Archive for the ‘Standup Comedy’ Category

Another Sabbatical

August 2, 2014

Friday August 1st, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I need to take another sabbatical from writing this particular diary. I think if nothing else I have proven that I can crank out material consistently – even if it has a tendency to rattle the cages of some on occasion. I don’t set out to do that or anything else but let my innermost feelings flow.

As I said before my last predetermined break – which ended up only lasting a month – I will be back when I feel I have something to say. I didn’t stay gone long, and I am still flattered by all of the tremendous emails of support I received from so many that I didn’t even realize were readers.

This time my reason for leaving is different. I need to focus on and FINALLY finish a book of the horrific experiences I went through having had to testify in Federal Court against my former childhood best friend that robbed a bank he used to work at – twice. Anyone that has known me for a long time has either heard the story or bits and pieces, and it has without fail captivated all.

The reason I can confidently boast of how great a story it is is because I did not write it. It just unfolded in front of me and all I have to do is report what happened. I guess I really was lucky to have been given such an amazing gift, but it sure was painful to live through as it all played out.

I admit that for years I was avoiding it. I didn’t want to go back there in my head, as it was so torturous an experience. Having to testify against one’s very best friend is as ugly as I ever want to imagine. I still have the occasional nightmare even now, but the time has come to get it out of me once and for all. Putting it into book form will allow me to move on from that painful stretch.

Years from now, all kinds of people will read it and be riveted. Most are. People I have told the full story to often become totally engrossed. When I told it on the Bob and Tom radio show I was deluged with emails from all over the country from strangers who were all absolutely fascinated.

I feel in my deepest heart that this is the project I need to focus on and get it off my plate once and for all. I fully believe it will open a lot of doors for me that aren’t open now, and if nothing else it will give me a product NOBODY else has. It is exclusive unto me, and will set me apart.

For however long it takes to finish this project, I will devote any and all spare time to getting it done. My original intention was to work on it for June, July and August – but here it is August 1 and I’ve frittered away yet another summer. I have made excuses long enough. It has to get done.

My good friend Lynn Miner has offered to edit the manuscript, and he has lots of experience as he has had almost thirty books of his own published. He knows the process well, and it is kind of him to offer his help. I will take him up on it, and he has already made outstanding suggestions.

All the parts of the story are there, as I wrote a skeleton outline about fifteen years ago not long after it all happened. I was not nearly the writer I am now, and all these years of making posts on a daily basis have strengthened my skill level exponentially. I already feel a major improvement.

I spent about four hours today getting the old manuscript ready to revamp. I’ll make occasional posts here if something of note occurs, but that is my focus. If you want to sign up for my monthly comedy newsletter, please send me your email address at dobiemaxwell@aol.com. I’ll let you know when the book is ready. If you enjoy this diary you will love the book. Thanks again for your loyal support! Good bye for now.

I need to take another break for a while so I can finish up a most amazing true life story. Talk to you hopefully sooner than later.

I need to take another break for a while so I can complete my first book. Talk to you hopefully sooner than later. Thanks!

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Mentor Magic

July 29, 2014

Friday July 25th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

I love being a mentor. It’s got a lot of the same rewards of fatherhood without having to change any diapers. I have had some tremendous mentees along the way of all ages, and it’s funny when they have been physically older than me. It doesn’t matter, as they are still in the role of student.

I am a student myself of many things, but in comedy I am the mentor. It’s one of the few topics I’m able to speak on with relative authority, even though the entire time I am teaching I remain a dedicated learner. I just happen to be farther along than most, so I can reach back and nurture.

The challenge of figuring out how to bring out the best in each individual is something I never get tired of. Everybody is different, and mentoring is not something that is started and finished in one session. It’s long term, and requires dedication and input from both parties. I really enjoy it.

One of my current favorites is twelve year old Trevor Burke along with his father Joe. Joe took one of my classes at Zanies in Chicago many years ago, and now Trevor is doing comedy. He’s a super kid and I have grown to really like him – even though I would highly recommend that kids don’t do standup comedy for more than fun. There are several reasons for that, and all are legit.

First off, kids don’t have the life experience to be able to draw upon for material. They are in a tough spot, and I don’t think it’s fair to the average kid to put them in a position to be on stage in front of total strangers – especially adults. Too many things can go wrong, and it’s intimidating.

