Posts Tagged ‘Schauer Center’

Calendar Alignment

February 11, 2014

Saturday February 8th, 2014 – Hartford, WI

For the second Saturday in a row, I did a well run benefit show for The Lions Club. This week it was in Hartford, WI at a beautiful facility called The Schauer Center. I’ve worked there before, but not in the same venue. It has multiple venues, and I played in one of the smaller ones the last time I was there. It was a full house and very well received, so I was delighted to be back again.

This time it was in their main theatre, which is gorgeous. It’s much bigger than where I worked last time, and there were probably the same amount of people so it wasn’t as impressive. I’m still glad I got a chance to work the big room, even if it wasn’t sold out. I enjoy playing bigger stages.

I had no idea this was a Lions Club fundraiser when I booked it, and in fact the way I got it was a bit of a fluke. I happened to throw out an offhand smartass comment on a Facebook post made by someone I recently friended, but hadn’t seen in person in more than twenty years. Someone in that person’s circle of friends saw it and recognized my name. He happened to book this event.

The person I made the comment to happens to live in Denver, but is from Milwaukee originally and so is the guy that saw it. His name is Phil Larsson and he used to be part of ‘Comedysportz’, a competitive improv group that was started in Milwaukee. He lived in Texas for decades but has now moved back to Wisconsin. All of that had to come together how it did to get this booking.

I’d met Phil years ago, but only briefly. To have him see my name like that and happen to have a gig on a night that I was open a month out is damn near miraculous. It’s amazing how when the mindset is in a positive space, things like this happen. I truly believe it’s because of all the recent events that have been happening with reconnecting with my family. It’s made all the difference.

Even if it hasn’t, I’m believing it is so that’s good enough. Maybe this would have worked out before, but I doubt it. How many other things like this have I missed because my mind wasn’t on the wavelength it should have been – but totally is now? I can’t worry about that. They’re gone.

The point is, they’re happening now and I know it. I claim it, and I see no reason why it won’t keep happening indefinitely. I see no reason to stop. I had a nice booking close to home on short notice, had a lot of fun doing it and helped raise money for a good cause. How could I top that?

By keeping it coming. I am still in my prime as far as performing goes, and can light up a room with the best of them when I’m on my game. I’m on it far more than I’m off, and I don’t want to miss even one opportunity to stay in shape and work whenever I can. Events like this are a blast.

The audiences now are reaping the benefits of the ones I ripped off years ago by being terrible. It’s a process all performers go through, and it’s painful. I wanted to be great when I started, but I was anything but. I was horrendous, but so is everyone else. The headliners then carried shows and I was nothing more than time filler. I was trying my best, but my skill level just wasn’t there.

Now I’m the one carrying shows, and the audiences today are reaping the benefits. They didn’t have to sit through my growing years – they only see the polished product now. “You sure make it look easy up there,” people often say. Well, looks are deceiving. Nothing worthwhile is easy.

For whatever reason, my booking calendar for 2014 has been filling up quite nicely. Two months down, ten to go. Knock wood.

For whatever reason, my booking calendar for 2014 has been filling up quite nicely. Two months down, ten to go. Knock wood.

One More Tomorrow

October 3, 2010

Thursday September 30th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL/Milwaukee, WI

The big debut is almost here. Tomorrow is the grand opening of the ‘Schlitz Happened’ show at the Schauer Center in Hartford, WI and I have mixed emotions about it. I’m very excited on one hand for the opportunity to do it, but on the other I know it’s not ready yet.

Unfortunately, the only way to get it ready is to get up on that stage tomorrow and do it. Then I need to do it again after tomorrow. And then again after that. And again and again,  whenever and wherever I can. The only way to make anything better is to keep doing it.

I can see myself really having a hit with this idea, even though it’s got a distinctly local audience. I know I’ll be able to plug right in with a certain group, but I don’t know where to take them when I do. What’s the structure? I don’t have one yet, and it will take time to build one that works consistently. I’ve got a lot of ingredients, but no working recipe yet.

I’ll have to fly by the seat of my pants, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that until it’s to my liking. More importantly, it has to be to the audience’s liking. I’ve got enough stage experience to not embarrass myself, but I know how I am. I don’t want to just squeak by.

My goal is to blow those people right off their chairs, through the solid steel doors and out into the parking lot. I want them to laugh so hard we’ll need paramedics to be on duty to nurse people back to health. I hope FEMA has to send helicopters to restore the peace.

I know I’m not going to get any of that, and it will probably bother me a little no matter how it goes. Realistically, I predict it will go fine. That particular audience is very polite, and last time it was a fantastic evening. I have no reason to believe this one won’t match it, but last time I had a full arsenal of polished standup bits to do. This time it’s different.

I may do just a few of the same bits, but not many. This isn’t billed as a standup show, it’s a one man show about growing up in Milwaukee. I want to have as much local stuff in it as I can, but also some personal stories of my childhood – of which all are not funny.

I’m not looking to make it a therapy session, but I do want to share some very amazing stories that I know will be fascinating for ‘normal’ people to hear. They have been on the street all these years, not I have to take them to the stage. It’s very delicate, but that’s the extra ingredient that will put this over the top and give it some teeth. It will be worth it.

There’s no doubt I’ll figure out how to put it all together eventually, but it sure won’t be by tomorrow night. I can’t over think it either. I suppose I could plan and study and try to practice, but I know that won’t do me any good. I need to go up there and let it flow from my heart, and get it out of me as a raw nugget, something I can then shape into a show.

This is a very advanced concept, and is even more difficult than just doing standup on a regular basis. That’s hard enough to pull off, now I’m trying to add emotional strings too? What am I, a total masochist or just a plain old garden variety idiot? Maybe some of both.

Either way, it’s too late to turn back now and I’m going to do this no matter what. This is one of the tradeoffs of being an entertainer. NO performer is ever really ready for their ‘next step’, but if we don’t just go out and do it nobody would ever grow. Every surgeon has to do their first operation and every pilot has to make their first flight. You just do it.

The key is to not do it in a place that can cause harm to anyone. If a surgeon does a bad operation, someone can lose their life. If a comedian does a bad show, it’s not that big of a risk to the audience. They’re just out the price of a ticket and an hour and a half of time.

If they’re really upset, they can demand their money back and if the act was truly as bad as they thought, they’ll most likely get it. The risk is with the comedian. If he or she has a bad show in a certain venue, the distinct possibility does exist that will be their last show.

This is part of the reason I got so heated with those two guys at Zanies recently. It won’t hurt the audience if they’re not ready and have a bad show, but it could really hurt both of those guys if Bert Haas were to see them bomb. It would set a level in his eyes that would be very difficult to change. They’d be in the amateur category a lot longer than necessary.

Bert has the power to book three Zanies clubs in Chicago, which is what every comic in town would like to be able to put on their calendar every year. Going in to try out before a person is ready is committing career-o-cide. Why do people still do it? They don’t think.

I’ve made and seen so many mistakes over the years that I’ve thought this through a lot. I know what I’m getting into, and there are distinct plusses and minuses that won’t be any surprise. One of the minuses is I’ll have to start over from almost ground zero to build up a really solid show that’s about Milwaukee and my experiences there. That will take time.

What will also make it work is local media exposure. This morning I got on B93.3 with Jane And C.V., and I was grateful to get it. It’s one of the rare morning radio shows in the country with two female leads, and I’m glad to see it. They’re both very competent talents and deserve to be working. I’m glad they have a job, but I’m sure not as glad as they are.

Jane Matanaer has been in the market for years, and she’s an outstanding talent. What a voice, and a sweetheart of a person to boot. She’s always been a big supporter of mine, so it was no surprise she agreed to plug the show. C.V. is from Iowa, but I met her when she used to work at another station in town and she’s cool too. It was fun being on with them.

After that, I had breakfast with my friends Lynn Miner and Jim Peck. Lynn is another of a long list of former students who have become lifelong friends, and Jim Peck had me on his TV show a few years ago and we’ve stayed in touch. He’s a world class broadcaster.

Jim used to host network game shows, and is absolutely hilarious. He’s got a dry sense of humor and his mind is brilliant. He makes me laugh out loud, but he’s also very smart when it comes to business. I want to have people like Jim and Lynn around to consult for ideas as to how to build this idea into a profitable franchise for years to come. Here goes.

Hot Fudge Hiatus

July 2, 2010

Thursday July 1st, 2010 – Stevens Point, WI

Here we go with the second half of 2010. Nobody works New Year’s Day, but I wanted to start laying a foundation for everything I want to get done in the next three months and then the next three months after that. Without a tight battle plan, all of this will fall apart.

The first thing on the docket is exercise. No matter what I do career wise, in a nutshell I need to move more and eat less. Period. And, I need to eat different things that don’t taste as good as what I’ve been eating, but won’t make a permanent home in my aorta or lower colon. Fruits, vegetables and water, get used to your new customer. Please be good to me.

