Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Sports Comedy With Balls

July 29, 2014

Thursday July 24th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

A lot of things sound really great in theory. Communism is a big one, but nobody has been able to pull it off successfully for any significant amount of time. Polygamy is another. It sounds like a party, but there are laws against it for a reason. The success of any idea lies in the execution.

When I lived in Los Angeles in the mid ‘90s, I knew I needed a gimmick to separate me from a ridiculously large glut of white males trying to make a dent in standup comedy. Supply was FAR greater than demand even then, and I saw it. From my longstanding background in pro wrestling promotion, I zeroed in on a persona I thought would get me the most attention and get me seen.

That idea was to become “The Sports Comedian – With Balls”. I’d asked my friend and mentor Ross Bennett what he thought I should focus on, and he asked me what topics I knew best. I told him I knew sports, and I wasn’t lying. I have been a rabid sports fan since I was able to tie shoes.

Ross’s answer was fast and simple: “Well, why don’t you call yourself The Sports Comedian?”

It clicked with me immediately, and I spent all the money I had at the time to get photos taken in sports jerseys. I even had sports cards of me printed up. I got a crew cut like I though a sports comedian should have, and I proceeded to try and book myself. That’s where the glitch came in.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but not everyone is as enthusiastic about sports as I am. In fact, a whole lot of people couldn’t care less about it – especially women. Granted, there are quite a few women that do follow sports at least casually, but not nearly enough to support what I was doing.

I vividly recall getting on stage with this idea more than a few times, and seeing people’s faces tune out as soon as I said I was going to talk about sports. There were some nights that went very well, but it was too inconsistent so I dropped it after a few months and dove head first right back into the pool of anonymous Caucasians. “Mr. Lucky” is what I tried next, and that jury’s still out.

Times have changed and so have I, and I think the time is right to try this idea again. I have the chance to dust it off on Monday August 11th, at Zanies Comedy Club on Wells Street in Chicago. Every few months they give me a Monday night and let me do whatever I want – within reason. I told them I wanted to try this idea, and they gave me the thumbs up. I really think it will succeed.

Everything is so compartmentalized with the advent of the internet, and that wasn’t the case the first time I tried. If this is marketed correctly – and that’s the rub for just about anything – I know I can carve out a great niche market. People that love sports are rabid, and there are MILLIONS of us nationwide. If I can tap into that market, I have to believe I can make a comfortable living.

Even if I would only do it part time, I think I could still do more than ok. Every sports team on every level has an awards banquet or a pre season kick off dinner, and if this idea was presented properly I know it would get some bites. Well, I think so anyway. Here’s my chance to prove it.

I’ve got a killer lineup of comedians already lined up, and if nothing else it will be fun to hang out with them. I am going to rattle all the media cages I can, and hope I can get some publicity. http://www.zanies.com

Twenty years ago I threw everything I had into this gimmick. The time wasn't right then, but I think it is now. We'll see. Come on out to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on August 11th. www.zanies.com

Twenty years ago I threw everything I had into this gimmick. The time wasn’t right then, but I think it is now. We’ll see. Come on out to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago on August 11th. http://www.zanies.com

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Thank You Sparky Lyle

June 15, 2013

Friday June 14th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I had some business cards made up a couple of years ago saying that I buy old sports cards and other collectibles. They’re blaze orange, and I used to put them on bulletin boards anywhere and everywhere I had the chance. I hadn’t done it in a very long while, but of late I started up again.

   I get calls from time to time, but so far I haven’t hit the mother lode. Everyone thinks they have a million dollar collection when mostly it’s worthless junk from the last twenty years which will never have any value because it was way overprinted. They’re disappointed when they hear they didn’t hit the lottery, but too bad. I’ve had to live with disappointment since birth. They can too.

   Today I got a call from a guy who had cards from the ‘70s he found in his basement. That’s my era, and even if they’re not worth very much I still think they’re cool. They bring back memories of childhood I want to revisit – and there aren’t many of those. I asked him to name some players from the cards he had and one of them was Sparky Lyle – ace pitcher for the New York Yankees.

   Sparky Lyle will forever hold a position of the highest esteem in my heart. He’s in my personal Hall of Fame, and all it took was a minute of his time. He signed a baseball for me during a game at Milwaukee County Stadium when I was a kid, and I never forgot it. I’ve been a fan all my life.

   It was one of the first Major League baseball games I’d ever seen live, and I went with some of the kids from my neighborhood. Their parents took a carload of us to the game, and it was a blast getting to see our beloved home town Brewers take on the hated Yankees. It was ball day, and all of us had a fresh white baseball as a souvenir. Naturally, we had to try to get some autographs.

   We couldn’t get to the Brewers’ bullpen, but the Yankees were within reach. There was a giant chain link fence in the way, but we could see them standing only a few feet away. There weren’t many of us there since the game was in progress, but one of the players told us he couldn’t sign.

   I must have looked pretty pathetic, because Sparky Lyle came over and said “Hey kid, toss that ball over the fence and I’ll sign it for you.” It took me three tries, but I finally got it over and sure enough he signed it for me. He asked my name, and wrote “Best of Luck, Sparky Lyle” under it.

   It took a couple of tries to get it back over the fence, but he did and I caught it with the care I’d use if a live baby were being thrown off a burning building. That baseball was instantly the most valuable possession I owned, and I thanked him like he’d donated his left kidney to save my life.

   I kept that ball on my dresser for years, but exposure to the sun had caused the ink to fade until the signature was barely visible after a while. I remembered that moment vividly in my head and still do, but it faded from the ball and I eventually got rid of it because I couldn’t stand seeing it.

   Signing autographs for the thousands of kids who ask for them must get to be a pain in the ass of epic proportions for ball players, but Sparky Lyle knew how much it means and did it anyway. It only took two minutes or less, but he gave me a memory I still cherish almost 40 years later.

   I looked him up, and he’s 68 now and a former manager of a minor league team in New Jersey. He was born on July 22nd – the same birthday as another hero George Clinton. Maybe the whole numerology thing has some truth to it after all. Whatever the case, it was a lesson to see what one small gesture can do. I hope I’m able to make someone feel that good with something that I do.

Thanks Sparky!

Thanks Sparky!

One kind gesture lasted 40 years. I still remember.

One kind gesture lasted 40 years. I still remember!

Michael Jordan’s Birthday

February 20, 2013

Sunday February 17th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Michael Jordan turned 50 today, but that’s only one of several reasons February 17th has gotten to be a date of uncomfortable significance on my yearly calendar. Today was also the birthday of my grandmother who was born in 1911 and the day my father died in 2007. That’s a lot to digest.

There are so many emotions mixed in with all of that I’m not sure where to start. I have always been a fan of Michael Jordan, partially because I knew he was my age. He was born in 1963 just as I was, but how much more different could any two lives be? Birth year is about all we share.

Can anybody name a person in any walk of life much less an athlete more famous than Michael Jordan? I can’t. That guy is one in a million million, just like Muhammad Ali or Babe Ruth. He’s the singular standard by which an entire sport is measured for generations. How amazing is that?

Other famous athletes were born in 1963 like Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley, but Michael has gone beyond athletics and is pop culture – and worldwide pop culture at that. He’s reached about as high a level as one can get and still qualify as human. After that one becomes a cartoon image.

I heard all kinds of tributes on the radio today about him turning 50, and they made him sound SO old. I used to think 50 was old too, but now I’m there and it feels like I’m just getting started. I was too busy making mistakes until now, but I finally feel like I’m in a position to hit pay dirt.

Then I look at a Michael Jordan and he’s been on top of the top for thirty years. It’s like it was included in his DNA, and it would be difficult for him NOT to be successful. He may not be the red hot icon he once was, but he’s had a super run right up there with Elvis or Michael Jackson.

It’s hard to comprehend someone of that magnitude being born just a few weeks ahead of me, but it’s true. That doesn’t guarantee happiness though. Whitney Houston was also born in 1963 and it didn’t end well for her even though she also attained heights most humans never reach.

Then there’s my father. He was an overwhelming underachiever and waste of sperm no matter when he was born. Nobody celebrated his 50th or any other birthday on radio or anywhere else. It still baffles me why he was so mean spirited and nasty to just about everyone, but now he’s dead and nobody misses him. I surely don’t, but I do wish I could find out what made him that upset.

Michael Jordan at 50 is looked at as a lion hearted champion of a generation and has the rest of his days to do as much or as little as he pleases. He has millions of dollars and a new model wife. If he’s unhappy – and he very well could be – it sure isn’t due to lack of resources. He’s loaded.

My father at 50 hadn’t ventured off the back porch to attempt anything. He was proud that he’d been able to pull down a disability for his bum heart, and he pissed the rest of his life away doing absolutely nothing of significance. As I sneak up on 50 – or as it sneaks up on me – I find myself betwixt the magnificence of Michael and the folly of my father. I have no idea where I’ll end up on the big picture chart of life. I have all I can handle keeping my bills paid. I can’t dwell on this.

Green Bay Pukers

October 8, 2012

Sunday October 7th, 2012 – Lake Villa, IL

   Enough is enough, and this is it. My aching arse, the Green Bay Packers have finally pissed me off so badly I am not going back for more. Like an abused spouse, I am packing my bags and I’m out the door. My can is dented enough from life. I don’t need this torture to make it any deeper.

Those clowns didn’t even look like they were trying in the second half of one of the bitterest of losses I can ever remember. It was bad enough they got robbed on the last play in Seattle just two weeks ago and barely scraped out a skin of the teeth win over a Saints team in turmoil last week.

It was frustrating, infuriating and just plain unacceptable. As a lifelong customer I have a right to stop buying a product whenever I decide – and I decide it’s going to be now. I have been loyal (translation: brainwashed) to these pinheads long enough. The camel’s back has been snapped.

Watching sports is supposed to be fun, and a diversion from the stressful pressures of daily life. When sports become the source of much of that stress, it’s time to do something else. I couldn’t care less if the NFL disbands tomorrow, and with all the problems they’re having it may happen.

Why am I wasting my time with this anymore? What inner itch is being scratched by watching someone else try to accomplish something when in fact it should be me who should be doing the winning on my own behalf? Having to depend on someone else to make my self esteem shine is not how I want to live my life. From now on, I will spend my Sundays doing something better.

There has to be something positive I could accomplish for three hours a week if I really look to find it. Maybe I could read a book or write an article or take time to answer emails or any of a lot of other things that don’t involve that helpless feeling of having to hope a bunch of overpaid oafs who I’ve never even met please me by defeating another group of overpaid oafs. How low am I?

I don’t know why, but this one really pushed all my buttons. If I performed that poorly on a job I have to believe I’d be fired immediately. Someone needs to lose a job over this, and it needs to happen immediately. How can a defense give up all those yards to an aging guy without figuring something out to stop him from flat out embarrassing them? I saw no heart there and it’s pitiful.

I would much rather go out and do something that I have at least some control over rather than have to go through this insanity every week. Fun had nothing to do with the last three weeks, and just like with comedy I always said I’d stop when it wasn’t fun anymore. Well, that time is now.

Those heartless bums don’t deserve my time, and I’m not going to give it to them. In the bigger picture of life, this all seems like a big waste of valuable time that could be used to do something on a lot higher level. There are millions of Packer fans who are feeling the exact same sting I do.

Billions more who aren’t even football fans at all could not care any less. I doubt if five people in China were upset after the game or even know what football is. They’ve got other problems to think about and so do I. The Green Bay Packers and the NFL don’t need me, and I’m moving on.