Posts Tagged ‘Improv Playhouse’

The Queen Of Connections

March 8, 2014

Friday March 7th, 2014 – Libertyville, IL

It’s amazing how connections work. Sometimes people come into our lives from the strangest of places, and end up staying a lot longer than expected. One of the reasons I have loved teaching my comedy classes so much is that it has attracted a steady stream of quality people into my life.

The number of people that I have kept in contact with after having them as students is well into the hundreds, and I value and cherish every last one of them. I don’t always see all of them all of the time, but there are always enough of them coming in and out of my life to keep me occupied.

I’ve been teaching since 1994, and if I had to single out one group that stands out from them all it’s a class I taught last summer at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. It was a class filled with ‘corporate types’, and they were a Toastmasters group from Lake County, IL. They were friendly enough people at the time, but I had no idea what an impact we would have on each other’s lives.

David Stuart is the owner of Improv Playhouse, and I approached him about teaching classes at his facility because I lived in the area and there was no standup comedy around anywhere since a Zanies location in Vernon Hills, IL had closed. He agreed, and we ended up doing a few classes.

Zanies is the big name in standup in the Chicago area, and I have been teaching there for years. No offense to David, but his facility is not that nor does he claim it to be. He specializes in acting and improv training, and he’s very good at it. My class was just an added bonus to his repertoire.

We’d held a few class sessions, but nothing earth shattering quite honestly. They were just kind of ok, but nothing special. When he told me a group of Toastmasters wanted to take the class as a group I didn’t have any idea what to expect. It was the summer, and any income was appreciated.

Little did I know that we would touch each other’s lives so deeply, and they ended up without a doubt THE best class I ever taught. Period. What made them so great was that they came from an entirely different place than most students that take the class. They were already friends because of their Toastmasters connection, and they were already used to speaking in front of an audience.

They asked me to help them punch up their speeches, and I told them I would do that but I also would not sugarcoat anything. They thought they wanted that, but when I started bringing heat it ended up scaring them. I worked those people harder than I’ve worked anyone, but I knew it was exactly what they needed. It was funny to hear them whine and moan, but they did what I said.

As the class went on, I ended up giving them several more sessions than they ended up paying for. It was my call, and I don’t regret it for a second. They were eager to learn, and I got a chance to practice teaching with people who were hungry and wanted to improve themselves. What else did I have going on in the summer? El-zilcho. The extra sessions we had were very productive.

Finally it came time for their ‘graduation’ show, and they packed the joint at Improv Playhouse for what turned out to be a purely magical evening. They all went up and lit it up in front of their friends, family and fellow Toastmasters, and it was an absolute blast for everyone. I felt like their mother hen, and couldn’t have been prouder of all of them. THAT is why I’ve taught for so long.

The leader of that Toastmasters group was Eric Feinendegen, and now Eric and I have teamed up and are working on corporate speaking angles. He’s helping me with my monthly newsletter, and I’ve been helping him with some speeches he’s been doing. He wants to set up bookings for both of us, and is very familiar with the corporate world. We’re helping each other and it’s a fit.

Another member of that class is Jean MacDonald. Jean prides herself on being one of the most connected people anywhere, and she should. She is up there with anyone I’ve ever seen at being on top of the contact game, and that’s exactly what success in any field is about. She excels at it.

Jean calls herself ‘The Queen of Connections’ and I don’t doubt her for one second. She knows EVERYBODY in Chicago – at least everybody that’s important. She makes it her business to be in contact with anyone that’s doing anything, and her days are spent nurturing her vast network.

Eric and I met up with her a few weeks ago, and she was full of ideas that were very helpful to both of us. She told us to start networking and come up with a newsletter, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. She talked about ‘warm calls’ to lead to business rather than cold calling, and talked about how to get into a field and own it. She also talked about getting multiple bookings at once.

She totally knows her stuff, and I shut my mouth and listened as she spewed nothing but useful information. Then to my surprise, she went on about how much the class meant to her and how it changed her life. I was very flattered to hear that, and I could tell she was sincere. She said it was a highlight of her life to perform at the graduation show, and she’ll always remember the feeling.

