Notarize Me is an independent tv pilot created by Brigitte Valdez and Erika Rankin and directed by Rankin. Billed as a dark comedy, the six-minute pilot was screened at SXSW 2023. The show follows a notary public Jackie Gonzales (Valdez) who is trying to bring her best friend Louise Bass (Rankin) into the world of being a notary. No one hears the words “notary public” and thinks anything other than “boring”, but it’s that choice of professions to make a comedy around that makes the pilot so funny. Their first job together is to sign over power of attorney for an old man Cristof (Harley Tarlitz) on his deathbed to his younger wife (Sarah Cornell).
The dynamic between two young professionals trying to build a career and a woman clearly trying to take advantage of a creepy old man works quite well, with Cornell playing off the gold-digging wife excellently. Given the shorter runtime, there isn’t much opportunity to expand on characters, but she delivers the role in a way that is easy to understand and plays off the comedic moments perfectly.
It also helps that Rankin and Valdez clearly have excellent chemistry working together. Their characters catch on to what’s happening but they also know they need to make money, so they let it happen. You can tell visually they aren’t entirely comfortable with the situation, which makes the absurdity of it even funnier. It will be nice to see if Notarize Me gets a full show order so they can flesh out their characters. The concept of two people trying to build a career in increasingly less-than-ethical situations feels like a perfect combination, and the fact that Rankin and Valdez are able to write their own characters helps them feel authentic despite the short screen time.
I really do hope Notarize Me gets a chance to expand on the darkly humorous concept. The writing and performances from Rankin and Valdez show a ton of promise, so it would be nice to see them get a chance to expand on it even more. Dark humor is a hard balance to find, but what I’ve seen of Notarize Me manages it well.
Notarize Me screened at SXSW on Mar 12, 2023.