Posts Tagged ‘Bob and Tom’

Rock Star In Rockford

June 30, 2014

Friday June 27th, 2014 – Rockford, IL

Ah, a flash of the good old days. For at least one day I got to be in the comedian groove again. I’ve been out of it for a while, and it felt very much at home to be back. This is what I was born to do – at least the performance part. I got to work in a nice venue in front of a receptive crowd, and there were no long drives to make. This is exactly how I picture my comedy future to look.

Long time Chicago comedian Ken Sevara books monthly comedy shows at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Rockford, IL called Franchesco’s. I was the headliner for their opening night a few years ago, and it’s been a while since I’ve been back. I never bugged Ken about it, and that’s one of my problems. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get lost in the mix because there are so many comics.

He knew I did a killer job, and so did the staff. That was never the question. Quite a few of the staff that remembered me from that night walked up and said hello within ten seconds of walking in the door. I know they weren’t faking, because it’s a busy restaurant with lots of people coming and going all the time. They were sincere, and it felt very satisfying to have them remember me.

There was also a table of people that were there a full 45 minutes before the show that had seen me perform at a place called L.T.’s that ran weekly comedy shows for years. They said they had been waiting for me to come back to town, and didn’t want to miss it. I almost felt like a big star.

I also got to be on the radio this morning with “Stone and Double T” on WXRX, and they have always been fans and treat me great. Their station is probably not my demographic, but it’s still a lot of fun to be on with them so I always say yes whenever they ask. They’re both real people on the radio, and that is SO refreshing. If they were Bob and Tom, I would be a millionaire by now.

They’re not Bob and Tom, and Rockford isn’t Las Vegas – even though the actual room where they do the shows could easily be in Vegas. It’s a gorgeous facility, and has a separate and sound proof entrance from the bar and restaurant area so as to keep the showroom quiet during shows.

They have big screen TVs all over the room that say ‘Comedy Night’, and it’s a perfectly sized and proportioned room that seats probably 150ish. They can show clips of upcoming acts if they like, or list drink and food specials. Everything about this particular space is how it should be for all standup comedy shows, but rarely is. It’s a pleasure to work rooms like this whenever I can.

It’s EXACTLY the kind of venue I’d want to promote my own shows on a consistent basis, but they’re almost nonexistent. This one has just about everything anyone could want, including tons of free parking and a liquor license plus full menu of delicious food. There’s a lot to work with.

I would never infringe on Ken’s room, and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m just saying it has all the features I’d be looking for to do my own shows. Rockford may be a bit small to shoot for a weekly show anyway, and that’s important to know. It’s easy to burn out in a smaller town.

I’d love a place similar to this in Milwaukee to do ‘Schlitz Happened!’ more regularly, and one in the Chicago area wouldn’t hurt either. Even if I did weekends once a month and promoted the hell out of them I bet I’d develop a following sooner than later. This is the future of the business.

Franchesco's Ristorante in Rockford, IL is a great place to have dinner and see a comedy show. If it's a 'bistro' or a 'ristorante', it's hard to go wrong. www.franchescos.com.

Franchesco’s Ristorante in Rockford, IL is a great place to have dinner and see a comedy show. If it’s a ‘bistro’ or a ‘ristorante’, it’s hard to go wrong. http://www.franchescos.com.

Ken Sevara books the shows, does comedy himself and also hosts a radio show on WIND called 'Fly By Night'. Find him at www.kensevara.com.

Ken Sevara books the shows, does comedy himself and also hosts a radio show on WIND called ‘Fly By Night’. Find him at http://www.kensevara.com.

'Stone and Double T' are two of the nicest - and most competent - radio people I have ever met. I'd do anything for those guys. www.wxrx.com.

‘Stone and Double T’ are two of the nicest – and most competent – radio people I have ever met. I’d do anything for those guys anytime. http://www.wxrx.com.

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My Own Space

June 24, 2014

Sunday June 22nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’m back from my bittersweet weekend in Sparta, WI and am ready to move forward. It’s fun to visit good friends, and Jim Wiggins and Bill Gorgo are as good as they get. Jim’s family treats Bill and I like we’re in the will, but on the down side doing difficult shows for tiny audiences is a self esteem sucker and a dignity drainer. At this time in my life I just don’t need to be doing this.

