You might remember the Westboro Baptist Church, that extreme, homophobic place of worship that preached that just about everyone – even U.S. Service members and Amish girls – deserved to die. What you may not know is that Westboro actually saved a fledgling sketch comedy show.
Four years ago Corey Scott Rutledge a Brooklyn-based actor/writer/producer, created The Shorts Show, an internet sketch series that he and his actor/writer/director/buddy Nick Snow started writing, directing and producing. They had what should have been some bona fide hits on their hands:
Like the total cornball but lovable “Asshole’” – a spoof of the Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Guy.
And my personal favorite – country music sensation/philosopher Tucky Mud, whose perspective on gay marriage was shaped by his cousin Stu marrying a pinball machine… “He was dumber than a bag of shit, but he was happier. And that was good enough for me” .
Despite these comedic gems and some of the best cinematography, acting, and production out there for a do-it-yourself sketch show, the Shorts Show remained under the radar.
The lack of recognition even inspired their name change “…we added ‘Brooklyn’s Worst’ to our name, as a joke,” said Corey, a graduate of the New York Film Academy.
And then one day God came to Corey and gave him an idea. “I woke up one morning and thought wouldn’t it be funny to bring together Christian Mingle and Westboro?”
Scrounging up $100 (which mainly went to the cream cheese spread he made available to his friends that played extras), and with Nick behind the camera and co-directing, Corey filmed “Westboro Mingle.com”, the first dating website “made by God,” “where hate and love come together.” Here’s the video:
Given the limited prep and budget, Corey didn’t expect much. But boy, did God and Westboro deliver – the video got 750,000+ hits on Youtube, along with a mention in Upworthy, followed by Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Reddit, and the Daily Beast, to name a few. “Ironically it was the cheapest sketch we made to date.”
The success of the Westboro video has since inspired Corey and crew to keep at it.
“When we started we were just writing for ourselves, without thinking too much about the audience. Now we want to do more topical comedies like Westboro.”
They have continued tackling contentious issues by juxtaposing them with the latest pop-culture phenomena. Take, for instance, “Dragon Control,” which lampoons the gun control debate a la Game of Thrones:
…and NSA: Blurred Lines, which recruits Robin Thicke to help us understand the NSA and privacy issues:
And on Christmas day The Shorts Show plans to deliver a ground-breaking and explosive sketch comedy-drama, involving Santa Claus in a Tarantino-inspired Mexican stand-off. Corey couldn’t go into the details, but he did provide this picture from the set:
With their comedic smarts honed, production values soaring, and actors from comedic hotbeds like People Improv Theater continuing to work with them, expect more provocative, over-the-top videos coming from the Shorts Show in 2014.
And we should all send Westboro Baptist a seasons greeting card, thanking them for ensuring that The Shorts Show team certainly isn’t the worst, best unknown sketch group out there…
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