Posts Tagged ‘Jim McHugh’

Grandiose Visions

September 15, 2012

Thursday September 13th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL/Hoffman Estates, IL

   Every day I’m plugging along, trying to do my very best. I’ve been humping it extra hard lately on a number of projects, and I’m actually making some noticeable progress. But I think I’ll need about six more lifetimes and a staff to get everything I want to accomplish running how I want it.

I’ve got these grandiose visions of what I’d like to be doing, and then I get in my beater Chevy Cavalier with the ‘URANUS 2’ license plates and watch people’s looks of amusement in my rear view mirror as I drive around running errands and wondering if my ship is ever going to come in.

Everything I’ve got going is hanging on by a shoestring right now, and that shoestring is sitting on top of a house of cards that was built outside on a three legged picnic table during a hurricane. I don’t feel any stability anywhere, nor do I feel any support from anyone who has any influence and can help move my cause along. That’s frustrating to the point of sadness, but what can I do?

I can keep working, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m getting up early and staying up late, and my days are built around how much I can accomplish doing something positive. Between keeping up with my exercise program and answering calls and emails, it doesn’t leave much time for a life.

As much as I’d love to have a family of my own, I just don’t see it happening in this lifetime. If it was going to happen it would have happened by now, but it just wasn’t in the cards. It’s getting pretty late now, and having kids would be a stretch. I’d likely be dead by the time they turned 21.

I’ve had to spend so much time navigating through the treacherous waters in my own life that I never had time to be ‘normal’. I’m not thrilled about it, but who do I complain to? God? That’s a whole other issue I’m struggling a lot with lately. I just don’t see there being one like I once did.

Whatever is out there or up there or behind there or wherever he or she or it may be, I’m numb to it at this point. There’s enough to worry about trying to pay my bills every month that I’m not able to dig very deep on it. I don’t care if there is or isn’t any pie in the sky, because all any of us have is today. My yesterdays were pretty rough, but that’s over. I’m trying to enjoy my todays.

Today I worked very hard cranking out five – yes, FIVE – articles I’ve been meaning to write for years about starting out in standup comedy. I’m going to use them as pass outs in my comedy classes, and I also started another blog at www.maxwellmethodcomedy.wordpress.com/  that I’m going to use to write articles that will hopefully be able to help aspiring newbies on the way up.

To me, these are the only kinds of things I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Mopping or mowing or hauling or cleaning doesn’t interest me in the least. I’m not above working hard, but I want to do what I want to do. What I did today will hopefully help others long after I’ve croaked.

On a pleasant note, the Green Bay Packers stomped the Chicago Bores and I watched the game at Jim McHugh’s house with Max Bumgardner who was in town training for a new job. Any day the Bears lose and I can share it with friends is a good day. Getting my work done is even better.

Circle Of Friends

September 8, 2012

Thursday September 6th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Oak Park, IL/St. Charles, IL

   All kinds of surprises today but each one was wonderfully pleasant. First, I got the call to fill in on the morning show on WNTA in Rockford, IL. Jim Stone often calls on short notice, but that’s not a problem. I always try to do it if I can, as it both helps Jim and gives me on air practice time.

It’s kind of like the bat signal. I never know when I’ll get the call, but when it comes I’m ready to drop what I’m doing and show up at a moment’s notice. Hopefully it builds good karma in the long run, and it really is worthwhile as far as building talk host chops. I am steadily improving.

Today was a perfect example. I was on from 6-10am and I didn’t have a guest in the 6 o’clock hour on purpose. One, I wouldn’t call my friends on short notice to be on that early, and two – it forced me to learn the craft of filling the time by myself. With commercials and news, the hours consist of four segments of about 9 minutes each. That’s a lot of time to babble alone in a room.

The first time I did it, I was really intimidated. I didn’t expect to be by myself, as I’ve become used to being the smart ass sidekick that reacts to everything. Being the source is not the same at all, and I had to make a big adjustment the first time I did it. Now, it’s no sweat. I can handle it.

I made it through that first hour with no problems at all, and even had stuff left over I could’ve talked about if I needed to. It may not have been riveting radio, but it wasn’t some halfwit off the street embarrassing himself and the radio station either. There has been significant improvement.

In the 7 o’clock hour I had Jeff Schneider on as my telephone sidekick. We’re used to riffing at length from doing ‘The Unshow’ podcasts, and he really is an interesting guy with a much better grasp of current events than I have. I’m pretty out there with the stuff I like, but he’s into subject matter more palatable to the public. Talking about George Clinton and Uranus wouldn’t be a fit.

I also had comedian Tim Walkoe on to talk about the Democratic National Convention. Tim is very passionate to say the least, and really knows his stuff politically and can voice his viewpoint in an entertaining way. It fit perfectly with what should have been on the radio on a day like this.

Dale Irvin came on the next hour, and he’s great too. Dale is a ‘professional summarizer’ and is in the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. He’s always entertaining on the air and did it on short notice which I totally appreciate. Dale is an amazing marketer too. He’s got books and a free weekly humor video service called ‘The Friday Funnies’.  Find Dale at www.daleirvin.com.

After the radio show I received a call from Jim McHugh. Jim and I have been on WNTA many times together as a team, but the budget only allows for one these days and splitting the pay isn’t good for anyone. It’s not that much to begin with, but I don’t do it strictly for the cash. I enjoy it.

I haven’t seen Jim in a while, and we hung out at his house for a couple of hours to catch up on a lot of things. Jim is trying to promote comedy show fundraiser events with a group he’s calling ‘The Chicago Comedy All Stars’, and I totally think there’s a market for what he’s trying to do.

The website is www.chicagocomedyallstars.com and is done by Mark Huelskamp who is doing my King of Uranus website. Jim has been really great in pushing me to get the site up, but trying to make time for everything just isn’t easy. I’ve dropped the ball, but only because I’ve had to do what I can to just stay afloat. There’s no excuse for either of us, and we know it. We need action.

It was good to hang out and talk about both of these projects. I’m helping him with what he is doing and he’s helping me. Together, we’re both struggling to survive but at least we’ve got each other’s back. Jim has two kids in college, so his problems are different than mine but both have a need to make a living and that was our focus. It was a productive session but we also had a blast.

After that it was on to Oak Park, IL to visit Cara Carriveau, my former co-worker at The Loop. Cara did the midday shift when I was on the morning show, and we got along very well. ALL of us did, and that’s why it’s so frustrating we’re still not there. What an outstanding staff that was assembled by Greg Solk including Cara, Seaver, Byrd, Mark Zander and Jimmy Novack. Wow.

All of those people were easy to get along with and very good on the air as well. I loved being a part of that team, and most of us still stay in touch at least once in a while. I hadn’t seen Cara in way too long, and she invited me over for dinner with her and her kids who I also enjoy seeing.

Cara is a total pro, and I can learn from how thorough she is. She’s been doing a podcast a long time before it was cool, and I was her first guest. She interviews rock stars mainly, but she asked if I wouldn’t mind being her first interview to work the bugs out and of course I had to say yes.

It’s called ‘Cara’s Basement’, and it really is recorded in her basement in a studio she had built. She said the interview we did still gets hits, and that along with all the others can be heard at her website www.carasbasement.com. She does a fantastic job with it, and has had some big names.

I can learn from Cara’s way of handling her business. She’s extremely sharp, and really keeps her focus not only on her career but on her family too. Being a single mom is brutal enough, but add working in major market radio to that and it’s about as rough as rough gets. But she nails it.

Cara does the midday shift at 101.9 WTMX ‘The Mix’ in Chicago and does it extremely well. I always thought she sounded great at The Loop, and still does on The Mix. She’s major market all the way, and one of my very favorite people. This was a day I got to spend hanging with the best.

My final stop was Zanies in St. Charles at the Pheasant Run Resort. I don’t know why I had an urge to go there, but that little voice inside told me to go and am I glad I did. I didn’t have a clue who was there this week, but to my pleasant surprise it was Eddie Brill. Eddie was the booker of the David Letterman show for years, and still is the regular audience warm up act. What a peach.

Eddie is just a flat out nice man. He knows what it’s like to be a comedian, and is very kind to everyone who wants to be on the Letterman show – who is everyone on Earth. Rick Gieser is the P.R. person for Zanies and he was there too, and we ended up hanging out for an hour afterward exchanging stories and talking sports. I wish every day was like this. I have some super friends.

Marketing Mistakes

April 20, 2010

Sunday April 18th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

I’m still riding high from the shows this weekend, especially last night in Michigan. I’m very thankful for Jim McHugh including me on these shows, but I’m also angry at myself for being such a poor marketer for so long. I don’t know why that bothers me so much all of a sudden, but it totally does. I’ve screwed myself out of thousands of legitimate dollars.

