Archive for May, 2013

Redneck Reminder

May 30, 2013

Wednesday May 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I was scouring my local thrift store today, looking for my instant retirement plan. I’m hoping to run across a severely underpriced bauble or trinket I can score for peanuts and resell for top buck on ‘Pawn Stars’ or ‘The Antique Road Show’ – but who isn’t?  Life is now a big scavenger hunt.

   We’ve all been relieved of whatever savings we may have had, and the economic collapse that we’re going through has made American Pickers of us all. Gas at $4.50 a gallon with no letup in sight has brought out the wheeler dealer in all of us. Between that and the lottery, we’re crossing our fingers we have a few shekels left for our old age so we don’t have to subsist on pet chow.

   It’s easy to spot the sharks in a thrift store, and we’re all doing the same thing. We’re all trying to outsmart everyone else and haul in something we can resell for a lot more. Sometimes it does happen, but not as much as everyone might think. Most of the junk in there is there for a reason.

   I highly doubt 2004 is going to come back any time soon, so why would I need an organizer or calendar even if it is only $1.99? And I think I’m up to my limit on VHS tapes too. I don’t know anyone who even has a player anymore, but I’m sure someone does. I have an 8 track machine.

   Vinyl records are allegedly making a comeback, so I’ve been stocking up on those of late. I’ve been able to get them between fifty cents and a buck on a consistent basis, and have put together a decent collection of mostly jazz, older country and obscure spoken word stuff I have seen listed on Ebay for significantly more. I have no idea who buys them, but I have a supply ready to sell.

   I used to focus on books and self help recordings, but not anymore. I’ve got enough material to last me six lifetimes plus a long prison term, but I don’t feel my life getting any better because of it. I picked most of it up for very low prices at the time, but now I wish I’d have that money back instead of piles of books and tapes I’ll never ever get to. My intentions were good, but that’s it.

   Good intentions mean nothing without action, and I’m trying to make something happen so I’m not still fishing for thrift store scraps years from now should I be lucky enough to live that long. I do admit I enjoy the treasure hunting aspect, but depending on it to pay my bills is not my desire.

   I received what I’m taking to be a message from the cosmos today when I ran across a copy of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be A Redneck If…” book. I hadn’t seen a copy in a while, but not a day goes by that I’m not aware of how I missed my shot to be part of that whole phenomenon.

   I can picture plain as day sitting across from Jeff at lunch and having him tell me how he came up with an idea he thought would make millions and how I laughed in his face and told him what an idiot he was and how it would never work. If I could live my life over again starting from any one point of reference, that would surely be it. I missed out on a huge opportunity, and I know it.

   Too late now. I looked at the credits in the book and didn’t see my name there, even though he listed some other comedians I know. I could have been there too, but I blew it. Kicking myself in the aspirations years later isn’t going to change the fact I missed the boat, but it does still sting.

   Will I ever get a chance that big again? Who can say? I’m thrilled for Jeff’s enormous success, as he was and is a wonderful guy. I give him mega kudos for a legendary idea. Not only that, he EXECUTED it to perfection.  And here I sit years later, wishing I had shut up and played along.

Jeff Foxworthy - a great guy with a great idea.

Jeff Foxworthy – a great guy with a great idea.

I was there when it started.

I was there when it started.

Cruel Irony

May 30, 2013

Tuesday May 28th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   One of the most difficult positions I can think of to attain in all of the entertainment business is becoming a legitimate show closer in comedy clubs. The professional term that usually gets used is a “headliner”, but to me that implies that the act has some kind of marquee appeal or is a draw.

   There are scant few acts that can draw on name alone, and those that can usually opt for bigger venues than a comedy club. That leaves an entire subculture of acts most of the public could not pick out of a police lineup that travel from club to club each week making a living getting laughs from audiences who have no idea who they are before they step on a stage. That’s a tough order.

   I’m one of those acts. It’s taken a lifetime of paying serious dues to get there, but I have pulled it off. Even my worst detractors have to admit that I am a strong act, and when everything else is going wrong there’s a high degree of satisfaction that comes with knowing I’ve earned my status.

   Comedy club headliners are the Navy Seals of show business. The only way to get that status is to EARN it, and those that earn it rarely are paid what they’re worth. I don’t know how much the Navy Seals get paid, but I have to believe for what they do with the risk involved it isn’t enough.

   I think the same is true for comedy club headliners. We’re the ones who bring home the bacon week after week for the comedy club owners who seldom appreciate it. We have to be consistent enough to not only follow an array of questionable opening acts, but maintain a high proficiency level for an extra long period of time. It’s a job not for the squeamish, and not all can handle it.

   The average length of a headlining comedy club set is 45 minutes. Sometimes it can be longer – up to an hour, or even more – but rarely is it shorter. I challenge anyone who thinks they’re the least bit funny to get on a stage and entertain a room full of strangers who have been consuming alcoholic beverages en masse for even five minutes and see how tough that is. It’s no cakewalk.

   Then add on to that quite often the level of opening acts to fill the time before is often bogged down with less than competent wannabes who all think they should have been booked to be the headliner. They’re gunning for the position (and ever so slight extra pay that goes with it) but are rarely respectful of how difficult it is to have to be a level higher and be able to follow everyone.

   Closing one show under those circumstances is a feat in itself. Closing them night after night is downright miraculous – but that’s the job description. A strong headliner should be able to follow most anything, and still bring solid laughs for the entire time they’re on stage. That’s what we do night after night – at least the good ones. It’s hard as hell, but after a while we get into a groove.

   I have been a solid show closer for many years now, and sometimes I forget just how much of a sacrifice it was to get there. It’s an unbelievably rough process, but since I started that’s all I’ve ever wanted to become. Now I’m here, and I realize that nobody cares but me and the others that have paid the enormous price to obtain this elite status. We know how much it cost, but that’s it.

   The public really doesn’t know or care how tough it was. They want to come to a comedy club to laugh – or at least they did. Now the trend seems to be they’re wanting to see someone famous on any level. If someone has a two minute video on You Tube that goes viral, comedy clubs will book them to “headline” hoping they’ll put butts in seats. They might, but they can’t pull off the difficult task of closing a show. I can, but nobody knows who I am. Life can have a cruel irony.

Hillbillies, Hobos and Halfwits

May 28, 2013

Monday May 27th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It’s Memorial Day, and I’m in a reflective mood. The weather today in the Chicago area really rots, and it’s ruining people’s mood. I can feel it. Barbecues are being cancelled, and I sensed an ominous vibe from quite a few people as I ran a few errands today. I tried to make sense of it all.

   I’ve been in a funk myself of late, and that’s never good. I feel myself sliding down the rails of the abyss, and I know it’s going to be hell to crawl back out. No matter what anyone says, it’s the lack of money that’s causing 99% of it, and there are all kinds of tangled wires that are the cause.

   It stinks and I wish it weren’t that way, but then I think of the people in Oklahoma who’ve just had their whole lives swept away in seconds and it makes me shut my yap. That’s a horrible spot to be in, and what’s left of my heart goes out to every one of them – toothless hillbillies or not.

   This world is full of the toothless, clueless, hopeless and shameless. There are hillbillies, hobos and halfwits, and we’re all thrown together to fight our way through the jungle. We either squeak out a way to survive the madness, or we’re wiped out like bugs on a windshield. It’s a cruel gig.

   The whole war thing has never made sense to me either. I have the utmost respect for all of the brave souls who had the courage to give their lives, but the concept of war itself makes me puke. We’ve been doing it as long as we’ve been a species, but I still can’t see anything good about it.

   Why do we have to kill each other for any reason? I know I sound like a bleeding heart hippie, but I really mean it. I’ve always said I have a ton of people I can’t stand, but I don’t want to kill any of them. I might not want to be within 500 miles of them, but they can go live away from me and screw up their own lives. I would like to think the karma train will run them over eventually.

   Look at all the sadness Memorial Day brings to millions of Americans who lost someone in the service of the country. There are parentless kids because of it, and lonely spouses and all kinds of ugliness that I just don’t see a legitimate reason for. I know war is about money in the end, but if that’s the only way to get it then I’ll stay broke. Someone at the top is missing what life is about.

   Sometimes I feel like I’m the one missing what life is about. In my warped little pea brain, I’ve always thought life was supposed to be happy and fulfilling. We should cheer people up at every possible opportunity, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do. Sometimes it has worked out great, but others it feels like I totally missed the happy boat. Of late it’s been the missed the boat way.

   One thing that really cheered me up today was a note from a wonderful comedian named Beth Donahue – Weedman. What a fireball she is, and I’ve always been a huge fan. She tells it like it is, but unfortunately not everyone can handle that kind of honesty. I know. I’m like that as well.

   Beth and I have both been around about the same time, and we’ve both done comedy and radio along the way. We both have our fans, and both have our detractors. Unfortunately, neither of us has figured out that pesky success formula or chased it very hard. We chose to do things our way and that’s not always the way to win the approval of those difficult to figure out ‘powers that be’.

   I have all the respect in the world for Beth, and the others like her that never seem to reap what they so richly deserve. I feel the same way about the troops who gave it all up so rich politicians can get richer on the blood of the grunts that did the dirty work. This planet is a cosmic carnival.

Beth Donahue-Weedman is one of the funniest comedians in America

Beth Donahue-Weedman is one of the funniest comedians in America!

Go see her at Nashville Zanies on June 2nd, 2013! www.zanies.com

Go see her at Nashville Zanies on June 2nd, 2013! http://www.zanies.com

What’s An Enviromedian?

May 28, 2013

Sunday May 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

  Nobody appreciates quality entertainment more than an entertainer. I’m a loyal and rabid fan of anything well done, but obviously standup comedy holds a special place in my heart and always has. I loved it before I did it, and my love for it was what drew me to it. I never grow tired of it.

   I think that makes me a perfect candidate to be a producer of product for other comedians. I am a lifelong fan of the craft, and who better would there be to inject a set of ‘fresh eyes’ into what a comedian does to best showcase his or her talent to the public? I feel as if I’m uniquely qualified.

   I got my chance a while back when I produced a live DVD project for my friend James Wesley Jackson, aka ‘The Enviromedian’. This was a thrill on many levels. First, James used to tour with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic for years. That alone puts him in my Hall of Fame for life. Anyone who knows me knows I love the PFunk – even though nobody can figure out why.

   For whatever reason, I was sucked in as a kid when I first heard it on the radio and I still love it today. It’s well done entertainment and then some, and I respect the immense effort it must have taken to pull off such a huge project. James got to witness it first hand, and still be a comedian.

   Second, James is flat out one of THE sweetest human beings I have ever encountered. He has a laid back friendliness that shines on stage, and you can’t help but love the guy. He’s got his own unique style, and the first time I met him we hit it off instantly. Part of it was the fact that I knew of his pedigree with the PFunk, and another part was two fellow comedians sharing our histories.

   Whatever the case, I wanted to start producing other performers. I can think of more than just a handful who don’t have top quality recording projects out in my opinion, and that’s not meant to be an insult. Most of us are focused on our performing and just trying to stay alive that taking the time to crank out product never manifests itself. I know how hard it was to do my own products.

    I also suffer from a common ailment of not being able to sell my own stuff well, but can go all out with someone else’s. I believe in James as a comic and a person, and it was my pleasure to be the one to head up this project. It was recorded a couple of years ago now, but my hospitalization fiasco of 2011 has held it up along with other obstacles in my path. It’s been a long time coming.

