It's been well over 3 months since my last blog and unless I've decided to
make updates a quarterly thing, I'm way past due for one. So grab a cup
of Joe, find a comfortable chair and I'll do the rest.
Since my last entry way back in September, I've packed up everything I
owned, or rather wanted to keep owning, threw away the rest and moved
back to my hometown of Rochester, NY. It was a surprisingly easy
decision, motivated by the simple desire to be happy again. Sappy I know,
but Los Angeles has an odd way of engulfing all aspects of normal life and
then swallowing them whole. It wasn't for me and 4 years there was more
than enough to make me realize that. So, with that in mind, I loaded up
my buggy the first week in November and headed back east. It was my
third time driving across the country in 2009 and hopefully my last.
Although you never know, I'd love to do it one more time as a vacation
The trip back was an interesting one because I set personal records for
straight hours of driving, 18, and also slept in my vehicle overnight a
couple of times, something I'd somehow avoided doing in 12 years of
touring. It's an experience I think everybody should go through once...just
Now that I'm back in Rochester I've been trying to re-evaluate my career
and have determined that I want to try and find a way off the road. I
don't want to quit going out altogether though, I just don't want to be
gone for more than a couple of weeks at a time at most. That six month
ordeal I endured this year was RIDICULOUS. I crave a more normal
existence filled with mowing lawns, walking dogs and cooking dinner rather
than having it handed to me through a window. As of this writing though
that goal has eluded me and I find myself still taking bookings. I guess the wheels of progress turn slowly, huh?
So, 2010 is a year that I'm hopeful will bring the change I desire and my
mission now is to make that happen. My goals, if you must know them,
are to make "Comics Against Cancer" and annual event here in Rochester,
NY and somehow, someway get my show, "3 Things You Never Talk About"
up and running once and for all, with Tom Simmons or without him!
Enjoy the rest of '09 and I'll see you in April for an update!
I'm sitting here in a faux "Panera Bread" in Omaha, NE with not much to do before showtime so I got to thinking, how about a blog? Guess what the answer was? Never mind, I'll tell you...it was yes!
I'm working at The Funny Bone here in the heartland of America, the second of my final 5 weeks on the road before finally heading home to Los Angeles, somewhere I haven't been since March 30. That's a total of almost 7 straight months criss-crossing this country and Canada too, about 6 months too long by my calculations. It hasn't been all work-filled though, there were quite a few off weeks, the most recent towards the end of August when my car shit the bed and was laid up with timing belt problems. That little problem relieved me of $700 plus dollars and the ability to go home during my off weeks as planned. Not a big deal, I tried to make some lemonade out of my lemons and the ones I couldn't use I threw at other people. I'm back on track now though and that's what matters.
So, I left Rochester, NY last Wednesday morning and headed for Indy, where I worked the week at Crackers Comedy Club. Then I killed a couple of days off in Chicago at my pal, Scott Derenger's place before leaving yesterday to come here. I still have Rochester, MN, San Antonio, TX and Fairview Heights, IL on the list before completing the rest of the drive across the country and arriving in the City of the Angels.
Once I get there, I have about two weeks to sell of all my belongings and point my ass back east where it belongs. If all goes to plan I should be back home the first week in November. If all doesn't go to plan I should be home sometime after that. I absolutely have to be back by 11/18 though...or is it 11/19??
So, why the desire to leave Tinseltown you may be asking? I've just had enough of being so far away from the things I truly care about and have decided that the pursuit of success in this business is no longer worth giving up everything else in life to me. I had a great summer of just being a normal person and ya know what? I kinda like it. That's not to say that I'm bailing on the ha ha completely, I just don't want to do it for 7 months at a time, know what I'm saying? Plus, I miss the change of seasons, something Southern California doesn't have, unless you count the temperature dipping 5 degrees in October, which I don't.
That about brings you up to date on the goings-on of me, the PG version at least. I'm hoping in the months to come to have lots of news on upcoming projects like the re-birth of "3 Things You Never Talk About", another "Comics Against Cancer" show and maybe even hitting the road for a few more episodes of "Odd America".
Maybe you don't have to live in NYC or LA to be a success.
I met a young lady at my show last night who insisted a write a new blog as she thought my last one was depressing. She said all I did was complain about the life of a comic and say how awful it was and thought I should pen something slightly more upbeat. With that in mind, I present to you today's blog.
I'm currently in Ottawa, Canada working the first of four straight weeks at Absolute Comedy, the very best club in our neighbor to the north. I have two weeks in Ottawa before heading east to Toronto. I always have a great time here and if Jason Laurans (the owner) could be put in charge of comedy, I wouldn't have to write blogs like the one that preceded what you're reading now. The man knows what he's doing, no doubt about that.
As much as I love it here, I am 100% ready to go home, having been away since March 30. By the time I walk through my front door in LA I'll have been gone a record 4 plus months. That's no way for a man to die. So much has happened in that time too. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and MJ took the Pasadena, I grew a beard and mustache then shaved it off AND I found the woman I believe I may want to marry one day. Crazy, right?
During this time away we also had the big "Comics Against Cancer" show in Boston, MA, and I'm very happy with how the whole thing came together. Although I have to admit there are MANY things I learned and would try to do differently if and when the next event rolls around. All the comics were great though and we had tons of laughs. Special recognition goes to Jon Fisch and his tireless effort to make things fun. My favorite being his dead-on Moody McCarthy impression. Absolutely brilliant.
So, after I finish up with my time in Canada it's back to California and, are you ready for this? Preparing for a move back east. I've given it lots and lots of thought, and have finally come to the realization that I'm just not a happy west coast guy. LA is great, the weather is perfect and there's tons to do, but I don't think it's for me. I'm headed back to Rochester to work on some new and exciting projects and add some "normal life" things to my remaining time on God's green (for now) earth.
That's all I'm going to write for now because "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is on. Stay tuned for more later!
Mornin' from room 211 of the Red Roof Inn in sun-splashed (today anyway) Livonia, MI, where internet service is currently on sale for only $7.95 per day. Fucking thieves. It's bad enough I have to stay in this piece of shit motel, but for them to add insult to injury by charging for something that most other lodging establishments give you for free is ridiculous. And don't even get me started on their table-top ironing boards. I don't even have a table IN my room to put this thing on. Anyway, I digress...
I've been re-evaluating my career lately and have come to the conclusion that things need to be changed. There's just been to much shit recently and not enough satisfaction. Mainly because of the current selection of clubs and bookers I'm working for. Not all of them, but definitely some.
I've been on the road since the first week in April and since kicking off my tour have run into shitty condos, bad comics, uninspired show atmospheres and basically people that just don't seem to want to do their jobs. Before I elaborate though I want to say that I'm very aware that I've entered the bitter years of my career, so keep a grain of salt near by as you read ;).
Here's an example of what I'm talking about, hell I might even give you two. On one of my stops over the last two months I found myself assigned to a condo that basically was one of the more miserable living situations I've encountered as a comedian. The place was in a low-rent apartment complex, complete with stained carpets, non-functioning a/c, non-functioning wireless internet with no phone line to allow me to old-school it and the beds were sunken in the middle like an old horse's back, to the point where the headboard and footboard were being pulled inward. I basically had to "demand" to be put up in a hotel which I don't like to do, but I also don't like to think I'd be better off in jail each and every time I walk into my "home" for the week. I honestly don't know what club owners are thinking when they do this to comics. I know money is tight, but don't treat us like a puppy you just brought home and think a cardboard box is all we need for shelter. If a condo is the route you're going to go, live there for a week yourself and see how comfortable you are, that's all I ask, or go visit Absolute Comedy Club's condo in Ottawa, Canada to see how it should be done, that place is a palace!
My second problem is with the booking situation in comedy and how "unknowns" are not treated with much concern. Case in point...I recently had a club owner e-mail me 10 days before my date and tell me that they were going to be closed for my week, saying that because it was the Memorial Day weekend and the weather was nice they weren't expecting much of a turn-out so why keep the doors open. I can totally accept that line of thinking, but you don't make that decision the week before I'm supposed to be there and not compensate me for it. The date had been on the books for over 8 months, I'd built other stuff around it, purchased travel (as did the middle act that week) and basically was suddenly without a paycheck with nothing more than a ho-hum attitude by my employer. When I protested I was told "you have some set of balls asking to get paid for a gig you haven't done". Now I always try to keep an open mind and see the other side of the argument, but in this case I just couldn't. There was no offer for any travel re-imbursement or other out-of-pocket expenses, just a shrug of the shoulders type attitude. And God forbid you even consider taking one of these guys to court over breach of contract, you'd be black-balled so fast your head would spin. We ended up negotiating a door deal at $5 a ticket and I lost about $600. Nice, huh?
I've been told by friends in the business, like fellow comic, Scott Derenger, that I'm high maintenance, but I just don't see it that way. I do my job 100% when I come to town and don't try to cut corners. I don't give a half effort on stage, I don't drink you out of your bar, I don't try to bang the waitstaff, at least not all the time, and I'm beyond polite and kind to all I encounter. So why should I accept anything less in return? Because I'm so thrilled to have stage time? Fuck that. I've EARNED that stage time over the last 10 years by working hard and becoming the best comic I can be. I treat this business with respect and love many aspects of it, but the bad is far out-weighing the good lately. I don't wanna keep dealing with this shit for the next 10-15 years while simultaneously banking no money, not having a family, and looking enviously upon anybody with a benefits package. So it's time for a change. How to make that happen though, that's the question.
All I know right now is that I'm about to take step one in that direction, having decided to no longer work the rooms that make me feel like shit all week, except for the 45 minutes I'm on their stage. That's a lot of lost income though so I have to figure out how to replace it. I've got a lot of ideas but the old adage "it takes money to make money" is standing in my way. The answer is out there though, I know that much. There's a reason guys like Dane Cook blow up the way they have and I need to figure out what that is. I'm relatively certain the solution is NOT here at the Red Roof Inn or a shitty condo in Mid-America. Those are stops on the journey that have to be made, but it's time for me to re-pack the car and move on.
So, from this point on, my wheels will be turning and I'll be trying to figure it all out. In the meantime, I'll be fighting cancer (Comics Against Cancer), doing my podcast show (3 Things You Never Talk About) and trying to find happiness somewhere in my luggage.
My two month adventure across America continues this week with a stop in Oklahoma City, OK, where the tornado was invented and returns many times each year to visit. It's pretty nice here today though so I don't think I'll be scratching "see a real twister" off my list of things I want to accomplish anytime soon.
It's been a pretty good week so far and I'm really enjoying the company of the two comics I'm working with, Jason Russell and Susan Freeman. Our threesome has been joined the last couple of days by one of my old Rochester buddies, Ralph Tetta. He's in the area with a few days off so he made the drive to the OKC to hang out, and it's lucky for Jason that he did. Ralphie stopped a potential merchandise theft at last night's show dead in it's tracks.
Jason and I were set up outside the showroom between shows to peddle some merchandise, when during the commotion of shaking hands and moving product, some sticky fingered girl thought she'd help herself to one of Mr. Russell's T-shirts, something neither me or the J-man noticed. Ralph however locked in on her instantly and as she made her way past him he reached out and snagged the T-shirt out of her hands, to which she quickly replied, "do you work here?". Like that would have made a difference in whether what she did was right or wrong. Ralph told her he did and she beat feet out the door. I was standing right next to him and saw the whole thing happen, but didn't know she had stolen something so I wasn't completely aware of what I was seeing. I will tell you this though, Ralph was as cool as a cucumber in busting this chick and didn't even look at her or the shirt when he grabbed it back. He just reached out and plucked it from her hands like some kind of Secret Service agent or something. It was impressive for sure.
After fighting crime, Ralphie lent me a hand later that night playing a great practical joke on Jason, who made the unfortunate mistake of testing my wit, by attempting some lame ass stunt of his own earlier in the day. To get him back I collected about five empty Red Bull cans and strung them together using some duct tape. Ralph and I then took the cans and taped them under Jason's beloved Chrysler 300, a vehicle that he drones on and on about, treating it as though it were one of his children. I could barely contain myself trying to get him out of the club at the end of the night so we could enjoy his reaction to all the noise the cans would create as they were dragged on the asphalt beneath his car. He did not disappoint.
Upon climbing in his baby and pulling out of his parking spot the clatter started. He stopped the car, then started to drive again, before hitting the brake lights another time. He finally got out of the vehicle and walked around it looking for the problem before finally seeing the cans under his right, rear tire. Steve 1, Jason 0. And I may not be done yet.
We have two more shows tonight and then one tomorrow before I head north (I think) to Wichita, KS. I've been enjoying my road trip very much and I think it's because I've got my wheels with me, which now include a GPS system AND satellite radio. Nice, huh?
I guess that's all for now. I've got laundry to fold and you should be outside getting some fresh air, not sitting in front of your computer reading my musings.