Doctor Who! One of Joseph’s (and many people’s) greatest obsessions gets a thorough going-over with special guests–novelist and Doctor Who author Paul Cornell, writer/comedian Molly Glover, and screenwriter/novelist/critic, C. Robert Cargill aka Massawyrm. Thrill to tales of the universal appeal of the show, intimate encounters with Doctor Who actors, horrible time travel choices, and a surprisingly detailed examination of the sexual undercurrents of this charming British show for families. This episode was recorded live at CONvergence sci-fi/fantasy convention and thus includes many loud cheers, woos, and the occasional sonic screwdriver noise.
Monthly Archives: July 2013
I’ve recently returned from the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con–a swarming, heaving mass of geeky humanity.
During the convention, I got to spend time with a lot of pals including Angela and Aubrey Webber a.k.a The Doubleclicks. They are, of course, charming and talented and smart and good at all of the instruments ever. I’ve been lucky to tour with them a bit, they’re writing a song for my upcoming comedy and music album Flaw Fest, they appear on one of my favorite episodes of Obsessed, and they’re good friends.
During w00tstock, they premiered the video for their song “Nothing to Prove.” It’s a response to the rabid fear of the so-called Fake Geek Girl. (If you have no idea what a Fake Geek Girl is, here’s a thing I wrote on tumblr trying to explain the concept to a theater person.)
The video was co-conceived by another pal–the talented screenwriter and raconteur Josh Cagan. It features testimonials from geek girls and a few geek guys (some assholes named Wheaton, Savage, Scrimshaw, etc.) about the strange trend in some pockets of geek culture toward exclusion.
Here’s the video:
I thought a lot about geek culture during Comic-Con this year. One of the most obvious expressions of geekdom is cosplay. Dressing up as a character you like, or in many cases, just a character you find aesthetically pleasing.
I love watching cosplay. For the joy of those in costume and those who are thrilled when they see their favorite character walk by. But I’m also fascinated with the mash-up between the fantasy of the character and the reality of being a human at a convention.
I posted on Twitter and Facebook that all I wanted out of the convention was seeing one guy dressed as Batman eating a taco. I even followed a couple of Batmen, but they walked right past the taco stands.
I got a close second, though. In the middle of a business meeting, the Joker sat down next to me and ate a hot dog. He didn’t even eat it. He devoured it in two bites. I saw the Joker deep throat a hot dog. (When I posted about this on Twitter, it autocorrected to “derp throat” which would be a great geeky porn parody.)
I saw a guy in a really great Green Lantern costume standing against the wall on the crowded convention floor, charging his iPhone. It was sad and funny to see Green Lantern having to use a common power outlet to charge his phone instead of using his ring.
I saw several men dressed as Slave Leia.
Another friend saw all of the Avengers. But the Avengers were also dressed as Slave Leia.
Comic-Con runs shuttles from all the hotels to the convention center. The shuttle is a great place to watch superheroes confront the limits of the physical world. A guy in a great Iron Man costume got on the bus, lifted his helmet, and said, “Oh, man. I forgot I can’t sit down.” It was a double-decker bus so someone said, “Why don’t you go upstairs? There’s more room up there.” Iron Man’s friend said, “Bad idea. He doesn’t do stairs well.” So Iron Man just sort of squatted in the area normally reserved for wheelchairs while happily telling people how he made his awesome costume.
But my favorite overheard conversation was from a dude dressed as the Batman villain, the Riddler. He sat down next to me on the shuttle and started chatting with Cyborg and Green Arrow. He said he didn’t really read Batman comics or watch Batman movies. He just liked the costume. I laughed to myself. Then he said, “I picked this costume to match my friends. And I like green. But I didn’t want to be a DC character, I wanted to be Bane.”
I was unable to stop myself from leaning over to my wife and whispering, “Bane IS a DC character.” My wife hadn’t been listening to the Riddler’s conversation so she thought I was having a sudden attack of aphasia.
I whispered, “It’s funny because this guy dressed as the Riddler is a Fake Geek Guy.”
The Riddler was what all these judgmental dudes are so afraid of from women. That people will just appropriate geek knowledge and credentials. That they’ll wear the mask of the Riddler on their face but not in their hearts. And this will somehow rip a hole in the very fabric of the geek continuum.
I continued to listen to the Riddler. The topic changed from costumes to something very close to Riddler’s heart: tax laws as they relate to the legalization of marijuana.
The Riddler had a lot to say on this topic. Turns out, he was a huge geek. What he lacked in knowledge or passion in Batman’s rogue’s gallery, he more than made up for in pedantic pot tax lore.
He was absolutely not a fake geek. He was just a guy having fun wearing a costume with friends. Next year, I hope he fully embraces his inner geekdom and dresses up as Captain Pot Tax Laws.
It’s been said many times (and particularly effectively in The Doubleclick’s song and video) but one of the strengths of the geek community at this point is its spirit of inclusion.
There is too much “geek content” for geekdom to be based solely on your knowledge. No one recognizes every costume at an event as large as Comic-Con. What we recognize is the passion. And what makes the event positive is the moments of feeling like a part of a community no matter how odd or obscure your passion is.
My passion at Comic-Con this year was to see someone dressed as Batman eat a taco.
And a community rose up to support me. On Saturday afternoon many people tweeted at me, saying they had spotted a Batman in the vicinity of a taco stand. @SemiEvolved on Twitter then sent me this photo.
And it was good. Thanks, @SemiEvolved! This particular Batman was found at my pal Marian Call’s ninja gig behind the Convention Center. So he has good taste in tacos and music.
But since I’m a geek and I want to collect them all, I will be on the hunt for a sighting of Batman eating a taco with his cowl up.
That’s all you need to be a geek: follow your passion. Follow them down a street and take pictures of them eating tacos.
Next year, Comic-Con, next year.
Okay, that title is a lie. Because everyone has a Kickstarter project these days. I recently finished one for a double album of comedy and music called Flaw Fest. You can read about all the crazed work that went into that in this post about cocaine and unicorns.
As a comedian, one of the hardest things about running a Kickstarter project is taking a short break from making jokes about Kickstarter. So I’m going to relish this short window when I feel comfortable poking fun at it.
That said, I do think it’s a great system to support artists of all kinds.
I appreciate all the insane support I got for both Flaw Fest and my book Comedy of Doom, which was also made possible by Kickstarter. So I want to support other people, not just with money, but also with talking about it.
Here’s some talking about projects!
This project will wrap up in just a few days. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Chan Poling of the Suburbs a little bit. I performed this comedy piece at a holiday show of The New Standards (another of Chan’s awesome musical endeavors.) It’s awesome to see an established band like the Suburbs eschew the standard label system and go directly to their fans.
This is a project by my good pal Len Peralta. Len is the man behind the awesome Geek-A-Week trading card series. Here’s my card and podcast. Len is raising funds to relaunch his podcast. I can confirm that Len is a great conversationalist. We shared a room at Dragon Con last year. We spent many hours sitting in our pajamas and chatting. It was awesome. As this podcast will be.
This is a game about ninjas. Lots and lots of ninjas. It’s made by Brian Wood and Jon Cazares. Brian is also behind Awesome Dice. I filmed these commercials for the company. I drank horrible Canadian whiskey for those commercials, so obviously I’m willing to do a lot for Brian. I play tested the game many moons ago and it’s great. Did I mention it has ninjas? Are you sick of zombies cultural dominance? Strike back by supporting ninjas.
And that’s it. Awesome rock band. Awesome podcast. Awesome ninjas. Overuse of the word awesome.
And now I’m off to work on my Robin Hood Kickstarter in which I raise funds to give to other Kickstarters.
Stand-up comedy and King Arthur! Two different obsessions that go weirdly well together! Joseph is joined by his friends and cohorts in the storytelling collective Rockstar Storytellers–comedian Ben San Del and playwright Phillip Andrew Bennet Low. Ben shares the story of doing dirty comedy at a clean wedding, Phillip reveals he used to be a hipster who hated Lancelot for being too sincere, and we all agree that a good stand-up set about King Arthur would include a fair amount of dick/sword jokes. PLUS the most direct answers to the “What is happiness?” question yet!
On the last day of CONvergence 2013, I lost my badge. I believe it fell off while I was being a back-up dancer for a karaoke performance of Skyfall. These things happen.
As I entered the main stage for the closing ceremonies, I had my ID out and my schedule of events to prove who I was. When I reached the volunteer at the front of the line, I started saying, “I understand if I can’t get in, I lost my badge and didn’t realize in time to get a new one, but–”
The volunteer stopped me and said, “I know who you are.”
