Part Chappelle Show, part Inspector Clouseau, Labor Days is an engaging web series directed by, written, and starring local comedian John Wynn. Playing on race-relations, sexual innuendo, and escalating calamity, the project features an ensemble of South Florida comedic talent, transitioning their skills from stage to film.
In the pilot episode, we meet John (John Wynn), a hard-luck accountant who quickly finds himself in a shit storm when he loses his job, fiancé, and car. Faced with limited options, he seeks employment as a day laborer, hanging outside of Home Depot. As an Asian-American who is often confused for a Mexican, the irony is quickly picked up by the deadpan Forest (Forrest Shaw), an independent contractor whose motto is "as long as you're not white, you can work for me."
Wynn joins Shaw's ragtag crew, featuring the absent-minded, sexually charged Kirk Meadows, and the silent-but-deadly Orlando Leyba. Bug-eyed and open mouthed, Wynn plays a fish out of water capably alongside the quick-witted and sarcastic Shaw. The foursome embark on an assortment of jobs for an array of colorful and wacky characters.
In episode one, the crew is hired by Lisa (Lisa Corrao) to clean out the bedroom of her grandfather -- a racist, Nazi hoarder. Corrao, reminiscent of an Italian Sarah Silverman, delivers perverted hilarity in the laugh-out-loud premier episode. In episode two, the crew is commissioned to build a nursery for an adulterous gay couple, played a little over the top by Daniel Reskin and Dave Williamson, who are expecting a child with a difficult and cranky surrogate mother.
Episode three should be a wild ride. It follows the crew as they try to build a recording studio for MC Skim Milk, a white rapper. Episode three of the series drops tomorrow.
In Labor Days, Wynn has created a platform for local talent to groom their on-screen personas. All the players are professional comedians who perform regularly at local Improvs in the Tri-county area. These players may not [quite] be ready for prime time, at least on film, but they are far from talentless on screen; Hollywood producers could be well-served mining these episodes for potential gold, while the players themselves should be proud to include this work in any relevant biography or reel.
We caught up with Wynn to talk about what's next for the series, pushing comedy boundaries, and the third episode, which drops tomorrow.
Cultist: John, how many episodes are you planning?
John Wynn: Planning on doing six episodes for this first season. After that, I'll re-evaluate continuing it.
Trying to pitch the series to any networks?
I submitted it to a couple of contests, one associated with Comedy Central and another with IFC. Other than that, I'm not sure what I'm doing with this thing.
How did you come up with the concept for Labor Days?
Growing up in Texas and living in Miami, I've been mistaken for being Mexican, so I wrote a joke about being picked up in a Home Depot parking lot. That idea is really what made me think that a show about a group of illegal immigrants could be funny.
How long does it take to produce one episode?
Each episode takes about three weeks to prep. Forrest Shaw writes the stories with me. I might develop the structure and come up with the last joke, but Forrest will tweak and add lots of the dialogue and make the script very snappy and punchy. We usually shoot an episode from two to four days depending on the episode. I take about two to three weeks to edit and sound design it and then it's online. The whole process is very collaborative, from working with my two producers to asking friends to screen episodes to see if they make sense. Kirk Meadows, Orlando Leyba, and Lisa Corrao (cast members and comics) have been so great as have all the comics we ask. Everyone has been tremendously supportive.
The quality is good.Are there any topics that are out-of-bounds or too soon?
No topics are out of bounds. Good comedy has to look at all facets of society and find a unique point of view about it. With the freedom of doing this show, no studio is telling us what to do. So no topic is out of bounds as long as it's funny.
Can you talk about the transition from stand-up to film?
Stand-up is harder. You're writing your own material and performing it. Writing for a series still has structure audiences have been accustomed to. So, from a writing standpoint it feels easier to write a film than a new joke. Stand up requires great vulnerability. You are alone. Just you, your delivery and hopefully your own jokes. Acting is easier because you get to practice take after take. [In] stand up, if you suck, you might not get seen again in front of the right people.
Can you tease future episodes? There's a total arc to the storyline.
Future episodes deal with John as he begins to come out of his depressed haze. He needs to decide to stay with Forrest and his crew or find a real job. The season finale will be grand.
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Quick -- one sentence pitch. Labor Days is ____ meets _____ .
Not sure. We're different because the majority of the cast is not Caucasian. It's really diverse and we're not afraid to poke fun of that. Think of how many network comedies have had a cast like this. Maybe Barney Miller? So, I think we're pretty unique and I hope people like it as much as we like making them.
Check out the Labor Days website. The next episode drops tomorrow.