Archive for March, 2012

Sleepless In The Saddle

March 20, 2012

Monday March 19th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   Sleep? Who needs that? It’s way over rated anyway. I don’t have time for boring activities like that – I’ve got hip, happening places to be like Kenosha, WI and Rockford, IL. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead, which after today seems not far off. Who am I kidding? I’m OLD.

I was dragging my ass big time as I got home from WLIP in Kenosha at 1am, but I wasn’t able to sleep more than an hour because I needed to pick up Jim McHugh by 3:30 to be able to get out to Rockford to be on WNTA by 5am. Am I completely insane? That depends on when you’d ask.

When I’m on the air – no. When I’m driving on a lonely two lane country road with not a single other vehicle in either direction – a loud and heartfelt yes. What the hell am I doing with my life? I’ve gone from chasing low paying comedy gigs far from home to chasing low paying radio gigs, but at least they’re a little closer. The downside is the hours. Who wants to start their job at 5am?

Morning radio hours have always been brutal, and I’m sure they’ve taken a few years off of my life already. I’ve had my share of getting up before the early bird, and it’s never fun. Most people who have ever worked in morning radio hate the hours, but it goes with the job. And it still rots.

Doing the show with Jim makes it a lot more fun. Radio is still new to him, and he’s not jaded. Yet. It’s hard not to be, but there is a buzz that goes with it that’s similar to being on stage. It’s a lot of fun to be on the radio, and on stage too – but just like with comedy there is a price to pay.

I said yes today mainly to help out Jim Stone. He’s the operations manager of the four stations in the building, but also does the morning show on WXRX – ‘The X’. He’s been doing mornings for years, and knows what that grind is like. He was doing afternoons for the last couple of years, but just had to get readjusted to mornings when they rearranged the schedule not that long ago.

Jim McHugh and I had fun playing radio again for four hours, but no way would I want the gig full time. I’m not a current events based talk show host. That’s not what I do. The regular host is a very nice guy named Doug McDuff – a radio veteran. He’s a fixture in town, and good for him.

There are people who are really good talk show hosts, and I respect that as a craft just as being a comedian is a craft. My friend Jerry Agar is great at what he does, and he works at it. He wants to be a talk show host, and that’s his focus. Mark Belling in Milwaukee is another example. He’s a very skilled talk show host, as is Rush Limbaugh. Like any of them or not, they’re competent.

I’m just a warm body that Jim Stone could call who was willing to show up at 5am. It’s a really nice opportunity for me to get a chance to practice my hosting skills on a real station, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking I want to pursue it more than a fill in basis. Comedy is my first love.

But again, love doesn’t pay the bills. This was a chance to make a few bucks, even though I am going to end up spending most of it to fill my gas tank. And I’m having some car trouble too. I’m too tired to worry about it now though. This was a long hard day. I’m not a young buck anymore.

Near Death Experiences

March 20, 2012

Sunday March 18th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   Oh-oh. The old ‘time getting spread too thin’ trick again. I’ve seen this one before. I received a text message from Jim Stone at WNTA radio in Rockford, IL politely requesting me to fill in for the morning host tomorrow from 5-9am. I politely refused, as I had a lot of things on my plate.

An hour later, I got another one – this one a little more urgent. Jim is the operations manager of four radio stations in one building, and that’s never an easy gig. He gets all kinds of headaches at the last minute he has deal with, and apparently he couldn’t find anyone to show up for the shift.

I really like Jim, and I absolutely know what it’s like to be backed into a corner on short notice with few to zero options. He was in a pickle, and I felt the only right choice was to help him out, even though it would put me in a tight spot myself. My gut told me to say yes anyway, so I did.

I already had my own prior radio commitment to attend to at WLIP in Kenosha, WI from 8pm to midnight tonight in ‘The Mothership Connection’. I worked all afternoon and into the evening coming up with a plan of attack on how to make that project turn a buck somehow, as it hasn’t.

It’s been way too much effort to put out every week for this long with no financial return, even though it’s a lot of fun to do when we’re on the air. We have no trouble finding interesting guests from all areas of the unusual, and tonight was no exception. Dr. Raymond Moody was on with us for two full hours, and he’s probably THE top authority when it comes to near death experiences.

