Behind The Scenes

How ‘The Live Issue’ unfolded

NEW YORK CITY — Everyone gets their 15 minutes. For me, my fame lasted about 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

Wednesday night at New York University, a handful of ESPN The Magazine writers and editors and several very funny, talented contributors and FOEs (Friends of ESPN) performed the first ESPN the Magazine+ Pop-Up Magazine Live Issue at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

So what’s a live issue?

It’s essentially just what it sounds like: a magazine, performed live on stage.

With short performances like how-tos and graphic-aided pieces at the beginning of the show and longer, feature stories at the end.

The first Pop-Up Magazine collaboration with a print publication, the show was also the first Pop-Up magazine performed outside of San Francisco.

I hope it won’t be the last.

The show ran about two hours, was unrehearsed, spontaneous at times and meant for the sole consumption of the theater audience.

The show was not photographed or filmed — as far as we know, anyway — and lives on only in the minds and memories of the 900 or so people in attendance. (Since there is no record of my performance to refute this, obviously, I was amazing.)

For folks like me, who hide nearly full-time behind a printed byline, the idea of standing in front of a thousand people is fairly intimidating.

It becomes more so as showtime nears.

I was about as nervous as I’d been in a long time — ask anyone seated near me.

Those nerves were zapped the instant I watched my colleague, Editor Neil Janowitz, walk onto the stage in his high school track uniform and perform what I think was the funniest piece of the night in tiny, tiny shorts.

I could try and retell his story, but I couldn’t do it justice.

Senior Writer Seth Wickersham told an intimate story about an off-the-record night with an unnamed athlete. writer Katie Baker performed a profile on the lone artist responsible for creating every ski map in America. writer Paul Lukas, who pens the Uni Watch column, detailed the baseball cap’s rise to greatness. He also deftly worked the Hezbollah and Pope Benedict XVI into what was a few, very funny, photo-assisted minutes.

And then there was the streaker.

I may or may not have had a hand in that little surprise. (Thanks to Ryan from the Neo Futurists for the assist.)

Who can be nervous while a man wearing little more than a baseball pennant runs screaming around the stage and then high-fives you before you present your piece?

I can answer that: Not me.

That calmed my nerves enough to allow me to remember all 10 steps to streaking a baseball field.

After the show, The Magazine‘s Editor-in-Chief Gary Belsky — who hands over the reins to Chad Millman when the magazine moves to Bristol in June — told the audience this show was meant to be a thank-you to the city of New York for being a wonderful place in which to create a magazine for nearly 15 years.

It was an honor to be a part of the night. For me, it was one more opportunity to be creative and funny and long-jump outside the box with some of the most thoughtful, creative people in journalism, many of whom will not make the move to Bristol next month.

It was a thank-you to all of them, too.

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