Fearless on ‘Fameless’: A One-On-One with Vic Cohen

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Actor/comedian Vic Cohen is a great interviewee.  He’s not only candid, but he also has an impressive ability to give straightforward answers whilst sticking to his brand of comedy.  When I heard he was starring in David Spade’s new prank TV show Fameless (now airing on TruTV), Wylie Writes was willing to bend film-faithful guidelines to talk shop with Vic.

You may have seen Cohen on various hidden camera television shows (Howie Do ItMobbed).  If you’re Hot Docs savvy, you may have caught glimpses of his life in the documentary Committed, a hilarious crowd-pleaser that was structured like a version of Boyhood, but through the observant eyes of Howie Mandel.

Vic Cohen is an ambitious performer and a skilled improviser, which makes him a strong asset to Fameless’ team.  I chatted with Vic about the show’s concept and on-set highlights, but I also wanted a post-Hot Docs update.


Addison Wylie: We’ve been in touch, but I don’t think I’ve asked you about how your Hot Docs visit was – how rude of me.  Did the audience eat up Committed?  It’s still one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year.

Vic Cohen: Thanks, Addison.  I really appreciate your kind words about the film.  The audiences at Hot Docs were just amazing.  They were very responsive to the film and I had a blast doing Q&A with them after the screenings.  Their support and enthusiasm for Committed has been extremely moving.  Also, the Hot Docs staff could not have been any more welcoming and supportive!

I have extra great fondness for Canadians, having lived in Toronto while shooting Howie Mandel’s TV series Howie Do It about five years ago.

AW: How has the stand-up comedy been going?  How have the crowds been lately?

VC: The stand-up comedy has been going great, thanks.  The crowds are always excellent!  In addition to performing in clubs, I’m also doing a lot of corporate events where I interweave my comedy videos and “in-the-moment” humor with the LIVE corporate audiences.  It’s a lot of fun.  For booking information, you can learn more at  Yes, I know – shameless plug [laughs].

Addison Wylie: Congratulations on your contribution to David Spade’s prank TV show Fameless.  How did you hear about the show?  Did you have to go through auditions where your improvisational skills were tested?  Vic, be honest, was there a striptease portion of the audition?

VC: Thanks for the congrats, Addison.  Well, I heard about Fameless through several people I’d worked with on past hidden camera shows.

Kevin Healey, who is the executive producer of Fameless, was also an executive producer of Howie Do It.  It was a thrill to be reunited with him on Fameless.   Kevin is an absolute genius at hidden camera/prank comedy.  And Damon Zwicker, the show’s co-executive producer, worked with me on TBS’ hidden camera game show Deal With It.  Damon is a top notch talent, also brilliant at hidden camera/prank comedy.

I never had an audition per se, but I did have a meeting about two months before shooting, where the producers wanted to make sure I was comfortable working totally naked in the show’s hilarious spoof of the reality show Survivor.  As you know, Addison, I will do anything out of my commitment to a great joke.  So, yes.  There is one bit where I am naked.  But, it is totally organic to the prank and not gratuitous in any way.  The prank is in the show’s premiere episode!


Addison Wylie: When you’re given a role and a motivation, do you find you can easily slip into these loose scenarios and feel in control?  Or, has Fameless given you new challenges to work with?

VC: Fortunately, I find it very natural to slip into a hidden camera/prank comedy role – regardless of the comedic scenario or of the show I am performing on.  I quickly go to a place where everything becomes very real to me.  Because some of the Fameless storylines were a little longer than on typical prank shows, I had even more time to play with the people we were pranking and work the storylines.  I loved it!

Addison Wylie: What makes Fameless separate itself from other prankster television shows?  Is there a deeper meaning behind fooling unsuspecting Joe’s and Jill’s?

VC: Fameless is different from other prank shows in that the “Marks” (the people being pranked) believe they are on a REAL reality show (like COPS or Survivor).  Our “Marks” even see the cameras taping them (unlike, of course, in “hidden camera” bits).  This makes for an extra huge, funny surprise reveal when the “Marks” finally discover that they are on an entirely different show than they imagined!  Also, the scenarios are much longer on Fameless than on other shows.  There are great twists and turns in the stories.

I’m not sure if there’s a “deeper meaning” behind the bits.  Perhaps the show plays on people’s eagerness to have their “15 minutes of fame.”

Addison Wylie: I imagine making the show has been a hoot.  What has been your favourite moment while taping?

VC: There have been so many totally hilarious moments while shooting this show.  It’s nearly impossible to name just one.  Perhaps one of my favorite moments was when the “Mark” in the Survivor spoof still thought I was a REAL CONTESTANT even after the cameras were done rolling and we had told him the whole thing was a prank.  He may STILL think I was a real contestant!  As an actor, that is extremely satisfying.

Addison Wylie: In this age of selfies and constant self-coverage where people are more comfortable in front of the camera, do you find there are more gullible people than there’s ever been before?

VC: On Fameless, our “Marks” NEVER had a clue they were being pranked.  To your theory…I think that they were so excited about being on what they thought was a “reality show,” it never crossed their minds they may be getting pranked!


Visit Vic Cohen’s official site!

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Vic Cohen: @VicCohen
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