Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Agar’

Three Times A Kidder

February 28, 2010

Saturday February 27th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

“You’re On The Air!” starring Jerry’s Kidders performed live for the third time tonight at The Irish Heritage Center on the north side of Chicago. Even though 99.99999% of the planet, country, state or city couldn’t have cared any less – we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

We’re in a very difficult situation and it’s too bad, as there really is something with this concept. The show is funny, and I’m not saying that just because I’m in it. We hadn’t put a lot of time and effort into it since our last performance at the Beverly Arts Center, but it all fell together again as we started rehearsing. We ended up having our best show yet.

Too bad the circumstances weren’t the greatest. We had a lot to overcome, but we made up our minds we weren’t going to complain until after the show. We kept it all positive in a situation where it could have easily gotten ugly very quickly. I was proud of everyone.

There was a lot of miscommunication all around. When we arrived at the venue was the first time we discovered there wasn’t a light and sound technician, nor was there a way to do blackouts between scenes. Our show is written that way, so we were in quite a pickle.

Also, the stage was WAY smaller than we were expecting, and backstage availability to change costumes between scenes wasn’t available either. It was a major bomb on all of us and it would have been very easy to just can it and not do it at all. Tim Slagle, Ken Sevara and I calmly talked about it and decided this was what we had to work with so we’d do it.

That was a conscious decision we all made as a group, and nobody raised their voices or whined about it after that. Jerry Agar was out of town all week filling in on a radio station in Toronto so he can keep his house, so nobody can fault him for that. He showed up later and we all decided we were going to pull off a show no matter what, and we actually did.

The room we were in was gorgeous, and for a standup show it would have been stellar. I’d still love to do a standup show in there at some point, but for our play it was a difficult fit. The lighting wasn’t made for what we were doing and all around it was an adjustment we all had to make on the fly. It wasn’t convenient, but our options were extremely few.

The performance part ended up being really fun. We had our fans Fard Muhammad and John Vass and precious few others, and we appreciated them all. Those who did show up were great laughers, and they rolled with the circumstances and we ended up having fun.

I couldn’t be any more grateful for the fans we do have, and it’s a pleasure to be with an outstanding group of guys to work with in Jerry, Ken and Tim. For only our third show, it was not without it’s moments. We ad libbed some lines and we all felt ourselves growing.

Still, the reality is I don’t know how much longer we can keep doing these shows. This is getting to be an expensive hobby. We all took off comedy work to do this and nobody will be getting rich this week. Fun is fun, and this was, but we’ve got to turn a buck soon.

Radio Karma Lives!

February 11, 2010

Wednesday February 10th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

I’ve been involved in standup comedy, professional wrestling and radio in my lifetime, and by far it’s radio that has had the biggest number of snakes. For some reason, there are backstabbing maggots in that business who are always looking to get by at the expense of others and they don‘t care who gets burned. I’ve seen it in comedy too, but not like radio.

Life is difficult enough without having a certain few malicious bung holes adding to the degree of difficulty, but there always seem to be a few who succeed. They always seem to show up at a low point in time, and instead of trying to bring healing they bring napalm.

One name that comes immediately to mind is Eric ‘Mancow’ Muller. He’s a loudmouth on the air, but never really said anything. When Howard Stern made being a ‘shock jock’ fashionable, Mancow copied him and didn’t do a very good job, but there were slots that needed filling because radio is a business of copying success and redoing it elsewhere.

Mancow made a lot of money for many years, even though everyone I knew who was in the business couldn’t stand him on air or off. He was brash and rude and treated people as if he was better than them, and just became a total pain in the ass to deal with. But, he had those almighty ratings, and that meant he was able to keep up the illusion for a long time.

When I worked at The Loop in Chicago, the station was sold to the same company that Mancow was working for, Emmis Communications. We were forced to go to a ‘Welcome to Emmis’ party and it was a horrific experience. We all felt like step children and it what made it worse was it was on their turf. We were in their building and it was humiliating.

The new GM introduced Mancow who pompously got up and said a few words and we felt even worse when he came up to us afterward and allowed us to kiss his ring. Nobody likes to be talked down to, and that’s exactly what he did. We knew our days were few.

A few weeks later when those fine folks at Emmis blew us out the door the week before Christmas, Mancow went on the air and apparently started bashing us mercilessly with no real reason for it. We were already gone, and the threat to his little babblefest was over.

