‘Kings of Con’ is a love letter to fandom from ‘Supernatural’s’ Rob Benedict & Rich Speight


LOS ANGELES There are few actors who are as connected to their fans as the stars of Supernatural.

The series has created a cottage industry of conventions, charitable endeavors and fanworks that bring its actors and viewers together in ways that still seem unprecedented, even in todays social media-driven culture.

Cast members and fans have raised money for vital causes including disaster relief, suicide prevention and mental health awareness, and fans have supported the stars by crowdfunding other artistic ventures, such as a digital series from Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr. called Kings of Con, which premieres on streaming network Comic-Con HQ on November 15.

Benedict and Speight never shared the screen together on Supernatural, but the duo met at one of the shows many fan conventions and subsequently forged a close friendship on the road.

The two are now convention mainstays, and their time together helped them craft the idea for Kings of Con, a comedy series in which the duo play heightened versions of themselves on the convention circuit. The concept isn’t designed to play purely for fans of Supernatural, however: “Its not reality and its not documentary, its as structured a single-camera as 30 Rock,” Speight told Mashable during a phone interview last week.

The pair took the concept to Indiegogo, where fans helped them raise $279,655 to go into production on the single-camera comedy, far exceeding their $100K goal.

I didnt know anything about conventions until I started doing them for Supernatural, so Im spoiled, because Supernatural fandom happens to be in the top echelon of fandoms in term of their upbeat spirit, positive attitude and wholehearted endorsement and support of anything Supernatural performers do, either involving Supernatural or elsewhere, Speight explained.

To have those very same fans help give us a financial platform upon which we could build the show was just a stunning blessing,” he added. “They were so generous right out of the gate, and I know both Robbie and I were flattered and really pleased with that, and took that responsibility very seriously as we moved forward into production, to be sure we were delivering for our audience a show that they would enjoy and be proud of.

The two have been to a number of general entertainment conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con, but according to Benedict, Supernatural conventions are something different. Its something very unique, it feels a little more personal, especially for me and Rich because we spend so much time at them, making connections with people and with each other.

That connection has been a boon for the actors and the show itself, Benedict noted: The loyalty and the passion that this fanbase has, has literally kept this show on for 12 seasons. Its remarkable, its a phenomenon. Weve never taken it lightly; were just so honored to be a piece of that puzzle.

While theres a tendency among the uninitiated to look down on passionate fanbases in general, and convention culture in particular, Benedict and Speight want to make it clear that Kings of Con is a love letter to fans, not an excuse to mock them.

From the beginning, that was our M.O: Rich and I are the butt of the joke on this show, the actors are the craziest people at these conventions we make it very clear that people who mock it just dont understand, Benedict explained. Its no different from going to a sports game and putting on colors for your favorite team, or having a fantasy football league.

Speight agreed, No one whos ever made fun of fans has been hanging out at conventions, because you go and you know theres nothing to make fun of. People mock out of ignorance.

Subscription streaming service Comic-Con HQ is the home of the series, which also plays host to Con Man, another crowdfunded show, created by Firefly alums Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion. Despite the similarities on paper, Speight explained why the two projects are wholly different.

I dont compare the two shows at all, the same way I wouldnt compare Seinfeld to Curb Your Enthusiasm. They have similar styles in that the main characters play heightened versions of their comedic selves, [and] we both picked the same landscape, which is the convention world, but ours are completely different characters doing completely different things, with a completely different comedic style, which is uniquely Rob and Rich, he said.

The pair co-wrote and executive produced all of the episodes, which Speight then directed.

That was probably one of the easiest processes for us because weve developed this great rapport over the eight years that weve been doing these conventions together, Benedict said. We wrote them together and when it came time to direct, Rich directed and we were both producers, so we got to steer the ship and make sure our vision stayed intact it was great. Having been in the business for quite a while, to have that much control over something is unheard of and kind of why we did it. Its been incredibly rewarding.

Kings of Con premieres Tuesday, Nov. 15 on Comic-Con HQ, with new episodes debuting every Tuesday. Comic-Con HQ will also host an aftershow for the series every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, featuring guest stars from the episodes alongside Benedict and Speight.

Watch episode 1 above, and episode 2 below.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/14/kings-of-con-premiere-watch-episode-1-2-rob-benedict-richard-speight-supernatural/

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