Posts Tagged ‘Bob Uecker’

Breathing Room

November 2, 2013

Friday November 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted this to be my best year ever. I don’t know if I made it, but I’m pretty close. Yes there were some disappointments, but for the most part I had a stellar 2013. A lot of exciting things happened this year, some of which have never happened before.

Off the top of my head, I made the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show a reality and performed it several times in a fantastic venue, appeared on local, regional and cable television, had a speaking role in a legitimate Hollywood movie and got to meet and hang out with one of my heroes Bob Uecker.

Those are all highlights in my book, and I enjoyed every one of them. I also went to Atlanta to participate in the Laughing Skull Festival and got to hang out with the great James Gregory at his home there. James is also a hero of mine for how he has built his career, and getting to hang with him for an afternoon was a privilege. He treated me like a peer, and I’m an even bigger fan now.

Another feather in my cap this year was getting to be ‘The King of Uranus’ on March 13th at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game. That was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, and it went over extremely well. I know there’s something there, and I want to keep working on it.

I got to host some talk radio shows at WNTA in Rockford, IL and I really grew as a host in that format. It was a great opportunity to practice. I took full advantage of it as often as I could. I also hosted ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal talk show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI for half the year, and at some point I’d love to get that back on the air somewhere though I need to get paid.

Money was tight again this year, but it is for almost everyone. Summer was a complete disaster financially, but I’ve had a nice run of late and at least have a bit of breathing room. I’ve worked a lot of fun places in the last month and November and December look solid. The money I make is spent before I receive it, but at least my rent is paid with a few bucks left over for the other bills.

Living week to week is SO not what I want to be doing anymore. It’s hectic and a huge energy drain I’d rather not have in my life. Robbing Peter is bad enough, but then not paying Paul makes life a constant shell game. I don’t want to be dodging anybody, I just want to pay up what I owe.

For a while there, I was really in a tizzy. I don’t know how I scraped by this summer, but I sure don’t want that to happen in 2014. The key is to plan ahead, but that’s a lot easier said than done when it’s the end of the month and there’s goose eggs in the bank account. Money is the cushion.

If I can find a way to get some legitimate steady income, it won’t take that long to turn my life completely around in a very short time. I’ve put in my time, and I’m ready for a break. I have no idea what that break will be, but I know I’m ready for something. Nobody I know works as hard as I do for as little a payoff, but I can’t give up now. If anything, I’m going to work even harder.

I know the year’s not over yet, but I’m already planning for 2014 and even beyond. That’s just smart business, and I have to make at least some long term plans even though nothing is going to be guaranteed. I have a much better chance of success if I’m planning for it months or even years ahead, and that’s what I need to do. Money gives me some breathing room to look at my options.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

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Reflections On Celebrity

September 24, 2013

Monday September 23rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I’m still on a high from hanging out with Bob Uecker yesterday, but I realize I’m a ways away from being the big star he is and still have to worry about paying bills every month. Most people never come close to such an elite level of success, and he is the exception rather than the rule.

One thing that jumped out with Bob and every one of the other celebrities I’ve ever met is that they are still people and have real people problems and concerns. They might be a little different than most, but nobody’s life is without any glitches. Bob Uecker has problems just as we all do.

Everyone in that stadium knows who he is, and in the city too. Milwaukee is his home town as it is mine, and that comes with a lot of pressure most people never have to encounter. I feel it on a much smaller level whenever I work a comedy club. There is an entire staff of managers, wait staff, bartenders, ticket takers, dish washers and who knows who else that all know me by name.

Try as I might, it’s impossible to remember everyone’s name and that can be embarrassing as hell when someone comes up and greets me by name when I haven’t seen them in a year and am working at a new place every week with an entirely new cast of characters. It’s mind boggling.

Bob Uecker or any other truly big time celebrity can’t go anywhere without getting mobbed by strangers whether they want it or not. Everyone has moods, and what if one just doesn’t feel like talking on a given day? Then it gets out the celebrity is hard to deal with and aloof. It isn’t fair.

