Welcome to another episode of the podcast. Today we have Alex Clark with us, game creator and YouTuber. Alex, tell us where you’re from, what you do, and for what people might know you from.
Hey, I’m in Los Angeles, in the United States, and in addition to making that card game we were just talking about, I’m also a big YouTuber. I’ve got four million subscribers on there and I’ve been growing that for the past 10 years.
I noticed that you started your channel in 2009. Can you tell me a little bit about it? Well, actually, I noticed you started your channel on the second of December. Was it?
Yeah, that sounds right.
You uploaded five days later. Is there any reason why there was that five-day gap?
Uh, I wish I could remember. These are going to be some detailed questions I can tell already.
I usually notice when I upload things or when I start something, I already have something prepped or sometimes when I start something, it’s like: “Oh, I want to start!” And then you start it, and then you realize you don’t actually have content to upload. So I just kind of wanted to go back to when you first started, how it went through your mind.
Yeah, I’m of the mindset like, just get it. Just start doing it. The first time you do something, it’s going to be awful. So who cares if you’re ready or not? Just give yourself a deadline, hit the deadline and then learn from it, improve the next time around.
Nice. So probably that’s what I have. So how was it when you first started in 2009? Obviously with completely different… How was it back then?
Oh, it was the glory days. I feel like an old man, but there was no one online like you could. It was a lot easier to stick out and the market wasn’t as competitive, so it was easier to get ahead. That said, I did not get ahead quickly at all and I wish I knew everything I knew now because I would have skyrocketed right away if I knew now what I knew, if I knew then what I know now.
What do you know? Obviously will probably cover things a bit later, but just a couple of bullet points?
You know, just I’m better at producing content. I know to make stuff more relatable and talk specifically to the person on the other side of the screen. I’m better at editing and animating. I’m just better overall at everything.
And when you first started, what was the process like? Where were you mindset wise? Like also, were you just starting out? Did you come from a career? What was happening in your life?
So, I’m in addition to making that game and being a YouTuber, I’m also a comedian, which is why I started the YouTube channel. I was performing a lot at like small corporate events and little clubs. And I was like: “There has to be a way to reach a wider audience.” And so I started posting videos as a way for when people saw me, they’d be like: “This is great, but we can only see it right now. How can we see you every day?” And so I posted videos as a way to stay in touch with the audience every day of the year.
And was it just stand up comedy in clubs and kind of all we can imagine now if you see a Netflix special or…but smaller?
Say that again?
Was it like what we see now with the Netflix specials, like people on stage, just talking, except the size of the audience would be probably smaller? Was it kind of like that?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what it was. I also came from a circus background. I also did like some juggling acts and stuff too, because when you’re starting out, that pays way better than being a comedian. So, I did a bit of that as well.
But so OK, so let’s kind of go way back because there’s a big background before you started YouTube, which I think would be probably necessary to know to see the terms and yet twists that you had during your YouTube career, being a comedian and animator kind of probably comes from somewhere. So where did you study? How did you start your journey or…?
Fair. I got picked on like crazy in school and so I was always a loner. And then…
Where was school? Was that in L.A. or…?
No, it was in Massachusetts. There’s a lot more bullies. So I was there. And then, I used to watch Aladdin and I loved Robin Williams. So it was like: “Oh, he’s really funny. I want to get into stand up.” And then around the same time I found out that there was a performing arts school near me. And so, I actually made a couple of videos about that. So, I got into the art school, which was very exciting. And then I found out that one of my English teachers had been a comedic juggler. And, I was like: “Oh, you got to teach a juggling class so I can learn to do that, if that’s what you do to make it.” And so, that’s where the juggling came in.
How old were you when you started?
So you learned juggling in high school?
When you enter an arts program like that, how does your day look like? Is it all arts or do you also study math and…?
So, that school was run by hippies, which was a blessing because we didn’t have grades. Instead we had…
How did that work with the government?
So, they had a written evaluation. So, at the end of every semester, you would get like a three paragraph summary of how you were doing in that class. And then…Yeah, so that’s how that worked. And then the day was… It was a longer day. So the first six or seven hours of the day was just regular academics. And then the last two hours of the day was an extended period performing arts class.
So…what kind of things were you doing throughout the week in those extra things, obviously juggling, but can you give a few more examples?
A lot of improv theater. I remember we also, uh, we have this thing called Piedea, where you could in between first and second semester, you had two weeks to create your own curriculum. And so, a friend of mine took that and submitted a proposal to make our own game. And I think that’s probably one of the first games we made.
What kind of game was it?
That was… It wasn’t a card game like. There was a point and click adventure game about surviving and… (I’m having a brain fart right now) Oh, about the Underground Railroad. And it was trying to get through the Underground Railroad successfully.
So is that kind of where you started to stand up, uh, part of your journey or…?
Yeah, at that high school we were… We started like the first comedy after curricular, after school activity curriculum.
You start it or somebody of your teachers started it or…?
Um, the school had only been open for a couple of years. And a friend of mine and I, we started like the first comedy club at the school called “Headgear”. I actually went back a couple weeks ago… a couple of years ago to give like a speech with, like with other alumni. And I wasn’t expecting this, but there was a bunch of kids that were still in that group and they’re like: “Oh, my God, you’re one of the founding members.”And it’s like, I feel so old. I feel like like the first president of the United States or something.
But, I mean, that’s pretty cool. I think it still shows like an entrepreneurial spirit starting something during school. That’s kind of how it starts.
I mean…You just told me you were kind of a loner, which, you know, when I was growing up, kind of similar introvert here. But, I was quite scared during my school time to start some things. So, what was happening in your mind that you were like, no, we need… I mean, unless you were extremely passionate about comedy, why found something? Why not just follow your normal classes?
Um, I think at the time we just wanted an outlet to perform. We were like, this doesn’t exist, so let’s create it. And I’ve always had that mentality.
And so it was just…How did that club go? You would literally just do stand up in there, or was it more than just stand up?
Uh, there was maybe… So we held auditions and cast all our friends as that’s how everything works. And, then we spent a couple of months writing a show and it’s on tape. If anyone wants to watch it, you can. It’s awful. Uh, but, uh, yeah. So it was a combination of sketches and stand up and improv games, if I remember correctly.
You can find it on your YouTube channel or somewhere else?
Uh, I think that was pretty YouTube. You’d have to break into my house and get the VHS, I think.
You can also upload it. Cool! So we kind of now understand where it started all, so now high school finished for you around eighteen years old, right? So what, what then? What was the next?
I went to Emerson College in Boston which is a great film school.
Why film school?
Uh I really, I was like I don’t need to go to school to be a comedian or be an actor. I’m already talented. I need a backup plan. So I went to school for film, and I also got a degree in Web design because those are things I felt more like you would need a degree to help you succeed.
Do you still think so?
Why not? I get this question a lot, so I want to hear from you.
Which question do you get?
If people should go to film school?
Oh, um, I feel like that it’s more I mean, there’s certain things you definitely… Oh, this is weird because it also depends on the person. Like if you’re self-motivated and you start projects on your own and you outreach to people, I don’t think you need to go to college for film school. But if you’re the type of person that needs time to learn and you need to be, um, that time to grow, then I would recommend it. But for me, I kind of feel like it’s more about networking and meeting people and being a good example and learning from your mistakes. So, for film school, for me, I think it would have been better just to move out here and grow as an artist. But then, I’m I also now that I live here, I also hear from people all the time that they move here and they don’t know anyone and they end up leaving because they’re all alone, whereas with my school, I came out with a network of like dozens of friends and we all still live here and support each other.
Really? All the friends went with together?
Yeah, yeah. All my closest friends, I would say… seventy five percent of my school moves from Boston to Los Angeles at the end of school.
How come? Just because the industry is there or…?
Yeah definitely, because I’m here! No, because of the industry for sure.
But it’s, I mean we’ve actually been looking to scale, I mean companies, video agencies and we’ve been starting to look… We kind of wanted to go to New York from Amsterdam. It’s a bit closer, but it just kind of seems like everything that is film related is happening in L.A.. So, if you compare…
Well, I think it’s. I think it’s different now for sure.
Yeah, the East Coast and West Coast, like, how is it different now?
I would say there’s just more in L.A. than in New York, but there’s still plenty in New York. I mean, I would definitely say go there. If you’re just looking to expand, you’ll still get a lot out of that.
And then… Cool! Then for you after. Well, actually, still film school. How long was film school and what were the biggest lessons that you got out of film school?
