CBS and Byron Allen’s Comics.TV tapings both came off with ZERO problems. I was paid promptly and it was the exact amount we agreed on. Is there a trend here? Professionalism includes PAYING THE COMEDIANS. How hard is that?

I don’t want to waste my energy with any of this anymore. I should have gone after The Comedy Café owner who owes me $400 from 1994. The booker talked me out of it and it still irks me that I let her do that. It’s not ‘the principle’ either. It’s the MONEY. I earned that $400, even though putting up with their disrespect and abuse made it slave wages.

This is the same thing fifteen years later. It’s a different owner but the same result. Why does it keep going on, but only in Milwaukee? I have no idea and I don’t want to know at this point. I just want my meager money and move on. This time I won’t just let it slide.

I’m as sick of writing about this as most people are probably sick of reading it but that’s why I’m pounding it so hard. Most comedians eventually just give up and the club mutant wins. That’s what happened with the Comedy Café. I didn’t pursue it after a while and he thinks he ‘won’. Most of us won’t take it past a certain point because it’s too big a hassle.

We’re trying to stay booked and keep our cars running and work on our acts and all of a number of other things it requires to stay in business. We’re independent contractors with a shoestring budget and the bar owners know that. That’s why many of them exploit us. It becomes a situation of “If you won’t take it there’s another idiot who will.” And there is.

How different would it be if I’d owed THEM money? If I didn’t pay since 1994 I would have my name trashed around the country and not be able to get a booking until I paid off my debt. That or they’d take it out of my pay. What recourse do I have here other than put the word out so other comedians know what’s happening? It’s the only way I can fight it.

This is a real sore spot but I know I’m not the only one who feels it. I’ve always heard it through showbiz lore of people on the way up, most notably blues musicians. They’ve got some stories that make mine look like fairy tales and that’s terrible. They need to get paid too. I heard B.B. King won’t go on stage until he gets cash in a brief case. Good for him.

Entertainment is a rough racket. Talent is just the tip of the iceberg. All the other stuff is hidden from the audience, so the majority of people have no idea what goes on. I’ve really tried to be up front with these criminals but I’m done with them all. There are hundreds of millions of people in America other than them and I’ll do any future business on my own.

A Welcome Matt

October 7, 2009

Tuesday October 6th, 2009 – St. Charles, IL

I’m in a good space in my head despite all that’s gone on lately. My depression funk is a memory and that’s a major victory but it sure was horrible while it lasted. This one stayed a lot longer than usual and really dug in deep. Those times are my ‘mental period’ and it’s very draining in every way. I do feel worn out but at least I know it’s gone – for a while.

That’s letting me focus on good things. The theatrical version of Jerry’s Kidders is very funny and getting funnier by the day. The guys and Vicki Quade are adding to it and I am too. It’s truly a group effort and everyone has contributed something to the mix. It’s a big project but it’s coming together on all levels and it just feels right. This is a new direction.

I can use one of those right about now. The club situation isn’t getting any better. I want to end this insanity with Giggles and move on. All it will take is my payment in full. I still think I’m getting screwed even if I get that but that’s another story. I want what we agreed to and that’s it. I’ll check my post office box on Wednesday and I hope it’s over after that.

I’ve been promised payment three times now and every time I don’t get it I feel like I’m being played as the stooge and it infuriates me even more. I’ve done nothing but excellent shows for those maggots and this is the thanks I get. It really is the last straw and it makes my gonads quiver that they can still stay in business. I don‘t want to associate with them.

Tonight I had one last class session to teach at Zanies in St. Charles, IL. I finished up at the downtown location last week and even though both classes were small they were very enjoyable because the people were good. That’s what it’s all about and that’s why I love it so much. Most of them don’t want to be full time comics but they do want the experience.

Before class I met up with Matt Kissane. He’s a Chicago area comedian but he also acts and owns his own entertainment agency. Matt is THE single best self promoter of anyone I’ve ever met and I mean that as a total compliment. He’s always sending out a newsletter or his avails and is very consistent about it without being a pest. There’s a very fine line.

