Posts Tagged ‘Rodney Dangerfield’

Momentum Shifts

July 17, 2013

Tuesday July 16th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The life of any entertainer always boils down to the constant shifting of momentum. The tide is either in or out at any given time, but it doesn’t stay there forever no matter what direction it may be headed. I was in a particularly lengthy out tide for a while, but now I feel it coming in again.

   My phone is ringing all over the place, and I can feel good things headed my way. I have some interesting and different opportunities on the table I wasn’t expecting, and I’m going to seriously focus on making the most of them. New opportunities with new people are exactly what I need.

   One thing I wasn’t expecting was this movie role I auditioned for last week. I received word of getting the part, and shooting is this week. I only have a few lines, but I appreciate the fact I was considered and will go in and give it my very best whether it leads to anything else or not. It will only add credibility to everything else I’m doing, and I’m sure I’ll meet some new connections.

   A standout role in a popular film would sure come in handy right about now. Look at what the role in ‘Caddyshack’ did for Rodney Dangerfield. He nailed it, and it put him over the top with a whole new generation of fans. I was one of them, and it still makes me laugh whenever I see it.

   This isn’t going to be that kind of a role, but I get to play a clueless security guard and it looks like I’ll be able to have fun with it. It’s great practice if nothing else, and it just may open me up to get a shot at my own Rodney type role in some other movie. ‘Mr. Lucky’ is a solid character.

   Another area I feel some heat happening is in the corporate market. I’ve traditionally not had a lot of bookings there, but now I feel it’s a much better fit. I can not only perform a squeaky clean comedy show or after dinner speech, I can also create comedy workshops for training purposes.

   I always tell my classes and it’s true – doing standup comedy is THE most difficult task to pull off consistently in all of the entertainment business. If one can be successful at it for any amount of time at all, anything else appears easy. That’s where I am now. Bring it on, and I’ll handle it.

   I’ve also been working on updating my personal website. It’s long overdue, and today I met up with my web guy Mark Filwett. He’s really talented, and he does what he says. I’m thrilled with my www.schlitzhappened.com  site. He’s mark@lakecountygeeks.com if you need a web guy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

   I’m spending my days working on as many things as I can get done. One of these days one area will get hot, and I’ll focus my energy on that. Right now, I’m still trying to find out what it might be. I’m rattling cages in different areas, but they’re not all that far off from what I’ve been doing.

   I’ve always been performing and teaching comedy, I’m just looking to do it in a different arena than I’ve been used to. Comedy clubs have never been where the big money is, and I find a lot of those who book them not to my liking. They can be shady, and it’s getting worse. Why not move up the trough and drink a little closer to the main teat? I’ve been hanging out at the wrong end.

   Tonight I was invited to a delicious dinner with my magician friend Dennis DeBondt. His Aunt Boots just turned 90, and she lives just a few minutes from me on a gorgeous lake. Dennis owns a cottage next door, and whenever he’s up here he gives me a call. Boots is a sweetheart, and she invited some friends over to celebrate one of their birthdays. The food and company were of the highest order, and we sat around and had a lot of laughs. This is exactly how life should work.

Happy Birthday Crusher

July 13, 2013

Thursday July 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Some people just have ‘it’ – an abstract and intangible quality that can be extremely difficult to describe by itself, but is instantly recognizable by a possessor. There aren’t many considering the bulk of the population is up over seven billion, but when one comes along they make their mark.

   ‘It’ is a magnetic charisma that emanates from within, and can be a powerful force when taken advantage of properly. Most of the major entertainers have this quality to some degree, and that’s a big reason why they attain success. They have something desirable that not everyone else gets.

   One of those people that happened to be a major influence throughout my entire childhood was one Reggie Lisowski – aka “The Crusher”. He was a professional wrestler who happened to hail from my home town of Milwaukee, and had a legion of loyal fans who followed his every move.

   The Crusher was Milwaukee’s Elvis, and everyone loved him. He was built like a mailbox with a gravelly voice, bleach blonde hair and big eyes that would bug out when telling what he had on the agenda for his next opponent who he would often refer to as a ‘bum’, ‘turkeyneck’ or both.

   Despite the fact that Crusher was in his 50s at the time, his local legend was strong and he was able to jam pack the Milwaukee Arena whenever he wrestled. I was fortunate enough to see him live many times throughout my childhood and teen years, and when he walked down the aisle to make his grand entrance into the ring it was like nothing else I have ever seen before or since.

   He was loaded with ‘it’, and had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand from before he would even step into the ring. There was a feeling of pure electricity before he came out of the dressing room, and by the time he stepped into the ring it was full blown pandemonium. He was a legend.    

   The Crusher was born on this date in 1926, and died on October 22nd, 2005. I remember when I heard he’d passed, and how it seemed so surreal that such a powerful figure that was built up as such an indestructible hero for so many years could now be gone. He was Milwaukee’s favorite.   

   I was performing on New Year’s Eve at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee one year, and they have giant glass elevators that can fit a large number of people. I was coming back from my gig and the elevator I was in was full. I could distinctly hear a gravelly voice in the rear of the elevator, and I wondered who had the audacity to do a bad impression of The Crusher.  

   When we got to the lobby, I saw it was the man himself. We were both in tuxedos, and I had to go up and say hello. He was very nice, and thanked me for saying nice things. I meant every one of them, and I’ll never forget the feeling of shaking his hand that felt like rough grade sandpaper.

   The Crusher never made the huge money wrestlers or athletes in general make today, but he’s a  legitimate superstar to more than one generation of not only Milwaukeeans but everywhere that he wrestled. He had that magic charisma that few ever get, and he used it as much as he could.

   According to numerology, those born on the 11th and 22nd tend to be special and influence a lot of people. After I heard this, I noticed how many celebrities happen to have birthdays on an ‘11’ or ‘22’ and think there may be something to it. Rodney Dangerfield has a ‘22′ for a birthday and so does George Clinton – two of my favorites also loaded with ‘it’. My personal supply of ‘it’ is questionable, but I do the best I can. The Crusher was loaded, and I still love him today.

One of my most prized possessions to this day.

One of my most prized possessions to this day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The Peak Of Ripeness

June 22, 2013

Friday June 21st, 2013 – Niles, IL

   It’s the first day of summer, and once again I find another year slipping away. After today days start to get shorter again, so this is it – the prime day of the year. I’m not booked tonight, and I’m not thrilled about it in the least. I want to be out working as much as I can, and that’s every week.

   Nothing else makes me even close to happy. I’ve resigned myself to the icy fact that I’m never going to have that solid family relationship I have always wanted, but if I can’t have that the only other thing I’d ever want is a chance to be on stage entertaining people who are there to see me.

   I’ve been chasing that tricky rabbit longer than I think I should have, and I don’t feel any closer now than when I started. I have come untold light years as a performer, but nobody knows who I am so what good is it? I know I can go on stage and light up a room, but nobody powerful cares.

   Rodney Dangerfield had a great joke that said he quit show business and when he quit – he was the only one who KNEW he quit. That’s funny to anyone who isn’t living it. I feel like I’m there now myself, and I’m not laughing. I’m not even smiling. I’m panicking, and that’s never good.

   There are too many choices to make, and I have no idea which ones are correct. I’ve made a lot of stupid ones through the years, but even so I still paid my dues and developed my natural talent to the point it’s ripe and ready to pick. I’m at my peak just like today is the peak of the summer.

    I don’t want to waste any more time, as that peak ripeness won’t last forever. It will eventually get soft and rot, and the last thing I want is to be a rotten piece of fruit that fell off the tree. I have come way too far for that, so I decided to do something about it. I am not satisfied with this fate.

