“We’ve all lived the life. We’re not proud of it. We’re not ashamed of it. We’re just presenting it,” Bill Burr tells me during a recent chat I had with him, Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa about their new short film, Cheat, which debuted at the TriBeCa Film Festival recently.
He continues, “Joe was in a situation, it was basically the situation that we show in the movie.”
As to not give away the first joke of this funny film, the program of the TriBeCa Film Festival describes it best: “Three friends try to pull off the ultimate heist.”
We open with Burr, DeRosa and Kelly, who also served as the three writers of the film, in a diner trying to figure out where the plan went wrong. Then in Tarantino-fashion, the flick shifts to flashback mode. Robert and Joe visit Bill’s apartment where Bill, who plays a Mr. Wolfe-esque problem solver, helps create a detailed plan that, if executed with precision, should keep Joe from getting caught.
The story jumps back and forth between Burr and Kelly’s orders and Joe’s execution thereof. Everything seems to go according to plan– until the trio discover a variable they never accounted for. For the viewer, it’s a hilarious turn of events.
The three friends put up the money themselves to produce the movie and cast whom they pleased. The 16-minute film is filled with cameos by great stand-ups like Colin Quinn, Rich Vos and Bonnie MacFarlane. There were no executives giving them notes on what was “too edgy” or non-commercial.
DeRosa opted to direct and, although at times it’s clear the actors are stand-up comedians, the hilarious dialogue and improvised lines keep the attention on the ridiculous yet nefarious plot.
Cheat is a great example of what can be done by creative people when they bypass the power structure of the entertainment industry. “We never do anything. We’re always just sitting around waiting to become famous on our own or get some deal, then help each other out and do an Adam Sandler-type of thing. But it was like, ‘Fuck it. Let’s just do it. Let’s just do something together,” Kelly says.
In a new technological age, the power structure has changed. Burr claims the young generation of comics can control their own destiny since YouTube has completely changed the landscape of distribution. Anyone can make a movie with an affordable video camera and a laptop.
So what’s next for Cheat? It’ll screen in June at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Chicago and then in July at Just For Laughs in Montreal, where the trio will also perform “Cheat Live,” an hour of stand-up and storytelling related to the devious affairs showcased in the film.
Cheat has also been submitted to other festivals so keep your eyes open for the movie that the creators describe as Speed 2 meets Meatballs! If you can’t catch the flick in theaters, there’s a chance that a Cheat DVD could become available in connection to another project from the trio in the winter of 2012.
Let’s watch the trailer!
Here’s some bonus info on the creators:
Burr hosts a weekly podcast, The Monday Morning Podcast where he answers emails and vents his frustration with a variety of hockey teams. It’s free and available on iTunes.
Robert Kelly also records his own podcast called, You Know What Duuude!, where he discusses a variety of topics and vents his frustrations. Score! This one is also free and available on iTunes.
Joe DeRosa’s debut comedy album, The Depression Auction, was chosen by Punchline Magazine (that’s us) as one of the 10 best comedy albums of 2010 and is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.