Archive for April, 2010

Dealing With Rejection

April 30, 2010

Thursday April 29th, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Lake Villa, IL

Never a dull moment. I’m still a little funky, but feeling a lot better. I’d scheduled lunch  with my old producer from The Loop Rick Kaempfer today, and didn’t want to cancel. He is one of the few people busier than I am, and we hadn’t seen each other in way too long.

Rick is also my partner in writing the movie script for the infamous bank robbery story, and that needs to get sold. Rick has been writing other books with and without partners so he’s always got things going. He’s gotten a few books published, and is one of the hardest working people I know. I have nothing but respect for him, and he’s been a great partner.

We’ve been at a standstill for quite a while now, and the timing just seems to be right in both our minds to bring this project to the forefront yet again. We’ve got a partly finished product, but we’ve put in several rewrites and it’s come a long way from where we began.

Rick has some other projects bubbling and will be meeting with some L.A. power types in the next little while to pitch those things, and eventually this project will come up. We have a written agreement drawn up and signed by a lawyer, so I’m not worried about Rick screwing me over. He can’t, and I can’t do it to him either. We were smart with this one.

We both agree that we want to get a financial payoff for this project. It’s been a hideous memory and source of pain for me in many ways, but it is a hell of a story even I couldn’t have made up. It’s already a part of my life, so why not make the most of it and have it do some good and open some doors? It’s not like I want to star in the movie, I want payment.

Sylvester Stallone was a young actor and Rocky put him over the top. It was his vehicle. I’ve never been an actor and really don’t want to be more than I have to. I love being what I am, and that’s a live performer on a comedy stage. Movies really don’t interest me at all. Would I do one if someone asked? Sure, I just did two in the last year, but they were free.

I just did those for the experience, and both of them were a lot of fun, but no way could it come close to the excitement of being on stage during a live performance. That’s all my soul craves is to be in front of an audience entertaining them and having them totally love it. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt, and I want to keep feeling it as many times as I can.

Rick and I spoke about what our inside tracks were on getting someone with power that could possibly get the film made to look at it were, and we each have a few. My main one has always been Jeff Foxworthy’s management company. Jeff and I spoke about it when I worked with him last, and he said the thing they probably do best is get movies MADE.

He proceeded to rattle off a number of films his people were responsible for in various ways, and it was quite impressive. Jeff has no reason to lie to me and I’m sure he wasn’t. He’s always been great and he said he’d ‘put in a word’ with his management company to help me get a foot in the door. That’s exactly what he did and I’m very grateful, but it just wasn‘t enough to seal any deal. I’ve not been able to dazzle anybody with my sales pitch.

In fact, it was just the opposite. I contacted the person Jeff told me to, and it just wasn’t a match. I got off on the wrong foot with the lady and felt horrible about it. Then, I didn’t contact her for over a year hoping it would blow over and she’d forget. She didn’t. I tried contacting her again last week hoping to start all over again. This time went much better.

I’d had someone who knows her speak out on my behalf, and her tone was much easier this time. I apologized again and meant it, but she said we were cool. I told her what was new with me, after doing the Craig Ferguson appearance and releasing a new CD, and she was very complimentary. It felt like things were going well, so I asked if I could submit a package for her to look at, and how she wanted me to do it. I never want to pester anyone.

I was very encouraged to hear from her and especially since she was in a better mood all this time later. I do have a tendency to get off on the wrong foot with some people, and in my life I’ve had more than one person tell me that. “I hated you when I first met you, but I now consider you one of my favorite people.” Whatever. I grow on people like a fungus.

I hadn’t had the chance to lay my magic fungus formula on this lady yet, and I’ll admit I panicked. I didn’t want to make Jeff look bad, and I sure didn’t want to bother anybody in Hollywood who didn’t want to talk to me. I’m not at all comfortable in these situations.

I told Rick I was going to work on the connection and hopefully get someone on staff to at least look at our treatment. I received an email this afternoon telling me she’s not going to look at it, and doesn’t have time for new clients. She wasn’t mean or angry or anything other than informative, but I must say it threw me for a loop. I got flat out rejected. Ouch.

I’m not the first person to get rejected in show business and actually I’m not upset about it at all. I thought it was handled very professionally, and I have no complaints. She has a job to do with her clients, and I respect that. Nobody likes to get rejected, but it happens.

There are all kinds of stories about the Beatles getting turned down by lots of people for many years and finally when they did sign, it was for a rinky dink novelty label. Elvis was rejected by the Grand Old Opry, but he didn‘t let that kill him. This won’t kill me either.

