Posts Tagged ‘Charles Manson’

Comedian Tim Wilson

March 1, 2014

Thursday February 27th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

The standup comedy world is flying flags at half mast today in honor of a freshly lost comrade. Tim Wilson has passed away apparently from a sudden heart attack, and the planet will miss him whether they know it or not. I crossed paths with him several times, and he was a wonderful guy.

I’m not sure if he was originally from Atlanta, but that’s where he lived when I met him around 1984. He was working at a club in Milwaukee called The Comedy Corner, and I was just starting out then. I would go and watch the week’s comedians when I could, hoping to learn from them.

Tim worked there several times as a feature act, and he was very southern but also very funny. Milwaukee crowds can be rather stiff to say the least, but he never flinched at any time and just did what he did. I happened to enjoy it immensely, and we struck up a friendship at that time.

He was one of those guys one can’t help but like, and since we were both hungry to get into the business we hit it off nicely. I got what he did, and when he would come through Milwaukee I’d make a point to go see him whenever I could. There were a lot of comedians like that back then.

Another guy that worked that club frequently then was Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay of all people. I saw him several times as he was first getting started, and he was quite different than the character the public ended up knowing. That was just part of his act then, and Tim was his opener quite a bit.

Looking back now that’s one of the oddest standup comedy pairings imaginable, but it worked well at the time. They were both putting their acts together, and I wish there were tapes of those shows to show young comedians that everyone starts at the bottom and has to build their legend.

The last time I crossed paths with Tim was several years ago at Zanies in Nashville where we were both part of a television taping for a show called ‘Comcast Comedy Spotlight’. The shows were thirty minutes long and featured two comedians, and I happened to be paired with Tim for my appearance. They recorded several shows that day, and it was a long grind for everybody.

We were told to keep our times very tight, and that’s normal for television. I went first, and did my time to the second. For whatever reason, Tim went long and they couldn’t get him off stage. I have no idea why he did that, but it didn’t go over well with the producers. They were incensed.

Tim got an ear full, but he blew it off. Then the whole group of comedians went out for dinner, and I sat at the table next to Tim and his manager Chris DiPetta. We ended up making each other laugh the entire evening, and our end of the table kept the party going. We were all lighting it up.

It was one of those special nights hanging with comedians that I’ll cherish forever. Tim was as nice as they come, and extremely genuine and down to earth. I wish I’d stayed in closer contact, but it’s too late now. All I have will be the times we did have – but every last one was pleasant.

Somewhere out there there’s a ‘Comcast Comedy Spotlight’ episode featuring Tim Wilson and Dobie Maxwell. I never saw it, but it sure was fun to record. May Tim’s memory live on forever. Bastards like Manson and Castro are alive, but Tim Wilson isn’t. What’s wrong with this planet?

There are nice guys, and there are funny guys. Tim Wilson was both.

There are nice guys, and there are funny guys. Tim Wilson was both.

He was also a comedian and musician - and good at both. That's rare.

He was also a comedian and musician – and good at both. That’s rare.

Somewhere in the cosmos there is a 'Comcast Comedy Spotlight' show featuring Tim Wilson and Dobie Maxwell. I'm honored to have known him.

Somewhere in the cosmos there is a ‘Comcast Comedy Spotlight’ show featuring Tim Wilson and Dobie Maxwell. I’m honored to have known him.

Charles Manson – Chick Magnet?

December 3, 2013

Monday December 2nd, 2013 – Island Lake, IL

One of the cruelest and most vicious jokes life plays that I fail to find the least bit funny or can ever begin to figure out is why every woman I am even the least bit attracted to likes “bad boys”. I have never been, am not that now, and don’t see myself being one in the future – and it stinks.

What reminded me of this sobering fact – and not that I needed to be – was a recent news story where Charles Manson apparently has a 25 year old girlfriend who wants to marry him in prison. She moved across the country to be near him, and she visits him regularly every weekend. Puke.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Infamous serial killer ‘The Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez allegedly had numerous women writing him in prison with marriage proposals as did Ted Bundy. My father was a complete ass, yet he managed to put my step mother under his abusive spell and they stayed together for decades. He beat her and treated her like dirt, but she would never leave.

I just don’t get it. What in the female psyche is attracted to this like a moth to a flame? Do they not realize the flame will destroy the moth if it gets too close? Apparently there is a gene in their DNA that I just don’t have. I love to treat women like queens – but that’s never what they want.

How many women have I lost out on because I’m “just not interesting”? Damn that hurts, but it has happened again and again. I had a woman I wanted to marry many years ago, but she wanted ‘stability’. Fair enough. My lifestyle is pretty transient, and I saw her point. Then I ran into her at a show just a few years ago and the ‘stable’ guy she married had dragged her through the ringer.

Am I happy this happened? Of course not, but I’m also not surprised. I may not be ‘interesting’ to women, but at least I’m loyal and trustworthy. Excuse me for thinking that’s how I’d expect to be treated by a mate and want to do it in return. Apparently, Mother Nature has a different idea.

Charles Manson is getting stalked by a 25 year old chickie in his golden years, and I’m not able to land a desirable mate to save my life. The women that show interest in me just aren’t ones that I am interested in, and I can’t figure it out. Out of seven billion people living, I can’t find ONE?

There is one woman I’ve known for years that I’ve always thought was ‘the one’. She’s got all the tools I like, and I’m absolutely gaga over her. She’s gorgeous, has a great job, is smart, funny and a non smoker. I melt when I’m near her, and I asked her out years ago. She said then that she “still had feelings for her old boyfriend” so I backed off. That was probably my biggest mistake.

We still stayed in contact for years, and have seen each other quite a bit on a platonic basis. I’m extremely fond of her, and we get along great. We go out to eat and talk, and if I had to narrow it down to one woman on the entire planet it would totally be her. I felt like I wasn’t in her league.

Then recently I met her ex, and now they’re hot and heavy again. He’s an oafish lout, and talks like a farmer with “dese, dem and dose”. THIS is who she wants? I realize I’m no Brad Pitt, but this goof is a total rube and I am flabbergasted that of all the men on Earth she chooses him. This cycle has gone on forever, and it stings like hell. It rips my heart out by the roots to know she has fallen for this mook – AGAIN – but I can’t change it. I’ll never be that bad boy hot women want. I give up.

"Chick Magnet" Charles Manson. What father wouldn't be proud to have his daughter hook up with a celebrity?

“Chick Magnet” Charles Manson. What father wouldn’t be proud to have his daughter hook up with a celebrity?

Here's the happy couple enjoying a romantic moment in prison. Will someone please just shoot me in the head and get it over with?

Here’s the happy couple enjoying a romantic moment in prison. Will someone please just shoot me in the head and get it over with?

Hey ladies! Here's another catch you missed out on.

Hey ladies! Here’s another catch you missed out on.

I might dream of Heather Locklear...

I might dream of Heather Locklear…

...but I wind up with Heather Loch Ness. Very funny, unless it's you.

…but I wind up with Heather Loch Ness. Very funny, unless it’s you.

No Guarantees

September 28, 2013

Friday September 27th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I had a tentative gig booked for tonight that was what’s known in the business as a “door deal”. That means the performer gets to keep an agreed upon percentage of the cover charges collected at the door. In this case, I was to get 100% which is as good as a door deal gets. I was optimistic.

The venue held roughly 100 people, and the cover charge was $10 per person. On paper, I had a chance to make a decent payday – not to mention a chance to sell some merchandise. The joint was in an affluent area, and they’ve only tried comedy shows once before. I thought I’d gamble.

What I didn’t plan for was the place closing down completely, which is exactly what happened. I called to confirm on Monday, and was told that they were going out of business abruptly and of course that meant my show was cancelled. I was counting on making at least a little bit of money for the week, but now it’s a total loss. September has been brutal, and has totally wiped me out.

I’m to the point now I can barely put gas in my car. I’ve got work coming up in the next three months, but that doesn’t do me much good right now and I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to make it day to day. I never thought I’d be this low this late into it, but that’s how it’s turned out.

There are a variety of odd circumstances that put me here, and many of them are plain old bad breaks. Woulda, coulda, shoulda isn’t going to change anything, but I sure am in the trick bag for the time being. I’m working hard every day to get myself out of this rut, and I could use a break.

Then just when I thought I was in a bad way, I heard that some comedian friends of mine are in a whole lot worse shape than me. Scot Wickmann is a Chicago comedian I worked with steadily for a few years when I was with a group called Chicago Style Standups. I knew him long before that from the comedy trail, and we always got along well. He was just a guy out making a living.

I was surprised to hear Scot had triple bypass surgery this week, and it made me sad. Scot has had quite a few health problems over the years, and I never wish that on anyone. He’s a diabetic and also has been on kidney dialysis for several years. That sounds extremely painful, but after I got out of the hospital with my own type 2 diabetes diagnosis Scot was right there to help me.

He brought me to the hospital he goes to for his dialysis, bought me lunch and introduced me to his dietician who joined us and made suggestions on how I can change my diet to improve my condition. That was unbelievably nice of him, and I never forgot it. He didn’t have to do all that.

I’ve tried to keep in touch with Scot and a lot of my other friends – comedians or not – but it’s a daunting task with how hectic life gets most of the time. Who has time to connect by telephone much less in person? Time slips away from all of us, and weeks become months become years.

I also received some sad news that another comedian friend Jim Wiggins is going in for cancer surgery in a week. There’s another comic well liked and respected in the business. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Jim, but he and Scot are suffering miserably while boils on the face of the Earth like Charles Manson and so many others are pictures of health. I just don’t get it, but it seems to happen all the time. I’m sad my gig got cancelled, but even more so for Scot and Jim.

Scot Wickmann "The Married Man" - if you pray, please offer something up. Triple bypass surgery is no joke.

Scot Wickmann “The Married Man” – if you pray, please offer something up. Triple bypass surgery is no joke.

Jim Wiggins can use some prayers and good vibes too.

Jim Wiggins can use some prayers and good vibes too.

A Day Well Spent

June 20, 2013

Wednesday June 19th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Libertyville, IL

   The emotional roller coaster ride continues. It was mostly a series of tremendous ups today, but there was one down. I guess without the downs the ups are meaningless, so for today I’ll attempt to keep my focus on those. There were several, and it was a day that will have a lasting impact.

   I drove up to Milwaukee for a series of errands this morning. With gas prices sky high, one has to clump errands together these days. I hadn’t seen my cousin Wendy in a while, so I asked if she wanted to have breakfast. Her daughter Katie is the working partner of Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert who was severely injured by a wrong way drunk driver in a car accident in October.

   Wendy reported that Josh is not only up and walking, but he’s back to work. That’s miraculous news, and anyone who saw him being rolled into Shank Hall in a wheel chair would agree. I will never forget the emotional vibe that engulfed the room when he arrived that night. It was electric.

    I was delighted to hear the super news about Officer Albert, but then she followed that up with a horrible story about how the 8 year old daughter of her other daughter has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. That really bothered me, and still does. Life can be so ugly, and I fail to see why.

   Why doesn’t Charles Manson have a brain tumor? That waste of sperm chugs on into old age a stalwart picture of health, but a beautiful little 8 year old girl has a brain tumor. Who is in charge of handing life’s fates out, and where is the complaint department? It all seems SO uncalled for.

   After breakfast I attended a book signing by my long time friend Tyrone Pierre Dumas. Tyrone is in the generation of Milwaukee comedians ahead of me, but we’ve been friends going on thirty years now. He goes back to my earliest days, and has always been a supporter of everything I do.

   He wrote a book titled “Food is my Orgasm”, and today was his big day. Tyrone has also been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and has had some other health issues. His book was written with the premise that some people like food more than sex – or at least would have to think about it.

   James Gregory in Atlanta joked about that same thing when we hung out a few months ago. He said if forced to choose between the best sex of his life or a great meal he’d have to really think it over. Tyrone has been working on this book for years, and he put out a press release to invite me so I had to show up. Even with gas prices soaring, the price of friendship was worth every cent.

   At the end of it all, nobody will remember how much my gas cost today. Seeing Tyrone’s face light up with recognition when I walked in the book store immediately told me I had made a wise investment. He was telling everyone that I had driven up from Chicago, and they all appeared to be impressed that someone would come all that way just to attend a book signing in Milwaukee.

   I would have driven up from Miami to see him have his day. Writing a book or doing anything else creative is never an easy task, and I for one can relate to the process. I bought a book at full price, and was happy to do so to support the effort. There was nothing but positive energy in the room, and that’s what life is supposed to be about in my opinion. I was happy to see his success.

   Tyrone stopped doing comedy years ago, but he’s still a dented can like most of us are. He saw the hard road comedy is, and chose instead to be a husband, father, community activist and make his contribution that way. He’s a top shelf human being, and I’m proud to call Tyrone my friend.

   Tonight was also a big night at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL where a comedy class I’ve been teaching had their graduation show. Those are always fun, but tonight was extra special. Of all the classes I’ve ever taught, I’d have to say this was the one that worked the absolute hardest.

