Two of Austin's funniest take relationship to next level in Web series
For the past few years, Bryan Gutmann and Doug Mellard have been two of the biggest comics in Austin. Both won the Funniest Person in Austin contest within a year of each other (in 2007 and 2006, respectively), and each has appeared on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham."
And although the two came up through the ranks together, they have very different styles of humor — Gutmann is a calm observationalist, while Mellard is a high-energy crowd-destroyer.
What would happen if you mix the two together? They're about to find out.
The pair have embarked on a new creative venture — a web series called "Making It." In the series, both guys get dumped by their significant others and move in together. Their goal? Find a wacky neighbor and turn their lives into a sitcom.
The American-Statesman talked to Gutmann about the upcoming series, which will be playing soon at a YouTube near you.
American-Statesman: What prompted you guys to create this series?
Bryan Gutmann: It was an idea I had for a sitcom, and a lot of times I would text Doug ideas I had. Mostly it was to make sure I wouldn't forget what I thought of. And also because Doug's one of the comics I enjoy bouncing ideas off of. So I sent him a really quick rundown of what I thought the show could be and he was immediately into the idea. The ideas for plot lines and characters and whatnot came about pretty quickly.
And then at some point, Doug had the idea of trying to make the thing ourselves. We've heard more than once that, these days, it's good to have as much material online as you can. So that's the idea — get this thing out there in some form or another and see what people think.
I notice that the plot revolves around two guys who have broken up with their significant others and move in together. Is living in a state of suspended adolescence the goal of every comic?
To a degree, I would say it is. No matter how business-oriented, how professional, how goal-driven the comic is they still get to tell jokes for a living. You could watch a comic do an hour of political, religious, philosophical material and in the end, that guy got away with doing one hour of work that day. It's totally a way of beating the system.
Have you guys collaborated on a lot of stuff together? I remember you and Eric Krug did the 'Two Guys in a Car' series, and you and Doug did the Scooby Doo spoof.
How dare you. For your information, the series was called "Two Dudes" and it was a huge success (with our friend Martha).
OK, back to business. Yes, Doug and I worked together on a fair amount of stuff. He and Eric are the two comics that have been the easiest to work with. I really enjoyed making the "Two Dudes" videos, which really just originated from the fact that Eric and I have a very natural back-and-forth that would create some entertaining conversation — enough so that I thought we should just videotape ourselves talking to each other and make it into a series. Then I figured out that it was funny to make the videos as trailers. It was funny because every video would start with, "On the next episode of 'Two Dudes'" But there was never an episode. It was like a sitcom (that) only existed in commercials. We were going to turn it into a podcast, but Eric moved, so that's on hold.
As far as Doug and I, we've worked together in a variety of ways. We've helped each other with jokes, we've booked shows together, made short videos and recently have gotten into writing scripts. It's funny that Doug and I get along so well as friends and coworkers, because I feel like I'm a pretty mild-mannered guy, and Doug is crazy. In a great way. But you listen to the stories he has and then wonder why he's hanging out with a guy who mixes things up by getting "Double Stuf" instead of original Oreos. But we really like each other's comedy and have fun coming up with ideas together. It's a good combination for writing, because I'm more observational, and Doug pulls from a more random place. We did that Scooby Doo video, which was originally something I wrote as a bit to do in my stand-up, and Doug thought we could turn it into a short. That was fun. Our friend Matt Willis really stole the show in that thing. But like I said, now our projects revolve more around scripts.
How many episodes have you shot? What's the end goal with this series?
We've shot two episodes. In their entirety, they'll be about 30-minute episodes apiece. There are a couple scenes that need to be done, but overall it's on tape. I have a small ongoing list of other episode plots that could be follow-up episodes, but I don't know what I think about continuing to film them exclusively on our own.
To be perfectly honest, in regards to what the end goal is for this show, it's an idea that I really believe in. I like the idea; I think it's pretty clever. The characters are entertaining and interesting, and I think there's enough to work with to keep it going as a series. I'd like to shop it around someday and try to get it picked up. There are definitely some scenes that had to be modified when Doug and I filmed them, and I'd like to see everything done exactly as I had imagined it.
Doug has moved to LA, right? How are you guys going to make this long-distance thing work?
Doug has indeed moved to LA. But we're making it work — we've promised to call each other every night. Fortunately we filmed most of the series before he moved, and as far as writing goes it's still pretty easy with e-mail and Skype and tools like that.
Has YouTube become an important platform for comedy? I remember hearing John Ramsey say that he's gotten just as much work off his Ramsey Bros. Films as he has with his standup.
It's definitely a good tool to have. Aside from having your own website, it's one of the better sites to utilize. Twitter and Facebook and things like that are OK, but you want to make sure there's a place where anyone can go and at least get an idea of some of your work. I've gotten gigs in similar ways, just people seeing videos of me online; so it is a good idea.