Posts Tagged ‘Drew Olson’

Fantastic Friends

April 9, 2014

Tuesday April 8th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

It was back home to Milwaukee today to attend a seminar held especially for me by my friend Lynn Miner. Lynn is a magician among many other things, and we met when he was a student in one of my first comedy classes back in the mid ‘90s. Since then I’ve learned a lot more from him than he ever did from me, and it’s people like him that make me continue to teach to this day.

Among Lynn’s “other things” is holding successful workshops for universities along with his son Jeremy on how to procure funds through grants. They’ve done it all over the world, and are on the road more than I am. They are great at what they do, and are at the very top of their field.

Once in a while Lynn will ask me to punch up something he’s doing with a funny line. I never mind, and gladly throw him any ideas I can. He never abuses my time, and has always been very supportive of anything I do. If I had more people like Lynn in my life, I would be a big time star.

I have always had a difficult time asking for favors from anyone, and I’m sure that goes back to my dented can childhood. I need to get over it fast, because sometimes people really want to help. I know I do, and it feels great when I can. Why am I robbing someone else of their joy?

Lynn is nothing short of amazing when it comes to simplifying complicated business concepts. He has a formula that he uses in his workshops, and he broke down a version of it for me today over lunch as he went over my King of Uranus idea. He pointed out – painfully correctly – that I have not come up with an acceptable business plan to date, and that would be an absolute must.

I don’t dispute that at all, and I sat and listened as he laid out what I needed to do. He wants me to make a list of everything I envision the business to be, and then he’s going to sort it into what needs to be done in what order. He didn’t have to do that, but he graciously offered to help and I will gratefully accept his kind offer. I know I can’t do it myself, and this is a super opportunity.

This concept is SO going to be a success. I feel it to the depths of my being. People like Lynn are in my corner, and although he’s really great he’s not the only one. I have a very deep bench, and most if not everybody on it will gladly help me however they can. I’ve cultivated them for a lifetime, and have not exploited them as resources. I am picking my time to ask, and it is now.

I have 100% confidence that Lynn will be one of many that will point me in the right direction. Even though there are still a few that think I’m the devil, a whole lot more don’t and couldn’t be any more supportive. Those few who don’t like me barely know me, if at all. It’s their loss by not giving me a chance, but that’s the situation now. Hopefully I’ll change their minds in the future.

Another great supporter of mine for decades has been Drew Olson. He’s another ace in the hole and is as well connected in Milwaukee as anyone I know. He is on AM 540 ESPN Radio with his partner Dan Needles on ‘The D List’ from 10am to 1pm weekdays, and since I was in town I had to check in with him as well. He is also a supporter of the Uranus idea, and has some connections he thinks may help as far as making products, etc. I’m thrilled to have an all star list of friends.

Lynn Miner is a man of many talents. He's a world class magician, and also one of the top in his field at grants workshops for universities. He is helping me with my business plan, and I am unbelievably grateful.

Lynn Miner is a man of many talents. He’s a world class magician, and also one of the top in his field at grants workshops for universities. He is helping me with my business plan, and I am unbelievably grateful. http://www.minerandassociates.com

Drew Olson is also one of the most generous people I have ever met - and we have been friends so long I don't even remember when we met. It was the '80s. Catch him on 'The D List' on ESPN Radio in Milwaukee. www.espnmilwaukee.com.

Drew Olson is also one of the most generous people I have ever met – and we have been friends so long I don’t even remember when that was. It was the ’80s. Catch him on ‘The D List’ on ESPN Radio in Milwaukee. http://www.espnmilwaukee.com.

Front Row Treatment

September 24, 2013

Sunday September 22nd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

I can die now. I’m sure there are those that have been wishing that for years, but now I can deal with it with a smile on my face. My personal Mt. Rushmore of heroes to meet is complete, and it was a raging success each and every time. Most people never get to meet one of their heroes, but I hit a grand slam. I’ll have pleasant memories forever, and there’s nobody else I need to chase.

Yes there are all kinds of famous and/or interesting people I wouldn’t mind crossing paths with in person, but as far as super elite status there have only been four – Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin, George Clinton and Bob Uecker. I don’t care if anyone else doesn’t agree with those four as having super elite status, it’s my list and I’ll decide who gets on it. Those four are my biggies.

Today I rounded out my awesome foursome in high style as I got to hang out with Bob Uecker for a good 20-25 minutes – on the field at Miller Park no less. Wow, what a dream come true for a native cheese head and it couldn’t have gone any better. Everything was right, and it was great.

I can’t thank my friend Drew Olson enough for making this happen. He knows everyone at the stadium, and although it was no big deal for him he knew it was a big deal to me so he took time to make the call and walk me through the process. I like to do nice things like that whenever and however I can, and when it comes back my way it’s extra sweet. I’ll remember this day forever.

We were sitting in the dugout at Miller Park – something that by itself was worth my trip – and Bob came out of the other dugout and was standing behind the batting cage before the game. I’ve never been on the field before, so the whole experience was surreal from the start and I loved it.

Drew told me to follow him, and we walked up to Bob and Drew introduced me as a comedian from Milwaukee. That’s all it took. Bob’s eyes lit up, and he shook my hand and started rattling off story after story, and it was like we were buddies for years. It was the right place and the right time, and circumstances couldn’t be better. He had nothing else going on, and had time to hang.

Since I knew of his career highlights so well I was able to keep him talking and recalling funny story after funny story. The guy who was his sidekick in the Major League movies is a comedian friend of mine named Skip Griparis, and that helped forge a bond up front even though we didn’t need it. He was warm right from the start. Everything was laid back, and I loved every second.

What was an even bigger thrill was making Bob laugh a couple of times. I tried to just shut up and let him do most of the talking, but on a few occasions I had a quick story to throw in and his head snapped back with laughter more than once. That’s THE most flattering reaction I can get.

We hit on a lot of topics from sports to show business to being from Milwaukee to professional wrestling of all things. He used to go see it in his younger days and he did a fantastic impression of Dick The Bruiser. Drew and I were bent over laughing, as it really was dead on and hilarious.

I really wanted to get a picture, but things were going so well I didn’t want to ruin the moment. These situations can be very delicate, as it’s almost a peer thing. I don’t consider myself on a par with Bob Uecker, but he and Drew are peers and I didn’t want to put that status into jeopardy.

Another delicate situation was a package I brought for Bob with my DVD, CD and t-shirt from my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show. He if anyone would get the list of jokes on the shirt, but again my wack-o-meter went off and I decided not to force the situation. We were having such a good time I just wanted to enjoy it for what it was. I’ve waited decades to get the chance, so I dialed it back.

As we were walking off the field I asked if he’d mind if I sent him a shirt, and he said he’d like to have one but what else would he or anyone say? “No, stick that shirt up your bilge hole. Like I need to wear a cheap t-shirt from some goofus I don’t know to advertise a show I will never see.”

I’m sure he wouldn’t say that and he didn’t. Before we left the stadium, Drew gave the package to one of the longstanding Miller Park staff who said he would deliver it to the broadcast booth – which he did immediately as we watched. I felt a lot better doing that than trying to do it myself.

I have no delusions that he’s going to listen to or watch my act or wear the t-shirt, but if he had a chance to look at the shirt I’m sure he had a chuckle or two. That’s good enough for me, and he hopefully gave it to someone or even left it in the booth and someone else may get use out of it.

One thing I noticed immediately as we were talking was how ‘the kid’ in him was out. I always heard that with any great comedian, their inner child is close to the surface and easy to identify. I definitely saw it in Bob, and I think he saw mine too. That’s probably why we hit it off so well.

Another thing I noticed was how he had absolutely nothing bad to say about anyone else. He’d only bring up positives and/or good times they’d spent together. He knows celebrities from many fields, and I’m still not sure if the people in Milwaukee realize just how big of a star he really is.

I listened to him tell a few stories of being inducted into more than one Hall of Fame. How rare is THAT? It’s hard enough to get nominated for even one much less inducted into several, but he is although he doesn’t say it to brag. It was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to everything he said.

He pokes fun at himself for his lack of ball playing prowess, but in fact making it all the way to the Major Leagues is no small feat in itself – especially when he did it. There were only 16 teams then, and he still not only got a cup of coffee but managed to stay in the Major Leagues for years.

That’s a noteworthy accomplishment most people would milk for a lifetime, but he also got on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when that really meant something. Not only that, he was on somewhere around 100 times when people would give up a lung to get on once. It’s amazing.

Then there was a successful sitcom in ‘Mr. Belvedere’ that lasted several seasons. Then he was in two ‘Major League’ movies where he stole the show. He did hilarious color commentary work on ‘Monday Night Baseball’, not to mention rose to become one of the best play by play baseball announcers anywhere. Each one of those would be noteworthy by itself, but Bob nailed them all.

Did I forget anything? Well, he wrote two very funny books and also hosted another funny TV show called “Bob Uecker’s Wacky World of Sports”. And he was part of Wrestlemania for what was then the largest audience ever. I don’t need to go any farther – one is impressed or not. I have always been impressed, and to meet and hang out was a big thrill. I was in the front row for real!

Meeting a hero is a thrill. When he's as nice and funny as Bob Uecker - it's a memory I'll never forget! Thanks to my friend Drew Olson for making it happen. What a great experience!

Meeting a hero is a thrill. When he’s as nice and funny as Bob Uecker – it’s a memory I’ll never forget! Thanks to my friend Drew Olson for making it happen. What a great experience!

Meeting Bob Uecker

September 22, 2013

Saturday September 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I have always admired Bob Uecker. I think he’s one of the absolute funniest humans of our time or any other time, and his multi faceted career of long lasting duration is about as impressive as it gets. He has long surpassed entertainment and is now part of American pop culture. Who hasn’t heard of ‘Uecker seats’? It’s part of our lexicon.

