Upstairs in Q’s Billiard Club on the Westside, a few dozen film junkies delighted at the antics of three scam-artists turning a trick when JR Mallon and Tom Fox’s Tramps and Ramblers debuted. The 24-minute pilot made on a $6,000 budget exposes the sad state of Generation Y in L.A., the collateral damage of “the Industry” living in Venice, Palms, and Mar Vista. Although over-drawn, the characters were familiar, a sardonic lot made apathetic by failed promises. If you can’t join them, fight them—so seems the reversed logic of Tramps and Rambler’s male protagonists, Nate and Carl. They’re pathetic: residing in a filthy trailer, frequenting soup kitchens, and drinking with a transient. The female love interest is no better. She’s a liar and a thief; her seduction of one of the men-children is darkly comic, as is much of the show’s material.
The twisted, self-depreciating dialogue of Tramps and Ramblers stems from its two East Coast writers. Growing up outside Philly, Mallon moved to L.A. to make movies, gritty humor in tow. Five years later, he found himself unemployed. “Art imitates life. In a round-about way, we were those characters, though obviously not as evil,” Mallon said. Although Fox and Mallon met at Ithaca, they became friends once they both landed in California and worked together previously on Internet shorts that didn’t pay. After a season without jobs or money, they set out to make this pilot, hoping to eventually launch it into a television series.
Tramps and Ramblers seeks entry to film festivals next, though the festival atmosphere seems less fitting for the pilot than Q’s, where’s the audience chortled conspiratorially, then took the show’s dark cue and ordered another round.
By Katherine Crowley