“It’s fierce… and can feel like eat or be eaten sometimes.”
You don’t have to be a fan of musicals to know the lyrics: There’s no business, like show business. And, the creative team called ShowFriends is out to prove it – one comedy video at a time.
Their latest release spoofs the critically acclaimed BBC nature series “Planet Earth,” exploring the natural habitat of Thespians in “Planet Earth: Hollywood.” With high-flying visuals and the signature Attenborough-style narration, they present a satirical look at the wild nature of their show business world.
The four working actors-turned-content creators who make up the ShowFriends are: Michael Cotter, Tammy Dahlstrom, Laura Niemi and Jeff Witzke. Together, they create original comedy content that examines key social issues and often pokes fun at the entertainment industry itself. Put simply, they want to make you laugh – and they’re not afraid to ruffle a few feathers along the way.
In fact, they’ve been gaining attention for taking on hot topics, like Trump’s tweets in “The West Wing: Trump Years”; the absurdity of awards season in “MasterClass: Seat Fillers”; the lack of diversity in “Showcase: One Network’s Search For White Diversity”; and the awkward auditioning process in “What If…People Interviewed For Jobs Like Actors?”
In-between parody projects and auditions, the ShowFriends found some time for an interview:
For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, tell us about “Planet Earth: Hollywood”.
COTTER: It’s a parody of the popular nature documentary series that takes a look at one of the fiercest creatures in Hollywood…the Actor.
NIEMI: And of course, we capture them in their natural habitats, including the Audition Waiting Room, a.k.a. the great watering hole in the jungle of all jungles.
What are you trying to say about the entertainment industry and Actors?
DAHLSTROM: As working actors, this is our life – auditioning. We’re often changing in our cars, parking far away, walking forever in our best outfits, uphill both ways … all to end up sitting face to face with our competition. It’s fierce… and can feel like eat or be eaten sometimes. But, we do ban together when we need to, so I guess we’re saying that we are all animals at heart…just some are a little more wild than others.
Many of the visuals help to capture the tone of the original BBC series; was this the goal and how were you able to achieve that?
WITZKE: Absolutely. And we have our director Dane Wagner to thank for that. He has been the Director of Photography on all our other projects… and when we came up with this idea and he said he was willing to step up and direct – we knew we were in good hands.
COTTER: Let’s be honest, he just bought a fancy drone camera and said we could use it. You can’t turn that down.
NIEMI: The Mighty Dane and his drone!
ShowFriends likes to poke fun at Hollywood; why is this important to you?
NIEMI: The world has become a serious place. So has our industry. We have to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements every other day. And we laugh – because we are just trying to entertain folks here, people. Like any industry – we think ours is ripe for parody and happy to make fun of ourselves in it.
Have you received any industry feedback – positive or negative?
WITZKE: We’ve gotten great feedback from a lot of our industry friends, directors, casting directors…
COTTER: Not to mention a bunch of our writer friends have encouraged us to keep up the good work.
DAHLSTROM: Actually…that’s just your wife, Michael, trying to get you out of the house.
NIEMI: Let’s not forget, that for our “The West Wing: Trump Years” we got a tweet from original cast member Richard Schiff saying he thought it was pretty funny. Can’t ask for better feedback than that.
How did the creative team ShowFriends start?
DAHLSTROM: We were all in the same acting class years ago and have remained good friends ever since. Then, two years ago we started meeting once a month to keep each other accountable to our goals, our acting careers, and to basically stay on track.
WITZKE: And inevitably we would make each other laugh with a story and say, “That’s a great idea, we should shoot that,” but how? And then it hit us — let’s just try making it ourselves. Who’s stopping us?
What’s been the hardest part about creating satirical comedy?
COTTER: I’d say it’s the 24-hour news cycle, trying to stay relevant, topical, and timely… as well as how to “make fun of” without offending anyone TOO much. No one wants to hear us complain about how hard this business is… but if we point out what’s ridiculous about it, then hopefully we can make everyone laugh at it with us.
Is there anything ‘off-limits’?
DAHLSTROM: Hmmm…probably not, if we can find a way to spin it. I mean, we don’t want to offend anyone or anger people, especially if they might hire us.
WITZKE: So that means casting directors, networks, producers — all out.
COTTER: Writers, hit shows, tentpole feature films… The Kardashians.
NIEMI: Foley artists…they’re the only thing left sacred in this town.
Any big discoveries along the way?
NIEMI: That the best thing in the world is to work with your friends.
DAHLSTROM: Also, how lucky we are to have such talented pals willing to come and play with us.
COTTER: And, how much work it is to create content, but at the same time, super fulfilling.
Lastly, what’s next for ShowFriends?
WITZKE: We have a fun idea percolating. I’m not sure if we are able to talk about it just yet.
COTTER: We probably shouldn’t… but let’s just say it might or might not take place in a galaxy far, far away.
NIEMI: ’nuff said.
DAHLSTROM: Except check back with us in December…it’s gonna be out of this world!
Watch all of the ShowFriends comedy videos at: www.ShowFriendsLA.com