Posts Tagged ‘worst case scenario’

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.

Worst Case Scenario

March 20, 2013

Monday March 18th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI/Waukegan, IL

   My shredded tire situation is back to at least functional if not normal. I hesitate to use the word “normal”, as I don’t think anything in my life has ever been that. I’m always the asterisk with the exception like “void where prohibited” and “subject to change without notice.” Well, I noticed.

I know I’m not the first person to ever have a flat tire, but having it blow out on a Sunday when nothing is open is that glitch that makes it just a little bit harder. Why couldn’t it happen in front of a Walmart that’s having a tire sale at high noon on a sunny payday? It could, but it never does.

It’s always the worst case scenario, with a wrinkle on top of that. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that’s how it is. It’s very funny…when it’s someone else’s problem. I personally have had my fill. Things like this have happened so often they don’t even faze me anymore. I’m calloused.

I finished my radio show in Kenosha, WI last night at midnight, and then had to deal with all of this whether I wanted to or not. My car was in Waukegan, and that’s about 10 miles away. That’s a significant hike anytime, but especially at midnight when the temperature is in the single digits.

My options were slim at that time of night, so what could I do? I suppose I could have called a cab, but Kenosha isn’t a cab town like Chicago is and it would have cost more money out of my pocket I don’t have. I also could have slept on the couch at the radio station and hoped to catch a ride from someone in the morning, but I didn’t want to do that either. I would feel like a vagrant.

Lucky for me, my friend Lou Rugani happened to stop by the station to work on something for his own show. Lou is one of my favorite people, and a major talent. He’s got one of the absolute best radio voices I’ve ever heard, and could work on any station in America. He’s from Kenosha, so that’s why he works at WLIP. I get that, but the station is lucky to have him. He’s got game.

Lou is also a car guy, and has several antique and collector cars. He knows what it’s like to be marooned with car trouble, so he gladly took me to Waukegan but first we sat at a truck stop for a while and enjoyed some of the best cream of mushroom soup either one of us have ever had.

Moments like that are surreal. I’m sitting with Lou Rugani at 2am eating cream of mushroom soup at a truck stop in Russell, IL. And it was fun. I sure didn’t expect to be doing it, but as long as I had to kill time anyway it was a pleasant experience. Lou dropped me off in Waukegan right next to where my car was at a Motel 6. I’m broke, but sleeping in my car would have been hell.

I popped for a room, and it was $49.99 plus tax. What? At Motel 6? That has to be the highest priced Motel 6 in America. Is March the height of tourist season in Waukegan or something? Do vacationers from all over come to watch the gangs shoot each other? I had no choice but to pay.

Then it took most of the morning to get my tire fixed. They didn’t have my size in stock – of course – and they called all over looking for one. I ended up having to drive another mile on the shredded donut to a junkyard up the street, but I got my used tire for $28. Life can continue now.