Posts Tagged ‘Gary Kern’

Paying It Forward

January 12, 2013

Friday January 11th, 2013 – Shakopee, MN

   I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude, but it’s not easy. That speeding ticket yesterday was a kick in the lug nuts, not to mention the wallet. I don’t know why money has to be such an issue in life but it absolutely is. Some find a way to master it, while others inherit more than they need.

The latter are usually the first to say “Don’t worry – it’ll all work out.” It’s easy not to have to worry when there’s a trust fund in place or a rich relative available to help bail one out of a cash pickle. I’d love to be able to count on someone when times get bleak, but I’m a one man band.

All I want is enough to not have to worry about stupid stuff like speeding tickets. Whatever the reason, it was my turn and I will have to pay up. I would guess I drive about five times more than the average driver, so it’s inevitable I’ll get more speeding tickets over the course of my lifetime.

Still, yesterday was not when I needed it. I’m trying to come out swinging this year and get my financial ship righted to get out of debt. I don’t expect any free rides and I’m willing to pay what I owe, but that one materialized out of nowhere and urinated my flickering candle of hope out.

Plus, it happened at the beginning of the trip to put a damper on the whole weekend. I tried not to think about it last night in Eau Claire and tonight in Shakopee, MN, but I couldn’t help it. I did this run for the money, and now not only won’t I be making any I have to pay out of my pocket.

It is what it is, and I’ll shut my mouth and keep slugging. I’m working with a young kid named Dan Ronan this weekend and he’s got big time written all over him. He’s 23, and has spectacular upside potential. I was able to bring him along on this run and if nothing else at least I can enjoy a chance to mentor someone who appreciates it. I’m unbelievably impressed with his raw ability.

Dan lives in the Chicago area, and we crossed paths a few years ago at the Zanies Rising Star Showcase. He was only 19 then, but I could see his talent immediately. He’s stayed with it and is starting to come up the ladder and it was my pleasure to help him by including him on this run.

He’s got a great work ethic, and he’s a student of the game just like I was at 23. I see a big part of myself in him, but I think he’ll take it a lot farther than I ever did. He’s got a great look and an unusual delivery and I see him all over TV in the not too distant future. This kid is a big leaguer.

Hopefully, I can plant some of the nurturing seeds in him that comedians like Gary Kern, Kyle Nape, Danny Storts and others planted in me when I was his age. Those guys showed me how to be a comedian both by their words and their actions. Now it’s my turn to pay some of it forward. I don’t need a run like this for anything but money, but Dan needs the stage time to get his chops.

He came through with flying colors last night and tonight. He was nervous beforehand for both shows, and perused his set list like it was the winning lottery numbers. I used to do all that, and it made me smile watching him do exactly what I did all those years ago. Having a chance to act as a mentor to a talented kid like Dan is a treat, and I’ll focus on that. He’s got a very bright future.

Touching With Teaching

February 17, 2010

Tuesday February 16th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I don’t know why I enjoy teaching so much, but I totally do. I hated school. I remember counting down the hours of almost every day, and the days of almost every year, hoping it would all be over. It wasn’t the learning I couldn’t stand, it was what and how I learned.

I wanted to dive in to what I wanted to know, and most of that wasn’t what was on their agenda. Algebra and geometry couldn’t have been any more painful, and biology had only one redeeming quality in that there happened to be all the best looking girls in that class.

Creative things are what I enjoyed, and there weren’t nearly enough of those to begin to satisfy my needs. I remember in seventh grade we had a science project assignment where we had several weeks to complete a presentation on a topic. For whatever reason I picked the human heart, and I really got into it. I wanted to make mine the best presentation ever.

The actual topic didn’t make any difference at all. I wanted to focus on the show part of it. I remember making up all kinds of colorful drawings to show and my uncle suggested I make an audio presentation complete with background music and call it ‘A Tour Of Your Heart’. That was all I needed to hear, and I was totally in. On presentation day, I let it rip.

I’m not sure if it was so much that the other kids enjoyed it, but I remember applause as I finished. It was completely different from what everyone else did, and it entertained the class. I didn’t have to say one word, I just stood there pointing to the graphs and pictures I had arranged, and my voiceover with music behind it sounded great, at least in memory.

Maybe if I heard it now, I’d be embarrassed by how excruciating it was, but at the time I blew everyone away with it. The teacher gave me an ‘A+++’ and I don’t think I ever got a grade like that for anything else I ever did. Isn’t that what they give butter? I don’t know.

The point is, I really loved doing those kinds of things, but put me in front of an algebra book and I was through. I didn’t care then and I don’t now. I’m sure somebody has a need for it, if only algebra teachers to torture future generations. As for me, I’m done with it.

What made me think of all this was that I received several emails today thanking me for the comedy classes and graduation show last night at Zanies. They were a fantastic group and I really enjoyed them because they got what I was telling them. Seeing the light go on in a student’s head is very satisfying and I really enjoy seeing them go up and get laughs.

I guess it’s a lot like a sports coach. I know everyone in my classes doesn’t have to like me personally, and I don’t really care if they do. I want them to LEARN something, and if they do that, the personal part will follow. Seeing the students’ growth is very satisfying.

The mentoring part is satisfying too. I know how much I revere the memories of all my comedy mentors from C. Cardell Willis to Gary Kern to Jimmy Miller, and hopefully I’ll be able to occupy that special place those guys have in my heart in a whole lot of others.