Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Pharrell parody video gets 'Happy' over LA's cracked, broken sidewalks

The "Fix LA's Sidewalks" video parodying Pharrell's "Happy."
Honora Talbott (via YouTube)

There are three guarantees in life — death, taxes and broken sidewalks in Los Angeles.

And for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of trying to navigate buckled sidewalks around L.A., there's now a YouTube video. It parodies the video for "Happy" from Pharrell Williams. It got a high-profile endorsement from Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier this week:

Mayor Eric Garcetti's tweet about "Happy" parody video

RELATED: Video: Where to find the celebrities in Pharrell's 24-hour music video 'Happy'

The video coincides with this week's release of a budget report that supports increasing the city of L.A.'s sales tax to pay for failing streets. A small portion of the $4.5 billion that could be raised — $640 million — would be allocated for sidewalk repairs if voters agree to increase the sales tax by a half-cent. The L.A. City Council has until July to decide whether the tax increase should go on the November ballot. 

Prior to the sales tax hike being proposed, City Councilman Joe Buscaino had been pushing for a bond measure to fix streets and sidewalks. 

At the end of the parody video is a link to a survey from Buscaino, asking whether Angelenos would support various funding formulas to make the road repairs.

Buscaino's office said he wasn't involved with the video, but a spokesman issued a statement saying:  "The councilman is #Happy that there is creative participation in the discussion of fixing L.A.'s streets and sidewalks."

So who is responsible for the video?

Actress and writer Honora Talbott from sketch comedy group Clive Rice put the video together. It was shot this past Sunday. She tells KPCC that she didn't originally set out to make a political video and denies it being official — at all.

"I think there is a major misconception that I am working for the City Council and was paid to make this video as a form of some insidious new Internet age propaganda. I am not that sneaky and cool," Talbott tells KPCC in an email.

"I actually first just wanted to do a 'Happy' parody, but was struggling to find the right angle. I even had the [director of photography] confirmed to shoot Sunday on a completely different version of it, but that parody idea just kept not feeling right to me," Talbott writes.

She says she sat down and rewatched the "Happy" video a few more times days before the shoot, then the idea for the sidewalk parody hit her.

"Even though I knew sidewalk disrepair was a big problem in L.A. just by being a regular citizen who walks around, I didn’t realize how topical the issue was until doing my research. Then I knew I had to get this video out now," Talbott wrote.

She shot it at two locations after driving around her own Los Feliz neighborhood, choosing Canyon Drive and Vermont Avenue. She adds that local residents spotted her shooting and knew exactly why she was there.

"One woman with a baby and toddler came out when I was lying facedown on the pavement, and I was sure she was going to tell us to stop shooting. Instead she said, 'Oh, are you filming something about the sidewalk cracks? That’s great! We’ve been trying to get ours fixed,'" Talbott writes.

Talbott says she was shocked and amazed by the mayor tweeting about her video.

"I mean, the mayor of Los Angeles tweeted out my silly comedy video about people falling down, with — I might add — a far superior and catchy link. There are about three things in that sentence that my brain can’t compute," Talbott wrote.

She remains unsure about the proposed sales tax.

"Is the sales tax increase the right thing to do? Maybe, maybe not. I’m still doing my own research as a Los Angeles resident, and I hope my video encourages others to do the same. After they laugh at people falling down of course," Talbott writes.

The video also shares a connection with the original "Happy" video — their director of photography was also on the crew of the original.

You can see more of Talbott's comedy on her YouTube page.