Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Carson’

Dirty Diapers

July 28, 2014

Wednesday July 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I want to talk more about the whole game of getting on television. Ultimately, it’s what makes or breaks a true career in the entertainment business and everyone that succeeds needs to master it and find their outlet. Some may have a different platform than others, but television is the key.

It used to be that once a comedian – and I’m sure singers, dancers, magicians, ventriloquists as well – got on a big show like Ed Sullivan or Johnny Carson, they were as good as set. They’d get all the agents that were anyone fighting over them, and usually end up with a guaranteed income.

There were a few that flamed out, but for the most part those shows were the showcase for the very best of the best in any field of entertainment. If one was lucky enough to get on a show like that, literally MILLIONS would see them in one shot. It’s not like that anymore, and never will be. The days of the world wide mega star entertainer are over thanks to one reason – the internet.

There will be a few that slip through, but it won’t be like it was. Everybody in society had seen Bob Hope when he was popular, but not everybody has seen Justin Timberlake or Beyonce. The fan bases of those people tend to be in their own generation, and it’s not necessarily a negative.

It sure allows for more specialized serving of one’s audience, and also gives more entertainers a taste of the enormous success that used to be reserved for only the elite marquee names like an Elvis or Frank Sinatra before him. The Beatles were huge too, as was Michael Jackson. Now we have a ton of acts carving out their own smaller empires, with most of the world oblivious to it.

Getting on television is still important, but not nearly as important as knowing how to manage the internet. The game has changed completely now in that schmuckos like me and everyone else with a computer can technically throw our hats in the ring and start making our own appearances on “television”. It’s not network television, but the possibility does exist for it to be seen all over.

I’m not just talking national television, I’m talking WORLD WIDE. “Going viral” is possible, even though it’s not likely just like buying a lottery ticket doesn’t make you likely to win. What it does is gives one a chance to win, and today’s entertainer needs to come up with a battle plan.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen made over and over is people putting things out there too soon. I hear the newbies talking about how they have six videos and four CDs and “did an hour” at some toilet club somewhere that was recorded and is now a “one hour special”. I hear this constantly.

The trick is to make a special truly special. Years of hard work and polish can’t be avoided if a comedian or any other act wants to break through the crowd. These are things nobody gets told at the beginning, and it’s wrongly assumed everything they do needs to be recorded and thrown out there for the universe to see. I equate this with dirty diapers. Should those be displayed openly?

Of course not. They should be changed in private and thrown out. Eventually the baby will not need to wear one anymore, and it’s a non issue. The same is true for entertainers. Don’t show us your dirty diapers on You Tube or anywhere else. It’s a whole new game, and I need to master it like everyone else. It’s a good thing I have a lifetime of experience. I am really going to need it.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every bad set they do needs to be on You Tube. WRONG.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every brutal set they do needs to be on You Tube.

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Craig Ferguson BLOWS…

May 6, 2014

Sunday May 4th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

A few days ago, I happened to write an entry in this very diary about Craig Ferguson. Not that it matters, but I happen to be a fan and I wrote some nice things. I meant them all, and I really do think he is a talented and funny fellow. Appearing on his show was truly a highlight of my life.

I didn’t think much of it, other than I wished him well in his new endeavors. I was sorry to hear he didn’t get the David Letterman slot, and again not that it matters what I think I do believe he’d be the natural choice. The guy is second to none in my opinion, and would have been ideal for it.

Part of me wanted him to get it for my own agenda. He likes to work off the cuff as do I, and it has always been a fantasy for me to pair up with a talk show host that I can shoot lines back and forth with like Rodney Dangerfield had with Johnny Carson. They were a tremendous TV team.

Rodney appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny a whopping 70 times, and it helped make his career. I vividly remember looking forward to it as a teenager, and they always delivered the laughs. I would love to have a national TV outlet to do the same, and Craig Ferguson would have been a great pairing. He doesn’t know that, but I would have been able to keep up with his wit.

I only got to do my standup when I was on, and it was a frightening experience in many ways. I made a lot of mistakes I totally wouldn’t do again, but everyone needs to have their first slot on national television to get the experience over with. It’s very intimidating, but it didn’t kill me.

I’d be MUCH more relaxed and prepared a second, seventh or seventieth time, and I’d love to do it. In all likelihood, it won’t be on the show as it sits. The talent coordinator that booked me is not there anymore, and I don’t have any in. It’s not like Craig and I were buddies beforehand, I only opened for him at Zanies in Vernon Hills, IL and killed time when his plane was delayed and the CBS liaison saw me and told me I was hilarious. That started the process of me being on the show.

When I finally did it, he left the room before I went on. That must be their policy, and I think it is to give the comedians the floor and let them work. Personally, I hoped he’d be in the room and call me over to the couch like Johnny used to do. Still, we crossed paths as he was leaving and I was about to go on and he shook my hand and wished me well. I sensed a genuine spirit in him.

What really blew me away most is when I wrote my recent diary and saw how many loyal fans he has. Wow! I’ve never seen anything like it, and I was beyond impressed. I wrote entries about Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld the two days prior, because it happened to be their birthdays. I didn’t get even ONE response to either of those entries – but when I wrote about Craig I was deluged.

And a persnickety lot they were. They corrected me on my facts and informed me of all he had coming up. I could only dream of having such dedicated fans, and that’s why I’m writing about it now. I’m assuming they are going to find it as they seem to scout out anything that happens to be written about their hero. I do know his birthday is coming up on May 17th, so don’t correct me.

I would LOVE a fiercely loyal fan base like Craig Ferguson has, and I am totally fine with it if a lot of them happen to overlap. I’ll take second place, as long as I’m on the radar. Check out my appearance on the show. It’s on You Tube, but it’s not my best work. I have a DVD and a CD as well, and if you’d like a copy send me an address and I’ll ship out whatever you like. Hopefully you will become my fans too. Craig Ferguson blows…everyone else’s fan base away. Kudos!

Craig Ferguson has THE most loyal fan base I've ever seen. If I could have half that much support I'd be doing more than well.

Craig Ferguson has THE most loyal fan base I’ve ever seen. If I could have even half that much support I’d be doing more than well. PLEASE…be my fans too!

Movie Night

April 2, 2014

Monday March 31st, 2014 – Kenosha, WI

Every once in a while at least a little time off is necessary to charge up the batteries. I’ve been one busy little bumble bee, and hadn’t had a night just to goof off in a long time. Tonight was it, and purpose was well served. It was a relaxing night in the tree house with friends, food and fun.

My director friend Mark Gumbinger has a fantastic man cave in his basement, and I can’t think of a better place to watch sports, movies and just hang out with buddies. He has a TV with one of the biggest screens I have ever seen, full cable and a sound system that rivals any movie theater.

He also has a world class collection of guy stuff like Three Stooges videos, cartoons, and a lot of obscure movies that he likes because he’s a director. The people he invites are usually eclectic entertainment types, and likely to appreciate what’s on the bill. I always enjoy being a part of it.

Tonight’s guest roster included Lou Rugani from AM 1050 WLIP, and one of the biggest fans of film that I know. He knows a lot of interesting trivia, and it’s always an education to hear him throw in little known facts about little known films. I always learn something every time I attend.

Mark is a terrific party host, and there is always an ample supply of freshly popped popcorn and other snacks and ice cold beverages. It’s just a fun time to relax with people that appreciate good entertainment and interesting company, and I’m always flattered to be included on the invite list.

Before the main attraction, we’re usually treated to some opening entertainment to get us in the mood. Tonight it was some vintage Johnny Carson from before his Tonight Show days, and what a treat that was. He appeared on Jack Benny’s show, and was the host of “Who Do You Trust?”

We also watched a couple of episodes of “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. Mark likes to pop things in with no particular rhyme or reason other than they’re interesting, and these were tremendous examples. Both Johnny and Groucho were loaded with natural talent and wit, and we were all impressed at how well the content held up. We’re still laughing long after they’re gone.

The main attraction tonight was the 1981 movie “Thief” starring James Caan. That has always been one of my favorite movies, and I saw it when it came out. It’s rather dark, but James Caan is absolutely riveting in his role, and I never get tired of watching it. I’ve probably seen it twenty times, and a lot of comedians happen to like that movie too. I know several, and we quote lines.

James Caan plays an intense bad ass, and those are always the most colorful characters to quote from. Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” is one, as is just about anyone from “Goodfellas”. Caan has some classic lines in this role, and I’ve quoted them – even on stage – for many years.

I don’t know where Mark found it, but this version happened to be the director’s cut. I’d never seen that version before, and it was fun to see it in a different form. There were some scenes I’d not seen, and some lines that were left out. Lou hadn’t seen it at all, so it was fun to observe how he reacted. We could have gone to a theater and seen a new film, but this was so much more fun.

"Thief" starring James Caan is one of my all time favorite movies.

“Thief” starring James Caan is one of my all time favorite movies.

Tonight I watched it again with Lou Rugani in attendance. He's one of the most talented radio voices in the business. Check him out on 'The Music of the Stars' on AM 1050 WLIP radio in Kenosha, WI. www.wlip.com.

Tonight I watched it again with Lou Rugani in attendance. He’s one of the most talented radio voices in the business. Check him out on ‘The Music of the Stars’ on AM 1050 WLIP radio in Kenosha, WI. http://www.wlip.com.

Thanks to director Mark Gumbinger for hosting movie night at his world class 'man cave'. Here he is with singer Gordon Lightfoot.

Thanks to director Mark Gumbinger for hosting movie night at his world class ‘man cave’. Here he is with singer Gordon Lightfoot.

Carson’s Clout

February 10, 2014

Friday February 7th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Jay Leno’s tenure has ended as host of The Tonight Show, but the only thing that pops into my mind is the amazing run Johnny Carson had. Nobody will ever again come close to the incredible dominance that Johnny achieved, and maintained for thirty years. Today’s world is not the same.

Just as Cy Young’s record of 522 pitching victories will never be threatened much less broken, Johnny’s impact on late night television carries the same enormous presence. Everyone after him will forever be compared, and they’ll lose – especially by those of us who watched him firsthand.

I remember sneaking out of bed as a kid when I was supposed to be sleeping and turning on the TV to see the comedians Johnny would introduce. It was a thrill to be up when I wasn’t supposed to be, and then in the summer when I could stay up I’d watch the whole show almost every night.

This took place over years, as it did with millions of other Americans. He was truly the king of late night TV, mainly because there was no real competition. Today there are not only too many actual shows competing, but that pesky little internet tosses a few ice cubes on the fire as well.

We’re all scattered more than ever, but Johnny came along at a time when the rich got richer to the point of ridiculous, and there was nobody else. Charlie Chaplin had that status in movies, but he was way before my time. Johnny is part of my childhood, and millions of others’ too. He’s the standard bearer, and even though he’s been off the air for 22 years he is still held in high esteem.

Earlier this week I finally picked up the controversial biography aptly titled “Johnny Carson” written by Johnny’s former lawyer and cohort Henry ‘Bombastic’ Bushkin. I remember Johnny talking about him in his monologues, but had no idea until way later it was based on a real guy.

I’d heard a lot about the book for a while, and was looking forward to reading it. I really liked the PBS documentary a while back about Johnny, and I thought they were fair with portraying a no holds barred picture of what he was really like. Johnny had human flaws as we all do, but he also was one of the biggest celebrities of the 20th century. He got to go where few others tread.

The book was an easy read, and I thought it was well written. Like with another book I really liked, “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, it stepped on toes because it painted a real picture of someone the public viewed as super human. Mickey Mantle was a human just like Johnny was. Period.

I don’t look any less at Johnny Carson because of his shortcomings, and in fact that makes the whole story more fascinating. We all dream of attaining that kind of status, but it doesn’t promise a care free existence for those precious few that get there. Mickey and Johnny were both troubled to a certain degree, and fell short of where they probably could have been. It adds to their legend.

Jay Leno is completely different than Johnny. I have nothing bad to say about him, and he was absolutely ‘the man’ when it came to standup comedy in the ‘80s. He was the top banana for sure and Jerry Seinfeld was second. Then there was everyone else. That was no small feat, and neither was hosting a network talk show for 22 years. Jay has had a fabulous career, and I don’t think he is done yet. He’ll surface somewhere else, you watch. But no matter what, Johnny’s still on top.

Jay Leno hosted a successful network talk show for 22 years. That's no small accomplishment.

Jay Leno hosted a successful network television talk show for 22 years. That’s no small accomplishment.

But no matter what, to a generation of Americans Johnny Carson will always be the king.

But no matter what, to a generation of Americans Johnny Carson will always be the king. Period.

Morning Blend, Evening Friends

January 16, 2014

Wednesday January 15th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI/Muskegon, MI

I’m having nothing but fun right now, and life is going exactly how I pictured it. I’m doing the exact things I’ve always dreamed of, and everything is falling into place perfectly. I still have no idea why it took so long to get here, but dissecting the reason is the last thing I should be doing.

I’m going to focus my gaze forward, and enjoy every minute of this run. It’s like I’ve found the biggest wave on the ocean, and I just got a new surf board. I’m in the position I’ve waited for my whole life. The only thing to do is enjoy it and live in the moment. Long delay or not, I got here.

Today was an absolute blast on every level. First I had a television appearance in Milwaukee to plug my show this Saturday at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI. It’s a benefit for one of their employees who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and the media has picked up on it.

This morning I was on “The Morning Blend” on WTMJ Channel 4, and that’s always fun. I’ve been on probably a half a dozen times now, and they’re always super on air and off. Hosts Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle are gorgeous, friendly, sincere and do their homework on the topics. What more could a guest ask for? Driving up from Illinois early in the morning is worth it to be there.

Executive Producer Kim Buchanan and Producer Katie Pinkowski couldn’t be any nicer to deal with, and it really helps my visibility in my home town. Rodney Dangerfield was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 70 times. That helped his career immensely, and it’s similar for me. It gives me a lot of credibility to be on TV – MUCH more so than radio, and I really appreciate it.

Plus it never hurts to be on plugging a benefit show either. I don’t know the lady we’re doing it for, but I’m sure she and her family and friends saw it and hopefully that gave her some hope and encouragement. I don’t see how this can’t help fill the seats, and I know it will be a red hot show.

After the TV show I got right in my car and drove to Muskegon, MI to do a comedy show for a group at the Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference. That group name would scare off a lot of comedians, but not me. I know how to do a clean show, and that’s why I was hired to be there.

My contact Alina Robinson was also very easy to deal with, and made it a pleasant experience all around. I was a little concerned when I arrived because there was no visible sound system and I had to follow a Mariachi singer that serenaded everyone through dinner, and the guy was great. They all loved him, and I had no idea if they’d like me or not – especially with no sound system.

There was a lapel microphone, but I don’t normally use those. That was what they had, so I had to run with it. Alina introduced me immediately after the singer closed on a high note and owned the audience. It was a difficult situation from which to start – but nothing I haven’t seen before.

It took about ten seconds to get their attention, and they ended up being one of the best crowds I’ve worked for in a long time. They got everything, and I kept it squeaky clean. VERY few acts can pull that off – but I can. I stress to every comedy class I teach that “clean leads to green”, and tonight was living proof. I was paid more money on a Wednesday night doing a clean show than most one nighter comedy shows pay on a Friday or Saturday. This was a terrific day all around.

I always enjoy appearing with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on 'The Morning Blend' on Today's TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. www.themorningblend.com.

I always enjoy appearing with Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on ‘The Morning Blend’ on Today’s TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. http://www.themorningblend.com.

The audience I had at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference was one of the best I've had in a LONG time. It pays to know how to do a CLEAN show.

The audience I had tonight in Muskegon, MI at Maranatha Conference Center was one of the very best I’ve had in a LONG time. It pays to know how to do a CLEAN show. What a fantastic crowd!

Blockbuster Needed

October 2, 2013

Monday September 30th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I read an article years ago about Mario Puzo, author of “The Godfather”. What I found to be of interest was that he had intentionally set out to write a blockbuster, something he’d be known for to the masses and would bring him money. He’d written some other books that had received high critical praise but hadn’t gotten him anywhere, and he had a wife and five kids he needed to feed.

I also remember seeing an interview with Gene Simmons of KISS, and he talked about both he and Paul Stanley setting out to create the ultimate band they had never seen or heard but wanted to as fans. They wanted to create an ultimate fan experience that would turn them into superstars.

Both Mario Puzo and KISS have done more than well, but I also recall listening to an interview with Quincy Jones not too long ago talking about the creative process behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. He said everybody who ever sets out to make a record thinks they’re going to change the world, but there are factors beyond anyone’s control and if it happens it’s entirely by chance.

I think Quincy Jones is one of the most brilliantly creative minds of our time and what he says has validity, but I’ll bet Michael didn’t look at it that way. He was coming off a wildly successful “Off The Wall” album, and was firing on all cylinders. He was looking to rule the music world.

