Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Devil May Care



I approached a few people with an idea, the background is, I wanted to gig out again with some new material that I am developing for an album later this summer. You're all invited by the way. (I want to record it in my hometown of Freeport, Illinois before I, or it dies). Instead of hitting the old stand by bars and clubs I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do "focus group research" if you will. I decided that I would perform stand up comedy in any room that would have me. Well so far the response has been overwhelming. 

We have plans in motion to film in a hospice group, college class, jail, preschool class,  veterans halls, basements living rooms, etc. I'm honestly scared to death, but excited at the same time. As John Lennon says "it feels like starting over" and that is part of the reason I'm doing it. 

I am in the process of developing a pilot about an aspiring comedian who is a little later in age, and after years of road work and shitty clubs he's found himself in a "shit or get off of the pot scenario" I wanted to highlight some of the rewarding and some of the painful truths about this wild journey of both instant gratification and rejection. All of these things are keeping me busy, which is good because this winter wasn't keeping anyone from rinsing their mouths out with a Hemingway cocktail.

Now for the hard part, are you ready? I'm going to need to raise some money for this project. these are not big rooms, and the people hosting these engagments cannot cover production costs. Grant it I have some close friends working for bare minimum, but they have to eat otherwise the camera shakes and well it's not pretty. So be on the lookout for a crowd funding campaign in the coming weeks. I honestly don't want to pitch this idea to a network because then you have to deal with gatekeepers and it's a whole different baby, so let's keep this independent! For us, by us!! I appreciate all of the help and hard work in advance and I am truly excited to take on this crazy endeavor! 

I love all of you,

Jeff

PS If you would like me to come and do a small set at a room of your choosing email me at J.allenboice@gmail.com. Thanks again!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stop this downtown train

I just turned 36 years old, and I guess all of that kicking and screaming against "adulthood" has finally been quenched. I am officially the "them". How and the hell did this happen? When did the music get dumb and the outfits outrageous? When did all of the causes become a bunch of noise? When did my glasses transfer from convenient to necessary? When did my hair begin its nomadic trek from my head to my ass (stopping to colonize my back along the way)? I didn't ever sign up to be old.

In the light of freinds and family who are suffering through some pretty overwhelming scenarios health wise, I can't help but think I could stand to be far more healthy than I am currently. Someone wise once said you don't value your health until you lose it. This is true for me, I suppose. If I added up all of the garbage I've eaten on the road, morning hangovers, coffee and a cigarette, couple Advil and sunglasses, in short... I haven't always treated my body "like a temple" as they say.

There's something romantic about smoking and writing jokes and telling jokes or performing sketches and then drinking a king's share of booze and carving out some euphoria in the nightime. Riding a meglomaniacal wave, a sense that you MADE them laugh, you didn't ask them to, you didn't try to convince them that they should, you fu*king MADE them! They had no choice! Whether it's thousands, hundreds, tens, doesn't matter.

You see this is the disillusionment of the dream. Comedia del Immortal! Punk ass young adults grabbing life by the short and curlies, and pushing the envelope. Raging against the machine!!! Waking up on stained futons in exposed brick rooms next to strangers. Lighting a cigarette and walking in a haze to the coffee shop smirking to yourself as you begin to piece together the night before. This illusion has a vast gravitational pull and so many get sucked in too far for too long and simply get stuck to this spinning orb of destruction and chaos. Sometimes you have to jump off of the train for a second and gain your bearings. Make sure the ride is going the direction you want to go.

I know this isn't making much sense, but I still feel young, that is until I eat a cheeseburger and wash it down with a twelve pack. My stomach has retired, I don't blame him, honestly, he was the John Belushi of stomachs. Now I sip my soda water, study my notes, try to be a grown up about the whole situation. I can't lie though sometimes I miss the younger days. I see the youngsters today and I think "soak it all in, man, this is the shit that's gonna get you through the next phase, the memories" Of course we always romanticize the past, don't we?

The years go by so fast.

With all of that said, for me 36 is when I take deep breaths and just soak it all in. When I take the headphones off and look up from my damn phone and try to be in these fleeting moments.


Outside another yellow moon
Punched a hole in the nighttime, yes
I climb through the window and down the street
Shining like a new dime
The downtown trains are full
With all those Brooklyn girls
They try so hard to break out of their little worlds

You wave your hand and they scatter like crows
They have nothing that will ever capture your heart
They're just thorns without the rose
Be careful of them in the dark
Oh if I was the one
You chose to be your only one
Oh baby can't you hear me now




Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
Every night its just the same
You leave me lonely, now
I know your window and I know its late
I know your stairs and your doorway
I walk down your street and past your gate
I stand by the light at the four way
You watch them as they fall
They stay at the carnival
But they'll never win you back




Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
Where every night its just the same
You leave me lonely
Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
All of my dreams just fall like rain
All upon a downtown train
                                            -Tom Waits





Thursday, March 6, 2014

Here's Johnny!

I'm Back.

You thought the suits wouldn't have me? You thought the old dog was going into the woods to lick his paws and wait to die? Well then, you don't know me at all.

So I took a leave of absence, a sabbatical if you will, and to be honest I couldn't have picked a better winter to hole up in my apartment and sort out the maddening thoughts in my broken brain. I felt for the first time in a long time that gripping "what does it all mean," Feeling. So I did some collective soul searching. I listened to music, read some books, did a yoga pose (it helped, tremedously) I poured over the Bible, reached out to friends in various churches all over the country, had long talks with the nepalese gentlemen I work with. I challenged myself to throw my arms up in the air and say "whomever is out there in the universe, if anyone or anything, direct my steps." The results were pretty amazing.

Let me tell you what this is not a tale of, This is not a tale of the prodigal son returning home to the fattened calf and a shiny new ring, far from, actually. I had in mind that I was going to approach these different churches and team up with them ot creatively spread the message of hope and love and well, most of the Beatles songs, but unfortunately it is hard to get a lot of those people on the phone. There are a few that I am working with and I love every second of it, but for the most part I feel like American Evangelical churches are a bit like a fraternity. Extremely hard to get in to, imagine if you will a Mafia, without anyone to vouch for you, you are forced to look in from the outside.

So, I took this all as a sign. Maybe I don't belong there, and maybe you don't either. Maybe we are a collective stuck somewhere outside of the circle of "the believers" maybe we are some fellowship of the unelected. Maybe we are post-doctrine, not saying to throw the "baby out with the bathwater" but starting all over with clean water and fresh "baby." This has led to a series of talks about starting a collective gathering of thinkers, dreamers, bleeding hearts, lonley, who believe in our core that there has to something more, but more importantly something... else. So I have decided to embark upon a journey of scrapping all of the preconcieved notions of religion and dogma and starting over from scratch. I mean if truth is truth than wouldn't we find truths if we were earnestly seeking them. I have zero desire to debate or argue or hold signs up against anyone else's signs, but if you want to come and be reasonable together, go on one hell of a crazy ride together, well then I encourage you to join me.

I am still putting together the details, and I by no means feel as a "leader" although I look good in aviators and make a mean batch of kool-aid (too soon?), but this is something that I have thought about long and hard. The simple truth is, there is no room at the table for people like myself, like you. People who have honest and sincere questions, people who wrestle with the deeper meaning of it all. People who crave a healthy and safe community and don't want to "pretend" or "keep quiet" or "not ask the tough questions" people that want to be free.

The most important thing I have taken from my journey of sobriety and reassment is that I believe that humor is a gift. I believe that it is a tool that can facilitate joy, and laughter, and insight, and bring to light a lot of different points in a safe manner. I just temporarily lost sight of that purpose and I was trying to be a "shock jock" I was becoming everything I hated about comedy, and was not being true to myself or my instrument. This led to a crisis of conscious, which, thank God means that I'm not too far gone. So to anyone who saw my shows and thought "he isn't playing to the height of his intelligence" I sincerely apologize. That is not to say that silly is wrong, but I'm not talking about silly. When comedy comes from a dark place it doesn't edify people. It doesn't lift them up, rather it drags them into your own miserable darkness, because as the song says "misery [indeed] loves company."

So it is ok to laugh, and spread joy, and intend to do plenty of that, because it's just how i am hard wired, but at the same time, vulnerability and honesty is what makes us connect on a human level.

I hope to see you all soon!

Jeff (Juicy) Schroeder


Friday, January 24, 2014

New Year, New pursuits

Hello Everyone,

       You're probably wondering what the heck happened, and I feel like I deserve it to you all, my faithful friends and family to share my story. If you attended one of my shows, then you are not shocked to hear that for some time I have battled with depression, usually I was able to stave it off with humor or alcohol or drugs or sex, but it became increasingly more and more difficult to shake. I felt like I was swimming as hard and as fast as I could in front of a giant tidal wave.  Well, in early December that wave finally crashed. It wasn't one instance or incident that happened it was just a culmination of avoiding seeking help for a very long time. I cancelled all of my dates for December, took the upcoming tour off of the table, basically, if you know anything about this business committed career suicide.

     The good news is, I'm still here. You see in this world we obssess so much about our career and what's right for our career that often times we avoid getting healthy because, unless you're Seinfeld, the jokes don't usually come from a healthy place. So in December I did some soul searching, attended a few religious institutions, saught guidence and counselling from people I respect a lot. Talked through a lot of things that I had poked fun of comically, but never really addressed in light of sobriety and reality. It's funny I have often said that if you laugh at the monsters, they lose their power, but that isn't true. The pain just manifests in different ways. My relationship with my son, having real and true intimacy with my friends and my girlfriend.

     Hemingway has a quote, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are non of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." Sound words from a man who rinsed his mouth out with a twelve guage. What Hemingway glossed over or omitted was, how we heal is vital to our survival. You see there are many among us who have been taught to simply "gut it out" "rub some dirt on it" the "that which doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger" falicy.

    I learned a long time ago there are sometimes worse feelings than death. The sexual molesting, the living in fear for my life, the suicide of a close family member, the premature death of the person you love, the horrors of infidelity and divorce, the feeling of inadequecy of being a single father. All of that rage fueled the fire that made the jokes more potent, made it all more "devil may care", but that same fire of rage, began to consume me. I found it hard to see the beauty in the world, I found it difficult to do simple tasks. Life had lost it's allure for me. Knowing myself, I knew changes had to be made. I knew I needed to find answers for myself.

    I was worried, to be quite honest. I was worried about what you all would think of me. I was afraid that I had to tout one extreme banner or the other. Either I had to say "There is no God, there is only you and I and you are simply not large enough to mend me" which would lead to my eventual Hemingwain final act, or I thought I would have to dawn a "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand" tshirt and start dunking people in the Chicago river. I am learning balance.

    As the over-rated and under-talented group ENYA once chanted "Who can tell where the road goes?" This is not an easy endeavor for me, but it is a necessary one. I just want you to know if you are reading this and you feel lost you are not alone, in fact far from it. Some of the most confident seeming people are scared shi- well their really scared. If any of this resonates with you personally, please, please, please seek out real help. Listen, I understand the fear of seeming weak, and appearing crazy to your awesome friends, but in light of your own health and mental well being, it's worth it. I'm not going to say "I don't want you to go to hell" because if you're anything like I was, you go to hell almost every single night.

    Here is my challenge to anyone finding themselves reading this who feels lost and hurting like I was (and still am sometimes, but it's 100% more bearable), Take the next 30 days and honestly seek out guidence and help and be aggressive and tenacious in your pursuits. Go to temple, and church, and read the New Testament and study the life and message of Jesus Christ and other amazing people and start connecting the dots. Say something out into the universe like "God direct my steps" sincerely and honestly, and watch what happens. If you don't experience any changes, than you can always go back to your regularly scheduled self-medicating miserable existence (Full disclaimer: if you are sincere and dilligent and honest in your pursuits it is impossible not to experience any changes).

    Do I know how batsh*t crazy this all must sound coming from me, of course. You may be thinking "Jeff down another half bottle of NyQuil and found his computer again," but I assure you I have never felt more healthy, more optomistic, more generally excited about what lies ahead on this journey than I am today. I'm still funny, I'm still weird, I still struggle everyday to look for the beautiful and the edifying. I still at times lose patience with people talking loudly on their phone at Starbucks. I do not claim to be superhuman or have all of the answers, but I am being restored like an old beat up 1978 Ford Ltd.

   All this to say, I appreciate your support in my craft, and I anticipate your support in my new endeavors. I'm not going to try to sell you anything, I couldn't if I wanted to, but I want you to know that I'm here to listen if you ever need anything. I love you all, and in the words of Dolly Parton "I wish you joy and happiness, but above all this, I wish you love."

(Whitney Houston's version of "I will always love you" plays)

   I hope to see you all very soon in a cleaner more mentally and emotionally stable 2014.

Sincerely,
Jeff