Archive for March, 2014

Defining Crazy

March 31, 2014

Sunday March 30th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL

With all the hands on experience I have had wading through depression funks over a lifetime, I can always count on one thing on the other end – an extreme burst of creativity. It’s a lot like the shot in the arm Popeye gets when he eats his spinach. I have the same experience, and it’s great.

Is this proof positive I am a bipolar wackadoo? Maybe and in fact more than probably, but I’ve never denied I have a delicate balance in my psyche. Some may call it being a total kook, but I’m a creative type and all creative types have that certain degree of crazy. It goes with the territory.

There are also many definitions of “crazy”. Sometimes that word is used to describe those that think unconventionally and try new ideas. Edison and Einstein had it used on them I’m sure, and if they’re the standards of what the word means – sign me up. Crazy isn’t always a bad thing.

Then there are the Hitlers and Saddam Husseins of the world. That’s the dark side of the word, along with the Jim Joneses, Jeffrey Dahmers and so many more that I don’t even want to glorify with a mention. I think crazy is nowhere near strong enough to describe these insidious beasts.

I think it’s a waste of time to attempt to diagnose the problem. The fact is it’s there and I have been dealing with it for a lot of years. Medication scares the hell out of me, and I’ve spoken with more than one doctor about it through the years. People were nuts long before medicine arrived.

The only practical solution I see is to just keep working through it. Diet and exercise are a part of the program, and I’m the first to admit I haven’t been keeping up with that like I know I need to. I’ve had all I can handle to keep my bills paid, and I put all my focus into my work as of late.

Maybe that’s part of the reason for my recent dip, or maybe it was the places I worked that had small crowds and poor circumstances. Whatever the reason or combo platter thereof, I was really low for a while there, and when I get like that nothing matters. I get lost in a vacuous black hole.

I feel like I’m unplugged from the universe, and on the outside looking in. What I need to keep in mind when it happens again – and I don’t doubt it will – is that there is a creative surge on the other side if I can only wait it out. I should know that by now, but this last time I simply forgot.

Admittedly it had been a while since I slid through this nasty mud, but I’ve been there enough to have an idea of what to expect before, during and after. How shortsighted of me to forget the best part, but that’s how deep the darkness can feel sometimes. I’m feeling much better now, and all that really interests me is Uranus. I know in my deepest heart that’s the direction I need to go.

I don’t know how I know that, but I totally do and I’m going to follow my gut no matter what happens. I had dinner with my pit crew Eric Feinendegen tonight to talk about getting corporate type bookings, and even he’s on board. It’s the right time and the right place, and I feel it in my bones like nothing I have ever felt before. I may have to do some other things to survive while we get things going, but I’ve been doing that all along. This IS crazy – but in the positive way.

Was Einstein crazy? I'm sure he was called that. If that's the definition, sign me up.

Was Einstein crazy? I’m sure he was called that often and by many. If that’s the definition, sign me up.

Call me crazy, but I'm risking my entire future on Uranus.

Call me crazy, but I’m risking my entire future on Uranus.


Badger Battle

March 31, 2014

Saturday March 29th, 2014 – Wilton, WI

Whenever the topic of comedic timing comes up, it loses the majority of those involved in the conversation as it’s an intangible entity. As a rule one either has it or they don’t, and there isn’t a thing they can do about it if they don’t. It’s like singing. If one doesn’t have it, it’s a lost cause.

This is a different subject for a different day. Today I had an example of comic timing that was completely different. I wish I’d recorded the show so others could learn from it, and it was so out of the ordinary that I think I could have learned from it myself. Situations like this are quite rare.

My show tonight was at a sports bar in Wilton, WI. I am a cheese head by birth, and I must say that before I booked this show I had never heard of Wilton. For those that may care, it’s between Elroy and Sparta along the famous bike trail. The population is 542, and there are no stop lights.

The ‘downtown’ consists of four bars, a post office and a Hardware Hank. There were a couple of other buildings that looked like they could be shops of some sort, but I couldn’t tell if they had gone out of business or not so I won’t count them. This town makes Mayberry look like Chicago.

A truck driver named Jeff and his wife bought and remodeled the bar, and did a spectacular job from the ground up. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in, and the joint was jumping. Too bad the reason it was jumping was because the Wisconsin Badgers basketball game was on TV.

This is the timing I’m talking about. What are the chances a basketball game would have even a minor affect on a comedy show – in Wisconsin no less? This isn’t a state known for basketball, but on this night it was all anyone could talk about. Like it or not, that was the headliner tonight.

Both Jeff and his wife are not only nice people, they’re very sharp at business. I talked to them before the show, and told them we needed to call an audible. Both the game and comedy shared a scheduled starting time of 8pm, and unfortunately comedy was going to lose. The question now was whether to try and squeeze the show in before the game ended, or wait until it was finished.

