Hey everyone, Spencer Chinoy here, co-creator of WTA and the director of "Gay Ape," for my first blog entry of all time!
This episode was shot early in the production and we were still ‘finding ourselves’, you might say. It was definitely not one of those episodes that flows naturally into existence. We’ve been doing this show for thirteen years now, and every time we adapt to a new network, there is always a period of trying to figure out what the new incarnation exactly is. Things were no different this time around, and although we are proud of our Gay Ape, it was not a straight path to the finish line. (unintentional pun I swear).I feel like if you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in the ‘process’, so I figured I’d use it as an opportunity to give some well deserved credit to cast and crew who were responsible for this episode.
Mark and Merkle were performed by our longtime sources of puppet excellence, Drew Massey and Victor Yerrid. They’ve been working with us off and on since the Fox days and we’ve had many adventures together. What makes these two puppet jockeys extra special is the fact that they adapt so well to our often logistically laborious shooting process. Drew and Victor often have to do stand-in work for Greg and Warren when Dan is performing the puppet with dialogue. As a result, they’ve both become adept at performing Greg and Warren.
This show gave us the ability to create new puppets, so we wanted to give Drew and Victor characters they could really create and make their own. Coupled with this collaboration is the
work of Jurgen Ferguson. As a puppet craftsmen extraordinaire, Jurgen
took all of our ideas for the puppet couple and made them his own.
Jurgen hit the mark with the first round of
The final product was great. Once Victor and Drew had these puppets on their hands, it didn’t take long for them to create a backstory for the couple. As usual, we could do a ten minute scene based soley on Mark and Merkle grocery shopping.
We were excited for the opportunity to work with a very funny guy, Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen. Many will remember Gruber in his great performance as the guidance counselor on ‘Freaks and Geeks’ (Sidenote, there’s a deleted scene on the ‘Funny People’ DVD where Gruber plays Seth Rogen’s step-father and it’s hilarious). If the fates provide us with
another season, I’d love to do an episode focusing on more on the Gruber/Warren
relationship…it’s not hard to imagine Warren spending a lot of time in his
local liquor store.
Two other individuals we had the pleasure to work with were Robert Michael Morrison and Nancy O’Dell. We loved Michael ever since we saw him in Lisa Kudrow’s excellent, under-the-radar HBO show ‘The Comeback’. This show provided us with a lot of ideas for the type of show we wanted to do. Michael played Kudrow’s assistant, and we knew he ’d be great as Jerry.
One of our executive producers, George Plamondon, had a contact with Nancy O’Dell and suggested to us that we might find a scene for her. She was fantastic, knew exactly how to play the comedy.
The Gay Pride parade was shot south of Hollywood on Ivar street. It was a lot of fun. There’s really a thin line between directing a parade scene and putting on a parade. BTW, if you
look carefully, you’ll see a Scientology sign above Warren’s head when
he’s giving his speech at the end. Based on where the sun was falling,
there was no way to shoot
this scene without have the sign in the background.
I figured since we were stuck with it, we might want to have that song ‘Baby Let’s Cruise’ play underneath as a subtle joke…but I don’t think anyone wanted to tangle with Xenu. I wonder if
Scientology snoops out production blogs. I guess
we’ll find out…
Anyway, thanks everybody for supporting the show. It’s still hard for us to believe we got this chance again (I especially had that thought a few weeks ago as I watched Warren dry hump Paris
Hilton’s shoulder on the red carpet). It’s not just a figure of speech
to say ‘we couldn’t have done it without you’…go forth and spread the
word of the little ape in
the white helmet.