Comic Con: Name Dropping Part II

By Phil Plait | July 30, 2009 7:30 am

I have one more name dropping episode for you. Even if you don’t like such blatant things, this is a good story.

Note: I have no pictures of this event. It all happened in the green room, where pictures are forbidden. And even if I had taken any, it would be impolite and impolitic to post them anyway.

So on Saturday of Comic Con I was setting up to moderate the Mythbusters panel. We had successfully navigated the route from the hotel to the convention center green room; that’s a large room reserved for panelists to give them some down time before and after panels and let them get away from the mob (and at 120,000+ attendees, I do mean mob).

The green room is not for any one panel, so other stars and such wandered in and out. John Barrowman and Naoko Mori were there, and I was working up the courage to go over and say hello. But first I had business to do with the Mythbusters, squaring away last minute details.

That only took a few minutes, and when it was done I was sitting around joking and laughing with some Discovery Channel folks, and also lamenting that I had done nearly, but not quite everything I planned on at Comic Con: I was still missing getting Anna Torv’s autograph for The Little Astronomer (which, if you read the previous post, you know I was able to eventually achieve), and seeing David Tennant.

I love love love David Tennant. I’ll miss him greatly when he leaves Doctor Who, as I consider his portrayal the best of all of them. My daughter loves him too, and last year drew a picture of him as the Doctor. As I said in Part I, she’s actually a good artist. Last year at Comic Con I was able to give Steven Moffat a copy of her drawing, which he enjoyed. I was hoping to repeat the effort with Tennant, but had completely blown the chance to meet him at an earlier press conference.

And just as I said this — and I mean that literally, the words had barely escaped my lips — when someone said, "Turn around."

I did. Standing there in the green room, not ten feet away, was Russell Davies, the man who rebooted Doctor Who, and standing next to him was David Tennant.

Holly. Flurking. Schmidt.

After the shock cleared, a bunch of stuff flew through my head. One was that a few seconds before I saw Tennant standing there, I heard the sounds of dozens of women screaming and had ignored it; just outside the room were the lines to get into the panels, and I assumed some random star had walked by. I was right, but it wasn’t random, it was the freaking Doctor himself.

After a moment, Tennant went over to talk to John Barrowman. Stirring myself, I took the opportunity to approach Davies. I introduced myself, thanking him for rebooting the series, and showed him the drawing TLA did. He loved it, which was cool, and immediately said, "Well, we have to get David to sign this for her!"

Man, I love Russell Davies. That was totally awesome of him.

So he flags Tennant, and we walk over. I introduce myself again, saying I love his work and think he’s the best. He demures, thanking me — he must get this literally dozens of times a day, but is ever so polite about it, and is quite the gentleman. I showed him the drawing, which he gushed over, and agreed gallantly to sign it.

I had two copies, so I gave him one, keeping the signed one for TLA. I thanked him again, and let him go to his personal business*.

When I got home, I showed the drawing with Tennant’s signature to TLA, and she wigged out in an appropriate manner. We’ll be getting that drawing framed for sure, along with the one from Anna Torv, too.

I have a lot of memories from Comic Con, and while meeting David Tennant will always remain one of those Top Moments, seeing my daughter’s face when I showed her the drawing will easily be Number 1.

* A note to fan boys and girls like myself: the best thing you can do when approaching a celeb like this is introduce yourself calmly, tell them you just wanted to say how much you like their work, and then leave them be. That way, you make personal contact, and they get to move on with their lives as well as talk to the gazillion other people waiting to make personal contact to them. If you linger, or talk too much, or try to tell them how you liked this scene or that one, the celeb can get that trapped look in their eye where they try desperately to find an exit of some sort. Get in, do your stuff, and get out. They will not remember you the next day, or even the next minute, but it’s unreasonable to expect them to. They see lots of fans every day, and while I know you are special — we all are — after Fan Number 879,342 they start to blur together for even the most mentally acute celebrity. We’ve all seen the one gushing fan who doesn’t seem to get when to leave, and you don’t want to be that person, do you? I’ve been that person, and believe me, an hour later you want to stick your head in a microwave out of embarrassment.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (44)

  1. SionH

    I was fortunate enough to see David Tennant AND Patrick Stewart in Hamlet last year and it was sooo good!

