We’re proud to announce the 2013 New York Channy Official Nominees.
The 2013 NY Channy Awards will be hosted by Channy-winner Henry Zebrowski (Adult Swim’s Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Murderfist).
The ceremony will be held Monday, December 9, at 8:00pm at UCBeast. Formal attire is recommended, but not required.
The Official Nominees:
Best Female Performance
Nevada Caldwell (Falcon Man)
Meghan O’Neill (J. Crew Crew/Animals)
Dani Lencioni (Sebby & Dani and Also Dan)
Livia Scott (Splashie)
Joanna Hausmann (Wiggles)
Best Male Performance
Frank Hejl (Falcon Man)
Sebastian DiNatale (Sebby & Dani and Also Dan)
Will Cohen (Splashie)
Steve Arons (TV Time)
Alex Herrald (Wiggles)
Best Non-Human Performance
The Puppies (Animal Pick Up Artist)
Mars (Bitchy Planets)
Randy Flash (Cool Cars and Science)
The Falcon (Falcon Man)
Leopard Dog (Indoor Adventures)
Best Onscreen Duo
Falcon Man & the Falcon (Falcon Man)
Max Azuley & Alex Mullen (Passive Aggressive Friends Talking About Their Ambitions)
Charlie Walden & Jack Walden (Significant Brothers)
Splashie & Jimmy (Splashie)
Jeff & Wiggles (Wiggles)
David Bluvband as The Leader (Falcon Man)
Joanna Hausmann as Miss Stink (Wiggles)
Eddie Beck as Baron Von Dick Touch (Bait Kid)
Kati Skelton as Invisible Insides (Cool Cars and Science)
Linus as Baby Ed Mundy (True Crime Stories With Ed Mundy)
Best Failed Pilot
Bluvband Is Doing Just Fine
Dick Doblin Privateye
Kate’s Craft Corner
Most Emotional Moment
Randy Flash learns he is actually a car. (Cool Cars and Science)
Falcon Man abandons his family again. (Falcon Man)
Seth realizes the seasons have changed. (Shirts-On Summer)
Mrs. Peterson’s farewell to Splashie. (Splashie)
Jeff shoots the cop. (Wiggles)
By Tracy Soren
A Channel-101 NY hit back when it was Channel 102, Gemberling is a trip through the earlier stages of the internet, as see by the minds of Gemberling creators Curtis Gwinn and John Gemberling. In this series, Gemberling plays a renegade internet programmer who accidentally finds his way into the internet and learns its up to him to save the world wide web. As I’m sure you expect, hilarity and rarity ensue.
"Come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of imagination"…I know, I know, that’s Willy Wonka but it’s fitting for Gemberling and Gwinn. Watching Gemberling was like walking through door number three of the creators’ minds. It’s almost hard to encapsulate my thoughts on Gemberling but I can say they changed from wonderment, awe, shock, confusion, and wonderment again. The series, which eight episodes ran from February 2005 to September 2005, was masterfully crafted in its low-budget glory. It was one of the most famed Channel-101 NY series of its time, going on to become Adult Swim’s Fat Guy Stuck In Internet.
To start, each webisode boasts a stacked cast. Besides Gemberling as Gemberling, Gwinn as Chains, there is Rob Corrdry, Brett Gelman, Julie Klausner, Katie Dippold, Victor Varnado, Neil Casey, Rob Lathan, Rob Huebel, etc…At the most simple level, watching these now comedy-all stars through a Channel-101 NY lens, made the window between us and them shrink and shrink. They created, wrote, produced, acted, submitted to Channel-101 just like we are all doing right now.
Gemberling has great performers because it is a fun, inventive series with obvious commitment. Although Gemberling may seem random at points, you will soon find out that everything has a specific purpose, that the series was intently constructed. They created a robot called the insultabot, they included Steve Perry, the lead singer of Journey, and they started a nanoplague; they used the green screen, amateur effects, lasers and bodysuits; Gemberling dressed in drag to play his mother (which is both engaging and terrifying). In Gemberling’s world, this is the internet, this is the reality that we are all now apart of. There’s nothing you can do but get sucked in through your keyboard and go along for the ride.
Interview with Curtis Gwinn, co-creator of Gemberling
1. Can you tell me how Gemberling came to be? What made you want to make a show for Channel 101-NY, and why was this idea you went with?
