Archive for February, 2012

Is Diabetes Funny?

February 17, 2012

Wednesday February 15th, 2012 – Eau Claire, WI

I know I keep saying I have to stop accepting randomly scattered far away bookings that don’t pay all that well, but when there’s nothing on the calendar for the week and bills are piling up – exceptions get made. I needed to rustle up a few bucks, so back to the trenches tonight for a gig in Eau Claire, WI – almost exactly 350 miles door to door. That’s a haul.

At least I got to bring my own opener in Steve Purcell. He lives in Madison, and we like hanging out so that shortens the drive. He’s low maintenance, and doesn’t often complain about anything – on stage or off. Russ Martin was off and also wanted to ride along for an opportunity at some stage time at a paid show. That’s valuable for a beginning performer.

The weather was beyond good. It was dad gum almost tropical, or at least it seemed that way as we drove with the window cracked to allow some of the sweetness of the sunshine to permeate the inside of my car. If I had to be on the road, today was the ideal day for it.

We worked a venue called ‘Fanny Hill’, a dinner theatre that has run comedy shows for just over a year. I was here before, but I didn’t remember until I walked in the place. They all start running together after a while, and that’s another reason to work closer to home.

This was a friendly place with a laid back audience as I remembered it, and tonight was an exact duplicate. They fed us a scrumptious meal as part of our compensation package, and it was unnecessary but much appreciated. I felt a quality vibe coming from the whole situation, and knew I had something to do with how it all came about. It made me proud.

I had made it possible for Steve and Russ to get on stage, and that’s very satisfying. We had a blast in the car too – but the real reason I came (besides the money) was to begin the ongoing process of inserting new material. I’ve got a lot of it to work on, and it never gets done overnight. It can’t. It takes focused effort on nights like this to ease it in gradually.

It would have been easy enough to just walk through my regular act tonight and nobody would have said a word. In fact, that’s what they were all expecting. Nobody in the crowd had any idea who I was, or what my ’regular’ act was. They’d assumed I’d be competent.

And I was. I made them laugh for more than the amount of time I had been scheduled to do it, and I threw in all kinds of new ingredients ranging from entire chunks of material to subtle nuances of how I said bits I’ve been doing for years. This was a scrimmage game.

The one bit I was thrilled that worked well was one about my diabetes diagnosis. I want to polish that story up to find the funny in something that normally wouldn’t be listed as a prime source for humor possibilities. It’s a delicate subject, but I can see laughs in there.

The audience did too. I wasn’t fishing for sympathy, only looking to educate people that might not know about the dangers of diabetes. I didn’t, and it took me by surprise. It felt a little choppy at first, but I got into it and then they did too. That made it all worth the trip.

Valentine’s Vacuum

February 15, 2012

Tuesday February 14th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

Valentine’s Day. Third grade. Silver Spring School. Milwaukee. Shudder. I can still see it in my mind’s eye like it was yesterday. It was one of my first crushing disappointments of childhood, with many more to follow. It’s funny now, but back then it was devastating.

I don’t know how they do it now, but back in school we used to decorate paper bags and use them as receptacles for Valentines from the other kids in the class. They’d all be hung on the front wall in a row with all our names on them until Valentine’s Day, when we got to open them. We could look inside the bags, but not actually open them until the big day.

It was a popularity contest for sure, sort of a primitive version of Face Book. Some bags were brimming with Valentines, others had one or two. This was a painful way to find out what popularity was all about, and I could see I wasn’t going to be one of those full bags.

Every day we’d all walk into the classroom and go immediately to our bags to check the number of Valentines we’d gotten. For a while I was getting shut out completely, and that really stung. I wasn’t the only one with the big zero, but that did little to comfort my ego.

An empty bag is an empty bag. Then, I came to school one day and saw that there were FOUR Valentines in my bag! I felt like doing a cartwheel immediately and ripping all of them open to see who they came from. Would I get one from ‘her’? I should be so lucky.

‘She’ was the nine year old blondie bombshell herself, one Holly Lueck. She was THE vixen of Mrs. Lucht’s class, and the first girl I can remember that made my heart wiggle in my chest when she walked by. Of course she sat across the room and we never did get to know each other very well – but I would have eaten a bag of worms to sit next to her.

