Archive for May, 2010

Way Off Schedule

May 30, 2010

Saturday May 29th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

One of the toughest things to keep on track as a comedian is a booking schedule. It’s an endless effort to coordinate dates, as every booker has their own way of operating and it’s extremely rare when it all ‘just works out’. There are always a few glitches, switches and changes that occur, and it’s wise to write all bookings down on one’s calendar in pencil.

Right now I’m in the middle of one of the worst booking periods of my life. Everything is in turmoil, and I really need to get things back on track. I was supposed to be working a gig tonight in Michigan for my friend Tim Marszalkowski, but that fell through and we’re still not exactly sure what caused it. That’s not a very good way to ease into the summer.

Summer is comedy’s off season, but comedians still have to eat. It was always harder to get summer work, especially in the north, but now it’s getting down right nasty. Clubs are closing en masse, and it’s like a giant game of musical chairs nobody wants to play. It’s a tough enough nut to stay booked as it is, much less having to deal with all this other stuff.

Since I had an unexpected night off, I drove up to Milwaukee to visit my friend Darryl Rhoades who was working at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino. We met on a hell gig years ago and stayed in touch. He’s from Atlanta and does musical comedy, and he had a bit part in the movie ‘Crazy Heart’ with Jeff Bridges. He’s a hard worker.

We often exchange stories about troubles with bookers or ideas of how we can get past having to get a day job, which both of us know we’re not qualified to do. Darryl was in a lot of bands before he got into comedy, and he’s a very good marketer. He has a dozen or more cds and also sells t-shirts, and he does very well for himself. I’m not good at that.

I’m getting better, but I’ve got a LONG way to go. Darryl works many of the same gigs I do, but I bet he makes quite a bit more money because of his marketing savvy. He’s also married to a woman who works for an airline so he can fly on standby for next to nothing. Hey, good for him. I wish I had that advantage. Any little thing helps in the big picture.

I love working the Northern Lights Casino for many reasons. The venue is spectacularly set up on all levels, onstage and off. The staff is fantastic, and it’s first class all the way. If all gigs were like that well run, comedy would be pure heaven. I always enjoy being here.

That being said, I discovered a glitch in the schedule that made my blood run cold. I had thought I was booked to be there next week, June 5th. Apparently, the booker wrote down the week after, and that’s when I was listed. I’m in Louisville at the Comedy Caravan that week and can’t get out of it. It looks like I’m going to lose out on a whole week of work.

I called the booker immediately, and sure enough there was a snafu. It’s hard to tell who was at fault, but it doesn’t matter at this point. I know it was unintentional, but now it’s a problem, and I was counting on that money. Fortunately, this booker isn’t a maniac and it will work itself out. I’ll get a rebooking, and life goes on. Still, I need a major revamping.

Gary Coleman

May 29, 2010

Friday May 28th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Gary Coleman is dead, and I’m glad to hear it. Just like I was glad when I’d heard about Michael Jackson’s death, maybe the guy can finally find peace. I thought I was Mr. Lucky but he’s always had me beat. I’m glad his torturous run is over. The guy had it very tough.

Here’s a perfect example of proof that fame and fortune are both fleeting and not in any way guaranteed to provide happiness. I have to believe he had a freakish existence for the majority of his life, and whatever free ride he had because of his cuteness wore off fast.

The kid had to overcome being born black, with bad kidneys, was adopted by people in Zion, IL who allegedly misappropriated his funds, was estranged from them for years, and had to live the majority of his life being 4’8” tall and having to hear idiots en masse get in his face every single day and repeat his catch phrase “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”

I’m surprised the poor bastard didn’t go on a killing spree twenty years ago. Time after time he was caught on TV and made fun of, whether he was a security guard or having an incident with someone who probably got in his face. I always felt sorry for the guy. I still do. He should have had a wonderful life, but instead he had to be a source of mockery.

I remember seeing him interviewed on some talk show, and I wanted to cry. He told of his life and troubles, and admitted he didn’t have a lot of friends and my heart went out to the guy right there. I would have been his friend, and not because he was famous. Even in school I always tried to buddy up to the kids who were outcasts. Loneliness is pure hell.

I have a lot of comedian friends who don’t associate with a lot of other comics. I always seem to ‘buddy up with the strays’, and much of the reason for that is I can understand the mindset they’re in. I’ve been there too, and in many ways I never left. There’s a lot of hurt in there, and if someone can at least be a good listener there’s no better friend anywhere.

Gary Coleman wasn’t an idiot. Not by a long shot. He was a smart guy, trapped in a tiny body with bad kidneys and puffy cheeks that old ladies wanted to pinch when he was ten. Then, he wasn’t ten anymore and all hell broke loose. Life is hard enough without having to navigate adulthood from where that guy started. Former successes don’t help for long.

His fame was gone and I’m sure his fortune followed quickly. According to the article I read, he was still estranged from his parents at the time of his death. I’m not sure if those were his adoptive parents or not, and it’s none of my business. I do know about how that feels though, and no matter who it is, something had to happen to cause the estrangement.

If there was a dented can Hall of Fame, Gary Coleman would be in it. My heart goes out to him and I wish him nothing but peace, hope, happiness and relief. The freak show of a life he’s had to star in for a lot longer than Diff’rent Strokes lasted is finally over, and I’m sending any good vibe I can muster his way. If there is life after death, hopefully he’s on a lounge chair right about now, sipping a cool one and getting a massage. He’s earned it.

Journey To Janesville

May 29, 2010

Thursday May 27th, 2010 – Janesville, WI

I received a nice surprise by getting a call to fill in for a last minute fallout in Janesville, WI at a place called The Armory. It’s, well, an old armory building in the downtown area that’s been remodeled and they did an outstanding job. It’s an absolutely gorgeous facility that does large production shows, and they’ve also been doing comedy for several years.

Janesville and Beloit have always had a soft spot in my heart. My first ‘road gig’ was in Beloit, and I remember how electric it felt to be performing in another city than my home town of Milwaukee. I felt like a real live performer, even though I was horrendously bad.

Everyone stinks when they start out, but the process of learning the offstage lessons is a separate education altogether. Getting in a the car and riding to the town with all the other comedians is part of that, along with talking about how the show went on the way home.

My mentor C. Cardell Willis had a friend in Beloit who owned a bar and booked shows about four times a year. He also had a place in Janesville, and eventually that was the big ‘run’. Beloit would be one night, Janesville the next. Once in a while we’d get to do both shows in the same month, and it felt like a Lollapalooza tour. I loved doing those shows.

Cardell would drive a few of us down from Milwaukee along with his manager Shirley Schaak, and Shirley would make up the order on the way down. She’d give us our times, and then pay us in cash after the show. I sure hope they made some money, but knowing how generous both of them were, I doubt it. Those were some sweet comedy memories.

Cardell and Shirley are both gone now, as is the economy of Janesville. I used to enjoy the audiences in both towns, as they were just good old hard working Midwestern people. They were friendly and loved the fact we’d drive down from Milwaukee to do shows for them. I felt really bad when I heard General Motors closed the plant there just recently.

It wasn’t a ghost town or anything, but I have to believe the future there isn’t what was the case when everyone had jobs. I’ve seen Michigan towns after the auto industry went belly up and it’s not pretty. Flint is a hell hole, I’ve been there more times than I wanted.

Hopefully Janesville won’t turn into another Flint. They’ve got a nice downtown and it seems like they’re working hard at keeping their city pride intact. It’s not filthy at all and The Armory really is a wonderful facility. Unfortunately, the audience wasn’t very large.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer, and they feed the comics before the show. I had one of THE best hamburgers I’ve ever had in my life, and everything about the place was first class all the way. I was asked to do a longer show, and I gladly did what they requested.

I ended up doing about an hour and ten minutes, but the audience that did show up was into it. I was too. I enjoyed the show, but wished they’d had more people so they might be able to turn a profit. I hope they keep it going, they’ve put too much effort into this not to.