There’s nothing illegal about selling merchandise after shows, and I have never tried to hide a penny of it from the IRS or anything like that. I report everything, and that way I’m able to sleep at night with a clear conscience. What’s keeping me awake is that I’ve been such a slacker in getting products made for sale. I can do a lot better and I intend to do it.

A CD or t-shirt is not necessarily the best product, but people expect it at the very least. What can I do to make either one of those stand out from everyone else’s? First off, I can package the CD to look like I have a record deal. My last one stood out and this new one does too, even though it’s not as colorful as the first. It looks like a professional product.

Having several available is also a good plan. One CD is hard enough to produce but two or three push it over the top. I’ll have at least two by this fall, and that will be a huge plus in establishing credibility. I also want to get some in stores and on websites that sell other comedy products. CDs are dying out, but something will replace them and I‘ll be ready.

A book of some sort would be great too. I remember Jeff Foxworthy’s first book about rednecks, and it was jokes with cartoons illustrating some of them. That’s simple enough to do, and I’ve got a nice “You Know You’ve Got Bad Luck When…” book ready to go.

This is the way I need to start thinking, and should have been doing it twenty years ago. I guess I thought about it a lot, I just never executed most of those thoughts. Now, it’s the perfect time to do it as everyone else seems to be scattering in every direction. I’m ready to do what I should have already been doing, and that’s making the most of what I’ve got.

‘Mr. Lucky’ is a hell of a comedy persona. Lots of people think they have bad luck and can totally relate to it. If I can capture the ‘something-est’ title of being THE one with the worst luck, I can start marketing that a lot better than I have been. It might not just be in a standup comedy arena either. There might be a comic strip in there to make it even better.

Whatever the case, I’m responsible for creating something to sell. I put together my act and have been selling that all over North America for over 25 years. That’s ok, but I made the mistake of thinking that was the only way to do it. I missed out on adding t-shirts, CD and DVDs, books and who knows what else I could have thought of to the mix. I blew it.

Most other comedians I know lost out as well. VERY few have the foresight and vision to create products beyond the actual act itself, but those that did have done very well on a financial basis. Jeff Foxworthy is one of them and I respect him totally, as I do others like James Gregory and even Larry The Cable Guy. They put the business into show business.

As Good As It Gets

April 18, 2010

Saturday April 17th, 2010 – Hudson, MI

Two for two on the tour, but this one was special. Sometimes everything just works out right and rather than try to figure it out, the best thing to do is enjoy it. The entire evening was an overwhelming success, and all of us enjoyed it. We were in our element tonight.

All the stars aligned and for whatever reason the audience was into what we were doing and I could tell we were going to kick major ass from the first thirty seconds Jim McHugh was on stage to host the show. The vibe was in sync and when that happens, life is sweet.

We had the perfect show tonight. Jim McHugh was the host and James Wesley Jackson went on next. James is one of THE sweetest people I have ever met, and is always upbeat and positive. I have a special affinity for him because he used to open for George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic for years and always has interesting inside memories to share.

I gave him a copy of my new CD and he was blown away by the Pedro Bell cover art on it. If anyone is hip to how cool that is, it’s James. He got it right away and really loves the fact I’m such a big fan of the group. James has always been one of my favorites. He’s just so easygoing and positive all the time. I can learn a lot from him in many ways, and I do.

Jim likes him too and books him whenever he can. The last time the three of us worked together was an Italian restaurant in Cincinnati and we blew the roof off that joint. It was a Christmas party as I remember, and they loved all three of us. It happened again tonight.

James has a very unique style on stage. It’s similar to a Steven Wright in that it’s clever one liners and short bits strung together. When it’s working, it’s a treat to watch. Tonight it was working perfectly, and it’s also a fantastic setup for me. James sits on a stool and is very deliberate and then I come up there and pound them with my machine gun delivery.

After the show people lined up to tell us how much they enjoyed us, and we all thanked them sincerely. The three of us have been around long enough to know when it’s good or bad, and this was definitely good. Those people were as good as any audience anywhere.

This is why we all got into comedy in the first place. Yes, money is nice and everyone’s dream is to play the big rooms but the energy from an audience on a night like tonight is a drug more powerful than heroin. So what if we weren’t in Vegas? This was a super night.

I also sold ten CDs over the two nights. That might not be huge, but it’s income to help pay for the expense I had in getting them made and a also very painful reminder of all the income I’ve lost out on by not having them all this time. It’s probably been at least a year and I’m ashamed of myself for not having anything to sell. I won’t let that happen again.

James and Jim didn’t have anything to sell. People really enjoyed these shows, and now I’ve got ten seeds out there to hopefully grow my name. I realized my mistake but at least I fixed it. A lot of comics I know never do. Nights like tonight need to be capitalized on.
This is the part of the business that’s so difficult to grasp for some people. After a good show, we are in a euphoric mood and want it to last as long as possible. Most comedians I know enjoy that time in different ways. Some have cocktails, others chase women or hang out with the other comics on the show, still others have been known to go the drug route.

What I don’t think most comedians realize is that the audience is in a euphoric mood as well, and in perfect position to make an impulse buy on their way out if there is a product for sale at a reasonable price. The more products available, the better chance of making a sale. It’s very smart business and even if sales are mediocre, they do add up eventually.

I still remember getting lectured about this by James Gregory years ago. James is one of the best marketers I’ve ever seen, and I have nothing but respect for him. He’s an Atlanta based comedian who is king in the southeast and he bills himself as ‘The funniest man in America’. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter in the least. The perception is there.

James has t-shirts, sweat shirts, baseball caps, books, CDs, videos, and combinations of all of the above. His website is http://www.funniestman.com and I’m sure he’s got more things for sale because I haven’t checked it in a while. James Gregory knows show BUSINESS.

I’ve been weakly mediocre at best, and the only one to blame is me. I am making a solid conscious decision right now to improve my business skills dramatically. There’s no good reason I haven’t had anything to sell either in person or on my website for this long. I only hurt myself by doing that, and I’m in enough pain already. There’s just no excuse. Period.

Maybe it’s a self esteem thing and deep down some of us don’t think we deserve it. I’ve never enjoyed hawking merchandise, but most times I never hawked it. I just mentioned it was available and if people wanted something they could come get it. And they often did.

I remember James telling me that it’s a worthwhile expense to have as much to offer as possible, as eventually someone will buy it. If I’m doing shows anyway, why not have the largest available inventory possible to give people the most choice? I can’t argue with that and why should I? He’s right. Way more comedians than not never master the marketing.

I’m not talking about having one crappy t-shirt or home made CD or DVD available for sale. I’m talking about taking time to have quality merchandise made up and put in a nice package and offered at the end of a show. That takes a lot of effort, and most never do it.

Most comedians now have websites, but that’s not the same. The impulse buying power after a killer show like we had tonight is priceless. They just saw a red hot performance in person and the endorphins are still surging through their body. THAT’S the time to sell.

I’ve been missing out on this opportunity far too long now and that’s going to stop right this minute. I didn’t have to hawk the ten CDs I sold this weekend, and in fact the people thanked me for letting them buy one. They wanted it, and I had it available. It’s a business deal, and everyone wins. It’s taken longer than I thought, but I’m finally getting smarter.

Entertainment Evolution

April 18, 2010

Friday April 16th, 2010 – Holiday City, OH

The comedy business seems to be evolving similarly to America itself. What once was a perpetually proud powerhouse is now only a shell of what it was, but most are proceeding as if nothing’s wrong and nothing’s changed and they assume it’s going to right itself and life will be Hershey bars and Archie comics once again. I don’t see that happening at all.

I don’t want be pessimistic, but I am extremely concerned. The problems with America are way over my head and not in my jurisdiction. I’m not a politician and never wanted to be, but it sure seems like things are getting out of hand. I don’t trust the people in power.

Maybe things were never perfect, but they were a lot simpler thirty years ago. Now I’m starting to sound like my grandparents, but it’s true. I remember the gas lines of the 1970s and the recession and all that went with it, but times were different. There were still ways to make a living, and there were factory jobs here where middle class people could work.

There seemed to be a lot more structure then, and even when times did get rough, it was a predictable cycle and it would always get better eventually. Now, it seems to be anarchy and nobody can predict the future more than a few months in the future. It’s a crapshoot.

Comedy is not what it once was either. It used to be a wonderful way to earn a living for those who could handle the constant gypsy lifestyle. There was a structure and a hierarchy and people would work toward something. Now, it seems like everyone is for themselves.

Maybe they were always for themselves, but there was more of a foundation set as to an actual plan of how to do it. There were circuits to work where one could develop an act to sell to better bookers of better circuits and eventually television and movies. That was the plan, and a lot of people caught breaks. Now, it seems like nobody has any kind of vision.

Everyone and their grandmother’s proctologist thinks they’re a comedian and has all the same access to Facebook everyone else does, and the good acts get lost in the mix. I don’t see that changing any time soon, and like it or not this is how the business is developing.

Jim McHugh is trying to book his own shows as “The Chicago Comedy All Stars” and I respect him for doing it. He’s going out and selling shows to groups for fundraisers and it isn’t easy. He’s been great to work with and I support what he’s doing. He’s fighting back at the insanity of having to chase bookers down and taking his destiny into his own hands.

This weekend he booked a mini tour in Ohio and Michigan. Tonight we were in a small town called Holiday City, OH which I’d never heard of before. We did a fundraiser night for a basketball team in a Ramada Inn and it went very well. The people loved the show.

I wouldn’t have the patience to book shows like this but Jim has been able to do a great job putting these together. I’m extremely grateful for the work, but I’m also a solid act for him to count on to bring it home. This is a win/win all the way, and tonight was a success.

Life Is A Glitch

March 30, 2010

Sunday March 28th, 2010 – Novi, MI/Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

Everything in my life is rapidly descending into chaos, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about any of it. It started with my computer that’s been giving me utter fits. It won’t allow me to sign on line and it says I’ve got viruses. I thought I had protection against that, but it’s not working apparently. If I can’t get online, that cripples me as far as my business life goes.

Luckily, I stayed in a fantastic Holiday Inn and Suites that had not one but a whole row of computers available for guests to use. If ever I could use one it’s now, but that doesn’t clean out the viruses on mine. If I have to buy a new computer it will really kick me in the bank roll right when I don’t need it. I have a CD at the printer to pay for and taxes as well.

I have to pay my accountant, and I’m afraid to even open the envelope with the total bill from my visit to the hospital a few weeks ago to have my knee looked at. My car’s getting ready to turn 186,000 miles and even though it’s running pretty good at the moment it just may decide to blow up in my face at any time. I’ve had to deal with that more than twice.

I know, I’m not supposed to dwell on the negative, but this is just reality. Things in life go wrong, and it becomes a timing thing. Yes, I know I could have been a whole lot better with my finances, but I wasn’t. I’m in a pickle right now, but it won’t take a whole lot for me to turn it around completely. I’m setting myself up for a chance to score in a big way.

It’s been years of paying dues to get myself in this position and I don’t want to ruin it at this crucial time. Computers can be fixed, but if I lose the data again it will be completely unnecessary. I’ve had that happen WAY too many times in the past and know what that’s like. I’ve built it all back up again and have all kinds of stuff that would kill me to lose it.

Jim McHugh and I caravanned it from Michigan to Chicago. He’s a great friend and is like the big brother I never had. He talks sense and keeps me grounded in many ways as I try to deal with my various situations. Hopefully I’m able to be a friend to him in return. I know he means well ,and we make each other laugh at times when we both need it most.

I made it back to Chicago to do a radio segment with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN at 5pm. I don’t see that project going anywhere right now and that’s very frustrating. Jerry isn’t full time there and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever be in the future either. That doesn’t help us at a time when we all could use at least a little stability in our lives. I think we may be done.

I don’t have the time or energy to keep doing half ass willy nilly appearances at the drop of a hat on short notice. Fun is fun, and we have lots of it, but the cost is getting to be way too much with no signs of a payoff any time soon. We have to get ourselves more defined in our own mind so we know what we’re selling. Nobody seems to be buying who we are.

The Mothership Connection radio show in Kenosha is going to be changing too. One of our co-hosts Diane asked for some time off and I can’t fault her for that. She’s got a lot of things on her plate right now. I get that. I do too. My main red flag is with the computer.

Looking Down The Road

March 12, 2010

Thursday March 11th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

People have been teasing me all day about having gout, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a pleasant alternative to having to get knee surgery I couldn’t pay for right now so a couple of jokes at my expense are no big deal. Bring it on. I’ll start worrying when I get leprosy.

