Kevin O’Brien [Interview]

Today’s interview subject is a truly special human being that I am so happy to have on the site today. It’s the brilliant writer and filmmaker Kevin O’ Brien! His debut feature film, At the End of the Day, was recently released and you may remember us talking about said film just last March. It still remains my favorite film of 2019. It is a poignant and brilliant look into the world of christianity and the absurdity of discriminating against a person because of who they choose to love. It is a powerful story that is done so well by Mr. O’ Brien, and I can not recommend it highly enough to you all.
We were excited to learn a bit more about Kevin’s latest film, and obviously a bit more about him as well. We were so fortunate to be able to steal a few responses from him to share with you all. His compassion is amazing, and he obviously has a serious set of ideals that are memorable and will conceivably lead to even greater projects to come in the near future. And we are so excited to follow him on his journey of creativity, wherever that proverbial road may go. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Kevin O’ Brien!
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When did you first discover your passion for the world of filmmaking? Was it something that you always knew you wanted to do? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?
I discovered filmmaking later in life, in my 30s. I always loved movies, but I grew up in a small town on the Virginia coast in a rather sheltered home, so to me movies were these things created in a far off magical land and shipped to us. I had no idea filmmaking was a career option. I actually discovered filmmaking while on a church staff as a creative director. We often used original elements in the worship gathering, and I started writing and editing them, and quickly fell in love with the entire process, specifically being able to move an entire audience with words, images, and music. A few years in and I knew I wanted to make it my career.
Your debut feature film, At the End of the Day, is truly a magical piece of cinematic art if I have ever seen one. I truly loved it a lot. So, I am curious to know where this story came from? How much of it is based on reality for you personally? I’ve come to learn that you yourself grew up with a very conservative and religious upbringing?
Well, that is very kind, Ron. Thank you. I did grow up much like the lead character, and the “coming of theology” he experiences was very much inspired by my own growth, but the actual story is fiction. However, the dilemas, scenarios, and characters are all based on close friends and their experiences. The stories we hear in the middle of the film (at the Zebra house) are real stories, not written or acted out scenes. Those are the actual stories told by the youth who lived them. That was very important to me from the beginning – to have a sense of authenticity about these relationships.
I like to say that At the End of the Day is fiction, but it’s true. And in many religious circles it’s a current situation. It’s easy to think that our culture has become so progressive and that this kind of rejection is over the top or dated, but for those living in religious homes and communities, it is reality.
While the entire cast of the film was amazing, I recently felt the need to single out Chris Cavalier, who portrays the character Nate, in our recent showcase of At the End of the Day. I am always curious to know how a creator just “knows” when they have found the right person for a role. So, I am curious to know how you came to realize that Cavalier was the obvious choice to play Nate?
Man, Chris is so good. He actually wasn’t who I imagined originally for the part, but from his first audition for Nate, I knew he was it. He was so authentic and real. The main thing I look for in casting actors is if I believe what they are saying, and I believed him right away. He’s such a powerful talent, and a kind spirit. I always enjoyed when Chris was on set. We had a few conversations early on about how he should play Nate, and I think we really found him together.
Now that the film is out there for the entire world to enjoy, I’m certain that there are who will demonize the film based on the premise alone, without actually even watching the film before judging. This is the sad reality we live in. But, I am more curious about the positivity that I am sure has come from the film being out in the world. So how has it been on that level? Have you had fans reaching out about how the film has impacted them?
Yes, the positive stories far outweigh the negative. From the very first screenings, people have told us how much they have felt seen and heard in this movie. They’ve thanked us for telling their stories. I think it’s a perspective that’s very underserved – people who grew up in evangelical religious homes and are looking for their own truth. It’s a very lonely place – I know because I’ve experienced it. Ironically, the social institution of the Church is not very forgiving when you start to ask questions or come out as your true self. For many of these youth in christian colleges, they are forced to remain in the closet in order to graduate, and many of them have no other educational options. We’ve also heard from family members who have watched the film, and though they don’t agree quite yet, it helped them respond in love when their own kids came out to them. It’s been amazing hearing these stories.
What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?
I’m developing a few ideas for my next feature, as well as a series. It really depends on which opportunity presents itself as the next thing that needs to be made. My passions lean toward telling stories of empathy and humanizing the marginalized, so I’m pulled to ideas about immigration and women’s rights.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
My wife, Teresa, who produced At the End of the Day with me, was just honored as the Volunteer of the Year at our kids’ middle school. We have three 7th graders, and she spends a day per week in their understaffed office, helping out wherever she’s needed. I just saw a picture of her by a banner they printed for her, and that certainly made me smile.
Check out Kevin’s brilliant film At the End of the Day on DVD and VOD now. To learn more about the film, check out our previous coverage of the film as a Sunday Matinee.

Rachele Brooke Smith [Interview]

 

Makeup by Cassie Paige, Hair by Garrett Arter, Styling by Matthew Peridis

 

Hello Folks! After a partial break to welcome the Spring, we are heading back into the beautiful chaos that is Trainwreck’d Society, and bringing you some absolutely wonderful interviews once again. Today we have the incredible actress Rachele Brook Smith on the site! We are so very excited to have her grace our digital pages. Long time readers will recognize Smith has one of the stars of a delightful horror film we covered a couple of Month of Horror showcases a while ago, entitled Cold Moon. She appeared alongside the legendary Christopher Lloyd, in the film’s stand out performance. This is how we came to know her, and was only the start of a process of getting to know a damn fine actress who has done so much incredible work.

Rachele began her career at a very young age, competing heavily in the world of gymnastics before moving to the big screen. She goes in great detail about this venture in her wonderful words below. She made her breakout performance with the lead role in the film Center Stage: Turn It Up, the sequel to the smash hit film Center Stage. And she has done nothing but crush since then. She has appeared in everything from Marvel Universe classics, to cutting edge thrillers like Psycho Stripper that is coming this May, which happens to be written and directed by our old friend Jake Helgren!

We are so excited to share some words from one of today’s finest performers that we know you are going to love. So Folks, please enjoy some words from the brilliant Rachele Brooke Smith!

 

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When did you decide you wanted to join the world of acting? What inspired you to want to play pretend for a living? I understand you were dedicated gymnast prior to becoming a brilliant actress? What inspired the change?

Well it all began when I was very little, actually. I grew up a very competitive gymnast & After breaking my hand during one of the best competitions of my life (and having to have surgery on it), I began to realize how truly unhappy I was, and even though it was ridiculously hard, and seemed almost impossible at the time to quit, I eventually did find the strength to so (I don’t think I will ever forget how sad and lost back then).  Around that same time I went with my family to see the movie Center Stage by Nicholas Hytner. This particular film was so powerful for me, I had crazy goosebumps, chills, and so filled with inspiration, I literally couldn’t move. Even after everyone else had left the theater I was still sitting there with an overwhelming feeling of joy, passion, a little bit of fear,  and lots of excitement. I just knew in that very powerful moment that I would never forget this experience. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be just like that girl that I watched light up that screen and inspired me so much. I went from feeling so sad, so lost, so alone to feeling more alive and full of joy and wonderment then ever before. I wanted to do everything I possible could and work harder than I ever had before to be able to move and change people the way that film had changed me.  I wanted to act, dance, and perform more than anything and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.  After that moment there really was no looking back, i just knew that performing and storytelling was what I was born to do.

I barely slept all through high school because I was to busy dancing and acting all the time. Then the plan was to go to my dream college that had one of the best performing arts programs, then go to LA to follow my dream of being a lead actress. Fun fact, that plan failed big time and I didn’t get into my dream college  (even though I had a 3.9 GPA, captain of the dance line, lead our schools non profit activities, and was in student government all 4 years). After few weeks of complete devastation, confusion, and not knowing what to do next (I was all set up to go to ASU… however something inside me felt awful about making that move) I saw an opportunity to audition for a super intense performing arts scholarship program in LA… long story short, I last minute flew to LA with my mom, auditioned, got in (yay!!!!), and had 2 weeks to move and get all set up in this new crazy big city I knew pretty much no one and very little  about (I mean other than what I saw in movies).

During this very intense year program (which was one of the hardest but best things I have ever done) I couldn’t audition for anything or have an agent. As soon as I finished the program I got signed to a dance agency and tried to get in with an acting agency but got turned down and was very discouraged. A couple weeks later I saw a sign on the wall for auditions for the lead girl in Center Stage: Turn It Up (the sequel to the very film that changed me as a little girl). My initial reaction was thinking there was no way this could have been happening. It seemed so surreal, almost not even possible. I will never forget the moment, sitting at home in my room after justifying all the reasons not to go, when I had this overwhelming feeling that I had to go. It was so powerful that it honestly felt like it pushed me out the door and to the audition. I had that feeling through the next month or so, and what seemed like a rollercoaster ride of emotions of my childhood dream being so close but yet so far away. I ended up having to go in 6 different times for that role, then finally got the call that I booked the gig. After what felt like forever, I got a call from one of the agents that turned me down saying that Sony Pictures wanted to book me to play Kate Parker in Center Stage: Turn It Up and that I would be leaving to film in Vancouver in a couple of day (haahhhhhh… hahhhh . haaahhh.. Ya that was me screaming in my car.. Probably not very safe for me to be driving right then).  It was a literal childhood dream come true, I was about to play the lead in the sequel to the movie that changed my life as a little girl, I was going to get to be “that girl” that inspired me so much. This crazy, beautiful, overwhelming, and to me somewhat miraculous experience was what has shaped my entire brand and company. All I want to do is to use this story to inspire others and be “that girl” to move and change anyone’s life I possibly can through the arts, performing, and storytelling.

Here is a video where I talk all about this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIEfBRizMeU

 

 

 

Cold Moon was an absolute gem of a film, and you were definitely one of the biggest highlights of the film, in my opinion. How was your experience working on such a beautifully dark project like this? What was it like bringing Belinda Hale to life? 

 

Working on Cold Moon was such a dream come true for me (both literally and figuratively). For several years I had been obsessing over playing a southern bell character… so when this script came my way and when I auditioned for it… the whole processes honestly just felt so meant to be it was kind of crazy. Yet another experience, similar  to my “center stage” story, of how our thoughts effect what happened in our life experience.

Cold Moon is a suspense thriller that I play a southern Belle who is the happiest, sweetest, most full of life person you will probably ever meet. She was one of my very favorite characters to play… especially since I feel that every character I play rubs off on me a little.. and man while I was filming that movie I felt happier than I think I ever have in  my entire life.  I especially loved getting to work with one of my very favorite directors, Griff Furst, as well as Christopher Lloyd, Josh Stewart, Candy Clark and so many more phonemail talents.

We are huge fans of SyFy original films around here, having talked with so many great folks who have worked on some of their titles. And you’re in that grouping as well! I thought Atomic Shark (which also featured our old friend Adam Ambruso!) was so much fun! So how was that experience for you? Was it as fun to work on as it was for us to watch?

I love love love acting in (& watching) action-comedy films and playing opposite Jeff Fahey, Bobby Campo, and Adam Ambruso on this kick-ass new SYFY film.

Its always so fun to play a bad-ass character like my character, Gina Delamo. It was both such an awesome and challenging experience. I have been dying to do action roles/films for a long time now… so this was another big dream come true for me, one that I visualize everyday and talk everyones ear off about all the time. Its just the coolest feeling when what you think, dream, and slightly obsess over all of the sudden becomes your reality.

I had to do a lot of crazy intense stuff, one of which was a really cool fight scene with one of my female co-stars (Sooo fun). Due to my athletic background I really really love playing bad-ass action hero characters like I got to play in this film and I just can’t wait to do more like it.

It was also so fun to play “Gina Delamo” again in the unofficial sequel Nightmare Shark that came out recently.

 

 

You have worked on projects that have shot all over the globe, from Vancouver to Puerto Rico, right back to L.A., etc. So in your experience, what has been the most exciting location you have worked in thus far? 

Probably Puerto Rico just because it felt like I was on vacation with my friends while at the same time getting to live my dream of making movies.

If you were handed the chance to star in the biopic of any important figure from American history, who would it be? 

Cleopatra – because she fascinating and so was the time she lived in.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I play a really feisty character named “Taryn” in an awesome new film called Psycho Stripper.

I also play a lead character in a new movie called The Missing Sister. This character was so fun to play because I got to play a doctor (I come from a very big medical family so this was really fun for me) but she also is a big kick boxer so I also get to do a lot of really cool fight scenes which is always my very favorite to get to do.

I also play the lead girl in a new film coming out called The Last Exorcist where I play a very tormented girl who has to figure out a way to overcome a ton of tragedy. I also play opposite Danny Trejo in this film and since then we have become the best of friends and I could not be more grateful for his friendship and his example, he is truly a hero of mine. I really feel like this film will blow everyone away and I can’t wait for it to come out.

I also produced and am starring in a new series called, “Class Act”

I also have a very big project in the works with my own production company “Disruptive Productions” that I know will change the game and take people by a very big surprise. I can’t say much more than that right now but I can say that if you want to be a part of the movement they can join at DisruptiveDare.com and get their very own wearable reminders to help them disrupt doubt and be their own hero at DisruptiveApparel.com

And I would love to help anyone and everyone and people can connect with me on my instagram www.instagram.com/rbrookesmith

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The love of my life.

Kelli Maroney [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely wonderful interview to share with you all today here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we have some wonderful words from a person who has been consistently displayed a brilliant amount of perfection as a performer over the last few decades. It’s the legendary Kelli Maroney! This is a person who has appeared in so much of our favorite things over the years, specifically she is a legend in the world of horror films, and even more specifically, she is an iconic figure from one of my personal favorite non-horror films of all time, which is the brilliant Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Seriously Folks, the plethora of work that Kelli has done is incredibly impressive. We talk specifically about three different projects in this interview, and it was so informative and exciting to learn about these projects. But, I have to state that you need to look even further into the career of the incredibly talented Kelli Maroney. She’s one of the best in the business.

I am so damn excited that Kelli was able to take some time to grace our digital pages with her wonderful responses. This is an interview for the ages here, Folks. Maroney is such an inspiring figure that has made me feel so honored to know that she was even remotely interested in being featured on our humble site. So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the brilliant and remarkably talented actress Kelli Maroney!

 

When did you first discover your passion for the world of performance? Was it something you that you always knew you wanted to do? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day? 

My mother and I loved watching old movies on TV with Bette Davis, Susan Hayward, and all those fabulous stars. I gravitated towards the weird, big surprise–Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I Want to Live!, The Birds (Yes, she actually let me watch that! I was even shocked that she did!). Then I did a little scene in the 4th grade–no big deal, just in class–and got a huge laugh! I was hooked! What a great feeling! So, ever since then I’ve been torn between being funny and being scary.  I always knew this was my world. It’s the place I feel at home and where I belong. As a kid my goals were: Princess/Queen, The Virgin Mary/devout nun, or Movie Star, so becoming an actor was actually the most realistic choice of the bunch!

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And was there anything thing taken from that experience that continues to influence your work to this day? 

