Posts Tagged ‘The D-List’

The Highest Vibe

April 10, 2013

Tuesday April 9th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

    I can’t help but think about how good I’ve been feeling of late. It’s a feeling of contentment on a deep level that permeates my entire being. It’s actually a bit scary in a way, but it feels like I’ve finally hit full stride in life on a cosmic level and my possibilities of positive growth are endless.

   I don’t know why I know this, but I do. I feel it. I’ve felt the other side of the spectrum too, and this isn’t it. Maybe it’s just the opposite side of bipolar, but I don’t think so. I’ve always pictured life to be exactly like this, and it finally is. I don’t know why it took so long, but it’s here now.

   When I was working on the morning show at 93QFM in Milwaukee in 1991, I felt like I was in the same position then. All I ever wanted was to have an outlet for my creativity, and I thought it was going to be that. I was doing comedy and on radio, and knew exactly what I wanted to do.

   I wanted to create a local empire, and in a way it was the early version of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ I had guests on the air who were local celebrities, and I could feel it was going to be a winner back then. Unfortunately, management didn’t and it all came crumbling down before I could set it up.

   My friend Drew Olson was one of the few who shared that vision. He wanted to build a strong local network of contacts, so he could get anything he needed at any time whether it was tickets to a ball game or his car worked on. He was willing to give too, as was I. We both saw it clearly.

   Drew is now doing exactly that working on ‘The D List’ on 540 ESPN Radio in Milwaukee. It took a while, but we’re both in a pretty good position locally. He’s always been a great friend for years, and we’ve helped each other countless times. He gets it, and it gives me hope to continue.  

   It isn’t just about being on a local level though. Being the King of Milwaukee was something I wanted then, but now it’s not my priority. It would be a kick if ‘Schlitz Happened!’ catches on to enjoy a long successful run, but if it doesn’t I’m still ok inside. This feeling is deeper than local.

   I’m just in a groove that I know is the right way to be. I’m grateful for every day, and all that’s in it. My food tastes great, and even the car that’s been such a pain in the ball joints is not giving me any hassles. If it blows up tomorrow – and it might – I have a better one waiting in the wings.

   That’s just it. Nothing overwhelming is bothering me right now. Sure, I have little frustrations any busy person has but it’s not deeply rooted in the anger I used to have toward who knows the number of sources. I was pissed off at a lot of things for a long time, but now I’m not letting any of it get to me. I feel a layer of cosmic insulation around me and I’m focusing on what I need to.

   For whatever reason, I feel an air of confidence about me I can’t say I’ve ever had. I am going to be successful no matter what I do, and it’s my choice of what it is. If ‘Schlitz Happened!’ is a flop, I’ll come up with something else. If I move from Chicago, I’ll be fine. If they find a tumor the size of a Cornish hen in my brain pan and I check out in a week, even that’s ok. I can take it.

   I feel like there’s a whole new vibe coming out of me, and it’s the exact one I have wanted to have forever. Whatever dents in my can caused me to make the many stupid mistakes I did aren’t hurting me now, and I don’t know why. Is it just because I’m maturing? Is it something that I did knowingly or unknowingly? That’s a good question. I have no idea why I’m in such a high place, but I know I belong here. I’ve pictured it since I was a kid, and I’m here. NOW it’s time for fun!  

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The Royal Treatment

March 17, 2013

Wednesday March 13th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   Today quite possibly could go down as THE single most fun day I’ve ever experienced. I had a chance to be the center of attention at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game tonight in full regal splendor as the King of Uranus, and it was exactly what I thought it would be – a hilarious thrill!

The team has long been known for their stellar and original promotions, and this was ‘Salute to Uranus’ night. They put it in their ads, and I heard back from all kinds of people saying they had heard my name everywhere. I hadn’t planned on my name being attached to this gimmick, so the team did me a favor by getting my name out there too. I don’t mind either way, it was just FUN.

The character itself is still in development, but the fact that an adult would dress up like a goof willingly is a sure way to garner attention. If it weren’t true, they wouldn’t keep sending all those poor saps out in public dressed as the Statue of Liberty trying to drum up business for tax places.

If nothing else, it turns heads for a short second even if only to have the person gawking at the costumed kook think “Well at least it’s not ME.” This is the same principle, but it was received well by everyone and turned out to be an amazing experience. I know I’m on to something here.

It helped immeasurably that the team was totally behind this. Jon Greenberg is on top of things, and always has been. He’s the president of the team, but everyone else was great too. Director of Marketing Tim Van Wagoner worked extremely hard to come up with a true or false quiz to give fans on the bench where they’d give a thumbs up or down. It was the ‘Thumbs up Uranus’ quiz.