Again, that’s exactly what I’m shooting for and I couldn’t be happier to hear she had fun. That whole class was special, and the effort they all put in was remarkable. They got a lot out of it for sure, but they put a lot into it too. From my perspective, it made being their teacher well worth it.

Jean sent me an email and asked to do a follow up coffee meeting at my convenience to check on how progress has been going. Today was the day I could do it, and even though I don’t drink coffee we met up at a place in Libertyville to compare notes. When I got there she was meeting with her web person, and before I sat down three different people walked over and said hello.

I’m telling you, I’ve never seen anyone network like Jean does. It was a treat to watch, and we finally got time to talk. Jean’s passion for what she’s doing just shines, and I could feel it as she explained what she’s looking to do, and how I can be a part of it. She wants to help me connect with corporate sources to both speak and teach speakers, and she wants me to help her as well.

She’s been getting some bookings lately, and wants to polish up her speech and add humor to it. Well, if there’s one thing I can help people with it’s that. Eric and I have been working at that exact same thing, and it’s working tremendously well. There’s no reason I can’t help Jean also.

She also went on to say how this is the hot season for business whereas summer is ice cold for the comedy world. She scolded me – deservedly – about being stuck in ‘comedy mode’. I’m in a new arena now and new rules are in place. I heard all she said, and I’m on board. She’s a winner. I never would have imagined that little class last summer could lead to this, but it has and we’re all better for it. Jean’s website is http://www.networkconnectsucceed.com I think the title says it all.

Jean MacDonald is a speaker, author and trainer. She knows EVERYBODY!

Jean MacDonald is a speaker, author and successful sales trainer. And she knows absolutely EVERYBODY!

Eric Feinendegen and Jean are in Toastmasters, and they took a comedy class I taught at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL last summer.

Eric Feinendegen and Jean are in Toastmasters, and they took a comedy class I taught at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL last summer.

David Stuart owns Improv Playhouse, and it's a wonderful place to learn acting, improv or standup comedy. Tell him I sent you! www.improvplayhouse.com.

David Stuart owns Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. It’s a terrific place to learn improv, acting or standup comedy. Tell him I sent you! http://www.improvplayhouse.com.

A Night Of Stories

September 2, 2013

Friday August 30th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL 

   If for only one time in my life I’d love to know what it’s like to be in the right place at the right time. I certainly know all too well from a pantsload of personal experience what it feels like to be off the radar and nowhere close to the center of what’s happening – and of that I have had my fill.   

   Happening my way into standup comedy in the ‘80s just as the boom years were about to begin has been about the closest I have come to date to hitting a home run, but even that wasn’t a grand slam. Had I possessed the rock solid headliner act I have now, I’d have been a multi millionaire.

   Instead, I clawed my way up the ranks and earned my stripes over decades of paying dues. I’m fine with paying my dues – everyone has to – but it would be nice to get paid back in money. As of now, I’ll be very much upside down on the dues to payoff scale if it ends tomorrow, and I feel like I got cheated. I’d hate to think I came all this way only to get skunked in the end. How cruel. 

   The entertainment fad of the week seems to be storytelling. There are groups popping up with names like ‘The Moth’ and ‘Ex Fabula’, and I’m hearing they’re selling shows out in New York and it’s heading west. There are groups in Chicago and Milwaukee, and I hear it’s catching on.

   I don’t know why it’s catching on, but apparently it is. My long time friend Dave Hendrickson in Milwaukee has been part of the scene there for a while, and even ran his own events at a place called The Safe House. He asked me to participate, and I said yes. If there’s one thing I’m loaded with in life it’s stories. I don’t have to make anything up, and could fill up a whole show myself.

   Another friend Bill Gorgo in Chicago has done some storytelling events there, and has enjoyed the experience. Dave suggested we try a night of storytelling somewhere, so I suggested we do it at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. They have a nice performance space there, and it’s small enough where the risk wouldn’t be huge if nobody showed up. I’m always up for rolling the dice.

   I didn’t want it be a sausage fest, so I asked a former student named Cathy Rubino to be part of the mix so we’d have at least a little diversity on the bill. Cathy is loaded with creative talent and was excited when I asked her to join us. If nothing else, it would be a refreshing change of pace.

   Tonight was our first show, and it came off very well. We didn’t sell out, but we did manage to rustle up enough to have a show. On a holiday weekend, I’ll consider that a victory. It’s difficult to get butts in seats for any reason, and this was no different. We did our best to get the word out.

   Dave has a couple of nice video cameras, so we were able to do a two camera shoot. Hopefully that can be cut up into a demo of some sort and we can get some paid bookings if indeed this is a viable product. I’m personally not that impressed with it as a genre, but what the hell do I know?

   I wasn’t impressed with rap either but that sells to the masses big time. I still think it stinks, but someone is getting paid a lot more than me. If storytelling is what’s selling, I am locked, stocked and ready to rock. Standup comedy is WAY harder, but if this is the flavor of the month I’m set.

That Midas Touch

August 23, 2013

Thursday August 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I truly do have the Midas touch in life. Everything I touch turns to mufflers. I thought I’d found my way around that hassle at least for a little while, but when I started my car this morning I was greeted by that loud annoying noise of unquestionable familiarity. My car sounds like a Cessna.

   I know this is part of buying a used car, but this is the last thing I need right now. I’m on a very tight summer budget these days, and don’t have any extra cash to be throwing around on exhaust systems. The last one that fell off cost me $850. I still haven’t sold that turd, but even if I do I am never going to recoup that money for the exhaust system. It turns my stomach to think about it.

   I’m afraid to even have it looked at. They’re going to run the scam past me that I’ll need a new whizzenfluffer flange on my doo hickey pipe, but they don’t make those anymore so they’ll have to custom ship one in on a slow boat from the Congo. It will be made of pure ivory and cost only $3000 – plus 6 hours of labor from the specialist they will have to fly in from Japan to install it.

   I really like the Toyota Camry I bought, but it’s going to be a real killer financially. I juiced up my credit card all the way to buy it, as that was my only option at the time. I used to have a fund for repairs, but my little hospital fiasco in 2011 ended up totally wiping me out. I’m SO screwed.

   The car is very clean, and it had new tires, brakes, battery and a tune up when I bought it. It has extremely low miles for its age, and I assumed I’d have a trouble free car for a while. Having this jump out of nowhere put me in a foul mood, but there’s not much I can do about it. Life is cruel.

   I’ve been working my ball joints off of late doing all the shows I can find, and also working on all kinds of side projects that I am hoping at least one of eventually pays off financially. I’ve put it all on the line for so many years that I would have thought something should have hit by now.

   How many lumps can one guy take? I’m reaching my limit. I tried to turn my radio up loud all day, but it didn’t cover up the noise. It’s like taking a ‘French whore’ shower. Putting all the pit spray or cheap cologne on in the world won’t eliminate the stench of not having taken a shower.

   I’m trying hard to be a good person, I really am. I go out of my way to help others when I don’t have to, and have tried to make the world a better place than when I found it. One would think if there was some kind of higher power He or She would take that into consideration and cut me at least a little break. What the hell else do I have to do? All I’m asking for is relief from the storm.

   What makes this even more stressful is that I’m going into a period of even more instability for the next week or so. I’ve got three nights in a row that are door deals, and that could mean a total washout with zero cash. I took chances in three different places, and I can’t say what will happen or if even one paying customer will show up. Sometimes that’s how it works out, and this is it.

   I am at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL next Friday doing a storytelling show as requested by my friend Dave Hendrickson. He thinks that’s a hot thing right now, and I hope he’s right. I’ll cross my fingers, but I don’t know. Saturday I am working another door deal in Homewood, IL.

   Another friend Dave Rudolf is a musician and wants to try a comedy night at a music club. It’s a small room from what he tells me, and even if it fills I won’t make big money. It’s called “The Twisted Q”, but if nobody comes out it’s twisted bankruptcy. I could sure use a break right now.

Day Of Distraction

July 4, 2013

Wednesday July 3rd, 2013 – Arlington Heights, IL/Libertyville, IL

   Every time I try to get a solid day’s work in, my phone rings and I get sidetracked. Today I got two more calls that took me off course. I suppose I could have said no to both, but that wouldn’t have been the right decision. My sky high pile of things to do will have to wait yet one more day.

   My first stop was the studios of WIND radio in Arlington Heights, IL. Ken Sevara hosts a talk show called ‘Fly By Night’ which runs at midnight on Sunday mornings, and he had a fallout for a guest. I’ve done the show before, and it’s a lot of fun. Publicity is always good, and it was also a chance to help someone and I try to do that whenever I can. It’s points on the old karma board.

   We recorded the show and it went very well, as we both knew it would. It’s not a matter of the ability to be entertaining, it’s everything else. Ken brokers the air time from the station, and has to come up with sponsors every week. He’s doing exactly what I was doing with the Mothership Connection on WLIP, only he’s on a bigger station for a shorter time. Still, there are bills to pay.

   Ken is much better suited to do a show like that than I am, as he’s a master salesman. He has a flair for everything I don’t, and this is a good fit for him. Does anyone listen? Who knows? That isn’t always as important as being able to tell a client “Hey, come be a guest on my radio show.”

   I get that, but what if anything actually makes a difference? Ken, Tim Slagle and I were on two major radio stations in Chicago doing our ‘Jerry’s Kidders’ segment, and that didn’t make us one nickel. It was great fun and I have to believe someone heard it, but it didn’t translate into dollars. Was it worth doing? Again, that’s hard to say. On a fun level, yes. On a money level, it bombed.

   I hope Ken’s show is a huge success, and he seems to be doing very well with it. He’s getting a variety of sponsors, but he has to go out and sell them. He has the ideal personality for it, where I don’t. He loves to get out and press the flesh, whereas I like to do my show and keep to myself.

   My next stop was Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL to audition for a speaking role in a film of all things. It’s a small role, but a film role nonetheless. I’ve done a couple of things in the past as far as acting, but nothing major. I’ve had bit parts in two other films, and both were very fun.

   This role is of a pompous but clueless security guard, and I went over my lines most of the day. There aren’t many, but I’ve always been horrible at memorizing lines. Even in my comedy, I’ve always been pretty loose as a rule, and I like to be free to ad lib. That’s not the way acting works.

   I won’t be upset if I don’t get the part, but I think it would be fun and productive to do it. I got the call from David Stuart at Improv Playhouse, and he’s the guy in charge. He’s got his hand in the local acting and improv scenes, and strongly suggested that I get myself a new headshot and register with a talent agency. I’ve never pursued that angle, but it wouldn’t hurt to go that route.

   They film commercials and movies in Chicago all the time, and I’ve heard of other comedians getting hired for bit parts in the past. It just wasn’t something I felt a calling to do. I was an extra in the movie ‘While You Were Sleeping’ with Sandra Bullock, and it was pretty boring actually.

   Acting is mostly a bunch of standing around, and that never thrilled me. I do trust David as far as his credibility, and he strongly suggests I pursue it. We’ll see if I get this part, and then I’ll go from there. I have enough other things I need to do without one more project. I could use a clone.

My movie debut...for about six seconds.

My movie debut…for about six seconds.

A Day Well Spent

June 20, 2013

Wednesday June 19th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Libertyville, IL

   The emotional roller coaster ride continues. It was mostly a series of tremendous ups today, but there was one down. I guess without the downs the ups are meaningless, so for today I’ll attempt to keep my focus on those. There were several, and it was a day that will have a lasting impact.

   I drove up to Milwaukee for a series of errands this morning. With gas prices sky high, one has to clump errands together these days. I hadn’t seen my cousin Wendy in a while, so I asked if she wanted to have breakfast. Her daughter Katie is the working partner of Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert who was severely injured by a wrong way drunk driver in a car accident in October.

   Wendy reported that Josh is not only up and walking, but he’s back to work. That’s miraculous news, and anyone who saw him being rolled into Shank Hall in a wheel chair would agree. I will never forget the emotional vibe that engulfed the room when he arrived that night. It was electric.

    I was delighted to hear the super news about Officer Albert, but then she followed that up with a horrible story about how the 8 year old daughter of her other daughter has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. That really bothered me, and still does. Life can be so ugly, and I fail to see why.

   Why doesn’t Charles Manson have a brain tumor? That waste of sperm chugs on into old age a stalwart picture of health, but a beautiful little 8 year old girl has a brain tumor. Who is in charge of handing life’s fates out, and where is the complaint department? It all seems SO uncalled for.

   After breakfast I attended a book signing by my long time friend Tyrone Pierre Dumas. Tyrone is in the generation of Milwaukee comedians ahead of me, but we’ve been friends going on thirty years now. He goes back to my earliest days, and has always been a supporter of everything I do.

   He wrote a book titled “Food is my Orgasm”, and today was his big day. Tyrone has also been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and has had some other health issues. His book was written with the premise that some people like food more than sex – or at least would have to think about it.

   James Gregory in Atlanta joked about that same thing when we hung out a few months ago. He said if forced to choose between the best sex of his life or a great meal he’d have to really think it over. Tyrone has been working on this book for years, and he put out a press release to invite me so I had to show up. Even with gas prices soaring, the price of friendship was worth every cent.

   At the end of it all, nobody will remember how much my gas cost today. Seeing Tyrone’s face light up with recognition when I walked in the book store immediately told me I had made a wise investment. He was telling everyone that I had driven up from Chicago, and they all appeared to be impressed that someone would come all that way just to attend a book signing in Milwaukee.

   I would have driven up from Miami to see him have his day. Writing a book or doing anything else creative is never an easy task, and I for one can relate to the process. I bought a book at full price, and was happy to do so to support the effort. There was nothing but positive energy in the room, and that’s what life is supposed to be about in my opinion. I was happy to see his success.

   Tyrone stopped doing comedy years ago, but he’s still a dented can like most of us are. He saw the hard road comedy is, and chose instead to be a husband, father, community activist and make his contribution that way. He’s a top shelf human being, and I’m proud to call Tyrone my friend.

   Tonight was also a big night at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL where a comedy class I’ve been teaching had their graduation show. Those are always fun, but tonight was extra special. Of all the classes I’ve ever taught, I’d have to say this was the one that worked the absolute hardest.

   They were a group of Toastmasters, and unlike most of my classes they had previously known each other before signing up. Most of the other classes are random groups comprised of a totally unfiltered mix of anyone and everyone from anywhere and everywhere. This was a different mix.

   These people wanted to learn to add humor to their speeches, and quite honestly I was a bit of a skeptic when I’d heard about them. Improv Playhouse attracts a different clientele than Zanies in Chicago, and it’s far enough away where they don’t compete. It’s not far from home, so I do it.

   We’ve had a few classes to this point, but honestly nothing special. It’s been a tough sell to get full classes, but standup comedy isn’t their focus like a Zanies or any other comedy club. They’re an improv theatre, and standup is a side bar. That’s fine, and if we can fill a class up I’ll show up.

   This was a totally different scenario. They came to Improv Playhouse specifically requesting a class custom made just for them. I’ve had a couple of requests like that over the years, but these guys came to learn. They were from a corporate background as a whole, so I aimed my lessons at that angle. It was a challenge for me to customize my lesson plan, but I always enjoy challenges.

   The leader of the group is a guy named Eric Feinendegen. He’s in the financial business, and is an award winning speaker in the Toastmasters world. He told me at the beginning of class that he wanted me to “whip the group into shape”, so I tried to oblige. If someone tells me they want the truth, I’ve always been one to give it to them. Come to think of it, I give it when they don’t ask.

   It was funny to me to hear these people grumble and groan throughout the run of the class. I’ve never thought of myself as a taskmaster, but they seemed to view me as a cross between Captain Bly and some ruthless Third World dictator. All I was doing was stressing comedy fundamentals, and not backing down. The process is NOT easy, and I assured them I understood their feelings.

   And I totally do. Nothing about standup comedy is easy, even though the best ones can make it look that way. Looking effortless requires PLENTY of effort, and this class got to see how much that was. It was a lot more than they thought, but to their credit they kept showing up each week.

