Posts Tagged ‘contest’

Lost In Cyberspace

February 18, 2014

Sunday February 16th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Isn’t technology miraculous? It can be. But not today. I am just about ready to take a Louisville Slugger to my laptop, but what would that prove? I’d have a big mess to clean up, and I’d still be a foaming at the mouth maniac like I am now. I am beyond frustrated, and I’m ready to explode.

I have never claimed to be a computer geek. Oh, I’m a geek – but not in that way. Well, I guess I would be considered more of a geek/nerd hybrid. Would that be a ‘neek’, or a ‘gerd’? Whatever the case, I’m on the wrong end of geekdom. I get all the mockery without the techno superiority.

What set me so far off today was a document I was working on for my friend Eric Feinendegen who asked nicely if I wouldn’t mind looking over the script of a Toastmasters speech he is trying to get ready for a contest. It never bothers me to do that, and in fact I actually enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity to exercise creative muscles, and also help a friend. I’m flattered that he even asked.

I made some time to go over the speech, and added my input as I had any. It’s smart for anyone to have ‘fresh eyes’ look over any creative project, and I’m not unfamiliar with the process. I like punching up scripts, and I know there are people in Hollywood that get paid big cabbage to do it.

I’ve never been able to find the in on that gravy train, but I know I could pull it off if I ever get the chance. I just like doing it, but I think I have a flair for it as well. I spent about two full hours on Eric’s speech, and I thought I had some solid additions. I worked really hard and give my all.

But when I tried to save the document, it just disappeared. Poof. GONE. I don’t know how that happened, but it absolutely did. I don’t deny for a second I’m a textbook techno idiot, but I think I know how to save a document at this point. “Do you want to save the changes to…” Uh, YES!

It’s not that difficult – or at least it usually isn’t – but for whatever reason today it just vanished into thin air. First I was puzzled. Then I was livid. Then I graduated to something of a hybrid mix of bananas and berserk. Then it became rage. Then fury. I called Eric, and he tried to get it fixed.

It was to his benefit to help me find it, as the notes were for his project as per his request. I was happy to do it for him, and all I wanted was to let him look at what I had spent so much energy to complete. It would be impossible to duplicate it exactly, and panic set in as I knew I’d been had.

I tried every trick I could think of to find the document, and Eric tried to talk me through all of the ones he knew but that made it worse. Talking to someone over the phone without being there just makes it more insanely frustrating. I have ZERO patience for things like that, and I was raw.

I knew I’d have to do it all over again, and I resigned myself to the fact. I tried my best to get it as close to before, but I knew it wasn’t. Then I tried to save it again, and AGAIN it vanished into thin air. Now I was ready to hunt down Bill Gates personally but what could I do? It was too late.

I sucked it up and did it again yet a THIRD time, but this time I copied and pasted it to a blank document on my computer and of course it worked fine. What was the trouble? I haven’t a clue, but it made me blow a gasket. It’s over now, and I hope Eric wins his contest. I need a sedative.

My friend Eric Feinendegen asked me to look over his speech for a Toastmasters contest.

My friend Eric Feinendegen asked me to look over his speech for a Toastmasters contest he is entering.

I lost the document I worked on for two hours, and it sent me into a rage.

I lost the document I worked on for two hours, and it sent me into a rage.

You've got mail!

You’ve got mail!

Comedy Competition

June 9, 2013

Friday June 7th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

   If the universe isn’t going to give me a break, I have to go out and make my own. I don’t know why life has gotten to be so difficult right now, but it is. I need to rustle up some work, and that’s one of many cold realities of self employment. Had I opted to suckle the civil service teat like the majority of my family, I’d be able to coast through life collecting  a check. I chose another route.

   While that route may be much more scenic and interesting, there are also a lot more potholes to dodge. Being in business for one’s self is a severe test of endurance, and several skill sets have to be polished to make it all work. Each and every penny any entrepreneur makes is well deserved.

   It’s no secret that right about now I could use a steady stream of income. Four or five would be better, but I’ll settle for a solid trickle for now. I’m willing to work for it, and in fact I’d prefer an opportunity to just practice my craft and make an honest living. That’s been rather tough of late.

   Trying to make lemons out of lemonade, I signed up for the World Series of Comedy contest at Zanies in Rosemont, IL this weekend. I absolutely abhor comedy contests as a rule, and there are many legitimate reasons for it. They can be demeaning, degrading, dysfunctional, humiliating to the bone and almost always the only one who isn’t thoroughly pissed off afterward is the winner.

