Posts Tagged ‘Rush Limbaugh’

Jerry Seinfeld

April 30, 2014

Tuesday April 29th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Yesterday I mentioned that it was Jay Leno’s birthday and how he was the king of the comedy club boom of the ‘80s – and he was. Today it’s the birthday of the prince – Jerry Seinfeld. Those two ruled the roost in the glory years, and everybody else was choking on their exhaust fumes.

I find it beyond remarkable the two of them were born only a day apart. I don’t know if there’s anything to astrology or not, but this makes me take notice just as the fact that Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh share the same birthday January 12th. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it sure is odd.

Just because Jay was looked upon as the king of that era, there was no shame whatsoever in all Jerry was doing. He was working most if not all the same top level venues Jay was, and raking in hefty coin himself. I never saw any check stubs, but neither was sleeping in his car. They did ok.

Again, just like with Jay I was informed of Jerry’s greatness through my association with Rick Uchwat who owned Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago. Rick was a father figure to comedians of all eras, and Jay and Jerry were like his oldest sons. Both have spoken highly of Rick just as I do, and Rick gushed in return when it came to both of them. Jerry wasn’t that far behind Jay’s status.

Like Jay, Jerry was a meticulous trooper who was relentless about working constantly. The two saw comedy as a business a lot sooner than most of us do, and kudos to them for doing it. If there was one thing that wasn’t a joke to either it was standup comedy. They had the correct mindset.

Just like I think Jay gets unfairly sniped from people that only judge him by the Tonight Show, Jerry gets lumped in with the countless sea of bad comedians that copied his style. I know quite a few people that don’t care for Jerry’s standup, and I always tell them that they should look again.

It’s fine not to care for someone’s individual style, I’m like that too. There are some comedians I don’t enjoy at all, even though they’re huge names. That’s fine, but it doesn’t mean I don’t look at what they do and study it. Just because I don’t like a certain act doesn’t mean I don’t respect it.

I happen to really like and respect Jerry Seinfeld’s act, and in fact I use one of his routines as a classic example of a quality comedy bit for my classes. Even those that didn’t like him before are usually converted when I break down what he did and how he did it. The man is an all time great and even if he didn’t have his monster sitcom he’d still have lots to be proud of. He’s a megastar.

And like Jay and me – he is also left handed. I don’t have anything in common with those two financially, but as far as creativity goes I have to believe we are cut from the same cloth. Lefties are wired to have careers based on creativity. It doesn’t mean righties can’t have success too, but they’re the exception. We’re the rule. It makes perfect sense that both of these guys are lefties.

I have been fortunate to have a chance to meet and open for both Jay and Jerry and it was a real treat. Neither would remember me now, but I sure remember them. I learned from watching them both, and I give them the big props they deserve. From a performer’s viewpoint, they are royalty.

Never mind his enormously successful sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld is one of the all time greats of standup comedy. Period.

Never mind his enormously successful sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld is one of the all time greats of standup comedy. Period. That’s no small feat.

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.

Air Waves

December 11, 2012

Monday December 10th, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   Back in the radio groove. I received a text message from Jim Stone asking if I’d be available to fill in this week on the 3pm to 5pm shift on WNTA in Rockford, IL, and although I was still tired to the bone from my stress riddled epic drive through the elements yesterday I said yes anyway.

I really like and respect Jim, and whatever I can do to help I will. He’s the Operations Manager for all the stations at Maverick Media in Rockford, and that’s not an easy job. He has all kinds of annoying details to look after in addition to hosting his own morning show on WXRX ‘The X’.

Whatever Jim gets paid isn’t enough, but that’s radio for 99.999% of those who ever get in it as a career. Dreams of signing a bazillion dollar Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh type deal are just that – dreams. Howard and Rush do fine, but everyone else has to squeak out whatever they can.

So many insane cuts have been made in the radio business in the last several years that anyone who still has a job actually has about three as that’s how much work they’re doing. Every station I know of is a skeleton crew, and nobody knows when those next cuts will come – but they will.

I heard from some of my radio friends that the Clear Channel evil empire executed yet another round of nationwide cuts last week – just in time for Christmas. If there is indeed a hell and those heartless reptiles aren’t occupying ringside seats next to Satan along with Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer and my father, then I don’t want to go to heaven. I don’t see how they can live with themselves.

It’s not just Clear Channel either, but they’re the big one. They’ve got stations in markets of all sizes from coast to coast, and I’ve felt their wrath myself. I was shown the door in Salt Lake City in 2001, and I still don’t see the reason for it other than they want to exist on the extreme cheap.

Pesky details like putting out a quality product have never been the issue. All they look for are ways to continually trim the budget and eliminate the presence of human beings. It’s beyond my comprehension how they can continue to be allowed to butcher what used to be a business filled with creative, intelligent and interesting people, but they totally do. Can someone please stop it?

I saw the list of some of the talent that got gassed in this latest purge, and it made my stomach turn to see how out of control it’s getting. Local icons that have been at the same station for years or even decades are being flushed like truck stop toilets all over the country and it disgusts me.

I’ve been on that chopping block myself, and it usually happens around the holidays to make it all the more excruciating. My heart goes out to all those people who gave of themselves for years only to be tossed away like chewed gum. Radio itself is the ultimate loser for it, but doesn’t care.

Good people with talent are getting screwed over, but I don’t see it stopping any time soon. I’d love to have a full time job with decent pay in a big market, but I don’t see it happening to me or very many others in the near future. I’ll continue to get my radio fix whenever Jim Stone decides to call, but it’s only a part time proposition. He’s lucky to have a job himself, and he knows that.