Deadpan comedy is a style perhaps best known by comedians like Bob Newhart, Jim Gaffigan and Jemaine Clement. Film is a good medium for this style of comedy, but its popularity peaked in the days of Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle. BC film maker Joriah Goad has his creative sights set on deadpan humor.
Goad is currently working on a web series, titled “Botswana USA” about an African hotel overrun with white tourists. His plan for the series is six episodes, each of them running between six to eight minutes in length.
The first episode premiered on May 8 and is available to view any time on botswanausa.webs.com. The series focuses on two employees, completely burned out by their desk jobs at the Zulu Inn. The two of them become fed up with the cultural gap between themselves and the white tourists and decide to give them a slice of the real Botswana. Each episode will feature the guests of the hotel, with no two rooms having parallel stories.
The first episode, titled “Ring of Fire”, opens with the two employees pondering what to do with a gift that was given to them by one of the room occupants. “Where do you suppose that came from?” asks one of the clerks. “I didn’t ask. It was strange enough receiving it,” replies the other clerk. This opening sets the ambiance for the rest of the episode. The next scene involves two heroin addicted gay lovers giving one of the clerks another strange gift for bringing them their room service. It is two pieces of wood taped together like a cross. After accepting the gift the clerk says “This will look good in my front yard.”
It only gets stranger from there, with actors using the signature deadpan technique of restrained facial expressions, but you’ll have to watch it to get the rest.
“Botswana USA” features a varied cast. “I’ve been taking advantage of the student actors here at BC, which has really taken a lot of work load off my back.” Goad writes, directs, edits and does the cinematography. He has four years of experience in the film medium and has no plans of stopping any time soon. Anyone who is in charge of as much production as Goad, clearly has a creative vision that will be seen through to the end.
“I love the medium of film” says Goad, “I am especially influenced by modern French cinema, movies like ‘Amelie’ and ‘Delicatessen’ and other films by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.” Goad is also influenced by American independent film maker Jim Jarmusch, especially by his films “Down by Law” and “Mystery Train” and Swedish writer/director Ingmar Bergman and his film “Wild Strawberries”. Through all his love of film, he has reached a very different conclusion on the art of photography. “Photography is the death of an image,” says Goad.
The next installment of “Botswana USA” will air on May 22 at botswanausa.webs.com