Featured on Thundershorts, the comic web series “Teachers Lounge” shows the happenings inside a school that, according to creator Ted Alexandro, should “probably be shut down.” In each of the episode madness is abound, as Alexandro plays a music teacher and co-creator Hollis James plays a janitor. Guest stars include Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan, Dave Attell, Judah Friedlander, Jim Norton, Judy Gold, Todd Barry, Rachel Feinstein, Michael Che, and musician Ted Leo. So far, five episodes have been released. You can watch them below.
Tell us about yourself! How did you get started in comedy?
Ted Alexandro: Hollis and I met at Queens College in the sketch comedy group. After graduation, we started performing at open mics in NYC as a duo. Over the years we’ve collaborated on countless projects. And by “countless” I mean about seven.
What inspired your online series?
Hollis James: It’s an idea we’ve had for a long time. We thought our previous jobs (Ted as a music teacher and my stint as a janitor) were good fodder to develop into a workplace comedy. Ted and I have always been fans of classic ensemble comedies like Barney Miller and MASH, but also of series like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dr. Katz, where the script leaves room for improvisation. In “Teachers Lounge,” we were able to combine both formats.
What’s they key to getting noticed online?
TA: I think having something good is a good start but even that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get noticed. Part of doing something DIY is that it’s up to us to promote and market the show. Thankfully, social media helps a lot with that. And we have a lot of amazing guests in the series who have been great about tweeting and “imguring,” if that’s a thing.
What separates online short form comedy from longer form TV/film comedy? Advantages/disadvantages?
HJ: Well, first off, it’s a lot easier to get a web series off the ground than a longer format. We were lucky to fund our series through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Another good thing about a web series is that, if you only have five minutes or so, you can concentrate on fewer characters and write each script with a specific guest star in mind.
What advice do you have for people who want to succeed in the online comedy market?
TA: We are actually looking for advice, if anyone can offer some. My advice is if you have an idea you love, dig in and make that m@therf%cker. It will take every ounce of your energy, focus and resources but it is incredibly rewarding. Seriously, there’s nothing better than seeing a project through but you’d better be 100% committed. It took us nearly seven years from when we first had the idea to right now, so patience is key. And work with people you love.
What IS funny to you?
TA: Is this supposed to be funny? We thought we were making a dramatic miniseries, like the Thornbirds.