I’ve railed against narrative web series of late, and I stand behind my vitriol. Still, I found myself enjoying the 20 minutes that I took to watch Gregg Maxwell Parker and Becca Scott Kerns’s Gregg & Becca, I think because it felt so low stakes. Not low stakes in the sense that there weren’t dragons ready to eat them, or earthquakes, or something, but low stakes in that, to watch Gregg & Becca is to get a sense of two talented performers who just said “Fuck it. We’re not trying to market this. We just want to make something for us.” As trite as that sounds, they seem to believe it. The writing is ballsy, the acting and direction is authentic, and the concept is so so run of the mill that one must expend zero energy to “get it.” It’s a showcase for two talented people looking to get other work instead of a vehicle for hopes and dreams. In a modern Internet landscape that really only bestows viral blessings to one-offs, maybe this is where new web series creators should set their sights. Right, Gregg and Becca?
How did you guys get your starts in comedy?
Becca: I moved to LA about five years ago and got my start in comedy taking classes at UCB after seeing Miles Stroth and Heather Anne Campbell, and I’ve been making things ever since! I was a theatre major in college, so that’s what I initially moved out here to do, like so many people do, but comedy, I found, was really my home. Gregg and I actually met in an improv class and decided we wanted to make stuff together. That’s how Gregg & Becca came about. So, yeah, I’ve just been making videos with different people in the comedy community for the past two years now.
Gregg: I’ve been a writer in LA for a while and was getting tired of just writing stuff by myself so, on a whim, I took a UCB class and, from that, I was like “Okay, I want to do standup, too,” so I started doing standup. Doing both of those actually helped me to write more and do more sketches. I started working with Sean Finnegan, he’s my writing partner, and we started writing movies together and have been doing that ever since. So, I don’t perform much anymore, but I do work on different writing comedy projects and I’m trying to balance that and Gregg & Becca going forward.
How did the series come about?
Gregg: Well, I had been working on a lot of other people’s video projects and the stuff I was working on with Sean was a little bit more serious, so I wanted to do something a little more fun and basically do whatever I wanted. I also wanted to perform and direct so I decided to bite off the whole chunk and do as much as I could with this. It mainly came out of wanting to do something where I didn’t have to care about what it was going to be.
Becca: We were both hanging out and he sent me the script and I thought, “Let’s do this.” I called together some production friends and we made it happen, out of our own pockets, on a shoestring budget. The characters are kind of just heightened versions of us, so it was really easy and fun to sort of fall into those characters.
It’s so rare to see multi-episode series that hold viewers’ attention. Did you actively decide to make them so short so people could easily binge on the whole series in one sitting?
Becca: I think that was definitely the intent, but it also came about through editing. We went through a lot of different versions before we reached the version of these sketches you see. It was that idea that people need “snackable” content, especially for web series, and we tried to make that happen.
Gregg: A lot of these episodes were ideas that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but didn’t have a reason to write them. I generally don’t write sketches, I just write things because I want them to be funny. So it wasn’t until I had a through line and a full story I wanted to tell that I got around to writing it. I was never concerned about the way it would be watched or anything like that but, when I put them all together, there was a connection that gave me a reason to want to do it.
Becca: I think that since we were both coming at it from different angles, that really helped in terms of the flow and things like that. A lot of that comes out in editing. I had edited a little bit before but this was my first big editing project, so it was a huge learning experience for me. With each revision, I learned a lot. If you’re going to do a feature, you can be a little less clear, but since it’s web content you have to make it clear what you’re trying to say so that people keep watching.
What are your favorite episodes?
Becca: My favorite is “The Black Spot.” A lot of the episodes are really good and there are some episodes that are more laugh out loud than others, but I think that episode in particular was the most fun for me to perform. I like to show it off a lot because I think we both had ridiculous points of view that we committed pretty hard.
Gregg: My favorite episode to do was probably episode 8, the one Amy Hessler is in. I like having a different actor in there because they end up doing things differently than I would have. That one to me felt very easy to do.
What advice do you have for people looking to produce a low budget series like Gregg & Becca?
Becca: I would say “Make sure you write well and have a good sound guy, and the rest is kind of less important. As long as you have quality audio you will be good.” I think a lot of people forget about audio, especially when they’re on a shoestring budget, but that’s half the experience. And having great talent, just speaking about myself. [laughs]
Gregg: Do whatever is going to get something done fast. I’ve worked on other shoots where people were like “Oh, we’re going to wait to get money to shoot this” or “We’ll wait and shoot this first,” and they just keep pushing it further and further and, honestly, it’s just better to go for it, even if it ends up badly. You’ll still learn a lot. Just go make the thing and see what happens.
Becca: I also think when Gregg wrote this he was conscious of keeping it in one location, which really helped on our costs. So, if you’re writing on not a lot of money, some people may give the opposite advice, but I say write to your budget. If you don’t have a ton of money, don’t go super big and shoot at Six Flags because you’re not going to be able to afford that.
Episode #2, Blind Date
Episode #3, Shared Wall
Episode #4, The Black Spot
Luke is a writer/director for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.