I had no idea what to do with these newfound feelings. I wanted to be with her, talk to her, fake a seizure to get her to pay attention to me – whatever it might take to get her to at least know I was sharing a planet with her. But every time I got near her my tongue would seize up in my mouth and all that would come out of it were grunts, stutters and/or drool.

I was overcome with fear, but I did save my best Valentine for Holly, and I waited until the very last day to stealthily jam it into her bag, which was heaping with envelopes. She needed to hire a secretary to keep track of the load of mail she got, or hang a bigger bag.

Finally, the big day came to open our Valentines. I didn’t do the worst, but I also wasn’t the King of Hearts either. And a big old ZILCH from Holly Lueck. Bummer. I poured my Valentines on my desk, and tried to look cool as I opened them to see if hers was in there.

When it wasn’t, I felt a sickly sucking sensation in my soul. What a downer. I could not contain my bitter agony. Holly’s desk looked like a post office. Mine looked like a funeral parlor. It was torture. Then around May, Mrs. Lucht called me to her desk and handed me an envelope. It was a Valentine that had been lost. From Holly. Too late. Damage done.

Money Malfunction

February 14, 2012

Monday February 13th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

I am the man of constant sorrow. I’ve seen trouble all my days. Today, car trouble came over for a visit to rekindle our lifelong relationship. After all was said and done, it put me $932 deeper into the financial trench I’m already in. Thanks! Now, I hope it leaves again.

This was the last thing I wanted or needed right now, but too bad. Cars break down, and need to get fixed. Like dental work or any other emergency, they cost a lot and never wait for a convenient time. There isn’t one. The bomb gets dropped, and the damage remains.

I’d been hearing noises for a while now, and knew I’d eventually have to deal with this. I’m getting better at diagnosing car problems as the years go by because I’ve had about all that can go wrong with a car do exactly that and happen to me first hand. I’m an expert.

This time I knew it was a wheel bearing. I had one go out several months ago, and knew the other one was now in need of replacing. It made a loud grinding noise, and I knew it’d end up costing a couple hundred bucks to replace. I tried to put it off as long as I could.

What I discovered to my horror was, I needed a whole lot more work done. The original wheel bearing that had been replaced before was also shaky, and my brakes were wearing unevenly as well. My tires were balding too, so the smart thing to do was just fix them all.

The place I took it to was recommended by a friend. They’ve been in business for years, and I felt a good vibe when I walked in the place. They had awards on the walls for being voted the best auto repair place in town, and I know my friend wouldn’t steer me wrong.

That being said, I hadn’t expected a bill that big out of nowhere and it really stings right now. I’ve had all kinds of bills lately for all kinds of things I didn’t expect, and any sort of nest egg I may have had has been completely depleted. My safety net has been removed.

I know I’m not the only one in this position, but I totally don’t like it. It scares me to the point of potential panic quite frankly, as I don’t have anyone I can go to for financial help in a crisis. I’m out here dangling by myself in the treacherous sea of life where sharks can eat me at any time. One little event like this can rock my world, and it has. I’m stressed.

It doesn’t matter what put me in this position, or if any of it was my fault or not. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, but that doesn’t matter either. I have to find whatever way I can to get myself out of this predicament – legally of course. I’m not going to resort to a life of crime this late in the game. If I was going to try that, I’d have done it long ago.

The fact is, it’s unbelievably hard to make an honest living these days, and harder yet to do it as an entertainer. Money has never been my number one focus, and now I’m paying dearly for it. I should have had this figured out decades ago, but one disaster after another has come along unexpectedly and cleaned my clock, rattled my cage and rocked my world to the point that now I’m just too frazzled to think straight. This life thing can get rough.

Houston, We Had A Problem

February 14, 2012

Sunday February 12th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

First it was Elvis. Then Michael Jackson. Now it’s the premature passing of yet another music superstar under controversial and sketchy circumstances at a young age in Whitney Houston. I must say that although there was a modicum of shock reaction when I heard it for the first time, but it wasn’t a total surprise. Many have been expecting this for years.

