Vork was bound to get his own show. Well, by that I mean the web needed more of the cerebral deadpan comedy of The Guild star Jeff Lewis. Thankfully, Lewis had made a few friends who know a thing or two about shooting web series after four seasons on one of the most popular scripted comedies online.
Teaming up with Guild director Sean Becker, Lewis birthed a series of sharp five-minute sketches that would feature a number of his comedy pals like Felicia Day, Alex Albrecht, Tom Konkle, Vince Caso, Robin Thorsen and Jamie Kaler.
The Jeff Lewis 5-minute Comedy Hour debuted back in October of last year with Guild-cast-heavy “Tag” kicking off the season. To date, it’s still the most popular in terms of views, netting just under 80,000 so far on YouTube. Throughout the season, 5-minute would push the comedy lines into mature corners, often slapping an NSFW warning before episodes like “Finacée” and Felicia Day’s guest starring spot in “Date“—which incidentally is one of the most popular.
Two new episodes (below) came out this week—”ATM” and “Office“—rounding out the first season:
Now Lewis, Becker and team are taking stock of where things stand and how to get their second season made—a familiar position for many indie web series creators. Should they hold up and pitch a major online distributor? Or keep calling in favors and keeping it lean? We asked director and producer Sean Becker where the show stands and whether we’ll see more 5-minute morsels this year.
Tubefilter: 12 eps are out now, which if I’m doing my finger counting correctly, adds up to a full hour of comedy. How was the reaction to the first twelve?
Sean Becker: The season was 10 episodes long, but we released two different versions of “Episode 2: Dinner” (the 2nd being a safe4work edition which replaces all of the swearing in a tongue-in-cheek manner) so technically we put out 11 sketches, but are counting the season as 10. The reaction so far has been great. We knew that a lot of Guild fans would be interested in seeing this side of Jeff’s humor and have responded well to it. Fortunately, we’ve also attracted fans outside of The Guild as well.
Tubefilter: “Tag” seems to be the fan favorite in terms of views, safe to say that was the most popular?
Becker: “Tag was the sketch we always wanted as the 1st episode. Out of all of them it seems to be the sketch that is best suited for a general audience. As the season goes on, some sketches are more NSFW than others so we wanted to kick off the season with a sketch that people would most likely pass around without any disclaimer.
Tubefilter: What would make you pull the trigger (or perhaps, the pin?) on Season 2? Is it a major distribution partner signing on, or just a healthy amount of cash?
Becker:We definitely want to do a season 2. Jeff already has the scripts and we’re going through them now to see which ones we want to shoot next. Problem is that these sketches are more elaborate then the ones featured in Season one, so we will be looking at funding options. Whether we try to get a distribution partner on board or we go through a kickstarter/indiegogo page is still undecided at the moment.
Tubefilter: Is this show expensive to shoot? Does it need to have a healthy budget to work, or can it stay lean?
Becker:We made this show entirely on calling in favors. Any money that was put into the show was out of our own pockets. Since the majority of season 1 was based on sketches that involved two people in a single setting, we were able to shoot these quickly and sometimes would shoot 2 episodes in a single day. We started shooting in November of 2009, so were able to pace ourselves both budget-wise and favor-wise. Thankfully we know a lot of awesome people who were willing to help us out.
Tubefilter: Are you pitching a TV version of this show around?
Becker: That’s not a bad idea. The Jeff Lewis Half Hour Comedy Hour, perhaps?
Tubefilter: Do you have a personal favorite episode? Hard to pick a favorite child, I know, but if one stands out…
Becker: I think “Fiancée” make me laugh the most. It’s such a ridiculous scenario between two “friends”. Plus Jeff and Tom Konkle just kill it in that sketch. The “Date” episode with Felicia Day also seems to be a fan favorite in addition to “Tag”.
“Date”: (with Felicia Day)
“Financée” (with Tom Konkle)