Uh, film school. Yeah. Again, I’m more of a do it yourself guy. So freshman year when everyone was still in orientation, some kids I met in my hallway, we started… This was before Internet, TV and stuff. So we started a half an hour sketch comedy show that we talked to the station manager of the college TV station and we started airing that within two weeks of starting school.
Where were you airing it?
On the local college TV station. So as a half hour sketch comedy show and we produced an episode, this was when you had to, like, digitize tapes, like let the tape playback and record onto the computer. So we were digitizing tapes, editing it all and producing a half an hour episode every week for like the first six months of college.
Um. Yeah, and then at the end of the college, same thing, self starter, we took like our final: “Let’s make a film class film three or whatever it is called” and we were like: “Sweet, this is our chance to make a movie.” And so, we wrote this like very Indiana Jones inspired thing with like a plot and a Mayan temple that rises out of the park and this guy dies in a pit of lava. And then, we showed it and our teacher was like: “Is this really what we’re going to do?” I’m like: “Yeah, why else would you take a movie-making class?” And so, we brought our project in on the last day. And there was like… the first guys did like a man eating a sandwich on the bench. The next one was like a guy roller skating. And then, ours was like this 20 minute action adventure film. And we’re like, oh, we overdid it.
How were you able to film that?
I have no idea.
Or did you partially animated?
No, the whole thing was filmed. We built sets. I can probably give you a link. I think there’s a trailer up somewhere on YouTube that you can include in the notes of the podcast. But yeah, we we built an actual physical model for the temple rising out and we composited it on the footage to make it look like it was rising up. Then we built a set out of Styrofoam and wood and paint from Home Depot that looked like the inside of a temple.
So you really went the extra mile.
At the time, we had no idea. We’re just like, we got to get this done.
But it kind of also shows what you meant then with: “Are you self-motivated?” Because it seems to me like the other time, you know, people you were with in class, they kind of just did their assignment. But you guys were doing the sketch. You were doing this movie, that nobody had. And so, do you feel like the film school opened up doors for you outside of the friends? Obviously, the network is valuable, but do you feel like film school opened doors to put your creativity to something, or do you feel like you would have done it anyways if you weren’t in film school?
That’s a good question, I’m not sure. I don’t know on that one, I plead the Fifth.
No worry. It’s always tricky because you never know. Obviously, the environment is a big stimulus. I noticed when I’m not in the office, I just work a little bit different. But OK, let’s move on then from film school. So you got a degree and then you continued with your life, but obviously you just finished film school, and then how do you end up going? Like do you still continue doing your sketches where the stand up comedy come in or juggling?
My college has a satellite office or a satellite school in Los Angeles. So, the last semester I moved to Los Angeles and I got an internship on a on, uh, a show on the TV station Comedy Central. So after that, I just ended up staying in L.A. and got an apartment and struggled for several years like everybody.
What do you mean you struggled? What was happening?
You know, just trying to find a job and figure out, like, what direction you want to go. And like, when I was growing up, I was like, oh, yeah, you do everything you ate at the movies, you write the movies, you starred in the movies. And then as you get older, you’re like, oh, there’s one person that edits it and is really good at editing. There’s one person that writes it and they all like work together. So it’s like, which one of those things do you want to do and how can you make money at the one that you’re the best at?
I mean, technically now you also still manage all of it.
Yeah. YouTube didn’t exist yet. So that happened, I was like, this is my destiny.
So let’s go back to Comedy Central. You got an internship at Comedy Central, like a six month internship or one year…?
Yeah, I would say I was about six months, those for the semester.
Was the internship worth it? What did you learn there?
Uh, yeah. I wish that there was one spot where I wish I was more outgoing. I wish I had asked more questions to people and, um, been more nosy about what everyone was doing. But when I got there, they’re like, you’re going to help the writers. And so basically, I would just scrub the news to try and find headlines for them to think about what they could write about. And I would just go in and leave at the end of the day. But I wish I’d been more nosy and proactive there for sure.
How come you weren’t? Because obviously so far you’re telling me how your high school went. And obviously, if you’re telling me ‘hippie’, then I’m assuming, you know…connecting with people, that’s probably something that is…
I think it was, uh, I was probably a little nervous. Uh, I was like a young kid and every one else there in my eyes was like this big working fancy professional. But now that I’m older, I’m like, oh, we’re all the same. We’re all we’re all the same dipshits that came out of some school somewhere and got picked on.
For the people who are getting internships, let’s say they get in like a big company like Comedy Central or a Disney or whatever. So what would you tell them that they should do?
Uh, just constantly find ways to support the people that you work for and go above and beyond because they’ll remember that forever.
Do you recommend doing more hours as well and putting in more?
Uh, I don’t think you have, like, more than are required. I don’t think you have to do that. I think you just actually have to take the time to think about the person you’re working for beyond what they’re asking you to do and figure out extra ways you can deliver to them something that’s useful to them.
Cool. I mean, I would maybe add to that as well from my experience to walk around and connect also with other people a lot, because you never know down the line if you see them. Do you feel like you’ve met some people that helped you down the line there or…?
No, I don’t know anyone from that job at all.
I wish I did, yeah.
But so, uh, sorry, I forgot it was a six month or one year internship?
It was about six months.
After the six months you said you stayed a bit in L.A., but you, I assume, didn’t get a job with Comedy Central?
No. After that, I got a job at Fancy Film. It was like a really small post house editing videos. Um, and this was like the beginning of my slow transition to being like a, uh, self-employed performer.
I would that job was really flexible. So they’d like me take time off whenever I had gigs. And there’d be times where I’d take like two month stints off because I’d have a slew of gigs. And so they’d let me take that off to perform and come back and. I owe them a lot.
In the job they allowed you to do that?
I was just like a post PE an assistant editor, I’d edit projects when they needed them and help out around the office and that was a really small company. It was like maybe five people.
So then you get out of the internship and you got that job. But you just said that you were doing stand up act or something like that.
I was doing a lot of performing.
Why was it an itch that you were trying to scratch or was it more like you needed the money because it was L.A.?
Why was I performing?
Yeah. Why were you putting in the hours in something else?
Just because I loved it. One hundred percent, I was like, this is what I like the most. I just have to figure out how to make money at it. And so I just kept doing that whenever I could.
So can you tell me more about that journey when you first started in L.A., the first acts that you did, how did they go? Why do you feel you wanted to continue?
Uh, and that is all a blur.
Do you remember your first one maybe?
I’m trying to remember. One thing I do remember is I was like, even though I wanted it so badly, I was still petrified to go on stage. And so for the first while I had a partner that I do all my acts with just because being on stage alone petrified me. And so we’ve been working together for a couple of years and he was kind of giving me this look like he wasn’t going to make it much longer. I was like, OK, I got to figure out how to do this by myself. So after, like, five or six years of performing professionally with a partner, I remember the first time out on stage by myself. I was like shaking and was holding back tears in my eyes because I was so nervous of it failing and coming from that. Like last year, we sold out a tour in twenty three cities. And it’s like crazy to think that even with all that experience, I was still nervous.
Was it really just because suddenly you were alone and then…?
How long did it take you to get used to it? Or did you get a coach or a mentor?
No, I didn’t have a mentor. I just kept making … I like pain, I guess. I just kept going. If I don’t feel a little fear, I, uh, I try to find a scary performance space, I guess, but, uh, yeah. I don’t know. I just, um. I wanted it for myself, so I kept pushing myself to do it.
How long did it take before you finally got: “OK, I’m really maybe not the best, but I’m kind of good at this. I should definitely keep doing this.” Because I know a lot of people that start, I mean, including me. There were many moments where I thought: “Uh, I don’t think I’m good enough” with the impostor syndrome is so famous. So, for you, you say you really wanted it and the struggle is real, like I can feel like obviously you really… You went through a struggle, but some people give up in the middle. So, for you…I can imagine you were feeling that impostor syndrome. When was it slowly, finally getting away? When did you feel like this is really…?
I think when you start you’re like one day I’ll feel good enough and I need to work to that point and then when you when you’re finally a pro at it, you’re like, ‘Oh, you never get to that point.’ You always feel like you’re not good enough and you just keep pushing. But yeah. And you just accept the fact that you always want to improve and I think that’s part of what, um, that’s what makes people succeed, is that they always want to improve and they see what they suck at and they’re like, how can I make this better? And they constantly go back to the drawing board and figure out how to, uh, make a better product, whether it’s being on stage or creating a company.
