Posts Tagged ‘Mark Gumbinger’

A Rose Knows

June 15, 2014

Sunday June 15th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

This is one more Facebook post I made earlier this week that I wanted to include in my blog update. It was a satisfying experience to make this lady’s day, and everybody won.

* * *

Kindness really does exist! My film director friend Mark Gumbinger pulled off a wonderful gesture yesterday by arranging a double dose of it for a person that really enjoyed it.

Mark lives in Kenosha, WI where I happened to have a paranormal talk radio show for five years. He is friends with a wonderful lady who was one of my biggest fans, but never called in because she was shy.

The lady’s name is Rose, and her 95th birthday is coming up this week. 95! WOW! She’s a super sweet lady, and Mark asked if I wouldn’t mind going to a surprise birthday dinner her family was throwing. How could I say no to that?

Mark stopped and bought a box of chocolates and a single Rose, and we went to a fantastic restaurant called ‘Michael’s On The Lake’ in Kansasville, WI. Mark introduced me to Rose and her face lit up like a little girl at Christmas. To her, I was a big celebrity, and I gave her a hug and told her how much I appreciated her listening to me all those years. She just GUSHED about how much she loved the show and said how witty and funny I was and how she looked forward to Sunday nights and would never miss it.

I had no idea what to expect quite honestly, and when Mark said 95, I expected a basket case frail old lady with a walker and tubes in her nose. I was pleasantly surprised to meet a wonderful lady that if I had to guess her age would have honestly placed her in her 60s. Her mind was sharp as a tack, and she was vibrant, intelligent and funny.

About 20 of her nieces and nephews showed up as well, and it was her night to shine. I loved seeing her beaming face as everyone told her how much they loved and appreciated her.

Then as the main event, WLIP’s star host Lou Rugani showed up in a tuxedo of all things, and planted a big kiss on her cheek. Rose is a big fan of Lou’s show, and she should be. Lou is a star in Kenosha, and one of the most talented radio broadcasters I have ever met. He’s suave and debonair, and very classy.

Rose was the center of attention, and the look on her face made it worthwhile. I would have driven 1000 miles in a blizzard on a riding lawn mower with a bad wheel to see her have that much joy at 95 years old. What a stellar gesture of kindness on Mark’s part to arrange it. All it cost him was two phone calls, and it made a lady’s birthday one she will NEVER forget.

When I think I am a low life maggot with nothing to hang my hat on, I see how people like Rose look at me like a big star and it keeps me going. What a fantastic positive experience all around. Thanks Mark! YOU are behind all this, and I am proud to call you and Lou – and now Rose – my friends.THIS is the kind of kindness I’m talking about, and it’s my new addiction. Absolutely EVERYBODY won, and I am flattered to be part of the mix.

Mark is a very talented director, and has done feature films, documentaries about shipwrecks like the Titanic and Edmund Fitzgerald, and most recently directed a three camera shoot of my one hour comedy live show called ‘The Dented Can Live’. He did a masterful job, and I would recommend anyone check out his work http://www.titanicdisasterdvd.com.

Mark Gumbinger made a lady's 95th birthday special. THAT'S the kind of kindness the world needs more of.

Mark Gumbinger made a lady’s 95th birthday party special. THAT’S the kind of kindness the world needs more of. Kudos Mark!

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Famous For A Night

April 29, 2014

Sunday April 27th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

Tonight I had the delightful opportunity to both donate to charity and enjoy a world class meal at the same time. It doesn’t get much better than that, and I’m glad I did it. The event was held in downtown Milwaukee at a restaurant called The Capital Grille, and it was a classy experience.

I had heard of that restaurant, but one always has to experience something firsthand to really be able to form an opinion. And even then, it might be a little off. I always like to give something at least two or three chances so I can make up my mind, but there isn’t always time in life for that.

Tonight was my first time, and if I never get back it was a grand slam so that’s acceptable. I’d find it very hard to believe they could top this experience, but it was a special night and everyone on staff was on their best behavior. I’m sure they always are, but tonight they were off the charts.

My film director friend Mark Gumbinger invited me to this event, as he thought I’d be one of a very few possibilities on his contact list that he could invite that would both appreciate the event and be willing to invest more than a few bucks for the experience. This was not a $9.99 fish fry.

I am certainly not swimming with the biggest financial fish right now, but I do make a point to donate to charities whenever and however I am able and tonight was a chance to do that. A good friend of Mark’s was the person putting on the event, and this was the fifth year it has been held.

He and his wife tragically lost their son to cancer at only 27. I can’t begin to imagine the horror that would be, and once again they were wonderful people who handled it with dignity and class. Mark introduced us and they couldn’t have been any friendlier and grateful that I could be there.

There were some high powered movers and shakers in attendance, as Mark’s friend owns a few businesses and his brother is a former mayor of Kenosha. Everybody was friendly, and I’d guess about 75 was the final tally. It’s been growing every year apparently, and I’m glad I was invited.

Mark and I were seated at a table with people from the cancer charity, and he brought it up that I was a comedian. I really can’t stand that as that’s not why I was there, but Mark wouldn’t let up one bit. I know he meant well, but I was really embarrassed. I’ve never been one to flaunt that in front of strangers, but they couldn’t get enough of it. They treated me as if I was a big time star.

Word got around the room that a “famous comedian” was in attendance, and I felt eyes looking at me as I went to use the bathroom. I know some people live for the attention, but that has never been my thing. I’m fine with doing my show and then escaping back into my obscure existence.

Just as we were about to leave, a lawyer made his way over to our table and asked if I wouldn’t mind answering a few questions he had about standup comedy. He wasn’t at all the typical slimy lawyer stereotype, and I tried to answer him as honestly as I could. I didn’t want to take away the focus of the event, but they raised some good money and I was honored to be a part of it. I think I may be asked to perform next year, and if it helps the cause I surely will. These are fine people.

I attended a charity event tonight in Milwaukee at a place called 'The Capital Grille'. Wow!

I attended a charity event tonight in Milwaukee at a place called ‘The Capital Grille’. Wow!

There are locations all over, but this one was outstanding. www.thecapitalgrille.com.

There are locations all over, but this one was outstanding. http://www.thecapitalgrille.com.

I was invited by my film director friend Mark Gumbinger. Here he is with singer Gordon Lightfoot.

I was invited by my film director friend Mark Gumbinger. Here he is with singer Gordon Lightfoot. http://www.edmundfitzgerald.com.

Movie Night

April 2, 2014

Monday March 31st, 2014 – Kenosha, WI

Every once in a while at least a little time off is necessary to charge up the batteries. I’ve been one busy little bumble bee, and hadn’t had a night just to goof off in a long time. Tonight was it, and purpose was well served. It was a relaxing night in the tree house with friends, food and fun.

My director friend Mark Gumbinger has a fantastic man cave in his basement, and I can’t think of a better place to watch sports, movies and just hang out with buddies. He has a TV with one of the biggest screens I have ever seen, full cable and a sound system that rivals any movie theater.

He also has a world class collection of guy stuff like Three Stooges videos, cartoons, and a lot of obscure movies that he likes because he’s a director. The people he invites are usually eclectic entertainment types, and likely to appreciate what’s on the bill. I always enjoy being a part of it.

Tonight’s guest roster included Lou Rugani from AM 1050 WLIP, and one of the biggest fans of film that I know. He knows a lot of interesting trivia, and it’s always an education to hear him throw in little known facts about little known films. I always learn something every time I attend.

Mark is a terrific party host, and there is always an ample supply of freshly popped popcorn and other snacks and ice cold beverages. It’s just a fun time to relax with people that appreciate good entertainment and interesting company, and I’m always flattered to be included on the invite list.

Before the main attraction, we’re usually treated to some opening entertainment to get us in the mood. Tonight it was some vintage Johnny Carson from before his Tonight Show days, and what a treat that was. He appeared on Jack Benny’s show, and was the host of “Who Do You Trust?”

We also watched a couple of episodes of “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. Mark likes to pop things in with no particular rhyme or reason other than they’re interesting, and these were tremendous examples. Both Johnny and Groucho were loaded with natural talent and wit, and we were all impressed at how well the content held up. We’re still laughing long after they’re gone.

The main attraction tonight was the 1981 movie “Thief” starring James Caan. That has always been one of my favorite movies, and I saw it when it came out. It’s rather dark, but James Caan is absolutely riveting in his role, and I never get tired of watching it. I’ve probably seen it twenty times, and a lot of comedians happen to like that movie too. I know several, and we quote lines.

James Caan plays an intense bad ass, and those are always the most colorful characters to quote from. Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” is one, as is just about anyone from “Goodfellas”. Caan has some classic lines in this role, and I’ve quoted them – even on stage – for many years.

I don’t know where Mark found it, but this version happened to be the director’s cut. I’d never seen that version before, and it was fun to see it in a different form. There were some scenes I’d not seen, and some lines that were left out. Lou hadn’t seen it at all, so it was fun to observe how he reacted. We could have gone to a theater and seen a new film, but this was so much more fun.

"Thief" starring James Caan is one of my all time favorite movies.

“Thief” starring James Caan is one of my all time favorite movies.

Tonight I watched it again with Lou Rugani in attendance. He's one of the most talented radio voices in the business. Check him out on 'The Music of the Stars' on AM 1050 WLIP radio in Kenosha, WI. www.wlip.com.

Tonight I watched it again with Lou Rugani in attendance. He’s one of the most talented radio voices in the business. Check him out on ‘The Music of the Stars’ on AM 1050 WLIP radio in Kenosha, WI. http://www.wlip.com.

Thanks to director Mark Gumbinger for hosting movie night at his world class 'man cave'. Here he is with singer Gordon Lightfoot.

Thanks to director Mark Gumbinger for hosting movie night at his world class ‘man cave’. Here he is with singer Gordon Lightfoot.

Marketing In Motion

March 16, 2014

Saturday March 15th, 2014 – Springfield, IL

Our worst fears came true this weekend, and the turnout has been small at Donnie B’s Comedy Club in Springfield, IL. There’s not a whole lot anyone can do, as Donnie was out there hitting it hard like he usually does. He’s always got a load of posters in his car, and we made the rounds at the local radio stations as is customary when I’m here. For whatever reason, it was a slow week.

It upsets me when promoters lose money, but especially Donnie B. There just aren’t that many club owners that hustle as hard he does to fill his club, but this just isn’t a ripe market. If he had a club in a big city – and I wish he did – I’d be sitting pretty. Still, I enjoy working for him here.

One thing I especially like is that he has his headliners do an hour rather than the customary 45 minutes. It’s a great workout for me, and I enjoy the challenge. He hosts the shows and promotes what he needs to, and then brings up an opener that does maybe twelve minutes tops. I love that.

It’s great practice for me, and the audiences are usually very friendly and receptive here for the most part. Even this weekend when the numbers weren’t big, each one of the four audiences was really into the show and I had a blast. I made up my mind to give them my very best – and I did.

One thing I need to work on is my sales pitch for merchandise. That’s a tricky procedure, but it needs to be done. It can’t be too long and ‘salesy’, but it needs to get the point across that I’ll be available after the show to meet and greet if they want to say hello. I consciously worked on my presentation all four shows, and it worked splendidly. I ended up selling something every show.

I have to credit my friend James Gregory for planting this seed, and he did it years ago. I have been dabbling in it, but I need to jump in with both feet and DO it. There’s a lot that goes into an effective sales campaign, and it all starts with the pitch from the stage. That’s what I worked on.

I also worked on including all things Uranus. I have some funny prototype t-shirts, and there is no reason I shouldn’t start selling them. I’ve had them for a while, but I never tried to push them from the stage. What a yutz I was, as they’re very well made and really funny. This week I threw them out there, and they were a big hit! It made me very excited when I saw them draw interest.

I know this gimmick is a winner. I can feel it. I sold the point that Uranus was discovered this week in 1781, and that I was starting a club called ‘The Uranus Movement’ for Earth inhabitants that were sick of the insanity here and wanted to escape. I didn’t sell the king just yet, but I will.

I have a book mark that says ‘I (heart) URANUS’, with the heart flipped upside down to look like a butt. Those went over like gangbusters, and I gave away a ton. It has my Twitter account listed which is @UranusTweets. Now that I’m giving these out I need to tweet something daily.

This is all part of the marketing game, and I’m making tremendous strides because I’m making it my focus. My shows are already rock solid, and they were again this weekend. I knocked it out of the park, and that’s not bragging. I know what I’m doing on stage. Offstage is the challenge.

