Posts Tagged ‘Comedy Central’

Blah Blah Blah

March 25, 2014

Monday March 24th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I know I’m supposed to be showing inner grit and mental toughness right about now, but one’s lowest point is the hardest time to do that. All the Hallmark cards in the world can’t disguise the fact that I’m in a major funk right now, and all the “hang in theres” there are aren’t helping any.

I’m trying hard to objectively examine what set me off and when, and I’m tracing it back to my birthday weekend in Springfield, IL at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. I love working with Donnie B, but it was a slow weekend in a grubby town and that started it. I knew it was the last little run of a spurt of decent work, and I hoped it would be a busy week of jam packed hot shows. It wasn’t.

I know it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and all that. Blah blah blah. I’ve heard excuses for an entire lifetime, and it just gets old. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere on a hot weekend. It’s either the off season, a holiday or the weather screws us, blah blah blah. I’m sick of hearing it all.

This is the time to exhibit mental toughness, but it’s exactly the most difficult time to remain in a positive mindset. There are times when I feel bullet proof and can walk through walls no matter what obstacles I may be facing. Then there are times when I can be knocked over with a feather.

I’m in one of the feather times right now, and that always scares me. No matter who tries to tell me I have even the slightest hint of self worth, I am not able to see it for the life of me. I just feel pain. The scariest thing of all is I thought I found where the source of the pain was coming from.

I guess it was only a part of it. I’m thrilled I was able to get back in touch with my siblings, but there are still a few other holes to fill apparently. That was beyond huge, but now I’ve got to sort out what I’m going to do to survive physically. It boils down to money, and I’m not making any.

My DNA is wired for me to be a creative entity. Period. Working at a ‘real job’ would send me over the edge in two weeks or less. It always has. I hated every job I ever had in high school, and my father, grandmother and even my beloved Gramps used to get on me about being a lazy bum.

Ha! Far from it. I just never wanted to waste my time counting mufflers at Sears (which I really did for several torturous weeks in high school) or working at a fast food greasery or anything but being an entertainer. I love the process of being on stage or on the air – and that’s what I do best.

If someone would just leave me alone to create, I’ll be fine. Every radio job I’ve had has come to an end because some pinhead in management decides to tweak something that doesn’t need to be tweaked, and I’m out. Comedy is the same way. I’m banned from places by people that never took time to know me personally. They only heard about something I did second and third hand, but that was enough to vaporize me from their venues into perpetuity. Stability is only a dream.

Wait, I take that back. Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago have been one of the very few places that have backed off and let me do my thing. The results? ZERO problems! Gee, who’d a thunk it? I show up, do my job – very well – and go home. No issues. No politics. No hassles. I love it.

The rest of life doesn’t seem to be able to figure that out, and I’m getting sicker of trying by the day. I’ve never thought I was better than anyone, and I still don’t. I realize I’m one of those artsy fartsy creative types, but it’s who I am and I can’t help it. I wasn’t made to manage a Walmart.

I regularly have self righteous pompous crusaders telling me to “stop being so negative in your blog.” Sorry, but I don’t think it’s their business or anyone else’s. I write about what I feel inside, and sometimes that can be all over the place. I’m human with feelings, and I refuse to sugarcoat.

I know not everyone can relate to being a dented can and what kind of pain that brings, but I’m not writing for everyone. I started just writing for me, but over time I have pleasantly discovered I have a loyal audience that do relate to what I’m going through – and it’s exactly why I persist.

I’m not looking for sympathy or a handout. All I want is to find a way to apply the gifts I have been given to do good and bring happiness to people. That may sound corny, but I mean it from the deepest part of my soul. I want to be known for what I gave, but if I can’t manage to hack out a respectable living how can I do anything worth anyone’s while? All I’m asking for is a chance.

Lewis Black reached a point where he thought he would never make it, but then he got a break on Comedy Central and it launched him. I’m to the point he was, and I’m sure he wasn’t feeling any different than I am right now. From where will my break come? If I knew that, I’d be there.

It used to be that going to New York or L.A. was the answer. I’m not up for that right now. It’s a bit late in the game to go to either one of those places and sleep in a car. I’m almost there here. I’ve been beaten up by life so much, I think it’s affecting my judgment. What to do? I just don’t know. People tell me all the time “Hang in there pal, it WILL happen for you.” But it never does.

All I can feel is the pain and loneliness of a lifetime of wandering – hoping to find my place in a world I never asked to be born. I have always been the outsider since my earliest memory, and that role gets old in a big hurry. Sometimes I think I may finally be hitting stride, and then it’s all an illusion and I’m back at where I started. I’m feeling a lot like Wile E. Coyote right about now.

And don’t get me started on dating. I have gone out with several women in the last few months but nothing has clicked and I feel that’s never going to happen either. The women I like most are either married or not interested in me, and the ones that like me don’t happen to float my boat. It would be terrific to find someone special, but I’m having a hard time just trying to survive life.

