Dana John Gould is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer and voice artist who has been featured on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central. He will be performing a live stage reading of Plan 9 at the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival on October 11th.
Dana stopped by to chat about the project.
How did you hear about the Sleepy Hollow Festival?
Taylor White, one of the festival’s founders, is a good friend of mine and when he was the person who first told me about it. He mentioned the idea of doing Plan 9 at the festival (he had seen it here in LA), I leapt at the idea. I thought Sleepy Hollow in October was, quite simply, a place that I wanted to be at, and I knew that the people who do the show with me are likeminded enough that they would make the journey as well. Also, it’s near where they filmed House Of Dark Shadows, which was an extra enticement for me.
What made you want to do a live stage reading of Plan 9?
The idea originally came from a friend of mine named Chris Nichols. Chris was organizing a benefit show for the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in LA, which is a beautiful, historic building that developers are dying to turn into an ugly parking lot. Chris came to me with the idea of doing a live stage reading of the script. It was one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that??” moments. It seemed like the next best thing to inventing a time machine and going back to the 1950’s and somehow putting your butt into the actual movie. I cast the first show out of my address book with comedian friends and actor pals, and just having them read it straight… I have to tell you, I knew it would be funny, but I had no idea how funny. How consistently funny this script was all the way through. All the way through. There is not a dead patch in there.
How did that idea all come together and how long did it go from concept to reality?
I cast the first show out of my address book with comedian friends and actor pals, and just having them read it straight… I have to tell you, I knew it would be funny, but I had no idea how funny. How consistently funny this script was all the way through. All the way through. There is not a dead patch in there. After that I did it at Largo here in LA as a Halloween show, and then Janet Varney who is in the show, invited us up to San Francisco to do it as part of Sketchfest. Every time we do it we add a little flourish here and there. It just gets better and better.
What do you think the enduring appeal is of Plan 9 and why people still talk about it?
I have no idea. But I will say one of the contributing factors, I feel, is the sincerity. I think that underneath all of the liquor and ineptitude and angora sweaters, is the fact that this film was made by a group of friends who loved each other and believed in what they were doing. Or believed in having a good doing what they were doing. I can’t really explain it, but nothing in the films feels cynical. It’s like watching a very little kids’ school play. It aches with sincerity.
How would you describe the stage show for those who don’t know?
It’s a live stage reading. It’s like watching actors perform a radio play. It’s not staged like a play. The actors sit in chairs and stand at the mics when they are in a scene. But the talent of the cast – it’s an amazing amazing cast – and the unintentional hilariousness of the dialogue, really makes it a solid, rollicking hour and half. We also have Vampira, transvestites and flying saucers. Just like Ed did.
What do you think are key ingredients for good comedy?
Brains. And a willingness to not use them.
Do you have a favourite kind of comedy?
Yes, I love smart / stupid comedy: people who are clearly very, very, smart doing the stupidest stuff. The sword fight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; these guys know Arthurian Legend, they went to Oxford and Cambridge, but they know that having a guy gout blood when his arm is cut off and pretend it’s not happening is funny. Or Dr. Strangelove. You have Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern naming characters “Col. Bat Guano.” I mean, Jesus….
Any of the other acts you’re particularly excited to see?
I am very excited to see Jeffrey Combs’ Edgar Allen Poe show. We are dragging him down to our level on Friday night, but on Saturday he goes all out with his Poe show. Also, the documentary Making Apes is really amazing. Highly recommended!
What would you like audiences to take away from Plan 9?
People have come up to us after performances and said, “That is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.” I’ll take that. I mean, it’s a show for fans. If you come to the Sleepy Hollow Film Festival. If you were a monster kid or a movie nut, this is a deep, Mystery Science Theater level dive into something that’s very special to you.
You’re doing a comedy tour over the coming months; can you tell us about that? Any chance of coming to Toronto?
Now that you mention it, YES! Let me get on that…. I love Toronto. I’m friends with the Kids In The Hall. Dave Foley is in Plan 9 at Sleepy Hollow, and Kevin MacDonald has done it in the past. I gotta call my agent!