Posts Tagged ‘Richard Halasz’

Milwaukee Maintenance

June 5, 2010

Friday June 4th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t do my walking today. I have a reason for it, but it’s not an excuse. I am performing in Louisville next week at The Comedy Caravan and they asked me to record some radio spots promoting myself. I needed to get those done, and went up to WLIP in Kenosha to do it. The production director Dan Hanni said he’d help me out.

Dan is always backlogged with work, and I ended up having to wait quite a while to get him at a slow point. I appreciate the favor so I’m not complaining, but that’s just how life works. Things come up and need to get done, and everything else has to wait. It’s reality.

I cranked out three different versions of what I thought were pretty funny commercials, and the club will edit and decide what to use. I’m glad to be going back to Louisville, and I hope I can put a few butts in seats. That town is a lot hipper than people think. I like it.

After the radio station, I drove to Milwaukee to meet with Richard Halasz to scout out a few possible locations for shows. I still want to do ‘Schlitz Happened!’ but there might be room to book shows in general with the closing of the Comedy Café. Richard books some shows in the area already, and he’s a life long Milwaukeean who knows the whole scene.

Richard is as honest as the day is long, and like me really cares about the comedy scene in Milwaukee. It’s our home town and we want comedy to be healthy and thriving, which it’s never been. There’s always been a crop of snakes in charge who exploit all the locals.

The big serpent who just left the Comedy Cafe wasn’t much different than those before him, and nobody’s sure what will happen if and when the club reopens. Personally, I hope it turns around and someone with a clue gets in there and runs it with some class. I liked the room a lot when I worked there, but management was brutal. A change was overdue.

Richard and I don’t really want to be bookers, but there seems to be an opportunity now so we wanted to check into it. We visited some hotels on several sides of town, and a few showed some interest in doing at least semi regular shows in the future. It was positive.

I want to have a comedy presence in my home town for many reasons, One is to finally exterminate all the bad vibes from years past. Not only was my family not supportive and in my corner, the clubs weren’t either. I earned my stripes in comedy anyway, and now all that ugliness is over with. I want to move on and get laughs and build a loyal fan base.

There’s a club called Jokerz who was very nice to me when I worked there just as they opened a few years ago. I would have stayed with them but was asked by another club to be ‘loyal’, so I did. What an idiot I was. They treated me like mud and bounced a check.

I stopped at Jokerz tonight to reconnect with them. The manager Natalie is a sweetheart and I’m not opposed to working there again. They’re not at all like the other clubs in town and the room itself is spectacular. If nothing else, I’d at least like to teach some classes.

It felt great to walk in the club and have Natalie run over and give me a hug and tell me they all miss me there. I had some hot shows in there, and never had a gripe with anybody at all. They paid well and everything was fine. The only reason I stopped working there is because I was asked to by the other club. I’d known them longer so I thought it was right.

Most comedians would LOVE to be loyal to someone, but we rarely get a reason. We’re dented cans and whipped puppies as a whole, and any kind of love or affection would get our loyalty for life. I know it would from me. All we want is to perform and hear laughter. We’re not interested in politics or selling drinks or anything other than being on the stage.

Zanies in Chicago has always been completely opposite of all my negative experiences in Milwaukee. It’s only 90 miles away on a map, but it’s light years away in how they’ve treated me. They’ve been in my corner for twenty years, and I’ll be loyal to them forever.

It would be a dream to have a place in Milwaukee like that, and Richard craves that too. He never left Milwaukee for whatever reason, and it’s stunted his comedy growth. He has had to put up with the insanity for years, and I don’t now how he did it. I’d have snapped.

That’s why he started to book his own shows, and there still may be room to do more of that. More and more comedians are becoming disgruntled with the anarchy of how it’s all going, and we’re realizing that we’re the ones giving the bookers and snakes all the power to run roughshod over us like they do. We’re sick of it and many of us are taking action.

I was talking about that with the headliner at Jokerz this week. His name is Steve Hirst and he’s originally from England but now lives in Dallas, TX. We worked together a few years ago in Houston and really hit it off. I hadn’t seen him in a while, but when I’d heard he was the headliner I had to make a point to stop and say hello. He’s a true gentleman.

