Back row: Michael McDonald, Pat Kilbane, Greg O’Connor (Mad TV composer) and Will Sasso Middle Row: Mo Collins, Nicole Sullivan, Alex Borstein, Srephanie Weir and Andrew Bowen Front Row: Debra Wilson and Phil Lamarr
Some fellow Mad TV alums and I gathered on November 1st to do a reunion panel at the Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles. It was an amazing feeling to be around all of those funny people again, and I’m grateful to organizer Holly Payne for making it happen. Not pictured is castmate Craig Anton who was also there – he moderated the panel.
If you look at the *ahem* vintage cast photo below, you’ll see that we had almost the entire Season 4 cast present at the Expo.
Hosts is a parody of the Alien franchise and a satire of showbusiness in general. We originally did it as part of a pilot for EscapistMagazine.com, but they allowed us to air it on our YouTube channel Dorks of Yore. It was a long, tough day of shooting, with us four actors contorted behind the walls and heads sticking out above our false bodies. I’m putting together a behind-the-scenes video of it now.
We had a mini-viral event with its release in October, and got coverage from Huffington Post and The Hollywood Reporter, along with a number of respected science-fiction sites. Here’s my favorite review.
Emile Castelle: Superhero Fashion Designer was part of The Pat Kilbane Show pilot of early 2003. It’s a mash-up of comic book culture and the old show Fashion File from the Style Network. I did the voice of the announcer in addition to playing Emile. Rodney Munoz, our costumer, really had his hands full having to create so many outfits on such a tiny budget, but he did a great job. It doesn’t surprise me that he went on to win an Emmy. Looking back, the sketch seems to be ahead of its time, coming out years before Project Runway, Who Wants to Be a Superhero? and even The Incredibles, which had superhero fashion character of its own.
The Bagging Showdown
Behind the Scenes
In the Spring of 2008 my agent told me that My Name Is Earl was doing a Karate Kid homage and was casting the character of a world champion grocery bagger – a Billy Zabka type bad guy. I had always loved Earl‘s quirky world, and the idea of playing a nasty, arrogant grocery bagger sounded like too much fun. Billy Zabka actually showed up at the audition, which made me think my chances of getting the role were slim. If anyone was a Billy Zabka type, it would probably be Billy Zabka. He’s a great guy, by the way. We shot the shit for about twenty minutes while we were waiting to go in and read.
My read went well. I improvised some lines that I thought were consistent with the character, and Greg Garcia, Earl‘s executive producer, seemed to like my audition. My agent called me later that day to tell me they were trying to decide whether to cast me or a professional juggler. I said, “Tell them I can juggle,” and immediately got to work on my grocery juggling skills. When they finally gave me the role, I practiced diligently, developing some cool bagging moves, most of which didn’t end up in the final cut. I could grab the corner of a cereal box and flip it 360 degerees with one hand into the bag. I could take a can of tuna in each hand, and keeping my hands at my hips, make the cans switch hands in the blink of an eye.
It was a fun shoot day. A nice, laid back set full of people who knew what they were doing, and they all made me feel welcome. In the clip below, you’ll notice a young Rico Rodriguez making a one-line appearance. That little trooper is now making more in a week working on Modern Family than most grown men earn in a year. Ahhh, show business.
Bagger Lance Intro
This demo was my calling card for my post-Mad TV years in the early 2000’s. The music and impressions are definitely “of the time,” but I’m still proud of it as a synopsis of my contribution to the show.
Behind the Scenes
When we wrapped Season Five of Mad TV in the spring of 2000, I knew that my contract was up and that coming back would not be a sure thing for me. In fact, Fox was still deliberating at that point whether the show would even be returning for another year. I got a part in a pilot that spring – the role of a spaceship 1st officer in an ill-fated Star Trek parody – but I knew I needed more momentum.
Then I saw an episode of MTV’s Biorhythm that covered the career of Jim Carrey. The cutting style was manic and made Jim look like an absolute lunatic in the best possible way. I immediately started getting my Mad TV material together to cut a demo reel that did the same thing for me. Rich LaBrie, a great guy and talented Mad TV editor, worked with me on putting together the cut at a facility-for-hire in Burbank.
The weeks of hard work paid off; the reel ended up in the hands of Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, and later that year I was signed to a massive two-year holding deal at Dreamworks SKG. I appeared in Evolution and Spin City during that time and worked on numerous film and television concepts for them. Creatively it was a very exciting.
The lesson of this demo reel was poignant for me: when a vision for something seizes you, see it through and interesting things will follow.