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Elaine Carroll Is Very Funny and Very Mary-Kate

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“The internet affectionately refers to it as the duck face that she makes,” laughs Carroll. “I think I just have a very rubbery face.”

Carroll wrote the first 10 Very Mary-Kate episodes herself. The project might have stopped there, but it grew thanks to a collaboration with a much bigger name in online comedy video.

Comedy Connections

For Carroll’s second batch of Very Mary-Kate episodes, she partnered with CollegeHumor.com. It was an ideal arrangement, as the site’s sensibility and humor are close to hers.

“When I first started doing it, I did it independently, because I wanted it to be this weird little side project that I made like 10 episodes of and then maybe that was it. But then I started doing Very Mary-Kate with CollegeHumor.com.

“They were looking for web series, and they were also looking to attract a wider audience, and Very Mary-Kate has a different fan base than CollegeHumor does, generally, so it felt like a very good connection,” explains Carroll. “I got such a good reaction from the first episodes that I produced out-of-pocket that I thought, ‘You know what, let’s make 20 more with CollegeHumor.’”

There’s another, more personal reason why CollegeHumor is a good fit for Carroll. Besides the fact that some of her fellow Dutch West alumni are now working for the site, Carroll is newly married to Sam Reich, president of video content at CollegeHumor.

The couple collaborated on ideas for later episodes, with Reich directing the shoots. While the videos are still low-budget, CollegeHumor brought noticeably higher production values to the series.

Most of the time spent on an episode goes into the writing, says Carroll, which is tight and laser sharp. The filming itself it comparatively quick, at most 2 hours per episode. CollegeHumor takes care of the editing, such as adding effects for those occasions when the twins need to appear on-screen together.

“I really felt like it was important for them to be self-contained, simply because that’s how the internet works best—when you can send one thing around and post it in one place, and you get the vibe for all of them,” says Carroll. “I think that that attributes to the early success of the series. People kind of got what it was from episodes 1, 2, and 3, which I released simultaneously.”

The small cast for the series includes Luke Sholl, whom Carroll knew from college, as Mary- Kate’s bodyguard, and Will Hines, who directs Carroll’s sketch troop at UCB in New York, as Mary-Kate’s long-suffering college history professor. Mary-Kate seems to be bad with names: The bodyguard is simply known as Bodyguard, while the professor is called Fat Professor.

Other celebrities have dropped into Mary-Kate’s world: Amir Blumenfeld of CollegeHumor has brought his Woody Allen impression to a few episodes, while Josh Ruben of CollegeHumor (and Dutch West) impersonates Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Reaching Out

Even though the series was on a break at this writing, its popularity continues to grow. Carroll gets emails every day from people who are just discovering the show.

She’s hoping to drop a huge guest appearance into an upcoming episode, but so far, no plans have been made.

“I actually reached out to Mary-Kate,” Carroll says. “When I first went on break, my goal was to get her to be in an episode with me, but I don’t think, based on her schedule, she will be able to, at least not soon. But their younger sister Elizabeth tweeted at me when I first started doing the series, ‘You so got her.’”

Impersonating someone who’s still alive and fairly private is a potentially hairy situation, but Carroll believes that Mary-Kate has a good attitude about it.

“Most people realize that it’s such an outlandish satire that it’s in good spirit, so I really hope that she does have a good sense of humor about it,” Carroll says.

For now, Very Mary-Kate is just one of the many projects Carroll has going. She’s represented by United Talent Agency and had just finished the rush of the pilot season before this interview. She was looking forward to a honeymoon in Amsterdam and Paris and then eventually shooting new Very Mary-Kate episodes.

There’s a chance that Very Mary-Kate could come back in a different form. While she can’t go into specifics, people have approached Carroll about new Mary-Kate ventures.

“I’ve gotten a lot of attention about developing it into something bigger. We’ll see. It’s all up-in- the-air and in stages where you can’t really talk about it, because there’s so many big question marks. But I’m optimistic. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Carroll says.

When that day comes, she’ll have her beret, kimono, and duck face ready to go. 

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