Welcome to Fish in a Sweater.
In the summer of 2002, two fresh young employees of Amoeba music set to creating a puppeteered project called The Fish in the Nice Sweater, based on a doodle Ben drew. Ben created a Fish puppet from coat hangers, duct tape, foam, and a sweater from the Goodwill children’s section. They videoed Joel and the puppet singing Night Moves. Joel killed it on tambourine. Sometime later, Tumble and Fish starred as co-workers in an anti-smoking PSA. Fish was trying to quit smoking by eating crackers. Tumble asked him if he was done with the Thompson report. Their first stage show at the Knitting Factory, Joel was Abraham Lincoln in a cabinet meeting, and Fish was his adviser, invisible to everyone but Lincoln. Fish sang “After The Goldrush” by Neil Young and told Lincoln he loved him. People laughed, not all of them out of discomfort.
One time, while taking pictures in Ben’s car for Fish’s web journal, the cops followed Joel and Ben along Sunset Boulevard for a solid mile just because they saw Ben duck down and pretend Fish was driving at a red light.
Gabe was Chestnut the moment he read the first line at a table read Ben & Joel held for the first incarnation of a pilot script for a Fish television series wherein Tumble and Fish stole grease from a fast food restaurant and Chestnut fell in love with his neighbor. Gabe went home thinking he’d just met a couple of geniuses .
Another time, Gabe had been fully immersed in his acting workshop and worked up real tears for a video where Tumble and Chestnut had caught Fish posing as Chestnut in the middle a dinner date with a beautiful woman. Ben thought, bully for Gabe, but we were shooting night-vision, so you really couldn’t tell…
At their first year at South By Southwest with Movie Night, Ben and Joel drunkenly talked their way into amazing balcony seats for the premiere of That Evening Sun. They later found out the staff thought Ben was the director.
Gabe got handcuffed and bent over a police car shooting The Nightmare. When you look disoriented in your pajamas right outside the Burbank airport, I guess that’s what happens. Point taken. Also, Gabe’s PJ size was “child’s large,” for those of you wondering what to get him for Christmas.
When two of the Fish shorts were selected for competition at the Hollyshorts Film Festival, Joel attended the awards and left sometime after the awards for Best Short Film were announced. He was probably two feet outside the door when they announced that Fish had won Best Webisode, a category Joel learned existed when they called him the next day to ask where he’d disappeared to.
Pick-ups for the Joyride short took place in Sam Hale’s apartment complex parking lot. A delivery man with a question walked up to Ben’s car, where Sam was coaching his three-year-old son wearing blue Fish legs, blocks tied to his feet, playing on his iPad in his underwear. Mat filmed as Ben gave directions. The delivery man backed away without a word.
At Just For Laughs Chicago, Paul F. Tompkins comped Joel and Ben tickets to his show and we ended up sitting next to Hannibal Burress’s parents. Joel told Hannibal’s mom that he was a fan of Pickle Juice, both the thing and the Hannibal Burress bit, and Ben hi-fived her after Hannibal’s set. She took it all in stride.
Filming Instagram videos in a tennis court one January day 2014, Joel, Ben and Gabe realized that when they first got together to shoot some Fish stuff on Third Street in 2005, “Instagram,” “YouTube,” and “President Obama” would have all sounded like a ranting drunk making up words.
To sum up, welcome to Fish in a Sweater. Watch our videos. Join our mailing list. Make yourselves at home.