Archive for October, 2010

Terror In A Taxi

October 21, 2010

Tuesday October 19th, 2010 – Nassau, Bahamas/Charlotte, NC/Chicago, IL

These ‘off’ days between the cruise ship gigs are often a lot harder than the actual work days. Getting somewhere is WORK, and it’s especially challenging when the day starts in a foreign country I’ve never been in with no assistance or advice from anyone in charge to point me in the right direction. It can be intimidating, but all I can do is use my logic.

My itinerary said I was to disembark the ship at noon today. Usually that involves going to the ship’s main office where I check in and get my passport back and any paperwork or minutia done that I may need to complete. After that, it’s usually a group excursion to the airport where the fare gets split several ways and it’s not a financial burden to one person.

Not so today. I went to the office at 11:50 and it was locked. I didn’t see anyone waiting like I usually do, so a tinge of panic did start to reveal itself. I tracked down a security guy who spoke about six words of English, none of which I could identify. He called the desk and I eventually got my passport a few minutes later but not reimbursed for my expenses.

The lady in charge gave me my passport and then quickly re-shut the door. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her or ask how I was supposed to get a cab, so I left the ship without a sniff of a hint of a clue where the airport was or how I was going to get myself there for my flight at 2:40. I had a little over two hours to solve that problem and $30 cash to do it.

Getting off my ship I noticed three other cruise ships docked all in a row with hundreds if not thousands of passengers out wandering around, chaotically looking for their friends, relatives or anyone else to explain the reason why everything was unorganized as it was.

I’d never been to Nassau before, but it looked an awful lot like the other ports I’ve been to so far. I eventually found where the cabs were, and there were a lot more than I had any time to count. They were parked every which way and I was getting shouted at by a bunch of semi toothless hucksters, all vying for my attention. Luckily, a price list was posted.

Fare to the airport from downtown Nassau was $27. That would eat my entire budget of $30 but at least I happened to have enough with me. I didn’t see any ATMs close by, and the one on the ship has a $6 transaction fee. Am I a cheapskate about paying that? YES.

The person who said he’d take me actually walked me about a block and transferred my business to another cabbie who looked like he played bongo drums for a reggae band. My suspicions rose, but what could I do? I had to get to the airport so I had to trust this guy to get me there without carving me up for parts on the black market. I followed reluctantly.

We walked another block in the heat to a Dodge minivan that was in such cruddy shape it made ME flinch, and that takes a lot after all the rattletraps I’ve owned in my life. This was a junker, complete with bald tires with no hubcaps, dents in the fender and of course NO air conditioning whatsoever. The seat was carved up and only one bolt held it in. The driver didn’t help me with my bag like they usually do, and I got in and swallowed hard.

Here’s me – a lily white cheese head from Milwaukee in downtown Nassau, Bahamas in a broken down jalopy cab at the mercy of a guy with dreadlocks who looks like the star of last week’s episode of America’s Most Wanted. Not only that, I only had $30 to my name and should he decide that wasn’t enough, he could have had me wacked without fanfare.

Two blocks into our trip, he flagged down a guy who was driving an SUV with Oakland Raiders logos all over it of all things. Even though I’m not a native, I was able to surmise correctly it wasn’t an official Bahamas government welcome vehicle and started to panic.

It was even worse when he stopped the cab in the middle of the busy street and went to visit with the driver of the SUV, who I noticed not only also had dreadlocks, but a full set of gold colored teeth across the front of his mouth which would have made it easy to pick him out of a police lineup – which I was beginning to think I may have to do eventually.

I’m not going to lie, I was scared to death for about five minutes as the two exchanged a wildly animated dialogue that eventually involved onlookers, and I knew it wasn’t a bible study debate. These guys were hard core, and all I could do was bake in my own sweat.

He did come back eventually, but didn’t offer any apologies nor did I ask for one. I shut my mouth and sat quietly as we wound our way through the streets of Nassau. It was even scarier than it should have been because they drive European style on the left side of their roads, and it’s not at all what I’m used to. All that did was make me feel more uneasy as I wondered if I’d ever get to the airport or make it back to the USA alive. I wasn‘t certain.

Then the guy started a conversation and told me he’d been arrested for selling one of his passengers drugs, and it turned out to be a drug enforcement officer. He has a trial coming up in February and it’s going to cost him $1500 he doesn’t have. I tried to make a joke to cut the tension, but he wasn’t in a very laughing mood as he continued on with his story.

The one bolt holding my seat on was loose, and every time he gunned it through one of the zig zag streets of Nassau, the seat would shift and make a loud clunking sound that he didn’t seem to notice, even after about 500 times. I expected the seat to snap off and send me flying out the window onto the street, but mercifully after 40 minutes it didn’t happen.

I was never so glad to see an airport in my life. I have to get a receipt to get reimbursed for my expenses, and the look on his face when I asked for one made me think he’d snap and carve me up for fish bait. He got a pad out and had no idea what to write, so I said I’d fill it out later. I tried to be polite and thank him, but he was gone before the door closed.

I won’t soon forget that cab ride, and there’s nobody else to share this memory. Each of my other experiences leaving a ship in a foreign country involved other performers and at least partially friendly cab drivers. This guy was a criminal, and it was just the two of us. I had to fly to Charlotte before catching my connecting flight to O’Hare and I’ve never ever been so glad to get caught in Chicago traffic as I was tonight. I never dreamed of anything like this being part of my work day when I started out in comedy. Surprises keep coming.

First Week Finished

October 19, 2010

Monday October 18th, 2010 – Somewhere Else At Sea

I was scheduled for and successfully performed three shows tonight, and if I were asked to impartially evaluate all of them I’d say they were ‘good enough‘. After that, people can have whatever opinion they want. Some probably liked it more than others, but that’s just how it is with any product. As long as the seller doesn’t falsely advertise, it‘s game on.

If a restaurant serves a particular dish, there are no guarantees it will be anything but the particular version of that dish they see fit to serve. Their version of meatloaf may have all kinds of different ingredients than the one I picture when I order it, but if I decide to order it it’s at my own risk. I can ask what’s in it, or I can roll the dice and see what they bring.

Comedy shows are like that in many ways, especially on the ships. People get what they get, and that’s it. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t. Very few actually take the time to fill out a written complaint, but it does happen. I have no idea what my ratings are with the passengers so far, but I’m still working so I must have done something correctly.

The bottom line is, at the end of all the shows I stood on stage for as long as I was hired to, and at least some of the people enjoyed it enough to laugh out loud. I didn’t embarrass myself, even though in my mind I would have liked to have had a much louder response.

That’s ok. It’s good to want to do well. I’ve always wanted people to walk out from my show with sore cheeks from laughing so hard. Many times I’ve achieved exactly that, but not so much on the ships just yet. This continues to be a puzzle I’ll have to work on, and I intend to keep doing that until I give what I think are killer shows. My standards are high.

This is an entirely different vibe than the one I had with the “Schlitz Happened!” shows the last couple of weeks. That one I felt completely in control, as I knew the people I was trying to entertain. They’re Milwaukeeans and I’m one of them. These people aren’t from there, and probably never tasted a bratwurst in their lives. These are mostly Louisianans.

New Orleans and Louisiana have a unique culture much like Milwaukee and Wisconsin do. I see a lot of people on this ship wearing LSU and Saints hats and T-shirts just like I’d see people at home wearing Badger and Packer stuff. They’re loyal to their local culture.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but if I’m not in that inner circle it can be tough to get through and really earn their trust to make them laugh. I feel the exact opposite when I’m in Wisconsin, as I can do those shows in my sleep. That culture is ingrained inside of me. I have a lot more weapons I can pull out up there. Here, I have to rely on my experience.

This was my first time on this ship and I get to come right back and do it all over again next week. Tomorrow I fly back from Nassau, Bahamas but next week the route changes and I fly back from Belize. I’ll get another chance to see if I can make Louisianans laugh.

The most important thing is that I become known as a laid back guy who’s easy to work with. That’s the best way to get asked back. Funny has never been the top requirement.

Travel Troubles

October 18, 2010

Saturday October 16th, 2010 – New Orleans, LA

Boy, talk about your rough starts to a day. I only managed to get about an hour of sleep because I was up late trying to get organized for my trip. I thought I’d be able to get some sleep on the plane, so I pulled an almost all nighter getting work done during quiet time.

Jim McHugh was kind enough to offer to take me to O’Hare airport since he lives close. In turn, he or his wife can have an extra car when I’m gone. That’s a total win/win and we planned on meeting at Jim’s house at 5:45am. I would have been on time until I suddenly remembered I’d forgotten my passport and turned around to go get it. I totally need that.

I’d taken it out of my computer bag when I went to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, as I didn’t want to risk losing it. It’s a necessity on cruise ship gigs and to be protected like a newborn baby. No passport, no paycheck. No kidding. I’m very thankful I remembered it.

That would have been a major hassle I really didn’t need. I made it to Jim’s house about 6:10, plenty of time to get to the airport for my 8:25 flight. Normally, Jim is up waiting to go. That guy could have spent time in the military as he’s always punctual to the minute.

Today I noticed his house was totally dark. I figured he must have overslept so I tried to avoid waking his family up by sending him a text message. Then another. Then I tried to call his cell phone. Nothing. I didn’t see his car outside, but sometimes he parks it in the garage. I didn’t want to bother his family, but I also needed to get to the airport on time.

I left a message on his cell phone telling him I’d just drive myself and use the long term parking lot. It’s $15 a day but that’s life. I’m gone for four days so that’s $60 in the shorts but it is tax deductible so I’ll just eat it and shut up. Now I was dealing with a time issue.

I started heading toward the airport from his house, only to realize I wasn’t exactly sure of the correct route to get there. The Kennedy Expressway was jammed so I tried to wind my way through the suburbs and it got pretty hairy as I felt my time window close. I was once again in high stress mode as I swerved in and out of traffic like a NASCAR driver.

I finally made it to the remote parking lot, then checked and rechecked everything over and over again. Passport – check. Work order forms – check. Itinerary – check. Computer – check. I took everything out of my car and put it in the trunk to avoid possible theft bait, and then made my way to the station where the free train was leaving for the terminals.

I kept checking my keys, wallet, phone and mentally going over the other things I had to have the whole time I was walking. My parking spot was close enough to see from where I got on the train, and when it came I looked out to see if I could see my car, and I could.

That’s when I got the sinking feeling that also made me laugh out loud. I’d been so busy trying to go over everything I’d forgotten to turn my lights off. There was my old Toyota, lit up like a Christmas tree in a full parking lot. Looks like I’ll be calling AAA next week.

None of this is the end of the world, and I’m not angry or upset about any of it. It’ll be a minor issue that gets dealt with, and life goes on. Jim overslept, and that happens. I’ll get a jump start from someone and that situation will be over. At least I did have my passport.

The thing that stands out the most about all this is – what does any of it have to do with actual comedy? NOTHING. But then again it totally does. If I can’t get to the gig, I can’t do the show. This is all part of the business nobody ever dreams of when they’re starting.

If someone told me when I started I’d be getting up way earlier than if I had a real job to travel ten times farther than most people go on vacation, I wouldn’t have had a clue what they meant. I sure get it now though, maybe a little too much. Travel is part of this game.

I can’t begin to count the trips I’ve taken that started before dawn in complete darkness, only to end up in some bumpkin infested toilet of a town where the local hoochery put on a half assed attempt at a comedy show. My pay in actual money never made up for all the hard work that went into those trips, but hopefully the experience I gained eventually will.

Long cross country excursions like this beat anybody down. They just do. Hours in a car or bus or train or plane are still hours, and they take a toll over many years. One thing that really gets lost is the thrill of it all. At first, going to new places is a total kick. The effort it takes to get there isn’t an issue. After a while though, it’s the only part that stands out.