I would have been fine with waiting until the game was over, but I’m not sure if the customers would have wanted to stay around – especially if the Badgers lost. Either way, I was going to be the one in the trick bag tonight so it really didn’t matter. I wanted to insure the bar made a profit.

We ended up starting about 8:15, and things were fine. There was a separate stage area that was away from the TVs, and the people wanted to see the show. The opening act did a fine job for the circumstances, and then I got on and started strong. I almost thought I had a chance to pull it off.

Then the game got interesting, and the people yelling at the bar became a distraction. I couldn’t avoid it, so I had them give updates from the bar. I started and stopped bits, and it was absolutely maddening after a while. Then to make it worse the game went into overtime, so I told the crowd I’d leave stage and we’d all watch the game. When it was over I’d finish my show. The Badgers did win, and I went back up and finished my set. It took the skill set of a Ninja, but I pulled it off.

I was cheering for my home state Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA tournament - just not when I was scheduled to perform.

I was cheering for my home state Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA tournament – just not when I was scheduled to perform.

It required the skill level of a Ninja to pull off a show tonight - but I did it. THAT'S timing.

It required the skill level of a Ninja to pull off a show tonight – but I did it.

Afternoon Delight And Three Dog Night

March 31, 2014

Friday March 28th, 2014 – Arlington Heights, IL/St. Charles, IL

Today was yet another jam packed super busy day, but all of it was good. In the early afternoon I was asked to give a speech to a team of website telephone consultants that constantly face a lot of rejection in their job. Lucky them, as I can’t think of anyone with as much experience to speak on that subject as me. If there was ever a match made in heaven for me to be an expert, this is it.

There were about thirty people, and it was their quarterly meeting. Most were probably in their 20s or early 30s, and I’d guess there were a few more females than males. I had several weeks to prepare, and I worked very hard on coming up with things to talk about that would be of interest.

For some reason, ‘regular people’ seem to be fascinated with what it’s like to be an entertainer. I guess I don’t think about it that way because I have done it so long, but it has been pointed out to me over and over recently that I have a unique perspective that business clients want to hear.

I’m delighted to share my stories, and I have plenty to go around. I have had interaction with a lot of celebrities through the years, and that never hurts. People love hearing storied about them, and on top of that mine have points. And if it’s rejection they want to know about, I can speak on that subject with just about anyone still able to walk the planet. I’ve earned my master’s degree.

I spoke for about twenty minutes, and I put everything I had into it. I’m still learning how to be a speaker rather than a comedian, and there is a different pace involved. There are also important message points that need to be included, and I’m working on smoothing it all out into a package I can sell over and over just like my act. It will take more work, but today was a very solid effort.

The person that asked me to speak is my friend Vince Carone. He took my comedy class years ago when he was still a teenager, and has really done well. He now closes shows all over and has an unbelievably sharp business head to go along with a tremendous work ethic. I’m proud of him as a student, but he’s an even better person. People like him are why I keep teaching the classes.

Vince knows the owner of the company, and thought I’d be able to add to the mix while having a chance to practice my speech for a live audience. That’s exactly what happened, and it worked out splendidly. It was win/win, and I could tell it was a hit. This was totally worth all our whiles.

Immediately after finishing there, I drove to Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL to meet up with Mike Preston. He was scheduled to have an interview with Jimmy Greenspoon, keyboardist for the band Three Dog Night. Mike frequently calls when he does interviews like this as comics know how to act around celebrity types. Jimmy McHugh and I are usually his first two choices.

Jimmy and I were both available today, and we each ran a camera as Mike interviewed Jimmy Greenspoon – who happens to be a fascinating character. He grew up in Beverly Hills, and he is the son of a silent film star. He told us some fascinating stories, and then we got to see the show at the Arcada Theatre just down the street. I have always wanted to see them live, and it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Those guys are total pros – the band and Mike and Jimmy.

Vince Carone got me a speaking gig this afternoon. Thanks Vince! He's also a very accomplished comedian in his own right and just recorded a brand new CD.

Vince Carone got me a corporate speaking gig this afternoon. Thanks Vince! He’s also a very accomplished comedian in his own right and just recorded a brand new comedy CD.

It was a thrill to meet Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, and see their show as well.

It was a thrill to meet Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, and see their show as well.

The Daily Grind

March 29, 2014

Thursday March 27th, 2014 – Mystery Location

Here is a perfect example of why I can’t stand the booking aspect of being an entertainer. I will keep names and locations out of it, only because if word got out with who I am talking about the fallout shrapnel could be devastating. It’s not worth the risk, but I do want to get the point across.

I received a call on Monday asking if I’d be open for a booking tonight in a town roughly three hours from where I live. I won’t say the name of the town or even what state it’s in, but location isn’t the issue at hand. I just want to point out how maddening this business can be – and often is.

