15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
Last week, we went behind the scenes with Boubouille of MMO-Champion to learn more about the non-stop pace of bringing readers a never-ending stream of fresh news tips and datamined tidbits. Serious stuff – and readers expressed some serious appreciation for his efforts.
This week, however, we're off on an entirely lighter tangent: a standup comedian (and WoW player, of course) who brings both his WoW sensibilities and experience as a game programmer to the stage. Jeff Reitman (aka Drelana of Azuremyst-US) is all about geek entertainment, whether it's playing games himself, working on them for others to play, or yukking it up over the whole package.
Read our interview with Jeff, plus video of Jeff on stage (sending up WoW plus wives, Rock Band and more), after the break.
15 Minutes of Fame: So Jeff, how long have you been doing stand-up? Jeff Reitman: I have been doing standup a little under two years. It's really almost a second job at this point, as I try and do three to four shows a week, which leaves only three nights for gaming!
When did you first incorporate gaming into your comedy routines -- and what was the audience's reaction? From the very beginning. I grew up playing Sierra adventure games, Nintendo and Atari. Gaming has always been a part of my blood, and I have a hard time not talking about it.
How do mainstream audiences respond to your gaming material? Do they get it, or is this still Greek they can't grok for most people? There is definitely an age barrier. My generation was definitely the first group that had a significant number of gamers but still wasn't ubiquitous. We were the generation that grew up with Atari and Nintendo, went to arcades as kids and saw witnessed the release of the Gameboy. Anyone over 40 just doesn't have that connection to the medium. They can still relate to some of the topics, but a lot of the references are lost. ... I can't mention Draenei, Master Chief or even Yoshi without getting blank stares from half the crowd, but I think that's changing, and in five to 10 years we will see a lot more awareness in pop culture.
Tell us more about Cross Platform Comedy, your comedy show targeted at gamer and nerd culture. Cross Platform Comedy was born out of my desire to get gamers together in a room at laugh at each other. Standup I found to be a perfect venue to talk about some of the ridiculous stuff we see every day in our game of choice. Who doesn't have that know-it-all in their guild that they want to mute on Vent? How often have you found yourself doing something stupid for an achievement, telling yourself this is a stupid waste of time, but doing it anyway and then bragging about it later? ... It happens to all of us, and I think it's important to talk about it and laugh about it.
So far, Cross Platform has been performed twice in 2008 in San Francisco, with four other awesome gamer comics. Hopefully, we can get people's attention and generate some demand.
Have you observed a "mainstreaming" of awareness of games and "nerd chic" in recent years? Is it actually becoming chic to be nerd-chic? It's pretty safe to make World of Warcraft, Rock Band/Guitar Hero and Wii references, but a surprising number of people still could not tell you what Halo is. I would definitely say in the 30-or-under crowd, you will find a lot of people who would identify as gamers. There is definitely an acceptance of gaming as a legitimate entertainment medium that is not relegated to just the hardcore players.
What about your family? Are they gaming nerds, too? My wife started playing WoW about a year ago when I picked it back up again and is even more addicted than I am. (I refused to do Noblegarden, but she spawn-camped those eggs for way too long).
Tell us about your day job in game development. What games have you worked on? I have worked in the industry for 10 years as a programmer and have seen a lot of ups and downs. I have worked on some stinkers and some winners and a bunch of games that never saw the light of day. Shipped credits: Matrix Online, Socom: Fireteam Bravo 1 and 2, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
What are you currently working on? Can't say :)
Fair enough -- what about WoW? What's Drelana up to? Right now, I have been focused on getting Drelana into Ulduar a little more regularly. I am a pretty casual raider and try to get in on one good raid night a week (either a 10-man with my guild or a 25-man with another). My current goal is to finally replace Drelana's pants. She's got 213s and even a 219 level gear but is still wearing blue pants ... It hurts my eyes to see that one blue amongst all the pretty purple!
When not raiding, I have been doing a lot of Argent Tournament dailies and trying to get my DK (Keiradeathly) to level 80. I also spend more time than I should playing the Auction House. It's an addiction!
Thanks, Jeff. Best of luck spreading the geek love!
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- neither did we, until we talked with these players. From an Oscar-winning 3-D effects director to a custom action figure hobbyist, read about them on 15 Minutes of Fame.