Posts Tagged ‘World Series’

Manufactured Mania

February 6, 2014

Sunday February 2nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I have wanted to see a Super Bowl in person since I was a kid, and I still do. My reasons are no longer the same, but if I ever get the chance I’ll definitely go. I used to want to go only to see my beloved Green Bay Packers win the ultimate prize, but now I’d like to observe all the marketing.

It would be great if the Packers happened to be in it, but it’s not necessary. I want to experience the manufactured mania for myself, and see what I can learn. That’s the biggest single event that I can think of, at least in the United States. I’m sure the World Cup and Olympics are also giants, but they’re both spread over time and space. The Super Bowl is a one day shot for a single city.

There are events the whole week, but the main event is the game. I’d like to see how the people in charge run everything, and I’m sure it’s much more complicated since 9/11. As a rule I usually don’t like big crowds, but for that I’d make an exception. That’s an experience I’d like to have.

I went to see the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and I’m still glad I did. I was already working in Nashville anyway, so it wasn’t that far of a drive. I bought a ticket from a scalper to see the track and field events, and it was worth every penny. I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but it was significant. I think it was maybe $200 as I recall, but the experience I got is with me today.

The $200 would have been long spent on something forgettable like rent or car repairs, so I am glad I made the investment. I had the opportunity to go to a World Series game in Milwaukee in 1982, and I passed it up. The ticket would have cost $50, and I wasn’t about to pay it at the time. I assumed I would have plenty more chances to see my hometown Brewers in the World Series.

Right. And what did I do with that $50? Nothing I can remember, and certainly nothing that is close to experiencing a World Series game in person. Life is to be lived, and I completely wasted that particular opportunity. Should it come up again, I’ll choose more wisely. Who says it will?

I suppose I could go to the World Series any year if I wanted, but I don’t really want to unless it’s to see a team I happen to like a lot. Maybe if I’m in a town that happens to be hosting a game and I get a chance to go, I’ll do it. But it’s only one game. A Super Bowl is THE main attraction.

I really wanted to go a couple of years ago when the Packers were playing the Steelers down in Dallas. It was a brand new stadium, and there were tickets available. The weather was especially nasty and I didn’t have a plane ticket, so I decided not to go. Was it a correct choice? We’ll see.

This wasn’t the year, as I had no interest whatsoever in sitting outside in New York. I can have all the ugly weather I want right out my front door, I don’t have to pay big money for it. I’ll wait until it’s in a warm weather location, and go from there. Hopefully I can rustle up a free ticket or better find a way to get paid to be there. Whatever the case, I’d love to see one before I cash out.

Spectacle and showmanship are extra difficult to pull off effectively because there are all kinds of elements that need to come together at once – not the least important of which is the throng of people required to make anything that big that big. Dress rehearsals are fine, but when the curtain is raised for real there’s no turning back. I’d love to have an opportunity to be part of that energy.

I have wanted to see a Super Bowl live since I was a kid.

I have wanted to see a Super Bowl live since I was a kid. I still do.

In a perfect world, the Green Bay Packers would win by several touchdowns.

In a perfect world, the Green Bay Packers would win by several touchdowns.

The halftime show would be George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic.

The halftime show would be George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic.

Since I'm dreaming already, she'll be my date.

Since I’m dreaming already, she’ll be my date.

Advertisements

Making The Radio Rounds

October 29, 2013

Friday October 25th, 2013 – Springfield, IL

I’m back in Springfield, IL this week at one of my all time favorite stops, Donnie B’s Comedy Club. I’ve always enjoyed working here, and this week is no exception. Donnie B is a hustler of epic proportions, and I mean that in only the most respectful way. He’s a fantastic entrepreneur.

I don’t think I have ever seen a comedy club owner work as hard as he does to get the word out and keep it out. He’s got a car full of posters and flyers and coupons, and everywhere I go I’ll see his club mentioned somewhere. That guy knows how to promote, and he deserves all his success.

Unfortunately, he didn’t pick the greatest town to work his magic and he’s not living in the lap of luxury like I think he should be. The economy has hit him like most everyone else, and he’s in the same boat as almost everyone who has their own business. He’s busting ass just to stay even.

He runs a bar and restaurant in the hotel where his club is located, and that keeps him busy for most of the week. Comedy shows are Friday and Saturday, and he runs the comedians around to get on four radio stations on Friday mornings. Nobody could ever accuse Donnie of being lazy.

I made it into town last night, and was glad to do the four radio interviews. That’s what gets the word out, and even if people don’t come out this week at least it’s awareness for the club. I can’t believe how many club owners and comedians alike don’t realize how crucial radio exposure is.

We did an AM sports station, the classic rock station, the oldies station and the hot hits station “Kiss FM”. Everyone was very nice, and I tried to talk fast and say “Donnie B’s Comedy Club” as many times as humanly possible. Donnie knows I know what I’m doing, and I could see a big smile on his face every time I’d mention the club or plug the shows. A lot of comics don’t get it.

Like it or not, a comedian and a club owner are in business together for the week. It’s not smart to have a hostile relationship, as it will hurt everyone. If the club can get a dozen media outlets to have the comedian on, the comedian needs to get up and go no matter how early or inconvenient.

Another thing I respect about Donnie is that he hosts his own shows. Who else but the owner is able to extol the virtues of a business, and that’s what he does. He talks about drink specials and upcoming events, and personally greets the regulars that happen to show up on a particular night.

He books an opening act to do a very short set – usually about 12-15 minutes tops. It works for him, and I for one am a fan of this system. It might not be the greatest for developing local talent, but from an audience’s standpoint it’s a very solid show. He’s not in the business to develop acts, he’s in business to sell tickets, food and drinks. I grasp that a lot more now than when I started.

Donnie makes no bones about the fact that he’s in business to earn a living. I have no problem with that, and we get along great. He knows I’ll deliver on stage, and I know my check won’t be short or bounce at the end of the week. If every club was this cut and dried, life would be peachy.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t look to be a great weekend due to Halloween and the World Series. Sometimes circumstances can kill even the best of promoters, but at least we did all we can do.

Donnie B's Comedy Club in Springfield, IL is one of the best run comedy clubs in America. www.funnybonecomedyclub.com

Donnie B’s Comedy Club in Springfield, IL is one of the best run comedy clubs in America. http://www.funnybonecomedyclub.com

$38.65

July 15, 2013

Saturday July 13th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The gap between theory and reality seems to be widening of late. In my head, I’ve got all these grandiose ideas bouncing around for what I want to get done in life, but far too few have had any tangible results. Those that did have happened so slowly, a snail’s pace would signal an upgrade. 

   A prime example would be my feeble attempt to make a few extra bucks wheeling and dealing antiques and collectibles. I’ve been doing it my whole life and I’m in the ideal scenario with my vagabond lifestyle and plenty of free time. In theory, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be killing this.

   I have made a few nice finds, but nothing that’s going to bail me out of the poor house just yet. I knew going in that with enormous glut of TV exposure from American Pickers to Pawn Stars to Storage Wars and everything in between it would light the fires of treasure hunters everywhere.

   I wasn’t getting in it for the quick and easy buck, because if there’s one lesson I’ve learned on my life’s journey it’s that it doesn’t exist along with unicorns, leprechauns and Chicago Cubs in the World Series. I entered the game knowing I would have to work my way into it gradually.

   The main concern as always is my time outlay vs. income. I can’t afford any hobbies that only suck time right now, and I was looking specifically to turn at least a semi steady buck. I think my picking eye is halfway decent, so I set out to look for a supply of trinkets and baubles to resell.

   I compiled a bunch after several weeks of hunting in my spare time, and then delivered some to a friend of a friend who frequently sells on Ebay. We worked out a percentage deal that we could both live with, and I left him to do his thing. We both agreed it would be a low risk experiment.

   Today I received an email from the guy saying my grand total after fees and percentages was a whopping $38.65. Not everything sold, but what did actually fetched a profit. For example, I had a vintage phone I found in a thrift store for $6 and my share after everything was $15. I’ll take it.

   I also found an old model car kit at a rummage sale for $3 and my final net was $12. Again, not a bad profit and the other guy made his percentage too. We only tried a few items, so it’s not like my whole stash is used up, but at this rate it will be a long time before I’ll be in the Fortune 500.

   Rummage season is in full swing, and I am in a mega ripe area. I can’t drive down any street in any direction near me on a weekend and not see homemade signs everywhere. I’m not finding an abundance of quality items though, and it’s not been worth my time and especially gas to search.

   Everyone else is watching all those TV shows too, so anything even close to old is being listed as ‘vintage’ and priced as high as someone would have to be to buy it for that amount. It’s funny to see the looks on shoppers’ faces when they flip over a junk item and see a sky high price tag.

   Still, there are bargains to be found for those that look hard enough. I’m just not sure if I have a desire to be one of them. By the time I fill my gas tank and put stressful miles on my car sorting through randomly scattered junk piles hoping to find a rare gem, the profit I make isn’t worth it.

   I will still fart around with it only because I like it, but this isn’t the way to make any kind of a steady living. I’d have to get a storage facility and set up at flea markets, and right now I’m just not looking to do that. I’ve got other projects that mean more to me than being a garbage picker. In theory, I had a plan to bring in steady extra cash. In reality, I worked way too hard for $38.65.

Big Odds And Bob Uecker

January 27, 2010

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI

Back up to Milwaukee today for an appearance on The D-List radio show on ESPN 540  with Drew Olson and Dan Needles. I always love hanging out on the air and they give me walk on status to come in pretty much any time I want. I really appreciate that but I never want to abuse the privilege so I always try to have something to contribute when I’m on.