The Weirdness Continues

May 27, 2010

Wednesday May 26th, 2010 – Valparaiso, IN

More weirdness today. There must be a full moon coming up. That or the world has just lost it completely. That could be the case also, I guess. Whatever it might be, I just hope it ends soon so I’m able to navigate my way through the insanity and get by. This is crazy.

The situation with the Michigan gig is still a mystery. I spoke with the middle act as did Tim Marszalkowski, and we both agree he wasn’t at fault. He swears he’s not booked at a hotel in the same town, and we believe him. He’s actually a very good guy and was just as concerned about it as Tim and I were. He seems to know who these sneaky varmints are.

This is one of the dangers of trying to book shows. Word has gotten out that I have been thinking about maybe doing some booking, and this is the kind of stuff that happens right away. It’s like a mob hit that’s intended to ‘send a message’. This was Tim’s gig, I wasn’t involved at all. The only message I’m getting is that these people aren’t smart or ethical.

It looks like the show is going to be cancelled, or at least postponed. The middle act is a lifer in the financial business, and he has offered to make it good and pay in full both Tim and myself for our trouble, since his name was what seemed to start all the controversy.

He doesn’t have to do that, but it sure is a very honorable thing to do. I for one am sure not used to it, so I’ll be loyal to a guy like that for life. There are still some details that are unclear, but I’m sure everything will work itself out. The bottom line is, this business can be loaded with snakes and weasels, especially at the lower level. I want to get past all this.

That’s not to say insanity doesn’t happen on a higher level, but at least the possibility of a much higher payoff exists. This was chump change peanuts, and that’s why it was such a shock to see it happen like it did. All that’s for sure is that I’m not driving to Michigan.

I did have to drive to Valparaiso, IN for a show tonight. It was a show that’s been going on for many years apparently. There’s a company that has metalworkers that need to get a certification from the government, and it takes constant training to do it. They graduate to the next level, and the company gives them a dinner and likes to hire comedians as a treat.

Jim McHugh was the guy I got it from, and I’m very grateful. Still, the vibe was strange the whole time. There was a crying baby right in the front row, and that threw everything off. That’s WAY difficult to navigate, and she cried right on cue at about ten punch lines. It’s funny now, but wasn’t funny as it was happening. There’s nothing to do but press on.

On the way there I stopped to visit fellow Jerry’s Kidder Tim Slagle since he’s located in Indiana, and broke a filling on a sandwich he made for me. I haven’t had dental torture in a while, but now that’s back in the mix too apparently. It just doesn’t stop. What gives?

Whatever it is, this is an odd stretch. I did my time and got my check at the gig, but I’m not thrilled. I wanted to light it up for them. My tooth hurts too. All I can do is press on.

Feels Like A Full Moon

May 26, 2010

Tuesday May 25th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I wonder if there was a full moon today? I’m always afraid to look those up, because I really don’t want to know. I’d rather just fight through whatever goofiness it brings with a blind eye, not going in expecting everything to blow up in my face. I prefer a clean slate.

Today sure did feel odd, though. It was one of those days when I was behind every idiot on a cell phone in traffic who was in a deep conversation and had NO clue they were on a public roadway with other drivers. I’m trying to get better with anger but that really pisses me off royally. Do people really think they’re the only ones on the road? It’s maddening.

I lose count of how many clueless apes are lost in their own little world clutching a cell phone, gesturing like they’re conducting a philharmonic orchestra. Is there an immediate necessity to have such a deep conversation in the left hand lane in downtown Chicago?

If it’s that big of an emergency, PULL OVER. 99.999% of imbeciles I see clogging the toilet in the left hand lane when I’m late and in a hurry either have handicapped plates or a cell phone pressed against the ear of their empty brainless coconut skull that’s probably got a steel plate inside of it. I drive more than the average person, and I see it constantly.

Handicapped plates and stickers are another thing too. Of course I feel everyone should be able to get around, blah blah blah, but dammit DRIVE LIKE YOU’VE SEEN PAVED ROADS BEFORE. I was behind one halfwit slower than the next, and it blew my gasket.