   Still, I need to get in front of some bookers and that’s what this contest is about. A guy named Joe Lowers out of Pittsburgh moved to Las Vegas and started it from scratch. I give Joe a double thumbs up and all the credit in the world for putting something this big together , and it has been growing every year since he started a few years back. He’s worked like a maniac and it shows.

   I have no qualms with Joe or anyone else at the World Series of Comedy. The grand prize is an opportunity to work about 50 weeks as a feature in several clubs across the country. I’m a strong headliner, but if I get in front of the bookers they’d see I’ve got the chops. I just want the chance.

   Since I was off this week, Zanies manager Cyndi Nelson suggested I enter the contest. She said they had an extra slot, and if I wanted it it was mine. I thought long and hard about it due to all of the horrific experiences I’ve had in the past, but I decided to give it a run. A chance is a chance.

   On this particular show, I drew slot number 7 out of 8 contestants. The others weren’t bad acts, but they weren’t headliners either. No offense to any of them, but I’ve got more road experience than probably all of them put together. I know how to read an audience and how to bring a show to the next level. I have a passing gear those guys don’t have, but it didn’t come without a price.

   I sacrificed everything to acquire that skill, so I absolutely expected to win the contest. I had an excellent spot, and the audience was with me the whole time. I took it up a notch, and since I had seven minutes I packed as much as I could into it and closed on a big pop. I knew I threw heat.

   At the end of the show they announce the winners, and I took first place tonight. I could see the looks of disappointment on the others’ faces, and I’ve been there myself. I went over to each one and complimented them on their act, and meant every word. I’ve been in their position too often.

   This is not a time to gloat or brag. I am very flattered I won tonight, but I should have won. I’m far more experienced than all of these guys, and I’ve earned it. All I want is to get some attention from bookers so I can get back out and earn my living. Tonight went great, but it’s not over yet.

Off Stage Overhaul

March 31, 2013

Friday March 29th, 2013 – Atlanta, GA

   Well, it’s a good thing I’m in such a good mindset because I won’t be winning the contest here at Laughing Skull Festival. While it would have been nice to advance, I’m not upset. There were seven Chicago comedians in the contest that had over sixty entrants, and not one of us made it to the second round. Coincidence? Conspiracy? It doesn’t matter even if it was. We didn’t make it.

Some of the other comics were rather miffed, but I’ve been around long enough to know that a contest of any kind that involves subjective judging of artistic talent is about as easy to predict as which rapper will get shot next. It could be anyone at any time for any reason. There’s no logic.

I came here to showcase myself in a five minute set, and that’s exactly what I did. I thought my set was very representative of what I do on stage, and it was in front of about fifty people off the streets of Atlanta who had never seen me before. I was mixed in with eleven other acts and all of us were trying to get the attention of three judges who like what they like. It’s not complicated.

On this night in this crowd in front of these judges, I was not one of the four finalists the judges liked based on their set of parameters – whatever that may include. I’m not bitter, angry or upset at anyone and I wish the comics who won all the best. There are a lot of really nice people with a lot of talent in this festival and my fingers are crossed that the best person wins and gets noticed.

Just because I didn’t win the contest doesn’t mean this was a wasted trip. On the contrary, there were a pair of useful info packed seminars this afternoon that made it worth coming. I was blown away by the presentation Steve Hofstetter made about the business of comedy. Steve is in charge of the festival, and I’m rapidly becoming a fanatical fan. This guy is on the ball and then some.

Tom Sobel in Louisville is a booker I’ve always liked and respected, and he told me how much respect he had for Steve Hofstetter. He told me I’d be impressed with both Steve’s comedy chops and his business acumen, and he wasn’t kidding. I haven’t seen his act yet, but if it’s half as good as his offstage methods he’s going to be a superstar. I shut my mouth and soaked in what he said.

I’m not sure how many of the other comics attending appreciated it, but I surely did. He threw out some fantastic ideas, and I need to implement a whole lot of them in my own presentation if I ever intend to move ahead in the business. I’ve got work to do, but that’s ok. That’s why I came.

Tonight I did two sets at two very different venues. One was at an alternative rock stage called ‘529’ and the other was at the Atlanta Improv. Both sets were solid, and I enjoyed watching a lot of other acts I hadn’t seen before. The vibe was very supportive, and we all got along all night.

I know my business is severely lacking compared to where my show is, and although it’s never pleasant to admit a fault I freely do so I can find a way to improve. I’m going to implement a lot of what I’ve learned here as soon as I get back and I know I’ll show major improvement within a short time. Tomorrow I have a huge treat. I get to meet with master marketer James Gregory, aka ‘The Funniest Man In America’. James has kindly offered his expertise and I’ll gratefully listen.