Steve is very down to earth off stage, but has one of the strongest natural presences that I’ve ever seen on stage. He’s got a style and charisma and his British accent has an almost hypnotic effect on an audience. I really love watching him work, and he tore the room up.

He does work pretty blue, but that could be easily fixed. It doesn’t offend me personally but it may keep him off TV, at least at the start. He’s such a likeable guy onstage and off that I’d love to see him get a TV show. If I were in charge, I’d be grooming him big time.

What I like about him most is that he’s totally real. He said that about me too, and he’s right. We were talking about how bookings are down and we’re each one week from the poor house and that’s just how it is. We both agreed how refreshing it was to hear another comic telling the truth, not fabricating all the great things that weren’t really happening.

Steve is at Jokerz on Saturday, and I highly recommend you go see him. He’s one of the most naturally funny people I’ve ever seen, and he gives it all every show. Jokerz website is http://www.jokerzcomedyclub.com. Give the manager Natalie a hug and tell her it’s from me. Steve Hirst will be worth your trip. That guy brings it. If I booked a club, he’d work there.

Living A King’s Life

March 20, 2010

Friday March 19th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

If nothing else, at least I’ve got variety in my life. I’ve got all these projects going on in all different directions, but I enjoy every one of them immensely. The struggle to manage it all will probably continue for the rest of my life, but it’s better than being bored to tears.

I was watching one of those “Lockup” inside prison shows on MSNBC tonight and that made me feel a whole lot better about my life. I saw some guy with forty years to serve go nuts and plug the toilet in his cell so it flooded the entire floor, and then he was extracted violently with tear gas by a bunch of guards in riot gear. It made my life feel like a king‘s.

In many ways, it totally is. For all the things that I haven’t been able to control, comedy is one that I could. And I did. I never stopped working and improving and no matter what happens, nobody can ever take that away from me. There’s such an exhilarating feeling of accomplishment that goes with it, I can’t put it into words. It’s taken a lifetime to achieve.

I’ll never be totally satisfied, and that’s a good thing. It’ll always keep me working, but I love the process so I’m fine with it. It’s who I am and what I do. I look forward to being creative, and finding solutions to my problems, and I’m in an excellent groove right now.

I’ve had so many ups and downs over the years that sometimes I lose track of important things, but right now I have razor sharp perspective for some reason. I’m seeing things on a level I’ve rarely seen them, and it excites me. I suppose I could have ended up in prison at some point, and nothing guarantees I still won’t, but right now I’d be able to handle it.

Why do I feel this positive and confident? Is it the manic part of manic depression? Am I seeing life in a new light as I get older? Have I totally flipped like an omelet and am in a delusional self induced hypno-funk of deceit? Whatever it is, give me this vision forever.

I feel totally at home in my own skin right now. Warts and all, I see who I am and know I don’t mean half a chipmunk turd in the giant zoo of life. Nothing matters except making myself happy, and I’ve found what does that – making others happy by entertaining them.

That sounds corny, but it’s absolutely true. I love to create and doing that correctly takes constant learning and growth. It also occupies my time, but in a good way. The days go by quickly, but when they’re over and I’ve put in my time doing what I love, I feel satisfied.

That’s what I did today. I drove up to Milwaukee to meet with Richard Halasz about the ‘Schlitz Happened’ show. I feel a nice synergy with him and we brainstormed about some things we can do to make the show better. After that I went to meet with Donna Gurda for more of the same. She could help tremendously on this project, and I think she’ll do that.

I’ve still got Uranus Factory Outlet on the docket, as well as comedy classes, two radio projects, a new comedy CD just days away and I have a seminar tomorrow in downtown Chicago that talks about reinvention. Something tells me to attend, so I will. It can’t hurt.

Blatz Off!

March 15, 2010

<Saturday March 13th, 2010 – Saukville, WI

It looks like Schlitz really is starting to happen! I didn’t know exactly what to expect on several levels concerning the initial run through of my one man show about growing up in Milwaukee called “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst”, but the overwhelmingly positive response it got gives me extremely high hopes. This is a winner!

It’s not a finished product yet by a long shot, but what’s there is very useable. I do know how to entertain an audience, and my lifetime of experience gives me a huge advantage of being able to go back into the archives and bring out polished standup bits which allows a freedom to experiment few others have. I can take chances because I have a backup plan.

