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Posted July 22, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Comedian will perform at Shenandoah music festival

Dan Kamin makes a comedic presentation
Guest speaker Dan Kamin makes a comedic presentation about stress relief at the Rotary Club in Strasburg on Tuesday. Dennis Grundman/Daily


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By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Dan Kamin is probably the Strasburg Rotary Club's only guest speaker to drop his trousers mid-meeting.

The brief flash of red boxers with white polka dots was met with roars of laughter before Kamin scurried out of the room at the Hotel Strasburg on Tuesday.

The physical comedian is performing at the Shenandoah Valley Musical Festival's Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony on Friday. As the Classical Clown, he will interrupt guest conductor Grant Cooper's steering of the Fairfax Symphony. He will introduce two of Chaplin's films, which will be accompanied by new music from Cooper.

When music festival Executive Director Dennis Lynch asked Kamin to give a talk to the Rotarians, he didn't want to.

"I'm basically a mime," he said. "As you know, mimes don't talk."

What's more, people hate mimes, Kamin said.

"The public has turned against my art form, which kind of stresses me out, to tell you the truth," he said. "I used to be a really high-stressed person."

That is, until he found a book called "Stressbusters," Kamin said. He took the Rotary Club through a series of simple exercises to work out some stress. Club members gamely joined in.

From there, Kamin become unraveled -- his suit ripped in several places, he choked on water, he broke his glasses, leading him to misread passages of "Stressbusters," giving them a naughty edge. All that eventually led to his pants falling off, and the hoots of laughter from the audience.

Kamin had one woman going for at least a little while -- a note she left at her seat showed she'd written down "Stressbusters" and its author's name before crossing them out.

"I know you hear a lot of speakers," Kamin said. "I thought I would portray a speaker having a very bad day. Comedy is all about a man in trouble. Trouble is not very funny when it happens to you, but it's very funny when it happens to the other fellow."

His physical comedy inspiration came from Chaplin, whose movies he first saw in college.

"This guy could make people laugh without talking," Kamin said. "I thought, whoa, I would like to learn that."

In an interview after the meeting, the Pittsburgh-based humorist said training Robert Downey Jr. for his role in "Chaplin," and Johnny Depp for the physical comedy of "Benny and Joon," were "a dream come true."

Physical comedy still exists in film today, Kamin said, "but we have lost the magic of comedy and skillful moves." Besides Chaplin, he admires the moves of Fred Astaire and W.C. Fields.

"They are the bright spots that illuminate ways that we want to move through life, or they just give us a laugh or the break from the humdrum," Kamin said.

Lynch hopes the show will attract a less-traditional audience, "some people out there who wouldn't in 4 million years dream of going to a symphonic concert."

"It's a classical concert gone wrong," Kamin said. "That's really fun. I love turning people on to music they don't think they're going to like."

Kamin also is putting on a magic of movement workshop for children 8-18 at the old Edinburg Middle School on Thursday.

For more information about Kamin, visit his Web site, www.dankamin.com.

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