Supernatural Chat: Highlights from BurCon 2014

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It was another magical weekend at Creation Entertainment’s Salute to Supernatural convention in Burbank. The event, affectionately referred to as “BurCon,” has become something very different from what I experienced back at the first Los Angeles Supernatural convention. Just as our beloved show has evolved over its 10 seasons, the conventions have evolved over the past 8 years as well.

The actors have become a huge part of the convention and have taken over nearly every event, adding more enjoyment for the fans. Richard Speight, Jr. (Gabriel/The Trickster) is now the Master of Ceremonies and keeps the convention running along with Rob Benedict (Chuck) and the show’s “house band,” Elastic Waste Band. Thanks to Richard and the band, even the most mundane show activity – such as announcing the rules and regulations – has become something the fans can enjoy.

Here are some highlights I experienced at this year’s event:

Julian Richings on Stage

When a guy plays Death on a TV show, you can’t help but to get a certain impression about him. But Julian was nothing like I expected and I loved how much energy he had up there. The guy practically bounced around the stage as he took questions and talked about eating his first churro and his mother asking him when he was going to play a “good guy.”

“Supernatural is more than the sum of its parts, it’s a family thing.” – Julian Richings

“If there’s not an indie band called Death Eats A Churro, we haven’t done our job.” – Richard Speight, Jr.

The Love for Rob Benedict

Last year I remember sitting in my seat, shocked and emotional, as Rob shared the story of having a stroke just a few weeks before at the Toronto convention. I, like most of the fans in the room, had no idea this had happened and I’ll admit to getting teary-eyed at the thought that we could have lost someone so important to the SPN family. Because he was still recovering, Rob couldn’t perform with his band at the Saturday night concert so many of the convention guests took turns singing at the mic, including Sebastian Roche, Richard Speight, Jr. and many more.

This year it was heartwarming to see how much the love for Rob has grown. When he took the stage for his panel, he appeared to be fighting some emotion. It was there on that same stage, at the same event, that he shared was had happened to him before, which was hard for him to talk about as he didn’t like to look back at that time. After a moment of reflection, Rob began taking questions and was immediately himself again. At one point he even made a stroke joke. When the quip was met with silence and a few groans, Rob asked, “Too soon?” which brought on laughs. The love for Rob was palpable throughout the entire event, but perhaps none more than in that moment.

“If it’s one thing I’ve learned is how much this fandom means to me.” – Rob Benedict on his feelings after events of last year.

“I’m not happy you cried. I’m happy that you cared.” – Rob Benedict on one fan’s tearful response to the Supernatural 200th Episode.

Lauren Tom’s First Solo Panel

Lauren Tom (Linda Tran) took the stage and immediately became emotional. It being her first panel without her TV son (Osric Chau) by her side, she thought no one would be there to see just her alone. She was of course mistaken and the audience adored her. Lauren entertained fans with stories of what it was like working with “the boys” (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) and having Osric teach her about fanfiction.

“You mean are there ghost chores?” – Lauren Tom on one fan’s question about Kevin and mom’s relationship now.

Osric Chau as Carl Fredricksen

Osric has made a reputation for showing up at his panels dressed in costume. This year he chose to portray the lovably grumpy Carl Fredricksen from Pixar’s Up. It was perhaps his sweetest costume yet and he took the stage as the theme from the movie played. His costume included a massive amount of balloons, a white-haired wig, suit and glasses. Chau even colored his eyebrows gray. Once onstage, Osric took questions from the fans and shared stories about his earlier days training as a martial artist with hopes of becoming a stunt person.

“Wait. You’re wearing pants?” – Osric Chau on his friends’ reactions to finding out his costume for BurCon.

The Friday Night Karaoke Party

This is the event that I personally think has changed the most from the early conventions. I still remember the first karaoke party I attended and let me just say it was bo-o-o-o-ring. No offense to anyone who was there or put it together, but it just wasn’t much of anything back then. A few people in a bar and some bad karaoke. That was it. Once Richard and Matt Cohen (young John Winchester) took over, the event became a party with a capital “P.” The theme of the party changes every year and this year it was “Dick & Matt’s Excellent Adventure” with the guys dressed like the infamous Bill & Ted.

There’s still plenty of drinking and some bad karaoke, but now the actors have joined in the fun as well and most of the singing is top-notch. Not that that’s what you look for at a karaoke party, but I felt it important to note just how well most of our Supernatural actors can belt out a tune. Rob started the night with “Footloose” and other highlights included performances by Gil McKinney, Tim Omundson (whose version of “Dancing Queen” I shall never forget), Julian Richings, Matt Cohen, Lauren Tom (who sang “Hollaback Girl”) and many more.

