Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, ‘cause they are about to be blown right off! Just for Laughs Gags Comedy and Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire have teamed up to create original content that brings their unique comedic styles to one anothers’ channels.
Roman Atwood and Dennis Roady, the dual members of Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire, are known on YouTube for their fast-paced and spontaneous run and gun pranking style, a style that could not be more different than that of Just For Laughs Gags, whose pranks are much more organized and production-heavy. The Sketch Empire duo and the cast of actors and actresses from Just For Laughs Gag will be appearing in each others’ videos, and they see their collaboration as a new way to entertain their respective subscriber bases with the other group’s distinct form of comedy.
After their first week of filming in Montreal, Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire and Just for Laughs Gags jointly released their first of a series of videos onto YouTube yesterday. Three gents Roman, Dennis and Just for Laughs Gags’ Digital Director Carlos Pacheco talked with NMR about how they originally became involved in comedy, why YouTube has been a perfect platform for them to begin a comedy career and what viewers can anticipate from upcoming Roman Atwood and Just for Laughs Gags videos.
How would you describe Roman Atwood’s style as compared to Just For Laughs Gags’ style?
Roman Atwood: Completely opposite. Kind of like California weather and Canada weather [laughs].
Carlos Pacheco: I would say I like seeing the way Roman works. The way he works is very much run and shoot, run and gun type of prank, whereas Just for Laughs is much more production-heavy. We create, we organize, and our pranks turn out to be more elaborate. There is 13 years of pranking behind “Just For Laughs” so there is a lot of work that needs to be done comparatively. We’re not as quick as Roman and Dennis, but our stuff basically is a little bit more elaborate.
How will these videos be different than the content normally uploaded onto Just for Laughs Gags and Roman Atwood?
Dennis Roady: I think the mixture between the way we shoot is different. The way they look and feel, slightly different, the type of pranks they are is slightly different. I’m looking forward myself to seeing how they come out. For example, just the last larger production there were the resources available to do things at a higher skill than Roman and I can do. We were at the mall, and we had permission to go into the mall and do a striptease camera prank, whereas if Roman and I were to do that we would probably get run out of the mall in 10 minutes. In this prank we have the Just for Laughs Gags actors and actresses with us, and we go up to random people in the mall and ask them to take pictures with our cell phones, and it’s called “Striptease Camera Pranks” because our clothes are coming off as each picture is taken. The person taking the picture ends up reacting when they see this beautiful woman taking her shirt off in the mall, and they can’t believe it’s happening, or it’s an old guy, and he’s got a really big smile on his face. It’s cool because it’s not easy for us to do, and it’s something that Just for Laughs can make available but they’ve never done before. The two forces combined made this really neat, fun video. We come here, and Roman and I add our edginess and chaos that we do to their production.
Roman: The biggest difference between the collab is this is the first Just For Laughs video that’s funny [groups laughs].
Carlos: On our end we’ve got Roman and Dennis coming in and being part of the Gags way of filming. We do silent pranks with no real words, and there is like a laugh track and all that stuff, but in terms of difference, in terms of what we already do, it’s basically going to fit all our formula. The only thing is we’re a summer production company, so we don’t usually film during the winter. We’re usually in post-production and stuff like that, so it was sort of like one of my personal missions to get the machine back in here and get things going during the winter to create original content for the web. The thing is the Gags have always created content for TV, and we’ve repurposed that content on the web; this will be the first time ever that a prank will be made for the web by Just Laughs Gags.
How did you originally get into comedy?
Roman: Comedy started for me because I’m the funniest person on the planet, and I just had to do it. I had to fight for that dream. Pranks is like something natural that you’ve always done your whole life. Making people laugh is number one, and most people laugh after you’ve just prank them, and that is the best feeling. But pranks of YouTube we’ve just stuck with it. People ask for me, and we kept feeding them more.
Dennis: That’s the truth! I got into comedy as a kid. I’ve never really grown up; I’ve been a kid at heart and actually met Roman on Craigslist looking for a comedy troupe. He was doing sketch comedy at the time, so I was able to find him through that, and we started doing sketch comedy which grew into the pranks, which as you said earlier everybody loves to do a prank. I think most people like to have a little gag pulled on them or pull one on their friends. So spreading smiles — it’s contagious, I love to do it. The best part is the feedback from the people. We got guys that are in the army or the military, they’re wounded, they’re in the hospital, and I get these emails saying, “Hey man, I love watching your videos. I’m a wounded warrior, it’s a great way to pass the time. I love being able to show and introduce people who are here with me your videos ‘cause we all sit there and laugh about.” That’s amazing.
Carlos: As for me I’m the boring one in the room. I joined Just For Laughs about a year ago just to take over everything that was going out online. Building a community and answering questions wasn’t really being done before, and my mission internally is to push Just For Laughs into the 21st century and start being much more active on the web and create online content as opposed to repurposing content.
Why did you originally decide to start posting onto YouTube?
Roman: For us it’s been two and a half years. We started a video every single week, never went a week without uploading a video, and again it started with sketch comedy. It took us a year and a half to gain 40 thousand subscribers, and we were putting up videos every week while working full-time jobs. And then we asked our viewers if they wanted pranks, and they all said yes, so we did a prank and it was successful, and we did another prank that went viral. We were like, “Let’s keep doing pranks,” and then eventually it blossomed into a whole new world of being able to film for YouTube full-time.
What jobs were you guys originally doing before this?
Roman: I worked in a rope factory. My family owns a rope factory in Ohio, and I worked there for 12 years full-time. The YouTube thing has been a blessing.
Dennis: I was in the army for nine years, and then when I got out I couldn’t find a job so I worked at UPS, and I met Roman through Craigslist, and then I started working at the ropes factory with these guys. We’d be at the factory working, and at the same time we were working, we were talking about what kind of sketch comedy video we were gonna make that weekend. It was like an escape to do what we like to do, and we got feedback from YouTube and our viewers and stuff, and it was all positive so we kept doing it. And now we’re doing this.
What advice would you have for other comedians trying to get into YouTube and trying to set themselves apart?
Dennis: Consistency and just keep uploading, and don’t expect to be a “Gangnam Style” video. It’s a really slow start, and just be doing it for fun — that should be the initial reason why.
Roman: My advice is as long as you’re doing it, if you start YouTube for money I think that’s an instant fail, but if you can do it for fun I think the money will come if you’re doing it out of love — that’s how it’s been for us.
Carlos: I have to agree with the consistency. Also find your niche; find what you’re passionate about, and talk about what you’re passionate about, and just keep at it and listen to what your audience is saying. If they don’t like it, it can change and evolve, and try something new until it works. And also originality — there are a lot of people out there that are just hogging other people’s content, and you’re not going to be successful by just being copiers. Be authentic, love what you do again — same thing with us — do it for a passion, and it will come through and people will appreciate it.
What is a prank that never fails to make you guys laugh?
Dennis: Love the deceiving prank. Something so simple, the prank that someone looks at and goes, “Man! Why didn’t I think of that?” For example, our letter B prank it’s a beautiful prank, so simple. We have a letter B adhesive we get from a hardware store, and we put it on the back of somebody, and another guy comes up and says, “Oh my gosh, you have a large B on your back!” And the person flips out thinking it’s a bee, and then we pull the sticker off, “I got it, I got it,” and show them it’s the letter B, and they just laugh so hard, and they think it’s a regular B, so that kind of stuff is for me what I think is awesome.
Roman: I wrote this earlier he was actually reading off my paper. Just for Laughs makes the pranks that kill me. Their pranks are honestly what make me laugh. They make people go crazy and cannot figure out what just happened to them. Brilliant, good ideas, and the ones that make me laugh are the ones you’ve never seen before, so if someone puts out a prank, in the billions of videos on YouTube when you see something new on YouTube that really means a lot. That’s what we strive to do: never put up something that somebody thought of already, but always be original and funky fresh.
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