Nirvanna the Band the Show the Panel JFL42, Toronto ON, September 22
Published Sep 23, 2018"I don't know anyone who is kind of into our show," Matt Johnson said halfway through Saturday afternoon's panel discussion about Nirvanna the Band the Show. "I've never met anyone who was like, 'Yeah, I think I might have seen an episode of that.' They're usually either in or they're out."
In large part, the tone of Saturday's event was defined entirely by this assumption. Johnson, along with co-creator Jay McCarrol, were seemingly uninterested in holding the hands of any casual fans who may have been in the audience, but dedicated followers of their work were rewarded with nugget after nugget, in the form of behind-the-scenes stories, screenings of unaired footage, Q&A opportunities and more.
At times entertaining and at times instructive, the afternoon's freewheeling discussion offered a rare glimpse into the unique challenges associated with filming a show like Nirvanna the Band the Show. Curious fans were given the opportunity to demystify some of the thousands of questions that inevitably abound from watching a show where genuine interactions with unaware strangers often fuel the narrative, and aspiring filmmakers — like those who'd traveled from Edmonton to present Johnson and McCarrol with a copy of a parody episode they'd shot — were given the opportunity to learn from their insight.
While the audience responded positively to the unstructured nature of the event, the panel could have undoubtedly benefited from the presence of a dedicated moderator to make the most out of Johnson and McCarrol's time on stage. Although it was, at times, endearing to watch the duo flounder on stage — particularly when it manifested as inspired banter — it felt tedious in other instances, like when the pair seemed unsure of what they were allowed to disclose on stage, and when they were forced to waste a bit of time brainstorming trivia questions on the spot.
Ultimately, though, the event did exactly what it set out to do. It may not have been an especially entertaining 90 minutes for an unfamiliar person who walked in off the street, but it worked remarkably well as fan service for a loyal set of followers who would likely follow Johnson and McCarrol to the end of the Earth and back.