JAWS Made Me *Want* to Get in the Water

A wild conversation with National Geographic underwater photographer Brian Skerry

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“Fish in can” ©Brian Skerry

First, let it be known that everybody loves Brian Skerry. When we not-so-secretly leaked an announcement about this interview on social media, many OMGs and “wow” emojis followed, including a few messages of “Tell Brian I love him!!!!” and “You’re so lucky! I love his work!” Some of you may remember his visit to The Straz a few years ago, when he delivered what some audience members proclaimed was “the best talk I have ever heard in my life. I’m not even kidding.”

Brian merits many exclamation marks, which you, too, will understand when you come to his next presentation here in January to kick off our National Geographic Live series.

(You will be delighted to know that the feeling is mutual. “I love Tampa,” he says. “It’s one of my favorite places. I can’t wait to get back.”)

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“Dolphins” © Brian Skerry

Brian is the best kind of nature photographer — his technical skill matches an artistic sensibility; but, what really nabs people’s loyalty with Brian’s work is how unselfconsciously smitten he is with wild creatures. Brian is deep, and his art is deep. His images poke at that sleeping giant buried in the overburdened soul of indoor-dwelling workers: we want that primordial reminder that we are alive on this planet and we belong here with these other magnificent creatures. This is our place; this is our home. We forget that we live, breathe and move as part of the perfect miracle of life on Earth.

Brian’s photos stir the giant. Our connection to the planet crackles with awe. That’s the gift of a little bit of time with Brian Skerry — an awakening. Here are the highlights of our illuminating conversation with this incredibly cool person who is strangely compelled to put his body alongside enormous and often toothy marine life.

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“Sharks” © Brian Skerry

CITA: You’re obsessed with sharks. How did you get this way?

BRIAN: Sharks and their protection are near and dear to my heart. I was intrigued because they were predators — the same way most people are intrigued by lions, grizzly bears, any big predator that can eat us. I’m not sure if I remember my earliest moments. You know, I started SCUBA in 1977, a few years after Jaws. I was in the movie theater with everybody else when it opened — June 18, 1975, I think (note: we checked—June 20, 1975—impressive recall for the shark enthusiast). I watched the movie, and I may be one of the very few people who saw that film and wanted to go in the water afterwards. Some people couldn’t even get in the bathtub for a year, but I wanted to be Matt Hooper [the Richard Dreyfuss character]. I wanted a life on boats, in the ocean, interacting with sharks.

I live in a little New England town outside of Boston, so I never thought I would have much of a chance to interact with sharks. I met a shark biologist, Wes Pratt, who worked for NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and works for MOTE now [a marine lab in Sarasota]. He’s so wonderful, charismatic — a real life Matt Hooper — and he would go on shark cage trips off the coast of Rhode Island. I asked if he would take me, this is around 1982, and so I got to go out there in a cage that Wes built himself. Bright yellow. We chummed the water, and I was in the cage in the late afternoon when I saw my first shark emerge in the green, murky water.  I mean, I was so compelled to be near this animal. I had my camera and wanted a picture, so I opened the door of the cage and swam out.

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I had an overload of emotions. My heart was racing, of course, as I was thinking “what if she comes after me?” but I was also hypnotized by her. Her grace of movement. She was aware of me but paid me no mind. I was hooked. I later found out I was the only person ever who’d left the cage. [laughs]

I remember driving home after the dive filled with such peace and contentment at having had this encounter with a wild animal. I was absolutely intrigued. Part of that early attraction was being so close to such a predator, but that changed.

As a photographer, I was more intrigued with the shape of sharks. Their confidence. They moved so elegantly with this grace, this blending of grace and power. They exuded confidence and supremacy. I spent time trying to capture what the soul of a shark is, so I would return to them as a subject many times.

Over time, I came to see sharks as being something fragile — 100 million sharks are killed [by humans] every year, mostly for shark fin soup. There’s a lack of concern for the loss of sharks because people see them as these shadowy, one-dimensional creatures waiting to eat us. I’d been content making happy pictures, but as a journalist I couldn’t ignore that these so-called tough guys were struggling. They couldn’t overcome the anthropogenic struggles. As predators, they keep the ocean healthy, so I could see the correlation between breathing air and the health of the ocean. We should care about sharks. We should absolutely care about them.

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“Shark” © Brian Skerry

There’s been more of a revolution for sharks recently. My more recent quest has been to help people appreciate their magnificence — sharks exist in a state of perfection in the ocean. Each is sculpted so differently.

Now I see them in all the ways I’ve grown to love them over the years. I want people to understand their importance, their magnificence. That’s one of the reasons I like doing the talks — there’s nothing quite like being in front of people and sharing stories to build empathy. It’s an essential way to communicate. It’s a bit of a race against time to create empathy for them.

CITA:  Will you tell us one of your favorite Brian-and-sharks stories?

BRIAN: Great question! Yes, every time is a special moment. It’s an adrenaline high, but more than that, it’s a connection with nature and a privilege to be able to see what you see down there.

I’ll tell you about the first time I ever encountered an oceanic white tip shark.

So, the oceanic white tip shark is classified as the fourth most dangerous species, if you’re into that kind of thing. As recently as the 1970’s, they were considered the most abundant large animal on earth, something over 100 pounds.  But today, with an estimated 99% in decline, they’re on the verge of extinction. I wanted to do a story, and I wanted to photograph the oceanic white tip.

I didn’t know anyone who’d seen one in a long time, but I heard a rumor some fishermen off Cat Island in the Bahamas had these sharks stealing yellowfin tuna off their lines. So, I get National Geographic to send me to Cat Island for 16 days so I can capture one of these sharks [on film]. We don’t see any oceanic white tips.

Later, we found out we went down there at the wrong time of the year.

Then, one day, mid-afternoon, an oceanic white tip appeared. About a 9-foot female.

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She kept bouncing her nose off my camera; I was doing these pirouettes, rotating 360 degrees. She wasn’t trying to bite me, she was just curious, and we did this for about 15-20 minutes. We had a shark cage and put it down in the water, and Wes [Pratt] got in. I was able to get this picture and tell the story of the decline of this animal. Maybe this picture helps the conservation of this species.

The shark stayed with us, for some reasons, settling into lazy loops around the boat for a couple of hours. I can remember distinctly being in the blue Bahamian water, and she had this beautiful golden brown coloration, big pectoral fins, just gliding through the water like an aircraft. The light dappling on her back was so majestic, and she was so friendly. So polite.  It was truly a magical moment for me, no doubt one of my most memorable.

CITA: Hearing your poetic descriptions of sharks reminds us of Jack Turner’s essay, “Mountain Lions,” where he talks about his emotional response to seeing a cougar for the first time, only later did he realize that he was smitten.

BRIAN (laughs): It’s hard not to be smitten in the presence of wilderness. I don’t think that’s unique to Jack or me, though. I think humans are drawn to that quality in nature. We need it. There’s something in our DNA that responds in a primal way to nature. When you see how perfectly adapted it is — it’s so perfect — you see the connection we have. We’re all connected in this.

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“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”— John Muir

CITA: Seems like, as humans, we’re finally moving away from the domination model, the extract-and-control model, that drove us before and trying to get back to belonging to the bigger picture of our relationship and interdependence.

BRIAN: I think it was John Muir who had the quote about tugging at one string in nature and finding it connected to everything else . . . the more time I spend in nature the more I realize that is so true. We’ve placed ourselves above and apart, and that is a mistake. The more we can understand how everything is connected, the better off we’ll be — we’ll have a different ethic.

CITA: We wanted to ask you about one of our favorite photographs, the right whale swooping in on the diver. What an extraordinary image of scale, of capturing a sense of harmony between a human and a whale.

BRIAN: I’d heard about a population of right whales near the Auckland Islands after I’d spent a year working on a story about the northern right whale, who is on the verge of extinction because these are urban whales that have a lot of stresses. This southern right whale, the Auckland population, didn’t know about people. I took an 82-foot sailboat and went down there for three weeks. When we showed up, it really was this moment of “natives swim out to greet us” when these giant whales came around the boat. I was in about 70 feet of water trying to photograph them, but they were so curious. They didn’t know what I was. They didn’t know about people. A whale would swim up, like a school bus, so big it would block out all the sunlight, right up to my face. I was bent backwards on the bottom in some kind of yoga pose, and this curious whale, it’s softball eye, looking right at me. It could have crushed me like a grape, but it didn’t. They’d try to touch me. I try not to touch any animals in the wild — they might not like it, and that’d be bad. Or they might really like it, and that would also be bad. But it was nudging me, nudging me, like it wanted me to pat it — it was unreal. Finally, I had this idea to take a photograph with a human and a whale, so I asked my assistant to get in the water. Here comes this 45-foot whale, and I got the picture.

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This whale decided to hang out with us for two hours. I could never swim fast enough to catch up to an animal like this, so we knew they were choosing to be with us and spend time with us. I imagine it was like when the Pilgrims arrived, and whales were everywhere, so trusting and easily approachable.

It was important to show this trusting nature they have. Somewhere along the way we betrayed this trust. So it was a very special time to be in this moment down there with them.

CITA: And you’re going to bring your manatee pictures from the Crystal River when you come for your talk here?

BRIAN: Well, I thought since I’m coming to Florida, I had better bring them. (laughs) I’m also bringing a lot of other photographs, and I’ll be talking about solutions for the ocean, too, aquaculture. I used to be very skeptical of aquaculture, farming in the ocean, but I’ve done a 180 in my thinking on it. I’ll also have [pictures of] dolphins from a story I did on dolphin intelligence. I’m really looking forward to coming back.

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Brian Skerry

To learn more about Brian or see more of his photographs, visit brianskerry.com or like his Facebook page. Want tickets to his talk? Get them here.

What Is Up With Not Sitting Down

A humorous look at the rise of the standing ovation … guess this is just what we do now.

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The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet directed by Matthew Warchus, Plácido Domingo in a solo concert of arias, the premiere of Neil Simon’s Rumors, the launch of Broadway’s Footloose, Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Firebird with *the* Virginia Johnson as Firebird – this recognizable, mostly legendary list (sorry, Footloose, you weren’t legendary, but we still liked you) shares an interesting feature: not a single one ended with a standing ovation. We know because we were there.

These were fantastic shows—amazing, jaw-dropping, soul-igniting performances, all hitting the boards in the late 90’s and all worthy of sitting ovations. Standing ovations happened during rare, once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. They signified an honoring of the highest possible achievement. An artist or performance had to surpass perfection.

Twenty years ago we didn’t stand for Sir Ian McKellen (a.k.a. Gandalf, Magneto) in a one-man Beckett play, but today we jump to our feet as soon as the third place winner from American Idol finishes a set of radio cover songs. Nowadays, attend any performance from the meh to the miraculous and it matters not: the audience stands, ovating, some even walking and clapping to get to the parking lot before everybody else.

What’s changed over the years? Is it the end-of-show equivalent of an A for effort? Is it, as some psychologists have argued, our attempt to justify paying for a live experience now that we’re spoiled by so much free online entertainment? Or maybe that same online entertainment is such rubbish we leap in gratitude by seeing decent art? Perhaps we are just more enthusiastic supporters of performing arts than our possibly more stiff-shirted predecessors.

We attempted researching this change, starting with the history of the standing ovation, yet we found no clear answers. The most interesting factoid, though, traced back to Roman times. After war, any leader who racked up the most impressive battle victories returned to Rome for his “triumph,” a parade celebrating his clear victories and spoils. The guy who came in second-place for battle greatness earned an “ovation,” a parade acknowledging he did alright out there and deserved props for whatever destruction, pillaging and land usurpation he wrested by force. A sheep (“ovis” in Latin) died in bloody sacrifice to his win, thus the origin of “ovation.”

What we did, find, however, were some very clear, hilariously vicious opinions penned by theater critics here and abroad scorching the now common practice of standing to clap at the end of a show.

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Ben Brantley, the well-known theater critic at The New York Times, wrote an urgent call for the return of the sitting ovation after he witnessed the audience staying seated *gasp* for a perfectly good Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 2012. “Pretty much every show you attend on Broadway these days ends with people jumping to their feet and beating their flippers together like captive sea lions whose zookeeper has arrived with a bucket of fish,” he wrote in his column “Theater Talkback: Against Ovation Inflation.” His argument, snarky as it is, ends with noting that “staying seated has become the exceptional tribute.”

