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Dylan Brody: Do you feel you have more in common with Bob Dylan or Roy Scheider's character (Brody) in Jaws, and why? ~ Ruben Padilla
I hope Bob Dylan. I strongly fear, though, the other one. I would like to think that I am a beloved, iconic truth-teller, but suspect I am just a middle aged man who keeps talking about horrible, lurking danger and is generally ignored.
Are you judging me? I mean, right now, in this moment? ~ Alan Oursland
I am not! I talk on stage a lot about how judgy I can be about linguistic stuff, but in truth I'm less judgy than I claim to be. All my claims of judginess are just part of my way of countering a forty-years of feeling judged by anti-intellectuals. I do, however, wince every time someone on Television says "you and I" when it should be "you and me," because that's just a lazy attempt at grammatical correctness without bothering to learn the proper use of the subjective/objective cases. I think professional writers should know better.
Is the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything, 42 or should we go by the Mayan Calendar instead? ~ Chris
The idea that there is an answer to the meaning of life presupposes two possibly-erroneous notions. ONE: that there is a meaning to life and TWO: that we are qualified to properly frame the question. Also, I don't know who Maya is, but she sure does get a lot of mileage out of that weird calendar of hers.
When did you know you that you wanted to do stand up? ~ Paul
Very, very early on I knew I loved making people laugh. I have memory of wanting to do stand-up comedy as early as second grade, though that might not have been the first time I thought of it. I also remember when I was nine or ten having a theater to myself for a little while as I waited for my father to come pick me up after a rehearsal. I remember standing on stage and imagining that I was a stand-up comic. I think I performed for the empty room; I might just have imagined performing. The summer after high school I mentioned to my father that I really wanted to do stand-up comedy and he said that one of his ex-students was living in New York and was interested in writing stand-up material. I met with this young man. I was seventeen; he seemed very grown-up to me at the time. We talked for a while and he wrote a bunch of jokes based on what I was doing at the time, but it was not actually in my voice. I performed that six minutes of material three or four times before I started writing my own and finding my own way.
Who do you consider to be one of your heroes? ~ Ava Augustin
I have a great many heroes -- far more than one in each of the fields I practice. As a humorist, David Sedaris is right at the top of the list. Jenny Lawson (the bloggess) is in there as well. As a writer I have too many heroes to list though I will say that Patrick Rothfuss has impressed the hell out of me with THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS which is sort of the third book in a series that I've been enjoying thoroughly and that book alone has put him on my heroes list, writers-wise. J.D. Sallinger is high on that list as well. As a comic, you've gotcher George Carlin, your Lord Buckley, your Maria Bamford to look up to. As a martial artist, my own Master, Jin Ki Lim is right up there with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee and Sammo Hung. The heroes list forever shifts, expands, contracts. People right off the top drop off abruptly when it turns out they're secretly rapists or pedophiles. Others rise when I discover that they've done something magnificent with their success or their wealth of which I had been unaware. Always, though, I determine my heroes in any given field not by how successful they are financially, but by the extent to which their dedication to a craft or an art inspires me to work harder to improve and expand my own work.
If you were not Dylan Brody, which living artist/poet/comedian/author would you want to be and why? ~ Reb
This is both a wonderful question and a deeply weird one. I have no idea what I would want, were I not Dylan Brody. That might be syntactic nit-pickery, but I am Dylan Brody and that's what I do. Or a least part of what I do. If I could be some other artist/poet/comedian/author, whom I would choose is complicated and troubling to contemplate. Must I be limited to the living? I suppose the parameters of the question require it. When I put out my first home-burned CDs of story-telling the artwork on the front included a little text box that said, "part of my ongoing attempt to become the heterosexual David Sedaris," and indeed, I love his work and love that I have gotten to work with him. I would love to have a career much like his. But to BE him? Probably not. The same goes for Steve Martin, Jon Stewart, Marc Maron, Paul Provenza, Maria Bamford, Jim Butcher, Ann Patchett, Jenny Lawson . . . there are a great many people whose work I love, whose careers I admire or envy or both, but whom I would not wish to BE for various reasons; in all cases those reasons include this: anyone who raises my aspirations is clearly doing a perfectly good job of being him or herself and could only be diminished were I to be them. So, allow me to nestle myself back into the comfort zone of syntactic nit-pickery and say this: If I were not Dylan Brody, I suspect I would want to be Dylan Brody as I'm sure his work and his life would look wholly satisfactory from the outside and what with me not being him, he would be in dire need of someone willing to do so. Once I was he, of course, I would likely realize what an onerous task it really is and immediately regret my decision. There would just be so much damned syntactic nit-pickery involved.
Why don't you have one or more cats? You have two dogs and a turtle. ~ Bob Abrahams
I am very, very allergic to cats. They make my eyes itch and exacerbate my asthma terribly. When I met my lovely wife... whose name escapes me at the moment, she owned a beautiful orange striped tabby named Jojo Precious Tiger Kitty (The Cat Who Could Tell Time). I was less allergic to him than I am to most cats and we bonded quickly. He allowed me to pet him with my feet, which nobody else was allowed to do, and I believe he did this because he understood that it worked better for me and caused me fewer issues. The story of his time-telling abilities can be heard on my first CD, Brevity and can be found in the Chicken Soup For The Soul: Very Good/Very Bad Cat book a copy of which you are now eligible to win because you send me this question and another story about him shows up on one of my other CDs as part of a track called Alpha Male. Despite my allergies, my wife and I have come close to adopting stray cats a couple of times, and it could still happen if the right moment of bonding were to occur. I love animals significantly more than I love my ability to breathe.