An evening with Cam and Mitchell
Modern Family stars gratify CFA audience
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
In a venue that holds approximately 1,744, a near-capacity crowd focused on two people this weekend. That duo managed to take the venue and turn the atmosphere into that of the typical American living room.
On Saturday night, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell of ABC’s Modern Family) and Eric Stonestreet (Cameron) came to the Center For the Arts for a night of discussion, laughs and quality time with their fans at UB. The first half of the evening consisted of the actors interviewing each other, while the second half was an open forum for fans to ask the Modern Family couple anything they wished.
Ferguson and Stonestreet play a gay couple and fathers to a toddler on ABC’s hit series. Since the show’s premiere, the two have been considered a representation of gay culture in American society – a topic they immediately confronted on Saturday.
Ferguson, who is an active member in the LGBTQ community, commends Hollywood for its encouragement and use of gay characters in shows and films, and he hopes his time on Modern Family has helped pioneer the change.
“We have to remember the social relevance,” Ferguson said. “I think for some people, we make them think that since Cam and Mitch are a gay couple, maybe it’s an ‘in’ for other people to think: ‘Oh, if [they] are gay, then maybe it’s OK if I am, too.’”
Unlike his character on the show, Stonestreet is not gay. According to Stonestreet, his epiphany came while filming the pilot. Stonestreet’s character continuously used the phrase, “Oh my God, do you love it?”
He realized how similar the character was to his mother – a passionate, maternal figure. From there, Stonestreet took cues from the woman who raised him. In recognition of his performance, Stonestreet received an Emmy this year for Best Supporting Actor.
The audience responded well to the dynamic duo and appreciated how their onstage chemistry mimicked their chemistry on the show. Their witty banter throughout the night coupled with finishing one another’s sentences, which kept the audience clapping and laughing along with the actors.
One highlight of the show included Stonestreet and Ferguson answering a question about their craziest college stories. This moment received the loudest roar of laughter of the night.
Ferguson and Stonestreet both admitted to getting arrested.
On the count of three, they voiced their indiscretions: Stonestreet got into a bar fight and Ferguson got arrested for jumping a turnstile in NYC on his way to attend a Broadway show – something that didn’t surprise Stonestreet.
“I thought they were both hysterical,” said Zach Koman, a sophomore business major and avid Modern Family fan. “My favorite part was the college story because it showed how well they interacted with each other.”
The high level of audience involvement had much to do with the upbeat, humorous mood within the theater. Throughout the show, the actors checked their Twitter feeds and answered questions that fans at UB tweeted at them.
One fan named Bridget asked if she could serenade the two actors. Ferguson and Stonestreet made jokes about the wish and continued with their conversation, not expecting it to be brought up again.
However, during the open question and answer session 20 minutes later, Bridget’s father got on the microphone and asked why they wouldn’t let his daughter sing for them.
Eventually Stonestreet gave in and urged Bridget to sing any song she would like, which ended up being “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Audience members stood up, put their hands on their hearts and listened to the girl croon from the balcony level, which brought out Stonestreet’s character on Modern Family as he encouraged her to always follow her dreams.
The comedic relief then came from Bridget’s brother when he grabbed the microphone and apologized for his “annoying older sister.”
During the question and answer session, discussion topics ranged from life on the road to expectations for Buffalo’s beloved Bills – a team Stonestreet wasn’t very confident in.
The most endearing question of the night came from a young boy who asked: “How are you guys so funny?”
Ferguson answered by praising his co-star’s ability to make people laugh.
“You can’t learn how to have chemistry with someone, and since Eric is a funny guy, it’s easy to be funny with him,” Ferguson said.
Corey Rosen, a sophomore communication and film studies major, thought the speakers were fascinating.
"They have great chemistry on screen as well as off screen, which is comforting to know,” Rosen said.
Stonestreet and Ferguson closed the night by thanking the audience and relayed hopes that Modern Family will continue to be a relatable, comedic show for families to enjoy for years to come.