Archive for January, 2010

Two Hots And A Not

January 31, 2010

Saturday January 30th, 2010 – Chicago, IL/St. Charles, IL

Three shows today – two on stage, one on radio. The two on stage had a total combined audience of around 400. The radio show had several hundred thousand, if not more. Two out of the three shows came off without a hitch. Guess which one sucked rotten eggs?

I have to admit, I really stunk it up on Jerry’s Kidders today on WGN and I feel horrible about it. Jerry Agar is nice enough to have us on and I never want to embarrass either him or the station. I don’t take that opportunity lightly, and I want to contribute when I’m on.

I feel like I owe it to both Jerry and the other Kidders to step up and be the leader in the room as we’re on the air. I’ve done radio and comedy, and know the timing of both. It’s a total blast when it’s going well, and it usually does. Today I thought we were misfiring on all cylinders, and most of it started with me. For whatever reason, we never hit our stride.

Ken Sevara took the week off because he had a gig. Since we’ve been on WGN, each of us has had to bow out at some point, only because Saturdays are our work days. It’s tough for all three of us to make it in every week, but nobody’s angry about it. It’s just how it is.

Dale Irvin filled in for Ken, and he’s a total pro. He has his own individual bit he’s been doing for years called “The Friday Funnies” and it’s basically the same thing we do as the Kidders. He finds goofy news stories of the week and writes jokes. They’re funny jokes at that, and they’re on video. You can subscribe at http://www.daleirvin.com and I recommend it.

Tim Slagle is our other Kidder and he’s usually on point also. In fact, we tend to like to tease Ken because he’s not the strongest ad libber. That’s not a bad thing, he just isn’t. He likes to be prepared and he can do great impressions and voice characterizations that none of the rest of us can, so everyone has their place. Today, that place wasn’t a radio studio.

One would think with three of us who’ve been on the air before and Jerry, we’d be able to get in there and start throwing heat from all directions. Many times we do exactly that, but not today in my opinion. Nobody else said anything, but I felt like it was a train wreck the whole time, and most of it was my fault. The harder I tried to flow, the less it worked.

We fell back on a lot of self effacing humor and made fun of ourselves, but that doesn’t cut it for long. Eventually, someone needs to land on some punch lines. I’ll admit I like to work off the cuff, and this is the danger of what can happen when that doesn’t work out.

I don’t want to overanalyze it, but we weren’t anywhere near where we should be today. This is one of the advantages of radio though. If we did stink, it was diluted and we didn’t have to suffer the torture of having to eat it live on stage in front of a room full of people.

That’s the worst feeling I know. If an audience doesn’t like a show, everybody knows it. And I do mean everybody. Time slows down and it’s a bloody vortex of negative energy. On radio, people either don’t know or care, or if they do they can just change the station.

What probably happened was that nobody noticed. I did, but that doesn’t mean anything at this point. It’s not my show. My name is nowhere on the product at all except for at the top of the show when Jerry introduces us. If I’m going to pick a place to blow it, this is it.

Still, I never want to put Jerry or the guys in a bad way. We’ve all worked way too hard and long to start slacking off now. If we’re going to be on the air, we should be able to be at least a little bit funny for those who take time to listen. I don’t think it happened today.

The good news is, what I think about this doesn’t matter one tiny little bit. Perception is always what matters, and the perception is we’re good enough to be asked to be on WGN radio. We’ve had enough good shows where the powers that be haven’t yanked us off yet.

This one was just a blip. Athletes get into slumps and I’m sure actors and musicians and any other kind of performing artist has to deal with an off day once in a while. This was a show that I didn’t like, but sometimes I can be way too hard on myself. Maybe I am now.

The two shows at Zanies tonight were a completely different story. I didn’t nod out this time and was ready to go from the beginning. There were two nicely packed houses and it felt good to have an opportunity to work a full week of well attended shows at a club. It’s how every week used to be back in the boom years, and I forgot how much fun that was.

The other acts on the show this week were both nice so that also made it fun. Zanies has a smart policy of hiring ‘house emcees’ which are experienced people to host their shows for a month at a time or maybe longer. I’ve house emceed in the past and loved it. It helps the club by making the shows stronger and helps the acts by giving us steady local work.

The house emcee this month is Vince Maranto, a funny guy I’ve known for probably 25 years now. We met when I first started coming to Chicago and have stayed friends all that time. Vince has the distinction of having had only two jobs in his entire life – McDonald’s and comedy. He started working at McDonald’s in high school and climbed up the ladder.

Eventually, he became a manager at the Woodfield Mall location when it was officially the busiest McDonald’s in the world. He started doing comedy and that became his career but he has some interesting stories of his McDonald’s years. Vince is always fun to work with. We make each other laugh off stage because we’ve got so much common reference.

The feature act is a 22 year old Indian kid named Prashanth Venkataramanujam. That’s more than a mouthful, and he just uses his first name on stage. He’s very bright and has a big future if he stays with it. He’s a good looking smart kid, and I hope he does very well. He asked me to grab some food after the show and pick my brain, which is totally smart.