    Thanks for the fanboy advice – it’s exactly what I tried to do at TAM, but you wouldn’t shut up. In the end I had to walk away with you still blathering on, bless.

    Celebs, tch!

  2. rob

    what? you expect us to believe that you just said hi? and got an autograph? yeah, yeah. he whisked you away to the end of the universe where you battled daleks, cybermen and intelligent rocks. then he brought you back to the convention just seconds before you left and you took a picture of yourself entering the T.A.R.D.I.S, right?

    way to go Phil! woot!

  3. Phil’s right about how to approach celebs. I always feel cornered when some peasant who isn’t married to a Skepchick just starts blathering at me.


    I’m going to have at least two Major Fanboy Opportunities at DragonCon, with both Patrick Stewart and Leonard Nimoy being there. I’ll have to pre-wet myself before walking up to them.

  4. Yeah that’s a pretty good one. I’m way too shy. Mostly scared I’m giving off the groupie vibe (even at TAM I had a hard time let alone if it was Dr. frigging Who I was trying to get a picture with).

  5. BA:

    I have a lot of memories from Comic Con, and while meeting David Tennant will always remain one of those Top Moments, seeing my daughter’s face when I showed her the drawing will easily be Number 1.

    As the father of 4, all under the age of 13, I can certainly understand those feelings.

  6. SionH,

    holy crap that was funny.

  7. Chris G

    Phil, YOU are a Good Dad™.

    Well done!

  8. numsix

    So, can you post the signed picture? That would be cool.

  9. That was pretty cool of the Doctor / Hamlet!

  10. Viewer 3

    Pictures or it didn’t happen.

  11. dhtroy

    That’s a great Phil, I’m sure your daughter must think the world of you.

  12. Good postscript, Phil. I’ll -TRY- to remember that while I’m SQUEEing all over you at D*C!
    And getting you to sign a few books… :;^)

  13. I’ll agree with you on this one. Meeting the mythbusters would have been cool, but meeting David Tennant would have been awesome. I am confident enough in my sexuality to admit to a serious man crush on the guy. Actually is it a bit sad to admit that just reading your two recent comic con posts got me stupidly excited, but then I like to live vicariously.

  14. Annie

    Wonderful that you were able to get that drawing signed for your daughter. David is always so sweet and kind to his fans, even though it has got to be absolutely overwhelming for him. Great advice too.

  15. Andy Beaton

    Does that kind of interaction count for assessing Degrees of Separation? I met the BA once, and this would put me three degrees from – Dalek Sec!

  16. wright

    Excellent advice about celebs, Phil. Humans are social; most of us enjoy connecting and engaging with others. Knowing the limits of that is important.

    Glad you had such an opportunity, especially since it adds to the bond between you and the LA. I have a 6 year-old nephew, and being able to share even a small part of his joys in life adds immeasurably to mine.

  17. Kevin

    I agree with your ending note.

    Many years ago (this was after TJ Hooker) William Shatner was making an appearance at a local “Autorama” event, and people were lined up around the entire inside periphery of the auditorium to get a chance to meet him. When I finally got up to the front, I just said “thank you for coming sir.” He was probably expecting me to say something about Trek, but I actually asked him what his experience was like working with Rod Serling. I scored a hit I think, because he held onto my hand and talked to me for nearly 10 minutes about working with the legendary figure. I then thanked him again, and introduced the girls with me and asked if I could take their photo with him, which he agreed to.

    I figured probably everyone there was going to ask about Star Trek, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the typical fanboy.

  18. Awww but I know some celebs that’ll go out to dinner with a bunch of geeky kids from his old school 😉

    Oh, and I’m soooooo jealous!

