Archive for September, 2011

What Year Is It?

September 30, 2011

Thursday September 29th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Today is the first full day of the Jewish new year 5772. The Chinese year is 4708. In our society we’re lagging way behind in 2011. Does anyone actually know for a fact what the hell year it actually is? Of course not. We as humanity don‘t know a whole lot else either.

We’ve had thousands of years to get it together as a species, and we’re not even close to figuring it out. We’re still hung up on petty issues like skin color and which plot of dirt is supposed to be ‘holier’ than another. My aching bung hole, can’t we get it settled already?

Every culture is hung up on something, and it’s not getting any better. Religion adds to both the confusion and tension because everyone thinks theirs is correct and everyone else is going to sizzle in a flaming barbecue pit for eternity because they didn’t share the same belief in some invisible space being that knows every time we fart, pee, belch or sneeze.

The older I get, the less I’m buying of any of it. I guess I’m officially the curmudgeonly old croaker I never dreamed I’d become. Why is the world the way it is, and why can’t we make it better or at least a little more fair? I’m not satisfied with the way things are going, and I can’t be the only one who’s losing hope. Something’s wrong, and it needs fixing.

Greedy bastards seem to be winning, and that’s just not right. I would think if there is a higher power that it would have been taken care of by now, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s getting a whole lot worse in a very short time. I wish I could have faith it’s getting better, but I’m just not seeing it. My own life is going pretty well, but the world around me is imploding.

That’s what’s so frustrating. Just when I finally seem to be figuring the key things out in life and getting myself on a productive path, the rest of the world seems to be sliding back down whatever mountain we’ve been trying to climb for the past several thousand years.

Has it always been this way? Unfortunately, probably yes. It’s only now that I’m seeing it clearly, and it makes me feel very insignificant. In this enormous infinite universe, I am but one of six billion other cosmic specks that comprise human kind, and none of us have done much to make the place we live better than we found it. We should all be ashamed.

I know I am. I should have been doing what I’m doing decades ago, but I was too stupid to figure it out then. I was too busy being pissed off at things I couldn’t control, and all it did was waste most of my youth and dilute my creative vision. And there are no do-overs.

Is 5772 going to be the year there’s finally peace in the Middle East? I hope so, but that should have happened 5771 years ago in my opinion. New generations crop up but do not let go of the past stupidity that wasted the lives of their ancestors. I don’t want to do that.

I swear I’m on the wrong planet, and sometimes I just want to get back on the spaceship and go home, wherever that is. Am I or anyone else here ‘for a reason’ or is this just a big cruel cosmic prank? I don’t know, but I have my doubts. Something just doesn’t add up.


Comedy Class Kickoff

September 29, 2011

Wednesday September 28th, 2011 – Palatine, IL

   Tonight was the official kickoff of comedy classes at Harper College in Palatine, IL and everything fell into place perfectly. There was a live show from 6:30 to 7:30 with some of my former students performing, and then an abbreviated version of the class from 8 to 9.

   I don’t think they’ve done too many events like this at Harper in the past and it was very well received. Scott Cashman is the person in charge of continuing education and he’s the one who suggested we try this to drum up interest. I’m glad he did, it was quite a success.

   The whole staff I’ve been dealing with from Scott on down have been nothing short of a dream team to work with. I’ve gotten quickly frustrated in the past with all the red tape of dealing with colleges, but not here. I feel like we’re all part of a team and we‘re winning.

   This is a kind of thing I can see doing again and again, and it’s a win/win for everybody involved. My students get precious stage time in front of a real audience, and Harper gets to have a fun free event to promote. I get exposure in an area I normally wouldn’t be seen, and get to both perform and teach on the same night. That’s not something I normally do.

   Bill Gorgo came out mainly to visit and support but since the audience was so receptive he went up and did a killer ten minute set. I knew he was the perfect choice for this event as he’s a high school teacher by trade and understands where the line is in this scenario.

   I also asked Karl Newyear, Michelle Krajecki and Russ Martin to be part of it, and they all showed up and knocked it out of the park despite the fact there was no microphone for the show. Scott overlooked that detail but nobody was upset. It was an intimate room and not a problem to speak loud enough for everyone to hear. It was a good exercise actually.

   It’s fun for me to watch students grow, and to also be able to reward them with a chance to do a show in front of an appreciative audience. Karl, Michelle and Russ have all put in a lot of work for years and deserved a night like this. Having Bill close it out made it flow perfectly, then a large number of the audience ended up staying for the class afterward.

   I love teaching with Bill because he not only knows comedy but is also a techno wizard. I have all I can handle to check my email but Bill brings flash drives packed with obscure audio and video and we can access it in a New York minute. It makes it easy to go off on tangents in class because we can bring up the concrete examples to show what we mean.

   The show and class together were a winning combo, and those who attended enjoyed it. I’m not sure how many will actually pay to sign up for the real class, but it was still worth it to put this together as an introduction. Eventually I think it can become a regular event.

   The thrill of all of this is that we’re starting up completely from nothing. I never tire of the feeling of accomplishment that brings, and I’m grateful for a chance to work with the staff at Harper who are letting it happen. These students are going to get a fantastic class.

The Sweetest Laughter

September 29, 2011

Tuesday September 27th, 2011 – Chicago, IL

For the first time in way too long, it was a comedians’ night out. That’s one of the perks of the business outsiders don’t get to experience, and I’ve always loved it. It’s a chance to let the guard down and recharge the batteries with people who share a bond in lifestyles.

There are few sounds on earth sweeter than that of a comedy audience laughing, but one of them is fellow comedians laughing out loud at something another one said. Comedians are notoriously hard laughers, even if we think something is funny. We just don’t show it the way civilians do. Most of us will point, nod and say “Hey, that’s funny.” But that’s it.

Getting a comedian to laugh out loud is like getting a rabbi to eat pork chops. It happens once in a while, but when it does it turns heads in disbelief. The rabbi really has to have a craving for pork to get him to do it, just like a comedian has to hear something hilariously funny to trigger even a small physical laugh. Our ability to be surprised has been numbed.

Tonight Tim Benker, John DaCosse and I met at Tim’s house to drive to the very same Zanies club I just got through working last week. Normally, that would be the last place I would ever go on a night off but we went to hang out with our friend Dwayne Kennedy.

Tim and John and Dwayne and I have been doing comedy since the early ‘80s and have now each acquired the moniker of ’old school veteran’ whether we want it or not. We’ve all been around the block more than once, and we’ve earned our stripes with hard work.

Zanies has been a big part of all of our lives, and a chance to hang out for an evening of relaxed fun without having to be preoccupied with doing a show was too enticing to pass up. We exchanged stories, insults and laughs in the car, and it continued when we arrived at Zanies and were joined by Dwayne and Bert Haas who booked us all for all these years.

Living the comedy life for any length of time is not for everyone. It takes a severe toll in several ways, and only someone who has lived the life can fully relate. There’s unfairness and petty politics and an overabundance of rejection comedians have to deal with that can be stressful and downright unpleasant. Having someone who can relate to it is a comfort.

After the show we all sat around and exchanged stories and made each other laugh hard. All of us have been through the comedy wars, and nobody in the group was trying to steal the spotlight or anything like that. It was just a group of road seasoned veterans having an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and there was a friendly vibe the whole time.

Each one of the guys in that room has a special place in my heart and I like and respect them all. The camaraderie we shared must be like what pro athletes talk about they enjoy so much about playing sports. There’s an extra close bond that only those involved feel.

I’m glad I spent my life pursuing my dream of being a comedian. Hearing laughs from an audience is a thrill. Hearing them from other comedians is better. I’m one of the guys.

Sports Fan Satisfaction

September 27, 2011

Monday September 26th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Being a sports fan involves a passionate level of psychological commitment that usually begins in early childhood and takes root for a lifetime. Sometimes it only ends up being a single sport, but quite often it spreads like a contagious disease and involves two or more.

Most people tend to cheer for their home team if they have one, and in my case growing up in Milwaukee in the ’70s I had several. The earliest exposure to sports I can remember is watching football on TV with my grandfather. I found it funny that he would yell at the screen, knowing even then that nobody but I could hear him. That was my gateway drug.

Gramps used to explain to me how the game worked, and the only reason I’d watch was to spend quality time with him. One day he opened up the sports section of the newspaper to show me the standings and explained that there were 26 teams and if I was going to be a true football fan, I needed to narrow it down to a single one and cheer for them always.

He told me I could pick any one I wanted, but when I made my choice that was the one I had to stay with for the rest of my life. He loved the Packers, and dropped not so subtle hints to that fact like atomic bombs. I was an easy mark, and promptly chose them too.

Little did I know much pain, heartache and suffering I would be in for throughout most of my childhood years. Long gone were the Lombardi glory years and in their place was a cheap and ineffective replacement of sub par regimes headed by Dan Devine and others.

College football was no better. Living in Wisconsin, the logical choice was to cheer for the home state Badgers, who were supposed to be members of the Big Ten conference but it ended up as the Big Eight and Little Two. Wisconsin and Northwestern were always the bottom feeders, and everyone else would stomp them to death like sissies at a biker bar.

Baseball was a similar experience. The hometown Brewers were brutal, and always way out of contention by July or earlier no matter how hard I hoped it would be different every year. It wasn’t until I was almost out of high school that they finally managed to turn it all around, but by then the damage was done. I was an abused puppy, used to getting kicked.

The only hope I had was basketball. The NBA Bucks were perpetual winners and had a pair of superstars in Oscar Robertson and then Lew Alcindor before he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They were amazing to watch, and I followed them religiously.

It’s all different now, and I love it. The Packers are rolling like an out of control freight train taking everyone out who crosses their path, and the Brewers won the division in fine style and look to be contenders to win it all. The Badgers are an absolute powerhouse too.

Funny how the Bucks are now perpetual doormats, and the NBA might not even have a season. Too bad for them. Nobody cares. We’re all too busy enjoying the rest of it and it’s a golden era like never before. I wish I could have had it as a kid, but I’m enjoying it now.

Next Stop – Uranus!

September 27, 2011

Sunday September 25th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I’ve got so many positive things percolating in my life right now, I’m having a difficult time keeping everything straight. It’s a wonderful problem to have, and I’m grateful for it. It’s not only keeping me busy beyond belief, it’s also keeping my mind in a quality place.

I’m in the best groove of my entire life, and I feel it getting stronger every day. This was what I always pictured life to be like, but try as I might I couldn’t find a way to get there – at least on a consistent basis. I’ve felt flashes of it, but not like I do now. This is different.

I know it won’t last forever, and I feel a sense of urgency to accomplish as much as I’m able to in however long it lasts. I’m thinking clearer than I ever have, and I feel myself get stronger every day. There’s a plan in place, and even though in my mind it took WAY too long to get here, I’m here, and it was all worth the wait. I‘m exactly where I want to be.

Just as things got on a roll in a negative way for so long, it’s now just the opposite. I’ve turned my personal life magnet completely around and am attracting completely different results – a whole lot more to my liking I might add. It seems so easy, but it totally wasn’t.

I have to say my diagnosis of diabetes was what lit this fire. It was a wake up call and it still resonates loudly in my head every single day. It scares me enough to get out there and take my walk each day and also to eat vegetables and drink water when chili dogs and Dr. Pepper used to be my first choice. I’ve changed myself from the inside out, and it shows.

Physical improvement has led to an improvement in my attitude as well. I see how it all fits together, and I know I want to stay in this groove for the rest of my life. Maybe it was necessary to experience all I did early in life to give me a reference point, but I don’t ever want to go back there again. The good old days weren’t all that good. This is much better.

I’m doing everything I enjoy, and my major problem is finding enough time each day to squeeze everything in. That’s a fantastic problem to have – but it could lead to burnout if I don’t watch myself. I have to be very careful to think things through before I agree to take on any new projects. The ones I’ve got now will keep me busy for the foreseeable future.

The one that keeps coming to the top of my list is the King of Uranus. This is my life’s dream, and I don’t care who laughs at me for it. In fact, I want as many people to laugh at it as possible – but after they’ve bought a ticket or product first. The world needs a laugh.

This is the best time of my life, and I don’t intend to waste it. The past is the past and if I dwell on it, I’ll go crazier than I already am. I’ve come so far in such a short time that it feels like that was a different person in a different lifetime. I’m new and much better now.

I had a fantastic week of fun at Zanies in Chicago, but I still know I can take it to a level much higher than this. I’m not kidding myself, nobody knew who I was before they got to the club this week and they probably don’t recall now. The King of Uranus is memorable.

Pleasurable Business

September 27, 2011

Saturday September 24th, 2011 – Chicago, IL

This is a very solid week of shows at Zanies on multiple levels. Audiences have been at full or near full capacity for the most part, and the on stage talent lineup is a healthy blend of styles that not only fit together for a quality show – we also get along off stage as well.

That’s getting rarer in comedy unfortunately, and we all acknowledged it. All too often at least one of the comedians on a show either don’t fit into the on stage mix or are a pain in the ass to deal with in other areas like consistently going long or stepping on premises.

Audiences don’t realize that most comedy clubs are booked haphazardly and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why certain acts are on the same bill for any given show. Usually it boils down to random chance of who happens to call or email the booker at a certain time, and that’s a recipe for disaster. There’s a delicate chemistry that makes or breaks a show.

There used to be at least a little thought put into it by most bookers, but then the internet came along and changed the game for the worst. Now, most of them treat it like a contest on the radio where the sixth emailer gets the gig and they’re matched up totally at random with another act who sent another email for a different spot on the show. It’s ridiculous.

I’ve gotten some insane bookings through the years that have made me scratch my head in disbelief as to why a person who knew even the least little bit about live entertainment would put me on a show with some of the acts I’ve been paired with. They haven’t a clue as to how to construct shows properly, yet they’re responsible for the livelihoods of many.

When I was an opening act, I wasn’t hard to follow because I made a conscious effort to avoid stepping on premises of the headliners whenever I could, and I also knew to keep it clean. That seems to be a lost art now, and all too often I have to dig myself out of a giant hole after one or both opening acts take an audience into the gutter and leave them there.

Not this week. The host is a guy named Tim Benker and I’ve known him for at least 25 years. Zanies uses veteran acts as ‘house emcees’ and it makes for a much better show on so many levels. The host slot is very important, and it usually gets filled by a total newbie who has no idea how to run a show and it’s over before it starts. Tim knows how to do it.

Plus, we’ve also been riding together all week and that helps save big money on parking and gas. Little things like that all add up to a fun week onstage and off, and that’s exactly what this has been. If more road weeks were like this, and they used to be, comedy would be a lot better off. Too many idiots and inexperienced greenhorns have watered it down.

The feature act this week is a young lady named Cameron Esposito. She’s 29, and has a great work ethic onstage and off. She’s quite talented and markets herself way better than I ever did at that age, and I respect her very much. Our acts are very different and make for a nice flow. The booker Bert Haas said he was proud of himself for putting the three of us on this show and he should be. We all had three solid shows tonight – and a lot of fun too.

Troy Davis Execution

September 24, 2011

Friday September 23rd, 2011 – Chicago, IL

The death penalty is always a topic of interesting conversation. People talk about it all the time, and most have a passionate opinion one way or another. I’ve made it a topic on several radio shows, and as morbid as it sounds there are even a lot of humor angles in it.

I know it wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it were me in that position, but that’s how it is with humor – OTHER people’s pain is exploited, and those who don’t feel it can laugh at the one who does. I didn’t make up that formula, it’s hard wired into the human animal.

There are all kinds of old jokes about tragedy and death, and they wouldn’t be old jokes if they didn’t work well enough to keep being passed around. Even the common name of most electric chairs being ‘Old Sparky’ is funny to everyone but the poor sap sitting in it.

I’ve often pictured myself in a comedic way on death row and used to do a bit for years about my last meal. I think everyone thinks about what they’d order, and I always said I’d eat lots of Mexican food and then go to the electric chair so there’d be a mess to clean up.

It always got laughs, but I’ve been reading lately about a case in Georgia that involves a convicted cop killer named Troy Davis who was put to death this week despite many who claimed there was reasonable doubt that he did it. I didn’t find this case very funny at all.

I don’t know if he did it or not, but he maintained his innocence to the bitter end. I’ll bet a lot of people on death row do the same, but unfortunately the sad possibility does exist a few of them are telling the truth. What a horrific feeling it must be to have to endure that.

I came as close as I ever want to come to that years ago when I had to testify against my childhood best friend in a bank robbery trial. I knew in my heart that I didn’t rob the bank but my lawyer told me the authorities thought I did it and were negotiating with him as to how long my prison sentence would be. He said innocent people go to prison all the time.

There was about a six week period of my life when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be one of them or not, and to make it worse I had to keep it to myself and go be funny in comedy clubs every night. It was by far the most miserable time of my life, and I still don’t know how I was able to pull off comedy shows then. There was nothing funny about that time.

I did come to a point in my head when I was going to accept it if I had to do prison time for something I didn’t do. It was difficult not to be both bitter and afraid, and there were a lot of sleepless nights those six weeks but I did my best to prepare myself for the worst.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Troy Davis if he truly was innocent, and it takes a special kind of super human resolve not to totally lose it. What disturbed me the most was that the state of Georgia didn’t listen to the appeals from so many who thought there was a chance he didn’t do it. That just doesn’t seem like justice to me, and I think it should be fair for everyone – even though I know that just isn’t how it is on this planet.

Super Silence

September 24, 2011

Thursday September 22nd, 2011 – Chicago, IL

I have yet to experience anything in the human existence that equals the sheer unbridled thrill of being onstage performing standup comedy when it’s going well. It’s an absolutely intoxicating feeling, and can last up to an hour – and sometimes even longer. It’s intense.

There are varying degrees of satisfaction, and depending on an individual audience that feeling can fluctuate up and down from minute to minute. I’ve never surfed, but I have to believe it’s a similar feeling of catching a monster wave. A lot of variables are involved.

I’ve seen surfers speak of catching that elusive perfect wave and what a feeling of pure ecstasy it is when it happens. Then, in a few seconds it’s gone and the hunt for a new one starts all over again. It’s a perpetual pursuit of pleasure, and standup comedy is the same.

I was in one of those hot zones tonight at Zanies in Chicago. For whatever reason, I was firing on all cylinders and the audience was with me and like a master chess player I knew what to do five moves ahead. I was in charge, and they let me bring them into my world.

The ultimate proof that an audience has gotten into a show is what I call ‘super silence’. There are two forms of silence a comedian can experience, and they couldn’t be any more opposite. The first is the excruciatingly painful silence that resonates throughout the room when nobody is laughing. That can vary from one joke to an entire night’s performance.

It’s the ultimate feeling of horror and rejection and causes hearts to race, palms to sweat and rectums to clench tight enough to turn a lump of coal into a shiny diamond. When it’s going badly, there’s an eerie feeling of panic that sets in and everyone has to experience it to have a point of reference to know what to do to make it go well. It’s a necessary evil.

I’ve felt that horror too many times to count, and although it’s not pleasant I’ve learned not to take it personally. It’s an unavoidable risk that goes with the territory, and everyone who has ever chosen to be a comedian has experienced it at some point – and will again.

Then there’s the super silence. That happens somewhere in the middle of a show when there has been a special bond created between the audience and the comic. Every last ear in every last seat is riveted on every last word. The sneeze of a cockroach could be heard.

It’s a special level of attention, and the deepest respect an audience as a group can pay a performer. They’re surrendering their all, and it’s a feeling of pure power. It can even be a little scary when it first happens, but then it becomes the standard of excellence. I love it.

I reached that point tonight about thirty minutes into my set. I’d been pounding them for a long time, and decided to slow it down and let them breathe a little. I felt the sweet hush come over them and immediately knew I was catching the monster wave so I slowed it up even more and let myself savor the entire experience. I dug in and squeezed out every last atom of energy from my being and gave it to them. THIS is why I continue to do comedy!

Exercising My Options

September 22, 2011

Wednesday September 21st, 2011 – Chicago, IL

The trouble with time management rears its ugly head again. I can now clearly see how bad habits develop, and I’m fighting hard to avoid the same stupid mistakes I’ve so often made in the past. It takes conscious effort and a battle plan, but I’m keeping it together.

The last two days have been very hectic, and I haven’t had time to get my exercise walk in. I’ve needed to be in several places on a deadline and that’s how I’ve lived most of my life. Sitting in a car, bus or airplane for multiple hours and then standing on a stage with a microphone for forty-five minutes isn’t the way to stay in shape, but that’s how it’s been.

Then, to make it worse, I’ve thrown gas on the fire by wolfing down fast food regularly as part of the daily ritual. Even worse than that, it was usually after a show – the absolute worst time to pack one’s innards full of preservatives. It might be convenient, but it’s sure not healthy. I’ll admit I was guilty of it for years, and stretches like this are a reminder.

Today was getting away from me as well. I had all kinds of emails and calls backing up from the two days I was in Rockford doing radio and last night at Zanies in Chicago. Lots of little things add up to several hours of busy work, and before I know it the day is gone.

I was so busy trying to get caught up, I didn’t eat breakfast other than a small handful of raw almonds and some water. Then, I had intended to take my walk and eat a salad but all hell broke loose with a booker trying to change a scheduled date and that ate up two hours I’ll never get back. I was getting hungry, frustrated and it was getting to be late afternoon.

I could have easily blown off my walk for a third straight day, and I could have come up with all kinds of legitimate reasons to justify it. I was running late, I needed to get myself ready to go to Zanies, and since that gig is paying my immediate bills it takes #1 priority.

But I didn’t. I knew I needed to force the issue and get out there and shake some booty. The weather was nice and I had an hour before I had to leave, so I sucked it up and did it. I started to fight it at first, but then I got into a zone and let myself get lost in the moment.

I’m starting to really learn to enjoy my time alone during my walks. My brain is an open book, and I think about all kinds of things which helps the time pass quickly. I go over all my projects and what I want to do in the future, and even a few things I blew in the past.

I returned home drenched in sweat, but also relaxed and feeling great that I made a good decision. I took a quick shower and got in the car and realized I hadn’t eaten anything else but the almonds all day. That was another danger zone. I could have easily had a fast food fix of colon clogging crud, but I chose a Wendy’s chili and grilled chicken wrap instead.

It may not be ideal, but it’s a lot better than a grease soaked double burger with all kinds of condiments on it, even greasier fries and a large bed wetter sized Coke like I’d order in the past without even thinking. I made some positive choices today. I intend to continue.

Charlie’s Sheen

September 21, 2011

Tuesday September 20th, 2011 – Rockford, IL/Chicago, IL

Another jam packed day, but it was jammed with doing what I love so that makes it all worth my time and effort. First it was off to pick up Jim McHugh for our second and final air shift on AM 1330 WNTA in Rockford, IL. We had fun yesterday, and today was even better. We felt much more at home, and got on some nice riffs about Charlie Sheen of all things. He was ‘Topic A’, and good talk show hosts will get the most out of those stories.

I don’t particularly like or dislike Charlie Sheen personally, but he sure does know how to draw attention to himself. He’s created a brand for better or worse, and enough people buy it to keep him in business and in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.

That’s something I’ve not been able to do on a large scale, and that’s part of the reason I’m filling in on an AM station in Rockford. No offense to anyone in Rockford, or at the station. I enjoyed hanging out with Jim, and we were treated well by everyone involved.

I’m pointing the finger of blame at myself, and it hurts. I’ve had all these years to build some kind of marketing brand for myself, and I’ve fallen painfully short of what I wanted to achieve as far as results. The only reason I got on the radio was because I knew the guy in charge and he knew I could do the job. That‘s the right formula, but in the wrong place.

