w00tstock chicago and w00tstock minneapolis

My first post for Techland went up yesterday morning:

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:

Eternal Arr from Dan Coulter on Vimeo.

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.

Part One:

Part Two:

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.)

65 thoughts on “w00tstock chicago and w00tstock minneapolis”

  1. I haven’t checked out the links & video yet, but I will. I just wanted to take a second to say how I loved how you preemptively answered the “Who’s your favourite Doctor?” question. For some reason, that cracked me up. I agree with you, BTW, about Tom Baker. For me, he is The Doctor. IMO, though, the runner up is Peter Davison. But that could be just because I don’t think I’ve seen an episode since Davison left…
    [email protected]

  2. People actually want LESS show for their money?
    *Coming from someone who saw the Seattle show and felt I missed out on the Portland show because of length and awesomeness.*
    PS I realize people have reasons for wanting to know a show’s length (babysitters etc) BUT STILL!!!! Would you tell (insert favourite band here) to not do so many encores???

  3. Seriously, I was at the Portland show and had absolutely no problem with it going over three hours. However, I imagine TPTB at The Aladdin probably had a completely different take on it.

  4. The thing is, people stand in line for about 90 minutes, then the show is 4 hours or more, then we sign autographs for 2 hours after … before you know it, the show is 7 hours long, and it's past midnight. We just can't keep doing that.

  5. Yeah who the hell complained about the length of the show? I was at the Chicago show and had to be up at 6am for work the next morning, and would have stayed if the show had gone on ANOTHER couple hours.
    If it was the performers, I totally understand. The people in the audience though? No one I talked to was upset about it.

  6. W00tstock Miami – let’s make it happen.
    I, too, have yet to see Matt Smith. It’s also because I am busy, but not with anything nearly as cool or fun as you.

  7. I drove from Columbus, OH, leaving at 7am, got there in time for the show, stayed through the autographs (was among the first in line for those) and then promptly drove home to Columbus, arriving at 9am, exhausted and about to be late for work.
    Absolutely worth every minute of it for the Chicago show. Thank you for everything! It was made of pure win!

  8. I was at the Minneapolis show and I’d say it went a little too long. I basically got off work, got some food, and headed to the theatre for the show and things didn’t let out until after midnight. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a geek and I love this stuff. However, as much as I wanted to meet Adam and Wil afterward, there was no way I was going to make it to work the next day if I did. Yea, adults and their responsibilities.
    That said, I’d highly recommend any geek and maybe even a few normal people attend w00tstock in the future. It was a great time, and because of all the video that was taken during the show, I’ve rewatched most of the show a couple times now.

  9. Good point. I had to bail on the meet and greet myself because I had a 2+ hour drive home to Vancouver so I forgot about that part when considering the show length.
    Ended up I was up for 22 hours straight (work/classes, 5 hours driving, 4 hour show) and it was worth it.

  10. Man, you have a nifty set up for signing in to comment. Wonder if WordPress has similar? I digress..
    It was great to meet you! I love watching clients freak out over their cakes, and your reaction is *right* up there with my favorites of all time!
    Thank you so very much for not only your kind words, but pimping the shit outta my site. Very much appreciated! I’d offer to send some brownie mix, but well.. you know.. :)

  11. Chistock was one of the best experiences of my geek life. I’m so glad I made the voyage from Milwaukee. Even though I got less than 2 hours of sleep before work the next day, the show was worth every second.
    Meeting you, Wil, and Paul and Storm, and Adam was the icing on the cake.
    And you were right, Wil; it does say #w00tstock. Not f*ckstick.

  12. The Eternal Arr caused me to HOWL!
    I really hope that one of these days I get to see a w00tstock live. However, at least I can download and watch it and share in the awesome after the fact. And that is seriously awesome!

  13. w00tstock was a great time, thanks to all of the performers, Liz the stage manager, the volunteers, and whoever else may have had a hand in the awesomeness!
    I had the privilege of being backstage to photograph the Minneapolis w00tstock, and I just had to relay a cool compliment. Marie of Celebration Generation had brought along a box of her kick-ass Jacked Up Java brownies, and Wil tried a small piece. Even though he only had a quarter of a standard serving, Wil said that it “made me feel like a squirrel that’s been injected with cocaine”. Haha, that was great.
    I hope the show comes back again some time, you know you can keep selling out shows back here in Mpls!

  14. Meh. While I understand that some have timing issues, I was one of the majority who where amazed and pleased to find that 3 hours was closer to 5. I wouldn’t have wanted any of it to be trimmed, least of all the Eterrrrnal Arrrrr. Maybe a disclaimer? “4 (+/- 1) Hours of Geeks and Music!”?

  15. w00tstock Chicago was hands down the best thing my husband and I have done since PAX in ’08. The show totally left us wanting more, which was something I had not anticipated. I’m a geek by marriage, so I was slightly hesitant going in. I was pleasantly surprised to spend 5 hours laughing and thoroughly enjoying myself.
    Thank you, and the rest of the gang for creating such a great experience!

  16. Too long? I would have enjoyed more. How about making it a day long festivally type thing, join up with a Maker Faire, have another tent for local performances or something? Probably too much organization and expense, but it’s an idea. There was no line for Minneapolis, so at least we didn’t have that extra addition to the time. I wouldn’t want it to be much less than 4 hours, honestly.

  17. Let me start by saying that my life sucks right now. I am broke, and a waitress, and just blah. I scraped together what little money I had and I bought tickets to w00tstock. Seriously, epic budget fail (sorry ComEd, you’ll get your money soon!) but I couldn’t stop myself. And I’m glad I did it.
    Chicago #w00tstock was one of the best nights of my life. I never wanted it to end. I brought a friend who wasn’t all that familiar with what was going to happen. I basically told him, “Geeks + Comedy + Music”. He turned to me during the show and said, “This is fucking phenomenal.” I have to agree.
    I loved that it was 5 hours long. Bring it on, Wil Wheaton. Eternal Arr was fucking epic-sauce.
    The thing that I liked best about w00tstock is that it felt like it was a bunch of friends hanging out rather than an audience – performer relationship. It was amazing.
    I made a vow to myself as I caught the bus home. If it is humanly possible I will go to every single w00tstock ever made. And I’ll bring my friends.

  18. My husband and I had a great time. Thank goodness the Guthrie seats were so comfortable. But it was LONG night, especially sandwiched by a work and a long commute. It was long, but in a good way.
    I still would have liked more Molly Lewis, and certainly more Neil Gaiman- even though I knew he was there, I still cheered like he was one of The Beatles when he finally appeared!
    (Consolation for others who wanted more from Neil – here’s the NPR recording of his now-infamous Stillwater talk
    It was a great experience, thanks for bringing the show out here! And I was so happy to ignore the back of my ticket prohibiting cameras, and bring in my big ol’ DSLR to capture the show. Thanks!

  19. I understand the time issue, we had to leave soon as it was over, thus missing waiting in line to meet you guys and some serious mingling (we even had cards to hand out in hopes of making new friends, which, I think, makes us uber-geeks and NOT dorks) to relieve my exhausted mother babysitting our boys, but I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it and wished for more; I was kind of depressed for the whole next week because I wanted it to go on FOREVER. So that puts me with the “can’t we make it last, like, DAYS?” crowd.
    At the very least, PLEASE come back to Chicago every year. At least until I move someplace else, and then go there. ;p

  20. Can I just say thank you for allowing #wootstock memories to be shared under the CC license. I’m from the UK and without that wouldn’t have even had a hint of what goes on at Wootstock. As it is, I can share in a small amount of the awesomeness that Wootstock creates.
    So thank you.

  21. I would have been overjoyed to have gone to a 5 hour wootstock, but I will gladly settle for a 3 hour wootstock if you make it to my town (Omaha, Nebraska).
    We’ve got a number of excellent venues for something like wootstock. The Music Hall has a nice intimate setting which seats about 2500. Lots of comedy acts go there. The Orpheum is a nice proscenium theater that seats around the same number, but is less intimate and has some bad seats up top…much nicer facility and stage though.
    I know you get a million requests to come to various cities, so add Omaha to this list! I know my city will turn out for your show.

  22. Thanks so much for putting this together. The Chicago show was one of the best nights I’ve spent in a theater in recent memory. I particularly enjoyed your RHPS piece. I grew up attending Rocky (unbeknownst to my parents) at a dingy soon-to-be-closed theater in Louisville. Hearing you speak about your experiences brought back a flood of memories for me. Thank you for that. I couldn’t stick around to say hello after, so let this be as a virtual handshake, or iron guard salute, or what have you.

  23. I flew up to Chicago from Indy (after my husband drove me to the airport–we live an hour south of there) to meet some friends who were already there. We stayed for the entire 5 hours of Chistock, plus the signing afterward. I’m about six months pregnant, and despite being exhausted from the day and the adrenaline rush of w00tstock, I was still glad we stuck around for the signing afterward. I know how tired you all must have been, Wil, but it really made my night (and the rest of my week) to be able to shake your hand! My friends and I ended up driving the 4.5 hour trip home afterward, and I walked through the door at 8 am (EST) just as my husband was about to leave for work. I didn’t mind being a zombie mom that Monday. It was the best time I’d had in a long time!

  24. Wanted to drop you an extra thanks for putting the Minneapolis event out under CC. I live in London now, but moved there from Minneapolis about five years ago. My little sister still lives in Minneapolis, she’s made of awesome and I miss her. She made it to w00tstock and I can hear her laughing in some spots on the video, it’s just totally made my night. Thanks man!
    BTW, If you’re ever in London, I know where to get really good veggie burritos, and the beer’s on me.

  25. So, how does one find out about these before they happen? I’m really miffed that I missed the Minneapolis show! The Guthrie!? Seriously.

  26. My wife and I drove up to the Chicago show from Western KY and absolutely frakking loved it! We felt pretty confident that we would enjoy it before hand, but we weren’t totally sure what we were in for. It…was…fantastic! I can’t believe that people thought it was too long. We were still wired an hour after the show; although we were sore the next day from laughing so much and that was a looong drive home. But it was totally worth it. We’re still laughing about Paul sitting on my lap for the Frogger song. =)
    I do totally understand if the performers were wiped out though.
    We’ll definitely be attending again if you guys come back to our neck of the woods.
    Thanks for putting this show on, Wil!
    –Only one suggestion: NASHVILLE! W00tstock at the Opry! =)

  27. Wil, Creative Commons is the way of the future. I agree and embrace it as well. As many who follow Wil and Woot may know, I have been trying to get to Woot by hook or by crook all this tour, I missed PDX because a TWIT on a Cell phone plowed into me through a red light. NOW I am going to San Diego, FINALLY! I thought you might enjoy what my “Quest To Woot” has been and ment to me, now that I am going, I will share when I get back. Take a look, it’s short, but it might amuse you. http://ethantudorwneverhood.wordpress.com please forgive the grammer. I also hope to have Adam Savage (NOT confirmed yet, but working on it) in a short taped interview along with FAN interviews before and after the San Diego w00tstock for The NeverHood Show. Paul, Storm Wil, I would love to talk to you guys too at the venue. Creative Commons allows geeks like me to share the fun in a way that no one get’s harmed by any “Money Loss”. Take a look, comment, and see why my quest for Wootstock is so important to me.
    -Ethan Tudor W.
    Actor/Host “The NeverHood Show” at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ethantudorw

  28. I’ve been glued to YouTube, trying to get every last minute of the Chicago and Minneapolis shows. I’d just like to say a public thank you to everyone who saw most of the shows through a view-screen so that other people could share in the awesome. Thank you!
    I don’t want to come off like some blog post hijacker, but if you’re in the UK and want to let the guys know that you want a show, I’ve set up a blog to try and organise sign-up drives and publicise w00tstock in the UK:
    The latest post has links to all of the Eventful Demands for w00tstock in the UK, along with the current w00tcount (52, w00t!). The first sign-up drive will be this Friday evening to Sunday evening, just to get an idea of whether there’s fresh demand or not. Yes, I know Eventful has its flaws, but w00tstock.net says to use it, so I am, so there, nyahnyahnyah. I haven’t done anything like this before, so any help will be greatly appreciated.
    The TARDIS cake is… well… wow. Thank goodness there are visionary people out there who can bake too! Which reminds me, I am *so* going to get a Questionable Content “Baking is science for hungry people” apron when it comes out. As for Matt Smith, IMHO he’s doing a great job, I don’t find myself pining for David Tennant’s Doctor, but I wish the writing was as strong as it’s been previously. Still, good-old, Saturday-tea-time fun, as it’s always been.

  29. Grats on the cake & the experience!
    Really, if that Cake Boss dude can have his show, SyFy can give you a show of your own. Seriously. I would not only tune in but would record and savor your shows about making geeky cakes.
    and about the brownies… yeah… Wil’s cut-off, Squirrel-on-cocaine, indeed. 😉

  30. I was at the Chicago show, and stayed through the entire show and for the signing afterwards. I just wanted to say that it was one of the best shows I have ever been to, and I loved that we got so much entertainment out of it. Even though I was a zombie at work the next day, it was totally worth it. During the eternal Arrr, I got the feeling that you guys felt the same way I did – I didn’t want it to end. If the performers that you have need to have a shorter show, I completely understand, but put me in the category of audience members who loved that I got 5 hours of entertainment for the price of 3. :)
    It was great to meet all of you, however briefly, after the show. And thanks for bringing in the MST3K guys as well – I now have my Crow mini-statue signed by both of his voices. :)

