Posts Tagged ‘comedy classes’

Morning Blend, Evening Friends

January 16, 2014

Wednesday January 15th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI/Muskegon, MI

I’m having nothing but fun right now, and life is going exactly how I pictured it. I’m doing the exact things I’ve always dreamed of, and everything is falling into place perfectly. I still have no idea why it took so long to get here, but dissecting the reason is the last thing I should be doing.

I’m going to focus my gaze forward, and enjoy every minute of this run. It’s like I’ve found the biggest wave on the ocean, and I just got a new surf board. I’m in the position I’ve waited for my whole life. The only thing to do is enjoy it and live in the moment. Long delay or not, I got here.

Today was an absolute blast on every level. First I had a television appearance in Milwaukee to plug my show this Saturday at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI. It’s a benefit for one of their employees who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and the media has picked up on it.

This morning I was on “The Morning Blend” on WTMJ Channel 4, and that’s always fun. I’ve been on probably a half a dozen times now, and they’re always super on air and off. Hosts Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle are gorgeous, friendly, sincere and do their homework on the topics. What more could a guest ask for? Driving up from Illinois early in the morning is worth it to be there.

Executive Producer Kim Buchanan and Producer Katie Pinkowski couldn’t be any nicer to deal with, and it really helps my visibility in my home town. Rodney Dangerfield was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 70 times. That helped his career immensely, and it’s similar for me. It gives me a lot of credibility to be on TV – MUCH more so than radio, and I really appreciate it.

Plus it never hurts to be on plugging a benefit show either. I don’t know the lady we’re doing it for, but I’m sure she and her family and friends saw it and hopefully that gave her some hope and encouragement. I don’t see how this can’t help fill the seats, and I know it will be a red hot show.

After the TV show I got right in my car and drove to Muskegon, MI to do a comedy show for a group at the Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference. That group name would scare off a lot of comedians, but not me. I know how to do a clean show, and that’s why I was hired to be there.

My contact Alina Robinson was also very easy to deal with, and made it a pleasant experience all around. I was a little concerned when I arrived because there was no visible sound system and I had to follow a Mariachi singer that serenaded everyone through dinner, and the guy was great. They all loved him, and I had no idea if they’d like me or not – especially with no sound system.

There was a lapel microphone, but I don’t normally use those. That was what they had, so I had to run with it. Alina introduced me immediately after the singer closed on a high note and owned the audience. It was a difficult situation from which to start – but nothing I haven’t seen before.

It took about ten seconds to get their attention, and they ended up being one of the best crowds I’ve worked for in a long time. They got everything, and I kept it squeaky clean. VERY few acts can pull that off – but I can. I stress to every comedy class I teach that “clean leads to green”, and tonight was living proof. I was paid more money on a Wednesday night doing a clean show than most one nighter comedy shows pay on a Friday or Saturday. This was a terrific day all around.

I always enjoy appearing with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on 'The Morning Blend' on Today's TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. www.themorningblend.com.

I always enjoy appearing with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on ‘The Morning Blend’ on Today’s TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. http://www.themorningblend.com.

The audience I had at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference was one of the best I've had in a LONG time. It pays to know how to do a CLEAN show.

The audience I had tonight in Muskegon, MI at Maranatha Conference Center was one of the very best I’ve had in a LONG time. It pays to know how to do a CLEAN show. What a fantastic crowd!

Back To Class

January 14, 2014

Monday January 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I can feel the tornado of life spinning, but it’s all good. I’ve got everything I enjoy in life going on right now, and I can see my biggest concern will once again be time management. I am trying to be organized, but time just gets away when I get going on a project and I want to avoid getting too far behind in any one realm. That’s going to be a major challenge, but it’s how things are.

One area I haven’t devoted much energy to in a while are my comedy classes. I really enjoy the whole teaching experience, and I know I’ve got something good there. I have lost count of all the people that I have gone on to become long time friends with that have taken the class. That alone is an excellent reason to keep teaching, but I also love it because it keeps me close to the source.

I become a better performer the more I teach, because I’m focusing on the fundamentals of the craft. I’d do it every day if there were enough outlets, and I’ve got a good position with Zanies in Chicago as their chief instructor. That’s a position I’ve earned over time, but I’m ready for more.

Bill Gorgo and I have been working for several years now at developing our lesson plans, and I love it when we can both teach sessions together. We’ve done writing and performing workshops as well as multiple week classes, and we both agree it’s almost as much fun as performing itself.

There are only a scant few other instructors around America that have established credibility in teaching standup comedy, as it’s a difficult endeavor. There are many I’ve seen that are only in it to score a quick buck, and that has always infuriated me. I’m all about entrepreneurial endeavors, but flat out scamming crosses the line in my opinion. I always give more than a student expects.

Some of the names that have been around for years include Judy Carter and Steve North in Los Angeles, Jeff Justice in Atlanta, Neil Leiberman in San Francisco and Steve Roye who has lived in a lot of places. I’ve met everyone but Jeff, but I hear nothing but good things about his classes.

One person I have spoken to on the phone, interviewed on the radio and been interviewed by is Dave Schwensen. He was out of Cleveland, OH until very recently where he taught workshops at the Cleveland Improv. He is very credible as he was the manager of the Improv both there and in Hollywood, and has written multiple very solid books including “How to Be a Working Comic”.

I never have a problem with anyone teaching who is competent, and there are enough students for everyone. Many students like to compare teachers, and that’s fine too. Not every sports coach reaches every player, and comedy is very similar. I know personally that I have my fans and also my detractors. That’s how it is in any creative endeavor, and we all need to seek out what works.

Dave’s wife is a flight attendant, and he’s in the process of moving to Chicago to teach classes at the Improv in Schaumburg. We talked on the phone yesterday, and agreed this could be great for everyone – especially students. We’ll both offer high quality classes and raise the bar higher.

Dave is very credible, and has been around a long time. He’s also an excellent marketer, and I know I’ll learn from him in that department. Competition is good, but we’re really not competing head to head. He has his strengths and I have mine. Students win. http://www.thecomedybook.com.

A new session of standup comedy classes will be starting at the legendary Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on Sunday February 9th, 2014 at 3pm. For signup information, go to www.zanies.com.

A new session of standup comedy classes will be starting at the legendary Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on Sunday February 9th, 2014 at 3pm. For signup information, go to http://www.zanies.com.

Bill Gorgo will be teaching that session, and he's both an excellent teacher and wonderful person.

Bill Gorgo will be teaching that session, and he’s both an excellent teacher and wonderful person.

Dave Schwensen has been teaching classes for years at the Cleveland Improv. He's moving to Chicago to teach at the Improv in Schaumburg. Good for him. It will be great for the students, and raise the bar for all of us. Welcome Dave. His books are excellent. www.thecomedybook.com.

Dave Schwensen has been teaching classes for years at the Cleveland Improv. He’s moving to Chicago to teach at the Improv in Schaumburg. Good for him. It will be great for the students, and raise the bar for all of us. Welcome Dave. His books are excellent. http://www.thecomedybook.com.

Battle Stations

October 25, 2012

Tuesday October 23rd, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Battle stations, everyone. Oh, wait a minute – it’s just me. I’m backed against a wall and I can’t count on anyone but myself to slug my way out. I’d love to get a helping hand from someone but it’s still hard for me to trust. I’ve been scorched so many times in life, I can’t help being a cynic.

This has to be the time to develop a new approach and a better attitude. I’ve been stuck in mud too many times to count, and it’s not like this is the worst I’ve ever had it. Yes, I owe a chunk of coin to the IRS but I’m surely not the first person to be in this position. It’s how I choose to deal with it that counts, and I’m choosing to take the high road and handle it with class and dignity.

If nothing else, it will get me to break my current pattern of behavior which hasn’t been giving me the results I really want. I’ve been barely squeaking by, which is not what I think life should be about. I want to surf the big waves, at least for a little while to experience what that feels like.

It really does boil down to a matter of money, and this is the perfect opportunity to improve my life dramatically. I am uneducated and inexperienced when it comes to money matters, and that’s totally my fault. It’s been a constant source of pain and misery, but that has to change in a hurry.

I have made up my mind to not only pay what I owe to the IRS, but completely transform how I handle my finances from now on. I’ve had enough of how I’ve mangled it for so long, and I am frustrated to the point of taking immediate action to insure it doesn’t happen again. I’m not going to sit back and feel sorry for myself, even though sometimes that seems like the easy alternative.

Today I circled my wagons and tried to come up with my smartest plan of action. I’ve got a lot of possibilities, but I can’t be farting around with long shots right now. No more Ralph Kramden or Lucy get rich quick schemes for me – at least not for the next little while. It’s time to bet safe.

I wouldn’t be above getting some kind of a ‘stable’ job for the next year or so, but just doing it to do it will be a guarantee of pure misery. I don’t mind working, I just want to do something I’ll be able to enjoy. A lot of people don’t have that luxury, but I’ve been able to do it for a lifetime.

No matter how many times I get screwed over in entertainment, I still love doing the actual job. Being on stage as a comedian or on the radio or teaching classes are all great fun when it’s going well – which after all these years is more often than not. If I have trouble, it’s with management.

Comedy bookers and radio management can be absolutely maddening to deal with, and I often say what’s on my mind and get myself in trouble. Still, there are others that think I’m one of the easiest people to work with anywhere. Those are the ones I’m going to gravitate to from now on.

I made a list of my best contacts, and I’m going to rattle their cages and let them know I could use some quality work right about now. I’ll do comedy clubs, cruise ships, corporate work, teach classes, do holiday parties or whatever else I can go make some money and rebuild the nest egg I had to fritter away last year when I was laid up. I’m going to find a way to come back and win.