Under the banner of Awkward Pictures (so named for its founders’ pension for uncomfortable photography), Los Angeles-based triple threats Payman Benz and Sean Becker write, direct, and star in their own web shorts. The duo also helps create videos for comedians like Nick Swardson (of the Adam Sandler produced Grandma’s Boy), Owen Benjamin and Howard Kremer.
Before they launched their own web presence in April 2006, Payman and Sean had already amassed a number of award-winning shorts on the film festival circuit. Audiences have laughed at and judges have honored their efforts at the Moving Pictures Magazine Short Film Festival, Wizard World Film Festival, RadioAlice Film Festival, and more. The pair also took home first prize in YouTube’s inaugural sketch comedy contest, the Sketchies, beating out over 5,000 other entrants, and are helping to promote the just announced Sketchies II.
On a recent trip to LA, Josh was able to catch up with Payman and Sean to learn about their process and hear about their beginnings:
Awkward Pictures produces funny web shorts and series with simple set-ups and clever punchlines, the visual equivalent of shaggy dog party jokes overheard at your buddy’s party.### Ruining Christmas Dinner features comedian Patrick DeLuca, frustrated by the poorly executed jokes of a five-year-old nephew, who he disparages as “a real piece of shit” in front of the entire family. A Day In The Life of Nick Swardson follows the actor in his “typical average joe” Hollywood day, which involves a Mount Fuji of cocaine, murder, and fellatio.
When it comes to the already stale shock humor of the internet, Awkward Pictures attempts to take it one step beyond, and usually succeeds. The kind of set-up which drains your patience but has an ending that makes you glad you stuck around. That’s the case with Tuesday, the tale of an earnest telemarketer having a bad day, which couldn’t get any worse, until it does. But I’m not going to ruin it for you. And someone with an inability to talk dirty isn’t the freshest comedy conceit, but it still works.
Their best work, however, is a 35-second piece of comedic genius with impeccable production, music, acting, and timing. Take half-a-minute and give it a watch: