What happens when you're at the height of fame and success and then suddenly it's gone? That's the situation Adam Pally (Happy Endings, The Mindy Project) and Sam Richardson's (Veep, Detroiters) Ronnie and Alf must navigate in Champaign ILL. The new 10-episode YouTube original comedy series, from the creators of Happy Endings, stars the funnymen as members of a hip-hop entourage who are left with nothing after their successful rapper best friend (played by Jay Pharoah) meets a tragic fate.
The duo are forced to move back in with their parents in their hometown of Champaign (a real place outside Chicago, FYI), and bumble about while trying to figure out what's next. For anyone who has ever left home in search of greener pastures only to eventually find themselves crawling back to suburbia with mom and dad, this hilarious comedy will hit close to home.
"A part of what the show really explores is this idea of leaving your hometown and going on life adventures. You fly so close to the sun, and inevitably, you end up going home," Pally told me during an interview at ComplexCon in Long Beach last month. "And where these guys were, which is the outer space of fame and money, and then to go back Champaign, which is like, the flattest place on earth..."
The series also explores hip-hop stardom, trends in street fashion, and "Hypebest" culture, so expect Ronnie and Alf to be fitted in some pretty loud clothing and accessories. But as devout sneakerheads themselves, Pally and Richardson are adamant that their intension isn't to mock.
"For me, the thing about hype culture and sneaker culture, it's wearable art," said Richardson.
"Right, it's a modern day way to express yourself," Pally added. "For me, and I know Sam as well, we like hype culture... But even to call it 'hype culture' feels slightly dismissive. Older generations are like, 'I can’t believe kids are lining up for sneakers. I’m going to put my record on a vinyl table and snap a needle down and somehow —"
"Like culture includes all those others, but one wants to dismiss the other," Richardson added in agreement.
Discussions about the meaning of the culture aside, I've previewed the first three episodes of Champaign ILL, and can confirm the series is a hilarious ride. Expect
tons of precarious situations and cringe-y moments as Ronnie and Alf try to claw their way back to the top. But don't take our word for it. See for yourself.
Champaign ILL hits YouTube Premium on December 12th.