Respect


Saturday August 3rd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

    Respect. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Aretha Franklin sang a hit song about it. Rodney Dangerfield didn’t get any, and made a career of letting everyone know why not. Mafia members and rappers had better show some to their fellow brethren or they could get a head full of lead. It’s a valued commodity.

   Who doesn’t want to be respected? It’s right up there with oxygen on the importance meter and people will go to great lengths to get it. Some will go as far as to resort to bully tactics, but that’s no way to guarantee getting it. It might gain fear, but that’s not respect. There’s a big difference.

   When I started in standup comedy, all I ever wanted was respect in my home town. I wanted it from my family, audiences, fellow comedians and club owners. I was a punk in my twenties then and hadn’t found my stride in life. I knew I had some ability, but had no clue what to do with it.

   That led to some ugly clashes with all of the exact parties from whom I was looking for respect in the first place, and it left me bitter and disillusioned. Why was I getting exactly the opposite of what I wanted? It felt like my inner magnet was inserted backwards, and I only attracted trouble.

   It still feels that way in some places, but not in my home town of Milwaukee. I’ve been able to slay most all of my local dragons, and it feels really good to know I’ve come full circle. Tonight I did a set at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival at the Act Two Theatre and I totally felt respected.

   I’m no longer the young buck trying to prove myself, and I’ve grown quite comfortable in my own skin. I’ve managed to accomplish a lot of the dreams I had starting out, and the main reason is that I stayed with it for so long. I was too stupid to quit, and a few good things came my way.

   I’ve managed to take standup comedy farther than just about anyone else from Milwaukee, and I’m feeling the respect from the twenty somethings who are coming up the same ladder that I did all those years ago. I had nobody to use as a role model, and they’re using me as one now. Great!

   As I walked back stage at the festival, I had one person after the other walk over and shake my hand and tell me something nice. One saw me on Craig Ferguson, and another reads my diary on a regular basis. Some told me hello from friends of mine they’d seen recently, and it really felt as if I was someone of importance. I haven’t been used to that treatment – especially in Milwaukee.

   It felt absolutely wonderful, and I know they were all sincere. I have zero power over anybody in this group, and not one of them had to even look at me. To them, I’m an old fart who showed up because the festival founder Matt Kemple asked me to. And there’s another perk. That guy is really on the ball, and he’s built a fantastic event with this festival. He’s earned my total respect.

   I always thought this was the way life should work, and I can’t put into words how wonderful it feels to see it come to fruition in real life. I’ve paid a LOT of dues in both life and the business, and to have that recognized by a generation of performers that could be my kids is a major high.

   I’ve felt respected in Chicago for a while now. I have always tried to be kind to comics starting out, and it has paid off repeatedly. I’ll meet some kid for the first time and see their countenance change completely when I tell them my name. That’s respect, and I can’t think of a feeling more rewarding. I am extremely grateful to be thought of so highly by SOMEONE, as I know there are still some who think I’m Satan’s son. We can’t please everyone, so why try? I will be who I am.

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