The New Yorker Festival: Chris Colfer

Last night I went to see Chris Colfer interviewed at the New Yorker Festival. It was the first time I’ve actually managed to get to said festival — I always either have trouble getting tickets or the timing is such that I’m traveling. This time, I just barely made it, as I’m leaving for Europe tonight.

At any rate the experience was both lovely and odd, but neither really in the way I expected. As others have noted, the questions were largely a rehash of topics Colfer has covered extensively before, and, despite the moderator being knowing about how everyone in the audience were largely well-informed fans and Colfer himself answering many questions with the preface of “For the two of you in the back who don’t know this,” little was done to target the discussion to either the actual audience or to Colfer’s upcoming projects (he as a movie he wrote and starred in coming out, a middle-grade book deal, and a pilot in development).

Whether this was a matter of the moderator not knowing that catering to a young audience (it was largely teens) or a fannish audience (like I said, we were in the know) doesn’t mean watering it down, I’m not really sure. Either way, it’s worth noting that neither audience actually likes easy, neat, harmless content, but really loves new ideas and process discussion to chew over. But we weren’t given that, and it was really a disservice to everyone.

That said, Colfer was delightful. He’s verbally playful and well-prepared for questions both awkward and boring (He assumed an audience question prefaced as being awkward to be the usual “what’s it like to kiss Darren Criss?” Instead, it turned out to be about Colfer’s choice of cologne, and while none of it was less inappropriate for all that, Colfer’s navigation of that mess sure was a lot funnier than it could have been for those of us cringing in our seats).

The expressiveness of his face was also fascinating to watch as he got stuck watching clips of himself at various points in the evening. I think I learned more about performance from that than anything that actually got said during the entire program.

But evenings like this, when you’re in fandom and like to write about pop-culture, are rarely just about the content on stage. They’re about the people you see and the friends you have drinks with after. So I was glad to chat with three different groups of people I knew before the thing started, catch up on a bit of gossip, and have a lengthy, meaty discussion afterwards on the construction of fame.

For those of you who missed the event, there are quotes, audio and pictures all over Tumblr and Twitter. I would say some of the paraphrasing conveys a different tonal quality on certain issues than I got from the experience, but if you’re among those who have been wound up about recent Glee spoilers in the last week — spoilers that were heavily yet coyly acknowledged by Colfer, who isn’t just playful with words, but dirty with them — I would say, oddly, to trust. I think they know how deftly they have to tread in what’s coming, and I think the effort will at least be valiant.

My upcoming time-zone shift and work schedule mean I may be a little behind on things until I return in two weeks, although I am planning a bit of meta regarding Kurt Hummel’s clothes, one of the leaked performances in 3.03 and the 3.05-related excitement. So when I get to that some time this coming week (after 3.03 has aired), please remember this is a spoiler rich zone.

5 thoughts on “The New Yorker Festival: Chris Colfer”

  1. interesting (and refreshing) to get a different perspective on the festival. Although it was fun to follow what was going on on tumblr, I also found it to be frustrating at times. There are many things I would love to know about Chris- his process, his passions *outside* of glee, etc, that weren’t covered in favor of- well. Things that we either already know the answer too or really don’t matter in the long run. I do wonder what the outcome of such an evening would have looked like with a change in demographic (such as median age of the audience 😀 ) Thanks for sharing your perspective though.

    1. I don’t actually think the audience age should have mattered. The moderator did 70 minutes of the questions. She could have provided us with that broadness, that that audience would have eaten up, and then still left room for the fannish stuff that inevitably happens. The program didn’t need a different audience, merely better expectations of it.

      1. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply a “better” audience, just different. Although you are completely right- I followed in bits and pieces on tumblr, so I was not quite clear on how long the moderator spoke for, and what information came from the moderator section or the fan questions.

  2. Hey, you’re going to be (almost) in my time zone! Er, but not online. That part sucks. You have no idea how annoyed I am that I couldn’t afford a trip to London — I had interview ops for tomorrow too (a film I reviewed is being released on DVD) in London. But man, for some reason, tickets are crazy money right now.

    I loved the interview — listened to it this morning. I mean, yeah, if you were hoping for something more “inside the actors studio” and less “entertainment tonight” it would have been disappointing, I guess. I thought the length of the interview made up for a lot — we got longer and more indepth answers than ever before.

    And the comments made about the moderator are pretty dead on — my favourite parts of the interview were really the unmediated communication between Chris Colfer and the crowd.

    I think some of the cringeworthy stuff is inevitable. We can be as big fans as we want, but at the end of the day, it’s teenage girls who are going to set the tone of his fandom and he both knows this and handles it beatifully. They will grow up, this too shall pass, etc.

    But yeah, I’m curious what questions people had for him, or wished the moderator would have asked.

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