Franks and Beans Actor Spotlight #1: Matt Easton

Ratings Game screen shot 02

Who: Matt Easton
Episode: 48 – The Rating Game
Character: Sycophantic Thief

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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Profession: Actor/Producer
Wait, really?: Yes, why do you think I created this post if not to marvel at the fact that Franks and Beans convinced someone with actual acting credits to appear in an episode?
So you’re saying he’s acted in a legitimate capacity before, not just like in a high school play: Yes.  That is what I’m saying.
Does he have a listing on IMBD? Huh?: Yes.  He’s actually listed first among all of the Matt Eastons:

Matt Easton IMDB

Holy…is this seriously from IMDB?: Dammit!  Yes!  What don’t you trust me?  Here’s the damn link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2362279/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
I did not expect this.  I am honestly taken back.  This is pretty cool: I agree!  Is there a question in there?
What kind of stuff has he done?: He was one of the actors who played “LizardMan” in “LizardMan: The Terror of the Swamp”.
…is that a real thing?: Look, I’m not going to confirm every answer I give.  Believe it or don’t.
Okay, okay…I’m sorry: He’s also done some motion capture for a few video games:

Matt Easton 02

Oh man, that’s so cool!  I’ve always wanted to do that!: Yeah, it’s pretty neat.
You mentioned that he’s not just an actor, but also a producer: He even started his own company: Legacy Features, based out of Burbank, California.
So…how did you get him to be on an episode of Franks and Beans? He’s good friends with the guy who plays Replacement Larry.  And we got lucky.

Ratings Game screen shot 01

Do you think if he gets super famous, other people will watch the Franks and Beans episode?: I…really hope so.  Maybe they’ll watch it and think, “what the hell kind of deal with the devil did these guys make to get Matt Easton on their Internet show?”
If he gets super famous, will he…put you in a movie?: C’mon, man.

…I hope.
How many times did you have to film the “*#$@ you, Frankenberry” shot?: Ugh, too many times.  I thought someone was going to report us.  Matt was shouting the f-word in a crowded parking lot as confused onlookers walked by.

Ratings Game screen shot 03

What is he working on now that he’s moved away from his lucrative career as a Franks and Beans guest star?: Hey.  Don’t be mean.
But seriously, what is he working on?: He’s producing the film “The Summer I Died“, currently in pre-production.  He’s a production coordinator for the upcoming “Savage Mountain” film.  He has a role in the film “Darling Nikki“, due out in May 2015.
Think he might be interested in the FUBAR film rights?: Maybe he’ll Google his name, find this page, read up on FUBAR and immediately fall in love with it!
That’d be something!: Yeah, but, you know.
Do you have any pictures of him with a mustache?: Actually, I do:

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Franks and Beans comic book ads

Have I ever mentioned that I sometimes write comic books?  Even in passing?  Ever?  Probably not, as I rarely self aggrandize or post meaningless links to other projects that aren’t innately tied to Franks and Beans.  I’m much too classy for that.

In any case, I do write Teddy and the Yeti, a comic with great intrinsic value that will perhaps one day spawn a cartoon series and various merchandizing opportunities, and I take every chance I get to advertise for my other great love (besides Funyuns), Franks and Beans, and I thought that it would be at least a little bit interesting if I posted the various F&B ads that have taken up residence in Teddy and the Yeti comics throughout its publication history.

At the top of the post, you’ll see the very first Franks and Beans ad, appearing in the pages of Teddy and the Yeti #1, and perhaps you’ll notice how quaint and simple it is.  This is because everything must start somewhere, and also because I was still learning how to use Illustrator at this point (not that I’ve mastered it in the time that followed).  Still, we did get the slogan that adorns this website, a bastardization of the Kix cereal slogan.  It replaced our previous slogan, “Better than anything YOU could come up with”, which I’m sure will one day make a comeback, as all things trite and spiteful do.

Next up is a familiar image, as a colorized version of it serves as the background of the official Franks and Beans YouTube page.  The ad showed up in a black and white version of Teddy and the Yeti #2.  This photoshoot was a fruitful one, as we got two ads and a background for our business cards this day.  Born from this ad was probably our best slogan ever, “comedy worth fighting for”, which also finds itself on the YouTube page.  I should/will put this day’s photoshoot online at some point.  There were some good shots taken this day by friend of the show Mitch Mitchell, who just so happens to have a really nice DSLR camera.  And we take advantage of that whenever we can.

I’m fairly sure we stole the background image from this ad from Google (take that, Internet!), before we realized that we could just take our own damn picture of baked beans.  The ad itself refers to the “Franks and Beans Beans and Franks” episode at the end of season two, and we keep the label facade up with our own mock nutrition facts.  This ad appeared in Teddy and the Yeti #3.

Space was tight in the tiny Teddy and the Yeti’s Back! promo issue, so the Franks and Beans ad had a minimum of space to work with.  The end result, though, might just be our best ad yet, in which both Larry and I are perhaps about to have the life crushed out of us, which is always good for a laugh (a literal side-splitter).  This was from the same photoshoot that begat the “comedy worth fighting for” ad.  I particularly enjoy seeing the very top of my Thing shirt as well as my apparently stroked-out face.

Lastly, we have the newest Franks and Beans ad, straight from the inside back cover of Teddy and the Yeti #4.  This image comes from the still promotional photo for the “Double Delivery” episode and features obvious worldplay and also mustaches.  When people see these ads placed in my comics, I’ll bet that they nearly kill themselves in a desperate attempt to locate a computer and access this very website.  Who knows, maybe putting these ads online for all to see will draw the masses to this site, where they will laugh and laugh their lives away.  I’m about 85% sure that this will happen.

So there we have it – Franks and Beans comic book ads.  So why don’t I just use the same one all the time?  Why make new ones for each appearance?  I do it for you, loyal readers.  I do it for you.  And also me.  Perhaps the next one will feature one of my cats.  Only time will tell.

Blog 35 – Greatest Hits

 

Any band worth its pressed vinyl must, at some point, release a greatest hits album.  Sometimes even terrible bands with only one or two recognizable songs put out a greatest hits collection.  Also, Three Dog Night released a greatest hits album.  They had some good songs.  As Franks and Beans is not a band, does not have hits or in general “sell” things, and has not put out albums of any kind, it’s obvious to see why we, in turn, have our recyclable 33rd episode, “Greatest Hits”, up and on display.

The concept of a greatest hits production is a curious one in my mind; it’s a celebration of a seemingly popular band with the release of an album that includes songs that all fans have heard of already.  Therefore, this lends itself to the idea that only people who are not real fans would purchase a greatest hits album (plus superfans who must own every single thing).  Let’s say you’re a big fan of Rod Stewart.  And, assuming that you are a 63-year-old lady, why not?  And let’s say that you own his albums and have a generally good knowledge of his library of songs.  What’s the point in buying the greatest hits album when you already have all of those songs on other albums, especially if you’re a progressive sextagenarian (that’s a pretty sexy description) and you have an iPod with a shuffle button?  And then – AND THEN! – if the person who buys the greatest hits album really enjoys it, wouldn’t they rather have the individual albums so they could listen to the songs that didn’t make the greatest hits cut?  Wow, these are some deep thoughts.

The concept of this episode, then, isn’t anything new or necessarily profound.  And the execution isn’t our best – looking back at this, it’s obvious that this was in our laissez-faire “anything goes” phase where we worked with a very loose script and tried to wing it (to varying degrees of success), and as such things aren’t as crisp as they could/should be, with a few screw ups along the way.  My recitation of “Milkshake” should have gone on longer, so someone watching this could tell what I was actually doing, and it would have been better served if I had added a few more references in here.  I do enjoy our callbacks to “High School”, “Mustache” and “Milkshake”, some of our more memorable episodes, whatever that means.

Even with its detractions, though, I still find that I enjoy the premise of the episode – the idea that, after 32 previous episodes, I’ve no original ideas left in my head and am simply relying on things that have worked in the past.  This is in no way a reflection of myself and the tired, husk of a man I have become in the time since this episode originally appeared online.  Why would anyone insinuate that?  It’s absolutely false.

