Kamin Will Perform Thursday
“Demented, charming, and brilliant” is how Allentown’s Morning Call described Dan Kamin, who created the physical comedy sequences for Chaplin and Benny and Joon, and trained Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp, respectively, for their acclaimed starring performances in those popular films. ArtsLink is bringing Kamin into the area from Sept. 25-27.
“My mission is to wreak havoc on the community,” says Kamin. “I’ll be the worse luncheon speaker the Rotary ever had. I’ll freak people out by strolling through town in slow motion. And I’ll visit several schools to combat the influence of rational thought.”
The week will climax with Kamin’s “Comedy in Motion-A Cheap Evening of Expensive Theater,” in which he’ll lampoon “overpaid and egotistical performers of all kinds,” including pompous opera singers, obnoxious know-it-all magicians, and feuding “Dancing with the Stars” hopefuls. The public performance, sponsored by S & S Jewelry, will be presented at the Lincoln Theater on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Critics have lauded Kamin’s “unbelievable stage presence,” and even children sing his praises: “You made me laugh so hard that I got a headache,” said Kenneth, age 11. “Nobody’s ever done that before.”
In addition to creating the physical comedy scenes for Chaplin and Benny and Joon, Kamin played the wooden Indian that came to life in the cult classic Creepshow 2 and created Martian movement for Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! Asked about his movie work, Kamin says, “Classic movies inspired me, and I came full circle by adding classic visual comedy to modern films. I taught Johnny 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.”
Despite his impressive stage and screen credits, Kamin’s artistic beginnings were humble. At age 12 he began his performing career as a boy magician, struggling to entertain hordes of hyperkinetic, sugar-crazed, children at birthday parties. Attending Carnegie Mellon University to study industrial design, Kamin’s hopes for a normal life evaporated when he saw the eye-popping movement illusions practiced by master mime Jewel Walker and promptly became the sorcerer’s apprentice.
The great silent comedy films of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin added more fuel to his fire, and soon Kamin was touring the country with his first original show, “Silent Comedy…Live!” Undeterred by the fact that vaudeville was long dead, he cobbled a new vaudeville circuit out of colleges, theaters, symphony orchestras, and corporations, for whom Kamin often appears as a keynote speaker who falls apart. “I applied my industrial design skills to building a collapsing lectern.” He also becomes “Mr. Slomo,” an eerie character who strolls through public places in slow motion “terrifying the very children who tormented me as a youth.”
Kamin returned to his comedy roots to write Charlie Chaplin’s One-Man Show, revealing the secrets of Chaplin’s comic art. Hailed as a breakthrough work, the book boasted a preface by another Chaplin fan, Marcel Marceau. Kamin’s new book, The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin: Artistry in Motion, updates his earlier book and features an account of how he trained Downey for his Oscar-nominated performance.
During recent seasons Kamin has toured his solo shows throughout America and “humiliated many symphonies” with his comic antics, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Shanghai, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Tickets are $10 for individual members and $20 for member families; $15 for individual non-members and $25 for family non-members. Student tickets are available for $5. All tickets may be purchased at the door the evening of the performance. For more information, call ArtsLink at 304-455-2278.
ArtsLink is committed to providing universal accessibility wherever possible. Persons with special needs may contact ArtsLink at 304-455-2278. Grant funding provided by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Additional support received from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by The Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; and the Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.