Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

Kindness 101

June 28, 2014

Thursday June 26th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

No matter how many complicated problems I have or how disappointed or overwhelmed I feel – and I do on a daily basis – I have not forgotten that the only thing that matters is kindness. I am making it a priority in my life, even when nobody is looking. It’s what makes life worth living.

I’m obviously not perfect, but I feel myself getting into a groove and I really like it. I’m always on the lookout as to how I can make someone at the very least smile a little. That’s a positive, but it takes it to a whole new level if I can get an outward laugh. One to one laughter is comedy too.

Another of my grandfather’s countless wisdom pearls was “Find the ugliest person in the room and make it a point to be extra nice to them. They’ll appreciate it a lot more than everyone else.” I know that’s not P.C., but it’s SO true. Gramps knew how to cut to the chase with total candor.

I’ve always tried to be nice whenever a situation presented itself and I don’t intend to stop, but now I am actively seeking those opportunities before they happen. Holding doors for people in a public place is a great example. Just holding the door itself is nice, but it only takes a teeny tiny smidgeon of extra effort to make it an event. A deep bow and arm gesture can work wonders.

Sometimes a goofy little line like “PRESENTING…his (or her) ROYAL majesty…” will light up a stranger’s face and make them laugh out loud. It doesn’t work every time, but even when it doesn’t I find that especially funny. Imagine what the person must be thinking. I find it hilarious.

I also find that it takes my mind off my problems several times a day. We all hear how what we think shapes our lives until we’re sick of hearing it, but it really is true. We can only think about one thing at a time, and the more good things we focus on the less time there is for the ugly stuff.

This takes a concerted effort, and I am not saying it’s easy – especially at the start. I just know that as for me I have been putting a lot of effort in of late and I’m seeing results that I really like. My goal was and is to make kindness my habit, and to train myself to go there without thinking.

Another thing I have been working on is making a call a day to someone I haven’t talked to in a while and saying hello for no reason other than their name jumped out at me on my phone list. I try to be objective, and just scroll through my massive list and pick somebody out at random.

This has been getting outstanding results. I’m dusting off relationships that have been put on hold as life does its thing, and everybody has those. There isn’t time to keep close track with all the people we know, but this is a great way to let people know they’re still on the friend radar.

Yet another little deed I’m working on is writing a personal email to someone as well, telling them all the good things I can think of about them and how much I appreciate them. I don’t lie, and I really try to honestly seek out their good qualities and let them know it. Sometimes I have not heard back, and maybe those people think I’m a weirdo. That may be true, but I did mean it.

None of this means anything other than I think it’s the right thing to do. There are still idiots I can’t stand, but I refuse to let them waste my energy. I would much rather focus on those I like.

Life's magic password is KINDNESS. Pass it on.

Life’s magic password is KINDNESS. Pass it on.

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The Password Is “KINDNESS”

June 15, 2014

Saturday June 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Of all the posts I have ever made and all the writing I have ever done, I’d have to pick this one installment as my definitive work. It sums up who I am and what makes me tick, and when I put it up on Facebook I got unbelievably sincere responses – many from people I hadn’t heard from in years. This is what clicked with me that I am indeed a writer and not some typing schmuck.

It really took the pressure off as well with having to please anyone else with what I’m doing as a comedian. From now on I am calling the shots, and wherever it leads me will be where I go.

– – –

As I get older, I realize that the only thing that really matters in this life is kindness. That’s it. Everything else is pure and utter useless bullshit. We all have hopes and dreams and that’s great, but in the end it’s only what we do for others that really passes the test of time.

I used to think I wanted fame and fortune and all the dreams comedians have when they start out. As time slides away I can clearly see what a waste it is to focus on only that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting – or getting – it, but even if one does it’s no guarantee of happiness or lasting impact.

All too often little gestures or moments are what make the biggest difference, both good and bad. I know the bad side all too well, and there are a few people I have pissed off so badly they want nothing to do with me ever again.

