Stevie Ryan Talks Stevie TV series debut March 4th on VH1
Like Justin Bieber, the Workaholics, and Fred Figglehorn before her, Stevie Ryan is taking her unique sense of humor from the Internet to television with VH1's latest original series Stevie TV, a new sketch comedy showcase that's guaranteed to tear pop culture and its current denizens a new one. A burgeoning voice that promises (or rather threatens) to boom loud over the current comedy scene, Stevie is set to do some serious battle when her show drops on March 4th, helping to lead a new revolution in original DIY programming. With a Joe Banks sized trunk full of impersonations and hilarious characters, this young woman's talent knows no bounds. And if nothing else, Stevie TV promises to be a very fun ride. If you don't know Stevie Ryan just yet, don't worry, soon you'll be sick of hearing her name (#barf).
We recently caught up with the Garbage Pail Kids loving multi-hyphenate to chat about her upcoming break into the television landscape. What does she have in store for us? Read our conversation to find out as we prepare for Episode 1.01: Pilot.
Al TV, for a long time, was synonymous with VH1. Now we have Stevie TV. Is there any correlation between the two? Do you look to him in any way for inspiration?
Stevie Ryan: Who are we talking about? I'm sorry...
Al TV! Weird Al Yankovic!
Stevie Ryan: Oh! 'Weird Al' Yankovic! I didn't know who you were talking about. I didn't know there was an Al TV, first of all. What year was that?
I think it started around 1984 on MTV, then in the 90s, he moved over to VH1.
Stevie Ryan: First, I wasn't born in 1984. Then, I didn't really get into TV until the past six or seven years. I have always known about 'Weird Al' Yankovic. Because 'Weird Al' Yankovic is awesome. I grew up listening to his cassettes. Because we didn't have CDs yet, or MP3s. We didn't get the name or idea from Al TV. We got the idea...Tell me, do you remember Garbage Pail Kids? You have to remember Garbage Pail Kids...
Yeah, of course I do...
Stevie Ryan: There is a Garbage Pail Kid with the name Stevie. That is my actual name. I was born with the name Stevie, and I was never able to find pencils or stickers with the name Stevie on them. It was always Steve. My dad would always have to draw in the little i. Well, there was this Garbage Pail Kid...My brothers were obsessed...And there was this one kid named Stevie. And he is Tee-Vee Stevie. I'd found one of these at a little antique store. I found the Tee-Vee Stevie, so I bought it, and I scanned it, and sent it around to everyone while I was making the pilot. VH1 saw it, and they were like, "Oh, my god! That is the perfect title. But let's call it Stevie TV, not Tee-Vee Stevie..." And so that is how we got the name. Its not from Al TV, or Frank TV...Because there was Frank TV, too, on TBS, which I didn't know about...But either way, I love 'Weird Al'. And that is how we got the name for the show.
Yeah. I know 'Weird Al' hit the scene in 1982, but the kids today know all about him. He's as popular as ever, so I thought maybe you were a fan. With this Garbage Pail Kid, are you tweaking that image? Are you going to use that for any of your upcoming promotional materials?
Stevie Ryan: No, Unfortunatly not. I would like to. I wish...But I am sure it would be a whole legal issue and mess to try and figure that out. I was definitely inspired by that. I thought it was cool. That Garbage Pail Kid in that photo is actually me. He has all of those TVs around him, and he is shooting himself with a camera. I feel like that manifested my destiny, that Garbage Pail Kids card.
You should go try to dig the actual Garbage Kids out of storage. That movie bombed and those poor children are rotting away somewhere, in some storage shed.
Stevie Ryan: You've seen the movie? Okay, good! Because not too many people remember the movie. Or have seen it. They had it streaming on Netflix two or three years ago. I was obsessed. Because the movie is so bad, but so awesome. I am shocked that you know the movie. No one ever knows what I am talking about.
I have that movie on DVD. It's got Mackenzie Astin in it, right?
Stevie Ryan: I don't know who's in it! I just know that it's bad. And it looks crazy. The puppets are kind of cool. I think the plastic giant scary kids are kind of cool. But I don't know who is in it. I know there is a little boy, and he is like the only real person in it. I don't know who that is. Don't ever ask me who anyone is. I don't know anyone in Hollywood. Like in movies, I don't know, cause its just TV for me!
That's funny. You should track Mackenzie Astin down and get him on your show...
Stevie Ryan: I need to track down those puppets, or outfits, or whatever they are. Yeah, and use them. They are very scary.
The Ali Gator kid is terrifying. And they're all perverted looking.
Stevie Ryan: They are all very scary. The baby one in the diaper is the scariest one of all to me, because he acts like a crazy grown-up with a scratchy voice. And he's a baby? It's so weird...
The kid who stars in that comes from quite the storied TV background, since you are more into TV. His mom is Patty Duke from the Patty Duke show, and his dad was Gomez on the Addams Family. He was on the Facts of Life around the time that movie came out.
Stevie Ryan: Are you serious?
Yeah. His brother is Sean Astin, from The Goonies, and Rudy. The Lord of the Rings...All of that good stuff...
Stevie Ryan: Oh, wow! I had no idea. I guess you know everything, huh?
It's my job! Plus, that is such a weird movie. The fact that he is in it sticks out in my head.
Stevie Ryan: It is super weird, and I am happy that you know about it!
Back to your own show. We are really seeing a boom in Sketch comedy right now. Portlandia is hitting hard, and Key & Peele are also doing nicely. What's unique about these shows is they've found a particular niche that their sketches are playing to. The shows aren't all over the map. Each one has a theme that ties into the over all arch of the series. What is the theme or angle that ties Stevie TV together? What sort of new voice are you bringing to sketch comedy this Sunday?
Stevie Ryan: Those shows are all awesome. I just watched the first episode of Key & Peele, and it was great. I think what makes our show a little different is that it's from a girl's perspective. Which is mine. Our point-of-view is focused on pop culture and all of these things happening now. It's not me playing on the fact that I'm a girl. It's more about what I think of each of these things. Watching them all as a girl, as a female. It really is all about pop culture. Key & Peele? It is such an amazing show. I think they did an awesome job. But it is a lot of original sketches and characters that they are doing, and playing. Our show really focuses on pop culture, whether it is reality television, or regular television, Facebook, Twitter, we have everything. We have music videos. We have so much stuff. Commercials and everything. Even if it's an original character of mine, its done in a familiar setting, like Facebook, or Twitter, or a music video, or something that has to do with pop culture and is known by the public, if that makes any sense at all. I think, also, no one has ever done anything as centered on pop culture as this. Saturday Night Live is. Very much so. But it is different in that they have a live audience. I also feel that they have a different approach to things. Our show is just as awesome as those shows. I like all of those shows. Our show isn't any better. Its just that we have a girl's point-of-view. Also, its not like Tracey Ullman. She had a lot of original characters. This is a chick's point-of-view. Our demographic's point-of-view. We have these ridiculous things that we are entertained by in pop culture.
You bring up SNL and the demographic you are aiming for. Have you watched SNL these last two seasons?
Stevie Ryan: I watch in and out. It depends on who their host is. Or I'll watch certain videos. I will go and look up certain sketches that I heard were really awesome. Like the Keeping Up with the Kardashians fairy tale divorce. It was so good, and everyone was talking about it. Of course I had to look that one up and watch it. But, especially in the past, like, year...I haven't focused on watching these other sketch shows so I could focus on writing about these things and have my own sketches. Unfortunatly, watching shows like Saturday Night Live, and The Soup, and Key & Peele...You have to kind of stay away from those. You don't want it to mess with your imagination at all. You can see someone do something, and you are like, "Oh, it is going to ruin this idea of mine. I can't do that anymore." When really, it is going to come out a lot different from what they are doing. You know what I mean? I try not to watch too many of those things at the same time. Because I don't want to...I don't know...Feel uninspired. Does that make any sense? I have a hard time making sense usually.
You're making perfect sense to me. Now, this isn't a slam on SNL at all. It's just something that baffles me. I don't understand what they are doing. For the past couple of seasons, the sketches have been really antiquated. Aged beyond anything I can connect with. Lawrence Welk and Vincent Price? Their game show sketches all take place in the 60s and 70s. Who is that connecting with? Who is that for? My mom didn't even watch the Lawrence Welk show. Is this a comment on how lame our current landscape in pop culture is? It seems like you are finding plenty of things to go after and attack...
Stevie Ryan: Well...You know what? I think you are making perfect sense right now, and the other thing they focus a lot on is politics. Things of that nature. For me? I have always stayed away from Politics. Me and my writers feel there is a bottomless pit of things to make fun of this time right now in pop culture. I have never felt like I didn't have anything. We haven't had writer's block. We haven't run out of ideas. Or anything like that. I think, sometimes, it's easy to go off on your own thing in terms of comedy, especially when you are in a room full of likeminded writers. You can hit on an inside joke, and you can sometimes get stuck. You can go in a direction that no one else gets, but you get it. You don't realize that it's not working for everyone, because you get stuck in this comedy bubble. You start forgetting that the rest of the world isn't in on these inside jokes. I don't know if that is what happens at Saturday Night Live, but its happened to us before during the writing process. We've had our writers say, "Whoa, slow down there. You are going in the wrong direction. Get refocused." So, I can see how things can come off wrong. Like you are saying, I understand how you might look at something and say, "What? Who is even connecting with this? Who can even understand this?" In comedy, it's easy to go to these weird places. Because you are sitting with other people who are weird like you. You don't even realize it until you go there, and it doesn't work out. With Saturday Night Live? I don't know if their writers have blocks going on. For me, and this show? It's like, "No!" I don't feel like I can ever run out of stuff. I wish, every day, that the writing process wasn't over. Why are we done shooting? Because I have new ideas every day. There is so much too work from right now. But I totally understand what you are saying about Saturday Night Live.
Even the idea of regurgitation in entertainment, with sequels and remakes on TV, that has to be heavy with potential for spoof or commentary. It's the old new...
Stevie Ryan: Yeah. There is. This is something even I started complaining about, too. Why are there all of these remakes? They do these remakes because they know it was already successful. People are so afraid to try new things. To take money too something new. If this stuff has already been successful, you're guaranteed, in a way, that it will be successful again. At least slightly successful. It doesn't even matter if the second product ceases to be good, or better than the first product. I think its people not wanting to take a gamble or risk. They want to stay safe. They don't want to make these new things that could be epic failures. Instead, they just want to make these remakes. And I don't get it, because I think its weird. Even now, there are three Snow White movies. Why are there so many of the same things everywhere? That's one of the things we are doing with this show. We are calling that out. These crazy things. These observations that you are making are very much the observations that I am making as well. I am the only one saying these things, and no one else is saying anything about it. So, we are calling everyone out. That is the vibe, I would say. Other comedy shows, you watch them, and you feel like, "Ha, that was great and funny." With our show, I think you are going to say, "That was great and funny, but I feel like someone just got their ass kicked...I'm really not sure who...But I think it was Hollywood." Which means I will end up getting my own ass kicked by Hollywood in return. But I don't care. Oh, well.
You're incredibly young. You are just out of your teens, right?
Stevie Ryan: You are right!
I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel here, so to speak, with your generation. Your show is bringing a fresh voice. You have new ideas, new catchphrases, things that are starting to seep into other aspects of entertainment. A show like Workaholics is doing the same thing. We're finally getting something new that doesn't feel like a regurgitation of the 80s and early 90s, because that stuff has already been eaten, shit out, and eaten again. It's like the Human Centipede of entertainment. Eventually the tail dies because it can't digest anymore of the shit.
Stevie Ryan: I agree with that. First of all, I love Workaholics! I think it's fucking hilarious. I think it's a great show. This generation? We have Facebook...Look, I'm young, but I didn't have Facebook and MySpace in High School. I was right out of high school when all of that stuff started to really blow up. When I figured it out. But right now, we have Facebook, and Myspace, which is sort of irrelevant, but I still bring it up...We have Youtube and cameras, we can make our own movies on our phone, and we can Skype with our friends. We have had more freedom and bigger voices than any other generation. It's kind of creepy. When you are growing up, think about it? You have these twelve year olds who are photoshopping shit. By the time they are in their twenties? They will be amazing at photoshop. All of these things are coming into play right now, and we are growing up and turning into adults with all of these tools that allow us to express ourselves as artists. We didn't know this stuff before. It's teaching us that we have bigger voices than we ever had before. It's showing us that the traditional way to do things isn't the only way. That's what I have really discovered. I was able to get a show, because I had this body of work that I built all by myself with these technical devices and tools. I am having these revelations. I have the power to do what I want to do in my life. I don't have to wait for someone to give me this opportunity. I can create it myself. I think we are all having this realization. We don't have to create things by ourselves. We don't have to do it the traditional way. Why? Why should we? I don't have to be a regular actress and wait to book the right audition to get on a TV show. Why can't I be an actress, writer, producer, and editor, and just make my own stuff, and put it on line. Why do it the traditional way when you can do it your own way? And have things work out good for you. This way is even better, because you have advanced yourself in so many skills. I think, right now, we have more opportunities than ever. It's showing us, like I said...We don't have to go the traditional route. We don't have to do what our parents did. We don't have to do what their parents did. We have more tools in our toolbox. If we want to use them. It's a realization that we are all starting to act upon. I think the business, especially...It wants to be told that the traditional way isn't right. Now, film and television is opening up to this a little more. Its letting people experiment. They are seeing that it's working out. So, that's what it is. We are seeing that the traditional way isn't the only way. Guess what? It actually works at the same time. It's good for me.
I think its great. It's like, your generation showed that they didn't care about a Footloose remake, because you didn't care about Footloose. So we're not going to see a Footloose 3. With all of these remakes happening now, so soon after the original, there is nothing for your generation to remake. Hollywood is really forcing your hand. Your generation is going to have to make something new over the span of the teens. You have to, to keep entertainment alive...
Stevie Ryan: You are so right, and I hadn't even thought about why I got so deep into creating my own content. Its because there wasn't any content for me to be entertained by. I had to entertain myself. And these other people online. That's what it is. Of course we don't care about the Footloose remake. Why would we? We have the internet. We can go watch someone else's Footloose remake, making fun of the Footloose remake. We don't even care about Footloose anyway. It is a weird time. But I think it's awesome. I think when you can use it in a smart way, and not be destructive with it, you can create amazing things with it.
The great thing for you, that you have to understand, is that the older audience is going to gravitate towards you, too, because they are sick of the regurgitation. Its old! You can't eat the same thing every night. I think we are in the midst of a great revolution and an evolution. I think this has the potential to carry through in a great line.
Stevie Ryan: I agree.
Can you give us a little sneak preview of what we are going to see in the first episode?
Stevie Ryan: I love this question. We will be leaking a few sketches of the show, to give people an idea that they might want to watch. But we premiere this Sunday, March 4th, at 11 pm. So, let me think...In this first episode...We are in the process of putting it all together, so its been a little crazy...In this first episode, you can expect to see a variety of characters. That goes from Kim Kardashian, unfortunately, to Justin Bieber, to Katy Perry. The first episode is really awesome. We have some really strong stuff. And we have everything from commercials to music videos, to...Gosh, what else is on there...Falling in love with Ryan Gosling. So, it's a really great first episode. It has a really big variety of everything. I am super stoked. Our lead in is no_show|Mob Wives, which is such an intense, crazy show. Then to end a crazy show like that with something so lite and cool whip, like our show? It's going to be awesome, I think.
Last question. Crazy Stupid Love. Have you seen it, and is that the movie that made you fall in love with Ryan Gosling? That's the movie that did it for me.
Stevie Ryan: I haven't seen Crazy Stupid Love, unfortunately. What made me fall in love with Ryan Gosling was...I went to an awards show. Brad Pitt came out, and George Clooney came out, and all these other guys came out. No one really cared. Then, all of a sudden, Ryan Gosling came out. I thought there was an earthquake. But then I looked up, and I saw this beautiful creature standing on stage. I never paid much attention to that. I was always too busy to fall into fake love. But I was like, "AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" He is actually quite beautiful, and I guess he is more charming than any of the other guys in real life. So, I see why everyone is in love with Ryan Gosling, including me...To some extent.
I never thought I'd like him in a movie. But I really dug him in Crazy Stupid Love. Its hard not to develop a man crush on him a little bit. You need to go rent that as soon as you can get your hands on it.
Stevie Ryan: See! All of the guys are telling me Drive. They are like, "You gotta see Drive! Drive is fucking awesome. And he is fucking awesome in Drive!
Sorry. I like Crazy Stupid Love better.
Stevie Ryan: Interesting. I will make sure I check it out!