Posts Tagged ‘Bonkerz Comedy Club’

Roll The Credits

April 29, 2013

Saturday April 27th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   It’s been four weeks, eight shows and one fantastic experience, but “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” is coming to an end – at least for this run. I had a fantastic time with every aspect of the experience, but now all I can see is a big empty summer calendar to fill.

   Before I delicately tiptoe in that unpleasant direction, I have a very long list of super people to thank for helping make this month run so smoothly. By all accounts, it was a big success and will be back again for another run. That’s all I could hope for going in, and it happened. I’m thrilled!

   Everyone at Potawatomi was an absolute pleasure to work with, and I do mean EVERYONE. I felt welcomed from the start, and I felt like I was part of a team rather than an outsider booked to do my job and then leave. It’s common to be treated that way in comedy clubs, and this is better.

   From the top, Entertainment Director Bob Rech actually came out to see the show and talked to me like a human being rather than boss to employee. He gets the concept, and sees it as a product that can be developed over time to everyone’s benefit. This is the perfect location for this show.

   Kim Mitschke was also on top of it. She’s the media contact person, and set up the sneak peek preview show that went extremely well. Everything was handled in a professional manner, and it was a joy to see it unfold. I never doubted for a second this would be a big hit, and I was correct.

   There’s no way I could have pulled this off myself, and I know it. There was a video billboard on the freeway for Potawatomi that had me in rotation for the month, and I got all kinds of email and calls from Milwaukee friends telling me they saw it. I never could have afforded that myself.

   Then there was the actual staff at the Northern Lights Theatre. Steve in charge has always been a fan and supporter, and he had nothing but nice things to say about the show. Another Steve is a security person and he’s also seen me before. I feel at home in that facility whenever I show up.

   Mark Filwett did an outstanding job on the website www.schlitzhappened.com. He put together a collage of old Milwaukee stuff on the homepage that flat out kicks ass. It’s perfect for what the show is, and I know we’ll build the site as the show itself builds. I need to keep creating content.

   Jewel Olson was beyond helpful as my right hand person the whole time. She really was a help on many levels, and I’d equate her to a pit crew for a NASCAR driver. She had my back the four weeks, and made my life much easier. Every penny she cost was worth it, as was Jeff Lampton’s time to video record the final six shows. He and his brother Chris were also easy to work with.

   Mark Heleniak was also a huge help by putting together the recording of old media jingles that were played before the shows. Seeing heads snap back with recognition as something played was exactly the result I was looking for and I got it. The right people all came together for this project to succeed and it absolutely did. It went better than many expected, but everyone seems satisfied.

   Then there were all the people who showed up from family to friends from all areas of my past to strangers who showed up to see a show. I had overwhelmingly positive reaction from all of the above, and if someone didn’t enjoy it they surely didn’t tell me. I felt nothing but positive energy the entire eight shows, and even though I know I have a long way to go I’d still call this run a big success. I also thank Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Club, and anyone else I failed to list.

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Schlitz Hits!

April 8, 2013

Saturday April 6th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   I did it! I officially turned an intangible dream into a rock solid reality, and it’s beyond exciting to know that not only did it go extremely well – it’s only just beginning. I’ve finally got myself a legitimate hit on my hands, and after more than my share of flops it feels so good I can’t sit still.

   “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” made its official debut tonight at The Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee for two shows, and I could not be any happier with how everything turned out. It went about as well as anyone could hope for.

   I knew going in I didn’t have a finished product, so my expectations were low. My main worry was if anyone would come out to see it, but that went away quickly as I watched a line of people waiting to get in the theatre at 7:50. I could barely refrain from jumping and screaming with glee.

   All I need is for people to latch on to this concept, and I’m going to be able to do this for years to come should I choose to and why wouldn’t I? I have all this local knowledge deep inside, and where else could I ever use it? There are enough people who know what I’m talking about to put it to use for everyone’s benefit. It’s going to take a lot more polishing, but the raw spark is there.

   The shows tonight were at 7 and 9, and there were more people at the first show then they have ever had for Bonkerz Comedy Club shows. BINGO! That’s all that matters right there. The show doesn’t have to be good unfortunately; it just has to get people in the door. I’m learning that’s the key ingredient in show business – even though it goes against all of my instincts as a performer.

   I’m not saying I don’t want it to be a good show, I totally do. But it doesn’t matter how good it may be if nobody comes out to see it. Tonight they did, and it was wonderful. The second show’s crowd was a bit less than the first, but together for both shows it was their biggest attendance for comedy shows ever. That’s not a bad way to start, but I’ve got a long road of hard work ahead.

   I’m not taking any credit for any of what happened tonight. Potawatomi has a high visibility in town with media, and they were the ones who got the word out. Bob Rech is the one who gave it the green light after hearing about it from booker Joe San Felippo. I sold Joe, Joe told Bob, and it grew from there. Bob gave it a shot, and Kim Mitschke and the P.R. department went from there.

   The word was put out, and then we had our dry run last Tuesday. Every opportunity was given to me to have the best chance of performing for a full house, and that’s how it came about. I had a few people I know show up to support, but the majority of who came out were total strangers.

   THEY are the ones who have to like this show, and judging from the response they totally did. I encourage audience participation at a certain point, and both shows had a lot of it – and exactly the way I wanted it. Nobody was yelling up drunken gibberish. They added to the show’s flavor.

   The first show was a challenge to maintain an hour and twenty minutes, but I did. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but being up there for that long isn’t easy. I threw in some standup bits to assure I wouldn’t totally bore them, and it worked. I did my time, and had plenty of material left.

   The second show felt a lot more relaxed. I felt a major improvement in only one show, and the crowd was really into it. I ad libbed all kinds of stuff, and they got it all. I’m not cocky, but I just know this is a big hit. It will take a lot more work, but I’m totally up for it. Schlitz is happening!

Golden Rule Enforcement

February 24, 2013

Thursday February 21st, 2013 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI

   If I can ever help someone else out of a bind, I always make a sincere effort to do it. I know the feeling all too well of needing help myself, so I’m extra sensitive to pitching in when or however I can. It’s never a matter of getting anything back for myself – I just feel it’s the right thing to do.

I know it sounds corny and sappy, but I really mean it. The Golden Rule is a wonderful base on which to build a successful life and I am a big proponent of trying my best to live by it every day of my existence. Today I had a chance to help two people with one action, so I had to get it done.

Joe Nuccio is one of my comedy students who is taking it farther than most and is getting some actual bookings. He’s been a successful professional musician for years, but always wanted to try comedy and is doing quite well despite his short time in the business. He understands the game.

Joe was booked this week on a run of casino shows that started in Sault Ste. Marie, MI tonight and includes Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee on Saturday and the Island Casino in Harris, MI on Sunday. I’ve done that run many times myself, and am familiar with all the driving it entails.

Joe’s brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly earlier this week, and Joe found himself having to participate in the funeral which turned out to be today. He was extremely frazzled, and knew it wouldn’t be a popular decision to cancel on the booker the day before the gig – and it wouldn’t.

I happen to also know the booker, Joe San Felippo from Bonkerz Comedy Clubs. Joe now lives in Orlando, FL but is originally from Milwaukee and I’ve known him for twenty-five years. He’s very down to earth, and we’ve always gotten along very well. He has a human side and has never been unreasonable, unlike a lot of bookers who can really hold grudges. Joe is easy to work with.

I was in the unique position of knowing all sides of this situation, and I knew the consequences should Joe Nuccio back out would not be good. Joe San Felippo doesn’t know Joe Nuccio, so it’s not a matter of calling in a favor. If a professional entertainer books a gig, it’s his or her job to be there as agreed upon. Deaths in any family are unfortunate but inevitable, and work comes first.

Joe Nuccio knows that from being a professional musician, and he was in a real bind. I’ve been in similar situations myself and it’s never fun. I happened to be off this particular week and knew the only solution that would allow everyone to walk away happy would be for me to fill in on the run and make the brutal 500 mile drive to Sault Ste. Marie. I told both Joes I’d volunteer to do it.

I wasn’t thrilled about having to make that drive, but if that was the worst part of it the benefits far outweighed any inconvenience. The Kewadin Casino always treats comics well, and I would be doing the opening slot so that’s like a night off. I wasn’t doing anything, so why not help out?

Everyone involved was delighted I was willing to do this on short notice, and the drive turned out to be a breeze – especially for February. There was no bad weather, and I got there in plenty of time to get my complementary dinner. It felt good to be able to help two people in one pinch.