Posts Tagged ‘Uranus’

Exploring Marketing Options

April 21, 2014

Saturday April 19th, 2014 – McHenry, IL/Volo, IL

Improving my marketing skills from the ground up is my mission not only this year but every other year that I am lucky enough to experience from here on out. It’s something all businesses need to succeed, but especially entertainers. We are our own product, and marketing is a must.

I have been lucky enough to have squeaked by for decades, mostly because I was in the correct place at an opportune time. I rode the wave of the comedy club boom of the 1980s, and was able to make enough to at least survive from late 1985 on. Some years were better than others, but my primary source of income other than a few scattered years doing radio has always been comedy.

That’s good and bad, but most people can’t see the bad. “You make your LIVING standing on a stage telling JOKES. How bad can life be?” Well, in a lot of ways that’s true. I always enjoyed the performing part of it, and I was never motivated by money. If I could squeak by, that was ok.

As it turns out, I could have more than squeaked by and it was my fault for not doing it. By all accounts, I should have had at least one recording a full ten years before I did. I actually thought about it, but nobody else I knew had one and I thought it may appear egotistical. What a dummy. Ego shmego. It would have been some financial security I could have used to further my career.

It probably would have been a cassette, but the form doesn’t matter. Maybe it would have been a vinyl record album. Or both. The point is, I would have been able to sell them every week and even at low numbers I could have hauled in a nice chunk of change over a ten year time window.

I was averaging at least 45 weeks of work then, and quite a few years I worked 50-52. It wasn’t always the best work in the best clubs, but say I could have averaged ten units a week sold over a ten year period. That’s 450-500 units per year at what likely would have been a $10 retail price.

On the conservative side, say that’s $45,000 over ten years minus say $2 per unit to make. That still leaves me $36,000 had I not touched any of that money – and knowing me I would not have. I’d have saved it for some kind of stunt nobody else would have done. It may have been a flop of epic stature, but that’s me as well. I’ve never been afraid to go all in. I have tasted defeat often.

What if I had spent that $36,000 on TV commercials somewhere or a full page ad in one of the trade papers? When was the last time you saw a comedian or performer of any kind spend money on self promotion? It just doesn’t happen – at least not without management or a recording deal.

There are obviously taxes in there too, and I realize that. I would report every last penny, as it’s just not worth trying to screw the government. I’d rather have a clear conscience and just pay my fair share. Whatever was left would have still been a nice bit of cash to use on some promo stunt.

I wasn’t forced to think that way then, as work was plentiful and nobody was selling anything other than their comedy act. We were ‘artistes’, and that’s great on paper but most of us are now certified vagrant caliber broke and wish we would have had our marketing chops on the way up.

Too late now, but it’s not too late to change. One thing I have that the newbies don’t is a whole lot of experience in front of audiences coast to coast, and a backlog of polished material that I am able to use whenever I need it. That’s part of what paying dues is about, and I’ve put in my time.

Now I’m looking to sell what I’ve been able to create, but in other ways than just saying it on a stage somewhere. What else can I do to get paid? I suppose I could write columns, and I’ve been doing that for the past few months in a publication called “Scene Magazine” in Fond du Lac, WI. My friend Silk Casper asked me to do it, and he’s been making sure I get a check every month.

It’s not huge, but it’s been steady and I guess I can say I’m a published author. I think. I’m not anywhere close to being a professional, but it’s a solid start and I am grateful for the opportunity. Branching out and creating a new stream of income for being funny comes in very handy now.

But I know there’s more – a LOT more. There’s both a flea market and an antique mall within an easy drive from where I live, and I took a lap in both today just to check out that scene. I have been going to thrift stores, flea markets and rummage sales for decades, but now I’m seeing them all with fresh eyes. I used to go there looking to score treasures. Now I’m looking to be a seller.

The marketing skills of the sellers at flea markets and antique malls are all over the place. Most are very poor from my experience, and have little to no people skills. Just a friendly hello when I walk past their display should be the bare minimum, but I’d guess maybe 10% or less will do it.

I went today just to observe, and I learned a lot. I went to the flea market first, and looked at all the displays to see which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t. Most of the stuff was thrown in an unorganized pile, and was difficult to look at. It took work to sort through all of the clutter to see if there was anything I’d want to buy. They made it hard for people to spend money. Not smart.

Even little things like business cards were missing. What if I was looking to sell something one of the dealers specialized in? Maybe I had a relative pass away that was a big collector, and I was looking for someone to help me appraise the collection. Whatever the case, 99% of these mutants didn’t even say hello and maybe strike up a conversation that could have led to a business deal.

One guy there had some old toys, and his display was a bit sloppy but still interesting. He had a pair of old Schlitz salt and pepper shakers that I bought for $10 and an old pair of Schlitz patches from the ‘60s or ‘70s that their drivers used to wear. I can use all of that for “Schlitz Happened!”

The antique mall was a little better, but not much. Most of the vendors that were there were not very talkative, and I found that appalling. They didn’t have to pester me like the stereotype of an old time used car salesman, but a friendly smile and a hello would have been nice. I didn’t get it.

I ended up buying a collection of 50 old ‘Fate’ magazines from the ‘50s through the ‘70s for $1 each, and that was a steal. They’re a great read, packed with tales of UFOs and the paranormal of all kinds. I’ll scour them for King of Uranus ideas, and keep exercising my marketing muscles to use in the future. I want to go out past Uranus, and find ways to make money when I’m sleeping.

I found some Schlitz salt and pepper shakers at a flea market today. I will use them for my one man show 'Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst" www.schlitzhappened.com.

