Posts Tagged ‘Salt Lake City’

On An Upswing

March 7, 2013

Tuesday March 5th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The entertainment business – and life itself – is a constant series of upswings and downswings. It’s a roller coaster ride, with the only constant being change. I remember meeting Kenny Rogers years ago when I was living in Salt Lake City, and he had the best attitude I’ve ever seen. He had been in the business for decades and learned to keep an even keel no matter what was happening.

“I’ve been around so long, I’ve experienced every possible kind of up and down anyone could ever imagine,” he said. “I never get too cocky when I’m up or depressed when I’m down because I know it never lasts either way. Sooner or later the tide will turn, and change will come again.”

I never forgot that, and meeting him was a real thrill. We got to spend time with him backstage, and it was very educational. I was working at a country radio station then, and we had the typical backstage meet and greet for listeners who had won tickets. Kenny handled it like the total pro he is, and made everyone – including my co-host and me – feel like we’d been his friend for years.

I’m on a major upswing now, and it couldn’t come at a better time. I haven’t experienced all of the amazing ups a Kenny Rogers has, but I’ve had some and they were fantastic. The times I had a radio job and was able to do comedy along with it were the best, as I had plenty of money to go around and that alone has a way of making life better on all levels. I could get used to that again.

I’ve had my share of down times too. Sometimes it seems like more than my share, but that’s a part of life as well. Bad breaks happen to everyone at some point, and it’s how a person reacts to them that determines how life will turn out in the long run. I’m seeing that now, and after all this time I’m finally feeling like I’m at least starting to have a clue as to how this big game is played.

This next little while is going to be crucial in determining how the rest of my life works out. If I play the game correctly – and I think I can – I’ll be able to finish strong and win. All of the ugly mistakes I made can be turned around, and rather than blame them I will use them as education.

Quite honestly, I did a lot of stupid things through the years and most were deeply rooted in my anger and need to ‘get even’ with the hand life dealt me. I was determined to show everyone who doubted (mainly my father) that I was indeed worth something and would show them in person.

What a waste of time and energy that all was, as my father died and never did think I amounted to anything that pleased him anyway. I could have gotten The Tonight Show instead of Jay Leno, and my father still would have thought I should have gotten a tattoo and been a biker like he was.

If there is any real ‘secret’ to life, I think it’s that we all have to please ourselves and hope that at some point we catch that lucky break everyone hopes for and our dreams come true. I’m about to do a run of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows in my hometown at the nicest venue there is. I am also going to get to be ‘The King of Uranus’ at a hockey game next week. If nobody else likes any of that, too bad. I’m ecstatic, and I think I can parlay both into more fun and income in the future if I handle myself correctly now. It’s taken a lifetime to get this far, I want to enjoy every minute.

Watered Down Thoughts

August 10, 2010

Sunday August 8th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

I’m in a low mood and I really shouldn’t be. But I am. I’m trying to figure out what did it but I don’t think it was just one thing. It’s a lot of little things coming together, but they add up and now I’m feeling lower than a cricket‘s pecker. I hope I’m not in another funk.

Part of it is deep down I really don’t want to go out on the ship, especially for as long as I’m going. I really do appreciate the work and everyone there has been wonderful to work with, it’s just that the timing seems to be wrong. I would have loved this ten years ago.

Even five years ago when I got fired from the radio gig at The Loop. I had money saved then, and I would have saved more and been sitting pretty right now and not had to really do much of anything I didn’t want to do. I think I would have appreciated it a lot more.

I still do, and I’ll get to see some exotic places, even if it is in the dead of summer when it’s as hot as it gets. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some additional bookings at the peak times when it’s winter in the north. Eventually, I hope to be able to schedule myself whenever I want.

I guess a lot of it boils down to freedom too. Money equals freedom of choice. I had the world by the t’aint just a few years ago, and I really didn’t know it. I was totally debt free when I went to Salt Lake City in 2000, and that’s when everything started to disintegrate.

