They’re terrible people! Just terrible! Okay, okay…maybe not terrible, but certainly bad. Well… not perhaps bad so much as just not very good. Alright…after some thought, they’re actually a decent bunch. Fine! They are funny and talented. There…I said it! But it’s not like I call them terrible. I mean, I did, but…well, they called themselves that first. And you know what else? Maybe they are just great people being very good at playing terrible people. And fortunately for those who love a good laugh, they are right here in Oklahoma, Tulsa, to be specific.
I recently sat down with the main creative force behind these terrible people, Landry Miller, to find out what it means to be a terrible person. After viewing a trailer for the currently in-production sitcom Terrible People being developed in Tulsa, I was curious how such a project came about. As such, I jumped at the chance to interview its creator.
A native of Claremore, he is one of those rare people who knew his direction long before most were even considering a career path. Even as a child, he longed for the larger lights of the cities and stages where the culture for the arts such as film and comedy are prominent. Oklahoma has become just that place, especially more so in recent years. Miller was drawn to its environment. But first, he would begin his career in the art of laughter by doing stand-up acts in his church group and in coffee shops to earn money while still in high school. Following graduation, he pursued his desired career in college at Southeastern State, where he majored in Theater and dabbled in directing.
A Stand-Up Guy
A natural in front of an audience, Miller, has long been driven to deliver the punch lines. He would even travel to Tulsa and Dallas to perform stand-up routines during college. He also began writing comedy at this point with the hopes of selling his work and reaching larger audiences with his own brand of humor. He was further engaged with friends producing sketches and skits during this time, learning the different facets of comedy.
His pursuit of bringing the laughter would eventually lead him to work in television, eventually writing for shows on TBS, Comedy Central, and others. But it would be Tulsa he would return after realizing that what he truly desires to achieve is possible here at home. Due to today’s technology, the opportunity to pursue his desire in the comedic arts can be achieved from anywhere. As such, he moved back from LA and began networking with like-minded people in Tulsa and immersing himself in the Tulsa comedy scene. It wouldn’t be long before he found a stage…and an audience.
After establishing himself in Tulsa, one of the activities he became involved with was a variety sketch show called “Talk Show Incorporated .”(Think Saturday Night Live with a monologue) performed at Nightingale Theater in Tulsa. The show began with only a few people but over time began drawing an attendance of up to 50 people every Sunday evening for two years.
This experience was a breakthrough of sorts. It brought him in touch with like-minded individuals who took comedy seriously as a profession. This would set the stage to bring some great talent together. Eventually, the stage was set to transition into a sitcom set for Terrible People as well as other projects Landry is affiliated with. Miller said these people bring stand-up, writing, and improvisational skills to the table in all of these projects.
Terrible People Getting Ahead
“The concept for Terrible People started eight years ago. My college roommate and I had an idea to shoot a show, and it was similar to what we are doing now. Nothing really came out of it at the time, but I would circle back to it over the years believing there was something to this idea.
I would tweak it every couple of years until I eventually wrote the pilot for it,” Miller said. As luck would have it, a streaming service “Optioned” (The right to the first use of the concept and writing) the script. But after one year, the streaming company must not have gotten the joke as they had not used it. As is protocol in show business, the script was legally returned to Miller. And though disappointing, it did show that the idea was good enough to be considered by a large streaming group. And that provided the confidence to move forward with developing it with his growing group of comedic friends.
The planning of production for the series began, and a number was calculated as to what it would cost to produce. After those calculations became apparent, it revealed that math doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, so it became just a pilot. But then friends and friends of friends began chiming in about knowing someone who had a particular piece of equipment or a place to shoot scenes.
The production costs quickly began to lower, and things were quickly falling into place and on a budget that would work. The show once again became a series. The magic of laughter was beginning to happen; an eight-year-old idea became a reality. Miller, however, admits there have been some tears shed along the way. And not those from laughter, but mostly from begging people for money, he quipped.
But the hard work from the actors and fellow writers has since been paying off, and they have even been able to attract some investors like Sharon Harper, who is the associate producer. She works with marketing the series as well as pursuing other investors. Miller said that there have also been those who help produce through personal favors and private investments.
