Archive for November, 2011

Apology And Acknowledgement

November 30, 2011

Monday November 28th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I’m sliding right back into that positive place in my head I was in, and I like it. I took a direct hit to my weakest point, and I admit it laid me out for a few days. I did get scolded by several of those closest to me for scaring them, and I sincerely apologize for doing it.

I often forget that real live human beings actually read my daily diatribes, but that’s not who I’m writing it for in my head. I write this for me – at least for now. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment every day and its been a tremendous discipline for several years.

I lay out my thoughts and feelings without really thinking of who may see it. The people I do frequently nod to in the back of my mind are aspiring comedians coming up the ranks who might be able to use my experiences to help with their own struggles. This is a nasty business, especially in the beginning. I always try to help those who came along after me.

It’s to the point now, I get constant feedback from all kinds of people about my writings and I have to say the majority of it is quite supportive. There are a few who won’t mind if I surpass the surly bounds of earth, but that goes with the territory. At least I put a dent of my own in someone else’s can enough to have them write and tell me they hope I croak.

Whatever. That’s their right, just as I feel it’s my right to go off on any tangents I want at any time I want. I try to keep it positive as much as I can, because I try to be positive as much as I can. However, some days life just isn’t a steady diet of Hershey bars and Archie comics and I document how I feel – warts and all. To say I’m crazy is a waste of breath.

I know that, and I don’t deny it. I’ve said it before, all creative and/or interesting people have a nut bag side. I’m no different, and I don’t hide it. I’m out there slugging it out with seven billion other dented cans, some of us wackier than others. In case you haven’t taken a peek around your world lately, life is not that easy and getting more difficult by the day.

I’m dealing with the daily dung the best way I can. Sometimes I step directly in it, and if that happens all bets are off. I’d love to report happy thoughts every day but that’s just not how it goes. Still, I need to watch myself and try to be more aware that I do have readers.

I want to make this interesting for me, so hopefully those who do take time to read it get at least some entertainment from it. I’ve had quite a few people tell me they’re living their big showbiz dreams through me, even though it scares me to be under that much pressure.

It’s hard enough to make it through each day myself without having others watching me from afar, armchair quarterbacking. I do appreciate it greatly when someone takes time to send a personal note though – even if they do think I’m a dead dog’s dingle berry. It‘s ok.

Whenever you are reading this, I hope you grow greatly from my goofs and use them as inspiration to improve your own life. I’m just a squirrel, searching for a nut. No – actually, I’m a nut searching for a life. Hopefully, my journey can be a road map for someone else.

The Marketing Switch Is On

November 29, 2011

Sunday November 27th, 2011 – Kenosha, WI

Marketing, marketing and more marketing. That has to be my focus if I’m going to have more than a donut’s chance at a fat farm of finding financial and/or creative freedom. I’ve slugged it out way too hard for way too long in life to still be a no name ham and egger.

If I want different and better results, and I absolutely do, I’ll have to apply different and better tactics and strategies than the ones I’ve been using all this time. They’re not getting me where I want to go, and I flat out will not accept that. I have much higher standards.

It’s time to take an honest look at where I am, why I’m there, and what I can do to move to where I want to be. I’m glad I bottomed out with that benefit show last weekend, as it’s forcing a radical change in me just as my diabetes diagnosis sparked a complete change in my diet and exercise habits. The fire is lit, and I can’t go back. I’m SO sick of struggling.

I’ve paid my dues and put in my time, and I’m not happy with having to struggle to pay my bills every month. Nobody knows who I am, and that’s hurting my business. I need to develop a core of fans who come out to see ME. Period. It doesn’t matter who the ‘me’ is.

It could be Dobie Maxwell, the standup comic. It could be ‘Mr. Lucky’, an exaggeration of me put forth as a comedic caricature. That could be manifested as a live comedian or in a comic strip, or both. It could be ‘The King of Uranus’, a completely made up character.

Who or what really isn’t important, it’s cultivating that draw. I need a significant group of fans that I can service by providing entertainment they want to see. I need to enter into a segment of public awareness that attracts people to sample what I do so I can hopefully get them to buy the concept I’m selling and make me a solid revenue generating entity.

This has nothing to do with art, or anything that resembles art. I’ve tried that, and it isn’t working. The public doesn’t know what’s good, and I doubt if they ever did. They won’t put out good money for something they haven’t heard of, and I guess I can’t blame them.

Some people would say I’m selling out. Those people would be correct. Year after year of hoping someone will ‘discover’ me and ‘make me a star’ has taken a significant toll on my psyche. It’s not going to happen, and if I want to make any real money I need to put a marketing plan together and find a way to execute it. I’m now in show business. Finally.

I don’t have an answer as to what I’ve been in until now. Maybe it was a quarter century of spring training. Maybe it was fantasy camp. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t a show business career. I’ve had a job, but it’s never been a career. This all has to change. Today.

No longer am I going to piss and moan about the past. It’s over, and I did what I did. It wasn’t all bad, and in fact a lot of it was very good, it just hasn’t allowed me to end up at a point I’d like to be. I guess I didn’t really have a crystal clear picture in my mind of the results I wanted, but I know it wasn’t this. I’m going to shift gears and reset my course.
I know I’m not the first entertainer to do this, and I won’t be the last. I’ve heard all sorts of stories of other people who have decided to be commercial and done it. One of the best examples is George Wagner, who transformed himself  by becoming ‘Gorgeous George’.

He revolutionized professional wrestling, and was a national sensation in the 1950s. He wasn’t particularly big or muscular, he was just a journeyman worker – much like I am. If he wouldn’t have taken the chance and rolled the dice, nobody would know of him today.

His notoriety had NOTHING to do with his ability to wrestle. Well, maybe a little, as he had to have some level of competence to make a living at it. But there were a lot of others struggling along exactly like he was. He used showmanship to break away from the pack.

Kiss is the ultimate example in music. They took my generation by storm. I tried to like them, but to me their music was so horrible I never could. I thought they were spectacular showmen and I still do, but their music stinks worse than ever in my opinion. Does what I think matter? Hardly. Zillions of their rabid fans worldwide have made them filthy rich.

Their music doesn’t matter, it’s the total package. They took a little from Alice Cooper, and a little from the glam rock scene in the early ‘70s and shaped their own identity out of it all. They sold it extremely well, and there were more than enough buyers who ate it up.

Just because I’m not a fan of someone’s product doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of them as marketers and entrepreneurs. I recently bought a video documentary of Kiss’s comeback tour in 1998 on DVD called ‘The Second Coming’. I watched it today and I was riveted.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley might not be setting the world on fire being musicians, but they’re as brilliant of marketers as I’ve ever seen. Their customer service skills are up there with anyone, and I learned by watching them work. They listen to their fan base, and give them exactly what they want. They’re also magnificent merchandisers. It’s a brand.

Gene Simmons said they wanted to be “The band we never saw or heard on stage,” and that really resonated with me. They wanted every part of their show to please the fans that paid to see them, and how smart was that? Why please the peers? They don’t buy tickets.

I don’t care if their music stinks, I’d still go see them in a heartbeat now. I’m not sure if they’re even touring anymore, but I seem to recall them doing a ‘farewell tour’ more than a few times. Brett Favre came back less times than Kiss, but so what? Their fans love it.

I want fans that love what I do too. I want to sell out top venues and have people line up to see me and go crazy when I walk out on stage. I want to give them a fantastic show and exceed their expectations, then I want to personally thank them as they purchase products.

I was and am a fan of a lot of people, and I want to have a chance to have group of fans of my own. Gorgeous George did it. So did Kiss. So did a lot of others. Now it’s my turn. What’s the gimmick that will make this happen? I’m not sure yet, but I’m going to find it.

Nothing Personal

November 27, 2011

Saturday November 26th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

If there’s one thing I’ve been able to do successfully in life, it’s absorb large amounts of punishment. I challenge anyone to find another guy alive who has taken more direct shots than me without becoming a raging boozer, addict or go off on a six state shooting spree.

That doesn’t mean I claim to be better than anyone. I absolutely don’t. All I’m saying is, I’ve taken my share of lumps and then some. It can get very frustrating, and I tend to let it rip when it comes to venting. Too few ever tell it like it is. I call life as I see it. Why not?

I’m not always right, but many times I am. When I’m right I don’t have to rub it in, and when I make a mistake I have the balls and intelligence to admit it. That’s another thing I see far too few do. It’s not easy to admit when one is wrong, but I find it very liberating.

I am a seeker of truth. It can be unpleasant at times, but I’d rather face that than wallow in a delusional fantasy world not based in reality. It’s easy to point a finger, but when the problem lives in the mirror it’s a lot more personal. Facts are facts, and if I’m at fault I’d rather admit it quickly and openly and get to what needs fixing. Ego needs to be set aside.

The fact is, I made a mistake to take the low turnout of my benefit show last Saturday as personally as I did. I thought people cared about helping causes as much as I do, but that’s just not true unfortunately. I also thought I could depend on those who said they’d attend, but that was wrong too. I’m not the only one who has made this mistake, and life goes on.

So, what now? As difficult to digest as it may be, I need to put it all behind me without bitterness and press on. In the future, I need to not take anything personally at any time – a daunting challenge when it all falls apart. The truth is, we all choose how we react to life.

There are a lot more people way more disappointed than me who take things a lot more personally than I ever did who never learn to let any of it go. I’ve been hit so many times, I can’t hold on anymore. It’s like being on a ship in a hurricane – being angry at one wave won’t do any good. There are plenty more right behind it waiting to inflict more damage.

I’ve been down before, and I’ve come back before. Nothing is new, except details of the situation. This last ordeal wasn’t my worst by far, but it did catch me by surprise. I was on a big time roll, and hit a speed bump dead on at full speed. I admit, it rocked my world.

I’m better now, and even though it didn’t please me to witness, sparse attendance at the Will Durst show last night let me know I’m not alone. He’s paid more dues and been at it  far longer than I have, and he still can’t fill a larger venue. No offense to Will in the least.

The truth is, the general public doesn’t love live standup comedy as much as comedians do. Fact. Nothing personal. Another issue is ineffective marketing. If people don’t realize it’s there, how can they judge if it’s good or bad? It has nothing to do with anything other than becoming a master marketer, which I need to do or I’m out of business. Soon. Fact.

Will Durst Was First

November 27, 2011

Friday November 25th, 2011 – Milwaukee, WI

No comedy work this weekend, but I’m not upset. I could use the money, but I’ll take a chance to relax a little and recharge my batteries. I’ve been off my game lately and feeling pretty frazzled. It’s part of the ups and downs of being an entertainer, and life in general.

The entertainment business is really changing, as is life in general. It was difficult in the past, but now it’s really tough to squeeze out a respectable living. There are no rules these days. Nothing is special anymore, and people can see everything for free on the internet.

Getting a significant number of strangers in a room for any reason is getting to be nearly impossible, and that’s a real problem. Everyone is going in every direction, and who has a clue how to reach them all? Buying ads on radio, TV or newspapers used to be the way to do it. Now, there’s not enough bang for the buck in that. Niche marketing is the new king.

Will Durst is a perfect example. I’ve always liked and respected Will, one of a very tiny handful of comedians who has carved out a niche as a political satirist. It’s hard enough to do comedy full time, but what he does is even harder. That’s why I respect him so much.

Not only are audiences getting dumber by the minute, they don’t keep up with news and current events like they used to. Everyone used to watch Walter Cronkite or read the same newspapers, but it’s a whole new ballgame now. Finding common ground is a challenge.

Will is one of my comedy heroes for several reasons. He’s from Milwaukee, but moved to San Francisco years ago. I remember seeing an article about him before I ever started in comedy, and it intrigued me that there was the possibility to earn a living by telling jokes.

I’ve gotten to know Will personally over the years, and really learned a lot both onstage and off. He’s smart, hip, funny and a total pro. Watching him work has always been a fun way to learn, both about comedy and what’s going on in the news. He never disappoints.

Although he’s been on national television through the years, I never thought Will Durst has gotten his due. I hate to say it, but I think he’s too smart – at least for the masses. I’ve never understood why he doesn’t have his own show like a John Stewart, who’s also very talented in my opinion. Not many comedians can pull off smart, funny AND be current.

I drove up to Milwaukee tonight to watch Will perform at some pizza joint on the south side, traditionally not the hippest part of town. The words ‘hip’ and ‘Milwaukee’ usually aren’t used in the same sentence, much like ‘Cubs’ and ‘champions’. They’re opposites.

