Sometimes comedy both reflects and refracts life itself.
At least, that’s what the creators of the series “Welcome Home” have found. The comedy, which was produced by local filmmakers and actors, is on its second season, which premieres Saturday at Proctors.
With irreverent writing and extreme yet likeable characters, “Welcome Home” follows Ron, Justin and Jen, high school friends who find themselves living back at home with their parents because of circumstances they couldn’t necessarily control.
Bobby Chase, one of the series creators and an actor in its cast, said the idea for the show came from personal experience.
“I moved to New York to freelance, and went broke and had to move back. So I got a job at Channel 6 for a while and then got laid off, and then had to move back [home],” Chase said.
Chase, Daniel B. Martin, Justin Alvis and Amanda Stankovitch, who were also interested in filmmaking or acting, met up for dinner in 2015.
“We were all just sitting around a Ruby Tuesdays, throwing ideas around. I threw out the idea of living at home with my parents and everybody was like ‘Yeah, we’re doing that now or we’ve done that in the past,’” Chase said.
The ideas flowed from there; they created the characters and story line at the table that same night.
“We knew it was a good idea because a lot of people were doing that,” Chase said. “It’s almost normal now.”
They started filming not long after that gathering, bringing on several other actors and actresses such as Mindy Miner, who plays Jen. The first season was released about a year later on YouTube and Amazon Prime.
“In the beginning, we went through a distributor. But now it’s a lot easier. You can do it independently, as long as it's story driven and has closed captioning. So right now, it’s more like YouTube on steroids,” Chase said.
It was also picked up by Stream Now TV, a service that streams indie films and series. Ron Valderrama, the company’s chief operating officer, compared the show to a classic comedy, saying, “It’s like ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ for unsuccessful people.”
For the second season, though, the group wanted to step up production quality as well as the story. They turned to crowdfunding and managed to raise $10,000, which was 10 times the budget they had for Season 1. It allowed them to hire crew members, feature original music — from The Clay People, Travelers & Thieves, Titanics and Dinerpet — and work with Overit Media for the sound engineering.
They also brought on 68 cast members, including some local celebrities like Greg Aidala, Karen Tararache, Kate Welshofer and others.
“We had a lot of people who wanted to be involved and we thought that the more people you get involved, the more marketable it could be,” Chase said.
The larger cast gave the scenes more flavor and allowed the group to expand the show's story line. The team’s writing process has remained fluid, with the stars of the show, Justin Alvis, Daniel B. Martin and Mindy Miner, often writing their own parts.
“We’re rewriting constantly, even while we’re shooting,” Chase said.
Balancing the cast’s schedules with the availability of filming locations and a changing story line was difficult, especially with so many cast members now on board. The show was filmed throughout the Capital Region, and Chase said the locations they requested to film at were welcoming.
“Everyone around here is pretty excited to have something like that in their house or their business,” Chase said.
Season 1 starts on a hectic note. “At the end of Season 1, Justin ends up burning down Jen’s parents’ kitchen. So Jen’s parents and her grandparents end up living with [my character] and Ron, in this house. [And] I have a 1-year-old child, so it’s kind of a cramped situation,” Chase said.
Justin goes to interview for a job with the state and the interviewers try to turn him down.
“[However], Justin is a sociopath who always needs to get his way,” Chase said.
So he pretends to be transgender and tells the interviewers that if they don’t hire him, he’ll send a union rep after them. Justin spends much of the season keeping up the charade of being transgender while at work.
“Jen ends up going to some self-help groups because she’s still trying to get over her ex-fiance leaving her at the altar. [And] Ron ends up dating a hermaphrodite and falls in love with her,” Chase said.
On Saturday, the creators will be screening the second season in the GE Theater at Proctors, where it all began.
“We actually auditioned and started the show at Proctors, so it’s kind of full circle,” Chase said.
There will be a cocktail hour from 5-6 p.m. with some of the cast and creators. “Welcome Home” will be screened from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit welcomehomecomedy.com.