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I was unemployed for a good deal of the past year.  The first 6 months or so I was unemployed by choice.  I had worked in restaurants for years and years while I pursued acting and writing in New York City and so I took some time to only focus on my real career.

Then the economy went in the pooper.

I started writing the scripts for HARD TIMES after presenting the idea to my friend Shawn Patrick Murphy, whom I thought was one of the funniest people I know.  We had been wanting to work together on something for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  So we took off running…

Backing up though, during my unemployment last year I also held a big staged reading of my full-length play JERSEY SHORE HOUSE at Playwrights Horizons.  We had Tony Award winning actors, Broadway veterans, a great director, great producers, and still nothing happened with it…well not yet.

After the reading, I sent out a script to an agency, Harden-Curtis, via a recommendation from an awesome friend.  They read the script, and I don’t fault them for not showing up at my house with a contract, I understand how it works, but I got this rejection letter in the mail:

HardenCurtisRejection

Again, I understand the letter, I think it’s perfectly reasonable, and I totally appreciate the personal note.  But I guess something in the last sentence of the first paragraph sparked something in me.  My play, which is about a family who comes together to help someone cope with the death of his fiancee, is apparently too Neil Simon for today’s brutal society.  I mean, I know I don’t write the gritty urban dramas about all the gangsters that I hang around with on the street corners who have AIDS, but I didn’t think I was that irrelevant.

So I started to think about the “hard times” we were living in.  Yes, I was unemployed and I couldn’t find a job.  So there’s a start.  But the fact is, I live in a world where I can rely on people that love me to help me out if I am down and out.  I can still go to the store and buy the good hummus.  You know, the Sabra, with the spicy red stuff in the middle?

I totally feel the effects of the economic downturn we’ve had – but is it just cause we’re Americans that we can’t have trouble realizing that no matter how high gas prices rise, we are still very fortunate to live the kind of life we live?  I’m a wannabe professional actor for God’s sake, in the most expensive city in the country, if life is so fucking hard for me, I can always take responsibility for myself and move back to North Carolina and find some job to buy groceries.  But instead, even in these “hard times” I still have the incredible fortune, the unbelievable luck, to pursue something as impractical as being a movie star.

But still. I took it to heart and I wrote “Hard Times: An Out of Workplace Comedy” about what it’s like day-to-day to be a normally very privileged middle-class college graduate who cannot find a job, any job, in New York City.  Take it for what it is.  Maybe it’s a commentary on how our idea of a “depression” is silly in comparison to the “depression” of the 1920’s or how our lifestyle is all relative depending on our surroundings.

Or maybe it’s just a silly comedy web series with jokes about our testicles.

Every artist, writer, musician, painter, etc. has a unique perspective.  They take what they have seen in their life, what they continue to see, and they vomit it back out in whatever medium makes sense to them, creating, to borrow from a Sam Shepard play, their “own special music.”  So here is HARD TIMES, Michael Ferrell style.  Thanks for watching!

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Hey HARD TIMES fans, check out this hilarious blog “The Daily Blonde” – from a true master of social media, web 2.0, etc.

Check out the funny article about craigslist job postings, featuring our pilot episode of HARD TIMES, “Be the Rat,” at the bottom.  Awesome!

THE DAILY BLONDE.

Daily Blonde

Hey HARD TIMES fans, check out this blog on unemployment called UNEMPLOYMENTALITY.  It’s a great place to visit for all things unemployment in these tough times, from job-finding advice, how to save pennies, and up-to-date news on the economy.

Next Episode of HARD TIMES – “Derek’s First Date,” drops on Monday 8/17 featuring the lovely and talented Candace Thompson.  Keep watching and keep your job!

Unemploymentality

So I googled “‘Hard Times’ comedy” to see what happens, and I learned this bit of news: MTV greenlit a new scripted comedy called “Hard Times,” a show about a 15 year-old kid with a big dick.