Jim and Bill get it. They’ve been doing comedy for decades just as I have, and they know how I feel. Bill has been a high school teacher for years now, and has already made his transition into being able to do comedy when he feels like it. It works for him. I’m not so sure it works for me.

Jim could see that I was less than thrilled with the shows this weekend, and he took me aside at least four or five times to strongly suggest that I find my own space and start promoting my own shows. He said it should be a place where I can live as well so all my energy can stay in one spot. He’s done it himself more than once, and said it can be an exciting experience plus creative bliss.

There’s a comedian named Chris Speyrer that did exactly what Jim speaks of in the small town of Mason City, IL. That’s the home town of another funny comic named John Means – aka “Dr. Gonzo.” John and his wife owned a restaurant on the main drag, and Chris bought a building on the same block and has been able to keep the doors open several years now. I congratulate him.

Mason City is tiny, but it’s within driving distance of Peoria and Springfield and Chris books a lot of his headliners from the Bob and Tom radio show which is on in both of those cities. He has been smart to do that, and kudos to him for taking the plunge. That took a lot of guts on his part.

I’m not sure if a town that small would be to my personal liking, but there are all kinds of other options in a lot of other places. I have been wondering for years now how I could get off the road but still get on stage regularly, and my own place would be a way to do it. It would solve a lot of problems – but create a lot more. I’m fine with that at this point, and would enjoy the challenge.

I don’t know if I can find a place that I can live as well as do shows, as everything would have to be ideal for that to happen. I don’t have any money to buy any buildings, but that’s never been my goal. I just want to do standup comedy shows on a regular basis for people that want to enjoy what I do. I don’t want to have to fight drunks or drive 1000 miles to get there. Does that exist?

Between Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford, I have to believe there has to be at least one facility that would be able to fit my needs. Ideally it would seat around 100 comfortably, and in theory I’d be able to work there every single week of the year for several years if I’d want to.

If I could attract audiences, why would I not want to? I’ve said before that 100 people a night for multiple nights in a week can provide a very nice living. I’m not greedy, and I wouldn’t need anything else to survive quite nicely. In an area that’s populated, it would take years for everyone to see the show in a 100 seat room and I could keep it going indefinitely. Mr. Wiggins was right.

I see this theory both in Milwaukee for the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show and somewhere near the Chicago area that’s not near a Zanies club. I wouldn’t attempt to compete with them because for one I couldn’t, and also they have been great to me for a lifetime. There are plenty of other joints in that squared circle, and I’m up for trying to get my own thing going. If I had two dozen in my own audience, there would be only one person to blame. That I could live with. I like Jim’s idea!

Chris Speyrer figured out a way to get off the road. He bought a building and started his own venue. Smart!

Chris Speyrer figured out a way to get off the road. He bought his own building and started his own comedy venue. Smart!

If you are ever near Mason City, IL go see his club. www.mclimits.com

If you’re ever near Mason City, IL visit Chris’s club. http://www.mclimits.com

Comedy Combat

November 16, 2013

Friday November 15th, 2013 – Plainwell, MI

It was another rough night at the office, but again nobody else needed to know. Tonight’s show was at Rhino’s Pub in Plainwell, MI, once again for my friend Phil Anglin. Phil is one of my top favorite people of all time to work for, just because he’s such a big fan of comedy. It’s a pleasure to work for people like that, but unfortunately there are far too few. It’s not like this every week.

If Phil booked the Funny Bone or Improv chains, I’d be sitting pretty. He thinks I am hilarious, and that’s all any comedian needs. If the person that books the shows is on board, life is a breeze. I do have a lot of bookers who love me, but unfortunately they aren’t the ones with the big gigs.

I’m royalty in places like Springfield, IL and Plainwell, MI but can’t find a way to get booked at an Improv to save my life. Radio is painfully similar. I’m at the top of the go to list for ‘Stone and Double T’ in Rockford, IL but ‘Bob and Tom’ who are on in 200 plus markets hate my guts.

This is how it is, and there’s not a damn thing I can do but keep slugging. I am who I am and it tends to polarize people. I’m loved and loathed, but that’s a requirement for any good entertainer. The trick is to get the people to love you be the ones that have the real power. That’s not so easy.

I still love working for Phil though, and he sure does know how to run a bar and grill correctly. It’s always been a fun experience to work for him through the years. I never want to see anybody take it in the shorts financially, but especially Phil. I want us all to make money so I’ll be back.

It was a lot more crowded tonight than last night in Richland, but the sound system was terrible and that was a killer. We were screwed before we started, and there was nothing any of us could do but work through it. It was too late for fixing, and there was a room full of paying customers.

Bad sound is my worst nightmare. I’m not very cute, so bad lighting I can live with. It’s livable if they can’t see me, but if they can’t hear me I’m toast. My style is very verbal, and I use a lot of lists and rely on rhythm to beat an audience into submission. I need to talk over them to succeed.

That wasn’t happening tonight, and it changed my entire rhythm. I have enough experience to know what to do, but it was a major adjustment and I had to be in the moment the whole time up there. As I was doing one piece of material, I was thinking about which one would fit next to get their attention. I needed to get them laughing hard up front so they’d be quiet and let me finish.

Of course when alcohol is involved, that changes the equation dramatically. There were two or three tables that were constantly chattering, and I had to stop the show several times to ask them to please be quiet so I could finish the show. They wouldn’t do it, and I had all I could to do stop myself from walking over there and kicking them in their drunken asses. They ruined the show.

Once again, I strapped on the false face and got through it but it was not fun in the least. I have had to fight this kind of thing for a lifetime, and I’m just done with it. Phil apologized profusely, but it’s not his fault. Drunken idiots are everywhere. He’ll have to improve the sound system if he wants to do more shows, and I’m sure he will. It was never like that before, but tonight it was for whatever reason and I had to fight like hell to do my job. If comedy is combat, I’m a Navy Seal.

Standup comedy without an adequate sound system is like full on combat. It's intense.

Standup comedy without an adequate sound system is like full on combat. It’s intense.

Tuesday Tradition

November 1, 2013

Tuesday October 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s Tuesday, and that means I make my weekly appearance with “Stone and Double T” on the “Low Budget Morning Show” on 104.9 “The X” in Rockford, IL. I’ve been a regular with them for a few years now, going back to when they used to be on in the afternoon. They’re great guys, and totally get it on many levels. The only negative about being on with them is where they are.

No offense to Rockford or anyone who lives there, but it’s never going to be an entertainment Mecca, or a Mecca for anything else. It’s a depressed town that most people 500 miles or farther from it have probably never even heard of. It’s just one town, and that’s not how to get famous.

On the upside, it’s cheap to live there and if someone wanted to be in Chicago or Milwaukee to experience city life it’s a little over an hour away and easy to get to both places. It wouldn’t be a horrible place to live I suppose. They have some nice suburbs, but the city itself is rather seedy.

A lot of places are like that these days. The city of Milwaukee is getting pretty funky, whereas when I grew up there it was always very clean and well kept. Maybe it was the German influence of freakish neatness that made it that way then, but it’s not there now. Most cities are in disarray, but there are always at least a few nicer areas for those who are fortunate enough to have a job.

My first radio job was in Lansing, MI which is an absolute toilet. I lived right on the border of Lansing and East Lansing, and it wasn’t bad at all. I had about a ten minute drive to work if that, and I got used to living there. I was making money, so the stench of the town wasn’t as pungent.

I’m sure the same is true with Stone and Double T. They are both employed, but neither one is originally from there. They’re paid mercenaries, but they have grown to be a part of local fabric over time and now I’m sure they both call Rockford home. That’s the tradeoff of being in radio.

Very few ever get to become media stars in their home town, just as most pro athletes don’t get to play for their hometown teams very often. Michael Jordan was not born in Chicago and Aaron Rodgers surely wasn’t born in Green Bay. Fate, destiny or whatever one wants to call it is where people end up settling and becoming local fixtures. That’s what Stone and Double T have done.

Radio is full of those stories. Steve Dahl is not from Chicago but that’s where his success was. Bob and Tom are not from Indianapolis, but they’ve worked there for more than 30 years. I have always wanted to find a town where I could do that, but try as I might it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve got a little bit of a name in Chicago, and my hometown of Milwaukee too. I would hope I also have at least some recognition in Rockford with all the times I’ve been on the air both with Stone and Double T and also filling in at the news/talk station WNTA. I hope someone listens.

Even if they don’t, I am still flattered Stone and Double T have me on the air every week. They are both as real and friendly as it gets in radio or anywhere else, and their personalities could not fit that town any better. It’s a perfect match, and hopefully they can make a solid living for years. The only problem for me is that they’re not on in more markets. I’ve said it before, but it’s a fact – if Stone and Double T were Bob and Tom, we’d all be millionaires by now. http://www.wxrx.com.

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the 'Stone and Double T' show on WXRX 'The X' in Rockford, IL www.wxrx.com

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the ‘Stone and Double T’ show on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL http://www.wxrx.com

The Power Of Perception

July 25, 2013

Wednesday July 24th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL 

   One of the most important aspects of the entertainment game is unfortunately one of my worst attributes, and that’s correctly working the politics angle. I have never been good at it, and it has cost me more than dearly. If comedy were real politics, I’d be grouped with the all time pariahs.

   At least Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer and so many more went down in a sex scandal. My downfall has mostly been not being able to shut my big mouth. I tend to call things as I see them, and that doesn’t tend to sit well with everybody – especially those in the line of fire. I am far more often the hardest on myself than anybody else, but that’s never what gets remembered in the long run.

   Many people in the business have extremely thin skins even more so than in the rest of society. There are nuts in all walks of life, but entertainment is like a giant Payday candy bar. It’s loaded with them to the point of that being the main ingredient. I’ve had to learn to play cards delicately.

   Unfortunately, I’ve made some legendary mistakes that have held me back a lot more than they should have. The powers that be can be extremely unforgiving, and I’ve suffered greatly. It’s not fair, but fair has never been part of the equation. The jungle isn’t fair, and neither is this business.   

   One example is the Bob and Tom radio show in Indianapolis. They are on in 200 or so markets give or take, and they prominently feature comedians on their show. I’d been a guest about six or seven times, and had always done well. I know how to do radio, and was starting to get frequent air time. One day I showed up and apparently did something they didn’t like – and it was all over.

   They never did tell me what I did, but they physically removed me from the studio and made a huge deal over something I still can’t understand. They had asked me to tell a story from a book of comedian’s road stories called ‘I Killed’, and I merely did what they asked. They went off the deep end, and there was nothing I could do about it. They vaporized me like I have never existed.

   I tried to apologize for whatever I did when it happened, but they would not hear a word of it. I got thrown out like a vagrant, and they threw me off their live tour also. I tried to write a letter of apology – even though I still don’t know what I was apologizing for – and they all ignored me.

   For whatever reason, they had it in their minds that I was a bad guy and they shunned me like a leper. I can bitch about it all I want, but it won’t change anything. Was it fair? Of course not, but we already know about fair. They don’t like me, and the only thing that would change it might be for me to get so famous they’d want me because of public demand. I wouldn’t need them then.

   Another stinging example is a chain of comedy clubs called The Funny Bone. They’ve got a lot of clubs all over the country, and most of them are within driving distance of Chicago. I’ve never been one of their main ‘go to’ guys, but I have worked for them occasionally through the years.

   A couple of years ago, I wrote an entry in this very diary about a manager of one of their clubs that passed away. I knew the guy, and while I had nothing personal against him I thought he was not the most professional in how he handled business. I chose to not participate in his politics.

   I knew a lot of comics that flat out couldn’t stand him, but I was never one of those. Mine was just a professional beef, and in retrospect I mentioned that I had played the politics of the game completely incorrectly. That was the main thrust of my post – but it wasn’t taken that way at all.

   For whatever reason, that particular post made the rounds and I was vilified as if I had written a hate letter to Mother Theresa. I was getting nasty emails from wannabe comedians from that area that didn’t even know me, wishing me to rot in hell and that I should have died instead of him.

   I couldn’t believe one little post had caused that big of an uproar, so I went back and reviewed it to see if I had been too harsh on the guy in any way. Try as I might I sure couldn’t see it, and it clearly pointed the finger of blame at me as I had intended. It was too late by then. I was cooked.

   My one tiny little inane posting spread around to Funny Bone managers across the country and before I knew it I was banned like explosives in an airport. Dave Stroupe is in charge of booking many of the Funny Bones, and although we were never close I had crossed paths with him a few times. We got along fine, but I’ve never been one to push friendships with people that have clout.

   I’ve always been one to hang out with someone because I like them as people first, not for how they could advance my career. That’s about as wrong as can be as far as the politics game should be played, but I never wanted to be fake. Too bad for me, as that’s not how the jungle operates.

  Two more people that apparently hate my guts are Colleen Quinn in Omaha and Al Canal in St. Louis. They both sent me blunt harsh emails basically telling me they’d never use me because of what I said about the person in question. I don’t think they ever actually took time to read what I wrote, as if they had they’d see that he wasn’t the target but I was. Too bad. Perception is reality.

   This has been a very painful lesson in both cases, as it doesn’t matter if I’m right or not. That’s not how the game works. Perception is far more important than fact, and it sucks to be on the bad side of it – which I apparently am with these people. No matter how hard I try, they shut me out.

   The funniest part of all of this is that I’ve never ever considered anything I write to make a bit of difference in any way. I don’t think I’m important or that one key stroke I make has an impact on anything in this world. I write as a daily mental exercise, not to purposely piss anybody off.

   If anything, the only people I really aim for are comedians coming up the ranks. Of anyone on this planet, I know how brutally difficult this business can be and I try to speak openly of it all so someone else can hopefully avoid all the stupid mistakes I’ve made. I want to be a warning light, so hopefully someone else can play politics better than I have. It’s been a major obstacle for me.

   My policy has always been and still is now – if a situation is ugly I’ll leave names out of it, but still tell the story. If I do happen to include names, I consider the situation positive or at least not antagonistic. That’s why I included the Funny Bone manager’s name in my initial post. I was not angry at him personally, but it was a mistake to name him because everyone else misunderstood.

   Again, I don’t think anything I prattle about means a plugged nickel in the big scheme of life. I crank out my little poop sheet every day, and I probably should stop but it’s become so much of a part of my life by now I think it’s too late. Hopefully, I’ll get some readers who take it how it’s meant. I listed names in this post, because although these people have me on their most hated list I don’t hate them at all. It’s business, but they took it personally. That used to be my big mistake.

   So, here I sit. Bob and Tom hate me and they’re on in 200 markets. ‘Stone and Double T’ love me – but they’re only on in Rockford, IL. The Funny Bones torched me from their twenty clubs, but three Zanies in Chicago love me. Any good entertainer is both loved and hated. I’ve arrived.

Clearing The Air

May 16, 2013

Wednesday May 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I got up much earlier than I had intended to this morning to do a comedy segment on the ‘Stone and Double T Show’ on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL. I really like those guys, and we usually do a weekly call in bit on Monday mornings. We missed this week, so they rescheduled it today.

   I have mixed feelings about doing that show, but it’s fun so if they keep calling I’ll keep doing it. The guys themselves are great, but I’m not sure if anyone who listens to that station likes what I do. It’s really hard edged rock, and that’s just not my audience as a rule. I try to be entertaining, but I’ve never once had anyone come to any show I’ve done saying they’d heard me on ‘The X’.

   Does that mean I should stop doing it? That’s a tough call. It doesn’t hurt to get radio exposure, but it’s not helping either. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years on the wrong radio stations, and I think some of my best work has fallen on deaf ears. It’s discouraging, but that’s how it’s been.

    I still can’t believe I’ve worked for THREE country radio stations. Yikes. I’m not a fan of that genre at all, even though I grew to respect it during my tenure. That’s not my audience either, but those are the stations I was able to get jobs so that’s where I went. It makes me have doubts as to the competence of radio in general if they’d hire me three times at country stations, but they did.

   I’m also experiencing serious doubts about continuing to host ‘The Mothership Connection’ on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. Again, it’s great fun but who’s listening? It’s a small station in Kenosha, WI with a weak night time signal. We do have a certain amount of loyal listeners every week who hear us live and a few more on the net, but is it enough to keep doing it? I’d think not.

   I wish the show came with a paycheck, but it doesn’t. How can I generate one? I don’t have the slightest idea. I have a meeting with John Perry from the station tomorrow and we’ll either come up with a plan to earn some money or I’ll shake his hand and thank him for the fun opportunity.

   The ultimate goal is to get on a station that fits my personality, and find a way to stay on the air and get paid. That’s proven to be a whole lot easier said than done, but unfortunately being taken off the air has not been my fault. If I could manage to put together a nice run somewhere that has a listener base in my wheel house, I’ll be set for life. But I’d also be set for life if I hit the lottery.

   Unfortunately, the odds seem to be about the same. Every time I get on a station that would be a fit, something happens to end it prematurely. ‘The Loop’ in Chicago was a perfect fit, but just as we were starting to get some legs we got fired. Then I was part of ‘Jerry’s Kidders’ with Jerry Agar, Ken Sevara and Tim Slagle on both WLS and WGN in Chicago. That was also a winner.

   Had Jerry not been blown out the door, we’d still be on the air and have that coveted following I’ve not been able to attain no matter how hard I’ve tried. For some reason, I just haven’t had the chance to gel at a place that fits. I love being on with Stone and Double T, but they’re not where I’m ever going to get any mass recognition. If they were Bob and Tom, I’d be a national draw.

   I have a hard time figuring out where the radio business is headed as a whole. It’s always been insane, but there was a certain air of mystery about it. Local programming was plentiful and of a high quality. Now everything is pre recorded in another city and it’s very impersonal. I’d love to have a steady job somewhere, but I don’t know of any that exist. The Stone and Double T shows of the world are becoming rarer and rarer, and that’s a shame. Radio’s best days are behind it.

Ross Bennett’s Revenge

April 5, 2013

Thursday April 4th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’ve been keeping a happy secret to myself for the last couple of weeks, and I’m delighted to be able to finally let it out. My long time friend and comedy mentor Ross Bennett got a chance to be on the David Letterman show tonight, and he knocked it out of the park. I am SO happy for him!

Ross is just the best on so many levels, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this killer opportunity. It gives me tangible hope that at least a little fairness exists in this insane world, and a little goes a long way. I was on pins and needles all day waiting to hear from him, and when he texted me saying he killed it I felt like my Packers won another Super Bowl. It was pure ecstasy.

I first met Ross in the ‘80s when he worked at the Funny Bone in Milwaukee. We hit it off then and have stayed friends through a lot of ups and downs in both of our lives. Ross has not lived an easy life either, but like me he still keeps slugging and tries to play the hand he was dealt in life.

We’re kindred spirits and I’ve always gotten along with him from day one. He’s been like a big brother in many ways, and I’ll never forget his kindness. When I was living in Los Angeles, he’d lived there before I did and helped me get settled in. He didn’t have to do that, but I so appreciate the time he took to show me the ropes. L.A. can be very intimidating to a newbie, at least at first.

Then Ross moved to New York where he lives now, and he helped show me around that scene when I visited a couple of times. He helped me get sets at some of the clubs there, and again was like a big brother at a time when I really needed it. We went to a Yankees game, and saw a lot of amazing places all over Manhattan that I will never forget. Ross has always been a stellar friend.

I’ve tried to be one in return, and many years ago I was able to help Ross get involved in sports cards of all things. He set up at card shows for a few years as he was out on the road doing shows as a comedian, and at the time it gave him focus and structure he needed in his life. He’s thanked me for it numerous times, but it was my pleasure to help a friend who has always had my back.

Ross has really been through some rough stretches in his life. His first wife passed away and he was left to raise his son Nash with the help of his mother. That’s no easy task in a ‘normal’ world but trying to be an entertainer and raise a child is damn near impossible. Still, Ross pulled it off.

He has also had his share of run ins with certain people just as I have. He was kicked off of the Bob and Tom radio show for years, and then managed to get back in their good graces – the very same day I was kicked off of the show. We sat there together for a few minutes, then I was gone.

We laugh about it now, but I was really bummed out when it happened. I still don’t know what I did to make them that upset, and Ross talked me off the cliff that day – again when I needed his help the most. He’s always been there for me, and I can’t say that about most of my own family.

To hear he got a shot on Letterman made me leap with joy. He’s been slugging it out all over in the New York area for years, and has worked like a mule to get this chance. I’m glad he nailed it, but I’m surely not surprised. He’s a world class comic talent, and always was. This is his destiny.

The show will air on Friday April 5th, but I’ll be on my way back from a gig in Indiana. I don’t know how I’ll get to see it, but I’ll make sure I do at some point. This is a special occasion of the highest order, and I hope it launches him into other amazing opportunities. Ross got his revenge!

Comedian Ross Bennett will be on David Letterman Friday April 5th, 2013

Comedian Ross Bennett will be on David Letterman Friday April 5th, 2013! Check him out, he’s very funny and deserves to be there.

Still Working It All Out

September 25, 2010

Friday September 24th, 2010 – Las Vegas, NV

Had a bit of a detour today, but I’m not upset. This was supposed to be the ultimate day for networking, the highlight of the entire trip. There’s a meeting place at Hooters here in town for all working comedians who want to gather and it’s called “The Fryer’s Club”.

That’s a clever takeoff on the legendary Friar’s Club in New York, where comedians of past generations used to gather. I’ve heard about the tradition in Las Vegas and was going to attend with some comedian friends, but just as I was about to leave I got a call from my friend Dan Still informing me he’d just lost his day job and his life was in a major funk.

I’ve known Dan for twenty years, and there are few with a heart as big as his. He’s from Milwaukee, and decided to come out and test the waters of the contest in Las Vegas. I had no idea he’d be coming out here, and was glad to see him when he showed up Tuesday.

Dan tries harder than just about anyone I’ve ever met. He’s sincere, trustworthy, loyal to a fault and has a work ethic of a coked up mule. That guy will show up and keep plugging and slugging until the job is done – whatever it may be. He knows computers, machinery, auto and home repair and just about anything else you can think of. The guy is brilliant.

He’s similar to me in that he has a tendency to put people off at first, but after a while a person can’t help liking him. He’s kind and generous and I’ve always thought he was way underappreciated in the comedy world. He does second and third rate gigs because he has poor business and salesmanship skills, as do a lot of talented people. He deserves better.

He can do several celebrity voices dead on, and he always gives everything he’s got in a live show. I think the world of the guy and always have, and it pained me to see him in as much pain as he was. His wife has had some health issues and he needs a job to help get a handle on them. All he wants is a fair chance to work for a living wage to pay his bills.

Apparently his new employer didn’t agree, and now he’s out on his ass. What’s worse is Dan happened to lose an eye during his high school years. It’s funny to make jokes about stuff like that until someone really has to deal with it. Dan has been dealing with it for all the years I’ve known him, and I’ve never ONCE heard the guy complain. He’s a trooper.

What I do see is a guy who helps anyone and everyone, is honest as the day is long, and gets as little in return as anyone I’ve ever seen. I thought I was Mr. Lucky, but Dan has an life obstacle I hope I never have to experience. My respect for him is deep and sincere. He knows what pain and suffering are all about. My little life woes pale in comparison to his.

When a guy like that calls all bummed out, a schmoozing session can wait – even if it’s in Las Vegas with bigwigs. They can keep their wigs on another night and hopefully they can meet me another time. To me, sitting with a friend in need is much more important. I do have a heart, and know what it’s like to suffer myself. Dan was grateful I came, and it felt good to be there when a guy needed someone to talk to. Kindness is a noble pursuit.

To me, showing kindness is the only true pursuit that’s worthwhile in all of life. All else pales in comparison, and I’m ashamed of myself for failing as often as I have. I’d think by now I’d have things figured out, but I still blow all too often and that sure is frustrating.

An act of kindness shown to someone lasts forever. Dan was really bummed out tonight but he told me of things I allegedly did and said twenty years ago that he still remembers, and thanked me all over again. Quite honestly, I didn’t remember but Dan certainly did.

Dan is a kind soul himself and has helped me on many occasions over the years. I have a lot of kind souls in my circle like my cousin Brett and my friend Tim Marszalkowski in Michigan and a whole lot more that if I took time to list would look like a phone book.

These are the people that make me keep the gun out of my mouth every day. Hopefully I have shown enough kindness back to have earned my keep in my little time here on this ugly mean spirited planet full of hate and stupidity. Unfortunately, I’ve thrown my share of that around too, and I deeply regret it. That’s not what I’m about, but some think I am.

I know there are more than a few that think I’m a flaming ass pustule. I try to be good to all I cross paths with, but sometimes clashes occur. I’m not perfect, and not claiming that I am, but I really regret when things go sour with people. That’s why when things get off course, I prefer to just amputate the relationship rather than continue firing live ammo.

Maybe it’s right and maybe it’s wrong, but I’m still learning. Ultimately, I never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but sometimes they’re just too damn stupid to realize that and I go off on a tangent. That doesn’t make anything right, and I need to learn to curtail that.

This kind of stuff is way deeper than the shallowness of show business. I’d rather be an upstanding human being who shows kindness than a shallow wank with only money and material things. I’m starting to see what’s really important in life and it’s not anything any store sells. It comes from within, and I’m just now getting in touch with that inner power.

Some people I’m never going to reach, at least not in this life plane. My siblings are out of touch and probably out of reach for good, as are Bob and Tom. I’ve really tried to offer sincere apologies to all those people, but they’re not up for taking it. Now I can’t do much more and the ball is way out of my court. If they hate me, so be it. I’m not out of friends.

I’ve got a lot of people I really like and respect that I got to hang with this week. Two of them were Brian McKim and Traci Skene from Shecky Magazine. It’s an online comedy magazine and they’re very good at it. I like Brian and Traci very much and we got to hang out and visit for a while this week. I also saw quite a few comics I hadn’t seen in a while.

The more I plug along in my life, the more I realize I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was. I have a thick list of friends, I work doing what I love and have for my entire adult life. I came to Vegas to network and schmooze, but it turns out I hung out with someone from all the way back in Milwaukee. That’s ok. It’s always good to show some kindness.

Rockford Rolling

February 13, 2010

Thursday February 10th, 2010 – Rockford, IL

I might not be getting paid a dime to be on the radio these days, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Exactly the opposite. The reason I keep showing up is because it IS fun, and that should count for something. When radio is being done correctly, there’s an electric energy that bounces off the walls of the studio. It’s different than standup, but it’s still addictive.

Today I was back on with my friends ‘Stone and Double T’ in Rockford, IL on WXRX, ‘The X’ – 104.9. I love being on with those guys, as they both understand how good radio works. They let it grow organically, and there’s never any pressure. I go in there and they let me riff, trusting that I’ll have something either funny or interesting to say. I love that.

Those guys have always treated me with respect, and I totally appreciate it. Double T’s name is Terry, and he emailed and asked if I wanted to come in and hang out on the air. I hadn’t been in for a while and it’s always flattering to be asked back. Both those guys are secure in themselves enough to let their guests have the spotlight, and that makes it easy.

The funny part is, their station is the Bob and Tom station in Rockford. Jim Stone has a relationship with most of the Bob and Tom staff, and he said he’s tried to bring my name up a few times to see why they’re so angry at me, and has been rewarded with dirty looks.

It really is almost laughable at this point. Whatever I did is apparently still an issue and I guess I’m still banned from their show. Forever. I wish I knew exactly what it is I did to make them that pissed off, so I know what to avoid. I said I was sorry then, and I meant it. I’m sorry now too, but I guess that’s not good enough. I’m on their list and I can’t get off.

If Stone and Double T were in Bob and Tom’s position, I’d be a big star in 200 markets across the country, and a millionaire. Instead, I get to go on in Rockford, any time I want. Still, I’m flattered. I’ll show up when they ask. They’re both great guys, and sincere too.

I really do feel bad about the Bob and Tom thing, but what else can I do about it? I said I was sorry, and they rejected it. That’s life. It’s like Jackie Mason’s banishment from The Ed Sullivan Show or any number of other showbiz grudges. This is how it can play out.

I will do what I can with what I have, wherever I am. Today it was Rockford, and it was totally worth the trip. I practiced promoting Uranus Factory Outlet and the guys loved the concept. They played around with it, and I got a chance to practice in a safe environment.

Jim McHugh rode out there with me, and he’s been especially helpful recently. He said he’s going to jump in my face and make me focus on this project, and he totally has. It’s a godsend, as I’m always all over the place. He’s helping me stay focused and I need that.

It’s always easier to help others. It’s helping one’s self that seems to be the hardest. Jim has been a real friend by doing this, and I absolutely see improvement by him doing it. I’ll  pay him back by doing all I can to help him too. That’s what friends do. Today was good.