Posts Tagged ‘beer’

100,000 Fans

February 6, 2013

Tuesday February 5th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Time to get to work on ‘Schlitz Happened!’ I’m thrilled for the chance to do it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of preparation involved. I want this to be the launching of a brand that will be sellable for years – even if it’s only to a very limited market. That market will be very loyal.

The appeal of this show in my mind is that it’s an insider’s club. If you happened to grow up in or around the Milwaukee area before about 1990ish, you’ll find it entertaining. If you didn’t, you will probably stare at it like watching a foreign movie without subtitles. I’ll be talking gibberish.

What’s good for me is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who will get exactly what I’m doing, and they’ll be my audience. Lenny Bruce spoke of wanting 100,000 fans and he’d put a career together entertaining those 100,000 over and over again. That’s what I’m looking to do.

Assuming there are 100,000 fans in the greater Milwaukee area that will love this show and be willing to come out and see it, how long would it take for everyone to see it once? This particular run at the Northern Lights Theatre wouldn’t come close to serving them all, and that’s totally ok.

It’s not realistic to expect to get booked there every week, but if it’s a hit how about a 100 seat venue of some sort? That seems like a doable number, and even three shows a week would make me a nice living for quite a while. Even if I did it one or two weekends a month I could do well.

I’d prefer to stay in one location – especially since I enjoy working for Potawatomi so much. If we can work out a deal there, I’m fine with it. Nobody will know until after April, so it’s nothing to even concern myself with now. What I need to do is focus all effort on getting ready for April.

I met with Mark Filwett of Lake County Geeks to put finishing touches on a website. He came up with a dead on design for the main page which features a classic collage of Milwaukee photos that convey the exact message I’m looking to give with the show. It’s all of what Milwaukee has been about for decades from beer to bowling to baseball to bratwurst. He nailed what I wanted.

The site will be up soon at www.schlitzhappened.com. I also got www.schlitzhappens.com, as I know people will confuse the title, at least at first. Mark gets the concept, and having a website is crucial to get customers who don’t live in Milwaukee anymore but would still enjoy the show.

I’ll bet there are at least 100,000 but probably a lot more that don’t live in the area anymore but would love to see a show like this. I’m going to have some local themed merchandise as well, so a functional website will be one of my wisest investments. I am claiming this base of customers.

There are a ton of potential products I could come up with, and I intend to do exactly that. The first and most important one is the actual show though, but I’m confident I can pull that off with nary a glitch. I’ve been performing my whole life, and this is right in my wheelhouse. I know all the material because I’ve lived it. It’s all ingrained deep within my soul just like it’s inside all the souls of the people who will become the biggest fans.  If I can get 100,000 of them, I’m golden.

Back To Milwaukee I Go

January 20, 2010

Tuesday January 19th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Never say never. There was a time when I could not WAIT to escape my home town of Milwaukee, WI. It was my life’s mission. Even as a kid, I knew I didn’t want to live there very long and as soon as I could leave, I hopped on the first Greyhound bus out of town.

I’ll never forget it. I was working at a restaurant called “Rustler Steak House” across the street from the Southgate Mall on South 27th Street in 1982. The Brewers had just lost the World Series and the nasty cold of a Wisconsin December with Christmas coming wasn’t an exciting prospect for happiness so I left my job in mid shift and bought the bus ticket.

I was 19 at the time and not sure what life was about, but I did know I wanted to live it anywhere but Milwaukee. Warm weather was the first target but all I could afford to buy with the money I’d saved was a ticket to Dallas, TX. I don’t know why I picked Dallas of all places, but I did. Maybe it was because I could afford a round trip ticket, which I got.

That trip was one of the best things I ever did. It was the first of countless cross country adventures I’d have over the next almost thirty years and at the time it took a lot of guts to chuck everything and DO something exciting. I thought I’d planned for it but I did a poor job and ended up having to use that return ticket a day after I got there. I wasn’t ready yet.

Coming back to Milwaukee was pure torture. It was cold and everyone I knew made fun of me for ‘failing’ in my bid to start a new life somewhere. I hadn’t failed, I just needed to learn a few more things which I eventually did. But at the time, I was feeling pretty low.

I went back to grovel for my job back at the Rustler Steak House but they wouldn’t give it to me right away. They wanted to ‘teach me a lesson’ and I guess they did. It taught me to rely on myself, which I’ve had to do since. Then I remember getting my job back after a while and then the restaurant closed and went out of business, leaving us all dangling.

I bounced around several other horrific low paying dead end jobs from restaurants to car dealerships as a lot boy to anything else I could do to survive. My grandparents raised me but my grandfather had died and that threw the family into a full scale war by that time.

It was all I could do to support myself then, much less try for college. I was all alone in a cold ugly world, and that world was Milwaukee at the time. I found it to be an alcoholic cesspool of  lowlife dysfunctional idiots who weren’t interested in bettering themselves.

They had no ambition to rise above anything other than their boring no brainer factory jobs, their bowling teams, and their beer. LOTS of beer. Milwaukeeans sure love to suck down their suds, and with most it’s a way of life. I never drank, so I never fit in either.

Over the next few years, I kept struggling to survive but eventually discovered standup comedy as a means to get me out of town. It was a rocky start, but I stayed with it and am SO glad I did. Comedy is what gave me hope and what kept me from swallowing a bullet.

As soon as I was able to leave Milwaukee, I did. I had a horrible family life, didn’t like the whole booze soaked mindset that embraced mediocrity, had no wife and kids to hold me back and knew the entertainment scene was pathetic to the point of embarrassment so I moved to Chicago in the mid ‘80s. I don’t remember the exact year, but it was fantastic.

It’s amazing how 90 miles on a map can be 90 million light years in life. Chicago had a comedy scene and I quickly became part of it and cut my teeth as an entertainer. I learned my craft and enjoyed my life and knew the first week I was there I made the right choice.

Then as life opened up, I took some chances and started in radio and that’s when things started to get all cloudy and convoluted. I ended up back in Milwaukee at 93QFM later on but that ended in total disaster. Still, something inside yearned to be a star there. I wanted to prove to those who doubted that I was worth something after all, especially my father.

It’s a common story in show business and life in general. We all want to gain approval from family, friends, lovers or whomever else we feel we need to impress. I admit that my main focus was on ‘sticking it’ to everyone, but what a waste of time all of that is. I know it now, but I hadn’t learned that then. I wasted a lot of time and caused myself much pain.

Who needs any of that? I’ve survived until now and although I made a ton of mistakes I regret horribly, I’m still in the game and in a much better mindset. I’ve learned a lot and it shows. Supposedly we’re here on Earth to learn lessons. Well, I’ve earned my doctorate.

All that being said, I drove up to Milwaukee today to meet with Richard Halasz. He’s a comedian friend I’ve known over 25 years, and he’s now promoting some shows as well. I told Richard about my one man show about growing up in Milwaukee and he absolutely loved the concept. He’s got me booked in Saukville at the Railroad Station on March 13.

Granted, Saukville is not where I pictured this show to be, but he says the people came out and supported shows he’s done out there with Will Durst and wanted to try something else. I’m willing to give it a shot so we went out there today to look at the room. I looked it over and met one of the owners and everyone seemed like nice people so we’ll let it rip.

If you’d told the clueless angry hurt kid who got on that bus in 1982 he’d be looking to return to Milwaukee to do shows, he’d have flipped you off and walked away. Now, it’s a whole new adventure and I’m really looking forward to it. I know I can pull this off for an audience that grew up in the same place I did. The difference is, I’m able to accept it now.

Milwaukee is what it is, but it sure is unique. After seeing everywhere else in America, I have a whole different perspective now. That time in my life would have been horrible no matter where I lived. It took many years to see that, but I have. I’ve matured greatly.

I doubt if I’ll ever live in Milwaukee again, but I’m close enough to be able to pull this off. I’m going to craft a show about my hometown and share it with others who grew up where I did. I’ll turn a negative into a positive and also make a few bucks for my trouble.