Archive for July, 2012

Crystal Cloudy

July 31, 2012

Sunday July 29th, 2012 – Oak Creek, WI

   Some days life gets put into frightening perspective. This is one of those days. I volunteered to act as host and emcee of a benefit fundraiser for the family of a woman named Crystal Masionis, a friend of my friend Shelley’s who recently passed away at age 35 from malignant melanoma.

That alone is unbelievably sad, but it gets much worse. Crystal and her husband are the parents of three children ages 16, 9 and 7. Their 7 year old daughter named Eva was born with CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic disorder with so many ugly permutations I don’t want to mention them.

I had never even heard of CHARGE syndrome before today’s fundraiser, and I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It severely disables those who have it, and is devastating to everyone around those who have it. I can’t imagine the extreme horror this family has been through, and to make it even worse if that’s possible their oldest child suffers from Crohn’s Disease. My problems don’t exist.

Shelley announced the fundraiser on the air on The Mothership Connection several weeks ago, and I volunteered to do whatever I could at that time. I know it’s not much, and I know I have no drawing power to contribute, but I felt the least I could do was offer my services out of respect to a family that has been through hell and back and continues to deal with nightmare circumstances.

This wasn’t about me, and I showed up in Oak Creek, WI at the American Legion Hall by 2pm to offer my services however they were needed. I met Crystal’s father, who thanked me for being there. I didn’t know what to say other than I was very sorry to learn about the family’s situation.

It was very uncomfortable all around, but again none of this was about me. As a human being I felt it was the right thing to do to pitch in and help. Unfortunately, there was really no reason for me to be there. There was a DJ and a band, and a very healthy turnout of people who showed up to support the cause. That’s the important thing, and I was glad to stay off to the side and watch.

I’m not angry I had to give up my Sunday afternoon and drive an hour to Wisconsin. If that is my worst problem of the day, week or month – how low pressure and easy is my life? I’m angry things like this have to happen to such nice people. What did they do to deserve this hell? Zilch.

There were all kinds of sweet people in attendance, and I tried to be friendly and say hello to as many as I could. There were other families in attendance with children who also were CHARGE syndrome sufferers, and I had to fight back tears as I thought about how horrific that all must be.

By all accounts, Crystal was one spectacular young lady. She was active in leading fundraisers for other families in need, even though her own world was in serious turmoil. I never got to meet her in person, but if I can leave a legacy half as dynamic as hers my life will have been a success.

My heart goes out to the Crystals of the world and their families. Life is hard enough without a nightmare like that to deal with. I feel totally helpless, and sad beyond words. I can’t understand why life has to be so cruel, but it surely can be. If God does indeed exist, why does this happen?

Broadway Bob

July 31, 2012

Saturday July 28th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I was saddened today to hear news that Bob Metzler passed away. “Broadway Bob” was a real character in the truest sense of the word, and anyone who met him whether they liked him or not surely remembered him. I don’t personally know anyone who didn’t like him, but with a distinct and attention getting personality like he had I’m sure there were some who didn’t. I certainly did.

Broadway Bob was the owner of Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, WI. He was a master showman and an outstanding promoter, and if I’m not mistaken he is the only promoter inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Ocala, FL. That in itself is an impressive accomplishment.

Anyone growing up in Milwaukee or Chicago in the ‘70s and ‘80s will instantly remember the incessant radio and TV commercials with the hyperactive announcer screaming “Sunday, Sunday SUNDAY!!!” They were everywhere, and they must have worked because they kept on running.

Bob’s trademark gimmick was ‘The Olympics of Drag Racing’, a brilliant concept that I highly doubt could be done today without at least a cease and desist letter if not full on lawsuit. It had a ring to it and Bob would bring in the biggest names in drag racing like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney, “TV” Tommy Ivo, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and others.

I don’t know what it is about drag racers, but they lead the league along with mobsters as far as nicknames go. I don’t think there’s ever been even one member of either profession who doesn’t have a nickname in quotation marks that gets added every single time their name appears in print

Tony “The Ant” Spilotro could have easily been the name of a funny car driver had his days in The Mafia not ended with a thud the way they did. I bet he wished he’d been behind the wheel of a big old dragster as he was getting a drum solo played on his coconut with a Louisville Slugger.

“Broadway Bob” could have easily been the name of a Gambino family hit man too, but he had enough to occupy his time with getting people to come see drag races every year. He put together extravaganzas, and I only found out recently he was never affiliated with the main governing arm of the drag racing business. He was a private entity, but paid to bring in big names for exhibition.

I’m not sure of his reputation with the drivers, and maybe he was known for being super cheap like most promoters of any entertainment genre are. I admired him for his promotional flair and entrepreneurial acumen. The guy knew how to brand himself and his business. He was a master.

Every time I saw him he would be wearing some wild getup that included a sweatshirt or t-shirt with “Broadway Bob” air brushed on the chest and some kind of wild pants with an outlandishly loud print. He would also usually have a pair of wild sunglasses to go with it, but that was him.

I met him years ago when I was a pro wrestling ring announcer, and he was very supportive of my comedy aspirations. He came out to some shows when I started in comedy and always made a point to say nice things. He was a one of a kind personality, and I’m always a big fan of those.

The Cosmic Lottery

July 28, 2012

Friday July 27th, 2012 – Glenview, IL

   The absolute single most required ingredient to achieving success at anything in life is a matter of being at the right place at the right time. That’s not really a secret, just like picking the correct lottery numbers. Everybody knows that picking the right series of numbers on the right day wins.

What those exact numbers are however is a completely different puzzle. Who can predict those with any accuracy? If anyone could, they’d do it and keep doing it until the money flow stopped. Sometimes life boils down to just plain old dumb luck and I don’t think it’s any more than that.

That luck can go either way. Look at the people in Aurora, CO who were at the Batman movie premiere. Millions of people attended thousands of movies since movies came out, but was there a mass shooting in a theatre any time in history before this? If there was, I’m sure not aware of it.

Even more seemingly random, in a packed theatre there were a dozen people killed and dozens more wounded. How many people were there that walked away unhurt? 100? 200? Whatever the case, some that night were in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was no way to stop it.

I know in my life I’ve seen several combinations of this equation. I’ve been in the right place at the wrong time and the wrong place at the right time. I’ve even managed to show up at the wrong place at the wrong time multiple times. What I wouldn’t give to get a shot at being at the coveted right place at the right time, but how does it happen? I don’t think it’s something that’s planned.

There are all kinds of examples of happenings throughout history that just seemed to have been in the cards. What if John Lennon hadn’t met Paul McCartney? Would there have been a Beatles as we know it? I can’t say. And what about the equivalent matches that never happened? Doesn’t it make sense that that has occurred as well? What if one of the people missed a bus and blew it?

Elvis Presley hit the biggest cosmic lottery of all time. He was a good looking white kid living in a music town who could sing like a black man. Not only that, he did it at a time in history that will never be duplicated. He exploded along with rock and roll in general, along with mass media in general. Network television spread across the country to the masses, and he was a part of that.

Michael Jackson did that with music videos on MTV. He stepped in and became the king of an all new form of entertainment, and it reached a generation worldwide. Five years before or after, and I have to wonder if Elvis or Michael Jackson would have been the chosen ones as they were.

Dane Cook did it in standup comedy. He manipulated the twenty-something internet generation and created a buzz like none before him with a huge chunk of fans. Again, he was exactly where he needed to be right when he needed to be there. How does that happen? I wish I had an idea.

This all crossed my mind as I was performing at the Laughing Chameleon in Glenview, IL this evening. The 30 or so people were nice and I had fun, but it would have been nicer and  more fun if I were doing it in a full 3000 seat theatre. But that’s another place and another time. Not now.

The Price Of Fun

July 28, 2012

Thursday July 26th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Glenview, IL

   I don’t know how much more fun I can afford to have these days, but I think I’m getting close to my legal limit. I really need to start turning a significant buck with something or other, or my clock is in for a big time cleaning. I’m walking a tight rope in a tornado without any safety nets.

