Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sarasota, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale...Wild and Willey on the Road!

Hello, Gentle Readers!

All I can say is "WOW!"  The Wild and Willey Comedy Tour has been just unbelievable so far...let me tell you what happened....

First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you to all who were in attendance in these three cities!  I can say - without fear of contradiction - that I have never felt so damn much love!  Just incredible!

I'm kind of a fixture in Sarasota, FL.  I'm usually down there a few times a year.  The white sand of Lido Beach and Siesta Key are some of the nicest in North America - hell, in the world!  I've made some good friends down there and always have a great time!

McCurdy's marquee with my name...
spelled right!
Two of my good friends are Pam and Les McCurdy, a husband/wife team who own and operate McCurdy's Comedy Theatre.  I've been performing in their club since it was a 90-seater in the Big Kitchen chinese restaurant!  Now they have a beautiful theatre and they run it right; they bring in top acts and treat us right.  In fact, I recorded my first DVD at McCurdy's...

Friday night there was electricity in the air; it was the final broadcast of AMC and the fans were filled to overflowing with emotions: sadness, anger, and happiness.  Many seemed to feel that they could continue, in some way, their love affair with this iconic show by coming out to see me...quite an honor!  Many shared their stories and many touched my heart.  It's so very nice to be out there seeing and talking to you folks...I am indeed blessed!

Sarasota's the kind of town that shows it's love, and many of those in attendance had only recently become my fans.  On Tuesday of that week I had co-hosted a fundraiser (to benefit the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides...program) for my friend Amy Tuten (who works for WWSB, the ABC affiliate in Sarasota) and we more than doubled what they raised the previous year!  Many of the folks at McCurdy's Friday night were back to support me.  Add all the All My Children fans and the folks who only know me as a comic (pretty cool, huh?) and we had a full house!

I did a lot of new material and played with the audience...if they had half as good a time as I did, they had a blast!

Sitting and Signing at McCurdy's!
Afterwards, I was available for autographs and pictures, and had my T-shirts for sale.  It was so nice to be able to hear how much All My Children has meant to people; life-long watchers, sisters who - separated by thousands of miles - once a week call each other during the show and watch together, the multi-generational families of fans.  So many great memories and I am so proud to have been a part.

I packed up and headed across the street to a lounge called "Memories".  It's a dive and I love dives!  You could actually smoke in this bar.  That's right, I said smoke!  It had a pool table and it was karaoke night!  Who could ask for anything more?  Les and I smoked and played pool and - all of sudden singing heart heart out - is Meredith Garofalo from WWSB, who had interviewed me that very afternoon.  The girl can sing her butt off!

And me without my camera!  I guess I'll always have the "Memories"!

Such a great time!  Thanks to Amy and Pam and Les and Sarasota!  I had a great time - again!
Bobby Jewell and Me

Tampa, Florida was next.  I've known the owner of Sidesplitters for a number of years, for as long as I've been playing there.  Bobby Jewell is a great guy and does a fantastic Jackie Gleason, both as "Ralph Kramden" (The Honeymooners) and "Sheriff Buford Pusser" (Smokey and the Bandit films) and we have a ball, me doing Art Carney as "Ed Norton".  Bobby does it right, and at a time where clubs are suffering - even closing - Saturday night at Sidesplitters was absolutely booming!  My show was very near capacity (couple of empty tables way in the back), and they had two more shows that night - both packed! - as well as a private event in the lobby.  After my show we had to set up a table outside (under a threatening sky - it had been raining hard on and off and was hu-mid!) to sign and sell.  Do you know that people stood in that lines for close to two hours?  What an unbelievable show of love!  Thank you all for your patience and support!

Bangin' hard at Sideslitters!
I returned to Sarasota that night.  I had planned to get back in time to head over to Tommy Bahama's for a snack and a couple of libations.  My show had started right at 6PM, I was off the stage at 7:15, but wasn't done until about 9:30!  No Tommy Bahama's for me.

The next day I headed for Hollywood.  Hollywood, Florida, that is.  And the Improv at the Hard Rock Casino...

Beautiful room!  The Meet and Greet was so much fun; folks from my hometown of Ottawa, IL as well as a lady who was a lawyer and had published a paper about how the law is handled on AMC, and some wonderful hard-core fans showed up!  We had some laughs before the show even started!

At The FTL Improv!
Another fun show with another bunch of new stuff!  It feels so good to be back on stage and performing for you...don't get me wrong, I enjoy working in front of the camera, but there's much to be said for the magic and energy that flows both ways in a live performance.  Thank you all!

Next stop: Dayton, OH and Wiley's (http://wileyscomedyclub.com/acts/)!

See you there!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Wild and Willey Tour begins for real...and with a BANG!

Okay, it is now September 22, 2011 and I have just returned to Sarasota from West Palm Beach, a four hour drive across Florida via Alligator Alley that I have made twice in the past 24 hours.  Not such a bad drive, except I did most of it in the dark with a picture in my head of the news story I saw down here the other day about a boy who was out fishing and caught an EIGHT HUNDRED POUND ALLIGATOR!  Naturally, all I could think of during my drive was this 'gator's brother ambling across the foggy road and me smacking into it at 65 miles per hour.  Kept me good and alert, I'll say that!

But let's back up...Tuesday night I co-hosted an event for a friend of mine, Amy Tuten, in Sarasota.  It was a "Buy Your Own Bachelor" fundraiser for breast cancer, an event which raised $7500 last year...I am proud to say that this year, with me as an auctioneer and the gracious and generous people of Sarasota out in force, we raised double that!  And it was fun!  Congratulations to all involved!

Felicia, me, Shelli
I then went to my hotel to pack and grab a couple of hours sleep before my first trek across the Alley.  I had to be in West Palm Beach by 9AM to do an appearance on the news for the ABC affiliate there, WPBF.  The anchor that did the interview (a long, very personal one) was a delightful woman - Felicia Rodriguez - whom I had met when she covered "Jack and Erica's" wedding in Boca Raton a few years ago...here we are, joined by her co-anchor, Shelli Lockhart, another great gal!  Lucky me, huh?  You may be able to go to that station's website to see the interview...I'll check on that later...

Then it was to the next hotel for a little R&R in the sun...let me tell you, I'd forgotten how bloody hot it can get down here on the Gulf Coast of Florida!  I'm used to the deserts of LA and Santa Fe...yipes! I felt like a sausage on the grill!  Had some lunch and got ready for the evening...

Started with a Meet and Greet with some really fun people!  They had some great questions and I hope I had some great answers...one thing I know for sure...we ALL had a good time at our little get-together!  I really enjoy these...gives me the chance to answer questions, talk about my kids, speculate and bitch about the current state of things in the soap world.  Thanks so much to all who were in attendance.  You made me feel welcome and got me all jazzed for the show!

Me onstage at the WPB Improv
And what a show!  It was my first time with some new material, so I was a little nervous.  The Improv in this location is one of the most beautiful comedy clubs I've ever been in and the crowd was super-receptive so my nerves soon vanished.  I can't begin to explain how much I love entertaining folks this way; live and in-person - the magic really flows both ways!  Thanks to all who came out and a special thanks to all of you who bought T-shirts to benefit the WilleyWorld Endowment Fund.

Friday night (9/23) I'm at McCurdy's in Sarasota http://www.mccurdyscomedy.com/,
Saturday (9/24) I'll be at Sidesplitters in Tampa , http://www.sidesplitterscomedy.com/
and then back across Alligator Alley on Sunday (9/25) for my show at the Ft. Lauderdale Improv http://improvftl.com/show_right.cfm?id=98459&cart

I'll see you there!

Got a day off now...gonna go to the beach...maybe do a little 'gator fishin'!  Hope I don't catch one!

Monday, September 19, 2011

And the Wild and Willey Comedy Tour begins...kind of.

Hello, Folks!

Well, here at is; a little after 10PM, Eastern Time.  And today was quite a week.  To be precise the past twenty-four hours are what sucked...right up until they didn't!

Merit and Himself
Clan Willey!
I spent a delightful weekend with the "fam" at the Santa Fe Renaissance fair where my daughter was performing with her Irish dance troupe.  I was putting the final touches on my packing and making ready to call it a night when all hell broke loose.

Now, when you travel as much as I do (for many years I flew over 75,000 miles annually...on one airline!) you're not surprised by much.  The weather delays, the ATC holds, the "mechanicals", puking children and pooping dogs are all part of it and, in general, I consider myself pretty darn lucky.  I've had a couple of horrific travel delays, but only a couple.  But now I had another brewing...

I got a call shortly before 8PM.  I see it's an "800" number, so I don't answer.  A bit later, out of curiosity I listen to my voicemails.  And there it is: that dreadfully cold mechanical voice telling me that my "itinerary has been changed due to a flight cancellation".  Not changed to later in the day - that would be bad enough - but to the next day!

So the phone calls begin.  The interminable time spent "on hold' very quickly tests patience and civility.  Frustration threatens to supplant good-naturedness.  But I am nothing but polite and understanding (this isn't their fault, I remind myself, aloud - they just happened to pick up the phone) and finally it is done.  The day is saved!  I will be there in time!

The next morning I board my flight, settling in with an Esquire, feeling very smug.  I had beaten the Gods of Air Travel Gone Awry!  Ha!  Take that!  Hold on...wait a minute...not so fast...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the cockpit. I've got some bad news.  We have a light on up here that says we have a charging system down.  Now, though its a redundant system..."

Oh, For God's sake, I think, get on with it!  How bad is it?

"So we're gonna ask you to deplane..."  Never a good sign.  "And we'll have word for you in about an hour, I'd guess..."  Translation: you get off this plane there's a real good chance you ain't gettin' back on.

But we do get back on - an hour and a half later.  We land just in time for me to race to my connecting gate only to witness the jetway retracting.  Crap!

So it begins again.  And again I remind myself that this is not a "curse on the tour", not some kind of cosmic retribution.  It isn't even bad luck.  It's just plain odds.

And again, with the help of some mighty nice agents, the Evil is thwarted.  A seat is found for me, and after all this, I arrive only three hours later than scheduled.  Not so bad.  And I get upgraded at the rental car place and traffic from Tampa to Sarasota is light and it's a beautiful day and hey now! this car has Sirius radio!

Would this have gone so well if I'd gotten crazy mad and screamed at folks and cursed and threw things and felt sorry for myself?  Maybe.  But I don't think so.

Tomorrow night I host a bachelor auction to benefit breast cancer research (take a peek at http://www.byobachelor.com/), then it's off to the first show: The Improv in West Palm Beach! http://www.improv.com/ComedyClub/PalmBeach/Event/Walt-Willey-(SPECIAL-EVENT)/78616a97-9322-4f60-b08e-457274fe1001

Time now for a call home and some donuts and milk.  Tomorrow is another day.

And I'm not flying! Nyahnyahnyahnyahnyah!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here we go! And the Wild and Willey Comedy Tour begins!

Hello Folks! I've never blogged before, but I believe that an old dog can learn new tricks! Let's see if I'm right...

As many of you know, I've been doing stand-up comedy since 1990 or so, headlining all over the country in some of the nation's biggest clubs: Caroline's, The Comedy Store, Zanies and many more.  I just love to entertain all the fans, friends, and followers I've been blessed with from being on All My Children for a quarter of a century - and in a way that few would expect...but all seem to love!  Would you believe that some folks only know me as a comic?  It's true!

Now with the "soap" being all wrapped up (in it's network television version), I have the opportunity to take the show on the road - as they say - and stretch my comedic wings!

And you can follow it all right here! And here's the tour so far:

Improv Comedy Club

McCurdy's Comedy Theatre

9/24 TAMPA, FL
Sidesplitters Comedy Club

Improv, Hard Rock

10/1  LARGO, FL
Jasper Banquet Hall
"Farewell Party for Jackson Montgomery"

10/7-8  DAYTON, OH
Wiley's Comedy Niteclub

Zanies Comedy Club

Improv Comedy Club

10/14-15 JACKSON, TN
Southstreet Comedy Club

10/25 NEW YORK, NY
The Town Hall
"A Tribute to Pine Valley"

State Theatre
"A Tribute to Pine Valley"

The Theatre at Westbury
"A Tribute to Pine Valley"

I'll be blogging about the travel, the performances, the fans, the ups, the downs, the ins and the outs...and any other errant thoughts that meander through my mind!  And I'll add pictures and drawings and...who knows what else?  This is going to be fun!

So welcome to "Wild and Willey"!