As any actor knows, breaking into show business can be incredibly difficult. However, with the advent of web series, countless undiscovered performers have the abilities to display their talents to a wide range of audiences, while potentially attracting the interest of entertainment industry gatekeepers.
Of course, the road to stardom is never a smooth one. For proof, look no further than actor/comedian Rich Keeble’s latest venture, the improvised comedy mockumentary RICH KEEBLE VANITY PROJECT. Written, produced and directed by Keeble, Sam LeGassick and Edd Wright, its second season of 6 episodes is now streaming on its official Youtube page (see additional links below).
Relying heavily on off-the-cuff, yet incredibly hilarious humor, RICH KEEBLE VANITY PROJECT follows the ongoing trials and tribulations of an up-and-coming actor (played in somewhat exaggerated form by Keeble) who will do just about anything to become a household name, no matter how humbling or humiliating his tasks might be.
The concept for this series, and the motivation to make it possible, came together rather simply, as Keeble remembers: “I messaged Edd and Sam on WhatsApp one day, and just said, “do you guys fancy making a show that I star in?” Sam said, “Okay. Can I be in it?” I said, “sure.” That was pretty much it. The original idea was to do something fun that didn’t take very long.”
Having starred with Luke Kaile in the comedy series ALL IN THE METHOD (previously covered on this blog), Keeble drew from his own career experiences to create his self-titled look at how reaching the top of the showbiz food chain can come with plenty of bizarre encounters, strange looks and messy misunderstandings.
Yet, he explains, viewers can expect a far wackier version of Keeble in each episode of his self-titled experimental comedy. “I think most things are based on your real life to an extent, but I’d like to think I’m a little more self-aware than he is! He’s a bit of an idiot, a bit of a perv, and he seems to think he’s way more talented and deserving than he is,” Keeble says.
Currently starring in commercials for discount money service TopCashBack, Keeble cites his recognition from those spots as one of the primary factors in the development of his self-titled new comedy series. Yet, he also uses it as a major source for comedy.
“In the show, my character is convinced people will recognize him from it, but they never do,” he says. “When we were doing the hidden camera stuff, it was perfect that nobody recognized me, even when I’m holding up a screen grab from the advert!”
While Keeble’s own created work has relied on strict adherence to a script, RICH KEEBLE VANITY PROJECT is the first time he’s employed the free-wheeling, always unpredictable improv style of comedy to a series he’s produced. That being said, Keeble is no stranger to that popular method of humor.
“This is the first of my own projects where there is actually no script,” he explains. “I did an improvised pilot for E4 (UK TV channel) a couple of years ago, and I did improvised hidden camera stuff on a TV show called FOOL BRITANNIA, but my own stuff has always been scripted (like my series with Luke Kaile, ALL IN THE METHOD, which you very kindly reviewed a few years ago!)”
Making it up on the fly was the name of the game for Keeble and his team as filming began for season 1. “Sam, Edd and I discussed what should generally happen in the episode, and what locations we need, then (we’d) just kind of turn up and work it out as we go. It meant the filming process was generally a lot of fun, and kept the performances natural, but it did make for a difficult edit,” says Keeble. “For season 1, it was even less prep. I just had some ideas on a piece of paper that Sam had commented on, and we filmed it all in my bedroom in a single day.”
While season 1 of RICH KEEBLE VANITY PROJECT was produced in a loose, spontaneous manner that befit the series’ storytelling approach, the production became more organized and structured for its second season.
“For series 2, we (Keeble, LeGassick and Wright) had a lot more discussion,” Keeble recalls. “The idea of it being a ‘behind the scenes’ self-referential thing came from someone (I can’t remember), and then, once the idea of it being about ways to raise his profile, we all threw ideas around for different scenarios.”
As production of season 2 commenced, Keeble, LeGassick and Wright combined their talents and ideas to make the 6 episode shoot an effective, yet memorable experience for all involved. “It was a nice, genuinely group effort, although naturally I’m pleased that one of my ideas (to do a stand up gig) turned out as one of the best episodes! Then, we roughly worked out the episode structure, knew where each scene needed to take us, and then we improvised the dialogue, quickly cutting and redoing a line if there was corpsing,” Keeble adds.
Even if you’ve never had to endure the long wait for a callback, and even if you’ve never had to suffer the indignity of playing roles you wish you could leave off your professional resume, RICH KEEBLE VANITY PROJECT’s edgy yet effective humor will definitely make you laugh – and in some cases, it may make you cringe a little, as well. Regardless, Keeble is proud of the work he and his cast and crew have accomplished, and he hopes viewers will feel the same.
“There’s still some dark, or childish, humor in there, and some moments you probably watch with your hand partially covering your eyes, but I genuinely think it’s a great piece of work that a lot of comedy fans will enjoy, and we’ve had some great feedback so far,” says Keeble, describing RICH KEEBLE VANITY PROJECT as a whole. “It helps that the guys did a great job filming and editing it. Anyone who says they don’t like it is probably jealous.”
(Note: The series is not currently closed-captioned or subtitled.)