For nearly two years, Seth Reiss, current head writer for The Onion, has been tweeting as Matt Albie, the main character of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Aaron Sorkin's short-lived TV series about the backstage happenings at an SNL-esque sketch show. Today, Reiss has released a new website, SketchComedyIsImportant.com, which features an excerpt from an oral history of the show-within-the-show and a fake Amazon page for the book. Comedian Jake Fogelnest, who's been Reiss's partner in crime and tweeting as Studio 60 character Danny Tripp since 2011, tells Splitsider, "Seth is the greatest — we'd been talking about the oral history forever as a bit and he just went and REALLY did it which is just so awesome. He's amazing like that. There will be dumb bits like that and he'll actually follow through."
The website, which went live today when Reiss tweeted a link from his @MattAlbie60 account, is a faux-Amazon page complete with reviews from critics and readers, a photo of the book cover, and a chapter excerpt, all written by Reiss. Chris VanArtsdalen, a member of the excellent L.A.-based sketch group The Birthday Boys, designed the book cover and Amazon page for Reiss. Reiss recounts, "I just sat down and wrote it. Jake and I talked about it early on, [about] how that's something that should totally be done because it just enhances this weird joke. When I got out to LA, I just had a little bit more free time, and I just wanted to get it out there and get it done."
Reiss says, "Believe me, if I had more time on my hands … I wish I could make it more interactive, but then you kind of go down the rabbit hole. The Onion style is to make it look as real as possible and you take it so far then you just realize this isn't worth it to keep on going, " before adding, "You can create weird backstories because that was not supplied by the show. You can say Bill Hicks was a former cast member, Louis C.K. submits packets every year to be a writer, you know, all that stuff."
As far as the future of Seth Reiss and Jake Fogelnest's Studio 60 joke goes, they'll both continue to tweet via their accounts, with nothing elaborate besides this Amazon page planned at this time. Reiss suggests, "It would be cool if another idea comes up about a new direction to take it. That'd be really fun. If there's energy to do it, that'd be great." When asked if he'll ever write a full-on Studio 60 oral history, Reiss replies, "It would be absolutely wonderful if there was a reason for an oral history. Actually, I would like to write the first chapter of the book … Just to get into how the show was created, I think would be interesting for myself and three other people, but I think it's somewhat interesting." Fogelnest adds, "Doing the Twitter accounts with him is the most specific and ridiculous fun thing ever. It is honor to work with Seth. He is the Aaron Sorkin of fake Twitter accounts about Aaron Sorkin … I know he's a writer for The Onion [and TV], but his true passion for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip fan-fiction is what makes him the closest an actual comedy writer could actually be to Matt Albie."