Mike Rizzo and Brian Bonz could turn out to be the Cheech and Chong of 21st century America.
The two longtime friends who grew up in Bay Ridge have formed a comedy duo called Bobo Touch and are now bringing their crazy brand of counter-culture humor to television in a series called “Bobo Touch Helpline.”
An episode of the show recently aired on BRIC TV, and Rizzo and Bonz are hoping to parlay that exposure into a regular gig on a streaming service like Apple TV.
“Bobo Touch Helpline” centers on two harried fathers, played by Rizzo and Bonz, who work out of an office in a Sunset Park gas station and offer advice to wacky people who contact them with all sorts of crazy problems.
“We wanted to give the audience a sense of the kind of wild, only-in-New-York kinds of stories that are out there,” Bonz told this newspaper.
The show’s main characters are similar to Rizzo and Bonz in certain respects and much of the humor comes from their real-life experiences as fathers, Rizzo said. “Brian has a four-year-old. And I’m a new dad,” he said. “We’re using our lives as inspiration.”
Each episode is filmed in a real-life Sunset Park gas station. The setting, an office within a gas station, serves as a commentary on the sharing economy and how small businesses are often forced to share space with each other to save money.
A typical episode takes three days to film. “We work with a small crew of four to five people,” Rizzo said.
The cast is a mixture of actors and real-life friends. Rizzo and Bonz find actors on casting websites. In some cases, a friend or a family member will have a certain look that they like and they will cast that person in a role, even without acting experience.
Rizzo, an editor at a visual arts firm, is responsible for post-production. Bonz works for a music tech company.
The two men decided to form Bobo Touch after discovering that they had similar tastes in comedy. “Brian and I both have a bizarre sense of humor,” Rizzo confessed.
Their influences include David Wain of “Wet Hot American Summer” fame, filmmaker Kevin Smith and the Three Stooges. Both men loved the movie “Airplane.”
“We love slapstick humor,” Bonz said.
Rizzo and Bonz grew up in Bay Ridge and lived in the Towers of Bay Ridge, the high-rise co-op apartment complex on 65th Street, throughout most of their childhoods.
The two men met when they were 12 years old. Soon after meeting, they started a band. They have been working together ever since.
Rizzo attended P.S. 170, Our Lady of Angels School and Monsignor Farrell High School. After graduating from Farrell, he went to the School of Visual Arts.
Bonz is also a graduate of P.S. 170. He later attended Christa McAuliffe Intermediate School, Fort Hamilton High School and Kingsborough Community College.
The madcap story lines on “Bobo Touch Helpline” have a purpose, according to Bonz. “We want to deliver a positive message through comedy. We want to show how fun and adventurous New York City can be,” he said.
For more information on the comedy duo, visit: www.bobotouch.com.