London, England’s theater critics mince no pies about who is to blame for this moral deterioration (Broadway—a notable scapegoat for moral deterioration). They make Brantley look p.c. in their direct seat-shaming over the normalizing of the “s.o.”—a “curse,” as critic Michael Henderson noted in The Telegraph, and “an unwanted tradition spreading from America,” as if the s.o. is an STD (socially transmitted disease). Michael Billington, a British critic from The Guardian, likewise points his blame finger across the pond: “I am all for spontaneous enthusiasm but the standing ovation is a filthy American habit that I think should be discouraged.”

Henderson explains that Britons, proud of their ability to curb the need to overly-reward actors, reputedly did not stand for Laurence Olivier, except upon the notification of his death in 1989, which Dustin Hoffman delivered to an audience in attendance of The Merchant of Venice. At this point, Hoffman muttered that the only way to get a standing ovation in England was “to f—ing die.” Henderson, whose article “The Curse of the Standing Ovation,” claims “it is … a gesture of self-reward … this canker in our theatre-going is also rooted in a narcissism that has spread through all parts of life. …Me, me, me. It’s all about me.” Sitting still, sitting quietly, he concludes, reflect the “old virtues,” a time before all this “blubbing and cheering, like stroppy teenagers.”

For Billington, the infection of the American need to present the s.o. to everything evokes probing issues of identity. “What’s come over us?” he asks in his 2008 theater blog “The Standing Ovation is a Filthy American Habit.” “Is it a result of rising ticket prices, the touchy-feely society in which emotions have to be displayed, or simply a product of a show-off culture in which you have to prove you can ovate more noisily than your neighbour? The argument against the standing ovation is simple. If you do it for virtually everything, it soon becomes valueless.”

The Brits are great at a cutting remark, but former St. Paul critic Dominic Papatola once quipped that “Minnesotans would give a standing ovation to a Schwan’s truck.” Ouch. We hope the beloved audiences in MN aren’t bleeders. Later, though, Papatola came clean about his feelings as he aged and had a little perspective. In the Duluth News Tribune, he said “now it’s not one of those things I can really let myself get worked up about . . . Mainly I am grateful that there are people in the audience at all.”

Mostly likely, we’re in an evolution of response. We don’t snap like the old Greco-Roman or Beat days. Maybe the standing ovation is returning to its Roman origins and is acknowledgement of a job well done, a hearty thank-you for participating in something not many others do.

If so, sitting for the performers at the curtain becomes what? A triumph?

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How the Arts Change the Lives of America’s Wounded Warriors

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“Man of the World” by Tampa area veteran and visual artist Derrick “Ricky” Mayer. His artwork appears throughout this article.

On any given day in America, between one and 20 veterans commit suicide. However, arts experiences help military personnel and their families amid the psychological and physical consequences of time at war.

This grim statistic from research by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs stands in stark contrast to the fact that more combat soldiers survive tours to return home than ever before in American history. However, many of these women and men come back with grievous injuries to body and mind, with one in three affected by post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or both. Combat soldiers, non-combat personnel and their families also suffer with depression, the third most common health issue among the military community.

Compound those invisible injuries with loss of limbs and eyes from improvised explosive devices, high rates of military sexual trauma to both women and men and families reeling from the emotional turmoil of a parent, spouse or child deployed or injured in the line of duty, and civilians can see the price our people in uniform are paying for the cost of war.

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Artwork by Derrick “Ricky” Mayer.

For the first time in relatively recent history, civilians and non-military organizations have expressed a growing willingness to put their empathy into action and give back to the people who serve.

But what can be done? In the spring of 2010, when waves of veterans were returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, a small group of military brass met with arts and health leaders to ask the same question. For years, Veterans Affairs doctors and psychologists documented that of the veterans who opted for treatment, traditional talk therapy or behavioral methods were not as successful as they hoped. The stigma of seeking help, especially in the transition to civilian life, remains embedded in the warrior’s code, so many try to go it alone or rely on friends and family. New approaches were needed.

It was time to look more closely at the health benefits of the arts.

After all, the American military shares a long history with the arts as part of its identity. Drum corps rapped out tactical instructions to soldiers across smoky, chaotic battlefields during the Revolution and Civil War. Even Benjamin Franklin commanded a military band. Drawing and poetry appear in military academy curriculum, centuries of fine art grace the Pentagon, and one of the lasting impressions of WWII lives in the iconography of pilots painting their fighter planes with animals, women and fearsome faces to create an identity between themselves, their mission and their machine.

