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Three Comedy Pros From Cleveland in Library Chat

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 15, 2013

The official word: Public Library and LAND studio welcome three talented and hilarious personalities to the Louis Stokes Wing of the Cleveland Public Library on Thursday, April 25th at 6:30 p.m. to talk about what it means to be from Cleveland and how a regional personality and perspective takes shape. Modern Family’s executive producer Dan O’Shannon, Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown, and Dave Hill a comedian, writer, and frequent contributor to This American Life on NPR will engage in a conversation moderated by local public radio host and Plain Dealer columnist Mike McIntyre.

This will be a lighthearted dialogue titled Who We Are: Comedy, Tragedy, & Cleveland. Cleveland has taken a hit to its self-esteem over the past several decades. An identity stemming from unemployment, government corruption, bleak weather, and subpar sports teams have left Clevelanders explaining to the outside world why anyone would choose to live here. Through decades of common experiences, including a history of hearing Cleveland as the punch line in national media and a general feeling of being the underdog, Clevelanders have weathered the negativity and formed a collective and powerful identity that is forever hopeful.

Our great city has endured a lot – and with struggle comes humor. Based on Brown’s, O’Shannon’s, and Hill’s common experiences as former Clevelanders, they will examine the development of Cleveland’s identity through the collective experiences of the people who live here.

This free program is produced by the Cleveland Public Library and LAND studio as part of the ongoing Lockwood Thompson Dialogues. The Lockwood Thompson Dialogues are generously supported through an endowment of the late Lockwood Thompson, who was a trustee of the Cleveland Public Library and an avid supporter of the arts.

“We are excited to bring a humorous, lively, and reflective conversation to Cleveland Public Library,” says Felton Thomas, Director of Cleveland Public Library. “The Library continues to be a resource for Clevelanders and we’re happy to be adding to the regional dialogue about how we create our identity and become a community with a strong personality. I hope that people will see the Library as a place that captures the storytelling of our collective struggles, triumphs, humor, and joy within our local culture.”

As a follow-up to this conversation, Cleveland Public Library and LAND studio will be collaborating with the design firm Agnes Studio to develop a book that features Clevelanders sharing the good, bad, and the ugly of what makes Cleveland unique. People interested in contributing to the book can contact Tiffany Graham at

To learn more about these events, visit or


Dan O’Shannon has written for some of the most acclaimed network comedies including Newhart, Cheers, Frasier, and Modern Family. His awards include but are not limited to four Emmys, two Golden Globes, five WGA awards and an Academy Award nomination. O'Shannon has also lectured at UCLA, USC, and other colleges, and has taught a course on writing at Cleveland State University, from which he holds an honorary doctorate. In addition to writing for television since 1985, Dan O'Shannon is the author of a book about comedy theory, What Are You Laughing At? A Comprehensive Guide to the Comedic Event, published by Continuum International Publishing Group (2012). The book examines what comedy is and why we respond to it the way we do and has been adopted for classroom use by universities across the country.

Yvette Nicole Brown currently stars as the opinionated but sweet Shirley in the NBC comedy Community. As a young girl growing up in East Cleveland, Brown dreamed of a career on stage and screen. She began her entertainment career as recording artist while still in her teens. After an impromptu audition for Michael Bivins she was instantly signed to Motown Records.
Upon graduation from the University of Akron, she packed her bags and followed her dreams to Los Angeles. Brown has emerged as one of the most sought after character actresses in Hollywood, known for her memorable appearances on numerous hit TV shows and feature films. Aside from her current work on Community, Brown can be heard every Saturday as Cookie on the cartoon Pound Puppies, which begins its third season on the Hub network this summer. Brown currently resides in Los Angeles.

DAVE HILL is a comedian, writer, and musician originally from Cleveland but now living in New York City. He has written for The New York Times, Salon, Huffington Post, NY Daily News, and Guitar World among others. He is a regular contributor to public radio's “This American Life” and starred in his own TV series, "The King of Miami" on the MOJO Network. He has also appeared on Comedy Central, BBC America, MTV, and Adult Swim and is a regular host on HBO and Cinemax. Dave stages his own chat variety show "The Dave Hill Explosion" at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York and Los Angeles and also in London wherever it is tolerated. He also plays guitar and sings in his own rock band Valley Lodge. Tasteful Nudes is his first collection of non-fiction essays. In it, he discusses topics including but not limited to accidentally arranging a lunch with a high-end prostitute, becoming an unwitting accomplice to the theft of
three hundred pounds of meat, and, and losing his innocence to a Japanese toilet. Average, run-of-the-mill stuff. Dave wrote Tasteful Nudes mainly to make people laugh and maybe touch a few hearts. And if it ends up leading to sex for him, well that's just a bonus.

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