Where did the idea for The Nick White Show come from?
I spent a lot of 2020 trying to bust myself out of a creative drought I’d been in for a couple years. Towards the end of it I found myself getting nostalgic for a couple scenes I missed from when I lived in Vancouver: my music pals and my comedy pals.
I started trying to think of a comedy show I could do that couldn’t be cock-blocked by Karens and lockdowns, which meant it would have to be a one troll-woman show. And one morning I had the vision that became Richard and Betty: two one-time flames who grew to hate each other but were brought together by circumstances to work next door to each other (Richard in a recording studio and Betty in the titty bar next door where Richard hangs out).
Then a vision of the aging rock star who owns the studio, Nick, came barrelling in like a drunk driver plowing over pedestrians and he took the whole thing over and made it all about himself.
Why did you choose to shoot it with dolls?
I needed a way to do the show without needing to worry about a human cast, both because I didn’t know how long the lockdowns would drag on and because I had no budget to pay anyone or to rent studios etc. Plus I no longer lived in Vancouver where I could have maybe begged and guilt-tripped to get studio access or get my friends to be the cast.
I debated animation but I figured I didn’t have time to learn how to do that. Instead, I had the notion to set it up like a 3D comic book with dolls in tableaus and voice-overs.
I had 3 of the dolls (Nick, Atlanta, and Betty) kicking around from some project I never actually got around to almost 10 years ago and then started rapidly acquiring more “cast members” and frankly at this point it might have been cheaper and certainly quicker to have done animation, but meh. We’re good… and there’s a certain creepiness to using dolls which I think adds to the sleaze factor of the stories.
How do you make the shows?
It starts with a script, of course. Then I track the voice-overs for each character and make sure the timing lines up and add any sound effects or background music as needed. Then I make a shot list with half-assed thumbnails (like a storyboard but not as professional) and list any new props or sets I need to make and get them ready. Then I listen to the audio track as I go through the shot list and note how long each shot must be to match.
Then I just work down the list, setting up the overall tableau and (re-)positioning the cast and shoot it. Then I bring it into Final Cut and start assembling it all and hope for the best.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Faking movement. I get by with a lot of quick edits and some pans and zooms can help a bit, as well as the flashing lights for the boobie bar scenes but the show is definitely stylized out of necessity.
I guess that gives it some of its weirdo charm, too.
What have you learned so far from the show?
I was never a sculptor or much of a 3D artist before, in fact, the closest I’d come to 3D art is sewing and knitting. Well… I guess I took pottery classes as a kid and built weird sculptures then, but that was a long time ago, and wheel-throwing bowls in an adult pottery class a number of years back didn’t really prep me for working with polymer clay at all. But anyway… making the sets and props has forced me to think in a whole new way and learn new mediums.
I’ve also had to learn how to disguise my voice better. I did some cartoony voices before when I was doing The Zamo the Destroyer Show, but had to develop a much wider range for the characters on this show. In related news, I also learned how to screw with my voice in Pro Tools better to distinguish the characters, especially the menfolk.
Why does Nick’s English accent sound so fake? Ditto Pádraig’s?
Well, you have to understand that Nick’s accent is fake even within the world of the show. He grew up on the West Coast and started faking the English accent to get chicks back in high school in the ’70s and can’t be arsed to nail down a single identifiable or realistic English accent.
Pádraig sounds like a cartoon leprechaun because… well, let’s just say we don’t know exactly where his lunatic mother has been and maybe he actually is part cartoon leprechaun.
I mean, it’s not because I suck at doing accents and solidified their voices before bothering to do basic research on dialects or anything. Certainly not.
If you had unlimited resources, what would you do differently?
Move to Florida and hire pool boys to fan me, fetch me pizza and drinks, and shoo away the gators as I write new episodes in the shade of a poolside cabana.
I mean, if I made any changes to the show, it just wouldn’t be the same show. Maybe it would be better, I dunno, but it wouldn’t be the same.
That said, it would be kinda funny to do live action movie of the show starring Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran as Nick… just so long as he remembered to not use his normal speaking voice but instead use the ridiculous overly dramatic voice he uses when shilling merch in the following clip:
And then at the end we’re back to the dolls and Nick wakes up hungover on his office floor and starts yelling at Sally to come quick because he had the weirdest dream where he was in an alternative reality with extra dimensions…
(Yeah, I know, the Simpsons did that gag already. They’ve done every gag already.)
So… who’s Nick based off of?
According to the show’s disclaimer, no one. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
But basically he’s a Frankenstein’s monster of bits and pieces of stories I’ve heard over the years of rock n roll debauchery mixed with aristocratic pretensions.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Well, I’ve never met a vicious rumor or salacious bit of backstage gossip that didn’t make me giggle in delight, so there’s that. But also, I get ideas from all sorts of odd places. For example, going down a couple of YouTube rabbit holes about polymer clay sculpture and ancient Greek mythology gave me an idea for a future episode wherein Nick commissions a statue of himself as a Greco-Roman god (which of course doesn’t turn out as he hoped).
And at a certain point you just let the characters tell you what sort of stupid crap they want to do.
Why rock stars?
I dunno. Why is the sky blue? Some of my friends are obsessed with comics, some are obsessed with movies… I’ve been a rock fan as long as I can remember and used to spend my allowance on cassettes and copies of Metal Edge and RIP and Circus.
At this point it seems I’m never gonna wise up and outgrow it, so I might as well make something of it.
Er, I meant to say something profound about the role of celebrity culture and fandom in our failing society as a substitute for traditional religiosity or something like that. Yeah. That’s what I meant.
Who are your influences?
Comedy: Joan Rivers, South Park, This Is Spinal Tap, Married With Children, Mel Brooks, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and some old CanCon comedy shows like Puppets Who Kill, Kevin Spencer, and Internet Slutts.
Music: I grew up on ’80s hair metal sleaze rock, so stuff like Mötley Crüe, Guns N Roses, Faster Pussycat, Hanoi Rocks, etc. But I also love old INXS, Duran Duran, ’90s-era Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And more recently I’ve gotten into U2 as well. (Don’t tell Nick!)
Any complaints from any of the rock stars skewered in the show?
Nick complains all the time, mostly about the lack of free cocaine on set, but I just ignore him.
As for real life ones, not as of this writing.
Fragile egos might well wish to complain, but hey, that’s why the show’s contact email is complaints [at] thenickwhiteshow.com – fire away, boys! Just be aware that the most hilarious of whining emails will be screencapped and posted as “another satisfied customer” for the amusement of my friends and fans. (With the contact info blacked out, of course. I may be an asshole, but I don’t doxx people.)
Where do you think The Nick White Show is going in the future?
To rehab, presumably.
Oh, wait, you said the show, not Nick specifically… well, I mean, most of the cast probably should do a stint in rehab anyway. I don’t need it, personally, unless they have rehab for chocoholics.
As for the show, I plant to just keep chugging along with it. I have a ton of story ideas, so it will be a while before I get bored of it. If you mean goals, I dunno. It would be pretty cool to have a million views.