Posts Tagged ‘Tonight Show’

A Wasted Weekend

May 18, 2013

Friday May 17th, 2013 – Sparta, WI/Fox Lake, IL

   Here we go again. Three hideous words I’ve never wanted any part of have showed up to party with me this weekend – ‘worst case scenario’. I’m all too familiar with them, and they’re like the weirdo group of relatives we all have that make us cringe every time they come over for a visit.

   In a nutshell, I cancelled two solid dates of work this weekend to instead work with my friends Bill Gorgo and Jim Wiggins in what was supposed to be a two night booking near Minneapolis. I adore both of those guys, and we were all looking forward to a stellar weekend onstage and off.

   As it happened, the booker of the shows we were allegedly scheduled for didn’t have any hotel rooms for us and was counting on us staying in some sort of one room frat shack or something. If there’s one thing comedians are used to, it’s being put up in a hotel. It may not be the Hilton and it usually isn’t, but we don’t as a rule have to bunk up like cowboys on the range. We get a room.

   One thing apparently led to another, and Jim ended up pulling the plug on the whole thing. I do see why he did it, but it also left a gaping hole in all of our schedules – mine not only for a week but for the month. I was counting on money this weekend, and now not only won’t I make a cent – it cost out of pocket to split gas with Bill. No gig means no chance to sell DVDs or CDs either.

   I’m not so much angry as frustrated and just plain tired of dealing with small time flea bookers where this is even an issue. The three of us combined probably have close to 100 years of service and to have this kind of stuff go on this late into the game is not right. It’s disrespectful to us all.

  That guy would have gotten three solid headliners – two with national TV credits. Jim has done two ‘Tonight Show’ spots and I’ve been on Craig Ferguson. Bill is a solid act, and can headline a club with the best of them. We only took the gig because we wanted to spend time with our good friend Jim who happens to be going through extremely painful chemotherapy for the third time.    

   This whole situation stinks, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. I could have blown up at the booker or even Jim, but what would that prove? I’ve tried that angle more than once, and it’s not the way to handle things. I found that out the hard way, and ended up badly burning bridges.  

   This is no time to be burning bridges with anyone. What it is is time to smarten up and improve my way of doing business. In retrospect, I had gigs booked for this weekend and when Jim asked if I was open I should have politely said no. I love him like few other comedian friends, but I am really in a pickle because of this. We could have come for a visit any one of too many off days.

   We did have some quality face time together as Jim bought us a delicious lunch at a local joint near his house in Sparta WI, but that was the most expensive free lunch I’ve had in years. We all lost out, and no matter how much fun we had hanging out the fact remains our wallets are empty.

   Part of the problem is we as comedians often get used to being treated like whipped puppies by bully club owners, and we choose to accept it rather than make waves and possibly lose work for any reason. Another part is we don’t enjoy the booking part of the business. We’re performers.

   Unfortunately, we’re going to have to change in a hurry or insanity like this will keep popping up out of the blue and making life very unpleasant. I love Bill and Jim, but from now on I’ll have to love them under more stable circumstances. I’m disappointed – and my creditors will be also.

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Event Planning

October 7, 2012

Friday October 5th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   The love is starting to pour in for the big benefit fundraiser show on October 17th at Shank Hall and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve tried to do benefits and fundraisers my whole life, and have usually lost my ass not to mention my dignity and self respect. It’s just plain hard to get anybody to come out for any reason these days, worthy cause or not. Still, I’m optimistic about this one.

This is the right cause at the right time, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. I put a ton of work into the C. Cardell Willis tribute show in April, and ended up losing money out of my pocket. Cardell was a great man and a kind soul, but for whatever reason the public wasn’t as touched by his contributions as I was. I put my heart and soul into that event, and it was just ok.

This event will be in the exact same venue roughly six months later but I already feel far more of a buzz about it just under two weeks out. Granted, it’s a completely different situation but I’ve never felt such a positive rumble beforehand for any kind of event I have ever been involved in.

Everything just seems to be falling into place. I’m very grateful for that, but I can’t say that I’m used to it. I’ve had to struggle so hard for so long to get any kind of attention about anything, but this is something all people I talk to just immediately plug into and support. I’m not complaining.

