- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

He has gone where no man has gone before, chased down criminals in an unnamed city strangely resembling Los Angeles and fought off demons while speaking Esperanto. And a half-century into his Hollywood career, he still has the. Most. Recognizable. Cadence. In showbiz.

At 84, William Shatner has no plans to slow down. The legendary “Star Trek” actor and master self-promoter will share stories of his life and career Thursday at the Warner Theatre in his one-man show “Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It.”

“I advocate that this brief time that we’re here on Earth, we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to every experience,” he told The Washington Times. “And to have joy and have awe and wonder at the world around us to say ‘yes’ to life.”

Mr. Shatner is excited to bring his one-man show to the District following its successful 2012 Broadway run. The Montreal native calls the nation’s capital “the center of the world,” both politically and artistically.

Those in the acting trade, he says, aspire to perform in Washington “because of the possibility of political people and people with a lot of power and prestige [seeing] them. I’m hoping that that’s what will happen” with his performance Thursday.

While his hour-plus monologue naturally will touch on his legacy as a pop culture icon, “Star Trek,” “T.J. Hooker” and his penchant for self-promotion and self-parody, Mr. Shatner says it’s important to find humor in otherwise unfunny matters such as death — an especially potent subject at his age.

“There’s a great deal of humor in death,” he says, adding that “within the seeds of grief lies great humor.”

His father, Joseph, died in 1968, just as Mr. Shatner’s star was rising. In the show, he discusses the pain of that loss — as well as how his father’s lesson about the value of a dollar reared its head in an unexpected way when making funeral arrangements.

“When I was looking over coffins in which to bury him, I heard his voice say to me, ‘Spend the money on the living and buy the plain pinewood box, not the expensive coffin,’” he says. “We buried him in the pinewood coffin, and I said to my sister, ‘Daddy would have been very proud of me. I got a great deal on the coffin.’ And she said, ‘Why, was it used?’”

His imitable speech pattern has served him, well, by infusing his dramatic portrayals with a touch of humor.

As Capt. James T. Kirk, Mr. Shatner commanded the Starship Enterprise on its mission across the far reaches of the galaxy, and as Sgt. T.J. Hooker, he waged a one-man war against street crime in Southern California.

And as Marc, he embodied a near-saintly target of demonic destruction in 1966’s “Incubus,” a low-budget horror movie filmed in the artificial language of Esperanto.

‘I’m better than you’

Over the years, Mr. Shatner has spent tremendous time and effort in his passion for raising show horses, and he has won several championships.

He also has written or co-written dozens of books, from “Star Trek” adventures — including one that saw Kirk revived from the dead after being killed in the 1994 film “Star Trek: Generations” — to his lengthy “Tek War” series.

His nonfiction oeuvre includes remembrances of his decades in the public spotlight, plus a new book about his late “Star Trek” co-star Leonard Nimoy, who died in March at age 83. “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man” will hit shelves Feb. 16.

Mr. Shatner found himself at the center of a PR imbroglio after announcing he would be unable to attend Nimoy’s funeral in California due to a pre-existing obligation to a Red Cross benefit in Florida.

“I read as little of [the negative press] as possible,” Mr. Shatner said of the attacks he faced. “The problem was there were 1,000 people who had given a great deal of money at this fundraiser in Florida I had to be at. And Leonard died unexpectedly.

“It was my perception that we turn to dust very quickly, whether it’s a day, a week or a year. What is not forgotten is the good deeds we do. As I told [the Red Cross gathering] that night, ‘Let us remember Leonard [in making] donations to the Red Cross, and those good deeds will reverberate for many years to come.’”

Aping Mr. Shatner’s punctuated prose has become a staple for comedians. Mr. Shatner takes such mocking in stride, often asking his wife, “Is that me?” whenever he sees an impersonation of himself.

Actor Kevin Pollak’s impressions of Mr. Shatner have become legendary in Hollywood circles, but Mr. Shatner says the comedian’s riff on him is not an exact replica but rather “him doing me.”

Subject and copycat once worked together on a comedy short, in which Mr. Shatner directed his own mimic.

“He started doing me, and I said, ‘No, no, you can’t be as good as me. Even if I’m bad, I’m better than you,’” Mr. Shatner said of Mr. Pollak’s effort. “What you think of as a bad imitation of me is [actually] me. It was so funny, we laughed long and hard.”

While his later acting career has veered from the reaches of outer space — he even scored an Emmy as the smarmy Denny Crane on “Boston Legal” in 2005 — it is for Kirk and his own caricature that Mr. Shatner continues to be known the world over, with fans still approaching him to talk “Trek” minutiae as well as what he “knows about the UFOs.”

Mr. Shatner says D.C. audiences who see him at the Warner will be in for an evening of laughter, poignancy and illumination.

“This show is about passion, about saying ‘yes’ to new love and ‘yes’ to new ideas,” he said. “Get out there and make the best of the brief time we’re here. And it’s done with laughter, occasional tears and maybe a moment or two of some observation. You will have the most entertaining time.”

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