Popular LA-based live theater show and internationally-beloved podcast, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, is partnering with fellow podcast Welcome To Night Vale for a live show at San Diego Comic-Con this year on Saturday, July 26 at 8PM at the Spreckels Theatre. Although The Thrilling Adventure Hour attended in 2013 with four live shows, this is Night Vale’s first year at the convention, and the first year the two groups will be performing together at Comic-Con.
We spoke with Ben Acker, co-creator of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, about how they fit into the Comic-Con experience, what attendees can expect from them at this year’s offsite event and other appearances at the convention (which includes some surprises!), and much more.
You attended San Diego Comic-Con for the first time last year. What was that experience like, and how did it differ from your normal shows in Los Angeles?
Oh man, it was a amazing! Our show is ordinarily no small thing – a group of actors and musicians that fill a stage. Put that inside the carnival of SDCC and we felt like a compact unit. Our group is full of charismatic and charming show people, we have our share of outsized personalities, but the floor of the convention center is full of costumed players. It’s one mind-boggling spectacle after another.
And that’s just getting to the booth. Last year we had our first run of the TAH Graphic Novel sneak-previewing at the con. It couldn’t have been more gratifying releasing it into the wild there amongst the wildest fans of every conceivable thing and shoulder to shoulder with the gang with whom we’ve been doing the show for years and years. There’s nothing like it. It was special.
The shows we did down there? Forget it. It’s special whenever we get to do the show. When we take the show out of town, it’s a school field trip, it’s summer camp. The show is full of comicon favorites, and we had special guests that were there for the con as well – Adam Savage, Patrick Warburton, Misha Collins, Richard Speight Jr to name a few. It will never be clear to me if the audience vibes more from the performers or if the reverse is true. It’s lovely, all the way around.
How did the partnership with Welcome To Night Vale come about?
Not to be hipsters about it, but we were WTNV fans before they became the behemothy juggernaut they are today. One of ours (Mark Gagliardi) even went to school with one of theirs (Cecil Baldwin). They came out to one of our Brooklyn shows (again, before you knew about them). And we came to find out (before you did) that not only are the fantastic writers and performers, but they’re a bunch of really swell people. Our sensibilities overlap in just enough places that the idea of crossing over our shows was an irresistible challenge to our two pairs of writerbrains. So we played a game of creativity chicken and nobody backed down. The end result is so much fun. You should really see it.
Will this crossover show be similar to the one from Emerald City Comicon?
It will be similar but not identical. The four of us have honed, rewritten, and otherwise improved upon the original script.
You performed four shows last year. How did you reach the decision to focus on the one crossover show instead for this year?
I wish there were a more satisfying answer to this question than “we just did.” You know? It just felt like the right thing to do to make one tremendous “you-had-to-be-there” extravaganza.
You’d done a sort of VIP ticket package last year, that got you entrance into the afterparty. Are you doing that again this year? Or offering fans anything additional?
There will be an After Party at the theatre for VIP ticket tiers. VIPs will receive up front seating, a ticket to the After Party following the show and an exclusive TAH/WTNV cross-over poster. There’s also a Super VIP ticket level which includes private box seats, After Party tickets, a signed TAH/WTNV cross-over poster, “WorkJuice” coffee from our friends at Caffe Vita Roasting Co. and a ticket for a photo with the cast on stage.
Beyond that, there is a Special Guest tier with great seats in rows 6-10 and a poster as well as (4) additional ticket tiers to ensure folks can attend on any budget.
Why do you think you connect so well with the Comic-Con crowd?
Do not tell anyone, but we are them and they are us. Blacker and I are fans. Huge fans. Of so many things. Comics, Buffy, Dr. Who. BSG. Breaking Bad. Fargo. Deadwood. So much more. I mean, have you seen Penny Dreadful? Come on! So good. I changed my mind, you can tell anyone you like.
Is there anything else you can say about your appearances at Comic-Con this year? I think you mentioned you’ll be on another panel this year?
TAH will be hosting a panel at 8:30PM on Friday, July 25 in Room 8. Special guests include Molly Quinn (Castle), Janet Varney (Legend of Korra), Paul & Storm and Autumn Reeser (The O.C., Entourage). Be sure to attend for exclusive TAH announcements.
We’re also planning several other appearances throughout the weekend with our partners – on and off the floor. Details will be announced on thrillingadventurehour.com soon.
Comic-Con is always unique because it attracts such a wide amount of people from all over the world. What would you tell someone who was on the fence about attending one of your shows who has never gone before?
Welcome! I hope you speak English! Not for political reasons or anything, just – our show is in English. We make our show as accessible as can be. If you care to make your presence known via tweet or tumblr, our wonderful and caring fans will take care of you. If you are of a voracious spirit, check out some podcasts before you come – all free on and off iTunes. Should I go more basic than that? The show is a staged production in the style of old time radio. We have genre stories of all kinds and the show is funny. The actors are great. The guest actors are people you want to see from things you already have seen and really, really like. Our band – The Andy Paley Orchestra – is outstanding. They will stick our composer Andy Paley’s songs in your head where they will live forever. After seeing The Thrilling Adventure Hour live, your life will never be the same. In a good way! Step right up!
Anything else you think we should know?
Yes! Check out our Eisner-nominated Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel – it’s a beautiful hardcover anthology with ten stories of ten different TAH worlds by ten of the toppest notchest artists around. We were published by Boom/Archaia and they only make gorgeous books. We are proud as hell of it. In addition to being just great, the book has been our excuse to travel our show to some amazing comic book conventions. You mentioned Emerald City. Let me also mention how well we were received at C2E2, one hell of a con and NYCC last year. We love taking the show all over to wherever our audience is hiding. Or living, I suppose. The graphic novel was the result of a kickstarter campaign that also funded a Behind-The-Scenes webseries that is, even now, being released on the Nerdist Youtube channel. If you want to know just how charming is our ensemble when they are not performing, check out the TAH BTS webseries. Follow us on all social media to find out about all we do, other fruits of the kickstarter, as well as future plans that are, for now, top secret, but soon, will be revealed and will blow your damn mind.
Are you excited about The Thrilling Adventure Hour and Welcome To Night Vale show? Let us know in the comments.