Posts Tagged ‘Steve Martin’

Quality Content

June 4, 2013

Sunday June 2nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It never hurts to pound positive principles into one’s head, even if they have been heard before. I want to do all I can to turn the tables and get myself out of this current funk, so I buried myself in quality content all day long. There’s nothing like learning from the best in a particular field.

   First, I listened to a recording of Woody Allen talking about comedy and comedy writing. It’s part of the extensive research done by author Larry Wilde for his classic book ‘Great Comedians Talk About Comedy’.  He recorded interviews with great comedians of the past and it’s been one of my favorite books for years. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in standup comedy.

   There’s a website called www.laugh.com that sells the interviews Larry did with comedy icons like George Carlin, Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld and many others including Woody Allen. This was the precursor to the overdose of podcasts we have today. Marc Maron has the one everybody seems to be familiar with, and he gets the best guests of this generation like Larry did years ago.

   I can’t think of anyone bigger in the comedy world than Woody Allen. He is THE most prolific comedy artist of the 20th Century if not all time. His work ethic is unmatched by anyone and he’s still doing it today. Whether anyone happens to be a fan of what he does or not, he cranks it out.

   I happen to be a huge fan of Woody’s, and the sheer amount of product alone he’s generated is awe inspiring. I churned out my two little CDs and a DVD, but those seem like Chihuahua turds compared to Woody’s body of work. He’s written four books of essays, has three comedy album projects that are now condensed onto a two CD set and has done a feature film a year since 1969.

   In a word – WOW! What other artist has come close to that kind of output? Steve Martin has a lot of films to his credit in addition to albums and books, but he’s not in the same solar system as Woody. Nobody is. Like him or not, he’s the standard setter for generations to come. His number of completed projects dwarfs everyone, and even though all of them weren’t big hits many were.

   I listened intently to Woody’s interview, and even though I’ve heard it at least a dozen times or more there is always something that jumps out at me that I hadn’t heard or need to hear again. He is truly the master’s master of the craft of comedy, and I enjoyed listening to him all over again.

   After that, I popped in a five cassette program from an author and mail order guru I’ve listened to for years named E. Joseph Cossman. He made millions marketing products that were given up on by others, and had a number of big hits including the potato gun, ant farm and several others.

   I’ve got a few tape programs from him, and they’re all great even though some of the info may be a bit dated. He died years ago, before the internet. Still, his acumen is rock solid now as it was when it came out and I wanted to refresh my memory and hear it again. It inspired me all over.

   Maybe now I’ll actually DO something rather than bitch about being in a slump. His principles of business are very solid, and he was a world class entrepreneur. What better way to learn about anything than to go to the top of any field and study the masters? E. Joseph Cossman is a master.

   Woody Allen is a master also. So is Larry Wilde. Gene Perret is another. I would love to get on a list like that, but I have a ways to go. Right now I’m hoping to be able pay my rent next month. I doubt if Woody Allen is worried about that. He’s thinking about his work – just as he should be.

Woody Allen - Comedy Master

Woody Allen – Comedy Master

E. Joseph Cossman - Mail Order Master

E. Joseph Cossman – Mail Order Master

A must read for any student of comedy.

A must read for any student of comedy – by Larry Wilde.

April Smarts Day

April 3, 2010

Thursday April 1st, 2010 – Vernon Hills, IL

April Fool’s Day is fun until about age nine, and then it gets old. Fast. It’s pretty hard to think up a really good prank that hasn‘t been done to death, but I’m sure many today were consumed with the desire to one up all their friends. Somehow, that never appealed to me.

I did wake up to a few text messages, voice and emails trying to get me to nibble, but it didn’t work. I knew what the date was before I went to bed last night so nobody put a big one over, at least on me anyway. I’m sure lots of ‘jokes’ were pulled off across the globe.

Wait a minute, does anyone else have April Fool’s Day? I’d hate to try pulling off some half baked lame stunt in Saudi Arabia and end up getting my arm cut off. I’m not sure if a laugh from my friends would be worth having to be called ‘Lefty’ for the rest of my life.

Instead of trying to pull one over on anyone else, I decided to uncover all that I’ve been pulling over on myself all these years. I made a conscious decision to make today the first day of my own personal six month reinvention plan. I know what I need to do, and there’s no way around it. The next six months are going to determine a lot for the next few years.

I need to redefine myself. Period. I need to have tangible goals with a well laid out plan as to how I can achieve them. I need to have an ambitious yet realistic schedule designed that allows me to get something done every day on each of the four main projects that I’m choosing to make my focus until October 1st. Then, I want to close the year with a tour.

I’m having hot shows now, it’s just that nobody cares other than me and the people who happen to be in the audience that particular night. Then when the show ends, so does their involvement so I’m the only one left who has any kind of emotion invested in my shows.

I’ve said it before, but it’s true: I have a job in comedy but not a career. BIG difference. I can squeak out a living, but as far as being on anyone’s map of big time comedians, I’m a grease dribble at best. It doesn’t mean I’m not competent, it just means I’m not known.

I couldn’t care less about the actual fame per se, but I do care about people who need to know me knowing who I am. I want to be known in the industry, like a Tom Dreesen for example. He’s done extremely well for himself, and everyone who’s anyone in the comic hierarchy absolutely knows who he is. He’s noticed on the street too, but he’s not Elvis.

He can have a life but also a career in show business. There are many other examples of what I’m aspiring to, but if I don’t readjust my battle plan I’m never going to get past my current lot in life, and I’m not satisfied with that. I know deep inside I can do a lot more.

Maybe it’s not in me to be ‘the next big thing’, but very few of anyone in any field gets to have that title. Steve Martin did it in comedy for a while, and he was around about the same time as Tom Dreesen started. Steve no longer does comedy. Tom is still performing today, not because he needs money but because he loves to be on stage. He has passion.

Well, me too. I’ve always loved doing shows, especially when the audience is into what I’m doing. They’d be a lot more into it if they paid top dollar and knew who I was before I walked on stage, but that also is reserved for only a precious few who manage to capture the fancy of the public in some way. Showmanship helps, but it’s all about the marketing.

My current situation is all over the place, and that needs to change. Six months can have a dramatic impact, and that’s my intention. I need to use it wisely, and that’s why I put my whole head around it today. It’s sure not going to be easy, but it’s time to shake it all up.

The main thing I need to do is make some products to sell. Farmers either grow crops or raise livestock, and then they sell it at the market. I need products to sell in more than one market, and ones that I can sell for the rest of my life. Once crops are sold, they’re gone.

The ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show about Milwaukee is a winner. I can feel it and I will keep working until it’s a viable product. I have decided to write a book of essays instead of just doing a live show and maybe trying to sell a CD or DVD only. I still want to have all that, but I think the book is the way to go so that’s what I’ll do. Now I have to make it happen.

I have some notes about what I want to include in it, but I am going to physically make myself a three ring binder and put the titles of the essays in order as I think of them and a complete list of everything else I want included, like pictures, quotes and chapter titles.

I’m going to do the same with my comedy classes. I have spent a lifetime learning what to do onstage and off, and I think I can put that down in three levels so people who want a head start can avoid the stupid mistakes I made that weren’t necessary. I also have a basic outline for that sketched out, but now I want to record it and put it up on a website to sell.

Once I crank these two projects out, I won’t have to worry about doing it again. They’ll be finished and on the shelf so I can go do other things that make even more money. I can tour if I want, work on Uranus Factory Outlet, or maybe even have a family at some point and feel like I belong on this planet. Right now, struggling to survive is just not cutting it.

I’ll still have the rigors of daily life to deal with, but knowing I have a plan in place that includes a deadline really helps put it all into perspective. If I have no deadline, I’ll never get anything done. I’ll find a way to blow it off, let it rot or worse yet not even start at all.

That’s not acceptable to me, and I am going to DO this and do it right. I have the vision in my head and I’m not going to let anyone else pee in my pool. I’m going to shut myself off from the world and give birth to two things that are on different sides of the spectrum so they can give me streams of income from different sources. I think it’s smart business.

I’ve also got a CD coming out very soon. I have enough in the can to have another one out by October 1st, and that’s the third of my four goals. The fourth is to get myself going in my personal life and get healthy in all ways from physical to mental to spiritual to also unloading anything extra out of my life I’m not using. Six months of work starts today.