How to Ignite a Zombie Part 4
Performing is a little like masturbating in a porn theater and a little like a game of Russian Roulette: on the one hand, even if the crowd in the theater is pleased, you ultimately got yourself off. On the other, there’s always a chance you’re going to end up an accidental suicide. Either way, the wall’s getting splattered with something; you just never know if it’s your blood or your semen.
[ed. – I’m oddly disappointed that this mixed metaphor didn’t include the phrase “shooting blanks” somewhere. And yes, I know it’s a simile, so fuck off.]
I watched with trepidation as she clinically detached the microphone from the moustached man as if she were removing a parasite, her lithe fingers snagging it like forceps. In a moment, as soon as I finished daintily stepping down to the floor of the conference room, I’d be the next host for that symbiotic piece of equipment. I tried to wipe the sweat from my palms, my note cards still clutched in my left hand. Instantaneously, it was back.
SIDE NOTE: I suffer from incredible stage fright. It’s never stopped me from getting up on stage because I’d be a pussy if it did, but it’s there nonetheless. Shaking with excitement and sweating profusely is generally a good sign, since when I’m really nervous, I reach a zen-like state of calm that spells impending doom. In a way, I enjoy the fear. My heart races regardless of my level of activity, my mind bounces from topic to topic, and I find myself preparing more than my slacker self would normally. I always prefer to rant instead of give speeches, but when you’re sticking to visuals, preparation is necessary.
“Don’t put it too high,” I told the wrangler. “I speak reasonably loudly.”
“The mic isn’t for the audience,” Andrew Hyde announced. I’m still not sure he knows my name isn’t Ace Harmon. “It’s for the live stream and the cameras, so the presenters should speak up.”
I could hear the realization come from a few people in the audience.
“Don’t worry,” I said at a moderate level, “I’m loud as fuck anyway.” I didn’t swear during my presentation, and as we were warned to try not to swear, I figured I’d get it out of the way early to try and calm myself down. It worked.
After a very brief introduction, the lights went down, the applause started and it began. I glanced at my note cards, took a deep breath, popped a bullet in the chamber and began to stroke it as best I could.
Wednesday marked the wildly successful Ignite Boulder 3. I’ve yet to discern any real purpose besides gathering the tech community and entertaining the masses, but if that’s all it set out to do, it did it wildly and successfully.
The beauty of this Ignite Boulder was that the event finally hit its stride. The presentations were upbeat and funny, and there didn’t seem to be a stinker in the group. Plus there were no surprise sales pitches bringing down the house.
I was happy to be going second, as I hate leading off. There’s no more difficult job than warming up the audience before a show. If I had thought about it, I would’ve known the Deschutes beer had warmed up the audience long before Tim Poindexter‘s excellent presentation on the history of the moustache did.
[ed. – Highlight of the presentation was the explanation of the crustache and the molestache. Seriously awesome stuff.]
Overall, I felt I did alright. I’m always my hardest critic (except for maybe Hulse), but when I was following up the innovative history of the moustache with the well worn topic of zombies, I think I was bound to have harsher critics than many of the other presentations. After all, Jo White‘s boys told me how much they love zombie video games like Left4Dead, and if the elementary and middle school kids know their shit, then I had better be damn good.
Ef rocking the house.
Photo by Yann Ropars.
The Pug of War, who rocked Ignite with his “How to Sing Your Way Out of Danger” presentation, really knew what he was doing up there. In addition to being the first presentation to go scriptless (as Tim, Brandon White, and I all relied on notes), Ef was extremely natural and collected up there. I told him before Ignite that he’d sing me under the table, and lo he did. He even went off and wrote an entry about what he learned at Ignite.
The Media Mum closed out the first half with a fantastic presentation on boobs in the media (video available via the link). It was probably the best combination of entertainment and interesting information in the entire night. One random comment from the peanut gallery about pictures of toddlers breast feeding got the place rolling.
The second half picked right up where the first left off. Jen Mayer gave a very impassioned and interesting talk on home-grown vegetables and localized agriculture called “The World is Burning but I Still Have My Yogurt.” Brandon Whalen (pictures right basking in glory; photo by Stepan Mazurov) spent nearly his full five minutes rapping a song he wrote the weekend before. Tara Anderson of Lijit blew the room’s minds with “How to Piss People Off and Lose Friends in Boulder.”
The highlight of the night for me was Vikas Reddy‘s “Awkward Rules for Awkward Situations.” (The Awkward Rules website is goddamn awesome, so if you’re going to click one link here, make it that one. The audience was laughing so hard we couldn’t even hear what he was saying. His slides were just so perfect that it was insane.
“So let me leave you with this last bit of advice,” I announced, my final slide flickering on the white screen behind me. “An open mind isn’t always the best option.”
I took off like a shot for my seat, ready to hang my head in shame. I had flubbed a few lines, forgotten a slide despite my note, had a couple of jokes go by too quietly, and slapped the mic with my hand during one bit. Oh shit, I realized halfway across the room, I still have the mic on!
“Sorry about that,” I said to the mic wrangler.
“It’s alright,” she told me, “it was really funny.”
Great, I thought, the funniest thing about my presentation was walking away with the mic still on.
“The whole thing,” she continued, “was really good.”
“Thank you,” I replied with surprise and relief. I looked at the giant screen as she freed me from the grip of the mic.
Thank god, I thought, the Ignite Boulder logo shining down, allowing me to bask in its off-white background, it’s splooge. I got the splooge.