Posts Tagged ‘You Tube’

Dirty Diapers

July 28, 2014

Wednesday July 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I want to talk more about the whole game of getting on television. Ultimately, it’s what makes or breaks a true career in the entertainment business and everyone that succeeds needs to master it and find their outlet. Some may have a different platform than others, but television is the key.

It used to be that once a comedian – and I’m sure singers, dancers, magicians, ventriloquists as well – got on a big show like Ed Sullivan or Johnny Carson, they were as good as set. They’d get all the agents that were anyone fighting over them, and usually end up with a guaranteed income.

There were a few that flamed out, but for the most part those shows were the showcase for the very best of the best in any field of entertainment. If one was lucky enough to get on a show like that, literally MILLIONS would see them in one shot. It’s not like that anymore, and never will be. The days of the world wide mega star entertainer are over thanks to one reason – the internet.

There will be a few that slip through, but it won’t be like it was. Everybody in society had seen Bob Hope when he was popular, but not everybody has seen Justin Timberlake or Beyonce. The fan bases of those people tend to be in their own generation, and it’s not necessarily a negative.

It sure allows for more specialized serving of one’s audience, and also gives more entertainers a taste of the enormous success that used to be reserved for only the elite marquee names like an Elvis or Frank Sinatra before him. The Beatles were huge too, as was Michael Jackson. Now we have a ton of acts carving out their own smaller empires, with most of the world oblivious to it.

Getting on television is still important, but not nearly as important as knowing how to manage the internet. The game has changed completely now in that schmuckos like me and everyone else with a computer can technically throw our hats in the ring and start making our own appearances on “television”. It’s not network television, but the possibility does exist for it to be seen all over.

I’m not just talking national television, I’m talking WORLD WIDE. “Going viral” is possible, even though it’s not likely just like buying a lottery ticket doesn’t make you likely to win. What it does is gives one a chance to win, and today’s entertainer needs to come up with a battle plan.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen made over and over is people putting things out there too soon. I hear the newbies talking about how they have six videos and four CDs and “did an hour” at some toilet club somewhere that was recorded and is now a “one hour special”. I hear this constantly.

The trick is to make a special truly special. Years of hard work and polish can’t be avoided if a comedian or any other act wants to break through the crowd. These are things nobody gets told at the beginning, and it’s wrongly assumed everything they do needs to be recorded and thrown out there for the universe to see. I equate this with dirty diapers. Should those be displayed openly?

Of course not. They should be changed in private and thrown out. Eventually the baby will not need to wear one anymore, and it’s a non issue. The same is true for entertainers. Don’t show us your dirty diapers on You Tube or anywhere else. It’s a whole new game, and I need to master it like everyone else. It’s a good thing I have a lifetime of experience. I am really going to need it.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every bad set they do needs to be on You Tube. WRONG.

Dirty diapers are NOT for public display. Too many newbie comedians seem to think every brutal set they do needs to be on You Tube.

Advertisements

Cyber Slavery

October 4, 2013

Wednesday October 2nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I would really like to know who if anyone is able to hover anywhere even close to current with everything that’s going on in life these days. Show me even one example, and I’ll shut my mouth and admit the fault lies within me. But as it appears now, it’s nobody’s fault. We’re all swamped.

Life is getting way too complex for my tastes, but there doesn’t seem to be any relief coming in the near future. The internet was the best thing that has happened to human communication since the printing press, but also the worst. We are now chained to it and are a society of cyber slaves.

Just as one new doo dad is able to be figured out, three more pop up and it’s maddening. I can’t come close to getting it under control, and I feel helpless and overwhelmed. I used to laugh at my grandparents for their lack of getting hip to “high tech” items like calculators and cassette tapes.

I can’t imagine what they’d be like today. Gramps tried to stay with his times, and was as good at it as anyone I knew of. He was constantly trying to stay well read and informed, but he worked at it throughout his life. He was always going to the library, watching TV news and checking out the latest trends whenever he could. He’d read newspapers all the way through every single day.

That adds up over years, and he could carry on intelligent conversation with just about anyone he would meet because he was prepared. Who can do that now? With the depth of knowledge to acquire on so many subjects, there just isn’t time to do it all. Something somewhere gets left out.

Fantasy football is a great example. Gramps was a big football fan, but I can’t picture him with enough time to do the research it takes to know all the players that deeply to be able to wheel and deal every week trying to outsmart an opponent. It becomes a full time job to learn it that deeply.

