You may know Janet Varney from that one thing. Oh, what is it, that thing you enjoy and makes you laugh out loud! There are quite a few things “that” could be though because Janet currently finds herself excelling in many different areas of entertainment. Whether you enjoy podcasts, television shows, web series or even puppetry Varney is your girl. I caught up with her Tuesday to talk about all her recent projects including season 3 of Stan Against Evil and her new web series Fortune Rookie. In Fortune Rookie she plays a version of herself, where a bathroom psychic tells her that she has “the gift” and she decides to quit acting to become a medium. She read my palm and told me I have happy hands which probably cements the truth, she shouldn’t have quit her day job.
Stan Against Evil – Season 3
Season 3 of SAE, what is happening with Evie this season?
Is maybe not expressed out loud the hope she feels that after the incredible snafu between her and Stan at the end of last season that he won’t be keeping secrets from her. It’s her hope that she and Stan will have wrestled through this big challenge that they face at the end of season two and is rectified at the beginning of season 3 that they need one another and Stan will start making decisions based on what is best for all of them. However, he immediately makes the same big decisions in this misguided effort to protect everyone else that ends up putting them in way worse trouble if he had just left well enough alone.
How do you keep a straight face during all this camp?
We have a good time, such a good time. I’ve gotten good at working with funny people and not ruining their take by laughing in the middle of their scene. It’s semi-easy with Evie, she’s so steely-eyed with everything, she has that Clint Eastwood way of handling her frustrations. Clench your jaw, take a deep breath, gulp, keep your anger down. It helps to be in that mode with that kind of character. It has to be harder for Deborah, she’s a total pro, but she’s playing Denise who is such a whackadoo.
Do you prefer Atlanta over Hollywood?
California spoils people, I don’t understand being bright out and raining. But I do love Atlanta.
Interview With Janet Varney – Fortune Rookie Web Series
So Fortune Rookie, how did this come about?
I have long been fascinated with the paranormal, obviously, I’m not alone in that. When I was little I’d read books about what makes someone psychic or try to move a ball across the room with my mind, they never moved. But like so many kids I wanted to believe in the wonder of it all.
The idea of playing someone who is psychic is very appealing, but also the reality of my cynicism I have to acknowledge I would not be the best person to be psychic. There is some nice tension about wanting to believe and not wanting to believe. I actually saw a psychic, for the first time if that tells you anything, I did not have the feeling of wonder I was hoping for based on the way my friend sold it to me. It did, however, continue to build my interest in this, especially in a city like LA that is so goofball about so many other things. This idea of a version of me who is willing to abandon all else in order to be special in a way a Hollywood actress doesn’t get to be just really tickled me.
I am obsessed with the way you incorporated Psych! With James Roday as a jealous fake psychic wanting you to back off his game, the show is a sure hit!
I really loved having the idea of having James Roday as being this jerk version of himself. We both play ourselves but people we are not. People in an alternate universe we’d be the most afraid of being. Being a jerk is so much fun! There is some great cross-over with Psych for sure. I also brought in Fred Armisen and I realized quickly that Fortune Rookie also has a Portlandia feel. A sense of making fun of a place you also clearly love. Obviously, I invited the best of the best to come and play with me and they agreed which only goes to show what a great place this is and how wonderful the people are.
Such fun guest stars, are they all your friends?
We wrote for the people, we didn’t do auditions. This was fun because when you know someone you can write for their voice. It makes the whole process of writing joyful. I never got sick of this show, never during the editing process, it never stopped being fun. I’ve never been so enthusiastic to share something that came from my brain with the rest of the world before.
Do you plan on taking Fortune Rookie into a full-length show at some point?
Absolutely that is the intention. This version shows the potential for it to be longer and make it bigger with what we had. I’d love to grow it out and make it bigger, make this my full-time job. The good news is it can be my full-time job along with Stan Against Evil so no worries.
Which means of psychic reading do you prefer?
I was very excited to bring cheese reading, it is an actual thing. There are other crazy ways of reading fortunes we haven’t been able to show yet. For example, telling a fortune based on animal paw prints around your yard. It’s just amazing. I feel such a tenderness towards the human race when I research this stuff, it shows we just want to find meaning in things. That’s one of the best ways of illustrating this idea with Fortune Rookie. We just really want to have a sense of understanding or control in our lives. And that’s never really gone away in our evolution as a species. I went kind of deep there for you, but those are thoughts I have going through it. Sometimes the answer is inside you, and you just need the right tools to find it.
Janet Varney Is So Extra – Other Projects She Has On Her Plate
You seem to be involved in a lot of things. What else would you like your fans to know right now?
I’d love for people to know about my comedy festival, SF Sketch Fest. It will include improv, tv channels, podcasts, movies, music, basically any form comedy can take. That will be happening in January and it’s the 18th year. I founded it in 2001 with Cole Stratton and David Owen.
And finally for a fun question, is there a specific actor or actress you’d like to work with?
I would love to work with Emma Thompson in any capacity, even if it were just to bring her a cup of coffee on set.
You can catch Fortune Rookie on both IFC and YouTube. Stan Against Evil season 3 debuts on Halloween night on IFC, Hulu and a few other streaming services. Janet hosts her podcast entitled The JV Club on Nerdist and you can catch up on her older episodes there as well. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for SF Sketch Fest in San Fransisco early next year. Yes, Janet keeps busy. I can see why she might have dreams of leaving all this behind to read cheese and paw prints, but let’s hope she doesn’t because she’s fantastic at her day job.