Today I didn’t have to do much at all, so I tried to insert a few quick lines and then stay out of the way. The whole Brett Favre situation was still the talk of the town and I let the guys take the show where they wanted. They were on a roll so I just sat back and listened. I cracked off a couple of halfway decent lines, but I didn’t want to force it so I laid low.

They have celebrity guests in on Tuesdays and today it was Brian Calhoun, a free agent NFL running back who played with the Detroit Lions from 2006-2008. He played college ball at both Colorado and Wisconsin and he went to high school in the Milwaukee area.

What a nice guy he is. He was very laid back and excellent on the air and he fit in really well with the show. I was fascinated with his stories on air and off of his experience as an NFL player, and all that it takes to get there. He had some pretty nasty injuries, including a ‘ripped quadriceps’. Yeowch. It made us all flinch, and that was just hearing about it.

I can’t imagine the pain of the actual injury, but that’s part of life as a professional. The guy is built like an absolute rock, and has giant hands that could probably twist my melon head off like a bottle cap. If anyone can recover from a ripped anything, I’d bet on Brian.

It occurred to me as I listened to the interview that the odds of being a household name and a genuine star at anything are way beyond astronomical. I mean, here’s a guy that has amazing athletic talent and was at the top of his class in high school and TWO colleges.

Still, he only gets drafted in the third round. ‘Only’, like that’s an insult. It isn’t, and it’s what made me think of just how rare it is to be a top five or ten first round draft choice in any major sport. Even after that, there’s no guarantee of success. A lot of people bust out.

Brian said he still wants to play in the NFL and I’m really rooting for him. He’s over his injuries and said he’s 100% and hopes his agent can land him a job somewhere. That also was a red flag when I heard it. Now he has to jump through all those hoops as well as the actual training and dedication it takes to be a player. Those guys are treated like cattle.

He also said he played on the Detroit Lions 0-16 team in 2008. Everyone made fun of it at the time, but nobody did today because we all realized just how much effort it takes for anyone to even make an NFL roster, much less win a championship, much less one game.

And, no offense to Brian at all, but now he’s gone. He’s only 25, but every year there’s a new crop of young bucks coming up from all over that want to take his job. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and I have nothing but respect for the guy. I hope he gets to return.

Another guy I have nothing but respect and admiration for is Bob Uecker. Today is his birthday and I still want to meet him in person before I take a stray bullet or crash my car again. He’s always been one of my very favorite comics, even though he’s not a standup.

The guy is just FUNNY. Period. He’s got ‘it’, and I’ve found him to be hilarious since I started listening to him do Brewer games on the radio with Merle Harmon as a kid. Then I saw him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and realized he was using the boring parts of games to polish his bits for TV, and the Brewers were pretty bad to say the least.

At the time I had no idea how the process of comedy worked so I’d watch him rattle off stories I’d heard before on the radio, but they were trimmed down to a streamlined polish and flowed seamlessly with a smooth easy rhythm like he was just saying it off the top of his head. Johnny would go nuts and it felt kind of cool to see a local guy on national TV.

Bob Uecker is another example of the numbers game. He plays it up like he was a very poor player, but the truth is he made the major leagues in the early ‘60s when there were  a lot fewer teams. He also lasted for quite a few years and played on a World Series team in ‘64 with St. Louis. There are a LOT of players who never came close to doing all that.

That being said, he still was never a star player. He’s light years ahead of the people on the street, but in the game he was just another guy. He made the most of what he could do with what he had, and then he moved on as crop after crop of new talent kept coming up.

Yes, he sure did find his niche as a broadcaster – so much so that he made Cooperstown. But how many other guys did he play with that went back to their hometown and found a dead end job and drifted off into obscurity? Probably a lot. The whole thing really blows my mind, and it actually puts me in a good space about what I’ve achieved in comedy.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big comedy star. I’m not even a small to medium. I’m an above average performer just like Brian Calhoun and Bob Uecker are above average with what they chose to pursue. Both of them made the big time, and that’s no small task for a person in any competitive field like sports or entertainment. A precious few become stars.

I made it to the big time by getting on national TV, even if it was only for a few minutes at 1am. I did it, and it went well. I didn’t embarrass myself, or the network either. I could easily go on and do it again, and would love the opportunity just as Brian Calhoun wants to get another shot at the NFL. It’s not a matter of if he can do it, it’s will he get his shot?

I’m in the same boat in comedy. I could do an infinite number of appearances, but now it’s a matter of how and where will I get that shot? I don’t know, but it’s not out of line to think it COULD happen. Still, there’s no guarantee it will lead to becoming a big star.

The thing we all have to do is keep plugging and do the best we can do. It’s all a major roll of the dice, and odds are against everyone. Bob Uecker played them and won. Brian Calhoun and I are still hoping to hit our jackpot. Someone wins the lotteries, why not us?