   They were a group of Toastmasters, and unlike most of my classes they had previously known each other before signing up. Most of the other classes are random groups comprised of a totally unfiltered mix of anyone and everyone from anywhere and everywhere. This was a different mix.

   These people wanted to learn to add humor to their speeches, and quite honestly I was a bit of a skeptic when I’d heard about them. Improv Playhouse attracts a different clientele than Zanies in Chicago, and it’s far enough away where they don’t compete. It’s not far from home, so I do it.

   We’ve had a few classes to this point, but honestly nothing special. It’s been a tough sell to get full classes, but standup comedy isn’t their focus like a Zanies or any other comedy club. They’re an improv theatre, and standup is a side bar. That’s fine, and if we can fill a class up I’ll show up.

   This was a totally different scenario. They came to Improv Playhouse specifically requesting a class custom made just for them. I’ve had a couple of requests like that over the years, but these guys came to learn. They were from a corporate background as a whole, so I aimed my lessons at that angle. It was a challenge for me to customize my lesson plan, but I always enjoy challenges.

   The leader of the group is a guy named Eric Feinendegen. He’s in the financial business, and is an award winning speaker in the Toastmasters world. He told me at the beginning of class that he wanted me to “whip the group into shape”, so I tried to oblige. If someone tells me they want the truth, I’ve always been one to give it to them. Come to think of it, I give it when they don’t ask.

   It was funny to me to hear these people grumble and groan throughout the run of the class. I’ve never thought of myself as a taskmaster, but they seemed to view me as a cross between Captain Bly and some ruthless Third World dictator. All I was doing was stressing comedy fundamentals, and not backing down. The process is NOT easy, and I assured them I understood their feelings.

   And I totally do. Nothing about standup comedy is easy, even though the best ones can make it look that way. Looking effortless requires PLENTY of effort, and this class got to see how much that was. It was a lot more than they thought, but to their credit they kept showing up each week.

   They had a splendid work ethic, and even though they moaned and groaned they were a willing bunch and trusted my input – for the most part. Some of them fought it at times, but I never mind that at all. I am there to make suggestions, but in the end it’s the student who gets the final word.

   Tonight was their reward for all their hard work and putting up with what they perceived to be my constant and relentless harassment, and they all came through with flying colors. I love to see these nights happen, and I’ve seen it too many times to count. I never get sick of it though, and it was just as much fun for me to watch them go up and kill it as it was for them. They all nailed it!

   The biggest compliment of all came from Eric when he made it a point to come up afterward to tell me I changed his life. He said taking my class opened his eyes to a whole new world, and it’s comments like that that make me keep teaching all these years. What a flattering thing to hear on many levels, and I was truly humbled by it. This was a fantastic night for the class and a big day for Tyrone Pierre Dumas, but I still can’t help thinking about an 8 year old’s delicate situation.

I QUIT!

May 23, 2013

Tuesday May 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   There’s a major upheaval going on inside my head, and I couldn’t be more excited. I know that I need to completely rewire my beliefs down to the core, and as scary as that may be I’m ready to dive in with both feet and make a full commitment. Upgrading my car was a very positive start.

   The next thing that needs to be tweaked heavily is my model for career success. The world I’m in now both professionally and as a whole is completely different than the world I started in, but that can be said of anyone. We’re all learning to adapt and adjust, but the older we are the harder it is to do. Comedians of my generation were spoiled. We got to experience those fabulous ‘80s.

   That was an amazing time to be a comedian – probably the best ever. I’m delighted I got to see and experience it firsthand, but those days are gone forever. I can’t go on conducting business as if times haven’t changed. They absolutely have, and comics from my generation are hit hardest.

   We all clearly remember when there were more clubs than acts, and anyone with a phone and a functioning car could get booked enough to at least squeak out a living. It only lasted for a short time, but boy was it fun. It’s nothing like that now, and that means I have to come up with a new plan – or have a plan period. Back then nobody thought about anything other than their next gig.

   We were able to easily bring in a livable wage almost immediately – even as an opening act – so that virtually NOBODY even thought about merchandising except my friend James Gregory from Atlanta. Kudos and then some to James for being the nationwide leader years before I saw anyone else do it. People used to snicker at him for selling his wares, but who’s laughing now?

   James was smart enough to treat comedy like a BUSINESS. That’s exactly what it is, but most of the rest of us weren’t that smart. We stupidly assumed everything would ‘just work out’ for all us and even stupider than that we assumed it would last forever. I’m embarrassed that I did too.