Will likes to come home for Thanksgiving every year, and likes to work if he can. I can relate to that, and in my opinion he should be able to name a venue and it should sell out in advance. He used to work the various comedy clubs, but most of them were too stupid or greedy to build him into the draw he could and should be. That, or the joint has closed. Comedy clubs in Milwaukee have always been inferior and run poorly, and they still are.
That’s a shame, but the Milwaukee comedians of every generation have had to swallow hard and get used to it. We’re the bastard children of the national comedy scene, and it’s a total embarrassment. Any talent that starts in Milwaukee has to leave to earn their stripes.

I used to think it was just me, but it totally isn’t. I’ve heard entertainers of all genres say what a tough nut Milwaukee is to crack, and they’re right. It’s known for cheapness of the venues and tightness of the audiences, but those of us from there didn’t have any choice.

That’s where we were born, and that’s where we started. Durst saw it first, then I came along. We both chose to leave, but have survived quite nicely. Frank Caliendo is another example. Both Frank and Will are from Waukesha, which is even smaller, but we all had to leave home to find our way. And, we’ve all clashed with the local clubs in our time.

Club owners have never been known for being kind hearted benevolent souls, but there have been an especially nasty bunch of collective slime who have slithered into existence on the Milwaukee scene. I’ve said it before, and it’s true – the ones with money never had  brains, and the ones with brains never had money. It’s been decades of deep dysfunction.

Most Milwaukee comedians feel like neglected children of a bad divorce, and we don’t have anyone who understands what we’ve been through other than each other. Will Durst should be celebrated for his remarkable accomplishments, and treated as a local celebrity.

But he isn’t. Especially not by the comedy clubs. None of us have ever been treated like anything other than low rent whores who will work for peanuts and can be exploited over and over without consequence. If one of us happened to lip off, some new meat would be there and the abuse cycle perpetuated. It’s like that other places, but not like Milwaukee.

There’s always been a particularly rotten situation there, and those of us who have been exposed to it have a callous around our soul from the abuse we’ve taken. We always think we’re going to be the one who will rise above it, but it never happens. All of us get stung.

All we ever wanted was to make people laugh and have a place to come home to. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is, so we’ve just learned to go around the maggot bastards who have run their clubs into the ground and try to book our own shows. It’s the only way to get any kind of relief from the insanity, but it also opens up a whole new can of worms.

Now it’s back to the issue of putting fannies in seats. Not easy to do, but I’d rather work for myself at this point than associate with the club scene. I’ve been scorched enough, and most other locals on all levels feel the same way. Milwaukee just isn’t a comedy hotbed.

Richard Halasz is a Milwaukee comedian who still lives there and promotes shows on a semi regular basis. He and Will are friends, and Richard has booked Thanksgiving shows for several years out of necessity because the clubs won’t do it. He works extremely hard to promote the shows, but the turnout tonight was not many more than I had for the show I did last Saturday. Will was hilarious, as usual. I wish more people were there to enjoy it.

 

Grateful Or Dead

November 25, 2011

Thursday November 24th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I always consider every day to be Thanksgiving, and I mean it. With all the insanity I’ve endured, it’s truly a miracle that I’m still breathing. I should have been dead several times over by now, but even with all the bad breaks I’ve caught I still have had a hell of a run.

My disappointments are many, but I’ve still had enough spectacular moments wrapped up in all the bad times to at least keep it interesting. It could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse too. Every day is bonus time, and it’s up to me to write my ending.

I’m trying my best to live a productive life, but I’m not even close to where I think I can be and it’s really bothering me. I’m struggling with things that seem so unnecessary to me like keeping my bills paid and organizing my time that what’s truly important gets lost in the shuffle. I want to squeeze the most out of my potential, not squeak out a meager life.

Something’s wrong with this planet, and I don’t like the way things are going. Evil and stupidity seem to be growing like weeds and thriving, while kindness and knowledge are getting trampled on the floor. Has it always been this way, or am I just noticing it more?

Whatever the case, I’m noticing big time and it scares me. Is this the only planet where this is how life works, or is the whole universe tainted with insanity? I sure hope not, and if there is reincarnation I want to go on record and say I don’t want to come back here.

