Archive for February, 2010

Balance Is A Bitch

February 18, 2010

Wednesday February 17th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

It finally feels like I’m starting to make some measurable progress clearing off the huge pile of backed up tasks I set out to do at the beginning of the year. Valentine’s Day is past and time is rounding the corner to my birthday. If I keep it up, I’ll be in full stride by then.

All those quips and slogans motivational speakers use are true, no matter how cliché all of it is. Thoughts ARE things, and inch by inch it IS a cinch. We DO become what we put in our minds, and without goals nothing can be achieved. The hard part is taking action.

I spent most of today sorting through the scattered pile of confusion I’ve allowed to get completely out of control. Books and clothing and scraps of paper with comedy notes and phone numbers and receipts and anything else imaginable are laying around like a tornado went through, and there’s no excuse for it. Yes, I’ve been busy, but this is not acceptable.

I’ve never been a neat freak, but I’m not Oscar Madison either. You wouldn’t know that by walking through the clutter where I live, and it’s to the point of no return. I have to get organized very soon or I’ll never be able to get anything done. It‘s to the boiling point.

I really do have all kinds of things going on, and a lot of them are good, but if I can’t get myself into some sort of order I’ll lose whatever positive momentum I do have. This is an inner tweak which is manifesting itself outwardly and I’m just not going to let it continue.

One thing for sure is that my grandfather was SO right when he used to talk about how the most difficult thing in life to achieve was balance. He said it was even more difficult than getting rich, because many who did get rich sacrificed a lot of other things to do it.

Being balanced in all areas of life is the ultimate challenge. Has anyone done it? I used to think Tiger Woods was pretty close, but then he had his little fender bender and all that ended. Who else is close? Bill Gates? Oprah Winfrey? I guess I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are some people who have found a way to balance.

Extreme wealth isn’t necessary, but some degree of it is. Also, physical health, a family, creativity, continuing education, a chance to give back and all kinds of other things are on that list. Who has time to do all of it? How about even some of it? Most of us stumble our way through life, maybe focusing on a few things we do well because it strokes our ego.

How about taking time to really work at what we’re not good at? That takes total guts to even try, but I totally want to do it. If I never get rich or famous but continue to grow for a lifetime, does that make me a failure or a success? It depends who’s asked on what day.

I’d love to have it all, but is it in the cards? Is it even possible? I don’t know, but I put a full day’s work in today and in the short run it meant nothing. In the long run, if I keep up daily improvement I’ll be a much better me in not that long of time. I‘m seeking balance.


Touching With Teaching

February 17, 2010

Tuesday February 16th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I don’t know why I enjoy teaching so much, but I totally do. I hated school. I remember counting down the hours of almost every day, and the days of almost every year, hoping it would all be over. It wasn’t the learning I couldn’t stand, it was what and how I learned.

I wanted to dive in to what I wanted to know, and most of that wasn’t what was on their agenda. Algebra and geometry couldn’t have been any more painful, and biology had only one redeeming quality in that there happened to be all the best looking girls in that class.

Creative things are what I enjoyed, and there weren’t nearly enough of those to begin to satisfy my needs. I remember in seventh grade we had a science project assignment where we had several weeks to complete a presentation on a topic. For whatever reason I picked the human heart, and I really got into it. I wanted to make mine the best presentation ever.

The actual topic didn’t make any difference at all. I wanted to focus on the show part of it. I remember making up all kinds of colorful drawings to show and my uncle suggested I make an audio presentation complete with background music and call it ‘A Tour Of Your Heart’. That was all I needed to hear, and I was totally in. On presentation day, I let it rip.

I’m not sure if it was so much that the other kids enjoyed it, but I remember applause as I finished. It was completely different from what everyone else did, and it entertained the class. I didn’t have to say one word, I just stood there pointing to the graphs and pictures I had arranged, and my voiceover with music behind it sounded great, at least in memory.

Maybe if I heard it now, I’d be embarrassed by how excruciating it was, but at the time I blew everyone away with it. The teacher gave me an ‘A+++’ and I don’t think I ever got a grade like that for anything else I ever did. Isn’t that what they give butter? I don’t know.

The point is, I really loved doing those kinds of things, but put me in front of an algebra book and I was through. I didn’t care then and I don’t now. I’m sure somebody has a need for it, if only algebra teachers to torture future generations. As for me, I’m done with it.

What made me think of all this was that I received several emails today thanking me for the comedy classes and graduation show last night at Zanies. They were a fantastic group and I really enjoyed them because they got what I was telling them. Seeing the light go on in a student’s head is very satisfying and I really enjoy seeing them go up and get laughs.

I guess it’s a lot like a sports coach. I know everyone in my classes doesn’t have to like me personally, and I don’t really care if they do. I want them to LEARN something, and if they do that, the personal part will follow. Seeing the students’ growth is very satisfying.

The mentoring part is satisfying too. I know how much I revere the memories of all my comedy mentors from C. Cardell Willis to Gary Kern to Jimmy Miller, and hopefully I’ll be able to occupy that special place those guys have in my heart in a whole lot of others.

A Night With Friends

February 17, 2010

Monday February 15th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Tonight, for only the second time in recorded history, Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago billed their show as ‘Friends Of Dobie Maxwell’. Basically, I held down the fort because the booker Bert Haas wanted to have a Monday off. I don’t have a problem with that and I totally understand, but a lot of wannabes read a lot more into it. They think I have power.

Most Monday nights are showcase nights and I host those whenever I’m available. I’ve kind of inherited the job over the last couple of years, only because nobody else wanted it. I looked at it as Monday money is never a bad thing, plus I was already coming to Zanies to teach my classes. Why not stay an extra two hours and earn food money for the week?

The majority of those who come through the Monday showcases are decent people. It’s great experience to do a six minute audition set anywhere, and this is a good opportunity for many of these kids, even though probably half or more aren’t ready to be booked yet.

A common mistake most newbies make is getting a few halfway decent minutes they’ve done ten times or less, and then taking that to every comedy club within 1100 miles of the place they’re from, and they shoot themselves in the foot by doing that. They’re not ready.

Plus, in a situation like Zanies, it hurts them even more. Bert Haas has been booking the club for over twenty years, and he’s seen everyone from Jay Leno to Jerry Seinfeld to just about every other top flight comedian from the 20th Century to now. How’s a little Johnny Fuzznuts, 22 year old rookie greenhorn from Green Bay, going to impress a Bert Haas?

They’re not. But they all think they’re going to be ‘the one’ that makes Bert take notice and immediately insert them as a headliner for big money, bumping everyone else in their path out of the way and making them the hot new thing in comedy. I think they think that. I see some of these kids strut around the back of the club, then go up and eat it big time.

It’s happened time and time again, even when Bert tries to lay it out for each of them in a pre-show meeting he has before each Monday showcase. He looks at me from his perch in the back of the room when another young punk goes down in flames, and rolls his eyes at me as I smile. We’re the two old farts trying to be patient as we watch rookie mistakes.

Since I’ve been associated as the regular host of the showcase shows, many think that I must have an inner track to Bert’s ear. I don’t. He books who he books. All I’m in charge of his hosting the shows. Period. Still, I get all kinds of emails and calls asking me to help someone get past Bert’s rules and squeeze them in. It’s to the point of being maddening.

Now, since the show is billed ‘Friends of Dobie Maxwell’, a few people think I’ll be in charge now and have some booking clout. WRONG. I’m just filling in so Bert can have a night off to spend with his family. I’m not booking Zanies, and I don’t have any authority. Hopefully that will slow the requests down, but I doubt it. I’ll deal with it later. Tonight’s show was really strong, and I’m sure I’ll most likely be asked to do one again. And I will.

Romance And Radio

February 15, 2010

Sunday February 14th, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Valentine’s Day can be the source of a lot of angst. Everyone wants to have that perfect mix of sex and romance with that ultimate partner, which probably doesn’t exist on Earth for anyone. Men want sex, women want romance and Hallmark wants us all to buy cards.

I read somewhere that there are a significant number of those who send themselves mail and/or flowers on significant holidays, especially Valentine’s Day. At first it shocked me, but then I remembered how the Valentine’s Day greeting card system worked in school.

I wonder if they still do that? We used to decorate our little bags and hang them up on a wall in our classroom, and the kids would drop little Valentine’s cards in the bag. My first crush in about third grade was a little blondie named Holly Lueck. I don’t know why I can still remember her name, but I do. It’s like Charlie Brown and that little red haired girl.

My heart ached for Holly, but I never really got to know her at all. I remember she made me stutter and stammer to be around her, and I never felt like that around anyone before. I remember picking out a special Valentine for her and decorating it with my own personal cartoons, as I fancied myself an ‘artiste’ back then. I put the card in her bag and waited.

I waited some more. And some more after that. Every day I’d come to school and scour  my bag, hoping I’d gotten one back from Holly, or even one that MIGHT have been from her. We had them sealed and were not allowed to open them until Valentine’s Day, when the entire class would do it together. No other Valentine meant anything except Holly’s.

Finally, Valentine’s Day came and the teacher let us take our bags off the wall and open our cards. Some kids got more than others, but a couple got shut out completely. That’s a hard pill to have to swallow at age 8 or 9, and I can remember feeling bad for those kids.

I didn’t get the goose egg, but I also didn’t get one from Holly for whatever reason. The smack to the self esteem resonates to this day as I looked over to where she was sitting at her desk and saw her opening her pile of Valentines and stuffing candy into her pie hole.

I wanted to go over there and throw my arms up in the air and say “Forget anything?” If I had to live life over again, I probably would, just to see the look on her face. It’s a funny concept now, but it sure wasn’t then. That pain of being rejected stung down to the soul.

Whatever happened to Holly Lueck is anyone’s guess. Maybe she’s an obese cow with twelve illegitimate kids and no teeth, or maybe she turned out to be a sweetheart after all. I doubt if she’d remember me, and at this point I don’t remember anything about her but that she had blonde hair. Maybe that’s why I’ve had my life long affinity for brunettes.

Anyway, I made a special point today to send Valentines or at least text messages to all the single women I could think of, no matter who they were. Just the thought of receiving something from someone and how nice that can feel made me want to spread some cheer.

As for me, I was in a fantastic mood all day. Three hot shows at Zanies yesterday was as satisfying as it gets, and my comedy itch was scratched thoroughly. Nothing lifts my spirit higher than having good solid comedy shows, and that would include a card from Holly.

Today it was radio. All day. All night too. Jerry Agar was in Haiti this week through his church and didn’t get back until Friday night. We weren’t sure if or when Jerry’s Kidders would be on this week, but it ended up being today from 3pm to 3:50. We met up at 2:00 to go over our stories and prepare as we usually do, and I could feel we were all clicking.

We took that energy right into the studio and kept it going when the little red light came on. It’s always fun when we’re in that groove, and even when the show wandered, we still were able to get some laughs out of it. That’s what makes the concept so much fun. We’re up on the high wire without a net, and everyone knows it. It’s high risk, but high reward.

Not all the jokes hit, but WE were on target as a team. Ken Sevara, Tim Slagle and I are  completely different in almost every way, and it took us a while to gel on the air. Ken is a voice and character guy and Tim is very up on current events and issues. My style doesn’t include any of that, so I’m coming from yet another angle. I’m just a disruptive smart ass.

The thing that makes it so much fun is that we all enjoy hanging out together off the air as well as on. It’s like a tree house or a weekly poker game we get to carry on in front of microphones on one of the biggest radio stations in America. I think our sincerity shows. Every joke isn’t always stellar and nobody claims that, but as a team we can get on a roll.

We had that today, and the time went by faster than it usually does. It felt like about ten minutes, when actually it was almost an hour. Then we went out for pizza afterwards and continued the laughs there. We had a new producer this week named Margaret and she’d never worked with us before so we asked if she wanted to join us and she did. It was fun.

I needed to wrap it up a little early as I had to be in Kenosha, WI to do The Mothership Connection from 8 to 11pm on WLIP. Today was double duty, but I didn’t mind. It’s fun to be on the radio, and when The Mothership Connection clicks, that’s a total blast also.

Again, we all like each other as people first, radio partners second. We hang out off the air when we can, and everyone contributes to the show. There may be a group of chumps that can’t stand me, but they can kiss my pale fuzzy arse. My friends and I get along well.

Having one group like this would be great, but I’ve got two. And I’m part of two others with both The D-List on ESPN Radio 540 in Milwaukee and with Stone and Double T on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL. I don’t do those shows every week, and I don’t run them either, but when I’m on it’s the same feeling. They’re great people and we all click on air.

I didn’t make a nickel today, but I sure had a good time hanging out on the air with a lot of people I like and respect. I hope it leads to something in the future as far as money and contacts go, but for today there was nothing I could think of I’d rather do. That’s success!

Three Times A Night

February 14, 2010

Saturday February 13th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Zanies in Chicago is one of the few comedy clubs left that do three shows on a Saturday night. I’ve talked before of how difficult that is, and it is. But I love it. It can be a grueling experience, especially as the headliner. Forty-five minutes of solid standup comedy is one of the most difficult tasks I can think of to do ONCE, much less three times in one night.

When I started, three shows on a Saturday was pretty standard. A few clubs tried it on a Friday too, and if I remember correctly even Zanies did for a while. That’s a lot of shows, but back then comedy was red hot and they could pack them in like sardines so why not?

I’ve read stories where vaudeville performers would have to do six shows a day. I don’t know if that was every day or just Saturday, but that’s still a lot of work for one day. They had a lot shorter time to do, but they still had to stay around the theatre and be ready to go on when it was their turn. Those people really worked hard. It wasn’t a glorious existence.

I’ve always been of the mentality that if I’m going to work, I want to WORK. I’d prefer that all clubs did three shows on a Saturday, and if we could fill it, let’s do Friday as well. There was a club called The Funny Firm in Chicago during the boom years and they ran a brutal schedule every week. They had two shows on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Friday and Saturday had three, and I think they also ran one on Tuesday. Monday was a new talent showcase night so I won’t count that, but all together that’s still 13 shows for a week which is unheard of today. Most people now are happy to get 13 shows in a month.

I was ready for my marathon tonight, and that’s exactly what it is. I’m very physical and jump around a lot on stage, and after forty-five minutes I’m usually soaking with sweat to show for all my effort. The lights can be very hot, but my bouncing around like a jumping bean also adds to it. I definitely work when I’m on stage and when I’m done I’m spent.

Another thing I have to be careful of is how I move my material around. It’s not hard to confuse the shows and not be sure what material I did for what audience. I happen to have a ton of material, and sometimes I’ll bring out an old bit or switch order on the fly and for three show nights that can really put me in the trick bag if I’m not paying close attention.

Tonight was a dream night for many reasons. First, all three shows were totally sold out to the last seat. It was Valentine’s Day weekend and even if it wasn’t me that drew I don’t mind at all. People were in seats, and they paid top dollar to be there. I gave them a show. It’s funny how it works, but the more people pay, the more they pay attention to the show.

The openers were great guys and easy to work with too. Pat McGann is a fresh face that has a really bright future. He’s smart and funny and knows how to network. He’s doing a lot of things right, and he did a fine job as host. Fritz was the feature and he has a style on stage that’s very laid back and low key. It’s a perfect fit for me because then I go up there and blow the dust out of the speakers. Everything fell together and it was a fantastic night.

Proper Perspective

February 13, 2010

Friday February 12th, 2010 – Elkhorn, WI/Milwaukee, WI

What a busy day, but it was all in proper perspective. Jim McHugh called me early with news that George Clinton was appearing on WGN’s morning TV news. That was kind of a surprise, as I didn’t think it would be a match. Still, I will always be a fan of George, so I tuned in to see it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen George appear on a morning show before.

He’s been in the news lately for several reasons, none of them pleasant. His mother died a few months ago, and apparently he didn’t have enough money to pay for a funeral. That was a shocker when I first heard it, but it really isn’t. Show business can be brutal with all the lopsided deals people sign, hoping to get ahead. George deserves better. He‘s an icon.

Then, his oldest son passed away just recently. Apparently, he was found at home a few days after he died, and that has to be devastating to a parent. On top of that, a member of one of George’s girl groups ‘Parlet’ named Mallia Franklin passed away from a stroke.

All this has happened in the very recent past, but when George came on TV he was in a very upbeat mood and played along with the interviewer, who brought a box of props and wigs and tried to match George’s hairstyle. I can’t say I’d be as patient as George was, but he played along and made the bit work. I thought he was great and was glad he got a plug.

George and the band played at The Cubby Bear in Chicago tonight and I’d love to have been there. I’ve seen him there several times before, and he didn’t disappoint. Rarely does he, and it‘s hard to believe he‘s still out doing smaller clubs at age 68. Granted, a lot of it is because he has to earn a living, but he sure isn’t taking the easy way. He really earns it.

A casual fan watching that TV show this morning would have NO idea about all the sad events that have happened to him recently. He came out and entertained. Period. That’s a consummate pro, and I respect him even more after seeing it. I don’t know if I could hide it as well as he does. My problems seemed pretty tiny in perspective so I shut my mouth.

After seeing George I had to attend traffic court in Elkhorn, WI. The sheriff issued me a citation after my accident in December and I needed to fight it for many reasons. It would have taken four points from my driver’s license and the fine was $213. That’s too much.

I don’t know why I got a fine at all, other than they milk the hell out of everybody when they get the chance to raise revenue. They cited me with ‘too fast for conditions’, but how did they know how fast I was going? It was icy, and I had slowed WAY down. Nobody in the courtroom was at the scene except me. How could anyone prove I was going too fast?

There was a sheriff hearing people’s stories and offering deals before a trial. I told him what happened, and apparently a few other people in that accident had already been there. He knew of it, and said I wasn’t the only car in the pileup to get a ticket. Still, I think it’s a total scam and I tried to tell him that politely. He wasn’t a bad guy, and I tried to reason with him like an adult. I thought, and still do, that I shouldn’t have gotten any ticket at all.

Obviously, that wasn’t his idea of a ‘deal’, so he ended up knocking the points violation off and making it a non moving violation. He lowered the fine from $213 to $170 and I’ll have thirty days to pay it. I could see it was probably all I was going to get, so I said yes.

I suppose I could have made a scene and asked for a jury trial or called a lawyer, but the cost or aggravation of all that just isn’t worth it to me. I know the court knows that too, so they get people to pay their fine and make it go away. They had an opportunity to make a quick $170 and they took it. Too fast for conditions, my ass. They just want their money.

Again, I tried to look at it with perspective. I could have easily died in that crash, and if not I could have easily had some horrible injuries. If staying alive and being able to see or walk or anything else most people take for granted (including me) cost $170, it would be a fantastic bargain. I’m sure people in wheelchairs would gladly pay $170 to get out of it.

I wasn’t bitter as I walked to my car with no limp. I’ll pay my fine in thirty days and just move on. It could have been a LOT worse, and bitching about a fine won’t change my life for the better. I felt good about myself for thinking like this. In the past I haven’t done it.

After court I drove to Milwaukee to meet up with Ron Lee to scout out potential places to perform the one man show. Ron has been doing some leg work and we’ve been staying in contact about a lot of the things necessary to bring this project together. There are a lot of things to put in place before an actual show, but we knew it. This is all from scratch.

We looked at a few spaces, and it was a very productive process. We talked to people in charge and asked about availabilities and all kinds of stuff I really haven’t done too much in all my past experience. Most shows I’ve done are preset and all I have to do is show up and go up. This is completely different, but it’s already been a great learning experience.

We’re going to pull this off. I feel it. It’s a quality product and I’m doing things exactly how I’m supposed to be doing them. I’m not disrespecting anyone going in, and I will not look to do it in the future either. I want this to come together through hard work, planning with a dash of showmanship thrown in. No, more than a dash. I’ll need a ladle full of that.

Our last stop was at the Milwaukee Visitors Bureau. I plan on registering with them like I did with the Lake County Convention And Visitors Bureau in Illinois, but they’ll have a challenge to outwork a consummate pro like Jayne Nordstrom and all the competent staff.

This was a pretty busy work day, but I had a show at Zanies in Vernon Hills, IL tonight. There was only one because they brought in some soap opera star who drew tons of horny women who all thought he was going to sleep with them. It was funny to see them run out of the showroom hoping to bed their TV stud master, but see me waiting around instead.

I got some animated dramatic looks of severe disappointment, but I’ve gotten that quite a few times in life so I just laughed and blew kisses to all the ladies. The Zanies staff was laughing, as they saw the position I was in. It could have been worse. It’s all perspective.

Rockford Rolling

February 13, 2010

Thursday February 10th, 2010 – Rockford, IL

I might not be getting paid a dime to be on the radio these days, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Exactly the opposite. The reason I keep showing up is because it IS fun, and that should count for something. When radio is being done correctly, there’s an electric energy that bounces off the walls of the studio. It’s different than standup, but it’s still addictive.

Today I was back on with my friends ‘Stone and Double T’ in Rockford, IL on WXRX, ‘The X’ – 104.9. I love being on with those guys, as they both understand how good radio works. They let it grow organically, and there’s never any pressure. I go in there and they let me riff, trusting that I’ll have something either funny or interesting to say. I love that.

Those guys have always treated me with respect, and I totally appreciate it. Double T’s name is Terry, and he emailed and asked if I wanted to come in and hang out on the air. I hadn’t been in for a while and it’s always flattering to be asked back. Both those guys are secure in themselves enough to let their guests have the spotlight, and that makes it easy.

The funny part is, their station is the Bob and Tom station in Rockford. Jim Stone has a relationship with most of the Bob and Tom staff, and he said he’s tried to bring my name up a few times to see why they’re so angry at me, and has been rewarded with dirty looks.

It really is almost laughable at this point. Whatever I did is apparently still an issue and I guess I’m still banned from their show. Forever. I wish I knew exactly what it is I did to make them that pissed off, so I know what to avoid. I said I was sorry then, and I meant it. I’m sorry now too, but I guess that’s not good enough. I’m on their list and I can’t get off.

If Stone and Double T were in Bob and Tom’s position, I’d be a big star in 200 markets across the country, and a millionaire. Instead, I get to go on in Rockford, any time I want. Still, I’m flattered. I’ll show up when they ask. They’re both great guys, and sincere too.

I really do feel bad about the Bob and Tom thing, but what else can I do about it? I said I was sorry, and they rejected it. That’s life. It’s like Jackie Mason’s banishment from The Ed Sullivan Show or any number of other showbiz grudges. This is how it can play out.

I will do what I can with what I have, wherever I am. Today it was Rockford, and it was totally worth the trip. I practiced promoting Uranus Factory Outlet and the guys loved the concept. They played around with it, and I got a chance to practice in a safe environment.

Jim McHugh rode out there with me, and he’s been especially helpful recently. He said he’s going to jump in my face and make me focus on this project, and he totally has. It’s a godsend, as I’m always all over the place. He’s helping me stay focused and I need that.

It’s always easier to help others. It’s helping one’s self that seems to be the hardest. Jim has been a real friend by doing this, and I absolutely see improvement by him doing it. I’ll  pay him back by doing all I can to help him too. That’s what friends do. Today was good.

Radio Karma Lives!

February 11, 2010

Wednesday February 10th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

I’ve been involved in standup comedy, professional wrestling and radio in my lifetime, and by far it’s radio that has had the biggest number of snakes. For some reason, there are backstabbing maggots in that business who are always looking to get by at the expense of others and they don‘t care who gets burned. I’ve seen it in comedy too, but not like radio.

Life is difficult enough without having a certain few malicious bung holes adding to the degree of difficulty, but there always seem to be a few who succeed. They always seem to show up at a low point in time, and instead of trying to bring healing they bring napalm.

One name that comes immediately to mind is Eric ‘Mancow’ Muller. He’s a loudmouth on the air, but never really said anything. When Howard Stern made being a ‘shock jock’ fashionable, Mancow copied him and didn’t do a very good job, but there were slots that needed filling because radio is a business of copying success and redoing it elsewhere.

Mancow made a lot of money for many years, even though everyone I knew who was in the business couldn’t stand him on air or off. He was brash and rude and treated people as if he was better than them, and just became a total pain in the ass to deal with. But, he had those almighty ratings, and that meant he was able to keep up the illusion for a long time.

When I worked at The Loop in Chicago, the station was sold to the same company that Mancow was working for, Emmis Communications. We were forced to go to a ‘Welcome to Emmis’ party and it was a horrific experience. We all felt like step children and it what made it worse was it was on their turf. We were in their building and it was humiliating.

The new GM introduced Mancow who pompously got up and said a few words and we felt even worse when he came up to us afterward and allowed us to kiss his ring. Nobody likes to be talked down to, and that’s exactly what he did. We knew our days were few.

A few weeks later when those fine folks at Emmis blew us out the door the week before Christmas, Mancow went on the air and apparently started bashing us mercilessly with no real reason for it. We were already gone, and the threat to his little babblefest was over.

I never listened to it because I never found his verbal diarrhea worth wasting my ears on, but I heard it from a lot of people so I don’t doubt it happened. I know my partners Spike and Max didn’t appreciate it very much and there really was no reason for it except spite.

I remember mentioning it to our then ‘boss’ at Emmis, who only served as that to blow us out the door, and he just laughed and said “Hey, that’s ‘Cow.” I wanted to jump over his desk and strangle him, but I needed the severance pay. He was fooled by the illusion.

Spike and Max and I got boned, and it changed all of our lives for the worse. We’re still recovering from it several years later, but we’re all still in there slugging and living life as best we can. We all resented how Mancow’s antics went unpunished, but we moved on.

Then, conservative talk radio became the hot thing and Mancow once again lacking any vision of his own decided to copy that trend and try to ride Rush Limbaugh’s coat tails so he stumbled in that direction. He’d blown his morning show with Emmis and was trying a new direction. As fate would have it, he ended up replacing Jerry Agar’s shift on WLS.

We’d all heard some rumors about how he got that shift, but nobody would confirm any of them. What was confirmed was that Jerry was out of the dream job he’d spent years of his life working to get. He had ratings and seemed to be on his way, but he too ended up a victim of the Mancow’s mean spirit. Mancow bashed him on the air too, and it got ugly.

Jerry said he called him and they talked about it, but then Mancow denied that and said all kinds of things that apparently weren’t true. I have no reason to doubt Jerry’s word, as we’ve known each other over twenty years. The whole thing stinks, and it’s a very similar stench to the one that happened years ago at the Loop. And again, none of it was needed.

I’ve talked about my competitors in radio on the air quite a bit. It’s a strategy. It’s like a professional wrestler trying to drum up business for an upcoming match. I’ve blurted out all kinds of things over the years, but it was part of the game. I had no malice toward any of the people personally, it was an act. And, in the end, I lost. They had jobs, I got fired.

This is not the same thing. I’m not the only one who has a Mancow story and neither is Jerry. Time after time he would get a little too personal, and it was ALWAYS when there was no chance of retaliation. Jerry and I were already fired. There’s no reason to do that.

I guess I blame the stations to some extent, but as a human being there’s no reason to be that damn mean spirited, especially to those who can’t fight back. Jerry got screwed over big time, and he still hasn’t recovered from it. He’s piecing each month together and has a family and a mortgage, just like my partners Spike and Max did at the Loop. Life is hard.

All that being said, I heard the news today that Mancow was fired after his shift at WLS and I can’t say it made me sad, even a little. I know I shouldn’t rejoice in the downfall of others, but he’s a guy that’s had it coming for a long time, not only in my opinion but SO many others in radio who have had to endure his cocky prattle for so long. Karma lives!

I don’t wish the guy bad, but I absolutely DO wish him to have to feel what it’s like to have to struggle to pay the mortgage every month and have the experience the stress of a wife and kids breathing down his neck wondering when and where that next gig will be.

Mancow is a mean spirited bully, just as my father was. At one time, my old man was a  big mean evil ogre that everyone was afraid of. Then, he died a shriveled up pathetic loser and there weren’t enough people who cared to have a funeral. He’s gone and isn’t missed.

I doubt if very many people are taking Mancow out for dinner tonight to lament his fate, and as for me I wouldn’t piss on his teeth if his mouth was on fire. I have enough faults of my own to work on and I’m not claiming perfection, but this news was LONG overdue.

A Snow Plowed Crowd

February 11, 2010

Tuesday February 9th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Just about the time I think I have this whole standup comedy thing figured out, I have a night like tonight and it blows me all the way back to the starting line again and I wonder why I ever started performing in the first place. When it‘s good, it’s great. Not tonight.

I was scheduled to work the downtown Chicago location for Zanies this week but I have been moved do to other bookings. Zanies had a chance to book someone they wanted and instead of blowing me out like happened with my show last Saturday in Fond du Lac, WI, they moved me out to Vernon Hills on Thursday and Friday. That’s closer for me anyway.

The downtown location is the only one that does a Tuesday show, so I still needed to do it as part of my week. No problem, I enjoy working. I didn’t enjoy driving through a nasty snow storm to get there, but that’s part of the deal. Nobody at the club expected any kind of a crowd because of the weather, but we were all proven wrong. People kept coming in.

By the time the show started, we were all feeling pretty good. The wait staff had people to sell drinks to, and the comedians had an audience. Win/win. The only thing wrong with that is the majority of them only wanted the drinking part. The show was an afterthought.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to deal with such an ugly babbling mob of boozed up, rude, chatty bubbleheads  like these people, and I had all I could handle to not just put the microphone down and walk out the door and get in my car and drive home. If I wasn’t at a Zanies, I would have seriously considered doing it. These people didn’t want a show.

They wanted to BE the show. There was a group of about a dozen or so flamingly white suburban types who obviously had had too much to drink. They found a need to comment on EVERY SINGLE LINE I did, and after the first six minutes I have to admit it got old.

They had started when the other acts were on stage, but the booze really kicked in when I got up there, and I had to fight with them the whole time. I’m WAY past that, but not in their minds apparently. The more I tried to ignore them, the more they tried to participate.

The rest of the crowd wasn’t that great either, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get any kind of a roll going so I did the best I could, and got off stage exactly five minutes after the manager Martin gave me my five minute light. I’d had enough of these monkeys.

As I cleaned the snow off my car afterward, I saw two of the front row boozers having a cigarette in front of the club. They didn’t know it was me right next to them and one said to the other “What an ass that last guy was. He acted like he didn’t even want us to help.”

I wanted to take my snow brush and jam it where there’s normally not that much natural snowfall, but I bit my lip and got in the car and drove away. He wasn’t worth it, and I had my fill of idiots for one night. Still, after all these years of stage time, a night like this will sneak up and rattle the cage of even the most savvy veteran. I guess this keeps us humble.

Snow Business

February 9, 2010

Monday February 8th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

There’s supposed to be a foot of snow coming in the next day or two and everyone is in the pre snow panic mode. The grocery stores are getting cleaned out of everything and it’s like the world is ending. Usually, the ones hyped the most are the biggest disappointment, and I’m hoping this one is too. Still, everyone seems to be preparing for the apocalypse.

I just want to prepare for my future and not live hand to mouth. I’m making progress on all my projects, and even though it’s not anything spectacular, it is progress and it’s a very satisfying feeling to see things move in the right direction, even if the movement is slow.

My piles around the house are shrinking and that’s been WAY overdue. I’m making the time to sift through paperwork and books and mail and tax receipts and all the things I’ve been letting get out of hand. Nobody else knows or cares how clutter can slow everything else down, but I do and I’m taking care of it. It’s going to make the rest of my life better.

I knocked down the email pile today and I got my voice mail box down from almost full to almost empty. That was a big deal also, and at least I’m connecting and reconnecting to people I need and want to who can help move what I’m doing forward. It all takes time.

I made some progress with Uranus Factory Outlet today too. My trademark lawyer sent me a form to reapply for my trademark since I haven’t been using it to sell anything. It’s a dead expense right now, but I hope to change that very soon. I am now back in the mix to have Uranus Factory Outlet trademarked when I start the website officially on March 13th.

I also ordered a batch of t-shirts from a store in Antioch I keep seeing as I drive past it on Highway 83. It’s a custom printed shirt and hat shop and I decided to stop and see if it could be somewhere I can get products. The guy running it was very nice, and I ended up ordering a batch of two dozen of my ‘T E I A M’ shirts. Those sold pretty well in the past.

For those that don’t get it, ‘T E I A M’ is a play on the no ‘I’ in team saying most of us heard at some point in our lives. It’s not necessarily a Uranus product, but I think I’ll have a good shot to sell them, and it lets me test this guy’s ability to get shirts finished quickly.

A huge part of the business will be product procurement and I need to have more than a single source for any one item I want to sell. Backing myself up is key, and this guy could be either my number one go to shirt maker, or he could be my plan ‘Z’ last resort source.

The biggest part of the mail order business is testing, testing, testing. That’s a common theme from a lot of people who’ve written about the subject, and I guess I have to follow those instructions. I may think I know better, but I don’t. Nobody does. It’s all a big test.

I’m putting in my time on the hamster wheel and knocking out a few things I’ve needed to do for a long time. It doesn’t shake the world, but it gives encouragement to mine that I have some hope to live my dreams after all. It can snow all it wants now, I’m ready for it.