Luck And Timing

Monday March 4th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   The pendulum of fate swung in my direction today, and I received the last minute call to host a showcase at Zanies in Chicago for The Great American Comedy Festival. That’s an annual event held in Johnny Carson’s home town of Norfolk, NE at where else – The Johnny Carson Theatre.

I’m always grateful whenever Zanies calls, and I happen to be on their list of go to people in an emergency. I’ve been able to help them out time and time again over years, and they’ve done the same for me. There’s really no reason for it other than that’s the way it worked out. I was lucky.

I’m by far not the only comedian in Chicago who could do a competent job, but I have been on Zanies radar for years. I’ve learned that that’s how a lot of show business works. There are a few cherry positions available, and those who have them rarely give them up. It’s a numbers game.

The main reason I moved out of Milwaukee in the ‘80s was that I was never on that go to list at the clubs there. Everyone wanted to work at the Comedy Café at that time, but I was never on the ‘A’ list there at any time no matter how hard I tried even though I had as much ability as anyone.

Raw talent and ability are NOT the be all and end all in the entertainment business. It’s nice to have it, but it’s not the main requirement. I know a lot of people with a lot of talent who struggle to stay booked, while others who are ‘funny enough’ but know how to play the game get ahead.

It’s a giant puzzle for everyone, and we all need to find where we’re a fit. Sometimes that’s an unbelievably frustrating process, while other times it just falls into place. I happened to fall into a situation with Zanies that has been a fit for years. I do have ability but so do a lot of other people. Trying to figure out reasons why certain people get chosen and others don’t is a waste of energy.

It was a lot of fun to host the show tonight, and I tried as I always do to get the audience into it and let them know important their participation would be. I made sure the energy was focused on the stage whenever I brought up another act, and I made sure every act got a proper introduction.

The talent booker of the Great American Comedy Festival is Eddie Brill – formerly the booker of comedians on Late Night with David Letterman. Eddie is a total sweetheart, and couldn’t be a more friendly and supportive guy. I’ve come to really like that guy, and so does everybody else.

It’s always good to cross paths with Eddie personally, but professionally it doesn’t hurt to have a chance to be seen one more time. I’ve auditioned for him in the past, but I’ve never nailed a set like I know I can and have done thousands of times in clubs when he wasn’t around. That’s often how it works unfortunately, but Eddie gets that. He’s a comic himself and has been in that place.

There was a lot of talent on the showcase tonight, and there could have been a solid case made for just about all of them to be included in the festival. But Eddie has been seeing acts from coast to coast and there are precious few spots available. That’s how it is, and just because someone is not chosen doesn’t mean that person is without talent. Luck and timing are also main ingredients.


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