Posts Tagged ‘The Beatles’

Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter

January 14, 2014

Sunday January 12th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’ve been busy like a worker bee getting my new and improved monthly email newsletter ready to send out, and learned today it’s not going to be completely ready by tomorrow which had been the original target deadline date. I’m not disappointed at all, and in fact I’m feeling really good.

The advantage I had going in is that NOBODY is expecting it, and it won’t upset anybody. The only ones that knew the deadline even existed were my pit crew Eric and me. We have both done our jobs like we said we would, and it’s almost ready to go. We fully expected to have glitches.

I’m working on the content side, and Eric is dealing with the nuts and bolts of getting all of the technical aspects handled. He set up an account on a website that will let us send it to up to 2500 people, and we’ve both been working on sorting the email address list into distinct categories.

This is going to be a huge project, and a continuous work in progress. We’re both up for it and know what it entails – or at least we think we do. There will constantly be names being added to the list, and others will fall off. We hope to be able to grow each month but we need to start first.

Eric has about 1500-2000 email addresses to load into the system, but that total is deceiving. A significant number will probably bounce back, as I haven’t contacted them for a while. Many of the others are personal friends or other performers. It’s nice to say hello every month, but they’re not going to book me. I know that going in, and I’m not getting cocky about having a large list.

The long term plan is to collect fans everywhere I go, and keep them aware of when I might be back. There are places like the three Zanies Comedy Clubs in the Chicago area or Donnie B’s in Springfield, IL and several others where I perform regularly. I want to become a legitimate draw.

99.999% of comedians would not have dreamed of doing this years ago, but this isn’t years ago and I’m not a comedian anymore – at least not in my marketing strategy. I’m a HUMORIST, and humorists get paid a whole lot more to basically do what a comedian does. It’s about perception.

Humorists also have a ton of products for sale. Dave Barry has a library of books, as do people like Lewis Grizzard, Erma Bombeck, Al Franken and several others. George Carlin wrote books toward the end of his career, and Woody Allen wrote them at the beginning. I need at least one.

Building a list is the smart way to go, and worth all the time and effort we’re investing now as we breathe life into it from absolute zero. I went over to Eric’s house tonight and we plugged the content I wrote into the template we chose, and of course there were glitches with the actual text.

It didn’t line up correctly, and wasn’t pleasant to look at. It had poor eye appeal. It had nothing to do with content, but we still have to deal with it. Eric will figure it out, and that’s why we’re a team. I am not good with those types of things and I know it. He’ll get it fixed and we’ll send it.

But that’s just the beginning. We’ll need to keep cranking it out month after month to more and more people and that will go on perpetually. I’m calling it “Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter” after the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. If you’d like to get it, send your email address.

'Humorists' are revered and get paid big bucks. 'Comedians' tell dirty jokes in saloons. That's the perception - at least with those who pay to hire performers. I'm a humorist, thank you.

‘Humorists’ are revered and get paid big bucks. ‘Comedians’ tell dirty jokes in saloons. That’s the perception – at least with those who pay to hire performers. I’m a humorist, thank you.

My monthly "Maxwell's Silver Humor Newsletter" is about ready to launch.  If you want to receive it, send me your email address.

My monthly “Maxwell’s Silver Humor Newsletter” is about ready to launch. If you want to receive it, send me your email address.

Supposedly, women like a man with a sense of humor. I wonder if she thinks I'm funny?

Supposedly, women like a man with a sense of humor. I wonder if she thinks I’m funny?

Michael Jackson’s Birthday

August 30, 2013

Thursday August 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 55th birthday. What a fascinating character study he was on so many levels. Only a handful of people who ever lived have had a worldwide influence like he did during his run. Like Elvis, he was the right person in the right place at the right time.

   Did he have talent? He was loaded with it, but that doesn’t always guarantee success. There are many things that have to come together for massive success, and both Elvis and Michael Jackson were the proverbial ‘one in a million’. They were one in hundreds of millions, but that in no way insured their lives would be Shangri-La. Their problems were larger than life just like they were.