   Now, I have FINALLY gotten my head out of Uranus and had 100 promo copies made to start sending them out. I don’t know exactly who to send them to, but I have them. I invested my last nickel getting this done, but I felt I owed it to James and myself to finish what I said I would do.

   Fellow comedian Mike Preston was the technical person, and I hired him to record the show at a place called ‘Asbury’s’ in the Chicago area. It’s a country club of all things, but James knocked it so far out of the park it might as well have been Carnegie Hall. It was a very special experience to be there that night, and for once the hot show was the one that got recorded. It came out great.

   I hired legendary PFunk artist Pedro Bell to do the cover art, and fans will be able to recognize it instantly. It took a long time to get this far, but I am proud to say I did it. Now I need to stretch it further and start selling some product. Not only that, I’d love to get a chance to produce several more comedians I’m a fan of. Names that come to mind are talented guys like Bill Gorgo, Jimmy McHugh, Jim Wiggins, Tim Walkoe, Tim Northern and so many more. George Clinton produced a lot of music acts beside his own. I’d be delighted to do the same with a variety of comedy acts.

The Enviromedian is BACK!

The Enviromedian is BACK!

James Wesley Jackson

James Wesley Jackson

Saturday Night Fever

May 27, 2013

Saturday May 25th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   One thing I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly enjoy is a Saturday night off. That’s the money night for a comedian, and I would guess any other live performer. If one can’t manage to troll up even a mediocre a booking, the entire week seems like a waste. And it is. I want to be working at my craft, and this is the main night to do it. There are only so many Saturdays in anyone’s life.

   This was mostly my fault, and I regret it. I know it’s a holiday weekend and all, but I should be working somewhere.  It’s also the beginning of the summer season, which is notoriously a rotten time to be a comedian – at least in the North. People want to be outside after a long ugly winter.

   I suppose I should want to be outside too, but I don’t. I want to be on a stage somewhere doing what I love – making audiences laugh. If that were to be outside I’d accept it, but those bookings are not the most desirable as a rule. Trying to fight the sounds of tilt-a-whirls or the Blue Angels flying over one of my punch lines can be maddening. Still, I’d take that over having a night off.

   Sometimes the luck of the draw just comes up blank on certain nights and weeks. I’ll be able to book every other week with no problem, but the one week stays open no matter what I do. That’s how it has always been, and I’ve never been able to figure out why. Other weeks are the opposite in that I’ll get several calls for the same week from various bookers. It’s never been predictable.

   My mistake in this case was that I put all my time and energy into the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ run in Milwaukee in April, and I neglected my bookings for the summer. I’m a one man band, and it only allows so much time to get everything done. I spent my time working on that instead of this, and now it’s biting me in the aspirations. I’m glad I did the Schlitz show, but it’s over – for now.

   I’ll be doing more of those in the fall and hopefully well beyond, but now my summer calendar is wide open and I’m bordering on panic. I did just pick up a weekend in Ann Arbor, MI in June and another in Indianapolis on July 4th weekend – one of the most challenging weeks of the year to fill – so I won’t starve. It could be a lot better though, and I’ve got nothing in August as of yet.

   I’m sure something will pop up between now and then. It always does, but that’s not the way I want to live my life these days. I’ve done that for far too long, and it comes with a price. One can only ‘squeak by’ for so long, and my personal expiration date has passed. I’ve made it this long, but continuing to put myself at the mercy of cancellations and the whims of bookers has passed.

   Most comedy bookings are done months in advance. Every booking agent has his or her way of doing things, and that can be a game in itself trying to figure them all out. I’ve let myself get out of the regular rotation with several of the bookers I used to work with, and that’s been my fault.

   Keeping in touch with everyone is important, and I’ve let it lapse. It’s easy to get forgotten in a business where there are far too many people competing for a limited amount of spots, and now I am paying for it. I’m going to have to reconnect with everyone and start the process totally over.

