For the past year and a half, comedian Connor Ratliff has hosted “The George Lucas Talk Show” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre East in New York. Described by The Guardian as “surreal,” it’s a monthly talk show in which Ratliff pretends to be 70-year old filmmaker George Lucas while interviewing real guests accompanied by his sidekick, “Jar-Jar” (played by comedian Shaun Diston.) Now, in anticipation of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Ratliff is preparing to devote an entire episode to Abrams’ late 90s TV series, Felicity.
“The concept behind the talk show is that once Lucas retired from filmmaking he went into stand-up comedy to become a late night talk show host,” said Ratliff. “And since J.J. Abrams is about to release a new Star Wars movie, it makes sense that we’d devote an entire show to Felicity.”
Ratliff, a veteran UCB performer familiar to viewers of The Chris Gethard Show, has done more than twenty shows as Lucas (including a showcase performance at this year’s SXSW) interviewing guests from SNL, Broad City, The Tonight Show, Late Night, VEEP and The Colbert Report, along with musical guests like Wesley Stace, Mike Doughty and Emilyn Brodsky, but some of his most spectacular shows have been “theme” episodes, like when he celebrated “Life Day” (the Star Wars version of Christmas from the notorious “Star Wars Holiday Special“) or a recent episode about the peculiar relationship between Star Wars and M&Ms.
“We just did a whole hour about M&Ms,” he said. “It started as an offhand remark and before I knew it I’m at UCB East tossing over $500 dollars’ worth of M&Ms at the audience. It was insane.”
Ratliff’s version of Lucas is skeptical about J.J. Abrams, but Ratliff himself is a big fan. “The first two seasons of Alias are among the greatest television ever made, and he’s produced so much amazing TV since then, like Fringe and Person Of Interest, which is one of the very best shows on TV right now. And I don’t think you can watch his first Star Trek movie without becoming very excited to see what he’s gonna do with Star Wars. But my Lucas character is a little more threatened. My take on it has been to sort of question every move J.J. makes. That was sort of the origin of this Felicity show.”
For November’s episode, Ratliff is currently binge-watching all four seasons of Felicity so that his Lucas character can devote the whole hour to discussing the show, and he’s hopeful that maybe he can wrangle a surprise guest or two. When he recently did a “Labor Day” show, he went looking for guests who had really worked for Lucas, and ended up interviewing an actual former Industrial Light & Magic employee, a video game designer who had worked on an official Star Wars game, and an actor who had unsuccessfully auditioned for Episode VII. He has high hopes that November’s Felicity show might land a few guests who worked on the show at any point during its four seasons.
“That’s the dream: to get a cast member or crew person who worked on Felicity to come to UCB East and talk to me while I pretend to be George Lucas. If Keri Russell or J.J. Abrams want to come onto the show as guests, please let them know they are welcome. They don’t even need to let me know in advance, they can just show up and walk onto the stage, mid-show.”
The next George Lucas Talk Show (“The FELICITY Awakens”) is on November 6th at midnight at UCB Theatre East.
The George Lucas Talk Show