MaxFunCon 2010 Recap
Published: 05/10/2010 01:00 p.m.
I just got back from the Maximum Fun Convocation, aka MaxFunCon 2010 in Lake Arrowhead California. The event was put on by MaximumFun.org and was lead by Jesse Thorn. Here is my recap and personal experience.
FridayAfter flying into Onterio, I met up with my carpooling group and we ascended the mountain to Lake Arrowhead. We dropped our bags in our rooms and made our way to the registration and opening mixer. Immediately we were introducing ourselves to people in line around us, which really set the tone for the openness of the weekend.
After registering (and totally being cut in line by Scott Simpson) we did a mix and mingle questionnaire where you find people who can answer yes to different questions like loves ice cream, doesn't have an iPhone, and is wearing yellow. Only one guy had yellow, so I'm sure he met quite a few people. All of people I met were interesting, funny, and much different from myself.
After that, we had our opening Malort benediction from John Hodgman and were entertained by the brilliant sketch comedy of Elephant Larry and Kasper Hauser, followed by the luscious sounds of Jonathan Coulton. These sketch guys were insanely funny. I have not laughed that hard in a long time. My favorite sketch was the fake motivational speaker from Kasper Hauser. It was spot on and perfectly rode the edge of funny and overly absurd.
Following that was the smore cookout. I was near the front of the line walking up the hill and was able to get one of the early smores. The only downside to the smores was trying to roast marshmallows, hold a beer, and then assemble everything without breaking apart the graham and dropping the chocolate. Next time I'll try using the buddy system. There was more mixing and mingling, though I fancied the view from one of the replica (un)covered wagons. The wagon soon filled up with interesting people and I got to exchange stories, ideas, and make jokes with some great guys and gals.
Since I'd been up since 5am Houston time, I just crashed at midnight, already getting excited about Saturday.
SaturdaySaturday kicked off with breakfast, and I got to see the beautiful view of Lake Arrowhead that I seemed to have overlooked the day before. At breakfast, there were again more interesting people and delicious blueberry pancakes. I also think I had about 10 strips of bacon.
Saturday morning started with a session. I chose Dressing for Gentleman. Will Boehlke led the session, and gave some great advice for how to build a great wardrobe and up you game in small doses. I had no idea what a jacket could do for an outfit, but it will be one of my next big purchases. Jesse sat in the back and was able to handle my questions about blue jeans, since Will is not a fan of them. Overall I was very satisfied with the session, although now I need to start saving some clothing money.
Following that was an amazing performance from Andrew WK who basically just ruffed on stories from his past. I'm sure everything that seemed so awkward and odd was planned precisely, and the audience was kept on the edge of the awkward feeling though out the act.
Next was lunch. Again, I met interesting people and shared stories and ate some fantastic food and chocolate chip cookies. After lunch was a presentation of sorts from Jad Abumrad of Radio Lab. Jad spoke on sound and how it can be used in terms of music and speech. Then, he took us on a journey of the in-between sounds and how they lie on the spectrum and what they are capable of making us think and feel. It was one of those things you've probably never thought about, but when presented, you realize that it can really have an impact on how messages are conveyed using sound.
Next we moved on to the next session, which for me was creative group work with Kasper Hauser. I don't personally do improv or sketch comedy and was hoping the session wouldn't revolve around those things. It didn't, and was wonderfully constructed to teach us about the balance of saying yes and no to ideas through some group activities. My favorite was called Objection, where you discuss a random topic and must object to each other's statements based on content, delivery, or sometimes nonsense. We also discussed how posture, eye contact, and pace of speech can affect your status in a discussion. I'll have to try these out in the office.
In the late afternoon was a live taping of the Monsters of podcasting. This was what I was most excited about. I'm a huge You Look Nice Today fan, since half the stuff they talk about like post-grad Banana Republic shopping and fake discussions with imaginary robbers are things I think about, too. I got a front row seat (see my hands in the bottom left), and can say it was one of their best episodes. We finally got a definition for a Lonely Sandwich. After YLNT was Jordan, Jesse, Go!, which was laugh-out-loud funny. They did their own version of RiffTrax, which was hilarious.
Dinner was just like all of the other meals, delicious. I met more interesting people (including Rian Johnson who led the film school class I couldn't get into) and some guys more my age who shared my passion for much of the weekend's content.
The last bit of entertainment for the night was a line-up of four hilarious comedians. Jimmy Pardo lead off and was the emcee for most of the night. I'd never heard him before, but they guy was hilarious. Following Jimmy was Maria Bamford who has a brilliant style of her own. Next in the act was Al Madrigal who discussed, among other things, his son's 'Cholo soccer coach' as well as some pinata-related humor. Last but not least was Marc Maron of the WTF podcast. I loved Marc's style and his 20 minute set seemed to wonderfully stretch to about 45 minutes. The only downside of watching four brilliant comedians in a row is that your throat will be horse from laughter for the rest of the night.
Last for the night was a theme party. The Country Estate Party was a ton of fun. There were some amazing dresses (see Noe Montes's photos) and Dr. Cocktail made some pretty stiff drinks, and after a few of those I think everybody was a bit friendlier with each other.After the party was the after party, and the parts I can remember (like seeing Don't Stop Believing at 3am) were pretty fun. Hopeful the other parts were, too.
SundayThe final day was a bit slower than the rest. I went for a brief walk around parts of Lake Arrowhead to try to take in some of the beauty of our venue. Breakfast was a bit slower and I spent most of the morning sitting in the main area reading.
Our last bit of entertainment was a live show of Never Not Funny. These guys were brilliant, and their mix of telling wife stories, debating music lyrics, and an unknowable amount of distracting side jokes was very entertaining. I was also reminded that I need to buy garbage bags.
Finally, it was time for a close. We saluted each other as a group, and that concluded MaxFunCon 2010. My carpool had to catch some early flights, so we headed back down the mountain and made our way back home.
After-ThoughtsMaxFunCon was more like an internet fantasy camp for me. I was mostly drawn to MFC because of You Look Nice Today and the strong lineup of activity sessions.
I was excited to possibly meet and talk with the makers of YLNT. Despite my best efforts, I was immediately star struck by these guys (and Hodgman). I image from their perspective I was stalker-ish and mumbly and awkward. Looking back, I keep running through all the dumb things I said, but alas, what's done is done. Fortunately for me, those guys were all very polite and I was very happy to be able to talk with them.
I was super excited about coming back next year while at the Con. However, in thinking about all of the cool stuff that we did together there, I am more motivated to try and spread some of those ideas to other people in other groups. The biggest takeaway from MFC is that the people are so open, kind, and interesting. The attendees ranged from Internet and Comedy All-Stars to internet and comedy wannabes, all united to celebrate the things they love. The group was composed of a great mix of ages, genders, styles, and attitudes, but positivity was the overriding factor. It's that bit that I can hopefully spread to some of the other groups I am involved in.
So I'll have to see for next year. I love the people and I really like the size, so if the costs and/or the size don't go up, I'll be there next year for sure. Time will tell. In the mean time I will be doing my best to spread the positive culture of MFC to some of the other groups where I am more involved.