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Have a Little Character

by Nook Schoenfeld • in
  • Editor's Note
  • July 2018
• Created: July 13, 2018

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I love to see people who have fun at their jobs. People that have fun in our business while poking fun at it simultaneously. Let’s face it, we’re not curing cancer, just entertaining folks. I always thought that people who willingly got involved in the entertainment business are not like other folks. We are our own 1 percent. Too often, I see people getting overly serious about their jobs. It gets to the point that it bothers them that others have fun at their gigs, which is something I find slightly disturbing, yet kind of amusing in its own way.

Vanguard’s “Institute of Technology” at InfoComm 2018

‡‡         Embracing the Outlandish

One of those people who’s not afraid to work outside the box and encourages others to realize their creative dreams in any way they feel comfortable is Michael Wiener, the proprietor of Vanguard Displays. I met this character at InfoComm in 2017 when he was hawking video gear while wearing a red pimp suit. Being the type of guy I am, I was immediately attracted to his booth and went to see what snake oils he was peddling (along with video tiles).

This year I stumbled across the Vanguard Institute of Technology at InfoComm — an enclosed lab of sorts well hidden behind a fortress of white walls. Attractive lab assistants donning white coats were there to greet passersby and invite them into their lair to view their new products. Then, as if Einstein had been resurrected, out comes Michael from the booth entrance. He immediately came over and welcomed me introducing himself as a German mad scientist (a la Dr. Frankenstein), while escorting me into the booth. He was amusing as he stayed in character and I could tell he was having fun. He did have some pretty amazing gear on display.

‡‡         Anything but Boring

Among my favorite characters are Will and Frank from Blizzard Lighting. Will refers to himself as “Chairman of the Bored.” But they are, of course, anything but boring — the kind of guys who stand out in a crowd, especially when they show up at the Parnelli Awards in colorful outfits. Last week they hired a new marketing fellow to represent their gear and they sent me a press release introducing their new employee as “our Minister of Propaganda.” Now this has zero to deal with the current government; it’s just their way of being amusingly different and funny. So I posted the news online (and it’s also on page 18). Later that day, some person wrote in with their undies in a bunch, calling it unprofessional and tacky. They did not see the humor. To me, this seems like a guy who doesn’t know how to enjoy life and sweats the small stuff.

The word “character” may be defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” But in real life, we call interesting people “characters” because they stand out and aren’t like most others. I have been branded by many as a character, and I wear that like a badge of honor. LD’s such as Smeeton, Morse, Keller and Cosmo are certainly original characters. I like working with lighting and video vendors who are characters as well.

‡‡         Different? Maybe That’s Okay

Steven “Creech” Anderson is a buddy of mine who rents lighting gear. Once anyone has met Creech (he got his nickname because he bears a resemblance to the Creature from the Black Lagoon) you never forget him. He’s got a big laugh and a bigger heart. He’s quite vocal in his support of conservative values (read: loves our prez) in a business dominated by liberal theater arts types. But when it comes to business, he has your best interests at heart and does a great job looking after his clients. He may not always have the best gear and guys available for a gig, but many of my friends use his company whenever they can, just because he’s one helluva guy. A true character.

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