Tag Archives: Darcy The Mail Girl

Our Need for Joe Bob is Unmistakable

Folks of a certain age understand compulsion better than anyone. And I’m not talkin’ about overindulging in food or alcohol or even aardvarkin’. No, this is far more specific: an absolutely animalistic compulsion to see a film based entirely on its video store cover art if you know what I mean, (and if you grew up in the eighties) I think you do.

As a lad I just had to know what treasures lay beneath the fascinating covers of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), as well a film that for whatever reason always caught my eye but my family had never rented.

For years as a child I spent weekends at my grandparents’ house. It was in the country, I could grab my baseball glove and tennis ball and toss it against the house steps and visualize owning my friends the next time we squared off (it never worked, by the way), and my grandpa would always let me drive the John Deere riding mower while their dog Pete followed me around the expansive yard. It was comforting to be there with them and the hound, an unmistakable slice of heaven.

Neither of my grandparents were movie buffs, but my grandma always made a point to grab a bottle of Pepsi and glass of ice during the 10 o’clock news so she could get caffeinated and stay up with me.

Like clockwork, my grandpa would turn in right after that broadcast, then she and I would settle in to watch whatever B-movie fare the local affiliate had secured for that week. The only one I remember, however, was the one repped by cover art that had caught my eye but eluded my view — IT’S ALIVE (1974).

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I remember leaning in as the screen transitioned from the WKBT nightly news to a quick preview for Larry Cohen’s weird tale of a killer baby. Thoughts of that cover art’s cradle with and a claw peeking out played through my mind as I watched in riveted terror (for perspective, I wasn’t quite 10 years old). But there was an odd comfort in that fear, because I knew that my grandmother was right there beside me and grandpa was sleeping in the next room. Though frightened, I was safe, and that sense of security was unmistakable.

In that moment, I knew that a lifelong devotion to horror was set into motion, which led to THE SHINING (1980) and FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) and later, midnight soirees with a cowboy hat-wearing, beer-guzzling smartass on The Movie Channel.

Drive-In Theater turned to MonsterVision and when I found myself working at a television station years later, I asked the high sheriffs if I could resurrect their collection of public domain films into a B-Movie homage to Joe Bob Briggs. They said yes, and for three years my delight was unmistakable.

As Briggs is apt to say, movies are intended to be enjoyed with an audience, a communal experience. A stance proven time and again through the connectivity of The Movie Channel and TNT and the fact that two of the people I worked with at the TV studio had previously labored at another — WKBT.

So, when Joe Bob made his triumphant return to Shudder with The Last Drive-In just shy of two years ago, that unmistakable sense of safety and the nostalgia that came along with it flooded over every nerve in my body.

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What was supposed to be a last, 24-hour hurrah for the Drive-In Jedi quickly turned into Friday night double features that not only obliterated Shudder’s server but unwittingly triggered a silent alarm that drew every Drive-In Mutant who had watched Briggs alone in their youth into a larger family that they never knew they had. That communal sense of acceptance and love was also unmistakable.

Shortly after the death of IT’S ALIVE’s writer and director Larry Cohen last March, Joe Bob selected Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982) from the Shudder library to celebrate the life and talent of one of the most uniquely talented filmmakers to ever walk the Earth. But before the picture rolled, Briggs shared something that has stayed with me every day since:

“You can be half-drunk and just woke up and turn on the TV and if it’s a Larry Cohen movie you instantly know it,” continuing “the characters talk in this rhythm, it’s just unmistakable.”

Unmistakable.

Cohen’s singular skill and the gorilla filmmaking that brought it to fruition, to say nothing of the millions who believed they were alone in their love for films like Cohen’s only to find that they were part of something much bigger years later. The experiences may have been individualized in our youth, but we later discovered that those memories were unmistakably shared.

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From a late night horror film on WKBT to working with friends who’d called that station home, from the compulsion of video store cover art to the Drive-In Theater to MonsterVision to Shudder, all experiences that were part of something much bigger, a larger safety net that only togetherness can create.

And now we find ourselves firmly entrenched in the quarantine-shelter-in-place-social-distancing of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us find ourselves ripped from loved ones and the routine of our daily lives, feeling lost and lonely. We need our safety net now more than ever, and just as we feel our sanity starting to slip, we are less than a fortnight from the fright.

Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl will give us Season 2 of The Last Drive-In on the evening of April 24 and it could not come at a better time. We need family, we need friends, we need the safety net of the loving acceptance that only a Briggs-led communal experience can provide.

When the curtain goes up on that first episode, whether it serves as a distraction or makes you feel normal again, however momentary, we will all be reminded of our own similar but unique late night horror movie experience that set our collective journey into motion.

We will be compelled to watch. It will be much needed. It will be therapeutic. But above all, every emotion it evokes will be unmistakable.

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What Keeps Us Coming Back for More Joe Bob

How often do we hear Joe Bob toss a word out then immediately repeat that word and look to the crew to ask, “What does (insert word here) mean?” It’s all part of his storytelling, because he wants to be sure the audience is on the same page before he escorts them further down whatever magical rabbit hole he’s concocted for that segment.

The word I want to use is “sustainable.”

What does “sustainable” mean, anyway? It’s about upholding a rate or level, right? So, how does that word pertain to The Last Drive-In? It’s not about Shudder renewing for a second season or further marathons, because I think we can all agree they’d be fools to walk away from the gold rush of subscriptions they’ve sold because of the presence of Joe Bob Briggs. They have a very small crew that isn’t handsomely rewarded for its efforts, and they’ve already paid for the rights to broadcast whatever films Joe Bob chooses every week, so, I ask again—how does “sustainable” enter the equation?

Think about the anticipation and excitement that surrounded the long-awaited return of the Drive-In Jedi for the initial Last Drive-In marathon this past July and the holiday specials that followed. Mutants who had waited nearly two decades for so much as a morsel of drive-in totals were frothing at the mouth and it made sense because it had been so damn long. It’s no different than the fanfare that accompanied the teaser trailers and subsequent release of Blumhouse’s HALLOWEEN (2018) last October and the enthusiasm the horror community is now experiencing for IT: CHAPTER TWO. It’s easy to harbor that type of glee in the short term, even though short can mean a month or two months, and sometimes even a year. But inevitably the film drops, folks attend in droves and it’s all anyone can talk about for a week or two, sometimes more, but without fail it fades and we move on to the next thing. Time is funny that way, it always wins because that type of enthusiasm cannot be sustained for long periods of, well, time.

BeerTherein lies the answer to how the word “sustainable” pertains to The Last Drive-In. The first marathon came and went, but it didn’t peak, there was no Joe Bob fatigue. It carried into the “Dinners of Death” Thanksgiving event but didn’t plateau there either because the anticipation for “A Very Joe Bob Christmas” was even higher than the marathon that preceded it, and dare I say the original, as well.

Which brings us to The Last Drive-In’s Friday night double features that began on March 29. After 21 films and well over 40 hours, the fans still hadn’t gotten enough Joe Bob, and what’s more, their hunger had only grown more ravenous. The Last Drive-In, Mr. Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl are the television equivalent of an industrial-sized tub of The Stuff. We’ve grown helplessly addicted, desperate for our next fix, like a collective dog that just can’t wait to get at Danny Aiello’s throat.

What other horror program can compare? Very few if any are old enough to remember the original run of The Twilight Zone, so it’s possible that show generated the same visceral response from its audience, but with the lack of social media to connect every single viewer to the festivities, that’s doubtful. Hannibal is universally adored, but only lasted three seasons and clearly wasn’t must-see because the ratings dictated its end (damn you, DVR), and The X-Files enjoyed a spectacular run for a few seasons before it too lost momentum. For a show to completely dominate the public consciousness year after year is rare, and Game of Thrones embodied that for nearly a decade until we’ve all recently seen (depending on your perspective) the unfortunate end to that story.

But not The Last Drive-In. Now, before anyone goes off about the fact that The Twilight Zone and Hannibal and The X-Files aired for years when Shudder’s extravaganza hasn’t even existed for 365 days, I’d ask that one not forget part of it is the mystery of what films will be presented, what guest might pop up, or what Felissa Rose has to say about the male anatomy–but more importantly, that word–“sustainable.”

