Creating content today is not as easy as it used to be. It could be that I am old or that the audience has been trained to expect something different. What ever the reason, I have been struggling to come up with anything original for a while.
The Richard Cranium character has gone through a few different evolutions over the years. He was born as a game show host for a sketch I wrote in college back in the late 90s. Later, he was a columnist without an outlet, and now, in his latest and probably final role, he has gained a 50s style news program where he will “dive” into issues that seem silly on the surface but build a deeper opportunity for real conversation. I am still struggling on how to fully fill him out, and trust in the process of repeated exposure to help narrow his character.
So, who is Richard Cranium?
First and foremost, as his name suggests, he’s a dick. But he’s also an idiot – he is the fully realized physical embodiment of my own personal imposter syndrome fears. He is a highly educated man who slept through most of his education, and he blends numerous over-exaggerated stereotypes into a ball of eyebrow raises and quirky pronunciations of words. He worships the giant icons of news – Murrow, Cronkite, Brokaw – and believes in News-y style elitism. He is a product of an older age and doesn’t realize he is stuck in the past – quite frankly, he doesn’t care either. But unlike Ron Burgundy who relishes in his own conceived notions of celebrity, Richard Cranium does not care about fame. His view of the world is narrow and simple: he is on a TV news magazine show, and he rules the roost. Outside of the studio, he’s a simpleton who is stuck in a marriage where his wife loathes the very site of him.
But it is in his negative attributes that his positives shine through. His limited knowledge of anything important helps lend to his objective stances and simple truths that he spouts. Of course, this is where the comedy lies – and the message to be produced. And that is where I struggle the most. Turning this arrogant elitist idiot into a vehicle for common sense objective views to be digested by the audience.
This most current version of the character was born by accident thanks to COVID. I was teaching Murrow vs McCarthy in my American Lit class, and because of the quarantine, I had to do so through a video lecture. So, I chose to do so in the form of a 1950s style news magazine broadcast. I couldn’t land on a single voice, so I meshed an odd British accent with a North Eastern ivy league accent and ran with it. I continue to hone the accent, trying to find just the right tone and vernacular.
After the lecture turned out to be quite hilarious, I decided (since I was relaunching The BetaFiles) to create content highlighting this new version of my old alter ego. And here we are.
He will continue to evolve, and more will be added to his narrative – I can only hope that he will do so in a productive way.