   What makes it harder is that I want to transition out of the clubs if I can, but I still need to bring in an income from somewhere. There are clubs I’ll always enjoy working like Zanies in Chicago and The Comedy Showcase in Ann Arbor, but I’ll enjoy them a lot more if I have income the rest of the year. This is a delicate time financially, and I’m in a rough stretch right now. I could really use a windfall of cash sooner than later. Hear that universe? Do your thing, baby. I need it now.

Close To Home

May 26, 2013

Friday May 24th, 2013 – Gurnee, IL

   In the best of all worlds, I’d be able to live in a place I’m comfortable but still perform enough to keep my chops and make a decent living. That’s a much more difficult challenge than it might sound, but I’ve been trying to arrange it for the past few years. In theory, it should be attainable.

   In reality, there are still some glitches that need to be worked out. Tonight was a good example as I did a show at the Heather Ridge Golf Course in Gurnee, IL. I am a member of a group called “Visit Lake County” which used to be called the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

   Heather Ridge is a member too, and there’s a really good guy named Matt Nordigan who came to me and asked if I’d be interested in trying a comedy show in their clubhouse facility. They’ve got a cozy little room that seats about 85 people, and again in theory it would be a decent room.

   I booked a show for him probably a year or two ago that I wasn’t able to be on because I must have been on the road or something. Maybe I was on a cruise ship, who knows? It all gets lost in a big blur after a while, but that show went well enough to have him ask me to book another one.

   It was supposed to be last Friday, but I backed out because of the request by Jim Wiggins to do the shows that never happened in Minnesota. My wallet still hurts from that disaster, but Matt is flexible and agreed to delay it a week. It was nice of him to do that, but attendance was very thin.

   I’d guess there were 35 people tops, but every one of them had a great time. I closed the show, but I brought Kay Cammon to open along with Dan Morris and Mark Fenske. They all did really well, and for a sparse turnout it was a fun experience. Still, I feel bad when a venue loses money.

   I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know Matt was disappointed. I hope he was at least able to come close to breaking even, but I seriously doubt it. I didn’t get paid a ton, and I had to shell out for Kay, Dan and Mark out of that budget. Basically, I got some gas money to hang out with friends. As fun as it was – and it was – this is not what I need to be doing this late in the game.

   I really like Matt, and he really likes comedy. There are probably 2000 residents in the Heather Ridge community, and he pumped the show in their monthly newsletter which not many of them read obviously. Again, in theory the place should have been standing room only – but it was not.

   In reality, filling a room with people for any reason is flat out DIFFICULT. It might not appear to be that tough to get 100 people to show up for something, but I encourage anyone to try it and tell me how it goes. People today have too much going on and are getting deluged with messages on Facebook to the point where everything blends together and nobody can keep it sorted out.

   The redeeming factor is that it was close to home. Heather Ridge is only 15 miles from where I live, and there’s no traffic. I don’t even have to get on any freeways, which is rare. I’d love more shows this close to home, and I believe they’re there. There’s no ‘circuit’ per se, and it’ll require some hustling on my part and the part of people like Matt who are willing to try something new.

   Is this the way to build a career? No, it really isn’t. It’s a stop gap measure to pay some bills for a while as I continue to develop shows like ‘Schlitz Happened!’ and work on getting a few more corporate bookings. It saves me those hellaciously long drives I’ve been making most of my life, and now that gas is approaching $4.50 a gallon it’s allowing me to survive when others are not.

A Friend On Letterman

May 25, 2013

Thursday May 23rd, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   My friend Ross Bennett is in town this week headlining at Zanies in Chicago, and we hung out all afternoon dissecting his recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Ross has been slugging it out in the trenches even longer than me, and getting this break is well deserved.

   I couldn’t be any happier for someone who has been such a good friend and supporter of mine for decades, and we had a lot to talk about. Comedians can be geeks when it comes to the craft of comedy, and we spent the whole afternoon discussing everything that went into the whole event.

   When I was on the Craig Ferguson show, Ross called me and wanted to know everything about that experience and I happily told him. It’s a monumental victory to get one’s national TV debut, but unfortunately the only one who can truly understand what it’s like would be another comic.

   So much goes into such a short appearance, and the only thing an audience sees is five minutes of what looks like effortless comedy. They have no idea of the agony that has gone into honing it over years on the road, and then packaging it into a set that needs to be approved by the network.

   There’s always a talent coordinator to deal with, and he or she dictates what gets to stay in and what gets axed. I had to deal with three or four different ones on the Craig Ferguson show, and in the end it was the first person I ended up dealing with who had quit and come back. Her name is Celia Joseph, and she was a total sweetheart. She approved my set, but it took a while to develop.

   Ross told me how he would record sets on DVD, and then the talent coordinator would look at it and tell him what to keep, change or cut. He kept working at it, and eventually what came out was a killer set. I was so proud when I watched it, as I knew his back story of years of struggle.

   Ross is also a dented can, and his road has been far from paved with gold. He is from a military family, and at one time he considered a career in the military. I’m glad he didn’t go that direction because he’s a fantastic comedian and always has been. He has pissed some important people off through the years just as I have, but he’s never given up and that’s why this is such a major deal.

   We talked of how this validates all the years of extreme effort that’s required to hone this craft, and how nobody can ever take it away – especially those who rejected or never supported him in the first place. It’s a top accomplishment, and reason to celebrate – which is exactly what we did.

   Some people may celebrate by having a drink or going out to an expensive dinner, but we were delightfully satisfied to sit in the McDonald’s across from Zanies as Ross drank a Diet Coke and I drank a bottled water and go over everything about the set from beginning to end. It was a treat for me to hear it, and Ross was ecstatic to relive every moment in detail. I was so happy for him.

   It was also extremely educational, and I wish I’d had a recorder to turn our conversation into a podcast for future comedians making their network TV debut. We went over our experiences and compared notes, and someone could have definitely gotten something out of the whole exchange.

   Ross said they told him he could come back, and they’ll be running his episode again at the end of May apparently. Not only is it great exposure, he gets paid again. I’m not sure if they ever ran a second showing of my Craig Ferguson shot, but I know I never got paid again. Ross deserves it and I’m thrilled for his good fortune. See him live or see the set at http://youtu.be/3fUyhibih7M.

Comedian Ross Bennett

Comedian Ross Bennett

Sun Ra

May 23, 2013

Wednesday May 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Today would have been the 99th birthday of one Herman Poole Blount – aka “Sun Ra”. He was born in Birmingham, AL but claimed to be from the “Angel Race” – not of this planet. That alone makes him one of my all time favorite entertainers, but his showmanship is what I admire most.

   He was the leader of a huge band that he called his ‘arkestra’, and the name of it changed about as frequently as his musical directions. There was the ‘Blue Universe Arkestra’, the ‘Heliocentric Space Arkestra’, the ‘Solar Myth Arkestra’ and many many more. He was an eccentric fellow.

   There’s good weird and bad, and he was very good. By all accounts, he and his band were drug free and upstanding members of the community wherever they happened to be living at any time. They were based for years in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, where Sun Ra died in 1993.

   I never got a chance to see him live, but I’ve seen some very interesting video that puts me in a fun mood every time I see it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7_JUShK4n8&feature=related is one link. There’s also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMMWNwVhq5k&feature=related

   Sun Ra was a true original, and those are difficult to find. George Clinton borrowed a little bit from him and also set up shop in ‘outer space’. The whole ‘Mothership Connection’ concept and costume came out of Sun Ra’s shadow and I freely admit that’s where I got The King of Uranus.

   I remember the first time I saw him on TV when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but it captured my undivided attention as I watched it with my grandparents. Gramps looked like he got it, but my German grandma wanted to take a rolling pin to either the TV, Gramps or both.

   Grandma was not very open to anything new, different or artistic. If it wasn’t a Lawrence Welk ditty or a polka, she didn’t want it within five miles of her. Seeing Sun Ra and his ‘arkestra’ sent her farther into outer space than Sun claimed to be from. The greatest ones are loved and hated.

   I loved the fact that he incorporated outer space themes into his music, and that made me want to know more about him as I got older. He was a remarkable personality to say the least, and his claim of being taken by aliens to the planet Saturn made me like him more. He made that claim a long time before UFO abduction stories were popular, and he stuck by that story his entire life.

   I don’t know if he was from Saturn or not, but I do know he was an underappreciated artist and too eclectic for the masses. He was a recording machine, and it is said he’s the the 20th Century’s most prolific musical artist with over 100 full length albums. Wow! That alone is one major feat.

   It’s also notable that he’s a ‘22’. According to numerology, people born on the 11th and 22nd of a month are allegedly the strongest personalities and most influential people. Sun Ra was born on a 22nd, as was George Clinton (7/22). Rodney Dangerfield was too. (11/22) There are all kinds of entertainers, politicians and celebrities born on 11s and 22s so there may be some truth to that.

   I’m not a ‘22’ or an ‘11’ unfortunately. I’m a ‘pi’ (3/14). I don’t know if any of it means a dang thing, but I do know I am a fan of Sun Ra and not nearly enough people know who he was to pay tribute to a unique performer who had the guts to follow his creative vision for decades. That’s at the top of my list for people I admire most, and he’s up there with the very best. He spent his life entertaining this planet – whether he was born here or not. What better way to invest one’s time?

Sun Ra

Sun Ra

The King of Jupiter?

The King of Jupiter?

 

One Cosmic Cat

One Cosmic Cat

I QUIT!

May 23, 2013

Tuesday May 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   There’s a major upheaval going on inside my head, and I couldn’t be more excited. I know that I need to completely rewire my beliefs down to the core, and as scary as that may be I’m ready to dive in with both feet and make a full commitment. Upgrading my car was a very positive start.

   The next thing that needs to be tweaked heavily is my model for career success. The world I’m in now both professionally and as a whole is completely different than the world I started in, but that can be said of anyone. We’re all learning to adapt and adjust, but the older we are the harder it is to do. Comedians of my generation were spoiled. We got to experience those fabulous ‘80s.

   That was an amazing time to be a comedian – probably the best ever. I’m delighted I got to see and experience it firsthand, but those days are gone forever. I can’t go on conducting business as if times haven’t changed. They absolutely have, and comics from my generation are hit hardest.

   We all clearly remember when there were more clubs than acts, and anyone with a phone and a functioning car could get booked enough to at least squeak out a living. It only lasted for a short time, but boy was it fun. It’s nothing like that now, and that means I have to come up with a new plan – or have a plan period. Back then nobody thought about anything other than their next gig.

   We were able to easily bring in a livable wage almost immediately – even as an opening act – so that virtually NOBODY even thought about merchandising except my friend James Gregory from Atlanta. Kudos and then some to James for being the nationwide leader years before I saw anyone else do it. People used to snicker at him for selling his wares, but who’s laughing now?

   James was smart enough to treat comedy like a BUSINESS. That’s exactly what it is, but most of the rest of us weren’t that smart. We stupidly assumed everything would ‘just work out’ for all us and even stupider than that we assumed it would last forever. I’m embarrassed that I did too.

   Nobody pictures getting older or the times changing, and NONE of us saw the internet coming – not even James. That was the giant fire breathing cross between an elephant and a dragon that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and completely changed the game. It took a while, but it’s here to stay. Anyone who enters the game today has a whole new set of paradigms to deal with.

   I can’t speak for the others of my generation, even though I know more than a few aren’t liking the way things have evolved. I’m not thrilled with it myself, but I have to enter into a mindset of today in order to continue or you can make my next check out to ‘Mr. Edsel’. It’s a new world.