He used to do a lot of stuff for WGN TV and is in several commercials. I’ve always had admiration for Matt’s ability to promote himself and we met up to exchange ideas and see how we could help each other grow. We also recorded a video interview for his website.

You can check Matt’s agency site at http://www.absolutelyentertainment.net. He sure gets the most out of his abilities and does celebrity impersonations of people like Chris Farley and David Letterman among others. He’s a real hustler and that’s meant in a good way. He’s a guy who knows how to keep his name out there consistently and I need to do that as well.

Like me, Matt has been known to speak his mind a time or two and has had clashes that he’s not enjoyed. We talked about that and how reputations can get made as those various incidents make it through the grapevine without the benefit of truth to back them up. It’s a ‘he said, she said’ game, just like in grade school and it’s pretty stupid. But it’s showbiz.

#4 Is Full Of #2

October 7, 2009

Monday October 5th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

Where’s the mothership when I really need it? I can use a ride home. I’m on the wrong planet for sure now. Brett Favre plays for the purple menace Minnesota Vikings and beats the Green Bay Packers on national television in front of the largest cable audience ever.

What’s wrong with this picture? Only EVERYTHING. I’m delighted I didn’t watch one single play of the debauchery because I was busy trying to better my own life but it is still a ripe, rotting dingle berry on the rump of my soul. Whiny little Brett Favre gets his way.

I don’t know what pinches my nipples more, that or the legion of dimwits who think he walks on water no matter what he does. Anyone with a brain bigger than a brussels sprout knows the Packers made the correct decision to jettison him to the Jets when they did. It’s a team game and a business but by all accounts Brett didn’t have to play by those rules.

That’s what really rankles me the most. That unshaven hillbilly bastard had it ALL. He was a walking deity and could have played for the Packers as long as he wanted. He could have had as much free beer and bratwurst or anything else he wanted in the entire state of Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He could have ruled the cheese head world.

He could have sauntered into any home, apartment or place of business and had his pick of ANY female, single or married, and have her perform multiple graphic sex acts on him only heard about once a decade in locked police files or in the ‘best of’ Penthouse letters.

Not only that, while it was happening he could have had the woman’s husband stand off to the side and hold the camera and capture it all on video. Then, the guy would ask to get an autograph when Brett was done and show all his buddies at the bar the video of his old lady getting boinked by Brett Favre. How many other people have THAT kind of power?

There are many big celebrities in the world and I’m sure they get pampered quite nicely but nowhere I’ve ever seen do people get worshipped like Green Bay Packers. Brett Favre had what every kid who grew up in Wisconsin wanted, and I’m one of them. MILLIONS of us would have given anything the devil asked for to have a chance to play in Lambeau.

We’d give our body, spirit, soul and left testicle to get in a game as the holder on a field goal in pre game warmups, much less be the star of not only the team, but the whole NFL. Brett Favre held the position every heterosexual penis owner in Wisconsin ever wanted.

That’s why it infuriates me so much to see him throw it all away and piss in the loyalty pool of so many worshipping fans. He could have played it by the rules but he chose to be a selfish little puke and I for one am not a fan anymore. Bye bye. He’s dead to me forever.

I knew the Vikings had the better team and I thought the Packers would lose but I won’t lie, I wanted to see Favre get toted off on a stretcher with his teeth, testicles and stubble in a little bag next to him, but alas, my dreams are foiled again. Whoever said life was fair?

The Magic Button

October 5, 2009

Sunday October 4th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

I am a polarizer. Always have been. Ever since I was a kid I’ve either hit it off well with people or clashed big time. I don’t know why that is, and I can’t say I like it but that’s just how it‘s worked out for me. Some people are diplomats by nature. I don’t have that gift.

Part of the problem is I don’t hide it well. If I don’t like someone it becomes known in a hurry and at some point it comes to a head. Usually the reason is that it’s a bully situation and I especially don’t take to those very well. I guess it started with my father and goes up from there. I’ve gotten my nose bloodied more than once but I never sat back and took it.

This is not a desirable trait to have in business, but it’s probably the absolute worst one to have in show business. Show business involves schmoozing and politics and networks are crucial to moving up the ladder both quickly and without a hitch. I’ve screwed myself way too often by trying to go through idiots rather than around them. It hasn’t been smart.