Second, bombing on stage can be an absolutely horrific experience. I wouldn’t want to throw a kid – especially one I like – into such a precarious position with any sort of regularity. If the kid is doing a talent show at school or something for other kids, fine. But as a career path? No way.

Of course there are exceptions to almost every rule, and Trevor is it. Joe has a background with entertainment, as his brother had a band. Joe is fully aware of the pitfalls, and is very good in the way he keeps Trevor grounded. He and his wife Pam are excellent parents, and it all just works.

People frequently ask me, “Is the kid funny?” He’s a KID. He’s still developing as a person, so it’s unfair to put adult expectations on him or any other child. He’s funny enough, and should he decide to stay with standup as he matures, I think he’s got an extremely bright future. What he is loaded with is likeability and experience. He’s been acting for years, and is at home on the stage.

He enjoys performing, and that’s a huge part of it. He’s a novelty right now, and everyone gets that. He’s getting a lot of attention because Joe knows how to play the entertainment game. He is Trevor’s manager, and it’s a chance for them to bond as father and son but still develop a career.

Tonight I rode to Milwaukee with them both and watched Trevor compete in a talent contest at a street fair. It wasn’t the greatest of circumstances, but he went up and did his set anyway. There was a girl about his age that was a singer, and she had a bunch of her family come out so she was the winner because it was based on audience response. Trevor wasn’t disappointed, and we went to dinner at The Safe House afterward. It was fun to hang out, and no matter what happens I will still be his mentor and friend. Comedy is a nasty racket. I want to see him enjoy his childhood.

Trevor Burke has done more in show business at age 12 than most people do in a lifetime. Plus, he's a really nice kid too. I'm a big fan. www.trevorburke.com

Trevor Burke has done more in show business at age 12 than most people do in a lifetime. Plus, he’s a really nice kid too. I’m a big fan. http://www.trevorburke.com

Sports Comedy With Balls

July 29, 2014

Thursday July 24th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

A lot of things sound really great in theory. Communism is a big one, but nobody has been able to pull it off successfully for any significant amount of time. Polygamy is another. It sounds like a party, but there are laws against it for a reason. The success of any idea lies in the execution.

When I lived in Los Angeles in the mid ‘90s, I knew I needed a gimmick to separate me from a ridiculously large glut of white males trying to make a dent in standup comedy. Supply was FAR greater than demand even then, and I saw it. From my longstanding background in pro wrestling promotion, I zeroed in on a persona I thought would get me the most attention and get me seen.

That idea was to become “The Sports Comedian – With Balls”. I’d asked my friend and mentor Ross Bennett what he thought I should focus on, and he asked me what topics I knew best. I told him I knew sports, and I wasn’t lying. I have been a rabid sports fan since I was able to tie shoes.

Ross’s answer was fast and simple: “Well, why don’t you call yourself The Sports Comedian?”

It clicked with me immediately, and I spent all the money I had at the time to get photos taken in sports jerseys. I even had sports cards of me printed up. I got a crew cut like I though a sports comedian should have, and I proceeded to try and book myself. That’s where the glitch came in.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but not everyone is as enthusiastic about sports as I am. In fact, a whole lot of people couldn’t care less about it – especially women. Granted, there are quite a few women that do follow sports at least casually, but not nearly enough to support what I was doing.

I vividly recall getting on stage with this idea more than a few times, and seeing people’s faces tune out as soon as I said I was going to talk about sports. There were some nights that went very well, but it was too inconsistent so I dropped it after a few months and dove head first right back into the pool of anonymous Caucasians. “Mr. Lucky” is what I tried next, and that jury’s still out.

Times have changed and so have I, and I think the time is right to try this idea again. I have the chance to dust it off on Monday August 11th, at Zanies Comedy Club on Wells Street in Chicago. Every few months they give me a Monday night and let me do whatever I want – within reason. I told them I wanted to try this idea, and they gave me the thumbs up. I really think it will succeed.

Everything is so compartmentalized with the advent of the internet, and that wasn’t the case the first time I tried. If this is marketed correctly – and that’s the rub for just about anything – I know I can carve out a great niche market. People that love sports are rabid, and there are MILLIONS of us nationwide. If I can tap into that market, I have to believe I can make a comfortable living.

