Sarcastic Voyage - Nick and Willikins - The Omce and Future Nick
The main narrative thread of The Omce and Future Nick is built around our previous Nick and Willikins story, Nick of Nick Hall, in which Nick spends some time in the Victorian era, as all good English protagonists must at some point. I did my best to provide all the necessary exposition in this story, but I expect it all makes a lot more sense if you've heard that previous installment. (“Omce” was a typo that I made in one of the Nick of Nick Hall scripts, which he rather hilariously read as written in character. From that point forward, that was the “official” way the word was pronounced by Nick and by any of his descendants.)
• One of my favorite things about Nick and Willikins is Dave Fields as the narrator (the role's official name is Exasperated Narrator). It was always fun to find ways to involve him directly in the story, rather than just having him tediously rehash what was going on. My first draft of the first chapter of this serial was this elaborately run-on Charles Dickens homage — Dickens was on the long list of "Englishy English stuff we hadn't gotten to yet" and his prose style would have added a touch of fake class to kick things off. But then I imagined what Dave would say when I sent him this Dickensian quagmire to record. The end result is the phone conversation we open on.
We'd been promising to bring Nick and Willikins to "the colonies" since we created them in 2010. One (probably non-canonical) visit to Warlock-a-Geddon notwithstanding, they never quite managed to make it there. Until now! A small portion of this "coming to America to basically do things you could just do in England" business comes from the real-life inspiration for Nick. Of which, of course, there is officially none.
In 2012, we began planning for a Nick and Willikins adventure game, which was to take place in an amusement park containing ridiculously inaccurate representations of various European countries, a la Epcot Center. Sadly, this project could not be realized. I hate wasting good material, so I put it to good use here. Of course, then we did get to make a Nick and Willikins adventure game after all, but that was five years later so we just started fresh with a new idea for that.
I always love writing Maggie's characters at the most ridiculous emotional extremes possible. Angry Aaron Faucet is way up there, topped only by Utterly Delighted Nick.
"Beast crisps" came from Maggie and I imagining what animal crackers would be called in England. When we become a worldwide comedy phenomenon, they are on the very short list of officially licensed merchandise I would agree to producing.
"Does Nick have parents?" is a question I simultaneously always wanted the answer to and never actually wanted to answer. I feel like we managed to have it both ways with this story.
As an inverse to the principle I mentioned a minute ago, I hate when I have to play Willikins as angry or happy or... basically anything but wryly sarcastic. I don't feel as though I'm entirely up to the challenge, acting-wise.
The island being a staging ground for an epic battle of life and death is a completely original idea of mine and not, as you might think, a reference to anything.
German tourists putting towels on pool chairs is apparently a thing that English people experience and dread. Unless they're lying to me on QI. I don't know why they would do that, though.
Benefevolent Insurance is one of those companies that appears in a lot of Sarcastic Voyage sketches, starting with “For Your Protection” from 2012. I won't lie — I'm proud of the terrible name. Also this was probably the first hint that this serial was going to show how Nick and Willikins connected to every other part of the Sarcastic Voyage universe. Also also, apparently most insurance companies are owned by Germans, so that tied together my previous thing with the towels nicely.
I don't remember why I made the surgeon David Hasselhoff. I guess because the Germans love him? That was probably it. I did love Joe's super-sexy portrayal of him.
I had absolutely no interest in sending Nick on a legitimate quest to find his parents. Everything I could imagine there involved, like, trips to libraries and... I don't know, looking through phone books or something? I guess there's no reason they couldn't use the actual Internet... but that would make even less compelling radio. I stand by my decision to have Nick literally break the fourth wall and just ask the narrator what he needs to know. It's hardly a departure from form, either.
Nick and Willikins' arrival at Nick Hall was meant to evoke Downton Abbey. As I mentioned in the annotations for Nick of Nick Hall, there's a lot of that wonderful, terrible show in the DNA of Nick and Willikins.
"Billy No Mates" is an actual English insult, apparently. Usually when you hear a ridiculous turn of phrase in these things, it comes from a list I found on the Internet and not my brain.
Willikins has been gay in my mind for a long time, but we've never really had an opportunity to do anything with that. I don't feel like we quite did it the justice it deserved in this story either, but I gave it the old college dropout try in any case.
Firing the narrator was my way of gradually cutting off the characters' support system. Despite the fact that he doesn't do much in the way of supporting them.
The narrator's comment about "8 years of diligent service" is a reference that I don't expect even the most devoted SV listener to pick up on. Way back at the beginning of The Adventures of Nick and Willikins, we had our characters meet for the first time. Then they sort of ran in place for awhile. Then we jumped the story ahead three years because I hate the beginnings of stories and I just wanted to move past the "getting to know you" phase. So by my reckoning, these three had known one another for a total of eight years. I actually drew up timelines and everything. Also a family tree. It's all kind of ridiculous, I realize. But it's also fun. Don't judge me.
I still don't know how to pronounce "Patreon."
"Fathers being disappointed in their sons" is an aspect of approximately 95% of the fiction I enjoy, which is weird because I don't think my dad is especially disappointed in me and in general it doesn't really speak to anything in me. It's also something I'd never put in a story before, so I figured "what the hell." It also enabled me to create a character who could actually intimidate Nick, which I never imagined could happen. Maggie's genuine (and not remotely amped up for comedy) sadness when Nick talks to Lord Gordon over the phone from Englandland just continues to build a case for him as a quite solid voice actor. Don't tell him I said that.
The "American broadcasting concern" that Nick's grandfather purchased in the 50s was Harold Webster King's King Worldwide, which went under after his death in Citizen Crotch. It was turned into the SVN and SVFM networks that have been a mainstay of fake TV and radio shows on Sarcastic Voyage for the entirety of our run.
“Simply Having a Werewolf Christmastime” was one of the goofiest (and most delightful) things Maggie and I ever pulled out of our asses, in one of the Nick and Willikins Christmas Specials we recorded. Nick's fortune being built entirely on the proceeds from the song is based on the actual real-life fact that Sir Paul McCartney makes $400,000 a year on “Wonderful Christmastime.” No, seriously. Look it up.
Nick actually did invent both a Christmas robot and a brain-swapping machine in earlier installments of The Adventures of Nick and Willikins.
Nick's disdain for Russell Brand was a substantial thread in Nick of Nick Hall.
Referring to John Oliver as a "soccer commentator" was my way of complaining about his otherwise excellent HBO series talking about FIFA soccer in, by my reckoning, 850% of his airtime. In this way I am a satirical genius.
Elton John's actual middle name is Hercules. I hate him so much.
I kinda wanted to spend more time in Englandland. It was a great dumping ground for those "English things we haven't gotten to yet."
Christopher Walken exiting a scene by tapdancing is a thing I feel like pointing out in case you missed it because I was so fucking proud of that stupid joke.
I hate writing exposition as much as you hate hearing it. Probably more. That said, I think this narrated VHS tape was a not-entirely-terrible way to impart the things I needed to impart. It also kept Dave involved when he'd been written out for awhile.
Also I like the idea of making a noble Englishman infinitely inbred.
John Teat-Zero first appeared as a time-traveling caller to Aaron Faucet. I enjoyed the voice that Joe came up with for him so much that we brought him back for another time travel-related sketch soon after. Then we realized we had a couple of recurring characters time traveling around the SV universe, and it made sense to make them connected. Also, John Teat-Zero is named for John Tit0r, an actual guy (sort of?) that some people believe was an actual time traveler? It's all quite bizarre and fascinating, honestly.
Pretty much every butler character we've ever had in a sketch or radio play to this point has had a 3-syllable W name, including Wallingford from Citizen Crotch and Wickersham from earlier in this very serial. So I hung a lantern on that in this "meet the butlers" sequence.
I don't think I've seen an entire episode of a reality show, like, ever, but my understanding is that they all involve angry British men yelling at Americans. Having Nick specifically yell at "Declan" is another nod to John Oliver. Have I mentioned that John Oliver would be one of my ideal choices to play Nick?
Vishal Bharadwaj first appeared as the Shopcreep (the other time traveler character I alluded to earlier) in a sequence set at the Warlock-a-Geddon convention back in episode 169. He was created by Jason Wallace and has always delighted me, largely because of Vishal's fantastically smarmy performance.
Yes, that's Herb Alpert's "Rise" in the "technical difficulties" bumper on SVN. WTTG channel 5 in Washington DC used this song for the same purpose in the 70s and it lodged itself firmly in my brain for the remainder of my existence.
Having Nick and Willikins visit alternate universes was a way for me to revisit some of the more unusual sketches we've done, including the "reverse universe" where both his gender-swapped counterpart and Aaron Faucet's doppleganger Aarong Spigot lives. This was, to be sure, a super deep cut. But it pleased me. Oh, and the Environmentally Callous Werewolf was the negative counterpart of Environmentally Conscious Dracula.
Sheriff Human was yet another way to revisit the dumbest sketch we ever made.
I think the suddenly serious Willikins backstory works better as part of this whole assembled story, and less so as the bulk of SV episode 198. Lesson learned, I suppose.