He’s the one who coined the actual term ‘near death experience’, and has written several books of note on the subject. Who wouldn’t be interested in learning more? I’ve never met anyone who isn’t at least the tiniest bit curious about it. I know I am. His website is www.lifeafterlife.com.

We could have had Dr. Moody on for the entire four hours, and I’m sure he’ll come back again pretty much whenever we ask. We always treat our guests with ultimate respect, but still manage to throw a few jokes in the mix to keep it lighthearted and interesting. It really opens people up.

Our show is kind of a hybrid cross between ‘Coast To Coast AM’ and a wacky morning show, but it totally works. I’m getting to be a much better talk show host with practice, and I can totally see major improvement since the show started four years ago. I feel we’re ready to take the show to a higher level, but that will mean a total remake from the ground up. We need to get it in gear.

Where we are now just isn’t cutting it. Yes, we’re on a real radio station. That’s a plus, as most shows of this nature are considered too ‘woo woo’ for mainstream radio. But we’ll never achieve any kind of following just being on in Kenosha, WI. No offense to Kenosha, but we need a much larger audience and that can only come with syndication or on the internet. Or both. It’s just fact.

Fun is fun and this is, but that’s not enough. Passion projects don’t pay bills, so what do I need to do to get some cash flowing? Sponsorship would obviously help, but how does that happen? It doesn’t just fall out of the sky. I can’t think about it now, I have to be on air in Rockford at 5am.

Airplane Aggravation

March 18, 2012

Saturday March 17th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   As much as I’d love to keep knocking back free birthday week meals from everyone, sooner or later I knew I’d have to knuckle down and haul myself back to work. I chose sooner, as in today. I didn’t mind at all. I like to work – at least on projects in which I have a passion. I have all kinds of those, and they keep me busy enough for six people. Those I don’t mind. They keep me going.

What loads me down and really sinks my canoe are all the things I have no desire to do. Those are the true buzz kills in life, yet they come up in some form or another every single day without fail. Sometimes it’s an annoying person or situation, other times a task. All of it is wasted time.

Today it was switching my flight arrangements for April 13-14 when I’ll be in Tucson at Laffs. I was scheduled there last summer as I was dealing with my diabetes diagnosis, and had to cancel on short notice. The booker was very understanding, and totally professional. I really was unable to fulfill my obligation, and thankfully he gave me another chance. That doesn’t always happen.

I’m a man of my word, and I said I’ll show up. I plan on it, but getting there is always a hassle. The last thing I care about is hunting down airline tickets online, but what choices do I have? My only other option is driving, but Chicago to Tucson with gas at over $4 a gallon would break me.

Gas prices are killing everyone, but some of us faster than others. I hadn’t flown in a while and WOW did ticket prices go up. The cheapest I was able to find for the days I need to go was about double what I expected to pay. That didn’t cut it, so I had to do some creative thrift management.

I was able to score a somewhat reasonably priced ticket on Southwest from Milwaukee, only it had a couple of stops and didn’t land in Tucson until 10:20pm. I had to bump it back to Thursday the 12th so I could make the Friday show, but that would cost a hotel room. Too bad, that was my only option. I bought the ticket a few days ago, thinking I was done. Wrong. There was a glitch.

The booker sent me an email telling me he had a one nighter on the Thursday and could use me if I could get to town earlier than 10:20. That meant I had to change my flight, which is always a hassle. It’s less of a hassle with Southwest, but it’s still a hassle. I just don’t enjoy stuff like that.

In a perfect world, I’d hire someone to take care of trivial minutia like that, but that isn’t going to happen in the near future. I’m a one man band, and that’s part of the job description whether I like it or not – and I don’t. It uses up valuable time I could be using to create products I can sell.

So now, I am flying out on Wednesday the 11th and landing at 10:20. I have the Thursday show added and then the Friday and Saturday is at Laffs. That’s a fun place, and I will tear the roof off. But then I’m stuck in town until Tuesday morning at 6am, as that’s the cheapest flight I found.

I will worry about where I’ll stay later. For now, this was the best flight deal I could get. It took way too long to get it all hashed out, and it’s for a gig that’s a month out. It took me way off grid for work I was doing today, and I feel like I wasted time. But I had to. Still think comedy’s easy?

Good Times With Good People

March 17, 2012

Friday March 16th, 2012 – Carpentersville, IL/Kenosha, WI

   The birthday hangover continues, and I’m not complaining. Life is a constant series of ups and downs, and I’m learning to savor every second of the up times. They’ll be gone soon enough, but then they’ll come back again. It’s a streak thing. I’m going to ride this wave as long as possible.

A couple of weeks ago, I was stuck in a rut where nothing went right. I was losing gigs left and right, my car was giving me fits and I was mired in a slump. One bad thing seemed to build upon the next, and it was miserable. Now it’s exactly the opposite. One fun thing is leading to the next and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I wish it were like this always, but it isn’t. But it is for now.

It’s much like the amazing weather we’re having. Of course it will change again at some point, but the smart thing to do is squeeze as much pleasure from the sun and warmth as possible before the sleet comes back again. That can last for several days too, but those days pass much slower.

This streak has been truly remarkable. I can’t remember it ever being this summer like for this long of a stretch in mid-March in Illinois. I’ve seen the weather reports and it’s warmer here now than traditional hotspots like Florida and Arizona. I don’t care if it’s a fluke or not, I’m loving it.

Today I had three more birthday meals in my honor, and who could be anything but delighted about that? Even one is a special treat, but so far I’ve had FIVE – with a couple more on the way. I’m not going to fight any of this; I’m just going to enjoy it. It will all be over with soon enough.

For breakfast, I met up with Jerry Agar’s wife Ann and their kids Cooper and Kaelin. They are in town from Toronto visiting friends on spring break and also getting their house in Cary ready to be sold soon. They’re going through a tough time, but that’s how it is in radio. Jerry shouldn’t have been gassed at WLS, and they should still be living there. But it didn’t work out that way.

That’s radio – and life too. This can be a cruel planet, especially when idiots have a say in what happens to someone’s future. Jerry paid his radio dues and brought his family to Chicago with an intention they’d stay for the long haul. He did his part, and then was booted for no good reason.

Now the family has to move to another country to survive, and they have no choice. Those kids have a big adjustment, and it’s not fair. They’re dealing with it very well, but that whole situation makes me sick to my stomach. But it was great to relax for a little while and visit with them all.

Lunch was in Kenosha, WI with Mark Gumbinger. He is working on putting our ‘Dented Can’ DVD project in the hands of people who can sell it to some TV network somewhere in the world. If I’m a star in New Zealand or Guam, I’ll take it. We now have a finished product to place in the hands of people, and that’s what’s being done. We had a delicious meal and a lot of laughs too.

Dinner was with a nice young lady, and also very relaxed and fun. The food and company were excellent, and again all I could do was enjoy the moment. It doesn’t always work out as perfectly as this, but today it happened three times in a row. Good times with good people can’t be beat.

A Sweet Sequel

March 17, 2012

Thursday March 15th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Hoffman Estates, IL

   I’m still riding the mighty high of my spectacular birthday yesterday. What a special day it was all around, and I wish I could bottle it up and squirt some of that vibe all over me when I need it. I’m still getting belated wishes today, and it can’t feel any better. It’s like I’m attending my own wake, but in a good way. This is the same feeling I had when I was on the Craig Ferguson show.

People reached out then just like now and threw in a good word and told me how much I meant to them or recalled something nice I did – mostly things I’d forgotten about. I do try very hard to be a good person, but all too often I feel like I’ve never made even a tiny impression on anyone.

I guess I have judging by the overwhelmingly positive responses I received in the last 24 hours, even though I still feel like I’ve got a long way to go to really accomplish anything. I’m flattered beyond words to get such wonderful kind thoughts from so many, and I need to learn to accept it.

It’s really a matter of choosing what to focus on in life. Seeing that old glass as indeed half full needs to become a habit, and I can’t honestly say that it is right now. Sometimes I do let my eyes wander and spend too much time and energy on what’s wrong with life or what I don’t have, and that’s not smart business. Yes, I do have problems, but so does everyone. That’s a rotten excuse.

What I need to do is make a detailed list of what I want in life and all the positive things I have going for me, and spend every single drop of my energy there. Why would I ever need to use up even one precious brain cell ever again for anything other than achieving my goals and dreams?

