TV

Fort Worth comedy writer turns her ‘Crazy’ married life into Web series

Christy Stratton directs Janet Varney and Diedrich Bader in a scene.
Christy Stratton directs Janet Varney and Diedrich Bader in a scene. Funny or Die

Christy Stratton, a TV comedy writer from Fort Worth, has a friend with an exhausting list of food allergies.

Fruits? Can’t eat them. Veggies? No way. Nuts? You bet she is.

Stratton and her husband sometimes wonder whether their friend is faking. Or if it’s all in her head. They have fantasized about spiking one of her meals with an ingredient from the no-no list.

“My husband, more than once, has wanted to do it, just to see what might happen,” Stratton says. “But I’m like, ‘No, we cannot do that.’ I don’t want to risk poisoning my friend, just to prove a point.”

Instead, Stratton did the next best thing: She turned the scenario into an installment of her Internet comedy series, Everyone’s Crazy But Us.

The show, which went online in late November on the Emmy-winning website Funny or Die, consists of slice-of-life vignettes about a married couple that’s a lot like Stratton and her husband, Gary Mann.

“This is the essence of my relationship to Gary: We disagree about everything,” says Stratton, who wrote for such TV shows as King of the Hill and Raising Hope. “We will argue about the smallest, tiniest things. We will argue about how much water one should use when scrubbing a pot in the kitchen sink.

“We argue about big things, too. But we’re united in our belief that everyone we know is crazy. We are convinced that we are the only sane ones in the world.”

Stratton, who wrote and directed the first batch of five mini-episodes, likes to think of the show as being “Mad About You meets Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Since the launch, Everyone’s Crazy But Us has logged more than 100,000 views and netted Stratton a deal with Viacom Velocity to make a second season for later in 2016.

The couple in the show — played by Janet Varney (of FX’s You’re the Worst) and Diedrich Bader (HBO’s Veep) — are quite a pair.

In one episode, they try to one-up each other in expressing their love for their son Ziggy.

“I would stab you with a pair of scissors for him,” she declares. “I would burn this house to the ground — with you in it — for that boy.”

To which he replies, “Did you notice that all of yours are about hurting me or killing me?”

In another episode, they decide not to imbibe in front of the kid — but they’re sneaking drinks after just 10 minutes!

“Are we actually the crazy ones?” Stratton asks. “Possibly. Probably. But we’re a team: us against the world.”

Mann is senior vice president of originals and programming at Comedy Central.

Stratton, an Arlington Heights High School graduate, originally pitched her sitcom to conventional TV networks but failed to snag a buyer. She believed so much in the material, however, that she refused to give up.

“I said, ‘There’s this thing called the Internet. I can put my stuff out there.’”

Stratton financed production with money out of her own pocket, called on friends to play many of the parts and shot everything in her own home.

Only a few years ago, this might have seemed like an absurd leap of faith — but it’s becoming more and more possible today for Internet content to find its way onto network television.

“I am just going to keep making the show and see where it goes,” Stratton says. “Of course, I want it to have a bigger life. But if nothing else happens, I am absolutely happy with it as it is.”

Meanwhile, Stratton has a development deal with Sony for a half-hour sitcom that would be set in Fort Worth.

“It’s called Charity Cases,” she says. “It’s about three women who run an event-planning company that specializes in fundraisers. It’s kind of a modern Designing Women.”

Stratton was inspired during a visit home, when she tagged along with a high school friend to the black-tie Fort Worth Zoo Ball.

“That would be my dream: to shoot a show set in Fort Worth with a bunch of strong ladies in this fun and funny world of charity fundraisers,” she says. “I’m hoping I can make that happen.”

Everyone’s Crazy But Us

▪ Funny or Die (funnyordie.com/crazybutus)

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