w00tstock SDCC: My God–It’s Full of Stars!

Sometimes you order a large barrel of Awesome and they accidentally send you the DELUXE MEGA-ECONOMY SIZE. That is precisely what happened at w00tstock 2.4 SDCC. An SRO sellout crowd of around 800 was utterly rocked by each and every performer, as well as a handful of  surprise guests. And we know that this comment is becoming as common as v1agr@ spam, but as much fun as it was for the audience, it was just as exciting for the performers, both on stage and off.

You’ll find plenty of pictures and videos out there, and Wil wrote a terrific first-hand account, so we’ll just hit the highlights and do a bit of well-deserved ass-kissing, more or less in chronological order:

BEFORE THE SHOW EVEN STARTED

Our friends at ThinkGeek kindly offered to coordinate with Ice Cream Man to give out free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to the people waiting in line to get into the show. Let’s say those words again: FREE BEN & JERRY’S ICE CREAM. If that doesn’t illustrate just how much we love you, then nothing will.

(Seriously, we had little to do with it other than saying “hell, yes, you should do that!” to the ThinkGeek folks; many thanks to them for putting that treat together!)

FREE MOLLY!

If you follow us on Twitter you already know that things went haywire well before showtime, with under-21 Molly Lewis being told that she wasn’t allowed to even set foot in the venue because of the terms of the their liquor license (not their fault–allowing an except could more or less shut them down.) She was allowed to perform, but had to be escorted between the side door and the stage, lest the demon alcohol get close enough to sully her soul. But she handled it like a grizzled veteran, and the first Mollystock was held during intermission, during which she took requests from the 200 or so who gathered around her like the world’s most polite, attentive zombie horde. As Wil Wheaton said, this is just another reason why Molly Lewis is a national treasure.

WIL LAUNCHES, THE FIRST SURPRISE, and GENERAL FIRST HALF KICK-ASSITUDE!

Continuing the tradition, Wil pumped up the already excited crowd with his opening remarks. He then talked about how a certain Mythbuster would be coming out earlier than some might expect, priming the audience for Adam. But much to the audience’s delight (judging by their sustained high-decibel output), out walked Jamie Hyneman to introduce Yours Trulies. “Opening Band” was sung, designer panties were flung, and Len Peralta set up shop to begin the night’s custom poster.

photo by vissago

The escorted Molly charmed and rocked the audience with the help of Real Rock Star Jason Finn, including a song appropriate to the 21+ incident (Save Ferris’ “Under 21″) that she learned with Jason JUST BEFORE THE SHOW BEGAN.

Then Rifftrax (Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Mike Nelson) ripped up the crowd with a live-riff of the highly instructional “Lunchroom Manners”. Surprise the 2nd was Foxtrot writer/creator Bill Amend, who came on to introduce Matt Fraction, whose presentation on his writing inspirations and experiences is an amazing window into how creativity works at its best.

The Nerdist, Chris Hardwick, then demonstrated why he’s become one of the foremost voices of geekdom, absolutely killing during his set and handling the first appearance of Chewbacca (Adam) like a champ. Also appearing with Chewie was Surprise the 3th, Grant Imahara (more on him later).

Next came Wil’s recounting of his first Rocky Horror experience, “When You Dressed Up Sharp and You Felt Alright”, accompanied by Yours Trulies. It’s been inspirational to see how Wil continues to tinker and adjust the telling, bringing out more audience reaction each time with his narrative that demonstrates how even those who think of themselves as outsiders or awkward outcasts realize can, if they choose, find a place to belong.

photo by vissago

During Wil’s set came Surprise the 4th: AARON FRAKKING DOUGLAS, otherwise recognized as Chief Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica, dressed in complete flight deck regalia. Predictably and delightfully, it was a show-stopping moment—one that would have been difficult for most to recover from. But because Wil and the w00tstock crowd’s minds were already thoroughly melded (and because Wil was as geeked out as anyone within ten square miles), we managed to compose ourselves and complete the set.

SECOND HALF: NO STOP TO THE ROCKIN’!

After the Mollystock intermission, things jumped right back to life with Bad Astronomer Phil Plait showing the audience the firmament in a surprising new light, followed by Surprise the 5th: the delightful Veronica Belmont, introducing Marian Call. Mark our words: much like Molly Lewis, Marian is a performer we’re all likely be saying “I remember when she was only…” in the not-too-distant future. She was accompanied during her intense and engaging performance by her guitarist Scott Barkan (amazing in his own right) and a manual typewriter, and we and Molly had the privilege of sitting in during her nerd anthem. It was a true pleasure.

How do you top that? How about a demonstration of magic that leaves a roomful of very smart people questioning their disbelief? Done. Jamy Ian Swiss did the impossible, creating absolute silence in a roomful of ADD-addled geeks as they tried to reconcile what they saw with what their rational minds know to be true. Their brains slipped back into gear just in time for Adam Savage.
To be in the audience (or backstage) the moment before Adam Savage comes out to perform is delicious. You would think that after 3 1/2 hours of top-shelf nerdery that the crowd might be getting full, but paradoxically the entire spread only magnified the crowd’s hunger, and with the introduction handled by Jamie Hyneman, the moment was beyond ripe to bursting. And of course Adam delivered the goods, closing his comedy set with his impression of Gollum singing “I Will Survive”, accompanied by Jason Finn and Chewbacca (Storm).

A trio of songs by some comedy-music duo (meh) brought us to the closing madness that is “The Captain’s Wife’s Lament”, which clocked in at a relatively reasonable 24 minutes. At this point the song is more or less a convenient playpen that we, Adam, Wil (and, when available, Jason Finn) use to crack wise in public, which we certainly did. Plus, in this instance, there was help from the aforementioned Grant Imahara, providing authoritative versions of Jamie Hyneman “Arrrrs.”

Special thanks to our Dungeon Master (stage manager) “Dammit” Liz Smith for putting out dozens of metaphorical little fires*, to Aleks Barbour for stepping up to the sound board helm and safely guiding us through the asteroid field, and to all of our unstoppable volunteers. Together, they helped make the night as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible for audience and performers alike.

photo by vissago

And of course, thank you to everyone who came to w00tstock 2.4, whose energy and unrestrained joy at celebrating every aspect of nerdery really is what make it into a phenomenon. For those who couldn’t make it (that would be the vast majority of you), we hope we’ll be able to bring w00tstock somewhere close in the near future. And when we do, we promise to bring plenty of Awesome with us.

* Dozens of Metaphorical Little Fires is the name of our Elvis Costello tribute act

4 Comments

  1. Grahm
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    “Dozens of Metaphorical Little Fires is the name of our Elvis Costello tribute act”

    Brilliant!

  2. Sus
    Posted July 29, 2010 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Bring it to London… Oh, bring w00tstock to London. Please?

  3. Joe_the_fixer_of_broken_things
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    W00tstock 2.4 was utterly, utterly awesome. Can’t wait to see all you guys again next yarrrr.

  4. MahEGGO
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    the only sad part of this evening was I had to rush home to get the hubby to work and I didn’t get my poster signed by you all. So it sadly has only Adam Savage’s signature and not all of yours.

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