"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Residuals: Short Bits, Big Laughs

Hey, I don't usually review comedies, but the producers of The Residuals sent me a screener, I laughed out loud several times, so you here go:

The set-up is an agency for actors, male and female, who are auditioning for short parts in commercials, or maybe parts in short commercials - actually, most commercials are short, right?  The episodes of the series are definitely short - ten of them, 5-10 minutes each, most around some version of 6, and a new one posted every Tuesday on The Residuals site.   (There are two there already.)

The acting is outstanding, ranging from subtly funny to hilarious.   Some of the talent - like Kelly Warne and Patrick Jones - have laugh-on-sight faces.  Others, like Gillian Pensavalle, who plays not an aspiring actress but the talent agency interface with the actors and actresses, display impressive comedic talent.   Pensavalle co-produced The Residuals with her husband, Michael Paul Smith, who also wrote, directed, and stars in the web series, and put in some memorable comedic acting as a wannabe commercial actor and producer of a web series with really tiny episodes, talk about meta.   He also has the face for it.   Nick Costa and the aforementioned Kelly Warne offered some appealing comedic acting as well.

The shticks are excellent, too, ranging from an audio producer who tortures Costa's character to render lines differently, when he actually is (I could swear I've run into that very producer) to a good treatment of Facebook friending and its travails to Warne's character delivering a fine one-line endorsement of a car, only to ... well, I don't won't want to be dinged about spoilers (as I was by some nut about my Banshee preview reviews), so I'll say no more.

But if you like Episodes on Showtime, check out The Residuals online.  It has the same kind of mad-cap stories, but has the virtue of being shorter, and may be even funnier, because the stakes in acting in commercials are so much less.

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