I had a nice radio gig making $50K a year, not great for a morning show in that size of a market, but very good for a cockroach like me used to piecing weeks together. I also did a lot of comedy out there, and lived off of that money and banked 100% of my radio salary.

I had a nice apartment a mile from where I worked and a nice girlfriend and a shiny red Cadillac I paid cash for and life was on the up. I was saving money every week, then I got snaked into buying a house. That’s when it all came crashing down. Hard. It took a while, but eventually I lost the job and the house went a few months later. I’ve struggled since.

Then I got the job at The Loop which turned things in a good way again. I started saving the radio money and again living on my comedy gigs. That turned things around in a short time, and life was again on the upswing. I was used to living like a bug and was in heaven knowing my car was paid for and I was putting money away every week. That’s success.

I had zero debt and $40K in the bank and was just ending my first year and hoping we’d get signed to our second contract, which we would have done if the company hadn’t been sold. Instead of showing us respect, they showed us the door and it hasn’t been anywhere close to the same since. My partners Max and Spike have had to struggle just as I have.

That was five years ago now, and it’s never going to come back. I didn’t think it would at the time, but I sure didn’t expect it to play out like it did. I’ve had to piece and paste all my life together month by month, trying to find the next somewhat steady gig. It looks to be the cruise ships, so I won’t complain. I’ll be grateful and go in and give my best work.

Bookings Overdue

June 4, 2010

Wednesday June 2nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Day two of my umpteen thousandth life reboot program, and this is where it usually has a tendency to fall apart. It’s difficult to do anything consistently, especially something this complicated and ambitious. I want to revolutionize my whole life, and that‘s no small job.

I did get my fanny back in the mall and take my lap, and that’s a good thing. I felt every bit of it, but at least I did it. Two days won’t make me into an Olympian, but it’s two days in a row. Now I need three. Then a week. Then a month, two months, a year and so forth.

My tendencies have always leaned toward action, but lack of a big picture plan is one of my major weaknesses. My friend Bill Mihalic sent me an email a year ago telling me how he thought I could achieve my goals, and I was grateful he did. He sent me another saying a lot of the same things and that’s probably a hint that I haven’t executed his suggestions.

I really think my intentions are good, but I’m just so damn scattered. I’ve always had to make my own way in life, and I’ll admit my trust issues even now are very evident. I have to survive month to month, and it’s hard to think anywhere past that, although I know I’m not smart in not doing that. I’m a one man band, and that’s just not going to get it done.

The best race car driver in the world needs a pit crew. I’m to the point where I need one too. I’ll have to pay them, and I don’t mind that at all – but I need to up my income quite a bit for that to happen. I need to delegate tasks, but still be in control of the steering wheel.

That’s where I’m having my problem. I just don’t trust people. Part of it comes from my childhood I’m sure. My mother abandoned me when I was five months old, and that’s had to have had a ripple effect somewhere. If I can’t trust my own mother, who else is there?

Then there was my childhood best friend Timbo who robbed the bank where he used to work and tried to blame it on me. He was closer than my own flesh and blood brother and when I had to testify against him in court it not only broke my heart, it built even more of a brick wall around my heart and made letting people in even harder. That one really hurt.

It’s the same with women too. Every woman I’ve ever dated has at some point said that they’re frustrated because I don’t ‘let her in’. And I guess I don’t. I’m very guarded with a lot of my inner delicate intimate things that get shared between people that are close, both in love and in business. When I have opened up, even a little, I’ve gotten boned big time.

I still haven’t gotten over my ex business partner’s little embezzlement stunt that really put me in the trick bag. I had to start completely over with a new website, mailing list and a few thousand dollars less than I had before due to his sticky fingers. Trust is a big issue.

Still, I’m going to have to learn to deal with this if I’m going to make any real progress. I have to pick my battles, and some things I’m going to have to just let go of and let other people have control. I thought about this the whole time I was walking through the mall.

