Bruce Campbell – Breaking the Convention MouldOctober 10, 2014
Chairs and banquet tables are long forgotten when Bruce Campbell takes the stage at any convention.
In most panels at cons there are many things that stay constant: the long table, a grouping of chairs, water, and microphones. The panellists come out, wave, say hi, answer some questions, and make us all clap. Sometimes they will even “shock” everyone by leaving the safety of the banquet table and walk down to the audience to become “real” with them. This style of convention panel has been a staple for most con’s throughout the world, and will be one of the biggest attractions that people with wait in line for. Hall H at San Diego Comic Con will see people line up for over 24 hours just so they can sit 20 rows away from Chris Pine as he sits behind a long table with a microphone in front of his face.
Bruce Campbell is an actor we all know and love from the scary yet campy Evil Dead movies, and the ever popular Burn Notice. He is a sarcastic, witty, comedic type that sometimes gets a laugh at his own or even his audiences expense. Bruce Campbell also does what no one else does at a con: he throws away the tables and chairs and makes his audience the panel guests.
Bruce will run his panel as if he is a game show host, and all the audience are the contestants. He will comb the crowd for people with interesting or awkward talents and bring them up to stage to showcase them to the crowd. As most game shows have prizes, this one does too. The winner of any one of Bruce’s talent shows gets a cash prize… of five whole dollars! While all of this chaos is going on, Bruce will also take the time to crack jokes with his fans with him onstage and to the crowd as well to bring a personal touch to everyone’s experience at that show.
I have been to two of Bruce’s panels where he ran the show this way. The first time was at Ottawa Comic Con, and the second was more recent at Toronto’s Fan Expo. Each show was completely different with different games, jokes, questions and interesting people that Bruce got to bring up. The Fan Expo panel was especially different because he brought his good friend Ted Raimi up onstage with him as a sidekick to his shenanigans. With Ted and Bruce together they were unstoppable with their combined wit and dry humour that the audience ate up for the entire time.
The question that should be asked now is why does no one else attempt to make more out of the time they are given on that stage? Most panelists are given about 30 minutes to an hour to spend with their fans, and most of that time they choose to spend it blockaded behind a wall of tables and microphones. This time should be spent the way Bruce does, with the fans that have travelled far and wide to see you speak about your passions.
Some newer to the con circuit have taken some notes from Bruce’s style as of late.
Dave Bautista decided to sit at the edge of the stage right in front of everyone to be closer to the audience, and Matt Smith with Arthur Darvill at their panel made it a point to move the round table in front of them away to the side so they could see who they were talking to. Even newer to the con circuit, Stephen Amell will do whatever it takes to make the fans feel special, because to him the fans are the most important part of a convention.
These gestures are what will make fans of actor and actresses stay fans for years to come. The way they interact and treat their fans will be the reason you continue to see 24 hour line-ups for Hall H. So to Bruce Campbell, this con-goer says thank you for shaking things up a little and breaking that convention mould and to those who’ve never seen one of his panels before, make sure not to miss it again; you won’t be disappointed.