Posts Tagged ‘Ken Stevens’

Peer Pleasure

January 12, 2014

Friday January 10th, 2014 – Frankfort, IL

It’s no secret that if anyone wants to change their results they must first change their method of doing things. That’s been my entire life mission of late, and boy is it working – and well. I feel a dramatic and dynamic change coming over me, and I really like it. It’s what I’ve always wanted.

I am making correct decisions the vast majority of the time these days, and tonight was a prime example. I originally had a comedy show booked near Rockford, IL, but the show was cancelled due to icy roads and bad weather. Actually they said it was ‘postponed’, but I’m still out money.

Whether it ever gets rescheduled is debatable, but that’s not the point. I had a sudden night off, and I had a choice to make. Do I stay home and mope around, or do I get in the car and go out to visit someone in the Chicago area? I’m normally not a social butterfly at all, especially in sloppy weather. I could have easily stayed home and done el-zilcho, but I felt I needed to take action.

I saw a mention online that Jimmie Walker of ‘Good Times’ was performing tonight at CD & ME in Frankfort, IL along with my friend Todd Link. Todd opens for Jimmie regularly, and it’s a great gig for him. I hadn’t seen him in a while so even though it was almost 100 miles one way, I got in the car and started driving in the sleet. Something told me that was the correct destination.

The roads weren’t horrible, but they were a bit of a concern. I slid around on the ice a little, but nothing that would make me turn around and go home. I’ve driven in winter conditions my entire life so it’s no big deal. I’d made up my mind I was going to go, and that was it. I was committed.

The show started at 8, and I arrived around 9. Jimmie was already on stage, but I saw Todd and comedian Ken Sevara who books the club. They reacted like the Pope had just arrived, and that’s extremely flattering. It’s great to feel welcomed, and I was. That alone made the drive worth it.

I work maybe once a year at CD & ME, and I’ll be there again January 24th. The staff there has always treated me like royalty, and they did again tonight. One of the owners Dean came over to shake my hand immediately, and that doesn’t happen often with club owners. It really felt good.

The vibe in there was wonderful, and had I decided on staying home I’d have missed it all. I’m glad I made the choice to go, and I enjoyed every minute of it. These are the kinds of evenings to remember, and years from now nobody will ever remember that I didn’t perform or that I had to drive in less than ideal conditions. There were a lot of reasons to say no, but I’m glad I said yes.

Another person who decided to come and hang out for the night was Ken Stevens, owner of the comedy club ‘Riddles’. He and Ken Sevara are long time friends, and he has also booked Jimmie several times as well. He has had some severe health issues of late himself and is fighting cancer. He spent a lot of time in the hospital, and by all accounts went through some very rough patches.

I hadn’t seen Ken in a while, but other than dropping some weight he looked and sounded very good. I told him how much we were all rooting for him as we followed updates on Facebook that his sister made during his ordeal. It was inspirational to hear of how he got through it, and I have not had the chance to see him in person to tell him. That was another reason I was glad I came.

One of the true treats of the standup comedy experience is getting a chance to hang with other comedians after the show. Most of us live for it, and other than the shows themselves it’s one of the highlights of our entire lives. Anyone who has been a full time road warrior has memories of sitting in a diner with other comics until the wee hours of the morning making each other laugh.

It’s a much higher and purer level than even the shows themselves, as we are the best audience of anyone. We’re all in the same boat and have a lot of shared experiences and common points of reference already in place that don’t need to be explained. Laughter between comedians is really sweet, and very often getting them to laugh means more than getting laughs from paid audiences.

After the show tonight we got a chance to hang out in the club after everyone left, and it was an absolutely delightful experience. Jimmie, Ken Sevara, Ken’s wife Lori, Todd, Ken Stevens, club owner Dean and I all sat around a big round table and experienced the magic of why we do this.

Everyone at that table was in or around the business, and the stories started flying and laughter was coming from all directions. That particular group dynamic was absolutely perfect, and I saw that everyone was enjoying every second. Times like this just don’t happen as often as they used to, and we all knew it. We could all let our guards down, and be ourselves. Everyone enjoyed it.

