Posts Tagged ‘97.9 The Loop’

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.

Generosity Times Three

June 20, 2014

Thursday June 19th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I haven’t forgotten about my daily focus on kindness, but today kindness happened to focus on me. I can’t say I’m upset, and just when I was about to throw in the towel that anyone else was in the game, in come three shining examples to remind me I’m not alone. I’m giddy beyond words!

It’s no secret that I’ve been going through some rough patches of late. Actually, they have been more than rough. It kind of feels like I have been riding uphill on the long and winding highway of life, and it’s a cobblestone road and I’m on a bicycle with no seat. And I’m not wearing pants.

Although I have a heaping helping of problems in my in box, the majority of them are a result or at least a byproduct of a lack of money. I’ve heard it said that if money can fix your problems you don’t have any problems. Well, I’d like to meet the halfwit that said that. I bet he was rich.

Money is an issue for a lot of us, and many times it’s not our fault. Many times it is as well, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt on this one. I was on track to financial freedom when I had my morning radio job at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago in 2004. I keep harping on that, but it’s the truth. It took a lifetime to land that gig, and I was in the right place at the right time for once.

The owner of the station then was Bonneville International – which is basically the Mormon Church. They are very good people to work for, as they treat their employees well. We were part of a long term plan that would have kept me employed to this day, and I’d be making big bank.

Jobs like that don’t grow on trees, and when the company unexpectedly sold out that plan was no longer in effect and we were bounced like a third party check. I’ve spent the last ten years in recovery mode, hoping to catch another break like that. Unfortunately, they are extremely rare.

The sad part is, the snake that fired us has NO clue and couldn’t care less what damage he has done to all of us that were part of the show, but that’s the cold hard business of radio and life in general. Precious few care about anyone else, and in retrospect it is the worst break of my career.

Well, today got at least a little brighter when I went to my post office box and got – count ‘em – THREE completely unsolicited yet extremely generous donation checks from people that know I’m struggling right now and wanted to help. I couldn’t believe it, and it made me weep with joy.

Two of the checks came from friends of mine, but the third – and by far the largest – was from an anonymous donor who reads my daily diary entries and wanted to help. He included his name in an email, but insisted he wanted it to remain anonymous so I will respectfully grant that wish.

This really gives me hope on a lot of levels. First, I will be able to make it through yet another bleak weak summer. That’s always an issue in comedy, and this year is not looking bright at all. I have a few things lined up for the next three months, but nothing earth shattering. It’s sparse.

Second, it takes the lion’s share of the intense pressure off of having to worry about how I am going to cover my rent so I can focus on more important long term goals like finding a job with health insurance, and completing the book I am working on. I can now focus on that for a while.

Thirdly, it restores faith. I have given money to many when I had it, and I didn’t expect it back. It’s the right thing to do sometimes, and this was one. I experienced the joy of giving, and so are those who helped me. It’s hard to match my joy though. I TRULY appreciate this. Thank you all!

Money sure does talk, and today I'm screaming in return. THANK YOU THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Money does talk, and today I scream at the top of my lungs in return – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

High School Confidential

March 18, 2014

Sunday March 16th, 2014 – Petersburg, IL

By all that is logical, I should have gotten up early this morning and driven home to get at least a little work done on at least one of the too many projects I’ve got going. It’s not all that long of a drive from Springfield, IL to Island Lake, IL but I decided to veer off course and take a detour.

My friend Max Bumgardner’s son Dustin landed the lead role in his high school musical called “Back To The ‘80s”, and the last performance was this afternoon at 4:30. Max and his family are based in Petersburg, IL which is about 30 miles from Springfield. His wife Chris was born there, and went to the same high school Dustin and daughter Skylar now attend. Dustin is almost done.

Max and I have been friends since we worked in radio at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago in 2004, and since then we have transitioned from friends to virtual family. I’ve watched both of his kids grow up from cute little tykes to now high school students with bright futures. He and Chris did a terrific job as parents, and both Dustin and Skylar have paths of ripe opportunity ahead of them.

I have watched them both grow up, and couldn’t miss the chance to watch Dustin’s moment of glory in high school. He graduates in June, and this was his finest hour. He’s always been a super sweet kid, but he’s very sensitive and shy to the point of appearing distant. I was thrilled for him.

Max has always been concerned that Dustin might have a challenge finding his stride because of his low key demeanor, and I can see a parent’s concern for a child. It’s only natural to want to protect one’s flesh and blood, but after seeing Dustin on stage for his big showbiz debut, I know beyond certainty Max and Chris have nothing to worry about. That kid has a glowing hot future.

It sure doesn’t hurt that at 18 Dustin is 6’2” and has movie star good looks. He and Skylar both hit genetic grand slams, as she is a stunning blonde beauty herself. It’s one thing for parents to be proud of their kids, but I have nothing at stake here. Max and Chris are both good looking human specimens in their own right, but their kids are off the charts. Both of them should be in movies.

According to Max and Chris, Skylar has no interest in pursuing anything in show business. She is an athlete all the way, and loves to play basketball. I’ve seen a couple of her games in the past, and I cheer loudly and proudly for both of them no matter what they do. They are family to me.

Max always tells me how big of a fan of mine Dustin is, and he plays my CDs and DVD all the time and can do my routines by heart from memory. Last time I was in town he was finally of the age where he could sit in the audience at Donnie B’s and he had a blast. It was his first live show and he really loved it. The least I could do was support his show in return. This was his big day.

I arrived at Max’s house right at 3pm. Dustin and Skylar happened to be leaving, and their faces lit up upon seeing mine. It immediately told me I made the correct decision, even though it ended up using an entire day I could have used to work on my own stuff. I’m glad I went. Dustin was a smash, and I was just as proud as if he was my own son. Skylar too. This is what life is all about, and I’m especially proud of Max for breaking the chain. These two kids are SO not dented cans.

My friend Max Bumgardner and his wife Chris are breaking the chain with their two children who are not dented cans.

My friend Max Bumgardner and his wife Chris are breaking the chain with their two children who are not dented cans.

Their son Dustin had the lead role in his high school musical 'Back To The '80s'. I had to be there.

Their son Dustin had the lead role in his high school musical ‘Back To The ’80s’. I had to be there.

A Symphony Of One

September 8, 2013

Thursday September 5th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Des Plaines, IL/Rockford, IL

   If there’s anyone else anywhere who has as many projects going as I do with little to no payoff, I’d love to meet them belly to belly and have lunch if for no other reason than to assure myself it isn’t just me out here trying to be a one man symphony orchestra. Sometimes I feel totally alone.

   I love doing what I do, but I don’t love the hectic nature of how I do it. At least a little stability would sure be nice, but one of the reasons I have so many things going is to hopefully hit on one idea so I can back off of the others and focus. That’s easier said than done, and I’m wearing thin.

   Today I had another jam packed day as I got up at 4am to work on organizing my comedy class notes and lesson plans for the coming fall schedule. There is still a solid possibility of Bill Gorgo and me getting a publishing deal, and we’ve been working out our sample chapter in the last few weeks. It’s a LOT of work – which I don’t mind – but also a major sucker of valuable free time.

   It’s a gamble, but one that has to be taken. Getting a publishing deal would add immeasurable credibility to what we’re already doing, and allow us to hopefully become the standard bearers in the teaching of standup comedy techniques. I’ve got this much time and energy already invested, why not take it to the absolute pinnacle? That’s what we’re shooting for, but it takes a full effort.

   Next on the list was getting to a location near O’Hare Airport to record some video rants in full regal splendor as The King of Uranus. This was the last thing I wanted to do today, but there was a camera person on the clock and studio set up involved. There was no way I would blow it off.

   What made it much more difficult was that I had problems with my computer printer and could not print out the revisions I made to the material. They’re basically the rants I did on the radio on 97.9 The Loop in Chicago in 2004 reworked and updated, but not having scripts made it harder.

   Even harder than that, there was a power outage at the location where we recorded and that put even more pressure on cranking it out. We’d all invested time and energy to make this date work, so not having anything to show for it would have been a huge downer. Fortunately, we worked it out and ended up putting six rants in the can to be edited for insertion on the site by next month.

    I’ll have my own King of Uranus channel, and will get to crank out content that hopefully will get hits for both the site and the character. Again, it’s a risk for us all but one we agreed was well worth taking. It requires time and energy to roll all these dice, and that’s why I’m spread so thin.

   It was physically and mentally draining to do the rants, as I had to stand in costume in front of hot lights and by the time it was done I was a sweaty pig. We took and retook shots, but felt they turned out well. It’s all part of the process, and today was the day to put in all of the grunt work.

   After that it was back to Rockford to fill in on WNTA from 3 to 5pm. I knew I-90 was going to be brutal with construction, and it absolutely was. That drains more energy, not to mention doing the actual radio show. That went well too, as I continue to feel more comfortable in the talk radio format. It was another full productive day, but I don’t know long I can keep up this manic pace.

The Chain Breaker

August 23, 2013

Wednesday August 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

    For one million dollars free and clear in unmarked $50 bills, I couldn’t honestly tell you what I did on my 18th birthday. That was such a long time ago now it just blends in to the big blur that is life. One would assume it should be a special event to be cherished forever, but it wasn’t for me.

   I know what I didn’t do. I didn’t get high or drunk, as that’s never been my style. I didn’t have any parties or celebrations either. There was no big family get together or anything like that. My life was never ‘normal’, and by that time it was already going in a different direction than most.

   That direction was south. I was on my own by 17, having to scrape together a living by night as I finished high school during the day. I seriously thought about dropping out, but my grandfather was in the final stages of cancer and made it his last request that I finish. My father dropped out, and Gramps was completely embarrassed by it. I didn’t want to cause him more pain so I did it.

   I started my adult life in a big hole, and I’ve been digging my way out ever since. I had no time to party and chase chicks like most other kids my age, so I did what I had to do to survive. By the time I was 21 I was already getting started in comedy, and it was a long uphill climb from there.

   My birthday is in March, and Gramps died in December of the year I turned 18. That’s when I needed him most, but too bad for me. When he died, the already delicate relationships I had with the rest of the family collapsed immediately and World War III broke out in full bloody combat.

   My belligerent old man who was never there for me suddenly tried to step in and call the shots in my life and that went over like an accordion in Led Zeppelin. At first I tried the polite route to make an attempt at a father-son relationship, but that lasted just a few weeks before it got ugly.

   I don’t take bullies well, and that’s exactly what that bastard was – especially to anyone weaker or smaller than him. He treated all of his children like personal property, and I for one absolutely refused to take it. I got in his face, and the more I stood up to him the more he would back down.

   It’s never a pleasant time to be at war with one’s father, but that was an especially volatile time to be in that situation. Adolescence and puberty and all that goes with them are difficult enough, but not having parental support makes it downright scary. I’m surprised I didn’t turn to booze or drugs or crime, but I didn’t. For whatever reason, that just wasn’t in me. It’s not my personality.

   I vowed I was going to prove to everyone – especially the cantankerous ogre that was supposed to be a nurturing father and not my most hated enemy – that I was better than where I came from, and I wasn’t going to let anyone take my life or my dreams away from me. I chased the showbiz dream thinking I’d ace it in a hurry, but that provided a whole new set of political games to play.

   I made a ton of mistakes in comedy, but there was nobody there to reel me in. Gramps was the one steadying mentor figure in my life, but he was long gone at the time I needed guidance most. I made my choices with very limited perspective, and it launched my life path on an unnecessary detour that diluted my dream. With all of that on my plate, I’m surprised I made it as far as I did.

   What really hurt was the bubbling cauldron of anger I carried with me for so many years. I lost years of productive time I should have been growing and learning to focus on getting revenge on a psychopath who shouldn’t have had children in the first place. What a useless waste of youth.

   The reason I’m trudging up all this ancient mud from the past is my friend Max Bumgardner’s son Dustin turned 18 today. I couldn’t be more proud of Dustin if he was my own son – and Max is as high on my list as anyone can get. He’s one of my closest confidants and has been for years.

   Not only do I think Max is unbelievably talented and one of the smartest people I know – he is also a big time dented can. Max’s father is frighteningly similar to mine, and I knew right away when we first met that we were kindred spirits. Max has fought his whole life to break out of his father’s shadow, and his path has been no easier than mine. It’s like trying to sprint in knee deep sloppy mud while carrying two full bags of groceries and a watermelon. It’s an impossible task.

   Max and I became close when we worked on the morning show at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago in 2004, but after we got fired we became even closer. He struggled with a lot of the same issues I did, and more than a few times we’d talk each other off a cliff when things got really difficult.

   We kept each other going, and were one of the few people the other could go to when life took a nasty turn. Dented cans can only relate to the pain of other dented cans, much like women trade stories about how painful their pregnancies were. I can sympathize, but I can’t truly empathize.

    I knew exactly where Max’s pain was coming from, and he knew mine. I never met his father, but we talked on the phone a few times on the radio. He actually seemed kind of nice, but that’s a very common trait of psychotic tyrants. Ted Bundy was nice enough to lure his victims to where he could do his deeds, and that was it. It was an act. My father often appeared gentle to outsiders.

    The pride of Max’s life has always been his two kids Dustin and Skylar. I have watched them both successfully grow from cute kids to solid young adults. Max has gone out of his way to be a world class father, and he has done a spectacular job. I remember sitting with Max and Dustin at a Bears game in Chicago in 2004, and what a beautiful father-son moment it was for those two.

   Max tells me all the time that Dustin looks up to me as an uncle figure. He plays my CDs over and over and Max told me I’m his ‘personal Rodney Dangerfield’. I remember how much I loved Rodney when I was that age, and to be put in that class is as flattering as it gets. I’m very grateful to have had Max and his family as friends all this time, and to see Dustin turn 18 is a major thrill.

   I don’t see Dustin all that often these days, but through the years we’ve enjoyed all kinds of fun times. I could see at an early age he was a wonderful kid filled to the brim with potential. He has an extremely sharp mind and is a gentle and loving soul – just like his dad. He’s got all the tools.

   He will have problems as we all do, but there won’t be that ugliness that goes with being from a rotten family situation. Any of us who have been through it know how sickening it is, and those who didn’t never truly will. I’m glad they won’t, and wish nobody had to. It’s not how I thought life should be – but for some of us it is. Dustin Bumgardner caught a break, and I’m glad he did.

   Max and I are always going to have deep scars of a painful childhood, but he showed courage to the tenth power for not turning right around damaging his own kids. It takes guts to break the chain of dysfunction, and Max has totally done it. I couldn’t be more delighted to see it happen.

   I called and left Dustin a message wishing him a happy birthday and telling him how proud he has made both his parents and me, and I meant every word of it. Max said it was a special day in his life, and he’s already ahead of ours by light years. Good for him. Dustin is the chain breaker.

Spike’s Big Night

July 22, 2013

Sunday July 21st, 2013 – Evanston, IL

   I can’t think of too many things that feel better than a friend remembering a birthday, so that’s why I try to do it whenever I can. It’s not all that difficult, but it really makes a difference. I love the beaming look of joy on someone’s face when they are truly surprised, and it never gets old.

   Today was my friend Spike Manton’s 50th birthday. He’s a very low key guy when it comes to any kind of celebrations, and I learned from his wife Tami that he’d made specific instructions to NOT under any circumstances have any kind of party or make a big deal of it. That’s how he is.

   As luck would have it, our mutual friend and fellow member of the morning show on 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago Max Bumgardner was going to be in town for a Monday business meeting so I suggested we go over and pay Spike a surprise birthday visit – especially since he didn’t want it.

   Spike, Max and I are like brothers, and I’m sure it will be that way for life. Being on a morning radio show tends to bond people together, as it can be such an intense experience. I can’t think of many jobs other than an astronaut where that much intimacy between workers exists constantly.

   How many spouses speak to each other four hours a day, five days a week from 5-9am? I doubt if there are many, and those that do probably have some epic battles. Spike, Max and I got along extremely well, and we enjoyed each other’s company on air and off. We had a rare chemistry.

   The human dingle berries of the vaunted Emmis Communications happened to be way too full of themselves to know what they had, so they chose to blow us out the door when the station was sold in 2004. They proceeded to make stupid decision after stupid decision, and now they’ve lost the station and their stock is worthless. I can’t say any of the three of us have ever shed one tear.

   What I can say is that we’ve remained friends, and every time we get together it’s like we were never apart. I’ve heard pro athletes talk about that feeling, as have military veterans. The bonding in intense situations lasts for life, and believe it or not a morning radio show can be very intense.

   There’s no use bitching about what went wrong, but the bottom line is that we got a bloody red raw deal and it’s too late to do anything about it now. What we have is our lasting friendship that will continue as long as we’re alive, and I thought it was important to visit Spike on his big day.

   I met Max at his hotel in Schaumburg, and we had about a half hour drive to Spike and Tami’s house in Evanston. We stopped and got a card, and bought him a Dunkin’ Donuts gift certificate because he used to suck down their coffee by the gallon every morning. It was the perfect gift for him, and I had some obscure sports books I knew he’d like so we threw those in to top it all off.

   We arrived at 6:30 – to the minute when Tami told us to be there. He was in the basement with his daughter, who was distracting him so he’d stay down there so we could surprise him. It was a perfect plan, as we walked downstairs and ambushed him with his gifts. He was truly surprised.

   Even though Spike is very dry and non emotional, we could tell he was glad to see us. The look in someone’s eyes in a situation like that never lies. We had a wonderful dinner, and had a lot of laughs to go with it. Spike and Tami’s kids Mickey and Samantha have grown into beautiful and well behaved teens, and that also reminded us how time waits for nobody. Spike is a great friend, as is Max. Was it worth losing our jobs how we did for their friendships? I say absolutely yes.

The War Inside

April 15, 2013

Sunday April 14th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   My business sense has been growing remarkably stronger of late, but I think I still have a long way to go before I can get too excited about anything. There’s a big war going on with that and my inner ‘artiste’, and I can’t claim any victories just yet. This is a time I must tread very lightly.

   By all accounts, ‘Schlitz Happened!’ has the potential to be a big hit – probably the biggest and best project I’ve ever done. I don’t know how much that’s saying, as I haven’t pulled off as many big projects as I’d have liked. I attempted more than a few, but they didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.

   For various reasons, I’ve never had a major hit with anything I’ve ever done. There hasn’t been that signature piece of work I’m known for that all artistic people seek. I was close with the radio job I had in Chicago at 97.9 ‘The Loop’, but the station got sold just as we were starting to gel. It was none of our faults, but we took the hit anyway. For whatever reason, that timing was wrong.

   This project feels completely different. It feels like my timing is dead on perfect, as Milwaukee people have a desire to go back to a safer time in their past and seek refuge from the insanity of a crazy world in which we live. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I can sense I have hit a nerve.

   That being said, I wasn’t thrilled about my performance in either show last night. I wasn’t able to knock either one out of the park like I know I can, but that’s just not realistic. I’m just starting, and nobody starts anything from zilch without at least a few growing pains. I need to be careful.

   I know what I am capable of as a live performer, and quite honestly when it’s going well few if any others can match my energy level. When I’m hot, I’m hot. Last night I was not. It wasn’t my best performance, even though I did hear plenty of sincere compliments from many who came.

   It didn’t help that Joe San Felippo and Bob Rech were there, and they watched both shows. I’m not worried about them firing me or anything, but they’re the ones who gave me this shot and my inner artiste wants to knock them both flat on their asses to prove they made the correct decision.

   This is a feeling deeply rooted in all dented cans. We’ve been mocked and ridiculed most if not all of our lives – usually by someone extremely close to us. More often than not it’s a father issue and the pain runs so deep we’d do anything to hear him say even the slightest words of approval.

   I know I’m not alone in this, but few ever talk about it out loud. Once in a while I’ll manage to get a fellow performer to ‘fess up about having daddy issues, and it’s always the reason he or she got into the business in the first place. Why so many fathers are cold hearted ogres is beyond me.

   Once in a while it’s someone else. Johnny Carson’s mother was the source of his approval need and he admitted it. No matter how big of a star he became, she never would give him the support he craved from her. All of us have that need to be loved and accepted, but in performers it’s even stronger. Look at all of the brutal sacrifices we make in our lives to get even a little. It’s amazing.

   Those deep inner scars are very slow to heal, and old habits die painfully hard. We’re so used to needing acceptance to the point of desperation, we’ll knee jerk react to situations where things don’t go as we planned in our mind’s eye. That’s something most of us fight, and I’m fighting it after two shows I wasn’t thrilled with last night. Nobody but me felt that way, and even Joe and Bob said it’s a work in progress and we’re just getting started. I need to shut up and know it’s ok.

2004 No More

February 1, 2013

Thursday January 31st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Somewhere in my scrambled rat race of a life there needs to be a master plan. I thought I had at least a loose one at one point, but I’m nowhere close to making it how I’d pictured. Life was on a steady path upward with a bright future in 2004 when I was working on the morning show at The Loop in Chicago. I was on the cusp of having everything I ever wanted – but life had other plans.

I still don’t know why we got so close to pay dirt and then had it yanked out from under us for no real reason other than the company got sold and the new owners were clueless hillbillies. That wasn’t our fault, but it sure did affect the futures of my partners and me. We’re all still suffering.

Granted, that was years ago and I know we all need to “just get over it already” like everybody keeps telling us but opportunities of that magnitude don’t come along every day. We were poised for a nice long run, and chances are we’d still be on the air today. That was the plan when we got hired, and it was starting to go exactly how it was intended until the sale happened unexpectedly.

Eric and Kathy is the biggest morning radio show in Chicago, and they were a sister station of ours. The plan was they’d get the female listeners and we’d get the males. Fine with us, but radio for the most part has about as much stability as a Kardashian marriage and we were out the door.

OK, fine. But what’s next? I’ve been through plans B, C, D and so many others that I’m almost through the alphabet and back to plan A again. I don’t know what’s more frustrating, not coming close to one’s life goals or coming within striking distance of achieving them all and not doing it.

All I have ever wanted in my adult life was to be a successful standup comic with enough fans that come out to see me that earns me a nice living. My standards are low, and it wouldn’t take a whole lot to make me financially secure for life. I know I have the ability, it just hasn’t hit yet.

I was well on my way in 2004. We were starting to get recognized on the air, and I could feel it at the comedy clubs in and around Chicago. I was getting on stage constantly, and Zanies wanted to sign me to an exclusive deal for great pay to work several times a year. The station was setting up a huge charity comedy event for New Year’s Eve of 2004 and I was going to be the headliner.

None of that ever happened, and here I sit with my education trying to scrape up enough to pay my rent every month and not drive a car I got for free from a friend of mine that keeps costing all I have to keep it running. That sure wasn’t what I was picturing I’d be doing now back in 2004.

The truth is everyone has their own 2004 somewhere. There’s always woulda, coulda, shouldas in all our lives, but it’s what we do afterward that defines who we are. As much as I hate to admit it even now, they’re not going to call me back and admit they made a mistake. That ship sailed.

But what’s the new one? I still like performing on stage and on air, but who’s passing out jobs these days? I’m still out there slugging, but the circumstances are a lot different than they used to be. I’m older and it’s getting harder to stay in the race. I hope the only break I’ll get isn’t my hip.