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Father ‘hoods: ‘Dad Day’ series explores Brooklyn nabes

Life lessons: The new series “Dad Day” follows 5-year-old Henry, his dad James, and Craig as they have advenutres in different Brooklyn neighborhoods, and the adults try to pass on their meager wisdom.
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It’s a look back in humor.

A new comedy series debuting this month looks at the changing culture of Brooklyn neighborhoods through the eyes of a pair of modern day Honeymooners. “Dad Day,” which launches online and on Bric TV on Oct. 24, features free spirit Craig and family man James, as they have adventures around the borough and try to pass their wisdom on to the next generation, according to the show’s director.

“While you’re following the adventures of these two buffoons, hopefully they are revealing the culture of these various neighborho­ods,” said Craig Butta, who lives in Fort Greene. “We wanted to create something people can watch on Monday mornings on their commute to work, to give them a few laughs, something to talk about that day — and give them something to reminisce about.”

Butta and co-writer James Mennella, from Crown Heights, based the six-episode series on a moment in their own lives, when the two would meet up once a week, along with Mennella’s son Henry. Butta was bartending at the time, and they would meet early on Sunday mornings, he said, after he got off a very late-night shift.

“I’d work Saturday until 6 or 7 in the morning, and when I would get off work, James would go to the park with his kid, so it was the only time in the week where our lives intersected,” he recalled.

Their very different lives made for some good stories, as Mennella pushed the bachelor to take advantage of his freedom, said Butta.

“James is the meddler — he works 60 hours a week and has two kids, he can’t do things the way he wants. So he tries to meddle and live vicariously through me,” he said.

Butta plays himself in the show, while actor Artie Brennan portrays James, and 5-year-old Henry Mennella plays himself. In each roughly 15-minute episode, the trio have an adventure in a different neighborhood in Brooklyn, after which James and Craig teach young Henry an important life lesson. During the first episode, Craig drags the gang to a kid’s dance party at a Gowanus warehouse, where the two men have very different reactions, said Butta.

“James is resistant because it feels like a very Park Slope, yuppie thing, and I’m trying to hit on a nanny,” he said.

And another episode follows them to gentrified Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, where James used to buy weed. The scene perfectly captures the feeling of growing up in the city a few decades ago, said Bric TV’s executive producer.

“The stories are kind of these universal stories, for men and women who are my age can identify with,” said Aziz Isham. “A whole episode about buying weed from a storefront, which if you grew up in New York City and you’re about my age, it’s something you may have done. And so in that sense, they really capture that nostalgia in a very real way.”

Watch “Dad Day” starting on Oct. 24 at 10 pm on BRIC TV (Channel 756 on Time Warner Cable; Channel 46 on Verizon; Channel 70 on Cable Vision, or Oct. 24 at noon at the Bric Arts Media site (www.bricartsmedia.org/community-media/bric-tv), or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/BKIndependentTV.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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