As a teen, I had the enormously fortunate big break of being cast in a popular ABC Daytime Soap Opera, Ryan’s Hope! It was one of those things that only happens in the movies, and when it does, you go, “That would never happen.” But, it did! I was attending a summer conservatory program to be a classical stage actor and ended up with a plumb TV gig in New York City within two weeks of landing there. And I learned everything on that show. The actress who played my mother, Louise Shaffer, could have had me for breakfast but instead taught me how to act on a three camera stage and guided me in creating a character, crying on cue, giving interviews and making appearances–you name it, I learned it all from her. She is an unbelievably generous actress and person and one of my favorite people to this very day. I’ll never be able to repay her for her kindess and care. From her I also learned the power of giving a damn about your fellow performers, creators, and crew, and that may be the greatest gift of all. Nothing goes further towards making a film or TV or stage play or anything than supporting you fellow cast and crew.

One of the genre’s you have done some truly exceptional work in happens to be one of our favorite genres, which is the world of horror. I am curious to know how you enjoy working in the world of horror? What sets it apart from the plethora of other genres you have worked in? 

Thank you! I didn’t consciously gravitate towards the genre in the beginning, but I always say that you don’t choose Horror, Horror chooses YOU. I’m a no-holds-barred type and so feel comfortable with things getting wild. What I loved about the field was and is the individuality and rebeliousness of the producers, writers, directors, SFX, and everyone involved in the making of the project.  It’s courageous and spirited to have a vision with not enough money or time to lavish on it and still be determined to realize it and do it in their own way. The talent that I meet in Horror are brilliant, original and complex thinkers with creativity, kindness and humor to burn. It’s much more of a family than any other genre, Vulnerability is a requirement. People are using the medium to say something about life and the human condition and that requires opening to one’s deepest fears and loves in a completely non-judgmental way. The audience may judge but the fillmmakers are all just about love and acceptance.

 

 

 

One project you have worked on was the very unique project that was directed by a past interview subject known as Jim Wynorski, entitled Chopping Mall. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this project? I have heard that it was a kind of weird one?

Well, it was guerilla filmmaking in that we could only use the Galleria Mall when they were closed for the night and had to put everything back so they could reopen in the morning. I have no idea how our crew did that to this day. All hell broke loose every night of shooting, with things exploding and us running around breaking things, etc. No one had any idea we were making a movie called Chopping Mall. First we thought we were doing Robot, then Killbots and then when we heard what the actual title was going to be we couldn’t believe it. No one is chopped?! So as a young performer i learned the concept of marketing and what sells very quickly! I had a great time working with the cast and crew and have many friendships from Chopping Mall to this day. Barbara Crampton is a jewel of a friend and I met er on that set.  And I love playing the badass final girl and always will because it’s awesome.

Beyond the world of horror, you had an absolutely wonderful appearance in the legendary comedy, Fast Times At Ridgemont High. I am always curious to know what it is like to work on a project that eventually becomes a true cult classic. When you were working on this project, was there any indication that something was special about this project? Anything that would have led you to believe that you were being a part of something special? 

I feel like I DID know, although I have to take into account that it was my first time to Hollywood/LA and first time at the veriy iconic and impressive Universal Studios, so all that could have combined into feeling that it was special. However, from the time I read Cameron Crowe’s book through auditioning in NYC I knew it was the first time that these kinds of things that high school kids go through were being explored on film, so I knew it was daring. By the time I got to the set the first day it was obvious to me that we were involved in something extraordinary, with the true story of how Cameron Crowe infilterated a high school undercover (making it based on real people!), and Director Amy Heckerling coming out of NYU, and all the gifted and serious young actors. There was so much talent just walking around set all the time! It was edgy enough that Universal considered not releasing it at all. You know something is important when everyone fears and rejects it-haha! And yet, today my cheerleading outfit is in the Universal museum and Fast Times is in the Library of Congress, so mission accomplished.

 

 

You appeared alongside our dear friend Catherine Mary Stewart in another cult classic, this time in the sci-fi realm, in Night of the Comet. This was a truly wild experience of a film that I truly enjoyed. So, sort of the same question as before, but I am more curious to know how it was to work on a project like this? What it as much fun to work on as it was for me to watch? 

Yes! Again, there was that sense of something special happening. Catherine Mary Stewart and I didn’t even audition together but from the second we started working it was as if I’d always known her. That kind of chemistry is pretty unique. I remember feeling that the story and our work was respected on that set. Maybe because the producer Crawford/Lane through Atlanic Releasing) was an actor, or the fact that Thom was so hands-on and available 24/7 throughout shooting, or that we had an excellent crew led by Gordon Booz (RIP) or because there were so few of us actors on-set–I don’t know for sure, but I felt comfortable being able to go deep and then to be silly the very next minute. And best of all, Catherine Mary Stewart, who is a dear friend to this day.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers? 

I have a film coming out called Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, and two others, Blowing Up Now and A Well Respected Man heading for the festival circuits. I’m going to be shooting a revenge film soon if all goes well with the financing, and I’ll be in Canada April 26-28 for a Horror convention.  All my appearances are immediately scheduled on my website: http://www.kellimaroney.com

and on my social media: Facebook.com/officialkellimaroney, The Official Kelli Maroney Facegroup Page, www.twitter.com/kellimaroney, www.instagram.com/kellimaroney.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

This question! Also, my followers on social media post who say some hilarious things. And the Springtime–it’s gorgeous in Los Angeles now. And animals always. My cat Purrsephone and everyone else’s pets, too.

Bert V. Royal [Interview]

Photo by Vivien Killilea for WireImage

Hello Folks! And welcome back to another fine week of content for you all here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we are speaking with an absolute gem of a human being, a brilliant writer, and just a damn kind soul overall. It’s Bert V. Royal Everyone! Bert is the person responsible for writing one of the best “coming of age” stories (or maybe more like “fuck, it sucks to be young sometimes” stories) that the entire world knows and love, and that would be the Emma Stone fronted film Easy A. I first caught this film when it was released at a very weird time in my life. I was 25 years old. Far removed from the inner workings of a modern setting of what goes on in high school, but not so far removed that the anxiety and pressure of being somebody, for some reason, that is supposed to comply with the world around them and just accept that people are shit some times and will believe whatever they want to believe in, and it was up to me take the matters at hand into my own hands, like a regular ole Olive over here!

And as it always seems to happen to be (we really get some of the best of the best around here, I have to say) learning more about the cat who penned such an amazing film made me realize that Bert V. Royal was not only special because of this one story that they had to tell. Bert was/is special because they are delightful person with a voice all of their own and is just an all around wonderful spirit. In my first reading of a smattering of digital words from this fine person, I quickly realized that we are so fortunate to have Royal on the site with us today. And we are so damn excited to continue to follow the career that will be the legacy of Bert Royal, and to have Bert on the site today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the best in the business today! Enjoy!

 

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When did you first discover your passion for writing? Was it a deep-rooted passion you have always had, or did you just find yourself enveloped in the world of creating words for the screen and stage?

I think like any young wannabe writer, I wrote a novel at age 12.  It was called Slipping Into the Subconscious.  It was 14 pages – hand-written.  And 32 chapters.  I recently found it and it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  But I was SO proud of it at the time.  Then many, many years later I wrote a play called George Glass (I was about 23) and it had similar themes and was also abysmally bad.  All signs pointed at ‘Bert Shouldn’t Be a Writer.’  But then I wrote another play at age 26 and people seemed to like it, so here I am.  But after that play I had to figure out how to be a good writer.  I’m still figuring it out.

According to the always reliable website Wikipedia, you made your move from Florida to NYC to work as an intern in the casting department, working on one of my favorite yet short-lived variety shows of all time, Chappelle’s Show. I’m curious as to how this gig may have influenced the rest of your career? Did you have any sort of takeaways or lessons learned that helped shape the career you have formed? Also, in specific regards to Chappelle’s Show, do you remember any specific sketches involving people you managed to get on the show? 

Well, I moved to New York specifically to work in casting and I was fortunate to work with incredibly talented and creative and wonderful people (and some shitheads for good measure) doing Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, TV and film.  I wouldn’t highlight Chappelle’s Show as giving me any sort of influence.  I thought it was kind of ridiculous.  But, dude – the auditioning process for that show was HIGHLY memorable.  We would see really amazing comedians along with some super bizarre people.  Pat, the casting director I worked for, was mostly busy with a network show called Hack – so her assistants and associates would do the auditions for Chappelle’s Show.  (We had NO idea it was gonna be this cultural phenomenon.)  We would get these really lewd scripts and think ‘this is NEVER gonna get aired,’ but we went through the motions and – lo and behold – the stuff would get broadcast AND everyone would be talking about it the next day.  One of the associates, Eli Dawson – who is this brilliant theatre casting director – came to work in the office and I think it was, like, his first day and he and I did the auditions for the ‘Blind Supremacist’ sketch.  We couldn’t stop laughing at the strange array of people who came in.  The whole time we were like: “What the hell is this show?  And who are these people?”  And then it becomes this huge deal.  So, I guess that was the lesson I learned: you NEVER know what’s gonna be a huge hit.  Kudos to Dave Chappelle.

The 2010 film you wrote entitled Easy A was an absolute gem, if I could say so myself, and I’m sure everyone else on earth has said the same. I can remember first checking out this film, and realizing it was SO MUCH better than I thought it was going to be looking at in on the surface. So much of that obviously has to do with the writing. With that in mind, I am curious to know how you developed this story? How much of the film was derived from personal experiences?

Thanks!  It’s a really good movie.  And I’m not saying that because I wrote it.  The stars all aligned and there were some tremendously talented people who crafted it into a success.  (That red-headed girl for one.)  Olive’s character is based on a number of fabulous young women I grew up with, who always stood up for the skinny, awkward, gay kid (me).  While none of it really happened, if you knew these girls you’d get what I’m talking about.  They were always defending me against the bullies and would’ve totally pretended to sleep with me, had I ever asked.  But I was a really prudish kid, so I wouldn’t have.  But also, I didn’t go to high school – so, a lot of it was wish-fulfillment.  I write a lot of high school stuff and I think it’s just me trying to fantasize about what high school would’ve been like.

 

 

I am curious to know what you thought of the final product that was your words put to the big screen with Easy A? Was Emma Stone the type of actress you were thinking about whilst writing the story? On that note, our friend Juliette Goglia played Olive from 8th grade, so I guess the same could be asked for her, as well as the rest of the cast. Basically, how close were the characters portrayed to your original story?

Unlike a lot of feature screenwriters’ experiences, the director was very cool about letting me come and be a part of the whole process.  I’m really grateful for that.  We had a great time making Easy A.  With every take, we ALL couldn’t wait to see what Emma was gonna do.  She just killed it.  Every shot, every take.  It was breathtaking watching this young actress BECOME this character.  We all knew we were watching a star-in-the-making.  And what a cool thing to witness!  And Juliette was fantastic!  I remember Emma running up to me on set saying: “Okay.  I LOVE the girl who’s playing younger me.”  She was awesome.  The whole cast was.  It’s weird to have that kind of phenomenal cast for a teen movie.  I never dreamed when I was writing it that we would have REAL actors.  I think in my mind, the whole thing would be shot with sock puppets.

In doing a bit of research on your incredible career thus far, I discovered the existence of a very intriguing play that you wrote entitled Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. Would you mind telling our readers a bit about this play? And do you believe we will ever have the chance to see this play brought to film? Do you believe it would translate well? How would you want the film version to end up?

So, Dog Sees God was my first “thing.”  And it’s a really long story about how it all came to be – but I owe my entire career/life to that play.  I kinda wrote it as a joke.  It’s an unauthorized parody about the Peanuts in high school dealing with things that are way more intense than a shabby Christmas tree or getting no Valentine’s Day cards.  It’s been performed in all 50 states (that’s my big brag) and many countries around the world.  It’s my “baby.”  (Meaning that sometimes it makes me cringe, but I love it and never want to let it go.)  I’ve been trying for 15 years to get a film made, but people are a little scared of it – being that it’s an ‘unauthorized parody.’  It couldn’t really be a ‘studio film.’  It’s an indie.  And if anyone out there wants to fund it, we will gladly take your money and make the BEST TEEN MOVIE EVER.  Seriously, it could be amazing.  And I really do hope to one day see it happen.  But I also won’t let anyone make it without me at the helm.  It’s sweet though that – about three or four times a year – I get an email from some bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kid who did the play at their college and they’re convinced that they’re the right person to make the film version.  I get a lot of “I have a rich uncle and he said he’d pay for it.”  My response is always: “Okay, how rich is your uncle?  I need to see bank statements.”  Sigh…  One day…

 

 

Scrolling through your IMDb credits, I see you are listed as writing additional dialogue for the absolutely incredible Disney animated film Big Hero 6. I’m curious to know what sort of contributions you made to the film. Was it all the stuff that made me cry? If so, why would you do that to me (just kidding)?

I was GLORIOUSLY fired from Big Hero 6 by the Naked Emperor, John Lasseter, himself.  (I love that I can say that publicly now without gasps of disapproval.  He sucks. Really.)  SUPER sore subject – HYSTERICAL anecdote!  BUT if the scene that made you cry was Tadashi’s video on Baymax’s tummy, then YES.  I made you cry.  Because I’m pretty sure that was the only thing from my ‘nine months in hell’ that made it into the final movie.  I haven’t seen it.  I wasn’t invited to the premiere, despite being told as I was escorted out of the building that I would be.  I tried to watch it on an airplane, but after five minutes turned it off.  Can’t do it.

If you were handed, and given free-range to develop, the chance to write a biopic for any important figure in American history, who would you want to showcase?

This might be the best question ANYONE has EVER asked me.  And I stupidly don’t have an answer.  Is Rock Hudson an important figure in American history?  Probably not.  OOOO!  I know.  Stephen Sondheim.  I would love to write HIS story.  He’s my idol and he’s an important figure in American history and I would chop off several of my own body parts to write a movie about him.  I love and worship him in an unhealthy way.

What does the future hold for you? Anything coming up that you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m currently developing a lot of stuff.  Which means that you’ll probably get a chance to see something I wrote… in 2026.  Potentially fun stuff on the horizon, but a long way away.  Also, I need a job, soooo…  (I’m really good at manual labor…  But only the kind that requires no brain activity.)

What was the last thing that made you smile?

At the risk of sounding super corny, these questions made me smile.  I had a real shitfuck day and getting to talk about Dog Sees God, Easy A, and – okay – Big Hero 6 (to an extent) made me smile.  It made me remember why I got into this insane business in the first place.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll turn Slipping Into the Subconscious into a feature…?  Kidding.  It REALLY sucked.

