Comedy and Courage

By Miraclejoy Curtis

As I read through my next interview assignment, I screeched with excitement. “The Quincy Jones? The world renowned musician, humanitarian and producer? No way! I get to meet him. Wait, I didn’t know he attended CWU! We are going to be best friends!”

“Well, not that Quincy Jones,” my supervisor said. “However, he is just as great! Why don’t you do a bit of research; you’ll see what I mean.”

With curiosity, I immediately began to discover who this ‘Quincy Jones’ was all about: A former Central Washington University student with an undeniable stand-up comedy talent. But it didn’t end there. Quincy is fighting cancer – Mesothelioma, a cancer cause by asbestos. After being diagnosed and doctors telling Jones that he only had a year to live, Quincy wanted nothing more but to pursue his dreams of comedy.

Family and friends recognized Quincy’s potential and supported him by creating a Kickstarter account which exceeded the five-thousand-dollar goal. Soon after, “The Ellen Show” executive producers reached out to Quincy to share his story, Ellen was so inspired that she called for HBO or Netflix to help Quincy Jones achieve his own special. A week later, Jones was invited back to the show and Ellen announced the best news he had received in a very long time: “HBO is going to air your special.”

This news changed his life forever. Since then, Jones wrote his first stand-up comedy special, ‘Burning the Light’ on HBO (for anyone in need of a good cry). Also, Jones has been on many stages in Los Angeles, where he resides, and has made an appearance on the Conan show. Today, he is a traveling stand-up comic working on his latest material for his new podcast and writing his own news show.

Coming up on Feb. 24, Jones will be returning to his old stomping grounds: Ellensburg, Washington, where he will be celebrated by Central Washington University’s alumni, students, faculty and staff. We are anticipating his stand up performance will be filled with witty humor and a warm smile. Get ready for some open mic karaoke starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center Theatre, followed by an evening of knee slapping jokes with Quincy. The show is free and open to the public.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to interview the inspiring Quincy Jones. Check out how it went as we shared laughs.


Q: Where are you from?

A: Seattle, Washington.

 

Q: You went to Central, how’d you like it?

A: Yes…I got what I needed out of it. Central Washington is an amazing college and a great community that supports its students, and I was honored to be a part of it.

 

Q: Are you excited to come back to little ole Ellensburg?

A: Am I ever. There’s always that nervousness that there are butts in the seats. I hope people come out and see what I am up to now. Feels good to be coming home.

 

Q: As far as being a comedian, when did you know you were funny?

A: I’ve always known I was funny. I use my humor to diffuse tense situations. I always enjoy making folks laugh. When I first got on stage I was 21. Then I got back on when I was 25 and haven’t stopped since.

 

Q: I understand that you were diagnosed with Mesothelioma. How did that influence your perspective on comedy, how did that change your perspective on life?

A: When your mortality comes in perspective and you think about what is going on in your life you decide what is going to be best. For me, I didn’t have a girlfriend, kids or a pet. I just focused on what I’d been doing which is my craft… Which is comedy. I had some friends that made a Kickstarter, which went viral. Then, my cousin sent a letter into Ellen and I got an interview with Ellen producers and the rest is history!

 

Q: Before appearing on the Ellen and Conan show what was your stand-up career like?”

A: “I did one thousand sets in 2013, which was me deciding to get on stage three times a night… and I feel like that experience prepared me for when luck hits. If I hadn’t been through everything that I’ve been through, who knows if I would’ve been ready for Ellen. There are so many factors that make me realize how fortunate I am.

 

Q: What keeps you motivated?

A: My mom had cancer, I watched her and drew from her strength. While attending Central, I commuted every weekend to see her and she was the one who paved [the way] for me to be strong. I had a support system but I really drew from my mom.

 

Q: I enjoyed your HBO special! Why the title, ‘Burning the Light’?

A: ’Burning the Light’ means going longer than your supposed to go. And that’s what I am doing.

 

Q: Who are your comedic influences?

A: There are so many people I draw inspiration from. Rory Scovel, he is the first guy I saw on stage having fun, he’s amazing. He is always pushing the boundaries. Tony Baker, Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal, Beth Stelling. Also, my friends and open mics. It’s an ongoing process.

 

 

Q: How do you hype yourself up for a show?

A: Listening to music! Drake – Underground Kings, JAY Z – Encore. I’m always excited to be on that stage, to tell jokes that I’ve been working hard on.

 

Q: Do you talk about cancer in your standup?

A: I only do so in my HBO Special. When I come to Central, I plan to entertain, educate and let people have fun.

 

Q: What is next in your career?

A: I am starting a Podcast called, ‘Random Thoughts.’ I am also working on a news show of my own. Just working on everything, really. Always staying busy.

 

We Are What America Looks Like: Week-long celebration and remembrance of MLK Jr. on campus

By: Julia Moreno

In the upcoming week, we will be celebrating the impact Martin Luther King Jr. had on the civil rights movement through a series of events happening around campus. Not only will we be looking back on the work he’s done but we’ll be looking forward on how to continue work on social justice issues.

The week kicked off with a fantastic performance last weekend by two CWU students called “The Mountaintop.” This play re-imagined King’s last night on earth, in which a stranger forced King to confront his destiny and legacy.

This Wednesday and Thursday, CWU student volunteers will lead groups of local elementary students to think about King’s work during “ Make a Difference Day” activities including roleplaying of civil rights skits and making signs for a peace march. The kids can take back the signs to their schools. Interested in volunteering? Contact Kim Jellison, program manager in the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE).

Manuel Rodriguez, director of CLCE said the Make a Difference Day event has grown over the last eight years. Originally, the event started out with just inviting fifth graders to CWU’s campus. Now, we have around 300 students between second and fifth grade coming to learn more about what they can do to, well, make a difference.

“(They will be) creating posters, learning about MLK, having a discussion about civil rights and finding ways to apply that knowledge and be able to live that currently,” he said.

To end the week, there will be a peace march and remembrance program at the CWU Student Union and Recreation Center.

“It’s really a time for us to more fully and intentionally remember the hard work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement,” he said. “There are a lot of things we need to do in terms of social justice that affect us every day. It’s always important to remember that and know that we can still do more.”

The march is at 3:30 p.m. in the SURC Pit. The remembrance program is at 4 p.m. in the SURC theatre. In addition to selected readings, skits and spoken word by CWU students, the Townsend School of Music and Arts Concert Choir as well as Robin Henderson and Friends will come to perform on campus.

Sam Townsend, minister and founder of the Townsend School of Music and Arts, said he and the rest of choir were honored to come perform on CWU’s campus.

He will be singing with the choir group and plans on featuring songs that will fit in with the theme of continuing social justice work in the current day and age.

“We stay away from songs that talk about ‘The Dream’ because I think we’ve talked about the dream enough. At this point there is a necessary awakening that needs to happen. The songs that we are bringing are really songs that are a call to action,” Townsend said.

He said the choir group is excited to have the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ in a way that promotes love, unity and, of course, action to change.

“In the very lyrics of the song, they call for you to make a decision. They call for you to contemplate to think of your motives and motivation behind what you say and what you do. The music drives you to a joyful place, it wants you to do something,” he said. “It’s our hope through the music that when the music stops, there’s action to follow.”

 

CWU Students Rise on Stage in “The Mountaintop”

The stage is set; one bed in the center, one desk off to the side with one chair loosely pulled away from it. One waste bin sits next to the desk with just enough paper crumpled inside adjacent to the nightstand with one telephone (the real kind, cord and all) perfectly placed to look casual and reminiscent of a 1960s motel.

Off-stage are the primary players, nervously waiting for their cues but ready and prepared to make their mark. One man, one woman, one powerful show ready to tell the audience an imaginative story of a man who was a driving force behind the civil rights movement.

CWU’s take on the play “The Mountaintop“, which highlights a fictional idea of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night before his assassination, opened in the McConnell Tower Theatre on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The original play premiered in London in 2009, pulling in astonishing reviews and sold out shows which ultimately led to the widespread production of the show.

The entirety of the play is set in the hours just prior to King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The motel room, number 306, and the dialogue between King and fictional maid, Camae, serves as the basis of the single act play with no set changes or additional characters.

Although the role is a mighty one to fill, you’d never notice the nerves and first night jitters coming from Hiko Addison, who plays King. That is, if he didn’t tell you.

“I was so nervous I could barely hold the cigarette,” Addison said of an early scene after the final dress rehearsal.

Throughout the play Addison shares the stage with fellow CWU student Jaeana Davis, who plays the energetic and mysterious Camae. Though her character’s views differ somewhat from King’s, the contrast on stage brings forth some visible conflict and allows insight into King’s personal life outside of the public eye.

Going into the play, knowing the premise behind it and the message(s) that you will likely pull from it, to simply call it “powerful” and “moving” can’t even begin to justify the emotion these two exude on stage together.

Without giving too much away, all I can say is, go see it while you can. Brave the cold and the snow. Embrace the history of the civil rights movement and the story being told here this weekend.

The words, the images, the feeling of it all (especially the final moments of King on stage) will stick with you through the rest of the night, if not the remainder of the weekend.

Showtimes: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. // Sunday, 2:00 p.m.

Price: Free

Photos by: McKenzie Lakey

PUSH initiative helps hungry students

 

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Campus Kitchen Members: (l to r) Danielle Revoyr (Treasurer), Jessi Wanamaker (Vice President), Derek Nutter (President), Molly Woodcock (Secretary), Zella Hanson (Senator)

 

By: Julia Moreno

I first heard about Presidents United to Solve Hunger during an interview for another topic for the Publicity Center. I thought it was pretty interesting to have a free, anonymous food bank for students. I guess I never really knew just how many students face hunger, insecurities about food or homelessness on campus. But it’s not really something that’s talked about in casual conversation, you know? When I think of what college students complain about, generally it’s homework, weekend plans or how hard a certain class is.

So when I decided to do more research I found that 6 to 7 percent of students on CWU’s campus face hunger, food insecurities and homelessness. That’s 700 students that don’t have food at night to eat. Kind of crazy right? I talked to Andrea Saavedra, VP of equity and community affairs for the ASCWU and she explained her role in it. Her goal when she was campaigning for the position was to connect PUSH with ASCWU related events. So she and the rest of the ASCWU officers pair up with PUSH and donate food to the food banks around campus. She’s really passionate about helping people in need so she’s really PUSH-ing (get it?) this topic and I think it’s great.

And you might wonder where the food banks are, currently there are six pick-up locations around campus:

  • Center for Diversity & Social Justice – SURC 250/253
  • Associated students of CWU office – SURC 236
  • Bouillon Hall 204
  • Hertz Hall 209
  • Purser Hall 132 (outside)
  • Black Hall 101

I think this program is fantastic. It’s really inspiring and frankly, heart-warming that the CWU campus cares so much about its students that free, anonymous food banks are around campus for anyone to take food if they’re hungry. I also talked to Katrina Whitney, assistant director of the CDSJ, and she told me that food insecurity is a social justice project that she and the student workers in the office are really interested in.

Her quote really stuck with me, she said: “We feel like any way we can create an environment where students feel safe, they feel they have their nutritional health taken care of as well as their psychological health then they are going to be academically successful.”

I believe it, food is really important and it’s important that the students here on campus are doing well. The PUSH initiative is one of the most genuine and coolest things we have on campus. And students should never feel ashamed for being hungry.

Another person who had a huge part in getting the ball rolling for PUSH is Mindie Dieu, interim executive director for the School of Education at CWU. She said she knows students who have talked to her about having to choose between paying for rent or buying food. She has peanut butter in her desk for students who just need a quick snack and she said she often buys a gift card for students out of her own pocket.

The people here at CWU are always willing to listen and to help in any way they can.

If you want to help students, you can donate! There are three drop-off locations:

  • Brooks Library
  • CDSJ – SURC 250/253
  • CWU Foundation Office (off campus at 421 N. Main St.)

For more information, you can visit the website: www.cwu.edu/push

 

 

 

Curtain Call: CWU’s Broadway Red Curtain Revue

It’s not every day that the best of Broadway is brought to your campus and performed to a level that mirrors the pros–but that’s exactly what happened in the McConnell Theatre this past weekend.

From the opening number of “Live in Living Color” to the energetic ending of “Footloose,” the show never wavered in entertainment as the CWU Theatre Ensemble tackled some of the greatest Broadway numbers to grace the stage.

Photos by: McKenzie Lakey

Show Highlights:

It’s incredibly difficult to narrow down the show to a few favorites, but looking back there are a couple that I carried with me long after the show was over. While all are incredible, these drew me into the music, into the moment and left me humming their tunes for the next several days.

“21 Guns” (American Idiot)-Directed by Jeff Rowden

Jeff Rowden’s version of this song beautifully portrays the internal conflict of a single individual–something that separates it from the original meaning and performance by Green Day (which serves more as an ode to a fallen comrade than to an internal conflict).

The constant contrast in choreography, with Jeff on one side of the stage and Chris S. on the other, really brought the piece to life. Because of the contrast, for the first few moments of the number you would believe that the show is going to remain about two individuals.

However, near the end Jeff and Chris stand side-by-side at attention, saluting in the direction of the audience. This is where the true revelation that the characters are one in the same occurs. As Jeff’s character collapses to his knees in defeat, Chris’s hand is lowered to cover his face before he his carried away by the cast and a further internal struggle ensues.

Perhaps the reason I connected to this song on a personal level was because of the meaning behind the lyrics or simply because I have known the song from years of being driven towards alternative music. Regardless, I don’t think I have ever read into the lyrics of “21 Guns” as much as I have in the days following the show.

Were it not for the choreography, beautiful visuals and vocals that unfolded on the stage, I would have never pulled so much emotion from this song. It made me question the way that songs are interpreted by every listener and how they can be visually represented. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to that song again without feeling the same way that I did the first time I saw it come to life.

“All That Jazz” (Chicago)-Directed by Casey Adam Craig

Another number that was displayed beautifully was “All That Jazz.” I grew up watching (and admiring) the talent of every member in every song of both the play and movie. I’m not going to lie, I thought about pursuing theater when I was about seven based solely on the fact that I fell in love with the soundtrack of Chicago. (Luckily I came to my senses and realized I’m much better off in the audience or off-stage with a camera…)

There was such an incredible amount of energy and passion that poured throughout the cast’s version of this song. The crescendo of the lead vocals and the underlying chorus of chants from the cast exploded into a ripple of energy that could catch even the most well-versed Chicago fan off-guard.

Ultimately this was a great way to cap off the first act and was the perfect teaser as to what’s to come in this year’s spring production of Chicago.

 

*Virtual Standing Ovation*

I have to admit, I didn’t go to this show just once. After opening night I decided to grab another ticket and head back for round two. Watching the show for a second time I realized how much confidence the cast had after opening night and noticed that every single person on that stage absolutely soared with confidence. Their lifts were smoother, their timing was cleaner and their harmonies were more in tune.

To put it simply, I was blown away. Not only by our Hype Street Team members–Jakob Wachter and Aubrey Schultz–who were in the Revue and did a wonderful job as well, but by the entire cast.

Overall, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated the cast of the show and the incredible amount of work that they placed into every number that they produced. The fact that they are able to pull off a show so beautifully in addition to their classes, work schedules and personal lives is astonishing. Keep it up, CWU Theatre!

Student veterans talk about their transition from military service to student life

In honor of Veterans Day tomorrow, a veteran’s panel was held at Central Washington University in the Student Union and Recreation Center Pit. Four individuals spoke about their military experience. They were all CWU students who served in the military.

I wasn’t really sure what I expected when I first heard about the panel. I had heard veterans talk before in school but for the most part they were older and talked about wars I had only read about in text books in history class. To say it was surprising to see people who were close to my age talk about how hard it was to transition between the military and civilian life would be an understatement. I think there’s this idea in our society that veterans are strong and capable individuals. It’s almost like we all think ‘of course veterans would be okay, why wouldn’t they be?’ And they are strong and capable but I think there’s this idea that they’ll be okay no matter what. When in reality, everyone needs help once in a while–even the strongest individuals.

Two students said the panel was hard to do because opening up to people is difficult and they both said the experiences they felt were hard to convey to people who had never gone through the military. I think it’s important to start a dialogue on what veterans feel and how they can transition smoothly in college and it definitely helped me understand them and what they are going through.

One student in the audience asked how people who aren’t veterans could make their lives easier and I felt this was a great question to ask them because it gives us a chance to make CWU a better place for everyone and make everyone feel welcome. The veterans answered that patience and support are two of the most important things to help them transition more smoothly.

I didn’t realize how difficult it is for a veteran to find a job after getting out of the service. One student spoke about how even if he had experience for a job, he would need a degree. Additionally, I learned there was a federally mandated program for military members before they get out to help them transition but as one student said, it wasn’t very helpful and no one took it very seriously. One student veteran spoke on how alone he felt because no one (except veterans) really understand what it’s like to go through the experiences he had gone through.

