A Golden Schauer
Friday October 1st, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI/Hartford, WI
It only took twenty-five years of hard work and flop sweat, but I finally lived to see my dream come true of being a big star in Milwaukee. I’ve had some other fantastic moments in the last few years, but today as a whole was right up there with any one I’ve ever had.
First, it was up early to be on ‘The Morning Blend’ TV show on Channel 4. That was a blast, as the hosts really did a fantastic job of doing their homework and asking intelligent questions. I’ve been on a lot of local TV in my life, and often the hosts are just eye candy.
Not today. They were two ladies named Tiffany Ogle and Molly Fay, and yes they were quite nice to look at, but they were both real people and made the whole experience worth getting up so early. As soon as I got off the air my phone started ringing with friends who had seen me and said it came off very well. I knew if they’d seen it, strangers did as well.
That’s the kind of exposure local comics never got when I started. It felt great to have a spot on a legitimate TV show, rather than appear on some horrific cable access debacle at 3am, six weeks before the show I was trying to promote. This was a day of the show spot on a prime channel at a good time. I was the first guest and had a nice chunk of air time.
After that, it was off to be on the air with ‘The D List’ on ESPN Radio 540 with my old friends Drew Olson and Dan Needles. That’s like hanging out on my couch, and it’s great fun to be able to stop in whenever I want. They give me walk on status, and I appreciate it very much so I don’t abuse it. If I have something to promote, I try not to beat it to death.
Everyone at the station treats me like a king, and who wouldn’t enjoy being around that kind of vibe? I love Drew and Dan, but Steve “The Homer” True always pops in to shoot the breeze for a bit and the producer Matt ‘Fish’ Salmon has clips of my past appearances cued up to play at will. Even the owner Craig Karmazin pops in to smile and say hello.
How many radio stations have I worked at that treat me like that? Let me count. ZERO. It’s a lot more fun to be an honored guest at a place that likes me than an employee at one that fires me without notice. I get to experience the good part of radio and not have to get nervous every time my phone rings. I know people listen and my time was worthwhile.
After the show I drove back to Illinois to put in my order for some ‘Schlitz Happened!’ t-shirts. I could have sold some in my previous trial runs, and I know I’ll eventually need them in the future if this thing even slightly takes off. It’s smart marketing and a business investment, and I want to have some ASAP. I won’t have them for tonight, but that’s ok.
Everything just felt right today. I loved being on radio and TV, and it wasn’t the scraps time slot on either show like I’ve had in other places. Bob and Tom physically threw me out of their studio, and I still don’t know exactly why. That’s their loss. I don’t care about being on the air in Wankerville or Tuscaloosa. I do care about being on in my home town. I never was able to crack that nut for years, but now I have and I enjoy every second of it.
I have to admit I was a little unsure as I drove to Hartford for the show. It started to rain as I got into Milwaukee and I hoped it wouldn’t affect the turnout. It made me arrive later than I wanted, and it was close to show time when I pulled into the parking lot. I did see a nice amount of cars, but I’ve learned from past experience they could be for other events.
I felt myself get soaked walking across the parking lot but I didn’t bring a coat. I walked in the Schauer Center and saw all kinds of friendly faces waiting for me and it was nice to see all of them. It was nicer still to see people sitting in the seats waiting to see the show.
One after another people came up to say hello. My friend Shelley showed up with some of her friends, as she grew up near Milwaukee in the suburb of Sussex. She didn’t have to drive all the way up, but she did. My friend Robert Deglau showed up with a bunch of his friends, and it seemed everywhere else I looked I saw someone waiting to come say hello.
Steve DeClark showed up, and he didn’t have to. He’s the comedian that set up the first show I did back in January. That was just a standup show, and this was a different kind of concept. I didn’t expect him to show up, but he did anyway. That really meant a lot to me.
It totally blew me away that my friend John O’Brien and his wife Gail came all the way up from Wilmette, IL for the show, so much so that I literally did a double take as soon as I saw them. THAT’S class, and I knew right then I was in a place that was in my corner.
I didn’t think my shock level could be topped after that, but then I saw my Uncle Walter walk up to me. That’s my mother’s brother, and I haven’t seen him in years. I don’t know him all that well, but he’s a very nice man and has always been supportive and knows the ugliness of my family situation. He said my mother is indeed alive and still living in WI.
Apparently, she’s once again involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses as she has been for many years as I’ve always been told. When I did see her last I was about 18, and she told me that’s the reason I never got any birthday cards. Jehovah and his witnesses can all kiss my ass, but if that’s what makes her happy I guess I have to shut up and just let it all go.
I told Uncle Walter that, and he totally got it. He said that side of the family that I never knew is just as wacked out as the side I did, and that’s just how it is. I guess I didn’t miss much not knowing my mother all these years, but the damage is done. It is what it all is.
Then, to top it off even more, I was REALLY shocked when Jonathan Green of WTMJ radio walked up to say hello. He interviewed me many years ago when I left for Chicago, and I never forgot it. He’s been on the radio in Milwaukee for 40 years, and is retiring at the end of the year. I asked to be on his show, but they don’t do interviews like that now.
His show, like radio and life in general have changed completely, but to see him show up and shake my hand was just out of this world spectacular. He and his wife enjoyed the show, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for everyone who was there. This is a night that goes WAY past comedy. This was a night that pounded some dents out of my can.