Everybody’s talking about it, and I do mean everybody. I hear it constantly both on the air and on the street, so I thought I’d throw my miscellaneous babblings into the mix just because I can. I don’t have any particular inside knowledge, so I can only go by what I’m seeing and hearing from the media and the public – two of the worst sources anywhere.

The biggest point that hits home hardest with me about all this is that Whitney Houston and I were the same age. That’s about all we had in common, but we were both definitely born in 1963. So was Michael Jordan. Hmmm, let’s see – Houston, Jordan and Maxwell.

Which one of those three names doesn’t belong? It’s laughable to think of how different all of our lives have been, even though we’ve been living on the same planet for about the same amount of time. It may be fact, but we’re not even close to living in the same world.

It did make me feel quite good to hear more than one media outlet say “only 48” when mentioning her age, but she was so well known for decades for being young and beautiful that that’s how most people choose to remember her. Her first impression is still in place, at least with a chunk of the public. Her dalliances with her demons made some news too.

I’m sorry to say, but I won’t lie – I just can’t find it in my heart to feel sorry for Whitney Houston. I feel horrible for her daughter, and her mother Cissy Houston is still living so it has to be excruciating for her to lose a child. My heart goes out to them and everyone else in her immediate and extended families with extreme sadness. I mean no disrespect at all.

Of course I don’t revel in the fact that she died, but I never got a particularly solid vibe from Miss Houston. Whenever I’ve seen her interviewed, I always felt an arrogance from her that for some reason turned me off. She was talented and beautiful, and she knew it.

It’s cheerleader syndrome from high school all over again, pumped up by about 10,000. Who can feel sorry for someone born with all those tools and all that talent? Why did she have to resort to drinking and drugs to comfort her? Weren’t her supreme gifts enough?

I guess I don’t understand how addictions work. I see all these ‘experts’ saying how it’s a ‘disease’. Really? How about NEVER start up? Bang. End of disease. I can honestly say it’s possible, because I’m living proof. With all my other faults, I’ve never gone that way.

Does that make me better than Whitney Houston or anyone else? Of course not, but SO many people would kill for what she had given to her at birth and she appears to have just pissed it all away. Would I trade lives with Whitney Houston? I’d have to say a loud no.

Standing Room Finally

February 13, 2012

Saturday February 11th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

Finally, after more than 25 years of trying in utter futility, I was the headliner of a show at a venue with a capacity of more than 100 that was legitimately sold out, jammed to the rafters nuts to butts and then some. I didn’t think it would take this long, and I sure won’t get cocky. Even though I was the headliner for the night, I wasn’t the reason they came.

This was the 7th annual Valentine’s Weekend dinner and show package at the Parkway Chateau in Kenosha, WI, which is technically The Brat Stop. It’s an event put on by WIIL radio, the FM sister station of  WLIP where I do The Mothership Connection on Sundays.

The event has been building each year, and this was their biggest to date. The facility is quite nice, and was decked out to the nines with banquet tables and linen cloths to prepare for a fantastic spread of delicious food before the show. A lot of work went into putting it together, and I take zero credit whatsoever. I knew I was just a hired gun for the evening.

Fletcher Lee is a promoter in the area who has been running all kinds of shows for years from music to comedy and everything in between. He’s a musician by trade, and everyone likes him. He’s fair and reasonable, and I’ve never heard of anyone ever feeling ripped off after working for him. We’ve done business for at least twenty years with never an issue.

Fletcher and WIIL teamed up on this event years ago, and are building it together. I was asked to be part of it this year, and I’m delighted. I was able to suggest Dwight York to be on the show too, even though I don’t consider him an opener. This was a double headliner show, and the reason he came down here this week. Our other shows were added fillers.

The evening was billed as ’Prime Rib Buffet And Comedy Show’, and that’s probably a wise move. I wish I were the draw, but I know I’m not. I like prime rib too, so I get how it works – even though it’s a direct kick in the balls of our ego. Dwight knew it also, and we laughed it off as much as we could. The fact is, anyone else could have been booked here.