Production began in Tulsa in May of 2021 and has progressed much more quickly than initially thought, according to Miller. Quite remarkable, especially when factoring in cast member Covid absences (not all at once either), the personal and professional lives of the actors, and offset injuries. The logistics of making a show with virtually no budget, illnesses, and actors who have jobs and families is quite a complicated process, Miller said with a chuckle. But they have pulled it off, and it is looking as though Tulsa may be home to a streaming sitcom now that there is an agreement in place from a major streaming service to purchase the series. The streaming company is being kept a secret at this point…I asked.
Several Tulsa businesses have graciously allowed the cast to shoot several of their scenes. Miller admits it helps with persuading them when we tell them that we are making a show in Tulsa, about Tulsa, with people from Tulsa and their Tulsa-owned business will be seen on screen. Such a pitch sort of greases the wheels of persuasion, apparently.
Not to mention that using only unique businesses, not chain-run operations, helps promote Tulsa’s unique businesses. Studio30 Tulsa, the downtown Tulsa’s Sabores Restaurant, and the Fur Shop have all opened their establishments for filming. In addition, Tulsa actors and personalities such as Evan Hughes, Timothy Hunter, and Andy Axewell have supporting roles in the show.
The show follows two male friends and another male character (who is not really a friend but is dating one of the friends’ ex-wives). Then an intern, a girlfriend, and the ex-wife added into the mix to create a group of not so moral people feeding off each other to get ahead the best immoral way they can. And though everyone is not doing so well in the getting ahead department, these ambitious con artists conclude they have an answer wrapped up in a terrible idea that will change all that. The idea encompasses the selling of bulk quantities of essential oils that two of the characters happened upon while cleaning out the garage of the main character’s deceased grandmother.
But with neither of the friends having sales skills, they decide to get others to sell the oils for them. The great idea in actuality…a pyramid scheme run by people who can barely run their own lives. So, what they believe to be a legitimate business is running a pyramid scheme by guys who have no clue as to how a legitimate business even works. But there is much more to this dynamic than just a scam. Each episode is broken down into the minutia of life within the relationships of these terrible people (Think Seinfeld), with the scheme being the underlying theme tying the characters together. And it is these scenarios that bring the bulk of the laughter.
There is a cast of six regulars in each episode, three men and three women. Miller plays Thomas, the main character and the brain behind the scheme. He’s the least terrible of the terrible within the bunch. But he does get dragged further toward the “terrible side” by Braden, his best friend played by Bradly McPherson. The latter doesn’t even try to not be a terrible person or anything else for that matter. Other characters include Summer, Thomas’ ex-wife, played by Zehava Glazier. And she is the most despicable, evil person who has ever existed, Miller says of her character.
Next, we have Derrick, played by Quinn Blakely, who is energy chaos squared and certainly a riot in and of himself. He is unpredictable, and the jury is still out on just how terrible he actually is. But terrible enough to run with this crowd for sure. Next in line is Thomas’ girlfriend Jennifer, played by Nicole Miller. She is the only person who is not terrible. Yet, she is surrounded by those who are, therefore, pulled into their circle of these aspiring con artists. Lastly is Regina, played by Sloopy McCoy, who is brought into the mix as an intern. And though she is a bit shady herself, there is much left to learn about her as her character develops. She is full of surprises! And off-screen is Jonah Venable serving as director of cinematography.
The show brings out the comedy that is woven into the crazy and ridiculous that is so often found in life. But it is more so about people who bring out the worst in others only to discover what is best about them. And these young actors and writers have captured that essence to bring a sense of Oklahoma-style comic relief. And it is that very relief that allows us to laugh at ourselves and these terrible people as we scheme through the crazy and ridiculous episodes of our own lives.
To watch the trailer, please visit www.terriblepeopleshow.com
A special screening is set for March 24th at 7:30 pm at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa. If you are interested in attending, tickets can be purchased at Everbrite.com.
Miller will be in attendance to discuss the show, provide interviews and answer questions, and be featured on the panel, including his fellow actors. If you are interested in becoming a producer for the show, please contact Sharon Harper at www.sweetmalibuentertainment.com or call 918-284-2314. Premiere Sponsorship packages are available.