Now Streaming in Austin: The Trolls
Austin comedy takes a potshot at tech culture
By Richard Whittaker,
2:00PM, Fri. May 15, 2020
Welcome to Now Streaming in Austin, highlighting locally made titles to watch while self-quarantining.
While the global economy seems to be tanking, the truth is that many tech businesses are flourishing. So it seems a perfect time to take a trip into the world of cubicles and computing with The Trolls.
Writer/director Lex Lybrand was inspired to make the crowdfunded comedy when he read the story of Adam Corolla being sued by a Texas firm that claimed they owned the idea of podcasts. What they did is called patent trolling: File an amazingly vague patent, then come threaten to sue anyone whose product comes anywhere near its wide terms.
It's the opposite of what big companies, especially tech firms, do: they file a grab-bag of patents so that no one can stop them from entering a market. This is basically about shakedowns on small firms that can't afford a lawsuit, and that's where Lybrand focuses his story: a tiny startup (staffed by a who's who of Austin comics including Rob Gagnon and Lisa Friedrich – oh, and look for a cameo by future wrestling superstar Keith Lee) that gets targeted by a professional patent troll, and decides to turn the tables by trolling the trolls.
There was even a good dose of dramatic irony when Lybrand saw ... let's say similarities between his film and an episode of the hit series Silicon Valley that aired a year later.
But for now, let the laughter and lawsuits commence!
• Vimeo (Link)