It was designed as a series in miniature. Cartoon-like vignettes detail the late night world of two men working the graveyard shift in an office building. It's new to the internet but features some veteran talents of the Chicago improv world. Co-writer and co-star David Pasquesi joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
For more about Graveyard, Chicago Tonight spoke with Ron Lazzeretti, the web series’ co-writer and director. Excerpts:
You last worked with David Pasquesi and co-star Christian Stolte in your feature film Something Better Somewhere Else, which was a collection of four short pieces. What was it about them that made you want to work together again?
I was editing Something Better Somewhere Else, and there’s a scene where they’re neighbors, and it’s not a very big thing at all, but there were little asides, and it was very funny. I said to the editor, “I know this isn’t important, but I could watch these guys all day long.” And I’d had this idea for a series of web shorts, and I told them both separately that they probably wouldn’t see a dime from it, and they were both in.
The idea I had was something that was simple from a production standpoint. I like the simplicity. You have these parameters as an independent filmmaker because of cost, and then you turn it into a creative choice. So the premise would be either a guy who wandered into an old mine shaft and got stuck, and he only has contact with one person who’s trying to get him out but he’s never going to leave—the Gilligan’s Island of mineshaft disasters. The other was a security guard and a janitor in the middle of the night. We all agreed I could probably get an office building easier than a mine shaft.
What was the creative upside to setting the show in the middle of the night?
Part of it we did out of necessity because we couldn’t have a lot of characters—but there’s something about the middle of the night, it’s a different kind of time. You talk about different things, or you think about different things. Damon, the security guard, and Pete, the custodian, really count on each other for that. I’m reasonably sure Pete doesn’t have to spend that much time in the lobby. But it’s a keep your sanity type of thing. They probably wouldn’t be friends in another circumstance. But in some ways they seem like best friends now.
Graveyard doesn’t have the “setup, punch line,” you might expect from such short episodes. Were you avoiding distinct jokes?
I like things that have jokes in them too, but it’s not any of our natural sensibilities. And frankly for myself, I don’t think I’m very good at that. Peanuts is the best example for me. The best of the Peanuts stuff is that Christmas classic. If you look at how vignette-y it is—it’s less jokey. I’m almost amazed when I look back at that stuff, to see how subtle it was for such a popular thing. When I look at Graveyard, it’s a way to talk about those things that amuse you, haunt you, whatever. I can take things that are on my mind, and then channel them through this. Everyday conversations with David and Christian are a springboard for the show.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
Watch the first episode of Graveyard: