Archive for January, 2014

Missing A Mrs.

January 21, 2014

Sunday January 19th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL

Today happens to be the birthday of not one but a nefarious pair of women that managed to get where few ever have and slither their way into my heart only to stomp on it like a bushel of wine grapes. I don’t know if I believe in astrology or not, but having a pair of women born on the very same day who scorched me that badly seems like more than coincidence but who can prove it?

I’m the first to painfully admit my track record is beyond horrific when it comes to women and relationships, but most of it is due to the fact I’ve had so many other problems to deal with in life I never had a chance. I knew in my head I wasn’t ready, and wanted to wait until I knew I was.

I had no idea it would take this long, but I’m finally in a place I feel comfortable opening up to a woman and really sharing my life. That’s what I always thought a marriage should be, even if I didn’t have any close to me to model. My grandparents who raised me fought worse than Packer and Bear fans, and my biological parents should never have had one much less a trio of children.

I was always afraid of not only behaving like my loutish father to my wife, but especially being mean to even one child. I’m at the age now where most people are preparing for grandchildren if they don’t already have them but I haven’t even been engaged to anyone. I’m way off the charts.

I know I could have forced the issue and gone through the motions, but that would have spelled disaster with a capital ‘D’ in the biggest font ever used. Looking at how my life has gone to date, I can’t see any of the women I’ve known staying with me through those ugly times. I’m sure I’d be divorced by now, and who knows how many kids I’d be disappointing? That wasn’t my style.

Now it’s different. I’m feeling a whole new groove starting, and I can totally picture myself in a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship with a functional woman. Someone divorced isn’t a problem at all depending on the situation, and neither are kids. I love them, and most love me.

Coming at it from this angle at this age brings a whole different set of circumstances than it did in my younger years when I had something to prove to everyone – including myself. I don’t have that need anymore, and in fact I’m pretty happy with the way I turned out. I may be a little rough around the edges in places, but there’s a good heart inside and some woman will get a good man.

I may not be Brad Pitt, but I’m not The Elephant Man either. I’m just a guy on the outside, but on the inside I’m a giant teddy bear. That’s what one of the two ice queens who are having their birthday today used to tell me, and then she dropped the bomb. Nice guys seem to get the shaft.

I do think there’s a quality woman out there for me, but where she is I don’t know. I don’t want to start joining dating services and play that game if I don’t have to. I’m asking the universe for a woman that is at least partially sane and doesn’t look like she spent thirty years on a chain gang.

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to a woman I had the extreme hots for in the ‘80s. She didn’t even answer my note, so I’m assuming she’s not interested. One down, the rest of the females on the planet to go. No worries. It’s her loss. I’m in the best mental space I’ve ever been, and I think that should help attract the right one for me right now. I’m putting it out there, and letting it go.

I might not be Brad Pitt...

I might not be Brad Pitt…

...But I'm not Herman Munster either.

…But I’m not Herman Munster either.

I might not get her...

I might not get her…

...But I don't want her either. Is there a happy medium somewhere?

…But I don’t want her either. Is there a happy medium somewhere?

I always liked brunettes. Hear that, universe?

I’ve always liked brunettes. Hear that, universe?

But blondes are ok too.

But blondes are ok too.

Pleasant Memories

January 21, 2014

Saturday January 18th, 2014 – Port Washington, WI

I am experiencing a volcanic molten hot streak in life the likes of which I’ve never come close to, and I have to admit I’m loving every single second. I’ve been as low as low gets, but this isn’t it. It feels like I’ve finally found the way to turn my inner magnet around and I’m attracting good things rather than bad. I feel a noticeable turnaround and I want to remain plugged into it forever.

Tonight was quite simply one of the most satisfying nights I have ever had. I was able to make a positive difference in the life of a total stranger, and headline a sold out show in a killer venue for a fantastic audience who got everything I did. Everybody had fun, and I’m still abuzz over it.

Everything came together tonight, and the results were nothing short of electric. I had about as much fun as a live performer can have, and I rode the wave for more than an hour. I was able to find a groove within the first minute, and ride it the rest of the evening. This is how it should be!

Tonight was the benefit comedy show at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI for Tina Rose-Treskow. She is a long time employee of Memories, and was diagnosed with breast cancer while nursing her fourth child. She’s been going through super painful chemotherapy and tonight everyone came together to offer at least a little relief. There was a sold out house in attendance.

Memories has been doing a monthly “Chicken Comedy” show for a couple of years which has become quite popular. They serve all you can eat broasted chicken that’s some of the best I have ever tasted, and follow it with a live standup comedy show hosted by Rob Haswell from the Fox 6 TV show “Real Milwaukee” that I was on yesterday promoting the show. It’s a well run event.

The people show up to laugh, and they pay to get in which always helps weed out the babbling drunken idiots. Also, to owner Rolland Roebuck’s credit he demands that the shows are kept at a very respectable level. He hand picks the acts that perform, and we’re told what he expects of us.

It’s no problem for me whatsoever, and once again I was able to go up and rattle the rafters for an audience that appreciated it. They were all from the Port Washington area, and that’s as close to Milwaukee as I needed. They got every last subtle reference and I gave them everything I had.

After the show, people lined up to tell me how hilarious I was and buy CDs, DVDs and t-shirts – all of the proceeds going to Tina’s fund. How difficult is it to sit around and let people say how much they enjoyed my show? I thanked them all, and meant it sincerely. That’s as easy as it gets.

What Tina is going through is the hell part. Yes, I sacrificed decades of sweat and hard work to get to the point of being able to pull off a killer show like this, but my suffering wasn’t anywhere near what Tina and her family are going through. If I was able to make them feel good, I’m glad.

Before I was about to go on, Tina found me in the back of the room and gave me probably the biggest hug I’ve ever received. She had tears in her eyes and thanked me for “all that I did” as far as agreeing to do the benefit. I didn’t do anything other than what anyone with human feelings at all would know is just the right thing to do. I had the easy job tonight, and if I helped to make life even a little better for her I am thrilled. Donations can be made at http://www.memoriesballroom.com.

"Chicken Comedy" is a monthly event held at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI. www.memoriesballroom.com.

“Chicken Comedy” is a monthly event held at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI. http://www.memoriesballroom.com.

Memories used to be known at 'Wyler's', and has been around for 80 years. A lot of big music acts played there including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more.

Memories Ballroom used to be known as ‘Weiler’s’, and has been around for 80 years. A lot of big music acts played there including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more. It’s a local landmark.

Rob Haswell from Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee' show is the host for Chicken Comedy night.

Rob Haswell from Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’ show is the host for Chicken Comedy night.

Former cop turned comedian Russ Martin opened the show tonight. He wanted to support the cause as well. Thanks Russ!

Former cop turned comedian Russ Martin opened the show tonight. He wanted to support the cause as well. Thanks Russ!

Wandering Wisconsin

January 19, 2014

Friday January 17th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI/Stevens Point, WI/Merrill, WI

Plenty of stops to make today – and all of them happened to be in Wisconsin. Even though that wouldn’t raise many jealous eyebrows most other places, it’s my home state so I was fine with it. I had a lot of fun with a lot of nice people, and it shouldn’t matter where that happens. I loved it.

My first stop was at Fox 6 studios in Milwaukee to be on their “Real Milwaukee” show to plug the breast cancer benefit at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI tomorrow night. Getting on TV is never a bad thing, and for this particular event I did it twice. I think that’s a first for me.

After that I drove to Ted’s Diner in Wauwatosa, WI to have breakfast with Steve “The Homer” True. I hadn’t seen him since his horrific car wreck in November, and wanted to hear all about it. I had a similar one twenty years ago, and was lucky to have survived. He is too, and he knows it.

Homer has always been one of my very favorite people in the broadcast business because he is completely unaffected by any of the glitz and glamour. He’s a real person, and has a heart about as big as a watermelon. Every benefit I’ve ever done in Milwaukee he has not only showed up to support, but also donated money completely under the radar. He’s a super talent on the air also.

I would love to team up and do some kind of motivational presentation with Homer. His father Dr. Herb True was a pioneer in the motivational speaking business along with others like Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and Zig Ziglar. Homer understands how crucial the entertainment aspect is.

After a fun visit with Homer I drove to Stevens Point, WI to have dinner with my cousin Leah, her husband Rob and their daughter Janine to celebrate Janine’s birthday. I can’t believe she’s 20 already, and no longer the cute little kid that used to laugh at everything I said. Time slips away.

After dinner I drove about an hour farther north to Merrill, WI for a show at the Lincoln Lanes bowling center that has never tried live comedy before. It was booked by my friend “The Mighty Jer Dog”, and I never know quite what to expect at any of his gigs. That’s part of the adventure.

Tonight was a pleasant surprise, as the owner had done his homework and packed the place to the rafters. He got the word out in town, and people showed up. He’s a smart guy in his late 30s that bought the business from his father. His grandfather started it, so there’s some history there.

I liked the guy from the second I met him, and that’s extremely rare for most club owners. I’m used to keeping my guard up at all times, but not tonight. I saw this guy was sincere about doing shows, and people like that make a drive to Merrill, WI in January worth the trouble. It was fun.

He even had my name in lights on his marquee. That’s always a kick, even though I have zero drawing power Merrill, WI. It felt good to work for a guy that cared, and I know he made money tonight so that’s even better. Would I come back here again? Sure. Nice people are nice people.

Normally the venue puts us in a set hotel, but tonight the deal was that I received a stipend for my own lodging. I wasn’t tired after the show so I drove to Green Bay and got a room there. Life sure is a blast when everything is running on all cylinders. This is by far the best time of my life.

I did an appearance this morning on Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee' to plug the big cancer benefit tomorrow night. www.fox6now.com/category/real-milwaukee.

I did an appearance this morning on Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’ to plug the big cancer benefit tomorrow night. http://www.fox6now.com/category/real-milwaukee.

Steve 'The Homer' True survived a horrific car crash on his birthday November 13th. He's looking and feeling great, and is on his way to a full recovery. Listen to him on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee both on his afternoon show 'Homer and Thunder' or doing play by play for Marquette basketball. www.espnmilwaukee.com.

Steve ‘The Homer’ True survived a horrific car crash on his birthday November 13th. He’s looking and feeling great, and is on his way to a full recovery. Listen to him on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee both on his afternoon show ‘Homer and Thunder’ or doing play by play for Marquette basketball. http://www.espnmilwaukee.com.

It's always a kick to see your name up in lights - even if it's at a bowling center in Merrill, WI. It was a great audience, and everyone had fun - including me. www.lincolnlanesonline.com.

It’s always a kick to see your name up in lights – even if it’s at a bowling center in Merrill, WI. It was a great audience, and everyone had fun – including me. http://www.lincolnlanesonline.com.

Will (Durst) Power

January 19, 2014

Thursday January 16th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

2014 is starting off extremely well, and I’m enjoying every second of the ride. I’m trying not to fall behind, but there’s so much going on I can’t help it. Mundane tasks like getting mail, picking up dry cleaning, paying bills and doing laundry tend to pile up, and then everything slows down.

I spent most of today catching up on everything but the laundry, and even though that wouldn’t qualify for anyone’s bucket list it felt great to get it all out of the way. It will clear more room for more of the exciting things I’ve been doing, which is exactly what I’ve always pictured life to be.

What I find most remarkable about this hot streak I’m on is that everything is falling into place both out of the blue and to exact perfection. I’m getting calls for bookings on exactly the nights I happen to be available, whereas it has traditionally been exactly the opposite. I’d get several calls asking for the same date, and had to turn most of them down. Now it’s meshing without a hitch.

Today I picked up two nice bookings in February – both exactly the kind of shows I want to be doing. One is a country club on Valentine’s Day, and the other is a theater I have worked before that I’ve been trying to rebook for several years. Instead of me pestering them, they called me.

Even better about them both is that they’re close to home. I’ll be able to score a pair of paydays and still be home before midnight. These are pure heaven, and they’re coming in frequently from all directions lately. I’m not going to question why, I’m just going to be grateful and take them.

Tonight I happened to have off, but received a personal invitation from the great Will Durst to check out his new one man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” at The Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee. Any time I can see him perform live, I do it. He is one of very few true masters.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Will, if for nothing else his tremendous work ethic. That guy is ALWAYS working on something, and this is his latest incarnation. He had a long run of another one man show about the 2012 Presidential election, but as soon as that was over so was his show.

Will has been known for decades as one of the premiere political satirists anywhere, and that is no easy feat to pull off. Things are constantly changing in that arena, and his shelf life of material is painfully short. He has to continuously keep it all fresh, but he always manages to do just that.

This particular show has gone in the opposite direction – which shows how loaded with ability Will truly is. In many ways it’s like my “Schlitz Happened!” show in that it was made to please a large audience that isn’t being catered to by Hollywood. It was a business decision for both of us.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be passion in it, and I really enjoyed the show. One feature that’s beyond hilarious is Will uses an actual overhead projector which really adds to the theme of what he’s talking about. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s already a high quality product. He nails it.

Will Durst is evolving, and so am I. We both have plenty of show experience, but our business has been lacking through the years. We’re both doing something about it, and I see bright futures for each of us. Any smart fan of standup comedy needs to be a fan of Durst. http://www.willdurst.com.

Will Durst is one of the top standup comics and political satirists of the modern era. www.willdurst.com.

Will Durst is one of the top standup comics and political satirists of the modern era. He is a true master. http://www.willdurst.com.

He wrote and stars in a hilarious one man show aimed at the baby boom generation called "BoomerRaging: From LSD to OMG".

He wrote and stars in a hilarious one man show aimed at the baby boom generation called “BoomerRaging: From LSD to OMG”.

Will performed it tonight in his home town of Milwaukee at Next Act Theatre - a terrific venue to see live entertainment. www.nextact.org.

Will performed it tonight in his home town of Milwaukee at Next Act Theatre – a terrific venue to see live entertainment. Will was terrific too. http://www.nextact.org.

Morning Blend, Evening Friends

January 16, 2014

Wednesday January 15th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI/Muskegon, MI

I’m having nothing but fun right now, and life is going exactly how I pictured it. I’m doing the exact things I’ve always dreamed of, and everything is falling into place perfectly. I still have no idea why it took so long to get here, but dissecting the reason is the last thing I should be doing.

I’m going to focus my gaze forward, and enjoy every minute of this run. It’s like I’ve found the biggest wave on the ocean, and I just got a new surf board. I’m in the position I’ve waited for my whole life. The only thing to do is enjoy it and live in the moment. Long delay or not, I got here.

Today was an absolute blast on every level. First I had a television appearance in Milwaukee to plug my show this Saturday at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI. It’s a benefit for one of their employees who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and the media has picked up on it.

This morning I was on “The Morning Blend” on WTMJ Channel 4, and that’s always fun. I’ve been on probably a half a dozen times now, and they’re always super on air and off. Hosts Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle are gorgeous, friendly, sincere and do their homework on the topics. What more could a guest ask for? Driving up from Illinois early in the morning is worth it to be there.

Executive Producer Kim Buchanan and Producer Katie Pinkowski couldn’t be any nicer to deal with, and it really helps my visibility in my home town. Rodney Dangerfield was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 70 times. That helped his career immensely, and it’s similar for me. It gives me a lot of credibility to be on TV – MUCH more so than radio, and I really appreciate it.

Plus it never hurts to be on plugging a benefit show either. I don’t know the lady we’re doing it for, but I’m sure she and her family and friends saw it and hopefully that gave her some hope and encouragement. I don’t see how this can’t help fill the seats, and I know it will be a red hot show.

After the TV show I got right in my car and drove to Muskegon, MI to do a comedy show for a group at the Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference. That group name would scare off a lot of comedians, but not me. I know how to do a clean show, and that’s why I was hired to be there.

My contact Alina Robinson was also very easy to deal with, and made it a pleasant experience all around. I was a little concerned when I arrived because there was no visible sound system and I had to follow a Mariachi singer that serenaded everyone through dinner, and the guy was great. They all loved him, and I had no idea if they’d like me or not – especially with no sound system.

There was a lapel microphone, but I don’t normally use those. That was what they had, so I had to run with it. Alina introduced me immediately after the singer closed on a high note and owned the audience. It was a difficult situation from which to start – but nothing I haven’t seen before.

It took about ten seconds to get their attention, and they ended up being one of the best crowds I’ve worked for in a long time. They got everything, and I kept it squeaky clean. VERY few acts can pull that off – but I can. I stress to every comedy class I teach that “clean leads to green”, and tonight was living proof. I was paid more money on a Wednesday night doing a clean show than most one nighter comedy shows pay on a Friday or Saturday. This was a terrific day all around.

I always enjoy appearing with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on 'The Morning Blend' on Today's TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. www.themorningblend.com.

I always enjoy appearing with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on ‘The Morning Blend’ on Today’s TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. http://www.themorningblend.com.

The audience I had at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference was one of the best I've had in a LONG time. It pays to know how to do a CLEAN show.

The audience I had tonight in Muskegon, MI at Maranatha Conference Center was one of the very best I’ve had in a LONG time. It pays to know how to do a CLEAN show. What a fantastic crowd!

Bigger Circles

January 15, 2014

Tuesday January 14th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL

Life truly is all about the vibe one puts out, and when that vibe changes – good or bad – there is an equal and opposite reaction from the universe. It’s law, and there’s nothing anybody could do even if they wanted to. My vibe has significantly changed for the better, and I am feeling results.

New people are streaming into my life, and it’s not by accident. I’m attracting them because of my change in vibe. I’m going to keep doing it as long as I stay in this mode, and I’m hoping that will be for the rest of my life. It took a lifetime to get this far, so I want to make the most of it.

One recent example of this was hooking up with Dave Schwensen. I’d had contact with him on previous occasions via email and phone, but now he’s moving to Chicago and I know we will be crossing paths in similar circles. He’ll be teaching his own comedy classes, but he’s been at it for years and is very well connected with the Improv Comedy Club chain. I’ve never worked there.

I can feel that somehow my name will get out in a positive way, and at some point I’ll have the chance to work some Improvs around the country. Maybe we’ll teach classes or put together our own convention or something. Whatever the case, after all these years we are finally connecting.

The speaking game is another area where I sense valuable connections coming my way. I have been friends with Todd Hunt for years, and he’s excellent. He’s as good as any speaker I’ve ever heard, and his marketing is stellar. I have learned a lot from him. http://www.toddhuntspeaker.com.

There are fees paid to speakers that comedians only dream of. It’s a different game completely, and stakes are MUCH higher. Todd’s regular fee is significantly higher than the most I have ever made in one night as a comedian – which unfortunately wouldn’t make Donald Trump jealous.

Well, I’ve crossed paths with some of the very top income generators in the speaking business from Dale Irvin to Larry Winget, and I’m studying how they’ve put together their business plan. Mikki Williams is another top name in that arena, and she called me on the phone yesterday and went over some ideas of how I can make a name in that market. I’m crossing paths with the best.

Mikki is very highly respected in the speaking world, and has the most elaborate newsletter of anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s called “Hair She Is” because she has a lot of hair, and that’s what she uses as her trademark. She commands top dollar whenever she speaks. http://www.mikkiwilliams.com.

Tonight Eric Feinendegen and I met with Jean MacDonald, a speaker who is one of THE most connected people I’ve ever met. She knows everyone in the Chicago business world, and offered to help spread my name around. She and Eric are both Toastmasters, and they took my class last summer at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. They loved it, and now we’re working together.

It’s all about connections, and I’m starting to get some great ones. I want to be one too, and I’ll gladly help people in return. I’m feeling a whole new group of quality people around me but I’m not abandoning the good people I already know. On the contrary, I want to reconnect with all of them too. James Wesley Jackson “The Enviromeian” is an example. I want to promote the DVD I produced for him, and that’s on the agenda for this year too. http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com.

My friend Todd Hunt is one of the best speakers in the business. www.toddhuntspeaker.com.

My friend Todd Hunt is one of the best speakers in the business. http://www.toddhuntspeaker.com.

Mikki Williams has THE most in depth newsletter I've ever seen. Hands down, she sets the standard. www.mikkiwilliams.

Mikki Williams has THE most in depth newsletter I’ve ever seen. Hands down, she sets the standard. http://www.mikkiwilliams.

Jean MacDonald is one of the most connected people anywhere. She's also a speaker and author. www.jeanconnects.com.

Jean MacDonald is one of the most connected people in Chicago – or anywhere else. She’s also a successful speaker and author of two books. http://www.jeanconnects.com.

I don't want to forget about James Wesley Jackson "The Enviromedian". I produced his new DVD and he's a wonderful person to boot. www.jameswesleyjackson.com.

I don’t want to forget about James Wesley Jackson “The Enviromedian”. I produced his hilarious new DVD and he’s a wonderful person to boot. http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com.

Back To Class

January 14, 2014

Monday January 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I can feel the tornado of life spinning, but it’s all good. I’ve got everything I enjoy in life going on right now, and I can see my biggest concern will once again be time management. I am trying to be organized, but time just gets away when I get going on a project and I want to avoid getting too far behind in any one realm. That’s going to be a major challenge, but it’s how things are.

One area I haven’t devoted much energy to in a while are my comedy classes. I really enjoy the whole teaching experience, and I know I’ve got something good there. I have lost count of all the people that I have gone on to become long time friends with that have taken the class. That alone is an excellent reason to keep teaching, but I also love it because it keeps me close to the source.

I become a better performer the more I teach, because I’m focusing on the fundamentals of the craft. I’d do it every day if there were enough outlets, and I’ve got a good position with Zanies in Chicago as their chief instructor. That’s a position I’ve earned over time, but I’m ready for more.

Bill Gorgo and I have been working for several years now at developing our lesson plans, and I love it when we can both teach sessions together. We’ve done writing and performing workshops as well as multiple week classes, and we both agree it’s almost as much fun as performing itself.

There are only a scant few other instructors around America that have established credibility in teaching standup comedy, as it’s a difficult endeavor. There are many I’ve seen that are only in it to score a quick buck, and that has always infuriated me. I’m all about entrepreneurial endeavors, but flat out scamming crosses the line in my opinion. I always give more than a student expects.

Some of the names that have been around for years include Judy Carter and Steve North in Los Angeles, Jeff Justice in Atlanta, Neil Leiberman in San Francisco and Steve Roye who has lived in a lot of places. I’ve met everyone but Jeff, but I hear nothing but good things about his classes.

One person I have spoken to on the phone, interviewed on the radio and been interviewed by is Dave Schwensen. He was out of Cleveland, OH until very recently where he taught workshops at the Cleveland Improv. He is very credible as he was the manager of the Improv both there and in Hollywood, and has written multiple very solid books including “How to Be a Working Comic”.

I never have a problem with anyone teaching who is competent, and there are enough students for everyone. Many students like to compare teachers, and that’s fine too. Not every sports coach reaches every player, and comedy is very similar. I know personally that I have my fans and also my detractors. That’s how it is in any creative endeavor, and we all need to seek out what works.

Dave’s wife is a flight attendant, and he’s in the process of moving to Chicago to teach classes at the Improv in Schaumburg. We talked on the phone yesterday, and agreed this could be great for everyone – especially students. We’ll both offer high quality classes and raise the bar higher.

Dave is very credible, and has been around a long time. He’s also an excellent marketer, and I know I’ll learn from him in that department. Competition is good, but we’re really not competing head to head. He has his strengths and I have mine. Students win. http://www.thecomedybook.com.

A new session of standup comedy classes will be starting at the legendary Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on Sunday February 9th, 2014 at 3pm. For signup information, go to www.zanies.com.

A new session of standup comedy classes will be starting at the legendary Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on Sunday February 9th, 2014 at 3pm. For signup information, go to http://www.zanies.com.

Bill Gorgo will be teaching that session, and he's both an excellent teacher and wonderful person.

