Ok, first of all, not that there was any question about this: Philly. Is. Awesome! This event had so much energy and diversity and was just all-around spectacular. Grue & Bleen’s CEO Josh Silverbauer and CCO Pete DiLorenzo had the honor of presenting the award for Multimedia Project of the Year. But we won’t get ahead of ourselves. Let’s take it back a step to recap our entire experience at the 2017 Philly Geek Awards.
The Philly Geek Awards were started seven years ago by Geekadelphia, and in 2016, Technical.ly and Generosity joined in. The ceremony is a celebration of outstanding achievements in Philadelphia’s vibrant geek community. As we watched our peers present and receive awards, we couldn’t help but be proud that our city strives to equally recognize people of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities, with creativity and curiosity being the uniting forces that binds us.
In most of the tech scene, “dressing to impress” means wearing khakis and not getting meatballs on your shirt during lunch. As this was a black tie affair, we started our journey at Men’s Warehouse to pick up some dapper new dinner jackets and pocket squares. But because was the GEEK Awards, we knew we needed an element of cosplay or nerdium, so we slapped on a Batman baseball cap and a Superman undershirt. We hopped in an event-sponsored Lyft and mosied on over to String Theory School, where the event was being hosted.
String Theory School felt like the perfect venue to host this eclectic event. With massive rooms and a full theater, this place felt more like a museum than a high school. We learned some cool facts, like that they brew their own coffee. What a cool, geeky thing to do.
First up, rehearsal! As I mentioned, Pete was wearing a Superman undershirt as part of our bit, inspired by our co-presenters, Iron Max & his sister Zoe. The gag was simple—Josh would mention that we had the honor to present our award with a legendary, real-life superhero, and Pete would think Josh was referring to him. Pete would then rip off his custom-made, velcro tuxedo shirt to reveal the Superman shirt beneath. This would not impress Josh (or the audience), and then Josh would throw the spotlight back to Iron Max. More on the success of the bit later.
We shuffled and bustled into the auditorium where Mikey Ilagan, Editor-in-Chief of Geekadelphia, and Christopher Wink, CEO of Technically Media, were setting the stage for the night. Nextfab, Philly’s collaborative makerspace, designed one-of-a-kind awards for the event. We all excitedly rehearsed the correct pronunciations of our nominees’ names. Once the final rehearsal was complete, we went out to the one-part social, two-parts funky, three-parts sciency cocktail hour.
After grabbing a couple of Philly’s own Yard’s Brawlers, we explored all of the interesting exhibits Philly Geek Awards brought into the venue to set itself apart from any other awards event. We headed over to The Franklin Institute booth, where they were serving up liquid nitrogen animal crackers that make you appear to be a fire-breathing dragon (well, more like a smoke-exhaling human, but we just watched Game of Thrones, so that’s some much better imagery).
After breathing fire out of our noses, we headed to Philly’s Favorite Photobooth, Photobooth 3000 for some very casual and natural photos.
We then headed to the cosplay contest signup hosted by Philly’s news platform Billy Penn. Unfortunately, our Batman hat and Superman undershirt were just not versatile enough for a full-out cosplay contest. But there were some other excellent outfits out there, so we didn’t feel too bad about not going full-geek. Next, we headed over to the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion exhibit. This brand-new museum features some seriously creepy crawlers with both the world’s largest centipede and millipede. The centipede is so venomous, it can only be touched with a metal object as it can eject deadly venom. On a less scary note, they had this little guy—the Macleay’s Spectre, a large stick insect from Australia, who’s a fascinating example of adaptation. His camouflage makes him nearly indistinguishable from its leafy home. He looked kinda like if you were to make an origami bug out of a leaf, and boy, did he like to dance!
There were a few more awesome-looking exhibits, but we had to make our way to to the auditorium as Philly Geek Awards were about to begin!
The show was kicked off by Ilagan and Wink, along with a kickass video introduction by Steve Rivera. Everyone in the audience was there to laugh, support, acknowledge, and love. The vibe of the auditorium was inclusive and spirited. We watched as presenter after presenter gave out awards to truly remarkable innovators.
There were quite a handful of nominees and presenters, so we won’t go into everyone here. (But head on over to Technically Philly for a full list of nominees and winners!) We were in charge of presenting the Multimedia Project of the year. Our nominee group consisted of three remarkable projects.
Continue? - A sketch show on youtube that stars friends Paul Ritchey, Nick Murphey, and Josh Henderson sitting down to play old school video games. After 30 minutes, they have to decide if they want to stop playing or keep going (i.e. continue?)
Curiosity 180 - Let’s Talk About It! - In 180 seconds or less, these animated shorts help viewers explore big questions such as “how big is the universe?” or “how does the internet work?” Created and narrated by game developers from Jumpbutton Studios, the series is a huge hit on YouTube.
Hi-Res Podcast - Designer Ryan Starr hosts an interview-style podcast featuring Philadelphia designers, illustrators, photographers, and creatives telling stories about their experiences.
We did our bit and it flowed great! The audience roared of laughter when Pete revealed his Superman shirt. Roared, I tell ya!
Iron Max did his digital appearance and then threw it back to the “Totally Fake Superheroes” (us). We then announced the nominees...and the winner goes to…
Curiosity 180 - Let’s Talk About It! 20 year old, Nicodemus Madehdou of Jumpbutton Studios, jumped up (pun intended) onstage. He was nervous but humbled as he accepted the award. After his moving acceptance, we posed for pictures and graciously left the stage.
We watched the rest of the presenters, nominees, and winners with glee (our part was over—relaxation time!) Notable presenters included Kid Hazo making trumpet sounds, Kennedy Allen coining the term #BlaxeThrowing, and Phil Khan announcing breakfast cereal like Ed McMahon.
Finally, after a rousing hour and a half of award presentations and celebrations, the sought-after title of Geek of the Year was given to Marion Leary, the University of Pennsylvania professor who helped lead the March for Science in Philadelphia this year. We actually met her back when Josh and Pete’s band, The Really Cooks, played The March for Science. What amazing connections and people this city has.
The awards were over, but not before one last picture with the entire group of presenters, nominees, and producers. Dang, we look good!
Afterwards, everyone headed out to the main room where night sponsor Comcast provided some journals to further our creative endeavors. We enjoyed one last snack hour with yummy Philly Geek Award cupcakes, munchkins, and ice-cream before leaving for the after-party.
We headed over to The Trestle Inn, Philly’s Whiskey and Go Go bar for some Philly Geek Night whiskey sours and dancing. And boy, what a scene! Men and women in half-tux, half-cosplay outfits roll into a underground half-dive, half-disco bar with the night ahead of them! And dance we did.
All in all, the Philly Geek Awards brought a night of laughs, celebrations, and innovation. Coming together as one to celebrate the collective growth of our city while acknowledging the people and ideas which are helping to shape it really helps us understand why Philly is so special. Because the people make it that way.