Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
|Q: Where can I find "Strangers With Candy" and "Exit 57" episodes in VHS, DVD, or VCD format?|
A: You can buy a DVD of the First Season of "Strangers With Candy" (including the original pilot, plus commentary on four episodes by Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert) from Comedy Central, or for a better price at amazon.com. The Second Season (also with commentary on four episodes, plus the SWC seminar from the Museum of Television and Radio) and Third Season (with a blooper reel and a collection of some closing credit dance sequences) are also available at amazon.
There still hasn't been an official release of "Exit 57" in any format, but you can find bootlegs of the complete "Exit 57" collection in VCD, DVD, or VHS format at Bruce's site. He also has the Florrie Fisher documentary, "The Trip Back", which was a big part of Amy's inspiration in creating the character and backstory of Jerri Blank. Good luck and "good times".
|Q: Do any of the "Strangers With Candy" DVDs have Easter Eggs?|
A: An "Easter Egg" is a hidden treat that can be found by clicking around in various places on a DVD's menus. According to SethHammelev, who posted some info at hiddendvdeastereggs.com, you can find the following goodies on the Third Season discs:
- Insert disc one and on the episode selection screen keep pressing your Down button until an afro appears on the caricature of Principal Blackman. Press your Enter button and you will see a 'Strangers With Candy Scrapbook' which presents a slideshow of some of the 'Strangers With Candy' cast.
- Insert disc two, then do the same thing (i.e. the Blackman afro) and you'll see footage of all the dance sequences from the closing credits, but for copyright reasons this clip does not contain sound.
|Q: I heard that there's going to be a Strangers With Candy movie. Is this true?|
A: Yes, it's true. Filming of the Strangers With Candy motion picture wrapped at the end of July 2004 in New Jersey, and I even got to do an uncredited cameo in the background of the Teachers Lounge scene! Roberts/David Films, Inc. produced, along with David Letterman's Worldwide Pants. The big screen version of SWC made its debut in competition at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2005. Warner Independent Pictures bought distribution rights at Sundance and soon after announced the date of October 21, 2005, for the premiere, but the deal fell through a few months later. On February 7, 2006, it was announced that the film's producers had concluded a distribution deal with TH!NKFilm. The movie had a limited release on June 28, 2006, in New York and Los Angeles. In the following weeks, the release was extended to other cities throughout the country, and it even opened in a few locations overseas. Visit the official SWC Movie website, or my movie page, or my SWC Movie headquarters for more information.
|Q: What does Jerri say about the TV during the second and third seasons' animated opening?|
A: Some people think that she says, "I stoled a TV. Did some more time," but in fact she says, "I stole the TV..." People also wonder why she says this. Basically, when Amy Sedaris was recording the voiceover for the opening she was just ad-libbing. She was improvising during her narration and described what she saw happening on the screen. The narration was a little different when the first few episodes of the second season aired for the first time. For more information about how the narration changed, go here.
|Q: Why isn't Orlando in the Strangers With Candy movie? And why did they get different actors to play Derrick and Guy Blank?|
A: Well, that's two questions, but since they're both about movie casting I'll answer them both here.
The Strangers With Candy movie takes place when Jerri Blank is first released from prison and decides to return to live with her parents and re-enroll as a freshman at Flatpoint High School. Since almost five years have passed in the real world since the series was canceled many of the actors who played students have aged beyond the point of being able to pass convincingly as teenagers. In order to highlight the absurdity of having a 46 year-old woman attending high school it's important that the age difference between her and her classmates be glaringly obvious. The concept would be a bit diluted if the kids who surround Jerri appear to be pushing 30 themselves.
Of course I miss the series cast members that we all came to know and love (Orlando Pabotoy, Larc Spies), but I understand the reasons behind the decision to bring in replacements who are age-appropriate (Carlo Alban, Joseph Cross) and who can represent the essence of the original characters. I'm sure they would have loved for Orlando Pabotoy and Larc Spies to have been involved somehow, but even if they could have found a way, Orlando probably wouldn't have wanted to participate. He apparently found it difficult to listen to all of the racist insults that Jerri would say to his character, even though those comments are supposed to highlight her ignorance and ridiculousness to the audience.
As for Dan Hedaya replacing Roberto Gari in the role of Jerri's father, Guy Blank, I believe that the creative minds behind the series and the film just decided to take the character in a different direction. Instead of showing a man who appears to the audience to be catatonic, but to the residents of Flatpoint is in fact a very active senior, they reimagined the character as a father who slipped into a coma-like state after he lost both his daughter (to a life of crime and prison) and his wife (to death). So the movie version of Guy Blank doesn't just appear to be catatonic to the audience, but also to the other characters around him. The casting replacement was strictly a creative decision.