   Unfortunately, funny has little or nothing to do with the game today. It’s all about being able to get noticed. Who has the most Facebook friends? Who can put asses in seats? It wouldn’t matter in the least if the ‘next big thing’ in comedy wouldn’t get ONE laugh. If he or she could fill seats in a comedy club, they’d be instant headliners. I didn’t create this world, but it’s where we live.

   If Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson were to be released from prison and decide to do a tour of comedy clubs, they’d sell out coast to coast in minutes. Again, I’m just reporting the truth. I wish it mattered who’s funny and ethical and nice, but none of that has anything to do with anything. I don’t have to like the way things are going, but I do have to deal with it. The ‘80s are over on the calendar, and they have to be over in my head too. It was a great time, but I can’t live there now. I am now an internet marketer specializing in humorous content. As far as a comedian – I QUIT!    

Thrifty vs. Cheap

May 22, 2013

Monday May 20th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I really needed to get rid of that Nissan Sentra. It was sucking whatever self esteem I may have had left right through the exhaust pipe, and no matter how good of a deal it was or wasn’t it put a vibe in my life I don’t want any part of. Living like a bum is not what I aspire to, especially after putting in so many years of paying dues. I made a big mistake, and it was time to cut my losses.

   I have a friend of a friend who wheels and deals cars on craigslist, and he is listing it for me for a small fee only if it sells. I could have run it through the auction I suppose, but who’d nibble on a ratty looking pickle like that? Even if it does have low miles and new parts, there’s no sizzle.

   The windshield cracked all the way across, and all the hubcaps are now gone. I started out with three, but after six rough months of potholes and railroad tracks the others jumped ship as well. It has been an unbelievably painful run with this car, and I didn’t expect it or I would have turned it down when I got the offer. For whatever reason, it has jumped up and taught me a painful lesson.

   A big part of it is about mindset. All too often a dented can feels he or she isn’t deserving of an item or position of top quality because that’s the message that’s been installed since childhood. It eventually becomes habit, and habits can be very hard to break. This is much deeper than a car or any other outside source. This is something that comes from within, and it needs to be changed.

   I really do feel I deserve to have a nice car and work the top level gigs. I have earned my place as a performer, but there’s still that little whipped puppy inside that was told all my life I’d never amount to anything and would be a total failure. I don’t want to believe that, but I sure do appear to be doing all I can to perpetuate that outwardly. I need to stop immediately and change course.

   I’m in the middle of a slump at the moment, but I’ve been in them countless times before and it doesn’t scare me a bit. I know enough to know they eventually pass, and good things will start to head my way eventually. I have been clinging on to a loser’s mindset of late, and that has to stop.

   Taking that car from my friend Rich was a bigger mistake than I ever imagined. It wasn’t just a car between friends – at least from my end. It was me settling for the lowest possible rung on the ladder because I didn’t think I deserved to have anything better. I didn’t see it at the time, but it’s crystal clear in retrospect. Again, there’s a difference between thrifty and cheap and I see it now.

   My father was painfully cheap, and looking at it now I see it was distinctly because he was not confident he would ever be able to do any better. He drove even crappier cars than I do, and now he’s dead and what did it prove? At one time he could have bought himself a brand new car right off the lot, but he never ever treated himself at any time. He went to his grave a mental pauper.

   I’m not saying he or anyone else needs to piss money away like a coked up rapper, but there’s a mindset inside everyone that attracts pretty much everything. There are unforeseen incidents of pure luck in everyone’s life, but for the most part what any of us get is programmed from within.

   I thought I knew that, but I guess I didn’t. This car situation sure drove it home with an unholy vengeance, and I’m sorry I was that thickheaded to not be able to see it. I have to change what’s in my head and then what comes to me will change. I don’t want any more two tone Nissans with no hubcaps. I’ve had enough of that for six lifetimes. I want to play with the big boys. I deserve a chance, and it’s up to me to allow it to happen. As for the old mindset, I want it gone like the car.