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Charlie Chaplin’s Funny Bones, 4/23/15

Dan Kamin trained Robert Downey Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in Chaplin and created Johnny Depp’s comedy moves for Benny and Joon.  This multifaceted artist performs his own comedy shows in theatres and with symphony orchestras worldwide, and he’s the author of two acclaimed books on Chaplin. His programs are both free and open to the public.

⇔ Click on the poster to see Dan in action!
Wed. 4/22/15 7 pm Workshop: “The Magic of Movement” Fannin S. Belcher Theatre, Davis Fine Arts
Thurs. 4/23/15 7:30 pm Funny Bones:The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin Fannin S. Belcher Theatre, Davis Fine Arts

2014 marked the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s iconic “Little Tramp” character.  To help us commemorate the occasion WVSU has invited celebrated Chaplin expert and movement artist Dan Kamin to present Funny Bones: The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin.  This one-of-a-kind event takes audiences on a magical excursion into Chaplin’s enchanted comic world through film clips, live performance, and the screening of a newly restored version of The Pawnshop, Chaplin's short 1916 masterpiece.  The film will be accompanied with live music by talented pianist and WVSU alum K.W. Morrison.  There will be lots of fun audience participation, and the program is one that kids will enjoy as much as adults.  Come help Dan Kamin unearth Charlie Chaplin’s Funny Bones.  The program runs two hours.
         In The Magic of Movement Dan will reveal some of the secrets behind his amazing movement illusions.  Participants will learn to do some seriously cool moves and discover ways to get more comfortable physically. 

The Magic of Movement runs two hours. See a clip from the workshop here.

What got you interested in the type of stuff you do?  
I am overly susceptible to movies.  As a kid I saw a movie about Houdini and promptly became a boy magician.  In college I saw a Charlie Chaplin film and became a silent comedian.  Yet despite a lifetime of watching superhero films I have failed to develop superhuman powers.
Why did you want to be a performer? 
I would have much preferred to be a bagboy or stock clerk at the local supermarket, because those guys all seemed to have cars and girlfriends.  When the supermarket wouldn’t hire me the only way I could think of to make money was doing magic shows at kids’ birthday parties.  Unfortunately, the kids were often obnoxious, I never earned enough to buy a car, and I soon discovered that doing magic was like spraying girl repellent all over my body. 
How did you learn magic?
I learned some of my best moves from criminals.  I grew up in Miami, a notoriously crime-ridden city then as now.  Every Saturday the local magicians would gather for lunch at a downtown restaurant.  It was like an ongoing magic seminar, and I never missed it.  Occasionally, visiting cardsharps and con men would drop by to compare notes with the magicians.  One of them started mentoring me, and then offered me work as a dealer on the gambling boats.  But I didn’t have the stomach to cheat people, so instead of a life of crime I opted for a life of mime. 
Yes, you went from magic to mime.  After you saw that Chaplin film in college how did you go about learning to do mime and physical comedy? 
An amazing mime artist named Jewel Walker was teaching in the campus drama department.  He showed me the tricks of the trade, thus destroying what slim chance I had of leading a normal life.
So, are you a mime? 
That’s how I started, but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.  This was fortunate, since now everyone hates mimes.  And really, who can blame them? 
Is it just you in your performances? 
Usually there's also an audience.  I refuse to go on if I outnumber the audience. 
You often perform with symphonies.  Do you play an instrument?
I play the buffoon, cheapening the classical experience and making it great fun for everyone except for conductors, who understandably hate and fear me.  Just ask Grant Cooper, conductor of the West Virginia Symphony.  We have performed together many times, and I believe he is currently plotting his revenge.
What can the audience expect at one of your performances? 
A lifetime of regret. 
What was it like working with Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp?  
I taught Depp how to roll the coin around his fingers the way he does at the end of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  But does he call?  Never.
How often do you come up with new performances?   
Whenever I'm artistically inspired, or someone offers me money.  Which may be the same thing, come to think of it. 
What other types of places do you perform? 
I’ve performed in just about every imaginable setting—factories, theatres, crowded city streets, mental hospitals.  For the patients, I hasten to add, not as a patient. 
What makes these different than performing for a huge audience in a theatre?  
I love performing for hospital patients or old people because they can't run very fast.  Large audiences tend to turn into angry mobs of screaming, torch-bearing villagers out for my blood.

What do you do when you perform on the street?   
See for yourself.  Mr. Slomo Goes to Washington was shot in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during the hearings on our recent, controversial health care legislation.
Have you ever been in any movies yourself?  
I did cameos in Chaplin and Benny and Joon and played a wooden Indian that came to life in the film Creepshow 2.  You can watch me cavorting with the stars hereI also played a small, uncredited role in D.W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation.
Wait, wasn’t The Birth of a Nation made in 1915?
Don’t quibble.
Do you have a favorite performance? 
The next one. 
Do you have any suggestions for anyone interested in this type of performing?  
Seek counseling at once. 
Is this your first performance in Charleston?  
No, but it will almost certainly be my last. 

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