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The buzz for Joe Bob and The Last Drive-In has not only failed to level off, it’s intensified, and the reason for that is that this crop of Briggs disciples has been blessed with social media. While that may seem obvious, take a moment to truly think about what that means. The number of people who would watch regardless may not be affected by Twitter or Facebook, but how many tune in because of social media? Because they can keep up with Darcy (@kinkyhorror) on Twitter or interact with fellow fans who are engaged in real time discussions? The days of viewing MonsterVision on TNT in what often times equated to solitary confinement are long dead. Whether one is having a party or quietly watching alone at home, we are all-in together. The pictures, the videos, the GIFs, the art, the clever observations are all captured minute-by-minute, film-by-film, night-by-night, and can be kept on phones and computers and pads to relive and share from Saturday to the following Friday when it all begins again.

It’s an event. Every week.

As Briggs said in the press release that announced the renewal of The Last Drive-In for a second season, “it’s about something larger than horror. Don’t ask me what that thing is, but it’s a source of great joy to me.” So, you see, the fans may come for Joe Bob, but they stay for each other. It’s that shared experience—the commentary, the new friendships, the laughs, the memories we know will last a lifetime—which make The Last Drive-In “sustainable.”

Perhaps things will change if Shudder renews beyond Season 2, but I doubt that very seriously. Sure, we’ve seen it before, but have we seen it with an insatiable army of Mutant minions armed with interweb devices counting the seconds to 9 o’clock every Friday night? I think not.

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“Got Some Mail For Ya”: An Interview with ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ Darcy the Mail Girl

Sometimes in life the stars align and magic happens. That was the case for Diana Prince, known to the Drive-In Mutant Family as Darcy the Mail Girl.

She was part of a contingent who regularly encouraged Joe Bob Briggs to make his triumphant return to television, and when Shudder decided to make it happen, Briggs remembered Prince, offering what can only be described as the gig of a lifetime for a horror fanatic.

From the first marathon last July through a pair of holiday specials and now weekly double-features, Drive-In fans everywhere have gotten to know the new Mail Girl, who has quickly found a special place in our collective heart thanks largely to the fact that no one is a bigger Joe Bob fan that Darcy, herself. Whether the show is streaming live or not, Prince tirelessly tweets to promote The Last Drive-In and the man none of us can get enough of.

“The love that he gets makes me so happy. He still doesn’t get it, he’s just super humble. But he literally never understood how much he meant to us growing up,” Prince said, continuing, “You have no idea, man. You raised us.”

On Friday afternoon, Nightmare Nostalgia spent a few moments on the phone with Darcy to discuss her escape from Twitter jail, what the future holds for the show, a flick and guest combination she’d like to see happen that will blow your minds, and what being a part of the Joe Bob renaissance means to her.

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DARCY THE MAIL GIRL: [Laughs] It was actually really frustrating. I sent all these texts to anyone who would listen “They won’t let me tweet!” because I couldn’t tweet to anybody and all The Last Drive-In people panicked and were like “What are we gonna do?!” So Joe Bob was trying to figure out his password to let me tweet from his account, and he was like “I don’t know it. I don’t know how to do that [laughs].” It was actually really sweet how quickly they got it fixed, because so many people atted them and it got a real person’s attention and it made them look to see that I wasn’t a bot. So it was sweet and I hope that it doesn’t ever happen again [laughs].

NN: While we’re on the topic of Twitter, if you had to guess (and maybe you know), give us an estimate on the number of messages you receive from the mutants each day? And how much does that number balloon on air dates?

DMG: [Chuckles] Lord, I would have no idea how to guess that. I know the week before last Twitter sent me a message saying you’re getting a ridiculous amount of of messages, we need to compartmentalize or something, but I was like eh, just let ’em keep coming in [laughs]. It’s cool, I’m so happy everyone gets involved, but Lord I have no idea. Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds [chuckles].

NN: Sounds like you didn’t believe Joe Bob when he first offered you the gig, so that has got to be a good story. How did you land the role of Mail Girl?

