from the vault: april’s fool

Every year, I dream up some epic April Fool's thing, realize how much work it would take to do it well, and end up just waiting to see whatever Think Geek does.

This year, I ended up doing something fairly (hey, my fingers just automatically typed fail while my brain was thinking fair. That's funny.) Anyway, I ended up doing something fairly quick and silly. On Twitter, I postedDbrentspiner I'm grabbing lunch with levar and frakes before the super-secret TNG reunion show table read. You want to join us?

I wish I'd had enough characters to add, "Just call me on LeVar's cell, because my battery is almost dead," but I think it was pretty funny on its own, so consider this paragraph the Director's Cut, I guess.

For those of you keeping score, replies were about 80% "I see what you did there", "5% HA HA YOUR STUPID AND CANT USE TEH TWITTER", and 5% "Dude, that's so awesome I ca– oh. FFFFFFUUUUUUUUU." The final 10% replied to Pat Buchanan.

And because it's funny to me, here's something from behind the scenes: the first time I tried to send a "fake" DM to Brent, Twitter sent a real one, so I had to send another one to tell him what I was doing. He replied, "Where are you? We're already here, waiting for you at the Paramount Commissary." Brent, as he has since 1987, wins.

So this is all prologue to the one actual April Fool's prank I ever pulled since I started blogging, back in the good old days when digital watches were a pretty neat idea.

Reaching into the vault, I pulled out this, from Chapter 8 of Just a Geek:

"Creativity is the absence of fear," a friend of mine liked to say. After Vegas and The Galaxy Ball, a lot of the fear that Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn't A Mistake and The Voice of Self Doubt relied upon to survive was gone, and my creativity blossomed as a result. When I wrote in my weblog, I produced entries that were genuinely funny, and entertaining . . . to me at least. Things like:

10 March 2002

Make it burn!

As I write this, Anne is behind me, doing some workout video tape, and I can only hear the breathless voice of the girl who is leading the workout saying, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, doesn't that feel good? Don't stop, you're almost there *pant* *pant*"

If I didn't know any better, I'd think she was watching "Debbie Does 7 Minute Abs."

But seriously folks, try the fish, and be sure to stick around for the comedy and magic stylings of Johnny Funnypants! I hear the late show gets a little naughty.

I was overflowing with creative energy, and on April first, I pulled a notorious April Fool's joke.

01 April 2002

Good News, Bad News

Good morning, everyone and happy April! I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Okay, let's get straight to business: here's the bad news: the entire site has crashed and we can't figure out why. I don't know when the crash happened, or why, because I was offline all weekend, but I'm working on it. I suppose that if you can read this, it means things are working again, which will bring us to our second bad news: I tried to upgrade to Movable Type 2.0 on Friday and it broke. Goddammit! I swear, I am fucking cursed. I know what went wrong and I'm going to start pleading with the authors for some help. They seem like cool people, so hopefully they will be willing to give me a hand. *sigh*

On to the good news! Oh, this is such amazingly good news and it's been so hard to keep this to myself, but there have been contract talks and all sorts of negotiations and all that . . . but I can finally make the big big announcement:

The official announcement will be made on Thursday, but I've been given permission by Paramount's hired goons to make the announcement today.

In four weeks, I will be joining the cast of Enterprise in a recurring role!

The details are still being worked out, but basically what they plan to do is have Wesley use his Time Traveler abilities to move through space and time to the NX-01. He'll be more like the dark, troubled Wesley of “The First Duty” and “Final Mission” and less like the gee-whiz Wesley of days gone by.

Here's a little history: Nemesis is testing very well and Paramount is extremely excited that this lame little website has generated such a huge following. I guess some people started a letter-writing campaign, without my knowledge and Paramount listened. I spent most of last week on conference calls with Rick and Brannon, as well as some of the brass at Paramount, working out the details, making sure that Wesley will not be saving the NX-01 all the time. 

*grin*

I'll be in 8 of 22 episodes for the two seasons, with an option to renegotiate at the end of the second season. I'm only recurring to allow me the freedom to participate in other shows, and pursue other projects.

I'm so freakin’ excited, I don't even know what else to say. I can't believe that I'm going to be working on “Star Trek” again and I can't believe that I'm going to be working on Stages 8 and 9 again.

I have to go to a fitting right now. I'll write more when I have more details. I hope everyone has a great day!!

The Internet bought it completely. My announcement was posted on mega sites Slashdot and Fark (who were in on the joke), and the "news" was carried by many Sci-Fi newswires (who were not). I had very carefully crafted the news, working it out over the course of several of days, adding in difficult-to-verify yet plausible details, like the testing status of Nemesis (they didn't even have a rough cut at the time) and talking with the producers about the nature of Wesley's character upon his return. 

Minutes after I'd posted the prank, the e-mails began to pour in. Hundreds of Trekkies joined the regular readers of my website in expressing the joy I would have felt had it been real. The genuine happiness and kindness, pouring in from people all over the world, was the opposite of the reaction I expected, and as the happy e-mails piled up, I began to feel like I was misleading these people, and taking advantage of their good will. By the afternoon, I felt awful, and I decided to set the record straight.

    April Fool's!

Well, most of you have figured it out, by now, but the truth is . . . 

 . . . I'm not gonna be on Enterprise. Even as a computer voice, or within the secret, dirty, late-night thoughts of Capt. Archer.

I hope everyone takes this in good humor. Lots of people sent really kind and sweet congratulatory messages and I actually feel pretty badly for fooling such nice people. All the idiots who thought it was a really good idea to fill my inbox with “Wesley is gonna ruin Enterprise” crap should get a life and direct any further comments to /dev/null.

To be honest I was surprised at how many people were wishing me well; I was expecting the Kill Wesley Crowd to come out instead.

I think the greatest highlight of the day came when my mom called Anne while I was out..

The conversation went something like this:

Mom: Do you have something to tell me?

Anne: Uh, no.

Mom: Do you have some big news about Wil?

Anne: Oh, that. Uh, what day is today?

Mom: It's Monday!

Anne: Right. And the date is . . . ?

Mom: It's April Fir- OH! Damn you!

Heh. I guess my dad was all pissed off, stomping around my parent's house because I didn't tell them myself and he “had to read it on Wil's fucking website!"

Thanks go to the Frodo Crew(tm) who helped me take this scheme from stupid idea to stupid fruition: Spudnuts, jbay, JSc, Roughy, Bobby The Mat and Greeny. Also to /. and FARK, for getting on board.

All those people really did want me to succeed and they really were happy for me. The joy that I thought I would have felt, had I been given a chance to do Star Trek again, became real and undeniable when I realized that I had redefined myself with my weblog. Some people would still see me as That Washed Up Guy Who Used To Be An Actor When He Was A Kid, but many more people, including myself, saw me as That Guy With The Cool Weblog Who Is Just A Geek Like The Rest Of Us.

It's so weird to look back on the time that is covered in Just A Geek, because my life has changed so profoundly since then. I can so clearly recall thinking, "This will be great. All these people will be angry and go on and on about how I'll ruin Star Trek because they hate Wesley so much, and then I can be all, HA HA YOU GOT MAD FOR NOTHING IT WAS ALL A JOKE HA HA." It never occurred to me that anyone would be legitimately happy for me, let alone excited about the whole thing.

And you know what? Every single time I read anything from Just A Geek, I really want to do the Obligatory One Man Show called "Wil Wheaton is Just A Geek" where I distill the entire thing into 90 minutes or two hours, and perform it. I've done a lot of writing since I wrote this book, but it still means more to me than I can express in words (or pictures, which isn't really saying much because I can't draw for shit.)

Finally, this is probably a good time to mention that you can get your very own copy of Just A Geek: Teh Audio Book from my store at Lulu. As a bonus, if you buy it today and enter the code APRILFOOLS at checkout, you'll save 10%.

Happy April, everyone. The First Of May is just one month away…

45 thoughts on “from the vault: april’s fool”

  1. I would watch a One Man Show version of Just A Geek. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or even heard of Dave Gorman (he’s @DaveGorman on Twitter, natch), but his One Man Shows are absolutely incredible. I’d seriously suggest trying to track down a copy of “Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure” or “Are You Dave Gorman?” on DVD.
    And for the record, I would’ve loved to see you in Enterprise. Oh well. We’ll make do with your VO work for Abrams’ movie.

  2. Wil. I saw you do the Awesome Hour at Pax 09. Let me tell you, I would LOVE to see you even just do a video reading of your book(s). I could turn on the TV, get a few friends to sit around it and have story time with Wil. Your books are great, but seeing the way you act them out, even a little bit, makes the stories really come to life for me.

  3. Ooooh child! FWIW, even those of us in the 80% still got a grin and a chuckle out of it.
    So here’s my best April Fool’s joke ever: My MIL was literally chomping at the bit for grandkids, so we decided to call her up & tell her that I was pregnant. The conversation went on for about 10 minutes before we pulled the “April Fool’s” line on her. She was so furious that she hung up. A couple of weeks later we discovered that the joke was on us: I really was pregnant & just didn’t know it yet.
    The following year I called and told her that I’d won the lottery in hopes that I could repeat the magic. It didn’t work.
    Happy April, everyone!

