New BTTM Video “The Sex Talk” + Analysis
Wednesday February 24th 2010, 1:08 am
Filed under: Better Than The Machine

Better Than The Machine’s newest video, “The Sex Talk,” takes on the age old question, “Where do babies come from?” It turns out I was way off. Waaaay off.

“The Sex Talk” was directed and edited by Ballard C. Boyd. It was written by Better Than The Machine and Will Nunziata. It was originally conceived and written for our seventh stage revue, It’s Not Me. It’s You., which was our first revue in which Will directed and co-wrote material.

“Seesaw,” as it is known in our live shows (I’ll get back to that), was a short “blackout” sketch in a show of longer sketches. Blackouts basically pop into the show between longer sketches, just for a quick joke or two, then the lights blackout. As you can see, their name is especially imaginative. We have several blackout sketches throughout our revues to keep the show’s pace changing, so that the audience doesn’t know what to expect next (too many blackouts in a row might lead to epileptic seizures… the audience wouldn’t see that coming, now would they? Hmmn.). In my experience, blackouts seem to require more forethought than longer stage sketches for us, because they don’t have a normal number of beats (thus you have to get more stuff out in less time), and also we’re still not very good improvisers (“Hello, I am a duck, and this is my brother Ted. Ted the duck. We are seeing Avatar. Quack!”). Which is okay, because we’re not an improv troupe. But we do use improvisation to flesh out our stage sketches, once they’re beated out, thanks to the tutelage of Coach Nunziata.

In the stage version, Carlos and Matt went up and down on an imaginary seesaw as Matt told Carlos where babies came from, thus giving “The Sex Talk” it’s originally shorthand stage name “Seesaw.” We have one or two word descriptions of every live sketch that only make sense if you’ve been around since the creation of that sketch. For instance, we have a sketch we call “Videogames,” which is about a guy and his girlfriend and his relationship changing with his other friends as a result of having a girlfriend. There are people playing videogames in the sketch, but the videogames really aren’t the focus. It makes sense. To us, at least. It can be hard on new stage wizards and lightning and thunder gods and techies.

It’s useful to have these short names because no one ever remembers the setlist, even when we’ve been doing a show for months, and even when the setlist has been hung in 15 different places backstage. So Paul will run back, pulling his clothes of and ask, “What’re we doing next?!” and we will say, “Cat Molestation!” And he’ll say, “I know that, but I mean what’s the next sketch?” And so on.

Paul is also in the stage version of this sketch as the kid’s dad, but Carlos, Christina, Matt and Ballard went out to Jersey to shoot this and at least one other video, and meanwhile Paul had to work that weekend if he ever wanted to see his puppy alive again. Christina was a better pointer to “inside” anyway. The kid in this video version that replaced Carlos from the stage version is also named Carlos. I think he’s Carlos’ nephew. I’m not sure of his last name, because Carlos hasn’t told me what it was, so I just called him L’il Carlos in the credits. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing Ballard shot Matt talking about innocuous things with Li’l Carlos, got some 2-shot footage and some close ups of the li’l guy, then released Li’l Carlos to go about his li’l life, in a place where he could not hear what Matt was saying in his close up. I apologize if I’ve ruined the magic of movies for you.

Okay, fine. All right. I’ll take a story from the vault for you because I can see this has clearly got you down. Paul and Matt once shot a video where they made a little girl, who had to be about the same age as Li’l Carlos, say, “you’re a fucking myth!” and her mom was watching the whole thing from 6 inches off of camera. So there you go, I hope I’ve restored the magic of movies for you. Or at least your faith in Better Than The Machine’s ability to permanently destroy one child’s innocence at a time.

Back to “The Sex Talk.” I like Li’l Carlos, he looked very concerned. I don’t know if he was easier to work with than all the kids Matt and Paul have worked with over the years, but I figure since his lines were cut out from the stage version, he was probably easy to shoot and send home (I also think it was shot in front of his home, which made this even easier). As for Matt, I think what he says in this sketch always gets dirtier and dirtier on stage. Which, you know, that’s cool if you’re into that sort of thing. And let me tell you, people on the Internet sure are into that sort of thing. Internet people like three things: dirty adult language, dirty porn, and Matt Gallo. I anticipate a major hit.

The first time I watched this, I was not totally keen on how it was shot. I did not like that Matt delivered his last line away from the camera, and I wanted a close up of Christina at the end. I thought it needed an extra beat, probably because I’m used to Big Carlos saying something in the stage version. Then I watched it again the next day, and I decided that, actually, I really like it. It somehow seems more real the way it’s shot than it would be with more cuts and stagey cheating of where and how people were faced. That’s why they pay Ballard the big bucks: he just knows these things.

I’m hoping to make it out there to NYC soon and shoot some stuff and perform on stage. I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that doing so will help me get healthy enough to go… which made typing this blog entry a real bhijtgc hb . Dammit, it’s very hard to do, see?!


Now playing: Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
via FoxyTunes

1 Comment so far
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You’re awesome Reid.

Comment by Matt Gallo 02.25.10 @ 9:20 pm

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