A Day In The Life: A History

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Me and Matt were five days from high school graduation.

I’m not really sure where this stupid idea originated from, but it started as an MTV Cribs spoof. By June 2010, Cribs was on its last leg, showcasing the homes of people like Criss Angel and Perez Hilton. I’m not sure why I thought it would’ve been funny or timely to spoof Cribs. Either way, Matt and I set off on this insane Cribs parody starring a socially-crippled version of myself. I did hilarious stuff like smear toothpaste all over my face and stand in my boxers on camera. It was a beautiful disaster.

The video has no storyline and exists most prominently in my mind as the one where Matt is chomping gum into the microphone between giggles. The audio is so bad because I had to cover up all the noise Matt was making. Production issues aside, it was painfully unfunny. If it weren’t for nostalgia, I couldn’t even watch this. After shooting that episode and thinking we were absolutely hilarious, we decided to do a full web series. We’d chronicle a fictionalized version of myself, my search for true love, and my Hollywood quest for glory. Matt would tag along as my best friend who constantly bashed me for my ridiculous antics.

A Day In The Life was born.

Like most stupid ideas I have, I brought it to fruition and worked on it until I wasn’t sure if I was even joking anymore. Blurring the lines between Yeah we’re totally kidding and This is hilarious to me and I wanna keep doing it is the best. A Day In The Life was the ultimate representation of that blurred line. (Matt and I were good at these. We once recorded an R&B song making fun of a certain friend’s creepy antics with girls.)

The Cribs spoof — despite having absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the series — served as the pilot episode: “My Humble Abode.” The lone crumb of plot we liked and decided to play with was the script for The Insulin Crowd (a diabetes-based movie idea which would eventually make a reappearance in the Season 2 premiere). Fortunately for our legions of adoring fans, we quickly hit our stride in the second episode, and series-long storylines like my relationship with Steven Spielberg were set into motion.

Episode 3, “Wilderness Man”, spawned my favorite story arc of the whole series. In an attempt to show off his wilderness skills, my character drags Matt into the Cleveland Metroparks. Obviously things go awry, because shocking twists aren’t our forte. The episode opens with me and Matt easing our way down a muddy hill, which marks the closest we came to death while shooting ADITL. I wish I had it on video, because Matt did a dead sprint down a steep muddy hill, through the woods, towards a rocky river. The only reason the camera wasn’t recording is because he landed on top of it when he fell.

The nervous, prepubescent laughing you hear from Matt as I slide around on my butt is because he had just escaped death seconds earlier. That is not hyperbole. I was mentally preparing a phone call to 911 when Matt heroically took a tree right between the legs, stopping him before he hit rocks or water. We dodged a bullet on that one. Matt’s future children may not have.

In addition to overwrought themes like being naked on camera and putting gross things into my mouth, A Day In The Life also had heart. This showed a lot more in Season 2, when we decided to plunge my character to new, pathetic lows.

I struggle to find funding for my movie, try to sing my way into Hollywood, and burn my hand in a toaster before eventually escaping to the woods again. Season 2′s wilderness arc ends in “Brush With Death”, where Matt swoops into save me from drowning in Chippewa Creek. It had been a cold spring, and the temperate was in the 60s that day. That water was absolutely freezing. There’s an awkward cut after Matt hit the water because he had to catch his breath before he could get his lines out. The story called for me to feign drowning, but reality wasn’t far off. I was gasping for air and my legs had started to cramp up from treading cold water by the time we actually got the shot.

It’s crazy how 90% of the series was just me and Matt, both shooting and “acting”. We tried to cram guest appearances into the show on multiple occasions, but the only character to ever stick was Dave Blaze. Everyone else was either uncomfortable on camera or just unfunny. Dave Blaze was perfect. We could’ve easily done a spin-off series. The first Dave Blaze episode (Season 2, Episode 5, “Ghost Slayer”) was easily the longest we ever made. We ended up cutting a lot of the things we shot, or else that episode really could’ve been over 15 minutes long.

Coming back for Season 3 was a good idea. I was finally in college at that point, and we had finished Season 2 more than two years before. We had to come back for one last round, but it meant shooting the entire thing over Christmas break, crammed in around everyone’s schedules. I’m pretty sure we filmed the entire thing in two days. The first two episodes in one day, and the other four episodes on the second day.

Something about Season 3 broke me. Matt used to be the one to laugh in the middle of a scene in ruin it. Season 3 had me laughing through everything. I lost my edge in the two year break. Because of the tight production schedule, we actually had to put planning into everything. As such, the story is actually relatively funny. It’s probably not really very funny, but it was enough to ruin me.

I think “Butt Ghost” is the consensus favorite ADITL episode by those involved with the show. That was so hard to shoot. It’s one of the few episodes I can go back and watch where the jokes still make me laugh. That was probably our boldest episode as far as “writing” goes. I’m pretty sure we had to rework a few lines that took things a little too far. The whole episode just got progressively more absurd as we made it up.

There was a scene in the middle of “Anchormatt” that we had to re-shoot so many times that it started to make me angry. Eventually I just decided to shoot the scene without making eye contact with Matt, because I kept breaking as soon as I looked at him after delivering lines. Most early episodes took one try, maybe two, to get right. To say we shot that scene 15 times would not be an exaggeration.

The lone time I remember someone other than me ruining a shot in Season 3 was in the premiere episode. We made a huge bucket of fake blood and I sat in the snow wearing shorts and a t-shirt and Matt flung it all over me. Instant chaos. I was freezing cold and now covered in some gross watery ketchup concoction and Matt and Dave took a good five minutes to calm down before we could finish the scene.

When it came time to end the show, we had a plan to do it right. Like most good plans, it got derailed. We got halfway through shooting the finale and whatever camera we were using just gave up, deleting all the footage. It was our last day to shoot, we were tired, and the sun was setting, so we slopped together an abbreviated version of the final episode using two different iPhones. The series probably deserved a better ending, but I almost feel like some improvised ending we made in 15 minutes was a fitting end to a series that was 90% something we made up on the spot.

The series ended up lasting three and a half years, three seasons, and 18 episodes. 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 50 seconds of glory. We also made a parkour movie and did one LIVE season (complete with accompanying live skits) at Frontlines Summer Camp.

I’m still not sure if I did it as one big joke or if I was really trying to entertain people, but it was definitely something. People still bring it up, so I guess at least a few people enjoyed it. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a Cribs spoof. And whatever it was, A Day In The Life endures.