Posts Tagged ‘Colleen Quinn’

The Password Is “KINDNESS”

June 15, 2014

Saturday June 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Of all the posts I have ever made and all the writing I have ever done, I’d have to pick this one installment as my definitive work. It sums up who I am and what makes me tick, and when I put it up on Facebook I got unbelievably sincere responses – many from people I hadn’t heard from in years. This is what clicked with me that I am indeed a writer and not some typing schmuck.

It really took the pressure off as well with having to please anyone else with what I’m doing as a comedian. From now on I am calling the shots, and wherever it leads me will be where I go.

– – –

As I get older, I realize that the only thing that really matters in this life is kindness. That’s it. Everything else is pure and utter useless bullshit. We all have hopes and dreams and that’s great, but in the end it’s only what we do for others that really passes the test of time.

I used to think I wanted fame and fortune and all the dreams comedians have when they start out. As time slides away I can clearly see what a waste it is to focus on only that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting – or getting – it, but even if one does it’s no guarantee of happiness or lasting impact.

All too often little gestures or moments are what make the biggest difference, both good and bad. I know the bad side all too well, and there are a few people I have pissed off so badly they want nothing to do with me ever again.

Unfortunately those people are considered big in the comedy world, and it has cost me a lot of work that I could really use right about now. I still don’t know what I did to piss them off that badly, and it was completely unintentional. I said I was sorry, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

I don’t claim now or ever did to be perfect or without fault. My screw ups in life have been many and often. BUT – I like to think there is a heart in there somewhere, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life strengthening that muscle. I don’t know how or what I can do to make people’s lives better, but as long as I’m drawing breath that is going to be my razor sharp focus.

I may not ever get rich, famous or even beloved – but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the giving. My heart is still aching to the core about the passing of Dan Ronan. That kid touched a lot of people in exactly the way I am talking about. He was far from perfect either, but his core was pure.

I have a lot of contacts, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track of everyone. Facebook makes it a little easier, but there are many more that aren’t even on it. And I’m talking about one on one contact – even if it’s just for a minute or two. Planting those positive seeds every day are what life is all about.

When I told Dan’s parents about our road trip, his mother’s eyes lit up and for just a split second Dan was alive again. She smiled broadly as she told of how much that trip meant to him. Well, it must have meant at least a little because he ended up telling her about it.

Quite honestly it was no big deal to me at the time. Road trips are old to me to the point of being an unwelcome grind, but I knew Dan could handle it and he was thrilled to be asked. I remember fondly and vividly how much I was thrilled for my first road work, so I was passing it forward. That’s the kindness I’m talking about. It was little to nothing at the time I did it, and I forgot about it.

But when it came back from her memory at such a horrific time it was healing and cathartic for us both. Little moments like that are what I want to create more of with as many people as humanly possible until the day when I am in a coffin of my own. That could come at any time, and yesterday drove that point home deeply right through my already downtrodden heart.

If I have pissed you off even a little in our dealings – please accept my deepest and heartfelt apology. I was wrong, and I am very sorry. Dave Stroupe, Colleen Quinn and Al Canal from the Funny Bone chain and Bob and Tom think I’m the devil, and try as I might I can’t change it.

I said I was sorry, and I truly am. Nobody can make anyone accept an apology, but even they can’t change what’s in a person’s heart. I know I have one, and all I can do is move on and do the best I can. I’m sorry they’re so angry, but that’s on them. I’m not the dastardly scum bucket they seem to think I am.

My comedy career is going nowhere, and unfortunately that’s true for a lot of people – many with considerable talent. Talent is never the determining factor. It’s nice if one has it, but not the top requirement. Getting to the top echelon of show business is extremely rare for anybody. Hard work and luck are huge ingredients, and talent and timing are in the mix as well.

I’m really sorry to make this long rambling post, but I have so many raw emotions charging through my veins right now I can’t help it. I am still at the house of my friend Sheri who had a stroke before she was 50. She is alive, but every day is a struggle just to get out of bed and get dressed.

Perspective is everything, and I’m finally gaining some in life. The comedy game is brutal, and I fought through it for thirty years only to learn what’s really important – kindness. I hope I can make the most of whatever time I have left, and that time will be spent following my heart rather than trying to please some idiot in Hollywood I don’t respect. I’m playing a much more satisfying game now, and it’s one that everybody can win.

I’m sorry it took the death of such a vibrant soul to hit me this hard, but I don’t intend to make it in vein. Dan’s life has breathed new inspiration into my own, and has given me a razor sharp purpose I only partially felt before. I don’t intend to make long posts like this often, but I felt I needed to do this one and get it ‘out there’. My mistakes sure are, and those that hate me like to tell it to anyone who will listen. I can’t change that, but I can change my inner source of power, and I am doing that now. It’s all about the kindness. Period.

– – –

It may have taken years for me to find my voice, but after this particular post I think I finally have. It flowed out of me when I wrote it, and it got touched people’s hearts. That’s the goal.

Amen!

Amen!

Preach it, Aesop!

Preach it, Aesop!

The Power Of Perception

July 25, 2013

Wednesday July 24th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL 

   One of the most important aspects of the entertainment game is unfortunately one of my worst attributes, and that’s correctly working the politics angle. I have never been good at it, and it has cost me more than dearly. If comedy were real politics, I’d be grouped with the all time pariahs.

   At least Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer and so many more went down in a sex scandal. My downfall has mostly been not being able to shut my big mouth. I tend to call things as I see them, and that doesn’t tend to sit well with everybody – especially those in the line of fire. I am far more often the hardest on myself than anybody else, but that’s never what gets remembered in the long run.