   In a perfect world, I’d be working six to seven nights a week in nice venues for audiences filled with my fans. I’d super serve those people, and give them my very best each night. I’d sign every autograph and pose for every picture after the show, and live the rest of my days brightening the days of as many others as humanly possible. I’ve got the ability, now I just need the opportunity.

   How the hell is that going to happen? I wish I knew. I read an interview with Lewis Black and he said he had resigned himself to the fact he’d never make it – and then he made it. I’m right at that point myself, and I don’t like it one bit. There’s no guarantee I’ll hit anything, and that rots.

   I can rattle off a dozen names of absolutely fantastic standup comedians that the public has no idea whatsoever who any of them are. Look these people up in no particular order and tell me if you don’t think they’re hilarious. I know they are, because they’ve paid their dues just like me.

   Here’s a list off the top of my head: Tim Cavanagh, Tim Walkoe, Tim Northern, Dwight York, Don Reese, Jim McHugh, James Wesley Jackson, Beth Donahue, John McClellan, Danny Storts, Ross Bennett, Keith Stubbs, Todd Johnson, Auggie Smith, Bill Gorgo, Rick D’Elia, Wally Wang and now I’m going to get in trouble because I’ll leave someone out unintentionally. Suffice to say not everyone makes it.

   I’ve said it before, and I wish it weren’t true – talent does NOT assure anyone of career success in the entertainment business. In sports it may be different, but this isn’t sports. This is a business based on subjective opinions of many that have never once attempted to do themselves what they are allegedly experts at choosing. This has always been frightening and extremely disturbing, but I don’t see it ending any time soon. There are hoops that are to be jumped through, like it or not.

   I don’t like it and never have, but if I intend to change my current status I need to suck it up for at least a little while and get back out there. There are so many places other than comedy clubs to approach, and that’s where it gets tricky. Where do I go and who do I talk to? I haven’t been able to figure it out until now, so what leads me to believe I’ll do it now? I can’t, so I need some help.

   I had lunch with Marc Schultz today, and in his world he’s in a similar situation. Marc books a variety of entertainment acts and has for years. He inherited an agency from his father, and even though he’s not a comedy booker per se I have gotten a decent amount of work over the years.

   Marc and I are friends, and there aren’t many bookers I’d call a friend first. I genuinely like the guy, and even if he never booked me again I’d still hang out with him. That’s all fine, but we put our heads together today to see what we could come up with. His business isn’t what it was, but what business these days is? We can both use a little freshening up, so we came up with a plan.

   Most of Marc’s clients are corporate types. Most of them would never hire a standup comic but he’s going to approach the ones that might. He’s always been good about trying to include me on any sampler videos he sends, and I totally appreciate it. But I can do the job, and he realizes that.

   We also agreed that Marc is going to go after club work that I haven’t gone after, for a fee. I’m delighted to pay anybody to get me work I don’t have, so this is a no brainer. If he can land some decent work, I’m all over it. I don’t want to work the toilet circuit anymore, so these will be good clubs that will pay decent money. He’s not familiar with the club market, but he’s willing to try.

   This is not a long term fix, but in the short run it could be great for both of us. I won’t be stuck doing what I’ve never liked, and it’s always good to have a third party selling me rather than me stumbling and stammering and asking for work like a vagrant asks for change. I’ve never liked it.

   Steady work is what’s it’s about in any facet of show business. Period. I’d rather work steadily and make livable wage than be a big star one minute and a has been bum the next. I’m all about a steady career with regular income. I’ve come close many times, but I’ve never been able to make it last. There’s always been a radio job to come along and shake things up in a destructive way.

   I’m not foreseeing any radio in my immediate future. That ship has sailed – or sunk. What I am going to do is cross every T and dot every I and go after all the quality standup comedy work I’m able to get. It could be comedy clubs, cruise ships, colleges or corporate. I can handle just about anything at this point, but what I can’t handle is not working at all. That’s totally unacceptable.

   I look at comics from my generation of performers like Louis CK and Jim Gaffigan, and I want to be doing what they’re doing. How did they get it? I don’t know. I’m sure it was a lot of things. Talent is a part, but so is persistence, connections, luck and who knows what else? It’s complex.

   If I don’t get myself in front of someone, I’ll never have any chance to do anything. That’s not what I want to have as my final legacy, so at least Marc is going to be out there trying to mention my name to people who can book me in decent venues. Why haven’t we done this before now?

   Neither one of us has an answer. Marc was doing his thing, and I was doing mine. Now we’ve both run out of ‘things’, and this is a logical fit – at least for now. I’m going to dive into booking myself in as many quality places as I can. No more toilets. If I succeed, my life will change soon. It’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s just that where I’m doing it hasn’t gotten me seen.

Sun Ra

May 23, 2013

Wednesday May 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Today would have been the 99th birthday of one Herman Poole Blount – aka “Sun Ra”. He was born in Birmingham, AL but claimed to be from the “Angel Race” – not of this planet. That alone makes him one of my all time favorite entertainers, but his showmanship is what I admire most.

   He was the leader of a huge band that he called his ‘arkestra’, and the name of it changed about as frequently as his musical directions. There was the ‘Blue Universe Arkestra’, the ‘Heliocentric Space Arkestra’, the ‘Solar Myth Arkestra’ and many many more. He was an eccentric fellow.

   There’s good weird and bad, and he was very good. By all accounts, he and his band were drug free and upstanding members of the community wherever they happened to be living at any time. They were based for years in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, where Sun Ra died in 1993.

   I never got a chance to see him live, but I’ve seen some very interesting video that puts me in a fun mood every time I see it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7_JUShK4n8&feature=related is one link. There’s also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMMWNwVhq5k&feature=related

   Sun Ra was a true original, and those are difficult to find. George Clinton borrowed a little bit from him and also set up shop in ‘outer space’. The whole ‘Mothership Connection’ concept and costume came out of Sun Ra’s shadow and I freely admit that’s where I got The King of Uranus.

   I remember the first time I saw him on TV when I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but it captured my undivided attention as I watched it with my grandparents. Gramps looked like he got it, but my German grandma wanted to take a rolling pin to either the TV, Gramps or both.

   Grandma was not very open to anything new, different or artistic. If it wasn’t a Lawrence Welk ditty or a polka, she didn’t want it within five miles of her. Seeing Sun Ra and his ‘arkestra’ sent her farther into outer space than Sun claimed to be from. The greatest ones are loved and hated.

   I loved the fact that he incorporated outer space themes into his music, and that made me want to know more about him as I got older. He was a remarkable personality to say the least, and his claim of being taken by aliens to the planet Saturn made me like him more. He made that claim a long time before UFO abduction stories were popular, and he stuck by that story his entire life.

   I don’t know if he was from Saturn or not, but I do know he was an underappreciated artist and too eclectic for the masses. He was a recording machine, and it is said he’s the the 20th Century’s most prolific musical artist with over 100 full length albums. Wow! That alone is one major feat.

   It’s also notable that he’s a ‘22’. According to numerology, people born on the 11th and 22nd of a month are allegedly the strongest personalities and most influential people. Sun Ra was born on a 22nd, as was George Clinton (7/22). Rodney Dangerfield was too. (11/22) There are all kinds of entertainers, politicians and celebrities born on 11s and 22s so there may be some truth to that.

   I’m not a ‘22’ or an ‘11’ unfortunately. I’m a ‘pi’ (3/14). I don’t know if any of it means a dang thing, but I do know I am a fan of Sun Ra and not nearly enough people know who he was to pay tribute to a unique performer who had the guts to follow his creative vision for decades. That’s at the top of my list for people I admire most, and he’s up there with the very best. He spent his life entertaining this planet – whether he was born here or not. What better way to invest one’s time?

Sun Ra

Sun Ra

The King of Jupiter?

The King of Jupiter?

 

One Cosmic Cat

One Cosmic Cat

Comic Camaraderie

May 12, 2013

Thursday May 9th, 2013 – Gurnee, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   My friend Russ Martin and I hung out for a while today and had a delicious meal at a Chinese buffet in Gurnee, IL. Hanging out with comedians is one of the best parts of the business, as it’s about the only time we truly feel at home. The public doesn’t always get what we do or more so why we do it, but when we hang out together it’s often as much or more fun than actual shows.

   I remember coming up the ranks as a beginner at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Milwaukee in the ‘80s where I was a seater, janitor, answerer of phones and all around gopher in addition to getting random stage time thrown my way from time to time. Hanging out was part of the deal.

   There was a group of us who would hang out every night we were in town, and after watching the shows we would reconvene at a diner called Ma Fisher’s to continue the process. We’d learn from what we saw, and often headliners would join us and impart pearls of wisdom on us as we ate our food and soaked it all in. To this day those are some of my favorite memories of all time.

   One week Robert Schimmel was in town, and it was before anyone had heard of him. He ate it at the club all week, and I remember feeling so sorry for the guy knowing he was going to go up and have a rough set every night. For whatever reason, Milwaukee was just not ready for what he was doing and it was a painful week. We got to be friends at Ma Fisher’s hanging out afterward.

   I remember seeing him years later as he was starting to hit it, and I went up to him and asked if he remembered his week in Milwaukee. Not only did he remember, he sincerely thanked me for taking time to hang with him after the shows. The pleasure was mine, but he thanked me because his daughter was sick at the time, and he was feeling very low. He said I made his whole week.

  These are the memories that keep getting sweeter as time goes by. Robert Schimmel had a lot of obstacles to overcome to say the least, but he did and had a remarkable career. He stayed with his vision, and refused to back down no matter what. I wish everyone could have seen how he took it in the shorts that whole week, and how those same jokes later made him a star. It’s so inspiring.

   Russ mentioned at dinner that he’d just watched a You Tube biography of Rodney Dangerfield and how it had reminded him of me in many ways. He’s not the only one who has said that, and I ended up going home and watching it myself. I had seen it before, but I enjoyed it all over again.

   What really stood out was how much Rodney struggled, and how brutal his childhood was. Just like so many others, comedy was his escape. Robert Schimmel had some nasty struggles too, and I doubt if fans of either of those guys knew or cared. They both made audiences laugh like crazy, but when the show was over who made them laugh? Quite often it was hanging out after shows.

   I’m a huge fan of Rodney’s and always will be. Schimmel too. I wish I couldn’t relate so much to what they were about at their deepest core, but I totally relate to both of them. They made their inner pain become joy for others, but inside that pain was still there. They were both dented cans, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t successful. I hope both of them are in a much happier place.

   As a rule, comedians are both extremely sensitive and intelligent. We hurt easily, and often are from horrific backgrounds that ‘normal’ people can never comprehend. Comedy is our only way to mask that pain, and that’s what keeps us coming back to that stage even in the most difficult of stretches. It’s a moth to a flame – we can’t help it. Hanging with each other helps soothe our pain.

Versatility Pays Peanuts

May 8, 2013

Tuesday May 7th, 2013 – Lake Zurich, IL

   Versatility in the entertainment business can be a two edged sword. On one hand, it can allow a performer to have the luxury of more than one option to receive a paycheck. On the other, there’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” stigma that tends to go with it and that can cause confusion.

   Those known for ONE thing and one thing only have a much better chance at mass recognition – IF they happen to find that right thing. Mel Kiper Jr. is a perfect example. What the hell has he ever done except claim to know about the NFL draft? He’s got the title of ‘draft expert’, but what does that mean? Can anyone truly say he is or isn’t? It doesn’t matter. He’s carved out his niche.

