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Day 1: Denver Comic Con 2017

With Khary Payton, Weird Al Yancovic & Gaten Mararazzo & Caleb McLoughlin

Denver Comic Con offers impressive multi-track programming that covers comic books, cosplay, demos, education, gaming, literature, film, unity, sci-fi/fantasy, kid & teen tracks and even sci fi speed dating. As many as a dozen tracks run in a single hour, including a main event with a big name draw.

I attended main events for the first two days, but my third was spent doing interviews with Heroes’ Greg Grunberg & Wizard of Waverly Place’s Maria Canals Barrera, meeting fantastic, innovative artists (watch for upcoming interviews) and checking out the trade show floor.

Here is a recap of what Khary Payton (Walking Dead), Weird Al Yancovic and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLoughlin (Stranger Things) had to say at DCC2017 on Day 1.

Khary Payton

Without the dreadlock wig and medieval-meets-post-apocalyptic wardrobe he wears as King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead you’d be hard pressed to recognize Khary Payton except for one thing..that voice. The familiar sonorous rumble hits you in the gut and then he gives that guttural laugh of glee and you can practically see Shiva sitting next to him.

A little slap happy from having just arrived in Denver, Khary and host Garrett Wang often slipped into innocuous banter that kept us from really getting to know Khary, along with his own penchant for answering questions in jest. When a fan asked how he prepared for doing different voices in his voiceover work I don’t think he was expecting “vodka” to be the answer.

Khary did say there would never be a season 6 of Teen Titans, but the show would likely always exist in one carnation or another. He also talked about his insistence that he do his own stunts, a true love of his and something he’s done since starring in his first movie, Dracula II: Ascension. Of his Walking Dead castmastes he spoke fondly, even likening Norman Reedus to an exuberant puppy and heaping rapturous praise on Cooper Andrews as Jerry.

Weird Al Yankovic

I’ll admit more than anything I wanted to see the prince of parody perform, but alas no luck. He did however delight fans by answering a slew of questions.

Here are some of the best nuggets from his talk:

  • The “weird” part of his name was gifted to him by a college classmate.
  • “My Bologna” was his first hit and made him realize he might be on to something.
  • He thinks creating the video for his songs is more fun than writing the actual tune.
  • He loves that Lady Gaga called being parodied by him a rite of passage.
  • Atlantic Records made him cancel the completed parody of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” even though Blunt gave permission. However the lame label only stopped Al from including the song on his album, he still released “You’re Pitiful” online.
  • The Cyndi Lauper parody “Girls Just Wanna Do Lunch” was done under duress because his label insisted he do something by her.
  • He loves doing sketch comedy like Comedy, Bang! Bang! And would like to do more feature length projects.
  • Internet rumors alone allowed him to write “The Saga Begins,” a Phantom Menace parody, before the movie’s release. Despite fan wishes he doesn’t intend to write another Star Wars song. Because he’s also written “Yoda” he fears having to perform all 3 live would turn it into the Star Wars show.

Aside from his comic genius one thing was obvious, his fans LOVE him. One even told Al he helped him break out of his shy shell and pursue writing parodies himself.

Gaten Matarazzo & Caleb McLoughlin

Seeing this dynamic duo in person made me wish they’d consider doing a webseries together highlighting their comedic talents and camaraderie. (If they do, I want a shout out!)

Both boys come from musical theatre backgrounds and have appeared on Broadway so they’re comfortable before large groups. Squirrelly, as only teen boys can be, and utterly adorable, they ate up the attention the large crowd heaped on them.

Netflix forbade them from discussing season 2 of Stranger Things, which returns this Halloween, but the restriction in no way put a damper on the panel.

The boys joked about Millie Bobby Brown’s British shriek of a scream, talked about the many pranks they all play on each other and recalled being so nervous they were unable to speak when they met President Obama.

Neither boy has played Dungeon’s and Dragons, despite it being largely featured on the show, and Caleb lost some geek cred when he admitted he hadn’t seen any of the Star Wars movies aside from Episode 7 (I’ll let you imagine the audible gasp from the crowd) and didn’t know what “fandom” meant. Gaten on the other hand can nerd out with the best, and really won favor when he confessed to being a total Potterhead who is a proud Hufflepuff.

The kids roles were very broad as first written and became tailored to their unique personalities as they went. Gaten further gained adoration when he admitted he also based Dustin on The Goonies Chunk and Mouth.

The biggest thing to come out of their panel was my immense desire to do a set visit and hang out with these talented and hilarious teens first hand. Both boys are immense talents who say their lives have changed immensely since the show, but they are loving every minute and so are we.

Read about Day 2 with Nathan Fillion, Kate Mulgrew, Millie Bobby Brown and Kate Mulgrew.

Click here to watch highlights and full panels from DCC 2017, including those for Weird Al and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLoughlin.

For more pictures and videos check out our TalkNerdyWithUs Instagram.

Written by Terri Clark

Terri Clark is an entertainment writer, TV addict, pop culture geek and award-winning young adult author. She loves the access Twitter has given her to the people behind her favorite books & TV shows. TV isn’t just a static sport anymore. (Yes, sport! Watching as much as she does requires commitment, dedication and endurance.) She's a writer and lead editor for Talk Nerdy With Us. Please follow her at terriclarkbooks on Facebook and Twitter. You can find info on her YA books at TerriClarkBooks.com.

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