Mysterious spirits. A small apartment forever haunted by bad juju. Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan. As you read these words, you may wonder if I’m describing the latest music video by the longtime alt-rock mainstays. Wrong! They’re all part of the supernatural comedy series TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY, now airing its second season – 8 episodes in all – on its main website and YouTube hub (see links below).
Co-created by Michael Wolf and real life brothers Terence and Colin O’Brien, TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY co-stars the aforementioned trio as identical teen siblings Wolf, Terry and Colin. Left unprepared for life following the unsolved murders of their parents, these triplets decide to leave the humble boundaries of flyover country for the uncharted territory of Kings County, New York.
Once they arrive there, the boys are suddenly confronted by phantasms, poltergeists and paranormal activity of all varieties. Having failed to lure guests to their housewarming party, an annoying ghost named Edward (played by Brandon Gulya) ends up taking permanent residence in their new apartment. Now, Wolf, Terry and Colin now have to deal with all that goes bump in every minute of their lives.
There’s also the matters of finding out who killed their parents, and of successfully accomplishing that other big thing called “growing up”.
On that subject, Terry happens to be the “father” to Billy Corgan (played in TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY by Anthony Apruzzese). How he actually was brought into the world, though, is a story you’ll have to watch to believe. Did I mention that he’s also a vampire?
While comedy remains the most popular genre of online content, not all shows have given viewers reason to laugh, nor have they been distinguishable from each other. TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY’s co-stars aimed to make a series where wacky humor, hilarious characters and spooky situations come together in an overwhelmingly spectacular package.
“We were inspired to make the show because of the great comedy we watched and loved on TV and movies, and the lack of that comedy online,” they say. “There’s a lot of great web stuff, but especially in 2013, when we started season 1, everything online looked kind of the same. We wanted to take more risks, and go weirder, and tell bigger stories!”
In the same place that played host to the failed housewarming party depicted in TRIPLETS’ first episode, Wolf, Colin and Terence O’Brien met to concoct the show’s big time concept. “Originally, we were sitting in Terry’s backyard in front of a big beautiful blue wall, and (we) were trying to think of ideas,” they remember. “We thought, “hey, with a couple of strings of lights, this wall would look really cool,” so we planned a party scene and added a twist and then worked backwards from there. It was our blue period.”
In addition to performing live at New York’s famed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the show’s creators produced and starred in several videos for MTV, Comedy Central and Above Average. Together, Wolf and the O’Briens combined their acting and filmmaking skills to make TRIPLETS possible, Familiar with the demands of both mediums, the troika also confronted the challenges of making a show where the play unfolds before billions of viewers on screens big and small.
“Every new project requires a distinct set of skills or expertise, and the more writing and performing you do, the larger well you have to pull from. Performing on stage is fantastic because you have an audience immediately responding to you – as opposed to performing for film where the crew has to be quiet, and it’s months before the final project comes together. We think TRIPLETS sort of required a little bit of everything.”
As they define it, “a little bit of everything” meant thoroughly preparing scripts for the series, meticulously designing every part of filming, and making sure that the final product met their high standards. Speaking of high standards, TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY’s latest adventures look and sound even better than the episodes viewers enjoyed in season 1. On that subject, Wolf and the O’Briens single out two members of its production team for praise.
“Season 2 is on a whole new level. We had a director (Nick Ray McCann) and DP (director of photography Nelson Mestril) who worked with us from the beginning, as opposed to season 1 where it was not as consistent,” the show’s creators recall. “This helped us to develop a distinct visual style and make the season feel like a true series – in the sense that it builds to something and that there are threads throughout every episode.”
Dedicating themselves to presenting a well-rounded story experience are TRIPLETS’ creators. Throughout season 2, that dedication took on greater meaning for Wolf and the O’Briens. “Even though our episodes are longer than a typical YouTube series, we think they move very quickly because we tell a full story (sometimes 2) in 10 minutes. It’s not just a singular joke or concept stretched out – it’s a full hero’s journey….times three. We also borrowed more from horror and sci-fi tropes this season – so fans of those genres will have a lot to enjoy.”
While season 1’s production style was looser and less structured, McCann and Mestril helped TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY’s three headliners bring organization to season 2. “This season, we gave ourselves a lot more pre-production time, and planned out our shots and locations and tricky scenes instead of just figuring it out on the day,” the series’ creators remark.
In their search for the remaining players in TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY’s company, Wolf and the O’Briens didn’t have far to go. “Most of our cast is made up of New York’s best comedians, people we’ve worked with or done shows with,” they say. “We were really lucky to get to work with all of them especially because every year they get more famous and harder to book, (including) a lot of people we know from UCB.”
For TRIPLETS’ creators, another casting resource was found behind the scenes. “Our associate producer Austin Bening also helped us cast because he knew a lot of great actors from other films and projects he’d worked on,” Wolf and the O’Briens reply. “We were really grateful for that source – especially for roles that needed a certain type beyond what was at our disposal.”
Guided by their experience in performing and creating their own comedic excursions, the people behind TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY shared the gift of collaboration with the entirety of their cast and crew. “We didn’t have a ton of resources, but we tried to make TRIPLETS a creative and collaborative environment where everyone involved (from actors to sound mixers) felt valued and able to add their voice.”
With their hard work now visible to the world, TRIPLETS’ creative team is proud of how the show has matured in its second season. “Artistically, we’ve been able to achieve our goals with this season,” they respond. “It’s really incredible to watch these back and see how much we were able to bring to life.”
Wolf and the O’Briens have even more ambitious plans for their show. “In the future, we’d like to go bigger with the visual humor and world – more monsters, crazier locations, puppets, practical effects, insane camera moves – as well as more ambitious writing – stories that really explore these characters (like this season does with Edward the Ghost) and plots that challenge the established world of the series.”
Melding frights with folly, TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY is clearly one of the web’s most imaginative comedies. It’s a series that can be best described by using another F word: fun. “It’s a very silly show that isn’t cynical, but (it) can get a little dark,” TRIPLETS’ co-stars/co-creators explain. “Nobody really wins. Nobody ever really learns a lesson. Don’t be dumb, I guess? Is that a lesson? Yeah, don’t be dumb. I think the overall theme would be, ‘this is dumb.”
NOTE: Regarding closed-captioning of TRIPLETS OF KINGS COUNTY, Wolf and the O’Briens say: “Currently there isn’t closed-captioning or subtitles (for the show), but it’s something we’re looking into since YouTube and Facebook have been making it easier.”