How long were you in that job, the flexible one, while you were doing the act?
I would say about a year and a half and then I had another job, uh, for about a year and a half. So I’d say about three years of, like, flexible jobs and then I went full time performing around like twenty three.
How much were you … Can ask maybe financially, like, how much were you earning before you said, I’m going to cut the cord and then work for myself?
I have no idea. I would imagine I would imagine, uh, thirty thousand dollars a year minimum, I would guess, but I honestly….
Pretty much your rent and your food and maybe and some other stuff covered and then you’re… So you were just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’ll just do this full time.
Weren’t you scared that some gigs would go away?
Uh, no, because I also, uh, I’ve got to be the most random person. I also learned how to street perform and so, there was a time when you could go outside with other people. And so, for me it was like, oh, at any point if I really need money, I can go out to a street corner and gather a crowd and continue to pay rent that way.
Wait, so OK, you were doing the act.
Just blow your mind out.
You know, you hit something really important because what you created for yourself was a mental backup, which is : “If I quit my job, I have something to fall back on. It’s not the main thing I’m doing, but it’s a backup.” But like I know for for instance, ourselves, like me… To create that backup, it took years to realize the product that you’re really good at that no matter what, it will always be there to cover rent, which is a huge step that most of the population doesn’t have because they’re in the job and they want to sometimes cut the cord, but they don’t have that backup. So how did you get to street performing? When was it even happening? Because obviously you’re doing the act. You’re doing the job. That’s flexible, of course. But like, when did this street performing happen and how did you get into it? How did it become something like a backup in your mind?
Um, well, in high school, I had that, uh, English teacher that I talked about. There was a comedian and juggler. And so that kind of put the idea of street performing into my mind. And then in Boston, uh uh… You are you’re in the Netherlands, right?
There’s a dam square that has all the street performers.
Yeah, well not right now, but I mean…
Right, right. Yeah. So, in the United States, pretty much there’s only like two or three places in all of the United States that has street performers like Dam Square does and one of them is in Boston, Massachusetts and Faneuil Hall. So during college, I would see those guys and I’d be like, oh, that’s that’s interesting. It looks like they’re making a good amount of money. Um, and so, in college, I was a bouncer at a comedy club. And then…
You were a bouncer, as in security.
Yeah, I’ve shrunk down since then.
OK, let’s back up. How did you end up as a bouncer at the…?
Right, so my good college buddy Adam Junior Visión, who is a big comedy agent right now, he started out there with me as well and he was he is like six and a half feet tall and bulky. And so he got a job as a bouncer and thank God for him. He said to his boss, I have another bulky friend that could bounce with me, but that’s how I got that job. Um, yeah.
Cool. So then, OK, so you have that in Boston. You see all these street performers. Are these like… Do you decide in Boston to already try it a little bit?
Yeah. It was the summer after my I want to say junior year we stay. We stayed in Boston for the summer and tried straight performing while I was working as a bouncer at the comedy club at night.
You tried to street performing with friends?
Yeah, that that partner I talked about with whom I performed with the first couple of years.
Were you then juggling or what were you doing? A street performer.
Yeah, I think we were juggling. Yeah.
OK, so you tried it in Boston and then you moved to L.A. Are the rules different in L.A. for street performer because I know city by city in Europe it’s…
Yeah. In L.A. it’s, um, not fun with it. There’s a lot more. Uh, what’s the best way to say this? Free spirited, uh, free spirited vagabonds to compete with, I guess. Yeah. So and then just in general, in the United States, I’d say street performing is more frowned upon than in Europe, so…There’s just not as many opportunities, like I feel like in Europe, the arts just in general are way more accepting. So, every street fair in my mind, every street fair in Europe is like, yeah, we have a street performer. He’s right there and it’s free, and here it’s like if you show up to a street fair to street performer, you’re going to get arrested for breaking and entering more or less.
And you still need permits here? It’s not everywhere like that but in some places, I mean, places like Amsterdam are pretty strict. Rotterdam was so, which is a second city. I know other countries like, you know, the UK, Germany, they’re a bit stricter. But I think if you have a permit, you can do those things. But so, you’re… OK, so right now you’re kind of saying something interesting because in L.A. was different and then how did you decide that that was going to be able to pay your rent? Like was your act preplanned? Did you know that if you do it this way roundabout, you would be earning this much even in a city like L.A.?
Uh, to move on from the street performing because for us, that was more like a starting point for the career and the backup plan. At some point we started booking gigs and got an agent that was really just wonderful, and they would get us … They were a reliable source of income with a lot of gigs that traveled across the US.
You got an agent! How did you get the… Like what was happening that you got an agent?
That, uh, that I was performing at an event in Wisconsin and I noticed that every single other act…. Oh! This is actually a great story for entrepreneurs. So, that gig was the Wisconsin State Fair, and they have… It’s one of the best performance fairs, I would say, in the country. They have, like I would say, over two hundred bands performing every day of the week for like twenty days, and then on top of that, they have all sorts of performers and comedians. But, that booking came because we had sent out a mass mailing like three years before, and never heard anything from any of them. And then one day the guy calls up and he was like, yeah, my boss said, we need it all new entertainment, and I’ve had your folders sitting on my desk for two years. Can we hire you?
Like, a mass real mailing? Not like email?!
Yeah, it was like a folder with like our pictures in it and a DVD. And we had spent thousands of dollars sending hundreds of these out all over and didn’t hear anything.
Really? Where were you sending it to, like … Agencies?
Agencies, fairs, colleges, performance venues, comedy festivals, just like anywhere we could think of, and we never heard anything until two years later when one guy said he’d had it sitting on his desk for years. And so he booked us, and then when we got to the gig, I noticed that every other act at the event that was in our genre had the same agent. So, I was like, all right, I’m going to start sucking up to all these people. So, they had put us in a separate trailer and every day I was like Dave, my partner, I was like: “Dave, we have to go hang out on that other trailer because they’re all represented by the same agent.” And then, so we started doing that, became friends with them all. And what I said about the internship, like be friends with people and over deliver, that’s what I did with all those people in that trailer, like every day I was being super friendly. And like, any time I felt like they needed something, I got it. Like, there was one day the trailer ran out of something simple. It was like it ran out of water. So the next that day during lunch, I ran to the store and got several gallons of water just so they’d have it and like huge change. And after the gig was over, like a week later, the agent called us and was like the people in charge of the fair were raving about how great you were. And then I checked with all our acts and they said you were so nice and easy to work with and like you just were like helpful all week long. So we want to represent you. Um, so that is something I learned probably during those internship days of like just over deliver with everybody.
Was it because of that internship that you were like, OK, I need to overcompensate because because I really want this? Or was it just something inside of you?
I’d say it was a subconscious thing that I probably learned from making mistakes.
Yeah. Cool! So the agent pretty much calls you from that, which is you got in touch with them by cold print mail and then the agent gets in touch with you a couple of years later.
Oh no. That was a… So I got in touch with the event with cold front mail. The event got in touch with me a couple of years later. And then I noticed doing the event that everyone had the same agent. So then, I sucked up to everyone that was from the agent who are now some of my best friends. And then after that, the agent reached out to us.
Nice. And then the agent reaches out. I mean, at this point you’re kind of like, well, not at the beginning, but also not really like jumping up or something like that. So how do you negotiate with an agent like that? Was he just like, “OK, yeah, we’ll do it.” And then they get a certain percentage and that’s it? Or was there a negotiation? What was happening?
They got a percentage and they are just… So that particular agency ‘GELBERG’ is just so this is how we do things and we do it in the fairest way possible and everything is out in the open to discuss. And I just found from working with them for so long and so many other agents that have they just seem the most genuine and literally care about every single person that they represent, like it’s a family member. And so I, a hundred percent trust them with anything.
They are L.A. based or…?
No, they’re in Minneapolis.
And so just for me to know, how does… Maybe you don’t want to mention their percentages, but in L.A. in general, what are the percentages for good or bad agents? And how can you spy or bad agent?
I don’t know enough about that to say.
And then maybe the tips on how would you know what to do? Because you said a couple of agents you’ve seen already and then this is a good one. What makes a good and what makes a bad one?
For me is I mean, it’s this the same thing, as I said about being an intern, like they go above and beyond and show that they actually care.
Um, how do you test that, though?
That’s something that I’ve tried to get better at when working with people is like… I said a couple of years ago to my wife, I was like from now on, whenever I work with anyone, make sure before I sign the contract to do whatever I make them prove themself. Like just give them some sort of simple test to see if they follow through. Because when you’re first in business, when you’re first working with someone, everything’s a promise, like, yeah, we can do that and this and it’s going to be amazing and we love you and everything is great about it. And then once you sign the dotted line, like they can totally screw you. So for me, it’s like, oh, you want to work together? Cool. Could you put together a list of like ten? I don’t know if it was my stand up. Could you put together a list of like ten events that you have in your roster that you think would be a good fit for? And give me a paragraph description of why I’d be a good fit for each one, like that is not something that would be hard to put together, but it is something that I think if I asked people to do it, a lot would fail at it. And so it’s just because they wouldn’t do it, you know?
So, by that small thing, you pretty much just qualify if they’re going to do big things as well?
Yeah, it’s just do they care enough to put in the effort to help? Because, uh, whenever I work with someone, I want to make sure it’s someone that I care enough to help with. And so I just try and find people like that but feel the same way.
I mean, that’s nice, though. Like we do something similar when we hire people, like a smaller recruitment where we test for the motivation is real because motivation tends to go after a week or two, and then you’re stuck in the company
A hundred percent!
But it’s fun. You kind of also do that with agents, which just shows that technically the agent becomes part of the family, like you said.
Yeah, I wouldn’t I don’t do that just with agents. That was just advice for working with anyone on anything.
True. You have multiple agents or how does that work? Or is there one agent?
Uh. Yeah, um, I would say… Can you ask the question one more time?
Yeah. Do you have multiple agents or do you advise maybe agents for everything, everything that you do, like stand up or YouTuber?
I would say that every agent has a special field, whether that stand up or commercial acting, or TV acting or book writing, whatever you want to do. There is an agent that specializes in that field. And so you should find an agent that does that, like there’s agents that specialize in live touring, but there’s agents that specialize in getting you Netflix specials, right? So, it’s like getting a plumber, right? Some plumbers are specialized in commercial plumbing for major real estate, and others are like more handymen. You want to find the one that specializes in the the field you’re looking to, um, move forward
I didn’t know that. OK, so then let’s move on to the next part. So the agent finally gets on board. Does your life change a lot after that, or what’s the difference before and after?
Yeah, they got us gigs non-stop all the time, and I was just full on performing, traveling all over the US, getting sick of airports and having it be worth it once you got on stage with like a good audience and then from there, I was like, how do we expand this audience? And so, that’s when I started getting into YouTube and posting videos regularly.
So when does it (year wise) when does the agent get onboarded?
Let’s see…I’m going to say, around 2012.
But YouTube started in 2009.
OK, so that maybe it was like 20… I don’t know, it’s all a blur.
No worries, but in your mind, was the YouTube first or the agent first?
I would say it was all around the same time, but I would say that the agent took off way before the YouTube channel.
Cool. So OK, so then you’re doing… OK now I get it. So you’re doing the gigs, and then obviously…It’s not obvious actually, because what you’re saying right now is you were doing the gigs, which is by the way, you said your dream and you’re performing and doing something you love, but then something in your mind goes just, well, if I’m assuming right now, kind of like during high school, something in your mind goes off and it’s like, let’s found this this club. And then suddenly you’re saying like, let’s scale this audience. Why? Was it people approaching you just saying :”Hey, I want to see more of you or what?
That was it. It was like years of people being like: “Oh, we come to see you every year, but we can only see you one day of the year. Like, how do we see more of you?” And I was like, how can I give…? And as I thought about that more, I was like, that’s true, like even if I did a show every hour of every day, I’m still performing for like one small group, whereas on the Internet you can reach the entire world in one click. And so, I was like, I have to scale this audience, and that is why I started posting on YouTube.
It sounds to me like it was a gradual mindset shift, like it wasn’t happening right away. What happened for you to know? How was your reaction at the beginning? Because YouTube existed already.
I always watched YouTube from like the day it started and I think similar to like how I was afraid to be on stage by myself I was probably afraid to post a video. And so I think, um, eventually I was just like, screw it. I’m just going to do it and I’d say I posted videos for like five or six years before one took off.
And how does the animation tie into it? Because for the people just listening and not on computer or something like that, you obviously make animations, and as well you produce and film yourself sometimes. Where do you did you learn that skill from film school and why?
My first job I wanted as a kid was to be an animator, and that’s because I was really good at drawing. That was like the first thing I remember being good at, and, uh, then I started taking some animation and drawing classes and realized how long and arduous and boring being an animator was. And I was like, oh, maybe I don’t like art. Like I said earlier, maybe I don’t like the art of Aladin, maybe I like Robin Williams. And so I transitioned to comedy, and then after doing my YouTube channel for a while, I was like, I used to draw as a kid. Maybe if I try switching to animation, um, that’s closer to comedy. Maybe that’s the move I need to make. And so I tried making one animated video after posting live action videos for a couple of years. And the animated one, I went from getting like a thousand views, a video to like fifty thousand overnight. And I was like, oh, I got to make the switch. And so, I think that was in 2012, December 2012. And then from that point on I was like, I got to go all animation and I learned to draw again.
So it’s pretty much the audience telling you this is what we want to see and then you just make the switch. But isn’t it…? So we actually do some animation as well. Corporate work. It takes a while, like it’s not easy. And what you do is very custom work.
How long does it take you to then make a video or something like that? You can’t just whip it up or…?
Yeah. So I’m like a very analytical problem solver person. And so for me, I’m like… I’m more interested in the back end of animation, which sounds really weird, especially since I just said I hated how analytical and boring it was. But, um, so for me, like, I’ve perfected, like, reusing assets. And so we have like a super organized library of backgrounds that are like categories categorized by like location and type. So like if we need a scene in a bedroom, I can go in a folder and there’s like every angle of a bedroom possible with like our backgrounds are like everything is a separate layer. So they’re completely customizable and reusable. Our characters are super rigged puppets that are like two hundred layers. So the main character that represents me, Alex, is like one hundred and fifty layer puppet about… And we can even drag and drop animations on to him to make him walk or talk or act like all that stuff was animated once and now it’s just urías like as easy as like searching for a gif online.
Right. So you animated it. How did you animated it? Which software did you use?
We use Tune Boom which if you’re interested in animation, I would be impressed if you could show me software that was better suited for it, because what what Tune Boom does is just to me, mind blowing.
What does it do then?
It has, um, it’s hard to explain it with just words, but it just has so many feat. Custom features and its feature-rich that as far as I can see, there’s no other software that has as many features in it as Tune Boom does. Like it has 3D character, 3D camera, which gives you depth, it gives you character rigging, which lets you bend into form drawings in an easy way. It has, um, I mean I could talk endlessly about it, if I could remember the words, but, uh, I would say the most basic explanation is that the amount of features it has is uncomparable.
I mean, you can go pretty technical on this one, but so all the features in there but that’s when you animate new assets, right?
Once you’ve animated them, I can imagine the software that you’re using is pretty intense. You’re switching to a different software. That’s less…
No, we just, uh, we do all the animation in that software.
And can I ask like how… What kind of computers you can use because the expert time must be pretty long?
Um, we, uh, just do it all on like base model or not based model. The whatever the like mid tier IMAX are.
Yeah. What I would say we do have one PC because we had a PC master race person work here for a while and I would say that’s the route to go just because it uh, the graphics card and those are way more affordable and um, that renders are a lot faster on that.
Really? Do you …Did you try an external graphics card as well? You can buy them online.
Uh, no, we haven’t tried that yet. No
You should definitely try. You can get a lot faster in those things. It’d be interesting to hear maybe later also: what’s faster? A PC or a Mac with an external graphics card? Because you can buy one for, I think three hundred bucks on Amazon, and then you can exchange the actual so you can buy the rig and then exchange the graphics card from Nvidio or Reagan, and then that’s good, because you can upgrade it. So, it’d be interesting to hear because I know for software that is strictly strictly Apple, you definitely need a Mac. But then if you use graphics, I’ve always heard Windows. So you kind of saying the same thing right now.
Oh, I totally say the same thing. Um, yeah.
So the graphics card would be the most important part and that’s rig?
Yeah, for sure. I think for anyone just starting out like any computer you have is going to be fine. Don’t worry about having the most powerful computer, but we’re so into the program with the compositing and how taking it to a super advanced level that I think we need more power.
