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John and Hank Green celebrate nerds

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John and Hank Green are just two nerdy 30-something brothers who happen to make video blogs to each other.

They also happen to have performed a sold out show at Carnegie Hall this past Tuesday called An Evening of Awesome.

The show was marketed as a celebration of the one-year anniversary of the publication of John Green’s most recent and most celebrated novel, “The Fault in Our Stars,” but it was about so much more. “The Fault in Our Stars,” a novel about two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group, has garnered awards and praise from all corners of Green’s readership; TIME magazine named it the best fiction book of 2012. With three books currently on the New York Times young adult best-sellers list and a Printz award and nomination under his belt, John Green is something of a rock star in the young adult literature scene.

After an introduction from the Green brothers, the show began with a reading from “The Fault in Our Stars” by Ashley Clemens and Daniel Gordh, stars of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a video blog adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” produced by Hank Green and Bernie Su.
“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is the most recent project to join the ranks of the multitude of others that Hank Green has created: DFTBA Records, a record label for YouTube musicians; VidCon, an annual online video convention in Los Angeles; 2-D glasses, for those who get headaches from 3-D movies; the list goes on and on.
Oh, and he’s a musician with three full-length albums.

This blend of John’s and Hank’s work that continued throughout the old-fashioned-style variety show exemplified everything that the brothers are about: creativity, collaboration and enthusiasm.

Musical performances from Hank Green, Kimya Dawson and The Mountain Goats were interspersed with reader’s theater from John Green’s books and a question-and-answer session. The night also thrilled the audience with surprise guests Neil Gaiman, best-selling author of novels, comic books, television and more, and Hannah Hart, host of the popular web series “My Drunk Kitchen,” both of whom entered the stage to thunderous applause.

John Green gave a speech near the beginning of the night about how he came to write “The Fault in Our Stars” and why he thinks stories and literature are so important. As he said, “This is what I love about novels. They jump into the abyss to be with you where you are.”

Meanwhile, Hank Green performed a song about anglerfish and the philosophical resonance of human solitude.  Earlier in the night, when asked, “When do you feel like a real adult?” he responded, “Hopefully, you never will.”
The audience loved it all.

The beyond-enthusiastic community surrounding John and Hank Green stems from their video blogs, which began as a project in 2007 for the brothers to keep in touch. Clearly, it has exploded far beyond that, as their Vlogbrothers channel currently has more than 900,000 subscribers and the Evening of Awesome was watched at more than 100 live stream events across the world.

This community, which calls itself Nerdfighters (they fight for nerds, not against them), has collaborated through online video and offline events to create everything from the Evil Baby Orphanage card game to the Project for Awesome, a sort of YouTube holiday that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities.

Nerdfighters celebrate enthusiasm and nerdy-ness. Most importantly, they do this together in collaboration, something both John and Hank Green emphasized during the Evening of Awesome. Both of them repeatedly stated their awe and gratitude to be performing at Carnegie Hall, and their humility only endears them more in the minds and hearts of their many fans.

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