Posts Tagged ‘Lenny Bruce’

Building A Brand

March 22, 2013

Wednesday March 20th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

Today I needed to be in Milwaukee for a recorded video interview with Jason Evans who owns and runs a website about Milwaukee comedy called www.mkefunny.com. Jason is coming up the ranks as a comic himself, and I like him a lot. He’s a student of the game, and is paying his dues.

Jeff Lampton was also there, and he’s another Milwaukee comic I like and respect. Jeff has his own style and agenda, and it’s not one that most people would have the ‘nads to do. Jeff chooses to do what would probably be labeled as X-rated comedy, and that has always been dangerous.

Lenny Bruce chose that route as did George Carlin, Redd Foxx and a precious few others in the annals of standup comedy. There is an audience for that style of comedy, but more often than not those kinds of performers get blackballed and aren’t able to work places most other comics are.

It’s difficult enough trying to hack out a living as any kind of entertainer, but trying to fit into a controversial niche cranks those odds up past astronomical. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it sure does make the trip more difficult. I respect anyone who sticks to their guns and follows their inner creative vision, which Jeff is choosing to do. Hats off to him, and I wish him only the best.

I never chose to go that route, and it was a conscious business decision. Foul language doesn’t offend me at all. I’ve been around it as long as I can remember, but this style of comedy isn’t just about swearing. It’s about trying to make points about subjects that can be considered volatile or controversial by a large percentage of the public. It takes guts and skill to do that style correctly.

Lenny Bruce and George Carlin got arrested for what they said, and although it was wonderful publicity for both of them I never wanted to rattle those cages. I want to get laughs, and that will hopefully get me paid. Does that make me a sellout? So be it. I’m there to entertain my audience, and there is more opportunity to get work for someone who can work clean if word can get out.

That’s why I drove up for the interview, as it was about my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows coming up in April at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino. Hopefully I can attract comedy fans that follow Jason’s site, but I want to take it much farther than that. I want this to be part of the Milwaukee community as much as the subject matter I’m talking about. I want to be a brand.

   In a perfect world, this will be something that will be in demand locally from everything from church festivals to libraries to private parties to a stage at Summerfest or the State Fair. It will be a totally clean show, and I’m consciously choosing not to use any swearing at all. NONE. It’s not a nightclub comedy show. I’ve done that, but this isn’t it. This is designed for a broader market.

I want Milwaukeeans who have never been to a standup comedy show to become loyal fans of what I’m doing so they’ll come back again and again and send others. It will never be exactly the same show twice, as I’m going to allow for some audience input at times which will freshen it up and make each performance unique. It’s taken a lifetime to develop this show, but I am SO ready to make it a success. I’m grateful for this chance, and those who come see it won’t get cheated. 

100,000 Fans

February 6, 2013

Tuesday February 5th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Time to get to work on ‘Schlitz Happened!’ I’m thrilled for the chance to do it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of preparation involved. I want this to be the launching of a brand that will be sellable for years – even if it’s only to a very limited market. That market will be very loyal.

The appeal of this show in my mind is that it’s an insider’s club. If you happened to grow up in or around the Milwaukee area before about 1990ish, you’ll find it entertaining. If you didn’t, you will probably stare at it like watching a foreign movie without subtitles. I’ll be talking gibberish.

What’s good for me is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who will get exactly what I’m doing, and they’ll be my audience. Lenny Bruce spoke of wanting 100,000 fans and he’d put a career together entertaining those 100,000 over and over again. That’s what I’m looking to do.

Assuming there are 100,000 fans in the greater Milwaukee area that will love this show and be willing to come out and see it, how long would it take for everyone to see it once? This particular run at the Northern Lights Theatre wouldn’t come close to serving them all, and that’s totally ok.

It’s not realistic to expect to get booked there every week, but if it’s a hit how about a 100 seat venue of some sort? That seems like a doable number, and even three shows a week would make me a nice living for quite a while. Even if I did it one or two weekends a month I could do well.

I’d prefer to stay in one location – especially since I enjoy working for Potawatomi so much. If we can work out a deal there, I’m fine with it. Nobody will know until after April, so it’s nothing to even concern myself with now. What I need to do is focus all effort on getting ready for April.

I met with Mark Filwett of Lake County Geeks to put finishing touches on a website. He came up with a dead on design for the main page which features a classic collage of Milwaukee photos that convey the exact message I’m looking to give with the show. It’s all of what Milwaukee has been about for decades from beer to bowling to baseball to bratwurst. He nailed what I wanted.

The site will be up soon at www.schlitzhappened.com. I also got www.schlitzhappens.com, as I know people will confuse the title, at least at first. Mark gets the concept, and having a website is crucial to get customers who don’t live in Milwaukee anymore but would still enjoy the show.

I’ll bet there are at least 100,000 but probably a lot more that don’t live in the area anymore but would love to see a show like this. I’m going to have some local themed merchandise as well, so a functional website will be one of my wisest investments. I am claiming this base of customers.

There are a ton of potential products I could come up with, and I intend to do exactly that. The first and most important one is the actual show though, but I’m confident I can pull that off with nary a glitch. I’ve been performing my whole life, and this is right in my wheelhouse. I know all the material because I’ve lived it. It’s all ingrained deep within my soul just like it’s inside all the souls of the people who will become the biggest fans.  If I can get 100,000 of them, I’m golden.