WILD BEN HOLLIS
As it turns out, BEN HOLLIS has been having an on-going conversation with all of us for almost four decades.
He is the co-producer and original host of WTTW's WILD CHICAGO, and many other Emmy Award-winning programs, that feature his engaging interview style and zany humor, all mixed with unbridled excitement. A consummate storyteller, his focus is squarely on people and places, which is ultimately the point of his shows: to appreciate and learn a little bit more about ourselves and everything around us.
His near-legendary persona – that of the ever-vigilant explorer in pith helmet and khaki shorts with run and gun reporter microphone in hand – places him in a class all by himself. Hollis is smart, well read, spiritual, worldly and yes, hysterically funny, both on and off camera, about whatever topic he’s talking about … including his real-life experiences, which are front and center in his next project.
We caught up with Ben on January 9th as he was making final preparations for his upcoming solo show “How the Beatles Nearly Ruined My Life and How David Bowie Saved It” debuting later this month at the Skokie Theatre. The new live stage venture is a long time in coming, unexpectedly interrupted a year ago with, well … brain surgery!
As you will hear on this episode of CONVERSATIONS, Ben’s life took a dramatic turn last January when he was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a rare and life-threatening condition if left untreated. That medical journey, and the road to the new show, are among the many topics covered in our conversation.
As his ever positive and optimistic attitude will attest, we have only begun to scratch the surface of the many talents that Ben Hollis brings to the stage... and we are truly blessed that he is still here to tell the tale.
Ben Hollis on brain surgery ...
“I was the happiest brain surgery candidate I think anybody’s ever seen. I’m sure that those doctors and nurses and orderlies thought I was out of my gourd. Folks, imagine watching me with my pith helmet on the gurney being wheeled in there going ‘Woo hoo! This is the wildest journey I’d been on!’”
The gift of laughter …
“I’ve been given gifts. We’ve all been given gifts and talents … let me bring them fully to bear and trust that it’s the right thing to do … and that somehow it’s going to help other people too. Even if helping other people is only making you laugh and smile for an hour and a half, that’s not nothing.”
Jack Brickhouse’s influence on his career …
“Jack Brickhouse, Cubs announcer for many years on WGN, always used to say early in the broadcast ‘Put down your worries. Put your feet up and just be with us for a couple hours. You don’t have to worry about anything else’ ... As a kid, you hear that and you go ‘what a bunch of malarkey’ … [But] Jack was so right … that’s exactly what we get from a movie or watching a ball game. The older we get maybe the more we pile up in our brains. If I can lighten anyone’s load, I am there to serve.”
What to expect in his upcoming show at the Skokie Theatre …
“A lot of what people are going to take away is joy in remembering their own life story. It’s going to appeal to a lot of Boomers in particular … it’s really the story about how music saved my life ... The Beatles nearly ruined it. Bowie saved it by giving me another chance.”
HOW THE BEATLES NEARLY RUINED MY LIFE AND HOW DAVID BOWIE SAVED IT
January 21 8 pm January 22 2 pm
7924 Lincoln Ave
Skokie, IL 60077
Tickets: $22 Online or Call: 847-677-7761