Jack O'Brien segued his way into my office. And, to be clear, I don't mean that he stood in the hallway outside of it and said, "Did you see last night's episode of The Office? Hey, speaking of offices: Dan-O, may I step inside and bend your ear a moment?" I mean that he rode in on the Segway that he demanded when he signed the contract naming him Editor-in-Chief of Cracked.com.
I probably could have saved us a lot of time if I'd just written "segway," but, well, here we are.
"Daniel," he said, from atop his metal, rolling, objectively ridiculous steed, "get that stapler out of your mouth; I've got work for you to do. And even if I didn't, just ... just don't do things like that."
"Well, if this work is anything like all of the other work you give me, I look forward to ... not ... This work, when you give it to me, will be just like all the other ... things you ... assign, that ... Dammit. What I'm trying to say is 'something something, I never do the work you tell me to do, something something, and I won't do this work either,' but like in a clever way. And then I'd think of some stupid pun based on your name, I don't know. I can't think of anything right now, I'm off my game, I think I stapled a Kit Kat to my uvula."
"Great, fine, then I'll do the talking. Dan: I want you to go to Comikaze."
"What? Kamikaze? Are you trying to kill me by ... getting me to kill myself? Was that how you were going to finally get rid of me? That was your plan? That's a bad plan, Jacker Barrel."
"You misheard me," Jack said. "I didn't say 'kamikaze,' I said 'Comikaze.'"
"Ja- They sound exactly the fucking same. When did I become the one of us that makes sense?"
"In this one recurring nightmare I have -- but we're not in that right now, this is real life. The word I'm using is a portmanteau of 'Comic' and 'kamikaze.' It's something I want you to attend, it's a comic book convention here in Los Angel-"
I simultaneously vomited and dove out my window.
"See? I told you this wasn't one of my nightmares," Jack said to no one in particular, segging his way to the elevator.
"Daniel," Jack said, towering above me. "Get up."
"Holy Shit, Jack Costeau'Brien, how did you even find me?"
"What? You jumped out of your window, hit the ground and passed out on impact. Did you hallucinate a better escape than that?"
"No," I said with a sigh. "Just a much dumber boss. Reality's a drag."
"Preaching to the choir," Jack said. "But, back to business. I need you to attend Comikaze at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It's a comics, comedy, geek and all around pop culture convention. It's-"
"I'm going to make this whole conversation go a lot faster," I said, spitting out glass and bits of Kit Kat. "No. No, I'm not going, yes, you can fire me, and no, that won't stop me from showing up at the office every day. I hate comic conventions. Hate, with a capital middle finger. Do you remember what happened the last time you sent me to a comic book convention?" Jack squinted and stared off thoughtfully.
A few years ago, Cracked.com sent me to the San Diego Comic-Con, and my experience was less than ideal. In short, I could barely move (because that's what happens when you cram 200,000 people and a giant Lego Transformer into the same space), I got caught in the middle of a tedious nerd war (because that's what happens when you stick all of the world's most passionate fans in the same place), and I got sick (because that's what happens when you force someone to breathe the same air as a few hundred thousand other people for whom hygiene is not a priority). In even shorter, fuuuuuuuck Comic-Con. Yes. I'll say it again. Fuuuuuu-
"-uuuuuck Comic-Con, Jax Shepard. I'm not going back."
"This is nothing like Comic-Con, Dan. It's not as overrun by bullshit, it's not as crowded and no one from Twilight will be there."
"... I'm listening."
"Just read this," Jack said, tossing me a Comikaze program. "I don't have time to explain why you'll enjoy this convention or why you are required as an employee of Cracked.com to attend. I have more important things to do."
"What kind of things? Hustling?"
"Everyday, Boy. Everyday."
I flipped through the pages and realized with horror that, unfortunately, Jack was right. There are a bunch of reasons that I, specifically, will have a blast at this freaking convention.
#3. I Can Impress My Past Self
While Comic-Con is really good when it comes to providing up-to-date information on new stuff, like what the next Transformers movie will be about (robots, mostly), and the status of Firefly (still canceled), Comikaze has managed to pull together a lot of panels and events that hit me right where it counts: the part of my brain dedicated to Pop Culture Nostalgia. (Doctors tell me I have an enlarged that part instead of the part that manages empathy.)
If you're anything like me, your first order of business when we invent time travel will be to go back in time, visit your 12-year-old self and brag about all of the awesome stuff you end up doing. As of right now, the only things I do in life are related to the Internet, so if I travel back to brag to my past self, all he'll say is, "What's the Internet? [and] I can't believe you thought this was a good use of time travel. You're such a loser." And then I'd officially lose the last person in my middle school who could honestly still claim "At least I think Dan O'Brien's cool."
However, all of that changes if I go to Comikaze. Even though my current accomplishments, (making internet videos, having dental insurance, becoming what I like to consider 'the Michael Jordan of eating exotic sausages'), will be meaningless to Past Daniel, my new, Comikaze-related accomplishments will blow his tiny mind. Comikaze has a bunch of panels and celebrity guests, all of whom speak directly to the constantly growing nostalgia part of my brain (the doctors say that if I don't get it treated, it will take over other parts of my brain and I'll lose the ability to smell within four months). Elvira? Stan Lee? Richard "The Original Motherfucking Shaft" Roundtree? The creator of Invader Zim? The cast of All That reuniting for the first time? Sound Effects Guy From Police Academy!? Past Daniel would lose his shit to meet one of those folks, and they're all going to be there.
This. Reruns of this movie playing on The WB in 1995 convinced me that Pogs were out, and that meeting girls needed to be my new priority.
There's even an old-school NES game tournament, which is amazing for me, because I've found every game published after Comix Zone to be alienating and confusing.
"Wait, so let me get this straight: He's a Vector ... man? I'm sorry, I need to start over."
Comikaze will transport me to a different time, and a different world, a time when life made sense. I can re-enter that world, except now I have money, and I am (slightly) taller and can drink while in that world. When this convention's over, I will have a brand new list of accomplishments to impress Past Daniel:
-"I asked Stan Lee if Ice Man was ever tempted to make his dick bigger using ice powers, even if that meant it might shatter if he bashed it against something hard!"
-"I asked All That's Kel Mitchell to read my screenplay, Good Burger 2: Goodletric Burgaloo, and I asked every female cast member to read my marriage proposal (same title)!"
-"I asked Stan Lee if The Hulk's dick would also get green and super giant, and if he was ever tempted to take advantage of that!"
-"I asked Shaft if people ever refer to him as 'The Black Dan O'Brien'!"
"I entered a beatboxing competition and got the ever-loving shit kicked out of me by Michael Winslow!"
-"I asked Stan Lee if Spider-Man's dick could also shoot web, like, if he really tried!"
"Could you just assume that I haven't thought as much about ANY superhero dicks as you have?"
-"I tried to convince Elvira to have sex with me and she got really mad!"
-"I entered an NES tournament and got the ever-loving shit kicked out of me by a fifth grader! (Some things never change.)"
-"I asked Stan Lee if Jarvis' dick ... just, I asked him 'What's it like, just tell me.' Out of curiosity!"
But hypothetically convincing a 12-year-old comic book-reader from the past that I'm cool isn't the only good thing about Comikaze, and I'm not just talking about trolling for nerd ass ...
#2. Yes I Am
Say what you want about comic book/pop culture conventions, but they're the only place I can dress up as Spider-Man and hit on some woman who is also dressed as Spider-Man and everyone's cool with it. It's literally the only context where that's both encouraged and even possible.
"So, I was thinking maybe later we could hang out and make all of my dreams come true."
But still, that's not the only cool thing about Comikaze ...
#1. I Apparently Already Signed Up to Do a Bunch of Stuff For It
This was probably the most surprising thing about Comikaze. Well, surprising is kind of an exaggeration, I actually tend to do a lot of things that I don't ever remember doing. I blacked out one night and, when I woke up, I found that I'd smashed my television to pieces, but I'd also ordered thirty-eight-hundred tacos, so it still ended up being a pretty good morning. Even though it's not totally out of the ordinary for me to sign myself up for things while blacked out, I still had to do a double-take when I opened up the program to find this:
... and then again when I flipped the page and found this:
... and you can imagine that I was even more shocked when I came across this:
A discussion about sketch comedy with some really cool people, a live episode of After Hours, and a new sketch show featuring Cracked regulars and All That's Lisa Foiles. So this should be fun. (Not "eating my weight in tacos" fun, but fun, nonetheless.) I'm looking forward to moderating that sketch comedy panel, because I feel like I've got a lot of really interesting questions regarding the current comedy landscape ("Do you guys think Spider-man could shoot web out of his dick?"), and I'm looking forward to appearing on the After Hours panel, because we'll finally be able to argue about pop culture in front of people who will argue right back, (which actually might end up being a nightmare?). I'm also looking forward to our live show, considering the fact that our last show involved time travel, testicles, prostitutes, and an aggressive gangster rap about robots, which means this show could also be about absofreakinglutely anything we want, (we haven't written it yet and I've never actually met half of the people with whom I'll be sharing the stage).
So I'll be at Comikaze Expo, November 5th and 6th and, if you're in Los Angeles, you should come too, if for no other reason than to see how many uniquely humiliating ways Elvira can shut down the advances of a 20-something in a Spider-Man T-shirt. Come for the live show, stay for the inevitable restraining order.