Posts Tagged ‘Vince Carone’

Afternoon Delight And Three Dog Night

March 31, 2014

Friday March 28th, 2014 – Arlington Heights, IL/St. Charles, IL

Today was yet another jam packed super busy day, but all of it was good. In the early afternoon I was asked to give a speech to a team of website telephone consultants that constantly face a lot of rejection in their job. Lucky them, as I can’t think of anyone with as much experience to speak on that subject as me. If there was ever a match made in heaven for me to be an expert, this is it.

There were about thirty people, and it was their quarterly meeting. Most were probably in their 20s or early 30s, and I’d guess there were a few more females than males. I had several weeks to prepare, and I worked very hard on coming up with things to talk about that would be of interest.

For some reason, ‘regular people’ seem to be fascinated with what it’s like to be an entertainer. I guess I don’t think about it that way because I have done it so long, but it has been pointed out to me over and over recently that I have a unique perspective that business clients want to hear.

I’m delighted to share my stories, and I have plenty to go around. I have had interaction with a lot of celebrities through the years, and that never hurts. People love hearing storied about them, and on top of that mine have points. And if it’s rejection they want to know about, I can speak on that subject with just about anyone still able to walk the planet. I’ve earned my master’s degree.

I spoke for about twenty minutes, and I put everything I had into it. I’m still learning how to be a speaker rather than a comedian, and there is a different pace involved. There are also important message points that need to be included, and I’m working on smoothing it all out into a package I can sell over and over just like my act. It will take more work, but today was a very solid effort.

The person that asked me to speak is my friend Vince Carone. He took my comedy class years ago when he was still a teenager, and has really done well. He now closes shows all over and has an unbelievably sharp business head to go along with a tremendous work ethic. I’m proud of him as a student, but he’s an even better person. People like him are why I keep teaching the classes.

Vince knows the owner of the company, and thought I’d be able to add to the mix while having a chance to practice my speech for a live audience. That’s exactly what happened, and it worked out splendidly. It was win/win, and I could tell it was a hit. This was totally worth all our whiles.

Immediately after finishing there, I drove to Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL to meet up with Mike Preston. He was scheduled to have an interview with Jimmy Greenspoon, keyboardist for the band Three Dog Night. Mike frequently calls when he does interviews like this as comics know how to act around celebrity types. Jimmy McHugh and I are usually his first two choices.

Jimmy and I were both available today, and we each ran a camera as Mike interviewed Jimmy Greenspoon – who happens to be a fascinating character. He grew up in Beverly Hills, and he is the son of a silent film star. He told us some fascinating stories, and then we got to see the show at the Arcada Theatre just down the street. I have always wanted to see them live, and it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Those guys are total pros – the band and Mike and Jimmy.

Vince Carone got me a speaking gig this afternoon. Thanks Vince! He's also a very accomplished comedian in his own right and just recorded a brand new CD.

Vince Carone got me a corporate speaking gig this afternoon. Thanks Vince! He’s also a very accomplished comedian in his own right and just recorded a brand new comedy CD.

It was a thrill to meet Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, and see their show as well.

It was a thrill to meet Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, and see their show as well.


Problems? What Problems?

March 13, 2013

Tuesday March12th, 2013 – Arlington Heights, IL

   Just when I think I have problems, something comes along to tell me I don’t. Every day any of us is above ground is a good day, at least in theory and on paper. Yes, things do go wrong for all of us but no matter who we are there always seems to be someone else suffering just a bit more.

I had lunch today with one of my former comedy students Vince Carone. Vince took my class more than ten years ago now, and we’ve kept in touch off and on. He’s a smart hardworking kid who is not a kid anymore. He’s a grown man and has been making progress in the comedy game.

Right from the start, I could see good things for Vince. His parents had a sports card shop of all things, and he understood the business angle a whole lot sooner than I ever did. He also happens to have an outstanding work ethic along with being a good looking kid and natural for the stage.

I watched Vince climb the ranks, and it didn’t surprise me at all that he started to close shows a lot sooner than I ever did. He really has a grasp for the big picture, and he doesn’t expect to get a break without working for it. Not a lot of comedians have all that going for them, but Vince did.

I hadn’t heard from him in quite a while, but that happens. It’s impossible to keep current with everybody, as I’ve had more than 2000 students alone. That doesn’t count booking agents, comic friends and regular friends in general. People cross paths when they do, and that’s how it goes.

I was wondering how Vince was doing as I hadn’t heard a peep for a long time, and last week I received a startling email informing me how he’d been having severe health issues for the better part of the last year and had dropped out of sight to almost everyone. It took me by total surprise.

At first it was thought he had Hodgkins lymphoma, and that’s no small prognosis. Vince said it was a mind blower, but he was never bitter about it. He had resigned himself to the fact he would be uncomfortable during his chemotherapy and then recover after that. Then it turned into a giant circus as they weren’t able to locate the cancer and he wasn’t sure what was up or what to think.

He was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and the whole story sounded like a nightmare that even Mr. Lucky hasn’t had to live through – even though I’ve had my own health issues to worry about. Vince has gone through some surgeries and is taking medication now and feeling better.

He told the story at lunch with remarkable resolve, and is not letting it get him down. He’s on a medication plan that’s making him feel better, and he may or may not have to deal with this hell anymore. Nobody knows, and that’s got to be frustrating too. One just never knows how life will work out. We all get surprises thrown in front of our life’s path, and it’s up to us to sort it all out.

I was really sorry to hear of this, but if anyone can handle it it’s Vince. He’s got a solid family and is really grounded in good values. I wish he didn’t have to go through this, but who has any choice as to the sufferings we all have to go through in life? Whenever I think I have problems, I think of stories like Vince’s and know that I don’t. Nobody ever said life was fair – and it isn’t.

Shame And Pride

March 26, 2010

Thursday March 25th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Whatever problems I might have seem pretty pale in comparison to Rick Finch, former member of KC and The Sunshine Band. He was arrested for having sex with teenage boys in the music studio at his home and apparently he admitted it to police. That’s pretty hard to explain one’s way out of, and I have to believe any kind of a career he has is now over.

Most people don’t even know who he was, but I’ve always been a fan of that band since I was a kid and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They cranked out some mega funky hits back then that still sound good today. They were all about showmanship, and I always love that no matter what the product is. Good entertainment is difficult to produce. I respect them.

The reason I knew who Rick Finch was is that he was the ’other guy’ in the team of two creative people. KC is known for the hits, but Rick Finch co-wrote a lot of them and had a big part in the creative process. Another example would be Meatloaf and Jim Steinman.

Meatloaf only sang the songs that Jim Steinman wrote, but nobody really cares about it other than Jim Steinman. Elton John and Bernie Taupin are another example. Elton sings and writes the tunes and Bernie writes the lyrics. That’s been successful for forty years.

Rick Finch and KC wrote songs in the ‘70s, and then had an ugly split in about 1981. Is it a coincidence the band stopped having hits right around that time? KC continues to tour even now, but they’re an oldies act for sure. Whatever creative magic they had is finished.

I hate to hear stories like that because finding that match is difficult. A comedy example would be Martin and Lewis. They were on top of the world and then they broke up too. In a perfect world it wouldn’t happen, but this never will be a perfect world. I feel worse for the victims. The guy obviously has a problem and I hope it isn’t too late to get some help.

My guess is, he’s going to die miserably in prison. I can’t see a pleasant outcome for the guy who molests teenage boys in his house when he’s supposed to be a mentor figure. It’s not an accident and no matter how rich or famous he used to be, that’s all over with now.

Whatever unpleasant obstacles I’ve had thrown in my life’s path, it wasn’t that. I’ve had my share of other problems, but I’ve never been molested by any scout masters or priests. Maybe I was just too damn ugly, but at least I never had to have those kind of memories.

The story really shocked me when I read it. I totally knew who he was, and it came out of the clear blue unexpectedly. How does anyone put a positive spin on that? What does a publicist or press liason say, especially when he admitted it? It can’t be a pleasant task for his lawyer either. Then of course there will be everyone in the music industry gossiping.

All the articles I’ve had over the years have always been positive. It’s part of coming up the ladder, and they’re used in a publicity package to send out to get more press or send to bookers. I may get some negative press in the future, but it won’t be anything like this.

On a positive note, I had lunch with Vince Carone today. He’s a former student who has a chance to really do something in the business. He’s 27 now but was probably 19 at most when he took the class at Zanies. He was always a nice kid but now he’s really maturing.

When I was coming up in Milwaukee in the ‘80s, my mentor C. Cardell Willis groomed me to be ‘the one’ who would do something in the business. He said that of all the comics in town at that time, I was the one that had the most chance of taking comedy the farthest.

He taught me about the road and how it would be a grind, but that’s how comedy had to be to make a living and not just be a hometown hobbyist. Cardell always told me I would take comedy farther than he’d be able to, and he was right. I did. He didn’t have resources at his disposal to go on the road full time. He had a family to support and he did his duty.

The comedy boom of the ‘80s didn’t have much of a place for Cardell. He wasn’t in the right place at the right time, funny as he was. He was my age now when clubs were in the infant stages, and most of the comics then were twenty somethings. He never had a shot.

Vince is really starting to come into his own and I told him at lunch today I feel exactly the way Cardell did when he told me I’d take it farther than he ever would. Vince will be the one to leave me in the dust, and if it has to be someone I’m glad it’s him. He’s got an amazing work ethic but he’s got a heart too. He also has a business sense. That’s RARE.

I’m proud of all my students, and just as children they’re all individuals. I support them and try to be there when they have a question, but sometimes we drift apart over years and I don’t hear from them for a while. I’m busy bailing water out of my own boat, and I have my own career to mishandle. I’m making dumb new mistakes so I’ll have more to teach.

Vince has always kept in contact and I’m very grateful for that. He’s very classy and it’s going to take him very far. He’s not insincere as many in show business can be, and I will always be in his corner cheering for his success. He gave me his SECOND finished DVD, which for 27 is outstanding. It wasn’t half assed either. Both projects are very impressive.

I was farting around with morning radio at 27, wondering what direction to go. We had no recording capability back then, and if I did my act was so brutal I’m glad there’s not a recording of it I’d have to destroy. Vince did a fine job and I’m happy for him. Not only is it funny, he put a nice package together and twenty years from now he’ll still be proud.

Vince knew what he wanted from the start, just like I thought I did. Even at 19, he was always asking questions and sending me emails and I respected him for that. He was right on the money, and I’m not surprised he’s starting to do well now. He’s only 27, but he’s a veteran of the wars because he started young like I did. He’ll blow me out of the water.

I told him to be careful for what he wished for. All I wanted back then was to be a solid act and kick ass on stage wherever I went. I thought that was all I needed. Well, I got that wish, and was I wrong. There’s a lot more, and Vince is doing it right. Rick Finch isn’t.