Episode 24 – Studio Audience

Culmination or ruination?

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Blog 16 – Sandwich

First published 8.24.08

Oh, man.  This blog takes some context to understand.  I’m not sure how to cut it down without taking out too much.  Let’s go with this: here are the things you need to know about Franks and Beans 2012 so you can understand this Franks and Beans 2008 blog:

– This was written after a fairly long break between website updates.  Anyone who knows us know realizes that I always update my websites in a reasonable period of time (cough).

– We decided to make 24 episode “season” instead of 13.  That’s really immaterial in general, though.

– Mark Moncheck would comment on every one of our episodes when they were uploaded to the Funny or Die website.  Now, we only wish he would comment.  C’mon, Mark.

– Rick Rolls aren’t as funny as they used to be.

– I often wrote (and, well, write) without a clear end in mind, and so these things can go on and on and on well beyond the point of interest for anyone in existence.  One day I’ll realize that the Internet doesn’t give you more, uh, Internet points for writing more words.  Perhaps I’ll even take my advice at some point.  Not likely though!  Enjoy this blog, Earth!

SCENE: A bleak and desolate landscape, where the sun beats down mercilessly on the desert sand.  The light shines overwhelmingly, bleaching an already preserved skeleton of an unfortunate steer.  Overhead, two similarly emaciated buzzards circle nervously in the clear, hot, bright, blue sky.  The sand seems to stretch on forever, uninterrupted except for the large boulders strewn haphazardly over the area and a few patches of withered and browned grass.

Off in the faraway distance, the figure of a man reaches the apex of a small hill, feeling as insignificant as he looks as he staggers forward toward some unseen goal.  We advance to the wispy visage, a shadow of his former self.  His shirt is tied around his head in a sense of futility; the sun treats him no less harshly.  His sunken eyes are bleak and his lips are as parched and cracked as the earth around him.  He ambles on, making no sound, simply mouthing the words to an indistinguishable phrase.  His arms hang dead at his side; his feet, covered in worn-through soles, drag through the grainy sand.

But then, on the horizon, something catches the man’s view.  He stops in his tracks and lifts his head.  Was he seeing something?  Perhaps he had been in this situation a hundred times before – distracted by a mirage or a flicker of cruel imagination.  A trick of light?  Another nothing to compliment all the other nothings?  But no – there it was again.

The man stands straighter than perhaps he has in all of his life.  He opens his mouth to speak, but the words devolve into a raspy unintelligence.  He clears his throat once, and again, and again, and he reaches up with his newly living hands to touch his face – a face into which hope now flows once more.

Walking forward with a purpose as never before, the man begins to speak, first barely an inaudible whisper, but soon he is shouting at the top of his lungs: “It’s back!  Franks and Beans is back!”

END SCENE

And after weeks of waiting, Franks and Beans is back with a (theoretically) highly anticipated season two.  (WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!?) Our first episode of this new undertaking is none other than “Sandwich,” named after one of the basic food groups.

Having returned to southwestern Pennsylvania after a lengthy hiatus, Larry and I got right to work and managed to punch out five episodes of Franks and Beans, the first of which is on display before you.  It’s a short episode, one without much plot and really only one joke, but an appropriate one, I think.  It calls back previous shorts such as “The Change” and “You’ll Never See It Coming”, and it continues a theme of quick, timing-based jokes that I think are so underrated.  The pause between “Is that my sandwich?” and the inevitable “…no” really determines if this works or fails, in my opinion, and I think that we hit it pretty well this time around.

How obvious is the joke from the beginning or the episode?  I don’t think that’s really an issue here, as the timing is probably more important.  But not knowing what Larry is looking for until I magically appear on the armchair does hold with it some risks.  When I think back to it, there probably should have been a shot of me sitting down with the sandwich after Larry walks into the room and before he asks his question, but hindsight and a limited list of filmed takes keeps us honest this way.  At any rate, our almost comical sandwich, complete with olive and toothpick (Larry’s idea) shows up and probably steals the show.  It was a good sandwich, and I had to keep from eating parts of it during filming.

This episode is significant probably more so than any plot point in that it introduces a new character, and this more than anything else precipitated the episode’s production order.  Mark Moncheck (who also comments on, like, EVERY episode as username hardcoremarkie18) was gracious enough to fill in as an extra character in several of our upcoming episodes, and I wanted to first introduce him in our loving homage to the Rick Roll.

In this scene, I wanted Mark to seemingly come out of nowhere, making viewers say “wait…who is this guy?!”, and airing another episode with him in it first would have really taken some of the humor out of that…even if I’m the only one who might find that funny.  Filming this batch of episodes actually served as the first time I’ve ever met Mark, who had to leave soon afterwards in order to fulfill his obsessive haircut fixation, and I have to say that it was a real treat to meet someone who uses the phrase “Mustache Buddy” in his everyday language.  There now arises the challenge of giving him a proper character name for the inevitable IMDB entry (HOW DO I GET THAT LISTED?!  COME ON, INTERNETS!!).  It will probably have to be Hardcore Mark: not very original on my part, but it just seems to fit.

Back to our previously mentioned Rick Roll – this internet sensation continues to astound me.  Well, honestly, the internet as a whole is a rather fascinating contraption, but you get what I mean.  Why anyone would choose Rick Astley to prank their friends is beyond me, but I can at least appreciate the humor.  Before this inevitably fades away into cultural yesteryear, Larry and I both agreed that we’d have to do something with it, and we wanted to sooner rather than later.  Having us all dance on screen was something of a last resort, but really – what else were we supposed to do?  It was worth it just to get a little extra mileage out of our ever-expanding collection of “NO!” endings.

“Hey, Moustache Buddy!”

Life is said to imitate art.  And art is said to imitate life.  But does life imitate other life?  And what about art that also happens to be alive?  Does death imitate…whatever the opposite of art is (porn?)?

Regardless of the answers to the very confusing above questions (perhaps they have no answer, or perhaps the answer was inside you the entire time), I present to you a panel from a recent volume of Strange Tales from Marvel Comics, featuring a story combining two of my very favorite things, the Fantastic Four and mustaches.  In this short tale, both the Human Torch and the Thing grow mustaches, and…well, that’s pretty much the point of the entire story.  In it, though, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm refer to each other as moustache buddies (the spelling makes it even funnier), which is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Some might look at this and say, “Jeff and Larry, you were obviously the originator of this phrase as of Franks and Beans episode 7 and thus are owed the recognition that comes along with it”, to which I say, “pish posh” and also “pshaw!”  The concept of mustache buddies is as old as time, around since the dawn of the first mustache (or whenever ape creatures, slinking from caves with their prominent brows, could first distinguish a mustache from other ape-like face hair), and I am proud to consider writer/artist Jacob Chabot, artist of the above story, known for his brilliant Mighty Skullboy Army and fellow Strip Search contributor (look it up) to be an honorary Franks and Beans Mustache Buddy for life.  Wear it proud, Mr. Chabot.  You have earned it.

Oh, plus he drew me this great Thing sketch at the 2010 New York Comic-Con, complete with Chia-mustache.  Very cool.

Blog 07 – Mustache

Originally posted 7.09.08

Mustaches.  You never can trust ‘em, and that’s the subject of this entry’s look back at our illustrious seventh episode, titled…well, “Mustache.”

There are flaws to this episode, and I know it.  But the underlying hilarity of mustaches was just too much for me to pass up, and I’m glad that Franks and Beans was able to cover this controversial subject with tact and tasteful detachment.  Or whatever.

The joke behind this episode stems from my theory about men who have mustaches – but only have mustaches: no beard, no muttonchops, no deluxe van dyke – just mustaches.  To test out this theory of mine, go ahead and turn on the news.  It doesn’t matter which channel, just find a devoted news program and watch until the inevitable piece on child molestation sees the air.  Note the particular features of the perpetrator, keeping in mind that this is almost always a “he.”  Does this criminal have any distinguishing characteristics?  Any…facial hair?  Like a mustache?  Of course he does.  That’s because while not every man who only wears a mustache is a child molester, every child molester wears only a mustache.  It’s like that whole square-rectangle rule, and it is 100 percent accurate.  It is!  I mean it.

Regardless of my libelous allegations, the mustache-only look just has something creepy about it, like someone is trying a little too hard to either A) catch some soup from falling out of his mouth, or B) look like a porn star straight out of the 1970s.  And in either case, you don’t want this guy to be shoveling out your popcorn at the movie theater.  Have you seen Jason Giambi’s new ‘stache?  I rest my case.

Because of my feelings on this subject, I naturally didn’t want to have to walk around for two weeks trying to grow my own version of Dr. Strange’s mustache (look it up) for what would amount to a two-minute episode, no matter how funny the end product would be.  Thankfully, being lazy has many benefits, one of which being a wonderful-looking beard every now and then.  And since Larry and I were going for different looks in the previous episode (“Commentary”), which was filmed on the same day, I had the perfect hiding place for the mustache you see in this episode.

