Ben Stiller is a genius. As a journalist I am supposed to be unbiased and stick to the straight news, but because I am actually a “journalist” (those little quotation marks make all the difference), I can make statements like this: “Next Time On Lonny” is by far the best series on YouTube. And Ben Stiller was smart enough to get his hands on it.
Produced by Stiller’s Red Hour Productions, “Next Time On Lonny” is a sophomore series created by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf with Maker Studios that will have you laughing out loud more often than not. And with an impressive host of guest stars popping up throughout the second season including Adam Scott, Haley Joel Osment and Paul Scheer, the series is easily the most cameo-friendly series since “Burning Love.”
Earlier this week I dropped in on their season two premiere party to drink Ben Stiller’s beer, eat his cookies and watch the entirety of the new season of “Next Time On Lonny” in its entire 90-minute season run (season two begins on June 3). It exceeded my expectations by far, and I enjoyed the first season quite a bit.
Next Time On Lonny, if you haven’t seen it, deals with fictional reality show character “Lonny,” a goofy, average guy just out to find love. The clips of the show are just a quick excuse to get to the epilogue … the “Next Time On …” There, the devil is in the details of Lonny, who always seems to make the worst decisions possible and wind up in the most hilarious and macabre situations.
Since the season premiere was a “Hollywood” thing at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax, I was able to bump into Haley Joel Osment (yeah, “The Sixth Sense” kid is all grown up and rocks a mighty beard now) and ask him how the hell he found his way into this production. Osment said, “I went to NYU with Alex (Anfanger); I’ve known him since I was 18. We went to the same acting studio, ATW, there, and I was a fan of the first season of the show, which he did while I was in L.A. and they were living in New York. He said they were doing season two and I was like, ‘You’re gonna be in trouble if you don’t let me be in this because I’m a huge fan.’” That makes two of us, Mr. Osment.
Even though Alex was surrounded by adoring well-wishers, friends and family, I was like, “journalist” or not, people are going to be annoyed if I don’t get a few words from the co-creator of this hilarious show. So I did that annoying thing where I basically mugged him and stuck a recorder in his face. And you know what? He was cool enough to not only roll with it, but give me a good, sincere interview. Handsome, funny and talented and nice. Where I come from that’s all you need to be a success. In Hollywood, that will get you a decent gig washing tables at Arbys. Throw in a little help from Ben Stiller and Maker Studios though and you’ve got a serious star on the rise.
How did “Next Time On Lonny” come to be in the first place?
Alex: Dan and I were working on a TV pilot originally, and it was hard to get anybody to produce it basically, so we decided we wanted to do something that showcased different stuff for him as a director and me as an actor, so we built the platform of “Lonny” to kind of showcase that. Season one was us driving out in a car and we went to Pennsylvania and all over the place with a crew of four people to bring this really insane show together. And then it just built into something with Red Hour and Maker Studios that still was a relatively small production, but the important thing for season two was to use the larger budget that we had to pull off something as crazy as we possibly could.
There’s a lot of crossover between this and the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” in terms of actors … were these done at the same time?
Well I was in “Walter Mitty — “Lonny” was done after. Ben Stiller came on and saw season one and reached out to us and said he really wanted to produce season two with us, and then he basically gave me a part in his movie and I met several several people on that set. Basically I used Red Hour and the people that I met on set and enlisted them to come help us on “Lonny.” It was such a huge honor to be able to use all of these incredible actors for season two.
Do you have a favorite episode from this season?
I really do not. I can give you a few — I mean, “Choose Your Own Adventure” is one of my favorites because it’s so epic. There’s an hour of footage, and there’s 58 videos that you can choose from. The depth in that episode will only be realized by the truly insane who seek out every single video, otherwise it’s so hard to know how much work went into that. The details in that, I’m really proud of and love, and the cast is just so funny in it. And the “bum fight” episode is so epic and let me kind of do fight scenes and do these “walk and talk” crazy stockbroking scenes. It was just so many different characters in one episode — it’s definitely another one that is one of my favorites. But I love all of them in different ways and I’m definitely proud and so happy that we got such an incredible group together to make it happen.
So there you go. Good stuff all around. Do yourself a favor and watch the hell out of both seasons (as available).
And share this article so this show gets the exposure it deserves.
Here are some other series that are pretty damn good too: