Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your production, The Reverend JEAU’s Revival, will soon appear as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. What inspired you to create this production (and its titular character), and how would you describe your creative process in bringing it to life?
Josh Raff: I used to be in a hip hop band called Pants Velour. One of our songs was all about stereotypical white girls who take Pilates, drink lattes, and shop at H&M. As an intro to the song during live shows, I started doing this mock-sermon/testimonial where I would take on a Reverend character [later named the Reverend Dr. Joshua Ezekiel Abraham Ulysses Raff (JEAU)] who has a great epiphany that he is an average-looking white guy and looking for his complementary average-looking white girl! That bit became a very popular moment of the show...when my band stopped performing, I decided to take that Reverend character and expand his horizons – give him a world to live in and a platform to preach. I co-wrote The Reverend JEAU's Revival with a talented playwright friend, Lizz Leiser. It’s the story of how the Reverend JEAU becomes the Reverend JEAU.
BD: Given that this is a solo performance, how do you balance the workload of the production, and do you feel that the various roles enhance your creative process?
JR: Yes and no. There is an ongoing bit in the show about how I used to be a world-class marketing executive, but I fall apart due to a drug habit I develop because I became a world-class marketer. The truth is I’m a really sub-par marketer and that has been a constant pain point of this show’s journey. I want people to see it; the people who do see it seem to really like it, but I am spread entirely too thin and basically at a loss for how to get the word out…so it’s art imitating life, I suppose. And that’s about as real as I can get with a paper audience. So, to answer the question, no, I do not enjoy the back-end process whatsoever. I am hands-on because it’s my show and if I don’t do it, it won’t get done, but deep down I have some diva tendencies and I want someone else to carry my bags, steam-clean my clothes, deliver me hot tea with honey, and provide a comprehensive marketing and publicity strategy to which I know nothing about other than the fact that it’s “working.”
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
JR: Part of me wants to answer this tongue-in-cheek, but the reality is I want people to experience laughter, entertainment, emotion, inspiration, a desire to come back, and ultimately the need to tell a friend, "You've got to see the Reverend JEAU."
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for The Reverend JEAU’s Revival?
JR: Frankly, I don’t know that it is yet. I’m extremely grateful to be a part of the festival and excited to be here. I’ve always wanted to perform in Los Angeles, and now I’m doing 5 nights on Hollywood Blvd. It’s very cool and I’m proud of it, but I only know a little about being a part of Hollywood Fringe so far so my point of reference is limited. It seems like a great thing to be a part of and I hope that I can answer this question in a thorough, affirmative manner after my show-run.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Hobgoblin Playhouse from June 5-10, 2018. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
JR: I am looking into additional festivals in NYC, and I’d love to return to LA if there is demand. We’ve been doing a bunch of shows in New York, our home town, and we’re going to take a necessary summer break after Hollywood Fringe. But I have full intention for Rev JEAU to live on and preach another day.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
JR: I’d just like to promote The Reverend JEAU’s Revival at this time. I’m not that prolific, unfortunately, to have another show to promote other than this one.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for The Reverend JEAU’s Revival?
JR: Come see the show June 5, 7, 8, 9, & 10. Your soul will be cleansed, you’ll be absolved of all your sins, and you’ll leave feeling better than you did when you walked in. That much I can guarantee.