Posts Tagged ‘Toastmasters’

The Queen Of Connections

March 8, 2014

Friday March 7th, 2014 – Libertyville, IL

It’s amazing how connections work. Sometimes people come into our lives from the strangest of places, and end up staying a lot longer than expected. One of the reasons I have loved teaching my comedy classes so much is that it has attracted a steady stream of quality people into my life.

The number of people that I have kept in contact with after having them as students is well into the hundreds, and I value and cherish every last one of them. I don’t always see all of them all of the time, but there are always enough of them coming in and out of my life to keep me occupied.

I’ve been teaching since 1994, and if I had to single out one group that stands out from them all it’s a class I taught last summer at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. It was a class filled with ‘corporate types’, and they were a Toastmasters group from Lake County, IL. They were friendly enough people at the time, but I had no idea what an impact we would have on each other’s lives.

David Stuart is the owner of Improv Playhouse, and I approached him about teaching classes at his facility because I lived in the area and there was no standup comedy around anywhere since a Zanies location in Vernon Hills, IL had closed. He agreed, and we ended up doing a few classes.

Zanies is the big name in standup in the Chicago area, and I have been teaching there for years. No offense to David, but his facility is not that nor does he claim it to be. He specializes in acting and improv training, and he’s very good at it. My class was just an added bonus to his repertoire.

We’d held a few class sessions, but nothing earth shattering quite honestly. They were just kind of ok, but nothing special. When he told me a group of Toastmasters wanted to take the class as a group I didn’t have any idea what to expect. It was the summer, and any income was appreciated.

Little did I know that we would touch each other’s lives so deeply, and they ended up without a doubt THE best class I ever taught. Period. What made them so great was that they came from an entirely different place than most students that take the class. They were already friends because of their Toastmasters connection, and they were already used to speaking in front of an audience.

They asked me to help them punch up their speeches, and I told them I would do that but I also would not sugarcoat anything. They thought they wanted that, but when I started bringing heat it ended up scaring them. I worked those people harder than I’ve worked anyone, but I knew it was exactly what they needed. It was funny to hear them whine and moan, but they did what I said.

As the class went on, I ended up giving them several more sessions than they ended up paying for. It was my call, and I don’t regret it for a second. They were eager to learn, and I got a chance to practice teaching with people who were hungry and wanted to improve themselves. What else did I have going on in the summer? El-zilcho. The extra sessions we had were very productive.

Finally it came time for their ‘graduation’ show, and they packed the joint at Improv Playhouse for what turned out to be a purely magical evening. They all went up and lit it up in front of their friends, family and fellow Toastmasters, and it was an absolute blast for everyone. I felt like their mother hen, and couldn’t have been prouder of all of them. THAT is why I’ve taught for so long.

The leader of that Toastmasters group was Eric Feinendegen, and now Eric and I have teamed up and are working on corporate speaking angles. He’s helping me with my monthly newsletter, and I’ve been helping him with some speeches he’s been doing. He wants to set up bookings for both of us, and is very familiar with the corporate world. We’re helping each other and it’s a fit.

Another member of that class is Jean MacDonald. Jean prides herself on being one of the most connected people anywhere, and she should. She is up there with anyone I’ve ever seen at being on top of the contact game, and that’s exactly what success in any field is about. She excels at it.

Jean calls herself ‘The Queen of Connections’ and I don’t doubt her for one second. She knows EVERYBODY in Chicago – at least everybody that’s important. She makes it her business to be in contact with anyone that’s doing anything, and her days are spent nurturing her vast network.

Eric and I met up with her a few weeks ago, and she was full of ideas that were very helpful to both of us. She told us to start networking and come up with a newsletter, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. She talked about ‘warm calls’ to lead to business rather than cold calling, and talked about how to get into a field and own it. She also talked about getting multiple bookings at once.

She totally knows her stuff, and I shut my mouth and listened as she spewed nothing but useful information. Then to my surprise, she went on about how much the class meant to her and how it changed her life. I was very flattered to hear that, and I could tell she was sincere. She said it was a highlight of her life to perform at the graduation show, and she’ll always remember the feeling.

Again, that’s exactly what I’m shooting for and I couldn’t be happier to hear she had fun. That whole class was special, and the effort they all put in was remarkable. They got a lot out of it for sure, but they put a lot into it too. From my perspective, it made being their teacher well worth it.

Jean sent me an email and asked to do a follow up coffee meeting at my convenience to check on how progress has been going. Today was the day I could do it, and even though I don’t drink coffee we met up at a place in Libertyville to compare notes. When I got there she was meeting with her web person, and before I sat down three different people walked over and said hello.

I’m telling you, I’ve never seen anyone network like Jean does. It was a treat to watch, and we finally got time to talk. Jean’s passion for what she’s doing just shines, and I could feel it as she explained what she’s looking to do, and how I can be a part of it. She wants to help me connect with corporate sources to both speak and teach speakers, and she wants me to help her as well.

She’s been getting some bookings lately, and wants to polish up her speech and add humor to it. Well, if there’s one thing I can help people with it’s that. Eric and I have been working at that exact same thing, and it’s working tremendously well. There’s no reason I can’t help Jean also.

She also went on to say how this is the hot season for business whereas summer is ice cold for the comedy world. She scolded me – deservedly – about being stuck in ‘comedy mode’. I’m in a new arena now and new rules are in place. I heard all she said, and I’m on board. She’s a winner. I never would have imagined that little class last summer could lead to this, but it has and we’re all better for it. Jean’s website is http://www.networkconnectsucceed.com I think the title says it all.

Jean MacDonald is a speaker, author and trainer. She knows EVERYBODY!

Jean MacDonald is a speaker, author and successful sales trainer. And she knows absolutely EVERYBODY!

Eric Feinendegen and Jean are in Toastmasters, and they took a comedy class I taught at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL last summer.

Eric Feinendegen and Jean are in Toastmasters, and they took a comedy class I taught at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL last summer.

David Stuart owns Improv Playhouse, and it's a wonderful place to learn acting, improv or standup comedy. Tell him I sent you! www.improvplayhouse.com.

David Stuart owns Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. It’s a terrific place to learn improv, acting or standup comedy. Tell him I sent you! http://www.improvplayhouse.com.

Advertisements

Lost In Cyberspace

February 18, 2014

Sunday February 16th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Isn’t technology miraculous? It can be. But not today. I am just about ready to take a Louisville Slugger to my laptop, but what would that prove? I’d have a big mess to clean up, and I’d still be a foaming at the mouth maniac like I am now. I am beyond frustrated, and I’m ready to explode.

I have never claimed to be a computer geek. Oh, I’m a geek – but not in that way. Well, I guess I would be considered more of a geek/nerd hybrid. Would that be a ‘neek’, or a ‘gerd’? Whatever the case, I’m on the wrong end of geekdom. I get all the mockery without the techno superiority.

What set me so far off today was a document I was working on for my friend Eric Feinendegen who asked nicely if I wouldn’t mind looking over the script of a Toastmasters speech he is trying to get ready for a contest. It never bothers me to do that, and in fact I actually enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity to exercise creative muscles, and also help a friend. I’m flattered that he even asked.

I made some time to go over the speech, and added my input as I had any. It’s smart for anyone to have ‘fresh eyes’ look over any creative project, and I’m not unfamiliar with the process. I like punching up scripts, and I know there are people in Hollywood that get paid big cabbage to do it.

I’ve never been able to find the in on that gravy train, but I know I could pull it off if I ever get the chance. I just like doing it, but I think I have a flair for it as well. I spent about two full hours on Eric’s speech, and I thought I had some solid additions. I worked really hard and give my all.

But when I tried to save the document, it just disappeared. Poof. GONE. I don’t know how that happened, but it absolutely did. I don’t deny for a second I’m a textbook techno idiot, but I think I know how to save a document at this point. “Do you want to save the changes to…” Uh, YES!

It’s not that difficult – or at least it usually isn’t – but for whatever reason today it just vanished into thin air. First I was puzzled. Then I was livid. Then I graduated to something of a hybrid mix of bananas and berserk. Then it became rage. Then fury. I called Eric, and he tried to get it fixed.

It was to his benefit to help me find it, as the notes were for his project as per his request. I was happy to do it for him, and all I wanted was to let him look at what I had spent so much energy to complete. It would be impossible to duplicate it exactly, and panic set in as I knew I’d been had.

I tried every trick I could think of to find the document, and Eric tried to talk me through all of the ones he knew but that made it worse. Talking to someone over the phone without being there just makes it more insanely frustrating. I have ZERO patience for things like that, and I was raw.

I knew I’d have to do it all over again, and I resigned myself to the fact. I tried my best to get it as close to before, but I knew it wasn’t. Then I tried to save it again, and AGAIN it vanished into thin air. Now I was ready to hunt down Bill Gates personally but what could I do? It was too late.

I sucked it up and did it again yet a THIRD time, but this time I copied and pasted it to a blank document on my computer and of course it worked fine. What was the trouble? I haven’t a clue, but it made me blow a gasket. It’s over now, and I hope Eric wins his contest. I need a sedative.

My friend Eric Feinendegen asked me to look over his speech for a Toastmasters contest.

My friend Eric Feinendegen asked me to look over his speech for a Toastmasters contest he is entering.

I lost the document I worked on for two hours, and it sent me into a rage.

I lost the document I worked on for two hours, and it sent me into a rage.

You've got mail!

You’ve got mail!

A Day Well Spent

June 20, 2013

Wednesday June 19th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Libertyville, IL

   The emotional roller coaster ride continues. It was mostly a series of tremendous ups today, but there was one down. I guess without the downs the ups are meaningless, so for today I’ll attempt to keep my focus on those. There were several, and it was a day that will have a lasting impact.

   I drove up to Milwaukee for a series of errands this morning. With gas prices sky high, one has to clump errands together these days. I hadn’t seen my cousin Wendy in a while, so I asked if she wanted to have breakfast. Her daughter Katie is the working partner of Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert who was severely injured by a wrong way drunk driver in a car accident in October.

   Wendy reported that Josh is not only up and walking, but he’s back to work. That’s miraculous news, and anyone who saw him being rolled into Shank Hall in a wheel chair would agree. I will never forget the emotional vibe that engulfed the room when he arrived that night. It was electric.

    I was delighted to hear the super news about Officer Albert, but then she followed that up with a horrible story about how the 8 year old daughter of her other daughter has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. That really bothered me, and still does. Life can be so ugly, and I fail to see why.

   Why doesn’t Charles Manson have a brain tumor? That waste of sperm chugs on into old age a stalwart picture of health, but a beautiful little 8 year old girl has a brain tumor. Who is in charge of handing life’s fates out, and where is the complaint department? It all seems SO uncalled for.

   After breakfast I attended a book signing by my long time friend Tyrone Pierre Dumas. Tyrone is in the generation of Milwaukee comedians ahead of me, but we’ve been friends going on thirty years now. He goes back to my earliest days, and has always been a supporter of everything I do.

   He wrote a book titled “Food is my Orgasm”, and today was his big day. Tyrone has also been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and has had some other health issues. His book was written with the premise that some people like food more than sex – or at least would have to think about it.

   James Gregory in Atlanta joked about that same thing when we hung out a few months ago. He said if forced to choose between the best sex of his life or a great meal he’d have to really think it over. Tyrone has been working on this book for years, and he put out a press release to invite me so I had to show up. Even with gas prices soaring, the price of friendship was worth every cent.

   At the end of it all, nobody will remember how much my gas cost today. Seeing Tyrone’s face light up with recognition when I walked in the book store immediately told me I had made a wise investment. He was telling everyone that I had driven up from Chicago, and they all appeared to be impressed that someone would come all that way just to attend a book signing in Milwaukee.

   I would have driven up from Miami to see him have his day. Writing a book or doing anything else creative is never an easy task, and I for one can relate to the process. I bought a book at full price, and was happy to do so to support the effort. There was nothing but positive energy in the room, and that’s what life is supposed to be about in my opinion. I was happy to see his success.

   Tyrone stopped doing comedy years ago, but he’s still a dented can like most of us are. He saw the hard road comedy is, and chose instead to be a husband, father, community activist and make his contribution that way. He’s a top shelf human being, and I’m proud to call Tyrone my friend.

   Tonight was also a big night at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL where a comedy class I’ve been teaching had their graduation show. Those are always fun, but tonight was extra special. Of all the classes I’ve ever taught, I’d have to say this was the one that worked the absolute hardest.

   They were a group of Toastmasters, and unlike most of my classes they had previously known each other before signing up. Most of the other classes are random groups comprised of a totally unfiltered mix of anyone and everyone from anywhere and everywhere. This was a different mix.

   These people wanted to learn to add humor to their speeches, and quite honestly I was a bit of a skeptic when I’d heard about them. Improv Playhouse attracts a different clientele than Zanies in Chicago, and it’s far enough away where they don’t compete. It’s not far from home, so I do it.

   We’ve had a few classes to this point, but honestly nothing special. It’s been a tough sell to get full classes, but standup comedy isn’t their focus like a Zanies or any other comedy club. They’re an improv theatre, and standup is a side bar. That’s fine, and if we can fill a class up I’ll show up.