There are always going to be clashes in life but I do think it’s how they’re handled that’s important. I’m learning to handle them a lot better but they still pop up occasionally and it annoys me to have to deal with it. I don’t want to be involved in clashes. Life is too short.

The situation with my ex business partner is an example. He pulled his little embezzler stunt and that was bad enough but it should have ended there. Instead he had to keep it up and start comedy classes and keep poking until it got ugly. I tried to be reasonable and let him know how I felt but that fell on deaf ears. Then I got personal and that got noticed.

The same is happening with this nightmare with my Giggles pay. I just want my money. Period. I never wanted to work there again and I still don’t. I think I got hosed and am not going to allow that to happen anymore but I won’t just let them keep the money. I need it and I earned it and it’s an expensive reminder for me to not trust people I thought I could.

The whole situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I made it worse by bringing the fact into play that the owner and his wife have a special needs child. That may or may not have anything to do with why the comics aren’t being paid but I shouldn’t have brought it up. The only reason I did was because that’s the only thing I knew that would get heard.

That’s one thing I learned from my father. He went right for the sore spot with anybody and it always worked. ALWAYS. Race, affliction, malady, nothing was sacred and I saw him sting an opponent time after time with one punch. That’s exactly what I did here and I regret it. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to still get paid, and in fact it’s all I ever wanted.

The truth is I donated an entire week’s pay in the past to a charity drive for that kid and that’s why a bounced check hurts so much now. It’s been SIX WEEKS and I was totally counting on that money then and I can really use it now. I tried to reason and explain my position but nobody heard it. I tried to be ‘nice’ but that just doesn’t work. Then I hit the magic button and that got heard. I shouldn’t have done it and I was wrong. But pay me.

A Double Slump Buster

October 4, 2009

Saturday October 3rd, 2009 –

Chicago, IL/Rockford, IL

Up and down, in and out, joy and pain, heaven and hell. That pretty much describes life in a nutshell. With me it’s been the last couple of days. I needed a slump buster to relieve some of the pain from this whole Giggles mess and not only did I get it I got an extra one.

The first was our Jerry’s Kidders segment on WGN today. Those can be in and out and although we always have fun getting together as a group sometimes I’m not thrilled with how it comes off on the air. I know I’m goofy that way and have a way higher standard of excellence than most people but I want it to be right and do the very best show possible.

Today we were on point and it worked how it’s supposed to. We were loose and funny and flowed back and forth seamlessly and we all felt the energy in the studio. When we’re in that groove the time flies by and it’s pure electricity. That’s what makes radio addictive because it really feels great to be in a zone like that. I know that comes through on the air.

After the show we usually go hang out for lunch and that’s even more fun but today we stayed at the station in a conference room and worked out some scenes for our play we’re working on with Vicki Quade. Everyone is contributing and I’ll be the first to admit I was very skeptical at the start but now we’re all really excited. We can feel it coming together.

None of us consider ourselves actors but we are performers and we have a feel for what an audience likes. We’re all putting our standup bits in a theatre setting and collaborating on it and that’s what’s making it greater than the sum of the parts. We put in a solid three hours doing a read through at the table and then rewrites after that but that time flew too.

After that Tim Slagle, Ken Sevara and I went to the famous Billy Goat tavern to grab a ‘cheezborger, cheezeborger’ and talk about how we thought the marketing should go and ask questions that were very smart to ask BEFORE any money starts rolling in. We’re all communicating well and this project feels right to all of us. It’s worth investing our time.

It was exciting to sit there and talk about where we want to go with this project because it’s getting close to the time when we’ll be able to start selling it. Vicki Quade knows her stuff and we’re lucky to be working with her. Everyone who has become involved with us has been a perfect fit so far. Kipper McGee is another one. He believed in us right away.

Kevin Metheny is the program director at WGN and he hired Jerry back in Minneapolis several years ago. He’s had nothing but good things to say about us and we’re starting to catch on with the staff at WGN. Everyone has been polite and treated us professionally in every way but now I can feel it getting friendlier. Now it’s like “Oh, you’re a KIDDER?”

One of those guys is Steve Alexander, the news guy when we’re on. He’s got a voice of God set of pipes like most big market news guys do but he’s got a great sense of humor to go with them. He was always nice and a great talent but today he came in and visited for a few minutes when we were meeting and he didn’t have to do that. I can tell he likes us.

We like him too. It’s all starting to feel right on many levels, especially after the energy of a hot show like we had today. People in the building pass us in the halls and their eyes light up and they say “You guys were SO funny today!” How can that not perk a guy up?

I sure hope we can stay on the air for a while and get the public to react like that. I know we were starting to get a following at WLS before Jerry got gassed but now we’re feeling it start to kick in at WGN too. At first we felt out of place but now we’re really loving it.

This is the kind of environment I live for. Creativity is flowing everywhere and we’re a kick ass team. Not only that, we’re on one of the biggest radio stations in America and we get to display our wares between the ears of hundreds of thousands of people every week.

There are a lot of creative types with real talent who never find the mass outlet but this is a real opportunity for us to be heard and we’re taking advantage of it. Even if we stunk, it’s still a great opportunity. I’d rather stink on a major station than be a genius in Idaho.

I felt really good as I drove to Hoffman Estates to pick up Jim McHugh to drive to a gig in Rockford, IL for some U.A.W. workers who have an annual comedy night. Our mutual friend Jim Stone from WXRX radio got a call asking if he knew of any comedians and he was nice enough to think of me. McHugh and I have been on with Stone quite frequently.

Again, everything about this gig worked exactly as it was supposed to. Jim Stone called me and suggested Jim McHugh, who I would have chosen anyway. The guy who booked us wanted three comedians so I chose my friend Steve Purcell from Madison. He’s a great guy and one of my favorite former students and not only that today was also his birthday.

It just all fit together perfectly. Then we got to the union hall and the guy who bought us came over and he couldn’t have been any nicer. His name was Doug and he treated all of us like kings, as did everyone else in the place. Jim and Steve both know how to act and it wasn’t fake from any of us. We were grateful for the work and they were glad we came.

That’s the formula for sure success and we had a killer show. I’m good at getting energy going up front so I got them loosened up and cheering and introduced Steve. Steve did his set and did very well and then brought Jim up who took it where I knew he would. He’s a super solid comic and I knew he’d be perfect for this audience and he was. He nailed it.

They wanted to take a smoke break for 20 minutes after Jim and normally that would be a bad idea but these people were great so I knew I’d have no problems and I didn’t. I went up and ripped it up for my 45 minutes and I gave them absolutely everything in the tank. I respect how hard they work and they were good people who deserved to get our very best.

Why can’t it be like this every week? One of these things would have made my day, but both made it pure heaven. I made more tonight than I made for the week at Giggles, and I got stiffed on that. Plus, I got to work with great comics who are also great people, not the incompetent filthy mope I got stuck with that week. THIS is the vibe I want to continue.

Don’t Poke The Tiger

October 3, 2009

Friday October 2nd, 2009 – Milwaukee, WI

Well, it’s a good thing I shut my phone off yesterday because apparently now I’m being stalked by the wife of the owner of Giggles. I didn’t even waste my time listening to any of the messages or look at any of the texts because I am not going to allow myself to sink any deeper into the red zone than I already am. I just want my money and I will move on.

There are apparently postings on Face book but I’m not even going to look at them so it won’t set me off. I deleted her emails too except the last one that said I was a coward. I’m actually doing them all a favor by not answering them because I will do something I’ll be sorry for later. I’ve been in this situation before and people just don’t know when to stop.

They keep poking and poking and poking and then I’m the bad guy when I snap. Sorry, I’m not going to stand for not getting paid. I’m going to get my money this time but it’s a total challenge for me not to grab a golf club and play a tune on someone’s head. I’m not a violent guy but there is a point where anyone would snap and I’m rapidly nearing mine.

This whole situation is so unnecessary. I’ve done great shows for them for piss poor pay for many years and one time I even donated an entire week’s pay to a charity because they have some kind of water head circus freak baby or something and I was trying to be nice.

