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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

The Real Work Starts Now

Tuesday July 28th, 2009 - Lake Villa, IL

   Now is when the real work starts. I’ve been struggling for years and years to build up an act that works and I’ve done that. It wasn’t easy and I’m still improving but I’ve achieved a level of competence most comics never attain. One might think that would be enough to insure a steady income and relatively bump free road after that, but one would be wrong.

   People have been absolutely fantastic in their words of congratulations but there’s not a guarantee that this will lead to anything bigger and in fact I know it won’t if I don’t make the effort myself. I was able to make this happen but I’ll be the first one to admit it took a twist of good luck to push it over the top. Luck does play a significant role in this process.

   Someone has to see me who has the power to open doors that I can’t open myself.  I did get some very positive feedback from many people and I appreciate it. David Letterman’s comedy booker is Eddie Brill, who is also a very funny comedian. Eddie sent me an email that said “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” He knows who I am now and that’s a plus.

   Frank Caliendo sent me a nice email as well. I was very happy for Frank when he got an appearance on national television and they kept coming for him after that. I was happy for him even though I know a lot of people were jealous. Not me. He’s great at what he does and I don’t do anything close to it so he’s unique. It was very nice to hear from him today.

   I know that a lot of people saw it that I don’t even know about. I need to find those who can help me and use this to make contact. Maybe someone will contact me but I won’t be sitting around waiting for that to happen. I need to take action and keep the ball rolling so I don’t waste all this hard work. A lot of comics make one TV appearance and that’s it.

   I don’t want that to be me. As great of an experience as it was I don’t want that to be my highlight in life. I have a lot more to give and this was just a starting point. I have a whole lot more material and now I’m familiar with how the process works. This was education.

   Jerry Agar called me tonight and said most of his family was out doing things and asked if I wanted to come over and hang out with him and his son Cooper who’s turning 14 this coming Friday. Cooper loves comedy and entertainment in general so I suggested that we watch Jerry Seinfeld’s movie ‘Comedian’. After all these years I still had never seen it.

   I’ve heard a lot about it and I knew the general idea but I’m SO glad I waited until now to see it. It had a whole new perspective after I made my first TV appearance and I caught a lot of things I might not have had I seen it earlier. An example is Jerry Seinfeld talking about how he felt after his Letterman set. He said it was like his first Tonight Show shot.

   He mentioned that after he got off stage he had no idea what happened and I felt exactly the same way when I finished my set. I also watched Orny Adams who I’ve met at Zanies in Vernon Hills a few years ago. He was thinking about everything else but just enjoying his national TV debut and I can totally see how that can happen. I‘m glad I didn‘t do that.


   I’m not blaming a guy like Orny. A lot of people had a lot of bad things to say about his attitude and for years I’ve heard rips about his role in the film. I’ve met a ton of guys just like him so I guess I don’t think he was so bad. I think he didn’t have his head on straight at first but in his later interview on the DVD I could see that he was starting to mature.

   This is a HARD business. Period. Life itself is difficult but not like comedy. Making an audience of strangers laugh time after time in town after town is about as tough as it gets. It takes a lot of perseverance and guts and although talent may not hurt it isn’t a priority.

   The fact is, a lot of people have some modicum of talent. I’m finding out it’s what one does with it that determines success or failure. I’ve messed up more than most but it’s my educational process that has brought me to the good place I am today. I hope I am able to stay in this wonderful mindset because if I do I’ll be able to accomplish a whole lot more.

   All this flatulence with my ex partner is not going to get me down. Why? I won’t let it. I have seen the overwhelming outpouring of positive wishes and congratulations from a ton of people from all over the world and I am going to choose to direct my attention to them.

   It was great hearing from Frank Caliendo and Eddie Brill and I’m sure I’ll keep hearing from people but the highlight of my day was hearing from Miss Roberts, the librarian that launched my career at the North Milwaukee Public Library all those years ago. She’s still very much alive much to my delight and her email put a smile on my face that I still have.

   On top of it all it was her birthday too! That made me feel great and she said she gets all kinds of people in their 30’s and 40’s who recognize her and come up and say hi. What an outstanding legacy that is to leave knowing that children’s lives were shaped for good.

   She sure did good by me and I thanked her and apologized for stealing her $5. She said she might be able to come out to Giggles in Brookfield, WI when I’m there in a couple of weeks and I really hope she does. I want to do something nice for her and get our picture together so I can put it on my website and pay tribute to her. She made a difference in life.

   The more insanity I see bouncing around the more it makes me want to be even kinder to people and grow as a person. Comedy is great and I love it but I am not a fame junkie that needs to use recognition as a drug. Was Elvis famous? Sure. How did that work out as far as solving all his problems? Michael Jackson too. They were still flawed humans.

   I’m nuttier than a squirrel turd myself and I’ve never denied it but I will say that I’m on a positive roll right now none of the bad things are touching me at all. Knowing that I’ve reconnected with Miss Roberts after so long is a thrill. I hope I can bring a smile to her.

   That’s what it’s all about. I’m not trying to sound like Sammy Davis Dr. but just taking a minute to tell someone they are appreciated is a magic self esteem builder all around. If I can do that for someone every day I feel like I‘m doing my job. This is not a time to stop doing what I‘ve been doing my whole life. It‘s a time to turn it up a notch or two. Or six.

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