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Looking for a show that you can kick back and relax to after a gruelling day at the office? Corporate isn’t that show. Instead, Corporate‘s creators and stars Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman paint a bleak portrait of what it’s like to be a mere cog in the giant machine of white collar America. It’s a huge (read hugely hilarious) bummer.
The show acts as an obituary to capitalism, following Matt and Jake as they navigate the soul-sucking landscape of their company, multinational conglomerate Hampton-Deville. For the record, Hampton-Deville doesn’t make anything—they make everything. (At least that’s what their very real fake website says).
Viewers shouldn’t rely on office comedy predecessors The Office or Workaholics to inform their attitudes towards Corporate. Ingebretson and Weisman probably draw more from Kierkegaard than they do from Michael Scott. Stylistically, it draws inspiration Fight Club and The Wire and its bleak satirical tone is comparable to the likes of Black Mirror.
Despite its extreme nihilistic approach to humour, Corporate, which has already been renewed for a second season, has been hailed as the first great comedy of 2018. We caught up with Ingebretson to talk about the show’s inspirations, Season 2, and what to expect at their JFL Northwest Corporate Live event, which takes place Friday March 2 at The Fox Cabaret in Vancouver B.C.
Tickets to Corporate Live are available here and you can watch Corporate on Wednesdays at 10E/7P on Much.
You’ve described Corporate as portraying this soul-sucking reality of what it’s like to be in a job you hate. How do you manage to strike the balance between the deeply depressing and the comedic?
For us, sometimes deeply depressing things are funny. It’s just a matter of the lens you look at them through. We’re not always interested in portraying things lightly. The world is a dark crazy place and a lot of it involves looking at it from a different perspective to see what can be funny about it or what’s ironic about it. We don’t worry about finding a balance between the comedic and the depressing, we just try to weld the two together with a soldering iron.
Where does a show like Corporate fit into a society that’s obsessed with self-improvement?
You can see it as a reflection of what is going on in America right now. The same way a show like Black Mirror or something like that, there’s not an inspirational bend to it but it can be valuable to watch something that pokes holes in the logic of your life. We’re certainly not trying to inspire people with our show but we think it’s funnier or more useful to paint the world in black in white.
How did your previous jobs influence the show? What was your Hampton-Deville?
I keep debating on whether or not to name the company that I worked for. It was a major entertainment studio that makes movies you know and love. I worked in digital marketing there writing social media and doing marketing campaigns. This job I had was absolute hell.
It was a new department that was formed. There was one boss and I was the only employee at the time. It was just me and this one boss, and we had too much time on our hands and not enough direction. She was the type of boss where there would be times when I’d be sitting in my cubicle and suddenly feel her presence and look up and see her peering over the cubicle at me, watching me work. At the end of the day I was extremely lucky to work at a white-collar type office environment but my life was thrown into a fear and anxiety spiral as a result of it.
What advice would you give to people who are stuck in the same rut as your characters?
You have to work your way out of it or hope for luck. For me, I never anticipated any luck coming my way in my life so I just worked constantly. It helped that I knew I didn’t want this job in the long term. While I was at work my goal was to do as little as I possibly could and do the bare minimum so I could keep my job while working on other projects that would eventually get me out of there.
If you could write any crazy plot for Corporate Season 2—with no consequence or boundaries—what would go down?
If we had unlimited money what we’d probably want to do is burn the building down. Maybe we’d meet up with Elon Musk. The thing we restrain ourselves from doing the most is killing characters and blowing things up. So in my fantasy episode of Corporate, many many people die and the building burns to the ground.
You’ll be stopping by JFL Northwest this week. What can fans of the show expect from Corporate Live? Feel free to completely lie to sell tickets.
You can expect a special drop-in music set from Adele and she will be signing autographs and taking pictures with fans afterwards.