Zak Toscani [Interview]

Hello Folks! We have an incredible interview for you all today, which actually happens to tie in with the interview we had go live on Wednesday with the great comedian Mike Mulloy. Today’s guest is another extremely talented stand up comedian and writer, the great Zak Toscani! Zak is one of the cofounders of the previously (and soon to be again) mentioned L.A. based stand up shows that I am dying to one day trek the 10,000 miles across and ocean and an entire country to one day check out that is known as Faded. He is also a frequent guest on the incredible podcast we all now and love known as All Fantasy Everything, which is hosted by Ian Karmel and our dear friends of the site, Sean Jordan and David Gborie. Zak has appeared on AFE numerous times, but if you were looking to get a quick glimpse into the (somewhat insane) mind of one Mr. Toscani, I can not recommend enough that you go back and listen to Episode 54 entitled “What To Do with a Billion Dollars”. Zak’s picks on this episode are absolutely incredible, and have been lodged in my brain since I heard it, almost 2 1/2 years ago.
Zak is also a terrific comedian who regularly performs in the Los Angeles area, as well as all across the country. He is an incredible human being with a so many wonderful stories to to tell the world. And we are so happy that he was able to carve some time out of his schedule to share a few words with us here today! If you are in the L.A. area, tonight is the night you should head to Blue Rooster Art Supply to check out what I feel like has to be the greatest comedy showcase of all time. The show happens every Friday, and you need to find your way there!
So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the even more incredible comedian that is the great Zak Toscani! Enjoy!
When did you first discover your passion for the world of stand up comedy? Was it something you that you always knew you wanted to do? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I cant claim to be a lifelong fan of stand-up comedy. A common story you’ll hear is a comic growing up watching stand-ups late at night with their parents. That wasn’t my experience. I was certainly aware of stand-up but my early affinity for comedy came from watching films with my family. My entire family introduced me to a wide variety of comedic heroes. It wasn’t planned or organized, but as it turns out a lot of my family found comedy to be a fundamental part of life. My mom always tells me “sometimes if you dont laugh, you’ll cry.”

My father and I watched a lot of Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and John Candy. My mother and I shared a love of Diane Keaton, Lily Tomlin, and Woody Allen. My stepdad blew my mind when he showed me Coming To America, Bull Durham, and Wrongfully Accused. And I have a distinct memory of actually pissing my pants laughing at Happy Gilmore with my Uncle David.

I never thought about stand-up until around senior year of high school. My best friend at the time John Walters, decided on a whim to start writing jokes and trying them out at the local comedy club’s open mic (Go Bananas – in Cincy). I was blown away, I had never considered that you could just START doing something like that. I believe thats a common trait amongst most of us, sometimes it takes someone trying to do something out of the ordinary to remove the mystery of it. I tried my best to help him write jokes, but neither of us knew what we were doing. After a few odd gigs he booked – including many places we needed to be chaperoned, since we were still underage – he hung it up and we continued being teenagers. But that short time did plant a seed within me, I can’t say for certain but I dont know that I would be performing right now if it wasnt for my friend John.

A few years later I was on a spiritual retreat that my older sister begged me to do with her at Ohio University. During the retreat, the chair was opened to any and all to talk about whatever. Eventually I worked up enough guts to sit in the chair and say some things that I thought were funny. I started with two Steven Wright jokes to set the tone and then talked about my sister and I. Not technically an actual stand-up set, and the fact that I did someone else’s jokes is not a great look. But, if nothing else it removed a little doubt inside of me and I was able to live in that fantasy of promise for a few years.

About 5 years later I was moving from Ohio to Portland. I desperately wanted out of Ohio and Cincinnati especially. Its a great town and a lot of friends still live there, but I felt stuck there. The most common question you’ll hear if you are from AND still live in Cincinnati is “what high school did you go to?” You feel as though you are locked in amber at 17, who you are then and there becomes your entire identity going forward.

I moved my sister to Oregon for law school and during the weekend met with a few friends who had been living in Portland for about a year. It only took a weekend for me to pull the trigger on moving to the PNW. No longer tethered to my high school, my subdivision, my city opened up all new possibilities for me. Around this time, a friend of mine from Ohio called me to tell me he started stand-up. After that call I went to the Helium Open Mic in Portland for 3 straight weeks and just watched the show. I can still remember seeing baby Ian Karmel, Sean Jordan, and Shane Torres each of those weeks. I saw people who seemed 1,000x’s funnier than me (aforementioned), saw some people I categorized as “around me”, and saw comics that I knew I was funnier than. Not the best way to view it, but when you dont know anything delusion is the only source of fuel you have. I eventually signed up, did 3 minutes which were are still are a complete blur. But a positive blur. I havent stopped since.

Photo by “Super Producer” Marissa (@marsmel), taken at Faded

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And was there anything thing taken from that experience that continues to influence your work to this day?

My first paid gig was a hosting gig. I was hosting for Don Frost’s headlining show at the Wooden Chicken in Gresham, OR that he would do annually. Shane Torres was the feature and the one who recommended me to Don. Either Shane saw something in me pretty early on, or he just needed someone with a car. It was a good sum of money at the time, $50.I can’t ever forget that night. It was the night of the then undefeated Oregon Ducks vs Stanford on the last game of the season. I don’t watch college sports but you couldn’t avoid knowing about the game, as the entire population of the Wooden Chicken were glued to the game. If Oregon wins they’ll play for the National Championship. They lose. They lose at the very end. The show starts immediately afterwards. No joke. Game hits 0 seconds, the tv’s are turned off, and there I am walking in front of what are for sure 150 pissed off people. I did know better than to ask “how we all doin tonight?” Anyways, I think they wanted to be nice so they were patient during my forever seeming ten-minutes-of-jokes-im-not-sure-were-jokes and then I introduced Shane. There was supposed to be a football collectables auction happening after the show, and I remember after a few minutes Shane spotted the auction items and started riffing on how bad they were, how everyone was getting swindled, and even started joking about the talent who had signed the items. They loved it, and they loved him instantly. He got the most out of those people in that situation. I’ll never forget it. I’m not often kind to myself, but one thing I will say is that I have always been happy that when I experience a moment like that, I make a note of it, and apply it to myself.

More than anything starting comedy in Portland, surrounded by the staggering amount of talented people all of whom seemed to not only have a strong self of self but also actively tried to make it a better community for the younger comics (myself). I tried to soak in all I could.

My first set (unpaid) was at Whitney Streed’s Weekly Reoccurring Comedy Night at the Tonic Lounge. It was the first show I had been booked on. Whitney always made it a point to give young comics their first shot at a show. I’ll always love Whitney for that. During my set, the power went off, and to my amazement I did not freeze or just go on telling my jokes like a broken teleprompter. I made a few self depricating remarks about the timing of the blackout before transitioning back to my prepared material. Not a monumental step I understand, but before you are in that kind of situation you don’t know how you will react. The first time I did a mic I honestly put my chances of fainting at 50%. So the fact I didnt panic and addressed the situation was my first indication that maybe I should be doing this. It’s something I would have never thought possible of myself.

Like some of your friends and our past guests here, Sean Jordan and Shane Torres, you made your way to my beloved homeland of the Pacific Northwest. Was the move prompted for comedy? What made you decide to make the move to PDX? And how was your experience working in the city during this time?

Portland will always be very dear to me. I have three hometowns, I was born and lived most of my life in Cincinnati, OH. I lived in Hawaii from about 5th grade to sophmore year of high school. And Portland was the first place I moved to on my own. It was the first place I performed at, my comedy hometown. I dont remember being scared or really that nervous. I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to see who I was and what I wanted to do.I started stand-up a few months later. Met people who would become my best friends. People I am certain I will know for the rest of my life. And because Portland isn’t LA or NYC I was able to really be patient with stand-up. I was relatively a late starter at 26, there were comics in the scene that started at like 15 (Phil Schallberger). There was a plethora of stage time thanks to the comics before me who helped create and cultivate the scene. There were at least two shows and a mic happening every night of the week. I was allowed to fail over and over again. The scene as a whole was so robust, no comic was the same, that kind of freed everyone up to be exactly the comic they wanted to be.