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Artwork by Derrick “Ricky” Mayer.

Perhaps the most unbelievable connection of arts and the military resides in the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, “The Ghost Army,” a WWII Army covert force of writers, artists, painters, sound engineers, ad agency men and other performing arts professionals that created illusions in the form of inflatable tanks, spoof radio and pretend convoys to spread confusion and disinformation to the Axis powers.

The military’s use of the arts for medicinal purposes also stretches back in history, with Florence Nightingale interviewed on the restorative value of music in an 1891 paper, “Music in Illness,” published in the medical journal Lancet. The military’s formal studies on the effects of music on convalescing veterans helped lay the foundation for the establishment of music therapy as a professional treatment.

A groundbreaking achievement arrived in 2011, after the successful collaboration between military and arts-health leaders in 2010 to address a more prominent, more committed, more elevated and more conscientious application of creative arts to healing across the military spectrum. The first National Summit: Arts in Healing for Warriors took place at Walter Reed Bethesda, the “President’s hospital,” and the largest military medical center in the country. This summit led to Americans for the Arts launching the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (NIAHM) in 2012, with its first roundtable held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

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Artwork by Derrick “Ricky” Mayer.

The subsequent white paper, “Arts, Health and Well-Being across the Military Continuum,” published by NIAHM, plainly states “one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal – the arts – is often under-utilized and not well understood within the military and the healthcare system.” The paper also cites a study indicating that “providing service members and veterans with opportunities to express themselves and share their stories can help them cope with the most common symptoms of today’s conflicts: PTS, TBI and major depression.”

Today, Walter Reed hosts monthly performances, bedside concerts and creative art therapies for veterans and their families. The hospital continues to conduct research on the effects of arts therapies and engagement with the arts. Their Healing Arts Program “integrates art into the patient’s care, providing new tools in artistic and creative modalities,” writes Walter Reed Commander Rear Admiral Alton L. Stocks. He notes these methods alleviate anxiety and trouble focusing, as well as “provide a nonverbal outlet to help service members express themselves and process traumatic experiences.” The old ways of relying on drugs and toughing-it-out are giving way to the healing powers of the arts. In military parlance, the idea is known as “express yourself versus suppress yourself.”

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Artwork by Derrick “Ricky” Mayer.

Artists and civilians are stepping into this new world of arts health for veterans – not as therapists (that role is carefully and strictly held for certified health professionals) – but as facilitators and allies in bringing a greater arts influence into the lives of people who need to process trauma, heal relationships and navigate the transition from war to civilian life. “We have seen first-hand the success and value of creative arts programs and will continue to expand our arts programs through partnerships with artists and arts organizations,” writes Stocks.

The arts also side-step the stigma of seeking help because they allow for expression without directly confronting feelings, trauma or another person. Research shows music therapy works where traditional therapies do not and improves depression and anxiety for TBI. Dancing helps with balance and coordination more than muscular training programs, and dance therapy improves emotional responses, possibly helping to stabilize the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system. Engagement in the arts, because they are pleasurable activities, releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical, and further studies indicate engaging in the arts also lowers risks of heart disease and cancer.

In essence, the performing arts don’t just supplement medicine. The performing arts are medicine, helping our women and men of the armed forces and their families find their way back to themselves once they return home.

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Mayer served in the Marines from 1988-1992, spending January-September 1991 in Operation Desert Storm. He is pictured with his copy of our INSIDE Magazine, featuring his artwork on the cover.

In 2017, the arts and health in the military National Summit on Policy and Practice happens in Tampa. With 1.5 million vets and counting, Florida has one of the highest concentrations of veterans, second only to Texas. Already, we have a growing number of artists and arts organizations partnering with veterans to bring the power of the performing arts to PTS, TBI, depression and reintegration. Arts2Action, a Tampa nonprofit, hosts a veterans’ open mic at Sacred Grounds coffeehouse on the first Sunday of each month and holds a weekly performance workshop at the Tampa Veterans Recovery Center. Board-certified music and dance therapists work with regional VA hospitals, and artist-in-residence programs bring performing arts experiences to veterans and their families.

If you would like to get involved or learn more about how the performing arts help veterans, you can visit the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military on the Americans for the Arts website.