I was open and told the person booking the show that I was. I know and like this person, who until now has always been exclusively a performer. Like many of us, this person is branching out to attempt to make more money, and I never fault anyone for that. There are no issues from me.

The booker had sold me to a group for a private function in a hotel – or that’s how it appeared. I got about six emails telling me it was off, then it was on, then it was off again. Then it maybe was going to happen. Then when I wrote it off that it wouldn’t happen. Then I got confirmation.

That’s frustrating enough, but then I was told I was to call the person in charge to get specific instructions of what they wanted me to do and what I couldn’t do. That’s never pleasant, but it’s often a part of the deal in private situations like this. I tried calling four times, but of course was not able to reach him. I left word with his secretary, and also sent an email. What else can I do?

The guy met me when I got to the hotel, and told me they were eating dinner and he’d get me when they were ready. I sat in the lobby checking my emails for half an hour, and then he came and got me and walked me to the meeting room. He didn’t tell me he was going to introduce me right away, but that’s what he did. And of course he forgot my name and that was embarrassing.

I didn’t get to see the layout beforehand, and I had a very difficult scenario. The microphone’s cord was about six feet, and attached to a podium. The podium was off center, and not even near where the lighting was. I was trapped like a Doberman on a short leash, and had to make it work.

What made it even harder was that they were a tight audience. They weren’t mean or dumb or anything negative – but they were very tight. Whatever went on before me obviously wasn’t any comedy, and I had to start from scratch and get them not only to pay attention but then to laugh.

I challenge anyone of any skill level to try and pull laughs out of a group like that. Most were older than me, but a few younger ones were sprinkled in. There were probably 200 more or less, and they had just eaten a big sloppy meal of red meat with gravy and a heavy dessert. That made my job even harder, and I had all I could do to pull off 45 minutes. Oh, and it had to be clean too.

There was no check so I had to wait as the treasurer wrote one. Did I happen to mention the TV was on the entire time? I almost wish they had said no – but I so need the money. This is just one night. Try doing it for a living. I never signed up for any of this. Want easy money? It isn’t here.

Just like a dung beetle, I get out there every day and push my wet sloppy ball across the desert.

Just like a dung beetle, I get out there every day and push my wet sloppy ball across the treacherous desert. It’s anything but easy.

Want Easy Money? You won't find it as an entertainer - at least not at first. Most never do.

Want Easy Money? You won’t find it as an entertainer – at least not at first. Most never do. It’s a daily grind.

Note how hard work and easy money are two different directions?

Note how hard work and easy money are two different directions. That’s 100% accurate.

Booking Day Backslide

March 29, 2014

Wednesday March 26th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It’s one more Wednesday – aka Hump Day – aka Booking Day. Whatever kind of slick or pithy moniker I might decide to attach to it, the fact remains I’m still falling short of what I need to do. No matter how I try to trick myself, I still find ways to blow off what I know needs to get done.

The bottom line is if I don’t get bookings, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, I don’t eat. If that isn’t a motivator, I don’t know what is. But for whatever reason, I just can’t bring myself to light a fire under my fanny and really do it right. I’m getting a little better, but it’s not close to enough.

Finding work can be a daunting task, and I don’t know of any act that enjoys it – or any good one anyway. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I can’t think of any that I know personally. Most of my comedy friends loathe it as much or more than I do, and that says a lot. I deeply despise it.

It’s not that it’s particularly difficult physically, it’s just the process I can’t stand. It’s glorified panhandling in a way, and through the years we as performers are conditioned that we aren’t in a position of power and need to take whatever we’re given and shut up. It’s like a giant bread line.

I’m sure the bookers like it this way, because they have the upper hand. If we don’t obey all of their whims, we’re off the list and there are a dozen more hungry slugs standing in line behind us to step in immediately. Until one becomes a draw – which rarely happens – there’s no recourse.

All bookers aren’t felons and scumbags, but you wouldn’t know it by the way more than a few act. Each one has their own set of self imposed rules for us to follow to the letter, and they’re all different. Some want us to call by phone, others want us to email only. Some want us to send our available dates monthly, others quarterly. One I know books his entire club for the year in a day.

That’s the way he chooses to do it, and it’s his club so who can say what’s right or wrong? I’ve known the guy for years and I happen to really like him – but I have never once been booked for a week of work because I wasn’t able to get through on “the day”. It’s like a big radio contest or something. The 748th caller gets a week of work next October. But that’s how that guy handles it.

I’m in a precarious position of not being a draw, and I admit it. That’s not a good position to be in bargaining wise, but that’s where 99.999% of us are on any level of the business at any time. It took blood and sweat to fight my way through the herd, but now I’m a solid headliner. Bookers I work for know that, and there have been enough that kept hiring me so I’ve been able to survive.

The trick is to get my name out – in a positive way – with every single living human that might ever be able to hire me to perform at any event on the planet. That ramps it up a bit from just the tiny circle that handles the comedy club business – and I haven’t even gotten to all of those yet.

There’s just no excuse for this, and the more I think about it the more angry and frustrated I get at myself. This should have been a priority decades ago, but it never was. I’ve always had plenty of work because of the times and because I was a strong act. Well, the times are now changing.

I’m still a solid act, and in fact I’m getting better all the time. Even the people that can’t stand me personally all admit that I am good at what I do, and there’s a hollow satisfaction that comes with it. “Yes, he’s funny – but I will NEVER use him.” Does that do either of us any good? No, but it happens to more acts than just me. It’s political, and another reason I don’t enjoy any of it.

I’ve tried to tell myself how important this process is – and it really is – but I just can’t seem to get myself in the habit of taking at the bare minimum ONE day a week and focus on it for maybe two or three hours. I’ve done it a couple of times, but then I get tired of it again and that’s wrong.

It’s kind of like trying to get a dog to swallow a pill. I’ve seen people try to hide it in the dog’s food, but it never works. The dog scarfs down the food, and sure enough right there at the bottom of the bowl is the unswallowed pill. I’m taking the dog’s role here, and I’m only hurting myself.

It’s completely to my benefit to be known from coast to coast by anyone and everyone that can possibly use me for any projects whatsoever that pay money. I’ve been (stupidly) limiting myself to standup comedy work the majority of the past three decades, and that couldn’t be more idiotic.

There are innumerable ways to make money with the skill sets I have now, but until I properly get word out – and keep it out – to all those that could potentially hire me it’s a case of ripe crops rotting on the vine. This needs to be THE single biggest ongoing P.R. campaign I’ve ever done.

A big positive has been the addition of a monthly newsletter. That goes to several bookers that I know and like, and I have already gotten a couple of small bookings from it. The matter of just keeping my name fresh in their head is what did it, and it’s solid proof that it is worth my while.

We’ve only done three so far, but each one is getting smoother and better. That will continue to grow, but I still have to get myself to swallow the pill and take care of my comedy bookings on a much more regular basis. What makes it an even harder sell is that I’m trying to evolve from that level and graduate to more corporate and speaking work. That’s fine, but I still need to maintain.

For at least the next little while – say two to three years – I’ll be young enough where I can get work in both comedy clubs and corporate or business type settings. Eventually I’ll be too old for the clubs, and I can see that coming now. That’s something everyone faces eventually, but if I’m smart I’ll be able to milk as much money out of it as I can until geezerhood wins. It always does.

There are many places I’ve never worked, and there’s really no reason for it other than I’ve had plenty of other work and never needed to. Denver is an example. I love the city, but just have not made it a point to look for work there. It wouldn’t take much to get the lay of the land, and I will.

Other bigger cities like Boston or Toronto or Houston should be on my radar too. I used to love working in Houston, but the club I worked for closed a few years ago. I never sought out another even though I loved the town. That’s on me to go back and start looking again. I know on paper I should be doing it, but will I get it done? That’s what scares me, but at least I admit it’s a fault.

I've never enjoyed the booking process, even though it's a necessary evil of being an entertainer. To me, it's glorified panhandling.

I’ve never enjoyed the booking process, even though it’s a necessary evil of being an entertainer. To me, it’s glorified panhandling.

There can be a telemarketer aspect to it too to make it extra annoying. I'm not going to lie, I have NEVER enjoyed it.

There can be a telemarketer aspect to it too to make it extra annoying. I’m not going to lie, I’ve NEVER enjoyed it.

Be Good

March 26, 2014

Tuesday March 25th 2014 – Island Lake, IL

OK, enough with the downers already. I don’t want to dwell on it all the time, but when I get in a rut it feels overwhelming. I’m just being honest with how I feel. It makes me laugh when I hear “Hey, a lot of other people are hurting too. Be thankful for what you have and shut your mouth.”

I get the message, but it’s not that easy. I never thought I was the only one with problems, and I still don’t. I realize all of us struggle at some point with something, but it’s still laughable to hear people haul out the “other people are hurting too” angle. Sorry, but that doesn’t help in the least.

What if I walked up out of nowhere to randomly kick someone square in the crotch with a steel toed work boot? Then, as they’re writhing in pain on the ground I hover over them and say “Hey, quit your sniveling. A lot of other people are in pain too.” Yes it’s a fact, but how does that help?

Another fact is, life is unbelievably hard. It’s harder for some than others, but at some point we all feel as if we’ve just taken a steel toed work boot to the crotch. What determines our character is what we do after it happens. It’s easy to drop out of the game and make excuses, but that’s not how to win. The real winners in life dust themselves off and keep going – and that’s even harder.

