Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Can’t Stop Now

October 2, 2013

Tuesday October 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

October 1st? Already? I haven’t mailed my Valentine’s Day cards yet, but we’re already in the 4th quarter of 2013. I try to stay current, but I’m only fooling myself. This feels like one big April Fool’s prank, but I know it’s real. Time is sliding away like a runaway toboggan, and I feel like it bucked me off a while ago. All I can do is watch it get smaller as it races down the hill. Bye bye.

This has been a very eventful year so far. I’ve done a lot of fun things, but financially it’s been a major bust. I’ve got less money now than I can ever remember, and that is causing major stress on a daily basis. I need to plug into a steady source of income, and I’m looking for it every day.

Emotionally, I’ve become a human yo-yo. One day I’m bullet proof and ready to take on every challenge there is, and the next I’m ready to donate my organs and turn in my keys. Some people might call that bipolar. I call it the life of a dented can entertainer. There are big ups and downs.

I feel like I’m out at sea in a dinghy during a typhoon. I’m at the mercy of the sea – frightening as that may be. I’m bobbing around with no real direction, and whenever I try to find one a force far stronger than me sends me wherever it wants. After a while, it all becomes so overwhelming.

If there were hatches to batten down, I would. But a dinghy doesn’t have hatches. It’s exposed, and the waves come blasting up over the sides. I could read all the books I want on how to steer, but when those winds start blowing none of it matters. There’s nothing to do but wait things out.

The fact is, I really need a break. I have paid decades of dues and even those who think I’m The Antichrist will admit I have ability. Why it’s been this difficult to land somewhere and stay put is far out of my realm of comprehension. All I want is the opportunity to work in a field where I’ve been given gifts, and earn a decent living. It’s either feast or famine – and right now it’s famine.

All it would take is ONE little break to turn my whole life around, but where is it? In my mind, I should be working as a comedian every week – or at least every weekend – to full houses with people there to see me. I’d also love a steady radio gig and to continue teaching comedy classes.

Charity functions would also be a priority, and I would be the nicest guy anyone has ever seen. I would sign every autograph and pose for every picture, and make people feel special like we all want. It would be The Golden Rule in action, and we would all be better as humanity. Why isn’t it happening? I was ready for it years ago, but I seem to be going farther away rather than closer.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it feels like I’m never going to make it. I work harder than any other comedian I know personally, but it doesn’t pay off. It feels like I’m trying to get a new roll of toilet paper started, but I can’t find the first square to get things going. It’s frustrating me to no end, and I’m trying everything in my power to make something happen. What else is there to do?

The only consoling fact I can think of is that there have been a lot of people that have gotten to the point I am – and that’s when something popped. Lewis Black tells how he’d resigned himself to the fact he wasn’t going to make it, and that’s when he got a break with Comedy Central. I am way past the point of no return, so there’s nothing for me to do but keep on working even harder.

Life can be an emotional yo-yo.

Life can be an emotional yo-yo.

The 4th quarter of 2013 is here.

The 4th quarter of 2013 is here.


The Flip Side

May 5, 2013

Friday May 3rd, 2013 – Marion, OH

   One thing a life in standup comedy isn’t is boring. Stressful? Maddening? Insane? There’s a bit of all those ingredients and many others, but one thing comedy surely isn’t is the same old thing. One night it’s a hot show for a packed house, but we sleep on a couch. The next night it’s a four star hotel, but we’re performing for twelve people at a VFW Hall with horrific sound and lights.  

   The next night after that we’re off, and the night after that we’ve got two shows – one is a blast but the other is a train wreck. Sometimes we fly to a gig, most times we drive. Sometimes there’s an opening act, other times there’s not. There are limitless possibilities, and we as comedians can never fully predict what a situation will be like until we’re in it. Adaptability is a necessary trait.   

   Last night I was in Danville, IL in front of a receptive crowd. I stayed in a Fairfield Inn, and it was a pleasant experience all around onstage and off. I sold a pile of CDs and DVDs that almost matched the amount I earned for the evening, but my pay for this gig was low in the first place.

   I took last night’s booking because it was within reasonable distance of tonight – a completely different scenario. Tonight’s show was in an entertainment complex in a strip mall that is trying standup comedy in a space they usually book bands. Comedy is still new, and final count was 14 in a space that could seat 150ish. And there was no opening act tonight, it was just little old me.