Straz Staff Highlight Reel: Our Fave Moments from “Carpool Karaoke”

James Corden stars in the next filmed theater performance from National Theatre Live, One Man, Two Guvnors. We think this is a fine time to mention our favorite bits from his hilarious skit on The Late Late Show.

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James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors, for which he won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

The awkward Britney Spears one. The somehow-they’re-wrestling-on-a-stranger’s-lawn Red Hot Chili Peppers one. The LOL and then cry when Stevie Wonder calls his wife one. Oh! And the FLOTUS hand-dancing to Bey one or the road tripping to the Super Bowl with Chris Martin one. We give up. Just pick one. They’re all hysterical. Of course, we’re talking about James Corden and “Carpool Karaoke.”

James Corden struck gold when he managed to launch the now cult comedy skit on his late night talk show, The Late Late Show, which he took over when Craig Ferguson left in 2014. The first episode of “Carpool Karaoke” aired in 2015 when Corden asked a “friend” to help him get through traffic to work and the go-pro pans to Mariah Carey. [*wild audience applause* team-singing to “Always Be My Baby” ensues.]

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Mariah Carey helping James Corden get to work in the first episode of “Carpool Karaoke.”

The formula has more or less been the same, whether the passengers are One Direction, Gwen Stefani or Lada Gaga: Corden in an SUV, needs company driving somewhere, famous person gets in car, they sing together. They may pick up friends (like George Clooney and Julia Roberts for Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”) or stop to play dress-ups (Justin Bieber) or, as mentioned, pull over to the curb for some “good man grappling” on a Los Angeles lawn (Anthony Kiedis won).

Most Americans don’t realize that James Corden, this lovable fanboy host, was a gigantic theater and television star in Britain before crossing the pond to headline the vamp-hours CBS talk show. Despite his recent Rolling Stone cover and Tony® Award for One Man, Two Guvnors, Corden continues to find himself pigeon-holed by Yanks as a talk show host although he spent several years hounded by British paparazzi for his fame as the character “Smithy” on the sitcom Gavin & Stacey.

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Along with Ruth Jones (left), Corden (right) co-created, co-wrote and co-starred in the BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey from 2007-2010.

We admit, we love him most for “Carpool Karaoke,” too (we are looking forward to the upcoming skit with Madonna almost as much as we looked forward to Lin Manuel-Miranda on Drunk History). In honor of Corden returning to his more auspicious comedy roots when he stars in the filmed version of National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors, we asked some of our dedicated Straz Center staff to reveal some of their favorite “Carpool Karaoke” moments.

Here they are.

“My absolute favorite was Adele. When he called her and said “Hello, it’s me . . . I was wondering if after all this time you’d like to meet” and then she comes and gets in the car. I also loved when he advised her she could have a better squad than Taylor Swift with Beyonce, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. He also got her to rap the Nikki Minaj “Monster” song which was classic!”—Jeanne Piazza, programming manager

“Favorite: when Adele double-takes directly into camera, artfully crafted eyebrows raised, as Corden starts belting out her own song, pleasantly surprised by his talent.”—Shannon Darby, production manager

“My favorite is when he had JLo (Jennifer Lopez) on his show . . . not that I’m a fan of hers, but because he asked her who was the most famous person in her phone and then she allowed him to send a text to my boy, Leonardo DiCaprio. The end result is totally hilarious and adorable.”—Amber Russell, ticket office supervisor

“My favorite moment was with Jennifer Hudson when she ordered the cheeseburger in the drive thru line for James Corden.”—Nicole Pockrus, production coordinator, education

And, of course, the “Broadway” one was a huge hit.

“Love the Broadway one, for obvious reasons. Growing up in NY as a professional actor, it captures exactly what I love most about being part of the Broadway/Theater community. Plus, it makes me miss NYC.”—Bill Rolon, corporate relations manager

“It’s the most amazing one ever. ‘One Day More’ at the end . . . Audra McDonald for the WIN! They are the perfect ensemble in this. You couldn’t have staged it better.”—Dr. Lauren Murray, music department chair, education

“The ‘One Day More’ pre-Tony Awards bit with Audra, Jesse, Lin Manuel and Jane. It hit at an inspiring time, considering we’d just begun rehearsals for Patel Conservatory Theater’s Les Miserables, School Edition.”—Suzanne Livesay, vice president of education