Archive for July, 2010

A Day In Milwaukee

July 31, 2010

Friday July 30th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee for business and pleasure. I’ve been up there so much in the past few weeks it’s starting to feel like I live there again. It’s also starting to feel like Chicago with all the road construction and traffic jams. That isn’t the Milwaukee that I remember.

Lots going on today. First I met with a very nice lady who is producing some television segments for PBS for the fall fund drive. I was referred to her by a gentleman who has an outstanding website about Milwaukee history called http://www.retromilwaukee.com. He and I have had some brief communication about teaming up on the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show.

It’s a fantastic website, and I want to cross promote as much as possible. I’ll gladly plug his excellent site with my shows, and I hope he can plug my shows in return. He gave me the lady‘s email address and we set up a meeting for early afternoon. She‘s hoping to put a segment together about the show to be run in the fall. That would make nice promo.

After that I went to visit my old friend David Rickert. David was a comedian back when the boom hit in the ‘80s, and actually was funny. He’s very smart and performed for quite a few years. I’m sure he probably could have stayed with it, but he loved fire fighting a lot more than comedy, so that’s what he chose. He’s very good at it and that was his destiny.

David has been working as a fire fighter probably as long as I’ve been a comedian. He’s an expert, one of the very best around. His life worked out very well and I’m ecstatic for a lot of reasons. He’s married to a doctor of all things and they have three textbook beauties for children, two girls and a boy. They’re unbelievably sweet kids, not at all dented cans.

David’s family are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They invited me over for all kinds of holiday meals in my early twenties and I’ll never forget it. They knew I was not a fan of the holidays but they took me in as if I was their own flesh and blood. They lived it rather than just talked about it, and all these years later their kindness shines like the sun.

We’re all super busy and I haven’t seen David in a while, and we were scheduled to see a Brewers game a while back, but I blew it and missed the day. People like him and all of his family are what make life worth living, and it was great to hang out and chat for a few hours as his son Adam wiped me out on a video bowling game. He’s four. I’m an idiot.

After that I went over to see the woman I’ve been seeing off and on for so many years it blurs together at this point. I can’t really call her my girlfriend, but that’s as close as what she is at this point. We drift in and out of contact, and she’s got a hefty stack of problems to deal with of her own. She just had surgery for a herniated intestine and is home resting.

She’s a single mom with a seven year old son, and he’s got the energy of a giant swarm of bees. I brought them Cousins submarine sandwiches for dinner so she wouldn’t have to cook, and I know she greatly appreciated it. Her eyes lit up and it was a surprise that I was in town, so it felt good to do a good deed for the day. This is what life is really all about.

There was just a good solid friendly peaceful vibe all day, and I surfed it like a wave. In a perfect world, every day would be like this but it never is. For whatever reason, I didn’t let anything or anyone get to me today but that was never an issue. Good people just kept crossing my path, and I appreciated every one of them. I tried to return the same energy.

The main reason I was in Milwaukee today was to do a ten minute opening set for The fifth annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival at 342 North Water Street. It’s an outstandingly well run event and I stumbled upon it a few years ago. My contact there is a guy named Matt Kemple who, with a few partners, are really growing themselves a very nice event.

They have a website at http://www.milwaukeecomedy.com  and are doing sketch and improv shows the rest of the weekend. Tickets are very reasonable, and there’s a lot of talent that shows up to entertain. I like how they start off the shows with a comedian, and I felt right at home from the first two seconds I was there. I wish them all nothing but big success.

It thrills me that someone is trying to make Milwaukee into a comedy town. It sure isn’t known for that, and anyone who’s tried to perform in Milwaukee will tell you how super difficult it is to get any recognition there. Comedysportz has done alright, and they know the Milwaukee stigma. I respect that whole organization from Dick Chudnow on down.

I’m very flattered that Matt asked me to be part of the festival, and I had a great time for my ten minute set. That space has housed a few of John McGivern’s one person shows in the past and I could definitely see myself doing a few ‘Schiltz Happened!’ performances.

I was out early enough that I still had some time to do something else, and I noticed that the Joan Rivers documentary “A Piece Of Work” was playing at the Downer Theatre. I’ve been meaning to see it for a while, but haven’t had time. I’d heard it was very well done.

I don’t know what to think of Joan Rivers. Part of me respects her work ethic, which is right up there with just about anyone I’ve ever seen, but another part of me is very turned off by her obnoxious personality. She seems very mean spirited, and that‘s hard to watch.

She’s obviously a dented can, but I don’t know why. She’s had a lot of success, but that doesn’t seem to have come close to satisfying her. It seems that nothing will. I was almost sad for her watching the film and seeing her deal with a lot of the same hassles that I do.

One scene that really hit home was her getting heckled at a casino gig in the far north of  Wisconsin of all places, a place I’ve actually worked myself. Some goof didn’t like a joke she did and it was go time. She took charge and handled it, but it brought back a flood of memories of my own dealings with halfwits like that. I guess fame doesn’t prevent it.

Whatever dents Joan Rivers has in her can seem to be a lot deeper than mine. I love the process of creating comedy and hearing the laughs, but she’s obsessed with it to the point of never being able to enjoy it. I hope I never get to that point. I had fun at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, and the whole day was really enjoyable. Fame will never replace that.

Living La Vida Lambeau

July 31, 2010

Thursday July 29th, 2010 – Green Bay, WI

I made a positive mistake today by accepting an invitation from my friend Shelley to go to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI for the annual Packers shareholders meeting. I’ve had chances to go with various people in past years, but today was the day – even though I was swamped with other things to do instead of that. It was a beautiful day, so I decided to go.

There were more than a dozen reasons why I should have stayed home and pecked away at all the work I have to do, but who says I have to do it other than me? Will it matter in a hundred years if I decided to take a day away to go do something other than what I had on my agenda? Will it matter in fifty? Ten? One? Quite frankly, nobody cared at all but me.

What a powerful draw the NFL has. They’re the top sport right now, at least in America and I don’t have any aspirations to move anywhere else if soccer is my only alternative. If I had to watch soccer and pretend I liked it, I’d throw myself in front of a train and end it.

Football is another story. My Packerholic condition has been in remission since the end of last season, but I’m ready to fall off the wagon as were several thousand others at those hallowed halls of holiness called Lambeau Field. I wasn’t the only hooky player today.

There had to be over ten thousand other idiots up there with me, listening to long boring speeches by bland looking white people about revenue sources and bottom line financials, just so they could sit in the sun and stare at that larger than life tundra that wasn’t frozen.

Far from it, it was picture perfect. It looked odd without any lines on it, and we all sat in the hot sun listening to Ted Thompson and the rest of the crew ramble on about how NFL perfection was in front of us and how we were supposed to just sit back and let them do a job they were hired to do. It was fun for a while, but then it got old. It was way too long.

The last few speakers reminded me of sitting through a boring church service, hoping it would end by any means necessary including plagues, pestilence or gunfire. Finally, it did and we took an enjoyable lap through the Packer Hall of Fame, one of the best anywhere.

Afterwards, we had a delicious lunch at a local icon joint right next to the stadium I had never been to called Kroll’s. Wow, what a great burger. The whole experience was totally Wisconsin, right up to the deep fried cheese curds with TWO kinds of cheeses. Delicious.

I know I should have stayed home and got work done, but I’m glad I went. Shelley was very kind to invite me, and she and her family are just fantastic people. Her dad and aunt came too, and there wasn’t any of that bubbling dysfunction that would have come with a trip with my family. It’s hard to believe when things go right. I’ve never been used to that.

This day was absolutely perfect. I slept all the way up and back and snored horribly. I’m sorry for that and I told them, but they really didn’t seem to mind. They’re friendly people as were the thousands of others who showed up today. That alone made it worth the trip.

Bitching On Booking

July 29, 2010

Wednesday July 28th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I’m finally starting to take action on making Wednesday my set day for tending to all of my booking duties each week. I need to completely revamp any and all booking practices or tactics I may have used in the past, which have been painfully piss poor in hindsight.

It’s always been a chore to deal with bookings and I admit it. I’ve never been good at it because I’ve never enjoyed the whole booking game, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change my outlook. Like it or not, it’s something I have to improve so why not learn to enjoy it?

If I don’t do it, I don’t eat. If I hire someone else, it’ll cost a ton. The smart thing by far is for me to organize myself to the point of only having to answer calls for bookings, but at a much higher rate than I get now. I used to be able to sit back and wait for gigs to find me. I still get calls, but it’s a lot tougher for everyone these days. I need to be on top of it.

There are countless agencies around the country who book entertainment of all kinds. In my experience I’ve only been booked a handful of times from any of these places, and it’s usually been a pain in the ass. The agency takes a huge cut and usually rapes the buyer by charging too much for the show as a whole. I’m all for profits, but rape is another story.

I just want to be fair with people. I want to work within their budget and give them my absolute best performance for whatever price is agreed on. I also want to be considered on as many gigs as possible but there’s no way I can find them all on my own. I need a push.

