Harry Deansway hosts and promotes London’s premier avant garde comedy night, However the venue owner hates the night, the runner keeps messing up, pizzas are being stolen and everyone’s doing well out the night except Harry.
We had wanted to do a show that mixed a real venue with a fictional cast, and in fact had made Supercreeps ourselves which mixed a fictional cast with a real music venue. Although we were delighted with the results, we felt there was more to be had from the thinking – so when a producer friend showed us the first season of Harry Deansway’s Shambles, we were immediately intrigued.
Harry is a real life comedy promoter (and performer), who had produced a pilot season of Shambles set inside his comedy club of the same name at Aces and Eights in North London. We loved the potential of what Harry had done, and when this was combined with the brilliant and eclectic line up of comedians that he puts together for each of his nights, we felt we could be onto a winner: a show that delivered a really modern sit com, but also a really entertaining way to package and present a mix of new stand up talents.
We met Harry and discussed the possibilities – and were even more intrigued when he laid out his working practice – whereby the action is tightly plotted but left unscripted, and actors, who were really well briefed on who they were as characters, were then given differing minimal information and dropped into scenes so that they could react “live” instead of having time to consider and perhaps overcook performances.
We soon agreed that we would like to proceed and Harry set about plotting six episodes. This work probably took us near enough four months while we assembled a brilliant cast to play the harassed club owner (Tony Maressi), his useless intern (Joz Norris), his lazy niece (Tamsyn Kelly) and of course Harry playing a misanthropic version of himself.
We shot the six episodes across six days – which would have been difficult enough without having to mount a number of comedy nights in the evenings to capture the authenticity of the nights themselves. Our task was made (slightly!) easier by using two camera’s which allowed us to cover each run at a scene without having to come back and shoot reverse shots etc (which would have killed the vibe Harry wanted as we would have had to match action, hit marks, learn lines etc.)
Once shot Harry then disappeared into the edit with his cameraman Virgil who also edited. What had helped us on the floor, namely two cameras, made the edit harder given the sheer volume of rushes it produces.
However, after much hard work fine tuning the jokes, the episodes were locked – and we were delighted with the result – fresh, funny, clearly improvised, but suffering from none of the problems of low gag rate or slow pace. We were also delighted by the way in which the show exploited the capabilities of the platform by showing glimpses of comedians setc, with annotations which led out to their full sets, which in turn linked to Edinburgh promo’s etc.
As part of the Shambles series, we shot the ‘real world’ comedy sets of some of all of the Comedians that starred in the series!
© Wildseed Studios 2019
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