Even if I would only do it part time, I think I could still do more than ok. Every sports team on every level has an awards banquet or a pre season kick off dinner, and if this idea was presented properly I know it would get some bites. Well, I think so anyway. Here’s my chance to prove it.

I’ve got a killer lineup of comedians already lined up, and if nothing else it will be fun to hang out with them. I am going to rattle all the media cages I can, and hope I can get some publicity. http://www.zanies.com

Twenty years ago I threw everything I had into this gimmick. The time wasn't right then, but I think it is now. We'll see. Come on out to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on August 11th. www.zanies.com

Twenty years ago I threw everything I had into this gimmick. The time wasn’t right then, but I think it is now. We’ll see. Come on out to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on August 11th. http://www.zanies.com

Dirty Diapers

July 28, 2014

Wednesday July 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I want to talk more about the whole game of getting on television. Ultimately, it’s what makes or breaks a true career in the entertainment business and everyone that succeeds needs to master it and find their outlet. Some may have a different platform than others, but television is the key.

It used to be that once a comedian – and I’m sure singers, dancers, magicians, ventriloquists as well – got on a big show like Ed Sullivan or Johnny Carson, they were as good as set. They’d get all the agents that were anyone fighting over them, and usually end up with a guaranteed income.

There were a few that flamed out, but for the most part those shows were the showcase for the very best of the best in any field of entertainment. If one was lucky enough to get on a show like that, literally MILLIONS would see them in one shot. It’s not like that anymore, and never will be. The days of the world wide mega star entertainer are over thanks to one reason – the internet.

There will be a few that slip through, but it won’t be like it was. Everybody in society had seen Bob Hope when he was popular, but not everybody has seen Justin Timberlake or Beyonce. The fan bases of those people tend to be in their own generation, and it’s not necessarily a negative.

It sure allows for more specialized serving of one’s audience, and also gives more entertainers a taste of the enormous success that used to be reserved for only the elite marquee names like an Elvis or Frank Sinatra before him. The Beatles were huge too, as was Michael Jackson. Now we have a ton of acts carving out their own smaller empires, with most of the world oblivious to it.

Getting on television is still important, but not nearly as important as knowing how to manage the internet. The game has changed completely now in that schmuckos like me and everyone else with a computer can technically throw our hats in the ring and start making our own appearances on “television”. It’s not network television, but the possibility does exist for it to be seen all over.

I’m not just talking national television, I’m talking WORLD WIDE. “Going viral” is possible, even though it’s not likely just like buying a lottery ticket doesn’t make you likely to win. What it does is gives one a chance to win, and today’s entertainer needs to come up with a battle plan.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen made over and over is people putting things out there too soon. I hear the newbies talking about how they have six videos and four CDs and “did an hour” at some toilet club somewhere that was recorded and is now a “one hour special”. I hear this constantly.

The trick is to make a special truly special. Years of hard work and polish can’t be avoided if a comedian or any other act wants to break through the crowd. These are things nobody gets told at the beginning, and it’s wrongly assumed everything they do needs to be recorded and thrown out there for the universe to see. I equate this with dirty diapers. Should those be displayed openly?

Of course not. They should be changed in private and thrown out. Eventually the baby will not need to wear one anymore, and it’s a non issue. The same is true for entertainers. Don’t show us your dirty diapers on You Tube or anywhere else. It’s a whole new game, and I need to master it like everyone else. It’s a good thing I have a lifetime of experience. I am really going to need it.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every bad set they do needs to be on You Tube. WRONG.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every brutal set they do needs to be on You Tube.

A Cup Of Coffee

July 28, 2014

Tuesday July 22nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Oh, how time flies. Four years ago today my appearance on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” aired. I’d recorded it the previous March, and by the time it ran I honestly thought it would never air. When it did, it was a tremendous experience – at least for people around me.

For whatever reason, that super short four and a half minutes on national television at 1:30am was a whole lot more impressive to people than the lifetime it took to get there. To me it wasn’t that big of a deal, because it was the easy part. All I had to do was walk out there and do a whole lot less time than I’m used to doing. It was like a night off, but that’s what put me over the top.

As far as credibility is concerned, making it to national television even once is proof of having played in the majors. It’s not a guarantee of a lifetime of problem free bliss, but neither is making the majors in any kind of sport or entertainment genre. Lots of people have more problems after they get there than before they started, and I’m sure more than a few wish they had never started.

