Voice actress, comedian, and podcaster extraordinaire Janet Varney is well-equipped to tackle any creative venture that piques her interest. Whatever that project looks like, whether it’s a live taping of The JV Club or a four-season stint as the star of Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, it’s all about giving back and having a blast.
The Deadbeat Critics caught up with Varney, who was promoting the second season of her hit sci-fi podcast Voyage to the Stars. Co-starring Felicia Day, Colton Dunn, Steve Berg, and a slew of other you’ll-know-’em-when-you-hear-’ems, Voyage to the Stars follows a group of oddballs who wormholed themselves into an intergalactic pickle (a problem, not an actual pickle) and are now struggling to get home. The show is twelve episodes deep into its second season and has featured the likes of Jake Johnson, Paul F. Tompkins, Phil LaMarr, Deborah Baker Jr., Nyima Funk, Chris Williams, and Tom Lenk.
In Voyage to the Stars, Varney plays Sorry, an A.I. with memory loss and a whole lotta sass. She’s introduced early in the show and quickly becomes an important part of its energy. Her tolerance for mankind hilariously low, Varney’s human-averse robot fascinates because she’s both vulnerable and apathetic (and incredibly familiar with mid-2000s Hillary Duff). To get things started, here’s a gem of a quote pulled from our chat with her:
I’m just laughing because Sorry’s such an asshole sometimes, if not most of the time.
Regarding the show itself, its rotating roster of guest stars changes the character dynamics in ways that even the core cast can’t anticipate. The show features an irresistible blend of on-the-spot fuckery, inventive storytelling, and impromptu character work that often entertains in ways listeners won’t expect. And of course, Varney delights in these unscripted exchanges and how the cast is able to bring viewers into those interactions. “There’s always that wink at the listener that brings you into that inside joke.”
But according to Varney, the core cast works well by itself as well.
One of the things that is so fun about the show is getting these fantastic improvisors for our various episodes. That infuses and injects this new comedic energy into each episode. We welcome in someone different. What’s cool and exciting about improv is that just adding one person creates a whole new dynamic for all of the improvisors. And, of course, by virtue of that, the characters themselves. But I will tell you that we also, just the four of us (well, now five), have had so much fun just us as well that it’s not like the characters don’t really work without a new character or scenario. The world that Ryan [Copple] created for us to play in is just so rich.
Varney enjoys dysfunction that, through the talent and comedic know-how of those involved, feels more organic, genuine, and inclusive than many of the interactions we have in our everyday lives. Voyage to the Stars serves as a perfect example of this and thrives because of it. And with such a talented group of actors/improvisers, it’s easy to fall in love with what Varney and company are producing.
New episodes of Voyage to the Stars are available every Tuesday on iTunes (through Earwolf). Listen when/where you can. It’s absolutely worth it. And, for more Varney goodness, check out The JV Club, HarmonQuest, Stan Against Evil, and You’re the Worst. She’s obviously in more so check out her filmography and get back to us with your favorite projects!
Many thanks to Janey Varney for making time for us and to Kat Jones for arranging this interview. You both rock!