&ensp Before FunnyOrDie.com and SNL Digital Shorts invented a new platform for actors and comedians, Jeffery Roberson was creating short videos of a similar style starring his drag persona Varla Jean Merman. "I always did the videos with my friend (filmmaker Vidkid) Timo, and then in the '90s I started playing a video (during a show) so I could do a costume change, or playing a video I would sing along next to," he says. "So I've always done video, and they became more sophisticated over the years. I just started putting them on YouTube after a while."
Besides video blogs and clips from live performances, Roberson's YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/jtroberson) features a variety of homemade shorts created by him and his friends. There are fake commercials (one for the Occult Snuggie, to stay warm while keeping one's arms free to perform rituals and human sacrifices), videos created for Varla stage shows (a take on the Electric Company Soft-Shoe Silhouettes sketch from Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads, with words like "vagina" and "hooker" thrown in the mix) and music videos (a take on Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" with Varla as a lesbian grifter using a Toyota Corolla as a getaway vehicle).
For those wondering about Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads, the videos provide a taste of the brand of humor the film will offer. "The movie's basically a long 90-minute video," Roberson says.