Gemberling came about because of restlessness. I’d been a student and teacher as the UCB in New York for 6 years at that point. I’d sold a script or two with my comedy partner and best pal John Gemberling but things had gone a little cold. I was at a real turning point…I’d succeeded locally with improv and sketch, but my big goal had always been to write, star in and produce my own TV shows or movies but I had no idea how to do that. I just had no idea where to start.
Then I stumbled upon channel 101. The first series I watched was Chris Tallman’s, Time Belt, and I was COMPLETELY hooked. To say my mind was blown was an understatement. I devoured everything on Channel 101 site in a matter of days. It was very much a “proto-man-touching-an-obelisk” moment. Finally there was a blueprint to do exactly what I wanted on the cheap and without having to sell anything to anyone. It was total creative freedom and it looked like everyone was having a LOT of fun doing it.
Shortly after that, I saw that NYC improviser Tony Carnevale was launching something called, Channel 102, an independent spinoff of Channel 101 (that he got Dan Harmon’s blessing on). It seemed like too much synchronicity to ignore. So, the wheels started spinning: “What show could John and I make?”
At the time, I was working at a video game company in Tribeca, writing for something billed as, “the first sit-com video game.” It was…weird. But there were a lot of talented people involved. At one point it was me, Chelsea Peretti, Victor Varnado and Jake Fogelnest – a lot of talent in one room that wasn’t actually making a great product. So even though I was working on something creative, it wasn’t fulfilling and I spent my days trying to come up with ideas for shows to make for Channel 101 or 102.
Nothing seemed right. I kept coming up with stuff and then it would die on the mental vine. Then, and I’ll preface this by saying I have a major problem with impulse buying…everything from a pack of gum to big screen TVs, I’ll often just buy something on a whim, whether I have the money or not. I went online and bought a green screen and a 3 piece lighting kit. I didn’t own a camera, I didn’t even have an idea yet, I just went on eBay and bought the stuff. It would sit in my apartment (a shitbox on 30th and 2nd which I shared with Gemberling and my brother) for months before we ever made anything.
The idea for the Gemberling series just sort of popped into my head. I had been playing a character called, “Chains,” a biker gang guy who was one half of a show we sold to comedy central called, Doc & Chains.
Let me just take a moment and say something about, Doc & Chains. It was a zombie sitcom about a stuffy scientist and a biker gang member who got stuck in a farmhouse during the zombie apocalypse. The odd couple in a zombie universe. We came up with that in either 2003 or 2004. This was before we’d seen Shaun of the Dead and WAY before the zombie craze that’s going on now (full disclosure, I now write for the Walking Dead on AMC). I think we juuust missed the boat on that! We should make that show now… john? Are you reading this? Let’s get the band back together!
Anyway, I’m severely limited when it comes to playing characters, so I was like hey, I’ll play this guy AGAIN. If it ain’t broke don’t expand your horizons, right? So, I loved the world of things like heat vision and jack where someone was on the run being chased by the government. But often in shows like that, the government has hired some mercenary to chase after the hero; some agent who operates outside of the law to bring wicked justice to fruition.
I figured Chains was the man for the job. Then I thought, what world could they be in? So much had already been done. Then the movie Tron popped into my head and I thought what could be a new spin on that? Well, of course, the internet and home consoles have replaced the arcade as a grungy hangout… so that was it. I pitched the initial idea to John, he improved it and off we went. We bought a camera, got the very talented director Alan Harris to join up and enlisted all of our friends to help make it happen.
2. At its best, Gemberling is super weird and random. Especially the internet world you created. Nanoplagues, Steve Perry, and an Insultabot - what kind of internet world did you set out to create? What would it look like now in 2013?
I don’t think Gemberling is as random as everyone thinks! Mostly everything was a reference to some movie, comic book or video game. I guess if people didn’t know the references, they would think it was totally out of nowhere. For example, I’m always told that the Steve Perry character (played by a spry Rob Corddry) was so wonderfully random but we chose Steve Perry because Journey had music in TRON! Also, Journey had their own incredibly bizarre arcade game in the 80’s - you would play the various members of Journey as they tried to retrieve their instruments which had been stolen by aliens. Why the fuck is THAT not a show?
As far as what the internet would look like now… well… I just think it would be wall-to-wall hardcore porn. We got out while it was still innocent!
3. One of my favorite points is at the end of Episode 7 where Gemberling just blatantly calls out how the series is ending. It’s here and other points throughout the series that it feels like friends just having fun on set. How much of it was friends just fooling around or improvising and how much of it was scripted?
It was VERY scripted. We improvised a lot too, but that line you’re referencing, I’m pretty sure John wrote that. I remember reading it and thinking, “Hmm…ok. I guess that’ll be funny.” then he said it and I laughed my ass off. He’s an underrated genius. I can’t wait for the world to fully get it.
That being said the show was ALWAYS a bunch of friends having fun together. It was often hard work, but I’ll always remember it as some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. And much of the cast has gone on to do amazing things! Katie Dippold wrote for Parks & Rec and also wrote the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy hit, The Heat. Neil Casey went on to write for Saturday Night Live and Inside Amy Schumer. I still work with Paul Scheer on NTSF:SD:SUV::, he’s on The League, and does a million other things. Rob Huebel is in everything, Rob Corddry is a movie star, Brett Gelman is a subversive brilliant comedy madman… Anthony Atamanuik, Victor Varnado, the list goes on and on. I mean it was really something.
I’m sure I’m leaving people out, but it was a snapshot of a burgeoning scene at that place and time. I feel very lucky to have been a part of it.
4. Gemberling had a lot of cool effects - including lasers and green screens. How long did the whole process take from start to finish?
Here’s another example of how John Gemberling is a genius. He taught himself how to do a lot of the effects that you see on screen. Now obviously they aren’t the most sophisticated, but at that time it wasn’t as easy to crank out stuff like that if you were a total amateur. We’d finish shooting around mid-month then John would spend the next two weeks sitting in his bedroom for 12 hours a day with a 2 liter bottle of coke and some Chinese food, just laboring away. We’d often get our finished show to the screening with LITERALLY seconds to spare. Tony was always very forgiving of that, god bless him.
5. Any favorite memories?
There are dozens. One of my favorite things about the whole process was that we filmed the whole show in the offices of a big advertising firm in Manhattan and they had no idea. Our pal Rob Lathan had briefly worked there and was either let or quit but he still had a passkey into the building. So on the weekends, he’d let us in, we’d go into some guy’s office, nail a green screen into the wall, bring in all our props and friends and shoot. We only had a couple of run-ins with building security, but we just told them we were temps working on the weekend. Considering we were in tights and wigs, I don’t know how they possibly could have bought that. I think they just didn’t care.
My favorite memory though is when Rob Corddry was working with us one weekend. He was dressed up as Steve Perry with a wig and red bandana around his neck, wearing a skin tight white bodysuit. So, he’s walking around the building getting ready to shoot, he turns a corner and there’s a woman standing there at a copy machine. She’d come to work that weekend for whatever reason. She looks up and her eyes go wide. She says, “You’re… Rob Corddry.” He nods. She continues, “From the Daily Show…” He nods. She continues, “What are you doing here?” And Rob just says, “Hanging out.” and continues on his way.
That story still makes me laugh and reminds me of that scene in Fear and Loathing when the business guy walks into the bathroom to find Flea licking powdered LSD off of Hunter Thompson. What must that woman have thought was going on in her dry, boring office building on the weekends?
6, Gemberling eventually turned into Fat Guy Stuck In Internet on Adult Swim. How did Adult Swim get a hold of Gemberling? What was it like finding out your show was going to be on Adult Swim?
From what I hear, our agents at the time ran into an Adult Swim exec. on a street corner in NYC and said he should check out a DVD of our weird little show. They watched it, liked it and pretty quickly offered us a pilot. We were so pumped. Oddly enough, we also had an offer from MTV at the same time, so it was an embarrassment of riches. But that wasn’t the first time Gemberling made it to TV. We were also licensed to a Beavis and Butthead style show for the Fuse Network called, Munchies. They just re-aired the original Channel 101 series, while the cartoon made fun of it. Surreal.
7. How did you approach creating Fat Guy Stuck In Internet? Did you get to do all of the things you didn’t get to do on Gemberling?
Obviously we had a lot more money to make Fat Guy Stuck In Internet but, legit TV was much more restrictive. We couldn’t do many of the things we did on channel 101. Almost every reference to other TV shows, movies, and video games was watered down for fear of litigation. It was a constant uphill battle. Though I love the Adult Swim version, it just wasn’t the same fever-dream we accomplished with Gemberling. Plus, it got slammed by critics. It was a painful thing to work so hard and have it kicked in the nads so hard.
8. Did Gemberling or Fat Guy Stuck in Internet prepare you for your current role, staff writer on AMC’s The Walking Dead? Your past role as writer/producer on NTSF:SD::SUV?
I don’t know if it prepared me. It was a very different thing. Staff writing is a lot drier a gig than producing, starring and writing in your own crazy project. One that isn’t beholden to anyone but yourself and a fun, smart audience. I love the Walking Dead and NTSF, but you know, having your own little show is like having your own little mom and pop store on main street. Even though you got this new sweet job managing Costco, you’ll always be a little misty for your days back on main street, stocking your own shelves, and mopping your own floor.
9. Why do you think Gemberling was successful for Channel 101-NY? What advice would you give to other who want to create a series?
Well, I think it was really funny! and I think the people involved were incredibly charismatic and talented! But most of all, it was fun. And I think that fun radiated out and people felt it. It was the right combination of idiocy and secret smarts, making pop-culture references that that particular audience felt nostalgic for.
My advice to anyone thinking of making a series…do it. No Excuses, no neurosis of whether it will be good or not. Throw yourself in and don’t think too hard about it. Have the courage of ignorance - it can take you pretty far.
Watch all the episodes of Gemberling at Channel 101 NY.
Looking to get some more acting work, thought I’d put my reel out there again.
The New York Television Festival begins on Monday, and this year there are more Channel 101-related creators screening pilots than ever before. Tickets are free and much fun is to be had, but you should make reservations to get a seat. To help track them down and make sure you don’t miss anything, we’ve compiled this handy guide. Everything is screening at Tribeca Cinemas.
Click on the show’s name to see more details and make a reservation.
Animals was a favorite 101 show at the 2102 Channys, and it’s made the jump directly to NYTVF. Catch it on Mon, Oct 21st at 6:30pm or Fri, Oct 25th at 10:15pm.
Cool Cars and Science, one of the most popular 101 shows ever, has also made the jump. It’s screening alongside Animals on Mon, Oct 21st at 6:30pm or Fri, Oct 25th at 10:15pm.
Tue, Oct 22nd 6:30pm
Wed, Oct 23rd 7:15pm
Here’s a Jess Lane classic from the 101NY vault:
Classless is the offspring of Nick Bernardone and James Coker, the team behind the 101 classic Skate City.
Wed, Oct 23rd 8:45pm
Thu, Oct 24th 6:00pm
Incognito, created by Andrew Law and Alison Rich, is directed by 101NY mainstay Trevor Williams, who also directed the below 101NY classic.
Mon, Oct 21st 8:45pm
Fri, Oct 25th 10:00pm
Re:Verse is an intriguing new show by Stephen Soroka and Nic Rad. See Stephen Soroka in his 101 show Branded, below.
Mon, Oct 21st 6:15pm
Thu, Oct 24th 10:00pm
Werewolf is a game show(!) from longtime 101LA creators David Seger, Tom Kauffman, and Paul Isakson that also features an appearance from former 101NY screening host Aaron Bleyaert. See Seger’s current Prime Time powerhouse, Car Jumper, below.
Tue, Oct 22nd 7:45pm
Fri, Oct 25th 6:00pm
By Emily Bell
If there are two recent grads creepily hanging out at Channel 101 high school parties, it’s not Matt Koff and Dan McCoy. As much as we’d like to think we see them over there by the keg, hitting on some freshmen hotties, the truth is they’ve moved on to the higher stakes beer pong of college parties (if that’s an apt institutional metaphor for The Daily Show).
But that shouldn’t bum us out. Koff and McCoy found their way to the big leagues at least partially through Channel 101, with everyone’s favorite semi-absurdist animated workplace comedy, 9AM Meeting. (Think “Waiting for Godot” for the water cooler crowd.) Check out our interview below to find out how the guys met, found success, and, most importantly, discovered the entertainment magic that can happen when two people are forced to “indulge one another’s quiet madness.”
