What’s the one must-have fashion accessory for the wannabe Jedi? A lightsaber, of course—the classiest (and potentially the deadliest) of personal weapons. With a lightsaber in your hand and the Force in your heart, there’s no enemy you cannot conquer.
Except maybe a Portland police officer.
“There’s always going to be Sithy douchebags trying to misuse the Force,” says Nerdist and all-around funny guy Chris Hardwick. “It’s a sword made of light,” Hardwick says with due reverence. “I remember seeing that for the first time when I was a kid and it completely melted my mind.”
Taking a cue from the Yodas and Obi-Wans of the world, Hardwick has offered up a new opportunity to use the power of the lightsaber for good: an Olympic-style relay from Santa Monica to San Diego where participants pass off lightsabers to one another, just in time for Comic-Con. It will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and it’s appropriately called Course of the Force. Hardwick hopes this year’s event will be the first of many. “Initially we wanted to do it from Skywalker Ranch all the way down to San Diego, but we kind of wanted to just get our feet wet the first year,” he explained.
Inspiration for Course of the Force came from the offspring of Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries business partner, Peter Levin. “His son wakes him up every morning by hitting him on the head with a lightsaber,” he said.
Hardwick and Levin had been discussing the relative barrenness of the week leading up to Comic-Con. “There’s just nothing really to do for fans,” Hardwick says. “We wanted a positive, celebratory experience that could be for charity.” Thus the lightsaber relay was born. From July 7th through the 11th, Hardwick and his Nerdist comrades will follow the relay action, which will include parties, contests and giveaways. “It’s five days of nerds in cosplay running, passing a lightsaber all the way down the California Coast.”
Staying true to its mission of positivity, Course of the Force will not discriminate against non-Star Wars types. “Any kind of character that they’re into— anime characters, Doctor Who characters, Battlestar— we welcome all walks,” says Hardwick.
Sounds like the attitude of a true Jedi Knight. So what would Master Chris Hardwick’s lightsaber look like? “Mine would have a microphone on the other end, so that I could flip it up and start doing jokes at the cantina,” he says. “And then if I get heckled, you get cut in half. That’s how it works.” So much for that positive Jedi outlook. There’s a guy in Portland you should probably meet, Chris.
In The Comlink, “Star Wars” fan and MTV News producer Tami Katzoff explores the glory days of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Whether you’re Team Jedi or Team Sith, friend of Wookiees or wanted by bounty hunters, any and all “Star Wars” fans are welcome along for the ride.