Taking the story to the birth of Willikins in 1954 meant I could briefly revisit Slap Strongarm of the Orbit Cops, which I absolutely could not resist. More world-connecting too, I suppose. I'll never do that with an episode of SV again!
More importantly, the appearance of The Colonel here confirms that the character we heard as Willikins' adoptive father in early installments of The Adventures of Nick and Willikins is indeed the same person we heard as a ranking officer of M.U.C.U.S. in Citizen Crotch. A fictionalized version of the character (played by himself) appeared in season 1 of The Radio Adventures of Matt and AAlgar as well.
Bechuanaland is one of those places that existed in the 50s but doesn't exist now.
Maybe some day we'll do that story where Willikins' parents were killed by a monster. Probably we won't.
Willikins being a butler for the Rolling Stones is a nod to the earliest days of the character, when we imagined him butlering for a number of famous, glamorous folks.
Naturally the true villain of the entire Nick and Willikins saga is Mrs. Thatcher. Nothing else made sense, honestly.
Lord Gordon's speech to the help is a deliberate nod to Samuel L. Jackson's speech to Django in Django Unchained.
The death of Nick's relative, "Sir Fauntleroy Britishman" and Willikins' subsequent arrival in a crate comes from the very first episode of The Adventures of Nick and Willikins. I would have just used the original voice recordings, but back in those days we switched off playing the characters and I was Nick. Which feels really strange now as I can't imagine anyone but Maggie playing him.
"The Silence" being a hit song in the future happened in this sketch.
Shopcreep arrives at a very specific point in Nick of Nick Hall, when Nick hits his head, suddenly thinks he's The Doctor and runs off for some caves. This was unintentional foreshadowing for the way this story ends.
The timecops chasing Shopcreep were from this sketch and were also created by Jason Wallace. Sabrina's ridiculous Stallone impression was a fantastic choice for her character.
Vishal, a speaker of at least one entire language more than I, has, by his own admission, trouble distinguishing the "V" and "W" sounds in English. I think I forgot this when I wrote the line "what? Where? I have excellent peripheral vision!" for him. Sorry, Vishal.
I was pretty pleased with making Willikins arrive in the middle of a Sarcastic Voyage history sketch. And of course he shows up on Christmas. It's always Christmas in the Victorian era.
Yep — Nick's the father of pretty much everyone in the SV universe, though all the examples we listed here were specifically characters that Maggie plays. META!
I think "Narrator the White" is a Lord of the Rings reference? Dave's into that stuff and I tried to throw him a bone. But I know nothing of their hobbity ways.
Had to take another swing at Brannon Braga, because fuck that guy.
Dave's read on "Dave ex machina" was just perfect. With the end of SV, Dave has decided to move on and performances like this remind me of just how much I'm going to miss him. He never got into this to be a voice actor, but he got awfully goddamned good at it. I feel like making him transcend to a higher plane was a pretty good sendoff.
It took me awhile to think up some additional British tropes we hadn't covered yet, but Nick and Willikins finally did return in 2017’s Keep Calm and Ooh-da-Lay. (As well as The Adventures of Nick and Willikins adventure game the following year.)
Vishal Bharadwaj - Shopcreep
Duncan Boszko - the Bobby, Christopher Walken, Sheriff Human, Stuffy Cambridge Professor, Victorian Gentleman and Worthington
Mark Boszko - Animatronic Elton John, Different Victorian Gentleman, Newsreader, Turducken Carpal-Tunnel and Wellington
Dave Fields - Exasperated Narrator, Slap Strongarm, Wallingford
Danielle K.L. Grégoire - Victorian Lady and Washington
Nathan LaJeunesse - Cadet Gary, the Environmentally Callous Wolfman, the Park Mascot, Simon and Widdershins
Brian Lynch - The Colonel
Caitlin Obom - the Englandland Announcer Lady Shopcreep, the Nurse, Wimbledon and the witness
Josef Ravenson - Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Hasselhoff, John Teat-Zero and Wickersham
Maggie Rowbotham - Nick, Timecop 2
Amanda Smith - Nicki, Polly and Wilmington
Sabrina Snyder - Animatronic Margaret Thatcher, Cassandra, Frieda, Timecop 1, Wensleyford and Wilmakins
Jason Wallace - Aarong Spigot, Al Pacino, Guy in a Rubber Harry Potter Mask, Lord Gordon and Nigel Willikins
Ron “AAlgar” Watt - Willikins
Written & directed by Ron “AAlgar” Watt
© 2014-2015 AAlgar Productions