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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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