Posts Tagged ‘Jokerz’

Making Up For Mistakes

August 7, 2010

Friday August 6th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

One annoying trait I’ve noticed continually in most of my least favorite people I’ve ever met is their refusal to admit and claim a mistake. Everyone or everything else but them or their actions was responsible for any given situation gone wrong – every time, all the time.

My father was totally like that, as was my Aunt Charlene. Neither one of them ever said they screwed something up, and it was comical after a while to hear how they would put a spin on anything to remove themselves from any blame whatsoever from any situation.

The funny thing is, they never got along – but they were exactly the same. I’ve been in a lot of radio situations where the bosses were like that also. They’d never ever admit it if a mistake was made, and the next thing I knew would be I’d been fired. How does that fly?

I may be personally chock full o’ faults in my own life, but admitting my mistakes isn’t one of them. It’s been a main theme for this diary and continues to be a major part of how I live my life on a daily basis. I fully admit I’ve made some terrible choices, but I want to turn them around and do things correctly as much as possible. That‘s not at all easy to do.

But who said life was easy? Nobody I know. Pimpin’ apparently ain’t easy, and neither is life itself. The key is what we all do to correct the things we can, and move on, hoping whatever lessons we learned will serve us well. I’d hate to screw up and not learn from it.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in recent years was buying the large collection of sports cards that I did. In theory, I had extra money at the time, and I’d planned on setting up at sports card shows across the country during the day, as I performed comedy at night.

Like Communism and several other things, that sounded great in theory and on paper. If I could have pulled it off, I’d have two streams of income, and life would be better in a lot of ways. I was never able to do it, for whatever reasons. Some were legit, but the facts are I never turned a profit with it and all I had was a huge pile of cardboard clogging my life.

I could have chosen to do nothing, and let them sit – just as they have been for much too long now. That’s not what a winner would do, so today I packed the whole lot of them in the back of my car and drove them to Milwaukee to my friend Rich who sells sports cards on Ebay for a living. I’ve known Rich forever and he said he’d help me liquidate my pile.

He didn’t have to do that, but he said he would and I’m taking him up on it. I’ve helped a lot of people in my life, and when it comes back it’s greatly appreciated. Rich will assist in sorting and pricing and helping me move it as quickly as possible, which still may take a while. There’s a lot of stuff there and it’s in all kinds of conditions. That’s how I got it.

There is no doubt I made a big mistake buying these. Life circumstances were different then, and I did it. Now I need to undo it, probably at a loss. I can’t worry about that now, I will take what I can get and humbly accept it. I’ve learned a lesson, and will grow from it.

The hardest part is, I can’t just hit a reboot button and start all over. I thought about this before I did it, and even imagined the worst case scenario, which is exactly what occurred almost to a tee. The entire sports card business is on thin ice, but I still love it anyway. I’ll be hooked on old cards as long as I’m alive, but right now I can’t afford to be involved.

Like a lot of things, it can be a time and money sucker without immediate or guaranteed payoff. There were no guarantees I’d make my money back much less a profit, but it sure did sound like a great idea at least for a while. What I didn’t think of was all of the hidden costs like table fees at shows, theft, and travel expenses. There’s also the risk of damage.

Rich had some water in his basement last week in an area he’d never had it before, and he’s lived in that house since he was 5 years old. He had to throw out some collectibles he never thought he would, and that fear does exist with all dealers. Fire, water damage, theft and even natural disasters like tornadoes or earthquakes can wipe out a collection quickly.

We talked about exactly that as Rich and I unloaded my car in his driveway and brought the boxes into his living room. He’ll sort it for me and has some people who may want to take some of the newer stuff off my hands. I’m sure the price will be low, but at this point I just want it all GONE. I bought it a few years ago now, and I just want to recoup and go.

Another mistake I made in the last few years is with the comedy clubs in Milwaukee. If I could change it I would, but I can’t. The fact is, most of them have been run by anything from gangster wannabes to novice Polocks, and the comedians have been treated poorly.

I’ve worked them all in my time, and the one place I’ve always been treated fairly is at a place called Jokerz. I was one of the first headliners they booked, but it was through a guy who no longer books the room. He asked me to stop working there, and since I’ve known him over twenty years, I said I would. I chose to work another club I’d also worked for.

That owner called me too, and asked that I would work only his club and if I did he said he’d “make it worth my while” and “take care of me.” Yes sir, he did that alright. He put me in the trick bag and bounced my check – THE number one sin a club should never do.

That whole situation was a huge mess and continues to leak raw sewage into my life as my reaction to the check being bounced wasn’t very pleasant. First off, I accepted a check from a Polock – red flag number one. Then I bitched about it and took it out on his special needs child which got his tarantula wife all caffeinated and pissed off and it started a war.

The truth is, I never should have stopped working at Jokerz in the first place. I liked the staff from the start, and I still do. There’s a manager there named Natalie who is a people person and a sweetheart all the way. She took me back, and I did my first show tonight.

The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was very friendly and the show was really fun. My friend from high school Joe Kubicek came out, a former Milwaukee cop. He’s been a supporter for years and I appreciate not only that, but Jokerz for having me back. I felt I was home.


