Catching Up with The Karaoke Kings: Richard Speight Jr and Matt Cohen
Who’s looking forward to the Halloween Party Karaoke at Chicago Con next weekend? We are! Richard Speight Jr and Matt Cohen never fail to turn Karaoke into an amazing experience. You never know what’s going to happen or who’s going to take the stage – but you always know you’re gonna have a blast. We caught up with Richard and Matt recently to ask them about their success as Karaoke Kings and the other exciting things going on.
First we joined the pair for the best hot chocolate in the world at Blenz in Vancouver, where we raved about both our drinks and the karaoke at VanCon the night before. That was the first time the karaoke stage turned into a scene from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, much to our great pleasure (we may have done more than one of those midnight screenings back in the day – you know, the ones where you throw rice and hold newspapers over your head and dress up as – okay, never mind.) Anyway, Rocky Horror fits in with this fandom perfectly! Once you’ve seen Mark Pellegrino’s hip swiveling rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” or Steve Carlson do the Time Warp, your life is complete. When Fandoms Collide!
Lynn: And Mark seems so laid back…
Richard: That’s what’s awesome about that dude, you don’t expect it and then Wham!
Kathy: Same with Julian Richings. (You haven’t experienced all there is in life until you’ve seen Death cavorting around the stage like a flower child at Woodstock.)
Matt: That was the first time I’d met him.
Lynn: Us too! Who expected Death to be so lively??
Richard and Matt are serious about making Karaoke fun. What makes it special for the celebrity guests is when the fans are participating too – not just onstage but in the audience. Standing on their chairs, belting out “Carry On My Wayward Son”, doing the Time Warp along with Steve Carlson. That’s what makes it something we’re all in together.
Richard: How many people do you think were at karaoke last night? I’m bad at guessing.
Matt: I would say four….
Lynn: I was gonna say four thousand.
Everyone: (staring at Lynn like she’s a moron) Four THOUSAND??
Kathy: Lynn exaggerates.
Richard: Wow, you are a terrible guesser. You’d make a bad carney.
Kathy: (is smirking)
Richard: Anyway, I really think guests like Pellegrino make it great. And the surprise guests too.
Us: We asked Mark P if he’d be up for doing an entire Rocky Horror Show karaoke and he said absolutely. He even has the costume.
(We may have then gone through all the characters in our heads and figured out who best to play them. Wanna take a guess who Jared and Jensen and Misha were???)
Kathy: Your Q & A today was hysterical, by the way. I was crying, I was laughing so much.
Lynn: It’s true. She was all red in the face.
Kathy: (is glaring)
Lynn: Matt, when you first started doing the Q & A’s with Richard, you were a bit quieter. Not anymore!
Matt: (laughing) Look at my tutor! I’m a fast learner – and I learned my place with Richard, where he is the pinnacle of the comedy show and I just staked out my every fifth thing he says, I can come up with something funny. I’m not that guy – he’s that guy – so I’m the guy who just goes with it and it just works.
Lynn: You’re pretty damn quick now.
Matt: I don’t have much choice! I can’t walk out onstage for a Q & A with him unless we’ve both had our coffee, and we’re together for like twenty minutes, just so I can get the “Richard” inside me.
Us: (grinning) Sounds dirty.
Matt: Fifty Shades of Richard….
Kathy: Cons are definitely getting away from G-rated….
Matt: It’s great fodder for comedy – you get a group of guys together, when me and Richard and Jared are all sitting around a table, that’s the kind of banter you have, guys are crass. And we’re all so comfortable with it.
Richard: It’s how guys joke anyway. And it’s a weird thing, the cons have gotten less G-rated over time, and a lot funnier. The guys – meaning all of us – are looser, and the looser you are, the quicker your brain functions, the funnier you are and the more honest you are.
Lynn: Which fits the fandom.
Richard: Sometimes. There was someone who tweeted about how inappropriate our ‘Fifty Shades of Everything’ panel in New Jersey was, and it made the Huffington Post! She complained, and I said “we’ve arrived.” I read it and was like, wow – they literally praised what we were doing.
Lynn: You can’t buy publicity like that!
Check out the Huffington Post article here.
We caught up with Richard and Matt again after the Dallas con, once again the “morning after” karaoke.
Richard: Karaoke last night had so much energy, and a lot of new faces – I don’t think I recognized anyone in the entire first row at our Q&A, and it’s usually always some of the same people.
Kathy: There are definitely a lot of newbies here – there have been a lot of new fans since the show went into syndication. People are catching it on TNT, or on Netflix.
Richard: In our meet and greet, one of our questions to the fans was when did you get into the show, and a lot of people were saying it wasn’t until the 6th or 7th season, and they ended up buying all the earlier seasons too.
Lynn: Yay for new fans! By the way, your Q & A was awesome again too.
Matt: (grinning like a little boy) I just checked out Twitter and everyone is going nuts over it!
Kathy: You guys should have your own show.
Richard: With all the new faces, I didn’t know what to expect, but I think they got more than they were expecting, and that was the goal. We wanna be entertaining and we wanna make them laugh, and have some sort of connection with them as we walk around the crowd. That’s kind of our ‘thing’.
Lynn: We like the ‘lightning round’ too (So that nobody ends up not having a chance to ask their question, they do a rapid fire answering of the remaining fans in line once Creation says ‘time’s almost up’.)
Richard: Well, it depends on the questions, whether it works or not, but you’ve gotta be able to maintain your speed. I always parse out the whole experience in my head afterwards. I didn’t want to end this one on the ‘fellate the banana’ thing. (Yeah, you had to be there….)
Kathy: You had a great crowd for karaoke too.
Richard and Matt: Yeah, must have been SIX THOUSAND – right, Lynn??
Lynn: (scowling) Shut up.
Kathy: (is grinning from ear to ear)
Matt: I would guess that we had at least 400 people. I definitely felt good about karaoke last night. It took me about an hour just to sort of deflate my head and close my eyes and go to sleep.
Lynn: We chatted with Chad Lindberg and Gabe Tigerman this morning, and Gabe had like no voice at all – what he did have was more like a growl. He was like, it’s sexy, right??
Richard: That so does not match Gabe.
Lynn: But Chad was totally fine, wide awake and fine.
Matt: He’s a unique individual, he doesn’t need so much sleep. He’s a good egg.
That’s the weird thing, right? These guys are ALL good eggs!
Matt and Richard gave us a rundown of the other projects they’re involved in right now (when they’re not out shopping for their Halloween costumes for karaoke in Chicago, that is.)
Last weekend Richard and Rob Benedict reprised their roles as Kodpiece and Danger Bottom at New York Comic Con. If you haven’t seen their hilarious alter egos, check out their gamespot coverage from NYCC at http://www.comicvine.com/
Matt and Amy Gumenick are gearing up to film Evicted, about a woman who’s being (literally) erased from existence. Sounds pretty terrifying actually, but it will warm our hearts to see Matt and Amy teamed up romantically again, since they play boyfriend and girlfriend.
We chatted with Richard about the chapter he’s writing for one of our upcoming books, Fan Phenomena – all about his unique position as the ‘master of ceremonies’ at Supernatural conventions, a sort of man in the middle who excels at bringing fans and celebs together so everyone ends up having a blast. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with!
And Matt is set to reprise his role as Sheriff Bitsy Calhoun on Season 2 of Cowgirl Up, which will no doubt see him in miniskirt and midriff top showing off his (great) legs once again. If that doesn’t inspire you to contribute to the project’s kickstarter campaign, we don’t know what will —
And then there’s Hard Crime, which both Matt and Richard are working on!
Lynn: So tell us a little bit about Hard Crime, the short film you’re working on – which also stars Richard, Gabe, Amy Gumenick, Kat Fiore (Gabe’s wife) and Mandy Musgrave (Matt’s wife)!
Matt: It’s funny, it’s kinda turned into a passion project for the fandom in a strange way. My buddy Lee Ehlers is a new up and coming writer, and he wrote a wonderful script called Throbbing Justice…
Lynn and Kathy: (are snickering)
Matt: The lead character’s name is Jack Thunder and it’s this whole over the top crime thing paying homage to Chuck Norris, Steven Seagall, Bruce Wilis. Sony picked up his script and repped it for a little while but it just got no action, so we decided to make a short film loosely based on that character. So instead of Jack Thunder, he creates Vic Hammer, who I play. And of course I jumped at the opportunity to have Richard in the project. And Amy and Gabe and Gabe’s wife and my wife. For a short film, it’s got a super awesome cast, not only for the Supernatural fans, but a throwback to the South of Nowhere fans. Me and my wife haven’t acted together in years, and we have a great scene where she plays my psychotic ex-wife. So we’re editing and special effecting and it will probably be released in January, probably on Funny Or Die and another website called 101.com. Like a short film contest. It’ll be available for the fans.
Kathy: What a treat for SPN fans, having so many of you together.
Matt: For me, it was kinda a dream come true. You know, Richard and I do so much stuff together, but we’ve never actually acted together.
Richard: I never acted with any of these guys. Not Rob, not Matt, not Misha, maybe Misha briefly – I’ve never been onscreen with Pellegrino, Sheppard, none of these guys.
Matt: It brought out the brilliance in everybody, I think. I’m super excited about it and to see what the fans think of it. It’s absolutely a ridiculous concept. My character is a kind of beat cop, who senses crime through his erection.
Lynn and Kathy: (are not looking where it’s just natural to look when someone says something like that….no really, we weren’t….)
Sebastian Roche, Mark Sheppard and Mark Pellegrino joined us in the green room for a while, and we spent a few minutes discussing our books and the Show. Mark was a bit surprised that Supernatural was popular enough to have people writing multiple books about it.
Mark S: How many people follow Supernatural?
Lynn and Kathy: A lot! (Obviously not the kind of statistic Mark was looking for but hey, we’ve already proven ourselves bad with numerical estimates….)
Mark S: How was karaoke last night? I was so tired!
We all assured Mark that his trademark Crowley-esque “NO” answer to anything and everything Richard asks him to do onstage during karaoke had already developed a fan following.
Richard: You keep saying no and somehow you just keep charming the fans.
Lynn and Kathy: (are charmed)
Mark S: For the fans, this is the only time they get us in completely unfettered surroundings.
Richard: It is – I mean, we all know that we hang out in the green room together, but nobody sees that. But they see it at karaoke.
Lynn: And everyone is on the same level – you’re being crazy, we’re being crazy.
Mark S: And everyone sees that, yeah.
We can’t wait for the next installment of Dick and Matt’s Karaoke Party – next stop Chicago!