It doesn’t mean the script won’t get sold, and it also doesn’t mean I won’t get signed by this agency in the future. It just means at this time, this particular person doesn’t have any time to look at what I have to offer. How I handle this is going to determine how this will eventually end up, and once again to my surprise I’m in a very good mindset about it all.

I’m not angry or upset. Really. I’m a little surprised, only because Jeff personally put a word in for me, but he can’t make them sign me. He did what he said, and I’m grateful. In no way am I blaming him, and I also wouldn’t think of trying to get him to intervene here.

I want to chronicle this story because it’s never easy to get flat out rejected. I want those who are following this to use it all as a how to for handling these situations with style and class. They happen. This will be a lesson for me too. I’m now learning about sales skills.

Chemical Warfare

April 30, 2010

Wednesday April 28th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Yeesh, this thing is deeper than I thought. I felt a lot worse than yesterday, so I ended up sleeping most of the day away yet again. I’ve found that’s the best way to let this pass so I don’t bring anyone else down. When it gets like this, I don’t want to be around anybody.

I doubt if anyone wants to be around me either. I was supposed to go over to hang out at Mark Gumbinger’s house with some people from the Dead Air movie cast and brainstorm about the next project Mark wants to direct.. I’m flattered he asked and I would have gone but this was just not the night for it. I told him I’d take a rain check but I wasn’t coming.

What I did instead was force myself out of the rack, peel off my sweats and hop into the shower to scrub away whatever needed to be scrubbed and go outside for a walk. My post office is almost exactly a mile away and there’s a Subway about a half a mile past that, so I wanted to go mail out some CD orders and then scarf down some vegetables and water.

That had to be the most difficult walk I’ve ever taken. It seemed like it would never end as I squinted to hide from the bright sunlight which normally delights me. Not today. I did all I could to keep walking, but I felt one big ache and all I wanted to do was beam myself home and right back to bed. I’ve never been hung over, but this is how I‘d picture it to be.

My head was throbbing, my legs hurt, and the last thing I wanted was sunlight and fresh air anywhere near me. I made it to the post office and finished my business, but making it to the Subway felt like I walked to Siberia. I ordered a sub packed full with vegetables but no chips or soda and sat and ate as my body ached from what wasn’t that big of a walk.

I realize this is a chemical thing, and it is what it is. I can eat better and exercise more in the future, but there’s a chemical tweak that happens at times, and this is one of them. I’m actually in a good space about it, and know it will pass as it always does. This is about the only time I can think of that I’ve ever been this lucid in the middle of one of these funks.

I’ve been really close to doing something stupid many times in the past, only because it always seems so final and permanent while it’s happening. This is the first time I can look to the future and know it will be over and when that happens, I’ll be in a creative groove.

It actually feels like my mental toughness is growing stronger, especially now when I’ve been known to just curl up in the past. I finished that damn walk, even though it was a big struggle, and all I wanted to do the whole time was turn around and go right back to bed.

In a goofy way, it feels like I’m going through this so I can offer a helping hand to other people at some point who’ll go through this too. I certainly have first hand experience for a lot of years, and most of it was just plain ugly. This one’s ugly too, but inside it doesn’t feel nearly as bad because my mindset while it’s happening is as clear as it ever has been. It actually feels like I’m learning from it, and that’s never a bad thing. Maybe it took all of this time to finally let it leak through my thick skull so I don’t have to go through it again.

I was in full sweat when I got home so I took another shower and kept plowing ahead in my work. I couldn’t sleep much more if I tried, so I cranked out a ton of emails that I’d let pile up once again. That’s always a never ending chore, but I managed to make very good progress tonight. I actually don’t mind being alone, and it felt good to shrink that big pile.

A lot of my recent emails have been very complimentary about my new CD ‘Hard Luck Jollies’. I received an email from George Clinton’s manager saying she’d like one to give to George, and that was a thrill. I’m sure he’ll see the artwork done by Pedro Bell who did so many Funkadelic covers over the years, and there’s a cartoon drawn on the back cover that has a caricature of George and myself that Pedro threw in as a bonus with our deal.

This latest recording project is going to open up a whole new set of doors for me, much as my last CD did. I got it out later than most comics, but I did it right. I recorded it down in Louisville which had a professional sound person and paid extra to have it packaged in a way that made it look like I had a recording contract with a real label. It was worth it all.

There are now a few thousand of those scattered all over North America, but those who have them didn’t get ripped off. I’ve seen a few for sale on Ebay, and it always makes me laugh to see that. It makes me feel like I’ve made it. Maybe I’ll find one at a thrift store.

Hey, so what? I’ve seen countless Bill Cosby and George Carlin and most other famous comedians products for sale in the fifty cent bin. All I care about is that they buy one new from somewhere. Who they sell or give it to afterward is not my concern. In fact, it would be a dream come true to buy one at a thrift store for a buck and then resell it for full price.

I’ve received lots of play on XM/Sirius satellite radio and constantly hear people tell me they heard one of my cuts being played. I ended up selling those rights to Laughing Hyena Records, which now sells them in truck stops. I still own the material, but they’re now the sole owner of that particular recording of it forever. A deal’s a deal, and I’m fine with it.

That was a very successful first recording attempt in my opinion, and I’m very satisfied with all that came out of it. I gave a ton of them away, but I did sell quite a few as well. It got my name out in a good way, and I still have people tell me they pop it in occasionally and have a laugh, or give it to someone else to listen to. That’s the way to make it pay off.

At most, there were probably 200 people who saw that show that was recorded. I’d have a hard time estimating how many people have actually heard that CD since 2003, but I’ve got to believe it’s more than 200. It’s more than 200,000. Besides the set I did on the Late Late Show on CBS, that was THE most heard comedy set I’ve ever done, warts and all.

I already know this new one is much better. I’m always improving as a performer, but it also flows better than the last one did. I did a lot of the same bits, but they’re sharper with more punch lines and I know I’ve grown since the last one was recorded. That’s what this is all about. I want to grow with every project I do, but not only is this one better, I’ve got at least one and maybe two whole new ones already in the can. This helps cheer me up.

Crap Circles

April 28, 2010

Tuesday April 27th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Hello darkness, my old friend. I’m back in the funk of depression but I’m not worried at all this time. I’ve been here plenty. None of this is new. I’m not overwhelmed or trying to locate a bridge to leap off of or anything dramatic. I know this will pass and I’m trying to let it do exactly that. It always does, and then there’s a period of high creativity after that.

What’s really been brutal in the past is that I’ve lost sight of this eventual passing. Even the worst hurricane or tornado eventually stops, but while it’s happening it’s very difficult to calmly imagine that when one’s house is getting ripped off of it’s foundation and flung out in space at 100 miles an hour. All bets are off when that happens, but this is not that.

This is just a minor relapse, mostly due to my own stupidity. Have I been exercising on a consistent basis like I know I should? Have I been drinking enough water or eating what I should be eating? Sadly, no. There’s no excuse for it either. Just because Taco Bell has a drive thru window late at night doesn’t mean I have to visit it regularly. This is my fault.

I’ve been getting a lot better at cutting out red meat and sodas, but there are all kinds of other naughty things to take their place. Bad things taste good, and they’re not expensive much of the time. What a dangerous combination that is. Who’s behind it, evil doctors?

It wouldn’t surprise me if heart surgeons all banded together and bought the joints that fill our arteries with the stuff they get paid big money to scrape out of us in due time. I’m a lot closer to 50 than 20 and I used to laugh about stuff like this. It’s not so funny now.

I totally believe the source of a lot of depression is diet and lack of exercise related. I’ve done some reading on it in my lucid moments, and I’m sure it’s true. Then, I stupidly fool myself into believing I can ‘treat myself once in a while’ to something bad for me. I guess I probably could if ‘once in a while’ wasn’t ‘once a meal, every day, seven days a week.’

It’s not quite that bad, but I know deep in my mayonnaise clogged heart that I can stand to do MUCH better with my diet and exercise habits. I’m not alone in this struggle by far, but it doesn’t make it any easier to pass up that slice of pizza that comes with eight more.

I think water is a big part of it too. Who the hell wants to drink eight to twelve glasses a day on purpose? I sure don’t. Urination holds no magic attraction for me, especially when I’m doing it every ten minutes. Still, our bodies are 70% water and we need to drink it on a regular basis to keep all the systems functioning. It’s part of life, but so few of us do it.

I’m one of the many, and now I wonder why my head is scrambled with depression. My blood is probably as thick as hot fudge, and I couldn’t run a full mile if all the women on Baywatch were at the end of it naked and begging me to have sex with them. I’d be dead.

I spent most of today in bed sleeping it off, the mental version of Otis Campbell. I’m no doctor, but I know what’s happening. This will pass when it passes, but for now it’s here.

Cheer The Deer

April 27, 2010

Monday April 26th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Usually I’m working at Zanies in Chicago on a Monday night, but not this one. I had the week off from teaching and hosting and the timing couldn’t have been any better. A night to myself without having to think was exactly what I needed. I unplugged my brain and it felt good not to have any deadline other than to meet my cousin Brett for a sushi dinner.

Brett doesn’t have that much time off with his job and neither do I, so a night of relaxed grubbing up and catching up is always a treat. He’s got his hassles with his boss and work situation and a lot of it is the same as mine – many people in charge don’t belong there for whatever reason but they’re there…and we have to deal with it. It can be very frustrating.

Brett is a lot like me in that he’s left handed and creative and likes to do things his way, especially when he has a vision of what he wants to do. He’s very laid back and a friendly person, but he gets the same way I do when idiots come in and ruin his plan. He’s exactly like me in that he doesn’t suffer them well, and it’s cost him. We have similar struggles.

Both of us have had to slug it out in life with zero help from our parents. His father and mine were brothers, and as different as we used to think they were, they’re turning out to be exactly the same. They haven’t spoken in years, but there’s really no reason now. He’s got cancer apparently, but the damage is done. Brett speaks openly about it just as I have.

Fortunately, there aren’t all that many people who can relate to something that ugly. We both can understand how there can be absolutely zero feelings when hearing of a parent’s death, and we’ve both done it. His mother died a few years ago and I remember the frosty tone in his voice when he called to tell me. It was ice cold, just as I was when he called to tell me my father was dead. There was no emotion whatsoever. It was like a recording.

This is all deep and harsh and hopefully most people can’t relate to it at all. I wish I was one of them and I know Brett agrees. He’s done extremely well for himself and continues to make an honest living as a tradesman and instructor, but there’s still that gaping hole in his life where a father’s love and influence are supposed to be. I have one of those myself.

Why is that father position so damn important? I don’t know, but it absolutely is. It’s not a matter of being perfect, it’s a matter of being THERE, both in body and spirit. Those are memories that last a lifetime, good and bad. It affects both boys and girls too. My grandpa used to say that on both sides of every stripper pole there’s a bad father job. He was right.

The funny thing is, both of his sons said that HE was a bad father. He was wonderful to me, but maybe he wised up in his third chance to raise a child. He struck out the first two according to the ones he raised. I sure am thrilled he got it together by the time I got here.

I’ve always been deathly afraid to have children because I never wanted to do what was done to Brett and myself by our fathers. Brett never had kids for the same reason. He took it even further by having a vasectomy to really make sure. We wanted to break the chain.

It was totally therapeutic to get all this out over dinner, but also very heavy on the soul. Neither of us have very many people we can talk to about deep stuff like this, so when we do get together it often comes up. Better to get it out verbally than perched in a tree with a rifle picking people off bus stops. Getting it out of our systems is cleansing for our souls.

Since I was in Milwaukee anyway, I decided I was in the mood for live sports. I haven’t treated myself to a game in ages and there were two to choose from. The Brewers were at home as were the Bucks. Since it was a playoff game, I chose the Bucks. I’m glad I did.

I haven’t been to a game in years, and it brought back memories of when I worked there as a ball boy in high school. Actually, the Bradley Center wasn’t even built yet. In my day they played at The Arena, also known as ‘MECCA’, that had the multi colored floor. That joint used to absolutely rock during playoff games, and I can still remember that energy.

It was the ultimate cool job for a high school kid to sit directly under the basket and not only see the games for free, but get paid $10 a game to be there. I bet the ball boys make a lot more now, but so what? We had fun, and that was as close to any kind of major league sports as this short white boy would ever get. Mopping up sweat was my sporting height.

One of my ball boy friends Wade Waugus still works there all these years later. He’s an outstanding person and a great friend, and I suppose I could have gotten a ticket from him but I wanted to buy one and support the cause. He’s taken care of me plenty in the past, as has John Steinmiller who we worked for and is still there. I didn’t mind paying my way.

The ticket was $29, but what a game it was. The seat wasn’t that bad at all, except for a group of obnoxious lard ass twenty-something white guys who didn’t seem to understand the concept of sitting DOWN to watch a game. They were loud and rude and one of them farted so heinously in the third quarter I almost threw up. I wished I had a taser with me.

Let the record be straight that there were three twenty something black guys sitting with me in my row that were extremely well behaved, polite and paid attention to the game the whole time, just as I tried to. We all watched the white guys embarrass my entire race and I leaned over and said “THIS is why I hate Caucasians.” They doubled over with laughter.

Eventually, I just got sick of those idiots and moved to another open seat a few rows up to watch the rest of the game. What a perfect one to pick. The Bucks looked sharp for the entire time, and I was happy for Wade and John Steinmiller and Scott Skiles too. I think he’s an excellent coach, and the team really turned around this year. It was fun to watch.

