Lights! Camera! Comedy!
Keep this quartet of new and chuckleworthy shows on your radar.
What is it? Nathan Adloff directs this Chicago-set mockumentary series about a trust-fund baby who’s casting and producing an awful indie movie. Series creators Adloff, Justin Palmer and Danny Rhodes drew inspiration from the city’s storefront-theater scene.
They say “We had the good fortune of getting the incredibly talented Natalie West from Roseanne to guest star in our pilot as a fictionalized version of herself,” Palmer says. “What Natalie did with that scene just killed me. Natalie was able to do so much without saying anything.”
We say It looks promising. Each episode is 22 minutes long—the trio is aiming for a sitcom deal—and Rhodes alone as the flamboyantly gay and spoiled-rotten producer Marcus is fairly mesmerizing.
You don’t say? Each episode will debut at a local bar. Episode one screens Sunday 21 at Uptown Lounge.
Break-ups: The Series
What is it? Director-comedian Ted Tremper creates a fully improvised series of short films featuring painful, earnest and funny Chicago-set breakup scenes that showcase improv vets, including Kellen Alexander, Tim Baltz, Seth Dodson, Tim Robinson, Mary Sohn and Emily Wilson.
They say “I got the idea for the series during a meditation practice,” Tremper says. “One morning during a practice session, this image of my friend, actor and improviser Katy Colloton, popped into my head. In this picture, she and I were standing in the Trump Plaza and she was absolutely furious with me. That exact image is the first image you see of us in the first Break-ups episode ‘Katy & Ted.’”
We say Kudos to Tremper for trusting his actors to create scenes that are grounded in reality. Breakups are painful, messy and ridiculous, and this series is all of the above. We love it.
You don’t say? Break-ups won Best Original Series at the inaugural Vimeo Film Festival + Awards. David Lynch was one of the judges.
What is it? It’s test drive meets talk show as comedian Whitney Cummings (Comedians of Chelsea Lately, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien) hits cities such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago to interview local taste- and style-makers as they try out the new Lexus CT 200h hybrid. In Chicago, those folks include Second City’s Katie Rich and gastro-wizard Grant Achatz.
They say “Doing a talk show on TV, I spend a lot of time trying to not show my vagina because of the camera angles,” Cummings says. “In the car it’s easier because I’m just showing my face.”
We say This isn’t the Japanese automaker’s first foray into Web-based entertainment, but unlike Lisa Kudrow’s alternately hilarious and uncomfortable Web Therapy, which is merely underwritten by Lexus, this one’s a more obvious product ploy. Still, we’re glad the brand has handed the keys to beautiful goofball Cummings.
You don’t say? Cummings’s comfort level on the show comes from having spent most of her sex life in a car. Her words.
Safety Minute! with DK Ediger
What is it? Michael Sanchez directs season-four Impress These Apes winner Chad Briggs as DK Ediger, a middle-aged public speaker who earnestly dispenses horribly bad advice via early-’80s public-service announcements. The grainy sheen and godawful Muzak recall cult favorites such as the Found Footage Festival and Everything Is Terrible.
They say “I got the idea for the DK character from this drug-scare presentation on this ancient VHS tape my Mom gave me from the high-school library,” Briggs says. “It was this old guy from Texas telling apocryphal drug stories accompanied by hacky drawings on a flip chart.”
We say Briggs shines when playing offbeat characters, and his Ediger is no exception: stiff gait, untraceable drawl and deadpan earnest.
You don’t say? Briggs played the character at the Andy Kaufman Award Show in New York earlier this month.