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So, Comic-Con happened — and I got to go!

Well, Comic-Con 2009 is officially over, and what a great time it was! There’s something very special about seeing so many geeks in one place, and this year was no exception. The convention hall was filled to the brim with various nerd treasures, from comic books to elaborate figurines, and even Star Trek perfume!

But of course, the real draw for me  (and Deep Ape!) were the various Rifftrax events that were going on over the weekend. Click past the break to read about it!

On Friday afternoon, Mike, Kevin, and Bill did a limited signing that required the fans to participate in a lottery for a ticket to the event. It wasn’t terribly complicated — we simply gathered at 10:30AM near the booth and pulled tickets out of a bag. If the ticket had a ladybug stamp on it, you were good to go. If you didn’t, you could get back in line and try again. Thankfully, there were about 250 tickets allotted and not much competition present, so on my third try I was “ladybugged” and ready for the afternoon!

Later that day, we were in line again waiting for the signing to begin. It’s always cool to hang out and connect with other fans, and this year was particularly great for me. Anyone who read my recap of last year’s Rifftrax Live show would have seen a picture of me getting my hair felt up by “Torgo” in front of the Balboa Theater. This Torgo was back again this year, but with an extra surprise: He was handing out business cards this year that offered his various “services” — and my picture was on his card! Suffice it to say, I was very flattered and got a real kick out of it!

Finally, the riffers arrived, along with Bridget Jones-Nelson and the Nelsons’ sons. The guys were amicable, as always, and very enthusiastic to meet everybody. I had all three of them sign a Rifftrax Twilight poster, and I also had Kevin sign his book, A Year at the Movies, (about which he complimented me for my good taste) and Mike signed his book, Mind Over Matters.  Despite the fact that I had the pleasure of meeting them all last year, I’m still blown away by  how amazing they all are. The guys are so down-to-earth, and you really get the sense that they’re just regular guys that you could hang out with in real life. What was particularly amusing was that Adam West was signing autographs in the booth right next to theirs, and his line was nowhere near as long as ours. Take that, Batman!

Later that evening, we had the Rifftrax panel and a live riffing of a short to look forward to. Since this year didn’t have quite the grandeur that last year’s 20th anniversary panel had, it wasn’t as much of a challenge to get into the room. Whereas last year the panel was preceded by an Adult Swim and Robot Chicken panel, as well as a Dr. Horrible panel afterward, this year didn’t have any particularly epic panels for us to compete with for time. In fact, I think the following panel was showing Sci-Fi — I’m sorry, SyFy — original TV-movies. We arrived about an hour-and-a-half before the event was set to start, and that was good enough to get into the preceding panel and find a reasonably good seat for the Rifftrax panel.

When the room went dark and the audience quieted, we were treated to an absolutely brilliant montage featuring some of the boys’ greatest riffs from their movies. Anyone sitting in the room that hadn’t heard of Rifftrax before was sure to become a fan as they watched Jaws break through a boat and hear Mike yell “Oh yeah!” like the Kool-Aid man, or heard the trio sing “Yakety Sax” as Edward Cullen ran Bella up a hill with his super speed. Credit must be given to the amazing Rifftrax employee Erik (aka Torgospizza) for putting it together, because it was his pitch-perfect editing combined with their hysterical riffs that had the audience amped up for Mike, Kevin, and Bill. As soon as they walked on stage, they were greeted with a standing ovation.

Once they sat down, they got right to the live short, which was the epically funny Shake Hands With Danger.  There were a few tweaks in the jokes, but for the most part it was the same brilliant performance that can be seen on the Rifftrax Shorts, Vol. 1 DVD. It’s been said time and time again, but watching a funny riff alone pales in comparison to watching it in a room filled with eager fans. Everyone was laughing and having a great time, and the feeling was truly infectious. Things really went into high gear once the more horrific injuries started showing up in the film. People laughed as one inept worker crumpled to the ground with shrapnel in his chest, and they all screamed when another ground off some of his fingers. But the best reaction by far was when the audience watched a worker contemplate greasing up a connection with his hand, rather than using a tool. I swear, you could feel the entire room start to squirm with nervous energy, because after the previous violence they had witnessed, everyone knew this was going to be good. And horrible. But mostly funny as hell. So, when a vicious bee attack ultimately left this poor doofus without a hand, well, the audience went nuts. Thankfully, we had Mike, Kevin, and Bill to aid us through the entire process! A great time was had by all.

Usually, after presenting a piece, most panels open up a Q&A with the fans, but this was not the case for the riffers. Instead, they wanted our help deciding what their next movie should be. Each person who went up to the microphone had 30 seconds to pitch a suggestion to the boys, with moderator Veronica Belmont keeping time. Really good suggestions would mean a Legend Films DVD as a prize. There were a variety of films suggested. One fan encouraged them to do Speed Racer, which in turn prompted Mike to say, “Sir, with all due respect, go to Hell.” Another suggested The Duchess with Kiera Knightly, which got an inordinate amount of laughter from Kevin and Mike — explained when Bill sheepishly responded, “A good friend of mine wrote that script!” One of the best pitches was for a film called Stalking Santa, which was supposedly about a man trying to prove that Santa Claus existed, and it was narrated by William Shatner. Kevin really seemed to perk up at that, so I suspect he’ll be watching that film at some point regardless! Watchmen was also suggested, but Mike seemed very concerned about having to riff “the blue dangly,” as he put it. Ultimately, after a strong pitch and a very visceral reaction from Veronica, the winner was Dragon Wars, a crappy sci-fi film from 2007, and perfect fodder for the boys.

None of them had seen the film, so at the second signing on Saturday afternoon they expressed a mixture of excitement and trepidation regarding the film. Mike asked worriedly if it was long, while Kevin wanted to know if it had excessive nudity in it — simply because that stuff is so difficult to riff. I think they’ll have a good time with it, and we’re sure to get an excellent Rifftrax out of the deal. It will definitely be one that I pick up!

Well, that’s it for the Rifftrax events, and I’m very glad that I went to Comic-Con to see them. For me, getting to see these guys perform live, and getting to chat with them for even a brief moment, is definitely worth the travel time and expense. I got to go shopping, make new friends, and see some grade-A riffing. What more could a girl want? I can’t get enough of these guys, and judging by the people I met that weekend, I’m not alone in that! So thank you, Mike, Kevin, and Bill, for hanging out with us and making us laugh. We fans really appreciate it when you make yourselves available to us, and this weekend was no exception. I definitely look forward to seeing what Rifftrax has in store for the future, and I can’t wait for the Plan 9 show in theaters around the country on August 20th. But one thing is for sure: As long as Rifftrax has a booth at Comic-Con, I will definitely be there. It’s just too good of a time to pass up!


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