Posts Tagged ‘Matt Kemple’

Respect

August 5, 2013

Saturday August 3rd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

    Respect. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Aretha Franklin sang a hit song about it. Rodney Dangerfield didn’t get any, and made a career of letting everyone know why not. Mafia members and rappers had better show some to their fellow brethren or they could get a head full of lead. It’s a valued commodity.

   Who doesn’t want to be respected? It’s right up there with oxygen on the importance meter and people will go to great lengths to get it. Some will go as far as to resort to bully tactics, but that’s no way to guarantee getting it. It might gain fear, but that’s not respect. There’s a big difference.

   When I started in standup comedy, all I ever wanted was respect in my home town. I wanted it from my family, audiences, fellow comedians and club owners. I was a punk in my twenties then and hadn’t found my stride in life. I knew I had some ability, but had no clue what to do with it.

   That led to some ugly clashes with all of the exact parties from whom I was looking for respect in the first place, and it left me bitter and disillusioned. Why was I getting exactly the opposite of what I wanted? It felt like my inner magnet was inserted backwards, and I only attracted trouble.

   It still feels that way in some places, but not in my home town of Milwaukee. I’ve been able to slay most all of my local dragons, and it feels really good to know I’ve come full circle. Tonight I did a set at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival at the Act Two Theatre and I totally felt respected.

   I’m no longer the young buck trying to prove myself, and I’ve grown quite comfortable in my own skin. I’ve managed to accomplish a lot of the dreams I had starting out, and the main reason is that I stayed with it for so long. I was too stupid to quit, and a few good things came my way.

   I’ve managed to take standup comedy farther than just about anyone else from Milwaukee, and I’m feeling the respect from the twenty somethings who are coming up the same ladder that I did all those years ago. I had nobody to use as a role model, and they’re using me as one now. Great!

   As I walked back stage at the festival, I had one person after the other walk over and shake my hand and tell me something nice. One saw me on Craig Ferguson, and another reads my diary on a regular basis. Some told me hello from friends of mine they’d seen recently, and it really felt as if I was someone of importance. I haven’t been used to that treatment – especially in Milwaukee.

   It felt absolutely wonderful, and I know they were all sincere. I have zero power over anybody in this group, and not one of them had to even look at me. To them, I’m an old fart who showed up because the festival founder Matt Kemple asked me to. And there’s another perk. That guy is really on the ball, and he’s built a fantastic event with this festival. He’s earned my total respect.

   I always thought this was the way life should work, and I can’t put into words how wonderful it feels to see it come to fruition in real life. I’ve paid a LOT of dues in both life and the business, and to have that recognized by a generation of performers that could be my kids is a major high.

   I’ve felt respected in Chicago for a while now. I have always tried to be kind to comics starting out, and it has paid off repeatedly. I’ll meet some kid for the first time and see their countenance change completely when I tell them my name. That’s respect, and I can’t think of a feeling more rewarding. I am extremely grateful to be thought of so highly by SOMEONE, as I know there are still some who think I’m Satan’s son. We can’t please everyone, so why try? I will be who I am.

Real Milwaukee

August 3, 2013

Wednesday July 31st, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   What is this elusive mystery experience I hear of called ‘sleep’? I haven’t gotten any in so long I think I’m starting to qualify for zombie status. I had to be up extra early again this morning, but I’m not complaining. It was for good reason, so once again I sucked it up and crawled out of bed.

   I had to be in Milwaukee by 9am to be on a TV show called ‘Real Milwaukee’ to help promote The Milwaukee Comedy Festival which runs this coming weekend. It’s a well run event that was started by a guy named Matt Kemple eight years ago, and has continued to grow with each year.

   It mainly features sketch comedy, but also has improv and standup. Matt asked me to be a part of it years ago, and I’ve been there whenever my schedule allows. He’s an outstanding promoter and a sincere person, so anything I can do to support his and his team’s efforts is my pleasure.

   He could have chosen anyone to be a representative sampling, but of all the acts he singled me out and that’s a huge honor. My body clock wasn’t thrilled about it, but it’s not Matt’s fault I’ve been hitting it extra hard lately. There was no way I would turn down such a flattering gesture.

   It was also nice local exposure for me to be on a show I’d never been on before. In comedy we often have to show forced ‘loyalty’, so if we work at one club we can’t work another in the same town or area. On rare occasions I can see the reasoning, but most times it’s playing petty politics.

   I’ve had several appearances on ‘The Morning Blend’ on WTMJ, and they’ve treated me like a big star every time. The hosts Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle couldn’t be sweeter, and they’re both really good at what they do. Appearing on Real Milwaukee wasn’t meant to be a slap in the face, and I’m sure they know that. It was just that today I was invited to be on to promote this event.

   Real Milwaukee has four hosts, and the two who interviewed Matt and me were Katrina Cravy and Cassandra McShepard. They were both razor sharp and genuinely nice people, and we had a fun segment that should still be available on the show’s website at www.realmilwaukeenow.com.

   It never hurts to make new connections, but I find it especially satisfying when they’re genuine people. Entertainment can often be plastic and fake, and I understand how it can get like that. I’m not one to play those games, but they do exist and those who master them can move up the ranks.

   I’ve had a few experiences where shows I’ve been on have not had nice hosts, and that can be a chore instead of the fun treat it should be. This was worth my trip. Just as I felt chemistry on The Morning Blend with Molly and Tiffany, I felt the same with Katrina and Cassandra. They get it.

   Matt Kemple gets it as well, and that’s why I’ll go out of my way to help him with anything he should need me to do. He and his team have put together a fabulous event that keeps on growing, and hopefully they will keep having me back. I love to be a part of things like this whenever I am able, as they’re always a win/win proposition. It’s also great to be able to do it in my home town.

   When I started, all that meant anything to me was getting home town exposure but I could not get the time of day from local media. I thought it was just me, but as I started to travel I saw that a lot of other comedians I met have “home town disease” and also felt snubbed. I guess it’s a part of the process, but I get treated really well now by most of the Milwaukee media and couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve paid my dues. It’s time to enjoy membership. www.milwaukeecomedy.com.

A Pleasing Teaser

April 4, 2013

 Tuesday April 2nd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   My main focus for today was getting to Milwaukee to do a teaser show for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ in the sports bar at Potawatomi Casino. They sent out a press release and invited media, but there were also casino staff and VIP members from their newsletter that got in too. It was a lot of fun.

They even came up with a spectacular spread of “Milwaukee food” which included bratwurst, sauerkraut, beer and cheese soup with gigantic cream puffs for dessert. It was first class from the ground up, and I was thrilled to see it come to life. This is exactly how I pictured it would work.

Everyone at Potawatomi has been a peach to work with. Kim Mitschke is razor sharp with her attention to detail, and she’s also great at keeping me in the loop of what’s happening. She was a wonderful hostess, and brought me on stage for my performance with a top notch introduction.

The timing wasn’t great as far as getting all of the media to come, but that’s not a problem. I’d much rather have word spread organically, and then get media coverage later. I know in my heart I have a marketable product, and this was a test run. It was great fun to do, and it passed the test.

The reason I know it passed the test is that people stayed after the event to ask questions about the actual shows, as they plan on bringing friends with them. That’s exactly what I want to hear! I want word to get out, and build a recognizable brand. I finally have my chance to be a draw.

One lady made a point to track me down and tell me how much she related to my mention of a Milwaukee television icon from the ‘60s and ‘70s named “Albert the Alley Cat”.  It was a puppet that was a nightly sidekick for a local weatherman named Ward Allen. The puppet would mangle certain words and it was very funny. ‘Humidity’ became ‘humidery’, and it was of local legend.

The lady who came up to me said she moved to Milwaukee from Spain at age 16. She thought it was crazy to have a puppet giving the weather, and she took a picture of her TV screen to send back to Spain to show her family how crazy they were in Milwaukee. Her face lit up like a kid’s as she told the story, and I knew right there this will be a big hit. I touched her on a special level.

There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people that have memories like that of local lore in Milwaukee, and I want to entertain each one of them. This show could run for years before I’d run out of fresh customers, and I’d be delighted if it does. I’ve hit a nerve here, and I’m beyond excited.

There’s no way I’ll ever be able to get to all of the localized talking points I have come up with in any one show, and that’s the beauty of this whole idea. I want people to keep coming back and bringing friends with them. The show will grow and evolve, and it will constantly refresh itself.

For once in my life, I really feel I’m in the right place at the right time. Everything fits together perfectly, and I know if I get people to come out they’ll LOVE this whole concept. I’ve been off the radar for so many years with so many projects, I know a hit when I see one. It feels different.

At the very least, I got to be part of a press conference in my honor. How many people can say they got a chance to do that? Jason Evans came from www.mkefunny.com with Brendan O’Day to film an interview and Matt Kemple from The Milwaukee Comedy Festival showed up as well. www.milwaukeecomedy.net  Those guys are supporting the local comedy scene, and I appreciate them both for covering this and making me feel important. My gut tells me this one is a winner.