For whatever reason, people like to ask comedians who they think is funny. I’ve gotten that for as long as I’ve been a comedian – and that’s a long time. I don’t know why that should matter to anyone, but apparently it does. I’m a fan of the business and a student of the game, so I like a lot of different people for different reasons and many of those people are not known to the masses.

Anyone not in the business wouldn’t care about those reasons, and I totally get it. It’s an inner circle thing, and nothing is more boring than listening to someone prattle on with shop talk when they’re not in the same business. What the masses always want to hear are names of the famous.

I’ve been very lucky in my time to have either worked or crossed paths with some of the most famous comedians of the modern era including Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and that’s not nearly a full list.

I don’t say this to brag, but I’ve been around the block a few times and crossing paths with all kinds of people goes with the territory. I could throw out hundreds of names nobody would care about except me and the people themselves, but that doesn’t capture imagintion like fame does.

Everyone always wants to know “what they’re like”. They’re people, and people are people on all levels. Some are nicer than others, and depending on the day and time you meet them they’re exactly like people are. I’ve rarely been in awe of meeting anyone famous for that exact reason.

As a result, my meetings with celebrities have traditionally gone very smoothly. I’ve treated all of them like people, and that’s how they responded. Only a very few times have I ever been even the slightest bit star struck, and even then in the end it turned out well. Again, they’re just people.

The Holy Trinity of funny people on my personal hero list that I’ve always wanted to meet are (in no particular order) Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin and Bob Uecker. I did get my chance to meet Rodney and George, and both were not only extremely warm and gracious but I also was able to make them laugh. The thrill of having that happen will stay with me the rest of my life.

Tomorrow, I am finally going to get my chance to meet Bob Uecker thanks to my friend Drew Olson. Drew was the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for years, and he’s said in the past he’d gladly make it happen. I’ve never liked asking for favors, but this time I did.

The last game of the season is tomorrow, and the Brewers are out of the playoff picture. I don’t like to bother people, but all I want is to shake Bob’s hand and tell him how much I admire what he has accomplished and what a fan I am of his work on so many levels. It would mean a lot, and if I would happen to be able to make him laugh even once it would make my year. Moments like this are what life is all about. I just hope I don’t stumble and stammer and make an ass of myself.

The great Bob Uecker. Thanks to my friend Drew Olson, I get to meet one of my all time heroes tomorrow!

The great Bob Uecker. One of the funniest humans or our time or any other time.

Thanks to my friend Drew Olson of 'The D-List' on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee, I get to meet one of my all time heroes!

Thanks to my friend Drew Olson of ‘The D-List’ on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee, I get to meet one of my all time heroes!

The Highest Vibe

April 10, 2013

Tuesday April 9th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

    I can’t help but think about how good I’ve been feeling of late. It’s a feeling of contentment on a deep level that permeates my entire being. It’s actually a bit scary in a way, but it feels like I’ve finally hit full stride in life on a cosmic level and my possibilities of positive growth are endless.

   I don’t know why I know this, but I do. I feel it. I’ve felt the other side of the spectrum too, and this isn’t it. Maybe it’s just the opposite side of bipolar, but I don’t think so. I’ve always pictured life to be exactly like this, and it finally is. I don’t know why it took so long, but it’s here now.

   When I was working on the morning show at 93QFM in Milwaukee in 1991, I felt like I was in the same position then. All I ever wanted was to have an outlet for my creativity, and I thought it was going to be that. I was doing comedy and on radio, and knew exactly what I wanted to do.

   I wanted to create a local empire, and in a way it was the early version of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ I had guests on the air who were local celebrities, and I could feel it was going to be a winner back then. Unfortunately, management didn’t and it all came crumbling down before I could set it up.

   My friend Drew Olson was one of the few who shared that vision. He wanted to build a strong local network of contacts, so he could get anything he needed at any time whether it was tickets to a ball game or his car worked on. He was willing to give too, as was I. We both saw it clearly.

   Drew is now doing exactly that working on ‘The D List’ on 540 ESPN Radio in Milwaukee. It took a while, but we’re both in a pretty good position locally. He’s always been a great friend for years, and we’ve helped each other countless times. He gets it, and it gives me hope to continue.  

   It isn’t just about being on a local level though. Being the King of Milwaukee was something I wanted then, but now it’s not my priority. It would be a kick if ‘Schlitz Happened!’ catches on to enjoy a long successful run, but if it doesn’t I’m still ok inside. This feeling is deeper than local.

   I’m just in a groove that I know is the right way to be. I’m grateful for every day, and all that’s in it. My food tastes great, and even the car that’s been such a pain in the ball joints is not giving me any hassles. If it blows up tomorrow – and it might – I have a better one waiting in the wings.

   That’s just it. Nothing overwhelming is bothering me right now. Sure, I have little frustrations any busy person has but it’s not deeply rooted in the anger I used to have toward who knows the number of sources. I was pissed off at a lot of things for a long time, but now I’m not letting any of it get to me. I feel a layer of cosmic insulation around me and I’m focusing on what I need to.

   For whatever reason, I feel an air of confidence about me I can’t say I’ve ever had. I am going to be successful no matter what I do, and it’s my choice of what it is. If ‘Schlitz Happened!’ is a flop, I’ll come up with something else. If I move from Chicago, I’ll be fine. If they find a tumor the size of a Cornish hen in my brain pan and I check out in a week, even that’s ok. I can take it.

   I feel like there’s a whole new vibe coming out of me, and it’s the exact one I have wanted to have forever. Whatever dents in my can caused me to make the many stupid mistakes I did aren’t hurting me now, and I don’t know why. Is it just because I’m maturing? Is it something that I did knowingly or unknowingly? That’s a good question. I have no idea why I’m in such a high place, but I know I belong here. I’ve pictured it since I was a kid, and I’m here. NOW it’s time for fun!  

The Royal Treatment

March 17, 2013

Wednesday March 13th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   Today quite possibly could go down as THE single most fun day I’ve ever experienced. I had a chance to be the center of attention at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game tonight in full regal splendor as the King of Uranus, and it was exactly what I thought it would be – a hilarious thrill!

The team has long been known for their stellar and original promotions, and this was ‘Salute to Uranus’ night. They put it in their ads, and I heard back from all kinds of people saying they had heard my name everywhere. I hadn’t planned on my name being attached to this gimmick, so the team did me a favor by getting my name out there too. I don’t mind either way, it was just FUN.

The character itself is still in development, but the fact that an adult would dress up like a goof willingly is a sure way to garner attention. If it weren’t true, they wouldn’t keep sending all those poor saps out in public dressed as the Statue of Liberty trying to drum up business for tax places.

If nothing else, it turns heads for a short second even if only to have the person gawking at the costumed kook think “Well at least it’s not ME.” This is the same principle, but it was received well by everyone and turned out to be an amazing experience. I know I’m on to something here.

It helped immeasurably that the team was totally behind this. Jon Greenberg is on top of things, and always has been. He’s the president of the team, but everyone else was great too. Director of Marketing Tim Van Wagoner worked extremely hard to come up with a true or false quiz to give fans on the bench where they’d give a thumbs up or down. It was the ‘Thumbs up Uranus’ quiz.

I also got to drop the ceremonial first puck before the game, and to see the looks on the faces of the players alone was worth my trip. They gawked at me like I really was from outer space, and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. It was exactly the reaction I wanted, and I played it up.

Another major highlight was getting to be part of the ‘Human Hockey Puck’ contest. That’s the one that everyone talked about. There’s a huge sling shot and five fans are put on a plastic flying saucer sled one at a time and slung across the ice to knock down targets like bowling pins to win prizes. I’d seen it done before, but being part of it in full King regalia was a treat I won’t forget.

Between the first and second period I got to sit and sign autographs if anyone was interested in getting one. Jon Greenberg and I had no idea if anyone would show up, but there was a long line of fans wanting pictures and autographs and I felt like Elvis for twenty minutes. It was a big hit!

My friend Drew Olson from 540 ESPN Radio came out to support, and we laughed like school girls backstage about how fun this whole thing really was. He’s seen most if not all of my wacky stunts over the years and he has the full perspective of how much it took to bring this idea to life.

Drew’s radio partner Dan Needles ran a blurb about it on his WISN TV 12 sports cast, and I’m very grateful for the exposure. It cemented the evening, and I’ll remember it forever. It was a big thrill to be able to pull this off, and if nobody else is impressed I don’t care. This one was for me!

The Best Revenge!

October 19, 2012

October 17th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

   “The best revenge is massive success.” That’s one of my very favorite quotes of all time, and it comes from Frank Sinatra. If there was ever anyone who got his revenge, it was him. Who else is even close when it comes to showbiz legends? Elvis? Michael Jackson? Okay, but that’s about it.

By all accounts, the Josh Albert fundraiser at Shank Hall in Milwaukee this evening turned out to be a massive success on many levels. I couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to be a part of it, and I was proud beyond words of everyone who came together to pull off such a fantastic event.

There was definite electricity in that room I don’t think I’ve ever felt before, and when Officer Albert entered the room in his wheelchair it was like the Pope showed up. A hush throughout the club was immediate as cameras from every television station in town captured a magic moment.

It was very emotional, and I knew right then we didn’t even have to do a show for this to be an overwhelming home run. This alone would have been enough, but there was a lot more positivity in store for everyone as Mayor Tom Barrett and Chief of Police Edward Flynn presented Officer Albert with a mayoral proclamation declaring it ‘Joshua Albert Day’ in the city of Milwaukee.

The audience gave Officer Albert a well deserved standing ovation, and emotions were running high as people were wiping away tears as he spoke from his heart. I totally lost it, and was crying like a baby. Knowing that I had even the slightest pinky of a hand involved in helping make this happen gave me a feeling of accomplishment like I’ve never had. This was the right thing to do.

But I don’t take credit for anything other than bringing together an all star cast of giving people to do what they do. Everyone did their part to perfection, and watching it all come together lit my fuse of hope that good people actually can make a difference on this planet infested with morons.

So many amazing people stepped up I don’t even know where to start. Drew Olson was simply magnificent as the host of the event as I totally knew he would be. He held the evening together, and knew how to keep things moving and put a balance between the serious and funny. Honestly, I don’t think I could have done as good a job myself and I’ve got experience. He really nailed it.

Peter Jest really came through as well. He’s the owner of Shank Hall, and we’ve always had an excellent working relationship. He’s a very funny guy, and also good friends with Drew. It was a perfect fit all around, and we all knew it. Peter generously donated the space, and I appreciate it.

Chris ‘C.P.’ Peppas is another pillar of generosity who has supported everything I’ve done for at least twenty years. He’s a talented writer, and wrote a great piece for The Examiner which was greatly appreciated, as was his bride Mary Lynn’s donation of her signed Cecil Cooper baseball.

I can’t forget Ted Perry of Fox 6 either. He’s another one who has done more than expected on several occasions, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his support not only tonight but through all my trials and tribulations of many years. He’s got a giant heart, and I owe him about fifty favors.

The comedians on the bill showed up to support the cause as well, and I appreciate every single one of them. Russ Martin was a former Deputy Sheriff, and went to all the police stations and put up posters. Jason Evans is the creator of www.mkefunny.com and also helped spread the word.

Phil ‘Ziggy’ Dunham schlepped in all the way from Detroit at his own expense to be part of the evening, and he didn’t have to do that. All these guys are rock solid and golden in my book and I was proud to have them participate in a big event like this that spread so much uplifting energy.

I wish I could bottle the vibe from tonight and pass it out in the world where it’s needed. I’d do it for free, as the results produced would be worth far more than anything money could buy. I put the word out to my best connections, and they came through and made this a night to remember.

My friend Mike Staral came out with his wife and we’ve known each other since kindergarten. He saw the event mentioned on TV and the company he works for is going to make a donation to the cause. I hadn’t seen Mike in years, but he’s always been yet another good hearted kind soul.

There are far too many people to list who pitched in to contribute to this night, but images keep popping into my mind and I don’t want to exclude anyone. John O’Brien drove all the way from Wilmette, IL as he has done so many times before to support anything I’ve done, success or flop. There were more than a few flops in there, and I’m delighted he got to see one that worked well.

Marilynn Mee from WKLH showed up unexpectedly, and auctioned off an hour on the air as a guest DJ. That was very nice of her to do that, and it brought in $750 which was more than all of us expected. I’ve always liked and respected Marilynn, and I think she is very talented on the air.

My cousin Katie and her brother Andy and her mom Wendy were all a big part of it too. I said I’d take care of the comedy part, but they did their share from a police angle. I don’t know about that world, and they came through and we were a very effective team. Katie thinks the world and more of her partner, and anyone would be lucky to have a work relationship that runs so deeply.

It was a huge thrill to finally meet Josh Albert as well. I’d heard nothing but great things about how good of both a person and police officer he is. He had people around him all night, but I did get a chance to say hello and when I did his eyes lit up and he thanked me profusely. He gripped my hand with a tight squeeze, and I could feel his gratitude. I hope this will inspire him to heal.

I would do this all over again and then some in a heartbeat. This is the kind of vibe that makes life worth living. It’s pure, vibrant and completely untouchable by anyone who continues to be a detractor of mine despite my attempts to make peace whenever possible. I’m sorry that everyone can’t get along, but after one or sometimes a dozen apologies all one can do is just let things go.

This wasn’t about anything other than doing something that I think anyone should do who has the opportunity. This time it was my turn to pitch in, and I did the best I could. Anyone who isn’t a fan of me personally has that right, but nobody can say this evening wasn’t about helping out a fellow human being. I got my revenge by spreading good energy, and that’s the best kind of all.

Media Frenzy

October 17, 2012

October 16th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI/Milwaukee, WI

   What a hectic day – but totally in a good way. I had a TV interview scheduled for 6:15am this morning on CBS 58 in Milwaukee to promote the Josh Albert fundraiser tomorrow night but my timing was thrown off by a traffic detour. There was some situation near my house that rerouted us all, and it put me several minutes behind schedule and cut it way too close for my preference.

I really can’t stand being late, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Situations occur out of nowhere and this was one of them. Could I have left earlier? Maybe, but who would expect traffic trouble at 4:45am? I assumed I’d be able to make it and I assumed wrong. It really threw me for a loop.

Television has rigid time constraints. I understand that, and did all I could to make sure I let the producer know I was on my way. I gave him updates as I sped through the last few miles going a lot faster than a Chevy Cavalier should be going at 6am. I didn’t want to blow my commitment.

I ended up making it by about 6:10, but I was a frazzled mess. The staff was very friendly, but I still apologized for cutting it so close. Apparently they’re used to it, because nobody was angry. They wired me up with a microphone, and I walked in the studio to be on with Tom Durian and Jennifer Tomazic. They were also friendly, but I was really thrown off by my traffic nightmare.

Normally, I’m right there with a quick funny line and can play off what anyone says. Today it felt like my tongue was in a lower gear, and I couldn’t get it together like I usually can. I wasn’t as sharp as usual, and I know what caused it. I know they didn’t notice, but I certainly did. What could I do but smile and say thanks? I wasn’t happy with what I did, but none of this is about me.

I was able to get the event plugged on television, and that’s the idea. I hope I didn’t blow a shot to come back in the future with my bumbling mumbling interview, and it should be a huge lesson not to do this again any time soon. If leaving extra early will avoid it, that’s what I intend to do.

I made a few other stops to pick up silent auction items, and then drove home to get some work done there. I received a call from Ted Perry at Fox 6 asking if I’d like to be interviewed by Jenna Sachs for the news and of course I said yes. It would totally be worth another drive to Milwaukee and I appreciated the plug. Ted has always been one of my biggest supporters. He’s the greatest.

All kinds of positive energy is coming out of the woodwork from every direction for this event, and it feels like it will be a smashing success. I can’t help but think of the other events that I have spearheaded in the past that have exploded in my face but this doesn’t feel like those. We’ll see.

I swung by Drew Olson’s house to make sure we’re covered there. Drew is another person who has always been in my corner, and he was the perfect choice to host this event. He’ll be fantastic, and his father was a police officer for 25 years. Everything is coming together without a hitch, or so it seems. I have done all I can do, and so has everyone else I’ve recruited to help. All anybody can do now is wait – and that’s the part that kills me. Will anyone show up? I hope so, but there’s never any guarantee. If it tanks it this time, it won’t be for lack of effort. Here goes…everything.

Fundraiser Focus

October 3, 2012

Tuesday October 2nd, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   My main project for the next two weeks is going to be attending to the details pertaining to the comedy benefit fundraiser show for Officer Josh Albert at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on October 17th. The lineup of comedians is set, but that was the least of my concerns. There’s a lot more to do, and seeing how I’ve managed to lose money on most benefits I’ve ever done I’m a bit wary.

First and foremost, I need to get the media behind it to get the word out. There was significant media coverage when the accident first occurred, and hopefully this can help put as happy of an ending to it as possible. Obviously it would be best if it never happened, but that’s not how it is.

I’ve received several responses from various media outlets in Milwaukee, and I’m encouraged. I don’t care who gets interviewed, I just want word to get out the event is taking place at all. My cousin Katie will be able to tell the story far better than me because she was there, and hopefully that puts butts in seats to show support. The comedians and I will handle everything from there.

But beyond that, I’m hoping to do even more good if I can. I’m attempting to reach as many of my comedian friends who have CDs or DVDs or books and have them donate two copies of each – one for Officer Albert to listen to while he’s recovering and another to be used for an auction.

I know Officer Albert isn’t the only person recovering from horrific injuries, and I wish I could find a way to spread some comedy around to them. I thought of this last year when I was dealing with my own medical issues, and the idea still appeals to me. But first things first, I’ll make sure this event comes off successfully before worrying about saving the world. I can’t do everything.

So far, we’re looking good. My friend Drew Olson from 540 ESPN Milwaukee agreed to host the evening. He is very well liked in town, and hopefully those in the media that may not be my biggest fans will help support the cause despite my involvement. I don’t want personal politics.

My other focus is rounding up items for a silent auction. What will sell, I have no idea. I have had several donations already though, and I’m thrilled beyond words. My comedy writer friend Bill Mihalic put a word out to Jay Leno, and Jay’s assistant said a signed picture is on the way.

I asked Eddie Brill the best way to get a David Letterman signed picture, and I have no doubt if it’s at all possible Eddie will help make it happen. If not, I’m sure he will have some suggestions as to what else I can do or who else I can approach. I do have an extensive list of quality people.

Another friend Steve Olsher really came through with an amazing combination package of self help materials including a videotaped seminar weekend I was a part of this past summer and two of his bestselling books. The retail value of the package is $593.79, and I’m grateful to accept it.

Pat McCurdy’s manager Brian Murphy will donate some of Pat’s merchandise, and he’s one of my all time faves. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Tom Haudricourt wrote a book that I really love about the ’82 Brewers and is donating a signed copy. This is a start, but there’s more to do.

Hooters And Rooters

May 20, 2010

Tuesday May 18th, 2010 – Greenfield, WI

Sometimes everything just works out. I look around at some people and I see it happen all the time. There are no glitches and everything moves along exactly how it’s supposed to. That’s never been me, but once in a while I’ll catch a day when it comes pretty close.

Today was one of those. For the second year in a row I was asked to emcee the swimsuit contest at Hooters in Greenfield, WI. I got it last year when my friend Drew Olson wasn’t able to do it, and he thought of me as a last minute replacement. My timing was perfect.

That’s not something I’m used to, so I took it as a victory. Any time there’s a chance for a paying gig on a Tuesday, one takes it – especially in this economy. I’d had experience in working for Hooters before from my radio days in both Reno and Salt Lake City, and they were always very professional to deal with. Plus, who doesn’t like to “check the menu“?

The thing I like about Hooters is they really know how to run an event. They’ve always been extremely thorough, at least from my experience, and they make it classy rather than take it into the gutter. Of course guys are there to gawk at chicks, but it doesn’t feel slimy.

The manager of the Greenfield Hooters is extremely sharp, and I could tell that as soon as I met him last year. His name is Bob Hall, and he totally gets how to run an event. This was his fifth one, and by no means was it easy to pull off even one. It was a killer success, and run well from top to bottom. Any time I can be a part of something like that, I do it.

One of the few things I know how to do well is emcee an event. I can think very quickly on my feet and keep things going smoothly, even when they’re not. That took many years to acquire, but I’m confident to be able to handle anything at this point. It’s not a big deal, but like a referee in sports – the host only gets noticed when something goes very wrong.

Nothing went wrong last year other than I made a couple of comments up front that had a bit of double entendre to them, and Bob told me I had to lay off of that kind of thing. He wasn’t a jerk about it or anything like that, he just told me where the line was and I got it.

After that, it came off without as much as a hint of trouble, and everyone was happy. He paid me immediately, and I was grateful to get it. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that he wanted me back this year, and it happened to fit into my schedule perfectly so I said yes.

This year’s event was even better. The crowd was more into it, and everything fell into place perfectly. The same sound guy was there, a guy named Bobby Donini who had a big system that really sounded great. He handed me the mike and everything went really well.

This year I had a co-hostess too, an absolute blonde stunner named Sarah who’s 21 and looks like Jessica Simpson but is a lot smarter. She did some announcements between the costume changes of the contestants and was a peach to work with. She wasn’t stuck up or a bubblehead at all. Nobody was. This was about as fun as a Tuesday in Wisconsin gets.

These are the kinds of connections that make life enjoyable. It started with Drew Olson. I’ve known him for over twenty years, and he’s always had a heart of gold. Even when he was just an upstart writer for the Milwaukee Journal, he was always generous and got the concept of sharing the wealth in life. Now, all these years later it’s paying off in spades.

Drew was a roommate of a comedian friend named Pete Lipsey, another classy guy who has always been a giver. I’ve tried to be the same, and for whatever reason the three of us hooked up way back when, and it’s paid off more times than I can count. I helped Pete get started in comedy, and had Drew on as a guest when I was doing mornings at 93QFM.

It’s funny to imagine now, but he was actually nervous the first couple of times he was on the air with us in those days. Nobody else knew that though, and he was very good on the show. We’d have him in when we could, and he always told me how grateful he was for it. I was happy to do it, and now all these years later the roles have switched around.

Now he’s Mr. Radio Guy and lets me sit in on his show when I want. He’s never blown me off, nor forgotten how I helped him get started. That’s not only a sign of real class, but a tribute to his lack of petty insecurity that can be so common in the entertainment game.

Drew passed the Hooters gig on to me, and I met Bob. Bob liked what I did last year, so he called me again this year. I totally didn’t expect it, and it was a pleasant surprise to get another chance to do it. He said he plans on doing it next year, and I’ll get the call again.

What’s even better is that there’s a similar contest at the Hooters in Rockford, IL. Guess who’s hosting that one? My old radio buddies Stone and Double T from 104 ‘The X’, and I was just a guest on their show last week. All the people were telling me how I needed to meet them but I told them we were already friends. Small world, but this one is a winner.

These are totally the people I want to not only hang out with, but exchange services and favors like this. Stone and Double T are great guys, and they give me the same freedom to come on their radio show as Drew Olson and Dan Needles do on ESPN 540. Bob fits into that mold, and now he’s another connection. He’d help me, and I’d surely help him also.

These people are more than just friends. These are RELATIONSHIPS, the kind that one never loses out by both seeking and developing. Nobody keeps track of favors, but there’s two way action whenever one is needed. I want to find as many of these people as I can in life and keep the network growing. The dividends it pays come back many years later.

I gave Bob and a copy of my Hard Luck Jollies CD, and I forgot I did a bit about having a Hooters in Milwaukee that should have been called “Udders”. It’s gotten big laughs for many years, but I felt embarrassed that it was on there. This Hooters is anything but that.

What a treat to have people like Bob and Drew and Stone and Double T in my life. I’m extremely grateful for all of them, and it doesn’t hurt to have to look at gorgeous women in bikinis all night to get paid. This is how life should be every day. I’m working on that.

Exercising My Options

February 26, 2010

Thursday February 25th, 2010 – Gurnee, IL

The struggle for balance continues, but I’m making progress. First things first, I crawled out of the rack and got to the mall to get my laps in early.  I could walk near home and get results, but I like the mall. The temperature is controlled and at least there’s scenery to see other than some enormous sweat soaked ass on a stationery bike in front of me at a gym.

