Brooklyn comedy troupe skewers Hollywood whitewashing in their new Christian Bale epic parody "Slavery"
Today's the big day: the 87th annual Academy Awards. Perfect timing to share this Oscars® "For Your Consideration" video for Christian Bale's latest historical epic Slavery. According to Brooklyn-based sketch comedy troupe The Shorts Show, nobody but the mighty Welshman could properly tell the story of this tragic period in American history. Spoiler Alert: Bale is a slave.
The Art of Brooklyn asked The Shorts Show's creator Corey Scott Rutledge and director/writer/editor Nick Snow about making comedy videos, working as a team and why whitewashing in movies needs to be called out and mocked whenever possible. Read on for the interview and video!
How did the Shorts Show get started? Was it a conscious career move from the beginning, or just a way to gain experience? And who are your comedy heroes?
Nick: My biggest comedy influence has probably been The Simpsons. I watched that show religiously when I was younger and I think that sense of humor just solidified into my brain. The early seasons had this perfect mix of cynicism and silliness, where they would use extremely
clever exaggerations to point out how ridiculous certain real life things were. Other big comedy heroes for me are Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld/Larry David and Trey Parker/Matt Stone.
Corey: The Show began when I was fresh out of film/acting school at the beginning of 2010. It was an alternate path and career decision because I wanted to have larger creative input on projects and knew so many great people who shared similar tastes. The experience that came along with it over the last 5+ years has been invaluable and has given us some amazing press along the way. I also share Nick's inspirations in addition to Monty Python and Tim and Eric.
You call yourselves Brooklyn’s Worst, which is a very bold claim. How has being a part of Brooklyn’s indie filmmaking scene affected/inspired/nurtured your group?
Nick: The Brooklyn filmmaking community is a lot smaller than people think, so there's a real familial attitude amongst people. So many of us just want to make good content, so when you bring them a project that seems worthwhile, it's easy to get people excited to join. That's the only reason our bigger videos like this one are even possible. And yeah, it definitely helps with creative inspiration when you are always hanging out with other people of the same mind. Ideas easily start flowing.
Corey: I agree, The "Worst" in our name is primarily because we're still relatively unknown to a lot of the larger markets. I sort of just tagged that on one day because I was tired of answering "why don't you have a million subscribers?" Well, we must not know what we're doing.
Your creative output is impressive, especially considering how many sketch groups drift apart after their first few projects. How big is your group and how do keep everyone motivated and collaborating?
Corey: Our group is probably 20-30 "core" people with another 30 + actors and collaborators/ contacts who know us or who have helped us out in some regard. I like to think people stay motivated and collaborating with us because they have seen how ambitious we are and that we are doing this purely as a passion and not for monetary gain...yet? Plus we all have a really swell time together. If you ever had a KiKi with us, you'd understand. Next question.
Let’s talk about the videos. They’ve been getting a lot of attention online… do you brainstorm topics as a group that you think might go viral? Or do you pitch each other ideas?
Nick: It's kind of a combination of both. We try to keep our eyes open for hot topics and social trends. They get more attention and they're usually the things that most need criticizing. So when we find a good topic, we'll pitch ideas to each other and then go back and forth trying to sharpen it. It's always better to have more development time, but sometimes we have to put everything together very quickly because of how fast these things can become irrelevant.
Corey: What Nick said, in addition to texting each other at late hours with the next big idea. I can't tell you how many ideas have never made it to the drawing board. It's a constant filtering of possibilities.
You’ve just unveiled an “Oscar-consideration” parody for a film called “Slavery” starring Christian Bale. We could be wrong, but we sensed an incredibly subtle satirical undertone to this piece. Yet it could also be a real film. So which is it?
Nick: It almost could be a real film, that's what's so scary. There's this really disappointing trend in Hollywood to disregard a character's race, which is a huge part of their identity, and just cast a white person. It's especially dangerous for historical films because it really creates a false perception in people's minds about how these things happened. So with the sketch, we just wanted to show the logical extension of that idea.
Corey: I didn't act in negative twenty degree weather in the middle of a frozen field to have my performance called "Satirical!" - Christian Bale. But yeah, it's pretty funny to imagine how far it could go if it was never addressed. What's next? Meryl Streep as Rosa Parks? (I'd still pay to see that)
What do you see as the ultimate goal for The Shorts Show? As something like the Lonely Island, where you would write and produce video content for a show like SNL, or do you see it more as a showcase for your talents to the industry? Or a third mysterious thing?
Nick: I would love it if the Shorts Show could be a full time thing, either online or TV. We're doing everything out of pocket and favors, so if we had an actual budget and resources at our disposal, we could make amazing material.
Corey: Later this year we're planning on pitching a series idea that incorporates our style of humor and pacing into a more narrative type project... That is unless SNL decides to bring us in out of the bullpen.... We've also just recently started an LA branch of the Shorts Show with some former Brooklyn alum. We have a lot of big ideas this year and are excited to see what develops.
Learn all about The Shorts Show on their website.
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