   Many people in the business have extremely thin skins even more so than in the rest of society. There are nuts in all walks of life, but entertainment is like a giant Payday candy bar. It’s loaded with them to the point of that being the main ingredient. I’ve had to learn to play cards delicately.

   Unfortunately, I’ve made some legendary mistakes that have held me back a lot more than they should have. The powers that be can be extremely unforgiving, and I’ve suffered greatly. It’s not fair, but fair has never been part of the equation. The jungle isn’t fair, and neither is this business.   

   One example is the Bob and Tom radio show in Indianapolis. They are on in 200 or so markets give or take, and they prominently feature comedians on their show. I’d been a guest about six or seven times, and had always done well. I know how to do radio, and was starting to get frequent air time. One day I showed up and apparently did something they didn’t like – and it was all over.

   They never did tell me what I did, but they physically removed me from the studio and made a huge deal over something I still can’t understand. They had asked me to tell a story from a book of comedian’s road stories called ‘I Killed’, and I merely did what they asked. They went off the deep end, and there was nothing I could do about it. They vaporized me like I have never existed.

   I tried to apologize for whatever I did when it happened, but they would not hear a word of it. I got thrown out like a vagrant, and they threw me off their live tour also. I tried to write a letter of apology – even though I still don’t know what I was apologizing for – and they all ignored me.

   For whatever reason, they had it in their minds that I was a bad guy and they shunned me like a leper. I can bitch about it all I want, but it won’t change anything. Was it fair? Of course not, but we already know about fair. They don’t like me, and the only thing that would change it might be for me to get so famous they’d want me because of public demand. I wouldn’t need them then.

   Another stinging example is a chain of comedy clubs called The Funny Bone. They’ve got a lot of clubs all over the country, and most of them are within driving distance of Chicago. I’ve never been one of their main ‘go to’ guys, but I have worked for them occasionally through the years.

   A couple of years ago, I wrote an entry in this very diary about a manager of one of their clubs that passed away. I knew the guy, and while I had nothing personal against him I thought he was not the most professional in how he handled business. I chose to not participate in his politics.

   I knew a lot of comics that flat out couldn’t stand him, but I was never one of those. Mine was just a professional beef, and in retrospect I mentioned that I had played the politics of the game completely incorrectly. That was the main thrust of my post – but it wasn’t taken that way at all.

   For whatever reason, that particular post made the rounds and I was vilified as if I had written a hate letter to Mother Theresa. I was getting nasty emails from wannabe comedians from that area that didn’t even know me, wishing me to rot in hell and that I should have died instead of him.

   I couldn’t believe one little post had caused that big of an uproar, so I went back and reviewed it to see if I had been too harsh on the guy in any way. Try as I might I sure couldn’t see it, and it clearly pointed the finger of blame at me as I had intended. It was too late by then. I was cooked.

   My one tiny little inane posting spread around to Funny Bone managers across the country and before I knew it I was banned like explosives in an airport. Dave Stroupe is in charge of booking many of the Funny Bones, and although we were never close I had crossed paths with him a few times. We got along fine, but I’ve never been one to push friendships with people that have clout.

   I’ve always been one to hang out with someone because I like them as people first, not for how they could advance my career. That’s about as wrong as can be as far as the politics game should be played, but I never wanted to be fake. Too bad for me, as that’s not how the jungle operates.

  Two more people that apparently hate my guts are Colleen Quinn in Omaha and Al Canal in St. Louis. They both sent me blunt harsh emails basically telling me they’d never use me because of what I said about the person in question. I don’t think they ever actually took time to read what I wrote, as if they had they’d see that he wasn’t the target but I was. Too bad. Perception is reality.

   This has been a very painful lesson in both cases, as it doesn’t matter if I’m right or not. That’s not how the game works. Perception is far more important than fact, and it sucks to be on the bad side of it – which I apparently am with these people. No matter how hard I try, they shut me out.

   The funniest part of all of this is that I’ve never ever considered anything I write to make a bit of difference in any way. I don’t think I’m important or that one key stroke I make has an impact on anything in this world. I write as a daily mental exercise, not to purposely piss anybody off.

   If anything, the only people I really aim for are comedians coming up the ranks. Of anyone on this planet, I know how brutally difficult this business can be and I try to speak openly of it all so someone else can hopefully avoid all the stupid mistakes I’ve made. I want to be a warning light, so hopefully someone else can play politics better than I have. It’s been a major obstacle for me.

   My policy has always been and still is now – if a situation is ugly I’ll leave names out of it, but still tell the story. If I do happen to include names, I consider the situation positive or at least not antagonistic. That’s why I included the Funny Bone manager’s name in my initial post. I was not angry at him personally, but it was a mistake to name him because everyone else misunderstood.

   Again, I don’t think anything I prattle about means a plugged nickel in the big scheme of life. I crank out my little poop sheet every day, and I probably should stop but it’s become so much of a part of my life by now I think it’s too late. Hopefully, I’ll get some readers who take it how it’s meant. I listed names in this post, because although these people have me on their most hated list I don’t hate them at all. It’s business, but they took it personally. That used to be my big mistake.

   So, here I sit. Bob and Tom hate me and they’re on in 200 markets. ‘Stone and Double T’ love me – but they’re only on in Rockford, IL. The Funny Bones torched me from their twenty clubs, but three Zanies in Chicago love me. Any good entertainer is both loved and hated. I’ve arrived.