One of the things that has really been a pain in the ass is airport security. What a waste of valuable resources that all is in my opinion. Yeah yeah, I know there are maniacs who want to hijack planes. I get that, but can’t we come up with a better system of detection?

99.999% of people just want to get to their destination. Can’t there be a frequent traveler card that says how many times a person has passed through security safely? If a salesman from Omaha has made it through security 300 times with no weapons, what’s the remote chance he’ll show up with an AK 47 in his golf bag? I have to imagine it would be small.

I’m learning the ship gig game and now have a smaller piece of luggage I carry on with me rather than check. I was chosen for ‘random’ searching today and the monkey doing it found a fresh can of shaving cream I just bought. She grabbed onto it like an Oscar award she’d just won and smugly declared to everyone “THIS will NOT be going on the plane.”

“Then how the hell am I supposed to shave?” I said loudly enough for everyone to hear. “I can’t help it if the store didn’t have smaller cans.” And I couldn’t. I got what they had, and now I won’t get to use it because some smart ass clueless loser had to play American hero. She put on a fake smile and sarcastically said “Now YOU have a nice day, huh?”

I wanted to kick her hard in her pie fed ass, and at some point I do hope someone does. Of all today‘s events, that was the one that really twisted my gonads. All the other stuff was random chance. This wasn’t. She could have let the damn thing slide. Do I look like a member of the Taliban? Most of those guys don’t even shave. Let me have my property.

Paying My Cruise Dues

October 18, 2010

Sunday October 17th, 2010 – Somewhere At Sea

I’m trying my best to figure out the dynamics of entertaining people on cruise ships. It’s a different animal altogether from clubs, which is a different animal from corporate work. All these animals eat different food, and it’s up to me to figure out what to feed each one.

Cruise ship audiences that I’ve seen so far seem to like old style very basic comedy that doesn’t make them think. They like to be talked to, and like to talk back – sometimes even when it’s not their turn. They can be rude, but I don’t think they mean it. I think they have limited to zero experience in front of live entertainment and don‘t know how to behave.

This is a real test of wits, as there are so many rules I have to abide by. The requirement of not repeating material between the early PG show and the later adult R show makes it a real challenge, especially for someone like me who likes to mix up material more than the average comic. I like to shape each show for each audience, but that’s not conducive here.

Then, to make it even harder, we have to do several minutes for the ‘Welcome Aboard’ show that happens in the big theater on the first night of the cruise. They have a teaser for the passengers of things to do on the cruise, and comedy is part of it. I wasn’t asked to do it on my last run, but I did end up doing it yesterday. It’s the option of the cruise director.

This particular week, both comedians were asked to do about five minutes. That’s not a lot of time, but it’s a tricky call. It should be strong material to get laughs and establish an idea of what people should expect if they decide to come see our show, but it also takes it out of our repertoire for the week as they’ve heard it. We’re not supposed to repeat stuff.

I did very well in my five minute teaser, and didn’t use any of my main bits other than a couple of lines to establish my stage character. They laughed hard and I really enjoyed the chance to perform on the big stage. I wasn’t able to do that on the last two ships I worked.

Tonight’s first show was very difficult, but I managed to pull it off. There was maybe a half full room, and halfway through my set karaoke started in the bar next door that only I could hear. The club manager warned me before I went up that it‘s been a problem, but it was still distracting as hell and I had to deal with that, a half full house and talking kids.

There was a family of four sitting right up front that were extremely nice people, but did not know how to sit and enjoy live comedy. They spoke out every time I hit on something they related to, as did their daughters aged 7 and 9. Then, each was taken to the bathroom by one of the parents within ten minutes of each other. It was one big constant distraction.

The second show was jam packed, but most of them were from Louisiana. They weren’t loud laughers, but they were very loud when yelling the annoying ’Who Dat’ Saints chant incessantly during the show. I was a northerner, and they let me know it. I had all I could handle to keep their attention for my thirty minutes. Some were with me, some weren’t. It doesn’t get any easier – tomorrow I have three shows. I’ll give it my best. It’s all I can do.

Back To The Boats

October 16, 2010

Friday October 15th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Here we go again, out to sea on cruise ships for a few months. Today was my last day to savor the land for a while, and that’s what I did. I rested up and tried to prepare myself for everything that goes with life at sea including lost luggage. I hope that doesn’t happen but if it does at least I’ll know how to handle it. Last time it rocked my world to the very core.

This time I’m much better prepared. I bought a smaller piece of luggage and won’t have  to take the risk of checking my bag. It’s going to be harder to squeeze everything into that small of a space, but if others do it I guess I’ll have to follow suit. I’m learning sea rules.

I’ll be flying to New Orleans and have no idea where the ship is going other than I come back via Nassau in the Bahamas. I have no clue who the other comedian is, when my time to perform is or how the audiences are on this particular ship. I’ll find out soon enough.

This is going to be a tough stretch, and I know that going in. I’ll be out during all of the holidays, and I’ve never done that before. Usually I just lay low and don’t talk to anybody because I don’t want to bring anyone else down. This year I’ll have to pretend I’m cheery, or at least come out of my shell for the shows. I‘m sure I won‘t be the only dented can.

I really intend to focus on self improvement these next few months. I have a spectacular opportunity to really lay some great groundwork for the rest of my life and I want to really lean into it and take full advantage of it. I can eat healthy at someone else’s expense, have a place to work out and lots of time to accomplish it. If I don’t get this done it’s my fault.

Last time I was learning the ropes, but even then I still managed to get some work done on several projects. This time I’ll know how to do it even better, and that will involve the making of a daily schedule and sticking to it. Just getting up whenever I do and winging it won’t due. That led to a lot of wasted time that I could have used to get a lot more done.

One thing I did do was FINALLY clear out my huge rotting pile of festering emails that have been clogging my in box for months. I’ve been meaning to get to them all, and today I finished up the last of them for both of my primary email accounts. I was up around 800 at my worst, but now I’m down to zero on one address and under 10 on the other. Whew.

That’s been a long time coming, but again – nobody really cares but me. I suppose many of the people I answered may have been able to use something I sent them, but other than that it was only for me. It did give me a huge feeling of accomplishment though and I feel like I’m preparing myself for new and exciting adventures. In my book it was all worth it.

I also had a dinner date with a woman I’ve known for a while and enjoyed both the food and the company. She’s single at the moment, and was looking especially good tonight so who knows where it will lead? She knows I have my time on the ships so a million things could happen between now and when I get back. For a night, it was fun. Now my brain is getting ready to tackle the challenges that go with the ship gigs. Ahoy matey, here goes.

Nobody Cares But Me

October 15, 2010

Thursday October 14th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Yeah, yeah. I’m way behind on what I’d hoped I’d have done by now. What’s new with that? That’s a common theme in my life, but in reality I’m the only one that cares about it even a little. If I were to totally stop what I was doing and drift away, it wouldn‘t matter.

My whole life I’ve had these grandiose dreams and detailed visions of what I wanted to accomplish, and they went crashing into the rocks below unfulfilled. Nobody else cared a bit, but it sure ripped my heart out of my chest. Why is that inner drive ingrained so deep?

I don’t have a clue. But it is. I’m fighting the battle against the clock that’s shrinking by the day. I feel myself running out of time trying to accomplish the things I see in my head, and that frustrates the hell out of me and only me on a daily basis. At least it’s contained.

Excellence or achievement comes from within. There has to be a burning desire inside a person to make them want to go that extra mile which often turns out to be a dozen. They can see the goals they want, but if they never reach them the rest of the world isn’t angry.

I have all I can handle to keep myself on a steady path of growth. I have an inner vision of what I want to accomplish and what I think I want my life to be, but I’ve sure had a ton of distractions take me off whatever course I may have been on. It all seems like a blur in hindsight, and as I try to objectively see where I am in my life I really can’t figure it out.

