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This Week In Web Videos: 'Todd Halloween'

Originality is as crucial as it is difficult to achieve. That's true of any pursuit, not just comedy. The thing is: if you're unoriginal in heart surgery or tax preparation or landscaping, it's not a bad thing. "This person gets it," your clients might say about you and, while you're not breaking new ground, you're…stalwart. But in the arts, innovation is key. Derivativeness is only tolerable in the smallest of doses, as a stepping stone for the non-creatives in your audience, a relatable touchpoint that level sets them before descending into maddening newness. Ben Seeder's short Todd Halloween, directed by Andy DeYoung, is decidedly in the "fuck touchpoints" camp. Many people will not understand why this is brilliant. For those who do, it's an inspiration to reach beyond the temptation to put a "twist" on what's familiar. It's a reminder that, in an industry full of strivers, the best way to be remembered is to blow the doors off "comfortable."

How did you get your start in comedy?

Ben Seeder: I’m originally from Chicago and I started performing at iO years ago when I was 19. I did a bunch of shows at iO and Annoyance and did the whole Second City conservatory program. I did a whole bunch of shows all over town. I moved to LA with a sketch partner of mine based off a show that we did. I’ve been here for about six years now. I went to DePaul University so I was lucky because I got to get a start at doing improv early because I was already there as opposed to having to wait until after college. I was in the thick of it.

And you were in We Bought a Zoo.

Yeah, that was great. I had shot a bunch of commercials while I was here and had been on hold for a couple of shows that didn’t really go anywhere so that was kind of a great boost of confidence to be picked by Cameron. He’s a great guy and I just learned so much from him being on set. He’s someone where I really lucked out on because he’s in that select group of directors like Apatow, Lorne Michaels, and Christopher Guest who get to call the shots a little bit more than a regular director would. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'The Middle Ages'


I made my first comedy video just over three years ago. Watching it again just now, a few things are apparent. Thing one: The script holds up. I wrote it in a UCB sketch 101 class and it still makes me laugh. Thing two (shitty sound) and three (my bad acting) make me cringe but I'm still really glad I did it and I'm really glad it's forever online. It started me down a path that's led to doing something I love: making more, gradually better videos, and watching it every once in a while reminds me of the transformative power of filming something you created.

This week's selection is an ode to that power and a celebration of new, talented filmmakers like Chelsea Catalanotto and Jesse Brenneman. In three years, they'll likely look back on Middle Ages, viewed just 172 times, and think "The sound's a little shoddy" and "The color's kind of blown out." Then they'll watch it again for the great idea, for the writing, for how fun it was to just do something they really wanted to do and they'll think "That was one of the ones that started it" and they'll be as proud as they should be.

Luke is a writer for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

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This Week In Web Videos: 'Roomsies'

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 5.48.17 PMWriting lines down in Final Draft does not a screenwriter make. That kind of writing requires training, an understanding of story structure, an ability to re-write until you want to curl up in a ball and go to law school like the rest of your friends (JK, Steve — I love you, dawg!) and then re-write some more. Jenny Donheiser and Meagan Kensil have respect for the process and have decided to devote their lives to it. Their goal isn’t just to “become writers,” it’s to become better and with this as a starting point, it’s safe to say they’ve got some very green, LSAT-free pastures ahead. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: B1G Ten Trash Talk


There's like one month a year when I don't feel like a total misfit: late July/early August. Hockey fans have forgotten all about the Cup, we're weeks and weeks past the NBA Finals, and Sunday afternoon football is a distant fleck. Sure, baseball's happening but, as long as you don't live across the street from Yankees Stadium or the Green Giant, few people seem to give a fly ball fuck and, if they do, they're comparatively quiet about it. This is my time. It's when I feel good about humanity, about our collective ability to discuss things other than balls being thrown for money. But bliss is fleeting and — come September — all my faith is bulldozed by chatter of fantasy leagues and who's team sucks and "Fuck you, dude, no fucking chance in hell this year!" and so on and so forth. Again, I'm reminded how little I fit in with a society that worships, WORSHIPS the physical achievements of people they'll never meet. Am I a downer? Maybe, but that realization doesn't make me any more attuned to our national obsession with sports. It doesn't make me feel any less out of place. What it does do is make me appreciate comedy from folks who seem to feel similarly perplexed.

I absolutely love Rita Chin's B1G Ten Trash Talk, not just because it appeals to my personal sense of otherness, but because it executes a simple premise in a properly reflective way, a way that makes me realize the intellectually elitist things I choose to care about — like school rankings and graduate programs — are as arbitrary as having a terrible day because a 22-year-old missed a slap shot. In a world of so many meaningless divisions, it sometimes takes pieces like Chin's to remind us that our most fervent opinions are all equally useless.

Luke is a writer for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

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This Week In Web Videos: The Comedy of Jay Weingarten

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Jay Weingarten is a weirdo and weirdos can’t work normal jobs. Instead, they’ve got two choices: get hugely famous or end up on the very fringes of society, forever banished to parents’ basements and midday video store liquidation sales. Jay has chosen the former and, lucky for him, he’s got star chops.