It’s all intertwined, and right now everything is a mess. Three months ago I felt like a new man ready to slay all dragons. Now I feel like a piece of crusty dragon poo. These extremes are killing me, but I think I picked the wrong profession to expect stability. What do I do now? I am totally at a loss, and have no idea who to ask. Mental toughness sounds great in theory. I can use some.

What else is there to do but keep slugging? I could swallow a bullet, but I’m not looking to do that. I just want to find my audience and work steadily in top level venues I can sell out with fans that are there to see me. A quality woman in my life would sure be helpful too. Blah blah blah.

Mental toughness sounds great in theory, but at one's lowest point is the hardest time to have it.

Mental toughness sounds great in theory, but at one’s lowest point is the hardest time to have it.

Nobody wants to hear about someone else in a slump. Blah blah blah.

Nobody wants to hear about someone else in a slump. Blah blah blah.

I had a blast appearing on the Craig Ferguson Show. I'd love to do it again.

I had a blast appearing on the Craig Ferguson Show. I’d love to do it again.

Here's a potential slump buster. Can someone clone her please?

Here’s a potential slump buster. Can someone clone her please?

Can’t Stop Now

October 2, 2013

Tuesday October 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

October 1st? Already? I haven’t mailed my Valentine’s Day cards yet, but we’re already in the 4th quarter of 2013. I try to stay current, but I’m only fooling myself. This feels like one big April Fool’s prank, but I know it’s real. Time is sliding away like a runaway toboggan, and I feel like it bucked me off a while ago. All I can do is watch it get smaller as it races down the hill. Bye bye.

This has been a very eventful year so far. I’ve done a lot of fun things, but financially it’s been a major bust. I’ve got less money now than I can ever remember, and that is causing major stress on a daily basis. I need to plug into a steady source of income, and I’m looking for it every day.

Emotionally, I’ve become a human yo-yo. One day I’m bullet proof and ready to take on every challenge there is, and the next I’m ready to donate my organs and turn in my keys. Some people might call that bipolar. I call it the life of a dented can entertainer. There are big ups and downs.

I feel like I’m out at sea in a dinghy during a typhoon. I’m at the mercy of the sea – frightening as that may be. I’m bobbing around with no real direction, and whenever I try to find one a force far stronger than me sends me wherever it wants. After a while, it all becomes so overwhelming.

If there were hatches to batten down, I would. But a dinghy doesn’t have hatches. It’s exposed, and the waves come blasting up over the sides. I could read all the books I want on how to steer, but when those winds start blowing none of it matters. There’s nothing to do but wait things out.

The fact is, I really need a break. I have paid decades of dues and even those who think I’m The Antichrist will admit I have ability. Why it’s been this difficult to land somewhere and stay put is far out of my realm of comprehension. All I want is the opportunity to work in a field where I’ve been given gifts, and earn a decent living. It’s either feast or famine – and right now it’s famine.

All it would take is ONE little break to turn my whole life around, but where is it? In my mind, I should be working as a comedian every week – or at least every weekend – to full houses with people there to see me. I’d also love a steady radio gig and to continue teaching comedy classes.

Charity functions would also be a priority, and I would be the nicest guy anyone has ever seen. I would sign every autograph and pose for every picture, and make people feel special like we all want. It would be The Golden Rule in action, and we would all be better as humanity. Why isn’t it happening? I was ready for it years ago, but I seem to be going farther away rather than closer.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it feels like I’m never going to make it. I work harder than any other comedian I know personally, but it doesn’t pay off. It feels like I’m trying to get a new roll of toilet paper started, but I can’t find the first square to get things going. It’s frustrating me to no end, and I’m trying everything in my power to make something happen. What else is there to do?

The only consoling fact I can think of is that there have been a lot of people that have gotten to the point I am – and that’s when something popped. Lewis Black tells how he’d resigned himself to the fact he wasn’t going to make it, and that’s when he got a break with Comedy Central. I am way past the point of no return, so there’s nothing for me to do but keep on working even harder.

Life can be an emotional yo-yo.

Life can be an emotional yo-yo.

The 4th quarter of 2013 is here.

The 4th quarter of 2013 is here.

A Kindred Spirit

September 12, 2012

Tuesday September 11th, 2012 – Rosemont, IL

   I had lunch with Mike Preston today, and good things usually come from that. Mike and I are a similar breed in that we both love to conceive and execute creative projects that excite us, but we both fall painfully short when it comes to the business end of things. It’s not an enviable position to be in, but at least we both admit we’re in it. We’re well aware of where we need improvement.

Mike has been the host of a cable access show called ‘Psychobabble’ for years. I’ve been on as several characters, as have a lot of other Chicago area comedians. It’s great fun, and Mike allows us to be creatively free and basically do what we want. There have been some talented people on the show, and I totally think there’s a place for it in the TV cosmos. The only question is where.

