My Damn Channel, the site with original programming that got off to a sleepy start last year with content by Harry Shearer and Paul Reiser, and that eventually picked up traction with David Wain’s Wainy Days and Don Was‘ insight into the music industry, premieres three raunchy, funny new channels today.
Under the heading “If Only VH1 Did Cooking Shows Too,” the site is launching a foodie destination with hip-hop superstar Coolio.
In Cookin’ with Coolio (NSFW – language), the revered 90s rapper, who also had TV stints with Celebrity Boot Camp and Celebrity Fear Factor, will be whipping up affordable, tasty, healthful soul food, along with his two sexy sous chefs, “The Sauce Girls.” In ep. 1, the Ghetto Gourmet makes a lovely Caprese salad for those times you have to cook for one of those “salad-eatin’ bitches.” Truth be told, the finished product does look “better than yo mama’s tits.” Seems like somebody’s giving Paula Dean a run for her money.
In Invasion, written by Kerper and directed and animated by Asterisk (SNL’s TV Funhouse), two small but resolute aliens try to conquer Earth with anal probes but accidentally step in cow pies coming down the landing pad. In March, Kerper’s destination will premiere another show called “Bedtime Stories,” featuring YouTube cult personality Grace Helbig, based on traditional children’s fables retold with racy illustrations.
In a press release by My Damn Networks, Kerper commented, “I’m so excited about working with My Damn Channel that I’m even thinking about getting a computer so I can watch it.”
The show premiering today that I’m most jazzed about is A.D. Miles’ Horrible People (NSFW – language) a new evil soap opera (yes, soap opera) that takes place entirely at a never-ending cocktail party. Miles (Wet Hot American Summer, Man Bites Dog, Reno 911), who has written and directed Horrible People, also stars in the show with Mather Zickel, Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), Joe Lo Truglio, and Joy Franz.
I asked Miles if he was always a soap opera fan and how he decided to create the darkly comic Horrible People. “[Making a soap parody] was more abstract at first and then we said, ‘let’s just make a regular soap opera.’ Obviously, we’re all dirty nasty comedians and have to push things a little further, but it became much more fun when we actually had to work within the confines of a soap opera.” Miles, who never really watched any ‘stories,’ was suddenly researching soaps of all kind – the American standbys, British soaps, and even Spanish soap operas, which still had their value for Miles, even though he didn’t exactly understand them.
As a lampoon, Horrible People invokes the most annoying and baffling conventions of the soap genre and subverts them to a whole new level. The premise – that a number of lives intersect and unravel in a web of secrets and betrayals within the confines of a single cocktail party – plays with the inexplicable passage of time in soaps. If he sat down and really figured it out, Miles thinks that the narrative of Horrible People probably takes place over the course of a half hour, but with the way that soaps expand time, the material covered in the show actually fills ten episodes, and according to Miles, could go on forever.
The other bizarre conventions that work their way into the series are the way characters are “always talking into thin air at the end of a scene,” ominous piano music, and how little action ever happens. “[Soap characters] are endlessly talking about what they’re about to do or what they’ve just done, but you never actually see them doing anything.”
The one star of Horrible People that Miles says to watch for is Joy Franz who plays “Mother.” Franz, who Miles found in a casting session in New York, gives the show its soap authenticity. “She delivers the best lines with such utter sincerity that I’m crying in the edit room,” Miles said. For example, in the premiere, “Mother” turns to her son who is announcing his engagement at the party, and asks with the seasoned and dignified air of the most aristocratic of soap matriarchs, “Did you remember to wax your asshole?” As you can imagine, it’s pretty amazing.
In the event that Horrible People does go on indefinitely, I asked Miles which real soap star he would like to cameo in the show, to which he replied that the icon of all soap icons, Susan Lucci, would be his top choice. And yet, somehow, I have a hard time imagining Lucci delivering the line “A waxed asshole is the window to the soul.” But, hey, you never know. Sometimes life is stranger than really bad fiction.