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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Groovy Web Series: Pretty

Pretty is pretty damn funny. This wonderful new mockumentary web series is reminiscent of director Christopher Guest's best films, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show - and that is high praise indeed. But instead of community theater and dog shows, writer and director Steve Silverman is poking fun at child beauty pageants with a wicked and sharp sense of humor. And he's assembled a first-rate cast of comedic actors to play his hilarious cast of characters:

Michael Champagne (Sam Pancake): A proud pageant father whose life revolves around his daughter - and who seems about as straight as Guffman's Corky St. Clair.

Annette Champagne (Stacy McQueen): Michael's 5-year-old daughter who's recently had a growth spurt - and who frequently makes inappropriate remarks she has overheard from her parents.

Ribina Champagne (Dee Freeman): Michael's foul-mouthed wife who is far more interested in her job as a "professional smoker" than her family.

Ethan Champagne (Troy Conrad): Michael's brother whose very close relationship with Ribina satisfies her "needs".

Parker Kensington-Parker (Terri Simmons): The director of the Miss Star Eyes Pageant who likes to split her young contestants into two lines - those who have eating disorders and those whose father has been on Unsolved Mysteries (which gives you a clear idea of the kind of hilarious dark humor that Pretty is all about).

All of the actors are terrific, but the series wouldn't work without the right adult actress playing the pivotal role of Annette. Fortunately, Silverman found himself the perfect one in the talented Ms. McQueen, who is able to capture the wide-eyed innocence of a 5-year-old while at the same time uttering some very politically incorrect - but amusing - comments (and she reminds me so much of another funny actress, Julie Hagerty, that I wouldn't be surprised if they are related). Also, McQueen and Sam Pancake have a nice comic chemistry together that makes Pretty one helluva hoot. I can't wait to see what Silverman and his delightful cast do next - but I'm pretty sure I'll be laughing.

You can watch the first two Pretty episodes below, and to see future installments, check out the show's website at or its YouTube channel. You can also become a Facebook fan of the series by clicking here. And, finally, if you live in or around Chicago, one of the area's oldest gay bars, Hideaway, in Forest Park (7301 Roosevelt Road) will be showing the first three episodes of Pretty this Saturday (February 20) as well as serving an original cocktail, the Pretty-tini, throughout the evening.