Too late for now though. I am here, and whatever amount of time I have left is growing shorter by the day. It’s up to me to make the most of that time, however long it is. I’m not guaranteed anything, and that’s actually fine with me. If I die tomorrow, I accept my fate.

What I refuse to accept is not giving my all, and being honest I don’t think I ever have. I have had to survive and live like a cockroach for so long it’s taken away a chance to focus on creative projects so I can not only really live but also make other people’s lives better.

What if I could have written and starred in movies like Charlie Chaplin or had the radio show I always dreamed of that would entertain people? That would have been a win/win for everyone, but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. I was close in radio, but the stars didn’t get totally aligned so here I sit wondering how I’m going to pay rent next month.

Still, I’m thankful for the good things I have – especially the non material things. Actual possessions mean less and less as I get older, but things like teaching comedy classes and hanging out with good people mean more and more. I would love to have a family to call my own, but that doesn’t look like it will ever happen. Maybe it’s not my lesson to learn.

What I’m feeling inside is a need to show more kindness. Life may not have dealt me a great hand, but it’s the only one I have and I have to play it. I want to leave this place and know I gave it my best shot. I can use significant improvement, and I hope I can leave this wacky planet better than I found it. That shouldn’t be too hard – this place is a nut house.

Thank You Tim Cuprisin

November 25, 2011

Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I was stunned and saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Tim Cuprisin today. Tim wrote a column about local media in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for years, and would always give me a generous plug whenever I had any radio career developments to report.

I’m not going to lie and say we were close personal friends, but the few times I did meet him in person he was very friendly and I enjoyed interacting with him. He was intelligent, and interested in learning about the comedy business. My memories of him are pleasant.

He was only 53 years old, which is way to young to die in my opinion. Apparently, he’d been sick for quite some time and I had no idea. The last I’d heard he’d moved on to a job at  http://www.onmilwaukee.com after taking a buyout from the Journal Sentinel. He’s isn’t the only newspaper person to move on in recent times, and I was glad to see he’d found a gig.

I was always grateful for the mentions in his column, and I made it a point to thank him whenever he did it. I offered him tickets to a show whenever he wanted, but he told me he couldn’t accept because it would be a conflict of interest since he was a reporter. I wasn’t trying to do anything but say thanks, but I respected him even more for being so ethical.

I’m glad I took the time to thank him, because at least I got to let him know how much I appreciated his kindness. Nobody ever thinks it’s going to be the last time there’ll be any contact with a particular person, and there are meaningful feelings left unsaid. Too late.

Sometimes it’s something profound. Sometimes it’s something simple but emotionally powerful like “I love you.” Sometimes it’s something simple like “Thank you.” Too many people take it for granted that another person knows what the first person is feeling. It has to be said or written, and it has to be done while the person is alive or it‘s wasted energy.

How many times has someone died unexpectedly, and the first thing the living think of is the very last encounter they had? Was it positive? Was there an argument? Whatever it was, that was the last chance there was in this lifetime to communicate with that person.

I was on good terms with Tim Cuprisin, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I feel badly he was so sick, and sure hope his pain was minimal. I had only pleasant memories and a positive opinion of him, but he won’t get a chance to know that now, and that doesn’t seem fair to me. Why does it take death to bring this out?

Duane Gay was another Milwaukee media person I knew, although not that well. We’d gone to a couple of Brewers games with our mutual friend Mark Shilobrit, and he was an unbelievably nice guy. When I heard he passed from cancer, I had the same exact feeling.

We shared some laughs at a ballgame, but weren’t close friends. Still, it ripped my heart out to hear he died so young and in so much pain. The same with Tim Cuprisin. It hurts to hear of this, and I send all good vibes to his family and friends. I wish this life was fair.

Remembering Rodney

November 23, 2011

Tuesday November 22nd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Born on this date in 1921 was my absolute favorite standup comedian of all time, Jacob Cohen. Most people don’t know him by that name, as he later changed it to Jack Roy – his legal name at the time of his passing in 2004. His stage name was Rodney Dangerfield, an American icon and in my opinion the best comedy technician ever. Rodney was the king.

