Despite what you may think after watching her videos, Rory Uphold loves Los Angeles. But that doesn’t stop her from poking fun at the comedic perils of life in the City of Angels through her Web series, “Only in HelLA.”
“I have a really sarcastic sense of humor. I love finding chinks in armor and ironies,” she said. “I see Los Angeles from a different angle. It’s like Los Angeles is my sister — I can make fun of her but you can’t.”
And the city is rife with material. “I believe Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s very diverse. It sets trends and changes people’s lives. It’s the epicenter of media, but I find it interesting and worth noting that Kim Kardashian has more Twitter followers than Gov.Jerry Brown or Mayor Eric Garcetti,” Uphold said. “I like pointing out the city’s flaws but I try and do it in a loving way.”
One of her latest and most popular offerings is “L.A. Coffee Shops.” The one-minute video is a parody of the city’s most annoying coffee drinkers. It was shot at Two Guns Espresso in Manhattan Beach, just a stone’s throw from where Uphold grew up in Hermosa Beach. In fact, more than half of the series, which has garnered 2 million views between YouTube and FunnyorDie, was shot in the South Bay.
“In Los Angeles, specialty coffee shops have become as ubiquitous as yoga and green juice and with them comes a rainbow of irksome coffee drinkers,” Uphold said. “This episode of ‘Only in HelLA’ hones in on the horror of being at the back of the line at the newest brew spot.”
Uphold was among the top 25 finalists of Make ’em LAFF, a comedy competition presented by the Los Angeles Film Festival and FunnyorDie. (Her first “HelLA” video, “Shopping in L.A.,” was nominated.) She won the grand jury honorable mention at the recent Dances with Films competition for her short film, “Safety.”
And she just found out “HelLA” is going to screen in the HollyShorts Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, taking place Friday through Aug. 23.
The Hermosa Beach woman, now in her mid-20s, took dance classes with Christy Curtis Buss at The Studio Art of Dance in El Segundo and used to perform at Los Angeles Sparks games. She also was a member of Professional School for the Arts in Torrance. She said all of her experiences give her perspective on the city.
“I ended up going to a performing arts high school out of state but returned to pursue acting. I started my professional career as a pop singer touring the country. After making my short film ‘Safety’ (with Ben York Jones) I decided to make ‘Only in HelLA,’ ” she said.
Although she’s been in several facets of show business, Uphold now has set her sights on being an independent filmmaker.
She writes, produces, acts in and films “Only in HelLA.” Her first 12-episode season cost about $15,000. An anonymous benefactor footed the bill. There’s almost $18,000 in the bank from a Kickstarter campaign to finance season two.
Uphold said there’s potential for it to be a television series. “That’s my ultimate goal,” she said.
Season two is following the same format but with more of a narrative. The season will touch on nightlife and being an actor, and will give a shout-out to Los Angeles sports teams and their fans.
“I think the test should be down to one sentence: It is funny because ... Then I have to figure out the most efficient way to tell that story,” Uphold said. “I also have to consider if it’s funny if you’re not from Los Angeles. What I want is for people to see it and say to themselves, ‘Oh my gosh, that has happened to me.’ ”
HollyShorts Film Festival
When: Thursday through Aug. 23.
Where: TCL Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.
Information: 818-760-9897, www.hollyshorts.com.