Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Lucky’

Milwaukee Mingling

July 19, 2014

Wednesday July 15th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

I took a trip home to Milwaukee today, and it turned into a mini whirlwind tour. With the price of gas where it is I think we all have to plan our trips these days. I squeezed as much into a single day as I could, and it was productive. I challenge anyone to pack as much into one day as I did.

My first stop was Miss Katie’s Diner to see my friend Lynn Miner. Lynn is one of my biggest supporters, and an outstanding human being. He’s a magician among many other things, and he’s looking to do that full time after a hugely successful career as a grant seeker all over the world.

I can help Lynn with adding jokes to his act, but he helps me even more. He’s got a lifetime of experience in making business plans, and is mentoring me in what I’m doing. It’s a win/win for all parties, and I always look forward to meeting up with him. We complement each other well.

After lunch I stopped at the Milwaukee County Courthouse and then City Hall to check out the job openings of all things. I always said I’d never move back to Milwaukee, but if I had a reason to – like a decent job – I totally would. The former demons that used to haunt me are now dead.

I hated going back to Milwaukee because of so many bad memories. Now that I’ve gotten back in touch with my siblings, it has healed a lot of those wounds. None of them happen to live there anymore, but that’s where we were born and raised. Milwaukee will always be part of our DNA.

I don’t know if I’ll get a job or not, but it won’t hurt to sniff around and see what’s available. If I could land a nice gig with benefits, I can still do my “Schlitz Happened!” show around the state and continue performing and teaching comedy classes for Zanies in Chicago so life would be ok.

Since I was downtown already, I decided to take a lap through the Milwaukee Public Museum. It had been years since I did that, but I had some time so I decided to make the investment. I had no idea ticket prices have skyrocketed to $15, but by the time I got to the window it was too late.

I hadn’t planned on spending $15, but it really is an outstanding museum so I bit the bullet and I’m glad I did. There were a lot of exhibits I still remember from my childhood along with many new things I had never seen before. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was interesting to observe all the kids that were there on class field trips just like I went on when I was that age. It was fun.

After that I was able to squeeze in a couple of thrift stores, but didn’t find any ancient artifacts I could resell for huge profits. If VHS tapes ever come back, I know where to load up. Other than that, it was a bunch of junk I wouldn’t take for free. Still, it’s fun to hunt and I enjoyed the stops.

I was listening to my friend Steve ‘The Homer’ True on AM 540 ESPN Radio and he was on a live remote broadcast at a Pick n’ Save grocery store. He was trying to get donations for the local Hunger Task Force and was flipping coins to donate $100. If a listener won, Homer had to donate.

If Homer won, the listener donated. Homer has always supported anything I ever did, and I was glad to stop and flip the coin. I lost of course, but that’s the legend of Mr. Lucky. I received a big plug on the air, and donated to a worthy cause. Milwaukee will always be home, so why fight it?

Milwaukee will always be my hometown, so I might as well embrace it.

Milwaukee will always be my hometown – warts and all, so I might as well embrace it.

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An Impromptu Reunion

October 5, 2013

Friday October 4th, 2013 – Rockford, IL

When I was on the radio with Jerry Agar, Tim Slagle and Ken Sevara as “Jerry’s Kidders”, we had a super fan name Fard (pronounced ‘Fa-RAHD’) Muhammad who we all came to consider a friend. He’s a super guy and very intelligent, and we have all stayed in touch for several years.

Fard is also a rabid fan of Dennis Miller, and managed to score four tickets to Dennis’ show at the gorgeous Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL tonight and asked if the Kidders would join him. Tim, Ken and I all happened to have the night free so we arranged an impromptu Kidder reunion.

The four of us rode in one car and busted balls the whole way there and back. It was a night of big fun and laughs all around, and everyone was in a great mood. This wasn’t something we had planned for very long, it just kind of came together in a couple of days. That made it even better.

We made it to Rockford with plenty of time to spare, and settled in our seats at the spectacular Coronado Theatre. That’s one of the most gorgeous old theatres I’ve ever seen, and being able to see it in person made the trip worthwhile even if there wasn’t a show to go with it. I can’t believe I’d never seen it before. It’s got to be on a list of the top architecture in America. It’s a true gem.

Our seats were eighth row center, and Dennis came out at 7:30 sharp. He might have even been a couple of minutes early, which doesn’t usually happen for any live entertainment. There wasn’t an opening act, and I found that a bit odd too. Usually in larger theatre situations there is a warm up act of some kind to focus the crowd’s attention. Ken, Tim or I would have loved that chance.

None of us were upset, as we were there to relax and enjoy the show. We all happened to enjoy Dennis, and not everyone does. He tends to polarize people, but that’s what great entertainers do. People love Dennis Miller or they can’t stand him – and I can see why. It’s like stinky cheese or hot chili peppers. There are rabid fans in one camp, and those that couldn’t get far enough away.

What I love about Dennis Miller is his unbridled gratuitous use of adjectives. He paints picture after vividly descriptive picture, and does it with distinct rhythm. I love watching him work, and he made us laugh out loud numerous times despite the fact he was fighting a nasty cold all night.

Most of the audience had no clue how difficult that can be, but Tim, Ken and I have all been on stage when we were fighting the crud and knew exactly what he was going through. That made it all the more interesting to watch, but he still delivered and made us laugh. That’s a professional.

After the show we had a world class meal at Franchesco’s Italian Ristorante where Ken books comedy shows of his own. We relaxed and enjoyed a sumptuous meal, and it was a perfect night from start to finish. We had nothing but laughs and fun, and wondered why every night couldn’t be like this. It’s not and never will be, so that’s why it’s important to savor every second of this.

Sometimes things just all work out – even for Mr. Lucky. If every day were like this I probably wouldn’t be a comic, but that’s ok. I’d have a lot less stress in my life, but I’d gladly blaze a new career path accordingly. I’m sure Dennis Miller has stress too, but that’s what comedians do. We help others forget about their troubles for a while, even though we’ve got a full load of our own.

The spectacular Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL. In a word - WOW!

The spectacular Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL. In a word – WOW!

Like stinky cheese or hot chili peppers, people love Dennis Miller or they totally don't. I happen to think he's great, and he made me laugh out loud all night in Rockford. Thanks Dennis!

Like stinky cheese or hot chili peppers, people love Dennis Miller or they totally don’t. I happen to think he’s great, and he made me laugh out loud all night in Rockford. Thanks Dennis!

Chicago Radio Superfan turned  friend Fard Muhammad

Chicago Radio Superfan turned friend Fard Muhammad

Tim Slagle - his CD 'Europa' is a must for all fans of intelligent comedy. www.timslagle.com

Tim Slagle – his CD ‘Europa’ is a must for all fans of intelligent comedy. http://www.timslagle.com

Ken Sevara - check out his radio show 'Fly By Night' on AM 560 WIND in Chicago. www.kensevara.com

Ken Sevara – check out his radio show ‘Fly By Night’ on AM 560 WIND in Chicago. http://www.kensevara.com

Friday The 13th

September 15, 2013

Friday September 13th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Another Friday the 13th passes quietly into history, and I have no shows to do. That bothers me. I never like to be off on a weekend as it is, but this one especially hurts because there aren’t very many Friday the 13th opportunities to be able to exploit to my benefit for manufactured publicity.

This year has two – September and December. I have a tentative holiday party on the books for December, but that’s in the afternoon. I have nothing at night as of yet, and I hope to land a show somewhere so the year isn’t a waste. Next year there is only one – in June. There are never more than three in any given year, and there is always at least one. I have to make the most of them all.