My individual personality – or maybe it’s just ego in disguise – is not about to let me bow out now. For whatever reason, I have always been attracted to the biggest challenges in any field of endeavor, and I’m not satisfied unless I win at the very highest level. That’s just the way I think.

Nobody cares that anyone is hurting, and I get that as well. My grandpa used to say “The world doesn’t care about labor pains – they only want to see the baby.” I don’t have a baby to show and that puts me in a precarious position. I won’t be happy until I do, and that’s why I’m frustrated.

I feel like I have so much to give, but most of it is still inside. If I didn’t have to keep worrying about bills every month I could devote more to what I feel I was born to do. Driving 500 miles to entertain 14 people in a sports bar on a Thursday night isn’t it. Time to aim far higher – but how?

I really don’t have a clue. It sure would be nice to get a subsidy from somewhere, but I have no idea how to look for that either. Are there any available grants for artists? Were there ever any to be had in the first place? Am I an artist at all, or just some delusional lunatic with a pipe dream?

I guess it all remains to be seen, but one thing I know I need to do is press on. Even though it’s not comfortable, and even though right now I don’t feel like it in the least – that’s the right call. I have more than a little experience in being in this position before, so it’s not like it’s new ground.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m going to get back out there and start making calls and sending out avails and start the whole process over. It’s the last thing I want to do, but the first thing I am going to do because that’s how a winner would react. I’m in the depths of the dumpster, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay there forever. Three months ago I was riding high. Who says I can’t be even higher three months from now? Or, I could be dead. In this life, there are no guarantees.

After thinking and rethinking about all of this to the point of exhaustion, I have concluded that there are only three things that truly matter – pleasing one’s self, doing one’s best every day and showing kindness to as many others as possible. That’s it. Everything else is meaningless fluff.

That’s a simple formula, but “simple” should never be confused with “easy”. The Golden Rule is very simple, but how many fail to practice that? How much more could things be broken down so even the biggest of idiots can grasp the concept? How about just two little words? “Be good.”

Shouldn’t that be the main goal for us all? I know it is for me and always has been, and even if I blow it – which I often do – it’s always the point of reboot. Being good starts with surrounding one’s self with good people and I’ve been a collector of those for years. I’ve compiled a fine lot.

Several have reached out in the last few days, and I was delighted to hear from them all. One of many tendencies I could improve greatly upon is reaching out when I’m at a sticking point rather than holing up like a gopher, but I have a hard time bothering friends. They have their own lives.

Dave Metcalfe is a comedian friend of mine from Utah, and a very funny guy. We met several years ago when I lived out there, but I had no idea he not only followed my blog regularly but is also a fellow dented can. His story is much more dramatic than mine, and that says a lot. I had no idea I had touched his life at all other than trying to be friendly whenever we would cross paths.

Actually, Dave’s wife wrote and thanked me for being kind to Dave and said he had been a fan of mine for years even though we hadn’t crossed paths in a while. Then Dave wrote himself and reiterated what his wife said. How flattering is it that I could touch someone without realizing it?

Dave is a funny cat, and his story is fascinating. Check him out on You Tube being interviewed by Kevin Nealon at . I would gladly work with him anytime, and I hope we do sooner than later. His reaching out really made me feel appreciated.

Another top of the line human that happens to be loaded with talent is James R. Zingelman aka ‘Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z’. There’s another guy I met years ago that impressed me right away. He’s yet another reader I had no idea I had, and he has made some very kind comments of late.

One recent one that said it all in just a few words was “You’re not alone, Dobie.” Now I could get technical and say with a contraction divided into two words the total word count is five. Why make it an issue either way? The point is he took time to send needed words of encouragement.

My brother Bruce took the time to send some encouraging words too. How surreal is that? It’s taken decades to patch up that relationship, and seeing that was like the first tulip sprouting up at Nagasaki. What a dramatic example of hope for the future it is, and I couldn’t appreciate it more.

I think the world of the Dave Metcalfes and Rusty Zs of the world and so many more that have crossed my path through the years. I thank them for their kindness, and hope I can return it many times over not only to them but to those that can’t return it. Kindness is always worth the effort.

The Golden Rule is apparently not simple enough for some people. How about 'Be good'? Simple enough?

The Golden Rule is apparently not simple enough for some people. How about just ‘Be good’? Is that simple enough?

Dave Metcalfe is a very funny comedian from Utah. Find him on You Tube.

Dave Metcalfe is a very funny comedian (and dented can) from Utah. He’s on You Tube

James R. Zingelman aka Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z is also a big time talent.

James R. Zingelman aka Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z is also a big time talent, not to mention a good soul.

Blah Blah Blah

March 25, 2014

Monday March 24th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I know I’m supposed to be showing inner grit and mental toughness right about now, but one’s lowest point is the hardest time to do that. All the Hallmark cards in the world can’t disguise the fact that I’m in a major funk right now, and all the “hang in theres” there are aren’t helping any.

I’m trying hard to objectively examine what set me off and when, and I’m tracing it back to my birthday weekend in Springfield, IL at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. I love working with Donnie B, but it was a slow weekend in a grubby town and that started it. I knew it was the last little run of a spurt of decent work, and I hoped it would be a busy week of jam packed hot shows. It wasn’t.

I know it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and all that. Blah blah blah. I’ve heard excuses for an entire lifetime, and it just gets old. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere on a hot weekend. It’s either the off season, a holiday or the weather screws us, blah blah blah. I’m sick of hearing it all.

This is the time to exhibit mental toughness, but it’s exactly the most difficult time to remain in a positive mindset. There are times when I feel bullet proof and can walk through walls no matter what obstacles I may be facing. Then there are times when I can be knocked over with a feather.

I’m in one of the feather times right now, and that always scares me. No matter who tries to tell me I have even the slightest hint of self worth, I am not able to see it for the life of me. I just feel pain. The scariest thing of all is I thought I found where the source of the pain was coming from.

I guess it was only a part of it. I’m thrilled I was able to get back in touch with my siblings, but there are still a few other holes to fill apparently. That was beyond huge, but now I’ve got to sort out what I’m going to do to survive physically. It boils down to money, and I’m not making any.

My DNA is wired for me to be a creative entity. Period. Working at a ‘real job’ would send me over the edge in two weeks or less. It always has. I hated every job I ever had in high school, and my father, grandmother and even my beloved Gramps used to get on me about being a lazy bum.

Ha! Far from it. I just never wanted to waste my time counting mufflers at Sears (which I really did for several torturous weeks in high school) or working at a fast food greasery or anything but being an entertainer. I love the process of being on stage or on the air – and that’s what I do best.

If someone would just leave me alone to create, I’ll be fine. Every radio job I’ve had has come to an end because some pinhead in management decides to tweak something that doesn’t need to be tweaked, and I’m out. Comedy is the same way. I’m banned from places by people that never took time to know me personally. They only heard about something I did second and third hand, but that was enough to vaporize me from their venues into perpetuity. Stability is only a dream.

Wait, I take that back. Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago have been one of the very few places that have backed off and let me do my thing. The results? ZERO problems! Gee, who’d a thunk it? I show up, do my job – very well – and go home. No issues. No politics. No hassles. I love it.

The rest of life doesn’t seem to be able to figure that out, and I’m getting sicker of trying by the day. I’ve never thought I was better than anyone, and I still don’t. I realize I’m one of those artsy fartsy creative types, but it’s who I am and I can’t help it. I wasn’t made to manage a Walmart.

I regularly have self righteous pompous crusaders telling me to “stop being so negative in your blog.” Sorry, but I don’t think it’s their business or anyone else’s. I write about what I feel inside, and sometimes that can be all over the place. I’m human with feelings, and I refuse to sugarcoat.

I know not everyone can relate to being a dented can and what kind of pain that brings, but I’m not writing for everyone. I started just writing for me, but over time I have pleasantly discovered I have a loyal audience that do relate to what I’m going through – and it’s exactly why I persist.

I’m not looking for sympathy or a handout. All I want is to find a way to apply the gifts I have been given to do good and bring happiness to people. That may sound corny, but I mean it from the deepest part of my soul. I want to be known for what I gave, but if I can’t manage to hack out a respectable living how can I do anything worth anyone’s while? All I’m asking for is a chance.

Lewis Black reached a point where he thought he would never make it, but then he got a break on Comedy Central and it launched him. I’m to the point he was, and I’m sure he wasn’t feeling any different than I am right now. From where will my break come? If I knew that, I’d be there.

It used to be that going to New York or L.A. was the answer. I’m not up for that right now. It’s a bit late in the game to go to either one of those places and sleep in a car. I’m almost there here. I’ve been beaten up by life so much, I think it’s affecting my judgment. What to do? I just don’t know. People tell me all the time “Hang in there pal, it WILL happen for you.” But it never does.

All I can feel is the pain and loneliness of a lifetime of wandering – hoping to find my place in a world I never asked to be born. I have always been the outsider since my earliest memory, and that role gets old in a big hurry. Sometimes I think I may finally be hitting stride, and then it’s all an illusion and I’m back at where I started. I’m feeling a lot like Wile E. Coyote right about now.

And don’t get me started on dating. I have gone out with several women in the last few months but nothing has clicked and I feel that’s never going to happen either. The women I like most are either married or not interested in me, and the ones that like me don’t happen to float my boat. It would be terrific to find someone special, but I’m having a hard time just trying to survive life.

