Archive for September, 2012

Good Money After Bad

September 29, 2012

Friday September 28th, 2012 – Morgantown, WV/Charlotte, NC

   Anyone self employed has to wear a variety of hats. Some fit better than others, and there are a few that don’t fit at all. As a comedian, I have things to tend to onstage and off. I am the product, so I am the writer and performer. I also have to be the sales agent to get bookings, and a publicist once I get them. I am the complaint department as well, both from bookers and actual customers.

I also am responsible for taxes, profits, losses and all kinds of other stuff I’m not trained to do and quite frankly am not the least bit interested in doing. But they need to get done, and I have to find a way to address it. My least favorite part of being a comedian is off stage minutia, and I had a heaping helping of hell to deal with first thing in the morning and it gave me all I could handle.

After trying every conceivable way to settle it peacefully, I found the building in Morgantown, WV where small claims court is located. This is about the last thing I want or need right now, but the amount of money in question will equal several months rent should I be able to track it down.

Vince Skolny is the person who hired me for the engagement, and he cancelled with very short notice this past March. I hired Tom Sobel out of Louisville, KY to negotiate the deal, as he’s the agent who booked me for the comedy show where Vince saw me a few years ago and asked if he could hire me for a private engagement. I went through Tom Sobel because it’s proper etiquette.

Tom drew up a contract, and we all agreed on a price. It was a very fair price in my opinion for what I was going to have to do, but I wanted it to be a win/win/win where we all did well. It was an event I was looking forward to doing, and I hoped it would lead to other events in the future.

I’m very sorry the project didn’t go as planned, but I still need to be paid. We made a contract, and everyone knew that if it didn’t come off we were to receive payment for reserving the dates. Entrepreneurial projects fail all the time, but that’s how it goes. I feel bad, but I need my money.

Tom tried to reach Vince time after time and got ignored. I’m glad he handled it professionally, as I would have probably said something I’d be sorry for later. I held my tongue and hoped we’d be able to work it out, but it doesn’t look good so Tom booked me in Morgantown so I could get the papers filed and hopefully cause Vince to have to pay up at some point. This is a huge hassle.

An even bigger hassle is that it costs $70 to file the papers and another $25 to deliver them via sheriff to Vince. That’s 95 more dollars I don’t have, and I am infuriated I have to think about it at all. I should have been paid months ago, and life should be going on more smoothly than it is.

It stuck in my craw all day as I drove from Morgantown to Charlotte, NC for my gig tomorrow in Columbia, SC. Those long lonely hours in a car weren’t so bad on my way up the ladder but at this point it’s like being in a rolling prison. I drove twelve solid hours before crashing in a cheap motel that smelled like disinfectant and curry chicken. Maybe that was the dish being served, but it sure stunk as I laid on a lumpy mattress with a flat pillow wondering why I chose to be a comic in the first place and stayed with it this long. Is the dent in my can that big that I still need this?

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Road Rejuvenation

September 28, 2012

Thursday September 27th, 2012 – Morgantown, WV

   Welcome to the 21st Century. In the old days, it was enough to handle just to make it to a town to do a show. That was about the only focus a comedian needed to have. These days however, to not use the car as a mobile office where business can get done is foolish. The game has changed.

I had a 330 mile drive from Lexington, KY to Morgantown, WV today and not only was there pleasant scenery to enjoy, there were contacts to make. I’m working hard on setting up a benefit event and comedy show for Officer Josh Albert on October 17th at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, and there isn’t much time to get everything done. I need to take advantage of every available minute.

So far, it’s all falling in place without a glitch. The comedy part is booked, and it’s going to be a solid lineup – even though it doesn’t really matter. I mean, who’s going to bitch about a charity show being terrible? It’s about the cause. Does anyone show up at a wedding just for the food?

The quality of the show itself in those situations is never all that important. What needs to be of far higher priority is not only getting butts for all seats, but finding creative and effective ways to generate the most money for the cause. That’s my focus, and I want to hit a financial home run.

