Reading the Scene Pages of Metro (4 September) is so instructive. Just follow director Joe Swanberg’s advice, and you will be best buddies with your DRINKING BUDDIES. It’s all about improvising, you see. No need to know about the scenes in advance, except in a vague way. As a nice lead-in, Joe starts pulling stuff from his own life. Then the stories of the actors enter into the picture. The idea is to be completely laid back about the process. Just kind of talk and share. It’s a collaborative performing and writing process. This has to do with the nature of the set, which is not just props and cameras, as you mistakenly thought, but something much more creepy or spiritual or germ-like or whatever – a living organism, at any rate, that responds to stimuli. Not sure – are we talking chemical stimulants here? Joe is reticent about that point, but it’s definitely not yelling. He doesn’t say if he expects to amuse the audience with his comedy film, but he is very definite about the cast finding it exhilarating and having a good time. And that’s all that matters, right?
By contrast, the buddies on the TV show PACKAGE DEAL are getting a raw deal. They have to do their stick in front of a live audience, meaning they actually have to know the scene they’re in, and not just in a vague way. And no talking or sharing except with the audience. And, yes, producer Andrew Orenstein not only promises to amuse the viewers. He swears the jokes are quicker and faster and funnier, and yet the show was bumped for hockey! I guess in addition to being funnier, you also have to be more violent. What those sit coms need isn’t a laugh track. They need a board-slamming, jaw cracking, we-want-blood howling track. And somebody tell Joe Swanberg – yelling doesn’t harm either.