What It’s Like to Self-Produce and Release Your Own Comedy Movie
Maybe the most satisfying part of making comedy (as opposed to dramas or action movies or movies where teenagers kill each other in a weird tournament for some reason) is that you can listen to your audience’s laughter to gauge if you’ve succeeded or not. If they laugh, you’ve succeeded — it’s that simple. Accordingly, there’s very little more uncomfortable to a comedian than a completely silent audience — and conversely, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a crowd screaming with laughter at a joke that you’ve labored over for months.
In that way, The Exquisite Corpse Project has been really successful (much to our tremendous relief), and we’ve even won a handful of Audience Awards! Take that, Billy Elliott’s father who never believed in our dream! But we weren’t always sure what to expect. The difficulty of working on a comedy project for years is that the jokes that were originally hilarious to you at the onset of a project have a way of losing their edge after you hear them 800 times during the editing process, and it becomes really easy to second-guess whether they work or not. Some directors (most famously Judd Apatow) circumvent that problem by using focus groups and test audiences to fine-tune their comedy. But, since we were broke and lazy and didn’t know any better, the first time we ever watched this film with an audience was our first festival screening — so we were naturally relieved when they laughed the whole time. That was also probably the moment when we became happy with the film.
At this point, we’ve screened in front of 20 or so audiences at different film festivals, and while the audience reaction has been consistently positive, the best crowds have been the ones that are full of die-hard comedy fans. Sure, there are a lot of jokes in this movie that your grandparents would laugh at (including one joke about the 1964 World’s Fair that old people can’t get enough of), but as the comedian standing at the back of the theater listening for when people laugh, our favorite audiences have been the ones who laugh at the jokes that most people miss. The jokes they’ve never seen before. The more interesting jokes. That’s why we’re so happy to have found a home at Splitsider Presents — because we made this movie specifically for the kind of people who read Splitsider (/people like us).
I’ll be writing more about the film in the coming months, but for the time being, we just wanted to say that we really hope you enjoy the film — which you can download right now in HD, DRM-free, directly from Splitsider. We’d also love to hear what you think, so if you have any questions about the film for myself or any of the writers, email them to us and we’ll answer them in the coming weeks. Or, if you have anything devastatingly negative to say about the film, you can post it in the YouTube comments section of Taylor Swift’s music video for “Trouble,” which we check regularly.
Enjoy the film!
Ben Popik is a founding member of the comedy group Olde English and the director of The Exquisite Corpse Project.