Posts Tagged ‘Mark Heleniak’

Roll The Credits

April 29, 2013

Saturday April 27th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   It’s been four weeks, eight shows and one fantastic experience, but “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” is coming to an end – at least for this run. I had a fantastic time with every aspect of the experience, but now all I can see is a big empty summer calendar to fill.

   Before I delicately tiptoe in that unpleasant direction, I have a very long list of super people to thank for helping make this month run so smoothly. By all accounts, it was a big success and will be back again for another run. That’s all I could hope for going in, and it happened. I’m thrilled!

   Everyone at Potawatomi was an absolute pleasure to work with, and I do mean EVERYONE. I felt welcomed from the start, and I felt like I was part of a team rather than an outsider booked to do my job and then leave. It’s common to be treated that way in comedy clubs, and this is better.

   From the top, Entertainment Director Bob Rech actually came out to see the show and talked to me like a human being rather than boss to employee. He gets the concept, and sees it as a product that can be developed over time to everyone’s benefit. This is the perfect location for this show.

   Kim Mitschke was also on top of it. She’s the media contact person, and set up the sneak peek preview show that went extremely well. Everything was handled in a professional manner, and it was a joy to see it unfold. I never doubted for a second this would be a big hit, and I was correct.

   There’s no way I could have pulled this off myself, and I know it. There was a video billboard on the freeway for Potawatomi that had me in rotation for the month, and I got all kinds of email and calls from Milwaukee friends telling me they saw it. I never could have afforded that myself.

   Then there was the actual staff at the Northern Lights Theatre. Steve in charge has always been a fan and supporter, and he had nothing but nice things to say about the show. Another Steve is a security person and he’s also seen me before. I feel at home in that facility whenever I show up.

   Mark Filwett did an outstanding job on the website www.schlitzhappened.com. He put together a collage of old Milwaukee stuff on the homepage that flat out kicks ass. It’s perfect for what the show is, and I know we’ll build the site as the show itself builds. I need to keep creating content.

   Jewel Olson was beyond helpful as my right hand person the whole time. She really was a help on many levels, and I’d equate her to a pit crew for a NASCAR driver. She had my back the four weeks, and made my life much easier. Every penny she cost was worth it, as was Jeff Lampton’s time to video record the final six shows. He and his brother Chris were also easy to work with.

   Mark Heleniak was also a huge help by putting together the recording of old media jingles that were played before the shows. Seeing heads snap back with recognition as something played was exactly the result I was looking for and I got it. The right people all came together for this project to succeed and it absolutely did. It went better than many expected, but everyone seems satisfied.

   Then there were all the people who showed up from family to friends from all areas of my past to strangers who showed up to see a show. I had overwhelmingly positive reaction from all of the above, and if someone didn’t enjoy it they surely didn’t tell me. I felt nothing but positive energy the entire eight shows, and even though I know I have a long way to go I’d still call this run a big success. I also thank Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Club, and anyone else I failed to list.

Round Two

April 15, 2013

Saturday April 13th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   Ding ding. Round two of the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ experiment, and I’m still standing. It’s going to take a while before it starts to take a real shape, but for where the process is now I’m feeling a lot of positives in all directions. It’s worth my time investment, but I’ve got a lot of work to do.

   On the good side, both shows tonight were well attended once again. That alone will allow me to keep doing it, and that’s about the best I can hope for right now. This isn’t something that’s an all or nothing onetime event like a big boxing match, this is a project that will take years to build.

   I had a couple of glitches to work through tonight, and that’s going to be part of it for however long this project should happen to run. It’s a constant process of adjustment and adaptation to the circumstances at hand, and sometimes that’s not pleasant but it’s the only way to build anything.

   The first show tonight was again the best attended. It surprises me that a 7pm show would be a bigger draw on a Saturday night than a 9pm show, but that’s how it’s working out so far. Maybe it will evolve, but for now that’s how it is. I definitely sensed a different energy from both shows both weeks so far. The later shows had more people that wanted to participate and be a part of it.

   The glitch in the first show tonight was that there was a group of about 25 who weren’t born in Milwaukee and lost some of my references. They were transplants who moved here years ago for work purposes, but they weren’t able to hang with me on the material that went back any farther.

   I talked to quite a few of them after the show, and they said they had a good time even though I was not hitting them on all cylinders. That’s an issue, and I have to be prepared because this isn’t the only time that will happen. I have to be prepared with a ‘Plan B’, but I’m still working on my ‘Plan A’ for those the show is intended to target. I wasn’t expecting this, and it did throw me off.

   What threw me off in the late show was a crowd much younger than I was expecting. That put me in a different trick bag, and again I wasn’t prepared. I knew early that this wasn’t going to be my crowd so I fell back on my standup bits and luckily I was able to do that as it bailed me out.

   That’s another situation I need to be prepared for in the future. I will make a note of it and have a plan for when it happens again – and it will. Situations always repeat themselves, and that’s the one thing any performer can count on. If one is in the business long enough, it all happens again.

   Another situation I dealt with tonight was incorporating audio into the mix. I had nothing at all last week and it went fine, but I knew I wanted to add sound to take it to a higher level. I did get a fantastic pre and post show montage done with Mark Heleniak, and that blew the room away as the people sat and listened to their life in Milwaukee unfold before their ears. That was a big hit.

   What wasn’t a big hit was a closing bit I came up with that plays some audio I thought for sure would bring the house down, but it didn’t. I’m not saying it won’t in the future, but it will need a few tweaks and right now I’m not certain what those are. This is all part of starting from scratch.

   All in all, there was progress made from last week to this one. I tried several new things, some worked and some didn’t. I’m already embarrassed at how little there was last week, but that’s the way I want to feel every time because it means I’m improving by leaps and bounds. I’m not at all cocky or think ‘I’ve arrived’. I don’t ever want to think that way. I’m just barely getting started.