Posts Tagged ‘Conan O’Brien’

A Personal Victory

January 22, 2014

Tuesday January 21st, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Success! Ah, the taste is so sweet. It’s a small taste, but that’s ok. One bite of the highest grade of chocolate or finest cut of steak not only is still delicious – it makes one want more. After quite a few glitches to the point of completely starting over with a different company my new monthly “Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter” has finally been sent out to a handpicked list of recipients.

In the big scheme of life I know it means less than nothing, but to me personally it’s as big of a victory as I’ve had in quite a while. When my business partner embezzled from me a while back it really rocked my world to the core. I totally didn’t expect it, and it jarred my business to a halt.

I had stupidly allowed him free reign of just about everything off stage, and when he pulled his little stunt and I had to fire him it set me back tremendously. We had a nice flow going, and I had a monthly newsletter that was very well received. This was before I started writing a daily diary.

Allegedly we had it up to 2500 recipients, but I can’t confirm that because I never saw any list. I took his word for it, but I have no reason to think he’d lie about that number. On the other hand I had no reason to think he’d steal from me either, but that’s a different story. I think it was right.

When we parted ways, not only did he not give me the mailing list he used it to try and start his own comedy classes using another teacher. I was shocked, hurt and infuriated all at once, and the whole situation degenerated into a big ugly mess. Many of the people on that list were friends of mine outside of comedy and weren’t students at all. I had to explain the situation over and over.

What a nightmare it all turned out to be, and quite honestly I seethed about it for years. I’m not the first person to get scorched by a business partner, but that was personal, messy and took a lot of inner discipline to not track him down and pound a tune on his skull with a monkey wrench.

After dragging everything through the mud for a few years he eventually moved to Australia -which still isn’t far enough away for my tastes but will have to do. I don’t know what he’s into now, and I really don’t care as long as it’s not comedy or comedy classes. The damage is done.

Once in a while I’ll have somebody out of the blue ask “Hey, whatever happened to your old newsletter? I used to really look forward to it.” It makes me cringe inside, but I always tell them I’ll make sure I add their name to the list when I start it up again. Today I fulfilled my promise.

I’ve been compiling email addresses for several years now, and our initial mailing had almost 2000 entries. I know a lot of those will bounce back, and that’s fine. We knew it would take lots of tweaking to get it going smoothly, but we just wanted to get it going. The glitches weren’t fun, and ended up delaying everything by eight days. Our target was the 13th, but we got it out today.

Kudos to my one man pit crew Eric Feinendegen for hanging in there and seeing it through. He knows the situation with the last guy embezzling, and we’ve got a different agreement altogether. Actually, it was almost a good thing I experienced all that because now it’s a much better system and I won’t have that happen ever again. It was a painful lesson, but one well learned. I received all kinds of responses today from people I hadn’t heard from in years. That’s just what I wanted.

This was a long, hard painful road back, but I’m here and it feels ecstatic. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever be able to pull it off, but I hung in there and kept pecking away for years until I could get all the ducks in a row to try again. Today is that day and the sweet taste of victory is extra delicious.

But I know that’s all it is, a taste – and a tiny one at that. This was just the very beginning of an ongoing process that needs to last the rest of my business life. I need to establish a track record to those that don’t know me but could potentially hire me, and there are too many of those to count.

Of the 2000 or so names I have on the list now, a lot of those are personal friends and/or people that aren’t ever going to hire me. There are several hundred comedians for example, and I’m glad to be in contact from a friendship angle but for business they’re not going to do me much good.

I might get an occasional referral or get thought of for a fallout, but that’s not where my target is. I want to get my name in front of bookers of the best paying work available. That’s the reason to do this at all, and that’s why I’m making it such a priority. It’s basically an ad for my services.

Sending out one email is fine, but it’s surely not the end all be all. I heard from several bookers I hadn’t had contact with in a while, and that’s exactly what I was looking to have happen. I have been pathetic at staying in contact consistently, but that ends as of today. I’m already a winner.

I’m sure it will lead to a few bookings at some point, and that’s fantastic. It’s money directly in my pocket just for reminding people I’m still here. Now I have to grow this list and find EVERY person that could possibly book me and get in front of them every month. That will take a while.

I don’t have a clue who books what in the corporate world, and I also need to delve into media as well. Jimmy Fallon is taking over The Tonight Show in a few weeks. Who is the talent booker for comedians? Jimmy Kimmel? Conan O’Brien? David Letterman? I should know all the names and have all the contact info of these people but I totally don’t. And that doesn’t include radio.

Who are the producers of the top national, regionally syndicated and local radio shows all over North America? What about The U.K. or Australia or even the Armed Forces Network? There is a LOT of work to do, and this is just the tip of the tip of a gigantic iceberg. This is where money will come from, and I need to treat this list like the gold mine it will be. It’s my ticket to success.

I know it will take time to get it really humming like I picture, but today was a terrific start and I’m thrilled to be back in the game. Eric did a phenomenal job, and I’m grateful to be teamed up with him. He’s been great to work with, but if he embezzles he’s going to have to work harder to make it happen than the last guy. I’m a lot more wary now, and that’s good. I think we’ll be ok.

It feels tremendous to finally be getting my business chops in gear. I’m going to add all kinds of valuable contacts to my list as the year progresses, and I’m finally going to be smart enough to grow them into relationships. I’m also going to reconnect with people I shouldn’t have let lapse.

The work on this project is only beginning, but today was a major step. To fight back from the lowest point I can imagine feels extra satisfying, and any bitterness I had toward Mr. Embezzler is all gone. He actually did me a favor. Without that experience, I wouldn’t be as ready as I am.

'Maxwell's Silver Humor Newsletter' is now a reality. If you'd like to get on the list, send a valid email address to bookdobie@gmail.com.

‘Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter’ is now a reality. If you would like to receive it each month, send a valid email address to bookdobie@gmail.com.

Hopefully chicks will dig it.

Hopefully chicks will dig it.

Even if they don't, it should  be good for business.

Even if they don’t, it should be good for business.

Hidden Comedy Gems

October 5, 2013

Thursday October 3rd, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

Once again Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago have come through when I could use some work the most, and gratitude permeates my entire being. I’ve got several random fill in dates scattered through the rest of the year, and I couldn’t be happier. I can pay some bills but still remain local.

The openings are at all three of their Chicago area clubs and at all positions on the shows. One night I might be the headliner, and the very next I might feature or host. Normally that’s not how a club books an act and it’s a dangerous game to play politically, but Zanies and I have a history.

They know I’m a strong headliner, and I have nothing to prove. They also know I am versatile enough to handle any role on any show, and won’t bitch about not headlining. I’m there to earn a living, and also to work on new material in a productive environment. Being an emcee or feature in good rooms is the ideal place to work out new bits, and I’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Every comedian wants to be the headliner, but it’s not easy to move up the ranks. I could write several articles about this tricky and delicate process, and I intend to in the not too distant future to benefit up and coming comedians. For now suffice to say I’m thrilled to get the local income.

I have several headline dates coming up soon, but this week I’m hosting three shows at the new Rosemont, IL location. I’m thrilled to be working with Carl LaBove, quite simply one of the best standup comedians in America. In my opinion, he should be a lot more well known than he is.

I’m always bitching and complaining about comedians I think should get more recognition, but I can’t help it. I know how difficult it is just to survive in this insidious business, but then there is a higher level of people with tremendous natural ability who are special. Carl is in that category.

I’m sure it’s the same with actors, musicians, athletes or any other competitive endeavor. There are all kinds of people who want to be stars, but very few have the ability, drive and luck to make it happen as they pictured. The magic formula is a combination of all three – and extremely rare.

I have frequently named all kinds of acts I think should be huge stars, and I mean it. My friend James Gregory in Atlanta is one. That guy hustles his business like nobody else, has a rock solid and hilarious stage character and can work clean. He should be on The Tonight Show, Ferguson, Letterman, Kimmel, Conan or any other show immediately. Find him at http://www.funniestman.com.

Steve ‘Mudflap’ McGrew is another hidden treasure. That guy is world class funny, and I can’t figure out why he hasn’t popped on a big time level. Jimmy Shubert is another gem. Then there’s Dwayne Kennedy, Steve Seagren, Tim Northern, Beth Donahue, Tim Walkoe, Larry Reeb and a whole lot of others who are out there making people laugh week after week. They’re all warriors.

Carl LaBove is right there with all of them. I first met him when I was just starting out. He was best friends with Sam Kinison, and part of the ‘Texas Outlaws’ with Bill Hicks, Ron Shock and a few other guys from the ‘80s. Carl has an amazing life story which I won’t delve into, but it sure is worth checking out as is his hilarious act. He’s at Zanies in Rosemont, IL the rest of this week, and I will be watching every minute of every show he does. He’s a master. http://www.carllabove.com.

Zanies is my 'home club'. They have been good to me for decades and I am very grateful.

Zanies is my ‘home club’. They have been good to me for decades and I am very grateful.

Check out my friend James Gregory 'The Funniest Man In America' www.funniestman.com

Check out my friend James Gregory ‘The Funniest Man In America’ http://www.funniestman.com

The great Carl LaBove - quite simply one of THE best standup comics in America today. What a talent - and a great guy too. www.carllabove.com

The great Carl LaBove – quite simply one of THE best standup comics in America today. What a talent – and a great guy too. http://www.carllabove.com

The Opinionator

January 23, 2010

Friday January 22nd, 2010 – Alsip, IL

Even though I usually have strong opinions on any given topic, I never think they mean anything in the grand scheme of life. I’ve met a lot of people who think their opinion is of the utmost importance, and that the world is waiting to hear what oozes from their yap.

Not me. I’m just one guy swimming upstream in life, trying to survive day to day. I like to speak my mind, but rarely do I nail the opinion of the masses. I’ve always felt like I am on the wrong planet, and the older I get the more I want to go back to where I came from.

I’ll get my chance soon enough, and until then I’ll play out my remaining days trying to do the best I can with the tools I’ve been given. Youth is fading quickly, and I’m learning how amazing it was now that it’s leaving. I’m taking on a whole new perspective in life.

That being said, people keep asking me what I think about the Tonight Show situation with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and what I feel about Brett Favre. Why anybody would care what I think about either of those things is beyond me, but lots of people keep asking so I’ll gladly throw in my two cents. I know it means less than nothing, but here it comes.

As far as the Tonight Show goes, I couldn’t care less. I don’t watch any of those shows, but I think there are too many of them. Johnny was great, but it was only him. Now it’s a watered down mish mash of mediocrity, with a shortage of quality guests and content for anyone with an age or IQ over 35. Kanye West’s latest CD has zero interest in my world.

What interests me even less is watching Letterman and Leno fire verbal rockets at each other about what’s going on. Who cares? Not me. They’ve got their millions and I’m still trying to stay booked every week. I’d gladly take a $30 million buyout to go away forever.

Conan never captured my attention, even though I’ve heard he’s a decent guy. He’s my age, so that kind of makes me want to see him do well. When they start calling him old, it means my time is coming to an end too. I’m sorry the guy got put in this situation though. From all I’ve seen he’s taking it well, and I have to believe he’ll land himself a new gig.

If he doesn’t, he’ll have some money to tide him over so he can make up his mind what he wants to do next. That’s a nice problem to have, one I don’t have right now. I’m in the exact opposite situation. I have to find a gig each week to pay my bills so I can survive.

As for Brett Favre, I think he’s the antichrist. His jersey number should be 666 and that legion of purple zombies who cheer for that insidious team got exactly what they deserve. He’s an insincere lout who thinks only of himself, and he’s brainwashed millions of apes into believing he’s a team player. I think he’s a scum bag pig and I hope he gets diarrhea.

All that said, what do Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Brett Favre and me have in common? Absolutely nothing. They’re all household names and multi millionaire celebrities, and I’m a middle aged goof who tells jokes and lives in a basement. They win.

WHEEEEEERE’S Johnny?

January 10, 2010

Saturday January 9th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

There’s a disturbance in the show business force, and I don’t like it. Not that it was ever ’normal’, but it seems to be crazier than ever lately. Rumors are all over the place that Jay Leno is going back to his old time slot on NBC in one form or another. Either he’ll share it with Conan O’Brien or Conan will get launched, depending on which articles I read.

My opinion about any of this means less than nothing, but I’ll give it anyway. I think it stinks worse than a 300 lb. trucker’s hemorrhoid cushion after a cross country trip in July from Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles on I-10. Network television appears to be loaded up with clueless imbeciles just as radio is, only I think these goofs have a lot more at stake.

I have nothing personal in any of this, as I don’t really watch late night talk shows at all. I just don’t. I’ve worked nights as a comedian the majority of my adult life, and the rest of it I did morning radio so I was fast asleep by the time any of those shows came on the air.

If I had to pick one, I do like Craig Ferguson and not just because I got to appear on the show. I just think his sense of humor matches best with mine. He makes me laugh. That’s a difficult gig and no disrespect whatsoever meant to Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon. There’s a whole lot of behind the scenes insanity nobody sees.

There has to be, it’s show business. I know how much frustration I had in radio dealing with Dorkasaurus Maximus, aka corporate dinosaurs. They all THINK they know what’s funny and entertaining, but in reality all they really do is grease up a very expensive suit. They all assume creativity comes in little chunks and can be summoned up on a whim.

I don’t know much about television, but I like to think I understand entertainment just a little. If Jay Leno was doing well in the spot he was in, why did they need to replace him? There must have been a reason for it, and I’m sure whichever ass kissing little know it all who suggested it is now selling used Volvos in his hometown so he can still use the suits.

The network took a risk by putting Jay in prime time, and it appears to be failing by all accounts from what I hear. But, what does ‘failing’ really mean? Many times ratings have all kinds of ways to be sliced up to look good or bad, at least they were in radio. The real question I have is, why did they decide to make it a prime time five nights a week show?

I think it was due to lack of vision and downright cheapness. It would take WORK and also a major money investment to craft five quality shows to put on NBC, so they tried to take what looked like the easy way out and just plug those holes with Jay Leno who was a known entity. I’m sure they just assumed everything would be fine and continue as it was.

That seemed like the solution apparently, but then all hell broke loose. They moved the rest of the lineup around and stuck Conan O’Brien where Jay used to be and brought in a new guy in Jimmy Fallon and now they have three new shows struggling to stay on the air when none of this had to happen at all. Now they seem to be in a state of complete panic.

However it all works out, I doubt if Jay Leno or Conan O’Brien are going to be sleeping in a bus station any time soon. What I think of are all the hard working people who have a dark cloud hanging over their heads right now. They don’t know what’s going to happen.

That kind of stuff trickles down, and there are people who work hard to survive that are having their stress levels tweaked to the max. It can’t be a lot of fun right now, and it’s all because some gooferinski pulled a trigger and thinks he or she knew all the easy answers.

Does ANYONE really care about the petty little stupid detail of entertaining America? I doubt it. They’re thinking bottom line and that’s fine, but the bottom line will be there if a show comes along and reaches the majority of good people who still make America tick.

Personally, of all the celebrity types around who might be a good choice for a host spot on a major talk show, I’d have to go with Jeff Foxworthy. Knowing him personally, I am a huge fan. He really is a down to earth nice guy, and I think that would show on the air.

Jeff has touched the public’s nerve with his Redneck angle, the one I was too stupid as a young kid in the business to see. Jeff saw it and every Walmart in America has items that SELL with that theme from greeting cards to t-shirts and everything else in between. He’s middle America, but also likeable and smart and funny. My vote would be give it to Jeff.

Like I said, I don’t really watch those shows but pure logic of thinking of who could be the answer to attract the attention of the masses, who as a comedian has done it as well as Jeff Foxworthy in the last 20-25 years? I can’t think of one. I respect the guy’s marketing skills but I also respect him as a person too. Jeff is the real deal and I think he’d nail this.

Nothing against Jay Leno at all. He was the king of the club boom in the ‘80s and every comedian working then knew it and knows it now. He’s a hard working guy and got a big break and I’m sure he knows that. He won’t have to sell any kidneys to survive this mess and I’m sure Conan will land on his feet too. But for a long term answer, I’d go with Jeff.

What the hell do I know? I’m still struggling to pay my rent every month. BUT, I am on a positive roll lately and am having all kinds of fun. Today we did a last minute version of Jerry’s Kidders on WGN radio and it was a blast. We love doing it, and at least we know someone is hearing it. WGN is a huge radio station and it gives this project credibility.

We also ran through the last minute details of our play “You’re On The Air” which will debut at the Beverly Arts Center next Saturday and Sunday, January 17th and 18th. We are all excited about it and have put a ton of work into this project. No matter what it does or doesn’t draw, it has already been a creatively fulfilling experience and a boat load of fun.

Fun keeps coming back as the central theme of everything I’m doing lately. I love all of it, and even though money would be nice I still appreciate the fact I can have freedom that not everyone else gets apparently. I hope the NBC thing gets figured out, only for the fact I can relate to the people who might lose their jobs. The suits who blew it can kiss my ass.