"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, December 29, 2014

22. Dave McKew

San Francisco, California · Arts and Sciences

Twitter: twitter.com/backawayslowly
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dave.mckew

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I'm the operations manager at a small software/web development company, but my passion, ever since my Cornell SKITS-O-PHRENICS days, has been writing, performing, directing, and producing stage comedy.  In the last decade, as part of a sketch comedy duo with Colin Benoit '98 (and on my own) I've done hundreds of performances in San Francisco and at comedy festivals all over North America, and even had a short film air on Comedy Central. Colin and I also created a two-man play where the two of us played all 27 roles in the show.  But the greatest accomplishment of my life came in 2011-2012 when, via nutrition and exercise, I lost 112 pounds in 365 days.  I've been pretty good at keeping my life interesting, I suppose!

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

Psyschology of Visual Communications with James Maas and 16mm Filmmaking with Marilyn Rivchin.  Maas' seminar was basically a photography class about designing effective pictures. Rivchin's class was whatever you made of it—I used it to learn storytelling.  Both classes taught me a lot about patience and connecting to an audience.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

No question that it was my three years as a charter member of the Cornell SKITS-O-PHRENICS, the now 22-year-old sketch comedy troupe!  It was during this time that I found my passion and realized that I was, first and foremost, a story-teller.  I learned a lot about teamwork, self-expression, group dynamics, compromise, and censorship... plus the really important stuff like how to eat a stick of butter on stage and where to get the best cheap plus-size dresses in Ithaca.

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?

My Cornell nickname was "Madonna Dave."  Twice in the last decade, I've bumped into old classmates from freshman year who happened to ask me what I was up to WHILE I WAS HEADING TO A MADONNA CONCERT (via train/plane) and I had to sheepishly admit it.  "Some things never change," they said!  I swear, it's not the only thing I do, but I have seen 17 Madonna concerts. Another small world story: I did a show in SF a few months ago with a woman who, like me, lived in 227 Risley - many years after I did!