MARK ADNUM: Deven let’s not mince words: you’re really thin. Do you ever eat any of the food on any tables?
DEVEN GREEN: THANK YOU I know – how very astute of you!
I am like a praying mantis in search of protein. My internal thermostat was set at a very young age ergo my body never changed since I was 13 years old. I eat like I did growing up; on my haunches like a wolf child. I grew up eating from the land like river fish and wild fowl – FYI: seal kabobs are so good in my mouth. Yes I periodically eat solid food but we all know I’ll shove pretty much anything in my pie hole. For those who come to me looking for answers, I look to the animal kingdom for clarification. There are no koalas who complain about being big-boned. Dear fatties: When you expire all our bones look the same. Bonus Diet Tip: Never take diet tips from people heavier than you.
MA:Deven, before I feel in love with your Brenda Dickson parodies, I was pretty much married to this:
I think Halstead is a genius. How do you feel your work compares to his work?
DG: So glad you FEEL in love – <insert double negative> not only can’t you not <end double negative> read wordsh you can barely print – thank God you are good looking.
“Pretty much married?” GLAAD to hear the laws are changing over there in Australia too.
Let me judge Halstead: I give him a 9, whatever comes after 10, and keys to a kitten. A funny thing is a funny thing. It stands alone without any frame of reference – if you have to explain the gist of comedy then it is best you write your snatches of do-dads in your bedside “thinky” journal.
Now, I will talk about myself under the auspices of complimenting Halstead. I love to watch anything inspired. There is an innate quality about an unapologetic, high-stakes expression in the Halstead creations. He completely invites us in to his delusional world but the character has no other frame of reference which is simply compelling. It’s like a dumb blonde doesn’t know she’s dumb. Having expectations superseded by the unexpected execution of the piece is totally riveting.
When people meet me in real life they usually want to bang some sense into me which is how I feel about Halstead’s spot-on character. To heighten a huge character and allow us to follow as the character evolves (or devolves) is very easy to do poorly. You know under that veneer there is an openness which could turn on you in an instant – you never quite know what you are going to get: someone who will lightly powder your bottom or properly discipline your hind quarters. Kudos me.
MA: Brenda Dickson had your original parody removed from YouTube and then posted about it on her own website. Obviously, she’s very aware of your imitations (and we know she doesn’t like to be imitated). Have you ever heard from her personally?
DG: The videos were so out of left-field and put her back on the radar so quickly I can only project that it must have been ponderous to her at best. Yet, I quote directly from a “fan letter” posted on her site, “I hear the narrator is so ugly she can’t look in the mirror without cracking it. She’s said to look like the Wicked Witch of Oz , but wieghs (sic) 300 pounds…even her voice is ugly!”
This inspired my sweet (and mutual adorer of schkinny bodies) friend Nelson Aspen (www.NelsonAspen.com) to incite our parody response and subsequent word-for-word reenactment. I’m not usually so obsequious but it was a great idea and Nelson is easy as hell to work it – a lot of moxie.
Total aside: I rarely censor myself as I assume that no one is listening so I have absolute latitude to say anything always. In Los Angeles, were we live, I will meet someone at a party and say, “hey douchebag let’s make out later” and they continue to prattle on about their newest project. Fact.
I had Machiavellian ideas like posing as an interviewer from a “Where Are they Now” fake show. Give her all the questions in advance like, “What are your favourite pieces of jewellery?” Then, with that footage I would do another parody! Hours were spent creating my imaginary scenario. Ultimately, it’s edging on making her a martyr and being mean-spirited. My Canadian upbringing and guidance from Betty Bowers put the kybosh on the scheme as it had too many earmarks of poor manners.
If I met her I would say, “Well Hello” then ask her to make out.
MA: Do you ever feel like you’re being too hard on Brenda? Like many people, I found her benevolently entertaining for most of my youth in the 80s and 90s and though I watch your parodies in endless repetition, sometimes worry about poor Brenda, who hasn’t really landed on her feet in the past decade.
DG: Oh really? What’s this? Did something happen in her past decade?
What I am actually doing is a parody of a parody. I do believe that comedy should be dangerous but I had no clue that it could have been interpreted as a personal attack – 100% not my intention. Trust me, I love people insulated from the real world as they are a rare breed. But, I am addicted self-satisfying knee boners when I change the English lexicon one word at a time.
I hope she gets work from the resurgence of notoriety as her soap opera fans adore her. It was never my intention to humiliate. There are new fans discovering her earlier work. *Sigh* I just can’t be sincere.
My recent Donna Mills parody is probably the direction I will continue with as it would be fun to team up with the celebrity who is into it.
Follow up to question not asked: I really love black and white films with women who were in on the joke, who held onto the secret and could laugh at themselves while wisely making a profit. They had to use innuendo and analogies as they couldn’t be so overt. I’ve somehow turned that same technique into being crass and vile.
Oh look at that, you asked a question about someone else, but it ended up being about me talking about me…hold on…I’m going to call my answering machine to listen to myself.
MA: I see you recently married. Does your husband show you the spam javelin as often as you’d like?
DG: Joel Bryant has a fat hog. We were together in both an amorous congress and comedy duo sense for 9 years before the nuptial. Joel is an extremely talented actor (Heartbreak Kid, Music Within, plus TV, plays etc.) and I am his biggest fan. We have also performed together in insane situations from Las Vegas to remote islands to a maximum security prison (seriously, one inmate had tattooed extra eyebrows onto this forehead – I couldn’t look at any of the other felons). We really have a great time on stage as does the audience.
Oh, we are putting together a live show based on the videos called: Face Full of Fashion Show…interested? When we show up at your doorstep you will fall in love with Joel – it’s very easy (but I also really, really LIKE him).
He is a very patient man as I am prone to fancy thoughts and fits of hyperbole. I will wake up at 5 ayem to see if he wants to march in a parade that I am having in the living room. One time we were headed to a show out of town and he asked if I knew how to hem pants. I just said yes and, logically, used staples – I didn’t know he was going to wear them on the plane. Needless to say, he didn’t make it past the metal detector. When my asinine mending was discovered, the guard pitifully shook his head. Joel just laughed and said, “that’s my girl.”
MA: What’s the look thish sheason?
DG: The vajeene.
When you put your hand in your pocket, keep your pointer finger out to direct friends to your business center. I love that fashion does not have to logical. “In” this year could be puffy, puffy muffs and next year ass cheeks for no apparent linear reason. The only fashion I won’t wear is super high heels because I end up being mistaken for a 6’1” handsome transvestite. When I play Rock Band (our band name is PORN MOUTH) I create a character wearing hot pants (aka 80’s walking shorts), a form-fitting shirt with racing stripes, a top hat, aviator goggles, and get-away boots. Fashion this sheason needs no words, especially not mine.
MA: Were you really a professional figure skater?
DG: Well you learned how to negotiate my website you brazen little hell cat. Yes, I grew up in an extremely remote, Northern part of Canada near Hudson Bay. You either played hockey, curled or figure skated. There were zero distractions. It is utterly silent and bitterly cold – they test anti-freeze there. I didn’t know that there were other people in the world until I got a transistor radio. In perspective, I’ve seen part of the world that no one else will see – ever. I grew up as a competitive figure skater, turned pro at a very young age and still skate (Ice Princess, Blades of Glory) but I found out that the older you get the tougher it is on your body to do the big jumps…I’m not saying I can’t still turn a trick though.
Comedy and skating have the same structure. There is a moment of inertia to start a spin as is there a moment when the audience gets reeled in to what is going on. Jumps have an arc as do characters. I’m very competitive with myself which is why I always win.
MA: Do you sell a lot of your fashion items?
DG: Not enough if you aren’t wearing one Cha Chi. I love when I am walking down the street and see someone wearing one of my T-shirts with their favourite saying…it’s like we are all in the same secret club. I am so bloody thankful and blessed (I know I sound like a pilgrim) that I will call or send a postcard directly to anyone who has bought a T-shirt and sends me a photo with them wearing it.
Mark, via webcam I showed my folks the store online and the only thing out of my Mum was, WHAT IS PORN MOUTH? They see how happy I am so, even though they have no clue what I do, they are unbelievably supportive.
MA: Can you do a good Cher?
DG: I have chosen to completely ignore your question and digitally insert my own.
DEVEN GREEN’S QUESTION: Tell me about me modeling.
DEVEN GREEN’S ANSWER: At my first modeling audition I wore a long-sleeved, boxy-top with floor-length, pleated, pink skirt and flat, silver, alligator shoes - all the other girls looked like a Robert Palmer video. My hair was bleached blonde with a rat tail (one, braided hair extension). To get their attention when I walked down the runway, I started uncontrollably snapping my fingers and would periodically jump like a rhebok. My end-of-ramp pose was me standing with one knee bent like a flamingo and flaring my eyelashes. Seemed like a good choice at the time.
But then I got booked at a lingerie show. I grew up in -50 Celsius weather so my idea of lingerie was thermal underwear (akin to bloomers). I had no clue I needed to trim my snapper mitten for this LOL, I also needed a tan (which I’ve never had) so I emptied a bottle of bronzer over my pasty-whiteness and ended up with streaks of cocoa-colour marbleizing my body and face. I put on Halstead-type nails and when I pulled up the panty hose which ripped it left 3 nails embedded into the polyester. I saw no major problem with this look so I just started walking the runway, but felt compelled to TELL THE AUDIENCE “this is my first time, I don’t usually wear underwear like this.”
I don’t know what’s wrong with me either.
Deven Green is an award-winning comedienne based in Los Angeles (via Northern Canada). This wisp of a girl has left her unique brand of language in film, TV, radio, live comedy shows and her inscrutable Brenda Dickson comedy parodies (2007’s Top 20 Funniest Videos - NY Magazine).
With a hard-earned reputation as one of the most original (and easiest to work with) comediennes, this crass yet clever dual-citizen is talented in any country; at least that is what Deven will tell you.
Deven Green spoke with me via email in May 2008, but given how timeless (and ageless) her and I both are, I don’t see any reason not to reprint this as though it happened just today, even if she did pick up on the spelling mistake in my second question.