  19. I bet your stomach was a wibbly wobbly kind of thing.
    Actually Tom Baker was a better Doctor.

  20. Joe Meils

    Now, Phil… you carefully wrote this entry so that we wouldn’t see Tennant’s photo until we scrolled down a bit, didn’t you? (WTG, working in a bit of theatricality into the blog page!)

  21. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, the dopamine rush of connection from those we admire, so fine,,,

    I never actually met/talked with Jerry Garcia, but I did get to jam with many musicians affiliated with him, like Donny Baldwin and Craig Chaquico (Starship). On the other hand, even though I’m a fan of musicians great and small, I just really prefer playing music with them, rather than talking. When talking with the object of our fantasies, there is always the desire to not look like an idiot, which usually ends up making us look idiotic. I met and talked with David Nelson after New Riders jammed with a local band I hung out with in LA at an after jam party. The only thing David was interested in talking about was “Where’s the coke???”
    OK! so! He was just your usual fraked up human with w/a talent. That’s often the way of life, that those obsessive enough to develop their talent are also obsessive about things that aren’t particularly good for them.

    AH, obsession, what a fine madness,,,sometimes,,,

    but David Tennant,,,WOO-HOO!!!
    GAry 7

  22. Michelle

    That is awesome! I’m so glad you finally got to meet him. (And I agree, he’s the best Doctor and will be missed greatly.)
    I think it speaks volumes about you as a father that meeting DT came in behind gifting your daughter with the signed picture. You rock.
    Thanks for sharing the moment with those of us who could not be there.

  23. Kevin (#17) Surprising a celeb with an unexpected line is a good way to disarm them as well. When Alan Tudyk shook my hand, I said — knowing everyone there would ask him about Dollhouse and Firefly — "You had me at Steve the Pirate". He had a shocked look on his face for just a fraction of a second, then broke out in a broad grin. I surprised him, and that’s a good way to get a real reaction.

  24. Ginger Yellow

    “A note to fan boys and girls like myself: the best thing you can do when approaching a celeb like this is introduce yourself calmly, tell them you just wanted to say how much you like their work, and then leave them be. That way, you make personal contact, and they get to move on with their lives as well as talk to the gazillion other people waiting to make personal contact to them. If you linger, or talk too much, or try to tell them how you liked this scene or that one, the celeb can get that trapped look in their eye where they try desperately to find an exit of some sort.”

    Whatever you do, do not engage them in a long, drunken conversation about the terrible state of Horizon, as I did with Brian Cox a few months back. Sorry, Brian.

  25. Aline

    And yet, you remain a skeptic. Huh.

  26. Holly. Flurking-Schmidt.

    I wish I’d’ve known she would be there, I went to school with her.


    Quite a long time ago.. back when every medium sized city had ‘cons’, I got artist Kelly Freas’ autograph on a copy of Analog with his art on the cover (only about 10^5?). As he was signing, he also explained the logic behind the design (involved laser propulsion).
    At the same ‘con’, James Doohan and I chatted about black holes as he signed my copy of Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise.
    About the only person I was totally stunned by, and who didn’t have a slight chat was Robert A. Heinlein, who signed the book after blood donations from fans. (Don’t recall how much later he passed away, but he didn’t look too healthy.. which, considering he was dismissed from the Navy for TB, I supposed could have been the case)


  27. evinfuilt

    LOL, I never made the Steve the Pirate connection till now. I doubt I’ll be able to watch Firefly the same again. Guess he really did clean up well.

  28. yumenoko

    *I am not jealous*
    *I am not jealous*
    *I am not jealous*

    Well, okay, maybe a little.

  29. Kristin C

    I’ll try to remember your advice if/when I get the chance to fan-girl you at TAM-London, Phil. Then again, I’m not much of a talker, so I most often miss my chance alltogether at talking to celebs. 😐

  30. I’m friends with a number of people in England who knew Tennant before he hit it big, and every single one of them goes on and on about what a nice guy he is. They were all ecstatic when he landed the role of Doctor Who.

