I would never normally describe myself as a fan – of anything. Not because I don’t like things; I like a lot of things. No, I don’t call myself a fan because I do not like a lot of what I have seen of fandom. Also, fans and fandom used to generate nuclear warfare levels of hate from the non-fan community (mundanes as they are sometimes called). Remember, I come from a point in history where the word cosplay didn’t exist and a con was where someone deceived you into giving them money (which is apparently what the word still means when you use it terms like San Diego Comic Con ????). Nowadays being a geek or a nerd is almost cool, contradiction in terms though that is. I never hid my enjoyment of nerdy things, I just wasn’t into the “scene”.
However, last Saturday my loving and wonderful daughter paid for me to go to a con event with some of the cast from Red Dwarf. People who know me well or have a passing acquaintance or have just seen me at a distance via satellite, will be able to tell you that the comedy sci-fi series Red Dwarf is probably my all-time favourite piece of television (along with the West Wing; how’s that for eclectic tastes?) Even so, I was a bit unsure, going to see some actors talk about the tv show they were in, with all the “fans”, of whom I am definitely not one.
It was a great experience from start to finish. I was certainly not the nerdiest guy in the room, but I was right up there. And the three performers, Craig Charles (who plays Lister), Norman Lovett (who played Holly) & Robert Llewellyn (who plays Kryten) were three of the friendliest, most charming and genuine people I’ve ever met involved with film and television. I got a photo taken with them and stood in line with close to a hundred other people for the opportunity. I watched them. They joked with fans; they were welcoming; they shook hands with everyone and created the impression that there was no where they would rather be right at that moment in the world than right there having their pictures taken with us. It was awesome.
When on stage, each man was funny and interactive with fans. There was absolutely none of the snobbery that I’ve seen and heard can poison a fan’s experience of of their fandom; something I think I’ve long feared. It’s such a common experience that the actor Alan Tudyk has even produced his own webseries, Con Man, about an actor going to cons to meet fans for a show he loathes. Not with these gentlemen. They made us feel like doing Red Dwarf was the best job they could imagine and that they were grateful to us for enjoying it with them.
So their welcoming pleasure at being with us has won me over; I have become a fan. After all these years of trying to be a non-fan nerd, I have finally committed, at least as far as Red Dwarf is concerned. It was a great day and I thank God for it, and my daughter, who put up the money. Best early birthday present ever!