According to the Internet, which has yet to prove untrustworthy, the inspiration for 9AM Meeting came from Dan, who presumably thought of it while not looking at breasts and/or an ad for Dr. Jonathan Zizmor. Were you guys headed to a similar kind of job as “Dan” and “Matt” in the show?
Matt: Yes, around that time I was a proofreader for an awful translation company. My job was to proofread documents in languages that I did not understand. I would often while away downtime by g-chatting with Dan.
Dan: I was, in fact, on the subway going to a similar job. Actually, if I remember accurately (and I probably don’t) it was on a morning I was expected to come in for a 9 am meeting to reprimand me for making a mistake at my job—a mistake serious enough that I had to have my union rep present for the meeting. To be fair, my job had never given me formal training on the decades-old computer program on which I’d made the mistake, and I possibly would’ve cared more about my job if they weren’t literally housing me in a supply closet beneath some stairs. I’m not bitter, though. Getting to quit my job to go win an Emmy has a way of letting bygones be bygones.
That sounds awesome. Remind me to do that someday. But especially for those of us still going to office meetings, how did you guys break into comedy professionally? I know you both have worked/written/performed extensively elsewhere, but was writing 9AM at all an influence on where you went next?
Matt: Actually yes. I did sketch and improv and mostly character stuff, but 9 AM Meeting was my first attempt at trying to be funny in my own voice, which gave me the confidence to try stand-up. Once I started doing stand-up and really getting my name out there, a lot more professional opportunities started opening up for me. Thanks 9 AM Meeting!
Dan: Well, before I got the job at The Daily Show, it looked like 9AM might actually BE our big break—it got us a brief but lucrative job doing some promos for Cinemax (only one aired, because apparently movie studios don’t like their films to be advertised irreverently) AND we won the New York TV Festival’s animation prize that came with an MTV development deal. We handed in a 15-page sample script just days before I started at the show.
It also briefly looked like I might end up at Colbert. I was friends with a writer there, Frank Lesser, because we both freelanced for a (now gone) NY humor magazine named Jest. We both liked each other’s stuff, so he kept me in mind for openings when they came up. I made it as far as interviewing with Stephen once, but they ended up going with another candidate.
My TDS job came via my friend Elliott Kalan, whom I know from working on a series of shows at the (now gone—I sense a trend) downtown comedy theater Juvie Hall. Most significantly, I worked on Elliott’s own live talk show, “The Primetime Kalan.” So when openings came up, Elliott recommended me to write a sample packet. I didn’t make it anywhere the first time I submitted, but I got the job on my second try.
Point is: the road to working in comedy is full of false starts and detours that don’t seem like they’re going anywhere, until one apparent dead end turns out to be the thing that opens the right door at the right time. The most important thing is just to keep writing and getting better.
I’m putting this next question a few spaces below that answer—it’s very helpful and demands some extra space. Okay. When/where did you guys meet? If the answer is the same, or if time is relative, feel free to skip this one.
Dan: Matt and I also met at Juvie Hall, doing a sketch show called Saturday Night Rewritten. We got along, so we did a series of one-off sketch shows based around various holidays, then worked on a current events sketch show, and then out of that we started a regular sketch troupe called “Mr. Whitepants.”
Now he shares the same office as me and I hate him.
The dialogue in 9AM Meeting is conversational, the tone is subdued, and the jokes are often exquisitely under-delivered. That’s not a question. I’m just a fan.
Matt: Well… thank you.
But it is a bit of a risky tone that obviously won over an audience (Channel 101) that’s often exposed to some over-the-top performances and wilder conceits. Where did your tone come from?
Matt: I think it happened organically. Dan and myself are two of the most lethargic people I know. Put the two of us in a room, and get ready to not party.
Dan: I’ve always enjoyed deadpan things, so I never worried that it wouldn’t fly with the audience, and I think we benefitted from being kind of soothing. We may not have been everyone’s favorite, but we were very few people’s LEAST favorite. I also think that it comes from the natural tone two people would have in an awkward meeting with a coworker you’re not necessarily “friends” with. Also, we stole it from Dr. Katz.
The format of 9AM Meeting seems like a great way to work through the bizarrely meandering free association joke process. Am I wrong, or is writing a show like this sort of like the double bonus of being a male stripper; i.e. you put on a great show, and you get to work your core while you’re on the pole? Was it like that for you, comedy-wise?
Matt: It was definitely a workout. Most of the time I never felt like I was saying anything particularly funny, but Dan knew how to find and edit the good stuff.
Dan: I never thought of it that way, but it’s possible. A lot of it does come off as the first draft of some stand-up, and I think it taught me to stay open to a lot of weirdness.
How long did it take you to write each episode? Did the process look a lot like the show, not in the possibility for sudden apple orchards or Thanksgiving alligator, but in terms of you guys sitting down, talking through things?
Matt: Well, we never actually wrote anything. We’d just improvise and record ourselves talking for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Dan: The “writing” for the episode was all in the editing. The show was 100% improvised, other than us each walking in with some vague ideas about what we might talk about. We’d record about 45 minutes of dialogue, and I’d cut it down to 3 to 5 minutes of material.
What was the timing like, from screening to screening, assuming you wrote the scripts together, and Dan went back and illustrated?
Dan: It’s true that the show was written together, but I did all of the production work (Matt and I also split the “writing” of the visual gags starting around episode three or four—I’d send him the audio, and he’d send me back ideas. The animation probably took me 50 to 60 hours of work, even as simple as it looks. This is partly why the episodes got shorter as we went along. I’d like to say it was me learning to keep things tight, but it was really just laziness on my part.
Dan, I’m not asking this ironically, but did you have any training in animation? This is actually also of interest to current creators, who might not have the budget/time/craft service connections to put together a live show with human persons, but might consider themselves insufficiently talented to create an animated series.
Dan: I had no training in animation, although I’ve been a cartoonist for years (I can draw a lot better than what’s on display in the show—I kept it simple both for the aesthetic reason that it looks like an office doodle, and for the practical reason that it was easier to animate). I taught myself, using the much, much too labor-intensive process of drawing on a tablet directly in Photoshop and altering individual “cells,” then stringing those drawings together as frames in iMovie. (The process was even more labor-intensive for the first one, where I drew everything on actual pieces of paper, leaving room to alter the picture as need be, and scanned everything.)
Wow, that does sound labor-intensive. But worth it, ultimately! Matt, you’ve had a lot of other experience in Channel 101. What are some of your favorite memories? What were those experiences like in comparison?
Matt: In the early days I did many a failed pilot with Dennis Stemplinski. One time we did a pilot called Fudge Enthusiasts which never made it into a screening. And then out of spite we shot the same exact pilot but instead called it Cilantro Enthusiasts and replaced every instance of “fudge” with “cilantro.” Both versions are pretty bad and stupid, but the second one somehow made it into a screening.
That’s super sly, and yet also very straightforward. Mr. Glasses creator Mitch Magee once snuck one of his own failed pilots back into the lineup of Mr. Glasses. There’s a lot of chicanery in Channel 101 screenings. Speaking of highjinks, what are some of your comedy inspirations?
Matt: Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, SNL, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Andy Kaufman. THE LIST GOES ON AND ON.
Dan: God, too many to mention. I think it pretty much never got better than the Marx Brothers. Sketch-wise I love Python, The Kids in the Hall, and Mr. Show. No comedy writer of my generation wasn’t shaped by The Simpsons. Steve Martin, Woody Allen, Bill Murray… all greats, plus any number of people I can’t/won’t mention because the list would be longer than the interview.
Fair enough. 9AM Meeting has some associations with The Office, mostly because it also depicts that working in an office can lead to idle and hilarious chatter, but there’s a lot more to it. How do you qualify the tone of the show, or more to the point, how did writing with that kind of freedom help you figure out and/or hone your own voices? If it didn’t, please pretend it did. No, I take it back. You do not have to do that.
Dan: The tone was pretty organic, but if I had to define it in retrospect it was not a case of “crazy guy/straight man” but “crazy guy/slightly less crazy guy.” It was two people having to indulge one another’s quiet madness, because they work together.
Had you ever done anything like 9AM prior to Channel 101? What got you to the point where you decided to go for it?
Dan: I hadn’t done anything along those lines before. Basically I did the first one because I thought I had a good idea—two guys, stuck in a meeting that might never start, having to talk to one another. After I made the first one, I screened it at a party and people loved it. Matt asked whether he had my permission to submit it to 101 and I said okay. Then it was accepted, and we were like, “Well, I guess we have to keep making these.”
How long had either of you guys known about Channel 101 prior to finally getting involved?
Matt: I had known about Channel 101 since like 2004. Originally Dan had done the show as a one-off, not intending to submit for 101. Someone I knew from 101 sent an email saying that they were light on submissions that month, so I told Dan we should submit our little ‘toon. The rest, as they say, is really boring history.
Dan: [I knew for] quite some time. My brother was always a big fan, and since he knew I was doing comedy in NYC, he’d always encourage me to submit, but I was (again) too lazy. It took accidentally backing into a show to bring me into that world.
Did the show’s success get your more attention? Obviously you had the NYTVF win and the Channys, but were there other ways the show’s success impacted you? Not in the sense of a coke habit or abandoning old friends.
Dan: Just the aforementioned Cinemax promos and NYTVF win. Oh, and the coke habit and abandoning old friends.
9AM meeting is one of the big success stories of Channel 101. You guys won at the Channy’s, as well as at the NYTVF (Channel 101 has a few show creators going this year), and got the third highest vote share in 101 history. Can we assume you have back tattoos of your characters? And that you’re proud? Any plans for the show in the future?
Matt: I am proud of the show’s success. I’d definitely do something with the show again in the future. Then again, the bulk of the work falls on Dan, who spent weeks at a time animating each episode, and may not be quite as willing to start that up again. Maybe we’ll do a live Broadway musical version.
Dan: If by back, you mean tramp stamp. Then yes. But just on Matt. And I’m still very proud of the show. That said, I have no plans for another show, simply because I no longer have the extra 50 hours a month to spend on that sort of thing. The curse of success!
And finally, you both have a lot going on, again according to the trustworthy Internet, home to pornography and correct autobiographical information. What’s next for both of you?
Matt: I plan to continue writing for the Daily Show and doing stand-up comedy. I taped my first TV spot for Comedy Central for a show called Adam DeVine’s House Party, though I haven’t heard about when that’s supposed to air.
Dan: Mostly my time is spent writing the show, but I’m continuing to make my podcast The Flop House which has been lucky enough to get good press in the NY Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Onion, Parade Magazine and elsewhere. We joined Al Madrigal’s podcast network last year, and we’re taking the first baby steps toward making it something that’s profitable and not just a hobby. It’s still mainly just about having fun with my co-hosts, though.
Amen to that.
To experience all the wonders of 9AM for yourself (not the time, that’s a horrible time of day), check out the 9AM Meeting show page.
Trevor Williams and Ed Mundy are working on a film and, yeah, it’s got a Kickstarter.
A really kickass kickstarter!
by Em “Spielbergo”
If the road back from Funkytown is paved with broken dreams and typically driven in a Toyota Tercel, the road to Funkytown is sufficiently glorious to make any gloomy return trip irrelevant. (Sort of) directing Channel 101’s “Oops! I Submitted Again!” Britney Spears parody this weekend was as close to music biz glory as I’ll ever get. I was John Cougar Mellencamp, Tommy Mottola, and Chris Brown all in one. (The last pre-asshole, circa “This Christmas,” required holiday viewing for Idris Elba fans.)
Indeed, by luck or fate or the fact that I was the only one with jodpurs, I became de facto director. That is, if directors are allowed to mutter “Seriously, do whatever you think is best” and run to the bathroom in lieu of making a decision. In fact, if they’re defined by bathroom breaks and muttering, I was the Martin Scorsese of directors on this shoot.
But the real magic happened in front of the lens, where a few crazy kids and one beautiful idea came together to make a portion of a Britney Spears parody music video studded with Channel 101 references, but sufficiently Spearsesque* to conjure warm, fuzzy memories of red leather jumpsuits and lost innocence.
It’s all over now and there’s no more Tang in the stretch limo. But I figure while I trek the lonely road back from Funkytown, I’ll share some wisdom, most of it borrowed from my wiser counterparts on the shoot:
In the original video, a pretty illogical space mission turns up rosy leather-clad Britney and some similarly toned dancers just hanging out on Mars, waiting for someone to stop by and be erotically confused by their space dancing. There’s also an egregious and irrelevant Titanic reference, and the astronaut can breathe without his helmet. Part of me thinks it’s the reason NASA lost so much funding, because everyone realized space is ridiculous.
We took a simpler route for our video, which I recommend, especially despite those inevitable aspirations to recreate details most people probably won’t remember (e.g. the cake in “November Rain” was French vanilla with a marzipan-strawberry filling). Our pared down plot mostly revolved around a brunette faux-Britney (the Veronica to her Betty) who can’t help but submit another show to Channel 101, in this case the obviously cancellation-immune dramedy “Steve’s Sexy Friends.”
As for choreography, as my mentor Usher says, make sure people’s bodies move in a nice way, girrrrrrl. In case you were wondering, that group dance move they’re doing is a sexy strut/submit.
“The written word! That’s what’s super important, guys!” quoth Shakespeare. Seriously, music-video-wise (another Shakespearean term), lyrics are going to decide the tone and even the structure of the shoot, so come up with them first. In fact, better pointer, I take that last one back, put all your energy into coming up with a solid idea. “Oops! I Submitted Again!” fell into place beautifully, like a nimble Persian cat. Without such a solid idea, say, if we were trying to parody Bone Thugs n’ Harmony’s “Crossroads” (“See You at the Channy’s”?), it might have been a harder shoot. Crystal took care of lyrics on this one, and they were spot-on poifect (that’s Christopher Marlowe).
Oh, another note. Unless you have professional recording equipment and/or access to a studio, you might think about throwing some bouncy-ball lyrics in the video. Mack, of Falcon Man and also planet earth fame, made some for us and they brought out a few of the rougher lyrics (though once they were played over the loud speakers at UCB East, the lyrics were pretty dern audible). Yeah, it detracts from industry authenticity, but it makes your work more accessible to the audience, who won’t otherwise get the “It’s the good adviiiiiice that you just didn’t compute” line in your “Isn’t it Robotronic” Alanis Morisette parody.
Detailed Shot List.
It’s gonna change, but get as specific as possible, per lyric. And remember to shoot lots of filler, ideally of bobbing dinosaur and spaceman heads (it’s almost never irrelevant). Show creators are already pretty familiar with the technicalities involved in getting your shots, so I’m mostly making this note is just to prove I did in fact direct at least some of one music video and I know terms and stuff. Shot list. Gaffer. Martini Shot. Above the Line. Dutch Tilt. Moving Pictures. Blacklisted.
Mack also supplied 99% of our costumes. I brought the wig, because it was Friday and I don’t need it on Fridays, and Crystal saved the day with the red “Naughty” T-Shirt, which was apparently part of Old Navy’s 2012 “Good versus Evil” Christmas casual wear line. Basically it’s wise to use all resources here, as in the box—oh, you couldn’t tell it was a box?—hiding beneath shiny aluminum foil, subbing in for our astronaut’s helmet. In case our audience didn’t understand, we wrote “NASA” on both sides, indicating that it was an official helmet. Oh, and NASA-grade those space pants? Hilarious cheesy pick-up line pajamas, which just happen to be astronaut gray.
The wardrobe takeaway? As “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” Director McG used to say, if your music video is a sundae, costumes are the wet walnuts. Just kidding, he did not say that. But this one’s real: You tell the story. Let the costume sell the story. That’s some old timey Hollywood wisdom I just made up.
Keep. The Talent. Happy.
Imagine a room full of exquisitely talented toddlers with perfect skin all on variously conflicting psychopharmacological regimens. That’s pretty much what shooting a music video is like. So be prepared. We kept a masseuse on call for whoever played our astronaut (he insisted on anonymity, claiming to work for “actual NASA”) and at one point I got a skinny two-pump vanilla latte in hand just in time to prevent Dani, our resident “Britney,” from stabbing me in the leg with a surprisingly brittle Twizzler. (Her passion is her gift and her curse.) So keep a barista and plenty of snacks on hand, probably vegan, and, if possible, hyper-oxygenated because it makes you live forever. I know. It sounds exhausting. And yes, I had to run all of Alex’s Sea Salt Pop Chips under a UV lamp to absorb extra Vitamin D or else he’d go into the corner and threaten “pooicide.” But you know what? I got the shot. I got my shot.