Unfortunately those people are considered big in the comedy world, and it has cost me a lot of work that I could really use right about now. I still don’t know what I did to piss them off that badly, and it was completely unintentional. I said I was sorry, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

I don’t claim now or ever did to be perfect or without fault. My screw ups in life have been many and often. BUT – I like to think there is a heart in there somewhere, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life strengthening that muscle. I don’t know how or what I can do to make people’s lives better, but as long as I’m drawing breath that is going to be my razor sharp focus.

I may not ever get rich, famous or even beloved – but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the giving. My heart is still aching to the core about the passing of Dan Ronan. That kid touched a lot of people in exactly the way I am talking about. He was far from perfect either, but his core was pure.

I have a lot of contacts, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track of everyone. Facebook makes it a little easier, but there are many more that aren’t even on it. And I’m talking about one on one contact – even if it’s just for a minute or two. Planting those positive seeds every day are what life is all about.

When I told Dan’s parents about our road trip, his mother’s eyes lit up and for just a split second Dan was alive again. She smiled broadly as she told of how much that trip meant to him. Well, it must have meant at least a little because he ended up telling her about it.

Quite honestly it was no big deal to me at the time. Road trips are old to me to the point of being an unwelcome grind, but I knew Dan could handle it and he was thrilled to be asked. I remember fondly and vividly how much I was thrilled for my first road work, so I was passing it forward. That’s the kindness I’m talking about. It was little to nothing at the time I did it, and I forgot about it.

But when it came back from her memory at such a horrific time it was healing and cathartic for us both. Little moments like that are what I want to create more of with as many people as humanly possible until the day when I am in a coffin of my own. That could come at any time, and yesterday drove that point home deeply right through my already downtrodden heart.

If I have pissed you off even a little in our dealings – please accept my deepest and heartfelt apology. I was wrong, and I am very sorry. Dave Stroupe, Colleen Quinn and Al Canal from the Funny Bone chain and Bob and Tom think I’m the devil, and try as I might I can’t change it.

I said I was sorry, and I truly am. Nobody can make anyone accept an apology, but even they can’t change what’s in a person’s heart. I know I have one, and all I can do is move on and do the best I can. I’m sorry they’re so angry, but that’s on them. I’m not the dastardly scum bucket they seem to think I am.

My comedy career is going nowhere, and unfortunately that’s true for a lot of people – many with considerable talent. Talent is never the determining factor. It’s nice if one has it, but not the top requirement. Getting to the top echelon of show business is extremely rare for anybody. Hard work and luck are huge ingredients, and talent and timing are in the mix as well.

I’m really sorry to make this long rambling post, but I have so many raw emotions charging through my veins right now I can’t help it. I am still at the house of my friend Sheri who had a stroke before she was 50. She is alive, but every day is a struggle just to get out of bed and get dressed.

Perspective is everything, and I’m finally gaining some in life. The comedy game is brutal, and I fought through it for thirty years only to learn what’s really important – kindness. I hope I can make the most of whatever time I have left, and that time will be spent following my heart rather than trying to please some idiot in Hollywood I don’t respect. I’m playing a much more satisfying game now, and it’s one that everybody can win.

I’m sorry it took the death of such a vibrant soul to hit me this hard, but I don’t intend to make it in vein. Dan’s life has breathed new inspiration into my own, and has given me a razor sharp purpose I only partially felt before. I don’t intend to make long posts like this often, but I felt I needed to do this one and get it ‘out there’. My mistakes sure are, and those that hate me like to tell it to anyone who will listen. I can’t change that, but I can change my inner source of power, and I am doing that now. It’s all about the kindness. Period.

– – –

It may have taken years for me to find my voice, but after this particular post I think I finally have. It flowed out of me when I wrote it, and it got touched people’s hearts. That’s the goal.

Amen!

Amen!

Preach it, Aesop!

Preach it, Aesop!

Be Good

March 26, 2014

Tuesday March 25th 2014 – Island Lake, IL

OK, enough with the downers already. I don’t want to dwell on it all the time, but when I get in a rut it feels overwhelming. I’m just being honest with how I feel. It makes me laugh when I hear “Hey, a lot of other people are hurting too. Be thankful for what you have and shut your mouth.”

I get the message, but it’s not that easy. I never thought I was the only one with problems, and I still don’t. I realize all of us struggle at some point with something, but it’s still laughable to hear people haul out the “other people are hurting too” angle. Sorry, but that doesn’t help in the least.

What if I walked up out of nowhere to randomly kick someone square in the crotch with a steel toed work boot? Then, as they’re writhing in pain on the ground I hover over them and say “Hey, quit your sniveling. A lot of other people are in pain too.” Yes it’s a fact, but how does that help?

Another fact is, life is unbelievably hard. It’s harder for some than others, but at some point we all feel as if we’ve just taken a steel toed work boot to the crotch. What determines our character is what we do after it happens. It’s easy to drop out of the game and make excuses, but that’s not how to win. The real winners in life dust themselves off and keep going – and that’s even harder.

My individual personality – or maybe it’s just ego in disguise – is not about to let me bow out now. For whatever reason, I have always been attracted to the biggest challenges in any field of endeavor, and I’m not satisfied unless I win at the very highest level. That’s just the way I think.

Nobody cares that anyone is hurting, and I get that as well. My grandpa used to say “The world doesn’t care about labor pains – they only want to see the baby.” I don’t have a baby to show and that puts me in a precarious position. I won’t be happy until I do, and that’s why I’m frustrated.

I feel like I have so much to give, but most of it is still inside. If I didn’t have to keep worrying about bills every month I could devote more to what I feel I was born to do. Driving 500 miles to entertain 14 people in a sports bar on a Thursday night isn’t it. Time to aim far higher – but how?

I really don’t have a clue. It sure would be nice to get a subsidy from somewhere, but I have no idea how to look for that either. Are there any available grants for artists? Were there ever any to be had in the first place? Am I an artist at all, or just some delusional lunatic with a pipe dream?

I guess it all remains to be seen, but one thing I know I need to do is press on. Even though it’s not comfortable, and even though right now I don’t feel like it in the least – that’s the right call. I have more than a little experience in being in this position before, so it’s not like it’s new ground.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m going to get back out there and start making calls and sending out avails and start the whole process over. It’s the last thing I want to do, but the first thing I am going to do because that’s how a winner would react. I’m in the depths of the dumpster, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay there forever. Three months ago I was riding high. Who says I can’t be even higher three months from now? Or, I could be dead. In this life, there are no guarantees.

After thinking and rethinking about all of this to the point of exhaustion, I have concluded that there are only three things that truly matter – pleasing one’s self, doing one’s best every day and showing kindness to as many others as possible. That’s it. Everything else is meaningless fluff.

That’s a simple formula, but “simple” should never be confused with “easy”. The Golden Rule is very simple, but how many fail to practice that? How much more could things be broken down so even the biggest of idiots can grasp the concept? How about just two little words? “Be good.”

Shouldn’t that be the main goal for us all? I know it is for me and always has been, and even if I blow it – which I often do – it’s always the point of reboot. Being good starts with surrounding one’s self with good people and I’ve been a collector of those for years. I’ve compiled a fine lot.

Several have reached out in the last few days, and I was delighted to hear from them all. One of many tendencies I could improve greatly upon is reaching out when I’m at a sticking point rather than holing up like a gopher, but I have a hard time bothering friends. They have their own lives.

Dave Metcalfe is a comedian friend of mine from Utah, and a very funny guy. We met several years ago when I lived out there, but I had no idea he not only followed my blog regularly but is also a fellow dented can. His story is much more dramatic than mine, and that says a lot. I had no idea I had touched his life at all other than trying to be friendly whenever we would cross paths.

Actually, Dave’s wife wrote and thanked me for being kind to Dave and said he had been a fan of mine for years even though we hadn’t crossed paths in a while. Then Dave wrote himself and reiterated what his wife said. How flattering is it that I could touch someone without realizing it?

Dave is a funny cat, and his story is fascinating. Check him out on You Tube being interviewed by Kevin Nealon at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qniXvAAX6qE . I would gladly work with him anytime, and I hope we do sooner than later. His reaching out really made me feel appreciated.

Another top of the line human that happens to be loaded with talent is James R. Zingelman aka ‘Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z’. There’s another guy I met years ago that impressed me right away. He’s yet another reader I had no idea I had, and he has made some very kind comments of late.

