Posts Tagged ‘Mark Schiff’

Viva Ritch Shydner

March 12, 2014

Sunday March 9th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’m still on a high from the big meet up with my siblings yesterday, but I’m not going to make the mistake of assuming “it’s all better now”. It’s never going to be “all better”, but what we did yesterday was an enormous leap forward and I couldn’t be any more delighted. It was an event I won’t forget, and I hope it can be built on. I really did feel a positive vibe from every one of us.

All I can do is keep my end open, and the rest can decide if they want to continue. They all said they’d like to do it again, but who knows? Putting pressure on anyone is the last thing we need so I’m going to enjoy the moment we had, and let the healing vibes flow. There’s a whole lot to do.

After dinner last night it was early enough that I could still make it to the Zanies Comedy Club at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL to see the great Ritch Shydner perform. I wasn’t aware he was in town until late this week, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see him.

Ritch is a major favorite of mine on stage and off. He’s from the generation just before me, and was one of the first true headliners I saw when I was just starting. I watched him work a bunch of times, and he was always unbelievably gracious to sit around and talk after the show. He’s one of the nicest and funniest guys I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know anyone in comedy that won’t agree.

I didn’t expect Ritch to remember me from those very early days, but we crossed paths later on a book he co-authored with another great comedian named Mark Schiff called “I Killed”. It’s the compilation of road stories submitted by comedians of all levels from the Seinfelds and Lenos to road warriors like me. I’ve got a story in the book, and it’s actually quite a popular one at that.

I had always been big fans of both Mark and Ritch, and I got to know them both through being part of their book so it was a double score in my world. They’ve both been very supportive of me and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to hang out with one of my comedy heroes. I was still in a great mood from my meeting, and I made it to the club in plenty of time to catch his late show.

As I’ve come to expect, Ritch couldn’t have been any genuinely nicer or more supportive. He’s in the highest class of standup comedy royalty, and here he was treating me like a peer. That took my mood even higher, and I didn’t think that was possible. Days like this make life worth living.

We talked at length about how flat out difficult it is to be a comedian in general, and how as we age our needs sometimes change. Ritch has three kids, and agrees the road doesn’t come with the spirit of adventure it once did. He doesn’t have the same desire just as I don’t, and it was great to have someone to talk about it with that understood. He is one of few with the same perspective.

I really enjoyed watching him work, as his act has continued to evolve just as he has. He jokes about getting older and technology, and that’s the sign of a true comic and true artist. He keeps it fresh and growing. I laughed out loud several times, and it was a real treat to hang with a master.

He co-wrote and narrated a tremendous documentary called “I Am Comic” that is an absolute must see in my opinion. Ritch is one of the greats of the modern era, and I am delighted to have been able to meet him in person. Be sure and see him live if you can.

Ritch Shydner is one of my all time favorite comedians, and also happens to be a very nice person off stage.

Ritch Shydner is one of my all time favorite comedians, and happens to also be a very nice person off stage.

He has appeared on Letterman and The Tonight Show with both Johnny AND Jay. Very impressive.

He has appeared on Letterman and The Tonight Show with both Johnny AND Jay. How impressive – and very well deserved.

He also co-wrote 'I Killed' - a book of comedians' road stories of which I have one.

He also co-wrote ‘I Killed’ – a book of comedians’ road stories of which I have one. People still ask me to sign their copy to this day.

He is also co-write and narrator of the documentary "I Am Comic" - a must see for fans and comics alike. I'm telling you, the man is impressive. I've been a fan for years.

He is also co-writer and narrator of the brilliant documentary “I Am Comic” – a must see for fans and comics alike. I’m telling you, the man is a Hall of Famer. I’ve been a fan for years, and I highly recommend you check him out.


Good Deed, Good Day

October 27, 2013

Tuesday October 22nd, 2013 – Wilmette, IL

Any day I’m able to do a good deed is a good day. I know it sounds corny, but I mean it. That’s the only thing that has any lasting meaning, and I love it whenever I’m able to make a difference. Today I had a chance to help someone, and it worked out better than expected. It feels fantastic.

Mark Schiff is a very funny comedian, and I’ve been a fan for years. I first saw him in the early ‘80s, and I loved his style. He has had both an HBO and Showtime special, and he and comedian Ritch Shydner compiled a book of comedy road stories called “I Killed” in which I have a story.

If there’s one resource in which I am rich it’s comedy road stories. I’ve been around the block many times, and the story they chose to use was a time I was in Tuscaloosa, AL and challenged an audience that included some University of Alabama football players. I treaded on holy ground by insulting their dead football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and had to be escorted out of town.

That story is what indirectly got me kicked off of the Bob and Tom radio show in Indianapolis. I had a copy of the book with me, and Tom asked me what it was. I told him it was a compilation of comedy road stories and he asked if I was in it. When I said yes, he asked me to tell the story. I did exactly what he asked, and then everyone became furious and threw me out of the studio.

I still can’t figure out why they got so angry, but that put them over the edge. I have never been treated so poorly by anyone in radio or TV, and apparently I’m still in their doghouse to this day. I’ve tried to apologize several times, but they won’t hear of it. I think the whole thing is insane.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with both Mark and Ritch when they were in the process of compiling the book, and it was a thrill to meet them both. Both of those guys were part of the generation right before me, and I knew both of their work extremely well. To have them treat me as a peer made me feel great, and both couldn’t have been nicer – the opposite of Bob and Tom.

Mark is the co-author of a funny new play called “Marriage Is A Bout”, which delves into two couples that are friends and all that goes on with their marriages. One couple is Jewish while the other is Gentile. They had a run through with the actors at the Wilmette Theatre in Wilmette, IL tonight, and Mark invited me to be part of it and asked if I knew anyone else that I could invite.

I happen to know some very talented and creative people, and I got the word out for him. One of those who showed up was Vicki Quade. She’s got several successful productions going on in Chicago and all over including “Late Night Catechism” and “Put The Nuns In Charge”. I was in Vicki’s “You’re On The Air” play with Jerry Agar, Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara and it was fun.

Teme Ring is a gifted comedy writer, and she and her husband Jeff were able to attend along with Rick Young who is an actor in the area. They all enjoyed the show as did I, and afterward Mark and the crew sat around and took input from anyone who wanted to give their opinions.

I know it helped Mark, and I’m delighted I was able to get such a creative bunch to come out and support. It was a fun experience all around, and Mark thanked me profusely. It was no big deal, and I was glad to do it. I learned a lot myself of how the process goes. This was a win/win.

Comedian Mark Schiff - one of the all time greats.

Comedian Mark Schiff – one of the all time greats.