   Rachel Ray is another. She has books and videos and is always on TV whipping up some kind of miracle meal, but again what else has she done? People like that just appear on television one day and become part of popular culture, and everyone knows who they are for that single reason.

   Dr. Phil bitches at people. That’s it. Nobody knows anything else about him. Does he have any knowledge about the NFL draft? It doesn’t matter if he does or he doesn’t? Can he make himself breakfast? That’s not important either. All that matters with the public is that one source of fame.

   A few select people have been able to parlay fame into more areas, but more often than not it’s one thing and one thing only that anyone becomes truly known for. Rush Limbaugh was hired to do NFL pregame commentary on the basis of his radio show, but he’ll always be known as being a radio host. Howard Stern is the same thing. He did a couple of movies, but he’s a shock jock.

   I’ve never been known for exclusively one thing, and part of that reason is I’ve been able to be versatile for many years. I’ve done standup comedy and radio, and also was a ring announcer for professional wrestling in addition to promoting live shows. None are easy, but I need to pick one.

   Rodney Dangerfield never did radio, and Vince McMahon never did standup comedy. They are both icons in their field, and although Rodney did movies that’s a logical progression in what the comedy business entails. Rodney was known as a comedian. Period. Vince McMahon has tried a few other pursuits, but he’s known as the king of modern day professional wrestling promoters.

   Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but not many. Most people who ‘make it’ become known for one thing, and that’s enough to sustain them for a lifetime. J.K. Rowling doesn’t have to do another thing in her life and she’ll be known after she’s dead for bringing us Harry Potter.

   I’m still looking for my ‘thing’. I don’t think I’ll ever be known for my standup comedy, as it’s not that radical unfortunately. I can rip it up with the best of them, but I’ve never had the massive appeal of a Carrot Top or Adam Sandler or someone else who’s a crowd pleaser. I have my style and a lot of people like it, but I haven’t been able to carve out a niche in all these years of trying.

   Tonight I had a show for 50 church group seniors in Lake Zurich, IL. They were part of a tour group and were all from Wisconsin. Visit Lake County is a group I’m a member of, and they are the ones who set up this gig. It went really well and it was fun, but it won’t make me a big star.

   As I was performing (without a microphone) for this group who was loving it, I tried to picture Rodney or Carlin or anyone else in this situation and I couldn’t. I bet there aren’t five comedians on earth that could have pulled this off, but who cares? Versatility does pay – but it’s in peanuts.

Power For A Day

March 26, 2013

Monday March 25th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Even before all is said and done in life, I realize that I am but a speck of tiny sand on an infinite beach. What I think or say or do doesn’t move the needle one way or the other on the grand scale of life, so all that really matters is to be able to please myself. It’s all temporary, so enjoy the trip.

That being said, I had a chance tonight to make some people happy and I did it. It doesn’t mean diddly squat to anyone but those involved, but that still makes it worthwhile in my eyes. I didn’t do it for any other reason than I know how good it feels to be able to make a dream come true.

If only for one night, I had the power of deciding who would be on the show at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago. Zanies is one of the top comedy clubs in North America, and getting the chance to book a show is like having the chance to manage a Major League Baseball team for one game or decide on the set list for The Rolling Stones for one concert. It’s a feeling of power for a day.

Bert Haas is the regular booker of Zanies, and that’s no easy task. Booking any comedy club is a challenge on many levels, and I could go off in many directions on how it’s often done poorly. There are a lot of behind the scenes factors that the public or even other comedians seldom see.

Bert trusts me on occasion to put together a ‘Friends of Dobie Maxwell’ show on a Monday to basically give himself the night off. He spends a lot of time between the three Zanies clubs in the area, so once in a while a night off helps recharge the batteries. I get that, and I’m glad to help.

