Baron Vaughn is an American comedian and actor known for his portrayal of Nwabudike "Bud" Bergstein on the Netflix television series Grace and Frankie with Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and Lily Tomlin.
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I can currently be seen on Netflix's “Grace & Frankie,” a documentary I created called “Fatherless” on Fusion, and last, but not least, I am the new voice of Tom Servo in the revival of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” premiering on Netflix this Friday, April 14th. That's right: they call me Johnny Projects.
And I see i wrote yesterday's date in my proof. Proof that I'm "overworked".
This was fun. We shall do it again some other another. Good day. And good een.
I'm looking forward to the new MST3k! (Hope you guys don't make Netflix crash on Friday...). How did you get the role as the new Tom Servo?
When Joel picked Jonah to be "the guy," he left it to Jonah to figure out who he thought would be good for the bots. A big thing about the show is it HAS to feel like you're hanging with your buds watching that bad movie. So the chemistry between the host and bots is key. Mistakenly, Jonah thought that I would be perfect for Servo because of my inherent pomposity and theatricality. To that I say PISH POSH!
I remember you as an extremely precocious young man who used to frequent my Video Store back in the 90's (Cash-Back Video).
The thing I remember is that even then, you were certain that you wanted to become an entertainer - what kept you motivated through the lean times, and how does it feel to see your persistence pay off?
Precocious is an UNDERSTATEMENT, but I appreciate your diplomacy. Wakka wakka.
First off, let me say it's INSANE THAT YOU REMEMBER ME! What an honor though, seriously. Glad I made an impression even back then. It's because of y'all that I watched Amadeus, which, I will say without hyperbole, changed my life.
Hard to say what has kept me moving forward. Maybe because I know I was odd enough to stick out in some way people in entertainment would appreciate more than my middle school English class? I always wanted to be out there making people laugh in some way. And if they didn't laugh - making people squirm with thought?
I can already tell this is going to work out very well.
And OTHER left over Hogwart's Houses!
What's it like on the set of Mystery Science 3000?
Any funny or interesting anecdotes to tell?
It's a wild set. Everyone is running around. Puppeteers puppeting. Voices (that's me) voicing. Joel coming up to us grunts every now and then saying something funny or laughing. When Mark Hamill was on set, there was a buzz about the set. There were also a lot of backers walking around. Mark held court like a true MC right up until the moment that someone asked him to read "Goodnight Moon" as the Joker for a child. I think he said something like "That will scare your kid to sleep!" But then he did the first line for us all which made someone gasp In pleasure and almost faint from happiness.
What were the biggest in creating the "Fatherless" documentary, and how did you overcome them?
Biggest what? You're missing a word! I wanna know what word!
What comic book character would you pick to play on film or television?
The Green Lantern, John Stewart. I'd fight creatures from all over the universe and then recap it in my late night satirical news show.
What TV show do you want revived?
The Facts of Life. Imagine it: the millennial version of Tootie. Theme song by Skrillex featuring Drake...
My uncle and I always used to comment on what a talented kid you were and say you were going to "make it" as a star someday - cool that we were right.
You always seemed confident of yourself, what brought you that faith and confidence?
Well honestly, people like you and Uncle Kim. Teachers at school that were very encouraging. Kids at school that I knew I could make laugh. I ended up going to that performing arts high school in Vegas where I was able to sort of put on my various interests together. People there would hold me up instead of put me down. People kept saying "keep going" so I listened.
Simple encouragement goes a long way. And it's free.
What is the very best cheese?
Mozzarella. That's why you can't stop eating pizza. I'm allergic to cheese though so I only have distant memories.
What has been your favorite project so far?
I'd have to say it's my documentary "Fatherless". If you don't have Fusion, we are still talking about how people can attain a copy, so stay tuned on that.
It was a trip. A trip and a half. I really put myself out there to talk about my past, reveal facts about my family (most of which I was learning for the first time), and eventually find the man who helped DNA me into existence. I'm happy that the people who have seen it found it funny and moving. It's the first time I've had the experience of saying "I'm gonna make this thing" and then suddenly it's made.
Baron! You're very musically inclined and tend to burst out in song while doing stand-up ("P+L", "Kiss from a Bros", the Disney Afternoon theme songs). Are there currently any songs you can't help but sing?
Side question that I just thought of cause of the Disney Afternoon thing: are there any contemporary cartoons you enjoy watching?
WELLLLLL, I have been playing the piano a lot just jazzing around. So been singing it to myself trying to figure it out. Just listened to the entirety of Kamasi Washington's "the Epic". Kendrick's new "Humble". Huge fan of a Bootsy Collins' "What's a Telephone Bill?" Also, one time I was looking for Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and found out that Funkadelic has a song called "Jolene" that ain't got nothing to do with Dolly. It's crunchy funk. Also, there's an anime called "One Punch Man" that has a theme song that fits 14 genres and is catchy AF.
Your perfect for the role of Tom Servo!
What movies are the most "unintentionally funny" that you have seen and hope to parody, or have already, on MS3k?
I think I'm still not supposed to say what movies we did for the upcoming MST especially since it comes out in 2 days!
Batman Returns is a movie I'd love to riff.
X-men Origins: Wolverine. Yuck. That movie is YIKES and ZOINKS forced together. Thank GOD they made The Wolverine and Logan. REDEEMED.
OH MAN. Just remember a movie I COULD NOT STOP LAUGHING AT - The Black Dahlia. It's about that famous unsolved murder from the 40s(?), but that movie is OVER THE TOP.
Can't wait to see your interpretation of Tom Servo! From your perspective, which parts of Tom's character are you taking from previous actors' portrayals (Kevin Murphy's songs and rants, for instance) and what of Tom will be strictly you?
That's a hard one. I'll leave it to the public to say what they see me adding to it. That said, I'm trying to stick with the theatricality of Servo and have slowly morphed it in an unearned sense of suaveness. Hmm, suaveness IS a word. Wasn't expecting spellcheck to be like "calm it down, Rico".
Remember when you were kids and someone was like "I can do a backflip!"
And you were all "Prove it!"
And they were all "I don't feel Iike it."
THAT is where my Servo comes from.
Sorry, typing on a laptop that keeps erasing stuff because of the trackpad and thought I re-typed everything.
What were the biggest obstacles in creating the "Fatherless" documentary, and how did you overcome them?
"Obstacles and Challenges" sounds like a band that only talks about method acting. They'd count down songs like "1, 2, 3, Strasberg!"
I had NO idea what I was gonna feel making this doc. I knew what I was aiming for, but I had no idea how it was gonna feel digging up all this stuff. I was afraid for my mom having to tell me about all these hard things that happened. Was worried it would be too painful. Fortunately, it wasn't. And the same goes for me. I feared utter rejection. I feared never gettting answers. I feared pooping myself on a Thursday. But those things didn't happen...
I have to ask you since you were the ultimate "kid of the 90's" in the heyday of the video rental business - do you remember the missing Sinbad genie movie?
Ha!! No I don't! I remember Kazaam! Because that was Shaq.
Maybe people were thinking of the movie Houseguest. To be honest, Sinbad's performance IS magical. Perhaps people are confused because of the spell they were under due to the chemistry Sinbad and Phil Hartman had. Maybe people were confused cuz they thought they got 3 wishes they didn't even know they wanted UNTIL they saw Houseguest.
Are you still doing Stand-up? I would love to see you perform - do you have any shows coming up in Southern California or Las Vegas?
I am always doing stand up. Right now I can't go on the road much because of filming the 4th season of Grace and Frankie - which was JUST announced. We have been in production for a bit, but we had to keep it a secret until today! America runs on secrets - not Dunkin.
ANYHOO, I'm always performing around LA to keep myself sharp and make sure I can compete with these youngsters showing up at all the damn comedy show with their good jokes and personalities. When I have any road dates to talk about, you'll be able to find it on BaronVaughn.com. And if you come to a show make sure to bring my membership stamp card. Pretty sure I had a free rental left.
Seriously though every time I'm in Vegas and drive by that little strip I think of Cash Back Video. I think it's a burrito place now :-(
I hope you add a lot of seasoning and soul. Lowry's, paprika.
And celery salt. Underrated spice.
I think the mystery has been solved. Pack it up, everyone!