I also got to drop the ceremonial first puck before the game, and to see the looks on the faces of the players alone was worth my trip. They gawked at me like I really was from outer space, and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. It was exactly the reaction I wanted, and I played it up.

Another major highlight was getting to be part of the ‘Human Hockey Puck’ contest. That’s the one that everyone talked about. There’s a huge sling shot and five fans are put on a plastic flying saucer sled one at a time and slung across the ice to knock down targets like bowling pins to win prizes. I’d seen it done before, but being part of it in full King regalia was a treat I won’t forget.

Between the first and second period I got to sit and sign autographs if anyone was interested in getting one. Jon Greenberg and I had no idea if anyone would show up, but there was a long line of fans wanting pictures and autographs and I felt like Elvis for twenty minutes. It was a big hit!

My friend Drew Olson from 540 ESPN Radio came out to support, and we laughed like school girls backstage about how fun this whole thing really was. He’s seen most if not all of my wacky stunts over the years and he has the full perspective of how much it took to bring this idea to life.

Drew’s radio partner Dan Needles ran a blurb about it on his WISN TV 12 sports cast, and I’m very grateful for the exposure. It cemented the evening, and I’ll remember it forever. It was a big thrill to be able to pull this off, and if nobody else is impressed I don’t care. This one was for me!

Dabbling For A Day

February 23, 2010

Sunday February 21st, 2010 – West Allis, WI/Kenosha, WI

I promised my friend Richard Caan I’d take his table at the sports card show at Gonzaga Hall in West Allis, WI because he wanted the month off. I pieced together some scraps of collectible things I wanted to unload and arrived at 8:58am for a show that started at 9:00.

Nobody is ever going to get rich at that place, but for a $25 table investment I threw out my trinkets and spent the day haggling with the local chiselers. Milwaukeeans are right up there with the Scots as being cheap, so prying any money at all out of anyone is a miracle.

I did manage to make my table fee and a few bucks more, but not much. What set me in the black was finding out I had won the Super Bowl squares pool from last month and my $5 gamble paid off with $85! That was an unexpected break and I gratefully accepted it.

I’ll always enjoy the card hobby, but it’s not what it was. Nobody is hauling in millions, but that’s ok. It’s a social club to hang out with friends, and I love having a monthly time to just relax and escape the rest of the world. Yes, I bought all those cards and I wish now I hadn’t, but that won’t kill me. I’ll unload them eventually but keep a few for myself too.

What I noticed today more than ever was guys I normally don’t talk to coming up to me and asking about comedy or radio. They’d either heard me with Jerry’s Kidders on WGN or on The D-List on ESPN AM 540 in Milwaukee. I had no idea they even listened or had a clue who I was, but quite a few of them did and it felt really good to have them say so.

I never looked at myself as anything but a regular guy, but it felt like I was a celebrity or something by the way people were treating me. They would quote back a line I said on air that made them laugh, and I was amazed at how long they’d waited to come and tell me. I guess setting up as a dealer put me in their peer group, and I enjoyed being in it for a day.

I’m not going to kid myself though. I’ll never be a full time card dealer. That takes a ton of work doing all kinds of things I’m not good at, and on top of that the market isn’t close to what it once was. Richard will be back at his table next month, and I’m out. OK by me.
I’ve dabbled in this my whole life and drifted in and out. It’s a hobby, that’s what it’s for.

With everything else I’ve got going on, the card tide is drifting out again. That’s totally fine, I’ve had my fun. If I never see another card show I won’t complain, but if I decide I want to get back in it, I can do that too. It’s nice to have options, but now I need money.

I’ll take my $80 profit from the football pool and run. Maybe I can use it to finance my next set of comedy classes. Making copies of paperwork and buying binders will cost me right around that much. That’s what I need to be creating – multiple streams of income.

The Mothership Connection radio show tonight on WLIP AM 1050 in Kenosha was fun as usual. I got to dabble in radio all night like I dabbled in cards all day. That’s the best of all worlds, minus the money. If I can’t make money, at least I’ll have fun. Today was fun.

Big Odds And Bob Uecker

January 27, 2010

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee today for an appearance on The D-List radio show on ESPN 540  with Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I always love hanging out on the air and they give me walk on status to come in pretty much any time I want. I really appreciate that but I never want to abuse the privilege so I always try to have something to contribute when I’m on.

Today I didn’t have to do much at all, so I tried to insert a few quick lines and then stay out of the way. The whole Brett Favre situation was still the talk of the town and I let the guys take the show where they wanted. They were on a roll so I just sat back and listened. I cracked off a couple of halfway decent lines, but I didn’t want to force it so I laid low.

