The Kings of Con Talk Their New Series, Convention Shenanigans, and Getting Muddy with Jared and Jensen
I had the pleasure of chatting with Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict (aka The Kings of Con) earlier today about their web series in the making and how the support of their SPN Family is making it happen.
Lynn: So I just have to ask: Texas Tough Mudder? You guys, Jensen and Jared, Osric, Jason Manns. How was it?
Richard: Actually it was really challenging, but it was a blast!
Lynn: (skeptical) Was it? It’s not exactly my version of fun, gotta say. But you all enjoyed it?
Richard: Well, you know, all of us are sports enthusiasts and played various sports and athletics growing up, and even though seemingly we’re like different dudes in that regard, we’re not.
Lynn: Not surprising, just still having a hard time labelling it as ‘fun’…. I really love that all the guys wore Kings of Con shirts!
Rich: The funny thing is, that was Jensen’s idea. He named the team ‘Kings of Con’. You have to name your team, so I was like, oh awesome! So we had the shirts on.
Lynn: That doesn’t surprise me at all – you guys have all supported and contributed to our books, and everyone in this cast is so supportive of everyone else’s projects.
Rich: Yeah, it really is a supportive group. And like you said, you’ve experienced it firsthand, but it really is out of the ordinary.
Lynn: I don’t think it’s ever going to happen quite like this again, not with cast or fans, because it’s both.
Rich and Rob: Yeah, yeah. It’s amazing.
Lynn: So after you guys all finished it, did you all have a Tough Mudder party?
Rich: Well, we had all traveled to Texas so we were all staying there for the weekend. And it was the night of the fight, so we all went to Jensen’s and watched the fight there.
Lynn: Because, not enough adrenaline flowing for one day…
Rich: (laughing) We all could have gone to sleep too, we were exhausted, but no, we stayed up to watch the fight.
[This cast, man. Has there ever been a cast so close? I’m thinking no. I love that they all went from scrambling through the mud together to all gathering at Jensen’s to watch a fight and hang out some more. Hopefully after some showers.]
Lynn: Somebody tell me that Osric had his go pro camera actually turned on and there will be some footage. Please?
Rich: It was actually Rob’s go pro camera, and Jensen had one too.
Lynn: Two cameras?? OMG really??
Rob: Yeah, and then Os had it on his head. It lasted about two hours. The race took us three hours, but the battery ran out about halfway through. But yes, we do have footage. I haven’t gotten into it yet, but I do have two very dirty cameras at home and I’m eager to see the footage.
Lynn: (laughing) Not as eager as fandom is!
[A moment of silence as Lynn tries not to get lost in imagining who’s IN the footage…]
Rich and Rob: *ahem*
Lynn: Um, so Osric was wearing one and Jensen was wearing one?
Rich: Actually Jared wore the second camera mostly.
[Another moment of silence as Lynn gets lost again imagining the same thing…]
Rich: (continuing anyway) And at some points I wore it, we kinda passed it around, but Jared wore it a lot and Osric wore it too.
Lynn: OMG I can’t wait to see that, it’s gonna be awesome!
Rob: Or completely unseeable…
Lynn: Like just solid brown bouncing up and down?
Lynn: In a way, Kings of Con is sort of similar to Fangasm. We wanted to write a behind the scenes story too, and make fun of our own crazy misadventures in fandom and at cons. What was Creation’s reaction when you said you wanted to do this?
Rich: Well we didn’t say it….
Rich: A little back story here. Rob and I shot the ten minute teaser with the intention of going out and selling the show, not putting it online or on Indiegogo with that footage. We didn’t go into it with this intention. We were shooting the scenes, like [the teaser] in the green room and things like that – we were shooting it separate from the Creation world. And then we realized we had to go crowd funding, so then we dove into it very quickly. We launched it very quickly and we knew at that time that we had to sit down with Creation and have a conversation with them. And they’ve been incredibly supportive, especially considering we didn’t come to them first. Their one beef was, why didn’t you come to us first? But we know these people very well, we’ve been working with them for years and years now. They know who we are and what we do and why we do it, so they weren’t concerned about our motivation. But they were just surprised, if we had a long drawn out plan that we hadn’t gone to them. But essentially we didn’t — we had to jump in the water and then figure out how to build a boat. We were under a very strange and unexpected time constraint. So we went back and cleared it with them and they were very gracious about it and continue to be.
