Soapbox Idol

SoapBox Idol, now in its seventh year, will be returning to PorcFest XV! This is your chance to tell us how you REALLY feel. The goal has always been to give voice to the community, to YOU.

We are all, in our own ways, spokespeople for liberty; we all have a different and unique perspectives, and there is nothing more fascinating – albeit sometimes somewhat in a trainwrecky fashion (remember the striptease?) – than letting YOU tell us what’s got your goat.

This year’s Soapbox Idol Final will take place on Friday night 6:30-8:00 PM in the Creating Communities Tent. This event is not for the faint of heart, so if you are easily offended, or have little ones, caution is advised because the F-Bombs will be flying!

Auditions will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at Noon in the Upper Picnic tent. Auditions are required for all contestants. See it as an opportunity to test the waters and receive constructive feedback from me. Although we are asking for your “rant,” which sounds like it should be off-the-cuff, you probably want to write down your thoughts, practice, hone, and time your piece so that it is about three minutes.

PorcFest Pro-Tip: Sitting in on the auditions is also a sleeper, “in-the-know” way for non-contestants to spend a fun hour hearing the unadulterated versions of contestants’ rants. Expect uncensored and raw, probably not kid-or-sensitive-people friendly, ‘cos you never know what is going to happen!

A Brief History of SoapBox Idol

Back in 2009, the rules were basic: You had 3 minutes and if you ran over your time, you got shot by a water pistol, and a point was taken off from your score. I lined up judges: Angela Keaton (Antiwar.com), Chris Lawless (Ron Paul’s Friggin’ Giant and Liberty Forum lead organizer for many years) and Gardner Goldsmith (writer and radio host). I was the Vanna White of the night.

That first SoapBox Idol drew a standing-room only crowd that spilled over from the Pavilion onto the field. About 30 people clamored to rant about whatever the hell they wanted to–they were letting it all hang out. As happens with my “let’s-figure-it-out-as-we-go” approach, the event ran super-late, the ranters and judges offended some audience members, the event was clearly not kid friendly with F-bombs dropping like Napalm in Vietnam and it hadn’t occurred to me to warn parents because, frankly, I had no idea what I had unleashed. Looking back, it was a moment of perfect PorcFest chaos. The winner that first year was Seth Cohn. You can watch the very technical deliberations (we measured by crowd applause) here. (If someone has a video of his rant, please let me know.)

In 2010, we worked out some of the kinks (check out Ad #1 and Ad #2 soliciting online submissions). While the popularity of the event grew, we limited the number of ranters to a more manageable size–twenty or so, if I recall correctly, although it still ended up running very late. This time, I warned the audience at the outset that ranters weren’t censored, and thus it was not kid-friendly, “So don’t come crying to me afterwards.” Someone gave me an insane super-soaker, upgrading the tiny water gun I’d used the previous year, and… I ended up short-circuiting the microphone in a moment of over-enthusiasm; my bad. The judges were: Stefan Molyneux, Gardner Goldsmith, and Chris Lawless. The winner was: Catherine Bleish.

In 2011, we made even more improvements, again cutting the number of ranters, and adding a 5 point judging system. (I think it was this year? Frankly, much of SoapBox Idol is a haze for me.) The winner was Emily Sandblade, who did an epic piece called: Top 10 Reasons the Mafia is Better Than the State. Emily was either running to become a state representative, or actually already was one at the time, and, I believe, used the video to promote her campaign. The judges were me, Stefan Molyneux, and Adam Kokesh. Lawless did his most impressive Vanna that night.

In 2012, the judges were: F. Paul Wilson (author of the Repairman Jack series), Gardner Goldsmith, Adam Kokesh and I. John Bush won with this powerful spoken word piece, ending with “This is OUR world now!”

At the tenth anniversary of PorcFest in 2013, M.K. Lords won with this powerful poetry piece. The judges included me, Ernie Hancock, and John Bush. Bob Murphy was our most ravishing Vanna White to date.

In 2014 and 2015, SoapBox Idol did not take place. I missed it a lot, especially since it brought together so many different people, viewpoints, and performance styles, and was, for me anyway, a unique and fun way for new folks to grab the spotlight, even just for a night.

In 2016, SoapBox Idol returned! I was worried that due to the hiatus, people would not participate or attend, that the ship had sailed, but I was wrong! We liberty lovers do love us a soapbox! I was back as a judge, along with Angela Keaton of antiwar.com, Brett Veinotte of the School Sucks Project, and Ernie Hancock from Freedom Phoenix. And it’s pop quiz time! Do you remember the winner?

In 2017, the judges were Avens O’Brien, Ernie Hancock, and the always drolly hilarious Brett Veinotte. I was half-Vanna, half-judge. The winner was Mary K, who did a scathing piece encouraging libertarians to walk the walk on their principles about private solutions and charities, and not just talk the talk.

The format of SoapBox Idol at PorcFest XV will be:

  • Up to 12 contestants
  • 3 judges (TBA)
  • 1 Vanna White (me)
  • Possibly some musical interludes, and whatever PorcFest-fueled randomness transpires 🙂

Each contestant has 3 minutes. If you go over your time between 3-5 minutes, one point overall is deducted. Since incentives matter, if you go over 5 minutes, 3 points are automatically deducted. I.e. it is bad form to go over your time! Short and punchy wins the game!

Scoring is done on a 1-5 basis, with 1 being the least and 5 being “awesomesauce.” Scores are indicated by judges’ fingers and tallied by me (with audience help, depending on how loopy I am). If there is no clear winner at the end, the top ranters are called to stage to make their case, and then the final decision is made based on audience applause/enthusiasm, and the judges’ sole discretion of such.

The winner gets:

  • 2 Free tickets to PorcFest 2019!
  • Bragging rights forevva!

See YOU at SoapBox Idol at PorcFest in June. Bring YOUR A-game!

Carla Gericke (JD, MFA) is an advocate of liberty specializing in localized voluntarism, internet freedom, self-determination, and how responsible human action can lead to peace and prosperity. She is president emeritus of the Free State Project, and lives in New Hampshire with tens of thousands of fellow Ron Paul supporters. In 2014, Carla won a landmark case affirming the 1st Amendment right to film police encounters. She now serves as president of the Foundation for NH Independence, a 501c3 nonprofit that educates Granite Staters on the advantages of peacefully separating from the federal government. Carla is currently running as a Republican candidate for NH State Senate in the Queen City and Goffstown (District 20).