Posts Tagged ‘Bill Mihalic’

Car Struck

August 20, 2013

Monday August 19th, 2013 – McHenry, IL

   If I have ever hit it big financially for any reason, the one and only vice that frightens me even a little is old cars. I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life, nor have I ever experimented with illegal drugs. Ever. People doubt me when I say that, but it’s true. I never took even one puff of a joint or did one line of cocaine. For whatever reason, those things never held any allure for me.

   Old cars on the other hand have owned my heart since childhood. My grandpa and I used to go on long walks when I was a kid, and he’d show me how to identify cars. Buick had the portholes, Pontiac had the Indian, a Lincoln Continental had the suicide doors, and the list went on and on.

   I was captivated by the cars of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and I still am. They’re rolling works of art, even though most of the cars of today are actually much better products. I don’t care. I’d still love to have at least a couple of the old ones to enjoy. I don’t need a fleet, a few will do nicely.

   My friend Bill Mihalic in Detroit invited me to the big Woodward Dream Cruise last weekend, and I really wanted to go. I’ve heard about it for years, but I had to take comedy work to pay the bills and had to back out at the last minute. One of these years I’m going to get the chance to go.

   There’s just something about an old car show that puts me in a good mood. I love to look at all that hard work and pride of ownership in one place, and most of the owners are more than happy to share info about their babies. I’m genuinely interested in hearing it, so it works out splendidly.

   Today I happened to be out and about and found a big car show in McHenry, IL that’s held on Monday nights apparently. I had no idea it existed, but when I drove by I had to stop. It was free, and there were about 150-200 cars – mostly of that ‘50s to ‘70s vintage that I have loved so long.

   I was in my own personal heaven as I strolled through the aisles of gorgeous cars soaking all of them in for their intrinsic beauty. They had the standard fare of Chevelles and Thunderbirds and Chargers and the like, but there were also some more obscure entries one doesn’t see very often.

   I saw several Mercury Comets for example. When was the last time I saw ONE at a car show? They’re basically Ford Fairlanes, but it was still cool to see them. I also saw a ’65 Buick Skylark. I owned one years ago, and LOVED it. Mine had a crunched up front fender when I got it, but it was still drivable and had a lot of power. I’d barely touch the accelerator and it would really fly.

   I’m also a big sucker for Cadillacs. I’ve always loved them and always will. I think I’d qualify as an honorary soul brother, as I dearly love barbecue, soul music, Cadillacs and white women. If I had my way I’d never be without at least one Caddy in my garage, but at this point I’m just one small step from living in a garage myself. If and when a windfall comes, so will the vintage tin.

   Jay Leno really lived out the car fantasy, but I don’t think I’d have to take it that far. He’s been able to afford it so it’s no big deal, but at this late stage in the game it would take a lot less for all my wildest dreams to be satiated. I’d probably turn out like Elvis and end up giving cars away.

   That would be fun, I have to admit. I’d get more of a kick out of watching the look of surprise on someone’s face than if I actually owned it myself. Still, no matter who owns them I still love to ogle the classics. I loved every minute of the car show tonight, and it was a nice little surprise treat after the disappointment of missing out on the Detroit experience. I’ll be a car fan for life.

I LOVE Cadillacs! This is my favorite year - 1966. Super sleek!

I LOVE Cadillacs! This is my favorite year – 1966. Super sleek!

Another classic - the 1965 Buick Skylark

The 1965 Buick Skylark – another classic beauty!

The 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 - I want one!

The 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 – I want one!


Bill’s Pills

June 30, 2013

Saturday June 29th, 2013 – Ann Arbor, MI

   Oh, for consistent bookings like this weekend in Ann Arbor, MI. I forgot how much fun being a comedian can be, and this trip was a pleasant reminder. This is exactly how it should be, and if I had my way my schedule would be loaded with gigs like this. I don’t know if they’re out there.

   There are so many things that are right about this club. It’s been running successfully for more than thirty years, so that’s usually a good sign. They’ve had time to work out the bugs, and there is a bond with the community that now has transcended generations. It’s become a town fixture.

   I highly doubt any other comedy club could knock them off the perch, and if another one tried to open I don’t think they could last. Both clubs might suffer, and both could close. This is a one club town, and they are doing an outstanding job serving their customers. It’s run as it should be.