How’d you get your start in comedy?

I started about three years ago. I was a huge fan of comedy and was feeling kind of like I wasn’t really doing anything at the moment. I was a fan and then eventually went into doing my first open mic. At the time, I had a pretty awful job as a consultant.

Consultant? Was that the job you got after graduating?

Yeah it felt like I was living in a David Lynch movie because I was living in this beautiful area, the Oakland hills, living in this cabin, and it was beautiful but I just really hated this job. Everyone working there just seemed like all they cared about was money. Finally, I decided to move to LA because everyone I really liked and looked up to in comedy was in LA. I was listening to a lot of Comedy Death Ray, before it became Comedy Bang! Bang!, and they were all out in LA. So I decided to finally move out and do some open mics. Then I got into hosting some open mics at this place called Echo’s Under Sunset and then doing this show called Holy Fuck that was really popular, but the people running it quit and then passed the show onto me and my friend. That was a really big step for me to have a show pretty regularly and have triple digit crowds in these electric rooms, it was so much fun. I’m doing my first tour in a couple of months; I’m really excited about that. Driving from LA to Chicago with some of my good friends, stopping in 10-12 cities in the middle of the country, it’s going to be really cool. READ MORE

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This Week in Web Videos: A Model Young Republican


People who go to Harvard are very funny. Always. 100 percent of the time. Whether they mean to be (Lampoon) or not (pastels most of the Western world struggles to classify). Tyler Hall means to be, but he has a great appreciation for those who don't, folks who put together GOP propaganda pieces like this. And like any good Harvard comedy man, he knows how to do two things: 1. recognize the delightfully absurd bits of everyday life and 2. turn those into a really incisive piece that checks both the entertainment and social commentary boxes. He also probably knows how to make a group of people aware that he went to Harvard in super casual ways like: "The weather's much better here than it is in Cambridge, Mass" and "I never liked the color crimson until college, at Harvard" and "Just so ya'll idiots know, I went to Harvard. Cool?" Our editorial team is still investigating the last one. All Harvard jokes aside, this is one of the funniest things I've seen on the Internet in a while. Just goes to show you that, when it comes to producing quality comedy, there really is no substitute for a smarty pants.

Luke is a writer for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

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This Week in Web Videos: Why Starbucks Spells Your Name Wrong


Since yesterday afternoon, the Internet has been alight with Paul Gale. Every viral video round up you can find features the YouTube impresario's newest joint: "Why Starbucks Spells Your Name Wrong," and, TBH, all the hype kind of made me want to ignore it. Not because it's not good, but because I like the idea that this column is largely a mouthpiece for comedy underdogs and Gale — still a bootstrapper in the broad, Hollywood sense — is no stranger to million+ view videos or subscriber counts in the tens of thousands. Then I remembered the Paul Gale of (fairly recent) days gone by, the Paul Gale fresh out of Brandeis and eager to help on any comedy set that would have him (including some of mine). He never stopped asking questions. He never stopped working. He never stopped wanting to get better. His video is the latest fruit of that tenacity and an inspiration to anyone brave enough to make plans and follow them.

This column is still for the strivers, and Gale is no exception. He's just one step closer to becoming king of the underdogs.

 

Luke is a writer for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

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This Week in Web Videos: 'Business Work'

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 12.21.27 PMIt's a tale as old as time. Irish boy comes to America, chasing a dream of becoming a forensic pathologist. Boy realizes that being a forensic pathologist is terrifying. Boy becomes involved with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Boy discovers that he's got a new dream: being a comedian. Boy who prepared all his life for an entirely different career path finds out he's really gifted at being funny. Boy creates smart web series. Boy does interview with Splitsider — the first step on his path to becoming a household name. How many times have we heard that one, right? Oh. No times? No times. Well, now we've heard it once, and the Irish boy's name is John Purcell.

How’d you get into comedy?

I got into it only since I moved to America, which was about three years ago. I’m originally from Ireland and moved here to go to grad school. I signed up for UCB classes to meet people and have some kind of a social circle. I ended up really enjoying it and that kind of took over my life, like it does for a lot of people. I did improv and then was able to take sketch classes and have been lucky enough to have a show run at the Theatre and be on one of the improv house teams and have done comedy through that, but before that I really had no experience [in comedy]. In Ireland, I was actually involved in music and then thought maybe I’d be a forensic pathologist — that’s what I ended up going to grad school for — and now it seems like this is what I’m doing. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'Fruiting 101'


I'm not one of those people that thinks sex is inherently funny. In fact, I hate those people. Sex, comedically speaking, is easy. It gets a laugh in the most low-brow of rooms, amongst folks who couldn't give a goddamn about the craft but love hearing the word "pussy" repeated ad infinitum. To make sex truly funny, the bar should be set higher. In order for sex jokes to hit they need to be innovative, new, driven by some goal other than shock. Inspired by Auntie Angel's unintentionally hilarious guide to putting a grapefruit on your man's dick, Lily Du and David Craig created a pitch perfect Internet parody called Fruiting 101. Its intentionally reaching treatment of penis jokes as a comedy cure-all is what makes it meta and great, and its very modest production value should be an inspiration to every comedy creator reading this column. All you need is a funny idea and a camera! And, depending on your situation, some hollowed out foods to put on your man's schlong.

