It may be indicative of only my viewing history but YouTube seems to mainly be fails, cats and pranks. And combinations of all three. So when you run a comedy channel you will ponder the best way to get new viewers and to entertain your current fans. Due to animal handling laws and prohibitive costs we decided that we shouldn't involve any cats, but we wanted to see if it's possible to make a complete failure of a hidden camera prank show. That's where David Trent came in.
David Trent is an Edinburgh comedy newcomer nominee and lauded stand-up comedian, but he is also a man who doesn't understand pranks, so we got him to come up with the best ideas he could muster and set out to make a prank show like no other. Thanks to the advancement of technology it's possible for most people with access to a smartphone to secretly film a prank, but we wanted to do things properly, to throw everything at it. So we had to gain filming permission from Hillingdon council, assemble a crew of six people to produce, direct, operate cameras, record sound and obtain legal clearances from anyone we filmed and featured and finally: assemble a support cast to perform the pranks that Trent had come up with. A cast that includes award-winning comedians such as Nick Helm and John Kearns.
The show, known as Totally Trented, was shot on a total of six cameras, from digital 35mm cameras to DSLRs, GoPros and an iPhone. The pranks, dubbed Trentings, were scheduled and four six-minute episodes were shot in one day: a total of nine Trentings and four street magic tricks were crammed in. I wanted to find out what Trent thought of the process and why he wanted to make a hidden camera prank show, so I sent him some questions, anticipating he'd be delighted to discuss his greatest achievement.
Hi David, why did you want to make a hidden camera prank show?
I couldn't afford to pay for Turtle Canyon's green screen for my Edinburgh show so they made me do it.
Who are your influences?
Was it important the cameras were hidden?
Very, very important.
How did you come up with the pranks?
I locked myself away for about six weeks and thought what would Beadle do?
How did you convince more successful comedians to appear in your show?
I sent them an email. They said yes. Positive thinking.
How long have you trained as a magician?
Self taught. All my life.
What advice would you give someone looking to make a prank show?
Don't do it, it's very very very difficult.
Are the pranks or the hidden cameras most important?
The most important thing is the Trenting.
Here's how the show ended up: