If you have never been to Comic-Con before, one of the greatest experiences is to go to a panel. I’m so glad that over the years, this has become the big attraction to the show instead of just shopping on the showroom floor. The panels are where the real insight and emotion is experienced and many of my lasting memories have occurred in a panel. Another amazing opportunity is the chance to ask a question. However, to stand in front of thousands of people, speaking directly to one of your life long idols is daunting to say the least. Done well, it not only satisfies your personal dream, but also adds value to the entire panel. However, done wrong and it’s a painful experience for everyone- as well as put up on YouTube for the world to judge you.
So here are a few tips to think about when asking a question at Comic-Con:
- If you want to ask a question in Hall H or Ballroom 20, then immediately line up to the microphone if they will allow for it. If you go get a seat then wait to be called up, you will be 50 people back with no guarantees you’ll make it to the mic.
- Be thinking way ahead of time about what you want to ask. Plan on two questions just in case yours gets asked right before you. Nothing worst than being all mic’d up and no where to go.
- Sorry, but don’t try to be funny. I know there are many funny fans out there but unfortunately we don’t get too many of them in the panels. So save your routine for the Improv night and just get the question.
- Carefully craft a question everyone in the room will appreciate. Asking a celeb what their favorite food is might be interesting to you but the rest of the room might not appreciate it.
- Ask a question where the answer is not easily found on the internet. Don’t ask what projects they have coming up when IMDB can answer that. Do ask out of your upcoming projects which is the most intimidating to you and why?
- Keep the question short with no backstory. Some people go into a story so long that it would impress JRR Tolkien. The longer time you take, the less others will have. Respect the clock.
- If you have a great costume that is relevant to the panel, then this is a great way to show it off as well as ask a good question. Fans usually reward a good costume with a respectable applause so this is your chance.
- Don’t ask for hugs, to give gifts, to take a pic with them. I say this while recognizing I’ve seen some real touching moments with these type of requests- but I still feel I have to list this as an important don’t. I know, I am irony personified.
- Here’s a bit of technical advice. Hearing yourself with 1.31 Gigawatts of sound and seeing your face on a 100 ft screen can be a little disorienting- especially in Hall H. While you are talking, focus on the sound of your own voice and look directly at the person on stage. If you listen to the echo and watch yourself onscreen, you’ll lose your train of thought.
- A warning about Hall H. It is notorious for critical fans. If your question appears self serving, critical, or it’s a failed attempt at humor, you will be boo’d off the mic. Followed by the walk of shame. It’s not a pretty sight, so don’t be the next victim.
I know this is a lot for something as simple of asking one question- but believe me, there are genuine eye rolling, groaner questions in every panel. If you are a Con veteran and agree, please leave a comment echoing this statement. I hope this helps and I am looking forward to what you will be asking at Comic-Con in 11 days! In 2010, at the TRON: Legacy panel, I had a chance to ask Jeff Bridges a question. My question wasn’t anything too epic but I thought his answer was brilliant: