The winners of the last YouTube Sketchies contest have since gone on to fame and fortune — or, at least, full-time comedy production. So, after being handpicked by UTA Online agents and surviving audience voting, the 10 the Sketchies2 finalists are, needless to say, more than a little anxious. The winner is announced April 18th. In the meantime, we spoke to a few of the teams who’ve spent the past few weeks biting their fingernails and hassling their friends to go vote.
First up, FunBox Comedy! William Weissbaum, Matthew Roop-Kharasch and Paul Malewitz, like many participants, originated as a sketch team before branching out to video production. We spoke to the team via email about the brainstorming process, being recognized in grocery stores and men vs. tigers.
Photo credit: Heather Landis
NewTeeVee: What spurred you to sign up for the Sketchies?
FunBox Comedy: If you want a lot of people to see your material, YouTube is the place to do it. If you want to prove that you have the best comedy shorts on YouTube, you have to enter the Sketchies. We were chomping at the bit waiting for the entry rules to appear. The refresh button on our keyboard was completely worn out. (We have fancy keyboards with refresh buttons.)
NewTeeVee: What was your sketch for the first round of the competition about?
FunBox Comedy: Three friends head off on a spring break road trip to Daytona Beach. One of the guys decides to bring a bard along to sing of their adventures and their deeds! However, having someone sing about everything you are doing is not as fun as it sounds, and it doesn’t even sound that fun.
Bard Spring Break (Round 1 Entry)
NewTeeVee: What about it, do you think, attracted the attention of the UTA judges?
FunBox Comedy: With only three minutes to tell the story, we tried to focus on having a full arc for the video and characters that were quickly identifiable. We had a lot of fun showing the passage of time and how grating traveling with a bard might be. Also, there was a song about peeing.
NewTeeVee: What was your reaction to making it to the second round of the competition?
FunBox Comedy: We were actually hosting a live show that night, and the show almost had a “repeatedly checking the Sketchies website” theme, but thankfully for our audience, we went with 17th century dandy fops instead. We weren’t able to check until later, but once we saw the results it was high-five city!
NewTeeVee: How did you generate your idea for the second round sketch?
FunBox Comedy: We usually start with individual brainstorming time and come together and pitch our ideas to each other. We were in the process of doing that when we took a break and got into a traditional “who would win in a fight” conversation. Somehow the argument got down to man vs. tigers. Right when Paul was making an excellent point about claws, Matt stopped us and said, “This is a sketch.”
Astounding Tales of the Hunt (Round 2 Entry)
NewTeeVee: Did you already have the idea for a team of master hunters?
FunBox Comedy: The inspiration was from Masters of the Universe: The Motion Picture where four interdimensional mercenaries — Beastman, Sarod, Blade and Karg — hunt down Courtney Cox . We just replaced Courteney Cox with Paul.
NewTeeVee: What difficulties did you run into during production?
FunBox Comedy: One of the big problems was getting the wide shot in the cabin. The room wasn’t wide enough so we had to put the camera in the back yard and build a tent around it to block the light. That shot ended up being 5 seconds of the finished product. Plus, we had the usual fun of smiling at passing joggers as they watched us spray blood onto our actors.
NewTeeVee: What do you think of the videos you’re competing against?
FunBox Comedy: The quality of videos in this last round has really been surprising. When you compare the videos from the semi-finals to the finals, it really becomes obvious that everyone is bringing their A game (and spending more money). With $40,000 on the line, spending that extra $100 on a light kit doesn’t seem so crazy.
NewTeeVee: Has making it to the finals gotten you any additional exposure/attention?
FunBox Comedy: It really has. We were just made YouTube partners. We have been contacted by several online sites and magazines about providing content, and we were featured on G4TV’s Attack of the Show. Plus, Matt got recognized for the first time at a grocery store. He had no idea what to do. It was adorable!
NewTeeVee: Do you plan to use your newfound fame for good or evil?
FunBox Comedy: FunBox has been, and always will be, Chaotic Neutral.
NewTeeVee: What will you do if you win?
FunBox Comedy: First off, a sushi/karaoke party for all the people who were nice enough to help us pro bono. Then it will be back to work. The new equipment will really help bring to life all those ideas we have sitting in our “great idea stack.” Also, with $25,000 to spend on props and locations, it’s pretty safe to say that FunBox will be focusing mostly on period pieces.
NewTeeVee: What will you do if you lose?
FunBox Comedy: Pretty much the same thing. Replace sushi/karaoke with a BBQ at our place and then it’s on to making more videos. Equipment and money aside, FunBox is about writing and making films. That’s what we are going to continue doing.