   From all I’ve read I don’t think Elvis was a dented can but Michael surely was. I don’t think he and his father got along well to say the least, and that’s usually where it starts. Unfortunately, we as children of relationships like that often tend to think fame and fortune will heal those wounds, but it never does. Sooner or later that fact becomes apparent, and it’s a stunning disappointment.

   I can’t comment on Michael Jackson’s personal life, as I wasn’t there. Whether he did what he was accused of or not I don’t feel qualified to talk about. It’s absolutely none of my business and nobody else’s but his and his accusers. Unfortunately, on that level one’s personal life becomes a wide open book to be rummaged through by the public on a whim. That’s the downside of fame.

   I’m just focusing on his career. The success he had with The Jackson Five alone would be a big deal, but that was only the beginning. His star steadily rose, and he took entertainment to heights that had never been seen on a worldwide level ever – including Elvis. He set the world standard.

   He rode the global wave of MTV, and pioneered the way music videos were done. Every other act to come along after Michael Jackson basically used his template of a lead dancer in front with a flock of dancers behind, but few came close to doing it as well as he did. He was the innovator.

   Elvis had his own greatness for his time, but he wasn’t a dancer or writer of songs. He was one of the most charismatic stage performers in history, and that alone is impressive. Michael took it to a whole other level at a different time, and his influence is still being felt today. What a talent.

   I’ve always been especially impressed with the ‘Thriller’ album. That came out the year after I graduated high school, so it’s been a part of my life for decades. I heard the songs played on the radio, and they were a part of my entire life experience just as the Beatles were for a generation before. I hear Beatles songs being played today, but I was never part of that intense culture blast.

   I watched Michael Jackson’s career soar, and it was quite impressive. During the ‘80s it wasn’t easy to turn on a TV or radio without seeing or hearing something about Michael Jackson. It was a true cultural phenomenon, and part of the fabric of life. How many ever reach that level? Him.

   I’m sorry his and Elvis’s lives ended so sadly and quickly. No mortal can sustain that lifestyle for long, but the question is if one could choose would it be the short fast life of a superstar or an ordinary one filled with mediocrity that lasted into old age? That’s a decision most never face.  

Every entertainer would LOVE to have a project like this on the resume - an all time classic.

Every entertainer would LOVE to have a project like this on the resume – an all time classic.


The Cosmic Beatles

December 4, 2012

Sunday December 2nd, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   I am thoroughly pleased with the remarkable amount of positive progress that has been made in regards to ‘The Mothership Connection’ radio show on AM 1050 WLIP this year. We have made a noticeable leap forward in consistency and quality of product, and I intend for that to continue.

A major reason for it is the competence and cohesive chemistry of the others on the show along with me. After almost five years of trial and error, I feel we’ve got “the band” together and could really take this whole thing to a higher level. Exactly where and how to do that is unclear, but we definitely do have the pieces in place to make it happen. I’d love to be able to develop it further.

Our show is a unique hybrid. It’s kind of a cross between ‘Coast To Coast AM’ and a morning show, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of the team. We’re getting consistently solid guests – many of whom have been on Coast To Coast or network television. We treat everyone with nothing but respect, and word has gotten out that we’re the fun show to do so guests are now approaching us.

This is exactly how I pictured it to be when the show started in March of 2008. Everything was different then, from the host lineup to the time we were on the air. It seems ridiculous now, but at first we were on the air from 1 to 3pm. Nobody wants to hear about werewolves or flying saucers when the sun is up, and we were so new that filling two full hours every week had its challenges.

We eventually got on at night where we belong, and two hours stretched to three and now four as it has been or a couple of years now. Cast members came and went, and some have come back on more than one occasion. I’m sure it’s a lot like the evolution of a typical band, but now we’re ready to be The Beatles. I can feel this is by far the best lineup we’ve ever had, and it’s exciting!

My immediate co-host is Greg DeGuire, aka ‘Ubergeek’. I say that with total respect, as he has an unbelievably diverse range of paranormal topics he can go off on and be fascinating about for hours. He knows amazing in depth information on everything from the Kennedy assassination to Star Wars to Star Trek to 9/11. He’s a walking conspiracy theory. I couldn’t find a better copilot.

Scott Markus is living in L.A. now, but he’s been back on the show a lot of late. He’s an author, film maker and truly talented on many levels. He fits right in, and is a welcome cog in the wheel. His website is www.whatsyourghoststory.com and he always adds to the mix when he’s with us.

Mary Marshall is a perfect fit as well. Her website is www.theparanormalmd.com and she does paranormal investigations and teaches classes about it at Harper College in Palatine, IL. She’s on when her schedule allows, but always brings something of interest to the table whenever that is.

Dave Hendrickson a.k.a. ‘The Two Bit Guru’ is our newest member, but I’ve known Dave for 30 years. He’s very spiritual and has always been into subjects that fit perfectly on the show. His website is www.twobitguru.com and his webmaster Nate Kroll is working on a site for the show. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but at least the main players are in place. Join us on a Sunday from 8pm to midnight Central Time at www.wlip.com/listenlive. The Mothership is flying high!

Evolution 9

August 5, 2010

Tuesday August 3rd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

Any good artist, or person in general for that matter, constantly evolves. Singers, actors, comedians, writers, radio personalities, anyone. Early Elvis and The Beatles are a far cry from their later stuff, and that’s good. Not all fans may like it, but growth causes change.

I’m at a point in my comedy where I’m feeling a huge need to grow. I’ve not had much of a chance to be an ‘artist’, because most of my ‘career’ has been spent trying to eke out a living. Part of that means playing it safe and not taking any artistic risks to get a check.

It’s easy to call that ‘selling out’, and in many ways it’s exactly that, but what’s so damn wrong about it? When push comes to shove, most people in the business would totally do it, and I can’t say I blame them. It’s difficult enough to make a living in the regular world, much less the surreal circus that is show business. I do see why a lot of decisions occur.

In some ways, some sort of conformity is good – at least at the start. It does tend to keep an act grounded in my opinion. It establishes a starting point to evolve from, and it makes it easy to chart progress. Early George Carlin or Richard Pryor weren’t even close to what they were at their end point, but they were both legends in the business. They evolved.

Even Bill Cosby has evolved. I saw him live when I was a kid and he was unbelievably fabulous. Then, I saw him just a few years ago and he was still funny, but talked about his childhood in a completely different way than the Cosby legend most of us are used to did.

He was still great, but in a different way. I think it’s necessary to keep growing or it will all fall in on itself and crumble. This is probably a major reason as to why bands break up, other than it’s extremely difficult to get people to work in harmony for any length of time. Fans want to keep hearing ‘the old stuff’, and musicians want to keep creating new music.

I’m lucky enough where I don’t really have that many fans. I have some, and I’m totally grateful for every single one of them, but in reality I’m a comedy mercenary. I get hired to do various commando jobs around the country, and I’m gone the next day. I’m in and out. That’s how it was in vaudeville, where comedians used to use the same act for fifty years.

Personally, that would be a prison sentence to me. I don’t care how well it paid. I enjoy working and tweaking and reinventing my show and also tailoring it to the specific crowd on that particular evening. That’s part of the joy of performing, and what keeps me going.

In my early twenties, I was extremely angry about a lot of things and out to prove to the world I wasn’t about to take it’s BS. I was green and inexperienced, and made all kinds of stupid mistakes, several of which I’m still paying for today. But I’m not that person now.

George Clinton’s famous quote is “Free your mind, and your ass will follow.” I tweaked it just a little. I have freed my mind, and my act will follow. I’m not sure where it will go, but it will go somewhere. As I grow and change, my act has to or I’ll be in comedy hell.

Star Child Passes

June 18, 2010

Thursday June 17th, 2010 – Champaign, IL

Fans of comedians pale by far in comparison to fans of musicians. I’ve never had even one fan throw any panties toward the stage or pass out when I walked past them. I haven’t seen it with any other comedian either, and I’ve been around a lot of them. It’s not reality.

Music is different. I’ve seen rabid fans of all kinds of music sleep out overnight in front of a ticket office hoping to see a favorite band. There are packs of nomadic people touring across country hawking cheap trinkets and LSD so they can scrape up scratch to gawk at a remnant of The Grateful Dead. I doubt if even one fan has ever walked a mall to see me.

That being said, I’m a fan too. I like George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, and it’s been a life long pursuit. I’m sure Elvis and Beatles fanatics are the same, as are rabid fans of Led Zeppelin, Springsteen, Kiss, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks or just about anyone.

It almost becomes a way of life. One gets to know the band’s music first, but then it’s a constant piecing together of bits of information, trivia, news, rumor, hearsay and nuggets compiled from various sources that combine to produce a body of knowledge about every facet of someone’s favorite band. I don’t think it’s anywhere close to that with comedy.

I’ve always read up on what’s going on with the P-Funk, and since there’s been such an enormous amount of members constantly going in and out, there’s usually some kind of a storyline going on somewhere. Plus, I’ve seen them live so many times I feel like I’m part of the band myself. Everyone has their favorites in every field, and in music this is mine.

It was especially sad to hear of the passing earlier this week of one of the band’s iconic members who has been highly visible since 1972 named Garry ‘Star Child’ Shider. He is known for appearing on stage dressed only in a diaper, but he was also the music director of the band, and co-wrote some of their biggest hits including ‘Atomic Dog’ and others.

Casual fans knew him only as ‘the diaper guy’, but he was a huge part of the live shows and had a big part in the history of it all. George Clinton is so charismatic that he tends to take most of the attention, but the whole group is loaded with talent. I’ve seen them when they’re ‘on’, and there’s nothing like it. I’m sorry Garry will be gone, and he was only 56.

I did a show tonight in Champaign, IL at a sports bar that has a really nice upstairs stage facility. This was their first night, but nobody planned on a game seven of the NBA Finals when they decided to do comedy a few months ago. That, on top of it being summer drew a crowd of maybe 25 in a room that seats 250. Not only that, they all sat in the back rows.

Is this what comedy is coming down to? I sure hope not. I don’t want to see anyone lose money, but I’m sure they did tonight – at least with our show. The downstairs was full for the game, but that’s not the answer. The trick is to get people in the door to make comedy pay for itself and turn a profit. Starting in the summer probably doesn’t help either. It’s an uphill climb in the north. People want to be outside in the warm weather. I know I do too.

The Game Has Changed

March 18, 2010

Wednesday March 17th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

There aren’t very many events that could cheer me up more than an all you can eat sushi dinner paid for by someone else, and that’s exactly what I received this evening from Bill Gorgo and Nick Gaza. What a night! The food was outstanding and so was the company.

There we sat, three old school comedy road dogs talking about what we need to do in a completely different world than when we started back in the boom years. Comedy used to be a lot more regimented than it is now, but I guess the same could be said for life itself.

More and more, rules and guidelines are becoming a thing of the past and everything is headed toward anarchy. In many ways, the internet is the greatest thing that’s happened to human communication since the printing press. In others, it’s the downfall of civilization.

Things are changing at such an alarming rate, nobody really knows what to do next. It’s a constant state of flux, and I for one am struggling to keep up. It’s funny, Bill Gorgo is a computer whiz, and he’s the oldest of the three of us. Nick and I struggle just do to email. We talked about how the former way of doing everything has become obsolete forever.

In comedy, it used to be somewhat of a common path. A comedian started at his or her hometown comedy club, and became good enough to go on the road. Then, he or she put in enough years to move up from opener to feature to headliner in the clubs. Then, it was time for a national television debut, usually with Johnny Carson. Letterman was fine too.

After that, it was an HBO or Showtime special and then a sitcom for a few years. After that, maybe a movie deal. As crazy as it sounds, most of us thought we would eventually have all of those things happen to us. It was just a matter of time. How naive we all were.

The three of us all went in different directions. Bill chose to stay in Chicago and teach high school, at which he excels. He raised a daughter and did comedy as much as he had time for, which was a lot. He worked the Midwest mostly, but went other places as well.

I chose to try radio, but never stopped doing comedy no matter where I was. I did move to L.A. in the mid ‘90s, but I only lasted about a year out there before money ran out. It’s a common story for many, but nobody cares. They only want to hear the tales of success.

Nick Gaza lived in L.A. for about fifteen years. He survived, but never got his big break we all dream of. He decided to move back home and start over, which is THE most brutal decision to have to make because deep down it feels like the dream is over. It really hurts.

He’s not the only one that moved back. I did too, and so do actors, singers, models, ball players, radio and advertising people and every other competitive field that requires talent and people dream about doing. Only a precious few ever hit real pay dirt, and the rest of a long obscure line end up dispersing and trying to salvage a life doing whatever we can do. It takes guts to even try, and I respect all those who do. The only failure is not to attempt.

The only question now is, what to attempt? Anyone and their uncle’s grandmother has a website these days, and the structure of what used to make comedians good has fallen out of repair. There used to be a circuit that we could work and polish our craft. Now, there is no real circuit and it’s everyone for his or herself. The whole world seems to be that way.

In some ways, failure and rejection is a good thing. Failure forces a person to retool and rethink the reasons for the failure and make improvements to try and succeed. A rejection is often an excellent motivation tool that also causes the jilted one to upgrade their effort.

There are legendary stories of The Beatles getting turned down by several record labels and Elvis being rejected at The Grand Old Opry among many others. They overcame their failures and ended up becoming more than just show business successes. They were icons of pop culture, but they also were loaded with talent. They deserved to be superstar acts.

Now, any halfwit with a camera can take a picture of just about anything from a farting baby to a giraffe taking a dump and it gets six million hits from other halfwits with no life and nothing better to do than forward emails with farting babies or pooping zoo animals.

Believe me, I have nothing against farting and pooping email attachments per se, but if it takes bread out of my mouth it sure is a concern. Comedy clubs used to thrive because in the ‘80s the economy wasn’t great, but there wasn’t a computer in every home that had zillions of everything that ever farted, pooped, screwed or fell down cataloged in order.

How the hell is any form of entertainment supposed to compete with the internet and all that is available for absolutely ZERO money? None of us at dinner could come up with a solid answer. Yes, we know that live entertainment is better, but how can we sell that to a big enough group of people that will come out every week to see us at some local club?

The whole playing field has changed, and no matter who likes it that’s what all of us are dealing with right now. Idiots with no experience or direction can call themselves comics and undercut the hell out of real ones and make life a living hell for those earning a living by practicing a craft that’s taken years to learn. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

My friend Marc Schultz is a booker as was his father before him. Marc has stayed in the business for thirty years, and the reason for that is he knows his customers and their needs and fills those needs for a reasonable price. His reputation is stellar, and he doesn’t have a website and says he never will. I used to tease him about it but now I can see his reasons.

Bill Gorgo, Nick Gaza and I have been around the block more than once. All three of us see what’s happening, even though we’re not exactly sure about how to counteract it right yet. We’re either going to end up figuring that out, or join the bread lines with the masses.

This is a very challenging time for everyone. Those who don’t enjoy change are in for a rough time. Old dog or new pup, things aren’t like they were just a few years ago. We are all going to have to adjust to survive. I’m not sure if I like it, but this is how life is today.