The show is an eclectic mix of interviews, comedy, characters and goes in many directions. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. Mike and the crew run the gamut from strippers and porn stars to an impressive list of A, B, C and lower celebrities of all genres and the result is always entertaining.

Mike’s co-host is a comedian named Marge Tackes. Marge is a total sweetheart and extremely intelligent, but she can come across with some as being a bit coarse. She tells it like it is and that often includes colorful language. I’ve been around foul language my whole life, so nothing could ever shock me but some people tend to get offended. This is a major issue in the showbiz world.

Mike and Marge aren’t looking to get on the PTL Network with this show. It’s an R to X rated show, and that’s what it is. They shouldn’t have to apologize for that, and they don’t. I think they should have a huge cult following by now, but like me their marketing has been severely lacking.

That’s not an insult, and Mike didn’t take it that way as we talked about it over lunch. We both love what we’re doing, but no matter how talented or funny we may be the Chinese buffet we ate at demanded to be paid. Life works like that, and we know it. We have to find a way to get paid.

Mike has been putting the show together on a shoestring budget for years. That’s not easy with a TV show, but for what he’s got to work with he’s worked miracles. He’s not only a very skilled cameraman and editor, he really is an outstanding host. I’ve seen him interview celebrities on all levels and he does his homework and always nails it. The guy really has a gift in several areas.

Too bad one of those isn’t marketing and finance. He keeps telling me how much he likes what I’m doing, and I feel the same way about him. Whenever we work together, we always have a lot of fun but we always get good work done too. It’s like George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. When they worked together it was a perfect fit, but they also both had their own separate things as well.

I love working with Mike, and I wish I had a reason to do it more. It’s fun now, but if there was pay involved it would be off the charts. I don’t know how that will happen though, and that’s the question that stumps Mike too. We could both use offstage management, but where does anyone find that – especially in Chicago? I have no idea, and I’ve been so busy trying to juggle my own projects I don’t have time to look. I guess it’s a quality problem to have, but it’s still a problem.

Mike’s website is www.psychobabbletv.com and there are a lot of really funny clips on it with everyone from Mike Ditka to Seka to people nobody has ever heard of and never will again. He’s the ring leader, and the cast of characters he’s put together has turned out to be one hell of a mix.

I’d love to see the show get some exposure on Comedy Central or maybe even overseas for the British or Australian markets. The problem is, how does one get that kind of connection started? If I knew that, I’d be doing it myself. I’ve got a few projects of my own that could use some help getting seen. The good news is there’s a lot of product there. The bad news is, it’s not marketed.

There are always hoops to jump through and pride to swallow, and that’s where Mike and I are at our worst. We’re the artistic type who creates what we create without concern for how it might need to fit a certain format or adhere to a parameter and that’s just not a smart way to do things.

Well, I for one want to get smart in a hurry. I’m willing to make adjustments in my Mothership Connection paranormal radio show, and I’ve been doing exactly that in the last few weeks. I can feel major improvement, and there’s more to come. I’m going to get a website redo and make up a sales package and attempt to get it on a real network of some sort where I can turn a real profit.

I think Mike needs to do the same thing, but I don’t think he’s up for doing it himself. I for one would LOVE to work behind the scenes for the show, but he needs someone way bigger than me with a lot more contacts than I have. I don’t have the time for my own stuff much less take on the mammoth project of marketing Psychobabble, but I sure think someone could do it and do well.

At lunch Mike mentioned a movie club hosted by WGN radio’s Nick Digilio at a theatre out in Rosemont in an entertainment complex right across from the new Zanies there. The showing was ‘Capricorn One’, a movie I saw when it came out in the ‘70s and had wanted to see again since I started hosting the Mothership Connection. The theme of a faked Mars landing is up my alley.

Mike and I were joined by Cyndi Nelson who is the manager of the Zanies in Rosemont. She’d seen the movie in the theatre like I did and like me wondered how it would hold up after all these years. It was odd that we all came together on short notice, but it worked perfectly so we did it.

I met Nick a while back at Zanies in Chicago, and he’s a very eclectic guy himself. He’s on the air on weekends, but also is a film critic and does a lot of other things. He dabbles in comedy and that’s how we met. He also has directed plays and acts, and there could be more for all I know.

I like people who have a lot of interests, but it sure can be a bitch keeping up with them all. It’s hard enough keeping one knife sharpened, much less a whole drawer full. Sometimes it’s just not possible to pick only one thing to pursue and stick with it exclusively. There are many options.

The movie was a lot different than I remembered it, and pretty farfetched and corny. That made it fun to watch, and it really was enjoyable. There were all kinds of stars from the ‘70s, and all of us are from that generation so we got all the references and knew who the stars were. It was a fun diversion, but now it’s back to work. Maybe Mike and I can start writing a ‘Capricorn Two’ script.