Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Danley’

Success Is Calling

February 13, 2014

Tuesday February 11th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

At 9am sharp on the second Tuesday of the past several months, I have been participating in an interactive conference call called Midwest Entertainment Entrepreneurs Mastermind. It’s exactly what I need to be doing, and I wish it would have existed years ago. I am getting a lot out of it.

The idea was hatched by my friend Jeremy Danley aka “The Mighty Jer Dog”, and it’s limited to only a select few others that he has carefully chosen to be part of the conversation. Everybody gets to introduce some marketing ideas each month, and then they are discussed one at a time.

We’re all out there slugging in the trenches to make a living, and everyone is on the same page even if we’re not necessarily doing the same things in the same venues. Jer Dog has an excellent flair for business, even though he looks like he just crawled off the Cheech and Chong tour bus.

That’s no insult whatsoever mind you, as that is the audience he’s going for. He is famous for going into smaller towns and finding some road house somewhere and setting up comedy shows where they’ve never done one before. He enjoys the bar crowd, and usually does extremely well in those situations. I on the other hand can’t stand that environment, even though I’m a veteran.

I’ve worked for Jer Dog quite a bit in the last couple of years, and I really like what he’s doing. He’s carving out his own niche, and going around a lot of the ‘traditional’ bookers that could not care any less about the talent they exploit. That’s not a tradition either one of us care to continue.

Quite a few of those bookers want nothing to do with Jer Dog, as he’s a threat to their territory – or perceived territory. Nobody owns any particular area or town, but bookers often think they do. There are strict parameters of where comedians can and can’t work, and none of us like that.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there was even a little loyalty shown our way once in a while, but that rarely if ever happens. The bookers can cancel us a week out for no particular reason, but if any of us happen to need to switch a date there is hell to pay. But we have no leverage, so we take it.

Some of us have decided not to take it, and that’s why I love this group. There’s a BIG country out there, and a lot of places to work that aren’t in the ‘traditional’ venues. Most of those are not paying a living wage because they don’t have to. There is a big supply with very limited demand.

The places we’re focusing on have not been strip mined by anyone else. That comes with an all new set of challenges, but we in the group realize it and that’s what much of our discussion leans toward. It has opened up a whole new arena for me, and I’m thrilled to be asked to be included.

Not all booking agents are scumbags, but enough of them are to make this conference call exist in the first place. Had they treated us even a little more fairly, we’d have shut up and taken all of their abuse. Their lack of professionalism is coming back to haunt them, and I’m not sad about it.

I’m not looking to do road houses and honky tonks like Jer Dog does. I want to do theatres and auditoriums and even churches in smaller towns. Clean comedy really sells in those places, and I can do a solid show without swearing once. Now I just have to promote myself to those venues.

Does this look like someone who is an excellent marketer?

Does this look like someone who is an excellent marketer?

Actually he is. Jeremy Danley aka "The Mighty Jer Dog" is a razor sharp businessman. Much respect. Check him out.

Actually he is. Jeremy Danley aka “The Mighty Jer Dog” is a razor sharp businessman. Much respect. Check him out.

Boxcars Bonanza

January 10, 2014

Wednesday January 8th, 2014 – Clinton, WI

I had my first comedy show of 2014 tonight, and it was as close to perfection as it gets in every way and on every level. If it were like this every night, I’d have all my needs met and then some. It painfully isn’t, so I savored every second. It was a clinic on how a comedy show should work.

Everyone involved in the show did their jobs correctly, and the results were outstanding. It was a prime example of how good standup comedy can be when it works well, both as a business and a show. Everyone had fun, and there was enough money to go around at the end of the evening.

Jeremy Danley aka “The Mighty Jer Dog” is a comedian from Iowa that lived in Chicago for a long time. He’s always been able to find out of the way venues that have not tried comedy, and I commend him for his resourcefulness. Some of his venues are brutal, but sometimes they’re hot.

He found a true gem in Clinton, WI at a place called ‘Boxcars Pub & Grub’. I’ve worked there three times now, and every time has been better than the last. That’s due to the owner named Tim Pogorelski. He truly loves comedy and was in a band for years so he understands entertainment.

I can’t say enough good things about Tim or the venue, and he absolutely does it right. He does his shows on the first Wednesday of the month, and keeps them to once a month to make them a special event. He has a side room that’s set up with good sound and lighting that seats about 60.

