Who’s Laughing NOW?

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.


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