SpongeBob Vega$ Pants
Vega$ baby! Vega$!
It’s the battle cry often heard coming from our car as my wife and I tear up I 15, making the 4 hours drive in 3 and a half. I mean, driving to Vega$ is half the fun. The excitement, the boredom, the constant, “Are we there yet?” Answered by, “Yes, just around this corner,” or “We passed it. I have to turn around.”
The stop at Barstow for In-N-Out Burgers, and slowing down past the Bunboy to see how hot it is at “the world’s tallest thermometer“. Reading every single billboard, announcing that the Stardust has ROOMS AVAILABLE TONIGHT! And Circus Circus has FREE CIRCUS ACTS EVERY HOUR!
The drive is usually as much fun, if not more fun, than the time we spend in Vega$.
I bring this up, because the last two times we’ve gone there, we’ve flown (because we weren’t paying for it), and flying to Vega$ just sucks. I mean, where is The Mad Greek? Where is Lake Delores? And you know what? You can’t listen to Joshua Tree on the way, when you’re in a plane. The flight isn’t long enough, and you look lame when tears roll down your face while listening to “Running To Stand Still” on an plane. In a car it’s okay, but not on a plane. I don’t know why, it’s just one of those things that we’ll never understand. Like overalls on adults, or George Bush in the White House.
So I’m gonna give you all the stories from Vega$, including the Con and stuff. The plan right now is to split them up over a few days, because I’m so damn long-winded, but we’ll see where we are in a little bit.
We went out on Southwest Airlines from Burbank. I love flying Southwest for less than an hour. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and the flight attendants out here are always really friendly and funny. Friendly and funny goes a LONG way with me, FYI.
We were scheduled to go out at 3:50 PM, meaning that we’d need to get to the airport around 3, which means we leave our house at 2:15 or so.
So it’s 3:15 and we’re walking out the door…and somehow we get to the airport on time.
You know how southwest gives you those boarding cards? I got number 42!! YES! Check out what a dork I am. I was so excited, because, you know…
So the flight was nice and bumpy, which is my favorite. OH! LeVar Burton was on the plane with us, and when we landed in Vega$, Anne and I ran, and I mean, ran into the bathrooms, and LeVar comes walking over to me, and tells me, “W W, [he always calls me that, which I think is cool] when you showed me that picture of your wife in South Pasadena [when we were at the TCAs for TNG on TNN -nice use of acronyms, Wil], you did not do her justice.” Dramatic pause. “Wil Wheaton, your wife is a fox!”
So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
So we get a ride to our hotel, which is The Bellagio (again, because we’re not paying for it. I am *so* not into the pretentious BS. The whole time we were there, I felt like I was playing dress up). We check in, and now we have exactly 30 minutes to get changed, and all that before my sketch comedy group meets us for a quick dinner and rehearsal.
Let me talk for a minute about my sketch comedy group.
I am a member of the ACME comedy theatre in Hollywood. The ACME is one of the best comedy theatres, ever, and it’s one of the few achievements I’ve made that I am extremely proud of. I love the ACME. Matter of fact, I’ll be teaching at our school very soon. So if you’re in Los Angeles, and want to learn how to give up the funny, you should call us. You’ll be glad you did! Alright. Enough gushing.
From this exceptional company,I chose some of the best improvisers/writers/performers I could find. Because I chose the best, they were all working on their various projects and things, and it was EXTREMELY hard to set up a rehearsal schedule that everyone could commit to. So we’re doing a show with 10 sketches, most of which we’ve never done as a group before, and we’ve never really had a full rehearsal until the night before we’re supposed to perform. Holy shit. I am freaking out, because I am a perfectionist, and I feel like these Trekkies have all paid lots of money to see our show (which sold out! Yes!), and I want to give them a really good one. One that they’ll remember. It also doesn’t help that I’m feeling like I have to win these people over (which is how I feel every time I go to one of these conventions) and prove to them that I can do something other than re-align the warp core or whatever.
So it’s 5:30PM on Wednesday, and we’re meeting at 6PM in the lobby to eat before we get rehearse in our hotel room. It’s 6:15, and Kevin still isn’t there, and I am freaking out. I am pacing in the lobby, pulling at my hair, and all that stuff. And I’m cursing Kevin’s name, until he shows up at 6:20. Well, it turns out that I had forgotten to tell him what time we were meeting. My bad.
4:32 PM PDT:
There’s more to come very soon, but I just remembered that there is a blood drive and fundraiser as the Rose Bowl, and I want to get there before it’s over.
6:00 PM PDT:
I just got back home. I gave money to the Fireman’s fund, and the Red Cross. I felt good about doing that, but the jingoistic attitude that pervaded the whole area really bothered me. Especially in light of this and this. I think this may cost me some readers, and maybe get me some hate mail, but I have to say it: the attitude for vengence and revenge that seems palpable everywhere I go really scares me. I’d rather feel a demand for justice.
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming:
Kevin finally shows up, and we decide to go to the buffet. But when we get there, we notice that it’s $24.95. Holy shit. Question: does anyone ever really get their money’s worth at a buffet? I don’t ever feel like I do. And I always end up combining foods that I really shouldn’t combine. Like shrimp and chocolate cake, or miso soup and some alfredo pasta (back in the pre-lactose intolerant days). So I suggest that maybe $24.95 is too much for a bunch of us starving actors (hey, I haven’t found my pennies yet) to pay, and maybe we should go to the Cafe instead. So we shlep all the way across the damn casino to the Cafe.
Tangent: When you go to Vega$, have you ever noticed that everything is through the casino? I mean, I bet if you go to the hospital in Vega$, you have to go through a bank of slot machines to get to the ER. You have to go through a casino to get to the casino. Bastards.
So we go to the cafe, and because it’s the Bellagio, everything costs so damn much that it would have been cheaper for us all to eat at the Buffet. So there was much shit given to your old pal Wil, and we had to eat Sir Robin’s Minstrels. And there was much rejoicing.
After dinner, we headed upstairs and finally ran our whole show. I had made a very big deal to everyone about how important it was to know all of their lines, so they could work on character tweaks, instead of memorizing lines. And everyone stepped up. They all knew their lines, they all knew their characters, and it was great. All except one person, who couldn’t remember his lines for shit.
Oh, how awful I felt. How embarassed I was. But it happens sometimes to me. It used to happen back on Trek. When I would have a really important scene, ususally one with Patrick, and I wanted to do really well, and impress everyone. I would just get a brain freeze, and even know I knew that I knew the lines, they wouldn’t come. Like “I know that joke, but I forgot it” times a million.
So I was still pretty freaked, but we got through it, and I did get the lines down, mostly, enough so I felt like we could all go out and have a drink and do a little gambling.
It was decided that we’d all head back to our respective hotels, and meet at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesar’s Palace in something like a half-hour.
So here’s the deal: This place, Cleopatra’s Barge…I felt like I’d walked into someone else’s mid-life crisis. Someone please explain to me why all the cover bands play “Brick House”? And someone else explain to me why they can never get the words right? Oh! And here’s a newsflash for you: Creed sucks. Playing bad covers of Creed songs sucks even more. So just stop the insanity!
We sat at this place for the prescribed half-hour, and as soon as everyone else was there, we bailed out, and fast. Cleopatra’s Barge was more like the Titanic. We did a teeny little bit of gambling, and Tracy won 40 bucks in quarters, which was cool.
We ended up across the street at The Barbary Coast, where the dealers were cool, I won some money on Craps (my favorite game, for those of you scoring at home), and Anne won some money at the Wheel of Fortune slot machines. We went into the Coffee Shop, and had REASONABLY PRICED steak and eggs, with a side of extra-well done hasbrowns, thankyouverymuch, and that was it. We went in about 3 AM, which isn’t bad, Vega$-time, because I had looked at the schedule for the con the next day, and I wasn’t on until 5PM. Cool. Time to sleep in.
Morning. 8AM. I’ve been asleep for 5 hours. Phone rings. It’s Jackie Scott, one of the convention promoters. She says, “We need you here at 10 for an autograph signing. Do you want to be picked up at 9:30, or do you want to take a cab?”
“Mrphhzzzzgggggthphbbt” was all I could muster.
DAY ONE AT THE CON:
MY ON STAGE TALK!
THE SKETCH SHOW!
Let the rudeness begin!