Posts Tagged ‘Northern Lights Theatre’

My Favorite Venue

July 23, 2014

Saturday July 19th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI

Ahhh…nothing is as thoroughly refreshing as an oasis in the desert. Tonight I was booked for a pair of shows at my all time favorite performance venue which is The Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. I love everything about the place, and I’d work there anytime.

The stage is enormous, the sound and lights are always perfect, and the hometown audience is primed. I can talk to them like nowhere else, because I grew up in Milwaukee and know exactly what buttons to push. I can use references I can’t use anywhere else, and it is total creative bliss.

Another reason I like working there is the friendly staff. Bob Rech is in charge, and everybody from him on down treats me like a big star. I treat them well too, but I do that everywhere. That’s how I think everyone should be, but it doesn’t always go down that way. I feel totally at home.

Tonight I wasn’t hired to do my “Schlitz Happened!” show about growing up in Milwaukee, so I kept it separate and just did my regular standup comedy show. I have enough material to divide it up, and I have always been one to switch things around depending on the individual audience.

I’m rarely if ever nervous before any show, but tonight I admit there was a knot in my stomach because my sister Tammy and her husband Jake came out to see the early show. I had a difficult time coming up with the last time Tammy saw me, and it has to be more than 25 years. Jake had never seen me perform ever, and I wanted to have a good show just so they’d have a good time.

We went out for dinner before the show, and met up with my cousin Wendy and her childhood friend Mary Jo. Tammy and Wendy had never met, and I was a nervous host there too because I wanted it to go well. The last thing I needed would be any family tension, but there wasn’t a bit.

Wendy is a super sweetheart, and has supported me for years. She and Tammy were fine, and we had a relaxing meal before they went to gamble for a while before the show. Caryn Ruby was the opening act, and she joined us for dinner. I didn’t expect any problems from her, and didn’t have any. All of us got along, and it went exactly how it was supposed to go. I was SO relieved.

The early show audience wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. Summer shows are always light, and the 7pm starting time can be a factor too. I was still able to get them going, but I have had much better audiences. Tammy and Jake thought it was great, and so did Wendy. That’s the main concern I had, and I’m always ultra hard on myself and set high standards. I want to please.

Of course the second show was a whole lot better, but that’s how it usually goes. When there’s anybody that need to be impressed, the show rarely delivers – at least in my mind. When it’s just another show with nobody I know in the crowd, that’s when it rocks. Those people were laughers and we all had a blast. When that room is rocking, there isn’t any place like it. I adore that space.

If it were up to me, I would work there 52 weeks a year. I would perform “Schlitz Happened!” and build my legend like Danny Gans did at his theatre in The Mirage in Las Vegas. It doesn’t even have to be in the Northern Lights Theatre, even though I fit perfectly there. A smaller room would be fine, as long as the hot audiences keep showing up. I was born to work there. Literally.

I can't think of a more ideal venue for standup comedy than Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. It's my favorite stage of all time.

I can’t think of a more ideal venue for standup comedy than Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. It’s my favorite venue. http://www.paysbig.com

Still Getting Better

November 26, 2013

Sunday November 24th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

After all these years of performing standup comedy, I still feel not only that I am growing but I have a lot more upon which I can improve. That might disappoint some people, but I love it. I’ve got a reason to stay the course, and that’s important right about now. The road is plenty rough.

I just finished up a nice run of work that ended last night with week of eight shows at Zanies at the Pheasant Run in St. Charles, IL. Last night’s shows were very strong, and I felt myself doing a lot of things better than I ever have before. I’m going through a growth spurt, and it feels great.

That particular stage has always been one of my very favorites, and I’m extremely comfortable there. I’ve gone through a lot of growth spurts there through the years, but now it’s time to find a launching pad to take what I’m doing to a bigger audience. I know in my heart I’m ready to pop.

What I don’t know is where that launching pad is located. My crowd is not a typical bar crowd, and maybe not even a typical comedy club crowd. I do well in comedy clubs, but I still think I’m best suited for theatres. They don’t have to be huge cathedrals, but I’d much prefer that setting.

The atmosphere at Pheasant Run is very close, as there has been a theater there for decades and they are known in the area for it. I would assume at least some of the people who come to Zanies have been there at some point, and as a rule the audiences in that part of the world like what I do.

I appeal most to people over 30, and the fact that I’m not filthy is a huge plus. I can do a whole show and not say one swear word if necessary, and that’s a lot more rare than most people would think. I can also slug it out with bikers and sailors when I have to, even though that’s gotten old.

That’s never the kind of comedian I wanted to be, and it’s painful when I have to do it after all these years. Unfortunately I’m good at it, so the crowds usually love it. I can’t stand having to be my own enforcer, but most clubs refuse to bounce anybody these days because they buy drinks.

I’ve never been interested in being a saloon comic, even though that’s frequently where I have gotten hired over the years. Some comedians live for it, but I’ve always viewed it as a paycheck. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, but I have sucked in second hand smoke for a dozen.

The direction I’m thoroughly enjoying is the shaping of stories that have personally happened to me, and taking the audience on a trip. I used to just try to think of jokes, but this adds so much more depth of character. I don’t just stand there and talk, I like to move around and use my face and body for punctuation. I lean into it and give them all I’ve got, and it’s really working well.

This is going to be a perfect fit to take the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show to the next level. I’ll be at Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino the next five Saturdays, so I’ll have ten shows to keep this momentum going. The only thing I wish I could change would be to add more shows.

In a perfect world, I’d be performing seven nights a week somewhere. The fewer miles I have to go, the better. Having a month of shows an hour from where I live is a huge leap in a direction I’ve been looking to go for a long time. I’m going to enjoy this next month. http://www.paysbig.com.

I will be performing my one man show 'Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst' at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee 11/30/13 and every Saturday in December. www.paysbig.com.

I will be performing my one man show ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst’ at Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee 11/30/13 and every Saturday in December. http://www.paysbig.com.

Art Appreciation

October 30, 2013

Sunday October 27th, 2013 – Springfield, IL/Madison, WI

I took a detour home from Springfield, IL today and drove up to Madison, WI to hang out with my friend Art Hinty. Art is a seasoned sportswriter by trade, and has an extremely creative mind. He has done standup comedy for years, and was part of Doug Stanhope’s inner circle for a while.

Like me, Art is originally from Milwaukee. He moved to the suburb of Sussex as a kid, but it’s not all that far from the city so he is very familiar with all things local. He totally gets where I am trying to go with my “Schlitz Happened!” show, and I wanted to pick his brain for my next run.

He’s already been very helpful with input, and I give him total credit. He’s the one that thought of the tag line “An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” after I told him what my title was. He’s the perfect sounding board to bounce ideas off of, because he gets both comedy and local flavor.

Art came out to see the show when I was at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino last April, and took the time to write out a detailed three page critique and make suggestions of how I could grow it into a local hit. He was dead on with his observations, and I appreciate his interest.

I never thought I was smart enough to pull this project off by myself. I knew going in I’d need plenty of help and support, and I’ve gotten it from a lot of talented people. Vicki Quade of “Late Night Catechism” and many other successful plays has been very supportive, and she drove up in April from Chicago to not only see the show but bring a friend with clout who could help sell it.

Bob Rech and the entire staff at Northern Lights Theatre have been unbelievably supportive, as has Joe San Felippo from Bonkerz Comedy Clubs. He books the comedy shows in the theatre on Saturday nights, and gave me the thumbs up for the trial run in April. I’m grateful to everybody.

I’m going to need a lot more help and support, but I feel supremely confident that it will come. I have another run set to go in December, and I’m gearing up to make major improvements. I am still in the very beginning stages, and smart decisions need to be made as the show gets rolling.

Eventually I want to have local corporate sponsorship and a line of merchandise to sell, but for now I need to keep fleshing out the show and making it solid. I experimented a lot in April, and I also learned a lot. The audiences were there, and they got what I was talking about. That’s great, but now I need to take it to the next level and craft an actual set show that I can polish for years.

Art is the perfect choice to consult for this, and I bought him dinner at Longhorn Steak House as appreciation not only for his time and ideas, but for a really nice thing he did for me years ago when I was going to do my appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS TV. He passed the hat and asked local comedians to donate for my trip to LA. What a sweet gesture.

Getting money out of comedians for anything is nothing short of miraculous, and I never forgot how kind it was for him to do that. Art is a wonderful and talented person, and that alone made it worth my trip to thank him for doing that. As an added bonus, we watched the Packers stomp the purple out of the nefarious Minnesota Vikings and that was the perfect way to end the day. Steak and football can never go wrong, nor can comedy and friendship. http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

Art Hinty - sports writer, comedian, creative sounding board

Art Hinty – sports writer, comedian and creative sounding board

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.

Schlitz Hits!

April 8, 2013

Saturday April 6th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   I did it! I officially turned an intangible dream into a rock solid reality, and it’s beyond exciting to know that not only did it go extremely well – it’s only just beginning. I’ve finally got myself a legitimate hit on my hands, and after more than my share of flops it feels so good I can’t sit still.

   “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” made its official debut tonight at The Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee for two shows, and I could not be any happier with how everything turned out. It went about as well as anyone could hope for.

   I knew going in I didn’t have a finished product, so my expectations were low. My main worry was if anyone would come out to see it, but that went away quickly as I watched a line of people waiting to get in the theatre at 7:50. I could barely refrain from jumping and screaming with glee.

   All I need is for people to latch on to this concept, and I’m going to be able to do this for years to come should I choose to and why wouldn’t I? I have all this local knowledge deep inside, and where else could I ever use it? There are enough people who know what I’m talking about to put it to use for everyone’s benefit. It’s going to take a lot more polishing, but the raw spark is there.

   The shows tonight were at 7 and 9, and there were more people at the first show then they have ever had for Bonkerz Comedy Club shows. BINGO! That’s all that matters right there. The show doesn’t have to be good unfortunately; it just has to get people in the door. I’m learning that’s the key ingredient in show business – even though it goes against all of my instincts as a performer.

   I’m not saying I don’t want it to be a good show, I totally do. But it doesn’t matter how good it may be if nobody comes out to see it. Tonight they did, and it was wonderful. The second show’s crowd was a bit less than the first, but together for both shows it was their biggest attendance for comedy shows ever. That’s not a bad way to start, but I’ve got a long road of hard work ahead.

   I’m not taking any credit for any of what happened tonight. Potawatomi has a high visibility in town with media, and they were the ones who got the word out. Bob Rech is the one who gave it the green light after hearing about it from booker Joe San Felippo. I sold Joe, Joe told Bob, and it grew from there. Bob gave it a shot, and Kim Mitschke and the P.R. department went from there.

   The word was put out, and then we had our dry run last Tuesday. Every opportunity was given to me to have the best chance of performing for a full house, and that’s how it came about. I had a few people I know show up to support, but the majority of who came out were total strangers.

   THEY are the ones who have to like this show, and judging from the response they totally did. I encourage audience participation at a certain point, and both shows had a lot of it – and exactly the way I wanted it. Nobody was yelling up drunken gibberish. They added to the show’s flavor.

   The first show was a challenge to maintain an hour and twenty minutes, but I did. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but being up there for that long isn’t easy. I threw in some standup bits to assure I wouldn’t totally bore them, and it worked. I did my time, and had plenty of material left.

   The second show felt a lot more relaxed. I felt a major improvement in only one show, and the crowd was really into it. I ad libbed all kinds of stuff, and they got it all. I’m not cocky, but I just know this is a big hit. It will take a lot more work, but I’m totally up for it. Schlitz is happening!

A Loyal Soldier

March 27, 2013

Tuesday March 26th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   My busy week continues as I had to be in Milwaukee today to promote the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows coming up sooner than later and also help judge the final round of a karaoke contest being held at the Potawatomi Casino Fire Keepers sports bar. I was flattered they asked, and I said yes.

I have an overwhelming feeling of confidence about how this project is going, and I can feel it becoming a big hit. I’ve been involved with more than my share of flops in my time, and this just doesn’t share the same characteristics. I can feel a positive buzz building, and it feels euphoric.

I’m really excited to be working at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino. I cannot say enough good things about that venue, and it’s just a perfect fit from all angles. The customers for my show are the exact same group the casino is going for, and this should be a perfect match.

Once word gets out there’s a funny local show that isn’t dirty, I know I’ll be able to stretch this out for years to come should I choose to do so. My biggest issue was getting the word out, but no more. Potawatomi has a very strong media presence, and they are getting behind me all the way.

Today I recorded a radio interview for WTMJ that will air this Sunday. There’s no way WTMJ would put me on the air as some Joe Shmoe local comic who came up with a half baked show in his basement, but with the Northern Lights Theatre behind it I have total and needed credibility.

It also didn’t hurt that the interview was hosted by my friend Jim Peck. Jim is a talented radio and TV host originally from Milwaukee who went on to be a big success hosting game shows on network TV. I have always been a fan of Jim’s, and am a bigger one now that I know him in real life. He’s got a razor sharp wit and is truly hilarious. He’s a pro’s pro and he made me look great.

Also with me in the interview was Bob Rech, the Entertainment Director for Potawatomi. He’s another guy I like and respect, and he totally knows what he’s doing. He’s not just giving me this run because he has nothing better to do though. He sees the potential this has for everyone in it.

Joe San Felippo of Bonkers Comedy Clubs is also someone in the mix. Joe has booked all the standup comedy shows at the theatre for years, and that’s how I got in. Joe and Bob put together solid shows, and have always been fans of mine and in my corner. I couldn’t be more grateful to both of them, and that’s why my first choice is to have the show have a home base here forever.

I’m a loyal soldier, even in a business where that’s not always common. Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago and I have worked together more than twenty years without a hiccup, and I’d love to establish a longstanding relationship with Potawatomi too. I’m not looking to start any turf wars.

All I want is a place to call performing home. I want to make a fair living, and I want the venue to make a fair profit too. This is a team effort, and I’m happy to have Bob and Joe and everybody at Potawatomi on the same team. Judging the karaoke show was a lot of fun, and there were quite a few talented performers on the bill. Now it’s off to Atlanta to be in the Laughing Skull Festival.

Building A Brand

March 22, 2013

Wednesday March 20th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

Today I needed to be in Milwaukee for a recorded video interview with Jason Evans who owns and runs a website about Milwaukee comedy called www.mkefunny.com. Jason is coming up the ranks as a comic himself, and I like him a lot. He’s a student of the game, and is paying his dues.

Jeff Lampton was also there, and he’s another Milwaukee comic I like and respect. Jeff has his own style and agenda, and it’s not one that most people would have the ‘nads to do. Jeff chooses to do what would probably be labeled as X-rated comedy, and that has always been dangerous.

Lenny Bruce chose that route as did George Carlin, Redd Foxx and a precious few others in the annals of standup comedy. There is an audience for that style of comedy, but more often than not those kinds of performers get blackballed and aren’t able to work places most other comics are.

It’s difficult enough trying to hack out a living as any kind of entertainer, but trying to fit into a controversial niche cranks those odds up past astronomical. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it sure does make the trip more difficult. I respect anyone who sticks to their guns and follows their inner creative vision, which Jeff is choosing to do. Hats off to him, and I wish him only the best.

I never chose to go that route, and it was a conscious business decision. Foul language doesn’t offend me at all. I’ve been around it as long as I can remember, but this style of comedy isn’t just about swearing. It’s about trying to make points about subjects that can be considered volatile or controversial by a large percentage of the public. It takes guts and skill to do that style correctly.

Lenny Bruce and George Carlin got arrested for what they said, and although it was wonderful publicity for both of them I never wanted to rattle those cages. I want to get laughs, and that will hopefully get me paid. Does that make me a sellout? So be it. I’m there to entertain my audience, and there is more opportunity to get work for someone who can work clean if word can get out.

That’s why I drove up for the interview, as it was about my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows coming up in April at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino. Hopefully I can attract comedy fans that follow Jason’s site, but I want to take it much farther than that. I want this to be part of the Milwaukee community as much as the subject matter I’m talking about. I want to be a brand.

   In a perfect world, this will be something that will be in demand locally from everything from church festivals to libraries to private parties to a stage at Summerfest or the State Fair. It will be a totally clean show, and I’m consciously choosing not to use any swearing at all. NONE. It’s not a nightclub comedy show. I’ve done that, but this isn’t it. This is designed for a broader market.

I want Milwaukeeans who have never been to a standup comedy show to become loyal fans of what I’m doing so they’ll come back again and again and send others. It will never be exactly the same show twice, as I’m going to allow for some audience input at times which will freshen it up and make each performance unique. It’s taken a lifetime to develop this show, but I am SO ready to make it a success. I’m grateful for this chance, and those who come see it won’t get cheated. 

What Did I Expect?

February 24, 2013

Friday February 22nd 2013 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI/Fox Lake, IL

   Well, I asked for it. Anyone who dares to drive to Sault Ste. Marie, MI in February is tempting the fates. I have no idea how or why anything of or close to having human DNA would consider living that far north, but they do. Massive snow is part of their lives so they better get used to it.

I knew I had lucked out big time on the drive yesterday, as there was not one flake of snow on the roads the entire 500 mile trip. Today I paid for it and then some with white out conditions the whole way through the Upper Peninsula, but I didn’t complain as I knew what I was getting into.

I volunteered for this run, and this kind of hazard goes with the territory. It’s not like it’s a new thing, I’ve been a road warrior for decades. On the way up the ladder newbies get their bookings when and where they can and that often means doing Duluth in December and Austin in August.

I’m fine with all of it, as it’s part of paying one’s dues. All most of us ask for as comedians is a fair chance to eventually move up the ladder but too often it never comes. I can think of a booker who used to rule the Midwest for years who was notorious for making people drive though brutal conditions – often on extremely short notice – but never ever returning any favors down the road.

Countless aspiring comedians over those years risked life and limb taking treacherous trips like I took today hoping for a chance for advancement that never came. Then that wank wonders why most comedians view him as a slave driver and bad guy, but this is nothing like that. I feel great.

I’m a short timer on this list. I’ve paid dues upon dues upon interest on those dues. I’ve learned my craft and am rapidly improving my business skills too. I sense a payoff around the corner and it’s very exciting. I’m going to enjoy every minute and focus on all the good I can do for others.

I was able to save the day for two people I like and respect, and if driving through the snow for an afternoon will accomplish that I’d do it 1000 times out of 1000. Nobody died, and I’m back to civilization to continue working on fun stuff. Yes it cost me a day, but I’m so far behind as it is it doesn’t really matter. I am making lots of progress, and after further review this was still correct.

Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Clubs has thrown me work over the years and I’m sure he will do it again. He helped me get the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show booked into the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino for April, so this was not an issue. There’s reciprocation involved.

The headliner for this run is a comedy magician from Las Vegas named Kyle Marlett. I picked him up in Milwaukee and we drove up and back. He’s only 21, but has appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ and has his own show in Las Vegas. He’s very talented, but I don’t think he was ready for the brutal conditions of what being a road act is all about. He has dues to pay like everyone else.

I’m glad I agreed to do this, as now it’s over and I can move on. I did my good deed, and hope it might put a few coins in my karma bank so when I need a favor there will be someone who can step in on my behalf and save the day. There are no guarantees of that, but it sure would be nice.

Late But Still Great

February 6, 2013

Monday February 4th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   When I started in comedy, all that meant anything to me was to be a big deal in my home town. I didn’t know how life or the entertainment game worked, and I didn’t care. All I wanted was the recognition as being a legitimate comedian – even though the reason I wanted it wasn’t healthy.

I’ll embarrassingly admit it now even though I didn’t even know it then that I was out to prove myself and show everyone – mainly my father – that I was indeed worth something even though he constantly told me I would never amount to anything. It was important to me to disprove him and anyone else who happened to have a low opinion of me. I was determined to show them all.

That’s never the right reason to do anything in my opinion, but it took decades of making huge mistakes to figure that out. I fought, clawed and scratched my way up the ranks over those years, learning one painful lesson after the next. It’s only now I feel I’m finally starting to hit my stride.

Someone told me years ago that if I stayed with it long enough, I would eventually acquire that recognition in my hometown I craved so badly but by the time I got it I wouldn’t care. I couldn’t comprehend that concept then, but I totally do now and it was 100% accurate. I understand now.

Still, even though it’s late in coming it feels really good. My reasons have totally changed, and now I can just enjoy it for what it is – big fun. I no longer feel a need to prove myself to anyone, as I have more than proved to myself I could do all the things I’d set out to do when I started out.

I got a call today from Bob Rech, the Entertainment Director at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. We are going to team up on a series of ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst’ shows on Saturdays in April, and I’m delighted to be there.

The Northern Lights Theatre is a spectacular venue, and it’s become my absolute favorite stage since I started working there several years ago. Bob and the entire staff are always super friendly to work with, and it’s far and away the best I’ve ever been treated locally. They’ve won me over.

Even the security and wait staff have been wonderful, and it’s to the point now they invite their friends when I’m there because they enjoy my show. I feel completely at home on that stage, and I have consistently killer shows whenever I work there. Putting this run of shows together will be a grand slam home run and it’s been a long time coming – especially on my end. I am SO ready.

There’s still a lot of work to do, but this will be a total labor of love. I will be ready to deliver a CLEAN but still funny local comedy show, and it will be a perfect fit for that venue. I’m excited beyond words to get this chance. I made my mistakes years ago; it’s time to get what I’ve earned.

I’m not going into this to prove anything to anyone other than I’ve grown up and become a top level entertainer like I set out to do in the first place. My father is dead, and so are the issues that made me feel I needed to get his approval. I got my own approval, and that’s all I ever needed in the first place. This is going to be a wonderful experience, I feel it. The timing couldn’t be better.

Sweet Home Cooking

December 9, 2012

Saturday December 8th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

   Anytime I get to perform in a first class venue like the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino, I’m in a good mood. No, it’s better than that. I’m ecstatic! I live for places like this, and it fulfills my mental picture of what being in show business is about. This is how it should be.

It’s even better that it happens to be in my home town, and I finally got what I always wanted when I started in comedy – respect. Every performer wants to be recognized in their home town, but ironically that’s the place it’s usually the most difficult to get it. I know all kinds of comedian friends who tell me stories of how they don’t work in their home town due to festering conflicts.

Boy, can I relate to that unfortunately. I’ve had more than my share of unpleasant dealings with slithering serpents and unscrupulous imbeciles over the years, and I thought it would never end. I don’t suffer bullies well and never have, and all too often that’s the type that runs comedy clubs.

They know comedians are hungry to get stage time, and are willing to do just about anything to get it. It’s like crack to an addict, and the club owners know it. They don’t have talent themselves other than being able to sell drinks, and we’re the attraction that brings people in to order them.

Of course there are exceptions, and not all comedy club owners are Satan’s henchmen – but the majority of those I’ve dealt with in Milwaukee over the years are frighteningly close. For reasons I still have never figured out, it’s just never been a town that nurtures the growth of comedians or entertainers of any genre. I hear the same complaint from musicians, singers and most all others.

It saddens me to know my home town doesn’t have a respectable ‘scene’, but that’s just how it is and always has been. Cities like Minneapolis and Boston and San Francisco are comedy towns but Milwaukee just isn’t. That’s why it means so much to perform at such a stellar venue locally.

The sound and lights are fantastic, and there’s a gigantic stage for me to roam around like I like to do. The working conditions are absolutely perfect, and after having to deal with more than my share of squeaky microphones and ‘lighting systems’ that were nothing more than a 40 watt bulb over the years it’s absolute heaven to walk into a situation that has it figured out from the get go.

The people I deal with are also top shelf all the way. The stage manager Steve makes everyone feel at home, and whenever I walk into the dressing room I feel like I’ve arrived. There’s always a refrigerator full of ice cold drinks, and we get a delicious meal either before or after our shows.

If nobody else appreciates these perks, I certainly do. It’s taken a lifetime to earn them, and I’m grateful every time I get to walk out on that stage. Tonight I had two very fun shows, and I had a line of people after each one telling me how much they enjoyed it. Some of them I’ve known for years, but there were also strangers who said they’d heard my name and wanted to see my show.

I totally feel at home working this stage, and I’d love to do my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ Milwaukee themed show here at some point. It would be the ideal location, and I’m ready to try it in 2013.