It’s all intertwined, and right now everything is a mess. Three months ago I felt like a new man ready to slay all dragons. Now I feel like a piece of crusty dragon poo. These extremes are killing me, but I think I picked the wrong profession to expect stability. What do I do now? I am totally at a loss, and have no idea who to ask. Mental toughness sounds great in theory. I can use some.

What else is there to do but keep slugging? I could swallow a bullet, but I’m not looking to do that. I just want to find my audience and work steadily in top level venues I can sell out with fans that are there to see me. A quality woman in my life would sure be helpful too. Blah blah blah.

Mental toughness sounds great in theory, but at one's lowest point is the hardest time to have it.

Mental toughness sounds great in theory, but at one’s lowest point is the hardest time to have it.

Nobody wants to hear about someone else in a slump. Blah blah blah.

Nobody wants to hear about someone else in a slump. Blah blah blah.

I had a blast appearing on the Craig Ferguson Show. I'd love to do it again.

I had a blast appearing on the Craig Ferguson Show. I’d love to do it again.

Here's a potential slump buster. Can someone clone her please?

Here’s a potential slump buster. Can someone clone her please?

Slumped Over

March 25, 2014

Sunday March 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Three months ago, I was riding sky high on top of the world. I was in a groove like I’ve never been in ever before, and life was beyond good. I felt exactly like I had always pictured life to be like in a positive way, and I thought I was finally on my way to where I’ve always wanted to be.

Today, after a couple of rough nights this past week and not a lot of work on the horizon I’m in a big time slump, and I honestly don’t care if I live or die. That’s a pretty big change, and I’m not exactly sure what has happened. Either it’s a normal cycle of life, or I am a crazy bipolar maniac.

At one time I may have bet on the maniac, but I’m not so sure now. I have been satisfied with most of the decisions I have been making in the last couple of years, and it’s not like I’m a slave to booze or drugs or anything like that. For whatever reason, I somehow veered off course again.

I’m not going to lie, I’m really in the dumper right now. I’ve been here plenty of times before, and it’s never fun. I am trying to objectively figure out why I feel this way and/or what has gone on to trigger it and all I can come up with are those two bad shows this week. They scorched me.

Being on stage is by far the only thing that has ever given me any consistent satisfaction in my life. I love to entertain a live audience, and after decades of trial and error I have finally reached a high level of consistency. I know that far more often than not, I’ll be able to get the job done.

In my mind, I see myself working big rooms for big audiences night after night. I know in my heart I can pull it off, as whenever I have found myself in that position I have always been able to deliver at a high level. It excites me to think about it, and after all this time I feel I deserve it.

I guess the cosmos doesn’t agree, as for whatever reason it’s not happening right now. All I am asking for is a payoff for all of my hard work. I sacrificed everything to develop my skill set, and to be in front of 14 people in a sports bar or standing alone on a dance floor at a wedding talking to myself after all these years just crushes my dreams and stomps on my self esteem like an ant.

I don’t think I can try any harder, but apparently I have to. But when I get in these ruts the very last thing I want to do is get out there and start over again. I’ve done thousands of shows for tiny audiences and/or non attentive ones. I’m past that. Going back sucks all the humanity out of me.

One of those nights might have put me in a minor funk, but both of them back to back have put me deep in the mental toilet. I feel like hope is completely gone, and I wish I could just lie down and give my remaining days to anyone who wants them. I feel like I missed my bus, and it hurts.

All I think it would take to turn it around is some tangible hope. The hope of reuniting with my siblings was what gave me the super uptick I had three months ago, and it ended up going really well in the end. That’s great, but they don’t pay my bills. I feel great personally, but professional pain is pain just the same. The stress of the struggle is getting to me, and I feel it. What stinks is I just don’t feel like fighting it anymore. Is anyone else hurting inside this badly? I sure hope not.

Life is a series of ups and downs. I'm in a down. Am I crazy? Probably, but some hope would be nice.

Life is a series of ups and downs. I’m in a down. Am I crazy? Probably, but some hope would be nice.

In Tide, Out Tide

March 23, 2014

Saturday March 22nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

After being on an extended hot streak with getting bookings for the last three months, the tide has now gone out. That’s how the game works, and it’s a cruel cycle. When the tide is in, I have more than I can handle making sure I get to gigs on time, have clean clothes to wear and all that kind of minutia. I often have to do radio interviews or other promo stuff that sucks up time also.

Everything else gets pushed back, and then when the tide goes out again I’m left with sky high piles of miscellaneous chores that need my attention – but there’s no money to spend on anything because I have no income. The money I earned from all the work I just did is long gone, and here I sit at ground zero waiting for the process to start all over again. This isn’t how I want life to be.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what to do to change it. I need money to survive as everyone does, but when I’m out earning it I don’t have time to concentrate on getting myself out of the cycle of perpetual frustration. I’m going to have to figure it out, as it’s not going to change without effort.

