Call to laughter: The guys behind 'The Ed & Moe Show'

Jan 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm


There’s a new comedy web series starring two Dearborn twentysomethings — one a Muslim Arab-American and the other an Irish Catholic — who while away their days playing video games, shopping at the mall, and driving up and down Warren Avenue.

If this seems to be an unusual story coming out of Dearborn, it is; producers Mike Eshaq (a director and producer of short films) and Mike McGettigan (an award-winning playwright) have found a very different way to capture the lively Arab-American community.

It’s called The Ed and Moe Show — already released as a series of short clips on the show’s website, with more coming in every Tuesday. Eshaq and McGettigan say the first season of the show (with each episode running anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes) will be released March 15.

The beginnings of the show date back to 2002, when Eshaq and McGettigan became friends. “We met onstage at Second City in Detroit,” Eshaq said, “and me and Mike were just thrown into a scene together. It was the first time I was ever on stage.” Afterward, they grabbed some drinks at the local pub, only to discover they lived just down the street from one another. It was the beginning of a long friendship.

Then in 2007, Eshaq was approached by the director of the Arab American Comedy Show to do a spin on MTV’s Cribs. It was called MTV Cribs: Arab-American Style. The show consisted of visiting the home of Mohammed, a Dearbornite with broken English who wants to show off his red convertible Mustang and his love for America. The12-minute spoof of the iconic MTV show did so well that, in 2008, it attracted the attention of a Dearborn-native Hollywood producer. After the producer unsuccessfully tried to pitch it to Hollywood, Eshaq got together with McGettigan and the two made a commitment to create their own show.

For the first six months of 2009, Eshaq and McGettigan sat down and began hammering out ideas. They had already begun drawing out how Ed and Moe would look and feel, but nailing down concrete dialogue and action for the characters took more time than expected.

In the beginning, both had a lot of ideas. “Originally I wanted more characters,” Eshaq said, “but we had casting problems, especially with women, because the Arab community isn’t very engaged with acting.” So they limited the show to just Ed and Moe — for now, that is.

The actors who played Ed and Moe, Sean McGettigan (the younger brother of Mike McGettigan) and Ali Abdallah, have their own history with the producers. Both were cast in Eshaq’s MTV Cribs: Arab-American Style, and because it went so well, Eshaq and McGettigan saw them as perfect fits for The Ed and Moe Show.

But a problem Eshaq and McGettigan faced with the actors was whether to use a script or not. “When we handed them a full script, they crashed and burned,” Eshaq said. “They sounded unnatural and forced.” After pounding out many, many hours together, they began to develop a style of directing that floats between scripted comedy and improvisation.

In August 2010, Eshaq decided to release a clip they had been working on titled “Ramadan.” In the three-minute clip, Moe, the Muslim Arab-American, is frustrated that his Catholic counterpart, Ed, indifferently eats bagels while Moe is fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

When Eshaq released the clip, which was during the month of Ramadan, he received a wave of positive feedback. Now it has more than 80,000 views. And because it was so popularly received, the audience wanted more. But Eshaq and McGettigan didn’t have any completed shows at the time. So Eshaq decided to release more short clips and deleted scenes to keep the audience at bay.

But soon they ran out of short, releasable material, which is why they began to work with the actors to create a miniseries titled We’re Taking Over, where the characters shoot and edit their own amateur show, providing tours of Dearborn and TV reviews for the audience.

However, once Eshaq released the miniseries, the audience began wondering if it was the actual, completed show. In response, Eshaq placed this disclaimer before every episode:

“What you are about to watch is NOT the REAL Ed and Moe Show. Ed and Moe will say it is. Do NOT listen to them. This is NOT the Real Ed and Moe Show.”

Almost two years into the project, Eshaq and McGettigan are burning the midnight oil on a daily basis. The show has come a long way, from writing the original scripts to editing the final scenes, but they still have a long way to go.

They specifically chose to focus on their hometown because “Dearborn is so lame compared to what people think,” Eshaq says. “Most people don’t understand there are Christians, Jews and atheists here.”

However, their primary goal isn’t social or political. “We want people to enjoy the show,” McGettigan says, “first and foremost.”