A comedy radio piece I wrote & co-produced for the Stanford Storytelling Project. A story about pain, healing, wild dogs, and margaritas.Read More
This never ceases to amaze me. Several years ago, I wrote and directed this Planet of the Apes parody for SF sketch comedy stalwarts Killing My Lobster, for a Sci-Fi themed show. Is it my edgiest work? Nope. My best? I can't say. But it has gotten more YouTube views than anything else I've ever made--nearly 350,000 as of this writing.
It also disrupts typical YouTube viewing patterns because views seem to spike every few years. Why? Because every time a new APES movie comes out, it sparks interest in the original one. And in the interest of tight satire, I had named the video "PLANET OF THE APES (1968) ORIGINAL ENDING." Comedy, meet SEO.
The craziest part: Even when viewers feel like they've been tricked by the title, they still like the video.
Even with the accessibility of digital video tools these days, It's rare that video projects--good ones--get made on a whim. This is one of those rarities.
A favorite comedic actress, Allison "Ally" Johnson, recently moved from the Bay Area down to LA, to pursue her fortune as an actor. Believe me when I tell you that she's a true talent: wonderful actor, great comedienne, flexible voice chops, a great collaborator, attractive--she's even got clown skills! Ally is the real deal. Casting agents take note!
She, like any actor these days, pays attention to where she shows up in search results-especially YouTube, where she has a number of videos showcasing her considerable performance chops.
You know, "Ally Johnson" writhing on a bed, "Ally Johnson" taking her top off in a shower, and "Ally Johnson" cooing in that sexy-baby voice that is annoyingly de rigueur among the wanna-be-famous crowd.
Ally pointed this out on Facebook, and I responded by suggesting this should not stand.
I reached out to one of our favorite KML videographers (and recent LA transplant himself) Rand Courtney, who agreed to shoot it. I wrote up a script that parodied "Ally The Slut" (as our Ally called her) for the shallow, oblivious character that her Playboy videos make her out to be. Our Ally threw her heart into it, as she does with all her roles. Rand made it look great, as he always does. All this, from a few Facebook comments.
So if you enjoy the video we ended up making, please share it. Let's get (our) Ally's view counts up to send a message that bed football and consensual exposure are not actual talents.
Look what I found while helping my mom clean out her garage: a yellowing front-page Wall Street Journal article from January 16, 1967, which I photographed, cleaned up a little, and posted below. It predicts all sorts of globe-spanning electronic communications: Picture phones, fax machines, and devices that allow you to communicate via "sending text, or speaking or seeing, or perhaps communicating all three ways at once."
Sadly, I only found the first page of the article. Lord knows what reporter Jerry Bishop predicted in the subsequent pages. Social media? Stuffed-crust pizza? Hologram Tupac?
My favorite part is Mr. Bishop's caveat that these predictions are "premised on the assumption that the earth will not be incinerated in a nuclear holocaust."
I have a theory that creativity, at its core--stay with me, Internet, almost done--is just putting two things together that you feel like you haven't seen together before. Picasso's cubist portraits. Dickens' epic tale of a lowly orphan. And now, my mix of NBC's "The More You Know" PSAs with WW2 Nazi propaganda. You're welcome, Culture.
We released one of these in the spring as a show teaser, and saved the rest for a fallow period in the KML video production schedule. In a break from our usual release process, we released them first on Funny or Die, one-a-day for a week, to establish more of a presence there. Let's say it worked.
I got to work with many of my favorite KML members on these, including DP Jon Burton, VFX guru Ty Bardi, and of course gifted, funny actors Millie DeBenedet, Calum Grant, and Jon Wolanske, the latter of who stepped in to bail us out of a last-minute casting crisis, killed his role, and then went back to his day job a block away. Like a boss.
I costumed this shoot myself, by the way, driving all over the Bay Area asking wardrobe departments if they had any Nazi uniforms. That's a story in and of itself.
