1. Tell us about Billy Dees? Were you born in Cleveland area? Give us a little history on Billy Dees
I was actually born in Canton, OH which is about an hour south of Cleveland. It is most famous for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They understand two things in Canton, beer and football.
I was an only child. My parents both worked and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I could do no wrong when it came to Grandpa and Grandma. When I was about 6 or 7 years old I shoved a Baby Ben alarm clock in my grandparents’ boxed spring mattress set to go off at about 2:00 A.M. Their bed started ringing in the middle of the night. They still couldn’t wait to have me over again. They are both gone now and I miss them every day. Everyone should have an opportunity to experience that kind of unconditional love at least once in their lifetime.
My dad was a designer by trade and an amateur historian especially in regard to the Civil War. Dad was also a good writer and recording engineer and even produced a documentary about Gettysburg. My mom owned a small watch shop and has since retired and now enjoys feeding my cats. Dad passed away when I was 18.
In my twenties, I owned a small pro-audio services business and still have my own part-time endeavors doing voice-overs and other studio production work. I also have a day job pushing buttons on a computer in an office managing purchases.
2. What is your favorite Cleveland Joke? HA HA
It is unfair because they have done a good job cleaning it up, but the river that was a fire hazard still gets me. (That was a long time ago.)
3. You seem pretty attached to Cleveland Sports? Is there hope?
There is always hope. But then again everybody is special too. None of it really means anything does it? I am not one of those “sports guys.” I follow the Browns until they are out of the playoff hunt which is usually early October. Well, not really but it seems that way.
4. You write serious pieces and humor. Which is more challenging for you? Which do you prefer?
I like both, although I have been writing the serious material longer. I have noticed that with the humor material it is best to do a quick set up, hit ‘em, and then exit. Length and detail do not generally make for quick humorous reads. This applies to my stand up experience as well, basically don’t give a lecture. At the same time I do like intelligent humor; one-liners can get boring quickly. So, for me a balance has to be struck.
5. What topics inspire you most?
Anything that inspires wonderment about our existence. I really enjoy learning and writing about space and Earth history. Newton and Einstein usurp a great deal of the glory but one of my personal favorites is Johannes Kepler. Kepler had very strong personal beliefs about how the world came to be yet managed to be very loyal to the data. Aside from his achievements and methods he was an interesting person and I would recommend checking him out.
6. You have done stand-up comedy; do you still like to do that?
I haven’t been on stage in a while, although I probably should do some small gigs again. I worked as an MC in dance clubs and a voice-over man in the studio for years, so my microphone skills were polished for stand-up. The writing for that is different though, the delivery plays a big part. A funny line delivered by a professional comedian might not get so much as a smile if it is just read. So, from that aspect writing for HumorOutcasts was a new experience for me. The words have to be funny or at least amusing on their own.
7. Are there certain goals you still look forward to achieving?
First I would certainly like to expand my avenues for writing. I really enjoy writing and the feedback it generates. It is cool knowing you made someone realize something for the first time or reconsider it. My everyday work related goals would include doing more in advertising and promotion.
If I had the chance I wouldn’t mind putting together a radio talk show that was a mix of philosophy, current events, social issues, and humor. I am not sure how real-world that idea is but sports and politics dominate talk radio and I would hope there is a market for something else.