This wasn’t about any individual comedians. It was about a radio station promotion that has been building for seven years, and we just happened to be the ones that got the gig for this year. Next year, two other comedians will get it and we’ll be long forgotten. The true star of the evening is always the prime rib, and it never disappoints. How can I compete?

The show tonight was sold out and then some. They were turning away people who had assumed they could get in, and it felt good to see them bringing out more tables to seat all those who were there. I’m not used to being part of shows like this, and I enjoyed all of it. Next week I’ll be back to struggling, but for one night I got to play Mr. Show Business.

I know how to do shows in situations like this, and so does Dwight. We’ve both paid an overwhelmingly insane amount of dues to be able to walk calmly into a situation like this and blow the doors, windows and roof off of a packed house. It was a pleasure to share an evening like this with a friend who deserved it, as did I. It took long enough to get here.

The Birth Of An Ulcer

February 13, 2012

Friday February 10th, 2012 – Manitowoc, WI

When it rains, it pours. Or snows. Or something. All I know is, everything I did went as wrong as it could go today.  That happens some days, and today was one of them. I didn’t panic, as I’ve been through it all before, but I didn’t enjoy it either. The whole day was an unending series of annoying events, and a marathon of constant stress. I need a nice nap.

I had a show tonight in Manitowoc, WI at a bar I don’t even want to name. I don’t have anything against the place or the person that booked it, but it wasn’t a place to do comedy for anyone that would happen to want to see a real show. It was a bar gig, and those aren’t what I’m looking to do at this time in my life. I want to play theatres, and this wasn’t it.

The reason I took it was the person who set it up is a sharp lady and wants to book some shows to gain some experience. She aspires to be more of a humorous speaker rather than an actual comedian, and she’s putting a few shows together to get some stage experience.

That’s fine, and I think she’ll do well. I just don’t think she’ll do it in this place. Not for the long run anyway. But this is her first attempt at booking a joint like that, and I’ve been doing it since the dawn of humanity. I have a rather different point of view than she does.

It was an add on date to bridge the gap for Dwight York and myself between Janesville, WI last night and Kenosha tomorrow. This was the third and final piece of the puzzle, and expectations were low. We were just happy to have a place to be on a night we were off.

Getting there was the problem. Of course, it had to snow like a blizzard and I stopped in Milwaukee to pick up Russ Martin who wanted to ride along and do a guest set. This was fine with me, and in fact my suggestion. I had a few errands to run in town before picking him up, and the weather slowed everything down to less than a crawl. It was a nightmare.

The nightmare turned into a double feature when my car started making grinding noises as we finally got to I-43 North. I had a wheel bearing replaced a few months ago, and this sounded to me like the other one was going out. It couldn’t have come at a more annoying and inconvenient time, but this was just another day in Luckyland. I could feel it coming.

To make it really difficult, the show was scheduled for a 7:30 start. How many times is a show scheduled for 7:30, especially at a bar gig? Very rarely, if ever. Too bad for me. It was tonight, and that put even more pressure on us to get there on time. It was total stress.

Then, it got stressier as I had not had time to shower or shave and needed to get cleaned up before the show. I have a rule to never ever wear anything driving to the gig I wouldn’t wear on stage, but this one time I didn’t I had sweats on and needed to get that shower in.

The hotel was twenty minutes away, and farther north in Mishicot. That made it a crazy race against the clock, and we ended up getting to the gig at 7:28. The crowd wouldn’t be quiet the whole night, and it was a typical rowdy bar gig. I think I have an ulcer brewing.

A Jewel In Janesville

February 13, 2012

Thursday February 9th, 2012 – Janesville, WI

I’m working with Dwight York this week, one of my favorite people. He’s a slugger on stage, and has been doing comedy about as long as I have. We’re both considered old war horses, and we have a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses. We are kindred spirits.

Our strengths are similar in that we can work in front of the harshest of crowds and still manage to pull off a show and get paid. How we go about it is completely different, but it leads to the same result. On an experience scale of 1-10, Dwight and I are off the charts.

