1 Jan. 2005
Mission: Create a product tie-in spoof with a Thanksgiving theme
Challenge: Sustain the comedy over 34 spots
For our third year conceiving a series of interstitials for Comedy Central's Thanksgiving cross-promotion with Xbox, we came up with the idea of spoofing fund-raising telethons. Our twist was that no one would really seem to know exactly what they were raising money for... and our host would become increasingly out-of-control and disheveled as the marathon program continued.
Of course, the whole idea hinged on having the perfect host. We were extremely fortunate to get then-Daily Show correspondent Steve Carell to host our telethon, not to mention the perfect foil in his wife Nancy Walls. (Little did we know where he would go from here...) With their pitch-perfect comedic timing, our voluminous scripts came off without a hitch.
What's a telethon without musical acts? It was the perfect opportunity to incorporate a spoof of wholesome Christian singing groups like Up With People. Our fresh-faced singers performed inspirational-sounding tunes that actually viciously skewered racism and homophobia, among other issues. For a change of pace, the Naked Trucker and T-Bones gave us the lowdown on the freedom of life on the road... without pants.
To accomplish all of this in a two-day shoot, our production team set us up in a three-camera television studio, where we ran the shoot as if it was being edited live. This eventually saved us a lot of time in the edit room. A few weeks later, we had a 34-spot package with an additional 60 code-word spots that blanketed the four-day Thanksgiving weekend on Comedy Central with Xbox giveaway opportunities.