  4. I feel so stupid for being concerned you did a #LeVar earlier. Well played, Wheaton, well played. I didn’t fall for anything today (in the UK, there are two hours in the day left) up until that tweet.
    Do you really call LeVar and Brent by their first names and Jonathan Frakes by his last?
    There’s a lot of great stuff in Just a Geek (I have the audio book) and this story is one of my favourites.
    I’d pay good money to see “Wil Wheaton is Just A Geek” as well. You’d have to come to Europe, though.

  5. this has nothing to do with your post but my friend Ashley went up on stage for her second time last night at The Comedy Store in L.A. Her entire set was about gamer’s and their lives. She confirmed that the term “nerd” is no longer allowed to be used but within our circles and any that defame us must apologize directly and work with our Al Sharpton of Geekdom, Wil Wheaton to provide appropriate recourse. Just thought you should know that for the few proud Geeks in the room and one brave comedian, we had a blast.

  6. I still find it so sad that you spent most of your life thinking people hated Wesley! Well, it seems to have worked out okay for you in any case. :0)
    Nice jokes…you and Brent are hilarious, as usual.

  7. Rephrasing what I said earlier so it doesn’t sound like I’m a bitch.
    Anyway, I remember when that happened. A bunch of people were so pissed off at you after you revealed that it was a joke. I thought it was pretty funny (although I have to admit, I was died a bit inside). If that was me I’d be too scared to ever do an April Fool’s joke again.
    That being said, I was pretty pissed off that they cut your scene out of Nemesis. I have to admit, I hated Wesley at first, but the character grew a lot and I always wanted to know what happened to him after he went off traveling. I’m glad I found your sight, though, because Wil, you da man.

  8. My computer crashed March 31st. It took all afternoon and evening to get my files off. I had to reformat and reload everything on April 1st. I was terrified. The good news is that I finally caught your TNT Leverage episode. It was so great!!! I really enjoyed it. You kept me company it the wee hours of the morning. Thanks.

  9. But there is going to be a reunion with Wil, LeVar and Frakes at Phoenix ComiCon over Memorial Day weekend. (and Rock Band done awesomely and a Geek Prom to boot!).

  10. I started reading Just a Geek yesterday — I just read April’s Fool today, in fact. Your book is the first memoir-style book that kept me up into the wee hours! Thanks for the inspiring honesty — it’s got me thinking about some of the choices I’ve made, the directions my path has taken as a result, and things I’d like to give myself permission to try.

  11. “Happy April, everyone. The First Of May is just one month away…”
    This reminds me of Joe Murphy of “Wingin’ It” fame. He loved the song “First of May” and he died on April 1st. Here’s to you Joe.

  12. Sadly you missed him last weekend at PAX in Boston. He gave the keynote and did signings.
    wilw: I hope you didn’t mind my boyfriend (4th Doctor) and I having you sign the Wesley Crusher figure last weekend. I liked Wesley Crusher! I also enjoy reading your geekdom these days. Thanks again.

  13. Dude – that was so mean… I did not realize that the nice Wesley Crusher was such a mean SOB… As they say on the commercial – “My image of you has been shattered.” :-P

  14. So I just bought the Just a Geek audio. Upon downloading, I found it was a series of MP3s, essentially ripped unchanged from the CD version. So, as per my usual in such cases, I opened up Audiobook Builder and made the disparate files into a single audiobook file, with chapters and the ability to remember its position, and all that nifty jazz. And while I am waiting for it to compile the file and import it into iTunes, it occurrs to me that you might want to be able to sell it in this format. So I thought I’d write to you and ask if you wanted a copy of it put together this way. I’d be happy to send it along if so, by whatever means you prefer, now that I’ve got it anyhow. Or, I suppose, you could get the software and do it yourself–it’s dead easy to do and the program is pretty cheap (less than $10–I’ve used it on something like 25 different books by now that I got in CD or MP3 formats and it was totally worth the minimal cost).
    By the way, it was great to meet you at PAX-E on Saturday. I don’t expect you’d remember me–I probably didn’t stand out, and you must have seen a LOT of people, but I was the guy with the fire & water dragons shirt in the signing line. Mostly I’m just pleased I didn’t get all stuttery or say anything too idiotic, though I managed it by saying relatively little. :-) I did get to watch your Keynote on the YouTubes when I got home again, and it was excellent. Not being able to see it live remains my one regret of the weekend. Curse those damnable fire codes!

