I’m not as young as I used to be.
Friday started off seemingly fine. I woke up a bit early but wasn’t suffering any kind of hangover symptoms (with rum and cokes as my drink of choice, this has been a regular occurrence as I imagine the caffeine just wakes me up early). So while the rest of my room slept, I recognized this as a prime opportunity to sneak in a shower. Then I went back to bed.
Waking up again sucked.
The hangover hit with a headache and passing bouts of nausea. Roommate Jasmine helped me out with a bit of Advil and I definitely started drinking all of the water I SHOULD had consumed Thursday night. Fortunately, that was as bad as it got, though, and the room collectively started making its way to the day’s first community activity: bottomless mimosas at a place called the Pink Elephant. It was more or less on the way to the center of our afternoon tour of IGN so we collectively chose to walk over there, arriving just after to allotted 11am start time.
Good news: there was a great turnout.
Bad news: the establishment was not expecting 80-100 people to randomly stumble upon it and only had a couple of servers on hand.
This can sometimes feel like the unspoken slogan of these community events: “way more people showed up than expected.” An almost identical scenario happened at the first Kinda Funny Live as a swarm of newly formed friendships descended upon another poor understaffed brunch establishment on the day of the show. They had the room for us but only one waitress on hand so they only took us in in groups of ten to make it slightly more manageable. So I think this will reinforce that we should probably try to better coordinate with the venues in advance next year.
Anyway, I said hello to some of the new faces like Mario (NotBros) Piacquadio before a small group of us decided to bounce to another location. On our way to The Creamery - a small cafe - we came across a separate group that had ventured out for an alternative. The Creamery proved an ideal location for our small contingent as we ordered and paid up front individually and then grabbed a few tables in their spacious outdoor covered seating. Brunch was great and I had a crepe for the first time in probably fifteen years. They also gave us a plate of cookies for the table - which we rejected at first because we hadn’t ordered them - before being told they were on the house. The place immediately shot to the top of a list for future event planning consideration.
While we ate, other groups assembled as places like the 21st Amendment and The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen (as well as the original Pink Elephant location) to spend the time prior to the IGN tour. Because our group was so large, we actually all received emails in the morning notifying us that the group had been split up into Group A - which would attend the regularly scheduled 1pm tour - and Group B - which was bumped back to 2pm. Nearly our entire room was in Group B so we hung out at the Creamery until a little past 1pm. We also inherited friend and Kinda Funny Extra Life team co-captain Lauren Wilson, who had just arrived from Los Angeles. (Shameless plug for Lauren and Fiona - the other co-captain: Join the Kinda Funny Extra Life team. www.kindafunny.com/extralife)
As we arrived at the IGN offices near 1:30pm, there were already some friendly faces in line, but we continued down the street to the 21st Amendment to see the other friends who had convened over there. As always, hugs and smiles ran amuck as many of us continued to embrace the short times we all get to spend with one another in person. Eventually, we headed back to IGN and got in line for the tour, continuing to mingle (or in my case, mostly attempted to quietly recover my voice following Thursday night’s libations and bar-yelling).
Once the tour started, we were split (as usual for a group of this size) into four smaller segments that would effectively tour the office in a round. Kiersten Slader - the extraordinary PR, Marketing, and Events Manager for IGN who helps coordinate these tours (even as she is also coordinating their upcoming E3 logistics) - lead my group. During the tour, Brandon asked me how many times I’ve been through these at this point and I think it was my fifth (Jared Petty kindly gave Sean Pitts and I a tour around Kinda Funny Live 1, PSX 2015, KFL2, IGN 20th Anniversary House Party, and now, KFL3) and while some of it is old hat to me, the context has certainly changed. Following the 20th Anniversary tour, Andrew Goldfarb kindly invited me to stick around and work with Jonathon Dornbush to write and get my first freelance news article published on the site. Over the past two years and change, the people who I look up to at the site have become increasingly familiar and its always a delightful pleasure when the remember me or take the time to reach out and say hi. I would hope anyone with the same aspirations of potentially working there someday would be as fortunate.
As always, the tour ended with all of the groups combining in the lunch room for a big group Q&A with the staff. The obvious highlight of this particular tour was the present of Sean Pitts, Barrett Courtney, and Joshua Mobley on the panel: three members of the Kinda Funny community who have gone from attending tours like today’s to working at the site themselves. Following the Q&A, we repositioned for a big group photo and even sang Happy Birthday to Mike Aransky (who has appeared with Kinda Funny on occasion and has been a personal inspiration with his Classic Aransky YouTube channel and Classic Creators Facebook group).
I said hi to a few more IGN team members and thanked them for their time before heading out to the Grilled Cheese place to meet up with a bunch of the community members again. More conversations and impromptu meetings took place before a group of us headed around the corner to become the living embodiment of the Switch announcement commercial and play Mario Kart in the park. A handful of us brought out our Switches for some racing. In the first wave of races, MarioNotBros and Xyger ended up tying in the point count, with me bring in third place and a couple other friends in the rear. Our second wave was sidelined by connection errors as more people joined. But I WAS winning when I got disconnected in our third race (and somehow my ghost even managed to put up a pretty solid fight against everyone else).
With the connection issues persisting, we started parting ways and headed back to the hotel, grabbing dinner en route as we probably wouldn’t be going elsewhere before the trip back to the Foundry for a Grimecraft performance. I definitely took it way easier on the drinking tonight and made sure to have plenty of water. I got to meet a ton of new faces tonight and even some blasts from the past, including a woman named Tanya who I had forgotten I had checked on at last year’s event when her partner (Mike, I think) had sort of disappeared on her. It was nothing nefarious and the two were absolutely fine but we joked about it a bit over the weekend last year. She remembered and popped over to say hi and introduce me to her friend Maria. It was a small moment but a somewhat incredible one about a small connection I made last year that I had nearly forgotten all about.
I also got to meet Adam and Laura, a couple from San Diego who just got married last week and were celebrating their honeymoon - in part - by attending Kinda Funny Live. Laura was a big fan of my pixel glasses so I dug into my bag and asked her favorite color of the spares I had within, ultimately giving her a pink pair as a wedding gift. Seriously, some of these stories just keep a smile in my heart (even if my innate stoicism might not always show it on my face).
As midnight approached, a bunch of us started heading over to the U.S. premiere of HEEL KICK!, a special event set up with Greg, who co-produced the film. He, and three members of the team were on hand for the event and delivered their own Q&A after the screening. The film was a fun mockumentary about a couple of very amateur indie wrestlers learning that their passion might be a lot more work than they’re prepared for. The Kinda Funny audience was, of course, the best kind of audience for such a film, with incredibly vocal responses from uproarious laughter to groans upon seeing the characters take the intentionally painful bad bumps. It’s not too often you get to attend a premiere like this and it was such a fun crowd and atmosphere, even if it was super late and we all recognized that we have a big day tomorrow.
I joked with Greg as we left the theatre that I had to come back and write about what we all did today and he mentioned in kind that he has to go home and edit the announcement video that will go out on social media for the benefit of everyone who won’t be in attendance. So hopefully, he’s wrapping up right about now as well.
Tomorrow should be something special.
P.S. If you haven’t been following along with @Pixelbrave’s daily video recaps, I highly recommend you do. Just like last year, it has been a pleasure sharing a room with him and watching him edit his videos as I throw together my written recaps. And god bless him, his videos take way more time to put together so he’s usually scraping by on the bare minimum sleep. So definitely check them out.