That time I sang for Paul Rudd

Posted on Feb 27, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

IMG_news_paludanandruddPaul Rudd, ’92, is super nice and knows how to throw a great party. This much we could assume based on the fun-loving characters he plays in the movies, but let’s be honest. How many of us have actually met the guy? Sure, we feel like we know him–he’s a Jayhawk, right? But he’s also a big movie star, and his down-to-earth charm is saved only for hobnoberati of Hollywood. At least that’s what I thought until his picture popped up on a friend’s Facebook feed.

Kirsten Paludan, c’98, is a talented musician and KU classmate of mine who recently performed for Rudd at his mom’s birthday party. So, let’s have it, Kirsten. He can’t really be that cool of guy, can he? She dishes in our exclusive Q&A.

So, what was it like meeting Paul Rudd?

He was incredibly funny, self-effacing and gracious, kind and also very present; It seemed that everyone who came up to him to talk received his full attention, and he went out of his way to make all of us feel at ease. Super nice guy and just as he appears on screen. He also knows how to throw a great party.

He and I actually know some people in common because, like me, he studied acting in the Theatre Department at KU. We talked about how we just missed each other- he was there from ’88-’90 and I was a freshman in ’90.

How’d you get the gig?

The event was a surprise birthday party for Paul Rudd’s mom. His sister was the one who called Jeff Wright, the drummer and booking agent for the band. She’d seen us play several times and thought we were the best fit for the party.

Tell me about your group… any KU connections?

Kokomo was founded by Jeff Wright (a dues paying member of the Alumni Association, undergrad and masters at KU. Jeff’s daughter just graduated from KU and is a 5th generation. He told me he reads the alumni magazine religiously!) and Jeff Moffet (who also attended KU) in Lawrence after meeting at KU. The very first gig they played was for an SUA concert in 1981 as the backing band for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. I joined the band in the late 90‘s. We’ve had several members throughout the years who either lived in Lawrence or attended KU. (Editor’s note: Kokomo played at the Rock Chalk Ball four years ago.)

Any other brushes with celebrities (including, I suppose, Missouri graduates)?

Performing with Kokomo, I’ve met Paul Rudd and John Travolta, and have shared the stage with Sheryl Crow (Editor’s note: Ms. Crow attended Mizzou). Two years ago, she attended a wedding we played and decided to join the band for a few numbers. I sang back up for her on ‘All I Wanna Do’ and she sang back up for me on ‘Every Day is a Winding Road’. That was a very fun, surreal moment. The same summer, I was asked to sing in Alejandro Escovedo’s back up band for a concert he played at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. I’ve also met actor Jeffrey Wright and Jonathan Rhys-Myers (I was a casting assistant for the Ang Lee movie ‘Ride With the Devil’ and was in the film- got the job because of my KU connection) and several members of the cast of the original Melrose Place (due to a talent competition I won at KU where the grand prize was a walk on role on the show, gifted by a KU alumnus who worked for Spelling Entertainment), and last summer through mutual friends I was blessed to meet one of my musical idols, the incredible Neko Case.

Wow! So, what’s next for you professionally?

A LOT. 🙂
I’ve been working with Matt Pryor (of the Get Up Kids) on his new solo album, providing back up vocals.

Next up, I’m working on ‘Cowboy Cabaret II: Songs of Sin & Redemption’, a variety show created by yours truly and the Starhaven Rounders (the country band I front). This is the second installment of the show, which is co-produced with the Lawrence Arts Center, and it promises to be even better than the first one, with incredible music, killer performances, and fabulous guests.

I’m also planning to record a 6 song EP this spring and will be booking shows with my band in Lawrence, KC and a few regional dates. In addition, my sister, Kari (also a KU alumna) and I are developing a show and series of workshops for the Lied Center about the artist brain that will premiere in the spring of their 2016-2017 season.

I also began teaching private voice and guitar lessons last year and will continue to build my studio, as well. It is so gratifying to inspire future musicians and artists in my community!

That is a lot! How did your time in Lawrence and at KU prepare you for your career?

Lawrence is an inspiring place. It has a rich artistic history and is a creative breeding ground for free thinkers who like to push the envelope. It is also a place where people care about and understand the importance of the arts. I was born and raised in Lawrence by ridiculously supportive parents (my mom a dancer/director and working artist, my dad a historian/writer) who both taught at KU.

Lawrence is my home and the town that made me who I am. The university is an extension of that.

In my time there, I was exposed to an incredibly broad range of knowledge and was taught and encouraged by educators who were truly invested in their students. As a working artist I’ve found, as in life, you have to be prepared for anything, and that diversity and depending on your community are the key to long term success. All of the education and experiences, and the encouragement from my parents (and the KU/Lawrence community as a whole), gave me an incredible foundation from which to grow. I am so lucky to be a Lawrencian and a Jayhawk!

We couldn’t agree more, Kirsten! Thanks for sharing your amazing experience–and talent–with KU alumni! (Oh, and the next time you see him, say “Hi” to Paul Rudd from all of us!) Rock Chalk!

Left to right is Kevin Rogers, guitarist, Paul Rudd, Kirsten Paludan, vocals, and Emmett Lee, vocals and percussion.

