Crowdfunding kick starts ‘The Geek Show’



Cofounder Aaron Amendola said things like dressing in Medieval garb and a love of Harry Potter can bring unity among nerd culture.

By Arts & Culture

There is now a free haven for nerds to gather and discuss their favorite things, thanks to a crowdfunding effort that has  raised more than $3,000.

“The Geek Show,” which takes place every other month at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., is a “nerd culture” talk show put on by VStheUNIVERSE, a niche multimedia company. Each show has a theme, with past ones focusing on Halloween and dragons.

Aaron Amendola, the cofounder of VStheUNIVERSE, said the desire to form the collective came from wanting to see media that reflected his own interests.

As a musical theater fan, Amendola said many musicals focused on universal concepts like relationship problems, but he ultimately wanted to do programming about things like “Doctor Who” or “Star Wars.”

The Kickstarter campaign will fund the six “Geek Shows” between December 2015 and December 2016, allowing them to be free to the public. Amendola said potential themes for the upcoming year include a “Harry Potter” event, in which attendees would dress up and be sorted into the “houses” that comprise Hogwarts, Potter’s school, in the series.

Cofounder Chris Chapin added that each founding member—Amendola, himself and Sam Begich—contributes something different to the production.

“It’s totally [like] ‘The Legend of Zelda’ [triforce],” Amendola said. “We’ve been able to take on different parts of projects.”

VStheUNIVERSE also produces content for YouTube, the group’s original platform, where it shares sketches and videos with more than 400 subscribers. In September, the collective started a podcast called “Panels on Channels,” hosted by Chapin, which covers comic books turning  into television shows. 

According to Amendola, the podcast came along when they realized they could take things they enjoyed and turn them into art for other like-minded people to enjoy. 

“I really wanted to do a podcast,” Chapin added. “Aaron [Amendola] was like ‘Oh, lets just make that into a podcast.’”

The founders said their goal moving forward is to make sure nerds from all over can be involved, saying one actress wanted to be involved in their shows but was not able to be in Chicago for programs and rehearsals.

 “We said ‘So you live in Seattle, so what? We’ll help you from across the country,’” Amendola said. “It’s being inclusive, but it’s also empowering people to believe they can do whatever they want to do.”

Chapin added VStheUNIVERSE believes the creators must make an effort to be inclusive because they themselves often felt excluded.

“I was very studious in many things,” Chapin said. “The people I hung out with weren’t nerdy in the traditional sense…. In the last three or four years, I have been able to be part of a pretty awesome community we helped create.”

Amendola said people who have the same interests should be united, without shooing people away for things like sexual orientation or religion. Part of VStheUNIVERSE’s goal is to continually unite people who enjoy “nerd culture.”

“I don’t think we’re perfect by any means, but we’re trying,”Amendola said. “Hopefully, we just keep getting better.”