On November 10th 2018, a ragtag rabble of creatives will converge on London’s Museum of Comedy to shoot six minutes of hilarious televisual history. How sexy is THAT? The first of a 6-part mini-series, the pilot will co-star the show’s creator Jordan Gray and The Amused Moose Peoples’ Champion Stephen Trumble.
*As* the aforementioned creator, I can tell you that what you’ll see on-screen is but the tip of flagellating electric tendril of off-screen talent. The diligence and dedication of the show’s Producer is evidenced in every facet of the process – from the curation of a passionate crew – to a successful crowd-funded campaign – to the script itself. Put simply, this project doesn’t exist without Olivia Phipps.
Though Olivia’s work on The Detectorists and Inside Number 9 proves her pedigree, “Tall Dark Friend” will be her debut solo production. In turn, Olivia’s vision of a show manned by all-female department heads has culminated in the powerhouse pairing of Director Laura McMahon and Editor Izzy Curry. You know that feeling when you can’t wait to go to work..?
Steve and I play approximations of ourselves; two flawed British comics attempting to climb the slippery London comedy ladder. The show strikes a unique equilibrium – Jordan is not as great as she think she is; Steve is much better than he gives himself credit for.
It was always our ambition to portray a type of character you’ve never seen before – a charismatic transgender female lead… that also happens to be a bit of an asshole. Because guess what: trans people are people too – and some people are just assholes.
Trumble was always in the back of my head for the long-suffering friend and has taken to the part masterfully. Steve and I went toe-to-toe at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Roast Battle and the resultant banter went on to reshape the pilot script in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.
HOW WE GOT HERE
Starting life with the working title “The Transsexual Comedy Starship”, the original pilot came in 55pages/minutes.
Apparently, that’s too long.
When informed of this, I disagreed; citing that Fresh Meat runs at 41minutes a pop. My producer would then go on to explain that Fresh Meat gets away with it because it’s an ensemble piece starring a wealth of recognizable talent… and that 41 is still less than 55. Both are good points.
So I would have to kill my darlings. A whole mess of ‘em. It would be a darling massacre. Absolute darling-cide. Whittling my opus down to 30pages, we took the script to small production house who instantly dismissed it as being “too surreal” with “not enough focus on character” (translation: they didn’t really read it).
Of course… I stubbornly disagreed – citing “The Mighty Boosh” as a prime example of surreal commerciality. Our new friend went on to quite-rightfully explain that before The Boosh went to BBC3, they had already proven the concept on stage and radio; garnering a cult following of loyal fanatics.
I didn’t fancy panto-fying the script (and Steve and I are far too attractive for radio)* so we went rogue. Like the Infinity Stones at the birth of the universe, the pilot script was fractured into 6 precious ingots and re-smelted, by the belly-fires of rejection, into 6 mini episodes; the first of which, we shoot November 10th. Boom!
This mini-series will serve not only as a “proof of concept” but a slightly-ajar window into the tall, dark, friendly universe where a full future sitcom will eventually take place. In condensing the script, the core of the show underwent a nuclear re-imagining. The show became less about its own surreal veneer and more about the beating hearts of its characters. It is a show about identity, insecurity, loyalty and commitment to the bit. Also tits and willies.
The title itself “Tall Dark Friend” was a decade in the making. In my own former career as a recording artist, I toured and released music, solo, for 10 years under the stage-name “Tall Dark Friend”. I released 7 independent albums under the moniker before appearing on BBC1’s The Voice UK in 2016 at which point I defected to my birth name. After The Voice, a disappointing single-release and an ITV1 documentary about my boob job, I traded 10 years of music for the precarious allure of standup.
Having given me my first ever open mic comedy spot in 2017, it was Tom Mayhew (a fellow comic and partner of our producer Olivia) that suggested we fly the show under the banner of “Tall Dark Friend”. Tom had coincidentally been a fan of the music for many years and his suggestion was instantly adopted. Truthfully, having worn the mantle for so long, there is something beautifully bittersweet about bringing everything full-circle.
FUN FACT: Tom Mayhew is set to appear in the titular role of “Timmy Truckface”.
READY TO GO-GO!
So yes; I wrote this show. Let’s not forget that. Seriously, I’m proper good and clever. But at this point everybody’s fingers are well and truly tangled in this sexy little pie. And, call me gross, there’s something magical about such a confluence of creative juice, oily identifiers and fingernail grit. The show belongs to everybody that wants to pour a little bit of their soul into it – including its marvellous patrons! I thank you, from the bottom of my adorable gooch, for placing your faith in us. The Tall Dark Friend pilot will be available to watch and download for free (obvs!) before the year’s out.
For video diaries visit the ongoing Indiegogo page – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tall-dark-friend-comedy-webseries
To keep abreast of the rest, visit @Talldarkfriend on Twitter, Faceboook, Instagram and Youtube
*nonetheless, DO tune in to The ExtraJordanary Show on Phoenix 98.0FM every Sunday 4-6pm