Posts Tagged ‘showbiz’

Trevor Fever

February 8, 2014

Thursday February 6th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

One ingredient I’ve never been able to find in the entertainment business is logic. Things go on with no apparent rhyme or reason, and it’s been that way forever. Why are the Kardashians stars? My point exactly. People come along at the right time in the right place, and careers can explode.

I have never been able to get those two things right, but few others have either. I’ve been in the right place at the wrong time, and the wrong place at the right time. I have even managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – lots of times. But in all my years, I’ve yet to hit that jackpot.

Frank Caliendo is an example of someone that did. He came along doing impressions of people that were in the news at that time, and there were no other impressionists of his generation doing what he was doing. He had perfect timing and a tremendous work ethic, and things fell together.

I don’t think it’s possible to plan for it, it just happens. Trying to over think things won’t make it any easier, and all one can do is keep throwing things out there. IF something should hit, it’s an indefinite science and there’s no guarantee it will happen. The fates have to be in total alignment.

Someone I see it happening for right now is the 12 year old comedian Trevor Burke. That kid’s ship is about to come in big time and it’s an ark. I’m very happy for him and his family. He’s got all kinds of things brewing in all directions, and I can tell he’s on the verge of something huge.

I’m not at liberty to say exactly what’s going on, but he’s got some big things in the hopper for 2014, and they’re happening sooner than later. I’m in contact with his dad Joe, and I’ve heard the news first hand. For whatever reason, the timing is right and Trevor is about to catch a big break.

I’ll do all I can to help in any way, as I know how rare opportunities like this are. He’s going to experience things most people never get to feel at any age, and I hope things go well and he has a dream life. I always said I’d be happy just knowing someone that made it, and this is my chance.

I could see it happening for Frank Caliendo, and I see it even bigger for Trevor. He’s totally in the right place at the right time, and the powers that be want a 12 year old comedian right now. It has nothing to do with talent, and that’s no insult to anyone. Timing and luck are the main keys.

Does Trevor have comedic talent? That doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. He’s extremely likeable, and looks comfortable on stage. He’ll appeal to the masses, and that’s what counts. He’s unique, and that’s what sells him. I’m anything but that, as adult white males couldn’t be more common.

I don’t do impressions, I have no puppets, and I’m not particularly cute. That takes me out of a lot of categories of show business, and it’s a miracle I’ve been able to stay close to it as long as I have. Trevor has won the lottery, and he’ll surpass me by the end of the year. That’s how it goes, but I’m not angry or jealous in the least. I know how the showbiz game is played, and I accept it.

I really like Trevor, and if anything I’ll do my best to be his mentor. I want to see him keep his dignity and self esteem intact as his star rises. There will be a lot of jealous people who want him to fail, but that goes with the territory. It’s wasted energy though, as it’s in the cards for that kid.

The breaks he is about to get will set him up for life if he plays his cards right, and I’m betting he will because he has a solid family base. His dad Joe is extremely smart, and understands how business works. His brother has two sons that were in a band, and they ended up doing very well. The family has been through this before, and I met the grandfather who is also very grounded.

All the ingredients are in place for massive success, and I’m thrilled to be this close to watch it all pop. It doesn’t happen very often, and it couldn’t happen to nicer people. The whole family is behind Trevor, and that’s how it should be. It will ground him, and he won’t be a Justin Bieber.

How many stories are there of child stars that end up in the gutter? Pretty much all of them. It’s front page news when one doesn’t end up on the cover of the National Enquirer with a mug shot, but I don’t see that for Trevor at all. He’s going to be an exception, much like Ron Howard was.

Ron Howard’s father was around the business as well, and he and his brother Clint got into it at an early age. Clint was the star of a TV series called “Gentle Ben” with a bear, but then he faded away. He’s done a lot of small roles since – mostly cameos in the movies directed by his brother.

Trevor doesn’t have any brothers, or sisters either. He’s a well adjusted only child, and it’s rare to have everything fall into place like it is. He won the lottery, but he won’t end up a derelict like many of those people do. He’s being prepared properly, and if anything he’ll appreciate it more.

