As the “Welcome to Westport” video continues to rocket around cyberspace — and rack up comments — a bit of background adds some intriguing context.
The film was a group project on “satire” for an Advanced Placement English Language class. While I credited Nick Ribolla for it alone, he wrote and directed it with Jimmy Ray Stagg and Harrison Knapp. It was filmed all in 1 day.
But wait! There’s more!
Part of the inspiration came from a 1985 video called “Westport’s Got It All.” Produced by MCA as a gift for the town’s 150th anniversary, it was a very upbeat ode to the town.
Nick, Jimmy Ray and Harrison subtly satirized the cheesy music, and the opening scene of a man with a newspaper on the banks of the Saugatuck — though I’m sure the Staples juniors have no idea that guy was famed “ABC Wide World of Sports” anchor and Westport resident Jim McKay.
The final line — “Westport’s got it all!” — is a direct ripoff of the 30-year-old video. That’s the mark of great satire: It works for everyone, but it’s especially sweet for those who are in on a deeper joke.
Back in 1985, here’s what Westporters were saying about their town:
- “I’m worried the town is losing its mix of a variety of people.”
- “Westporters have extraordinary aspirations for their children. And they’re willing to pay for it.”
- “Westport has the sophistication of New York, the exuberance of a California town, the quaintness of New England — and a sense of humor.”
- “We do have latchkey children, as more and more parents go off to work.”
- “The Post Road is a disaster. But every town has its Post Road. This one looks better than many.”
- “Commercialization has really changed this town. It’s been good and bad.”
So check out “Westport’s Got It All”:
Then look (again) at “Welcome to Westport” (click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)
Now tell me Nick, Jimmy Ray and Harrison don’t deserve an A+ for satire.