Archive for May, 2012

Staying In Practice

May 31, 2012

Tuesday May 29th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

  Anyone who claims to be a performer of any kind needs to get on stage regularly in order to get better, but it’s especially true for comedians. We need that dynamic of a live audience to develop our timing and tell us what’s working and what isn’t. We are a slave to what audiences will buy.

A musician or singer can practice alone for hours to improve his or her technical skills, then go up on stage in a live setting and do virtually the same thing they rehearsed. A comedian can’t just memorize some jokes or routines like a laundry list and expect it all to be a ready to go product.

There are always tweaks and adjustments to make, and the feedback of an audience is required to help us sort out what stays and what goes. That’s what ‘polishing up an act’ is about, and what makes it even harder is that audiences change every single show. Not every crowd likes the same things, and it can be maddening to try to please everyone – although most comedians try anyway.

This week I’m back at Zanies in Chicago for another engagement and I’m grateful for a chance to be able to perform six nights in a row. I have always enjoyed working on my craft, and if I had my way I’d get on stage somewhere seven nights a week for the rest of my life if they’d let me.

That used to be a lot easier to do, and I thrived on it for years. Club bookings used to be called ‘weeks’ for a reason. That’s how long we were hired to do shows. It usually started on a Tuesday just like this week did, and would often run through Sunday. Zanies is one of the few clubs in the country that still have that long of a week. Most other clubs are down to two or three nights tops.

A lot of the bigger club acts get booked for Friday and Saturday nights only. It’s for two shows each night, and they can make a very nice chunk of change for those four shows. That’s fine, but I would love to come into a town and sell out a club from Tuesday through Sunday consistently.

There’s a groove that builds up with regular performance, and it’s a feeling of power to be that razor sharp at any given time. Athletes talk about ‘the zone’, and I’m sure musicians get that way if they’ve been on tour for a while. The old adage is really true – if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

The audience tonight was pretty dead, but that can be expected on weeknights. Zanies has their ‘Good Neighbor Night’ promotion where people living in the surrounding zip codes can come in for a very low price. I think it may be a buck, but I could be wrong. Whatever it is, it’s very low.

The other acts on the show are good guys, and pretty laid back on stage and off. That’s fine by me, as I tend to get pretty animated and energetic. I love nothing more than to pound an audience into submission and keep pounding them until they can’t laugh any harder. That’s what I live for.

Having people line up after a show and tell me they almost choked to death from their laughter or better yet wet themselves, even if only a few drops, makes me feel I’ve done my job. There is no better reward for a comedian than hearing a customer needs a change of underwear. Paydirt!

Tonight I had to work very hard to get and keep their attention, but I didn’t let up and took it as a challenge. This is what I do, and I gave them the best I had. I’m grateful for the chance to do it.

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Absolutely Nothing

May 29, 2012

Monday May 28th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

War…Huh…Good God y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Edwin Starr said it best, and I wholeheartedly concur with those sentiments – even though he didn’t write the song. It was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, two of the all time classic Motown songwriters who didn’t pull any punches and wrote from the heart. They tapped into the pulse of the people.

Today is Memorial Day, and while I’m eternally aware of and grateful for the extreme sacrifice made by the generations of American Armed Forces who gave part or all of their lives defending my  homeland, I find their valiant efforts to be an extreme misuse of underappreciated resources.

I can’t figure out why war still has to exist at all. We’ve had thousands of years to work out our differences, but there’s no sign of anything being resolved any time soon. What the hell is wrong with us as a collective? I’m really getting cynical in my old age, and I wish I didn’t need to be.

Can’t we as a species of pissed off hairless apes find a way to work this out already? Wouldn’t one think there would have been some kind of worldwide truce pact drawn up by now that we all can live with? I’m not angry at anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are a few people quite a bit closer to home I’m not all that thrilled with, but that doesn’t mean I’m planning on killing them.

Wars have been going on since Biblical times, and I’m sure a lot longer than that. I don’t think anyone who ever lost a child in one can come up with a cause that’s bigger than the loss they felt when their child died. Today was a day to remember all of the families who have had that horror pay them a personal visit. My heart goes out to them for their loss, but why does it still continue?

