Olde English Looks Back at ‘Pokemon Day!’

Splitsider is thrilled to offer our first digital download, The Exquisite Corpse Project, a fantastic film from the former members of legendary sketch group Olde English. I recently sat down with the guys to look through some of their classic Olde English sketches. Here, the group looked back at their first unscripted video.

Adam: One I’d like to talk about is a video called Pokemon Day!, which is a little bit different. What happened was — this is what it sets up in the video but it’s true — we went to Bryant Park in 2006 to shoot a sketch, but when we got there there was this big tenth anniversary of Pokemon festival going on, so we just ran the camera and made fun of it. It was one of the funnest days of my life, just spent pointing at things, because there’s just so much. There was like a giant Pikachu and Hulk Hogan was there.

Raphael: All these fans.

Adam: Yeah, all these Pokemon fans. We talked to kids about Pokemon, and I really liked it because—and I think what shows in the movie as well—a lot of my favorite comedy is just very real and in the moment.

Raphael: People having conversations.

Adam: People having conversations or someone showing you something funny in sort of a live way. Less planned comedy and more just finding stuff.

Chioke: And also it was huge departure from all the other videos, too.

Adam: Yes, that’s true.

Raphael: Yeah, because we were playing ourselves. And we played ourselves before in scripted stuff, but it was the first time we were like just presenting ourselves as ourselves talking to people.

Adam: Yeah. Just goofing around and making jokes.

Chioke: I vaguely remember around the time that I met all the guys in Olde English, they had kind of recently left Bard [College] and were in New York and they made a constriction for themselves that they would make one sketch every day.

Ben: What did we do, four days a week?

Raphael: Four a week. It was every weekday except for Tuesday, because fuck Tuesday.

Chioke: I think each person was responsible for doing one sketch.

Raphael: It wasn’t exactly that structured, but yeah.

Chioke: But basically, for about two months, they made four sketches a week.

Adam: This was the summer of 2006.

Chioke: And I’m pretty sure that’s when Pokemon Day! came out.

Raphael: Yeah.

Chioke: That’s the thing that I always thought was really impressive about this group of people is that, the comedy is really interesting, they’re trying to entertain themselves and trying to find niches and stuff, but at the same time, their work ethic is just outstanding. I don’t know that many sketch groups now that do a sketch a week.

Raphael: There were five of us at that time. We didn’t have a production crew, we didn’t have any money, we didn’t have a budget. It was just five people. Let’s make as many sketches as we can, just us.

Adam: Yeah. I quit my job to do it.

Caleb: The summer of sketch.

Raphael: The summer of sketch.

Adam: We only had one camera.

Raphael: It’s interesting about Pokemon Day!. Again, about us being ourselves, something that we were trying to play with as far as the branding of the group, like, are we just like actors playing characters or do we want people to be like, oh that’s Raphael. Raphael does this kind of thing, or Adam does this kind of thing. Even at the Bard days we had sketches where we were all playing cartoonish versions of ourselves and trying to play off our own personas. Because I think that was important to us at the time, especially because, at that time, CollegeHumor and Funny or Die, they were not doing that. They were really about, every sketch is its own thing and there’s no troupe here. It’s just about what actors do we need for this sketch and that’s the sketch. And I think for us it was really important. This is our thing, let’s brand it as us. We’re gonna be the actors, even if we can get better actors to play these characters. Part of the point of this is to push us out and make it feel like these are your friends, this group of people.

Chioke: That works, yeah.

Raphael: And I think to a certain extent we succeeded on that point. I think the fans really responded to that and liked us and liked that we would go on the message boards and talk back to them, and liked that they felt like they were getting to know us as they watched our sketches.

The Exquisite Corpse Project is available for download for $5 from Splitsider Presents.

Olde English Looks Back at ‘Pokemon Day!’