That will come in time too, and it will be sooner than later. I will eventually discover where the exact right place in the show is to include my pitch, and it will be seamless. I’ll learn what to say, and when and how to say it to bring in the most sales. I’m already up there, why not sell product?

There’s no crime if someone doesn’t want to buy anything. I’ll still talk to them and be friendly like I always am. People will see that, and it will add to my sales. I need to organize myself as far as my table display goes as well. That’s going to take some work as well, but I’ll get to that too.

I think there should always be something free available for someone to take home with them as both a souvenir and a promo piece to pass out to their friends. The Uranus book marks are great, but I need something for Mr. Lucky and also the “Schlitz Happened!” show. I’ve got work to do.

I also need to come up with a package deal that people can buy that gets the numbers up. I have a one hour DVD shot in HD with three cameras done by my friend film director Mark Gumbinger. I’ve had it for two years now, but haven’t sold it heavily. What am I, an imbecile? In a word – YES.

I’m smartening up in a hurry, mainly because I need money more now than I ever have. I never felt comfortable selling merchandise before, but those days are over by necessity. I’ve got quite a few products to offer, and they’re not junk. The DVD is better than 99% of what I’ve seen others offer, and I shouldn’t feel ashamed to proudly display it after shows. It was hard work to make it.

Dealing with t-shirts is also a learning experience. The Uranus shirts are very well done, so I’m not ashamed to sell those either. They look professional, and the shirts aren’t those super cheapos like I’ve seen that will disintegrate with a single washing. I spent extra to maintain some quality.

I have six different varieties, but I only brought out three this weekend. That was enough, and I had all I could handle with that. I learned a lot, and it was fascinating to watch people’s dynamic as they decided what they wanted to buy. I sat back and shut my mouth so I could observe it all.

Sizes are always a part of shirt sales. I had two moms buy shirts for their teenagers, and wanted mediums. I only have XL, and even though that wasn’t what they wanted they bought because of the Uranus gimmick. Another guy wanted a 2XL, and I didn’t have that either. For the future I’m going to have to figure it out, but I will. Even getting it this far was a victory. I’ll keep working.

Price is another issue that’s going to take work. I charged $15 each for the shirts and DVDs, or both for $25. That’s a lot of money in my book, and I have to get that out of my mind as quickly as possible. I would always sell my CDs for $10, but I’ve seen people sell theirs for $15 and $20.

That extra money adds up, and I forced myself to smile and say the price rather than add “ But I’ll give them to you both for $10”. I have to learn to value myself and my products, and I’m on my way to doing that. In a very short time I can see myself having a system in place that works.

This weekend was a flop attendance wise, but a raging success in the fact that I was able to put a marketing plan into action and still give those that did show up hot shows. Thumbs up Uranus!

The great James Gregory may be trying to look crazy in this picture, but he's hands down THE best comedian marketer I have ever seen.

The great James Gregory may be trying to look crazy in this picture, but he’s hands down THE best comedian marketer I have ever seen.

His fans adore him, and I can see why. He's all about them, and gives them what they want. He's the king. www.funniestman.com.

His fans adore him, and I can see why. He’s all about them, and gives them what they want. He’s the real king. http://www.funniestman.com.

Heywood Banks runs a close second. Despite the cultivated crazy look, there's a razor sharp mind in there.

Heywood Banks runs a close second. Despite the cultivated crazy look, there’s a razor sharp mind in there. He gets it.

His CDs are hilarious, and he's got other stuff too. Check him out at www.heywoodbanks.com.

His CDs are hilarious, and he’s got other stuff too. Find him at http://www.heywoodbanks.com.

I'm modeling my own marketing after the best. I'm working on my cultivated crazy look.

I’m modeling my own marketing after the best. I’m working on my cultivated crazy look, and a varied product line is to follow.

Want a free book mark? Send me a mailing address and I'll send you as many as you like.

Want a free book mark? Send me a mailing address and I’ll send you as many as you can handle. Get BEHIND The Uranus MOVEMENT!

Just A Beer

December 18, 2013

Sunday December 15th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI

I have a friend I have known for probably thirty years who is unfortunately an alcoholic. He’s a nice person and we get along well, but after all these years he’s still drinking. He’s tried to give it up countless times, but he always goes back. It will probably end up killing him, and he knows it.

On one of his attempts to dry out years ago, he made a point to let everyone know how he was bound and determined to quit once and for all, and it was the most gung ho the rest of his friends and I had ever seen him. We all hoped he would be able to turn his life around and quit boozing.

About a month later I saw him at a restaurant with a beer. I couldn’t help seeing it in his hand, and he saw the puzzled look on my face and tried to explain himself. “Oh THIS? It’s just a beer. Those don’t count.” I didn’t say another word, and he has since slid back into his old lifestyle.

It’s not up to me to judge him or anyone else, but from where I sit I don’t see him ever making a permanent change. He might stop and start and pretend as if he is going to give it up once and for all, but he always goes back. He may be able to fool a few people, but never really himself.

That’s how I feel about my addiction to the Green Bay Packers. I go weeks without watching a game, but then I get an invitation to a friend’s house and I’m right back where I don’t want to be. It kills me when they lose, and despite all my attempts to not care I can’t help it. They’ve got me.

Everyone has left them for dead this year, and I see why. They have had devastating injuries to several key players including star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and they have been humiliated by several teams they likely would have ground into soup meat had they been playing at full roster.

My friend Mark Gumbinger lives in Kenosha, WI and has one of the best man caves anywhere. He’s got a basement that has a huge screen TV with Surround Sound, and there’s a fridge packed with food and drinks behind the bar. There’s a bathroom within 20 feet, and he’s a fabulous host.

That’s about as good as it gets for football watching, and he always sends out invitations for all his friends to show up whenever there’s any kind of sporting event going on. It really is a blast to hang out there, and I often go just for the company. I’ve grown to know and like the main core of guys that tend to show up, and it’s laid back and relaxed. Any guy would feel like he fits right in.

I spent the night in Milwaukee after two performances of “Schlitz Happened!”, and had to pass right by Mark’s house on my way home so I decided to stop and say hello. It was a late game and I ended up getting there right on time. They were playing Dallas in Dallas, and that’s a team they have traditionally had trouble beating. I didn’t hold out much hope, nor did the rest of the guys.

The first half was beyond our worst nightmare as the Packers got smoked like a picnic ham. It killed us to watch, but we’re all hooked so we sat there like idiots and stewed. I intended to leave at halftime, but we started talking and before we knew it the second half was starting so I stayed.

It was like two different games as the Pack came out like gangbusters and took it to the Cowboys from the start. They ended up winning by one point, and it was one of the most exciting halves of football any of us could recall. Just when I thought I was out…I’m IN. It’s “just a beer”. Right.

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and Darth Owner lose in humiliating fashion it's a good day - but it's especially sweet when it's the Green Bay Packers. This is a game for the ages.

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and “Darth Owner” lose in humiliating fashion it’s a good day – but it’s especially sweet when it’s courtesy of the Green Bay Packers. This was a comeback for the ages.

Dez Bryant is another smug punk I couldn't enjoy seeing it get stuck in his face any more. He walked off the field early - good riddance.

Dez Bryant is another smug punk I couldn’t enjoy seeing get it stuck in his face any more. He slithered off the field early like a crybaby. Good riddance!

First it was "The Ice Bowl" in Green Bay. This was "The Ass Bowl" with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. What a comeback! It was one for the ages.

First it was “The Ice Bowl” in Green Bay. This was “The Ass Bowl” with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. The villains get foiled, what a happy ending.

Punting The Packers

September 17, 2013

Sunday September 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Sorry, O mighty Green Bay Packers. As much as I’d like to give you three hours of my Sunday afternoons five months a year, I’m choosing to cut you loose. I’ll still cheer for you and care a lot more than you do if you win or lose, but I’ve got other things to do than piss away valuable time.

I didn’t get to watch the game last week, but losing to San Francisco just like they did last year was all I needed to hear. When I heard they had lost, I was delighted I didn’t invest all afternoon watching. Does that make me a fair weather fan? Too bad. My life is hard enough without that.

As a productive alternative, I chose instead to use my afternoon to get some work done for me for a change. I’m always running around doing something for someone else, and fail to attend to my own needs. That’s why I tend to be so painfully behind in so many areas. I need time for me.

