Panel Name: Nerd Feud with King of the Nerds
Topic: Our time with the contestants of King of the Nerds.
Featured Guests: Colby Burnett, Amanda Liston, Ben Tully, Heather Wensler, Jacob Rubin, Jonathan Adler, Kaitlin Spak, Lily Rutledge-Ellison, Ori Peri, Thomas Vollum, Todd Landree
One Mile High and over Memorial Day weekend, the nerds of the nation gathered to revel in collective and shared passions of the nerdverse in the glorious city of Denver, Colorado. The fourth annual Denver Comic Con (DCC) hosted a slew of stars and celebrities. If you were in Denver last weekend you had the chance to meet the original Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, witness Alan Tudyk autograph and give away random crap he had in his satchel, and maybe even snag a picture drooling next to Gwendoline Christie. What was probably not too high on anybody’s radar (including mine) was that a majority of the cast from the most recent season of King of the Nerds would also be in attendance. They came to host a variety of panels and partake in some interactive sessions with the con-goers. Being a fan of the show I thought, “Oh cool. It’ll be neat to see ‘the nerds’ up close.” And that was it. The thought passed as quick as it came. So you might find it surprising to know that by the end of DCC, my personal highlight was the interaction I had with “the nerds.” Beyond just generally being awesome, I found there was a deeper meaning in having the nerds present. Yeah, that’s right – I’m gonna get poetic and shit. But first!… Let’s talk about how cool being a nerd really is.
“We’re Going to a Van”
My experience with the nerds culminated to a series of encounters with various cast members at different moments of the con. The first was with Colby. And the experience was actually that of my brother. We both are fans of the show and we both rooted pretty damn hard for Colby throughout. It took me by surprise when Evan (my bro-ham) darted across the trade floor screaming Colby’s name. I followed while Evan screamed at me, “GET YOUR CAMERA READY!!” Colby and some of the other fellow nerds had just finished up a nerd war session with the con-goers and were now transporting boxes of what I assume were either weapons of mass nerd-struction or severed heads of fallen nerd enemies. Nearly grabbing Colby by his whole body, Evan asks, “Can I take a picture with you?!” Somewhat offput and maybe a bit frightened by the grown ass man that just came charging his way Colby says, “Uhh… We’re going to a van…” Evan returns with, “Can I walk with you?!” Colby smiles, shrugs and says, “Sure!” As I fumble with my phone camera like a paparazzi newb, Evan awkwardly walks next to Colby and his box of heads just smiling, waiting for me to click a few pics. Colby took it like a champ. We get the photos and Colby and the nerds move on.
Your Mom Watches Jeopardy
The next interaction was with a big group of the nerds. I was standing in line with Hush Comic creator/owner power duo, keeping them company while they were waiting to get Amy Acker’s autograph. I was busy staring and drooling (mostly drooling) at Gwendoline Christie who was signing autographs in the next line, when Adrian – the main reason we were in line in the first place – bolts out from the filing stack of people and heads towards the end of the line. It takes me and Sherif a minute to realize she’s spotted Colby not too far away. Here’s a fun fact about Adrian. She loves Jeopardy. Maybe more than your mom loves you. She’d been following Colby since his Jeopardy days. His role on King of the Nerds was just extra sauce for her. I watched from afar as Adrian drew information from Colby about his glory run on Jeopardy, picking up pointers on how she too could land a spot on the trivia show. I think she tried Vulcan mind melding with him at one point. It was hard to tell from so far away. Off to the side of the brain session happening were a collection of some of my favorite nerds! Thomas, Todd, Brian (from season 2), a cardboard cut out of Raychell and (my super favorite) Katie. They took pictures with everyone from the Hush team. All of them were incredibly friendly and approachable. So approachable in fact, that I may have asked Katie to marry me. As weirded out as she was, she didn’t outright say “no.” Yeahhh…I think I still have a chance ***Walks away in cool slo-mo but trips on incredibly flat surface anyway*** Point is – these nerds just kept getting cooler.
