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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Three Stages of Comedian Headshots: Dan Dion Photographs the Famous and Funny

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM

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Sometimes there are too many amazing comedic things going on in this town. It's becoming increasingly harder for me to keep up with everything. WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS BLOG ANYWAY?*

When photog to the comedy stars, S.F. local, and friend of mine Dan Dion told me about his exhibition of photography at Madrone Art Bar a few weeks ago, I was like, "I definitely got to write about THIS!" Well, here I look up, it's weeeeeeeeeks later and the exhibit is almost gone.

DAN DION
  • Dan Dion

This means you (and me) have only between now and May 21 to get your (and my) butt over to Divisadero and Fell streets and look at photos the way photos were meant to be seen, in 3D** and much larger than on your iPad 2 screen.*** Me and you have already missed the closing night party that was this past Monday. We coulda hung out with Dan and got him to sign his book, Satiristas, that contains many of the photos in the exhibition. Dan has portraitized a wide range of comedians, from the recently cool like Russell Brand ...

DAN DION
  • Dan Dion
... to the eternally cool like Steve Martin.
DAN DION
  • Dan Dion
Dan has taken some of my favorite comic photos of all time, one involving Mike Meehan and another involving Bob Rubin.

Many of these photos are on permanent display at the Punch Line. In fact, one of the coolest experiences of my life involves a photo that he took of me. Years ago, he took some pictures of me, because I felt I had reached the third stage of headshots. What? You didn't know there are stages of headshots?

These are the stages:

Stage one: Using a picture you already have. You're a new comic, and you don't want to spend the money for a professional shot, so you look through photos you already have and go with one of them. These photos are usually superawkward because you are way younger in the photo and/or you had to crop your aunt out of it and/or you aren't really looking in the camera and/or you aren't really the featured part of the photo. Tony Dijamco**** had one of him that looked like he was in the parking lot of a Lyon's after high school graduation.

Stage two: Letting a friend who says, "I have a camera!" take your picture. These pictures suffer from weirdly low lighting, low resolution, and weird locations. Joe Klocek's**** shot of him sitting under a tree in the forest was a classic example of this.

Stage three: This is the Dan Dion stage. Employing a professional to take your flipping photo already, because you plan on doing comedy for more than a few months.

That was the stage I had finally reached back in the day when Dan took several photos of me. I used many of them for years until hair changes and attitude sharpening forced me to get new ones. But one day not that long ago, I walked into the Punch Line and looked at his display, which had already been up for years at that point, and somewhere nestled among Dave Attell, Paul Mooney, Sarah Silverman, and Jim Short, management had inserted one of Dan's photos of ME!

Yup, a picture of me had made its way to the wall of ... well, I guess not fame, since I'm not famous, but at least the wall of comics the Punch Line wants to claim as its own. This is another reason Bay Area comics need to get to the Dan Dion stage: Because if Dan didn't take your picture, it ain't making Dan's wall.

Now I just gotta get famous, so I can get to the stage where he takes your picture for free. The pressure is ON, because he already promised to put me in the next edition of the book. So support another local made good and check out Dan's exhibition. Maybe I'll see you there.

* Hiya Swanhuyser's
** I know that's counterintuitive, but you know what I mean.
*** No, I'm not giving up on my free iPad 2.
**** No, I'm not going to put the pictures in this blog. Facebook friend those guys and ask to see them yourself, LAZY!

Kamau's Komedy Korner is a weekly blog column about comedy in the San Francisco Bay Area by W. Kamau Bell. Check back next Wednesday for more.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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W. Kamau Bell

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