A few days ago, we got a surprise email from our friend Trent Evans, the founder of Pass~Port. He sent us a link to a video he said we might enjoy, along with a list of cameos and a brief but cryptic description. At first, we really didn’t know if it was a new skate video or what, but within the first minute, we couldn’t stop cracking up.
It turns out their friends John Cruckshank and Luke Smith, two comedians and writers based in Sydney had been cooking up this little mockumentary that we feel is pretty much comedy gold.
John plays a burnt-out version of himself who makes his living as a hack electrician. The video follows him for a day as he fumbles his way through a job and takes long breaks to swing by the Pass~Port storefront to tell Trent to “Fuck off, mate” and skate with Jack O’Grady. It feels like a cross-over of Flight of the Conchords and Trailer Park Boys, except it’s based in Australia and stars a bunch of ratty skaters.
We were so hyped on it that we had to pick the two creator’s brains to get a little more insight into the bizarre and refreshing project.
Q&A WITH JOHN CRUCKSHANK AND LUKE SMITH
Where did the idea for this documentary come from? Are both of you electricians and comedians?
John: I am a licensed electrician and data cabler in Australia and have been trying to no/some avail to be a full-time comedian for many years. Luke approached me saying he had the time if I wanted to make something and the whole thing just went from there.
Luke: I make videos so neither for me. We originally planned to do a video advertisement for a short run of Redfern Electrical T-shirts that John was going to put in the Pass~Port store. Once we started hanging out and writing, the script kept evolving with more bits and scenes.
So Redfern Electrical is a real company right? How much of the doc is what your day-to-day is actually like on the job?
J: Yeah, it’s all happening brother, real life.
Any similarities that you’ve noticed between the comedy industry and the skateboarding industry?
J: In both, you’ve got to wake up every day, look God square in the eye and say, “What have you got for me today cunt?”
Do you have any explanation as to why Aussies and Brits can say “cunt” but here in the US it feels taboo?
J: Not too sure about any of that stuff, but I guess just be yourself everyone else is taken even if you are a cunt.
The show feels a bit like Flight of the Conchords and Trailer Park Boys in one. Are there certain series that inspired you guys that you wanted to try to emulate?
J: Trailer Park Boys and also People Just Do Nothing were on high rotation. I think they’re brilliant – it’s easy to write them off as just weed shows or whatever but they’re just so good, so funny.
They were a huge inspiration, not only stylistically, but also in how they got up in the entertainment industry. Talent doesn’t necessarily get to marry opportunity, or even get a first date, but it was great to be able to do something independently of anything or anyone. Rick Alverson and Michael Haneke movies played a huge part too. I know that sounds like something that someone who has decided to make film their personality would say but so be it also we watched a few Sportsbet commercials it’s all in there.
Who are some of your favorite comedians?
J: Sam Campbell is amazing to even just have a conversation with, he amazes me creatively and everyone should definitely check him out. Mitch Hedberg, RIP, Dave Jory, RIP.
Are there going to be more episodes of this or is it just a one-off?
J: The real impetus for me in making this was in the event of my death there’d be something there that couldn’t be taken away that people could hopefully see and think yeah this guy really cares about comedy and really really tried to be world-class funny whatever god actually decided would happen but I can’t lie I loved doing this so much even though it was the worst time in my life and I would love to be able to keep doing it
What is the difference between writing jokes for stand up, and writing jokes for something like this?
J: It’s similar and I love standup but I did love the depth and possibilities of doing a show and all the tools you can use with dialogue, music, and editing that Redfern Electrical allowed. I have Luke to thank for that.
Did you try to shop this around to Netflix or any streaming services?
J: Phone never rang before, but it been ringing now.
L: We didn’t try to shop it out to anyone. We just wanted to make something from our world that our friends could hopefully enjoy. We have no idea how that process of pitching a show works. I think the first step would be to get a producer?
How was the production for this? Did you have a crew?
L: Just John, me, and my camera, some audio gear, and a few lights.
How did you get connected with the Pass~Port crew?
L: I’ve known, lived, and skated with Trent from Pass~Port since I was a teenager. So almost 20 years. Amazing to see what Trent has done with the brand and the community he has created. He’s been a huge influence on me over the years.
J: I love skateboarding and Pass~Port so much and I have basically just attached myself to the brand. I guess everyone is down for it or they’ve been too nice to tell me to fuck off. It’s just a top vibe.
Did you coach the other actors or were they naturally able to play their roles?
J: Everyone who is in Redfern Electrical is unique, but not really actors and I think their reluctance is what makes it so funny. It took Jack O’Grady more takes to get his lines than it did to get his second Thrasher cover.
L: There was a little bit of directing the actors in the film, although they are pretty much playing a turned-up version of themselves so it didn’t take much. They were all very natural.
What made you want to rock a mullet, John? Are you ahead of the mullet trend?
J: I’m not ahead of any trend but I got a real small head in proportion to the rest of my body. I look like a ballpoint pen without much hair.
Did you actually do the electrical work for the Pass~Port store?
J: Fucken oath, Redfern Electrical any job, any day of the week.