Our weaknesses are similar in that neither of us are good game players when it comes to business. We’re not ass kissers, and we’re not social butterflies either. We do what we do, do it well, and go home. That’s not good business, and that’s a definite contributing factor as to why we’re both still out here struggling to stay afloat instead of making the big time.

It’s a common story unfortunately, and not one that’s fun to be a part of in real life. This is a rough business, and even rougher to stay out there fighting when nobody is helping to make it any easier. Dwight and I and many others grind it out every week all by ourselves.

We’ve got a nice show in Kenosha, WI on Saturday at the Brat Stop as part of the WIIL Valentine’s weekend comedy show they’ve been doing for several years. I was chosen for it this year, and was able to recommend  Dwight as the other act. I’m glad I could do that.

Like me, Dwight isn’t always the most persistent when it comes to seeking out dates for work. He figures that the bookers should know who he is by now, and if they want to hire him they know how to find him. I’m like that myself, and to a certain degree it does work.

On another level, it’s horrific business. Why eliminate the possibility of getting booked simply because of a lack of due diligence? It’s not like either one of us can’t do the job in virtually 99.999% of any available gigs, and do it better than most. We’re well seasoned.

But if nobody knows about us, how can they book us? Hoping word of mouth is enough by itself is asking for trouble, and we found it. Both of us have holes in our schedules this far into the business, and are surviving by a half a thread. It’s hard to change tactics in the middle of the game though, so here we sit treading water hoping for a ship to pick us up.

We worked a fun little one nighter at a place called The Armory in Janesville, WI. It’s a gorgeous facility which is a remodeled historic building right downtown. They have plays there, but do comedy on Thursdays and have for years. They really try to make it good for everyone, including the comedians. I can’t remember ever being treated better anywhere.

They feed us delicious food, and ask if we need anything and mean it. The audience has no idea how well this place is run compared to most other places in towns this size, and it makes me want to please them even more because the people in charge deserve it. I’d like to see them packed every week. Tonight was solid, and it was fun to hang with Dwight.

Favorite Comedians List

February 12, 2012

Wednesday February 8th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

I have never figured out the need in a certain group of people who want to hear in detail who I happen to think is funny, or worse yet feel they have to tell me their detailed list of who they like. Does it matter? Not to me, but I guess it makes those people feel smarter.

These are the same people who must sit around for hours heatedly debating who are the best pitchers or quarterbacks of all time, or which Kardashian sister has the bubbliest butt. People like to make lists and compare things, or at least a healthy percentage of them do.

I’ve had this happen since I started in comedy, and I still get it now. Someone will come up to me after a show and start rattling off people who they think are funny and I’m never sure what I’m supposed to say to them. Are they wrong? No, but they’re not right either.

Nobody is right or wrong with a list like that. It’s a matter of personal taste, and that’s a right everyone has that nobody else can ever take away. I might not happen to agree, but it isn’t about how I feel. I’m just a guy, and I think what I think. I mostly keep it to myself.

That being said, here’s a list of my favorite standup comedians of all time. I say standup comedians, because I often hear names like John Belushi or Bill Murray or another comic actor who had a role in a movie they liked. I usually just nod and smile, and then look for an opportunity to fake a seizure so I can make my exit. I try to be polite, but it’s difficult.

I freely admit before I start that my opinion doesn’t mean a damn thing, but here goes:

– Rodney Dangerfield: In my mind, he’s the king. Everything about him makes me laugh.

After that, it doesn’t accomplish anything to debate the big names. Rodney has been my favorite comedian since I was in high school. I love his standup comedy, and I love to see his movies even now. His role in Caddyshack was a classic, and I still laugh out loud and quote Rodney’s lines whenever I see it. As an all around performer, he still gets my vote.

If you don’t agree, that’s fine. You don’t have to. There are huge names in comedy that don’t make me laugh in the least. I could name them now, but then I’d get emails from all kinds of keyboard crusaders who’d take it as a challenge and try to start an opinion war.

I don’t want or need that in my life, now or ever. Instead, how about if I throw out a list of working comic friends of mine who I think are really funny, and hopefully they’ll get a few more well deserved fans that maybe wouldn’t have heard of them otherwise? That’s a much better idea. Just because someone isn’t famous doesn’t mean they don’t have talent.

