Posts Tagged ‘Phil Anglin’

Hen Party Hell

May 6, 2014

Saturday May 3rd, 2014 – South Haven, MI

Night number three of the mini tour, and tonight’s stop in South Haven, MI was the only place of the three that I had performed before. When I was here last time, the crowd was excellent and I took no prisoners. Tonight wasn’t like that, and by the end of the night I felt like the prisoner.

Bachelorette parties have long been the bane of standup comedy, but for whatever reason they never stop coming. I have no idea why it appeals to them, but apparently it does and it’s rarely a good idea for anyone involved – especially comedians. Every one of us eventually battles this.

Tonight was a lost cause from the start, and I could tell when I walked in it was trouble. There were three separate parties in the room – all of them sitting directly in front. Red flag and a half. To make it harder, Jerry Donovan was not the host like he was the past two nights, and I knew I would have my work cut out. No rookie emcee can hope to fend off three bachelorette parties.

No offense to anyone, but ONE party gone astray can ruin a whole show much less three. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, and there’s not a whole lot anyone can do about it. Most venues don’t warn the parties to be quiet during the show, and those that do have it fall on deaf ears. They are usually drunk before they get there, and think it’s ok to be the center of attention the whole night.

Dealing with it from the stage can be maddening, and tonight it absolutely was. There was one particularly gassed up bimbo that would NOT shut her pie hole from the time the show started to the second I got off stage. I never knew I had so much admiration for Ike Turner until tonight.

She would ‘WOOOOO’ like Ric Flair after every joke, and it got to be completely annoying in a very short time. The opening acts were all very nice kids, but they had no idea how to deal with it other than to plow through their jokes. It threw all of them, and I see why. It’s very distracting.

What stinks the most is that the venues are making money off of them so they rarely if ever say or do anything to shut them up. They expect us to deal with it, and sometimes it’s just impossible no matter what we try. I was ready to take the mic stand and crack her skull in half like an egg.

I have absolutely ZERO patience and tolerance left for any of this insanity anymore. If this is what standup comedy is, I don’t want to be in this business anymore. ENOUGH already. I have battled enough drunks for a dozen lifetimes, and it’s like cancer – the one battling always loses.

They might hold out for a while, but the bigger force always wins. Battling cancer and drunks won’t stop either from happening again and again, and I for one am over it. If I didn’t have such respect for Jerry Donovan, I would have just placed the mic in the stand and walked off stage to my car and peacefully driven home. I just don’t have a need to fight through this useless idiocy.

I painfully plowed through my set, and by the end of the night I was about ready to take a hot bath and slit my wrists like Pantangeli in The Godfather Part 2. Phil Anglin came out to see me and that made it worse. He’s one of my most loyal fans, and he drove two hours to see the show. He brought his friend Joe, and they both thought I was great. I thanked them, but I felt SO low.

I guess they weren’t the only ones that liked the show. I had people lined up to tell me they’d really had fun, and Jerry’s wife reported to Jerry that it was a killer night. I sure didn’t see that from my perspective, but I’ll let them think what they think. Still, I loathe bachelorette parties.

Bachelorette parties are almost always hell for comedians. They never look like this...

Bachelorette parties are almost always hell for comedians. They never look like this…

....but frequently behave like this.

….but frequently behave like this.

Comedian Tim Slagle has a classic comedy bit about bachelorette parties.

Comedian Tim Slagle has a classic comedy bit about bachelorette parties.


Building Business Relationships

November 18, 2013

Saturday November 16th, 2013 – LaSalle/Peru, IL

I wrapped up my little homemade three night mini tour tonight in Peru, IL at a place one would not necessarily think would be fun but it totally is. It’s a bowling center called “The Super Bowl” and they’ve been doing regular comedy shows for more than twenty years. I like working there for many reasons, and they like having me. Again, if it were like this every week I’d be golden.

I enjoy working for people I like and respect, and this week was a dream week in that regard. It started out with hosting the new Tuesday night showcase at Zanies in Rosemont, IL. Working for Zanies is always a good time, and that relationship continues to flourish twenty plus years into it.

I then worked two nights in Michigan for Phil Anglin, and he’s another guy I’d go to the limits and beyond for. He only has two little rooms, but he treats comedians so well I’d work for him as many times as he’ll have me. He’s just a classy person and works hard to make an honest living.

He has a heart, and it shows. So does Zanies. They treat me extremely well, and in turn I’ll stay loyal to them to the end – which hopefully is still a ways away. Developing lasting relationships is a key to long term success, and I value every one I’ve built over the years. It has taken effort.

Another that continues to grow nicely is The Super Bowl. It’s owned by brothers Jim and Bob Stubler, and again they’re honest hard working people that extend the effort to treat comics well. I deal with Jim, and he’s as sharp as I’ve ever seen as far as being a businessman goes. Bowling is his main business, but he’s done well with comedy because he has a plan and has executed it.

He knows what his market will bear, and he is really easy to work for. He buys ads on the radio and hires a local DJ to host the shows. Little things like that go a long way, and that’s why he has lasted as long as he has. Other bars in the area have tried comedy shows but they always fade out sooner than later. One approached me recently in fact, but I turned them down. I’m loyal to Jim.

I’m loyal to Phil in his part of Michigan and Zanies in the Chicago area too. We’ve all worked together for years, and built up a mutual synergy. I wouldn’t go across the street – even if it were for more money – if it would jeopardize that relationship. I’ll stay with those I worked for first.

That’s good business in my opinion, even though I’ve seen it blow up in both directions in the past. Sometimes the good people don’t win in the end. I’ve been asked to ‘stay loyal’ and gotten screwed royally, and also stayed with people that ended up getting blown out of the water. That’s a risk every self employed entertainer takes, but I’d rather take that risk with quality individuals.

This far into the game, I’m not going to screw anyone over intentionally. That’s just not how I want to operate. I know not everyone cares as much about stuff like that as I do, but I can’t sleep at night being the selfish snakes some people are because they’re only in it for their own gain.

I’m in it for my own gain too, but if I have to pee in someone else’s pool it’s over. If it can’t be win/win, I don’t want it. Maybe it means I won’t ever hit the big time, but I’ll live with it if I can feel good about myself when nobody is around. This week was hard work, but also rewarding to know everyone I worked for was glad to see me. I wasn’t just a hired gun, and that means a lot.

I can honestly say I'm a favorite at The Super Bowl - a bowling center in Peru, IL. I'm always happy to work for Jim and Bob Stubler. They have great comedy shows. If you're near by, go see one.

I can honestly say I’m a favorite at The Super Bowl – a bowling center in Peru, IL. I’m always happy to work for Jim and Bob Stubler. They have great comedy shows. If you’re near by, go see one.

Comedy Combat

November 16, 2013

Friday November 15th, 2013 – Plainwell, MI

It was another rough night at the office, but again nobody else needed to know. Tonight’s show was at Rhino’s Pub in Plainwell, MI, once again for my friend Phil Anglin. Phil is one of my top favorite people of all time to work for, just because he’s such a big fan of comedy. It’s a pleasure to work for people like that, but unfortunately there are far too few. It’s not like this every week.

If Phil booked the Funny Bone or Improv chains, I’d be sitting pretty. He thinks I am hilarious, and that’s all any comedian needs. If the person that books the shows is on board, life is a breeze. I do have a lot of bookers who love me, but unfortunately they aren’t the ones with the big gigs.

I’m royalty in places like Springfield, IL and Plainwell, MI but can’t find a way to get booked at an Improv to save my life. Radio is painfully similar. I’m at the top of the go to list for ‘Stone and Double T’ in Rockford, IL but ‘Bob and Tom’ who are on in 200 plus markets hate my guts.

This is how it is, and there’s not a damn thing I can do but keep slugging. I am who I am and it tends to polarize people. I’m loved and loathed, but that’s a requirement for any good entertainer. The trick is to get the people to love you be the ones that have the real power. That’s not so easy.

I still love working for Phil though, and he sure does know how to run a bar and grill correctly. It’s always been a fun experience to work for him through the years. I never want to see anybody take it in the shorts financially, but especially Phil. I want us all to make money so I’ll be back.

It was a lot more crowded tonight than last night in Richland, but the sound system was terrible and that was a killer. We were screwed before we started, and there was nothing any of us could do but work through it. It was too late for fixing, and there was a room full of paying customers.

Bad sound is my worst nightmare. I’m not very cute, so bad lighting I can live with. It’s livable if they can’t see me, but if they can’t hear me I’m toast. My style is very verbal, and I use a lot of lists and rely on rhythm to beat an audience into submission. I need to talk over them to succeed.

That wasn’t happening tonight, and it changed my entire rhythm. I have enough experience to know what to do, but it was a major adjustment and I had to be in the moment the whole time up there. As I was doing one piece of material, I was thinking about which one would fit next to get their attention. I needed to get them laughing hard up front so they’d be quiet and let me finish.

Of course when alcohol is involved, that changes the equation dramatically. There were two or three tables that were constantly chattering, and I had to stop the show several times to ask them to please be quiet so I could finish the show. They wouldn’t do it, and I had all I could to do stop myself from walking over there and kicking them in their drunken asses. They ruined the show.

Once again, I strapped on the false face and got through it but it was not fun in the least. I have had to fight this kind of thing for a lifetime, and I’m just done with it. Phil apologized profusely, but it’s not his fault. Drunken idiots are everywhere. He’ll have to improve the sound system if he wants to do more shows, and I’m sure he will. It was never like that before, but tonight it was for whatever reason and I had to fight like hell to do my job. If comedy is combat, I’m a Navy Seal.

Standup comedy without an adequate sound system is like full on combat. It's intense.

Standup comedy without an adequate sound system is like full on combat. It’s intense.

The False Face

November 16, 2013

Thursday November 14th, 2013 – Richland, MI

One of the truly difficult aspects of being funny for a living – and there are almost too many to count – is having to do it when the mood just isn’t there. It’s great fun to the point of intoxication to be on stage when one is in a groove and ‘feeling it’, but that isn’t the case every single night.

I’m sure it’s that way for other professions too, but it’s more difficult for comedians. We create the environment of laughter completely by ourselves, and bring the audience along for the ride. It begins and ends with us, and therein lies the magic of standup comedy when it’s done correctly.

I have no doubt there are days when strippers aren’t feeling the least bit sexy, but they will pull it off – literally – anyway. They have a distinct advantage over a comedian in that they’re able to go through the motions – literally – and please their audience. What they do is much more visual.

A comedian has to bring it from within, and that’s a lot harder in my opinion. I’m sure it can be unpleasant for a stripper to have to show her wares to a room full of drunken sailors, but she grits her teeth and plows through anyway. Drugs and alcohol might help, but comedians can’t do that.

We need to be at the top of our mental game, or at least I do. I can’t think of any comedian that goes on stage drunk or high on a consistent basis and maintains any sort of consistency. I know a lot that get blasted beyond belief after their shows, but while they’re on stage they’re cold sober.

Tonight was one of those nights where I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve had a lot of those over a lot of years, but one learns as a professional to suck it up and get through it. That can be as difficult as anything I’ve ever done, but too bad. If I want to get paid, I will keep my problems to myself.

This has been the ultimate challenge at times, especially for someone like me that tends to use how I’m feeling to shape my show on a given night. I had a booker once tell me early on that he could tell exactly how my day went by watching my set. Some shows were upbeat, others dark.

One stretch that really stands out even now was when I was going through the horror of having to testify against my former best friend for robbing a bank. It took years for the whole scenario to play out, but I had to block it out of my mind for that time I was on stage every night. It was hell.

But torture as it was, it helped to make me a professional. Audiences don’t care about problems that aren’t theirs, and in fact they’re at a comedy show to forget about theirs for a little while. My job is to entertain them, and nothing else. They don’t care that I’m more miserable than they are.

Tonight I was in Richland, MI working for my friend Phil Anglin. He’s a major fan of comedy, and runs shows at his two bars a few times a year. He treats all the comedians like big stars, and I love working for the guy. His staffs couldn’t be any nicer, and they feed us a delicious meal too.

On paper, it’s one of the sweetest gigs I’ve ever had. In reality, it was deer hunting season so it was half full tonight in a place that’s not that big to begin with. I had to fight a drunken lady that babbled the entire night, but I plowed through and gave my best. Everyone was raving afterward, but I was someplace else mentally. I strapped on the false face one more time, and nobody knew.

Some nights a comedian just isn't in the mood to be funny.

Some nights a comedian just isn’t in the mood to be funny. Too bad. We do it anyway.