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Conan O’Brien hosts 110th annual Monte Rio Variety Show

For the second year in a row, as the state and county gradually reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Monte Rio’s venerable annual variety show is being presented online, this time starring late-night TV talk show host Conan O’Brien.

The hourlong virtual show is free to watch now here.

Wearing a red bandanna, O’Brien quips that he’s dressed both to comply with lingering COVID-19 restrictions and also possibly later rob a train. He also notes that past Monte Rio Variety Shows were hosted by Bing Crosby, Ray Bolger and Art Linkletter.

“Just to show you how this country has fallen,” he adds with his self-deprecating humor, “this year, it’s me.”

O’Brien recently finished the 11-year run of his show “Conan” on TBS and previously hosted “The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien” from 2009 to 2010 and “Late Night with Conan O'Brien” from 1993 to 2009, both on NBC. Before that, he was a writer for “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons.”

Local organizers encourage people to watch the taped show, hosted by O’Brien, and to donate to their auction, which begins July 23 and ends with a livestream event for major action items from 7 - 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 29.

The July 29 livestream auction, which can be found at mrvs2021.ggo.bid, will have three large items for sale and will feature interviews from beneficiaries and donors, as well as entertainment.

To date, more than $30,000 in contributions, from the Bohemian Grove, the Dawn Redwoods Trust and several other longtime community supporters, have kicked off the local fundraising event.

You can contribute by going to mrvs2021.ggo.bid and clicking on “donate now.”

The virtual show and auction beneficiaries are St Catherine's Catholic Church, the Monte Rio Fire Services Foundation and the Monte Rio School Foundation.

The variety show, which raises funds for Monte Rio community groups, continues virtually the traditional live show at the Monte Rio Amphitheatre, featuring well-known entertainers and musicians and members of the Bohemian Club.

The variety show began in 1911 when a group of men from the Bohemian Grove, at their forest retreat along the Russian River, teamed up with the local Catholic parish to build a church in Monte Rio.

Since then, Bohemian performers such as Jimmy Buffet, Clint Black, Zac Brown, Roy Rogers, Billy Valentine and Kix Brooks have performed at the annual variety shows. Stars from the past included Crosby, Bolger, Linkletter, Merv Griffin and Phil Harris.

Planning for the event starts months in advance, which this year prompted an early decision to put the show online again, organizer Michele McDonell said.

“There was no way we could predict in January that we could gather this summer,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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