Today I got the last minute bat signal call to fill in on the afternoon talk radio show on WNTA in Rockford, IL. I’m always flattered to get the call, but I wasn’t expecting it today. I was hoping to get caught up with all kinds of other stuff that’s been piling up, but again I dropped everything to answer the call of duty. I don’t mind helping out, and I can use the practice – but was it smart?

Yes, I get paid for my time – but most of that goes to my gas and expenses of getting there not to mention my time. It’s always a time eater to get to the station because it’s not very convenient to where I live. I have to leave early, and that ends up taking more time away from my work day.

Again, I don’t mind doing it and it’s actually a great opportunity to develop my skills in an area that could really stand improving, but I really need to experience some kind of payoff pretty soon or I’m going to have to move on. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee this will ever lead to a job.

Does it hurt that I’m on a legitimate and credible radio station? Absolutely not. Not only that, it helps to improve my skill set on Sunday nights as host of ‘The Mothership Connection’ on WLIP in Kenosha, WI but there’s another project that’s not making any money at all. A guy has to eat.

Can I afford all of this fun? I love doing all of it, but something has to click at some point. I am doing all I can to make it happen, but things like this always take longer than anyone expects. I’d have thought The Mothership Connection would have turned at least a little bit of a buck by now, but it hasn’t. I’ve been working hard at building that up lately, but it’s still a ways from a payday.

In a perfect world which it never is, I’d be able to squeeze everything in and not have to worry about money. I’ve been doing exactly that for years, but I don’t know how long that can last. It’s getting to be late in the fourth quarter, and if I don’t find a way to figure this out the game is lost.

What the exact solution is, I have no idea. I can’t keep doing part time radio and expect to keep doing comedy full time on the road. And at the level I’m doing it, comedy doesn’t have much of a future either. There’s something else that needs to see a substantial payoff or it’s time to can it.

I can’t stand the thought of not doing either one, and that’s why I’ve stayed with them both for so long. Quitting radio or standup comedy would put a giant dagger through my heart, and I want to avoid it at all costs. But who am I kidding – I’m just barely squeaking by by the tiniest margin.

Tonight I worked at a relatively new entertainment venue called ‘The Laughing Chameleon’ in Glenview, IL. It’s a tiny but beautiful room located in a really nice entertainment complex called ‘The Glen’ which has bars, restaurants, shops and town homes. The place may hold 60, and they book everything from improv to magicians to standup comedy. I’m grateful to be close to home.

Lost In Spaceship

July 26, 2012

Wednesday July 25th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL/Libertyville, IL

   I put in another twelve hour work day today – and then I went to teach a comedy class for two more hours. I got so lost in my work that I didn’t even stop to eat. I planned on it, but I never did get around to it. When I get in grooves like this, things get done but a lot more doesn’t. It can get frustrating that everything gets pushed so far back, but also satisfying that there’s progress made.

I’ll choose to focus on the satisfaction first. I spent most of the day working on improvement of The Mothership Connection radio show. I’ve needed to do that for a long time, and I’m getting it going quite nicely. There’s a lot going on, and I’m choosing to spend a lot of energy on it lately.

The subjects we talk about on the show are things people are interested in more and more. The whole December 21st Mayan Calendar thing doesn’t hurt, and now is the time to strike. I’ve been doing the show since 2008, and I’m either going to have a payoff soon or it’s going to be over. It won’t kill me if it’s over, but I will be upset if I don’t give my best effort. That’s not acceptable.

I have very limited resources, but we are on a real radio station and I have creative freedom to do pretty much whatever I want – within reason. WLIP streams online, so that’s my saving grace. With the internet going to cars sooner than later, I’ll be able to have a chance to compete with all the big stations that ever put out a broadcast. That’s huge for us little guys, and I am delighted.

The internet is where I’m going to establish a presence with this show. We’re trying to increase the amount of Facebook friends we have, and it’s working. I’m reaching out all over the world to others who like the subjects we talk about, and there is no shortage. I want to establish pockets of loyal listeners globally, and we’re starting to get some. This is way bigger than standup comedy.

It’s also a way to get The King of Uranus name out there. I call myself that on the air, but don’t draw attention to it. It’s just who I am, and nobody has told me to stop. It’s a perfect match with our theme, and I’m going to run with it. We’re a cross between ‘Coast To Coast AM’ and a good morning show. We have fun with the guests, but don’t make fun of them. We’ve got a good vibe.

My co-host Greg DeGuire is the perfect foil, as he’s really well versed in most subjects we talk about and can speak intelligently about them off the top of his head. He’s the ‘ubergeek’, and it’s with the utmost respect that I call him that. The guy knows his stuff, and he’s right for the show.

If we’re going to take the show to the next level and make it more than a fun hobby, we’ll have to keep making improvements on the air and off. I know a radio consultant who has thrown a lot of input my way, and I’ve had to make some tough decisions recently. That’s never pleasant, but if we’re going to move ahead and have a shot at something big I have to respect the guy’s tenure.

We’re going to sink or swim, and it won’t be long before we know the result. I’m booking a lot of great guests of the paranormal, and a total website redo is on the way soon. All the right things are being done, and I feel great about the direction it’s going. It takes work though, and I put in a long day of it today. We’re on Sundays from 8pm to midnight CDT at www.wlip.com/listenlive.

Caucasianitis

July 26, 2012

Tuesday July 24th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

    Today was supposed to be my day off. Ha! Right. Those are getting to be about as rare as wins for the Cubs or Brewers these days.  I’ve been putting all kinds of effort into a variety of projects lately and stretching myself way beyond the limits of sanity. It seems like all I do is work lately.

I don’t know what else to do. If I stop, then I’m really screwed. What are the chances of getting anything I desire without getting off my aspirations and making something happen? Elzilcho. It’s a test of stamina, and I don’t know how long I can hold out. Something has to give at some point.

As an entertainer I have to keep my name out there constantly, and I just don’t enjoy doing that this far into the race. One would think I’d have my stride by now, but I’m by far not the only one dealing with this issue. Top of mind awareness is something all businesses have to fight to keep.

McDonald’s never lets up on their advertising, and who hasn’t heard of them by now? It’s not always a matter of hearing of a particular product, it’s a matter of choosing it when it comes time to buy. That’s the trick, and when buyers have a glut of products it makes it harder to get sales.

This is not a very good time to be a struggling standup comic – especially a white one. There is a horrible disease called ‘Caucasianitis’, and I’ve got a horrible case of it. The world just doesn’t have a burning need to see a white guy they’ve never heard of telling jokes, even if he’s funny.

Funny is not enough. It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t necessarily help either. He has to be likeable and more importantly memorable to have a chance at becoming a star with the masses, and that’s not easy to pull off. The mass audience is brain dead as a rule, and I’m never going to get myself over doing what I’m doing. I don’t think it’s in the cards, at least not with the product I’ve got.

Although all this is very disappointing, I can’t allow myself to get bitter. It is what it is, and it’s nothing I had anything to do with. White males had hundreds of years in a position of power, and we completely mangled it. That’s not my fault either, but I’m paying for the past sins of others.

Who was the last white guy to really make an impact in standup comedy? Dane Cook? He lit it up there for a while, even though I find absolutely nothing funny about him. That doesn’t matter. He appealed to the masses, and good for him for doing it. I admire his razor sharp business skills.

After all these years, I’m FINALLY realizing that this is a business. I’ve always done it for the artistic satisfaction, and I’ve actually gotten some. I’ve had hundreds if not thousands of exciting shows where the audience really loved what I did, and I had fun doing it. But as far as taking it to that elusive ‘next level’, something has always been missing. I’ve not been perceived as special.

There are any number of nameless white comics out there that could go in front of an audience and light them up just like I do. The audience will laugh all night, but if they were asked on their way out of the venue what the comic’s name was they just saw five minutes ago they’d have NO idea – even if there was a crisp $100 bill riding if they knew. Unfortunately, I’m in that category.

