Posts Tagged ‘Josh Albert’

Healing With Humor

November 13, 2013

Monday November 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

This has been a rough year health wise for more than a few of my friends. It’s been no polka in the park for me either having to deal with my recent kidney stone, but that’s nothing compared to what some other people I know have had to face. Many are comedians, and it doesn’t seem right.

I would think since comedians provide a service to humankind we’d get some sort of free pass, but we aren’t exempt from the same health horrors everyone else faces. Sometimes it even seems like we get it worse, which I could never understand. There are a lot of people I know suffering.

Jim Wiggins had cancer surgery just a couple of months ago, and he’s having to get used to life with no prostate or bladder. He is now cancer free which is something to celebrate, but that came with one hell of a price. He’s recovering nicely from what I hear, and hopes to work again soon.

Scot Wickmann is another comedian friend who has been dealing with health issues for a long time. He has been on kidney dialysis for quite a while, and recently he had triple bypass surgery. That’s serious enough, but apparently there was an infection and he had to have more surgery.

Bill Gorgo has been getting updates from Scot’s wife Jackie, and she said Scot just had one of two more surgeries he needs and everything went smoothly. He had an abscess on an artery, and that sounds frightening. I don’t have details and the last thing I ever want to do is bother Jackie.

The bottom line is, even if his next surgery goes well he’ll be lucky to be out of the hospital by Christmas. Crikey. I thought the eight or nine days I spent in the hospital for my surgery in 2011 was horrific – and it was. I can’t begin to imagine having to be in a hospital bed for six weeks.

Again, my problems really aren’t problems compared to what Jim and Scot and so many others are going through, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of them. There are a lot of people in a lot worse shape than me, and I want to help comfort them if I can. It’s all about human kindness.

All that actually matters in life is what we are able to give – especially to those that truly are in need. What could I do myself or help to organize that will make someone’s life even a little more pleasant when there’s a long road of recovery ahead? There has to be some way of reaching out.

I was delighted to be able to organize the big benefit comedy show last October for Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert after he was almost killed by a drunk driver going the opposite way on a freeway on ramp. His injuries were beyond a nightmare, but we were able to assist financially.

Peter Jest of Shank Hall in Milwaukee donated the hall, and the all comedians donated our time to perform. Drew Olson was a fabulous host that night, and Officer Albert’s work partner and my cousin Katie Anderer and her whole family got the word out to make it a success. We received a blanket of media coverage as well, and it ended up being a successful event that helped someone.

That’s what life is about. Period. I know we all need to pay our bills, but after that it’s what we are able to give that has any lasting meaning. Seeing my personal friends having to endure all of the personal hell they’ve been through makes me want to jump up and take action to help them.

But what could that be? I’d like it to be comedy related somehow, but I don’t think doing a live show is the answer. I would gladly volunteer to do it in a second if that would help, but it doesn’t strike me as the solution. I think there needs to be something that is able to reach more shut ins.

Scot Wickmann is going to be laid up in bed for a while. Even if he wanted to see a live show I doubt if he could make it unless they wheeled his bed right into the performance area. I’d be fine with it, but I can’t see it happening. A room full of beds with people from ICU would be silly.

It’s hard enough to be funny in a traditional comedy setting, but this would be off the charts to try and pry laughs out of hospital patients. That’s not what I had in mind. I would like to create a product that could be used to touch people depending on their condition, and that’s a wide scope.

One idea I had would be to interview comedians who have endured health issues, and try to put a comedic perspective on things that as a rule aren’t funny. When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t help but notice there are a lot of potentially funny events that only someone who has experienced them could relate to. I bet it would be of great comfort to have a video for new patients to watch.

There has to be a way to produce a video of comedians telling their hospital stories, and have it run on a constant loop on one of the hospital TV channels. I’d bet there could be several releases over time, as a lot of comedians have stories. I’m sure some celebrities would jump on board too.

David Letterman went through major heart surgery a while back, and I’m sure that gave him an abundance of stories that are a lot funnier now that he’s fully recovered. Sometimes it seems like the situation is overwhelming while in the hospital, and something to offer comfort would help to put a patient’s mind at ease. I remember how I felt when I was laying there and it was a bad trip.

Another idea I’d love to pursue would be establishing a humor library in all hospitals so people could watch and listen to comedy as they recover. It could be standup comedy CDs and DVDs or funny movies or even written publications like Mad magazine or comic books. It could help pass the time for patients, and even the employees could use it. I’m sure a medical staff has stress too.

I realize that these are all pie in the sky dreams, but I want to put it out there in the universe so hopefully someone else will see it and act on it. Even if it’s bouncing an idea back at me, I’ll take whatever I can get and move forward however I can. This is an idea that has no time restrictions.

We always see photo ops where celebrity athletes go in and meet sick kids in the hospital, and I think that’s a great thing don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see more of it, but what better source of cheering people up who need it is there than comedians. This would be a way to really be of use.

I think this would be a great place to develop the King of Uranus character. It’s so goofy that it can’t help to at least get the attention of somebody in a sick bed and take their mind off their pain for the moment. One way or another, I really want to reach out and make a hurting person laugh.

Hearing of Scot’s current situation and Jim’s recent issues has brought this idea to the forefront of my thoughts. It would be a great opportunity to match comedians with recovering patients and I’m going to keep thinking of what I can do to get this ball rolling. Service is what life is about.

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It's always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It’s always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

The Best Revenge!

October 19, 2012

October 17th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

   “The best revenge is massive success.” That’s one of my very favorite quotes of all time, and it comes from Frank Sinatra. If there was ever anyone who got his revenge, it was him. Who else is even close when it comes to showbiz legends? Elvis? Michael Jackson? Okay, but that’s about it.

By all accounts, the Josh Albert fundraiser at Shank Hall in Milwaukee this evening turned out to be a massive success on many levels. I couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to be a part of it, and I was proud beyond words of everyone who came together to pull off such a fantastic event.

There was definite electricity in that room I don’t think I’ve ever felt before, and when Officer Albert entered the room in his wheelchair it was like the Pope showed up. A hush throughout the club was immediate as cameras from every television station in town captured a magic moment.

It was very emotional, and I knew right then we didn’t even have to do a show for this to be an overwhelming home run. This alone would have been enough, but there was a lot more positivity in store for everyone as Mayor Tom Barrett and Chief of Police Edward Flynn presented Officer Albert with a mayoral proclamation declaring it ‘Joshua Albert Day’ in the city of Milwaukee.

The audience gave Officer Albert a well deserved standing ovation, and emotions were running high as people were wiping away tears as he spoke from his heart. I totally lost it, and was crying like a baby. Knowing that I had even the slightest pinky of a hand involved in helping make this happen gave me a feeling of accomplishment like I’ve never had. This was the right thing to do.

But I don’t take credit for anything other than bringing together an all star cast of giving people to do what they do. Everyone did their part to perfection, and watching it all come together lit my fuse of hope that good people actually can make a difference on this planet infested with morons.

So many amazing people stepped up I don’t even know where to start. Drew Olson was simply magnificent as the host of the event as I totally knew he would be. He held the evening together, and knew how to keep things moving and put a balance between the serious and funny. Honestly, I don’t think I could have done as good a job myself and I’ve got experience. He really nailed it.

Peter Jest really came through as well. He’s the owner of Shank Hall, and we’ve always had an excellent working relationship. He’s a very funny guy, and also good friends with Drew. It was a perfect fit all around, and we all knew it. Peter generously donated the space, and I appreciate it.

Chris ‘C.P.’ Peppas is another pillar of generosity who has supported everything I’ve done for at least twenty years. He’s a talented writer, and wrote a great piece for The Examiner which was greatly appreciated, as was his bride Mary Lynn’s donation of her signed Cecil Cooper baseball.

I can’t forget Ted Perry of Fox 6 either. He’s another one who has done more than expected on several occasions, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his support not only tonight but through all my trials and tribulations of many years. He’s got a giant heart, and I owe him about fifty favors.

The comedians on the bill showed up to support the cause as well, and I appreciate every single one of them. Russ Martin was a former Deputy Sheriff, and went to all the police stations and put up posters. Jason Evans is the creator of www.mkefunny.com and also helped spread the word.

Phil ‘Ziggy’ Dunham schlepped in all the way from Detroit at his own expense to be part of the evening, and he didn’t have to do that. All these guys are rock solid and golden in my book and I was proud to have them participate in a big event like this that spread so much uplifting energy.

I wish I could bottle the vibe from tonight and pass it out in the world where it’s needed. I’d do it for free, as the results produced would be worth far more than anything money could buy. I put the word out to my best connections, and they came through and made this a night to remember.

My friend Mike Staral came out with his wife and we’ve known each other since kindergarten. He saw the event mentioned on TV and the company he works for is going to make a donation to the cause. I hadn’t seen Mike in years, but he’s always been yet another good hearted kind soul.

There are far too many people to list who pitched in to contribute to this night, but images keep popping into my mind and I don’t want to exclude anyone. John O’Brien drove all the way from Wilmette, IL as he has done so many times before to support anything I’ve done, success or flop. There were more than a few flops in there, and I’m delighted he got to see one that worked well.

Marilynn Mee from WKLH showed up unexpectedly, and auctioned off an hour on the air as a guest DJ. That was very nice of her to do that, and it brought in $750 which was more than all of us expected. I’ve always liked and respected Marilynn, and I think she is very talented on the air.

My cousin Katie and her brother Andy and her mom Wendy were all a big part of it too. I said I’d take care of the comedy part, but they did their share from a police angle. I don’t know about that world, and they came through and we were a very effective team. Katie thinks the world and more of her partner, and anyone would be lucky to have a work relationship that runs so deeply.

It was a huge thrill to finally meet Josh Albert as well. I’d heard nothing but great things about how good of both a person and police officer he is. He had people around him all night, but I did get a chance to say hello and when I did his eyes lit up and he thanked me profusely. He gripped my hand with a tight squeeze, and I could feel his gratitude. I hope this will inspire him to heal.

I would do this all over again and then some in a heartbeat. This is the kind of vibe that makes life worth living. It’s pure, vibrant and completely untouchable by anyone who continues to be a detractor of mine despite my attempts to make peace whenever possible. I’m sorry that everyone can’t get along, but after one or sometimes a dozen apologies all one can do is just let things go.

This wasn’t about anything other than doing something that I think anyone should do who has the opportunity. This time it was my turn to pitch in, and I did the best I could. Anyone who isn’t a fan of me personally has that right, but nobody can say this evening wasn’t about helping out a fellow human being. I got my revenge by spreading good energy, and that’s the best kind of all.