Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
GREAT NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN
By Victor Varnado
About three years ago I had an audition to be on Late Night with Conan O’Brien at a night club in New York. A talent booker for the show requested to see sets from comedians and then put them up in front of whatever crowd was available at the local comedy club. How did I do? I was very lucky that throwing bottles at a performer had gone out of style. The Conan O’Brien show didn’t call me, big surprise. Under normal circumstances, I would just assume that they would forget about the whole thing and I could just keep submitting to them but I’m under special circumstances you see; I’m a black albino comedian and generally people don’t forget that. (I know that you probably want me to explain more about the black albino thing right now, but this is my story so bear with me.)
The only other time that I ever submitted to Late Night with Conan O’Brien was a few months ago and thank goodness things went better this time. I’m not going to try and pretend that I was cool headed or reserved in any way when I got the call from my manager that the Conan show had decided to offer me a spot. There are many different types of comedians. There are comedians that are cool, smart and make fun of everything else in the world; there are comics that are mean bastards and then there are comics like me; geeky and unsure of themselves who have used humor so much as a defense mechanism that they have finally become comedians. All of these comedians would get excited at the chance to be on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. That’s how I explain me crapping my pants.
The first real problem arose when the talent booker for Conan O’Brien sent me a list of material that they wanted me to do on the show. The list consisted entirely of jokes that I had performed on another show on cable. The booker assured me that cable and broadcast television were very different things. Tons of people who had never seen me before would see the show and doing “tried and true” material would help warm me up to the Conan O’Brien audience.
I asked the booker if I could make a deal with him; I would pitch some new material to him at the run through after I was done doing the older material. He agreed and for a moment I was happy. The run through was at Caroline’s comedy club in Time’s Square. I went through the old material and everything was going wonderfully. By the time I went into my newer material, the audience was one hundred percent with me. I couldn’t have hoped for better. I got to the biggest of the new jokes that I was pitching; it was about superheroes.
There was this show called the Superfrieds that they made in the 70’s and 80’s. They tried to make the show ethnically diverse by adding in all these heroes of different races. One of the heroes was Black Lightning. Black Lightning was a black superhero with “black” at the front of his name, which is already wrong. I feel sorry for him because I know he didn’t show up wanting to be Black Lightning I’m Sure he showed up and said, “Hey, what’s happening Superman. You got ‘super’ powers, they call you Superman; that guy looks like a bat and they call him Batman. Check this out, I shoot lightning out of my hands, I should be Lightning Man! What do you think?”
Superman was like, “No. No… no no. How about BLACK Lightning?”
“What?! You can’t limit my choices like that!”
“Well you’ve got a choice. You can be black lightning or Niggatron!”
“Superman! I’m not going to stand for this! WE aren’t going to stand for this. Say something Apache chief. Say something! At least put a shirt on…”
“Calm down, calm down… Now go sit at the ethnic table…next to captain Japanese. I don’t know what he does but I know that he’s stealing jobs away from American superheroes.”
Oh, a detail that I may have left out was that the run-through night happened to fall on the same night as Caroline’s all-Asian comedy show. All-Asian comics, in front of an all-Asian audience, and me; a black albino making an ironic joke about the Japanese stealing jobs from Americans. I know that sounds bad out of context but trust me, a guy that you don’t know, it was not a racist joke. Normally the joke goes over great in front of a mixed audience, but when you are the only non-Asian person on an all-Asian comedy night… sigh. I bet you’re getting the picture by now. Amazingly, they ended up letting me do the older material and most of the new bits as well.
The taping began while I was eating cookies in the green room. Before I went on, one person after another walked up to me and cautiously asked me if I was feeling okay. Was I excited? Am I nervous? My better judgment was the only thing that stopped me from slapping faces at full force.
Jennifer Aniston was on the show.. She’s tiny.
I watched the second guest, Harold Perrineau, on the backstage television. He was fresh off of shooting a bunch of people on ABC’s Lost and seemed nice enough when I met him for a few moments by the green room. He was a “real” guest so I didn’t see him until just before he went on. Late Night separates the comedians from the actual talent, unless.. that’s just how they did it with me.
Harold was nervous and sweating to an insane degree while he was being interviewed by Conan. He told me earlier that he was a huge fan. Watching Harold freak out made me feel less intimidated.
I felt confident when it was my turn to walk out and perform. The stage manager lead me to an area behind the curtain and told me that when Conan announced my name, I would walk out to a star on the ground and just begin. The stage manager then walked away. That’s it? Don’t these guys know that I have bad vision and I’m not wearing my glasses? Where’s the star again? At a club, you get to watch other comics with the crowd and then gauge how they are before you go on. I just walk out? Suddenly I was thirsty. The audience had started applauding because Conan had just called my name… I think. A hand pushed me gently toward the curtain.
When I get out and see the audience and cameras, my hands were immediately numb. That’s weird. I’ve heard of sweating and shortness of breath, but whose hands go numb? Suddenly, I begin to think that there are a whole lot of people in America who have never seen a black albino before. What if they freak out? Why would they freak out? The first couple of jokes that I told came out about an octave higher than my voice really is. The audience laughs hard and I relax. The older jokes and the newer jokes got bigger and bigger responses and I managed to finish to raucous applause.
The stage manager had told Conan that my last line of dialogue was “’Cause I’m black. Surprise!” When I said it, Conan came over to shake my hand and was very nice.
CONAN: Great, great job. You were really funny.
ME: Thanks a lot for having me. I was really nervous.
CONAN: Are you a writer?
CONAN: I think it really shows in your act. What show do you write for?
ME: None. I mostly write for movies.
CONAN: I think it was great.
ME: I was nervous that my act wouldn’t go over on you show… I mean you don’t exactly have a “black” audience.
CONAN: What are you talking about? Look at that saxophone player over there.
Conan was pointing to his band. We both laughed, maybe I laughed too much. I shook his hand for longer than I should have and I lingered when he was saying goodbye to the audience. He asked me back on the show and towered above me.
If I had it all to do again, the only thing that I would change is that my hands wouldn’t have been numb and I wouldn’t have bombed in front of the talent booker three years ago.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I apologize if this doesn't concern you.
This Christmas I will be in NYC and I know that there are a lot of people who are away from their families.
I am inviting friends over on Christmas day for an orphan's Christmas.
If you are a friend who would like to come just email, ca;;, Facebook or twit me up and I will give you the details.
You should bring a wrapped gift that costs no more than five dollars for exchanging.
You should bring an actual five dollars to contribute to a giant Chinese food order.
There will be games and liquor.
Let me know if you would like to come.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
One other thing that happens in first class, if you do happen to fall asleep every once in a while they wake you up anyway and ask you if you need anything. "yes, I need you to step out of my face quickly. "
Sent from my piehole.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I performed at a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art! I think it was one of my favorite shows ever to perform on. My buddy Marianne Ways asked me to be on the show. Carl Arnheiter is also deeply staked in the show and is its host.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
My five word review of INCEPTION - Dumb people should not go.
My haiku review of INCEPTION -
You are my movie hero
M. Night can suck it.
My two paragraph review of INCEPTION -
Every time I hear someone talk about Inception they talk about how much fun, trippy or gripping it is and they rarely talk about the science fiction elements of the film. That's a good thing and hard to do because the science fiction in the movie runs pretty deep. To make a film that steeped in a pretend technology and have the audience walk away talking about the emotional aspect of the film is a feat that I don't think many other movies pull off. Just like THE DARK KNIGHT was a great crime thriller, that also had Batman in it, this movie is an exquisite action noir epic, that also has a ton of sci-fi.
I am deliberately staying away from talking about the plot because that will make the movie more fun for everyone. Let's talk about the ending once you've seen it.
++++++++++ POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW THIS LINE++++++++++++++
The lady or the tiger?
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Soooo, we have officaly wrapped pricipal photography on the Tell Your Friends Movie. Since the movie is supported by an extensive documentary portion I got a chance to direct quite a few interviews with comedians that I would consider to be masters of their craft. There is nothing more entertaining than listening to people talk about what they really believe in and know well in an impassioned manner.
Now the post production process wll begin. I am both dreading and looking forward to the post production process.
Next up, I will be directing a new reality TV series. More on that later.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
If you're a loser and want to feel like you win again,
Then come to Comix and see me with Christina Finnegan
He's the Headliner and I am the middler
He's very metro and I'm a lady diddler.
He's been on TV and I been in movies
Finnegan, Varnado, Hi-fives and boobies.
Christian is his name… and my religion.
We both like comic books and indecision
So see you at Comix, Thursday through Saturday
I promise not to rap*
*Sometimes I do it unconsciously
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Hey everyone! It's Victor Varnado here! I hope you get a chance to come to the concert portion of this comedy film I am directing! Many great comedians that you would have to pay big bucks to see normally. If you are in NYC then make a special trip!
Here's the info!
That’s right! – One of New York City’s best comedy shows, TELL YOUR FRIENDS!, is becoming a movie!
Here is a special message from the creator of the show, Liam McEneaney:
You read that right. For the next two Mondays, TYF! at Lolita will go dark as we gear up for the filming of our first ever concert movie experience.
We are finally going to capture everything you have loved about our little basement show in one major motion picture.
Some of your favorite performers will be on-hand to film their acts; KURT BRAUNOHLER & KRISTEN SCHAAL, REGGIE WATTS, CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, LEO ALLEN, ROB PARAVONIAN, and our house band A BRIEF VIEW OF THE HUDSON. And as usual, your humble host will be LIAM McENEANEY
You're going to get event invites as soon as Facebook stops being a jerk.
I know the name of the show is usually a suggestion, but for this show we're going to need as great of a crowd as possible to both fill the room and support with the kind of good energy and positive vibery that has made you guys one of the favorite audiences for some of the biggest names in comedy.
In a way, YOU will be the biggest star of the movie. Specifically, in the way that doesn't pay you residuals. So please, please, come yourself and don't forget to forward this via e-mail, to post this on Facebook, to Tweet it, and to TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
Thank you for your years of support. Here's to many many more years together.
- LIAM McENEANEY”
Here’s the info:
The Onion Presents:
TELL YOUR FRIENDS! THE CONCERT MOVIE
Be in the audience of the LIVE FILMING of the concert movie based on New York City's longest-running alt. comedy show, starring some of the scene's brightest comedy lights: Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts, Christian Finnegan, Leo Allen, Rob Paravonian, and hosted by Liam McEneaney.
Tuesday, June 22nd
DOORS: 6:30pm; 9PM
Buy tickets to the 6:30 show here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=2160585
Buy tickets to the 9:00 show here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=2160615
HOSTED BY: LIAM McENEANEY
KURT BRAUNOHLER & KRISTEN SCHAAL
AND THE TYF! HOUSE BAND: A BRIEF VIEW OF THE HUDSON
18+ to enter/21+ to drink
Please forward this event and TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Come see this eclectic and monumentally entertaining band open our show tonight. Hosted by Victor Varnado and Diane Odebra.
Come watch or sign up for an open stage spot. OR watch live on the internet. Word WORD WORRRRRD!!
Check out www.NYCTalentshow.com
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Should be loads of fun. In order to save money, I will be directing and playing cinematographer on some of the interview sections. I was a bit nervous, but I think the first test shoot came out great. Here is a frame from the shoot with our reluctant subject Myq Kaplan.
Thank you Canon HDSLR cameras!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Internet poster sometimes can't help themselves and can easily get of the subject. This is a slightly truncated conversation from a Nintendo message board.
Does The Wi play DVD's
Yes, but I hear you have to use homebrew.
The only thing is when Nintendo uupdates they try to disable homebrew from what I hear
You mispelled update wrong.
You used an unconventional double-negative. Is there a correct way to misspell update? You also misspelled 'misspell'.
Monday, May 24, 2010
If you have never seen Rob Paravonian perform then you had better fix that tonight! Rob is a hilarious comedian and a six string samurai. His songs have literally millions of hits on YouTube and he's been a favorite touring act for several years.
Tonight he appears on stage at Bowery Poetry Club opening the NYC Talent Show. You can also see him perform live at nyctalentshow.com if you live anywhere in the world!
Come to the show and watch or perform at the open stage. Musicians, Poets, Comedians, and crazy people!
Sunday, May 09, 2010
This week, the super funny Rob Cantrell opens up the NYC Talent Show!
He is guaranteed hilarious and has appeared on more TV and tours than your mom has for sure.
Come to the Bowery Poetry Club and watch or perform!
Open stage for Poets, Musicians, Comedians, and crazy people.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Fri May 7 at 7:00 pm - FREE
Address: 103 Prince Street New York City, NY 10012 (212) 226-3126
Victor Varnado - Creator, Producer, Director, Cast (Conan Obrien, Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Marina Franklin - Cast (Jay Leno Show, Chappelle Show)
Eric Andre - Cast (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The NEW Jamie Foxx Show)
Moderated by Jay Stern, Producer (Iron Mule Comedy Festival)
Subjects covered will include:
- Taking the film from concept to independent production to Comedy Central.
- Low budget that looks like high budget
- Cast careers and behind the scenes stories
- And more!