I have a strong sense of constant guilt so I always expect “I know who you are” to be immediately followed by “And I know what you did.”
Instead the volunteer said, “Go ahead, Mr. Scrimshaw. I’ll see if someone can get you a martini.”
This is a short way to say, CONvergence 2013 was a great experience. I saw many great costumes including an adorable pink Dalek and a guy dressed as the Hulk trying to twerk. Some demons accidentally threw one of their prosthetic horns into my wife’s wine cup. They invented demon wine pong. They also agreed to buy my wife a new cup of wine. For demons, they were very reasonable.
I did 15 panels and shows with many awesome friends and collaborators. Highlights include, but are not limited to, recording a Doctor Who episode of my podcast Obsessed with Paul Cornell, Molly Glover, and C. Robert Cargill; the organized chaos of Drinking With Geeks; Comedy on the Internet (I finally got to do a panel with Rebecca Watson of the Skepchicks and as a fan of her work I was thrilled); My Monster (a one act play written and performed by myself and Bill Corbett, you can buy a copy of the script here), and an interview with Paul Cornell. The interview was planned as a One on One about Paul’s career, but Paul has a great policy to always have some amount of gender equity on his panels. So my wife, Sara, joined us for a great Two on One and the conversation was much richer for it.
It would take me another entire four day convention to describe everything that was great about this year’s CONvergence, so I want to focus on this: Professor Ass Lightning.
On Friday night, I recorded a new stand-up comedy show about superheroes called SUPER ISSUES. During the show, I described a new superhero named Professor Ass Lightning–a yoga instructor who developed the strange ability to shoot lightning out of his or her ass. I say “his or her” because both a male and female version of the character are featured in the show.
The character came about because I made a note on my smartphone that “all superhero names are better if you just add lightning.” But autocorrect apparently thinks “add” is a typo for “ass” and thus a hero was born. I used the idea of this ridiculous hero to poke fun at some of the tropes of grim, serious heroes.
I liked the idea and hoped others would, too. The laughs during the show indicated Professor Ass Lightning had made some fans. Indeed, the Professor did.
The next day, after a panel, I was delighted to discover that some industrious cosplayers had taken the time to create a Professor Ass Lightning costume based on the description in the show complete with yoga mat cape.
And here’s the back view with the titular bolt.
That was extremely cool. The panel after that, an artist brought me their awesome interpretation of Professor Ass Lightning.
Beautiful, haunting, and features the correct ass lightning sound effect from the show. ZWAPFFFT!
It was really exciting to get the immediate feedback that the show and the character had a true impact on the audience. SUPER ISSUES (featuring the adventures of Professor Ass Lightning) was recorded and if all went well, we’ll be releasing it as a comedy album a few months from now.
It was all personally gratifying but also a great example of why I love CONvergence. There’s such a spirit of adventure, excitement, and plain old absurdity that an idea can come falling out of someone’s mouth on Friday night and by Saturday afternoon the idea is on a piece of paper and on a human being and literally walking around the convention.
Alas, CONvergence is over, and all that’s left is to go untag photos on Facebook. BUT convention season is in full swing!
Next weekend, I’ll be doing stand-up and recording an episode of Obsessed with Paul and Storm at ConnectiCon. The weekend after that, I’ll be an attending pro at San Diego Comic-Con. Then a few weeks of this strange thing called the real world before heading off to Dragon*Con for a slew of panels and performances.
Until then, here’s a picture of Professor Ass Lightning shooting me in the face. Enjoy! If you can!
For the past several months I’ve been doing a series of daily tweets. First tacos, then monkeys, then daily affirmations, and now daily etiquette tips. If you’re wondering how to behave in polite society, this will answer most of the questions you would never bother to ask. Enjoy!
You can also follow me on Twitter to enjoy July’s series of Daily Incorrect Quote Tweets.
Day One: At family dinner, NEVER stab your in-laws with the salad fork. That’s what the stabbing fork is for.
Day Two: After Memorial Day, one should ALWAYS pass the joint to the left.
Day Three: In the jazz community, a twenty minute sax solo is an acceptable form of greeting.
Day Four: Save the Date or STD cards should be sent for weddings, key parties, and pre-planned emotional breakdowns.
Day Five: If someone buys you an off-registry wedding gift, it’s customary to lace their thank you card with a deadly poison.