I never get sick of studying Rodney’s body of work. He had it all – a great look, rhythm, excellent jokes and one of if not the best hook lines of all time “I get no respect.” Rodney had style, and after many years of struggle it resonated loudly with the American public.

Rodney was a huge hit with my generation from his appearance in the film Caddyshack, and also from his many appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He had a strong following in my circle of friends growing up, and I was as big a fan as any of them.

I remember buying his album titled ‘No Respect’ when I was in high school and playing it over and over, both for myself and my friends, and laughing each time. I’ll still pull out the CD version every once in a while and it still makes me laugh out loud. It’s a classic.

Rodney had a huge career, one of the biggest of the 20th century, but he sure did have to struggle to get there. He started early like I did, then quit for several years to sell siding so he could feed his family, and then got back into it and his star eventually rose. He plugged and slugged and hung in there for years, and I’m sure he had doubts as to if he’d ever hit.

When he did, he exploded. His appearance in Caddyshack was a home run, and people I know still quote his lines in it to this day. I was at a friend’s house a few months ago for a football game, and there were about ten guys there around my age. During a commercial he popped in Caddyshack, and we all giggled like school girls at Rodney all over again.

My career has paralleled Rodney’s in many ways, except for the pesky success part. My natural rhythm is similar to Rodney’s, but I didn’t consciously do it. Yes, I listened to his album as a kid, but I listened to every comedy album I could find and I’m nothing like the majority of those people. Rodney and I are from similar pedigree, just like musicians are.

Comedians have pedigree too, and I teach it in my classes. Robin Williams’ style is from Jonathan Winters. Jim Carrey’s style is from Jerry Lewis. Johnny Carson came from Jack Benny. They don’t do each other’s jokes, but their bloodlines intersect. I’m from Rodney.

When I first heard that, it made me cringe. I wasn’t trying to steal from Rodney, even if I was a huge fan. I wanted to be me, but people often pointed out that I reminded them of Rodney and they still do. I’ve now learned to embrace it, as it’s a fantastic compliment.

I popped in some DVDs of Rodney today and laughed all over again. He’s still the king in my opinion, and always will be. Getting to meet him was a major thrill in my life, and I should be so lucky as to have somebody still laughing at my jokes 90 years after my birth.

Hoping For Hope

November 22, 2011

Monday November 21st, 2011 – Chicago, IL

Well, I sure didn’t expect my morale and self esteem to dip down this low this quickly – and stay there for this long. I’ve had disappointments before, in fact a lifetime jam packed with them, but this particular setback sent me over the edge for some reason. I’m a mess.

It snapped something deep inside, and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what that is. I thought I had a magnificent mojo and a tremendous groove for the last few months, and I did – probably my best ever, but this came out of nowhere and kicked me in the crotch.

It wasn’t just the fact that a bunch of people I thought were friends let me down. It goes deeper than that. I admit I have abandonment issues, and this rattled my cage in the worst way. Whatever tweak I have deep inside took a direct hit, and now there are aftershocks.

My mother left when I was a baby, and I’ve tried to deal with that my whole life and not let it get me down. For the most part I think I’ve dealt with it as well as anyone can, but in times like this I don’t know how to handle it. I always wondered what family life could be like if we’d have had a chance to at least know our mother, even if she didn’t live with us.

I’m sure it has to affect my brother and sister too as they’re older, but we haven’t talked in years so I have no idea how they feel. I’ve tried to make peace with them several times, but they want no part of it or me so here I sit with all this pent up garbage festering inside.

I’ve tried to ignore it, avoid it, work around it, but it’s still there. I remain that hurt little boy wondering where mommy went and why daddy is such a screaming meany and why I have to live with Grandma and Gramps while everyone else lives on together without me.

That’s the essence of the dent in my can, and even though I know I’m not alone or even the worst off, it still hurts and it’s still there – no matter how long ago it happened or what has happened since. Sometimes it all floats to the surface and stings, and this is that time.

This is why I feel a need to be in control all the time. If I’m pulling the strings, I know I won’t do anything intentionally to make this pain linger. I want people to laugh and enjoy themselves, myself included. I wish there was a strong family around for support, but that was never an option so I tried to make the best of my situation in whatever way I could.

