Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sam Jack sighting!

Day 43: The search for the Variety Society continues.

Word has it that a Millbrae man has sworn not to shave his beard until the Variety Society returns.

Further word has it that that man was actually a sheep, and that his beard was actually his coat, and that he has subsequently been sheared.

We may never know what was learned from this anecdote.

But finally, a breakthrough. Sam Jack, executive producer of the Variety Society, has apparently surfaced again, this time being spotted by a local wildlife photographer who originally set out to discover whether bears do, in fact, shit in the woods.

The following image, purported to be the elusive Jack, has not been altered in any way:

In a related story, a man claiming to be a local blogger claims to have interviewed a person claiming to be Sam Jack claiming to be Napoleon III claiming to be Sam Jack again about the future of the Variety Society. A crazy story? Sure, but coupled with the amazing photographic evidence above, how can we doubt him?

The claimed interview from the claimed man with the claimed Jack is claimed to be found here.

And now, I'm off to the Great Barrier Reef to investigate a reported sighting of Alexia Staniotas. Or was it Hoboken instead of the Great Barrier Reef? I get those things confused sometimes.

But there's one thing I'm never confused about: I will not rest until the Variety Society is back on the air!

I wonder if I have time to squeeze in a nap?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Search (continues -->) Continues!

Day 36: The Variety Society is still missing in action. For over a month there has been no sighting of the wayward late night show.

Without them, there is a hole in this community. Local musical acts and sketch comedy groups, bereft of a late night program to perform on, have resorted to selling their bodies on stree tcorners (do we have a source on that?). It is a sad state of affairs.

But now several VarSoc members have confirmed they will be attending a screening of "Roomies", a short film submitted to this year's 48 Hour Film Project.

The time: Wednesday, June 22nd, 7:00 PM.

The place: Lumiere theater, 1572 California Street, San Francisco.

The cheese: Roquefort.

The Baldwin: Billy (disclaimer: Billy Baldwin may not be in attendance. Substitute Baldwins are on-call.)

"Roomies" stars Variety Society announcer and official sidekick Erik Braa and Variety Society executive producer Sam Jack, was directed by Variety Society director Colin Murray, and was written by Variety Society head writer Justin LaneLutter, and also by that other guy who writes some stuff sometimes.

Who is that guy anyway? You know, long hair, inappropriate sense of humor, kinda creepy, who am I thinking of?

Oh yeah, Russell Brand.

Will the Variety Society really be in attendance? Will the film provide any insight as to the whereabouts of our missing late night show? Will the circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by?

One more: By and by.

Okay, we made quota. Good, good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lost and found. And now possibly lost again.

On May 14th 2011, the cast of "The Variety Society" recorded their sixth live show. On May 15th, the cast of "The Variety Society" sold most of their possessions, bought some Harleys, and drove off into the wilds of the Mojave desert to "find themselves." They have not been heard from since.

After an extensive investigation on behalf of their creditors, we have concluded that the missing comedians are presently missing. No further information is available at this time. It took us long enough just to fact-check that much.

The following is a list of the items left in Dan Sullivan's apartment when the lock on his door "broke off" and then the wind blew it open and then the wind blew us inside and then the wind ransacked the place:

  • Three black suit coats with identical mustard stains in the shape of Idaho on the collar.
  • Four 8x10 glossy photos, autographed by Dan Sullivan to Dan Sullivan.
  • One VHS copy of Elaine May's "Ishtar", still in the original shrink-wrap.
  • One novelty double-sided business card with "See other side for details," on both sides. Showed signs of extreme wear.
  • One external hard drive containing the last recorded "Variety Society" broadcast, dated May 14th.

We are releasing these recordings as part of our ongoing effort to locate the errant late night show. Also, for the benefit of the public, we burned "Ishtar", and we are thoroughly checking both sides of this card.

If you any information about the whereabouts of our late night show, contact our offices. Variety Society, if you're out there, please come home by September. Your fish miss you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

We just launched a Kickstarter Project: Get great incentives for pledging

Have you ever heard that producing a TV show is expensive?

Well, it does cost a good amount of money, but we've been able to get a great broadcasting deal with KOFY TV20 to air new episodes of The Variety Society!
Companies interested in advertising with us will get affordable prices on a variety(no pun intended) of promotional material.

If you just want to donate a little as a fan, pledges start at $1!! Incentives include downloads of episodes, free tickets, VarSoc T-shirts and much more!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The biggest announcement since our last announcement!

Well folks, last Saturday's show wraps up our pilot season. And to think, just six months ago it was six months ago, and none of this had even happened.

Normally when I say that I'm in a doctor's office or some kind of holding cell, so this is really neat for me.

Clips from episode six will be appearing shortly, and then we're gonna take a little summer break, you know, play coy and hard to get so you don't start taking us for granted and then go behind our backs with other late night shows.

Don't worry though, because we'll still be producing original content with all of our cast members, or at least, all of our cast members who can avoid getting pinched for taping without the proper permits.

That reminds me, we haven't checked in with our favorite announcer, sidekick, and voice actor Erik Braa in a while. Erik, why don't you tell us what the Variety Society means to you?

Yikes! Um, Erik is working through a few things folks, why don't we leave him to sort all of that out. Instead, a word from our resident investigative reporter, Alexia Staniotos. Take it away, Alexia:

Damn! I mean...damn. That's a side of Alexia we don't usually see. But now we'll see it every night in our nightmares, and possibly even just when we close our eyes, from now until doomsday. Brrrr.

Well, creeping alcoholism and unexpected psychotic episodes aside, we'll still be working to bring the Bay Area our special blend of irreverent comedy and local talent, rain or shine.

But not if it's hailing. Hail is where we draw the line. Or that thing where it's not really raining but not quite snowing yet? Yeah, we hate that, we're not going anywhere near that.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I've run the numbers a hundred times!

In case you hadn't heard, we're doing a show this Saturday.

But wait, you say (did you actually just say that? Because that would be so weird...), didn't you guys just do a show less than two weeks ago? Why yes, yes we did, and the fact that you keep such strict track makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like an inverted bunny rabbit.

But this upcoming episode is something of an emergency measure. You see, we have too much Stuff. "Stuff" is a technical term, so let me explain: "Stuff" means content, like the content that we put into each episode of "The Variety Society" (let me know if I've lost you). Usually we get about a two liter bottle each month, looks something like this:

Yeah, don't even ask where it all comes from, there are certain things you just plain don't want to know about TV. Anyway, once we have Stuff, we need somewhere to put it all, and that's where Show comes in:

And now for the number crunching:


Hot damn, that semester at MIT is finally paying off!

And that, my friends, is how we do business. But this month? Well, this month, we ran into a little problem:

Oh my God! That's almost twice as much Stuff as usual! In fact, let me do some more's exactly twice as much! Quick, someone get me a calculator.

Stuff x 2/Show=2

Two?! It came out to two! That's never happened before! It always comes out to one! What does this mean? What dark sorcery has brought this to pass?

With more Stuff than we can fit into the single Show that we've completed, we have no choice but to do another Show in hopes that that will be sufficient to contain it all. And we'll be doing that show LIVE, SATURDAY, MAY 14th, at the BOXCAR THEATER STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET!

Let me just twist the cap off of this bottle of Stuff and see what we've got here...ah, it appears to be performance artist and musician Scott Alexander along with director David Moutray, who is just about to hit the festival circuit with his new film "Nobody's Laughing" (which, despite what certain smartasses will tell you, was not originally called "The Variety Society Story").

Now we just have to sit back and pray that the dreaded Stuffx3 bottle is only a myth, because our staff can only take so much. If we keep up this grueling pace, this job might start to feel like some kind of work.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Finding your loser.

Our originally scheduled guest, local dentist Orin Scrivello, bailed at the last minute, but lucky for us "Little Shop of Horrors" star John Lewis was around to fill in. Sometimes these things just seem meant to be.

Really strange the way Orin disappeared like that though. And strange how John was hanging around after he did. And strange how I always thought that plant in the green room was fake, but somehow its gotten bigger since last week.

Ah well, probably a series of unrelated and completely ordinary coincidences. And now, on with the show, without a thought in the world about these suspicious, unexplained events, which I'm sure will have no tragically ironic effect on our lives in the immediate future.

Boy, I sure hope our show is successful, because I really need a way to improve my quality of life and achieve my modest working-class dreams. If only there were a quick and easy way to get ahead that only required some morally ambiguous decisions and a complete lack of foresight or self-awareness.

Well, anyway, enough about my comically downtrodden circumstances and doomed but sympathetic nice-guy persona, instead let's hear about "Little Shop of Horrors":

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Variety Society, Episode 5-Monologue

Segment 1 of Episode 5, Cold Open, Intro & Monologue now online!!


But really, can't we get beyond Thunderdome?

There's something of a natural process of escalation that's built into this job.

Before every show I talk up the guests, and then after every show I talk up the guests. Occasionally I do callbacks to previous guests. I spend some time on the guests, is what I'm saying here.

I do this for two reasons: one, it's just part of my job to say that the people we book bestride the narrow world like a colossus while we petty men peep out to find ourselves dishonorable graves, and two, they do, in fact, bestride the narrow world like a colossus while we petty men peep out to find ourselves dishonorable graves (kind of a handy coincidence, that).

Still, at some point, I'm going to begin finding it hard to top myself. Sure, I could tell you that the gals from Monday Night Foreplays were so funny at our Saturday taping that they might have shifted the earth's crust a couple of inches, like a sort of comedic Tohuku earthquake. But come to think of it, don't I say that about the PianoFight regulars too?

The way I see it, there's only one way to resolves this:

Gladiatorial combat!

Yes, I propose that this show's guests square off against previous shows' guests to determine, once and for all, just whose ass I ought to be kissing around here!

That's right, I want Blake Schaefer and Todd Shipley to square off mano y mano, guitarra y guitarra in a magical musical duel (guitarists do that sort of thing, right?) for the privilege of being called the Variety Society's greatest guitar-toting folk hero!

I want "Little Shop of Horrors" star John Lewis to pit his killer alien plants against Windy Borman's army of cybernetically enhanced robo-elephants (legal disclaimer: Ms. Borman does not necessarily endorse cybernetic experimentation on elephants)!

Can the existential beer pong players of PianoFight still crack wise while under the influence of Monday Night Foreplays' specially formulated 72 Hour Energy drink? THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT!

Is it crass? Sure. Gratuitous? Certainly. A senseless sideshow of carnage for the sake of an imagined prize of little or no value? Naturally! But at of forgot where I was going with this, actually.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Late Night. 2.0.

One day I woke up and said: "I'm going to re-imagine late night TV."

And then I said: "Where am I, what's that smell, and where are my pants?" Because it had been one of those nights.

Once I had those matters squared away, I was pretty committed to the whole re-imagining thing, and lucky for me there were some others guys who had already laid the groundwork and I was able to piggyback off of them pretty much without trying.

But the problem with re-imagining is, how do you know when you're done? It's not like there's a gauge you can check (believe me, I looked). You need some sort of independent verification, possibly from a local publication with an eye for pop culture trends, before you can be completely certain.

Enter Cory Hill, of the East Bay Express! That's it folks, the fourth estate has called it in our favor: re-imagination, complete. This calls for a celebration! You know how we celebrate around here? Well, that thing about my missing pants ought to give you some idea, but barring that, we usually do it by taping a show.

Which is why it's so lucky that we already have one scheduled! I know, you'd almost think we planned it this way. So please, join us LIVE, SATURDAY, APRIL 3Oth, 3:30 pm, at the BOXCAR THEATER STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET!

This time we're featuring the very funny, very talented ladies of Monday Night ForePlays. That's right, we're having a Monday night on a Saturday afternoon. How do we do it? Re-imagination!

And don't think we're stopping there. Step two: re-re-imagination! The key is to remember that late night is actually very early morning, and if you wait long enough, late night TV becomes morning-after TV, in all of its awkward, shameful, hungover glory. Oh yes, I can smell it now...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Splitting Hares.

No one panic! You over there panicking, stop that right this instant!

It's true that we are now just a little over a week away from the fifth episode of The Variety Society, but PLEASE, try to contain yourselves! The last thing we need is for your frenzied enthusiasm to boil over into a blood-red tide of civil violence that will sweep through the entire city.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT incite any riots on our behalf, no matter how much the publicity would ultimately benefit us. It's just not worth it for you or those around you. It would be totally worth it for us, but we wouldn't put our success above the public's safety. Although, if you were to put our success above the public's safety, we couldn't stop you. Just saying.

Instead, let us speak of Blake Schaefer, to calm your nerves and help suppress the urge to raise our show's profile via fire-lit reveling in the streets. Who is Blake Schaefer? At first you might think that he was an ill-conceived, barber-themed supervillain from John Byrne's Superman run, but you're thinking of Black Shaver. No, Blake Schaefer is our scheduled musical guest for next week.

Why did we go with Schaefer? To answer that question, you need only look at the cover art from his latest album:

Folks, your eyes are not playing tricks on you: That is a rabbit, jumping into the air, amidst a shower of gold-plated (solid gold?) guns. It's the cover of Blake Schaefer's "Between Two Worlds". Those two worlds being, apparently, the world of jumping rabbits and the world of golden guns.

I ask you, what does this mean? I ask you and you don't know. Because you're not responsible for it. As we all know, Christopher Lee was the Man With the Golden Gun, the Solex Agitator, which would have brought the world to its knees if not for the intervention of 007. But Roger Moore is not here to save us now.

How did this rabbit (or hare? I can't really tell) come into possession of the device? What did Christopher Lee have to do with it? Why did the studio stick with Roger Moore for so long? I want answers, damn it! And Blake Schaefer is the only man who can give them.

We will fully debrief Mr. Schaefer LIVE, SATURDAY, APRIL 30th, 3:30 PM, at the BOXCAR THEATRE STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET! In the meantime, please continue not rioting. But if you MUST riot, try to do it in one of our t-shirts. Because as George HW Bush said after he threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Out of Context Theatre rides again.

Sometimes people ask me about the context. These people are obviously not staying true to the spirit of the concept.

Also, to be honest, sometimes even I don't know the context. I'm just immersed in a sea of sensory input around here, I couldn't parse most of it if lives hung in the balance.

Frankly, I'm hoping someone out there can make sense of it all. Looking to me for guidance is like the blind leading the blind. Or possibly the deaf. Or maybe just a guy with bad gout:

"No, a mirror isn't good enough, I need to see me at 240p."
"God I look good pixelated. It makes me look so much younger."

"She is hot in a terrifying way, like Ilsa from 'Last Crusade.'"

"You can't make me look bad, I've got a Pixar face."
"It's true, he's like the black Nemo."

"Somehow we squeezed two hours of Charlie Sheen jokes into one hour of programming, how does that work?"

"Of all the jobs, that's the most thankless."
"I'll thank him. Hell, he does a good enough job I'll %$*@ the guy."
"We may need to see your form first."

"We really need to take advantage of this Apocalypse thing."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Who the hell are you people?

I'm here to do three things: make a statement, ask a question, and eat jujubes. And I'm all out of jujubes.

I'm pretty sure I screwed up that one-liner...although upon closer inspection, it was actually a two-liner anyway. Someone get John Carpenter on the phone, he has some explaining to do.

In any case, the first order of business is to make sure everyone knows that our next show will be taping April 30th, and I'm so excited about it that I'm going to medicate myself into a four week-long coma just so I can sleep through the wait time. Updates may be sporadic.

But enough about us, let's talk about you. Yes, you. I have a question for our readers, viewers, and ostensible supporters:

Just who in the hell are you people anyway?

No, really, WHO are you? Here you are, reading my words, watching our show, from which you can extrapolate all sorts of things about us. But we don't know a thing about you. You're anonymous, like the voice on the other end of the line in a horror movie. Except when that voice is Matthew Lillard, then it's really, really obvious.

But wait, on second thought, I actually have reams of information about all of you! That's right, welcome to the internet, please allow me to direct your attention to this graphic:

So, according to this, 89% of you are Americans. Whoo, go USA! But we have friends abroad too (and I'm not just talking about you, Moammar; you hang in there buddy); we have hits recorded from Russia, Canada, the UK, Ireland (hi Stephen!), and...Malaysia? The hell?

Who do we know in Malaysia? Seriously, there's a lot of Malaysian traffic here. More than the UK, Germany, China, and India combined. If this were the Olympics, Malaysia would be our Bronze Medalist (well, Russia is actually in third, but I assume they paid off the judges). Not that we're complaining mind you. We salute our anomalously large Malaysian following, howsoever one appropriately salutes in that part of the world.

I also see that half of you are Firefox users, but six percent of you are reading this via Chrome. You poor, brave, crazy sons of bitches. Four percent of you are using Linux, but from what I've seen of hardcore Linux users, it wouldn't surprise me if this was just one guy with 77 simultaneously running systems.

The biggest attraction here on the blog concerned our team-up with Berkeley Raw, but the second most viewed update is STILL me calling David Blatter a witch. That guy must fucking love me by now. Seriously Dave, come back sometime, you were awesome.

Our second most popular video of all time is Dan interviewing "Alan Wake" star Ilkka Villi, although I would assume that many of these hits come from people who are imprisoned in the dark dimension where only Wake-related media can cross the threshold into their realm, which understandably limits their YouTube consumption.

But our most popular video by far is still Todd Shipley's musical performance. Yeah, you guys really, really love Todd, he's got twice as many views as Ilkka and almost three times as many as anyone else. Seriously, what's the deal? Aren't the rest of us good enough for you, or does it have to be all Todd, all the time?

I mean, sure, so maybe none of the rest of us have that velvety twang to their voice, and maybe we can't do things with a guitar that make it safe to assume that butter wouldn't melt on our fingers, and granted, none of us look half that manly in the red checked flannel, and sure, when he smiles his eyes crinkle up like that and you just kind of...get...a little, um, light headed and...yeah....

Oh who am I kidding? Play us out Todd.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We're still checking on that hamster's whereabouts.

Let's face it people, sometimes in life you're just plain upstaged. And by "you", I of course mean "we". We were all totally upstaged at the last show by musical guest The Dime.

The irony, the horribly ironic irony of it all, that by inviting them to appear we were the architects of our own doom!

Personally, I'm used to be outclassed by pretty much everyone in life: my family, my friends, my coworkers, the people I went to college with, the people I went to high school with, the people I went to grade school with, my roommates, my dry cleaner, most of the bus drivers I meet, three fifths of my ex-girlfriends, one out of every ten baristas, plus one or two people who are in vegetative states, but NEVER the musical guest, NEVER until now.

Well fine Dime, we concede the day to you. It was an unfair match. There was no dishonor in it. The simple fact is we were soundly beaten. Heavy frigate like that in the Pacific could tip the war in Napoleon's favor. But by all means, don't take my word for it, watch for yourselves:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Terrifyingly informative.

Let me just say one thing in regards to Marcus' fembot-related update: the man knows his stuff! I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say, the bar scene this weekend would have been a lot uglier if I hadn't been furnished with some of this very helpful advice.

I'm not saying that I had to create a makeshift bunker in a stall in the woman's restroom and defend myself with only an hors d'oeuvres kebab, but, well, I'm not not saying that either. You don't really need to hear about my social life. That'll all be in the next news update.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My brain is stuck on one setting.

Blue Galaxy everyone. I mean, good morning everyone!

Sorry about that. See, The Dime played live at our last show, and, well, I don't know if you've heard "Blue Galaxy", but it's actually pretty catchy. In fact, once you've heard it, it's hard to Blue Galaxy anything else. I mean, think of anything else! Sheesh.

That's just how it's been for the last couple of days. What did I pick up at the store? Blue Galaxy. Who was that on the phone? Blue Galaxy. Once it's in your head, there's basically no room for anything else.

If you don't believe me, just give a little listen for yourself:

THE DIME - "BLUE GALAXY" music video from Andre Welsh on Vimeo.

See what I mean? Before you know it you'll Blue that under your Galaxy for days on end. I mean, sing that under your breath!

Wow, this is getting out of hand. I've got to break the cycle. Everyone, turn up your speakers, open all your windows, and Blue Galaxy until Blue Galaxy and Blue to the Blue up Galaxy total Galaxy.

No, wait, that's not what I meant to Blue Galaxy! I need to Blue Galaxy my Blue Galaxy before the only Blue I can Galaxy is "Blue Galaxy"! Gahh! I'm losing my Blue Galaxy! How am I ever going to be a Blue Galaxy if I the only Blue Galaxies I can use are Blue Galaxy? No one ever had a Blue Galaxy writing the same Blue Galaxy over and over again except for Dean Koontz!

I'm going to Blue two Galaxy and call it a Blue Galaxy. Hopefully by Blue Galaxy I'll have my Blue Galaxy back and this will all seem like a strange Blue Galaxy. Good Blue Galaxy and Galaxy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"It's not a lake, it's late night..."

In a late night show, the interviewer keeps asking "Why?", but there can be no explanation, and there shouldn't be one. The unanswered interview question is what stays with us the longest, and it's what we'll remember in the end.

Whoa, sorry, got the blog off on an odd foot there. See, I'm having trouble keeping in my head right now, because I just saw this interview with Ilkka Villi, star of "Alan Wake". This interview unsettled me. It was wild and dark and weird, even by my standards.

For some urgent reason I can't remember, I'd been driving too fast down a coastal road to get there. I saw the hitchhiker too late. He was dead, and I was convinced that they'd put me in jail and I'd never see Alice again. But I was in luck; it turned out the hitchhiker was the California Crusher. Naturally, a mere auto collision couldn't harm him. He just wanted a ride to the show.

Of course, that's when my troubles really began. It turned out, there hadn't been a late night show or a studio in that building in thirty years. Which I guess means that it's really amazing that the interview went as well as it did.

Yes, live, via Skype, Finnish actor and "Alan Wake" star Illka Villi chatted with host Dan Sullivan during tonight's taping about his experiences making the hit game, which has been described by some luminaries as being what would happen "if MC Escher was a writer, and also a douchebag."

