By Dave Itzkoff
Jessica Miller David Wain, the creator of “Wainy Days,” hard at work milking comedy from failed relationships.
About two years ago, the comedian and filmmaker David Wain was approached by Rob Barnett, the founder of the Web video site My Damn Channel, with a proposition. The terms of the deal, as Mr. Wain recalled them, were these: “He said, ‘I’m going to finance your idea and I don’t even need to know what the idea is. You deliver it, I’ll pay for it.’ I was like, ‘That sounds real good.’”
That arrangement has since yielded three seasons of “Wainy Days,” an online comedy series created and largely produced by Mr. Wain, and which begins its fourth season on Thursday. It’s a format in which Mr. Wain — a veteran of the comedy troupes the State and Stella, and the director of “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Role Models” — usually riffs on romantic entanglements that didn’t work out as he’d hoped.
It’s also a place for him to work with actor pals like Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks and Josh Charles in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise see them in films or on television. “Doing it so fast, with such low stakes, allows for a certain kind of comedy to come out,” said Mr. Wain, who may shoot between two and seven episodes a day — even in the midst of working on a Hollywood movie.”
“Wainy Days” lets Mr. Wain get in front of the camera, too, though he says he doesn’t thrive on being the center of attention. “I’ve, frankly, never taken acting all that seriously or been that great of an actor,” he said. “I’ve been trying to ever-so-slightly widen my tiny range, just a tiny bit. This is a good playground to do that.”
Below, Mr. Wain introduces three of his favorite segments from previous episodes of “Wainy Days.” (You can also see him on Thursday evening at the 92Y Tribeca.)
Episode #2: The Date “I came up with the idea that each episode would be about a different romantic interaction gone wrong. Which was very much the write-what-you-know scenario. I spent most of my adult life chasing various women and losing them. This was the first scenario that came to mind: this notion that you think you’re doing well with a girl, and then she completely hooks up with someone else. And then looks at you and says, ‘How crazy is it that I hooked up with that guy?’”
Episode #16: The Pickup “This one went everywhere on the Web. I guess it’s a combination of something striking a chord in people and Paul Rudd being in it. Jon Zack sent me this script, and I just read it and thought it was great. I know it’s [satirizing] a VH1 show, but I swear I’ve never seen it. I know the basic gist of his shtick. That’s the thing with these Web series — there’s not a lot of time to prep and research. Paul was more familiar with the guy than I was, and I didn’t have to be, because I was playing myself. Paul and my wife, Zandy, designed the costumes. They were found, probably, in some bargain bin at a Salvation Army.”
Episode #11: Zandy “Zandy was my girlfriend in real life at the time and is now my wife. We actually got married in February. We had introduced this notion that she plays one of my close friends and work, and then suddenly it becomes more serious. I wanted to deal with the whole relationship and then put it away — we’re back to friends, everything’s reset, forget that that ever happened. But she was also seven months pregnant when we shot that, so we just built the story around that. I just thought it was a funny concept where she’s telling me she wasn’t pregnant even though she clearly is, for sure, pregnant. There were never any pillows used. That was my now-16-month old son in there.”