Umlaut Editor Jean Kawahara Creates A “Laugh Riot” For Comcast

Laughter is the best medicine as seen in a new spot from Comcast, directed by Happy of Smuggler and edited by Jean Kawahara of Umlaut. “Laugh Riot,” created by ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, follows the “It’s Comcastic!” campaign and touts the “Comedy Month” ON DEMAND feature available via Comcast Digital Cable.

The :30 spot opens on a seemingly violent riot taking place in the streets. A helicopter circles overhead while police squads line the street with combat gear and shields. Then a man runs to the center and throws an object at the cops. Turns out to be a banana and one unfortunate law enforcement officer slips on it. This elicits a joyful reaction from the crowd, which is comprised of quirky characters dressed in costumes. A man clothed as a baby with oversized baby bottle chucks a cream pie into the face of a policeman. From smashing watermelons to chattering wind-up teeth, the silly celebration continues until an officer, squashed on the ground, declares that it is comedy month. “You’ll receive stand-up, movies and other comedy as needed. ON DEMAND with Comcast Digital Cable.”

For Editor Jean Kawahara, the spot marks the first collaboration with Director Team Happy. Kawahara credits Happy for shooting exceptional footage with a great smoky atmosphere and a range of choices in mood, visuals and gags.

The most challenging aspect of the edit was in deciding the comic tone of the piece. “With the large amount and variety of footage that Happy shot, the potential cuts ranged from darkly comic to cartoon comedy,” explains Kawahara. “We decided the best place to be was in the middle; we wanted a slight edge to the insanity without getting too dark or too goofy. The spot needed to emphasize the concept of ‘laugh riot;’ dark and creepy didn’t help the laughter and strictly laughter didn’t emphasize the riot aspect. Finding the balance, as usual, was the key.”

Kawahara worked with the agency creatives to determine the best way to approach the narrative. After trying many variations, they decided to build the suspense of watching an actual riot.

“The suspense created a curiosity that was rewarded with a succession of easy, attention-getting gags – who doesn’t love a good pie in the face?” concludes Kawahara. “The most difficult decision was music and sound design. Was it funnier to go the music video route or with a more realistic, sound effects driven track? Placing a hard rock track against our ridiculous characters made the creatives laugh every time, so we went with that.”

Client: Comcast

Spot Title/Airdate: “Laugh Riot” :30/April 2006

Ad Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Group Creative Director: Jamie Barrett
ACD: Paul Foulkes & Tyler Hampton
Art Director: Jon Willard
Copywriter: Jesse Gazzuolo
Producer: Michael Damiani
Account Director: Chad Bettor

Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Happy
DP: Max Malkin
Executive Producer: Patrick Milling Smith & Brian Carmody
Head of Production: Allison Kunzman & Laura Thoel
Producer: John Benet
Where Shot: Los Angeles, CA

Editorial Company: Umlaut
Editor: Jean Kawahara
Assistant Editor: Ryan Shake
Executive Producer: Gina LoCurcio

Postproduction Company: Company 3 & Spy Post
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Online Editor: Jon Wank @ Spy Post

VFX Company: Umlaut & Spy Post
VFX Artist: Ivan Miller @ Umlaut
Senior Compositor/VFX Supervisor: Jon Wank @ Spy Post

Music & Sound Design Company: Musikvergnuegen
Composer/Sound Designer: Walter Werzowa & John Luker
Producer: Pat Weaver
Junior Producer: Kira Lewis

Audio Post Company: One Union Recording
Mixer: Eben Carr

Umlaut: 123 Townsend Street, Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94107.
T: 415.777.0123. F: 415.777.4123.

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