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It was a money-draining party and I had a blast.
Heart Of Douche-ness or “The Imperialism Of Young Assholes”
Take up the White Mans Burden, Hipsters. Conquer the middle class with your bougie contempt and self-loathing fashion. But don’t complain when you’re branded the enemy.
EULA, Life Size Maps & More at Shea Stadium
Five great bands at a Friday show in Shea Stadium.
Silent Barn Public Meeting Tomorrow
Panelists gather to discuss All Ages venues, with some necessary rocking out.
alt-J at Glasslands
Lead singer Joe Newman asked us to sweat with him and we did.
Viral Va Va Voom: The Michael Cyril Creighton Interview
Michael Cyril Creighton first peeked his way into peoples’ periphery five years ago when he became the one to watch on VH1’s Best Night Ever podcasts. I remember a friend saying to me, “You know him?! How?” I knew him as “MC2,” a beloved actor and comedian from New York’s indie comedy scene. Since VH1, Creighton has been clever on the internet, sharing his well-crafted wit. Recently nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Outstanding Achievement in Writing Original New Media, we chatted with Creighton about his sweet and adorable starfucker Mom, the WGA Awards and his formula for online success.
LIANNE STOKES: You received your first WGA nomination for your popular online series, Jack in a Box. You didn’t win this time, but a one Meryl Streep has lost at awards shows. I can’t wait for you to be up there saying, “You’re all probably thinking this guy…again? But, whatever!” What was it like finally receiving the nod?
MICHAEL CYRIL CREIGHTON: Well, I never really expected it, to be honest. I’m not being humble. I was nominated in the New Media Category, which is, ya know, NEW. I didn’t grow up thinking “God, someday I’d like to make a web series based on my day job and the WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA will recognize it!” I did pray a lot for God to make a Madeline Kahn fashion doll, and that never happened. So maybe it’s the things I don’t expect that pan out? I think it’s pretty amazing WGA is recognizing New Media and I was really honored to be nominated in that category, for sure. The web has always been very good to me. I’m old enough that when I was in college I thought the only options for a performer/writer were TV and Theatre. Luckily, I’m young enough to know how to upload a video and type with more than two fingers!
LS: Any scoop from the WGA awards? Writers are the only people crazier than actors. I bet you can top Angie’s leg.
MCC: The Awards were bonkers. First of all, I had never done a red carpet. So, most of the photos they took, I ended up looking like a J bearded, stocky, bespectacled deer in headlights and a great suit. My mother would say I looked “very handsome” (and then would try to convince me to take all the curse words and sexual content out of “Jack in a Box” immediately). It was overwhelming and exciting. Speaking of my mother, the coolest part of the awards ceremony was how excited she was to be there. She didn’t care if I won (which is good, since, ya know), she was just excited to be that close to Kristin Wiig. A quote from her: “I just love stars!” We passed Seth Meyers, and unlike me who is shy (I swear) my mom said: “Seth Meyers! HI SETH MEYERS! Will you take a picture with me?” And he did. He was super nice. I talked to Tina Fey, who remembered me from the guest spot I did on 30 Rock in Season 5 (I sold her jeans on the “Brooklyn Without Limits” episode). She’s was really kind, even though I may have been close talking and grasping her hand a smidge too long. Judd Apatow has a good beard and was really nice. God, I’d be an awful gossip columnist. I’d just keep saying how KIND and WARM people are. But it’s true! It was a really cool night to be part of, being nominated alongside people I really admire. The LA Ceremony was Black Tie and fancy, I think. The New York ceremony was at BB Kings, had tiny burgers and the dress code was “Funky Blues Club Attire.” More my speed. Rachel Dratch was a phenomenal host (I did not speak to her, but I’m sure she is KIND and WARM) and losing wasn’t even so bad, because Jimmy Fallon made it funny. He announced the nominees and said “If we are going by applause, Creighton’s got it!” Then he opened up the envelope and said, “Nope!”
LS: What drove you to create the series?
MCC: Boredom and Sadness? I had been doing web podcasts for VH1’s Best Night Ever, and really enjoyed the medium. When that gig ended, I started to get antsy. I was still doing theatre and loving that, but there is something about the web that was really satisfying to me. So I started writing one long piece about a guy that worked in a theatre box office. I didn’t know what it was going to be at the time. A play? A movie? I had no idea. And then I decided shoot part of it for the web as a teaser for whatever I’d end up doing later. That episode was called The Receiver, and is by far the most popular of the series. It was just me as Jack answering phones in a box office. I think it had more universal appeal than I thought it would. Even if you haven’t worked in customer service, everyone’s certainly dealt with customer service workers (for better or for worse). I was lucky enough to be linked a lot and people passed around the first episode liberally. I’m so thankful for that, because if I uploaded it and it got 32 views I honestly am not sure I would have continued. Once I did starting making episodes, it became really hard to stop, because I love doing it and love writing those characters.