   All I’m asking for realistically is about 25-30 places like this around the country to practice my craft and make a respectable living. I work enough for Zanies in Chicago and am developing the whole ‘Schlitz Happened!’ concept that I can stay closer to home and keep working every week.

   I’d love to be working close to home two weeks a month, and have the other two weeks on the road doing gigs like this. It’s an easy drive, and the pay is enough where I can come out at least a little bit ahead. I’m not greedy, and this is very satisfying on many levels. These people get me.

   Tonight’s shows were even better than last night. My friend Bill Mihalic drove from his house in the northern Detroit suburbs to hang out and bought me a delicious and healthy dinner at B.D. Mongolian Barbecue. He didn’t have to do that, but I’m glad he did. It was a special day for him.

   This was his first official day of being retired from the automotive industry. Bill slugged it out in corporate America, and developed comedy writing as a hobby along the way. He took my one day seminar right here in Ann Arbor ten years ago this month, and has been writing ever since.

   Stories like Bill’s make me keep teaching classes whenever I can. He’s not taking what may be considered the “traditional route”, and that’s why I’m extra proud of him. He has blazed his own trail, and that’s even more difficult than coming up the ranks the way that everybody else does.

   I’m sure corporate America has a laundry list of major hassles of its own, but Bill managed to hang in there long enough to make it to retirement, and now he’s free to pursue what he wants to do but also enjoy the perks of having a beautiful home, family and all that goes with it. He won.

   I have all the respect in the world for Bill, because he WORKS. Whether it was his day jobs or writing jokes, Bill has a Herculean work ethic that has always impressed the hell out of me and it still does. Over dinner tonight he was like a kid in his giddiness describing all his future projects.

   It was refreshing to hear someone with that much excitement about comedy projects, and it put me in a better mood than I already was. It’s easy to see the pitfalls of the business, but when I see someone as excited as Bill it makes me happy for him and proud that my class got him started.

   Bill writes a daily joke sheet called “Bill’s Pills”. He’s also been writing for Jay Leno for a few years now, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him. You can get a free subscription to Bill’s jokes at This was a fun trip, and I’m glad I came. Now I only have to fill 51 more weeks each year with gigs like this and I’ll be set. I’ll worry about it later. This was fun.

Fundraiser Focus

October 3, 2012

Tuesday October 2nd, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   My main project for the next two weeks is going to be attending to the details pertaining to the comedy benefit fundraiser show for Officer Josh Albert at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on October 17th. The lineup of comedians is set, but that was the least of my concerns. There’s a lot more to do, and seeing how I’ve managed to lose money on most benefits I’ve ever done I’m a bit wary.

First and foremost, I need to get the media behind it to get the word out. There was significant media coverage when the accident first occurred, and hopefully this can help put as happy of an ending to it as possible. Obviously it would be best if it never happened, but that’s not how it is.

I’ve received several responses from various media outlets in Milwaukee, and I’m encouraged. I don’t care who gets interviewed, I just want word to get out the event is taking place at all. My cousin Katie will be able to tell the story far better than me because she was there, and hopefully that puts butts in seats to show support. The comedians and I will handle everything from there.

But beyond that, I’m hoping to do even more good if I can. I’m attempting to reach as many of my comedian friends who have CDs or DVDs or books and have them donate two copies of each – one for Officer Albert to listen to while he’s recovering and another to be used for an auction.

I know Officer Albert isn’t the only person recovering from horrific injuries, and I wish I could find a way to spread some comedy around to them. I thought of this last year when I was dealing with my own medical issues, and the idea still appeals to me. But first things first, I’ll make sure this event comes off successfully before worrying about saving the world. I can’t do everything.

So far, we’re looking good. My friend Drew Olson from 540 ESPN Milwaukee agreed to host the evening. He is very well liked in town, and hopefully those in the media that may not be my biggest fans will help support the cause despite my involvement. I don’t want personal politics.

My other focus is rounding up items for a silent auction. What will sell, I have no idea. I have had several donations already though, and I’m thrilled beyond words. My comedy writer friend Bill Mihalic put a word out to Jay Leno, and Jay’s assistant said a signed picture is on the way.

