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Tackling issues: New monthly political satire show aims to open minds

It’s fun. It’s satire.

Most of all, it’s newsworthy.

The masterminds behind the series “The New Mexico Inquisition” are aiming to open New Mexicans’ minds with a monthly series.

“It’s New Mexico’s only political news satire,” says Danger K Varoz, executive producer, host and writer. “We’re looking at local issues and bringing a different point of view.”

Varoz says the series is modeled after national comedy shows like “The Daily Show” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Danger K Varoz and Sheridan Kay Johnson prepare to record a shot for the sixth episode of the political satire show “The New Mexico Inquisition.” The duo was filming in Downtown Albuquerque. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Its aim is to offer viewers a hilarious take on local headlines, field pieces on issues of public interest, and air interviews with local politicians and celebrities. It was created in the summer of 2016, and the first episode aired on UABQ, Comcast Channel 27, in February.

All episodes plus online exclusive content are available on YouTube at the Open Source Comedy Network channel.

Varoz says the impetus for the show came after the Democratic primaries in 2016.

He says that during that time Sen. Bernie Sanders released a message to Americans to start a grass-roots campaign or to volunteer.

Sheridan Kay Johnson with “The New Mexico Inquisition” and Danger K Varoz film a shot in Downtown Albuquerque. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

“I thought, what can a comedian named Danger do?” he says. “I have a background in film production, and I was working on my sketch comedy. I wanted to do a ‘Daily Show’ of New Mexico. The goal was to galvanize an interest in local politics.”

Varoz then began to attend the Bernalillo County Commission meetings.

At the first meeting, on the agenda was the Santolina development west of Albuquerque. The proposed Santolina development covers a boundary from Interstate 40 south to Pajarito Mesa and the Rio Puerco Escarpment east to 118th Street.

Danger K Varoz gets a microphone ready for filming the politlcal satire show “The New Mexico Inquisition.” The series airs on UABQ, Comcast channel 27. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

“I began to interview some protesters there,” he says. “Most of them didn’t know what was going on. Then I met Juan Reynosa from SWOP (SouthWest Organizing Project) and he knew what he was talking about. I began to put together a narrative.”

As Varoz began to cultivate “The New Mexico Inquisition,” he put a feeler out to find someone with research experience.

Enter Sheridan Kay Johnson.

“I have a background in research,” Johnson chimes in. “Danger was looking for people on that end.”

Together, the duo are the driving force behind the series. They also do the heavy lifting for the monthly show, with planning, filming and editing.

They get help from Ann Gora, Jason Green, Kevin Baca and Isiah Yazzie, who all act as writers and correspondents.

“I think everybody brings something different to the table,” Johnson says. “We all reach a different demographic. I think we’re trying to work with that.”

Sheridan Johnson with “The New Mexico Inquisition” and Danger K Varoz record a portion of the political satire show in downtown Albuquerque. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

With a handful of episodes completed, Varoz is ready to make a bigger push with the series. The newest episode was filmed in front of a live studio audience – and with one camera and premiered on Aug. 2. The next episode will film on Aug. 24 with a live audience.

“I was hesitant to ask for money or pitch the show to networks until we had it down,” he says. “I feel like we have it down. And I’m excited about the possibilities. We’re not running out of ideas. We’ve been dead-set on tackling hard issues.”

Johnson says the series will also shine a light on some of the things that make New Mexico awesome.

“One of the thing is that we have a low rate for having very few kill shelters,” Johnson says. “It can be really disheartening to always hear about what we’re doing wrong. We want to balance the news with some good things.”

Varoz is hoping to get the series on one of the local stations in a late-night spot.

“It’s all starting to come together,” he says. “We’d eventually like to get paid for what we’re doing and make this a full-time job.”

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