When you're the creator and star of a groundbreaking sitcom, your fame is exceeded only by your bank account. But when said sitcom is available only as a video podcast, it can be difficult to set yourself apart from clips of monkeys riding dogs. Respect, though appreciated, doesn't pay the rent.
Still, Sean Devlin and Kevin Lee, who write, produce, and star in The Living Room, a series of six-minute episodes based on the lives of a hippie and a hipster, are garnering fans all around cyberspace. The McGill Daily calls it “a gem of a podcast”, and the show was an official selection of the DIGIt International New Media Expo in New York last month.
“We didn't submit it [to the competition],” Devlin says. “This is part of the interesting thing about having your stuff out on the Internet.” If you create it, someone—somewhere—will see it. “It's sort of bewildering because it exists in cyberspace so it never really seems real,” says Lee. “But the numbers are encouraging, I guess.”
Devlin says the shows average about a thousand different viewers per episode; Canadians, Americans, and Germans are the top three nationalities tuning in. Why Germany? “I have no idea,” says Devlin, 23, who also wrote and directed the 2004 feature film Zach & Avery of Fergus, which won the award for best comedy/drama at the Black Earth Film Festival in Illinois.
The show is a blend of live and recorded elements. Devlin and Lee's characters hang out on the couch, turning any given stage into their living room. When they move to other “rooms” in the “house” or take to the streets—such as reenactments of how their pet bunny disappeared—the comedians leave the stage and the audience watches the previously filmed segments on a screen. “Unless I haven't done my searching properly,” says Devlin, “this is the only [video podcast] sitcom that's taped in front of a live audience.”
Local fans can catch up with the latest adventures in six new episodes at the Vancouver Fringe Festival at Video In Studios (1965 Main Street) until Friday (September 15) as well as the CanWest ComedyFest at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre on Monday (September 18). You can see their early work at www.lvroom.com/.
Although the 25-year-old Lee has had some success in both standup and improv, he prefers the instant gratification of the latter. “I get sick of my jokes really fast. And I don't have the work ethic to come up with new ones.”
Devlin sees his future behind the scenes because he thinks he's too moody or sensitive for the rigours of standup, but he's still planning to do more of it in the near future. “It's hard working on something for this long and only getting that short reaction,” he says of the podcasts. “I think that's what attracts me to standup. But for some reason, it fades after a while.”