Where I can make my biggest change for the good is how I deal with all of this. I’m not the first person in history to have trust issues. I read where Dick Van Dyke never let even his brother Jerry inside his personal inner world. Who knows why that is? Dick Van Dyke is also a creative type, left handed, and maybe some of it just goes with how we’re built.

This is deep stuff, and probably boring for most to read, but I’m delving into it because I know I’m not the only one who deals with this. Not only the trust issues, but also having major dissatisfaction with most areas of life. Rather than accept it, I want to conquer it.

Two days of a little exercise is good, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I need to keep that up, but also start implementing more regimented things a little bit at a time. I can’t do it all in a day or a week or even a year, but I can make daily progress and this is part of it.

One major flaming mess in my life that needs cleaning up very badly is the entire way I go about my comedy business from a booking standpoint. I flat out SUCK at it, so it sure won’t be difficult to make major strides in a very short time. I can really use a fresh start.

Most entertainers absolutely despise both dealing with bookers and the whole booking process itself, myself included, but it’s a necessary evil so the smart thing to do is learn to embrace it. It really isn’t all that difficult, it’s a matter of persistence. It’s a sales process, and that’s not a bad thing. Some people sell widgets or doorknobs, I sell my comedy act.

I have a lot of self help audio, and I listened to a fantastic program today by one of my favorite authors named Joe Girard. He’s ‘the world’s greatest salesman’ because he sold cars for years and set all kinds of records. I like his approach and really listened to what he had to say with a whole new interest. It lit a fire under me and I need one about now.

Part of my problem is that I’ve achieved enough of a reputation where bookers now call me. That’s great in one way, but also stopped me from pushing myself to pursue the best gigs for the top pay in the best venues. I’ve always been able to get by with minor effort.

Now, I’m in a position where I need to totally revamp and reinvent myself. I can use an entire makeover of my sales prospects, press kit and sales package, method of contacting those who can book me, and schedule of when to do it. Waiting for a call out of the blue worked for a lot longer than it should have, and I’m lucky it did. Now I need some skills.

I can think of about ten bookers I could call immediately, and probably get some work just for calling. I haven’t been to Salt Lake City for Keith Stubbs at Wiseguys in a while, and there’s no reason for it other than I haven’t called him. He usually calls me, but he’s got a new baby and a radio show and he’s got his own life. He’d book me immediately.

He has a friend in Seattle, and I know I could get that one too. Calgary is another club I enjoy and haven’t been there in a while for no good reason. Houston is another. Nashville Zanies is another. Indianapolis. Reno. KC. These are just places I haven’t called in a long time. There’s a whole list of other places I’ve never called at all. I’ve got my work to do.

There’s Life On Uranus!

February 4, 2010

Wednesday February 3rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Milwaukee, WI

I’m in a splendiferistic place in my head right now and I never want to leave. Things are falling into place in many areas and I can feel that I’m in the prime of my life. That might end before the weekend, or last for thirty years. Either way, I‘m feeling at peace TODAY.

Maybe this is the manic part of manic depression, but I don’t feel that way. I’ve had ups and downs my whole life, but this is different. There is just an inner energy that is pulsing through me that is completely engulfing me in a feeling of confidence, direction and dare I say it – love. That’s a powerful word, but that’s how I’m describing what I’m feeling.

What really put me in a good frame of mind this morning was getting an email from my web guy for the Uranus website Mark Huelskamp. We’ve been going back and forth for a couple of weeks now, and he’s taken control of this project from my friend Shelley who’d been helping me before. Shelley has been great, but I needed to take it to a higher level.

Shelley has a job and family and was doing it to help me as a friend. I totally appreciate that, but if I’m going to make a dream happen, I have to dive in all the way. Mark does it for a living, and he’s the brother in law of my comedian friend Jim McHugh. I don’t trust a lot of people, but Jim I do and he’s the one who set us up. Today I was thrilled he did.

Mark sent me about 2000 different fonts to look at and a few mockup website templates and we went back and forth on it for a while. Today he sent me the final product and it hit me right between the eyes. He nailed it and I just about started crying. It was exactly what I wanted. It has great eye appeal and is what I had pictured all along. It lit up my being.