LS: Based on the popularity of Jack in a Box what made you decide this would be the last season? Are you planning to satisfy your fan base with a spinoff? Or is this just some ploy to stage an uprising like when they changed the formula for Coke. “New Coke?!” Everyone freaked. Then they were like, “JK! We’re still making Old Coke, you dummies.”
MCC: This whole writing a web series has kind of been like my version of grad school. I’ve learned a ton about writing, acting, casting, everything. I certainly have a lot more to learn, but I think I’ve gotten to a point where I need to move on from this particular web series in order to move forward with other projects that I want to write and create. I’m not saying Jack will never be back, but right now I need to let his web life calm down in order to try to find other opportunities for him, me and whatever other characters I have living in my head. Or are those just voices and the sign of mental illness? TBD.
No plan for a spinoff. Although, Lusia Strus, the filthy mouthed muse of mine that plays Gloria (Jack’s oversexed agent) has mentioned wanting me to write a series about her called “The Gloria Hole.” It would probably be about the character’s “casting couch” and general bad behavior. Not family friendly.
LS: When you started writing the show did you have a long term vision for each character’s development or is your process spontaneous?
MCC: In the beginning it was all pretty spontaneous. I always knew the tone I was going for, and had an idea of where the character of Jack would end up. However, I kind of let the show guide me. And the actors I work with always inspire me and make me want to write more for them. The first season was sort of…let’s see what happens? As I moved forward, I started having clearer visions of where I wanted each season to go before we started shooting.
LS: For people out there looking to create their own online series- what is the best advice you can give? Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
MCC: Write something that you would want to watch. Surround yourself with amazing people. Make your own rules before someone is making them for you. Incorporate as many cucpakes as possible. Don’t worry about making a viral video…worry about making a good series. But if you must, I’ve learned people really love to link episodes that involve cupcakes, chest hair, smoking, pajamas, boobs, buzzcuts and the very talented Randy Harrison. If you can put all those things in one episode you are a genius…and totes got a viral video! Also, find someone you trust to shoot it! I’ve been so lucky having Jim Turner behind the camera for most of these episodes, because he really understands the look and feel I’m going for and is a dream to work with. The first few episodes were shot by the brilliant Marcie Hume, who then moved to London. Jim took what was established, ran with it and made it his own.
The only thing I would have done differently is this: In the very first episode I take a couple of lines to the camera. I never did it again. It doesn’t bother me tons, but I’d probably not do that again. The device doesn’t bother me, it’s just not the route I decided to go…which I didn’t realize until I got to the second episode
LS: You and your cast have such amazing chemistry. How and why did you choose some of the actors you’ve worked with?
MCC: To play such a character like Jack, that is so uncomfortable with himself, I knew I had to be really comfortable. I am generally really sensitive to my environment, so from the beginning I knew in order to be my best, I’d have to surround myself with people I really enjoyed working with. It’s no secret that almost all of the parts I wrote were for specific actors, and I was really lucky that they all said yes. Some were friends who I’ve worked with before, some were acquaintances I wanted to work with. All of them really understood the writing and style. They are all people I’d run to see in a play, tv show, movie or share a cupcake with in a heartbeat.
LS: Where do you see yourself in 50 years? Yes, I said it, 50. I know in 5 years you and George Clooney will probably have your own co-branded vodka, so I decided to add a zero.
MCC: I guess it would be weird to say “dead”, right? Also, I’m more of a Bourbon kinda guy. Do you think Clooney would go for that?
LS: From what I heard about George from a drunk Londoner in a Manhattan sports bar who knew someone at The Sun, George likes Cosmos, mainly for their color. Wink! Wink! See? I’m sure George is warm and kind. P.S. This is all alleged. Tell everyone in Internet Land why they must not miss out on Season 4 of Jack in a Box.
MCC: Because (insert movie trailer voice) IT’S ALL BEEN LEADING UP TO THIS. This season will be a culmination of all the things Jack has been dealing with up until this point. We’re going to see a bunch of new challenges at work, some interesting family situations, professional road blocks, awkward interactions, etc. In addition to all of that, we’ll also explore his budding relationship with a real live male! We have some great returning characters and a few brand new ones. The newest character I’m most excited about it Jack’s new nemesis, Beau, played by the remarkable Cole Escola (from Jeffery & Cole Casserole on LOGO). I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the new episodes he is in is called “The Pest.” And no, he does not play a giant boyish cockroach. Although, maybe I should write THAT as my next project?
Michael Cyril Creighton is creator of JACK IN A BOX: An Original Web Series. He is 2012 Nominee for Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Achievement in Writing Original New Media and Winner: Best Web Series @ The 2010 New York Television Festival.