If I’m going to play the stage character of ‘Mr. Lucky’, it’s an ideal way to stand out. It should be a special event to have Mr. Lucky booked on Friday the 13th, but I’ve yet to be able to sell that idea to bookers. From a promotional standpoint it should be a no brainer, but nobody has bitten.

Maybe I need to sell the concept to them more, but something’s definitely missing somewhere. I will go to my grave believing in the potential of the premise that someone being the unluckiest person on the planet is funny, but for whatever reason it hasn’t caught on with a mass audience.

Am I not selling it correctly? Am I the wrong guy to play the character? I sure hope not. What a crushing disappointment it would be to have somebody else play on stage what I’ve been living in real life since birth. That would really be a Mr. Lucky scenario, only I wouldn’t be laughing.

I know there’s enormous comedic potential with this character, and I have to believe that it can catch on big time with a mass audience. It’s universal. Who doesn’t think they have some kind of bad luck in their lives whether it’s bad parking karma to lack of ability to choose a correct mate?

The more wildly wrong someone else’s life goes, the funnier it is to those watching. There is a cruel but undeniable comfort in knowing somebody else is doing worse, no matter who it is. I am fine with playing that character on stage, but it’s been a bitch and a half having to play it in life.

I once submitted a recording of my act to a comedy record label, and the guy in charge said he didn’t like gimmicks as a rule, but mine fit. He didn’t sign me to a deal, but I was encouraged by his comments. There is definitely something there, but how do I plug into it? That’s the mystery.

Maybe Mr. Lucky should be a cartoon character or even a comic strip. The advantage of that is that the character never ages, and there is a lot more creative freedom. That’s what’s great about animated shows like The Simpsons or Family Guy. They can blow them up, send them into outer space or anything else they want without consequence or added expense. It opens up new doors.

I’ve got to open up something. Doing what I’ve been doing isn’t working to my liking, and it’s not going to change by itself. I know I have a solid act and solid character, but what I’m missing is a solid business plan in place to sell it correctly. Once people see it, they will be able to relate.

Or, maybe I’m completely off base and nowhere near hitting anything. Sometimes it seems that way – especially on a Friday the 13th when I think I should be doing sold out shows somewhere.

Fame? No Thanks

August 19, 2013

Sunday August 18th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Should I ever be given a choice as to what torture to inflict upon my worst enemy, I’d seriously have to consider the curse of massive fame. I can’t imagine how anyone could live in peace with having to bear that burden. Some are better suited than others, but it still has to be a constant hell.

   I have a difficult enough time dealing with it on a part time basis. I’m always friendly to people who approach me, and 99% of the time there’s never a problem. They’ll usually say they enjoyed my show, and then maybe ask for an autograph or to have a picture with them. That’s totally ok.

   It happens more often than not at the venue where I’m performing, but once in a while I’ll have someone approach me in public. It’s mostly in small towns, but not always. One time I was with some friends who weren’t comedians when I was in the San Francisco Comedy Competition. We were hanging out in downtown San Francisco and out of the blue someone yelled out my name.

   “Hey, it’s Mr. Lucky! That guy is HILARIOUS!” It made everyone stop and stare, and the guy who yelled it came over and shook my hand and told me he had seen my show the previous night and loved it. That impressed the hell out of my friends, even though I knew it was a lucky fluke.

   A situation like that is an ego stroke more than anything. It was fun, but then it was over. What must it be like to be Michael Jordan or David Letterman or Oprah or anyone that has been known to the public for decades? They couldn’t walk down any street in peace. That’s not what I want.

   There’s a Chinese buffet not far from where I live that I really enjoy. They have a wide variety of good food, and it’s very reasonably priced. Most Chinese buffets tend to serve low grade dog food, but these guys are a definite cut above. I find myself going there often and I went today.

   It’s a giant place, and I’ll bet it seats several hundred. It was a lot fuller today than I’m used to, as I tend to go at off times as a rule. I was led to my seat by my hostess, and then I went up to the buffet to fill my plate. There were a lot of people milling around and I didn’t think anything of it.

   Out of the blue, some guy I didn’t know shouted out loud across the egg drop soup vat “HEY! You’re a COMEDIAN! I’ve seen you. You’re FUNNY!” It stopped traffic, and everyone around the soup vats turned to stare at me. I turned around to pretend I was looking for somebody else.

   The guy wasn’t buying it and pointed his soup ladle at me. “No…YOU! I saw you years ago.” I smiled and said thank you, and then complimented him on his memory. He remembered me from years ago while I barely remember what I had for breakfast. I thought our contact was finished.

    I thought wrong. He came around the soup vats and saddled right up next to me and informed me he’d been heckling the night he saw me and that I’d ripped him apart in front of everyone he knew. Apparently it was a big gathering of some sort, and all his friends and family were there.

   Of course I didn’t remember it in the least, but I played along like I did. After a full ten minute monologue, I knew I was in trouble. There was obviously some mental illness here, and he didn’t get the fact that he’d outstayed his courtesy time and was now in the red zone. I couldn’t escape.

   Finally I told him my soup was getting cold, and thanked him for saying hello. On his way out, he brought his wife to my table and started in again. This was ten more minutes I won’t get back, but I was polite and took it. Dreams of fame and fortune are misinformed. I’ll settle for fortune.

Momentum Shifts

July 17, 2013

Tuesday July 16th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The life of any entertainer always boils down to the constant shifting of momentum. The tide is either in or out at any given time, but it doesn’t stay there forever no matter what direction it may be headed. I was in a particularly lengthy out tide for a while, but now I feel it coming in again.

   My phone is ringing all over the place, and I can feel good things headed my way. I have some interesting and different opportunities on the table I wasn’t expecting, and I’m going to seriously focus on making the most of them. New opportunities with new people are exactly what I need.

   One thing I wasn’t expecting was this movie role I auditioned for last week. I received word of getting the part, and shooting is this week. I only have a few lines, but I appreciate the fact I was considered and will go in and give it my very best whether it leads to anything else or not. It will only add credibility to everything else I’m doing, and I’m sure I’ll meet some new connections.

   A standout role in a popular film would sure come in handy right about now. Look at what the role in ‘Caddyshack’ did for Rodney Dangerfield. He nailed it, and it put him over the top with a whole new generation of fans. I was one of them, and it still makes me laugh whenever I see it.

   This isn’t going to be that kind of a role, but I get to play a clueless security guard and it looks like I’ll be able to have fun with it. It’s great practice if nothing else, and it just may open me up to get a shot at my own Rodney type role in some other movie. ‘Mr. Lucky’ is a solid character.

   Another area I feel some heat happening is in the corporate market. I’ve traditionally not had a lot of bookings there, but now I feel it’s a much better fit. I can not only perform a squeaky clean comedy show or after dinner speech, I can also create comedy workshops for training purposes.

   I always tell my classes and it’s true – doing standup comedy is THE most difficult task to pull off consistently in all of the entertainment business. If one can be successful at it for any amount of time at all, anything else appears easy. That’s where I am now. Bring it on, and I’ll handle it.

   I’ve also been working on updating my personal website. It’s long overdue, and today I met up with my web guy Mark Filwett. He’s really talented, and he does what he says. I’m thrilled with my www.schlitzhappened.com  site. He’s mark@lakecountygeeks.com if you need a web guy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

   I’m spending my days working on as many things as I can get done. One of these days one area will get hot, and I’ll focus my energy on that. Right now, I’m still trying to find out what it might be. I’m rattling cages in different areas, but they’re not all that far off from what I’ve been doing.

   I’ve always been performing and teaching comedy, I’m just looking to do it in a different arena than I’ve been used to. Comedy clubs have never been where the big money is, and I find a lot of those who book them not to my liking. They can be shady, and it’s getting worse. Why not move up the trough and drink a little closer to the main teat? I’ve been hanging out at the wrong end.