How come it’s different now? Is it just because there are so many layers?
Uh, yeah. We require more power just because we use, um, so many more layers and the puppets we use have so many deformers on them. Um, I would say a puppet probably has like 10 to 20 deformers that can bend and move the puppet around, and so and you have that many deformers on a puppet and then there’s three or four puppets in a scene. It just starts to become taxing on the computer.
Correct. So can I ask then you have a video like, let’s say a five minute video. How long does that take you?
If we were starting from scratch, it would probably take us a month, I would say, if we had absolutely nothing.
But with the library that you have right now?
With the library we have right now, we can…One or two people can pump that out in about a week.
Wow! How do you get…? Because you publish more than once a week, so how do you..?
No, we’re publishing once a week right now.
OK, that explains it, because I saw that you were…But you usually also post live videos. I just saw you posted that as well.
Yeah. The live video we just posted was because we’re launching that card game on Kickstarter, which we’re getting a great response on, and I just wanted to quickly answer some people’s questions. So I did that live video as well.
Tell me about the card game. So…wait, maybe let’s keep that for a second. So you got the agent, the YouTube is kicking off. You made the switch to animation because it gets more audience. So now you’re doing this card game, but you did a card game before and in high school, you said or in…
That was like a point and click adventure game on the computer.
But the game-making has been kind of in you for a while. Have you done any other games since then or is this your first one since that old one?
I would say the love of games has been there forever. And this was the first one that we we actually made. My friend Zack, that I went to college with, his wife and my wife, we’d always play games together and be like: “we’re going to make one, we’re going to make one.” And then he had his twins. And I was like, uh, if we don’t do this now, we’re never going to do it. And so that’s that was what inspired us to make the game.
So this is the first game since pretty much last time.
And then when you’re doing this game, so you’re doing with a friend, which is always nicer. How does that work? And maybe also the dynamic of doing it with a friend, because obviously I have a best friend and we laugh about things and doing a YouTube channel together, but then you actually do it. Is there a difference in your collaboration? And you know, how you work together… Does it help?
Uh, uh, the friend that I did it with, um, or remember earlier when I was talking about starting that TV show in college?
That was the guy I did that with. And then when we made that ridiculous action adventure movie, it was that guy as well. So like we’ve always collaborated together on projects. So, I think we just like each other and respect each other a bunch so that working together, it’s like… It’s very easy for us to throw responsibilities at each other and know who’s in charge of what.
So how did it start? OK, so you’re playing the games. That’s how it started. But when did it really get to the nitty gritty: “You’re doing this. You’re doing that…?”
I would say about a year and a half ago is when we started taking it really seriously and just getting together every week and playing the game over and over again to find out how terrible we could make it. Just like with performing or starting a company or anything, it was like, let’s be really bad at this and keep making it better until it’s at a point that we can share it with everyone. And then I would say maybe six months ago, we’re like, all right, we have something that’s cool. It’s time to start doing the artwork and getting the balls in motion and sharing this with the world.
So it’s pretty much one year and every week on like a Saturday you would get together and play would became this, uh, card game…?
And then how is it at the beginning? Like was it really bad or something? Or how did you even come up with the first try?
Right. So, uh, for the mechanics of the game, we looked at all the games that we’d play all the time, like, what do we like about this? And like, well, we like trading cards and we like wreaking havoc on other players, like instigating arguments. Basically, I love card games that instigate arguments, so we are like we have to make a game that instigates people getting upset with each other in a fun way. And so that, uh, was how we started. And then we set up a bunch of rules and played at once and were like, oh, this is not fun. This is fun. This sucks, this doesn’t suck. And then we just did that over and over again until we had more “doesn’t sucks than does sucks.”
How long how long were those games initially?
What do you mean?
So you started in the beginning a year and a half ago. Every week you sat down and then you were playing these kind of beta games. How long were you playing it… For 20 minutes together or..?
Yeah, I would say games would last anywhere from a half an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes we’d play it all the way through. Sometimes it would be so bad that after ten minutes we’re like, we have to stop. This is awful.
OK, so half a year ago it becomes something fun. Do you then get your life together? Like who’s the first person who actually saw it outside of you two?
I would say, uh, my animators are probably the very first people to play the game. Um, that wasn’t the core group. Um, one day they stayed after work and we all played the game, um, and they gave some feedback and we went back and improved it again.
Why the animators?
Uh, just because they were here already. And I know that… And they play games all the time, like they have, uh, game groups where they go out and play cards and board games with their friends.
Nice. And then, uh, OK, so then the animators… Then you actually design it professionally and then you start printing it. I saw in the video that you also had… You printed it in the printer first?
Yeah, I have some of those right here, actually.
Those look actually pretty good! Why not create like a digital experience where people can just print the card? Well, probably bad for copyright.
What was the question?
Why not just create a digital experience, like they just download the cards and can print it themselves?
We are going to have that but this is more meant to be… We wanted people to have like something that could last a while. So there is going to be a print in play available where they can print it out. But it also requires a ton of cards. There’s one hundred and eighty cards in the game, so I can’t imagine someone wanting to sit there and cut out one hundred and eighty cards.
Cool. So, OK, so then you have that the animators take over. How does the process work, like, you know, to to print something like that to you, go to a printing shop?
I’m in the US. There’s a couple… We’ve been I mean, as everyone has like, uh, made it more difficult to make this all happen with Covid-19. But because the one print shop we were going to use, uh, like, they just aren’t in operation right now. So it took some researching to find one. But there are a couple of when you’re prototyping a game, there’s a couple of great websites that will do. It’s hard to tell, but these are not as high quality as something you’d buy in the stores. They’re pretty close, but it’s not an exact match. But there are companies that will like do basically print on demand games for you and that can include games with like little miniature figures, games with cards, games, boards, like all of that stuff. There’s a couple of great websites that can put together mockups for you.
And then you just Google that or…?
Yeah. The one the one we used if people don’t play games is the one we used for these and I’d recommend them. It’s good quality and fast turn-around. And then the other major one is the game crafter, and those both offer great resources for building prototypes.
Cool. So then, you know, you started kind of in your friends circle and then they gave you the green light. How do you scale that? When it’s the light bulb going on? Okay, this needs to go to the world like… Do you first test it out, try to sell it to your friends and family, or do you right away go to the Kickstarter?
Um, well, uh, the goal was always to share it with my YouTube audience. Um, I’m in a lucky position that I already have, uh, a fan base to that will help bring it to that next level of letting everyone know about it. So, um. The goal was like: “let’s get the fan base excited about it” and hopefully that is enough of a push that it can get it more into the mainstream of other games on Kickstarter.
Do you have a proper strategy in place, as in obviously the strategies in videos? Who are you going to do paid advertising and stuff like that to get it to people that don’t know you yet?
Yeah, we’re going to see how the first day of funding goes. And then based on that, we’ll possibly invest in like Facebook and Instagram ads.
Nice. And the whole infrastructure is done by the providers. So then you don’t have to worry about the whole logistical part, right?
We have a separate company that’s in charge of all that stuff. So the ones I mentioned, uh, print and play games and game crafter, those are more just to print mockups. But we have a separate company that’s helping us with the logistical stuff.
OK, is there like a number you have in mind of…OK, if we achieve this number, then you know, it’s worth it for us to take this to the world. Or if we don’t achieve that number, it’ll just stick with my friends.
Um, I personally I mean, I hope it’s super successful because the game is awesome and I know when people play it, they’re going to love it. But personally, I… It doesn’t matter to me how well it does. Like, it would be a dream if it made lots of money. But me, I’m more excited about just the people that want it get it. Um, just because it’s it’s fun. And I would love to give them something fun to share with their family and friends.
I saw in your last video that you uploaded just before the call. There you said it’d be a dream that if it’s in the stores, um, I think your wife has your dad and then. But don’t you have I mean, you’re doing it with a with a friend. So there’s a partner involved. Don’t you have a strategy to get it into stores or is that something for after you get feedback from the Kickstarter campaign?
The company that’s handling all the logistical stuff does have relationships with stores, but that’s still like… Lots of people make card and board games, especially these days, where, like anyone can do it. So getting it into a store, there has to be enough of a demand for it. We have to prove ourselves basically because we’ve never had anything in a store before, right? So we have to say, look at how many people bought this game already. If you have it in your store, you’re going to have the same success. So, so…
So it’s super important to have your audience.
