For Proctors' CEO Philip Morris, the prospect of seeing a former vice president of the U.S. on stage in Schenectady talking to his patrons was too good to let pass.
"Yeah, I guess it was a no-brainer," said Morris. "How often do you get a vice president who wants to come to you. What an interesting opportunity, so I said, 'yeah, sure.' "
Joe Biden, a former U.S. Senator of Delaware and a two-term vice president under Barack Obama from 2008-2016, will be at Proctors Monday at 7:30 p.m. for the Joe Biden American Promise Tour. Following a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired this past Sunday, Biden began his tour at New York City's Lincoln Center on Monday by being interviewed by comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert. Monday night at Proctors, Biden will be interviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart.
"Personalities are interesting people," said Morris. "We've been playing around with this idea for a while now, and we're still testing it and making sure it all makes sense."
Morris expects a pretty good turnout Monday night for Biden, who is using this tour, subtitled, "Finding Purpose in a Time of Uncertainty," to sell his recently published book, "Promise Me Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose." Biden lost his oldest son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
Biden, who turns 75 on Monday, hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2020. On Monday’s “Today Show,” Biden told Megyn Kelly that he hadn’t made up his mind yet about a 2020 presidential run.
A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden was an attorney before running for the U.S. Senate in 1972 and winning. He won five more elections and was the fourth most senior senator when he resigned to assume the office of vice president under Obama in 2009. He ran for president in 1988 and lost the nomination to Massachusetts Senator Michael Dukakis, and ran again 2008, losing this time to Obama, who picked him as his vice presidential candidate.
A graduate of Syracuse University and the Syracuse University of Law, Biden lost his first wife and a one-year-old daughter when they were killed in an automobile accident in December of 1972. He married his second wife, Jill, in 1979.
The format of one or two persons sitting down and talking to the audience isn't a new one according to Morris, but he said Proctors began doing it more and more after Mel Brooks came to town for a screening of his classic comic film, "Blazing Saddles," and a question and answer session. While Brooks practically filled the house, celebrities Alan Alda and Nathan Lane, who came to Proctors for separate shows last Thursday and Friday, didn't draw that big of a crowd.
Morris said he's never quite sure what to expect with this kind of programming, but he was pleasantly surprised when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke before a full house at Proctors back in February. Among the film stars that drew well to Proctors for a movie screening and a conversation with the audience were Sophia Loren in March of 2016 and John Cleese in January earlier this year.
"Thomas Friedman did much better than I thought he would," said Morris, referring to the show's ticket sales. "I was surprised Alda and Lane didn't do better, particularly Nathan Lane. He's a Broadway performer at the top of his game, in a Broadway house, so I was a little disappointed in the community response. But we got around 1,200 people, and he was great."
Capehart, the man who will lead the conversation with Biden Monday night, is a member of the Washington Post editorial board and a contributor at MSNBC. Capehart won his Pulitzer Prize while at the Daily News in New York for a series of editorials on Harlem's Apollo Theatre.
Biden speaks in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday night. After stopping in Schenectady on Monday, he will take a short break before resuming his tour the following Monday, Nov. 27, in Westbury. His 15-city tour ends up in Asheville, North Carolina on Dec. 14.
The next "conversation" at Proctors will also have a political bent to it when New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks makes an appearance on Jan. 17.
Joe Biden: American Promise Tour
Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
How much: $175-$75. VIP tickets are $300
More info: (518) 346-6204, www.proctors.org