Technically, that push should come from agencies. I’m in with a few, like Marc Schultz and Zanies in Chicago, but they don’t get nearly enough work to make a living. Once in a while I’ll get a private party from them and it will be ok, but I’m going to need a lot more.

I explored a few possibilities today of websites who list comedians and was surprised at the amount of absolute garbage that was on most of them. I’ve always noticed how rotten acts seem to be better at promoting themselves, probably because they have to. I still hate to see these wank poles get any work at all though, as all they do is pollute the gene pool.

Talentless Hack ‘A’ spends $5000 he got from a trust fund getting top of the line promo  pictures, website, lame video clips and whatever else he can buy and gets listed on a lot of sites. Since he’s not busy working there’s a lot of time to submit, and once in a while he’s bound to hit the jackpot on some private gig that has a budget way higher than he merits.

He goes in and tanks it, permanently scorching that buyer to ever having comedy again. I’ve seen it happen over and over, but what can I do to combat it? I think I should at least be listed side by side with these apes so I can get a shot at some of those private shows.

I can do the job in most situations better than anyone else because I’ve paid my dues for a lifetime – something most hack bastards would never consider doing. They want to slide in and steal the high paying gigs when they know they don’t deserve them. That kills me.

Still, it happens all the time. I looked up and down the ‘rosters’ of some of these listing websites and wanted to puke straight up in the air. One no talent bum after another had an outrageous price tag for private shows, even though I know they’d all work for whatever a venue would pay them. Most of these goofs couldn’t make it in clubs. Why? They stink.

Sorry, not trying to pull rank but it’s true. I see excellent comedians get paid a whole lot less than they’re worth because they’re busy trying to make an honest living. They have to take what’s offered because they have bills to pay, myself included. Many of the wannabe list have separate incomes and don’t need the money. They can afford to play this game.

‘Christian’ comedy is the one that really pisses me off. They’re the worst. Most of those acts are horrific, but they’re “doing it for the Lord”. Gag. I know of one mook I helped get started who has a Christian radio show in Rockford, IL. He bent my ear every which way but loose to the point of being a pain in the ass, without so much as a half ass thank you.

Then, he got some over his skis big paying gigs, but didn’t put me on any of them as he told me I’m “not a believer, so why would I book you?” He was never funny, but I tried to be nice anyway. Then he pulled that stunt and wonders why I won’t talk to him anymore.

I saw his mug all over a couple of those sites trying to get big bank for his futile attempt at occupying a comedy stage. He couldn’t buy a ticket to a real club, but that’s who I have to compete with apparently. In theory, I can blow every one of these ducks out of the lake.

In reality, I don’t know if I want to pay to get listed on all of those sites. Not all of them have fees, but many do. If there’s no guarantee I’ll get work, I can’t see myself spending a dime of hard earned money to list myself. But how will I know if I get booked unless I get listed? This is a dilemma for sure, but not one I want to deal with now. Other things first.

Unlike the majority of pinheads I see listed on these obscure agency sites, I can kick ass in clubs and be a top level headliner. That’s where I need to focus my energy for now. I’m able to work most good clubs in the country, I’m just not in with a lot of them for reasons that aren’t really excusable. There’s no reason I can’t approach them and get myself hired.

I’m still not consistent with reaching out to those clubs I am in with. I need to keep up a consistent dialogue with any and every place that books comedy that I want to work. It’s a numbers game everywhere, but I do have a lot to offer a lot of venues. I’m experienced as a solid headliner, and most places haven’t had me back in a while so I’ll be ‘fresh meat’.

Still another aspect is getting this ‘Schilitz Happened!’ show going in Wisconsin. It will take even more ingenuity to find my own venues for it, but I plan on going that exact way. Nobody will tell me what to do or how to do it, and any profits I can make will be earned.

I’m glad I took some time to at least examine this situation, even though it put me in an irritable mood. Searching those sites let me know there’s a whole world out there with no clue of who I am. That’s good. It’s a chance for me to develop a whole new group of fans.

Can’t Do Everything

July 28, 2010

Tuesday July 27th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

The hardest part of being creative is having to kill a pet project. It’s torture. Pure pain. It usually boils down to a matter of not having enough time to devote to make the idea work properly. No matter how well one balances a time schedule, certain things just don’t fit.

I’m having that problem with The Mothership Connection radio show right now. I don’t have the time to forge ahead to whatever next level there is because I’m too busy with my other projects that at least have a chance to return a profit. The show is at a crossroads.

I don’t regret doing the show for a minute. It’s been fun and informative and I know we do have a following, even though I don’t know exactly how many or where they might be located. Cyberspace is a big place, and we have new people tuning in to us all the time.

