Few things are likely to send a nerd into a cold sweat as much as the aspect of their sub-culture becoming the focus of a sitcom. Bluntly put, the people in charge of TV don’t know how to make nerds funny without mocking them. It’s what The Big Bang Theory does (and why I don’t watch the show). Thus I was nervous when I saw Penn Jillette tweet out the Kickstarter for RenFest and saying that he supported it. That said, I was willing to give it a chance because Jillette stated he had been involved with Ren Faires before. That gave hope that it would be done respectfully.
I’m going on my sixth year as a cast member of the St. Louis Renaissance Faire, so I understand how ripe Faires are for good comedy, and really bad comedy. Thankfully, judging by the trailer, the team behind RenFest is clearly doing this project out of love for Faires. The show will center upon Elisabeth played by Mary Jo Pehl of MST3k who plays a combination of recognizable types for anyone who has been around Ren Faires before: the new person in charge, and also the person who takes the history too seriously. The conflict in the show will clearly be between Elisabeth, with her love of history, and the cast members who love the festival as it is. Perfect. Variations of new management and the classic conflict between history and fun are elements that all Ren Faires deal with.
The fact that the show will be respectful means nothing if it isn’t going to be funny, and, again, based on the trailer, it looks to be incredibly funny. The trailer shows Elisabeth fighting against an attempt to install a sports bar by a character known as The Lloyd, Dave “Gruber” Allen from Freaks and Geeks. Elisabeth’s attempts to get signatures on a petition to prevent the bar are legitimately funny. The fact that it culminates in both characters getting ready for a joust to decide the fate of the sports bar. Each sequence of the trailer shows potential for a great show.
RenFest is a show that is centered on nerds and is respectful of them. Given the rarity of those two combined elements we need to make sure this show happens. If the show is good, the funded pilot may get a full pick up by a major television player.