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Sketch-Comedy Show, "The Men's Room," Wins Top Honor & Big Laughs at This Year's Annual Independent Television and Film (ITV) Festival

Independent Television Producer, Michael Wilson, receives "Best Television Comedy" honor for his latest television series, "The Men's Room," at the 8th Annual ITV Fest.

 

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New York, NY (PRWEB) -- With many of this year's festival spectators likening the project to some of the funniest years of “Saturday Night Live” and “MadTv,” “The Men's Room,” an ensemble-based sketch-comedy show, created a lot of buzz and took home the ITV Festival's top honor of "Best Television Comedy" this past weekend in West Dover, Vermont.

Ironically the show's Creator and Executive Producer, Michael Wilson, happens to have very close ties to one of those noted productions, as his father, Dave Wilson, was the man behind the cameras for the first 20 years as the original Director of “Saturday Night Live.” "To say that I grew up on the set of SNL could be accurate,” noted Wilson. “As it was certainly a very big part of my childhood, and although the 'The Men's Room' isn't the first sketch-comedy show I've produced, it certainly has been the one that has brought back the most memories of my experiences as a kid around SNL.”

The Men's Room” truly features a multi-talented cast of nine gifted performers, but perhaps adding to Wilson's nostalgia is the inclusion of cast member, Robert Belushi, whose father, Jim, and late uncle, John, were both series regulars at SNL. “Yes, it was certainly a 'rack-focus' moment when Robert came in to audition for the show,” Wilson added. “As I was actually working on SNL when his father Jimmy was a cast member, and his uncle John was like a big brother to me growing up."

Cast Members: Mark Gagliardi & Robert Belushi

Photo Credit: Atoz Productions, Inc.

 

During the project's Q&A session with both Wilson and cast members Sitara Falcon & Cooper Barnes, Wilson shared that although the production was making its official debut at the ITV Festival this year, they've currently been presenting the series to potential broadcasters and are most excited about discussions with the Tribune Station Group, placing the series in their late-night lineup on Saturday nights.

The series stars Cooper Barnes, T'Shaun Barrett, Scott Beehner, Robert Belushi, Sitara Falcon, Mark Gagliardi, Marta McGonagle, Jo Newman, Bruce Wexler, and was created by and executive produced by veteran sketch- comedy, and Emmy-nominated television producer Michael Wilson, whose credits include "Saturday Night Live" and "Politically Incorrect."

For a short time the pilot episode can currently be screened at the production's website: Themensroomtv.com.


 
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CHICAGO – We’re doing something we've never done before at HollywoodChicago.com — reviewing a TV show that isn't on the air… yet. Acclaimed producer Michael Wilson, a veteran of TV comedy from years working on “Saturday Night Live,” “Politically Incorrect,” and “Burn Notice,” is shopping a pilot for a new sketch comedy series called “The Men’s Room” and was kind enough to grant us access to a copy. As I work my way through the dozens of new shows that the networks have deemed worthy of spots on their Fall schedules, it’s interesting to see something at this stage of the process, before it’s been given a green light. I use the word “before” because I’m pretty confident that a network will pick it up. They’d be stupid not to given the fact that it’s better than half of the shows already given a time slot and a network.

"THE MEN'S ROOM" Photo Credit: Atoz Productions, Inc.    

"THE MEN'S ROOM"

Photo Credit: Atoz Productions, Inc.

 

 

Sketch comedy is a tough racket. I've seen dozens of horrendous ones over the years and it’s difficult to put a finger on exactly why one works while another bombs. I think it’s a lot like seeing improv comedy at a place like Second City in that so much of the success or failure comes down to the people on stage that night. Think about the best years of “SNL” versus the worst ones — they’re usually delineated by who was in the cast. Or the amazingly smart group of men who became “The Kids in the Hall.” It’s about finding the right people, comedians who can deliver material with confidence, perfect timing, and inspired senses of humor. Wilson and the team behind “The Men’s Room” found the right people.

Wilson plucked the cast of “The Men’s Room” from the right places — talent factories like Second City and The Groundlings — and their experience elevates the show from the first sketch. The fact that the show is generally built around guy-centric concept means that the ensemble is driven by men but there are a pair of very talented women (Jo Newman & Marta McGonagle) who more than hold their own in the timing department. The boys in this “Men’s Room” include Robert Belushi (relative of the legendary John and Jim), Scott Beehner, Cooper Barnes, Sitara Falcon, T’Shaun Barret, Bruce Wexler, and Mark Gagliardi.

THE CAST OF "THE MEN'S ROOM"

Photo Credit: Atoz Productions, Inc.

This is key — there’s not a weak comedian in the group. Sketch comedy shows are often only as strong as their least talented performer. If it feels like someone hasn't elevated their game as much as their co-stars, they stand out like a sore thumb and can kill the timing of a scene. Improvisational comedy is a team sport and sketch comedy is the closest thing on TV to replicating that experience outside of a club. The cast of “The Men’s Room” is the best thing about it.

To be balanced, the writing could use a bit of work, especially in the first few sketches, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sketch comedy show that was clicking on all cylinders right from the very first episode. It’s about getting the right elements in place and, by the end of the pilot for “The Men’s Room” (the show ends with its strongest two sketches, a great bit about two guys trying to pick up women at a widow’s support meeting and another about a Cheesecake Factory that might be a threesome set-up joint) I was convinced that any problems here could be worked out in just a few episodes. Tighten some of the timing in the writing (the first post-credits sketch goes on way too long, for example) and just watch the cast continue to grow as they get more and more comfortable with each other.

So where should “The Men’s Room” end up? With its testosterone-heavy concept, Spike TV seems like an obvious choice but I think TBS would make a perfect fit. The network has been expanding its original comedy base with shows like “Men at Work” and “Sullivan & Son,” comedies that appeal primarily to a male demographic. Comedy Central makes a natural fit as well or maybe FX once they give up on Charlie Sheen or Russell Brand.

The point is that there are multiple networks that could see their line-ups improved with a trip to “The Men’s Room.”

“The Men’s Room” stars Robert Belushi, Scott Beehner, Cooper Barnes, Sitara Falcon, T’Shaun Barret, Bruce Wexler, Mark Gagliardi, Jo Newman, and Marta McGonagle.

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By:  BRIAN TALLERICO

Content Director, HollywoodChicago.com