The real test will come with time. Will he stay with standup comedy and become a lifer like me or will he graduate into acting and never do it again at a certain point? There’s no right or wrong answer, and it will be an individual choice. Maybe he has been bitten by the bug, but maybe not.

He’s been in a ton of acting and video projects, and has an impressive resume. I saw a video he did for a band, where he played the lead singer as a kid decked out in KISS makeup. He came off really well, and it’s obvious the kid just ‘has it’. I hope he catches his break, and I think he will.

There are two rock solid opportunities on the table for him at the moment, and even one would shoot him past 99% of other comedians in America – including me. I don’t want to see him flop, and he won’t. Like I said, he is in the right place at the right time and it’s obvious that somebody else sees it or they wouldn’t be lining up to put him on TV. He’s got a bright future and it’s here.

If nothing else, I can help him avoid most of the pitfalls I see made and made myself. I’ll point them out to both him and his dad, and hopefully they’ll listen. They’re going to have all they can handle and then some of wacked out advice from strangers and hangers on, and it will be soon.

Everything is coming together at lightning speed, and there’s no use fighting it. This is not how it happens for most people, so there’s really no precedent. I wish only the best for Trevor, but it’s inevitable that some glitch will happen at some point and that’s when I can be of the most help to him and the family. If there’s anything I’ve experienced a lot of, it’s glitches. I can offer advice.

The Burke family has been unbelievably gracious throughout all of this and has said repeatedly they’d like me to “come along for the ride”. I really appreciate that, but I’m not looking to try to horn in on their territory. IF there’s a spot for me somewhere in the mix, I will be very grateful.

Watch for 12 year old comedian Trevor Burke - coming soon to a TV near you. www.trevorburke.com.

Watch for Trevor Burke – coming soon to a TV near you.

His star is rising quickly. He's got more credits at age 12 than most entertainers get in a lifetime. He's a great kid, and his whole family is behind him. I am too. GO Trevor! www.trevorburke.com.

His star is rising quickly. He’s got more credits at age 12 than most entertainers get in a lifetime. He’s a great kid, and his whole family is behind him. I am too. GO Trevor! http://www.trevorburke.com.

Justin Bieber allegedly has talent, even though most adults would like to punch him in the face for his punkish attitude. Trevor has none of that. He's a great kid.

Justin Bieber allegedly has talent, even though most adults would like to punch him in the face for his punkish attitude. Trevor has none of that. He’s a great kid.

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The Chain Breaker

August 23, 2013

Wednesday August 21st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

    For one million dollars free and clear in unmarked $50 bills, I couldn’t honestly tell you what I did on my 18th birthday. That was such a long time ago now it just blends in to the big blur that is life. One would assume it should be a special event to be cherished forever, but it wasn’t for me.

   I know what I didn’t do. I didn’t get high or drunk, as that’s never been my style. I didn’t have any parties or celebrations either. There was no big family get together or anything like that. My life was never ‘normal’, and by that time it was already going in a different direction than most.

   That direction was south. I was on my own by 17, having to scrape together a living by night as I finished high school during the day. I seriously thought about dropping out, but my grandfather was in the final stages of cancer and made it his last request that I finish. My father dropped out, and Gramps was completely embarrassed by it. I didn’t want to cause him more pain so I did it.

   I started my adult life in a big hole, and I’ve been digging my way out ever since. I had no time to party and chase chicks like most other kids my age, so I did what I had to do to survive. By the time I was 21 I was already getting started in comedy, and it was a long uphill climb from there.

   My birthday is in March, and Gramps died in December of the year I turned 18. That’s when I needed him most, but too bad for me. When he died, the already delicate relationships I had with the rest of the family collapsed immediately and World War III broke out in full bloody combat.

   My belligerent old man who was never there for me suddenly tried to step in and call the shots in my life and that went over like an accordion in Led Zeppelin. At first I tried the polite route to make an attempt at a father-son relationship, but that lasted just a few weeks before it got ugly.

   I don’t take bullies well, and that’s exactly what that bastard was – especially to anyone weaker or smaller than him. He treated all of his children like personal property, and I for one absolutely refused to take it. I got in his face, and the more I stood up to him the more he would back down.

