Volume 93, Issue 100
Thursday, April 6, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Internet Slutts make leap to TV
Gazette file photo
By Matt Pearson
After brief stints as a cartoonist, juggler and cremator, Steven Westren has finally found his niche as the creator of Internet Slutts, a show debuting on the Comedy Network. It features, of all things, a talking penis.
The concept for the show came to Westren while he was working on a another project with Seinfeld alumnus Jason Alexander.
The project was not going very well and Westren was becoming somewhat anxious. "Little fairies brought it to me," he laughs. "The idea came from a night of anxiety and sleep deprivation."
The show's central premise revolves around two puppets Wally (the penis) and his sidekick Murk, who spend their time surfing the web and poking fun at what they find. Westren explains he chose puppets for many reasons. "Puppets can represent what people are really thinking inside, they're the only ones who can speak the truth."
According to Westren, Wally and Murk come from a more advanced species of puppets than the popular television host, Ed the Sock. "These puppets are way more high-brow," he says. "Wally has a university education and Murk has street smarts."
In his search for the perfect representation of Wally, Westren considered many different options before he settled on the headlining feature of the male anatomy. "I thought, 'What is the most ridiculous character we can come up with?'" But compared to Murk, Wally is still ridiculously tame. "[Murk] represents people in their early 20s who will basically try anything," Westren jokes. "He just likes getting hammered."
Internet Slutts is being touted as the world's first television/internet comedy. "It's the first show that we know of where web sites have been integrated into a plotline," he says. In order to avoid confrontations with web sites, Westren diligently obtained each site's permission. "We made sure each site signed a release so we have permission from these people, but a lot of them don't know what they're getting into," he warns.
Westren relies on a fairly experimental process to locate sites to examine under the microscope. "I would just make up [web site addresses] and see what happened," he offers. "I would type bizarre combinations of words into a search engine and the search engine would do its damnedest to accommodate me."
Westren seems prepared for a variance of reactions to the show, some of which will inevitably be negative, but the prospect doesn't bother him. "We'll get criticism from people who haven't watched the show and [from] people who are shocked by Michelangelo's David," he retorts. Still, Westren defends Wally categorically. "He's not a threatening penis," he jokes. "He's a friendly penis."
Despite reactions, Westren maintains that the Comedy Network is thoroughly supportive of projects such as Internet Slutts. "Our mandate with them is to go too far," he says, mentioning one episode in particular which will show both a pierced anus and penis.
At the end of the day, Westren finds humour in the lives of everyday people who cannot seem to get themselves together. "The funniest thing to me, is a loss of dignity somebody who has built themselves up for a huge fall, much like what happens to Frasier or [to] any of the characters on Seinfeld."
Internet Slutts debuts on The Comedy Network April 21 at 11:30 p.m..
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