All of these examples swirl in my head as I sit and think about what I can do to create a similar sensation in the comedy world. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I sure know what it isn’t – plain white males telling randomly assembled jokes and routines. That’s not the way to make an impact these days, even though it worked for many years. Those days are gone and won’t return.

The world has simply changed too much for that model to remain relevant. It used to be if one could manage to get on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or maybe David Letterman, there would be a large enough audience where it could make enough of an impact to launch a career. If Johnny happened to think an act was funny, he or she became the golden child of show business.

It’s no longer that way, as there isn’t any single outlet that can make anyone that quickly – with the possible exception of You Tube. Something can still go globally viral in a short time, but that doesn’t guarantee anyone stardom. Recognition and stardom are not at all the same. Any frat boy can light a bottle rocket out of his poop shoot and film it, but how does that translate into money?

There used to be a circle of industry people that would watch The Tonight Show, and they’d be fighting the next day to get a piece of any new meat that made an impression the night before. In this new setup, it’s everyone for him or herself and no one path is the right one to take anymore.

The good news is, I realize the pickle I’m in and am looking to do something about it. The bad news is I have to survive month to month doing what I’ve done my entire adult life. I might have made a living doing it, but it wasn’t the recipe to be a superstar. I need to revamp my approach.

I don’t think my ego needs to be a superstar, but my wallet could sure use it. I would be able to help so many others, and that would be my ultimate end focus. Mario Puzo and KISS succeeded, why couldn’t I pull it off too? My gut feeling is that my secret of success emanates from Uranus.

Mario Puzo set out to make money first. And he did.

Mario Puzo set out to make money first. And he did.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley wanted to create "the band they never heard or saw", and they did!

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley wanted to create “the band they never heard or saw”, and they did!

Was it luck? Some, but there was a LOT of talent there too.

Was it luck? Some, but there was a LOT of talent there too.

It's always FUNNY, when it comes from URANUS!

It’s always FUNNY, when it comes from URANUS!

Five Funny Friends

September 27, 2013

Thursday September 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Oh, to have even a teaspoon of power and influence in this out of control tilt-a-whirl known as the entertainment business. I don’t want it so much for me, but to be able to showcase as many of my talented friends and colleagues as possible. That would give me as big of a kick as if I did it.

That’s one of the reasons I was such a rabid fan of Johnny Carson – or at least his position. His show was a launching pad for a lot of acts, but especially comedians. He seemed to enjoy putting people on and letting the public discover their talent, and I would love to be able to do it as well.

On a far smaller scale, any time I’ve had radio shows I have always tried to put as many of my talented friends as I could on the air. I love to be able to let them shine and have their moment in the sun, and I have always been secure enough in my own skin to not have to always be the star.

I talked to my friend Dwight York yesterday, and he’s a shining example of exactly what I am talking about. Dwight is one of my absolute favorite comedians ever, and a super guy to boot. It boggles my mind why he isn’t a big star, and if had even a little influence he’d be one tomorrow.

He’s delightfully sick and twisted, and an absolutely brilliant joke writer. He has a book called “The Vile File” which is a catalog of his best work, and he has a hilarious CD as well. Dwight is also one of the hardest workers around, yet he doesn’t seem to get his due. I don’t understand it.

Check him out and see if you don’t agree he’s fantastic. His website is http://www.dwightyork.com, and if you get a minute send him an email and tell him I told you to say hello. You’ll be a fan for life like I am, and make it a point to see him whenever you can. He never fails to make me laugh.

Another guy I’m in awe of is Don Reese. Don is another dark and twisted hombre, and I mean that in a very positive way. He loves monster movies, and looks like he could star in one. I have always wanted to book a tour with Dwight, Don and another comic named Dan Still. I wanted to call them “The Pirates of Comedy”, and I know they could develop a rabid following all over.

Don’s website is http://www.donreese.com and his DVD “It Came From Iowa” is a must have. He’s like the typical bad guy pro wrestler – scary in the ring, but a teddy bear in real life. Dwight and Don are both sweethearts, as is Dan Still. Put them on a comedy stage, and it’s a different story.

Dan’s website is http://www.danstill.com, and his CD is called “Anger Therapy”. All three of those guys get their ya-yas out on stage, and then off stage they’re mild mannered and sweet. I would LOVE to be their manager and build their brand, but who has time? I’ve got my own problems.

Of course there’s my friend “The Enviromedian” James Wesley Jackson. I’m still trying to get his new DVD noticed, and you can find him at http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com. He’s someone else I think deserves to get some time in the sun. James has paid his dues, and deserves a payday.

Then there’s my good friend Jimmy McHugh and his “Chicago Comedy All Stars” concept. He is another guy who deserves a break. http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com. I can think of a lot more, but for now I’ll leave it at this. Please seek out and support these people. They’re ALL tremendous!

Dwight York - his book 'The Vile File' is laugh out loud funny!

Dwight York – his book ‘The Vile File’ is laugh out loud funny!

Don Reese - "It Came From Iowa" is a must own DVD.

Don Reese – “It Came From Iowa” is a must own DVD.

Dan Still looks like 'The Undertaker' - or is it the other way around? www.danstill.com.

Dan Still looks like ‘The Undertaker’ – or is it the other way around? http://www.danstill.com.

What's an Enviromedian? Find out at www.jameswesleyjackson.com

What’s an Enviromedian? Find out at http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com

Jimmy McHugh - head Chicago Comedy All Star. www.chicagocomedyallstars.com. Great act, great friend.

Jimmy McHugh – head Chicago Comedy All Star. http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com. Great act, great friend.

Front Row Treatment

September 24, 2013

Sunday September 22nd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

I can die now. I’m sure there are those that have been wishing that for years, but now I can deal with it with a smile on my face. My personal Mt. Rushmore of heroes to meet is complete, and it was a raging success each and every time. Most people never get to meet one of their heroes, but I hit a grand slam. I’ll have pleasant memories forever, and there’s nobody else I need to chase.

Yes there are all kinds of famous and/or interesting people I wouldn’t mind crossing paths with in person, but as far as super elite status there have only been four – Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin, George Clinton and Bob Uecker. I don’t care if anyone else doesn’t agree with those four as having super elite status, it’s my list and I’ll decide who gets on it. Those four are my biggies.

Today I rounded out my awesome foursome in high style as I got to hang out with Bob Uecker for a good 20-25 minutes – on the field at Miller Park no less. Wow, what a dream come true for a native cheese head and it couldn’t have gone any better. Everything was right, and it was great.

I can’t thank my friend Drew Olson enough for making this happen. He knows everyone at the stadium, and although it was no big deal for him he knew it was a big deal to me so he took time to make the call and walk me through the process. I like to do nice things like that whenever and however I can, and when it comes back my way it’s extra sweet. I’ll remember this day forever.

We were sitting in the dugout at Miller Park – something that by itself was worth my trip – and Bob came out of the other dugout and was standing behind the batting cage before the game. I’ve never been on the field before, so the whole experience was surreal from the start and I loved it.

Drew told me to follow him, and we walked up to Bob and Drew introduced me as a comedian from Milwaukee. That’s all it took. Bob’s eyes lit up, and he shook my hand and started rattling off story after story, and it was like we were buddies for years. It was the right place and the right time, and circumstances couldn’t be better. He had nothing else going on, and had time to hang.

Since I knew of his career highlights so well I was able to keep him talking and recalling funny story after funny story. The guy who was his sidekick in the Major League movies is a comedian friend of mine named Skip Griparis, and that helped forge a bond up front even though we didn’t need it. He was warm right from the start. Everything was laid back, and I loved every second.

What was an even bigger thrill was making Bob laugh a couple of times. I tried to just shut up and let him do most of the talking, but on a few occasions I had a quick story to throw in and his head snapped back with laughter more than once. That’s THE most flattering reaction I can get.

We hit on a lot of topics from sports to show business to being from Milwaukee to professional wrestling of all things. He used to go see it in his younger days and he did a fantastic impression of Dick The Bruiser. Drew and I were bent over laughing, as it really was dead on and hilarious.

I really wanted to get a picture, but things were going so well I didn’t want to ruin the moment. These situations can be very delicate, as it’s almost a peer thing. I don’t consider myself on a par with Bob Uecker, but he and Drew are peers and I didn’t want to put that status into jeopardy.

Another delicate situation was a package I brought for Bob with my DVD, CD and t-shirt from my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show. He if anyone would get the list of jokes on the shirt, but again my wack-o-meter went off and I decided not to force the situation. We were having such a good time I just wanted to enjoy it for what it was. I’ve waited decades to get the chance, so I dialed it back.

As we were walking off the field I asked if he’d mind if I sent him a shirt, and he said he’d like to have one but what else would he or anyone say? “No, stick that shirt up your bilge hole. Like I need to wear a cheap t-shirt from some goofus I don’t know to advertise a show I will never see.”

I’m sure he wouldn’t say that and he didn’t. Before we left the stadium, Drew gave the package to one of the longstanding Miller Park staff who said he would deliver it to the broadcast booth – which he did immediately as we watched. I felt a lot better doing that than trying to do it myself.

I have no delusions that he’s going to listen to or watch my act or wear the t-shirt, but if he had a chance to look at the shirt I’m sure he had a chuckle or two. That’s good enough for me, and he hopefully gave it to someone or even left it in the booth and someone else may get use out of it.

One thing I noticed immediately as we were talking was how ‘the kid’ in him was out. I always heard that with any great comedian, their inner child is close to the surface and easy to identify. I definitely saw it in Bob, and I think he saw mine too. That’s probably why we hit it off so well.

Another thing I noticed was how he had absolutely nothing bad to say about anyone else. He’d only bring up positives and/or good times they’d spent together. He knows celebrities from many fields, and I’m still not sure if the people in Milwaukee realize just how big of a star he really is.

I listened to him tell a few stories of being inducted into more than one Hall of Fame. How rare is THAT? It’s hard enough to get nominated for even one much less inducted into several, but he is although he doesn’t say it to brag. It was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to everything he said.

He pokes fun at himself for his lack of ball playing prowess, but in fact making it all the way to the Major Leagues is no small feat in itself – especially when he did it. There were only 16 teams then, and he still not only got a cup of coffee but managed to stay in the Major Leagues for years.

That’s a noteworthy accomplishment most people would milk for a lifetime, but he also got on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when that really meant something. Not only that, he was on somewhere around 100 times when people would give up a lung to get on once. It’s amazing.

Then there was a successful sitcom in ‘Mr. Belvedere’ that lasted several seasons. Then he was in two ‘Major League’ movies where he stole the show. He did hilarious color commentary work on ‘Monday Night Baseball’, not to mention rose to become one of the best play by play baseball announcers anywhere. Each one of those would be noteworthy by itself, but Bob nailed them all.

Did I forget anything? Well, he wrote two very funny books and also hosted another funny TV show called “Bob Uecker’s Wacky World of Sports”. And he was part of Wrestlemania for what was then the largest audience ever. I don’t need to go any farther – one is impressed or not. I have always been impressed, and to meet and hang out was a big thrill. I was in the front row for real!

Meeting a hero is a thrill. When he's as nice and funny as Bob Uecker - it's a memory I'll never forget! Thanks to my friend Drew Olson for making it happen. What a great experience!

Meeting a hero is a thrill. When he’s as nice and funny as Bob Uecker – it’s a memory I’ll never forget! Thanks to my friend Drew Olson for making it happen. What a great experience!

Betting On Uranus

August 24, 2013

Friday August 23rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   “It is impossible to win the great prizes in life without running risks.” – Theodore Roosevelt

   This is not only an inspirational greeting card quote – it has become the virtual blueprint for my life. After too many snake eyed rolls of life’s dice to count, it’s high time for at least one of them to hit the jackpot. I’m beginning to get carpal tunnel syndrome from rolling those dice so much.

   Today I did it again, but I feel great about my chances to win. There are two people I know that are starting a comedy content based website, and are looking to launch next month. They came to me recently and asked if I’d like to be a part of it. I said yes, and today we started the adventure.

   I can’t say who it is or give any details just yet other than it’s a project I feel is timed perfectly for the circumstances of today. They’re putting together original talent and ideas that haven’t had exposure anywhere else, and their chances of something hitting is excellent. It’s a smart gamble.

   The old way was to hope to get seen in a comedy club, and be asked to appear on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. He was it. David Letterman came along in the ‘80s, but before that it was Carson and a few other lower tier shows like Merv Grifin, Dinah Shore and Mike Douglas.

   There was also “An Evening at the Improv” on A & E, but that came along later too. For a long time, comedians moved to L.A. hoping to get a Tonight Show shot. That was the big prize, but as with most any entertainment genre the chance of getting that one slot was beyond astronomical.

   It’s a completely different ball game now, even though the objective remains the same. An act needs to get in front of as large of an audience as humanly possible in order to become known by name, thereby in theory creating a draw when they appear live. That’s the basic success formula.

