Person is born. Person is made somewhat insecure by the travails of daily life and, for some reason, feels a little better when people laugh at him. Person decides to become a comedian. That’s the first half of the life cycle for 99 percent of people who decide to pursue a career in comedy. The other half is the part that determines whether those people will die cold and alone (i.e. be successful) or whether they’ll go on to be happy (oof, tough break). To achieve success, a person needs to bare the deepest excesses of his soul, turning the painful into the true and the true into funny. Being insecure and wanting people to laugh at you gets you up to the mic, but what you say and how that’s received all depends on how far you’re willing to dig and how personal you’re willing to get once you start speaking into it. How To NOT Win Back Your Ex creator Dan Siegel knows that and along with Sam Jacobson, Sam Sparks, Caralyn Stone, Max Goldberg, and a host of other very talented folks, he’s put together one hell of a web series. READ MORE
So, the shoot’s over. Everyone had a great time high-fiving and doing impressions and eating the single bag of Doritos you brought as crafty. Then you ask the question of all questions, the one you’ve been carrying deep inside since the shoot started: “Cool, so when do we think it’s going to be edited?” And you don’t mean like a rough edit, you mean like completely done and perfect. So you can plaster it all over Facebook and tweet it and email it to mom and dad in a desperate attempt to convince them that you’re “doing stuff.” No matter what the response to your transparent little question, you know deep down, it’s going to be a while. You don’t really get the finer points of why, but buzzwords like “color correcting,” and “mixing,” and “footage” give you some, sad idea. Unless. Unless unless unless your production is topical. In that case, it needs to be out quick in order to have any sort of impact whatsoever. And that, of course, means it will absolutely be out quick (because we’re all sniveling view chasers). But speed is all the more impressive when that quick, timely thing is also a good thing. And, as we all know, fast, good things are an essential component of viral success. Take this mash-up parody of the popular Lana Del Ray song “Summertime Sadness” written by Beth Crosby and Marc Warzecha, directed by Andrew Putschoegl, and perfectly engineered to ride the wave of Breaking Bad Sadness!
Also this, similarly opportunistic (in a good way!) addition to the deluge of pre-finale Breaking Bad-related stuff, called People Freaking Out About the End of Breaking Bad from sketch group The Kids Table. READ MORE
We’re all familiar with those bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets and email signatures that say “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” And we all think they’re awful, as we should. But one saying we’re not so used to seeing — one that should be plastered and magnetized and emailed all over this ever-loving planet is: “To play a true idiot, it takes a genius.” Seriously. Because it’s very hard to act like a convincing dimwit, or clueless egomaniac without sacrificing authenticity or a special kind of audience affection reserved for “losers.” Will Ferrell’s mastered it. So has Danny McBride. And if Mike Camerlengo’s performance in his painfully low-budget, yet completely hilarious web series Unsolicited is any indication of what he’s got in store, one more brilliant idiot may bring us one step closer to popularizing a saying that actually means something. I recently spoke to Camerlengo about the series. READ MORE
George Kareman. George Kareman. George Kareman. George Kareman. Tired of reading George Kareman’s name yet? Well then maybe you shouldn’t look at the credits in any TV show or movie or awesome web video ever again because I’m predicting this lad will have his name in bold quite a bit in the months to come, especially after releasing gems like Long Haired Businessmen earlier this year and now splashing onto the scene with Japanese Commercial Reel which is one of the funniest, most creative, brilliantly executed production-intensive projects I’ve seen in a while. Kareman’s small but powerful body of web work has proven — I think undeniably — that he’s got the goods: acting chops, writing skills, and a knack for tonal consistency that would make Vince Gilligan cream his pants. If Vince Gilligan were still able to be aroused. (It’s explained in the last episode). Kareman has always been a proponent of the “just make it” school, courageous enough to spend time and effort on any idea he’s passionate about. He does it for the love, as any true artist would and he takes his time. Take one look at his latest project and you’ll realize, that ain’t a bad model to follow. George Kareman. Get used to reading it!
There are lots of web series on the Internet. Few will capture your office mates’ attention and have them laughing out loud in under 30 seconds. This one will (assuming your office mates don’t completely suck). That’s because creator and star Mike Cullen has artfully mastered the ways of deadpan alt-comedy, the kind of stuff that makes me love Will Ferrell’s “Worst Boss Ever” (sorry about the vintage video) sketch more than my own parents and strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who watches anything on network television. Prepare to be tickled, and a little bit upset.
Tell me about your comedy background.
