Apology Accepted

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Just when I thought I’d seen and heard everything, I get a phone call today that surprises the hell out of me – but in a good way. It was a club booker calling to apologize. To me of all people. I can’t say I ever remember that happening, so I’ll count it as a major positive.

It all had to do with the nightmare fiasco I had to endure with that slithering oil can flim flam man who convinced me to teach him how to teach comedy classes so Jay Leno could endorse my course. He said he wrote for the Tonight Show and I stupidly swallowed it.

What a naïve bumpkin I was, and he totally scammed me to the bone. We taught a class together in Michigan, and it was actually quite successful. We had 17 people and it was a blast, even though I did the teaching part and the other goof just nodded his coconut head along with everything I said and went “Uh huh…uh huh.” He was completely useless.

Without drudging up all that pain, he ended up going behind my back and snagging that club for his own, telling the manager who called me today I wasn’t interested in doing the classes there. That was never the case, and it ended up becoming a sore spot immediately.

I tried to explain my side of the story but the manager didn’t want to get involved. He’d been friends with the comedian who screwed me over for years, and he assumed I was the bad guy in the whole mix. I ended up not getting booked at the club for years, and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. But – I let it go and moved on, figuring I’d lost this battle.

Well, lo and behold I get a call today from the manager offering me a week of work and apologizing for the situation and how it all played out. Apparently there was a falling out between those two, and a lot of things surfaced that caused a complete change of heart.

I gladly accepted the apology and reassured the club manager I was never angry at him – and I wasn’t. It was the knob shine who went behind my back and said I didn’t want any part of the classes anymore. That was uncalled for, but he never thought he was wrong.

Funny thing though, he’s been burning bridges all over the country lately. I can think of at least four other bookers he’s had run ins with, and every one of them have told me of it as it has happened. This is only the latest, and I have to say none of it makes me feel sad.

It even escalated at one point to having Jay Leno call me on the phone. I said I shouldn’t have been stupid enough to think Jay Leno would endorse me or my little old course, but that’s exactly what the guy promised. Then Jay asked me for the guy’s name. When I said it, it didn’t ring a bell. That really sealed the deal. I knew I’d been scammed by a shyster.

I was delighted to get the call today. I love working that club and am glad to be back in good graces. I’m sorry the manager had a falling out and I can’t figure out what this goof is trying to prove. He’s a mediocre comic at best, and now is resorting to ‘teaching’ for a way to scam money. I’m not perfect, but I’m not that. Hopefully this can all go away now.

But, I must say it was all a tremendous lesson – even though it was and still is extremely painful. I really did learn a lot, and I’m going to choose to take that from it rather than let myself get bitter and give up. Yes, I got screwed. Hard. Without dinner, flowers or a kiss.

However, it showed me quite a few things I was doing wrong and I’ll never do them that way again. First off, I was stupid to trust some drifter who came out of the blue and made me an offer that was too good to be true. I fell for it, and assumed he was being sincere.

Second, I undervalued my product. I’ve worked for years to polish my class lesson plan over and over and over yet again, always trying to improve myself and my material before each class session. I genuinely care about my students, and I would never ask any of them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I work just as hard as I would expect a student to.

Most of the other comedy teachers I’ve seen are just in it for the quick buck. Not all, but the vast majority I’ve seen definitely are. I have always been a disciple of Gene Perret and give him credit for his methods of joke writing. He’s the king and always will be, but he’s a writer and focuses on that. I have a more broad based course with performing skills too.

Thankfully, the one thing nobody can steal is my passion. No matter how many of these wanna be wank poles try to horn in on my comedy classes, NONE of them will ever come close to how much I try to give to my students. My methods may be a little unorthodox to say the least, but the ones who’ve gotten it over the years say it was a thrilling experience.

That’s what I want to continue, and help spread laughter and creativity to more than just those who want to be comedians. That’s a hard gig, but a lot more common folk could get a lot more laughs if they would focus on doing that. I want to contribute that to the world.

I remember there was that guy dressed in black with the hat that taught guitar lessons in a course he sold on late night TV. I don’t remember his name, but I remember wanting to get the course and start playing the guitar. I still do. I won’t get invited to join Funkadelic, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun and fart around in my spare time playing a guitar.

I think comedy can be sold in the same way. People need and want to be funnier, and I can offer a simple fun course plan to accommodate every level. That’s a very noble goal and something that will make the world a better place. As corny as that might sound, I’m in. The classes have been such fun over the years, I know they can help a lot more people.

Thirdly, this whole thing taught me about dealing with people in a business situation. If I have a good idea, and I think I do, nothing is stopping anyone from stealing any or all of it and trying to put me out of business. It’s up to me to put out the very best product I can.

Between that serpent and my ex partner who embezzled all the money from the classes, I’ve learned a lot of the same lessons others in show business have had to lose a lot more than I did to let it sink in. I got off easy, and I have totally learned from it all. Bitterness is a natural reaction, but it won’t change anything. I choose to dust off and move forward.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: