Archive for the ‘Standup Comedy Instruction’ Category

Keys To Happiness

July 14, 2014

Sunday July 13th, 2014 – Lake Villa, IL/Wauconda, IL

If any inconvenience of modern life as we know it comes as close to being as exasperating as losing one’s keys, wallet or cell phone, I have yet to discover it. What a major hassle that is, and I have had it happen so many times I lost count years ago. It’s a constant battle – at least for me.

Those three things are the easiest to lose, but the most difficult to replace. Try as I might to get better, I am always setting one of those three down somewhere and then forgetting where that is. Then I have to retrace my steps and grope at straws trying to remember where I may have left it.

I am constantly patting myself down before I leave most places checking all pockets for “Keys, wallet, phone…keys, wallet phone” – over and over and over again. I look like I’m performing a German folk dance wherever I go the way I slap at myself checking for those three crucial items.

I have tried to drill it into my skull like a mantra. “Keys, wallet, phone…keys, wallet, phone. Phone, wallet, keys…phone, wallet, keys…wallet, phone, keys…wallet, phone, keys.” You get the idea. There aren’t that many possible combinations, but whatever it takes I’m willing to do.

I have successfully managed to lose all three more than once, but strangely enough never all at the same time. I have tried to protect myself at least a little by having extra car ignition and post office box keys made which I keep in my wallet. I also have about a half a dozen plastic thingies from various grocery stores and gas stations that go on my key ring to identify it when it’s lost.

Wouldn’t you know it, a couple of days ago I happened to lose my keys – again. I discovered it on my way out the door in a hurry, but I didn’t think much of it as I was carrying my trusty spare car key in my wallet. I figured I must have left it in a pair of pants or something, and would find it later. Where I’m living there’s no need for any house keys, as I use an automatic garage door.

A couple of days went by, and I had no idea where those keys were. I scoured every inch of my room, my car, the garage and everywhere else I could think of. I had no idea where I might have left them, and I tried to retrace my steps in my head and remember the last place I still had them.

It occurred to me that at least two of the plastic thingies on the key ring were no longer good as Dominick’s grocery store closed all their stores recently and Jewel no longer has a discount card program. I couldn’t remember the other cards I had, but I knew there were a few. I just hoped the person that found them would drop them into a mailbox and I’d have a chance to get them back.

I had a late breakfast this morning with my friend Mike Land in Lake, Villa, IL. He lives close by, and attends church on Sunday mornings. I have my post office box in Lake Villa, so I need to go there at least once a week and get my mail. We’ve been making Sunday breakfasts a tradition. I was distracted the entire meal as I tried to recall where I left those damn keys. I was stumped.

On the way home I passed a Chinese restaurant I stopped at to pick up lunch for my roommate last week in Wauconda, IL and may have left them there. I crossed my fingers, toes and one eye as I walked in to ask. BINGO! There they were!! The feeling of sheer joy shot through my veins like heroin, and I promised myself I’ll never lose them again. Until next time. I’m still an idiot.

Keys are some of the easiest things to lose - but most difficult to replace.

A set of keys are some of the easiest things to lose – and also the most difficult to replace.

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.

Eleven Percent Genius

July 11, 2014

Thursday July 10th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I read a quote one time that defined “genius”, and I wish I’d have written it down. Usually I am a fastidious compiler of interesting quotes, but that particular time I was not for whatever reason, and now I am at a loss to find it anywhere. I found a lot of others in my search, but not that one.

Maybe I didn’t read it, I heard it. I don’t recall, but the basic message was “Talent is the ability to reach goals others can’t reach. Genius is the ability to reach goals others can’t see.” I have no idea who may have said it, but that’s not important. The message blew me away and still does.

I think there is at least some degree of genius in all of us, even though we don’t always act like it. Stupid seems to have a stranglehold almost everywhere, but occasionally bursts of genius slip out into the mainstream and thumb their nose at the rest of the world. Oh, to be one of those few.

Genius is a title that is often thrown around freely but incorrectly – especially by those without any of their own. Sometimes it’s a matter of opinion, and there is room for doubt. Is Kanye West a true genius? Despite what he may boldly claim, there would be those that may beg to differ.

I don’t want to get into it about him, as I can’t say I’ve heard even one of his songs. His whole arrogant persona makes me puke, but that doesn’t mean he’s not brilliant at what he does. Genius and humility don’t have to go hand in hand, and I’m sure there are all kinds of personality types.

Would anyone debate that Stephen Hawking is a legitimate genius? But would anyone want to trade places with him? I don’t think being a genius guarantees happiness, and in fact it would be a hindrance. Most of the world doesn’t operate on that level on a consistent basis, and never did.

I don’t think it takes an especially high level of genius to be successful in life. Supposedly we only use about ten percent of our mind’s potential. With all the mouth breathers walking around on a daily basis I find that number to be extremely inflated, but I’ll use it for example purposes.

How much more brain power would anybody need to use to come out on top? I say it would be eleven percent, but there would have to be a workable plan of action in place and that plan would need to be executed. That’s where I’ve had problems, and still do. There has to be a battle plan in place, and that’s where the genius comes in. One needs to see the vision before anyone else does.

I’ve had a clear vision in my head of what I wanted my life to be like since I was a small child. Does that classify me as a genius? I guess that would depend on who one would talk to, but since I have yet to be able to execute my full vision in the real world that would be a resounding no.

The King of Uranus concept is something I have pictured in my head for years, and I still have big plans to make that more of a reality. I have done it in bits and pieces, but nowhere near to the degree where I pictured it –at least not yet. I see it clearly in my own head, but it’s not executed.

Now I need to transfer that vision to as many others as I can. If enough others see it along with me, I’ll be called genius. That’s a great title to be referred to after one is dead. While still above ground, I’d much rather be known as “rich”. I don’t need to be a full genius – just eleven percent.

If you didn't know who his was, would this look like the typical genius to you?

If you didn’t happen to know who this person was, would he look like the typical genius to you? I doubt it.

How about this guy? Inspired madman or complete jackass?

What about this guy? Inspired madman or complete jackass?

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.

The Funniest Human

July 9, 2014

Monday July 7th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

A shocking revelation for those that aren’t in the business is that many professional comedians are not funny people in the least off stage. It is mistakenly assumed that since we make our living on stage getting audiences to laugh, it carries over into our personal lives and we’re always ‘on’.

Nothing could be more ridiculous, but that’s what far too many think. Dennis Miller referred to standup comedy as a “chimp trick”, and I see his point. I’ve always referred to it as a craft, and a craft can only be acquired through painstaking years of learning skills and putting them to use.

There are countless comedians that have a natural flair for being funny going in, but it still has to be polished and refined to a professional standard. Quite often that painful process tends to be what drives a lot of the funny out of those people, but if someone truly ‘has it’, it’s there for life.

There are also countless others that ‘have it’ – but never even once stand on a stage. My cousin Brett is one of those people. I would rank him up there with any of the top comedians I have ever met or seen, and had he wanted to he could have easily made his living doing what I have done.

Instead, he chose to be a union carpenter. He’s very good at what he does, but he faces many of the same issues I do with playing the politics game. Like me he’s terrible at it and knows it – and he also tends to shoot off his big mouth a lot like I do. We are definitely cut from the same cloth.

That’s likely what makes him so funny. He’s sick, twisted, vicious and unrelenting – and that’s a sincere compliment. Funny just flows through his veins, and no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other we can pick it up from where we left off and get each other going again.

There is no human nor animal on this planet that can make me laugh out loud harder than Brett. Nobody. He knows my buttons, and when he hits one he will not stop. He often makes me laugh so hard I think I’m going to suffocate from a lack of oxygen – but afterward I feel SO cleansed.

That’s what happened tonight as I drove to Milwaukee to have dinner with Brett. We try to get together once a month if we can, but sometimes we’ll miss. We both happened to be off tonight, so we enjoyed a rack of ribs at Famous Dave’s which is one of our favorite spots and caught up.

Brett and his father had about the same relationship me and mine did, and we have all kinds of similar issues about it. We were around each other growing up a lot more than I ever was with all of my siblings, so Brett is basically the younger brother I never had. I can’t call him little, as he’s about 6’4” with size 14 shoes. He could twist my head of like a bottle cap, but he never would.

Like my brother Larry, Brett is one of the kindest souls I have ever met. He’s constantly giving of himself – and constantly getting taken advantage of. I think it goes with the territory, but it’s a part of who he is just like it is with Larry and me. We’re givers, and that’s what we do. Period.

I get to enjoy Brett’s dark and warped sense of humor all to myself, and it’s more precious than gold to me. I hope I have had that effect on others, onstage and off. It feels SO good to laugh that hard, and he’s the only one I can think of that can make me do it consistently. Now that’s a gift.

Who is the funniest person you know personally? It may not be a professional comedian.

Who is the funniest person you can think of? It may – or may not – be a comedian. For me it’s my cousin Brett. He cracks me up.

The Word Of The Day

July 9, 2014

Saturday July 5th, 2014 – St. Charles, IL

The word of the day is gratitude, and I have absolutely nothing to complain about. As long as I had a paid booking in an acceptable venue – and I absolutely did – everything else fell into place. I was at Zanies in St. Charles, IL, and it pretty much met all of my 4th of July week expectations.

The only thing that didn’t live up to expectations was a bachelorette party, but they did it in the most wonderful way imaginable – they behaved themselves. Every comedian that has made their living for any significant amount of time at this insane game has had an obnoxious out of control bachelorette party make them question their vocational direction, as well as their very existence.

I am not the violent type by any means, but I have lost count at the times I have wanted to stop my show, grab the microphone stand like an ax handle and bash in each and every skull of every incessantly babbling boozed up bride to be, bridesmaid and Bride of Frankenstein as one group.

They can be maddening, and any experienced professional comedian will tell you they’d rather have rectal reconstructive surgery without anesthesia done with a rusty pizza cutter and a broken beer bottle. I know I would – and would welcome the relief rather than face a drunken hen party.

Tonight was different, and none of us could have been any more delighted. There was a couple right in front that started in right at the top of the show, but the host was Brian Hicks and he had it under control. Brian is an excellent comic and host, and handled it exactly as he should have.

By the time I got up we all thought it was over, but they started right in again before I even got to my first laugh. I didn’t expect that at all, so I jumped in their face a little and informed them it would not be wise to talk any more from there on out. They started in again and I said it again.

They reluctantly got the message, and everyone could see that I was not going to allow them to suck all the energy and attention out of the air. I was expecting to have to battle the bachelorette brigade, but they were never a problem. They laughed at all the right places, and were no trouble.

The last thing any of the comedians wanted was to do comedy combat. We all were fully aware of how lucky we were to be working this weekend, and we wanted to do our jobs, get our checks and go home peacefully. That’s what ended up happening in the end, so everyone was all smiles.

The bachelorette party ended up coming up to all of us after the show and got pictures with us. There was a smoking hot blondie that was just tipsy enough to be fun without being a stumbling wreck, and she dove for my lap and rubbed her charms all over me for a good twenty seconds.

It was very funny, not to mention a brief slice of heaven on Earth. She was really stacked, and I hadn’t seen her walk in with the party. It reminded me of a time when a bachelorette party had an enormous inflatable penis they passed up to the stage, and I ended up making it part of the show.

It was hilarious at the time, but someone was recording it and I know it’s out there somewhere. I’ll never be able to run for public office now, because that one video would get me kicked right out. Part of me kind of wants to watch it – but a bigger part wants to buy it back and destroy it.

This is the word of today - as it should be tomorrow and every day thereafter.

This is the word of today – as it should be tomorrow and every day thereafter.

Still Flying High

July 5, 2014

Friday July 4th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’m still on a high from the show last night at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL. No matter how many problems I have or how low I may feel on a given day, having shows like that is what keeps me above ground. I don’t see why I can’t experience that more regularly, like every week.

If I had my way – but I rarely do – I would be on stage every night of my life that I was able to stand even halfway erect and talk into a microphone – but only if I have the circumstances I had last night. It was a stellar venue with world class lights and sound, and people were there to see a show. When those criteria are met, I can almost always exceed their expectations and then some.

The misery comes when it’s some low rent hell hole blood and guts roadhouse dive that has no idea of how to run a show, but tries to anyway. It’s a chore to get anyone to shut up and listen for more than thirty seconds, and at the end of the night it makes me question why I was ever born.

Those aren’t the places to do real comedy, they’re just a chance for everyone to make a couple of relatively quick bucks. Notice I didn’t say easy – just relatively quick. The pain only lasts for about an hour onstage in situations like that, but can leave residual damage on the soul forever.

As much as I want to do shows like last night every night until I can no longer stand by myself, I don’t ever want to work the toilets again. I’ve long past my time of doing them, but sometimes I have to suck it up and do it for the money. Does that make me a whore? Unfortunately, it does.

It’s well and good to stand firm and be an ‘artiste’, but for most of us it’s not realistic – at least not these days. Absolutely ANY paying gig has to be considered by most of us working the road, and the quality is getting lower by the week. So is the pay. Nights like last night are a rare treat.

The one and only way to make things change for the better is to become a draw that enough of the public is familiar with and will buy tickets to see me. It doesn’t have to be anywhere close to the whole public, but it does have to be enough to sell tickets every week. That’s super difficult.

This has nothing to do with ego, although it is a blow to anybody’s that they aren’t able to fill a 50 seat room more than once a year. This is strictly business, and business often has very little or nothing to do with the show. But without a show, someone’s business won’t endure for the ages.

I’m in the same pickle barrel I’ve been in for years. I have a rock solid act, but nobody knows who I am so I can’t get a chance to prove it on a consistent basis. I’ve been too busy out making a living to get in front of the right people, and those people I have gotten in front of didn’t think I was what they were looking for – even though most people have no idea what they’re looking at.

A show like last night would have been a perfect example of one to have had when somebody with power was in the audience. I was up and down a dozen times, and kept the show rolling on many levels. Somebody with smart eyes would have seen that and plugged me in to something.

Too bad for me, they weren’t there. They’re never there when I rip it up, and that’s what makes me so frustrated. I KNOW I can do this, and so do a lot of others – especially all my detractors.

I'm learning as I get older to savor the good times. The tide will turn soon enough. When life goes well, it needs to be savored for all it's worth.

I’m learning as I get older to savor the good times. The tide will turn soon enough. When life goes well, it needs to be appreciated.

Buck Off

July 5, 2014

Wednesday July 2nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

That Mother Nature can sure be one icy hearted cruel bitch when she wants to. I have been in a one way love affair with the game of basketball ever since I was old enough to know what it was, but she personally saw to it a marriage between basketball and I would never be consummated.

I loved baseball and football too, but basketball was my favorite – probably due to the fact that my hometown Milwaukee Bucks were the only winning local team besides Marquette University basketball coached by Al McGuire, then known as the Warriors. All the other local teams stunk.

Like most school kids, I was delusional and cocksure I was going to have my pick of any major professional sport I was going to play – maybe even two or three. I would make the Hall of Fame in at least one, and then I’d spend the rest of my life signing autographs at baseball card shows.

Little did I know Moms Nature had other plans. She left my toolbox completely bare of any of the tools I would need to play any sport professionally including badminton, bocce or full contact Chinese checkers. I’m Caucasian, clumsy and never came close to being six feet tall. Game over.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t a great fan, and I followed all my local sports teams in Milwaukee as I grew up. The Bucks were my team, and in high school I got a job as a ball boy. That was going to be as close as I would ever get to participating in professional sports, but I had fun anyway.

It’s been painful to be a Bucks fan since Senator Herb Kohl bought the team in 1985, but if he hadn’t they would have left town. I’ve continued to cheer for them, but that’s like cheering for a sheep in a wolf pack. All the cheering in the world won’t help, even if the intentions are sincere.

I was holding out hope when the team was recently sold to a pair of billionaires, but that hope was violently dashed to the pavement this week when the team hired Jason Kidd to be their new head coach. I don’t care one way or the other about Jason Kidd, but how the owners handled the situation spoke volumes. They botched it to the highest degree, and it was totally uncalled for.

Larry Drew was the coach of the team last year, and they had the worst season in their history. He was in a no win situation, but I thought he handled it with class and professionalism. That had to be a nerve shredding meat grinder, but he hung in there to the end of what was a brutal season.

It’s not uncommon for new owners to come into a situation and put their own stamp on things. I was the victim of it several times in radio, and that’s why I was so sensitive to Larry Drew and his situation. I wasn’t surprised that he was let go, but it was done in a way that lost my fandom.

I know he’s got a guaranteed contract for two more years and will be making millions without having to work, but that’s not the point. Couldn’t they sit the guy down and explain things like a human being rather than let it play out in the media? No human deserves to be treated like cattle.

Not that it means anything to the new owners or anybody else, but I’m not going to cheer for a team that handles business like this. The San Antonio Spurs don’t, and they win championships. I love how they do business on and off the court, and they are my new team. Buck off, Bucks.

This is the logo of the Bucks teams I cheered for since I was a kid. Their new billionaire owners lost me in their first week.

This is the logo of the Bucks teams I cheered for since I was a kid. Their new billionaire owners lost me their first week.

The Sweetest Music

July 5, 2014

Tuesday July 1st, 2014 – Rosemont, IL

The sweetest music any comedian can hear the week of the 4th of July is a phone ringing. This is traditionally the deadest week of the year along with Christmas week, and that’s just how it is. It was like that even during the peak years, but it’s really true now. It’s not easy to get a booking.

Cruise ships can be decent on Christmas week because Jewish people tend to fill the ships, but comedy clubs on land tend to be ghost towns. Most clubs do a local ‘best of’ show with acts that live in town and don’t cost much. It’s something a club plans for every year, and they squeak by.

4th of July week is similar, but Jewish people celebrate too – at least if they’re Americans. I’ve never seen a rush of communist sympathizers or terrorists in comedy clubs or cruise ships on the week of 4th of July. It’s slow for everyone, and there’s always the variable of what day it falls on.

Saturday is always the money night in any week, and when Christmas Eve, Christmas night or the 4th happen to fall on one that makes it even harder for a venue to turn a profit that week. I’ve seen a lot of places in recent years just bite the bullet and close for those weeks. I can see why.

Zanies Comedy Clubs in the Chicago area will be open this week, but will close on Friday the actual 4th. They’re piecing ‘best of’ local shows together, and Chicago is a big city with a lot of options. It’s a chance for comedians to get their feet wet working at a Zanies location, and that’s a big deal in Chicago. It’s a chance for the clubs to be able to stay open as well, so it’s win/win.

I couldn’t have been more delighted to receive a text from the manager of the Rosemont Zanies asking if I would mind hosting the shows tonight and Thursday. Would I mind? Are you kidding me? I would be willing to host the show, vacuum the showroom after and take out the garbage at the end of the night. Being able to bring in even $1 on 4th of July week is a victory in these times.

As if that wasn’t enough, I received an email shortly thereafter from Bert Haas asking if I’d be willing to close the shows at the St. Charles location in Pheasant Run Resort on Saturday. Again, I was barely able to conceal my joy as I pretended to look for my calendar to see if I was open.

This couldn’t have come at a better time, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I hate to be in such a pickle to need money this badly, but it’s a big barrel and I’m not alone. Every comic I know that hasn’t gotten a day job by now is also sniffing around for anything they can get. Times are tight.

I’m really going to have to be better prepared from now on, but at least for another year I’ll get through another 4th of July week and another summer. I’ve picked up a couple of straggler shows for July and August, and there could be a few more in the mix when I rattle some cages I haven’t rattled in a while but need to. This particular week was wide open, and now it’s not. I’m thrilled.

The show tonight was excellent. The Rosemont location is part of a beautiful new complex that has a lot of bars and restaurants, and there is a significant amount of walk up business. That’s the exact type of location the most successful comedy clubs in the country are. Hopefully this club is set up for a long successful run. There was a nice house tonight, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ll enjoy Thursday and Saturday too. Thank you Zanies, you saved me again. http://www.zanies.com.

Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL is one of the most beautiful comedy clubs in America. www.zanies.com

Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL is one of the most beautiful comedy clubs in America. See it for yourself! http://www.zanies.com

Butts In Seats

July 4, 2014

Monday June 30th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It’s Half Year’s Eve, and if I owned a bar or comedy club I’d make a big deal out of it and milk it for all I could. Too bad I don’t want to own a bar or a comedy club, but if I did this would be a big night – at least on paper. The trick is always getting butts in seats. It’s damn near impossible.

I’ve said it before, but only because it’s true. I challenge absolutely anybody to create any kind of event whatsoever from scratch, and get at least 100 people to show up. I’m not even worrying about paying customers, I’m just talking about attracting 100 pairs of butt cheeks into one room.

The butt cheeks don’t even have to be attached to a head. 100 seats filled with 200 butt cheeks. That’s the challenge, and a monumental one it is at that. I’ve been trying to do it for decades, and I haven’t succeeded on my own more than a fist full of times. I have total respect for promoters.

There are too many variables to count as far as what can go wrong to spoil any live event. Bad weather can keep customers away, but so can good weather. If there’s a storm, people don’t want to leave the house. If it’s a beautiful night they might feel like doing something outside instead.

Time of the month can be a factor as well, in more ways than one. People get paid at different times of the month, but usually it’s around the first and the middle. If there’s an event later in the month, customers may have full intentions of attending but there’s just no more money to spend.

Sometimes with couples, “time of the month” can absolutely be a factor. That may seem gross, but it’s a fact. P.M.S. can mean S.O.L. as far as getting someone to come out and attend any live event. Nobody ever thinks about any of this unless they have tried to promote events themselves.

I’ve lost my ass so many times trying to promote my own various live events I have to sleep on my stomach. It’s uncanny how many times I have happened to be competing the same night with a major sporting event – or worse yet a minor sporting event that was only important in the town where my event was. I’ve been bankrupted by high school football games, bake sales and bingo.

Promoting one’s own events is an unforgiving mother – giving with one hand and taking with the other. Just because something works one way one time is no guarantee it’s going to work all the time. I’ve had weekends where one event goes well and I make a halfway decent profit, but lose it all and then some on the very next night when some fluke power outage closes the doors.

Bigger businesses have problems like this too, but they have much more of a cushion to be able to absorb the punishment of one night gone badly. If I take it in the shorts, those shorts may well be soiled by the following morning. It’s a risk to be a promoter of any kind, but there are rewards as well. If one is willing to roll the dice and roll up his or her sleeves, good things can be in store.

I’m going to start promoting my own shows in the very near future. I am willing to take a risk and lose if it’s for me, but driving hundreds of miles for someone else without a guarantee that’s worth my while is not what I need to be doing ever again. I did it far too long, and it never paid off. If I’m going to work for any clueless imbeciles, that imbecile is going to be ME. Nobody is going to watch over my career like me, so it’s plain old smart business. I’m ready to get started.

No matter the size of either, butts in seats is what the entertainment business is about.

No matter the size of either, butts in seats is what the entertainment business is about.