Visit the official SWC Movie website, or my movie page, or my SWC
Movie headquarters for more information.
|Q: Why isn't Stephen Colbert credited as being one of the writers of "Strangers With Candy"? I've heard Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello say that all three of them collaborated on story ideas and dialogue.|
Stephen Colbert did contribute story ideas, situations, dialogue, and more, but Paul Dinello did most of the actual writing. Paul and Amy Sedaris would get in a room, often with their Additional Writer (e.g. Matt Lappin), and they would take the idea that someone (Amy, Paul, Stephen, or someone else) came up with and expand upon it, while Stephen was often busy doing double duty at "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". Amy would improvise and act things out (as she always had done with her brother David Sedaris, who did most or all of the actual writing for the semi-annual plays they collaborated on in New York) and Paul would put everything into words on paper or on a computer. Paul and Amy usually went through their writing process at the office provided by Comedy Central, but during the third season they went to Stephen's hometown (Charleston, South Carolina) and wrote 8 of that season's 10 episodes there. It was definitely a team effort. I think that there may be some legal, technical, Writers' Guild-related kind of reason for Stephen's lack of an official writer's credit, but I'm not sure what it is. If I find out, I'll certainly explain it here.
|Q: Do you have transcripts of "Strangers With Candy" episodes or Amy Sedaris's appearances on talk shows?|
A: I don't have transcripts of SWC episodes, nor do I have many for Amy's talk show appearances. This is primarily because other people have done the work already at other websitesand it's a LOT of work, believe me! You can find transcripts for some SWC episodes at Deb's Paul Dinello fan site. For transcripts of some Amy Sedaris TV interviews, check the "Appearances" section at amysedaris.com and the "Amy Sedaris TV Interviews" section at amysedarisrocks.com. Any transcripts that I've done for jerriblank.com can be found here.
|Q: Where did they film the series and the movie?|
A: Some Flatpoint High School exteriors were done at Verona High School (151 Fairview Avenue, Verona, NJ). The football field scenes in "Behind Blank Eyes" and the climactic sack race scene in "The Goodbye Guy" were filmed at Iona Preperatory School (255 Wilmot Road, New Rochelle, NY), which was Stephen Colbert's father's old school. Noblet and Jellineck's tryst in "Hit and Run" took place at Verona Park (Bloomfield Avenue & Pleasant Valley Way). Second and Third Season school interiors were shot at the old Felician College Library (223 Montross Avenue, Rutherford, NJ) and the cast's dressing rooms were in the "castle" behind the library. The Noblets' house in "To Love, Honor, and Pretend" was on Hackett Place, just around the corner from the school. The Willowbrook Mall (1400 Willowbrook, Wayne, NJ) was used in "Blank Stare, Part I" for the scene where Jerri meets Rebecca for the second time and is convinced to go with her to Safe Trap House. As for the movie, the school scenes were filmed at the Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the Blank family home was located in Springfield, New Jersey.
|Q: So, what are those Strangers up to now?|
A: Check the Flatpoint Tattler for updates. If there's anything to report, that's where I'll put it.
|Q: When is so-and-so's birthday?|
A: These are the ones that I know, in calendar order:
- January: Ross Bickell (Mr. Tidbits): January 14, 1947; Luther Creek (Student in Noblet's class) January 28, 1972
- February: Tim Meadows (Percy Kittens): February 5, 1961; Kevyn Aucoin (Sharpei): February 14, 1962
- March: Alan Tudyk (Father): March 16, 1971; Kelly Hutchinson (Sylvia): March 17, 1976; Amy Sedaris (Jerri Blank): March 29, 1961
- April: Larry Marshall (Jazzy): April 3, 1944; David Cross (Dr. Trepanning): April 4, 1964; Ken Hudson Campbell (Glenn): April 6, 1963; Paul Rudd (Brent Brooks): April 6, 1969; Deborah Rush (Sara Blank): April 10; Stephen Colbert (Chuck Noblet): April 20, 1964 (or May 13, according to some sources); Rachel Williams (Herself): April 29, 1967
- May: Matt Newton (Alan): May 11, 1977
- June: Fred Koehler (Ricky): June 16, 1975; Mark McKinney (Lee): June 26, 1959
- July: Troy Metcalf (Troy, the "scab" guy): July 11, 1973; Will Ferrell (Bob Whitely): July 16, 1967
- August: Jessica Boevers (Melissa): August 25, 1972; John Hensley (Stoner): August 29, 1977
- September: Cheri Oteri (Hillary): September 19, 1965; Joel Fabiani (Orthodontist): September 28, 1936; Janeane Garofalo (Cassie Pines): September 28, 1964
- October: Dylan Baker (Minister Arsenew): October 7, 1959; Matt Walsh (Banker and doctor robot voices): October 13, 1964; Sarah Thompson (Poppy's friend, Brittany): October 25, 1979; Andy Richter (Career Wizard, Tweetzie Railroad Indian, NutriWhiz Clerk): October 28, 1966; Winona Ryder (Fran): October 29, 1971
- November: Ellen Pompeo (Lizzy Abrams): November 10, 1969; Heather Matarazzo (Renee): November 10, 1982; Richard Kind (Dr. Harry Link): November 22, 1956; Paul Dinello (Geoffrey Jellineck): November 28
- December: Bernie McInerney (Dr. Zorders): December 4, 1936; Chuck Caruso (Trake): December 4, 1974; Chris Carmack (Laird): December 22, 1980; Bebe Neuwirth (Herself, Public Service Announcement): December 31, 1958
|Q: Why did they kill off Guy Blank in the second season?|
A: There are a few main reasons why Guy Blank (Roberto Gari) was written out of the show in "The Goodbye Guy". First, the writers thought that many people just didn't "get" the joke. Some people just couldn't reconcile in their minds how an apparently catatonic man could appear to be active to those around him. They came up with the joke in the first place to parallel the fact that in most of the old ABC After-School Specials there was a father who was either not present or who was very weak and emotionally distant. The catatonia situation is addressed in the movie, in which Guy Blank not only appears to be in a coma to the audience but actually is in a stress-induced coma, and his family, friends, and other folks of Flatpoint all acknowledge his situation. Second, it was getting more and more difficult to keep coming up with fresh gags in order to include an active catatonic senior in scenes. And third, since SWC was a satire on the old After-School Specials, the death of a family member seemed like an appropriate plotline to pursue. It was certainly the kind of situation, fraught with melodrama, that those 1970's cautionary tales for teenagers would have dealt with.
|Q: Do you know where I can find a copy of Florrie Fisher's book, "The Lonely Trip Back"?|
A: It used to be very easy to find copies of "The Lonely Trip Back," back in the days before I started telling people about it. You used to be able to go to amazon.com and find sellers with used copies in really good condition, but you'll rarely ever find it there now. And the hard cover used to go for ten to fifteen dollars (in really good condition) just three years ago, but now you'd be lucky to find a beaten-up paperback for that price. You can also try half.com, eBay, or other websites that sell used books, but if you don't have any luck you'll just have to keep trying because you never know when a copy will become available. I was lucky enough to get a hard cover and paperback, plus editions translated into French and German, back in 2003. When Amy, Paul, and Stephen were beginning to write the "Strangers With Candy" movie, also in 2003, I bought the last reasonably priced copies I could find to give to the trio for inspiration.
|Q: Why did Comedy Central cancel "Strangers With Candy"?|
A: Why do television executives do anything? My answer would be ratings and money. I also heard that there was a lack of interest in the show from a newly hired executive who wanted to put her own pet projects on the air, like a cat that sprays the furniture to mark his territory. One of those new projects was the Julie Brown series "Strip Mall", hence the storyline in "The Last Temptation of Blank" in which Flatpoint High School was being replaced by a strip mall. The school board characters in that final episode, Lee and Hillary, were supposedly based on specific network executives. According to Amy, Paul, and Stephen, to this day they still haven't been officially notified that their show was cancelled!
|Q: Is there a chance that Comedy Central, or some other cable outlet (MTV, FX) could bring "Strangers With Candy" back to television?|
A: I guess I've learned that anything is possible, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Although it's not unheard of for a show that's been canceled to be revived, even after a few years, I don't think that it's likely in this case. I think that it's more common in England for a few episodes of a series to be filmed and broadcast, and then after a break of many months or years a new batch is written and produced ("Absolutely Fabulous" has done this, for example). But I'll never say "never". That's what I said about a potential DVD release from Comedy Central, not to mention a movie ever being made, and I've been proven wrong on both accounts.
|Q: Has the "Strangers With Candy" creative team really written a book?|
A: Yes, they have. Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert wrote Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not, with photography by Todd Oldham. Buy the book from
Barnes & Noble. The unabridged audio version of Wigfield is also available at Amazon. Also, in September or October of 2006 Amy Sedaris's guide to entertaining, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, should be available from your local book store, or at an online vendor like Amazon.
|Q: Where can I see more of that guy who played Alan in episode 2-02, "Behind Blank Eyes"?|
A: It appears that Matt Newton has given up the mattnewton.com internet domain, but you can visit his myspace site. Whenever he sends me any career updates, like upcoming TV or film appearances, I always put a notice on my News page.
|Q: Do you know where I can buy that song, "Feeling Good", that they played at the end of "Behind Blank Eyes" and "The Virgin Jerri"? Or how about that "Funky Beat" song from Old Habits, New Beginnings and Who Wants Cake?|
A: I love "Feeling Good"!!! You can order it from Strong Island Records.