They have celebrity guests in on Tuesdays and today it was Brian Calhoun, a free agent NFL running back who played with the Detroit Lions from 2006-2008. He played college ball at both Colorado and Wisconsin and he went to high school in the Milwaukee area.

What a nice guy he is. He was very laid back and excellent on the air and he fit in really well with the show. I was fascinated with his stories on air and off of his experience as an NFL player, and all that it takes to get there. He had some pretty nasty injuries, including a ‘ripped quadriceps’. Yeowch. It made us all flinch, and that was just hearing about it.

I can’t imagine the pain of the actual injury, but that’s part of life as a professional. The guy is built like an absolute rock, and has giant hands that could probably twist my melon head off like a bottle cap. If anyone can recover from a ripped anything, I’d bet on Brian.

It occurred to me as I listened to the interview that the odds of being a household name and a genuine star at anything are way beyond astronomical. I mean, here’s a guy that has amazing athletic talent and was at the top of his class in high school and TWO colleges.

Still, he only gets drafted in the third round. ‘Only’, like that’s an insult. It isn’t, and it’s what made me think of just how rare it is to be a top five or ten first round draft choice in any major sport. Even after that, there’s no guarantee of success. A lot of people bust out.

Brian said he still wants to play in the NFL and I’m really rooting for him. He’s over his injuries and said he’s 100% and hopes his agent can land him a job somewhere. That also was a red flag when I heard it. Now he has to jump through all those hoops as well as the actual training and dedication it takes to be a player. Those guys are treated like cattle.

He also said he played on the Detroit Lions 0-16 team in 2008. Everyone made fun of it at the time, but nobody did today because we all realized just how much effort it takes for anyone to even make an NFL roster, much less win a championship, much less one game.

And, no offense to Brian at all, but now he’s gone. He’s only 25, but every year there’s a new crop of young bucks coming up from all over that want to take his job. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and I have nothing but respect for the guy. I hope he gets to return.

Another guy I have nothing but respect and admiration for is Bob Uecker. Today is his birthday and I still want to meet him in person before I take a stray bullet or crash my car again. He’s always been one of my very favorite comics, even though he’s not a standup.

The guy is just FUNNY. Period. He’s got ‘it’, and I’ve found him to be hilarious since I started listening to him do Brewer games on the radio with Merle Harmon as a kid. Then I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and realized he was using the boring parts of games to polish his bits for TV, and the Brewers were pretty bad to say the least.

At the time I had no idea how the process of comedy worked so I’d watch him rattle off stories I’d heard before on the radio, but they were trimmed down to a streamlined polish and flowed seamlessly with a smooth easy rhythm like he was just saying it off the top of his head. Johnny would go nuts and it felt kind of cool to see a local guy on national TV.

Bob Uecker is another example of the numbers game. He plays it up like he was a very poor player, but the truth is he made the major leagues in the early ‘60s when there were  a lot fewer teams. He also lasted for quite a few years and played on a World Series team in ‘64 with St. Louis. There are a LOT of players who never came close to doing all that.

That being said, he still was never a star player. He’s light years ahead of the people on the street, but in the game he was just another guy. He made the most of what he could do with what he had, and then he moved on as crop after crop of new talent kept coming up.

Yes, he sure did find his niche as a broadcaster – so much so that he made Cooperstown. But how many other guys did he play with that went back to their hometown and found a dead end job and drifted off into obscurity? Probably a lot. The whole thing really blows my mind, and it actually puts me in a good space about what I’ve achieved in comedy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big comedy star. I’m not even a small to medium. I’m an above average performer just like Brian Calhoun and Bob Uecker are above average with what they chose to pursue. Both of them made the big time, and that’s no small task for a person in any competitive field like sports or entertainment. A precious few become stars.

I made it to the big time by getting on national TV, even if it was only for a few minutes at 1am. I did it, and it went well. I didn’t embarrass myself, or the network either. I could easily go on and do it again, and would love the opportunity just as Brian Calhoun wants to get another shot at the NFL. It’s not a matter of if he can do it, it’s will he get his shot?

I’m in the same boat in comedy. I could do an infinite number of appearances, but now it’s a matter of how and where will I get that shot? I don’t know, but it’s not out of line to think it COULD happen. Still, there’s no guarantee it will lead to becoming a big star.

The thing we all have to do is keep plugging and do the best we can do. It’s all a major roll of the dice, and odds are against everyone. Bob Uecker played them and won. Brian Calhoun and I are still hoping to hit our jackpot. Someone wins the lotteries, why not us?