Posts Tagged ‘gas prices’

A Trip To Chicago

July 4, 2013

Tuesday July 2nd, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   With gas prices through the roof, I have to really plan my trips of late. I was asked to perform a few minutes at a comedy showcase in downtown Chicago, and even though I really wasn’t up for it I said yes. I’ve been very lax at keeping an eye on the local Chicago scene, and that’s not good.

   There is a whole generation of comedians that I’ve never met, and to them I’m a total dinosaur. I do get to meet a few of them when I host the Rising Star Showcase nights at Zanies, but that’s a tip of the iceberg of all those that out there. There’s a sea of newbies swimming around blindly.

   Most of them think they already know everything and want no part of my generation, and they are making a big mistake. When I was coming up the ranks, I would live to pick the brains of any and all veteran comedians I could hoping to learn the craft of standup comedy. I respected them, and couldn’t wait to hear what they had to say. I don’t sense that hunger from most of this group.

   That being said, there are still some bright ones coming up and I should know who they are and what they’re doing. Comedy has trends just like music or any other form of entertainment, and it behooves anyone who claims to be in the business to know what those are. I should be familiar.

   There are all kinds of clubs and stages in Chicago that have opened in recent years that I’ve not even set foot in. Part of that is because I’ve been working, and part of it is lack of desire. The last thing I want to do on a night off is hang out at a comedy club – or worse yet an open mic – but to stay current that’s exactly what needs to be done. I’ve been bad at this, so tonight I ventured out.

   There were maybe a dozen people tops at the place I was at, and I won’t embarrass anybody by naming names. It’s not easy to get people in a room for anything, much less a free comedy show on a Tuesday night. The room itself was not bad, but it was empty. I feel bad for the people who produced the show. They’re comics starting out, and I have been in their shoes countless times.

   It cost me $16 to park my car, and that’s another hassle of big city life. I have a train that goes to the city from where I live, but that’s about a $15 round trip so I don’t really save much. It’s an expense either way, and without a payoff it’s not one I can afford to make regularly at this time.

   I was flattered to be asked, and I went with the attitude of trying to show support for the young comics coming up the ranks. I know how much it meant when I heard a kind word from someone who was working professionally as I was starting out, so I wanted to return the favor if I could.

   I’m not sure if it was productive or not. I was out the $16 to park not to mention the gas I used, and I ended up doing about ten minutes to a dozen people who stared at me like I was a narc. I’m all for supporting the cause, but this felt like a waste of time and money. Still, I made the effort.

    I did get to hang out with my radio friend Byrd who I hadn’t seen in a while. We were at ‘The Loop’ together in 2004, and he’s now at ‘The Drive’. The guy is a big time talent and has a voice people dream of, but he also works his ass off and I respect him greatly. He doesn’t phone it in.

   The guy eats, sleeps and breathes radio, and that’s what it takes these days to stay in it. There’s a big change in that whole business, and I don’t love it that much quite frankly. I was a comedian on the radio more than a ‘radio guy’, and there’s a difference. Byrd is a radio guy, and that’s not an insult. We had a delicious meal and talked about radio, and that’s what made my trip worth it.

Close To Home

May 26, 2013

Friday May 24th, 2013 – Gurnee, IL

   In the best of all worlds, I’d be able to live in a place I’m comfortable but still perform enough to keep my chops and make a decent living. That’s a much more difficult challenge than it might sound, but I’ve been trying to arrange it for the past few years. In theory, it should be attainable.

   In reality, there are still some glitches that need to be worked out. Tonight was a good example as I did a show at the Heather Ridge Golf Course in Gurnee, IL. I am a member of a group called “Visit Lake County” which used to be called the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

   Heather Ridge is a member too, and there’s a really good guy named Matt Nordigan who came to me and asked if I’d be interested in trying a comedy show in their clubhouse facility. They’ve got a cozy little room that seats about 85 people, and again in theory it would be a decent room.

   I booked a show for him probably a year or two ago that I wasn’t able to be on because I must have been on the road or something. Maybe I was on a cruise ship, who knows? It all gets lost in a big blur after a while, but that show went well enough to have him ask me to book another one.

   It was supposed to be last Friday, but I backed out because of the request by Jim Wiggins to do the shows that never happened in Minnesota. My wallet still hurts from that disaster, but Matt is flexible and agreed to delay it a week. It was nice of him to do that, but attendance was very thin.

   I’d guess there were 35 people tops, but every one of them had a great time. I closed the show, but I brought Kay Cammon to open along with Dan Morris and Mark Fenske. They all did really well, and for a sparse turnout it was a fun experience. Still, I feel bad when a venue loses money.

   I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know Matt was disappointed. I hope he was at least able to come close to breaking even, but I seriously doubt it. I didn’t get paid a ton, and I had to shell out for Kay, Dan and Mark out of that budget. Basically, I got some gas money to hang out with friends. As fun as it was – and it was – this is not what I need to be doing this late in the game.

   I really like Matt, and he really likes comedy. There are probably 2000 residents in the Heather Ridge community, and he pumped the show in their monthly newsletter which not many of them read obviously. Again, in theory the place should have been standing room only – but it was not.

   In reality, filling a room with people for any reason is flat out DIFFICULT. It might not appear to be that tough to get 100 people to show up for something, but I encourage anyone to try it and tell me how it goes. People today have too much going on and are getting deluged with messages on Facebook to the point where everything blends together and nobody can keep it sorted out.

   The redeeming factor is that it was close to home. Heather Ridge is only 15 miles from where I live, and there’s no traffic. I don’t even have to get on any freeways, which is rare. I’d love more shows this close to home, and I believe they’re there. There’s no ‘circuit’ per se, and it’ll require some hustling on my part and the part of people like Matt who are willing to try something new.

   Is this the way to build a career? No, it really isn’t. It’s a stop gap measure to pay some bills for a while as I continue to develop shows like ‘Schlitz Happened!’ and work on getting a few more corporate bookings. It saves me those hellaciously long drives I’ve been making most of my life, and now that gas is approaching $4.50 a gallon it’s allowing me to survive when others are not.