Private Project

Walking through Peanut Butter

22-year-old workaholic Jessie has just moved to the city that never sleeps to follow her dreams of stand-up comedy. She also has narcolepsy, a misunderstood sleep disorder that even she knows little about. In this short, Jessie steps up to the mic only to discover a strange new symptom that will threaten to challenge her comedy career and force her to wake up to the reality of having a serious chronic illness.

  • Anna Marr
    Story Pirates, Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), Vulture, Bustle, Bluelaces Theatre Co. (co-founder)
  • Lorena Russi
    Chipotle (Snapchat), Spotify, The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central, Amazon, Vice, Refinery29
  • Anna Marr
    Story Pirates, Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), Vulture, Bustle, Bluelaces Theatre Co. (co-founder)
  • Jasmin Stanley
    UCB, TADA! Theater, The Magnet Theater, The Peoples Improv Theater (PIT)
  • Anna Marr
    Story Pirates, UCB (Cage Match), Vulture, Bustle, Bluelaces Theatre Co. (co-founder)
  • Mark Kramer
    Last Week Tonight w/ John Oliver (writer), 2018 NYTVF Scripts Competition Official Selection, 2017 NBC Late Night Writers Workshop, 2016 NBC Scene Showcase, Vulture, Funny or Die
  • Anna Marr
    Key Cast
    Story Pirates, UCB (Cage Match), Vulture, Bustle, Bluelaces Theatre Co. (co-founder)
  • JJ Warshaw
    Key Cast
    2019 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project
  • Fumi Abe
    Key Cast
    Carolines (opener for Ronny Chieng), The Comedy Cellar; Asian, Not Asian podcast (co-host)
  • Bethany Lauren James
    Key Cast
    The Follower (opposite Erika Christensen, on Amazon), The Deuce, A Crime to Remember, Adulting with Jane
  • Sarah Wharton
    Key Cast
    UCB (house team: Detroit), BoogieManja (the PIT)
  • Brian Morabito
    Key Cast
    "David Attenborough (VO)"
    UCB (Maude Night, Lloyd Night), Comedy Central, Oxygen Network, multiple national & international commercials
  • Chris Alfonso
    Director of Photography, Target, CVS, Johnson & Johnson
  • Dylan River Lopez
    Vice, The Webby Awards, CNET, Microsoft
  • Project Type:
    Short, Television, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Dark Comedy, Comedy
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 22, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    2,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Lorena Russi

CREATOR/WRITER/PRODUCER/ACTOR: Anna Marr is an actor/writer/voiceover artist based in LA. A longtime Story Pirate, co-founder of Bluelaces Theatre Co., & Vulture contributor, she is a UCB-trained improviser and musical improviser and has been featured in videos on Bustle & Allure and in the hit, award-winning Story Pirates podcast. She's a proud Northwestern University alum passionate about sleep health & ice cream.

DIRECTOR: Lorena Russi is a Queens native and Queer-Latinx comedian, host and filmmaker now selling out in Brooklyn. Her 9 years in comedy, media and education ranges from hosting Chipotle’s Snapchat Channel to Head Writer for Spotify’s “Game Plan” to working on “The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert” digital team. Her bilingual Dad jokes have been featured on the Oscars, Comedy Central, Amazon, Vice, Refinery29, BAM, and Time Out’s “LGBTQ POC Comedians We’re Obsessed With.” Outside of comedy, Lorena is an ex-pro soccer player that daydreams about symmetrical knees. Lorena has two projects currently in development, both heavily influenced by her immigrant guilt.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

From Anna Marr (Creator/Writer/Producer/Actor):

One month out of college, I moved to New York City like a character straight of out that song in "Annie": "three bucks, two bags, one me.” What I didn't realize was that I arrived with an extra bag. This third suitcase was the invisible baggage of invisible chronic illness. I’d just been diagnosed with narcolepsy.

This short is based on my experiences navigating the comedy world of the city that never sleeps while living with narcolepsy.

As opposed to how it’s portrayed in the media (people falling asleep mid-sentence who can’t drive and might collapse in their bowl of spaghetti), it’s actually a serious chronic, invisible neurological sleep disorder. On any given day, a person with narcolepsy feels like you would if you hadn’t slept in 48 to 72 hours. I can't stand how frequently it's used as a punchline in Hollywood—especially when the truth of it is much funnier.

For example, one symptom is sudden muscle weakness triggered by strong emotions. My trigger, as a comedian with narcolepsy? Laughter. This is where our main character, Jessie, comes in.

"Walking through Peanut Butter" follows Jessie, a stubborn, overachieving new college grad diving headfirst into standup comedy in NYC. It's story about a nice person who is unraveling—and she’s unraveling into a self-absorbed mess.

It's a dark comedy mixed with moments of magical realism. For people with narcolepsy, the boundaries between wakefulness and sleep are blurred as we see, hear, and feel aspects of dream sleep while partially conscious. The small surrealist moments of the film remain my favorites. I often have a hard time knowing what’s real and what’s not, and I hope to give the audience a taste of that.

The production of this short was brutally meta. Like Jessie, the freight train of my career was interrupted by the onset of strange new symptoms of a different chronic illness—right before we began filming. I had to rely on my fellow producers more than I expected or wanted to. It became clear that the lessons I thought I was teaching Jessie—about asking for help, advocating for your needs, and accepting your own limitations—are still just as relevant to me.

I spent so many years thinking I was lazy and crazy. I hope this film can take that edge off of someone else.