Most kids his age wouldn’t have that foresight, but he totally does. I tried to help him as much as possible, as did Vince. He’s still green and putting his act together, but there’s an absolute spark there, and he was eager to learn from us all week. Working with a pup has a way of rubbing off on two old dogs like Vince and myself. It was a fun week all around.

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Asleep At The Meal

January 31, 2010

Friday January 29th, 2010 – St. Charles, IL

This is turning out to be a stellar week of work at Zanies for many reasons. First, we’ve had good numbers for every show so far. I’m not sure if I’m a draw, but it doesn’t matter. I see butts in seats and they’ve walked out smiling and that’s what makes everyone happy.

I’ve been getting great reports on the comment cards, and that never hurts either. Still, I never liked those things and still don’t. The booker of a venue should know what acts are right for that particular room, and not have to consult the unwashed masses for their input on who they want to see in the future. Most of them have no idea what they’re looking at.

That’s no offense to anyone, just fact. Most clubs have some kind of mailing list card to fill out which allows people to suggest who they’d like to see at the club. Most put names like ‘Jay Leno’ or ‘Jerry Seinfeld’ or ’Bill Cosby’ or even some comedians who’ve died.

Sorry comedy fans, Bill Cosby’s career path won’t be leading him to St. Charles, IL any time soon. He has quite a few bigger venues he could sell out in the time it takes to whip up a batch of Jello pudding. He doesn’t need to be working a 300 seat comedy club. I do.

That’s why I don’t need some halfwit marking down bad scores just because he doesn’t like the shirt I’m wearing or the waitress didn’t bring his Long Island Ice Tea fast enough. That kind of thing happens all the time in a lot of one nighters, and it isn’t very fair at all.

But what is? Not much that I know. I just know that Cyndi does her job as the manager and a lot more and tonight she took the comics out to dinner at the world class restaurant called “The Harvest” in the resort. It’s an outstanding experience, from the off the charts food to the amazing service. It’s one of the absolute finest places I’ve ever eaten a meal.

The resort doesn’t have to do that and neither does Cyndi, but they do and we were very grateful for everything. Our server couldn’t have been more thorough and kept our drinks and butter and everything else full the entire meal. We went early enough so it wasn’t that busy yet, and we could enjoy the whole experience. THIS is what makes life worth living.

Hanging out with wonderful friends and eating fantastic food for free is a nice job perk, especially in this day and age. I might not be Donald Trump, but I sure got treated exactly like him tonight. No matter what goes wrong in the next month, this was a total highlight.

After dinner we all went back to the showroom for the start of the first show. I was full from dinner and sat in the back to watch the show like I’m supposed to do. I need to keep track of what happens in case I need to comment on it. Too bad I nodded out in about ten minutes. The host did his time and brought the feature act up, but I slept through all of it.

A waitress woke me up literally right as I was getting introduced. I leapt from my chair and tried to be calm, but I was WAY out of it. There I stood, in front of a full house after just waking up. That’s most people’s worst nightmare. Not me. I enjoyed the challenge.

A Boozy Floozy

January 29, 2010

Thursday January 28th, 2010 – St. Charles, IL

I’m working at Zanies in St. Charles, IL this week which is located in the Pheasant Run Resort. The club is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year and I’ve worked every one of them. How far I’ve come, both personally and as a comedian. It was my training ground.

I still love working there. The manager is Cyndi Nelson, one of the nicest people I have ever met in life, much less the comedy business. She was a waitress and ended up getting the manager’s job when the last one was caught tapping the till, and she’s become one of the best comedy club managers in the country. She lives and breathes everything comedy.

I’ve seen club managers burn out all over the country, and I hope that doesn’t happen to Cyndi. She’s been there for several years and every comic loves working for her. She puts a whole lot of extra effort into her job to make us feel like we’re really in show business.

Most of the old pros really appreciate it and look forward to playing there. I know I do. The physical makeup of the club itself is very good. The stage is roomy and high enough up so everyone in back can see. The sound is crisp and the lighting is good too. It rocks.

The headliners have to do some local suburban radio shows, but that’s ok. Hopefully it helps put butts in seats. A new addition this time through was a pod cast by two guys who call their show “The Greatest Show In The World”, which is an outstanding title, rivaled only by my friend Steve “The Homer” True’s “ The World’s Greatest Sports Talk Show.”

Title is important, but these guys have a really good show too. They’re named “Frankie & The Cheez” and both of them used to be in radio until they got a dose of the old see ya later and never went back. You can hear them at http://www.thegreatestshowintheworld.com.

The shows this week have been well attended so far. Last night there was a late holiday party of Payless Shoes managers from the Chicago area and they were an especially good audience. I tend to go over well to working class audiences, as I don’t talk down to them.

Tonight was even fuller, and 99% of the audience was very good. Unfortunately, it had to be right up front where the 1% sat, and they ruined it for everyone else. Typical. I saw the problem the first ten seconds I was on stage, because it was from a super hot blondie who would NOT shut up. She was distracting by both her looks and drunken babbling.

To make it even worse, she was with some total bag of donuts loser with a shaved head, goatee, chain wallet and attitude to match. Plus, he was a Sox fan and had to let it be said to the point of me having to shut him up to the roaring applause of the rest of the crowd.

This was no easy task, and I had all I could handle to keep the show under control as the evening went on. There was a very full house tonight and it was a fundraiser for some sort of softball league or something, and I could tell they were a bit older than last night and a lot more white collar. I know how to read my audiences after all these years of doing it.

Last night I had a more direct approach to capture them right away, but tonight I needed to be less aggressive up front and gradually ramp it up. Paying attention to these details is what makes a professional entertainer, and it takes years of experience to nail it correctly.

I also knew I had to work ‘big’. The room in Pheasant Run is narrow and long, just like the downtown Zanies in Chicago. This one is about three times as large, so when they are full to the back, the comedian has to be very careful to work to all parts of the audience.

I made sure I did that tonight. I consciously slowed my cadence WAY down, especially in the first few minutes, and used big sweeping animated gestures to punctuate my points. Old school professional wrestlers were great at this, as they had to communicate the story of the match to the people in the cheap seats. It’s a very subtle technique, but effective.

Miss Boozie Boobs started in with her vociferous diarrhea up front, and I could tell I’d be dealing with her the rest of the night. She wanted attention, and I guess her mini skirt and halfway exposed voluptuous knockers weren’t enough. I wanted to dive on her right there, but there were a couple hundred people who wanted to hear jokes. Too bad for me.

She not only would not shut up, she started talking to another woman at the table right behind her. That lady talked back and they started up a conversation right in the middle of  the show. How rude, and I told her that in a way that made the audience laugh but they’d started to get sick of it too, and it was to the point where it could have gotten very ugly.

In the past, I might have really flipped out on her from stage, and I wouldn’t have been wrong in doing it. Cyndi was in the other room because she knows I can handle most any situation on stage and she knows she doesn’t have to baby sit when I’m on. She would’ve had my back no matter what I chose to do, but I made a decision I wasn’t going to snap.

There was a room full of nice people who were enjoying the show and I wanted to give them the very best I could give. I ignored the drunk couple, but DAMN she was sexy. It’s bad enough I have to get heckled by a hottie, but that she was with such an oil can loser is even worse. He gets to have wild sex with her and I get to sit by myself and write about it.

The very worst was that I finally got them relatively quiet enough to launch into my big closer, which is totally a rhythm bit. If I get taken out of my rhythm, it’s shot. It builds up a momentum and the audience gets into it and when it works it’s an ass kicker. When it’s interrupted, it fizzles. Usually, by the time I get to it I’ve got the audience in my grasp.

I almost had them there tonight, but right in the middle of my closer the two love birds got up and left and ruined my flow. They sat right in front and the whole crowd saw them leave. I tried to ignore them but nobody could. Everyone was gawking as they walked out.

This goes with the territory of being a club comic. I did the best I could, and it was still a very good show. I got strong laughs for most of the night, and nobody else in the crowd knows or cares how difficult it was, but I do. I hope those two were too drunk to screw.

Wilde About Larry

January 27, 2010

Wednesday January 27th, 2010 – St. Charles, IL

Most people, including many comedians, don’t realize how much devotion it requires to keep improving the onstage part of our business. There’s so much to do off stage it’s hard to keep growing as a performer, and that’s exactly why it’s so important to keep doing it.

The ‘act’ is the product we sell. Part of that includes jokes, but it’s also a mixture of all kinds of other intangibles from confidence to experience to presentation. It’s a developed persona wrapped up in a total package, and if it’s done correctly it should always evolve.

George Carlin is a perfect example. He had a 40 year career but was constantly evolving to the point of where it even changed his physical appearance. He started out with the suit and tie look and short hair, and evolved into the counterculture hippie wearing jeans and a t-shirt with long hair and a beard. His comedy evolved along with him. He kept growing.

I’m very much at that point myself, and I relish the challenge. I have more material than most comedians already, only because I made a point to keep working on it over the years while everything else in my life exploded around me. Focusing on comedy kept the bullet out of my mouth in some ways, but it also gave me something to do that I really enjoyed.

Comedy is FUN to me. It always has been. I can’t stand dealing with the club owners or the bookers or the brutal travel schedule or the sleazy motels, but the time onstage is what I live for. It makes up for all the other stuff, and if I’m going to sacrifice a ’normal’ life to get it I’m going to go about it correctly. Comedy is a craft, and it needs to be developed.

There are many aspects to that craft, onstage and off. Both are difficult. I’ve spent years which grew into decades learning the ropes onstage, and it didn’t come easy. Many nights I’d wonder if I made the right choice as I stood on the stage of some honky-tonk hell hole hundreds of miles from home hoping to hypnotize a handful of hooched up hillbillies.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but I did learn from it and now I’ve attained a level of expertise as a performer very few ever achieve. Why? Because I stayed with it a lot longer than most others would. Part of that is because of my love of the craft, the other is probably part stupidity. By all accounts I probably should have given this up years ago.

That being said, this is exactly why I need to keep growing. It would be easy to phone in my shows and focus on other things like I’ve seen a lot of other comics do. Unfortunately, some of those things they focused on were bitterness, booze or something else on the ugly list and it ended up destroying the act it took so many years of hard work to put in place.

I don’t think it has to be that way, and I’m going to do something about it. I never drank or did drugs, so that’s a huge minefield I avoided right there. Bitterness on the other hand has been a problem. It’s hard not to be bitter about things that are unfair in life, but who’s going to change that? The only thing any of us can do is become the best US, and let what happens after that happen. That’s where I’m sitting right now. I still can improve greatly.

A major part of that will be reworking my entire onstage act from top to bottom. Every single aspect of everything I do is up for review. It’s like totally remodeling a house that’s been lived in for 25 years. Over that time things wear out or break down and there’s a list of things to fix or improve to bring it back up to speed again. Plus, it’s good to refresh.

My act can use a total rework, and that’s not going to be easy. It’s a matter of busting up a lot of things that have been there for years, but also keeping some of the pillars in place to start rebuilding with a strong foundation. There has to be a well planned blueprint first.

My first 25 years in comedy were very unorganized. I didn’t have much of a battle plan at all other than to just get better on stage and stick it in the ass of everyone who bothered me. That was pretty stupid, especially the last part. Now, I’m not worried about what any other people think. I know where I want to go, and I hope I’m not too late to get there.

The first smart thing I’ve done is knowing what I want to do. I’ve never had that before. The second one will be doing my homework before I start. I’m going to go back in history and study guys before me and see what they did, both right and wrong. I’ve always been a student of the game, but now it’s time to dig even deeper and see what I can find to use.

Larry Wilde is a guy who published over fifty books about comedy from joke books to a classic called “Great Comedians Talk About Comedy”, which interviews a bunch of the biggest names of the 20th century from Bob Hope to Woody Allen to Johnny Carson and a lot more. Larry asks pointed questions and gets some amazing insights from the masters.

There are recordings of his interviews sold on a website called http://www.laugh.com. I have all of them and enjoyed every one. It’s fascinating for me to hear what the guys before me have to say about the craft, and it’s amazing to hear how much of it is timeless, even now.

Larry has his own website at http://www.larrywilde.com and years ago we came into contact, even though I don’t remember exactly how. He’s always been very friendly and I do hear from him on occasion asking me about something comedy related. He’s what I consider a super student of the game, and that’s what I aspire to as well. He’s on top of his business.

He’s also a great entrepreneur, something I really need to learn. I contacted Larry about buying some of the recordings he made with more obscure but equally brilliantly talented comedians like Dick Gregory, Ed Wynn, George Jessel and Joey Bishop. I told him I was interested in buying out all he had and they came in the mail today. I can’t wait to listen.

The complete list besides the people I mentioned are Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Shelley Berman, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas, Maurice Chevalier, Jack Benny, George Burns and Jerry Seinfeld. Those are some heavy hitters and I’m sure I’ll learn from every one.

This is the kind of stuff most performers won’t do. One, it was an investment of money. Larry cut me a deal, but it still will cost a chunk of change not to mention the time it takes to listen, make notes and implement what I learned. But, it’s worth it. I‘ll really improve.

Big Odds And Bob Uecker

January 27, 2010

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee today for an appearance on The D-List radio show on ESPN 540  with Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I always love hanging out on the air and they give me walk on status to come in pretty much any time I want. I really appreciate that but I never want to abuse the privilege so I always try to have something to contribute when I’m on.

Today I didn’t have to do much at all, so I tried to insert a few quick lines and then stay out of the way. The whole Brett Favre situation was still the talk of the town and I let the guys take the show where they wanted. They were on a roll so I just sat back and listened. I cracked off a couple of halfway decent lines, but I didn’t want to force it so I laid low.

They have celebrity guests in on Tuesdays and today it was Brian Calhoun, a free agent NFL running back who played with the Detroit Lions from 2006-2008. He played college ball at both Colorado and Wisconsin and he went to high school in the Milwaukee area.

What a nice guy he is. He was very laid back and excellent on the air and he fit in really well with the show. I was fascinated with his stories on air and off of his experience as an NFL player, and all that it takes to get there. He had some pretty nasty injuries, including a ‘ripped quadriceps’. Yeowch. It made us all flinch, and that was just hearing about it.

I can’t imagine the pain of the actual injury, but that’s part of life as a professional. The guy is built like an absolute rock, and has giant hands that could probably twist my melon head off like a bottle cap. If anyone can recover from a ripped anything, I’d bet on Brian.

It occurred to me as I listened to the interview that the odds of being a household name and a genuine star at anything are way beyond astronomical. I mean, here’s a guy that has amazing athletic talent and was at the top of his class in high school and TWO colleges.

Still, he only gets drafted in the third round. ‘Only’, like that’s an insult. It isn’t, and it’s what made me think of just how rare it is to be a top five or ten first round draft choice in any major sport. Even after that, there’s no guarantee of success. A lot of people bust out.

Brian said he still wants to play in the NFL and I’m really rooting for him. He’s over his injuries and said he’s 100% and hopes his agent can land him a job somewhere. That also was a red flag when I heard it. Now he has to jump through all those hoops as well as the actual training and dedication it takes to be a player. Those guys are treated like cattle.

He also said he played on the Detroit Lions 0-16 team in 2008. Everyone made fun of it at the time, but nobody did today because we all realized just how much effort it takes for anyone to even make an NFL roster, much less win a championship, much less one game.

And, no offense to Brian at all, but now he’s gone. He’s only 25, but every year there’s a new crop of young bucks coming up from all over that want to take his job. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and I have nothing but respect for the guy. I hope he gets to return.

Another guy I have nothing but respect and admiration for is Bob Uecker. Today is his birthday and I still want to meet him in person before I take a stray bullet or crash my car again. He’s always been one of my very favorite comics, even though he’s not a standup.

The guy is just FUNNY. Period. He’s got ‘it’, and I’ve found him to be hilarious since I started listening to him do Brewer games on the radio with Merle Harmon as a kid. Then I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and realized he was using the boring parts of games to polish his bits for TV, and the Brewers were pretty bad to say the least.

At the time I had no idea how the process of comedy worked so I’d watch him rattle off stories I’d heard before on the radio, but they were trimmed down to a streamlined polish and flowed seamlessly with a smooth easy rhythm like he was just saying it off the top of his head. Johnny would go nuts and it felt kind of cool to see a local guy on national TV.

Bob Uecker is another example of the numbers game. He plays it up like he was a very poor player, but the truth is he made the major leagues in the early ‘60s when there were  a lot fewer teams. He also lasted for quite a few years and played on a World Series team in ‘64 with St. Louis. There are a LOT of players who never came close to doing all that.

That being said, he still was never a star player. He’s light years ahead of the people on the street, but in the game he was just another guy. He made the most of what he could do with what he had, and then he moved on as crop after crop of new talent kept coming up.

Yes, he sure did find his niche as a broadcaster – so much so that he made Cooperstown. But how many other guys did he play with that went back to their hometown and found a dead end job and drifted off into obscurity? Probably a lot. The whole thing really blows my mind, and it actually puts me in a good space about what I’ve achieved in comedy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big comedy star. I’m not even a small to medium. I’m an above average performer just like Brian Calhoun and Bob Uecker are above average with what they chose to pursue. Both of them made the big time, and that’s no small task for a person in any competitive field like sports or entertainment. A precious few become stars.

I made it to the big time by getting on national TV, even if it was only for a few minutes at 1am. I did it, and it went well. I didn’t embarrass myself, or the network either. I could easily go on and do it again, and would love the opportunity just as Brian Calhoun wants to get another shot at the NFL. It’s not a matter of if he can do it, it’s will he get his shot?

I’m in the same boat in comedy. I could do an infinite number of appearances, but now it’s a matter of how and where will I get that shot? I don’t know, but it’s not out of line to think it COULD happen. Still, there’s no guarantee it will lead to becoming a big star.

The thing we all have to do is keep plugging and do the best we can do. It’s all a major roll of the dice, and odds are against everyone. Bob Uecker played them and won. Brian Calhoun and I are still hoping to hit our jackpot. Someone wins the lotteries, why not us?

Schaden-Favre

January 26, 2010

Monday January 25th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m still buzzing from the delightful outcome of the whole Brett Favre interception situation yesterday. I got to savor it over and over on ESPN many times, and it just gets that much sweeter every time I watch it. Like a good P-Funk record, I never get sick of it. I know it shouldn’t make a bit of difference in my life, but it does.

It’s sick and twisted, but I think I’m getting as much or more enjoyment out of this than if the Packers had actually made it to the Super Bowl, and that scares me. The word for it is ’schadenfreude’, which is German and it means to rejoice in the misfortunes of others.

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t feel that way, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. I turned on both WTMJ and ESPN 540 in Milwaukee today and there were oodles of callers just as pleased as I was. I still felt a little sheepish for loving it so much, but not as bad as I did yesterday when it put me in a state of near euphoria. Why is this so powerful?

I really tried to figure that out all day. To me, Brett Favre represents all those jocks back in school who not only weren’t nice, but they got all the chicks too. Then, they mistreated them but that made the chicks want them more. I guess it’s also a younger brother thing.

He represents the big brother that gets to do what I wanted, but doesn’t appreciate how good he has it and ends up pissing it all away. That’s what he did to the Packers from my viewpoint and I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Then, he got TWO chances that most others don’t get and it got to be sickening. First it was the Jets, then the Viqueens.

I guess it was part jealousy and part envy and another part cold hard realization that my lottery ticket was never punched with the numbers Brett Favre got. Even though he blew it in the eyes of many, he’s still got a ton of supporters who stand by him no matter what. He’s a lightning rod for attention and opinion and that brings with it all the spoils of war.

There were still a few thick headed morons who called the radio stations today trying to defend everything this selfish hillbilly did and continues to do. He’s got a charisma I will never have, and few people ever will. He was blessed with the ability to play football in a way that captivates the masses, and it monopolizes the airwaves. I’ve grown weary of it.

I wish he would just go away, and hopefully this will make him do it. Even Jerry Agar, who I have known for twenty years, took it upon himself to expostulate his theory on why the loss wasn’t Brett Favre’s fault. I just nodded and smiled. He plays Mr. Big Time radio arguer of political points and he’s good at it, but not this time. Brett Favre blew this one.

Jerry sat and smugly defended how it was the fumbles of Adrian Peterson and blah blah blah until I just tuned him out and replayed the vision in my head and recharged myself to the euphoric place I was in most of the rest of the day. I don’t care about anything else but the fact that justice won out, and the high fallutin’ hillbilly has to take the brunt of this for the moment, and I couldn’t help but really enjoy every single solitary second of all of it.

OK, that’s great. Now what? My own life is in need of a major overhaul but here I’m all wigged out wasting what’s left of my youth thinking about some stupid ass football game. This is wasted energy, and I know it. I’ll bet nobody in Haiti cares even a little bit if some millionaire crybaby had his ego ruffled up by losing a game. They’ve got bigger issues.

I need to have bigger issues too. Football is entertainment, and I have to admit this was one of the most entertaining scenarios I’ve ever seen. But it’s over, or at least I need for it to be over with me. Brett Favre has all the resources he’ll ever need for the rest of his life, and so does his family. He’s a special talent, and very few will ever get to experience that.

Every kid dreams of playing sports or being an astronaut or a movie star or maybe even a comedian, but how many actually get to DO it? A whole lot less than dream of it, that’s an icy fact. I was never even close to being good enough to play any sport professionally, and that hurts to admit even now. No matter how long I live, that’s a dream that’s OVER.

Maybe that’s why this feels so good. Brett Favre’s dream is going to be over eventually and then he’ll just be another schmuck like the rest of us, no matter what he does. Yes, he may try broadcasting or fart around with coaching or some little gravy job someone surely will offer him, but it won’t be the same thrill as getting to be the king of all pro football.

The fact is, the guy had a world class life that millions only dream of. He’s human like the rest of us and however he handled himself is what he did. Maybe in future years he’ll regret it, maybe not. I don’t have anything personal against the guy, and just because I am glad he got knocked down a peg, none of this should capture my attention. Who cares?

I’ve made more than my own share of mistakes that I’ve got to deal with. I don’t have a huge mansion and more money than ten banks waiting for me to spend on any whim I can think of. I know that won’t guarantee happiness, but it sure could help a guy search for it.

On a much smaller scale, I’ve been blessed with the ability to do comedy that not many others ever get. I know hundreds of people that look at me jealously because I took a huge risk and went out and chased my own dreams. Maybe I can’t throw a football like a Brett Favre, but I doubt if he can go up and blow a room of strangers away at a comedy club.

I’ve had so many people tell me things over the years like “I’d give ANYTHING to be a comedian full time.” I thought that too when I started, but I actually did it. It wasn’t what I expected, but there are parts of it that are really great. In fact, it’s what keeps me alive in the difficult times. At least I’ve got that. Many people just drift through life totally empty.

I know in my heart I have a lot more entertainment inside of me. I’m a solid comic and a competent radio personality too. Maybe I won’t be able to thrill millions the way a Brett Favre or any other star athlete can, but I’m just not built for that. I never was. It would be like a squirrel trying to enter a cockfight. That’s not what they’re made for. I was made to entertain people, but not by throwing a football. As disappointing as that may be, I do still have some work to do on my own life and career. Football isn’t my canvas. It’s comedy.

Brettribution!

January 26, 2010

Sunday January 24th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

I know it doesn’t mean anything in the big scheme of life, but DAMN am I in a chipper mood knowing the Minnesota Vikings and their sub human orangutan fan base won’t get to have the pleasure of watching their hired hillbilly whore Brett Favre take their team to the Super Bowl at my expense. I had nothing to do with any of it, yet it still delights me.

This whole ugly mess is still a hot button for a lot of people, and I’m one of them. Here I am, slugging it out to pay my bills every month, but I still care that a multi million dollar cocky jock who cares nothing about me gets his comeuppance. But I do. And it’s sweet.