Whether they win the series or not doesn’t really matter. They have their center Andrew Bogut out for the year, and nobody expected them to get this far. It’s good for the city and good for the team, and I found myself really having a great time and forgetting everything that was supposed to be pissing me off or making me feel like the lowly piss ant schmuck I’ve started to feel like in the last day or so. There’s plenty of time to worry about that the rest of the week. For tonight, I went back to high school again and ‘cheered for the deer‘.

Mood Swinging

April 27, 2010

Sunday April 25th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

I’m in one of my infamous short tempered dissatisfied pissy moods again. I hope it isn’t a depression funk coming on. It’s been nice to not have to go through that for what’s been a very long time now, but the revolving apple usually has the wormy side out eventually.

For whatever reason, it seems like everything I’m doing or have ever done flat out sucks turkey giblets. Whether it’s true or not, it sure seems that way. I’m only able to look at my glass as not only being half empty, the glass itself has cracks and flaws in it. What a drag.

I look at my tiny little CD and tiny little radio show and I feel like a complete loser after a lifetime of chasing so many big things. I had such gigantic aspirations at the start of this journey, and I look at what I actually caught and it seems like it wasn’t worth the effort.

We had a very weak Mothership Connection radio show tonight, or at least I thought so. It started out fine, but then we had some guest miscommunication and one didn’t show up and the other came on by phone. We had to half ass it through, and I wasn’t thrilled at all.

Normally that wouldn’t bother me, but for some reason it really irritated me tonight. It’s not like we’re on a huge station and nobody really cares who are guests are or aren’t, but I just all of a sudden felt like a rinky dink amateur and was wasting my time playing radio.

There were a couple of sit in guests tonight as the on air crew keeps evolving. People do what they do, and I understand that. People have things come up and it’s my job to get the most I can out of whoever shows up on a particular week. Tonight it just didn’t work out.

My friend Shelley came out because she likes being on the air. She helps me a lot with a lot of things, mostly my website. Her and her husband Bob really did me a favor when my computer was infected with viruses, so I’m glad to have her sit in if she wants. She’s fine on the air, as are the others, but tonight she stuck me with a joke that really hit me wrong.

Normally, I’m the first one to make fun of myself and I can take a joke without thinking about it. Then there are times when I have a skin so thin I could read a newspaper through it. It’s not necessarily what is said, but how it comes out. When it comes out like that, I’m totally back in my childhood getting sliced up verbally by my father, the king of all cruel.

I don’t think Shelley meant anything by it, but it sure came out that way. It flipped a big switch in my head, and I was gone for the night. I wanted to just get up and go home right there, but I had three more hours to kill, with no scheduled guests to pass the time away.

Eventually one of the guests called in and we stumbled our way through the three hours but I could feel myself sliding away the whole time. I can’t remember something hitting a nerve that big in a long time, but it totally did. My can still has a dent in it, and it’s giving me fits right now. I know I’m a crazy bastard, and something like this shouldn’t put me in such a low mood, but I’m totally feeling down right now. I sure hope it’s not depression.

Quality People Matter

April 25, 2010

Friday April 23rd, 2010 – Oak Park, IL/Frankfort, IL

It’s never a wasted day when I get to spend time with people I like and respect. Today’s schedule was packed with them and I enjoyed every minute. First on the docket was lunch with Rick Gieser. He does publicity for Zanies and other places and he’s done all kinds of favors for me in the past. He’s helped me get on radio and TV shows in many other cities.

Rick is a hustler, but in a very good way. He’s a part time producer at WGN and used to be Bob and Tom’s producer in Indianapolis. He’s done a lot of solid favors for me and if I buy him a lunch once in a while it’s the very least I can do. He liked my new CD, and I’m sure if there’s any kind of publicity to be gotten from it, he’ll find it. Rick is good people.

I recommended him to Zanies when they were looking for a publicity person and I love the fact they hired him. It’s a win/win, and I got a chance to help him like he helped me. It should always work that way as far as I’m concerned, but this is the rare time when it did.

After that I went to see Cara Carriveau, another one of my favorite people. She’s been a huge supporter of my comedy since we worked together at The Loop. She did the mid day shift right after our morning show and we always got along extremely well. She was there for the show at Zanies which is my new CD and I wanted to give her a copy as my thanks.

She got fired at the Loop too for no real reason, but she’s now working at ‘The Mix’ for our old boss Greg Solk where she continues to sound fantastic on the air. Cara is the best, and I’m thrilled she’s back on the air. She should’ve never been fired in the first place but that‘s radio. We had a nice visit and I don’t get to see her because she lives so far away.

It worked out today, because I was booked at CD & Me in Frankfort, IL. That’s about as far south in the Chicago area as it gets, and I figured since I had to drive that far anyway it would be smart to pack in as many visits with people I hadn’t seen in a while as possible.

CD & Me is a room booked by Ken Sevara, and he’s been very generous in making me a frequent performer. That’s very nice of him to do that, and I’m very grateful even if it is a long drive. The people and the owners treat me very well and I’ll never turn that down.

One of my former students John O’Brien drove all the way down from Wilmette to see the show. He took my class many years ago and we’ve been in touch off and on but not in a while. Like Cara, John has been a constant supporter of mine and I appreciate it greatly.

John is a student of the game and loves comedy. He has a job and a family but still does perform when he can. He’s never going to be full time, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still enjoy comedy, and he does. He knows a lot about it and I always enjoy hanging with him.

Days like this are what life is all about. I got to interact with some of my favorite people in the world and do a comedy show too. The food was great and my car started every time I needed it to. These ’little’ things aren’t so little when they add up. I had a very good day.

Catching A 22

April 24, 2010

Thursday April 22nd, 2010 – Niles, IL

According to what little I know about numerology, 11 and 22 are important numbers for dates each month. I’ve heard them referred to as ‘power numbers’ and allegedly those that are born on those days are especially gifted people. It’s also supposed to be an energy day, perfect for getting important things done. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t, but I went for it.

I didn’t want to let the momentum die from all I did yesterday, so I got up and decided I was going to do at least one thing positive today and keep going from there. I started with mailing a dozen CDs out to media types and friends who may be able to get me some ink.

It’s getting very positive reviews from everyone who’s heard it and I’m starting to feel a buzz growing, at least with my friends. I see the importance of having recordings, as it’s a way to duplicate myself. The set that was used to record the CD was at Zanies in Chicago, and it was an early show on a Saturday that I remember very well. The audience was hot.

Now, that energy will be captured forever and a whole lot more people will hear it on a recording than ever heard it live. I’ve got at least one and maybe two more entire shows I can use to release another CD later this year. Then I’m going to start working on the local Milwaukee based ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show and put out some recordings of that as well.

I also used the theme of the 22nd to reconnect with some people I haven’t spoken to in a while. One of those was the Bob and Tom radio show in Indianapolis. I sent the producer and talent booker each a CD and a note hoping any ill feelings have blown over by now.

I still don’t know how or why that situation blew up the way it did, but I wasn’t the one who initiated it. If they’re still angry at me, I guess I can’t do anything but move on, but I still thought it was a good idea to send a CD as a good will gesture and hope it helps heal any lingering hostilities. I like the producer and booker a lot. They weren’t the problem.

I also tried to reconnect with Jeff Foxworthy’s management company. I made a bad first impression with the lady I was supposed to contact and that scared me off. I’ve never had a reaction like that either, and I wasn’t sure as to what to do. Ignoring it is the wrong call.

Since then, I’ve met a person who knows her and would be willing to vouch for me so I tried again and used his name. There’s no guarantee I’ll hear back from anyone, but it felt good to at least attempt to improve these shaky situations. It‘s smart business all the way.

Marc Schultz invited me over to his house for a barbecue and to watch the NFL draft. It was great to find another sports geek like me who loves the draft, so of course I went over and hung out. It was great food and great company, and a chance to escape for one night.

Everyone dreams of being a first round draft pick and getting to walk the aisle to shake hands with the commissioner, but the reality is most of us never do. The real challenge is to find what we’re all good at, and hope we can salvage a decent life. That’s where I am.

Shave And A Haircut

April 22, 2010

Wednesday April 21st, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Since I blew my chances to both rest up or accomplish anything productive yesterday, it felt extra good to kick it up a notch and get a lot done today. The weather was spectacular and these kind of days don’t come along very often around these parts. I enjoyed all of it.

I used today as a rebooting day to mentally start over. I finally got around to the gigantic mountain of laundry that’s been fermenting in front of me for weeks if not months, and it always feels good to get that out of the way. I have a backlog of socks and underwear and shirts that keep me from having to do laundry every week, so when I do it’s a major deal.

The woman I rent from told me I could use her washing machine, but I choose not to do that. I’m used to going to a Laundromat, and it’s actually quicker. I do it all at once and it ends up not taking that long at all. Usually three washers and three dryers gets it all done.

Road comics are used to doing laundry on the run. I wish I could count how many times I have had to stop at some strip mall between Albuquerque and Zanesville to scrub up my grundies for another week of road touring. Sometimes I’ll just buy cheap traveling clothes at thrift stores and wear them until they’re funky and then toss them. That’s a lot cheaper.

It’s also hassle free. One time I was in a restaurant and someone bumped a waitress who in turn spilled a big plate of spaghetti all over the front of my shirt. It was a chain reaction and obviously an accident but when it happened I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. I saw the look of terror on the waitress’s face, but I just laughed out loud and calmed her down.