I’ve got all these little poles in the water, hoping to snare a fish that will feed me for a while. It would be a whale if I had my way, but it doesn’t need to be. Just something bigger than a guppy would make life easier. Living hand to mouth like I am is getting more discouraging by the day.

I still have the dream alive to really hit the mother lode, but standup comedy doesn’t have to be the way I hit it. The way it’s looking now, I’m not going to be in the business much longer and it isn’t a bad thing. My needs are different and the business is different, so I’m not going to fight it.

Part of me will be a standup comic forever, and I’m proud of that. I attained a level of skill that very few ever come close to, but it didn’t come without an enormous price. I have earned all that I have, but now it needs to be transferred to another arena for a payoff. That’s where the trick is.

Will I hit it big as a speaker? Maybe, but it won’t be an accident. Will the King of Uranus be a sensation, if even for a short time? That could happen too, and I hope it does. In my mind, that is the kind of thing I was born to do. Struggling to stay afloat like I am just isn’t part of the dream.

Now here comes summer sooner than later, and I am BONE dry for bookings. I have a couple of things between now and June, but not much. Then it’s Death Valley Days after that. I wish my schedule was jammed full of working the top venues for top dollar six or seven nights a week.

It’s not like I couldn’t deliver great shows. I’d blow the roof off a lot of places from theaters to top comedy clubs to auditoriums that never even had comedy shows before. It’s SO frustrating to not be able to pack a room when I know I have the ability. All it would take is one big tour to get my finances in order for life, and then I could really start to do good and help people. I want that.

The tide is out right now, and this is when it’s the hardest to stay positive. I have piles of tasks I can’t stand doing that need doing, and there’s no money to hire anyone to do them. Sometimes I feel I have almost arrived, but others I feel farther away than ever. This is one of the far times.

The tide of life goes in and out. Right now mine is out.

The tide of life goes in and out. Right now mine is out. That’s the hardest time to stay positive.

Wedding The Bed

March 23, 2014

Friday March 21st, 2014 – Mystery Location in Illinois

As a professional entertainer, eventually a number of unpleasant things have to be done just for the money. We would all like to think we are artists, but the reality is we have to survive just like everyone else. A lot of civilians mistakenly think we live charmed lives free from any problems.

I want to catalog my experience of this evening, if for no other reason than to have it on record for anyone that thinks being an entertainer of any kind is an easy way to avoid hard work. Let the record show that had I been shown this night before I started, I’d have chosen a different career.

Tonight I was hired to perform thirty minutes of standup comedy at a wedding reception. Once in a while somebody has the idea they want a comedian to be part of the mix, and even though it usually ends up a bad experience for everyone involved, when there’s money offered we take it.

I was approached almost a year ago by a very nice lady who said she was getting married in the Chicago area and wanted to hire a comedian for the reception. I told her that standup comedy and weddings rarely go well, only for the fact that there are such a wide variety of ages in one place.

What grandma thinks is funny is not what teenagers laugh at, and there is a similar clash that a DJ encounters. Grandma wants to hear a polka, and the kids want Justin Bieber. At least a DJ can switch back and forth and please some of them at least a little. A comedian isn’t able to do that.

Despite my warnings, the lady decided she wanted to hire me. We negotiated a fair price in my mind, especially since it was close to home. I moved since the date was booked, and where I live now is even closer. On paper, that’s heaven. Thirty minutes of work ten minutes away? Jackpot!

Not so fast with the celebrating. I showed up at my scheduled arrival time, and could tell it was going to be hell before I started. I’ve been around the block, and I knew. The facility itself was as classy as it gets, but it had a super high ceiling that would make the sound bounce around and the people were scattered from wall to wall in a gigantic space. I was screwed well before I started.

There was a DJ playing music, but nobody was dancing. I introduced myself, and found out the guy was Mexican. That’s fine, but language became an issue when he asked me how I wanted to be introduced. I tried to pronounce my name six times, and I could see he wasn’t going to get it.

Right after the father/bride dance, he introduced me before everyone sat down. That wasn’t the time to do it, but he did anyway. He screamed out my name like I was a wrestler, and of course it was pronounced wrong. Not that anyone cares, but it’s humiliating and it started me off in a hole.

I worked to the best of my ability, but that audience wanted nothing to do with me or a comedy show in general. Most of them went back to talking at their tables, and by the end I was up there alone just talking to myself. It wasn’t the place for standup comedy, but I have bills to pay and as brutal as it can be to stand there alone talking to walls that’s what it took to get a check. Between the show last night and this, I’m about ready to pack it in. But it pays my rent one more month.

No matter how fun it may sound in theory, weddings and standup comedy rarely go together in reality.

No matter how fun it may sound in theory, weddings and standup comedy rarely mix well – but bills are due so we do it anyway.