Posts Tagged ‘Cyndi Nelson’

Double Dipping

September 12, 2013

Wednesday September 11th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Rosemont, IL

Most of my days end up being hectic in one way or another, but today was the way I like it. If I had my way, it would be like this all the time. I had two comedy shows, and got to hang out with some good friends. This is exactly how I always thought life should be, but so often it falls short.

The first show was in Milwaukee this afternoon for the Milwaukee Retired Police Association. Someone from their group saw me do my “Schlitz Happened!” show at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in April and recommended me to the committee. I’m delighted they did.

This is exactly the kind of group this show should be for. These people were city of Milwaukee police officers with a minimum age of over 42, and they got everything I was talking about. I had a bit of a slow start, because I don’t think they had ever had a comedian at their meeting before.

The situation of lights and sound is always an issue, and this was held in a Legion Post with no stage lighting per se. I was on the floor in front of them, and it was an adjustment to get settled in but once I did it went very well. The person in charge Wray Young couldn’t have been nicer, and said he’d like to have me back. I’d love to go back, and I will be much more prepared next time

This audience was a little older, and that’s fine but I should have read them better. I tried to get laughs first, when in fact I should have told more stories. I figured that out part way through, and it made all the difference in the world. They are all from Milwaukee, and the more details I threw in the more they loved it. I don’t often have that luxury in an audience, and I totally exploited it.

There have to be a hundred groups like this of people who grew up in Milwaukee. They’re not necessarily standup comedy fans, but I know I can entertain them and make them laugh with this concept. I am really looking forward to going back to Potawatomi, and today it reignited my fire.

My friend and former student Russ Martin came out and did some time, as he was a former cop himself. He was a County Sherriff at one time, so I thought it would be appropriate for him to do a few minutes. We hung out afterward and had a meal. Russ is a really good guy, and despite the fact he’s older than me he really loves comedy and has the enthusiasm of a kid. It’s refreshing.

After that I drove to Rosemont, IL to headline a show at Zanies Comedy Club. That’s always a treat for many reasons. Not only is it a state of the art facility, the staff is top notch. The manager is Cyndi Nelson, and she’s one of if not the best in the business. Everyone loves her, and she’s an absolute peach to work for. She treats us all like stars, and dented cans always enjoy an ego rub.

Dan Carlson is there too, and that’s another rare treat. Dan is a very funny comedian, but chose to get into club management because he has a family and wants to stay in town. I totally relate to that situation, but it’s great to have him there because he sees things from the comic’s viewpoint.

The show tonight was a two boot ass kicker. There was a large group of construction people up front, and they were there to have fun. They were diverse, and that made it better. Several times I had to stop and let the laughs die down, and that’s about the best problem a comedian can have. I wish every day of life could be like this, but it’s not. Today was, and I loved every minute of it.

What A Week!

February 11, 2013

Saturday February 9th, 2013 – St. Charles, IL

   This week at Zanies in St. Charles, IL at the Pheasant Run Resort is comedy heaven for several reasons. After spending a lifetime experiencing anything and everything that can go wrong with standup comedy, it was a delicious treat to have everything work out correctly without a glitch.

First, it’s close to home. What a wonderful treat not to have to worry about travel for a change. Anytime I can work a week of comedy shows and sleep in my own bed is a humongous positive. If I never have to stay in a hotel ever again, my life would not miss a beat. I’ve done it too much.

Second, it’s a quality venue. The sound and lights are always great, and since it’s been open for so long there is at least a fighting chance most if not all of the audience at least knows the reason they are there. There is visible security in place to escort the morons who don’t get it out the door but that doesn’t happen often. When it does, Lenny Creagh handles it beautifully. He’s a real pro.

Third, it’s managed well and has been for years. Cyndi Nelson is one of the most respected and beloved comedy club managers anywhere, and she recently moved on to manage the new Zanies in Rosemont, IL. Tracey Whitmer is now in her place and like Cyndi she actually enjoys comedy and treats the comedians with respect. It’s refreshing to show up at a club and feel wanted there.

All of these things are the foundation of an outstanding work environment, but what really sent this week into orbit was the solid lineup of comedians. I was extremely fortunate to share the bill with a pair of my all time favorites both onstage and off in Vince Maranto and Jimmy McHugh.

Zanies has used house emcees for years, and I am a big proponent of that concept. It makes the shows far better as a whole, as someone with experience starts the night and maintains an energy that can’t be achieved by putting up a rank amateur like most comedy clubs have done to death.

Vince is one of the Zanies regular hosts, and does a fantastic job. We’ve known each other for at least twenty five years, and he’s a solid headliner in his own right as is Jimmy McHugh. They have both been through the wars just like I have, and it’s a breeze working with guys like that as nothing can rattle any of us at any time. We’ve all seen it before, and our calmness level is high.

The three of us are comedy mercenaries at this point, but that’s not a bad thing. We still love to perform and all do it well, but none of us are big stars and may never be. We’ve all paid our dues and are big leaguers as far as being professional comedians, and we all respect each other’s acts.

I watched Vince and Jimmy this whole week and they still make me laugh out loud even if I’ve seen their bits literally hundreds of times. They’re both well written and well performed, and I’m a fan of them both as people and as comics. Getting to be on a show with them was fun but rare.