But who said life was fair? It never has been, and never will be. Most people don’t get a statue built in their home town either. Bob Uecker did, and he was alive to see it. Most times that never happens. What good is it to have a statue erected years after someone is dead? His is a rare case.

Another thing Bob Uecker has going for him is the right personality to be a celebrity. He has a quick wit and easygoing demeanor, but I’m sure there are days when he doesn’t feel like being a jokester. I’ve heard stories of people saying he wasn’t ‘that guy’, but I can see why. He’s human.

I happened to catch him on the right day, and he was absolutely fabulous. I will remember it as long as I live, and I’m sure he’s had moments like that with thousands of others. How many of us have that kind of clout? Not a lot. That’s why they’re celebrities. It’s a different world altogether.

Some are made for that world, and spend their entire lives there even though it’s very rare. Bob Uecker has been there since the 1970s, and has cemented himself into the hearts of America. His place is well deserved, but there aren’t many openings. Everyone else has to fight for the scraps.

Others get to that world, but only for a little while. I bet it isn’t hard to find Vanilla Ice or M.C. Hammer’s home phone numbers these days. They had their respective runs, but they’re over with no signs of returning. Then there are those who never get there at all. That would be most of us.

What hit me today the hardest was that in reality I made this happen. I pictured in my mind that I wanted to meet Bob Uecker, and I did what I needed to do to make it a reality. On a larger scale I should be able to do the same with a legitimate comedy career, right? Why has it been so hard?

How many ever get to be truly world famous? VERY few. Can you name the current leader of China? I can't either.

How many ever get to be truly world famous? VERY few. Can you name the current leader of China? I can’t either.

Front Row Treatment

September 24, 2013

Sunday September 22nd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

I can die now. I’m sure there are those that have been wishing that for years, but now I can deal with it with a smile on my face. My personal Mt. Rushmore of heroes to meet is complete, and it was a raging success each and every time. Most people never get to meet one of their heroes, but I hit a grand slam. I’ll have pleasant memories forever, and there’s nobody else I need to chase.

Yes there are all kinds of famous and/or interesting people I wouldn’t mind crossing paths with in person, but as far as super elite status there have only been four – Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin, George Clinton and Bob Uecker. I don’t care if anyone else doesn’t agree with those four as having super elite status, it’s my list and I’ll decide who gets on it. Those four are my biggies.

Today I rounded out my awesome foursome in high style as I got to hang out with Bob Uecker for a good 20-25 minutes – on the field at Miller Park no less. Wow, what a dream come true for a native cheese head and it couldn’t have gone any better. Everything was right, and it was great.

I can’t thank my friend Drew Olson enough for making this happen. He knows everyone at the stadium, and although it was no big deal for him he knew it was a big deal to me so he took time to make the call and walk me through the process. I like to do nice things like that whenever and however I can, and when it comes back my way it’s extra sweet. I’ll remember this day forever.

We were sitting in the dugout at Miller Park – something that by itself was worth my trip – and Bob came out of the other dugout and was standing behind the batting cage before the game. I’ve never been on the field before, so the whole experience was surreal from the start and I loved it.

Drew told me to follow him, and we walked up to Bob and Drew introduced me as a comedian from Milwaukee. That’s all it took. Bob’s eyes lit up, and he shook my hand and started rattling off story after story, and it was like we were buddies for years. It was the right place and the right time, and circumstances couldn’t be better. He had nothing else going on, and had time to hang.

Since I knew of his career highlights so well I was able to keep him talking and recalling funny story after funny story. The guy who was his sidekick in the Major League movies is a comedian friend of mine named Skip Griparis, and that helped forge a bond up front even though we didn’t need it. He was warm right from the start. Everything was laid back, and I loved every second.

What was an even bigger thrill was making Bob laugh a couple of times. I tried to just shut up and let him do most of the talking, but on a few occasions I had a quick story to throw in and his head snapped back with laughter more than once. That’s THE most flattering reaction I can get.

We hit on a lot of topics from sports to show business to being from Milwaukee to professional wrestling of all things. He used to go see it in his younger days and he did a fantastic impression of Dick The Bruiser. Drew and I were bent over laughing, as it really was dead on and hilarious.

