Posts Tagged ‘Kim Mitschke’

Rust Removal

December 1, 2013

Saturday November 30th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

I’m back in my home town of Milwaukee for another four week run of “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. I love to perform on that stage, but it’s an adjustment to get myself back in the mode of doing this show.

The biggest obstacle to overcome up front is length of performance. The casino is expecting 80 minutes which is fine, but that’s significantly longer than the 45-50 minutes most standup shows typically are. That’s a lot of time to fill, and it requires a few times through to establish a groove.

I had a four week run in April, and that was my main focus then too. I felt myself get smoother with each performance, and I felt it again tonight. It’s a long way from being anywhere close to a finished product, but I have to go through the process and lay a foundation that can be built upon.

One thing I’ve been doing to prepare for this run is dropping in bits and stories from this show in my standup act over the last few months. They’re personal stories about my life with comedy added, and they fit perfectly with what I was doing. The audiences didn’t know I was practicing, but that’s exactly what I was doing. It paid off tonight as I was able to add those bits seamlessly.

I had people show up tonight that saw me in April, and they said “I saw you threw in some new material since last time. I liked it.” Mission accomplished. I also threw in some old material I had not done in several years, and that worked too. I put a lot of work into tonight, and will continue.

This is an ideal situation to shape this show, and I am not taking it lightly. I would never phone it in and cheat either the audience or the casino, but there has to be a place to experiment with the content and order so I can figure out what works best. This will be a constant process for a while.

It felt really good to pull off the 80 minutes on stage both shows tonight, but that’s just the start of the process. The next six performances over three weeks will involve constant tweaking of the order, and deciding what to add and leave out. This is a workshop, and I’ll do my due diligence.

On top of all that, I need to get myself out there and promote it. There are several media outlets in town to approach, and I’ll contact Kim Mitschke on Monday to get that process in motion. She is the media liaison for the casino, and really easy to work with. I’m sure she’ll have some ideas.

I’m glad we didn’t hit it hard promotionally for this first week back. I hadn’t done the show for eight months, and I wanted a chance to get my legs back. There’s always rust to remove, and that was to be expected. Still, we had a respectable turnout and it didn’t stink. That’s all I can ask for.

The next six shows are going to show significant improvement, and I will do all I can to get out there and put butts in seats. It really is a gorgeous facility, and nobody can complain about ticket prices as admission is free when someone signs up for a Fire Keeper’s card. http://www.paysbig.com.

This is exactly the right fit on so many levels. It’s getting me out of the bar gig scene, and into a theater situation which is always better. I know the audience for this show may be limited, but those that get it really love it. I’m going to enjoy the next six shows. http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

This is a caricature of me done by former Milwaukee Journal political cartoonist Bill Sanders. He gave it to me as a gift, and I'm extremely grateful. It's my logo for my show 'Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst'. It's playing the next three Saturdays in Milwaukee at the Northern Lights Theate. www.paysbig.com

This is a caricature of me done by former Milwaukee Journal political cartoonist Bill Sanders. He gave it to me as a gift, and I’m extremely grateful. It’s the logo for my show ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst’. It’s playing the next three Saturdays in Milwaukee at the Northern Lights Theate. http://www.paysbig.com

Roll The Credits

April 29, 2013

Saturday April 27th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   It’s been four weeks, eight shows and one fantastic experience, but “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” is coming to an end – at least for this run. I had a fantastic time with every aspect of the experience, but now all I can see is a big empty summer calendar to fill.

   Before I delicately tiptoe in that unpleasant direction, I have a very long list of super people to thank for helping make this month run so smoothly. By all accounts, it was a big success and will be back again for another run. That’s all I could hope for going in, and it happened. I’m thrilled!

   Everyone at Potawatomi was an absolute pleasure to work with, and I do mean EVERYONE. I felt welcomed from the start, and I felt like I was part of a team rather than an outsider booked to do my job and then leave. It’s common to be treated that way in comedy clubs, and this is better.

   From the top, Entertainment Director Bob Rech actually came out to see the show and talked to me like a human being rather than boss to employee. He gets the concept, and sees it as a product that can be developed over time to everyone’s benefit. This is the perfect location for this show.

   Kim Mitschke was also on top of it. She’s the media contact person, and set up the sneak peek preview show that went extremely well. Everything was handled in a professional manner, and it was a joy to see it unfold. I never doubted for a second this would be a big hit, and I was correct.

   There’s no way I could have pulled this off myself, and I know it. There was a video billboard on the freeway for Potawatomi that had me in rotation for the month, and I got all kinds of email and calls from Milwaukee friends telling me they saw it. I never could have afforded that myself.

   Then there was the actual staff at the Northern Lights Theatre. Steve in charge has always been a fan and supporter, and he had nothing but nice things to say about the show. Another Steve is a security person and he’s also seen me before. I feel at home in that facility whenever I show up.

   Mark Filwett did an outstanding job on the website www.schlitzhappened.com. He put together a collage of old Milwaukee stuff on the homepage that flat out kicks ass. It’s perfect for what the show is, and I know we’ll build the site as the show itself builds. I need to keep creating content.

   Jewel Olson was beyond helpful as my right hand person the whole time. She really was a help on many levels, and I’d equate her to a pit crew for a NASCAR driver. She had my back the four weeks, and made my life much easier. Every penny she cost was worth it, as was Jeff Lampton’s time to video record the final six shows. He and his brother Chris were also easy to work with.

   Mark Heleniak was also a huge help by putting together the recording of old media jingles that were played before the shows. Seeing heads snap back with recognition as something played was exactly the result I was looking for and I got it. The right people all came together for this project to succeed and it absolutely did. It went better than many expected, but everyone seems satisfied.

   Then there were all the people who showed up from family to friends from all areas of my past to strangers who showed up to see a show. I had overwhelmingly positive reaction from all of the above, and if someone didn’t enjoy it they surely didn’t tell me. I felt nothing but positive energy the entire eight shows, and even though I know I have a long way to go I’d still call this run a big success. I also thank Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Club, and anyone else I failed to list.

Schlitz Hits!

April 8, 2013

Saturday April 6th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   I did it! I officially turned an intangible dream into a rock solid reality, and it’s beyond exciting to know that not only did it go extremely well – it’s only just beginning. I’ve finally got myself a legitimate hit on my hands, and after more than my share of flops it feels so good I can’t sit still.

   “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” made its official debut tonight at The Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee for two shows, and I could not be any happier with how everything turned out. It went about as well as anyone could hope for.

   I knew going in I didn’t have a finished product, so my expectations were low. My main worry was if anyone would come out to see it, but that went away quickly as I watched a line of people waiting to get in the theatre at 7:50. I could barely refrain from jumping and screaming with glee.

   All I need is for people to latch on to this concept, and I’m going to be able to do this for years to come should I choose to and why wouldn’t I? I have all this local knowledge deep inside, and where else could I ever use it? There are enough people who know what I’m talking about to put it to use for everyone’s benefit. It’s going to take a lot more polishing, but the raw spark is there.

   The shows tonight were at 7 and 9, and there were more people at the first show then they have ever had for Bonkerz Comedy Club shows. BINGO! That’s all that matters right there. The show doesn’t have to be good unfortunately; it just has to get people in the door. I’m learning that’s the key ingredient in show business – even though it goes against all of my instincts as a performer.

   I’m not saying I don’t want it to be a good show, I totally do. But it doesn’t matter how good it may be if nobody comes out to see it. Tonight they did, and it was wonderful. The second show’s crowd was a bit less than the first, but together for both shows it was their biggest attendance for comedy shows ever. That’s not a bad way to start, but I’ve got a long road of hard work ahead.

   I’m not taking any credit for any of what happened tonight. Potawatomi has a high visibility in town with media, and they were the ones who got the word out. Bob Rech is the one who gave it the green light after hearing about it from booker Joe San Felippo. I sold Joe, Joe told Bob, and it grew from there. Bob gave it a shot, and Kim Mitschke and the P.R. department went from there.