   Tonight I was invited to a delicious dinner with my magician friend Dennis DeBondt. His Aunt Boots just turned 90, and she lives just a few minutes from me on a gorgeous lake. Dennis owns a cottage next door, and whenever he’s up here he gives me a call. Boots is a sweetheart, and she invited some friends over to celebrate one of their birthdays. The food and company were of the highest order, and we sat around and had a lot of laughs. This is exactly how life should work.

Twice In One Day

March 19, 2013

Sunday March 17th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   What would life in Mr. Lucky land be without an unexpected crisis coming every day or two to make sure my tension levels are always at their highest? BORING, that’s what. Believe me, I am craving a boring life more than a vampire craves blood, but it’s just not in the cards for this chap.

As if I needed more car trouble, I popped a tire on the freeway on my way to teach my Sunday afternoon comedy class at Zanies in Chicago and am lucky I didn’t kill myself. It happened right as I was arriving in the city and I was in fairly heavy traffic in the middle lane. That’s dangerous.

I’ve had so many things go wrong on this ‘free’ car I got from my friend Rich that I assumed it was out of ways to torture me. It’s already emptied my wallet and self esteem, and like a woman scorned it has done so with a heartless vengeance. I thought I had gotten out of her line of fire.

WRONG! I had the presence of mind to keep both hands on the wheel and stay in my lane, but slowing down too much would be dangerous as I’d have a good chance to get road sodomized at high speed. I wouldn’t mind at all to get hit, but not by a semi going 70. I would be human soup.

I did manage to get out of traffic safely, and checked my trunk to find a spare little donut with no jack or lug wrench. I know I should have checked this when I got the car, but I go through so many vehicles sometimes I don’t get around to it. I get confused, and assume I have everything.

I called Bill Gorgo to cover the first part of class, and drove on my shredded tire probably two miles at slow speed until I was able to make it to the parking lot of a hotel. I asked the desk clerk if maintenance might have a tire jack, and sure enough a guy came out and helped me. I’ve tried to help people my whole life, and having it come back when I really needed it was appreciated.

I even tried to slip the guy $10, but he was totally cool about it. I’ve done things like that many times for other people so I didn’t feel guilty at all. I sincerely thanked him and made it to Zanies to finish the class. I thought my car problems were through for the day and focused on comedy.

WRONG AGAIN! I needed to be in Kenosha to host ‘The Mothership Connection’ radio show on AM 1050 WLIP by 8pm, but just as I crossed into Lake County on I-94 the donut popped and I was back to trudging along at five miles an hour. I knew I didn’t have a jack, and tried to make it to a spot that wouldn’t require a tow in the morning. Nothing was going to be open on Sunday.

It took a long time, but I nursed the car to a tire shop in Waukegan where I have done business before. I turned on my flashers and rode the shoulder all the way, feeling the piercing looks from everyone who passed me as they gawked at my ratty two tone car with ‘URANUS 2’ plates and a ‘I (heart) URANUS’ bumper sticker. Being the center of attention this way is not what I desire.

So to review, I had two flat tires in one day. That doesn’t scare me. It’s typical for Mr. Lucky’s odds. One time I got two speeding tickets in the same day – in WYOMING. No joke. How many cops are patrolling Wyoming? I found them both. I’ll get past this, but for today it was a hassle.

Flat Tire #1

Flat Tire #1

Flat Tire #2

Flat Tire #2

See Ya Later, Alternator

February 28, 2013

Wednesday February 27th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   What good would being Mr. Lucky be without at least a weekly crisis to perpetuate my legend? Why would I want my life to operate smoothly when I can maintain a constant level of stress and high tension that keeps me wound tighter than Oprah’s underwear the day after Thanksgiving?

I’ve had my fill and then some of these funky tales of woe, but the cosmic dispatcher cares not and sends more whether I want them or not. It’s like a delivery of sand to the desert – I’ve got all I can use for the next 40,000 years, thank you. Put the boxes back on the truck and leave. Please.

