Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Hate Halloween


Who ever thought of this holiday? It's the only holiday based on fear!

Thanksgiving is about getting together and being thankful; Christmas is about good will; and Easter has a cute little bunny. But Halloween is about ghouls; goblins and death. Even when the kids ask for candy they threaten you with "Trick or Treat". Meaning either cough it up or we'll do something bad to you.

I'm shuddering just thinking about it.....

I think I feel this way because I was scared as a baby. I can remember the terror I felt as a child every Halloween night. I was the kid that was hiding in the house. I was afraid of everything. It didn't matter how a person dressed up, I was still afraid of them.

I didn't give out candy and I for sure didn't go out trick or treating. It wouldn't have mattered if they were giving out $100 bills. There was no way I was going to try to pass the gauntlet of kids in costumes.

I just want to know why anyone thinks a holiday that is based on scaring people is fun. What kind of twisted world are we living in?

So you'd think that as I grew up I would get better. That is partially true. I may not be paralyzed with fear anymore but the whole thing still gives me the creeps.

I just don't get it. How did dead people coming to life become fun? If that really happened there would be chaos in the streets. And don't even get me started on witches. If you knew someone that actually had magic powers you would not go near them you would be so afraid.

And why do some people think they should dress up to go to work. This morning when I was out on my run I saw the bus driver dressed up as a ghost. And she's picking up little elementary school kids! She shouldn't be scaring kids like that.

When I went to the bank my teller had a knife sticking out of her head with blood running down her face. My lunch was served by a waitress that had an eyeball hanging out her socket. How appetizing....

I don't like the costumes, the candy or being scared. The only thing that could make Halloween worse would be if everyone dressed up as a clown. It would be like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Clowns give me the creeps. There's nothing that will make my skin crawl faster than when I see a clown. It's like Halloween is repeating itself.

Clowns have single-handedly ruined parades for me. You know all those Shriners that dress up and go to parades? I could sure live without those.

Now I'm not saying that clowns or Halloween should be abolished. After all, there are plenty of people that enjoy them.

I think I should be able to opt out of Halloween. Maybe Icould put up a sign that says "Fright Free Zone".

And there should be some sort of universal way to tell clowns to back off and give a person some space. The gay community has the rainbow, why can't people like me have something. Maybe it could be a button that has a rubber nose on it with one of those red circles with the line across it.

If only I could live in a perfect world.....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Road to Fort Wayne


Sometimes it is straight there and straight back to get to a club for work. Other times you have to go the long way.

It ended up being the long way to Fort Wayne.

This week I was working in Fort Wayne Indiana at Snickerz Comedy Bar. I love that room and really enjoy working there. Plus my parents house is on the way. Usually I get a chance to stop by and visit my mom and dad on the way out. My dad will be 92 in February and I take every chance I can get to see him.

Unfortunately there was no stop at my parents on the way out this time. This time I had to stop in Omaha. My parents would have to wait until the way back.

I stopped in Omaha for two reasons. The Omaha Funny Bone and the Todd 'N Tyler show.

I haven't worked at the Omaha 'Bone for a couple years now and I used to be a regular there. Unfortunately for me the club changed their booking agent and I was not one of the comics he worked with. So since then, no working at the 'Bone for me.

This kind of thing happens a lot in the comedy business and you never know when. Networking is everything and your circle of friends can change faster than gay entertainers at a drag show. You appear a club and 2 months later all the key people change. You call back for your next booking only to find out that no one there will take your call because they've never heard of you. The fact that you've worked there a couple of times a year for the past 5 means nothing.

The only to get back in is to get your name in front of the right people again.

So even though I don't work for the 'Bone anymore I still need to keep a relationship with them. Just because the new booking agent doesn't feel the need to hire me doesn't mean the next one won't. The best way to keep myself in the running is to make sure they still remember me. One way is to hang out at the club, but that is not an option here. I live 10 hours away.

The good news is that I stay in touch with the manager Colleen Quinn. Every once in a while the club needs someone to fill in on an odd night. So I always call Colleen a month or so before I head through to see if they need anyone. This time they needed someone to do a show for them on the Wednesday before I was scheduled to be in Fort Wayne.

So I keep my relationship with the club, I get a FREE place to stay (the condo) on the way to Fort Wayne, and I get to make an appearance on my favorite radio show.

Definition: "Condo" - Anywhere that the club has to put the comics up that is not a hotel. It could be a house, apartment, town home or an actual condo.

The bad news is that I won't get paid for the show. But that doesn't matter to me. I'm just happy to keep a connection with the club.

Then there is the Todd 'N Tyler show. It is the number one radio show in Omaha and I am one of their friends. In fact, I have a standing invite to stop by and be on the air with them whenever I'm passing through. I love doing radio and I gel very well with the boys. I always have a good time on (and off) air with them. Even if I couldn't work the 'Bone it is always worth it to stop in and have some fun.

Even if I am paying for a room for the night.

The plan was to leave first thing Tuesday morning. As always I was held up and FINALLY left for Omaha at around noon. With the time change and all the driving I got into Omaha somewhere around 11:30pm. Not normally a problem but since the last time I was there the club had moved and they also moved the condo. So here I was at 11:30 at night cruising around an apartment complex I've never been to trying to find the right building number. All along waiting for the police to show up to ask me "what the hell are you doing"? After about 15 minutes I finally did find the right building. I also found the key to the condo right where they said it would be hidden.

Even so I'm always a little nervous when I get to a new condo for the first time this late at night. I've never been to the place before, I don't even know if I'm in the right place. What if I actually found someone else's key in some freak accident of nature and when I open the door and start going through the house someone will think I'm breaking in.

Plus you never know what you're going to find in a condo when you come in late at night "un-announced". Maybe I'll walking in on somebody jerking off, play hide the stick with a friend or walking around naked (all of which have happen).

I don't want to know that stuff.....

Fortunately for me though I'm the only one there. As I walk through I can tell it a comedy condo. It clean but is furnished sparsely. What furniture is there is mismatched, very few knick/knacks, or pictures on the wall. In each bedroom there is a bed and not much else. The kitchen has just the basics; a fridge and a microwave.

Basically it's like a badly put together model home. It looks like you could live there, but not for very long.

I will have to say though this is one of the nicest condos I have ever seen. It is in a very nice complex and is a town home with a garage underneath it. The first condo with a garage I could actually park my car in.

Bonus!

By the time I get all my stuff out the car and unpacked it's nearly 2:00AM. Another late night.

Again, usually not a problem but I need to be at the radio station by 8:30AM which means I need to get up by 6:30AM. I need time to get cleaned up and wake up. So Wednesday morning I get up early and get down to Z92 studios. I walk right in and get right on he air. I haven't seen the guys in a year but it feels like I just saw them last week. I had a great time.
So after radio was over I went down to see the club for the first time. What a beautiful room! I wish I had some pictures but I have no camera so you'll just have to take my word for it. I was also able to see the manager of the club Colleen and her assistant manager Stacy. I've been friends with both of them for a long time and I was able to catch up with them some. It was a nice visit but I couldn't stay long. They had work to do and I was just getting in the way.

The nice things about being on the road is that you have a lot of free time. I was able to spend the rest of the day hanging out at a coffee shop cruising the Internet and I even had time for a nap!

The show that night went well, it was a small crowd but we had a lot of fun. There isn't really anything to tell about it. I did learn something after the show. I learned that pineapple juice is a great chaser for cheap Tequila. The bartender taught me that one!

So by the time I got back to the condo and into bed it was nearly 12:30AM. Not bad for a regular comedy day, but not good when you have to leave by 5:00AM. I had to get to Fort Wayne Indiana by 6:00PM that next day. I had a lot of road and a time change ahead of me. Since you never know what will happen when you travel it's always good to get going early.

So since this is going long I'm going to end it now.

Coming soon Part II.....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

R.I.P. Dundee "The Wonder Mutt"


Apparently it was his time last week, he was a great dog.

Dundee hasn't been living with me for several years now, I sent him on a humanitarian mission. He has been keeping my parents company since their last dog passed away. They were lonely and I knew that Dundee would be good company for them. He was very smart and very well behaved.

Even though I've lived with dogs for most of my life I don't consider myself a dog person. When I was growing up my family always had dogs. The first ones I can remember were Candy ( a Springer Spaniel) and Yuppy (a Beagle with a Hungarian name). Both of those dogs passed away while we were on a family vacation when I was young.

Over the years there were more, even a 2nd Yuppy (Yups for short) that was a Vizsla (a Hungarian bird dog).

When I moved away at 18 I decided not to have a dog anymore. I tried a cat but the thing just hated me. His name was Herman and he went out of his way to piss and shit in my clothes. After that cat I decided no more.

When I got married my wife was dog lover so we had several dogs. A couple of Beagles and then some Shitzus.

When I divorced we had a dog named Andy and he stayed with my ex and the kids. So I was without a dog again.

At this point I should probably point out that I was never the one that spent a lot of time with the dogs that were in my family. I very rarely fed them, took them places or played with them. I didn't hate them, I was just used to having them around.

So after about a year of being single I decided to start looking for a dog. I didn't know if it was out of habit or if I was just a little lonely living by myself. I did a lot of looking on the Internet and reading about all the different kinds of dogs. I read books and studied up. In the end I decided that I wasn't going to find a dog, the dog would probably find me.

So I started going to animal shelters and looking at the dogs. There was never a dog that stood out. I saw many dogs that I thought were nice, but there was never one I wanted to take home.

After months of looking I went through the local Humane Society and saw Dundee for the first time. I don't know what it was about him that caused me to stop, but I did and he seemed like a nice dog. I didn't take him home that day but he stayed on my mind. I went back 2 more times before I decided to take him home.

I think he was about 4 months old at the time.

The kids were thrilled the first time they came over met him. I had bought a book called "Every Dog Need a Little Training" and used it to teach him how to sit, stay and use a kennel. He was very smart and picked up on everything quickly.

When I got him I had planned to take him on the road with me but he got to be too big. So I ended up having to leave him with Pam (a women that worked for me) when I left town. Dundee was smart enough to know that different houses had different rules. At my house I could leave a plate full of food on the coffee table and would never touch it, even if I left the room. At Pam's house he once took an entire meatloaf off the kitchen counter and ate it because he knew he wouldn't be in much trouble.

My place was where all the rules were and Pam's was doggie Disneyland.

Dundee ended being my buddy, my running partner (he could run up to 10 miles), company mascot and watch dog. He was the first dog I ever had that was really mine and the first one I really took care of.

It was hard for me to take him out to live with my parents but I knew it was the right thing to do. My parents were 88 and 70 at the time. They had just lost the 2nd of 2 dogs in the past 6 months. They just didn't have the energy for a puppy. I figured Dundee would be a great addition to there family and he was.

They loved him more than I probably ever did. My mom and dad both spoiled him rotten and he returned their love by being a loyal member of their family. I can't tell you how many times my parents would call me and tell me how happy they were to have Dundee with them. I never needed to hear that. I was just glad he made them happy.

So on Sunday October 15 I was able to spend the day at my parents house. I got to see Dundee and had a very nice time with my parents. He looked fine to me when I left Monday morning at 6:00AM.

Unfortunately he collapsed around 9:00AM that morning while he walking across the living room. My dad (who is now 90) fell over and hurt himself trying to help him. But there was nothing they could do. They took him to the vet and he passed away Tuesday morning.

The vet told us that he didn't suffer at all. He had some sort of stroke and felt very little pain.

I bet right now he is in heaven breaking every one of my rules......

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Two a Days


Damn I'm fat!

And I say that as I eat my lunch of a big slice of cheese pizza which I am washing down with a big bowl of corn chowder. Breakfast this morning was a chocolate brownie and some sort of pecan pastry. Some much for healthy eating.

I've been battling with my weight and self image most of my life and I'm afraid that now I have the trifecta going. Balding, fat and old.

I can't do anything about balding and being old so I decided to work on the fat part. I have to tell you it is not going well. I've ballooned up to 235 lbs (at least that's what the scale groaned out the last time I stepped on it) and that frightens me.

All my life I've thought I was heavy and the truth is I probably didn't really get that way until I was 21. By 1995 I weighted nearly 275 lbs and I was not a pretty sight. There were some real life altering things that happened that year but one of them was watching my dad go though bypass surgery. I did not want that to happen to me so I decided to do something about my weight.

Through diet and exercise I had gotten my weight down to 225 by the middle of 1996, just in time for my marriage to crumble adding more stress to my life which I didn't need. Some people reach for a bottle of beer when they get stressed. Not me, I reach for a cheeseburger.

By November of 2002 when I ran the Tulsa Marathon I weighted 197 lbs. Even so, I have managed to gain 40 lbs over the past 4 years. Did I mention I am a vegetarian and I run between 20 - 40 miles a week? I bet you thought all vegetarians were skinny.

I guess not.....

So after the big scare on the scale this week I have decided to ramp it up. I'm running 8 miles a day now; 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. I've changed my diet and am eating a lot of fruit and cutting down what I eat in the evening.

I have to say I resent doing it. I don't like having these kinds of limits in my life. I'm tried of diets and exercise. I can't wait until I'm 70. That's when I'm giving up on all the healthy crap.

I figure when I'm 70 I'll be on the downhill slide anyway so why worry about things. Have a good time! That will be my motto.

I'm going to do all the things I don't do now. I'm going to start eating meat again and I don't care how loud my colon screams. Pizza, pies, brownies and cakes? No problem, there will be enough room for everything. Soda, coffee, beer? I don't care, mix them all together. I'll drink it!

I'm pretty sure I will have a pretty good drug habit going as well. I'm thinking coke or meth. I never did them before because I heard they made you impotent but at 70 what's the difference? I'll probably be impotent anyway. So if I'm going to take a pill it's not going to be a blue one that's gives me some pleasure (if I can find a women to be with) for a couple hours. I'll be doing drugs that allow me to sit in front of the television for days.

An exercise? Forget that! I plan on never doing anything that even remotely looks or seems like exercise .I'm getting a wheelchair with a colostomy bag holder. I don't want to get out of that thing for any reason. It will be a little difficult sleeping sitting up but maybe by then they will make one that reclines.

I might even take up smoking. Not because I like it, just because it's something that's bad for you.

That right, I'm a rebel.....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Another Moron Crosses the Finish Line


Here's the thing.....

I book a comedy club. It's no big deal to me, it's just a job. My goal is to book the best comedians I can find into the club and to do so in a professional manner.

Sounds simple doesn't it?

It is most of the time, as long as the comedians I deal with are professionals. But some of the comedians out there find it very difficult to professional. Sometimes it's impossible for them. For the life of me I cannot understand why they don't get it. Comedy is a business and if you are going to be in it as a professional, you need to conduct yourself in a professional manner.

And there are a lot of people out there that call themselves comedians. They think that just because they can get a little stage time at their local club that they are a comedian. Now I don't want to sound like a snob but I will say this. Standing on a stage at a comedy club does not make you a comedian. In my opinion getting paid is what makes you a comic. I'm not talking about every once in a while either. We all do a little stage time for free. But if you are not getting paid for 90% of your stage time, I have a hard time seeing how you can really call yourself a comedian.

If you can't get paid for your work, then comedy is a hobby for you. You shouldn't call yourself a comedian. Maybe you could call yourself a comedian in training or an apprentice comedian.

You are also not a comedian when you work (get paid) less than 100 shows a year. For those of you that do not know a regular comedy week is 7 shows. To do a hundred shows you would have to work 14 weeks out of 52 in a year. That's just 26% of the year. How many other jobs out there can you work just 26% of the time and consider your self a professional? I know I came up with a pretty low number but I will use it for a baseline and I think I am being generous.

Now some will disagree with my definition and that's OK; but since this is my blog, we get to use my definition.

Back to my little story.

How can you expect to work for someone when you do not conduct yourself in a professional manner? I don't expect (nor do I want) people to kiss my ass because I book a club. I actually hate it when people try to suck up to me for work. I judge everyone on their merits. It will not help to brown nose me, that will not get you work. Talent and being professional are the only things that will get you on the stage of the club I book for.

This blog is on how to make sure you will never work at the club I book; compliments of Devin Barber.

Who is Devon Barber you ask? I really have no idea. He is just someone out there that calls himself a comic. I looked him up on the net and found no schedule for him. He has a web site that doesn't tell you much about him and as near as I can tell he's not on MySpace.

But he does have the email address for booking at my club. He felt the need to send the following email to me along with another 15 or so booking agents.

*******************************************************************
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 5:07 PM
Subject: A great joke

Saw this one on Kingsolomonstoons.com

Why are democrats sexier than republicans?

Ever heard of a great piece of elephant.

Devin
*******************************************************************

So my reply to him was a polite one. I asked to be removed from his announce list. The address he sent this to is used just for booking. I know some bookers that get almost 250 emails a day! That would never work for me, so I try to keep my mail down. So here was my reply.

*******************************************************************
To: "DEVIN BARBER"
Subject: Re: A great joke
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 09:22:33 -0600

Could you please take this address off your announce list?

Thanks
*******************************************************************

I thought my response was polite and to the point. This was the response I received

*******************************************************************
Sent: Friday, September 22, 2006 7:14 PM
Subject: Re: A great joke

You are not on my announce list or what ever that is. I just thought you'd enjoy the joke.

*******************************************************************

Here's where Devin could have made things pretty simple. A quick, OK would have sufficed. No harm, no foul. I'm just trying to keep an excessive number of emails out of my mail box. Who wouldn't?

So Devin shows that he has no idea what he's doing when he says he doesn't know what an announce list is. He should, he sent this email to around 30 people. And he's telling me he thought I would enjoy the joke.

Well I didn't think it was that funny. So I told him so and my answer was brief.....

*******************************************************************
To: "DEVIN BARBER"
Subject: Re: A great joke
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 21:44:23

Nope.....
*******************************************************************

I thought to the point and non offensive. But instead of doing the smart thing and just removing me from his little list of emails. He send this

*******************************************************************
Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2006 9:17 AM
Subject: Re: A great joke

Well, I guess your just an asshole then. Don't bother replying... I won't be opening it... asshole.
*******************************************************************

So I'm an asshole? Why? Because I didn't thing the joke was funny? Some Internet joke that has been passed around forever and this guy just found it and thinks it's a stoke of genius?

Please.....


So since Devin is not going to read my private email to him I suppose he has left me no other choice. I will have to answer his email in a public forum. On my blog. So here goes.....

To: "DEVIN BARBER"
Subject: Re: A great joke

Dear Mr. Barber,

I just wanted to apologize.

I'm very sorry.

I had no idea who I was dealing with. Had I known you were an all knowing comedy genius I would have never have asked to be removed from your mailing list. I could obviously learn from you.

How could I have been so stupid......

I took the time to look you up on the net and found your web site; devanbarber.com.

I wish I would have known all this before I challenged your comedy knowledge by asking to be removed from your list. After reading what was on your web site I now understand why you are in a position to tell me what is funny.

I didn't know that you have been doing comedy since February of 2004. How can I compare that to my start in September of 1992? You have obviously amassed quite a bit of knowledge in those 2 1/2 years. I wish I could have put my 15 years to as good a use.

And I had no idea that you have over 200 shows "under your belt" (that's what you said on your web site). It took me all of last year to do 200 shows. Now I will admit I was just headlining clubs all over the country. I had no idea that your 200 shows over the past 2 1/2 years were at open mics and bars throughout the Northwest.

This past Saturday night I was headlining at Laffs Comedy Cafe' in Tuscon, one of the finest comedy rooms in the country. Where were you performing? Your schedule is not online. Maybe you were at the lounge at Eastmont Lanes Bowling Alley in Wenatchee Washington? I am surely not on as fine a stage as you.

With your depth of experience it should have been obvious to me that you really do have a better idea of what is funny than I do. If you say an Internet joke is funny then it is and I have no place to say otherwise.

So I hope you will accept this, my most sincere of apologies and will keep me on your mailing list. I promise I won't send you any email. I understand that I have not earned the right to expect someone like you to read anything I've written.

I just hope you'll be kind enough to send another lame Internet joke my way. After all this stress I could sure use the laugh and we all know, you know what is funny.

Your new best buddy (I hope)

Vilmos