We do other stuff, too.

I know what you’re thinking – “Jeff, Larry, you two are so selfless for giving so much of your time to Franks and Beans.  Frankly, I don’t see how either of you have any time to do things like eat, travel, work, raise a family, learn to play the harmonica, garden, launder, solder, frolic, drill, sing, or do any of the things many people find necessary.”  Well, you’re not far off – I still don’t know how to play the harmonica, but maybe one day.  My point is, even though Larry and I are magnanimous in gifting the universe the Internet comedy show Franks and Beans, we still manage to do other things as well.  And if you, terrific Internet viewer, can enjoy some of those things as well, provided that you can find your own time away from watching our videos and looking at adorable pictures of cats.

Larry, for example, is probably the biggest Dukes of Hazzard fan in the world.  He’s got a collection that would either amaze or sicken the average person, and now he’s got a website with which he can show off his collection and connect with other collectors across the world.  But what in the world would he call this website?  That in itself is a mystery.

Except that it’s called this: DukesCollector.com.  There’s also a message board where fans can chat.

For myself, I have been known to write some things, and every so often some people read them.  I’ve got a comic book out titled Teddy and the Yeti, but more importantly, I’ve got a website where anyone can go and spend…oh, just hours (and also money).  I also have a second blog, one that’s associated with my comic book work and random musings, that you can find here: http://teddyandtheyeti.blogspot.com/.

If anyone just stumbled upon this Franks and Beans website and isn’t simply here because you were forced to visit by Larry or me, and you’d like to check out some of our other stuff, well, there you go.  It’s like a gateway drug without all of the chemical dependance.

…I think I might make that last phrase our new website slogan.

Blog 04 – The Gift

I’m sure that many (thousands of you) are wondering: was it just a coincidence that “The Gift” was posted right before Christmas?  Or was it a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE?!?

Here’s hoping that Larry reads this and scans in the “Free Car Wash!” coupon from this episode.  If he does, I will post it on this blog for all to see, use, and make insider cultural references to over the next few decades.

Originally posted 08.11.08

Franks and Beans episode four, “The Gift,” features a Christmas theme for several reasons.  First, the practical: this episode was shot over the first few days of 2008, when the season was still lingering and, well, the background props were still up and festive-looking.  Second, the subversive: every television show or piece of popular culture manages at least one commentary on the holiday within its existence.

If you don’t believe me, think back to any medium-to-long-running sitcom you’ve enjoyed in the past, say 10 years.  I’ll bet dollars to donuts (I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO USE THAT PHRASE!!) that there was at least one painful Christmas themed episode in the lot, and I’ll bet that the episode in question was then replayed every single year afterwards as long as the show was on the air.  Heck, the first episode of The Simpsons WAS a Christmas special!  Not wanting to be left out in the cold on this obvious inane tradition, and having the forethought to use the props that were available at the time, “The Gift” was born.

I find that there are probably three main categories for Christmas episodes when it comes to television shows.  There’s the first category, the “all-ages” Christmas episode, where the existence of Santa Claus is debated.  I understand (somewhat) the desire to sidestep any meaningful conversation on the season and the religious implications that it has, but shows that fall under this category tend to make my brain slowly bleed until my eyes become that jolly shade of red.  The parent figure(s) in shows of this breed will always be staunch in their approach: “oh kids, it’s about time you realize that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.”  But at the end of the episode, there’s always the sound of sleigh bells on the roof or magical presents appearing out of nowhere, proving without a doubt to everyone that there IS in fact a real, breathing Santa.  Gasp!

Here’s what I don’t get about shows like this – they’ve just made a fantastic discovery – one that changes the entire makeup of reality within their fictional universe.  If Santa Claus is actually real, what else might be true?  To me, this should start a bold new direction for any show that takes this position.  The subsequent episodes should be filled with town hall meetings, trips to the White House, and finally, a last-ditch effort to journey to the North Pole with weapons and ultimatums.  I mean, you’ve just proven the existence of a creature who can break the laws of physics – what else does this world have in store?  But NO!  Next episode, there all back to their mundane “Boy, men and women sure do have a lot of differences!  I hope we can work them out and remain a dysfunctional yet supportive family!”  What a load of crap.

