Posts Tagged ‘Gene Hackman’

Sarge’s Tap

May 5, 2013

Thursday May 2nd, 2013 – Danville, IL

   Danville, IL happens to be the home town of show business brothers Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, actors Gene Hackman and Donald O’Connor, NFL football player Zeke Bratkowski and baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount. That’s quite an impressive lineup for a town of about 33,000 people.

   I had only passed through here to gas up and pee once or twice in all my travels, and never had I performed here until tonight when I worked a delightful joint called “Sarge’s Tap”. It ended up being a super positive experience, and I’m glad I came. Shows like this make it all worthwhile.

   This was a gig booked by fellow comedian Steve Sabo out of Toledo, OH. I’ve worked for him several times before, and quite frankly the shows can go either way. Sometimes they’re great like tonight, but other times they can degenerate into bloody verbal combat with boozed up goobers.

   I don’t blame Steve for that. He books mostly bar gigs to make some extra cabbage, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He busts his ass making posters for his gigs and he brings entertainment to places that normally wouldn’t have any. He works most of the gigs himself at first to get them going, then sends other comics through and takes a commission. That’s a smart business model.

   Anyone who accepts a booking from Steve knows – or at least they should – that anything may happen on a given night without logical reason, and one must prepare to expect the unexpected at all times. I remember working for him one night in Michigan when a ghastly she beast wouldn’t stop taking her t-shirt off and proudly flashing herself alternately between the audience and me.

   Normally I would greatly enjoy large breasts being jiggled my way, but this was the exception. They were large in and of themselves, but in comparison to her mammoth hind quarters they lost any and all sex appeal and just looked freakish. They got everyone’s attention the first time they came out, but by the time we’d all seen them a dozen times even the freak factor had worn off.

   That was my first experience working for Steve, and I must say it made me think twice about a return engagement but I never blamed him personally. He books bar gigs and that kind of stuff is par for the course. Some comedians spend their lives doing those kinds of gigs, but I’m not a fan. I did them in my early years to gain experience, and that I got. Now I do them just for the money.

   I happen to need money right now, so here I am. I’m glad to get this booking, as it fits perfectly with another I have tomorrow in Marion, OH for another comedian named Jeremy Danley. Steve and Jeremy are very similar in that they book quite a few rooms on their own, and good for them for doing it. They’re both honest guys hustling a buck. That’s what built the America we knew.

   Tonight’s show was an absolute sledgehammer. The opening act was a guy named Chris Smith out of the St. Louis area, and he’s been out there for years just like me. He’s a wonderful feature, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Usually, feature acts try to blow headliners off the stage so they can get booked back as a headliner and get paid more money. I understand the reasoning.

   Chris is a funny act, but his style is very easy to follow. He does a super job, and we’ve worked together before. He earns every penny of his pay, and I’d tour with him anytime. He’s a total pro, and the crowd loved him tonight. They loved me too, and the whole time I was on I was grateful to get work this week. The owner Wanda is very nice and said she wants me back. I hope I don’t need the money as badly then, but this is a place I would do again. Let’s see how tomorrow goes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

My Film Debut

April 9, 2010

Wednesday April 7th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

No limousine. No tuxedo. No trophy babe hanging from my arm. Nevertheless, it was a memorable experience to attend my first movie premiere in which I had a part. There was a nice crowd on hand at The Brat Stop, even though it wasn’t sold out. The weather was a problem, as it was rainy and cold, and it was a weeknight too. Still, it was an adventure.

Mark Gumbinger is a good guy and worked very hard putting this whole event together. I know how difficult it is to get people in a room for anything, so it was a rousing success just based on that alone. There were a couple hundred people there, and that took effort to get each one of them. Many were there to see the star, Lou Rugani. This was his vehicle.

The program consisted of me opening the show with thirty minutes of standup comedy, then Dr. Destruction’s band The Dead Leathers played for thirty minutes, then it was time for the actual screening of “Dead Air”. That’s a lot of entertainment for a $7 admission.

It was funny to see the mix of people in one place. Dr. Destruction had a part in the film so he brought his audience, many of them punk rock fans with Mohawks, tattoos, pierced parts that don’t normally get pierced and ripped clothing. Lou Rugani’s fans listen to him on WLIP and are mostly over 50. The looks on their faces at the punk fans were priceless.

Mark hosted the evening and brought me up to do my opening set. There was band gear all over the stage but I worked around it and did my time. They started out a little uptight, but I got them rolling after a while. I kept it clean because that was the right thing to do in a situation like that. I don’t get filthy anyway, but for this event cleaner was appropriate.

After me the band went on and the fans that were there enjoyed them, as did I. Dr. D is a true artist, and even though I’m not a huge punk fan, I thought they were entertaining as hell and a lot of fun. Not all of the older people thought that and many got up and walked around in back trying to escape the loud noise. It was a funny scene, and I soaked it all in.

Then it was time for the movie. Mark brought us up one by one and interviewed us for a minute or two, then he told a couple of stories about what went on behind the scenes that added some depth of insight to the experience. It was exciting to be a part of it all. I sat in the back of the room so I could enjoy not only the movie but the reaction of the audience.

Lou was absolutely amazing. He’s a major talent and it was fun watching him play such a lout of a character when in real life he’s such a great guy. He has a presence that attracts attention much like a Gene Hackman or Morgan Freeman and I thought he jumped off the screen with believability. The other actors did a great job too. The crowd enjoyed it too.

As for my part, I’ve always hated watching or listening to myself. I’m my own harshest critic but everyone said they liked it so whether or not they did doesn’t matter. I wasn’t in it for anything else but fun, and there was plenty of that to go around. Now I can say I was in a movie with a real live speaking part, not just an extra with that hussy Sandra Bullock.