The Bottom Rung – Episode 1

I created Bottom Rung out of my own experience doing document review in Los Angeles. Until I moved out to LA in 2010, I worked as a big firm corporate associate in New York and had never heard of document review. A former lawyer and TV writer told me that if I was short on cash, document review was an easy way to earn a stress-free paycheck, allowing me to focus on my comedy work. The reality? Some document reviews can be pleasant and a good fit for someone trying to focus on an alternative career. Other document reviews can be as bad as anything I’ve experienced as an adult.

When you get stuck on a project with a nightmare for a boss, it can ruin your life. I was on one project where the project manager—or warden— tried to make us sign in and out of the room every time we went to the bathroom. I was on another one where we were specifically taught the difference between a two and a five minute break. I’ve been on doc reviews with strict no talking, no internet, no phone policies. In others, the working conditions can be abhorrent—no windows, no ventilation, no personal space, sick people everywhere, no running water. Basically your standard third-world hospital waiting room. So, in this episode and during the entire season I am highlighting the doc review characters and the world of some of these darker document review projects. It’s all loosely based on the places I’ve been assigned and the people that I’ve met on some of the more hellish projects.

In the first episode, I play Dave, a doc review “dreamer” who thinks he’s passing through on his way to comedy greatness. He gets a rude awakening as he learns the rules of the workplace from his draconian boss, Nicole, played by Hailey Boyle. But he also meets his new crush, Paige.

Hailey Boyle is a tremendously talented standup comedian who dominates a room when she’s performing. Yet she’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—so in a lot of ways this role required her to play against type.

Jess Garvey plays Paige. She also co-produced this episode with me. If you’re wondering what “producing” really means—especially on a small budget production—it means doing a little of everything. On shoot day it meant: if one of us were in a scene, the other would help the PA set up for the next scene, help the crew if they needed a hand, make sure everyone’s hair, makeup and wardrobe was done, make sure everyone is in the right place, keep track of shots, take care of craft service, etc. Basically, one of us needed to keep track of everything, and when I say “one of us” . . . I really mean her.

About the title shot: we made Locker the face of the show. He is the King of the Lifers, because he really represents what this world is about. The actor who plays him is a wonderful comedian named Eddie Pepitone, you may recognize him from appearances on Community, Weeds, Children’s Hospital, Last Comic Standing, the Sarah Silverman Program, Important Things with Demetri Martin, Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time, etc. Basically anytime someone is doing something in the comedy realm that requires a middle-aged guy to be hilarious, they call Eddie. He’s just that good. At first, he told me he was too busy to do it, but when he read the script, he loved the character, so he squeezed us in and we are grateful for that.

Matt Ritter is an actor, stand-up comic, and the creator of the Bottom Rung. He's also a former lawyer. You can reach him at rittercomedy@gmail.com.

13 Comments

  1. Sam Glover

    November 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Awesome work, Matt and crew!

  2. Handsome Advocat

    November 15, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Excusez-moi, but I’m afraid this sucks balles. It’s not Living the Dream, that’s for sure. The girl is cute, though. That ought to count for something, I guess.
    A tout a l’heure mes amis!

    • Guano Dubango

      November 16, 2011 at 6:41 am

      Dude, you have to accept whatever quality babes they put up. Personally, I find all of the women here appealing, but again, I am from Ghana, not France, and it is France where all the beauties are.

      The Bitter Lawyer is doing well with this episode. Perhaps there can be an episode where the man is caught with his pants down again, but this time, it is with the large woman who is in charge of the legal work? She has great possibilities.

  3. Miserable associate

    November 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Great job, can’t wait to see more.

  4. RHC2

    November 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Thumbs up. Can’t wait to see more!

  5. tara

    November 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    This is hilarious and gives me nightmares at the samet ime. Look forward to watching more episodes.

  6. Disgruntled

    November 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    This is great-looking forward to the next installment

  7. Jess Garvey

    November 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    So happy the series is up! Love working on this project and hope you all have as much fun watching it as we had making it! Enjoy!

  8. Beps

    November 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Awesome! Looks like it’s gonna be a great show.

  9. israel

    November 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    It is good, looking forward to next episode

  10. Ellen Barshevsky

    November 21, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I would LIKE to be in one of these episode’s! How about featureing a young (4th year) asociate at a small firm (ME) who has alot of possibileities but NOT alot of men to date.

    I could be myself, workeing at the office with the manageing partner stareing at me all day, and then haveing lunch with me and his mustach haveing all kinds of old food in it, and him therefor haveing all of the bad breathe I cannot STAND! FOOEY!

    What do you think? Can you make me be a star? I am in NY, but can jet to LA if I have to.

  11. Guano Dubango

    April 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    What ever happened to these episodes? Where is the blond? Bring her back, even if she is a little neurotic. Otherwise, we are left with hideous water buffalo.

  12. LarryB

    December 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    The blond is probably worth boning! Maybe the chubby guy will entrance her with his chubby!

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