Yes. One hundred percent. Um, I think we have a huge advantage and I’m confident it will end up in the store. But at the end of the day, like, it’s not up to me, it’s up to everyone coming together and backing the Kickstarter to make it happen.
So, pretty much in short, your audience plus all of their friends, and then, yeah, if they just keep enjoying it, I mean the Kickstarter is thirty days, right?
Yeah, and I have a sizeable audience too, like I have four million subscribers on YouTube, so I’m not at a disadvantage by any means. But um,…
How do you how do you get in touch with your audience, because with YouTube after you hit a certain number, especially like above the millions, I can imagine, not everything pops up in their feed. So how do you interact with all? I’m imagining you’re trying to interact with almost all of them. So how do you get directly to them?
One thing, two things that I love are “Discord”, which for anyone that doesn’t know, um, is this great chat app where you can set up communities. And it just is it’s basically a chat room app, but it’s the current trend. And it’s been a great way for everyone that’s involved in my community to be able to talk to each other. So I’ve been loving that. And then as recently as this week, I just started using this thing called “Community.com”, which gives you a … Do you know what that is?
No, I’ve never heard of it.
Oh, it’s great. Community gives you a phone number that people can text message and then it’s still it’s not in beta, but it’s like slowly coming out of beta. Um, and it gives you just all the resources to be able to respond to people one on one, but in a way that can scale to thousands of people. So I get to have one-on-one conversations with people, but also be able to scale that and text people in a way where it still feels one-on-one, but I’m reaching a mass amount of people.
Because the interface of Community.com is on your laptop so you can message…?
It’s on the laptop and it’s on the phone. And it just gives you… I don’t know how to explain this, but it does give you a way to like respond to messages, uh, multiple messages at once, but still give it that one on one feel.
OK, so it’s just a little bit more organized, gives you a little bit more features and it’s not all over the place like a WhatsApp or an i-message?
Yeah, exactly. So like I can search for keywords and everyone that uses that keyword in a message, I can respond to them all at once, and they get it in their text message as in like an individual message just to them.
So how much does Community.com cost?
Um, I believe it’s one hundred dollars a month for the first thousand users. Um, but I think their pricing structure is still something they’re working on. So that could be totally off. But that’s just what I remember.
And then OK, so again, I’m assuming you’re not getting everybody on text. So what do you do that gets you the most amount of interaction with your audience?
Um, I would say…four million
Like, how do you hit all four million, I imagine you can’t hit all four million?
No, it’s impossible. It is literally impossible. I’ll make… I’m sure even though I’ve been talking about this game for months, um, there is still people that will be like, what do you mean you’re making a game? And it’s like or every single time I post a video, I would say there’s at least one hundred comments. They’re like, why don’t you post videos anymore? And it’s like, I’ve been posting a video every week for the past five years.What do you mean? Why don’t you post videos anymore? And so it’s just, uh, especially with all the competition for eyeballs these days, it’s just you have to accept that not everyone is going to know everything.
Do you have ideas on what the best practices are to actually get as much in touch with them?
I don’t know but if you figure it out, let me know first.
I will. We’re actually looking into it as well. That’s how I was interested, but I’ll let you know if I discover something. So OK, so to give me, like, a little bit numbers wise. So you have these numbers, community.com and stuff like that. Instagram I saw as well. Do you feel like your audience, like, it if let’s say you would start an Instagram today from zero and you would say, hey, audience, have new Instagram, how many of those four million do you think would convert onto an Instagram platform?
None. Yeah, yeah. For me, I mean, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me, getting people to go from platform to platform is really hard. Like…
I don’t I don’t know. I would say for me, like if I was like: “hey go follow this new Instagram!”, I wouldn’t get any traction. But if it if I was on YouTube and I was like, “hey, go follow this other YouTube!”, that will get a lot more traffic. That would get a ton of people because it’s within the platform. But to get people to switch, like, I don’t I don’t understand that at all. Yeah.
And have you ever tried, like, getting them from YouTube towards an email or something like that, something where they have a newsletter from you?
I would say the most recent conversion I’ve tried to make platform to platform is this card game. And so we announced that… And the card game got …I’m looking right now. Ten thousand sign ups about from reaching out to an audience of four million.
But at start you said in your last video, was like twenty thousand, but not all of them confirmed.
Why do you think that happens?
They didn’t know they had to confirm. It went to their spam, they didn’t see the email, it could be anything. I’ll send out emails. Like, for instance, last year, I went out on tour and I’ll get emails, and we sent out an email blast being like, hey, we’re going on tour and I’ll still get emails to the day. They’re like, hey, I just saw this email that you’re going out on tour. Sorry that I missed it. I’m like, who checks their email from eight months ago?
Yeah, I get that. So, how interesting, we’ve tried some stuff over the over the past couple of months because since MailChimp changed a lot of things which was made last year, I think, a lot of these emails don’t get into the inbox. And what we’ve noticed is if we build our landing pages a little bit different, warning them that there is going to be a confirmation link and they will arrive in the next one or two minutes, it seems to help a little bit. But we also have… Sometimes we just skip the double opt in and we go straight for the single opton. Have you ever tried that?
Um. Yeah, I do it for my personal email list, but for this, since we’re working with a company, we had to do the double up and…
What’s the difference between… If you noticed, like double opt in and single opt in. Do you notice the difference?
Um, personally, I don’t I don’t I don’t know why we need a double opt in. I know it’s the law sometimes, but for me, I’m just like if they put it in their email address, let me send them e-mails.
No, the double opt in is not for the law, I think. Well, now would you DPR might be a bit different, but before that, I think it was more of making sure that they put in the right email. Yeah, because if you’re sending to 10000 subscribers, but nine thousand of those are like Brian with two N’s or something like that. And you screwed up and suddenly you’re paying for a subscriber that doesn’t exist. Yeah. So that’s usually…
In that regard, I’d say the double opt in is worth it for sure.
Cool. OK, so a lot of the card game I’m probably going to add.
It’s so good. Get it guys. Yeah. Kickstarter 26. That’s going to be awesome.
I’m definitely getting it. I’ve been excited but I’m definitely going to ask a bit more later about it. But let’s go a little bit back again because I was super excited where we were going with the whole: “she got the agent thing and now you’re doing the YouTube thing.” So, your first couple of years you’re doing live videos, right? You’re not doing animation yet. So how many subscribers did you get before you made the switch to the…Well, yeah, before we made the switch to make an animation?
I don’t remember exactly, but I would say when I posted my first animation, so from 2007…When did I start the YouTube channel?
I’d say from 2009 to 2012, I had like ten thousand subscribers total. And then once I switched to animation, I jumped up to like, uh, maybe like one hundred thousand and then within a year or so, it just started getting into the millions.
You think it was because of the animation? So what were you doing that was so attracting them? That was so different even than the live videos.
I mean, at the time it was different. There was maybe two people posting animated videos on YouTube, um, and the similar format to me. And so at the time that stuck out as individual. Now there’s like there’s so many that I couldn’t even name them all. But at the time it was a very unique genre.
That’s fun. And then obviously, YouTube started growing outside of posting weekly. You were posting weekly, right? So outside of posting weekly and then switching over to the animation, were there any big things that you were doing that gave you a light like “Aha!” moment where you were like, OK, if I do this, they will give me more subscribers?
Um. I can’t think of anything now.
Because I saw I saw, for instance, you talk a lot about your life, but then I saw also that that one video about the gun policy with the cats.
Oh, yeah, that video exploded.
And I’ve tried to make other videos similar to that, and they just haven’t clicked as well. So for people tuning in, then I have no idea what we’re talking about. I did a video called “The Guns Explained with Cats”, which was just a little parody of like if having a cat lady on your street and how absurd she gets with cats, but that’s the way people are treating guns in America and that exploded. But I think that was also at a time when that was… It said what needed to be said and, uh, an appetizing way. So people that didn’t even care about the comedy of it just shared it because they’re like, this is the point I need to get across. And it’s getting it across in a way that is easy to consume.
But were are you always looking for trending topics? Like what got you to that first ten thousand and then what got you from ten to hundred? So, from ten to one hundred. I’m assuming it was the animation that you were unique and everything, but to ten thousand you were probably doing something that still… Were you talking about trending topics? Was it relatable subjects just because it was your life?