   This was a totally different scenario. They came to Improv Playhouse specifically requesting a class custom made just for them. I’ve had a couple of requests like that over the years, but these guys came to learn. They were from a corporate background as a whole, so I aimed my lessons at that angle. It was a challenge for me to customize my lesson plan, but I always enjoy challenges.

   The leader of the group is a guy named Eric Feinendegen. He’s in the financial business, and is an award winning speaker in the Toastmasters world. He told me at the beginning of class that he wanted me to “whip the group into shape”, so I tried to oblige. If someone tells me they want the truth, I’ve always been one to give it to them. Come to think of it, I give it when they don’t ask.

   It was funny to me to hear these people grumble and groan throughout the run of the class. I’ve never thought of myself as a taskmaster, but they seemed to view me as a cross between Captain Bly and some ruthless Third World dictator. All I was doing was stressing comedy fundamentals, and not backing down. The process is NOT easy, and I assured them I understood their feelings.

   And I totally do. Nothing about standup comedy is easy, even though the best ones can make it look that way. Looking effortless requires PLENTY of effort, and this class got to see how much that was. It was a lot more than they thought, but to their credit they kept showing up each week.

   They had a splendid work ethic, and even though they moaned and groaned they were a willing bunch and trusted my input – for the most part. Some of them fought it at times, but I never mind that at all. I am there to make suggestions, but in the end it’s the student who gets the final word.

   Tonight was their reward for all their hard work and putting up with what they perceived to be my constant and relentless harassment, and they all came through with flying colors. I love to see these nights happen, and I’ve seen it too many times to count. I never get sick of it though, and it was just as much fun for me to watch them go up and kill it as it was for them. They all nailed it!

   The biggest compliment of all came from Eric when he made it a point to come up afterward to tell me I changed his life. He said taking my class opened his eyes to a whole new world, and it’s comments like that that make me keep teaching all these years. What a flattering thing to hear on many levels, and I was truly humbled by it. This was a fantastic night for the class and a big day for Tyrone Pierre Dumas, but I still can’t help thinking about an 8 year old’s delicate situation.

Turning Some Pages

June 19, 2013

Monday June 17th, 2013 – Wheeling, IL

   As REO Speedwagon so eloquently sang, “So if you’re tired of the same old story – turn some pages.” That’s exactly what I’m going to do, as in roll with the changes. I am by far not the only one in that position, and people everywhere are having to reinvent themselves on a daily basis.

   My friends Bill Gorgo and Joe Nuccio are at a crossroads in their lives too, and today we had a three way powwow to see how we can help each other. We all think we can, but there has to be a solid plan in place. That’s never been one of my strong points, so I went in with a humble spirit.

   Bill and I have taught a series of comedy classes together for several years at various locations. We have a well formed synergy, and he’s not only a very accomplished and funny comedian – he has been an actual high school teacher for decades at several Catholic high schools in Chicago.

   He decided to opt for a retirement, and wants to focus more on comedy as both a performer and a teacher. We mesh well both on stage and in class, and have the option of giving a client a class, seminar, show or any combination thereof. We both have holes in our calendars, so today was an excellent opportunity to start exploring options. There are many, but will take work to go after.

   That’s where our mutual friend Joe comes in. He just ended a job as a computer programmer at a place he worked for years, and is also on the hunt for new opportunities. Joe is a former student of both Bill’s and mine and is also a professional musician. He is extremely organized, and that’s exactly what Bill and I both need. He brings things to the table we don’t have, plus we like him.

   Joe comes from both a corporate and entertainment background, and is a valuable consultant in what Bill and I would like to do. We met at Joe’s house and spent several hours talking back and forth about what could and couldn’t or should and shouldn’t be done. It was long, but productive.

   One thing we agreed on was that Bill and I need to come up with a book of our lessons on how to write and perform comedy. We’ve both got a ton of experience, and have strong opinions on a variety of subjects pertaining to the craft of comedy. We’ve both written some articles and came up with some worksheets, but we don’t have a well defined product. Joe told us that right away.

   Even though we’ve got vast experience in what we’re doing, now we’ve got to market that to a whole new customer base. This isn’t for comedy club audiences, but a business crowd. We are at the beginning of a huge task, but a necessary one if we’re going to survive in the business jungle.

   After our all day marathon meeting, I drove to Vernon Hills, IL where I oversaw a group of my current students who are going up for a graduation show on Wednesday. They’re a Toastmasters group, and mostly made up of professional types. They’re very nice people, but standup comedy is just not something they’re used to and they’re finding it difficult to put their routines together.

   It’s an especially challenging position as a teacher and mentor, because I know I’m not making their lives difficult on purpose even though they look at me as a vicious taskmaster. They want to improve, and I respect that. I’m only telling them what they need to hear in order to move ahead.

   Still, they’re all really nice people, and I see how badly they want to improve. I can really help people like this – and there have to be a LOT more of them who have money to hire a coach than the upstart punk in comedy clubs that I was. There’s a lot more upside here than comedy clubs.

A Prices Crisis

May 11, 2013

Wednesday May 8th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   Boy, am I embarrassed. I’m teaching a Wednesday night comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL, and my students are telling me I’m not getting paid enough. I know they mean it in a complimentary way, but it’s still embarrassing to know someone thinks I deserve more pay.

   This current class is a Toastmasters group, and they approached Improv Playhouse about doing a private class just for them so they could improve their speeches. They don’t necessarily want to become comedians, but they do want to punch up their speeches with humor. They’ve been a fun group, and it’s been a challenge for me to come up with lessons each week that meet their needs.

   I’m trying to learn and grow along with them, but after class tonight a couple of students asked if I did corporate training and how much I charged. I’ve done some corporate training in the past, and it’s always gone very well. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been me that has set the prices as a rule.

   One time I was asked to speak for a friend of mine who worked as a realtor. His father was the owner of the company and wanted someone to speak at a luncheon about “hanging in there when times get tough”. I do know about that. My friend recommended me and then asked for my price.

   I had no idea what to ask, so I asked how big the attending group would be. It was about 300 as I recall, so I asked for $500 for a 45 minute presentation. That’s more than the going rate of what most road dog comics get for a one nighter, and I thought I was asking a fair price for the event.

   As it turns out, it was a red flag to my friend’s father because it was WAY below what anyone else with credibility was charging and it made me look like a used car with flood or hail damage. I ended up getting the gig, and it went very well. I was able to pull off exactly what they wanted.

   Therein lies my problem. I know I know what I’m doing. It’s taken decades of hard work to get the knowledge I have, and I can present it effectively because I’ve done it time and time again to diverse audiences. What I don’t know is how to sell myself at the right price. I don’t want it to be too high and scare people off, but I also don’t want it to be too low to make me look amateurish.

   I really need to solve this problem, or I’ll never get myself to that ‘next level’ everyone dreams of. There’s a psychology of pricing, and people that are willing to pay top dollar assume they are getting the best product available when that’s not always necessarily true. It boils down to sales.

   There is absolutely nobody on this entire planet who can teach standup comedy techniques and procedures better than me, and I’m not bragging when I say that. Nobody has put in the time and paid their dues like me, and I’d be able to hang with anybody when it comes to “talking shop”.

   I know it in my heart, but getting someone else to pay for that knowledge is a different story. It doesn’t always go hand in hand, and I’m going to have to either learn to get paid what I’m worth or spend the rest of my life being looked at as having a glorified lemonade stand for a business.

   It stung that my students brought it up that I was underselling myself, but they were right and it needs to get fixed. Doing the class with them is fun, but it’s not going to get me out of my money hole so basically it’s not making the best use of my time. Fun is fun, but there are bills to be paid. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be paying them with ease AND having fun doing it. I have the fun part down, but the money is a different story. I need to step it up soon or I’ll be out of business.

I Need A Secretary

April 12, 2013

Wednesday April 10th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL/Rosemont, IL

   My packed tight schedule got packed tighter, but there’s no use complaining. I am going to put all I have into what I’m doing and that’s all I can do. I’ll either get it done or wear out trying. It’s all stuff I totally enjoy, so if my heart does happen to pop like a pimple at least I’ll have had fun.

   Today I started teaching another comedy class at Improv Playhouse in Libertyville, IL. I enjoy teaching there, but it’s not a place that attracts hardcore comedy students. That’s fine, but it’s not the same preparation to teach. Most of the people who take classes there are doing it as a hobby.

   This particular class is a Toastmasters group looking to get some tips on how to make speeches funnier. They’re very nice people and open to learning, so I’ll give them the tips they want and a lot more. I can use these sessions to practice and improve my teaching skills with new exercises.

   It’s all about constant improvement, and I’m definitely doing that onstage and off of late. I can feel myself getting markedly better, and that’s how it should be. It’s not common for someone to stay hungry this late in the game, but that’s exactly how I feel. I want to always keep evolving.

   After class, I headed over to Rosemont, IL to headline Zanies Comedy Club there. I picked up a three night run there that fits perfectly with my Saturday commitment in Milwaukee. Schedules happened to fall into place for both Zanies and me this week, and it’s a perfect fit for each of us.

   Things have really been falling into place lately, and I’m afraid to ask why. It doesn’t work like that often – at least from my experience. I seem to be in a deep groove of late, and I can’t say I’m upset about it. I need to savor this feeling for when the tide turns back, and it will. It always does.

   I just feel like I’m finally swimming with the current in life rather than fighting upstream to get anywhere. It’s a whole different feeling to be going with the flow than against it. I’ve found what I love to do, and I’m not only doing it for a living I’m enjoying the process. That’s a dream gig.

   It’s taking a lot of energy to make it all happen, but that’s ok too. It takes even more to work at something I can’t stand. Most of the world is trapped doing some dead end boring job that wasn’t in their dreams when they still had enough energy left over to dream at all. I’m actually living all mine, and it feels great. Even a bad day doing what I’m doing is better than being a rich zombie.

   The key is to keep showing up every day and do the very best I can. I’ve got so much going on at any one time, it’s inevitable something will fall through the cracks and it does regularly. I wish it didn’t, but it absolutely does. Despite that I’ve managed to get a lot done in the recent past, and I’m not about to give that up any time soon. These are my prime years to do whatever I will do.

   I really had fun at class tonight, and I will come up with lessons designed for their needs. It’s a challenge to find where their wheel house as a group is, but I’ll give it my best shot. I also had an excellent time on stage at Zanies. I’ve been working on Milwaukee stuff of late and haven’t been putting effort into my regular standup, so that will be the focus in Rosemont. Life is a workshop.

  Unfortunately, for as much fun as I’m having there’s the pile of unfinished business that always goes with it. Emails and phone messages are backed up, as well as laundry and other chores like car maintenance, taxes and everything else that everyone else has to do. I’ll have to attack that at some point, but then it takes time away from what I love to do. A sexy secretary would be great.  

Changing Roles

December 21, 2012

Tuesday December 18th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

   I’m fascinated at how strikingly roles can change with the contacts we make in life. Everybody has people coming in and out of their lives constantly, and the way they come in isn’t always the way they go out. Friends turn into lovers or enemies, and vice versa. And there are no guarantees of how long anyone will stay around. The only thing we can ever count on is constant change.

As the year winds down, I’ve been looking over the people I’ve been in regular contact with in 2012 and it’s significantly different than those I was in regular contact with in 2011. Sure, some of the names are the same but many of the main players have moved on. It’s like a sports team.

I had health struggles with my type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2011, and Jerry Agar and his family were absolutely wonderful in their generosity by allowing me to heal up at their house for several weeks. They couldn’t have been nicer, and it came at a time when I really needed it. I’m grateful.

Then, out of nowhere Jerry got a radio job in Toronto and pretty soon he and his family moved there and we barely speak. There was no falling out, but life just has a way of moving on when it needs to. Jerry has his life and I have mine, and now they happen to be in two different countries.

That doesn’t mean we won’t cross paths again. We’ve been friends since the ‘80s, and we have always drifted in and out of each other’s existence depending on our current location. Right now, it’s not convenient to hang out often. Next year? Who knows? Neither of us has ever been stable.

One friend who has been stable is Dave Hendrickson. I’ve known Dave since my first comedy show in Milwaukee at Sardino’s on Farwell in November of 1983. Dave came into my life in the role of comedy peer, and then exited when I moved out of Milwaukee to begin my road years.

Then we reconnected several years ago, but our roles have changed significantly. I have grown by leaps and bounds as a comedian, and am no longer the aspiring novice when we first met. I’m now the wily veteran I always dreamed of being – even though it came with an enormous price.

Dave pursued a business of doing patent drawings, and has done that for decades. He’s moved on from doing standup comedy, but he still performs frequently with anything from Toastmasters to storytelling and is one of the most creative people I know. I always enjoy working with him.

We’re both left handed, so maybe that’s why we get along so well. He’s also very spiritual and has been a regular part of The Mothership Connection radio show in 2012.

His role has grown to become a large part of the show on air and off, and it’s working splendidly. His title is “The Two Bit Guru”, and his website is www.twobitguru.com. It’s very well done and full of solid content.

Dave’s website person Nate is going to be working on a site for the radio show and also taking over my personal site which needs a major update. I drove to Milwaukee for lunch with Dave to get things in motion, and we got a lot done. We talked about how long we’ve known each other, and how much we have evolved in almost thirty years. The Daves and Jerrys of life make it fun.