Posts Tagged ‘Beverly Arts Center’

Three Times A Kidder

February 28, 2010

Saturday February 27th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

“You’re On The Air!” starring Jerry’s Kidders performed live for the third time tonight at The Irish Heritage Center on the north side of Chicago. Even though 99.99999% of the planet, country, state or city couldn’t have cared any less – we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

We’re in a very difficult situation and it’s too bad, as there really is something with this concept. The show is funny, and I’m not saying that just because I’m in it. We hadn’t put a lot of time and effort into it since our last performance at the Beverly Arts Center, but it all fell together again as we started rehearsing. We ended up having our best show yet.

Too bad the circumstances weren’t the greatest. We had a lot to overcome, but we made up our minds we weren’t going to complain until after the show. We kept it all positive in a situation where it could have easily gotten ugly very quickly. I was proud of everyone.

There was a lot of miscommunication all around. When we arrived at the venue was the first time we discovered there wasn’t a light and sound technician, nor was there a way to do blackouts between scenes. Our show is written that way, so we were in quite a pickle.

Also, the stage was WAY smaller than we were expecting, and backstage availability to change costumes between scenes wasn’t available either. It was a major bomb on all of us and it would have been very easy to just can it and not do it at all. Tim Slagle, Ken Sevara and I calmly talked about it and decided this was what we had to work with so we’d do it.

That was a conscious decision we all made as a group, and nobody raised their voices or whined about it after that. Jerry Agar was out of town all week filling in on a radio station in Toronto so he can keep his house, so nobody can fault him for that. He showed up later and we all decided we were going to pull off a show no matter what, and we actually did.

The room we were in was gorgeous, and for a standup show it would have been stellar. I’d still love to do a standup show in there at some point, but for our play it was a difficult fit. The lighting wasn’t made for what we were doing and all around it was an adjustment we all had to make on the fly. It wasn’t convenient, but our options were extremely few.

The performance part ended up being really fun. We had our fans Fard Muhammad and John Vass and precious few others, and we appreciated them all. Those who did show up were great laughers, and they rolled with the circumstances and we ended up having fun.

I couldn’t be any more grateful for the fans we do have, and it’s a pleasure to be with an outstanding group of guys to work with in Jerry, Ken and Tim. For only our third show, it was not without it’s moments. We ad libbed some lines and we all felt ourselves growing.

Still, the reality is I don’t know how much longer we can keep doing these shows. This is getting to be an expensive hobby. We all took off comedy work to do this and nobody will be getting rich this week. Fun is fun, and this was, but we’ve got to turn a buck soon.

Opening Night Fever

January 18, 2010

Saturday January 16th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Tonight was the big debut performance of our play “You’re On The Air” at the Beverly Arts Center and we all agreed it was a smashing success. We’ve been working for months for this night and it’s here and gone. Nobody can take this away from us now – we did it!

What an absolute blast it was to pull this off in front of a live audience. Was it sold out? Were people camping out for tickets like Grateful Dead fans? Were tour buses coming in from the hinterlands packed with rabid followers? Frankly, we’re not ready for that yet.

This was a first time run through in front of a live audience and that was enough to keep us more than occupied the entire evening. We’re all new at this and we’re working out the bugs. I’ve read that the smart restaurants never have their grand opening on the first night they’re open. They make sure they have the details worked out first, THEN they let it rip.

That’s exactly what we’re doing, and it worked out perfectly. We had a very respectable crowd and it wasn’t just our friends and family. We had fans that came especially to show support, and we couldn’t be more grateful. We felt like stars, and who wouldn’t love that for a first time doing something? The audience was right there from start to the very end.

We’ve got three especially enthusiastic fans that have supported us from back when we were on WLS and continue to show up no matter what we do. We love all three but we’d never be able to rank them in order because they’re all fantastic people in their own way.

One is named John Vass. He has been a huge supporter of Jerry’s on the air to the point of building a fan page on Facebook. Another is Fard Muhammad, (pronounced Fa-ROD) who always shows up to see us and tells all his friends how funny we are. How flattering.

The one who stole the show this time was Shoshana Weissmann. She’s a teenager who lives in New York and heard Jerry when he was on WABC and became a huge fan. She’s been a supporter of the Kidders too, and not only is she a sweetheart she’s brilliant to the point of genius. For her birthday she asked her father to bring her to Chicago to see us.

How amazing is that? Shoshana and her father came by train and were there to see our debut performance. Before the show she came back stage and met us all and got pictures. She was shaking like she was meeting the Beatles, and we all made her feel special, and she is. We love John and Fard and all our fans, but how many come from New York?

This was just a wonderful night all around. The people who were there were there to see US, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted as an entertainer. We gave them our best, and it really was a solid show. We’ve got a few things to work out, but nothing big. We’re on target.

How many people in life get a chance as adults to do something this much fun? Not too many, and we all knew it. Problems can wait, this was our big night to go out and pretend to be thespians. We all savored the laughs and applause and it was a magnificent evening.

Love And Haiti

January 16, 2010

Friday January 15th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Another full day of play practice today, but that wasn’t really what’s on my mind. We’ll be able to pull this off when the curtain goes up tomorrow night. We’ve all put in a ton of time and effort getting this project to this point and I’m really pleased with how it’s come so far in a relatively short time. It doesn’t suck, and we’re not going to embarrass anyone.

Our lines are pretty much down by now, but today we did a full dress rehearsal to get an exact feel of how much time we have for costume changes and where we each need to be on stage during each of our scenes. We all blew some technical aspects, but that’s why we rehearse. Nobody did anything major, and we all knew right away where we screwed up.

Dale Irvin was very nice to have driven down to watch and support us and he had some very helpful notes, as did Vicki Quade. Vicki is a pro and has all kinds of productions up and running at any given time and she’s been absolutely essential to getting this all going.

Everyone we’ve been in contact with has added to the mix with this whole project. It’s really been a team effort all the way, and a whole lot of fun too. We’ve got costumes and a stage setup and the material flows very well from all of us. Mostly that’s because we’ve all been on stage before. This is our standup material presented in a much different way.

Vicki got us some nice articles in a few of the south side newspapers and that’s another reason we’re all glad to be working with her. She’s done this before, and knows what the papers want. We’ve done it too, but not in the theater scene. We’re thrilled about it all.

The hardest part of the work is over now. We went from idea to page to stage and today we all walked out of there knowing we will come back tomorrow and give a show we can all be proud of. No matter how many or few show up, they’re not going to get cheated out of their money and that’s all we can ask for. We hope they enjoy it, but that’s up to them.

The Beverly Arts Center is a gorgeous facility and we’re loving it more and more as we rehearse there. There’s a guy named Peter who’s helped with lighting and sound cues who has been super easy to work with as have everyone else we’ve met there. Their website is http://www.beverlyartcenter.org and they’ve got other great shows besides us. Check them out.

What’s really bugging me is what’s next? I really didn’t plan on this play taking up this much of my time and energy, and I’m already slipping behind on my plans for everything else I’m trying to get done in the new year. I’ll have to make some tough decisions on my next moves so I can get back on track. The play is up and running and out of our hands.

Vicki will act as our agent and either book us or not. That’s what she does, and she’s as good at it as anyone I’ve been around so who knows? Maybe we’ll be working a lot but if we don’t, I need to have a backup plan. Actually, THIS was my backup plan. I decided to invest the time with the Kidders to make this happen so we’d have something to possibly sell to earn some extra money, and I’ll be dipped in spit if we didn’t pull that off exactly.

That’s not what I was thinking about most of the day though. This whole Haiti situation is really bothering me. I feel SO sorry for the people who are suffering down there. I don’t care what color they are or if they drink goat’s blood or whatever they allegedly do, it just makes me sick that so many people have to go through something as horrific as they did.

What really makes it worse is that they were suffering in the first place. I can remember when I worked in Miami a dozen years ago how everyone always made fun of the Haitian people. They were the Polocks of the Caribbean, and everyone told Haitian jokes instead.

I love jokes as much as anyone, and the sicker and meaner the better. But those are just JOKES. Deep inside, I have to believe any human soul with kindness knows when to stop kidding and start showing compassion. This is that time. Those people are in a big hurt.

I’m not going to go off on any big rants or complain about politics or anything else I am not qualified to do. I’m a political idiot and I admit it. Of course I have opinions, but who said that means I know what I’m talking about? I spout my mouth off with what I feel, but nobody needs to hear that now. What needs to happen is a little help for our humankind.

When Katrina happened, it got ugly and political and everyone pointed fingers and it’s a scar on our country to this day. My opinions don’t matter about that either, but it seems to me there could have been a much better solution on all sides in that mess. Let’s hope that this doesn’t wind up as political ammunition. No matter who’s in charge, HELP THEM.

I wish I could do something to help, but what? I’m struggling to survive myself. I guess I could send a few bucks somewhere, but how do I know it would do any good? This is an opportune time for scammers unfortunately, and I’m sure they’ll be coming out very soon to prey on people like me who want to at least make an effort to show some compassion.

It’s my job to make jokes and poke holes in the insanity of life, but there’s not one thing funny about thousands of people losing their lives in a few seconds. And why them? Why is it all so random? Those people were already dirt poor, now this? Who’s in charge here?

I can piss and moan and complain with the best of them but this is not a time to do that. I have no problems at all compared to people in Haiti who have piles of rubble where the house they lived in used to be. All I have to worry about are my stupid little lines for my stupid little play that reflects my stupid little life. I may have problems, but not like that.

I also stopped to see a woman I’m very fond of, and that was a total disaster too. I’d not seen her in a while and wanted to reconnect. We’d gone out to dinner a few times and had what I thought was a good time but then she invites me over tonight and tells me how she has a new guy she’s seeing and how great he is. Why do women do that? I felt like an ass.

There must have been some crossed signals or something so I got in my car and deleted her number from my phone. I would have been pissed if I hadn’t thought of the people in Haiti who are sleeping on rubble tonight. My dating life really doesn’t matter very much.

Acting Like An Actor

January 15, 2010

Thursday January 14th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

With all the over the top, underfinanced, whacked out, half baked crazy schemes I have been involved in so far in my life, it’s a wonder I don’t have more acting experience. I’ve tried standup comedy, radio, pro wrestling promotion, sports card dealing and other goofy stunts that would have made Lucy and Ralph Kramden wince, but I’ve left acting alone.

Part of the reason is that I respect it as a craft. Anyone has to devote a lifetime to it to be truly skilled, just as in any other craft. Acting is no different than comedy or music or any other craft in that regard, and I was lucky enough to discover comedy early enough on so I devoted my energy to that. It scratched my creative itch and I never needed to be an actor.

That being said, I’ve filmed a part in a movie and am appearing in a play all in the same week. How strange. Up until now my acting experience has been painfully low. Last year I was in a short scene in a film that was directed by my high school friend Bob Richards’ son Kyle, but that was a last minute thing. He did me a favor and allowed me to do a part.

Before that, I was an extra in the movie “While You Were Sleeping”. I was in an actual scene with Sandra Bullock, and I played a mailman of all things. It didn’t take any acting talent to dress in a postal uniform and push a mail cart down the street. The real challenge was not trying to hit on Sandra Bullock as we stood around almost an hour, ten feet apart.

They told us as extras we weren’t supposed to approach the stars for any reason. I guess I can see that, but in my case it was ridiculous. It was filmed in winter and it was about as cold as I can ever remember, and in fact too cold to snow. They needed snow in the scene so they brought in a fake snow machine to fill in the set, and that took just over an hour.

There we were, Sandra Bullock and me, just feet apart. She stood there and for the life of me, I could NOT get her to look my way and say hello. She looked up, around, over at the snow machine, everywhere but in my direction. After a few minutes it got to be funny.

Usually I’m a pretty good schmoozer and can strike up small talk with most anyone, but not this time. Sandra was not a huge star then, but I love brunettes and I would have loved to at least be able to test my flirting skills on a cold day when there was nothing else to do but stand there and hope my testicles would return by spring. She never even said hello.

I’ve heard since that she’s a very nice person and who knows why she didn’t say hi to a lowly extra, but all these years later I haven’t forgotten it. That pretty much ended dreams I may have had to be in movies, but I really never did. All I ever wanted to be was a solid funny comedian. That’s all that mattered to me. I couldn’t care less if I was a good actor.

Now, it’s a little different. I had fun doing Kyle Richards’ movie and even more doing a few scenes with my friend Lou Rugani in “Dead Air” yesterday. Plus, there was an actress named Tierza Scaccia who was not only really good looking and talented, she actually did speak to me both on camera and off. What a great name that is, too. I hope she hits it big.
I’d love nothing more than to show up at the Oscars with Tierza on my arm and moon Sandra Bullock. Thoughts like this are probably why I’m not only not an actor, but still a single comedian in my 40s. I’ve always been prone to doing things on the maverick side, and the masses just aren’t ready for that yet. Sandra Bullock did things right, good for her.

Actually, I’m glad I chose standup comedy over acting. I suppose I could have done the ‘actor/comedian’ route, but that usually means ‘neither/nor’. No matter how many breaks that didn’t go my way, the fact remains that I have paid my dues and am a solid comedian and NOBODY can ever buy that. It has to be earned, just like the skills of a master actor.

My problem with acting is, I have to be someone else all the time. I guess that’s fun for some people, but I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. It never appealed to me to have to create a new persona over and over again as it takes to be a successful actor. I was fine with shining up the one I had doing comedy onstage. It’s a personal choice for all of us.

Many famous actors kind of just play themselves over and over. Adam Sandler is pretty much the same guy in all his movies as is Martin Lawrence or Eddie Murphy or a flock of other people who didn’t start out as standups. Does Chuck Norris have stage chops? What about Stallone or Arnold? None of these people are what I’d call craftsman. Would you?

Writing is another craft that looks easy and lots of people aspire to become. That takes a lot of discipline and effort too, but who’s willing to put it in? Not many. Those that do are quite rare, and even rarer are those who put in the effort and have real talent to go with it.

I’ve never considered myself a writer either, BUT – I’ve managed to produce an entry in this diary every single day since March 14th, 2006. Does that mean I’m a GOOD one? No, but it does mean I’m a writer to some degree just because I’ve kept cranking out the pages day after day after day. I may still stink, but I stink less now just because I kept doing it.

Acting is the same way. I bet there are ten times as many unknown mediocre Caucasian wannabes in Hollywood and all over who want to be actors, just as I’ve wanted to get into comedy. I paid my dues and chased the dream my whole life, just as I would’ve done had I chose to be an actor. The hard work requirement doesn’t change no matter the craft.

It was a lot of fun to be in the movie yesterday, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m some hidden gem that Hollywood is waiting for. If I really want to pursue it I need to be around it and study it. Acting classes wouldn’t hurt, and probably a few books as well. I don’t have time for all that right now, nor do I want to get involved in a whole new gig.

I love comedy, even though it’s an insane business. What, and acting isn’t? It’s a crazy world all around, so I’m glad I chose what I did. Comedy is the best there is, but that’s my opinion. Too bad, as that’s the only one I care about. No offense to actors, comedy is best.

Still, we’re going to have fun with “You’re On The Air” at The Beverly Arts Center this weekend. We had a dress rehearsal today and I had to act like an actor. I hope I fool them.