I would say the video that really blew up was I made this video called “My hot babysitter got me in trouble.” And it was about the story from school, um, in middle school. And I dated my babysitter and who is about the same age as me. Anyways, it’s a ridiculous topic, but I think that scratch the itch of like a relatable story. So people connect with it and see themselves in the shoes of me. It gave them excitement of like, “Oh my God, I wish this would happen to me.” And then the third thing was that it ended on a cliffhanger that was like, oh, I want to see more. And so when you make content online, like as much as you want to make something that’s good, like that matters very little. Unfortunately, what matters is you make content that people watch to the end, that they leave comments on, they watch another one. So when you make your content, those are the three most important things. So that video got a lot of people to leave comments. It got a lot of people to subscribe because they wanted to see more of the story, and it got them to click on other videos, which is as far as YouTube is concerned, that’s literally all the algorithm cares about. And it’s the same with Tik Tok or Twitter, Instagram, like as much as you like: “Oh, I want to make this a good thing.” It doesn’t matter. What matters is making stuff that turns on the buttons on YouTube that says I have to share this with more people.
So do you make then a series about the baby sit? Or like if you make content now, do you think out a series of content: part one babysitter, part two baby sitter and then to trigger those three things or…?
Yeah, that’s one… That’s been interesting. So the baby sitter thing we wrapped up in December with a movie, uh, which is crazy. We posted like an hour and a half long movie that…
I saw that.
Yeah. I can’t believe we did that still, but. So… They love like as far as the algorithm is concerned, it loves the continuation and like getting people to come back for more. But the audience in the comments, they like what’s with all these cliffhangers? So it’s been interesting figuring out an approach that makes them want to see what happens next, but doesn’t get them upset that the story isn’t finished. So the most recent one, as I’ve been telling the story of how I met my wife and, um, it’s we’re trying to scratch that itch of like I want to know what happens next, but also give them a conclusion that doesn’t leave them upset, which is weird because TV is so episodic and like the next episode.
So how do you do it then? Because with TV there are cliffhangers, which is why you keep watching the episodes. And obviously like for instance, I watch things like Suits and get super angry because it’s like “No! Why?!” Why now…?
But so YouTube you’re telling me is different and you don’t really want to do such cliffhangers because your audience will get upset, you’re telling me.
Well, I think I mean, it’s hard to say because, like, their reaction might be as trivial as the way you just were talking about Suits or whatever you’re talking about, like: “No, why now?!” All I can see is the text of the comment, which is why did you do that to me? which I can read many different ways.
Um, so, um, one thing I found that helps is instead of just ending it right on the cliffhanger, like leaving it up to the audience and, like having a conversation with them one-on-one at the end of the video, that’s like “we could end the story here”, or if you want me to continue it, let me know that and we can continue in the next one or like letting it become more of a “choose your own adventure” than a cliffhanger, right? So at the end of the video, being like, on the next one you could go in this direction or that direction. Which way… Which part of the story do you want me to tell? And we’ve seen success with that and, uh, pleasing people.
So it’s kind of like a new generation TV series where at Netflix you pretty much get your TV series with a cliffhanger. And here it’s more like you make a full rounded story with a conclusion. But then at the end, you have this question: do you want to explore more? If so, what do you want to explore?
Interesting. How did you come up with that or was it just naturally came up?
Lots of trial and error similar to… Yeah, I think my whole life is trial and error actually.
Sounds like it. But it sounds like you’re learning which is the most important part.
So… Sorry… So those first ten thousand was about those topics that you were just mentioning then? Do you think the ten thousand two hundred thousand was because you introduced animation on top of that?
Yeah, for sure.
Then what do you think got you from one hundred thousand to your first million?
Totally that babysitter video, that first babysitter video got me like a million subscribers and a couple of months or a couple of weeks, I’m sorry. It was the growth from that that was insane. It was unbelievable.
So… Is literally just you got lucky with a certain topic and then it just hit home?
Do you wish that sometimes you could produce more than once a week just so that… You know…?
Yeah. I wish I could produce every day of the week. It would be great. But it’s just especially the animation. It’s impossible. Even with a video a week. It’s a real… The animation part is challenging and as difficult as it is, that’s very like paint by number and so it’s easy for us to accomplish. The thing that is most draining for me is coming up with the scripts and interesting stories and topics, because with YouTube, they want personal personal experiences and personal stories. And so, to come up with something fresh and interesting every single week on top of directing and producing all these videos, that’s the most challenging part. So I don’t know how one person could do that.
And why have you never thought (just out of interest for me)…? Because, you know, we deal more corporate, so I get to see that part. Why have you never thought of it as a studio where you get, you know, a couple of screenwriters together, you think out your ideas for the next year and then you get like an editing team or even maybe outsource the editing? I don’t know.
So we did that for… I’ve hired writers before and trying to get people to match my voice has been very challenging. Um, I even went as far as to make a really detailed and thorough, like script Bible with like, this is the voice that needs to be in and this is how it needs to be written and this is what it needs to include and not include. And like, I don’t know if I just didn’t find the right people, but it was just… It was difficult to find people that wrote in the same tone as I am. And because YouTube is so personal, like I’d say, that’s the most important thing.
And what about mentoring somebody or?
What do you mean?
I don’t know. I’ve noticed that delegation is being one of the hardest things also for some of the team leaders in my team. And that, um…
Like they have a hard time telling people what to do?
Yeah, they have a hard time translating their voice, like you said. Yeah. And then I’ve noticed that it just is difficult when especially when it gets more personal when we do creative work. But when you get people like really as a blank slate in the beginning of their careers and they stay with you for like let’s say a year or something like that, um, suddenly it just becomes a little bit easier to… To explain these things to them, because they haven’t gotten outside perspectives or something like that to have a different voice. You know what I mean?Have you tried something like that, like interns?
I would say writing wise I haven’t, but animation wise I would say one of our best… I work with the animators all the time and I would say my best success story wasn’t someone that applied for a job, it was someone that kept sending in fan art. And I was like, hey, you’re really good at this. Do you want to come in an intern? And they came in an intern and they were great. And I was like, hey, do you want to possibly, uh, start out assistant animating? And then they did that and they totally killed it. And then I was like, hey, you’re really good at this. Do you want to be a full time animator? And that’s similar to what you’re saying, someone that like was mentored and grew up within the system of what we do here. And so they just get it. And I think that was our most successful person we’ve worked with, I would say. I mean, I work with so many great people, but that one was just like it was such a pleasant surprise for both her and I, I think.
What’s the… What’s the issue of doing that for writers?
Um, I just it’s hard to… Well, one thing with writers…
I mean, I’m struggling with the same thing. I have to say for writers specifically, it’s quite difficult. But, yeah, I’d love to hear from you. Like, why?
Um, well, writing is hard. I hate doing it myself. So I think that’s the first problem. But the second thing is it’s, um. A lot of the writers we hired would write it more in line with the traditional TV show with like, dialogue and scene changes and a story arc, which there is a story arc, but with YouTube, it’s more about personal antidotes and telling stories. And as many times that be like we have to take all this dialogue out and make it directed at the person listening, like it just wasn’t conveyed in the scripts. And so. Fine.
What if you what if you take like a retreat or something like that, you do retreat where you sit down with screenwriters and you literally plot out the next year of content?
I think, so we did do that when we were using writers a lot. I think the other thing is that I’ve also gotten way more efficient at writing scripts, and so I have less of a need for that. But the other thing, we did do that for a while, where we’d meet once a month and we talk about what their script would be about and then they’d go out and write it. Um, and like I said, I put together that really thorough, um, writer’s guide and Bible that like detailed how many lines of dialogue should be in a script and how it should be written. Um, and the perspective and voice and how each character should talk. Um, and again, like all my stories are based on real life. So it’s not like they’re making stuff up, but, um, it just still wasn’t it wasn’t in the right voice and in a way that worked for me. So I would love to try it again. It’s just something we’ve put on pause for a while.
Interesting. Cool, so um. Yeah, so then one hundred thousand to a million was the babysitter. Obviously, you’re going now one million to 10 million or even five million because you’re close. Do you feel like there’s a different thing you’re doing now?
What do you mean?
Are you focusing on different things or maybe you’ve piled up everything you’ve learned and you just keep doing that, or have you introduced a new learning lesson to it?
Um, for the like, what is my next phase of my career? Is that what you’re asking?
For YouTube specifically. So the first ten thousand was about getting those three topics in order, something that they comment on, that they come back and stuff like that. Then afterwards, you introduced the animation and then afterwards you introduce these topics that are very clickable. So, now that you’re going into your next phase of YouTube, so to say, do you feel like there is another learning lesson that you’re doing? Are you doing more training?
