When it came time to talk to a celebrity about the convention experience we couldn’t think of anyone better than veteran TV & voice actor Jason Marsden. Best known for his role on hit shows like Full House, Boy Meets World, and as the voice of Disney’s Max Goof and Thackery Binx in the movie Hocus Pocus (to name a few), Jason has been a guest at many cons so we spoke with him to get his unique perspective on fandom and the convention experience.
What was the first convention you ever went to as an attendee, and did you go for a specific reason?
I was a big fan of Quantum Leap and they had a one day event at the Universal Hilton. I was working on Eerie Indiana at the time and one of our stand-ins was also a “Leaper” and we went together. We were late, so we didn’t get to see Scott Bakula, but we were present for the producers panels which was very exciting. Comparative to events I’ve attended since, this one was modest in size. One panel hall and the rest of the area utilized for vending. I’d never seen anything like it.
What was the first convention you attended as a celebrity guest?
I can’t remember the year, maybe 2002, I “invited myself” to appear at a Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. At the time, I had heard that if you did even a small appearance on any Trek show and were willing to pay for your travel and hotel, you could join the fun. I had guested on DS9 as a Ferengi (best 13 hour days of my life! SO much fun!) and wanted to be in celebration with other actors and fans. Get a taste of that Con-life. I remember sitting next to Alan Ruck, who seemingly knew who I was! That was a thrill.
Do you recall your first time signing an autograph for a fan?
When I had started in the biz, I was 12 years young. My first big recurring gig was playing an “Alan Quartermain. Jr.” on “General Hospital”. After a few episodes I started receiving trickles of fan mail. My mother would read them first (no pervs) and if they were aok, turn ’em over to me. I would sign my headshot “best wishes” as I thought all actors did, and send them on as gratitude for the kind words.
How may conventions have you attended and what was the biggest yet? What’s been the farthest you’ve traveled from home for a con?
Ok, I actually went back and counted and I think I’m at about 60+ pop culture events…and counting. The furthest I’ve traveled for a con was OZCon in Australia, I want to say 2012. The fine folks Down Under brought me out twice. Each trip was a multi-city event; Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide. I absolutely LOVED those experiences!
What the craziness/wildest thing that’s happened to you during a fan interaction at a con?
Depends on what you would consider crazy and wild. Most of the interactions I have with fans are amazing! I’ve had fans perform for me; do voices/impressions. I remember one guy doing the entire choreography for “Eye to Eye” (from A Goofy Movie). One interaction that stands out (no pun intended), was a young gentleman who wanted me to take a picture with a custom Kovu (Lion King 2) plush doll, which he had fashioned a giant mane using chunks of his own hair! I couldn’t touch it. Was polite about it. Sir, if you happen to be reading this, I hope you understand.
Is there any advice you’d give convention attendees on any do’s and Don’ts when at a celebrity table?
For me, just be yourself. I’m just as excited to meet you as you are to meet me. I love the stories you share and the kind words expressed. The ONLY reason I’m invited to events at all is because of the fans. So it means SO much when people choose to come to visit me at my table. I will offer however, be careful of over-sharing. Don’t be an energy vampire, know when the interaction has come to a close, be considerate of the person waiting behind you. Consent is sexy, please ask before hugging. And I know I’m adorable (being a whopping 5′ 1″ tall), but please PLEASE do NOT pick me up.
You’re getting involved in a con this year correct? Tell us about that and how the experience has been so far on the other side of the table, any hard lessons learned yet?
To be clear, I’m helping produce an event this year. The fine folk at Incredible Conventions invited me to be the “Boots on the Ground” guy in Nashville, TN as that is where I reside. I’ve always been fascinated by the infrastructure of live events, from music fests to conventions. Working behind the scenes is something that has always been of interest for me. So far I’ve learned that there is SO much more to consider than meets the eye. Things I would never have though about, beyond finding a venue, do they offer chairs? Do they offer pipe and drape? If not, do they have a deal with a company who does? Insurance concerns. Personalities of Celebrity Talent representatives, vendors. Mapping out the show floor. There is SO much. Having a seasoned Captain and a loyal team is paramount. In my observations, ALL Pop Cons are the same. There’s the Celeb Guests, there’s panels, there’s cosplay, there’s merch…but depending on the team running the show can completely affect the tone and outcome. Nashville Comicon’s inaugural year will bring all the usual fun and a few surprises. I think having someone like myself who has done so many Cons and LOVES doing cons, and has produced live shows before will help to create a fun Con environment. To me, the focus and most important part of any Convention are the Attendees. Who I affectionately refer to as the real Guests!
Aside from acting and conventions what other projects take up your time?
Speaking of producing shows…I have a web series on YouTube called The Mars Variety Show (please “Like” and “Subscribe”), inspired by the classic variety shows of the 60s and 70s and designed to showcase the indie musician and stand up comedian here in Nashville and beyond. I also host and produce other live events around town. This August, the local Tomato Arts Festival is giving me a stage to do with what I wish, so I’ll be proudly curating a day of music and fun that weekend. Other than that, f’ing off on Fortnite and taking my son, Clark, to as many Escape Games as we can handle!