For the next 7 years I worked a day job at a law firm and lived stand up the rest of the time. It really transformed my life, like objectively, it will take over your life. When friends or family visited me in Portland, they’d ask “where should we eat?” “what should we see?” and I had to be honest and tell them that the only places I knew were venues where comedy happens or bars we go to after the comedy show. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The cult-like following that has developed around the hit podcast All Fantasy Everything is astonishing and wonderful, I have to say. And much like some previously mentioned guests and others (David Gborie, Amy Miller, Matt Braunger, etc.) you have engrained yourself into this world quite nicely. I heard you even received tennis gear back in Ohio? With that, I am curious to know what you believe it is about this show that has had such a great impact on you? What is different from this project from the plethora of podcasts that are out there?

All Fantasy Everything has been huge for me simply in that it gives me a much broader audience in which to showcase myself. I can never thank Ian, Sean, and David enough for that. Since the podcast started I have been recognized in public, which is still baffling to me. I’ve been able to sell out stand-up shows. And have been gifted tennis items which is maybe the coolest thing thats happened to me. The fans are amazing and so supportive.

I am not smart enough to be able to pinpoint all the reasons why AFE has made such an impact so quickly, but I have a few insights. Like any creative endeavor there is the order and the chaos. From the order perspective, the podcast’s theme of fantasy drafting anything and everything in life is such an amazing idea, just on paper its a home run. It’s an idea that as soon as you hear it you hate that you didnt think of it! I remember Ian talking about his idea for the podcast back when he lived in Portland. I’m sure the early incarnation would have been excellent as well, but that gets me to the chaos part. From the chaos perspective, the alchemy and chemistry that Ian, David, and Sean have together is undeniable and cant be replicated. Again I am speaking from someone on the inside. But, its a vibe and an energy that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s not just that they are friends, or that they hang out together, or are all great comics. It’s like the tri-force in Zelda, those pieces just fit perfectly. It’s been a joy and a pleasure to witness.

(L to R) Zak Toscani, David Gborie, Mike Mulloy, Sean Jordan. Photo by Ed Ballart, taken at Faded

I have closely followed your weekly show in L.A. known as Faded, sadly from a far. It sounds spectacular. For those of us who reside a bit too far, possibly with an entire ocean in between, what can you tell us about this show? What are we missing out on?

Faded is a weekly stand-up show I run along with David Gborie, Sean Jordan, and Mike Mulloy. It’s every Friday, 7:30pm at Blue Rooster Art Supplies in Los Angeles. I’ve known Sean since I moved to Portland. David and Mike are friends I made here in LA. We kind of all met during the time we were writing Ian’s Comedy Central pilot. Since that experience we always discussed working together. As we all performed around town, we kind of noticed the same thing. While there are great standup shows in LA there were also way more that were just kind of existing.

Not too belittle anyone else, but the way we saw it, if you’re going to start a show you have the responsibility to make it great. We didnt want another mic stand in the middle of a dive bar. We kept talking about it for months. Mike runs another show in LA called On Deck, which was previously at Meltdown Comics. Once that place closed, he was on the look for a new venue. On Deck eventually found a new home at Blue Rooster. It’s in a separate building out back from the arts store. Which was used primarily for painting classes and extra storage. It’s a giant open room, with a built in bar, a bathroom, and enough space for about 100 chairs. It was and is perfect. Before Mike even had the first On Deck there he had major plans for the space.

Shortly after Faded was born. We had a venue that would be completely ours for the duration of the show. We wouldn’t have to fight bar noise. No people wandering in accidentally. Everyone who would be there, would be there for comedy, nothing else. The possibilities of what the show could be or how it would look was endless.

We decided to stand ourselves and Faded out in a few ways. One, we would book mostly 15 minute spots. Usually in LA you’ll get around 7 minutes at most shows. Its not nothing, but we all felt like in a city plush with so many amazing voices why not give them more time?

Second, we all wouldn’t be doing spots on every show. The way we see it, Faded is for the other comics and the crowds. We of course host and do spots at times, but we didnt want to bog the show down with the same 4 people every week. Plus, no one would be able to turn over a new 15 minutes of material every week.

Third, we wanted to charge for the show. Not only because we pay rent each week for use of the space, but we didnt want to undervalue ourselves. $10 isn’t going to break the bank for anyone, especially in LA. And we’re of the belief that when audiences pay money to attend a show they in turn become more invested in the show. And thats been the case thus far with Faded. Because of the success of AFE and our reputations as comics we knew that we could get people in seats.

Fourth, we wanted to make it a fun fucking show. It’s not a mind blowing strategy. We wanted people leaving the show to be blown away. Not just at the comics, but the presentation and the thought put into every part. We’ve constantly experimented with almost every aspect of the venue and how we present the show. Every week we get better. We are constantly tweaking and not staying stagnant. I think – that- more than anything is the biggest reason for our success.

Since the first show in October we’ve been growing and growing. It’s truly been life changing for me. My experience in LA has been peaks and valleys, and I was truly getting a little lost in the ocean of life here. Having Faded every single Friday has been the highlight of my week and a place I can put my creative energy into. It’s so gratifying even on the weeks I am not doing a set.

If you find yourself in LA come visit us and see why we run the best show in town.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I have no idea what the future holds for me, Zak Toscani. I love stand-up as much as I ever have and I feel like it will always be part of my life. I think it’s made me a better person. In terms of goals, I’m hoping I get the chance to perform on Conan, I’ve been in the process of getting a set on the show and it’s exactly what I said a “process”. I’ve always wanted the first thing I do on TV to be standup. So it’s important to me to make that happen.

Although, to be perfectly honest with you it’s very rare a late night set will really change anything for your life as a comic these days. You may get a few more offers to headline comedy clubs, which is no small event, but mostly it’s more of a feather in your cap within the comedy/industry. It introduces you to the world, so to speak. And gives you a logo to put on show flyers.

The interesting thing is that I don’t think the industry/nor the comedy clubs have caught on that podcasts are kind of the new late night. I know very funny comics who have done handfuls of late night sets but still find trouble getting tickets sold, whereas, if you have/or in my case/ happen to be a guest on a podcast with a big following those listeners will buy tickets to come see you. It’s a very real thing and it makes sense.

Typically on late night your set is 5-7minutes and its heavily audited by the booker of said show. It’s an important process but ultimately you feel as though its maybe not a complete or full version of who you are as a comic. Usually the perceived flaws or imperfections in someones act that are ironed out by the late night submission process can leave the set feeling flat and too studied. For podcasts, its so much different. Listeners hear you for hours, being exactly who you are, and they feel connected. That’s why they’ll drive 5 hours to see you, to buy a shirt or a poster. They feel invested in your career.

I’ve got a few different irons in the fire. Been kicking around starting my own podcast. Currently the idea is to tell stories from my life ala The Tobolowski Files. Something well thought out, written, and produced. Though this idea keeps feeling like the best idea and the worst depending on the day.

I REALLY am trying to bridge some gap between tennis and comedy, even if that bridge can only fit myself. To my knowledge I am maybe the only comedian trying to insert myself in the tennis world, so I’m hoping the lack of competition works to my advantage. Whether its a show on The Tennis Channel or writing a project involving tennis, sure enough I’m going to try all avenues.
TV and movies would be a dream. Writing for both is something I’ve been working on and always keep bubbling in the back of my head. I try not to put too much pressure on myself and just focus on doing one good thing at a time.
What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was when I was writing about Faded. It sounds corny but I love what we’re doing and to be part of it is completely my pleasure.