The shirt I was wearing probably cost $1 at the most, and it was no big deal. It was very funny to see everyone turn and look at me, just like a scene in a movie. The manager said he’d pay for the cleaning bill, but I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t feel right. I just tossed the shirt and put on the spare I always carry with me in my car. It comes in handy quite often.

I also got a haircut today and had my bean sheared pretty good. I had my hair quite a bit longer than I’m used to wearing it and there was a big pile on the floor when I was done. I wanted it a little shorter this time just to symbolize a renewal of attitude. It’ll grow back.

My friend and former comedy student Karl Newyear lives in Waukegan and invited me to dinner at The Quonset on Grand Avenue. They have outstanding pizza and we sat and talked about basketball, since Karl played and is a big fan. It’s always fun to talk sports.

Karl has a great comedy angle. He’s “The World’s Funniest Lutheran”. Great gimmick. He hasn’t been hitting it as hard because he has a day job, and in this economy that’s not a bad thing. Like many people, he does comedy part time when he can. That’s totally fine.

Everything was laid back and easy today. I have a load of clean clothes and a three state killing spree haircut and I even made time to do a lap in the Gurnee Mills Mall to try and restart my exercise experiment. All in all, it was a productive day. I rebooted my attitude.

Respect For Strugglers

April 21, 2010

Tuesday April 20th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

As my hectic schedule constantly evolves, Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays are turning out to be my day(s) off. That could change at any time, but for now that’s how it is. I tried my best to relax and enjoy myself, but before I knew it I was running around and now my day is history. I didn’t accomplish a damn thing, plus I’m behind on this new week’s tasks.

Marc Schultz called and invited me to lunch with him and Tim Walkoe. That’s hard for me to pass up, only because I like both of those guys very much. Tim is struggling to stay afloat like most of the rest of us in comedy and with his talent I think that’s a major sin.

That guy is FUNNY. Period. Marc books all kinds of acts, but Tim and I are his favorite comedians by far. He said we are the two he can count on to deliver in any situation and if he gets calls for comedians, we get the nod. I’m flattered beyond belief to be thought of in the same breath as Tim. I recommend you check out his website at http://www.timwalkoe.com.

Tim is one of many people I know personally who are extremely talented and should be big stars in my opinion, but for whatever reason they’re not. That’s not an insult at all, it’s just fact. I think all kinds of comedians, actors, singers and radio people should be bigger.

Phil Cianciola in Milwaukee is another one that pops to mind. I used to listen to him all the time on WTMJ’s ‘Green House’ afternoon program and enjoyed him very much. He’s a skilled news person, but he’s also sharp and funny and really adds to any show he’s part of. One day I turned on the show and he wasn’t there, and nobody explained his absence.

That’s very typical of radio and I’ve been the victim of that myself. One day you’re on a major drive time program, the next you’re fired and vaporized from the station website as if you never existed. I’m sure Phil had the same experience and I think it’s totally stupid.

Phil is bouncing back with a pod cast which can be heard at http://www.thephilcast.com. I’ve not met Phil personally yet, but I did write to tell him how much of a fan I was of his role on WTMJ and I meant it. I also sent him a copy of my CD and he said he mentioned it on his cast and played a cut. That’s very nice of him and I hope to meet him in person soon.

Dan O’Brien is another name that pops into my head. He’s a former radio guy who took my comedy class years ago. He’s very talented, but decided to take a ‘steady’ job because he couldn’t afford to keep getting fired in radio. I totally get that, but I think it’s a crock.

He and Phil should be on the air if they choose to be. They’ve paid their dues and had to lose their jobs for no good reason to appease some visionless halfwit who probably hasn’t ever had to crack a live microphone but still knows what radio needs. My aching pelvis.

Tim and Phil and Dan are three examples of many more people I respect who are out in the trenches trying to survive. They’re brave and have my full respect and support, for any bit of good that may be worth. I’m out there with them, and it’s not easy. Back to work.

Who’s Laughing NOW?

April 20, 2010

Monday April 19th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Never have I in the past nor do I now claim to be perfect. My mistakes in life have been both numerous and infamous and I continue to pay for them on a daily basis. All that said, I shrieked with delight when I heard the tidings JD’s Comedy Café in Milwaukee was on the verge of closing it’s doors permanently. It felt so good I had others tell it to me again.

I know that it shouldn’t make me happy, and maybe it doesn’t. It does put a cake eating ear to ear smile on my puss though. There was never any love lost between that club and a long list of comedians, me being one of them. I’m not the only one basking in this news.

The owner was just plain mean spirited. He treated comedians like cat box cigars, and it didn’t matter because there was always another one ready to come in and get abused after anyone complained. A lot of comedy clubs and entertainment in general can be like that.

My main complaint with that club is that I did shows for them in 1994 and to this day I haven’t been paid. According to our deal I am owed $400, and that’s where the dispute is. Nobody disputes the fact I did the shows, the problem is JD not getting out his checkbook for going on 16 years now. He laughed it off back then and said he would never pay me.

It’s one of the few promises he’s kept, but it still infuriates me that I’ve had to sit there and take it. All kinds of people say “Just let it go already.” Easy for someone to say if it’s not your money, and if it was you’d be pissed off about it too. The whole situation stinks.

What stinks even more is that I didn’t get an opportunity to play in my home town for a lot of years because of this falling out so long ago. The booker then was no help at all and this has festered into an ugly feud which never had to begin in the first place. As I said, in no way do I claim to be without faults, but this one wasn‘t my doing. This was on them.

Truth be told, I would have worked there for low money, just to get some local acclaim. I’m a dented can, and all I ever really wanted was to get some love locally and feel like an entertainer. Instead, I got blacklisted and wasn’t able to perform there for all these years.

What that did was force me to go out on the road and leave Milwaukee to become a top notch comedy headliner, which I absolutely did. It was very difficult and for a long time I heard stories of how JD and his henchmen would spread stories of what an ass I was and many a local Milwaukee comic met me over the years and said I was the butt of his jokes.

There’s also the story of my infamous ‘Crisco package’ where I mailed a postal pack of Crisco, Cheez Whiz, Miracle Whip, sausage gravy and bacon after he’d had a heart attack many years ago that’s become a comedy road legend. It’s still making the rounds today.

In fact, I even earned the nickname of ‘The Count Of Mailing Crisco’, which I still hear on occasion from someone who knows the story. It’s all a blur now, but back then it was a giant mess. I needed that $400 badly, but JD just laughed it off. Who’s laughing now?

I’d heard he had a couple of strokes in the last few years, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. He was affiliated with the same crop of oily bikers my father was, and used it to intimidate and bully people just like my father did. One down, one circling the drain.

Life really is short and I fail to see what good any of that accomplished. I don’t miss my father and I surely won’t miss JD’s Comedy Café. I do miss the $400 I’m owed and wish I never had to go through this at all. I just wanted to entertain audiences in my home town.

There’s always been a lot of dysfunction in the Milwaukee comedy club scene. Giggles in Brookfield is no better, even though many of us hoped for a long time they would be. It pains me that they’re still open too, knowing how they bounce checks like basketballs all over town and I’m not the only one who’s had to endure that nightmare. It’s been horrific.

Unfortunately, I’ve been around this game long enough to remember back even farther when there was the Comedy Corner and the Funny Bone in town. Both of those guys had horrible but well earned reputations too. For some reason, Milwaukee comedy has always been infested with cockroaches and that in turn has polluted the scene of local comedians.

I’m one of the few who escaped early enough to salvage somewhat of a career, even if it still hasn’t been what it could be. I did manage to make it to national television and that’s not very easy to do, especially with no help or encouragement from the local comedy club scene. Then, when I did finally get on TV I got booked at Giggles and the check bounced.

Excuse me for being bitter about it but I absolutely am. There’s NO reason for any of it and it still hurts to this day. The owners of the Comedy Corner and Funny Bone left town with a path of abused comedians behind them and now it looks like JD is drifting off too.

He’ll slide into his next venture, oblivious to the pain he’s caused so many of the local comedians he could have helped to nurture. I wish you could see the pig sty hovel where they make the out of town acts stay. I think Auschwitz had a better interior decorator and again, the club just laughs about it. “Hey, you’re only there a few days.” It’s a big insult.

This is the side of comedy nobody sees or cares about. I’m sure it went on in Vaudeville and probably before that, but it still doesn’t make it right. Comedians are able to take a lot of punishment, and most of us want stage time so badly we’ll put up with the antics of the Comedy Cafes of the world. Before JD there was another maggot who was just as brutal.

He was a Prozac popping power freak maniac who used to get off on seeing how many comedians he could get to jump at his every whim. I’ve never been an ass kisser and that may be why I’m not farther than I am, but at least I have maintained a bit of my dignity.

Personally, I think when the Comedy Café closes they should torch that whole building and start over just like when they burned Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment. A lot of pain was inflicted in there, but most don’t want to talk about it. I don’t either, but it happened and if I don’t say anything nobody will ever know. Goodbye Comedy Café, I outlasted you.