As if I didn’t have enough to be concerned with fighting the weather conditions on my way to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago tonight, I had the extra fun of having my alternator puke on my already overpriced ‘free’ car. I’ve had alternators puke before, but I can’t remember one doing it in such nasty weather conditions and that made for a high stress 50 mile trek through snowy hell.

Anyone who has experienced the death of an alternator knows the symptoms all too well. First, the ‘battery’ light comes on the dash board. That’s a light that usually comes on very briefly only when the car is started, and then goes right back off. When it pops on in traffic, there’s trouble.

I was fighting to get a left turn completed in an unplowed intersection without sliding into a big old pickup truck coming the other way when I noticed the light pop on and I knew I was screwed immediately. The alternator keeps the battery charged, and now I’d be draining it with having to keep all my accessories running like lights, wipers, heat and radio to keep me abreast of traffic.

The light came on as I was still about 45 miles away on a 50 mile trip, and now it became a big race to either find a rental car place that was open or make it as far into Chicago as I could so I’d at least be able to get a bus, train or cab to Old Town to make it to Zanies for my 8:30 show. I am the headliner this week, so I don’t go on until about 9:15, so that was my very latest arrival time.

And if all that still wasn’t enough to rock my world, I had a radio interview scheduled with my friend Evan Ginzburg in New York on his show called ‘Legends Radio’. Evan is a great guy and we share not only a love for professional wrestling, but also funk music. He likes George Clinton and Bootsy Collins like I do, and was also a producer of the ‘The Wrestler’ with Mickey Rourke.

Evan also manages Luscious Johnny Valiant, a wrestler who wants to become a comedian. He’s a guy I used to boo the hell out of when I was a kid, and it’s all surreal that we’ve managed to get connected all these years later. I’ve talked to Johnny and at some point hope to work with him on a comedy show. Evan is up for it too, and we’ve become friends in the last few years. I like him.

It was too late to cancel, so I did the interview to the best of my ability as I plowed through the snow helplessly watching my lights get dimmer the entire way. My wipers slowed down and my radio eventually faded until I finally stalled completely two blocks from Zanies. I had to hang up and push my car to a tow zone, and then pray it wouldn’t be towed as I did my show at Zanies – which actually went very well. The audience had no idea of my troubles, and that’s being a pro.

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.

Tough Ship

February 15, 2013

Thursday February 14th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Carnival Cruise Lines is in a delicate P.R. situation and I’m sad to hear it. Their ship ‘Triumph’ apparently had an engine fire that disabled everything onboard and passengers have been living a nightmare for the past few days. I’m hearing all kinds of horror stories about raw sewage backed up in the hallways and running out of food, and it makes me glad I’m not still doing cruise ships.

I worked for Carnival in 2010 and 2011 and was booked on that very ship. I had fun on that run and especially liked the cruise director. He was a total people person and we got along great. I’m not sure if it’s still the same person, but I’m sending positive vibes to no matter who’s in charge.

One can only imagine how hellacious that gig must be right about now, and if it was me I think I’d have jumped off the back of the boat about two days into it to swim home. To Chicago. What a mess, and unfortunately it will tarnish both Carnival and cruising in general’s reputation with at least a percentage of the ticket buying public for a long time to come. This is not good publicity.

Unfortunately, it’s a numbers game. Carnival had 22 ships when I worked there, and may have a few more now for all I know. I was absolutely amazed at how efficiently those ships operated, and I would estimate I worked on at least a dozen during my run. They’ve got the system down.

I was blown away by how they cranked things out, but still took care of business. They loaded and unloaded passengers with surgical precision, but safety was never overlooked in the mix. My personal safety was never a concern in all the time I worked for them, and I’d work there again.

This is the equivalent of a plane crash causing people to not want to fly. Yes they suck out loud if you happen to be aboard one of the crashing planes, but it’s still a safe bet to fly just because in the grand scheme plane crashes are extremely rare. More people die in car wrecks than in planes.

I’m not making excuses, and I still feel bad for everyone who had to go through this horror. It’s not fun I’m sure, and there are two comedians on board who will probably never have a desire to work a cruise ship again. I’m surprised it didn’t happen to Mr. Lucky, but I’m not sad I missed it.

I am sad that this will linger in people’s minds or a long time. The thousands of cruises that are glitch free go unglorified because that’s how they’re supposed to go. ONE didn’t, and it’s putting a negative image of the company and the business in people’s minds that will make a much more lasting impression than 100 commercials singing the praises of cruising. That’s how life works.

McDonald’s sells oceans full of coffee every day without a hitch, but one idiot dumps a cup of it in her crotch and sues and it’s all over the news. It only takes a single incident out of thousands to change the minds of the masses, and that’s just not fair. But again, whoever said life was fair?

Carnival has a fleet of other ships that aren’t having any problems, but this one is getting major coverage on every network. I’ve got my own problems to look after, but this was an incident that caught my attention. This could happen to anyone in one way or another, and nobody is immune.

Door Jammed

January 9, 2013

Wednesday January 9th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Comedians as a rule will tend to use our most painful and/or stressful life situations to craft our comedy material. It’s what we do. I can say first hand from all too much bitter experience there’s absolutely NOTHING more unfunny or torturous than having to live one of those bits in reverse.

This ‘free’ car I have is becoming a total nightmare. It’s been one ridiculously outrageous high cost problem after the next, and I stopped laughing a long time ago. It’s becoming a major hassle as I’m so deep into it financially I don’t know what to do. It’s a swift kick right in my ball joints.

Today I received the delightful news my driver’s door latch malfunction will only set me back a paltry $350 to fix – and that doesn’t come with any guarantees it will work as long as I keep the car. The body shop manager’s head snapped back as I laughed out loud heartily when he shot me the final number. “I didn’t expect that reaction,” he said. “I didn’t expect that price,” I countered.

He was actually a very nice guy and went on to explain how difficult it was to even find a latch for my particular door. He only found five in the entire country, and it would take several days to have one shipped in before they could even fix it. I don’t think the guy was lying, and he took the time to show me where all five of the latches were located and what work all needed to be done.

There’s no way I want to throw another $350 into this unending money sucking nightmare, but what else am I supposed to do? I already have way more than I ever wanted to stick into this ugly mess as it is, and it’s not anything I can ever get back out. I’m in a tight spot here, and it rots ass.

What I told them to try was to secure the latch somehow so the door can lock and not pop open in traffic. I don’t care if they have to weld it shut, I can’t see wasting another $350 on top of all I already spent. As inconvenient as it will be, I’ll crawl over from the passenger side and slide into the driver’s seat for the rest of the time I own the car – which I don’t expect to be for long now.

It kills me to have to eat such a heaping pile of manure, but I’m going to have to cut my losses and move on. I threw everything into this car, thinking it would last at least a year. Unfortunately the engine and transmission probably would have easily done that and more. It’s the other ton of glitches that are absolutely killing me. $825 for an exhaust system? Brakes? That money is shot.

The timing of this whole fiasco is what hurts the most. There have been times in my life when I could have weathered this kind of storm financially and laughed it off. Right now I am struggling harder than I ever have, and I really need that car to last the rest of the year. I was counting on it.

We’ll see how many times I can squeeze my fanny over the gear shift knob before I flip all the way out and set it on fire, but right now I can’t think of a better alternative. I have a rental car for the rest of this week, but next Monday I’m going to have to deal with this every day of my life.

I’m sure I can take it to other places and get other estimates, but the bottom line is I’m stuck in a horribly inconvenient situation I never planned for. On stage, it’s hilarious. In real life, it hurts.