Thursday, March 17, 2016

The host(ess) with the most(ess)

Since going freelance five years ago (five years? Really? Honestly it’s a genuine miracle I’m still alive) I’ve dabbled my filthy little hands in a variety of endeavours: teaching yoga, editing books, a huge copywriting project for a massive retail company, a little bit of design work here and there – you get the idea. Basically all stuff that generally exists within my current skill set, and all lovely things in their own ways.

And then last year I added a new string to my bow: hosting conventions.

I’ll be honest, this is not something I really pictured myself doing, but when the opportunity arose I gleefully said yes because… well, why not?

And truth be told, since I started teaching yoga I’ve discovered there’s something quite thrilling about standing in front of a crowd of people who are basically a captive audience. It’s a nice little boost to the ego (as long as they don’t look like they’re about to invade the stage and thump you).

So last May I rocked up to a reasonably swanky hotel in Birmingham as one of the MCs for Asylum 14, a convention dedicated to the TV show Supernatural (which I love). The other MC was – surprise, surprise! – The Other Half, and it was him that got me the gig in the first place, because Asylum 14, unlike the previous 13 Asylums, had grown so large that the organisers had decided to split it across two stages and they’d asked him if he knew of anyone competent enough to take the job. He didn’t, so I ended up doing it instead. So TOH was on stage one (which could accommodate, I think, about 1500 attendees), and training wheels Timmy was plonked on stage two, which was home to a mere 750.

I don’t remember having too many nerves about getting up on stage in front of 750 expectant Supernatural fans because when you’ve stood in front of 30 people in a yoga studio wearing only a pair of skimpy shorts that are clinging to you with sweat I think you’re pretty much good to go with anything. I do remember being a bit worried that I might balls one of the guests’ names up, or confuse Jared Padelecki with Jensen Ackles and introduce them as Jared Ackles and Jensen Padelecki, but fortunately that didn’t come to pass (there’s always this year, Asylum 16, March 7th-8th).

One of the lovely attendees posted this on Twitter. Honestly, give me a mic and I WILL RULE OVER ALL I SURVEY HASHTAG TIM.
I do distinctly remember getting up on stage the first time, though. It was about 9:15am on the first day and I didn’t really know what was expected of me, so I just grabbed a mic, jumped on stage and gave some spiel about not sitting in the public parts of the hotel, make sure you walk on the left in the corridors, don’t ask the guests for selfies, don’t ask inappropriate questions during the Q&As and really, please no trying to groping your favourite guest. Then I stayed on stage because, well, why not, and tried to be entertaining by stealing a trick from another Timmy and starting a game of Mallet’s Mallet.

So it was fun. I enjoyed bantering with the attendees who were universally lovely even if some of them were mad enough to want a selfie with me (that was allowed, nay ENCOURAGED), and although I didn’t get to chat to any of the guests they were all wonderful too, from Misha Collins threatening me with a sticky angel sword (no, really, that actually happened) to the moment on the final afternoon when Jared Padelecki jumped on stage, wrapped an arm around my shoulders and wouldn’t let go; honestly, trying to get out of that man’s grip was nigh on impossible. His arms are beefier than my thighs.

Me, TOH, my new best buddy Jared and the rest of the Supernatural crew.

As you can probably tell, my first taste of convention life was fun. So when they asked me back for another go I of course said yes.

Convention number 2 was called City of Heroes and was dedicated to the stars of Arrow, The Flash and Gotham, three more tellybox shows I adore. And another lovely time was had, even if I did balls Arrow star Stephen Amell’s name up when introducing him. Am-uhl. AM-UHL. Got it? Good.

Me, TOH and the the City of Heroes crew.
After that came Insurgence, which focused on The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, two shows I’ve never watched, but which have lovely stars. Best Mate Jo is forever mortified that I met her beloved Ian Somerhalder, and might I say if you ever get the chance to see Sebastian Roche at a convention do whatever you have to do to make sure you go, up to and including selling your grandmother. The man is a force of nature and wildly entertaining, so much so that his slot ran over by about 20 minutes on the first day because I couldn’t wrangle him off the stage.

Me gurning like a plonker, my other new best buddy Ian, TOH and the rest of the Insurgence crew.

Bonus Insurgence picture: me holding down a ceramic gnome while Sebastian Roche has his way with it.
Hosting conventions is a fun gig then, and it’s a shame I only get to do it a handful of times throughout the year, because quite frankly I’d do this shizzle full time if I could.

So what have we learnt then?

a) If you’re passionate about a TV show, you really should go to a convention. They're fun and you'll meet some lovely people.

b) I’m available for hosting duties if you want me. Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, you name it: I'm your man.

c) I’m an attentioning seeking whore (as if we were in any doubt).

See you at a con soon?


Inexplicable DeVice said...

"trying to get out of that man’s grip was nigh on impossible" - But why would you want to escape from Jared Padelecki? Why would anyone??

Years and years ago, I went to a Star Trek convention in Leicester. I don't remember who MCed it, but I can now imagine you doing it. And very well, at that!
Plus, it would have been much better if instead of being stuck in a lift with a Klingon (Captain Klaa/Todd Bryant) and a Borg (Hugh/Jonathan del Arco), I got stuck in a lift with a Klingon, a Borg, and you!

Tim said...

I was being professional - I was trying to get off the stage so he could do his talk!

You got stuck in a lift with those two?!

PurpleStar said...

I was at Insurgence 7 and you did a fab job and your totally right about Seb, at least he makes it interesting and unique. Really hope you'll be at Insurgence 8, I will try find you for a selfie. Im sure I've got a few photos of you on stage with Stefan the gnome.

Tim said...

Awwww, thank you! It was a lot of fun! I will indeed be at Insurgence 8 - but will Stefan the Gnome!? (or what's left of him)