Excited to return back to Tampa, where they crossed off No. 36 on their 100-item bucket list, the cast of MTV’s “The Buried Life” spoke to a packed crowd Tuesday night.
The group’s introduction to Tampa came when they threw the first pitch in a Major League game against the Tampa Bay Rays match. Yet David Lingwood, Ben Nemtin, Duncan Penn and Jonnie Penn returned to share the rest of their pre-death adventures in a University Lecture Series (ULS) speech in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom.
Lingwood had his own entrance, coming in with a back flip and break dancing before taking his pants off and throwing them into the full-capacity crowd. Kristie Gerber, director for the Center of Student Involvement, said the ballroom seats 700-800 people.
Some of the goals “The Buried Life” cast has completed include playing basketball with President Barack Obama, which Jonnie called the craziest thing he’s ever done. Lingwood said the craziest thing he’s done from the list was streaking in a field.
But as part of the tour, the castmates are encouraging others to achieve their goals. A common request they have received comes from people looking to score their first kiss, Jonnie said.
“We’ve had a couple first kisses, but I think I’m getting too old for that,” he said. “There was one girl who was 22 or 23, (and) I was at South by Southwest. And she came up to me and she’s like, ‘I’ve never had my first kiss.’ I was like, ‘Well, OK, I’ll give you your first kiss.'”
Yet some of the goals the cast helped realize were more poignant, such as reconnecting a man with a son he had abandoned and providing a Toys ‘R’ Us shopping spree to a group of kids with terminal brain cancer.
In another instance, a fan told the cast the show helped the fan break through depression after two friends passed away.
“There is so much pressure to be somebody else,” Jonnie said. “But we’ve learned doing ‘The Buried Life’ that it’s OK to be you and to believe whatever you believe in, to take responsibility for yourself and for all the things you want to do with your life. It’s not a scary feeling, it’s an empowering feeling to know that you can do almost anything you set your mind to.”
The four friends started their mission six years ago to do 100 things before they died. They were all in college and each had their own reason for wanting to take on the challenge.
Duncan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business in 2007 and went on a camping trip with a few of his buddies that summer. On that the very last night of the trip, his close friend Rob accidentally drowned.
“It was that moment and coming back with that and dealing with that in my life, that kind of changed my whole perspective on what I thought was important,” he said. “And it was about that time that we came together and started talking about what we wanted to do with our lives.”
Nemtin went to college to study kinesiology, where he reunited with a boy he went to high school with who had launched his own clothing line.
“I saw him and I was like, ‘Man, how did you do that?’ and he said ‘What do you mean?'” Nemtin said. “That was the first time I ever stopped and thought that if he can do that, what can I do?”
The visit was part of the cast’s college tour co-sponsored by Verizon Wireless. “The Buried Life” cast has now driven across every state in the U.S., speaking at different schools and crossing another item off their list.
“We’ve gone to almost every state,” Jonnie said. “One of the items on the list was to drive across the country, but now we’re actually going to get to cross off ‘Go to every state.'”
– Additional reporting by Michael Manganello