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Welcome to the Dylan Brody Blog

  1. Shandling Memorial Dylan Brody 25-Apr-2016
  2. New Day Northwest Dylan Brody 31-Mar-2016
  3. A Thought on Middle Age Dylan Brody 15-Mar-2016
  4. Valentine's Day is About Love as YOU Practice It Dylan Brody 16-Feb-2016
  5. VPAC Promo Video Dylan Brody 05-Nov-2015

Shandling Memorial

Dylan Brody - Monday, April 25, 2016

                At the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles tonight, a vast array of humans gathered for a memorial for Garry Shandling. The evening was put together by Judd Apatow. There were a great many people of power and influence there, iconic performers, legendary producers and executive producers and – well – it was a huge-ass Hollywood shindig of a memorial in a big theater and it was followed by a cocktail party. My purpose is not to turn this into an exercise in name-droppery.

I seek here to live up to the example Garry set, the example of which I was reminded so movingly – and so hilariously – tonight. I seek to express authentically and honestly a subjective experience through my craft and to do it in as generous a spirit as possible.

Garry’s recalled words about his meditative practice and his attitude toward his exploration of Buddhism as well as the words of others at the memorial about Garry’s practice and attitude struck me as tremendously important. The quest for egolessness, and the struggle to remain present and open were his two-fold path to self-improvement. For all his prickliness, his neurosis, his difficult humanity, he tried to come from a place of love and acceptance.

My reasons for going to the memorial were complex. I did not know Garry well. I should say that up front. I recently commented to a comedic friend in a Facebook message exchange that I felt more affected by his death than I felt by him as a person when he was alive. The extent to which his death threw me emotionally came as something of a surprise.

I only met Shandling a couple of times. We met at an event at The Actor’s Gang once and had a light cocktail party conversation. I don’t think that really counts. Then, a year or two later, he sent me a private message through twitter when I was spewing out jokes at an alarming rate. He typed at me, “I hope you don’t mind me saying that you are on fire tonight.”  I did not mind.

I asked him if we could have a lunch sometime and he said yes, but it kept not getting scheduled. We stayed twitter-acquaintances, exchanging jokes and topping one-another’s lines in public back-and-forth intermittently. He began referring to himself as Uncle Garry, so I took it up as well. He gave me his e-mail address. I pushed for the lunch from time to time. At long last he said we should do it. We set a date and a place and a time. I was giddy.

In the morning, after I put on all my clothes – well, not ALL my clothes. That would just be uncomfortably binding.  As I got ready to leave, I tweeted off-handedly, “Meeting at Universal and then lunch with @GarryShandling. Some days it doesn’t suck to be me.” My then social media manager (whom I later realized was an alcoholic with all the erratic behavior and poor judgement that comes along with that disease when it is active) saw that e-mail and, thinking it a good way of helping to promote an upcoming show, posted on my timeline the time and date of the show and followed it with “How about a RT, @GarryShandling?”  I did not know about that one until a bit later.

When I got out of my car for lunch, I received a private message from Garry.  It said, “I’m on my way now. Get your shit together before I get there, Brody.”

I sent back a note saying that I did not know what that meant. He told me to look at my twitter feed. That’s when I saw the promotional tweet and realized that it must have felt as though on my way to meet with him properly for the first time, I had decided to trade on his name. I felt awful.

He met me at lunch and scolded me for twenty minutes. “Containment, man! Don’t tweet that you’re having lunch with me. You don’t know who I might’ve lied to and said I couldn’t meet them today ‘cause I’m sick or whatever.” He seemed genuinely angry, but mostly I think there was a deep layer of hurt at work. Other things he said in the course of his scolding included, "We're not going to be friends now." and "So, no more of the Uncle Garry stuff." He had just started to open to me, just enough to meet with me, and I had treated him as an opportunity. I apologized a lot. Eventually he was done scolding me.

Then we talked about comedy and meditation, his boxing, my martial arts. We talked for well over an hour, then he insisted on paying for lunch and we left.

I next saw him at a work-shopping premiere of Kelly Carlin’s solo show, A Carlin Home Companion. He smiled when he saw me and reached to shake my hand, but the smile seemed a bit forced; perhaps I projected that from the depths of my shame over our previous meeting. We chatted for a brief moment and then a photographer friend of mine asked Garry if she could get a photo of us together and he said sure.  By the time I left the party she had e-mailed me the photo.

From my car I e-mailed Garry.  I said that ordinarily I post such photos on my website, in my blog, on FB and so on, but that I wanted to respect his sensitivity to containment and would not do so if he preferred.

He responded a few minutes later with, “Go ahead and post it. Thanks for checking, pal.” I sent back a quick ‘thank you’ and posted the photo.


photo credit Cat Gwynn

Two days passed and then I received another e-mail from him.  It said, “I feel like you should have my phone number.” Then his phone number. Then, “Don’t ever call it.”

I didn’t know quite what to make of that, so I sent a note with my phone number and said, “You are allowed to use that number if you have reason.”

I never used his number. He never used my number. A couple of years passed. Then he died.

I heard about the memorial and wanted to be there. I didn’t realize quite how big an event it would be, how Hollywood, how high-powered. I just knew that his death weighed on me enough to take up an entire therapy session. The fact of it troubled me deeply. I wanted to be in a room with people who might be sharing some version of that experience.

Also, to some degree, I felt a desire to be part of the crowd of people that would be at such an event. I wanted to be an insider or at the very least be perceived as an insider. I didn’t know quite how big and Hollywood and high-powered the event would be, but I knew it would be big and Hollywood and high-powered to some extent.

I showed up with impure motives and layered ambivalence.

By the end of the evening I was reminded of important truths. The quest for fame, for recognition, for image improvement means nothing in the long run. The work that matters is the work on the self. The meditation, the reflection, receptivity and self-examination, these actions aimed at self-improvement not self-advancement are the ones that lead to better art, to a more valuable and valued contribution to the basic cause of human advancement.

A lot of big names gathered in that theater tonight and a lot of lesser-known ones as well. By the time the speakers were finished and the crowd had moved largely out to the lobby, we were all aware that it was a room full of grieving, loving hearts. The names mattered less than the shared sense of loss, the equality of spirit.

Then it turned into a party with catered platters of salmon on cucumber slices and a milling, pressing crowd. People who had been friends for years sniffed at one another for indications of change in status. I greeted some people I knew, hugged some people I knew well enough to feel inordinately close to and then left quickly before I succumbed to my own worst impulses.

I didn’t want to turn it into a networking event. I felt so connected to everyone there, it would have been a betrayal of the highest order had I taken advantage of that moment to turn those human connections into professional contacts.

I strive to be better. I strive to do better.

New Day Northwest

Dylan Brody - Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hey, guys.  Yesterday I did a one-day jaunt to Seattle to appear on New Day Northwest!  I had a great time talking to Margaret Larson, the host and enjoyed myself far more than I promoted the book I was there to promote.

 I'm having trouble embedding the video, but you can go see it in another frame by clicking HERE.

The book I was promoting, LAUGHS LAST is available once again at Amazon.com and through my very own Emporium of Fine Words and Phrases!

 Book Cover

Go buy a copy in paperback or Kindle format.

A Thought on Middle Age

Dylan Brody - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Over the past few months I've been bombarded with news of health issues facing friends and relatives and acquaintances. Brain cancers, and Lewy Body Dementia and auto-immune disorders and heart attacks. Hospital stays and depressive episodes, suicide attempts and successes, prognoses and deaths.

In the middle of it all, I'm doing fine. I stay up late to write. I take naps when I want. I spend time at the dog park nearly every day with my beautiful beasts. I train a martial arts student a few times a week on a bright, green lawn where I have befriended the squirrels to such an extent that I've gotten to touch three of them and one frequently settles down to watch our workout.

The presidential primaries seem horrific. As I type this it seems increasingly apparent that my favorite candidate, Bernie Sanders will lose the primary race to Hillary Clinton who I think will be a fine, if somewhat innocuous president, maintaining the foreign and economic policies that have been terrible throughout my adult life while continuing the gentle push toward the left on some key social issues domestically. On the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump seems to be making a real push toward fascism and it seems to me possible -- though not yet probable -- that if he wins the nomination and the Republican Party does not find a way to deliberately split its own vote to prevent the catastrophe a Trump Presidency would surely entail, he might take the White House and with it our decency as a nation.

In the middle of it all, I'm doing fine. A low-level depression nags at me through the comforting effects of my pharmaceutical prescriptions, but it's just enough to keep me aware that there is much to be sad about, not enough to render me paralyzed with melancholy. My career moves along at its usual slow-growth pace and now and then the invisible hand of the marketplace surprises me with a delightfully unexpected reach around.

Here's what dawns on me this evening. As people around me sicken and vanish, as the politics of a failing nation spin out into unraveling darkness, I must cast what light I can. The only way I can meet these newly realized sources of dismay is to open my heart farther than I have to date. I must allow myself to love more easily and more widely. Only by allowing an ever-expanding circle to share what joy and warmth I have can I -- can any of us -- combat the ever-pressing impulse to allow our worlds to shrink with the passing of each pained friend, the impulse to close our doors against the certainty of pain, to harden our spirits against a vast sorrowscape.

For all the loss I might face, for all the rage of the rising right, for all the pain I feel and see and cannot cure, still and simply, I love you all. Doing so is the only path I see toward hope.

Valentine's Day is About Love as YOU Practice It

Dylan Brody - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentine’s day worked out perfectly.

I made reservations at a fancy restaurant.  My wife and I took showers and shaved, I my face, she her legs, and we dressed up nicely for a romantic dinner.  We timed the showering and dressing so that we would still have time to walk the dogs together before leaving the house so that we would not need to feel rushed at dinner, worried that the beasts were at home, crossing their legs and waiting uncomfortably for our return.

About halfway down the block, my wife noticed a stray beagle with a tag and a collar walking alone.  She gave me both of our dogs’ leashes and set about coaxing the stray to come to her.  I took our dogs home.

A few minutes later, Nancy joined me along with the very friendly lost beagle who had clearly sought to make himself frightening to any animals that might threaten him in the world of the feral by rolling in excrement and garbage to amplify his olfactory sphere of intimidation.  We bathed him as best we could. It did not solve the problem of his horrific smell.

Instead of going to our fancy dinner, we drove to the East Valley Animal Shelter.  The dog, whom I had begun calling Bernard, sat in my wife’s lap and occasionally walked over into my lap as I drove.  By the time we arrived at the 24-hour intake desk, I had bonded with the horrifically smelly little beast and found myself reluctant to leave him there until we knew for sure that his family could be located.

The guy behind the desk scanned Bernard and found that he had a chip. His family would be called and notified. He would be fine. Also, his name turned out not be Bernard, but McQueen.

We said goodbye to the little guy and went home. Our reservation had long since expired and our dress-up for dinner clothes smelled of feral beagle and loss.

We changed into stay-at-home clothes and watched things we had on the DVR while we ate microwaved nachos with melty jack cheese and canned Trader Joe’s chili and sour cream.

It was the most Brody-appropriate Valentine’s evening ever. Love, people.  It’s all about the love. 

 

VPAC Promo Video

Dylan Brody - Thursday, November 05, 2015
Dylan Brody shares his favorites from David Sedaris

What is your favorite work by David Sedaris? Dylan Brody, Purveyor of Fine Words and Phrases lets you know his! Join these two for an evening full of humor and wit NOV 21ST. Tickets--> http://goo.gl/HuahuC

Posted by Valley Performing Arts Center on Thursday, November 5, 2015

One Night! Three Shows

Dylan Brody - Friday, October 16, 2015

 



Intermissions will be catered for crew and audience alike

Wednesday, August 5th. 11pm

Dylan Brody - Saturday, August 01, 2015

Kitchen Spider of Love

Dylan Brody - Monday, July 20, 2015

          This is not a blog post about “EEEEEW! A SPIDER!”  This is not a blog post about, “THIS BIT ME! WHAT IS IT?”  This is a blog post about how wonderful my wife is.

 

          About a year ago I noticed this spider building a web in the little track space at the base of the window just over our kitchen sink. At the time it was too small for me to get a decent picture of it, but it was big enough to catch my attention and hold my interest as I did the dishes and watched it for any sign of aggression.  I called to my wife to ask her if she wanted me to kill it or take it outside, although I sort of hoped she wouldn’t because I had watched it for a few minutes by then and I had developed a small sort of affection for it.  My wife shouted back, “It’s not an it. It’s a she. And leave her alone. She’s the kitchen spider.”

          I said, “You’ve given her a name, haven’t you?”

          She said, “She’s the kitchen spider. She doesn’t need a name.”

          You cannot imagine how much I love this woman.  It gives me great joy to share a home with her, two dogs and a kitchen spider.

In Praise of the Destination

Dylan Brody - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Here is my winning performance at Write Club L.A. from a couple of weeks ago.  I was to present a piece on the prompt "Destination" against the lovely Cricket Rumley who was to write on "journey."

 

The next WRITE CLUB L.A. is in TWO WEEKS!

Posted by WRITE CLUB Los Angeles on Monday, June 29, 2015

A Moment of Delight

Dylan Brody - Thursday, June 18, 2015

As some of you may know, a few days a week I teach martial arts privately in a park in the San Fernando Valley.  I get there early whenever I can so that I can do my asthmatically adjusted warmups unselfconsciously, stretch out, and then sit and meditate amongst the squirrels until my student arrives, thus creating something of an illusion that I am always there, that I am always at full flexibility and that I am never out of breath.

School is out for summer.  Kids move through the park in matching day-camp tee shirts, herded by young adult counselors.  Today, as I sat in stillness, I overheard the following exchange between a counselor and a small (six or seven year-old) boy whom I assume to be Nathan.

COUNSELOR: Straight lines!  Straight lines!

NATHAN: Never!

COUNSELOR: Nathan. Straight lines!  Let's go!

NATHAN: You will never . . . take . . . our . . . FREEEEDOOOOMMMMMM!

COUNSELOR:  Nathan! Now!

NATHAN: (very softly) Fascist.

I think I love that kid.  I think I might have been that kid.

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