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Turning short end of stick into comedy shtick

<p>“Nothing is guaranteed,” says Dan Speerin, “on our end.” The “end” Speerin is talking about is the short end of the stick, generationally speaking.</p>


Gillian Hutchison plays Jolene, a passionate if unemployed activist in Twixters, now on bitetv.ca and Dan Speerin is the narrator and co-writer of the series.






“Nothing is guaranteed,” says Dan Speerin, “on our end.”



The “end” Speerin is talking about is the short end of the stick, generationally speaking. It’s depicted in Twixters, a series of satirical episodes about life between adolescence and adulthood broadcast recently on Bite Television (Rogers Channel 322) and currently on the web at bitetv.ca and on Facebook, with a blog and additional content at twixterstv.com.



Speerin, 24, and his creative partner, Wes McClintock, 25, are the writers and directors of the five-minute vignettes featuring such characters as Jolene.



She’s “a passionate activist without a cause, just out of university with a philosophy degree, unemployed, looking to change the world, one blog at a time.” There’s Neil and Amy, “forever stuck in their minimum-wage jobs ... who think winning the lottery falls under ‘long-term goals.’” And Warren, “who plays it safe” by attending university and landing “a respectable 9-to-5 desk job ... So, basically, he’s given up.”



“It’s not cynicism,” Speerin is quick to explain about the view from the 20-something “end” of these characters. “It’s perceptiveness.”



And so, for this post-dot.com, delayed coming-of-age, YouTube half-generation, the “end” might be defined as the end of a reasonable expectation for fulfilment and the good life. The end of hoping to gain a toehold to make it big — or even just to get out of debt.



University debt is a big factor for his generation, says Speerin, who grew up in Barrie. He met McClintock, from Burlington, at the Humber College comedy writing and performance program.



“It wasn’t a positive college experience,” he says, “so basically we bonded over our lost money and started our own comedy group.”



Twixters evolved from Cynically Tested, the comedy group started by Speerin and McClintock to create and produce video sketches. The group’s name reflects that “everything in our culture has been marketed based on focus groups, so everything goes through the spin machine and nothing is coherent or authentic or true.”



Making the six Twixters episodes cost all of $600. Rehearsals were “table reads” done at Tim Hortons. Each episode was shot in a day, and Speerin edited the tape on his home computer.



Speerin knows the window of opportunity he’s trying to open is not only elusive but also shifting. There’s a generation of teenagers preparing to push him aside, a generation even more adapted to media platforms still to come. “We like to joke that we feel old at 24 because we knew what a card catalogue was at the library,” he says.



And where does he expect to be 20 years from now?



“Still making weekly trips to the bank to pay off student loans, probably also paying off the candy bar I bought in 2012,” he says.


 
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