On Saturday, when those people didn’t show up it went way deeper than a poor turnout at a comedy show. It was my family abandoning me all over again and that’s probably the most painful thing I can imagine, or ever want to. It makes me not want to live anymore.

If the people I thought were the closest to me don’t care, why would anyone else? I’m a wreck right now, and it’s been haunting me day and night since Saturday. What am I here for, and why do I have to keep getting kicked like this? I feel like I’m wasting everyone’s time, including my own. I wish I could just donate my organs to someone who could use them and lay down and go to sleep forever. What is the point of continuing this struggle?

I’m in a danger zone, and I know it. I don’t care if I live or die, and I know nobody else does either. Very few can relate to this kind of pain, but those who can know exactly what I’m feeling and it isn’t pretty. If I was a drinker, I’d be drunk and if I was an addict, I’d be high. I can see why those people do what they do, and I’m so glad I never took that road.

This is why the John Belushis of the world are found dead in hotel rooms. The dents in their can hit them square in the face like this did me and they get pushed over the edge for the last time. That’s where I am now, and I don’t know what I’m going to do to fight it.

My defenses are down, and just in time for the holidays too. That’s the last thing I need to have around me, but life doesn’t make it that easy. Hearing yet another Christmas ditty to remind me of my childhood might be all I need to get in my car and drive off that cliff.

This is all deep and dark and not for the squeamish. I wish life was one big Tupperware party, but it isn’t. We all have our particular nasties to deal with, but mine have never had much in common with the masses. I’m way out in deep space past Uranus, all by myself.

That’s where I feel I am now, and I don’t know what to do or where to go or who to talk to about any of this. What shocks me is it all happened so fast and unexpectedly. I was on a major upswing and things were looking up. I felt bulletproof and ready to tame the lions of life. Now I’m ready to suck a bullet, but I don’t want to leave a mess to be mopped up.

I wish I knew what would cheer me up right now. I’ve had quite a few people call to try to console me, but they’re making it worse. I’m not answering my phone to avoid dealing with any of that anymore. I’m sure they mean well, but they just pour gasoline on my fire.

I’m not a violent person, and I don’t see myself hurting anyone else. Maybe this kind of pain is what sets off all those workplace shootings that seem to be getting to be a frequent occurrence in recent years. I’m sorry it happens, but that’s not where my path is headed.

I just want the pain to stop. I want to feel needed and appreciated by SOMEONE on this planet, but I sure don’t feel it after Saturday. I thought after all these many years of paying my dues I’d be able to fill a room in my home town to raise a decent buck for a charity.

Now I’m sitting here with everything in disarray wondering what to do next. I’m out of guesses, and out of energy to try something else. A day job is not the answer, but what do I do to earn a living? I don’t know, and it hurts to think about it. My brain needs a reboot.

Everything hurts right now, and I don’t have faith in anything or anybody. The logic in me says it will pass, and it will. But when? That I don’t know. Until then, I have to circle the wagons and get through this however I can. Putting a bullet in my head won’t end it.

It would end this life, but there are still things left undone. Despite all this ugliness, I’m a good person inside and I know I can help others who are even worse off than me. That’s what I need to focus on, but it’s SO hard right now. I sure could use a little ray of hope.

Still Stewing

November 21, 2011

Sunday November 20th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I’m still beyond hurt that the benefit show was such a flop last night. It’s a major slap in the face, and I feel like my entire life has been a waste of breath. I don’t claim to be better than anyone else, but I do think I’m better than last night. This isn’t how life is supposed to work, and it’s bubbling in my belly and burning like a bad burrito. I’m really bummed.

What else do I have to do to get people to show up? I know I have ability, and when I’m in front of an audience that’s already there I can bring it with the best of them. But getting a group to show up to see me is like trying to round up rabbis for a pork producer’s rally.

All I was trying to do was raise awareness for what I think is a worthy cause. Even if I’d not been diagnosed with diabetes myself, it is a major epidemic in this country and needs to be addressed. I’d have been glad to do a benefit even if it didn’t effect me personally.

Being a good person is way more important to me than career success, and that could be a major part of my problem. I’d rather help someone else than myself more often than not and that’s why I take this so personally. I am always giving of myself or trying to, and not getting it back when I ask for it really makes me feel lower than a pregnant ant’s belly.

