Posts Tagged ‘Mankind’

Astronomical Odds

January 24, 2013

Tuesday January 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   This just in from our news desk– LIFE IS DIFFICULT! Oh, and in a related story – it’s not fair either. I didn’t happen to just stumble across these particular revelations today, but it’s becoming a lot clearer as I get older that anyone’s chances of hitting anything really big are extremely tiny.

I happen to know a lot of people who happen to be in the creative arts in one way or another. It doesn’t matter if it’s standup comedy, acting, radio, music, writing, professional wrestling or any other artistic pursuit – there are zero guarantees the best people in any of them will ever hit it big.

The term ‘hit it big’ can be defined differently depending on who is asked to define it, but I am referring to the biggest of the big – the ‘A’ listers. I’ve crossed paths with literally THOUSANDS of aspiring artists of all genres in my time, and only a handful have ever made it to that top level.

I’ve been doing standup comedy the longest, and the three names – wait, four that pop into my head of those who really hit it are Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey, Larry The Cable Guy and Frank Caliendo. I would say all those guys have household name recognition with the American public.

I have no personal issues with any of those four, and I’m not jealous of their enormous success. BUT…I would like to be able to figure out exactly why it was only them. No offense to anybody on the list, but other than Frank being able to impersonate the current celebrities of his day I have no idea why the other three have been able to climb so high while so many others are struggling.

Again, I like Jeff, Drew and ‘Larry’ (not the name I knew him as when I met him, but that’s his secret and I’ll respect it) very much as people, and I’m happy they hit pay dirt. But can’t there be at least a little pay dust left over for the thousands of others who have rolled their own life dice?

SO many examples come to mind of people in all genres who have slugged it out for years, and only had minimal success. My friend Mike Moran comes to mind. He wrestled professionally for years, and came up the ranks with numerous marquee names of that field like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Mankind. He had fun and made a living, but that’s about it. He’s not rich or famous.

That’s no insult to Mike either. He’s a great guy, and very good at what he does. He paid a big price to attain his skill level, and he’s one of the best in the world. But that doesn’t pay any of his bills, and he is just another name on a list. Stone Cold Steve Austin isn’t any better of a wrestler.

I had dinner tonight with my speaker friend Todd Hunt. Todd works harder than anyone I have ever met when it comes to marketing himself, and he makes a living speaking at corporate events all over North America. Todd and I knew another speaker named John Powers who passed away this week. John was a wonderful guy and very talented, and he was successful but not Zig Ziglar.

Being at the top of any field is just plain rare – and talent alone does not dictate who gets there and who doesn’t. A lot of it is luck, with a lot of other things mixed in too. The sooner one learns to accept that the less insane he or she will become trying to chase something that just isn’t to be.

Celebrity Letdown

November 18, 2012

Thursday November 15th, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   Mike Preston called today, and that’s usually a sign something fun is about to commence. Mike interviews a wide range of people for his ‘Psychobabble’ cable TV show, and often needs a hand to help him with video shoots. His guests range from celebrities on all levels to strippers, and it’s always been big fun to tag along and be part of the adventure. If nothing else, it’s an experience.

Dealing with celebrities up close can be unpredictable, but I guess that adds to the fun. Mike is an outstanding interviewer, and always does his homework. He likes having me along because he doesn’t have to worry about me being star struck or saying the wrong thing. That can really be an issue, and he’s had it happen quite a bit in the past. He knows I’m not going to ruin the moment.

Today’s interview was the former WWE wrestler and current author Mick Foley. I’ve admired his work for a long time, both in the ring and in print. It’s difficult enough to develop a wrestling persona that resonates with the public for any length of time, but he has done it again and again.

First there was ‘Cactus Jack Manson’. Then it was just ‘Cactus Jack’. Then in the WWE it was ‘Mankind’ and then ‘Dude Love’. Then it was just Mick Foley – much like the metamorphosis of John Cougar Mellencamp. He’s had a very respectable run, and I’m sure he’s made a nice living.

My friend Mike Moran has been wrestling about as long as I’ve been a comedian, and we have both reached about the same level. We’ve made our livings at it, but haven’t managed to become household names. Only a few in any profession ever reach that level, and we didn’t make the cut.

We’ve both rubbed elbows with the biggest names in our fields however. I remember bowling with Jeff Foxworthy and sitting in a diner with Drew Carey just like Mike remembers driving in a car with Stone Cold Steve Austin and working in Puerto Rico with Mick Foley. Why the ones that make it big do has to do with a lot of factors – luck being part of the mix. It’s a crapshoot.

I’m not saying Jeff Foxworthy or Drew Carey or Steve Austin or Mick Foley don’t have talent. Sure they do, but so do Mike and myself. We’re in the mix when it comes to the pool of those to choose from, but for whatever reason we just haven’t been able to make that final leap to glory.

Mike has told me stories for years of making long drives and working in dingy hell hole arenas just like I’ve made drives to work dingy hell hole honkytonks doing comedy. At least in comedy I don’t have to take body slams night after night, but the bruises to the ego can be pretty severe.

Mike Preston had interviewed Mick Foley before, and said he was pretty laid back and also an interesting interview. I was looking forward to meeting him and bringing up Mike Moran’s name to see if he remembered working with him in Puerto Rico, but I wasn’t able to have that chance.

He showed up about an hour late, and apparently had some issues finding the book store where he was set to appear for the signing. He gave a short interview, but was scattered the whole time and cut it short to do his signing. This was a disappointment, but it’s one in many that went well.