Bill Gorgo will be teaching that session, and he’s both an excellent teacher and wonderful person.

Dave Schwensen has been teaching classes for years at the Cleveland Improv. He's moving to Chicago to teach at the Improv in Schaumburg. Good for him. It will be great for the students, and raise the bar for all of us. Welcome Dave. His books are excellent. www.thecomedybook.com.

Dave Schwensen has been teaching classes for years at the Cleveland Improv. He’s moving to Chicago to teach at the Improv in Schaumburg. Good for him. It will be great for the students, and raise the bar for all of us. Welcome Dave. His books are excellent. http://www.thecomedybook.com.

Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter

January 14, 2014

Sunday January 12th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’ve been busy like a worker bee getting my new and improved monthly email newsletter ready to send out, and learned today it’s not going to be completely ready by tomorrow which had been the original target deadline date. I’m not disappointed at all, and in fact I’m feeling really good.

The advantage I had going in is that NOBODY is expecting it, and it won’t upset anybody. The only ones that knew the deadline even existed were my pit crew Eric and me. We have both done our jobs like we said we would, and it’s almost ready to go. We fully expected to have glitches.

I’m working on the content side, and Eric is dealing with the nuts and bolts of getting all of the technical aspects handled. He set up an account on a website that will let us send it to up to 2500 people, and we’ve both been working on sorting the email address list into distinct categories.

This is going to be a huge project, and a continuous work in progress. We’re both up for it and know what it entails – or at least we think we do. There will constantly be names being added to the list, and others will fall off. We hope to be able to grow each month but we need to start first.

Eric has about 1500-2000 email addresses to load into the system, but that total is deceiving. A significant number will probably bounce back, as I haven’t contacted them for a while. Many of the others are personal friends or other performers. It’s nice to say hello every month, but they’re not going to book me. I know that going in, and I’m not getting cocky about having a large list.

The long term plan is to collect fans everywhere I go, and keep them aware of when I might be back. There are places like the three Zanies Comedy Clubs in the Chicago area or Donnie B’s in Springfield, IL and several others where I perform regularly. I want to become a legitimate draw.

99.999% of comedians would not have dreamed of doing this years ago, but this isn’t years ago and I’m not a comedian anymore – at least not in my marketing strategy. I’m a HUMORIST, and humorists get paid a whole lot more to basically do what a comedian does. It’s about perception.

Humorists also have a ton of products for sale. Dave Barry has a library of books, as do people like Lewis Grizzard, Erma Bombeck, Al Franken and several others. George Carlin wrote books toward the end of his career, and Woody Allen wrote them at the beginning. I need at least one.

Building a list is the smart way to go, and worth all the time and effort we’re investing now as we breathe life into it from absolute zero. I went over to Eric’s house tonight and we plugged the content I wrote into the template we chose, and of course there were glitches with the actual text.

It didn’t line up correctly, and wasn’t pleasant to look at. It had poor eye appeal. It had nothing to do with content, but we still have to deal with it. Eric will figure it out, and that’s why we’re a team. I am not good with those types of things and I know it. He’ll get it fixed and we’ll send it.

But that’s just the beginning. We’ll need to keep cranking it out month after month to more and more people and that will go on perpetually. I’m calling it “Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter” after the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. If you’d like to get it, send your email address.

'Humorists' are revered and get paid big bucks. 'Comedians' tell dirty jokes in saloons. That's the perception - at least with those who pay to hire performers. I'm a humorist, thank you.

‘Humorists’ are revered and get paid big bucks. ‘Comedians’ tell dirty jokes in saloons. That’s the perception – at least with those who pay to hire performers. I’m a humorist, thank you.

My monthly "Maxwell's Silver Humor Newsletter" is about ready to launch.  If you want to receive it, send me your email address.

My monthly “Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter” is about ready to launch. If you want to receive it, send me your email address.

Supposedly, women like a man with a sense of humor. I wonder if she thinks I'm funny?

Supposedly, women like a man with a sense of humor. I wonder if she thinks I’m funny?

Close For Comfort

January 12, 2014

Saturday January 11th, 2014 – Wauconda, IL/Island Lake, IL

One of the sweetest treats any long time entertainer can experience is having a booking close to home. The longer the time in the business, the more the closeness to home is greatly appreciated. The road gets old and unforgiving after time, and the excitement of seeing new scenery expires.

There comes a point when we’ve been everywhere, seen everything and all we want is to have a “normal” life – whatever that may be. What it isn’t is being constantly in transit trying to arrive on time for the next show. It is constantly looming over one’s head, and I for one am SO over it.

Tonight – for one of just a handful of times I can ever remember – I had a show literally down the road from where I live. Wow! I was ecstatic beyond words. I’ve worked this place before, but I lived in a different place then. It was still close, but not like this. This one was a stone’s throw.

The venue is a place called The Energee Center in Wauconda, IL. Sally Edwards is a comedian that started booking shows there because she and her husband moved there and saw there was no comedy anywhere close by. It’s a small room, but audiences are friendly and it’s very laid back.

The pay to close the show is comparable with most one nighters on the road, so they can get an excellent quality of acts to work there. It’s in the Chicago area, and like me there are a lot of acts that are less than thrilled with going on the road to make basically the same money. Actually, it’s less after gas and food are subtracted from the total. Working in Wauconda does have its upside.

It has a huge upside for me, as I’m staying in Island Lake which is the next town over. It was a two minute drive to get to work tonight, and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I would be thrilled if I could do that more often, and I totally see the appeal of a Las Vegas or Branson, MO for that exact reason. If an entertainer can get the audiences to come to them, life is but a dream.

The show tonight was a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t have been upset even if it wasn’t. As long as I didn’t have to drive far, a room full of screaming drunken hecklers wouldn’t have caused me to flinch one bit. I was paid immediately upon getting off stage, and that’s the cherry on the sundae.

Trevor Burke’s dad Joe brought Trevor out to do a set, and then they’re going to fly out to Los Angeles tomorrow to talk to a production company about a reality show for Trevor. Good for the both of them. Whether they get it or not doesn’t matter. The fact they’ve got a meeting is terrific.

The feature act tonight was Mike Maxwell – obviously no relation. Mike is an up and comer on the Chicago scene, and I like the guy a lot. Having two guys named Maxwell on a show is a good gimmick I guess, but I’d work with him anytime. He brought a lot of his family out, and that was a large percentage of the crowd tonight. It was a slow night for many reasons and we needed it.

Things are just really going well right now, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. The situation with my roommate Sheri is still very sad, but that’s getting better too. They’ve moved her to one of the best treatment facilities in the country, and she’s beginning a long process of recovery that may take up to a year. Her friend Debra told me they want to try and keep the house, and it might entail having me and another person stay here to pay expenses. If that would help Sheri, I’m in.

Wauconda, IL - comedy hotbed? No, but there's a fun one nighter once a month at The Energee Center. www.energeecenter.com.

Wauconda, IL – comedy hotbed? No, but there’s a fun one nighter once a month at The Energee Center. http://www.energeecenter.com.

I worked with 12 year old comedian Trevor Burke for the second time this week. The kid is getting more work than I am - and he deserves it. Funny kid. www.trevorburke.com.

I worked with 12 year old comedian Trevor Burke for the second time this week. The kid is getting more work than I am – and he deserves it. Funny kid. http://www.trevorburke.com.

Mike Maxwell (no relation) was also on the show. It was "an evening with a couple of Maxwells". As always, it was a lot of fun. www.mikemaxwell.org

Mike Maxwell (no relation) was also on the show. It was “an evening with a couple of Maxwells”. As always, it was a lot of fun. http://www.mikemaxwell.org

Peer Pleasure

January 12, 2014

Friday January 10th, 2014 – Frankfort, IL

It’s no secret that if anyone wants to change their results they must first change their method of doing things. That’s been my entire life mission of late, and boy is it working – and well. I feel a dramatic and dynamic change coming over me, and I really like it. It’s what I’ve always wanted.

I am making correct decisions the vast majority of the time these days, and tonight was a prime example. I originally had a comedy show booked near Rockford, IL, but the show was cancelled due to icy roads and bad weather. Actually they said it was ‘postponed’, but I’m still out money.

Whether it ever gets rescheduled is debatable, but that’s not the point. I had a sudden night off, and I had a choice to make. Do I stay home and mope around, or do I get in the car and go out to visit someone in the Chicago area? I’m normally not a social butterfly at all, especially in sloppy weather. I could have easily stayed home and done el-zilcho, but I felt I needed to take action.

I saw a mention online that Jimmie Walker of ‘Good Times’ was performing tonight at CD & ME in Frankfort, IL along with my friend Todd Link. Todd opens for Jimmie regularly, and it’s a great gig for him. I hadn’t seen him in a while so even though it was almost 100 miles one way, I got in the car and started driving in the sleet. Something told me that was the correct destination.

The roads weren’t horrible, but they were a bit of a concern. I slid around on the ice a little, but nothing that would make me turn around and go home. I’ve driven in winter conditions my entire life so it’s no big deal. I’d made up my mind I was going to go, and that was it. I was committed.

The show started at 8, and I arrived around 9. Jimmie was already on stage, but I saw Todd and comedian Ken Sevara who books the club. They reacted like the Pope had just arrived, and that’s extremely flattering. It’s great to feel welcomed, and I was. That alone made the drive worth it.

I work maybe once a year at CD & ME, and I’ll be there again January 24th. The staff there has always treated me like royalty, and they did again tonight. One of the owners Dean came over to shake my hand immediately, and that doesn’t happen often with club owners. It really felt good.

