Posts Tagged ‘Elvis’

Dirty Diapers

July 28, 2014

Wednesday July 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I want to talk more about the whole game of getting on television. Ultimately, it’s what makes or breaks a true career in the entertainment business and everyone that succeeds needs to master it and find their outlet. Some may have a different platform than others, but television is the key.

It used to be that once a comedian – and I’m sure singers, dancers, magicians, ventriloquists as well – got on a big show like Ed Sullivan or Johnny Carson, they were as good as set. They’d get all the agents that were anyone fighting over them, and usually end up with a guaranteed income.

There were a few that flamed out, but for the most part those shows were the showcase for the very best of the best in any field of entertainment. If one was lucky enough to get on a show like that, literally MILLIONS would see them in one shot. It’s not like that anymore, and never will be. The days of the world wide mega star entertainer are over thanks to one reason – the internet.

There will be a few that slip through, but it won’t be like it was. Everybody in society had seen Bob Hope when he was popular, but not everybody has seen Justin Timberlake or Beyonce. The fan bases of those people tend to be in their own generation, and it’s not necessarily a negative.

It sure allows for more specialized serving of one’s audience, and also gives more entertainers a taste of the enormous success that used to be reserved for only the elite marquee names like an Elvis or Frank Sinatra before him. The Beatles were huge too, as was Michael Jackson. Now we have a ton of acts carving out their own smaller empires, with most of the world oblivious to it.

Getting on television is still important, but not nearly as important as knowing how to manage the internet. The game has changed completely now in that schmuckos like me and everyone else with a computer can technically throw our hats in the ring and start making our own appearances on “television”. It’s not network television, but the possibility does exist for it to be seen all over.

I’m not just talking national television, I’m talking WORLD WIDE. “Going viral” is possible, even though it’s not likely just like buying a lottery ticket doesn’t make you likely to win. What it does is gives one a chance to win, and today’s entertainer needs to come up with a battle plan.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen made over and over is people putting things out there too soon. I hear the newbies talking about how they have six videos and four CDs and “did an hour” at some toilet club somewhere that was recorded and is now a “one hour special”. I hear this constantly.

The trick is to make a special truly special. Years of hard work and polish can’t be avoided if a comedian or any other act wants to break through the crowd. These are things nobody gets told at the beginning, and it’s wrongly assumed everything they do needs to be recorded and thrown out there for the universe to see. I equate this with dirty diapers. Should those be displayed openly?

Of course not. They should be changed in private and thrown out. Eventually the baby will not need to wear one anymore, and it’s a non issue. The same is true for entertainers. Don’t show us your dirty diapers on You Tube or anywhere else. It’s a whole new game, and I need to master it like everyone else. It’s a good thing I have a lifetime of experience. I am really going to need it.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every bad set they do needs to be on You Tube. WRONG.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every brutal set they do needs to be on You Tube.

Right Place Right Time

July 13, 2014

Friday July 11th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

One of the few standout highlights of my childhood that has successfully stood the test of time is my extreme love of professional wrestling. It wasn’t so much the actual wrestling itself as the dynamic personalities and charisma of the wrestlers. I was fortunate to have seen some greats.

Wrestling was a regional attraction for much of the 20th century until Vince McMahon Jr. took over his father’s promotion on the east coast and graduated it to a national and then international stage. Like it or not – and none of the old school promoters did – McMahon changed the game.

The star attraction he used to build his empire was Hulk Hogan, and together they created a big splash not only in the wrestling world but in mainstream American culture of the ‘80s. Hogan is the only professional wrestler to date to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and that says a lot.

Hulk Hogan became a household name during that time, and Vince McMahon became wealthy beyond belief. Most casual fans of wrestling accept as fact that Hogan was the greatest of his era, but in fact he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. That’s the recipe for success.

Hogan’s wrestling abilities have never been stellar, but that doesn’t matter. His look combined with his persona and charisma were exactly what the public was buying at that time. He nailed it. It was just like the Colonel finding Elvis. That was another example of right place and right time.

For every Hogan or Elvis that hit pay dirt there are countless others that never find the winning combo and are destined to languish in either relative or total obscurity. One of those in wrestling was my childhood super hero and fellow Milwaukeean Reggie Lisowski – aka “The Crusher”.

The Crusher was the Midwest Hulk Hogan, even though Hogan got his first big push working for Verne Gagne’s AWA based out of Minneapolis. That was a major promotion in that era, and all kinds of great talent came through there – and through my little black and white television set.

Wrestling on TV then was basically a one hour commercial for live matches, and it worked. It got me to spend my money, and I loved every minute of it. The Crusher was my favorite, and the favorite of everyone else in Milwaukee. He was the original bad ass, way before Chuck Norris.

The Crusher was born on this day in 1926, and was nearing the end of his illustrious run just as Vince McMahon was starting his. Crusher and so many others that earned it never got to taste the mainstream adulation that Hogan and many that came after him did. That’s just luck of the draw.

The Crusher wasn’t born at the right time, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. It’s an unfair world, and some things are beyond our control. Another great that got screwed in that way was “Superstar” Billy Graham. I used to watch him as a kid, and he turned wrestling on its ear.

Vince McMahon Jr. admits that if he were in charge instead of his father that Superstar would have been Hulk Hogan ten years earlier. But he wasn’t. And now Superstar Graham lives alone in obscurity, wondering what could have – and should have – been. Life is what it is, and trying to figure it out only causes frustration. The Crusher and Superstar are still big stars in my book.

The Crusher flexing one of his '100 megaton biceps'. He was a classic, but never made the big money. What a shame.

The Crusher flexing one of his ‘100 megaton biceps’. He was THE attraction in wrestling when I was a kid. “How ’bout dat?”.

"Superstar" Billy Graham was ahead of his time, and even Vince McMahon admits it. Read Superstar's autobiography "Tangled Ropes". He was Hulk Hogan before Hulk Hogan.

“Superstar” Billy Graham was ahead of his time, and even Vince McMahon admits it. Read Superstar’s autobiography “Tangled Ropes”. He was Hulk Hogan way before Hulk Hogan, but never got paid like it.

Michael Jackson’s Birthday

August 30, 2013

Thursday August 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 55th birthday. What a fascinating character study he was on so many levels. Only a handful of people who ever lived have had a worldwide influence like he did during his run. Like Elvis, he was the right person in the right place at the right time.

   Did he have talent? He was loaded with it, but that doesn’t always guarantee success. There are many things that have to come together for massive success, and both Elvis and Michael Jackson were the proverbial ‘one in a million’. They were one in hundreds of millions, but that in no way insured their lives would be Shangri-La. Their problems were larger than life just like they were.

   From all I’ve read I don’t think Elvis was a dented can but Michael surely was. I don’t think he and his father got along well to say the least, and that’s usually where it starts. Unfortunately, we as children of relationships like that often tend to think fame and fortune will heal those wounds, but it never does. Sooner or later that fact becomes apparent, and it’s a stunning disappointment.

   I can’t comment on Michael Jackson’s personal life, as I wasn’t there. Whether he did what he was accused of or not I don’t feel qualified to talk about. It’s absolutely none of my business and nobody else’s but his and his accusers. Unfortunately, on that level one’s personal life becomes a wide open book to be rummaged through by the public on a whim. That’s the downside of fame.

   I’m just focusing on his career. The success he had with The Jackson Five alone would be a big deal, but that was only the beginning. His star steadily rose, and he took entertainment to heights that had never been seen on a worldwide level ever – including Elvis. He set the world standard.

   He rode the global wave of MTV, and pioneered the way music videos were done. Every other act to come along after Michael Jackson basically used his template of a lead dancer in front with a flock of dancers behind, but few came close to doing it as well as he did. He was the innovator.

   Elvis had his own greatness for his time, but he wasn’t a dancer or writer of songs. He was one of the most charismatic stage performers in history, and that alone is impressive. Michael took it to a whole other level at a different time, and his influence is still being felt today. What a talent.

   I’ve always been especially impressed with the ‘Thriller’ album. That came out the year after I graduated high school, so it’s been a part of my life for decades. I heard the songs played on the radio, and they were a part of my entire life experience just as the Beatles were for a generation before. I hear Beatles songs being played today, but I was never part of that intense culture blast.

   I watched Michael Jackson’s career soar, and it was quite impressive. During the ‘80s it wasn’t easy to turn on a TV or radio without seeing or hearing something about Michael Jackson. It was a true cultural phenomenon, and part of the fabric of life. How many ever reach that level? Him.