I’m not saying anything other than this is how it is in my chosen field of endeavor, and I’ve got to find a way to deal with it. Minorities of all kinds might have it harder in everyday life, and I’m sorry if that’s true. I wish life were fair for everyone, but that’s never happened and it never will.

Right now, like it or not, anyone but white males have a better chance of making a living in the comedy business. It’s more of a supply and demand thing than a race thing, but people choose to make it racial and that ruffles all kinds of feathers. All I’m trying to do is keep money coming in.

This is not a crusade for equality, even though it would make things a lot easier for us all. It’s a cold cruel world we’re living in, and not only that a crew of pure bred idiots are in charge. That’s about the only thing in this world that IS fair – they permeate every last race, color and ethnicity.

I can’t worry about any of this, and I’m surely not going to change it any time soon. I just want to find a way to figure it out enough so I can carve out a nice living for myself doing what I love. I’ve been able to survive doing exactly that, but I want to do more than that. I want to have a life.

That’s hard to do when I’ve got to fight so hard to stay booked every week. Like I said, I don’t enjoy having to promote myself week in and week out, but that’s what it takes to stay in the face of those who book shows. There are a lot of acts – not just white males – looking for work every week. It’s a numbers game, and not in my favor like it once was. Funny alone just doesn’t cut it.

That will take me so far, and I’m probably there now. I can work top venues and pull off funny shows. I did a great job at The Comedy Quarter in Neenah, WI last week, but nobody who was in the crowd would remember my name less than a week later. I was a place holder, and I know it.

The trouble is, I can’t just magically switch it up and find a magic potion that will change who I am overnight. I have to keep slugging and looking for work, and that’s what I was doing today. I had planned on seeking out the talent coordinators of all the network shows, but the phone rang and my email inbox filled up and before I knew it the day was shot. That happens too frequently.

It’s a major effort to keep my head above water, and I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not one to focus on just one thing. I’ve got radio in the picture and comedy classes too. I love doing all of it but it’s really hard to give everything the attention that it needs – especially in the times we’re in.

I find promoting myself and looking for gigs boring. I don’t want to troll for work, but that’s a big part of the game. My phone used to ring off the hook and people would ask me when I could come to work for them. It still happens, but not every week. I have to market myself a lot more.

But what do I have to market? To most bookers who don’t use me, I’m just another Caucasian from the Midwest who can do the job. I’m a journeyman or utility infielder. Those guys aren’t in the big money category, but they can pound out a nice living if they work hard. That’s what I do.

It sure would be nice to have a chance at some of that big money, but I won’t get it doing what I’m doing now. I need to find a gimmick that hits, and that’s all that will cure my Caucasianitis.

Ferguson Fallout

July 24, 2012

Monday July 23rd, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Not only was yesterday George Clinton’s birthday, it was also the three year anniversary of my national television appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. It sure doesn’t seem like three years already, but that’s exactly what it was. Any heat it generated has now cooled off.

It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I did it, but one shot does not a career make. It was instrumental in getting me hired on Carnival Cruise Lines, but that was mostly because I already knew someone who worked there and he put in a good word. The TV credit only helped a little.

Other than that, it really didn’t do anything other than give me something to have an emcee say when I’m introduced at the same old gigs I was always doing. If I really wanted to, I could easily have been saying I’d been on that show or any other one for years. I wouldn’t do it, but I could.

The sad fact is, there are way too many shows on way too many outlets and no one appearance on any of them is going to make anybody an overnight sensation. It’s a nice feather in one’s cap, but since when have cap feathers been declared currency? To reach the top takes a major push.

As bitter of a pill as it may be to swallow, that could easily have been my one and only shot on network TV. I’m hoping it isn’t, but there are no guarantees I’ll ever get back on. It was only by a long shot fluke that I got on the first time, and that almost didn’t happen. Doing it again will be another major bucking of odds, and I’m not even trying right now. That has to change in a hurry.