The show was at the Railroad Station in Saukville, WI which wouldn’t have been in the top 50 places I would have chosen to get this started. Richard Halasz had booked a couple of previous shows there with Will Durst, so that’s a thumbs up for me. I like Richard and a reputable comedian like Durst wouldn’t work a place twice if there was anything shady.

I knew I needed to work the show through a few times, so where better than here to get a feel for it? The owners were all very nice people and we drew 146 people which is very respectable for a place that doesn’t do comedy on a regular basis. The club had posters up for a couple of months, but it was Richard that really dug in and didn’t let up on promo.

He mailed flyers and sent email blasts and got me a radio interview in Fond Du Lac and I really give him credit for doing a thorough job in promoting this along with the venue. It isn’t often a comedian does this good a job of behind the scenes detail work but he nailed it and totally followed through. Everyone was happy with the results and it was a big hit.

I brought my friend Russ Martin along, who was kind enough to film the show with his movie quality video camera, even though I don’t need anything that elaborate right now. I just wanted to get it on tape in case I ad libbed something that could be used in the future.

Gary Pansch also came out to support and he lit it up for a few minutes to get the crowd in a good mood. I went up and did an hour and five minutes, trying to squeeze in as many local stories and references as I could. I did some of my regular standup but it still had the local flavor to it. I added in a few things exclusively for this show and they went over too.

Was I thrilled with the show? No, not at all. Was the audience? Absolutely. They loved it, and that was my main concern. I wanted to feel it out a little first since I never worked there before, and didn’t have too much scripted. I wasn’t sure what kind of audience they drew, so trying to force a theater show wasn’t smart. This was more of a bar audience.

The sound system was popping and the stage lights were pretty bad, but other than that it wasn’t horrible at all. The physical layout of the space was nice, even though smoking is still allowed in Wisconsin bars. That was a killer, and my eyes were burning within the first ten minutes. This was a comedy show in a night club, NOT a one man theater show.

Still, the audience was both receptive and very polite. They weren’t pissy drunk and had the courtesy to sit and listen to the show. There were waitresses, but they were also polite and didn’t talk loud while taking orders or distract form the show at all. I was impressed.

I know how to read an audience, and could tell that I had a chance to do well right from the get go. I wanted to get to a lot more subtle and experimental material, but tonight was not the time to try it out. There will be other times, and I’m glad I didn’t force anything.

A few people showed up I hadn’t seen in thirty years or more. Robert Deglau and I went to the Jackie Robinson alternative open classroom school in sixth grade. We were both in the same homeroom and had an interest in radio. We reconnected by email a couple years ago but hadn’t gotten together before tonight. It was great to see him after all these years.

Jeff Phelps and I went to high school together at Messmer High School. He worked for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as a photographer for twenty-two years before losing his job last year in a purge that took a lot of other people with him. He is a real pro and takes amazing pictures, and I felt bad he lost his gig. Times are tough for people in many fields.

Jeff and I recalled the story of when Hank Aaron came to Messmer to speak. We loved sports and wanted to get an autograph so we skipped out of class and drove to a sporting goods store and each bought a baseball to get signed. We waited for Hank’s limo to pull up and as soon as we saw it we sprinted out the side door with our fresh white baseballs.

Nobody in the entourage expected us including Hank Aaron, and we politely asked him to sign our baseballs. There wasn’t much he could do but grab the pen and sign. We both had pens with us, and we had our whole plan of attack worked out way before we did it.

After Hank signed for us, someone in his entourage firmly said “Ok, that’s IT. No more autographs.” Jeff and I smiled at each other and went back into school with our prize. We were the envy of the whole school, and we got to meet Hank Aaron before anyone else at school, including the principal. It was the only time I ever skipped out, but it was worth it.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life was selling that ball many years later when I really needed money. Boy, was I stupid. I think I may have gotten $60. Maybe $75 tops. I remember crying when I sold that ball, but at the time I really needed that cash. It’s a huge mistake, but too late to change it. Jeff kept his ball, and I’m glad. I’d love to see it.

This is the end of my fourth solid year of keeping my little diary. It may not be good or even interesting, but at least I’ve been able to keep it consistent. I’ve had experiences all over the board, and hopefully I’ve been able to entertain or inspire at least somebody.

