Chris Bonno is a man of many talents. He was voted the funniest comedian in Austin, Texas. His television credits include writing for VH1 and Spike. He has appeared on Just Shoot Me, The Drew Carey Show, and Mad About You. Chris is also a prolific painter whose work has been purchased by the likes of Paul Provenza, Andy Kindler, Kelly Carlin, Rick Overton, and many others.
Bonno’s latest project is a hilarious, eclectic, web-based series titled Electric Bonnoland. This is the point where I am supposed to summarize or describe the material. But Electric Bonnoland is so unique and, well, unique, that my words cannot do it justice. What follows is a description from the artist himself followed by a clip from the series. Enjoy, if you dare.
AmericasComedy.Com: Give us a synopsis of what Electric Bonnoland is all about.
Chris Bonno: Electric Bonnoland is a show I have in my head that’s been defining itself as it goes. If you look at the “pre-episode” I wanted to get something up online but I didn’t know what it was. So I filmed a ton of stuff on my laptop and handed it all over to my editor friend Michael Foster, to start putting it together. So it has some gags in it, a little music, art and silliness.
Overall, I think what I want to do is make a show that has the goofy randomness of the old Monkees show, with a song in as many episodes as I can get in, but I also want to interview creative people AND make a show as WEIRD as I want to make it JUST BECAUSE. I want to surprise my audience so they go to the show partially to see what surprises are up my sleeve. That’s why I think if they hang in for the full 3 and 1/2 minutes they’ll get their “free” money’s worth. I like the idea of packing as much entertainment into a 3 1/2 minute episode and changing it up every week and definitely going for the laugh in as many ways as I know how. To insure that, for the last two episodes, I’ve been editing them by myself so I can get at what I REALLY want the jokes to be and how they’re presented. The show is so much in its infancy.
AC: The show is so unique, do I dare ask what influenced your ideas, or is this just you being you?
CB: A lot of the episodes came from saying, “Shit, we did the last one, now what will this one be? Then I’d hear something in a conversation that would resonate and start building on that. The Clocks and Socks episode about me being late for something started from me being late to pick up my other collaborator Jimmy Lee Wirt. He had started writing a song singing into his phone, “you’re so bad at time management, you’re so bad at time management.” I liked the sound of it and then sang/improvised a couple of verses which I had him record, then we went back and wrote the song. The episode became about me being ridiculously late,
That’s all the long way round to say that I like the ideas and jokes to spring from my imagination and I look to things around me, what’s resonating “subject wise” for the week (almost like a lesson that I’m supposed to be learning) and then home in on it.
I REALLY like the last one “Turnabout Intruder”, because it’s more “me” creatively than most of the others. It’s getting closer to what the show feels like in my head I got the timing I wanted in the interview section and the hallucinatory jokes and fun in the fantasy sequence with Jimmy editing it because he had the effects angle down and could do them fast. I like breaking the show up and shifting gears mid -thought if I can.
AC: You’re art is all over the place, from stand-up, to painting, to acting, and now creating your own universe in video. Do you find this particular outlet freeing in a way?
CB: I LOVE making these things. I DO find it freeing to express myself artistically with video and sound, but it can be all encompassing (and I have a lot of little and big pieces of art that I owes some folks) so I have to find a balance. I DO love it and learning to edit has made it MUCH better although both Mike and Jimmy have their own awesome gifts to provide. Mike’s expensive camera made the “Fried” episode look pretty extraordinary even though I personally looked rough around the edges. That’s why it’s called “Fried.” I was. That’s pretty much what that episode was about, exhaustion and still wanting to create something original and spectacular.
AC: Electric Bonnoland has gotten high praise in the comedy world. Did you expect that kind of positive response?
CB: I’d hoped that people might recognize something I may have to offer. Like, that I had the ability to show them something they’ve never seen before and get them to laugh or think in a different way in the process. So it’s a great honor to have the support of these folks, like Rick Overton, Paul Provenza and Kelly Carlin to name a few. Hal Sparks digs them too. Good to have sincere and emphatic praise and/or acceptance of these little comedy experiments.
AC: What can people expect from future episodes?
CB: They can expect that I will try to surprise them with variety and shift the show on a whim. I’ve been improvising moments and cutting them to create a rhythm and hopeful a natural progression of some of the weirdness and silliness of it. I will always keep my eye open for bits I’ve come up with that can be regular or semi regular features (I like the “Fifteen Minute Minute” and hope to do more FAST interviews cut together rhythmically. Also lining up some other celebrity guests for that and for cameos in bits. Also, I’m going to write, literally “write” some episodes that mimic tv as well as surprise the viewer when they get past the opening card. Take them on a journey. Hope more people see it and enjoy my approach or just laugh at their homes and share the shows with others.
About the Author: Darren Staley is the host of Atari-winning podcast Dylan Brody's Neighbor's Couch, based out of North Carolina or Los Angeles. He is known in comedy circles as "Who?" or "Oh, That Guy." Darren's two biggest fears are spiders and Paul Provenza.