Many people have asked about "Funky Beat", but this song, I believe, was taken from a royalty-free, "public domain" compilation that is used within the industry. For example, whenever characters in a movie or TV show sing "Happy Birthday", the producers have to pay a royalty to the copyright holders. Using music and images that are in the public domain can save a lot of money in the budget for a film or series. I think that the music from many other closing credits dance sequences (e.g. "A Burden's Burden", "Jerri is Only Skin Deep") also came from one of these compilations. Basically, a royalty-free piece of music (or video clip, like the monkey drowning the duck) can be used by producers without them having to pay the song's composers or performers for that usage.
|Q: I'd love to have a "Strangers With Candy" tee-shirt. Are there any fans out there who make quality SWC-inspired merchandise?|
A: Unfortunately, every time a fan opens a bootleg online store to sell shirts, lunchboxes, stickers, totes, thongs, etc. they get shut down by Comedy Central's legal team. If I get word of any new online shops who are taking their chances and opening up for business I'll post the info here. As for me, I have nothing for sale myself. I can't sell you any of my props from the show, no tee-shirts, no copies of Amy Sedaris's appearances on late-night talk shows. Nothing. Sorry. Even though jerriblank.com ends with a "com", which is supposed to stand for "commercial", this is not a commercial site. It is not a business. I do not make money from my work here. This is just a public service that I extend to you, pro bono. It is my gift to you and my sole contribution to society. I believe I heard some buzz hinting that a Nobel Prize nomination for me is in the works. I'll let you know how that pans out.
|Q: Can you tell me anything about Amy, Paul, and Stephen's sketch-comedy series, "Exit 57"?|
A: Everything that I know is on my "Exit 57" page.
|Q: Do you have an MP3 of that song, "My Wife Dumped Me For a Guy Named Jesus", that Paul Dinello sang on "Exit 57"?|
A: You can find a lame copy of it that I made, for now, by following this link When you get to that page, right-click the appropriate link and save the file to somewhere on your hard drive. If that doesn't work, right-click this link and save the target to your hard drive.
Or, you can buy "The Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater" by Sheldon Patinkin. The book comes with two CD's of comedy sketches and a slightly different version of the song is included on one of the discs. (Thanks to David Avis for this info.)
|Q: It looks like you've put a lot of time into your "Strangers With Candy" pages. You must really like the show, eh?|
A: Ya think?! And remember, this is a fan site. It is not officially affiliated with Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central, or anyone else associated with "Strangers With Candy", that is why I call it Tony's "Strangers With Candy" Companion. I am Tony. When you send email to firstname.lastname@example.org you are sending email to Tony at jerriblank.com, not to Amy Sedaris, or Stephen Colbert, or Paul Dinello, or Maria Thayer, or Jack Ferver, or Greg Hollimon, or Deborah Rush, or Larc Spies, or anyone else.
|Q: Is there an address where I can send fan mail to any of the cast members of "Strangers With Candy"?|
A: When the show was still on the air, Comedy Central had an email address that was supposedly for fan mail, but I doubt that it ever made its way to the stars. Unfortunately, there is currently no system set up for the processing of fan mail, neither postal nor online. One outlet for Amy Sedaris fan mail can be found at amysedaris.com. When people send notes, sycophantic blather, heartfelt letters, tell-all confessions, ransom notes, or email messages for Amy, the site's webmistress is kind enough to bundle all of those missives together and send them off to Ms. Sedaris via snail mail.
|Q: Can you send me an autographed picture of Amy Sedaris? Or maybe a lock of her hair? Or perhaps a stool sample?|
A: Uh, no, you sicko. I'm not like that freak in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert who carried around that ABBA turd, so I can't help you out there. However, if you're resourceful enough you might be able to find her mailing address (this is more difficult now that she's got an unlisted number). If you do find her address and send her a letter, I hear that she's very good about responding to fan mail, but if you want a response from her it would be considerate if you included a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Just don't stalk her, please. I'm already stalking her and if you butt into the action it'll draw too much attention to me and then Amy will probably move to an undisclosed location (as Dick Cheney did for a while right after 9/11). Maybe you can stalk Rachel Dratch or Stephnie Weir instead, mmm-kay?
|Q: So... tell me a little bit about yourself.|
A: Well, that's not really a question, and this isn't really the appropriate place for this kind of discussion, but if you really want to learn a little bit about me you can head over to my personal pages, to my semi-regularly updated web log, or to my brief bio, What About Me!?
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