Posts Tagged ‘Mel Kiper Jr.’

Versatility Pays Peanuts

May 8, 2013

Tuesday May 7th, 2013 – Lake Zurich, IL

   Versatility in the entertainment business can be a two edged sword. On one hand, it can allow a performer to have the luxury of more than one option to receive a paycheck. On the other, there’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” stigma that tends to go with it and that can cause confusion.

   Those known for ONE thing and one thing only have a much better chance at mass recognition – IF they happen to find that right thing. Mel Kiper Jr. is a perfect example. What the hell has he ever done except claim to know about the NFL draft? He’s got the title of ‘draft expert’, but what does that mean? Can anyone truly say he is or isn’t? It doesn’t matter. He’s carved out his niche.

   Rachel Ray is another. She has books and videos and is always on TV whipping up some kind of miracle meal, but again what else has she done? People like that just appear on television one day and become part of popular culture, and everyone knows who they are for that single reason.

   Dr. Phil bitches at people. That’s it. Nobody knows anything else about him. Does he have any knowledge about the NFL draft? It doesn’t matter if he does or he doesn’t? Can he make himself breakfast? That’s not important either. All that matters with the public is that one source of fame.

   A few select people have been able to parlay fame into more areas, but more often than not it’s one thing and one thing only that anyone becomes truly known for. Rush Limbaugh was hired to do NFL pregame commentary on the basis of his radio show, but he’ll always be known as being a radio host. Howard Stern is the same thing. He did a couple of movies, but he’s a shock jock.

   I’ve never been known for exclusively one thing, and part of that reason is I’ve been able to be versatile for many years. I’ve done standup comedy and radio, and also was a ring announcer for professional wrestling in addition to promoting live shows. None are easy, but I need to pick one.

   Rodney Dangerfield never did radio, and Vince McMahon never did standup comedy. They are both icons in their field, and although Rodney did movies that’s a logical progression in what the comedy business entails. Rodney was known as a comedian. Period. Vince McMahon has tried a few other pursuits, but he’s known as the king of modern day professional wrestling promoters.

   Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but not many. Most people who ‘make it’ become known for one thing, and that’s enough to sustain them for a lifetime. J.K. Rowling doesn’t have to do another thing in her life and she’ll be known after she’s dead for bringing us Harry Potter.

   I’m still looking for my ‘thing’. I don’t think I’ll ever be known for my standup comedy, as it’s not that radical unfortunately. I can rip it up with the best of them, but I’ve never had the massive appeal of a Carrot Top or Adam Sandler or someone else who’s a crowd pleaser. I have my style and a lot of people like it, but I haven’t been able to carve out a niche in all these years of trying.

   Tonight I had a show for 50 church group seniors in Lake Zurich, IL. They were part of a tour group and were all from Wisconsin. Visit Lake County is a group I’m a member of, and they are the ones who set up this gig. It went really well and it was fun, but it won’t make me a big star.

   As I was performing (without a microphone) for this group who was loving it, I tried to picture Rodney or Carlin or anyone else in this situation and I couldn’t. I bet there aren’t five comedians on earth that could have pulled this off, but who cares? Versatility does pay – but it’s in peanuts.

Catching A Draft

April 26, 2013

Thursday April 25th, 2013 – Niles, IL

   What is it about the National Football League that has addictive powers? It’s frightening, but if I could figure out that secret ingredient I’d use it myself and get rich. Something about that sport has turned hundreds of millions of Americans into brain dead zombies who are hooked for life.

   Unfortunately, I find myself in that category and no matter how hard I fight it I seem to always come back – and I’m sure that’s exactly how they want it. I am a lifer, and my drug of choice has always been the Green Bay Packers. There are 31 other flavors available, but that one is mine.

   Once again as I have for too many years to count, I purposely blocked out my evening to watch ESPN TV coverage of the entire first round of the NFL draft. I’ve done it as long as I can recall it being televised, and I have to say ashamedly that I really enjoy it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

   Talk about your quintessential non event being overhyped, pumped full of hot air and force fed to a shallow stupid public – this is absolutely it. It’s such a brilliantly slick marketing job I wish I would have thought of it. Part of me is embarrassed I like it so much, and another part is jealous.

   The modern day King of Ballyhoo Vince McMahon himself couldn’t have pulled an event like this out of thin air, and I’m sure he’s probably jealous too. The NFL really put one over on all of us, and we’re thanking them for doing it by showing up in droves to watch it like a Super Bowl.

   My friend Marc Schultz is as hopelessly hooked as I am, and he invited me over to watch it at his house. It’s become an annual tradition that his wife Audrey cooks us steaks and we sit around in front of the TV from opening pick to the very end. It’s a total geek fest, but we both live for it.

   Marc is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, and even that doesn’t stop me from going there each and every year. We actually have intelligent conversations about what each team needs, and we try to predict who each one will take. We’ve never been right yet, but it’s still fun and we will probably keep doing it as long as they keep televising it – but why would it stop? Halfwits like us watch it.

   All the whole overblown thing boils down to is just a glorified version of picking sides as kids, but there’s something about it that attracts millions of mooks across America that should have all kinds of better things to do. I can’t tell you for the life of me who represents me in Congress, but I do know in what spot my Packers were drafting (26) and that’s embarrassing. I am SO hooked.

  The NFL knows this, so they’ve stretched the whole thing out over three days. Now it’s a whole weekend I have to set aside – and stupid me I probably will. I tell myself I’ll just put it on to find out who the Packers get in the later rounds, but who am I kidding? As always, I’ll end up getting sucked in once more by Mel Kiper Jr.’s hypnotic hyperbole and before I’ll know it it’s Monday.

   There were actual games going on in both baseball and basketball tonight, but I didn’t pay any attention to any of it. Why would I want to watch actual GAMES – some of them playoff games – when I can eat steak with a friend and watch as pampered oafs get chosen to rake in zillions?

   There’s just something not right about any of it, but I can’t deny I had a total blast from as soon as I walked in the door to the minute I left after the last pick of the first round. The food was very good, and the company was better. Marc and I watched every single pick and it was a pleasure to do it. Not one down of football was played, but the NFL still made money. THAT’S marketing!