H. Jon Benjamin ('Jon Benjamin Has a Van')
'Van Talk with Beyonce!'
'Jon Benjamin Has a Van' is a newsmagazine-style sketch show starring Benjamin as an investigative reporter hitting the streets in his custom van to do human interest stories.
Absolutely Prods. is producing the series, with Benjamin, Andrew Steele and Funny or Die executive producing. "The show is largely scripted with a touch of improv," said Kent Alterman, head of original programming and production for Comedy Central. “It has its own identity and comes out of Jon finding different ways to tell stories."
Alterman first developed a project with Benjamin during his first stint at Comedy Central as head of the New York development office a decade ago.
Benjamin, who landed his first Emmy nomination for his voice work as the title character on the FX animated comedy 'Archer,' also has character work on another animated comedy, Fox’s midseason entry 'Bob’s Burgers,' in which he voices the central character Bob Belcher.
Chatting recently with Jon Benjamin, I first wondered when Henry Jon Benjamin simply become H. Jon Benjamin, and then just Jon Benjamin? "It has been a long difficult process of progressively taking away letters from my name!"
So does this mean in the coming years you'll be known as J. Benjamin, then J. Ben, and finally simply as JB?! "I would like to eventually whittle it down to just Beyonce!"
Your early comedy career seems to include a lot of time spent - on and off stage/screen - with David Cross! Is there something about your 'relationship' with Mr. Cross that we should know about, perhaps? "I don't see it as a 'relationship' ... I think it's more of a 'arrangement'!"
Your latest TV show is called 'Jon Benjamin Has A Van' - and, as I have yet to see the show, what kind of van is it, how long have you had it, and is it the kind of van that Ted Bundy or the Beltway Sniper might have once owned?! "The beltway sniper had a station wagon and I'm pretty sure Ted Bundy had a volkswagon ... but I am a necrophiliac!"
According to the press release, "the show takes viewers on a ride with an inventive, irreverent fake news narrative show" ... hang on, just what the f**k does all that mean in plain english?! "F**k if I k**w!"
So, now that has all been explained, where does the Van take the viewer each week? A different city or just repeatedly around the block?! "Well, as far as I remember, we go to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New Mexico, and Space!"
Indeed, you have done work on a LOT of comedy/animation shows throughout your career - but is there one that still today stands out from your past as the most proudest work of your career thus far? And why? "Probably my work in the Olsen Twins movie, 'New York Minute.' I was 'street vendor'."
Understandable! And, as a major chunk of your TV work has been voices with animation, is there a good reason for such a behind-the-scenes career, perhaps? "Are you implying I'm ugly ... if so, yes I am!"
You also voice Sterling Archer, a secret agent in the FX series, Archer - word has it the inspiration for him came to you whilst in a cafe in Salamanca, Spain! So, for the record, just how was this so? "I've never been to Salamanca but maybe Adam Reed, the creator of the show has. That would not surprise me!"
And, currently you also voice Bob Belcher, from the Fox tv show, 'Bob's Burgers' - so, how did that character flesh out, vocally and such, before you settled on who he is today? "I ate burgers for a few months prior to the first record so my vocal chords would be fatter!"
Back in 1997 you appeared as a series regular on The Jenny McCarthy Show - so, as we're not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, what was the best day on set for you with Jenny back then?! "I guess it might have been the day Jon Glaser, Will Forte, Mike Lee and I discovered Koo-Koo-roo for lunch!"
Who is the most famous person in your cell phone today? "I have Patrick Stewart's number, but only because I overheard him giving it out once during a recording session. I've been meaning to call him!"
What one thing about you is not usually discussed/revealed in interviews that, for the record, you would like voiced here today? "I grew up privileged with an inherent sense of superiority!"
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love penguins ... do you, perhaps? "This was journalism?!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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