Comic Conned

Hollywood Hayes

Should I stay or should I go?

Daily conundrum I’ve been having in LA for the past five or six years (time flies when you’re being dumb).

Stay at home or go to this event and see how it goes. Event in question this time was Comic Con in San Diego, specifically the new Star Trek movie premiere that was going on. My buddy Sofia was one of the main stars in it and had invited me along. I had said yeah but that was a couple of weeks ago and then I forgot because I was busy and also I’m a clown and plus LA makes you flakey so saying yes to an event is just what people do here.

Anyway, now it was the day of the premiere and I had just remembered. Problem was I remembered while backstage at a daytime TV chat show that my buddy Kai Elle was about to appear on to sing her song Carry On (featuring Robbie Williams, classic tune, check it out, thank you).

I’m chatting with Kai’s publicist and make up lady who are talking about Star Trek and I casually mention I was invited to the premiere and they both ask when it is and I say in about six hours time and they ask why I’m here and not there and I say I don’t know sure I still have time San Diego is about three hours away and I wasn’t sure if I was going to go but they both tell me to stop being a clown and I should definitely go.

So I panic. And run out of the TV studio. And decide I’m going to Comic Con.

Few problems:

My car is in the garage. I’m originally meant to be going down with a buddy Adam Fergus but he’s stuck in Toronto filming a TV show and wasn’t going to make it back in time. So he can’t drive us down either. And now I’m in an Uber driving home to my place. Trying to figure out the best way to go down to Comic Con. I’ll rent a car.

So I book a car through Enterprise. Happy days. Drive down. Suss it out. Maybe stay down there but Comic Con is mental, about 150,000 people head to San Diego for a few days, at a big convention centre doing nerd stuff like talk about comics and movies about comics while dressed up as wizards and elves and avatars and all the rest. Basically finding a hotel last minute probably won’t happen but I’ll figure it out when I get down there. As a wise old man once said: Era sure, you’ll be graaaand.

Home. Change. Premiere clothes? Shirt. Pants. Boots. Done. Dance on. Comic Con here I dumb!

Uber to Enterprise close by: Hi, I’m here to pick up the car I reserved.

“Sure thing. Oh. One problem. We don’t have any more cars available.”


“No more cars. We double booked the last reservation and now they’re all gone.”

But. What. Why. Ugh. Balls.

Superb system. So I’m defeated it seems. No way down. Unless I get someone to come with me. Hmm. Who’s about?

Text a buddy, Sunkrish. Actor. On the TV show Castle. But that’s done. He’s a spontaneous man. Perhaps he’ll come. Beep beep. Reply: Shooting a movie. No can do. Balls. Again. Tells me I should definitely go though, it will be an unreal event.

So now I want to really go but have no way. Mulling who else might be around and can go at the drop of a hat. Richard Lewis? Tells me to leave him alone. Nice. My buddy Steve? He has an improv show. Dose. No one seems to be around last minute. No one I want to spend three hours driving there and three hours driving back with anyway.

Text Adam telling him I can’t go either. He replies saying it’s bad form neither of us are going to show up for Sofia’s big movie premiere. True. Now I’m riddled with guilt. Did she just invite the two of us? She’ll be all alone on the red carpet. That’s bad, I’m some bad man. Unless. Happen to be strolling past the garage where my car is getting a check up. Pop in.

I know you said it’s not ready for a few days because you’re ordering a part but could I take it and bring it back tomorrow? Still drivable, isn’t it?

Mechanic shrugs “Yeah. You can drive it still.”

Three hours max to San Diego, I was told, two and a half if traffic is grand. Google Maps tells me four hours. Apparently leaving at 3.45 in the evening isn’t an ideal time. At least I should still get there in time for the premiere, starts at 8PM. Drive on!

So I drive. And it’s gridlock. And I’m bored. And I’m wondering if I’m going to end up sleeping in my car or driving back or what. And I’m driving. And it’s gridlock. And it takes me about four and a half hours to get down. Handy. Another half an hour to find parking. Only $50. Very handy. I’m out of my car about 8.45.

Missed the premiere.

Doors shut at 8.00 sharp.

This is great. I’m the best.

Great call.

At least there’s the after party. I’ll explain to Sofia all the woes and apologise that she had to do the red carpet solo and say at least I made it down for the after party. That’s sound, right.

So I stroll around San Diego for a while. Place is packed with people out hunting Pokemon. Some dressed up in cosplay (costumes of some nature), some dressed normal. Notice a lot of beautiful girls are on the arms of guys who are 100% homeless. Maybe this could be my kind of town, I have the look.

Try to go check out the after party, which is meant to start at 10.30. But no one’s there. And no one’s being left in. And now I’m tired. Drive drained me. Weak man.

Chug some Red Bull. Stroll and notice the hoards of nerds still hunting Pokemon. Are you allowed to call people nerds without them getting offended? I feel as someone who used to do applied maths and got a rush when I got a sum right, I can call people nerds because I used to kind of be one too.

Who even knows what a nerd is these days, though? Beautiful people in LA love to call themselves nerds, based on the fact they saw a Harry Potter movie, almost once bought a book and now wear fake, non-prescription glasses. Shh. You’ve been a model all your life. You’re not a nerd. Am I as bad as them? Perhaps. Who knows? I’ve just been walking around the same streets waiting for this after party to begin.

Eventually around 11.30 they say I can go in. Rooftop of the Hard Rock Hotel. I’m the first there. Real cool. Chatting to the wait staff. Telling me about the premiere, how they wish they could’ve gone. It was outdoors and big fireworks and Conan O’Brien was the host for the night and an orchestra was playing the score live as the movie was on and apparently it was the hottest ticket in town and I missed it. But I did notice the fireworks as I drove into San Diego, so that was nice.

At least I had some nice chicken while I waited for the party to fill up. Free food and booze, handy handy. Slick set up too, purple and blue lit pool, views of downtown San Diego, beautiful women serving drinks, shaping up to be a proper A-list party. Except that Muggins here was the only one there so far.

Finally people filled in. I was in the bathroom when I heard the mill of people and next thing I know Idris Elba is using the urinal next to me. I tell him “I’m black Irish” and give him a wink. Nice little story for him to tell his grandkids one day, no doubt. Starting strolling around looking for Sofia. She had texted me before the movie saying she wouldn’t have her phone on her but find her at the party. No sign though. Kind of dark in the party too so I had to go up to groups of people peering at their faces to double check she wasn’t with them.

These parties are weird. Unless you’re a star or a main attraction you’re kind of demoted to the lower classes by other partygoers. Women walk by checking you out, scanning your face before realizing, Nope he’s not famous or in the movie, not worth talking to. So that’s nice.

Still no sign of Sofia.

Row of cabanas outside reserved for the stars and the director JJ Abrahms. I’m like, I know those people know Sofia because she’s a star of the movie too, so let me go ask them if they know where she is.

So I creep over by the cabanas. Stopped by a waitress who asks if I want a drink. Eh. No thanks. Still not sure if I’m staying so not going to booze with the car. She rolls her eyes, fake smiles, sulks away having not gotten a tip from me.

Realise now I’m in the heart of celeb cabana territory though. I’m standing between Idris Elba and Cristian Slater. Three of us, shoulder to shoulder. And you know what, I think I was the best looking of the lot (Idris was in shorts and Christian was going a bit bald).

Anyway, I’m bouncing shoulders, asking them both, See Sofia? Sofia, any sign? Soooofiiiaaaa? They haven’t seen her. I ask Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk. Sofia? Around here somewhere, he tells me. Simon Pegg strolls by. Sofia? Maybe over there, he nods. JJ Abrahms next to me. How’s it going JJ?

By now I’m just telling them all I thought the movie was great (even though, you know, I didn’t see it). Tough to tell JJ Abrahms I missed it and go into my whole car and traffic story so it was easier just to say, “Yeah, it was great, I liked the… ship and alien bits” when he asked what I thought of the movie.

Told him he looked a bit more like a GG than a JJ. Not sure if he got it. He looked at me. Silently. Then walked away. Classic GG.

Chatting with Simon Pegg. Tell him that I was a big fan of his show Spaced. I’ve never seen it. No clue why that lie popped out of my mouth. Maybe all the Red Bull and chicken in me had me jacked up all weird. Just spouting out gibberish.

“You know, Simon, my first book and your first book were neck and neck in the charts on Amazon Humour before for first place and mine beat yours I think and have you seen Sofia? By the way, are we best friends now?”

He laughs nervously, backs away. Classic Simon move.

Finally I see Sofia. Thank God. Found her. She must’ve been all alone and too shy to come out to the party until she was sure I showed up- Hold up. Actually. She has about eight other friends with her. Oh yeah, I’ve met this group of buddies before in LA. They all came down to support Sofia too. They made it in time. They saw the movie.

Oh right. Sofia probably wouldn’t really have cared if I came down or not. Handy.

By now it’s about 1AM. Chat with Sofia. Chat with the buddies. Have a laugh. But no one is really boozing or sure what’s going on. The stars and main attractions are slinking off. Showed the face. In and out. I’m not boozing. Decided I’ll just drive back. No umpfh in me. Well, this was fun.

Say my goodbyes. Back to my car. 2AM. Google maps telling me 2 hour and 20 minute drive home. Not too bad. Chug one more Red Bull. Drive on.

And that was that. Great Comic Con trip. Highly recommend it.

Driving home, about twenty minutes outside San Diego, I notice my car chugging a bit. Odd. Hear a whirring. Odder. No clue what was really wrong, some cocker spaniel part needed but not vital, maybe the cherry clutch needed oil. No clue about cars. Too busy doing applied maths back in school to have a clue about them. Not a fan of the chug or the whirring though. I know, I’ll just turn up my radio and drown the noise out.

Two minutes later, something sounds like it erupts.

Car shuts down.

I’m on a freeway.

Manage to pull into a hard shoulder.

Pitch black.

Middle of nowhere.

My phone is about to die.

No charger. Car dead.

Freak out. Scream at the top of my lungs NOOOOOOOOOOOO into the roof of my dead car, Wrath of Khan style (I think this reference is correct, I used to read Star Trek books growing up but my memory’s foggy).

Phone AAA. Tells me it could cost $1200 to tow my car home (7 miles free, charge per mile after that, still 120 miles from home).

Eh, no thank you. Haggle the tow guy down. He’ll do it for $200 when he gets off work in six hours. Nice one, my very large, yellow vested, Mexican saviour named Angel.

No clue where I am. Angel tows me to a strip mall parking lot. Advises me to stay at the front of the car park as “I might get robbed or raped if I’m hidden in the back”. Assures me he’ll be back around 8 or 9.

Fun six hours sitting in my car wondering if either of those things were going to happen.

Ever try to sleep in a two-seater car? Not great.

Worst night I’ve had in a while.

But at least Angel returned at 9.30. For some reason he had no t-shirt on this time, just an open yellow vest showing off his huge hairy moobs. My saviour. Some man.

Took three hours to tow me home but we made it.

All in all, with car repairs and the likes, I think the trip cost me about $1500. So yeah, definitely recommend Comic Con to anyone who’s interested. Go on!

Mark Hayes is a comedian and author of three books including RanDumb, which was #1 on Amazon Humour. He can be found on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram @trickaduu and on

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