Posts Tagged ‘rap’

A Night Of Stories

September 2, 2013

Friday August 30th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL 

   If for only one time in my life I’d love to know what it’s like to be in the right place at the right time. I certainly know all too well from a pantsload of personal experience what it feels like to be off the radar and nowhere close to the center of what’s happening – and of that I have had my fill.   

   Happening my way into standup comedy in the ‘80s just as the boom years were about to begin has been about the closest I have come to date to hitting a home run, but even that wasn’t a grand slam. Had I possessed the rock solid headliner act I have now, I’d have been a multi millionaire.

   Instead, I clawed my way up the ranks and earned my stripes over decades of paying dues. I’m fine with paying my dues – everyone has to – but it would be nice to get paid back in money. As of now, I’ll be very much upside down on the dues to payoff scale if it ends tomorrow, and I feel like I got cheated. I’d hate to think I came all this way only to get skunked in the end. How cruel. 

   The entertainment fad of the week seems to be storytelling. There are groups popping up with names like ‘The Moth’ and ‘Ex Fabula’, and I’m hearing they’re selling shows out in New York and it’s heading west. There are groups in Chicago and Milwaukee, and I hear it’s catching on.

   I don’t know why it’s catching on, but apparently it is. My long time friend Dave Hendrickson in Milwaukee has been part of the scene there for a while, and even ran his own events at a place called The Safe House. He asked me to participate, and I said yes. If there’s one thing I’m loaded with in life it’s stories. I don’t have to make anything up, and could fill up a whole show myself.

   Another friend Bill Gorgo in Chicago has done some storytelling events there, and has enjoyed the experience. Dave suggested we try a night of storytelling somewhere, so I suggested we do it at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. They have a nice performance space there, and it’s small enough where the risk wouldn’t be huge if nobody showed up. I’m always up for rolling the dice.

   I didn’t want it be a sausage fest, so I asked a former student named Cathy Rubino to be part of the mix so we’d have at least a little diversity on the bill. Cathy is loaded with creative talent and was excited when I asked her to join us. If nothing else, it would be a refreshing change of pace.

   Tonight was our first show, and it came off very well. We didn’t sell out, but we did manage to rustle up enough to have a show. On a holiday weekend, I’ll consider that a victory. It’s difficult to get butts in seats for any reason, and this was no different. We did our best to get the word out.

   Dave has a couple of nice video cameras, so we were able to do a two camera shoot. Hopefully that can be cut up into a demo of some sort and we can get some paid bookings if indeed this is a viable product. I’m personally not that impressed with it as a genre, but what the hell do I know?

   I wasn’t impressed with rap either but that sells to the masses big time. I still think it stinks, but someone is getting paid a lot more than me. If storytelling is what’s selling, I am locked, stocked and ready to rock. Standup comedy is WAY harder, but if this is the flavor of the month I’m set.

Looking Down The Road

March 12, 2010

Thursday March 11th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

People have been teasing me all day about having gout, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a pleasant alternative to having to get knee surgery I couldn’t pay for right now so a couple of jokes at my expense are no big deal. Bring it on. I’ll start worrying when I get leprosy.

The fact remains, I’m getting older and I feel it. Mentally, I’ve always been significantly older than my actual age. Even as a kid, most of my friends were older than me and that’s still the case. People I hang around the most like Jim McHugh, Marc Schultz, Bill Gorgo, Bert Haas, Jerry Agar and all the Kidders are all at least a couple of years older than me.

Allegedly, Pisces is the astrological sign that signifies the old souls. I’ve been told many times I’m one, but who knows if any of that’s true? I am who I am, but even as a kid I felt out of place in this life. I still do, no matter how hard I’ve tried to find a place for myself.

I’m starting to head into the final stages, and there’s no guarantee how long that will be. It could be thirty years, thirty days or thirty minutes so I thought about what I should start to do with the rest of my life to achieve the smartest and most productive results possible.

What really hit home today was that I need to start cranking out products and keep it up until I’m out of ideas or out of breath, whichever comes first. I’ve got a full 25 years in as a touring comedian along with an off and on 20 in the radio business. I also have 15 years in as a comedy teacher, so that’s a lot of different life experience on which to draw from.

I paid my dues and learned my crafts, but now it’s time to take that and put it into things I can pass on to others. I want to do things that benefit people long after I’m gone, even if I can’t be there to see it. I don’t know why it’s important to me, but for some reason it is.

No matter how hard I try to figure out the meaning of life, the less of a solid answer I’m getting. At least I’m getting some kind of an idea of where I want to go, but I look around at life in general and I see the majority of people stumbling through it with no inner drive or direction other than to get drunk, laid and party. There doesn’t seem to be much else.

This world is full of idiots, and I don’t know a nicer way of saying it. If there is a God, I wonder if that was intentional? There are a comparative few who try to make the most of whatever talents they’ve been given, but the majority of humans aren’t worth the trouble.

Alexander Hamilton said “The masses are asses” and that was in 1790. I haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement since then. Yes, there are a lot of wonderful people around but they’re way outnumbered by the herd of halfwits that keep NASCAR and rap in business.

I don’t want to be so cynical, but the picture gets clearer every day. My grandfather was a sharp cookie and much the same way and it feels like I’m becoming him a little bit more every day. He was hilarious, kind and smart, but also had a dark side. He died unfulfilled, and I don’t want that to be me. I want to squeeze out every last bit of potential I have left.