Con Man is a crowd funded show found on Vimeo. Its about life on the other side of the convention table, you know from that actor who is stuck in a rut. From the comedic mind of Alan Tudyk (Wash; Firefly), this web comedy is about an actor of a sci fi cult classic called Spectrum, that is exactly like Firefly. Tudyk’s character deals with the convention scene and his failures of trying to reinvent himself professionally. While many of his other peers have moved on to greater things, he is going nowhere and he knows, and unlike other celebrities who have found a niche for themselves in the convention scene, Tudyk’s character can’t even do this. He is a failure and this show is all about poking fun at it. You see Tudyk’s character can’t even do conventions right.
-Guest Stars: The show has a speckling cult classic of stars that can often be found as satires about their real life selves. Most notably is a cool and relaxed Nathan Fillion (Firefly) who has not only moved on past the show Spectrum (or “Firefly“) but has become greater than he ever was before, all the while looking cool while he does it. Every 10 minute episode has several guest stars that are often either cast against type or are commentary on the comic con phenomena. Actors such as Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) who is nutty and neurotic, Felicia Day as an over obsessed fan, and Michael Dorn as Shakespearean actor who forcefully inserts his theater onto fans. This show is basically a who’s who of the cult classic comic con scene. Even the smallest of roles is an opportunity for a cult classic actor to drop in unexpectedly. Seeing these actors not only cast against type but as commentary of what an average sci fi fan can only assume what is going through their favorite actor’s minds. Above all else seeing almost everyone from Firefly make an appearance is incredible. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Kaylee wait in line for an autograph, dressed as Cpt. Reynolds, waiting to meet depressed Tudyk.
-Comedic Style: This show is sharp and witty. It never fails to come at you from unexpected angles such as seeing Tudyk’s character finally giving up and admitting to his fans “you know what, I hate Sci Fi” breaking all of their hearts. The writing of the scenes works well with the talent they have and the scenes are expertly setup, often building on established jokes and adding layers for good measure. One my favorite scenes has a gay actor, playing a man pretending to be gay just to attract conservative women who he hopes to “turn him straight.” Seeing veteran actor Leslie Jordon faking masculinity to sell this joke is priceless.
-Acting: Alan Tudyk in this is hilarious as you get to see him really cut loose. And that’s the wonderful thing about the whole indie/crowd funding; you get see actors that you know from some of your favorite sci fi, doing something very different than what your used to. A cult classic show is like a double-edged sword; you love it so much but it boxes in an otherwise talented actor. Seeing Tudyk and others be something new is a great idea. I wish I could see more of this. You often have to justify your conception of what the actor has done in the past with what he is doing now in this scene. This amplifies that punch line when its given.
–Seinfeld Comedic Style: It often takes a heavy level of “willing suspension of disbelief” to swallow many of the joke build ups. The pay off for going along with the ridiculous setup, and it’s often worth it, but not always. In one scene you see Tudyk desperately trying to play along with a nutty woman who has a doll obsession, many times putting his foot in his mouth while going along with the charade. In another scene you have to believe that Tudyk actually believes that a ridiculous sounding charity is a real one. Many of the jokes are hard to swallow but if you go along with it, it’s a pretty good comedy. Let’s say if you just can’t swallow the Seinfeld method this show may not be for you. It’s not to say that it’s as good as Seinfeld, it just employs that 90s method. Kinda dated comedy.
-A Bit Overpriced: With 13 short 10 minute episodes the total running time for the entire first season comes in at about an hour and half. You can rent it for $14.99. Considering most DvD films cost far less than this and this is about a month and half worth of a Netflix subscription, I can’t really justify the cost of it. Not just for one show.
Though Con Man is clever, fresh, and original, I can’t recommend it to everyone just yet. If you want a nod to Firefly or cult classic fandom in general then it may be worth the price. I felt this show would have fit much better as a part of another provider’s monthly deal. Maybe not good enough on its own but would’ve been a great way to sweeten the deal, with say something like CBS or Amazon’s services.