Chicago’s Comedy Elvis

Monday March 5th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

Back at Zanies in Chicago once more to host the Rising Star Showcase. As thankful as I am for the opportunity, I can also see the handwriting on the wall with frightening clarity. This can’t last forever, and my days are numbered. I need to find a way to back myself up.

The reason I got the call yesterday to fill in was because Pat McGann’s wife was having a baby. It’s their first, and I’m very happy for both of them. Pat has been the house emcee at Zanies downtown for several months, and that’s a position of honor. It means Zanies is grooming him for bigger things, and I can absolutely see why. He brings a lot to the table.

Pat is in his early 30s, has movie star good looks and is loaded with personality. I think his dad is a judge or some other position of influence, and Pat’s a natural on TV. He hosts a show on the local PBS station called ‘The Chicago Standup Project’ where celebrities in town try their hand at standup comedy. It’s been a successful show, and I’m glad that it is.

It brings exposure to standup comedy, and hopefully more fans. I’ve been the exclusive teacher of Zanies’ comedy classes since 1995, and I hadn’t thought of creating a TV show like that so kudos to Pat for pulling it off, and pulling it off well. I see why it was bought.

I heard a story once about Elvis going out on tour opening up for a country singer by the name of Hank Snow. Hank was from Canada, and had a very respectable career. He was a legitimate headliner, and had earned his position in the business. But when Elvis went out on stage every night and panties started flying like seagulls, Hank realized the situation.

Apparently, he called the tour booker and told him to put Elvis on last. Hank knew what was happening, and that Elvis was destined to be a phenomenon. He wasn’t going to stop it, so why even try? Elvis went on to be Elvis, but Hank Snow still had a career as well.

Pat McGann is going to be the Chicago comedy version of Elvis. I predict big things for this kid, and I’m very happy for him. He’s a wonderful guy, and very personable. It’s just in his DNA. People like him on and off stage, and his background has bred social skills in him that I have never had. I’m a social misfit, and keep very much to myself off the stage.

That’s not necessarily good or bad, it’s just how I am. I’ll be very friendly to people that approach me after a show, and always try to make myself available for anyone who wants to say hello. Many do, and it usually goes very well. Then they leave. Pat has star quality.

Very few people I’ve ever seen or worked with have that. George Wallace has it. I stood next to him after a show one night and it was like I didn’t exist. People gravitated his way and were mesmerized by his presence. I could have been naked and nobody would know.

Jeff Foxworthy has it too. So does Drew Carey. There’s just something extra in the mix the public loves, and they’ll pay to see it. Whatever I have, it’s not that. Pat McGann does have it, and I predict big time success. Good for him, but I need to look after my own life.


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