A Guide to Comic Convention Panel Etiquette
This year at Comicpalooza I didn't get to attend many panels, and none of the big celebrity ones as my journalism skills were required elsewhere at the convention. It's OK, though because I got a play by play from fellow geeks and reporters, and I've got to tell you Houston some of you really need a crash course on how to behave at these things. It seems more than a couple of them were disasters that could have been avoided if the people attending them have given a little thought to some of the things that make panels great.
Adam Perez via YouTube
So, in the name of improving the next go-round I've come up with a handy list of Dos and Don'ts that I hope will insure our celebrity guests next year aren't going to spend their time on stage wishing it would be done as quickly as possible.
Do: Ask questions that will give a guest a chance to tell a good story, preferably one that they haven't told a thousand times. When people asked me if I was going to put in to interview Stan Lee I told them no because I literally couldn't think of a single question I could ask him that he hasn't been asked a million times. Would it be an honor to meet him? Of course, but they have an autograph line for that. Likewise, give some thought into your question before you raise your hand, and ask yourself "Will the answer to this question entertain the audience and make the guest happy?"
Don't: Ask a question just to be asking a question. It's perfectly acceptable to just sit and listen to the speaker speak without demanding you be given a moment with a microphone. That need for attention is the sort of self-centered idiocy that made someone ask Billy Dee Williams what it was like to be killed by the Predator (That was Carl Weathers). Remember, the goal of the panel is to have a fun and illuminating time. It's about the guest and the audience as a whole, not just you.
Do: Pay attention to how the guest reacts to certain questions. If talking about a certain former boss or coworker seems to make them uncomfortable for instance, steer away from that topic. We are not here to grill someone looking for the deep truth of a matter. There are professional journalists that do that sort of thing, and you're not likely to get even an actor to just confess something he really doesn't like to talk about in front of a crowd. Instead, ask something light-hearted.
Don't: Ask to come up and hug, kiss, sing with, dance, or otherwise interact with the guest on stage. Again, there are autograph lines for that sort of thing, and you'll find most celebrities extremely accommodating. Hell, if you visit the autograph tables late on the last day most guests will talk your ear off out of boredom and a desire for company. Asking for a special moment in a panel just takes out a significant portion of everyone's limited time. As John Barrowman said when he was here, "I can't give everyone in the room a hug."
Do: Keep your questions focused and concise. If it takes you three sentences to get to the point of your question it's probably not a very good one. Some great questions do require a bit of set up, true, but most of the time long questions are just the result of unprepared rambling. Keep in mind time is short and that for the most part these events are focused on professional entertainers who have no problem holding a room in thrall. Let them have the time they need to do that.
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