How'd you get involved with Channel 101NY?
My friend Terry Jinn pointed out Channel 101 (the original, in LA) to me a few years ago. I became immediately addicted to their shows Timebelt and Laser Fart, and I wanted to be involved in that kind of supportive video-making community. So I called the guys who run 101 and said, "Hi, I'm just some VH1 writer you've never met, and I want to run the official NYC version of Channel 101." Bizarrely, they were totally on board. Thus was born Channel 101NY (called Channel 102 at the time).
Does Channel 101NY hold any sort of rights to the shows you premiere? Like, when Gemberling made the jump to Adult Swim, did you guys benefit at all?
We don't benefit financially in any way. Our shows remain the property of their creators. At least, that's how it was when I ran it. The very smart and capable Stephen Levinson is running 101NY these days, and I assume he's doing the same thing.
Obviously we receive a very large benefit in the form of public awareness and interest in 101 whenever a show takes off, and we're always very happy about it.
Are there any Channel 101NY shows that were robbed of syndication? How do you know you don't have a Family Guy situation on your hands, where a show is cancelled because the audience reaction isn't immediately apparent.
The way 101 works, the audience reaction is everything. They frequently kill shows that I love, but the great thing is, the decisions to cancel or renew shows are made by the audience, not a bunch of suits in a conference room. I really do believe in the 101 system. Still, it hurts to see a funny show with a unique and fascinating point of view, like Welcome To My Study, fail. Fortunately, 101 cancellation hasn't prevented Mitch and Dyna from churning out new episodes every so often.
Tell me about your show tonight at Ars Nova.
I played a few songs in a show with Becky Yamamoto at Ars Nova last year, and based on that, Ars Nova asked me to come back and do a whole evening of music. That's what's happening tonight, and it's a one-shot deal. I've never done anything like this, and I may never do anything like it again, but I'm glad to get this chance to sing some really weird and disturbing songs to an audience.
In your show's description it says you're an ad writer for Viagra by day. Did you have anything to do with the Viva Viagra jingle?
I do indeed work as a copywriter for an ad agency that is responsible for a lot of Viagra advertising. The "Viva Viagra" campaign was the creation of another agency. I think that's all I can really say about that.
Well, if anything else comes to mind or pops up on that matter, let us know. Got any plugs or shout-outs?
I saw Ann Carr's show at UCB a couple weeks ago and she blew me away. Such a funny, touching, human experience. And the Shells show at Joe's Pub is a crazy, brilliant, Andy-Kaufman-meets-Sex-And-The-City good time. Oh, and everybody should come to Terry Jinn's Enormous Television, Feb. 26 at Kenny's Castaways. A bunch of comedians who are also pretty good singers will be tearing through your favorite rock hits, accompanied by Terry Jinn, the best guitarist I'm personally friends with, and his super-solid band.