Today I spent those three hours I would have been watching the Packers play posting a master list of articles I wrote about starting out in standup comedy on Facebook groups of local comics all over America. I’d been meaning to get to it for a while now, and today I finally got it done.

The articles are posted at http://www.maxwellmethodcomedy.wordpress.com. They are designed for the beginner in their first year or two of the comedy journey, and I put a lot of effort into writing them these last few months. For those who choose to read them, they can provide valuable help.

I’m not charging one penny for the articles, and I’m sure some will think they’re worth exactly that or less. That’s to be expected, but smart eyes will read them and immediately know that I’ve been through the wars and can offer insight that’s relevant and spot on to someone starting today.

It took a while to get it all done, but by the end of the day I’d posted articles on about twenty or so Facebook comedian group pages all over the United States and Canada. I introduced myself to the group and explained that I’m a veteran comic with decades of hands on experience that didn’t receive much help when I started out so I’m offering it to others because I think it’s good karma.

That’s exactly why I do it, even though most veteran comedians think I’m a complete imbecile for giving away so much information without charging for it. I think it’s smart business, as it will get passed around a lot more than if I sold it and in the long run it helps make the business better.

Hopefully, it will help make opening acts better a lot faster so when they work with headliners the whole show will be better. That’s the goal, and it felt great to send out those articles and have all kinds of newbies write back and say thanks. I would have killed for this when I was starting.

I’ll keep cranking these articles out, and hope I develop a following of up and coming aspiring comedy writers and performers for years to come. I want to be an inspiration to people after I’m dead, and today was a nice way to start. I made a lot of headway, and got my name out to many.

The Packers ended up stomping the Washington Redskins 38-20, but I’m fine with missing all of it. My friend Mark Gumbinger has a man cave in Kenosha and invited me over as usual, but it takes 45 minutes to get there and back, not counting the game. I can’t spare that time right now.

Oscars The Grouch

February 25, 2013

Sunday February 24th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI

   It’s Oscar night, and I couldn’t care less. Being in the entertainment business I probably should at least a little, but I can’t fake it. I don’t. I’m not a huge movie watcher, and those I do and enjoy are usually not part of the mix. Did ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ ever get nominated? I rest my case.

I’m not a big fan of any awards shows, even though they draw huge ratings or they wouldn’t be pillars of the broadcast calendar. I heard upwards of a billion people were watching this around a world that can’t agree on almost anything. Other than the Super Bowl, what U.S. event is as big?

I was invited to an Oscar party in Kenosha, WI at Mark Gumbinger’s house, but I couldn’t stay long because I needed to be on the air at WLIP hosting ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show at 8pm. I didn’t want to be rude, so I stopped by to say hello before going on the air.

Mark is a film director himself, and has seen most of the nominated titles. I guess that makes it significantly more interesting, but I don’t have time to see that many movies much less the desire not to mention the money. I’ve got too many other things I really want to do that use up my time.

I also have a difficult time with comparing art. Who can say what the best film out of a laundry list of them truly is? It’s all opinion. I know it’s human nature to compare, but I never had a need to do that. It’s like comparing the best athletes from different eras. Who cares? They’re all great.

Look at all the hard work that went into every one of those projects – and all the other ones that weren’t nominated. Sure, some results were better than others but to single some out as being the best just doesn’t float my boat. And like in every other contest, it sets the table for hard feelings.

The politically correct answer for everyone to say is “It’s just great to be nominated” – and it is. But we’re all human and everybody wants to win. There are a lot more people that go home from any awards show disappointed than those that go home happy. I don’t like those kinds of odds.

That’s a good thing, because I’m not up for any major awards any time soon and that’s another source of disappointment. What’s worse, putting one’s heart and soul into a film project only to have it lose out to some artsy fartsy dung nugget or not having any projects worthy of rejection?

I’ve got all I can handle slinging my little batch of jokes to new people every week. I work just as hard as or harder than the majority of those in the film industry, but there are no awards shows for me nor are there any for single moms or working stiffs out there trying to keep the bills paid.

I will say I’m a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane. What an unbelievable talent that guy is. He sings and writes and does voices and is world class at all of it. I loved his opening monologue, but I’m sure he polarized a lot of people with it and that’s what he wanted. He can afford to do that and I respect him for it. I’ve been polarizing people my whole life, but I’m not Seth MacFarlane. He’s got the power and clout and can creatively do what he wants. Who wouldn’t want that? To have that kind of freedom and get paid millions is what it’s about. Starving artists are way overrated.

Pleasantly Pooped

February 24, 2013

Saturday February 23rd, 2013 – Kenosha, WI/Glenview, IL

   My life sounds a lot like a Dick and Jane book from first grade. Run, run, run. Go, go, go. Run and go. Go and run. See Dobie run. See Dobie go. He is busy. Busy, busy, busy. Look at Dobie’s tongue hang out as he runs himself ragged every day. Dobie is pooped. Pooped, pooped, pooped.

That’s just how it is right now, but I’m not complaining. Everything I’m doing is fun, and how many people can say that? Sure I’m still broke, but at least I’ve got some hope and that’s all any of us can ask for. There have been some very dark times in the past few years, but that’s because there didn’t appear to be any hope on the horizon. Now I’m feeling like I at least have a chance.

My friend Mark Gumbinger called to invite me to lunch today. He’s a film director who wants to film a pilot episode of ‘Mr. Lucky’ as a sitcom. I’m very flattered he’d think of me but I don’t think I’d have time for it just now. I’ve got more than I can handle on my daily calendar already.

If I did have time, he would be the director I’d choose. He’s very meticulous, and knows what he wants each scene to look like. He’d be my own personal Martin Scorcese, and I’d trust him to get the most out of what we had to work with. I had a small part in one of his projects ‘Dead Air’ and it was great fun, but I’m no actor and never claimed to be. Like Seinfeld, I’m a comic first.

They were able to build a solid cast around Jerry Seinfeld, and that’s exactly what would have to happen with me. I’m not opposed to the idea, but right now it’s not something I can spend any time working on. I’ve got too many other things to focus on, but it was still fun to discuss today.

Mark directed my one hour video that was recorded at WLIP studios last year, and it turned out quite well. He’s a total pro, and we work together smoothly. We put together a product we could both be proud of for a very low cost. If we had any kind of budget at all we would be dangerous.

I don’t take acting lightly however. That’s a craft just like comedy, and I haven’t paid any dues whatsoever. People make the mistake of thinking it’s easy to do both, when that couldn’t be any further from the truth. I respect the craft of acting, and wouldn’t head into it without a solid plan.

If I ever did get a sitcom opportunity, I’d find a quality mentor and take a class. At least having a basic skill set as a foundation would make things a lot easier for everyone involved. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on a big project just winging it like I have until now. That’s not smart. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. Like standup comedy it can look easy but totally isn’t.

Speaking of comedy, Bill Gorgo called and asked if I could fill in at the very last minute for his show at The Laughing Chameleon in Glenview, IL. There was supposed to be a feature slotted to do twenty minutes, but he bailed for unknown reasons. Any way I can help Bill, I surely would.

That’s a small room, but it was full tonight and I had a blast. I worked in new material and also switched around some old stuff. I helped a friend, but also used the time to be productive and get ready for The Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta in March. It’s all fun, but I could use a breather.

Not So Super

February 4, 2013

Sunday February 3rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The Super Bowl without the Green Bay Packers in it is about as interesting to me as an electric guitar is to an Amish musician. I couldn’t care less who wins or loses, and if it were up to me I’d just as soon there be some kind of unplanned power outage or something to get everyone talking.

Oh wait – that’s exactly what happened. I wasn’t going to watch even one play of the game this year until I received an invite from Mark Gumbinger to attend a party at his house and I said yes. He’s got the ultimate man cave in his basement complete with a state of the art sound system and one of the biggest screen TVs of all time, so that was a no brainer. I was flattered to be invited.

We hung out and watched the game, even though none of us had any vested interest in it. None of us had any money bet, and we didn’t do squares or anything like that. Some people I know are not able to watch any sporting event without betting something, but that demon never found me.

One thing I couldn’t help noticing was the pageantry of it all. It’s a manufactured holiday and is now ingrained in the American culture like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Right or wrong, that’s how big it is and we all got to talking about that when the power went out during the game. We’d first thought there was a terrorist incident, and I’m sure we weren’t the only ones guessing that.

Maybe there’s a bigger story behind it, or maybe it was just some minimum wager that pushed a wrong button at the wrong time. Either way it ended up affecting an event hundreds of millions of people were watching and betting on all over the globe and it is now etched in sports history.

Years from now sports fans will bring up “The Power Outage” Super Bowl and it will be a part of the common knowledge between us just as “The Immaculate Reception” in Pittsburgh or “The Ice Bowl” in Green Bay now is. Participants in this game will be interviewed to share memories.

What overwhelming astronomical odds it was also that the coaches were brothers. What are the chances of that happening? It’s ridiculously rare for anybody to make it to the big leagues in any sport much less brothers, and then to have brothers meet as Super Bowl coaches is off the charts.

Life itself is about overcoming tremendous odds. ONE sperm cell makes it out of billions that try, and nobody remembers the others. Nobody remembers the losers of any Super Bowls either, except for that team’s players and fans. People in San Francisco are bumming today, but nobody else really cares. I had no emotion watching the game whatsoever, except not liking Ray Lewis.

I find that guy absolutely reprehensible, both of his belief that ‘God is on his side’ and also for the incident he was implicated in where a double murder happened in his presence. He makes me nauseous whenever he comes on TV, and it seems so wrong that he gets two Super Bowl rings.

But what does it mean what I think? Not a lot. I bet less than .0001 of China’s billions couldn’t care less about Ray Lewis much less pronounce his name correctly. Wars are still going on in too many places and millions are still starving. That should put things into perspective, but it doesn’t.

Hillbilly Two Tone

November 16, 2012

Wednesday November 14th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   I received the phone call today telling me my new old car was ready to be picked up after about six weeks of waiting for it to be repaired. When I dropped it off, I told the mechanic there was no rush and he really took it to heart apparently. It was to the point I’d almost forgotten it was there.

My friend Richard Caan gave me a 1993 Nissan Sentra that first belonged to his mom and then his sister. His mother bought it in 1995, and drove it mostly back and forth to work. It’s only got 107,000 miles on it, and despite needing a list of repairs I thought it was worth rolling the dice.

Richard’s sister got into a fender bender which took out the right front headlight and dinged up the hood and right front fender. The person who hit her was insured, and she was paid off for the damages and kept driving the car. Still, it was generous of Richard to give it to me. I’m grateful.

He knows I go through cheap cars like KISS goes through makeup, and I appreciate the chance to nurse another one back to health. He knew I’d give it a good home, and I knew his family had owned it for years and it had the potential to be driven for thousands more hopefully easy miles.

The grand total after getting a junkyard hood and fender along with ball joints, a muffler weld, heater blower repair work, an oil change, coolant flush, new battery and wiper blades totaled out at right around $1000. I transferred the title and registered it legally and that cost another $100.

The mechanic I took it to is located in Kenosha, WI and was recommended by my other friend Mark Gumbinger. The guy works on all of Mark’s cars, and does quality work at a fair price. He told me when I brought it in it was a solid car, and would be worth fixing if the price was right.

The mechanic went through it with a fine tooth comb, and gave me the final total of how much it would cost to get it road ready. I told him I’d prefer to keep it under $1200 if possible, and I’m thrilled he did. If I can keep it running for a year at right around $100 a month, it’s a sweet deal.

Of course he couldn’t find a hood and fender that matched color, but that’s ok. I am long past the point of having to impress anyone with my car. If Carmen Electra won’t date me it’s surely not going to be because my car is a hillbilly two tone. There will be other reasons besides that.

It is a little disappointing that I’m still driving pieced together Frankenstein mobiles this late in the game, but that’s how it goes. I’d rather do that and still be able to live my dream than have an ulcer producing hellish job that comes with a shiny company car. We have to choose our battles.

Sometimes being a comedian can be hellish, but at least there are good times to make up for it to balance it out. Every other job I’ve ever had has always been a living nightmare. I’ll trade off multicolored fenders on a 20 year old car given to me by a friend to have a chance at satisfaction.

As far as my other pickle, that was a good car too. I put more than 50,000 miles on it and I just think it’s time to be safe and move on. I’ll hopefully be able to get $1000 for that one, and make it a wash. I’m getting an older car with far fewer miles. Is it the right choice? I’ll soon find out.