Posts Tagged ‘Jane Matanaer’

One More Tomorrow

October 3, 2010

Thursday September 30th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL/Milwaukee, WI

The big debut is almost here. Tomorrow is the grand opening of the ‘Schlitz Happened’ show at the Schauer Center in Hartford, WI and I have mixed emotions about it. I’m very excited on one hand for the opportunity to do it, but on the other I know it’s not ready yet.

Unfortunately, the only way to get it ready is to get up on that stage tomorrow and do it. Then I need to do it again after tomorrow. And then again after that. And again and again,  whenever and wherever I can. The only way to make anything better is to keep doing it.

I can see myself really having a hit with this idea, even though it’s got a distinctly local audience. I know I’ll be able to plug right in with a certain group, but I don’t know where to take them when I do. What’s the structure? I don’t have one yet, and it will take time to build one that works consistently. I’ve got a lot of ingredients, but no working recipe yet.

I’ll have to fly by the seat of my pants, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that until it’s to my liking. More importantly, it has to be to the audience’s liking. I’ve got enough stage experience to not embarrass myself, but I know how I am. I don’t want to just squeak by.

My goal is to blow those people right off their chairs, through the solid steel doors and out into the parking lot. I want them to laugh so hard we’ll need paramedics to be on duty to nurse people back to health. I hope FEMA has to send helicopters to restore the peace.

I know I’m not going to get any of that, and it will probably bother me a little no matter how it goes. Realistically, I predict it will go fine. That particular audience is very polite, and last time it was a fantastic evening. I have no reason to believe this one won’t match it, but last time I had a full arsenal of polished standup bits to do. This time it’s different.

I may do just a few of the same bits, but not many. This isn’t billed as a standup show, it’s a one man show about growing up in Milwaukee. I want to have as much local stuff in it as I can, but also some personal stories of my childhood – of which all are not funny.

I’m not looking to make it a therapy session, but I do want to share some very amazing stories that I know will be fascinating for ‘normal’ people to hear. They have been on the street all these years, not I have to take them to the stage. It’s very delicate, but that’s the extra ingredient that will put this over the top and give it some teeth. It will be worth it.

There’s no doubt I’ll figure out how to put it all together eventually, but it sure won’t be by tomorrow night. I can’t over think it either. I suppose I could plan and study and try to practice, but I know that won’t do me any good. I need to go up there and let it flow from my heart, and get it out of me as a raw nugget, something I can then shape into a show.

This is a very advanced concept, and is even more difficult than just doing standup on a regular basis. That’s hard enough to pull off, now I’m trying to add emotional strings too? What am I, a total masochist or just a plain old garden variety idiot? Maybe some of both.

Either way, it’s too late to turn back now and I’m going to do this no matter what. This is one of the tradeoffs of being an entertainer. NO performer is ever really ready for their ‘next step’, but if we don’t just go out and do it nobody would ever grow. Every surgeon has to do their first operation and every pilot has to make their first flight. You just do it.

The key is to not do it in a place that can cause harm to anyone. If a surgeon does a bad operation, someone can lose their life. If a comedian does a bad show, it’s not that big of a risk to the audience. They’re just out the price of a ticket and an hour and a half of time.

If they’re really upset, they can demand their money back and if the act was truly as bad as they thought, they’ll most likely get it. The risk is with the comedian. If he or she has a bad show in a certain venue, the distinct possibility does exist that will be their last show.

This is part of the reason I got so heated with those two guys at Zanies recently. It won’t hurt the audience if they’re not ready and have a bad show, but it could really hurt both of those guys if Bert Haas were to see them bomb. It would set a level in his eyes that would be very difficult to change. They’d be in the amateur category a lot longer than necessary.

Bert has the power to book three Zanies clubs in Chicago, which is what every comic in town would like to be able to put on their calendar every year. Going in to try out before a person is ready is committing career-o-cide. Why do people still do it? They don’t think.

I’ve made and seen so many mistakes over the years that I’ve thought this through a lot. I know what I’m getting into, and there are distinct plusses and minuses that won’t be any surprise. One of the minuses is I’ll have to start over from almost ground zero to build up a really solid show that’s about Milwaukee and my experiences there. That will take time.

What will also make it work is local media exposure. This morning I got on B93.3 with Jane And C.V., and I was grateful to get it. It’s one of the rare morning radio shows in the country with two female leads, and I’m glad to see it. They’re both very competent talents and deserve to be working. I’m glad they have a job, but I’m sure not as glad as they are.

Jane Matanaer has been in the market for years, and she’s an outstanding talent. What a voice, and a sweetheart of a person to boot. She’s always been a big supporter of mine, so it was no surprise she agreed to plug the show. C.V. is from Iowa, but I met her when she used to work at another station in town and she’s cool too. It was fun being on with them.

After that, I had breakfast with my friends Lynn Miner and Jim Peck. Lynn is another of a long list of former students who have become lifelong friends, and Jim Peck had me on his TV show a few years ago and we’ve stayed in touch. He’s a world class broadcaster.

Jim used to host network game shows, and is absolutely hilarious. He’s got a dry sense of humor and his mind is brilliant. He makes me laugh out loud, but he’s also very smart when it comes to business. I want to have people like Jim and Lynn around to consult for ideas as to how to build this idea into a profitable franchise for years to come. Here goes.