The students were all different ages as well so it gave everyone listening a broad view of what veterans feel and go through on a daily basis. It allowed all of us in the audience to understand the hardships veterans feel. I hope everyone felt like they could understand student veterans just a little bit better and can help them if they ever need help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hyped for Homecoming

CWU’s campus is about to experience a new level of school spirit in the next several days. So what is this event that brings our Wildcat community out from their cozy dens and into all of the fun? Homecoming!!

125 years of Wildcat pride are culminating into one fun-filled week. So get your homework done and brace yourselves because there isn’t a single event that you’re going to want to miss!


Wildcat Homecoming Events

Pull out your planners and get your pencils ready! Here is the full list of events for Homecoming Week:

Monday, Oct. 10

Spirit Door & Hall Decorating Contest
Judges will check out displays of Wildcat pride throughout CWU residence halls, campus departments and downtown businesses and reward the displays with the most spirit. Winners will be announced on Wednesday.

Monday Movie Madness: Secret Life of Pets
SURC Theatre | 7 & 9:30 p.m. | Free w/CWU ID, $3 General Admission
Catch these adorable furry friends face their wildest adventure yet! Bring the little ones along for this family-friendly feature.

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Tuesday, Oct. 11

Mr. and Ms. Central
SURC Ballroom | 7 p.m. | Free | Open to the public
Winners from each residence hall will all-out-battle for the coveted titles of Mr. and Ms. Central in this long-standing Homecoming Week tradition! Everyone is invited to enjoy this epic talent competition.

Who knows, you may even see Wellington show off a few of his talents…


Wednesday, Oct. 12

Oktoberfest Dinner
Holmes Dining | 4:30-7 p.m. | $14 +tax  (meal discounts apply) | Open to the public
Grab a friend and head down to Holmes Dining for a delicious, authentic German feast!
What’s on the menu?
Meat & Cheese Platter
German Harvest Salad
Potato Pancakes
Bratwurst & Sauerkraut
Grilled Onions
German Chocolate Cake
Ice Cream
Spiced Cider
And so much more!
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If this menu doesn’t make you hungry, we don’t know what will…

Wellington’s Wildfire
Alder Recreation Complex | 6 – 9 p.m. | Free | Open to CWU students and alumni
Gather around a bonfire and celebrate being a Wildcat! 88.1 The ‘Burg will provide music as students and alumni enjoy a BBQ, the Challenge Course, games and contests while hanging out with CWU athletes and friends.


Thursday, Oct. 13

Volleyball vs. Alaska Anchorage
Nicholson Pavilion | 7 p.m. | $8, $5, CWU students free w/ ID

Women’s Soccer vs. Saint Martin’s
CWU Soccer Complex | 3 p.m. | $6, $3, CWU students free w/ ID


Friday, Oct. 14

ASCWU Clubs Fair
SURC E Patio, SURC 137 | 1-3 p.m. | Free
Take the time to find the perfect club for you on campus!

Homecoming Dance
SURC Ballroom | 9 p.m. | $5 | Open to CWU students
This year’s dance will send everyone back in time to celebrate Central’s 125 years.


Saturday, Oct. 15

Wildcat Color 5K
SURC East Patio | 10 a.m. | $15 per runner | Open to the public
Register by Oct. 7 for a free long sleeve event shirt.

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Women’s Rugby vs. Quinnipac
Rugby Pitch | 11 a.m. | $6, $3, CWU students free w/ ID

Wildcat Pep Rally
SURC East Patio | Noon | Free | Open to the public
Bring your school spirit, meet at the wildcat statue and cheer on the CWU Wildcats.

Football vs. Western Oregon University
Nicholson Pavilion | 1 p.m. | $12, $10, $7, $5, CWU students free w/ ID

Volleyball vs. Alaska Fairbanks
Nicholson Pavilion | 7 p.m. | $8, $5, CWU students free w/ ID

Comedian Brian Regan
SURC Ballroom | 7 & 9:30 p.m. | $20 CWU Student w/ ID, $35 GA, $45 Reserved
Share some laughs with fellow Wildcats at either of Brian Regan’s shows on Saturday night as he entertains with his hilarious observational comedy. Get your tickets at http://www.cwu.edu/tickets.

Can’t wait to see you there, Wildcats! 🐾