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to absolutely despise Muhammad Ali. She said she’d like to go in the ring herself and kick his ass, just to shut him up. She’d get so upset when he’d come on TV and brag about himself and I thought it was funny to watch how it made her react. He was doing his job, and Grandma didn’t even know it. That’s the idea.

Brett Favre is doing his job too. He’s managed to polarize MILLIONS across America’s heartland that either deify or despise him, and they all watched their TV today to see how the final chapter would turn out. Would he lead his purple devils to the dance or return to the bumbling bumpkin who broke more hearts in Wisconsin than triple bypass surgery?

I have to admit, I was hoping for not just a losing football score, but a heaping helping of humiliation piled on to make it REALLY burn. I wanted the fans of the Vikings to feel the pain I felt when Mr. Fuzz Face Favre threw his last Packer pass to a New York Giant.

This was a very ugly divorce and what man wouldn’t enjoy seeing his ex-wife get fat or do something that drove him nuts for years to her new man? Many might not admit it out loud, but it’s human nature. It may not be pleasant, but it’s real. Packer fans had to endure some hellacious pain over the years, even though he did provide us a lot of thrills as well.

We’d have put up with it had he behaved like a gentleman and gone about his business like a gentleman should. Instead, he put himself above the team and it all went south and the whole soap opera started playing itself out. He got what he thought he wanted, even if a lot of loyal Packer fans felt betrayed. I was one of them and I wanted to see him LOSE.

Well looky there, I got my wish! I turned on the TV during a commercial break during my Mothership Connection radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI just in time to see the New Orleans Saints kick the winning field goal. That made my night, but then the highlights rolled and I saw the interceptions, it made my year. It was football Christmas!

There are still all kinds of blind sheep that think he walks on water and will support him to the end no matter what he does, up to and including genocide and blasphemy. He’s got a brainwashed base of bonehead butt sniffers who fawn on his every move. Then there’s a whole other side of the coin who think he’s the Antichrist and wanted to see him go down in flames. We got our wish and I love it. But Brett is a millionaire. I’m not. Who wins?

The Power Of Nice

January 26, 2010

Saturday January 23rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Today I was surrounded by flat out nice people. All day. And all night too. What a treat it was, and I’m recording it here so next time I’m forced to deal with any one of a number of rotating pukes, maggots and wankers, I can look back and find some encouragement in the fact that there absolutely are a number of quality souls sprinkled throughout this life.

I think they’re sprinkled way too thinly, but they’re around and I cherish every one I get a chance to meet in person. They stand out like a rapper with an accordion and their life’s goal is to please others. Period. Nothing else matters. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life, even if I haven’t always achieved it. More often than not though, I’ve been able to nail it.

Nothing feels better than making someone else feel good, and those who know that will go to the ends of the earth to do it for as many others as possible. A few get recognized as celebrities, like Mother Theresa or Gandhi, but most good people live very low key lives.

I had lunch with Cara Carriveau today. We worked at The Loop back in 2004, and now she works at WTMX “The Mix” following Eric and Kathy‘s morning show. She also has a website at http://www.carasbasement.com where she interviews mostly music related people, but occasionally a few others. I was her first interview when she started and it was a blast.

Cara is a total pro and works relentlessly on not only her career, but at being a mom too. She has two wonderful kids named Jeri and Sam, and they came to lunch too. I met them years ago when Cara had station staff parties at her house and they’re both just super kids.

People like Cara and her kids make life worth living. That whole staff at The Loop was loaded with top notch people from Spike Manton and Max Bumgardner who were on the morning show with me, to Cara who did middays, to Seaver who did afternoons, to Byrd at night, to Mark Zander overnights. We all got along and should all still be there today.

But, that’s only our opinion. Those intellectual gorillas at Emmis Broadcasting decided to blow us all out the door except Byrd. Byrd is a major league rock jock talent, nobody is disputing that. I’m glad he has a job and he deserves one, but so do the rest of that group.

Cara has bounced back nicely at the Mix and she still sounds like the big time talent she always has been. I know how hard she works at everything and was delighted to hear that she’s happier now than at any other job she’s ever had. That’s rare in radio. Good for her.

Tonight I did two more shows at Riddles and the entire staff there are unbelievably nice from top to bottom. Ken Stevens if the owner and it starts there and trickles down to Rick the manager and Patty the bartender to the wait staff and everyone else. The vibe radiates.

How can a person not want to cheer for a Cara Carriveau or a Ken Stevens or any other quality person to thinks of others and makes life better for everyone around them? These are people I want to not only be around more, but emulate as well. They‘re the real deal.

The Opinionator

January 23, 2010

Friday January 22nd, 2010 – Alsip, IL

Even though I usually have strong opinions on any given topic, I never think they mean anything in the grand scheme of life. I’ve met a lot of people who think their opinion is of the utmost importance, and that the world is waiting to hear what oozes from their yap.

Not me. I’m just one guy swimming upstream in life, trying to survive day to day. I like to speak my mind, but rarely do I nail the opinion of the masses. I’ve always felt like I am on the wrong planet, and the older I get the more I want to go back to where I came from.

I’ll get my chance soon enough, and until then I’ll play out my remaining days trying to do the best I can with the tools I’ve been given. Youth is fading quickly, and I’m learning how amazing it was now that it’s leaving. I’m taking on a whole new perspective in life.

That being said, people keep asking me what I think about the Tonight Show situation with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and what I feel about Brett Favre. Why anybody would care what I think about either of those things is beyond me, but lots of people keep asking so I’ll gladly throw in my two cents. I know it means less than nothing, but here it comes.

As far as the Tonight Show goes, I couldn’t care less. I don’t watch any of those shows, but I think there are too many of them. Johnny was great, but it was only him. Now it’s a watered down mish mash of mediocrity, with a shortage of quality guests and content for anyone with an age or IQ over 35. Kanye West’s latest CD has zero interest in my world.

What interests me even less is watching Letterman and Leno fire verbal rockets at each other about what’s going on. Who cares? Not me. They’ve got their millions and I’m still trying to stay booked every week. I’d gladly take a $30 million buyout to go away forever.

Conan never captured my attention, even though I’ve heard he’s a decent guy. He’s my age, so that kind of makes me want to see him do well. When they start calling him old, it means my time is coming to an end too. I’m sorry the guy got put in this situation though. From all I’ve seen he’s taking it well, and I have to believe he’ll land himself a new gig.

If he doesn’t, he’ll have some money to tide him over so he can make up his mind what he wants to do next. That’s a nice problem to have, one I don’t have right now. I’m in the exact opposite situation. I have to find a gig each week to pay my bills so I can survive.

As for Brett Favre, I think he’s the antichrist. His jersey number should be 666 and that legion of purple zombies who cheer for that insidious team got exactly what they deserve. He’s an insincere lout who thinks only of himself, and he’s brainwashed millions of apes into believing he’s a team player. I think he’s a scum bag pig and I hope he gets diarrhea.

All that said, what do Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Brett Favre and me have in common? Absolutely nothing. They’re all household names and multi millionaire celebrities, and I’m a middle aged goof who tells jokes and lives in a basement. They win.

Riddles

January 22, 2010

Thursday January 21st, 2010 – Alsip, IL

It never hurts to have a new place to work, especially in the Chicago area. Zanies is my home base for comedy club work, but they don’t have a club on the south side. There was a rinky dink room I used to work, but that wasn’t worth the drive. It never paid very well.

Chicago is a huge market and there are literally millions of people who might like to see a comedy show, but there are way too few clubs to serve them all. Zanies has been around forever but there’s a lot of territory that doesn’t have anything. The south side of Chicago has been wide open for a while now, and I’m glad to see someone has finally claimed it.

Riddles Comedy Club is where I’m working this week. They used to be open for a long time but the owner sold it and then it closed. They’ve reopened in a new location and the original owner is back in charge. The website is http://www.myriddlescomedyclub.com and the room is really gorgeous. It’s nice to be working for competent people who love comedy.

I only worked at their old location one time. I was driving to and fro from Milwaukee as I remember so I was probably working at 93QFM doing mornings. It was a long drive and at the time the shows ran from Tuesday through Saturday. That’s a lot of time on the road and I just never went back. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the room, I just had other options.

I’d heard the original owner Ken Stevens decided to reopen in a new location and he’s a good friend of Ken Sevara, one of Jerry’s Kidders. Ken Stevens asked Ken Sevara if there were any strong acts in the area he might be able to use that he may have overlooked and my name came up. I got a call from Ken Stevens and got a booking. That’s how it works.

I’m very grateful to get the work, and it taught me a lesson. I really do need to get better at keeping my name out there in front of potential bookers. I could have had tons of work through the years at the old club, but I just never went after it. Zanies has always been my home base in Chicago, but since there’s no south side location they’re fine with Riddles.

How many local weeks of work did I blow by not staying in touch over the years? I had as much road work as I wanted, so I guess I never thought about it. Ken is a very nice guy and I’m sure we would have gotten along great but it just didn’t work out that way. Now, with clubs closing and the economy the way it is, I’m going to be smart and stay in touch.

There are quite a few other places I’ve made the same mistake. I’ve either worked there in the past, or they know my name well enough for me to approach them and at least be in the mix of possible people to book in a fallout situation. I’ve been very lax at my duties of staying in touch with those who could possibly book me and it needs to stop immediately.

This is a wake up call. I need to start reconnecting with everyone and stay in touch on at least a semi regular basis. I hadn’t talked to Ken Stevens in about 20 years. That’s just not smart. Even if I didn’t work for him, I should have kept in touch. Who knows what I may have missed? This is yet another area of life in which I could stand a major improvement.