I met Nikki Gold and Gerard Bianco, Jr. at the 2012 LA Web Fest. I was representing the “Bitter Bartender” web series with its star and producer David Gunning while they were representing “Method or Madness”, their improvisational web series about the lives of two Lucyesque aspiring actors in New York City.
We ran into each other outside of a screening room where “Bitter Bartender” was showing and struck up a conversation with them over the “Method or Madness” t-shirts they were wearing. We exchanged information and I offered to do a write-up of the show for the website.
At the time of this interview – conducted April 16, 2012, the series hadn’t premiered online yet and was a few months from doing so. Or so we all thought. But “Method or Madness” finally premiered this past September and the entire first season is available on blip.tv (links to each episode are way below).
1. How did you two meet and how did that evolve into this partnership?
Nikki: We talk about the day we met a lot. I don’t really remember that much about it.
Gerard: Apparently I didn’t make a lasting impression.
Nikki: No he didn’t. (Laughs) I do remember we were working on a TV show in New York. Gerard said something really hilarious and I laughed and it was instant friendship.
Gerard: That’s about right.
Nikki: Well, what do you remember about the day?
Gerard: That was definitely about right.
Nikki: You said something funny.
Nikki: And I laughed. And that was how we met.
Gerard: That was how we met. Nikki had a great sense of humor as well. That helped.
Nikki: Yes, and our friendship has been surrounded by a lot of laughter and fun.
Gerard: We were both freezing. It was a very cold, exterior shoot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we ran off to Crafty to get a tea. That was it. We made each other laugh all day.
2. Was “Method or Madness” the foundation of the partnership or did you two join forces and then create “Method or Madness”?
Nikki: We became friends and bonded over pursuing acting and we were each other’s support system for a long time. I was doing theatre and Gerard was doing film. We were not fully fulfilled in our career paths.
Gerard: We brought each other in on a lot of projects because we were pursuing similar paths. And when people cast us for things, they’d call me and ask if Nikki was also available. We ended up creating this partnership that was great on a friend level but also on a professional level. It’s not always easy to find. The first project we worked on together was a play that Nikki was cast in.
Nikki: It was not really professional.
Gerard: Which she was not very forthcoming about.
Nikki: I didn’t mention the fact that it wasn’t in a theatre.
Gerard: She told me she got cast in this play and one of the male leads dropped out. I should have known that was a red flag.
Nikki: You did the play regardless.
Gerard: I did an improv for the director at my audition.
Nikki: He loved you.
Gerard: We had a lot of fun.
Nikki: Gerard started helping this guy direct it as well.
Gerard: I realized I could do more directing – not just show up and learn my lines and perform. Nikki did set design and we worked together on some re-writes. That was the first spark…
Nikki: …that we could work together.
Gerard: Working together and creating. The creativity just started to flow.
Nikki: We tried to write a play together. We never finished that.
Gerard: It was a really funny play.
Nikki: We’re going to finish it one day.
Gerard: We wanted to produce that play but we just saw no way to.
Nikki: It’s very difficult producing a play. But we realized we really liked working together and that’s really where “Method or Madness” started. We enjoyed working together so much that we decided to just do our own project. We’d get to work together more often. And make it funny.
Gerard: We watched a lot of independent projects and got to the point where we felt we could do something better than some of the stuff that was out there.
Gerard: Especially if we teamed up.
3. So how did “Method or Madness” come about?
Gerard: We had other web series ideas. And because we spent so much time together, we could capitalize on that because we had so many shared experiences.
Nikki: Walking in the city something funny would happen…
Gerard: …in the middle of the day because we’re unemployed. So there was a lot of down time -- things that go on when you’re stuck in an office all day as opposed to bouncing around the city the entire day. We had seven stories in one day.
Nikki: And they were all funny. Or we thought they were.
Gerard: We only concentrate on the funny stuff…
Nikki: …that we could use in a sitcom or a web series.
Gerard: We wanted to do something that was truth in comedy. People and situations.
Nikki: Then we started writing a little bit and brainstorming ideas for episodes of a web series.
Gerard: We had a really fun idea right before “Method or Madness”.
Nikki: I don’t remember it.
Gerard: We had the therapist and that whole…thing.
Nikki: Ohhhhhhh….we were going to do our whole series based on us meeting with either a life coach or a therapist.
Gerard: It starts with us having a breakdown.
Nikki: That’s right! I forgot about that! You having a meltdown in one place and me having a meltdown in another place.
Gerard: But how would that make sense? We had the same breakdown. We had the same therapist. It was going to be too contrived.
Nikki: We wanted something a little more organic with our web series.
Gerard: We wanted it to be a little more natural.
Nikki: Situation based.
Gerard: As natural as it can be for two people together 24/7.
Nikki: That’s not natural. We spend a lot of time together. We were doing videos while we were doing a fundraiser for our web series – thanking people for their support and asking for more support because we were getting closer. We were in Gerard’s apartment and I did refer to it at one point as home. I don’t think my husband would have appreciated that.
Oh…now THAT is an interesting dynamic.
Nikki: Gerard was at my wedding.
Gerard: I’ve been adopted into the family. Nikki’s nana is the Jewish grandmother I never had.
Nikki: My husband’s also in a creative field. He’s very supportive of the work that we’re doing. And I’m very supportive of the work he does. We both understand the importance of having a career and creating. That’s why artists have to be together and goof up. You need to be with people that are going to support the craziness of trying to create something. I have some friends that are artists and they are married or they’re dating people that are in different fields. Those are the people that have a ton of money. They don’t quite get it. They financially support it, but they belittle what we’re doing.
Gerard: “Why would you do that play for no money?” Because that’s what gets us up everyday.
Nikki: Fortunately I’ve got support from the hubby.
Gerard: Mr. Farren.
Nikki: Gold is my maiden name and Farren is my stage name. It’s very funny when I check into a hotel under my married name and Gerard is referred to as “Mr. Farren”.
Gerard: She gets “Mrs. Bianco” all the time.
Nikki: We liken our relationship to Elaine and Jerry on “Seinfeld”.
Gerard: Did they? Will they? Have they?
Nikki: It’s difficult for our series because we’re playing exaggerated versions of ourselves. Ray Romano had his own TV show. Louis CK has his own TV show. They use things that are part of their real lives, but it’s not 100% true. They may be in a relationship that doesn’t carry over into the show. When we talk about our relationship on the show, it’s not so much our relationship in real life.
Gerard: Nikki is not married on the show.
Nikki: We thought it would be interesting if we were both single and exploring relationships. We’re single. We’re best friends. But would they get together? Wouldn’t they get together?
Gerard: It’s something we’re definitely going to explore.
Nikki: People are interested in that.
Gerard: Sex does sell and people want to root for the main characters to get together. When I watch shows I think eventually they’ll get together. Even just the idea of when my character has a date. Is Nikki’s character going to have date? When she has a date am I going to be jealous?
Nikki: There’s a human interest in that. We could be attracted to each other, but we’re friends. There’s fun tension there.
Gerard: People watch our video blogs together and question them.
Nikki: But it makes them keep watching. And that’s really what we want. We want to build an audience. We want to tell a story that’s entertaining and interesting. We want people to see these characters and follow their adventures.
Gerard: There’s a little more truth with each other. There’s plenty of stuff you can’t really…
Nikki: ...tell one of your guy friends?
Gerard: Yeah. I would never tell one of my bros…
Nikki: …that you’re having a bad hair day. Not that you’ve ever had bad hair days. You’ve got great hair. That’s another thing we connect on.
Gerard: We’ve both got great hair.
4. Should you two decide to go this route, how would “Method or Madness” best be adapted for television?
Gerard: When we start creating these episodes and doing these outlines, we have a 30-minute episode in our minds of what it could be and cut it down to the five. If you watch any of our episodes, they can easily be adapted to a longer structure.
Nikki: It’s in the same style of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. And even “Seinfeld”. Probably more “Curb”. It can be on HBO. We can adapt it for HBO.
Gerard: We introduce really fun characters throughout the show and if we needed to adapt it we would make some of those characters more constant.
Nikki: It’s harder to do that with a web series. You have a shorter amount of time. So we’re really the constant things in this series but we’d love to have other characters.
Gerard: And we’re having fun casting different actors for every episode because we love working with more people and I think the audience enjoys it as well. And because it’s a situational series, you can’t have the same people playing those parts. But we could have a few more constant characters. If we needed to adapt this, we could easily.
Nikki: Our series would fit well on television. Some web series are more vignettes and they work well that way. But “Method or Madness” could have stories that follow through a season.
Gerard: We’re at the point now where we have to choose whether or not to continue this way because every episode essentially could go into the next…
Nikki: …where you have to see the episode before to keep following.
Gerard: We’re in that phase. Do we continue the story or do we just keep doing vignettes?
Nikki: For the web series, we might have to keep doing the vignettes.
Gerard: But what we’re going to keep constant and what would help adapt to TV is the character traits of our main characters and any recurring people -- constantly revisiting those characters and their traits and their quirks. That’s what makes it human and makes it relatable.
Nikki. And fun to watch.
While out to lunch, Nikki and Gerard inadvertently offend their waitress and several customers.
Episode Two – “Put It On Your Tab?”
Nikki and Gerard search for day jobs – at their friend Ned’s bar.
Episode Three – “Aunt ToniAnn”
Nikki and Gerard turn to her wealthy aunt for help with Ned.
Episode Four – “It’s All About the Hair”
While at an audition, Nikki runs into a nemesis while Gerard falls into an opportunity.
Episode Five – “Dodo Loco”
Nikki helps Gerard prepare for his new role.
Episode Six – “The Deadly Trap”
Nikki enlists Gerard’s help in quitting a disastrous play.
Episode Seven – “The Actor’s Support Group”
Nikki and Gerard crash a support group, where they get some unlikely advice.
Episode Eight – “Table for Two”
Nikki and Gerard try to spend some time apart.
Original Fiction from a Sitcom Mind > The Halls of Shambala > The Non-Fiction Archives: 2012-2014 > Media Commentaries and Reaction Pieces >