I found some Schlitz salt and pepper shakers at a flea market today. I will use them for ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst.” http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

The same guy sold me two cloth patches Schlitz drivers used to wear in the '60s and '70s.

The same guy sold me two cloth patches Schlitz drivers used to wear in the ’60s.

I also found some old FATE magazines from the '50s through '70s. The cool cover art alone was worth the $1 each I paid for them all.

I also found some old FATE magazines from the ’50s through ’70s. The cover art alone was worth the $1 each I paid for them all.

My Legend Lives On

April 6, 2014

Saturday April 5th, 2014 – Chicago, IL

Three shows were scheduled at Zanies in Chicago tonight – at 7, 9 and 11:15pm. There aren’t many venues outside of Las Vegas that do that anymore, and I’m probably one of few remaining hardcore halfwits that still enjoys the challenge. If I’m going to work I want to sweat, and this is equivalent to a marathon. It takes a lot of skill to pull off three solid shows, and total focus too.

The 7pm show is traditionally far more reserved, as most people are just getting out and many have not eaten dinner yet. I have to hit them hard, and often wake them up. The 9pm show is the ‘money show’, and is almost always sold out. That’s the prime spot in the week, and it’s usually the easiest and most fun. If a performer can’t nail the middle show Saturday, something’s wrong.

Then there’s that last one. That can be the killer, as the audience tends to be tired, well fed and often imbibed. Trying to break through all that can be very difficult, not to mention having done two previous shows already and not being able to remember if something was already said – and when. Only someone that has been in that situation can relate to that feeling, and it’s an odd one.

Sometimes doing two shows in a night can be confusing, as it can all tend to run together after a while. I know I’ve accidentally done the same joke twice in the same show, and the audience’s silence is an immediate indicator. I can’t believe this hasn’t happened to every comedian at least a few times, and I even saw George Carlin do it one time. It takes total concentration to avoid it.

I have enough material now where I can do bits only once in a night like this and avoid having to make it a major issue. It’s not always like that, and on the way up the ladder one has a limited amount of material and it can be a nightmare. By the third show, it’s easy to become totally lost.

It can be maddening, but I also think it’s tremendous training for someone that is looking to be a professional comedian. Three show nights weed out the weaklings in a hurry, and it causes one to constantly be on one’s toes the entire evening. Three shows mean three different audiences of three different temperaments, and often they react differently to the very same jokes. It’s tricky.

Call me a kook – and I freely admit that I am – but this has always been intriguing to me. I love to get out there and experiment in front of three audiences in one night, especially knowing there are zero guarantees I’ll be able to figure them all out. Most times I’m able to do it, but sometimes I’ll still have a rough one and that’s true for everyone. Nobody ever figures out every audience.

Tonight circumstances went way past standup comedy and reached a point where I questioned my very existence. I thought I had seen it all, but whenever I think that is when I will experience something that surpasses my boundaries of imagination and makes me realize I’m not in control.

Somewhere, somehow, some force in the universe is operating at a level which I am able to neither comprehend nor identify. Something’s going on over all of our heads, and there’s nothing any of us can do but accept it. I feel both helpless and frustrated, and the more frustrated I get the more helpless feel. If I hadn’t seen tonight unfold with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Things started off on quite the positive as I left home extra early, gassed up my car and found a gas station that was a few cents a gallon cheaper than the rest. That put me in a jaunty mood as it usually does – even though I only saved under a buck at most. I don’t know why that feels like a victory to me, but it does. It’s my personal revenge against OPEC, even though we all still lose.

The weather was finally spring like, and I drove into Chicago with my windows down and my spirits up. There was a run of great tunes on the radio for some reason, and I was ready to attack the stage and deliver three rock solid shows at Zanies. I expected to enjoy my evening of work.

When I arrived, I was delighted to discover the coveted but rarely open royal rock star loading zone parking spot on Wells Street directly in front of the club was indeed unoccupied and at my service for the evening. It’s free for any Zanies employee, and everyone fights to snap it up first.

I assumed I would be in for a stellar evening of laid back fun, but that’s when the fun stopped. The early show was one of the oddest I’ve seen in a long time. There was a group of a dozen or so that sat right in front and wouldn’t stop talking the entire show. They weren’t heckling per se, just commenting on everything any of us said. I didn’t fight them, and it evolved into a Q and A.

I don’t ever remember having to babysit an audience like that for an entire show, but they were not about to be quiet and I played the hand I was dealt. I received a healthy burst of applause as I left the stage, and people lined up to get the ‘I (upside down heart) URANUS’ bookmarks I have been passing out of late. I tried to be as polite as possible, but their bizarre behavior baffled me.

As I was walking back to the green room to wait for the second show, the power went out and left the entire club in the dark. I have been working at Zanies in Chicago since the ‘80s, and have never seen that happen before. It sent the staff into a temporary panic trying to locate flashlights.

We all went outside to discover the entire block on Wells Street was dark, and there was a long line of people waiting outside the club to attend the sold out 9pm show. I laughed inside because I knew there would be no show, even though I don’t know why I knew it. This was a Mr. Lucky story, and about thirty seconds later one of the wait staff said the same thing. My legend lives on.

They offered all the people in line some free tickets to another show another night with another comedian, and they dispersed peacefully. I was disappointed because I wanted to at least have an opportunity to rock the sold out cherry show of the week – but that’s never what Mr. Lucky gets.

We sat in the dark inside the club waiting for the lights to come on, and about 90 minutes later they did – just in time to seat the infamous late show. Tonight’s crowd was the absolute dregs of society, and they were blasted before they sat down. There was a big birthday party for a woman turning 40, and she was obliterated beyond recognition. She and her party babbled incessantly.

The other acts did their best, but by the time I got on stage there was no hope. They were loud and rowdy and nobody cared that any show was going on. Eventually the whole party had to get forcibly removed, and I stood on stage alone wondering why I was ever born. I still don’t know.

'Mr. Lucky' can be a really fun character to play on stage - but it's SO not fun to live in real life.

‘Mr. Lucky’ can be a really fun character to play on stage – but it’s SO not fun to live in real life.

It's kind of a cross between Wile E. Coyote...

It’s kind of a cross between Wile E. Coyote…

...and Job from the Old Testament. It's a combination of pain and frustration that's hilarious - when it's someone ELSE.

…and Job from the Old Testament. It’s a combination of pain and frustration that’s hilarious – when it’s someone ELSE’S.

No Fooling

April 2, 2014

Tuesday April 1st, 2014 – Gurnee, IL

The first quarter of 2014 is now history, and I have no idea where it went. I put in a lot of work on a lot of things, and it went by a lot faster than I expected. It was productive, but I never think I do enough so there’s still some disappointment. I did pull off the benefit show for Sheri Johnson, so that was satisfying. I also reconnected with my siblings, and I’ve waited for that for decades.

Another positive was getting my monthly newsletter restarted. We’ve sent out three editions so far, and each one continues to improve. That’s a big deal, and I don’t intend to let up. I also had a varied array of fun shows, and that always makes me feel good. It’s been a positive three months. I haven’t slacked off, and every day I try to accomplish at least a little. Progress is being made.

Still, I’m nowhere near satisfied with any of it. Surviving is one thing, but I want to kick things into high gear and live life on all cylinders. I’ve had a few flashes, and it feels great. It’s time for me to get my payoff for all the years of struggle, and I need to buckle down and try even harder.

I am sold beyond sold on the Uranus concept, and that’s going to be my main point of focus for at least the next six months. I still have to survive like I always have, but I’m going to set aside a chunk of time each morning to work on all things Uranus. I’ve started and stopped and started all over, but that’s just not good enough. I’ve achieved a few results, but nowhere near what I want.

It’s now or never, and the clock is ticking for us all. My biggest regret in a lifetime packed full of them would be to go to my grave with this idea still in me. I realize it might well be a flaming failure, but that’s never been the issue. Not giving it my best effort would be the worst scenario.

I don’t care who thinks it’s a stupid idea. I like it, and that’s all that matters. I feel it in my soul, and I know exactly what I want to do with it. The King of Uranus is the ring master of a circus of talented people just like George Clinton is the ring master of Parliament/Funkadelic. He oversees everything, and decides what projects get done and who is involved. I will take on the same role.

I want to fan the flames of talent, and encourage people to stretch their boundaries to achieve a result they never thought they could. I’m a great mentor if nothing else, but I think I also have an eye and ear for knowing who can do what and matching them with people that complement them well. My role is that of maestro, and it’s a lot more than just being an idiot in a goofy costume.

That costume will eventually be a trademark, but for now I want to build the gimmick from the ground up, and get myself established with a chunk of the public. It will be a much bigger chunk than I’d ever be able to attain as plain old me, and if that’s what it takes I’ll play along with it.

I had lunch with comedian Dan Morris today, and he’s a very sharp cookie. He is a published author, and I asked him what I’d need to do to create a proposal like an author would. He said he would help me, but I have to get something on paper first. That’s my next order of business to do much sooner than later, and I’ll go from there. I had dinner with speaker Todd Hunt, and I could tell by his stare he isn’t on the same wavelength. That’s ok. I’ll focus for now on those that are.

The King of Uranus role is starting to take shape.

The King of Uranus role is starting to take shape.

Much like George Clinton in music, it will be the role of maestro. He oversees the mix of talented people. I want to do the same.

Much like George Clinton in music, it will be the role of maestro. He oversees the mix of talented people. I want to do the same.

Sun Ra was another 'calculated kook'. Despite his outlandish costume, there was a whole lot of smarts under that Jiffy Pop hat. He was also a master maestro.

Sun Ra was another master maestro. Despite his outlandish costume, there was a whole lot of smarts under that Jiffy Pop hat.

Defining Crazy

March 31, 2014

Sunday March 30th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL

With all the hands on experience I have had wading through depression funks over a lifetime, I can always count on one thing on the other end – an extreme burst of creativity. It’s a lot like the shot in the arm Popeye gets when he eats his spinach. I have the same experience, and it’s great.

Is this proof positive I am a bipolar wackadoo? Maybe and in fact more than probably, but I’ve never denied I have a delicate balance in my psyche. Some may call it being a total kook, but I’m a creative type and all creative types have that certain degree of crazy. It goes with the territory.

There are also many definitions of “crazy”. Sometimes that word is used to describe those that think unconventionally and try new ideas. Edison and Einstein had it used on them I’m sure, and if they’re the standards of what the word means – sign me up. Crazy isn’t always a bad thing.

Then there are the Hitlers and Saddam Husseins of the world. That’s the dark side of the word, along with the Jim Joneses, Jeffrey Dahmers and so many more that I don’t even want to glorify with a mention. I think crazy is nowhere near strong enough to describe these insidious beasts.

I think it’s a waste of time to attempt to diagnose the problem. The fact is it’s there and I have been dealing with it for a lot of years. Medication scares the hell out of me, and I’ve spoken with more than one doctor about it through the years. People were nuts long before medicine arrived.

The only practical solution I see is to just keep working through it. Diet and exercise are a part of the program, and I’m the first to admit I haven’t been keeping up with that like I know I need to. I’ve had all I can handle to keep my bills paid, and I put all my focus into my work as of late.

Maybe that’s part of the reason for my recent dip, or maybe it was the places I worked that had small crowds and poor circumstances. Whatever the reason or combo platter thereof, I was really low for a while there, and when I get like that nothing matters. I get lost in a vacuous black hole.

I feel like I’m unplugged from the universe, and on the outside looking in. What I need to keep in mind when it happens again – and I don’t doubt it will – is that there is a creative surge on the other side if I can only wait it out. I should know that by now, but this last time I simply forgot.

Admittedly it had been a while since I slid through this nasty mud, but I’ve been there enough to have an idea of what to expect before, during and after. How shortsighted of me to forget the best part, but that’s how deep the darkness can feel sometimes. I’m feeling much better now, and all that really interests me is Uranus. I know in my deepest heart that’s the direction I need to go.

I don’t know how I know that, but I totally do and I’m going to follow my gut no matter what happens. I had dinner with my pit crew Eric Feinendegen tonight to talk about getting corporate type bookings, and even he’s on board. It’s the right time and the right place, and I feel it in my bones like nothing I have ever felt before. I may have to do some other things to survive while we get things going, but I’ve been doing that all along. This IS crazy – but in the positive way.

Was Einstein crazy? I'm sure he was called that. If that's the definition, sign me up.

Was Einstein crazy? I’m sure he was called that often and by many. If that’s the definition, sign me up.

Call me crazy, but I'm risking my entire future on Uranus.

Call me crazy, but I’m risking my entire future on Uranus.

Marketing In Motion

March 16, 2014

Saturday March 15th, 2014 – Springfield, IL

Our worst fears came true this weekend, and the turnout has been small at Donnie B’s Comedy Club in Springfield, IL. There’s not a whole lot anyone can do, as Donnie was out there hitting it hard like he usually does. He’s always got a load of posters in his car, and we made the rounds at the local radio stations as is customary when I’m here. For whatever reason, it was a slow week.

It upsets me when promoters lose money, but especially Donnie B. There just aren’t that many club owners that hustle as hard he does to fill his club, but this just isn’t a ripe market. If he had a club in a big city – and I wish he did – I’d be sitting pretty. Still, I enjoy working for him here.

One thing I especially like is that he has his headliners do an hour rather than the customary 45 minutes. It’s a great workout for me, and I enjoy the challenge. He hosts the shows and promotes what he needs to, and then brings up an opener that does maybe twelve minutes tops. I love that.

It’s great practice for me, and the audiences are usually very friendly and receptive here for the most part. Even this weekend when the numbers weren’t big, each one of the four audiences was really into the show and I had a blast. I made up my mind to give them my very best – and I did.

One thing I need to work on is my sales pitch for merchandise. That’s a tricky procedure, but it needs to be done. It can’t be too long and ‘salesy’, but it needs to get the point across that I’ll be available after the show to meet and greet if they want to say hello. I consciously worked on my presentation all four shows, and it worked splendidly. I ended up selling something every show.

I have to credit my friend James Gregory for planting this seed, and he did it years ago. I have been dabbling in it, but I need to jump in with both feet and DO it. There’s a lot that goes into an effective sales campaign, and it all starts with the pitch from the stage. That’s what I worked on.

I also worked on including all things Uranus. I have some funny prototype t-shirts, and there is no reason I shouldn’t start selling them. I’ve had them for a while, but I never tried to push them from the stage. What a yutz I was, as they’re very well made and really funny. This week I threw them out there, and they were a big hit! It made me very excited when I saw them draw interest.

I know this gimmick is a winner. I can feel it. I sold the point that Uranus was discovered this week in 1781, and that I was starting a club called ‘The Uranus Movement’ for Earth inhabitants that were sick of the insanity here and wanted to escape. I didn’t sell the king just yet, but I will.

I have a book mark that says ‘I (heart) URANUS’, with the heart flipped upside down to look like a butt. Those went over like gangbusters, and I gave away a ton. It has my Twitter account listed which is @UranusTweets. Now that I’m giving these out I need to tweet something daily.

This is all part of the marketing game, and I’m making tremendous strides because I’m making it my focus. My shows are already rock solid, and they were again this weekend. I knocked it out of the park, and that’s not bragging. I know what I’m doing on stage. Offstage is the challenge.

That will come in time too, and it will be sooner than later. I will eventually discover where the exact right place in the show is to include my pitch, and it will be seamless. I’ll learn what to say, and when and how to say it to bring in the most sales. I’m already up there, why not sell product?

There’s no crime if someone doesn’t want to buy anything. I’ll still talk to them and be friendly like I always am. People will see that, and it will add to my sales. I need to organize myself as far as my table display goes as well. That’s going to take some work as well, but I’ll get to that too.

I think there should always be something free available for someone to take home with them as both a souvenir and a promo piece to pass out to their friends. The Uranus book marks are great, but I need something for Mr. Lucky and also the “Schlitz Happened!” show. I’ve got work to do.

I also need to come up with a package deal that people can buy that gets the numbers up. I have a one hour DVD shot in HD with three cameras done by my friend film director Mark Gumbinger. I’ve had it for two years now, but haven’t sold it heavily. What am I, an imbecile? In a word – YES.

I’m smartening up in a hurry, mainly because I need money more now than I ever have. I never felt comfortable selling merchandise before, but those days are over by necessity. I’ve got quite a few products to offer, and they’re not junk. The DVD is better than 99% of what I’ve seen others offer, and I shouldn’t feel ashamed to proudly display it after shows. It was hard work to make it.

Dealing with t-shirts is also a learning experience. The Uranus shirts are very well done, so I’m not ashamed to sell those either. They look professional, and the shirts aren’t those super cheapos like I’ve seen that will disintegrate with a single washing. I spent extra to maintain some quality.

I have six different varieties, but I only brought out three this weekend. That was enough, and I had all I could handle with that. I learned a lot, and it was fascinating to watch people’s dynamic as they decided what they wanted to buy. I sat back and shut my mouth so I could observe it all.

Sizes are always a part of shirt sales. I had two moms buy shirts for their teenagers, and wanted mediums. I only have XL, and even though that wasn’t what they wanted they bought because of the Uranus gimmick. Another guy wanted a 2XL, and I didn’t have that either. For the future I’m going to have to figure it out, but I will. Even getting it this far was a victory. I’ll keep working.

Price is another issue that’s going to take work. I charged $15 each for the shirts and DVDs, or both for $25. That’s a lot of money in my book, and I have to get that out of my mind as quickly as possible. I would always sell my CDs for $10, but I’ve seen people sell theirs for $15 and $20.

That extra money adds up, and I forced myself to smile and say the price rather than add “ But I’ll give them to you both for $10”. I have to learn to value myself and my products, and I’m on my way to doing that. In a very short time I can see myself having a system in place that works.

This weekend was a flop attendance wise, but a raging success in the fact that I was able to put a marketing plan into action and still give those that did show up hot shows. Thumbs up Uranus!

The great James Gregory may be trying to look crazy in this picture, but he's hands down THE best comedian marketer I have ever seen.

The great James Gregory may be trying to look crazy in this picture, but he’s hands down THE best comedian marketer I have ever seen.

His fans adore him, and I can see why. He's all about them, and gives them what they want. He's the king. www.funniestman.com.

His fans adore him, and I can see why. He’s all about them, and gives them what they want. He’s the real king. http://www.funniestman.com.

Heywood Banks runs a close second. Despite the cultivated crazy look, there's a razor sharp mind in there.

Heywood Banks runs a close second. Despite the cultivated crazy look, there’s a razor sharp mind in there. He gets it.

His CDs are hilarious, and he's got other stuff too. Check him out at www.heywoodbanks.com.

His CDs are hilarious, and he’s got other stuff too. Find him at http://www.heywoodbanks.com.

I'm modeling my own marketing after the best. I'm working on my cultivated crazy look.

I’m modeling my own marketing after the best. I’m working on my cultivated crazy look, and a varied product line is to follow.

Want a free book mark? Send me a mailing address and I'll send you as many as you like.

Want a free book mark? Send me a mailing address and I’ll send you as many as you can handle. Get BEHIND The Uranus MOVEMENT!

Deeper Into Uranus

March 14, 2014

Thursday March 13th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

On this date in 1781, one Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus. From that day on every grade school science class has never been the same. No matter how straight a teacher may try to present it, everybody ends up giggling uncontrollably. That’s why Sir William is my hero.

No matter how one may view it, Uranus is funny. It hits on a base level, and I am not ashamed to admit I find everything about it absolutely hilarious. It’s a bad pun. It’s juvenile. It’s as old as the universe itself – and that’s the reason I want to dive into the black hole head first and own it.

I am stating to the cosmos loudly, clearly and in no uncertain terms that effective immediately if not sooner I am officially claiming the Earth rights to Uranus for as long as I may live. I have dabbled in it before, but it wasn’t enough to own it. I have only scratched the surface of Uranus.

Did I invent this? Of course not. I just got through saying that Sir William Herschel discovered it in 1781, but he didn’t own it either. Uranus was first spotted around 1690, and that gimoke did not invent it either. It was there the whole time. It’ll be there when I’m gone, but I want to use it.

David Letterman never claimed to have invented a “Top Ten” list, but he has claimed it for his own. Good for him. He saw it was available, and he has used it wisely for decades. That’s what I want to do with Uranus. I want to end up so deep into Uranus nobody else will be able to follow.

When I walk down any street in any town on any continent, I want people to say “Look! There goes the King of Uranus!” And then I want them to giggle as much or more than they did in their science class back in grade school. I want to lift humanity’s spirits through the power of Uranus.

This is a dream that has been flickering inside of me far too long. I have seen only random bits and pieces of it come true, but every last bit of it has been overwhelmingly positive from a vanity “URANUS 1” license plate on my car to a “King of Uranus” baseball cap. The masses eat it up.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I can’t run with this and take it to the pinnacle of either unbridled raging success or totally catastrophic failure. Quite honestly, it’s the success that frightens me if anything. I’m accustomed to failure and can navigate effectively, but it’s boring.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I have made up in my mind I’m going to put Uranus out there to sink, swim or succeed beyond my wildest dreams. That won’t be easy, as I have some pretty wild dreams. Actually, I just think it would be fun to have it as a legacy. I want the giggles to continue for generations after I’m dead. There could be no greater honor than to get laughs posthumously.

I’ve had this idea floating around for far too long now, and I’ve got to either hit it or quit it. I’m sick of doing it half ass. Get it? See, the angle never stops. Uranus is a wide open magnet for fun. I am now officially accepting the Kingship and now prefer to be known as “His Royal Highney”.

I Googled Uranus – which is funny in itself – and the facts that came up laid me out. “Uranus has rings.” Hee hee hee. “Uranus has only been visited once.” Stop it! “Uranus is a giant ball of gas.” I think I’m going to shoot milk through my nose! From this day on, Uranus is my destiny!

Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus on this date in 1781. See his expression as he 'looks up Uranus'. Hee hee hee

Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus on this date in 1781. See his asinine expression as he ‘looks straight up Uranus’. (Hee hee hee)

Look! Uranus has rings!  (Giggle giggle)

Look! Uranus has rings! (Giggle giggle)

Uranus is on FIRE! :)

Blow it out Uranus!

My King of Uranus logo - like the planet itself - is sideways. No other planet is quite like it.

The official recognized King of Uranus logo – like the actual planet itself – is sideways. No other planet is quite like it. Thumbs up Uranus!

If you'd like a book mark, send me a mailing address and I'll mail one out free of charge. No strings attached to Uranus.

If you’d like a book mark just like this one, send me a mailing address and I’ll mail one out free of charge. No strings attached to Uranus.

I Miss Uranus

February 25, 2014

Sunday February 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’ve really been enjoying life these last couple of months, and much of the reason for that I still have to attribute to the positive energy flow that was started by reconnecting with my siblings. It has improved my life to the core, and everything just feels better because of it. It gives me hope.

We have our meeting set up for March 8th, but don’t have a place just yet. I’ll let them choose, as it really doesn’t matter in the least from my end. I’d be ok with a can of sardines and a glass of water. It’s not about where we meet or what we eat, it’s about having closure. That’s what I have wanted as long as I can remember, and even getting together one time will do that. It’s all I need.

I had one of my super vivid dreams a few nights ago. I have those from time to time, and when I do they’re unbelievably life like. I have had them about being on stage or TV or even playing in the NFL or NBA. When I’m having one, it’s like I am in a completely different world. And I am.

I can’t explain how they differ from regular dreams, but they absolutely do. In this most recent one, I was at the restaurant where we were supposed to meet up, and I sat at the table the hostess told me to go to. The place was crowded, but I could feel eyes on me from all across the room.

The longer I sat, the more uncomfortable I became. I finally left thinking they weren’t coming, and then I got to the parking lot and they were all driving up in one car. I was overwhelmed with emotions, and I started to weep openly. They all did too, and we tried to go back inside but it was closed. I felt pure exhilaration to see them, and the dream was so intense it felt frighteningly real.

When I woke up, it was all I could think about. I know there are a lot of built up emotions from my childhood, but I didn’t think it would affect me as deeply as it has. This is exactly what I feel I’ve needed forever, and I don’t know how I know it but I know everything else is just a bonus.

I am fully prepared in my mind should things go south. I don’t think they will, mainly because all of us have volunteered to be there. Nobody is coming kicking and screaming, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t change their mind before that day. I won’t, but I can’t speak for the rest of them. I know I’m going in with the right mindset, and no matter how it plays out I’ll deal with it.

There’s no denying there was a lot of damage done to all of us. Childhood was an ugly blur of dysfunction, and it will be painful to go back into that mess. We’re not going in there to troll up that old sludge, but I don’t see how at least a little can’t splatter on us during our time together.

We’ve all got raw nerves exposed, and chances of someone hitting one are unfortunately really good. I’m not going to lash out at anyone, and should it get out of hand I’ll politely leave and not initiate any combat. I believe in my heart none of us want that, but if it happens I’ll remain calm.

Even then, I won’t carry any grudges or wish them anything other than peace. That’s what I’ve wanted, and we’re almost there. I have no idea if we’ll stay in contact after that night, and though I’d really like that we’ve all built lives for ourselves and nothing would change much for any of us. We’ve already learned to live without each other, so anything more than that will be an added treat. I’m looking very forward to March 8th, and no matter what happens I’m already a winner.

The change that has come over me is dramatic, and I’ve never felt better. It’s pretty late in life to be starting over, but that’s how I feel. No matter what happens on March 8th, I will hopefully wake up on March 9th with something to aspire to. Without hopes and dreams, life is worthless.

I’d still love to find a good woman and experience what a healthy love relationship is. That’s a goal I’d like far more than comedy. I have been striking out left and right lately, even though I’m trying my best to put myself in a position to make myself available to someone special. It’s been a total blow to my already shaky self esteem, but if I don’t try I’ll never get my chance. It’s hard.

But like with my siblings, I know what it’s like to be alone and not much will change if I don’t hook up with Miss Dreamy Pants. I know several women I’d love to hook up with, but for some reason it’s just not clicking at the moment. Maybe I’m changing too much and too fast for them.

All I can do is be myself, and that’s one thing that I know is absolutely improving by amazing leaps and bounds. My whole inner psyche feels better than I ever remember, and I have to think it will catch up in the rest of my life. Maybe the women I like now aren’t the right ones for me.

I’ll let that happen as it will, or maybe it won’t. If I have to die alone, I’ve always been able to deal with that. I’ve been alone my whole life, so it’s not a big deal. I know I have trust issues, but a big part of getting over that will be this meeting. I feel great about it and am ready for anything.

What I’m not feeling great about is my career – or lack thereof. I am having without a doubt by far my best shows ever, but I’m not making much of a dent anywhere. I can’t seem to crack all of the big comedy club chains like the Improvs or the Funny Bones, and that’s only because of a jag against me by a few people in charge. It has nothing to do with my ability, but that’s how it goes.

Could all that turn around in a second? Absolutely! ONE big break will turn it around, and I’ve always known that. What I don’t know is if I feel like hanging in there much longer and sucking raw sewage fumes. It’s just not thrilling me, and I need a place where I can channel my passion.

In all honesty, what I want more than anything else is to develop the King of Uranus and make it a viable entity rather than a half baked whim I have kicked around with no set direction. There is a goldmine in Uranus, and I feel it with all my heart. It excites me to an inner boil, and it feels like my inner mission despite the fact people have told me I’m nuts. A lot more have laughed.

That’s the whole idea. I live to make people laugh, and it doesn’t have to be just doing standup comedy. I love doing it, but not with the life toll it takes. The King of Uranus is a goofy gimmick by itself, but the creative genius will come from the marketing aspect of how it all gets executed.

