Posts Tagged ‘America’s Got Talent’

The Unforgiving Wheel

February 24, 2014

Saturday February 22nd, 2014 – Mattoon, IL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Dice Of Destiny

March 28, 2013

Wednesday March 27th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Atlanta, GA

   Here I go with yet another random roll of the dubious dice of destiny. I am in Atlanta this week to be a part of a prestigious comedy event called ‘Laughing Skull Festival’ and I am excited to be included in it. A huge number of comedians apply to be accepted, and a scarce few make the cut.

It’s designed to be a gathering place for industry people to find the next big thing. I guess it’s a comedy equivalent of the NFL Draft Combine. The powers that be all gather in one place to kick a few tires and compare notes on who the next big stars may or may not be. Eyes are a watching.

All I need is the correct pair to see me and it can open some serious doors. I’ve paid my dues to get here, and I’m not nervous in the least – not now anyway. I doubt if I will be when it’s time to go on stage either. I’ve put my time in and I’ve ripened. I’m ready to be plucked from the vine.

I’m one of the oldest participants here, and that gives me a distinct advantage. I’ve played the role of hotshot young punk, and a lot of mistakes can be made in situations like this. I won’t get intimidated by anything or anybody, and that’s a plus. I know exactly what needs to be done.

In a nutshell, need to get in front of someone who can open some new doors. Exactly who that is I’m not sure, but allegedly they’re going to be here this week. I need to go up and show what I can do, and also show why I’m different than any other idiot trying to get seen. It’s an audition.

They’re running a contest format, and my first round appearance isn’t until tomorrow night but I wanted to make sure I got to town a night early to avoid possible travel hassles, etc. I’m sharing a rental car and a room with a funny kid out of Louisville, KY named Jacob Williams. He’s now living in Chicago, and he’s been getting some attention in the clubs around town and on TV too.

Jacob is 24, and has been on ‘America’s Got Talent’ several times. I like him, and see a bright future for him if he stays with it. He’s already been doing it six years, and that’s even earlier than I started. A lot of kids are getting started younger and younger these days, and I don’t know what to think about it. It’s fine as far as stage experience goes but comedy comes from life experience.

I feel like I’m traveling with my comedy son. Jacob is hungry to learn, but he’s also very green as far as road experience. He’ll learn a lot from me on this trip, and we had fun on the drive from Chicago talking about comedy from all angles. The game has changed a lot since I was his age.

We stopped at The Punch Line on our way down, a legendary comedy club that’s been around since the beginning like a Zanies in Chicago or Comedy Castle in Detroit. I haven’t been inside that place in years, and it brought memories flooding back as I looked at the 8×10’s on the wall.

There were early promo shots I’d never seen before of big stars, and others I hadn’t heard of in years. Many of the comics pictured have died, and that was a wakeup call too. We made it to our hotel in downtown Atlanta, and of course they were sold out and we got stuck in the handicapped room. There’s also a $15 a day parking fee nobody mentioned. That’s how it goes in the big city.