   Nobody pictures getting older or the times changing, and NONE of us saw the internet coming – not even James. That was the giant fire breathing cross between an elephant and a dragon that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and completely changed the game. It took a while, but it’s here to stay. Anyone who enters the game today has a whole new set of paradigms to deal with.

   I can’t speak for the others of my generation, even though I know more than a few aren’t liking the way things have evolved. I’m not thrilled with it myself, but I have to enter into a mindset of today in order to continue or you can make my next check out to ‘Mr. Edsel’. It’s a new world.

   Unfortunately, funny has little or nothing to do with the game today. It’s all about being able to get noticed. Who has the most Facebook friends? Who can put asses in seats? It wouldn’t matter in the least if the ‘next big thing’ in comedy wouldn’t get ONE laugh. If he or she could fill seats in a comedy club, they’d be instant headliners. I didn’t create this world, but it’s where we live.

   If Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson were to be released from prison and decide to do a tour of comedy clubs, they’d sell out coast to coast in minutes. Again, I’m just reporting the truth. I wish it mattered who’s funny and ethical and nice, but none of that has anything to do with anything. I don’t have to like the way things are going, but I do have to deal with it. The ‘80s are over on the calendar, and they have to be over in my head too. It was a great time, but I can’t live there now. I am now an internet marketer specializing in humorous content. As far as a comedian – I QUIT!    

The Wrong Planet

April 21, 2013

Friday April 19th, 2013 – Chicago, IL   

   I’m having serious doubts as to the logical order of the universe, and I have to admit it’s taking away any and all faith I had in a God. Whatever God is, it’s not what I was told as a kid and I am left with a giant hole in my psyche that’s filled with disappointment and unanswered questions.

   The ugly situation in Boston set me off, and it was on the radio all day as I drove around trying to get errands done. It was on constantly, and every station was making mention of it at least to a degree. Even the music stations were giving updates, so I gave in and followed the chase myself.

   I still can’t understand how the world can have such an insidious side, and the more I followed the story the more it disgusted me. Why useless wastes of DNA like this are allowed to make life miserable for so many is beyond my comprehension. And in the end, where is any fairness at all?

   The older brother (Idiot #1) is dead – and nobody is sorry – but now Idiot #2 is captured and he will be nursed back to health at the public expense to face a trial, and then housed and fed on our nickel for the rest of his natural days. I can’t wrap my tiny brain around any of this, and I’m tired of seeing stories like this happen over and over and over again. None of this makes sense to me.

   I’ve said it many times before and I still feel strongly, I am on the wrong planet. Somehow I’ve taken a cosmic detour to this stench ridden space pebble while the spaceship bound for my planet is missing a passenger. The more I see how things are handled here, the more I want to go home.

   This really bummed me out, but then again I couldn’t stop listening. How one idiot could elude thousands of alleged law enforcement professionals is absolutely fascinating. How could it take a whole day to find this puke? It did, and it made hundreds of thousands of people’s lives difficult.

   Something is wrong deep to the core, but nobody seems to want to discuss it. What could make anyone so heartless as to hurt and kill so many innocent people for no apparent reason? I always hear “that’s the world we live in now.” Now? No, I think it was always like this. That’s my issue.

   Look at Charles Manson and his pals. They went on their little spree in the ‘60s, and it wasn’t a new thing then either. Terror and atrocities have gone on since the beginning of time. Why won’t God protect innocent victims, or at least help us weed all the bad seeds out of our genetic stash?

   I am SO sick of hearing “it’s free will” and “we’ve just gotta have faith.”  My puckering poop shoot. Ask the people in Boston who just lost limbs about any of that. I’m sure they’re delighted to be included in the big heavenly plan. Charles Manson is still alive, but an 8 year old kid isn’t.

   Sorry, this just isn’t right to me. If there is a bigger plan somewhere, I’m not seeing it and it’s a painful experience wandering around a planet where things are getting worse and not better.  I’ve always tried to do the right thing, and I know millions of others do too – but it doesn’t seem to do any good. The bad in the world always seems to wipe out the good, and everyone is worse for it.

   They eventually captured Idiot #2, and even though everyone on the radio seemed to be feeling good about it, I had a hollow feeling inside as I knew this wouldn’t be the last time something as dramatic as this would capture everyone’s attention in the media. It won’t, and the next time this happens I’ll feel disgusted all over again. This is not the kind of place I would have chosen to be my home, and if there is some kind of a God somewhere I hope He or She gets this thing fixed.