People in Kenosha seem to enjoy it too. We get calls every week, and whenever I walk into the station during the day, someone always comes up and says how much they enjoy the show. I know they’re telling the truth because they quote lines I said back to me. I can feel there’s an audience for the show, but now I need to make a buck with it or shut down.

Those are pretty much my choices. I talked with John Perry about it and told him where my situation stands. If I get booked by Carnival for cruise ship work I’m going to have to take it, at least for a while. That would probably ruin our schedule for live shows, but we still might not be dead yet. I need to find a way to be able to record shows for future use.

There’s a station in Waukegan, IL that’s owned by the same company and they said we may be able to record some stuff over there like interviews with people who can’t be with us live, stuff like that. I’d need to improve my engineering skills and/or hire somebody.

I always feel skittish about asking for favors, but now it’s become a necessity. I have to have certain things done or I can’t do the show anymore. I just can’t. It’s too much time I could be doing something else productive and I’m to the point of quitting and moving on.

If I would keep doing it, there needs to be some changes made in the format, crew and a few other things to make it exactly where I like it. Then more importantly, I have to make it ready for a syndication deal, or at least a chance to get paid from where we’re doing it.

That’s my challenge – make this project profitable, or park The Mothership in cornfield. I would hate to see it die completely, just like Jerry’s Kidders. There’s been a lot of work put into both, but a lot of fun had also. They’re like children, and it’s hard to see children die. But I’m afraid if I can’t make a buck with it, I’ll have to abandon it at least for now.

There really is a lot going on right now. I thought I had a plan, but again I feel it drifting away and out of control. I have a constant need to regroup, reorganize and refocus on the projects I’m working on to make sure I don’t let one take all of them off course. This will be a test of my organizing skills. Either I’ll find a way to make it work or it will be done.

Karma Comedians

July 28, 2010

Monday July 26th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

The odds are stacked against me that I’ll ever have any real power in the show business stratosphere, but for one night at Zanies in Chicago I was in charge and it felt great. Bert Haas is the booker and he schedules the Rising Star Showcase shows on Monday nights so he can watch people of all experience levels try to audition for paid work at Zanies.

I’m the regular host of those shows, and it’s become a solid tradition in a just a couple of years. Aspiring newbies show up and attempt to knock the socks off of Bert, who’s not an easy sock knocker offer. He’s been there twenty-five years and has seen and booked all from Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld on down. Obscure feature acts face a difficult challenge.

Bert actually tries to help these people get booked by giving a pre show speech each and every week outlining what he’d be looking for in an act for possible bookings at Zanies. It isn’t so much knockout funny as it is the ability to work ‘TV clean’ and be a good host, as that’s where most of the available work would be at this level. The other spots are taken.

Comedy is a numbers game, but everyone wants to bypass that part of it. I know myself I’m replaceable at every single club I work, including Zanies. They wouldn’t miss me in a hundred years, so it keeps a person humble – or at least it should. I know I’m lucky to get a booking anywhere, and so is anyone else. It becomes a matter of a lot more than funny.

Part of it is familiarity. If someone else feels comfortable handing off power, it happens on occasion. Bert Haas asked me a few months ago if I’d handle the Monday night shows so he wouldn’t have to sit and watch newbie after newbie ignore his every point and make life miserable for everyone. He gave me one as a trial and it worked out extremely well.

Tonight was another one. The show was billed as ‘Friends of Dobie Maxwell’ and I had the responsibility of filling a 90 minute show with whomever I felt like. Word got out fast and I had an overwhelming number of people contact me but I decided to make a point to offer slots to only quality people and create a special show that radiated positive energy.

Everyone on the show wasn’t necessarily the top talent level in town but they all love to be on stage and don’t always get the top of mind awareness from bookers in town. I know how it is to fight for stage time, and a chance at Zanies in Chicago is a big deal for locals. Bert is actually very good about giving chances, but even then it boils down to numbers.

I really looked over the lineup and tried not only to make it a show full of quality people but also diverse and unique acts. It wasn’t just a bunch of twenty something white guys in a row like most open mikes in America. I thought it out and put together an eclectic mix.

All together, this was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done. It won’t mean anything in the annals of comedy, but let it be noted that at least one night nice guys didn’t have to finish last. I tried my best to use whatever power I did have to help some people I thought really deserved it. The vibe in the room was electric. There were no jerks there to ruin it.

Wall In The Family

July 27, 2010

Sunday July 25th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

It’s shaping up as if good old Milwaukee is set to once again play a role in my life in the next few months so I might as well get used to it. I played German Fest yesterday and I’ve got more bookings in August, September and October as I segue into a more focused plan of establishing the “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst” show.

The good part about going back there now is it’s just another town. Most of the people I had issues with are now dead or so far out of my life they’re dead to me. As I look back at it now, I have a hard time seeing what any of it proved or why it all happened, but it did.

Most of my family were just dysfunctional people. They came from an energy source I don’t want to go anywhere near, but I had to be around it anyway. Then I was old enough to make my own choices, but by then a lot of their dysfunction splattered up and affected my life too. I’m not saying I’m not nuts, but I’m not like them either. My life proves that.

The results of my life’s energy output are about as opposite from my family as opposite can get. I took a completely different path from all of them, and now all these years later I can’t even see where they are on the path of life. We’ve drifted so far apart we’ve split up as a family, and whatever bond was there is now totally gone. Personally, I don’t miss it.

I miss the companionship and encouragement a family is supposed to bring, but I’m not at all sorry to be away from all that “he said, she said” BS. I don’t need that, and I’m sure not interested in anyone telling me what to do or having to worry if I have approval to do whatever it is I’m doing. My life is my life and the rest of them can kiss my liberated ass.

It’s a shame when family doesn’t work out, but I know I’m not the only one. Mine was on a bigger scale though, that’s for sure. Other than my cousin Brett, I’m not really close to any of them, and at this point I don’t think that will ever change. My siblings live in an entirely different world that has nothing to do with me, and they like it there. Whatever.

I don’t even know if my own mother is living or dead, and I don’t know very many who can say that, or would want to. I really don’t either, but all these years later the damage is done and the healing over has taken place. If my mother came around tomorrow, I’d have absolutely nothing to say to her. I’m not looking for reconciliation or want to ’catch up’.

The reason I’m writing about this is because most other people won’t. I hope most who read my little daily poop output quota have no idea what I’m talking about and just move on, hoping tomorrow’s post may be interesting. But then there are those who totally get it. These are the true dented cans, and the ones I unfortunately can relate to. We need a hug.

That’s what I always thought comedic success would do – make up for all the dents my family life’s can had. Now I know that’s never going to happen, but I’m fine with it. I just want to live out my days in peace, and that peace is growing in my head. My painful past in Milwaukee is just that – past. Now I can go up there and focus on doing good shows.

Two Cities, Two Gigs, Too Fun

July 26, 2010

Saturday July 24th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL

I spent the longest night I’ve spent in a while worrying about my cell phone. I even had a couple of dreams about it, and I didn’t sleep well at all. That thing is very important and it’s not even an iphone or blackberry. It’s just a regular old phone that I use for keeping in contact with bookers, friends and the outside world. I realize how important it‘s become.

I popped right out of bed earlier than usual so I could get showered, dressed and out the door to start back tracking to the places I visited yesterday where I may have left it. I went to a few places before finally hitting pay dirt at a car stereo joint of all places. The speaker system on my car has been acting up so I stopped to see if they could figure out the glitch.

My phone was on the front seat and I remember grabbing it when they took the car in to look at it, and I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and throw out an empty bottle of water. The problem only required a jiggle of a wire and they were done with it way before I thought they’d be, so it must have taken me by surprise so much I didn’t take my phone.

Whatever the reason, I was overjoyed to see the woman behind the counter reach into a drawer and pull out my phone. She didn’t ask for any ID or anything because she saw the look of sheer joy I had when she showed it to me. I thanked her about ten times, and left.

I had to be at German Fest in Milwaukee by 12:30 to take another shot at becoming the very first comedian they ever booked. The weather was much better this time and we had an audience of maybe 60 or 70, which looked tiny in that size venue. Everything was hard about that situation, but I stood there and filled my time and did the very best job I could.

Comedy is a very delicate art form. There needs to be attention paid and it’s difficult for that to happen unless circumstances are just right. There should be a quality sound system and adequate stage lighting and a room small enough to capture the laughs of an audience which in turn creates a roll. Variations of that formula usually come with consequences.

The important thing at German Fest wasn’t the show, at least not this time. Getting in to do it was the important thing. I got a nice on air plug from WTMJ Radio who had a booth on the grounds, and that adds credibility locally. None of the listeners saw a small crowd.

Plus, my grade school friend Robert Deglau couldn’t have been any nicer to recommend me to the rest of the board of directors. The whole crew from them to the people I worked with at the Air Tran entertainment stage were all sweethearts to deal with. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and it’s a building block for future appearances. One step at a time here.

After the German Fest show I drove down to Chicago to be on WGN radio for a Jerry’s Kidders segment that came together at the last minute. Ken Sevara couldn’t do it on such short notice, so it was just Tim Slagle and myself. We had a very good show and that has a way of making the whole day feel good. It’s hectic but also exciting because it’s part of being an entertainer. Two cities, two gigs, too fun. And I found my phone. I’m doing ok.

Keys, Wallet, Phone

July 24, 2010

Friday July 23rd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Keys, wallet, phone. Keys, wallet, phone. Keys, wallet, phone. It’s a constant mantra of mine, to the point of obsession. Those are three things that are easiest to lose and hardest to replace. I’m constantly checking them all and grabbing my pockets like I’ve got herpes, crabs and jock itch all rolled into one. Losing any one of those three is a gigantic hassle.

So what did I do today? Lost my phone. Ugh. SO frustrating, especially since I check it so often. I’ve lost every one of the ‘big three’ in my life, unfortunately more than once to add even more frustration to the mix. Alas, sometimes it still happens – and this is one.

I was really having a fine day up until then. I was making good decisions, deciding how to get my life more in balance. I spent some time with my t-shirt printer in Antioch, IL as we tried to carve out a long term battle plan for the Uranus Factory Outlet business. He’s been in business over twenty years and has a lot of valuable experience I can learn from.

He needs jokes to print on his merchandise, and I can help him there. He’s a very good person, and I feel a great synergy with him because he’s all about win/win just as I like to be. We met for a couple of hours at his shop, and designed a new version of my infamous ‘T-E-I-A-M’ t-shirt. There IS an ‘I’ in team. We revamped it totally and I think it’s great.

Now it’s up to others to agree enough to pull their wallet out and spend some money on it. We picked a good quality shirt, and are going with simple colors of black ink on a grey shirt. I ordered 24 shirts, most in L or XL. If they don’t sell, I’m not going to go bankrupt.

I will go bankrupt at least socially if I don’t find that damn phone. I stopped to run a ton of errands today and it could be almost anywhere. I wasn’t thinking about calling people, I was trying to get my errands done while I had a day off. I haven’t a clue as to where it is.

I checked my car a dozen times. Sometimes it sticks in between a seat or under a seat or one time it was in the compartment in the passenger side door. I couldn’t find it for a few days, and just when I was at my wit’s end, I was looking for something else and found it.

Now I have to get up early tomorrow and backtrack to see where I may have left it. That will be an especially sharp pain in the lederhosen because I have to be back up at German Fest in Milwaukee for a noon show. Hopefully, that situation has stabilized itself a little.

This is the kind of hassle I really can’t stand, but what can I do? I watch myself as close as I can, and it still happens once in a while. I have a spare car key in my wallet, which is a smart thing, but other than that, I’m screwed. I don’t have an extra wallet or cell phone, so when I blow it, I blow it. At least the last time I lost it I knew where I left it. Not now.

Still, this will pass. I’ve done it before and the worst case scenario will be I’ll pop for a new phone. I’m sure all my numbers will be lost, and that’s another thing I should guard a lot better. Those numbers aren’t backed up, and there’s no reason for it. I’m such an idiot.

The Luck Of The Germans

July 23, 2010

Thursday July 22nd, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

One year ago today, I made my national television debut on “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” on CBS. Tonight I made my featured festival debut in my hometown of Milwaukee at German Fest in front of three people, and then it rained so hard the festival closed and the grounds were evacuated. This was a downpour of epic biblical proportions.

All I could do to retaliate was laugh, and the crescendo came when the ominous tornado sirens started going off. At least I had the only covered stage at the festival, and it came in quite handy tonight. Here I stood in my home town in front of an empty seating area made for at least a couple thousand people, in the rain, talking over a tornado siren to just three.

“Hello, Craig? Yeah, it’s Dobie. Dobie MAXWELL. Mr. Lucky, you know. Yeah, I did your show exactly one year ago today and I was wondering…uh, do you think there might be any chance of getting back on soon? I’ve got no shortage of great stories to tell you.”

Actually, I found Craig Ferguson to be a genuinely nice person. I think he’s very funny, and every interview I’ve heard or read makes him come off like a down to earth good guy in every way. That’s fine for him, now I need to get some of that for me too. A good start would be to get an actual interview somewhere. I haven’t had one of those in a long time.

I’m not looking for minute details to nitpick about, or bellyache about my poor, woe is me life. Not at all. Actually, things are going pretty well right now. This last year has not been bad at all. I’ve worked constantly, doing interesting things I really enjoy. I’ve gotten many accolades for not only my appearance on The Late Late Show, but others as well.

