The fact that The Macaulay Culkin* Show has never had its namesake on stage doesn’t bother Sally Burtnick, the show’s co-creator. Since December 2013 when it debuted, it’s gained a reputation of being insane, and people have started caring about the show for its own sake. Despite the lack of Mac, the show’s had a huge year, with success neither she nor her co-creator Brett Davis could foresee. We rang her up to hear about it, and get a peek inside their upcoming performance, a staged reading of the screenplay Whenever Possible Forever, starring Jon Glaser.
The show is moving into its second year. What has the response been like?
It’s been really, really great. You know, we’ve gotten a bunch of press and more, bigger comedians have heard about the show and have been down to do it. And some of them haven’t heard of it and they’re just down to do it—really cool, cool comedians—so that works too.
We’re still using it as a showcase to get less-known comics out there. It’s gotten, if anything, crazier and more chaotic. Our goal is to scare people!
At first, people were really sketched out by the venue. People in the beginning were definitely more like, “I’m in what seems to be a warehouse bathroom doing comedy.” But I think we’ve also kinda shown the Brooklyn comedy scene that Shea Stadium is a place that you can do stuff. As far as I know, we’re still the only comedy show they’re doing.
I think now we’re doing more longform stuff. This coming show for sure is the biggest testament to that, because we’re not even doing a standup showcase. We’re just doing a screenplay that Brett wrote. It’s gonna be absolutely insane. In August we had a big show where everybody did five minutes and we had twenty people on as opposed to seven, and that was really fun. But this is going to be the first show where we’ve done just a performance that doesn’t include separate sets of standup.
A little while ago I emailed [Culkin’s band] The Pizza Underground to ask them if they would do the show. They said, “Yeah, we’re aware of the show, it sounds really fun, but unfortunately we’re not booking shows at the moment.” He knows about it, and we still haven’t gotten sued, so that’s a plus.
Brett responded [to Jon Glaser’s challenge to write a screenplay called Whenever Possible Forever] with the first ten pages of what ended up being like a 50-page screenplay that follows Peter Cetera of the band Chicago, navigating his way through a post-apocalyptic universe with a young man named Tommy (the protagonist) under his wing. They have to battle the forces of evil in order to come out on top.
I think we can expect that classic Glaser charm. He’s gonna be playing Peter Cetera, so he’s our hero. You know, we haven’t done a run-through, like a cold read yet. I think at the show will probably be the first time we all do it together.
I think that it’s going really well now. This one, like I said, is gonna be different from any of the ones we’ve done so far. But I know we wanna do more film stuff and release that—like film a whole show and release that—and record a show as audio and release it as a comedy CD. Those are in the works, but we haven’t released them yet.
Catch The Macaulay Culkin Show at Shea Stadium (20 Meadow Street, Brooklyn) this Sunday at 7 p.m. for just $5.