Posts Tagged ‘strippers’

The False Face

November 16, 2013

Thursday November 14th, 2013 – Richland, MI

One of the truly difficult aspects of being funny for a living – and there are almost too many to count – is having to do it when the mood just isn’t there. It’s great fun to the point of intoxication to be on stage when one is in a groove and ‘feeling it’, but that isn’t the case every single night.

I’m sure it’s that way for other professions too, but it’s more difficult for comedians. We create the environment of laughter completely by ourselves, and bring the audience along for the ride. It begins and ends with us, and therein lies the magic of standup comedy when it’s done correctly.

I have no doubt there are days when strippers aren’t feeling the least bit sexy, but they will pull it off – literally – anyway. They have a distinct advantage over a comedian in that they’re able to go through the motions – literally – and please their audience. What they do is much more visual.

A comedian has to bring it from within, and that’s a lot harder in my opinion. I’m sure it can be unpleasant for a stripper to have to show her wares to a room full of drunken sailors, but she grits her teeth and plows through anyway. Drugs and alcohol might help, but comedians can’t do that.

We need to be at the top of our mental game, or at least I do. I can’t think of any comedian that goes on stage drunk or high on a consistent basis and maintains any sort of consistency. I know a lot that get blasted beyond belief after their shows, but while they’re on stage they’re cold sober.

Tonight was one of those nights where I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve had a lot of those over a lot of years, but one learns as a professional to suck it up and get through it. That can be as difficult as anything I’ve ever done, but too bad. If I want to get paid, I will keep my problems to myself.

This has been the ultimate challenge at times, especially for someone like me that tends to use how I’m feeling to shape my show on a given night. I had a booker once tell me early on that he could tell exactly how my day went by watching my set. Some shows were upbeat, others dark.

One stretch that really stands out even now was when I was going through the horror of having to testify against my former best friend for robbing a bank. It took years for the whole scenario to play out, but I had to block it out of my mind for that time I was on stage every night. It was hell.

But torture as it was, it helped to make me a professional. Audiences don’t care about problems that aren’t theirs, and in fact they’re at a comedy show to forget about theirs for a little while. My job is to entertain them, and nothing else. They don’t care that I’m more miserable than they are.

Tonight I was in Richland, MI working for my friend Phil Anglin. He’s a major fan of comedy, and runs shows at his two bars a few times a year. He treats all the comedians like big stars, and I love working for the guy. His staffs couldn’t be any nicer, and they feed us a delicious meal too.

On paper, it’s one of the sweetest gigs I’ve ever had. In reality, it was deer hunting season so it was half full tonight in a place that’s not that big to begin with. I had to fight a drunken lady that babbled the entire night, but I plowed through and gave my best. Everyone was raving afterward, but I was someplace else mentally. I strapped on the false face one more time, and nobody knew.

Some nights a comedian just isn't in the mood to be funny.

Some nights a comedian just isn’t in the mood to be funny. Too bad. We do it anyway.


One Man Bind

October 1, 2013

Sunday September 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I’m working about as hard as a one man band can, but it’s becoming very obvious I need to put a functioning team together if I’m ever going to rise above my current level of achievement. That can be a challenge for anyone, but it’s especially tough for anyone with deep rooted trust issues.

Dented cans share the unfortunate common experience of being deeply scorched emotionally at an early age – usually by those closest to us that are traditionally supposed to be our most trusted and biggest supporters. Are there any strippers or porn stars that don’t have some daddy tweak?

What about serial killers? Do any of them come from healthy and productive homes? There are almost always exceptions to every rule, but try as I might I can’t think of even one example here. I highly doubt Ted Bundy’s pop took him fishing every summer or his mom baked him cookies.

I realize nobody’s life is perfect and we all have humps in our past we’re trying to get over, but some of us have had to go through certain levels of hell that were simply not designed for a child of any age to endure. It’s not our fault, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to live with the pain.

There are only a precious few I can talk about this with who truly get it. My cousin Brett is one and my friend Max Bumgardner is another. Most others will casually say “Get over it,” or “Let it go.” That’s like telling an alcoholic to “Stop drinking” and expect that to be a one time cure all.

It didn’t help that I chose the career with the biggest failure and rejection rate of all, but maybe it was because I’m so used to disappointment it just felt comfortable. At this point I don’t have a clue other than I know I need to do something other than I have been doing. That isn’t working.

If I’m ever going to have a chance at the big prize, I’m going to have to trust someone – even if it ends up grinding my heart into confetti as it has so many times before. That doesn’t sound very appealing, but it’s a risk all winners must take. It’s just harder for dented cans, as we’ve felt such severe pain when everything blows up. It clouds our thinking when it comes to picturing success.

I wish I didn’t have to talk about this at all, but it’s very real and I put it out there because I am by far not the only one dealing with it. I know for a fact it has held me back in many areas of my life from business to personal relationships, and if I don’t overcome it soon I will never succeed.

Today I went through all the projects I’m working on, and came up with a list of the top dozen people I think could help me most right now. That would be a great place to start practicing what I’m preaching, and throw it out there. I have a rock solid list of contacts, but I am often reluctant to ask for anything because I’m afraid I’ll owe them or something. I don’t know, but it’s a quirk.

I read an article recently that talked about the way to get over one’s biggest fear is to look right down the barrel of the gun and do it anyway. It takes a prodigious pair to pull that off, but I have rarely backed down from challenges in my life so it’s either get it done or live a life unfulfilled.

I need to be the head of several winning teams for all my projects to succeed. Period. I can’t do it myself, and I’d be stupid for trying. As much as it scares me, I need to trust some other people.


Braun’s Song

July 23, 2013

Monday July 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL 

   Jimmy cracked corn and nobody cared, so why the big cluster fuss about Ryan Braun getting cracked for using performance enhancing drugs? That’s all everyone was talking about today on radio, television and online, and they made it sound like it was some sort of catastrophic event.

   Friends from all over were contacting me all day asking questions and offering condolences as if I’d lost a loved one or something. It’s funny to me that they’d do that, as we have nothing at all in common other than Braun happens to be employed – or at least he was – in the city I was born.

   Other than that, we couldn’t be any more different. He’s a twenty something Californian pretty boy who has a smoking hot lingerie model girlfriend and millions in the bank. He has a fantastic dream home in Malibu, and a condo in Milwaukee where I couldn’t even afford a parking space.

   He’s in the restaurant business with Aaron Rodgers, and he’s got a multimillion dollar contract that paid him $6 million this year and is guaranteed for several more. He’s a former MVP and an All Star, and if none of that is enough he’s played long enough to be vested with a hefty pension.

   I’m a journeyman standup comic trying to piece together a living from month to month, hoping to catch a decent break at an age where most people are preparing for geezerhood, grandchildren or both. I’m ass deep in credit card debt, I owe the IRS and I have a huge medical bill from a stay in the hospital in 2011 I doubt if I’ll ever be able to pay. Braun and I are in two different worlds.

   And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this guy? That’s just not going to happen. I don’t have time to feel sorry for anyone, including myself. I have to get out there and squeak out a living for one more week. That keeps me busy enough. Some millionaire who felt a need to fib isn’t my fault.

   I must admit, I admired the guy as a baseball player. Yes I am from Milwaukee, and I’ve been a Brewers fan since I can remember – and that’s a pretty long time. I hearken back to before the Robin Yount era, and I’ve watched countless crybabies come and go. This is not a crisis. It’s life.

   The entire world has changed since I was a kid in the ‘70s. The guys I watched then weren’t in the same zip code as the rich kids today. A big star then didn’t have the financial clout of a scrub today, as it just wasn’t how things worked. They made decent bucks, but not like they do today.

   Nobody was on steroids then, but they took amphetamines in the ‘70s and cocaine was an issue with not only most teams but most sports in the ‘80s. Athletes are people, and people have flaws. I don’t think they have an obligation to be role models to our children – but it sure would be nice.

   I’m disappointed in Ryan Braun, but why should he care? He’s set for life financially before he turns thirty, and there aren’t too many who can ever say that. Did he ‘cheat’? Maybe so, but what other business doesn’t do that? Strippers have fake boobs, but nobody stops ogling them do they?

   Granted, fake boobs aren’t illegal but why should steroids be? If an athlete wants to juice up to gain a distinct advantage, so what? It’s not my testicles that are going to shrivel up. I’m a paying customer, and I want to see action. I don’t make millions and I can’t hit home runs, so what else can I do but pay someone else to do it for me? We all pay to watch athletes do what we can’t, all so we can hold up an index finger and claim that “WE are number ONE!” No stupid, the TEAM is number one – you’re a janitor. Deal with it. Life is cruel.  Feel sorry for Ryan Braun? Hardly.