I had a nice ‘mini run’ by doing Byron Allen’s “Comics.TV” show after the producer of it saw me on The Late Late Show. Then I got to do “The Daily Buzz” with my old buddy Mitch English who I knew from Salt Lake City. All in all, this has been a land mark year. I think it’s important to stress when good things happen, not just complain about the bad.

I just wish it would have happened fifteen or twenty years ago so I could build on it the right way. It was a nice start for sure, but unless I find a way to keep it growing, this may well be all I’ll ever do in the big scheme of life. When the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1997, their GM Ron Wolf called it ’a fart in the wind’, as that’s the only title they won.

Everyone picked them to do much greater things and have a dynasty but the one trophy is all they could manage. They lost the next year’s Super Bowl and that was it. They still had good teams for a while, but eventually it all played out and then to make it all uglier, Brett Favre had to turn heel and start up his whiny little diva act. And that’s where it sits.

Was my one little five minute appearance on national TV all I’m ever going to do? I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity, but I know I’ve got a lot more in me than that – or at least I think I do. I’m sure those Green Bay Packers including Brett Favre thought they had more in them too, but it didn’t happen. Disappointment has a way of dousing fires.

That fact hit me hard today as I stood on that big stage staring at the empty seating area of a festival that’s never had a comedian before. I’m not angry at anyone, in fact quite the contrary. My grade school classmate Robert Deglau went out of his way to suggest me to the board of directors of German Fest, and everyone there couldn’t have been any nicer.

I’m very grateful for all that, and Robert felt horrible there weren’t people at the stage at the time I was supposed to go on. He introduced me, and had to go take care of other stuff since he’s in a position of power at the festival. No worries from my end, and that’s never been the issue. The problem is me. I should be working more on getting back on the tube.

Have I sent out any inquiries? NO. Have I put together a promo package to send out to a list of the top agents in Hollywood? Double no. Well, who do I have to blame but myself for all of that? Nobody else but me. I can’t expect things to just fall into place by accident without planning. I’M the one who controls it, and for whatever reason I can’t get it done.

I guess I could beat myself up forever about it, or just relax and take a step back to see a bigger picture view. Where am I now? Where am I headed? Where do I want to go? That will be what makes the dreams come true, not pissing and moaning about what all failed.

I feel bad for German Fest, as it rained so hard they lost the entire day’s revenue. I have another scheduled appearance on Saturday at noon, but that’s not going to be any kind of career maker either. I’ll go there and have fun with whomever shows up, but what I really need to be doing is keep building on that foundation of the TV appearance. I can do more.

The cruise ship opportunity was fun too, but that’s not the big time either unfortunately. It’s not bad, and I hope I get more, but the real essence of what I want to do is create good solid original standup comedy, and present it to an appreciative audience who pays for it.

That sentence felt good to write, because it’s probably the first time I shaped it into real words, at least recently. I’m getting in there to the core, and that’s where the good stuff is. If I really want to be a success, I’ll get in there and bring my very best up to the surface so I can use up whatever talent and ability there is in there. I don’t want to leave any unused.

George Clinton is a perfect example of someone like that. I think I’m such a huge fan of his because his body of work is amazing. He kept cranking out albums under record deals for the groups Parliament, Funkadelic and a lot more. When that ran out, he kept the flow going under his own name. And he kept touring and still does even now. That’s a career.

I’m sure George has regrets and has made mistakes, but he didn’t quit. He’s a legend in the business, and those who know him give him his due. Today is also his birthday and he is still an inspiration to me to this day. He’s the creative lightning rod for a crew of talent.

I’m not going to let one rain storm stop me from building what I want. I want to have an opportunity to get back on TV and share my comedy with as many people as I can. I have a limited time in my prime, and I’m still in it – for now. Time to get serious about funny.

Travels Unravel

July 23, 2010

Wednesday July 21st, 2010 – Grand Cayman/Miami, FL/Chicago, IL

Long day today, mostly travel. I had to report to where I checked in on the ship at 11am and get my paperwork filled out before being taken to the airport in Grand Cayman with a van load of other entertainers including Jim Brick, a pair of jugglers and Christopher Alan Graves. He’s the Sinatra/Sammy Davis Jr. tribute singer we saw perform live last night.

What a life he has. He has that big production show running on two different ships, and he alternates doing it once each week. He flies in the night before, does the show and flies out the next morning. He lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and flies to wherever the particular ship is that might have his show, which he told me has been running for ten solid years now.

That seems like a lot of flying, but he didn’t seem to mind. He’s got two separate sets of costumes he keeps on each ship and works with two separate ten piece bands. None of the stress I have as a pissy little standup can come close to what he must go through but that’s part of the deal. He accepts it and deals with it. I totally respect the guy. He’s a true pro.

Jim Brick was also a consummate professional the whole trip. He really was nice about showing me around and giving me tips, and I know management likes him and I was told he said some very nice things about me to a few of the higher ups already. I help as many people as I can, so when it comes back I’m very flattered and grateful. Jim’s been super.

There were no mean people on this whole trip at all to speak of. Not one. No supervisor head case types, no boozed up hecklers babbling incoherently, nothing like that. I know if I did enough of these that kind of stuff would pop up, but ever so rarely. This isn’t a club.

Jim and I were talking about that in the Grand Cayman airport, which really isn’t grand at all. It looks like a mini beat up version of the Grand Forks airport, but what do I know? I do know I got a snack of potato chips and a Pepsi and it cost me $5.70 American. Ouch.

I know, I had a Pepsi, but I didn’t have one all week on the ship and in fact I thought my diet was very good despite the constant temptation. I ate a lot of salads, fruits, vegetables, and grain bread while staying away from massive amounts of sweets or red meat. I had an occasional naughty nosh but by far not out of control. Plus, I did walk every day as well.

What a hassle it was to get off the ship though. They put us all on a tiny ferry boat kind of thing and that took us to the main Grand Cayman Island so we could give our passports to some government woman who had an American accent suspiciously. She clogged up a time toilet for all of us as we had to wait and get our paperwork as a group before leaving.

The good thing is, that Latino babe from the ship came with us to help make sure it was all done correctly. She smelled like a cross between coconut cream pie and sexy perfume and I wanted to dive on her in the boat, but that might have gotten me some prison time in Grand Cayman and that would have pissed everyone else off because we were all in a big rush to make our plane at the airport. She did ask when I was coming back, so that’s nice.

It probably would have been easier had I just stayed. By the time we cleared everything with customs and passports, we had to hurry to get to the airport. We were only in Grand Cayman for about an hour, but they still made us go through all that anyway. Go figure.

The flight to Miami was only about an hour too – but then they made us go through it all AGAIN. I was pretty frustrated but I’ve learned not to cop an attitude with anyone who is a border patrol agent for any country. I shut my mouth, gave up my documents and waited along with everyone else. It was totally stupid to do it once much less twice, but we did.

The flight from Miami to Chicago was a total nightmare. First, the plane was late about an hour because of a mechanical delay. There was no air conditioning as we waited and it was like a sauna until they fixed whatever needed fixing. There were a pair of babies with the lung capacity and stamina of Pavarotti who were hitting solos left and right and also a yelping dog that everyone wanted to toss off the back of the plane. We were all on edge.

I had a window seat this time and in the middle seat was a very attractive woman with a stuck up snooty attitude I really wasn’t into after hearing two screaming waterheads and a pissed off pooch for a solid hour. She was dressed business sexy though, and looked very good all dolled up in her corporate monkey suit. She had a computer, blackberry and ipod and wouldn’t stop fidgeting with any of them to the point of being extremely annoying.

At first I tried flirting a little because she was good looking, but she made it very clear I was not on her radar, and her sour attitude erased any surface sex appeal there might have been so I took it upon myself to try to annoy her as much as she annoyed me. I know how badly I snore, so I happily nodded off knowing I’d buzz saw her until her eyelids rattled.

I noticed she had her ipod in when I woke up, so I made it a point to go to the bathroom three times just to piss her off. She tried to go to sleep after that and I took out my laptop and started pecking on my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ press release. I know my typing kept her awake, and there was something selfishly satisfying about needling such an uppity bitch.

Here I just spent a week on a cruise ship with HUNDREDS of hot women of all colors, races, social status and income levels, and here’s one with a perpetual period on a packed plane that fate had to put next to me, not to mention the bellowing babies and loud pooch. Sorry, not today. I just wasn’t up for it, and it actually gave me something to fill my time.

The plane landed and I knew she wanted to get away from me as quickly as possible but she couldn’t pry her bag out of the top compartment so I helped her with a smile in front of the other passengers, which really pissed her off. She grabbed her bag without saying a word and I blew her a kiss in front of everyone and said “You’re welcome, sweetie pie!”

A few of the people on the plane laughed, and that’s good enough for me. Maybe she’d had a bad day, blah blah blah. The older I get, the more I realize there’s really nothing that serious anymore. I’d rather be ugly and comfortable in my own skin than a hottie with her piss poor demeanor. This was a long week, and travel makes it longer. I earned my pay.