Videos: Sue Bird, Rainn Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and The Drunken Tenor make surprise appearances at the 2021 GeekWire Awards
Cameo appearances and entertainers at the 2021 GeekWire Awards included, clockwise from top left, Sue Bird, Rainn Wilson, The Drunken Tenor and Bobby Wagner. (GeekWire video screen grabs)
What do a “drunken” opera singer, NFL linebacker, women’s pro basketball star and comic actor all have in common? They’re all geeks at heart and they joined us Thursday to help celebrate the 2021 GeekWire Awards.
Assigned once again to a virtual world, we enlisted the help of our singing, sporting, Dwight Schruting friends via video to rattle off the names of the Awards finalists, offer congratulations for everyone’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, and motivate them to keep finding ways to improve the world through tech and science.
The Drunken Tenor returned this year to sing his way around Seattle and back to Pacific Science Center, the virtual home base for this year’s Awards. Seattle Storm star and WNBA legend Sue Bird took time away from video games (barely) to give a pep talk. Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl champ Bobby Wagner dropped by to let our audience know he’s interested in working together down the road. And Rainn Wilson, “The Office” star with Seattle roots, shared a bit of his hometown geek cred with his props and singing chops.
Check out the videos:
Grammy Award-winning Metropolitan Opera tenor Robert McPherson, who is affectionately known as The Drunken Tenor, is back this year for another dizzying display of his musical talents.
Scurrying around Seattle Benny Hill style as part of his operatic rundown of the more than 65 GeekWire Awards finalists, McPherson makes appearances at a number of locations and landmarks, including Pacific Science Center, Gas Works Park, West Seattle, T-Mobile Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, the Fremont Troll, and the Hammering Man. He even masks up for a quick Starbucks stop.
McPherson, who performs for the Seattle Opera, runs through some of the nominees while standing outside the organization’s home at McCaw Hall. He then dashes across Seattle Center to the Pacific Science Center, home of this year’s virtual awards presentation.
It’s there that McPherson meets up with GeekWire chairman Jonathan Sposato — no singing slouch himself — who is carrying a bunch of balloons in celebration of GeekWire’s 10-year anniversary.
To keep the celebration going, McPherson and Sposato do a “Happy Anniversary” duet like a couple crooners worthy of swooning while Zooming.
Sue Bird knows a thing or two — or four — about winning. The star point guard for the Seattle Storm has helped the team win multiple WNBA titles, including in 2020, and she’s back for an 18th season and another run at a championship.
“This area is home to so many champion organizations, not just in sports, but across the tech landscape as well,” Bird said. “I know firsthand how hard it is to win, when the odds are stacked against you.”
Holding up one hand, Bird wiggled her four sparkling championship rings.
“You don’t get four of these babies without a lot of hard work and a great team surrounding you.”
Bird congratulated all of the winners and said to enjoy the moment, before adding, “Let’s be honest — nobody likes a one and done, right? So keep finding ways to improve, because that just makes everyone around you better.”
And even though she’s won titles in four of her 17 seasons in Seattle, the 13 times when she didn’t win motivated Bird to work harder to perfect her craft. She encouraged those who didn’t win a GeekWire Award to use it as motivation — “to keep innovating, to keep growing.”
Bird signed off with “a really important game” that she needed to get to as she picked up an NES controller and put on her best (video)game face.
Seattle Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner has tackled his fair share of tough opponents in his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career. Now he’s taking on a side career in tech and venture capital as a partner at Fuse Venture Partners, a newly-formed VC firm that’s investing in early-stage Seattle entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas.
“I, like you, am trying to tackle something new,” Wagner said in a message to GeekWire Awards participants. Holding up a football, he added, “Not this tackle, but the world of VC. It’s something I’m extremely excited about.”
Wagner said he hoped to “cross paths” with the innovators and entrepreneurs being celebrated on Thursday night.
Again, let’s hope that’s in the world of tech, because crossing paths with Wagner during his job on Sundays would probably hurt. A lot.
Actor Rainn Wilson is best known as one of TV’s biggest geeks for his role as Dwight Schrute on “The Office.” But rather than drop by the GeekWire Awards and show off his extensive knowledge of bears, beets and “Battlestar Galactica,” Wilson instead touted his ties to the region.
“Hey! GeekWire. How’s it goin’? It’s me, Rainn Wilson, the original Seattle geek,” Wilson said in his video message, after struggling to remove a football helmet covered in Seattle Seahawks autographs.
He proceeded to hold up a chess clock from his days on the Shorecrest High School chess team in Shoreline, Wash., and the bassoon he played in the school band. Wilson, who spent a year at the University of Washington, also gave a shout-out to GeekWire’s impressive run.
“I salute you GeekWire,” he said. “Ten years — that’s fantastic. Stick with it.”
Wilson signed off with a few lovely lyrics from Perry Como’s 1969 hit “Seattle” …
The bluest skies you’ll ever see are in Seattle …