I started it all off with an apple, and washed it down with a bottled water. I tried hard to imagine it as an Egg McMuffin and a Pepsi, but it didn’t work. It was an apple and water, but it felt good that I was consciously choosing to have that rather than what tastes good.

I also went back to the Gurnee Mills Mall for my first of hopefully many daily walking assignments. I like it there. The atmosphere is positive and there’s a lot of room to stretch out and lose myself in deep thought as I reflect on life. Nobody ever bothers me in there.

After my walk I went to meet up with Jerry Agar at a hotdog joint that’s about halfway between where each of us live. He’s back from Toronto for the week and we hadn’t seen each other in a while so we hung out and talked about each of our situations. I ordered the chopped salad, and Jerry laughed because we both love their chili dogs. But not today.

Jerry and his daughter Kaelin had hot fudge sundaes, and I ordered a bottled water to go with my salad. I’ve had lots of sundaes and I was fine with it, but they both raised a brow when I passed on one. I used to think life was short and to be enjoyed to the fullest. It may be true, but at this point that sundae would help to make my life shorter. Time for a break.

I then drove up to Stevens Point, WI to see my cousin Leah and her husband Rob. Their daughter Janine has been asking me to come up and visit and today was the day. I told her I was going to be busy for the next few months, so we made time to hang out for a dinner at the Golden Corral. Again, I had lots of vegetables and a water and didn’t go nuts at all.

I know it’s only one day, but I see how it works. It’s not all that hard, but it does take an effort and some discipline to choose to eat the right things, even when the other stuff is all over the place in plain site. I’ve had years of going nuts with it, now it’s time to taper off.

All the way up and back I planned and tweaked and thought of what I need to do to with these next three months. My priority is getting the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show up and ready  for October 1st at The Schauer Center in Hartford, WI. That’s the main point of my focus.

I also have Uranus Factory Outlet, comedy classes and my comedy career itself to get to as well. That’s a whole lot of projects, and any one could take my focus for three months. This is no easy task, but I took it on willingly. No excuses. Day trip over. Back to work.

Halfway Home

July 1, 2010

Wednesday June 30th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

2010 is half way gone. Wow. I feel like life is passing me by, and I’m not able to take it all in. I’m on the big clock and it’s ticking faster and faster. I can chose to march with the rest of the ants, or veer off and take my own path. Either way will end in eventual death.

That being the case, why not veer off and go my own way? I’ve never fit in with the rest of the ants anyway, so why would I start now? Maybe I’ll find a new group of ants I could fit in with better, or maybe be the only ant in a group of something else. Either way, it’s a total race against time no matter what I do, so I need to pick something and give it a shot.

I could beat myself up about what I didn’t get done, but what would that prove? On the positive side, I did get a new CD out and it’s getting very good reviews from all kinds of sources. Larry Wilde, a guy who spent his life studying comedy wrote a flattering email.

He called Hard Luck Jollies “the best self depreciating humor since Jack Benny.” Larry wrote the book “The Great Comedians Talk About Comedy” and interviewed most of the very top names in comedy in the 20th century. A compliment like that coming from him is as high as it gets, especially since I didn’t ask for it. I had no idea he’d even listened to it.

That’s a big plus for the first half of this year. I’m sure I’ll get a lot more mileage out of it for the foreseeable future, and it’s DONE. It frees me up to do other projects, and that’s my focus for the next three months. I intend to work feverishly for the next 90 days to get myself prepared for the big debut of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ in Harford, WI on October 1st.

I want to be really ready for that night on many levels. I want the show to be razor sharp and funny, but I want to be in an exercise and good health groove too. Three months is an eternity, and if I can exercise and eat better I bet I’ll feel like a million bucks by October.

I’d also like to have as many products as I can finish ready to go by then. If I do it right, I’ll have a nice little publicity buzz and get some attention from people who haven’t seen or heard of me before. I need to have something to sell, because I know they’ll enjoy what I’m doing on stage. I’ve already seen it, but wasn’t ready. This is a 90 day total makeover.

I think deadlines are good, and I’m putting one on myself effective  immediately. I have a 90 day window to get myself as ready as I can for a gigantic night of fun at the Schauer Center in Hartford, WI on Friday October 1st. I’m vividly visualizing it in my mind‘s eye.

I’m going to give that audience my best show ever. They’re going to love it. I’ll be in a positive groove and all the years of sacrifice will come together to make that night one to remember forever. I’ll be on top of my game, and everything will come off as expected.

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about any one show this far out, but I know I can do this and I won’t be happy unless I give my absolute best effort. I want to EARN it all the way. Let’s see how closely to my vision I can pull this off. I have a goal and I’m on a mission.