Posts Tagged ‘Laughing Skull Festival’

Where’s My Colonel?

February 19, 2013

Saturday February 16th, 2013 – Mishawaka, IN

   My stress level is down considerably. I had about as productive of a day on the road as I could imagine, and after two solid shows last night I’m feeling pretty good. My show is as ready as it’s ever going to be, and I’m in full bloom as a performer. There were two very different crowds last night, and I handled them both with ease if I do say so myself. I am at the very top of my game.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever and I am well aware. It took an unbelievable amount of scraping, clawing and self sacrifice to get here, but I totally feel I am in control on any stage. I’ve reached a level few ever get to, and it feels satisfying to know that I’ve stayed with it for so long.

I could easily have given up years ago and logically I probably should have, but I know deep in my heart I would have ended up much more miserable than I am now – and the main reason I am miserable now is that I want to be working more. I have found the thing I absolutely love to do.

I might not love the constant travel or the politics or the stress of always having to stay booked every week, but when I’m on that stage it feels like home. I finally feel like I’m starting to know what I’m doing up there, and that confidence adds rocket fuel to the mix. I’m on a higher level.

Not many people in any pursuit have paid the dues I have, and I’m starting to see results. What to do with those results is beyond me, but I have to think someone else has to see it at some point and raise me to a higher place. That person who ‘discovers’ me will end up looking like a genius.

I’m to the point now I can’t do much more by myself. I’ve taken my show to a higher level, but if nobody on a higher level in the business knows who I am I will continue to live hand to mouth and I just don’t want to do that. I’ve put far too much effort into this to remain unknown forever.

I’m really looking forward to the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows in Milwaukee coming up in April, but that’s not the best I can do. It will be fun to work a professional stage, but as far as taking my act to the next level it’s already there. Now it’s a matter of presenting it as such and getting paid.  

   These people in Mishawaka this weekend didn’t get cheated in the least. They got basically the same show people will get who pay top dollar in a theatre, and they loved it. People stood in line after all four shows this weekend to shake my hand and tell me how much they laughed, and that absolutely never gets old. I smiled and thanked every one of them, but I’m the one getting hosed.

I have a great problem but it’s still a problem – my act has exceeded my level of status and it’s time to move up. I’ve graduated from the commando bar gig scene and I want to get that elusive following I’ve been chasing for so many years. I want people to come out specifically to see me.

I’m not getting that doing what I’m doing, so I’ll have to find help. Maybe someone I meet at the Laughing Skull Festival next month will be able to help and that’s my focus going in. I will put those vibes out there and let the universe find me that person or people. This is the right time and it won’t take all that much to get something exciting on track. Elvis needs to find a Colonel.

Solving The Puzzle

February 13, 2013

Tuesday February 12th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Tonight I had the great opportunity to headline at Zanies in Chicago, and I didn’t take it lightly. I have headlined there countless times before, but I’ve got a more pressing purpose these days as I get ready to participate in the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta in March. I intend to kick ass.

Anyone who has seen me when I’m on my game knows that I am a high energy wrecking ball on stage. I like to pound an audience into submission until they can’t take it anymore. I enjoy it when people come up to me after a show and tell me their stomach hurts and they can’t breathe.

To me, that’s quality customer service. I want people to leave my show with a hurting stomach and in tears whenever possible. What other business has that for a goal? Maybe horror movies or amusement parks, but that’s about it. I don’t think Macy’s or McDonald’s desires those results.

Tonight’s show was a challenge, and I rose to the occasion. Sometimes week night crowds tend to be a bit stiff, and that’s how it was tonight. They were also diverse – which may sound good in theory in life but it makes comedy a lot more difficult. Different people laugh at different things.

There were young and old, white and black, Jewish and gentile in the audience tonight and for a Tuesday when the President spoke it was a surprisingly full house. Some were rather rowdy up front, and that made it hard for the opening acts Michael Issac and Denise Ramsden. I’m a fan of both of those acts, but this was no picnic for either of them tonight. That audience needed a slap.

Fortunately, I was the right man for the job. I’ve got years of experience slapping stiff crowds into shape, and that’s what I had to do tonight. No offense to Michael or Denise, but sometimes a comedian needs to have a passing gear to accelerate to a place that whips an audience into shape.

Part of that is confidence, and another part is experience. I’ve seen more stiff audiences in my day than Michael and Denise combined have seen crowds period. I should know how to handle it by now, and I do. Those guys didn’t do anything wrong, but this is a rough game. The public can be a cruel animal and trying to make them even listen up much less laugh can be a daunting task.

I got the attention of most of them, but not all. Some people will just never get it that a comedy show is meant to be watched in silence, and talking is not part of the mix. It’s rude, ignorant and just plain stupid but it has gone on since live shows began and isn’t going away any time soon.

Still, I did the best I could with what I had to work with and ended up getting most of them by the end of the show. It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t let up and was proud of myself for staying with it the whole time. I could have phoned it in, but I never like doing that. Each show is an individual puzzle to solve, and not all of them get solved. When a tough one does get solved, it’s satisfying.

I made it even harder for myself on purpose by mixing up my material so I’d have to think on my feet and be even more involved. I closed with what I normally open with, and vice versa. It’s harder that way, but also more of a challenge and I love that. I’ll be ready for Atlanta in March.

Back On Television

January 29, 2013

Thursday January 24th, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN

This year could just end up being my best one after all! I caught a totally unexpected but highly appreciated break this evening by being asked to participate in a television taping just outside of Indianapolis in the town of Danville, IN at a gorgeous historic venue called The Royal Theatre.

Tom Sobel from Louisville, KY suggested me for this gig and I’m thrilled he did. I have a very good relationship with Tom, and I’m flattered he thought of me when he heard there was one last spot available. He asked if I wanted it, and although it didn’t pay I took it to update my resume.

Any time it’s possible to get on a TV show I need to take it. That’s how people get discovered, not only by fans but other TV shows. When I was on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’ on CBS it was seen by the producer of Byron Allen’s ‘Comics.tv’ and I got on that show as well.

Tonight’s show was a winner all around, and an absolute joy to be a part of.  It was a taping for Comcast and apparently will be for On Demand viewing. There were nine acts on the bill and we each did an eight minute set along with an interview. There were no weak acts and it was a blast.

It was one of those nights where the right crowd was in the right venue for the right acts and all of us knocked it out of the park in perfect order. Everything went exactly how it was supposed to and when that happens standup comedy can be a wonderful experience. This was worth my trip.

The show was produced by a guy out of Indianapolis named Mark Craycraft. He’s been doing comedy since the ‘80s, and we crossed paths early on. I didn’t think he’d remember me from that long ago, but he did and couldn’t have been nicer to not only me but everyone else on the show.

There were no divas on this night, and everything just fell into place perfectly. We all got along splendidly, and I wish I could bottle up the vibe and spread it around the comedy world. This put me in a great mood, and gave me hope for other great things happening this year. It’s about time.

This was a perfect practice run for the Laughing Skull Festival in March, and if it’s any hint of things to come I’m more than ready to be seen by someone who can make things happen. I had a killer set, and Mark put me last because Tom Sobel knew I had experience and could throw heat.

I have a high energy level and it turned out to be the perfect order, but there were some quality veteran acts on the show including Scott Long, Mo Alexander and BT who also brought it home. Even the newer acts were well received. This was just one of those magic nights we all dream of.

It was an extra special treat to get to meet Mack Dryden, formerly of the super successful team of Mack and Jamie. They had a highly rated TV show, and had quite a remarkable run. I’m a big fan, and now Mack is doing corporate work. It was a thrill to hang out and talk before the show.

Mack stayed for my set when he didn’t have to and told Tom I was a ‘force of nature’. What an outstanding endorsement from someone I totally respect and admire. This was a great evening of fun all around, and I wasn’t even planning for it. If this is how 2013 is going to be, I’m loving it.

Laughing Skull Festival

January 20, 2013

Friday January 18th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Once in a while I’ll actually manage to pull off something halfway intelligent. It turns out I did exactly that several months ago and then completely forgot about it until today. I was reminded I had submitted myself for a comedy festival called ‘Laughing Skull Festival’ when I received the email informing me I had been accepted. It takes place in Atlanta from March 27-31 of this year.

Comedy festivals are relatively new on the horizon, and I haven’t had a whole lot of experience doing them quite honestly. As a rule, I’ve been too busy actually working to spend time trying to enter festivals which are usually a showcase where industry people gather to harvest ripe talent.

Montreal’s ‘Just For Laughs’ is a huge one that’s been going for decades, and there was one in Apsen, CO that HBO used to run. I have no idea if that one is still going, and that’s embarrassing for someone who claims to be in that particular business. No wonder I’ve not progressed farther.

I’ll painfully admit my weakest trait has always been my business acumen. I should know who all the major talent pickers are and where they are picking said talent at any given time, but that’s not something I’ve ever actively pursued. I’d just assumed that world would find me eventually.

Well, that’s about the most naive assumption I’ve made since believing the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny would keep bringing me money and candy into perpetuity. How could I think I had a chance to get seen if I’d never put myself in front of anyone who might be able to discover me?

I have no answers other than I have played the game very poorly. I was never sure of myself as far as talent was concerned, and wanted to be really ready when my moment arrived. I misjudged myself horribly in that department, as it turns out I had the talent all along but didn’t believe in it.

I’m not bragging, but when I’m on my game I can work a live audience with the best of anyone I’ve ever seen in person. It took years of effort to develop that, but the raw ability was there from the start. Not everyone has it, and I wasn’t aware of that in the beginning. I’ve been given a gift.

It’s like a baseball pitcher with a 100 mile an hour fastball. Not everyone has one, and the ones that do don’t always have it forever. It’s a delicate thing that everyone wants, but not all who get it become instant superstars. I’ve had one the whole time, but managed to avoid hitting pay dirt.

Whatever happened happened, and I can’t change a lick. What I can and will do is pick myself up and go down to Atlanta to fire my best fastballs in March. I’ll do what I do, and hopefully I’ll catch the eye of someone who sees how much effort has gone into preparing for this opportunity.

All I need is ONE person who gets it and has power to make things happen and my world gets changed in a heartbeat. Instead of worrying about speeding tickets on my way to Eau Claire and defective driver’s doors, I will have a whole new set of things to occupy my time and I want that. I know I’m ready for something better, and if it’s not this particular opportunity it will lead me to getting in front of that single pair of eyes that needs to see me. This is an exciting time to be me.