The unpopular but true answer is – money. There’s money in war, even though it comes with a price of total devastation to a percentage of the population on both sides of the battlefield. I don’t think any amount of money is worth that high of a price, but my thoughts don’t mean anything.

I’m just a grunt – exactly the class of people who end up having to fight the wars. I was lucky enough to have been too young for Vietnam and too old for the Persian Gulf, but there are those that weren’t and lives were wasted in both places. I don’t think that’s fair. Make the leaders go.

If there was a dispute in a neighborhood between two families, wouldn’t the fathers be the ones to be expected to work it out? They’d meet face to face, and either settle it peacefully with words or maybe have a fist fight. If that didn’t settle it, maybe they would stop speaking to one another.

That’s a pretty good way to avoid a body count if you ask me. My sister Tammy has chosen to give me the silent treatment for going on twenty years now. I might not like it, but at least I’m on the sunny side of the dirt and can move on. That would be a good solution to wars in my opinion.

If our country doesn’t get along with another country, let’s just stop speaking to them until they either shape up or die on their own. We kind of did it with Cuba, and that wasn’t so bad now was it? As far as our government is concerned, Cuba is dead to us. Joking aside, war stinks. I wish it were avoidable, and I bet so do all those who have lost a loved one to the bloodlust of mankind’s greedy nature. If we’re going to evolve, war has to stop. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Theory Of A Thousand

May 29, 2012

Sunday May 27th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’ve never been a fan of anything mathematical, but for whatever reason I’ve been crunching a bunch of numbers in my head of late and it’s been captivating me. I’m trying to figure out a hard number of how much I’d need to be financially secure for the rest of my life – assuming I’m able to live to a ‘normal’ age. So far, nothing in my life has been normal, but I’ll assume it anyway.

I’ll even take it ten years farther than the normal life span according to the Bible of ‘three score and ten’, or 70 years. I’ll start figuring from 80, even though I find it hard to picture myself being that old. Then again, I never thought I’d make 49 – which I’m going to painfully round off to 50.

Basically, I’m looking to survive comfortably for another 30 years. My standards are as low as dream standards get, but I don’t need all that much to live quite nicely at this stage. I’m way past the point of needing a mansion and a fleet of Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld expensive cars. I’m not a material guy, even though I often joke about what I’d do with wealth. I really want the security.

There’s nothing wrong with anyone going ape if they can, but I’m just past that point in what’s important to me. I’d get as big as or maybe even bigger of a kick out of doing for others than I’d ever be able to squeeze out of buying anything for myself. I just need my things to be functional.

I’d be totally fine with renting a livable apartment space for the rest of my life. I have no desire to be a homeowner ever again, as the year or so I experienced it was constant misery. If that isn’t smart business, so be it. I’d rather call my landlord when the toilet gets plugged than a plumber.

I don’t even need a brand new car either. Just something that runs and starts will be fine. I’d be happy with that, and as I get older the last thing I’m going to do is buy a hot car trying to impress women. I’ve watched way too many worn out weenies waste wads on a Corvette. It won’t be me.

The numbers that intrigue me the most are those of potential fans. The American population is now right around 314 million. Canada is close to 35 million. Australia is roughly 23 million and The United Kingdom checks in at about 62 million. All totaled, that’s 434 million who allegedly speak English as their first language. I won’t even count anyone else who speaks it secondarily.

Now, I’ll knock a quick 34 million off the total and make it a nice round 400 million. If I could squeeze $20 out of just one tenth of one percent of them either for a live performance, CD, DVD, t-shirt, book or other trinket it would add up to 400,000 customers and $8 million in my pocket.

I’ll make it even simpler than that. I’d be thrilled if I could pack 1000 people in a venue for one show a night – every night for a whole year. That’s 365,000 total, and I’ll slice the ticket prices in half to $10. That way, they may be more likely to buy a DVD, CD, t-shirt or book. I may be able to squeeze $30 or $40 out of a large percentage, but I’ll keep it at $10 each. It’s still $3,650,000.

