Though it’s no longer available on DVD, fans of Garth, the hit vulgar comedy from Dan St. Germain and Doug Destro, can still get a feel for what happened at a Chicago roving open mic night.
“It’s a movie about a night in St. Germain’s life with a bunch of stoner dudes,” Destro said. “We were doing shows all over Chicago at this website Open Mic Unlimited. They were very inclusive and a bunch of strangers got together to put on a show together and someone suggested we do one called ‘Lets Flats.’ You know, like the characters in the movie that you recognize from the show?”
St. Germain’s wife, Ilana Weis, decided to make a film out of the open mic. Because of the unstated rules of the show, every time we see those characters, it is just one joke after another. We all kind of know what’s coming before it happens. It really stretches you and is as much about the execution as the jokes.
“I had the idea for the movie because I always loved watching a movie from the convenience of home and my wife was like, ‘You need to do this movie.’ We would have it in the background on my laptop,” St. Germain said. “I’m in the open mic and it’s this dude talking about how he’s dying and he’s writing a New Year’s Resolution for living life to the fullest. He talks for like 30 minutes nonstop, and the audience is so good and attentive that it really stretches your acting muscles. As the movie got done, everybody loved it. The audience wanted more.”
So Destro and St. Germain made a movie out of it.
“The character we played was the stoner brother who is always answering the question ‘Do you like rock ‘n’ roll?’” St. Germain said. “He’s like, ‘Rock and roll, fuck you!’ He’s such a loser with a huge crush on his girlfriend, no one even notices. We realized we’re far more funny on stage than we are doing movies.”
The fact that they need to a space to make that movie but can’t do it in a theater worked in their favor. They built it in a basement in what once was their living room.
In its first week, “Lets Flats” was “sold out” and rented out shows at places such as Joe’s Pub and Chicago Comedy, Destro said.
“I always wanted to do comedy myself,” St. Germain said. “But I could never open up my own show, but going to open mics and working with comedy performers was my dream job. I went to Indiana University and went to a great comedy school. I just lost my way and ended up in a dark place with drug addiction and ended up in Denver and doing open mics for a year and a half. I went back to Illinois and I thought, ‘Why am I wasting my life?’”
Then Destro got a job in Los Angeles with a webcam.
“I got paid to sit in front of a computer and watch people do standup,” Destro said. “I thought it would be cool to be on the other side of the camera and actually watch people perform.”
When he returned to Chicago, Destro ended up on the L.A. Freaks and Geeks tour and auditioned with St. Germain, who had seen him doing comedy on the Internet.
“I was watching Adam Brody and I had this moment of, ‘Holy crap! This person is awesome. This guy is so sweet and funny.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Destro said. “You know, he’s such a talented actor. It was just a million-dollar audition.”
“Lets Flats” is now playing at Open Mic Unlimited on South Ellis Street (Open Mic Unlimited is really on the south side of town). Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at just10metrosix.com.