The Unforgiving Wheel

Saturday February 22nd, 2014 – Mattoon, IL

Here’s how the unforgiving wheel of show business fortune spins. I’ve been slugging it out for decades in beer halls, road houses and snake pits hoping to find a break somewhere to get me out of the trenches. I’ve honed my craft about as well as anyone in that time, yet I’m still struggling.

Trevor Burke is a twelve year old comedy super sensation, and opportunities are falling out of the sky. He’s got more movie credits than most adults ever get in a lifetime, and today he was in New York recording an appearance on ‘America’s Got Talent’. Is life fair? What do you think?

It’s not that I begrudge Trevor anything. Far from it. I’m thrilled for his opportunity, and hope it goes well. Even if it doesn’t, he’s still got a heavy hitting credit to use for anything else he ever does for the next twenty years. That’s what the business of show business is about – credibility.

Trevor has as much or more credibility with people that don’t know him as I do, and I’ve been doing it more than twice as long as he’s drawn breath on this planet. There’s a major flaw there, and it’s not Trevor. I have caught some bad breaks, but I also made some bad choices. I’m where I am as a result of all of it, and this is just a not so subtle reminder that I’ve misplayed my hand.

While Trevor was being flown – probably first class – to New York City to appear on national television before he’s even old enough to drive a car by himself, I drove 257 miles one way in a 1995 Toyota Camry to do a show at a Days Inn banquet room in Mattoon, IL for their Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner. What I was paid was probably less than Trevor’s airplane ticket.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a rip roaring show in Mattoon, and the people were very friendly all night. These were the movers and shakers of the community and certainly weren’t rubes or hicks. They were down to earth friendly people, and they loved the show. I have no complaints there.

What’s gnawing at me to the inner core of my soul is how much of this entire business is based on anything but logic, and there’s nothing I can do about it. With all of my hopes, dreams, talent and execution, all I could manage after all these years is a banquet at a Day’s Inn in Mattoon, IL for mediocre pay. Was it fun? Yes, but it’s far from a career move. It’s more like a steady hobby.

I was blessed with above average raw ability, but below average raw people skills. I tend to be way too open with my disdain toward idiots, bullies and especially incompetence, but this racket is full of all of that even more than civilian life. It’s taken all this time to figure out the hierarchy.

I’ve been improving tremendously, and I notice a definite uptick in my business and life itself. I’ve been surrounding myself with solid people on purpose, and weeding out weenies whenever I can. The formula has proven to be effective and I see dynamic results – but it has taken decades.

I sure didn’t have anything figured out when I was 12. I would have been thrilled with this kind of a break after I’d been in the business for 12 years, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Trevor’s hand is loaded, and I’m happy for him and his family. He is a special kid, and I know he will make the best of all this. He’s well grounded by his parents. I just think it would be nice if I get some kind of break too sooner than later. Nothing against Mattoon, IL, but it’s not where my rainbow ends.

I did a show in Mattoon, IL tonight for a room full of very nice people.

I did a show in Mattoon, IL tonight for a room full of very nice people.

Trevor Burke is 12 years old, and he was taping an appearance on 'America's Got Talent'. Good for him,  but it makes me wonder what I've been doing these last 25 years. I hope Trevor lets me drive his limo.

Trevor Burke is 12 years old, and he was taping an appearance on ‘America’s Got Talent’. Good for him, but it makes me wonder what I’ve been doing these last 25 years. I hope Trevor lets me drive his limo someday soon.

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