I want to be the head of a successful company that sells funny. That could be clothing, trinkets, novelties, live shows – it doesn’t matter. I want to create a brand, and be the personification of it. Much like Vince McMahon personifies the WWE, I want to be associated with Uranus. No joke.

Crazy? Without a doubt. Stupid? That’s debateable. I feel this so strongly I can’t keep it in, and it’s all that trips my trigger right now. Sink or swim, this is where my passion lies. I can see it all as vividly and realistic as one of my intense dreams. This idea has rotted too long. I miss Uranus!

Did you know that this is the official international symbol for Uranus? You do now.

Did you know that this is the official symbol for Uranus? You do now.

Here's my logo. Remember - it's always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

Remember – it’s always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

See what I mean? Who doesn't think this is funny? I don't want them around me.

See what I mean? Who doesn’t think this is funny? If you don’t, stay away from me please.

She might think it's funny.  Maybe she'd like a date with royalty!

She might think it’s funny. Better yet, maybe she’d like a date with royalty! Uranus is for lovers.

Who doesn't? It's the butt of every nine year old's jokes. Pun intended. This is the level of the public's sense of humor, and I'm going to get a few bucks from each of them. Thumbs up Uranus!

Who doesn’t? It’s the butt of every nine year old’s jokes. Pun intended. THIS is the level of the public’s sense of humor, and I intend to get a few bucks from each of them. Thumbs up Uranus!

A Martian Iguana?

November 14, 2013

Tuesday November 12th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by anything outer space related. I love it all from red giant and white dwarf stars to gas giant planets to especially UFOs and beings from the outer edges of the cosmos. It has fascinated me my whole life, and I’m still interested in all of it.

It was great fun to host “The Mothership Connection” paranormal talk radio show on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI for five years, and I hope I get a chance to do it again. I never get tired of talking about anything interplanetary, and the latest tidbit is the alleged “iguana” found on Mars.

There’s a picture that’s going around of an oddly shaped object that people are claiming could be an animal of some sort. It resembles an iguana, at least according to many observers. I looked at it carefully for several minutes and quite honestly I don’t see an iguana, but what do I know?

To me it looks more like a plucked chicken with rickets. Even so, that’s pretty impressive to be roaming the surface of Mars. If we could have sent anyone there in retrospect it should probably have been Colonel Sanders. He could have breaded it, fried it up and fed it to hungry Martians – and I do believe Martians exist. I don’t know what they eat, but I definitely think they’re real.

I’ve always thought that there was life all over the universe – even in our solar system. Doesn’t it seem a little ridiculous that we’re the only planet out of nine that has anything going on? I have never believed that, and I still don’t. I’m not sure where it is, but I’d bet my asteroid it’s plentiful.

Mars seems like a no brainer, especially with all the weird things they’ve uncovered there since the Viking probe went there in the ‘70s. The ‘face’ is no coincidence in my opinion, and I would be shocked if we haven’t already sent people there to explore. NASA is a lot bigger than us all.

The moon is another interesting case. There are all kinds of rumors flying about why we didn’t go back after the Apollo missions of the ‘70s, and other rumors saying we never went at all. I am not sure what the truth is, but it sure is fun trying to find out. These subjects never get old to me.

One of the most fascinating people I have ever met is a lady named Bonnie Meyer. She’s from Neenah, WI, and she claims to be an alien ‘contactee’ for multiple decades. She was an amazing radio guest, and I was riveted to her every word. If she’s lying, she’s the all time queen of BS.

Personally, I don’t think she is. She’s a very nice lady, and unless she’s a total psychopath she can calmly tell some hair raising tales about her experiences on space craft from other galaxies. I highly recommend her books ‘Alien Contact’ and ‘Unholy Alliance’. They’re fascinating reads.

Is it true? Who can say? I’ve never actually seen an alien, a UFO or even a meteor shower, but I can’t get enough about any of them. That’s why my eyes and ears perked up when I saw all of this about the Martian iguana. I guess like a lot of people, I want to believe there’s life out there.

Well, I actually do believe that, but now I want undeniable proof. If there’s an iguana on Mars, can a skunk on Saturn be far behind? How about a platypus on Pluto? And I won’t even think of mentioning anything on Uranus. Who’d believe that? Everybody knows Uranus is frozen shut.

Does the image on the left found on Mars look like an iguana to you? The one on the right looks like Nancy Pelosi.

Does the image on the left found on Mars look like an iguana to you? The one on the right looks like Nancy Pelosi.

This is the alleged 'Face on Mars' image taken by Viking 1 in 1976. It kind of looks like Ozzy Osbourne.

This is the alleged ‘Face on Mars’ image taken by Viking 1 in 1976. It kind of looks like Ozzy Osbourne.

Joking aside, this is a fascinating book from alien contactee Bonnie Meyer. It's worth checking out.

Joking aside, this is a fascinating book from alien contactee Bonnie Meyer. It’s worth checking out.

Low Rider

June 1, 2013

Thursday May 30th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   Life is a continuing series of ups and downs. I happen to be stuck in a down right now, but I’ve been here plenty of times before so it’s nothing new. Although it’s never pleasant, the only thing to do is wait it out and try to weather the storm as well as possible. Sooner or later, it will switch.

   I’ve given up on trying to figure out a logical reason, because I don’t think one exists. I think it boils down to a planetary vibe, or something bigger than all of us. Maybe it’s moonbeams or star dust or cosmic dust from Uranus, but some days or longer periods of time are better than others.