It’s half-way into day two of the con and my legs don’t like me very much at this point. I reluctantly succumb to their sissy fits and take a seat against a wall in one of the panel halls. After a few moments I spy two more of “the nerds” walking down the hall. Like a fifth grader with a crush on his math teacher, I shoot my hand in the air, waving. Followed up with a “Hi nerds!” once they were in ear shot, I was really surprised when Heather and Jonathan both looked at me, stopped, and proceeded to address me. THE presiding King of the Nerds stopped to talk to me, one of his underlings! I don’t even remember what it was was we talked about, but it was magical and awesome!! They then invited us to attend the Family Feud-style panel session they were having later that day. They also told us there were more nerds from the show down the hall. I thought, “Cool! I’ll go say hi when the whole feet throbbing thing dies down.” To my continued surprise, Jonathan and Heather RETURNED with said other nerds. WHAT?!? Like… don’t you have important, kingly nerd duties to attend to?!? In that moment I actually debated on whether or not to bow to Jonathan. How cool are these nerds that they’re willing to gather for a simple group of fans that enjoyed the show?! But wait people, it gets better.
The other nerds that returned with the King and Heather were Lily and Amanda from this season. Both of these awesome ladies ranked among my favorites of the season (if not, then of all time) and it was so freaking cool to meet them! But let’s talk about Amanda for a bit… You know when you start watching a new show (i.e. King of the Nerds) and how it takes a while to learn everyone’s name? We’ve all been there. Well, my brother – the same one that practically attacked Colby – had a nickname for Amanda before he learned her name. It was simply “the hot one.” It didn’t take more than halfway through episode 2 for that name to transform into “Hot Amanda.” After telling Amanda this story and then asking to for a photograph of me hugging her for the sole purpose of making my brother jealous, she one-upped me and suggested that the impact would be much greater if it were a cheek kiss instead of hug. Done and done. When I showed Evan the picture I thought he might actually slug me. Evan and I attended the Family Feud knock off game show event where we and a bunch of other nerd fans got to laugh and learn more about our nerd royalty. At the end of the event, Evan goes charging through the crowd again (Evan’s good a charging) right at Amanda, desperate for a picture. After two-hand shoving an old lady and punting a little nerd boy out of the way he reached “hot Amanda.” As I snap a pic, Amanda recognized me, looks at Evan and asks, “Is this the guy?!?” Evan answers with, “YES! I’M HOT AMANDA!!” It didn’t make sense, but we all got it and Evan ended up with his own cheek kiss.
To be Nerd is to be King
Here’s where I try to bring this somewhat aimless collection of stories a degree of significance. Upon reflecting on my DCC journey this year, I can honestly say that the interactions I had with “the nerds” was the best part. Better than telling ALL the artists and collectors to shut up and take my money, better than being close enough to Gwendoline Christie to pass her a basketball (or my beating heart), better than enjoying the phenomenal cosplayers – the highlight of my convention was unequivocally to the King of the Nerds contestants. That might sound weird, especially since I only had a few encounters with “the nerds” and they probably had no idea I was paying such close attention. But think of it this way: how often do you get to hug and talk to famous people (FOR FREE)?! Some might argue that this group of nerds aren’t “famous,” but that’s not the point! Here’s a bunch of individuals, that felt so strongly and passionately about being a nerd and loving a thing that they were brave enough to share it with the world from behind a camera and then do it some more in the mile high city for three days. Not only did they share, but they cared!! A Care Bear just earned its wings (don’t correct me… just let me have this one). What I mean by that is in every interaction we had with “the nerds” it always felt sincere. It felt real! To think that this band of uber-nerds, who were undoubtedly flocked and charged at all weekend long took time to interact, talk and even kiss fellow nerds is amazing! The theme of “be nerd, be who you are, be proud” was heavy and apparent in more than one panel session or con-event. It’s a theme so appropriate for DCC (for any con really). The King of the Nerds team that visited Denver this year embodied that better than ANY celebrity, movie star or illustrious writer or artist I’ve ever come in contact with. Granted, that list isn’t too long, but the impression left on me by “the nerds” was in no way, insignificant. Nerds! I pledge my aligence to thee!… To thine? To thone? to… Oh whatever. You guys rock. Thanks for making DCC great! Oh… And Katie, if you’re reading this, know that my marriage offer still stands. Ohhh yeah! *** Slo-mo, trip, uncontrollably careen down flight of stairs***