TNB Takes on Sundance 2016

TNB Takes on Sundance 2016

Jimmy Sansone @ 2016-01-26 16:47:46 -0600


I knew of the Sundance Film Festival. I knew they gave awards to movies, celebrities came and partied, and Robert Redford walked around like the legend he is.

But I had never considered going.

That all changed last week when we got the call inviting us to the Toyota Mirai Music Lodge right in the heart of Park City. It took about one Google search and two seconds for our team here to say, “yep.”

So we borrowed ski gear from friends, packed up our office, told our family to meet us out there, and jumped on a flight to Park City.

Here’s what our days looked like: 



We got out there bright and early Wednesday morning and the snow was dumping, so we put off any work plans and jumped on the slopes all day.


My legs felt like jelly for the rest of the trip.

That night we had one of the best meals of my life at The Riverhorse on Main. This meal was 4 hours of bliss. 


They had to roll us out of there. That morning we had gotten up at 3 am to catch our flight and were in no condition to go out, so it was home to bed after dinner.


We woke up early to start setting up our location in the Toyota Mirai Music Lodge. We were the coffee sponsor, and none of us are big coffee drinkers so we had to figure out what people wanted with their caffeine. We set up banners, moved merchandise, and kept wishing we were back on the mountain.

That afternoon my family showed up. Never wanting to miss the opportunity to hang out together, my parents and six of my siblings came in hot. They skied that afternoon, and then we all met at Oishi Sushi for some Stellas and volcano rolls.

After dinner, we headed home again not really knowing what to expect for the first day of Sundance.
Actually – some of us went out. But there are no pictures. 


We got to the space early, and got our stuff set up. There seemed to be a lot of people from LA running around acting extremely busy, but we never saw them actually moving anything. We also got asked if we had vegan milk a few times, after which we just laughed.

The space started getting packed at about 10 am. Some guy came over to our booth to hang out. I recognized him, but couldn’t remember from where. He talked wrestling (which I haven’t watched since the Goldberg days) and loved our copper mugs. He kept coming back after his interviews because he said it was relaxing to talk to normal people. He finally got ushered away by the six short and loud women in his entourage.

We looked him up and he is Kieran Culkin, brother of Macaulay Culkin, and yes – Fuller.
Great great guy.

After Fuller left, we saw a big commotion, and one of the Jonas brothers walked in – Nick to be exact. I quickly texted my mom and sisters to ask for some help. My mom told me he’s “Greek and Italian just like us!” and my sisters told me to take a video of him saying hi to them.

I decided to approach him with the “I-have-a-lot-of-brothers-too” angle and the Greek/Italian thing. Then I figured after he loved me, I would get him to do the videos and wear The Normal Brand for the rest of his life.

Didn’t go well.

Below is screenshots of the group text with my whole family.


You catch that awesome shot of us? Took some time to recover from that one. 

But I had to rebound quickly. Sam Neill aka Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park was in the room. The original Jurassic Park is an all-timer. That movie made me look at cups of water differently. 

Unfortunately we never got to him, but we will always have this: 

Even though it seems like it was a grim day, it did end on a high note. Andra Day performed for the room, and she is unreal. If you don’t know about her now – you will soon.

That night we headed to Riverhorse on Main again with our team. We had a few drinks and a little fun.

That’s all I will say about that night. But suffice to say, my brothers turned up the heat.



Getting up in the am was a struggle. The half-eaten pizza on the floor was a painful reminder of Friday night’s festivities.

We decided to do a little skiing before heading to the Music Lodge. Snow was pouring down and it was too good to pass up.

Here’s a video of my sister wiping out. The play by play announcer is my dad.

After a few runs, we hustled to our space to prepare to meet some celebrities.

We met a bunch of them including Casey Affleck (great guy), Craig Robinson (hilarious), Justin Long (eh), and a bunch of writers/producers I acted like I knew, and a ton of free loaders.

But our favorite was Judd Apatow – totally down to earth, hilarious, and loved our stuff. 


Judd will be rocking TNB in the near future. 

That night we went to Grappa, an Italian restaurant. 

Shooter McGavin there in the middle is my 18 year old brother, Anthony. 

We actually sat right next to Jon Hamm, a TNB supporter: 

I had met him once and it was a complete disaster. Quick Recap: 

A friend of mine knows Jon Hamm (from here on out, let’s call him Don Draper). He called me and said Don Draper was in town, and would I like to meet him? Of course the answer was yes.

Don Draper had been photographed all over the country wearing the Waxed Canvas Cap. I wanted to say thanks and hopefully get him to keep wearing it.

The guy is the man. Every single character he plays seems cool and in real life he legit seems like a good guy. I was pumped.

I head over to the Ritz Carlton to meet my friend and then subsequently meet Don Draper. I get there and my friend isn’t there. This was not surprising, so I sat at the bar alone to wait for my friend. 10 minutes turned into 30 turned into an hour turned into an hour and a half. I finally had enough and wasn’t much for the $15 cocktails or the champagne and caviar crowd, so I told my friend I would meet him at another bar and we would head back over to the Ritz when Don Draper showed up. 

That night I purposefully went for the every-man look with a little TNB accent. I wore a pair of jeans, a grey V neck, and a Waxed Canvas Cap (this was in the summer and before our clothes came out FYI – we only had hats). I figured Don would recognize the hat and appreciate the classic Americana look. Looking back on this – why would he ever care? 

I head out to the valet, and of course who’s getting out of his car and walking right towards me? Don Draper. Shit. How do I handle this without looking like a) a stalker or b) a nerd? 

I froze for a second, but time was running out. It was either a) punk out and act like I didn’t see him and hope I would meet him later b) make eye contact, act like I don’t know who he is or like I’m not impressed or c) shake his hand, don’t let go, mumble about my company and the hat he wore a month ago and ignore the signs as he obviously pulled away from me while I refuse to let go of his hand like a maniac. 

I went with C.

It took about a half of a second after I unclenched my sweaty grasp on Don Draper’s hand that I realized how bad that was. I turned around, made eye contact with the valet guy who just sort of shook his head, and I screamed a four letter word into my hands. 

I drove to see my friend and told him that was it – I wasn’t going back. Don Draper thinks I’m insane and blew me off in an unreal way. I didn’t even blame him for blowing me off - it was my fault. My friend calmed me down and I came up with a plan. I changed shirts and ditched the hat. Maybe he wouldn’t recognize me. 

“You serious” my friend said, “you think that will work?” 

“yeah man. I’ll just say it must have been one of my brothers.” 

“I guess.” 

So we headed back to the Ritz. I went to the bar first for obvious reasons. My friend brought Don Draper over and the guy couldn’t have been nicer. He complimented the hat, the brand, the messaging, and said he was all in. The world needed a company like The Normal Brand he said. 

At the end he said, “didn’t we meet outside?” 

“No.. I don’t think so.”

Anyways, back to Sundance. Don Draper was right next to me and my wounds were still fresh. So I kept it short, sweet, and complimentary. He seemed to remember me and was very gracious. We went our separate ways, and I still had my dignity. 

That night some of us went to the nightspot Tao. It was a nice time.


Honestly Sunday we were ready to get back to the Midwest. We went to Church in the morning, did some packing, and headed back to the Music Lodge. 

We were pretty sick of the LA handlers, and the “are these cups made of hemp?” questions. 

But we did have a good day and met some nice really nice people including: 

Katie Couric: 
Hey Jimmy – look more awkward. 
Charlie Day: 
Viggo Mortensen: 
Twan Kyper and Joe Taranto: 
Caleb Castille and Brando Eaton: 
Two Probably Really Famous Random Dudes (comment if you know who they are):



And finally, our week in Sundance was over. Great time, great memories.

But it’s good to be home.


When you guys become hot-shot celebrities of your own, hope you still associate with the “little” people back in St. Lou… Awesome read and from the sound of it, an even better time had… Oh, and the Shooter McGavin reference had me rollin’…

John Olsen @ 2016-01-29 16:05:31 -0600

I would have done the same thing if I met Jon… I mean Don Draper. Funny stuff.

P.J. Cox @ 2016-01-28 20:38:37 -0600

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing TNB. Get it shakin. I know you are.

Nikko @ 2016-01-28 16:05:04 -0600

You guys are the cutest! Thanks for the very real, very “normal” commentary on your time at Sundance. Wishing you continued success.

Joan Walsh @ 2016-01-27 22:13:57 -0600

Being from the middle of the middle (Columbia) I would say that I hope that your being there changed their lives and did not change yours.

Jim Aldridge @ 2016-01-27 19:00:56 -0600
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