   The word was put out, and then we had our dry run last Tuesday. Every opportunity was given to me to have the best chance of performing for a full house, and that’s how it came about. I had a few people I know show up to support, but the majority of who came out were total strangers.

   THEY are the ones who have to like this show, and judging from the response they totally did. I encourage audience participation at a certain point, and both shows had a lot of it – and exactly the way I wanted it. Nobody was yelling up drunken gibberish. They added to the show’s flavor.

   The first show was a challenge to maintain an hour and twenty minutes, but I did. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but being up there for that long isn’t easy. I threw in some standup bits to assure I wouldn’t totally bore them, and it worked. I did my time, and had plenty of material left.

   The second show felt a lot more relaxed. I felt a major improvement in only one show, and the crowd was really into it. I ad libbed all kinds of stuff, and they got it all. I’m not cocky, but I just know this is a big hit. It will take a lot more work, but I’m totally up for it. Schlitz is happening!

A Pleasing Teaser

April 4, 2013

 Tuesday April 2nd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   My main focus for today was getting to Milwaukee to do a teaser show for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ in the sports bar at Potawatomi Casino. They sent out a press release and invited media, but there were also casino staff and VIP members from their newsletter that got in too. It was a lot of fun.

They even came up with a spectacular spread of “Milwaukee food” which included bratwurst, sauerkraut, beer and cheese soup with gigantic cream puffs for dessert. It was first class from the ground up, and I was thrilled to see it come to life. This is exactly how I pictured it would work.

Everyone at Potawatomi has been a peach to work with. Kim Mitschke is razor sharp with her attention to detail, and she’s also great at keeping me in the loop of what’s happening. She was a wonderful hostess, and brought me on stage for my performance with a top notch introduction.

The timing wasn’t great as far as getting all of the media to come, but that’s not a problem. I’d much rather have word spread organically, and then get media coverage later. I know in my heart I have a marketable product, and this was a test run. It was great fun to do, and it passed the test.

The reason I know it passed the test is that people stayed after the event to ask questions about the actual shows, as they plan on bringing friends with them. That’s exactly what I want to hear! I want word to get out, and build a recognizable brand. I finally have my chance to be a draw.

One lady made a point to track me down and tell me how much she related to my mention of a Milwaukee television icon from the ‘60s and ‘70s named “Albert the Alley Cat”.  It was a puppet that was a nightly sidekick for a local weatherman named Ward Allen. The puppet would mangle certain words and it was very funny. ‘Humidity’ became ‘humidery’, and it was of local legend.

The lady who came up to me said she moved to Milwaukee from Spain at age 16. She thought it was crazy to have a puppet giving the weather, and she took a picture of her TV screen to send back to Spain to show her family how crazy they were in Milwaukee. Her face lit up like a kid’s as she told the story, and I knew right there this will be a big hit. I touched her on a special level.

There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people that have memories like that of local lore in Milwaukee, and I want to entertain each one of them. This show could run for years before I’d run out of fresh customers, and I’d be delighted if it does. I’ve hit a nerve here, and I’m beyond excited.

There’s no way I’ll ever be able to get to all of the localized talking points I have come up with in any one show, and that’s the beauty of this whole idea. I want people to keep coming back and bringing friends with them. The show will grow and evolve, and it will constantly refresh itself.

For once in my life, I really feel I’m in the right place at the right time. Everything fits together perfectly, and I know if I get people to come out they’ll LOVE this whole concept. I’ve been off the radar for so many years with so many projects, I know a hit when I see one. It feels different.

At the very least, I got to be part of a press conference in my honor. How many people can say they got a chance to do that? Jason Evans came from www.mkefunny.com with Brendan O’Day to film an interview and Matt Kemple from The Milwaukee Comedy Festival showed up as well. www.milwaukeecomedy.net  Those guys are supporting the local comedy scene, and I appreciate them both for covering this and making me feel important. My gut tells me this one is a winner.