Oh, yeah, totally. So, as I said earlier, like, the whole reason I started my channel was to scale my performance audience. And so, we did it last year for the first time, we did 20, 30 cities, and it did great. But we got lots of emails that were like, we didn’t know you did stand up. We didn’t know you were a comedian. What are you going to be like on stage? And then I’d finish the show and I’m like, that was really great, but that’s not what I was expecting. And so from that, we’re like, “oh my God.” The whole reason I started this is not clear to the audience. So now, it’s been all moving forward. I want to make sure that it’s very clear in every video that I’m a comedian and that what I build my persona on stage, because I guess it’s a little bit different than it is in the videos. And so originally, I was just going to start recording all of my sets and talk about similar topics that are in the videos and kind of interweave those with the stories that I tell, similar to how… Do you ever watch Seinfeld?
Yeah, I did.
Do you know how like at the beginning or the end of Seinfeld, there’d be like a little clip of him doing standup?
I was going to do something similar to that, but animated. So that would be the animated story. And then there’d be like a little clip of animated standup that would be related to the topic. And so that was the plan. And then every comedy club in the entire world closed because of the pandemic. Uh, so that idea has been put on pause right now, but that is what we’re going to do as soon as we can.
But why not do an anime like you said yourself, just do the animated skits so you not being like just you like this and then just animate yourself doing your…
Because I think what’s because I mean, that’s what we were already doing. I feel like four years and they’re still not getting that. I’m a comedian. So I think actually having the feedback of a live audience and like seeing me at a microphone is what will, um, make that clear.
To pretty much making that sound fall. So, I guess the next part of your journey is making clear what you really do and getting your whole audience on board. And I guess the transition that you’re then making is getting your offline world connected with your online world, where before it was very much about growing your online world. And you’re off the world. But now it’s about bringing them together and connecting them.
It’s really cool. So outside of the card game…
And just to give you a heads up, I have to go in about 15 minutes…
Yeah, sounds great. We’re about to wrap up anyway, but I guess that’s partially what I wanted to wrap up with was going into the future. And the next thing that you want to do, your YouTube, it’s pretty clear. The card game that you’re doing right now, that’s kind of, again, bringing your offline and online together as well.
I’m so excited about it. It’s so good.
But outside of the card game and your YouTube, have you thought about a Netflix stand up on Netflix or something like that? I can imagine that could be interesting.
Yeah, I think that is the next kind of area I want to go to is, uh, a standup special or some live performance more and getting it back to that, because the past couple of years have been all about growing the online audience and like where my heart and like true passion is is and performing for people. So, I mean, all these other projects we’ve talked about are super fun and I love them and I put my heart into them. But I feel like the the most satisfying I ever feel is when I get off stage. And so I was like, that was the best thing I’ve ever seen, that just like it gives me life and it makes me feel like I did something good for a person to, like, give them that much joy. So that is what I want to share more of.
For people who would be looking and thinking that they have that, you know, live entertainment. But they would maybe like speaking or entertaining or something like that. But obviously now with Corona, YouTubers are a little bit better off than than…So, how would you tell this person to transition into digital and what tips would you give this person?
Do it and trial and error. Just do it over and over and over again. And good luck. Cause it’s so oversaturated right now.
Any like practical things you should definitely be doing or not doing?
Um, be be ready for when it’s I would say, I mean I’m a very interesting person because I’m interested in both the YouTube, which is a very secluded life and the performing which is very in front of people. And I think most people don’t have both itches, both bugs. Um, but I would say if you are a live performer, like there’s so much you can be doing right now to be ready for when this is over. And I think when it is over, people are going to be so desperate and excited to see live entertainment that they’re just going to explode and you’re going to have so much work.
So how would you tell them to prepare already for that?
Update your promo material, reach out to people that are in your industry that are affected by this and just be like, I’m thinking about you and hoping you’re OK, just like the same story of like how at that fair I got water for all those people. Like, just because you can’t get money from someone doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them and be helpful to them, right? Uh, yeah.
Cool. I think that’s a really good one. Um, maybe the last question that I’ve been getting is a request a lot. Are you reading any books right now? Do you have something interesting to recommend that has helped?
There was …I just finished the Robin Williams biography, um, which was, uh, for a performer like it is a very sad book. Uh, but, uh, as a performer in major, I realized, like, why are we all trying so hard?
What do you mean?
The whole book, like he was my Robin Williams was my idol and like he is just like the most talented comedian on the face of the planet. And like half the book is him talking about how, like, critics hated him and he never felt like he was good enough and he felt like Jim Carrey was going to ruin his career because he was so talented and like people didn’t want to work with him because he wasn’t a good actor. And I’m like, you are like the most phenomenal actor comedian I can think of. How could you even be having these thoughts? And just to see that like someone and as phenomenal as him was also struggling with being accepted was just mind blowing to me.
How did it affect you? Were like, what did you get out of that learning?
Um. Well, it made me a little depressed. Uh, and then, uh, then I felt, uh, I was like, it’s good to be depressed, I guess, because he was he felt the same exact way. So, uh, yeah. It was just good to not feel alone.
Right. I guess that’s a good one to close with because… No, it’s a bit depressing, but hear me out. I think I think, you know, knowing that we’re not alone is partially why we’re doing this in the first place. I can tell you, like from our end, like the reason we did we did these events and doing the podcast, just realizing we’re not alone, no matter how big you’re becoming, everybody’s struggling, which is kind of also what I learned. But at the same time, maybe the conclusion wouldn’t be, oh, you know, everything’s bad and everybody’s going to hate us. But it’s more like, you know, we’re not alone. Everybody’s struggling. But at the same time, it’s trial and error. And if you keep just learning, then maybe we’ll have those learning lessons that you’ll have as well, going to your ten thousand subscribers and hundred thousand, a million. But also, at the same time with your audience and how you learned from Comedy Central compared to like that gig that you got and eventually ended up being your… Becoming an agent that came to you. I think it’s just I would add to that just to trial and error, you know. We’re not alone. It’s hard, everybody is struggling. But as long as you do trial and error, you’ll kind of get ahead.
You know, one thing that is similar to that, the I think it might be a little bit inspiring. There was a series on Netflix. It was about… Like, I can’t recall what it was called, but it was about like, uh, movies and where they came from.
Oh yeah, I forgot it. Explain or something. No, I remember what you mean. They did one on ‘Home Alone.’
Yeah, that’s the one I’m thinking of.
If you type in ‘Home Alone’ in Netflix, you’ll find the series, um, ‘Director’s cut’ or something? Was it that one?
Home Alone Netflix….Oh, turn that off. Stop now. Where is that coming from? Stop talking. Uh, ‘The Movies that Made Us’!
‘The Movies that Made Us’, right.
Uh, ‘The Movies that Made Us’ is all about these huge blockbuster successful movies and how they became huge successes. And pretty much every single one of them at some point or another was a complete failure. And the people that worked on it, uh, were not expecting it to be even a success at all. Oh, and it just kind of reminded me of that Robin Williams book and how… It makes me feel like absolutely everything everyone makes sucks. Always. Everything everyone makes always sucks. And the only time something is successful is like winning the lottery. Like you get lucky with that one thing and the people that get lucky on it, capitalize it and try and get lucky again. But if you’re making something or working on something, it does suck because everything sucks and it’s just people that keep making sucky things cash out when they get the lucky one. So just keep working on whatever you’re working on and keep hoping you get lucky. Like, the more times you try something, the more chances you have to get lucky. So that’s kind of how I felt about everything I’ve ever worked on lately.
That is so that’s so true also in business that you’re going to do so many failures. And it’s usually that one then makes it worth it for all of the failures. With investment, same thing. So it’s just interesting that also in the creative arts, it’s pretty much the same thing.
Yeah, exactly. I think it’s the same for everything. Everything sucks, you guys.
But I think that’s a good… That’s a more positive one to to kind of close with. I really enjoyed this. I’m very happy that you came on. I really hope the Kickstarter goes really well, will definitely promote it. Well, I’m definitely going to be buying one. So…
Yay! You’re going to have a lot of fun with it. It’s a great game.
I’ll, uh, I’ll definitely give you a testimonial and see how it goes. But thank you so much for coming on. And I hope to invite you once again after the Kickstarter or something like that.
Yeah, that’d be great.
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