Posts Tagged ‘Pheasant Run’

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.

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.

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.


The Joy Of Teaching

July 7, 2010

Tuesday July 6th, 2010 – St. Charles, IL

Another outstanding comedy class session at Zanies tonight, this time in St. Charles, IL at Pheasant Run Resort. This was the last week of this particular series, and all the people in it were extra sharp students. They’d either missed a class or two in the past or wanted a chance to get back into it, and I offered it at no cost just to create some goodwill business.

I love teaching anyway, especially to students who want to soak it all up like I did when I was starting out. I brought Bill Gorgo with me and together we always have fun and are able to feed off each other’s creative energy and teaching vibe. We make a splendid team.

Performing comedy is still my biggest thrill, but teaching is running a close second. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to help someone live a dream, but also a challenge to earn someone’s trust and have a person buy in to what I’m trying to teach. It never gets boring.

Every person is different and that makes every class different, and that keeps it fresh on a teaching level. Some students are better than others, but this group had some top quality people who wanted to learn. Even though I did it for free, it was worth the weekly drive.

Eric Hedman is an example of a top flight student. He’s a couple of years younger than me, and a fireman in one of the Chicago suburbs. He’s married with kids, and being a dad is the basis of his stage persona. He was in a previous class session and his act grew every single week. He was hungry to learn, took to heart what I said and it sped up his progress.

He came back again and did the same thing. Bill and I were pummeling him pretty good but that’s exactly what he needed to hear. Kudos to him for standing on stage and taking a verbal beating from two different sides of the stage. That’s how to really get better. Fast.

Eric gets out in the open mike scene in Chicago and sees how it is. He loves comedy on a level higher than most people, but also has a family to support. I think there are so many Eric Hedman types in North America, I couldn’t begin to count them all. I’d love to have the chance to let them all come out of their shells and grow in a good way like Eric has.

Younger people are fine too, but someone older has life experiences to build upon and a completely different way of putting their comedy together. It’s fun to watch them grow up as performers, and in many cases it adds excitement to their entire life. What a thrill to be part of something like that, and an honor too. In my mind, that’s the way to spend a life.

Bill is winding down his real life teaching career, and would love to do more events like this. I would too. We’ve got a comedy writing one day full seminar coming up on August 1st, at a place to be determined. The guy promoting it hasn’t chosen a final destination yet.

He will, and we’ll show up ready to teach. That’s never the hard part. The hard part is to find people to fill the seats. We’re starting to do that too, even though it’s not taking place fast enough. It never does. All I can do is keep growing as a teacher and see where it goes.