Bless Killing My Lobster for giving me giving me the opportunity to dig my own holes. My latest comedy short was featured in KML's Spring 2013 mainstage show, Killing My Lobster Learns a Lesson. The vid's a parody of college and technical school ads that makes fun of art school as a career choice.This vid could not have been made without the contributions of Francine Torres, a hilarious actress and fantastic theater instructor who actually plays a theater instructor in this vid. She saw the opportunity to give her students some real-world experience, helped us to shoot at her workplace and offered her students as PAs and background players. Two of her students are actually leads in this piece--I'll let you figure out which two. Oh, and I'm in this one, briefly. I forgot to cast the Advertising instructor, and when we got to that scene, I strapped on a froofy scarf and took one for the team. At least I got the hairline right.On a sadder note, this may well be the last project I get to work on with my regular KML production partner, Jonathan Burton, as he's since moved to NYC. Hopefully not!
PS a disclaimer: I have a lot of talented, successful friends who studied art, and there are several good art schools here in San Francisco. But there are one or two that are kind of questionable, and one for-profit university that (and I could be wrong about this) doesn't make its money from tuition so much as from being the #1 real-estate holder in the city. Just saying.
You can hear the call all over non-union SF castings: We need a stiff-looking scientist-type with no lines. Get me Grobe! Here I am in Atlassian's latest promo video for the new Jira 6.0 update. Video by the able and very funny hands at Paper Dog.
And here I am in "The Phone," playing the exact same role. Seriously. Stiff scientist has serious legs. I smell series.
This one is straight-up comedy, folks. Write Club is a monthly reading series held in various cities across the US, my home of San Francisco being one. Here, it's run by Casey Childers and Steven Westdahl, two excellent writers who curate the series.
Each event consists of three matches of two writers apiece. Each writer reads an original seven-minute piece, and the audience judges as to which piece is the "Winner."
Me being me, my pieces tend towards the humorous, none more so than my recent channeling of the legendary Tennessee Williams. If he wrote a 1970s XXX screenplay. No actual swear words but definitely not for young ears.
The clip of the reading is almost worth watching just for Steven Westdahl's announcing of my name.
Thanks to Evan Karp for shooting the video.
And the videos keep on coming! I wrote this one for Killing My Lobster Learns a Lesson, KML's latest sketch comedy show. This is the first of a series of videos that accompanied the show's sold-out run here in San Francisco.
It's not every day that "What if the Nazis made 'The More You Know' PSAs?" crosses my mind (I swear!), but once it did, show director Jon Barcellos and head writers The Bardi Twins trusted me to go for it. Further props go to to my DP and production partner Jon Burton, VFX maven Ty Bardi (who gave us the amazing visual punchline at the end) and actor Jon Wolanske, who stepped in at the last minute to just kill it.
Having trouble reading at this size? Clicking on any image will take you to a larger version.
The End! For pretty much forever. Sigh. I'll miss Garrett.
Hope you liked it!
WHAT?!?! A Double-page spread? Click the image to read it at full-size. Then hit your "back" button for the thrilling conclusion!
Next week: a solo strip featuring our geekiest cast member...then we start an all-new (to most of you, anyway) storyline! Whee!
Yep, just a two-page chapter this week. Got to go where the story beats are, after all. And c'mon, isn't a Folsom Street Fair reference enough to hold you til next week?
Don't answer that. But come back next Tues!
Like my CA Technologies video, NationalField had contracted me for a standard writing job--in this case, overhauling their site copy--but noticed my comedy videos and saw an opportunity.
NationalField is a private social network for businesses, like, say, Yammer...but under its Facebook-esque interface, it's more than another communications hub. It builds in business intelligence that makes it easy to encourage & track productivity among employees. It's a great fit for sales teams, or political campaigning, which is how the service was born.
Co-Founder Edward Saatchi (yes, the son of *that* Saatchi), had a fairly solid idea of what he wanted or their first salvo of ads: animated spots that high-lit NF's key differentiators while good-naturedly dissing their competition. That said, he trusted me to write the ads, storyboard them, and hire and direct the voice talent--most of whom I was able to pull from my crack team of Killing My Lobster actors.
More details about the spots here. Ads below!
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[vimeo 51191536 w=500 h=281]