Comedy clubs as a rule just don’t book that much talent on one show like a Zanies does. For at least four nights, I had a dream working environment and I enjoyed every second of it as I know how uncommon it truly is. Next week I’m back to the grind, and I will appreciate this even more.

Catching The Dream

March 3, 2010

Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 – St. Charles, IL/Lake Villa, IL

I’m starting to feel some momentum building with all my projects, and I’m really liking how that feels. It energizes me and makes every waking hour exciting and packed with all kinds of fun things to do. The phone is ringing constantly and I feel like I’m finally doing what I’m supposed to be doing rather than drifting through life like a lost helium balloon.

Everything seems to be coming together at once, and as scary as that is, it’s also a thrill. I’ve waited so long and had so many disappointments that I thought this time would never come. I’ve made a lion’s share of mistakes and can’t promise I won’t make more, but that goes with the territory. I’ve managed to hang in there and positive results are finally here.

What’s great about all of this is I hung in there and didn’t give up when that would have been very easy to do. Maybe I was too stupid to quit or didn’t know what else to do, but it didn’t happen and I’m so glad it didn’t. I feel like I’m really poised for something big and it’s not very far away now. This is the most exciting time of my life and I’m loving it all.

Comedy classes are coming together again even though only three students came out for one at Zanies at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. They agreed to wait until next month, so we’ll start on April 6th and be ready to go. We had several other people inquire, but they didn’t attend for whatever reason. That happens. It’s ok, I‘m still very positive.

Cyndi Nelson is my ace in the hole here and she and I had a great meeting. Cyndi works for the resort as Entertainment Director after being promoted from manager of Zanies and she’s a peach pie to deal with. She’s smart and a sweetheart and she sees the benefits of a comedy class to more than just wannabe comics. She knows it’s good for lots of people.

Business types and sales meetings and public speakers of all kinds can benefit from this and she promised to promote it throughout the resort and I know she will. I wrote her up a press release last week, but it was on very short notice and it only got out today. That’s no way to promote something, but now we’ve got a solid month to get interest up for April.

I’ll have plenty to work on if there are classes both downtown and at Pheasant Run on a regular basis, and it’s not nuts to think we could eventually add a third location in Vernon Hills if needed. I’ve done several classes out there before and they’ve all been successful.

I have to watch myself with time management though. While I really do enjoy teaching, I still have a while to go while I can still perform. That’s my first love, and if I can do that I absolutely will. Teaching is close though. Having two classes at once is enough for now.  That should happen next month, and I’ll work on making those two fill up consistently.

The one man show about Milwaukee is getting some attention too. I can feel that begin to heat up, and I did a radio interview today on a station in Fond Du Lac for my March 13 performance at The Railroad Station in Saukville. Richard Halasz is promoting that show and he’s doing an excellent job of it. We’ve got a great chance to experiment and we are.

That’s what all of this is – one big experiment. It’s a crapshoot. I am guessing as to what will sell, and even though I’ve got a lot of experience there’s still no guarantee that any of this will work, at least not to the extent I might think it will. Still, I feel good about it all.

Richard Halasz has been a comedian longer than me, and has been promoting shows in the area for a while now. He can help me get locations in the area, as can Ron Lee. Ron is also working with me on this project and he’s been meeting with potential sponsors of the show lately and he tells me they’re very interested in the concept. I knew I had a winner.

Now it’s a matter of hashing it all out and making it come to life. I’ll work with Richard and Ron and anyone else who wants to put on shows, but the ultimate control in all of this boils down to me. I’ll have to negotiate percentages and define roles for everyone but it’s ultimately my baby here and whether it sinks or swims boils down to me. I’m in charge.

That’s why it’s so much fun. Whenever I’ve been in control in the past, things have had very positive results. It’s when I have to deal with those who don’t share my vision is the time everything has fallen apart. I don’t think I have to let that happen in these situations.

The ‘Schlitz Happened!’ one man show and the comedy classes are my babies and I call the shots in both. I also have Uranus Factory Outlet ready to launch soon and that project is in my control as well. I thought of it and even though it took way too long to get going, it’s finally ready to blast off in a couple of weeks. Those are three projects I love doing.

That doesn’t include my actual standup comedy career either. I’m still interested in that too, even though all these other things are starting to rumble. I took some time today for a review of my comedy material I’ve been working on lately. I’ve got 120 pages of material I need to either polish, rework or add in to what I’ve already got. That‘ll keep me busy.

All this will keep me busy for the rest of my life, even if I live to be 100. These are very solid projects that will take blood and sweat to develop, but I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to it. Nothing is worthwhile that isn’t worth working for, and all this is.

I’m starting to see a bigger picture on all these things too. I know I won’t be able to get anything done totally by myself so I’m working on my delegation skills. Delegating what I need to do is the best way to assure success, and I never really thought that way before.

Now, I totally think that way. Unless I can get quality people to join me I’ll never make any of this come to life. It’s only as a result of a team effort many times over that will be what puts any of this over the top. I’ve been laying the foundations for all of these things, but now it’s time to find the members of my team. I’m doing that, and it’s working well.

One thing I didn’t mention was radio. I’m still involved with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN in Chicago and The Mothership Connection paranormal show on WLIP in Kenosha every Sunday night from 8-11pm Central Time. Those are two more projects I love doing and it would be even more lovable if I was getting paid for them. Time to shake the money tree.