   I’m sorry his and Elvis’s lives ended so sadly and quickly. No mortal can sustain that lifestyle for long, but the question is if one could choose would it be the short fast life of a superstar or an ordinary one filled with mediocrity that lasted into old age? That’s a decision most never face.  

Every entertainer would LOVE to have a project like this on the resume - an all time classic.

Every entertainer would LOVE to have a project like this on the resume – an all time classic.


Happy Birthday Crusher

July 13, 2013

Thursday July 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Some people just have ‘it’ – an abstract and intangible quality that can be extremely difficult to describe by itself, but is instantly recognizable by a possessor. There aren’t many considering the bulk of the population is up over seven billion, but when one comes along they make their mark.

   ‘It’ is a magnetic charisma that emanates from within, and can be a powerful force when taken advantage of properly. Most of the major entertainers have this quality to some degree, and that’s a big reason why they attain success. They have something desirable that not everyone else gets.

   One of those people that happened to be a major influence throughout my entire childhood was one Reggie Lisowski – aka “The Crusher”. He was a professional wrestler who happened to hail from my home town of Milwaukee, and had a legion of loyal fans who followed his every move.

   The Crusher was Milwaukee’s Elvis, and everyone loved him. He was built like a mailbox with a gravelly voice, bleach blonde hair and big eyes that would bug out when telling what he had on the agenda for his next opponent who he would often refer to as a ‘bum’, ‘turkeyneck’ or both.

   Despite the fact that Crusher was in his 50s at the time, his local legend was strong and he was able to jam pack the Milwaukee Arena whenever he wrestled. I was fortunate enough to see him live many times throughout my childhood and teen years, and when he walked down the aisle to make his grand entrance into the ring it was like nothing else I have ever seen before or since.

   He was loaded with ‘it’, and had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand from before he would even step into the ring. There was a feeling of pure electricity before he came out of the dressing room, and by the time he stepped into the ring it was full blown pandemonium. He was a legend.    

   The Crusher was born on this date in 1926, and died on October 22nd, 2005. I remember when I heard he’d passed, and how it seemed so surreal that such a powerful figure that was built up as such an indestructible hero for so many years could now be gone. He was Milwaukee’s favorite.   

   I was performing on New Year’s Eve at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee one year, and they have giant glass elevators that can fit a large number of people. I was coming back from my gig and the elevator I was in was full. I could distinctly hear a gravelly voice in the rear of the elevator, and I wondered who had the audacity to do a bad impression of The Crusher.  

   When we got to the lobby, I saw it was the man himself. We were both in tuxedos, and I had to go up and say hello. He was very nice, and thanked me for saying nice things. I meant every one of them, and I’ll never forget the feeling of shaking his hand that felt like rough grade sandpaper.

   The Crusher never made the huge money wrestlers or athletes in general make today, but he’s a  legitimate superstar to more than one generation of not only Milwaukeeans but everywhere that he wrestled. He had that magic charisma that few ever get, and he used it as much as he could.

   According to numerology, those born on the 11th and 22nd tend to be special and influence a lot of people. After I heard this, I noticed how many celebrities happen to have birthdays on an ‘11’ or ‘22’ and think there may be something to it. Rodney Dangerfield has a ‘22′ for a birthday and so does George Clinton – two of my favorites also loaded with ‘it’. My personal supply of ‘it’ is questionable, but I do the best I can. The Crusher was loaded, and I still love him today.

One of my most prized possessions to this day.

One of my most prized possessions to this day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The Fame Game

April 24, 2013

Monday April 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Almost everyone enjoys a pipe dream of becoming famous at least once, but nobody ever has a realistic idea of everything that it entails. It’s fun to imagine the perceived perks that accompany a celebrity’s existence, but like everything else in life it comes attached with a substantial price.

   I have had the opportunity to observe varying degrees of famous people firsthand over multiple decades, and it’s always an education to see how those situations play out. Everyone is different, and that produces different results each time. Some were made for that role, and others weren’t.

   In everyone’s fantasy, being famous is always a pleasant experience. One gets recognized only at the most convenient time, and then only by the most attractive members of society who are all sane and want nothing else but to heap the highest praise and politely request a quick autograph.

   There are never any kooks, detractors or stalkers in said fantasy, and the magic button is able to be turned on and off at will so when it’s not convenient to be recognized one can quickly go right back to enjoying the undervalued freedom of anonymity. Unfortunately, this is far from reality.

   In the real world however, fame is extremely unpredictable. It can come and go without notice, and often does. Just because one achieves it at a certain time in a particular circle doesn’t mean it will be there forever, and while it’s there it comes with a downside nobody ever sees in advance.

   I couldn’t imagine being truly famous on a massive scale like an Elvis or Michael Jackson. It’s usually a recipe for eventual disaster, and few if any ever handle it well for very long. Both Elvis and Michael died young, and by all accounts their final years weren’t pleasant. Who wants that?

   My grandfather had a great saying: “The higher you climb up the flagpole, the more people can see your ass.” Gramps had a way of cutting to the chase, and this made perfect sense even when I was a kid. Still, I am in a business where having name recognition is what puts fannies in seats.

   There’s a gargantuan difference between name recognition on a business level and insane fame though, and I don’t want any part of the fame game. I’m private off stage to the point of boring. I don’t need to be a constant center of focus, and in fact I’m very uncomfortable in that role at all.

   I do what I do on stage, and that gets my ya yas out just fine. When the show is over, I am right back to being myself and I like that just fine. People often come up to say they enjoyed the show, and that’s great. I always try to be accessible and sincerely thank them for coming – and mean it.

   I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about Justin Bieber famous. He’s the latest example of a genuine worldwide sensation, and I can’t see how anyone that age could have a clue as to how to handle it. It’s great for the ego to know you can sleep with anyone you want in a major arena full of hot and horny teenage girls – and their mothers too – but I don’t think it’s a healthy existence.

   I don’t think I’m made to play the fame game, but I do want to get more name recognition for a chance to make more money doing what I’m already doing. I won’t be any funnier if I can fill an arena, but I sure will be richer and I don’t find anything at all wrong with that. I’ve paid my dues for a lifetime to acquire the skill set I have, so what’s wrong with maximizing my income to earn more than the journeyman’s wage I’m bringing home now? Being a worldwide heartthrob might sound fun in theory, but I’d gladly settle for a respectable following of fans to keep my bills paid.

Michael Jordan’s Birthday

February 20, 2013

Sunday February 17th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Michael Jordan turned 50 today, but that’s only one of several reasons February 17th has gotten to be a date of uncomfortable significance on my yearly calendar. Today was also the birthday of my grandmother who was born in 1911 and the day my father died in 2007. That’s a lot to digest.

There are so many emotions mixed in with all of that I’m not sure where to start. I have always been a fan of Michael Jordan, partially because I knew he was my age. He was born in 1963 just as I was, but how much more different could any two lives be? Birth year is about all we share.

Can anybody name a person in any walk of life much less an athlete more famous than Michael Jordan? I can’t. That guy is one in a million million, just like Muhammad Ali or Babe Ruth. He’s the singular standard by which an entire sport is measured for generations. How amazing is that?

Other famous athletes were born in 1963 like Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley, but Michael has gone beyond athletics and is pop culture – and worldwide pop culture at that. He’s reached about as high a level as one can get and still qualify as human. After that one becomes a cartoon image.

I heard all kinds of tributes on the radio today about him turning 50, and they made him sound SO old. I used to think 50 was old too, but now I’m there and it feels like I’m just getting started. I was too busy making mistakes until now, but I finally feel like I’m in a position to hit pay dirt.

Then I look at a Michael Jordan and he’s been on top of the top for thirty years. It’s like it was included in his DNA, and it would be difficult for him NOT to be successful. He may not be the red hot icon he once was, but he’s had a super run right up there with Elvis or Michael Jackson.

It’s hard to comprehend someone of that magnitude being born just a few weeks ahead of me, but it’s true. That doesn’t guarantee happiness though. Whitney Houston was also born in 1963 and it didn’t end well for her even though she also attained heights most humans never reach.

Then there’s my father. He was an overwhelming underachiever and waste of sperm no matter when he was born. Nobody celebrated his 50th or any other birthday on radio or anywhere else. It still baffles me why he was so mean spirited and nasty to just about everyone, but now he’s dead and nobody misses him. I surely don’t, but I do wish I could find out what made him that upset.

