Catching up with the talented Mr. Spiffy High


Daniella Cohen

On Friday December 1, Joe Varela took the crown to become Mr. Spiffy High. We interviewed him to see what being royalty at Scotch Plains-Fanwood feels like:
What made you want to do Mr. Spiffy High?
Well, I have always enjoyed performing and making others laugh, so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do something I love. This desire to entertain is such a big part of me thanks to my parents and probably all the cartoons I watched growing up. So when I became a senior I knew this was something that I wanted to do, let alone win.
How did you prepare for the show?
When I was preparing for Spiffy High I was also preparing to play a show with my band, Ruined Life 2.0, at the Crossroads the next day. So my schedule was fairly busy, but somehow I managed to work everything out and get my act together. Although, in reality I had been preparing for Spiffy High for a long time, because I have always done impressions or silly voices. The teachers that I impersonated I had known from previous years or were one of their students at the time of the show, so I had already had impressions of them that I only shared with my friends.
How did you come up with your talent?
As I mentioned before, I love doing impressions. I’m a big fan of Saturday Night Live, which inspires me a lot, so I felt that I could create a sketch similar to SNL for Spiffy High, although I would be impersonating teachers. The teachers from SPFHS that I impersonated were Mr. Fabiano, the head wrestling coach and a gym teacher, Mr. Stack, a history teacher, and Mr. Koegel, the head track coach and a math teacher. I knew that I could not just impersonate them on stage, so I asked them all for permission to do so, and they all graciously said yes. With their approval I knew that I had my act, and it all came together by remembering my experiences with them or actually being in their class.
What was your favorite part of the show?
My favorite part of the show was definitely the lip sync battle. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I honestly believed that if I made it to the lip sync battle that I would win. I didn’t know what songs the other contestants would pick but I felt like I could bring the most energy and show everyone that I deserved to win. This mindset really helped me to succeed, and I have to thank Mr. Fabiano for inspiring me with this attitude to be successful.
What do you think your best section of the show was?
While I really enjoyed doing my impersonations I think I really let loose and did my best during the lip sync battle. Many know that I enjoy Rock N’ Roll, so I channeled all the energy that I bring to gigs with my band into that performance, and it definitely paid off. What’s funny is that this energy lead me to rip off my dress shirt and do a backflip, which I almost got disqualified for… but luckily that did not happen. So overall, I don’t think my lip syncing of Welcome To The Jungle by Guns N’ Roses, could have gone any better.
How did it feel being one of the finalists?
It was really awesome when I was announced as one of the finalists, but what was more important was that one of my best friends, Karl Wirth, made it too the finals as well. Karl is the drummer of Ruined Life 2.0, and we were both competing against each other. This was really awesome because throughout the night he wasn’t sure if we would both make it to the finals but I kept on telling him that I had a feeling we would both make it, and luckily I was correct.
How did it feel to win?
Winning was such a gratifying experience for me, having so many friends and my family in the crowd supporting me was awesome. I couldn’t believe the reception to my act and it was just so rewarding for me as a performer. Although, when I won Mr. Spiffy High there was another reason for me to be overjoyed that not many know. During wrestling practice on Friday, Mr. Fabiano took me, along with Jack Cannon, Sam Wustefeld, and Mikey Ramos out of practice early. He proceeded to sit down with us in his office and tell us how important tonight was for him as not only a coach, but as a former contestant for Mr. Spiffy High back in 2005. He told us that while he did not win in 2005, he knew that the eventual winner was in that room with him. It is awesome to know that he was right, and I’m happy to dedicate my victory to him because of how great of a coach he is… and just for him, I’m gonna tell everyone reading this to join the wrestling team if you want to be the best.
What does being Mr. Spiffy High mean to you?
Being Mr. Spiffy High means a lot to me because it showed me that when I do my best I can succeed. More importantly, this victory goes down as one of my favorite moments as a student at SPFHS and I hope to make many more memories in the rest of my senior year, which hopefully will include… winning the Olympic Volleyball Tournament and Battle Of The Bands.