Luke is a writer for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

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This Week In Web Videos: 'Don't Walk '

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 5.37.26 PMI’m not going to say Don’t Walk is the Boyhood of web series, because that would be pretty pretentious. What I will say, in the interest of coming across as a bit less of a shithead, is Don’t Walk’s meandering narrative, inspired by one consummately relatable experience — waiting for a walk signal at a crosswalk — stems from a core thought just as shapeless as “boyhood” with a little b. But creator Kemp Baldwin and producers Baldwin, Gates Bradley, and Mike Laskasky were tenacious enough to follow the murky lead of inspiration, turning a thought unremarkable into a project memorable. It also helps that Max Silvestri was down. I sound like a fucking shithead. READ MORE

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The 5 Best New Web Videos/Series You Almost Definitely Haven't Seen

videosyouhaventseenWe did it once. You guys seemed to dig it. So now, we're doing it again. Ladies and gentleman, Splitsider presents: The 5 Best New Web Videos/Series You Almost Definitely Haven't Seen, Part II. We clicked through pages and pages of Gmails to distill five of the funniest "This Week In Web Videos" submissions and then we grouped them all together here, in a neat little link we hope you'll post absolutely everywhere. Enjoy and, again, post it around, please. That's how this whole thing works. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: Matt Evans

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Matt Evans faked me out. Co-creator of NickMom’s Other Mothered, Evans and his wife Christine Walters are UCB alums, talented New York City entertainment professionals, and known brains behind some of Matt’s most hilariously jarring characters, like news reporter Gary Vosot and Bachelor hopeful Glen Spidge. I know that now, and I knew it when a friend shared what he thought to be a news clip wherein a reporter (Vosot) tries to take an upskirt photo of a female passerby on a city street. I knew it, but Matt’s brand of hyper-real comedy is so convincing, so spot-on in its utter lack of flash, that I — for more than a split second — thought Vosot was real. Desensitized by a digital world pervaded by actors who are pretty great at faking it, I think Evans oeuvre is pretty damned impressive.

How did you get your start?

I moved down to NYC in 2004 after working in TV news for almost 6 years. When I came down here I started taking classes at UCB right away. I went through their whole system and that was awesome and I had a lot of great teachers there. I ended up doing a one-person show there right when I came down here that was a great experience. I ended up taking classes as Magnet and did sketch classes at UCB too. So I basically came down and got involved in both of those theaters pretty quickly and I was also doing monologues at different comedy clubs. Some of those monologues turned into some of the videos that you see now. Those two theaters have been huge for me; I met my wife at UCB.

Where were you working in TV news before you moved to NYC?

When I graduated college, I worked in Massachusetts for three years at a cable station and then I moved to Rhode Island and worked as a cameraman at the ABC affiliate there.

And that obviously inspired Gary Vosot.

Definitely. When I came down here one of the first videos I did with that character was one where it showed what it was like at a live shot and it was definitely insider-y. I wanted to do something real that people on the inside would get. That stuff all came from working in the industry. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'Compliments'


Banter is such a polarizing comedic art. To appreciate the humor in unremarkable conversation is to know the nuances of human interaction, both in their audible forms — rich, often conflict-ridden dialogue — and in those manifestations which must be seen to be truly appreciated — the facial ticks, the pregnant pauses that adorn acted words with that special kind of hyper-realism that makes one half of the population crack up, and the other squirm out of its skin. As readers of this column know, I fall squarely in the camp of "Banter Lovers" and the reason why I go out of my goddamned gourd for a well-executed banter piece is this: it demands active and intimate audience engagement. People have to pay close attention to really bathe in its cool waters of subtle brilliance. Those who don't have the interest (or ability) to do so instantly identify themselves as people with whom Banter Lovers could never be stuck on a desert island. And isn't identifying those kinds of people what self preservation and, really, life is all about? Yes, and "Take Care, Brush Your Hair" comedy duo Max Azulay and Alex Mullen and guest actress Sammi Cains are folks with whom I wouldn't mind sharing a (very plush) desert island (where we all had our own rooms so we could get away from each other for "me" time, because you need "me" time, even when united in Banter Love). Compliments is just one example of why.

Luke is a writer for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

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This Week in Web Videos: 'The Comedy Nut '

a0997124563_10Created by Gregg Zehentner (The Nut, himself), Pat Stango, and Clayton Gumbert, The Comedy Nut doesn’t seem to be much of a novel undertaking at first glance. A weird interviewer makes straight men feel sort of uncomfortable — that’s our premise, and it’s one that everyone from Martin Short's Jiminy Glick to Zach Galifianikis’s morose cynic in Between Two Ferns are very familiar with. What makes The Comedy Nut unique is a subtle lampooning of the trope we’ve all come to know and love. READ MORE