Saturday, November 20, 2010

Concentric Circles FTW.

It's the little things that make the biggest difference in life. Except for the big things that is. I guess the big things really are bigger, now that I think about it...

For example, when pulling together all of the elements of this show, we began to realize that there was one vital thing missing. That thing was of course a floating dirigible of some kind.

But it turns out those are really hard to get your hands on these days, so instead we switched gears and began searching for the perfect, eye-catching logo to grace our title card. For this we turned to freelance graphic designer Todd Donahue (we had also approached him before about the dirigible thing. He was much more receptive this second time).

We had a few definite parameters in mind ("Iconic imagery, yes. Frontal nudity, no. Obscured nudity considered on a case by case basis,") but for the most part we trusted in Todd's instincts, and what he eventually showed us surpassed even our wildest hopes and dreams:

Pretty good, right? But then it turned out someone was already using that one. I know, what are the odds?

Lucky for us, Todd had a backup, and after all was said and done we liked this one even better, and not just because it saved us from a billion-dollar trademark infringement lawsuit:

Couldn't have done it better myself. No, really, I couldn't! Not to save my life. Not to save my life and get a peanut butter sandwich, even. And I loves me some peanut butter, so that's saying something.

Many thanks to Todd from everyone at the Variety Society. As a token of our appreciation, we're all getting it tattooed on our necks.

Okay, not really. But the thank you part was serious.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Introducing our, um, intro. That didn't really come out right...

We'd like to let you see the entire show right now, but we can't. You're just not ready yet.

See, right now you're like Ralph Macchio at the beginning of "The Karate Kid", and we need you more like Ralph Macchio in the middle of "The Karate Kid". Or maybe even "The Karate Kid 2".

If you saw the show right now, it might just blow your mind. And we can't be responsible for that. For one thing, our insurance won't cover it. You'll just have to wait until Friday, by which time we assume your horizons will have expanded to the point that you can safely ingest 21st century comedy.

Don't worry though, you're not going to go away totally empty-handed. Please accept this lovely parting gift, the intro to our show, which will give you a little preview of what's ahead as well as demonstrate the preferred method of keeping your suit from wrinkling if you happen to have fallen asleep in it.

Episode One Intro from Viral Media Network on Vimeo.

Just a quick note, that video and all future releases comes to you courtesy of Vimeo, which is kind of like YouTube but with fewer trolls. Subscribe now and we'll throw in this complimentary tote bag. Assuming you can send tote bags to people through the internet that is. That's totally something that's possible, right?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Eagle has landed!

And they said it couldn't be done!

Okay, admittedly, I don't remember anyone actually saying that, and in fact I'm not even sure who "they" are, but somewhere someone at some point was probably saying it couldn't be done and now that hypothetical anonymous person is eating hypothetical anonymous crow! Burn on you, Hypothetical Guy, burn!

Congratulations to all of our hard-working crew and performers, big thanks to Peter Kim, Joshua Davis, and PianoFight for joining us, and an extra special thanks to the wonderful audience who turned out to see our first show.

Those of you who weren't there can live down your shame and profound regret when we present the replay. It'll be up in a jiffy, just as soon as we edit out the part where the emu went nuts and trashed the place (man, Johnny Carson always made that exotic animals schtick look a LOT easier than it really is!).

Our next taping is scheduled for December 18th, once again at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center. As interest grows and we get more practised we hope to move to a weekly format sometime next year. In the meantime we'll keep you posted on all of the latest developments right here at

You see what I just did there, how I linked to the page that you're already on? That's totally post-modern, that's edgy stuff there people! You just never know what you can expect around here.

Mostly pseudonyms and disinformation.

Here we are less than a day away from our big premiere (once more with feeling: Saturday, November 13th, at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center, 145 9th St in San Francisco, at 4:30 PM!) and needless to say everyone is extraordinarily excited. And I'm not just talking about our intern, Extraordinarily Excitable Ed. Although Ed too is, well, you know.

Being as we are just a few scants hours away from show time, it might be appropriate to pay some recognition to just a few of the people who have worked so hard to bring all of the elements of this show together.


Sam Jack: Rogue CIA agent, billionaire playboy, and our esteemed producer. I'm not really sure if those first two things are true, but the producer part certainly is.

It's no exaggeration to say that Sam is the guy who has quite definitively made this show happen. See, he "produced" the program, I FINALLY understand what that term means!

The toughest part of Sam's job is that if you compliment him too much it seems like butt-kissing, so a lot of what he does really is a thankless contribution. Yeah, it's tough to be the boss.

Dan Sullivan: Our host, of course! If Sam is the guy who built the show, Dan is definitely the guy he built the show around.

As a writer, it's one of the great comforts in life to know that the material you produce will be in the hands of a very savvy, charismatic, accomplished performer who always knows exactly how to handle it.

Those of you at home can't tell, but I just cued up that sound effect from every episode of Full House where the audience goes "Awwww!"

Justin Lanelutter: Our head writer, plus producer and Music Man (just short of the requisite Seventy-Six Trombones though), and also the guy who brought me onboard, so clearly that's an accomplishment without precedent, right?

While I just got done crediting two other guys as being the guys without whom the show wouldn't exist, you really have to same the same about Justin because, hey, without him, we literally wouldn't have a show, the teleprompter would be empty!

And don't go looking at me, without Justin to answer to I'd have probably spent the last six weeks doodling horsies in my notebook and talking about how I think sloths get a bad rap (they really do, btw).

Nick Comney: Associate producer and contributing writer, the guy who did the very difficult legwork of securing guests and shooting space and all of that other stuff that the rest of us just assume magical elves take care of or something.

Nick, gotta say, great work all around, and just once more for the record, I was not the one who spread the rumor around the production that you are a werewolf.

Although I was the one who put silver shavings into your coffee. But in my defense, I thought I was doing you a favor.

Colin Murray: Our director. And if that right there doesn't sound like just about the bravest thing a guy can do with this crowd already then I don't even know what else to tell you.

Marcus Sams: A guy who was awesome enough to sign on as our newsman when we were in really desperate need, and who was then immediately rewarded by being handed the absolute most difficult to perform material in the entire show.

I haven't gotten to meet Marcus yet but I sure hope he doesn't hold a grudge, otherwise I may have to change my name or play dumb for fear that he'll go straight from handshake to headlock.

Erik Braa: Our phenomenal announcer, who quite honestly has a voice I would totally go gay for who quite honestly has a voice I would totally go gay for who quite honestly has a voice I would totally go gay for (wow, turns out you just can't not write that, crazy).

Erik could have just prerecorded all of his stuff, but he made a point of wanting to be live in the studio for the taping, which shows real dedication.

Brendon Fox: Floor director, B-unit director, and a man with quite a steady editing hand (I tried so hard to make that rhyme but it just didn't shake out).

I can't really tell you much about what Brendon does because, well, it's stuff that's really beyond my feeble mind to even understand, much less explain. If I had his job our camera setup would consist of a monkey with a Polaroid who would just create a very elaborate flipbook. Thank God for Brendon.

Adam L Brinklow: For the most part we've got a good crew here, but this last guy is just plain bad news. He started submitting his material to us via launching great heaps of manuscripts at our producer from a catapult he had set up on the roof.

We told him to stop, but he just wouldn't take no for an answer. And I mean that literally; every time we said "No!" he just repeated back "Yes?" with a kind of deer-in-headlights expression.

Turns out he's on some kind of work release program from San Quentin. We really didn't want to hire him, but we felt a little bad because his only other recourse was a gig in a fireworks factory where he'd have a fifty-fifty chance of being blinded within the first six months.

For the most part now he just pitches jokes that are half unprintable obscenities mingled and half threatening remarks directed at the post office, or as he calls them, "The foot soldiers of the Illuminati!"

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention our interns, Nick Hanna, Christian Estrada, and Erin Walker. Oh, and Extraordinarily Excitable Ed, of course, but I figured you'd remember him from earlier. He's not a man you easily forget.


We're all on the edges of our seats waiting for the big day, and it had better come soon because the edges of our seats are pointy and uncomfortable (we'll have different seats at the show).

Anyone who can't make it out...should be incredibly ashamed of themselves. But since we're in a magnanimous mood, the show in its entirety will be available through a number of channels online, including right here. Yep, we're just that awesome. Spread the word.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Zero hour.

Holy crap, we're taping a TV show in three days! Why didn't anyone tell me?

You say you told me repeatedly? Well why didn't you make sure I was paying attention?

