Posts Tagged ‘Patti Vasquez’

3000 Idiots

March 13, 2014

Wednesday March 12th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I seem to have gotten out of the gargantuan groove I was in for a few months, but I’m going to do an about face and go right back in that direction. I was riding a major wave there for a while – probably the best one I’ve ever ridden. It was bound to end at some point, but it’s not permanent.

I am going to consciously take my surf board back out in the water and find the next one. I will not let a couple of off days take me out of the ocean. There are a lot more waves to ride, and I am on a limited time schedule. The clock is ticking, and wallowing in mud takes away from the fun.

There was a change in schedule today that I was delighted to hear about. I had recently booked a show outside of Fort Wayne, IN for tonight, but the gig called this morning and said they were going to have to cancel due to bad weather. That made my entire day, as I had no desire to drive.

I ended up being able to get some work done, and also have some time to think. I wore myself out working on the Sharing For Sheri benefit show last night and the weeks leading up to it, but I still feel it was the right decision from a karma standpoint. I don’t regret helping anyone in need.

What I did regret was making a post on Facebook pointing out that every single wannabe in the city should have been lining up to see that show last night. It was a chance to watch SIX full time professional comedians practice their craft, and also donate to a worthy charity. Every one of the acts on last night’s show would have been glad to take time and answer questions from a newbie.

In fact, that would have been the ideal time. Comedians love to talk about comedy – especially in a room full of other comedians. We were all in a good mood last night, and had anyone shown up with even the least interest in being a professional he or she would have had all the time they wanted within reason to fire questions at any of us. What a magnificent opportunity they missed.

When I attempted to point that out logically, I was rewarded with a full smorgasbord of snide remarks aimed at my profanity ridden diatribe. I felt I needed to use strong language, because it was painfully obvious few if any were going to get anything subtle. There were roughly 3000 in the two Chicago Facebook group lists, and you mean to tell me not ONE comprehends this?

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a poor turnout like this. None of the Milwaukee locals would show up when I did the benefit show for Officer Josh Albert whenever that was. It baffles me to the ends of the Earth why someone that claims to want to be a professional in any field wouldn’t go out of his or her way to network with people that have already done it. Why wouldn’t they?

We laughed about it last night. I was sitting with Larry Reeb and John DaCosse who blew the roof off the joint in less than ideal conditions. That wasn’t a comedy room per se, but when they took the stage it became one in a hurry. Their years of experience were immediately evident, and so were those of Sonya White and Patti Vasquez. Mike Preston had the flu, yet he lit it up also.

Even 12 year old Trevor Burke did a more than journeyman’s job. That wasn’t his audience but he went up and didn’t flinch all the way through his set. He stayed poised, and I was really proud of the way he hung in there and finished his set. It didn’t throw him a bit, and that’s a major feat.

The people who saw that show got their money’s worth and more, and there was a nice chunk of change raised for Sheri. The comedians were superb as a whole, and I felt great about booking the show myself. I put it together, because after thirty years I finally have a clue what I’m doing.

Why out of 3000 alleged wannabe comedians in town, not ONE would take advantage of such a rare opportunity is beyond my comprehension. But I’m not going to dwell on it and will focus on something positive. Those are 3000 of the dumbest apezoids I’ve run across in all my days.

The world is getting stupider and ruder by the minute, but I don’t have to put up with it. I have been above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping people and setting up shows to benefit those in need, and I’ll keep my eyes fixed on things like that. Those monkeys are in their own cage and it’s not my job to worry about their laughable lack of sense. I’ve got my own life.

I am thoroughly convinced that what one chooses to focus one’s thoughts on is a direct conduit to the quality of life that person gets to enjoy. Thoughts truly are things, and we are in control of a lot more than we think. I have been wasting my time bellyaching about a few sleazoids of late.

Why am I thinking about them? I don’t know, but it needs to stop. It’s dragging me right down to their level, and I refuse to accept that. I’ve come too far to let something that petty take me out of my groove. I had a little detour glitch these last couple of days, but now I’m back on the road.

I have been seriously contemplating whether or not to continue this daily cyber purge, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to receive several calls and emails in the past 48 hours from people that I haven’t spoken with or seen in years that have been extremely kind to ask me to keep doing it.

I’ve always done it for me since I started, but knowing I have regular readers really blows wind into my sail. It gives me purpose. I know there are a lot of other dented cans out there, and I want to connect with them and give them hope that they’re not alone either on this insane little planet.

Kirk Noland is a guy I heard from today. He’s originally from Michigan, but now lives in L.A. He started as a comedian, and we worked together quite a few times over the years. We’ve never been close friends, but we always got along fine. I remember him as funny and highly creative.

Kirk made a point to call me today not only to say some very complimentary things about my writing, but to also inform me that he too is a dented can and struggles through many of the exact same things I do. I had no idea he was even following, and it was good to hear from him. He has evolved nicely, and now makes videos. See what he does at http://www.theminutewithkirknoland.com.

Tom Mabe is another creative person that I hadn’t heard from in a while. He’s out of Louisville and had some success with his ‘Revenge of the Telemarketers’ idea among other things. Tom has also been following, and I had no idea. He’s a brilliant marketer, and is at http://www.tommabe.com.

I also know that other quality people I like and respect have either consistently shared or given me the ‘like’ thumbs up including Don Reese, Donna Carter, C.J. Vincent, Billy Elmer, ‘Rusty Z’ and many more. I’m grateful for every last one of them, and I will continue writing even if they’re the only ones that ever read it while I’m alive. The 3000 idiots aren’t worth my time, but these people are.

Kirk Noland is a creative man of man talents. I'm flattered to have him as a reader. Check out his videos at www.themintewithkirknoland.com.

Kirk Noland is a creative man of many talents. I’m flattered to have him as a reader. Check out his videos at http://www.themintewithkirknoland.com.

Tom Mabe is another guy I've always respected. What a brilliant marketer he is. Super creative. www.tommabe.com.

Tom Mabe is another guy I’ve always respected. What a brilliant marketer he is – super creative and always thinking. http://www.tommabe.com.

Comedian Don Reese is one of the sweetest human beings I've ever met - and one of the funniest. He shaved his head before it was cool. LOVE that guy. www.donreese.com.

Comedian Don Reese is one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met – and one of the funniest. He shaved his head before it was cool. LOVE that guy, and you will too. http://www.donreese.com.

OOPS, forgot one. James R. Zingelman - aka 'Rusty Z' is a comedian and hypnotist. SUPER funny, and a great guy. www.zingproductions.com

James R. Zingelman – aka ‘Rusty Z’ is a comedian and hypnotist. SUPER funny is he, and a super guy too. http://www.zingproductions.com

Sharing For Sheri

March 12, 2014

Tuesday March 11th, 2014 – Hawthorn Woods, IL

Long before I reconnected with my birth family, I was part of the Zanies Comedy Club family. I have worked more than my share of jobs, but have never seen a group of closer knit people than I have at Zanies. There are several Zanies locations in the Chicago area, and the one that recently closed in Vernon Hills, IL had a particularly sweet staff. Those people have always been super.

I worked at that club frequently from the day it opened until the day it closed. Coincidentally, I was the first comedian to ever step on that stage and the last one to close the last show. That club was my home both in comedy and in life, and I even developed my comedy classes in that space.

The last three places I have lived have all been with former Zanies employees, including where I am now. That’s why when the opportunity arose to have a fundraiser for Sheri Johnson, I knew it was my duty to set the wheels in motion. I had no doubt the others would follow, and they did.

A tremendous turnout of both former Zanies staff and Chicago comedians came out tonight to make a successful event at Hawthorn Hills Country Club – who generously donated their facility for the evening. It was comforting to see all those friendly faces again, and we pulled off a gem.

Liz Long really helped, as she was the manager of Zanies for years. Actually, Sheri was too at one point so it was totally in house. Many of the wait staff showed up early to help set things up, and a few with teenage kids brought them out to help with the heavy lifting. It was a team effort.

The comedians came out as well, and I’m very grateful to Patti Vasquez, Mike Preston, Trevor Burke, John DaCosse, Sonya White and ‘Uncle Lar’ Larry Reeb. They put on a killer evening of comedy, and nobody got paid a cent. All except Trevor knew Sheri, and it was nice of them to be willing to come out and support. The people in attendance got a huge bang for their charity buck.

I didn’t get a final count numbers wise of attendance, but the main area where the actual show was held was standing room only. There were side areas to the left and right of the stage as well, and they had people too. The room looked full, and that’s all that mattered. It wasn’t a flop at all.

Even better, the final total of donations including a 50/50 raffle and quite a bit of donated swag was almost double what I was estimating. It was a raging success, and I couldn’t be happier but I also am not surprised. Those people are givers, and they came together tonight and did it right.

I have to say I’m extremely disappointed in the rest of the Chicago comedy scene. I posted the event on a couple of Facebook groups of younger comedians and got ZERO response. That made my bung hole pucker, as it didn’t shine well for the younger generation. Here national headliners came out and generously donated their time and talent, but open mic piss ants couldn’t show up.

I thought there was NO excuse for that whatsoever, not just from a comedy standpoint but from a humanity standpoint. A vibrant young woman has been struck down in the prime of life with an absolutely horrific health crisis, and not ONE of several HUNDRED aspiring comedians had one ounce of human compassion to come out and support? Even for selfish reasons they should have come out to network with comedians and bookers. They missed out, because it was a great night. If you missed it and still want to donate, here is the link:

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/sharing-for-sheri/140736

The 'Sharing For Sheri' benefit comedy show was a smash, thanks to the efforts of a family of wonderful people. I am proud of them all.

The ‘Sharing For Sheri’ benefit comedy show was a smash, thanks to the efforts of a family of wonderful people. I am proud of them all.

Braving The Elements

January 27, 2014

Saturday January 25th, 2014 – Woodburn, IN

Comedy work has been flowing very nicely of late, and January has been an excellent month. I love to stay busy, but it always ends up being part of a cycle. Right now I’m riding the wave on a hot streak, and life is peachy. Then it will be slow again, and then heat back up. That’s how it is.

I would absolutely work every night if I could – seven nights a week each and every week – but that’s a tall order. The performing part is that much fun, but unfortunately that isn’t everything to have to think about. Booking actual dates and dealing with travel become a full time occupation.

Tonight was the last of a manufactured three night run and I was booked with Jimmy McHugh and Patti Vasquez for a volunteer fire department fundraiser in a small town near Ft. Wayne, IN called Woodburn. That might not sound very exciting, but these kinds of shows can be electric.

Electricity became an important theme all day, as there was a power outage in the town and we weren’t sure if there would be a show or not. Jimmy and I were booked together in Frankfort, IL last night, so he chose me to be part of this fundraiser to make travel easier. We drove together.

Weather can obviously be an issue this time of year, and we knew that. We expect that driving can cause grief, but we weren’t expecting a power outage. Jimmy called around noon to check on the snow conditions, and was told they weren’t sure if they could get power back in time to do a show. They were worried on their end because they’d sold out and didn’t want to give refunds.

We heard back by mid afternoon they could get an emergency generator, but we were keeping our eye on the weather as well and knew we had some rough conditions for driving. It’s not that far from Frankfort, IL to Fort Wayne, IN with ideal conditions, but in the snow all bets are off.

The drive was unpleasantly tense most of the way as we went through everything from slush to sunshine to snowfall and everything in between. It was way more stress than Jimmy or I wanted, but that’s part of the game. Nobody gets to choose when the stress arrives, it’s always random.

Patti was about an hour behind us, as she had a show in Marinette, WI last night and didn’t get home until 4:30am. Jimmy was concerned she wouldn’t make it, and we would have to cover her time. We could have easily done it, but he promised three acts and didn’t want to fail to deliver.

She ended up making it about an hour before the show, and the three of us were frazzled as we drove to Woodburn from our hotel in the Ft. Wayne area. The shows themselves aren’t stressful, but getting there often is. We’d all had all we could stand all day, but we also had a show to do.

The generator was working fine, and there was a jam packed house ready to forget about power outages and bad weather and have some laughs. We gave them exactly that, and they couldn’t be a better audience if they tried. As stressful as it was to get there, they made it worth the trouble.

Jimmy really works hard booking these shows with his “Chicago Comedy All Stars” fundraiser concept. Last year he was here with Mike Preston and James Wesley Jackson, and they rocked as well by all accounts. He’s always looking for new business – http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.

The Chicago Comedy All Stars specialize in doing fundraiser comedy shows anywhere that needs to raise them. www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.

The Chicago Comedy All Stars specialize in doing fundraiser standup comedy shows anywhere and everywhere that needs to raise them. http://www.chicagocomedyallstars.com.

Tonight it was in Woodburn, IN with Jimmy McHugh and Patti Vasquez.

Tonight it was at a fire station in Woodburn, IN along with Jimmy McHugh and Patti Vasquez.

The show was really fun, but getting there and back in a snowstorm was brutal. Welcome to show business.

The show was really fun as usual, but getting there and back in a snowstorm was brutal. Welcome to real world show business.

An Infamous Anniversary

December 18, 2013

Monday December 16th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

This is a date that has lots of personal significance – none of which I care to celebrate. It was in 2004 on this infamous date that I was unceremoniously shown the door at ‘The Loop’ in Chicago along with my friends Max Bumgardner and Spike Manton. It was a blow that we still feel today.

That was our shot at the big time, and we were just starting to hit stride. Nobody predicted that the company would be sold, and we were classic examples of ‘wrong place, wrong time’. It’s too late to change it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. We all took a direct shot to the face.

And if that wasn’t enough, December 16th is also the date in 1991 I rented a car and picked up my childhood best friend and my cousin Brett and we set off for Las Vegas. None of us had ever been there before, and it was supposed to be an adventure. It turned out to be a whole lot more.

Little did Brett and I know that my lifelong friend had robbed a bank where he used to work as head of security, and had two duffle bags full of stolen bank money in the trunk of that rental car as we drove across America. I wouldn’t find out for almost a year, and it ended up becoming the most painful thing I ever had to do – testify on a witness stand and send that “friend” to prison.

I still have nightmares occasionally, and I try not to let my mind go back there but on days like today I can’t help it. It seems like a different person in a different lifetime, but it really happened and it’s a hell of a story. I can say that with full confidence because I didn’t write one word of it.

It just happened, and I got tangled up in the middle. He decided he was going to rob that bank, and I had no idea I would end up involved. Then he decided to pull it off again a year and a half later, and circumstances forced me to have to testify against him and clear my name. At the end of the day he robbed the bank and I didn’t, and I wasn’t going to prison on anyone else’s behalf.

The whole story saddens me to think about, but the fact remains it is a hell of a story. There are lots of twists and turns, and anyone who hears it always says “Wow, that’s a movie!” I agree, but I wish I didn’t have to live through the nightmare that ended up taking several years to play out.

The “happy” ending was that I testified against someone that was closer than my blood brother, and he went to prison. It was a relief when the trial was over, but it was also painful. We’d come through a lot together, and he decided he wanted to be the bad boy and get even with life for the hand he was dealt. He’s a dented can too, and that was his way of fighting back. BIG mistake.

Tonight I was interviewed on WGN radio with Patti Vasquez. Patti does standup comedy, but also goes back and forth to Los Angeles pitching ideas of all kinds. She takes a cut of what gets sold, and she really hustles. I respect her tenacity, and she has agreed to pitch this story when she has an opportunity. We thought it would be a good idea to get the main outline recorded on air.

I told the story in about twenty minutes over two segments. I could see the others in the studio become riveted as usually happens. I’m telling you, it’s a fascinating story that listeners get lost in when they hear it, and I know it needs to see the light of day. Was it coincidence that Patti’s radio invite came on the anniversary? Who knows? What I do know is it’s an unforgettable tale.

I was on AM 720 WGN radio this morning telling a true story I still can't believe happened, but it did.

I was on AM 720 WGN radio in Chicago this morning telling a true story I still can’t believe actually happened – but it totally did.

Patti Vasquez has a show from 11pm to 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning. Thanks to her for having me on the air. www.pattivasquez.com.

Patti Vasquez hosts a show from 11pm to 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning on WGN. Thanks to her for having me on the air. http://www.pattivasquez.com.

Closer To The Dream

November 13, 2012

Saturday November 10th, 2012 – Ottumwa, IA

   The vision of what I always pictured being a comedian to be like is getting closer and closer to becoming reality, and I couldn’t be more delighted. It’s not every night unfortunately, and it took a whole lot longer to achieve it than I ever thought – but it is happening and that’s all that counts.

Tonight was as close to perfect as it gets, and I loved every second of it. Jim McHugh booked a Chicago Comedy All Stars show in Ottumwa, IA at a gorgeous venue called Bridge View Center through a contact he’s known for years named Larry Gawronski and it was a big time home run.

Larry is Executive Director of the venue, and is about as on the ball as anyone I have ever met when it comes to putting an event together. He and Jim have worked together for years as Larry has moved around the country in his career, and fate happened to relocate him to Ottumwa, IA.

His last stop was Vicksburg, MS and I got to be on a show with Jim there years ago. I had a lot of fun then, but it didn’t come close to tonight. This one rocked on every level, and it was all due to the hard work and vision of Larry and Jim. They put their heads together and made it happen.

All I had to do was show up and be funny – which is all I ever wanted to do in the first place. It all worked according to plan, and everyone was in a great mood. The venue is brand new and it’s absolutely spectacular. The sound and lights were world class, but more importantly it was full.

Larry and Jim worked for months to make this happen, and there were local sponsors involved as well. Without all of their hard work, the event couldn’t have happened and I knew that as soon as I walked in the door. There were banners with our pictures on it throughout the venue, and our names and pictures were on a marquee outside of the venue. It felt like I was finally in showbiz.

Besides Jim and me on the show, Tim Walkoe and Patti Vasquez rounded out the lineup. It was like a night off, as we all were asked to do was a total of about 25 minutes each. That makes for a lot of creative freedom to be able to go with only the very best material, and that’s what we did.

The audience was really into it, and we all fed off of their energy. I could tell it was going to be a killer show about thirty seconds into it, and when that happens it’s pure electricity. We all have a lot of experience, and that makes it even easier. We’d all worked with each other before, and at the end of the show we were all on stage together like The Rat Pack to close it out with a bang.

After the show, Larry invited us over to his house where his wife put out an amazing spread of food that blew us all away. The sponsors and some local VIPs were there, and they couldn’t have been nicer. They all said how much they enjoyed the show, and it was just first class all the way.

Larry put us in the Americinn Ottumwa, the nicest hotel in town. They treated us like stars too, and everything about this event was stellar. This is how I always pictured it, and just because it’s in Ottumwa rather than Las Vegas doesn’t take a thing away from it. Fun is fun, and this was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been a part of. Larry and Jim put together a night I won’t forget.