   It’s never a pleasant time to be at war with one’s father, but that was an especially volatile time to be in that situation. Adolescence and puberty and all that goes with them are difficult enough, but not having parental support makes it downright scary. I’m surprised I didn’t turn to booze or drugs or crime, but I didn’t. For whatever reason, that just wasn’t in me. It’s not my personality.

   I vowed I was going to prove to everyone – especially the cantankerous ogre that was supposed to be a nurturing father and not my most hated enemy – that I was better than where I came from, and I wasn’t going to let anyone take my life or my dreams away from me. I chased the showbiz dream thinking I’d ace it in a hurry, but that provided a whole new set of political games to play.

   I made a ton of mistakes in comedy, but there was nobody there to reel me in. Gramps was the one steadying mentor figure in my life, but he was long gone at the time I needed guidance most. I made my choices with very limited perspective, and it launched my life path on an unnecessary detour that diluted my dream. With all of that on my plate, I’m surprised I made it as far as I did.

   What really hurt was the bubbling cauldron of anger I carried with me for so many years. I lost years of productive time I should have been growing and learning to focus on getting revenge on a psychopath who shouldn’t have had children in the first place. What a useless waste of youth.

   The reason I’m trudging up all this ancient mud from the past is my friend Max Bumgardner’s son Dustin turned 18 today. I couldn’t be more proud of Dustin if he was my own son – and Max is as high on my list as anyone can get. He’s one of my closest confidants and has been for years.

   Not only do I think Max is unbelievably talented and one of the smartest people I know – he is also a big time dented can. Max’s father is frighteningly similar to mine, and I knew right away when we first met that we were kindred spirits. Max has fought his whole life to break out of his father’s shadow, and his path has been no easier than mine. It’s like trying to sprint in knee deep sloppy mud while carrying two full bags of groceries and a watermelon. It’s an impossible task.

   Max and I became close when we worked on the morning show at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago in 2004, but after we got fired we became even closer. He struggled with a lot of the same issues I did, and more than a few times we’d talk each other off a cliff when things got really difficult.

   We kept each other going, and were one of the few people the other could go to when life took a nasty turn. Dented cans can only relate to the pain of other dented cans, much like women trade stories about how painful their pregnancies were. I can sympathize, but I can’t truly empathize.

    I knew exactly where Max’s pain was coming from, and he knew mine. I never met his father, but we talked on the phone a few times on the radio. He actually seemed kind of nice, but that’s a very common trait of psychotic tyrants. Ted Bundy was nice enough to lure his victims to where he could do his deeds, and that was it. It was an act. My father often appeared gentle to outsiders.

    The pride of Max’s life has always been his two kids Dustin and Skylar. I have watched them both successfully grow from cute kids to solid young adults. Max has gone out of his way to be a world class father, and he has done a spectacular job. I remember sitting with Max and Dustin at a Bears game in Chicago in 2004, and what a beautiful father-son moment it was for those two.

   Max tells me all the time that Dustin looks up to me as an uncle figure. He plays my CDs over and over and Max told me I’m his ‘personal Rodney Dangerfield’. I remember how much I loved Rodney when I was that age, and to be put in that class is as flattering as it gets. I’m very grateful to have had Max and his family as friends all this time, and to see Dustin turn 18 is a major thrill.

   I don’t see Dustin all that often these days, but through the years we’ve enjoyed all kinds of fun times. I could see at an early age he was a wonderful kid filled to the brim with potential. He has an extremely sharp mind and is a gentle and loving soul – just like his dad. He’s got all the tools.

   He will have problems as we all do, but there won’t be that ugliness that goes with being from a rotten family situation. Any of us who have been through it know how sickening it is, and those who didn’t never truly will. I’m glad they won’t, and wish nobody had to. It’s not how I thought life should be – but for some of us it is. Dustin Bumgardner caught a break, and I’m glad he did.

   Max and I are always going to have deep scars of a painful childhood, but he showed courage to the tenth power for not turning right around damaging his own kids. It takes guts to break the chain of dysfunction, and Max has totally done it. I couldn’t be more delighted to see it happen.

   I called and left Dustin a message wishing him a happy birthday and telling him how proud he has made both his parents and me, and I meant every word of it. Max said it was a special day in his life, and he’s already ahead of ours by light years. Good for him. Dustin is the chain breaker.