Spring is finally here, and that means sunglasses, Frisbee tossing, and lots of dudes prancing around in Slutty Clothes. "Wait, what?" You heard me. That's what it means. At least according to New York-based sketch group Simply Unemployable's latest release — a goofy ode to 1980's "hot girl" movie montages and a male culture that annually celebrates girls bearing springtime skin.
The production value is fantastic as is the (prolonged) straight-faced devotion to a completely ridiculous and highly visual conceit. Well done, sirs. I look forward to seeing you in the park. I'll be the guy doing Pilates in the see-through lululemons. No, but really — great job on the video. And my lululemons are black.
Chilling words. Words that may be every parent’s worst nightmare, not necessarily because moms and pops hate laughter, but because a comic’s life is a hard one — often replete with substance abuse, loneliness, and the kind of poverty that stops being cool around your 476th cup of Ramen noodles.
I’d guess that very few parents want their kids to go into comedy, unless they’re in it themselves. That’s precisely the case for Tyler Alexander, head honcho at SecondCityNetwork.com and the heir to a Chicago comedy empire started by his dad, Second City co-owner and CEO Andrew Alexander.
Whether or not Mr. Alexander ever cautioned young Tyler about the pitfalls of making people laugh, we can be sure he exposed him to much of the business’s glory — glory that Tyler has channeled into a delightful web series called Shrinkage and an exciting effort to make the Internet chuckle Chicago style. READ MORE
In the immortal words of Biggie Smalls, “Here’s another one.” A great effing web series, that is. A web series that I’m head over heels in love with in a way that defies all of love’s boundaries and conventions, in both the platonic and sexual realms. Not that I want to have sex with this week’s series. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is: The feelings of respect and admiration that Ingrid Jungermann’s hilariously poignant F to 7th has inspired in me, have had a transcendent effect. During the 30 minutes I spent watching the show, I was transported to a world of identity crisis, crippling neuroses, and botched social cues—a world made beautiful not because it was unlike my own, but because it was so exactly similar even though I’m a dude and this is a series about lesbianism.
Created by, directed by, and starring Ingrid Jungermann alongside a sparkling roster of New York’s best indie comedic talent, F to 7th is a gem for all the usual reasons — stellar story structure, writing, acting, etc. But, more than that, it’s a project about female homosexuality — a subject that hasn’t achieved the same level of Hollywood exposure as its male counterpart—that manages to stay universally relatable and powerful while delivering a consistent rhythm of moments that are coffee-spitting funny, much like Ingrid herself, as you’ll soon read. READ MORE
For every 10 college seniors who tell friends that they're going to pursue a career in comedy after graduation, maybe 1 actually does. (Unless those 10 go to Harvard. If they go to Harvard, then every one will probably go on to write for SNL or the New Yorker or Conan or all of those things because their big Harvard brains allow them to do everything that's great all at once.) Don't get me wrong — the other 9 probably had every intention of making a go in the funny business and maybe they did for a little while, but comedy's brutal and most can't stand the heat of the relentless failure that comes with the territory. (Again, Harvard people, you don't have to read this — unless you're in the mood for a laugh.) But that 1, that 1 will try and, if he tries hard enough, for long enough, that 1 may succeed. 2012 Brandeis grad Paul Gale (along with his writing partner Adam Lapetina) is proof of that. And a visit to his YouTube channel, PaulGaleComedy will make you understand why.
The kid is relentless, bravely exploring and exhibiting the craft almost every week, on a budget of $0. He's a model of what every aspiring young comic should be: determined and tireless in his creation of new content, no matter what his experience level, no matter who sees. Getting good means getting better first and Gale is certainly doing that in a way that's worth keeping an eye on.
So, as we near graduation season, be not afraid young jokers. Joke well and often. And make sure you press the record button when you do.
Do you know who Scott Rogowsky is? No? Well, then you’re among the vast majority of people in the world but, and this is a weighty “but,” the 28-year-old comic’s relative anonymity may soon blossom into fame, and maybe even a one-line Wikipedia entry that requires further citations — the most any of us struggling, silly folk can really hope for. “Why the bright forecast for Rogowsky?” You might ask. The answer: He manages to shamelessly self-promote while being funny and likable — a feat very few entertainers can pull off (Dane Cook, anyone?).
We first became acquainted with his unique brand of alluring obnoxiousness in July when we covered the man on the street antics he pioneered for Someecards, we’ve watched as he inked a partnership with MyDamnChannel to promote his weekly live comedy show, Running Late With Scott Rogowsky, and now Rogowsky’s caught our eye with a knowingly desperate Kickstarter plea called The Lorne Michaels Project. The upshot is Rogowsky is trying to raise $94.51 so he can buy an Edible Arrangement for Michaels in hopes of winning over NBC’s resident king of late night laughs and snagging the chance to fill Jimmy Fallon’s shoes now that he’s replacing Jay Leno.
Will Rogowsky get what he wants? Not likely, considering competition like Seth Myers and Chelsea Handler. Will he be remembered by Lorne Michaels? Probably not, no. But am I writing an article about Rogowsky’s quirky approach to getting his name known? Clearly. And now more people know his name and are smiling at his contagious enthusiasm for making it in a business where so few do. It’s this kind of determination that makes me think we’ll be seeing more of him and that gives me confidence in the power of the web as an instrument that all career-minded comics should wield without inhibition. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take it from Rogowsky, the man who crowd-sourced $101 for a yummy bouquet of forget me not. READ MORE
Every group of four male friends thinks they’re hilarious. It’s scientific fact — as sure as the drunken conversation where that same group assigns each other character roles from Entourage. (“Ok, if I’m Turtle, you’re definitely Drama.”) Nine times out of ten, the Johnny Drama identification is a whole lot more accurate than the group’s proclamation of comic genius. But one time out of ten, the friends are actually funny and The Boo Ya Pictures Show is that time.
Created by real-life buds Ryan Coopersmith, Adam Sand, Ryan Prizant, Dan Handelman, Charles Muzard, Andrew Cohen and Harris Ellison, the Boo Ya sketch formula is one part Lonely Island and two parts Adam Sandler’s golden age — the kind of unfettered goofiness YouTube was made to house and Hollywood often struggles to get right. READ MORE
As Americans, we’re obsessed with two things: Celebrities and a good old-fashioned roll in the hay with our best guy or gal. We also like Twitter and comedians which, admittedly, has a lot more to do with this week’s featured series—Conversations With A Twitter Feed (CWATF).
Created by tech startup dude turned web comedy innovator Alex Mann, Conversations is more than an Internet series, it’s a mini-movement with which top comedians all over New York are familiar. The kind of thing that’s great now but will be monumental (and meta) in 5 years when all of the people on Mann’s show have Twitter feeds so large and influential that a new crop of young talent is having conversations with those Twitter feeds and the show is produced by someone other than Mann (he’ll be too famous), and so on and so on, until we live in a post-Twitter society and the show just consists of a hologram of the Grand Canyon projected by a lonely robot ironically named A. Mann.
Is Alex prepared for a robot to run his show? Maybe. We didn’t really discuss it. Plenty of other things were covered though, so read on. READ MORE
My writing an article in support of Huffin’ It will almost certainly prompt a nervous call from my mother where she’ll ask if I’m on drugs and, after that — a furious call from dad where he’ll question why I’ve made the career choices I have. He’ll also breathe heavily and shout concerned advice about how I need to go back to finance. Raw, insane, a little frightening, and righteously hilarious (I feel like a surfer saying that), Huffin’ It is the troubled but cool kid in your eighth grade class distilled into web series form.
Created by and starring Holden McNeely and Henry Zebrowski, written by McNeely, Zebrowski, and Ed Larson, directed by the very busy Adam Wirtz (he’s done Kicking Dan Out, Compulsive Love, Jared Posts A Personal), and airing on the venerable YouTube comedy factory, My Damn Channel, Huffin’ It is probably the most alternative of any series we’ve covered in this column. Kudos to the creators for being so sick and the financiers for allowing it. READ MORE
He’s baaaack. Alex Anfanger, the wide-eyed good guy who first found a special place in our Internet hearts with last year’s smash hit series, Next Time on Lonny, is at it again. This time, Anfanger’s taking on the role of a perpetually hopeful romantic in Compulsive Love, award-winning indie director Kevan Tucker’s bold ode to the Rom-Com genre — it’s the clearest indication yet of what everyone’s waiting for web entertainment to become.
An eight-installment arc that follows the romantic travails of indiscriminately smitten protagonist Aaron, Compulsive Love is 50 minutes of content away from a successful nationwide theatrical release. Expertly written (thanks to playwright Adam Szymkowicz), edited (tip of the hat to Tim O’Neill), produced (O’Neill and Aaron Edell have done this before), and shot (looking at you, Will Boisture) its creators’ commitment to story and character development spans far beyond web and TV conventions and offers an unflinching look at comedy that’s all at once edgy, sweet, and cartoonish, without ever succumbing to the unbearable safeness that dooms most of the genre’s efforts. READ MORE
No money. Dearth of bite-size, 1-3-minute ideas. Limited production experience.
There are plenty of reasons not to turn the web series idea you’ve got from imagination figment to Internet reality, but not a single one of them is valid. Web video is a playground — a limitless expanse for anyone who dares to take a risk. Sure, that lack of definition makes the space scary, but it also makes it wide open to new talent. Just ask Nick Ciaverella, co-creator and star of Jared Posts A Personal. Together with co-creators and stars, Tim Dean and Jared Warner, and director Adam Wirtz, Ciaverella plunged into the murky waters of self-produced, shoestring web comedy and has emerged laying claim to one of the funniest series of 2013. Nick and his team are talented, sure, but they’re brave and that’s what separates them from the legions of good idea hoarders we’ll never meet. READ MORE
We’ve all been at that party, the one a friend drags you to on a night you’d planned to stay in, guzzle OJ right out of the carton, and re-watch The Sopranos for the fourth time. You don’t know a soul and, though he’s got the best intentions, your pal won’t really help you integrate. A quick introduction or two when you first get there, maybe, but, within minutes, you’ll be left alone and forced to decide whether you’ll go out on a limb and start conversation with a stranger who could hate you, or stay safe and fade into uninvited guest oblivion. Talking to someone might be cool, but what would you say? It’s a hard call, and one that I bet the pioneers behind Long Haired Businessmen (LHB) would have no trouble making. If their ability to forge inroads into unfamiliar comedic territory is any indication of their fearlessness, George Kareman, Pat O'Brien, and Ben Wietmarschen might take off their shirts and say something like “I know our nipples are bigger than normal, but are they side show big…and would you mind licking them?” Created by and starring Kareman, O'Brien, and Wietmarschen, shot by Tom Levin, and brought to life by the inimitable stylings of Hana El Assad, Long Haired Businessmen is a lesson in middle fingering norms and jumping in with both feet. READ MORE
From the time we’re itty bitty small, we’re told to reach for the stars. “Impossible is nothing,” various faceless teachers assure. “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” These sentiments may hold true in some facets of life, but they’re certainly not applicable in the merciless world of web video, no, no. In this space, the heroes are those content producers who are acutely aware of their concept and cost limitations, the ones who focus on all the stuff they definitely can’t do before focusing on what they can. The quicker you establish a realistic project scale housed in a comedic wheelhouse with which you’re intimately familiar, the more likely it is that your content will be feasible, authentic, and funny.
My Damn Channel’s Sing-A-Gram — created and directed by Kristopher Knight, produced by Lou Gruber, shot by Nolan Maloney, and starring the queen of sardonic bubbliness, Mamrie Hart — does a great job of hitting its mark precisely because its producers had a clear sense of vision and their own capabilities before they ever thought about letting the cameras roll. READ MORE
Weed humor and Seth Rogen are not inextricably linked after all, and High Maintenance is proof.
Created and written by husband and wife team Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, executive produced by them and Sinclair’s manager, Russell Gregory, and brought to life by a stellar cast and crew, High Maintenance follows a cycling weed man as he makes his deliveries to different New Yorkers in their native habitats. Nuanced in its voyeurism and deft in its subtle comedic breaks, this is more than a funny show. It’s honest and true, unapologetically and consistently straight with no regard for Internet video conventions or goofy stoner genre norms. One might even call it “high art” (sorry, I had to).
Ben, Katja, and Russell were kind enough to give me the scoop on how they brought these wonderful little nugs to life (I know I’m awful). READ MORE
301. Sometimes 302. These are the points at which YouTube videos’ viewcount meter stalls as it verifies the authenticity of looks above that number. For the site, the process is nothing more than a precaution, an anti-fraud activity conducted by the overseer of a marketplace in which seconds watched directly affects dollars made. For content creators, it’s the point at which our hearts race fastest in anticipation of how many views will be registered when the verification process is complete and the count finally updates. Many feel that number, and the one that settles out over the next 3-7 days, is the final verdict in the court of Internet law — the one undeniable web signifier of video success or failure. Conner O'Malley and Mark Colomb don’t think about it that way at all. They’re in the web video game to have fun, learn, and make comedy that they think is funny. If their recent Fleetwood Mac Men sketch is any indication, the duo may be on to something pretty fantastic, 2,200 views aside. READ MORE
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