Written by Aileen Wexler, Special to CNN
In 2017, the popular online world of YouTube curates regular series from celebrated comedians. They are obviously very popular — they’re even licensed by, um, NBC — but few of them have had the lifespan and success of the House of Slay series on Laughing Squid, a popular YouTube channel that currently has more than 500,000 subscribers.
We caught up with the creators, Joe Nadel and Mac Conner, at the Tribeca Film Festival, where they were collecting their winners from the annual Music Video Makeover (MCM) competition they organized with Adidas to reward the best music videos featuring new rappers.
Here, they share their advice on aspiring comedy filmmakers.
Aileen Wexler: What are the things that impress you when you start making funny videos?
Joe Nadel: Using a cast. I don’t think we ever envisioned that in that big of a format. Having an ensemble has just been so enjoyable.
“I think there’s a really easy way to understand what your favorite comedians can do: consider those people “sneaky likable.” They do comedy that’s outside the box, that’s not your normal celebrity comedy. I think there’s a really easy way to understand what your favorite comedians can do: consider those people “sneaky likable.” They do comedy that’s outside the box, that’s not your normal celebrity comedy.
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Q: Why did you want to do these MCM competitions?
Nadel: I watched others do that and admired them. And I always wanted to do something like this, but I couldn’t.
That competition really took off a lot and did what it was supposed to do. It opened up the world of going in and being heard. We don’t have like this huge apparatus that we have to put into it and be prepared for. But one of the little things you don’t have to be prepared for is how people are going to take it.
Q: How do you think MCM has given you more creativity?
Nadel: I think it’s the freedom. The limitation is that if we do really well, we don’t have to win. It’s not a competition where you have to go to Hollywood, compete. We get to win. So we get to make more.
Q: Do you have a favorite MCM video?
Nadel: For the MCM I think the best video that we ever made was the one called “The House of Slay Tour” for “Black Paint.”
I think we really like it because it took a documentary of a group of high school kids talking about what they were trying to do — not the exact words that we used to describe what the one was. We might have used a different word.
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But we really liked the fact that we gave the skateboarding children a voice and space to tell the story themselves. It’s really funny.
Q: It’s always tough to have a new perspective. What do you think it is about “The House of Slay”?
Nadel: I think it’s the art of parody. It’s kind of the art of telling a story through words rather than just using animation. I think that’s why a lot of people watch it. We don’t do kiddie humor or silly humor; we make it really funny.