I can’t think of a single reason. People who don’t like me can French kiss my ass. I don’t wish them harm; I just don’t want anything to do with them. I don’t have time for petty tripe. I have a towering stack of fun projects to get to, and time is limited. Life is now a race against the clock.

Today was a nice sequel to yesterday, and a lot of good things happened. The weather was still spectacular, and I believe a record was set for the highest temperature ever recorded just as it was yesterday. Jim McHugh and I again filled in for the afternoon show on WNTA in Rockford, IL.

Everyone at the station is extremely friendly, and we’re feeling like we’re part of the team. We treat everyone with respect, and that’s what we get back. After the show, Jim invited me over for a delicious rib eye steak dinner he cooked on his grill in honor of my birthday. It was delicious.

I’m also feeling positive progress on ‘The Unshow’ pod cast with Jeff Schneider. We’re part of a new website called ‘PKNRadio’ and we’re on twice a week with our half hour of talk. I think it could lead to bigger things, and the time is right to be evolving from terrestrial radio to the web.

The site is www.pknradio.com and apparently we’ve already had over 150 downloads after our first appearance. I don’t know what they think, but I think that’s fantastic. I’ve paid my dues and then some in both comedy and radio. It’s high time both of them paid me back – with interest.

Birthday Bliss

March 17, 2012

Wednesday March 14th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Fox Lake, IL

 
   If I had to pick only one birthday in the last 20 years that was my hands down favorite on many levels, today would have to be it. Absolutely everything went exactly the way it was supposed to today, and I’m grinning like a lottery winner as I recall it all. Days like today make life a party.
   It started with the weather. That’s not a big deal when it’s sunny and toasty, (which sounds like a morning radio team in Oshkosh or Kalamazoo) but growing up in Wisconsin I grew to get used to not knowing what kind of weather to expect on a March birthday. It could be anywhere from a miserable drizzle to a full blown blizzard, or any other weather word that features the double ‘z’.
   Rarely if ever were any of my childhood birthdays even a little sunny as I remember, much less the absolute perfection that was today. It felt like a cross between Hollywood and Honolulu, with a little bit of Miami Beach and Maui thrown in for effect. It was downright tropical, and couldn’t have been a nicer surprise. If this is what global warming is, I’m for it. Sorry for the polar bears.
   The weather was only the backdrop. I met Jim McHugh, Rick Young and Phil Gayter at 9am in Lake Forest, IL to begin the exciting journey of my King of Uranus character. Phil is an absolute whiz kid with a camera and editing, and Rick knows several business owners in Lake Forest. We did some recording of situations where I dressed up as the King character and it was a total blast.
   Rick arranged sessions at a sporting goods store and insurance agency, and the people involved were fantastic sports about playing along. I was dressed like the King, and dropped into everyday life situations to see what would happen. Some people were in on the joke, others weren’t. It was a total learning experience, and a necessary part of the process of developing the King’s persona.
   Lake Forest is the stomping ground of the filthy rich in Chicago, so it was especially hilarious to see the looks on some of the faces as they tried to figure out who or what was in front of them. I’m still trying to figure out who this character is, but this was a great way to experiment with it.
   After an entire morning of laughs and fun, Jim and I drove to Rockford to fill in as guest hosts on WNTA radio’s afternoon show from 3-5. That was another pleasant experience, and we got to play radio and hang out. The vibe was all positive and low pressure, how radio should always be.
   Then, my roommate and her son took me out for a delicious birthday dinner at Red Lobster and I laughed some more. That laid back perfect vibe was there too, and we had a funny waitress that added to the whole experience. Everything was clicking on all cylinders, and I just let it happen.
   My phone didn’t stop ringing all day with people wishing me a happy birthday, and I received text after text from others. My email count was right around 1000 of people who took the time to remember my birthday. 1000! Yes, some of them only said ‘happy birthday’ – but so many others took time to write a heartfelt personal note and it blew me away. I had no idea I meant anything to anyone, much less that many people. I was overcome with emotion, and it touched me deeply.
   A dented can’s dents can run extremely deep. I’ll admit I have a very difficult time with feeling any kind of acceptance or love from anyone. I just do. I have so many painful memories from my childhood that are still there, no matter how hard I try to get past them. My father’s mean spirited cutting words were devastating, as was my step mother’s laughter afterward. It was excruciating.
   I know I’m not the only one who experienced any of that ugliness, and that stinks. I don’t wish that on anyone, and I know there are countless others who have their own dents to deal with from childhood even though they’re fully grown adults. It may fade, but it NEVER fully goes away.
   That’s why I freely write about my life in every aspect. I hope it will help others deal with their deepest feelings and know they aren’t alone. I never thought I was the only one having problems, even though at times it can seem that way. There are those who had it way worse than I ever did.
   I never got sexually abused or locked in a cage for years or any of those horror stories we have all read and heard, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have issues. I wish I didn’t, and it’s getting a whole lot better, but certain soft spots and hot buttons are still there. Self esteem is one of them.
   Being mercilessly made fun of and told one is useless over and over again during the formative years has a lasting effect. I never fully believed it, but hearing it over and over sure has a way of rocking a kid’s psyche to the core. That’s when we’re the most impressionable, and hearing ugly negative things from those who we thought were supposed to love us really can cross our wires.
   I know it did for me, and it’s probably a major reason I was attracted to live performing. Those laughs and cheers are as close as I’ve gotten to love, and I never get sick of hearing them. I don’t know what I’d have become had I not been a performer, but ‘inmate’ is probably high on the list.
   Human beings are complex and delicate creatures, and we need love and nurturing throughout our formative years to know what it feels like to be able to pass it on to not only our children but humanity itself. How can we show others genuine love if we haven’t been shown it ourselves?
   This has been the basis of my inner anguish for as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt the right thing to do in life was love others, but I didn’t know what it was like to receive it and that’s what I’ve always wanted most. I thought it should come from a family, but I never had anything close to anything that fit my picture. It’s always been a struggle, and I’m fighting it even now.
   There were roughly 1000 people who took the time to wish me a happy birthday and many told me they were glad I was part of their lives or how much something I did meant to them. 1000! What an ecstatic feeling that is! I’m grateful for every single one, and I will answer each one of those emails personally if it takes me until my next birthday. They are all special to me.
   But, I can’t help but notice that my siblings couldn’t find thirty seconds to do the same. That’s a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever solve, but it’s not on me anymore. I said I was sorry and I meant it. I need to focus on 1000 people who like me – not 3 who don’t. That’s difficult for a dented can.