  31. I wasn’t in the least bit jealous yesterday when I read your post because I’ve met Alan Tudyk and Joss Whedon a couple of times. They are quite lovely. But today, I find I am envious! I just started watching the new Doctor Who recently (what took me so long?!?!?) and David Tennant is awesome as The Doctor.

  32. Naomi

    Your daughter must have FLIPPED XD Nice.

    I don’t get starstruck, and get confused by those who do. They’re just PEOPLE, guys. People with really cool jobs that they happen to be skilled at, but still just people. Be respectful.

    (I’m a fan of Australian comedy – I’ve seen WAY too many people throw themselves at comedians shrieking, or going “OMG OMG HE TOUCHED MY HAND!!1!”, or making gross invasions of privacy, and it just makes me want to headdesk.)

  33. Hollie

    I am so jealous…but atleast I can re-live the meeting through your words. You know so many of us wish they could have been there, and yet though there were many, only few got to meet him. Congratulations and I am so jealous.

  34. Man, the Bad Astronomer and The Tenth Doctor, together, in one room – fanboy senses tingling :)

    Man, did I just say that? I am so lame… but seriously, it’s so cool you got to meet him, but don’t think it’s not cool that HE got to meet YOU!

  35. PG

    I am jealous! I do get starstruck, but usually feel embarrassed about it later on as you describe.

    When I met Brent Spiner at D*C 2007, I talked about his character Bob from Night Court. He seemed a little surprised, since I think most people just wanted to talk to Data.

  36. Radwaste

    Phil’s tips work with people in other fields. I have a buddy at work who caddies at Augusta National, and there is a way to be yourself and let the absurdly famous relax, regardless of their profession.

    Traci Lords will be at DragonCon. Any tips on how to speak to her?

  37. A Nonny Moose

    Oh thank FSM. I’m not the only intelligent person in this world who has succumbed to “fan boi squee” in the presence of greatness. If I could, I would apologize to Kevin Nash now.

    And Kevin#17: That’s a nice story about Shatner. If I met him today, I’d love to talk to him about Boston Legal more than Trek.

  38. Brent Spiner on Night Court? (clickety, click) Oh. I remember that character. Whaddya know, it _is_ him.

  39. I am appropriately jealous! I would have been a blathering mess I am sure, had I been in your shoes. Sigh…….

  40. So… if I ever meet the BA:
    Note to self… No drooling, fainting or yelling, “MY GOD… IT’s HIM, IT’S REALLY HIM>>>”

  41. Chris P

    Phil, it was an absolute pleasure meeting you at Con (I was Lonestar/Indy). I sincerely hope I did not take up too much of your time, or detract you from meeting the Rifftrax cast. It’s not every day you get to meet your idols, and the geeky fanboy got the better of me.

    Again, thank you for being so gracious. I greatly enjoyed the Mythbusters panel, as the moderator was teh awesome! I hope you (and we) are lucky enough to be back next year!

    Oh, and I hope that being placed as close as you were to the L. Ron Hubbard/Scientology booth did not diminish from your experience at Con. 😉

  42. If I were able to meet the RiffTrax(MST3k) guys and David Tennant in one event I think I’d probably flip out. I’d likely turn into a babbling idiot. Well Ok, maybe I have better self control than that but DAMN. Quick, go play the lottery, because you’re lucky! 😀

    I’ve met a couple of ‘semi’ famous people. I know they get hounded night and day by die hard fans. So I’m happy with a handshake, perhaps an autograph and knowing that I am not one of “those” fans. :)

  43. mike B

    I wonder how Tennant handles all the fandom? Geez, I’m jealous! Lucky, lucky Phil.

  44. Chris P (#41) It was fun to meet you too (and your wife (?)). Isn’t it cool to meet folks like that? And then a minute after you left I got to chat with the Rifftrax/MST3K guys and Veronica Belmont! I love events like that.


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