My favourite thing I’ve ever put online was a video of a parody routine based on a show called Arrested Development. The routine was the result of a 12-month labour of love and a collaboration between about ten different people.
For those who don’t know, Arrested Development is a TV sitcom about a dysfunctional family business. It ran for three seasons before being cancelled, and is still one of the most brilliant and hilarious things ever created for TV.
One of the most famous characters on the show was George Oscar “GOB” Bluth II, who was essentially a collection of every negative magician stereotype rolled into one magnificently awful human being. He became something of a anti-hero among magicians and illusionists of the world, and was the reason I started watching the series in the first place.
It had become a running joke amongst many friends that someone should do a live parody act based on Gob’s atrocious magic act. There were a few things he did though – particularly his “Monopoly” trick that only appeared in the extended pilot epsiode (seen on the DVD box sets) – that would have been genuinely challenging to pull off live as opposed to in front of a TV camera.
In 2007, I won the Australian Society of Magicians annual competition for the fourth year in a row. Since I was now completely out of material, I agreed with my friend Dave Lee that if I entered it the following year I’d do so with the Gob parody that we’d always discussed. I’d have no chance of winning, but damn it’d be hilarious.
I spent the next 12 months thinking very hard about how best to channel Gob into a four minute routine. I ripped the various segments featuring him from my set of DVDs so that I could study his mannerisms and movements. I spent ages working out ways to make his illusions work live instead of on camera.
To cut a very, very long story short, we finally made it work. With the help of many friends (particularly Dave Lee, YC Lo, Yao Wong, Ashley Barnett, Nick Place, Phil Tascone, Ron Dorre and Adam Brooks) the moderately epic production came off without a hitch. There were a huge number of things that needed to happen for the routine to work properly, and everyone’s help was instrumental in making it a reality.
The video is below. If you’re not a big fan of Arrested Development, it almost certainly won’t make much sense to you. Every phrase and every moment in it is a direct reference to something from that wonderful TV show.
Yes. I rented a Segaway just for the act. That is dedication.
There has been one unexpected bonus of putting the video up online. While Youtube is a site where people’s comments on video tend to be pretty negative, nearly every comment on The Gob Act has been clearly from people who have really enjoyed it.
I really appreciate it when I occasionally find a hilarious video clip that brightens my day. It’s a genuinely great feeling to have created something that has had the same effect on a few tens of thousands of fellow Arrested Development fans around the world.