Picnicface not renewed, launches campaign
“Picnicface is cancelled. Shit.”
That’s the opening line from Scott Vrooman in a short Youtube video from the Halifax sketch comedy troupe Picnicface, following the news that their show, Picnicface, will not be renewed on Bell Media’s The Comedy Network for a second season.
“We want to engage you fans to let you know there’s still hope for us to not be canned permanently,” Vrooman’s fellow troupe member Kyle Dooley tells viewers, with Vrooman then directing them to savepicnicface.com, the home of the Save Picnicface campaign the troupe has launched to save their show.
Vrooman tells Playback that they’re taking lighter approach with the campaign.
Indeed, upon linking to the video on Twitter, Vrooman wrote: “Might as well have fun with it, bitterness has been done to death.”
“We thought, ‘Let’s make it fun and participatory and creative and see what happens,’ because even if Bell doesn’t reconsider, it kind of signals our homelessness to other networks, and hopefully we can keep this group of talent together for a bit longer,” he explains, adding that earlier this year, the team had gone through three weeks of development for season two and produced about five episodes worth of material.
Vrooman tells Playback that the non-renewal news surprised the troupe and, he thinks, The Comedy Network.
“Negotiations had gone quite far. The Comedy Network was completely supportive and completely pushing for a second season,” he says.
“Part of our surprise came from the fact that the show was quite low-budget, and we accomplished so much within that budget – so much talent and so much production value – was just another reason why we thought it was a good investment,” he explains.
“I think [the decision] was based on first-run ratings and they were inconsistent and not high enough, and it was a dollars and cents decision. But even from a dollars and cents standpoint, an argument can be made that there was an investment, and I think it could have paid off in the long run,” he insists.
For its part, Bell Media said in a statement emailed to Playback that “we remain big fans of the troupe, and their recent campaign is just one more example of their fearless comedic style,” and separately, as a reason the series did not receive a second season re-order, “Unfortunately, the series did not achieve the audiences it needed.”
Vrooman says the series executive producers and producers at Breakthrough Entertainment are looking for a replacement broadcaster, though he said options seem limited because the news came late in the buying season.
Vrooman adds that the base of dedicated Picnicface fans had been growing throughout the series’ run, another reason he feels the show could have taken another spin on-air
“The audience was strong. Like it wasn’t casual viewers – there were a lot of very dedicated fans that were really looking forward to seeing more,” Vrooman adds.
“I know that online views for the Comedy website were strong, and I think we’re still getting people that are discovering [Picnicface], even in Canada, and getting really excited about it and then finding out [that it hasn’t been renewed],” he says.
Still, Vrooman says he hopes the campaign will bring the show’s hardcore fans to action.
And it’s possible that Picnicface viewers can expect another imploring message in the future, from friends of Picnicface.
“I think nothing bad will come of [the campaign], certainly,” says Vrooman, “so we’ll just see what happens.”
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