Posts Tagged ‘Sam Kinison’

A Missed Connection

November 6, 2013

Tuesday November 5th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

Imagine the feeling of going on a lifelong journey that took all your energy, dedication and free time for close to thirty long years, but right at the end you realized you were on the wrong vessel. You were supposed to catch a connecting ship years ago, but for whatever reason you missed it.

The reason itself isn’t important, but you arrive at what you thought was your final destination and there isn’t anyone at the dock to ask for directions, and there are NO refunds for the trip. It’s over, and there you are alone with a suitcase full of dirty underwear and empty shampoo bottles.

It’s a devastating combination of both total shock and extreme disappointment, and an ice cold slap in the face sending you into a deep panic mode. There are only a precious few stray bills left in your wallet, and all your credit cards are maxed to the hilt. You assumed there would be a big welcoming party at the dock and you’d get a significant expense check, but that never happened.

What to do now? There you are all alone at the dock exhausted from what you thought was the triumphant journey of a lifetime, but instead you find yourself back where you started. It’s thirty years later, and everything has changed. Nobody cares about your story – you’re just in the way.

That’s exactly how I felt after my show tonight at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago. I thought it was going to be a shining highlight of my professional life, but instead it was a bitter reminder of how cruel life and especially show business can be. Only a few ever get to taste the real big time.

Zanies is celebrating their 35th anniversary month, and bringing in some really tremendous acts as they’ve done for 35 years. Tonight it was the “Chicago Killers” which included “Uncle” Larry Reeb, Tim Walkoe and me. I was thrilled to be included on such a lineup of classic Chicago acts.

The three of us have been regular Zanies acts for decades, and are what booker Bert Haas likes to refer to as “bangers”. We go up and consistently bang out rock solid shows no matter what the crowd conditions are, and he knows he can count on us getting laughs and pleasing the audience.

Tonight was the first time the three of us had ever been booked to be on one show, and that’s a big deal – or at least I thought it was. It would be like three popular rock bands putting together a special one night only show. One would think it would be an event and be able to create a buzz.

To top it off, hosting the show tonight was another long standing club headliner Jimmy Shubert out of Philadelphia. Jimmy has been out there as long as I have, and at one time toured with Sam Kinison in the heyday along with the whole Texas Outlaw crew. He’s another big time “banger”.

Between the four of us, there was more than 100 years of comedy experience on that stage, and I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of an all star cast like that. From top to bottom, that’s about the strongest lineup of club comedians I could ever picture. If anything, I would be the weakest link.

I would think that show should be sold out for months, or at least have a line that winds around the block tonight trying to score tickets. In a city of millions, there aren’t 100 fans of the standup comedy variety that would come out to see a first ever once in a lifetime all star monster lineup?

Apparently not. The show was not even close to being a sellout, and Zanies isn’t all that big of a venue. I think the capacity is maybe around 110, but I’m not exactly sure. Still, I was surprised it wasn’t jam packed – even with newbies coming up the ranks. Every new comedian in Chicago should have been there, if for no other reason than to see what a dead end club comedy really is.

Here you’ve got an all star lineup of heavy hitters on the comedy club scene, and nobody came out to see us. Not fans. Not the media. Not even other comedians that think that’s what they want to aspire to be. Tuesdays at Zanies are traditionally “Good Neighbor Night” where they let in the people who live in the zip codes near the club for a very low cover charge. That’s who came out.

There could have been anything on the bill, and they wouldn’t have known the difference. That totally stomps on any remaining shred of ego or self esteem any one of us may have come to the club with tonight, but it was painfully evident that there was nothing at all special about the show to these people. We all had to work like hell to even keep their attention, but we’re used to that.

All of us have been doing shows like that since we started, so it was no big deal. We all did our time, and did it extremely well. I watched the whole show, and all three of the other guys had me laughing out loud – and that’s nearly impossible after spending my life seeing standup comedy.

