Archive for February, 2012

Detroit Leaning

February 28, 2012

Saturday February 25th, 2012 – Detroit, MI

“Ain’t no party like a DEE-troit party, ‘cause a DEE-troit party don’t stop.” I remember seeing a band from Detroit once that kept repeating that riff line over and over throughout their set. I’m sure they got it from somewhere else, but it sounded fresh when they did it.

Hard as it may be to believe, today was packed with nonstop fun from morning to night. In Detroit. Michigan. Really. And I’m not on drugs. If every week on the road could be as much fun as this off stage, I’d be in a much better mindset to have better shows on stage.

Phil Dunham was unbelievably nice to put me up at his expense at the Townsend Hotel. He has a great relationship there, and the whole staff knows him. He’s a regular at the bar and restaurant, and they treat him like he owns the place. The service was top of the line.

Phil showed up at 9am to have breakfast, and we talked about comedy for a while until my comedy writer friend Bill Mihalic showed up to join us. Bill and Phil are my two best friends in the Detroit area, and to get to hang out with both of them in one day was a treat.

Bill suggested we take a tour of ‘Hitsville’, the house that’s a Motown Museum located on West Grand Boulevard where Berry Gordy started in 1959. I’ve always wanted to take that tour, and I’m surprised in all the times I’ve been to Michigan I’d never ever done it.

Boy, have I been missing out. For an admission of only $10 per person, we were treated to one of the best tourist attractions I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Our tour guide was absolutely amazing, as he told us fact after fascinating fact, frequently singing songs we’d all heard all of our lives. That guy was on his game, and made a great experience greater.

That alone made my drive well worth it, but we weren’t finished touring. Bill took us to the Cobo Convention Center for a hot rod car show called ‘Autorama’. I absolutely love a good classic and hot rod car show, and this was it. It doesn’t get any better for a car nut.

Great friends, great events. What a combination! We laughed and learned and hung out all day, and we all knew this was a special experience. One of those two events would’ve made my whole month, but both on the same day with such good friends was a huge deal. These are the kind of days to savor as they happen, knowing they’ll be stellar memories.

Then there was the scorcher of a comedy show at Portofino’s restaurant in Wyandotte at night. Bill had to attend an acting class, and couldn’t attend. He’s branching out from just writing jokes, and doing very well. He’s had success selling jokes to Jay Leno regularly in addition to his own daily “Bill’s Pills” which can be seen at http://www.highimpacthumor.com.

Everything about today was exactly how I pictured my life to be. I had fun with friends all day, and then a red hot show in front of a full crowd at night. Does life get any better? Even a few of the hottie waitresses came over to tell us how much they enjoyed our show. I’m telling you, Detroit as a whole gets a bad rap. I can see why Prince Fielder chose here.

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Motown Mystique

February 26, 2012

Friday February 24th, 2012 – Birmingham, MI

I know it sounds goofy, but I always look forward to coming to Detroit. Yes, some parts of the city proper are downright frightening, but the area as a whole has a unique vibe that I really like. There are some very affluent suburbs where the people are quite friendly, and an ever so slight Canadian influence since Windsor, ON is right next door. I like the mix.

Had I grown up here instead of Milwaukee, I think I would have fit right in and enjoyed myself. I love the car culture and soul music, and Detroit has a lot to offer in both of those departments. They have fun here, and there’s a sense of civic pride I feel whenever I visit.

I never felt that kind of upbeat exciting energy in Milwaukee growing up. That place is full of beer swilling Germans who care way too much about keeping their lawns trimmed and cooking sausage. It’s very conservative, and I guess there’s a charm to that too but for my tastes I’ll take Detroit any day of the week. There are faults, but overall I enjoy it here.

How crazy must it have been during the boom years in the ‘50s and ‘60s when they had the world by the ball joints? I bet there were some star studded wild parties in those days, and nobody ever thought it would end. Then the ‘70s came and the party lights turned out.

In a way, the comedy business has a similar story line. The ‘80s were the boom years of comedy clubs, and everyone thought that would last forever too. Well, very few things do with the exception of the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Everything else fades.

Detroit and the whole state of Michigan had a killer comedy scene at one time. I worked all kinds of shows in all kinds of venues for all kinds of bookers throughout the course of my tenure, and I hope to keep doing it for years to come. Michiganders relate to my style.

That being said, there was no show tonight but I made the drive anyway so I’d be all set for tomorrow. There’s supposed to be a full house, so that’s always nice to hear. Losing a day’s pay really isn’t my idea of a fun weekend, but I can’t do anything about it now. I am considering myself lucky, as the whole weekend could have been taken out on low notice.

Flukes like that do happen, and they’re never fun. I have to zip my lip and be happy I’ve still got a gig tomorrow night. Nothing says the world owes me a living, and that could’ve easily fallen out on short notice too. In these times, I have to be grateful for whatever I get and I am – even though those cancellations really poke a hole in the party plans. It’s nuts.

My friend Phil Dunham is on the show tomorrow, and I’m glad he is. He’s trying to put a full time act together and be a full time comic. He’s got an amazing passion for the craft and a work ethic that he got from building his personal financial business for many years.

Phil was kind enough to put me up in one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s in the suburb of Birmingham, MI and it’s called ‘The Townsend Hotel’. Wow, what a joint. Phil bought me a delicious dinner too, and didn’t have to. He and Detroit both have class.

Rolling The Dice Of Destiny

February 24, 2012

Thursday February 23rd, 2012 – Palatine, IL/Kenosha, WI

I’m rolling the dice of destiny, not once but two more times. One is considerably riskier than the other, but the rewards potential is much bigger too. Without risk, there can be no reward. I’ve always realized that, and I’ve always been willing to take the consequences.

Most if not all of the risks I’ve taken have blown up in my face, but that doesn’t mean it was a total failure. I have learned a lot, and that’s part of the program as well. Experience can be a cruel teacher, but also a good one. Lessons learned hard are lessons learned well.

That sounds like something Confucious should have said. Maybe he did, or maybe I am having a fortune cookie flashback. Either way, two completely separate projects I’ve been working on had major steps completed today and I‘m delighted. I feel like a proud father.

The first one is the wardrobe for the King of Uranus. There’s a costume shop going out of business in Palatine, IL and they’re selling off their rental costumes. I took a major risk and bought several articles of clothing I won’t be able to wear anywhere else, for anything else – unless I decide to start a professional wrestling organization or a gay pride parade.

I’ve now got a world class supply of capes, crowns, full and partial length furs and even a glittery gold pair of pants with a vest to match. I know it’s crazy, but it’s also fun. I love the fact that I took the chance and have now jumped in with both feet. Uranus is a reality!

Well, it’s a potential reality. I still have to do something with the character, but I can see  it starting to take a definite shape. I have a nice rotation of outfits to wear in videos, and it will get more defined as the process evolves. This was a major step, and I‘m glad I did it.

I took a big financial risk by doing it, but I’ve done that before. I still remember vividly when I bought a wrestling ring in 1991. I spent my last penny on it, and everyone thought I was insane. Maybe I was, but I sure had fun promoting wrestling matches. And I learned a whole lot about a whole lot of things. I didn’t get rich in money, but it was still worth it.

I know this will be the same thing. I’ll make mistakes here too, but I’ll learn from them as well. And if it flops, so what? What’s going to happen, are they going to repossess the wardrobe of the King of Uranus? Have at it. At least they’ll have something to talk about on the way back to the office. In my mind, the only failure would be to not do this at all.

The other project that came together today was a finished version of my comedy DVD. Mark Gumbinger called to tell me he had advance copies of it in hand, and wanted me to drive to Kenosha to pick them up so I can start sending them out immediately. So I did.

This project was by far less risky, but still very important. I now have a completed DVD  that is over a full hour in length, clean in content and shot in HD so it can be used for TV if necessary. Mark did a splendid job, and we did it for a very affordable price. Today was a milestone on two fronts. The King of Uranus lives, as does ‘The Dented Can’ on DVD.

TV Times Three

February 24, 2012

Wednesday February 22nd, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL

Lots of quality media exposure today, so that’s a plus. Lots of stress getting everywhere, and that isn’t. Three opportunities happened to come together today, so I had to say yes to them all. Better to do all of them in one day and be tired than spread it out over three days and be overwhelmed. This was my day to play media star, so I dressed the part and did it.

My first stop was at Today’s TMJ 4 in Milwaukee to be a guest again on ‘The Morning Blend’ with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle. I love being on that show, as everyone goes out of their way to be nicer than nice. They make me feel like a big star every time I show up.

Kim Buchanan is the executive producer, and Katie Pinkowski is the producer that I’ve dealt with every time I’ve been on. They’re professionals, crystal clear in communication, and pleasant people to deal with. There’s never any lingering tension when I’m there, and that goes a long way to making for a successful appearance. They make it a total pleasure.

It’s not like that everywhere. The Bob and Tom radio show always had a tense and ugly vibe whenever I walked in that studio, and I felt pressure to have to perform immediately or get out. Not here. I feel very much at home, and always did. It’s much better this way.

The hosts Molly and Tiffany are excellent too. Not only are they both really nice to look at, they’re real people with human warmth. They both come over and hug me and mean it, not just some fake showbiz tripe. I’m a big fan of both of those ladies, and the show too.

My second stop was an interview with Jason Evans, founder of a website that promotes everything going on in the Milwaukee comedy scene. It’s http://www.mkefunny.com, and he’s put a tremendous amount of hard work into it.  I respect his effort. Jason wanted to know details about my upcoming C. Cardell Willis tribute show at Shank Hall on April 22nd.

He was also able to get Chris Barnes to show up, another veteran comedian who started even before I did. Chris and I are the same age, and he’s an amazingly talented performer. I think Chris is one of the most naturally gifted entertainers I’ve ever seen. He has a giant personality on stage, and audiences adore him. He has a magic that few others possess.

Jason brought Jeff Lampton along, another Milwaukee comedian I really like. I get him. He’s also a dented can, and has had a lot of off stage struggles that have been a frustrating hindrance to his development. Boy, can I relate to that. I’ll offer support however I can.

My last stop was in Chicago to be a guest on ‘The Guy Bauer Half Hour’, a funny show coincidentally hosted by Guy Bauer. We met at Zanies a while back as he wanted to know how to be funnier on his show and we recorded a piece. It was fun, and he’s a solid host.

This kid really gets it. He’s sharp as a tack, and has a fantastic attitude. I’m glad I did all three of these interviews today, even though it was a 17 hour day when it was all over. I’ll gladly do this every day if it’s with fun people like this. I felt good vibes in all directions.

Cancellation Frustration

February 24, 2012

Tuesday February 21st, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

And then…it all came crashing down. This whole survival thing is getting to be a rather nasty pursuit these days out here in the trenches – even nastier than usual. I for one am not fond of this developing trend, but my vote means about as much as flatulence from a flea.

Today I took two direct hits dead in the face financially within a half hour of each other, and as much as it hurts I have little to no recourse other than bend over and take it. This is not what I signed up for, but I’m too deep into it to quit. All I can do is hang on as long as I can and hope life gets better. It feels like I’m in the direct path of an oncoming tornado.

The first blow came when I was informed there was a fallout for a Friday night show in the Detroit area. I had originally booked a Friday and Saturday at a place I’ve done before and liked very much. Another comic books the shows, and he’s ethical and well respected by his peers. He does his best to create quality work for himself and others when he can.

It just so happened that this time, the Friday show fell through. It happens, and I knew it when I took the booking. It’s always a crap shoot in situations like this, and this is one of those times when the crap wins. It comes at a horrific time, but it goes with the territory.

Self employment is not for the squeamish. Circumstances come up, and getting angry is the worst thing anyone can do. We play the odds as entertainers, and this time I lost. I can whine about it, or I can move on. The bad part is, I still have to drive to Detroit to do only one show Saturday. It’s the same wear and tear on my car, but now for only half the pay.

I wasn’t even through letting that soak into my psyche when I received another message that caused my already sinking spirit to slide even deeper into the dung heap. I had both a show booked and weekend comedy class to teach in West Virginia of all places, and now it was no more apparently. It was booked months ago, and I assumed it was solid. Wrong.

Never assume ANYTHING, especially in the entertainment business. This really puts a monkey wrench into everything, as I already had that money spent. It was my cushion for the month of March’s expenses, and I was counting on it. Count no more. I’m devastated.

To make everything even more complicated, difficult and completely unpleasant, I was able to pick up a last minute fallout show in Blacksburg, VA from another booking agent for Wednesday to help defray my travel expenses. I was ecstatic at the time, as it appeared to be a fortuitous stroke of luck in my favor. Now I can’t cancel, and it’s a gigantic hassle.

I know that neither of these situations are anything personal against me, but they sure do wipe me out at the legs and knock me on my ass with a thud. I was counting on all of that money, but now I won’t get half of it. And I still have to make TWO long drives on top of everything. It’s the worst case scenario, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about any of it but I’m powerless to do anything. Some money is better than none, so what can I do? Still want to get into comedy? Think it’s a glamor job? It isn’t. I’m about ready to go deliver pizzas.

