Posts Tagged ‘Gary Pansch’

The Worst Movie Ever

July 15, 2013

Sunday July 14th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI

   It’s over. I thought so before, but now I’m convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt. The sense of humor of the American mass public has degenerated so low that I have officially lost hope for future generations. In the war between creativity and stupidity, stupidity has emerged victorious.   

   What comedians find funny has long been a mismatch with the public’s taste, but now it’s out of control. If I ever thought I had a chance at being a big star with the masses, those thoughts are now officially dead after seeing the movie “This Is The End” today. I’m still not out of shock as to how horrific it was on every level, and if I could sue someone to get my time back I would.

   Is this what people find funny today? I could barely sit through one predictable and uncreative “joke” after the next, and after about ten minutes I thought the title should have been changed to “WILL It End?” There was absolutely nothing redeeming whatsoever about this two hour turd.

   I’m not a major movie goer like many of my comic and non comic friends, but I’d have to say this was THE worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life, bar none. Period. That says quite a bit, as I’ve seen some bad ones – mostly comedies. Comedy is HARD, so when will Hollywood or anywhere else admit it and show respect? Nothing proves it more than watching poor work.

   This was as bad as it gets, and I had a hard time sitting through it. The only reason I stayed was that my friend Gary Pansch had free passes, and invited me to go with him. Gary is a very funny comedian and funny person in general – or so I’d thought. He ended up really liking the movie.

   I thought he was kidding at first, but he pointed out scenes and lines he liked and that made me feel like I was getting punked by the universe. I failed to see one funny thing about this chunk of cinematic ca-ca, and it really left a sour taste in my mouth. If this is now “comedy”, I’m finished.

   It was actually a lot like the open mic I attended last Friday. It was rambling, filthy and I could see no recognizable talent anywhere. Again, I am no prude but being dirty just for the shock of it doesn’t work more than once. IF that’s the way a performer chooses to work, there needs to be a structure that builds up to the shock. Coming out of the box with it shows a total incompetence.

   There must have been at least a thousand ‘F-bombs’ dropped in this movie – none of them with any purpose. That word can have impact if used correctly, and I’m not against it in the right kind of scenario. I’ve used it myself to great success on occasion, but the word itself is a loaded pistol.

   Pointing it aimlessly and recklessly will only lead to trouble, and also take away any impact the word could and should have. No words are offensive to me personally, but disrespecting the craft of comedy like that is something I won’t tolerate. Using strong language should be a well earned privilege. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true. One needs to know how to use any comedic tool.

   What shocked me was that I’d read positive reviews about this movie, and was hoping to have a few laughs and relax for a while. The premise of the end of the world could be intriguing, on a comedic level, but they did absolutely nothing with it – even with their budget of $90 million.

   Comedy movies don’t need special effects or a big budget. They need JOKES, and Hollywood doesn’t seem to get that. This was embarrassing, and if that’s what comedy has become I am not interested in any part of it. But they’re all rich and I’m struggling to pay my rent, so who’s right?


Mothership Maintenance

March 24, 2010

Tuesday March 23rd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Sometimes I look at all the projects I have going on and I see a whole lot of similarities between that and the process of raising children. Some of them share the same things, but most are very different from each other. I totally love each in their own way, but I have to treat them all as individuals and judge each situation that comes up on it’s own merits.

Today the Mothership Connection radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI was what won out for my attention. I’ve stuck with that project over two years now, and that’s the longest I’ve ever lasted on any show I’ve been involved with on the air. I really love it and the little voice inside my head tells me it’s time to devote more time and energy to it.

Since my own resources are stretched pretty thin, I need to delegate tasks to the regulars who keep showing up each week. We’ve got a solid core of quality people and if I put the word out that I need help, I know they’ll all rise to the occasion and make it happen. I feel a very positive vibe from everyone involved, but the show needs to have a total overhaul.

Joey O’Shey has been a very welcome addition, mainly because he’s been on a big time morning show in Boston for years. He understands the concepts of preparation and pacing and his energy on air fits in perfectly with the others in the studio. Diane Ebert has been a radio pro for years and she handles the phones and also takes care of all the social media.

Gary Pansch has really stepped up to the plate. He’s always been very quiet off the mic, but when that red light comes on he’s right there. His weekly ‘Mothership Hall Of Fame’ feature showcases a weekly kook from either past or present and he’s made it his own.

There are several others who drift in and out when they can like Dr. Destruction who’s a TV horror host of a show called “The Crimson Theatre”. He’s a local icon and is a true artist in every sense of the word. I always love having him in, and he shows up whenever it fits his schedule. No pressure either way, and it works. That’s how the whole show is.

Grey Dolan and Shelley Maas Hernandez are former comedy students and they show up when they can too, as do several of my co-hosts like Scott Markus and Lara Shaffer. They are both off doing other projects, but when they’re in town they know they can show up at the studio and I’ll put them on the air. It’s a nice relaxed feeling that’s very rare in radio.

George Clinton created his own situation in the ‘70s with Parliament/Funkadelic. That’s who did the album ‘Mothership Connection’, which is where I got the name for the show and use it as a tribute. George oversaw everyone and had the vision but the musicians put the work in to make it pop. Together they created a whole better than the sum of the parts.

That’s the goal here too and I don’t think it’s that far away. The on air part sounds great, but things like a total website update and coordination of guests and weekly promos and a mailing list and podcast all need to be addressed and put in place. Like a child, this is part of growing up. The Mothership Connection is reaching puberty. It’s a whole new galaxy.

Blatz Off!

March 15, 2010

<Saturday March 13th, 2010 – Saukville, WI

It looks like Schlitz really is starting to happen! I didn’t know exactly what to expect on several levels concerning the initial run through of my one man show about growing up in Milwaukee called “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst”, but the overwhelmingly positive response it got gives me extremely high hopes. This is a winner!

It’s not a finished product yet by a long shot, but what’s there is very useable. I do know how to entertain an audience, and my lifetime of experience gives me a huge advantage of being able to go back into the archives and bring out polished standup bits which allows a freedom to experiment few others have. I can take chances because I have a backup plan.

The show was at the Railroad Station in Saukville, WI which wouldn’t have been in the top 50 places I would have chosen to get this started. Richard Halasz had booked a couple of previous shows there with Will Durst, so that’s a thumbs up for me. I like Richard and a reputable comedian like Durst wouldn’t work a place twice if there was anything shady.

I knew I needed to work the show through a few times, so where better than here to get a feel for it? The owners were all very nice people and we drew 146 people which is very respectable for a place that doesn’t do comedy on a regular basis. The club had posters up for a couple of months, but it was Richard that really dug in and didn’t let up on promo.

He mailed flyers and sent email blasts and got me a radio interview in Fond Du Lac and I really give him credit for doing a thorough job in promoting this along with the venue. It isn’t often a comedian does this good a job of behind the scenes detail work but he nailed it and totally followed through. Everyone was happy with the results and it was a big hit.

I brought my friend Russ Martin along, who was kind enough to film the show with his movie quality video camera, even though I don’t need anything that elaborate right now. I just wanted to get it on tape in case I ad libbed something that could be used in the future.

Gary Pansch also came out to support and he lit it up for a few minutes to get the crowd in a good mood. I went up and did an hour and five minutes, trying to squeeze in as many local stories and references as I could. I did some of my regular standup but it still had the local flavor to it. I added in a few things exclusively for this show and they went over too.

Was I thrilled with the show? No, not at all. Was the audience? Absolutely. They loved it, and that was my main concern. I wanted to feel it out a little first since I never worked there before, and didn’t have too much scripted. I wasn’t sure what kind of audience they drew, so trying to force a theater show wasn’t smart. This was more of a bar audience.

The sound system was popping and the stage lights were pretty bad, but other than that it wasn’t horrible at all. The physical layout of the space was nice, even though smoking is still allowed in Wisconsin bars. That was a killer, and my eyes were burning within the first ten minutes. This was a comedy show in a night club, NOT a one man theater show.

Still, the audience was both receptive and very polite. They weren’t pissy drunk and had the courtesy to sit and listen to the show. There were waitresses, but they were also polite and didn’t talk loud while taking orders or distract form the show at all. I was impressed.

I know how to read an audience, and could tell that I had a chance to do well right from the get go. I wanted to get to a lot more subtle and experimental material, but tonight was not the time to try it out. There will be other times, and I’m glad I didn’t force anything.

A few people showed up I hadn’t seen in thirty years or more. Robert Deglau and I went to the Jackie Robinson alternative open classroom school in sixth grade. We were both in the same homeroom and had an interest in radio. We reconnected by email a couple years ago but hadn’t gotten together before tonight. It was great to see him after all these years.

