Sites like Break.com and eBaum’s World may have lots of publicity, but few comedy sites have more high quality, original content than CollegeHumor. Started in 1999 by two Baltimore-area high school friends, the site has grown rapidly, with 6 million unique users and 200 million unique page views per month. In between the articles, fake commercials, and viral videos sits the Hardly Working series, showing us the strange day-to-day lives of CH employees.
The show, which is released about twice a week (although it follows no definite schedule), is a loosely scripted, bare bones production, quite different from the intricately produced sketches and viral videos that CH is best known for. Said Dan Gurewitch, a senior writer for CH, “Hardly Workings are a different animal… They allow us to indulge our absurdist side, since we’re not necessarily aiming for them to be big viral hits.”
Tubefilter News had a chance to talk to Gurewitch and fellow senior writer Amir Blumenfeld, the latter famous for his “Prank War” with CH editor Streeter Seidell, and ask them a few questions about Hardly Working.
Tubefilter: How did the idea for Hardly Working come about? Why did you decide to make it into a series?
Amir: I’m not exactly sure. We’ve always been making short little videos around the office — just to amuse ourselves and our friends. I think it was a decision made by our boss to put some of these videos on CollegeHumor just to see how people would react to it.
Dan: Yeah, the first couple of Hardly Workings were under ten seconds long, just a quick visual joke. We realized pretty quickly that people saw the different, casual approach as a breath of fresh air, and also enjoyed “getting to know” the CH staff.
Amir: If people like the video I’ll go out and get dinner with them.
Dan: Incidentally, Amir hasn’t eaten in weeks.
TF: Is the response from viewers different for episodic content than for one-off videos and viral content?
Dan: It depends. Street Fighter: The Later Years was able to garner a pretty big, consistent audience, and I chalk that up to the relatable concept. Most series aren’t nearly as viral, Hardly Workings included, but HWs help our audience connect to us as people. Thanks to them, CH doesn’t feel like an anonymous brand.
Amir: It’s tough for episodic content to be viral as well because a lot of its appeal has to do with the series as a whole, rather than a singular quick hitting concept. I think the audience for series is more dedicated, but not as large as the audience for viral one-offs. It’s almost a quality vs. quantity thing and I think Dan would 100% agree with that broad generalization.
Dan: I’m working with Amir on not making assumptions about things he knows nothing about. Two steps forward, one step back.
Amir: Are you saying I know nothing about Hardly Working videos?
Dan: You were laid off three months ago.
TF: What is in store for Hardly Working in the future? Are the rumors that you’re working on something for MTV true?
Amir: We’re not at liberty to talk about that really, other than the show is going to be called “Viva La Dan.”
Dan: It’s a shot-by-shot, episode-by-episode remake of “The Grind.”
TF: Do you think that episodic web content will be big in the future, or do you think that it’s limited by the way we use the internet?
Amir: I think people’s internet attention span is increasing. We are seeing some semi popular videos that are longer than 2 minutes long, which is a good sign for web series over single viral hits.
Dan: Agreed. I think right now, series work best when they’re not serial — they have a consistent concept, but can stand alone. Most people don’t yet have patience to follow a continuing storyline on the web, but I think that will change as TV and the internet inevitably merge.
Amir: Ladies and gentlemen: WebTV! The internet ON YOUR TELEVISION!
Dan: Who are you talking to?
Amir: The future.