Osric Chau and Gil McKinney

When I first saw this pairing on the schedule, I thought it sounded a little odd. After all, these two actors never once crossed paths on screen, what could they have to talk about in a panel together? But it’s not about what they may or may not have done on the series when Osric and Gil are on stage. It’s about their chemistry and they are loaded with it, which made for one of the most entertaining panels of the weekend for me.

Osric Chau: “Why am I covered in frosting?”
Gil McKinney: “Tell no one!” – The guys improvising a wild scene at a fan’s request.

Tim Omundson and Tahmoh Penikett

Another pair with tons of chemistry, Omundson and Penikett hit the stage with a lot of energy. The two shared a story about the first time they met, which was on a plane and may or may not have involved generous amounts of alcohol. Tim treated the fans to an extended clip of his upcoming miniseries, Galavant, then made an announcement that cause a scream loud enough to shake the rafters: Cain is returning to Supernatural in Episode 14.

Mark Sheppard and Son

Mark Sheppard (Crowley) had some company for his panel when he brought on his son, Max. The panel was anything but conventional, with Max answering many of the fans’ questions for his father. Mark also took to the floor at one point and wandered around the auditorium with a microphone. He took some questions from fans, which he would mostly pitch to Max, but also asked fans some questions of his own.

“You want him here. He answers questions. I never answer any questions.” – Mark Sheppard on having Max answer questions for him.

Misha Collins and the Dirty Mouth

What can I say about Misha’s (Castiel) panel? Well, not a whole heck of a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly entertaining and I laughed my butt off, but unfortunately a lot of it was X- rated. Let’s just say at one point Misha decided to share a text conversation he had with Richard, the contents of which were so dirty I doubt I will ever repeat it. When he wasn’t talking dirty, Misha took fan questions and shared stories about parking his car far away from set to keep it away from prankster Jared and learning about the joys of Tumblr.

“We would streak the stage if we had the chance.” – Misha Collins on if Supernatural was invited to present at the People’s Choice awards.

The Saturday Night Cabaret starring Louden Swain

This is an event that didn’t even exist when the conventions began and has turned from a concert with Rob Benedict’s band, Louden Swain, to a cabaret featuring multiple actors from the show. Until that night, I had never had the pleasure to hear Gil McKinney sing and it’s not something I will ever forget. The man actually gave me goose bumps, his voice was that beautiful. Other performances included Osric singing an emotional version of “Creep,” plus songs by Matt Cohen and his wife, Richard Speight, Jr. and more.

Sunday’s Opening Ceremony

All of Sunday was great, but one highlight was the opening ceremony (as I like to refer to it). I don’t know how they did it after how much effort they put into making the cabaret show so fantastic, but Richard and the Elastic Waste Band started the day off with a bang. In the middle of his song, Rob jumped off the stage and without missing a single lyric ran all the way to the last row of the theater and back again. He slapped hands with fans on his trip and I’m happy to report I was one of them.

“It’s hard to be family-centric and highly offensive at the same time and yet we do it very well.” – Richard Speight, Jr. opening the convention on Sunday morning.

The J2 Experience

Jared and Jensen (affectionately referred to as “J2” by the fans) always make the weekend for me. It’s not just because they are the stars of the show and incredibly nice to look at, though. I genuinely enjoy their chemistry together and the way they banter and have fun with the audience. Some of the questions that are posed to them aren’t always what one might call intelligent, but Jared and Jensen always reply with either humor or reflection, depending on what the question is about. Just as they do on screen, those guys can make me laugh my head off one minute and be close to tears the next.

This year their panel included a long bit about Jared’s hair and how it had talents and a personality of its own, a story about driving to Jensen’s place with a mattress on the roof of Jared’s car with Jensen hanging out of the window to keep it in place, Jared demonstrating his yodeling abilities and much more. They also made a big announcement: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (John Winchester) will be making his convention debut at the Las Vegas convention

“He inspires me to be strong in moments where I want to be weak.” – Jensen Ackles on how Dean inspires him.

“The biggest thing is that it’s given us all of you.” – Jensen Ackles on how their lives have changed since they first started working on the show.

“I liked the Dea-stiel part.” – Jared Padalecki on the Supernatural 200th Episode.

Due to a scheduling conflict, the J2 panel was the last one for me at this year’s Supernatural convention. I was sad to have to leave before the show was completely over and yet I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the weekend.

Did you attend BurCon 2014? What were some of your favorite moments? Drop a line in the comments below, I love hearing from you guys!

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