Humble Gratitude

Friday January 28th, 2011 – South Milwaukee, WI

Being a dented can has some unique downsides. When something goes wrong, it’s often difficult to view whatever it is as an individual event standing entirely on it’s own and not group it in with every other unpleasant event memory and making life a total catastrophe.

I’ve really struggled with this for many years, and when I usually feel the absolute worst is right after what I think is a hideously rotten show.  Quite often the audience doesn’t see it anywhere near the way I do, but it rarely matters. I end up sunk in emotional quicksand.

I know a lot of comedians that think this way, and not coincidentally they’re dented can types too. We’re very picky when it comes to liking a particular show or audience, and we tend to be extremely hard on ourselves in judging our performances. I admit my standards for a show are far higher than anyone else’s, and when I don’t get there I feel like a loser.

It’s easy to slip into a depression funk or feel like I’m totally worthless and nothing I’ve ever done in my entire life has ever amounted to anything positive. One bad show pushes over a domino and everything else I’ve ever done is nullified. Of course it isn’t true, but it sure feels like it. I’m learning to think the right way, but it’s been a difficult transition.

There were a lot of things that went right tonight as a whole, and only a few that didn’t. It’s my strong tendency to focus on what didn’t, and let it unravel everything else. That’s a bad habit, and I’m going to consciously do what I need to do so I don’t think that way.

It’s a good thing to want to keep getting better, and I absolutely do. Within reason. I’ve always said I’m not a perfectionist, I’m an improvementist. If I make forward progress on a project, I’m satisfied. There’s only so much anyone can do, and seeking perfection tends to always lead to disappointment. It’s neurotic, and almost guarantees a severe letdown.

That being said, I’m going to highlight the upbeat points first of my ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst’ show at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center tonight and allow myself to enjoy them. There were many, and I’m totally grateful.

First, the venue was really easy to work with. Chad Piechocki is the director, and he had everything under control the whole night. He made sure I had a working microphone with a fresh battery, and coordinated things with technical director Alex Clark to make sure we had no technical glitches, which we didn’t. They treated me like a king and I appreciate it.

Becky Ohm is the marketing director and she kept in communication extremely well for the last several months keeping me updated on everything. They all made me feel wanted, and that goes an extremely long way with me. I’d go the extra mile to help any of them.

They made sure I was listed on the website and also the sign outside of the venue. They asked for information and a promo kit, and actually used what I sent. I often get asked for that kind of stuff and it never gets looked at. These people were on the ball from day one.

Richard Halasz put in a lot of time and effort too. He sent listings out to media and a lot of them had the show listed in their ‘things to do’ calendars. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through, and he did it willingly. I was listed in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Shepherd Express, and I even got a mention on Channel 4 from what I heard. I got some nice press.

Drew Olson let me plug the show today on The D-List on ESPN 540, even though it’s a madhouse with Super Bowl week. I eventually want to buy commercials, but he let me on to plug it anyway. He’s always been a classy guy and came through when I could use it.

Tonight was filled with classy people. My friend Shelley drove up from Illinois to work my merchandise table. How nice was that? We sold a few t-shirts and cds, but it was nice to know I could have someone in place to trust while I was concentrating on the show.

Russ Martin brought his video camera, and opened the show. It’s always good to film it even if I don’t watch a show, which I rarely if ever do. Still, he showed up and set up and I totally appreciate it. Now I have some tangible clips to use to create an audition tape.

I don’t know where to start as far as people who came out to support. John O’Brien and his wife Gail again came up from Wilmette, IL. They came to see me in Harford last year and I totally didn’t expect them tonight. What a wonderful surprise. It made me feel great.

Tim and Kathy Slagle drove up from Dyer, IN to see the show. I was pleasantly shocked to see them afterward, and touched deeply to have that kind of solid support. Tim’s one of Jerry’s Kidders, and we did our own show last year which is what inspired me to do this.

Those guys alone made my night, but there were a lot more. Bob Barry was THE biggest radio personality when I was growing up, and he’s always been a super nice guy and very supportive of anything I do. He went to the same high school I did, but that’s not the only reason he’s nice to me. He’s just a super guy and seeing him there was a surreal dream.

After the show there were too many people to visit, even though I tried to get to them at some point to at least shake hands and thank them for coming. Greg Chadwell showed up to support and I’ve known him 30 years. Julie Stitch and I went to grade school together.

If I start listing all the names, I’m sure I’ll forget someone important so I’ll stop before I do that. I’ve made my point – a lot of super sweet people came out to show support and it made me overwhelmed with gratitude to see every one of them. But that wasn’t the point.

What I’m trying to do is get a business started for a niche market of people who would enjoy this show. The people who came were my friends, and they like me anyway. That’s an amazing compliment, but it won’t help me in the long run. I have to bring in strangers.

I won’t go off on my flaws, but I was very disappointed with myself. But, it’s a work in progress and I’ve got a lot more to do. I know what went wrong, and I’ll fix it. It wasn’t a bust, and the people laughed for 80 minutes. I need to enjoy that. I can build on tonight.


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