The vibe in there was wonderful, and had I decided on staying home I’d have missed it all. I’m glad I made the choice to go, and I enjoyed every minute of it. These are the kinds of evenings to remember, and years from now nobody will ever remember that I didn’t perform or that I had to drive in less than ideal conditions. There were a lot of reasons to say no, but I’m glad I said yes.

Another person who decided to come and hang out for the night was Ken Stevens, owner of the comedy club ‘Riddles’. He and Ken Sevara are long time friends, and he has also booked Jimmie several times as well. He has had some severe health issues of late himself and is fighting cancer. He spent a lot of time in the hospital, and by all accounts went through some very rough patches.

I hadn’t seen Ken in a while, but other than dropping some weight he looked and sounded very good. I told him how much we were all rooting for him as we followed updates on Facebook that his sister made during his ordeal. It was inspirational to hear of how he got through it, and I have not had the chance to see him in person to tell him. That was another reason I was glad I came.

One of the true treats of the standup comedy experience is getting a chance to hang with other comedians after the show. Most of us live for it, and other than the shows themselves it’s one of the highlights of our entire lives. Anyone who has been a full time road warrior has memories of sitting in a diner with other comics until the wee hours of the morning making each other laugh.

It’s a much higher and purer level than even the shows themselves, as we are the best audience of anyone. We’re all in the same boat and have a lot of shared experiences and common points of reference already in place that don’t need to be explained. Laughter between comedians is really sweet, and very often getting them to laugh means more than getting laughs from paid audiences.

After the show tonight we got a chance to hang out in the club after everyone left, and it was an absolutely delightful experience. Jimmie, Ken Sevara, Ken’s wife Lori, Todd, Ken Stevens, club owner Dean and I all sat around a big round table and experienced the magic of why we do this.

Everyone at that table was in or around the business, and the stories started flying and laughter was coming from all directions. That particular group dynamic was absolutely perfect, and I saw that everyone was enjoying every second. Times like this just don’t happen as often as they used to, and we all knew it. We could all let our guards down, and be ourselves. Everyone enjoyed it.

I have nothing but respect for everyone at that table. I’ve known them all for years, and they’ve paid their dues and then some. Ken Sevara and Lori lived in Los Angeles in the ‘70s, and were in the boom years of comedy out there. They knew Jimmie from those days, and I have nothing but respect for him as well. That guy is a true road warrior, and continues to work after all this time.

He said that he has been on TV every single day somewhere for 45 years, and that’s impressive to the point of awe. Even more impressive is that he still works at the craft of standup comedy. It isn’t easy, but he still adds new material and works at it when he could easily just phone it all in.

Todd Link is another guy I respect very much. We met in Salt Lake City when I lived there and bonded instantly because we’re both huge sports fans to the point of obsession. He knows former NBA player Tom Tolbert pretty well, and we’ve just always stayed in contact. He’s a funny guy, and we’d love to eventually start a group of comedians that love sports and focus on that market.

Todd is based out of Nashville, where he takes care of his father who needs his help. That takes a lot of time and effort, and I commend Todd for making that difficult choice. It’s never the easy road to be selfless and care for someone else before one’s own needs, but Todd does exactly that. These are life decisions far more than just career ones, and we all have to make them at times.

Sitting at that table made me extremely proud to have spent my life in service of others making strangers laugh, and I felt completely at home in everyone’s company. Not only that, I savored it because I knew all the sacrifices everyone else had made to be there as well. The audience saw a fantastic show on stage from Jimmie, Todd and Ken, but there was an even better one afterward.

I’m going to be performing at CD & ME in two weeks with my friend Jimmy McHugh. That’s another long time comedy road warrior I love as a friend and respect greatly as an act. If you can, come see us. http://www.cdandme.com. I made a fantastic choice tonight. I am finally smartening up.

As a comedian, hanging out with other comedians after the show is almost as much fun as being on stage. Tonight I got a chance to hang out at CD & ME in Frankfort, IL. I'll be headlining there on Janary 24th. www.cdandme.com.

As a comedian, hanging out with other comedians after the show is almost as much fun as being on stage. Tonight I got a chance to hang out at CD & ME in Frankfort, IL. I’ll be headlining there on Janary 24th. http://www.cdandme.com.

Jimmie Walker has been on TV every single day for 45 years. How many people can say that?

Jimmie Walker has been on TV every single day for 45 years. How many people can say that? http://www.dynomitejj.com.

My friend Todd Link is a bigger sports fanatic than I am. I didn't think that was possible. He's also a very funny comedian. www.jokertodd.com.

My friend Todd Link is a bigger sports fanatic than I am. I didn’t think that was possible. He’s also a very funny comedian. http://www.jokertodd.com.

Ken Sevara has his own talk show on AM 560 WIND called 'Fly By Night'. www.kensevara.com.

Ken Sevara has his own talk show on AM 560 WIND called ‘Fly By Night’. http://www.kensevara.com.