I have nothing but respect for everyone at that table. I’ve known them all for years, and they’ve paid their dues and then some. Ken Sevara and Lori lived in Los Angeles in the ‘70s, and were in the boom years of comedy out there. They knew Jimmie from those days, and I have nothing but respect for him as well. That guy is a true road warrior, and continues to work after all this time.

He said that he has been on TV every single day somewhere for 45 years, and that’s impressive to the point of awe. Even more impressive is that he still works at the craft of standup comedy. It isn’t easy, but he still adds new material and works at it when he could easily just phone it all in.

Todd Link is another guy I respect very much. We met in Salt Lake City when I lived there and bonded instantly because we’re both huge sports fans to the point of obsession. He knows former NBA player Tom Tolbert pretty well, and we’ve just always stayed in contact. He’s a funny guy, and we’d love to eventually start a group of comedians that love sports and focus on that market.

Todd is based out of Nashville, where he takes care of his father who needs his help. That takes a lot of time and effort, and I commend Todd for making that difficult choice. It’s never the easy road to be selfless and care for someone else before one’s own needs, but Todd does exactly that. These are life decisions far more than just career ones, and we all have to make them at times.

Sitting at that table made me extremely proud to have spent my life in service of others making strangers laugh, and I felt completely at home in everyone’s company. Not only that, I savored it because I knew all the sacrifices everyone else had made to be there as well. The audience saw a fantastic show on stage from Jimmie, Todd and Ken, but there was an even better one afterward.

I’m going to be performing at CD & ME in two weeks with my friend Jimmy McHugh. That’s another long time comedy road warrior I love as a friend and respect greatly as an act. If you can, come see us. http://www.cdandme.com. I made a fantastic choice tonight. I am finally smartening up.

As a comedian, hanging out with other comedians after the show is almost as much fun as being on stage. Tonight I got a chance to hang out at CD & ME in Frankfort, IL. I'll be headlining there on Janary 24th. www.cdandme.com.

As a comedian, hanging out with other comedians after the show is almost as much fun as being on stage. Tonight I got a chance to hang out at CD & ME in Frankfort, IL. I’ll be headlining there on Janary 24th. http://www.cdandme.com.

Jimmie Walker has been on TV every single day for 45 years. How many people can say that?

Jimmie Walker has been on TV every single day for 45 years. How many people can say that? http://www.dynomitejj.com.

My friend Todd Link is a bigger sports fanatic than I am. I didn't think that was possible. He's also a very funny comedian. www.jokertodd.com.

My friend Todd Link is a bigger sports fanatic than I am. I didn’t think that was possible. He’s also a very funny comedian. http://www.jokertodd.com.

Ken Sevara has his own talk show on AM 560 WIND called 'Fly By Night'. www.kensevara.com.

Ken Sevara has his own talk show on AM 560 WIND called ‘Fly By Night’. http://www.kensevara.com.

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The Power Of Nice

January 26, 2010

Saturday January 23rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Today I was surrounded by flat out nice people. All day. And all night too. What a treat it was, and I’m recording it here so next time I’m forced to deal with any one of a number of rotating pukes, maggots and wankers, I can look back and find some encouragement in the fact that there absolutely are a number of quality souls sprinkled throughout this life.

I think they’re sprinkled way too thinly, but they’re around and I cherish every one I get a chance to meet in person. They stand out like a rapper with an accordion and their life’s goal is to please others. Period. Nothing else matters. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life, even if I haven’t always achieved it. More often than not though, I’ve been able to nail it.

Nothing feels better than making someone else feel good, and those who know that will go to the ends of the earth to do it for as many others as possible. A few get recognized as celebrities, like Mother Theresa or Gandhi, but most good people live very low key lives.

I had lunch with Cara Carriveau today. We worked at The Loop back in 2004, and now she works at WTMX “The Mix” following Eric and Kathy‘s morning show. She also has a website at http://www.carasbasement.com where she interviews mostly music related people, but occasionally a few others. I was her first interview when she started and it was a blast.