Einstein’s Hair Style

February 21, 2012

Monday February 20th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

Go, go, go. Run, run, run. Work, work, work. My life has played out like the plot from a ‘Dick and Jane’ 1st grade reader lately. I’m all over the place like Einstein’s hair style, and every day has been a constant race against the clock to squeeze in everything I need to do.

This isn’t how I think life should be, but since when has anybody including the universe cared about what I think? It’s how things are. It does make it a bit challenging to stop and smell life’s roses, and eventually I have to think I’ll burn out if I continue this hectic pace.

But there are just too many things I really like doing. I can’t make up my mind. Should I work on my on stage comedy act? Focus on finding more bookings? What about teaching more classes and getting my program online so I can help new comics all over the world?

It all sounds great, and I want to do all of that. But, I also love hosting ‘The Mothership Connection’ radio show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI and the whole show could stand some tweaking as well. It’s a lot of fun, but it could be a lot better if I put more effort into it.

And then there’s the King of Uranus. That’s my baby, and I love the thought of making that character FINALLY come to life after years of brewing in my head. It’s showing a lot of promise, and I feel more reaction to that than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s a thrill.

But wait a minute, I still have a ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst’ one man show to get off the ground. That’s a lot of fun too, and I know people will enjoy it if they grew up in Milwaukee like I did. If I find the right venue, it’s ready to go.

And people wonder why I’m single. Who has time for a steady girlfriend, much less get married or spawn any kids? I can barely find time to take women out for lunch or dinner, but I still manage to squeeze that in at least once in a while. My calendar is a heaping pile of things to do, and no matter how much I get done it seems like I’m not making progress.

That’s extremely frustrating, because I know it’s not true. I absolutely AM making a lot of progress, even though I don’t always get an opportunity to enjoy it. There’s always the next thing that needs my attention, and I admit I’m getting frazzled, frustrated and fed up.

I wish I had an easy solution. It’s easy to say I’m just going to focus on one thing, but it never works out in reality. I’ve got too many interests, and too many coins in various slot machines to narrow it down to just the one. I think I have to find a better system to make the most of what time I do have. I’m building most of these ideas from ground zero, and that devours my time and effort. Things are progressing slowly, but they are progressing.

And then there’s the C. Cardell Willis All Star Tribute Show on Sunday April 22nd at Shank Hall in Milwaukee. That’s a priority too, and has a shelf life. This will be my one chance to pay tribute to a mentor who made a lot of what I’m doing possible, because he helped me cut my chops. I can’t forget that, and I don’t. Lots going on. Full speed ahead.

Perfection vs. Improvement

February 21, 2012

Sunday February 19th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s time to take a step up. Again. In every facet of life. I’ve always said I don’t consider myself to be a perfectionist, but rather an ‘improvementist’. Chasing perfection will never produce the desired results, and is a futile pursuit in my opinion. It’s about improvement.

Steady and measurable improvement in every area of one’s life is a much more realistic goal, and very attainable with some concentrated effort. That’s what I’m shooting for, and it’s a never ending process. Just when one thing starts going well, something else needs to be tweaked. That’s how it is for everyone, so I’m not complaining. It’s how life plays out.

Days become weeks become months, years and decades. True success in life as a whole  is a cumulative effect. It’s a string of countless little victories strung together to produce a final big one. It’s a mosaic. I wish it hadn’t taken this long for me to grasp this, but it has.

That being said, I’m doing all I can to improve in all areas. It can be a daunting task, but what are the options? Some people just give up, and I can see why. Burying one’s head in a booze bottle or crack pipe might be a temporary fix, but it won’t get rid of the problem.

On the other hand, facing the hardness of life sober can also be overwhelming. Without any padding to numb the pain, life’s blows can be excruciating and also impede progress. It’s a constant battle to keep getting back up after getting knocked down again and again.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t get back up again, but others it feels like I’m bullet proof and can easily handle all the punishment life can throw at me and then some. Maybe I’m punch drunk after all these years, or just plain stupid with a little bit of naïve thrown in.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve absorbed a lot of punishment, but I’m also still in the game and not intimidated by anything or anyone. I’ve made it whole lot farther than anyone thought I would in life, and by all accounts I should be dead. Why am I still here?

I don’t know, but whether there’s a reason or not I’m going to make one. I don’t want to wander off into oblivion kicking and screaming like most of my family did. The image of my uncle who died this New Year’s Day screams loudly at me to make every day count.

If I’m going to keep improving as a whole person, I have to compartmentalize. Diet and exercise have to be a daily priority, but so do a lot of other things. Reading should be part of my daily routine, as should writing and creating. All these things suck up a ton of time.

So now it all boils down to the time management game again. It’s like a giant complex puzzle, and solving it would probably be easy if I had the cheat sheet. But I don’t. It feels like I’m wandering through life with both thumbs up my ass trying to hitch hike. I have to be ready to accept a ride when opportunity stops to pick me up, and that’s what I’m trying to do by looking to step everything up. I want my life to stand out in a crowd, and inspire other dented cans that there can indeed be a happy ending to a life that started out poorly.

Sax Appeal

February 21, 2012

Saturday February 18th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

I almost never like to not be performing on any given Saturday night, but this week will  go down as a rare exception. I had the most fortunate opportunity to see Bobby Keys play his famous saxophone live in Schaumburg, IL with ‘Hot Rocks’, a Rolling Stones tribute.

Any time I have a chance to check out a legend of any kind – especially live, I try to do it. I usually end up learning a lot, and also being thoroughly entertained during the entire process. Legends don’t get to be legends by accident. Success always leaves a few clues.

I really enjoyed being able to meet him with Mike Preston and Jim McHugh earlier this week. Standing behind the camera and hearing his fascinating show business stories was absolutely surreal. This guy walked the walk, and worked with rock’s biggest acts ever.

I greatly respect the fact he’s still out there playing live, and from what I saw and heard tonight he isn’t just going through the motions. He lit that joint up like a cheap cigar, and had everyone in the audience mesmerized from the first note. He can still bring the heat.

That’s what performers do. Musicians, comedians, actors, athletes – it doesn’t make any difference. Those who have ‘it’ in their blood, have it for life. The body might not always cooperate, but it’s in the soul and always will be. Live performing is a perpetual pursuit.

A delightful and spectacular benefit of standup comedy is, it can be done right up to and throughout the aging process. There aren’t many athletes over 40, but comedians can keep it going as long as they can stand and speak for 45 minutes. Our desire never goes away.

It doesn’t go away for athletes either, but the body can’t keep up after a while. All most comedians have to do physically is hold a one pound microphone. It’s not that stressful in a physical way, even though sometimes mentally it can fry an ostrich egg on one’s skull.

If Bobby Keys was stressed in any way, he sure didn’t show it. He walked in there with his ax ready to go and a look of calm confidence on his face, and when it was his turn, he stepped up and showed everyone why they were there. He commanded that stage from the start, and it was a joy to watch. I heard every year he’s spent on the road in his first song.

Of course, the song was ‘Brown Sugar’. I’m sure he’s played it at least a time or twelve before. Still, he leaned into it and blew sweet noises through that horn that few if anybody else within six states could have matched with an entire army of musicians. What a talent. If nobody else appreciated how much ability that guy has, I sure did. It was worth the trip.

Mike and Jim got the footage they needed for Mike’s ‘Psychobabble’ show, and I didn’t have to do anything but sit back and enjoy the night – which I did. Music is not something I claim to know anything about, but I do know entertainment and I’m glad I got to see one of the best ever practice his craft in person. He’s been doing it longer than I’ve been alive, and I’m rapidly approaching full blown geezer-hood. This was a lesson in showmanship.

Twenty Years Too Late

February 18, 2012

Friday February 17th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

Oh, how I wish I could live my life over again and make smarter decisions. I wish there would be some kind of a loud warning alarm that goes off right before a person was about to make an epic blunder that would take years to live down. But there isn’t. And it stinks.

It sure would save a lot of wasted time and energy, not to mention deep dark depression mixed with sorrow and sadness that causes more questionable decisions to be made. It’s a vicious cycle, and I do mean vicious. Effort spent cleaning up mistakes takes a huge toll.

Everyone makes mistakes, but some of us take it to great heights. It eventually becomes habit, and bad choices are a given rather than the exception. I don’t think I’m on that path, but it sure has been difficult to undo some of the boo boos I made early on. I have regrets.

A gigantic part of it is a lack of guidance from a parental figure. I needed a coach, and it wasn’t there. We all need role models and examples, and those who don’t get them can be in for a long ugly ride in life. I’ll still hopefully be able to salvage a little success, but I am never going to fulfill my true potential because I’ve had to struggle so hard to stay afloat.

Productive energy that could have been much better spent being creative had to be used to find ways to keep a roof over my head, food in my stomach and a car running. That ate up a lot of my youth, and now I’m feeling the stress of having to beat the clock to old age.

I can piss, moan, bitch, snivel, whine, fret, bellyache, complain or any said combination thereof about any of it, but that’s all wasted energy too. I am where I am in life because of what I did, how I did it and what happened as a result. Yes, there were some bad breaks in there too, but everyone has those. All added up, it has put me in a very difficult situation.

That being said, a major tool I’ve needed for years and never had was a quality video of my comedy act. There are legitimate reasons why I never had one done, but none of them are a legitimate excuse. It should have been a priority, and it should have been done years ago. Decades actually. It has held me back from moving up the ladder, and a huge error.

If someone wanted to hire a plumber, wouldn’t it be assumed that plumber would have a full set of tools? And if the plumber showed up without any, would it not be a red flag? I feel exactly that way, and have for more than twenty years. It’s been a source of pain.

Well, as of today I have FINALLY managed to get a quality video together that I will be able to use to both send out all over the place for future work and sell after shows. It took way too long to get it done, but it finally is. Mark Gumbinger called to tell me he finished editing the project we recorded at the WLIP/WIIL studios in Kenosha on January 11th.

It’s shot in HD, and total running time is one hour and six minutes. He said it looks and sounds professional, and I kept it squeaky clean for corporate purposes. I should have had a quality video twenty years ago, but I didn’t. Now I do. Is it too late to matter? We’ll see.

Meeting Bobby Keys

February 17, 2012

Thursday February 16th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

I’m always flattered whenever anyone calls me, as I know there are at least seven billion others on the planet that could have been chosen ahead of me. That’s a lot of competition, so whenever the phone rings I consider it a major victory. It’s like I overcame huge odds.

It’s especially interesting when the voice on the other end of the phone belongs to Mike Preston looking for camera crew assistance on a remote for his ‘Psychobabble’ TV show. Every time I’ve said yes in the past has been nothing but fun and I’ve gotten to hang with a diverse list of celebrities including Burt Reynolds, Mark Farner and George Thorogood.

Today was no exception. Mike arranged an interview with Bobby Keys, lead sax player with the Rolling Stones from 1969 to 1974. And as if that credit isn’t impressive enough, he also played with everyone from Lennon and McCartney to Eric Clapton to The Who.

The guy has been a touring musician since 1956, and has just released an autobiography entitled “Every Night’s A Saturday Night: The Rock n’ Roll Life Of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys” which is jam packed with stories from the road with rock’s biggest legends.

Who wouldn’t want to hang out and be a fly on the wall to hear one fantastic story after another about everyone from Keith Richards to Buddy Holly to Yoko Ono to the owner of the Dole pineapple empire in Hawaii? I felt like I should have paid a cover charge to hear it all first hand, and it was one of the most fascinating experiences I can ever remember.

Everything about it all was pure fun from start to finish. Jim McHugh was the other guy on the ‘crew’, even though it’s mainly Mike being nice to us and allowing us to tag along. We set up the cameras and move a few chairs around, but anybody else could do that too.

We like hanging out as friends, and most of the time we‘re making each other laugh and goofing off. But Mike knows we’ll have his back door when any work needs to be looked after, and we won’t embarrass him in front of a celebrity. That’s a huge plus on his end.

Jim and I know how to be professional and stay out of the way unless we’re needed. It’s a delicate balance, but we’ve all done it before and we make a good team in those kind of situations. Jim is very meticulous and also takes still photographs but isn’t conspicuous.

Mike is an absolutely spectacular interviewer too. He always does his homework on all his guests, and knows how to get the very best out of them. Burt Reynolds complimented Mike on his thoroughness, and it was well deserved. He should have a network talk show in my opinion, and if I had any clout he would. These junkets are always worth my time.

It didn’t hurt that Bobby himself was a wonderful guy and felt like talking. He’s from a small town in Texas, and his drawl is infectious. He laughs a lot, and knows how to tell a fabulous story. He and Mike clicked, and I was treated to one of the most entertaining and informative experiences of my entire life. Sometimes the best things in life really are free.