“Search Party,” the crime comedy that turned hipster ennui into a truly perilous prospect, is the best show about millennials on TV. After just two seasons, the show has received widespread critical acclaim for building wry humor and hate-to-love characters into a refreshingly gripping mystery. There is far less mystery (but just as many laughs) in “Men Don’t Whisper,” a new short film from Charles Rogers, who co-created “Search Party,” and Jordan Firstman, a writer on the show. The short, which premiered at SXSW before making its online debut Wednesday, follows a gay couple who attend a sales conference and attempt to sleep with two women in order to prove their masculinity.
Partners in real life, Firstman and Rogers play the movie’s lead characters, Reese and Peyton. Like gay characters in “Search Party,” they don’t conform to gay stereotypes often found onscreen, though in a more understated way. They both sport scruffy beards, dress in what can only be described as “office casual,” and speak in a slightly lethargic (though still engaging) manner. According to Rogers, the idea came to them on an aimless night at the beginning of their courtship.
“We were like — ‘What do we do tonight? We don’t have any plans. What if we tried to go downtown and act straight and see how far we could go? What would that actually look like?’ Well, probably we would take them back to one hotel room that we would both be in, and then get really scared and go to the bathroom and whisper to each other, and it would probably be a very unsuccessful and pathetic experience for us,” he explained.
“I was in a phase where I was dressing like a Jewish Brooklyn dad. I was wearing like a fitted Yankees cap, so I feel like we were both looking kind of straight back then,” Firstman added. Firstman and Rogers both say they get the occasional woman flirting with them. “At first it’s very flattering,” Rogers said. “For all the perverse, patriarchal, toxic reasons. Like this horrible part of you is kinda fulfilled by that experience of being like, ‘Oh, good. I could still pass for straight.'”
Of course, for the movie to work, Reese and Peyton are less evolved in their feminism than their creators. There is one moment in “Men Don’t Whisper” where they privately lambaste another gay guy for being too flaming. “We are kind of satirizing what masculinity is…we wrote that as a comment of gay fear of being too flamboyant,” said Firstman.
It’s certainly fruitful territory for a feature-length film, which they hope to shoot next January. Written with the same concept in mind, the feature will harken to broad comedies like “Some Like It Hot” and “The Birdcage.” “It’s definitely more of a broader farce than the short. We want to always keep it grounded and funny,” Firstman said. “There’s definitely a run-around, pretend to be different people farce element to it, but there is also a very big political statement about a masculine power structure in the work place and trying to climb those ladders.”
In addition to Rogers and Firstman, “Men Don’t Whisper” features a raucous cameo from “Saturday Night Live” star Cheri Oteri, and also stars Bridey Elliott, Clare McNulty, and Brendan Scannell. It is produced by Group Nine Media via their production arm JASH. It debuted on Vimeo as a Staff Pick Premiere.
Check out “Men Don’t Whisper” below.