Michael Jordan at 50 is looked at as a lion hearted champion of a generation and has the rest of his days to do as much or as little as he pleases. He has millions of dollars and a new model wife. If he’s unhappy – and he very well could be – it sure isn’t due to lack of resources. He’s loaded.

My father at 50 hadn’t ventured off the back porch to attempt anything. He was proud that he’d been able to pull down a disability for his bum heart, and he pissed the rest of his life away doing absolutely nothing of significance. As I sneak up on 50 – or as it sneaks up on me – I find myself betwixt the magnificence of Michael and the folly of my father. I have no idea where I’ll end up on the big picture chart of life. I have all I can handle keeping my bills paid. I can’t dwell on this.

Where’s My Colonel?

February 19, 2013

Saturday February 16th, 2013 – Mishawaka, IN

   My stress level is down considerably. I had about as productive of a day on the road as I could imagine, and after two solid shows last night I’m feeling pretty good. My show is as ready as it’s ever going to be, and I’m in full bloom as a performer. There were two very different crowds last night, and I handled them both with ease if I do say so myself. I am at the very top of my game.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever and I am well aware. It took an unbelievable amount of scraping, clawing and self sacrifice to get here, but I totally feel I am in control on any stage. I’ve reached a level few ever get to, and it feels satisfying to know that I’ve stayed with it for so long.

I could easily have given up years ago and logically I probably should have, but I know deep in my heart I would have ended up much more miserable than I am now – and the main reason I am miserable now is that I want to be working more. I have found the thing I absolutely love to do.

I might not love the constant travel or the politics or the stress of always having to stay booked every week, but when I’m on that stage it feels like home. I finally feel like I’m starting to know what I’m doing up there, and that confidence adds rocket fuel to the mix. I’m on a higher level.

Not many people in any pursuit have paid the dues I have, and I’m starting to see results. What to do with those results is beyond me, but I have to think someone else has to see it at some point and raise me to a higher place. That person who ‘discovers’ me will end up looking like a genius.

I’m to the point now I can’t do much more by myself. I’ve taken my show to a higher level, but if nobody on a higher level in the business knows who I am I will continue to live hand to mouth and I just don’t want to do that. I’ve put far too much effort into this to remain unknown forever.

I’m really looking forward to the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows in Milwaukee coming up in April, but that’s not the best I can do. It will be fun to work a professional stage, but as far as taking my act to the next level it’s already there. Now it’s a matter of presenting it as such and getting paid.  

   These people in Mishawaka this weekend didn’t get cheated in the least. They got basically the same show people will get who pay top dollar in a theatre, and they loved it. People stood in line after all four shows this weekend to shake my hand and tell me how much they laughed, and that absolutely never gets old. I smiled and thanked every one of them, but I’m the one getting hosed.

I have a great problem but it’s still a problem – my act has exceeded my level of status and it’s time to move up. I’ve graduated from the commando bar gig scene and I want to get that elusive following I’ve been chasing for so many years. I want people to come out specifically to see me.

I’m not getting that doing what I’m doing, so I’ll have to find help. Maybe someone I meet at the Laughing Skull Festival next month will be able to help and that’s my focus going in. I will put those vibes out there and let the universe find me that person or people. This is the right time and it won’t take all that much to get something exciting on track. Elvis needs to find a Colonel.

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.

Evolution 9

August 5, 2010

Tuesday August 3rd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Any good artist, or person in general for that matter, constantly evolves. Singers, actors, comedians, writers, radio personalities, anyone. Early Elvis and The Beatles are a far cry from their later stuff, and that’s good. Not all fans may like it, but growth causes change.

I’m at a point in my comedy where I’m feeling a huge need to grow. I’ve not had much of a chance to be an ‘artist’, because most of my ‘career’ has been spent trying to eke out a living. Part of that means playing it safe and not taking any artistic risks to get a check.

It’s easy to call that ‘selling out’, and in many ways it’s exactly that, but what’s so damn wrong about it? When push comes to shove, most people in the business would totally do it, and I can’t say I blame them. It’s difficult enough to make a living in the regular world, much less the surreal circus that is show business. I do see why a lot of decisions occur.

In some ways, some sort of conformity is good – at least at the start. It does tend to keep an act grounded in my opinion. It establishes a starting point to evolve from, and it makes it easy to chart progress. Early George Carlin or Richard Pryor weren’t even close to what they were at their end point, but they were both legends in the business. They evolved.

Even Bill Cosby has evolved. I saw him live when I was a kid and he was unbelievably fabulous. Then, I saw him just a few years ago and he was still funny, but talked about his childhood in a completely different way than the Cosby legend most of us are used to did.

He was still great, but in a different way. I think it’s necessary to keep growing or it will all fall in on itself and crumble. This is probably a major reason as to why bands break up, other than it’s extremely difficult to get people to work in harmony for any length of time. Fans want to keep hearing ‘the old stuff’, and musicians want to keep creating new music.

I’m lucky enough where I don’t really have that many fans. I have some, and I’m totally grateful for every single one of them, but in reality I’m a comedy mercenary. I get hired to do various commando jobs around the country, and I’m gone the next day. I’m in and out. That’s how it was in vaudeville, where comedians used to use the same act for fifty years.

Personally, that would be a prison sentence to me. I don’t care how well it paid. I enjoy working and tweaking and reinventing my show and also tailoring it to the specific crowd on that particular evening. That’s part of the joy of performing, and what keeps me going.

In my early twenties, I was extremely angry about a lot of things and out to prove to the world I wasn’t about to take it’s BS. I was green and inexperienced, and made all kinds of stupid mistakes, several of which I’m still paying for today. But I’m not that person now.

George Clinton’s famous quote is “Free your mind, and your ass will follow.” I tweaked it just a little. I have freed my mind, and my act will follow. I’m not sure where it will go, but it will go somewhere. As I grow and change, my act has to or I’ll be in comedy hell.

Star Child Passes

June 18, 2010

Thursday June 17th, 2010 – Champaign, IL

Fans of comedians pale by far in comparison to fans of musicians. I’ve never had even one fan throw any panties toward the stage or pass out when I walked past them. I haven’t seen it with any other comedian either, and I’ve been around a lot of them. It’s not reality.

Music is different. I’ve seen rabid fans of all kinds of music sleep out overnight in front of a ticket office hoping to see a favorite band. There are packs of nomadic people touring across country hawking cheap trinkets and LSD so they can scrape up scratch to gawk at a remnant of The Grateful Dead. I doubt if even one fan has ever walked a mall to see me.

That being said, I’m a fan too. I like George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, and it’s been a life long pursuit. I’m sure Elvis and Beatles fanatics are the same, as are rabid fans of Led Zeppelin, Springsteen, Kiss, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks or just about anyone.

It almost becomes a way of life. One gets to know the band’s music first, but then it’s a constant piecing together of bits of information, trivia, news, rumor, hearsay and nuggets compiled from various sources that combine to produce a body of knowledge about every facet of someone’s favorite band. I don’t think it’s anywhere close to that with comedy.

I’ve always read up on what’s going on with the P-Funk, and since there’s been such an enormous amount of members constantly going in and out, there’s usually some kind of a storyline going on somewhere. Plus, I’ve seen them live so many times I feel like I’m part of the band myself. Everyone has their favorites in every field, and in music this is mine.

It was especially sad to hear of the passing earlier this week of one of the band’s iconic members who has been highly visible since 1972 named Garry ‘Star Child’ Shider. He is known for appearing on stage dressed only in a diaper, but he was also the music director of the band, and co-wrote some of their biggest hits including ‘Atomic Dog’ and others.

Casual fans knew him only as ‘the diaper guy’, but he was a huge part of the live shows and had a big part in the history of it all. George Clinton is so charismatic that he tends to take most of the attention, but the whole group is loaded with talent. I’ve seen them when they’re ‘on’, and there’s nothing like it. I’m sorry Garry will be gone, and he was only 56.

I did a show tonight in Champaign, IL at a sports bar that has a really nice upstairs stage facility. This was their first night, but nobody planned on a game seven of the NBA Finals when they decided to do comedy a few months ago. That, on top of it being summer drew a crowd of maybe 25 in a room that seats 250. Not only that, they all sat in the back rows.

Is this what comedy is coming down to? I sure hope not. I don’t want to see anyone lose money, but I’m sure they did tonight – at least with our show. The downstairs was full for the game, but that’s not the answer. The trick is to get people in the door to make comedy pay for itself and turn a profit. Starting in the summer probably doesn’t help either. It’s an uphill climb in the north. People want to be outside in the warm weather. I know I do too.