Monday August 4th, 2008 - Chicago, IL
I never get sick of meeting my heroes - especially when it goes well. Everyone has their own individual list of people they admire for whatever reason and I would think that most of us never get to meet them in person. My list may be a little off the beaten path but I am no less in awe of them because they mean something to me and that’s all I care about.
Millions of teenage girls would faint if they met Miley Cyrus (and probably a few boys) but that would do nothing for me. Madonna or P. Diddy or J. Lo or Brad Pitt or probably 99.999% of the A-list couldn’t get me to cross a street to see in person. I just don’t care.
My heroes are mine for a reason. Anyone who knows me knows I have a ’big three’ of who I always wanted to meet and I’ve met two so far. Rodney Dangerfield was a big star but I admired him for his skills and also for what he overcame. Shaking his hand was one of the biggest thrills of my life and it got even better when we got to connect for a while.
The same thing with George Clinton. He’s probably not as big a star in the mainstream as Rodney was but he never tried to be. George has a rabid fan base and those hip enough to know who he is put him in the stratosphere and I’m one of them. He’s totally amazing and meeting him was nothing but positive as well. Those are two of my personal trifecta.
Bob Uecker would be my third. I never pursued it but I could have probably done it by now. I never want to bother anyone and I try to respect someone’s privacy but now that I think about it I should pursue a meeting with Bob. I just want to shake his hand and have a moment to tell him how much I admire him because I do. He’s just one of my favorites.
Rodney’s style and jokes push all my buttons as do George’s songs. Bob Uecker is my favorite baseball announcer and he’s also a super talented comic mind as well. Everything he does makes me laugh and he’s from my home town of Milwaukee too. I know a lot of people who know him and I don’t think it would be an imposition to ask for a tiny favor.
Drew Olson used to cover the Brewers for years and he always told me any time I want he would make it happen for me. I also know Jim Powell who is Bob’s broadcast partner. Jim is an excellent broadcaster in his own right and also a great guy. He’d help me too. If I would ask both of those guys I bet we could set something up that wouldn’t bother Bob.
The whole celebrity thing can be very draining. I’ve seen people get bothered and I sure don’t want to be one of those idiots who drool and slobber all over someone but I know if someone comes up to me and coherently tells me they like what I do it always feels good.
I have a big list of other people I admire besides my ‘big three’ and I’ve gotten to meet a bunch of them too. George Carlin was amazing. Jerry Seinfeld was laid back and nice. Jay Leno was too. Having lunch with Nick Bockwinkel was off the charts and even those that didn’t go so well were still a treat. Bobby Heenan was in a bad mood and that was an uncomfortable few minutes but at least I met him and got to tell him I admired his work.
Maybe those names don’t mean much in the scheme of the world but to me they are the ones that had a major influence on me. I know there are people more famous and I would be polite if I met them in person but it wouldn’t be a thrill for me like it was with Rodney or George or Nick or my personal faves. I don’t know what it is but those are the biggies.
John ‘Records’ Landecker is one of the legendary Chicago radio personalities and that’s no small accomplishment in a town that’s known for big time radio. I have listened to his show in one form or another for many years and today I got a chance to work with him on the air. That would be like getting a chance to play on the same field as a Hall of Famer.
My producer at the Loop and writing partner Rick Kaempfer was John’s producer too. I got to meet John at the Loop for just a brief minute and it was a thrill when I did. He was just passing through and said hi to Rick and I got to meet him too. That would have been enough but there was an opening on Jerry’s Kidders today and Jerry asked John to sit in.
John is very funny and he showed up prepared with a parody song and everything. This was one of our better shows and getting to hang in the same studio and riff on the air with John Landecker felt like I had died and gone to radio heaven. We had a lot of fun and the time flew by even faster than it usually does. Before I knew it it was over but what a blast.
He couldn’t have been any nicer and I could tell he really had fun with us. After we got off the air he said ‘Do you know what that was? THAT was a major morning show and it should be paying us all a lot of money to do what we just did in there.’ I could not agree any more. Now we just have to find someone who has the money to pay us to agree also.
It was very validating to hear John say that and although I was humbled to get to be in a studio with him I didn’t feel intimidated at all. I know I can bring it on the air and doing it in a big market for big money would put an end to a lot of my financial woes. John has an awesome track record but he has gotten fired too just like most radio people. It’s brutal.
I’m not putting my faith in any of that but to sit for a half an hour and be on the radio in Chicago on WLS no less and riff funny lines with John Landecker was truly a major treat I’ll never forget. It might not mean anything to anyone else but to me it was pure heaven.
It became a long day because as soon as I got off the train and walked home I showered up and got in the car and came right back to the city to teach a class at Zanies at 6pm with Bill Gorgo. It’s coming up on fall already and I’m going to start up classes again if I can.
Bill will teach the beginner session only because I’ve done it so much and he’s closer to the city than I am. He’s a great teacher and I trust him to do the job and if I am ever going to make money with this I’ll have to delegate and duplicate so this was the way to begin.
The class was fun as it always is and the rising star showcase tonight was tremendous. It was a small audience because of a bad storm but they were there to laugh and I’ll take any audience that wants to laugh no matter what the size. This was a day of totally fun things.