Chatting on the eve of the Toronto Fringe Festival and the launch of their Indiegogo campaign, Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson (aka Peter n’ Chris) are looking to take their success on the Fringe Festival circuit to the next level with the new web series, Hardly Men.
“It will of course have a lot of sketch comedy so there will be a different sort of running joke, but what we hope will keep people coming back is in wanting to find out what happens to these two fools.” – Peter Carlone
Based on the duo’s Fringe play Mystery of the Hungry Heart Hotel, the series takes a light-hearted look at the fear of growing up through the eyes of two wannabe detectives. Originally written for the 2011 Theatre Under the Gun Festival in under 48 hours, Hungry Heart Hotel is a send-up of the whodunit-style detective series such as The Hardy Boys, and horror classics like The Shinning. Taking that original idea as inspiration, the duo has been morphing it into what will become the basis for the new web series.
“It has definitely evolved from Hungry Heart,” says Carlone. “It’s Hardy Boys meets Monty Python with room for absurdism, as we live out our lives as junior detectives.”
More than just plain silliness, Wilson says at its heart it explores why these two guys are still doing what they are doing. “I was looking at our generation and realized that for so many of us we don’t know what the next step is supposed to be,” explains Wilson.
“It plays into our characters too, Chris and Peter are very naïve and spontaneous and they just love to get into solving mysteries,” interjects Carlone.
Beyond doing what they obviously love, moving from stage to screen is not a simple undertaking and making that transition is both an economic one and a realization that many of their current Fringe fans are going online for their entertainment, breaking away from traditional delivery methods like television.
“What we like about the new way of doing things is that a lot of our audience is online already, and why not make something for the audience that already likes us,” says Carlone. “Besides, we’ve always been inspired by film and it is a natural fit for us and something we have always wanted to do.”
Acknowledging that it is also cheaper and easier than moving to LA or Toronto, Carlone and Wilson are also attracted to the lack of rules when making something for the internet. “You’re not confined to a specific length or anything beyond just creating good content. We’re hoping to make some of our own rules,” laughs Wilson.
While the duo talks about not being limited by the status quo, there is still a tried and tested formula that they will follow in creating an episodic series. “Each episode exists on its own, but ideally you would want to watch them in order,” says Wilson.
“It will of course have a lot of sketch comedy so there will be a different sort of running joke, but what we hope will keep people coming back is in wanting to find out what happens to these two fools,” says Carlone.
Keeping the audience coming back puts a great deal of pressure on them to be funny, but it is something they say they are comfortable with a near-decade of performing together on stage.
“In a stage show when you say a joke and you know right away if it is funny,” says Carlone. “With film and television we have to do a lot more work ahead of time to make sure it is funny, but we won’t find out until a while later if it actually worked.”
“We have spent eight years making the characters and three making the world in which they will live so while it is definitely new territory with the webseries, it is doesn’t seem as frightening as it should,” confirms Wilson.
Hooking up with friends-of-friends at Whiskaye Films, the Vancouver independent film company of partners Jameson Parker, David Kaye and Anami Vice, the plan is to begin shooting in late September following on the heels of their Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $40,000.00.
“We know it is ambitious and Indiegogo has a 50% failure rate, but we’ll take what we can get,” says Carlone. “If we get a thousand bucks we’ll make it with cardboard. If we get 40K we’ll not have a problem spending it all.”
Beyond their crowd-funding activities, the duo also recently found out that they will have an opportunity to pitch the show as part of “Pitch ‘Til Your Sides Split” at the Just for Laughs ComedyPRO. One of five finalists that will pitch to some of the web’s biggest comedy decision-makers, Carlone and Wilson will be in Montreal on July 26 with Hardly Men. Hoping to strike gold like previous pitches that are now in production, the duo says that no matter what happens they are just grateful for the chance.
“This is such a great opportunity to show them what we’ve got and get notes from some of the best web content makers about what they think might work,” says Carlone.
In the meantime, the comedy duo is heading out on their cross-Canada Fringe tour that will see them back at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September and to get the cameras rolling.