Pensacon Day One: One man’s journey
By: G. Willis
I’d like to tell you the tale of a man we came to know as Ed.
Ed is a mighty man--bare of scalp and sharp of suit, who was given a mighty task. He was to host some of the biggest panels of the con, and it was not a responsibility he took lightly. However, this would not be an interesting tale if the mighty Ed faced no bumps along his path
And thus our story begins.
We entered the ballroom, which was arranged as you might expect--a small stage, some microphones, some speakers, and occasionally a few stools or chairs for the guests. The audience was seated in rows in a semi-circle around the stage.
The dull hum of the crowd quickly calmed as our hero took the stage.
Ed had a tough job. He came in eager and was entertaining, but struggled with his knowledge of the guests at times, occasionally eliciting a groan from an otherwise polite and respectful audience.
Our hero, forced to fill time while waiting for the panel guests, regaled us with a list of as many of the next day’s panels as he can. After 10 minutes of his assurances that “tomorrow is going to be great, you guys,” he finally announced John Morton (Dak. Luke Skywalker’s gunner on Hoth. Ep V The Empire Strikes Back), Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett, heretofore referred to as “Baby Fett.” I’m pretty sure he’s ok with it. Episode 2: Attack of the Clones) and Peter Mayhew (Wookiees are known to pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they’re not recognized for their astounding work.)
Everyone involved had a role to play and they played it well. John Morton had a very collegiate quality. He was good with the crowd and did a splendid job keeping the conversation moving. He paired this with a self awareness that came off as endearing. He repeatedly questioned why he was there, which he used for super fun time hilarity throughout the panel.
Baby Fett was energetic and good with the crowd. He was quick with a joke and a story, which led the audience from laughter to silence (and from silence to audible groans). He had a very “short-round” quality about him, practically hopping around repeating, “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?” He handled the crowd well, but there was a desperation to the things he said that kept getting funnier as the panel progressed.
Peter Mayhew’s arrival was met with a quiet respect from the crowd as he came in slowly and carefully using a walker, having partially recovered from a recent double knee replacement. His thoughts were the most informative of the three and he handled the crowd well. He was very quick with a joke and kept the audience laughing and interested throughout the panel.
The crowd hung on his every word as he told stories and answered questions about his experience with the films. He told a story about filming a scene for The Empire Strikes Back that involved stopping on the side of the road in Norway in the snow and a “too clean” Wookie that resulted, predictably, in a soggy Wookie.
We also discover that Peter Mayhew’s usual attire on the set of Return of the Jedi was a pink leotard, shorts and sunglasses, which is much funnier if you picture it worn over the Chewie costume.
Oh, Baby Fett, you bottomless well of unintentional comedy. How could I ever forget you? When asked about your most memorable autograph, you regaled us with a story. A story that takes place in a bathroom.
Our tale begins with young Mr. Fett pissing in a men’s room at a convention in Mexico. Our hero, having no knowledge of the language and in a strange convention center bathroom, is approached by a fan.
The fan asked for an autograph, to which Baby Fett replied, “You hold this, I’ll hold that.”
There’s a general confusion that stems from Baby Fett’s desperation mixed with his excitability, humor, and obvious love of entertaining that leaves him toeing the line between being funny and sad.
Speaking of sadness, our next stop was a quick run through a few of the celebrity rooms. (I should clarify--this setting was crowd dependent). The light attendance of the first day combined with travel issues that plagued the guests coming in for the Con led to an awkward room. What began as a fluorescent hell with a handful of people shamefully hiding their phones as they looked up IMDB pages, standing around a room full of actors doing award-worthy performances of people who wanted to be there, eventually turned into a lively room filled with autographs, pictures, and fantastic conversation by the beginning of the second day.
The artists we spoke with were wonderful. We spent a great deal of time speaking with Steve Scott, who I’ll be talking about more on my day 3 article, along with several other notable artists and guests over the weekend, all of which will be coming soon to the Geek-IO website.
We left the first day feeling slightly deflated, but the following morning would change our opinions from the moment we jumped from a moving car.
Seriously, it was just like Die Hard.