An evening with The Buried Life

Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER

Being told to follow your dreams may tread into cliche territory at times, but Duncan Penn and Dave Lingwood, half of the cast from the television show “The Buried Life,” which also included Jonnie Penn and Ben Nemtin, came to UCR’s HUB 302 in order to inform us that anything in the world is possible.

Before the event started there was a line of people trailing outside of the building and onto the stairs that lead up to the third floor of the HUB as demand was strong to interact with the duo. Amidst the chatter and clusters of people, there was an unspoken sense of joy that was emanating from everyone.

Two hosts from ASPB waited a considerable amount of time for the crowd to settle in and began hyping everyone up. Afterwards they gave away two meet-and-greet priority tickets by asking questions to the audience. Alternative-rock music played in the background to set the ambience. After hyping the crowd up, they called Duncan and Dave onto the stage to thunderous applause.

The chemistry between the two was detectable from the first lines they spoke. They seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd.

“If you can’t hear anything, tell Dave to turn down his shoes,” Duncan stated in response to Dave’s ostentatious lime-colored Nike sneakers.

The Dave and Duncan talking before us weren’t always as lively and charismatic as they appeared. The creation of their group and the success that followed started off with humble beginnings. Each member of the group had their own things going on and lived life on a daily basis without really thinking much about their futures.

Dave was at university eating his life away, even telling the audience that he gained “the freshman 45.” According to Dave, Jonnie was “the poorest freshman” since he lived in a friend’s cramped laundry room with only a small futon to sleep on. Duncan was really into athletics, archery in particular, during his time at university while he focused on getting his business degree. Lastly, Ben was also in college as a science major, eventually switching to business.

After weekly Skype calls between the group members expressing desires to do something of gravity with their lives, they had a revelation after Jonnie read a poem in his English class titled “The Buried Life.” The poem talked about going after dreams and making the most of life which resonated with all the members of the group. Afterwards, they began making a list of all the things they wanted to do in life that seemed impossible at the time, which eventually gave life to the list featured on the show. They all thought the conventional formula of graduating and making money wasn’t worth the time so they got together and started planning a life of adventure.

Attaining the resources to travel around the world and do the things they listed was hard. After bargaining for a trailer, they began their countrywide journey. Duncan’s stint as a knight clad in medieval armor earned him a spot in the paper with the mismatched headline “Israelis ramp up offensive,” which became one of the first items they got to cross off of their list. Soon after, they set their eyes on the VMAs in order to fulfill their wish of walking a red carpet. In order to pull this off, they developed an elaborate plan containing colorful suits and framing themselves as the cast of a new MTV pilot.

They soon realized that while making their dreams a reality was satisfying, a large piece of the puzzle was missing — there were still so many people in the world that had their own dreams unrealized, and were waiting for a chance. Using the connections they had garnered, they took time out of their schedules in order to help different people live their lives to the fullest. These included helping a girl get a prosthetic arm, reuniting a father and his son after they had been apart for 17 years and helping a formerly-homeless man give back to the shelter he used to live at.

Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER

As they checked items off their list, word of their journey began to spread through the media. In 2009, they were contacted by MTV who wanted to help them produce a television series. MTV assured them that they would be able to tell their story in their own way, without any sort of intrusion from them. After hearing the good news, they signed a contract and got their adventures made into a television show.

Toward the end of the presentation, it was clear the audience was inspired by Dave and Duncan’s wonderful tale of self-sufficiency and accomplishment. The duo then encouraged people from the audience to share some of the items on their bucket lists. Several people came up to the microphone, expressing emotionally charged and equally funny desires. Eric Kubler, an ASPB coordinator, had plans of becoming a famous rapper and was called on stage by the boys in order to freestyle.

“You could have been either good or terrible,” Duncan said as he applauded Eric’s performance with a grin.

Other notable dreams included starting an organization in Bangladesh to provide relief for flood victims, driving to the south in order to meet their extended family and having a 24-hour block party in Los Angeles.

Dave and Duncan said their goodbyes to the crowd and welcomed anyone who wanted a picture to come to the meet and greet afterward. Nearly everyone from their lecture poured into the room adjacent to the northern half of HUB 302 People who went to the meet and greet got to write their goals on a “Before I Die” chalkboard.

Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
Tim Baca/HIGHLANDER
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