xmlns:og="http://ogp.me/ns#" xmlns:fb="http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml

Author Archive

Donnie Baker and Pork Pistols and Me Go to Sturgis

A few months back, I received an email from an old friend and comedy booking agent, Jeff Johnson, U.S.A. Entertainment Agency: ”Donnie Baker and his band want to bring their show to Sturgis this summer. Got any advice?” I replied: “Yes, I do. The place they want to be is the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground.” Then I contacted the owner of the Buffalo Chip, Rod Woodruff. That got the ball rolling…. Last week the Buffalo Chip made it’s official announcement. Donnie Baker and the Pork Pistols will be performing 6 nights at the Sturgis Rider Café® which is located at the brand new free access area – Crossroads at the Buffalo Chip.

If you don’t know who Donnie Baker is, you’ve never listened to The Bob and Tom Show. Donnie’s a permanent fixture and fan favorite on that hugely popular national syndicated radio program. Back when he first started calling into Bob and Tom, I worked with him at Wiley’s Comedy Club, Dayton, OH. Although I knew he was very funny on-air, I wondered if he could bring the same level of funny to the stage. He and his band did just that. The sold-out crowd loved the show. I had a blast myself that night and hoped I’d have the opportunity to work with Donnie Baker again. So I am very happy to announce that this summer, I will again be sharing the comedy stage with him.

This August 3-11 will be my 4th year slinging jokes at the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground for the 72nd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (I’ll be there all nine days). If you’ve followed my adventures from previous years, you know that adding comedy to that big biker party has been a challenge. But things just got a whole lot easier, for this summer. Not only are Donnie Baker and the Pork Pistols a perfect fit for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but I have to believe they’ll draw a crowd. Comedy at the “Best Party Anywhere” just got ratcheted up a notch. And not only for those lucky enough to join the party, but also for those listening at home. Donnie Baker will also be sharing his exploits from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Bob and Tom. Maybe if I annoy him enough, he’ll mention me?

Besides me and Donnie Baker and the Pork Pistols and lots of beautiful bikini models…..Sugerland, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Journey, Loverboy, Boston, Zach Brown Band, Erich Church and Shinedown will also be at the Chip this summer. More great bands to be announced in the coming weeks. Hope to see you there too!

The $20,000 Church Gig That Wasn’t

I received a very strange booking inquiry email recently from a guy pretending that he wanted to hire me to do a show over in the United Kingdom. I knew right away it was bullshit. Not only because the offer was for a ridiculously large sum of money, but also because it was to provide entertainment for some Christian conference. I know how crazy and ridiculous this sounds. I also thought it was funny. That’s why I decided to post the email exchanges below. His unedited emails are included in their entirety. (I’ve added comments in italics in parenthesis).

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:57 PM – from Bill Calder – Subject: We need you for an Engagement

Good Morning Dwight York,

Blessing be onto you. I am Rev. Dr. Bill Calder, the presiding minister of West Wickham & Shirley Baptist Church, Corner of Wickham Road & Monks Orchard Road Croydon. United Kingdom.

We are hosting a conference come 28th, 29th and 30th of next month and we are pleased to notify you that you have been chosen by our Event Organizing Committee to add more light to the event and entertain our guests. After checking your credentials on (www.247comedy.com) and after visiting your website, we received the Lords direction to invite you to feature in this event and we also believe you are as well more than capable to deliver in this occasion. We have decided among the Event Organizing Committee to invite you to this program. (Was it my drug, drinking and dick jokes? Or the fact I sort of resemble the white European artists’ rendition of Jesus?)

As I earlier stated, the program is billed to hold on the 28th,29th and the 30th of November 2011 and we have also invited other notable speakers and comedians including Robert actor as well as Dan opera and also in the process of getting 2 others who is in the middle of an agreement with us for this program. As an inspirational and motivational speaker as well as a little comedian, I will also be speaking at this conference. (Obviously this must be a credible gig if they’re also bringing in “Robert actor” and “Dan opera” plus two others. Right?).

The conference theme has been carefully chosen by the Lord inspiration due to the backdrop of the present situation in the United Kingdom and this year’s conference has been tagged ‘How to stay focus when others lose focus: Holding on to God when things fall apart. And the keynote is : Survival instinct in an ailing Economy. (Sounds reasonable enough. Appeals to my altruistic side and helps make me feel less guilty/greedy for accepting such a large sum of cash as the world around me falls apart)

We want you to perform either before the speech or after the speech. As you know people get bored after too much of talking, So want you to make our guests crack their ribs and feel more lightened. (“Crack their ribs?” I hope this guy is not writing his own speech. I’m guessing English is not his first language).

Please confirm your availability for this event and the date that you will be available in-between this 3 days so we can put it on our website and start to design posters as well as hand bills. (They’re making hand bills? This must be legit) If you do agree to this contract we would also need a picture of you to put up in posters and flyers prior to the event date. You will only be speaking once in the three day conference. We have budgeted 19,500 USD for your fee and it is not regarding to your standard fees, Our fees are based on budget and we are not biased with our speakers fee, We budget for every speakers and comedians according to what the Event Organizing committee deem fit. (Good thing I didn’t throw out a number first of what I’d think is fair compensation…. of say… a tenth of that)

All travel arrangements such as Flight fare, performance fee deposit as well as Hotel accommodation will be taken care of as soon as you honor this invitation. We will send you all binding documents including a Letter of Invitation and Contract Agreement as soon as you honor our invitation. Email any questions you may have to: Rev.Dr.Bill Calder

You are blessed.
Reverend: Bill Calder
+44 7031873786

West Wickham & Shirley Baptist Church
Corner of Wickham Road & Monks Orchard Road
Croydon,Surrey
CRO 8DR
United Kingdom
(There really is such a place)

Quickly I replied – Subject: Re: We need you for an Engagement

Good Day to you Rev. Dr. Bill Calder,

I am available all three dates; November 28th, 29th and 30th. I’d be happy to entertain your guests.

God bless.
Thanks,

Dwight York

Within minutes came a reply from Rev Dr Bill:

Thanks for the email York, (York? Understandably we are not on a first name basis quite yet but could I get a little respect, mister?)

We are delighted you will be available for this event. May the good lord bless you more. Can we proceed? If yes, the church event organizing committee will contact you with necessary binding documents and necessary information.

Feel free to ask me any other questions , I will gladly answer them.

To which I replied: (I should have asked a lots of questions and milked this for what it was worth but instead I decided to try and scare him off)

That would be great. I will be happy to proceed. I hope you don’t have to wire me a deposit. The IRS has recently seized my bank account because of the charity work I do. Seems some of the money was funneled to an organization in Somalia with links to certain terrorist organizations. Perhaps you heard about it on the news? I just want to help feed starving children.

Dr Rev Bill replied:

That is OK Mr York. (He remembered “Mr.” this time)

Thanks for the email , the church event organizing committee will contact you with necessary binding documents, Since you do not want a wire transfer, will you accept checks ? or what mode of payment will you prefer ?

You are blessed. (Nice to know that my aiding terrorists was not a deal killer)

Me:

Sure I’d be happy to take a certified cashiers check. As long as I don’t have to email you my social security number. (I was assuming that it was the theft of my identity he was attempting)

Dr Rev:

Oh No, we would not need your SSN for anything . Its just a check and a mode of payment we have used for some speakers and comedians coming for this event.

Me:

Hmmmm. Sure then. Have the church event organizing committee contact me with necessary binding documents. You probably want to send me a deposit. Right? Let me know all about your event right away so I can post it on my website.

Dr Rev:

Hmmm ? (That was it. Not a “you are blessed” or anything)

Me:

Dude, (I decided it was time to call him out)

I don’t believe you are a Reverend. Or a Doctor. I don’t believe you have an event for me to do. I don’t have any money in a bank account to deplete even if you had my account numbers. I don’t have any money to send; in the bank or under my mattress. I am a poor starving artist/comic. I do not get offered twenty-thousand-dollar for one-show-gigs. I never get air-fare. AND I don’t do Christian comedy. I guess I have one joke that involves religion. “What would a priest say if he was having sex? Who’s your father?”

If this is legitimate I have an agent. He will be happy to look at contracts and send promo materials. (I’m the one pretending here. I don’t have an agent) If this is for real, I’ll consider it a miracle and from this day forward, change my act to Christian comedy and devout my life to Christ. (It was here I became slightly worried. What if Rev Bill was a real person and this was a legitimate offer? I’d have to change my act and my life style and start going to church. Plus I’d have to confess that I didn’t have an agent)

You are blessed (with incredible chutzpah)

Dr Rev:

This sounds very funny at the same time ridiculous to me.  Thanks to heaven we have not indulged our self with you. May God help and provide for you. What are you doing on proffesionals websites anyway? Don’t you think you are a disgrace to other comedians with your utterances? (Indulge themselves with me? That sounds dirty Rev)

Rev.Bill (He signed the email but left out the “you are blessed” part)

Me:

Dude,

It is true about my utterances. I not only disgrace other comedians but I disgrace many who have indulged themselves with me. Not to mention all of those who have come across my name on professional websites. I guess the Lord sent you some bad direction. He is known to work in strange and mysterious ways.

Finish the Joke Contest

Last week Acme celebrated it’s 20th Year Anniversary Celebration with shows Tuesday through Saturday. Thirty-six comedians in all. Twenty of them headliners. The week was capped off by a party Sunday night. Although I would’ve loved being part of one of those shows, it was cool to hang out for some of them and an honor to attend the party on Sunday night. Louis Lee, the owner of Acme, believes in doing things right. That’s how he’s built such a great comedy club. The party was a fancy catered affair held next door at Guthrie Lab Theater. Great party. Amazing space. Super group of people.

After the dinner party, I was invited to an after-party back at the club. Because I had a long drive home, I planned to stop in for one cup of coffee and hit the road. I did manage to stay sober, but I ended up staying until 3 AM. There were lots of old friends to catch up with like Costaki Economopolous, Tim Bedore, Pete Lee, Dwight Slade, Ryan Hamilton, Jackie Kashian, David Crowe, Tracy Ashley, John DeBoer, Kermit Apio, Tim Slagle, David Fulton, Chad Daniels… to drop a few names.

Besides being great to see everybody, I remained at the late-night party until the end because somehow I got talked into telling a few jokes to the crowd assembled at the bar. A comic is not going to leave the party when asked to do that. Although my audience was small and I was initially reluctant (especially being sober), I’m sure it’s one of those comedy stories I’ll cherish forever.

The story goes something like this. The hour was late and I was about to leave when a little drinking game broke out. It started with Chad Daniels doing an impression of me. Somehow that evolved into a game of Finish the Dwight York Joke. I’d deliver one of my set-ups; a point was scored by the comic who provided the punchline. David Huntsberger assumed the role of game show host. The rules were ambiguous and made up as we went along. Shots were involved. John DeBoer and David Crowe took their turn in the “set-up the joke hot-seat.” I came back in at the end for the tie-breaker. I don’t remember if anybody won.

I doubt the inebriated contestants playing this game have the same fond memories as me, but I shall not forget the experience. I’d been watching comics tear it up on stage all week. As the big celebration reached it’s last dying breathe, I finally had my shot to add some comedy to the big event. Whether someone else finished the joke or whether I delivered the punchline myself, most times my old bits got laughs. My jokes getting laughs from that group of great comics made me feel better than killing on stage on a Saturday night. Thanks Acme. You were great!

Dwight Slade, Tracey Ashley, Ryan Hamilton, Ryan Stout, me (incognito), Pete Lee

Henry Phillips is His Brilliant Self in Punching the Clown

One of the cool things about being a comic is sometimes I get to hang out with cool people. Last week Henry Phillips was in town (Acme Comedy Club, Minneapolis). I caught his set on Thursday night and got to chat with him before and after the show. I met Henry ten years ago at the Improv in L.A. Since then, every so often, our paths have crossed. I’m always glad when that happens. He’s not just a cool guy to hang out with, I’m a big fan of his work.

I’d list Henry Phillips as one of my favorite comics except I’m not so sure the term “comic” precisely applies. Henry’s a talented musician who plays guitar and writes and sings original funny songs. I believe he started out performing serious folk music. The kind of stuff you hear in coffee shops. Somewhere along the line he put a satirical spin on that genre and created his own brand of musical comedy. But it can’t be described completely as musical comedy either. A lot of laughs come from the things he says while setting up each song. It’s a cool kind of funny and he’s a funny fucking guy.

I’ve always felt an affinity for comedians who do their own thing. Although mine and Henry’s acts are very different, I’d like to think there are similarities. Like for instance, we’re both very different. Plus we both write punchlines of the make-you-think, read-between-the-lines, fill-in-the-blanks variety. And for sure we’ve both been in front of crowds that didn’t appreciate different or want to fill in the blanks. Henry politely puts it this way, “Sometimes you don’t connect with the audience.” Though he seems better at handling those situations (though I’m sure I’ve had more practice), I know he shares my angst. In his movie  Punching the Clown (mostly autobiographical) there’s a pivotal scene in the beginning depicting one such painful show. He told me the real-life story it was based on last Thursday night.

Punching the Clown is an independent film directed by Gregori Viens. Henry co-wrote the screenplay and plays himself. It’s about a tortured artist musician comedian who quits the road and tries to make it in L.A. The movie was released a couple years ago. It has won film festival awards and received lots of great reviews. I feel stupid for not being aware of it’s existence. Maybe I vaguely remember something…. The first I remember for sure hearing about it was when Henry mentioned it on stage last week. That says a lot about the kind of guy he is. It didn’t come up in conversation before the show. I hope he wasn’t offended that I didn’t ask about it. I really need to crawl out of from underneath….  But anyway… After the show Henry gave me a copy. I watched it a few days later. The very next day I watched it again. I only do that when I really love a film. Plus I wanted to make sure it was really as good as I thought it was. That I wasn’t just sleep deprived, imagining things or high. Or just laughing because I knew the guy. But in fact I laughed even harder the second time. That’s why instead of renting it, I recommend you buy the DVD. That way, in addition to watching it over and over again, you can share it with your friends. It’s one of those movies you and your friends will want to quote from. “I smell pizza,” is my favorite line. That wasn’t Henry’s. He has an amazing supporting cast. Henry’s brother Matt (Matt Walker) was especially hilarious. “I got a slogo and a logan,” was my favorite line of his. Although the cast was outstanding, Henry wasn’t out-shined. My favorite line of his was, “That was mostly my fault I think.” If you’ve seen the movie you’re laughing again.

Because he’s as funny on screen as he is on stage, I’d list Henry Phillips as one of my favorite new actors except I’m not sure the term “actor” precisely applies. I don’t know if you call what he does “acting” because he’s really just being himself. But whatever you call it, watch it and I am pretty sure you’ll agree — certainly if you know him – he does a really good him. Or as Dane Cook would say, totally captures his own essence. That’s a lucky thing for those of us watching. In Punching the Clown, Henry Phillips is his brilliant self.

Dwight York Does Sturgis 2011

Nine daily dispatches in this made-for-YouTube documentary. In other words, if you’ve been following my adventure, you’ve seen them already, but not like this. Instead of nine short video dispatches, the reports are woven together to make this one short film.

Dispatch from the Zip Line

My adventure at Sturgis was a wild ride. Seemed appropriate to film my last dispatch while flying down the Buffalo Chip Zip Line.

Working It and The Naked Man

It’s about not giving up. And for the stories.

The Day of Disappointment

Just Another Day at the Beach

Photo Credit: My friend and guest comic Tiffany Norton who just happened to be walking by.  She didn’t realize it was me at first. She said, “Look at that lucky guy.  Her husband said, “That’s Dwight.”

http://youtu.be/5mLQaGnfZVo

Surviving Sturgis With Rupert

I am including an excerpt from The Big Risk, 2009.

One of the cool characters I met that night was Rupert Bonehom of CBS’s Survivor All-Stars fame. Sporting his trade-mark tie-dyed T-shirt, a dynamic personality and a likeability that’s even larger in life, Rupert was in full party mode and when I mentioned that it was my first time at the Buffalo Chip, he spent the better part of two beers assuring me that the next ten days would be among the most memorable of my life. Having this assurance from a guy who’d won a million dollars for “surviving” in paradise left no doubt in my mind that I was absolutely in for one fantastic time. Rupert promised me that I’d entered a partying-nirvana; that the campground was a very special, even magical place. “Whatever you need, the Buffalo Chip provides” he explained and provided colorful stories from past rallies (as if I needed proof). Though adequately intoxicated by the time I returned to my tent, it wasn’t easy falling asleep. Thoughts of needs ran through my head and I couldn’t wait for the “best party anywhere” to start and for the Buffalo Chip to provide.

Tour Dates
  • Events are coming soon, stay tuned!
The Green Room