It's possible that the interview was actually a false memory of a reenactment of something that Dan's shadowy alter ego wrote while under the influence of an otherworldly entity. I know that's when I do my best work.

Lovecraftian overtones aside, the show was a big hit, also featuring documentary filmmaker Windy Borman and Oakland rap group The Dime, and the whole thing should be going viral within a few days. We mean viral as in YouTube, not as in small pox. Although, that spreads pretty fast too.
Shooting schedule for April is forthcoming, just as soon as we figure out if this is all really happening or if it's just a story within a story that's being recovered through a dream via the ghost of a previous late night show. Also, once we figure out how to properly light all of these Dark Taken. They're just so...dark.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Radio Ads for Episode 4

Episode 4 Tapes a week from today. Please enjoy these radio ads. Local DJs feel free to call this a PSA.

60 Second Noir

60 Second Sci Fi

Yak fever will soon be a thing of the past.

You might assume from reading this blog, that I'm just some sort of cheap salesman or mercenary hack.

You may even speculate that I'm a tool of a faceless media juggernaut that wants to consume your free time in roughly the same volume as a whale consumess plankton.

Let me assure you that those assumptions are completely accurate. If anything, it's even worse than you think. Just watch:

Shame? Why, we don't know the meaning of the word.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My own "48 Minute Film Project" fell through.

Of course, the Variety Society isn't the only thing going on in our lives. Well, I mean, it is mine, but that's because I'm actually a brain in a jar hooked up to an old dial-up modem, and this blog is my only means of contact with the world. But the other guys around here, they've all got lots of stuff going on.

For example, Viral Media Networks, the folks who bring you such fine fair as "The Variety Society", recently produced this little baby for this year's 48 Hour Film Project. I originally thought 48 Hours was a long runtime, but apparently I misunderstood the concept.

Our own Dan Sullivan and Erik Braa star, alongside a couple of very attractive gals who, perhaps not surprisingly, I've never seen anywhere near our show. Colin Murray, Justin LaneLutter, Brendon Fox, and Sam Jack all weigh in behind the camera.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Elephant in the Room.

We are humble folk by nature. We realize that even with all of our talent and wit and rugged good looks and minty fresh flavor, our regular on-staff performers just aren't sufficient to motivate a significant portion of the public to come see us

Not that we're bitter about it mind you. So we've given it our all and it's still not good enough, just like our fathers said would happen, so what? It's nothing that can't be solved with the judicious application of gin, right?

But wait a minute, just getting drunk doesn't make for quality TV! We should know, we've tried it. We also have to bring in top-quality talent from all over the Bay Area to cover up for our glaring deficiencies and self-loathing alcoholic antics. But who?

For a task that monumental, we would need someone with vision, someone with compassion, someone like Windy Borman, director and producer of The Eyes of Thailand, a new documentary film chronicling the heroic effort to save Asia's embattled elephant population. Yes, Windy Borman would be perfect. In fact, probably only Windy Borman can save us now. If only we had scheduled her.

What's that? We DID schedule her? And she's confirmed to appear on our show, live, March 12th, at the Boxcar Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde Street in San Francisco? Then we're saved! And we get to keep our 30-day chip! All this on top of the free extra taco at lunch makes this pretty much the best day ever.

Once again that's LIVE, MARCH 12th, BOXCAR THEATRE STUDIOS at 125A HYDE STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO. Because life is good, but life is better with the Variety Society. No, really, we tried it both ways, we know what we're talking about.

Monday, February 21, 2011

No strings attached, we promise.

Don't think we haven't noticed. You've had your eye on us for a long time now. The coy looks, the backward glances, "accidentally" brushing your hand against our thigh when we walk past each other? Oh yes, we've noticed.

I think it's time we stopped with all of these little games. Let's be mature adults about this. You're clearly interested. We're open to that. There's some baggage, but that shouldn't hold us back. Don't worry baby, it won't get too freaky. We know how you like it.

So why don't you swing by our place, the Ninth Street Independent Film Center, say, this Friday, February 25th, from 6 to 8pm? Yes, I know it's National Clam Chowder Day, we had plans too, but we're willing to cancel. That's just how important this is to us.

This is, after all, "An Intimate Evening with the Variety Society", an opportunity for investors, sponsors, colleagues, and press to learn about the show. And we do mean all about the show. You know that one thing we don't tell anyone about? We'll tell you. It'll be our little secret.

Piano Fight will be there, and so will the Dime and Toddy Shipley, but don't worry, they won't cut into our alone time. This is going to be a night to remember. Or, depending on how the bar is stocked, a night that you'll forget as soon as it's over.

Either way, we'll still respect you in the morning.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yesterday's news. With jokes.

You know the problem with topical humor? It has to be topical.

Sometimes you think of a really great joke that would have been hilarious...four months ago. Sometimes you sit on that joke for years afterward, bitter and angry. Sometimes you cry yourself to sleep over it and wake up a hollow shell of a man. Yeah, we take our humor seriously around here.

For example, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom put off his January inauguration for a week for political reasons. Which might have prompted us to say this:

"Gavin Newsom was finally sworn in today after a week of stalling. Yeah, I would probably put off moving to Sacramento for as long as I could too."

Oh yes, major Sacramento burn. And you know what? There would have been pretty much nothing they could do about it. Because they're Sacramento. If only I had thought of it back when it was relevant.

Actually, I did have a chance to squeeze that one onto the teleprompter at the last minute before the most recent show, but then I didn't do it because I was too busy forgetting to do it.

Some jokes stay funny for years, but they're like that tire with a slow leak; the more time goes by, the less safe it is to use them. Although I never once got ticketed because an untimely joke caused my hubcap to blow off and injure an elderly man and his clinically prescribed therapeutic dachshund.

Can anyone place this reference anymore:

"I don't want to sound like a cynic guys, but I'm starting to think that OJ is just never gonna find the real killer."

Yeah, that one had a pretty good shelf-life for a while, but after a decade or so nobody remembered that he had said that in the first place. And then fate conspired to pretty much ruin it forever. Damn justice system.

Over the years, it got to the point where making jokes about Michael Jackson was like taking a dump on a compost heap; there really wasn't anything of significance that you could add.

Then he died, the world starting loving him again, and at that point a Michael Jackson joke became like taking a dump on a tire fire; there wasn't anything you could add, and the blowback was downright toxic.

There was probably a narrow window after his death but before it became off-topic when we could have said this:

"You know it's amazing, the funeral home said it was the first time they'd ever had a body that came to them pre-embalmed."

Actually, it still might be a little too soon for that one.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

For similar reasons, we are called neither Sharks nor Jets.

Allow us to explain everything you need to know about how the world works.

First, there was the internet. Presumably, something came before the internet, but we no longer remember what it was. Probably some sort of primitive Dark Age where men vied with mammoths and worshiped logs and ate roots three meals a day. Best not to think about it.

Next came Google, and Google pretty much runs the show now (not our show, the big show. The universal show, as it were). We're not really sure what Google is up to or why they are now the hub 'round which the world turns. We know better than to ask questions. Questions can mean being sent to the Goolag. We just keep our traps shut.

Google results are pretty important when you're an emerging entertainment enterprise. If you type "Variety Society" into Google (which, by the way, you'd just be a dear if you actually did), you get a whole lot of results. See that results page? That is, and here I'm going to use a technical term, our turf. And we do not like people stepping on our turf.

In fact, for a long time someone was stepping on our turf. See, we're not the only Variety Society. Apparently some wine-tasting group was already the Variety Society, and let me tell you, it took forever to knock them off of the first page. I had to do some things I'm not proud of. And you would be appalled to find out what I'm capable of taking pride in.

You may be wondering, if they had the name before us, wouldn't that make it their turf? You might think so, but that's just because you don't understand how this complex system works. See, we're just plain better than they are. And that makes it ours. You know why? Because we're funny. Most of the time.

Now, wine, wine isn't funny. Go ahead, show me your funniest wine.

Yeah, no one is gonna laugh at that. What is that, a Riesling? Nobody laughs at a Riesling. You could maybe get a laugh with a Steuben, but that's about it. That Riesling just goes to show exactly what kind of amateur operation these people are running. Bottom line, we're funnier, so the name is ours, double bogey no take backs.

So the wine snobs have been banished to page two, and all was right in the world. Until tonight, when a new usurper emerged from the shadowy shadows. "GPT Variety Society"? Who the hell are they? According to their Facebook profile, they used to be the GEC Variety Society. Well, that explains everything.

No! Don't Google them! It'll just entrench them further. Leave this to the professionals. I've still got some detonator wire left. I can get this done. You might think we're being a bit too protective of our name, but you would be too if you'd had this many "Variety Society" tshirts made.

And do you have any idea how long it took us to come up with a title for this show in the first place? Really, really long. We were almost called "The Sutro Tower Hour", but one of our producers thought it sounded like the title of a gay porno. Seriously, titles are hard.

So we're putting the word out: GPT, GEC, GED, whatever you call yourselves, you can do your little theatre song and dance all you want (up to and including actual song and dance. I recommend "The Music Man" this season, actually), but stay off of our turf. By which I mean our Google.

You don't wanna find out what'll happen if you don't. And neither do we. Let's all not find out together, capiche?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Episode 3: Revenge of the Tiff.

This show is like a really awesome party, except without the hangover, burning sensation, and awkward "I'll call you, really!" conversations the next morning.

Just scroll down and you can check out our latest morning after efforts, taped live at the Boxcar Theatre Studios on January 15th. Go on, scroll down, you know you want it.

Oh, but first, here's our opening skit, which got cut for time because we know that you're all busy people, but which I've generously provided for anyone who is largely sessile and needs as much stimuli as possible. Because I'm a hell of a guy.

And now, on with the show, in which our first guest had a broken hand, our second guest put a nail through his own face, our sketch group hurt only each others' feelings, our headliner is most likely bulletproof, and our musical guest heart.

The Variety Society Episode 3 from Viral Media Network on Vimeo.

You can hear more of musical guest Toddy Shipley at CD, and you can even buy his album if you're feeling super awesome.

Jeff Bodeans' Runabout is available at the App Store, which apparently is a fringe online software vendor from some computer company or another founded by some guy named Steve. Yeah, I never heard of them either, but they're cool with Jeff, and that's good enough for me.

Joe Rock can of course be heard weekdays, 7:00 PM to midnight at 107.7 The Bone, and you can keep up on the Stone Foxes over at their site.

David Blatter has his own site as well (man, it's almost like anyone can have a website these days. I feel less special. Sniff...). I'm incredibly amused to find that if you Google Mr. Blatter's name the first result is his site, but the second one is me apologizing for calling him a witch. I'm sure he's just incredibly thrilled with me.

And finally, PianoFight are always at the Off-Market theater for their incredible night of comedy, entitled...wait, "Shit Show"? You can call a show that? You can put that word right in the title? Since when?! When I wanted to call us the Fecal Affiliation I got voted down, but they get to go around saying "Shit Show" left and right? I call foul!

Oh, wait, it's not "Shit", it's S.H.I.T., some kind of acronym. That's okay then. You can do anything you want with acronyms. That's why I want to legally change my name to Ferdinand Ulysses Nabokov Keates Apollo Rudyard Theseus Ibsen Swift Thesus, so that my initials would spell, well, figure it out for yourselves.

