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People ask me all the time how I got into this? By ‘this,’ they think they mean “playing the piano.”

But by ‘this’, I think they mean ‘entertaining.’

When I was a youngster growing up, I was the middle child. So that’s one reason why I’m so good at making people laugh. The middle child was always in need of attention. They aren’t as important as the first two. The newness of parenting has worn off. So the middle child needed to resort to other tactics.

I picked music and comedy. Or maybe music and comedy picked me.

We had dinner as a family every night at the same time. Dad came home on the 536 train out of downtown Chicago. After saying grace, my main task was to crack the stern veneer of my Father’s deadly gaze. Manners were very important to him. Not so much to me.

My first comedy clubs were the family dinner table. It was a packed room of 8 every night. I was ecstatic when someone was invited over for dinner. I could go through my old routines all over again.

My sister told me later. We should have never laughed at your jokes. It only encouraged you.

It was not until my early 20s that I realized what a jokester my Dad was. He loved to sing and laugh and always enjoyed a party. But he died too young for both of us. I only have his memory and his letters from home when I was away at camp to remind me.

There was a pizza joint in a neighboring suburb. There was a piano player and a banjo player every weekend. They performed “Follow the bouncing ball,” Sing-along. We would get to eat pizza for dinner — with a Coke. My Dad would have a beer with his friends.

And we would sing. Loud!

We also sang at the Catholic school and in church. But nothing beat the pub for really kicking it out. Even if I didn’t know the ‘old fogey’ tunes they were playing, I still learned them and remembered them for the next time. Or figured ’em out before the song was through.

That’s what happens now when I have a mixed age room. I’ll pick current songs the youngsters want and pack them in with the standards the old folks want.

It doesn’t feel like a gift. I had to work at it. Lord knows, my family was a tough crowd. Mom, Dad, all my siblings didn’t fall for anything.

I can’t Dazzle them with Brilliance. Nor Baffle them with Bull.

The same holds true for every audience since.

I still view it as a gift when I see the joy in the crowd’s collective faces. Hear their laughter. Enjoy their compliments, handshakes, and hugs.

I feel like a kid riding his bike for the very first time. Every time I step on stage.

Let’s be kids again together. Give me a call for your next event.

Business or pleasure.

Company events and private house parties.

I have theme party ideas galore.

Ice breakers for conventions to let your prospects sales staff get to know each other.

Surprise birthday parties that create long-lasting memories for all.

It’ll be a blast!