(This post references iSundae II: Attack of the Cones, part 3. You may want to view the movie before reading this post.)
Will you believe me when I say that practically the only thing about the original General Public that made it to film was his hat? I’m not kidding. The scripted General Public was much less funny. The whole comedy of the situation was supposed to be his name, because Fonsuger had to convince “the General Public” that the wielders had to be kicked out. There were no yellow pages, no eye-patch, no paper scraps, and no messing about with ink bottles. General Public is a perfect example of changing the script on the fly.
It all started when I asked my dad to play General Public. The only other person we had free was me, and even though I had done his lines during the script read-throughs, I didn’t feel up to playing the part, even though it was originally an easier role. In the script we cut directly from the Shuffle Aftermath to Fonsuger telling a gullible, pompous General that the wielders were dangerous. The General agrees, and that’s that. Can you say . . . boring? We weren’t aware of how much better we could make it until Dad started playing around with the General Concept. (Who is first cousin to the General Public.)
Dad came up with the cranky, shell-shocked Captain Crunch that you see on film. We then had to modify the script to “display” that character to best advantage. The whole section with Fonsuger and Kitty Cone had to be added to set the audience up for the General’s entrance. And we had to add it only a few minutes before we started filming. Talk about racking your brain! There we were in the living room, frantically writing what we hoped would be good dialogue so we could get a move on. Can you picure it? General Madness. (And you don’t want to meet him; he’s really weird.)
After we filmed that part, we had to modify the original section in which Fonsuger persuades/orders General Public to kick the wielders out. Have you ever tried coming up with a “grand speech” in ten minutes, maximum? With pressure? I don’t advise it if you want to relax. Oh, one tip: read the whole scene out loud before you film. That’ll help you catch any inconsistencies that might have happened while you were modifiying.
After all that editing it was so nice to film the scene when General Public kicks them out. All the dialogue is original; we just had to switch the camera angles around so we could film General Public without the other actors being there, otherwise General Hilarity reigned. (And he kept showing up un-invited.)
And generally speaking, with the modifications we made we were able to get the general idea across with the new General Public while adding plenty of comedy, which, generally, is a good thing.
And I hope General Confusion didn’t show up while you were reading this article. He can be so irritating.
Here’s a video of some of our goof-offs and mistakes from filming General Public.