arts & pop culture | November 30, 2015

A Canadian in Hollywood: Introducing New Speaker Rob Cohen

Canada is certainly known for its stereotypes: Arctic wastelands. Igloos. Maple syrup. Uber-polite lumberjacks or hockey goons. But more commonly, it’s simply not known at all. After working in show business in L.A. for over two decades, Rob Cohen (a born-and-bred Canuck) had finally had enough. So in his star-studded (and self-funded!) documentary Being Canadian, he set out on a road trip across Canada to banish those stereotypes and get to the bottom of what it really means to live north of the 49th parallel.

As a keynote speaker, Cohen is perfect for Canadian audiences seeking some humorous self-understanding (and for foreign audiences who’d forgotten about us, period). As he does in Being Canadian, Cohen talks about his journey of self-discovery, comic enlightenment, and struggle to define that elusive Canadian identity, albeit with some never-before-seen takes and intimate stories (and far fewer Timbits). But he also covers the massive undertaking of self-producing and funding a film, the rather bizarre and circuitous route he took from Canadian underachiever to Emmy Award-winning television writer, and some genuinely fascinating (and honestly hilarious) stories about working with the huge personalities of Hollywood.

With over 23 years of experience in sitcoms, sketch comedy, animation, and film, Cohen is a wealth of anecdotes and advice for anyone working in, or fascinated by, show business. He’s written or produced for all major networks and for some blockbuster television shows, including The Big Bang Theory, SNL, The Wonder Years, Just Shoot Me!, and the IFC series Maron. He won that Emmy Award for his work on The Ben Stiller Show, but he got his big break writing for The Simpsons—entrenching him as the visual inspiration for Milhouse Van Houten, Bart’s hapless blue-haired sidekick. He’s also been a part of feature campaigns for Paramount, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Fox in flicks starring mega-stars like Tom Cruise, Will Ferrell, and Will Smith.

For unlikely Hollywood stories, behind-the-scenes life lessons, and for a greater understanding of what makes Canada unique—and truly great—Rob Cohen’s your man. But be prepared to accept a few hard truths: that ‘being Canadian’ is so much more than we might expect—and some of those stereotypes are embarrassingly true!

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economics | November 29, 2015