Posts Tagged ‘Cathy Rubino’

A Night Of Stories

September 2, 2013

Friday August 30th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL 

   If for only one time in my life I’d love to know what it’s like to be in the right place at the right time. I certainly know all too well from a pantsload of personal experience what it feels like to be off the radar and nowhere close to the center of what’s happening – and of that I have had my fill.   

   Happening my way into standup comedy in the ‘80s just as the boom years were about to begin has been about the closest I have come to date to hitting a home run, but even that wasn’t a grand slam. Had I possessed the rock solid headliner act I have now, I’d have been a multi millionaire.

   Instead, I clawed my way up the ranks and earned my stripes over decades of paying dues. I’m fine with paying my dues – everyone has to – but it would be nice to get paid back in money. As of now, I’ll be very much upside down on the dues to payoff scale if it ends tomorrow, and I feel like I got cheated. I’d hate to think I came all this way only to get skunked in the end. How cruel. 

   The entertainment fad of the week seems to be storytelling. There are groups popping up with names like ‘The Moth’ and ‘Ex Fabula’, and I’m hearing they’re selling shows out in New York and it’s heading west. There are groups in Chicago and Milwaukee, and I hear it’s catching on.

   I don’t know why it’s catching on, but apparently it is. My long time friend Dave Hendrickson in Milwaukee has been part of the scene there for a while, and even ran his own events at a place called The Safe House. He asked me to participate, and I said yes. If there’s one thing I’m loaded with in life it’s stories. I don’t have to make anything up, and could fill up a whole show myself.

   Another friend Bill Gorgo in Chicago has done some storytelling events there, and has enjoyed the experience. Dave suggested we try a night of storytelling somewhere, so I suggested we do it at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. They have a nice performance space there, and it’s small enough where the risk wouldn’t be huge if nobody showed up. I’m always up for rolling the dice.

   I didn’t want it be a sausage fest, so I asked a former student named Cathy Rubino to be part of the mix so we’d have at least a little diversity on the bill. Cathy is loaded with creative talent and was excited when I asked her to join us. If nothing else, it would be a refreshing change of pace.

   Tonight was our first show, and it came off very well. We didn’t sell out, but we did manage to rustle up enough to have a show. On a holiday weekend, I’ll consider that a victory. It’s difficult to get butts in seats for any reason, and this was no different. We did our best to get the word out.

   Dave has a couple of nice video cameras, so we were able to do a two camera shoot. Hopefully that can be cut up into a demo of some sort and we can get some paid bookings if indeed this is a viable product. I’m personally not that impressed with it as a genre, but what the hell do I know?

   I wasn’t impressed with rap either but that sells to the masses big time. I still think it stinks, but someone is getting paid a lot more than me. If storytelling is what’s selling, I am locked, stocked and ready to rock. Standup comedy is WAY harder, but if this is the flavor of the month I’m set.


Finding A Coach

April 29, 2013

Friday April 26th, 2013 – Niles, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   I’m getting ready for my last night of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows for the immediate future, but my offstage work is just beginning. This is a project that should last for years, but I don’t intend to rest on my laurels and coast through it. If I’m going to do it – and I am – I want it to be great.

   The only way anything can be truly great is to keep working and improve every aspect. I don’t think I’m above this process, and in fact I want to completely rebuild myself from the ground up. I’m going to examine and reexamine myself from all angles, and build something to be proud of.

   On stage, I need to have a solid structure. I couldn’t be any farther from that if I tried, and it’s a frightening place to be. I have some of the ingredients in place, but none are in any kind of order or set dosage. I’ve been randomly experimenting, and that’s not any way to achieve real success.

   It is the way to get started though – at least for me. I’d much rather get it out there and begin to shape it than leave it in the planning stages forever. I know a lot of people who talk about a lot of projects they’d love to do, but never even test any of them once. Ideas are useless without action.

   One thing I’m not afraid to do is take action, and so far it’s been a gigantic learning experience. I have enough stage chops that I can pull off an acceptable show with audiences, but I won’t fool myself into believing the array of flattering comments I have gotten mean it’s a finished product.

   It SO totally isn’t – onstage or off. I met with Cathy Rubino for breakfast today. She’s a former comedy class student with a background in acting and theatre and she’s nothing short of brilliant. I could tell she had the creative spark in class, but she never wanted to venture out on the road to chase the standup dream. I can’t blame anyone for that, as the road life is an all consuming beast.

   There are a lot of genuinely talented people who couldn’t last on the road, and it surprises me I made it as long as I did – talent or not. The lifestyle required to be an entertainer is just not made for everyone, but those of us who can manage to survive acquire a callous that helps protect us.

   I know I have a thick one, and sometimes I feel out of touch with ‘normal’ people. They often aren’t on the same wavelength, and that’s why road dogs tend to either be lone wolves or choose to hang around other road dogs exclusively. I don’t think either of those are the smartest choices.

   Why not hang around those who can be a link to actual customers? Cathy is a perfect example of someone who gets both sides. She’s an amazing talent, but she also has a family life and that keeps her grounded. Whatever dents are in her can aren’t noticeable on the surface. I’m not used to being around people like that, but I need to be because she’s exactly like I want my fans to be.

   She’s in the exact right age group, and enjoys entertainment. She didn’t grow up in Milwaukee, but totally understands what I’m trying to do. She offered to coach me from a theatrical point of view, and I gratefully took her up on it. She’s got experience, and I know I can learn from her.

   She drove up with me for the first week, and saw the shows in person. She made notes, but we agreed that we’d hold off until I had a few more shows under my belt to compare and see how it all worked out. I filled her in on how the other shows went, and we went over the notes she made the first week. She had a lot of very solid ideas, and her insights from a theatrical background are something I wouldn’t get from another comedian. This is the correct path for pursuing greatness.