I thought my life would be WAY different than it is right now. Some of the things I had in mind are there, but by far not all. I’m struggling to pick a direction, and when I get one I seem to always find a way to get myself in a situation that blows me even farther off the course that I’ve ever been before. Still, I’m the only one who knows that I’m off course.

That’s what I’m having so much trouble trying to figure out. What if I were to right now be able to completely erase my current hopes and dreams and be completely satisfied with where my life has gone and what I’m doing now? Everything would change in an instant.

I’m making enough money to survive, I can sleep as late as I want, I don’t have any kids to feed or child support to pay, I can live anywhere I want and my life doesn’t involve any heavy lifting. I live a life of leisure for the most part, and existing isn’t all that difficult.

I make my living by talking, and if I’d really wanted to, I could have had free booze for a quarter of a century but I decided not to drink. Other people think I’m crazy, and I know they’re right – but I’m still not even close to being satisfied. I want to accomplish a whole lot more than I have in life, but who cares if I don’t? Nobody is pressuring me but me.

But what am I supposed to do, just give up everything? It sure would be easier that way, but I wouldn’t be satisfied. But, I’m not satisfied now. So what would make me happy? If I knew that for sure, I’d be doing it. Wouldn’t we all? There has to be a lesson in this, but at the moment I can’t locate it. The best we can all do in life is please ourselves. I think.

Undiscovered Talent

October 15, 2010

Wednesday October 13th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Back at Zanies in Chicago for the last of my two night run, and it was a nice full crowd. The club only seats about 110, so it doesn’t take all that many to make it seem jammed to the rafters, but it actually was pretty full. Again it was a tight audience, but I got them.

These people reminded me of the crowds on cruise ships. I could tell they weren’t very hip to comedy, and most were probably first timers. I didn’t insult them, but could feel an underlying stiffness even before I got up. I don’t know why people don’t just relax and let comedians give them a show, but too often they don’t. They think we want them to help.

Sometimes they’re just plain stupid. In a nation of 300 million people, sometimes it’s a random occurrence that a room full of 100 or so soup heads congregate on a given night. That wasn’t the case tonight though, these people weren’t stupid. They were just a tad bit late on the uptake. I slowed my delivery down and was able to locate their wavelength.

It wasn’t a great show, but it wasn’t a waste of time either. I felt I got the absolute most I could out of that particular audience, and that’s the best I could do. Was it up to my own personal standards? No, but not many shows are. On this night, this crowd got my best.

The other two comedians on the show are two of my very favorites – Vince Maranto and Denise Ramsden. I think both of them are extremely funny on stage and I like and respect them both as people too. They’re very professional, and have absolutely paid their dues.

I’ve known Vince for probably 25 years. He’s well liked among comics and very funny.    He works a lot, makes a living and can still be a father to his son. Is anything wrong with that? Not at all, but in my mind Vince should be higher in the comedy pecking order. He makes me laugh out loud, and minds his own business. All he wants is to pay his bills.

Denise hasn’t been doing it as long as Vince and me, but she’s got a real style about her that in the right audience really destroys. She isn’t the typical ‘chick act’ and she went out to try her luck in L.A. but eventually moved back. They didn’t get her, but I do. If I had a tiny bit of power, she’d catch her big break. But I don’t. So here we all were at Zanies.

All three of us were grateful for the work – BUT, in my opinion we all should be farther along in the business than we are. It’s not with bitterness that I say that either. It’s just the result of all of our choices over the years, and for whatever reason we weren’t on that list of chosen ones that made the big time. There just isn’t room for many people on that list.

That doesn’t mean any of the three of us aren’t successful though. We’ve all stayed with comedy and are still making a living. Denise is also a vendor at Wrigley Field, and works her ass off doing it. I think she’d really kill on TV, and hope she gets her shot. She’s got a smart ass mouth and I love it. It’s FUNNY. Middle America would love her just like they loved Roseanne. I totally see it, but how can I give her that break? Or Vince? I can’t. I’m struggling myself. Just because someone isn’t famous, doesn’t mean they aren’t talented.