   They had a splendid work ethic, and even though they moaned and groaned they were a willing bunch and trusted my input – for the most part. Some of them fought it at times, but I never mind that at all. I am there to make suggestions, but in the end it’s the student who gets the final word.

   Tonight was their reward for all their hard work and putting up with what they perceived to be my constant and relentless harassment, and they all came through with flying colors. I love to see these nights happen, and I’ve seen it too many times to count. I never get sick of it though, and it was just as much fun for me to watch them go up and kill it as it was for them. They all nailed it!

   The biggest compliment of all came from Eric when he made it a point to come up afterward to tell me I changed his life. He said taking my class opened his eyes to a whole new world, and it’s comments like that that make me keep teaching all these years. What a flattering thing to hear on many levels, and I was truly humbled by it. This was a fantastic night for the class and a big day for Tyrone Pierre Dumas, but I still can’t help thinking about an 8 year old’s delicate situation.

A Prices Crisis

May 11, 2013

Wednesday May 8th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   Boy, am I embarrassed. I’m teaching a Wednesday night comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL, and my students are telling me I’m not getting paid enough. I know they mean it in a complimentary way, but it’s still embarrassing to know someone thinks I deserve more pay.

   This current class is a Toastmasters group, and they approached Improv Playhouse about doing a private class just for them so they could improve their speeches. They don’t necessarily want to become comedians, but they do want to punch up their speeches with humor. They’ve been a fun group, and it’s been a challenge for me to come up with lessons each week that meet their needs.

   I’m trying to learn and grow along with them, but after class tonight a couple of students asked if I did corporate training and how much I charged. I’ve done some corporate training in the past, and it’s always gone very well. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been me that has set the prices as a rule.

   One time I was asked to speak for a friend of mine who worked as a realtor. His father was the owner of the company and wanted someone to speak at a luncheon about “hanging in there when times get tough”. I do know about that. My friend recommended me and then asked for my price.

   I had no idea what to ask, so I asked how big the attending group would be. It was about 300 as I recall, so I asked for $500 for a 45 minute presentation. That’s more than the going rate of what most road dog comics get for a one nighter, and I thought I was asking a fair price for the event.

   As it turns out, it was a red flag to my friend’s father because it was WAY below what anyone else with credibility was charging and it made me look like a used car with flood or hail damage. I ended up getting the gig, and it went very well. I was able to pull off exactly what they wanted.

   Therein lies my problem. I know I know what I’m doing. It’s taken decades of hard work to get the knowledge I have, and I can present it effectively because I’ve done it time and time again to diverse audiences. What I don’t know is how to sell myself at the right price. I don’t want it to be too high and scare people off, but I also don’t want it to be too low to make me look amateurish.

   I really need to solve this problem, or I’ll never get myself to that ‘next level’ everyone dreams of. There’s a psychology of pricing, and people that are willing to pay top dollar assume they are getting the best product available when that’s not always necessarily true. It boils down to sales.

   There is absolutely nobody on this entire planet who can teach standup comedy techniques and procedures better than me, and I’m not bragging when I say that. Nobody has put in the time and paid their dues like me, and I’d be able to hang with anybody when it comes to “talking shop”.

   I know it in my heart, but getting someone else to pay for that knowledge is a different story. It doesn’t always go hand in hand, and I’m going to have to either learn to get paid what I’m worth or spend the rest of my life being looked at as having a glorified lemonade stand for a business.

   It stung that my students brought it up that I was underselling myself, but they were right and it needs to get fixed. Doing the class with them is fun, but it’s not going to get me out of my money hole so basically it’s not making the best use of my time. Fun is fun, but there are bills to be paid. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be paying them with ease AND having fun doing it. I have the fun part down, but the money is a different story. I need to step it up soon or I’ll be out of business.

Showbiz Babies

April 22, 2013

Sunday April 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Kenosha, WI

    Today was a day to kick back, but only a little. I’m finding myself thoroughly enjoying all that I have piled on my plate – even though the pile is dangerously high. Everything could crash down with a thundering thud at any second, but for now I’m having fun. It’s exactly what I want to do.

   2013 is flying by faster than I can comprehend, but I’m definitely still on my way to having the best year I’ve ever had. I’ve already accomplished a lot, but I see a lot more just around the bend. Decades of preparation have gotten me to this point and I just can’t see wasting even one minute.

   It’s really been a satisfying experience performing the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows. It is exactly what I dreamed about when I first started doing comedy, and even though it took a lot longer for it to become a reality than I ever imagined it is now and it feels better than good to see it happen.

    Sure, there are a lot of tweaks needed but the basic product is there and it’s now out there and ready to grow. That baby has been born, and it has ten fingers and ten toes. There might be some growing pains and glitches, but all babies have those. For the most part it’s a happy healthy infant.

    All of my projects are like babies to me, and they’re all screaming for my attention. I still have troublesome time management issues, and that’s a sad fact. I’d love to dote over every one of my babies one on one, but I just can’t afford it. The more time I spend on one, the others are jealous.

   ‘Schlitz Happened!’ is getting a lot of attention now, but after next week’s final performances I will put it down for a nap for a little while – probably until fall. Potawatomi Casino and I will get together on a plan for future shows, and I feel very confident we’ll be able to work out all details.

   Another baby that’s just waking up from a nap is standup comedy classes. I’ve got some going both at Zanies in Chicago and Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL and I’m finding myself doing them several nights a week of late. I love teaching them, but I’m going to have to organize more.

   Tonight’s baby was ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. That’s another project I really enjoy, but I’ve really neglected it of late. We had our best year by far in 2012, but now we’re just kind of drifting along. It doesn’t stink, but we’re not growing and that’s not good. We’ve got a very solid vibe between the crew, and we know it.

   We had a few technical glitches tonight, but that happens once in a while. It could have shaken us, but we didn’t let it and we ended up having an excellent show. We also had some last minute guest cancellations to deal with, and we handled that as well. This baby is ready to start walking.

   They all are. Standup comedy is my adult child since it’s been in my life the longest, but I love that like a baby too. Unfortunately, I can’t devote all of my attention to any of them right now so I’m trying my best to at least give each one a hug whenever I can. Being a daddy is no easy task.

   Then there’s The King of Uranus. That whole project has completely come to a halt, and that’s not at all to my satisfaction. I know it’s a goofy idea, but it too has enormous potential. I get that reminder every single day when someone behind me in traffic snaps a picture of my license plate and bumper sticker with a big grin on their face. That idea could be the biggest of them all, but if I don’t do my due diligence as a father that baby will die. They all could, and that’s why my time needs to be spent wisely. I’d hate to see any of these ideas die. It’s up to me to give them breath.

I Need A Secretary

April 12, 2013

Wednesday April 10th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL/Rosemont, IL

   My packed tight schedule got packed tighter, but there’s no use complaining. I am going to put all I have into what I’m doing and that’s all I can do. I’ll either get it done or wear out trying. It’s all stuff I totally enjoy, so if my heart does happen to pop like a pimple at least I’ll have had fun.

   Today I started teaching another comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. I enjoy teaching there, but it’s not a place that attracts hardcore comedy students. That’s fine, but it’s not the same preparation to teach. Most of the people who take classes there are doing it as a hobby.

   This particular class is a Toastmasters group looking to get some tips on how to make speeches funnier. They’re very nice people and open to learning, so I’ll give them the tips they want and a lot more. I can use these sessions to practice and improve my teaching skills with new exercises.

   It’s all about constant improvement, and I’m definitely doing that onstage and off of late. I can feel myself getting markedly better, and that’s how it should be. It’s not common for someone to stay hungry this late in the game, but that’s exactly how I feel. I want to always keep evolving.

   After class, I headed over to Rosemont, IL to headline Zanies Comedy Club there. I picked up a three night run there that fits perfectly with my Saturday commitment in Milwaukee. Schedules happened to fall into place for both Zanies and me this week, and it’s a perfect fit for each of us.

   Things have really been falling into place lately, and I’m afraid to ask why. It doesn’t work like that often – at least from my experience. I seem to be in a deep groove of late, and I can’t say I’m upset about it. I need to savor this feeling for when the tide turns back, and it will. It always does.