Those guys are world class performers, and master craftsmen all. I marveled at the smoothness of their acts, and they were all very complimentary to me as well. It was a treat to watch them all work, but the audience sure didn’t act like it. They were pretty stiff actually, and it was a chore.

Martin Balion has been the manager of the Chicago Zanies for decades, and he’s seen it all just like we have. Everybody loves Martin, and with good reason. He’s as laid back as they come and treats us like royalty. He knows more about comedy than most comedians, and immediately after I got off stage he took me aside and told me how far I’ve come and how hilarious he thinks I am.

Martin has seen all of us literally HUNDREDS of times, but to hear that from him put a pep in my step and made me feel like my life wasn’t a total waste after all. It sure felt like it on stage as I was working myself into a lather trying to loosen up a stiff crowd that wasn’t there to see me.

Nobody was there to see any of us, and that’s a crushing blow. There was a lady named Susan Bruno who used to work at a club called Who’s On First years ago, and she was there for Larry and Tim. My friend Joe Nuccio showed up, as he knows Tim and me. Other than that, there were ZERO fans of any of us and that totally rocked my world. What the hell did I do with my life?

I rode to the club with Tim Walkoe, and after I dropped him off at his house I openly wept all the way home. What an idiot I’ve been all these years thinking there was going to be some kind of payoff at the end of this long brutal journey I started all those years ago. I only fooled myself.

It’s not Zanies or any other club’s job to make anyone famous. It’s the act’s job to find the way to parlay his or her skills into something that can in turn become a draw where people will pay to see them years later in those same clubs where they started. For me I thought that draw would be radio, but I’ve got a whole other horror story on that subject. It never happened, and now here we all are with really great acts and nobody knows who we are. New comics should learn from this.

'Uncle Lar' Larry Reeb - a Chicago classic and one of the funniest comedians in America.

‘Uncle Lar’ Larry Reeb – a Chicago classic and one of the funniest comedians in America.

Ditto Tim Walkoe. A master at his craft, and also a talented musician.

Ditto Tim Walkoe. A master at the standup comedy craft, and also a very talented musician.

Jimmy Shubert used to tour with Sam Kinison and the Texas Outlaws. Go see him whenever you can.

Jimmy Shubert used to tour with Sam Kinison and the Texas Outlaws. Go see him whenever you can.


Distinguished Pedigree

October 23, 2013

Wednesday October 16th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

I’m back headlining at Zanies in Chicago this week, and it never gets old. That stage has a long and distinguished pedigree since 1978, and everyone who is anyone in comedy from Jay Leno to Jerry Seinfeld to Richard Lewis to Robert Klein to Sam Kinison and countless others have stood on the very stage I am privileged to stand on eight more times this week. This place is legendary.

It’s like an athlete getting to play in a storied structure like Yankee Stadium or Lambeau Field. One can feel the aura of history just walking in the place, and that’s what I feel whenever I walk into Zanies – even though I’ve done it hundreds of times. There’s still a magic vibe in the place.

The walls are covered with 8×10 signed photos of acts that have performed there over all these years, and it’s a virtual history of the comedy industry. Most every big star one can think of is up there, and they all look unbelievably young with pictures most of the public hasn’t seen before.

Jay Leno’s picture looks like it’s from his high school graduation, as do several others. A lot of the acts are dead now, and there are also a lot of others that most people have never heard of. I’m on the wall too, and it’s one of my earliest promo shots in a tuxedo of all things. I’m embarrassed whenever anyone sees it, but Zanies refuses to take it down. They say they’ll replace it if I try.

Part of the charm of a long running comedy club is to see the pictures of the comedians who’ve been around a while and look at how they’ve progressed. The Punch Line in Atlanta has some of the oldest promo pictures I’ve ever seen, and there are quite a few that I had never seen before.

For reasons of which I am still unsure, I am one of the Zanies family. I sure didn’t plan on that when I started, and I’m sure they didn’t either. It just kind of grew unexpectedly over decades of working together, and now I’m ingrained in the DNA. I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else.

That doesn’t mean I’m bullet proof and I could easily get booted tomorrow, but I’d have to do something pretty bad to make that happen. We’ve got enough history with each other that we’re like an old married couple. We’ve learned to live with one another and there’s a comfort level.

Is it good or bad? It just “is”. There’s an Improv Comedy Club in Schaumburg, IL and I’d love to work there and every other Improv in America. What comedian wouldn’t? They have some of the most gorgeous comedy rooms ever built, and have a nationally recognized name. I might get a chance to work some of the others someday, but not in Chicago. I’m a loyal Zanies act. Period.

I just received word I was bestowed a huge honor by being chosen to be one of three comics on Zanies’ 35th anniversary show November 5th along with Larry Reeb and Tim Walkoe. That made my year, and I’m thrilled to be included in such distinguished company. Those guys are as funny as it gets, and are classic Chicago acts. To be part of that show is like being “made” in the Mafia.

True fans of Chicago standup comedy will get to see a show nobody has ever seen before. I’ve worked with both those guys many times before, but the three of us have never performed on one show on the same night. That’s a rock solid lineup, and I’m looking forward to us all knocking it out of the park for Zanies’ anniversary. I’m SO excited! Get your tickets early.

Zanies Comedy Club on Wells Street in Old Town Chicago. It's a cathedral of comedy.

Zanies Comedy Club on Wells Street in Old Town Chicago. It’s a cathedral of comedy.

Who's this idiot? I have NO idea.

Who’s this idiot? I have NO idea.

Carl LaBove

October 7, 2013

Saturday October 5th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

I don’t ever intend to stop being a student of the standup comedy game, and that means I won’t ever stop learning – and hopefully growing. I remember seeing an interview with Keith Richards where he had the enthusiasm of a nine year old as he spoke about still learning guitar techniques.

I had that same enthusiasm tonight as I watched Carl LaBove headline at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL for two rocking shows. I have been a fan of Carl’s for decades, and tonight was a refresher course for why that is. He put on a clinic, and I took notes as he lit up both audiences.

There are so many things I like about Carl as a performer I almost don’t know where to start. It doesn’t even include the things I like about him as a person, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. He could be an arch criminal who tortures kittens, but I’d still admire his performing skills.

For those that don’t know, Carl was one of the original “Texas Outlaw” comedians along with Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and several others who started in or around Houston in the early ‘80s. It would have been very easy to mimic the style of someone as influential as Kinison or Hicks, but Carl was and has always been completely true to himself as a performer. His style is all his own.

That’s difficult enough as it is, but being in the shadow of not one but two legendary acts is an oddity for the ages. If anything, Carl had influence on them because of his amazing performance skills and natural stage instincts. He’s a trained actor, and freely taps into that to add to his show.

I’ve never seen any comedian act out a premise better than Carl. He becomes the character he’s talking about in a particular bit, and often takes it farther than where 99% of other acts would go. It’s a joy to watch – especially since I know what he’s doing. The audience doesn’t have a clue.

Acting out a bit is a way to add extreme depth to a comedic idea, and I’m getting a lot better at it myself in recent years. It’s a technique I didn’t naturally embrace at the beginning, but it’s now one of my favorite ingredients to add to my own comedic stew. Some acts use it, others won’t.

I love Dennis Miller’s style, but he didn’t act out one bit when I saw him last week. He stood at the microphone and rattled off a series of jokes. They were great jokes, but that was it. Carl is all over the stage like a jumping bean, and uses every inch of it as his playground. I’m like that too.

There’s no real right or wrong in either style, but I find Carl’s and my way a lot more freeing to be able to have more performance tools to utilize in a given situation. Dennis chooses to do what he does, and it’s been tremendously successful. It’s like a band choosing to include horns or not.

Another strength I admire about Carl is that each performance he gives is his individual gift to that particular audience. Small or large, he crafts each show to the fit of the room and whether an audience knows it or not they’re seeing art being made in front of them. Very few acts can do it.

