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. man! living in the uk sucks, there’s so much awesome stuff going in the USA.
    but hey we have dr who on tv nearly all the time and yes Wil wheaton in Dr who episode would be awesome

  2. Make sure you book a bigger venue when you come to Minneapolis next time. Tickets were sold out quick. You could indulge your Purple Rain fantasies and book First Avenue and rock it like The Kid.

  3. Awesome stuff! I have never been so jealous of the Midwest!
    I really hope Wootstock makes an appearance in Boston soon, I’ll throw in an Axis of Anarchy cake if that sweetens the deal!

  4. In my very few years of theatre I remember those performances where I gave my absolute all during the performance, met with the audience afterward for awhile and went out with the cast all while high on that adrenaline rush from the great show…and how absolutely exhausted I was after that. I don’t know how you guys do it so often, but I know (kind of) where you’re coming from!

  5. Matt Smith is having his ups and downs so far (sorry massive Dr Who fan just had to put his two cents in).
    I like Matt’s doctor, I just don’t think the writers have quite got his vibe yet though.
    The biggest issue is that he gets a bit overpowered by his companions. River Song who we first met in David Tennants era, just overpowered Matt Smith’s doctor. What I mean by overpower was she was more the heroine, while the Doctor was unable to prevent things from happening she was able solve issues etc.
    Recently they had a episode with him on his own without his companions (well little involvement) and it was fantastic to watch.
    You can see the elements of brilliance trying to peer their heads out in the writing, just something hasn’t clicked yet.
    The weird thing is Moffat was the writer for some of the best David Tennant era episodes.
    In terms of Wootstock, I don’t know how you can do it. I have enough trouble and intimidation with a upcoming games development conference talking to a group of 60 people, let alone having a legion of fans.

  6. Matt Smith is the best Doctor since Tom Baker, seriously. There have been one or two duds but this season has been absolutely excellent. It’s back to hide-behind-the-sofa time.
    Thank you very much for the links and embedded videos, they make me want to get to a w00tstock even more.
    YouTube should have groups like flickr so people could collect all w00tstock posts in one place.

  7. w00tstock Chicago was AMAZING.
    Even my husband had fun (though I had to explain some of the funny to him. ;)
    I was the random chick that screamed “I love you, Wil Wheaton!” and the response was “I heard ‘blablah Wil Wheaton”… HAHA!
    My poor husband had to deal with me being so giddy that I met and touched you (for the picture). He kept saying “Yes, I know. He spoke to you. You touched him. Yes, I know…”.
    The entire night was just AMAZING. I had so much fun, and loved the fact that it ran over the time. Everyone was fantastic!

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