I needed to get to Alpha Graphics in Vernon Hills, IL before it closed at 5pm on the dot. Jay Bachochin is the owner, and he told me he needed to leave by 5 to pick up his young son. Fine. I get that. I wish the hundreds of other mouth breathing Neanderthals did, too.

I fought traffic and missed stop lights and drove on two wheels at about 60mph through the 25mph speed limited downtown main street in Libertyville, hoping to make it by 5:00 so Jay could leave. He’s very laid back and mellow, and I got there at 5:04. He was cool, but I felt bad making him wait. It was just one of those days. I couldn’t catch any breaks.

I’ve given up trying to figure out what causes days like this. All I know is, this isn’t the first one I’ve ever had, and it won’t be the last. I’m sure everyone has them at some point, but when they hit me, I can feel them hit extra hard. To add extra stress, my gas tank was on ‘E’ and the red light was on the whole way. I had no idea if I’d run out of gas or not.

I gave Jay my CD cover art colorized so he could scan it and make posters, postcards or whatever else we can think of. I just needed to get the original to him and today was when I could do it. The time of stress in getting there felt like Steve McQueen’s ride in ‘Bullitt’.

Then I went to Pheasant Run in St. Charles to teach a comedy class for people who had to miss other classes for whatever reason. It was a make up session, and of course the air conditioning was broken and it was a sauna in the club. We were all sweating like pigs.

I was in a foul and salty mood, but it wasn’t the students’ fault. I really do love to teach classes, but today was not the ideal day. I fought traffic all day to get out there and then it was like a steam room inside the club for two hours. I came out soaked with sweat. Yuck.

Then, on the way home I received a call and a text from two different women who had to cancel dates I thought we had, and then the cake taker was getting a call from my good friend Tim Marszalkowski telling me a show in Michigan he booked for this week is off.

That’s not the unusual thing. Getting gigs cancelled at the last minute has been going on for years. Every working comedian has experienced it, but it rots ass big time, every time. This time it had a twist. Apparently, the person I suggested as the middle act got himself booked at another venue in town on the same night. In all my years, I’ve never seen that.

I don’t know him very well, but he’s from the Detroit area and asked if I could ever get him in with any bookers. Plenty of guys ask me that, and I try to help if I can. I know how hard it can be to get gigs, especially when someone is starting out. I thought I’d acquired a lot of good karma by passing countless names along over the years to a lot of bookers.

I thought this was another one, but it seems to have bitten me in the ass and isn’t going to release any time soon. Tim called and told me what happened and my jaw dropped. He was pretty shocked too, and said he’s going to cancel the gig he’d booked me for because people were bitching that the price of admission at the other gig was a whole lot lower.

Tim’s show was supposed to be a fundraiser for the local area businesses who wanted a chance at government grant money to start jobs. He worked very hard at getting it booked and had arranged radio interviews, newspaper articles, and secured my services to do the show. My Craig Ferguson appearance was a selling point and the people were all excited.

Then, apparently some snaggle puss booker I never heard of heard about it and went to a local hotel and booked a low rent show on the same night. The middle act who I asked to do our gig was listed as the middle act on that show. Tim and I both called him, but he hasn’t returned either call as of yet. I can’t understand what the hell he was trying to do.

Wouldn’t it be obvious we’d find out about it? The shows even started at the same time. How would he be able to do both gigs, and not think anyone would know – especially in a very small town where they rarely have comedy at all? This is way up north in Michigan.

I’m not so much angry about it as shocked. I don’t see the thought process with the guy, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until I talk to him personally. I’m not that close with him at all, and we’ve only worked a couple of times on the road. I’ll hold my tongue.

The guy was supposed to have me headline a show he’s trying to put together in a jazz club in the Detroit area in September. I‘m sure as hell going to think twice about trusting anyone who would go behind my back and the back of one of my best friends like that on short notice for such a small amount of money. The whole day was like this – very weird.

Double Exposure

May 25, 2010

Monday May 24th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI/Chicago, IL

Any time a comedian can get on radio or TV, it’s a good thing. Today I did both. First it was a radio appearance on WLIP in Kenosha, WI – the same station on which I’m the host of ‘The Mothership Connection’ on Sunday nights. There’s a show in the afternoon called ‘Happenings Q & A’. It’s hosted by Frank Carmichael, who owns Happenings magazine.

It’s amazing what a small world it is. I’d heard the show many times, as that’s what was on as I was learning to run the control board at WLIP for my show. I’d heard of Frank for a long time before that, because he published the magazine. Still, it never occurred to me that he’s the brother of a comedian named Kurtis Carmichael who I knew from years ago.

He was a competent comedian, but his ‘fame’ came from being a TV Bozo The Clown in Milwaukee and getting kicked off the air for being too suggestive. He caused a big stir when he did it, and I remember watching it a few times back when he was on in the ‘80s. It probably wasn’t meant for kids, but I laughed really hard. He was the original Krusty.

Kurtis was a funny guy and I always liked him, but his real flair was for business. He’s one of the most entrepreneurial people I know, and he was always telling me about what he had going. He used to have a fleet of motorized ice cream tricycles and hire people to drive them near the beach and sell ice cream for him. I always admired his money sense.

I haven’t seen Kurtis Carmichael in years, but as soon as Frank said he had a brother in comedy, I immediately knew who it was. They look similar, and it hit me right away that it had to be Kurtis. Evidently the opportunity bug bit Frank too, as he’s had the magazine for years. Good for both of them. I always enjoy hearing entrepreneurial success stories.

Tonight I filmed a pilot for a standup TV show that was held at Zanies in Chicago. The show was run by Bert Haas, directly from a conversation he and I had on the way back to Chicago from Hot Springs, AR last summer. I think there’s room for another show like it, as many came and went during the ‘80s and ‘90s. This is just an old idea done over again.

The good part is, it’ll have comedians that aren’t the Hollywood mainstays. There are a ton of undiscovered comedians between the coasts who are too busy working to be on one of the coasts trying to get discovered. Those are the people Bert and I interact with daily.

I have nothing to do with the production of it per se, but Bert made me part of the pilot anyway. He didn’t have to do that, and I sure appreciate it. The taping went very well and it was loaded with great acts from Tim Walkoe to Dwayne Kennedy to a dozen more that totally deserved to be included. I hope this show takes off, I think it’s got some potential.

Today was a good day all around. It was fun if nothing else, but I think it was more. I’m sure both of these contacts will pay dividends in the future, and I appreciate it that both of them would include me in their projects. This is what building a network is all about, and the whole idea is to help each other grow. Two healthy contact seeds were planted today.

Red Flag Rising

May 25, 2010

Sunday May 23rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL

There’s a red flag flying sky high. Time to knuckle down and work even harder. I was asked to be part of a panel discussion at a comedy seminar held in Chicago this weekend called ‘The Inside Joke – 2010’. It was a venture by a local guy named Nate Baumgart.

Events like this are never easy to pull off, so kudos to Nate for even attempting to do it. I did one several years ago at Zanies, and it was all kinds of work to get it up and running. I don’t mind work at all, but these events require a lot of things that try one‘s patience.

Who can predict what can draw enough interest to get someone to attend a seminar? It’s a crapshoot, and advertising is not and never was cheap. It’s a little easier now with social networking, but it’s still not easy to get multiple butts out to fill up seats for any reason.

I thought Nate did a very commendable job attracting people from all areas of Chicago comedy even though the turnout was rather sparse. He had some top level people from the improv and standup scene, and if anyone was interested in learning they should have been there shaking hands and kissing babies. Nate kept the admission price ridiculously low.

If I’m not mistaken, each session was able to be attended for only a buck, and it was $5 for the weekend. That’s insane. We charged $350 for the weekend for the seminar we did at Zanies and we still didn’t turn a profit. We used the money to cover all of our expenses and advertising, and that ate it up quickly. We also had to purchase an insurance policy.