I’m still a dented can, and always will be. I’m improving in many areas, but I still have many more that need a lot of work. Will any of this live on after I’m dead? Who cares? It doesn’t affect me at all. I’ll be dead. Right now, I’m not and I hope whoever reads this at any time gets a laugh or two, or maybe some inspiration. Another year over. What’s next?

Milwaukee Is Calling Me

March 13, 2010

Friday March 12th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Tomorrow is my first official dry run of my one man show “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst” at the Railroad Station in Saukville, WI. I spent today preparing a few home made signs with localized terms on them to flash to the audience.

I’ve got a basic idea as to what I want the show to be, but it’s always going to be a work in progress. I’m going to try things every time I perform, and keep what works best. I love the concept of doing a whole show with one basic theme, but there are a lot of sub themes that can be incorporated in various degrees, so no two shows will ever be exactly alike.

I’ve got enough stage experience to pull off the time, and enough information about the subject that I’ll never be able to get to all of it at any one performance. Still, I have no real defined show pounded out yet, and that’s why I wanted to have a few times to experiment before I hit some bigger places. No offense to Saukville, but it’s not the strip in Vegas.

Richard Halasz booked some comedy shows at The Railroad Station in the past and has had some success as far as both numbers and quality of audience. He said the people who attended those shows were extremely well behaved and listened without any uncalled for incoherent drunken psychobabble added into the mix. That interested me from the start.

I’m not looking to do this show in comedy clubs or bars in general. I want to find some quality theater venues in the area that will have me back at least once a year if not more to entertain audiences who are there to see a show. I’ve grappled verbally with  quite enough incoherent booze monkeys in my life and if I never see another one I’ll survive just fine.

It doesn’t mean I won’t get any in Saukville, but if there are they’d better get some licks in early, because I’ve got a few surprises for them. This is not what I’m looking for, but if it finds me I’ve never been known to shy away from any level of heckler combat so I have a fantastic chance of not only winning, but firing full frontal verbal blasts at close range.

Hopefully, it won’t come anywhere close to that. I just want it to be fun, and I had a lot of it putting the show together. Apart from those signs, I’ve got a lot of directions I’d like to go and I have a great feeling it will fall together quickly. I have all the ingredients for a killer show, now it’s time to work out some bugs and get it ready to take to a nice theatre.

The great advantage I have is that nobody in the audience knows what to expect exactly so I’m not under any pressure to deliver anything specific just yet. If I lose my place with anything I’ve got plenty of standup material to cover me and won’t have any major lulls.

There’s absolutely no pressure on me at all, other than I want to do a good show for not only the audience, but for Richard Halasz too. He put up money out of his pocket to risk a show, and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I’m glad he wanted to work with me, and in no way will I give anything less than my best effort, even if it is a new work in progress. I will be ready when my name is called tomorrow, and there’s probably a seat left for you.

Getting My Schlitz Together

March 5, 2010

Thursday March 4th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Ft. Atkinson, WI

It seems like I’m in Milwaukee more now than when I lived there, but that’s where a lot of my business is leading right now. The “Schlitz Happened!” one man show is starting to take shape, but now is when I’m going to have to make some difficult decisions. I need to hash out details and percentages of those I’m working with so there are no ugly surprises.

I’m the first one to admit I have trust issues, and I’m also a pigheaded control freak in a situation where creative control is involved. This is MY baby, and I’m very protective of it – especially right now in it’s infancy. I have a vision of how I see it developing and I’m not going to settle for anything less. I’m not so sure the people on my team see that now.

I had a lunch with Ron Lee, the guy who produced comedy shows in the ‘80s at Teddy’s on Farwell, which is now Shank Hall. I like Ron and we’ve worked together over time on some fun and interesting projects, including a cable TV show and also at 93QFM in 1991.

Ron has booked bands and likes to promote things and we have a history of working on many things together. I wanted to meet face to face and discuss what he saw as his role in this project and if I could meet his expectations. He’s been making some calls and setting up meetings without my approval, and quite honestly it bothers me a little. I’m concerned.

It’s not his fault that I got cleaned out by my last business partner, but that whole fiasco is still a fresh welt on my fanny and that’s just fact. I know everyone needs to get paid for their time, and I’m fine with it – but I’m not so sure I really need any partners right now in a project that hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet. It’s promising, but still only an idea.

I’m going to have final say in this particular project. Period. Meeting with sponsors and potential sponsors is something I’ve never really done before, but I need to get experience sometime and that time is coming soon. I’m a little concerned that things are going ahead with potential sponsors without me having met anyone yet. There’s a fine line to toe here.

I don’t care if it’s Ron Lee or Richard Halasz or Colonel Tom Parker, I’m just a bit wary of people negotiating anything ‘on my behalf’. I just am. Maybe that’s the dented can side of me that will always be there, but it’s there and now is the time to set parameters for the duration of this project. If I establish rules now, I’ll either keep or lose everyone involved.

Now is the time to do that, rather than a year from now when money is involved. I like Ron Lee and I like Richard Halasz too, and both of them are working on promoting some upcoming shows. I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page as to what all of our roles are so nobody is taken aback. Better to talk it out now than have lawyers do it later.

Right now I want to do a few smaller shows and work out the bugs. I have an extremely full cupboard of actual material, now I want to shape it into a dynamite SHOW. It will be a work in progress as long as I do it, but I want to hit the ground running when I begin the bigger shows later in the year. I’ve got a plan of exactly how I see the show developing.

The offstage part is where I’m a little shaky, and I fully admit I’ve never enjoyed doing this part of the business. That’s why I’ve worked with the Ron Lees and the other guy for so long. I let them handle as many unpleasant or uninteresting things as I could so I could focus on what I do best – create things. I think I’m going to have to restructure my M.O.

To their credit, those guys worked with me for free on many occasions. None of us had money, and I’ve never hit any huge jackpots, but I have been able to squeak out a meager living for a quarter of a century. I’ve paid people when I could and what I could, and I’ve always tried to be fair and err on the generous side whenever I could. I’m a softie at heart.

When I got cleaned out it really rocked my world. It still hurts, and it didn’t need to take place at all. If the guy would have asked me, I would have given him the money until he’d be able to pay me back. Now we’re not friends anymore and I’m still out a chunk of cash.

Ron has never stolen money from me, but there really hasn’t been much to steal. After a lot of years of working with me for little or no money, I’d like to see him get a payday for his effort. Maybe I’m too soft, but I want to see all the people around me get their reward.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to give away a percentage of the show though. As much as I like both Ron and Richard, neither of those guys wrote one word of the show or had one ounce of creative input in how it all came together. They can promote shows all they want in as many places as they want, and they should be paid for that. But they’re not owners.

I’M the owner of this concept for now. If I decide to sell it, someone will have to put up cash money on the barrelhead to buy it. Sponsors would be great, but let’s get a hot show set and running first. I also need a synopsis of the concept so those sponsors know what it is so they can either sponsor it or not. I need a few chances to run through to polish it up.

This was a great eye opener today, and I’m glad I drove up. I’m going to go with my gut and my gut tells me to hold this close to my chest and do as much of it myself as possible until I really need to cut anyone else in as far as ownership goes. That’s ringing out loudly in my head and I hear it clearly. No offense to anyone else, but I’ve earned this by now.

I’m in the driver’s seat, and I’m sure it will work how it works. I’m not going to worry about it, and let it sit for a couple of days while I go to Pittsburgh to work in Cranberry at the Funny Bone this weekend. I’ll have plenty of time to think all this through in the car.

Tonight I had a show in Ft. Atkinson, WI at a biker bar that I’ve actually worked before for a comic friend of mine name Dan Still. Steve Sabo books it now, and I didn’t know it was the same place until I got there. They expanded and made it bigger, but it’s still a bar in Ft. Atkinson, WI. I did it for the money, but the people were actually pretty friendly.

Still, these are getting very old. The smoke was thick and my clothes smelled in the car like a non filter Pall Mall cigarette that my grandpa used to smoke. I appreciate the money but I’m hoping to weed these out of my schedule. Soon. I want to work the nicer theaters.

Catching The Dream

March 3, 2010

Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 – St. Charles, IL/Lake Villa, IL

I’m starting to feel some momentum building with all my projects, and I’m really liking how that feels. It energizes me and makes every waking hour exciting and packed with all kinds of fun things to do. The phone is ringing constantly and I feel like I’m finally doing what I’m supposed to be doing rather than drifting through life like a lost helium balloon.

Everything seems to be coming together at once, and as scary as that is, it’s also a thrill. I’ve waited so long and had so many disappointments that I thought this time would never come. I’ve made a lion’s share of mistakes and can’t promise I won’t make more, but that goes with the territory. I’ve managed to hang in there and positive results are finally here.

What’s great about all of this is I hung in there and didn’t give up when that would have been very easy to do. Maybe I was too stupid to quit or didn’t know what else to do, but it didn’t happen and I’m so glad it didn’t. I feel like I’m really poised for something big and it’s not very far away now. This is the most exciting time of my life and I’m loving it all.

Comedy classes are coming together again even though only three students came out for one at Zanies at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. They agreed to wait until next month, so we’ll start on April 6th and be ready to go. We had several other people inquire, but they didn’t attend for whatever reason. That happens. It’s ok, I‘m still very positive.

Cyndi Nelson is my ace in the hole here and she and I had a great meeting. Cyndi works for the resort as Entertainment Director after being promoted from manager of Zanies and she’s a peach pie to deal with. She’s smart and a sweetheart and she sees the benefits of a comedy class to more than just wannabe comics. She knows it’s good for lots of people.

Business types and sales meetings and public speakers of all kinds can benefit from this and she promised to promote it throughout the resort and I know she will. I wrote her up a press release last week, but it was on very short notice and it only got out today. That’s no way to promote something, but now we’ve got a solid month to get interest up for April.

I’ll have plenty to work on if there are classes both downtown and at Pheasant Run on a regular basis, and it’s not nuts to think we could eventually add a third location in Vernon Hills if needed. I’ve done several classes out there before and they’ve all been successful.

I have to watch myself with time management though. While I really do enjoy teaching, I still have a while to go while I can still perform. That’s my first love, and if I can do that I absolutely will. Teaching is close though. Having two classes at once is enough for now.  That should happen next month, and I’ll work on making those two fill up consistently.

The one man show about Milwaukee is getting some attention too. I can feel that begin to heat up, and I did a radio interview today on a station in Fond Du Lac for my March 13 performance at The Railroad Station in Saukville. Richard Halasz is promoting that show and he’s doing an excellent job of it. We’ve got a great chance to experiment and we are.

That’s what all of this is – one big experiment. It’s a crapshoot. I am guessing as to what will sell, and even though I’ve got a lot of experience there’s still no guarantee that any of this will work, at least not to the extent I might think it will. Still, I feel good about it all.

Richard Halasz has been a comedian longer than me, and has been promoting shows in the area for a while now. He can help me get locations in the area, as can Ron Lee. Ron is also working with me on this project and he’s been meeting with potential sponsors of the show lately and he tells me they’re very interested in the concept. I knew I had a winner.

Now it’s a matter of hashing it all out and making it come to life. I’ll work with Richard and Ron and anyone else who wants to put on shows, but the ultimate control in all of this boils down to me. I’ll have to negotiate percentages and define roles for everyone but it’s ultimately my baby here and whether it sinks or swims boils down to me. I’m in charge.

That’s why it’s so much fun. Whenever I’ve been in control in the past, things have had very positive results. It’s when I have to deal with those who don’t share my vision is the time everything has fallen apart. I don’t think I have to let that happen in these situations.

The ‘Schlitz Happened!’ one man show and the comedy classes are my babies and I call the shots in both. I also have Uranus Factory Outlet ready to launch soon and that project is in my control as well. I thought of it and even though it took way too long to get going, it’s finally ready to blast off in a couple of weeks. Those are three projects I love doing.

That doesn’t include my actual standup comedy career either. I’m still interested in that too, even though all these other things are starting to rumble. I took some time today for a review of my comedy material I’ve been working on lately. I’ve got 120 pages of material I need to either polish, rework or add in to what I’ve already got. That‘ll keep me busy.

All this will keep me busy for the rest of my life, even if I live to be 100. These are very solid projects that will take blood and sweat to develop, but I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to it. Nothing is worthwhile that isn’t worth working for, and all this is.

I’m starting to see a bigger picture on all these things too. I know I won’t be able to get anything done totally by myself so I’m working on my delegation skills. Delegating what I need to do is the best way to assure success, and I never really thought that way before.

Now, I totally think that way. Unless I can get quality people to join me I’ll never make any of this come to life. It’s only as a result of a team effort many times over that will be what puts any of this over the top. I’ve been laying the foundations for all of these things, but now it’s time to find the members of my team. I’m doing that, and it’s working well.

One thing I didn’t mention was radio. I’m still involved with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN in Chicago and The Mothership Connection paranormal show on WLIP in Kenosha every Sunday night from 8-11pm Central Time. Those are two more projects I love doing and it would be even more lovable if I was getting paid for them. Time to shake the money tree.

Exercising My Options

February 26, 2010

Thursday February 25th, 2010 – Gurnee, IL

The struggle for balance continues, but I’m making progress. First things first, I crawled out of the rack and got to the mall to get my laps in early.  I could walk near home and get results, but I like the mall. The temperature is controlled and at least there’s scenery to see other than some enormous sweat soaked ass on a stationery bike in front of me at a gym.

Gurnee Mills Mall is about seven miles away, but getting there can be a hassle. Traffic tends to back up as there are all kinds of unsynchronized lights, but I like to walk there so that’s where I do it. It’s long and flat and two laps is a nice workout. Three is a marathon, and if I ever decide to do four I should just apply for the job as a security guard already.

Walking is good exercise and I’m not alone in doing it. The others there aren’t all just a pack of dried up blue haired walking dead either, there’s actually a nice mix of people I’ll see depending on when I show up. The earlier I get there, the more I realize I’m not alone in a quest to at least attempt to get in some kind of shape. It takes effort to show up daily.

By the time I drive there and drive back and do a 45 minute to hour walk or more, it’s a significant outlay of time spent and it shrinks my work day. I suppose my heart blowing a gasket would shrink my work day even more – down to zero. Exercise is an investment in having some kind of a quality future that doesn’t involve being plugged in to a machine.

I’ve really been lax on exercising for many years, and unless I change my ways for good it WILL catch up with me. Nobody can live a sedentary lifestyle that long and then expect perfect health, especially with a diet loaded with sugar, grease, salt, chemicals and cheese.

I never smoke, drank or did drugs, but I’ll be just as dead as if I did if a major backup of butter and beef jerky residue clogs my aorta and I nod out on my steering wheel in a drive thru window somewhere. I’ve had a free ride for too long and I’m tempting the fates daily if I keep doing it. The body can take only so much – I don’t want to determine that total.

It would be a shame to have come so far in my life from so little, only to croak from not taking care of myself – something that is totally in my control. A lot of the other stuff I’ve had to deal with had nothing to do with me, and I still overcame it. This has everything to do with me, as everyone has a choice in what they put in their mouth or if they exercise.

If there’s anything comforting about this, I’m by far not alone in this struggle. Millions of Americans have this same situation, and it’s not easy to fix it in a short time. It’s been years of packing pizza and greasy burgers and fries and anything with mayonnaise down my gullet, and making it even worse by rotting in front of a TV and not exercising at all.

A few days in a row of walking a couple of laps in a mall isn’t going to turn me into the finely tuned world class athlete I never was, and I sure have lost a lot of the natural health and vigor I had in my teens and twenties. My home state of Wisconsin is the lard ass and love handle capital of the solar system, and I don’t want to perpetuate that trait anymore.

Unfortunately, exercising every day for a whole hour isn’t going to be easy. It’s just not. I have a lot of things going, and sometimes I can’t spare the time it takes to get to the mall and walk, get back home and shower up and then tend to my business. Some days will not allow that time, and I have to accept that and not beat myself up for it. That’s how life is.

Still, getting to the point where more often than not I do get some sort of exercise in is a place I am going to go. Period. I know I need to do it the older I get, and if that’s the thing that actually does kill me, it’ll make a funny story to tell. “Did you hear about Mr. Lucky? He started exercising and that’s what killed him.” I have to admit, that fits my character.

But, that’s only a stage character. I’ve said it before and it’s true – playing Mr. Lucky on stage is great fun. And it is. BEING him in real life is a nightmare. I’m starting to separate the two a lot better than I ever have and my off stage life is a lot more stable because of it.

I’m also pumped about doing this one man show about Milwaukee. Things are fitting in perfectly, and I can feel good things on the horizon by the day. I’m working with familiar people I’ve known for years, and they’re coming on board. Richard Halasz is a comedian who is doing some booking of shows, and I trust him. He’s honest and ethical to a fault.

Richard is the one who approached me about performing the show in Saukville, WI at a venue he’s booked before called The Railroad Station. I’m there March 13th, and he’s put a ton of effort into promoting it. I got a call today from a radio station in Fond Du Lac and they’re going to put me on next week to promote it. Plus, Richard made some great flyers.

I’ve also been approached about doing a big grand opening premiere show October 1st, and I’m excited to hear it. I will use that date to record either a CD, DVD or both and it’ll be something to promote all summer as I get my ducks in order and prepare the product.

I’m going to call in every local favor I can, but it’s already starting to come my way. It’s amazing how word is getting out, and I’m getting calls from all over. I got one today from my old friend Aye Jaye. He used to be Ronald McDonald for years and he’s now living in Los Angeles and still entertaining. That guy is a true character, and I mean it with respect.

When I had my first near fatal car wreck in 1993, Aye Jaye mailed me a check for $100 and I never forgot him for it. That $100 couldn’t have come at a better time and it paid for a lot of frivolous luxury items like…FOOD. He helped me when I needed it the most and I’ve never forgotten that. He added a bunch of fantastic suggestions I know I’ll include.

People like Richard Halasz and Aye Jaye and Ron Lee who used to produce shows back at Teddy’s in the ‘80s are going to help put this project over the top. Also, long time good friends like Drew Olson, Ted Perry, Steve ‘The Homer’ True and more will also pitch in.

I’m doing things right for once, and it feels SO good to see it come together after many years of frustration and failure. This is going to work! I can feel it. I’d hate to lose all this because I didn’t spend time exercising and blew my heart up like a five cent firecracker.

A Waste Of Wednesday

January 21, 2010

Wednesday January 20th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

It’s coming up on three weeks into the new year and my whole schedule has completely jumped the tracks and run off course. I’m swinging in the breeze like a rusty gate and I’ve got to stop now and regroup immediately before I lose control of everything. I’m drifting.

It’s not like I haven’t done this before, but this is not what I planned for and I absolutely refuse to accept it. If I’m going to get anything done of any significance, I have to make a conscious effort to block my time and use it efficiently. I started the year off OK but then went off into my old ways and now I’m just letting the wind take me where it wants to go.

Today was a complete waste of time. Not good. I ended up sleeping late and that starts a day off in the wrong direction. I’ve been pretty good about popping out of bed early lately but today I flat out blew it. I don’t know why, and then when I woke up I still felt sleepy.

Emails have built back up to over 600, my bathroom is filthy, everything I own is piled up in disarray and I wouldn’t know where to find anything important if I really needed to track it down on short notice. In other words, I’m right back to ground zero all over again.

The fact is, things just take more time than planned on and that puts everything else off schedule and before you know it nothing gets done. Yesterday was a good example. I had a day I could have used to work on my mess, but I chose to go up to Milwaukee for lunch with Richard Halasz and then a trip to see the venue we’ll be doing a show on March 13th.

Did I have to do that? No, but I wanted to. But it wasn’t absolutely necessary. I need the discernment to determine what’s really important and what isn’t and then the discipline to execute and enforce it after I’ve made my decision. That’s a whole lot harder to get done than it is to say, but I’ve got to make an effort or I’m going to be out of time all the time.

Today I was asked to appear on some radio show in Chicago I’d never heard of to pump up our play “You’re On The Air”. In theory, that was great. In reality, it was a completely wasted trip to Chicago and several hours of time I’ll never get back. I’m sorry I took time out of my schedule to do it, and it didn’t do any good for anyone. It was a mistake to go.

The only good thing was meeting the lady who hosted the show. Her name is Maureen O’Looney, and I’m not nearly clever enough to make that up. She’s almost 90 from what the engineer guy told me, and she speaks like she’s auditioning for a Lucky Charms spot.

She was an absolute sweetheart of a person, but as far as promoting our show it was one of the biggest wasted trips I’ve ever made. This was on a brokered AM station and I don’t think there were many listeners who would want to see our show. I tried to fake patience.

I can’t keep doing distracting things like this. It takes hours out of my day that I should and could be doing some productive things. No offense to Maureen, but I’ve got a lot of things brewing and need to keep stirring the kettle. I’m angry at myself. This was a waste.