I really wanted to get a picture, but things were going so well I didn’t want to ruin the moment. These situations can be very delicate, as it’s almost a peer thing. I don’t consider myself on a par with Bob Uecker, but he and Drew are peers and I didn’t want to put that status into jeopardy.

Another delicate situation was a package I brought for Bob with my DVD, CD and t-shirt from my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show. He if anyone would get the list of jokes on the shirt, but again my wack-o-meter went off and I decided not to force the situation. We were having such a good time I just wanted to enjoy it for what it was. I’ve waited decades to get the chance, so I dialed it back.

As we were walking off the field I asked if he’d mind if I sent him a shirt, and he said he’d like to have one but what else would he or anyone say? “No, stick that shirt up your bilge hole. Like I need to wear a cheap t-shirt from some goofus I don’t know to advertise a show I will never see.”

I’m sure he wouldn’t say that and he didn’t. Before we left the stadium, Drew gave the package to one of the longstanding Miller Park staff who said he would deliver it to the broadcast booth – which he did immediately as we watched. I felt a lot better doing that than trying to do it myself.

I have no delusions that he’s going to listen to or watch my act or wear the t-shirt, but if he had a chance to look at the shirt I’m sure he had a chuckle or two. That’s good enough for me, and he hopefully gave it to someone or even left it in the booth and someone else may get use out of it.

One thing I noticed immediately as we were talking was how ‘the kid’ in him was out. I always heard that with any great comedian, their inner child is close to the surface and easy to identify. I definitely saw it in Bob, and I think he saw mine too. That’s probably why we hit it off so well.

Another thing I noticed was how he had absolutely nothing bad to say about anyone else. He’d only bring up positives and/or good times they’d spent together. He knows celebrities from many fields, and I’m still not sure if the people in Milwaukee realize just how big of a star he really is.

I listened to him tell a few stories of being inducted into more than one Hall of Fame. How rare is THAT? It’s hard enough to get nominated for even one much less inducted into several, but he is although he doesn’t say it to brag. It was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to everything he said.

He pokes fun at himself for his lack of ball playing prowess, but in fact making it all the way to the Major Leagues is no small feat in itself – especially when he did it. There were only 16 teams then, and he still not only got a cup of coffee but managed to stay in the Major Leagues for years.

That’s a noteworthy accomplishment most people would milk for a lifetime, but he also got on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when that really meant something. Not only that, he was on somewhere around 100 times when people would give up a lung to get on once. It’s amazing.

Then there was a successful sitcom in ‘Mr. Belvedere’ that lasted several seasons. Then he was in two ‘Major League’ movies where he stole the show. He did hilarious color commentary work on ‘Monday Night Baseball’, not to mention rose to become one of the best play by play baseball announcers anywhere. Each one of those would be noteworthy by itself, but Bob nailed them all.

Did I forget anything? Well, he wrote two very funny books and also hosted another funny TV show called “Bob Uecker’s Wacky World of Sports”. And he was part of Wrestlemania for what was then the largest audience ever. I don’t need to go any farther – one is impressed or not. I have always been impressed, and to meet and hang out was a big thrill. I was in the front row for real!

Meeting a hero is a thrill. When he's as nice and funny as Bob Uecker - it's a memory I'll never forget! Thanks to my friend Drew Olson for making it happen. What a great experience!

Meeting a hero is a thrill. When he’s as nice and funny as Bob Uecker – it’s a memory I’ll never forget! Thanks to my friend Drew Olson for making it happen. What a great experience!

Meeting Bob Uecker

September 22, 2013

Saturday September 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I have always admired Bob Uecker. I think he’s one of the absolute funniest humans of our time or any other time, and his multi faceted career of long lasting duration is about as impressive as it gets. He has long surpassed entertainment and is now part of American pop culture. Who hasn’t heard of ‘Uecker seats’? It’s part of our lexicon.

For whatever reason, people like to ask comedians who they think is funny. I’ve gotten that for as long as I’ve been a comedian – and that’s a long time. I don’t know why that should matter to anyone, but apparently it does. I’m a fan of the business and a student of the game, so I like a lot of different people for different reasons and many of those people are not known to the masses.

Anyone not in the business wouldn’t care about those reasons, and I totally get it. It’s an inner circle thing, and nothing is more boring than listening to someone prattle on with shop talk when they’re not in the same business. What the masses always want to hear are names of the famous.

I’ve been very lucky in my time to have either worked or crossed paths with some of the most famous comedians of the modern era including Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and that’s not nearly a full list.

I don’t say this to brag, but I’ve been around the block a few times and crossing paths with all kinds of people goes with the territory. I could throw out hundreds of names nobody would care about except me and the people themselves, but that doesn’t capture imagintion like fame does.

Everyone always wants to know “what they’re like”. They’re people, and people are people on all levels. Some are nicer than others, and depending on the day and time you meet them they’re exactly like people are. I’ve rarely been in awe of meeting anyone famous for that exact reason.

As a result, my meetings with celebrities have traditionally gone very smoothly. I’ve treated all of them like people, and that’s how they responded. Only a very few times have I ever been even the slightest bit star struck, and even then in the end it turned out well. Again, they’re just people.

The Holy Trinity of funny people on my personal hero list that I’ve always wanted to meet are (in no particular order) Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin and Bob Uecker. I did get my chance to meet Rodney and George, and both were not only extremely warm and gracious but I also was able to make them laugh. The thrill of having that happen will stay with me the rest of my life.

Tomorrow, I am finally going to get my chance to meet Bob Uecker thanks to my friend Drew Olson. Drew was the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for years, and he’s said in the past he’d gladly make it happen. I’ve never liked asking for favors, but this time I did.

The last game of the season is tomorrow, and the Brewers are out of the playoff picture. I don’t like to bother people, but all I want is to shake Bob’s hand and tell him how much I admire what he has accomplished and what a fan I am of his work on so many levels. It would mean a lot, and if I would happen to be able to make him laugh even once it would make my year. Moments like this are what life is all about. I just hope I don’t stumble and stammer and make an ass of myself.

The great Bob Uecker. Thanks to my friend Drew Olson, I get to meet one of my all time heroes tomorrow!

The great Bob Uecker. One of the funniest humans or our time or any other time.

Thanks to my friend Drew Olson of 'The D-List' on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee, I get to meet one of my all time heroes!

Thanks to my friend Drew Olson of ‘The D-List’ on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee, I get to meet one of my all time heroes!

Relativity

April 20, 2013

Thursday April 18th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   For whatever reason, fate dictated that I was absolutely going to attend the Milwaukee Brewers game this afternoon whether I liked it or not. First, I was offered an extra free ticket by my friend Mark Gumbinger. He and some friends were going to the game, and he was nice enough to ask if I wanted to tag along. I had a gig booked tonight not far from Milwaukee, so I told him I would.

   Then, late last night Mark sent an email saying a few of his rental properties were having flood issues and he wouldn’t be able to make the game. I already had my ticket, but who wants to go to a baseball game alone? I didn’t want to throw away good money on parking just to sit by myself.

   I had already scheduled a breakfast meeting with my cousin Wendy, so I headed to Milwaukee much earlier than I needed to for a noon start baseball game to meet up with her. She’s very fun, and she and her husband Dan came out to see ‘Schlitz Happened!’ last week so I felt I owed her.

   Not only did she buy me a delicious breakfast at The Athens restaurant, she said her son Andy would be at the game and he too had an extra ticket. I told her I already had my own, but I would go and hook up with Andy anyway. He’s been a big supporter of mine, and I am totally grateful.

   I never hung out with that side of the family growing up, but in the last few years we’ve gotten know each other better and I am delighted we did. They’re hard working friendly people and I’m proud to call them relatives. They’re trying to overcome the stench of our family just like I am.     

   Wendy’s father and my grandfather were brothers, and by all accounts her father was an all out   scoundrel. I wasn’t fond of him as a kid, but I didn’t see him all that often. I found out later of an array of ugly exploits, and it made me sick to my stomach. He was definitely from the dark side.  

   My grandfather was one of seven brothers, and was one of few bright spots. Most of the others were lowlifes, reprobates and scumbags. My father was in that category, and he always got along famously with his uncles. I guess we inherit different traits, as my father and I never could find a common ground on any level. He enjoyed the dark side, while I was always trying to escape it.

   Cousin Wendy has always tried to do that too, and has raised a wonderful family. Her kids are all great, and she doesn’t let her past take her down just as I’m trying not to let mine destroy me. It’s not easy to get over a lot of things, and it’s good that we’ve now got each other to encourage.

   I try to stop and see Wendy whenever I’m in the Milwaukee area, and she’s an early riser so it usually ends up being a breakfast at The Athens because it’s close to her house. Sometimes some or all of the family comes along if they’re around, and it’s been a great way to get to know each other later in life when we can appreciate how much we’ve all had to struggle to make it this far.

   It was really fun to hang with Andy at the Brewers game. That’s the most we’ve hung out one on one ever, and I really enjoyed it. He’s a former cop and current bar manager, and he’s one of the most connected people in town. I thought I knew a lot of people, but he’s got me WAY beat.

   One of the people he knows is Bob Uecker’s radio producer Kent Sommerfeld, and those were the tickets we had today. They were great seats, not the typical Bob Uecker seats everyone jokes about. Andy said he’s sure I’ll be able to meet Bob in person eventually, and I’d really love that. It may have taken decades to find them, but I actually have relatives with whom I feel a kinship.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

The Funniest Broadcaster

April 5, 2013

Wednesday April 3rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL  

   I was listening to the Milwaukee Brewers broadcast on WTMJ radio today, and I’m still blown away by the greatness of Bob Uecker. That guy is FUNNY. Period. I remember listening as a kid when he was just starting, and I thought he was a riot then. All these years later, he’s still got it.

I do think funny is an inherent trait for the most part. I know I had it from an early age, and had the ability to make both kids and adults laugh almost at will. I don’t know how I knew how to do that, but I did it whenever I could – usually to the extreme dissatisfaction of an authority figure.

Not many teachers were impressed by my rapier wit, and even fewer bosses liked it when I got out in the working world. I was anything but funny to them as I cracked off line after line, but no force on Earth could stop me from going for the laugh. Like a pig enjoys mud, I enjoy laughter.

I really do think it’s an addiction, but what a wonderful one it is. I can’t see there being a wing at the Betty Ford Clinic for smart asses any time soon, and if there is I don’t want to go. I’m only happy when I can go for the laugh in most situations. Whatever normal is, it doesn’t interest me.

That being said, it has always completely baffled me at how many shoot for a career in comedy that aren’t the least bit funny off stage. It’s been that way since I started, and I have no doubt it’s been around a lot longer than that. For some reason, some people feel a need to pee in the pool.

A guy like Bob Uecker would have been funny if he worked in a funeral parlor. He’s just got it in him, and he can’t help it. I can’t either. I tried being quiet in school and an employee who was ‘on the team’ and all that, but I just couldn’t do it for long. My true colors came out and stayed.

Unfortunately, funny is a subjective thing and not everyone agrees on what does or doesn’t fall into said category. When I was a kid, there were some older kids in my neighborhood that would constantly shoot lines from Jerry Lewis movies back and forth. They thought he was the funniest thing ever, and I never got what they thought was so funny. I still don’t. He does nothing for me.

I guess it’s like a favorite band or restaurant. Once a taste is acquired, it can be enjoyed by the person who acquires it and it becomes the desired standard. We all have individual taste buds, so it’s all over the board as to what’s considered good or not. Nothing is ever liked by everybody.

I know a guy who can’t stand Bob Uecker, as hard as that is for me to grasp. Whenever I bring up how funny I think he is the guy goes off in six directions how he’s overrated and shouldn’t be on the air, blah blah blah. It reminds me how humble we all need to be, as we all have detractors.

I’ve seen more than my share of people walk past me after a show and not even look me in the eye. Those that do have a look of either disappointment or disgust, and I always try to smile wide and make it extra uncomfortable for them on their way out. I find it hilarious when that happens.

It’s a numbers game, and always has been. Life itself is a numbers game from the time that one tiny sperm cell makes it to the egg first and the billions of losers never get to see the light of day. It’s a cruel and vicious world sometimes, but I didn’t design it. I’m just trying to figure it all out.

Before it’s all over, I’d love to get a chance to meet Bob Uecker and tell him how much I have always enjoyed his immense talent. It doesn’t have to be long, a quick handshake and hopefully a picture would do it. I have friends who can make this happen, and it’s time to ask for their help.

Coppock And Uecker

May 3, 2010

Saturday May 1st, 2010 – Wilmington, IL

New month, new attitude. I can feel the funk fade, and I’m ecstatic. Now comes the fun part of a creative blitz, and I’m having more ideas than I can handle. I’m writing all kinds of things down to the point of distraction. It’s like my brain is paying off a slots jackpot.

I know I need to watch what I eat and exercise more, but I did take a stroll today out in the gorgeous sunshine. This is the main part of the year from now until October 1st, and it puts me in a great mood to see the nice weather start. I want to be super productive now.

I continue to get rave reviews on my ‘Hard Luck Jollies’ CD, and I’m thrilled. I’m sure someone doesn’t like it, but those I’ve heard from have all overwhelmingly given it a big thumbs up. Those are the ones I’m trying to please, and apparently I have. I have my next one in the can, and it’s almost time to start working on that one to get it out by October 1.

One of the people who asked for one is Chet Coppock. Chet is THE ultimate sports talk show host of all time in the Chicago area and I’ve always been a huge fan. He was part of the broadcast team when the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship in 1971 and I was just a kid but I remember hearing him along with another classic, Eddie Doucette.

Chet has a style bigger than life, and it totally fits him. He gives guests big intros and is about as entertaining as a radio broadcast can get on a consistent basis. He was a staple on the old AM 1000 when it was The Loop, and the amazing thing was he did a sports show on a station that wasn’t a sports station. It is now, but back then he stood out in the pack.

Every host on Chicago sports radio owes Chet Coppock a royalty check in my opinion, and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. I know when I like someone I tend to be a huge fan, but Chet is truly outstanding. He took a whole genre and really made it his own.

He was working at WLS when Jerry Agar was there, and I got a chance to meet Chet for about five minutes and tell him what a major fan I was. I told him I remembered him back from his Bucks days, and his eyes lit up like brake lights and he told me all about his time in Milwaukee. I could tell it was fun for him too, and to have five minutes was a true gift.

He couldn’t have been any more gracious and friendly, and I’ll never forget it. Who gets a chance to meet their heroes? Not everyone, but I’ve done extremely well. From George Clinton to George Carlin to Rodney Dangerfield to Chet Coppock to many more, I’ve had a chance to personally meet some people I totally admire. Chet Coppock is a true legend.

Bob Uecker is another one, and I read where he just had heart surgery. I hope I’ll get my chance to meet him too, and I put a special thank you on the CD in his honor. I’ve always been a fan of his as well, even though we’ve never met. I’m just asking for five minutes.

Had a fun gig tonight in Wilmington, IL, which is south of Joliet. I worked with my old friends Harry Hickstein and Scot Wickmann. We had big fun onstage and even more off.

Big Odds And Bob Uecker

January 27, 2010

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee today for an appearance on The D-List radio show on ESPN 540  with Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I always love hanging out on the air and they give me walk on status to come in pretty much any time I want. I really appreciate that but I never want to abuse the privilege so I always try to have something to contribute when I’m on.

Today I didn’t have to do much at all, so I tried to insert a few quick lines and then stay out of the way. The whole Brett Favre situation was still the talk of the town and I let the guys take the show where they wanted. They were on a roll so I just sat back and listened. I cracked off a couple of halfway decent lines, but I didn’t want to force it so I laid low.

They have celebrity guests in on Tuesdays and today it was Brian Calhoun, a free agent NFL running back who played with the Detroit Lions from 2006-2008. He played college ball at both Colorado and Wisconsin and he went to high school in the Milwaukee area.

What a nice guy he is. He was very laid back and excellent on the air and he fit in really well with the show. I was fascinated with his stories on air and off of his experience as an NFL player, and all that it takes to get there. He had some pretty nasty injuries, including a ‘ripped quadriceps’. Yeowch. It made us all flinch, and that was just hearing about it.

I can’t imagine the pain of the actual injury, but that’s part of life as a professional. The guy is built like an absolute rock, and has giant hands that could probably twist my melon head off like a bottle cap. If anyone can recover from a ripped anything, I’d bet on Brian.

It occurred to me as I listened to the interview that the odds of being a household name and a genuine star at anything are way beyond astronomical. I mean, here’s a guy that has amazing athletic talent and was at the top of his class in high school and TWO colleges.

Still, he only gets drafted in the third round. ‘Only’, like that’s an insult. It isn’t, and it’s what made me think of just how rare it is to be a top five or ten first round draft choice in any major sport. Even after that, there’s no guarantee of success. A lot of people bust out.

Brian said he still wants to play in the NFL and I’m really rooting for him. He’s over his injuries and said he’s 100% and hopes his agent can land him a job somewhere. That also was a red flag when I heard it. Now he has to jump through all those hoops as well as the actual training and dedication it takes to be a player. Those guys are treated like cattle.

He also said he played on the Detroit Lions 0-16 team in 2008. Everyone made fun of it at the time, but nobody did today because we all realized just how much effort it takes for anyone to even make an NFL roster, much less win a championship, much less one game.

And, no offense to Brian at all, but now he’s gone. He’s only 25, but every year there’s a new crop of young bucks coming up from all over that want to take his job. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and I have nothing but respect for the guy. I hope he gets to return.

Another guy I have nothing but respect and admiration for is Bob Uecker. Today is his birthday and I still want to meet him in person before I take a stray bullet or crash my car again. He’s always been one of my very favorite comics, even though he’s not a standup.

The guy is just FUNNY. Period. He’s got ‘it’, and I’ve found him to be hilarious since I started listening to him do Brewer games on the radio with Merle Harmon as a kid. Then I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and realized he was using the boring parts of games to polish his bits for TV, and the Brewers were pretty bad to say the least.

At the time I had no idea how the process of comedy worked so I’d watch him rattle off stories I’d heard before on the radio, but they were trimmed down to a streamlined polish and flowed seamlessly with a smooth easy rhythm like he was just saying it off the top of his head. Johnny would go nuts and it felt kind of cool to see a local guy on national TV.

Bob Uecker is another example of the numbers game. He plays it up like he was a very poor player, but the truth is he made the major leagues in the early ‘60s when there were  a lot fewer teams. He also lasted for quite a few years and played on a World Series team in ‘64 with St. Louis. There are a LOT of players who never came close to doing all that.

That being said, he still was never a star player. He’s light years ahead of the people on the street, but in the game he was just another guy. He made the most of what he could do with what he had, and then he moved on as crop after crop of new talent kept coming up.

Yes, he sure did find his niche as a broadcaster – so much so that he made Cooperstown. But how many other guys did he play with that went back to their hometown and found a dead end job and drifted off into obscurity? Probably a lot. The whole thing really blows my mind, and it actually puts me in a good space about what I’ve achieved in comedy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big comedy star. I’m not even a small to medium. I’m an above average performer just like Brian Calhoun and Bob Uecker are above average with what they chose to pursue. Both of them made the big time, and that’s no small task for a person in any competitive field like sports or entertainment. A precious few become stars.

I made it to the big time by getting on national TV, even if it was only for a few minutes at 1am. I did it, and it went well. I didn’t embarrass myself, or the network either. I could easily go on and do it again, and would love the opportunity just as Brian Calhoun wants to get another shot at the NFL. It’s not a matter of if he can do it, it’s will he get his shot?

I’m in the same boat in comedy. I could do an infinite number of appearances, but now it’s a matter of how and where will I get that shot? I don’t know, but it’s not out of line to think it COULD happen. Still, there’s no guarantee it will lead to becoming a big star.

The thing we all have to do is keep plugging and do the best we can do. It’s all a major roll of the dice, and odds are against everyone. Bob Uecker played them and won. Brian Calhoun and I are still hoping to hit our jackpot. Someone wins the lotteries, why not us?