Hi, my name is Seth Olenick, and I am a Brooklyn-based photographer. For the last 6 years I have been photographing people from the comedy world for a project that I plan to make into a book called Funny Business.
What kind of book will this be?
Funny Business is going to be an 11"x13" portrait-oriented, hardcover coffee table book with approximately 250 pages containing 200 full-color photos on glossy paper. This Kickstarter covers the 1st edition run of 1500 copies, 200 of which will come with a hand-printed special edition slipcase. I'm still finalizing the design that will be printed on the slipcases, and hope to unveil it before the end of this campaign.
The book designer is Adriana Garcia, a Brooklyn-based graphic designer with years of experience on magazines, and a couple of books under her belt as well.
The digital imaging guru is Jeff Spitery who has nearly 30 years experience with photo preparation for print, and is helping me with the retouching of all of the files as well.
How did I get here?
I have loved comedy in all forms ever since I can remember, and my sense of humor has been largely shaped by the "alternative comedy" scene that came out of the early 90's, and remains prevalent today; albeit in a more mainstream way. As a fan of The Ben Stiller Show, The State, Upright Citizens Brigade, and various incarnations of SNL, I tend to gravitate toward the more off-beat. In 2003, my photo and comedy worlds collided at Lansky Lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was there that I had the opportunity to photograph comedian Todd Barry hosting Heeb Storytelling, a series put on by Heeb, the magazine for which I was Photo Editor. Being that this was my first experience photographing live comedy (I had only photographed live bands up to that point), I had an epiphany. And so began the long journey that led me to this next phase of my photo career - photographing comedians.
Who will be in Funny Business?
Over the course of this project, I have photographed many of the major players and up-and-comers that have formed the comedy landscape as we've known it for the last 20 years. This includes stand ups, actors/actresses, writers, directors, and producers.
Just a few of the people you will see in the book are Paul Scheer, Scott Aukerman, David Wain, Thomas Lennon, Zach Galifianakis, The State, Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt, A.D. Miles, Zak Orth, Elizabeth Banks, Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, Adam McKay, Jon Hamm, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick, David Cross, Megan Mullally, Todd Barry, Jessica St. Clair, Scott Adsit, Marc Maron, Derek Waters, Mike Birbiglia, Wyatt Cenac, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, Rob Riggle, Aubrey Plaza, Kumail Nanjiani, Greg Proops, Allison Becker, Jim Gaffigan, Rob Schrab, Hannibal Buress, Jane Lynch, Greg Behrendt, Geoffrey Arend, David Koechner, Joe Mande, Larry Wilmore, Charlyne Yi, and Martin Starr (more below).
What isn't Funny Business?
Though not an exhaustive collection of comedic personalities, Funny Business features those that I feel are a good cross section of household names along with some that you may not have heard of. In the 6 years since beginning the shoots, some of the up-and-comers have actually become widely recognized. Though known by die-hard comedy fans, people like Aubrey Plaza, Donald Glover, and Aziz Ansari had not yet been on tv when we did our shoots, and had not yet broken into the mainstream. There is no doubt that all three are a huge part of the next generation of comedy, each starring in hit shows on NBC, HBO and in numerous films. They are joined in the book by some of my early comedy heroes - David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Judd Apatow, and every member of The State.
Will it have words?
Yes. Funny Business has been in the works for quite a while now, and I was lucky enough to get John Mulaney to write the intro to the book. John is one of the funniest writer/stand-ups today. Some people might remember him from his witty commentary on Best Week Ever a few years back, or his Comedy Central specials and albums. He also happens to be the mastermind behind Stefon, the club-obsessed regular on SNL's Weekend Update, played by Bill Hader. Along with the intro, all photos will be accompanied by blurbs written by the comedians themselves. These blurbs embody their senses of humor, and range from just a few words to a couple of paragraphs. That is the extent of the text in the book, as I really wanted the main focus to be on the photos.
Can you tell me more about the rewards?
Since this is a unique project, I really wanted to offer some unique rewards. So, on top of the usual offering of thanks and copies of the book, I am also presenting the first ever audio version of a photo book, narrated by the unnaturally talented rockstar/comic Dave Hill. For those of you familiar with Dave's work, you know this is not just going to be a run-of-the-mill audio book. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dave, his un-formulaic humor is bound to make you crack up as you listen to his smooth voice narrating the photos.
Some of the higher levels will get a limited edition 8x10 print (each with editions of 25) of one of the following 4 photos of Elizabeth Banks, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, or Patton Oswalt:
I'm also offering more personal experiences with the comics: meeting them, talking to them, and in some cases even dining with them. I have also partnered with some of my favorite visual artists to create original artwork based on some of the Funny Business photos. Here's a sample of just one of the pieces available (Zach Galifianakis is an edition of 5):
For those who like mementos, I have props from some of the shoots that I will be offering along with an 8x10 print of the photo in which the prop was used - these props vary in size, and are priced accordingly. Here are a few:
You can also pledge to be on the other side of my lens either in a photo shoot of your own, or taking part as an extra in one of the last remaining shoots for the Funny Business project.
Where is all the money going?
$30,000 is a pretty hefty sum, but it will go toward the design and preparation of files for the book, the actual printing and shipping of the books, shipping all of the props, and making prints.
Once the book comes out, I hope to even have a gallery show and a mini tour across the country talking to other comedy and photo fans about the book. If we can make it beyond our goal, I would also really love to create an iPad app that will make the whole Funny Business experience more interactive.
Didn't I hear something about this book over a year ago?
Yes. In December 2011, Last Call with Carson Daly did a Spotlight feature on me where you can see some of the photos.
Who else will I see in Funny Business?
Human Giant, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, Jon Glaser, Maria Bamford, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh, Nate Corddry, Rob Corddry, Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate, Eugene Mirman, Ken Jeong and Mike O'Connell, John Oliver, Laura Silverman, Kyle Kinane, John Mulaney, Seth Morris, Larry Murphy, Bobby Lee, Arden Myrin, Matt Braunger, Hard N' Phirm, Brent Weinbach, Ronna and Beverly, Bill Hader, Arj Barker, Melissa Rauch, Andy Borowitz, Doug Benson, Kristen Schaal, Christian Finnegan, Dave Hill, Reggie Watts, Tig Notaro, Kevin Sussman, Ed Helms, Laura Krafft, Brian Stack, Aasif Mandvi, Paul F. Tompkins, Pete Holmes, Kurt Braunohler, Morgan Murphy, Julian McCullough, Rhys Darby, John Ennis, Josh Fadem, Tim and Eric, Garfunkel and Oates, T.J. Miller, Al Madrigal, Andy Daly, Anthony Jeselnik, Ben Kronberg, Brody Stevens, Chelsea Peretti, Eric Andre, Greg Fitzsimmons, James Adomian, Jessi Klein, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, John Hodgman, Lance Krall, Nick Kroll, Paul Rust, Samm Levine, Rory Albanese, Seth Herzog, Abby Elliot, Brendon Walsh, Brooke Van Poppellen, Dan Mintz, David Krumholtz, Harris Wittels, Jerry Minor, John Hamburg, John Lutz, Key and Peele, Jonah Ray, Kate Flannery, Leo Allen, Bobby Tisdale, Max Silvestri, Moshe Kasher, Rory Scovel, Sean Patton, Thomas Middleditch, Josh Blue, Glenn Wool, The Sklar Brothers, Dave Holmes, Brian Huskey, Amber Tozer, Jen Kirkman, Natasha Leggero, Wendy Spero, Clara Bijl, Rob Huebel, Ken Ober, Iliza Shlesinger, Jeremy Hotz, Kevin Sussman, Shaun Majumder, B.J. Porter, June Diane Raphael, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Matt Dwyer, Frangela, Dragon Boy Suede, Jeff Garlin, Graham Elwood, Joe LoTruglio, Robert Ben Garant, Stephen Hale, Nick Thune, Jon Daly, Brett Gelman, Cracked Out, Dana Gould, Steve Agee, Brendon Small, Jimmy Pardo, Andy Richter, Brandon Johnson, Michael Patrick Jann, Ken Marino, Scot Armstrong, Ryan Hansen, Lizzy Caplan, Steve Byrne, Aziz Ansari, Maria Thayer, Jim Rash, Marguerite Moreau, Gillian Jacobs, Bobcat Goldthwait, JB Smoove, Ali Wong, Chris Meloni, Wayne Federman, John Gemberling, Alex Karpovsky, Adam Lowitt, Nick Turner, Kevin Corrigan, Kevin Allison, Todd Holoubek, Andre DuBouchet, H. Jon Benjamin, Heather Lawless, John Roberts, Wendy Ho, John F. O'Donnell, Julia Segal, Tom McCaffrey, Greg Johnson, Casey Wilson, Horation Sanz, The Whitest Kids U Know, Billy Lyons, Stone and Stone, Donnell Rawlings, Jason Woliner, Heather Fink, DERRICK, Brent Sullivan, Andrea Rosen, Bill Plympton, Malcolm Barrett, and many more.
The music in your video is pretty cool. Who is that?
I totally agree with you. That's Les Savy Fav, an amazing band from around where I live who put on a killer live show. The singer and guitarist have even lent themselves to one of my rewards, offering to write a song and make a video for one lucky fan. The songs in the video are called "Je T'aime" and "Patty Lee".
I would like to single out a few people, without whom this project would not have been possible: Paul Scheer, Scott Aukerman, David Wain, Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver, and Wendy Spero. Your support of my work over the years, and help with this project along the way, is appreciated more than you will ever know.
Risks and challenges
This is my first time producing/publishing a book. Luckily, I have friends who have made high-end art books and can help guide me through the process.
While I already have blurbs from 1/4 of the participants, I still need to coordinate getting the rest of them for the book. Unforeseen issues may come up which could affect the production schedule, though I am working hard to make sure that we meet our deadlines.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)