Dear Creators and Stars of IFC's Portlandia,
Thank you for the chance to appear in an episode of one of my favorite shows. I was one of several dozen extras who showed up last summer to help you shoot a couple of scenes where Fred and Carrie try to run a marathon with no real training.
It was a lot of fun, and I'm truly grateful to have had the opportunity—I even got a Runner's World column out of it. So it's hard for me to tell you this, but...
The end result is all wrong.
Sorry. It had to be said.
You probably won't shoot a marathon scene again. But on the off chance that you do, here is some advice on how you might improve it.
1. Play the National Anthem
You show the start of a marathon but don't have everyone stand there pretending to sing along as The Star Spangled Banner blares over the P.A. system? Yeah, see, you've already lost me. Totally inauthentic.
For maximum credibility, in fact, cut to Fred or Carrie sitting inside a porta-potty as the music starts, unsure whether to keep doing their business or pause out of respect or salute or what.
Pro tip: Fart noises, timed just right, will take this bit to the next level.
2. Get Your Sound Effects Right
In a real marathon, if you fall you might hear bones breaking and stuff, but it's never accompanied by the sort of wacky slide-whistle sound effects that you use. Never. Unless you're running with a slide whistle, I guess.
Related: You really should have shown viewers why Fred and Carrie slipped and fell, rather than just having them suddenly collapse. Banana peels would have been a logical choice. This is Comedy 101, guys.
3. Put More Thought Into Wardrobe
In this scene, Fred and Carrie are way overdressed for the conditions, assuming that everyone around them is properly dressed, which they are, because they're actual runners. Here's a good rule of thumb for a cool- or cold-weather race: If you're warm before you've even started running, you're overdressed.
Here's another rule of thumb: If you're cooking turkey for a crowd, buy about 1 pound per guest. If you want leftovers, make it 1.5 pounds. That isn't running related. I just thought you might find it useful.
4. Acknowledge the Camera
I notice that Fred and Carrie rarely, if ever, look directly at the camera. Big mistake. Glancing at "the folks at home" every once in a while is a tremendous way to bond with your audience. I'm hardly a trained actor, but even I understand this:
5. Toss in a Kitten
A small one. Wearing a tiny bib number. This might not make the scene more believable, but it certainly will make it more cute. People like cute things.
p.s. Fred, Carrie: Drop me a line. We should go for a run sometime.
UPDATE, 9/26/2016: This episode (Season 6, Episode 6) is now available for streaming on Netflix.