Yearly Maintenance

March 16, 2012

Tuesday March 13th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

Tomorrow is my birthday, and today is the perfect day to take a few minutes to examine every aspect of my life in detail with as much objectivity as possible to assess where I am on every level and decide where I want to go. It was a very eventful year to say the least.

By far and away my diabetes diagnosis was the biggest thing I’ve had to deal with. It’s a life changer, but mostly in a good way. I don’t think I’ve ever had this long of a consistent streak of eating well and regular exercise, at least not as an adult. That has been a gigantic step in a positive direction, as I feel better than I can ever remember. What a turnaround.

I haven’t had a single soda in going on nine months, and I wouldn’t have believed that’s humanly possible just a short year ago. I was hooked for many years, and I’m sure it’s had a negative effect on my health but at least I’ve kicked it and can’t see myself going back.

Physical health is important, and I’m finally starting to improve in that area for a lasting basis. I intend to keep that up, and hopefully it will lead to good things in other areas also. One thing I notice is an almost miraculous improvement is my depression spells are gone. I used to get some hellish blasts for many years, but it seems to have totally disappeared.

That’s very encouraging, but everything else is still a little shaky for my tastes. Earning a living is becoming an issue, and I need to transform myself completely from a nightclub comedian to something else a little more unique. Nightclub comedians per se are way less than a dime for a dozen dozen these days, and I don’t want to get mixed in with the rest.

Twenty years ago it might have been at least a little different to be a full time comedian, but now it’s getting tougher and tougher for many reasons. The overabundance of horrible acts who will work for pathetic money has cut into the ability for seasoned pros like me to command top dollar, at least on the club level. It’s getting watered down more and more.

I don’t think radio is the answer either. Radio people are getting fired left and right also, and the one word that gets the biggest laugh when describing a radio career is ‘stability’. I do enjoy being on the air, but there’s just no money in it – not enough to live on anyway.

All signs are pointing to being an entrepreneur. That’s scary in a lot of ways, as there is not a lot of security in that and zero guarantees of success. I’ve never been afraid to take a risk and roll the dice on wild projects, but that’s going to stop in the near future. I’m at an age where security really does sound pretty good. But how does anyone manage to get it?

The whole world is changing so fast, it’s difficult to keep up with anything these days. I know I’m not the only one in this position, but I’m in it and don’t know what the solution is other than to keep slugging. I’m trying, but it sure isn’t easy. Life has got a few tricks.

I’m doing well in some areas, and not so well in others. I’m not the best, but I’m not the worst either. I am above ground, and that’s a plus. Let’s see what this next year will bring.

A Tire Retired

March 14, 2012

Monday March 12th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Fox Lake, IL

Well geez, I haven’t had an unexpected crisis come out of nowhere to kick me square in the ass in what – almost two weeks now? What gives? Have I finally paid my cosmic debt to the universe? Oops, I guess not. Today reminded me I’ve still got some balance due.

Everything started out OK. Days like this usually do. The weather was outstanding, and that usually puts me in a good mood right there. I drove to Rockford with Jim McHugh to fill in on WNTA radio from 3-5pm and that went splendidly well. We had a positive vibe and it was a lot of fun as it usually is. We drove back, and I dropped Jim off at his house.

I was intending to drive to the Gurnee Mills Mall to get my exercise walk in, but I had a little glitch happen when I popped a tire on I-294 going about 75 miles an hour. That sure put a damper on everything, and of course it happened when I was right smack dab in the middle lane coming around a curve with nowhere to escape. I thought I was going to die.

The only thing I could do was get out of the way of traffic, but the car was wobbling so much it was difficult to control – even though it was a rear tire that blew. It was shredded to the rim, and I barely missed getting hit by a semi by what seemed like less than a foot.

I wasn’t able to drive on the shredded tire, and was stuck in a very vulnerable spot right in a blind spot on a curve. There was barely a shoulder to park on, and it was scary as hell to squeeze out of the driver’s side door so I could change the tire and get to a safer place.

It’s amazing how quickly things can happen and how fast a person‘s mood can change. I went from sunny and happy to nervous and scared in under thirty seconds. I hadn’t had a blowout in years, and it totally took me by surprise – especially since I’d just put so many miles on these same tires through bad weather and mountain roads in the last little while.

I guess it could have been worse. I could have had the tire pop on one of the mountain roads I was on and slide off the side. Not all of those roads had guard rails, and I sure did notice that as I was driving on them during a rain storm. It looked dangerous, but this was no picnic either. I was stuck in a horrible place to break down, but that’s Mr. Lucky’s life.

Then to make it worse, (it ALWAYS gets worse) my AAA card just expired on March 1st. I’ve had a ton of bills come due lately, and that one just didn’t get paid yet. I laughed out loud when I realized it, and it felt like a bad scene in a movie and I was the lead actor.

Changing a tire is fertile ground for a comedy bit. There’s always that last lug nut that’s impossible to pry loose. The jack is wobbly, semis are passing within an inch of my head, and it’s getting darker. And of course I have to take a hellacious dump too. Funny stuff.

It’s a lot funnier when I don’t have to deal with it unexpectedly. I changed the tire, but it kept getting worse as I couldn’t find a place to buy a new one. I got to a Sears ten minutes after they closed, then a Walmart where their auto department was closed too. Lucky me.

A Radio Rut

March 13, 2012

Sunday March 11th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

Tonight was our four year anniversary show of The Mothership Connection on WLIP in Kenosha, WI. It was by far our busiest program to date, with a steadily consistent flow of calls and visits from former co-hosts, past guests and loyal listeners. It was a giant party.

What a blast it was to hear from one long time friend of the show after another for four solid hours. We would be talking with one person and the phones kept ringing with a line of others waiting to have their turn to tell us how much they liked being part of the show.

This is by far and away the longest association I’ve had with any radio project I’ve ever been a part of, but that’s not saying much. The second longest was my tenure at The Loop in Chicago which was just over a year and a month. That was the big leagues, this is not.