There is so much involved to “making it big” in any genre of entertainment, but the one factor nobody can ever gain control over is luck. Things happen good and bad, and that’s just how it is. I freely admit that I got very lucky in a good way to have the door open to get on the show, but I also knew what to do with that luck when I got it. I had to play the game for a while, but I did it.

I went back and forth with the talent booker, and then they changed talent bookers. Then they did it again. Then the original person came back, and I started all over again. It took a couple of years to play out, but I got my spot and no matter what else I ever do nobody can take that away.

Several years have gone by now, and I haven’t gotten anything close to that kind of a break in anything I’ve tried. Did I put forth any less effort during that time? NO WAY. In fact, I probably put in more, but I had a few bad breaks health wise and that took me out. Again, it’s all part of it. That was a bad break just like initially getting the call to open for Craig Ferguson was positive.

After living through this process and seeing it with others I know personally, I totally see why there are one hit wonders in music. If it’s this complicated for a comedian, I can’t begin to think what it must be like for a band. Talent isn’t the only thing that puts an act over the top. It’s many things, and everything has to line up at the right place and time for a career to really take root.

None of this is said with bitterness, but I think it’s important to note that there are a number of ingredients needed to bake a cake. I’ll also be the first to admit I’ve shot myself in the foot more than once, but that happens to others too. Michael Vick is one of the most blatant examples of all time, but he still managed to come back and salvage a decent career. Not everyone gets that shot.

It’s hard to say if I will ever catch another break as big as the ones I’ve already had. No matter what happens from now on though, I did manage to get on national television as a comedian and had a job doing mornings at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago. In radio, that’s the big leagues as well.

Not many ever make it to one of those much less both, but the key is to stay there and carve out a career. I had a cup of coffee but that was it. So far. Maybe that will be it. Maybe not. We’ll see.

Success in show business requires more than just a cup of coffee on TV. One has to make a mark. That's harder than it sounds.

Success in show business requires more than just a cup of coffee on TV. One has to make a mark. That’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Entrepreneurial Evolution

July 25, 2014

Monday July 21st, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Like it or not, a whole lot of us are going to have to get more entrepreneurial in a hurry. I have been interested in having my own business ever since I can remember, but it always took a back seat to being a comedian. It’s only been recently that I’ve understood that comedy IS a business.

What a dummy I’ve been, but it’s not too late to change. I always use the great James Gregory from Atlanta as the gold standard of comedians that understand the business side best, and I have yet to run into anyone better. The only close horse in the race is Heywood Banks, and then all of the rest of us are sliding around in a giant mud pit hoping to find a couple of straggling nickels.

There are a lot of stellar business people in the comedy field in Los Angeles, but I am thinking of road dogs like me. James figured it out early, and has been consistently at the top of the game for decades. Heywood has done well for himself too, and I respect both those guys enormously.

If they’re not natural entrepreneurs, they sure have worked hard at fooling everyone. They are both extremely hard workers, and it is no accident either one of them has achieved their success. They have handled their business well, and didn’t choose to play the Hollywood roulette game.

These are two shining examples of entrepreneurs in the comedy game, but I’m talking of life in general. Ma and Pa public are broke, and there’s no sign of relief in sight. They can either get out there are start some kind of a business or they can learn to like cat food. Times are excruciating.

My grandfather used to tell me horror stories about The Great Depression, and from all he said it wasn’t that great. He was forced to become an entrepreneur, and he did just about anything he could get involved in to try and feed his family. According to both Grandma and Gramps, it was nothing to joke about. Everyone was tense, and nobody had any clue if it would ever get better.

Well, it looks like history is repeating itself after all. The whole country is broke, and 99.999% of us can use some extra cash right about now. For most of us it’s not extra either – it’s all we’ve got. Prices of food and gas and everything else are rising steadily, and nobody I know is doing at least halfway decently much less kicking ass. Life is rather bleak, but there has to be a solution.

Reading about The Great Depression, there were people that made fortunes for the ages. There are people doing it today as well, but they were rich to start with. The rich truly are getting richer but I don’t see how I can get any poorer. I’m barely hanging on, and it’s not how I want to live.

It’s been a constant struggle to keep the bills paid, and the distraction that is saps my creativity for projects I want to do. I did get a couple of very generous gifts, but I used that money to erase a hefty credit card bill and stop the bleeding of that insane interest rate. Now I am right at zero.

That doesn’t mean some emergency couldn’t wipe me out again, and I am still dangling by the thinnest of threads. I don’t think a job alone will be the long term solution. I will have to earn my own fortune, as there is nobody that’s going to leave me theirs. A lot of others share this scenario and we all have choices to make. The law of the jungle is adapt or die. It’s not “like it was”, and it’s not going to be any time soon. Being an entrepreneur is in my future, so I may as well like it.

Tough times force a lot of people to become entrepreneurs against their will. I am going willingly.

Tough times force a lot of people to become entrepreneurs against their will. I am going along willingly.

My friend James Gregory in Atlanta is the standard bearer for road comic entrepreneurialism. He's the king. www.funniestman.com

My friend James Gregory in Atlanta is the gold standard bearer for road comedian entrepreneurialism. He is the KING. http://www.funniestman.com

Heywood Banks is far from a slouch. He has always had a solid grasp on the business side of things. www.heywoodbanks.com.

Another friend Heywood Banks is far from a slouch. He has always had a solid grasp on the business aspect. http://www.heywoodbanks.com.

My Favorite Venue

July 23, 2014

Saturday July 19th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

Ahhh…nothing is as thoroughly refreshing as an oasis in the desert. Tonight I was booked for a pair of shows at my all time favorite performance venue which is The Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. I love everything about the place, and I’d work there anytime.

The stage is enormous, the sound and lights are always perfect, and the hometown audience is primed. I can talk to them like nowhere else, because I grew up in Milwaukee and know exactly what buttons to push. I can use references I can’t use anywhere else, and it is total creative bliss.

Another reason I like working there is the friendly staff. Bob Rech is in charge, and everybody from him on down treats me like a big star. I treat them well too, but I do that everywhere. That’s how I think everyone should be, but it doesn’t always go down that way. I feel totally at home.

Tonight I wasn’t hired to do my “Schlitz Happened!” show about growing up in Milwaukee, so I kept it separate and just did my regular standup comedy show. I have enough material to divide it up, and I have always been one to switch things around depending on the individual audience.

I’m rarely if ever nervous before any show, but tonight I admit there was a knot in my stomach because my sister Tammy and her husband Jake came out to see the early show. I had a difficult time coming up with the last time Tammy saw me, and it has to be more than 25 years. Jake had never seen me perform ever, and I wanted to have a good show just so they’d have a good time.

We went out for dinner before the show, and met up with my cousin Wendy and her childhood friend Mary Jo. Tammy and Wendy had never met, and I was a nervous host there too because I wanted it to go well. The last thing I needed would be any family tension, but there wasn’t a bit.

Wendy is a super sweetheart, and has supported me for years. She and Tammy were fine, and we had a relaxing meal before they went to gamble for a while before the show. Caryn Ruby was the opening act, and she joined us for dinner. I didn’t expect any problems from her, and didn’t have any. All of us got along, and it went exactly how it was supposed to go. I was SO relieved.

The early show audience wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. Summer shows are always light, and the 7pm starting time can be a factor too. I was still able to get them going, but I have had much better audiences. Tammy and Jake thought it was great, and so did Wendy. That’s the main concern I had, and I’m always ultra hard on myself and set high standards. I want to please.

Of course the second show was a whole lot better, but that’s how it usually goes. When there’s anybody that need to be impressed, the show rarely delivers – at least in my mind. When it’s just another show with nobody I know in the crowd, that’s when it rocks. Those people were laughers and we all had a blast. When that room is rocking, there isn’t any place like it. I adore that space.

If it were up to me, I would work there 52 weeks a year. I would perform “Schlitz Happened!” and build my legend like Danny Gans did at his theatre in The Mirage in Las Vegas. It doesn’t even have to be in the Northern Lights Theatre, even though I fit perfectly there. A smaller room would be fine, as long as the hot audiences keep showing up. I was born to work there. Literally.

I can't think of a more ideal venue for standup comedy than Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. It's my favorite stage of all time.