One recent one that said it all in just a few words was “You’re not alone, Dobie.” Now I could get technical and say with a contraction divided into two words the total word count is five. Why make it an issue either way? The point is he took time to send needed words of encouragement.

My brother Bruce took the time to send some encouraging words too. How surreal is that? It’s taken decades to patch up that relationship, and seeing that was like the first tulip sprouting up at Nagasaki. What a dramatic example of hope for the future it is, and I couldn’t appreciate it more.

I think the world of the Dave Metcalfes and Rusty Zs of the world and so many more that have crossed my path through the years. I thank them for their kindness, and hope I can return it many times over not only to them but to those that can’t return it. Kindness is always worth the effort.

The Golden Rule is apparently not simple enough for some people. How about 'Be good'? Simple enough?

The Golden Rule is apparently not simple enough for some people. How about just ‘Be good’? Is that simple enough?

Dave Metcalfe is a very funny comedian from Utah. Find him on You Tube.

Dave Metcalfe is a very funny comedian (and dented can) from Utah. He’s on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHsGgbXgzkw.

James R. Zingelman aka Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z is also a big time talent. www.zingproductions.com.

James R. Zingelman aka Comedy Hypnotist Rusty Z is also a big time talent, not to mention a good soul. http://www.zingproductions.com.

Headline News

October 26, 2013

Sunday October 20th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

I’m finishing up another week at Zanies in Chicago, and it was very good on many levels. First it was a payday, and I can really use that right about now. Next, I enjoyed working with the other acts on the show. They’re all up and comers, and I always try to be kind to them whenever I can.

I remember when I started that it didn’t take many encouraging words from a headliner to go a long way in making me feel like I was part of the business when in truth I really wasn’t quite yet. It takes years of hard work to get real seasoning, but it sure makes a difference along the way if a headliner offers some words of kindness and encouragement. It’s my turn to do that when I can.

The headliner on a comedy show has a lot of responsibility, and it’s a lot harder than it looks to pull off that position. Everyone who does comedy wants to get there, but not everyone can pull it off. To do it well takes a lot of experience, and the only way to get it is by taking a lot of lumps.

Coming up the ranks in comedy is a brutal process, much like a butterfly working hard to peck its way out of a cocoon. It requires all available energy, and although it can appear to be horrific torture it is in fact what builds the strength required for flight. Mother Nature can be rather cruel, but there’s a plan in place for the bigger picture. The struggle at the front end has a payoff later.

There were three shows last night, and I wish I could have recorded them all to show those on the way up what can be expected. They were as different as different can be, but a real headliner has to be able to adapt to any situation. That’s why we get paid the most – the pressure is on us.

The first show was extremely tight. They had not eaten dinner yet, and were not in a laughing mood for whatever reason. They were stone cold, and the opening acts all had trouble with even getting their attention much less making them laugh. It got to the point where they brought it up and insulted them about it. This is a big mistake, but one I made myself when I was starting out.

I knew exactly what to do, and was able to win them over in a few minutes. I had experience to fall back on, and instinctively knew how to warm them up. By the end of the show they were on my side, and I had a long line of people afterward telling me how much I had “saved the show”.

I thanked them for their words, but I really didn’t save anything. The other comics haven’t had the experience I have yet. If they stay with it as long as I have, they’ll know what to do too. They haven’t paid their dues yet, and it takes a lot to know how to bring around a tight crowd like that.

The middle show was red hot, but that’s to be expected. That’s the money show, and everyone should be able to pull that one off. I brought my A game and “played the hits”. The crowd was in a great mood, and I brought home a rock solid show. That’s what a headliner gets paid for also.

The late show was rowdy. There was a bachelor party full of obnoxious drunken frat boy types, and they were very vocal. It spooked the openers to the point of them bailing early, and I’ve been in that scenario too. I don’t blame them, but again I knew what I had to do and went up there and took charge early. I barely had to deal with the group until the end, but by then I had established myself and it was easy to squelch them. It was a textbook night on how hard standup comedy is.

Standup comedy is hard - being a headliner is harder. Not everyone gets there.

Standup comedy is hard – being a headliner is harder. Not everyone gets there.