We’re All in This Together: 10 Years of Starkid
If you read this blog, you’re probably familiar with A Very Potter Musical, or, as I like to think of it, the funniest, smartest, most heartwarming piece of fan art of all time. What you might not realize, though, is that since the show premiered on YouTube in July of 2009, Starkid has grown into a fully-fledged theatre company that’s produced eleven full-length comedy musicals (all of which are available on YouTube) and is currently working on its twelth, which is due to open this October.
Being the tenth anniversary of A Very Potter Musical and Starkid’s inception, this year marks a huge milestone for them, but also for us, their fans. I’ve been following Starkid since the beginning. I watch the shows the moment they come out, I buy the soundtracks and listen religiously, and I have been known to launch into convoluted but exuberant explanations of the chronology of their works to anyone who loves me enough to pretend to listen. I even follow their careers outside of Starkid, everything from sketch comedy groups to planetariums to Buzzfeed.
Despite the fact that Starkid is one of my few years-long, literally life-changing nerd loves, I often have a hard time articulating to other people just why their work is so meaningful to me. But, in light of this anniversary, I’m going to try to put it into words.
One of the most notable things about Starkid’s musicals and everything else they’ve made, is that when you’re watching them, it’s impossible not to realize just how much they’re exactly what the creators wanted to make—there’s not the clear commercial influence a lot of our other favorite media has. Their shows are a series of very specific (and musical) inside jokes about the fandoms we (nerds) all love. When watching and listening to their stuff, you get the distinct sense that this is for us (again, nerds) and not them (people who wouldn’t find a washed-up Anakin Skywalker telling bad Star Wars knock-knock jokes funny). In other words, we’re all in this together.*
So, there’s the fact that the Starkids are themselves members of the larger geek community. But also, they’re just really good at what they do. The jokes, the characters, and the plotlines that make up their shows are some of the funniest and most clever I’ve ever encountered. Like, they are brilliant artists, and it’s one of my favorite things in this world to introduce new people to their stuff. I’ve actually been trying to decide which show to recommend to y’all in this post and, I have to admit, I’m having trouble. They’re all so good. But, I’m rewatching their Aladdin/Disney parody, Twisted, while writing this and, you guessed it, it’s brilliant. Watch it if you haven’t, and then watch all the others.
The last thing I want to point about Starkid is that their production style is very DIY. As far as I know, and I’m pretty sure I’m right about this, none of the Starkids are supporting themselves making these musicals and posting them on YouTube. And while in a ideal world I’d, of course, want them to be able to, this reality means that the reason they continue making new works is because they want to, because they love this medium and this community. Like, take the origin story of A Very Potter Musical, for example. As I’ve heard them tell it, at the time, most of them were theatre kids at the University of Michigan and had not been cast in that semester’s show. It was a bummer, but they decided to invest that time instead into creating a Harry Potter parody musical for fun. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s a line of thinking that we here at GeekGirlCon can, like, spiritually relate to. And then everyone loved it! And it became an internet sensation! That’s what something as huge and transcendent as the Harry Potter fandom can do. And, since then, they’ve just gotten better at what they do. It’s been such a joy to bear witness to their growth as artists, and I hope they continue finding the time and energy to continue making things.
If you’re nerdy enough to think critically about what it means to be a nerd, you know that it’s not what we love but how we love it. It’s a gripping, visceral thing. That’s how I love Starkid, and it’s cool to feel that love for something that’s not quite as one-sided as a lot of our media is. I don’t know the Starkids, but I’m proud of them, I’m rooting for them, and I know that they’re participating in this fandom too. In the case of most of the art I love, I love it because it’s a story that means a lot to me and affects the way I think and interact with the world. But the story of Starkid isn’t the plot of A Very Potter Musical or Starship or The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, but the story of how a group of friends made something bigger than themselves and shared it with the world. I don’t know about you, but there’s very little I find more admirable and inspirational than that. Here’s to ten more totally awesome awesome years!
*Yeah, I’m making a reference to all of the High School Musical references in A Very Potter Musical—I couldn’t resist!