Rob Michael Hugel’s a brave man and his new web series, I Hate Being Single (IHBS), proves it.
Creating any visual media intended for a wide audience can be torturous. Self doubt plagues even the most confident among us and questions as to whether anyone will “get it” inflame some special, awful insecurity sector of our brains. There’s so much at stake. So much thought, so much writing, so many location scouts, and permits, and actors who are only available Tuesday from 4-5:30 and cameras that are low on battery and “Oh oh oh, we need a China ball. Where’s the goddamn China ball?!”
Because creating and producing is rough, artists want a “payoff.” So they tend to go for the salable gimmick, the most pitchable pitch. Nowhere is this more the case than in the world of web series where every project is vying for clicks in a race toward a larger primetime TV venue and a boardroom full of network execs looking for something “different.”
Comedian/writer/actor/producer/editor and one hell of a good Steve Buscemi impressionist, Hugel has taken the road less traveled. He’s opted for true rather than flashy. In doing so, he’s achieved something actually different. Winner of the 2012 New York Television Festival’s Bing Audience Award, IHBS does for the twenty-something hipster Brooklyn crowd what Seinfeld did for the thirty-something Manhattan yuppie set — exposing their doubts, their frustrations, and their persistence in bringing to bear the relentless little struggles of day-to-day life. But it’s done with a pacing that feels more like a Portlandia/Curb fusion than a sitcom filled to the brim with zingers. Hugel shows life (almost) as it actually is. On one of our funnier days, all of us could put ourselves in his shoes and reasonably imagine living the scenarios he’s living on screen. IHBS is ultimately relatable. Isn’t that really what makes great art great?
Bottom line: You should watch. Here’s why.
It’s about more than good audio, lighting, and editing — traditional hallmarks of “5-star” web production. IHBS feels cinematic in every element from shot choices, graphics, locations, soundtrack, even characters’ wardrobes. It’s clear that the UCB-heavy cast and crew know what’s what and how to deliver.
A sign of good writing, the callback is one of the most powerful tools in comedy. When repeatedly executed as well as it is in IHBS, it’s a veritable jackhammer of funny.
Hugel is masterful at letting jokes flow from true scenarios. Everything’s structured, but nothing’s forced. Never does any interaction seem like it’s not happening for the first time in the very moment we’re watching it unfold.