Posts Tagged ‘German Fest’

Thank You Randy Kosanke

September 10, 2013

Monday September 9th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

My long time good friend Randy Kosanke in Milwaukee sent out this mass email yesterday:

To all my friends,

I guess I have some bad news. They’ve taken me off chemo as it’s not working anymore. The cancer is spreading too fast. The doctor says I have three to six weeks left. I guess this is kind of shocking news, but please don’t be too upset.

I have been given a great life that I wouldn’t trade with anyone. I have the best family anyone could want, from probably the most perfect wife you could want to two of the greatest kids any man ever had and their wonderful spouses, and now the perfect grandson.

I also have the best friends any man could want who have given me the best times and laughs imaginable. I haven’t missed out on anything.

I truly love all of you and thank God for all our times together. Please don’t worry or mourn for me as I look forward to the next adventure. Please help out Jan as she’s under a lot of stress.

There will be no funeral as I am to be cremated and have my ashes thrown on Racquel Welch’s breasts – which probably sag too much and will spill on the floor. I guess they will dump them in my asshole neighbor’s yard.

It would be impossible to tell each and every one of you what you’ve meant to me, but know that I love you all deeply. Please don’t e-mail or call as I am too tired to respond.

Thank you all and goodbye.

Randy

It stopped me in my tracks, especially since I didn’t even know he was sick. I was stunned to get it, and couldn’t help thinking about it all day. Once again, the message is clear. Life is short.

I’ve known Randy going on thirty years. A rabid fan of comedy and long time active supporter of the local scene in Milwaukee, he was a frequent audience member that loved to hang out with the comedians afterward. He was especially supportive of beginners, and a longtime fan of mine.

One night he told me out of the blue that out of all the Milwaukee comedians of that time, there were only three that he thought had legitimate talent – Chris Barnes, Will Durst and me. Will had already moved to San Francisco years before, but is still a native of Milwaukee and started there. Randy was an authority on the local scene, and closely monitored every act that went on stage.

I agree wholeheartedly on his assessment of Chris and Will. To include me up there with them is as flattering as it gets, and he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean it. He and his wife attended my “Schlitz Happened!” show last April, but he didn’t let on that he was sick. I will miss him dearly.

I’ve got story after story of things he did over the years that really meant a lot. Just a few years ago, I was booked to be the first comedian ever at Milwaukee’s German Fest. Throughout much if not all of recorded history, Germans haven’t traditionally been known for frivolity and mirth.

They surely know how to bake a mean strudel and can dance the polka with anyone, but when it comes down to chuckles and yucks they’re severely lacking. Maybe twenty total showed up to see me perform on an outdoor stage that was built to seat several thousand, and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I gutted it out, and Randy and Jan were there to support

Afterward we drowned my sorrows in a large plate of sausage, and Randy cheered me up when I really needed a lift. He was such a fan of comedy that he wouldn’t let me get down about it. He kept telling me that I did a great job under the circumstances, and that I was blazing a new trail.

The single story that sums up Randy by far the most took place in 1992 when I had purchased a professional wrestling organization for which I had served as ring announcer. I bought a ring and a truck to haul it and put on shows around Southeastern Wisconsin. A unique adventure it was.

There were all kinds of painful aspects of that endeavor, but the hardest was taking proper care of the actual ring. It was heavy and cumbersome, and a total pain in the ass to deal with. I hadn’t considered it when I bought the business, and it turned out to be one of the main reasons I sold it.

The ring was stored at one of the wrestler’s houses who happened to live out in the sticks. He’d leave it set up in the summer, so if guys wanted to go and work out moves they could. It became a nightmare when it rained, and I’d have to make sure it was taken down and stored in the truck.

One day it was scheduled to rain, and I couldn’t get any of the wrestlers to help me move that damn ring. They all had piss poor excuses, but the rain was coming and I needed to take it down or the canvas would get soaked and the plywood underneath would warp. I was in a tight spot.

I had an office then, and Randy happened to wander in to say hello since he lived not far away and often would drop in. I told him of my situation, and without blinking he said he’d be glad to help and that’s exactly what he did. That ring was a bastard to move, but he helped me do it with not one word of complaining. I offered to pay him or buy him dinner, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

THAT is a true friend, and I never forgot him for that. When I was backed into a corner he did not hesitate to help and never asked for a thing. I must have thanked him hundreds of times over the years, and we’d laugh about it every time I brought it up. He’d ask if he could be a wrestler.

