Friday, April 15, 2011

Boston Comedy Interview: Sam Brown On the Whitest Kids U'Know Final Seaon

Sam Brown from Whitest
Kids U'Know
Tonight on IFC, The Whitest Kids U’Know begins its fifth and final season as a TV sketch group entity. They will remain a loose group working together, but there are too many outside projects and concerns tugging at the five individual members to keep it going. As Sandwich native Sam Brown told me, it’s hard to keep a sketch show fresh, and it’s time to move on. The Kids did manage to sneak a full-length movie into the show, called The Civil War On Drugs, a portion of which will end each episode. They’ll be screening that on its own Monday in LA at the Steve Allen Theater.

Brown’s comedy career started in Sandwich at the local cable access channel, where he was part of a show called TV Galactica. He met the other Kids in college in New York, where the troupe started and went through various permutations before settling with Brown, Trevor Moore, Zach Cregger, Darren Trumeter, and Timmy Williams. For a little more about them, read my profile here or see my video interview with Brown after the Kids’ 2009 show at Great Scott.

I spoke with Brown by e-mail about the new season and what’s next.  

How did you decide this will be the final season of Whitest Kids?

It was a lot of stuff. My whole thing is when writing sketch you are constantly coming up with funny ideas that get shot down because there's an SNL sketch you never saw that’s like it, or a Kids in the Hall sketch, or a State sketch, etc. I think this is something that happens to anyone writing a lot of sketch. Well after doing five seasons and over a hundred sketches a season I started to notice I was having more and more sketches shot down because we already did a sketch like that.  I think we were successful at keeping it fresh up till now so it’s good that we didn't push it too far.

Is the group staying together to work on other project, like feature films or touring?

Think of it like what Jackass did where they stopped doing a show on MTV. They still went on and did their own TV shows that involved each other and every few years they would get together and do a movie.  

How hard has it been to keep doing the show given everyone’s individual schedules?

It’s tough and its only getting tougher. Now Trevor has his Fox show [Breaking In], we all live in three different cities and Timmy has kid on the way.  Scheduling is the reason we haven't toured more.

Will you be screening The Civil War On Drugs as a complete film anywhere else besides LA?

Hopefully we will. I'm really happy with how it came out and my ideal outcome is that ten years down the line the Civil War on Drugs is seen as its own thing. 

Was Civil War written to be broken up at the end of a series of episodes, or was it meant to be a feature film?

The Civil War on Drugs was an idea we came up with a long time ago for a movie. Way before we had a TV show even.  At the time a lot of people told us that it would be hard to get a studio to pay for you to make a civil war pot comedy.  That’s one of the things that made the it the perfect story to make into a movie within the show. We're making the movie that people told us we couldn't. For that I think it was important to write it all as a movie and worry about cutting it up into segments later. I've watched it as segments though and think it’s successful as both. We'll see though. Maybe we're just stubborn. 

Did you approach this season any differently since it’s the last?

A little. I mean we weren't 100% sure that it would be the last season while we were in production but we were conscious of the fact that it could be. I think the only real difference it made was when writing the Civil War on Drugs. We knew we wanted it to end the season, so when we got to the ending it made a difference that it wasn't only the end of the movie but possibly the end of the series. As that, I think it works.

Have you been performing frequently on your own as a stand-up?

I actually had to make a new years resolution to start doing stand-up again. I had been doing it for about five years now but when I moved to LA a year ago, I got lazy and didn't end up really doing it out here at all until recently. It's been good though, I didn't realize how much I missed it.

Has the transition to stand-up been difficult? Some people seem to think you can use some of the same disciplines as sketch, but some see them as completely different.

Stand up is a lot scarier for me because in a sketch group you have other people to laugh at the jokes before you perform it live. You don't know exactly how they'll do but you definitely have a sense.  With stand up you don't really have any idea how your jokes will work till you tell them in front of an audience for the first time.  There's been times where I've said something I thought would be great and it'd flop and there have been times when I've told a joke that I was certain would fail and it would get a huge laugh. That's also part of stand ups charm to me. You never know.  All that being said, there have been times where I've flopped at both and at least at sketch I've had four other people commiserate with.

What other shows are you producing?

Trevor and I are in the early stages of writing something for a network.  So early that I think it'd be jumping the gun if we started to talk about it.

Are there any videos floating around from TV Galactica?

I think there is an outside chance that at the Sandwich Cable Access Television station there is a 3/4" tape cassette that they no longer have the decks for, collecting dust in a dark corner. My mom is friends with the manager there so I was able to give it a quick look but no luck.  I bet one day if I get famous the tape will surface. That's what I'm working towards.

Any plans to perform in Boston, either as a group or just yourself, doing stand-up?

I'm sure when we do a tour we'll play Boston.  That’s where all my friends and family are.  Plus that show at Great Scott's was one the more memorable ones on the last tour. Now that I’m thinking about it, it was after that show we went to the Middlesex Lounge where my brother works and about fifteen minutes before the bar was closing they set up the mic and Timmy and I did an impromptu stand-up show. There was hardly anyone there and I could barely stand I was so drunk but I got some jokes off and made some people laugh. That was what eventually started a series of monthly stand-up shows I did there with Boston comedian Rob Crean. Maybe next time I'm going home we'll set up another one of those.


Comedy said...

I like your interview.
Keep rocking in the Stand up comedy Shows.
Comedy Tickets NYC

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