A Hectic Day Off

January 15, 2010

Wednesday January 13th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Today was supposed to be my only day off this week, but I ended up putting in a sixteen hour work day. How did that happen? I’m about ready to drop from exhaustion but I have to be right back up tomorrow morning to pick up Jerry Agar and drive to the Beverly Arts Center to begin final rehearsals for our play “You’re On The Air“. I’m running on fumes.

The new car smell of 2010 has worn off and now it’s just another year. Two weeks of it are gone already, and I feel myself getting totally overwhelmed. I’m in this play way over what I thought it would be, and fun or not it’s draining all my free time. I didn’t expect it to be this all inclusive, but it is. Today I went to Milwaukee to scour some thrift stores.

I know thrift stores very well, and can usually find what I need if I look hard enough for it. Usually I look for books or audio programs, but not today. I was trying to find costume pieces to go with the characters I play and it was a real challenge. I did it on Monday with Chicago junk shops and today I covered as many in Milwaukee as I could. It was a chore.

I know my way around Milwaukee and it’s thrift circuit quite well, but spending the day doing it is an energy drainer. I walked up and down row after row of junk seeing if I could find anything that jumped out at me that would fit into the show. That takes concentration and determination to keep focused but I hung in there and did it. This is our big weekend.

I was exhausted after that but I needed to get to Gateway Tech in Kenosha to appear in  the film “Dead Air” by Mark Gumbinger. He’s the director and co-writer and we’ve had him on our WLIP Mothership Connection radio show a few times. He’s been asking me to be in a film for a while now, and today was the day. It’s only my second movie role.

Mark has done a lot of directing of both feature films and documentaries and he’s a real pro. The schedule changed a couple of times, which is to be expected. He’s trying to get a big project done on a small budget, and if anyone can relate to that math problem, it’s me.

I was running a little late, but so was the shoot. That’s also to be expected. I had a much bigger part than I imagined, and quite frankly I hadn’t memorized any lines. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I just showed up willing to do what I needed to do. We ended up doing quite a bit of filming and I didn’t get out of there until almost midnight, but it went well.

I played a ‘stern but likeable’ radio station manager. Do any of those exist? I would bet I’d see a two headed albino leprechaun with webbed feet riding a unicorn before I’d see a ‘stern but likeable’ radio station manager. That was a challenge, but I think I pulled it off. Mark was very easy to work with and seemed happy with what we did. I’m glad I did it.

This is all a lot of unexpected effort I didn’t expect to be putting in, but I think it’s very worthwhile so I’m doing it anyway. It’s like a quarterback calling an audible at the line of scrimmage when the defense changes. I have an opportunity to gain some experience and learn different things so I’m investing time and energy while the situations are available.

WHEEEEEERE’S Johnny?

January 10, 2010

Saturday January 9th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

There’s a disturbance in the show business force, and I don’t like it. Not that it was ever ’normal’, but it seems to be crazier than ever lately. Rumors are all over the place that Jay Leno is going back to his old time slot on NBC in one form or another. Either he’ll share it with Conan O’Brien or Conan will get launched, depending on which articles I read.

My opinion about any of this means less than nothing, but I’ll give it anyway. I think it stinks worse than a 300 lb. trucker’s hemorrhoid cushion after a cross country trip in July from Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles on I-10. Network television appears to be loaded up with clueless imbeciles just as radio is, only I think these goofs have a lot more at stake.

I have nothing personal in any of this, as I don’t really watch late night talk shows at all. I just don’t. I’ve worked nights as a comedian the majority of my adult life, and the rest of it I did morning radio so I was fast asleep by the time any of those shows came on the air.

If I had to pick one, I do like Craig Ferguson and not just because I got to appear on the show. I just think his sense of humor matches best with mine. He makes me laugh. That’s a difficult gig and no disrespect whatsoever meant to Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon. There’s a whole lot of behind the scenes insanity nobody sees.

There has to be, it’s show business. I know how much frustration I had in radio dealing with Dorkasaurus Maximus, aka corporate dinosaurs. They all THINK they know what’s funny and entertaining, but in reality all they really do is grease up a very expensive suit. They all assume creativity comes in little chunks and can be summoned up on a whim.

I don’t know much about television, but I like to think I understand entertainment just a little. If Jay Leno was doing well in the spot he was in, why did they need to replace him? There must have been a reason for it, and I’m sure whichever ass kissing little know it all who suggested it is now selling used Volvos in his hometown so he can still use the suits.

The network took a risk by putting Jay in prime time, and it appears to be failing by all accounts from what I hear. But, what does ‘failing’ really mean? Many times ratings have all kinds of ways to be sliced up to look good or bad, at least they were in radio. The real question I have is, why did they decide to make it a prime time five nights a week show?

I think it was due to lack of vision and downright cheapness. It would take WORK and also a major money investment to craft five quality shows to put on NBC, so they tried to take what looked like the easy way out and just plug those holes with Jay Leno who was a known entity. I’m sure they just assumed everything would be fine and continue as it was.

That seemed like the solution apparently, but then all hell broke loose. They moved the rest of the lineup around and stuck Conan O’Brien where Jay used to be and brought in a new guy in Jimmy Fallon and now they have three new shows struggling to stay on the air when none of this had to happen at all. Now they seem to be in a state of complete panic.

However it all works out, I doubt if Jay Leno or Conan O’Brien are going to be sleeping in a bus station any time soon. What I think of are all the hard working people who have a dark cloud hanging over their heads right now. They don’t know what’s going to happen.

That kind of stuff trickles down, and there are people who work hard to survive that are having their stress levels tweaked to the max. It can’t be a lot of fun right now, and it’s all because some gooferinski pulled a trigger and thinks he or she knew all the easy answers.

Does ANYONE really care about the petty little stupid detail of entertaining America? I doubt it. They’re thinking bottom line and that’s fine, but the bottom line will be there if a show comes along and reaches the majority of good people who still make America tick.

Personally, of all the celebrity types around who might be a good choice for a host spot on a major talk show, I’d have to go with Jeff Foxworthy. Knowing him personally, I am a huge fan. He really is a down to earth nice guy, and I think that would show on the air.

Jeff has touched the public’s nerve with his Redneck angle, the one I was too stupid as a young kid in the business to see. Jeff saw it and every Walmart in America has items that SELL with that theme from greeting cards to t-shirts and everything else in between. He’s middle America, but also likeable and smart and funny. My vote would be give it to Jeff.

Like I said, I don’t really watch those shows but pure logic of thinking of who could be the answer to attract the attention of the masses, who as a comedian has done it as well as Jeff Foxworthy in the last 20-25 years? I can’t think of one. I respect the guy’s marketing skills but I also respect him as a person too. Jeff is the real deal and I think he’d nail this.

Nothing against Jay Leno at all. He was the king of the club boom in the ‘80s and every comedian working then knew it and knows it now. He’s a hard working guy and got a big break and I’m sure he knows that. He won’t have to sell any kidneys to survive this mess and I’m sure Conan will land on his feet too. But for a long term answer, I’d go with Jeff.

What the hell do I know? I’m still struggling to pay my rent every month. BUT, I am on a positive roll lately and am having all kinds of fun. Today we did a last minute version of Jerry’s Kidders on WGN radio and it was a blast. We love doing it, and at least we know someone is hearing it. WGN is a huge radio station and it gives this project credibility.

We also ran through the last minute details of our play “You’re On The Air” which will debut at the Beverly Arts Center next Saturday and Sunday, January 17th and 18th. We are all excited about it and have put a ton of work into this project. No matter what it does or doesn’t draw, it has already been a creatively fulfilling experience and a boat load of fun.

Fun keeps coming back as the central theme of everything I’m doing lately. I love all of it, and even though money would be nice I still appreciate the fact I can have freedom that not everyone else gets apparently. I hope the NBC thing gets figured out, only for the fact I can relate to the people who might lose their jobs. The suits who blew it can kiss my ass.