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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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

Cavalier Conversation

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Saturday April 7th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Another Saturday night off, but this one I don’t mind. I’ve got a decent run of work coming up, and am doing all I can to keep everything going. I’ve got way too many irons in the fire as usual, but I’m hoping that one project will heat up and start bringing in cash and I can focus on that for a while. Right now I’m running around like a maniac trying to create order out of all the chaos.

   I had a fun time doing a one nighter in Stevens Point, WI last night with a young comic named Ben Bergman. He’s 30 years old and has been doing comedy for five years. He’s from outside of Cincinnati on the Kentucky side, and we met at Zanies in Nashville a few years ago. Now he’s in Chicago, and luck of the draw paired us up for the run to Stevens Point last night. I’m glad it did.

   Ben is a sharp likable kid, and I respect him greatly. He works very hard both on stage and off, and understands that this is a craft and there’s a process to getting better. He’s paying his dues as we all have to, and it’s refreshing to be around someone who has such a desire to make progress.

   Since we both live in the Chicago area, it made sense to share a ride. Gas prices make partners out of necessity, but I enjoyed riding shotgun and playing the role of bitching headliner that a lot of other guys played with me as the driver. I used to pick their brains, and learn whatever I could.

   Smartly, Ben did the same with me. He asked question after intelligent question, and I was glad to offer my unvarnished opinions. I told him before we started that he should listen intently to all I had to say - then do exactly the opposite and he’d be a flaming success. And it could just work.

   We rode to Stevens Point in Ben’s beat up 2001 Chevy Cavalier – which is even more beat up than my own 2004 Cavalier. He’s got a two door with about 50,000 more miles than mine, but a Cavalier is a Cavalier. It was making noises the whole way there and back, but it did do the job.

   Ben used a phrase that really stuck with me. He talked about being ‘all in’, and how he moved from Kentucky to Nashville to start comedy, and now he’s in Chicago. He just laid out all of his extra money in the world to buy a camera to record his shows, and he’s willing to drive virtually anywhere on the globe for a chance to perform comedy and chase his dream. I can totally relate.

   I used to be that kid, and now I’m not. I think Ben looked at me yesterday like I used to look at the headliners when I was coming up. They would be less than exuberant about having to trudge up to some out of the way town for a one nighter in a bar. I was just happy to be there, and could not understand why they were all so jaded. Now I do, but I’m not so sure Ben sees it yet. He will.

   I tried to tell him to enjoy this part of the journey, as there is a lot of adventure in it. It takes an enormous amount of guts to go ‘all in’, and not many ever do it. There’s no guarantee of success, and that’s scarier than seeing Nancy Pelosi without makeup. Ben is doing it, and I hope he hits it out of the park and has success beyond his wildest dreams. We did the show and it went well, but then we got in the car and drove home. He’s already sick of hotels too. He’s becoming one of us.

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