Wisecracker is a documentary series that we have in development – it chronicles crass comedian Brett Forté’s unrelenting quest for stardom and fame. We will document his efforts to gain notoriety by promoting a “roast battle”, follow him on his first major national tour, and witness his on-going efforts to land a game-changing spot opening for a world-famous headliner.
Following Brett’s road journey, with the potential culmination of landing a career-altering gig opening for an established industry insider, will provide the documentary with a strong natural story arc and compelling climax. The arc will be supplemented by an unfiltered glimpse behind- the-scenes of this idiosyncratic comedy sub-culture. We will see Brett and his fellow comics prepping for shows, greenroom interactions, rivalries, rituals, competition, camaraderie and hilarious banter. We will also showcase Forté’s exhausting travel, on-going flirtations, trading of sordid tales, media obligations, crafting of sets, juicy gossip, and volatile conflicts. Highlighting a mix of on-stage “kills” and “bombs” and turning the spotlight behind the curtain on Brett’s off-stage shenanigans will provide audiences with a glimpse of his irreverent humor, on-stage comic chops, and indisputable connection with audiences. As Brett travels from gig to gig, viewers will witness the ebb and flow and his career progression.
Delving into Brett’s highly eccentric family background will provide abundant insight into why the brash jokester craves the spotlight and provide an appreciation of what precipitated his tireless work ethic, extreme focus, and overwhelming drive – characteristics often hidden behind his brazen persona. As Brett unabashedly notes in his act, his dad was a heavyweight body-builder and his mom was an exotic dancer. According to family lore, his hulking father with 20-inch arms dared his platinum-haired mom to become a stripper after an impassioned quarrel. Never one to back down from a challenge, his mom Kym, a.k.a Crystal Waters, not only became a stripper but won the title of “Ms. Stag Exotica Canada” five years in a row in the early 80’s. As Brett notes, “I think I got my attitude and determination from my mom. Gretzky and the Oilers won 4 championships in the 80’s and my mom took home 5. She was the true dynasty! Alas, my birth in 92 ruined her body and career.” Forté takes particular pride in regaling the tale of performing a raucous show in Edson, Alberta, on the same stage his mom performed at 30 years earlier.
Brett’s dad, Brent, while undoubtedly an imposing figure, similarly played a prominent role in propelling Brett into the world of comedy. Standing 6 foot 4, with 62-inch shoulders, a feathered mullet, and a Burt Reynolds mustache, he broke all the door-frames in the family’s one-bedroom apartment with his portable chin-up bar and would get into frequent fights with neighbors because of the sounds of crashing exercise equipment. Weights came first in the Forté household – the family living room was half-futon, half gym. Brett slept in the gym. He would make a tent bedroom with a sleeping bag and a sheet thrown over a lat-pull-down machine and calf-raise gear. The dining room chairs were used to spot 505lb shrugs and the futon served as a spotting apparatus for 440lb squats. One day while playing video games, Brett had to help his out-of-breath father rescue the family cat after the futon collapsed under the weight of a failed record squat attempt. As an only-child, Brett would constantly try to make his dad laugh. Following work-outs the two would watch roasts, and comics like Andrew Dice Clay on The Comedy Channel. Brent subsequently took up drama in junior high and began to see the power of humor, getting laughs posing as the substitute teacher and drawing confidence from making girls chuckle. And while his dad perhaps remains his toughest audience to this day, he certainly ingrained Brett with a sense of discipline and focus; “every winter my dad would essentially hibernate to focus on training his legs, so they were ready for the annual spring reveal of his 33-inch thighs and the debut of his infamous Daisy Dukes. He had the body of a Dallas Cowboy football player but chose to dress like one of the cheer-leaders.”
While Brett’s quirky childhood was instrumental in the development of his comic sensibilities, a brief review of his work as a radio personality will highlight the impetus for his career change. During his time at a local Calgary radio station, he was often tasked with interviewing traveling comedian headliners and subsequently developed a relationship with a local comedy club. At the same time, he was continually passed up for promotions and constantly reprimanded for “acting out” and “being inappropriate” on the air. He quickly learned that radio sponsors had very specific expectations about what DJ’s could talk about. Brett had difficulties meeting those expectations and his lofty ambitions to move up the ranks were quickly dashed. Meanwhile, at the encouragement of several comics that he had interviewed, he began performing open mics and instantly realized that the mangers of comedy clubs would not thwart his “acting out” but actually reward it. The further he would push the boundaries, the more effusive the praise he would receive. Forté relished the opportunity to “get away with saying things others can’t” and after a few months of moonlighting on the amateur circuit, Brett had his first breakout moment – he won the popular “Funniest person with a day job contest” at the celebrated Comic Strip. The very next day his station manager called him into his office, congratulated him on his contest win and relieved him of his radio duties. With his fire for comedy ignited, Brett committed himself to becoming the next break-out star!
Viewers will witness some of the comic’s challenges as he shrewdly schemes to book the most desirable gigs and move his career forward in a positive trajectory. Forté is dogmatic in saving his limited financial resources, putting singular focus on honing his craft. He smugly states that “being frugal is no joke, it is a lifestyle” and he has made numerous Instagram videos highlighting his resourcefulness and thrifty ways. “There’s lots of great resources out there. Starbucks is for suckers. There is free high-grade coffee at the bank and casino. Get yourself a large bag of popcorn at the theatres on the half-price Tuesday matinee and you can get free re-fills the rest of the day. No need for plates when you can use tinfoil and if you develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the girl who works the front counter at the gym, workouts and steams won’t cost you a cent. I think I learned to make the most out of a buck from my dad who still re-uses floss. I rent out my condo to a Russian mobster and for some extra side cash I bought a vending machine filled with candy that is situated next to a junior-high. Finances are not going to stop me from getting in my reps as a comic.”
It will become evident that Brett is not expecting fame and fortune to fall in his lap – it is something he unyieldingly works at. No aspect of his life is off-limits for his routines, and his comedy radar is always on; dates, family-life, social miscues, and breakdowns in ordinary social etiquette are all fodder for material. Continually honing his craft, Brett’s notebook, filled with audacious cut-downs and shameless scenarios, is always in hand. Whether it is in the greenroom, before or after shows, or in his down-time, Brett is continually jotting down barbs on the plethora of things that bother him. He meticulously records all his shows and methodically plays them back, so he can dissect the minutiae of his wording, rehearse the cadence of his deliveries, and drill the physical gesticulations of his act. He also produces and hosts a local comedy roast to build his name and re-affirm his status as the hot young commodity. And while the ambitious comic maintains that “cozying up to the headliners to secure plush gigs is not my style,” he certainly is not shy about making the right strategic connections. He has already parlayed a successful opening gig for a prominent headliner into an invitation to open at the world-famous Comedy Store in L.A., forged a relationship with hard-driving, cigar chomping manager, Jake Hirsh, and developed a mentor-disciple relationship with cantankerous Club owner Rick Bronson.
As Brett prides himself on being edgy, pushing the boundaries on what is tasteful and saying things that most won’t, it is no surprise that he has his a few detractors. Hecklers and offended audience members are sometimes turned-off by Brett’s hubris and audacious material. Similarly, disgruntled fellow comics are occasionally annoyed by his seemingly meteoric rise and dallying ways with doting female audience members. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Forté will remain resolute in his unwavering pursuit of becoming the next break-out comic star. “Being on stage let’s me say things others can’t. I am not offended by anything and I want to instill that value in others.” Following his journey will surely provide many compelling moments and of course humor.
Our team at RabbitView recently filmed a short documentary project about the behind-the-scenes antics of an iconic comedy club and the colorful owner who runs it. There were many captivating side characters that we encountered but Brett Forté exuded an unparalleled confidence, energy, and connection with the audience. In a setting filled with provocative and intriguing characters, he stood out. We had the opportunity to find out more about Brett’s fascinating back-story and fanatical crusade to reach his goal of comic stardom. This cemented our conviction that we were onto something special – we became enthralled with his story. We have filmed numerous broadcast documentaries over the last decade and our recent experience of filming in the comedy club setting provided us with the practical training that makes us the ideal candidate to showcase this particular comedian on a compelling journey. In addition to having Brett’s full co-operation, we will also have unparalleled access to the comedy community. We have forged positive relationships with comics/club-owners/managers and have now filmed extensively both on and off-stage in this milieu.
From a technical standpoint, we have developed a strong skill-set of employing a multi-camera 4K-shooting system enabling authentic interaction in the ‘observational cinema’ tradition. We aim for elegant and clean shots with an emphasis on storytelling. We will limit the number of formal interviews with Brett and the characters mentioned above and instead focus on pinpointing scenarios that follow a specific story structure and that are conducive for the subjects to naturally engage in authentic dialogue and interactions. In our experience, this style of filming allows us to target pre-determined story points while simultaneously enabling the flexibility for unexpected story gems. The end result is a structured documentary with a coherent story that feels organic as opposed to contrived.
Wisecracker will appeal to adult audiences of comedy and a more universal audience who will be engrossed by watching a distinct character on a passionate journey. Comics are synonymous with promotion through podcasts and social media and we will certainly engage the comedy community to help in that regard. We are confident that our story of a brash comic with indisputable talent, on a trek to maximize his stardom and fame, will appeal to comedy fans and well-beyond.