The second category uses the same theme, albeit in a more adult (read: dramatic) fashion.  These dramas are too serious to debate the existence of Santa and his elves, so they’ll usually move on to the entirely new debate of “what is the meaning of Christmas?”  This usually takes form when one character – a depressed, brooding type – refuses to go to the office party, instead staying home to drink.  See how dramatic this is?  Other friends and colleagues will try to console the character, who will eventually reveal a traumatic childhood experience that colors his or her views of the holiday and all that it means.  “I was five years old when I first realized that my father molested all of the Salvation Army bell ringers…and then…he touched ME, too!  WHY, CHRISTMAS, WHY?!”

The third category, and we can all be thankful for this last solace, represents the Christmas episode parody, where both of the two previous themes are mocked in a way befitting the medium.  The Venture Bros. have done an excellent job at this, as have a few others.  I’m not about to say that Franks and Beans has done comparably in its attempt to squeeze into this category of self awareness, but the attempt is, if nothing else, a lob-toss try to keep us safely away from the previous two choices.

In other words, there are two jokes within this one episode.  First, there’s the obvious “I got you a book” line, but second, there’s the nod to the theme of Christmas episodes in general.

Let’s break down this episode, shall we?  As good or as bad as the writing is, this episode would never have seen the light of day if Larry couldn’t edit as well as he so obviously can.  My lips are clearly not moving throughout the episode, so it’s apparent that we went with the voice over shot.  This isn’t necessarily very tricky to pull off, but I went about it the absolute wrong way in preparing the shots.  Basically, we filmed me scribbling while someone else (a background appearance of the character known as “Larry’s Mom”) read the hastily prepared script.  I then read, for the camera, my script and hoped it would all sync up with some form of magic.  I don’t know why, but I just assumed it would work.  Of course, it is always stupid to assume that timing between two different people – without any practice, mind you – will work itself out.  It won’t.  But Larry makes it look perfect, and my hat is off to him for this (there’s a joke somewhere in this last sentence…).

Does the joke work (the overall idea of the episode, that is)?  I don’t know.  I certainly hope so, but I suppose it’s not as obvious as, say, Larry without a shirt as in “The Change” (always a favorite).  Here’s what I was thinking when I came up with this basic idea: I’m deep in thought, pontificating on the true meaning of friendship, realizing that buying an endless stream of gifts is not the way to show that you really appreciate someone.  I’m bearing my soul, at least to a small extent, in hopes that someone I care about (though obviously in a non-sexual way.  That part was obvious.  Of course it was.  Right?) will realize that I really do value the things that we share.  And then in lumbers Larry with a clunky, one-line answer and a clunky, no-thought gift, showing the opposite of the two extremes.  This is perhaps more subtle than some may be expecting, especially after watching some of our other hit-you-in-the-face-with-a-shovel-it’s-so-obvious episodes, but I really do hope that it could be appreciated.  I guess we’ll see.

The reference to the David Hasselhoff super racetrack whatever was brought out of thin air, and no such device exists in the real world.  This is a shame.  The coupon for the free car wash, however, does exist, and it’s terrible that it’s not more visible on the screen when I unfold the piece of paper.  A mixture of clipart and permanent markers, I actually did promise to wash Larry’s car, but he has kindly not pressed the issue as much as, say, I might have.  The inclusion of the penny was also a last-minute addition, but one that works in the overall context of the episode, I think.

The book that Larry so malevolently tosses at me is World War Z, a zombie tale that I have yet to read.  So take that, thoughtless gift.  But Larry is a fan.

Blog 03 – The Change

Originally posted 11.02.08

I know that times are tough.  The economy is in the tank, the doldrums of winter are fast approaching, and chances are that you’re alone and nobody loves you.  Oh, and Franks and Beans has been conspicuously absent from your Internet-viewing lineup for what seems like years.  But you’re strong – you can take a little hardship.  Just like in Communist Russia, you’ll wait out this long dry spell, huddling under blankets in your small, one-room house with only your picture of Joseph Stalin to keep you company and offer what consolation he can.