I’ve been around the block enough to know how to put a standup comedy show together. I also know literally hundreds of standup comics on all levels, and every one of them would love a shot to work on the Zanies stage but rarely if ever have gotten the opportunity. I felt it was my duty to put as many deserving acts as I could up tonight to let them have their moment of fun in the sun.

Granted, it was a Monday night and the audience was stiff but many of the people who went up will never forget this day for the rest of their lives. Having a chance to make that happen for one person would have been a thrill, but there were several tonight. I got to play Santa and I loved it.

I’ve had similar experiences in my own life, and I’ll never forget those moments. I got to meet George Clinton, George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield in person, and even though it was only a brief meeting each time, I will cherish all those memories until the final breath of my dying day.

I tried to squeeze as many acts as I could on the show tonight, and I hosted and gave them all a stellar introduction like they were going on at Carnegie Hall. I wanted to make their experience a pleasant one, even though in the big picture the only ones it will make any difference to is them.

One by one, they all came up and thanked me after the show, and I told them all they were very welcome and I meant it. They offered me the chance to do something nice, and that gives me the feeling of extreme satisfaction that I was at least able to make a tiny difference and do something good for someone else. Maybe I didn’t stop any wars or cure any cancer, but this feels SO good.

Birthday Reflections

March 18, 2013

Thursday March 14th, 2013 – Niles, IL/Stevens Point, WI

   Well, it’s another birthday and I’m officially too old to die young. I won’t be able to squeak by from promising upstart to legend status like a James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. I’m going to have to be a late bloomer like a Rodney Dangerfield or Colonel Sanders. I just hope I live to see some kind of payoff. Being a legend after I’m dead like a Vincent Van Gogh or Edgar Allan Poe rots.

Too bad for me, I’m running out of time and choices. The calendar pages keep flipping and I’m noticing that birthdays are getting closer together and less desired. I was always an old soul, even as a kid. I don’t ever remember my grandparents talking to me as anything other than a grown up as they raised me, and the bulk of my friends have always been and continue to be older than me.

Eventually, they’re going to start dying off and actually several already have. I also have some younger friends, but now I’m playing the role of old fart whether I like it or not. My grandfather always told me I’d be able to know when I was getting older when cops started looking younger and hot young chicks would talk to me and flirt openly because I was no longer a serious threat.

I can already feel the pages turning, especially professionally. A lot of comedy clubs are trying to attract younger customers and booking younger acts is a part of that. Just being funny isn’t the answer, and a lot of my peers that have spent their lives paying dues are feeling it too. It’s brutal.

Life seems to be a young man’s game more than ever before and that’s just how it is. I guess it always has been to a certain degree, but I never had to worry about it before. Now it’s hitting me where I live, and all of the stupid mistakes I made in youth are about to start haunting me. Oh oh.

Having that fail safe ‘plan B’ to ‘fall back on’ I didn’t think I’d need sure would come in handy right about now. It wouldn’t have hurt me to have developed a diligent saving habit either. I only had thirty years to come up with one, but of course I didn’t because “I would always have time”.

A lot of people I’ve talked to that are older than me have said it’s scary how everything sneaks up so quickly, but when it’s on one’s back porch it’s there to stay. Youth is a scarce commodity and when it’s gone it’s GONE. Hopefully there’s enough wisdom left over for the rest of the trip.

I think I have acquired a fair amount of smarts, and now it’s up to me to transfer life fuels from the exuberance and boldness of youth to the wily ways of experience. I’ve always been far more comfortable in this mode, and I think I have a more than good chance to win if I do it correctly.

Today I just enjoyed the company of good friends and whatever family I have. Marc Schultz is several years older than me, but we’ve become very good friends. He threw a lunch party in my honor and some local performers came and we had a great time. Everyone there was my senior.

Then I drove to Stevens Point, WI to have a dinner in my honor with my cousin Leah and her husband Rob and their daughter Janine. My cousin Brett was there too, and I was the oldest one at that table and they all let me know it more than once. This was a birthday of deep reflection.