Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Comedy All Stars’

Braving The Elements

January 27, 2014

Saturday January 25th, 2014 – Woodburn, IN

Comedy work has been flowing very nicely of late, and January has been an excellent month. I love to stay busy, but it always ends up being part of a cycle. Right now I’m riding the wave on a hot streak, and life is peachy. Then it will be slow again, and then heat back up. That’s how it is.

I would absolutely work every night if I could – seven nights a week each and every week – but that’s a tall order. The performing part is that much fun, but unfortunately that isn’t everything to have to think about. Booking actual dates and dealing with travel become a full time occupation.

Tonight was the last of a manufactured three night run and I was booked with Jimmy McHugh and Patti Vasquez for a volunteer fire department fundraiser in a small town near Ft. Wayne, IN called Woodburn. That might not sound very exciting, but these kinds of shows can be electric.

Electricity became an important theme all day, as there was a power outage in the town and we weren’t sure if there would be a show or not. Jimmy and I were booked together in Frankfort, IL last night, so he chose me to be part of this fundraiser to make travel easier. We drove together.

Weather can obviously be an issue this time of year, and we knew that. We expect that driving can cause grief, but we weren’t expecting a power outage. Jimmy called around noon to check on the snow conditions, and was told they weren’t sure if they could get power back in time to do a show. They were worried on their end because they’d sold out and didn’t want to give refunds.

We heard back by mid afternoon they could get an emergency generator, but we were keeping our eye on the weather as well and knew we had some rough conditions for driving. It’s not that far from Frankfort, IL to Fort Wayne, IN with ideal conditions, but in the snow all bets are off.

The drive was unpleasantly tense most of the way as we went through everything from slush to sunshine to snowfall and everything in between. It was way more stress than Jimmy or I wanted, but that’s part of the game. Nobody gets to choose when the stress arrives, it’s always random.

Patti was about an hour behind us, as she had a show in Marinette, WI last night and didn’t get home until 4:30am. Jimmy was concerned she wouldn’t make it, and we would have to cover her time. We could have easily done it, but he promised three acts and didn’t want to fail to deliver.

She ended up making it about an hour before the show, and the three of us were frazzled as we drove to Woodburn from our hotel in the Ft. Wayne area. The shows themselves aren’t stressful, but getting there often is. We’d all had all we could stand all day, but we also had a show to do.

The generator was working fine, and there was a jam packed house ready to forget about power outages and bad weather and have some laughs. We gave them exactly that, and they couldn’t be a better audience if they tried. As stressful as it was to get there, they made it worth the trouble.

Jimmy really works hard booking these shows with his “Chicago Comedy All Stars” fundraiser concept. Last year he was here with Mike Preston and James Wesley Jackson, and they rocked as well by all accounts. He’s always looking for new business – http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.

The Chicago Comedy All Stars specialize in doing fundraiser comedy shows anywhere that needs to raise them. www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.

The Chicago Comedy All Stars specialize in doing fundraiser standup comedy shows anywhere and everywhere that needs to raise them. http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.

Tonight it was in Woodburn, IN with Jimmy McHugh and Patti Vasquez.

Tonight it was at a fire station in Woodburn, IN along with Jimmy McHugh and Patti Vasquez.

The show was really fun, but getting there and back in a snowstorm was brutal. Welcome to show business.

The show was really fun as usual, but getting there and back in a snowstorm was brutal. Welcome to real world show business.

An Unusual Mix

October 27, 2013

Wednesday October 23rd, 2013 – Vernon Hills, IL/Great Lakes, IL

Today was a long day with an unusual mix of activities, but everything was fun. First up was a career fair of all things at Vernon Hills High School in Vernon Hills, IL. I’ve never been part of one of those before, so I went in with an open mind. I looked at it as an opportunity for learning.

Rick Young is Jimmy McHugh’s partner in The Chicago Comedy All Stars group, and they’ve booked me many times to be on their fundraiser shows. Rick is a master salesman by trade, and was asked to be part of the career fair by some contact he made. He asked if I would come along and talk to the kids that had questions about getting into the entertainment business. I said yes.