And if one does, everything else gets ignored. There’s no choice. There are only 24 hours in all of our days, and we can only put so much effort into so many topics. Then it becomes a decision of wanting to know a little about a lot of things or a lot about a little. Nobody can manage it all.

Then there was my grandmother who chose not to evolve at all. She never drove a car, rode on an airplane or even listened to FM radio. Her favorite polka show and Paul Harvey were on AM. She didn’t need anything else and didn’t want it. She had her black and white TV and enjoyed it.

Today I find myself somewhere between Gramps and Grandma, but I can’t say exactly where. I try to keep up with as much as I can, but my point of need for more was reached long time ago. Myspace was good enough for me, but that faded away and Facebook became the new standard.

That was fine too, but then Twitter showed up. Then LinkedIn. Now I’m getting notices for all kinds of things I haven’t heard of, and they tell me I have ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ I don’t know. Those I do know I can call on the phone or email. I don’t need to be in another online cyber cult.

Emails, voicemails, tweets and calls keep me busy enough. What about actual face to face time with real humans? Who has time for that? We’re all too busy drowning in our sea of cyber clutter and it’s past the point of being out of hand. Podcasts? You Tube? What’s next? I’m afraid to ask.

The 21st Century slave master to us all.

The 21st Century slave master to us all.

Betting On Uranus

August 24, 2013

Friday August 23rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   “It is impossible to win the great prizes in life without running risks.” – Theodore Roosevelt

   This is not only an inspirational greeting card quote – it has become the virtual blueprint for my life. After too many snake eyed rolls of life’s dice to count, it’s high time for at least one of them to hit the jackpot. I’m beginning to get carpal tunnel syndrome from rolling those dice so much.

   Today I did it again, but I feel great about my chances to win. There are two people I know that are starting a comedy content based website, and are looking to launch next month. They came to me recently and asked if I’d like to be a part of it. I said yes, and today we started the adventure.

   I can’t say who it is or give any details just yet other than it’s a project I feel is timed perfectly for the circumstances of today. They’re putting together original talent and ideas that haven’t had exposure anywhere else, and their chances of something hitting is excellent. It’s a smart gamble.

   The old way was to hope to get seen in a comedy club, and be asked to appear on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. He was it. David Letterman came along in the ‘80s, but before that it was Carson and a few other lower tier shows like Merv Grifin, Dinah Shore and Mike Douglas.

   There was also “An Evening at the Improv” on A & E, but that came along later too. For a long time, comedians moved to L.A. hoping to get a Tonight Show shot. That was the big prize, but as with most any entertainment genre the chance of getting that one slot was beyond astronomical.

   It’s a completely different ball game now, even though the objective remains the same. An act needs to get in front of as large of an audience as humanly possible in order to become known by name, thereby in theory creating a draw when they appear live. That’s the basic success formula.

   Network television shows have become diluted, and that’s not necessarily the way to do it right now. They don’t hurt, but how much do they help? I did a successful Craig Ferguson shot, but it didn’t put me over the top in one appearance. Nothing does. It takes a consistent plan to attain it.

   If someone can cultivate a steady following on the internet, that can lead to a totally legitimate fan base. There’s a whole subculture of people gaining followings maybe not in the millions, but enough to put butts in seats in places or sell them some trinkets. Jenna Marbles is such a person.

   She does her own You Tube videos, and gets a staggering number of hits – sometimes over one million or more. Wow! I’d be thrilled to get 100,000 paying fans who buy a DVD or t-shirt every year. The potential is right there, now I have to make it happen. I began work today as I recorded a video rant in character as the King of Uranus. I see clearly what needs to be done to develop it.

   I did a daily rant called ‘The Sixty Second Soapbox’ on a few radio morning shows I was part of. It’s a bit that got a lot of attention, and I loved doing it. It’s short but effective, and it’s perfect for the internet world of ultra short attention span. I’m going to rework a lot of those old soapbox rants and the site will be my showcase. This is the perfect idea at the perfect time. I’m pumped!

His Royal Weirdness - The King of Uranus!

His Royal Weirdness – The King of Uranus!

Approaching Anarchy

August 7, 2013

Monday August 5th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Is anyone able to fully keep up with how quickly the whole world is changing? I gave up years ago, and have all I can do trying to squeak through another day. There used to be at least a bit of order in the way life worked, but now it’s completely out of control. Anarchy is the new reality.

