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October 13, 1962|
|Occupation||director, journalist, hypnotist, laughologist|
Filmmaking, Hypnotism, Oka Crisis, Laughing Championships, Trailervision
== Early life ==
Born in London, Ontario in 1962, Nerenberg studied English Drama at McGill University in Montreal, where he formed Theatre Shmeatre, an improvisational theatrical company, and served as editor in chief of the McGill Daily.
Formerly a newspaper reporter with the Montreal Gazette and talk radio host at CKGM, Nerenberg told the Montreal newspaper, La Presse, that he became a filmmaker after he smuggled a video camera through army lines during the 1990 Oka Crisis – a standoff between armed Mohawk Warriors and the Canadian military. The footage was later turned into his first documentary, entitled Okanada.
Among his early films was 1949, so-named because it cost only $19.49 to make, taking advantage of the sophistication of Hi-8 video equipment at that time.
Nerenberg was recognized by the Cinémathèque Québécoise as a film innovator for having had a role in some of the developments in contemporary filmmaking; including the hand-held revolution, the Truvie where fictional films are shot in real situations, and in creating the format of fictional movie trailers. In 2001 Nerenberg was the subject of a retrospective at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.
Nerenberg is the founder of Trailervision. Trailervision is the idea that movie trailers are their own artistic medium. CNN has profiled Trailervision, calling it an "international cult phenomenon."
Nerenberg has directed over 70 Trailervision trailers and over a dozen TV documentaries.
In 2005, Nerenberg directed Escape to Canada, a documentary about how Canada has unintentionally usurped America's place as the Land of the Free.
In 2007's Let's All Hate Toronto, Mr. Toronto (Nerenberg's eye-patched co-director Rob Spence) embarks on a coast-to-coast Canadian tour to promote “the centre of the universe” by waving a banner that reads “Toronto Appreciation Day.”
He was also founder of The World Stupidity Awards, an annual satirical awards show at the Just for Laughs festival honouring achievement in ignorance and stupidity. The awards are sponsored by Just for Laughs, one of the world's largest and most prestigious comedy festivals.
Nerenberg is also known for a widely publicized prank performed at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival. The director orchestrated the red carpet entry of a group of Trailervision actors as major movie stars to a major premiere. This was done by placing actors in the paparazzi who screamed the names of these fictional stars as they arrived by limo. The paparazzi responded by flashing their cameras frantically. The fake stars were rushed into the green room along with the real stars, "where they got drunk like showbiz kings". The prank is described in the online Museum of Hoaxes as The Toronto Film Festival Hoax.
As an actor, Nerenberg is known for his portrayal of the Modeman character, a mentally disabled janitor, who can speak "modem" and create web pages with his mouth. He also plays a sermonizing priest in the popular Trailervision web trailer, Kung Fu Jesus.
Nerenberg said that he got the idea for competitive laughter after attending a UFC fight were two fighters unintentionally started laughing during a stare down. “What I was seeing was a re-enactment of the greatest revolution that ever took place on the planet,” he said in the Canal D documentary Extreme Laughter. “The discovery of play.” Nerenberg organized the first ever Montreal Laughing Championships where using stare down’s and laughing fits,12 competitors would compete to see who was the champion. The laughers would be judged for their contagiousness effect on the audience. After that event, laughing championships would be organized in Japan, France, The Czech Republic and in Slovenia. The first American Laughing Championships would take place in April 2013 in San Diego at the Westin Hotel Ballroom and opened by then Mayor Bob Filner.
“Punching people in the face is a sport. Poking people with sticks is a sport. Why not have a sport about the pursuit of joy?” Nerenberg told The Pacific Standard.
At IdeaCity in 2014, Nerenberg made a controversial presentation suggesting that all drug and alcohol states can be replicated with hypnosis. He demonstrated by inviting volunteers from the audience. Under hypnosis he made one volunteer apparently drunk, while another on cocaine and two others on ecstasy. To conclude he asked the audience to invent a drug on the spot, which volunteers might experience. One audience member suggested "Ludicron" a drug which causes people to laugh and "think the audience is naked." When the drug state was implemented a volunteer laughed and screamed and claimed she could see hundreds of naked people. Nerenberg launched a project called The Hypnotic Bar, a kind of temporary night club where people are hypnotized to be drunk while drinking only water. Nerenberg said he got the idea of the Hypnotic Bar after coming across a statistic stating that more people are currently dying of drug and alcohol overdose's than at any other time in human history.
Nerenberg has been an advocate for better public understanding of Hypnosis. In a speech at TEDX Queens, Nerenberg challenged the audience to take standard tests of hypnotizability. Many audience members appears to go to sleep and some acting as if they were chickens. Nerenberg stated that hypnotic chicken behaviour is actually quite profound, revealing as key aspect of human nature, that we believe our dreams.
Nerenberg's most recent documentary entitled Laughology premiered at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in May 2009. The documentary makes the case that laughter is the original peace signal and the human ability to share and transmit laughter may have been key to the rise of human civilization. The film chronicles unusual laughter phenomena such as Holy Laughter, Laughter Parties and the Tanzanian Laughter Epidemic. Screenings of the film have been notable as fits of uncontrollable laughter have broken out following the film. Gabor Pertic writing in A&E Vibe described a packed screening at HotDocs International Film Festival in Toronto Canada. "The screening had some of the loudest collective laughs I have ever heard in a movie theatre."
Nerenberg frequently tours and speaks as a "Stupidity Expert" and more recently as a Laughologist, an expert on laughter. After traveling to India and studying the benefits of Laughter Yoga with Dr. Madan Kataria, Nerenberg invented Laughercize, a system of joy-inducing exercise that works off natural human contagious laughter. This technique has been used in a number of Canadian alcohol and drug rehab centres. He also invented the Laughter Party, which creates the same atmosphere as a wild party, without the need of drugs and alcohol.
Nerenberg also worked as a newspaper columnist for The Montreal Gazette. His most recent work is a 10 column series about the benefits and importance of positivity in today's world. In 2013 he completed the feature documentary Boredom. He is currently working on a new film about The Hypnotic Bar and a documentary titled You Are What You Act.
- Exclaim Magazine
- World Stupidity Awards
- TIFF Hoax 2000
- Toronto Film Festival Hoax
- A&E Vibe
- Laughter Party