Entertainment » Theatre

Internet Sensation Randy Rainbow Takes on New England

by John Amodeo
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 31, 2017

"Nothing is off limits, especially in comedy," says Internet sensation Randy Rainbow, whose comedic Internet videos cover the gamut, from gays in the Boy Scouts to homophobic celebrities, and even porn. "Are you talking about my Brent Corrigan video?" he asks coyly, when the subject comes up. "What do I do when Brent Corrigan calls and says he wants to make a video with me? Much to my chagrin, it was a comedy video he wanted to make."

In case you've just woken from a 10-year hibernation, Rainbow, has become an internet comedy sensation over the past seven years by making short parody videos that skewer celebrities, politicians, and on occasion, even himself. A trained actor in musical theater, he eschewed the cattle call auditions, which didn't appeal to him, and began writing blogs instead, mostly about his daily life, but with a comedic flair.

"After a while, as my following grew even more, the ham in me came out," he concedes. In 2010, he got the idea of turning celebrity homophobia on its ear and created "Randy Rainbow is dating Mel Gibson." It received 60,000 views in one week, and has surpassed 150,000. He feigns phone calls or interviews with various celebrities and no one is safe. He has set his crosshairs on Lindsay Lohan, Kanye West, Anthony Weiner, Zac Efron, and even Barbra Streisand. When BroadwayWorld.com picked him up, he began making parodies, putting topical lyrics to songs from popular Broadway musicals.

Randy Rainbow

Just two years ago, his work began to escalate as he mined gold from the U.S. Presidential campaign and subsequent Trump administration. One of his most recent videos, "Before he Tweets," set to the Carrie Underwood hit, "Before He Cheats," has gotten 150,000 views in less than a week, and has gone viral on social media. In the last month alone, Perez Hilton has invited him to entertain at a party, he's been a special guest at the Broadway Bares fundraiser, appeared at a benefit for the Trevor Project, and attended a reception at Gracie Mansion.

In August, Rainbow will launch his first New England Tour, making his live performance premiers in Boston, Ogunquit, Montpelier, Providence and Provincetown from August 3-13. Edge got to chat with Rainbow via phone from his Astoria, Queens home, discussing everything from his grandmother to Cher.

EDGE: I understand Rainbow is your real name. 'splain, Lucy.

Randy Rainbow: Everyone assumes it is a stage name. It's kind of the worst stage name, if you can imagine. It was originally the Russian word for Rainbow. But my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all had the name Rainbow. It was a difficult childhood, but it's worked out now.

EDGE: What gave you the idea to create video parodies and put them on the internet?

Randy Rainbow: Well, I started about seven years ago when everyone had a blog, and I was writing about my daily life with a comedic twist ['Randy Rainbow's Blah, Blah, Blahg']. I realized that I was gaining a following, and that I had to start talking about what was going on at the time. My first breakout video was with Mel Gibson, and that was my first viral video, 'Randy Rainbow is Dating Mel Gibson,' and from there I just stuck with the hot topics. The parodies came later when I started doing my videos for BroadwayWorld.com. It was a natural progression to put music to it. I somehow merged the political with the musical and it worked

Randy Rainbow in one of his video parodies.

EDGE: Were you surprised at the reaction to your first video that went viral, 'Randy Rainbow is Dating Mel Gibson?'

Randy Rainbow: Very surprised. To look at it now, it had 100,000 hits. To get any attention like that, and then to get picked up by Perez Hilton. Very exciting.

EDGE: You told the NY Times that your grandmother was your comedic influence, which inspired you to begin creating comedic skits when you were growing up in Florida. Had she seen any of your skits, and if so, what was her reaction?

Randy Rainbow: When the Mel Gibson thing happened, she was still with us. She loved them. She was one of my biggest supporters. She was Bea Arthur, Lucille Ball, Elaine Stritch, Joan Rivers, and Don Rickles, all rolled into one person. She was the funniest person I've ever known, even to this day. Watching TV, she would react to talk shows, interviews, and talk back to them. It helped give me my rhythm for comedy. I use that every time I make a video.

EDGE: Who else was an influence on your comedy and the parody videos you create?

Randy Rainbow: I was always a show queen, a musical theater nerd. All the musical theater greats I looked up to. When I was a kid, comedy wise, the 'Golden Girls,' Joan Rivers. As for parody, I was just winging it.

EDGE: How did you feel working the red carpet at the Tony Awards?

Randy Rainbow: My whole childhood was musical theater. As a kid, I watched every Tony Award ceremony, so to be associated with the Awards and be associated with the people who are on them is the most exciting thing about all of this. Maybe next year, I'll host.