Milwaukee Maintenance

June 5, 2010

Friday June 4th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t do my walking today. I have a reason for it, but it’s not an excuse. I am performing in Louisville next week at The Comedy Caravan and they asked me to record some radio spots promoting myself. I needed to get those done, and went up to WLIP in Kenosha to do it. The production director Dan Hanni said he’d help me out.

Dan is always backlogged with work, and I ended up having to wait quite a while to get him at a slow point. I appreciate the favor so I’m not complaining, but that’s just how life works. Things come up and need to get done, and everything else has to wait. It’s reality.

I cranked out three different versions of what I thought were pretty funny commercials, and the club will edit and decide what to use. I’m glad to be going back to Louisville, and I hope I can put a few butts in seats. That town is a lot hipper than people think. I like it.

After the radio station, I drove to Milwaukee to meet with Richard Halasz to scout out a few possible locations for shows. I still want to do ‘Schlitz Happened!’ but there might be room to book shows in general with the closing of the Comedy Café. Richard books some shows in the area already, and he’s a life long Milwaukeean who knows the whole scene.

Richard is as honest as the day is long, and like me really cares about the comedy scene in Milwaukee. It’s our home town and we want comedy to be healthy and thriving, which it’s never been. There’s always been a crop of snakes in charge who exploit all the locals.

The big serpent who just left the Comedy Cafe wasn’t much different than those before him, and nobody’s sure what will happen if and when the club reopens. Personally, I hope it turns around and someone with a clue gets in there and runs it with some class. I liked the room a lot when I worked there, but management was brutal. A change was overdue.

Richard and I don’t really want to be bookers, but there seems to be an opportunity now so we wanted to check into it. We visited some hotels on several sides of town, and a few showed some interest in doing at least semi regular shows in the future. It was positive.

I want to have a comedy presence in my home town for many reasons, One is to finally exterminate all the bad vibes from years past. Not only was my family not supportive and in my corner, the clubs weren’t either. I earned my stripes in comedy anyway, and now all that ugliness is over with. I want to move on and get laughs and build a loyal fan base.

There’s a club called Jokerz who was very nice to me when I worked there just as they opened a few years ago. I would have stayed with them but was asked by another club to be ‘loyal’, so I did. What an idiot I was. They treated me like mud and bounced a check.

I stopped at Jokerz tonight to reconnect with them. The manager Natalie is a sweetheart and I’m not opposed to working there again. They’re not at all like the other clubs in town and the room itself is spectacular. If nothing else, I’d at least like to teach some classes.

It felt great to walk in the club and have Natalie run over and give me a hug and tell me they all miss me there. I had some hot shows in there, and never had a gripe with anybody at all. They paid well and everything was fine. The only reason I stopped working there is because I was asked to by the other club. I’d known them longer so I thought it was right.

Most comedians would LOVE to be loyal to someone, but we rarely get a reason. We’re dented cans and whipped puppies as a whole, and any kind of love or affection would get our loyalty for life. I know it would from me. All we want is to perform and hear laughter. We’re not interested in politics or selling drinks or anything other than being on the stage.

Zanies in Chicago has always been completely opposite of all my negative experiences in Milwaukee. It’s only 90 miles away on a map, but it’s light years away in how they’ve treated me. They’ve been in my corner for twenty years, and I’ll be loyal to them forever.

It would be a dream to have a place in Milwaukee like that, and Richard craves that too. He never left Milwaukee for whatever reason, and it’s stunted his comedy growth. He has had to put up with the insanity for years, and I don’t now how he did it. I’d have snapped.

That’s why he started to book his own shows, and there still may be room to do more of that. More and more comedians are becoming disgruntled with the anarchy of how it’s all going, and we’re realizing that we’re the ones giving the bookers and snakes all the power to run roughshod over us like they do. We’re sick of it and many of us are taking action.

I was talking about that with the headliner at Jokerz this week. His name is Steve Hirst and he’s originally from England but now lives in Dallas, TX. We worked together a few years ago in Houston and really hit it off. I hadn’t seen him in a while, but when I’d heard he was the headliner I had to make a point to stop and say hello. He’s a true gentleman.

Steve is very down to earth off stage, but has one of the strongest natural presences that I’ve ever seen on stage. He’s got a style and charisma and his British accent has an almost hypnotic effect on an audience. I really love watching him work, and he tore the room up.

He does work pretty blue, but that could be easily fixed. It doesn’t offend me personally but it may keep him off TV, at least at the start. He’s such a likeable guy onstage and off that I’d love to see him get a TV show. If I were in charge, I’d be grooming him big time.

What I like about him most is that he’s totally real. He said that about me too, and he’s right. We were talking about how bookings are down and we’re each one week from the poor house and that’s just how it is. We both agreed how refreshing it was to hear another comic telling the truth, not fabricating all the great things that weren’t really happening.

Steve is at Jokerz on Saturday, and I highly recommend you go see him. He’s one of the most naturally funny people I’ve ever seen, and he gives it all every show. Jokerz website is Give the manager Natalie a hug and tell her it’s from me. Steve Hirst will be worth your trip. That guy brings it. If I booked a club, he’d work there.