   How does anyone raising kids know what to tell them about their future? The world today isn’t even close to the world of even twenty years ago, and I shudder to think what’s in store in twenty more. My generation is going to be the official last of the old farts, as we remember how it was.

   It’s hard to say what generation is better or worse, but nobody can deny it’s radically different today than it’s ever been. Progress has been happening at an unbelievable pace for what – maybe 150 years? Before that, most of society crapped in the woods and had to shoot their own food.

   Then the wheels of progress started turning, and life got consistently better. It’s a lot like gears in a transmission. We’re now in passing gear and flying down the freeway so fast we’re burying the needle and have no idea how fast we’re going. It may be a thrill ride, but it’s also dangerous.

   I look at standup comedy as an example, as that’s what I know. It’s not the same game as when I started, and those starting out today have a completely different set of obstacles to overcome. In my day, at least it was possible to make a living as one came up the ladder and learned the craft.

   There was plenty of quality work in comedy clubs across North America, and at least there was somewhat of a route to take to rise up the ranks. The rough model was to work up to the position of comedy club headliner, and then hope for a TV spot on a network talk show like Letterman or Carson.  After that it was hopefully an HBO or Showtime special, and then hopefully a sitcom.

   Very few actually attained all those things, but enough did to keep the dream alive for all of us grunts slugging it out in the trenches. Tim Allen was one, as was Roseanne. There was also Paul Reiser, Drew Carey and eventually Jerry Seinfeld. All kinds of road comedians I knew received development deals with networks paying them big money to use as guinea pigs for new shows.

   It’s nothing like that today. That little thing called the internet has revolutionized the planet on every level, and I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I do know it’s not going anywhere, so there has to be a new plan of attack not only for newbies but for seasoned veterans like me still out there.

   Tonight I hosted the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago. There was a very solid lineup of young talent trying to break through, but to what? Comedy club work? Good luck with that at $4 a gallon gas prices and ten times as many bad comedians trolling for a shrinking work base.

   The ‘circuit’ that most people who aren’t comedians assume exists keeps getting smaller every year, and it’s harder for even experienced headliners like me to bring in work every week. It used to be somewhat attainable for a lot more than it is now. I don’t know how anyone does it today.

   You Tube is another death knell for the comedy business. Why should anyone come to see live comedy when they can see every standup comic that ever lived on their computer – and not have to pay one cent in cover charges or drink minimums? That’s a serious question, and I haven’t the slightest idea of what the answer is. It’s not ever going to be like it was, so I better adapt with the times or start working in a coal mine. The times, they are a changin’ – but way too fast. It’s scary.

Me And You Tube

July 17, 2013

Monday July 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The advent of You Tube is simultaneously the all time greatest and absolute worst thing to ever happen to the entertainment business. I’m torn right down the middle, as on one hand I have used it often to obtain immense pleasure and information but on the other it’s destroying my business.

   If someone can sit comfortably in their underwear with a dirt cheap pizza in the privacy of their own trailer, hovel or igloo and watch every standup comic living or dead that has ever stepped on a stage – FOR FREE – how can I expect them to show up at one of my shows and buy a ticket?

   It’s pretty much an open and shut case for most people – especially since I’m on You Tube too. If anyone really wants to see me, they can dial me up online and see several of my videos shot in cities around North America. They can see most if not all my national and regional TV spots too.

   I know that’s no comparison to seeing a live show of almost any kind, but not everyone agrees. They’re fine with perusing as many acts as they can take in, and not having to leave home or pay out any cover charge or inflated drink and food prices. It’s the best entertainment deal in history.

   Personally, I love it and can’t get enough. I’m to the point of zero need for any kind of regular or cable television whatsoever. I will often wander in from a gig at midnight or close to it, and before I know it the sun is up and I’m nodding out at the keyboard. There’s a lot to see.

   Some of my favorite places to lose myself are vintage Parliament/Funkadelic concerts I haven’t seen, along with old school professional wrestling clips and interviews. I have my favorites of all time like Superstar Billy Graham, Bobby Heenan, Super Destroyer Mark II and many others that I can enjoy for hours at my leisure – and I do. It’s like I’m in charge of a giant electronic toy box.

   Depending on what my mood is, I’ll immerse myself in anything and everything from standup comedy clips of anyone from my friends to past masters to people I’ve worked with that are not living anymore. It’s fascinating, educational and never boring because I choose what I’ll watch.

   That’s a lot of economic horsepower to put in the hands of the public, and I’m not sure most of them realize it. They vote with their wallets, and if enough opt to stay at home times are going to get much tougher for live entertainers than they already are. We soon won’t be able to compete.

   All I can do is what I do, and it’s not going to go away any time soon. There will always be the core of those who enjoy and support live entertainment, but that number is going to take a major hit as time passes – at least in my opinion. Who needs to go out when everything is there online?

   I’m sure this same topic has popped up more than once with network TV people, and there are a lot of them justifiably worried about their jobs. Radio is the same. With podcasts diluting their product, they don’t have the customer numbers they once did either. It’s changing for everyone.

   I wish I knew what to do to position myself in a good spot to be ahead of the game, but I don’t. I’m more than a little concerned, but I’m not the only one. It’s adapt or die, and it’s happening at lightning speed. There’s no manual to follow as to how to succeed. It’s the Wild West all over.

   There needs to be a supply of stages live entertainers can practice the craft they’ve chosen, but if they can’t make a living the craft will eventually die. You Tube is great in many ways, but it’s a monster as far as eating material and nurturing new performers. Like it or not, it’s here to stay.

Cruel Irony

May 30, 2013

Tuesday May 28th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   One of the most difficult positions I can think of to attain in all of the entertainment business is becoming a legitimate show closer in comedy clubs. The professional term that usually gets used is a “headliner”, but to me that implies that the act has some kind of marquee appeal or is a draw.

   There are scant few acts that can draw on name alone, and those that can usually opt for bigger venues than a comedy club. That leaves an entire subculture of acts most of the public could not pick out of a police lineup that travel from club to club each week making a living getting laughs from audiences who have no idea who they are before they step on a stage. That’s a tough order.

   I’m one of those acts. It’s taken a lifetime of paying serious dues to get there, but I have pulled it off. Even my worst detractors have to admit that I am a strong act, and when everything else is going wrong there’s a high degree of satisfaction that comes with knowing I’ve earned my status.

   Comedy club headliners are the Navy Seals of show business. The only way to get that status is to EARN it, and those that earn it rarely are paid what they’re worth. I don’t know how much the Navy Seals get paid, but I have to believe for what they do with the risk involved it isn’t enough.

   I think the same is true for comedy club headliners. We’re the ones who bring home the bacon week after week for the comedy club owners who seldom appreciate it. We have to be consistent enough to not only follow an array of questionable opening acts, but maintain a high proficiency level for an extra long period of time. It’s a job not for the squeamish, and not all can handle it.

   The average length of a headlining comedy club set is 45 minutes. Sometimes it can be longer – up to an hour, or even more – but rarely is it shorter. I challenge anyone who thinks they’re the least bit funny to get on a stage and entertain a room full of strangers who have been consuming alcoholic beverages en masse for even five minutes and see how tough that is. It’s no cakewalk.

   Then add on to that quite often the level of opening acts to fill the time before is often bogged down with less than competent wannabes who all think they should have been booked to be the headliner. They’re gunning for the position (and ever so slight extra pay that goes with it) but are rarely respectful of how difficult it is to have to be a level higher and be able to follow everyone.

   Closing one show under those circumstances is a feat in itself. Closing them night after night is downright miraculous – but that’s the job description. A strong headliner should be able to follow most anything, and still bring solid laughs for the entire time they’re on stage. That’s what we do night after night – at least the good ones. It’s hard as hell, but after a while we get into a groove.

   I have been a solid show closer for many years now, and sometimes I forget just how much of a sacrifice it was to get there. It’s an unbelievably rough process, but since I started that’s all I’ve ever wanted to become. Now I’m here, and I realize that nobody cares but me and the others that have paid the enormous price to obtain this elite status. We know how much it cost, but that’s it.

   The public really doesn’t know or care how tough it was. They want to come to a comedy club to laugh – or at least they did. Now the trend seems to be they’re wanting to see someone famous on any level. If someone has a two minute video on You Tube that goes viral, comedy clubs will book them to “headline” hoping they’ll put butts in seats. They might, but they can’t pull off the difficult task of closing a show. I can, but nobody knows who I am. Life can have a cruel irony.