Hi all! It’s time for #ComedyScribeMonday — a weekly Twitter chat where comedy writers gather in a supportive environment to share and expand their craft.
This week it’s Jake Song, creator of Misadventure By Death (@mbdpod), a delightful new comedy-horror podcast, as well as an actor and writer on the whimsical post-apocalyptic adventure series Jim Robbie and the Wanderers.
The Misadventure begins
Sean: Jake, can you give us a quick introduction to the show? To us it is comedy/horror/mystery show, but I’d love to know how you frame it.
Jake: Sure! MbD is a Southern Gothic supernatural horror/comedy podcast set in a Georgian manor in the Virginian Appalachian mountains. It follows Neil Hastbury-Rue, a nervous and genre-savvy groundskeeper, and his battle against ghosts and good ole Southern charm.
Eli: I always like to think of it as the Everybody Messes With Neil Show.
Jake: You’re not wrong LOL
Sean: I love the Southern charm bit! Now I want some sweet tea. How did you ever think to cast a British woman (Sarah Golding, @SarahofGolding) to play Priscilla? She’s marvellously perfect, by the way!
Jake: I didn’t, originally. I put out a casting call and she responded almost immediately. She asked me what I was looking for in the character, and I told her “Think Minerva McGonagall but Southern and also an asshole.”
She sent in a clip of her doing an immaculate McGonagall impression, then slid into Priscilla, and when I stopped screaming, I sent her back an email saying she was hired. What’s hilarious is that my coworker, who’s from the south, was convinced Sarah was also southern!
Sean: Misadventure by Death first jumped out at me for a few reasons. The main character was so lovably incompetent. It’s one of the great tools of comedy when the main character is so committed to his task no matter that he is clearly out of his depth.
Can you speak about where your idea for Neil came from? How is he suddenly in charge of a haunted mansion? And I’d love to know if that idea developed over time or was something you decided early on.
Jake: So, I’ve had the idea for MbD knocking around my head forever. I was a morbid kid (to the confusion of my parents), and obsessed with Disney, so the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney world is a direct influence on the show. Seems obvious now, right?
So as far as Neil goes, there’s a character on the Haunted Mansion ride who just kinda stands there, knees knocking together because he’s terrified of the ghosts, and you assume he’s the groundskeeper from his clothing. THAT was the inspiration for Neil.
Sean: This. Is. Priceless!
Sean: Another reason we wanted to interview you was because your world, at least to us, moves past out-dated “norms” of gender and relationships. What was it like to launch MbD into the world? Was it easy? Difficult?
Jake: Very easy! I’m going to knock on wood right now, but we’ve only received positive feedback from the queer and trans rep we’ve put into the show. Being a queer and trans man myself, I know the importance of having explicitly clear representation in media.
Sean: As a queer man, it is so awesome to hear that! Can you speak about what it feels like as a creator to see more rep in media happening? Or why this is so important?
Jake: Oh, it’s incredible. I bawled when One Day at a Time gave Elena a coming out story because it was so similar to mine (including the Quinceñera!).
As far as trans rep, I didn’t have any growing up. I didn’t even know it was a thing till I got to college and met actual trans people, and even then I felt very lost during my own transition.
So, my goal with creating shows is to inject them with as much normalized representation as I possibly can, in the hopes that at least one person will listen and learn that they’re not alone.
Eli: Episode 4 is the first by another writer, Hayden Epstein (@Biomazing). How do you divide up writing duties on MbD? Is there a series bible?
Jake: We currently have decided on writing two episodes in a row, then switching off and having the other person write two episodes. That way, we can resolve our own little mini-arcs and give the other person a break. And yes, there is a series bible!
Hayden and I sat down in his living room for like six hours and banged everything out. Of course, it’s still a living document! We left a few spaces so we’d have some wiggle room.
Hayden: We actually do have a story Bible, which we often throw out as we write. Then Jake and I smash our heads together and become one furious, pod-writing monster. Afterwards we all go out for drinks
Jake: A very visceral and completely truthful response tbh
Sean: I have to ask! Did Neil and Josie kiss off mic?!!?! Give us the scoop!
Jake: I personally don’t think they did, just by virtue of Neil being extremely clumsy LOL but the scene can be interpreted either way!
Eli: And somehow, whatever it was that happened, I’m betting he screamed.
Jake: He absolutely screamed.
Sean: I can’t believe our time is up already! Jake, please share how and where people can learn more about Misadventure by Death and what’s coming next.
Jake: Absolutely! Thank you for having us! Our website is still under construction but you can follow us here or on Tumblr at misadventurebydeath and you can also check out all the other Crossroad Stations shows at crossroadstations.com!
Sean: It was truly an honour to have you on, Jake. And we are looking forward to more Misadventure by Death in the weeks to come. And thank you SOO much for doing this!
Jake: Absolutely! Thanks for having us on! We’ve got some good good stuff planned for the near future!
We hope you’ll join us on Twitter for our next #ComedyScribeMonday—just about every Monday at 9am PT, noon ET and 1700 hours UTC (UK).