Lynn: Well, it will be good for the conventions too.
Rich: Yeah, exactly.
Lynn: So just as you were about to launch this, Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk launched their Indiegogo for ‘Con Man.’ Which I think is what you were originally going to call this? What was that like?
Rich: It was originally called ‘Con Men’. Speaking in the actual time when it happened, we were both really bummed.
Lynn: I bet.
Rich: But now when I look back on it, it was probably the greatest thing to happen to this project because it forced us to dive into it. I mean, Rob and I would probably still be strategizing how to get a good meeting whereas now we’re actually getting meetings and press. We have funds for the show, we have the support of a lot of actors and peers who didn’t even know we were doing it, and they’re loving it and wanting to be involved. And we’ve had great articles in TV Guide, a Nerdist piece, and it’s been super encouraging. We’re so much farther down the road of getting this made than we would have been if Alan and Nathan hadn’t launched their show. That’s the irony.
Lynn: Kinda like what happened with our book. It seemed like the end of the world when our first deal fell through, but it turned out to be the best thing. It let us write the ‘real story’ of fandom and Supernatural, the way we wanted to. And it made for a lot of good drama in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls!
Rich: That’s right, so you know what I’m talking about.
Lynn: Congrats on passing 200K on Indiegogo. I saw Matt Cohen’s naked run as promised. Tell me he actually had something on!
Rich: No, he was completely naked.
Rich: But we did it before kids came home from school, and it was a quiet street that had a sort of start and stop and we made sure that all the kids were in school.
Lynn: Well, good…
Rich: And then we told that little fucker to run like the wind!
Lynn: (laughing) He is such a good sport.
Rich: He is a good sport. And I’ve never seen Rob happier.
Lynn: I’ve rarely seen fandom happier. Maybe if you hadn’t blurred some things out…
Rich: You know, we hadn’t really thought about it, and we got into it and the lawyer was like, you can’t do that! We didn’t totally think things through…
Lynn: Yes, I think full frontal vids might be problematic…
Rob: Oh man…
Lynn: So when did you first come up with the idea for this series? Neither of you has ever mentioned it.
Rich: Actually Rob and I have been thinking about this for a long time and we never talked about it to anybody except the people who were involved. For the very reason I think that we’ve been in this business long enough to know that a lot of people talk about a lot of shit.
Lynn: That’s true.
Rich: And then sometimes it just doesn’t exist.
[At this point, Richard had to leave to go pick up his kids from school. Awww.]
Rob: So maybe a year and a half ago, I remember we had the idea before Toronto 2013. I had written an initial sort of pilot episode and we read it a couple of days before my stroke. And then it had to be put on hold, but it was very much something we wanted to do even back then. And then once I recovered we were like, let’s continue to do this. So we just started shooting stuff. The first thing we shot was at DC Con last year, in the green room [for the teaser]. And then we started getting together and shooting stuff at cons and at home. We put a lot into it, you know, and literally we had just finished editing it and that’s when we found out about ‘Con Man’.
Lynn: Oh dear. So what started you thinking about doing this?
Rob: It came out of – Rich and I spend so much time together, and things would happen and we’d keep saying to each other backstage, ‘that’s a show!’ Like when I dialed 911 trying to get Richard’s room…
[I can’t even think about this story without laughing. Richard was in room 911 at the hotel at NJCon. Rob wanted to call Rich’s room, so he dialed 9-1-1. The person who answered was (predictably) all business. Unfortunately Rob, who is far too accustomed to Richard’s pranks, assumed this was one. Uh oh. Let’s just say the 911 operator was less than amused. By the time Rob ran down to Rich’s room freaking out and saying “I messed up!”, the police weren’t far behind. You can’t make this shit up – no wonder they had to make a show about it!]
Rob: I was like, that’s an episode of a show! Or the airplane story from Australia…
Lynn: Oh god YES! That HAS to be an episode!
[Please find a video of Richard telling this story, complete with usually fearful flyer Richard sound asleep through the worst turbulence ever, and Misha Collins in the bathroom when the turbulence hit and ending up covered in his own pee. I’m laughing again just thinking about it]
Rob: Absolutely, both of those are episodes. So in the show, it will start with that, sort of in the non- fictional world, we start with that germination of that idea and go from there.
Lynn: Richard wrote a chapter in our last book, Fan Phenomena Supernatural, about his experience at conventions and with karaoke. So many funny things happen there too. Will there be a karaoke episode?
Rob: Our series takes place behind the scenes, so you’ll see a little of what’s happening onstage, and then you’ll see the bumbling idiots backstage, and what we’re doing before we go on or after we get off. There is one episode that’s the Halloween episode, which takes place around karaoke, where we’re all dressed up and it’s very much kind of an homage to the movie Birdman. So the play is karaoke onstage and the drama is happening backstage.
Lynn: Because god knows, the drama does happen backstage…
Rob: Completely. We keep telling reporters that we talk to, saying that the craziest people at these conventions are the actors themselves.
Lynn: It’s interesting, I remember at the very early cons, when you and Richard first started doing panels together, in the beginning they were sort of low key. And they evolved into what they are now.
Rob: Yeah, that’s true.
Lynn: You guys developed this comedic chemistry in the way you play off each other. When did you start thinking, huh, we’re really good together, this could really work?
Rob: That’s really interesting, you know, you’re so right. I think the more we had these offstage experiences, the more it fueled the onstage personas that we had started to form. Traveling out of the country together always does that to you too. Going to Australia and to Rome, all those trips helped form our relationship together and the sort of comedic bonds that we had. But yeah, it was very organic, you know. I mean, we always got along, our backgrounds were similar, but it’s like when you become friends with someone, you develop the rapport. I was telling my brother about this, and he’s a basketball player, nothing like me, but he said you know, it’s like playing basketball with someone that you’re a really good teammate with. You can pass the ball and you know where they’re gonna be, you know?
Lynn: I do, yes. That analogy really works. You and Richard can do that, just as quickly and on the spot as basketball players would within a game. Jared and Jensen do that too, when they’re onstage together.
Rob: Rich and I kinda naturally have that and we discovered it as we became closer friends. And now we’ve been through so much together, we’ve travelled so much, the show has been a big part of our journey together, and so now it’s kinda this well oiled machine. And so we were like, you know, let’s do something with this! Let’s make a show out of it! It’s very gratifying.
Lynn: Well, now’s the time, while Supernatural is still on the air and has such a passionate fandom. I think Kings of Con goes beyond Supernatural too, though. It’s about cons and fandom and acting, but it’s about more than that too. But it’s great to have that fan base help to spread the word.
Rob: Oh certainly. All that is true. The fans have always been and I feel like they will continue to be so supportive of us. And it is a show about the relationship between these two guys, with the background of the conventions, but it’s about their friendship. So I think people outside the convention world will still get it.
Lynn: People who haven’t ever experienced a convention might be like, oh, this is funny, and it looks like people are having fun!
Rob: Exactly. And that’s why our mantra has been ‘We’re doing it. We’re doing the show.’ No matter what, we’re gonna make this happen. And I think the Indiegogo thing has been a really good launching pad that we hadn’t thought of before. It gets us that much closer to making this a reality.
Lynn: Clearly. You’re over 200K now.
Rob: (laughing) Yeah. Yeah! It’s crazy and it keeps coming. We have five more days and it’s amazing, the fans are just unbelievable, so supportive. You feel the love, you know? And it’s really great.
Lynn: Ain’t no fandom like this fandom. So what portion of the show is improv and what’s scripted? You guys are so damn good at improv.
Rob: It’s hard to say, we do sit down and write the scene, and we go back and forth, and the way we’ve been doing it so far is we’ll do one as it’s written and then we’ll start just improvising. And we end up using maybe 60% written 40% improv. I mean, you do have to know where you’re going in the scene. So as long as we know where we need to get to in the scene, that’s [the improv] the icing in the scene, that’s some of the best stuff that happens in the moment. But from an editing and storytelling point of view, you need to know where you’re heading. But a lot of the real zingers, the funniest lines that we’ve shot so far, that’s all been improv stuff.
Lynn: That doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen the R2M show onstage a lot, and it never fails to make me laugh. Like, tears streaming down my face laugh sometimes.
Rob: (laughing) That’s great! It’s so much fun for us too. And it’s a great thing, to work in that place where you have lines written – I mean, at the end of the day, we knew Rich had to rip my robe off – but beyond that, we didn’t plan. I had written down words like, ‘Rich what are you doing’, but beyond that, you know, that’s the fun part, how we react to that.
Lynn: Oh that’s right, I forgot that Matt’s not the only one who had to expose himself for this show. You did too! I feel like it’s Richard’s turn next…
Rob: Exactly. Hahaha. I’ll work on it.
Lynn: One of my other favorite con stories is the train story – when Jared stopped all the trains in Europe? Richard tells that story and I just die.
[Find the video, fandom. It will be worth it]
Rob: Oh that was great, yeah. And we have talked about shooting stuff when we’re abroad. Having an episode in Rome or whatever. That would be a great story to tell.
Lynn: So you’re headed to Rome soon, and then Australia. I think you’re right, that all the traveling together has brought all of you closer. Even other television shows, the actors who do occasional conventions, they don’t travel together like that.
Rob: Right. And also at those cons, we spend more of our down time together. Like Rich and I aren’t hosting it, so on Saturday we’re done at 5 pm and we go to dinner, we hang out together. That’s what’s unique about those experiences. And on Friday it’s a tradition that we tour some place with like 50 fans or something.
Lynn: I guess you all get to spend more time with Jared and Jensen too. You guys see them at the US cons, but the actors who are on Friday or Saturday might not.
Rob: Yeah, definitely. We all spend time together because we all usually come in early, the day before it starts we’re there together, and we all go out Thursday night and we’re all in the same green room, so we hang out there too. That’s where a lot of these friendships formed. That’s where I first met Sebastian and Mark. And Rich and I first spent a day together, it’s a bonding experience.
You know, like this green room photo that Misha tweeted…
Lynn: So I see that you’ll announce another surprise guest star now that you’ve hit 200K. Tomorrow, right? Any teasers?
Rob: Hmm. Well, it is not a Supernatural person. Though it is someone that a lot of the Supernatural people will know. Someone from my past and someone especially who Richard has worked with, so…
Lynn: Hmmmm…any other clues….
Rob: I can tell you that, I don’t know how high a number we’ll get, but there are definitely other Supernatural actors who have voiced that they want to be in it and that we’re writing parts for. I can’t say for sure to announce it yet, but nearly all your favorite Supernatural actors want to be in this or are going to be in it. The parts we’re writing – either they play themselves or they play someone else.
Rob: And our plan is, the Indiegogo will be done by this weekend, and then after we’re back from Rome and Australia, we’ll start fulfilling all these perks for people and move forward.
Lynn: You’ve got a lot of perks!
Rob: (laughing) A lot a lot a lot. We’ll inevitably need some help, but then we’ll start making the show! We hope to be in production by the fall and go from there. It’s definitely happening. It’s funny, I got an email the other day, or a facebook post, that asked what happens to the money if you don’t make this show? And my answer was, oh we’re making the show! The show is happening.
Lynn: Absolutely. You were gonna make it anyway.
Rob: Yes. It probably would’ve taken longer. Even the ten minute teaser, we wrote it, we shot it, we edited it all ourselves, and it was a lot. So this will allow us to hire an editor, and hire a DP, and someone to help put it together. I’m just so excited to start making it, because the episodes that we’ve outlined are just super funny and I’m so excited to do it!
Lynn: I’m so excited to see it! That’s really exciting to hear that everyone from SPN wants to be involved. So I hope your Indiegogo is really successful, since more money will mean more episodes and more Supernatural cast can be involved! So they might play themselves or you might write caricatures for them too?
Rob: Exactly. A caricature, or like – like Matt Cohen is playing Matt, but he’s nothing like Matt. A couple people, we have them playing someone completely different. We have the world of the show and the world of Rich and my life.
Lynn: Before we end, can I just say that the VegasCon Saturday Night Special was beyond amazing? When Jensen came out and sang Sister Christian, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan was there, and….it was just so amazing! I know you and Richard worked hard to make it happen. Did you know how freaked out the audience was (in a very good way)?
Rob: Yeah, no, I mean we knew it was gonna be pretty huge, and we had planned to do it and the band had learned Sister Christian, but up until a couple days before, we weren’t certain that it would happen, that Jensen would be able to do it. We hoped, but we weren’t sure. And then to have Jeffrey Dean be there… yeah, it was crazy. Remarkable. It’s gonna be hard to top that experience.
Lynn: (laughing) True, but please try. I talked to Jensen at the next convention and he was a little surprised by everyone saying please please do it again! I think I said well, it doesn’t mean you have to do it every time, but don’t expect us not to want you to!
Rob: (laughing too) Exactly. We talked about it for Seattle but yeah, he doesn’t want to do it every time and have it be a thing because he can’t be there to do it every time…
Lynn: But I think doing it sometimes is awesome.
Rob: Oh yeah, and it will happen again. We’ve already talked about some other songs. I just don’t know when. He’ll have to get in early on Saturdays…
Lynn: I’ll keep my fingers crossed. So, it occurs to me that you have a lot of irons in the fire right now. You’re a busy busy man. How are you balancing all this? How’s the band?
Rob: I know I know. Louden Swain is good – it’s been on the back burner a little bit for me with all this going on, but we have a Stage It show in June, and another gig locally, and we’ve already had one rehearsal planning our stuff for DC con. We don’t have time to do things like finances and merchandise when we’re doing the conventions, so we’re doing those things and we’re getting ready for our next convention tour.
Lynn: I hope the guys enjoy it too. They got weirdly sucked into this world…
Rob: (laughing) I know I know. They do though, they love it. I think they all feel more a part of the machine now too, they have a lot invested in it now. Like I get emails all the time like, hey we should play this for Mark Sheppard. They’re always thinking about it, and it’s a great thing for the band. We get to play for all these people and so many of them – every gig people still come up and say I didn’t know you had a band – so it’s a great way to get the word out about the band. And it may not be like playing at the Whisky A Go Go, but to be honest those are usually like pay-to-play and you sell like one or two CDs, and this is a real rock show, you’re playing for like 2000 people!
Lynn: Yeah, that’s way more than most bands get to reach.
Rob: Yeah! So we’re thrilled to be a part of it.
Lynn: It’s cool that you were able to share your popularity within the SPN fandom with your friends, with the rest of the band. A lot of actors have side projects or bands but not like this – they came right along with you.
Rob: I know, it is very cool, you’re right, it’s a unique thing. Now they’re part of it.
Lynn: I know I say this all the time, but this whole thing is so extraordinary. A perfect storm.
Rob: I agree. And to have it happen when it did. Supernatural started before twitter and Instagram and all these platforms took off and it grew up in the age of these social networks, and it’s still on the air because of that. It really is remarkable.
Lynn: I’d love to see you back on Supernatural too. I’ll see Robbie Thompson this weekend – I’m gonna tell him to bring Chuck back!
Rob: (laughing) Please do! Rich and I are going to have lunch with him in a couple weeks. Such a terrific guy.
Lynn: And a great writer.
Rob: Yeah, he really gets it. He gets us and he gets all the characters.
Lynn: And so do you. There were a few people who were concerned before Kings of Con started, wondering if you’d know where that line was, or would seem like you were making fun of fans. I was pretty sure you’d be making more fun of yourselves, though.
Rob: Yes, absolutely! That’s why we always say that the strangest people are the actors. Really we’re just throwing each other under the bus. We’re the biggest nerds of all. We were worried about that too, and so I’m glad everyone’s response was positive.
Lynn: By the way, the new Supernatural book I’m working on is coming along really well. There are so many inspiring stories, from actors and from fans, including yours.
Rob: I can’t wait, that’s so exciting. I can’t wait to read them all!
Lynn: So is there anything else you’re excited to tell me about?
Rob: Well, Kings of Con is pretty amazing, it’s my main focus. It doesn’t feel like work, it’s so much fun to work with Rich. I’m pretty excited about where it could go and what it could be. I also did this thing with Fred Armisen – it’s a spoof on documentaries called “Documentary Now”. It’s super funny. With Fred and Bill Hader.
Lynn: OMG I love Bill Hader!
Rob: Written by Seth Myers.
Lynn: OMG I love Seth Myers! I miss them both and their epic Stefan/Seth bromance on SNL. Wow, you’re doing a lot of spoofy documentary sort of things…
Rob: (laughing) That’s right, it’s my new genre.
We said our goodbyes and I wished Rob safe travels as he and Rich head across the pond for the European conventions. Those of you who are lucky enough to be going, please take some vids for all of us who wish we could be there!
Fandom, this is our last chance to get Kings of Con funded enough that we can have all our Supernatural favorite actors on the show, so spread the word! For more information about Kings of Con and how you can contribute please visit:
And follow @Rob_and_Rich on Twitter for updates!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Tuesday-freaking-out-about-the-new-episode-tomorrow stresses.
Check back soon for more Supernatural goodies!
You can read Richard’s chapter in Fan Phenomena Supernatural
and more from Rich and Rob in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls –
both available at the links at the top of the page