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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

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This Week in Web Videos: 'The Amazing Gayl Pile'

Amazing-Gayle-PileCasting ain’t easy, but it’s necessary: wise words spoken by…no one in particular, but felt deep down in the heart cockles of everyone who’s ever produced any piece of performance art. Strong writing is nothing without human vessels to bring those words to life. This is especially true in faux-reality content that lives and dies on characters who must inhabit a world much closer to the messiness of actual life than the delicately crafted chaos in most TV and film. When creators need real, they usually mine the improv set. Few have the cojones to stake their project’s success on a bunch of randos solicited on Craigslist, but The Amazing Gayl Pile creators Morgan Waters (Gayl Pile) and Brooks Gray are cut from a different cloth.

What are your comedy backgrounds?

Morgan: My start was making stupid videos with my video camera with my parents and then learning how to edit, learning what cuts to make and what music you could add to make it funny.

How old were you when you started doing that?

Morgan: I guess I was about 12. I think I did a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers spoof called Mighty Moron Power Rangers. Pretty advanced level of satire for a 12-year-old.

And you taught yourself to edit?

Morgan: Back then, it was editing using two VCRs so I taught myself.

Brooks: I guess I have a similar story, when I was in high school, any chance I could get to get my hands on a video camera, I took. It was basically turn every video that I was assigned into a comedy video and basically kept that going to university and met some like-minded buddies. They were majoring in film and I was a history major but I learned about everything by helping them out with their projects because I just naturally gravitated towards that. Just making videos and using those two VCRs to edit.

Morgan: And Brooks, you would do prank phone calls to religious call-in shows and mess with them.

Brooks: Yes, I am not too proud of that chapter in my life. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'K&A'

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I’m supposed to write things that are at least marginally insightful about the world of web video. That’s part of the whole “column” deal, you see, because insights qualify my words as a “review” and not just a verbal fire hydrant of fandom. While I have plenty of professional things to say about K&A — created by Katie Shannon and Katie Thompson and starring Audrey Claire and Ashley Elmi — like how its leads are perfectly paired improv dynamos, how it looks better than most indie films with 50 times the budget and is rife with cool and fresh storytelling accents that help us segue from act to act, the thought I most want to convey is one of a rabid, lunatic supporter of one of the most human, laugh-out-loud smart series I’ve profiled to date. K&A is the kind of project that gets audiences hooked on comedy.

How did you get your starts in comedy?

Ashley: I got my start when I was withdrawing from UMass Amherst in 2009 and I didn’t know what to do, so I just decided to crash on my sister’s couch in the north side of Boston. I thought it was the perfect place for me to be at that time. Then she told me that Improv Asylum was just down the street from us so I did one of those classic things where I asked them if I could sweep the floors or hand out flyers to work there and no one responded. Then, I found an ad for a film intern there so I got that position and got my foot in the door that way. Being an intern or employee means you get to take the improv classes for free, so basically since 2010 I started taking the classes and then did the house teams which is a way for people who haven’t performed before to get their feet wet.

Audrey: I went down to Boston and auditioned for a new media project that was made by one of the creators of K&A, Katie Thompson. It was for an ensemble web comedy series and they ended up casting me as this sort of needy best friend character. I was ecstatic, I didn’t have a lot of experience doing comedy or film but they just thought that I was a good fit for the role. I shot that with Katie over two weeks and it was the most fun I’d ever had. I got to improvise on camera, which was something I had never done before, coming from a dramatic acting background. Katie and I just clicked and that series went the way of the buffalo unfortunately, but then she came back to me a year later and said, “I’ve got this idea for a comedy about two females based on my life and I want you to be in it.” So that’s sort of how it happened for me. I do web sketch comedy with close friends who are all in film production. We do really weird things, from people eating dog poop to Shia LaBeouf impressions, to really bad stuff that’s sort of creatively inspired me throughout the years. K&A is by far my favorite project I’ve done. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'With Friends Like These'

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.11.48 AMThe digital age of entertainment is no longer “on the horizon” or “about to break” or whatever other stupid phrase any number of automaton trends bloggers vomited out over the past three years. It’s here. Ask Reed Hastings, ask Kevin Spacey, ask Jeff Bezos, and… Mr. Hulu. We no longer watch TV. We watch content. That means two important things. First, the term “web series” is useless. Second, we, as independent producers, have to start upping our game. Created by and starring Christopher Graves and TJ Del Reno, With Friends Like These is an interesting foray into the world of intricately narrative, highly produced content built for a new generation of video.