I don’t know what Nate’s expenses were, but I hope he didn’t lose his shorts. I don’t see how he couldn’t have, but that’s not my business. My business was to make comments on a panel about standup comedy that included Bert Haas from Zanies, Chris Ritter – the guy who used to own the Lakeshore Theatre, and comics Bill Gorgo and Cameron Esposito.

There were a lot of disagreements about a lot of topics, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What I found disturbing was that nobody was there to see it. There are a whole lot of aspiring performers of all kinds in Chicago, and this is an event that should’ve been a waiting list only kind of thing. It was a great chance to pick the brains of some veterans.

I hope the business isn’t passing me by, but I’m in a dangerously close place where that could easily happen. I heard some names talked about by the panel I have never heard of, and I’m supposed to be in the business. That’s a huge red flag, and I need to fix it quickly.

The whole comedy game is changing, much like life itself. It used to be that everybody in comedy knew or at least had heard of everyone else. Now, there are people I’ve never heard of that are signing movie deals. I guess I should pay more attention to the internet.

I’m not really one for chat rooms or message boards or all the other things most comics need to know these days. It’s all evolving there, and if I don’t catch up and learn who’s on top of it I’m SO dead in the water. This was a wakeup call. I need to get better yesterday.

Color Coordination

May 23, 2010

Saturday May 22nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

No gig tonight but this time it’s ok. Last night’s show was so hot I got my fix and I have a lot of work coming up in the next few weeks that will keep me plenty busy. My plan for today was to keep tabs on my daily chores like emails and calls and make sure those kinds of things don’t get out of hand as they tend to do quite frequently. It’s a constant struggle.

That was my plan, but I got so far off of it it’s ridiculous. I don’t know how it happened and I sure didn’t plan on it, but I ended up spending about eight full hours today coloring. Yes, COLORING – as in filling in a black and white picture with markers and hoping not to go outside the lines. I thought for sure my coloring days were over, but I was mistaken.

What’s next, a game of hide and seek? Some graham crackers? Nap time? Am I back in kindergarten? I wasn’t very good at coloring back then, so why did I revert back to it over forty years later? Necessity. I needed to add color to the cover artwork of my new CD. It’s been bothering me since I got it, and I had to see what it would look like in living color.

My original plan was to do a tribute to the Funkadelic album “Hardcore Jollies”. I chose that particular one not only because “Hard Luck Jollies” fits it perfectly, but also because it’s a very wildly drawn busy cover with all kinds of vibrant pinks and purples all over it.

Pedro Bell’s style is quite striking, and I have to believe he’s sampled his share of LSD, plus yours and mine too. He must have done about twenty albums throughout the heyday of their peak years, and they really do stand out. One of the reasons why is that they’re all bursting with an array of colors. That‘s what I‘d pictured my project to be, but it wasn’t.

I really feel bad that Pedro’s ink person ripped him off, but I paid for a finished product and I didn’t get it. Whoever was at fault isn’t important. What matters is, I needed to get a product out so I made due with what I had. It doesn’t look horrible at all, and most people who’d probably be fans of mine have no idea who Pedro Bell or Funkadelic are anyway.

Still, if I’m going to do something, I want to do it right. I know nobody cares, but I want to hopefully do another print run eventually, and that one should have a colorized version of the cover. I played around with several versions until I finally nailed what I had wanted in the first place, but it was worth it. The colors just leap off the page and it’s a lot better.

My friend Jay Bachochin owns an Alpha Graphics in Vernon Hills, IL and he said he’ll be able to scan the color drawing and reproduce it as needed. I could see this even being a t-shirt eventually, or maybe even a poster. It’s very unique and I’m glad I took the time to get it finished the way I imagined it to be in the first place. This was worth all my effort.

Hopefully, I’m now done with my coloring career and can go back into retirement. I am glad I did this though, because the results will pay off for a long time. Plus, I also colored a back cover drawing Pedro did, which I think I can tweak into the front cover of the next CD. I paid for it, why not use it? Anything that can set me apart in a good way, I’ll take.

Two States, Too Fun

May 23, 2010

Friday May 21st, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Crystal Lake, IL

I have to admit, life is really starting to get fun right about now. All kinds of things are happening on a daily basis that I really enjoy. I’ll also admit that in the past I’ve often had a tendency to bitch, piss, moan, whine, complain or bellyache about a whole lot of things. I realize that I can be picky, fussy, flighty and many times have been difficult to please.

Part of that may have to do with my creative nature, another part could be my childhood dented can experiences. Still another part could be that I’m a just garden variety kook bag wandering around on the wrong planet. A good bet would be a combination of the three.

Whatever the case, I’ve got a nice little groove going right now. I feel it. I’m coming off a depression funk recently, but that feels light years away right now. I’m at peace with my inner self and whatever demons I’ve had must have gotten bored with me and moved on.

None of this means it can’t or won’t change, but I do want to acknowledge the positive groove I’m in and be grateful for it. I feel almost bulletproof right now, and the reason for it is I know what I’m doing and am pleasing myself first. Everyone else takes a back seat.

I’m doing things my way, and enjoying each day to the fullest. Today was another good example. I drove up to Milwaukee to be a guest on ‘The D-List’ radio show on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee with Drew Olson. Dan Needles was off and several guests were filling in.

I was a little late due to road construction, but I did get there and shared the studio with the always lovely Caitlin Morall, who wasn’t wearing makeup and was STILL scorching hot, and Stephanie Sutton, sportscaster from Channel 12. She’s by far no homely muppet herself, and was very sweet and fun both on mike and off. It was totally worth the drive.

I cracked off a few good lines and made everyone laugh, and I also got to plug my Hard Luck Jollies CD for a few minutes, which Drew was very kind to do. It was a blast as I’ve come to always expect it to be, and even the owner Craig Karmazin made it a point to say some very nice things before I left. When does THAT ever happen in radio? Uh…never?

Tonight I did a show at The Raue Center in Crystal Lake, IL. I was there before a while back with Tim Walkoe, but it was a last minute fill in. I opened the show both as a favor and for the money, but tonight I was the headliner. It’s funny how the staff congratulated me for being ‘moved up’, and one lady only half jokingly asked if I thought I was ready.

I faked a look of terror and said “Geez, I don’t know. Got any extra jokes in case I need to stretch the time?” She didn’t laugh at all and probably didn’t know if I was kidding or not, but after I came off stage nobody had any doubts. These people were mine tonight.

Everything was right about this show. The place was full and the crowd happened to be totally into my vibe and rhythm. And, I was paid BEFORE I went on! Hear that, maggots who bounce checks? This was a great day all around, and even the weather was perfect.

Hometown Homecoming

May 21, 2010

Thursday May 20th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Today it was back up to Milwaukee for a lunch with Tom Skibosh, former P.R. director for the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s a super nice guy, and I was hooked up with him through my power network of Milwaukee shaker/baker types. I’m learning it pays to be patient, as eventually good things do happen. It’s taken years to build up this quality people network.

‘Sky’ said can help me put a plan together for the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ one man show as far as things like making media contacts and getting an actual program published. He’s an expert on that kind of stuff and has years of experience doing exactly that for the Brewers.

Sky’s assistant was Jon Greenberg, now president of the Milwaukee Admirals. Greenie has always been great to me, and still continues to throw bones my way whenever he can. These are the kinds of people that I want to be around, and in return I’ve done favors for a lot of them as well. Nobody keeps score either, it’s a bunch of friends helping each other.

Some of the best on that list include Drew Olson, Steve ‘The Homer’ True, Ted Perry at Fox 6, Mark Krueger, Art Kumbalek, Gene Mueller, my friend Wade Waugus who works for the Bucks and started there when we were ball boys in high school. These are people I would do anything for, and they’ve proven it time and time again by doing things for me.

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to escape Milwaukee, but that’s where I come from and nothing will ever change it. I had so many painful memories there, and all I wanted to do was get out of town and forget them. I thought that would do it, but I was wrong. I still had them rotting inside. It didn’t matter where I went, all that ugliness was still festering.