   I just feel like I’m finally swimming with the current in life rather than fighting upstream to get anywhere. It’s a whole different feeling to be going with the flow than against it. I’ve found what I love to do, and I’m not only doing it for a living I’m enjoying the process. That’s a dream gig.

   It’s taking a lot of energy to make it all happen, but that’s ok too. It takes even more to work at something I can’t stand. Most of the world is trapped doing some dead end boring job that wasn’t in their dreams when they still had enough energy left over to dream at all. I’m actually living all mine, and it feels great. Even a bad day doing what I’m doing is better than being a rich zombie.

   The key is to keep showing up every day and do the very best I can. I’ve got so much going on at any one time, it’s inevitable something will fall through the cracks and it does regularly. I wish it didn’t, but it absolutely does. Despite that I’ve managed to get a lot done in the recent past, and I’m not about to give that up any time soon. These are my prime years to do whatever I will do.

   I really had fun at class tonight, and I will come up with lessons designed for their needs. It’s a challenge to find where their wheel house as a group is, but I’ll give it my best shot. I also had an excellent time on stage at Zanies. I’ve been working on Milwaukee stuff of late and haven’t been putting effort into my regular standup, so that will be the focus in Rosemont. Life is a workshop.

  Unfortunately, for as much fun as I’m having there’s the pile of unfinished business that always goes with it. Emails and phone messages are backed up, as well as laundry and other chores like car maintenance, taxes and everything else that everyone else has to do. I’ll have to attack that at some point, but then it takes time away from what I love to do. A sexy secretary would be great.  

Too Much Fun?

March 13, 2013

Monday March 11th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   More on the plate, but it’s all fun. This is really a dilemma, but a good one. I think. It’s like I’m at a spectacular giant buffet I’ve waited my whole life to eat at, and I’m piling my plate so high I can’t even walk back to my table to enjoy any of it. I think I have to rework my plan just a little.

I began another comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL tonight, and even though it was fun I have to admit I’d much rather have just stayed home and slept. Teaching is a relaxing activity in itself and I love it, but again it’s a matter of having to get somewhere. It’s maddening.

Where I live there are no easy routes to get anywhere. I have a few choices of roads I can take, but they all lead through low speed residential areas or near shopping areas with too many lights to go through where I always get trapped and have to wait. I’ve tried all options, and all are bad.

Libertyville isn’t all that physically far from where I live but it ends up taking about 45 minutes to get there and that’s only if I make all the traffic lights – which rarely happens. That’s an hour and a half for travel time which I could be spending doing something much more productive than sitting in my car listening to inane sports talk radio. It’s frustrating to have to waste all that time.

I’m not even making that much money to teach the classes, but I totally love doing it. It’s what I’ve spent my life training to do, and I know those students are getting FAR more than they ever pay for whether they know it and appreciate it or not. It’s good energy all around, and I enjoy it.

I guess that should be reason enough to do it, and until now it always has been. I never thought about the time outlay or money I was missing out on, but everything and everybody has limits. In a perfect world I’d have enough time and money to do everything I want to do, but this isn’t it.

So, what’s the right answer? I wish I knew. Pretty much everything I’m doing right now is a lot of fun, and I really love doing it all. Comedy gigs are plentiful at the moment, as are classes. The Mothership Connection radio show is going well also, even though I’m not getting paid a nickel.

I’m also farting around with antiquing, and I’ve managed to find a few items that have made it worth my while to keep doing that too. It’s like fishing, as it only takes a few tiny nibbles keep a person coming back. I’ve hauled in a couple of nice catches, and it makes me want to continue.

So, what if anything is wrong with any of this? Technically, nothing at all. I can’t think of very many people I know who totally love what they do, so that’s a major victory. On the other hand, I see so much more potential for things I’d like to do and know I can achieve but don’t have time and that frustrates me beyond words. Do I settle for the fun I’m having, or try to go even higher?

The ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows are going to be another fun project. I hope that blossoms into a long running event, but if it does will it take me out of the game for national TV? The ‘Laughing Skull Festival’ in Atlanta is coming up too in a couple of weeks. I have waited my whole life for things like this to blossom, and now they’re all blooming at once. Can one have too much fun?