Posts Tagged ‘Gene Perret’

Quality Content

June 4, 2013

Sunday June 2nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It never hurts to pound positive principles into one’s head, even if they have been heard before. I want to do all I can to turn the tables and get myself out of this current funk, so I buried myself in quality content all day long. There’s nothing like learning from the best in a particular field.

   First, I listened to a recording of Woody Allen talking about comedy and comedy writing. It’s part of the extensive research done by author Larry Wilde for his classic book ‘Great Comedians Talk About Comedy’.  He recorded interviews with great comedians of the past and it’s been one of my favorite books for years. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in standup comedy.

   There’s a website called that sells the interviews Larry did with comedy icons like George Carlin, Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld and many others including Woody Allen. This was the precursor to the overdose of podcasts we have today. Marc Maron has the one everybody seems to be familiar with, and he gets the best guests of this generation like Larry did years ago.

   I can’t think of anyone bigger in the comedy world than Woody Allen. He is THE most prolific comedy artist of the 20th Century if not all time. His work ethic is unmatched by anyone and he’s still doing it today. Whether anyone happens to be a fan of what he does or not, he cranks it out.

   I happen to be a huge fan of Woody’s, and the sheer amount of product alone he’s generated is awe inspiring. I churned out my two little CDs and a DVD, but those seem like Chihuahua turds compared to Woody’s body of work. He’s written four books of essays, has three comedy album projects that are now condensed onto a two CD set and has done a feature film a year since 1969.

   In a word – WOW! What other artist has come close to that kind of output? Steve Martin has a lot of films to his credit in addition to albums and books, but he’s not in the same solar system as Woody. Nobody is. Like him or not, he’s the standard setter for generations to come. His number of completed projects dwarfs everyone, and even though all of them weren’t big hits many were.

   I listened intently to Woody’s interview, and even though I’ve heard it at least a dozen times or more there is always something that jumps out at me that I hadn’t heard or need to hear again. He is truly the master’s master of the craft of comedy, and I enjoyed listening to him all over again.

   After that, I popped in a five cassette program from an author and mail order guru I’ve listened to for years named E. Joseph Cossman. He made millions marketing products that were given up on by others, and had a number of big hits including the potato gun, ant farm and several others.

   I’ve got a few tape programs from him, and they’re all great even though some of the info may be a bit dated. He died years ago, before the internet. Still, his acumen is rock solid now as it was when it came out and I wanted to refresh my memory and hear it again. It inspired me all over.

   Maybe now I’ll actually DO something rather than bitch about being in a slump. His principles of business are very solid, and he was a world class entrepreneur. What better way to learn about anything than to go to the top of any field and study the masters? E. Joseph Cossman is a master.

   Woody Allen is a master also. So is Larry Wilde. Gene Perret is another. I would love to get on a list like that, but I have a ways to go. Right now I’m hoping to be able pay my rent next month. I doubt if Woody Allen is worried about that. He’s thinking about his work – just as he should be.

Woody Allen - Comedy Master

Woody Allen – Comedy Master

E. Joseph Cossman - Mail Order Master

E. Joseph Cossman – Mail Order Master

A must read for any student of comedy.

A must read for any student of comedy – by Larry Wilde.


A Change Of Seasons

March 19, 2013

Friday March 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

The seasons of life are changing, and I feel it. On the calendar, spring is just around the corner. In life, it’s just the opposite. I’m starting to feel the chill of autumn, and I’d better prepare myself for the inevitable or it’s going to be a nasty winter. Like it or not, summer’s heat is over forever.

There are a lot of disappointments floating around in my head, but most of them I’ll never have a chance to make good on no matter how much I’d like to. Some were my fault, others weren’t. I wish I could go back in time and make corrections, but it’s too late now. Forward progress only.

“The past is the past” is easy to throw out there as a catch all to make everything new and right again, but that past also made waves of repercussion that reached into the future which now turns out to be the present. In other words, science was right. There are reactions for all of our actions.

Bad choices we make without thinking in our youth can come back to haunt us years later, just as the better ones can pay dividends over a lifetime. I see kids in their twenties with ugly tattoos all over and a dozen face piercings and am grateful I didn’t do that. My mistakes were subtler.

All I want to do now is finish strong and salvage a life that was worth all the trouble that went into living it. I’ve paid some serious dues in my day and then some. What good would any of all those hard lessons I may have learned be if I don’t use them for good to help others? Not a thing.

What’s becoming crystal clear as I get older is that life is all about giving back. My grandfather did some of his best work in life with me, and he was 52 when I showed up on the scene. He told me years later that raising me was a satisfying challenge and his efforts are still paying off today.

Coincidentally, he also finished his college education at age 52 and I have a picture of him that always inspires me to keep going. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about something he said or did when I was a kid that helps me get through a situation now. His influence still exists.

Gramps really made a lasting difference in my life, and that makes me want to turn around and be that same positive force in as many other lives as I can. C. Cardell Willis was also a powerful mentor figure comedy wise as was and is Gene Perret. These names may not be famous to many, but their work is golden and I won’t forget any of them ever. I want to pass their work to others.

That’s why teaching comedy classes means so much to me. I still love to perform, but there’s a different kind of satisfaction that comes from teaching and mentoring. Seeing that twinkle in the eye of someone who latches on to a concept and it works is a tremendous feeling I never get sick of. Hopefully my students will see me fondly years from now as I see Gramps, Cardell and Gene.

I wish I could go back and change some of the bad choices I made, but we’ve all got things we aren’t proud of in our past. Pressing on and maintaining forward momentum is the correct way to proceed, but that can be easier said than done. Life is a roller coaster ride, and when there’s a hill to climb it can get steep and that forward momentum stops. Life sure has a lot for us to deal with.Gramps Graduation Pic