At the Loading Ready Run panel here at PAX East '10, the team behind Unskippable, the Escapist News Network, and their seven-year-running sketch comedy series showed us how they work their magic.
It's no secret that the LRR crew is widely known to be made of "win" and "awesome," and they proved it during the hour they spent up in front of the crowd as panelists Saturday night at PAX East 2010. (And yes, they proved that they were further-super-awesome by letting us sneak in to the panel along with them without having to wait in line).
Beyond being generally cheerful, charming, witty and Canadian for the hour-long panel, the seven members of the LRR team also demonstrated how well they do what they do by shooting part of an upcoming LRR episode at the panel itself. Most of the episode had been shot in their hotel room, but the grand touch needed to be shot live in front of the proverbial studio audience.
It was easy enough for the audience - without giving too much away, all we had to do was act flabbergasted and bored, and then angry and bored (respectively) while the professionals did all the work. When it came for the LRR crew to get in front of the camera, it was like clockwork: One shot, one take, done. It was easy to see that this is a group that has been doing this for seven years running.
After showing off some never-before-seen videos to the crowd (like, for instance, next week's LRR sketch), the panelists opened themselves up to taking questions from the audience.
The answers were alternately humorous and enlightening (where do you get all the other characters for ENN? "We find homeless people are really reliable"), shedding some light on how things work over on Vancouver Island.
Given that you've been producing at least one video per week for almost seven years - and more now with Unskippable and ENN, came one question, what do you do when you run into a dry spell? The key, as it turns out, is collaboration: If any one of them has a dry spell, there are six other talented writers to pick up the slack, or to throw in ideas to help flesh out unfinished pieces.
Though most scripts were written by one person, it really was a group effort through things like little moments of improvisation to make dialogue sound more natural than what was written on paper. Of course, it helps that they can do multiple takes thanks to their established home on the internet - they'd considered doing live performances, and in fact had done a half-hour show at a local comedy night a few weeks prior. But it had been just a half-hour set, and it had taken them three and a half weeks to prepare for, at two rehearsal nights a week. That's a lot of time that could be spent doing hilarious internet videos.
And speaking of hilarious videos, the LRR crew assured all those in assemblance that there were more Phailhaüs and Iron Stomach challenge installments coming down the line.
After taking questions for almost forty minutes from the crowd (including some people who had no understanding of "ask one question" panel etiquette), they closed the panel with next week's Escapist News Network installment, which was, of course, hilarious. But you all have to wait until Wednesday to see it, so ha!
Thanks, guys, for an awesome panel!