In case you didn't know, literally anyone in the U.S. can have their very own public access television show.
As two comedians in NYC, we thought "lol why not"? So we submitted a pilot episode to the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), and were given a 30 minute slot on Wednesdays for a full 13 episodes. Suddenly, we became hosts of a real show on TV called And Here We Are.
Our show is far from what people would consider "good TV." But we love it and we work hard on it, and here's what we've learned from it so far...
1. Things don't have to be perfect to be on TV.
Realistically, you're probably not ready to have your own TV show. Neither were we. We don't have the time or equipment to make every segment or sketch look as awesome as we want it to. It's literally the two of us and a camera. Sometimes we don't even have a tripod. Lmao. You might as well focus on getting your stuff out there and learning how to get better, instead of worrying it's not good enough.
2. 30 minutes is a lot longer than you think.
We flew into season one ready to start things off strong with a colonial episode about two dudes named Francis and Pritchard. The problem was that we had no ideas other than that. We paraded around in our colonial outfits for a while, rode a tractor, stood on a boat, and hoped that was enough to cover the 30 minute episode. It wasn't. We ended up scrambling at the last minute and Elaina had to vlog about tomatoes and dysentery for a good 6 minutes. The main takeaway is that it's always good to have MORE STUFF than you need.
3. You gotta start with what you'd want to watch.
If you have a comedy show like us, think about what makes YOU laugh. Even if it's the dumbest possible thing, like a weird voice or calling Kenny Chesney "Kenny Chestnut", start with that little shred of an idea. We wrote one sketch because Kaelin got a text from her brother about a hot air balloon groupon and we couldn't stop laughing about it. If you start with what appeals to you, it will be yours and you'll know how to build it — then, at the very least, you have something that's your very own, if nothing else.
4. Better ideas will come along.
Nothing is sacred. If something sucks, then it sucks and you can move on and try something else. If something is awesome, then that's cool but get off your high horse and try something else. You will get better the more you create so don't be afraid to suck and don't get caught up in being awesome — just keep making stuff.
5. Not everything has to have a point.
Some of the funniest sketches work so well because they have absolutely zero point. Just look at Monty Python or Tim & Eric, two of our main inspirations for the show. Sometimes you just gotta put on a colonial wig and see what happens.
6. And it's fine to look like a dumbass.
7. Not many people will watch it at first AND THAT'S OK.
People will ask about your show all the time, but most likely they will never actually sit down to watch it. Doesn't matter. What does matter is that slowly but surely, you'll build a tiny little audience that watches your show regularly and truly loves it. Those are the people that count. The random person flicking through the channels to land on yours or the viewers from Twitter or your Mom & Dad — they're the real champs. Because when you're a year or five or ten down the line, and you feel like you've really done something good, those are the people you'll have to thank for it.
8. People might have a weirdly negative response at first AND THAT IS ALSO OK.
You will come across people in your travels who won't think it's cool that you're trying to make something. Maybe it's because they want to make something too, but they're just not for some reason. Maybe it's because their secret dream is to parade around on television in a colonial wig reciting poetry, and you've taken that from them. Maybe it's because some of the stuff you put out there is so goddamn strange that it deserves people saying, "What the hell is this?" This is all OK too! Just take a note from the great Kristaps Porzingas of the Knicks and resolve to "turn those boos into cheers!"
9. The deadlines force you to be better with time management.
Both of us are disorganized as all hell, but having to meet a deadline every Saturday at 4pm to submit our show made us quickly realize that we NEED some sort of system. We've gotten into a routine of shooting, editing, and celebrating every week as we watch the new episode. But the heart of a procrastinator is a hard one to change, so usually we are scrambling and a solid amount of our show is improvised. Some of the best parts come out of our improvisation, like our beloved 'Song on The Spot' segment that has turned out to be an audience favorite!
An improvised song that came from us being disorganized...
10. Public access television and the people who are on it are friggin' incredible.
We decided to pitch a public access show after being fans of The Chris Gethard Show, which had a four-year run on MNN (it's since moved to Fusion, NICE). In it's public access days, Chris created an absurd universe that was kind of like the wild west — every week we didn't know what to expect. From looking at each other's dicks for an hour to having people call-in and say something they've never told anyone before — he was constantly pushing the boundaries and experimenting, always taking advantage of the freedom and space public access gives you. The show is heartfelt, emotional, insane, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious — but most of all it's really goddamn honest. He's doing it for himself and for the people who love it, and it is incredibly inspiring to see someone willing to make mistakes instead of playing it safe. Big ups to Gethard. Honestly, he's the man and he's paving a new way.
Basically, we have no idea what we're doing, and we have no business having a TV show, but MNN lets us have our 30 minutes every week to do whatever the hell we want. It's a place to experiment and learn how to make a show, and we're so thankful for that.
11. At the end of the day, if weeks later you're still thinking/laughing about something on your TV show, you know that shit's good.
So keep doing it, because that's what we did, and that's what all the greats with their network television shows before us did. AND HERE WE ARE, FOLKS.