What Are You…Chicken?

The Story Behind The Scenes

By Doug

Original Posting Date: May 5th 2010

To be honest, I’m not completely sure the order of events, but I know that from conception to creation, “What are You… Chicken?!” was a long time coming. After the extremely positive reception of “How to High Five and So Can You!” and the relatively lacklustre performance of “Leave my Presents”, I was eager to make a proper follow-up to my popular video. Actually, I think that the chicken script was written before “Leave My Presents”. I remember the line in my head that inspired the whole script: “A lesson as to why chicken is the most important food group.” And the script was built from there. Also, it’s worth noting that I have a strange love for humour revolving around chickens. I can’t fully explain it, but I think it might have been from a childhood of watching The Muppets and Animaniacs. I was always most fond of the Chicken Boo segments.

Something I learned about comedy is the absurdity curve and how if you spring into something completely ridiculous, it is nowhere near as funny if you first ground yourself in reality and slowly introduce the humourous false elements into the scene, slowly building up the ridiculousness. So, I start off with some facts, albeit exaggerated ones, when the narrator begins to tell Kenny about the nutrition of chicken. And then I thought that to really sell it, a fake history lesson would be in order. I thought this would be an interesting contrast to what I did in the High Fives short, where I inundate the audience with bogus science. A similarly bogus history lesson might just be as funny. Now the only question was… where was I going to get a giant chicken?

One of my earliest dates with my now-wife was constructing the chicken head that you see in the film. I tried to explain my vision to her, but once I began to see what she was making, I realized that my vision of Ian Jones with a hood and beak was far inferior to the design she was putting together. It was made of an ice cream bucket skeleton and an old thick pink shirt. My contribution to it was mostly the grunt work of painting the mask yellow (which ultimately isn’t seen in the sepia toned short anyway) and making the eyes, which were sort of the cherry on top of the mask. They look completely ridiculous and add that blank stare comedic touch which makes it work really well for me. But I definitely owe it to my wife for that wonderful mask which I think elevates this piece to one of our funniest, at least on a visual level.

And then… I went to film school. I had a costume and script and just had to sit on it while I worked on my education. However, the 2010 Winter Olympics came to town and as such, my college was closing down for the week. In some respects this was a nuisance, but it served as a great opportunity to shoot. So, I set a whole day aside to shoot with our crew and reoccurring cast members, Ian Jones, and Paul Partington who we grew quite fond of working with while shooting with him on “A Day in the Life of A Super Hero” and “Leave My Presents”. After Nathan and I did some final touch ups on the chicken shirt, we started shooting outside. I don’t know why my vision of early man was guys with vests and no shirts, and sunglasses, but it seemed to work. I guess it was because I didn’t have any loincloths, nor did I want to see Nathan in one.

The shoot went fairly well. Paul’s acting was so good that I thought at one point, he actually got whipped by Ian. I kept that shot. After the scenes with Ian as the chicken, we started shooting the other narrative parts, but suddenly my crew was jumping ship. Despite the fact that I set the day aside, Ian decided that it was time to play board games and took over the house before we were done. I was frustrated, but that’s what happens sometimes when you have a crew that you’re not paying. This is why in one of the scenes Daniel is outside suddenly, we couldn’t get them to be quiet inside. We got what we needed apart from a few other little shots like the evolution scene which I got later.

I went back to school and had to sit on the footage a little longer, but finally got it cut and posted in May. And I was pretty happy with the result and it still makes me laugh every time. While not as universally praised as “High Fives”, I have received a lot of positive feedback from “What Are You… Chicken?!” Some people have told me that it’s their favourite of our videos, at least at that time. I’m mostly just happy that I fulfilled my goal and put Ian in a chicken suit.

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