There are so many web series out there, that its hard to know what to watch, and we get flooded with requests to watch new web series. Most of the series we get are created by talented, and very funny people, but how do you stand out when there are stacks and stacks of them? If you want to know, you can ask young New York comedian Mike Brown, because when he sent us his web series “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” back in October, it definitely stood out. You might not know Mike yet, but you will. He’s a talented writer and performer as you can see watching his new webseries. He’s also killing it on stage in New York clubs.
The series is set in Harlem NY, and features funny, fast paced vignettes. It’s not just a string of jokes or pranks, Mike has something to say. The series takes on issues like street harassment, depression, problems facing black couples, the representation of “black America” and even the issue of “black privilege.” It’s beautifully shot, showcases some great neighborhoods of Harlem, and it’s really funny. Some familiar young comedy faces show up throughout as well. Amazing up and coming talents like Dan Perlman, Rojo Perez, and Shakir Standley are just a few of the faces we recognized from the clubs. The trailer was the first thing that caught our attention.
Episode one is another real attention grabber. In “The List,” comedian Dan Perlman makes a big scene at a Harlem basketball court when he comfortably throws out the n-word on during a game. When the game stops cold, Perlman’s character says he got permission from his black friend to use the word, and the scene rolls out from there. In later episodes Brown deals with the many problems of having a girlfriend and what’s expected of you in some complicated situations. Like how do you deal with some guy harassing your chick in the street, or what’s expected of you when the girl your with gets her phone grabbed on the street.
Mike released Season One of the series throughout October, and he says he has Season Two already written. We talked to him about the series, and how he put it all together. Brown, who is also a young stand up, faced a common problem. He had some great ideas, but no connections to get them turned into a something real. “Comedy is really weird now and I don’t have a big agency repping me or the quote unquote “elusive heat” that no one can really say what it is,” he said. “It’s so hard as a young comic to get noticed at all. You don’t have enough followers or you’re not going to hit our demographic, and it’s like ‘hey I got talent I have jokes I want to do stuff.’ You feel either overlooked or ignored or whatever, and then for me to have this series, some friend of mine haven’t even watched it and I think it’s because everybody has a fucking web series.”
But Mike felt like he really had something good to put out, and he hadn’t seen anything like it. When he got frustrated enough, he gave in and posted on Facebook– something he normally hates– to ask if anyone wanted to help him create the series. He connected with Justin Hartough and Ronnie Flemming through mutual friends. Hartough has worked with Spike Lee, and Michael Moore, and had a great sense of humor. So he had some great credits, and Brown knew Ronnie and Justin were the right guys to help him create “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”. He credits Hartough and Flemming with making the series look so good. “They did everything!” he said.
Some of Brown’s ideas for the series came from his own real life experiences, and others came from his stand up act. The series first episode, “The List” which revolves around a white kid getting permission from a black friend to use the n-word was originally a stand up bit that Mike said could never get to work.”I had as an idea, that being able to say the n-word was like being in a resort and that was like our thing,” he said. “I could never use it. I would say it on stage and lets say it would be a mostly white audience, and they were like, yeah I kind of like that. and then I would do it in a mostly black room and they would be like ‘nah man, we’re not rocking with that at all.’ So I was like, this is funny to me and I have to make this a thing.” What makes the episode work, Brown said, is that the white character who said the n-word didn’t come off like a racist. “The issue is, my character giving the power and what that means,” he said.
Episode two, which introduces Sean’s story arc, came out of a Tinder date with a woman who had been bothered in the street by men who lived in her building. That gave Mike an idea for an unusual anti-hero. He thought, “how can I make a character that is just doing all the street harassing in the world but also ends up being the hero?” He cast his comedian friend Shakir Standley who was a semi finalist on Last Comic Standing and a cast member on Wild n Out this year, as the street trouble maker. But the episode isn’t really about Shakir’s character, and episode one wasn’t really about a white kid using the n-word. Brown says his focus in both episodes is on how his character reacts to being in these situations. “I didn’t want it to be a hot button issue. The same thing with the n-word, I don’t want the focus on that. I wanted the focus on this character, the character in this situation and also show how Sean is not really engaged with it. He’s trying to go outside of it. It’s about me being out here on these streets, you know what I mean? Hollerin.”
While there is a loose arc for the series, Mike really thinks of each episode as a one-off. Brown compared it to the UK series “Black Mirror,” which he said was a huge inspiration for “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” In Black Mirror, when you watch the episodes individually, he said, they don’t have any real connection. But then at the end of the series you begin to see how they all connect. Brown’s series revolves around one character– Sean Christopher Jones. “So what I was trying to do was make episodes that could stand alone. Have that moment and enjoy it. So if someone watches “Tear it Up,” they say oh, this is an episode about street harassment and they enjoy it. But the next one called “Songsterfy” is about a Spotify type app that ruins Shawn’s date.” The connection between the episode comes from Sean’s evolution. “I needed to make Sean go through these things because I wanted to get to depression. I wanted that to be a part of the show so I wanted him to be beat up on a lot. Because in the next season he deals with it and how he deals with it also pushes how other things are happening in his life. I need him to be beat up and I need people to kind of laugh at him and then the next season they can laugh with him. It was a very calculated.”
We’re looking forward to Season Two, which we’re told is starting filming this month. Check out all five episodes of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” on YouTube starting with episode one embedded below, and follow Mike Brown on Twitter @yomikebrown and @cantstopshow. He also hosts @comedyoutliers a live podcast show every month in New York City. Check it out. Mike Brown is definitely going to be someone you know.
Mike also has some shows in DC coming up Valentine’s Day weekend!! Link and info right here, go check him out DC!