Rory Scovel’s first stand-up hour special, The Charleston Special, takes the comedian back home to familiar ground in South Carolina, but asks viewers to go somewhere new and different in Seeso, the new streaming Video On Demand subscription platform that went live yesterday.
Seeso is available online at Seeso.com or as an app for $3.99/month.
Helping launch a new comedy destination is a lot to ask, but Scovel has never been the kind of comedian to run from risk. In fact, much of his stand-up history and growth has come from experimentation and a determination to, as he told me a couple of years ago, “have the courage to fail.” In that 2014 conversation, Scovel also told The Comic’s Comic that “if you’re able to make a CD or a DVD or whatever in a way that you the artist enjoys and it convinces people to come out and see a live show, then that’s the best you can do. The live show without cameras or audio recording devices, in my opinion, is the absolute best the show can be.“
So what to make of this, his first full-length show committed to video?
Directed by Scott Moran and produced by Scovel with his closest friends, it opens like a dream in black-and-white, following the comedian around Charleston before heading inside the Woolfe Street Playhouse. Even there, onstage, the ambiance seems bathed almost in sepia tones; or rather, a Nashville filter on Instagram.
Scovel enjoys playing with the process as well as with our expectations for what a show should be, stopping at several times to note how the special might look and feel completely different for the viewers later than it did in the there and now for the live audience. At multiple points, he jokingly suggests alternate titles for his hour, and Moran gladly obliges with a cut to a newly revised title card. Upon a cue from Scovel, Moran inserts a “21 Minutes Later” frame, only to find Scovel sprawled on the floor, mid-joke. At another, Scovel takes the admission that “I’m at that age where I don’t really go out on a Thursday anymore,” then imagines the other days of the week engaged in a dialogue. “That’s how deep I’m willing to write my material. I’m willing to personify the emotions of the days of the week! Tuesday! We’re doing them all. We’re in too deep!”
“You guys stumbled into a one-man show.”
Albeit a one-man show that makes you ask: Does getting high really make chores go by easier? What would you do if you had to use the bathroom in a grocery store? How do you approach the left-turn green light at an intersection? Wait. Who is that other guy on the piano beside Scovel? And how did he really cut his finger?
That’s a question for a real comedy nerd to answer.
Scovel’s performance on Thursday night’s Conan includes five minutes of stand-up you won’t see in the Seeso special, including his thoughts on anal, Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ, Salt Lake City is white. Roll it.