BTTM Analyses: Double Platinum “Foreplay?” & Newish Videos: “How To Juggle (An Iowa Training Film)” and “Sick Lovin’”
Thursday March 11th 2010, 2:08 pm
Filed under: Better Than The Machine

First BTTM Video To Hit Two Million Views!

I’m proud to announce that Better Than The Machine’s “Foreplay?” (the video we made in 2007, not the home game version we released for our “ages 18 and older” fans) hit two million views on YouTube sometime during the past few days. I had been watching it constantly in an attempt to be the two millionth viewer, then I was sort of half watching it so I could at least tell people on what day it hit two million views, then I got sick and just forgot about it. But that doesn’t make it any less significant, and it doesn’t mean I’m any less happy or proud!

As for the cause of the sketch’s continued success, I can think of no better analysis than that given by Carlos Cabrera, who said, “I’d like to thank people who clicked on our video in the hope that today would mysteriously be the day YouTube lets nudity and porn on their site. We owe our success to these angry, would-be masturbators.” True dat, Carlos, true dat. By which, of course, I mean there is true data to back that masturbation assertion up. For more on this momentous occasion, including the video itself and many more sexual allusions, please visit

How To Juggle (An Iowa Training Film)

Juggling may save your life one day. But it probably won’t.

This was the first Iowa Training Film directed, edited, and made to look like a crappy old VHS tape by Ballard. It was written by me.

Matt and I have talked about wanting Iowa Training Films to once again intentionally include over the top continuity errors, like the one found in the very first Iowa Training Film, How To Give Advice (hint: watch Matt’s hands and arms right after the “Good Advice” title). With that goal in mind, I got to work thinking up something very physical to teach. I came up with juggling and two different ways to very obviously mess with continuity. The first way was to cut to an obvious body double just for juggling and the second way was to cut to Matt with his arms behind his back and have someone standing behind him with their arms around and in front of Matt, juggling. Stunt arms!

They (those out in NYC) went with the first option and Paul played a body double juggler for the second time in a BTTM video. The first time, he stood in for me and juggled while wearing a bear costume and riding a unicycle. We got paid for that sketch… for some reason.

I’m a little sad that Iowa Training Steve (as Matt has named his character, so as to differentiate between this Steve and all his other characters named Steve) was not wearing a tie for the first time ever when we were trying to make an obvious huge continuity error which would have been furthered by him wearing a tie and Paul not wearing one. But he didn’t, and I’m only a little sad and I fully acknowledge that I am an OCD prick sometimes. I think the intended gag still works, and the second half of the video with Matt throwing juggling balls at Christina, who reaches to catch them waaaay too late, turned out exactly as I’d imagined. Very funny work all around, Iowa Training crew!

Oh, and something to look forward to for all you Iowa Training trainees out there: Matt also wrote a new Iowa Training video that was shot the same night as this one. It most likely won’t be released for a while, just to give both videos some time to breathe on their own. Matt’s video features his actual, real life girlfriend, so make sure to pay attention for it in the coming months, all you Matt Gallophiles! (Law enforcement has strongly advised us that calling you “Matt Gallo’s stalkers” only gives you undeserved validation.)

Sick Lovin’

Two lovers reveal to each other that they’ve been unfaithful in some… irregular ways.

Then they get down to some sick, sick lovin’.

As per usual, Ballard directed and edited this one. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote the script, with constructive criticism and input along the way from BTTMers and David Reiman, who happened to be around when I was working on some long ago forgotten draft. There were many drafts. Ballard really pushed me to get this to production, and he gave me guidance on how to make the whole thing work.

At some point last year, Ballard told us that he really wanted to direct some two person conversational sketches, and asked us all to write some. I’d written many two person conversational sketches back in ’07, but based on their relative unpopularity (both inside and outside of the group, which sometimes included me), I figured I should avoid the format. It turns out, as with many things, I didn’t know what I was talking about. Two person conversational sketches are no longer to be feared!

I got down to the task of developing a couple of two person sketches without all that much physical action. For whatever reason, an early draft of this very sketch was the first thing that I came up with, and the first thing I pitched. I had intended it to be cutesy, with the different kinds of kisses. It was more like two kids put in an adult situation. However, nobody was really happy with that take on the idea because it was, admittedly, unfocused. Seven or eight drafts later, with help from Ballard and input from everyone, this thing is chock-full of lots of sick, sick Levin.

I’ve got to say, when I first turned this in, I sincerely did not picture myself in the sketch. I had no plan to be in The City when I came up with it. And then, a trip to NYC happened and we didn’t shoot it, and I continued not to picture myself in the sketch at all. I just intended it to be an easy one to knock off for two people in the group.

But alas, it just so happened that it made sense to work on it, and then film it the last time I was in town. I mention this because I must acknowledge what a real trooper Christina was in shooting this. She goes the distance for her comedy. There was another ending that escalated the entire thing even further that we shot several times. It included what I dubbed a “doggy kiss.” I think the cut as it is now is better without that, but I have to give Christina even more credit for licking my lipstick-and-petroleum-jelly-covered face when that brave comic act didn’t even end up in the sketch. Maybe it will make it onto some gag reel or something… we are approaching 100 videos on YouTube… hmm…

In the end, I’m happy with how it turned out and I’m glad Christina is still talking to me after the shoot.


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