At 23, Jake Hurwitz is already a web comedy veteran. As one half of College Humor’s long running Jake and Amir series, Hurwitz has found himself at the center of a New York comedy powerhouse and starring himself in a slew of CH originals including Hardly Working and its TV adaptation—MTV’s The CollegeHumor Show.
This summer he was even tapped to host the second season of MySpace’s game show BFF, which despite some questionable view counts, managed to work out to a pretty nice deal for Hurwitz in his first series outside the vaunted walls of College Humor.
We caught up with the Connecticut native-turned-Brooklyn-local Hurwitz for a little tell all into just what it means to be a successful young comedy writer coming of age on the internet. That, and what to make if this BFF series.
Tubefilter: How do you describe BFF if you’re trying to tell a friend of yours that’s never seen it?
Jake Hurwitz: I guess I’d describe it as it’s kinda just a game show where you test how well you know your best friend by answering questions about each other. It’s not like the dating game but I think I would just I would say it’s the dating game for friends.
Tubefilter: Is it mostly girls who watch the show?
Hurwitz: Yeah I think it’s definitely got a large female audience…which is good for me.
Tubefilter: So is BFF the first time you’ve been hired to do a series outside of the College Humor clan?
Hurwitz: Yeah. It’s the first time I’ve been tapped on the shoulder to do anything that wasn’t frat boy humor, which is you know, I’m not knocking it. It’s my bread and butter. I love it. But it was definitely something that was out of my wheelhouse to do a game show geared mostly towards teenage girls.
Tubefilter: Would you do another season?
Hurwitz: I don’t know. I guess it would probably depend on what I was doing at College Humor. But yeah I mean I had a great time. Ah all the contestants were incredibly nice. The entire crew that worked BFF was like just wonderful people. We filmed, I think it was 24 episodes in three days. So we like became fast friends and I mean I loved to hang I’d love the opportunity to work with those people in any capacity.
Tubefilter: Switching gears for a minute, how about The CollegeHumor Show, do you have any updates on the status of the show with MTV?
Hurwitz: Yeah. I think it’s still officially not picked up, officially not cancelled. But I think at this point it’s been almost a full year you know over a year since we started actually shooting the show. I think we’re like we’d aren’t, we stopped holding our breath for a second season. I think we’re kinda focusing on branching out to doing other things like we’re pitching another TV show.
Tubefilter: Interesting. But what about web series? Being someone who’s been on the web for a while and broken out as one of its comedy stars—do you think in a couple of years that it won’t even matter, you won’t even think about going into TV because there’ll be enough ad dollars to support a pretty good living?
Hurwitz: Yeah, I don’t know. It really doesn’t make much sense. Cause I feel like even if we did get on TV I’d I’m sure most people would watch our show on the Internet still. You know they’d be downloading it or watching it on Hulu. I guess what’s gonna happen is the line is gonna become so blurry that you don’t know when you’re watching TV or Web anymore. And the trick is just gonna be someone needs to figure out how to make money on the Internet.
Tubefilter: Agreed, so it that going to be you?
Hurwitz: I think my, my whole plan is just to keep on writing comedies or whatever people give me, give me the opportunities to write comedy for. And if it’s TV, awesome, if it’s the Internet, awesome. If it’s a movie, really awesome.
Tubefilter: There was talk of a movie out of of College Humor a years ago with the guys from The Office writing it, is that still happening?
Hurwitz: Yeah. They did. They wrote a really funny script. I think it’s that whole, that whole thing happened you know like above my head. But I know that there’s a script. I read it. It’s very funny and I think they’re looking for the right people to produce it or maybe they may have found a production studio and they’re, they’re just kinda waiting for you know updates on the script or actors or money, something. But it’s definitely I think it’s on College Humor’s radar to be a presence in film and stuff as well as the Internet.
Tubefilter: College Humor sounds like a pretty good ecosystem to create in. But have you pitched or created any web originals outside of that sphere?
Hurwitz: No, I haven’t. I think College Humor is like you said, a great environment and it’s like very conducive to the way me and all my friends work. And I think also it’s since it’s been growing so much we are, we’re writing over 50 videos a month for College Humor. And we don’t even have time to branch out. But it’s definitely something that all of us want to do.
Tubefilter: That begs the question is like are you a writer, are you an actor, are you is it, is it too hard to even put a label on it?
Hurwitz: I don’t know what I am. I’m definitely not a good actor. When I came to College Humor I was a writer and then we just kinda fell into this making videos thing. And then we all became characters playing ourselves. So you know I’m definitely I’m on camera now. But I think mainly like my main passion has always been writing and I don’t think I’d be having as much fun acting if I weren’t acting out you know what the words I’d written.
Tubefilter: Do you ever find you have to pull back in terms of content for sponsors?
