Thursday, April 11, 2013

Comedian's of the Week: Ryan Hoffman and Nick Ruggia

Nick Ruggia and Ryan Hoffman are two of the funniest cats I know. Hardworking and talented, they are starting to make a name for themselves. Their short film, You're Not That Crazy, was recently accepted into the Friar's Club Film Festival and won The Audience Appreciation Award. I have had the pleasure of not only working with Nick Ruggia in the past through the now defunct Shovio, but also going to college with Ryan Hoffman and seeing these guys grow. They were kind enough to do an interview with me before they purchase a McMansion and forget my name.
Nick and Ryan at the Friar's Club Film Festival ready to make comedy magic

1. What inspired you to write and shoot You're Not That Crazy?
Nick: Ryan and I both have the mental disorders that our characters in the movie have, and we actually do make fun of each other's illnesses and insinuate that the other one doesn't have it that badly. People we love saw us doing it in our writer's sessions and told us it was very funny. And some of our friends who are way more mentally ill than either of us are told us that they had seen people trying to prove that they were the sickest person in the room at psychiatric hospitals they had been in. But on another level, my deep desires for approval and acceptance probably inspired me to shoot You're Not That Crazy.

Ryan: Nick figured out fairly quickly that the only way to knock me out of a depression cycle was to roast me out of it. I think that's how it all started. When I began firing back at Nick for similar reasons, I used a style of mockery that a character from Commedia Dell'Arte (Pucinella) made famous, which is "the becoming". When a person roasts or insults others, he or she generally fires their barbs from a second person perspective, i.e. to use the old reliable, "You're so fat, when you sit on a rainbow skittles pop out." In the becoming, I take on your disorders and make fun of myself for it right in front of you. For example a line from the film when the character Annie makes fun of my character, Linnea Sage goes full boar and breaks down crying while delivering the line, "I'm so depressed. Ten years ago, my girlfriend wouldn't sign my yearbook and I'm still not over it." When we started writing it, my girlfriend was laughing in the background, and everyone generally agreed we were onto something. It seemed like a no doubter to make.
2. When shooting You're Not That Crazy, what were some of your favorite moments in shooting?

Nick: Watching Greer Barnes work is an absolute joy. That man takes average dialogue and turns it into stellar dialogue with his performances. Every human being on the planet who makes movies should do whatever it takes to get him in their films.

Ryan: Watching Greer was definitely a treat. I was also really excited and impressed with the character development of Eugene Michael Santiago, who plays the schizophrenic in the film. He's only on screen for about twenty seconds, but there is easily five to ten minutes of him on the cutting room floor that was really special, but unfortunately didn't get a chance to make it into the film. He really puts a nice button on the whole thing. That struggle he has with Jonathan Wexler (the Orderly) at the end was really fun filming.
3. When shooting You're Not That Crazy, what were some of the challenges you came up against?

Nick: You're Not That Crazy is one of four sketches from a pilot we shot. Raising the money to make the pilot on Kickstarter was very stressful. Obviously, you raise all the money or you don't get any of the money. And we were very nervous that we would not get any money and would have to find another way to make this project happen.

Ryan: Editing. It took us three or four tries to get an editor who got what we were going for, and we were really fortunate to find Steve W. Thompson, who, in my and Nick's opinion was the best thing to ever happen to us. Also, I was pretty adamant in having Jason Sokoloff direct the pilot, and he's a working director. His schedule just mandated that we push filming back a few times, but it was totally worth it.

4. New York Comedy Vet Greer Barnes made an appearance, how did that happen?

Nick: He's friendly with Ryan, and apparently he had been watching our videos and wanted to work with us. Which is absolutely crazy. We both think he's as good as anyone working today.
L to R: Ryan Hoffman (co-writer, co-producer, Eddie), Kaelin Birkenhead (Jessica), Jon Wexler (Orderly), Nick Ruggia (co-writer, co-producer, James), and Jason Sokoloff (director) pose Saturday April 6th at the Dolby Screening room for the World Premier of You're Not That Crazy for the Friar's Club Film Festival

Ryan: I have no idea how I became friends with Greer Barnes. I think my friend Upa introduced us, but we got along instantly. We were out at the bar one night and he suddenly turns to me and says, "When am I gonna be in one of your videos?" I said, "I had no idea you would even want to be in one of our videos. You're welcome any time." And that was that.
5. How did your short get into The Friars Club Film Festival?

Nick: We applied to the festival, didn't think twice about it, and then found out we got in. Also Ryan has gotten into some pretty powerful black magic. And I paid a gypsy to curse the people that would have made the 500 best comedy shorts in America last year.

Ryan: I'm always a little nervous when Nick brings up my black magic, because dealing with the Devil is always a tricky business, and when people do it wrong they generally lose their soul and their house in the foreclosure crisis, and I don't like having that responsibility.

6. Aside from You're Not That Crazy you perform standup. Where can we see you?

Nick: I run a show with Phil Burke called Destroy All Humans on the third Friday of every month at The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City. Aside from that, friend us on Facebook. Like Temple Horses on Facebook and follow @TempleHorses on Twitter. We're frequently on awesome alt shows all over the city. 

Ryan: Book me. I'll be there.
7. Where can we find out more about Temple Horses?

Nick: Twitter: @TempleHorses, @NickRuggia, @NewYorkCreator. Facebook: Like Temple Horses. YouTube: Subscribe to Or you can just go to our website, a lot.

8. What is next on the horizon for you?

Nick: We're shopping our sketch pilot right now. There has been some interest, and we hope that this award and some of the other things that have been happening for us help cook up more of that. And we're currently in the beginning stages of trying to make our first feature film.

Nick and Ryan accept the Audience Appreciation Award and yes, they gave a speech ;)

Ryan: Trying to stay off unemployment.
9. What is your astrological sign?

Nick: I'm a Cancer. Ryan's a dickhead.

Ryan: I'm an Aquarius. Nick's a leech.
10. What do you eat for breakfast?

Ryan: Honey Nut Cheerios with yogurt. 
Nick: My medication.

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