Cara is a total pro and works relentlessly on not only her career, but at being a mom too. She has two wonderful kids named Jeri and Sam, and they came to lunch too. I met them years ago when Cara had station staff parties at her house and they’re both just super kids.

People like Cara and her kids make life worth living. That whole staff at The Loop was loaded with top notch people from Spike Manton and Max Bumgardner who were on the morning show with me, to Cara who did middays, to Seaver who did afternoons, to Byrd at night, to Mark Zander overnights. We all got along and should all still be there today.

But, that’s only our opinion. Those intellectual gorillas at Emmis Broadcasting decided to blow us all out the door except Byrd. Byrd is a major league rock jock talent, nobody is disputing that. I’m glad he has a job and he deserves one, but so do the rest of that group.

Cara has bounced back nicely at the Mix and she still sounds like the big time talent she always has been. I know how hard she works at everything and was delighted to hear that she’s happier now than at any other job she’s ever had. That’s rare in radio. Good for her.

Tonight I did two more shows at Riddles and the entire staff there are unbelievably nice from top to bottom. Ken Stevens if the owner and it starts there and trickles down to Rick the manager and Patty the bartender to the wait staff and everyone else. The vibe radiates.

How can a person not want to cheer for a Cara Carriveau or a Ken Stevens or any other quality person to thinks of others and makes life better for everyone around them? These are people I want to not only be around more, but emulate as well. They‘re the real deal.

Riddles

January 22, 2010

Thursday January 21st, 2010 – Alsip, IL

It never hurts to have a new place to work, especially in the Chicago area. Zanies is my home base for comedy club work, but they don’t have a club on the south side. There was a rinky dink room I used to work, but that wasn’t worth the drive. It never paid very well.

Chicago is a huge market and there are literally millions of people who might like to see a comedy show, but there are way too few clubs to serve them all. Zanies has been around forever but there’s a lot of territory that doesn’t have anything. The south side of Chicago has been wide open for a while now, and I’m glad to see someone has finally claimed it.

Riddles Comedy Club is where I’m working this week. They used to be open for a long time but the owner sold it and then it closed. They’ve reopened in a new location and the original owner is back in charge. The website is http://www.myriddlescomedyclub.com and the room is really gorgeous. It’s nice to be working for competent people who love comedy.

I only worked at their old location one time. I was driving to and fro from Milwaukee as I remember so I was probably working at 93QFM doing mornings. It was a long drive and at the time the shows ran from Tuesday through Saturday. That’s a lot of time on the road and I just never went back. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the room, I just had other options.

I’d heard the original owner Ken Stevens decided to reopen in a new location and he’s a good friend of Ken Sevara, one of Jerry’s Kidders. Ken Stevens asked Ken Sevara if there were any strong acts in the area he might be able to use that he may have overlooked and my name came up. I got a call from Ken Stevens and got a booking. That’s how it works.

I’m very grateful to get the work, and it taught me a lesson. I really do need to get better at keeping my name out there in front of potential bookers. I could have had tons of work through the years at the old club, but I just never went after it. Zanies has always been my home base in Chicago, but since there’s no south side location they’re fine with Riddles.

How many local weeks of work did I blow by not staying in touch over the years? I had as much road work as I wanted, so I guess I never thought about it. Ken is a very nice guy and I’m sure we would have gotten along great but it just didn’t work out that way. Now, with clubs closing and the economy the way it is, I’m going to be smart and stay in touch.

There are quite a few other places I’ve made the same mistake. I’ve either worked there in the past, or they know my name well enough for me to approach them and at least be in the mix of possible people to book in a fallout situation. I’ve been very lax at my duties of staying in touch with those who could possibly book me and it needs to stop immediately.

This is a wake up call. I need to start reconnecting with everyone and stay in touch on at least a semi regular basis. I hadn’t talked to Ken Stevens in about 20 years. That’s just not smart. Even if I didn’t work for him, I should have kept in touch. Who knows what I may have missed? This is yet another area of life in which I could stand a major improvement.