Hurwitz: I don’t think we ever have to find ourselves pulling back. But we do when we know when we’re writing for a sponsor and we’ll like go into that knowing ah you know there’s certain things we can’t say and do. I think that writing for ad sponsors is a totally separate challenge. But it hasn’t inhibited the creative process at all.
Tubefilter: Is Jake and Amir a sponsored show? Or is it just this a series within broader College Humor sponsored realm?
Hurwitz: It’s definitely much it’s definitely it’s own thing. We have, we have done sponsored Jake and Amir’s before but they’re not usually sponsored the same way. Where I think for Hardly Working we’ve had to you know write a video for TGI Fridays, whereas Jake and Amir we have written, we wrote these little puppet videos for Jeff Dunham’s Comedy Central premiere.
They made these really awesome puppets of me and Amir. So any time we’ve they’ve asked us like sell out a little bit we’ve like gotten something in return that can actually make the videos better rather than dumbing them down, which is I think is a fear with most sponsored videos.
Tubefilter: There’s so much of it now, lots of sponsor RFP’s going out to create web series and videos.
Hurwitz: Yeah. We get a lot of them. But I hope that’s now how people decide to make money on the Internet cause those videos are never that funny.
Tubefilter: Yeah. Wait, do you guys have like a mantra or sort of a mission for your comedy at all?
Hurwitz: Man. That’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t think we, we definitely don’t have any phrase that we repeat. But I think we know like our best pieces are short and sweet. They usually focus on one joke. Our director of original content called that The Game, which I think is a UCB term. Says like all of our sketches are supposed to have one game. You know one central joke that we hit hard and get out before two minutes is up.
Tubefilter: What do you think about the Hulu effect, with online viewers getting a taste for longer videos? Are you finding episode lengths getting longer or are you keeping them tight for comedy?
Hurwitz: I think our audience is coming from YouTube rather than Hulu. I mean Hulu’s definitely doing its own thing and they are it’s great. Like transitioning longer form stuff to online but I think we’re still being affected too much by the YouTube crowd. Our people still have ADD. Maybe eventually we can get into some longer form stuff, which would be great.
Tubefilter: Who do you watch out there? Are there any that you notice that are just innovating or doing something pretty cool that you like?
Hurwitz: There are a lot of sketch groups that make stuff I like. One that stands outs is Front Page Films—Pete Holmes, Matt McCarthy and Oren Brimer—they’re, they’ve consistently make really funny, short, punchy, and relevant videos.
Tubefilter: What about scripted web series, any at all that have caught your fancy?
Tubefilter: Are you training at all though? Is there, are you, are you in classes there or is it just for performance?
Hurwitz: No, but College Humor has a live UCB Comedy show every month in New York where me and Amir usually do a bit. I can never do improv—I’m already fucking terrified when me an Amir have to perform for 10 minutes. God I can’t even imagine going up there without a script.
Tubefilter: Is Amir freaked out too?
Hurwitz: No. Amir’s into it—he’s a performer by nature. I’m a performer for like my best friends back home, but when I don’t know somebody I’m I usually get pretty shy. The UCB shows are fucking terrifying man.
Tubefilter: What’s next up for you?
Hurwitz: We’re just ready to be making a lot more of Jake and Amir videos. We just went on we did a Miami series on location in Miami, which is kind of like an adventure. I think we want to do more—maybe not a six part series like that Miami one cause it got a little long. But like we want to do more traveling and like bigger videos with a full College Humor original budget to hire actors and get a location and make like a really cool Jake and Amir [episode] once every month or two.
Tubefilter: How about your Jake and Amir audience, do some videos spike in terms of views, or is it pretty consistent across the board?
Hurwitz: I think it’s you know it’s pretty consistent. Definitely some videos do better than others. But I think the we kind of have developed a core audience and I don’t know how we managed to do it but we got we developed characters. We have almost 300 videos now. So I think that the people who like Jake and Amir are gonna like as long as we stay true to the characters and show development and keeping it funny we don’t have to, we don’t have to worry about those big viral like “is it Diggable?” and are people gonna pass it around stuff like some of the other people have to worry about.
Tubefilter: Do you think the choice of being on Tumblr has a lot to do with just recurring reminders of people that you have new shows out or you have to send out?
Hurwitz: Definitely. Yeah. I think starting on Vimeo, which is where we originally posted videos, it has a great built in community. And then [we moved to] Tumblr when so few people were on it and now it’s so massive. I think that like growing both those communities definitely helped ah give us a pretty awesome head start.
Tubefilter: If you could put a finger on the Tumblr audience, what would you say it is?
Hurwitz: I don’t know. There, I guess everybody’s just everybody has a love and an appreciation for the Internet and being quirky. And I think that’s kinda what Jake and Amir is about too. It’s, it’s definitely quirky and it’s on the Internet. So it’s perfect for Tumblr.