Tag Archives: Conventions

CONvergence 2014: Rubber Chicken Lightsaber and Schedule

This weekend, I’m headed back to Minneapolis for my “home convention” CONvergence. I’ll be doing a bunch of comedy panels, an episode of my podcast Obsessed, and a new stand-up show called FUTURE HOLE. You can find my whole schedule here or below.

When I think of CONvergence, I sometimes think of this photo which I call “WORST DALEK INVASION EVER.”

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This photo wasn’t even taken at CONvergence, but it sums up a lot of what I love about the convention. It’s got Daleks, absurdity, a sense of excitement, perhaps alcohol was involved, and most importantly it’s a great big party with a sense of humor about it.

I’ve been involved with CONvergence for a long time. Recently, when I moved to Los Angeles, I found this old photo from an early performance on mainstage. It’s from a sketch called POWER OF THE FUNNY in which Jedi Knights had rubber chickens for lightsabers. See above, re: absurdity.

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The sketch was a parody of Star Wars which recast Jedi as vaudevillians and Sith as crass stand-up comedians. “Master Yoda,” Luke asked. “Are dick and butt jokes more powerful?”

“No,” responded Yoda. “Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

Years later, I don’t have the same chip on my shoulder about stand-up. I’ve happily turned to the dark side and take pride in trying to create (hopefully) intelligent, fun, pro-social dick and butt jokes.

Last year, I did a stand-up show about superheroes which included the made-up character Professor Ass Lightning. The next day someone dressed up as the character and another awesome person named Stephanie Brown gave me this drawing of the character.

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Ass jokes for the win!

This year I’ll be doing a brand new stand-up comedy show called FUTURE HOLE. It’s a show about where we are and where we’re going. Topics include but are not limited to Netflix, jet packs, Benedict Cumberbatch, autocorrect, gender equality, and butts. It’s Friday at 7 pm on Mainstage. I’ll be recording the show for possible release as an album. I HOPE I GET MORE DRAWINGS!

I’m also recording a live episode of my comedy podcast OBSESSED. The topic is a super-important but often overlooked geek obsession–CATS. The animal, not the musical. My cat obsessed guests are Tim Wick and Rebecca Watson.

If you’re a fan of my book Comedy of Doom and my Patreon comedy blog posts on this very site, I’ll be doing a a reading and playing a quick round of my made-up nerd-friendly sport, Competitive Hugging.

I’ll be doing a signing on Sunday afternoon. I’ll have copies of my book Comedy of Doom and my comedy albums, Verbing the Noun and Flaw Fest. PLUS a very few flasks with my squirrel coat of arms.

While I’m in Minneapolis, I’ll also be doing Rebecca Watson’s Quiz-O-Tron at my ancestral comedy home of Bryant-Lake Bowl on Wednesday, July 2nd! Info and tickets are available here!

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.

Full schedule here and below as well.

Thanks! My comedy Dalek plunger and rubber chicken lightsaber look forward to seeing you at CONvergence!

FULL CONVERGENCE SCHEDULE:

Thursday, July 3rd

8:30 pm – Smackdown: A heated, comedy debate about which magic-using character would win in a fight

Friday, July 4th

2 pm – Power Point Karaoke: Joseph is one of the presenters for this Power Point Presentation Smackdown!

3:30 pm – One on One with Amy Berg: Joseph interviews his pal, CONvergence Guest of Honor, Amy Berg

7 pm – FUTURE HOLE! Joseph’s stand-up comedy show about Netflix, jet packs, swearing, and more!

11:30 pm – Killer B’s Improv Movie Show: Funny Make-Em Ups to horrible B movies!

Saturday, July 5th

3:30 pm – Reading! Joseph reads from his book, his blog, and plays a round of Competitive Hugging!

5 pm – Worst of Harry Potter! Lets bitch about the films AND the books!

8:30 pm – Obsessed: A podcast about CATS with Joseph, Tim Wick, and Rebecca Watson!

10 pm – Drinking With Geeks: Exactly what the title says, but even funnier.

11:30 pm – Hypothetical Who: Joseph is a contestant in Paul Cornell’s brutal Doctor Who trivia show!

Sunday, July 6th

12:30 pm – Signing: Joseph signs and sells his book, comedy albums, and a FLASK!

Cheers,
Joseph

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Professor Ass Lightning: Best of CONvergence 2013

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.

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And here’s the back view with the titular bolt.

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That was extremely cool. The panel after that, an artist brought me their awesome interpretation of Professor Ass Lightning.

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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!

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ZWAPFFFT!

If you enjoy my work, you can sign up for my fan list here and make more comedy possible by buying a book, a comedy album, or a script here.

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CONvergence 2013: Schedules and Plunger Memories

“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!

Cheers,
Joseph

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Batman and The Popular Arts

I saw a lot of odd and awesome things at the San Diego Comic-Con. My favorite was this:

Batman taking a walk.*

There were many people cosplaying Batman, but this guy was the best. He was a full-on, bad-ass, Christopher Nolan-films Batman with an iron jaw and cold blue eyes peering out of the darkness of his grim mask.

And he was walking down the sun-drenched marina boulevard.

