Speaking Words: Spotlight on Jerry Seinfeld, Bryan Cranston & Humans of NYC blogger Brandon Stewart + Kevin Smith joins Jason Lee in Denton & more

Examining four very different but instantly recognizable voices in the world of comedy, speech & human examination. 
From the fun nitpicky schtick of comedic legend to a blogger that rose from an unemployed photographer to creating something unique that has united us all.

CitySquare's A Night To Remember Benefit w/ Jerry Seinfeld - September 10th - Winspear Opera House - Dallas, TX

The annual benefit for CitySquare, the local nonprofit dedicating to fighting the causes and effects of poverty, A great event I attend every year & this year's guest entertainer comedy icon Jerry Seinfeld.
Seinfeld seems like a comedy relic in the modern annals of comedy, where boundaries are tested and observations are presented to poke holes in heady topics like sex, religion and politics. Seinfeld doesn't challenge the way his audiences think about anything topical or political.
In fact, he embraces his stereotype -

 



 

 

According to Seinfeld, Pop-Tarts are mankind's most groundbreaking culinary achievement. Yet he transcends the stereotype of the hacky comedian who presents a never-ending stream of jokes about airports, and he does it by being FUNNY.

Seinfeld bolted to the microphone following his intro and wasted no time bursting the giant, pride-filled balloon swelling up inside everyone who considers going to a comedy show as a form of charitable "sacrifice." He then segued into a series of bits about "going out" that lead to the thesis statement of his comedy philosophy.   

"Some people say life's too short," Seinfeld says. "I think it's too long."   

Seinfeld has embraced his personality in a way that served him very well in his years as a young comedian but fits like a glove in his older years. He's not the stereotype of the grumpy, old man. He just veers between the cranky old guy who lives to complain and the clever guy who can take the most mundane and accessible aspect of our lives and make it seem illogical. Hearing him talk about our obsession with constant hydration or indestructible cameras that you can wear on your head fits so well with him at this stage of his life that you can't help but at least be amused.   

"Life is barely worth sitting through once," Seinfeld says to the crowd. "Why would you want to go through it twice?"   

The real joy of watching Seinfeld perform is his execution. Even with such strict, self-imposed rules that would make a struggling comic stay with their day job, he is still relentless with his material. He juices every topic for something clever, and he's more physical than an observational comic has a right to be. 

 


Bryan Cranston: A Life In Parts - October 19th - SMU Hughes-Trigg Student Center - Dallas, TX

 

Reading from riveting his memoir, My Life in Parts​, and holding a moderated conversation with Chris Vognar, Culture Critic for The Dallas Morning News, Bryan Cranston, most known for his portrayal of the unforgettable Walter White from what many consider to be the greatest TV series ever, Breaking Bad,  traces his zigzag journey from his chaotic childhood to mega stardom by vividly revisiting  the many parts he's played on camera.




Discussing his failures as few men do, describing his work, as few actors can, Cranston went into candid, fascinating detail on his hardscrabble life before he became an actor. He was actually on his way to becoming a cop before a cross-country motorcycle trip with his brother shifted his course. He also farmed chickens, officiated some weddings and was briefly a murder suspect!

Ever the class act, before leaving town, while at the airport he purchased a copy of his own book and left it on the shelf for someone to discover.


...and find it they did - I hope you find yourself too with a copy of this incredible memoir of a remarkable life from an incomparable renassiance man.

 

 

 


Humans of New York w/ Brandon Stanton - September 14th - UNT Coliseum - Denton, TX

 

 

 

Six years ago, Brandon Stanton was a recently unemployed bond trader with a penchant for photography and an eye for storytelling. Now, he’s the creative mind behind Humans of New York, a photography blog that stirs the feelings of millions of followers every day with inspiring and often heartrending glimpses into the lives of people in New York City and around the world.
In this talk with students, alumni & fans of his work, Stanton brought his positivity and experience to inspire and unite.

 



A wonderful presentation to showed his transformation of first photo as a discouraged, unemployed hobbyist, to his recent meeting with the President - all completed in a four year span of dreaming, creating & ambition.
Though I moved to NYC 10 years ago (much to my mother's dismay) it was her, ironically (whom as never stepped foot in New York state) that turned me on Stanton's work and imagery, so it was a proud moment for me to bring her along and have her inclusion as us as invited guests.
It was also for me personally ironic (& liberating) to hear him speak about "breaking the mold" of the idea of what it is to be creative and forge your own path. Here we sat, listening to someone my mother holds in high regard, lobby passionately about "making life what you want it to be" especially in the face of tradition, essentially the same exact thing I've been trying to convince her of all these years.
So thank you Brandon, I think we might have finally made a breakthrough.

 

The Art of Comics with Kevin Smith - September 17th - UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center - Denton, TX

Someone else that recently paid Denton a visit was writer, comedian, podcaster, film director & creator of AMC’s Comic Book Men
Kevin Smith who has written and directed a number of my favorite films.

Now let's unpack what brought Smith to Denton & what the intent was versus the actual execution.
The program, presented by the Greater Denton Arts Council in conjunction with the exhibition Heroes in the Making: The Art of Comic Production
(the exhibition is on view at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center in historic downtown Denton September 16-December 10, 2016) wanted to bring a high profile name in the world of comics to bring attention to the exhibit, it's medium as well as flex a little muscle of what kind of talent can be expecting from the council. 
Recent Denton expat actor Jason Lee is on said council & of course was the lead in Smith's 1995 cult fave MallRats (& will be in it's sequel next year) & has been in just about every Smith project since.
So Lee asked him to come down to Denton (from Vancouver where he is currently working on yet another comic book project of directing a few episodes of The Flash for the CW) to talk comics.




When I got to the Murchison I discovered a sold out crowd of the typical nerdy outsiders that fit Smith's aesthic of a geeky/stoner hybrid.
I was also met with a contentious staff that first seemed helpful & then suddenly resentful of my presence.
Then I walked into the auditorium to discover that I'm seated directly behind Jason Lee & his family & also that Smith, thanks to some travel snafus was gonna be two hours late.
Lee is probably my favorite actor from Smith's View Askew Universe - we talk similar, him being a pro skater was an inspiration to me during my skating youth & here as I chatted briefly with him, seems like a nice affable guy in spite of his questionable Scientologist past.
If anything was off-putting was the super hipster Americana appropriation in dress & presentation. It didn't have time to reach insufferable levels but I would imagine if I spent any real time with him & his wife my Motorhead diet would clash directly with their vegan picnic.

Gotta give it to Smith who came all this way to talk comics & clearly didn't wanna disappoint Lee, who even gave in & actually put a temporary moratorium on his Southwest airlines ban to hop on one of their flights to get his ass down here.
However, if I'm critical of anything it's that once he arrived, it quickly was less about focusing on comics & having a moderator keeping him on topic.
Instead, it instantly became just another one of his 4+ hour marathon Q&A's with no moderator, open forum that fed Smith's seemingly insatiable appetite to talk about himself. 
On one hand he is to be commended for making such an effort to keep his commitment to this event, on the other it equally felt like this was just as much for him or more so than anyone, that these Q&As serve more as an ego-boosting validation surrounding himself with fan-boy yes men.
So much that his disappointment was palpable when they shut it down around 1230am to his protesting that he was told that he "could go all night".

Doesn't mean that it wasn't at times very funny & quite enjoyable as it usually is that keeps me coming back each time.
He's masterful at creating an intimacy that makes you feel a part of the show even if your not asking or answering any questions.
For this crowd that doesn't experience inclusion on this level that often, this is Mecca. 
Good times.

Photos

Roy Turner
SMU
A dude from Twitter

 

 

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