Jeff Phelps and I went to high school together at Messmer High School. He worked for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as a photographer for twenty-two years before losing his job last year in a purge that took a lot of other people with him. He is a real pro and takes amazing pictures, and I felt bad he lost his gig. Times are tough for people in many fields.

Jeff and I recalled the story of when Hank Aaron came to Messmer to speak. We loved sports and wanted to get an autograph so we skipped out of class and drove to a sporting goods store and each bought a baseball to get signed. We waited for Hank’s limo to pull up and as soon as we saw it we sprinted out the side door with our fresh white baseballs.

Nobody in the entourage expected us including Hank Aaron, and we politely asked him to sign our baseballs. There wasn’t much he could do but grab the pen and sign. We both had pens with us, and we had our whole plan of attack worked out way before we did it.

After Hank signed for us, someone in his entourage firmly said “Ok, that’s IT. No more autographs.” Jeff and I smiled at each other and went back into school with our prize. We were the envy of the whole school, and we got to meet Hank Aaron before anyone else at school, including the principal. It was the only time I ever skipped out, but it was worth it.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life was selling that ball many years later when I really needed money. Boy, was I stupid. I think I may have gotten $60. Maybe $75 tops. I remember crying when I sold that ball, but at the time I really needed that cash. It’s a huge mistake, but too late to change it. Jeff kept his ball, and I’m glad. I’d love to see it.

This is the end of my fourth solid year of keeping my little diary. It may not be good or even interesting, but at least I’ve been able to keep it consistent. I’ve had experiences all over the board, and hopefully I’ve been able to entertain or inspire at least somebody.

I’m still a dented can, and always will be. I’m improving in many areas, but I still have many more that need a lot of work. Will any of this live on after I’m dead? Who cares? It doesn’t affect me at all. I’ll be dead. Right now, I’m not and I hope whoever reads this at any time gets a laugh or two, or maybe some inspiration. Another year over. What’s next?

Full Moon Shining

March 1, 2010

Sunday February 28th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

There was a full moon tonight, but nobody had to tell me. I could feel the wacky vibe as I prepared for The Mothership Connection radio show on AM 1050 WLIP. There was just something in the air, and as the rest of the cast congregated I could see that they felt it too.

We had an extra large cast tonight, which eventually turned out to be a reunion show of sorts. For whatever reason, anyone and everyone who has been associated with the show in the last two years decided to either call in or stop by the studio to hang out on the air.

I never mind that, and by the end of the night it was like the ‘We Are The World’ studio recording crew. Every microphone had two or three people around it and we took turns on whatever topic we were discussing. I was the orchestra leader, and it ended up working.

On the air we were all over the place, but not necessarily in a bad way. At least all of us felt it, and when we realized it was going to be ‘one of those nights’ we all ran with it and so did our callers. We came together as a group and it was one of the most consistent and entertaining shows we’ve done in a long time. We were the entertainment, not the topics.

This whole thing is a side project I’m really loving the more I do it. Everyone fits in the mix, and they all seem to show up at the right time. Our newest member is Joey Oshey, a comic who used to do radio in Boston for many years, and he’s been a fantastic addition.

He’s got that east coast fast talking hardness, even though he’s originally from Chicago and it gives us a different flavor. Plus, he’s been really good at getting guests from places I wouldn’t look and it’s all contributed nicely to the collective. I’m glad he showed up, as he’s adding new life to the show as a whole. He’s not the only one though, everyone does.

Diane Ebert is a radio veteran and loves hanging out with us. She does the recap of the show for our myspace and Facebook pages and adds to the show on the air. I absolutely wanted a female voice in the mix, and before Diane there was Lara Shaffer who had it on a whole different level. She wasn’t a radio person, but she stepped in and made it work.

Lara has been out doing other things lately, but tonight she happened to be in town and happened to be listening, so she stopped in and joined us as did our friend Dr. Destruction from his horror movie TV show “The Crimson Theatre”. The Doc is a great guy and has a huge local following, and when he’s on his fans come with him. He added to it as well.

My comedian friend Gary Pansch always brings something interesting to the table, and he’s been a regular for a quite a while now. Another radio friend Jim Moran is now doing traffic at WBBM in Chicago, but he stopped in and joined us as well. It was a full house.

The whole night was fun in a weird way and weird in a fun way. Everybody was able to get along, and there were some hilarious moments throughout the show. George Clinton’s  album “Mothership Connection” is where I got our show title, and tonight I felt like him.