Day: September 17, 2017
He was one of our very first students. He was King Triton. He was funny. He was the theater owner that reached out a helping hand. He was a mentor. He was everyone’s best friend. Most importantly, he was an unbelievable father and husband. Steve Dubin passed away on Saturday, September 16th, 2017. He was only 45 years old.
I’m writing this less than 24 hours of his passing, so I don’t have many details regarding his memorial or other details.
I met Steve in the fall of 2012. We had recently started performing shows at Showtime Performing Arts in East Boca and a handful of people had asked us to start classes. Steve, who’s daughter was an actor/dancer at Showtime joined our very first class, later to be named “Incognito”. It was a special group. Just 5 students. I still have a close relationship with all of them. In fact, Jesse is one of our cast members. I’ll keep the rest more private. Steve didn’t do social media. He was a private guy. The only way you would know what was happening is by picking up the phone when he called or meeting him for a beer or when we crossed paths at the Theater.
In one of our classes, there was a newer student that joined the group that was problematic. So much so, that other students were uncomfortable with continuing if that person was going to be there. I was very unsure of myself and didn’t know what to do. I did the less professional thing and called each student to ask what to do. I got some great advice from everyone, but I remember Steve saying “You just have to realize that this is your company and it’s up to you to make it the way you want it to look. Part of that is making hard decisions, having hard conversations and hurting people’s feelings.” He probably wouldn’t remember that discussion, but it has served me well over the years.
That particular class was special because many of our cast members were just as green to improv as the students. Sometimes their showcases would make our shows look like we were the students. We acted more like an improv troupe that I coached than a group of students. I had created an individual and unique relationship with all of them, especially Steve. He’s only 7 years older than me, but when you’re 33, a 40 year old is still way older. Today, I feel like at 38, Steve and I are really about the same age.
He has two lovely children. He talked about them a lot. Bragged about them. So proud of what both of them accomplished and what they were going to do for the world. I’ll save the specifics to myself as it’s not my place to share. He loved his wife. I think he looked up to her. He was such a good example.
Over the course of a year, I had made some really close friends. Steve and I remained close because even after our classes were done, I got to see him all the time, dropping off his daughter at the theater.
One day, he pulled me aside and said “I think I’m going to open up my own theater. I really enjoy being in shows and my daughter really enjoys it too. I want to spend more time with my kids and this theater might be a way to do it.” I thought it was a fun idea and encouraged it. He was taking on a business partner that had been doing this for a very long time and I knew the two of them would shine. Sara Perry and Steve Dubin opened Center Stage Performing Arts Theater; Sick Puppies Comedy current home. But we didn’t go there directly.
We were looking to move to a new home as well and were recruited by Steve’s best friend up in Delray. So we temporarily made the move there. Steve was never upset or offended by the fact we didn’t go to Center Stage at first. It’s like he knew that we would end up with his theater eventually. He was patient like that. After a few months in our new situation, I called Steve and Sara, checking out our options and upon my first visit, I was blown away. Steve said “welcome home”.
Sick Puppies Comedy would not exist today if wasn’t for Center Stage Theater and the encouragement of Steve Dubin and the support of Sara Perry. I remember in the beginning, all 4 of us (Allie too) were just trying to figure this thing out. I had a degree in theater management, Steve was a sales manager, Sara and Allie clearly had the experience and we all had passion.
Some of the most fun I ever had was in meetings with Steve. The two of us trying to figure out ways to drum up business, drive traffic and build our companies separately and together. It was a real struggle for him. He was working a full time job that was beginning to have some success and he was facing the same debate I faced: choose one or the other. Eventually, it was clear that his career was going to take over and I didn’t get to see Steve as much. In fact, very seldom. The last time we spent quality time together was probably 6 months ago. We ordered lunch. We caught up. Business was good for him. His wife was doing great things at her job. The kids were succeeding.
We passed each other far less after that. His daughter didn’t need her Dad to escort her out. He could just wait in the car for her. I’d catch him for 5 minutes here and there and we would always say “we have to catch up”. We didn’t. Steve was a guy with no enemies. It’s hard to be mad at the guy that always gives everything away. “Here”, “no, I got this.”, “No Casey, you deserve full price.” He took responsibility when things were his fault and took responsibility when it wasn’t. He was honest. He was one of the few truly genuine, kind people that this planet is going to miss. I am a better person because of Steve Dubin and if you’ve ever felt like one of our classes or shows had a positive effect on you, it’s because of Steve’s influence on us.
We are devastated and empty. Normally when I read these things, they end it with “hug your loved ones” or “tell people you love them”. I’ll make it really specific. Go look at your phone right now. Navigate away from this article if you need to and find the first person in your contacts that makes you think “I haven’t talked to this person in a while. I should call them.” and call them. Just one person. Just one call. I know I will be doing a lot of that in the coming months. We love you Steve. You were One Sick Puppy. And damn funny.
One of Sick Puppies Comedy’s original cast members says goodbye to our team tonight. Stephon Duncan is one of the most talented people to ever grace our stage and we are sad to see her go. We took a moment to interview her before she left.
Stephon, you are one of 3 remaining original Sick Puppies Comedy cast members. This makes you one of the most experienced and seasoned improvisers in Sick Puppies as well as South Florida. Tell us how that compares to your start with Sick Puppies.
When I first started Sick Puppies I was the one with the least amount of experience. You had people like Gerry, Fawad and Aniela who have been doing improv for almost 10+ years combined and I didn’t have any.
What type of legacy are you leaving behind at Sick Puppies?
Legacy?! Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure what people remember about me now, while I’m still in the troupe. I would hope that I was able to show people that it’s okay to be yourself, no matter how odd you might be.
Is there a particular show or moment that you remember as a sick puppy that stands out?
Although there were many, I’d have to say it was the show when Julie and I did our duo. It was the moment that I let myself go and trusted both my partner and myself.
What’s next for you? What are you working on?
I’ll still be doing improv around South Florida, but I’m focusing more on my acting career. I haven’t been pursuing it as aggressively as I would like, now seems like the perfect time.
Why do you think improvisation is so important to you?
Man. Improv has changed my life in so many ways. I learned to trust that everything that comes out of my mouth matters. Improv has given me my voice. I was always afraid to speak my mind, with improv, that’s all I do. I feel empowered and confident. Improv has made me a better person and I am grateful to Sick Puppies for giving me this opportunity.
What is your philosophy when it comes to improv?
My philosophy when it comes to improv is: Be a team. Love and take care of one another on that stage and you will be amazed at the outcome.
What advice can you give our newest cast members as well as prospective students hoping to join?
This piece of advice came from my first workshop with Razowsky: “You are enough.” It is simple, yet so powerful. We all bring something special to the stage, tap into that and you will be just fine.
Stephon joined the our cast as one of the 13 original cast members in October of 2012. Over the years, those cast members either physically moved out of town to pursue bigger and better projects, while others stayed local to work on their other endeavours. If you know much about the art of improvisation or the industry, you know that there aren’t many people on the planet that can make a stable career of it. Improv is an artform that is used to either springboard you into the entertainment industry or it’s something you do on a regular basis to keep your skills at the top of their game for whatever career you are in.
Duncan was the only person out of the 13 original cast members that I didn’t have an existing relationship with prior to auditions. She had the best audition of everyone that showed up and blew us all away. She had great presence, characters, awareness and finesse. She took the stage by storm and grabbed a piece of our hearts immediately.
Always humble, always kind and always improving. Stephon doesn’t have an enemy in the world. She doesn’t brag or boast, but you should know that she has one of the very best voices I’ve ever heard. She’s respectful and caring, but she’s never been shy about sharing her opinion with me.
Minutes before we hit the stage at the Sarasota improv festival in 2015, Duncan pulled me aside and shared her regarding the format we were about to perform. I could tell that by her tone she wasn’t the only concerned member, but she carried the burden as if it was her own. It was the only time I gave in to a request like this because when Stephon speaks up, you know it’s important.
I’m proud to say Stephon is a friend and a Sick Puppy. It’s been a pleasure to have her teach me how to be a better person over the years. We will miss you.
If you’d like to see Stephon in her final show tonight at 9PM, go to www.sickpuppiescomedy.com.
Are you interested in making a few extra bucks? Sick Puppies Comedy would love to have you become an affiliate! You don’t have to make cold calls or knock on doors. You just have to tell your friends and family about us. That’s it! If you’re interested, feel free to email us for details: email@example.com or give us a ring. 954-667-7735.
Make some dollars for the summer!
I don’t know what what to say about Saturday’s show really. It was a lot of fun. The Lion King outtakes were phenomenal, we found out that all jails are connected by tunnels… also lots of massage circles in jail.
Couldn’t be more proud of the cast that really didn’t have a cold moment in the show. Here it is in it’s entirety. I think it’s worth the watch. Rarely do we post an entire show, but this one holds firm as one of the most fun shows we’ve ever done.
Cheers to everyone involved.
Ian Oliver – (5/15) – is a product of these mean middle class South Florida streets, born and raised. He began taking classes with the Sick Puppies in August of 2014 as a way to get back on stage, and was instantly hooked on improvisational comedy. A community college drop out and graduate of the now defunct Palm Beach Film School and survivor of several failed business ventures, Ian now aspires to grow continually as an improvisor and actor and hopes the Sick Puppies are the First (as in primary) credit on a long resume. “I’m trying to get on that Pauly Shore in the 90’s level.”
Come see him perform his first show with us this coming Saturday, May 23rd at 9PM – Who’s Puppy is It Anyway?
Purchase tickets by clicking HERE!