Posts Tagged ‘Potawatomi Casino’

Weather Worries

December 21, 2013

Friday December 20th, 2013 – Island Lake, IL

Hear that sound? That’s my bung hole slamming shut. There’s supposed to be nasty weather on the way, and it’s really scaring me. I know it goes with the territory this time of year living in the place I do, but I happen to have a lot of places I have to be in the next few days and I’m worried.

There are buckets of money in those places, and if I don’t get there live and in the flesh to pick them up I don’t get paid. They’re not huge buckets and they’re not filled with money, but there is enough at stake to make me risk driving through a blizzard to get it. I do hope that’s not the case.

Tomorrow I have to be in LaGrange, IL at 1:30pm to do an afternoon Christmas party show for Marc Schultz. I performed for this group before several years ago, and they were very nice. They hire a comedian every year, and they wanted me back. That’s very flattering, but LaGrange is far from where I’m living and if there’s ugly weather it could be a nightmare getting there on time.

After that I have to be in Milwaukee for two more performances of “Schlitz Happened!” at the Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. On paper in ideal conditions there shouldn’t be a problem and I will make it with plenty of time to spare. Life isn’t lived on paper. I’m concerned.

On Sunday I have a booking at The Island Casino in Harris, MI which is near Escanaba. That’s in the Upper Peninsula, and that’s never an easy trip even in the summer. It’s a two lane highway north of Green Bay, and last time I did it it was winter and it was white knuckles the whole way.

The people at Island Casino are very nice to the comedians, and I enjoy working there. I enjoy working at Potawatomi too. They treat us about as well as anywhere I work, and the last thing I’d ever want to do would be to give them less than my very best show. I want to get there on time so I can relax and do what I was hired to do. Right now, I have no idea how the weather will play out.

Allegedly, the nasty weather is supposed to hit Wisconsin in the early evening and last through the night into Sunday morning. The Chicago area’s weather reports say if anything it will be later on Saturday as well. I’m going to be leaving the Chicago area in the afternoon, so I hope I’m ok.

But nothing says the snow can’t show up earlier, later, or even not at all. Usually they can get it halfway accurate that we’re going to have some kind of snowfall, and that’s what’s making me a nervous wreck. I need all of this money very badly, and I don’t want to miss any of these shows.

The biggest risk looks like on the way to Harris, but then I have to get back and start my drive to Tucson, AZ where I’ve got shows on Friday, Saturday and then New Year’s Eve. I have a few days of a cushion to get there, but not a lot. Who knows what kind of horrors await on the roads?

I wasn’t able to get a cheap enough flight to make it worth my while, and ones I did find were in and out of Phoenix so I’d have to rent a car anyway. I decided to rent a car and make the drive across country so I could spend Christmas by myself and not have to bother anyone. Again, that sounded great on paper but there’s not a lot of paper between Chicago and Tucson. There’s road, and about 1800 miles of it each way. I’m hoping I’ll be able to make it by Friday, but there’s not any guarantee. I’ll do my best, but Mother Nature has the final say. I’ll earn every penny I make.

Hopefully this won't be me in the next three days as I have to get to some shows with nasty weather in the forecast.

Hopefully this won’t be me in the next three days as I have to get to some shows with nasty weather in the forecast.

I'm fine with a White Christmas, but this is a little too white for my tastes.

I’m all for a White Christmas, but this is a little too white for my tastes.

Parallel parking is hard enough. Perpendicular parking is out of the question.

Parallel parking is hard enough. Perpendicular parking is out of the question.

These are the only blizzards I want to see for the rest of 2013.

These are the only blizzards I want to see for the rest of 2013.

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Strangers Wanted

December 16, 2013

Saturday December 14th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

I can’t keep up with how fast the weeks are flying by. This was my third Saturday of four total in this current run of performing “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst” at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. The calendar is on warp speed.

There is quite simply no better facility I have ever worked, and I never get tired of performing on that stage. It’s the ideal size, and everything about the experience is as fun as it gets. The staff is friendly, and they’ve grown up in or near Milwaukee so they get exactly what I’m trying to do.

I feel so at home because it IS my home. There’s no other place on the planet where I can have that much history to fall back on at any given time during a performance. I was born and grew up within a few miles, so I’m in my element. It’s exactly what I pictured, and it’s working perfectly.

If I’m a draw anywhere, it’s here. People I went to grade school and high school and worked at any number of dead end hellish jobs with not only regularly come out to see me but bring friends along. It’s a venue that has been built specifically for entertainment, and where I want to be seen.

Tonight my cousin Wendy came out and brought about a dozen people to the early show. Most if not all of those people have seen me before, and that always makes me work harder as I like to do at least a little something different that they haven’t seen. I want to make it worth their while.

Music is completely different in that people are disappointed if they don’t hear the hits they’ve bought tickets to hear. That’s why they buy tickets in the first place. Comedy is on the other side of the coin. If people hear something they’ve heard before, they tend to feel like they’re cheated.

I do notice that there are a core of fans for any comedy performer that love to hear the hits over and over, but that’s not the majority. Brian Regan has rabid fans that will call out specific chunks of material they want to hear – kind of like asking a band to play hit songs – and then he does it.

I’m starting to get that too, at least a little. I have a chunk of material I’ve done for years about a waitress named “Doris the Porkasaurus” that seems to resonate with fans who enjoy what I do. I frequently have people ask me to do it, and there’s a fan named Harriett Leo that comes to see me every time I’m at Zanies Comedy Club in St. Charles, IL and brings a group along with her.

She’s heard that bit dozens of times, but it’s her favorite and she always makes it a point to ask if I’m going to do it. I always do whenever she’s there, because that’s why she shows up. I want to give whatever fans I do have whatever they want, and she always comes back so it’s working.

I feel the “Schlitz Happened!” fan base building, and it’s exciting. My cousin Wendy showing up is great, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support. Unfortunately, strangers are the ones I need to win over but that’s working too. I’m seeing those who have started to become regulars.

I know in my heart there are at least a million people that would enjoy the Milwaukee flavor of this show, and I want every last one of them to come see it. There are two more chances with this run, and I hope many strangers show up. My aim is to turn them into friends. http://www.paysbig.com.

Six 'Schlitz Happened!' shows down, two more to go in this run. The final performances are Saturday December 21st, 2013 at 7 and 9pm. www.paysbig.com.

Six ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows down, two more to go in this run. The final performances are Saturday December 21st, 2013 at 7 and 9pm. http://www.paysbig.com.

Positive Progress

December 9, 2013

Saturday December 7th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

It was back up to Milwaukee tonight for two more performances of “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst” at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. There were light crowds all through the casino because of nasty weather, but those who came out were great.

The early show at 7 o’clock was probably the most enthusiastic audience I’ve had so far. They were really into it, and not only laughed when they were supposed to they threw out memories of their own as the show progressed. That’s exactly what I want, and I can tell I’m on to something.

The 9 o’clock show wasn’t horrible, but they weren’t nearly as vocal and it was a much smaller turnout. That’s a challenge when it’s a one person show and I have to pull off an hour and twenty minutes by myself, but I did it without hitch or glitch. I can feel myself hitting a stride with this.

There is a very different energy required to pull off a show like this compared to what I’m used to as a traditional comedian, and I’m feeling more comfortable each time I do it. As a comedian I am used to closing shows with 45 minutes, but I talk faster than most and cram about 90 minutes or more into that time. I am high energy and ‘throw heat’, and it’s almost always very effective.

A one man show is different in that I have to ramp the audience up and be my own opening act. I can’t come out and be a raving lunatic from the start. There has to be a progression, not only of energy but of content. This show has a theme, and it’s important to deliver it in the correct order.

I’m still in the beginning stages of construction, but I can feel progress and that’s the best I can hope for. At first it was intimidating to have to be on stage that long, but now I’m starting to feel very comfortable and it’s not a problem at all. In fact, I went five minutes over on the first show.

That’s a tremendous problem to have, and I also had material left over. I’ve been closing with a chunk of material that runs maybe 7-10 minutes depending on audience reaction. I intended to do it both shows tonight, but the first crowd was so into it I was able to fill the time with ad libbing.

I needed it the second show, and it went over very well. The issue is no longer being able to do the time. Now it’s a matter of making it entertaining all the way through. That’s the same issue a comedian has, so this is nothing new. It’s a process, and I’ve been going through it for decades.