What’s your comedy background?

Christopher: I’ve been a commercial and voice actor for a couple of years and I started doing comedy with TJ Del Reno, a buddy who went through all of the training at UCB with me. We had done a little bit of writing here and there but decided that we really wanted to work on a project together and play off of our crazy opposite lives. So we kind of made so jokes about that and that eventually lead to this project.

What were your specific inspirations for the series?

Christopher: We would go out to places and his outlook is kind of a very unpolished, goof ball kind of, and I come from a background that’s a bit more prepared, a bit more PC. So we would run into a lot of different experiences like going to the movies together and almost getting into fights with someone because he’s mad that they’re talking too loud or they brought food in or something like that. So we thought that it would be a funny dynamic to write something like that that was a little deeper than just a two or three minute sketch. Like he grew up as a scrappy mall rat and I’m from Texas and grew up with a completely different background, so we decided to throw those two together. Sometimes I’m the hero of an episode, but then sometimes his goofiness randomly saves the day. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'The Residuals '

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 12.31.21 PMEvery morning, New York City's streets are filled with millions of people, walking toward work and hoping beyond hope that their next step will somehow take them a little closer to realizing their dreams. That’s until about 9:30. At 1, the streets are filled with actors on their way to commercial auditions. You see, these folks are professionals at re-sculpting their dreams so that they feature roles in commercials for toothpaste or hot wings or wireless companies looking for a spokesperson who’s a "cross between Jonah Hill and Rachel McAdams." They’re not just performers, they’re warriors; and their day-to-day travails are perfectly captured in The Residuals – a subtly brilliant insider’s series created by and starring husband and wife team, Gillian Pensavalle and Michael Paul Smith.

How did you guys get started in comedy?

Mike: I first did improv in high school and then, right out of high school, started working with the group that would eventually become Basement View Improv and our focus was on live shows. We ended up doing shows at Caroline’s and Gotham. The guy who plays my roommate in this series—Nick—was one of the original five members who founded the group. Eventually, everyone decided to go focus on their separate projects, which for me was doing more video stuff. Gillian and I met doing a web series for the now defunct website Black 20 Network.

Gillian: I didn’t really do a lot of improv until after college. In school I was doing plays and stuff like that, but I guess my first comedic experience was a lot of sketch comedy and the web series, things like that.

What was the inspiration for this series?

Mike: This series came out of real experiences, because Gillian and I have been on a ton of auditions for commercials and had a lot of uniquely bizarre, awkward encounters in the waiting room and the audition room. It’s been a few years doing that now and you really see the whole spectrum of the good and the bad and as a writer I thought there was room for that as a series, so we used that as a jumping off point. I originally wanted it to be treatments I would write and then we would film it Curb Your Enthusiasm-style, but then my co-producer and editor told me that would be a total editing nightmare and Curb Your Enthusiasm has the advantage of people dedicated to over dubbing the sound and I’m sure a whole team of editors working to make sure there’s continuity. So we went into a much more scripted process after that. READ MORE

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This Week In Web Videos: 'Are You Better Than Don Draper?'


Most good comedy is thought provoking at its core but few creators are better at walking the line between hilarity and appealingly erudite social commentary than UCB stalwart Zack Phillips. This week, in honor of Mad Men, a series that has already inspired countless sketches (some good, many not), we present one of the good ‘uns. It’s fast, it’s smart, and it may even make you think twice about criticizing folks who smoke in elevators, drink in the office, and have sex in the middle of Ted talks. Does that happen on Mad Men? I haven’t watched in like 3 years, but the sketch…the sketch is good.

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