Amy chats to Connor Ratliff, writer and performer of The George Lucas Talk Show and The Baron & The Junk Dealer.
Here’s your chance to give an elevator pitch, can you give us a brief synopsis?
We’ve been doing The George Lucas Talk Show for nearly a decade in New York City – basically, I play “retired filmmaker George Lucas” as a chat show host, with Griffin Newman as “Watto,” George’s talk show sidekick (and CGI character from the Star Wars prequels). The show always features real guests as themselves. We wanted to bring the show to Edinburgh but then we thought, “What if George and Watto also did a play?” So, we wrote, The Baron & The Junk Dealer,” a science fiction tragicomedy for them to do 22 performances of, in addition to our weekly talk show. At the end of the run, I’m going to do 4 totally different one-person shows under the banner of “GEORGE-prov: An Improvised Theatrical Experience.”
What attracted you to this production/role?
I was doing a lot of long-form improv shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and I had the itch to do something strange that was fully my own creation. So, I pulled out this impression of George Lucas that I used to do to amuse my friends, and I decided to make him into a chat show host to see if that would be fun, and the show almost immediately developed a cult following. The show eventually moved from midnights in the East Village to a big Off-Broadway theatre on 42nd Street. The pandemic lockdown transformed the show into a livestream and when we started doing in-person shows again, we wanted to do something ambitious with it and bring it to Edinburgh, so that’s why we’ve ended up with 30 shows in 27 days!
Have you performed at the fringe before? What are the best and worst parts of performing at the fringe? Or if it’s your first time, what are you most excited about?
It’s my first time, and I’m excited to discover how the audiences respond to what we do. Every audience is different, and part of the challenge of doing the kind of comedy we do is figuring out how to win over audiences who may be totally unfamiliar with you as a performer. We always want our shows to be entertaining not just for the person who is excited to come see us, but also their friend who got dragged along and has no idea who we are or what the show is. If we can win that person over, we know we’re doing it right!
What are the main themes within the production, and what can audiences expect?
For The George Lucas Talk Show, the focus is purely on fun. We want the guests to have a good time interacting with George and his CGI sidekick, and we want the conversation to go in unexpected directions. It’s all about listening and responding, and also being attuned to the vibe in the room because the audience can really affect the tone of each individual show. For the play, the themes are significantly deeper! On a surface level, it’s a play about survival – two fugitives stranded on a desolate planet, and they don’t know if they’re going to be rescued, captured or killed – but it’s also a play about regretting the choices we’ve made and coming to terms with who one really is as a person, deep down. It’s a comedy but with some really intense parts!
Finally, with so many shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, why should people book a ticket to this one?
All three of our shows offer an opportunity to experience the energy that New York comedy audiences have been enjoying for years – The George Lucas Talk Show has frequently been recommended among the critics’ picks in The New York Times – but our Fringe run is also going to be a chance to see us really push ourselves to the edge and see what happens.
The George Lucas Talk Show will be performed at 11.35pm in Assembly George Square Studios (Studio Two) on 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th August
The Baron and The Junk Dealer will be performed at 5.55pm in Assembly Roxy (Downstairs) from 2nd – 24th August