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New Web Series Examines Changing Bed-Stuy Demographics Through Comedy

Off the G
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Nedra Gallegos

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Two actors and friends hope to examine the changing demographics of Bedford-Stuyvesant through comedy with a new webseries called "Off the G."

Set in Bed-Stuy and created by Nedra Gallegos and Carla Briscoe, "Off the G" looks at the cross-section of people and cultures in the neighborhood through a comedic lens.

"I wanted to address gentrification in a non-judgmental way," Gallegos said. "I think gentrification is bittersweet. I don't think anybody hates a good coffee shop [but] everybody hates the high rents."

The script idea came to Gallegos — an actor and teacher who has lived in Bed-Stuy for two years — when she ripped her Achilles tendon last year. She couldn't act or go on auditions, so she decided to use the time to work on her own project that she could act in when she healed up.

Gallegos enlisted Briscoe, whom she'd met in a theater class and who also has a comedy and theater background, to help work on the script and to co-star in the series.

The stories all center around one coffee shop — "think 'Cheers,'" Gallegos said — that acts as a hub for different groups of people in the neighborhood.

Gallegos moved to Bed-Stuy from Astoria, where she said there was a lot of diversity, but that she didn't get a sense that people of different backgrounds were communicating the way they do in her new home.

"I really didn't feel the same sense of community that I feel in Bed-Stuy," Gallegos said. "There's fewer walls up."

On the duo's IndieGoGo campaign site, a preview video features a woman having a conversation while breastfeeding in the coffee shop, while two young men look on in wonder and disgust. 

"Don't you feel awkward doing that here?" asks the woman's friend, played by Gallegos.

"I don't feel anything," the woman, played by Briscoe, snaps back. "Other peoples' problems are not my problems."

The skit ends when she pulls the swaddled child away from her chest to burp him. The "baby" is closer in age to a 12-year-old than a toddler.

There are six episodes of "Off the G" written, according to the show's creators. They've reached the $1,000 mark and are continuing their outreach to raise $17,000 by June 15.

The webseries is also a sponsored project of the arts non-profit group Fractured Atlas, and last year received a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council for $2,000, which they used as seed money to get the project started.

On May 16, Gallegos and Briscoe are throwing a party in support of the project at Mug Lounge at 446 E. 13 St. in the East Village, with live music and poetry. They also hope to raise enough money to finish all six episodes and start screening in Bed-Stuy.

Hopefully the series can also serve as the impetus for even more interaction between people, Gallagos said.

"It celebrates a neighborhood that has an incredibly unique energy and voice," she said. "I'm really into building community through art, and making them laugh. I think laughter's a really great way to break the ice."