CommuniCon Review
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CommuniCon Review

The “Alternative History of the German Invasion” episode was my favorite episode of the “Community’” Season 4 to date. Study room wars with Germans, the return of Chang stricken with “Changnesia”, and Dean Pelton in a barely there nurse’s outfit. What more could a fan ask for? It really doesn’t matter what the critics say, Community fans are enjoying every ounce of a season that may have never been if it were not for their diehard support. That support continued outside the confines of the digital world in the form of the first ever Community fan convention last month. I had the pleasure of attending this event and present to you my review of the glorious proceedings.

If you look to physics, “a force causes an object to undergo a change in its movement, direction or geometrical construction”. Beyond the physical world one could say there are even more powerful forces that drive our everyday pursuits. The spark of imagination and the will to propel that creativity beyond the confines of the human mind are intangible forces that can bring about change in all of us. Dan Harmon created “Community and in doing so rallied a fellowship of creators who in turn produced fantastic projects of their own through sheer inspiration and determination.

Feb 9th and 10th of 2013, Gillian Morshedi successfully pulled off the first ever convention of “Community fans celebrating the show and it’s following. During the convention Morshedi said she was inspired by the curators at PixelDrip Gallery to create CommuniCon. These curators brought together “Community” fan art from around the world via Kickstarter backing. Morshedi said that if they could pull it off so could she. And so this domino effect of inspiration has made its way to the feature in front of you. Pop! Pop!

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Gillian Morshedi

Gillian Morshedi

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I first heard about CommuniCon via the great social media platform Twitter and immediately knew I had to write about it. I had been watching “Community” from its inception. I too suffered through the mid-season campaign to save the show, the PSA-style CollegeHumor video of cast members, the flash mobs and the hashtags. Thankfully, the grassroots effort and social media onslaught of “Community” fans paid off and “Community” returned with a vengeance. So it was such a delight to see these very diehard fans commune together and reap the rewards of their dedication.

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Fan Art presented by Pixel Drip

Fan Art presented by Pixel Drip

Community Fan Art

Community Fan Art

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CommuniCon was held at the Los Angeles Community College Student Union over two days. The first treat of day one was the panel of writers, from seasons past and present. Moderated by Meg Masters of TV Line, the writers answered questions from the moderator as well as the fans. The panel was composed of Tim Saccardo, Chris McKenna, Megan Ganz, Andy Bobrow and Steve Basilone. One of the first subjects the writers responded to was how they deal with writing for season four without the input of Dan Harmon.

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Community Writers

Community Writers Andy Bobrow & Steve Basilone

Community Writer Tim Saccardo

Community Writer Tim Saccardo

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Andy Bobrow said “Probably the biggest difficulty of doing the show in season four without Dan was just that all of sudden like Megan (Ganz) said… none of us felt that free to just do something because we were so concerned about keeping the soul of it and in a way… that is the criticism I was anticipating the most and we were already starting to get…’it seems like they are trying to be old Community and we can’t, we can’t be old Community because old Community kept changing all the time…I remember sending Chris (McKenna) a lot of panicked text messages saying I think we’re fucking up the show!”

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Community Writers Chris McKenna & Megan Ganz

Community Writers Chris McKenna & Megan Ganz

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Meg Masters went on to ask “Was there an episode for each of you that you felt really passionately about or you pitched that was completely mixed or that you were so passionate about you fought for and ended up coming through?”

The fans found out from Steve Basilone that there was an episode that took TOO big of swing and was actually never produced. It was “too hot for TV…It was a dance off.” This revelation had audience members gasping. Can you imagine how crazy a dance episode that would have been?

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Meg Masters

Meg Masters

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Fans also learned about some additional unaired episode trivia from Chris McKenna. According to Chris “there was a hill we could not conquer in season 3 that was probably a terrible idea but because it was such a challenge we tried and felt that ‘Why can’t we break this?’ I think it’s impossible like a square in circle.” Megan Ganz quizzically remarked, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Chris uttered “Nicholas Cage” and there was a great roar in the crowd.

Megan added, “I think it was between Annie and Abed. Somebody had signed them up for a Nicholas Cage Appreciation class and then they find out 24 hrs before the exam and so they had to watch every single Nicholas Cage movie…and they started going insane. ” I’ve never heard such joyous laughter from a crowd before. What a revelation!

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Megan Ganz responding to panel questions.

Megan Ganz responding to panel questions.

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Fan questions garnered some juicy upcoming plot previews like the promise of a podcast episode and another Abed film. The writers also discussed sticking to the timeline of a school year per season (as Dan Harmon had always envisioned) and exploring life after college in Season 5. This news warmed the cockles of many a fan’s heart.

The depth of fan knowledge was clear from the start with questions like “in the third season Chang was evil in the good timeline so was Chang good in the bad timeline?” The short answer to this question was given by Megan, “yeah…the answer is that because the evil timeline splintered off from our own that, no, he got worse.” That one took a while to get my little head around. Brainteaser!

My favorite fan traveled all the way from Sweden and just happened to be the subtitler for “Community” on Swedish television. He commented that he was already a fan before he knew he would get the chance to translate. Megan responded “I would just create subtitles – Learn English, Learn English, Learn English” to which the fan retorted “that’s what I’m saying, if they don’t get it, Google it.” Priceless!

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Fans lining up for CommuniCon Trivia Contest

Fans lining up for CommuniCon Trivia Contest

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The writers were very generous with their time and stayed an extra HOUR to talk to fans and sign everything and anything, including Dean Pelton latex bald caps. Following the writer’s panel the fans faced off against the writers for an intense trivia contest created by Examiner.com and moderated by LA TV Insider Examiner, Danielle Turchiano. Suffice it to say the fans slaughtered the writers in the trivia contest. There were more questions that didn’t get asked because of time that may make it out to Internet land at some point.

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Trivia Contest Moderator Danielle Truchiano

Trivia Contest Moderator Danielle Turchiano

Struggling Trivia Fans Participants.

Struggling Trivia Fans Participants.

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Following the trivia contest fans were further entertained by the “No Small Parts” panel composed of no other than those actors who have “stood apart” from the Greendale Seven. This crew included, Brisco Diggs (Black Hitler), David Neher (Todd), Eric Charles Nielsen (Garrett Lambert), Danielle Kaplowitz (Vicki), and Charley Koontz (Fat Neil). Among a plethora of subjects the actors discussed the experience of getting cast for “Community”, their favorite episodes and morphed into their characters for a bit.

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Brisco Diggs

Brisco Diggs

Danielle Kaplowitz

Danielle Kaplowitz

David Neher

David Neher

Eric Nielson

Eric Nielson

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Of course, that moment everyone had been waiting for with baited breath had finally arrived. Dan Harmon was handed the microphone and almost instantly took over the room. After videoing the cheering crowd on his phone, Dan thanked the crowd and a fan yelled out “Thank YOU!” The cheeky Harmon immediately shouted “Hey screw you buddy!!! That was the last straw!” which set the tone for a very intimate and hilarious conversation on all things “Community”. Here of some of highlights of Harmon’s talk:

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Dan Harmon

Dan Harmon

Dan started off with a HUGE promise about future CommuniCons.

“When your convention sells out that early it mandates more and more conventions. I hope it was fun. I think they have to get bigger and bigger and so they stop being sold out. And there’s a point where they get smaller and smaller and we keep doing them after that too. I hope I don’t regret this but …I hope I don’t regret this but I’ll come to every one. I swear to God.”

On watching season 4

“I’m the last person who should be watching, the last person anyone wants to hear from… All I can do is fuck things up. Sorry. Pardon my French. The logical thing for me to do, for myself, for everybody, for all of you…What if I loved it? What if I hated it? …What could screw things up more then me. Hype enough about it. All this turmoil and confusion that you are all feeling. So that’s out of the way.”

And the great Harmon “bubble bath” soliloquy

“There are two kinds of people in this world. There are the people that will have think that there are two kinds of people in this world and there are the good people. There is no good. There is no evil. There is just a war going on between the people that want you to think there is a war going on and the people that know there doesn’t have to be one…There’s two facts about humanity. One is, and they are both undeniable. You are reminded of them every second, every breath you take you are reminded about these two facts about humanity that are inescapable. One is that we are separate. You can’t escape that. You will never be able to escape that. The other is we are absolutely together. And those two things are swirling and swirling and swirling around. And you have a choice with every breath you take and every sentence you make to celebrate one side or the other. You can celebrate the separation or you can celebrate the union. And you can forgive yourself for celebrating the separation constantly. That is what you are.

You wake up in bed not part of some kind of blob of humanity, not part of some big bag. You wake up John Smith or Kyle Davidson or not someone with a weird white name… even a woman. You might wake up a woman. You look down and you have nothing where your nipple is suppose to be. I don’t even know what to begin to tell you if that happens, just try to get through the day. You wake up as an individual but all of the moments that you have where that gets painful fall back on the fact that you are part of everyone around you.

It is all a big joke and the word community is a big joke. The show doesn’t have to be limited to three seasons or four seasons or six seasons or a hypothetical eighth seasons. You can have favorite episodes. You can have least favorite episodes. You can have favorite seasons. You can have areas that you divide it into. Just keep having these conventions. Just keep getting together. The reason why you’re here and not at a How I Met Your Mother convention…its not because I’m a genius and its not because Megan Ganz or Chris McKenna…its not because collectively we did anything. Its not because Joel McHale’s abs are awesome. Its not because Alison Brie’s cleavage is amazing. Its not because Yvette is adorable. Its not because Britta’s the worst…If you put these things all together, most importantly, its because everybody that worked on that show, they poured their hearts and souls into it like any two hundred people might choose to do. They all spontaneously chose to do it.

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Yvette Nicole Brown

Yvette Nicole Brown

Gillian Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs

And then this weird thing happened where we felt this tidal wave come back and in the absence of Nielson ratings and in the absence of critical praise we felt this tidal wave come back in the form of sixteen year old girls editing amazing YouTube videos and Tumblr blogs and pogs and animated ‘gifs’ and ‘Jifs’, sorry ‘Jifs’. I’m not dead yet! I know they are pronounced ‘jifs.’ YOU can make that choice. There are writers in this room. There are editors in this room. There are directors in this room. There are actors in this room. It sounds corny but figure out who you are as an individual… I think the most important thing you can know…I’m going to predict this about you as an individual as you try to figure out who you are, but go ahead and learn this on your own time. You want to be a part of all the other individuals. You don’t want to be alone.

There is a personality disorder for every single thing you can name under the sun. There are people who put entire jars of peanut butter up their butt. There are people who are sexually attracted to cats but there is no one who wants to be alone. Nobody. We take hardened criminals and put them in solitary confinement and they go insane. They start banging on the walls going ‘please let me out.” They want to be let out so they can stab someone with a toothbrush BUT they want to be let out. They want to be near somebody. I’m not saying that everyone is going to hug each other or get near each other but nobody wants to be alone. That’s a starting point. That means something. And that’s what this show is about. So when you are watching your favorite shows…some episodes suck. Some episodes are great… You like the show because the idea underneath it has something to do with…they crazy guy that’s telling you this, was saying this…that thought goes nowhere. It doesn’t matter. Let’s do some freestyle rapping.”

Harmon did do his share of rapping and also brought up 2 members of the Greendale Seven that showed up for the event, Gillian Jacobs (Britta) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley). Jacobs and Brown warmly shared their appreciation for the fans. Dan then proceeded to take questions from the audience, pacing around the room to give equal opportunity to those that wanted to speak.

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Gillian, Yvette, Dan

Gillian, Yvette, Dan

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Following the fan questions Mr. Harmon played judge, jury and executioner in the final event of the day, the costume contest. With the aid of his personal assistant and the audience, two winners were crowned and received Yahtzee board games. The winning costumes were team Jeff as the Dean and Chang as Jeff as The Dean AND the repairman from the A/C School initiation episode. Day one could not have had a sweeter ending.

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Costume Contest

Costume Contest

Costume Contest

Costume Contest

Day two’s events were much more subdued and included a viewing of the PixelDrip documentary Six Seasons and a Movie, a panel discussion from the PixelDrip staff, as well “My Whole Brain is Crying” fan testimonials. Audience members learned how the PixelDrip art show came together as well what ventures the gallery has planned in the future. It does not appear that there will be a second fan art show in the near future but never say never. Through the cheers, tears and laughter shared during the weekend it is quite evident that “Community” fans are committed to keeping the core values of the show alive for years to come, long after the show has completed its run. I raise a glass to the perpetuation of “Community” fandom and all that it stands for. Cheers, human beings!

Six Seasons and a Movie Documentary

YouTube Preview Image

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SO Note: Be sure to watch Community Thursday nights on NBC and don’t miss Dan Harmon’s Harmontown Podcast  taped at Nerdmelt on Mondays @8pm.

David Dean
David is the publisher of Serial Optimist and writer of things that hopefully make people smile. You can also find him on HelloGiggles and Thought Catalog. He is a comedy lover and pop culture obsessive who loves crossing the line, a good story and original beauty.
David Dean
David Dean
David Dean

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3 Comments

  1. Brisco Diggs says:

    I had the best time! Thanks so much for inviting me!

  2. Miguel Amodio says:

    BRISCO!

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