I had an idea to get comedians to donate two copies of their CD or DVD – one for Josh to listen to as he recovers and the other to be used in an auction situation. I know quite a few of my comic friends have very funny products, and it would be a way to get their names out too. It’s win/win.

I’m also hoping to get some items to have an auction. I put the word out with my contacts for a signed picture of Jay Leno and David Letterman, and I’ll contact people like Jeff Foxworthy and Drew Carey who would know who I am. I’m sure I’ll have to go through a maze, but that’s fine.

I’m going to put on an event the way I’d want someone to put one on for me. It’s nothing more than a prime example of The Golden Rule in action, and since I said I was going to do it I want it to be a stellar event. I always have grandiose visions at the start of any project, but that’s good. It keeps standards high and gives me something to shoot for. I want this night to be a huge success.

Tonight I did a show at West Virginia University in the ‘Mountain Lair’, and it was again a lot of fun and well received. I don’t know why it has taken so long for me to finally be able to relate to college audiences, but I’m able to do it. As frightening as it sounds, I’m more than twice most of their ages and they could be my children. Still, I’ve been able to find common humor ground.

I really enjoyed these last two nights, and it was fun to watch the opening acts each night. They were both white males in their 20s, and both of them reminded me a lot of myself. I was that guy when I was that age, and I know exactly what they’re going through. Both are putting their show together, but more importantly they’re getting their road chops. I tried to encourage them both.

I’m not kidding anyone though, my road days are numbered – or at least I hope they are. I need to find a way to make a buck closer to home. But for a few days, I feel like I’m a road dog again.

College Credit

September 28, 2012

Wednesday September 26th, 2012 – Lexington, KY

   I’m back on the road for a few days, and all the creaks and squeaks of inactivity are there. Even my blood is brittle, and it’s a strong reminder I’m not the bullet proof kid I once was who’d jump at any chance to see someplace new. I won’t be going anywhere this week I haven’t been before.

Part of that is rather comforting, as I’ll know pretty much what to expect. Another part tells me I’m spinning my wheels and I need to implement a much better career plan. I am literally all over the place, and nothing significant is getting done. I’m surviving, but that’s about it. It’s not great.

I took this particular run so I could file a small claim in Morgantown, WV against the guy who unceremoniously backed out of a gig we had booked for March of this year. He totally stiffed me out of a hefty chunk of change, and there’s no good reason for it. We had a contract, and I totally lived up to my part of the bargain. I’m sorry he wasn’t able to fill his event, but it isn’t my fault.

The booking agent I went through to set this up is Tom Sobel out of Louisville, KY. I’ve never had a problem or harsh word in the probably quarter century I’ve known him, and I wish comedy was full of Tom Sobels. It’s full of something, but not him unfortunately. Tom is a professional.

We were both if not shocked at least taken aback that this situation has festered this long and is still an issue. The guy seemed legit, but despite numerous attempts to contact him and resolve the situation like adults he continues to ignore every attempt to settle and move on. It’s been a bitch.

Tom booked me for tonight in Lexington, KY at the University of Kentucky’s ‘Cats Den’. He’s been booking shows there for years, as well as West Virginia University in Morgantown where it all started with this ugly situation. The guy that leaked out on the deal saw me there and asked if I would be able to do the combination show and class for him. I said I would, but through Tom.

I should have listened to my gut when he suggested we go around Tom, but that’s just not what ethical people do. I’d rather cut a booker in on something, and in a situation like that it’s the way to handle it professionally. I’m glad I did, as at least there is now proof we had a deal. Tom never acts any less than with ultimate class, and he has documented all this insanity for several months.

It’s the last thing I want to have to deal with, but it’s too big a payday to just let it go. Tom was nice enough to give me some work so I could pay my way out, and that’s typical of how he does business. He’s great at putting himself in the comic’s shoes and treating us how he’d like to be.

Tonight’s show was really fun. I’ve never been a college act, but this has always been a fun gig and I’ve done it several times now. Tonight we had another packed house, and they were there to enjoy the show. It was run correctly, and part of the reason is that Tom cares about all the details.

For instance, he puts us in a nicer hotel than just the typical faceless flea bag. It’s a few dollars more, but it makes a world of difference. If nobody else appreciates Tom’s courtesy, I surely do. This should be a fun few days, so I’ll sit back and enjoy the ride. Tonight started it with a bang.

A Television Treat

September 26, 2012

Tuesday September 25th, 2012 – Gary, IN

   When ‘the call’ comes, one needs to be ready to answer it on a moment’s notice. I received one yesterday morning from a television producer of a new Chicago area talk show called “Seven on Ridge” that is taped in downtown Gary, IN of all places. That’s not exactly a media hotbed these days. I realize the Jackson Five came from there, but they left in 1968. I admit I was a bit leery.

I’d first heard of the show from a posting on a Face Book group somewhere, and to be honest I can’t remember exactly which one. It said they were accepting submissions from entertainers and wanted a video link, so I sent them my Craig Ferguson set along with an updated bio and resume.

That process tends to be completely useless 99.999% of the time, but once in a while lightning does strike and something comes of it. Today was one of those whiles, as apparently a comedian guest they had booked got sick at the last minute and they needed a fill in. I said I’d gladly do it, but I wasn’t expecting much. No offense, but how good of quality could a show from Gary be?

Boy, was I wrong – and I’m delighted to admit it. This is no half baked seat of the pants off the radar lunatic fringe piece meal production as I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. I pictured a ‘Wayne’s World’ scenario much like can be the case with Mike Preston’s ‘Psychobabble TV’.

I love Mike personally and I really am a fan of that show and all the people on it, but he cranks it out on less than a shoestring budget and it is what it is. Fun is one of the things it always is and that’s what keeps everyone showing up. If he is ever going to shoot for broadcast quality – and I sure hope he does – there’s going to have to be some production upgrades. Everybody knows it.

This show is completely different. There’s a very professional looking set and the equipment is top shelf, not something they bought at a flea market or rummage sale. They’ve also assembled a house band that absolutely sizzles. Wow, what a group of talented musicians they are and it gives the show a real boost. That alone was very impressive, but it wasn’t all. The show was great too.

The host is a gentleman named Michael Essany, and I found him to be very friendly as soon as I walked on the set. He shook my hand and thanked me for coming in on short notice. The entire staff was great, and I felt at home immediately. They gave me a dressing room and everything.

The head writer is a gentleman named Ian Ross Hughes, and he introduced himself and told me what the order of the show was. Then the stage director gave me an easy to follow outline of how the segment would go, and everything worked smoothly. This is a well run show top to bottom.

The guest before me was a fantastic singer named Terisa Griffin who was on ‘The Voice’ very recently, and she blew the roof off the studio. Wow, what a big time talent she is. These guys are doing a quality show, and I hope it’s successful for a long time. Their hard work shows through.

My set went well, and Michael interviewed me after that. It felt like a Johnny Carson scenario, and what entertainer wouldn’t enjoy that? It took a lifetime to prepare, but I was ready for this.

Friendship Fumble

September 25, 2012

Monday September 24th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m extremely disappointed. And only a small percentage of it comes from the result of one of the strangest endings to a football game I can ever remember. The Green Bay Packers ended up losing a game in the last second which by all accounts they should have won.

I’m less than thrilled with how the game turned out, but even less thrilled about the back story that has led up to this bizarre conclusion. I couldn’t write a story like this if I tried, but it sure is a page turner. Every time I try to let it all heal, something like this comes along to pick at the scab.

Today happens to be the 50th birthday of my best friend from childhood. We met when he was 12 and I was 11, and we remained friends all through our formative years. Then we kept in touch way past that. We were two dented cans from Milwaukee who came from low rent pedigree, and we were closer to each other than our own blood brothers. The bond we shared was very strong.