If you can make your way to the end and this episode’s “No!” ending, you’ll see another surprise appearance by Mark Moncheck, our favorite and most loyal guest star.  The idea of Mark looking up to Larry and myself and pseudo-parental figures is apt, as I mentor the lad in my spare time.  Time to get a haircut, Mark!  You’re looking a little shaggy.

See you next time!

Blog 32 – Rip Off

Originally Posted 5.17.10

Much has been made in my comments on the last few episodes of Franks and Beans on the subject of parody and just where it fits in with the concept of comedy.  While I’ll qualify my claim by saying that when it comes to parody, there can certainly be too much of a good thing, but as a general rule, I’m comfortable with making the assertion that all good comedies have at least an element of parody in them.  Really, I defy anyone to name a good comedy that doesn’t have some parodic content to it.

Let’s take a recent example and look at last year’s comedy smash “The Hangover”.  While certainly laying its own groundwork, where would it be without its nods to “Rain Man” and “Three Men and a Baby?”  Going back 20 years to one of my favorite movies, “UHF” is chock full of parodies, musical and otherwise.  If you really want to go back to the early days of film, all you have to do is look to the Three Stooges – lost among the eye pokes and face slaps is a parody of the social class structure that 1930s and ’40s America was struggling to break free from.  I don’t claim that Franks and Beans holds much of a candle to any of these cinematic gems; I merely want to point out how important a concept such as parody is to comedy in general.  When used properly, it’s a tool that really can’t be matched, because parodies are built on information we’ve already assimilated into our own cultural lexicon.

Self-parody is just another form of this type of comedy, and our wonderfully self-referential 30th episode, “Rip Off”, plays right into this concept.  What separates self-parody from regular forms of parody, though, is devotion.  Self-parody doesn’t come along without a substantial store of very specific material.  While parody lives off of the never ending supply of popular culture, self-parody relies completely on the singular body of work it parodies.  Franks and Beans could have its ever popular “No!” endings from the first episode, and we did, because we’re mocking overplayed cliffhangers and those have been around as long as there have been cliffs to hang from, but for us to use self-parody, we had to have enough material to serve as a solid foundation.  Thirty episodes in, the result is “Rip Off”, an ambitious and context-laden episode that, in many ways, highlights some of our better moments while making fun of everything we do.

“Rip Off” welcomes back old friend of the show “Hardcore” Mark Moncheck, who is getting sincerely less hardcore the longer I know him.  Seriously, the guy’s married, has a steady job, gets regular haircuts…it’s a misnomer, I tell you.  The perfect role for Mark in any episode of Franks and Beans is that of the obsessed fan, because it’s not much of a stretch from who he is in real life.  Sometimes I think that Mark, Larry and I are the only ones who watch Franks and Beans – perhaps I’m not too far from the truth with that thought – but even if that were the case, Mark has the enthusiasm to simulate dozens and dozens of viewers.  Hell, it got him a recurring role on the show, so I guess it’s working out for him, too.

Joe Kromer is new to the show and, at ten years younger than both Larry and myself, newer to life in general.  Another fan of the show who was granted entrance in through our golden gates, Joe has since disappeared from the face of Brownsville, never to be seen again.  Seriously, I have no idea where to find this guy.  For a one-time character, though, he sure picked a memorable episode, and did a decent job with the “next time on Kielbasa and Kraut” line.  It probably took us all of five minutes to come up with that new title.

One of my great joys in working of Franks and Beans is writing lines that other people – of their own free will, mind you! – speak and act out.  Recreating the episode “The Sandwich” scene for scene, as short as it is, was great fun, even more so because we were using different actors.  Mark’s take on the “No!” ending was especially fun, because Mark couldn’t – for the life of him – not burst through the door of the room without looking really excited.  He was just playing it natural, I guess.

The premise for this episode is fairly simple – Larry and I find people stealing our ideas, and we decide to kill them, but then we end up doing the same thing they did in the first place.  Violence, another great comedic element, certainly has its part in Franks and Beans the series, and perhaps never is that more evident than in this episode.  I’m not sure how effective our out-and-out “I’m gonna kill them!” lines were – you’re supposed to show, not tell, after all – but even those served as means to an end.

Speaking of killing, Larry’s poor, wounded Jeep has finally been put out to pasture, though it still has a few more appearances before we give it its proper sendoff.  One of the reasons for its demise, however, might have come from the filming of this episode.  If you look for it, you’ll see it – as Larry is frantically backing up out of his driveway, the car makes a grinding sound, a thin waft of smoke can be seen, and then it kicks into gear.  I’m not saying that the Jeep wasn’t on its last legs as it was, but…oh, how we suffer for our craft.

The house Larry and I eventually burst into, breaking up the beginning of the famous “Mustache” sketch (keep an eye our for fake F&B’s crappy camera in the background…because they’re filming another rip off episode, not just going about their daily lives in a way that just happens to synch up with an episode of Franks and Beans), is actually Larry’s grandmother’s house.  We knew that we couldn’t film their scenes in Larry’s house (“the studio”), and our other options were fairly dim, and I think this new setting worked out really well.  It didn’t look like a house an 80-something-year-old woman lives in, did it?  That’s the magic of Hollywood, baby.

The fight scene that ensues was fun to do – so much fun, in fact, that I apparently had a hard time not smiling the entire time I’m physically assaulting Joe.  You can look at this in two ways: either I am a sadistic bastard who takes joy in causing others physical pain, or I should really be more aware of what I’m doing as I’m acting out a scene.  Pick your favorite!  It’s like a “Choose Your Own Ending” tale where one choice covers up my mental lapses.  The ‘punching’ sound effects make their return in this episode – they’re favorites of mine, and, for better or worse, I use them in a good handful of upcoming episodes.  There’s just something about them.

Tearing up a comic book is something I never thought I’d do – I’m more of the bag and board type – but I have to admit, tearing up the Punisher 2099 issue I bought for, oh, 15 cents or something ridiculous, was lots of fun.  It was like eating the forbidden fruit, only you weren’t REALLY eating it, because it was just for a show.  I hope that Stan Lee doesn’t revoke my Merry Marvel Marching Society card.  Yes, those exist.

The real humor in this episode takes place after the big fight scene, which is unusual for us.  Usually the punch in the face IS the joke, but this time it’s in turning the tables and doing exactly what we got so mad about in the first place.  I think it works, and even the line “I can’t find the Internet!” is pretty amusing.  We’ve set up the possibility for future conflict as Mark, nursing his black eye with a frozen bag of peas (a popular television remedy), expresses his hate for us.  Perhaps we’ll look back in on this theme one day, if only we could find Joe to make it happen.

Big props go out to Larry for all of the design work he did this episode, most notably the Funny or Die website parody “Laf or Perish”, which he created from electrons in the air.  It got me thinking that we should buy the domain name http://www.laforperish.com, but that’d be foolish.  Unless it’s be a BRILLIANT MARKETING TOOL!  Hmmm…

How could we top this blow-out-the-walls episode?  Why, it’s simple – with nudity.  Really, it had to happen.  Ever since iChat and its level of success (it continues to be the one episode everyone remembers), it was only a matter of time before we brought the big square censor bar back, and its effect is obvious.  Seriously, you didn’t think we’d do it eventually?  Well, here it is.

Franks and Beans action figures!

Perhaps it’s because life is so fleeting – What is the point of existence?  Where do we go when we die?  Are you going to eat that? – but mankind is continually obsessed with the idea of immortality, of leaving a part of oneself behind for future generations to remember them by.  Different people go about trying to achieve this in different ways.  Some write the Great American Novel.  Some sing popular songs.  Some assassinate Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.  Larry, in his own inimitable fashion, would like nothing better than to be remembered for the ages with his very own action figure.  To this end, I can only respond in one way: welcome to those hallowed halls, my friend.

One thing that has become increasingly clear over the past years is that the world will not wait for Franks and Beans to become famous; Franks and Beans has to bring that fame to the world.  Here at Franks and Beans HQ (judge for yourself what secluded location that must be), we’re always thinking of new ways to impress our brand on the outside world, much like the cattle farmer sears his indelible mark into the resistant flesh of the herd.  One solution always springs to mind: marketing.  Neither Larry nor I really know what it means beyond the standard dictionary definition, but we both think that marketing is the key to wealth and fame the likes of which we’ve never seen, which is why we now so proudly introduce to you the official Franks and Beans series one action figures.

I can personally take no credit for these other than in my overwhelming presence in Larry’s everyday life.  No, it was Larry who created these prototypes and Larry who came up with the many inside references ALL BY HIMSELF.  I know what you’re saying – “but Jeff, some of these jokes are actually funny!”  Who knew that Larry had this in him?  Well, shame on you, distinguished reader, because I knew it all along.

First we have Larry in all his resplendent glory.  What may come as a surprise is that Larry’s muscular build is perfectly represented in molded plastic, a rarity for miniature (yet scale) figures.  We see him here wearing his trademark boots and with a casual yet confident pose, a really nice detail that fans of the show will surely pick up on.

The extra features in this set (besides the many points of articulation) are surely highlighted by the inclusion of the Action Door, complete with the Batman light switch cover that we’re so familiar with seeing in every episode.  Also featured to give Larry that true-to-life feel is a knife to help him interact with other figures and the very camera that brings Franks and Beans to life every so often.  Just think about all the things you could do in your lives if you only had two things, a camera and a knife.  I’m sure you’re as surprised as I was to find that you can actually live a fairly fulfilling life with just those two objects!

Next up we have Jeff’s figure, and once again we have to marvel at the level of detail shown in my very first molded likeness.  I’ll admit, I’ve watched a number of episodes and responded by saying “is my head really that freakishly disproportionate?” as I’m sure you, our many viewers have, too.  The answer to that question is a very solemn “yes”, which is why we’re fortunate that you’ll get a total of three Action Hats with my figure – only two of which are copyrighted!  As if my face isn’t scruffy enough in this great detailing job that also includes my favorite shirt and hand wrappings, you also get an attachable child molester-esque mustache to add to the mystique.  Larry’s iPod also accompanies this figure, which you can actually watch all of our videos on.  To create a prism-like infinity effect, pull up a picture of the figure on it and see if spacetime collapses!

No action figure set would be complete without a limited “chase” figure, and we certainly cater to the collector with our exclusive figure of “Hardcore Mark”, our favorite extra/stalker/guy who comments on every episode.  You may notice that the robe behind the extremely long-necked figure is extremely well formed – that’s because you get not only one, but TWO exclusive figures stuffed into one package, and each of the figures has just gotten a recent haircut – that’s how dedicated we are to realism and continuity.  Now they can both team up and try to kill Jeff and Larry – but watch out!  Larry’s figure has a knife.

Don’t forget to check out the other extras that come with this figure – both the Action Radio and Action Notepad will give you literally minutes of enjoyment if viewed from a safe distance.

You might be thinking, “These are great, but how will they all travel around the mythical land of Pennsylvania?”  That’s a great question, and it’s one that can only be answered by trying to absorb the incredible expensiveness that is our only series one vehicle, the Action Jeep.  As seen is such episodes as “High School” and “Mail Bag/Bloopers”, the Action Jeep has all of the real-world capabilities that regular sized Larry’s regular sized Jeep has.  Roll down your passenger side window – but only a little at a time, and never all the way down!  Play the same radio station you listened to in middle school and probably should have outgrown by now!  Park in the same spot for days, hoping to preserve its working lifespan and squeeze just a few more decades out of this devoted childhood friend!

It’s easy to see why both Larry and I are extremely excited about this new toy line, but here’s the real treat – series one lines always feature the boring, every day figures that everyone knows and expects.  It’s in further series that we’ll delve more deeply into our catalogue of characters.  Will the character known as “Larry’s Mom” finally get an action figure devoted to her wonderful talent of passing out mail?  Will we see what Larry and Jeff might look like in swimwear?  Will we have a glow-in-the-dark Hardcore Mark figure?  It’s possible – ANYTHING’S possible.