Had it been a national show like Bob and Tom or Coast To Coast AM, I’d be in a whole different arena even though I’d be the exact same product and that’s what’s so frustrating. I cracked off some funny lines on the air in Rockford that would have been appreciated by a lot more people had they been said on a bigger platform. Instead, I’m still an unknown.

It doesn’t change my abilities in the least, it’s just that they haven’t been marketed to an audience that knows me by name. I haven’t built a brand for whatever reason, and it takes money out of my pocket. It’s not easy to be funny on cue consistently, but I’ve done it for over 25 years just to make the meager money I’ve made. The big time won’t change that.

I’d still be the same me, it’s just that more people would hear it and if they knew me by name it would seem funnier to them. The product itself wouldn’t really change. The same is true with standup comedy. I performed a strong show for about fifty people at Zanies in Chicago tonight and kept them laughing consistently for 45 straight minutes. That’s hard.

Again, the only reason I got to do that was because the booker Bert Haas knows me and knew I could do the job. Unfortunately, so can enough other people that he isn’t forced to use me at all if he so chooses. He chose to, and I’m very grateful – but it wasn’t necessary.

If Charlie Sheen said he was going to do standup comedy, he’d attract more people in a week than I’ve been able to attract in 25 years of slugging it out in Rockford size cities all over North America. I’ve successfully built the show part, but have been a flaming failure at the business. After a lifetime of preparing myself to be able to entertain people, nobody knows who the hell I am to come see my show. I’ve got to address this or I’m in trouble.

This really bothered me all the way home from Zanies, even though it was a fun day on every level. I like being on the radio, and I like hanging out with Jim McHugh. I like Jim Stone as well, and the time both on the air and in the car to and from were very pleasant.

Zanies was a great experience too. Martin the manager is a wonderful person, and he’s a big supporter of mine and always has. I have free reign there to do just about anything I’d ever want, including drink all the top shelf liquor if indeed I were inclined to be a drinker. The wait staff couldn’t be any nicer, and they have also been extremely supportive of me.

If I were to have a rotten show, or even a week of rotten shows, it’s not like I’d never be able to return. I might have to wait a while, but I’d eventually get another chance because I’ve proven myself a lot in the past. If there is comedy job security, I’ve got it at Zanies.

I’m extremely grateful for all of this, both in Rockford and at Zanies. My problem is it’s only in those and very few other places, and I have to depend on those people in charge to keep me employed. I don’t have to kiss Bert Haas or Jim Stone’s ass. They’ve known me for years and know what I can do, and we have a good relationship. That’s how it works.

Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of relationship with the most important one of all – the public. Charlie Sheen can be drugged up or drunk or anything he wants to be because the public wants what he’s selling. His brand has been sampled and purchased by a large enough audience that he can do whatever he chooses. That’s the position I want to have.

I don’t show up drunk anywhere, because I don’t drink a drop. I never treat the staff at a comedy club or radio station poorly, and I try extremely hard to be super low maintenance to deal with off stage or off the air. None of that really matters, as the public doesn’t care.

Zanies likes to have me, and I appreciate that. So does Jim Stone. Ditto. But for any tiny reason at all, I could be flicked like a bug and never heard from again and the only person who would care even a little would be me. That’s very scary, and I have to protect myself and change that however I can. I need to create a brand and an audience who supports it.

That’s why it’s so imperative that I keep cranking on the King of Uranus project. I need something shiny that catches the eye of a chunk of the public that wants to see it. It really doesn’t even have to be good, even though I want it to be for personal pride’s sake. All it has to be is known and accepted. Are McDonald’s hamburgers the best? Not even close.

I don’t want to take away the fact that I had a wonderful day today. The weather was as perfect as it gets, and I hung out with friends and did not one but two things that a whole lot of people would love to do but can’t. Both situations were fun and came off smoothly, I’m grateful for the chance to do both. And, I like and respect the people I did it all for.

All those things are rare and hard to beat. I don’t take any of it lightly, but I know I have the ability to do it on a higher level and get paid more. My show isn’t the problem, but the business still is. Is it possible to attain it all? It seems so, but so far I haven’t pulled it off.