SXSW: A Conversation with Paul Reubens, AKA Pee-wee Herman!
A few weeks ago I got an e-mail as tantalizing as it was brief: "Would you like to moderate a panel with Paul Reubens at SXSW?" I had seen the schedule a few days early and one of the big highlights for me was the ability to see the creator behind Pee-wee Herman speaking in a public forum as Paul Reubens; something I had never seen before. And now to be invite to lead that discussion? I was honored, excited, humbled and nervous all at the same time.
I debated asking some colleagues who had hosted panels for some advice but, succeed or fail, I was determined to do this on my own accord. And determined not to let down Mr. Reubens, his people, SXSW and the 1,000 some fans who would eventually fill the hall in Austin, I began extensively researching my subject. I probably have never researched anything so much in my entire life (and this includes the four years I spent in college).
Due to schedule restrictions, I was only able to meet Mr. Reubens a few minutes before we went on stage. To his credit, he was unfazed by not knowing at all what I had prepped on 20-something blue index cards tucked into my back pocket. We took a few promo photos together, got wired with our mics and, because we were running a little late due to a parade that was running through downtown, I hopped up on stage, skipped the vamping and got right to it.
45 minutes later I was already getting the wrap-up sign from the stage manager and there were still many questions I wanted to ask, a testament to Mr. Reubens' honesty, openness and storytelling ability. I never had to cut him off and, even with all the research I had done, found his answers new, interesting and insightful. I was determined to let the fans (who had lined up for hours to get in) have their shot so I threw to the audience for a quick Q&A before we wrapped up.
A sincere thanks to Mr. Reubens, Molly Kawachi, Rebecca Feferman and Kelly Bush for all their help making the panel a success!