The fact remains, I’m getting older and I feel it. Mentally, I’ve always been significantly older than my actual age. Even as a kid, most of my friends were older than me and that’s still the case. People I hang around the most like Jim McHugh, Marc Schultz, Bill Gorgo, Bert Haas, Jerry Agar and all the Kidders are all at least a couple of years older than me.

Allegedly, Pisces is the astrological sign that signifies the old souls. I’ve been told many times I’m one, but who knows if any of that’s true? I am who I am, but even as a kid I felt out of place in this life. I still do, no matter how hard I’ve tried to find a place for myself.

I’m starting to head into the final stages, and there’s no guarantee how long that will be. It could be thirty years, thirty days or thirty minutes so I thought about what I should start to do with the rest of my life to achieve the smartest and most productive results possible.

What really hit home today was that I need to start cranking out products and keep it up until I’m out of ideas or out of breath, whichever comes first. I’ve got a full 25 years in as a touring comedian along with an off and on 20 in the radio business. I also have 15 years in as a comedy teacher, so that’s a lot of different life experience on which to draw from.

I paid my dues and learned my crafts, but now it’s time to take that and put it into things I can pass on to others. I want to do things that benefit people long after I’m gone, even if I can’t be there to see it. I don’t know why it’s important to me, but for some reason it is.

No matter how hard I try to figure out the meaning of life, the less of a solid answer I’m getting. At least I’m getting some kind of an idea of where I want to go, but I look around at life in general and I see the majority of people stumbling through it with no inner drive or direction other than to get drunk, laid and party. There doesn’t seem to be much else.

This world is full of idiots, and I don’t know a nicer way of saying it. If there is a God, I wonder if that was intentional? There are a comparative few who try to make the most of whatever talents they’ve been given, but the majority of humans aren’t worth the trouble.

Alexander Hamilton said “The masses are asses” and that was in 1790. I haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement since then. Yes, there are a lot of wonderful people around but they’re way outnumbered by the herd of halfwits that keep NASCAR and rap in business.

I don’t want to be so cynical, but the picture gets clearer every day. My grandfather was a sharp cookie and much the same way and it feels like I’m becoming him a little bit more every day. He was hilarious, kind and smart, but also had a dark side. He died unfulfilled, and I don’t want that to be me. I want to squeeze out every last bit of potential I have left.

Rockford Rolling

February 13, 2010

Thursday February 10th, 2010 – Rockford, IL

I might not be getting paid a dime to be on the radio these days, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Exactly the opposite. The reason I keep showing up is because it IS fun, and that should count for something. When radio is being done correctly, there’s an electric energy that bounces off the walls of the studio. It’s different than standup, but it’s still addictive.

Today I was back on with my friends ‘Stone and Double T’ in Rockford, IL on WXRX, ‘The X’ – 104.9. I love being on with those guys, as they both understand how good radio works. They let it grow organically, and there’s never any pressure. I go in there and they let me riff, trusting that I’ll have something either funny or interesting to say. I love that.

Those guys have always treated me with respect, and I totally appreciate it. Double T’s name is Terry, and he emailed and asked if I wanted to come in and hang out on the air. I hadn’t been in for a while and it’s always flattering to be asked back. Both those guys are secure in themselves enough to let their guests have the spotlight, and that makes it easy.

The funny part is, their station is the Bob and Tom station in Rockford. Jim Stone has a relationship with most of the Bob and Tom staff, and he said he’s tried to bring my name up a few times to see why they’re so angry at me, and has been rewarded with dirty looks.

It really is almost laughable at this point. Whatever I did is apparently still an issue and I guess I’m still banned from their show. Forever. I wish I knew exactly what it is I did to make them that pissed off, so I know what to avoid. I said I was sorry then, and I meant it. I’m sorry now too, but I guess that’s not good enough. I’m on their list and I can’t get off.

If Stone and Double T were in Bob and Tom’s position, I’d be a big star in 200 markets across the country, and a millionaire. Instead, I get to go on in Rockford, any time I want. Still, I’m flattered. I’ll show up when they ask. They’re both great guys, and sincere too.

I really do feel bad about the Bob and Tom thing, but what else can I do about it? I said I was sorry, and they rejected it. That’s life. It’s like Jackie Mason’s banishment from The Ed Sullivan Show or any number of other showbiz grudges. This is how it can play out.

I will do what I can with what I have, wherever I am. Today it was Rockford, and it was totally worth the trip. I practiced promoting Uranus Factory Outlet and the guys loved the concept. They played around with it, and I got a chance to practice in a safe environment.

Jim McHugh rode out there with me, and he’s been especially helpful recently. He said he’s going to jump in my face and make me focus on this project, and he totally has. It’s a godsend, as I’m always all over the place. He’s helping me stay focused and I need that.

It’s always easier to help others. It’s helping one’s self that seems to be the hardest. Jim has been a real friend by doing this, and I absolutely see improvement by him doing it. I’ll  pay him back by doing all I can to help him too. That’s what friends do. Today was good.

There’s Life On Uranus!

February 4, 2010

Wednesday February 3rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Milwaukee, WI

I’m in a splendiferistic place in my head right now and I never want to leave. Things are falling into place in many areas and I can feel that I’m in the prime of my life. That might end before the weekend, or last for thirty years. Either way, I‘m feeling at peace TODAY.

Maybe this is the manic part of manic depression, but I don’t feel that way. I’ve had ups and downs my whole life, but this is different. There is just an inner energy that is pulsing through me that is completely engulfing me in a feeling of confidence, direction and dare I say it – love. That’s a powerful word, but that’s how I’m describing what I’m feeling.

What really put me in a good frame of mind this morning was getting an email from my web guy for the Uranus website Mark Huelskamp. We’ve been going back and forth for a couple of weeks now, and he’s taken control of this project from my friend Shelley who’d been helping me before. Shelley has been great, but I needed to take it to a higher level.

Shelley has a job and family and was doing it to help me as a friend. I totally appreciate that, but if I’m going to make a dream happen, I have to dive in all the way. Mark does it for a living, and he’s the brother in law of my comedian friend Jim McHugh. I don’t trust a lot of people, but Jim I do and he’s the one who set us up. Today I was thrilled he did.

Mark sent me about 2000 different fonts to look at and a few mockup website templates and we went back and forth on it for a while. Today he sent me the final product and it hit me right between the eyes. He nailed it and I just about started crying. It was exactly what I wanted. It has great eye appeal and is what I had pictured all along. It lit up my being.

This whole project has taken a lot longer than I expected and cost a lot more money that I don’t have to pay for things I didn’t want to buy. I first thought of it all the way back on September 1st, 2007 at the Baymont Inn in Salt Lake City. It’s taken over two years to get it this far, and I still haven’t sold the first product yet. That being said, I know it’ll work.

I’ve experimented a little with the concept and have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone who has seen it. Uranus is funny. Period. It always has been, and I don’t care if they try to change the pronunciation for the kids today. It’s a giant butt joke and there are endless ways to get to it. Now it’s my job to find as many of them as I can.

I didn’t invent Uranus jokes, but I’m going to claim them for my own. David Letterman didn’t invent the top ten list, but he made that his own. He claimed it, and it became what most people know his show for. Good for him, a trademark is not easy to acquire. It’s not something someone sits down with a pen and pad and makes up. It just kind of happens.

That’s how this idea came about. I was in the shower and it hit me out of nowhere but I was smart enough to listen and get out and start writing it down. Ideas kept flowing and I kept writing, and I still have all those notes today. I just haven’t done as much with them as I should have, and I wish I knew why. I’ve been very inconsistent, but not anymore.

Looking at that website template sent electricity through my veins. I actually got to SEE it with my own eyes, and I knew right there I was going to make it happen. I have no idea how I’m going to do it, and/or why I’m so confident, but I just know. It’s a great feeling.

I’ve got a ton of work ahead of me and I’m sure there will be crisis situations and every problem I never expected, but I’m not worried about any of that. I’m GOING to do this, if for no other reason than because it’s fun. I thought of it, I like it, and I’m doing it. Period.

That’s totally what life is all about, or at least I think it should be. Whether I ever make a nickel or not, it’s already been a success. It’s made a ton of people laugh who’ve heard of it and nothing else. I had a Uranus bumper sticker on the car I wrecked and all kinds of people beeped and gave me a thumbs up and even took pictures of it with a cell phone.

What I have to do is create an entire world around Uranus. See? That’s funny just to say out loud. Try it. And guess what? I’m the KING! How cool is that? What does a King Of Uranus exactly do? I haven’t figured that out yet. Why is there a King? Beats me. What’s so great is that nobody else knows either. I get to make it up and decide on all of it. Cool!

I guess I’m getting the chance to be a kid I never got when I was that age. There was all that ugliness and dysfunction going on that I had to grow up before I got a chance to blow all this juvenile poo out of my system when I was nine like I should have. It’s still in there all these years later, and it’s taken root in my soul. I’m having fun just thinking about this.

I had lunch in Chicago today with Marc Schultz. He saw how excited I was, and he said he’s never seen me so giddy about anything, even being on The Late Late Show last year. I have to admit, he’s right. This is THE most fun I’ve ever had in my life, and it isn’t even an actual entity yet. It’s getting there, and today was a big step. But, it’s still not a reality.

I drove up to Milwaukee to have dinner with my cousin Brett. We don’t get time to just sit and talk so tonight was a treat. He saw how much I was glowing and I tried to figure it all out with him. He’s known me his whole life, and has seen the ups and downs. He’s an amazingly creative guy and we’re on a similar wavelength. He sees what I’m trying to do.

The one thing we agreed on was that anger toward the past and especially our fathers is not the answer, and never was. Maybe that’s what’s gone from my life and I’m finally in a position to enjoy the good things of life rather than be consumed by bitterness as I was for a lot of years. I missed out on a lot of good things, but I don’t feel I’m missing them now.

We had a Chinese buffet and it was delicious. Then we went to Leon’s and had sundaes and they were even better. I am realizing that the journey IS the happiness, and chasing is where the fun and adventure in any project is. I’ve now got the best chase I’ve ever had!

I’ve still got bills and rent and troubles and clutter and everything I had before I had my revelation today or whatever it was. The thing is, I don’t care about any of those things at all. I care about bringing this concept to life. My creative energy has an outlet in Uranus!

Checkups And Hookups

February 3, 2010

Monday February 1st, 2010 – Chicago, IL

I was all set to get back out and start exercising today when I got a call reminding me of a dental appointment I made six months ago. It’s time for a cleaning and my dentist said I need to come in every six months to make sure I don’t have to have any more root canals.

I’m all for that. I think I have the price of a brand new car in my mouth in what I had to put out of pocket for my dental nightmares the last couple of years. I had a nice little wad o’ cash stashed until everything came crumbling down. That was one of the things I blew it on, but what were my choices? I was in so much pain I had to get it done. That‘s life.

Everyone at my dentist’s office is Russian, including he and his wife. They’re very nice people and do impeccable work, but the sympathy/pain factor from them is nonexistent. It probably reflects how and where they grew up, but they have the bedside manner of Josef Mengele when they’re working. They’re there to get the job done, not to spread comfort.

My cleaning today was as painful as some of the cavities I’ve had filled. They poked for way too long in my opinion, and way too deep too. A few times I’d let out an ‘AH!’ when the lady cleaning my teeth hit a tender spot, but she would say ‘Shhhh’ like it didn’t hurt.

The good news was I had no cavities this time, but I’m surprised I have any teeth in my head at all that aren’t filled already. One thing I wasn’t blessed with is strong dental genes and at this point I’m thankful for any teeth I do have left. I’m careful every time I bite into anything, and at some point I’m sure I’ll have to go back there for more expensive work.

My whole mouth was aching as I left the dental office, but at least my bill didn’t have a comma in it like it usually does. I counted my blessings and got in my car and drove south to Chicago to buy Bill Gorgo his belated birthday dinner. At least he asked for soft pasta.

He’s always invited me over for some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten on Christmases, so the least I could do was buy him one for his birthday. Bill helps me a lot with comedy classes and is a very funny comedian in his own right. We always have a lot to talk about.

We’ve wanted to expand the teaching we do to include comedy writing exclusively and we talked about how we can make that happen. This is another project that will take work but will we worthwhile. There are a lot of people who are interested in just being writers.

Bill is the guy I can delegate things to for comedy classes. Jim McHugh is my go to guy for Uranus Factory Outlet right now. He’s been great in prodding me in a good way to get the project going and his brother in law Mark Huelskamp is going to be my web designer.

Joey Oshey is emerging as my Mothership Connection radio go to guy. He’s been really helpful getting guests for the show and is fitting in well. I need to delegate with all of my various projects and now I’m finally getting smart and lining up quality people in whom I can depend on to help me get things done right. Why did it take so long to figure this out?