Posts Tagged ‘Tim Allen’

Approaching Anarchy

August 7, 2013

Monday August 5th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Is anyone able to fully keep up with how quickly the whole world is changing? I gave up years ago, and have all I can do trying to squeak through another day. There used to be at least a bit of order in the way life worked, but now it’s completely out of control. Anarchy is the new reality.

   How does anyone raising kids know what to tell them about their future? The world today isn’t even close to the world of even twenty years ago, and I shudder to think what’s in store in twenty more. My generation is going to be the official last of the old farts, as we remember how it was.

   It’s hard to say what generation is better or worse, but nobody can deny it’s radically different today than it’s ever been. Progress has been happening at an unbelievable pace for what – maybe 150 years? Before that, most of society crapped in the woods and had to shoot their own food.

   Then the wheels of progress started turning, and life got consistently better. It’s a lot like gears in a transmission. We’re now in passing gear and flying down the freeway so fast we’re burying the needle and have no idea how fast we’re going. It may be a thrill ride, but it’s also dangerous.

   I look at standup comedy as an example, as that’s what I know. It’s not the same game as when I started, and those starting out today have a completely different set of obstacles to overcome. In my day, at least it was possible to make a living as one came up the ladder and learned the craft.

   There was plenty of quality work in comedy clubs across North America, and at least there was somewhat of a route to take to rise up the ranks. The rough model was to work up to the position of comedy club headliner, and then hope for a TV spot on a network talk show like Letterman or Carson.  After that it was hopefully an HBO or Showtime special, and then hopefully a sitcom.

   Very few actually attained all those things, but enough did to keep the dream alive for all of us grunts slugging it out in the trenches. Tim Allen was one, as was Roseanne. There was also Paul Reiser, Drew Carey and eventually Jerry Seinfeld. All kinds of road comedians I knew received development deals with networks paying them big money to use as guinea pigs for new shows.

   It’s nothing like that today. That little thing called the internet has revolutionized the planet on every level, and I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I do know it’s not going anywhere, so there has to be a new plan of attack not only for newbies but for seasoned veterans like me still out there.

   Tonight I hosted the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago. There was a very solid lineup of young talent trying to break through, but to what? Comedy club work? Good luck with that at $4 a gallon gas prices and ten times as many bad comedians trolling for a shrinking work base.

   The ‘circuit’ that most people who aren’t comedians assume exists keeps getting smaller every year, and it’s harder for even experienced headliners like me to bring in work every week. It used to be somewhat attainable for a lot more than it is now. I don’t know how anyone does it today.

   You Tube is another death knell for the comedy business. Why should anyone come to see live comedy when they can see every standup comic that ever lived on their computer – and not have to pay one cent in cover charges or drink minimums? That’s a serious question, and I haven’t the slightest idea of what the answer is. It’s not ever going to be like it was, so I better adapt with the times or start working in a coal mine. The times, they are a changin’ – but way too fast. It’s scary.

Hometown Homecoming

May 21, 2010

Thursday May 20th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Today it was back up to Milwaukee for a lunch with Tom Skibosh, former P.R. director for the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s a super nice guy, and I was hooked up with him through my power network of Milwaukee shaker/baker types. I’m learning it pays to be patient, as eventually good things do happen. It’s taken years to build up this quality people network.

‘Sky’ said can help me put a plan together for the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ one man show as far as things like making media contacts and getting an actual program published. He’s an expert on that kind of stuff and has years of experience doing exactly that for the Brewers.

Sky’s assistant was Jon Greenberg, now president of the Milwaukee Admirals. Greenie has always been great to me, and still continues to throw bones my way whenever he can. These are the kinds of people that I want to be around, and in return I’ve done favors for a lot of them as well. Nobody keeps score either, it’s a bunch of friends helping each other.

Some of the best on that list include Drew Olson, Steve ‘The Homer’ True, Ted Perry at Fox 6, Mark Krueger, Art Kumbalek, Gene Mueller, my friend Wade Waugus who works for the Bucks and started there when we were ball boys in high school. These are people I would do anything for, and they’ve proven it time and time again by doing things for me.

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to escape Milwaukee, but that’s where I come from and nothing will ever change it. I had so many painful memories there, and all I wanted to do was get out of town and forget them. I thought that would do it, but I was wrong. I still had them rotting inside. It didn’t matter where I went, all that ugliness was still festering.

All these years later, I’m a completely different person. I’ve worked through my painful family mess, at least to the point where I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I proved it to myself by successfully chasing and catching my dream of being a full time comedian. Family and childhood are things I couldn’t control. Things I could have been successful.

I’m seeing things a lot more clearly than I ever have, and even with the heaping helping of stupid mistakes I’ve made, I’ve also managed to squeeze in a lot of positive things too. My confidence as both a performer and a person is finally growing in the healthy way it’s supposed to. Mommy and Daddy never told me I was good, but audiences always have.

I guess I’m finally starting to believe it, at least a little. I’m not cocky or arrogant, but it does feel good when people come up after a show and tell me they enjoyed it. I know all kinds of comedians who don’t know how to deal with that, and I admit I used to feel very awkward in that situation for a long time myself. Now, I really enjoy it. It makes my day.

I’m also noticing all kinds of women around me lately. I’ve always been streaky in that department, either hot or cold. The tide flows in and out, and now it’s in. I’ve been having all kinds of women I’m interested in either contact me or I’m running into them in droves. I sure wish I knew how to control it, but for whatever reason it’s been raining hot women.
One I absolutely adore is Kristi McHugh. She’s a comic from Iowa living in L.A. and is chasing the big dream. We worked together in Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago and she blew me away with her sharp funny wit. It doesn’t hurt that she’s supermodel hot, either.

Kristi called me today and said she’s doing a set in front of Tim Allen and his manager Rick Messina next week at the Laugh Factory in L.A. Yay, Kristi! I know she’ll nail that and I’ve always predicted big things for her. She was with me back stage when I taped my Craig Ferguson appearance, and I knew then she’d take it a lot farther than I ever would.

She has ‘it’, and I’m thrilled she’s getting her shot. She called out of the blue and asked if I’d help go over her audition set. Of course I will. Maybe she’ll let me be her new pool boy, or designated limo waxer. Maybe she’ll put me in charge of keeping her tofu chilled.

I think she’s a cross between a young Mary Tyler Moore and Sandra Bullock. Not in her looks, she’s blonde. I’m talking about in her attitude. She’s got the independent woman in the big city thing that Mary Tyler Moore had in her sitcom, and also the infamous big star quality of ‘guys want to do her, women want to BE her’. I think she’s going to hit it BIG.

Good for her. I had the same feeling about Frank Caliendo, and he ended up hitting it as big as anyone in recent memory. Good for him too. I can’t do one impression and I’m not a gorgeous blonde with a razor sharp wit. All I can do is plod along with whatever I have.

Maybe it’s not in the cards for me to be a big star, and that’s ok. There are a lot of nasty facets to that whole thing too, and I know it’s not all chocolate cake and limo rides. I have to believe Elvis and Michael Jackson had a lot more painful memories than positive ones, at least after the major fame set in. It seems to get so huge it consumes any one person.

My ego needs are a lot lower than that. I don’t need to be constantly stalked by a lurking  band of carnivorous paparazzi hoping to catch me picking my nose so they can snap off a whole roll of film of it and sell it to the National Enquirer. Some crave all that attention.

I want to DO something in life. I want to help others and do good and be kind to people who can’t pay me back. I want to experience whatever high spiritual level there is to find on a superficial planet filled with psychotic idiots and greedy soulless robots. Can I do it?

That’s the plan. It’s always been the plan, even when I was starting out back in the early days in Milwaukee. I always wanted to be a big deal there, only because it was my home town. Who doesn’t want to be a big deal in their home town? I never got it, and after a lot of years of trying I just gave up and moved on. Now, I‘m reconnecting in a positive way.

I feel good things about to happen in the next few months, and I’ll enjoy every second of every minute of all of it. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and I’m finally in a position to really start enjoying myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and am ready to reclaim my Milwaukee roots by being a part of my team of friends like Sky and Drew and Wade and all the rest. I learned a lot of lessons along the way, and I’m ready to rock.