Posts Tagged ‘intelligence’

The Birthday Race

March 16, 2014

Friday March 14th, 2014 – Springfield, IL

Another birthday comes and goes, and I’m realizing the rest of my days are now a race against the clock to see if I can manage to accomplish anything of significance. My ego won’t allow me to give up now, but my intelligence tells me it’s going to be a long shot. Either way, here we go.

I’m still holding on to the statistic I read years ago that the average self made millionaire is 53 years old, and has tried 15 different things. I’m getting close to the age, and I think I’ve tried far more than the 15 things already. I’d count, but it would probably depress me. Failure is draining.

It’s inspiring to read the stories of people that made it after a long struggle like an Abe Lincoln or Rodney Dangerfield, but I have to believe there’s a longer list of those that died without a big break ever arriving. My comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis is an example, as is my grandfather.

A lot fewer people than I think they both deserved ever saw how great both of them were and it will irk me as long as I live. Those two were tremendous human beings loaded with giving hearts and master people skills, and despite all their efforts they died in obscurity. That seems so unfair.

Jeffrey Dahmer and Al Capone will be known forever. Gramps and Cardell will not. Why does the world have to be so hardcore and rub salt into the wounds like that? I don’t know, and I don’t know if I want to know. From an onlooker’s point of view it’s a cruel joke – but that’s how it is.

This week I’m back in Springfield, IL at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. Donnie and I have hit it off from the first few minutes we met, and are big fans of one another. He thinks I’m one of the best acts he’s ever seen, and I think he’s one of the best entrepreneurs I’ve ever seen. We mesh well.

A reason for that may be that Donnie is also a dented can. His family history and mine are cut from the same stained cloth, and he hasn’t seen his twin sister in decades. He’s familiar with my story, maybe that’s why we hit it off so well. There’s a synergy and mutual respect with him that I seldom if ever find with most club owners, and it’s always a pleasure to work here. I enjoy it.

There are precious few comedy club owners I have ever run across that grasp the importance of advertisement and promotion like Donnie B does. The late Jeff Gilstrap is the only other one that I can think of that comes close. He was the owner of ‘Comedy Off Broadway’ in Lexington, KY.

Jeff would constantly run the comedians from radio station to radio station most mornings, and that’s the way it is here. Donnie picks me up at the hotel early, and we make the rounds doing all the important morning shows. Many comedians complain about it, but I get why it’s important. It gives his club a presence in town, even if the people don’t come out the particular week I’m here.

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that will be the case this week. St. Patrick’s Day weekend isn’t the best for comedy, and they have a big parade downtown here. The club isn’t located near that area, so we might have to eat some cheese whether we like it or not. Of course we won’t like it, but Donnie and I are survivors and we’ll keep pressing on. Still, I had a fun birthday anyway.

Another birthday passes, and my cake turns into an official fire hazard.

Another birthday passes, and my cake turns into an official fire hazard.

I'm working in Springfield at Donnie B's Comedy Club - one of my very favorite stops.

I’m in Springfield, IL this week at Donnie B’s Comedy Club – one of my very favorite stops.

My grandfather never got his big break in life. I want to do my best to keep his memory alive.

My grandfather never got his big break in life. I want to do my best to keep his memory alive. His mentoring skills were off the charts.

My comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis deserved more than he got as well. Love ya Cardell!

My comedy mentor C. Cardell Willis deserved more than he got as well. Love ya Cardell! Every time I go on stage, a part of you is with me.

Heckling Isn’t Helping

February 16, 2014

Saturday February 15th, 2014 – Indianapolis, IN

The good karma boat has been docking at my port quite often of late, and I’m not complaining. Today I received a call to do a last minute fill in gig in Indianapolis at a place called Latitude 39. It’s a huge entertainment complex with a bowling center, video arcade, restaurants and nightclub.

They book bands in the nightclub space, and have comedy shows on weekends. I worked there last summer, and it was a lot more fun than I expected. I was probably about due for a rebooking anyway, but the call came today because someone wasn’t able to get a flight from the east coast.

Fine by me. I had a super show last night that paid well so my week’s nut was already covered. This was found money, and who these days couldn’t use some of that? Indy is an easy drive, and I was able to get Dan Morris as the opener. It happened to be his birthday, and he wasn’t booked.

I really like Dan, onstage and off. He is very intelligent, even for a comedian. Believe it or not, that’s one trait that is virtually universal in comedians. Some of us may play an idiot character on stage, but very few if any successful comedians are dumb in real life. We might do dumb things – and I’ve tiptoed through those tulips many times – but we’re not dumb people. It can’t happen.

To perform comedy successfully, one must not only grasp a given concept or topic but also put a comedic twist at the end to get the laugh. That requires above average intelligence, even though the public would probably think otherwise. Believe it or not, it takes a smart whip to play stupid.

Dan is a college graduate, and reads a lot of books. He has a good relationship with his parents, and has worked in the corporate world for nonprofit organizations for years. He understands how marketing works, and works hard at it. Those just aren’t the ingredients of the typical comedian.

He started a little late, but he’s only in his 30s and has been doing it five years. He’s funny, but like all of us needs steady work to polish his persona. He’s still finding himself on stage, and that can be a painful process at times. Some nights it just doesn’t go well, and there’s no avoiding it.

Tonight wasn’t Dan’s best night, and I felt bad for him. I know he was giving them everything he had, but they just weren’t buying it. They didn’t hate him, but I don’t think they got anything he was trying to do. He struggled through like a trooper, and I’ve been there many times myself.

I’ve got a lot more experience, so I knew what buttons to push with these people. I was able to get them going up front, as I have a much higher energy level than most openers. That’s just how I work, and nights like tonight it really helps. I was able to take them to a higher level in a hurry.

What Dan didn’t have to deal with was a loud heckler who would NOT shut up. Why he had to wait until I got on is a mystery, but he kept yelling one word things like “CHEESEHEAD!” and “PACKERS!” for no discernible reason. After about twelve interruptions, it got to be a bit much.

I sliced him to shreds without being mean, and that shows how much I’ve grown. At one time I would have gone for the throat, but I knew it wasn’t worth it. This was free money, and I took it. And of course the halfwit had to come up afterward to say how much he’d “helped” me. Thanks!

Latitude 39 is a spectacular entertainment complex with locations in several cities. I happened to be in Indianapolis tonight, and it's a gorgeous facility. www.latitude360.com.

Latitude 39 is a spectacular entertainment complex with locations in several cities. I happened to be in Indianapolis tonight, and it’s a gorgeous facility. http://www.latitude360.com.

Dan Morris is an up and coming Chicago comedian. He does very intelligent humor, and is a super nice guy. Watch for him! www.danmorriscomedy.com.

Dan Morris is an up and coming Chicago comedian. He does very intelligent humor, and is a super nice guy. Watch for him! http://www.danmorriscomedy.com.

If you ever go see live standup comedy, no matter what the beers you've consumed tell you - talking back to the comedian is NOT helping. Can it.

If you ever go see live standup comedy, no matter what the beers you’ve consumed tell you – talking back to the comedian is NOT helping. Can it, or suffer the consequences.