Then, he decided he wanted to rob a bank he used to work at and didn’t tell me as we ventured across the country to Las Vegas in a rental car from Milwaukee with the fruits of his labor in the trunk in a duffle bag. I had no idea what was happening, and wasn’t made aware of it for months. Then several months after that, he robbed that same bank again. It seems like a different lifetime.

I knew I needed to distance myself from my lifelong best friend, but that’s a lot easier said than done. We’d shared all sorts of emotional experiences, and it’s difficult to just walk away from all that but I knew I had to. I was eventually forced to testify against him in federal court and it sent him to prison. It was a horrific experience, and it still causes me to have nightmares even now.

The last time I spoke to him in person, I was wearing a wire in a Milwaukee restaurant looking to get him to spill the beans – which he eventually did. What a surreal experience that was and is now. I have had a lot of difficult hills to climb in my life, but that was by far the steepest of all.

It stung to have to send my childhood friend to prison but I’m sorry – HE robbed that bank, and I didn’t. Then to throw a bigger monkey wrench into it, he did it again. The story has all kinds of bizarre twists and turns, and thinking about it brings me back there and totally depresses me. It’s a mesmerizing story to hear – but it to live through it was pure torture that lingered on for years.

I’m never going be able to blot this out of my mind completely, and knowing today is his 50th birthday brought it all back like a moose turd clogging a toilet. It’s ugly, disgusting and makes a giant mess that was totally unwanted – but it’s there and it needs to be addressed. I wish it never happened, but it did. I don’t know why he chose to do what he did, but it crapped on both of us.

What stinks more is we grew up loving the Green Bay Packers. We lasted through the ‘70s and ‘80s lean years, and we dreamed of enjoying a Super Bowl victory someday. That happened, but he robbed us of the fun of doing it together. I know he watched tonight’s game, and I’m sure that last play stung him like it did me. But nothing stings quite as painfully as those brutal hours on a witness stand testifying against him. The friendship was amputated, and the stump hasn’t healed.

Acres Of Hope And Aspirations

September 24, 2012

Sunday September 24th, 2012 – Muskego, WI

  Each and every day of late I’m learning to appreciate life more and more. My level of gratitude is skyrocketing, and I realize with crystal clarity that the reason we are all here is to help as many other people as we can. I can’t control what anyone else does, but as for me I want to do my part.

Last night it was a cancer fundraiser in Sparta, WI and this afternoon it was another appearance at a wonderful place called ‘Acres of Hope and Aspirations’ located in Muskego, WI that focuses on helping people dealing with brain injuries. The person in charge is Lisa Alberte – a nurse with a vision who has really put together an amazing network.  www.acresofhopeandaspirations.org.

I was made aware of Lisa by my radio friend Robert Deglau. Robert and I went to grade school together and reconnected a few years ago. He and his wife Karen are huge animal lovers, and the Acres of Hope facility is a home for recovering animals that are used as an important part of the process for the brain injury clients in their own recovery. I have never seen anything quite like it.

There were cats, dogs, a pair of pet deer, a pair of donkeys, miniature horses, tortoises, parrots, peacocks, chickens, geese and even blind ducks. It was a stunning sight to behold to say the least and I felt a loving vibe as soon as I walked through the gate. There is positive energy coming out of that place, and any time I can be a part of that or add to it I am there. I’m really glad I came.

I was hired to do a comedy show to help raise awareness for the facility, and I had no idea what to expect. Robert is a very kind person and was looking out for my well being by negotiating for me to receive payment, but seconds after arriving I knew I wouldn’t accept a penny. There was a much smaller turnout than expected because of good weather, and I felt Lisa’s disappointment.

I probably didn’t need to perform at all, but there were people who showed up and I tried to do my very best under difficult circumstances. There was no stage or sound system, but this wasn’t a show for people who were comedy fans. This was something to raise awareness for a cause that I feel is extremely worthwhile, and if I was uncomfortable for a few minutes than that’s how it is.

What about the people with brain injuries or a yard full of recovering animals? My feelings had no meaning today, and I sucked it up and did what I could. The people who showed up were very appreciative, and there was a man named Windham who was shot in Iraq and was a client of Lisa and the facility. His story was extremely moving, and everyone was in tears when we heard it.

I also met an especially nice person named Joal Dauer who has a website dedicated to bringing awareness to a dog named Sadie who was shot and left for dead in Kentucky. Sadie is recovering and Joal asked if I wouldn’t mind passing her site along.  www.savingsadie.com. It’s inspiring.

People like Lisa and Joal and everyone at Acres of Hope and Aspirations are the true heroes of the world, even though they have struggles like we all do. Any way I can ever help anything they ever do is something I have made up my mind to do. It’s way more important than the insincerity and shallowness that can be the entertainment business. Serving humanity is life’s true purpose.

Comedy Conquers Cancer

September 24, 2012

Saturday September 23rd, 2102 – Sparta, WI

   If life could get any more fun than I had today, I bet I’d have to pay a serious cover charge. It’s days like this that will hopefully put a smile on my face should I be lucky enough to survive long enough to make it into a nursing home. I’ll drool into my yogurt cup thinking about the fun I had on stage working with the people I liked the most. Today will be a day I will use as the standard.

Bill Gorgo, Tim Walkoe and I were booked in Sparta, WI along with our friend Jim Wiggins to do a cancer benefit set up by Jim’s son Josh. It was held at a bowling alley of all places in a very well set up banquet room that had a seating capacity of 330 – and I didn’t see any of them empty.

Josh worked extremely hard organizing the evening, and even hand built the stage we stood on. His wife Amy decorated the stage area with a huge backdrop, and everyone in town pitched in to make the event a huge success. I’ve seen nights like this totally tank it, as everyone drops the ball by not doing what they say they’ll do. Not tonight. This was one of the best run events I’ve seen.

Everyone in the comedy world adores Jim Wiggins. You can’t help but love him, as his energy precedes him into a room like cheap perfume on an ugly stripper. Jim is a giant of a soul, and his warmth is contagious to everyone around him. Everywhere he goes, he’s a magnet for people on all levels from other comedians to wait staff in restaurants to audiences at his shows. It’s magic.

Jim has survived cancer two times now, and has just been informed it’s back. He will be going through the ugliness of chemo yet again, but he’s got the balls of a burglar about facing it. He is an inspiration to everyone, and that’s why we all wanted to be a part of this show out of respect.

This was an absolutely stellar lineup of comedians, and to make it even more fun Steve Purcell drove up from Madison to hang out and be a part of it. Steve has worked with all of us and is on everyone’s list of favorite people. He took my comedy class at Zanies years ago, and is a shining example of why I teach them. He’s funny and classy and having him there added to the evening.

To really put the whole night over the top, Jim was surprised by his daughter who flew in from Colorado Springs to surprise him. Nobody knew she was coming, and it was emotional to watch Jim’s reaction when he saw her. There’s a lot of love there from his kids, and that’s something I just can’t relate to unfortunately. I never experienced anything even close to that with my father.

The vibe in the room was red hot from the start of the show right to the end. Tim and Bill and I rocked the house, but we’ve all got decades of experience and knew what to do. Steve did a guest set and knocked that out of the park as well – but we all knew this was Jim’s night and wanted to let him enjoy his moment. He was magnificent, and he did it in front of his kids, friends and fans.

Hanging out with fellow comedians can be one of the sweetest feelings there is, because we are all tuned in to the same wavelength. We don’t have to edit anything for the public, and the laughs in situations like that are pure and uncut. We had a night of them onstage and off, and I know we all will remember this for a long time to come. Find Jim at www.lasthippie.com. He’s worth it.

Welcome To Kansas

September 23, 2012

Friday September 22nd, 2012 – St. Charles, IL

   It’s great to have friends with connections. That’s what life is all about. ‘Who you know’ really does make a difference, even though I never look to abuse it. I like people because I like them as individuals – not for what they can do for me. That’s probably not smart, but at least it’s sincere.

One of my favorite bands of all time Kansas had a concert at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL tonight and my friend Rick Piccolo got me in to see it. He has been friends with Phil Ehart the drummer since the ‘70s, and it was no problem for him to score the tickets. That’s how it works.

Rick is also friends with fellow comedian and former Jerry’s Kidder Ken Sevara, and he joined us as well. I had no idea Ken was coming, and it was a pleasant surprise to see him when I got to the theatre. Ken has booked me for several quality shows in the past year or so, and that has been another good connection. I got him into the Kidders, so I have been a connection for him as well.

That’s how it’s supposed to work in my opinion, but it often doesn’t. When it does, everything just feels right and that’s how it was tonight. Rick and Ken are both laid back great guys, and the three of us turned off the bitch-o-meter and had fun. We weren’t on stage tonight, Kansas was.

Nobody enjoys quality entertainment more than another entertainer, and we loved every minute of the show. Rick and Ken are both former drummers, so they liked it on a whole other level than I did. I have never played one note of music in my life, but I certainly understand showmanship.

Kansas puts on a fantastic show on every level. The stage was decorated with a giant backdrop of an image of their first album cover, and they had a stellar light show too. They looked like the headliners they are. They commanded the stage, and they gave the audience what they paid for.

What I found fascinating was how they presented each song with freshness and enthusiasm like they hadn’t played them 10,000 times before. I knew every song in their set, and it wasn’t all that different from the show I saw in the same theatre maybe two years ago. They didn’t phone it in.

I know how easy it can be to get stuck in a comedy rut, and the same jokes night after night can really get stale in a hurry. I’ve always been one to switch things around frequently if for no other reason than it keeps me on my toes while I’m performing. I don’t think a band can be that loose.

They were sure on their game tonight, and the crowd went nuts as well they should. They were able to let it rip in front of a theatre full of fans who were there to see them do it, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do myself. I saw that theory in action tonight, and it was fun for everyone.

After the show, Rick got us backstage to say hello to Phil. I met him last time, and since then I heard his wife is originally from Milwaukee so I gave him a ‘Schlitz Happened!’ t-shirt that has a lot of local jokes on it that she’ll get and he won’t. He was very gracious and Ken and I didn’t want to bother him because we understand how it is after a show. We gave him and Rick time to catch up, and politely thanked him for the tickets. Life sure can be fun when it works like this.

Officer Joshua Albert Benefit Fundraiser

September 21, 2012

Thursday September 20th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I have no problems. I piss, I moan, I bellyache. I whine, I bitch, I snivel. None of it means even the slightest hint of anything legitimate, and I need to shut my mouth and get with the program in life. There are people who have it WAY worse than I ever will, and they can use a helping hand.

My cousin Wendy sent me an email that just about ripped my heart out of my chest. Her father and my grandfather were brothers, so I guess that makes us second cousins. I saw her when I was a kid, but then we lost touch for many years. We just reconnected a couple of years ago and she’s a total sweetheart. Like me, she is trying to break the chain of darkness that is our family legacy.

Her daughter Katie is a Milwaukee police officer, and her partner Joshua Albert was recently a victim of a drunk driver driving up the wrong way on a freeway entrance ramp causing a head on collision. According to Cousin Wendy, Officer Albert’s diaphragm exploded, he broke his pelvis in two places, both hips are broken, an ankle is broken, he shattered a foot and they’re not sure of all the damage to his neck because they can’t do a scan right now. And I thought I had problems.

This is about as horrible as horrible gets, and Cousin Wendy asked if I’d be willing to perform a benefit fundraiser on his behalf. She explained that they live in close proximity to each other and take the same route home. Usually, Officer Albert would follow Katie but on this particular night he was in the lead and happened to take the brunt of the accident. It was just a freak occurrence.

Unfortunately, Officer Albert will have to suffer consequences for the rest of his life – which he is extremely lucky to still be in possession of. I’m sure he’ll be on the shelf for several months at the very least, and his physical therapy is going to be absolute hell on Earth. What a horrific fate.

I’ve had my own nightmare with a drunk driver years ago and almost lost my life in a late night car wreck where I flipped a convertible completely upside down. The drunk survived with barely a scratch, and on top of all that he was driving after revocation after multiple previous offenses.

My sternum was fractured in two places, and I broke my jaw. I had a bruised heart, bruised ribs and had to go to physical therapy to learn to walk again. That was bad enough. I can’t picture the degree of horror of what Officer Albert will have to endure on his long difficult road to recovery.

I told Cousin Wendy I would do all I can to help, and I will do exactly that. I did contact one of the local comedy clubs, and they promptly rejected the idea. That’s about typical of what I would expect, even though I tried to explain this has nothing to do with me personally. And it doesn’t.

This is about helping a fellow human being who can really use a hand right now. We all tend to get numbed by all the nasty things we see on the news every day, and I have to admit if I had not gotten the email from Cousin Wendy I might have not even heard about this. It’s hitting someone close to home, and I have to do my part just because it’s the right thing to do. I did manage to get Shank Hall for the date of Wednesday October 17th to do a benefit show. I’ll have more details as they become available, but I am going to do all I can to make this a reality. I have no problems.

Just How I Like It

September 20, 2012

Wednesday September 19th, 2012 – Rosemont, IL

   To a hungry man, a cold can of beans can taste like filet mignon. To someone full, the thought of even one more bite of anything is thoroughly disgusting. Situations have a way of providing a unique perspective depending on the individual circumstances. Tonight I had some filet mignon.

I picked up a night filling in as the headliner at the new Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL. I love working for Zanies, as these kinds of randomly scattered bookings come up often, and I’m one of their main go to guys. It’s a position every comedian in Chicago would like, and I’m very grateful to be in it. Local acts like Larry Reeb, Tim Walkoe and I are known as Zanies regulars.

Are there others who could do the job? Of course, but we’re in the mix at Zanies and that’s the way it is. I’m sure quite a few comedians in town are less than thrilled with that arrangement, but there is little alternative other than to keep showing up anywhere there’s comedy and carve out a spot of their own somewhere. Every club has their set of favorites, and nobody works them all.

This can be a very random and illogical process to the point of becoming maddening. Bookings rarely have much to do with ability, as there are plenty of acts to go around to fill any open spots. It’s a total buyer’s market, and everyone knows it. I couldn’t be more grateful for my status with Zanies, and quite honestly I wish I had it a lot more clubs. I’m still at the mercy of most of them.

Then it becomes a matter of networking, hanging out and also a certain percentage of plain old luck of the draw. I happened to be at the right place at the right time years ago, and Zanies chose me as one of their regulars. We’ve maintained that relationship for decades, and it’s still working out well for both sides. It’s that way at other clubs with other comics, and it works how it works.

When I lived in Milwaukee, there were often two clubs at war with each other and I was never able to get hooked up with the one that everyone wanted to work. That’s just the way it happened to play out, and I’ve often tried to figure out why but came up blank. I’ve given up trying to put a logical meaning to anything in the entertainment business. After decades in it, I am still clueless.

I may be clueless offstage, but when I get in front of a live audience I know exactly what to do. Tonight was no exception, and I had a fantastic time with an audience that was there to have fun. Mike Preston and Ralphie Roberts were also on the bill, and they are both competent comics and people I like personally. When everything lines up like that, there isn’t too much that bothers me.

To make it even better, my friend Jerry Agar happened to be in town with his radio station and bought me a delicious dinner at the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL. It was short notice, but we were able to work it out and managed to hook up for a meal and then headed over to Zanies.

Jerry and I have been friends since the Zanies in St. Charles opened in 1989. We’ve both come an amazingly long way since then, and I’m glad we’re still in contact even though we once again aren’t living in the same town anymore. He watched the show and I drove him back to the city to his hotel. On the way home, all I could think of is this was all I ever wanted to do. And I still am.