All of these memories came flooding back today, and there wasn’t one bad one in the bunch. I don’t have any good ones of my father, but I have a ton of Randy. I know his email instructed us not to write back, but I never listened to anyone until now and I ignored it and wrote anyway.

I thanked him for everything, and told him he was a true winner in life – and he is. He has love from a great family and that’s what I have always wanted. All the fame in the world won’t match what he has, and he realizes it too. Randy Kosanke will hold a special place in my heart forever.

The Luck Of The Germans

July 23, 2010

Thursday July 22nd, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

One year ago today, I made my national television debut on “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” on CBS. Tonight I made my featured festival debut in my hometown of Milwaukee at German Fest in front of three people, and then it rained so hard the festival closed and the grounds were evacuated. This was a downpour of epic biblical proportions.

All I could do to retaliate was laugh, and the crescendo came when the ominous tornado sirens started going off. At least I had the only covered stage at the festival, and it came in quite handy tonight. Here I stood in my home town in front of an empty seating area made for at least a couple thousand people, in the rain, talking over a tornado siren to just three.

“Hello, Craig? Yeah, it’s Dobie. Dobie MAXWELL. Mr. Lucky, you know. Yeah, I did your show exactly one year ago today and I was wondering…uh, do you think there might be any chance of getting back on soon? I’ve got no shortage of great stories to tell you.”

Actually, I found Craig Ferguson to be a genuinely nice person. I think he’s very funny, and every interview I’ve heard or read makes him come off like a down to earth good guy in every way. That’s fine for him, now I need to get some of that for me too. A good start would be to get an actual interview somewhere. I haven’t had one of those in a long time.

I’m not looking for minute details to nitpick about, or bellyache about my poor, woe is me life. Not at all. Actually, things are going pretty well right now. This last year has not been bad at all. I’ve worked constantly, doing interesting things I really enjoy. I’ve gotten many accolades for not only my appearance on The Late Late Show, but others as well.

I had a nice ‘mini run’ by doing Byron Allen’s “Comics.TV” show after the producer of it saw me on The Late Late Show. Then I got to do “The Daily Buzz” with my old buddy Mitch English who I knew from Salt Lake City. All in all, this has been a land mark year. I think it’s important to stress when good things happen, not just complain about the bad.

I just wish it would have happened fifteen or twenty years ago so I could build on it the right way. It was a nice start for sure, but unless I find a way to keep it growing, this may well be all I’ll ever do in the big scheme of life. When the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1997, their GM Ron Wolf called it ’a fart in the wind’, as that’s the only title they won.

Everyone picked them to do much greater things and have a dynasty but the one trophy is all they could manage. They lost the next year’s Super Bowl and that was it. They still had good teams for a while, but eventually it all played out and then to make it all uglier, Brett Favre had to turn heel and start up his whiny little diva act. And that’s where it sits.

Was my one little five minute appearance on national TV all I’m ever going to do? I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity, but I know I’ve got a lot more in me than that – or at least I think I do. I’m sure those Green Bay Packers including Brett Favre thought they had more in them too, but it didn’t happen. Disappointment has a way of dousing fires.

That fact hit me hard today as I stood on that big stage staring at the empty seating area of a festival that’s never had a comedian before. I’m not angry at anyone, in fact quite the contrary. My grade school classmate Robert Deglau went out of his way to suggest me to the board of directors of German Fest, and everyone there couldn’t have been any nicer.

I’m very grateful for all that, and Robert felt horrible there weren’t people at the stage at the time I was supposed to go on. He introduced me, and had to go take care of other stuff since he’s in a position of power at the festival. No worries from my end, and that’s never been the issue. The problem is me. I should be working more on getting back on the tube.

Have I sent out any inquiries? NO. Have I put together a promo package to send out to a list of the top agents in Hollywood? Double no. Well, who do I have to blame but myself for all of that? Nobody else but me. I can’t expect things to just fall into place by accident without planning. I’M the one who controls it, and for whatever reason I can’t get it done.

