Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Miller’

The Funniest Human

July 9, 2014

Monday July 7th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

A shocking revelation for those that aren’t in the business is that many professional comedians are not funny people in the least off stage. It is mistakenly assumed that since we make our living on stage getting audiences to laugh, it carries over into our personal lives and we’re always ‘on’.

Nothing could be more ridiculous, but that’s what far too many think. Dennis Miller referred to standup comedy as a “chimp trick”, and I see his point. I’ve always referred to it as a craft, and a craft can only be acquired through painstaking years of learning skills and putting them to use.

There are countless comedians that have a natural flair for being funny going in, but it still has to be polished and refined to a professional standard. Quite often that painful process tends to be what drives a lot of the funny out of those people, but if someone truly ‘has it’, it’s there for life.

There are also countless others that ‘have it’ – but never even once stand on a stage. My cousin Brett is one of those people. I would rank him up there with any of the top comedians I have ever met or seen, and had he wanted to he could have easily made his living doing what I have done.

Instead, he chose to be a union carpenter. He’s very good at what he does, but he faces many of the same issues I do with playing the politics game. Like me he’s terrible at it and knows it – and he also tends to shoot off his big mouth a lot like I do. We are definitely cut from the same cloth.

That’s likely what makes him so funny. He’s sick, twisted, vicious and unrelenting – and that’s a sincere compliment. Funny just flows through his veins, and no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other we can pick it up from where we left off and get each other going again.

There is no human nor animal on this planet that can make me laugh out loud harder than Brett. Nobody. He knows my buttons, and when he hits one he will not stop. He often makes me laugh so hard I think I’m going to suffocate from a lack of oxygen – but afterward I feel SO cleansed.

That’s what happened tonight as I drove to Milwaukee to have dinner with Brett. We try to get together once a month if we can, but sometimes we’ll miss. We both happened to be off tonight, so we enjoyed a rack of ribs at Famous Dave’s which is one of our favorite spots and caught up.

Brett and his father had about the same relationship me and mine did, and we have all kinds of similar issues about it. We were around each other growing up a lot more than I ever was with all of my siblings, so Brett is basically the younger brother I never had. I can’t call him little, as he’s about 6’4” with size 14 shoes. He could twist my head of like a bottle cap, but he never would.

Like my brother Larry, Brett is one of the kindest souls I have ever met. He’s constantly giving of himself – and constantly getting taken advantage of. I think it goes with the territory, but it’s a part of who he is just like it is with Larry and me. We’re givers, and that’s what we do. Period.

I get to enjoy Brett’s dark and warped sense of humor all to myself, and it’s more precious than gold to me. I hope I have had that effect on others, onstage and off. It feels SO good to laugh that hard, and he’s the only one I can think of that can make me do it consistently. Now that’s a gift.

Who is the funniest person you know personally? It may not be a professional comedian.

Who is the funniest person you can think of? It may – or may not – be a comedian. For me it’s my cousin Brett. He cracks me up.

Carl LaBove

October 7, 2013

Saturday October 5th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

I don’t ever intend to stop being a student of the standup comedy game, and that means I won’t ever stop learning – and hopefully growing. I remember seeing an interview with Keith Richards where he had the enthusiasm of a nine year old as he spoke about still learning guitar techniques.

I had that same enthusiasm tonight as I watched Carl LaBove headline at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL for two rocking shows. I have been a fan of Carl’s for decades, and tonight was a refresher course for why that is. He put on a clinic, and I took notes as he lit up both audiences.

There are so many things I like about Carl as a performer I almost don’t know where to start. It doesn’t even include the things I like about him as a person, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. He could be an arch criminal who tortures kittens, but I’d still admire his performing skills.

For those that don’t know, Carl was one of the original “Texas Outlaw” comedians along with Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and several others who started in or around Houston in the early ‘80s. It would have been very easy to mimic the style of someone as influential as Kinison or Hicks, but Carl was and has always been completely true to himself as a performer. His style is all his own.

That’s difficult enough as it is, but being in the shadow of not one but two legendary acts is an oddity for the ages. If anything, Carl had influence on them because of his amazing performance skills and natural stage instincts. He’s a trained actor, and freely taps into that to add to his show.

I’ve never seen any comedian act out a premise better than Carl. He becomes the character he’s talking about in a particular bit, and often takes it farther than where 99% of other acts would go. It’s a joy to watch – especially since I know what he’s doing. The audience doesn’t have a clue.

Acting out a bit is a way to add extreme depth to a comedic idea, and I’m getting a lot better at it myself in recent years. It’s a technique I didn’t naturally embrace at the beginning, but it’s now one of my favorite ingredients to add to my own comedic stew. Some acts use it, others won’t.

I love Dennis Miller’s style, but he didn’t act out one bit when I saw him last week. He stood at the microphone and rattled off a series of jokes. They were great jokes, but that was it. Carl is all over the stage like a jumping bean, and uses every inch of it as his playground. I’m like that too.

