It takes talent to complain in an entertaining fashion — the difference is what got Jerry Seinfeld a network sitcom and his imitators booted from open-mic nights. Fortunately, creators Luis Esteban Caffesse and Cliff Wildman have
found the right balance of clever observation, self-awareness and rage for ongoing web series Project Rant.
Slightly reminiscent of In the Motherhood (minus the hardcore mom-oriented product placement), Project Rant draws its source material from audience-submitted rants on the most arcane of subjects. These submissions are then performed by a talented cast of actors, who manage to craft characters from these stories with no background information. (Project Rant submissions are anonymous.)
Because these rants are by frustrated human beings, the language is often coarse and inconsistently bleeped, but the cinematography is great, and the editing is tight and sharp. Dear Honda Owners probably wasn’t written originally by the Little Old Lady from Pasadena, but when it’s a grandma-type complaining about lame Honda owners challenging people in minivans to drag races, the results are charming. Meanwhile, Crappy Bacon‘s discussion of badly cooked pork products is hilariously delivered by a man whose passion is taken to an almost sexual level. (To paraphrase The Truth About Cats and Dogs, you should love your bacon, but you shouldn’t LOVE your bacon.)
The best rants are the focused ones, targeting specific entities — a crappy date, the dollar store. But one rant by a paper delivery man, directed at his customers, hits a sour note; the delivery man hasn’t been wronged, but is instead ranting about how good it feels to be cruel to others. It’s that episode that reveals what makes this idea work. For when the audience identifies with the speaker, there’s a sort of second-hand catharsis that occurs. Just because it’s not our frustration or embarrassment, it doesn’t dull the vicarious thrill of finally getting to let it out.