Interview: Joe Avella (plus exclusive Delivery Dudes clip!)

Joe Avella is a Chicago-based filmmaker whose debut feature film, Master of Inventions, was released last year, and plans to unveil the entire first season of his newest project, a webseries called Delivery Dudes, tomorrow (Saturday, April 20th). The show features a slew of local improv and sketch performers cast as hapless pizza delivery drivers and their petulant customers.

Check out an exclusive first look at an episode of Delivery Dudes starring Kill All Comedy's Joey Dundale, as well as an interview with Joe below!

The Steamroller: So we haven't actually met before, tell me a little about yourself!

Joe Avella: I’ve been doing film and comedy stuff around Chicago for a while now. I was one half of the comedy duo Teenager of the Year. I now focus a lot on film stuff. Last year I released my first feature film called Master of Inventions. Uh, sometimes I make tasteless AIDS jokes.

TS: What's background behind Delivery Dudes? How'd you come up with the concept?

JA: It had been a while since I released Master of Inventions and I really wanted to do a new project, but nothing as big as another feature. I had the concept for a while, and figured it would be a great way to work with new people, try out different comedy styles and means for production.

I’d recently seen friends have great success with their web series, so I figured if I did a web series I’d automatically get the same exact success they got. I think it was Bill Cosby who said “The key to success is copying other people $$$$$”.

TS: Were there any other goals going into this project that you had in mind beyond producing a new series (expand your reach, work with a larger cast, find a way to eat a lot of pizza for work)?

JA: Yeah all those things! Yo, the pizza was from Little Caesars, because it’s only $5 for a medium cheese, sausage, or pepperoni pizza. And it’s ready to go when you order. And it’s really hot! It’s such a great deal. I go there all the time because it’s the best pizza deal in town. Great quality and affordable prices. And they just got dipping sauces too. Total game changer. I recommend Little Caesars to your readers. I also recommend checking out their site: there’s some great printable coupons there and the site automatically plays techno music when you visit, which I’m a big fan of (not dubstep though).

Another goal for the series was to make something that took shape as I worked on it. It was a mix of scripted and improvised performance which I hadn’t done much of before. Some episode ended up way different than how I originally planned. It was fun to do a concept that allowed me to bring in all some of my funny friends. There’s too many to name, so I won’t. Plus I’m bad with names.

TS: What have you learned about producing creative work for the web after all the work that went into making and releasing Master of Inventions?

JA: Well, for putting things on the web, I had to embrace the challenge of getting people to see it. And not in an annoying spam campaign to my friends on Facebook. I truly wanted to find a real audience. That was the whole point of making it and putting it out for free to begin with. Even though it’s easy to put stuff online, it’s very hard to get people to see it because everything online is boring [like this answer] and there’s too much noise []. So, the lesson became "don’t be boring."

At the core of that is making something that people want to talk about and share. The movie did pretty well with views and press, but nothing amazing, so clearly the issue lies in my ability as a filmmaker. Or comedian. Or whatever I am. (My aunt told my cousin I ‘write stand up for Second City’, so maybe that’s it). Regardless, I wasn’t un-boring enough. But that’s an issue of producing better content. Putting it online, out into this world, forced me to put my money where my mouth is, I guess. Yuck what an asshole answer. I’m surprised you read this whole thing. I wouldn’t have. Get back to work.

TS: What else do you have on the horizon? Can we expect more Delivery Dudes episodes?

JA: Yup. The web series went so well I wrote a Delivery Dudes pilot that’s currently in production. It’s going great and I’m really excited for people to see it. After that, I might do some more web series episodes. The focus right now is increasing the quality of my work, but also making it more accessible to an audience, like Little Caesers pizza. They’ve been a huge inspiration.