Dean Fleischer Camp and Jenny Slate Launch New Web Series, Catherine
Dean Fleischer Camp and Jenny Slate — the 2011 25 New Faces who created the delightful Marcel the Shell with Shoes On — have a new web series, a 12-part “comedy of sincerity” called Catherine. Camp wrote in an email:
It’s a comedy, but it’s also sincere and menacing and hopefully kind of evocative. In some ways it’s a response to the “awkward” comedy that dominates TV & movies right now. My secret hope is that it kicks off a new movement away from that kind of boring cynicism toward something with a live, beating heart. A single-entendre sense of humor? The New Banality? I don’t know, we’ll have to work on the name. Jenny and I wrote it together and it came from the silliest corners of our hearts
After watching the exquisitely deadpan series and wondering many things about it — like, for example, where those sets came from — I replied to Camp with several questions, and here’s what he wrote back about the show, its origins and its production:
I love the look of 90s studio shows like Kids in the Hall and Are You Afraid of the Dark, (post-tube cameras, pre- HD standard), so we shot on a 10 year-old DVCPro camera. We also shot it in a porn studio because this was the cheapest option. I saw James Deen pacing and going over his lines outside.
The idea grew out of me & Jenny laughing about what an absolutely neutral performance would look like. Not robotic or lifeless, just exactly neutral. It really started with Jenny acting out little bits of dialogue and then we made up the story and wrote the whole thing in like 30 seconds because we were so thrilled by it.
I’ve always loved Aki Kaurismaki’s movies, and at the time I was staying up late watching that creepy Lars Von Trier hospital show The Kingdom, so maybe that stuff crept in, but I think the idea seemed fresh to us much more because of what it wasn’t. It wasn’t trying to be clever or cool or witty and that’s what was exciting. Things are only funny to the extent that they surprise you, e.g. the “awkward” comedy thing that’s currently all over TV and movies has had its moment, but now it’s really boring tome because I expect it. The trends we’ve spent the last 20 years gorging ourselves on– snark, sarcasm, “awkwardness”– are all forms of cynicism. So I was just interested in attempting something that avoided those in favor of something warmer and fresher. A kind of “comedy of sincerity.” The New Banality. Post-Post-”Eat my shorts.”