Friday, July 15, 2016

Spotlight On Independent Films - An Interview With Joe Bob Briggs

Before we begin this week's spotlight, let's join Joe Bob Briggs in the drive-in oath:

There, now we can begin.

Joe Bob Briggs (To us drive-in fanatics, that is his name. If you want his real name, go look it up for yourself.) is the lord of the drive-in, the savior of the bad movie, and the purveyor of all that is schlock. He is one of the funniest guys on the planet with the most deadpan delivery you will ever see. In the midst of the chaos that regularly occurred on his television shows, he was always calm and in command. He is crude, rude, and totally offensive....and we drive-in people love him so.

Throughout his career, Joe Bob Briggs has done everything in his power to keep the drive-in movie experience in the Americana spotlight. He has had two successful drive-in based television shows (Joe Bob's Drive-in Theater and MonsterVision - yes you people over the age of 35, you remember MonsterVision), he was a regular contributor to the Daily Show, and he is a movie star to boot. 

You have seen him in movies such as Casino (where he totally stole the show from that De Niro guy), Great Balls of Fire!, and Face/Off. He's a writer, a composer, and an all-around talented guy. 

I recently had the chance to sit down behind my computer and put together an email interview that Joe Bob responded to by sitting down behind his computer. So without further delay, I give you Joe Bob Briggs, the interview!

What caused the transition from Joe Bob's Drive-in Theater to MonsterVision?
I got fired! The Movie Channel changed format and didn't need me anymore. I was unemployed for about four months, which is the four months when I started going out for acting roles and got parts in "Casino" and "Face/Off."

What was your intention behind MonsterVision? Was it to pump up interest in the drive-in movie industry at a time when it really need more interest? Or was there something else?

Well, I wish I could take credit for that, but "MonsterVision" already existed before I got there. TNT created it as a weekly late-night franchise that was occasionally hosted and occasionally non-hosted, so I was just turning it into something permanent. The two main programmers for TNT were fans of "Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater" so when it went off the air, they noticed, and asked me to come on over and do something similar for them. What I did was not just similar--we used the same set!

A lot of your segments on MonsterVision seemed ad-libbed. How much of that stuff did you write, and how much did you make up on the spot?

I believe in the concept of writing it as well as you can write it, but then not stopping if you f#@k it up. This didn't go over very well with some of my guests, who were used to retakes. Some off the actors--I won't name names--were terrified of the idea. I would tell them, "We don't do retakes here," and they would get the shakes. At any rate, I wanted the show to have a live feel, as though I was watching it with you at 3 a.m., so that's why I left all the screw-ups in.

What fuels your passion for the drive-in?

Like most things we're passionate about, it derives from childhood memories. My family went to the drive-in from the time I was a toddler. Drive-ins in far West Texas. Drive-ins in the Fort Worth area. Drive-ins around Texarkana and southern Arkansas. But the one that I have the most vivid memories of was the Razorback Twin in Little Rock, down by the river bottoms. Parents in the front seat, me and my sisters in the back--we would watch the first movie and fight until we fell asleep. My parents would watch the "racy" second movie before driving us home--"racy" being a relative term. Something like Jack Lemmon in "Under the Yum Yum Tree," considered scandalously sexy in the sixties.

I just want to clarify - did you write the drive-in oath? What inspired that?

Good question. I wrote it for the Second Annual World Drive-in Movie Festival and Custom Car Rally at the Gemini Drive-in in Dallas, which I organized. I wanted to have something for Stephen King to do with the audience, so after I introduced him, I told the crowd they would now be required to take the drive-in oath. And he read it out to them. We were standing on top of the concession stand at the Gemini, which is, by the way, the same drive-in that held the world premieres of "One Million Years B.C.," with Raquel Welch in attendance, and "True Grit," with John Wayne shooting off his pistol on top of that same concession stand. At any rate, Big Steve was a great sport about administering the drive-in oath. I actually thought we would only do it that one time, but people kept asking me to do it.

To me, you always look a little uncomfortable in front of the camera. Is that part of the Joe Bob character, or no?

Actually it's the opposite. I'm uncomfortable in front of bankers, agents, producers, librarians and employees of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. I'm just fine in front of the camera. What you're probably seeing is that I'm always thinking about what's PISSING ME OFF right before I do the monologue.

Did you catch any flack from religious people about God Stuff?

Yeah, Uncle Bob Tilton threatened to sue me for unauthorized use of his video. Other than that, they were too smart to complain to the Daily Show.

Do you prefer acting in movies or being on your own television show?

I much prefer television where I can be a control freak. I get bored on movie sets. You know what happens if you have ALL DAY to think about the two lines of dialogue you're gonna deliver? YOU SCREW IT THE F@#K UP!

Are you going to finish the script for your autobiographical movie? 

It's finished, but by the time I got through with it, I was too old to play myself. I need to find somebody to be me.

Who would you cast as yourself?

Sasha Baron Cohen.

Thank you for all you have done to keep the drive-in theaters in the public consciousness! You are most definitely a legend to everyone who loves the drive-in!

Check out Joe Bob's IMDB link to learn more about him, and spend hours on his website to read the funny stuff he writes! 

Thanks Joe Bob!

George N Root III is a die-hard drive-in movie fanatic who is a huge fan of Joe Bob Briggs. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at