Carl’s jokes are funny, but combined with his dynamic act outs and individual improvisational skills, he’s an absolute monster and one of the best acts I’ve ever seen. Why he isn’t a household name is beyond me, but I’ll always be a fan. I hope you’ll enjoy him too.

Carl LaBove - a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.

Carl LaBove – a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.

If you can't see him live, Carl's CD 'I Used To Be An Outlaw, What Happened?' is really funny too.

If you can’t see him live, Carl’s CD ‘I Used To Be An Outlaw, What Happened?’ is really funny too.

Hidden Comedy Gems

October 5, 2013

Thursday October 3rd, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

Once again Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago have come through when I could use some work the most, and gratitude permeates my entire being. I’ve got several random fill in dates scattered through the rest of the year, and I couldn’t be happier. I can pay some bills but still remain local.

The openings are at all three of their Chicago area clubs and at all positions on the shows. One night I might be the headliner, and the very next I might feature or host. Normally that’s not how a club books an act and it’s a dangerous game to play politically, but Zanies and I have a history.

They know I’m a strong headliner, and I have nothing to prove. They also know I am versatile enough to handle any role on any show, and won’t bitch about not headlining. I’m there to earn a living, and also to work on new material in a productive environment. Being an emcee or feature in good rooms is the ideal place to work out new bits, and I’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Every comedian wants to be the headliner, but it’s not easy to move up the ranks. I could write several articles about this tricky and delicate process, and I intend to in the not too distant future to benefit up and coming comedians. For now suffice to say I’m thrilled to get the local income.

I have several headline dates coming up soon, but this week I’m hosting three shows at the new Rosemont, IL location. I’m thrilled to be working with Carl LaBove, quite simply one of the best standup comedians in America. In my opinion, he should be a lot more well known than he is.

I’m always bitching and complaining about comedians I think should get more recognition, but I can’t help it. I know how difficult it is just to survive in this insidious business, but then there is a higher level of people with tremendous natural ability who are special. Carl is in that category.

I’m sure it’s the same with actors, musicians, athletes or any other competitive endeavor. There are all kinds of people who want to be stars, but very few have the ability, drive and luck to make it happen as they pictured. The magic formula is a combination of all three – and extremely rare.

I have frequently named all kinds of acts I think should be huge stars, and I mean it. My friend James Gregory in Atlanta is one. That guy hustles his business like nobody else, has a rock solid and hilarious stage character and can work clean. He should be on The Tonight Show, Ferguson, Letterman, Kimmel, Conan or any other show immediately. Find him at

Steve ‘Mudflap’ McGrew is another hidden treasure. That guy is world class funny, and I can’t figure out why he hasn’t popped on a big time level. Jimmy Shubert is another gem. Then there’s Dwayne Kennedy, Steve Seagren, Tim Northern, Beth Donahue, Tim Walkoe, Larry Reeb and a whole lot of others who are out there making people laugh week after week. They’re all warriors.

Carl LaBove is right there with all of them. I first met him when I was just starting out. He was best friends with Sam Kinison, and part of the ‘Texas Outlaws’ with Bill Hicks, Ron Shock and a few other guys from the ‘80s. Carl has an amazing life story which I won’t delve into, but it sure is worth checking out as is his hilarious act. He’s at Zanies in Rosemont, IL the rest of this week, and I will be watching every minute of every show he does. He’s a master.

Zanies is my 'home club'. They have been good to me for decades and I am very grateful.

Zanies is my ‘home club’. They have been good to me for decades and I am very grateful.

Check out my friend James Gregory 'The Funniest Man In America'

Check out my friend James Gregory ‘The Funniest Man In America’

The great Carl LaBove - quite simply one of THE best standup comics in America today. What a talent - and a great guy too.

The great Carl LaBove – quite simply one of THE best standup comics in America today. What a talent – and a great guy too.

