On any given night, Still Partners, a popular Sea Cliff gastropub, seems to radiate life. Live bands send music through the space, the notes intertwining with the chatter of diners who drag silverware across plates filled with classic American fare. Neighbors exchange gossip over craft beer at the bar and admire the twinkling lights that line the red tin ceiling.
It would be the perfect place, co-owner Dan Roth said, to shoot a live late-night show. This spring, that’s what he plans to do.
For the past few months, a crew of local residents has teamed up to conceptualize “Still Partners Live,” the working title for a project that co-creator Ian Busching called a talk show/sketch comedy hybrid. “It’s somewhere between a late-night talk show and ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Busching said. “We’ve been getting on the street, asking people questions and getting some back story for Sea Cliff.” The street interviews will be pre-produced as segments for upcoming shows, which will be broadcast from Still Partners and live-streamed on YouTube.
“We’ve built a small team of people ready to dedicate time to something that can be really good,” Roth said. “This isn’t a job, we’re not getting paid, but we have a feeling with all the talent around us we can make a great project.”
The crew includes a host (Emily Morris), a team of writers (Joe Berlangero, Rich Boehm and Jennifer DeSane) and producers, many of whom have experience in film and television. Busching owns a multimedia company, as does DeSane, who said the goal of “Still Partners Live” is to showcase the people of Sea Cliff.
“Every town has its cast of characters, and there are a lot of stories that need to be told,” she said. “The show will tell those stories and highlight the amazing things that happen here. For a quiet town, it’s never boring.”
An unsuspecting resident could one instant be walking her dog, and the next be interviewed by “Still Partners Live.” A three-man crew races through the streets of Sea Cliff to find potential interviewees, a blur of camera cables and microphones. “Some people shy away,” Roth said, “but other people are glad to talk about how much they love Sea Cliff.”
Since November, the crew has identified several elements they want in the live show. In addition to street interviews, it will include a live band, guest interviews, comedy sketches and video packages highlighting community events.
The first live show, slated to stream sometime this spring, will feature Sea Cliff’s tribute to “Walking Hat Lady” Anna Jennett, a former resident who, on her daily walk around the neighborhood, would wear colorful, eye-catching hats (“Beloved Walking Hat Lady bids farewell to Sea Cliff,” Feb. 14-20). On Feb. 16, residents gathered at Veterans Memorial Park to accompany Jennett on her final walk through the village. “Still Partners Live” was there to capture it all.
“The group had interviewed Anna, and as we got to know her it [became] important to us to make sure we took that final walk with her,” DeSane said. “It really anchored the whole event.”
DeSane was in charge of the camera work that day, and recalled the striking image she filmed that she said captured the joy of living in the village. “At one point you see [Mayor] Ed [Lieberman] walking down Sea Cliff Avenue with these balloons, and the whole community is behind him,” she said. “That image alone kind of shows you what Sea Cliff is all about.”
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the project is the “studio”: a busy bar. “We wanted to produce the show in an unusual environment, and embrace the community we live in,” Busching said. Consequently, the show will be filmed in front of a live audience — whoever decides to saunter into the restaurant.
“It will be mayhem,” Roth laughed.
In capturing the essence of Sea Cliff on film, the crew has also found community behind the scenes. “During our meetings, we never stop laughing,” DeSane said. “It’s this little slice of heaven that people on ‘SNL’ or similar shows have every single day, and we cram it into two hours.”
In anticipation of the inaugural show, the creators said they were looking forward to showcasing the wealth of talent the village has to offer. “We’re shining a light on the place we’re proud to call home,” Busching said.
DeSane chuckled at the thought of what might happen during the first live show. “Anything can happen, and hopefully will,” she said. “We’re putting our best comedic feet forward for something this town has not seen before.”
Follow the “mayhem” on Facebook and Instagram @StillPartnersLive.