Posts Tagged ‘Carl LaBove’

Carl LaBove

October 7, 2013

Saturday October 5th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

I don’t ever intend to stop being a student of the standup comedy game, and that means I won’t ever stop learning – and hopefully growing. I remember seeing an interview with Keith Richards where he had the enthusiasm of a nine year old as he spoke about still learning guitar techniques.

I had that same enthusiasm tonight as I watched Carl LaBove headline at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL for two rocking shows. I have been a fan of Carl’s for decades, and tonight was a refresher course for why that is. He put on a clinic, and I took notes as he lit up both audiences.

There are so many things I like about Carl as a performer I almost don’t know where to start. It doesn’t even include the things I like about him as a person, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. He could be an arch criminal who tortures kittens, but I’d still admire his performing skills.

For those that don’t know, Carl was one of the original “Texas Outlaw” comedians along with Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and several others who started in or around Houston in the early ‘80s. It would have been very easy to mimic the style of someone as influential as Kinison or Hicks, but Carl was and has always been completely true to himself as a performer. His style is all his own.

That’s difficult enough as it is, but being in the shadow of not one but two legendary acts is an oddity for the ages. If anything, Carl had influence on them because of his amazing performance skills and natural stage instincts. He’s a trained actor, and freely taps into that to add to his show.

I’ve never seen any comedian act out a premise better than Carl. He becomes the character he’s talking about in a particular bit, and often takes it farther than where 99% of other acts would go. It’s a joy to watch – especially since I know what he’s doing. The audience doesn’t have a clue.

Acting out a bit is a way to add extreme depth to a comedic idea, and I’m getting a lot better at it myself in recent years. It’s a technique I didn’t naturally embrace at the beginning, but it’s now one of my favorite ingredients to add to my own comedic stew. Some acts use it, others won’t.

I love Dennis Miller’s style, but he didn’t act out one bit when I saw him last week. He stood at the microphone and rattled off a series of jokes. They were great jokes, but that was it. Carl is all over the stage like a jumping bean, and uses every inch of it as his playground. I’m like that too.

There’s no real right or wrong in either style, but I find Carl’s and my way a lot more freeing to be able to have more performance tools to utilize in a given situation. Dennis chooses to do what he does, and it’s been tremendously successful. It’s like a band choosing to include horns or not.

Another strength I admire about Carl is that each performance he gives is his individual gift to that particular audience. Small or large, he crafts each show to the fit of the room and whether an audience knows it or not they’re seeing art being made in front of them. Very few acts can do it.

Carl’s jokes are funny, but combined with his dynamic act outs and individual improvisational skills, he’s an absolute monster and one of the best acts I’ve ever seen. Why he isn’t a household name is beyond me, but I’ll always be a fan. I hope you’ll enjoy him too.

Carl LaBove - a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.

Carl LaBove – a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.

If you can't see him live, Carl's CD 'I Used To Be An Outlaw, What Happened?' is really funny too.

If you can’t see him live, Carl’s CD ‘I Used To Be An Outlaw, What Happened?’ is really funny too.


Hidden Comedy Gems

October 5, 2013

Thursday October 3rd, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

Once again Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago have come through when I could use some work the most, and gratitude permeates my entire being. I’ve got several random fill in dates scattered through the rest of the year, and I couldn’t be happier. I can pay some bills but still remain local.

The openings are at all three of their Chicago area clubs and at all positions on the shows. One night I might be the headliner, and the very next I might feature or host. Normally that’s not how a club books an act and it’s a dangerous game to play politically, but Zanies and I have a history.

They know I’m a strong headliner, and I have nothing to prove. They also know I am versatile enough to handle any role on any show, and won’t bitch about not headlining. I’m there to earn a living, and also to work on new material in a productive environment. Being an emcee or feature in good rooms is the ideal place to work out new bits, and I’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Every comedian wants to be the headliner, but it’s not easy to move up the ranks. I could write several articles about this tricky and delicate process, and I intend to in the not too distant future to benefit up and coming comedians. For now suffice to say I’m thrilled to get the local income.

I have several headline dates coming up soon, but this week I’m hosting three shows at the new Rosemont, IL location. I’m thrilled to be working with Carl LaBove, quite simply one of the best standup comedians in America. In my opinion, he should be a lot more well known than he is.

I’m always bitching and complaining about comedians I think should get more recognition, but I can’t help it. I know how difficult it is just to survive in this insidious business, but then there is a higher level of people with tremendous natural ability who are special. Carl is in that category.

I’m sure it’s the same with actors, musicians, athletes or any other competitive endeavor. There are all kinds of people who want to be stars, but very few have the ability, drive and luck to make it happen as they pictured. The magic formula is a combination of all three – and extremely rare.

I have frequently named all kinds of acts I think should be huge stars, and I mean it. My friend James Gregory in Atlanta is one. That guy hustles his business like nobody else, has a rock solid and hilarious stage character and can work clean. He should be on The Tonight Show, Ferguson, Letterman, Kimmel, Conan or any other show immediately. Find him at

Steve ‘Mudflap’ McGrew is another hidden treasure. That guy is world class funny, and I can’t figure out why he hasn’t popped on a big time level. Jimmy Shubert is another gem. Then there’s Dwayne Kennedy, Steve Seagren, Tim Northern, Beth Donahue, Tim Walkoe, Larry Reeb and a whole lot of others who are out there making people laugh week after week. They’re all warriors.

Carl LaBove is right there with all of them. I first met him when I was just starting out. He was best friends with Sam Kinison, and part of the ‘Texas Outlaws’ with Bill Hicks, Ron Shock and a few other guys from the ‘80s. Carl has an amazing life story which I won’t delve into, but it sure is worth checking out as is his hilarious act. He’s at Zanies in Rosemont, IL the rest of this week, and I will be watching every minute of every show he does. He’s a master.

Zanies is my 'home club'. They have been good to me for decades and I am very grateful.

Zanies is my ‘home club’. They have been good to me for decades and I am very grateful.

Check out my friend James Gregory 'The Funniest Man In America'

Check out my friend James Gregory ‘The Funniest Man In America’

The great Carl LaBove - quite simply one of THE best standup comics in America today. What a talent - and a great guy too.

The great Carl LaBove – quite simply one of THE best standup comics in America today. What a talent – and a great guy too.

Indy Excellence

July 8, 2013

Saturday July 6th, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN 

   I can’t say enough good things about the booking I have this weekend. Everything is absolutely outstanding, and I want to give credit where credit is due. These people are making an effort that I have rarely seen, and I hope they get paid off handsomely for their investment. They deserve it.

   Somebody stuck a LOT of money into this business. They have other locations in Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and soon to be in the western Chicago suburbs from what I hear. I’m not sure if that’s all the locations they plan to open and it’s none of my business, but they’ve put out a lot of cash.

   They’re promoting a concept of a one stop entertainment center, and it’s totally top shelf. They have an amazing variety of video games, a first rate bowling center, a sports bar with a delicious food menu and world class video system, and a live theatre setup where the comedy shows are.

   They also have live bands, and an excellent one was playing as we left the venue tonight. They recently booked Kelly Clarkson in the comedy room, and she drew extremely well from what the G.M. told us. This is no rinky dink setup, and I respect those who took the risk. It’s very gutsy.

   They’re doing it right, and it shows. They’re getting some very solid comedy acts such as Carl LaBove who was best friends with Sam Kinison. I love Carl both as a person and performer, and I see he’ll be here in a couple of weeks. I’m flattered to be booked at a venue of this high caliber.

   This doesn’t seem to be the time to launch a mega venture like this, but then again maybe it’s a perfect time for it. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a clueless pinhead as far as business acumen goes, so if I can’t see an idea clearly it probably means it will be a big time success. I hope this one is.

   Everyone to a person that we dealt with this weekend treated us like big stars from the General Manager Michael Curatolo down to the bus boys in the restaurant where they provided meals for us each night. The entire staff couldn’t have been nicer, and that made it a treat to perform here.

   Brian Hicks is an easygoing laid back chap just as I try to be, and together I can’t think of two more low maintenance comedians anywhere. Still, it felt great to be treated like this and we were not about to abuse it. We went out of our way to say thank you and leave tips when appropriate.

   Indianapolis has always been one of my favorite places to perform, but I haven’t been here in a long time. There has been a bumper crop of excellent comedy venues here since I started, and the town as a whole has been supportive of them all. I’m grateful to get an opportunity to come back, and I hope it’s not the last time. A booking like this makes being a comedian the best job around.

   What isn’t so great is trying to string them together and flesh out a whole year. If it worked like this every week, life would be peachy. It did for a long time, but not anymore. I wish I could find a way to clone gigs like this one, the Zanies clubs in Chicago and Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase. 

   This week and last week in Ann Arbor really helped to bail out my summer, and I hope to keep the momentum going and hit the ground running into fall. Two weeks in a row is a nice little run, and having them in quality places like this makes life fun again. This is how it should always be.

   Because it isn’t, I’m going to be extra thankful for all the perks this week from the luxury hotel to the delicious meals to the state of the art sound and light system.