I can’t think of a more ideal venue for standup comedy than Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. It’s my favorite venue. http://www.paysbig.com

Milwaukee Mingling

July 19, 2014

Wednesday July 15th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

I took a trip home to Milwaukee today, and it turned into a mini whirlwind tour. With the price of gas where it is I think we all have to plan our trips these days. I squeezed as much into a single day as I could, and it was productive. I challenge anyone to pack as much into one day as I did.

My first stop was Miss Katie’s Diner to see my friend Lynn Miner. Lynn is one of my biggest supporters, and an outstanding human being. He’s a magician among many other things, and he’s looking to do that full time after a hugely successful career as a grant seeker all over the world.

I can help Lynn with adding jokes to his act, but he helps me even more. He’s got a lifetime of experience in making business plans, and is mentoring me in what I’m doing. It’s a win/win for all parties, and I always look forward to meeting up with him. We complement each other well.

After lunch I stopped at the Milwaukee County Courthouse and then City Hall to check out the job openings of all things. I always said I’d never move back to Milwaukee, but if I had a reason to – like a decent job – I totally would. The former demons that used to haunt me are now dead.

I hated going back to Milwaukee because of so many bad memories. Now that I’ve gotten back in touch with my siblings, it has healed a lot of those wounds. None of them happen to live there anymore, but that’s where we were born and raised. Milwaukee will always be part of our DNA.

I don’t know if I’ll get a job or not, but it won’t hurt to sniff around and see what’s available. If I could land a nice gig with benefits, I can still do my “Schlitz Happened!” show around the state and continue performing and teaching comedy classes for Zanies in Chicago so life would be ok.

Since I was downtown already, I decided to take a lap through the Milwaukee Public Museum. It had been years since I did that, but I had some time so I decided to make the investment. I had no idea ticket prices have skyrocketed to $15, but by the time I got to the window it was too late.

I hadn’t planned on spending $15, but it really is an outstanding museum so I bit the bullet and I’m glad I did. There were a lot of exhibits I still remember from my childhood along with many new things I had never seen before. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was interesting to observe all the kids that were there on class field trips just like I went on when I was that age. It was fun.

After that I was able to squeeze in a couple of thrift stores, but didn’t find any ancient artifacts I could resell for huge profits. If VHS tapes ever come back, I know where to load up. Other than that, it was a bunch of junk I wouldn’t take for free. Still, it’s fun to hunt and I enjoyed the stops.

I was listening to my friend Steve ‘The Homer’ True on AM 540 ESPN Radio and he was on a live remote broadcast at a Pick n’ Save grocery store. He was trying to get donations for the local Hunger Task Force and was flipping coins to donate $100. If a listener won, Homer had to donate.

If Homer won, the listener donated. Homer has always supported anything I ever did, and I was glad to stop and flip the coin. I lost of course, but that’s the legend of Mr. Lucky. I received a big plug on the air, and donated to a worthy cause. Milwaukee will always be home, so why fight it?

Milwaukee will always be my hometown, so I might as well embrace it.

Milwaukee will always be my hometown – warts and all, so I might as well embrace it.

Just Cos

July 13, 2014

Saturday July 12th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Today is Bill Cosby’s 77th birthday, and I challenge anybody to name a 20th century entertainer that has touched more people in a positive way. I sure can’t, and if there is one not only does my hat go off to that person, I will include my head along with it. Bill Cosby stands alone at the top.

My grandfather took me to see him when I was about 14. I will admit I wasn’t thrilled about it at first, mainly because I was a 14 year old know it all punk and didn’t think it would be any fun to have to sit through something like that. Looking back, I clearly see what a flaming idiot I was.

I remember getting to the Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee with Gramps early and finding our seats. All that was on the stage was a microphone in a stand, and I remember experiencing an immediate sense of disappointment. I don’t know what I had expected, but it was more than that.

To make it worse, there was an opening act we had to sit through. It was a piano player named Walt Michaels. I don’t know why I remember his name all these years later, but I do. He wasn’t bad, and in fact he was unbelievably good – but I was 14 and knew everything about everything.

Then Bill Cosby came out and within ten minutes both Gramps and I were bent over clutching our sides with laughter. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. He proceeded to pound it out for an hour and a half, and by the time the show ended the entire audience could not breathe.

I was a fan from that day on, and I’ve never stopped. Especially since I’ve done comedy – or at least a reasonable facsimile of it – for so many years, my respect for what he has accomplished is enormous. His place in the all time annals of standup comedy is in stone, but he’s not done yet.

And that’s not counting what he accomplished in television. Fat Albert was a staple of the ‘70s on Saturday mornings, and I watched it regularly as did millions of kids of my generation. After that he only came out with the biggest sitcom of the ‘80s. Most mortal entertainer types would be thrilled to be able to lay claim to any one of those things. Bill Cosby is more than a mere mortal.

Sure, he had a few movies that flamed out. So what? Most of us never get even ONE chance to star in a movie and he got several. People make jokes about “Leonard Part 6” and “Ghost Dad”, but who wouldn’t love to be made fun of like that? If those are his worst problems, he’ll be fine.

I have been unbelievably fortunate to have met more than a few legendary comedians in person from George Carlin to Richard Pryor to Bill Hicks and others, but Bill Cosby is one I would still love to meet. I don’t know what I’d say other than how much I love his work, but that’s enough.

I wouldn’t consider myself a peer, as he’s pretty much in a class by himself. I’m a lifelong fan though, along with millions of others white and black, old and young, Northern and Southern and just about any other kind of difference. Bill Cosby has made more people laugh than anyone else.

Can anyone think of a higher honor than that? There isn’t one. If he’s a dented can he sure does hide it well, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We all are to some degree, but people like Bill Cosby do us all a favor and make the ride a little more pleasant. What an amazing contribution he’s made.

Bill Cosby is still going strong at 77. What a career he has had. Wow.

Bill Cosby is still going strong at 77. What a truly legendary career he has had. Wow.

Keeping SCORE

July 11, 2014

Wednesday July 9th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL

Tonight I attended a free seminar on how to conduct business online. It was given by a member of SCORE, which is a mentoring source for small business. I had heard of this organization for a long time, and I probably should have gotten myself involved a lot sooner than now. But I didn’t.

I didn’t do a lot of things I now wish I would have, but who doesn’t share that story? We could all fill our own life’s diary with the opportunities we blew, but that’s not news. What’s important is what we do correctly, and that’s what I intend to focus my energy on. The past is exactly that.

My pit crew Eric Feinendegen heard about this meeting that was held at a library in Gurnee, IL where he lives. He asked if I felt like going, and I jumped at it. He had never heard of this group but they’ve been around for decades. It’s made up of volunteers who have business experience.

I’d guess there were 40-50 in attendance, and most of them looked to be very new at the whole idea of being an entrepreneur. The theme of tonight’s presentation was setting up a web presence in order to do business, and how important it is in today’s economy. It has become a necessity.

The guy in charge was friendly enough, but his presentation skills weren’t the greatest. I don’t mean any offense by that, as that’s not what his field of expertise is. He was obviously a member of the business world his entire life, and now in his retirement he’s reaching back to help others.

I’m grateful for any help I can get right about now, but I couldn’t help thinking of how I could do presentations like this and blow people away. He had no idea how to structure his talk, and he didn’t have a beginning or an end. He just kind of started, and then talked until his time was up.

I don’t want to rip the guy, and he really did seem like a friendly fellow. But if I had paid to be here, I would have been completely disappointed. There was zero showmanship whatsoever, and it drove home not only how crucial that is in all presentations but how I have a master’s degree.

Somebody somewhere needs someone that can make effective live presentations, and I need to find them in a hurry. Comedy shows are great, but by far not the only outlet for live presenting. I would gladly host events like this if I were being paid, and it wouldn’t have to be all that much.

Eric and I have our work cut out for us. He’s a speaker himself, and has won several awards in contests he’s entered. That would be the last thing I’d want to do, but we can help each other get to where we both want to be. He’s very good at organization, and we have been working together at getting me better in that department. I still have a long way to go, but we’re making progress.

I in turn can help him with his speeches, and eventually we’d like to bring someone else in as a pit crew to keep things running smoothly. NOBODY is able to do everything by themselves, and it’s smart business to consult someone who has experience no matter who that is or what it’s for.

Tonight we reached out to someone that has business experience – something I can really use a hand with. It’s another step on the long journey of becoming a self sufficient entrepreneur. I wish I’d done it a whole lot sooner, but I didn’t. It’s too late for wishes. Action is all that matters now.

SCORE is an organization that mentors small business. I can use some help.

SCORE is an organization that mentors small business.