Posts Tagged ‘Bert Haas’

Looking Down The Road

March 12, 2010

Thursday March 11th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

People have been teasing me all day about having gout, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a pleasant alternative to having to get knee surgery I couldn’t pay for right now so a couple of jokes at my expense are no big deal. Bring it on. I’ll start worrying when I get leprosy.

The fact remains, I’m getting older and I feel it. Mentally, I’ve always been significantly older than my actual age. Even as a kid, most of my friends were older than me and that’s still the case. People I hang around the most like Jim McHugh, Marc Schultz, Bill Gorgo, Bert Haas, Jerry Agar and all the Kidders are all at least a couple of years older than me.

Allegedly, Pisces is the astrological sign that signifies the old souls. I’ve been told many times I’m one, but who knows if any of that’s true? I am who I am, but even as a kid I felt out of place in this life. I still do, no matter how hard I’ve tried to find a place for myself.

I’m starting to head into the final stages, and there’s no guarantee how long that will be. It could be thirty years, thirty days or thirty minutes so I thought about what I should start to do with the rest of my life to achieve the smartest and most productive results possible.

What really hit home today was that I need to start cranking out products and keep it up until I’m out of ideas or out of breath, whichever comes first. I’ve got a full 25 years in as a touring comedian along with an off and on 20 in the radio business. I also have 15 years in as a comedy teacher, so that’s a lot of different life experience on which to draw from.

I paid my dues and learned my crafts, but now it’s time to take that and put it into things I can pass on to others. I want to do things that benefit people long after I’m gone, even if I can’t be there to see it. I don’t know why it’s important to me, but for some reason it is.

No matter how hard I try to figure out the meaning of life, the less of a solid answer I’m getting. At least I’m getting some kind of an idea of where I want to go, but I look around at life in general and I see the majority of people stumbling through it with no inner drive or direction other than to get drunk, laid and party. There doesn’t seem to be much else.

This world is full of idiots, and I don’t know a nicer way of saying it. If there is a God, I wonder if that was intentional? There are a comparative few who try to make the most of whatever talents they’ve been given, but the majority of humans aren’t worth the trouble.

Alexander Hamilton said “The masses are asses” and that was in 1790. I haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement since then. Yes, there are a lot of wonderful people around but they’re way outnumbered by the herd of halfwits that keep NASCAR and rap in business.

I don’t want to be so cynical, but the picture gets clearer every day. My grandfather was a sharp cookie and much the same way and it feels like I’m becoming him a little bit more every day. He was hilarious, kind and smart, but also had a dark side. He died unfulfilled, and I don’t want that to be me. I want to squeeze out every last bit of potential I have left.

A Night With Friends

February 17, 2010

Monday February 15th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Tonight, for only the second time in recorded history, Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago billed their show as ‘Friends Of Dobie Maxwell’. Basically, I held down the fort because the booker Bert Haas wanted to have a Monday off. I don’t have a problem with that and I totally understand, but a lot of wannabes read a lot more into it. They think I have power.

Most Monday nights are showcase nights and I host those whenever I’m available. I’ve kind of inherited the job over the last couple of years, only because nobody else wanted it. I looked at it as Monday money is never a bad thing, plus I was already coming to Zanies to teach my classes. Why not stay an extra two hours and earn food money for the week?

The majority of those who come through the Monday showcases are decent people. It’s great experience to do a six minute audition set anywhere, and this is a good opportunity for many of these kids, even though probably half or more aren’t ready to be booked yet.

A common mistake most newbies make is getting a few halfway decent minutes they’ve done ten times or less, and then taking that to every comedy club within 1100 miles of the place they’re from, and they shoot themselves in the foot by doing that. They’re not ready.

Plus, in a situation like Zanies, it hurts them even more. Bert Haas has been booking the club for over twenty years, and he’s seen everyone from Jay Leno to Jerry Seinfeld to just about every other top flight comedian from the 20th Century to now. How’s a little Johnny Fuzznuts, 22 year old rookie greenhorn from Green Bay, going to impress a Bert Haas?

They’re not. But they all think they’re going to be ‘the one’ that makes Bert take notice and immediately insert them as a headliner for big money, bumping everyone else in their path out of the way and making them the hot new thing in comedy. I think they think that. I see some of these kids strut around the back of the club, then go up and eat it big time.

It’s happened time and time again, even when Bert tries to lay it out for each of them in a pre-show meeting he has before each Monday showcase. He looks at me from his perch in the back of the room when another young punk goes down in flames, and rolls his eyes at me as I smile. We’re the two old farts trying to be patient as we watch rookie mistakes.

Since I’ve been associated as the regular host of the showcase shows, many think that I must have an inner track to Bert’s ear. I don’t. He books who he books. All I’m in charge of his hosting the shows. Period. Still, I get all kinds of emails and calls asking me to help someone get past Bert’s rules and squeeze them in. It’s to the point of being maddening.

Now, since the show is billed ‘Friends of Dobie Maxwell’, a few people think I’ll be in charge now and have some booking clout. WRONG. I’m just filling in so Bert can have a night off to spend with his family. I’m not booking Zanies, and I don’t have any authority. Hopefully that will slow the requests down, but I doubt it. I’ll deal with it later. Tonight’s show was really strong, and I’m sure I’ll most likely be asked to do one again. And I will.