Posts Tagged ‘The Late Late Show’

A Cup Of Coffee

July 28, 2014

Tuesday July 22nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Oh, how time flies. Four years ago today my appearance on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” aired. I’d recorded it the previous March, and by the time it ran I honestly thought it would never air. When it did, it was a tremendous experience – at least for people around me.

For whatever reason, that super short four and a half minutes on national television at 1:30am was a whole lot more impressive to people than the lifetime it took to get there. To me it wasn’t that big of a deal, because it was the easy part. All I had to do was walk out there and do a whole lot less time than I’m used to doing. It was like a night off, but that’s what put me over the top.

As far as credibility is concerned, making it to national television even once is proof of having played in the majors. It’s not a guarantee of a lifetime of problem free bliss, but neither is making the majors in any kind of sport or entertainment genre. Lots of people have more problems after they get there than before they started, and I’m sure more than a few wish they had never started.

There is so much involved to “making it big” in any genre of entertainment, but the one factor nobody can ever gain control over is luck. Things happen good and bad, and that’s just how it is. I freely admit that I got very lucky in a good way to have the door open to get on the show, but I also knew what to do with that luck when I got it. I had to play the game for a while, but I did it.

I went back and forth with the talent booker, and then they changed talent bookers. Then they did it again. Then the original person came back, and I started all over again. It took a couple of years to play out, but I got my spot and no matter what else I ever do nobody can take that away.

Several years have gone by now, and I haven’t gotten anything close to that kind of a break in anything I’ve tried. Did I put forth any less effort during that time? NO WAY. In fact, I probably put in more, but I had a few bad breaks health wise and that took me out. Again, it’s all part of it. That was a bad break just like initially getting the call to open for Craig Ferguson was positive.

After living through this process and seeing it with others I know personally, I totally see why there are one hit wonders in music. If it’s this complicated for a comedian, I can’t begin to think what it must be like for a band. Talent isn’t the only thing that puts an act over the top. It’s many things, and everything has to line up at the right place and time for a career to really take root.

None of this is said with bitterness, but I think it’s important to note that there are a number of ingredients needed to bake a cake. I’ll also be the first to admit I’ve shot myself in the foot more than once, but that happens to others too. Michael Vick is one of the most blatant examples of all time, but he still managed to come back and salvage a decent career. Not everyone gets that shot.

It’s hard to say if I will ever catch another break as big as the ones I’ve already had. No matter what happens from now on though, I did manage to get on national television as a comedian and had a job doing mornings at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago. In radio, that’s the big leagues as well.

Not many ever make it to one of those much less both, but the key is to stay there and carve out a career. I had a cup of coffee but that was it. So far. Maybe that will be it. Maybe not. We’ll see.

Success in show business requires more than just a cup of coffee on TV. One has to make a mark. That's harder than it sounds.

Success in show business requires more than just a cup of coffee on TV. One has to make a mark. That’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Craig Ferguson

May 2, 2014

Wednesday April 30th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Craig Ferguson is stepping down from his job as host of “The Late Late Show” on CBS after a ten year run. For some reason, quite a few people took it upon themselves to seek me out because they couldn’t believe anyone would do that. Why they asked me, I have no idea. Maybe I’m their closest conduit to actual show business – even though I’m light years away from Craig Ferguson.

I guess because I was on the show they thought I’d have some inside information. Far from it. I wasn’t in on any staff meetings, and I was only on one time for 4 ½ minutes in 2010. Still, I have some educated guesses why he would quit, and it’s no surprise at all. Show business is a vampire that sucks blood from everywhere and everyone. The higher the level of it, the sharper the teeth.

About as close to corporate show business as I have come would be working in radio. That was a stench ridden ugly nightmare, and dealing with the idiot brigade of management was a draining of dignity. Nobody cares anything about anyone as a human being, and it can be a soulless grind.

I can only imagine how insane it must be to have to deal with the network serpents, and I’d bet Craig Ferguson had more than his share of head butting sessions with all of them. He’s a creative guy and very funny in my opinion, and he knows what he’s doing. The suits don’t like to have to deal with anybody like that, because they’re a threat. They want robots that do what they’re told.

Any creative mind has a vision of how things should run, and often there’s a clash with people that aren’t creative at all. I’ve had those clashes all my life, and it can be ultimate frustration not to mention an incredible energy drain. Being distracted by all these fleas gets under the skin fast.

I would bet that Craig had his fill, even though I thought his show was far better than all of the others of that genre. I don’t watch a lot of those shows, but from what I’ve seen his was the most unique and consistently funny whenever I saw it. I’m not just saying that because I was on it. I’d think that even if I wasn’t or had done another show. I really am a fan of him and what he does.

Another sticking point that may or may not be a factor is that he was bypassed for Letterman’s slot. According to an interview I read he said it wasn’t an issue, but who knows? I thought it was a no brainer to give that job to him, but again I’m not in that circle. Mr. Colbert may do just fine.

I think the public assumes that big time show business runs smoothly, and the people in charge are all competent and benevolent souls that know what they’re doing. They have no reason to put any thought into it, because they have their own problems dealing with their own crop of morons in whatever career path they’re trying to pursue. The fact is that halfwits in charge are universal.

Craig Ferguson is a talented guy and I wish him only the best. He was very genuine when I met him the few times I did, and he had a fabulous run with his show. Ten years is a terrific ride, and I’d have to think he’s ok financially at this point. I’m sure he’ll regroup and come back when he has a new project of some sort. I’d love to cross paths with him again, and being on his show was one of the highlights of my life. I had a blast, and he could not have been nicer. He’s not done yet There’s too much talent there.

Why would Craig Ferguson walk away from a network TV job? One word - IDIOTS. He had a great run, and I wouldn't count him out just yet.

Why would Craig Ferguson walk away from a network TV job? One word – IDIOTS. He had a terrific run. I wouldn’t count him out just yet.

Art Appreciation

October 30, 2013

Sunday October 27th, 2013 – Springfield, IL/Madison, WI

I took a detour home from Springfield, IL today and drove up to Madison, WI to hang out with my friend Art Hinty. Art is a seasoned sportswriter by trade, and has an extremely creative mind. He has done standup comedy for years, and was part of Doug Stanhope’s inner circle for a while.

Like me, Art is originally from Milwaukee. He moved to the suburb of Sussex as a kid, but it’s not all that far from the city so he is very familiar with all things local. He totally gets where I am trying to go with my “Schlitz Happened!” show, and I wanted to pick his brain for my next run.

He’s already been very helpful with input, and I give him total credit. He’s the one that thought of the tag line “An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” after I told him what my title was. He’s the perfect sounding board to bounce ideas off of, because he gets both comedy and local flavor.

Art came out to see the show when I was at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino last April, and took the time to write out a detailed three page critique and make suggestions of how I could grow it into a local hit. He was dead on with his observations, and I appreciate his interest.

I never thought I was smart enough to pull this project off by myself. I knew going in I’d need plenty of help and support, and I’ve gotten it from a lot of talented people. Vicki Quade of “Late Night Catechism” and many other successful plays has been very supportive, and she drove up in April from Chicago to not only see the show but bring a friend with clout who could help sell it.

Bob Rech and the entire staff at Northern Lights Theatre have been unbelievably supportive, as has Joe San Felippo from Bonkerz Comedy Clubs. He books the comedy shows in the theatre on Saturday nights, and gave me the thumbs up for the trial run in April. I’m grateful to everybody.

I’m going to need a lot more help and support, but I feel supremely confident that it will come. I have another run set to go in December, and I’m gearing up to make major improvements. I am still in the very beginning stages, and smart decisions need to be made as the show gets rolling.

Eventually I want to have local corporate sponsorship and a line of merchandise to sell, but for now I need to keep fleshing out the show and making it solid. I experimented a lot in April, and I also learned a lot. The audiences were there, and they got what I was talking about. That’s great, but now I need to take it to the next level and craft an actual set show that I can polish for years.

Art is the perfect choice to consult for this, and I bought him dinner at Longhorn Steak House as appreciation not only for his time and ideas, but for a really nice thing he did for me years ago when I was going to do my appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS TV. He passed the hat and asked local comedians to donate for my trip to LA. What a sweet gesture.

Getting money out of comedians for anything is nothing short of miraculous, and I never forgot how kind it was for him to do that. Art is a wonderful and talented person, and that alone made it worth my trip to thank him for doing that. As an added bonus, we watched the Packers stomp the purple out of the nefarious Minnesota Vikings and that was the perfect way to end the day. Steak and football can never go wrong, nor can comedy and friendship. http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

Art Hinty - sports writer, comedian, creative sounding board

Art Hinty – sports writer, comedian and creative sounding board

Back On Television

January 29, 2013

Thursday January 24th, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN

This year could just end up being my best one after all! I caught a totally unexpected but highly appreciated break this evening by being asked to participate in a television taping just outside of Indianapolis in the town of Danville, IN at a gorgeous historic venue called The Royal Theatre.

Tom Sobel from Louisville, KY suggested me for this gig and I’m thrilled he did. I have a very good relationship with Tom, and I’m flattered he thought of me when he heard there was one last spot available. He asked if I wanted it, and although it didn’t pay I took it to update my resume.

Any time it’s possible to get on a TV show I need to take it. That’s how people get discovered, not only by fans but other TV shows. When I was on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’ on CBS it was seen by the producer of Byron Allen’s ‘Comics.tv’ and I got on that show as well.

Tonight’s show was a winner all around, and an absolute joy to be a part of.  It was a taping for Comcast and apparently will be for On Demand viewing. There were nine acts on the bill and we each did an eight minute set along with an interview. There were no weak acts and it was a blast.

It was one of those nights where the right crowd was in the right venue for the right acts and all of us knocked it out of the park in perfect order. Everything went exactly how it was supposed to and when that happens standup comedy can be a wonderful experience. This was worth my trip.

The show was produced by a guy out of Indianapolis named Mark Craycraft. He’s been doing comedy since the ‘80s, and we crossed paths early on. I didn’t think he’d remember me from that long ago, but he did and couldn’t have been nicer to not only me but everyone else on the show.

There were no divas on this night, and everything just fell into place perfectly. We all got along splendidly, and I wish I could bottle up the vibe and spread it around the comedy world. This put me in a great mood, and gave me hope for other great things happening this year. It’s about time.

This was a perfect practice run for the Laughing Skull Festival in March, and if it’s any hint of things to come I’m more than ready to be seen by someone who can make things happen. I had a killer set, and Mark put me last because Tom Sobel knew I had experience and could throw heat.

I have a high energy level and it turned out to be the perfect order, but there were some quality veteran acts on the show including Scott Long, Mo Alexander and BT who also brought it home. Even the newer acts were well received. This was just one of those magic nights we all dream of.

It was an extra special treat to get to meet Mack Dryden, formerly of the super successful team of Mack and Jamie. They had a highly rated TV show, and had quite a remarkable run. I’m a big fan, and now Mack is doing corporate work. It was a thrill to hang out and talk before the show.

Mack stayed for my set when he didn’t have to and told Tom I was a ‘force of nature’. What an outstanding endorsement from someone I totally respect and admire. This was a great evening of fun all around, and I wasn’t even planning for it. If this is how 2013 is going to be, I’m loving it.