Nobody cares that it’s getting harder and harder to make a living at the comedy game, and they sure aren’t sending TV talent scouts to the joints I work on a regular basis. The Midwest is a vast wasteland as far as the networks are concerned, and to get seen one needs to go where the action is. New York and Los Angeles are the only places where those shows are, so that’s where to be.

In a perfect world, I’d have lived in both places by now and have connections up the ying yang that know who I am and what I do. I’d even settle for a ying on one coast and a yang on the other at this point, but I’m painfully out of favors to call in. I haven’t been planting seeds on the coasts.

There are no legit excuses other than the fact I’ve been trying to survive month to month by the skin of my t’aint. Again, nobody cares about that. If I was really going to have a career I’d find a way to get myself in front of someone that could put me on television as much as I could get on.

I haven’t pushed, nor has anyone pushed for me. I know my limitations. I’m not the young cute pretty boy actor/comedian who they can build a sitcom around. I get that. Still, I am a super solid comic and could do about a dozen five minute talk show spots like I did on The Late Late Show.

Will I ever get that shot? Who knows? There are a lot of others who want an extremely limited number of slots, and most of them have high powered management of some kind behind them to push for them to get on. I don’t have any of that, plus I’m in Chicago. I might as well be coming from space. The King of Uranus has a much better shot of getting on TV than Dobie Maxwell.

I remember watching an ESPN documentary years ago about a minor league pitcher who was making his way to the big leagues. It showed the process of what it took to struggle through the minors and how much of a crapshoot everything was. I don’t remember the guy’s name but I do recall he made it up with the Philadelphia Phillies and pitched a single inning late in the season.

At the end of the show there was a crawl that said it was the only inning he ever pitched in the majors as he was released after the season. Nobody but he and his family and friends would ever remember his moment of glory, and surely nobody cared how much work it took to achieve it.

I wish I couldn’t relate to that guy’s plight, but I totally can. I still remember feeling on top of the world three years ago today after my appearance ran. I’d gotten emails and phone calls from all over the country, and it felt like I had arrived. Then I went to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field in front of 40,000 people and wasn’t recognized by anyone. Not once. That put it into perspective.

There’s only room for a few big stars in any field of endeavor – then there’s everyone else. I’m everyone else, but so are most other people. The stars are always the exceptions, never the norm. Even at the baseball game I went to, most of those players were hanging on to their jobs trying to ride the wave as long as possible. I would bet most of them are not there only three years later.

I’ve been a success in the entertainment business in that I’ve made it to the major leagues both in radio and in comedy. Doing mornings on The Loop in Chicago for over a year is a respectable achievement any radio person would gladly want on a resume. In comedy, headlining places like Zanies in Chicago and making an appearance on The Late Late Show are no minor feats either.

Where I’ve fallen short is that I haven’t been able to capture the public’s fancy. I think that has to do with several things coming together, but it’s true. I could make excuses, and some of them might hold up in court, but the bottom line is that I’m still an unknown and nobody cares but me.

I don’t want fame for ego purposes; I want it for business purposes. I don’t have a desire to not be able to walk out of my hotel room without being mobbed, but having a name would be nice to be able to have drawing power for shows. I’d love to be able to pack theatres around the country.

Louis CK seems to be the hot guy right now. No disrespect to him, and I admire the hell out of his work ethic, but I know I would kill with the majority of his fans. How to get in front of all of them is my problem, and I’ll be damned if I have any ideas as to how I can remedy the situation.

Do I need management? Maybe, but can I find somebody who will share my vision and believe in me as much as I do? I know I have the ability on stage, but off stage I feel like I’m trying to do brain surgery with a rusty butter knife while wearing boxing gloves. That’s not the way to do it.

I know in my heart I could totally nail a Tonight Show, Letterman, Kimmel, Fallon, Conan or even another Craig Ferguson shot but how will I get the chance? I guess the first thing would be to start knocking on all of those doors, but it would be a lot easier if someone I knew could help cut through to the inner circle. I’ve paid my dues, but if I don’t get on TV again it won’t matter.

Happy Birthday Maggot Overlord

July 24, 2012

Sunday July 22nd, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Happy birthday today to George ‘Dr. Funkenstein’ Clinton. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a big fan of his music since I was in junior high school, and that’s a long time ago now. For reasons that still tend to baffle me, I have always found myself drawn to the product he puts out.

I have serious doubt that as a Caucasian teenager from Milwaukee I was his target market then, but I was immediately hooked on the funk when I heard it on the radio and I still love it all these years later. You can keep your Led Zeppelins and your Springsteens. Make my funk the P-Funk.

Most of my white friends growing up thought I was crazy, and my grandparents thought I was possessed by Beelzebub himself. I also loved James Brown and Sly Stone and there was nothing I could do about it. When it came on the radio, I knew I loved it. Who can choose personal taste?

I first loved the music of Parliament, but later grew to love their alter ego Funkadelic. They are the same core of musicians, but had two record deals under two names. George was the leader of all of it, and also known as ‘Maggot Overlord’ – which believe it or not is a complimentary term.

There really is no logical reason I should be attracted to any of this, and it’s not just because of the white/black thing. George and most of the band have never denied their affinity for partaking in recreational substances, and many of their fans have said the music takes on a whole new level when heard while high. I’ve never taken a drug stronger than aspirin in my life, but I still love it.

I also love the amazing showmanship of the band, and that’s definitely something George has a flair for. I must have seen him live around fifty times now, and it’s always a visual treat that only adds to the power of the music which I already love. If I had to pick just one music act of all time as my favorite, it would be Parliament/Funkadelic in their prime. Nobody else even comes close.

James Brown and Sly Stone were great in their own right, but George’s charisma is what draws me in. When he walks out on stage there’s just a magnetism that is undeniable. Jerry Garcia had that with Grateful Dead fans, but I don’t find their music entertaining. If I drop acid I may like it.

I don’t fault any fans of any music or anything else. I’m a fan of being a fan, and it’s one of the cool things about the human experience. Entertainment allows one to get lost and forget about all one’s troubles for at least a little while, and I’m all for that. For me, it’s always been via P-Funk.

As I have come through the show business meat grinder as an entertainer myself, I’ve grown to become an even bigger fan of George’s as I see how difficult all the off stage politics can be. It’s a mean vicious game, but George manipulated not one but two big name acts through that course not to mention several other offshoots. That wasn’t easy, but he’s hung in there and still does it.

Getting to meet George in person a few years ago was one of the highlights of my life. He was a down to earth guy and we hit it off immediately. I feel a creative kinship with him for whatever reason, and I’ll always be a fan. I can only hope to attract fans that enjoy what I do half as much.

Road Living Conditions

July 22, 2012

Saturday July 21st, 2012 – Neenah, WI

   The unexpected week of work at The Comedy Quarter in Neenah, WI has been nothing but fun and I hope it’s not the last time I’m here. This is a beautiful room with top level sound and lights, and the audiences they get come out to see comedy. It’s exactly the kind of place I want to work.

The staff is friendly, and the comedians are put up in a place human beings can exist, not some hellhole stereotypically sleazy ‘comedy condo’ that looks like where they found Saddam Hussein hiding in Iraq. Believe me, it means a lot to be respected enough to get decent living conditions.

The public at large would never believe how horrific living conditions can be on the road. It’s a part of the business only seen from the inside, but it can be a real deal killer. Hotels are where we often get housed, and that’s a sore subject unto itself. Often we are stuck into an off or non brand toilet that puts us way in the back near the maid’s quarters so the club gets a lower weekly rate.

Other times, we’re stuck in an apartment or ‘condo’ that can be even worse than a cheap motel. The neighbors often have it in for the comics, as there’s always someone new each week and the parties can get out of hand. I was never a partier myself, but I’ve seen all kinds of debauchery in comedy condos that fuel the legends most of them have acquired. It’s no place for the squeamish.

The clubs don’t have to provide us with a mansion, but someplace at least halfway respectable is always nice. Some clubs don’t care at all, and even laugh about the subhuman conditions. It’s a major red flag, and usually means they’re screwing us over in other ways too. I don’t think it’s necessary to save a buck that badly, and if the margin is that low they should go out of business.

The Comedy Café in Milwaukee had a notoriously hideous condo for years. I’m glad I had my falling out with them when I did, or I’d have had to deal with it. As it was, I survived more than my share of human kennels over the years and my expectations are low. I remember Lansing, MI where an old woman died in her house, and the club owner bought it and stuck the comics there.

It takes the wind out of one’s sail to stay in dumps like that, as we spend way more time at the condo than we do at the actual club. It’s a morale sucker, and after years of getting mine sucked all over North America I’m about sucked out. Having a quality place to stay is a welcome detail.

The Comedy Quarter puts us in a nice place close by, and that’s a huge perk. There’s furniture to sit on and sheets and covers on the beds. There are laundry facilities in house and that’s a nice added perk too. I really appreciated it, and it added to the pleasure of working here this week.

Also adding to the pleasure was a nice guy in the feature spot named Jack Warren. He was very respectful and easy to deal with and we got along great. That also makes it easier. This week was enjoyable on many levels, and I really had a fantastic time. I’m looking forward to coming back.

Now it’s home to get all my other projects going. This week was hectic beyond belief, but all in a good way. I got a lot done, but there’s a lot more to do. An entertainer’s work is never done.

Kids, Kidders and Quarter

July 22, 2012

Friday July 20th, 2012 – South Milwaukee, WI/Rockford, IL/Neenah, WI

   More fun today, but more driving was involved to make it happen. I feel like a glorified trucker or pizza delivery driver with my payload being jokes. I used to be an over the road long haul guy for years, but now I’m keeping it relatively close to home. Still, this week has been a marathon.

I made a commitment several months ago to show up at a summer performance camp at South Milwaukee High School for teenagers who are studying to be comedic actors. They are putting a live sitcom performance together and will be filming it at the end of the month in the same place I did a ‘Schlitz Happened!’ performance a while back. It’s a great facility, and I hope it’s a hit.

I was asked to speak about the comedy business and entertainment in general, and I always try to give back whenever I can. There were about twenty kids in attendance, and I enjoyed having a chance to at least try to plant some valuable seeds of knowledge in their heads. I hope I did, but I saw some blank stares looking back as I told them how it was. I think I frightened a few others.

I was going for a ‘Scared Straight’ angle, but I’m not sure if they got it. I tried to at least make it entertaining, and whether they realized it or not I told them a lot of things that would be helpful along their journey. Someone did record it on video, so hopefully they can review it in the future.

That went from 9 to 10am, and I had to be back in Rockford, IL for the radio show from 1-3pm on WNTA. Today was a special treat to close out my week as The Kidders drove out to be live in studio. Having Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara in studio made it feel like the band was back together.

Unfortunately, we had to take a detour from being funny as we had to address the mass murder in Colorado during the Batman movie yesterday. That was the topic everyone was buzzing about, horrific as it was. We needed to at least acknowledge it before launching into jokes, and we did.

I thought we had some very intelligent discussion about it, and it felt good to have the three of us on the air speaking as human beings and not just joke machines. It added an element of depth we’ve really not had that much of, and I found it to be stimulating. We all felt how well it went.

Then it was back behind the wheel to Neenah, WI for two more shows at The Comedy Quarter. The early show was at least as full as last night, if not more so. What a pleasant surprise that is at any comedy club in the summer, and I didn’t take it for granted. They have a well run operation.

The people up here are generally very well behaved. Yes, they drink a lot but I don’t find them as obnoxious as I do other places. Milwaukee crowds can be downright belligerent when they’re drunk, but I find the crowds up this way a lot friendlier as a rule. The early show was a breeze.

The late show was a typical late show Friday. They were young and had been drinking, but that is to be expected so I wasn’t upset. There was also the infamous bachelorette party that wouldn’t shut up, but they weren’t that bad either. I dealt with it and did my time, and nobody got hurt. I’ll gladly deal with that in exchange for having a new club to work close to home. Time for sleep.