Absolutely. And honestly? It was DAMN entertaining. We had a fantastic time at last week’s inaugural leetUP event, a new live event series catered to celebrating and showcasing nerd culture. One part arts, culture, and entertainment showcase; two parts variety show; three parts toilet humor infused banter, The show was hosted by “Attack of the Show” (G4)’s host Kevin Pereira (who also founded and produced the show). Per their website and marketing material, we had SOME general idea of what to expect, but overall, we really had no idea what the event would be like.
We knew there would be some sort of live stage presence with key figures such as Kevin Smith (Clerks), Chris Hardwick (Nerdist), and Doug Benson (“Super High Me”), we knew there would be a video game arcade and some cool swag, and we were definitely expecting some live musical and visual performances.
Touted as a unique live experience to celebrate nerd culture, I was for some reason imagining half tech conference, half science fair, with a few project and product plugs by the names on the bill. Don’t really know why, but just envisioned something a lot … drier. I knew my ill-informed pre-conceived notions were ready to fly out the door though as soon as host Kevin Pereira came out and screamed out the crowd: “ARE YOU ALL READY TO HAVE A F*CKIN’ GOOD TIME?!”
The layout of the event was simple, a pre-determined set of couch panels, acts, and entertainers in the film, interwebz, and nerd entertainment spheres, ready to share with the audience, honestly, just whatever the hell was on their minds.
The evening began with an exhibits open house, live mixing by DJ R-Rated, and cash bar to loosen the astronomical social awkwardness levels of a room full of nerds. Just kidding though, as it was mentioned in some of the discussions, the crowd was pretty diverse in that there really no longer exists a single “nerd” archetype. You had a room of potential programmers, possible brogrammers, their broski counterparts, and some others who had just appeared to have gotten lost thinking Club Nokia had a concert that night. Even the girl:guy ratio wasn’t as abysmally bad as I had originally anticipated (I called 7:1 lol).
Pereira’s introduction and an opening standup set by an extremely animated Jimmy Pardo was an entertaining way to kick off the evening. With Pereira’s consistently maximum gear personality and charisma donning the stage, he thanked the audience for being a part of the first in the event series, threw a few cocaine jokes, and let Jimmy Pardo take the stage with a bit that had me thinking he was going to really share with us his deepest emotions, only to be slapped in the face with a penis in the popcorn punchline. Classic. Raunchy, obscene, just how nerds like their comedy.
Next on the bill was a couch panel with The Guild’s Felicia Day, G4′s Alex Albrecht, and Harley from Epic Meal Time. Conversation included everything from discussing internet haters to Skyrim tactics to what drove these internet personalities to work on their current passion projects. With a bit of discussion about just how ridiculously awesome but racist the original Power Rangers was, the chat ended with an interactive audience portion of the evening.
Kevin and his three couch personalities then got up for a “Food” making session with buckets of bacon strips, to be eaten by two eager audience tweeters. A gross out session of mustard, ketchup, loads of bacon, bleu cheese followed with the two contestants being drilled down vocally by the Sauce BAUSS himself. Highlight of this portion was watching Harley make it rain bacon into the crowd like it was Amateur Wednesday Night at the Rhino.
After a brief intermission, VJ Mike Relm performed an audio and visual set with real-time video clips looping synced to his turntables. From the Charlie Brown crew to insanely inventive scratching using the “O Face” clip from Office Space, Relm blew out both ears and eyes alike.
Relm’s set was followed by an appearance, the untimely demise, and a brief memorial service to Justin Beiber by the intraweb’s “Ask a Ninja” Ninja … guy. I haven’t really seen the guy’s online material, but I appreciate that he reminded me of post-school afternoons when I’d go home and watch Strongbad videos.
The evening continued on with the featured panel discussion with Kevin Smith, Chris Hardwick, Greg Fitzsimmons (The Howard Stern Show), and Doug Benson. From feces to fellatio, psychology to psychadelics, this panel of seriously intelligent and funny guys, (who are arguably, standing on top of their game purely for the fact that they’re entertaining as hell when they share their thoughts) just chatted and talked. It was like watching the Oprah Winfrey show, except with way less estrogen, 8,000 times more obscene, and exponentially more awesome. I loved that while the discussion could be brought to the very bottom rung of toilet humor at any given time (usually with Benson’s totally unpredictable outbursts), the panel were able to provide their own insights on how they view the online entertainment space, to give tidbits of motivation and wisdom to the crowd of onlookers, to urge everyone in the room to just do what they enjoy, rather than sit back idly on their hands.
The closing audience interaction portion of the night consisted of Chris Hardwick’s celebrity makeover turning a poor audience member’s face into that of a 1980′s transvestite hooker, Doug Benson smokeout challenge where he, the new-age prince of pot was beat out by a female challenger with “some seriously nasty fake weed”, and Kevin Smith/Greg Fitzsimmons honey badgering of a more than willing participant on his birthday.
What a seriously great night.
And let’s not forget the cosplay and costumes.
For the over-eager nerds wondering, yes, the overall aesthetic appeal did NOT diminish once the mask came off :).