I asked Eddie Brill the best way to get a David Letterman signed picture, and I have no doubt if it’s at all possible Eddie will help make it happen. If not, I’m sure he will have some suggestions as to what else I can do or who else I can approach. I do have an extensive list of quality people.

Another friend Steve Olsher really came through with an amazing combination package of self help materials including a videotaped seminar weekend I was a part of this past summer and two of his bestselling books. The retail value of the package is $593.79, and I’m grateful to accept it.

Pat McCurdy’s manager Brian Murphy will donate some of Pat’s merchandise, and he’s one of my all time faves. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Tom Haudricourt wrote a book that I really love about the ’82 Brewers and is donating a signed copy. This is a start, but there’s more to do.

Bookings Overdue

June 4, 2010

Wednesday June 2nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Day two of my umpteen thousandth life reboot program, and this is where it usually has a tendency to fall apart. It’s difficult to do anything consistently, especially something this complicated and ambitious. I want to revolutionize my whole life, and that‘s no small job.

I did get my fanny back in the mall and take my lap, and that’s a good thing. I felt every bit of it, but at least I did it. Two days won’t make me into an Olympian, but it’s two days in a row. Now I need three. Then a week. Then a month, two months, a year and so forth.

My tendencies have always leaned toward action, but lack of a big picture plan is one of my major weaknesses. My friend Bill Mihalic sent me an email a year ago telling me how he thought I could achieve my goals, and I was grateful he did. He sent me another saying a lot of the same things and that’s probably a hint that I haven’t executed his suggestions.

I really think my intentions are good, but I’m just so damn scattered. I’ve always had to make my own way in life, and I’ll admit my trust issues even now are very evident. I have to survive month to month, and it’s hard to think anywhere past that, although I know I’m not smart in not doing that. I’m a one man band, and that’s just not going to get it done.

The best race car driver in the world needs a pit crew. I’m to the point where I need one too. I’ll have to pay them, and I don’t mind that at all – but I need to up my income quite a bit for that to happen. I need to delegate tasks, but still be in control of the steering wheel.

That’s where I’m having my problem. I just don’t trust people. Part of it comes from my childhood I’m sure. My mother abandoned me when I was five months old, and that’s had to have had a ripple effect somewhere. If I can’t trust my own mother, who else is there?

Then there was my childhood best friend Timbo who robbed the bank where he used to work and tried to blame it on me. He was closer than my own flesh and blood brother and when I had to testify against him in court it not only broke my heart, it built even more of a brick wall around my heart and made letting people in even harder. That one really hurt.

It’s the same with women too. Every woman I’ve ever dated has at some point said that they’re frustrated because I don’t ‘let her in’. And I guess I don’t. I’m very guarded with a lot of my inner delicate intimate things that get shared between people that are close, both in love and in business. When I have opened up, even a little, I’ve gotten boned big time.

I still haven’t gotten over my ex business partner’s little embezzlement stunt that really put me in the trick bag. I had to start completely over with a new website, mailing list and a few thousand dollars less than I had before due to his sticky fingers. Trust is a big issue.

Still, I’m going to have to learn to deal with this if I’m going to make any real progress. I have to pick my battles, and some things I’m going to have to just let go of and let other people have control. I thought about this the whole time I was walking through the mall.

Where I can make my biggest change for the good is how I deal with all of this. I’m not the first person in history to have trust issues. I read where Dick Van Dyke never let even his brother Jerry inside his personal inner world. Who knows why that is? Dick Van Dyke is also a creative type, left handed, and maybe some of it just goes with how we’re built.

This is deep stuff, and probably boring for most to read, but I’m delving into it because I know I’m not the only one who deals with this. Not only the trust issues, but also having major dissatisfaction with most areas of life. Rather than accept it, I want to conquer it.

Two days of a little exercise is good, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I need to keep that up, but also start implementing more regimented things a little bit at a time. I can’t do it all in a day or a week or even a year, but I can make daily progress and this is part of it.

One major flaming mess in my life that needs cleaning up very badly is the entire way I go about my comedy business from a booking standpoint. I flat out SUCK at it, so it sure won’t be difficult to make major strides in a very short time. I can really use a fresh start.

Most entertainers absolutely despise both dealing with bookers and the whole booking process itself, myself included, but it’s a necessary evil so the smart thing to do is learn to embrace it. It really isn’t all that difficult, it’s a matter of persistence. It’s a sales process, and that’s not a bad thing. Some people sell widgets or doorknobs, I sell my comedy act.

I have a lot of self help audio, and I listened to a fantastic program today by one of my favorite authors named Joe Girard. He’s ‘the world’s greatest salesman’ because he sold cars for years and set all kinds of records. I like his approach and really listened to what he had to say with a whole new interest. It lit a fire under me and I need one about now.

Part of my problem is that I’ve achieved enough of a reputation where bookers now call me. That’s great in one way, but also stopped me from pushing myself to pursue the best gigs for the top pay in the best venues. I’ve always been able to get by with minor effort.

Now, I’m in a position where I need to totally revamp and reinvent myself. I can use an entire makeover of my sales prospects, press kit and sales package, method of contacting those who can book me, and schedule of when to do it. Waiting for a call out of the blue worked for a lot longer than it should have, and I’m lucky it did. Now I need some skills.

I can think of about ten bookers I could call immediately, and probably get some work just for calling. I haven’t been to Salt Lake City for Keith Stubbs at Wiseguys in a while, and there’s no reason for it other than I haven’t called him. He usually calls me, but he’s got a new baby and a radio show and he’s got his own life. He’d book me immediately.

He has a friend in Seattle, and I know I could get that one too. Calgary is another club I enjoy and haven’t been there in a while for no good reason. Houston is another. Nashville Zanies is another. Indianapolis. Reno. KC. These are just places I haven’t called in a long time. There’s a whole list of other places I’ve never called at all. I’ve got my work to do.

Paying A Bill

March 29, 2010

Saturday March 27th, 2010 – Dearborn, MI/Novi, MI

Life is still pretty good even though the show last night was weak. We’re booked in the space that used to be occupied by Second City apparently and they’re gone after a several year run. My friend Vicki Quade has her one woman show “Late Night Catechism” in the room and she had mentioned she thought Jerry’s Kidders should try to get a booking too.

I didn’t know that’s what it was when I took the booking, and quite frankly I think I’m getting boned on money. The agency that booked me is in the south, and I don’t work for them all that often unless they have work in the north. They asked me to do this one and I said I would. Mistake. I found out they’re making more than me with their commission.

This kind of thing goes on all the time in show business but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. They asked if I wanted a gig this weekend and I said yes. End of story. If it means they get three times more than they’re paying me, technically it’s none of my bee’s wax. Too bad life isn’t always technical. Sometimes it’s gut feelings and mine got kicked.

Still, if I turned this down, there would have been hundreds of comics proud to take my place so I just shut up and did my job. Last night was not fun at all, but tonight’s audience came out to laugh. They were well dressed and polite and the house was packed out wall to wall. I knew I’d like them in the first ten seconds, and I kept it up throughout my show.

They were fun but the real fun was seeing to it my friend Bill Mihalic got up to do a few minutes to open the show. He’s a comedy writer and has been at it for years, but now he’s trying to branch out a little. I’ve never met a more diligent and sincere person in any walk of life and if I can give the guy hope I’ll always do my best. Bill Mihalic is good people.

In fact, this afternoon he came over to the hotel and drove me to take another tour of the Automotive Hall of Fame. I’ve been there before with Bill because he’s a member and we had fun then. He’s very knowledgeable, and served as a fantastic tour guide for all the ins and outs of the car business for the last 100 years. Bill’s a student of the whole car game.

After that we went to the Henry Ford Museum and looked at that for a while. It’s had to be at least a dozen years or more since I’d seen it and it was totally work the trip just for a chance to tour it again. Bill is a masterful tour host and knows all kinds of inside scoops.

The show tonight was a lot of fun, but getting to put Bill up on stage was the true high point of the trip. Stage time is like Christmas to an aspiring comic and the was a Saturday night full house that paid to get in. I saw Bill’s eyes light up when I said he was going up and that made me feel like I did my good deed for the day. I’ve had that look many times.

He did a fine job, and afterward I could tell he had fun. It’s hard to get someone to give stage time to a beginner, but I know what it’s like so I always try to be generous whenever I can. I had a little clout tonight so I made sure he got up. Not a big deal to me, but to Bill it made his whole week. This is what life is about to me. I want to work for good people.