When it comes to shotgunning beer, starting a bro fight and sexting, Jimmy Tatro has the rules of the frat life down pat. At least, his character on his YouTube channel “Life According to Jimmy” does. But sitting in the shade of the Santa Monica Pier, sandwiched between the crazy bird man on a bicycle and a keyboard player serenading us with “Titanic” songs on repeat, Jimmy and I swapped stories on a couple of my favorite topics — Vegas and beer pong (a big thank you to him for advice that helped me improve my game).
Jimmy started his second, and most successful YouTube channel, “Life According to Jimmy,” in November of last year after his original channel’s Adsense was shut down. With a fresh start, Jimmy rebuilt his channel on the foundation of consistency and the promise of releasing a new video each week for the fans that would move over with him to his newest channel. While it was his frat life videos that put Jimmy on the radar as an up and coming entertainer in the YouTube community, he is most proud of his videos capturing life’s most awkward social interactions. Since the channel’s launch, Jimmy has signed with Big Frame Studios and made the decision to leave college to come back to L.A. and pursue a career in entertainment full-time. Just this week, Jimmy announced in a video that he will be starring in the movie “Total Frat Movie” which will begin filming this summer. It is this rare opportunity that makes Jimmy one of the few YouTube stars to transition from the computer screen onto the silver screen. NMR sat down with Jimmy to discuss the truth behind the frat life he portrays, his decision to leave college and his upcoming movie role.
Your channel is still pretty young — why did you originally decide to start making videos for YouTube?
I’ve always just loved making videos, like putting together short, funny sketches and stuff like that. I started when I was a lot younger — not a lot younger, but in high school I would just kind of set up kind of like a Macbook camera, and I’d film myself saying like one or two stupid lines, and then I’d be like, “Hey Eric or Kyle. Hey, say something stupid.” And then they’d say something, and I’d just cut it and make the most random little stupid videos, but they were still kind of funny because we were just improving them and stuff. But then in high school I did TV production, and I made like short little videos and stuff that were supposed to be news stories. They were pretty much sketches, but they were supposed to be news stories, so my production teacher and I were butting heads because she just hated me, but that was when I started getting into making [them] little. ‘Cause the whole concept of making short little three minute sketches is relatively new; since the introduction of YouTube that is what really started it, other than like “Saturday Night Live.” I’ve always watched “SNL” as a kid, so it’s just something that I’ve always just really liked doing. I like making people laugh, and I saw YouTube as a good way to just kind of start getting my stuff out there, start getting seen. I would like to be on the big scene one day, and I saw YouTube as a good starting block to get like a fanbase going, and then I found out people were making livings off of YouTube and good livings off of YouTube, and I got more interested about the whole partner program. That was when I started putting out videos like once a week and then got into that.
When was the moment when you first decided to make the transition from doing it for fun to doing a weekly organized video?
That was the end goal to have that. I didn’t know when I started that you are supposed to do a weekly video. I didn’t know how the whole format worked, but I just wanted to start somewhere with like the videos and start working towards building a fanbase so that I could have that, because I didn’t know specific ways that you go about being a partner and stuff like that. So I just kind of wanted to start out and get some fans, and then I was hoping that the partnership thing would just kind of come, which it sort of did. But yeah, my manager when I linked up with her she was the one who kind of gave me the lowdown about how YouTube works and how you need to be consistent and have a weekly show-type setup, so that was how you gain the most subscribers as fast as you can. And so when I started actually making a video a week, it was hard. It was like “Alright, here we go. I’m going to start making a video a week,” and I’m promising a video a week because when you have that many people counting on a video every week you can’t let them down.
Why did you decide to focus on frat life?
I wasn’t ever really planning on focusing on frat Life. I thought that first video that I made would be a good kind of jump start to starting the channel up just ‘cause I knew how viral it could go because it was such a relatable video. Everyone knows that frat douche bag; he’s in every fraternity, you know? And it took me so long — all the quotes in that video I was like composing over the whole semester I was writing them down on like a notepad and those were like the funniest quotes. Then at the end of it I was like, “I can easily make this into a viral video,” and I thought if I do this that could be a good way to get my YouTube channel kind of started and going, and it was and it went viral. I wasn’t necessarily planning on doing multiple frat videos; I was hoping that it would just be the one and after that I would be able to start doing my awkward social interaction which is just funny sketch comedy, but of course you got to give the fans what the fans want: frat videos. But as time’s going on, they’re getting less and less of them ‘cause college is going to end eventually, so I can’t focus on frat videos forever. But for now they’re funny. For now they’re funny, and they’re fun to do.
Are you in a frat?
I am in a frat. I am in a frat just because — well I mean, I guess I technically don’t go to school anymore, but this is just the first semester I’ve been done with school. All last semester I was. I’m still in the fraternity basically just ‘cause I live there. My big bro is the president. Well, I’ve always been involved; I lived in the house last year, and then this year I’m a junior. Not as involved in the whole fraternity thing, but I still go to the events and stuff like that and hang out with all the guys. All my roommates are in my fraternity, so I guess I am still technically in a frat.