Links to Kirsten Paludan’s music can be found below:

Facebook music page for upcoming shows and info.
Kirsten’s music is streaming and available for purchase on Bandcamp at
Kirsten’s most recent album on iTunes:
More music on iTunes:
–David Johnston

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Rock Chalk, Royals!

Posted on Nov 5, 2015 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Rock Chalk Kansas City
Congratulations, Kansas City!

In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, the Kansas City Royals stormed their way to a World Series championship, winning the hearts of America and earning the respect of fans who appreciate baseball the way it’s supposed to be played. With the enthusiasm of kids playing sandlot ball, Kansas City beat the New York Mets in five games to #TaketheCrown and their first World Series championship in 30 years.

As exciting as their performance was in Kansas City’s second consecutive World Series appearance, the celebration that followed was perhaps even more impressive. Fans flooded Mass Street in Lawrence immediately after the win, and approximately 800,000 area fans attended Kansas City’s parade and rally on Monday, with barely any incidents reported by police. We couldn’t be more proud.

Kansas City is home to almost 100,000 KU alumni and friends, making it one of the strongest Jayhawk networks in the country. And the entire Jayhawk network, made up of fans and former students with ties to this area, salutes Kansas City. Enjoy this royal roundup of tributes from KU alumni and friends.

Rock Chalk, Kansas City Royals!

Posted by KU Alumni Association on Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lawrence residents and KU students love to celebrate on Mass Street after championships. Congrats to the Kansas City Royals! #rockchalk

Posted by KU Alumni Association on Monday, November 2, 2015

Paul Rudd is a Kansas City native, a Jayhawk, and a huge Kansas City Royals fan. He was pretty excited after last night’…

Posted by KU Alumni Association on Monday, November 2, 2015

An estimated 800,000 fans enjoyed the Kansas City Royals World Series parade and rally on Tuesday. The Kansas City…

Posted by FOX 4 News Kansas City on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

–David Johnston

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A Royal roundup

Posted on Oct 17, 2014 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

In case you haven’t heard, the Kansas City Royals baseball team is headed to the World Series after sweeping the American League Championship Series with four straight victories over the Baltimore Orioles.

KU fans love their Jayhawks, but they love the Royals, too.

Actors and Kansas City-area natives Rob Riggle and Paul Rudd, who both attended classes on the Hill, are well-known Royals fans. Riggle, c’93, recently served as grand marshal of KU’s Homecoming parade and posted this photo on his Instagram account showing his excitement after the Royals won the ALCS.

American League Champions @Royals!!! This is a wonderful, wonderful day!!!

Rudd, ’92, went one better: the die-hard fan jokingly invited fans to party at his mom’s house after the game and took selfies on the field with Royals players.

Paul Rudd interview with KMBC News

— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) October 15, 2014

Even Bill Self got in on the fun and enjoyed a fall night at the K with his son, Tyler, where they watched the Royals beat the Angels to win the ALDS.


— Bill Self (@CoachBillSelf) October 6, 2014

And one more tidbit, just for fun: Royals fans are probably familiar with SungWoo Lee, the die-hard Korean fan who adopted the team two decades ago and who made his first trip to Kauffman Stadium this past August. Filmmaker Josh Swade, the KU superfan who was instrumental in bringing the James Naismith’s Original Rules of Basket Ball to Lawrence and co-directed “There’s No Place Like Home,” the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the quest, confirmed on his Twitter account that Lee will return to the K for the first game of the World Series on Tuesday.

Many of the KU Alumni Association’s alumni networks are busy organizing Royals watch parties in their cities. It’s another great way to enjoy camaraderie with fellow Jayhawks. Be sure to check out our list of alumni networks and their Facebook groups to find a watch party in your area. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, and go Royals!

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Paul Rudd and Tina Fey show off Jayhawk spirit

Posted on Feb 13, 2013 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Every KU fan has probably seen the photo of famous actors Paul Rudd, ’92, and Tina Fey holding KU shirts that was widely circulated on Facebook late last week:

Paul Rudd and Tina Fey with KU Jayhawk shirts |

Photo submitted by Teresa of Mix 93.3

But have you heard the story behind it?

The host of the Rocket and Teresa Show on Mix 93.3 radio station in Kansas City, Teresa, was invited to fly to New York City for a screening of Rudd and Fey’s new movie, “Admission,” and to interview the stars.

Teresa has worked with Paul’s mother, Gloria, to help promote his annual Big Slick charity poker tournament in Kansas City. Before her trip to New York, Teresa asked Gloria for something cute she could take along as a gift, and Gloria gave her a book and some other trinkets from his old bedroom to give him as a joke (we didn’t get the inside scoop on just what those items were).

Since the movie “Admission” is about getting into college, Teresa also asked Kansas Sampler/Rally House if they would provide KU shirts for the actors, and of course they said yes.

Although Teresa didn’t attend KU, she has lived in the Kansas City area since 2000, and according to her bio on the Mix 93.3 website, her two sons “think they are automatically Jayhawks just because they were born in Kansas.”

The now-famous picture was taken at the Waldorf-Astoria on Friday, Feb. 8.

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