Meeting Bob Uecker

September 22, 2013

Saturday September 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I have always admired Bob Uecker. I think he’s one of the absolute funniest humans of our time or any other time, and his multi faceted career of long lasting duration is about as impressive as it gets. He has long surpassed entertainment and is now part of American pop culture. Who hasn’t heard of ‘Uecker seats’? It’s part of our lexicon.

For whatever reason, people like to ask comedians who they think is funny. I’ve gotten that for as long as I’ve been a comedian – and that’s a long time. I don’t know why that should matter to anyone, but apparently it does. I’m a fan of the business and a student of the game, so I like a lot of different people for different reasons and many of those people are not known to the masses.

Anyone not in the business wouldn’t care about those reasons, and I totally get it. It’s an inner circle thing, and nothing is more boring than listening to someone prattle on with shop talk when they’re not in the same business. What the masses always want to hear are names of the famous.

I’ve been very lucky in my time to have either worked or crossed paths with some of the most famous comedians of the modern era including Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Jeff Foxworthy, Drew Carey, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and that’s not nearly a full list.

I don’t say this to brag, but I’ve been around the block a few times and crossing paths with all kinds of people goes with the territory. I could throw out hundreds of names nobody would care about except me and the people themselves, but that doesn’t capture imagintion like fame does.

Everyone always wants to know “what they’re like”. They’re people, and people are people on all levels. Some are nicer than others, and depending on the day and time you meet them they’re exactly like people are. I’ve rarely been in awe of meeting anyone famous for that exact reason.

As a result, my meetings with celebrities have traditionally gone very smoothly. I’ve treated all of them like people, and that’s how they responded. Only a very few times have I ever been even the slightest bit star struck, and even then in the end it turned out well. Again, they’re just people.

The Holy Trinity of funny people on my personal hero list that I’ve always wanted to meet are (in no particular order) Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin and Bob Uecker. I did get my chance to meet Rodney and George, and both were not only extremely warm and gracious but I also was able to make them laugh. The thrill of having that happen will stay with me the rest of my life.

Tomorrow, I am finally going to get my chance to meet Bob Uecker thanks to my friend Drew Olson. Drew was the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for years, and he’s said in the past he’d gladly make it happen. I’ve never liked asking for favors, but this time I did.

The last game of the season is tomorrow, and the Brewers are out of the playoff picture. I don’t like to bother people, but all I want is to shake Bob’s hand and tell him how much I admire what he has accomplished and what a fan I am of his work on so many levels. It would mean a lot, and if I would happen to be able to make him laugh even once it would make my year. Moments like this are what life is all about. I just hope I don’t stumble and stammer and make an ass of myself.

The great Bob Uecker. Thanks to my friend Drew Olson, I get to meet one of my all time heroes tomorrow!

The great Bob Uecker. One of the funniest humans or our time or any other time.

Thanks to my friend Drew Olson of 'The D-List' on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee, I get to meet one of my all time heroes!

Thanks to my friend Drew Olson of ‘The D-List’ on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee, I get to meet one of my all time heroes!

Old Reliable

August 18, 2013

Saturday August 17th, 2013 – St. Charles, IL

   In the constantly evolving world of standup comedy, we as performers get used to the ongoing soap opera drama of venues opening and closing over time. Anybody who lasts even a few years is able to name several places that used to do comedy shows that no longer do. It’s inevitable. It ranges from actual full time comedy clubs to one nighter hell gigs at biker bars in small towns.

   I couldn’t begin to count all the joints I’ve performed in that have not only discontinued doing comedy shows, but permanently closed their doors. I feel like “Fast Eddie” Felson, the character Paul Newman played in “The Color of Money”. Comedians and pool hustlers share the lifestyle of being nomadic transients drifting randomly across the country piecing together an existence.

   Of all the venues I’ve ever worked – and there are many – the one place I’ve probably worked the most is the Zanies Comedy Club at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. That one room sums up my career – or lack thereof – better than any other place. I’ve worked there for decades.