   Why is it one day I’ll wake up and everything falls into place? I hit all the green lights in traffic and I go to the restaurant and get the cutie pie waitress to flirt with rather than the 300 lb. sea hag with stale perfume that smells like her sump pump went out. On those days, nothing goes wrong.

   Then, other days I can tell it’s going to be exactly the opposite. I get behind some nose picking Neanderthal drooling into his cell phone in the left lane of traffic who directly causes me to miss one green light while he slides through, leaving me steaming at the red light unable to retaliate.

   That in turn throws me off course and I end up hitting every other red light the rest of the entire day, and then getting not only the ugliest waitress at the restaurant but the newly paroled first day on the job cook with trench mouth and pink eye that sneezes on my omelet. I guess that wouldn’t be so bad, but I’d ordered a chef’s salad. When I’m out of the groove, it doesn’t matter what I do.

   Right now, I’m out of the groove. Sometimes it last for days, sometimes for weeks. Sometimes it’s longer than that. I was in a really good groove just a few weeks ago, but that’s gone now. I’m not sure exactly when the switch happened, but I know it did. I wish I could identify the process.

   One thing that’s really been an annoying issue of late is traffic problems. I got a speeding ticket in January that’s been a festering dingle berry since it happened. First, the fine was $250, and the gig I was going to in Eau Claire, WI paid $200. I was already in the hole, but the rental car I was driving cost me even more. Then I went to fight it in court, and they misfiled all my paper work.

   I eventually paid the ticket after finding out they screwed up the filing, but last week I received a notice from the state saying my driver’s license is suspended. That’s another fine I had to come up with, and the torture is never ending. I’ve never had my license suspended in my life until this annoying little hiccup, but now I’m a criminal because some smug cop had to play Dirty Harry.

   Normally I respect the police, but that guy had a bug up his ass as he got out of his car. I don’t know what his problem was that day, but he sure took it out on me. I could tell when he climbed out of his car I was going to get a ticket by the way he goose stepped to mine. I was out of luck.

   Other days, I’m able to make the cop laugh or just get off with a warning. I’ll admit I’ve gotten off completely several times when I probably should have gotten pinched, but for reasons I can’t identify I slid through the cracks. Was it because I was a nice guy? Caucasian? Without any past criminal record? It could be a combination of all of those things, but I can’t put my finger on it.

   Sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t feel like I am doing anything different, but there sure are different results. Right now I’m on a low, and try as I might I haven’t the first hint of a clue as to how to change that. If I could, I would. But I can’t. I’ll have to wait.

What’s An Enviromedian?

May 28, 2013

Sunday May 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

  Nobody appreciates quality entertainment more than an entertainer. I’m a loyal and rabid fan of anything well done, but obviously standup comedy holds a special place in my heart and always has. I loved it before I did it, and my love for it was what drew me to it. I never grow tired of it.

   I think that makes me a perfect candidate to be a producer of product for other comedians. I am a lifelong fan of the craft, and who better would there be to inject a set of ‘fresh eyes’ into what a comedian does to best showcase his or her talent to the public? I feel as if I’m uniquely qualified.

   I got my chance a while back when I produced a live DVD project for my friend James Wesley Jackson, aka ‘The Enviromedian’. This was a thrill on many levels. First, James used to tour with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic for years. That alone puts him in my Hall of Fame for life. Anyone who knows me knows I love the PFunk – even though nobody can figure out why.

   For whatever reason, I was sucked in as a kid when I first heard it on the radio and I still love it today. It’s well done entertainment and then some, and I respect the immense effort it must have taken to pull off such a huge project. James got to witness it first hand, and still be a comedian.

   Second, James is flat out one of THE sweetest human beings I have ever encountered. He has a laid back friendliness that shines on stage, and you can’t help but love the guy. He’s got his own unique style, and the first time I met him we hit it off instantly. Part of it was the fact that I knew of his pedigree with the PFunk, and another part was two fellow comedians sharing our histories.

   Whatever the case, I wanted to start producing other performers. I can think of more than just a handful who don’t have top quality recording projects out in my opinion, and that’s not meant to be an insult. Most of us are focused on our performing and just trying to stay alive that taking the time to crank out product never manifests itself. I know how hard it was to do my own products.

    I also suffer from a common ailment of not being able to sell my own stuff well, but can go all out with someone else’s. I believe in James as a comic and a person, and it was my pleasure to be the one to head up this project. It was recorded a couple of years ago now, but my hospitalization fiasco of 2011 has held it up along with other obstacles in my path. It’s been a long time coming.

   Now, I have FINALLY gotten my head out of Uranus and had 100 promo copies made to start sending them out. I don’t know exactly who to send them to, but I have them. I invested my last nickel getting this done, but I felt I owed it to James and myself to finish what I said I would do.

   Fellow comedian Mike Preston was the technical person, and I hired him to record the show at a place called ‘Asbury’s’ in the Chicago area. It’s a country club of all things, but James knocked it so far out of the park it might as well have been Carnegie Hall. It was a very special experience to be there that night, and for once the hot show was the one that got recorded. It came out great.

   I hired legendary PFunk artist Pedro Bell to do the cover art, and fans will be able to recognize it instantly. It took a long time to get this far, but I am proud to say I did it. Now I need to stretch it further and start selling some product. Not only that, I’d love to get a chance to produce several more comedians I’m a fan of. Names that come to mind are talented guys like Bill Gorgo, Jimmy McHugh, Jim Wiggins, Tim Walkoe, Tim Northern and so many more. George Clinton produced a lot of music acts beside his own. I’d be delighted to do the same with a variety of comedy acts.

The Enviromedian is BACK!

The Enviromedian is BACK!

James Wesley Jackson

James Wesley Jackson