 

Mike Mulloy [Interview]

 

Happy Wednesday Everyone! I’ll be damned if we don’t have a fantastic comedian to showcase today. This is a guy that I have admired from a far for quite some time, thanks to a string of events that have led me down a comedy rabbit hole over the last 5 years or so. It all started about 4 years ago when I discovered a little thing called a “podcast”, which has allowed a displaced American comedy fan the opportunity to listen to the modern philosophers of our era that are comedians, just talk about shit. Somewhere along the way, I discovered a brilliant comedian named Sean Jordan, who informed me on this very site about an up and coming podcast he was regularly appearing on entitled “All Fantasy Everything”….and it truly has rocked my fucking simple world since. And today’s guest is a man who is heavily engrained in this world that we should all know and love. It’s motherfuckin’ Mike Mulloy, Y’all!!

Mike is a salt of the earth, no holds barred comic with a brilliant outlook on everything imaginable. Often referred to as “enemy of the podcast”, both on and off mic over at “All Fantasy Everything”, it is his brilliantly abrasive and fuck it all comedic style that is so damn intriguing. And while the digital stain on humanity that Twitter probably isn’t the best product to judge someone’s talent within, I will say that if you are not following @fakemikemulloy on Twitter, you are missing the fuck out people. Mulloy’s take on anything you can imagine is destined to be hilarious, and one of the few reasons I continue to monitor the chaos that ensues on that damn website.

In more recent months, Mike Mulloy has teamed up with 3 other established members of the “All Family Everything” to create what sounds to be like the best comedy show in the Los Angeles area, which is called Faded. He created the show alongside the aforementioned Sean Jordan, fellow past guest David Gborie, and possible future guest Zak Toscani (and by possible, I mean definite. Like, this Friday). The show takes place at Blue Rooster Art Supply every Friday, and If I weren’t literally ten thousand miles away, I would be there every fucking weekend. The always have the best guests, including our dear friend and past guest Christi Chiello, and just a grip of comedians who I am dying to have on the site as well, including The Lucas Brothers, Bri Pruett, Kenny DeForest, Kyle Kinane, Roman Rivas II, Sam Jay, and literally dozens more. Seriously Folks, if you aren’t at Blue Rooster each and every Friday whilst living in the L.A. area, what the fuck is your problem?

Mulloy also has another damn fine and truly unique show entitled On Deck Comedy, which we will discuss in great detail below, which is insanely unique and a testament to the brilliant mind of Mike Mulloy. The show also occurs at Blue Rooster Art Supply, check out details HERE. Past guests have included hilarious folks like our very dear friends Amy Miller & Lydia Popovich, as well as wonderful comedians like Courtney Karwal, Rhea Butcher, Chris Cubas, Megain Gailey, and so many more! We will get into it!

So let’s get right into it, shall we? Please enjoy some wonderful words from the absolutely brilliant Mike Mulloy! Enjoy!

 

******

 

Photo by Ed Ballart. Taken at Faded.

 

When did you discover that you were a hilarious human being, and that you were destined to make people laugh for a living?

I’ve just always been someone who’s loved to laugh.  I think my love of comedy came more from liking to laugh than it did from making others laugh.  I love to make others laugh, but I also just like thinking about the things that make me laugh.  Just thinking about weird, dumb shit has always been something I’ve enjoyed.  That’s really the basis of all my comedy.  This made me laugh.  I hope it makes you laugh, but at the end of the day it makes me laugh.  When a joke or a premise stops making me laugh, I usually stop doing it because an audience can tell when you’re not having fun with a bit anymore.

Though I have not been fortunate enough to catch On Deck live, the concept of it seems hilarious, and you always seem to have very funny people appearing on the show. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea of this show? And for our readers who may be unaware, what exactly is On Deck Comedy?

Jamel Johnson, one of my cohosts, had just moved to LA and I really wanted to work with him.  He’s honestly one of the funniest mother fuckers on a planet and I can’t understand how the town isn’t all over his dick.  Sometimes spending so much time with him makes me forget how damn funny he is.  But when he got to town I just knew I had to come up with something for us to work on.  We were at my place just chilling and drinking and smoking and trying to come up with what our show was gonna be and On Deck was what came from it.  I couldn’t even explain the show when we first came up with it.  In fact, we barely knew what it was during our first show.  We almost bailed on the whole concept in the first show because the comics were confused, but luckily the first team was Dan St Germain, Debra DiGiovanni and Matt Donaher, all fantastic comics, who insisted they figure it out.  And they did.  They did and they killed it and then told me how much fun they had and I knew it was something we had to stick with.

Basically the show is two teams of three comedians, doing jokes for 27 minutes as a team (Like the 27 outs in baseball).  Each jokes we give a single, double, triple or home run (with the rare out, that’s only happened twice in the nearly 3 years we’ve been doing this) and the team with the most runs wins.  It’s silly and it’s fun and you get to see comics working together which a. you rarely see b. you’d rarely see the comics we group together working together.  It’s just fun and different.

When we set out to build the show, I wanted something different. I was on so many show cases where the host would bring me on and just leave the room.  My thinking was “how can you expect these people in the audience to give a shit about my set when you, the person who booked me, doesn’t even care?”  So I wanted to make something that forced me as the host to sit there and watch the comics I booked.  I wanted something where if the audience was ever in doubt about how they should be reacting to a joke, they can look to us at the table and see we’re laughing.  It’s really just about putting comics over and making them seem important.

I also know, but again haven’t had the privilege of witnessing in person as I am about 10,000 physical miles away from L.A., that you have another show features our friends, past guests David Gborie and Sean Jordan, as well as future guest Zak Toscani. Can you tell us a bit about this show and why anyone who lives in the Los Angeles area is a mark ass hater for not attending yet? What are they/we missing out on?

Honestly, I can’t even explain Faded, it’s just this wild positive vibe.  Stand up comedy can be scary as an audience member for someone that doesn’t attend shows regularly.  A lot of times people think the comics are gonna fuck with them and that’s really not what we’re going for.  We just want to put comics who we love in front of them and show they why we love them.  But the show is really becoming a hang out for so many people, comics and audience members alike.  There’s some weeks that we have comics come hang and I look in the back of the room and think “Shit, we have been comics just hanging out here than some other shows have booked tonight”.  We have people who come every week.  We have people who come to Faded one night and come to On Deck the very next night.  We have people who FLY IN just to experience Faded.  This show has existed for 17 weeks, that’s insane that people are that committed to it this early in the process, but it’s by design.  That’s exactly what we wanted to create.  Los Angeles is a scary place.  It’s really hard to make friends here that aren’t based around “what you’re here for”.  But in 17 weeks we’ve had people just coming and meeting up with the friends that they’ve made at the show which is really insane to think about.  We’re just trying to build a community.  The fact that I get to do it with my best friends is really a bonus.

 

Photo by TWS friend, John Michael Bond, taken at Faded.

Holy Shit, Folks. I am beyond excited to share

You have managed to engrain yourself in the very charismatic and cult-for-good-dudes podcast that happens to also feature the solid performers mentioned previously, David Gborie and Sean Jordan, that is known as All Fantasy Everything. This podcast introduced me to your comedic talents, and I’m sure others as well. With that in mind, I am curious to know what has been your favorite pick that you have made in your multiple appearances on the show?

Probably the “Create a movie one”, cuz it was the only one that I really prepared for and thought out thoroughly.  A cast of all black women and then Elton John as the villain caught people off guard but then it all made sense to them when I painted the whole picture.

While I know it is very cool to shit on the disease that is the website Twitter, I have to admit that it is because of folks like you that I keep coming back to it. You are definitely one of the best “Twitter Follows” I have ever encountered. And I am curious to know just how much effort you put into Tweets? And have you managed to have something from Twitter actually make it into your stand up? Or is it a completely separate animal? 

I’ve scaled back on Twitter considerably lately because I think it’s melting my brain some days, but a lot of times I’ll test a concept on there to see if what I think is funny is funny to anyone but me.  If something really clicks, then I might look into expanding on it in my stand up, but most of what I do on Twitter is just fucking with people. Whether it’s bad people who I think need to be brought down a peg or silly traps that I set for unsuspecting people to get caught in.  As dumb as Twitter is, I probably owe everything I have to it.  Ian found me on Twitter.  He really didn’t know me that well, we’d done one or two shows together, but when he was writing a sports comedy for Comedy Central, I was one of the people he reached out to because he liked my sports tweets.  Without that, who knows if I would have become as close with him, Sean, David and Zak, but I really don’t know what I’d be doing if I didn’t have those guys in my life now.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Honestly, who knows?  I think about my career a lot differently than I did when I was starting out, even differently than I did when I first got to LA.  I spend less time thinking about how to get into doors and more time focusing on just building my own thing.  The things I’m given can be taken away, the things I build myself really can’t. So I don’t really want to be at the mercy of the decision makers in this business, because most of them don’t know their asshole from a hole in the ground. I’m gonna build my own audience and figure out how I can deliver things to them myself instead of finding someone else to give me a platform to their audience.  My audience really does a lot of the work for me, because most of them have been watching me do this shit for a while and they want to see me succeed.  If I just grow my base, I’ll be fine.

Nothing really to plug, just Faded and On Deck.  Keep an eye on the Blue Rooster as a whole because I’m basically turning that into my own personal comedy club house.  We did a live All Fantasy Everything there this weekend, sold out in under a day and was just an amazing experience.  Really hoping we do some more of those and bring some other fun shows into the space.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’ve pretty much been smiling all weekend.  It’s really cool seeing something you created is turning into the vision you first had for it.  I feel pretty unstoppable at the moment and that feeling makes it hard not to.  Just knowing that it makes my enemies sick helps too.

 

 

 

Raynold Gideon [Interview]

This is Kandi & Bear. They allow today’s guest to live with them. They are much younger and a whole lot better looking than Raynold Gideon, according to today’s guest. We cannot confirm this, but would probably guess it to be true based on the adorableness of Kandi and Bear.

 

Welcome back Folks to another very exciting week here at Trainwreck’d Society. In fact, this is a week that I am EXTREMELY excited for, for so many reasons. Sometimes it is so much fun to know the line up before it comes out. It’s the little things, I guess. Today’s guest is an absolute genius storyteller, to say the least. It’s Raynold Gideon, Everyone!

Raynold Gideon is a man who has a wealth of experience in the world of film and television as a writer, producer, actor, and more. For over 50 years, this man has been on a mission (whether he knew, or believes it, or not) to put out some wonderful work. He has received two well deserved Oscar nominations (both projects will be discussed in the text below, as you know we have an unhealthy and unreasonable love for these “awards”). Along with his long time writing partner Bruce A. Evans, penned what can only be referred to as the single greatest coming-of-age films of all time when they adapted, and dare I say bettered, the Stephen King story that would become the film Stand By Me.

Stand By Me is a god damned classic. We all know this. But, when the chance to share some words from the great Raynold Gideon came to fruition, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite stand up comedians and podcasters out there, Daniel Van Kirk, who I have heard, on more than a dozen occasions, say that Stand By Me remains his favorite film of all time. So I thought, why not see if he had anything he would like to ask Raynold about the film. And lo and behold, we managed to steal a few moments from Daniel to throw a question together for Raynold in order to join in on the fun. So just a delightful bonus to throw out there for you all. Thank you so much to Daniel Van Kirk for helping us out today!

So Folks, please enjoy this incredible interview we have for you all with the amazingly talented human being that is Raynold Gideon. He is a brilliant writer, the roommate of some very beautiful canines, and just an all around delightful human being. We talk about his coming up in the business, his long term partnerships, the disrespectfulness of Disney, and of course, the glorious film that is Stand By Me. Enjoy!

 

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What was it that initially that made you want to get into the world of writing and producing films? I understand that you initially entered the world of entertainment as an actor. What prompted you to make that shift?

Getting into writing was a total accident. A friend needed an idea for a short film. He was a theatre director and wanted to show he could direct film. I sat down one morning and sketched out what I thought would be a fun short. Other than dissertations at University I’d never written anything before. The director liked what I had written. I said he could have it if I played the lead, he said you can play the lead if you put up half the money to make the film, I did, we shot it and got an Academy Award nomination. It was called Frog Story. The actress we cast was dating Bruce Evans at that time and that’s how I met Bruce. Some months later Bruce and I wrote a short film together, we shot it, it was called James Sloan Private Eye. Bruce and I got along and said why not try to write a feature script together, we did and have been writing ever since.

 

How did you manage to team up with your writing partner of 40+ years, Bruce A. Evans? And what do you believe it is about you both as team that has worked so well in regards to bringing some wonderful stories to the big screen?

I somewhat answered this as part of the first question. Bruce and I like the same kind of movies, we’re good friends and we’ve had some success as a team. Why fix what’s not broken.

 

 Several of the projects that you have worked on have been adaptations from previous works, and many have been original scripts. I am curious to know which form of writing that geniuses of their craft such as yourself prefer. So, do you have any preference between the two? And which do you tend to find the most challenging?

Adaptations are a bit easier because you have the idea, the story. Originals are blank page time and a lot of ‘what if’s?’ We’ve mostly done originals. A Man A Woman and a Bank, Starman, Kuffs, Made in Heaven, Mr. Brooks

 

 

One very specific project that meant a lot to me as a child growing up in the 90’s that you wrote was the 1997 fish out of water tale Jungle 2 Jungle. As a 12 year old kid at the time, this Americanized remake of a 1994 French film was very special to me, and I still enjoy it to this day, if not only for nostalgic reasons. I am very curious to know what drew you to this project? What made you want to bring this story to American audiences?

Disney. We got a call from an executive at Disney. Would we be interested? We screened the film, loved it, said yes, and then were told we have Tim Allen, don’t lose him. So we wrote the script, we didn’t lose Tim, he loved our script. We were invited to a special afternoon Premiere, and everyone, cast, crew executives, all had reserved seats, we the writers did not, did not have a seat anywhere. To apologize, next day the executive sent us a case of ok wine.

 

A question from the wonderful & acclaimed comedian Daniel Van Kirk (Dumb People Town, Pen Pals podcasts): Throughout the 30+ years since the release of Stand By Me, what storyline, character trait, or moment in the film seems to still resonate the most with audiences?

Innocence. It was the age before those kids discovered girls, and rubbers and all that. It was an “Ah to be that free and happy again; also it was a terrific adventure for kids and for the young girls who came to the film again and again, it was “I always wanted to know what my brother was doing in that tree house with his friends”. Also everybody seems to remember Gordie to Ace…“Suck my fat one you cheap dime store hood’.

 

 

After so many years in the world of storytelling, I am curious to know what you believe to be your most prized accomplishment in the business? Not necessarily one singular project (could be though, if you so choose), but when you look back on your decades spanning career, what would you say you are most proud of? 

Stand By Me. Stand By Me. Stand By Me. Rob Reiner captured the innocence, the adventure, the humor of our script and I believe we captured the essence of Stephen King’s novella.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

We have three projects that we like Sisyphus are pushing that rock up the hill to potential green lights.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Sunrise this morning at Runyon Canyon.

 

And for a clip of one of the greatest scenes in American cinema: