Laughing the night away

Kelly Tyko

With a few big bowls of candy as a holiday backdrop, Leslie Nielsen opted to amuse his audience rather than scare them on Old Hollows Eve.

A crowd of approximately 125 people, made up mostly of students and members of the public, chuckled along with the 76-year-old actor/comedian.

Brought to FAU by the student club, the Student Film Association, the club’s advisor and FAU professor Anthony Guneratne said Nielsen’s visit was “only possible because of FAU’s close relationship with the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.”

Nielsen was in town for the film festival where his 1956 film, Forbidden Planet, was being shown. Guneratne who has taught Nielsen’s movies in his classes for the last 17 years, said that Forbidden Planet is “the greatest science fiction film ever.”

But the audience wanted to hear about Nielsen’s career in comedies – films like Naked Gun and Airplane.

“Comedy doesn’t happen by accident,” Nielsen said, when asked if there was ad libbing in his movies. “We really did adhere to what is [in] front of us [in the script].”

And every time Nielsen gave a trademark laugh, most of the crowd laughed with him.

At the close of the Q&A, the student club presented Nielsen with a four-minute video compilation of Nielsen’s filmography that they made in his honor.

Denis Warburton, the club’s vice president, was happy with the event. “I thought it was great. In his talk, he really explained the process of making films,” Warburton said.

Not everyone thought Nielsen’s visit was great. Some students, appearing to be in their early twenties, didn’t get what was so funny about Nielsen. They quietly picked up their backpacks and walked out.

But the event’s organizers were pleased with the turnout.

“This was all done last minute, which makes it both exciting and terrifying,” said Carlos Londoí±o, the club’s president.

And because of a scheduling conflict, the event’s time had to be changed at the last minute. While posters and a mass email said the event would start at 8 p.m., the event’s time was changed to 6:30 p.m. Some students came looking for Nielsen at 8 p.m. and left disappointed.

With the film festival in town, Guneratne said, there might be more events with not a lot of notice.

“We’re hoping to have more events but it depends on the actors and filmmakers availability,” said Guneratne. “It’s very exciting because they are all last minute events.”

The Fort Lauderdale Film Festival runs through Nov. 24 and student discount passes are available. For more information about the festival, go to

For more information about the Student Film Association, email [email protected]