DMG: I was one of several of his die hard fans who just really wanted him to come back and we kept encouraging him even though he insisted he was done, there was no place for him anymore. We were like that’s just bullshit, you have no idea how bad we need you. And two of them, who are now the producer (Matt Manjourides) and director (Austin Jennings) said “If we can get somebody to do this will you just give it a shot?” and [Joe Bob] was like “Well, whatever.”

They took it to Shudder and Shudder was like “All right, we’ll do it” and Joe Bob said “Well, you believed in me forever, do you want to be my Mail Girl?” and I was like “Whaaa? [Laughs]” He said to me “You’d be doing me a huge favor if you would,” and I said “(Shocked sound) Okay, I’ll give it a shot” [laughs].” So, I guess that’s kind of how it worked out, just friends banding together and [Joe Bob] just being an amazing person saying “We’re all in this together. Let’s go.”

NN: For someone who’s a huge horror fan—and gets nervous on camera anyway—were you losin’ your s*** before the cameras rolled for the first time?

DMG: The first time was fucking ridiculous! I was a wreck. I actually didn’t leave on the plane the first time, I was like I’m going to mess up his show, and I know it’s going to be a pain in the ass to replace me last minute, but there’s no reason I should be doing this. I thought I was doing them a favor like “Sorry, I can’t make it.” They said “Get your fucking ass out here now [laughs].”

So I got another flight, went out and when it was time to actually go on camera I just couldn’t. They had Felissa Rose and I was like “You be the Mail Girl. You’d be amazing.” And she was just being so supportive and pushed my ass in front of the camera, but I was worried I’d have severe stage fright and not be able to speak, it was just a mess [laughs]. But once again Joe Bob was just very kind and understanding, like “You’ll get it. It’s going to be fine, don’t worry.”

And literally, I remember crying to him during the marathon “If this messes up it’s ’cause of me, because everyone’s going to love you and you’re doing everything great. The only thing people can hate is me, so I’m really sorry if you don’t get picked up because of me,” and he was like “That’s just nonsense.” His confidence made me feel a little bit better, but it was hard. It has gotten much easier, but the last few times it was really scary. You go out there and he’s just so Joe Bob-y, the set and everybody watching, and he nails everything like it’s nothing, and then I come out there like “Wha? Whaaa? [laughs] What am I supposed to say? Where’s the camera? I don’t know, can I go back to the Twitter now? [laughs]”

It’s been a challenge and interesting, but it helps me grow as a person and that’s one of the things that he’s great about, just encouraging people to believe in themselves and be more than you think you can.

NN: Your take on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) led to the Joe Bob reaction of all-time. It’s been since Thanksgiving, but that moment still has life doesn’t it?

DMG: Yeah, people have definitely not let me forget about that [Laughs]. I think some people were using that as why I shouldn’t be Mail Girl, like “She doesn’t even respect the first CHAIN SAW! You’re terrible! [laughs]” But I like different opinions and I know Joe Bob loves it, and that’s great, but I like the remake better. And a few people have signed up saying they feel the same so, all right [laughs].

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NN: Let’s talk cosplay. First, what’s been your favorite so far? And perhaps more importantly, when are you going to get the Drive-In Jedi into an outfit that isn’t jolly St. Nick?

DMG: [Laughs] I am trying so hard, trust me. He’s just a very stubborn little man. I’m grateful for the Santa Claus, if he hadn’t done that, it wasn’t even Christmas, come on! [laughs] But every time I say “How ’bout you wear this?” and he says “How ’bout I don’t? [chuckles] My favorite so far, I don’t know, I never feel complete because I have to travel and I don’t have all my stuff. I would love to do it in L.A. sometime where I could do really good effects makeup and stuff, so I kind of feel like it’s half cosplay [laughs].

I really liked the pilgrim version of the condom salesman because I don’t know that people would have paid as much attention to Ted Raimi’s part if I hadn’t [chuckles], so it’s kind of cool to remind them that he’s there, and that’s a thing that happened. Although I forgot my machete with that. See, that’s the problem. I forget half my pieces before I go out on camera all the time [laughs].

NN: There have been so many, but for you, what’s been the moment of The Last Drive-In so far?

DMG: A bunch of [Joe Bob’s] speeches, I think this is the most ultimate thing that could ever happen and then something else happens [chuckles] and it’s like no, this. He’s had some really great speeches, but the one that sticks out the most, just because I didn’t know what was going to happen after, was when he was saying goodbye at the very end of [the original] The Last Drive-In where he was like “Thanks for having me back.” We worked so hard just to have this one moment of his just saying goodbye to people if nothing else happened, and then he was and it was like “Oh, no! [sad chuckle] Don’t say goodbye like that,” he walks away and left his hat and literally we were all crying. It was like, no [chuckles], we have to figure something else out for you, sir. That was probably the moment for me, and I’m so glad it wasn’t the end, but in the moment [chuckles].

NN: You’ve got to have a behind the scenes story.

DMG: There’s definitely a lot of behind the scenes craziness [laughs]. The first thing that pops into my head is Felissa Rose, the first day I met her she was so encouraging and she just has so much personality, she was trying to coach me up to be comfortable in front of the camera. We were having a blast, until I had to go on camera [laughs], but behind the scenes it was all jokes. “Oh, we’re going to be twins and blah, blah, blah,” and I was like “Oh, this is fun [chuckles].” So that was cute.

And then last week, everyone trying to blow up the blow-up doll really quick was very funny, have some good behind the scenes footage of that where we were like “We’ve gotta get the doll blown up! Hurry! [laughs]” And a lot of my costumes, it was like a group effort trying to put on my PHANTASM balls [chuckles], “I can’t get them to stay, man!’ We were trying glue and to staple them [chuckles]. Yeah, I cause drama, I think [chuckles].

NN: Yeah, the blow-up doll was fantastic. I didn’t see that coming and then you walked out with it and I was like “Oh, boy. Here we go!”

DMG: We film on a set where, I can’t remember his name, but some CNN guy or whatever, but it’s his place and sometimes they’re doing stuff at the same time and everybody from his camp was trying to come and be like [whispers] “That’s the room with the blow-up doll” and trying to see what was going on [laughs]. Like “Don’t mind us, this is work [laughs].”

NN: What movie are you really pushing for to be featured?

DMG: Oh, Lord. I have a whole frickin’ list of like please, please, please, but number one easy, is HALLOWEEN III (1982). It’s just sitting right there and it would be amazing, and I definitely want to debate [Joe Bob] because he’s so wrong in his hatred for it [laughs]. Plus, what if we had Tom Atkins on? That would be just fucking iconic. So I would love to share that, so easy, but he’s stubborn so we’ll see [chuckles].

But FRIDAY IV (1984) needs to happen. He did the whole marathon but [Briggs] had to leave that one out and he’s never done it before, and that’s one of my favorite movies ever. So, we have to figure out a way to do FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV.

NN: That’d be a hell of a double feature, a couple of huge franchise films like that, but I agree HALLOWEEN III is fantastic. And I hadn’t even thought about the idea of maybe Tom Atkins being a guest, that would be unbelievable. 

DMG: Right?! It would be amazing, and we can so do it. Ugh, get your shit together, Joe Bob [laughs].

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NN: Give us a HOGZILLA (2014) update.

DMG: [Laughs] HOGZILLA was never actually released. SYFY was talking to them about buying it, but they didn’t show enough of the hog so they bowed out and then they just said “Oh well, fuck it [chuckles].” There’s two people I know that have copies. One is the cinematographer or something but it’s on QuickTime or some weird thing, but our biggest lead so far is the director (Diane Jacques), who has it, and she’s just very difficult to keep in communication with.

She’s like “Oh yeah, we’ll figure it out,” so I think she wants to maybe release it if she can show it on The Last Drive-In if I can get everyone to agree to that. And if I can’t, I have to convince her to just “Let me have it, man! [chuckles]” We just have to show it somehow, but it’s kind of all in her hands, she’s like the sole HOGZILLA owner at this point. We’ll get it, though. I’ll get somethin’, man, even if I have to QuickTime it together [chuckles].”

NN: What can you tell us about VENGEANCE (2019), the FRIDAY THE 13TH fan film you’ve been working on?

