What Is So Big About “Big Time In Hollywood, FL”? (Part 1)

Photo from The Hollywood Reporter.

Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf asked me to be a part of Big Time in Hollywood, FL,  a new program on Comedy Central. I had no idea what the show was. I asked around, no one knew. The one tangible clue I got was that Alex and Dan were the guys who created Next Time on Lonny – which I also never heard of.

It was easy to find Lonny. It’s called Google. I watched a couple of episodes. Very funny. I watched a couple more. Hilarious. And more.

There was something remarkable in watching Lonny over the two seasons. It evolved. Rapidly. Like a science fiction movie where the one guy in the lab coat says, “I think you need to see this!” Lonny went from being a very funny web series to Lawrence of Arabia, complete with special effects, wide screen, and panoramic dolly shots. The comedy remained intact.

The show caught the attention of the NY Times.

As the show went into a second season, it was clear that Alex and Dan were developing a comedic language able to hold up over time.

The AV Club is superb at defining social trends. They took a look at Lonny and put it into perspective.

I began to sense there was something special about Dan and Alex. Call it talent. Call it vision. Probably both. I am never first to the party, but I began to sense a paradigm shift. This was a “from-the-ground-up” comedic creation.

Since I have been in Los Angeles (almost 40 years – gulp), comedy came from above. And by above, I mean the studios. There was a period where successful stand-ups were plucked from the clubs and put on television in their own series – like Roseanne. But even then, the comedy came from above. The comic was the lead. The writers’ room and studio shaped the rest.

Lonny was a couple of guys, with no money (at least until Ben Stiller took over as producer), who turned their vision into something real.

There is a theory in Political Science that the periods of greatest human freedom and expansion have come when the common man possessed the most powerful weapon of that era. Robin Hood ruled when everyone had a bow and arrow. The Wild West became America when everyone had a six-shooter.

For years the most powerful weapon was considered the nuclear bomb. Only governments had those and human freedom became more and more restricted.

I would argue, that now, the most powerful weapon of the age is the computer. Look at the cyber warfare that is already waging, criminal hacking affecting millions of lives, identity theft, and INTERNET COMEDY!

Lonny is the success story that so many are trying to achieve. The brain-blood barrier for comedy is usually money. It can kill you. The comedic vision of Dan and Alex survived the test in Big Time in Hollywood, FL.

It wasn’t until I got on the set that I began to understand what these guys do. Alex and Dan mix incredible comic technique, scripted and visual, with absolutely random improvisation. It creates an electric environment where anything can happen. As Ben Stiller said when he saw the show come together – “…people are going to look at this and say ‘What the hell are they doing?’ ”

Sounds like comedy to me.

1 Comment

  1. Marshall Malone on May 8, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I totally agree with the notions in this post and have often pondered these same ideas to myself. It’s great affirmation hearing this from someone with decades of experience in the industry, though. The age of the internet has effectively blurred the line of success, that studios had once drawn. The internet age has enabled an organic-type growth, especially in the world of comedy. Not to take away from Big Time in Hollywood, FL, (I’ve been a fan since the first episode aired), but another organic “internet-to-cable-TV” success is Workaholics. It’s great to see this phenomenon occurring. Although my partner and I are nowhere near the talent that Dan and Alex are, we have a similar technique. We always agree on a vision, script it as funny as we can, and then once we are in production, we let the improvisational magic happen. This is often when some the funniest scenes come out. We refer to it as ‘finding the funny.’ Dan and Alex (along with Kyle Newacheck and the other guys at Workaholics) have given aspiring directors/writers a more attainable road-map to success than anyone has ever provided before. Granted, coming up with something like Big Time in Hollywood, FL is no easy feat, but it does give one hope. Thanks for sharing. I’m catching up on all your posts at the moment.

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