But I'm putting that off until I'm sure that everyone can spell all that correctly, because even my present name has been misspelled in the credits (curses!). Can't win 'em all.

Our next show will be LIVE, MARCH 12TH, AT THE BOXCAR THEATRE STUDIOS, 125A HYDE ST IN SAN FRANCISCO, and we'll have an update on our very special February event within the next week. Until then, drink responsibly. I don't bring that up for any particular reason, it's just good advice.

Still more Out of Context Theatre.

I've once again been spying on my colleagues and am ready, willing, and able to spill the goods.

You may wonder how it is that I overhear so much? Well, the truth is, I spend much of my free time stalking each member of our cast and crew, shadowing them like a stealthy jungle cat, lurking in the dark.

That's right everybody, you know when you're walking home alone at night, and you think you hear something behind you but you ignore it? Well that's not the wind; it's me!

I want to take this opportunity to assure each of you that you're not safe anywhere. You can neither run or hide. I am everywhere and nowhere at once, like the chupacabra. With a word processor.


"The jokes are going to fall on deaf ears. And I mean that literally, we're only going to invite deaf people."

"So, what if Dan is a detective who is also an environmental Nazi?"

"I was doing a combination of Daniel Plainview, Ernest Hemingway, and an aged IRA terrorist, all in one."

"I don't think we can have Sam struck my lighting live."

"Those guys are basically whores, they'll promote anybody."
"So you're saying we got turned down by whores?"

"Camera two is out of tape, do not go to camera two!"
"Um, camera two, take a bourbon, you're done for the day."

"I like the idea of Natalie Portman being some feral creature who lives under my window."

"Well, it's not like we need audio for the musical act, right?"
"Just like we don't need video for puppet show."

"I'd have this episode done already if it weren't for Windows."

"We need to come up with something at the end that lets her leave her mark on the audience."
"I could flash you on the way out?"
"Yes, okay, let's rehearse that a couple times right now."


Anyone keeping track (which should be ALL of you!) will want to know that our next episode is going to shoot LIVE, MARCH 12th, AT THE BOXCAR THEATER STUDIOS IN SAN FRANCISCO!

Why no show in February? Well, we have something special planned for February...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't worry folks, we didn't let him drive.

I'm a Thunderhead man myself, but I suppose it's a matter of taste.
You would be amazed how many takes Dan was able to stay lucid for.

Wine Break(Ep. 3 Break 3 of 3/Promos) from Viral Media Network on Vimeo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Make the show better by evaluating it!

Thanks again to all who attended the live taping this last Saturday of Episode 3!

If you have time, would you please give us your honest, brutal opinion of how it went?

Please, DON'T spare any detail as your suggestions & feedback make it the best possible show, EVER!

Our friends at EventBrite hooked us up with SurveyMonkey, a cool platform for creating surveys, here's the link:

Evaluate/Comment on VarSoc Ep. 3 HERE!

Executive Producer

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Highlights of lowlifes.

Just got back from our latest shoot, which set an indoor record for blunt-force trauma to the face during a live taping of a micro-budget comedy show (I phoned Guinness to confirm; the old record was a surprisingly low figure).

As usual, we've chained our post-production team to a radiator and told them they're not leaving until the editing is done, so it should be available for mass consumption within the week, at which point you'll get to see:

-Dan and Jeff talk about how not gay they are. At length.

-Detailed descriptions of Jeff's massive organ (I really can't say anything more than that...)

-David Blatter gets nailed, repeatedly. I believe he also got hammered.

-The guys from PianoFight demonstrate why English majors should never play beer pong.

-Joe Rock of 107.7 The Bone antagonizes our news anchor with one hand!

-And the California Crusher issues the first (but not the last!) direct threat toward a sitting politician in our show's history.

Inexplicably, the cops did not bust us up this time, which is actually kind of a bummer because we could have used the publicity. But that means we're free to perpetrate acts of reckless comedy on the Bay Area again next month, this time in gala form.

Which is not to be confused with Galaga form, although that was my suggestion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

If we innovate any harder we're going to go blind.

It appears that some of you (and I'm not naming names, so instead I will assign each of you an alias: Gustavo, Petruchio, and Electra), don't yet have enough incentive to come see us this Saturday. To these people I can only say:

For crying out loud, what more do you want?

But hey, okay, I get it. So we've got great guests, and we've got awesome comedy, and we've got a well-dressed host and the Official State Wrestler of California on staff, and you know that. All well and good, but you just don't feel challenged by this material, right? I can see where you're coming from.

So let's try a little experiment, something I call the (wait for it) Undesignated Non-Contextual Punchline (write that down, it's very technical. But don't steal it, it's mine!). I'm going to give you the last sentence of a joke, and then you'll have to come to the show if you want to understand what it means. And if you don't, in all likelihood you will be driven mad!

People, please understand, this is edgy, avant-garde stuff we're doing here, this is true postmodernism in its rawest form. By deconstructing your inherent assumptions about the nature of comedy, I’ve reimagined the elemental values of humor and exposed how arbitrary they are. Yeah, I do that.

What I try to do mechanically is reinvent the joke when it's not the joke. I start by reinventing, and then I disinvent it. You're all sophisticated enough to understand what I'm saying, right?

Alright, enough of that. Drum roll please? What do you mean we don't have a drum? Oh, that's right, we used it as a casserole dish that one time. Well, just drum on a table or something. And now, without further ado, on to the punchline:

"There might still be food in it, we haven't confirmed."

What in the holy yellow dog does that mean? Couldn't tell you. Well, I mean, I could, but that would upend my entire creative experiment and prevent a drastic realignment of free expression paradigms across multiple platforms. And that would be bad.

The answer, of course, can be found LIVE, JANUARY 15th, 4pm, AT THE BOXCAR STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO! See, now you practically have to come!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Because we're awesome, that's why!

I feel like I should in some way apologize for publicly accusing our scheduled guest, Mr. David Blatter, of being a witch.

Primarily I feel this way because our producers just told me I should feel this way, during a conversation that invoked such colorful phrases as: "keyboard monkey", "totally expendable", and "only slightly more valuable than the plants in my office, so watch your step."

Sorry David. I welcome your benign, charming, and presumably non-Satanic magical powers to our humble program, and I encourage everyone to come down and check them out LIVE, JANUARY 15th, 4pm, AT THE BOXCAR STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO!

In addition to Mr. Blatter, we're going to be chatting with Joe Rock of 107.7 (The Bone), who will tell us absolutely everything there is to know about the wide world of sports and the comparably narrow (but still pretty wide by the standards of other things) world of rock and roll.

That's right, I said everything there is to know, and I mean that literally, and I'm committing him to that astronomical task without even speaking to the man about it first. And I'm okay with that.

Not only that, we'll also welcome PianoFight back to the show! See, once we get out coils around you, there's no escape; one appearance will invariably lead to another, and then probably another after that, until we basically own you. Someday we'll have the entire Bay Area under our command, and after that, the world!

But first, awesome sketch comedy from the Bay Area's longest-running sketch comedy group. That's how it works see, sketch comedy first, total world domination second, that's the formula we worked out. Seems solid.

And our headliner this time will be Jeff Bodean; actor, reality TV star, entrepreneur, eccentric billionaire, and friend of Iron Man.

No, seriously, the dude knows Iron Man, see:

Now that's some serious business right there.

According to his IMDB page, Jeff has a baritone voice, is of "average" physique, plays four instruments (including the accordion), speaks three languages, and...does magic? Wow, damn, what's with all the magic in this episode? If we don't keep an eye on these guys we'll have rabbits and doves popping out of everything, and God only knows where that'll lead.

Yep, we're booked pretty solid for this show. Why do so many people all of a sudden want to appear on our program? Well, we take it as evidence that we are just completely awesome. Frankly, we always thought so, but it's nice to have it confirmed in such stark and irrefutable terms.

Don't worry though, because as our audience, you'll have the first opportunity to ride our coattails to success. Better hop on now though, because they're bound to fill up fast, and will likely become quite exclusive in the near future.

Once again, those wishing to bask in our glory (oh, and see some awesome guests and first-class comedy, but mainly we're all about self-serving glory now) can do so LIVE, JANUARY 15th, 4pm, AT THE BOXCAR THEATER STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO!

This one's gonna be good. I know because a fortune cookie told me so, and they're right at least 18% of the time. I keep track.

Friday, January 7, 2011

David Blatter is after my job!

I don't have any evidence of that, but just look at this copy from his site:

"Currently he is working on an effect which involves a guitar, a sparkletts bottle, a deck of cards, and a blind-fold-wrap your mind around that combination for a minute. Don't you want to find out what happens?"

Okay, three things:

1. That's funny.

2. That sounds just like something I would write. Except maybe slightly funnier. In fact, his site is full of idiosyncratic witticisms and quirky self-deprecation! It's exactly what I would write if I were him. And if I could be him, that means he could be me!

3. I, um, only actually had those two things. I just like to do lists of three items. It's kind of my thing.

On one hand, I'm pleased that we have Mr. Blatter lined up as a guest. On the other hand, I'm chronically paranoid and insecure, and I can't shake the feeling that he is somehow here to replace me. I mean, think about it he does magic; he could make disappear and nobody would ever know how he did it!

Don't believe me? Just look! He has powers, eerie, eerie powers!

Well, those of you who want to find out exactly what Blatter plans to do with that blind-fold can come on down and check him out LIVE, JANUARY 15TH, 4pm, AT THE BOXCAR STUDIOS, 125A HYDE STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO!

I'll be there. And I'll be keeping a close eye on our guest. Your mastery of the Dark Arts doesn't frighten me, Blatter! Because I sleep with a totem made from a petrified snake and some garlic bulbs under my pillow, and it will repel your evil mojo! I'm this close to challenging you to a wizard's duel right there on the set, so don't toy with me!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Further Out of Context Theatre.

I'm not one to say that you hear some strange things around here. I'm one to write them down, and then transmit them electronically.

All parties shall remain anonymous. Except that you know that they all have to be people who work on the show, and that does narrow the field quite a bit, now that I think about it.

And I imagine that if you cast around a bit and asked the right questions, you could probably figure out who is who, because honestly, most of us aren't very smart and in all likelihood tricking us into giving each other way would be embarrassingly easy.

Also, we're very inclined to rat on one another. Doesn't even take much incentive. I'd do it for an ice cream sandwich, I'll tell you that right now.


"There are so many different ways to be offensive, we just have to decide which one we want to go with."

"That's a very good question, and the answer is that it was cold and I was being a bitch."

"Do we even have a white suit? Someone call Mr. Roarke, tell him we need to borrow his wardrobe."

"When I hear something like that it makes me want to get off the couch, take off the Snuggie, and put in an hour or two's worth of work."

"We're really sticking it to PBS. Because if anybody has it coming..."

"Why would I own a top hat?"
"You seem like the type."

"I used to call myself a scientologist, but it turns out that means something different. It was even on my business cards."

"I don't think we can tape the Crusher with strange children. They have laws about that kind of thing."