Posts Tagged ‘respect’

Outlasting The Weenies

February 3, 2013

Saturday February 2nd, 2013 – Saugatuck, MI

   There’s a new generation of comedy show bookers coming up the ranks, and I’m delighted I’m on their radar. When anyone starts at anything, they pretty much have to take their lumps and eat dust, crow or whatever other unpleasant dish is on the menu and they either accept it or move on.

It’s kind of like when a parent refuses to accept that a child has grown up and still reverts back to calling them a childhood nickname. Those days are over, but not in the parent’s mind. It’s the same with the comedy process. Bookers know they can abuse all the newbies because there will be an endless supply lining up to get whatever anyone may turn down. Respect rarely is given.

Well, I’ve had my issues with many of them over the years but have clawed and scratched my way to my position now. Whatever anyone may think of me personally, I am a rock solid comic and can handle just about any situation anyone can put in front of me. I’ve become a headliner.

I’ve also managed to establish a reputation of being a nice guy to deal with, even though there will always be those that think I’ve got three sixes tattooed on my head somewhere. I can’t help what those few think, and can only try to continue doing the best I can onstage and off. And I do.

It’s paying off because I’m getting calls asking me to work gigs I didn’t know existed. I’m glad to get work in general, but it’s especially nice to be respected by those who are asking. It’s funny how a reputation grows and then becomes part of one’s identity for life with those who make it.

I feel a sense of respect in comedy now that has never been there before, and even though I had to trade my youth to get it I’ll take it and enjoy every minute of it. Those I met as a piss ant little beginner didn’t have to be nice to me – and many weren’t. Taking it personally was my mistake.

It wasn’t me as much as the position I was in, but now that’s changing. I’m now someone who can make a booker look good in virtually any situation, and not be a pain in the ass prima donna off stage either. The new breed of people I’m dealing with is realizing that, and it feels fantastic.

Tonight I worked in Saugatuck, MI for a guy named Jerry Donovan. He’s booking some shows in the Western Michigan area around Grand Rapids, and this one was a pure delight. Jerry wasn’t able to be at this particular show as he had two others going, but that’s a super problem to have.

I honestly can’t remember how he even got my name, but he contacted me a few months ago to book a show and I got to pick my week which was tonight. There was a full house and they came to laugh. Jerry’s wife Sara was running the show and couldn’t have been easier to deal with. She paid me in cash before I went on, and made sure my intro was correct. This is how it should be.

I’d work for people like this any time, and they think the same of me. I can feel a synergy with these people, and that’s also how it should be. I am now the one in the driver’s seat with the hard earned experience, but I don’t want to let any of that go to my head. Being easy to deal with will keep the work coming in, and that’s what I want. Slowly but surely I’m outlasting the weenies.


The Silver Fox

February 1, 2013

Tuesday January 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I was saddened today to learn of the passing of a comedian I worked with many years ago from New Orleans named John Schnauder. We only worked together a couple of times, but he remains one of my all time favorite human beings I’ve ever crossed paths with. He was a wonderful soul.

We first worked together in Jacksonville, FL in the mid ‘80s at a club called The Punch Line. It was part of a chain that started from of the original Punch Line in Atlanta, and there were about a dozen clubs throughout the Southeast during the heyday. It was a great run of well paying work.

I was booked as the opening act with John being the feature. Shirley Hemphill from the sitcom “What’s Happening” was the headliner, and the first real celebrity I had ever worked with for an entire week. She was kept in a nice hotel, and John and I shared a week in the ‘comedy condo’.

There could and should be a book written about what goes on in comedy condos, but that’s not the focus right now. All it is is an apartment where comedians stay when they’re in town to work a comedy club. It’s an investment for the club rather than spending money to keep us in hotels.

Anyway, I got to spend that whole week getting to know John and I liked him more by the day. He was in his 50s then, MUCH older than the average comedian of that day – especially one that wasn’t a headliner. He had raised a family of seven children, and decided he wanted to live out a dream and be a comedian. He was very humble, and absolutely loved everything about comedy.

Most comedians – me included – get into comedy to fill an ugly void we never were able to fill at home with our families or lack thereof. John was completely different. He was no dented can, and that’s probably what I liked about him. He was warm and friendly, and it was contagious not only to me but to audiences too. He was extremely likeable, and loaded with charisma to boot.

He billed himself as ‘The Silver Fox’ of comedy, and his New Orleans accent was up front and a big part of who he was. I’ve often said how much I can’t stand that smelly hell hole personally, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like the people who come from there. They’re extremely friendly.

John Schnauder falls into this category, and we really hit it off that week. We were able to stay in touch for a few years, but this was before the internet when that was a lot more difficult to do. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I thought of him when his beloved New Orleans Saints made it to the Super Bowl. That alone caused me to cheer for them, and when they won I smiled for John.

John’s granddaughter Rhiannon Schnauder Perry informed me of his passing, and I posted my condolences to the family via the guest book. There was a large album of photographs from his life that really touched me, as most of them were him next to his kids or grandchildren and there were smiles on everyone’s faces. His love and radiance just shined through. He was a mensch of epic proportions, and just because he never hit the big time in show business doesn’t mean he is anything less than an outstanding success and winner in the game of life. He lived his dream, but also had a loving family. To me, that’s true success. Much respect to The Silver Fox. I miss him.