  31. Wife and I love watching the shows on Youtube. First time we watched the Captain’s Wife’s Lament I was laughing so hard I was in tears. Just wanted to say thanks for allowing posts online and repeat the request I spotted above for a Southeast show: New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville would all be fine. 😛

  32. I’ll add to the chorus of Thank You!s for bringing the show to Minneapolis and solidifying our status — the show sold out in, what, 17 seconds? — as the upper Midwest hotbed of nerd. (Even if Chicago DID get a slightly longer Lament.) I’m glad to read that your RHPS story was a highlight for you, it was for us too.
    Re: the length of the show… yeah. It was long. But it kept getting better and better, so there was no way we were skipping out early. My Other-of-Significance had to be at work much earlier than I the following day, but he was a real trooper, and even waited for me to make it through the autograph line because he knew how much the show, and meeting you, meant to me. (I was the one with the chapbook-bound Sunken Treasure — and thanks for the wonderful kind words about it!) So my vote is, as long as you guys are still having a good time up there on stage, we are still having fun watching it happen, so let it ride!

  33. Wil, now that I’ve heard the Seattle reading, the Portland reading, and now the Chicago reading, I have finally realized that what you felt about the RHPS, we are starting to feel about w00tstock.
    I mean, you got the music, the overall geeky feel, and even the audience partici… pation.
    And I’m not just talking about your readings, but the other acts converse with the audience, almost to a fault, and the “Captain’s Wife’s Lament” seems to be your “Time Warp.”
    I could be wrong, or I could be late to the realization, but that’s what rings true for me.

  34. Wil,
    I’d say that with what I saw on that Sunday — all frakking 4.99 hours of it — makes the length thing moot simply because the logical next step is a conference.
    Maxfun can do it. Penny Arcade is doing this shit on two coasts now. W00tstock could easily fill 3 days in a hotel with several rooms, With A Little Help From Your Friends. Gaiman reading. Coulton concert. 3 hour Captain’s Wife Lament session. Hodgman doing… something. Peter Sagal filling an hour since — I have to be honest here — I had no clue what to expect and LOVED what he did.
    Make it happen. It’s only logical*.
    * = would have ended with a sulu statement with FIRE in it if I had anything good up my sleeve.

  35. Wil-
    Thanks for linking to my RHPS videos on this post! I’m super excited about that. It has been brought to my attention however, that I left out a few minutes of Part 2 in the video I had uploaded. I’ve uploaded a new, complete version here (http://tinyurl.com/29jh3oa), so people can stop wondering what exactly took place for those crucial 4 minutes. I thought you’d want to know in case you wanted to change the embedded video. Thanks again and have a great day!

  36. Given that I was one of those who shouted ‘Take your time!’ during the Eternal Arrr (Yeah, that’s right, I’m Ms. Shouty-pants! Thanks for the new nickname, Paul!), it’s safe to say I’m quite deeply embedded in the ‘There’s no such thing as too long!’ camp. I enjoyed EVERY MINUTE of that five hours. It was so totally worth it – even the part where we were standing in a drenching downpour getting soaked to the skin for a half hour or so before the doors opened, despite our desperate twitterpleas to let us in.
    I’m also the one who asked for advice in the autograph line as to which Scalzorc book to start with since I haven’t read any of his stuff yet – and I fully plan to implement the suggestions you and Paul made, after my summer class ends next week. That, and getting photobombed by Paul while getting my picture taken with you, totally made my night a bajillion times better – no mean feat when it was already the highlight of my life.
    Wil, thank you to you, and all of the other performers, for being so gracious and kind – to you particularly for humoring my question, and for letting me get a pic with you, even though I know you must have been totally exhausted and wanted nothing more than to get out of there and go sleep. I hope you know just how much it means to us, and how much we treasure those few moments of one-on-one interaction, even when surrounded by a crowd.

  37. I imagine that taking steps to keep it from running long will be incredibly valuable for situations like Comic Con where you are competing for the audience’s time and attention and for things like having to pay for extra time spent using a venue. At the same time, as an audience member, I was not at all upset about the length of the show (though I did feel deep sympathy for the “uuuggghhhh lonnnng showwww” hangovers you guys must have been nursing afterwards).

  38. Please tell me that you are thinking about w00tstock Europe (subtle hint: Hamburg is a lovely city!). Please? I always have a blast watching all the videos and you guys rule for letting people share!

  39. In my head, Neil Gaiman had a word with Steven Moffat et al when planning the shooting of his Doctor Who script later this year, and that you’re going to be cast in it. Failing that, seeing you in any Doctor Who episode would be awesome. 😀

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