Just like a squirrel scavenging over the icy tundra, you’ll gleefully take a quick snack if you can get it – in this case, the squirrel is you and the tasty acorn is an impromptu blog about our surprisingly well loved and remembered third episode, “The Change”.

This episode is something of an anomaly not in the fact that it tells basically one single joke or that it employs a relatively simple storytelling style, but in that I never expected the overwhelmingly positive response it got from anyone who decided to tell Larry or me their thoughts.  I can usually gauge the type of reaction a particular episode will get while we’re still shooting – it’s not that I don’t like “The Change” (I do, by the way), but to me the whole thing plays out in a very straightforward manner.  You probably get the joke after Larry gets out of his beloved Jeep and walks inside, and that’s…what?  Ten seconds into it?  Naturally, the timing of the joke plays a part in it – the long pause between Larry sitting down and me finally saying a line of dialogue is, I think, funnier than the actual dialogue, but what people seemed to enjoy more than anything was the fact that Larry had a different outfit on in basically every shot.

And really, I just don’t get it.  I mean, something like this might be cute to, say, someone’s aunt or people who enjoyed naming all of the animals running across the screen in “Jumanji”, but is there really any inherent humor in the fact that Larry is wearing something different?  It leads up to the joke, yes, but are the clothes by themselves funny?  I guess they are, because people loved that part of it.  And you know what?  If that’s what gets them to laugh at one of our episodes, then so be it.  I’m just happy that people had an opinion.

This episode also highlights Larry’s incessant need to add some aspect of product placement into random scenes of Franks and Beans.  Larry the person is a big fan of lots of different properties.  This influences Larry the character to toss aspect of those properties into episodes for everyone to see.  I can understand the urge – in the first episode I wore my Thing “You Rock!” shirt and in “Mustache” I can be seen holding an issue of the Fantastic Four comic, but Larry does it with much more gusto than I could hope to.  Larry’s Rocky shorts (I believe these came with a box set of DVDs) made me cringe when he showed up in them for one of the shots, but again, people loved the cameo.  Was it funny?  Apparently so!

What I found funniest about this episode – so funny that we took the concept and turned it into a whole episode – was the sight of Larry without a shirt on.  I don’t know what it is that I find so amusing…perhaps Larry’s nipples is what gets me chuckling?  But regardless, seeing Larry with his mail (yet another aspect that unexpectedly finds its way into subsequent episodes) and nothing else always makes me laugh.  The future episode I’m referring to is, of course, “iChat”, where I took the concept further to (as far as anyone can tell) complete nudity.

Keeping with the wardrobe theme, you may notice that I’m wearing my faithful Pirates hat while sitting quietly on the chair.  This was obviously before I had decided to wear the hat only on the episodes in which Larry and I speak directly to the camera, so this is a little piece of continuity that doesn’t necessarily line up with the rest of the show. (What the hell am I rambling on about?!)

To be honest, we tell a lot of jokes on Franks and Beans that are purely physical, and this episode is a good representation of that, from the shirtless Larry to the Rocky shorts to the strangely alluring Hawaiian shirt Larry sports on our “No!” ending.  For whatever reason, it seems to resonate with our audience on some level, and I’ll take that whenever I can get it.  For a 90-second episode, our third feature was, I think, pretty straightforward.

This isn’t the only mustache blog out there.

Friend of the show Eric Ross has a new blog that boasts a subject near and dear to the hearts of all true Franks and Beans fans (note: if you are reading this blog, you are a true fan): “The Good the Bad and the Upkeep” is all about mustaches, for the mustache minded.  The layout is simple, but the content, engrossing.  Check it out, every single day of your lives, for mustache tips and general mustache news.

Episode seven of Franks and Beans (soon to be gracing the pages of…this site…) was recently highlighted on the site, which is reason enough to check it out.  Eric himself sports quite the mustache, which you can see on his site.  He truly is a Franks and Beans Mustache Buddy.