Part of me was curious as to how many would be interested, and what they thought was funny at that age. It was a good demographics test, plus I enjoy hanging out with Rick. The event went from 9am to 2pm, but it included lunch so I was there. I’m glad I went, as it was very revealing.

The kids were very smart, and asked a lot of intelligent questions. When I asked who they liked as a comedian names I heard frequently were Louis CK and Gabriel Iglesias. I didn’t know what to expect, but those were by far the most frequent answers. I enjoyed talking to them, and the day flew by. I’m glad Rick asked me to tag along and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was productive.

This evening I had a booking at Great Lakes Naval Base in Lake County, IL. I’ve worked there before, and have always had fun. They treat performers extremely well, and the audiences are up there with the best anywhere. They’re very supportive of live entertainment, and that makes it all worth going. It’s close to home too, which is a huge perk. I’ll work there any time they call me.

John Prue and Lisa Weaver were my direct contacts, and they couldn’t have been easier to deal with. There’s a lot of government red tape to go through for security purposes after 9/11, but we worked it out and there were no problems. I brought my picture ID and all of the paperwork they sent and everything came off without a hitch. It was a small price to pay for such a fun booking.

I hosted the show tonight, and it was a breeze. They had some giveaways they asked me to do before the show started, and I’ve had plenty of experience doing things like that. There were all kinds of nice prizes, and I had to make ad libs as people came up to collect them. It was easy.

Then they asked me to do 5-10 minutes to warm the audience up before I brought up the other acts Beth Stelling and then Myq Kaplan. Beth is originally from Ohio but lived in Chicago for a couple of years, and I hadn’t met Myq before. He’s from New York, and has a lot of TV credits.

Both of them were really funny, and good people too. Beth has always been a sweetheart, and now she’s made the big move to LA. She’s razor sharp in her business acumen, as is Myq. I can learn a lot from them both, and good for them for understanding the important part of the game.

The audience loved us all, and it was fun to watch Beth and Myq work as I hadn’t seen either of their entire sets before. We had a lot of fun hanging out backstage before the show, and they treated us like big stars the whole night. We had a deli tray and drinks on ice, and it felt like we were really in showbiz. If there’s a better way to spend a Wednesday night, I can’t think of it.

Great Lakes Naval Base is always a great gig.

Great Lakes Naval Base is always a great gig.

Five Funny Friends

September 27, 2013

Thursday September 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Oh, to have even a teaspoon of power and influence in this out of control tilt-a-whirl known as the entertainment business. I don’t want it so much for me, but to be able to showcase as many of my talented friends and colleagues as possible. That would give me as big of a kick as if I did it.

That’s one of the reasons I was such a rabid fan of Johnny Carson – or at least his position. His show was a launching pad for a lot of acts, but especially comedians. He seemed to enjoy putting people on and letting the public discover their talent, and I would love to be able to do it as well.

On a far smaller scale, any time I’ve had radio shows I have always tried to put as many of my talented friends as I could on the air. I love to be able to let them shine and have their moment in the sun, and I have always been secure enough in my own skin to not have to always be the star.

I talked to my friend Dwight York yesterday, and he’s a shining example of exactly what I am talking about. Dwight is one of my absolute favorite comedians ever, and a super guy to boot. It boggles my mind why he isn’t a big star, and if had even a little influence he’d be one tomorrow.

He’s delightfully sick and twisted, and an absolutely brilliant joke writer. He has a book called “The Vile File” which is a catalog of his best work, and he has a hilarious CD as well. Dwight is also one of the hardest workers around, yet he doesn’t seem to get his due. I don’t understand it.

Check him out and see if you don’t agree he’s fantastic. His website is http://www.dwightyork.com, and if you get a minute send him an email and tell him I told you to say hello. You’ll be a fan for life like I am, and make it a point to see him whenever you can. He never fails to make me laugh.

Another guy I’m in awe of is Don Reese. Don is another dark and twisted hombre, and I mean that in a very positive way. He loves monster movies, and looks like he could star in one. I have always wanted to book a tour with Dwight, Don and another comic named Dan Still. I wanted to call them “The Pirates of Comedy”, and I know they could develop a rabid following all over.

Don’s website is http://www.donreese.com and his DVD “It Came From Iowa” is a must have. He’s like the typical bad guy pro wrestler – scary in the ring, but a teddy bear in real life. Dwight and Don are both sweethearts, as is Dan Still. Put them on a comedy stage, and it’s a different story.

Dan’s website is http://www.danstill.com, and his CD is called “Anger Therapy”. All three of those guys get their ya-yas out on stage, and then off stage they’re mild mannered and sweet. I would LOVE to be their manager and build their brand, but who has time? I’ve got my own problems.

Of course there’s my friend “The Enviromedian” James Wesley Jackson. I’m still trying to get his new DVD noticed, and you can find him at http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com. He’s someone else I think deserves to get some time in the sun. James has paid his dues, and deserves a payday.

Then there’s my good friend Jimmy McHugh and his “Chicago Comedy All Stars” concept. He is another guy who deserves a break. http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com. I can think of a lot more, but for now I’ll leave it at this. Please seek out and support these people. They’re ALL tremendous!

Dwight York - his book 'The Vile File' is laugh out loud funny!

Dwight York – his book ‘The Vile File’ is laugh out loud funny!

Don Reese - "It Came From Iowa" is a must own DVD.

Don Reese – “It Came From Iowa” is a must own DVD.

Dan Still looks like 'The Undertaker' - or is it the other way around? www.danstill.com.

Dan Still looks like ‘The Undertaker’ – or is it the other way around? http://www.danstill.com.

What's an Enviromedian? Find out at www.jameswesleyjackson.com

What’s an Enviromedian? Find out at http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com

Jimmy McHugh - head Chicago Comedy All Star. www.chicagocomedyallstars.com. Great act, great friend.

Jimmy McHugh – head Chicago Comedy All Star. http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com. Great act, great friend.

An All Star Experience

March 25, 2013

Saturday March 23rd, 2013 – Spencer, IA

   What a euphoric experience it was in Holland, MI last night. Who’d ever think a show like that could happen in a place like that? There was no real reason for it, other than everyone showed up at the right place at the right time. That doesn’t always happen, but when it does it’s a real treat.

Those are the shows that keep us all out there chasing this goofy dream, but in reality I actually caught it last night. It only lasted for a few minutes, but I did catch it. When I started, shows like last night were exactly what I dreamed of. I wanted to hear eruptions of laughter from audiences. Period. Location of those audiences was never part of my dream. Holland, MI works fine for me as does anywhere else. All that matters is there’s a live audience and they’re enjoying the show.

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to be king of Las Vegas or Los Angeles or any other place that’s considered the epicenter of the big time, but I think that’s a big mistake. People in Holland, MI or Spencer, IA don’t laugh any differently than the people anywhere else. Laughs are laughs.

There were a lot more of them tonight in Spencer, IA with the Chicago Comedy All Stars. This was another red hot crowd, but it sure was a major effort to get in front of them. It was 530 miles from my house to Spencer, not counting the drive from Holland, MI to my house. I’m delirious.

In reality I should have said no to the Holland show last night. I always hate to turn down work though – especially when it’s as much fun as that whole experience was. Unfortunately, it wasn’t worth the effort on a financial level. By the time I pay for gas and wear and tear on my worn and torn car, I will barely break even. I don’t like to admit that, but facts are facts. It was inefficient.

It would have been a lot smarter to have driven to Spencer with the other acts on the show. Jim McHugh, Tim Walkoe and Mike Preston split a rental car and drove out yesterday. We thought we had a Friday in the Des Moines area, but that fell through last week. I was offered the gig in Holland, so I took it without thinking. That was my problem. I should have thought it through.

A quarter of the rental car and gas cost would have been a lot easier than driving by myself like I did. Also, it would have been a blast riding with three of my favorite comedians and having fun busting balls the whole trip. The camaraderie of hanging with comics is a big part of the fun of it.

We did get to do that at the actual show, and it lived up to the billing and then some. Again, the audience was really into us, and we tore it up one more time. All the acts on the show are veteran performers and it was like a night off only having to do about thirty minutes total. They fed us an incredible dinner before the show, and everyone treated us like stars. Is there an issue with that?

