Posts Tagged ‘James R. Zingelman’

It Takes A Champion

June 26, 2014

Tuesday June 24th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

If I have learned nothing else from my life’s long twisted journey, it’s that making one’s living exclusively as an entertainer for any significant amount of time is nothing less than a big old, icy cold, rock hard, unforgiving, unrelenting, cruel, nasty, fire breathing seven days a week BITCH.

Anyone that has lasted more than ten years has my undying respect, and then there are the lifer types like me that have gone past any and all ‘normal’ boundaries, and find ourselves desperately hanging on for dear life from week to week despite having sacrificed our lives to polish our craft.

My particular scope of view has been standup comedy, radio and professional wrestling. I have friends in each of those areas that have been at it for decades and are either struggling to hang on even a little bit longer or feverishly looking for something else so they can continue to survive.

And I know there are other fields like actors, dancers, musicians, magicians, film makers and a few more categories I’m sure I missed that are in this same (sinking) boat. We’ve devoted our all to our crafts, but never “made it big”. That term is so unfair, and it’s never about who is the best.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until someone hears me – there are all kinds of talented people at any given craft that are virtual unknowns, and quite often those with minimal talent manage to claw and scratch their way to the top by having razor sharp focus and wanting the spotlight more.

It takes almost a psychotic obsession to hit the big time in any creative endeavor, or a once in a lifetime streak of amazing luck. Or both. That’s rare enough, but now find a way to keep yourself around for more than a few months or even a year. Trust me, it’s NOT easy and most people fail.

In the comedy field, I can easily name dozens of really solid acts that just never found a way to get that break we all need. There are all kinds of reasons for it, but that doesn’t mean they are not talented – and solid citizens as well. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter in this vicious death race.

Names that pop into my mind off the bat include Dwight York, Don Reese, Dwayne Kennedy, Larry Reeb, Tim Walkoe, Jimmy McHugh, Beth Donahue, James R. Zingelman, Tim Northern, Danny Storts and Ron Ferguson. For every one of those names there are a dozen more, and I will stop naming because I know I’m excluding a friend that I like and respect. But you get the idea.

This all started when I got a phone call today from Rick D’Elia – another highly respected road warrior I love onstage and off. What a classy chap he is, and funny too. He is originally from the Boston area, but has been living on the west coast for years. We met in 2003 at the San Francisco Comedy Competition and have stayed in touch. He’s out there still slugging it out just like me.

He’s driving across the country, and working a week in Oklahoma this week to earn money to get himself home. He’s getting thrown out of his apartment for subletting while he was out trying to make a living in the crumbling comedy business, and he needs to find a place when he returns. I love Rick like a brother, and could totally empathize with his situation. This is why I have zero patience for cocky know-it-alls that have paid zero dues. The show business meat grinder is not for everyone. My heart goes out to Rick and everyone else still in the game. It takes a champion.

Rick D'Elia is a super funny comedian onstage and a classier person off stage does not exist. Look him up along with every other name I posted in this entry. They're ALL great, and deserve a break.

Rick D’Elia is a super funny comedian onstage and a classier person off stage does not exist. Look him up along with every other name I posted in this entry. They’re ALL great, and deserve a break. They’ve paid big dues.


Be Good

March 26, 2014

Tuesday March 25th 2014 – Island Lake, IL

OK, enough with the downers already. I don’t want to dwell on it all the time, but when I get in a rut it feels overwhelming. I’m just being honest with how I feel. It makes me laugh when I hear “Hey, a lot of other people are hurting too. Be thankful for what you have and shut your mouth.”

I get the message, but it’s not that easy. I never thought I was the only one with problems, and I still don’t. I realize all of us struggle at some point with something, but it’s still laughable to hear people haul out the “other people are hurting too” angle. Sorry, but that doesn’t help in the least.

What if I walked up out of nowhere to randomly kick someone square in the crotch with a steel toed work boot? Then, as they’re writhing in pain on the ground I hover over them and say “Hey, quit your sniveling. A lot of other people are in pain too.” Yes it’s a fact, but how does that help?

Another fact is, life is unbelievably hard. It’s harder for some than others, but at some point we all feel as if we’ve just taken a steel toed work boot to the crotch. What determines our character is what we do after it happens. It’s easy to drop out of the game and make excuses, but that’s not how to win. The real winners in life dust themselves off and keep going – and that’s even harder.

My individual personality – or maybe it’s just ego in disguise – is not about to let me bow out now. For whatever reason, I have always been attracted to the biggest challenges in any field of endeavor, and I’m not satisfied unless I win at the very highest level. That’s just the way I think.

Nobody cares that anyone is hurting, and I get that as well. My grandpa used to say “The world doesn’t care about labor pains – they only want to see the baby.” I don’t have a baby to show and that puts me in a precarious position. I won’t be happy until I do, and that’s why I’m frustrated.

I feel like I have so much to give, but most of it is still inside. If I didn’t have to keep worrying about bills every month I could devote more to what I feel I was born to do. Driving 500 miles to entertain 14 people in a sports bar on a Thursday night isn’t it. Time to aim far higher – but how?

I really don’t have a clue. It sure would be nice to get a subsidy from somewhere, but I have no idea how to look for that either. Are there any available grants for artists? Were there ever any to be had in the first place? Am I an artist at all, or just some delusional lunatic with a pipe dream?

I guess it all remains to be seen, but one thing I know I need to do is press on. Even though it’s not comfortable, and even though right now I don’t feel like it in the least – that’s the right call. I have more than a little experience in being in this position before, so it’s not like it’s new ground.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m going to get back out there and start making calls and sending out avails and start the whole process over. It’s the last thing I want to do, but the first thing I am going to do because that’s how a winner would react. I’m in the depths of the dumpster, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay there forever. Three months ago I was riding high. Who says I can’t be even higher three months from now? Or, I could be dead. In this life, there are no guarantees.

After thinking and rethinking about all of this to the point of exhaustion, I have concluded that there are only three things that truly matter – pleasing one’s self, doing one’s best every day and showing kindness to as many others as possible. That’s it. Everything else is meaningless fluff.

That’s a simple formula, but “simple” should never be confused with “easy”. The Golden Rule is very simple, but how many fail to practice that? How much more could things be broken down so even the biggest of idiots can grasp the concept? How about just two little words? “Be good.”

Shouldn’t that be the main goal for us all? I know it is for me and always has been, and even if I blow it – which I often do – it’s always the point of reboot. Being good starts with surrounding one’s self with good people and I’ve been a collector of those for years. I’ve compiled a fine lot.

Several have reached out in the last few days, and I was delighted to hear from them all. One of many tendencies I could improve greatly upon is reaching out when I’m at a sticking point rather than holing up like a gopher, but I have a hard time bothering friends. They have their own lives.

Dave Metcalfe is a comedian friend of mine from Utah, and a very funny guy. We met several years ago when I lived out there, but I had no idea he not only followed my blog regularly but is also a fellow dented can. His story is much more dramatic than mine, and that says a lot. I had no idea I had touched his life at all other than trying to be friendly whenever we would cross paths.

Actually, Dave’s wife wrote and thanked me for being kind to Dave and said he had been a fan of mine for years even though we hadn’t crossed paths in a while. Then Dave wrote himself and reiterated what his wife said. How flattering is it that I could touch someone without realizing it?

Dave is a funny cat, and his story is fascinating. Check him out on You Tube being interviewed by Kevin Nealon at . I would gladly work with him anytime, and I hope we do sooner than later. His reaching out really made me feel appreciated.

Another top of the line human that happens to be loaded with talent is James R. Zingelman aka ‘Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z’. There’s another guy I met years ago that impressed me right away. He’s yet another reader I had no idea I had, and he has made some very kind comments of late.

One recent one that said it all in just a few words was “You’re not alone, Dobie.” Now I could get technical and say with a contraction divided into two words the total word count is five. Why make it an issue either way? The point is he took time to send needed words of encouragement.

My brother Bruce took the time to send some encouraging words too. How surreal is that? It’s taken decades to patch up that relationship, and seeing that was like the first tulip sprouting up at Nagasaki. What a dramatic example of hope for the future it is, and I couldn’t appreciate it more.

I think the world of the Dave Metcalfes and Rusty Zs of the world and so many more that have crossed my path through the years. I thank them for their kindness, and hope I can return it many times over not only to them but to those that can’t return it. Kindness is always worth the effort.

The Golden Rule is apparently not simple enough for some people. How about 'Be good'? Simple enough?

The Golden Rule is apparently not simple enough for some people. How about just ‘Be good’? Is that simple enough?

Dave Metcalfe is a very funny comedian from Utah. Find him on You Tube.

Dave Metcalfe is a very funny comedian (and dented can) from Utah. He’s on You Tube

James R. Zingelman aka Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z is also a big time talent.

James R. Zingelman aka Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z is also a big time talent, not to mention a good soul.