What if you woke up one day and suddenly had the opportunity to seize the identity of New York City’s most notorious Don Juan? That’s the question posed by creative collaborators Forrest and Tyler Silvers in their new comedy series Becoming Jiff, currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Tyler, who writes and serves as executive producer on the series as well as playing the titular character, thoroughly enjoyed combining his friend’s experiences with his own to create a character that felt lived in even before he stepped on set. As for trading places, Tyler appears content to leave identity theft up to his fictional counterpart…unless he was given the opportunity to be as wholesomely happy as man’s best friend! In the future, it looks like time and space itself might not even be a barrier with Tyler’s upcoming film project, Guy Down the Road, a time traveling comedy.
Cliché: What are you currently working on?
Tyler Silvers: We have a new time travel comedy feature film we’re working on called Guy Down the Road. It’s really funny, and like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
How did you know that comedy was the genre for you?
I think my brother Forrest and I just write and perform what is true to us, and life to us is often a series of funny events. The happy ones, the sad ones, the weird ones, there’s comedy in all of it if you look at it the right way. A lot of life is tough so I think your best option is to have a sense of humor about it.
Who are your biggest comedic inspirations?
That’s a hard one because I’m a big fan of so many different types of comedy, but I truly love Steve Martin. No one makes me laugh harder, and his jokes get better every time you think about them. And I respect that his humor is rarely topical which I think makes it timeless. There’s not a lot of things worse than having to watch a standup set about Michael Dukakis or Jamiroquai and not getting any of the references. In terms of comedic actors, Tom Hanks and Owen Wilson are two of my favorites. They have the ability to take any character, no matter how odd, unlikable, or quirky they may seem on paper, and really bring them to life in a very lovable, funny and understanding way for the audience. And in terms of personal inspiration, Forrest and I have some friends who are real “characters” for lack of a better word, and they give us more inspiration and ideas than we know what to do with.
You frequently collaborate with your brother, Forrest. Do you think that working with your family creates more honest feedback on your work? What are the benefits of combining family and business?
Absolutely. Forrest and I know each other so well creatively and personally, it’s a cliche, but we can finish each other’s sentence, and communicate just with looks, and we trust each other completely. We both make each other better. He’s even saved my life I think three times already in the past twenty five years, so I owe him! Also a lot of times people in general, even when they are trying to be honest, their opinions can be clouded by their biases, so you may not be getting the honest feedback you need. But collaborating with your brother you never have to worry about that. Also I personally feel that Forrest is one of the best comedy filmmakers working today, so I’m lucky to be able to collaborate with him.
Talk about your new series, Becoming Jiff. Give us some insight on who Jiff is as a character.
Becoming Jiff is a comedy series that’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It’s about a young man named Jiff who isn’t really happy in his life. He has taken the traditional path that society has given him and he is now lost. One day he gets a new cell phone number that belongs to a mysterious “Ladies Man” named Alejandro Alejandro, so he and his buddies Roy and Tony T decide to hatch a plan, where Jiff will try to take on Alejandro Alejandro’s identity. It’s about how sometimes you have to take a step back in your life to realize what really matters, and build from that emotional place to figure out your true self. And sometimes there’s bumps along the road.
What was your reaction when you found out that the series had been picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films?
We were truly thrilled. We had some other offers, but it was a dream to collaborate with Samuel Goldwyn Films. Goldwyn has an amazing history, being nominated for Oscars, having commercial hits, but most importantly they have a great track record of championing emerging filmmakers and talent.
You wrote and star in Becoming Jiff as well as serving as executive producer. Is it fun to be able to write for the character you’re playing?
Yeah it’s great. When you write the character I think you have a very deep connection to the character. Because when you create things you almost always draw from people, events, and moments from your actual life, so your character is imbued with your personal history. So when it comes time to play that character, you already know him inside and out before you even start the first rehearsals.
Jiff is your quintessential average Joe who suddenly finds himself mistaken for a Casanova. Is that a role that he adapts to well? Would you consider yourself a ladies’ man or do you identify more with Jiff?
(Laughing) I think of myself more like Jiff in the sense that I believe it’s more important to connect with someone on an emotional level than anything else. I think something very important that Becoming Jiff says about relationships is that the key to meeting someone you really connect with is by following your passions, and then you will meet the right people in life. If you try to be a jerk and objectify people, I don’t think you will get very far or find much happiness.
Did you draw on your own experiences (or misadventures) with dating for Jiff’s storylines?
(Laughing) Yeah in some ways. And from experiences of some of my male and female friends. I have one friend who receives a lot of texts the way Alejandro Alejandro does. It’s kind of crazy to me people text such intimate details of their lives to almost complete strangers, I usually just text emojis and jokes, and at the end of the day I’m still more of a phone call person!
If you could assume someone else’s identity, who would it be and why?
My first thoughts are fictional characters or characters from history (laughing), but that counts more as time travel I guess. Maybe the Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom or JK Rowling. You know what, I’d assume the identity of my friend’s dog. He’s so happy, everyone loves him, he gets free food, and he doesn’t have a care in the world.
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Becoming Jiff’s Tyler Silvers on Comedy, Family, And Navigating Mistaken Identity. Photo Credit: Forrest Silvers.