The boulevard is behind the convention center. Not that many Comic-Con attendees are out there. They came to San Diego to buy exclusive My Little Pony toys and perhaps catch a glimpse of Joss Whedon eating a taco.** They did not come for the sun and ocean. So the boulevard is a mix of Comic-Con attendees and people who just, like, live in San Diego or something.

Almost everyone who passed the Dark Knight felt compelled to say out loud, “It’s Batman!” There are a few phrases in our culture we compulsively say out loud regardless of how obvious the statement might be:

“It’s hot.”

“It’s cold.”

“It’s Batman.”

Some tipsy dudes who were not with Comic-Con exchanged fist bumps with Batman. Still overcome with the need to share the obvious, one dude said, “Dude, we just fist-bumped Batman!”

A small child approached Batman. His father bent down, his Comic-Con badge proudly displayed, and said, “If you’re going to take a picture with Batman you better put a smile on your face.”

And he did.

This is my second year going to Comic-Con. Before I went the first time people warned me about it like I was headed to a war zone. Bring your own food! Carry an oxygen tank! Tape your wallet to your flesh so you can feel it being ripped off of your body! Wrap your soul in protective armor to defend from the giant corporate monster that is Comic-Con!

I recognize a lot of the snark is accurate. It is crowded, expensive, corporate, and there’s nothing quite as depressingly ironic as watching a dude dressed as Hawkeye entirely miss the urinal then leave the bathroom without washing his hands.

But I like it.

Both years I’ve attended the convention, the streets of downtown San Diego have been covered with signs proclaiming that Comic-Con is “Celebrating the Popular Arts.”

The first year, I thought this was smooth marketing speak to say, “Yes, it started out as a comic book convention, but now there are panels with LL Cool J about NCIS: Los Angeles. They’re both popular. Just let it be.”

This year, when I saw the signs saying “Celebrating the Popular Arts” I was elated by the word “popular.”

I started my career as a writer and a comedian writing comedy sketches and plays within the confines of the world of traditional theater.

There are many things I love about traditional theater.

The attitude toward the concept of popularity is not one of them. Theater tends to retain a disgust with the “popular” back from the days when almost everything on television was a crappy, repetitive sitcom. Popularity often brings with it the implied suggestion that you are dumbing your art down to the lowest common denominator to get butts in the seats. Of course, all theater productions want to get butts in the seats. So, particularly in small to mid-size theater, the dangerous word “popular” gets translated into “important,” “relevant,” or “Shakespeare.”

So when I saw the word “popular” proudly plastered all over the town, I started thinking about what it actually meant to Comic-Con–both my personal experience of the event and the event itself.

Over the last few years, I’ve been branching out to do a hybrid of storytelling and stand-up comedy around the country. I’ve been writing spec scripts for TV shows and movies and web series. I wrote a book about the wide world of geekdom. It’s the work that has brought me to Comic-Con to frolic in the sun with Stormtroopers of all shapes and sizes.

This year, I performed at the comedy and music geekstravaganza, w00tstock starring Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and Adam Savage. The audience for this show is a big pack of self proclaimed nerds. I did one piece aimed at the target demographic about Star Wars told as a collection of tweets. I’ve also noticed that geeks don’t need every piece of entertainment to be geeky. So I took a risk and performed a story about a time I did some commercials with a bear.

Here’s the story. Here’s the commercial. It went well.

The vibe in the room for w00tstock is incredibly accepting. It’s an audience that is happy to celebrate new people and new ideas. For example, the awesome Bonnie Burton and Anne Wheaton did a presentation about putting googly eyes on things.

Even within the traditional world of geek, things are changing. I went to exactly two Comic-Con panels. One was Geek Girl Fashion. The other was Old White Guy With Strong Opinions About Star Trek. Again, there’s quite a spectrum.

I had meetings about writing for two specific properties. One is based on a comic book about superheroes. One is based on a web comic about a charming dude who likes to have fun and makes the occasional Lord of the Rings reference.

The artists I’m meeting with believe in their art and want it to be good. The business people want the art to be good so it will be popular so they can make money. They are not in the least bit subtle about this and it’s very refreshing from my perspective.

Trying to see it from a bigger perspective, Comic-Con is a huge mash-up of artistic interests, corporate interests, cosplayers, fans, famous people, fans trying to see famous people eat tacos, and people trying to make it in any of the many industries represented at the Con.

It’s all tied together by the idea of popularity. Everyone at Comic-Con is interested in what people like. This brings us back to Batman.

Batman walks down the street and everyone wants to take his picture, shout his name, and bump his fist. They know him. They know his story. He is a part of their lives. Geeks, drunks, kids, grandmothers, even birds seemed to screech like they recognized him. All of his incarnations, all of his stories have had a profound impact on a lot of people for a long time.

Batman is popular.

To put it another way, this dark brooding man who dresses up like a bat to fight crime has made a lot of people happy.

What the hell is wrong with that?

Good job, Batman, good job.

 

*My second favorite costume was Lazy Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had a lightsaber, a Jedi robe, blue jeans, and some ketchup stains.

**I did not see Joss Whedon eating a taco. I did see Matt Smith drinking beer. At last call, someone bought him another beer. He only took one sip of the beer and put it down. After he left, I was very tempted to go drink the rest of The Doctor’s beer. I am not proud.

 

 

 

 

 

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