Street: What’s the soundtrack to your life?
Josh Bennett: The current soundtrack to my life is Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. Socially critical, playful, lyrically complex — it’s essentially everything that I want people to say about my body of work when I’m gone.
Street: Who’s the coolest person you’ve ever met?
JB: The coolest person I’ve ever met would have to be [The Boondocks cartoonist] Aaron McGruder. He just has this kind of sly brilliance about him that’s so difficult to ignore.
Street: Do you recite Shakespearean sonnets in the shower?
JB: I certainly do not. I do however often find myself singing various selections from Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love album. Classic.
Street: What’s your guilty pleasure?
JB: My guilty pleasure is watching romantic comedies alone in my room with a Wawa tea and chicken parm sandwich.
Street: What’s your favorite alliteration and why?
JB: I’ve never really thought about it. It would probably be Gift of Gab’s (resident MC of the rap group Blackalicious) line in the song “Alphabet Aerobics” where he says “My mind makes marvelous moves, masses/Marvel and move, many mock what I’ve mastered.” Line after line of alliteration without sacrificing coherence. That’s real hip-hop.
Street: If you could change Penn’s name to avoid the Penn State confusion, what would it be?
JB: Remember on Boy Meets World, how Cory Matthews goes to college at a school called Pennbrook? That name sounds as if it is of Ivy League caliber. It also isn’t that different from what we have already, so it shouldn’t be that hard to remember. Do I get any type of compensation if it gets changed to that?
Street: What’s the most thrilling part of performing?
JB: The most thrilling part of performing is seeing the reactions on the faces of people in the audience when you say a certain line or part of a poem that is particularly moving to them. The way the expression on someone’s face changes when they begin to laugh, cry or smile uncontrollably at something you said forges this amazing feeling of connection between you and someone you may have never met before. There is this moment where the invisible barrier between the stage and the crowd breaks down and that individual is inside the story with you; they quite literally feel what you are saying.
Street: Do you ever imagine the audience naked to stave off stage jitters?
JB: I never have, but I’ve heard it works wonders and thus will be sure to try it before the [Penn’s on-campus spoken word group] Excelano show. In all seriousness though, why would it be less nerve-racking to perform for an audience of hundreds of naked people? If anything, that within itself would be jarring enough for me to forget my poem, thus ruining my performance in a way no jitters ever could. Now, imagining everyone in Elmo costumes? That would be cool.