Yesterday, I talked about how the short films of Saturday Night Live have evolved since the show began. But what about reaching an audience beyond that of the show?
Gary Weis and Tom Schiller were sort of pioneers in their day because as Schiller notes, "There was hardly anyone writing and directing shorts on TV at that time." But would Schiller have wanted his films to go viral? "God, yes." He would also agree that TLI's shorts are a natural evolution for the SNL short film. "They reflect the humor of the moment, shape it even, in some cases. And because they're digital, [they] have a chance to go viral and be seen by more people ...The immediacy and look of digital suits the show right now."
Obviously, The Lonely Island shorts were not the first to go viral. Before they were on the SNL writing staff and cast, they were making videos under the radar just like many, many others. (Including me and my friends.) SNL merely made them mainstream. And you know what? That's pretty awesome. Now that they're on SNL, The Lonely Island has the budget and stage to produce and present what they've always wanted and get their stories told exactly how they want them. If they want "Laser Cats" to be totally craptastic, they can do it. If they want "I'm On a Boat" to look, feel and sound like an authentic, believable rap video, it will. It's enviable for those of us still finding our audiences, but when I take my 15-minute reprieves at work to watch their stuff, it makes me think, "Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to do this, too. Why not? It happened for them."
So, what's next for The Lonely Island? Now entering their fifth season, there's going to soon come a time when three minutes a week isn't quite enough. But since they're so varied, the shorts really aren't indicative of what kind of full-length films they'd make, at least not as a group. (For that I would refer you to Hot Rod, which I compared to The Wrestler earlier this year and about which I could write a full dissertation on why it's kind of a perfect movie. Seriously.) Adam McKay, whose shorts were the first to carry the "SNL Digital Short" label ("The H Is O"), has obviously found success in film. But Tom Schiller's feature Nothing Lasts Forever "went immediately to late night Dutch television." (Again, revealing my comedy nerd stripes, I have actually seen Nothing Lasts Forever. I haven't seen Gremlins, but I did see this Zach Galligan movie.)
Right now, Jorma Taccone is getting ready to direct the "MacGruber" movie, based on a Saturday Night Live sketch for which the premise is MacGruber being blown up before he can solve anything. I'm not going to sugarcoat this, but as a fan of Jorm, I'm worried. I'm sure there's a reason this has gotten as far as it has, and I will most likely not only see this, but see it on opening night out of my love for TLI and sheer morbid curiosity, but I have no idea how it's going to work. Akiva Schaffer is slated to direct The Adventurer's Handbook starring Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Jason Schwartzman, which I think had the working title "OMG Look at All the Cute Jewish Boys" before they went with the actual book title. And apparently Andy Samberg is too cool to direct, unless he's waiting for someone to option the Freecreditreport.com screenplay, which is totally understandable. In the meantime, here's a plug for Andy Samberg! Now appearing in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs! Here, have another exclamation point! ------> !
Ball-busting aside, these are three talented guys, individually and as a team. Since their SNL shorts have taken off so astronomically, the expectations are high, but for now, I'm looking forward to another season of shorts that will get me through the day. So please, guys, do "Boombox." (And never, ever do anything like "Daiquiri Girl" ever, ever again. Ever. Your stuff always makes my day better, but "Daiquiri Girl" made it worse.)
And now, more videos:
"Schillervision Hidden Camera"
"I'm On a Boat"
And blatant self-promotion -- my incredibly elaborate and awesome TLI ripoff/fan letter, "I'm On a Date"
(In case you're worried, I just noticed a commenter said "I thought it was going to suck, but that was tight." Thank you, adrianisprelude.)
Follow Jamie Frevele on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamielikesthis