Ben and Eric are your every day, run-of-the-mill Jamaica Plain roommates. They go to art openings, parties and bars. They hang out together and look for single women to chat with. There’s one difference between this pair and most others, however:
Ben is a puppet.
Friends Pam Severns and Eric Mearns created ”Ben & Eric”, a web series which highlights the exploits of Eric and his living puppet roommate Ben.
Severns wrote in to Jamaica Plain Patch about the origin of the series, and how the pair attempts to keep puppets in comedy.
Jamaica Plain Patch: So who controls the puppet?
Pam Severns: Me! I'm the puppeteer. It's pretty interesting to figure out how to get a faceless puppet to express himself without using any dialogue or facial expressions.
JPP: How did you come up with the concept for "Eric and Ben"?
PS: I took a class at Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline where I had an assignment with the simple theme of "Loss" with what is called a "nobody puppet." I liked the idea of having the puppet going out to bars to drink with his roommate after being dumped by his girlfriend and passing out at the end - his relationship and consciousness being the things he loses. Eric seemed like the right guy to be the puppet's buddy, so I asked him if he would act in my short. Eric and I had so much fun filming it that we decided to keep it up. And the puppet took on the name Ben for no particular reason.
JPP: In the "Ben & Eric" episode on Funny or Die, that's the Uforge gallery on Centre. Was that an actual art opening depicted in the show? If so, whose?
PS: For "Ben & Eric Buy Art" we went around to the First Thursday open studios in JP; namely UForge, The Hallway, and Room 68, and took a bunch of shots with different pieces and interacted with a few local artists. Our friend, Mark Lembo, whose art is often seen around JP, is featured in that episode.
JPP: How did you get on Funny or Die?
PS: I decided "Ben & Eric" should be on there, so I submitted our videos. I try to put the work out there as much as I can.
JPP: Who operates the camera?
PS: Often we use a tripod and we have a few friends that help us out when we film on location. Eric or I will operate it sometimes, depending on what we're shooting.
JPP: How old are you and Eric?
PS: I'm 29, Eric is 35.
JPP: Is this a full-time thing? If not, what do you guys do - I guess, what's your day job?
PS: We do this when we both have the time - often in the evenings and on weekends. Eric works for Sam Adams and I work at a Bed & Breakfast in Brookline. We try to be consistent and pitch ideas to each other when we're not filming. We have a few non-puppet comedy sketches in the works as well.
JPP: Any future plans for the series?
PS: All three installments of Ben & Eric are being screened at a puppet slam in Los Angeles next month, so I'm going to take the little green guy to Hollywood. I'm also planning on kickstarting a Ben & Eric short film to submit to film festivals.