Archive for October, 2013

Art Appreciation

October 30, 2013

Sunday October 27th, 2013 – Springfield, IL/Madison, WI

I took a detour home from Springfield, IL today and drove up to Madison, WI to hang out with my friend Art Hinty. Art is a seasoned sportswriter by trade, and has an extremely creative mind. He has done standup comedy for years, and was part of Doug Stanhope’s inner circle for a while.

Like me, Art is originally from Milwaukee. He moved to the suburb of Sussex as a kid, but it’s not all that far from the city so he is very familiar with all things local. He totally gets where I am trying to go with my “Schlitz Happened!” show, and I wanted to pick his brain for my next run.

He’s already been very helpful with input, and I give him total credit. He’s the one that thought of the tag line “An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” after I told him what my title was. He’s the perfect sounding board to bounce ideas off of, because he gets both comedy and local flavor.

Art came out to see the show when I was at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino last April, and took the time to write out a detailed three page critique and make suggestions of how I could grow it into a local hit. He was dead on with his observations, and I appreciate his interest.

I never thought I was smart enough to pull this project off by myself. I knew going in I’d need plenty of help and support, and I’ve gotten it from a lot of talented people. Vicki Quade of “Late Night Catechism” and many other successful plays has been very supportive, and she drove up in April from Chicago to not only see the show but bring a friend with clout who could help sell it.

Bob Rech and the entire staff at Northern Lights Theatre have been unbelievably supportive, as has Joe San Felippo from Bonkerz Comedy Clubs. He books the comedy shows in the theatre on Saturday nights, and gave me the thumbs up for the trial run in April. I’m grateful to everybody.

I’m going to need a lot more help and support, but I feel supremely confident that it will come. I have another run set to go in December, and I’m gearing up to make major improvements. I am still in the very beginning stages, and smart decisions need to be made as the show gets rolling.

Eventually I want to have local corporate sponsorship and a line of merchandise to sell, but for now I need to keep fleshing out the show and making it solid. I experimented a lot in April, and I also learned a lot. The audiences were there, and they got what I was talking about. That’s great, but now I need to take it to the next level and craft an actual set show that I can polish for years.

Art is the perfect choice to consult for this, and I bought him dinner at Longhorn Steak House as appreciation not only for his time and ideas, but for a really nice thing he did for me years ago when I was going to do my appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS TV. He passed the hat and asked local comedians to donate for my trip to LA. What a sweet gesture.

Getting money out of comedians for anything is nothing short of miraculous, and I never forgot how kind it was for him to do that. Art is a wonderful and talented person, and that alone made it worth my trip to thank him for doing that. As an added bonus, we watched the Packers stomp the purple out of the nefarious Minnesota Vikings and that was the perfect way to end the day. Steak and football can never go wrong, nor can comedy and friendship. http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

Art Hinty - sports writer, comedian, creative sounding board

Art Hinty – sports writer, comedian and creative sounding board

Making The Radio Rounds

October 29, 2013

Friday October 25th, 2013 – Springfield, IL

I’m back in Springfield, IL this week at one of my all time favorite stops, Donnie B’s Comedy Club. I’ve always enjoyed working here, and this week is no exception. Donnie B is a hustler of epic proportions, and I mean that in only the most respectful way. He’s a fantastic entrepreneur.

I don’t think I have ever seen a comedy club owner work as hard as he does to get the word out and keep it out. He’s got a car full of posters and flyers and coupons, and everywhere I go I’ll see his club mentioned somewhere. That guy knows how to promote, and he deserves all his success.

Unfortunately, he didn’t pick the greatest town to work his magic and he’s not living in the lap of luxury like I think he should be. The economy has hit him like most everyone else, and he’s in the same boat as almost everyone who has their own business. He’s busting ass just to stay even.

He runs a bar and restaurant in the hotel where his club is located, and that keeps him busy for most of the week. Comedy shows are Friday and Saturday, and he runs the comedians around to get on four radio stations on Friday mornings. Nobody could ever accuse Donnie of being lazy.

I made it into town last night, and was glad to do the four radio interviews. That’s what gets the word out, and even if people don’t come out this week at least it’s awareness for the club. I can’t believe how many club owners and comedians alike don’t realize how crucial radio exposure is.

We did an AM sports station, the classic rock station, the oldies station and the hot hits station “Kiss FM”. Everyone was very nice, and I tried to talk fast and say “Donnie B’s Comedy Club” as many times as humanly possible. Donnie knows I know what I’m doing, and I could see a big smile on his face every time I’d mention the club or plug the shows. A lot of comics don’t get it.

Like it or not, a comedian and a club owner are in business together for the week. It’s not smart to have a hostile relationship, as it will hurt everyone. If the club can get a dozen media outlets to have the comedian on, the comedian needs to get up and go no matter how early or inconvenient.

Another thing I respect about Donnie is that he hosts his own shows. Who else but the owner is able to extol the virtues of a business, and that’s what he does. He talks about drink specials and upcoming events, and personally greets the regulars that happen to show up on a particular night.

He books an opening act to do a very short set – usually about 12-15 minutes tops. It works for him, and I for one am a fan of this system. It might not be the greatest for developing local talent, but from an audience’s standpoint it’s a very solid show. He’s not in the business to develop acts, he’s in business to sell tickets, food and drinks. I grasp that a lot more now than when I started.

Donnie makes no bones about the fact that he’s in business to earn a living. I have no problem with that, and we get along great. He knows I’ll deliver on stage, and I know my check won’t be short or bounce at the end of the week. If every club was this cut and dried, life would be peachy.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t look to be a great weekend due to Halloween and the World Series. Sometimes circumstances can kill even the best of promoters, but at least we did all we can do.

Donnie B's Comedy Club in Springfield, IL is one of the best run comedy clubs in America. www.funnybonecomedyclub.com

Donnie B’s Comedy Club in Springfield, IL is one of the best run comedy clubs in America. http://www.funnybonecomedyclub.com

Deep Sleep

October 29, 2013

Thursday October 24th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I have had recurring dreams throughout my life, and I wish I could figure out why they happen and what if anything it means. They range from the traditional being back in high school without my homework to being on the radio when my song ends and I don’t have another one to others.

One I have fairly regularly is being booked to do a huge comedy gig, but can’t find my way to the stage. I’ll spend most of the dream feverishly trying to get to the venue, and then I’m not able to find anyone to report to backstage, and I never actually get to perform. It’s always frustrating.

Other times I dream I am on a network show, and go out and destroy the audience. They laugh at everything I say, and I know even before I say my next line that it’s going to crush. Sometimes the host is David Letterman, and he and I sit and talk afterward. It’s not clear if it’s on TV or not, but we’ll chat about the business just like two comics would – and he always treats me as a peer.

Another batch of dreams I’ve had for years is being a professional athlete and playing baseball, basketball or football. They are incredibly vivid, and it feels like I’m really doing it. I am right in the heat of action, and always know exactly what to do. In basketball I’m the point guard and get a rebound and dribble it up the court and either pass it off for a basket or sink a perfect jumper.

In football I’m usually a kickoff returner and feel the rush of trying to run one back for a score. Sometimes I make it a long way up the field, and other times I get tackled. Other times I’m in the defensive backfield and can feel where the quarterback is going to throw and I intercept the pass.

In baseball I’m the pitcher, but I usually get to bat and end up smacking a solid hit somewhere. I can’t control when these dreams happen, but when they do they’re of uncanny clarity and I can feel every tiny detail as if it’s not a dream. It’s a sensational feeling, and I don’t want to wake up.

One that has always puzzled me is where I’m walking down a city street and come upon a city bus that’s been abandoned. The bus is running, and I climb in the driver’s seat and start driving it on the scheduled route. I stop to let passengers on and off, and even answer questions they’ll ask.

I’ll feel that big steering wheel in my hands, and I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going. It’s unbelievably fun to be doing this, and I can’t get enough of it. When I’m done driving I just park the bus and get off. At that point I’ll usually wake up, but I still remember everything.

I can’t begin to guess what this could possibly mean, other than I need to take better care of my diet after 9pm. I’ll bet I’ve been having a variation of this dream more than twenty years and I’m still without a clue as to what it might mean. It’s a blast to drive the bus while I do it, then it’s over.

I had this particular dream again last night, and as a bizarre twist my only passenger was Rick Harrison from “Pawn Stars”. We were talking about comedy and pawn shops, and out of the blue I got pulled over by a cop and he wanted to arrest me for theft. Rick thought he was being set up.

I know it’s weird, but it’s so vivid I can still picture it. It’s like I was really getting arrested and I thought I was going to jail. This time I was glad I woke up. Even my life isn’t THAT out there.

I have had recurring dreams for years. Am I nuts? Probably.

I have had recurring dreams for years. Am I nuts? Probably.

An Unusual Mix

October 27, 2013

Wednesday October 23rd, 2013 – Vernon Hills, IL/Great Lakes, IL

Today was a long day with an unusual mix of activities, but everything was fun. First up was a career fair of all things at Vernon Hills High School in Vernon Hills, IL. I’ve never been part of one of those before, so I went in with an open mind. I looked at it as an opportunity for learning.

Rick Young is Jimmy McHugh’s partner in The Chicago Comedy All Stars group, and they’ve booked me many times to be on their fundraiser shows. Rick is a master salesman by trade, and was asked to be part of the career fair by some contact he made. He asked if I would come along and talk to the kids that had questions about getting into the entertainment business. I said yes.

Part of me was curious as to how many would be interested, and what they thought was funny at that age. It was a good demographics test, plus I enjoy hanging out with Rick. The event went from 9am to 2pm, but it included lunch so I was there. I’m glad I went, as it was very revealing.

The kids were very smart, and asked a lot of intelligent questions. When I asked who they liked as a comedian names I heard frequently were Louis CK and Gabriel Iglesias. I didn’t know what to expect, but those were by far the most frequent answers. I enjoyed talking to them, and the day flew by. I’m glad Rick asked me to tag along and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was productive.

This evening I had a booking at Great Lakes Naval Base in Lake County, IL. I’ve worked there before, and have always had fun. They treat performers extremely well, and the audiences are up there with the best anywhere. They’re very supportive of live entertainment, and that makes it all worth going. It’s close to home too, which is a huge perk. I’ll work there any time they call me.

John Prue and Lisa Weaver were my direct contacts, and they couldn’t have been easier to deal with. There’s a lot of government red tape to go through for security purposes after 9/11, but we worked it out and there were no problems. I brought my picture ID and all of the paperwork they sent and everything came off without a hitch. It was a small price to pay for such a fun booking.

I hosted the show tonight, and it was a breeze. They had some giveaways they asked me to do before the show started, and I’ve had plenty of experience doing things like that. There were all kinds of nice prizes, and I had to make ad libs as people came up to collect them. It was easy.

Then they asked me to do 5-10 minutes to warm the audience up before I brought up the other acts Beth Stelling and then Myq Kaplan. Beth is originally from Ohio but lived in Chicago for a couple of years, and I hadn’t met Myq before. He’s from New York, and has a lot of TV credits.

Both of them were really funny, and good people too. Beth has always been a sweetheart, and now she’s made the big move to LA. She’s razor sharp in her business acumen, as is Myq. I can learn a lot from them both, and good for them for understanding the important part of the game.

The audience loved us all, and it was fun to watch Beth and Myq work as I hadn’t seen either of their entire sets before. We had a lot of fun hanging out backstage before the show, and they treated us like big stars the whole night. We had a deli tray and drinks on ice, and it felt like we were really in showbiz. If there’s a better way to spend a Wednesday night, I can’t think of it.

Great Lakes Naval Base is always a great gig.

Great Lakes Naval Base is always a great gig.

Good Deed, Good Day

October 27, 2013

Tuesday October 22nd, 2013 – Wilmette, IL

Any day I’m able to do a good deed is a good day. I know it sounds corny, but I mean it. That’s the only thing that has any lasting meaning, and I love it whenever I’m able to make a difference. Today I had a chance to help someone, and it worked out better than expected. It feels fantastic.

Mark Schiff is a very funny comedian, and I’ve been a fan for years. I first saw him in the early ‘80s, and I loved his style. He has had both an HBO and Showtime special, and he and comedian Ritch Shydner compiled a book of comedy road stories called “I Killed” in which I have a story.

If there’s one resource in which I am rich it’s comedy road stories. I’ve been around the block many times, and the story they chose to use was a time I was in Tuscaloosa, AL and challenged an audience that included some University of Alabama football players. I treaded on holy ground by insulting their dead football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and had to be escorted out of town.

That story is what indirectly got me kicked off of the Bob and Tom radio show in Indianapolis. I had a copy of the book with me, and Tom asked me what it was. I told him it was a compilation of comedy road stories and he asked if I was in it. When I said yes, he asked me to tell the story. I did exactly what he asked, and then everyone became furious and threw me out of the studio.

I still can’t figure out why they got so angry, but that put them over the edge. I have never been treated so poorly by anyone in radio or TV, and apparently I’m still in their doghouse to this day. I’ve tried to apologize several times, but they won’t hear of it. I think the whole thing is insane.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with both Mark and Ritch when they were in the process of compiling the book, and it was a thrill to meet them both. Both of those guys were part of the generation right before me, and I knew both of their work extremely well. To have them treat me as a peer made me feel great, and both couldn’t have been nicer – the opposite of Bob and Tom.

Mark is the co-author of a funny new play called “Marriage Is A Bout”, which delves into two couples that are friends and all that goes on with their marriages. One couple is Jewish while the other is Gentile. They had a run through with the actors at the Wilmette Theatre in Wilmette, IL tonight, and Mark invited me to be part of it and asked if I knew anyone else that I could invite.

I happen to know some very talented and creative people, and I got the word out for him. One of those who showed up was Vicki Quade. She’s got several successful productions going on in Chicago and all over including “Late Night Catechism” and “Put The Nuns In Charge”. I was in Vicki’s “You’re On The Air” play with Jerry Agar, Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara and it was fun.

Teme Ring is a gifted comedy writer, and she and her husband Jeff were able to attend along with Rick Young who is an actor in the area. They all enjoyed the show as did I, and afterward Mark and the crew sat around and took input from anyone who wanted to give their opinions.

I know it helped Mark, and I’m delighted I was able to get such a creative bunch to come out and support. It was a fun experience all around, and Mark thanked me profusely. It was no big deal, and I was glad to do it. I learned a lot myself of how the process goes. This was a win/win.

Comedian Mark Schiff - one of the all time greats. www.markschiff.com

Comedian Mark Schiff – one of the all time greats. http://www.markschiff.com

Dig Out Day

October 26, 2013

Monday October 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

After a long week of doing shows, Monday is traditionally ‘dig out day’ for comedians. We’ve got a lot to do when we’re working a full week, even though it doesn’t seem like much. It might appear to the public like all we do is stand on a stage for a short time and collect our money, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. Pulling off a week of solid shows requires a lot of energy.

In my case, getting back and forth to the shows is a major undertaking. I live exactly fifty miles from Zanies, and traffic is an issue every day. About fifteen miles of that is not freeway, and that becomes a daily challenge to avoid both construction and congestion. Couple that with whatever tribulations freeway and big city driving and parking can bring and you have a daily nightmare.

Most days I’ll leave early, but I don’t want to get there too early or I’ll have to pay for parking longer than I already do. It’s become insane in Chicago, as it has in most big cities. On the other hand, I don’t want to cut it too close, or there’s a chance I’ll miss the show. It’s a delicate mix.

Sometimes traffic is clear and I have no obstacles whatsoever. Other times it’s constipated and I’m helplessly stranded and can’t move. If I could take a train I would, but they stop running and I can’t get one back home when I need it. I’m stuck driving, and that becomes an energy drainer.

The shows themselves require attention as well. As a headliner, I need to watch the entire show to see how it unfolds. If there’s an ad lib or someone in the crowd says something I need to know what it is so I can deal with it. A lot of headliners just go up when it’s their turn, but that’s wrong in my opinion. The audience deserves respect, and part of that is for me to watch the entire show.

That also takes time and energy from the week. It all adds up, and by the end of the week all I want to do is relax and do nothing. Ha! Who has that option? While I was working at pulling off solid shows all week, everything else was piling up from emails to voicemails to dirty laundry.

Monday becomes dig out day, and all I see are piles everywhere. I feel great about the week of rock solid shows and the paycheck I earned, but I also feel overwhelmed by all the errands I need to run today like getting mail from my P.O. Box, going to the bank and doing laundry. It’s boring but it all needs to get done. Plus, my phone message box is full and my email pile has returned.

I had some extra stuff to take care of today on top of all of that. My license plate registration is up at the end of the month, so I went to pay that off and get my sticker. I also needed to have my oil changed, as I haven’t had time or money to do it of late. I can’t afford to have a blown engine.

I needed to get this done today in addition to everything else I had on my plate, and it ended up taking almost a full day to get it all done. I wanted to rest up and recharge a little, but that wasn’t an option. I appreciate the fact I’m getting work these days, but it’s getting harder to stay current.

This week is going to be even more swamped. I’ve got meetings planned every day and things going on every night. If I didn’t spend all of today digging out I’d be so out of it in just a couple of weeks that I wouldn’t know which way was up. It doesn’t take long to lose control, and that’s what scares me. I’m working my ass off just to tread water. What will happen if I catch a break?

After a long week of work, Monday is 'dig out' day.

After a long week of work, Monday is ‘dig out’ day.

Headline News

October 26, 2013

Sunday October 20th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

I’m finishing up another week at Zanies in Chicago, and it was very good on many levels. First it was a payday, and I can really use that right about now. Next, I enjoyed working with the other acts on the show. They’re all up and comers, and I always try to be kind to them whenever I can.

I remember when I started that it didn’t take many encouraging words from a headliner to go a long way in making me feel like I was part of the business when in truth I really wasn’t quite yet. It takes years of hard work to get real seasoning, but it sure makes a difference along the way if a headliner offers some words of kindness and encouragement. It’s my turn to do that when I can.

The headliner on a comedy show has a lot of responsibility, and it’s a lot harder than it looks to pull off that position. Everyone who does comedy wants to get there, but not everyone can pull it off. To do it well takes a lot of experience, and the only way to get it is by taking a lot of lumps.

Coming up the ranks in comedy is a brutal process, much like a butterfly working hard to peck its way out of a cocoon. It requires all available energy, and although it can appear to be horrific torture it is in fact what builds the strength required for flight. Mother Nature can be rather cruel, but there’s a plan in place for the bigger picture. The struggle at the front end has a payoff later.

There were three shows last night, and I wish I could have recorded them all to show those on the way up what can be expected. They were as different as different can be, but a real headliner has to be able to adapt to any situation. That’s why we get paid the most – the pressure is on us.

The first show was extremely tight. They had not eaten dinner yet, and were not in a laughing mood for whatever reason. They were stone cold, and the opening acts all had trouble with even getting their attention much less making them laugh. It got to the point where they brought it up and insulted them about it. This is a big mistake, but one I made myself when I was starting out.

I knew exactly what to do, and was able to win them over in a few minutes. I had experience to fall back on, and instinctively knew how to warm them up. By the end of the show they were on my side, and I had a long line of people afterward telling me how much I had “saved the show”.

I thanked them for their words, but I really didn’t save anything. The other comics haven’t had the experience I have yet. If they stay with it as long as I have, they’ll know what to do too. They haven’t paid their dues yet, and it takes a lot to know how to bring around a tight crowd like that.

The middle show was red hot, but that’s to be expected. That’s the money show, and everyone should be able to pull that one off. I brought my A game and “played the hits”. The crowd was in a great mood, and I brought home a rock solid show. That’s what a headliner gets paid for also.

The late show was rowdy. There was a bachelor party full of obnoxious drunken frat boy types, and they were very vocal. It spooked the openers to the point of them bailing early, and I’ve been in that scenario too. I don’t blame them, but again I knew what I had to do and went up there and took charge early. I barely had to deal with the group until the end, but by then I had established myself and it was easy to squelch them. It was a textbook night on how hard standup comedy is.

Standup comedy is hard - being a headliner is harder. Not everyone gets there.

Standup comedy is hard – being a headliner is harder. Not everyone gets there.

Comedian Jimmy McHugh

October 26, 2013

Saturday October 19th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Today is the birthday of one of my all time favorite comedians, the great Jimmy McHugh out of Chicago. He is also one of my favorite friends, and I can’t say enough good things about him onstage or off. In my opinion, he should have gotten a huge break a long time ago. He’s a talent.

There is also a comedian out of Boston named Jim McCue, but we’ve never met in person. We are Facebook friends, and I’ve heard nothing but stellar things about him onstage and off as well. The two do get confused from time to time, and Jim McCue’s birthday happens to be tomorrow.

I found it kind of odd that two guys who have the same sounding name and are both comedians from two different cities happen to have a birthday a day apart. I don’t think it’s weird enough to make it into the next Ripley’s Believe It Or Not compilation, but it’s close. It adds to the legend.

I first met Jimmy McHugh in the ‘80s at The Comedy Cottage in Rosemont, IL. I used to come from Milwaukee to get stage time when I first started, and that was the showcase club in the area. There were all kinds of comics that went on to much bigger things, and that’s where it all started.

What a vibe there was in that place. The comedy boom was just starting, and audiences were as hot as one could imagine – even on week nights. It was an era that will never be again and I wish I could have recorded some of those shows for the historical value. They were loaded with talent.

The thing I remember most about Jimmy was that his material was very polished. His style is a lot different than most comedians in that he writes in chunks. His stuff is very much his own, and has stood the test of time. Several of his bits are flat out standup comedy classics in my opinion.

He does a hilarious routine about a drunk taking the bus home on New Year’s Eve in Chicago. He plays the character to perfection, and it’s outstanding. He also has one about vacuuming a rug where a piece of lint won’t get sucked up. That might not sound all that funny, but Jimmy brings it to life and gets the crowd roaring every time. Again, it’s unique and he has made it his own.

I’ll bet Jimmy has a dozen chunks of really solid time tested material like that, and even though I’ve seen them literally hundreds of times they still make me laugh out loud even now. He knows what he’s doing, and I love to watch him work. He has been paying dues even longer than I have.

Even more appreciated is his friendship. I thought I was a giver, but Jimmy goes all out. When I was doing cruise ship work a couple of years ago, Jimmy would get up at 3 or 4am to drive me to O’Hare Airport to catch a flight and then let me park my car in his driveway to save all kinds of parking fees. This wasn’t just once either. He did it week after week and never complained.

Too often we wait until someone dies to recall all the great things they did, but I wanted to put it out there about Jimmy while he’s alive so he can be appreciated for the gem that he is. It would be great if the good guy would catch a break for once, and nobody would cheer louder than me if that happened. Jimmy has booked me for shows through the years, and always pays comedians a solid buck to the point of it coming out of his pocket. He puts his money where his mouth is, and nobody I know works harder. Check him out for yourself at http://www.comedianjimmymchugh.com.

Chicago's Jimmy McHugh - a great comedian and even greater friend. www.comedianjimmymchugh.com

Chicago’s Jimmy McHugh – a great comedian and even greater friend. http://www.comedianjimmymchugh.com

Mental Wealth

October 24, 2013

Friday October 18th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

I’ve been reading quite a bit about acquiring wealth of late, diligently trying to figure out what it takes to achieve financial independence. This has been a perplexing puzzle, and a source of all kinds of pain in my life. I would guess 95% or higher of my problems come from lack of money.

I realize money isn’t everything, but it’s a lot – especially when it happens to be in too short of supply. It’s the measurement of energy that’s returned to a person in proportion to what he or she puts out. That’s what I’ve been reading anyway. There has to be a way to conquer this problem.

America is supposed to be as good as life gets anywhere on the planet, but the vast majority of Americans are hurting for money right now. I won’t go as far as to say we’re poor, but I doubt if anyone would argue that finances are as tight now as they have been since the Great Depression.

My grandparents told me horror stories when I was a kid of going through those years, but they had no choice. Times were tight for all then, much like they are now. They also told stories of the boom years after World War II where lots of people laid a foundation to build eventual fortunes.

Wealth is definitely a mindset, and one I would love to acquire. If I wasn’t so busy trying to get those pesky bills paid month after month, I might have a shot. It’s much easier to fix a hole in the roof when the sun is shining than during the middle of a torrential downpour. That’s a no brainer.

Not many of us have that luxury. I know I don’t. Every single penny I make goes to either bills or paying down debt. My savings is zero, and I’m thoroughly embarrassed. There was a time not all that long ago when I was sitting pretty with zero credit card debt and a hefty stash in the bank that would have allowed me to live without working for at least a few years. That’s LONG gone.

It’s gone for almost everyone – except the filthy rich that don’t have to worry about what they spend at anytime. That’s a tiny percentage of the population that doesn’t count in my book. I am referring to the real world jungle that most of us have to call home. Things are getting a bit snug.

Gas prices have ‘gone down’ to right around three bucks a gallon. Really? How insane is that? That alone is killing us, as it drives up the prices of transportation to get the trucks with all of the merchandise to the stores so they can sell it. It’s all interwoven, and in the end we get the shaft.

It’s hard not to go off on what’s wrong with the system blah blah blah, but that’s not what I am talking about – at least not today. What I mean is getting a proper mindset in place that will bring true wealth as a result. Part of wealth is having money, but not all. It’s acquiring an abundance of resources that can be used as needed to solve problems. It’s an energy river flowing from within.

I know that sounds goofy, but I really believe that’s what wealth is. Many have won the lottery but wound up broke again not that many years later. I never want that to be me. I want to be the wizard that can rebuild a fortune at any time should disaster happen to strike. I have experienced my share of disaster for the next six lifetimes. Hows ‘bout some decent years tossed in there for a refreshing change? That would be nice, and that’s what I’m shooting for. Picking trinkets out of thrift stores and rummage sales is fun, but it’s not my solution. True wealth comes from within.

Money is part of it, but wealth is a mindset.

Money is part of it, but wealth is a mindset.

Game Experience

October 24, 2013

Thursday October 17th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Any craft that requires skill requires repetition to maintain and improve said skill. There isn’t a single exception to this rule, even though a surprisingly high percentage of beginners mistakenly like to think the rule doesn’t apply to them. This is as wrong as feeding chili to a newborn baby.

It’s fine to read articles and have in depth discussions – even take classes, but until one actually goes out and DOES something it’s all meaningless. The learning comes by doing, and there’s no way around it. It’s great to be prepared, but preparation alone is never enough. Action is needed.

I’ve forever heard pro football people say that NFL quarterback is the most difficult position to play in sports. There are a lot of subtleties to it, and the only way to learn them is by actual game experience. It’s a painstaking process of trial and error but it’s the only way to become seasoned.

Standup comedy is the same way. I believe it’s the most difficult of all entertainment positions, and like quarterbacking there are many subtleties involved. It’s not just a matter of spitting jokes out night after night like a robot. There’s a lot more to it than that. It’s a very complex process.

Circumstances change constantly, and adjustments need to be made. As in football, sometimes a last second audible at the line of scrimmage is necessary. The only way to know what is needed requires experience, and there’s only one way to get it – making mistakes. It’s part of the game.

If there’s one subject I’m qualified to speak on, it’s making mistakes. I’ve made more than my share – more than a dozen people’s shares – but I’ve learned from them all. I’ll still screw up on occasion, but I am able to hide it and recover because I have finally figured out what I’m doing.

Having game experience opens up all kinds of new doors, and makes being on stage even more fun than it was before – and it was intoxicating before. The rush of being on stage is like nothing I have ever experienced, and I have pursued it for a lifetime. It’s the most exciting buzz there is.

I had no idea how to control it when I started, but I knew I loved it. I wanted to be on stage any and all chances I had to do it, even if only for a few minutes. That’s all anyone gets, but that’s all anyone can handle at first. Five minutes can be a LONG time – especially when it’s going badly.

Now, I can do a solid hour without thinking about it and still have plenty of material left over – and that’s a rock solid polished hour, not “Where ya from?” or “What do you do?” Crowd work doesn’t count, even though that’s a skill of its own. I’m talking about an act. It takes a lifetime.

A lot of nasty lumps were taken in that lifetime, and I can’t honestly say if I knew what it was going to entail and had to do it all again if I would. The experience I have came with a very high price, but I chose to pay it and now it’s mine. What can I do with it? Other than continuing to do shows, hopefully writing about my journey (and many mistakes) will help others on the way up.

My perspective now is very different than it was at the start. I still love being on that stage, but growth never ends. No creative artist or performer is ever a finished product. There’s always the next lesson to learn. Game experience gives me confidence, but also helps to keep me humble.

Standup comedy is like being a quarterback - the most difficult job in the business.

Standup comedy is like being a quarterback – the most difficult job in the business.