Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Memories are tricky things. They often come at the most inopportune time. They will pop into your mind, often times for no reason at all. I was watching a fast food commercial once then “astounded” my kids with a story of my youth which had nothing to do with the commercial. Often times they look at me and say, “That was random” or “What made you think of that?” To which I have no good answer, it just happened and once you have heard some of my stories, my daughters’ questions/statements make a lot more sense.

I imagine you have had similar experiences though. How about this? Have you ever gone into the kitchen (or any room for that matter) then stop dead in your tracks with a confused look on your face and wonder to yourself, “Why in the world did I come in here?” You stand there confused, a little embarrassed and then just turn around going back to where you just came from wondering if you will ever remember why but kind of sure you won’t.  The funniest part is when you are watching it happen to someone else and you watch them start over trying to jog their memory by retracing their steps only for it to be forever lost. When it happens to me I always think to myself, “I never needed it anyway.”

However, I do have those memories, as I am sure we all do, that we wish we could forget. It could that time you embarrassed yourself in front the girl you had a crush on in high school.  Maybe there is something no one else knows that you wish didn’t happen and could forget about. But it’s those memories which have helped mold you into the person you are, and hopefully for the better. It’s one of those cool things about memories, it teaches us, molds us and gives us a little enlightenment as to why we are the way we are. Sometimes those memories allows us the opportunity to connect with those who are younger, bridging, ever so slightly, the generation gap with a story.

Memories are history. Our history and our family’s history. One person once said, “If we don’t learn from history, we are destined to repeat it.” That’s our memories and the lessons that come with them. On this Memorial Day weekend, I have thought about what I was going to grill and how I would celebrate it. Burgers, hot dogs or steaks? Those are my tough decisions to make. Will I have baked beans or mac and cheese? Probably both. Then there are a dozen other items that need my attention on this Holiday. In the midst of all the festivities the most important part of it could be lost and perhaps for many it did. The part which causes us to remember. Remember the soldiers who have giving their lives just so I could be put in the overwhelming position of having to decide between burgers or hot dogs. On this day I will offer you a little help of memory.

Remember the Alamo.

This day will live in infamy.

Lest we forget, 9-11.

Monday, May 19, 2014


My Name in Neon (chalk)

Yard work is the one chore I dread the most. I wake up Saturday morning knowing the yard needs to be mowed, weeds trimmed and the gutters cleaned out. I will drink a cup of coffee, perhaps 3 or four, while I “think” about how to form a plan of attack and get it all accomplished. In essence, however, I’m just putting off what I know needs to be done, so it isn't really the yard work I dread as much as actually starting it. It’s been said, “Every journey begins with the first step.” The same is true with yard work, it all begins with the first step toward the garage for the yard tools. Each tool has its purpose to accomplish, a specific task to, supposedly, make my job easier and more tolerable. But I know I am still going to sweat and get dirty.

Of all the chores I do, the one I dread the most is the cleaning out of the gutters. It involves getting out the ladder, setting it up in the right spot then climbing it, one rung at a time, while carrying my leaf blower. I just know it’s going to be frustrating at times and a struggle to get those leaves out. I’m going to get sweaty not to mention all the leaves and gunk covering me as the blower forces them into the air. Bottom line is it’s not glamorous. Just the opposite in fact. It can get extremely dirty, and difficult at times. It’s actually much like climbing the ladder to success.

Too often when we look at our successful heroes who are walking red carpets and generally living the “jet-set” that’s all we see, the glamour. I’ve been guilty of looking at the name in lights and forgetting about the times when their name was written in sharpie. I rolled into Louisiana once, excited to do my show thinking, “They’ve never heard anything like me” until I saw my name written in neon chalk on the sign out front. Then, with laughter in my head, I realized my name will be erased with the swipe of the hand or a good strong breeze. 

Staring at our heroes standing at the top of the ladder, we totally overlook all the rungs they stepped on to get there. The ones standing at the top, for the most part, know what it took. They know on one rung they learned the value of networking. On another was the lesson of marketing. Then others consisting of practice, material, business and the rungs go on and one. For the entertainer it’s in those dive bars they learned the value of connection or how to further hone their art form. Every rung brings you higher, closer to the end goal. Make no mistake, however, you might slip on a rung or get stuck on one for a time, but they will take you closer to your dreams as you climb. Slow or fast, you still have to climb it one rung at a time.

Excuse me now while I go get my ladder and work in the yard. Man, I hate yard work.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


I remember going to dances in high school and seeing those group of kids standing along the perimeter of the room not sure what to do. I’m not sure how they are referred to now days, but we called them wall flowers back in the day. Most movies depict those awkward teenagers as nerds and just socially inept. Outcasts from the social elite even to the point where they walk the hallways like ghosts. You never really see them as they quietly blend into the background, never noticed or doing anything to draw attention to themselves. These invisible students just go about their lives, living in the shadows doing what they do hardly ever finding their way into the light.

This invisible mentality can also move from high school/college right into your work life. In the move The Office there was a character who just came to work, stayed quiet and no one even noticed him even when they discovered he had not received a paycheck for a long period of time. With belly laughs, we laugh at those scenarios the characters find themselves, mainly because, we identify with them. Yet we still get up the next morning go to work only to blend in. Creativity is hidden, even squelched. Ideas are dismissed and along we go one of many who clock in then clock out as wall flowers.

How many reading this have ever felt like you are in the background? Not even background noise just background, almost invisible. I know I’ve felt this way. I live on stage in front of people all the time yet I find myself struggling to not be invisible. It is a struggle. People drift to the sidelines for a variety of reasons. Some lack the self-confidence to be involved, share little to no interests with the group, or a number of other reasons. But how does one correct this? How can they go from being invisible to being seen? The quick and most honest answer I have is, I don’t know. I don’t know what the psychologist and the other experts on this subject will tell you. All I know for sure is what I do, what works for me.

In a nutshell, I decide not be background. It’s a conscience effort. Every day I wake and I have a decision to make. A decision whether I will be invisible, overlooked and forgotten or not be. Every morning I make the decision to walk out of my house with my head up seeking to make my way. Maybe this will help you wake up and decide to not be background.

I wake up and decide on this day I will pursue my passion. My passion is to be an entertainer and everything I choose to do has to fit under this heading. From comedy, to writing and even giving speeches, I decide. I wake up deciding to follow my passion. Although I do get sidetracked even a bit distracted and go off-roading so to speak, it’s a decision I conscientiously have to make. My passion is important to me, which is why it’s a passion. If it weren't my passion it would be an interest or worse just a hobby.

The second decision I wake up making is perhaps the hardest but I still make it. It isn’t easy but it has to be done and to be honest sometimes I fail. But I don’t allow it to stop me, in fact it makes me become more resolute in this decision. In addition to deciding to follow my passion, I wake up and decide “not everyone has to notice me.” Yep, that’s it and it is hard especially for someone who feeds on the attention. You have to decide to be happy with who you are even when no one is looking. You must decide what you will be when you are alone.

To stop being a wilting wall flower and be visible all you have to do is wake up and decide. Trust me, it’s easier said than done, but you can do it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Outlaws have always had a peculiar way of capturing our interest. We seem to be more fascinated with those who color outside the lines than those who use the lines as a guide. Many reading this may think I’m referring to the likes of Jessie James and Billy the Kid, although, colorful Outlaws, I’m writing about those who are the Outlaws in any particular industry, namely entertainment. Every profession has them. Take Galileo for instance. He went against the Scientific & Religious views when he touted the unpopular view of the Earth rotating around the Sun rather than the other way. He even spent time in jail for it.

The thing about Outlaws is they refuse to be boxed in by society rules and norms. Rather, they often become our heroes and role models in life. George Washington and the rest of the revolutionaries are great examples of this, rebelling against the status quo and the British Empire. As history has proved, it’s worked out pretty well. When you walk through the halls of the history of the world you see portrait after portrait of rebels, Outlaws and the like who go against the grain only to be regarded as heroes. Within the entertainment world it isn't any different. It’s those who choose to go their own way we turn into legends, eventually.

Artists such as Waylon Jennings fight for what they believe in and for who they are at their core. His “Wanted: The Outlaws” album was the first Platinum album to be seen in Nashville much to the chagrin of the radio executives (until they saw money was to be made). Elvis Presley chose to shake and gyrate his body to the point society called him the Devil. Now we simply know him as the King of Rock & Roll, a hero. The Blue Collar Comedy Tour is an example for four guys going against what the comedy hierarchy says was true comedy entertainment, to the point the higher ups wanted nothing to do with Foxworthy and the boys. But they became the highest grossing comedy tour in the history of comedy tours, then the entertainment world jumped on their bandwagon. Three examples of Outlaws becoming heroes.

What it boils down to is those who make the rules and “control” the given industry often times have no idea what will actually work. They strong arm and bully their “show ponies” making them dance to the beat they set. They disavow and disown anyone who goes against the path they've set. Enter the Outlaw. He will do his own thing even if there are no riches involved. He will go his own way, even if alone. He will not be bullied and sets his own beat, even if he has to play all the instruments himself.

Robert Frost spoke of the outlaw (sort of) in his poem, The Road Less Traveled. The Outlaw takes this road. This road isn't easy, oftentimes lonely and has the occasional pothole of doubt. He is branded the rebel, the heretic and even of the devil (remember Elvis) but he wouldn't have it any other way. His mind just works differently. His attitude is his own. His satisfaction is knowing he is true to himself.
On the heart of the Outlaw are the last words of Robert Frost’s poem, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” All the difference indeed.

-          Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.