Youtube has launched the careers of many new-wave comedians, i.e. The Lonely Island, Good Neighbor Stuff, and even the hilarious career of Canadian bunny rabbit Justin Bieber.
Sydney Heller and Olivia DeLaurentis are two more comedians using the platform to spread their funny. The LA-based performers make up the comedic duo Barely Legal Comedy, WHICH IS SERIOUSLY NOT DIRTY WE PROMISE COME BACK HERE. They run their own YouTube channel, perform improv together, and recently completed their first web series, “Sugar Babies.” Sydney and Olivia hopped on the horn with GOLD to offer their advice on how to be online funny on a budget.
1. Even the randomest bits can become a premise.
Sydney: For sketches, ideas usually come from an inside joke we have. Like some sort of bit we’re doing while eating.
Olivia: Yes. A disproportionate amount of comedy comes from us going out and getting food and then doing a really stupid bit and then laughing at it in like a restaurant and making other people uncomfortable. That’s a sketch, and then we’d go write it as fast as we can. We came up with “Sugar Babies” in this store in Beverly Hills that had these weird stuffed llamas for like $700, and we were joking and being like, “If I had a sugar daddy, I wouldn’t have them pay for a car, I would want to buy this alpaca.” And then we went, “Well, that’s a webseries now!”
Sydney: We drove home and started mapping it out.
Olivia: By the time we got to her house, which is like a 20 minute drive, we had all the principal characters planned out.
Sydney: The thing that’s fun about working within a duo instead of working by yourself is that you come up with ideas faster, especially when you’re on the same page, and can riff off each other.
Olivia: When you’re alone you really have the time and ability to doubt your ideas and doubt that you’re funny. You can push past that, and should, but if you’re in a room with someone that you think is really funny and they’re laughing at something you said, then you’re like, “Oh yeah, this is funny!” You can get things done much faster.
3. Don’t be afraid to reach out to comedians you don’t know.
Olivia: The internet is such a cool thing right now in terms of reaching out to people. YouTube comedians are usually more accessible than you think. If you find someone that you think is funny, then there’s no harm in reaching out. People will at least talk to you and give you advice, or maybe you could collaborate on something. Don’t be intimidated!
4. Make production lean and mean.
Olivia: Our budget is virtually nothing. I bought my own camera so I’d never have to rely on another camera person or DP , and it’s actually been really useful because we’ve been using this camera for the whole series. When filming we try to move fast and just do a couple of takes because we know exactly the kind of takes we want. There’s not a big crew, usually about two people maybe, so there’s not miscommunication between people. Sydney and I edit everything together on Premiere.
5. Being DONE is better than being PERFECT.
Olivia: It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done. It’s so easy to go, “I have this great idea, but it’s not exactly perfect.” If we did that, we would make sketches every now and again. Every five months or so we’d put out a sketch. But we started making stuff faster with the mindset that it’s not going to be perfect because we’re two broke girls who don’t have a giant crew.We’re not funded by anybody. If you’re trying to make the most perfect thing in the world but don’t finish it, you don’t have anything. But if you make ten things that are not perfect, but it was fun and shows your sense of humor, then that is much more practical and useful to your career in comedy because no one, especially if you’re young, expects it to be 100% perfect.
Sydney: It’s about making the thing and not about talking about making it.
6. Do what makes YOU laugh.
Sydney: If you have access to a way to watch comedy, I think you can learn so much from watching. Let’s say you watch three different shows. If you find the common thread in each of those shows that makes you laugh really hard, then you’ve found your style—the thing that makes your voice unique.
Olivia: Don’t worry too much about how something will be received. Have confidence in yourself and “do you.” There’s not a single thing you can do that will get 100% positive response, so don’t even worry about any of the response (unless, if course, it’s actually helpful).
Sydney: There are a lot of schools for comedy and ways to learn comedy, but at the end of the day, what you find funny is the thing you have to stay true to.
Olivia: What you find funny is what you should make, and hopefully you’ll find other people who find it funny. The biggest thing is: when it’s on the internet, just do the thing you think is fun.
Youtube Channel: Barely Legal Comedy
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NAOMI PITT (intern, T.A., social media) is a comedian, musician, and lover of all things cheese. @pittisbananas