The comedian’s comedian – with an uncanny knack for impersonations (William Shatner, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Peter Falk) who won my affection as a Usual Suspect – stars in Crackle’s The Writers Room solely by way of speaker phone.
In the fictional series that’s almost-but-not-quite believable, Pollak stars in his own late night talk show, Super Late, but we never get to see it. Instead, the majority of the action in the 10-episodes is focused around a large table, littered with neuroses, awkward inter-personal relationships, and sycophantic writers all looking for some signs of praise and affection, desperately aiming to please the voice of Kevin emitting from its center.
It’s an office space comedy that’s shot almost entirely in one office, or, as creators Mark Feldstein and Brad Roth of Stun Creative call it,“a workplace comedy without the work.”
After running their advertising agency and production company for going on eight years, Mark and Brad realized when it comes to sitcoms, “Some of the funniest stuff on these shows never leaves the writers room.”
So they wrangled a bevy of scribes with great resumes (Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Curb Your Enthusiasm), drafted scripts based on their own war stories (a head writer who works late because he doesn’t want to go home to his wife, a network exec who doesn’t utilize the arms on this blazer), got hooked up via William Morris with Sony Entertainment’s Crackle, and in five long days filmed their best likeness of what actually occurs behind writing room doors.
They tell me the result is pretty spot on. “Some of the highest compliments we’ve gotten were actually by some very well known show runners from some very well known shows that say they can relate all too well.” I believe it.
Though slightly exaggerated for comedic effect (more than The Office, less than Christopher Guest flicks), the awkward power dynamics (the network executive & writers; veteran writers & new kids on the block; Pollak & everyone) play out in a plausible, funnier-cause-they’re-true kind of comedy.
But the star of the show is Kevin’s voice. Mark and Brad noted how in coming up with the concept they had to, “embrace what otherwise might be seen as a weakness and make it a strength.” They couldn’t get Pollak on camera, but they could get him on the horn. So instead of physical interaction, we get quizzical glances around the room when the phone rings, expectant looks at the speaker phone, and impersonations whose qualities are only heightened because we can’t see the impersonator.
Check out what goes onisde The Writers Room at Crackle.com.