Garney Johnson gets his kicks making people believe he is someone he isn’t. He’s not a conman. Someone’s great-grandfather would say he’s worse than a conman. He’s an actor.
Channeling all those emotions and personalities must mean he has plenty of experiences from which to draw. And he does. In fact, he’s going to share a few that make one good story during Tell Me More… Storytelling Nights Sunday at the Push Comedy Theater in Norfolk.
Until then, take a moment to learn more about this busy entertainer and how he hopes to portray and live a life worth sharing.
THE ACTOR’S PERSPECTIVE
Name: Garney Johnson
Location: Norfolk, VA
Q. Who are you? How do or should most people know you?
A. I’m Garney, a Ghentile heavily involved in the local theater scene in Hampton Roads (artistic director at Generic Theater) and somewhat involved in the local comedy scene. Proud owner of a beagle, but not a bumper sticker that professes such.
What in the name of all that is good and holy has compelled you to tell your story this weekend?
Pretty much all that is good and holy, since I will be talking about my Mormon upbringing and my obsession with cinema, and how the two didn’t interact so well. And like most actors, I thoroughly like talking about myself.
Other than Tell Me More… Live, what other appearances will you be making this weekend?
Friday night I will be performing in The Pushers Anniversary Show at the NorVa (I was a member in 2009 and 2010), Saturday night and Sunday afternoon I will be appearing in a Vaudeville show at St. Pat’s Catholic School as a heckler modeled after Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets.
You do everything all the time. Please tell us about the three big projects coming over the next few months.
In June I will be performing in Kiss of the Spider Woman: The Musical at Generic Theater, which I’m also directing. Then I immediately go into rehearsals for the regional premiere of a new play called Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play also at Generic Theater, which will open in August. I also plan on cleaning my apartment at some point.
It seems storytelling is central to all the things you love – namely on stage and screen. Why is story so important to you and to our culture as a whole? (Please provide a short synopsis. Your full dissertation will be due in three months.)
Storytelling is fundamental for human beings to be able to connect with each other. We gain empathy from listening to others talk about their experiences and world views. It can be both enlightening and entertaining, and I love providing both.
Who are your favorite storytellers? Famous or not.
There are so many, but here are 5 that come to mind Steve Martin, Michael Chabon, Vince Gilligan, Louis C.K., Joel and Ethan Coen
What is your all-time favorite story?
Probably the story of Job because God can be a real prick sometimes.
Do actors really have their own stories or are they only vessels for other people’s stories?
Everyone has their own stories, but there’s definitely a craft and skill in the ability of really understanding someone else’s story to the point of putting yourself into it and sharing it with others.
Which do you think influences a talented storyteller more: a crazy childhood or an adventurous spirit?
Definitely the adventurous spirit. I know plenty of great storytellers who didn’t have a crazy childhood, but all of them have an adventurous spirit.
How do you think Don Draper’s story will end? (The question is story related! It gives us insight into what you really think makes a good story.)
He dies in the desert hallucinating about Diana.
Describe your life story in six words?
Talent only got him so far.
How do you think it will end? (It’s not morbid!)
Quietly in the dark, like any great movie.
How do you think this interview should end?
Quietly in the dark, like any great movie.
SEE GARNEY AND THE GANG
Garney will join the Tell Me More… Storytelling stage at 8 p.m. this Sunday with Alicia Luma, Robert Morast, Caswell Richardson, April Shannon Threet and Cheryl White.
Each third Sunday of the month, Tell Me More… Storytelling host six storytellers sharing stories based on any inspiration they glean from a word and song provided by the show’s organizers. This month the word is “transformations” and the song is “A New Hope,” Blink182. (Interested in giving storytelling a try? You can find a list of themes and pitch a story for an upcoming show on the Tell Me More… Storytelling site.) Admission is $5. For more information and updates on Sunday’s show, follow the event on Facebook.
SAMPLE THE PODCAST
For a taste of the sort of thing you’ll hear at the show, give CB Wilkins’ story a listen. You may remember this Q&A from last month. No? Give the story a listen anyway, because everyone needs to understand why sometimes it’s better to have loved and lost so you can still find a way to laugh.