Randy Rainbow in one of his video parodies.

EDGE: A lot of your parodies put brilliant cutting lyrics to familiar Broadway songs ('Cats,' 'Hamilton,' 'Fiddler,' 'Chicago'). How do you choose a song to a topic?

Randy Rainbow: When I hear a topic, I immediately think what musical theater parallels it conjures.

EDGE: The Trump campaign and administration provides so much material for you. 'Alternative Facts,' 'Fact Checker,' interviews with Trump, and Melania. What Trump videos are you working on now that we can look forward to?

Randy Rainbow: The last one I did was one that I had on the back burner, because I knew it would come in handy. There are a few waiting in the wings. For the most part, it's whatever is happening in the moment. When I come up with the idea, the video comes out a day or two later. Ever day there's a new fucking thing happening.

EDGE: I understand you are self-produced.

Randy Rainbow: Entirely self-produced. For my parody stuff, it's just a video camera and a tripod. I've never left my apartment. For BroadwayWorld.com, I have a cameraman when I leave the apartment. Otherwise, I do everything myself.

I do all the editing myself. It's the most tedious part of the process, but also the most fun. I spend an hour writing the piece, then an hour writing the lyrics, then an hour filming. Then I will stay up all night editing.

Randy Rainbow in one of his video parodies.

EDGE: What did it mean to you to get a fan letter from Stephen Sondheim?

Randy Rainbow: OMG. What do you think? I had the honor of spending some time with him. That he appreciates my work, or even knows who I am, is very surreal. He said to me one time, I think he was being gracious and generous, and he asked me, 'How do you come up with such clever lyrics?' That's Sondheim saying this to ME!

EDGE: Have you gotten any backlash from any of the celebrities or politicians, or their fans for your irreverent parodies of them?

Randy Rainbow: I'll hear from one or two every once in a while. There's no escaping that. Roslin Kind sent me a very gracious thank you note for my 'voice in these trying and uncertain times.' I've heard Barbra has seen my videos and likes them. And that makes me shake.

EDGE: Do you think your videos might help bring about positive change politically or socially?

Randy Rainbow: I can only hope that they do. The impetus for me to do any video is to be entertaining and make people laugh. Only recently have I become aware that people have appreciated me for my 'voice,' and that is something I'm growing into more and more ever day now, and adds purpose to what I'm doing. If I had a message overall, it's just that there is always something to laugh about, no matter how crappy things are. There is always common ground in humor, and we need to come together a little bit.

EDGE: You've recently begun making personal appearances. How do you adapt your routine for the stage?

Randy Rainbow: Right now, it's kind of a look back on my career ('career' said with air quotes) as a journalist. In addition to some stand up comedy, I show some of my interview videos and narrate them. For future shows, I'm working on a more structured live performance, maybe with backup dancers and a costume change.

EDGE: Will you be doing any live singing in your upcoming New England shows? If so, will you have live accompaniment?

Randy Rainbow: Oh, yes. I will be singing. I will be accompanied by the videos I create, that are similar to my on line videos but made especially for live performance.

EDGE: What has been the best thing about the popularity of your videos?

Randy Rainbow: My mother's reaction is one of the best things. She was at the gym the other day wearing one of my t-shirts, and a woman stopped her and said, 'Oh, I love him too.' Plus, I've heard from all my childhood heroes. I'm a fan girl from way back, first and foremost. Cher has re-tweeted my videos!

Watch Randy Rainbow's video parody, "Before He Tweets."

Randy Rainbow Live will be performed on Thursday, August 3, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA.

On Friday, August 4, 8 p.m., and Saturday, August 5, 7 & 9 p.m., at the Leavitt Theatre 259 Main Street, Route One, Ogunquit, ME.

Thursday, August 10, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m., at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, 100 State Street, Montpelier, VT.

Friday-Saturday, August 11-12, at 9 p.m. [SOLD OUT*], at the Harbor Hotel, 698 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA.

And Sunday, August 13, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m., at the Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, Providence, RI.

For tickets, for the Boston shows, contact the BCA Box Office at 617.266.0800. For tickets for all other shows, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2941969.

*A show has been added in Provincetown on Sunday, August 13. Visit the tickets website for more information.

John Amodeo is a free lance writer living in the Boston streetcar suburb of Dorchester with his husband of 23 years. He has covered cabaret for Bay Windows and Theatermania.com, and is the Boston correspondent for Cabaret Scenes Magazine.


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