This Week In Web Videos: ‘Last Night’
If you like inviting friends to Facebook fan pages you’ve created for yourself or your series and enjoy tweeting links to the latest episodes of… whatever the fuck, then there’s probably something a little bit wrong with you. If you feel sort of uncomfortable about self-promotion and do it anyway because you know it’s the only way to get your hard work out there, then you’re just like me (fan page here, I apologize) and John Trowbridge — the writer/creator behind a hilarious new series called Last Night, featuring a troupe of New York web comedy mainstays like Ben Warheit, Molly Gaebe, and Boris Khaykin and directed by Dave Bluvband.
Posting about yourself may be stomach turning at first, but the world of modern web comedy has become a place where everyone needs to be pimping their work all the time if they have any hope of getting it seen amidst a deluge of content. So, grit your teeth, clench your butt cheeks together and start selling you. Just make sure you’ve got the work to back up the pitch, like my good man Mr. Trowbridge here.
Tell me about your background in comedy before this series.
I’m a UCB dude. Before that I used to do a lot of stand up in Albany and then I moved here and started taking improv classes at UCB. I’ve been on two Harold teams there and now I’m just putting all of my effort into this web series and doing Spank shows at UCB.
What was the inspiration for this series?
Everybody goes to parties and sometimes the most fun thing about going to parties is that conversation you have with your friends the next morning, at the diner. What the hell happened last night? I love that instant sense of comradery you feel with your friends when you’re just trying to relive the craziness that happened before. I wanted to make a series that could capture how fun that could be. But of course I couldn’t just do two people talking. There has to be huge stakes involved and someone has to try to kill them to heighten it, but for the most part I just wanted to capture how fun it is to relive last night’s party with your best friends.
What was the most challenging part of making Last Night?
Well we shot it all in 3 days and I think the most challenging was shooting the series finale. We have a big series finale. All the episodes leading up to the series finale take place in a diner and then in the last episode we leave the diner to actually go to a party and that was super hard to shoot. I wont ruin anything, but it’s pretty big and pretty outlandish. The easiest part was actually writing it and getting everyone together. If you have a really good producer it’s really easy. My producer, Teresa Lee, is really just a godsend.
What are your hopes moving forward with this series? Are you going to do a second season?
That’s a big question because I want to do a second season and the amount of support that we’ve gotten already is enough to justify a second season. We just launched and we’ve already got over a 1000 hits for each one of the episodes. People seem to want a second season. We had a screening of the show last Saturday at Videology and some agency people came and they were like, “Well whenever you have a pilot send it our way and we’ll try to work with that.” So I really want to do a second season but for right now, the energy is trying to adapt it for something for TV.
Is this your full-time gig right now?
I’d say 70% of me is concentrated on it. I work at FUSE during the day and when I’m not doing that I’m doing stand up or I’m doing improv around the city. I’m also auditioning Spanks at UCB.
What do you do at FUSE?
I work for their website, so I post stuff to the website and I edit interviews to send to On-Demand stuff and sometimes they send me to music festivals and I help them cover Lollapalooza and stuff like that. It’s great because I’ve worked there long enough where I can kind of just do whatever now.
That’s the millennial kind of thing now — work on anything, anywhere. What advice do you have for people looking to break in to the web space?
Well the first thing that we harped on was that they had to be super short. I don’t expect anybody to watch a 4-5 minute video about me trying to write down these very complicated characters. Nobody’s going to do that. I would say, keep it short and I think for things to be watchable these days there has to be some sort of improv element in it. Either the idea for the video has to be super strong or the structure of the episode has to be loose enough to allow people to just kind of have fun with it. Because it reads so well on video, just seeing people having fun with each other. Also, get a good producer. And once you launch your web series, don’t be afraid to be a piece of shit for a couple of days and just email your friends constantly and just bother people, day in and day out. Make the web series that you wanna watch. Don’t make what you think the Internet is going to like. Make what you would like.
Do you have a special way of self-promoting? Do you target a certain group of people first and then build out?
Before we posted the first two episodes we released a teaser and we posted a photo of us drinking and counted down the days until the premiere. We did a lot of stuff leading up to the first episode and then when we launched, we posted the first two episodes. And we did two because I feel like you’ll watch two right then and then you’ll be into the series. I feel like if you watch one, you could just give up on it. But if you watch two and they’re kind of good, you’re already invested in the web series because you’ve already watched so much of it that you come back to the next one. Also it’s important to have everyone involved in the program constantly blasting it out all of the time. You need to keep it the top thing on Facebook. Tumblr about it. You have to make GIFs about it. We do 2 per episode just to make it seem like you had to have seen this specific part of the web series. Tweet it out. We tweeted at like Vanity Fair, I tweeted at the High Maintenance guys, I tweeted at other people that I admire. You just gotta do whatever you can do. I think what helped us the first day is Ben Warheit, who plays Ben, has an extremely popular Tumblr so he blasted it out a lot, which was really great. And if you want it to go viral or have people share it, you have to throw it on YouTube. You throw it on Vimeo if you want to show it to industry people, but you throw it on YouTube if you want it to get viral. If we have a Last Night live show we want Last Night fans to come, not Ben Warheit fans or John Trownbridge fans.
Episode #2: The Apartment
You can’t write chemistry like this. The cast of Last Night are real life friends and it’s obvious. That’s a big plus in a simple series that’s heavily reliant on dialogue…between friends.
Episode #3: Todd
Never be afraid to be filthy and unrepentantly mean, as long as you’re also being funny.
Episode #4: The Waitress
Trowbridge knows what he thinks is good and he’s not afraid to show us. Last Night is totally original and totally unapologetically rude. That’s why it’s totally fantastic.