I just got home from performing two w00tstock shows in Chicago and Minneapolis. w00tstock is a sort of nerd variety show that I produce with Paul and Storm, and Adam Savage. We and an ever-changing lineup of invited guests perform geek-related material for people who are just like us, in an environment we hope feels like the This American Life stage show meets Coachella. (On these last two shows, we had Bill Amend, the creator of Foxtrot, join us in Chicago, and Professor James Kakalios of The Physics of Superheroes joined us in Minneapolis.)
As I sit here today, my voice almost completely gone, every muscle in my body aching, and so tired I don't want to do much more than grab a bunch of comics and spend the day with my feet up, I am once again grateful to live in The Future. As recently as five years ago, w00tstock could not have existed the way it does today, and we owe a lot of that to our audiences, who have promoted and supported us, and helped us grow so fast, we just announced a show at Comic-Con.
Cory Doctorow famously wrote about the implied endorsement when a friend hands you a book, or a movie, or a CD. There is tremendous value there, that we artists simply can't get from publicists and interviews. I know that w00tstock wouldn't be nearly as successful as it is if we didn't make it easy for our audiences to share our shows however they want, and that's what I wanted to write a little bit about today.
To support my contention that artists are doing it wrong when they prevent their audiences from recording and sharing their shows, I now present a recap of our Chicago and Minneapolis shows featuring video, photos, and blogs from people who were there, mostly in the audience, beginning with Chicago w00tster pk_gojira wrote:
The show began with Wil Wheaton coming out and giving an introduction for the evening, and a somewhat fictionalized version of how this w00tstock came about. He also introduced us to the guest artist for the evening, Len Peralta. This guy sat at the back of the stage all evening and drew a special poster you could order a print of online after the show. Oh yeah, Wil also said everything from the night was released under the creative commons act, which sure is a swell thing for them to do. That meant that they were actually encouraging us to take pictures and videos, so of course I'll be showing you what I took.
See, this is why we embrace Creative Commons and make it easy for our audiences to share their experiences from the shows, because it lets us get awesome stuff like this:
That's from the longest Captain's Wife's Lament in history, which is significant fro two reasons, one already stated, and the other the realization that when we do this bit, we're sort of pretending to be from The Rat Pack, which was a lot of fun.
Another Chicago highlight came from Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. He wrote an original monologue for w00tstock that is so amazing, I'm sure it will find its way to someplace even more famous and respectable than w00tstock (yes, believe it or not, those places do exist). I'm grateful and amazed he chose to debut this story with us:
Chicago was a particularly special show for me, because I did what I think is the best performance of anything I've ever written during this show. I told my Rocky Horror Picture Show story from the Special Edition of The Happiest Days of Our Lives, and it was one of those perfect storms (more like a perfect Paul and Storm AMIRITE?!) where the audience was into it for the whole time, I nailed the beats the way I needed to, and the music was exactly right.
Boy, do I want to go do the Time Warp again. Seriously.
The following night, we did a show in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater. The Guthrie is a legitimate theater, the kind of place I dream of performing as an actor, and I think all of us who have been doing w00tstock felt the same sense of wonder when we walked into the place and realized that we were about to do a show in a place for grown ups.
Just before the show started, we got a cake, and not only was the cake not a lie, it was a Tardis. I was a little excited, on account of what a giant Doctor Who fan I am (preemptive FAQ answer: Tom Baker, with David Tennant threatening to overtake him every single time I watch the New Who, and I haven't watched Matt Smith, yet. I'm busy, people.)
John Scalzi joined us in Minneapolis for the sold out (!) show. Video and secret inside thoughts from John are at The Whatever, so you probably want to go check that out, since it's hilarious, and John wrote it specifically for our show. Seriously, how do we get to be so lucky?
I'm sure I'm forgetting things, so I'm going to refer you to Paul and Storm's post about w00tstock in Chicago and Minneapolis that has links to all the great stuff you'll be glad you watched and sad you missed in person:
Every time we think new w00tstocks can’t possibly live up to the past ones, we are proved laughably wrong. We continue to be amazed by the energy and good feelings generated by audience and performers alike, and Chicago and Minneapolis BROUGHT IT. The energy was so strong, in fact, that the show ran nearly 5 hours in Chicago and 4 1/2 in Minneapolis—to the delight of the overwhelming majority, who were laughing and cheering just as hard at the end as at the beginning.
Yeah, what they said. I hope you'll go to their blog, follow the links they put up, and experience some of the wonder and joy I got from being able to sit on the side of the stage while all of these incredibly talented people gave us five of the longest and geekiest three hours they'll ever spend in a theater. (Don't worry, future audiences: we're not going to run so long any more; we've heard you about the length of the show, and are taking deliberate and specific steps to ensure that we're closer to 3 hours from now on.)