Day Six: Don’t stare at buttocks. Unless eyes are painted on the buttocks. Then you should make eye contact 50% of the time.
Day Seven: Never tell someone they look like Tom Cruise. Be direct and say, “You look like an ageless murder robot.”
Day Eight: It’s socially acceptable to look at a smartphone while using a public urinal, but not an iPad, you fucking savages.
Day Nine: The proper response to another person’s sneeze is: “I’m sorry about your nose explosion.”
Day Ten: A guide to Facebook invites. Yes=Maybe. Maybe=No. No=Send Me Another Invite And I’ll Murder You In Your Sleep.
Day Eleven: One out of every seven tweets should mention Benedict Cumberbatch. Any fewer is a vulgar abuse of the platform.
Day Twelve: If you pass gas in a public place, don’t be embarrassed. Take credit for your work with a simple bow or curtsy.
Day Thirteen: If you don’t have children it’s acceptable to show people pictures of your cats, plants, or XboxLive Gamerscore.
Day Fourteen: If you hear an adult say YOLO out loud without irony, it’s acceptable to immediately test that theory.
Day Fifteen: When people say something you like in real life, do not try to touch their LIKE button.
Day Sixteen: The single rudest thing you can do with a smartphone is call another human. Send a text, you savage.
Day Seventeen: You know who doesn’t take pictures of their food? ANIMALS. You should be posting at least 57 pictures per meal.
Day Eighteen: If your dining partner uses the phrase “it is what it is” it’s quite acceptable to flip the table in a monstrous rage.
Day Nineteen: Some basics: Don’t chew with your mouth open. Don’t listen with your mind closed. Don’t love with your pants on.
Day Twenty: It’s rude to break up with someone via text. A vine video is far more intimate and easy to share with friends.
Day Twenty-One: A business handshake should be so hard and firm, everyone in the room will shout, “Jesus, what’s he compensating for?”
Day Twenty-Two: The proper way to correct someone’s grammar on Twitter is posting about it on Google+ where no one will ever see it.
Day Twenty-Three: Never, ever make eye contact with anyone at a highway rest stop. Even if you’re meeting there for sex.
Day Twenty-Four: We’re used to emoticons so at social events you should end every sentence with an abrupt, non-sequitur smile or frown.
Day Twenty-Five: Body language pro-tip: Winking is always creepy.;)
Day Twenty-Six: If you’re an asshole, it’s polite to start sentences with “I’m not an asshole, but…” so we know you’re an asshole.
Day Twenty-Seven: Don’t tell people their faults. Instead post their top 17 in a fun, snarky list on the internet. People love lists.
Day Twenty-Eight: Correcting all you’re friends grammar and punctuations are great; for people whom want to loose all they’re friend’s.
Day Twenty-Nine: If you run into a mansplainer, ask him to explain being a jackass.This will create an asshole paradox and destroy him.
Day Thirty: If you host a dinner party and you do not ask every single guest if they’ve seen The Wire, you are a fucking monster.
“Uhhh, hi. I’m the guy who bought all your toilet plungers yesterday, but we lost one. And I think we broke another one. Do you have more toilet plungers? In the back? It’s an emergency. I know this sounds weird, but it’s okay. It’s for a comedy show.”
This is just one of the many awkward conversations I had with the employees of the convenience store across from my old apartment.
In this particular case, I was shopping for plungers to do a big comedy sketch about these obscure aliens called Daleks from this British TV show that had been canceled for a while called Doctor Who. I was going to be doing this sketch at the only place people would understand it: a science fiction convention in Minnesota called CONvergence.
Oh, how times have changed.
Doctor Who is back and then some. CONvergence has grown into a massive, fan-run convention. Back then, I couldn’t even attempt to explain Daleks to the guy behind the counter. Now I might be afraid to mention Daleks because I wouldn’t have time to get into a long David Tennant versus Matt Smith debate with the Whovian fanatic who probably works there.
CONvergence has been a big part of my life and my career as a comedy human for many years. I’ve met a lot of friends, fans, creative partners, and unfortunate little plastic vials full of what I was told was vodka with food coloring in it.
I’ve been performing at a lot of conventions in the last few years, but CONvergence will always be my “home convention.” It’s one giant, intelligent party.
Last year, I saw a guy in a really great Captain America costume. He was standing in the bathroom reminding tipsy Boba Fetts and 10th Doctors to wash their hands. I thought, “Wow. That’s some really accurate Captain America cosplay.”
In a strange way, it’s also a nice snapshot of CONvergence: absurd, charming, smart, boozy yet responsible.
Over the years, my career has dovetailed with the growth of geekdom and, as a result, I’ll be busier than ever at this year’s CONvergence.
You can check out my full schedule here or at the bottom of the post. Some highlights include:
I’ll be doing a signing at 2 pm on Friday. In an effort to justify the thousands of dollars I spent on a degree in visual art, I’ve decided to do a free sketch with each purchase or signature. My book Comedy of Doom and my comedy album Verbing The Noun will be for sale both at the signing and all weekend long at the CON’s official merch area on the 2nd floor. I’m particularly excited for people to get their hands on Verbing The Noun since it was recorded live at CONvergence last year.
Friday night on the mainstage, I’m doing a brand new stand-up show about superheroes called Joseph Scrimshaw’s SUPER ISSUES. It’s a brooding, action-packed hour of comedy about horrible origin stories, the best super power ever, strong feelings about Batman, life lessons learned from the Hulk’s pants, and more. Truth! Justice! Massive, horrible property damage! We’ll be recording the show and if all goes well, eventually we’ll release it as an album.
Saturday at 5 pm, Bill Corbett and I will be doing our one-act comedy play/lecture thing called My Monster. Bill plays a egomaniacal Hollywood screenwriter and I play the character he creates before the audience’s eyes. It’s Frankenstein’s Monster meets David Mamet, but funnier. We originally wrote the show for the San Francisco SketchFest and then performed it on the first Jonathan Coulton Cruise. We’re thrilled to finally do it at CONvergence!
Saturday at 7 pm, I’ll be doing a very special episode of the Obsessed podcast. The subject is Doctor Who. The guests included Paul Cornell (a Doctor Who writer, a novelist, and a friend I’m happy to have met at CONvergence), Molly Glover (a super funny writer and performer and fan of New Who), and C. Robert Cargill (a film critic, screenwriter of the horror movie Sinister, novelist, and also a friend I’m happy to have met at CONvergence.) The podcast will address burning questions about the show, the fandom, time travel itself, and whether the 10th Doctor cried too much or just enough.
The rest of my time at the convention will be spent doing more comedy panels, sleeping, drinking, or all three of those things at the same time.
And, of course, washing my hands like Captain America told me to.
I hope to see many of you at the convention, but if not you can catch up with my adventures by following me on twitter. The official hashtag for the con is #cvg2013.
Thanks and let me know if you find any plungers in the back I can use for comedy.
FULL CONVERGENCE SCHEDULE:
Thursday, July 4th
5:30 pm – Rockstar Storytellers: Joseph will read a comedy story from his book Comedy of Doom
9 pm – Super Spy Smackdown: A heated, comedy debate about which spy would win in a fight
Friday, July 5th
2 pm – Signing: Buy a copy of Joseph’s book, CD, or Geek-A-Week card or get a signature. Joseph will also draw a picture for you!
5 pm – Comedy on the Internet: A panel about the joys and perils of making the humor times on the internet
7 pm – You’re Making That Up! Joseph hosts the comedy quiz show developed by Bill Stiteler and Neil Gaiman!
8:30 pm – SUPER ISSUES: Joseph’s brand new stand-up show about superheroes
Saturday, July 6th
11 am – The Worst of Bond: Let’s all bitch about James Bond!
12:30 pm – Kickstart Me Up: A panel on the joys and perils of running a successful Kickstarter project!
2 pm – Power Point Karaoke: Joseph is one of the judges for this Power Point Presentation Smackdown!
5 pm – My Monster: Joseph and Bill Corbett’s one act play about screenwriting, monsters, and sparkling wine!
7 pm – Obsessed: A Doctor Who episode of Joseph’s comedy podcast with Paul Cornell, Cargill, and Molly Glover!
8:30 pm – Drinking With Geeks: Exactly what the title says, but even funnier.
11:30 pm – Killer B’s Improv Movie Show: Funny Make-Em Ups to horrible B movies!
Sunday, July 7th
9:30 am – Hungover With Geeks: Come watch us be punished for having done Drinking With Geeks the night before.
3:30 pm – One on One with Paul Cornell: Joseph interviews Mr. Cornell for the CONvergence DVD!