This is the thanks I get? I guess you just can’t be nice to some people. It’s disrespectful and I won’t accept it. Call me a coward. Whatever. Better that than inmate. Those idiots aren’t worth my time at this point so I’m going to ignore everything – except my money.

This bridge is burned but I couldn’t care less because it’s a second rate club and sinking fast. I do expect to be PAID for a brutal week of work where I had to spend it apologizing for the filthy opener to people who came to see me. The whole experience was disgusting.

I tried to be professional about it and go through the booker but that doesn’t seem to be  working. Apparently he forwarded it to the owner who showed it to his wife who thought she was really getting to me by calling me a coward. Ooooh, I’m SO crushed. Woe is me.

I’ve got skin as thick as a watermelon rind when it comes to stuff like that and if she is stupid enough to think my ignoring her is a ‘victory’, then so be it. She has no idea of my smoldering inner rage or how hard I’ve tried my whole life to keep it under control. I have to fight it especially hard at times like this or I’ll turn into the Incredible Hulk. Not good.

I don’t want to threaten anyone or fight with anyone or do anything but get paid for my completed work. I can get mean with the best of them and the last thing those people need in their lives is my undivided attention. I don’t want to go there because it won’t end well.

Why does life have to unfold like this? Am I supposed to learn a lesson from it? I have always treated people well, or at least I thought I have. Maybe it’s me. This situation isn’t pleasant on any level and I wish I never would have worked for them. But I did. Too late.

I thought it was just a Milwaukee thing because I had a similar experience across town at another debauchery pit years ago but that’s just been in two comedy clubs. Actually my experience at Jokerz was very pleasant, but I stupidly went with Giggles because I tried to be ‘loyal’. What a dummy I was. Jokerz paid me more money and offered me more work.

The owner of Giggles asked me to make a decision and we had gotten along pretty well for several years so I thought I was being a ‘good soldier’ by being loyal. And now I get a rubber check as a reward. Who wouldn’t be furious about it? I know I’m not the only one.

This is small time minutia from small time thinkers. Comedy clubs are DEAD, and I am wasting my time trying to carve out a future in them. There are still some good ones and I still love to perform but the numbers game of getting into these clubs are shrinking daily.

I’ll stand by my record as a whole, and it’s overwhelmingly positive. I am usually a very easygoing guy and keep to myself. I’m not a partier and I don’t drink at all so I don’t hang with the staff as a whole but that’s not a bad thing. I find I stay out of trouble that way but sometimes a staff can take that as being aloof. It does have a bearing on getting rehired.

Unfortunately, none of that has anything to do with FUNNY. That’s what I’m interested in and nothing else. That’s the reason many of us put up with insanity like this in the first place. We want the work. I’m getting past that now. Yes, I still want to work but not if the situation is like this particular one. It’s ugly, uncalled for and it’s a watermark in my life.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. If I have to work at Wendy’s for a while or park cars or whatever I need to do to survive I’ll do it but I’m going to move on from this level and not work for these kind of people anymore. I have busted my ass for a lifetime and getting a bounced check AND called a coward is not on my ‘to do‘ list now.

On the other hand, I was in Milwaukee today and sat in on The D List on ESPN. Totally different vibe in there, let me tell you. Drew and Dan are always fantastic and they always make me feel like a big star. Their producer Matt ‘Fish’ Salmon and everyone in there has always rolled out the red carpet and that’s the vibe I’ll keep supporting. Those guys rock.

They were kind enough to invite me up to hang out for the pregame buildup for the big Packers/Vikings Monday Night Football game this week. There was food and fun and the other guest was Caitlin Morrall, a beauty pageant winner who loves sports. We’ve shared studio time before and she’s the real deal. She’s very well spoken and stunning to look at.

She’s also very funny and nice too. She won the lottery but she isn’t cocky at all and we all had a blast making picks and talking sports and it made me realize that life is about the vibe and this is a good one. Giggles brings out my rage. The D List makes me feel at ease.

Being an entertainer is difficult enough without having to deal with thorns like this. I’ve had my fill and need to focus on making myself financially able to blow these people out of my life. Too bad I picked the worst financial time to do it. That’s why I’m Mr. Lucky.

Desk Jockeying

October 2, 2009

Thursday October 1st, 2009 – Chicago, IL

Today was a positive start to the fourth quarter of 2009. I’m pleased. I left my phone off the whole day and didn’t miss it at all. Some people are phoners and others are emailers. I am an emailer. The phone is a necessary evil in my business even though I don’t use mine like I should. It’s much more under the radar dealing via emails and I like that a lot more.

In the old days the phone was THE way to get comedy bookings. Tracking down all the bookers was like calling in to radio stations trying to win a prize. “The fifth caller gets six weeks of work in Florida!” That’s exaggerating, but not a lot. It was hell back then as the cost of long distance was a lot more than it is now. My phone bill often eclipsed my rent.

We’d have to call bookers hoping to get them not only on the phone but to also open up their calendars and give us work.  It was always on the booker’s whim. “Call me back in a few weeks” was a very common blow off and that’s a very vague term. How long IS that?

I used to really hate working the phones trolling for work but some comics are excellent at it. Usually those are the guys with the worst acts but not always. It’s just another hat we wear as comedians. The stage part is very small. We’re also sales people and travel agents and promoters and publicists and mechanics if our cars break down and other things too.

Fortunately I had enough ability and was easy to work with for enough people that I was usually able to fill my schedule any time I wanted. For a few nice years bookers would be calling ME and I’d just fill in my dates to taste. Some clubs still do that but there aren’t as many as their were and most of us are now having to go out and actively seek new work.

That’s ok, clubs aren’t the only place to work as a comedian. There are many venues for standup comedy and I’m going to start finding some. I had lunch with Marc Schultz today to give him our Jerry’s Kidders flyers for the play we’re working on with Vicki Quade. In theatre circles it will be a ‘play’, but in reality it’s our standup bits disguised as a play.

Marc is a great friend but also able to sell this kind of thing a lot easier than he was able to sell my former standup tape. The Craig Ferguson DVD will also help and he’s getting a few nibbles for gigs I wouldn’t have gotten before because I was perceived as ‘clubbish’. I’ll end up getting some of these gigs and hopefully get to leave the toilet clubs behind.

Andy Martello is a Chicago comic/juggler who moved to Las Vegas not long ago. I like Andy as a person and I don’t share the typical comic’s hatred of jugglers. I’m to the point now I don’t really care what someone’s act is, if he gets booked that’s fine. I judge people by if I like them as people and Andy gets a thumbs up there. He’s a good guy and a pro.

Andy has been getting booked from tapes for years. He’s not a club guy and has been in it as long as I have so he must be doing something right. Andy’s wife April and Marc and I had a great lunch at a place called ‘Booby’s’ which of course starts jokes going right off the bat. The food was excellent but the company was better. I sat with my ears wide open.

When I did my Late Late Show appearance in July Andy sent me one of the best emails I’ve ever received. He congratulated me but told me to enjoy the moment and know it’s a rare and special treat that not everyone gets to experience. He said not to focus on all that went wrong but to enjoy the fact that I got on and bask in it and also kudos from friends.

I still have that email and I thanked him in person as we sat there today. He nailed it and I totally got what he meant. I did enjoy it and I still do now. I’m very grateful for my little time in the sun and whether or not anything else ever comes of it I had a dream come true.

I think more WILL come of it though and that’s what I’m going to start going after right now. I’m getting my groove back and I can feel it. When I’m in sync with the universe the path seems to open right before me but when I’m not it feels like everything I do is wrong and I’m trapped in a perpetual nightmare with no hope of waking up. I’m glad that’s over.

Lunch was early and I had to drive into the city so I didn’t get my walk in until after but I did squeeze two brisk laps in at the old Gurnee Mills 500. I felt pretty good and my head was firing on all cylinders, cranking out ideas and lining up an order of things I need to do to get myself to where I know I belong. Living like a cockroach isn’t what I want in life.

After my walk I gently sipped an extra delicious  Jamba Juice as I sat in the car thinking about what I really want to do in life. I got back home and immediately cleaned off all the clutter from my desk and started there. I scrubbed it, dusted it off and started reorganizing it like I never have before. The first thing I did was break in two calendars for next year.

I bought them recently but today I wrote my name and info in both in case I lose one or the other and that’s in fact why I have two of them. Many times I get calls in the car to see if I’m available and I have to wait until I get home to answer. That’s not smart business.

If there’s one thing I need to be, it’s smarter in business. I now have my calendar for the next few months organized and I will start firing off my avails to clubs I’ve worked in the past and start looking for new ones. I need to keep that up even though I’m looking to get work in other venues, like with the Kidders’ play. I’ve let my booking contacts drift away.

I also sat and outlined what I really want to do with many facets of my life from comedy to teaching comedy classes to doing radio to just being an entrepreneur. I have books I am hoping to read and audio programs I want to hear and I went about getting started as I was cleaning out my work space and starting over again. It felt great to get myself in motion.

This next three months is going to be a how to clinic. It’ll either be how to get one’s life in gear or how to totally ruin one in 90 days. Either way, I’m going to do something that’s going to get results. I have too much left inside me to dry up now. I’ve got work to do.

I listened to some Wayne Dyer and it was really great. It was just what I needed to hear at this time and it felt totally right. Then I listened to a Don Lapre CD I had and that was a perfect fit too. I have an outline. I have burning desire. Now all I need is steady progress.

End Of The 3rd Quarter

October 1, 2009

Wednesday September 30th, 2009 – Lake Villa, IL

Today marks the end of the third quarter of 2009. It’s been quite a year for me as I have had not one but two national television appearances as a comedian and am planning for a third. I received word I’ll be on November 13th which is of course a Friday. Mr. Lucky is a great Friday the 13th fit and I’m trying to establish myself as the ideal guest to have on.

The show I’ll be on is called ‘The Morning Buzz’ and it’s taped in Orlando, FL. I know one of the co-hosts from Utah and he’s a great guy named Mitch English. It’s kind of like Good Morning America for people 18-34 but they do a very good show. I’ve seen it many times when I’ve been on the road. Mitch is really funny and is an excellent host as well.

I’m not sure how many markets they’re in but it is all over the country so while it’s not necessarily a network show like The Late Late Show it won’t hurt at all to be on. Mitch is going to make sure I get a good spot and it’s worth the trip. I was able to get a booking at a local club which doesn’t pay great but it should cover my airfare, rental car and hotel.

This gives me six weeks to prepare for the spot which is more than I had to prepare for both of the other ones combined. I’m not complaining about short notice but it’s better if I have time to prepare. I don’t think it’s going to be a standup spot but rather a chance to be interviewed about being a comic and teaching classes too. I want to have products ready.

I know I can crank out a quality version of my comedy course in six weeks time. I have all the lessons and I’ve taught them successfully for 15 years. Now it’s my job to put it all in an attractive and sellable package before I get there so I won‘t waste a TV appearance.

That age group is ideal for what I’m selling. I know I can help young comedians avoid a ton of stupid rookie mistakes if they’re willing to listen. Many times they aren’t but those who do will get way more than they paid for the course. I’ve been talking about doing this for way too long now, it’s time to shut my mouth and roll up my sleeves and go DO this.

I did get to a few things today I’ve been meaning to do for a while like get a haircut and have the oil changed in my car. It came with a wash too so now my little red Toyota looks a few years newer, or at least it did for ten minutes until the giant constipated pterodactyl that flew overhead dropped a wet sloppy flying bowel movement smack dab on my hood.

I guess I wouldn’t be Mr. Lucky if things like that didn’t keep on coming out of the blue to remind me my struggles still aren’t over on this planet. I don’t know what that bird was eating but if the remnants were that big it had to be something huge. It made me laugh out loud and there isn’t a whole lot of that going on these days. A lot of people are struggling.

I have no idea what the future holds for us all. This isn’t the America I grew up in and it changes faster than I can keep up. Panic is in the air and jobs are a rare commodity so I’m going to have to think like an entrepreneur to survive. This is what makes people rich and it’s time for action. The fourth quarter is when big games are won. The clock starts now.