Almost Famous: Bruce Vilanch Visits Frostburg State

Bruce Vilanch is an absolute riot, much like the celebrities he writes for. Vilanch’s client roster is star-studded with people like Bette Midler, Robin Williams, and Joan Rivers. After introducing himself at the his Q&A session at Frostburg State University on Thursday, Vilanch mostly answered questions about the unique business he is in, as well as various advice questions.

Vilanch said he first got into child acting and modeling, and from there his career never stopped growing. Throughout his time studying journalism and theater at Ohio State University, he had various voiceover roles. He then discussed the beginning of singer Bette Midler’s career and their various adventures. (He has been working for Midler for forty-two years all because he wrote an review of  one of her performances while she was vacationing in Chicago.) From there, they traveled to towns across America, Midler performing what Vilanch wrote. He named dropped an endless list of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. He spoke to the crowd like they were his friends, sometimes looking at someone as though they were having a conversation.

Aside from all of the show biz, Vilanch had some advice for those interested in the life he grew up in. If you are going to get advice from anyone regarding theater, acting and comedy – it should be him. Hannah Blankenbeckler, a theater major, wanted insight for someone who wanted to do stage management at a community theater following graduation. “Get as much work under your belt as possible,” he said, and continued on to say it is important to follow your bliss, which according to him is “so Oprah-fied.” One student wanted to know how to follow through with his life goals and plan for his future. “[Screw] it, I’ll fire up a doobie and figure it out later,” Vilanch said is how he dealt with figuring things out when he college-aged.

Vilanch went on to answer questions about his experiences career experiences He listed the Oscars, Hollywood Squares and Hairspray as his most exciting projects. Vilanch’s most challenging project, however, caught everyone off guard. Vilanch had to write for a Lifetime segment that was a comedy series about rape. The line-up on this series was all women, and they thought having a gay male write for them was the best thing to do.

One of the last things Vilanch was asked about was his stance on how the gay rights movement is going. Of course, Vilanch is all for gay marriage. However, it is a lot different from just wanting gay marriage to be legalized. He discussed how partners of those suffering with AIDs had no rights when it came to their partners passing away, an issue that essentially brought gay rights to the public’s attention. He put it simply: anything relating to gay rights comes down to civil rights. Vilanch stated that this issue was “born for everyone to have their rights.” He is passionate about gay rights and had a clear answer for everything regarding it.

Vilanch’s Q&A session was refreshing, insightful, and absolutely hilarious. The crowd could not stop laughing, and Vilanch loved that. Every single answer he gave to a question was in-depth with a side of comedy, and his advice was honest and relevant.


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