Fame is a whole game unto itself. There are a lot of famous people who are famous just for being famous. Talent had nothing to do with it, or at least not after a while. It might be the reason they got there, but then whatever they did fades away and their name is just out there. Is Britney Spears talented? That’s debatable. But here are some comedians who are:

– Dwight York: I’m working with him this week, and that’s why he’s first on the list. He’s warped, sick and twisted – and that’s a sincere compliment. He writes excellent jokes, and a lot of them. He works at his craft, and makes me laugh out loud every time I watch him.

– Don Reese: Another road warrior who I love dearly on stage and off. Don loves monster movies and looks like he could star in one. He has a hilarious video called ‘It Came From Iowa’, which he does. He looks intimidating, but is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

– Dan Still: An unsung comic out of my home town of Milwaukee. Together with Dwight and Don, I want to put a tour together with these three guys and call it ‘The Pirates Of Comedy’. They look like the Satanic Beatles, but they’re all great guys and super funny.

– Jim McHugh: I’ve always thought he was a very solid comic and still do. He chooses to put his act together in chunks rather than individual jokes, and it totally works for him on many levels. He’s always been a favorite, and I like hanging out with him off stage too.

– Tim Walkoe: A regular at Zanies in Chicago along with Larry Reeb – ‘Uncle Lar’. Often I am placed in the same sentence with these two because we’re the three that tend to be on Zanies list of favorite acts to book. I am beyond flattered to be listed with either of them.

– Larry Reeb: Again, a wonderful comic with a sick and twisted view of things. He always makes me laugh out loud even though I’ve seen his act literally hundreds of times. He has a style and rhythm all his own, as does Tim Walkoe. They’re masters of the comedy craft.

– James Wesley Jackson: He used to open for George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic during their heyday, and I was a fan of his before I ever met him for that alone. I recorded a DVD project with James, and need to get it out there soon. Plus, he’s a wonderful soul.

– Dwayne Kennedy: Probably the most unsung raw talent of anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s a brilliant comic and he’s even done a couple of Letterman appearances. But, with no insult intended at all – nobody knows who he is. That’s a shame, but that’s life. He’s fantastic.

– Tim Northern: He’s always been one of my favorites, and still is. He has a natural gift of both writing and performing, and I think it’s pure magic. His material is unmistakably his, and that’s rare in any field of entertainment. I consider him to be a true artist. He’s gifted.

– Hannibal Burress: He’s in the same classification as a Tim Northern, but completely his own identity. He moved to New York last time I saw him and was writing for SNL. That kid has got talent coming out of his pores, and a work ethic too. He’s got a bright future.

There are so many others I could list, but I don’t have time or space. That’s why I don’t like lists. Someone always gets left out. I could list 100 more, and 100 more after that. I’d appreciate it if someone placed me on a list like this, so I’ll try to rustle up a few new fans for funny friends of mine that I really enjoy. Being a good person doesn’t matter as far as the business goes, but it does to me. These are quality people with talent. Check them out.

Helping When I Can

February 8, 2012

Tuesday February 7th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

Up home to Milwaukee today for a lunch with Ian Spanic of ‘Spanic Boys’ fame. I have been a huge fan of them and their music ever since I started hearing a buzz from the local entertainment scene in the ‘80s when I was getting started in comedy. They won me over.

I’m always a fan of any kind of entertainment that’s done particularly well, especially if it’s something I can’t do myself – which is almost everything. I couldn’t play a single note on a kazoo, much less put a band together and absorb that punishment. It’s super difficult.

People have told me often how difficult comedy is, and I wholeheartedly agree. But, for whatever reason, I’ve been able to navigate that minefield and survive like a cockroach at it for decades. I did blow off some assorted fingers and toes along the way, but I’m alive.

The fact is, any and every genre of entertainment is extremely difficult to transform into a full time career. Only a precious few ever manage to stay with it for a lifetime and make a decent living. I’ve been fortunate in many ways to do it in comedy, but I’m not claiming to be anything other than a journeyman. I’ve earned a living, but haven’t risen any higher.

The Spanic Boys have had a respectable and legitimate career. Their success came early and I can still vividly recall their appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1990. I was proud of them then being from Milwaukee, but have even more respect now after learning what a handicap that can be. Milwaukee just isn’t a nurturing place to come up as a performer.

I wish it weren’t true, but it absolutely is. It’s the same for comedy, music, acting, radio and I’ve got to believe any other entertainment field as well. I’d bet bucks to bratwursts it isn’t any different across the board. There are precious few exceptions who make it out of the local meat grinder, but not many. The Spanic Boys did, and that deserves mega kudos.

My friend Tom Green was always a big fan of the Spanic Boys too. He was also a prime example of a smart and talented artist with a strong vision who was frustrated with all the local politics of Milwaukee’s entertainment community. He and Ian worked together on a number of recorded projects, and I’m still enjoying them years after Tom’s tragic passing.

Ian and his father Tom Spanic have become fans of mine over the years, and I could not be any more flattered. Whenever I play the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino I can almost always count on not only the Spanics to show up, but a line of others as well.

They go out of their way to support me, and I feel star struck every time I see them after a show. Ian asked if I’d be available to serve as an auctioneer for a charity event to benefit his daughter’s school. How could I say no? Of course I’ll do it. I’m honored to be asked.

The event is on May 5th and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Downtown Montessori Academy. Their website is http://www.downtownmontessori.com, and I’ll be there flapping my yap for a worthy cause. I’m still flattered Ian asked, and I’ll donate my time with pleasure.

A Clueless Boob

February 7, 2012

Monday February 6th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

The older I get, the less I know. I am now officially a clueless boob, and that‘s my final answer. I have completely given up all hope of ever trying to figure out the inner working secrets of standup comedy, women or human existence as a whole. It’s all still a mystery.

I thought I was at least starting to figure some of it out – the comedy part anyway. After tonight, I would have to say not. I hosted The Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago as I have dozens of times before, and I thought it was a complete disaster. Everything and everybody felt off in every way, including myself. The energy wasn’t clicking for anyone.

Those nights happen, but I haven’t had one in a while. I’ve had super solid shows lately as a matter of fact. Granted, hosting is a different skill set and energy altogether, but it felt like I’d never been on stage before. My words and rapid rhythm weren’t flowing like they usually do, and it frustrated the hell out of me. The more I tried to find it, the less I could.

The audience’s vibe didn’t help either. They weren’t mean spirited, stupid or drunk, but they weren’t laugh out loud types either. And there weren’t very many of them. That has a lot to do with it also. Mondays have been packed as a rule, but tonight wasn’t even close.

I don’t think it was even halfway filled. Was it Super Bowl hangover? It doesn’t matter. It wasn’t happening. The lineup of comedians wasn’t clicking either. Again, they weren’t necessarily bad acts and I don’t think they were bad people at all. But they were mostly an inexperienced group, and nobody went up there and lit it up like I’ve seen so often before.

It was just one of those nights where everything failed to mesh together. It’s not a major disaster, even though it does annoy me. I want people to have a good time when they’re at a show I’m on, even if I’m not the headliner. I’m a fan of the craft, and want comedy as a whole to be a pleasurable experience for everyone – comedians included. It should be fun.

I tried my best to stay with it the whole night though. Just because they weren’t a stellar bunch doesn’t mean they didn’t deserve my best. Plus, it’s a challenge for me to wring as much out of any audience as I can – especially the weaker ones. That’s what I’m paid for.

As the night dragged on, I just wanted it to be over. Sometimes there are way too many acts booked and the shows go long. Tonight, everyone went short and I had time to fill at the end. I’ve got the experience and material to fill it, but I really didn’t feel like tonight.

Again, too bad. That’s what I’m paid to do. I know that going in, and tonight was one of those nights when nothing was going to be pleasant. I did my job to the best of my ability, most importantly got my check, and was trying to sneak out the door when I got stopped.

It was a table of four telling me how funny I was, and how it was one of the best nights they’d ever had. Did they see the same show I did? Then I went outside only to have more people give me a high five and tell me how great I was. And I thought I had a clue. Nope.