This whole project has taken a lot longer than I expected and cost a lot more money that I don’t have to pay for things I didn’t want to buy. I first thought of it all the way back on September 1st, 2007 at the Baymont Inn in Salt Lake City. It’s taken over two years to get it this far, and I still haven’t sold the first product yet. That being said, I know it’ll work.

I’ve experimented a little with the concept and have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone who has seen it. Uranus is funny. Period. It always has been, and I don’t care if they try to change the pronunciation for the kids today. It’s a giant butt joke and there are endless ways to get to it. Now it’s my job to find as many of them as I can.

I didn’t invent Uranus jokes, but I’m going to claim them for my own. David Letterman didn’t invent the top ten list, but he made that his own. He claimed it, and it became what most people know his show for. Good for him, a trademark is not easy to acquire. It’s not something someone sits down with a pen and pad and makes up. It just kind of happens.

That’s how this idea came about. I was in the shower and it hit me out of nowhere but I was smart enough to listen and get out and start writing it down. Ideas kept flowing and I kept writing, and I still have all those notes today. I just haven’t done as much with them as I should have, and I wish I knew why. I’ve been very inconsistent, but not anymore.

Looking at that website template sent electricity through my veins. I actually got to SEE it with my own eyes, and I knew right there I was going to make it happen. I have no idea how I’m going to do it, and/or why I’m so confident, but I just know. It’s a great feeling.

I’ve got a ton of work ahead of me and I’m sure there will be crisis situations and every problem I never expected, but I’m not worried about any of that. I’m GOING to do this, if for no other reason than because it’s fun. I thought of it, I like it, and I’m doing it. Period.

That’s totally what life is all about, or at least I think it should be. Whether I ever make a nickel or not, it’s already been a success. It’s made a ton of people laugh who’ve heard of it and nothing else. I had a Uranus bumper sticker on the car I wrecked and all kinds of people beeped and gave me a thumbs up and even took pictures of it with a cell phone.

What I have to do is create an entire world around Uranus. See? That’s funny just to say out loud. Try it. And guess what? I’m the KING! How cool is that? What does a King Of Uranus exactly do? I haven’t figured that out yet. Why is there a King? Beats me. What’s so great is that nobody else knows either. I get to make it up and decide on all of it. Cool!

I guess I’m getting the chance to be a kid I never got when I was that age. There was all that ugliness and dysfunction going on that I had to grow up before I got a chance to blow all this juvenile poo out of my system when I was nine like I should have. It’s still in there all these years later, and it’s taken root in my soul. I’m having fun just thinking about this.

I had lunch in Chicago today with Marc Schultz. He saw how excited I was, and he said he’s never seen me so giddy about anything, even being on The Late Late Show last year. I have to admit, he’s right. This is THE most fun I’ve ever had in my life, and it isn’t even an actual entity yet. It’s getting there, and today was a big step. But, it’s still not a reality.

I drove up to Milwaukee to have dinner with my cousin Brett. We don’t get time to just sit and talk so tonight was a treat. He saw how much I was glowing and I tried to figure it all out with him. He’s known me his whole life, and has seen the ups and downs. He’s an amazingly creative guy and we’re on a similar wavelength. He sees what I’m trying to do.

The one thing we agreed on was that anger toward the past and especially our fathers is not the answer, and never was. Maybe that’s what’s gone from my life and I’m finally in a position to enjoy the good things of life rather than be consumed by bitterness as I was for a lot of years. I missed out on a lot of good things, but I don’t feel I’m missing them now.

We had a Chinese buffet and it was delicious. Then we went to Leon’s and had sundaes and they were even better. I am realizing that the journey IS the happiness, and chasing is where the fun and adventure in any project is. I’ve now got the best chase I’ve ever had!

I’ve still got bills and rent and troubles and clutter and everything I had before I had my revelation today or whatever it was. The thing is, I don’t care about any of those things at all. I care about bringing this concept to life. My creative energy has an outlet in Uranus!