The good thing is that the audience has no idea this process even exists much less is happening before their eyes. I know I’ve got a long way to go to get this show to where I want it, but they’re oblivious and that’s a plus. They’re enjoying it as is, and I’m giving them all I’ve got right now.

If anything, they’ll come back years from now and say “I enjoyed your show before, but you’re better now.” And they’ll be right. It will be much better, but it takes a plan and hard work now to allow that to happen. I’m putting in my time to construct this just like I did with my comedy act.

I still have four more performances for this run, and I’m going to work even harder for the next two weeks so the positive progress continues. If you’re near Milwaukee, you’re invited to attend. http://www.schlitzhappened.com is the show’s site and Potawatomi Casino’s site is http://www.paysbig.com.

"Schlitz Happened!" is happening December 14th and 21st at  7 and 9pm in Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. You're invited! www.paysbig.com

“Schlitz Happened!” is happening December 14th and 21st at 7 and 9pm in Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. You’re invited! http://www.paysbig.com

Rust Removal

December 1, 2013

Saturday November 30th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

I’m back in my home town of Milwaukee for another four week run of “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. I love to perform on that stage, but it’s an adjustment to get myself back in the mode of doing this show.

The biggest obstacle to overcome up front is length of performance. The casino is expecting 80 minutes which is fine, but that’s significantly longer than the 45-50 minutes most standup shows typically are. That’s a lot of time to fill, and it requires a few times through to establish a groove.

I had a four week run in April, and that was my main focus then too. I felt myself get smoother with each performance, and I felt it again tonight. It’s a long way from being anywhere close to a finished product, but I have to go through the process and lay a foundation that can be built upon.

One thing I’ve been doing to prepare for this run is dropping in bits and stories from this show in my standup act over the last few months. They’re personal stories about my life with comedy added, and they fit perfectly with what I was doing. The audiences didn’t know I was practicing, but that’s exactly what I was doing. It paid off tonight as I was able to add those bits seamlessly.

I had people show up tonight that saw me in April, and they said “I saw you threw in some new material since last time. I liked it.” Mission accomplished. I also threw in some old material I had not done in several years, and that worked too. I put a lot of work into tonight, and will continue.

This is an ideal situation to shape this show, and I am not taking it lightly. I would never phone it in and cheat either the audience or the casino, but there has to be a place to experiment with the content and order so I can figure out what works best. This will be a constant process for a while.

It felt really good to pull off the 80 minutes on stage both shows tonight, but that’s just the start of the process. The next six performances over three weeks will involve constant tweaking of the order, and deciding what to add and leave out. This is a workshop, and I’ll do my due diligence.

On top of all that, I need to get myself out there and promote it. There are several media outlets in town to approach, and I’ll contact Kim Mitschke on Monday to get that process in motion. She is the media liaison for the casino, and really easy to work with. I’m sure she’ll have some ideas.

I’m glad we didn’t hit it hard promotionally for this first week back. I hadn’t done the show for eight months, and I wanted a chance to get my legs back. There’s always rust to remove, and that was to be expected. Still, we had a respectable turnout and it didn’t stink. That’s all I can ask for.

The next six shows are going to show significant improvement, and I will do all I can to get out there and put butts in seats. It really is a gorgeous facility, and nobody can complain about ticket prices as admission is free when someone signs up for a Fire Keeper’s card. http://www.paysbig.com.

This is exactly the right fit on so many levels. It’s getting me out of the bar gig scene, and into a theater situation which is always better. I know the audience for this show may be limited, but those that get it really love it. I’m going to enjoy the next six shows. http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

This is a caricature of me done by former Milwaukee Journal political cartoonist Bill Sanders. He gave it to me as a gift, and I'm extremely grateful. It's my logo for my show 'Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst'. It's playing the next three Saturdays in Milwaukee at the Northern Lights Theate. www.paysbig.com

This is a caricature of me done by former Milwaukee Journal political cartoonist Bill Sanders. He gave it to me as a gift, and I’m extremely grateful. It’s the logo for my show ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst’. It’s playing the next three Saturdays in Milwaukee at the Northern Lights Theate. 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

Double Dipping

September 12, 2013

Wednesday September 11th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Rosemont, IL

Most of my days end up being hectic in one way or another, but today was the way I like it. If I had my way, it would be like this all the time. I had two comedy shows, and got to hang out with some good friends. This is exactly how I always thought life should be, but so often it falls short.

The first show was in Milwaukee this afternoon for the Milwaukee Retired Police Association. Someone from their group saw me do my “Schlitz Happened!” show at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in April and recommended me to the committee. I’m delighted they did.

This is exactly the kind of group this show should be for. These people were city of Milwaukee police officers with a minimum age of over 42, and they got everything I was talking about. I had a bit of a slow start, because I don’t think they had ever had a comedian at their meeting before.

The situation of lights and sound is always an issue, and this was held in a Legion Post with no stage lighting per se. I was on the floor in front of them, and it was an adjustment to get settled in but once I did it went very well. The person in charge Wray Young couldn’t have been nicer, and said he’d like to have me back. I’d love to go back, and I will be much more prepared next time

This audience was a little older, and that’s fine but I should have read them better. I tried to get laughs first, when in fact I should have told more stories. I figured that out part way through, and it made all the difference in the world. They are all from Milwaukee, and the more details I threw in the more they loved it. I don’t often have that luxury in an audience, and I totally exploited it.

There have to be a hundred groups like this of people who grew up in Milwaukee. They’re not necessarily standup comedy fans, but I know I can entertain them and make them laugh with this concept. I am really looking forward to going back to Potawatomi, and today it reignited my fire.

My friend and former student Russ Martin came out and did some time, as he was a former cop himself. He was a County Sherriff at one time, so I thought it would be appropriate for him to do a few minutes. We hung out afterward and had a meal. Russ is a really good guy, and despite the fact he’s older than me he really loves comedy and has the enthusiasm of a kid. It’s refreshing.

After that I drove to Rosemont, IL to headline a show at Zanies Comedy Club. That’s always a treat for many reasons. Not only is it a state of the art facility, the staff is top notch. The manager is Cyndi Nelson, and she’s one of if not the best in the business. Everyone loves her, and she’s an absolute peach to work for. She treats us all like stars, and dented cans always enjoy an ego rub.

Dan Carlson is there too, and that’s another rare treat. Dan is a very funny comedian, but chose to get into club management because he has a family and wants to stay in town. I totally relate to that situation, but it’s great to have him there because he sees things from the comic’s viewpoint.

The show tonight was a two boot ass kicker. There was a large group of construction people up front, and they were there to have fun. They were diverse, and that made it better. Several times I had to stop and let the laughs die down, and that’s about the best problem a comedian can have. I wish every day of life could be like this, but it’s not. Today was, and I loved every minute of it.

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.

Showbiz Babies

April 22, 2013

Sunday April 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Kenosha, WI

    Today was a day to kick back, but only a little. I’m finding myself thoroughly enjoying all that I have piled on my plate – even though the pile is dangerously high. Everything could crash down with a thundering thud at any second, but for now I’m having fun. It’s exactly what I want to do.

   2013 is flying by faster than I can comprehend, but I’m definitely still on my way to having the best year I’ve ever had. I’ve already accomplished a lot, but I see a lot more just around the bend. Decades of preparation have gotten me to this point and I just can’t see wasting even one minute.

   It’s really been a satisfying experience performing the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows. It is exactly what I dreamed about when I first started doing comedy, and even though it took a lot longer for it to become a reality than I ever imagined it is now and it feels better than good to see it happen.

    Sure, there are a lot of tweaks needed but the basic product is there and it’s now out there and ready to grow. That baby has been born, and it has ten fingers and ten toes. There might be some growing pains and glitches, but all babies have those. For the most part it’s a happy healthy infant.

    All of my projects are like babies to me, and they’re all screaming for my attention. I still have troublesome time management issues, and that’s a sad fact. I’d love to dote over every one of my babies one on one, but I just can’t afford it. The more time I spend on one, the others are jealous.

   ‘Schlitz Happened!’ is getting a lot of attention now, but after next week’s final performances I will put it down for a nap for a little while – probably until fall. Potawatomi Casino and I will get together on a plan for future shows, and I feel very confident we’ll be able to work out all details.

   Another baby that’s just waking up from a nap is standup comedy classes. I’ve got some going both at Zanies in Chicago and Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL and I’m finding myself doing them several nights a week of late. I love teaching them, but I’m going to have to organize more.

   Tonight’s baby was ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. That’s another project I really enjoy, but I’ve really neglected it of late. We had our best year by far in 2012, but now we’re just kind of drifting along. It doesn’t stink, but we’re not growing and that’s not good. We’ve got a very solid vibe between the crew, and we know it.

   We had a few technical glitches tonight, but that happens once in a while. It could have shaken us, but we didn’t let it and we ended up having an excellent show. We also had some last minute guest cancellations to deal with, and we handled that as well. This baby is ready to start walking.

   They all are. Standup comedy is my adult child since it’s been in my life the longest, but I love that like a baby too. Unfortunately, I can’t devote all of my attention to any of them right now so I’m trying my best to at least give each one a hug whenever I can. Being a daddy is no easy task.

   Then there’s The King of Uranus. That whole project has completely come to a halt, and that’s not at all to my satisfaction. I know it’s a goofy idea, but it too has enormous potential. I get that reminder every single day when someone behind me in traffic snaps a picture of my license plate and bumper sticker with a big grin on their face. That idea could be the biggest of them all, but if I don’t do my due diligence as a father that baby will die. They all could, and that’s why my time needs to be spent wisely. I’d hate to see any of these ideas die. It’s up to me to give them breath.

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 Pleasing Teaser

April 4, 2013

 Tuesday April 2nd, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   My main focus for today was getting to Milwaukee to do a teaser show for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ in the sports bar at Potawatomi Casino. They sent out a press release and invited media, but there were also casino staff and VIP members from their newsletter that got in too. It was a lot of fun.

They even came up with a spectacular spread of “Milwaukee food” which included bratwurst, sauerkraut, beer and cheese soup with gigantic cream puffs for dessert. It was first class from the ground up, and I was thrilled to see it come to life. This is exactly how I pictured it would work.

Everyone at Potawatomi has been a peach to work with. Kim Mitschke is razor sharp with her attention to detail, and she’s also great at keeping me in the loop of what’s happening. She was a wonderful hostess, and brought me on stage for my performance with a top notch introduction.

The timing wasn’t great as far as getting all of the media to come, but that’s not a problem. I’d much rather have word spread organically, and then get media coverage later. I know in my heart I have a marketable product, and this was a test run. It was great fun to do, and it passed the test.

The reason I know it passed the test is that people stayed after the event to ask questions about the actual shows, as they plan on bringing friends with them. That’s exactly what I want to hear! I want word to get out, and build a recognizable brand. I finally have my chance to be a draw.

One lady made a point to track me down and tell me how much she related to my mention of a Milwaukee television icon from the ‘60s and ‘70s named “Albert the Alley Cat”.  It was a puppet that was a nightly sidekick for a local weatherman named Ward Allen. The puppet would mangle certain words and it was very funny. ‘Humidity’ became ‘humidery’, and it was of local legend.

The lady who came up to me said she moved to Milwaukee from Spain at age 16. She thought it was crazy to have a puppet giving the weather, and she took a picture of her TV screen to send back to Spain to show her family how crazy they were in Milwaukee. Her face lit up like a kid’s as she told the story, and I knew right there this will be a big hit. I touched her on a special level.

There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people that have memories like that of local lore in Milwaukee, and I want to entertain each one of them. This show could run for years before I’d run out of fresh customers, and I’d be delighted if it does. I’ve hit a nerve here, and I’m beyond excited.

There’s no way I’ll ever be able to get to all of the localized talking points I have come up with in any one show, and that’s the beauty of this whole idea. I want people to keep coming back and bringing friends with them. The show will grow and evolve, and it will constantly refresh itself.

For once in my life, I really feel I’m in the right place at the right time. Everything fits together perfectly, and I know if I get people to come out they’ll LOVE this whole concept. I’ve been off the radar for so many years with so many projects, I know a hit when I see one. It feels different.

At the very least, I got to be part of a press conference in my honor. How many people can say they got a chance to do that? Jason Evans came from www.mkefunny.com with Brendan O’Day to film an interview and Matt Kemple from The Milwaukee Comedy Festival showed up as well. www.milwaukeecomedy.net  Those guys are supporting the local comedy scene, and I appreciate them both for covering this and making me feel important. My gut tells me this one is a winner.