I wasn’t asking those people to do anything but show up and have a good time. Many of them I’d done favors for throughout the years, and they weren’t necessarily fun but I did it anyway. They said they’d come, and they didn’t. I’m sorry, but that really pisses me off.

I’m all kinds of things. Disappointed. Disillusioned. Embarrassed. Hurt. I thought I had a list of people I could count on when I needed it, but I guess I don’t. People always try to make excuses like “Oh, it’s deer hunting weekend” or “The weather had something to do with it” or whatever the excuse of the week is. I’ve been hearing those for a lifetime now.

The market has spoken, and I guess I’ve been too stupid to hear it. Whatever I’m selling isn’t what a large portion of the public wants apparently. Their silence is deafening, and it finally sank in after last night. The 30 people that did show up were wonderful, and I love every one of them – but I could have called them up personally and all gone out to dinner.

What stings so much is that I tried to get the word out to friends and strangers alike. My appearance on ‘The Morning Blend’ was a great plug, and I’m very grateful for the strong support from Tiffany and Molly the hosts and Katie the producer. They were all fantastic. I’m also grateful for my plug on The D-List on AM 540 ESPN Radio. Thank you, gents.

So why didn’t the public show up, or the literally hundreds of others I personally had on my contact list? I just can‘t figure it out. They said they‘d be there to support, but it didn’t  happen. It makes me really think about my direction and wonder what to do next. Twenty plus years is a long time to devote to chasing any dream, and maybe it’s time to give it up and get a day job. But where? What am I supposed to do now? This rocked my world, and I don’t know how to react. I’ve been struggling for a lifetime, but this was the last straw.

Diabetes Dejection

November 21, 2011

Saturday November 19th, 2011 – Milwaukee, WI

I challenge anyone to attempt to fill a randomly chosen room with at least 100 strangers or more for any reason. I’ve been doing my damnedest for going on a quarter of a century, and it I’m still not able to pull it off. It’s beyond frustrating, and I’m ready to eat a bullet.

It doesn’t sound that difficult, but neither does winning the lottery. All anyone has to do is have a ticket with the correct combination of numbers on it and bingo – instant success. It doesn’t seem that difficult until someone tries it. Then they see how hard it actually is.

I’ve been searching to find any human way possible to fill a room with people to see me perform a standup comedy show for a lifetime, and I’ve failed in more ways than Wile E. Coyote. The latest attempt tonight blew up in my face once again, and I’m taking it hard.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and I didn’t realize that until this year when I was diagnosed with it myself. I know I probably should have already known, but I didn’t. I wanted to perform a benefit show so others might become educated about the disease.

MILLIONS of Americans are going to be dealing with diabetes either first hand or with someone very close to them in the next few years, and I know there’s a need to spread the word about what to do to help prevent it. It’s not necessarily a death sentence, but it does require a major lifestyle adjustment that most people aren’t expecting. I know I wasn’t.

I thought it was a no brainer to do a show to bring attention to the disease, and I thought I’d be able to pack a room for a good cause with little effort. It wasn’t about me at all, and I wasn’t promoting it as such. I just wanted to donate my time for a night to help others.

HA! Was I wrong. After calling in every favor I could with every local person I’ve ever known in my home town, all I could get to show up was about 30 people. I was absolutely crushed, and still am. I never call in favors, and chose my event very carefully. It’s not my nature to ask people for anything, but tonight I made an exception. This was for a cause.

I had a long list of people I thought were good friends not only promise they’d be there, but that they would ‘pack that place’ with as many of their friends and family as possible and make it a killer event. The only thing that got killed was my dignity and self esteem.

This really hurts, and it shows me where I am on their list of priorities. If they couldn’t come, that’s fine. I’d understand. But why not only tell me they were coming, but make it a point to say they’d bring a crowd with them? I counted on them, and they let me down.

It wasn’t about me, but I’m taking it personally. The venue still charged us for the room and by the time it was all over I lost money with expenses of time and gas and what’s left is an embarrassment to present to the Diabetes Association. I feel like jumping off a cliff. I got on TV and radio and promoted this like it was my last show ever. I feel like I failed, and my whole life has been a waste of time. I guess I should have learned to drive a truck.