Posts Tagged ‘The Crusher’

Happy Birthday Crusher

July 13, 2013

Thursday July 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Some people just have ‘it’ – an abstract and intangible quality that can be extremely difficult to describe by itself, but is instantly recognizable by a possessor. There aren’t many considering the bulk of the population is up over seven billion, but when one comes along they make their mark.

   ‘It’ is a magnetic charisma that emanates from within, and can be a powerful force when taken advantage of properly. Most of the major entertainers have this quality to some degree, and that’s a big reason why they attain success. They have something desirable that not everyone else gets.

   One of those people that happened to be a major influence throughout my entire childhood was one Reggie Lisowski – aka “The Crusher”. He was a professional wrestler who happened to hail from my home town of Milwaukee, and had a legion of loyal fans who followed his every move.

   The Crusher was Milwaukee’s Elvis, and everyone loved him. He was built like a mailbox with a gravelly voice, bleach blonde hair and big eyes that would bug out when telling what he had on the agenda for his next opponent who he would often refer to as a ‘bum’, ‘turkeyneck’ or both.

   Despite the fact that Crusher was in his 50s at the time, his local legend was strong and he was able to jam pack the Milwaukee Arena whenever he wrestled. I was fortunate enough to see him live many times throughout my childhood and teen years, and when he walked down the aisle to make his grand entrance into the ring it was like nothing else I have ever seen before or since.

   He was loaded with ‘it’, and had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand from before he would even step into the ring. There was a feeling of pure electricity before he came out of the dressing room, and by the time he stepped into the ring it was full blown pandemonium. He was a legend.    

   The Crusher was born on this date in 1926, and died on October 22nd, 2005. I remember when I heard he’d passed, and how it seemed so surreal that such a powerful figure that was built up as such an indestructible hero for so many years could now be gone. He was Milwaukee’s favorite.   

   I was performing on New Year’s Eve at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee one year, and they have giant glass elevators that can fit a large number of people. I was coming back from my gig and the elevator I was in was full. I could distinctly hear a gravelly voice in the rear of the elevator, and I wondered who had the audacity to do a bad impression of The Crusher.  

   When we got to the lobby, I saw it was the man himself. We were both in tuxedos, and I had to go up and say hello. He was very nice, and thanked me for saying nice things. I meant every one of them, and I’ll never forget the feeling of shaking his hand that felt like rough grade sandpaper.

   The Crusher never made the huge money wrestlers or athletes in general make today, but he’s a  legitimate superstar to more than one generation of not only Milwaukeeans but everywhere that he wrestled. He had that magic charisma that few ever get, and he used it as much as he could.

   According to numerology, those born on the 11th and 22nd tend to be special and influence a lot of people. After I heard this, I noticed how many celebrities happen to have birthdays on an ‘11’ or ‘22’ and think there may be something to it. Rodney Dangerfield has a ‘22′ for a birthday and so does George Clinton – two of my favorites also loaded with ‘it’. My personal supply of ‘it’ is questionable, but I do the best I can. The Crusher was loaded, and I still love him today.

One of my most prized possessions to this day.

One of my most prized possessions to this day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Wrestling With Radio

December 28, 2012

Thursday December 27th, 2012 – Reno, NV

   Doing radio and sometimes television interviews to promote shows while in a town is a crucial part of being a professional comedian and an entertainer in general. When I was a kid, I watched AWA professional wrestling and became mesmerized by the interviews with characters like Mad Dog Vachon, Nick Bockwinkel and Milwaukee’s hometown hero Da Crusher. I lived for all of it.

Those colorful interviews were what whetted the fans’ appetite to go see live shows, and I was hip to that concept at an early age. I loved watching the interviews more than the actual wrestling itself – which I later found out wasn’t wrestling at all. It was all a big show, but when I found that out I enjoyed it even more. It was world class entertainment, and that was good enough for me.

I’ve done hundreds if not thousands of local, regional and even national radio interviews in my time, not to mention more than my share of TV also. I always try to be animated and entertaining as much as possible but still get in as many plugs for the show as I can. There’s an art to doing it.

I happen to enjoy the challenge of adapting to whatever on air situation I’m in, but a whole lot of comedians I know can’t stand it. It’s a chore to them, and they go in the studio with an attitude and that usually guarantees failure before they ever start. They don’t realize how important it is.

Granted, some interviewers can be downright horrible. Even in bigger markets, talentless radio pinheads who think they’re funny either continuously step on punch lines or feel the need to try and top everything the comedian says. I’ve seen it all, and can pretty much handle any situation.

What’s important to always remember is that even one three to five minute slot on the radio or television gives an act more exposure than if they’d appear at the club or venue they’re plugging every single night for a year. It’s smart business to take advantage of every appearance possible.

I’ve been lucky enough to be on both sides of the microphone in comedy and radio so I’ve seen countless examples of how a variety of others handle themselves. Only a few really put an effort into it, and I try to be one of them. I don’t want to waste even a second of air time if I can help it.

This morning I had a fantastic opportunity to be on the air with my old friend Bill Schulz. Bill started working for the company the same week I did in 1996. We’re both from Milwaukee, and it was funny that we’d never met each other in person until we got to Reno. He got hired to work at the oldies station, and I was at the country station in the same cluster. We grew to be friends.

As luck would have it, my station changed formats and I got blown out the door but Bill ended up staying and becoming a local radio fixture. He’s now on ‘Alice’ at www.alice965.com and he and his partner Connie rule the roost around these parts. Good for Bill, as he’s a fantastic person.

Bill was there through my infamous bank robbery ordeal, and asked if I would tell the story on air. That’s always a show stopper, and anywhere I’ve told it people come to the club and ask me questions about it, so I know it works. It’s my radio secret weapon, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Crusherbill schultz

Meeting Dusty Rhodes

May 10, 2010

Saturday May 8th, 2010 – St. Charles, IL

I’ve never hidden my deep affinity for old school professional wrestling. I loved it as a kid, and when I found out it was all predetermined I loved it even more. It was a fantastic show, and the more I got into performing myself the more I realized just how charismatic those guys really were. They built personas and used them to sell tickets to kids like me.

Over the years I’ve gotten to meet quite a few of my childhood pro wrestling heroes and the thrill never goes away. From Nick Bockwinkel to The Crusher to Baron Von Raschke to Ric Flair to ’Luscious Johnny’ and ’Handsome Jimmy’ Valiant, I admire them all still.

The only one who was in a salty mood when I met him was Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan. He was one of my all time faves, and to catch him on an off day was unfortunate. I got to shake his hand, but that’s about it. I’d heard he had surgery for throat cancer, and I didn’t want to give the guy any trouble. He’s suffered enough. I still think he’s an all time great.

Today I got the chance to not only meet ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes but have a pizza lunch with him at an appearance in St. Charles, IL at a Holiday Inn Express. I paid $50 for the chance and it was worth every penny. I heard about it on Facebook and signed up immediately. The date ended up getting moved to today, but I was still able to attend.

The lady who put it on is named Heather Klinger, and she delivered everything she said she would do. I was totally impressed at the way everything was handled, and it was a fun event all around. Her website is http://www.klingerpromotions.com and I hope she keeps doing this. I know it’s difficult to coordinate something like this but it came off without a hitch.

Dusty Rhodes is right up there with the most charismatic wrestlers there ever was. He’s got the gift of gab and really uses it well. He was one of the best interviews of all time for his entire career, even though he never had the huge chiseled physique of a Hulk Hogan.

He was a regular Joe, and that was his gimmick. I remember him as a bad guy when he started, and he was known as ‘Dirty’ Dusty Rhodes. He was tag team partners with fellow Texan Dick Murdoch and they wrestled as ‘The Texas Outlaws’. Years later Sam Kinison borrowed that name in comedy for his band of traveling comedy friends. It fit both times.

Eventually Dusty became so popular he had to become a good guy. He put butts in seats and that’s what entertainment is all about. He did it again today, as probably sixty or more people paid $50 to meet him and get an autograph or photo. Afterward we were lead to an area where they brought out pizzas, and Dusty proceeded to hold court with the audience.

He was very entertaining and had some great stories. He took questions from those who had any, and the people in attendance were very respectful and asked good ones. It was an outstanding event from top to bottom, and I’m glad I did it. I got a chance to give him my CD and he said he’d listen to it. Whether he does or not, it was a very pleasant experience because he knew how to work the room. Everyone in attendance was a satisfied customer.