Cut taxes and expenses out of that and I’ll leave myself with half – $1,825,000. I’d put away $1 million immediately and be left with $825,000. Divided by 30 years, that’s $27,500 a year. I can squeak by on that, and would be grateful to get it. This all looks great on paper, but I’d be blown away if I could draw 1000 people ONCE. I better work on that first. No wonder I stink at math.

Maximizing The Moment

May 27, 2012

Saturday May 26th, 2012 – Wonder Lake, IL

   One of the most humbling parts of the entertainment business is that no matter how satisfying a particular show or evening or week of shows may be, there’s always the next one to worry about. Too often there’s not enough time to savor when things go well, and that minimizes the moment.

We wear so many hats as entertainers that at any given time we could be a promoter, producer, sales person, babysitter of egos, damage control specialist and a vast array of other positions that have nothing whatsoever to do with actual on stage performing. The work is never ever finished.

Last night was an absolute blast, but that’s over today. There’s a wedding or banquet going on in the space where we did the show, and nobody there knows or cares there was a killer comedy show in that very room just 24 hours before. A moment was created – but then it’s gone forever.

Tonight was a brand new set of circumstances in a completely different location with a mix of entirely new characters, even though the result was pretty much the same. The people who came had a good time, and I got paid at the end of the night. On a basic scale, that’s showbiz success.

We have to do that same process over and over and over again, and that opens us up to having all kinds of unexpected results at random times that can have maddening results. Any number of catastrophes can jump up out of nowhere to ruin the party, and at some point it happens to us all.

Tonight went pretty smoothly all around, even though there was that typical table of boozed up idiots who wouldn’t stop babbling and ruined the show for the rest of the people who really liked it. I had to be a little sterner than I’d prefer, but I had to let them know they were being too loud.

I don’t think the rest of the audience expected that, and I could feel the energy get sucked from the room for a few seconds as I was doing it. I was able to get them right back, as I have years of experience of handling these situations but it takes years of being in them to know how to do it.

The show tonight was in a town called Wonder Lake, IL, even though I didn’t notice much of a town anywhere near the place we worked. It was set up by a former comedy student named Ruth Ruhnke who lives near there, and she asked if I’d be willing to do a show. Of course I said yes.

There was very minimal risk involved because I made my nut for the week last night and could afford to take a chance tonight. It was only 11 miles from my house, so even if nobody showed it wouldn’t be a total disaster. I told Ruth I would not charge her if it flopped, so it was a win/win.

It’s great experience to run a show of any kind, and I highly recommend everyone tries it to see exactly how difficult it is to get people in a room for any reason. It takes weeks of hard work and there’s still no guarantee even one buttock will show up to fill half a seat. It’s a major challenge.

I know Ruth worked her butt off promoting this night, and there was a very respectable turnout to reward her for her hard work. I helped her by doing a solid headliner set, and she helped me in return by handling all the things I never enjoyed. I just want to show up and perform, but that’s a luxury that’s fading fast. Times are different now. We all have to start setting up our own shows.

Country Club Kudos

May 26, 2012

Friday May 25th, 2012 – Frankfort, IL

   When things go like they’re supposed to, standup comedy is the best high I could ever imagine. It’s a feeling of utter euphoria for the performer, but the audience gets to enjoy it too. How many who ever watch a drunk or a drug addict end up having any amount of that pleasure themselves?

Comedy is the ultimate win/win, but only when it works. When it doesn’t, it’s miserable for the performer but in most cases the audience doesn’t even care. That’s what really makes it a horrific experience. Nobody watching it has any clue of how much the performer is hurting on that stage.

It’s never a one way proposition – it’s a dance. The performer leads but an audience must come along right behind in order for it to work. When that happens, magic follows. It’s a feeling I have never grown weary of experiencing, and I felt it once again tonight. This is what keeps me going.