All these years later, I’m a completely different person. I’ve worked through my painful family mess, at least to the point where I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I proved it to myself by successfully chasing and catching my dream of being a full time comedian. Family and childhood are things I couldn’t control. Things I could have been successful.

I’m seeing things a lot more clearly than I ever have, and even with the heaping helping of stupid mistakes I’ve made, I’ve also managed to squeeze in a lot of positive things too. My confidence as both a performer and a person is finally growing in the healthy way it’s supposed to. Mommy and Daddy never told me I was good, but audiences always have.

I guess I’m finally starting to believe it, at least a little. I’m not cocky or arrogant, but it does feel good when people come up after a show and tell me they enjoyed it. I know all kinds of comedians who don’t know how to deal with that, and I admit I used to feel very awkward in that situation for a long time myself. Now, I really enjoy it. It makes my day.

I’m also noticing all kinds of women around me lately. I’ve always been streaky in that department, either hot or cold. The tide flows in and out, and now it’s in. I’ve been having all kinds of women I’m interested in either contact me or I’m running into them in droves. I sure wish I knew how to control it, but for whatever reason it’s been raining hot women.
One I absolutely adore is Kristi McHugh. She’s a comic from Iowa living in L.A. and is chasing the big dream. We worked together in Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago and she blew me away with her sharp funny wit. It doesn’t hurt that she’s supermodel hot, either.

Kristi called me today and said she’s doing a set in front of Tim Allen and his manager Rick Messina next week at the Laugh Factory in L.A. Yay, Kristi! I know she’ll nail that and I’ve always predicted big things for her. She was with me back stage when I taped my Craig Ferguson appearance, and I knew then she’d take it a lot farther than I ever would.

She has ‘it’, and I’m thrilled she’s getting her shot. She called out of the blue and asked if I’d help go over her audition set. Of course I will. Maybe she’ll let me be her new pool boy, or designated limo waxer. Maybe she’ll put me in charge of keeping her tofu chilled.

I think she’s a cross between a young Mary Tyler Moore and Sandra Bullock. Not in her looks, she’s blonde. I’m talking about in her attitude. She’s got the independent woman in the big city thing that Mary Tyler Moore had in her sitcom, and also the infamous big star quality of ‘guys want to do her, women want to BE her’. I think she’s going to hit it BIG.

Good for her. I had the same feeling about Frank Caliendo, and he ended up hitting it as big as anyone in recent memory. Good for him too. I can’t do one impression and I’m not a gorgeous blonde with a razor sharp wit. All I can do is plod along with whatever I have.

Maybe it’s not in the cards for me to be a big star, and that’s ok. There are a lot of nasty facets to that whole thing too, and I know it’s not all chocolate cake and limo rides. I have to believe Elvis and Michael Jackson had a lot more painful memories than positive ones, at least after the major fame set in. It seems to get so huge it consumes any one person.

My ego needs are a lot lower than that. I don’t need to be constantly stalked by a lurking  band of carnivorous paparazzi hoping to catch me picking my nose so they can snap off a whole roll of film of it and sell it to the National Enquirer. Some crave all that attention.

I want to DO something in life. I want to help others and do good and be kind to people who can’t pay me back. I want to experience whatever high spiritual level there is to find on a superficial planet filled with psychotic idiots and greedy soulless robots. Can I do it?

That’s the plan. It’s always been the plan, even when I was starting out back in the early days in Milwaukee. I always wanted to be a big deal there, only because it was my home town. Who doesn’t want to be a big deal in their home town? I never got it, and after a lot of years of trying I just gave up and moved on. Now, I‘m reconnecting in a positive way.

I feel good things about to happen in the next few months, and I’ll enjoy every second of every minute of all of it. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and I’m finally in a position to really start enjoying myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and am ready to reclaim my Milwaukee roots by being a part of my team of friends like Sky and Drew and Wade and all the rest. I learned a lot of lessons along the way, and I’m ready to rock.