So…what happens now? We’ve got our little no-budget web series called “Hard Times” that’s been online since August 3rd, but now the super troopers at Viacom have purchased a similar product, also titled “Hard Times” (similar in that both are scripted comedies, our characters ‘Derek’ and ‘Adam’ actually have tiny penises). I guess maybe…nothing? We’ll get our few hundred to a few thousand views and then MTV will come out with their “Hard Times” show and no one will care. Or. Maybe I will receive a “cease and desist” letter even though our show was out already. Maybe that doesn’t matter? Maybe people will search “hard times” in youtube, etc. and our show will receive tens of thousands more views because of it. Maybe MTV won’t like that and I will be assassinated.

Dear MTV, please don’t assassinate me. I grew up with you. I remember the man on the moon and all that shit. When Real World 1 came out I was glued to the TV. Yes, I have since turned on you. No, I haven’t watched you in over a decade cause you have nothing to offer anyone over the age of nothing. But still.

Maybe this will help us get publicity. In the world of web series and DIY entertainment, what happens when this happens? Well, newteevee, tilzy, tubefilter, etc. – you have your story.

Stay tuned for Episode 3 of HARD TIMES (or, soon to be known as DIFFICULT TIMES THAT DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH VIACOM)…

The story on hollywood.com.

Dropping it like it’s hot on a Monday as we do, here’s Episode 2 – Adam’s Gay Roommate.  Filmed in my apartment with my actual (now ex-) roommate.  Also filmed at Urban Rustic, an awesome coffee shop/restaurant/grocery in my )now ex-) neighborhood.

Note from Michael:

I started writing “Hard Times” when I was still looking for a job.  I am an actor and writer with almost a decade of restaurant experience, so I was in and out of restaurants everyday.  Sucked.  While we were in production, I was working at a new restaurant when I got hired at a new media production company in New York City, making my first ever “salary” and receiving “health benefits.” I even made enough to pay our editor!  Ironically, on the premiere date of HARD TIMES – Episode 1, I spent the morning announcing to the world that my web series was out, and the afternoon getting let go from my job in new media production.  So now my web series is taking off, but I’m back on HARD TIMES…for real.  At least I have more time to do all the things I couldn’t do when I had a job.  After all, you can’t drink all day without starting in the morning.

Well, it’s Monday August 3rd. So that means it’s time to watch the first episode of HARD TIMES!

HARD TIMES is available all over the internets, but we’re focusing on youtube and funnyordie, so please check it out on one of those two sites.  Vote funny, digg, stumbleupon, rate, comment, embed, post, screw, email, finger, lick, give a thumbs up, and anything else that the internet is asking you to do – for EPISODE ONE – BE THE RAT.

Episode 1 is good – but it’s a pilot episode. The next couple episodes are hilarious in my unbiased opinion – so stay tuned and keep your job.

Posters for “Hard Times:”

Poster for Hard Times

Episode 1 Poster

Episode 2 Poster

The release date for “Hard Times” is AUGUST 3rd and from then on a new episode will be released EVERY MONDAY morning until all 6 episodes have spread across the land like pixie dust or sperm.

Here’s another teaser video of outtakes from the filming of Hard Times.  Actor Brandon Cardinal tries out a few improvs as his character comes out of the bedroom with some “straight” porn:

Remember, every Monday morning starting August 3rd.  If you like the show – tell your friends!  Embed the videos!  Make out with your sister!

The summer has been filled with Hard Times so far.  First Michael Jackson died then Sarah Palin quit.  Only one of them knew where Bucharest was.

But things are going to get a little brighter come August 3rd, because Hard Times Episode 1: “Be the Rat” will be released worldwide (China doubtful) over God’s great internet.  And by God I mean Al Gore and Kevin Smith.

We are also planning a PREMIERE PARTY for episodes 1-3 of “Hard Times,” location and time to be determined (probably Brooklyn where I stay at).  But one thing’s for sure: it will be BYOB.

To whet the appetite, here’s a rock and roll video by Fantasie Rock of a song called “Hard,” a version of which is our theme song for “Hard Times: An Out-of-Workplace Comedy.”

So remember – August 3rd we premiere.  By the way, I’m kicking around slogans, how’s this one: “Get Hard!”