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Robert Ben Garant|
Michael Ian Black
Michael Ian Black
|Theme music composer||Glen Roven|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original network||Comedy Central|
|Original release||April 1, 1997– December 1, 1999|
|Related shows||The State|
The show stars Thomas Lennon as Meredith Laupin, Kerri Kenney as the former Mrs. (Agatha) Laupin, and Michael Ian Black as "your cool-ass pal" Johnny Blue Jeans. In addition to comedy sketches, the show featured musical guests and various performers, including Ben Stiller. Periodically, a troupe of women called “The Swimsuit Squad” would dance much like the “Fly Girls” on In Living Color.
The show's premise was derived from a sketch from The State called "The Mr. and Former Mrs. Laupin Variety Program", and the show featured many people who were a part of the comedy troupe.
Though Mr. Laupin, the former Mrs. Laupin, and Johnny Blue Jeans were themselves characters, the show did not use recurring characters or feature impersonations. Often, the troupe would address or involve the audience directly; in one theme of this vein, Mr. Laupin and the former Mrs. Laupin would do an old-fashioned plug for their fake sponsor during actual airtime.
One in particular had the former Mrs. Laupin asking consumers to ignore or fix errors on their sponsor's products, including a cereal, “Sweety Balls”, in which the second e was replaced with an a.
The other common sketch theme was a game show with an odd premise, such as “Plant or Animal”, where an audience member was asked to attribute a few seconds-long recording to either an animal or Robert Plant. This proved more difficult than one might anticipate.
Another sketch of this style was “Klingon or Galliano”, where an audience member was shown runway models in various outfits and was asked if they were wearing costumes for Klingons from the science fiction series Star Trek or made by fashion designer John Galliano. This also proved more difficult than one might anticipate. The participant's consolation prize of a tribble coat, presented by an allergic Johnny Blue Jeans, made light of Galliano's controversial use of fur.
On January 29, 2011, at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, California a two-show reunion of Viva Variety was held as part of the 10th annual San Francisco Sketchfest. Lennon, Kenney-Silver and Black reunited for a live, on-stage performance of Viva Variety, with a guest appearance by State alumnus Robert Ben Garant. These sold out shows included video highlights from the original show on the "jumbotron" and new, improvised material by the cast.
Skits included: a game of "Thomas vs. George", where an audience member had to guess which Jefferson was being described, Johnny Blue Jeans ranked the Police Academy movies in order of cinematic importance, Mr. Laupin pretended to surf while letting inappropriate joke waves pass by, and the former Mrs. Laupin sold Perma-ham as only she can.