Again, people anywhere else wouldn’t have laughed any more or harder than these people this evening. They loved the show, and we loved performing for them. None of us loved the drive we had to make, but that’s just something that goes with the territory. It’s a tradeoff. To get that rush of live performing, we all have to sacrifice our comfort and find a way to make it to the venue so we can get our fix. It’s an addiction. There’s no way around it, and it comes at a very high price.

No Glitches Tonight

March 25, 2013

Friday March 22nd, 2013 – Holland, MI

   This is the beginning of a very hectic stretch, and I’m crossing my fingers I get through it with as few glitches as possible. It’s hard enough to make plans in general, but then hiccups occur out of the blue and it can derail the whole train. I’m heading into this without guarantees of anything.

Seemingly little things like a car problem or flu bug could prove to be disastrous if they happen to come at an inopportune time – which in my world they always do. I can only do my best to try and show up everywhere I need to be, and do the best I can do when I get there. My plate is full.

Tonight I needed to be in Holland, MI for a show at a beautiful venue called The Park Theatre. It’s an old Vaudeville house that was almost torn down, but the city is repairing it and they want events to attract business. Jerry Donovan is a comedian and promoter I have just started to work for recently and he happened to have a fallout for tonight and asked if I wanted it. I told him yes.

It’s true I wanted the work, but it’s going to really make my already packed weekend schedule even more so. I’m also scheduled to perform with Jimmy McHugh’s Chicago Comedy All Stars in Spencer, IA tomorrow night so that means I’ll need to really hump it if I’m going to get there.

I didn’t have time to think about that tonight, as I had a show to do. I hadn’t been to Holland in a while, and I thought I remembered how to get there but of course I didn’t and made a turn that got me totally lost. I made it to the theatre right at show time, but I don’t like cutting it that close.

I’m extremely glad I came though, as what a night it was. I have been having consistently solid shows of late, but this one was for the ages. I’d go as far as to say this was THE hottest audience I have performed for in the last dozen years or more. They were on a level that I’ve rarely seen.

Jerry hosted the show and did a very professional job. The feature act was Chris Young out of the Ann Arbor area, and he was the perfect act in front of me on this night. He did an outstanding job, and everything just fit together like it was custom made. That’s hard to plan for, but when it happens everyone can feel it. For whatever reason, all the pieces of the show fit together tonight.

The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was full and they completely got all of us the entire night. I have been part of some killer shows in my day, but this one was right up there with anything I’ve ever been part of in any size venue anywhere. It’s like fate brought every one of us together tonight.

It got to the point I had to stop and let them breathe several times because I didn’t think they’d be able to laugh anymore – but they did. Shows like this make those long drives worth the hassle – but they still are exactly that. I was barely done shaking hands and then it was back in the car.

I was on a major high most of the way home, but then I ran into some heavy traffic in Chicago that wiped a bit of the smile off my face. I got home at 2am, but I’ve got to get right back out and make it to Spencer, IA for another show tomorrow night. Who would have thought an old theatre in Holland, MI could be such a great experience? It totally was, but now it’s over. On to Spencer.

Behind The Scenes

March 22, 2013

Thursday March 21st, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   I want to run through my whole schedule for today so those who think they might want to enter the entertainment business can see exactly what it entails on a given day. Today was particularly hectic, but I’ve had a lot of others like it. See if this is a field you’d be interested in getting into.

I received a call last night saying I needed to be in downtown Chicago for a TV appearance on ‘Mancow TV’ at 7am. It came out of the blue, and I couldn’t say no. Part of being a headliner is doing media interviews to drum up business, and those can often come in at the very last minute.

This was about as last minute as it gets. I received confirmation at 8pm, which meant I had to be on a train into the city by 4:45am this morning. I didn’t make it back home to the sticks where I live until after midnight, so that didn’t leave much time for sleeping. I had more than a couple of emails to read through before I could go to bed, and after those I had phone messages to hear.