I guess I could beat myself up forever about it, or just relax and take a step back to see a bigger picture view. Where am I now? Where am I headed? Where do I want to go? That will be what makes the dreams come true, not pissing and moaning about what all failed.

I feel bad for German Fest, as it rained so hard they lost the entire day’s revenue. I have another scheduled appearance on Saturday at noon, but that’s not going to be any kind of career maker either. I’ll go there and have fun with whomever shows up, but what I really need to be doing is keep building on that foundation of the TV appearance. I can do more.

The cruise ship opportunity was fun too, but that’s not the big time either unfortunately. It’s not bad, and I hope I get more, but the real essence of what I want to do is create good solid original standup comedy, and present it to an appreciative audience who pays for it.

That sentence felt good to write, because it’s probably the first time I shaped it into real words, at least recently. I’m getting in there to the core, and that’s where the good stuff is. If I really want to be a success, I’ll get in there and bring my very best up to the surface so I can use up whatever talent and ability there is in there. I don’t want to leave any unused.

George Clinton is a perfect example of someone like that. I think I’m such a huge fan of his because his body of work is amazing. He kept cranking out albums under record deals for the groups Parliament, Funkadelic and a lot more. When that ran out, he kept the flow going under his own name. And he kept touring and still does even now. That’s a career.

I’m sure George has regrets and has made mistakes, but he didn’t quit. He’s a legend in the business, and those who know him give him his due. Today is also his birthday and he is still an inspiration to me to this day. He’s the creative lightning rod for a crew of talent.

I’m not going to let one rain storm stop me from building what I want. I want to have an opportunity to get back on TV and share my comedy with as many people as I can. I have a limited time in my prime, and I’m still in it – for now. Time to get serious about funny.

Sixth Grade Reunion

May 8, 2010

Thursday May 6th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back to Milwaukee two days in a row. It’s almost like I’m living there again. That’s not my goal, but I’d never say never. If I’m turning a good buck doing something that I would need to be there for, I’d do it. Right now I have the best of both worlds living where I am.

Tonight I had an appointment to go in front of the board of directors of German Fest for the possibility of being booked this year. Milwaukee is the City of Festivals and I happen to be at least part German, so I took the chance and went to the meeting. It was worth it.

The main reason it was worth it is I got to reunite with Robert Deglau, a classmate from the sixth grade where we both attended the Jackie Robinson Alternative Open Classroom School. Both of us only attended that one year, and we were in the same home room class together. Jackie Robinson school still exists, but it’s not at the same location we attended.

That first year it was an experiment which intrigued my grandfather. Two students were picked from each grade school in town and formed into a junior high of grades 6-8. It was like an expansion draft in sports. They needed one boy and one girl. I took an aptitude test at the Silver Spring school and got chosen along with a nice girl named Angela Patrinos.

I think they were looking for creative types, as Angela was extremely artistic as I recall. Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes was chosen to go there too, and I still remember him carrying his guitar with him and wearing sandals. I didn’t know him well but we did cross paths a few times and never had any problems. It was an interesting mix of kids for sure.

Robert and I always got along, and I knew he really liked radio, as did I. We took a field trip to WZUU and met “Larry The Legend” who was a huge personality then. We got the chance to arrange the trip all ourselves and that was the good part of the Alternative Open Classroom format. They did encourage us to find something we liked and learn about it.

Robert and I went our separate ways in life, but both of us made radio part of our lives. He now hosts a show called “Continental Showcase” which has been on the air over 50 years. My grandma was a rabid listener, and if she knew I knew the host, she’d be proud.

I knew Robert was German, but that’s not rare in Milwaukee. I didn’t know that he was so involved in the German community in town. We hadn’t seen each other since the sixth grade, then he and his wife came out to see me do a show this past March in Saukville.

Robert is a flat out technical genius. He’s been an engineer at various Milwaukee radio stations and is a broadcast lifer. He has a studio in his house that’s better than most of the stations I’ve ever worked for, and said he’d help out with any project ideas I might have.

The German Fest people were all very friendly, and I didn’t have to audition or anything like that. Robert gave them a copy of my CD and they took a vote and now I’m in for two slots this year. This would’ve made my grandma very proud. I won’t let anybody down.