Chicago’s Top Spot

October 14, 2010

Tuesday October 12th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

In the world of standup comedy in Chicago, I have achieved what most others dream of. The pinnacle. I’ve headlined the downtown Zanies. Actually, it’s located in Old Town on Wells Street, but everyone refers to it as the downtown location. That’s the place to be.

That’s where all the greats have played, from Jay Leno to Jerry Seinfeld to Sam Kinison to Richard Lewis to so many more. That’s where every comedian working Chicago wants to be, and whenever anyone from Chicago goes on the road the first thing they’re asked is “Do you work Zanies?” Unfortunately, like anywhere else it becomes a numbers game.

There are only 52 weeks in any given year. There are a lot more than 52 comedians who are capable of doing the job, so it becomes a matter of many other things including timing and luck and being in the right place at the right time. I’ve been exactly that and I’ve been able to get hired headlining all the Zanies locations in Chicago for years. I’m very lucky.

Am I grateful for that opportunity? Without a doubt. It’s an honor and I know others are jealous, but that goes with the territory. It adds credibility to my Chicago area profile, but that’s about it. Anywhere else I’m just another schmuck in a long line of many. It’s not an automatic door opener like so many people think it will be. We all have to earn our spots.

This is a good lesson for everyone coming up the ranks. I remember when I was coming up in Milwaukee, there were two clubs – The Funny Bone and The Comedy Café. I was a Funny Bone guy, and they eventually closed. All of us were out of luck because the Café’ had their favorites, and none of us were it. Their guys got the prime spots, we got nothing.

That’s kind of how it is at Zanies too, so I’ve been on both sides of the scenario. I have to admit, it’s WAY better to be on the ‘favorites’ list than the outsiders, but after all these years looking back none of it really matters. If a comic is going to develop, he or she will find a place to get stage time. Sooner or later, there will be a place that gives stage time.

Sometimes it requires moving out of town. I’ve moved around a lot doing radio but did not stop doing comedy. Ever. No matter where I was, I found a place to keep working on my craft, and I’m really glad I did. I never let it atrophy, and all these years later I’m still getting better. My off stage development has been choppy, but on stage I’m still working.

I’m headlining downtown Zanies for two nights this week because there was an opening and Bert Haas plugged me in. I appreciate it, and even though I was just here yesterday as host of the Rising Star Showcase it feels good to be closing the show. I know every comic in Chicago would leap at the chance, so I never take it for granted. It really is a privilege.

Despite all that, the crowd tonight wasn’t that great. They were loud and wouldn’t shut up the whole show. The other comics had a hard time with them so I knew what I was in for before I got on. Tuesdays and weekdays in general can be like that, even at a club like Zanies where everyone imagines it to be perfect all the time. Welcome to the real world.

See Ya Later, Radiator

October 12, 2010

Monday October 11th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Sometimes it feels like I stumble alone through a life of my own private hell. Super rich athletes are tagging hot chicks left and right, and I’m trying to make sure my radiator isn’t leaking on a car with over 200,000 miles on it. I’m getting screwed too, but it’s different.

These guys live in a whole different world. I remember back in high school when I was a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks. That was back when the NBA was struggling but the players still had it pretty good. I remember hearing one player who wasn’t even that good say with pride that he had kids in about a dozen different towns. This was back in 1980.

Now it seems to have gotten totally out of control. Players today are making a whole lot more than they were then, and it was pretty insane back then. I guess it would be difficult for anyone to turn down that kind of action, but what does it all mean? It makes me puke.

People like Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant did what they did, but it wasn’t like they had Ethel Mertz waiting for them when they got home. Both of them had piping hot pieces of filet mignon waiting for them at home. If they didn’t want to get married, why did they?

I’m not a moral judge, but the whole thing is a sham. If you’re going to go out and have fun, have at it. Derek Jeter isn’t married and I’m sure he’s not without female company if he so chooses. I just don’t see why the ones who cheat do it with such high quality wives.

This whole new Brett Farve situation is something I refuse to follow closely. It doesn’t interest me in the least, especially if I have to look at his junk on a video. It’s bad enough I have to see him in a putrid purple Vikings uniform. His tingle berry can remain covered.

Even though I think Favre is a lout and a scumbag, I’m still not convinced that’s him on those pictures just yet. I’m no lawyer, but someone could have impersonated him and had a wrist watch like his. What brand is it, Bruno Magli? I’m sure it will all come out sooner or later, but until it does, I really don’t care. He has a scorching hot wife, isn’t it enough?

I guess not, but none of that is of my concern. I turn it off when I see it on TV or hear it on the radio because I don’t want any of it polluting whatever positive brainwaves I have left. I have my own problems, even though they’re light years away from that. I had to get my radiator replaced, and total damage was $355. Significant to me, but not anybody else.

I guess it’s all relative. An unexpected bill for $355 rocks my world, but if Brett Favre’s radiator went out he could buy a new car immediately and pay cash for it and not even put a dent in his checking account. Yeah, I know – life’s just not fair. Tell me something new.

I hosted the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago tonight and before the show had dinner with Bert Haas. We talked about comedy classes and hosting, and I just don’t have time to do those things right now. They’ve always been good to me, but I’ll never be a big star there. That’s up to me to do on my own. Not easy. It’s hard enough to just squeak by.

Sunday Suckage

October 12, 2010

Sunday October 10, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Today had all the makings of a spectacular day, then everything caved in and now it’s a big ugly nightmare. I woke up to perfect weather, and that usually puts me in a wonderful mood. Today it was just a disguise. This day was bound and determined to be a stinker.

My friend Richard Caan invited me up to Milwaukee to watch the Packer game and that sounded like fun. I’ve not had a chance to relax and watch an entire game this season and I was looking very forward to it. Richard is also helping me liquidate my sports cards and had a couple hundred dollars from sporadic sales. That’s what made the drive worth it.

The Packers ended up losing a heartbreaker, and we both saw it coming. I don’t know if it was from our childhood years of watching them get pummeled every week, but we both just knew it wasn’t going to end well, and it didn’t. Mason Crosby’s last second field goal attempt hit the crossbar, and Richard and I both started laughing. Welcome to childhood.

I had to leave to make it to downtown Chicago to be on WGN radio with Jerry Agar for an hour. We were set to do a Jerry’s Kidders segment, and I left with what I thought was a very nice cushion of time. WRONG. There was nothing but construction and accidents to dodge, and I got marooned in the mix and ended up not getting there until a half hour late.

That feeling of intense stress with no way to stop it is pure hell. No matter what I did, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to get through traffic any faster, and no matter how angry or upset I’d get that wouldn’t change. I tried to just be calm and let it go, but that’s not easy, especially in Chicago traffic. I did end up getting there halfway through, but it wasn’t fun.

I didn’t feel very funny at all, even though I could see I was making the spectators laugh on Michigan Avenue. The WGN studios are right on the street and the public can gawk at us like monkeys at a zoo. There was a large crowd today, and I could see them laughing.

Normally, we go out for a meal after the Kidders and relax. I only had a few minutes for hanging, and then I had to leave for WLIP in Kenosha for The Mothership Connection at 8pm. Traffic was a lot less congested, but I noticed my temperature needle was on high.

I had no time to stop, even though I knew there was a possibility of blowing the engine by keeping it running. I had to risk it, as there was nobody else to run the show. If the car blew up, there was a chance I could catch a ride from one of the co-hosts or end up taking a cab. I kept on driving, and watched the needle bob up and down with zero regularity.

I’ve never seen anything like it. That thing bounced all over the place from up in the hot zone to down on ’C’ and everywhere in between. I don’t think it was just the needle and it will probably be expensive to fix. This is the last thing I need before heading back to sea.

I dropped the car off at a radiator place in Waukegan, and my friend Shelley was nice to drop me off at home. At least the car situation helped me forget about all the Packer pain.