   Network television shows have become diluted, and that’s not necessarily the way to do it right now. They don’t hurt, but how much do they help? I did a successful Craig Ferguson shot, but it didn’t put me over the top in one appearance. Nothing does. It takes a consistent plan to attain it.

   If someone can cultivate a steady following on the internet, that can lead to a totally legitimate fan base. There’s a whole subculture of people gaining followings maybe not in the millions, but enough to put butts in seats in places or sell them some trinkets. Jenna Marbles is such a person.

   She does her own You Tube videos, and gets a staggering number of hits – sometimes over one million or more. Wow! I’d be thrilled to get 100,000 paying fans who buy a DVD or t-shirt every year. The potential is right there, now I have to make it happen. I began work today as I recorded a video rant in character as the King of Uranus. I see clearly what needs to be done to develop it.

   I did a daily rant called ‘The Sixty Second Soapbox’ on a few radio morning shows I was part of. It’s a bit that got a lot of attention, and I loved doing it. It’s short but effective, and it’s perfect for the internet world of ultra short attention span. I’m going to rework a lot of those old soapbox rants and the site will be my showcase. This is the perfect idea at the perfect time. I’m pumped!

His Royal Weirdness - The King of Uranus!

His Royal Weirdness – The King of Uranus!

Morning Maestro

August 13, 2013

Sunday August 11th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   I’m starting to get the “radio Jones” again, and it scares me. I’ve been involved in radio almost as long as I’ve been a comedian, so there’s some history there. It started with me doing a comedy bit on a morning show in my home town of Milwaukee in the ‘80s when Miami Vice was on TV.

   It was on the Reitman and Mueller show on WKTI, and the bit was a two minute feature called “Milwaukee Vice”. A comedian friend of mine and I each played cop characters, and used lots of local flavor and references. It was probably a good idea in theory, but the bit was pretty terrible.

   I was in my early twenties then and nowhere near comedically competent or radio experienced enough to know how to pull it off, but it was a great education and I’m glad I did it. The program director was Dallas Cole who I really respected – one of the most creative minds I’ve ever seen.

   We got along great, as he saw the raw potential in me. I wish I could’ve stayed with him longer to develop my skills but he left for a better gig and the new guy and I butted heads. That’s been a much too common storyline throughout most of my radio adventures, and it leaves a bitter taste.

   Like most creative types, I have a distinct vision of what I’m looking to do in a situation. Stay the hell out of my way – especially if you’ve never done it before – and we’ll never have a cross word between us. Sit me down and force feed me your stupid ideas and we’ll fight like roosters.

   It really isn’t that difficult, but I’ve had to fight this scenario constantly and it takes the breeze out of my sail in a hurry. I get brought in a situation by someone who gets it, and then he leaves and in comes some pinhead wannabe who never got past reading pork belly futures in Nebraska.

   Under the right circumstances, radio can be unbelievably satisfying creatively. I’ve had flashes of it, and it was enough to make me want to keep coming back. For what it was, ‘The Mothership Connection’ on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI was a wonderful experience. I had a total blast.

   One of the main reasons I did was because nobody told me what to do. John Perry is the person in charge, and he and I have known each other since our days at 93QFM in Milwaukee. We have a very good relationship, and he knows what I’m about. He gave me free reign from the start and never ONCE has he told me how to do the show. Over five years it has progressed tremendously.

   Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to turn a single buck with it. Fun is fun, but we all have bills to pay. If I could just squeak out a living wage, I’d be thrilled. I’ve grown immeasurably over the five year run as a talk host, and like in comedy I’m at my creative peak but it won’t last forever.

   In a perfect world, I’d be able to get one last shot at doing a morning show somewhere. I have paid my dues and then some in radio just as I have in comedy, and I finally feel I’d know what to do if I got the shot. Milwaukee Vice was horrible, but I knew I was green and had to work it out.

   I’m ready now. I could start tomorrow, and build a fun morning show that would showcase my talented friends and sound smooth from day one. Johnny Carson used to bring people on to shine for a few minutes, and then bring on someone else. That’s a proven formula, and I would borrow it from the start and everyone would win. If I have any one talent at all, it’s recognizing talents of others and putting them in place to shine the brightest. I’m the maestro, but they’re the ones that play the actual music. It worked perfectly on The Mothership Connection, and it will work again.