There’s no real right or wrong in either style, but I find Carl’s and my way a lot more freeing to be able to have more performance tools to utilize in a given situation. Dennis chooses to do what he does, and it’s been tremendously successful. It’s like a band choosing to include horns or not.

Another strength I admire about Carl is that each performance he gives is his individual gift to that particular audience. Small or large, he crafts each show to the fit of the room and whether an audience knows it or not they’re seeing art being made in front of them. Very few acts can do it.

Carl’s jokes are funny, but combined with his dynamic act outs and individual improvisational skills, he’s an absolute monster and one of the best acts I’ve ever seen. Why he isn’t a household name is beyond me, but I’ll always be a fan. I hope you’ll enjoy him too. http://www.carllabove.com.

Carl LaBove - a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.

Carl LaBove – a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.

If you can't see him live, Carl's CD 'I Used To Be An Outlaw, What Happened?' is really funny too.

If you can’t see him live, Carl’s CD ‘I Used To Be An Outlaw, What Happened?’ is really funny too.

An Impromptu Reunion

October 5, 2013

Friday October 4th, 2013 – Rockford, IL

When I was on the radio with Jerry Agar, Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara as “Jerry’s Kidders”, we had a super fan name Fard (pronounced ‘Fa-RAHD’) Muhammad who we all came to consider a friend. He’s a super guy and very intelligent, and we have all stayed in touch for several years.

Fard is also a rabid fan of Dennis Miller, and managed to score four tickets to Dennis’ show at the gorgeous Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL tonight and asked if the Kidders would join him. Tim, Ken and I all happened to have the night free so we arranged an impromptu Kidder reunion.

The four of us rode in one car and busted balls the whole way there and back. It was a night of big fun and laughs all around, and everyone was in a great mood. This wasn’t something we had planned for very long, it just kind of came together in a couple of days. That made it even better.

We made it to Rockford with plenty of time to spare, and settled in our seats at the spectacular Coronado Theatre. That’s one of the most gorgeous old theatres I’ve ever seen, and being able to see it in person made the trip worthwhile even if there wasn’t a show to go with it. I can’t believe I’d never seen it before. It’s got to be on a list of the top architecture in America. It’s a true gem.

Our seats were eighth row center, and Dennis came out at 7:30 sharp. He might have even been a couple of minutes early, which doesn’t usually happen for any live entertainment. There wasn’t an opening act, and I found that a bit odd too. Usually in larger theatre situations there is a warm up act of some kind to focus the crowd’s attention. Ken, Tim or I would have loved that chance.

None of us were upset, as we were there to relax and enjoy the show. We all happened to enjoy Dennis, and not everyone does. He tends to polarize people, but that’s what great entertainers do. People love Dennis Miller or they can’t stand him – and I can see why. It’s like stinky cheese or hot chili peppers. There are rabid fans in one camp, and those that couldn’t get far enough away.

What I love about Dennis Miller is his unbridled gratuitous use of adjectives. He paints picture after vividly descriptive picture, and does it with distinct rhythm. I love watching him work, and he made us laugh out loud numerous times despite the fact he was fighting a nasty cold all night.

Most of the audience had no clue how difficult that can be, but Tim, Ken and I have all been on stage when we were fighting the crud and knew exactly what he was going through. That made it all the more interesting to watch, but he still delivered and made us laugh. That’s a professional.

After the show we had a world class meal at Franchesco’s Italian Ristorante where Ken books comedy shows of his own. We relaxed and enjoyed a sumptuous meal, and it was a perfect night from start to finish. We had nothing but laughs and fun, and wondered why every night couldn’t be like this. It’s not and never will be, so that’s why it’s important to savor every second of this.

Sometimes things just all work out – even for Mr. Lucky. If every day were like this I probably wouldn’t be a comic, but that’s ok. I’d have a lot less stress in my life, but I’d gladly blaze a new career path accordingly. I’m sure Dennis Miller has stress too, but that’s what comedians do. We help others forget about their troubles for a while, even though we’ve got a full load of our own.

The spectacular Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL. In a word - WOW!

The spectacular Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL. In a word – WOW!

Like stinky cheese or hot chili peppers, people love Dennis Miller or they totally don't. I happen to think he's great, and he made me laugh out loud all night in Rockford. Thanks Dennis!

Like stinky cheese or hot chili peppers, people love Dennis Miller or they totally don’t. I happen to think he’s great, and he made me laugh out loud all night in Rockford. Thanks Dennis!

Chicago Radio Superfan turned  friend Fard Muhammad

Chicago Radio Superfan turned friend Fard Muhammad

Tim Slagle - his CD 'Europa' is a must for all fans of intelligent comedy. www.timslagle.com

Tim Slagle – his CD ‘Europa’ is a must for all fans of intelligent comedy. http://www.timslagle.com

Ken Sevara - check out his radio show 'Fly By Night' on AM 560 WIND in Chicago. www.kensevara.com

Ken Sevara – check out his radio show ‘Fly By Night’ on AM 560 WIND in Chicago. http://www.kensevara.com