I got up at 3:30am to take a quick shower and be at the train station in time to park my car and buy my ticket. It’s a mile from my house, but I drove because I knew my walk would be from the train station to the TV station. That was about a mile and a half one way, and it was bitchy cold.

The TV show lasted from 7 to 8, but they asked me to stay longer to tape some more segments for Mancow’s radio show because the producers could see I knew how to throw in quick lines to fit their manic format. I didn’t really want to stay, but again that’s part of the gig. I didn’t get out until 9:30, and then I had another mile and a half walk in the nasty cold back to the train station.

I got back to Fox Lake at 11:30, and then had to deposit a check at the bank. It’s my secondary account, and there was a change in policy that now requires a minimum balance or I get charged a monthly fee. I had to sit with the banker and get that worked out, and that was 45 minutes I will never get back. I can’t stand wasting time with minutia like that, but who else can I get to do it?

Then I needed to stop home and make my hotel reservations for the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta next week – another process I can’t stand. I was typing in credit card numbers and it took way longer than I had to spare today. Still, it needed to get done or I’ll be sleeping in a rental car.

That was the next order of business, and the hassle started all over again. After that, I had to do a call in radio interview for a show I’m doing with Jimmy McHugh’s Chicago Comedy All Stars on Saturday in Spencer, IA. Again, that’s part of being a comedian and it’s crucial to get it done.

Then I had to squeeze in a haircut, as I’ve needed one for a while and have a lot of nicer shows coming up. Again, I didn’t want to do it but it needed to get done. The lady who cut my hair had a nasty cold, and she was sniffling and sneezing the whole time so I’ll probably end up sick too.

This was all before having to drive to Zanies in Chicago for a show at 8:30 where there was an inordinate amount of drunken hecklers. There was a group of Canadians and a group of Alabama goobers. Total hell. I had to fight to keep them all quiet, but I did. Still want to be a comedian?

California Dreaming

October 14, 2012

Friday October 12th, 2012 – California, PA

   As Jerry Reed said years ago – “When you’re hot, you’re hot.”  I’ve seen it work the other way too, and I sure wish I knew what causes hot and cold streaks but I have no idea. I’ve experienced both, and hot is definitely better. I wish I could control the flow, but I haven’t found out how yet.

Jim McHugh called about a month ago to ask if I was available for a booking in California, PA tonight with his Chicago Comedy All Stars group. Any time Jim calls with work, it’s a cut above the comedy club grind and I gladly say yes. Even though I’d never even heard of California, PA in all my years of being a road warrior, I said yes immediately. Work is at a premium these days.

Jim was asked to put together a standup comedy show at California University by a connection he has in Iowa who knew someone at the school who wanted to do a show for their homecoming weekend. That’s how it works, and there’s no rhyme or reason for it. Jim was in the right place at the right time, and he got the call. He called me, and I was in the right place at the right time too.

How this all breaks down on a large scale in the universe I can’t begin to wrap my marble sized intellect around, but I know it’s cosmic and beyond my control. I was thrilled Jim thought to give me a call at all, as it turned out to be one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

Also on the show besides Jim and myself were Sonya White and Dwayne Kennedy. That’s one of the most rock solid and diverse lineups I can imagine, and we proceeded to tear the roof off of the gorgeous new facility where we were booked. It was built earlier this year, and it’s beautiful.

They treated us like rock stars from the second we got there, and we had a dressing room with a deli tray and everything. The people in charge couldn’t have been nicer, and Jim couldn’t have chosen any nicer comedians to work with. Sonya and Dwayne are both sweethearts to work with, and their acts are solid as well. Jim knows what he’s doing, and we all knew this would be great.

The audience was mostly locals, and they came out to laugh. Jim hosted the show, and the rest of us could see it was a red hot crowd in about thirty seconds. We were each told to do about 25 minutes, which is a night off for all of us who are headliners and used to doing 45 minute sets.

One by one, we lit that audience up and we all knew what a special night this was and enjoyed every second of it. It doesn’t always work this way, and when it does it’s pure ecstasy. We really knocked it out of the park, and at the end of the show we were all on stage together and received a standing ovation. It was the right people on the right night, and everyone walked out happy.

After the show, people lined up to get our autographs and we stood around signing the backs of people’s tickets for probably twenty minutes. It was just like the stereotypical dream that most of us have about how show business is before we get brought back to earth with a sickening thud.

This was one night when we lived that dream, and it couldn’t have been with nicer people. We all have paid our dues and were able to appreciate every bit of it. This is what keeps us all going.

Entertainment Evolution

April 18, 2010

Friday April 16th, 2010 – Holiday City, OH

The comedy business seems to be evolving similarly to America itself. What once was a perpetually proud powerhouse is now only a shell of what it was, but most are proceeding as if nothing’s wrong and nothing’s changed and they assume it’s going to right itself and life will be Hershey bars and Archie comics once again. I don’t see that happening at all.

I don’t want be pessimistic, but I am extremely concerned. The problems with America are way over my head and not in my jurisdiction. I’m not a politician and never wanted to be, but it sure seems like things are getting out of hand. I don’t trust the people in power.

Maybe things were never perfect, but they were a lot simpler thirty years ago. Now I’m starting to sound like my grandparents, but it’s true. I remember the gas lines of the 1970s and the recession and all that went with it, but times were different. There were still ways to make a living, and there were factory jobs here where middle class people could work.

There seemed to be a lot more structure then, and even when times did get rough, it was a predictable cycle and it would always get better eventually. Now, it seems to be anarchy and nobody can predict the future more than a few months in the future. It’s a crapshoot.

Comedy is not what it once was either. It used to be a wonderful way to earn a living for those who could handle the constant gypsy lifestyle. There was a structure and a hierarchy and people would work toward something. Now, it seems like everyone is for themselves.

Maybe they were always for themselves, but there was more of a foundation set as to an actual plan of how to do it. There were circuits to work where one could develop an act to sell to better bookers of better circuits and eventually television and movies. That was the plan, and a lot of people caught breaks. Now, it seems like nobody has any kind of vision.

Everyone and their grandmother’s proctologist thinks they’re a comedian and has all the same access to Facebook everyone else does, and the good acts get lost in the mix. I don’t see that changing any time soon, and like it or not this is how the business is developing.

Jim McHugh is trying to book his own shows as “The Chicago Comedy All Stars” and I respect him for doing it. He’s going out and selling shows to groups for fundraisers and it isn’t easy. He’s been great to work with and I support what he’s doing. He’s fighting back at the insanity of having to chase bookers down and taking his destiny into his own hands.

This weekend he booked a mini tour in Ohio and Michigan. Tonight we were in a small town called Holiday City, OH which I’d never heard of before. We did a fundraiser night for a basketball team in a Ramada Inn and it went very well. The people loved the show.

I wouldn’t have the patience to book shows like this but Jim has been able to do a great job putting these together. I’m extremely grateful for the work, but I’m also a solid act for him to count on to bring it home. This is a win/win all the way, and tonight was a success.

Group Dynamics

April 9, 2010

Thursday April 8th, 2010 – Winfield, IL

Every imbecile and their aunt’s grandma is trying to slap together a group of comedians these days, thinking it will be an automatic sell. It seems to be a Sam’s Club mentality of if something is sold in bulk for a special price, it’ll fly out the door. Not necessarily true.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the group theory, even though I’ve participated in several. The first one I can think of that got noticed was “The Kings of Comedy” which consisted of Bernie Mac, D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and Steve Harvey. They made a big splash with a tour and a film and good for them for doing it. It was a successful concept.

Then, Jeff Foxworthy used the concept to do “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour” with Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry The Cable Guy. Again, good for Jeff. He knew he’d have a completely different audience, and he was very successful. Then, as everything that works has to endure, the avalanche of imitators trying to scarf up the scraps started popping up.

I’ve seen all kinds of ‘tours’ pop up from “Four Funny Dads” to “Pretty Funny Women” to a cow barn of others that don’t really fit together. ‘Three Funny Norwegians With The Hiccups’ isn’t necessarily a drawing card, even though people are trying to use any bit of a gimmick they can. I’m not at all opposed to gimmicks, they just have to be marketed.

Joey O’Shey has created a group concept called “The Wise Guys Of Comedy” and I like it for many reasons. One, he understands MARKETING. That’s really what all this boils down to anyway. It’s now like a band, and bands present a whole new set of rules that we as individual comedians never had to deal with before. It now becomes a group dynamic.

With group dynamics come politics and hierarchy issues, and that’s why bands break up so often. It’s not easy working together under any circumstances, especially in a situation where democratic rule is supposed to take place. It’s just not realistic to expect everybody to agree on everything, and when they don’t there needs to be a final say as to what goes.

Jerry’s Kidders has stayed together because Jerry Agar is the final say. If we’re stuck on an issue, our rule is ‘Jerry plus one vote’ to make the decision. Jerry isn’t a dictator but he does have the ultimate final say, and we all agreed to that going in. I think that’s needed.

It’s exactly what didn’t happen with The Chicago Style Standups. That was a group that never did get the leadership situation straightened out and it’s barely limping along today. Jim McHugh got out to start his “Chicago Comedy All Stars”, and he’s the leader there. It works great because we all know it, and Jim’s a good leader. I work for him quite often.

Joey put this idea together but didn’t just sit there and wait for business to come to him. He went out and had posters made up and started selling the concept of three comedians a lot like The Rat Pack that could interact with both the crowd and each other, and sold it to places that don’t normally have comedy. That’s very smart, and I’m in. We had our debut tonight at a place called Caliendo’s in Winfield, IL and everyone who came out loved it.

Is this going to be the next big thing in comedy entertainment and take the whole world by storm? I don’t think anyone could predict that, even if it was. I don’t think it will be at all, but that’s ok. Just because we’re not selling out arenas doesn’t mean we’re a failure.

It’s a lot more than that. Besides marketing, it also boils down to who’s in the show and how are they used? Joey has been doing comedy for over twenty years and chose not only me but Bill Gorgo to be a part of this. Bill and I are not only experienced, we get along on many levels. Plus, neither one of us want to be in charge of this. This is all Joey’s baby.

We all agree Joey should be paid for doing that, and so far everything has fallen exactly into place with no glitches. This is almost like three musicians forming a little combo that plays out on weekends once in a while. We all have other projects, but this is a fun aside.

Actually, Joey is working to make this THE project, and I could see it happening as he‘s very good at marketing where Bill and I really aren‘t. I’ve got my own projects to tend to, and that takes enough of my time. Bill is a high school teacher so for him it’s extra money and a chance to hang with comics. The chemistry of the three of us fits together perfectly.

That’s why I see this working, but as a sleeper project. Joey has hand picked venues that have not done comedy before, but have facilities to do shows. Some might work great and others might flop horribly, but all of us have enough experience to know how to handle it.

We’ve all been around the block so nothing rattles us, and we’re going where everyone else isn’t. I’m sure word will get out eventually and other ‘groups’ might try to horn in on this, but that’s just part of business in general. Joey is on the ball and has been working to get the word out, so he’s got a head start on the latecomers. He out hustled a lot of people.

This is how the times have dictated how comedy evolves. I hear stories of how guys out east are doing shows in smaller towns for volunteer fire department fundraisers. That may sound hick and low end, but I also hear how much money comes through these venues for the comedians. It’s WAY worth their while, and bypasses the scum bag bookers as well.

The show tonight wasn’t a killer but it wasn’t a flop either. It was a first run for a show in a place that doesn’t normally have shows. The owners loved us and want us back to do another one in the summer. With some very minor adjustments, it could be a solid money maker for everyone involved. I was willing to do a trial run on a Thursday to experiment.

I still do shows with Jim McHugh and his Chicago Comedy All Stars and in fact I have two gigs booked next week in Michigan. I also am part of Jerry’s Kidders and would do a show with those guys in a second. It never hurts to have a chance to get work anywhere.

No matter what group calls or where any of this leads, I’m still in charge of my destiny. Ultimately, I want people to come out and see me. If I’m with a group it’s fun and usually financially beneficial, but in the long run I want to have fans that enjoy what I do and are there to see me specifically. Is that being a control freak? Maybe. But that’s what I want.