I’m not doing any of this for me. I’m doing it for Officer Albert of course, but mainly I said I’d do it because my cousin Wendy asked me to. I had originally approached her about trying to do a similar event for Officer Brian Murphy who was shot in the Sikh Temple shooting a while back.

I’d seen an article in the news about how he was recovering from multiple gunshot wounds and I wanted to show some support just from fellow human being to human being. I asked about how to set something like that up, and then this horrible accident happened with Officer Albert and an entirely different direction was taken. For whatever reason, it all fell together and is ready to go.

Does it mean I feel any less badly for Officer Murphy? Of course not. I’ve never even met him, nor have I met Officer Albert as of yet. My heart goes out to both of them, as well as everyone in a similar situation – police officer or not. This is about showing human kindness to those in pain.

I can’t help everyone, and unfortunately I can’t even help myself. My own life needs work on several levels, but whenever I think I have insurmountable problems I think of Officer Albert or Officer Murphy or some of our wounded military who are in their 20s with lost limbs and I feel like a whining pampered schmuck who needs to shut up and go help someone who can use it.

I’m really encouraged by how well everything is coming together. My friend Bill Mihalic sent Jay Leno’s secretary a request for a signed picture for the auction and it arrived today along with a Tonight Show t-shirt. Hopefully that will fetch a nice buck, and 100% of it will go to the cause. I’m also receiving a generous supply of comedy CDs and DVDs sent in from all over the country from my comedy friends who want to pitch in and help. I appreciate every last one of them and it makes me feel good to know not everyone in the world is heartless. I’m feeling good about this.

The Opinionator

January 23, 2010

Friday January 22nd, 2010 – Alsip, IL

Even though I usually have strong opinions on any given topic, I never think they mean anything in the grand scheme of life. I’ve met a lot of people who think their opinion is of the utmost importance, and that the world is waiting to hear what oozes from their yap.

Not me. I’m just one guy swimming upstream in life, trying to survive day to day. I like to speak my mind, but rarely do I nail the opinion of the masses. I’ve always felt like I am on the wrong planet, and the older I get the more I want to go back to where I came from.

I’ll get my chance soon enough, and until then I’ll play out my remaining days trying to do the best I can with the tools I’ve been given. Youth is fading quickly, and I’m learning how amazing it was now that it’s leaving. I’m taking on a whole new perspective in life.

That being said, people keep asking me what I think about the Tonight Show situation with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and what I feel about Brett Favre. Why anybody would care what I think about either of those things is beyond me, but lots of people keep asking so I’ll gladly throw in my two cents. I know it means less than nothing, but here it comes.

As far as the Tonight Show goes, I couldn’t care less. I don’t watch any of those shows, but I think there are too many of them. Johnny was great, but it was only him. Now it’s a watered down mish mash of mediocrity, with a shortage of quality guests and content for anyone with an age or IQ over 35. Kanye West’s latest CD has zero interest in my world.

What interests me even less is watching Letterman and Leno fire verbal rockets at each other about what’s going on. Who cares? Not me. They’ve got their millions and I’m still trying to stay booked every week. I’d gladly take a $30 million buyout to go away forever.

Conan never captured my attention, even though I’ve heard he’s a decent guy. He’s my age, so that kind of makes me want to see him do well. When they start calling him old, it means my time is coming to an end too. I’m sorry the guy got put in this situation though. From all I’ve seen he’s taking it well, and I have to believe he’ll land himself a new gig.

If he doesn’t, he’ll have some money to tide him over so he can make up his mind what he wants to do next. That’s a nice problem to have, one I don’t have right now. I’m in the exact opposite situation. I have to find a gig each week to pay my bills so I can survive.

As for Brett Favre, I think he’s the antichrist. His jersey number should be 666 and that legion of purple zombies who cheer for that insidious team got exactly what they deserve. He’s an insincere lout who thinks only of himself, and he’s brainwashed millions of apes into believing he’s a team player. I think he’s a scum bag pig and I hope he gets diarrhea.

All that said, what do Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Brett Favre and me have in common? Absolutely nothing. They’re all household names and multi millionaire celebrities, and I’m a middle aged goof who tells jokes and lives in a basement. They win.