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.