My friend and fellow WLS radio ‘Jerry’s Kidder’ Ken Sevara booked me for a show tonight at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, IL. It was the first time they’ve ever tried comedy, and I’m flattered Ken asked me to kick it off. It couldn’t have gone better, and I hope they keep it going.

Everything about this situation was right. The place wanted us, which is always a plus. A lot of times shows end up being booked by places who don’t want it. They think it might only be a way to make some easy money quickly, which is never the case. NO money in comedy is ever ‘easy’.

This show was done correctly. The first thing I saw when walking in the door was a nice poster placed in a conspicuous spot where it could be seen by people who might actually want to see the show. What a novel concept! Way too often posters get taped up above the urinals – or not at all.

The General Manager Jim Johnson made it a point to greet opening act Brian Hicks and myself at the door, and get our introductions so he could bring us up on stage with some credits. He was the host, and did an outstanding job of bringing us up with class and respect. That sure does help.

Brian always does a professional job, and tonight was no exception. He set the tone and put the audience exactly where they needed to be. They were there to laugh, but they weren’t necessarily a comedy audience. There’s a different vibe from a crowd that’s in a comedy club and have been trained as opposed to a show like this where they’ve never seen it before. Brian knew what to do.

They took a break between acts, not something that’s popular with comedians because it breaks up the focus the opening act had to work so hard to get. I informed Jim about that fact, but didn’t make it an issue. I told him I’d roll with it however he wanted, and I could tell he was getting it.

By the time I got on they were primed and ready to go. I knew exactly what to do from the start and they were with me the whole time. They weren’t drunk or nasty, and let me take them where I wanted. That’s what makes it fun for everyone, and I know these people will become regulars.

So many things about this whole experience were pleasant, it gives me hope that comedy is not dead quite yet. From Jim Johnson to Ken Sevara to Brian Hicks to the whole audience, this was a perfect example of everyone doing their parts to perfection. Why can’t every gig work this well?

Nowhere Fast

May 26, 2012

Thursday May 24th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Life is hard, show business is harder. There’s never a time to just lay back and relax, as there is always some major project that needs attention or impending problem on the horizon. One has to mentally be about six moves ahead at all times, yet still find a way to focus on the task at hand.

I’m so far into it, I don’t know which way is up anymore. I don’t know if I ever did. I just kept showing up wherever they would have me, and kept things pretty loose. I’m paying for that now, as I’m not really going anywhere special. I’m still on the beach, waiting for my ship to come in.

It may never come in, and that’s just how it is. There are no guarantees of success in this game, even when a person has talent. I’ve heard stories of people like Lewis Black who said he thought he would never make it and was prepared to live out his days in obscurity – and then he popped.

That’s a great story, but what about those that don’t? Those are the ones nobody ever hears of, and they die in obscurity. I can think of several really talented comedians that have either died or are still spinning their wheels in obscurity trying like me just to stay afloat from month to month.

There are a lot of factors that determine who makes it and who doesn’t other than raw talent or ability, and two of them are timing and sheer luck. Those are two ingredients someone either has or they don’t – and I don’t. I have been in the wrong place at the wrong time most of the time.

I can’t use that as an excuse though, and am not trying to blame that on my lack of what I think is success. I’ve made more than my share of stupid choices to go along with my lack of luck and timing, and that’s why I’m sitting where I’m sitting. I did learn from my mistakes though, and if I am able to get a good opportunity in the next little while I really think I’ll be ready to handle it.

What I will choose to take as a positive is that I have made some unbelievably poor choices for a long time, but am still around and in a position to take another run at something. I will use what I know to hopefully help others coming up the ladder save needless heartache of blowing it like I did on the way up so they can move ahead the correct way. I’ve shot myself directly in both feet.

The good news is, I’m not dead yet. I still have some ability, and this is a big world. I’ve pissed a few people off, but in the big scheme of it all a lot more people like me than don’t. What puts it all into true perspective is that the majority of the several billion people on this planet don’t even know who I am. That’s a giant face slapper. Touching even 1% of everyone is a mammoth task.

I’m not even talking about worldwide notoriety. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be known to anyone in Africa, Asia, South America and most of Europe. I may rustle up a scant few followers at some point in Australia, England and some other English speaking places in Europe, but other than that I doubt if my jokes will be translated into Mandarin or Swahili. I’m a speck.

I’ll be fine if I can just get my name and product out there and allow it to be sampled by people who might become paying customers. That’s what I’ve been trying to do since the very first time I ever stepped on a stage, but it sure is a lot harder than I thought. I just want to be able to make a decent living entertaining a group of fans who enjoy what I do. Is that too much to ask? Maybe.

Visit Lake County

May 24, 2012

Wednesday May 23rd, 2012 – North Chicago, IL

    It’s time to transform theory into reality, and make something positive happen. Whining won’t accomplish that, so it was up early to attend the quarterly breakfast meeting of Visit Lake County of which I am a member to kiss hands and shake babies – and verse vicea. Networking is a must.

Lake County, IL is an excellent location for me. It’s halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago, and also very near Kenosha, WI where I have a number of friends in addition to ‘The Mothership Connection’ radio show Sunday nights on AM 1050 WLIP. I wasn’t thrilled about moving out to the sticks when I did, but I’m finding it much to my liking now. This is the perfect spot for me.

That being said, planting some roots is a smart thing to do. Joining Visit Lake County will help me do that if I follow through and use all the resources membership offers. The staff there are all down to earth sweet people, but my main contact is Jayne Nordstrom. She has been a sweetheart to deal with and always directs me to anything in the immediate area she thinks might be useful.

She suggested I show up for this quarterly event to see what’s going on in the area this summer and I’m glad I did. There’s a lot going on throughout the county during the summer, and tourism is a huge part of it. I have to believe I can fit in somewhere, and I want to. This is my home now.

As I’ve said before, I’d also like to do this same formula in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford, IL. Between those four places and everything in between which includes Lake County there have to be countless possibilities off the radar of what would be considered ‘normal’ work.

I want to establish myself as the go to source when it comes to holiday party comedy shows or emcee work for all kinds of events. Pressing the flesh at meetings like this will help plant seeds to be sewn at a later date. The good thing is, I’m not competing with an ocean of others as in comedy.

Getting booked consistently in top level comedy clubs is getting harder and harder, but this is a whole new potential market. Awareness is the first requirement, and then word of mouth kicks in after that. I know I’ll be able to deliver when someone hires me, and be easy to deal with as well.

That’s when word spreads, and hopefully before long I’ll be asked to do all kinds of events that nobody advertised. And, it’s all close to home on top of that. There are far more than the 100,000 number of potential fans Lenny Bruce used to talk about located between those four cities, and it might come close in Lake County alone if I work these contacts hard enough. This is prime area.

The paradigms of what used to be absolutely etched in stone are now changing completely, and keeping close to home is a tremendous perk. Gas prices aren’t going down any time soon, so this is absolutely worth my effort. Profits of traveling entertainers of all kinds are being sucked up by fuel costs, so it’s time to adapt or get out of the business. But I don’t know what else I would do.

And truth be told, I don’t want to do anything else. I love the creative part of what I’m doing; it just doesn’t bring in enough consistent cash at the moment. If I can cut way down on travel costs and find more local or at least regional sources of income, it would improve my life dramatically in a very short time. Everyone dreams of Hollywood, but right now I’ll settle for Lake County.

Psycho Babble TV

May 24, 2012

Tuesday May 22nd, 2012 – Mt. Prospect, IL

   The King of Uranus has finally landed! I – or should I say ‘he’ – recorded a pair of appearances this evening that will be seen in two future episodes of my friend Mike Preston’s cable TV show “Psycho Babble”. It was great fun as always to be part of the show’s energy, and long overdue.

I really need to dive in with both feet and make this character come to life. It will either be my show business legacy or a flaming cherry on top of my sundae of personal failures. Either way, I have to follow through. Ideas aren’t a thing without action, and at least I’m taking some. Finally.

All the excuses I want to make won’t change the icy fact that I need to make something happen but quick – or I’ll be derriere deep in a steaming heap of trouble. Doing what I’ve been doing for decades is just not working like it used to, and I need a new game plan. I’m backed into a corner.

I need something to make me a player in the show business game, and this will either work like a charm or be the final nail in my coffin. Nobody in Hollywood is waiting for another Caucasian journeyman to show up after years of touring comedy clubs to turn into the next world wide star.

If I’m going to squeeze out any kind of significant financial payoff to compensate for all of my years of struggle, I need to take a trip in a totally different direction. What I’ve been doing isn’t leading to what I thought it could, would or should, and it won’t any time soon. That’s the truth, even if it’s hard to swallow – and it is. The public just has not bought what I have been selling.

Mike Preston told me a great quote tonight from Graham Parker that says “I don’t appeal to the masses and they don’t appeal to me.” Apparently it’s a lyric in one of his songs, and immediately upon hearing it Graham Parker acquired me as a fan. I can relate more to that than to the public.

The King of Uranus is completely different. All I basically did was put on some goofy clothing and throw out some random bits and pieces of obscure riffs I borrowed from obscure sources the masses of today would never know. I used a helping of George Clinton and then added a slice of Superstar Billy Graham for starters, then tossed in a tiny spoonful of R.W. Schambach for flavor.

Schambach was an evangelist who used to be on radio and TV when I was a kid. His charisma was unbelievably strong, and he had a haunting guttural wail I’d compare to Bon Scott or Brian Johnson of AC/DC. I don’t know if he’s living or dead, but his style will continue on with me.

Every comic character has influences, whether they admit it or not. Woody Allen pays homage to Bob Hope and Groucho Marx. Johnny Carson worshipped Jack Benny and Jonathan Winters. I am putting new ingredients into the character of the King that I don’t necessarily use in my show now.  I’m a big fan of George Clinton and Superstar Graham, but they’re not comedy influences.

I’ll keep working on it, and am grateful to Mike for letting me experiment. He’s got a talented bunch of regulars in his ensemble, and I’m flattered to be one of them. The show’s website is an experience all unto itself, with everything from strippers and porn stars to celebrity interviews of varying degrees. I’d love to see Mike hit major pay dirt, but he’s still trying to cultivate his core audience just like I am. Love it or loathe it, but please check it out. www.psychobabbletv.com.

Computer Confusion

May 22, 2012

Monday May 21st, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Is the internet a good thing? I’m still not completely convinced. Parts of it are nothing short of a modern day miracle. It’s the single most dramatic leap in the communication process since the printing press, and has completely revolutionized modern life as a whole. That’s the good news.

The not so good news is that most of us don’t need all that and never did. We were absolutely fine before our entire world was set on its ear without us asking for it, but now we’re all forced to get on the internet bandwagon whether we want to or not. Those who don’t are sadly lacking.

I’ll be the first to admit, life is passing me by and I can do nothing to stop it. It was difficult to keep up before, but now it’s downright impossible. Who has time to stay current with everything that’s happening these days? I know I don’t. I feel more lost every day, and it’s very frustrating.

No matter the subject, there are now countless websites devoted to it that make it only a button touch away. That’s very convenient, but is it for our own good? It used to require digging deeply into the bowels of our local library to find certain tidbits of information. Now it’s all right there.

Is that a good thing? It’s convenient, that’s for sure. But is it in our best interests as a species to have everything so effortlessly available? It sure is the recipe for us to get fatter, lazier and not to mention dumber – which we totally are. One would assume that it would be completely opposite.

We’ve got all this knowledge at our fingertips, but do we use it? No, we’re too busy surfing for more pornography or putting up flatulent Facebook posts telling everyone on our list what we ate for lunch or showing the latest pictures of some relative’s cross eyed cloven hoofed demon baby.

Who the hell cares? I sure don’t, but I have more than 4500 ‘friends’ who constantly post tripe like that on a daily basis. And are those people really friends? I’ve met quite a few over time, but to call them friends is a bit of a stretch. Some are fans. Some are acquaintances. Some I have NO idea at all why they would want to be associated with me, but alas there they are. It’s a mystery.

I know I sound like my grandpa, but I think he would have hated this by now. He was a student of human nature, and liked to get out in public and meet people belly to belly. He was very social and knew how to engage people – especially total strangers. That skill is shrinking by the minute.

Who gets out and interacts face to face anymore? Not many. What’s the purpose? Kids can put on a headset and sit at a computer screen and play video games with other kids around the world. On one hand, that’s about as cool as it gets. On the other, it’s amputating our basic social skills.

It’s totally killing my business. I used to be able to count on making at least a passable living in the live entertainment field, but that’s shrinking by the day with You Tube offering every last act in history who has ever darkened a stage to anyone who dials it up on a computer – FOR FREE.

Granted, the convenience of the internet is fantastic. I love sending emails and keeping in touch with friends all over the world. But it gets to be too much at times, and I’m overwhelmed with all that’s out there that I’m supposed to be keeping up with regularly. I just can’t do it, but who can?

It’s Mr. Weenie Time!

May 22, 2012

Sunday May 20th, 2012 – Peru, IN/Fox Lake, IL

   It was nice to be able to pick up a few bucks last night, but I still had to make the dreaded drive home at some point. I should have been home Friday night, but I kept putting it off seeing friends along the way. I love visiting friends, but that doesn’t change the fact I’ve got to get back home.

One of the few things that still makes a drive even the slightest bit interesting is if I take a route I haven’t taken hundreds of times in the past. Way too often it ends up an extremely boring drive on an Interstate Highway where there’s nothing new to see. Today I made sure I didn’t do that.

I stayed on two lane roads as much as possible and drove through some smaller towns I haven’t been through in many years, if ever. Despite the fact Indiana is flat as a board, it was fun to drive through the towns and take in the scenery. I hadn’t been through Marion in years, and on this day with picture perfect weather it was an enjoyable experience – much better than a dull Interstate.

One of the towns I don’t recall ever passing through is Peru. For whatever reason, I don’t think I’ve ever had reason to go there. If I did, I’d have surely remembered the hot dog restaurant there with the delightful name of “Mr. Weenie”. Who could ever forget a name like that? I had to stop.

I can’t believe that isn’t a worldwide franchise. What an outstanding name. It has a cheesy logo to go with it, and I mean that with the utmost respect. It caught my eye from several blocks away and I immediately took a picture of the sign with my cell phone – and I rarely take any pictures.

It’s the same reaction I get daily from my ‘URANUS 2’ license plate and ‘I (heart) URANUS’ bumper sticker. It strikes the chord of the nine year old in all of us, and it’s just plain funny. I had to stop and snap that picture, and noticed they also sold t-shirts that say “It’s Mr. Weenie Time!”

Now who wouldn’t think that’s big time funny? I asked one of the teenagers who worked there if the owner was in. They said no but if I wanted to leave my info they’d pass it along. They said it’s been open for 50 or 60 years, and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before. It’s pure genius.

I had to order a couple of hot dogs just out of respect. An idea that pure doesn’t come along all that often, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been taken and marketed. The hot dogs were delicious and dirt cheap to boot, even though I haven’t been eating many hot dogs with my diabetes diagnosis.

I can’t believe I’m the only one that would think that. I left my info with the teenagers working and asked that they please forward it to the owner. If I don’t get a call back I’m going to go after this until I get an answer. I can totally see making this a part of the Uranus umbrella of products.

This one is a winner. The owner saw it enough to offer t-shirts for sale, and I doubt if I was the only one to have this reaction. The secret is to find the way to get the rights to be able to pull the most money out of the concept. It obviously hasn’t been done yet, as I’d never heard of it before.

This is the kind of stuff that makes life a fun adventure. If nothing else, it reignited my passion and desire to create my own products and become more entrepreneurial. My mail order books all talk about finding a product and then creating a new market that buys it. It IS Mr. Weenie time!