Tag Archives: Northern Lights Theater

Strangers Wanted

Saturday December 14th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   I can’t keep up with how fast the weeks are flying by. This was my third Saturday of four total in this current run of performing “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst” at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. The calendar is on warp speed.

   There is quite simply no better facility I have ever worked, and I never get tired of performing on that stage. It’s the ideal size, and everything about the experience is as fun as it gets. The staff is friendly, and they’ve grown up in or near Milwaukee so they get exactly what I’m trying to do.

   I feel so at home because it IS my home. There’s no other place on the planet where I can have that much history to fall back on at any given time during a performance. I was born and grew up within a few miles, so I’m in my element. It’s exactly what I pictured, and it’s working perfectly.

   If I’m a draw anywhere, it’s here. People I went to grade school and high school and worked at any number of dead end hellish jobs with not only regularly come out to see me but bring friends along. It’s a venue that has been built specifically for entertainment, and where I want to be seen.

   Tonight my cousin Wendy came out and brought about a dozen people to the early show. Most if not all of those people have seen me before, and that always makes me work harder as I like to do at least a little something different that they haven’t seen. I want to make it worth their while.

   Music is completely different in that people are disappointed if they don’t hear the hits they’ve bought tickets to hear. That’s why they buy tickets in the first place. Comedy is on the other side of the coin. If people hear something they’ve heard before, they tend to feel like they’re cheated.

   I do notice that there are a core of fans for any comedy performer that love to hear the hits over and over, but that’s not the majority. Brian Regan has rabid fans that will call out specific chunks of material they want to hear – kind of like asking a band to play hit songs – and then he does it.

   I’m starting to get that too, at least a little. I have a chunk of material I’ve done for years about a waitress named “Doris the Porkasaurus” that seems to resonate with fans who enjoy what I do. I frequently have people ask me to do it, and there’s a fan named Harriett Leo that comes to see me every time I’m at Zanies Comedy Club in St. Charles, IL and brings a group along with her.

  She’s heard that bit dozens of times, but it’s her favorite and she always makes it a point to ask if I’m going to do it. I always do whenever she’s there, because that’s why she shows up. I want to give whatever fans I do have whatever they want, and she always comes back so it’s working.

   I feel the “Schlitz Happened!” fan base building, and it’s exciting. My cousin Wendy showing up is great, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support. Unfortunately, strangers are the ones I need to win over but that’s working too. I’m seeing those who have started to become regulars.

   I know in my heart there are at least a million people that would enjoy the Milwaukee flavor of this show, and I want every last one of them to come see it. There are two more chances with this run, and I hope many strangers show up. My aim is to turn them into friends. www.paysbig.com.

Schlitz keeps happening at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. www.paysbig.com

Schlitz keeps happening at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. http://www.paysbig.com

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Positive Progress

Saturday December 7th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   It was back up to Milwaukee tonight for two more performances of “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst” at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino. There were light crowds all through the casino because of nasty weather, but those who came out were great.

The early show at 7 o’clock was probably the most enthusiastic audience I’ve had so far. They were really into it, and not only laughed when they were supposed to they threw out memories of their own as the show progressed. That’s exactly what I want, and I can tell I’m on to something.

The 9 o’clock show wasn’t horrible, but they weren’t nearly as vocal and it was a much smaller turnout. That’s a challenge when it’s a one person show and I have to pull off an hour and twenty minutes by myself, but I did it without hitch or glitch. I can feel myself hitting a stride with this.

There is a very different energy required to pull off a show like this compared to what I’m used to as a traditional comedian, and I’m feeling more comfortable each time I do it. As a comedian I am used to closing shows with 45 minutes, but I talk faster than most and cram about 90 minutes or more into that time. I am high energy and ‘throw heat’, and it’s almost always very effective.

A one man show is different in that I have to ramp the audience up and be my own opening act. I can’t come out and be a raving lunatic from the start. There has to be a progression, not only of energy but of content. This show has a theme, and it’s important to deliver it in the correct order.

I’m still in the beginning stages of construction, but I can feel progress and that’s the best I can hope for. At first it was intimidating to have to be on stage that long, but now I’m starting to feel very comfortable and it’s not a problem at all. In fact, I went five minutes over on the first show.

That’s a tremendous problem to have, and I also had material left over. I’ve been closing with a chunk of material that runs maybe 7-10 minutes depending on audience reaction. I intended to do it both shows tonight, but the first crowd was so into it I was able to fill the time with ad libbing.

I needed it the second show, and it went over very well. The issue is no longer being able to do the time. Now it’s a matter of making it entertaining all the way through. That’s the same issue a comedian has, so this is nothing new. It’s a process, and I’ve been going through it for decades.

The good thing is that the audience has no idea this process even exists much less is happening before their eyes. I know I’ve got a long way to go to get this show to where I want it, but they’re oblivious and that’s a plus. They’re enjoying it as is, and I’m giving them all I’ve got right now.

If anything, they’ll come back years from now and say “I enjoyed your show before, but you’re better now.” And they’ll be right. It will be much better, but it takes a plan and hard work now to allow that to happen. I’m putting in my time to construct this just like I did with my comedy act.

I still have four more performances for this run, and I’m going to work even harder for the next two weeks so the positive progress continues. If you’re near Milwaukee, you’re invited to attend. www.schlitzhappened.com is the show’s site and Potawatomi Casino’s site is www.paysbig.com.

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