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.