I’m from the south side of Chicago and I’ve been doing improv since I was a sophomore in high school. I started making YouTube videos by the time I was a junior. By now, we have 80 videos on YouTube, I’d say. I took 2 years off from doing improv and then I did the Comedy Studies program at Second City when I was a junior in college, and from there I joined Columbia College’s improv team.
How did this series come about?
I was looking to do something on a bigger scale. Some teachers from Columbia were also willing to help me. I wanted to come up with the simplest idea possible for a web series and I thought using a workplace setting would be something people were already familiar with and I just wanted to make them very, very short. I also really had the desire to play a character that was the most unlikeable and despicable person. Just so over the top. The people I liked in comedy always played characters like that. READ MORE
It’s Wednesday, ya’ll, and that means you’re in for a web video treat! Actually, it means you’re in for a bunch of them, assuming you haven’t perused the recently launched YouTube comedy factory, Jash. If you have, you know why I’m so excited. Oh baby, it’s good. Featuring original content from some of the biggest names in comedy (Sarah Silverman, Tim and Eric, Reggie Watts!), it’s what all web video should be. And with only 25,000 subscribers and 46 videos to date, you’ve got the chance to jump in on the ground floor. I suggest getting your feet wet with Paul Scheer’s The ArScheerio Paul Show (recently covered by Sir Bradford Evans here) where a flat-topped Scheer and his A-list celebrity pals conduct eerily committed re-enacted interviews from the Arsenio Hall Show. The best might be this one, featuring Nick Kroll as Jean Claude Van Damme and Kevin Smith as Van Damme’s wife, Gladys. It’s a classic example of the type of brilliant insanity the Internet is custom-made to serve up in the most delectable ways. Please watch this. I promise you’ll thank me. Show me your fat tits! Not you, I’m quoting — ah well, you’ll get it after watching.
“Keep it simple.” Hear it once, it’s one person’s opinion. Hear it twice, maybe that second person’s friends with the first guy who said it. Hear it 100 times, it’s good, true advice that you need to follow. In the web space, location and cast-light projects are the ones that survive the test of time because they’re the easiest to make. And if you’re like Two Jasperjohns creator Vinny Lopez, that consistent artistic outlet and experimentation space is one that churns out some pretty fantastic content no matter what the view count. So it’d be a shame to have to plug up the idea spigot due to lack of scratch. We all want to be fancy and unique. We all want to make a splash, but the sooner we realize that bare bones funny is the key to Internet chic, the sooner we’ll all become fabulously successful…right?
How’d you get your start in comedy?
I write promos for VH1. I don’t come from performance, I've always come from writing. Less from sketch. I’m a huge sketch nerd but I never went that route. Even with this. I could’ve done sketch stuff but I think I’m a completionisht. I like to follow stories, I like to follow characters. This came out of wanting to follow these two brothers instead of doing something sketch-wise. READ MORE
Everyone says “Write what you know.” Well, not literally everyone but a lot of people do — people who give advice on writing. And that trick of the trade can seem daunting because most of us don’t know about explosions or steamy love affairs or astronauts exploding on their cheating spouses for having steamy love affairs…in space. No, most of us are most familiar with more normal stuff like family or school or work and, because none of those buckets seem exciting in and of themselves, our first reaction is often to buck the pro’s wisdom and write something that we think is cool and will set us apart. That’s almost always a huge mistake. Either we don’t get past page 4 because we realize we’ve got no idea how a submarine works and all our expert shipman are referring to the sub gadgets as “that knob” or we do finish the piece and it feels equally unauthentic.
Whether we think so or not, the key to creating work that will mean something and, for our purposes, make people laugh is sticking to what we know best. Chances are that thing — no matter how mundane or “done” the larger theme is — will be well received because it’s highly relatable and rings true to a lot of people. Broad City co-creator Abbi Jacobson knows this full well, focusing her new web series Annie and a Side of Fries on a very unique childhood experience couched within a larger, highly familiar topic — divorce. She’s writing what she knows. Not surprisingly, it works and is completely fascinating. READ MORE
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. READ MORE
Web series are different from TV shows for lots of reasons: They’re lower budget, they’re shorter, they’re not on TV. Unless you have a Roku or Apple TV or a smart TV something; then you can actually stream them on TV so I guess that part’s not completely accurate. Whatever, they’re definitely shorter and lower budget. What they are not is easier to get off the ground and keep in the public’s eye.
With scores of new web projects bombarding us on every social media channel each and every day, a season of good work isn’t enough to stay top of mind. No, the new model for web success has to be constant viewer engagement, and if creators want their shows to be remembered during the hiatus between season 1 and season 2, they have to be tweeting, Facebook fan paging and vlogging, yes vlogging, to keep interest and attention alive. READ MORE
All comedians say they want to collaborate with other funny people. We want everyone to think we’re super nice and easy going and we say things like “cool cool cool” before giving notes on any idea so as not to risk offending the person we’re giving notes to, and of course they won’t be offended because, you know, we said “cool” three times so we’re obviously very nice and diplomatic. But no matter how many “cools” we rattle off, no matter how many times we say we really work best in a group, there’s a small egomaniacal piece of every one of us that believes our ideas are the best and we’re the funniest and whoever we’re working with should really do what we want to do. Amy Rubin’s simply fucking fantastic series, Little Horribles shows us why we need to work on getting rid of, or at least suppressing, that tiny part of us. Because when we assemble a team of talented advisors and consultants and inspirations like the team behind this series (including Ilana Glazer, Issa Rae, John Milhiser, and a unique blend of MFA writing and UCB peeps), good things happen. Really good things. READ MORE
We’ve covered so many superb web contributions in the almost two years that this column has been running. 78 of them to be exact. And today, we return to the series that started all this silly web magic: Tiny Apartment. Sort of. We’re really returning to the creator/stars behind it: Jesse Cantrell, Mike O’Gorman, and Pat Driscoll — veritable titans in the Internet comedy realm, familiar faces on many a TV commercial and late-night variety show, and now, bonafide TV big wigs with the sale of a Comedy Central pilot we’re eagerly awaiting.
With so many TV successes, it wouldn’t be unfathomable to think they’d stop breaking their backs on producing their own, low-budget stuff and spend more time relaxing in the sunny poolside glow of…well, wherever, there’s a sunny poolside glow. But no. The Tiny Apartment trio is still playing for the love of the game, now hard at work on their latest passion project, stand alone sketch site Omelette Sunday.
Check out the first episode up top and the second below and let me say this: If you like Tiny Apartment, you’ll like The Shawshank Redemption, and if you like The Shawshank Redemption, you’ll LOVE Schindler’s List and if you love Schindler’s List, you’re really going to enjoy Omelette Sunday.
Here’s to Jesse, Mike, and Pat. You guys were my first. READ MORE
Last week, I got to live out a childhood dream and talk to Maria Bamford, a woman I watched on many a standup special as a wee lad. She makes me laugh now just as much as she did then and her new My Damn Channel series, Ask My Mom! has a lot to do with that. Maria was kind enough to talk with Splitsider about the series and, without further ado, I present a very talented individual who’s also as humble as they come.
Did you make these on spec, just kind of for fun?
Yes. Well for me it was fun, but Precision Productions + Post and the producer Joseph Arnao put all the money towards it so it was risky for him, but yeah we were just doing it for fun.
A lot of established comics like you are taking the web space seriously. Is the web becoming more of a viable TV alternative?
It’s empowering for all of us, we can all make our own shows now whenever we want. People are making thousands of shows a day all over the world, which is awesome. I’ve made a web series before in 2008, I did a 20 episode web series, The Maria Bamford Show and I did that and that was a really positive experience. It’s great because you don’t have to settle in a business meeting where you have to have bottled water and talk about why you can’t do things. It’s wonderful, but I’m sure there’s less money in it, it appears. READ MORE
If you were to click over to your Facebook tab right now and give your news feed a couple of hardy scrolls down, you’d likely find a smattering of announcements, invitations, and solicitations all coming from friends who’ve decided to give up the 9 to 5 in favor a life less ordinary. Great, good for them. That’s fantastic and cool. If they stick with it. Unfortunately, the allure of creating a smartphone app that tests water’s purity or starting the first ever social network for adventure-minded senior citizens wears off when these hopeful souls realize the hardest part of making it on your own is not writing a status update announcing you’ve decided to make it on your own. The same barriers hold true for the legions of hopeful comedians, littering the web with aspirations and never creating a single piece of tangible content. Good Cop Great Copcreators Matt Porter and Charlie Hankin are not among that all-too-familiar group.
Writing and producing almost 60 episodes (some of which they also star in), Porter and Hankin are not only wryly funny impresarios of short-form comedy, but they’re also hard working, dedicated, and original voices actually doing great things in a social-media-obsessed society where wannabes have a larger mouthpiece than ever before. With the help of cinematographer Ryan Nethery and a host of other series angels including comic Janine Ditullio and production designer Tara Perry, Good Cop Great Cop is a prime example of what that rare mix of talent and determination can create. READ MORE
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