“We believe the Oedipal complex is behind just about everything a person does.” That was Eric Weber’s half-joking opening salvo in discussing “Wing Dad,” a new comedy series he and his son Nick Weber have put up on YouTube, the website that has gradually left behind its self-involved, sampling, free-for-all beginnings to offer original programming that’s actually worth watching, to say nothing of “channels” you can subscribe to — Wing Dad TV, for one.
“Sigmund Freud isn’t popular anymore,” Mr. Weber went on, “but as you can see we spend enough time competing for my wife’s attention” — he was speaking in the dining room of his family’s house in Amagansett Saturday, and Joanna Weber was calling out something about the dog from somewhere beyond the kitchen. “Maybe that should be an episode. . . .”
Ms. Weber, too, figures in the three-to-five-minute videos, which are predominantly shot at their house, and the melding of reality and fantasy lends the series a Larry David quality. As with the “Seinfeld” co-creator’s character in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” formerly on HBO, the dad can obsess — over his son’s dates, primarily — and annoy with his tenacious refusal to let go of a point, say, of plying a hot tub-bound young lovely with white wine, or too liberally applying sunscreen where bikini top meets flesh: “What, do you want her to get skin cancer?” he says over his son’s protests.
Yet he’s not exactly pervy, this dad, more curious, engaged maybe, enthusiastic in his social intercourse — and played, it so happens, by a courtly former ad man and screenwriter who has found the sweet spot for getting his acting ya-yas out.
In the past, “I was a terrible, wooden actor, but it’s gotten easier, maybe because I’m playing myself.” In a manner of speaking, yes. In the first of the so far four episodes, titled “How to Pick Up Girls,” in trying to help his son out of a funk — wearing a knit cap, the dude’s in bed, eating a sandwich, apparently playing chess with himself — Dad whips out what looks like a 1970 edition of a book Mr. Weber actually wrote, “How to Pick Up Girls.” (A book, by the way, that’s anything but the lark or gag it might seem: Showing an entrepreneurial streak, he took out back-of-the-magazine ads touting its availability by mail order before it was even written, and it went on to sell millions of copies here and abroad and remains in print.)
Reluctantly, the son goes ahead and tries out a number of the book’s lines: “What color are your eyes?” he asks an obviously brown-eyed young woman on a park bench. He’s a flop until “Would you happen to know how to cook a leg of lamb?” triggers not only an enthusiastic description of a spice rub but a series of other yeses — yes, she’s a Pisces, yes, she does ballet, and yes, on to the carnal.
Part of what makes “Wing Dad” work is simply Nick Weber’s appearance. He’s sallow, there are bags under his eyes, he needs a shave, his hair rises in a perpetual state of Bob Dylan disarray. And then there’s the contrast between his laconic character and the verbally dexterous dad.
Nick is a painter and the front man for the band Girl Problems, a largely improvised comedy video for which sparked the “Wing Dad” idea. “That was fun, let’s make another one of these,” he remembers saying. The first episode appeared two years ago, and the most recent, “Height in the Family,” in which that goal is to be genetically achieved by bedding Kelly Killoren Bensimon, the six-foot stunner who survived the “Real Housewives of New York City” reality TV wringer, was shot over the summer.
“The film business is an endless process,” the elder Weber said, recalling having recently received “500 notes on a single script” of his. “Here, we just make it, we don’t obsess over the quality of the light and so forth. I like the rough-hewn quality.”
“We workshop them a bit first,” Nick said.
“They’re structured but with room to improvise,” his dad put in.
“We direct each other,” Nick said.
“It’s very collaborative, one of the most pleasant processes I’ve ever been a part of,” Eric said.
His other creative outlet of late is a film, “Outliving Emily,” made up of six 15-minute segments telling the story of one couple from six different points of view, one of them featuring Olympia Dukakis. They’re being released in stages, as shorts, with the first two funding the last four. It’s to be released as a full-length movie in 2015.
As for Nick, he’ll have art in the Thanksgiving group show at the Tripoli Gallery in Southampton through January.
Together, the two are planning to come out with a new “Wing Dad” episode in two to three months. In the meantime, within a couple of weeks or so, fans can look for a trailer explaining the background of the comedy’s situation: without giving too much away, how this ne’er-do-well came to move back in with his parents in the first place. Not like that’s an uncommon occurrence or anything.