artandculture Awkward Spaceship

Halfstack Highlights: Chicago Sketch Comedy Channel Does a Little "Day Drinking"

Thursday, September 04, 2014 Cora

When Chicago develops more comedians per capita than any other city, you need to create your own opportunities to be seen and share your work. Dave Urlakis with his friends created “Awkward Spaceship”, a Chicago-based sketch comedy channel. They launched their second web series, “Day Drinking,” Monday, August 25th. 

Cast of "Day Drinking" Urlakis found the double edge sword to improv. “What I love about it is you create a moment for one evening and then it’s gone,” he said. “The frustrating part is you create a moment for one evening and then it’s gone.” There was nothing to refer back to or show others. It lead Urlakis to create “Awkward Spaceship” and film their first web series, “Dentally Dangerous.” It received over 87,000 views on YouTube and 1.8 million on Funny or Die. One episode, “Teeth So White” was voted one of the best videos by the Funny or Die community-- quite some accolades to have in your back pocket!

Check out our podcast interview with the Director Dave Urlakis on Halfstack highlights below:

 
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Urlakis and Britt Belsheim As the writer and director, Urlakis finds the location first then writes the scripts. He calls upon his improv background and treats it like asking the audience for a suggestion for a location. He found a set of a bar. It looks like a bar, but it’s not a working bar. What emerged was “Day Drinking,” the story of “alternative rock radio DJ Quentin Day, whose life is turned upside-down after he gets bumped to the graveyard shift. Luckily for him, he quickly finds an off-center group of new friends at an early-morning bar that caters to these ragtag third shift workers.” Urlakis wrote all eleven episodes then had a table read with the performers, many of whom he had worked with before. There they saw where their characters stories were going and talked about how to improve them. Urlakis was able to say, “I’m not happy with this line. Any suggestions?” The room full of improvisers threw out several suggestions.

Brit Belsheim and Melissa R. Duprey The collaboration continued in creating the continuity and consistency of the show. In a one off sketch, you can improvise a random prop if need be. You can’t necessarily do that with a web series. Geoff Crump brought the idea of his character, a janitor, having a beer and a shot, something he saw older men doing in bars. They needed to have shot glasses and fake booze. They also worked with a costume designer to establish what the characters would really wear in real life. One of the greatest challenges was making sure all the characters were seen and heard. They’re five points of view and have different relationships to each other. Then there was all the camera shots needed to film everyone. Urlakis enjoyed “figuring out the math of watching everyone.”

Geoff Crump and Jason R. Chin The best part for Urlakis was shooting the series. “Everyone wanted to be there,” he said. He compared it to summer camp: long hot days, but a lot of fun. To find out more about Awkward Spaceship and “Day Drinking”, go to www.awkwardspaceship.com or find them on YouTube.

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