   It opened in the late ‘80s, but I don’t remember the exact year. Maybe it was ’88. Maybe it was ’89. It was somewhere around there. I was just a punk kid opening act then, and nothing to write home about. For whatever reason, I hooked up with the Zanies chain in Chicago and they would use me a lot. It wasn’t because I was particularly good. I think it was because I would show up.

   Zanies had several locations including Chicago in Old Town, Mt. Prospect, IL and eventually Vernon Hills, IL and I worked them all time and time again. Mt. Prospect and Vernon Hills have since closed, and a gorgeous new location has opened in Rosemont, IL. I’ve been there as well.

   But the stage I’ve worked the most by far through the years is at Pheasant Run. It’s a beautiful setup for comedy, and most performers love working there. The stage is large, and the lights and sound are excellent. It’s a long narrow room, but when it’s jamming the atmosphere is electric.

   I’ve had hundreds of my best shows on that stage, and there have been some clunkers too. I’ve grown exponentially as both a person and a performer since I started, and a lot of that growth – at least on stage – happened right there. It’s been my training ground, and I have learned my craft.

   On the downside, St. Charles, IL is not considered a comedy hotbed. Major motion picture and network TV executives don’t book first class flights to St. Charles to scout for new faces to turn into superstars. It’s not that kind of gig. Every comedian in America wants to play the downtown Zanies in Old Town, as it has history. Everyone from Leno to Seinfeld to Kinison worked there.

   There have been big stars at Pheasant Run, but it’s not the same. No offense to anyone, but it’s just not. I’ve had my share of working in Old Town, and I’m grateful to be counted among those who have played such a legendary venue. I worked my way up from opener to solid headliner.

   But whenever the chips were down and I needed a paycheck, I could always count on getting a booking in St. Charles. When I would lose a radio job or when I was recovering from my horrific car accident in 1993, Pheasant Run was where I got work and I’m still grateful for it to this day.

   Even last week I picked up the opening slot because Bert Haas knew I could use a payday. The late show headline spot tonight opened up, and I got called again. Bert could have called anyone else, but he called me. I can’t be any more grateful, and this is why I’ll always be loyal to Zanies.

My Comedy Training Ground

My Comedy Training Ground

Indy Excellence

July 8, 2013

Saturday July 6th, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN 

   I can’t say enough good things about the booking I have this weekend. Everything is absolutely outstanding, and I want to give credit where credit is due. These people are making an effort that I have rarely seen, and I hope they get paid off handsomely for their investment. They deserve it.

   Somebody stuck a LOT of money into this business. They have other locations in Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and soon to be in the western Chicago suburbs from what I hear. I’m not sure if that’s all the locations they plan to open and it’s none of my business, but they’ve put out a lot of cash.

   They’re promoting a concept of a one stop entertainment center, and it’s totally top shelf. They have an amazing variety of video games, a first rate bowling center, a sports bar with a delicious food menu and world class video system, and a live theatre setup where the comedy shows are.

   They also have live bands, and an excellent one was playing as we left the venue tonight. They recently booked Kelly Clarkson in the comedy room, and she drew extremely well from what the G.M. told us. This is no rinky dink setup, and I respect those who took the risk. It’s very gutsy.

   They’re doing it right, and it shows. They’re getting some very solid comedy acts such as Carl LaBove who was best friends with Sam Kinison. I love Carl both as a person and performer, and I see he’ll be here in a couple of weeks. I’m flattered to be booked at a venue of this high caliber.

   This doesn’t seem to be the time to launch a mega venture like this, but then again maybe it’s a perfect time for it. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a clueless pinhead as far as business acumen goes, so if I can’t see an idea clearly it probably means it will be a big time success. I hope this one is.

   Everyone to a person that we dealt with this weekend treated us like big stars from the General Manager Michael Curatolo down to the bus boys in the restaurant where they provided meals for us each night. The entire staff couldn’t have been nicer, and that made it a treat to perform here.

   Brian Hicks is an easygoing laid back chap just as I try to be, and together I can’t think of two more low maintenance comedians anywhere. Still, it felt great to be treated like this and we were not about to abuse it. We went out of our way to say thank you and leave tips when appropriate.

   Indianapolis has always been one of my favorite places to perform, but I haven’t been here in a long time. There has been a bumper crop of excellent comedy venues here since I started, and the town as a whole has been supportive of them all. I’m grateful to get an opportunity to come back, and I hope it’s not the last time. A booking like this makes being a comedian the best job around.

   What isn’t so great is trying to string them together and flesh out a whole year. If it worked like this every week, life would be peachy. It did for a long time, but not anymore. I wish I could find a way to clone gigs like this one, the Zanies clubs in Chicago and Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase. 

   This week and last week in Ann Arbor really helped to bail out my summer, and I hope to keep the momentum going and hit the ground running into fall. Two weeks in a row is a nice little run, and having them in quality places like this makes life fun again. This is how it should always be.

   Because it isn’t, I’m going to be extra thankful for all the perks this week from the luxury hotel to the delicious meals to the state of the art sound and light system.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Meeting Dusty Rhodes

May 10, 2010

Saturday May 8th, 2010 – St. Charles, IL

I’ve never hidden my deep affinity for old school professional wrestling. I loved it as a kid, and when I found out it was all predetermined I loved it even more. It was a fantastic show, and the more I got into performing myself the more I realized just how charismatic those guys really were. They built personas and used them to sell tickets to kids like me.

Over the years I’ve gotten to meet quite a few of my childhood pro wrestling heroes and the thrill never goes away. From Nick Bockwinkel to The Crusher to Baron Von Raschke to Ric Flair to ’Luscious Johnny’ and ’Handsome Jimmy’ Valiant, I admire them all still.

The only one who was in a salty mood when I met him was Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan. He was one of my all time faves, and to catch him on an off day was unfortunate. I got to shake his hand, but that’s about it. I’d heard he had surgery for throat cancer, and I didn’t want to give the guy any trouble. He’s suffered enough. I still think he’s an all time great.

Today I got the chance to not only meet ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes but have a pizza lunch with him at an appearance in St. Charles, IL at a Holiday Inn Express. I paid $50 for the chance and it was worth every penny. I heard about it on Facebook and signed up immediately. The date ended up getting moved to today, but I was still able to attend.

The lady who put it on is named Heather Klinger, and she delivered everything she said she would do. I was totally impressed at the way everything was handled, and it was a fun event all around. Her website is and I hope she keeps doing this. I know it’s difficult to coordinate something like this but it came off without a hitch.

Dusty Rhodes is right up there with the most charismatic wrestlers there ever was. He’s got the gift of gab and really uses it well. He was one of the best interviews of all time for his entire career, even though he never had the huge chiseled physique of a Hulk Hogan.

He was a regular Joe, and that was his gimmick. I remember him as a bad guy when he started, and he was known as ‘Dirty’ Dusty Rhodes. He was tag team partners with fellow Texan Dick Murdoch and they wrestled as ‘The Texas Outlaws’. Years later Sam Kinison borrowed that name in comedy for his band of traveling comedy friends. It fit both times.

Eventually Dusty became so popular he had to become a good guy. He put butts in seats and that’s what entertainment is all about. He did it again today, as probably sixty or more people paid $50 to meet him and get an autograph or photo. Afterward we were lead to an area where they brought out pizzas, and Dusty proceeded to hold court with the audience.

He was very entertaining and had some great stories. He took questions from those who had any, and the people in attendance were very respectful and asked good ones. It was an outstanding event from top to bottom, and I’m glad I did it. I got a chance to give him my CD and he said he’d listen to it. Whether he does or not, it was a very pleasant experience because he knew how to work the room. Everyone in attendance was a satisfied customer.