   I had the option of bringing an opener, but I chose to do the time myself and keep the cash for my trouble. There was also more pay, but there was no room provided like last night. We usually get accommodations of some sort, but this particular gig came without and I knew that going in.  

   To make it even harder, the 14 who did show up were scattered all over the room and wouldn’t move even after I asked them politely on three different occasions. The only people sitting in the front row were a couple who were making out the whole time. They were all over each other and it was distracting to everyone else who didn’t stop staring. I chose to ignore it and do my show.

   There was a party of four who insisted on sitting in the very last row and refused to budge from that position no matter how pleasantly I asked and eventually how much I rode them about it. It’s difficult enough to do comedy successfully under ideal conditions, but this made it impossibility.

   On top of all that, before the show I had an experience I can’t ever remember having – and I’ve had a lot. As I got out of my car to fill my tank for the ride home, I somehow managed to tear my pants right up the crotch. I laughed out loud when it happened, but I was without a backup plan.

   It was ten minutes before show time, and no clothing stores were open in Marion, OH. I wasn’t packed for a long trip and all I could do was keep my legs closed and hope nobody would notice. It’s a good thing there were only 14 people, and the people in front weren’t concerned about me.

   This was one of those nights when all one can do is suck it up and get it over with. I suspected it might be difficult when I took the gig, but I had no idea it would be like this. I slowed my pace and did my time despite the conditions, and I earned every penny of my pay which I gladly took.

   I got in my car with my split pants, and headed for home. I need to be up early to host an event at Harper College in the morning and then a charity auction in Milwaukee at night. This schedule is a bit ridiculous even for me, but sometimes it works that way. The road life is not an easy one.

See Ya Later, Alternator

February 28, 2013

Wednesday February 27th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   What good would being Mr. Lucky be without at least a weekly crisis to perpetuate my legend? Why would I want my life to operate smoothly when I can maintain a constant level of stress and high tension that keeps me wound tighter than Oprah’s underwear the day after Thanksgiving?

I’ve had my fill and then some of these funky tales of woe, but the cosmic dispatcher cares not and sends more whether I want them or not. It’s like a delivery of sand to the desert – I’ve got all I can use for the next 40,000 years, thank you. Put the boxes back on the truck and leave. Please.

As if I didn’t have enough to be concerned with fighting the weather conditions on my way to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago tonight, I had the extra fun of having my alternator puke on my already overpriced ‘free’ car. I’ve had alternators puke before, but I can’t remember one doing it in such nasty weather conditions and that made for a high stress 50 mile trek through snowy hell.

Anyone who has experienced the death of an alternator knows the symptoms all too well. First, the ‘battery’ light comes on the dash board. That’s a light that usually comes on very briefly only when the car is started, and then goes right back off. When it pops on in traffic, there’s trouble.

I was fighting to get a left turn completed in an unplowed intersection without sliding into a big old pickup truck coming the other way when I noticed the light pop on and I knew I was screwed immediately. The alternator keeps the battery charged, and now I’d be draining it with having to keep all my accessories running like lights, wipers, heat and radio to keep me abreast of traffic.

The light came on as I was still about 45 miles away on a 50 mile trip, and now it became a big race to either find a rental car place that was open or make it as far into Chicago as I could so I’d at least be able to get a bus, train or cab to Old Town to make it to Zanies for my 8:30 show. I am the headliner this week, so I don’t go on until about 9:15, so that was my very latest arrival time.

And if all that still wasn’t enough to rock my world, I had a radio interview scheduled with my friend Evan Ginzburg in New York on his show called ‘Legends Radio’. Evan is a great guy and we share not only a love for professional wrestling, but also funk music. He likes George Clinton and Bootsy Collins like I do, and was also a producer of the ‘The Wrestler’ with Mickey Rourke.

Evan also manages Luscious Johnny Valiant, a wrestler who wants to become a comedian. He’s a guy I used to boo the hell out of when I was a kid, and it’s all surreal that we’ve managed to get connected all these years later. I’ve talked to Johnny and at some point hope to work with him on a comedy show. Evan is up for it too, and we’ve become friends in the last few years. I like him.

It was too late to cancel, so I did the interview to the best of my ability as I plowed through the snow helplessly watching my lights get dimmer the entire way. My wipers slowed down and my radio eventually faded until I finally stalled completely two blocks from Zanies. I had to hang up and push my car to a tow zone, and then pray it wouldn’t be towed as I did my show at Zanies – which actually went very well. The audience had no idea of my troubles, and that’s being a pro.