Gurnee Mills Mall is about seven miles away, but getting there can be a hassle. Traffic tends to back up as there are all kinds of unsynchronized lights, but I like to walk there so that’s where I do it. It’s long and flat and two laps is a nice workout. Three is a marathon, and if I ever decide to do four I should just apply for the job as a security guard already.

Walking is good exercise and I’m not alone in doing it. The others there aren’t all just a pack of dried up blue haired walking dead either, there’s actually a nice mix of people I’ll see depending on when I show up. The earlier I get there, the more I realize I’m not alone in a quest to at least attempt to get in some kind of shape. It takes effort to show up daily.

By the time I drive there and drive back and do a 45 minute to hour walk or more, it’s a significant outlay of time spent and it shrinks my work day. I suppose my heart blowing a gasket would shrink my work day even more – down to zero. Exercise is an investment in having some kind of a quality future that doesn’t involve being plugged in to a machine.

I’ve really been lax on exercising for many years, and unless I change my ways for good it WILL catch up with me. Nobody can live a sedentary lifestyle that long and then expect perfect health, especially with a diet loaded with sugar, grease, salt, chemicals and cheese.

I never smoke, drank or did drugs, but I’ll be just as dead as if I did if a major backup of butter and beef jerky residue clogs my aorta and I nod out on my steering wheel in a drive thru window somewhere. I’ve had a free ride for too long and I’m tempting the fates daily if I keep doing it. The body can take only so much – I don’t want to determine that total.

It would be a shame to have come so far in my life from so little, only to croak from not taking care of myself – something that is totally in my control. A lot of the other stuff I’ve had to deal with had nothing to do with me, and I still overcame it. This has everything to do with me, as everyone has a choice in what they put in their mouth or if they exercise.

If there’s anything comforting about this, I’m by far not alone in this struggle. Millions of Americans have this same situation, and it’s not easy to fix it in a short time. It’s been years of packing pizza and greasy burgers and fries and anything with mayonnaise down my gullet, and making it even worse by rotting in front of a TV and not exercising at all.

A few days in a row of walking a couple of laps in a mall isn’t going to turn me into the finely tuned world class athlete I never was, and I sure have lost a lot of the natural health and vigor I had in my teens and twenties. My home state of Wisconsin is the lard ass and love handle capital of the solar system, and I don’t want to perpetuate that trait anymore.

Unfortunately, exercising every day for a whole hour isn’t going to be easy. It’s just not. I have a lot of things going, and sometimes I can’t spare the time it takes to get to the mall and walk, get back home and shower up and then tend to my business. Some days will not allow that time, and I have to accept that and not beat myself up for it. That’s how life is.

Still, getting to the point where more often than not I do get some sort of exercise in is a place I am going to go. Period. I know I need to do it the older I get, and if that’s the thing that actually does kill me, it’ll make a funny story to tell. “Did you hear about Mr. Lucky? He started exercising and that’s what killed him.” I have to admit, that fits my character.

But, that’s only a stage character. I’ve said it before and it’s true – playing Mr. Lucky on stage is great fun. And it is. BEING him in real life is a nightmare. I’m starting to separate the two a lot better than I ever have and my off stage life is a lot more stable because of it.

I’m also pumped about doing this one man show about Milwaukee. Things are fitting in perfectly, and I can feel good things on the horizon by the day. I’m working with familiar people I’ve known for years, and they’re coming on board. Richard Halasz is a comedian who is doing some booking of shows, and I trust him. He’s honest and ethical to a fault.

Richard is the one who approached me about performing the show in Saukville, WI at a venue he’s booked before called The Railroad Station. I’m there March 13th, and he’s put a ton of effort into promoting it. I got a call today from a radio station in Fond Du Lac and they’re going to put me on next week to promote it. Plus, Richard made some great flyers.

I’ve also been approached about doing a big grand opening premiere show October 1st, and I’m excited to hear it. I will use that date to record either a CD, DVD or both and it’ll be something to promote all summer as I get my ducks in order and prepare the product.

I’m going to call in every local favor I can, but it’s already starting to come my way. It’s amazing how word is getting out, and I’m getting calls from all over. I got one today from my old friend Aye Jaye. He used to be Ronald McDonald for years and he’s now living in Los Angeles and still entertaining. That guy is a true character, and I mean it with respect.

When I had my first near fatal car wreck in 1993, Aye Jaye mailed me a check for $100 and I never forgot him for it. That $100 couldn’t have come at a better time and it paid for a lot of frivolous luxury items like…FOOD. He helped me when I needed it the most and I’ve never forgotten that. He added a bunch of fantastic suggestions I know I’ll include.

People like Richard Halasz and Aye Jaye and Ron Lee who used to produce shows back at Teddy’s in the ‘80s are going to help put this project over the top. Also, long time good friends like Drew Olson, Ted Perry, Steve ‘The Homer’ True and more will also pitch in.

I’m doing things right for once, and it feels SO good to see it come together after many years of frustration and failure. This is going to work! I can feel it. I’d hate to lose all this because I didn’t spend time exercising and blew my heart up like a five cent firecracker.