February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

‘Nerdfighters’ Sell Out Carnegie Hall to See John and Hank Green Plus Special Guests

Photo credit: Andrea Fischman.

New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall has hosted thousands of legendary performers since it opened in 1891, from the New York Philharmonic to jazz greats Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday to modern notables Isaac Stern and Renée Fleming. Joining their ranks this week? John Green—the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska (Dutton, 2005), An Abundance of Katherines (Dutton, 2006), and Paper Towns (Dutton, 2008)and his brother Hank Green, who took to the stage on Tuesday to entertain over 2,800 fans. “An Evening of Awesome,” featuring numerous special guests, was also lived-streamed to sites around the country through a special partnership with Tumblr.

Photo credit: Andrea Fischman.

The much-anticipated and hyped event was part of a 17-city tour celebrating the first anniversary of Green’s most recent bestselling YA fiction book, The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012); the tour has sold over 11,300 tickets.

For the uninitiated, the Green brothers are also known for their popular YouTube video blog series Vlogbrothers, which has close to a million subscribers. Passionate fans of the series, who call themselves “nerdfighters,” are so numerous and so well organized that they have created their own online social networking group to, as they declare,  “increase awesome and decrease suck.”

“It brought to life the Nerdfighter community,” says Elazar Nudell, 30, of the site. Nudell traveled all the way from Springfield, MA, to attend the sold-out event along with Max Schnaper, 21, and Sasha Zacharia, 21.

However, most of the live audience at Carnegie Hall was comprised of teenage girls.

“John Green understands teen girls,” 17-year-old Samantha from Merrick, NY, tells School Library Journal. She feels that Green’s books helped her during a troubling time in her life. “He made me realize that how I felt was OK.”

Her schoolmate, 16-year-old Johanna, claims that the author encouraged her to be a thoughtful person. While waiting for the show to begin, Johanna read to Sam from a book by her other favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut.

The evening was part rock concert, part author and literary reading, and part talk show.

Shouts of  “We love you!” rang out through the hall as the tuxedo-clad duo took the stage. John entertained the audience with a monologue about his life and work. He told them, “My life is like a very long Emily Dickinson poem.”

Hank sang songs of his own composition on such topics as Helen Hunt, Harry Potter, and Quarks. Grammy-winning musician and former member of The Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson, and the folk rock band The Mountain Goats also performed during the evening.

Later, Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh, actors in the The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Web series developed by Hank Green, appeared to do a dramatic reading from The Fault in Our Star. The night’s special guests also were on hand to perform a Readers Theater scene from Paper Towns.

The surprise guest of the evening was Neil Gaiman. The award-winning author of The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008), participated in the Q&A portion of the evening, asking John Green such questions and queries as “Where do people go when they die?” (“Narnia,” interjected Hank) and “Describe yourself in three words,” to which John finally agreed on Handsome, Awesome, and Tallafter some prompting from Hank, Neil, and the audience.  Also during the Q&A, Hank Green admitted to having a crush on his high school English teacher.

During the event, Carnegie Hall became a trending topic on Twitter; already by noon on Wednesday there were more than 35,000 additional views of the event and 18,000 comments. Additional meetups around this event are scheduled for upcoming days; a schedule can be found here.

“This Year” singalong. Photo credit: Andrea Fischman.

For additional photos of this event from School Library Journal, check out our Tumblr feed!

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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