Posts Tagged ‘breaks’

An Extended Mess

July 23, 2014

Friday July 18th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

My life is an extended mess, and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not messy like a lot of people, and in fact my mess is pretty boring. There are no drug or alcohol addictions or cheating on my pregnant wife with a secretary. But it’s still there. A mess is a mess, and they’re a bitch to clean.

I am flopping around desperately like a fish in a boat, with a giant hook in my mouth. My eyes are bugged out and I’m suffocating – with water just inches away. If someone would remove the hook and toss me back in the water, I would have a chance to start over. I would like that chance.

The hook in my mouth is being an entertainer. I have given up everything else in order to attain a skill level most never come close to, but it has put me in an unstable financial position. I can no longer earn a living like I have all of my adult life and my eyes are bugging out. I’m suffocating.

But water is just inches away. All it would take to turn my life around is one phone call with an extended run of bookings somewhere. It could be comedy clubs, casinos, cruise ships colleges or I could write for a TV show. I could also do radio. It’s not like I’m a total zero. I have a skill set.

The skill set I have is very specialized, and those that are at the top end of the scale are hauling in enormous bank. I don’t need that right now quite honestly. I’d be thrilled with medium money on a steady basis, but entertainment is a feast or famine game. I am smack dab amidst a famine.

There are few if any entertainers that don’t experience this at some point, but many have a nest egg put away to fall back on during the lean times. I had one started, and a nice one at that. Then I had a “worst case scenario” pop up in 2011 and health problems cleaned out every last nickel.

This was after getting blasted out of a radio gig in 2004 that would have paid great money and offered full insurance benefits so the crisis in 2011 wouldn’t have been nearly as devastating as it was. But it was. And ever since then I have been watching everything I have worked so hard for for so long dry up in front of my eyes. I know I’m not the only one suffering, but it’s still a mess.

How does one manage to clean up a life mess? It usually takes a while for one to develop, and it can’t be taken away in one fell swoop – even though that’s what most of us expect. It’s like the dieter that took a lifetime to put on that extra 100 pounds, but expects to take it all off in a week.

It’s not realistic, and in fact it’s dangerous to even try. There has to be a slow steady battle plan in place, and it’s neither pleasant nor easy. But that’s what it takes to achieve desired results, and it gets harder as one gets older because so many other things pop up and become obstacles also.
I’ve got so many problems right now I have no idea where to start. I do a little something every day on as many as I can, but then I look at how high the mountain is and I lose hope. What’s the solution? I sure wish I knew. A steady income would make things a lot easier, but how to get it?

I’m working on getting a resume out to ‘normal’ jobs, but I can’t lie. My heart isn’t in it. I need stability, but I sure don’t want to do it this way. Landing another radio gig that lasts several years would be ideal, but who is passing those out these days? Nobody. Back to cleaning up my mess.

Sometimes I feel like a fish sitting at the bottom of the boat - with water just inches away.

Sometimes I feel like a fish sitting at the bottom of the boat – with water just inches away.

Thank You David Letterman

April 5, 2014

Friday April 4th, 2014 – Chicago, IL

Just as it is in life in general, breaks in show business can come from anywhere at any time. If I could know where to be and when to be there, I would obviously show up. But it’s not that easy, and that’s why this business can be so maddening. Some catch their break early, others never do.

An example of a break I caught years ago was getting a call out of the blue to open for George Miller in Cincinnati. George was a really nice guy, and we became friends. He was also friends with David Letterman, as they had come up the ranks together in L.A. George was in my corner.

The booker that week stressed that I needed to work clean, which was not a problem. George’s act was also clean, and I was a perfect opener for him at the time. He thanked me for doing what I was hired to do, as often comics have no clue where the line is and aren’t able to change styles.

That one crossing of paths led to years of friendship, and I really liked George. He passed away a few years ago, and he was very sick at the end. I was sorry to hear it, but he ended up including me in his will. I was able to get him a New Year’s Eve gig one year when he needed money, and the amount he earned that week was what he left me in his will. I had no idea he would do that.

George had some severe health problems at the end, and David Letterman ended up paying his medical bills. I’m sure Dave didn’t want that to get out, but he’s about to retire now so what does he care? It was an act of kindness and loyalty to his longtime friend, and I think that’s wonderful.

I think it’s even more wonderful because had he not stepped in, there would have been nothing left in George’s will to go to the people he left money to – including me. So indirectly, I owe an extremely big debt of gratitude to Mr. Letterman even though I’ve never met him. Thank you sir!

Unfortunately, I had to spend that money on living expenses when I had my diabetes diagnosis in 2011, but thanks to him and George, I was able to survive. I’ll be eternally grateful to both of them, and it all came about because I happened to get paired up with George all those years ago.

I sure could use another break like that somehow. This week I had a call to go to Nashville and open for Damon Wayans. I had to turn it down because I was already booked in Chicago backing up Jeff Garlin at the locations he wasn’t working. Is that a career move? Nope. It’s just money.

Would Damon Wayans be able to help me? I bet he probably could if he wanted, but there’s no guarantee if I had gone that we’d even cross paths. It would have been a total crap shoot, and I’m not saying I missed out on anything other than a chance to maybe get seen and maybe get a break if we hit it off like George Miller and I did. Again, nothing is a formula. It just kind of happens.

In theory, I should be trying to get as many dates opening for big stars as I can. In reality, that’s not always easy for one but it’s also not a great way to showcase one’s talents. The audience sure doesn’t care about the opening act, and often the star is so worried about everything else that we never get to cross paths more than a quick hello. Where is my break? It’s impossible to predict.

George Miller and I were friends for many years. It all started when I opened for him for a week in Cincinnati.

George Miller and I were friends for many years. It all started when I opened for him for a week in Cincinnati.

George was also friends with David Letterman. At the end of George's life, Dave paid his medical expenses which allowed money George left for me in his will to come to me. Thank you both!

George was also friends with David Letterman. At the end of George’s life, Dave paid his medical bills which allowed me to receive money George left me in his will. Thank you both!