Posted by Kim and Sage
The lead up to the third officially unofficial gathering of Community fanatics and the creatives who love them filled me with trepidation. Don’t get me wrong – I was counting the seconds until I’d be reunited and, in many cases, united for the first time with members of this small internet army. But despite watching the show since Jeff Winger hastily put together a “study group” to get into Britta Perry’s pants, I didn’t know if I’d quite meet the super-fan requirements for CommuniCon. It’s common knowledge that Kim is the Greendale authority in our partnership, and my casual live-tweeting has nothing on the hours and hours she’s spent promoting the show. What if I couldn’t hang? Cue Hulu and a mainlined, full-series rewatch.
I shouldn’t have worried. (Zero regrets for that marathon though.) CommuniCon isn’t about some established fan hierarchy. It’s the Greendale of cons, free of
standards judgement. You love the show? Well then, you’re already accepted.
Let me back up for the benefit of the n00bs. CommuniCon is a fan-run convention created to celebrate and support Community. Like last year’s, CommuniCon 3 was held at the Embassy Suites in Glendale, CA. (And the hotel will hopefully will remain its home, because we’re now thoroughly spoiled by the nightly open bar.) Organizer and dear HOF friend Gillian Morshedi packs the itinerary with panels and meet & greets. Other features include a mini-Artists Alley to assist you in emptying your wallet; the full-size DARSIT, available for photo ops; and even a game station where you can Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne, 8-bit style. Basically, it’s a Communie playground.
We escaped rainy New York City and landed in sunny California the Friday morning of the con. Thanks to the careful pre-planning of the abundance of Monicas in our hotel room, we quickly rounded up Communies from a handful of different terminals and headed out to Glendale together. (Shout out to the SuperShuttle and the family we rode with. Sorry we talked about the finer points of the Mindy backdoor episode the entire ride.) After the obligatory In-N-Out meal and gas station wine run, our first show-related act as a unified fandom was to take on a Community trivia that just happened to fall on the same weekend. I was ready to back out when I learned that the cafe hosting us didn’t have a liquor license. (Whoever heard of a dry trivia? That’s on par with a dry wedding. Why do you hate your friends?) But Kim had already sorted us neatly into cars (Monica), so fine.
Team Precocious Little Bitches reporting for duty.
Precocious Little Bitches wasn’t just a name, it was an attitude. Being a trivia host myself, I firmly believe a) that the job of the host isn’t to show off his own obscure knowledge but to facilitate fun-times and friendly competition, and b) that anyone who carefully watches a show should do reasonably well on that show’s trivia, even if they don’t spend their spare time scouring the IMDB pages of anyone who’s ever been involved with it. So maybe we were a little vocal about calling bullshit on a whole round on the cast’s various connections to obscure horror movies. While our wife-friends trounced the rest of the competition and walked away with some extra-rare crew hoodies, we were given prizes by the hosts, I swear to god, just for complaining. (Those guys were total sports.) “Don’t be so negative!” you might say. But I didn’t get this Joel McHale-signed “Modern Warfare” script for being a positive person, so.
CommuniCon officially kicked off the next morning. When we hit registration to get our badges, we were each handed a swag bag from Yahoo Screen. The streaming service saved the show after its cancellation by NBC and has already been treating Community like the asset it is. From SDCC to NYCC and all the internet in between, we’ve seen Yahoo reaching Community fans and would-be fans where they live – the nerdiest reaches of the culture. It almost goes without saying that NBC never showed its network-y face at any CommuniCon event. Yahoo Screen was there with us all weekend, recording panels, engaging with the fandom, and making sure we all had our official Greendale student IDs.
Also there all weekend: CON RIBBONS. We
borrowed stole this idea from Gallifrey One and it’s a keeper. Dozens of CommuniCon attendees jumped on board and had their pre-ordered ribbons ready to trade. A few of our favorites:
- “It’s like a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
- “Oh, the Koog approves! That’s a five!”
- “Lava Joust?”
- “Technically Jeff, you ARE about to get screwed in the biology room.” (Kim’s)
- “How long does peyote last? Just…asking for a friend.” (Mine)
After welcoming everyone, Gillian played for us what Kim and I consider our contribution to the con. The week before we left for LA, we saw Danny Pudi in the original musical Found Off-Broadway. We caught up with him at the stage door and talked showtunes and Community for a good while. He was so jazzed to hear that we were going to the Con and graciously (nay, enthusiastically) recording a greeting for us to take with us. He wants you all to know that he loves you a lot, and that musicals are more exhausting than sitcoms.
Vicki, Garrett and Dean Spreck
The very first panel of the con was a fan favorite: No Small Parts. The Community universe reaches far beyond the Greendale 7, and this hour gave us the chance to find out what it’s like to be a guest star, a recurring character, or even a stand-in. Our panelists were Erik Charles Nielsen (Garrett), Danielle Kaplowitz (Vicki), Brisco Diggs (Black Hitler and Donald’s stand-in), Jordan Black (Dean Spreck), Brady Novak (Richie), Dominik Musiol (Pavel), Deanna Moore (Alison Brie’s stand-in/photo double), and Ben Zelevansky (Postman). We learned the Jordan doesn’t exactly watch the show – how very City College of him (“I told you I was going to come off as an asshole. You can relax, I already know.”); that Dominic spent 2.5 hours pouring water over Danny Pudi’s head to create Abed’s romantic ’80s movie moment; and that Deanna’s favorite moment on the show was getting to act with Alison Orphan Black-style in the Darkest Timeline episode. The actors hung way longer than they were supposed to in order to sign and take photos for everyone who wanted to meet them. The Meet & Greet line uncovered a few more revelations: my favorites being that Ben also played the ranger who asks to see Ron Swanson’s permit for roasting an entire pig in a park (“This just says, ‘I can do what I want.'”) and that this very blog is one of the top 10 Google results for Erik’s name. (It’s cool, Erik. We all Google ourselves from time to time. Also, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, HI. YOU ARE GREAT.) You can watch the entire conversation online at Yahoo Screen (our favorite streaming service EVER) even though Charley Koontz (Neil) is making that CSI money now and is too famous for us.
At any given break, you could find us buying up Artists Alley. My own haul included a gorgeous set of paintball postcards, a PayDean button, framed Brittabot print, and an activity book and one-of-a-kind commission from THE Julieta Colas. My only request was “something Jeff/Britta” and THIS is what she handed me.
From small parts to smaller on the outside telephone boxes, we rolled right into the Inspector Spacetime panel. Travis Richey and the gang were there to clue us in to their progress on the crowd-funded Untitled Motion Picture About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. Honestly, the work so far looks impressive and expensive. The Spacetime team were adamant that they approach their Inspector spin-offs as high-quality standalone stories. And that’s why they were able to court Star Trek‘s Robert Picardo and Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, both of whom contributed painfully adorable videos to the fundraising campaign. Check those sweet old motherfuckers and the rest of the panel here.
DARSIT poses at the ready.
Since the Inspector’s panel led right into the annual CommuniCon costume contest, I should mention that Kim, myself, and our friends Mary and the Shannons had been, for the entire day, in full “Geothermal Escapism” mode. When the floor is hot lava, there’s nothing to do but Mad Max it out. We’d been plotting cosplay domination remotely for months. And even though we lost our Abed, we made quite the BAMF study group when we were finally together. (Kim: I was the first member of our group to make an appearance on the con floor that morning, and BOY did I make an entrance. Everyone was lined up to register, and I was one of the first cosplayers there, so I was met with raucous applause. “WELCOME TO SHIRLEY ISLAND BITCHES!” I declared, because all I need in life is for people to applaud me where ever I go.)
To those looking to achieve my Britta hair: Sleep in foam spiral rollers, stick a thousand bobbie pins into your skull, and attack that shit with an entire can of hairspray.
Because Kim has fancy staff privileges, she had also had intel on a couple of surprise judges. Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown became three-time CommuniCon veterans that weekend and we love them for it. They both thanked us all for staying so passionate and Yahoo Screen for believing in the show. And Yvette went on to assure us (to huge applause) that even though her family concerns prevent her from being a part of the cast, she will always be a part of the family, on social media and everywhere else. After bemoaning the lack of Shirley cosplayers last year, Yvette geeked out over Kim’s Shirley Island outfit in the green room (Kim: I had tweeted Yvette a picture of my costume earlier in the day (as I was super proud of it)and she flipped out over it. I popped into the green room not long after she and Gillian arrived, and Yvette FREAKED OUT over seeing my costume in person. “It’s YOU!!” she exclaimed. “THIS is how you cosplay! You have just made my life today!” She also offered her condolences to the teddy bear I had beheaded the night before to make my scepter. Honestly, I don’t know how I didn’t burst into tears.) Because people listen to Yvette Nicole Brown (and also because she made no bones about being a biased judge), there was also small parade of Shirleys in the costume contest finals. (Glinda Shirley, Sam Jackson Shirley, Security Shirley, etc.) So well done on all of us for making Yvette feel loved and appreciated.
Shirley and Shirley