That’s enough seats to make it worth his while, but also few enough so it always sells out. It’s a pleasure to work in a sold out room, and all the posters in the place had ‘SOLD OUT’ over my picture. How many times have I seen THAT in my career? Not nearly as many as I’d have liked.

Jer Dog trusts me to bring along any opening acts I may care to, or he said I could do all of the time and take all the money. That’s a great option, but I wanted to give stage time to people that I like and respect, and know could use it in front of a hot audience. I’m happy to share the wealth.

I chose to have two acts tonight, and both of them knocked it out of the park. Trevor Burke was first up, and he nailed it. He’s 12 years old, and his dad Joe had asked if I could get Trevor up on stage whenever possible. I’m always happy to help, and it was a fun adventure for them to have a show – on a school night no less. How cool would it have been for me to do comedy at that age?

Next up was Caryn Ruby. Caryn works as hard as anyone I know to polish her chops as both a comedienne and an actress. She lived in LA for years, but is back here helping her father with his real estate business. She really appreciates the stage time, and I like working with her whenever I can. She handles her business impeccably, and I learn from her every time we talk. It’s win/win.

The show was at 7:30, and that meant we were done just after 9pm. The crowd was as red hot as I remembered, and I hosted the show and brought up special guests Trevor and Caryn. That’s how they do it in Boston, and I always liked that format. Tim was all for it, and it was a big hit.

Absolutely everyone was happy at the end of the night, and we all got paid an amount we could live with – especially for a Wednesday night in January. This was a super way to kick off 2014.

Few would believe that Boxcars Pub &  Grub in Clinton, WI would have one of the best one nighter comedy shows around, but it totally does. Owner Tim Pogorelski is on the ball, and does it right.

Few would believe that Boxcars Pub & Grub in Clinton, WI would have one of the best one nighter comedy shows around, but it totally does. Owner Tim Pogorelski is on the ball, and does everything right. What a gig!

Jeremy Danley aka "The Mighty Jer Dog" is a comedian who finds venues to promote shows. He's a hustler, but in the best possible way. He's a terrific marketer, and I love working with him and for him anytime.

Jeremy Danley aka “The Mighty Jer Dog” is a comedian who finds his own venues to promote shows. He’s a hustler, and in the best possible way. He’s a terrific marketer, and I love working with and for him anytime.

12 year old comedy sensation Trevor Burke got to do comedy on a school night. How many 12 year olds can say THAT? He did great too. I'll be driving his limo some day - hopefully soon.

12 year old comedy sensation Trevor Burke got to do comedy on a school night. How many 12 year olds can say THAT? He did great too. I’ll be driving his limo some day – hopefully soon.

Caryn Ruby was on the show too. She works as hard at the business as anyone I've met in a long time. Her success is overdue, but on the way.

Caryn Ruby was on the show too. She works as hard at the business as anyone I know. Her national success is overdue, but on the way. Watch for her.

Sarge’s Tap

May 5, 2013

Thursday May 2nd, 2013 – Danville, IL

   Danville, IL happens to be the home town of show business brothers Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, actors Gene Hackman and Donald O’Connor, NFL football player Zeke Bratkowski and baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount. That’s quite an impressive lineup for a town of about 33,000 people.

   I had only passed through here to gas up and pee once or twice in all my travels, and never had I performed here until tonight when I worked a delightful joint called “Sarge’s Tap”. It ended up being a super positive experience, and I’m glad I came. Shows like this make it all worthwhile.

   This was a gig booked by fellow comedian Steve Sabo out of Toledo, OH. I’ve worked for him several times before, and quite frankly the shows can go either way. Sometimes they’re great like tonight, but other times they can degenerate into bloody verbal combat with boozed up goobers.

   I don’t blame Steve for that. He books mostly bar gigs to make some extra cabbage, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He busts his ass making posters for his gigs and he brings entertainment to places that normally wouldn’t have any. He works most of the gigs himself at first to get them going, then sends other comics through and takes a commission. That’s a smart business model.

   Anyone who accepts a booking from Steve knows – or at least they should – that anything may happen on a given night without logical reason, and one must prepare to expect the unexpected at all times. I remember working for him one night in Michigan when a ghastly she beast wouldn’t stop taking her t-shirt off and proudly flashing herself alternately between the audience and me.

   Normally I would greatly enjoy large breasts being jiggled my way, but this was the exception. They were large in and of themselves, but in comparison to her mammoth hind quarters they lost any and all sex appeal and just looked freakish. They got everyone’s attention the first time they came out, but by the time we’d all seen them a dozen times even the freak factor had worn off.

   That was my first experience working for Steve, and I must say it made me think twice about a return engagement but I never blamed him personally. He books bar gigs and that kind of stuff is par for the course. Some comedians spend their lives doing those kinds of gigs, but I’m not a fan. I did them in my early years to gain experience, and that I got. Now I do them just for the money.

   I happen to need money right now, so here I am. I’m glad to get this booking, as it fits perfectly with another I have tomorrow in Marion, OH for another comedian named Jeremy Danley. Steve and Jeremy are very similar in that they book quite a few rooms on their own, and good for them for doing it. They’re both honest guys hustling a buck. That’s what built the America we knew.

   Tonight’s show was an absolute sledgehammer. The opening act was a guy named Chris Smith out of the St. Louis area, and he’s been out there for years just like me. He’s a wonderful feature, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Usually, feature acts try to blow headliners off the stage so they can get booked back as a headliner and get paid more money. I understand the reasoning.

   Chris is a funny act, but his style is very easy to follow. He does a super job, and we’ve worked together before. He earns every penny of his pay, and I’d tour with him anytime. He’s a total pro, and the crowd loved him tonight. They loved me too, and the whole time I was on I was grateful to get work this week. The owner Wanda is very nice and said she wants me back. I hope I don’t need the money as badly then, but this is a place I would do again. Let’s see how tomorrow goes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

One Night Standing

November 8, 2012

Wednesday November 7th, 2012 – Clinton, WI

   With all the boring details that have to be looked after constantly and all the fires and potential fires that need to be put out, it can be all too easy to forget just how much fun comedy should be. Nights like tonight are a sweet reminder of why I have continued to stay in the game for so long.

I had a fantastic time in Clinton, WI of all places, and I wish every single one nighter could be even half this well run. Everything about this gig was on the money, and it all has to do with the people running it. I wish I could clone them to make every gig run as smoothly as this one does.

The place is called ‘Boxcar Pub & Grub’ and I worked here once before. I’m not exactly sure when, but it was maybe a little over a year ago. I was impressed with the entire operation then as I recall, but I was even more impressed tonight. This is a well run establishment and I love that.

I’ve been around so many mismanaged hell holes in my life that when something runs like it’s supposed to it screams out at me. There was a warm feeling of welcome from everyone from the time I walked in the door to the time I left, and I felt it last time as well. It’s not always that way.

The owner’s name is Tim Pogorelski and he’s a former musician that loves live entertainment of all kinds. He’s been a performer himself, so he knows how important promotion is. I thought he did a spectacular job last time, and it was even better tonight. He had a full house that paid a $10 cover on a Wednesday night in a bad economy in Clinton, WI – a town of probably 2500.

To his extreme credit, he knows his market and plays to them very well. He has done comedy shows on the first Wednesday of the month for a couple of years now, and has built an audience who looks forward to it and supports it. It would be all too easy to get greedy and try to stretch it to weekly shows, but that would burn it out in a hurry. Tim knows exactly what his market bears.

He maintains the perfect mix of promotion, frequency and quality of shows and that’s why he’s been able to last as long as he has. He pays a very fair wage – especially for a middle of the week show – but that allows him to get some very good acts which in turn keeps people coming back.

To make it even better all around, the opening act had to bail out at the last minute and I found out Jim McHugh was off and was willing to drive up and join me. That gave the audience a huge bonus as it was a double headliner kick ass show and then some. They got their money’s worth.

Tim was smart enough to know it was a break for him, but it was a break for Jim too. He pulled in a payday on a Wednesday, and I had a great opening act who got the crowd red hot for me and made my job easier. It was win/win/win, and Jim and I talked all the way home about how much fun it was and how we wished every one nighter could be run this well. It was a treat for us all.

Jeremy Danley is the booker of this gig, and he’s also a comedian. He knows what it’s like also so between him and Tim and Jim and me there were people in charge who had a clue as to how a show should be run correctly. I’d work with and for any of these guys at anytime and anywhere.