I never listened to it because I never found his verbal diarrhea worth wasting my ears on, but I heard it from a lot of people so I don’t doubt it happened. I know my partners Spike and Max didn’t appreciate it very much and there really was no reason for it except spite.

I remember mentioning it to our then ‘boss’ at Emmis, who only served as that to blow us out the door, and he just laughed and said “Hey, that’s ‘Cow.” I wanted to jump over his desk and strangle him, but I needed the severance pay. He was fooled by the illusion.

Spike and Max and I got boned, and it changed all of our lives for the worse. We’re still recovering from it several years later, but we’re all still in there slugging and living life as best we can. We all resented how Mancow’s antics went unpunished, but we moved on.

Then, conservative talk radio became the hot thing and Mancow once again lacking any vision of his own decided to copy that trend and try to ride Rush Limbaugh’s coat tails so he stumbled in that direction. He’d blown his morning show with Emmis and was trying a new direction. As fate would have it, he ended up replacing Jerry Agar’s shift on WLS.

We’d all heard some rumors about how he got that shift, but nobody would confirm any of them. What was confirmed was that Jerry was out of the dream job he’d spent years of his life working to get. He had ratings and seemed to be on his way, but he too ended up a victim of the Mancow’s mean spirit. Mancow bashed him on the air too, and it got ugly.

Jerry said he called him and they talked about it, but then Mancow denied that and said all kinds of things that apparently weren’t true. I have no reason to doubt Jerry’s word, as we’ve known each other over twenty years. The whole thing stinks, and it’s a very similar stench to the one that happened years ago at the Loop. And again, none of it was needed.

I’ve talked about my competitors in radio on the air quite a bit. It’s a strategy. It’s like a professional wrestler trying to drum up business for an upcoming match. I’ve blurted out all kinds of things over the years, but it was part of the game. I had no malice toward any of the people personally, it was an act. And, in the end, I lost. They had jobs, I got fired.

This is not the same thing. I’m not the only one who has a Mancow story and neither is Jerry. Time after time he would get a little too personal, and it was ALWAYS when there was no chance of retaliation. Jerry and I were already fired. There’s no reason to do that.

I guess I blame the stations to some extent, but as a human being there’s no reason to be that damn mean spirited, especially to those who can’t fight back. Jerry got screwed over big time, and he still hasn’t recovered from it. He’s piecing each month together and has a family and a mortgage, just like my partners Spike and Max did at the Loop. Life is hard.

All that being said, I heard the news today that Mancow was fired after his shift at WLS and I can’t say it made me sad, even a little. I know I shouldn’t rejoice in the downfall of others, but he’s a guy that’s had it coming for a long time, not only in my opinion but SO many others in radio who have had to endure his cocky prattle for so long. Karma lives!

I don’t wish the guy bad, but I absolutely DO wish him to have to feel what it’s like to have to struggle to pay the mortgage every month and have the experience the stress of a wife and kids breathing down his neck wondering when and where that next gig will be.

Mancow is a mean spirited bully, just as my father was. At one time, my old man was a  big mean evil ogre that everyone was afraid of. Then, he died a shriveled up pathetic loser and there weren’t enough people who cared to have a funeral. He’s gone and isn’t missed.

I doubt if very many people are taking Mancow out for dinner tonight to lament his fate, and as for me I wouldn’t piss on his teeth if his mouth was on fire. I have enough faults of my own to work on and I’m not claiming perfection, but this news was LONG overdue.

A Hectic Day Off

January 15, 2010

Wednesday January 13th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Kenosha, WI

Today was supposed to be my only day off this week, but I ended up putting in a sixteen hour work day. How did that happen? I’m about ready to drop from exhaustion but I have to be right back up tomorrow morning to pick up Jerry Agar and drive to the Beverly Arts Center to begin final rehearsals for our play “You’re On The Air“. I’m running on fumes.

The new car smell of 2010 has worn off and now it’s just another year. Two weeks of it are gone already, and I feel myself getting totally overwhelmed. I’m in this play way over what I thought it would be, and fun or not it’s draining all my free time. I didn’t expect it to be this all inclusive, but it is. Today I went to Milwaukee to scour some thrift stores.

I know thrift stores very well, and can usually find what I need if I look hard enough for it. Usually I look for books or audio programs, but not today. I was trying to find costume pieces to go with the characters I play and it was a real challenge. I did it on Monday with Chicago junk shops and today I covered as many in Milwaukee as I could. It was a chore.

I know my way around Milwaukee and it’s thrift circuit quite well, but spending the day doing it is an energy drainer. I walked up and down row after row of junk seeing if I could find anything that jumped out at me that would fit into the show. That takes concentration and determination to keep focused but I hung in there and did it. This is our big weekend.

I was exhausted after that but I needed to get to Gateway Tech in Kenosha to appear in  the film “Dead Air” by Mark Gumbinger. He’s the director and co-writer and we’ve had him on our WLIP Mothership Connection radio show a few times. He’s been asking me to be in a film for a while now, and today was the day. It’s only my second movie role.

Mark has done a lot of directing of both feature films and documentaries and he’s a real pro. The schedule changed a couple of times, which is to be expected. He’s trying to get a big project done on a small budget, and if anyone can relate to that math problem, it’s me.

I was running a little late, but so was the shoot. That’s also to be expected. I had a much bigger part than I imagined, and quite frankly I hadn’t memorized any lines. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I just showed up willing to do what I needed to do. We ended up doing quite a bit of filming and I didn’t get out of there until almost midnight, but it went well.

I played a ‘stern but likeable’ radio station manager. Do any of those exist? I would bet I’d see a two headed albino leprechaun with webbed feet riding a unicorn before I’d see a ‘stern but likeable’ radio station manager. That was a challenge, but I think I pulled it off. Mark was very easy to work with and seemed happy with what we did. I’m glad I did it.

This is all a lot of unexpected effort I didn’t expect to be putting in, but I think it’s very worthwhile so I’m doing it anyway. It’s like a quarterback calling an audible at the line of scrimmage when the defense changes. I have an opportunity to gain some experience and learn different things so I’m investing time and energy while the situations are available.

Working At Our Play

January 14, 2010

Tuesday January 12th, 2010 – Cary, IL

This ‘play’ stuff is anything but. We’ve worked harder as a group on this one project for no guaranteed return than just about anything else I can ever remember doing. This isn’t a play, this is a WORK – and lots of it. I’m learning a lot and having fun, but it’s an effort.

Even though we’re all basically doing bits from our comedy acts, they’ve been divided up into chunks and spread out over the show in the form of characters which we each are working to bring to life. We’ve all done our material as standup comedy. This is different.

Since we’re doing a show about talk radio, the characters we are playing will either be a live in studio guest with Jerry, or a caller. Each of us is playing several characters and it’s a real challenge to define each one clearly with just a jacket, wig, hat or some sunglasses.

We’ve been gradually putting it all together, and everyone sees the mammoth effort that it has taken to get even this far. We haven’t even done our first real show yet and we have already updated and rewritten and improved the whole show countless times. We improve and upgrade something absolutely every time we get together, and nobody thinks it sucks.

We’re all professional entertainers and have been on stage or in front of a live mike for a lifetime. We won’t freeze up and draw a total blank, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be blowing lines and/or forgetting cues. That’s why we’re working so hard to get it smooth.

Vicki Quade has been a real help in guiding us in a theatrical direction. She has a lot of experience in not only putting plays together, but getting them up and running in theaters. I really don’t think we could have gotten close to this far without her, and everyone in the group knows it. This truly has been a group effort and everyone involved has had a part.

We went through another rehearsal at Jerry’s house today, but mostly it was about what each of us was wearing for each scene and where we’d be standing on stage. We did run a few scenes, but not the actual dialogue from top to bottom. We only did a few transitions.

I for one am absolutely sick of my lines by now. I’ll be fine once an audience is there to hear them, but reciting them to each other is a complete drag. I like to be fresh and wing it whenever I can, but the other guys are much more regimented. I have to be very respectful of that, and I try to be even though it’s torture for me. This is a team effort, not my show.

I’ve always read where Jackie Gleason never liked to rehearse for “The Honeymooners“ and just went out and riffed it. He’d apparently drive the rest of the crew nuts, and I never wanted to do that even though I do enjoy working fresh and completely in the moment.

If nothing else, one thing I do have is a new perspective on just how difficult this whole entertainment thing is, at least to pull off correctly. Standup is supposed to be the hardest, but all of us are experienced in it so we can handle that. Doing this play was hard, but we all rolled up our sleeves and put in our time. I sure hope the audience likes it. We’ll see.