You say I repeated the information back to you and have been telling people about it for weeks now?

Alright, forget that, that's all details, we've got to get our act together here. First thing we need is the final script, whose job is that? You say that's my job? Um, right. Okay. I'm all over it.

Now we need a host. Somebody get Dan out of the cryogenic freezing tube we keep him in between shoots. He needs at least two days to thaw out. If he gets freezer burn you're paying for a new one!

Ah damn, you mean we've gotta have guests on this show too? Geez, it's all coming at me at once! Well who do we have lined up? Joshua Davis from Wired Magazine, you say? Awesome, I've got lots of insightful wire-related questions prepped. I'm personally very interested in hearing his opinion on the brewing controversy regarding solid versus stranded wire and the most efficient method of jacketing.

Okay, turns out Wired Magazine is not about what I think it's about. No problem, I'm rolling with the punches here. In addition to Davis, local sketch comedy group Piano Fight will be performing, and the guys from Endgames will also be stopping by.

See what I did there when I said "stopping by", as though this was just a casual thing they do on the fly instead of a scheduled event worked out weeks ahead of time? That's showbiz talk. See, we're getting the hang of this already!

Now I did some measurements and it turns out my garage has inadequate shooting space. Also there's nowhere to seat the audience. Also, I don't actually have a garage, I've just been parking my car and storing boxes in my neighbors', and they're getting pretty fed up with me as it is.

All things considered, we should probably just move the whole production to the Ninth Street Independent Film Center at 145 9th Street (between Minna and Natoma).

Once again that's the Ninth Street Independent Film Center at 145 9th Street in San Francisco (between Minna and Natoma), where we begin seating at 4:30 PM.

And as long as I'm on the subject, we're going to need an audience too. Now where does one go about finding that? I already checked Amazon and the hardware store down the street, but no luck, so I guess we'll have to do this the old-fashioned way.

You, you, and you, go get three people you know and bring them back here! No, wait, on second thought don't bring them here, I've got nowhere to put them. Instead just bring them to the Ninth Street Independent Film Center at 145 9th Street (between Minna and Natoma) at 4:30 PM this Saturday, November 13th!

Okay, it's all finally coming together! Everyone has been working around the clock for weeks now (okay, it was less of a clock and more one of those old-fashioned egg timers, but still) and we're very excited about the big night. Also, slightly terrified. But it's okay, we've got anti-anxiety meds, we're totally cool. And if we wig out, we'll just edit it later.

See, TV is so much easier than real life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The creative process in action.

Being a writer is a pretty easy job, right up until the point when you have to actually start writing.

There are other elements of the process of course; putting off writing, pretending that you're writing, making up excuses for why you didn't write, Guitar Hero breaks from not writing, calls from your parents wondering why they bothered to fund your college education, etc. It's a serious grind.

But at some point or another you really do have to bite the bullet and sit down to put words on paper, that is if you don't resort to suicide first. With less than two weeks before our first taping the time has come for us all to buckle down and decide on a final script for the show.

It all happens tomorrow in the writer's room; five men go in, one comes out. To get coffee. Then goes back in again to see how everyone else is doing.

Generally, there are a few things one wants to bring along when undertaking on such a grueling process, some basic necessities that need to be covered so that the creative juices can flow:

1. A blunt object.

Because sometimes it's just the only way to demonstrate how right you are.

2. Wine.

Not because we're drunks mind you, just to appease the cyclops who lives upstairs. Yes, a cyclops rents the apartment over our work space. We'll be honest, it's not an ideal creative environment, but this is the city and you take what you can get.

3. Tranquilizer darts.

Because someone always thinks it's funny to bring a tiger. Yeah, I know, that doesn't even make sense, but I'm telling you, it happens every time!

4. A test audience.

You know, someone with an objective point of view who we can bounce material off of. Provides valuable perspective.

5. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing.

Which quite frankly involves way more reading than we would have expected from a book specifically marketed to idiots.

6. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Complete Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing.

For those who found the first book too cerebral.

For the record, and in all seriousness, I didn't know that #5 actually existed. Until I Googled it, I assumed that it was something I had just made up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Campaign Promises

First of all, we now have a show email:

thevarietysociety [at] gmail [dot] com

Here are the first two promos we put together for SF Sketchfest.

Stay tuned for a bonus promo in the near future!