As much fun as it can be, and it often is, The Mothership Connection is little more than a glorified hobby. It’s a chance to play radio once a week, and exercise my chops as far as hosting a talk show. On The Loop and most of my other radio jobs, I was the smart mouth sidekick on the morning show who could come up with a quick line before the next song.

Hosting a talk show is a completely different energy. It’s a tight rope walk without nets, and that’s exactly how I like it. It forces me to be constantly alert on the air, and ready for anything. A countless number of things can go wrong on any live broadcast, and I’ve had to adjust on the fly as has everyone else involved with the show. It’s always an adventure.

That being said, adventures don’t pay bills. I’m at the point now I need to start turning a buck with this hobby or get off the air. Four years is a long time to try to breathe life into a project of any kind, but every time I seriously consider quitting I always opt to continue.

I know we have listeners, just not enough of them. And those we have we really need to be able to identify and contact easily to inform them of upcoming broadcasts, live events or even interact with each other. And we need to record our shows to share with everyone who doesn’t live in earshot, which is 99.999999% of the world. The internet is our key.

Whatever station we happen to be on really doesn’t matter. I’m surprised AM radio still exists quite frankly. I can’t say it will four years from now, so that’s an even bigger cause for alarm and concern. Doing what we’re doing now isn’t going to cut it. We need to take a long, hard honest look at everything about the show and see what can be built upon.

After four years of significant effort, I am highly dissatisfied with the results as a whole of the show. I’ve had chances to meet and interview some unbelievably interesting people along the way, but there’s still a lot more I could do to kick this into a much higher gear.

Like most other entertainment products, most of it comes down to marketing. We aren’t even close to where I know we can be, and that’s frustrating. It was great to hear from our old friends, but to get to whatever the next level is we have to basically start over again.

Squeaky Clean Comedy

March 11, 2012

Saturday March 10th, 2012 – Libertyville, IL

I had a small show tonight at the Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. That’s a friendly but tiny space where in all likelihood I’ll never be able to turn a living wage, even though I do enjoy working there. The capacity is 50 or 60 tops, but when it’s full it’s really fun.

Tonight was both full and fun, and the lack of money took a back seat as it usually does when I’m enjoying an experience. It’s a smaller room, and that’s fine. David Stuart is the person who owns it and he wasn’t aiming to create a giant venue. It’s a training space for improvisers and actors and a solid one at that. It’s intimate, comfortable and easy to like.

We’ve tried two or three standup only shows in the space and so far haven’t been able to draw flies. It’s difficult to promote shows from total scratch and expect people to show up for something or someone they’re not familiar with. This venue isn’t known for standup.

As disheartening as it might be, I’m not taking it personally that we haven’t been able to put fannies in seats as of yet. I’m used to not being a draw, so I didn’t take it personally as I might in another situation. This room will have to be built slowly, and that’s a hard fact.

David asked me if I wanted to close a show of long form improvisation. I wish I had an exact definition of exactly what that is, but it was a two man act and they were both quite entertaining. Just because I don’t do something doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate how hard it is to do well. Improv done well isn’t easy, just like standup or acting or any other craft.

It’s a challenge for me to go up and close the show in a situation that’s not what I might be used to in a comedy club. I’ve been around the block a few times, and can handle most every kind of on stage situation imaginable because I’ve faced it numerous times before.

Adding to the challenge tonight was the age range, which was about 7 to 70. Having the dynamic of kids in an audience does change the vibe, as does older people. Tonight’s mix featured both, and that makes it about as difficult as it gets. I didn’t mind, I was prepared.

Working the cruise ship circuit was excellent training, as was living in Utah before that. I had to make major adjustments when I lived in Salt Lake City, and at first I found it very intimidating to have kids in an audience. I had never seen that before, but I got used to it.

Cruise ships were the same way. I hated them at first, but I came around eventually and it made me grow as an entertainer. Now I actually like having kids in the audience, as I’m forced to pay more attention to the moment. It causes me to maintain a complete focus for the whole time I’m on stage, whether I want to or not. That’s good practice, and I need it.

I worked squeaky clean tonight, not even one damn or hell. It’s good business to be able to pull that off, and far too few comedians can do it. If my name is known as one who can pull it off, my money will go up significantly. I could use a brand new solid 45 minutes to one hour, but that’s harder than it sounds. I did do about 35 tonight. That’s a healthy start.