Old Friends, New Friends
Thursday August 13th, 2009 - Brookfield, WI
Today was a test of my patience, but I think I passed. I don’t think it was an A+ but that doesn’t matter. What’s important is I didn’t flunk. I’m not perfect yet but at least I can see improvement. There was a time I wouldn’t have been able to keep it cool like I did today.
Two really good things happened so I’ll focus on those. First, I met for lunch with Tom ‘Sky’ Skibosh who was the P.R. director for the Milwaukee Brewers for 19 years. I heard his name around for years and always heard he was a good guy. I heard right. He now is a speaker and offered to share some hints and tips if I wanted to hear them. Of course I did.
It never hurts to network with a good soul, especially when it’s one who is in a position to exchange leads for work. He is a very funny guy naturally and although he doesn’t call himself a comedian he still makes people laugh. I know I can do it too and the only thing different are the venues and booking methods. The actual presentation process is similar.
There’s no real secret. Here’s a microphone. There’s the audience. Make them laugh. In theory it’s the same thing but in the speaking business the money is significantly higher. I have talked to my friend Todd Hunt many times about it and he said the real difference is how the gigs are booked. Comedy has a circuit of clubs and venues. Speaking does not.
Speakers have to be WAY better at marketing than comedians because they have to sell themselves to someone who usually isn’t at all familiar with the entertainment business. It usually falls in the hands of some elected committee member who will be gone next year.
That represents a whole new set of problems but when a gig does get booked the money is usually pretty good to make up for it. Sky was very helpful and fun to hang with. I love sports and he gave me a copy of his book which is packed with stories of his Brewer days.
I grew up watching those teams so the stories have an extra special meaning to me. He’s a great story teller and I can see why the guy gets work. He’s a natural entertainer and has an engaging style. His website is www.skyspeaks.com in case you ever need a speaker.
Sky said the speaking business is taking a hit just like comedy is and those who used to make huge money are not nearly as booked as they’re used to. That’s just how it is at this time and I know I’m not the only one that’s feeling the pinch. We’re all having to scrimp.
After lunch I was going to make the rounds and visit some friends but I noticed that my front end on my car was really starting to make a nasty noise. I found a car place near my cousin Brett’s house and took it there to have them tell me how much of a hit I’d have to take. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap and I was right. Full rectal insertion: $755.67. YIKES!
I’ve never actually found out what a ‘yike’ is but I sure was not expecting a bill like that today. They tried to tell me what it was but all I heard was “Blah blah blah blah $755.67.” Does it really matter after that? It was some front end bearing and it was ‘disintegrated’.
It took them the rest of the afternoon to fix it and they initially promised it to be done at 5:30. I knew I needed to get it done because I really need a car. This one has to last me for at least six months at this point so I can make my money back. Hopefully I won’t wreck it like that last nice Toyota Camry I had last year. I still wish I had that one. What a peach.
This one is pretty decent too but now I’ve got an investment I need to protect. The place couldn’t get whatever part they needed and I ended up getting out of there at 6:25. I had a hard time holding my tongue without really letting the owner have it because not only did his minion have the personality of a doorknob, he made fun of the fact it cost so much.
I don’t need any jokes stuck in my face by a punk kid and I wanted to take a wrench and loosen his ball joints but I shut my mouth and lowered my voice to ask when I could have the car back. Personal attacks wouldn’t have made it any better or cheaper so I kept quiet.
The owner tried to explain how he couldn’t get the part and I told him I didn’t care a bit about that and I didn’t. His guy told me 5:30. Period. Now it was almost an hour late. The show at Giggles starts at 7:15 so now I have to fight traffic for the Wisconsin State Fair as the garage was just a few blocks away. I was under high stress and trying to remain calm.
I had heard from my librarian friend Miss Roberts that she was coming out to the show tonight and I had to stop and buy her flowers. I’ve waited over 30 years to see her and she would have to come out on the night I was under so much stress. I got the flowers and got to the club and there were about 30 people. My heart sank. Welcome home, Mr. Lucky!
My friend Steve Purcell drove in from Madison to hang out and that was extremely nice of him to do that. My other friend Don Schmitt and his wife Marie came out as well along with Donna Gurda who booked the Tom Green Elvis shows I’ve done for so many years.
Those are all some of the very nicest people I know and I didn’t want to bring them into my world of torture so I tried my best to strap on the game face and do the show. I wanted so to make Miss Roberts feel special and during the show I mentioned that she was in the audience and told the story of how she booked me for my first show all those years ago.
The audience applauded and Miss Roberts came up to get her flowers but she wouldn’t take the $5 I offered to pay back to her because I was so horrible at that show. The crowd laughed hard at it and it was one of the most wonderful feelings I’ve ever had in my life.
The look on her face was magic and we talked afterward and what a dynamic lady she is even now. She was at the Brewer game today with an ex librarian friend of hers and both of them were amazingly complimentary. We took pictures and I thanked her again for her kindness and $5 that went so far after all these years. Moments like that don’t come often.
My car problems will return as they always do. I’ll get them fixed as I always do. That’s something I’m used to by now. What I’m not used to is being able to thank the kind souls in my life like Miss Roberts or welcome new friends like Sky. That has to be my focus.