How did you spend your Saturday afternoon? Trolling Facebook? Enjoying the beautiful spring weather? Watching reruns of Girls On Demand? Well, I spent mine at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, checking out the world premiere of the new short film from the creative comedy team Temple Horses.
The short film is called You're Not That Crazy and takes place in a psychiatric hospital. It opens with two patients trying to "one-up" each other in terms of who has the bigger mental problem and whose problem is not even real. Throughout the short film, new patients join the group and join in on the contest. It is written and produced by Ryan E. Hoffman and Nick Ruggia; directed by Jason Sokoloff. This particular piece also features the popular comedian Greer Barnes, who contacted the Temple Horses after watching their previous shorts and asked to work with them. The core group of talented actors who typically perform in the Temple Horses' work, Hoffman, and Ruggia also star. It is only five minutes long, but it is part of a sketch comedy pilot called Watch This Drunk. The Temple Horses are currently shopping the sizzle to networks. The short film premiered before the premiere of the feature film Mulligan and took home the Audience Award for Best Short at the festival. It was a well-deserved award, to say the least.
As I have previously stated, the appeal of the Temple Horses' comedy is that it is smart. The Temple Horses constantly think out of the box. It is not in-your-face slapstick comedy that, while is entertaining, has a short lifespan. When you watch a Temple Horses' production, it takes a bit of brainpower to realize why it is funny. Yes, their work is meant to make you laugh, but it often feels like they are trying to make a larger and more important point about the world we live in. Comedy is an art form, just like any other. Like most art forms, you can make art, but that does not mean you are an artist. That said, in comedy, you can do comedy, but that does not necessarily mean you are a comedian. I think to truly be a comedian you have to see the world through unique eyes. You have to understand what is funny about certain situations, the most appropriate way to communicate that humor, and also where to draw the line. Not everyone has this gift, but Hoffman and Ruggia do.
This became crystal clear to me having seen You're Not That Crazy this past weekend. Needless to say, a psychiatric hospital might not be a location that screams good comedy, but in You're Not That Crazy it is. Hoffman and Ruggia skillfully manipulate a topic that is serious and sad for most of the population, turning it into a scenario that you can laugh about. A lot of the appeal of the short film comes from the fact that it makes fun of everyone. It is not about mocking people who are depressed, have ADD, or an eating disorder.
Moreover, You're Not That Crazy follows suit with previous Temple Horses' work in that it makes a larger point about life. Human beings are self-centered creatures. We always think we have it the worst. Our problems are worse than anybody else's problems. We have the hardest lives. At the same time, we can all agree that certain things really are terrible, and we like to indulge in other people's misery. Which is why when the schizophrenic shows up in hospital, everybody freaks out, moves to the other side of the table, and seems to be thankful they are not in his shoes. The cool part about this short film is that it could be set anywhere and it would still be relevant. The genius part about this short film is that the writers chose to set it in a psychiatric hospital. It goes without saying that I definitely spent my Saturday afternoon the right way.
You can follow Temple Horses on twitter at @TempleHorses, "Like" them on Facebook, or check out their website www.templehorses.com for more.