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  1. By Brett Shollenberger

    Brett Shollenberger is a comedian and sustainability analyst in Boston, MA.

    The YouTube generation is a generation with a strange, often unfilled promise: the promise that we will see kids with dreams grow into legitimate artists before our eyes. We’ll watch them fumble and try concepts that don’t work. We’ll cheer when they succeed, finally, at getting the formula right.
    It’s exhilarating now to see old clips of Seth Rogan performing stand-up at age thirteen for the same reason it used to be (and still is in some circles) exhilarating to read Jane Austen’s juvenilia and letters. But there’s a more interesting promise in the generation that brought us Donald Glover and Bo Burnham: the promise that the breadth of artist’s work that we’ll have access to will greatly surpass the carefully curated releases of Cassandra Austen. And this promise is the reason you should watchJohn & Kyle Do Everything.

    The final episode of John & Kyle Do Everything, a comedywebseries you’ve never heard of, finally delivered on the series’ premise. No, not its premise that John & Kyle would do everything—although they apparently managed to do everything in a mere five episodes, including curing cancer and amending the Constitution to outlaw boy-girl sleepovers, according to the final installment’s arc. The final episode delivered on its more important premise that it would be a funny webseries about two neverheardofs that do everything.    

    Which is to say it wasn’t a funny webseries for its first four episodes, at least not to a popular audience, which is actually a very discerning body. It wasn’t a bad webseriesand it wasn’t devastatingly avant garde. It was the worst thing of all: just okay. There’s a reason Drake calls Take Care his sophomore album on the closing line of The Ride—he may have made a mean mixtape with Wayne, but it wasn’t his first “real” effort and he certainly doesn’t want you to remember Degrassi. There’s a reason John Horan, who’s just scored an internship at CollegeHumor (jelly), probably won’t ever reference back to John & Kyle, much less the weekly television show he made in high school(The Dude Show)The reason is that John and Kyle (and Drake) have proven now that they know how to make something that’s fucking good, so why should they ever reference back to the things that were just okay?

    Because you can see how they did it, how they grew, and how they fucked up. That’s why.

    Comedy is funny. Setups with potential fall flat without proper timing, and epic-length monologues with epic conclusions can no longer keep an audience’s attention-deficit attention span. YouTube rants are defined by cuts not between ideas or sentences, but words themselves, possibly because the nonstars of the medium can’t be bothered to get a single take right. Learning to keep this new pace is one of the challenges of working in the medium today.

    John and Kyle’s final episode mimics YouTube’s breakneck pace while still managing to drag out the long awkward pauses of real life for comedic effect. It finally sees the pair keeping pace with the old sitcom standby five-jokes-a-minute in the running dialogue, while I can’t count a single ‘joke’ in the rest of the series (besides maybe “This is what hookers feel like” or the word handjobs being thrown around a lot). The episode’s strange, high-intensity plot points (John is tied up by his douchey, womanizing roommate Brad in a makeshift interrogation chamber; Kyle and “friend” Jagartim (sp?) are wrapped up in a high-speed Hyundai Sonata-against-the-clock race) are acceptably skeletal and made enjoyable by the line-by-line humor—these are just the frames for the jokes to fit into a la theseveral 3-7 minute plots that make up a single episode ofFamily Guy or The Simpsons.

    The final episode of John & Kyle is good. It’s clean. It’s paced well and it doesn’t make you check the progress bar to see how much more you’re going to have to watch. The rest of the series is descalatingly so, basically in reverse order, and that’s okay because each installment improves, and it’s exciting to watchFrom the first episode, it’s apparent that creators John Horan and Kyle Vorbachpossess a technical prowess (the production’s always been on par with CollegeHumor and Funny or Die), but something about it just doesn’t seem right until the final installment.

    The first episode is equally grand in scale when compared to the finale (in a perhaps more microcosmic way: douchebag Brad manages to achieve YouTube fame as the ‘Buttsniffers Guy’), but the bits you’ll actually lol at in the first episode (if you do in fact alol) are cheap ad hominem laughs at John Horan’s belly bouncing around in a tight red shirt, not the “now that’s good writing” laughs you’ll get in episode five. Other premises seem based around a single joke the writers wanted to squeeze in at any cost (not that starting a religion called Chlamydia is a bad premise; it’s actually a great one, but its major payoff seems to be hearing a dumb blonde say John and Kyle gave herchlamydia). More often than not, the show’s sparse dialogue devolves to the show’s primary guilty pleasure: Looking pretty. These early episodes are essentially exercises in various film and television styles spliced together like a game of Russian RouletteBut along the way the timing improves, the premises show greaterpotential, and the writing evolves from “talking about doing something” (John and Kyle spend 10 minutes talking about making a YouTube video they show a 10 second clip of) to “doing something” (John and Kyle spend 20 minutes racing between plot points and telling jokes: now that’s good comedy). The jokes steer away from their earlier, less mature preference for over-the-top silliness and move into a more honest territory for honest, rewarding laughs (Brad and anonymous girl #407 being interrupted in a movie theatre by a guy that just wants to hear the movie because he doesn’t have much else going for him).  

    Maybe I watched every episode of John and Kyle because I’ve known John Horan was funny since we worked together at a miniature golf course when he was fourteen years old, or maybe it was because we’ve bombed together at open mic comedy clubs. It certainly was because I hoped deep down that I would see him be one of the few people on the Internet to fulfill the promise of the YouTube generation. And he did it. And you should watch it.Because this kind of dedication doesn’t get caught on film often.  

    Check out the show here:

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