Obviously, to pull this stunt off, we filmed this episode back to front – that is, I shaved to the point where all I had was a mustache, filmed the ending “Hey mustache buddy!” scenes, and then shaved the rest of my face and filmed the first kitchen scene.  It’s an easy trick that I’m sure everyone picked up on.

I am the type of filmmaker who loves opening a scene with an extreme close up (you’ll notice that the episode “Grapes” has a similar opening).  Larry is the type of filmmaker who likes to incorporate his ravenous appetite into anything he can think of, and so our opening shot was born.  Oddly enough, we had trouble getting it exactly how we wanted it, and by the time we figured out the best angle on which to shoot, Larry had taken his tiny tomatoes to the other side of this sink.  Because of this, he’s seen picking up his snack with one hand in the first shot, but when we cut to the second shot he’s holding it with the opposite hand.  I reconcile this gaffe by thinking that he somehow flipped the tomato from one hand to the other in the picosecond it took to go from an extreme close up to the medium/wide shot of the two of us.  If anyone else can come up with a better excuse (THAT FITS IN CONTINUTIY!), I’m open to hearing it.

The tomatoes, by the way, were stuffed with some kind of (I think) tuna mix.  Or was it crab?  Either way, it was delicious.

I am a big fan of Michael Cera and pretty much anything he does.  I first saw him on Arrested Development and couldn’t get over how this kid who’s eight years younger than me could be so funny, and he hasn’t disappointed me since, from SuperBad to Juno to some of the videos he has uploaded to this random website called Funny or Die.  So I’m doing my best to channel his nonchalant, whimsical attitude in this opening “Did you ever think about growing a mustache?” scene.

I tried to go back to that awkward time in high school when the prospect of growing facial hair was seen as a way to solve all of your problems.  If I could only find a way to separate myself from the rest of this pack of losers, you’d think, I could finally stand out to that girl in the back with the huge breasts and I’d be HOME FREE!  Ah, youth.  What if you took that 15- or 16-year-old version of yourself and took him ten years into the future – what would he think was cool?  Well, waking up with the scratchy stubble of a beard would probably be on that list.

Larry deserves a lot of credit for editing the next scene together, if for nothing else than in meshing the mustache close up in with the rest of the mix.  I don’t know if anyone else picked up on this, but he’s using the audio from one take and overlapping it onto another, and I think it is all quite seamless.

The beginning of the second scene is the payoff, the funniest part and probably where we should have stopped.  The mustache itself fills our quotient for physical comedy, and we throw in the tossing of the stack of papers (which were actually finals for my Communications 101 course that I had been avoiding grading to that point) for good measure.

To drive the point home, we have our first appearance of the character known as “Larry’s Mom,” who must be deaf if she didn’t hear me screaming the phrase “I look like a child molester!” just seconds before.  I had originally intended to have someone come in the door from outside – to presumably help people understand that this person would not have heard my earlier rant – but instead we have someone walking in from around the corner.  Why?  I’m not sure, I think it’s just because she didn’t want to go outside (I’m pretty sure it was raining or had just stopped), and when it comes down to it, sometimes you just have to give in to an actor’s demands.  We were running short on available extras that day, anyway, heh. (Seriously, why doesn’t EVERYONE want to be in Franks and Beans?!?)

So in the end, this was not a perfect episode, if there even is such a thing, and much of that blame lies with me.  But it was a good episode with a funny premise, and it’s something that I think we built upon in later episodes.  It’s good to see progress, and there is some here.

If nothing else, the “No!” ending with this episode is one of my favorite variations and also one of the simplest…maybe because it’s one of the simplest.  I was hoping for an even more drawn out display by Larry, but you’ll notice that he runs out of steam with about a second left to go, which, in and of itself, is also pretty funny.

Christmas presents for Mustache Buddies

Have a good Christmas, everyone?  One guy did.  Who is it?  It’s this guy, right here, modeling his brand new mustache (er, “moustache”) shirt for all to see.  There are several good mustache shirts out there, but this is one of the better ones – Larry has a different one, from “Modern Family”, I believe – that I’ve seen around.  Best of all, it’s comfortable to the point where I would, you know, actually wear it.  This was a Christmas present from Larry (who found it at Target, of all places), and I’d guess that we’ll be seeing it show up in an episode before too long.

Can’t see the shirt up close?  Well, here’s a better look:

Thanks, mustache buddy.

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.