John McKeever is the star of a new pilot on Comedy Central’s website, called Delco Proper. He and Tim (Izzie in the production above) are also semi-regulars at Bards quizzo. (Christian, who plays Donnie Dougherty, occasionally plays at Industry. I’m name-dropping like a mug up in this piece.) Anyways, they shot a pilot skit for Comedy Central’s website, and it’s already creating a ton of buzz (it’s above, and it’s NSFW). I talked to McKeever briefly about the show, in which he plays, well, John.
JGT: What’s the show about?
McKeever: I’ll give you two answers and your readers can decide which is the real one.
1. The show is about three buddies (John, Tommy and Izzi) who work in a lumber yard outside of Philadelphia and how they struggle with each other personally and professionally. Tommy and I both worked in a lumber yard growing up and they’re massive environments with different departments spread throughout (lumber, windows and doors, garden, etc) and each section had it’s own type of employee. The office types with associates degrees (John) would work in the windows and doors section, helping customers in the air conditioning while the party animal grunts who couldn’t get through a “fuck”-less sentence (Izzi and Tommy) were forced to work outside in the heat, driving forklifts and bagging sand.
We went into Comedy Central and we pitched the world and the characters. Tommy and I both wanted to show them the kind of personalities we were surrounded by growing up (Tommy in Delco and myself in Northeast Philly). We talked in thick Philly accents, we told stories and then we pitched the show.
They liked it but it was too much. They wanted to start on the web and we’re trying to pitch them a show. They said, “Make it simpler. Tell us a quick story about the three main dudes.” They wanted us to develop the characters and endear them to the viewers first. That’s why the pilot doesn’t take place at the lumber yard.
2. It’s a prank show but we only prank Colin Ferrell with an air horn while he’s leaving Starbucks.
JGT: Where did you shoot most of it?
McKeever: We shot the entire pilot at O’Leary’s Funeral Home in Springfield, PA. It was a grueling, 17 hour shoot day but it was worth it. It looks exactly how we envisioned it looking.
JGT: What local talent is involved in the show?
McKeever: We were so lucky with our cast, man, with absolutely incredible performances from Tim Butterly, Kate Banford, Elise Thomson-Hohl, Christian Alsis, Tommy Highland.
Butterly plays Izzi, a role written specifically for him. If you know Tim you know he’s the funniest person in a room, every single time.
Christian is an incredible actor and plays an unlikable dick so well. Tommy Highland (who did the speech at the funeral) would’ve gotten a standing ovation had everyone not been afraid to stand up and ruin the shot.
And Kate Banford and Elise Thomson-Hohl. Holy shit. They auditioned for the same role and they both crushed it so hard that we wrote a second character in so we could cast them both. The scene they have at the end with Tommy and I is almost entirely improvised and they were so funny we got it in only a few takes.
There were a ton of local comedians helping out as background actors (Nicole Yates, Eddie Finn, Patrick Graves, Chip Chantry, Benny Michaels, Steve Swan, Michael Brooks, Matt McCusker, Brian Six, Colin O’Brien…I know I’m forgetting some).
JGT: What are your aspirations for the show?
McKeever: We would obviously like to see the show go to a half-hour series but the next big step is going to web series. Comedy Central bought the pilot with the intention of seeing what we could do and if all goes well it will get a series order on the web. If that goes well, we’ll go to series on their channel. It’s certainly a long shot and if it doesn’t happen we’re still so unbelievably happy to have made this. The producers at Comedy Central (Eric Abrams and Sam Schles) have been so helpful while still giving us compete creative control. Every note they gave was spot on.
JGT: When are you and Tim finally going to win a damn quizzo?
McKeever: When you start doing 5 straight rounds of “name that pornstar tattoo.”
5 quick questions with Pete Williams.