DMG: It’s just a really amazing project from a bunch of really die hard FRIDAY THE 13TH fans that they’ve been trying to put together for a long time. I first shot a little bit for the trailer like a year ago, then they did a Kickstarter, and now it’s finally filming and coming together.

It’s different because they’re bringing in people who sincerely love it, all the kills are homages to other famous kills from the series, like the sleeping bag kill and mine is [short pause] an iconic one. I guess I shouldn’t say [laughs], but you’ll recognize it for sure. And it’s an actual sequel to PART VI (1986), the people involved loved that so much that they’re just continuing that story. (JASON LIVES director) Tom McLoughlin is a consultant I guess you could say, and then we have C.J. Graham and we have Steve Dash’s last appearance, Amy Steel’s coming in and it’s just like wow, what an amazing little thing to be a part of.

And everybody is giving up their fees to donate to a leukemia charity because one of our actresses (Chalet Brannan) was battling with that but she’s good now, so all the money that we don’t have to spend on production is going to that cause. We’ve got $15,000 raised so far, so it’s just a really neat little thing. They built this whole Camp Blood, very detailed set and it’s amazing to just be up there and shoot and walk around in Jason’s territory [laughs].

NN: Any new twists or expanded role in the works for you as we get more and more of The Last Drive-In?

DMG: [Laughs] [Joe Bob] is definitely trying, like with SOCIETY (1989), “Hey, you have knowledge in this. We’re gonna need you to come talk about it.” Like, “Okay [laughs].” He’s changing more and more as he gets to know me more. The first marathon was kind of like a written out character who was just being annoyed by Joe Bob and shit, and I was just like this is not at all what’s happening with me here.

So [Briggs] is like “Just be you,” so now I don’t have anything written, it’s just like “Darcy talks [chuckles]” and he brings me out. So that’s interesting and cool and he wants to do that more and more, and we’ll see how that goes [laughs]. ‘Cause I’m always like “I’m good, you’re nailing it. You can talk to yourself. [laughs].”

But some of the movies, I definitely love being able to represent. Like we have one for the finale, it’s one that I want to say, it’s one I’ve been pushing for forever and I can’t believe we get to do it, so I think he wants me to be out there because I just love it so much to talk about it, so yay! [chuckles] I’m excited for that one.

NN: And you can’t tell us what it is.

DMG: I can’t! But God I want to so baaad! But that last week, I will just shout it “You guys have to watch this! [chuckles]”

NN: First, we had the hilarious Mail Girl v. Male Girl showdown from the original marathon, and now Felissa Rose is the show’s go-to mangled dick expert. How much more can we expect to see or hear from the SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) star?

DMG: As many dicks as we can bring out, we’ll bring her [chuckles]. Any way we can bring in Felissa it’s always gonna be a party [chuckles]. And I’m always pushing [Joe Bob] to pick movies that have dicks anyway for equality, so it’s like we need dicks, and we need to talk about dicks [chuckles].

NN: We’re about to embark on Week 3 of a nine-week run of double features, but many are wondering, are there any marathons lined up for later this year?

DMG: We are hoping to. I know that we all love the marathons, it’s not Shudder’s favorite [chuckles], but we love doing them. They’re actually renegotiating everything now and figuring that out so none of us know for sure what’s going to happen after [the nine-week double feature run], but I’m hoping and Joe Bob’s hoping that we can do holiday marathons. We have Friday the 13th coming up, I want to do a proper Christmas [laughs], and I hope we get to. It’s just the vibe of a marathon is so frantic, hectic, and it’s such a party atmosphere. The weekly shows, people know that they can watch it later in the week or whatever. It’s cool, it’s still fun, but the marathons are such a different little monster [chuckles].

NN: You don’t have a lot of down time, but have you had that moment where it hit you and you realize what you’re involved with?

DMG: The second I walked on set the first time, I did. I was like “Holy fucking hell, this is Joe Bob and he’s back and I’m part of this somehow. That’s fuckin’ weird! [chuckles]” I’m so happy for [Briggs] to be back, and any way I can support him and the people who put this on, I’m so happy to be able to.

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