  15. So weird that you blogged about the Kill Wesley Crowd today. I was just hearing (with some surprise) about their existance from a coworker today. I was 12 when I started watching TNG (which was in syndication already, to age me a little), Wesley was about the only person on that ship I could even identify with. I think the “we hate Wesley” people must have been old jerks. The episode where Wes traps his mother in a warp bubble is still one of my all time favs. I never watched Enterprise, but news of a Wesley addition probably would have grabbed my attention enough to catch a few episodes.

  16. Someone in the Fark thread about your recursive T-shirt turned it into a pretty nice animated gif. Someone else was inspired by that gif to post the ungodly Hasselhoff Speedo recursion that I had almost successfully scrubbed from my brain.
    I blame you for this personally, Wheaton.

  17. OH! The .gif came from Fark?! I saw it, but had no idea where it started. As a longtime Ultrafarker, I'm very disappointed in myself … but I'll get over it.

  18. I feel slightly creepy posting twice on a thread, but I consider it your own damn fault for being so awesome.
    I was actually listening to the Just a Geek audiobook (yes, that’s how I spent my lunch break) at the same period of time you were filming The Wheaton Recurence. After a day of listening to you talk about a period of time where you felt, shall we say, less than completely totally estatic about everything, I got home and listened to the new RFB where you were practically boiling over with nerdglee. The contrast between the two moments in your life was incredible. It filled me with hope and happiness in a manner I can’t really express. Mostly I was glad for you.

  19. Scratch that last part. Mostly I was glad that the universe got its head out of its ass and (for lack of a better way to express it)karmically rewarded you for being not a dick. The funniest part about that RFB was your sheer bewilderment that these people you found so awesome were actually excited to work with you. Seriously, dude: you haven’t rabid followers for no reason. Maybe someday you’ll begin to come to terms with your own awesomeitude.

  20. Wil
    A bit off topic but I didnt wanna forget …
    In all the rush to thank you for being the Secretary of Geek Affairs at PAX, I forgot one important thing.
    I know you ask to keep your family seperate and private but could you take a moment to thank them on my behalf ( and I assume everyone here) for sharing you with us.
    I have a loving wife whom understands and revels in my geekness (and hers too) but I know many relationships that suffer from one partner not understanding gaming and the concept of sharing a person (much less with 60,000 people over a weekend) .
    I really wish I could write something witty that doesnt come off slimy, in the end all I can say is ….
    Thank you for letting Wil come, play and be our Secretary.

  21. OMG!!! You’re going to be on Enterprise – wow, I’ll have to go back and watch it again!
    It’s all good, as long as you know where your towel is ;-}
    jkm

  22. Damn.
    I just bought the three-day pass! What the hell is wrong with those people?
    Edit: Just checked with visa – they precharged my card! Which made me default my mortgage payment! Me and my seven children are now homeless!!
    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOON…con!

  23. I remember the “I’m going to be on Enterprise” prank very well, and it’s CLASSIC. It will never be *not* funny to me, especially considering your Dad’s reaction to it.
    As an aside, the whole thing that went down with LeVar inadvertently giving his cell phone number out to a million plus people, and then you and Brent making fun of his goof had me literally laughing out loud.
    @wilw Everyone turn off Twitter for a minute while @Levarburton gives me his new phone number. Go ahead, LeVar!
    @BrentSpiner I’d like to apologize to my dear friend @levarburton for making light of his unfortunate pitfall. I’d call him, but I don’t have his number.
    You guys had me cracking up! Thanks for the laughs, even if they were at poor LeVar’s expense.

  24. Wil, it’s David from neatorama. We met at the Big Bang Theory taping. Want to interview you on neato and give away some of your books in a contest. Please contact me: david ‘at’ neatorama.com

  25. I downloaded Just A Geek this weekend and got to Chapter 10 at work today (don’t tell my boss). I have to tell you that the voice of your writing is giving me flashbacks to The Writer in Stand By Me (even sounds a bit like Dreyfuss). Was that intentional? Also, I hope you eventually cock punch Prove-to-Everyone.

  26. I picked up the audio copy of Just A Geek (thanks for the discount! I made a follow up donation to the Humane Society of Pasadena.) and got the “thank you from Wil” via Lulu.
    I know this is gonna seem really stupid. But that email always gets me, a little bit. I mean, here’s this person, whose writings and voice have become very important and meaningful to me. And he’s thanking me for obtaining a copy of his works, which I love and move me are important to me? That seems ridiculous. The thanking should really be the other way around.
    So, thank you, Wil. Thanks for your voice, written, recorded, and however else it comes through. You make me chuckle, sob, and think, and feel delighted recognition and surprise in discovery. Thank you.

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