Interview: Sam Reich, director of CollegeHumor TV

MTV continues to dip its toes back into the waters of actual professional comedy (as opposed to the "reality" programming most viewers watch for laughs) this Sunday with the premiere of The CollegeHumor Show (9:30 p.m. Eastern). It has an initial six-episode order. What should we expect? I talked to Sam Reich, who runs CHTV and directs the show, to find out.

I take it the show came about through CollegeHumor's "Hardly Working"
series of original videos. When did you guys start producing "Hardly
Working" segments, anyhow, how did that come about, and when did you
realize that there might be something there that could be translated
and expanded into a full 22-minute TV show?
Hardly Workings began when we moved into our new office about a
year and a half ago.  The first one was called "Trust Fall."  It
consistent of Amir going up to Jake, saying "Do you trust me?", falling
backwards, and hitting the floor.  That's it.  Obviously there's a big
difference between a ten-second video and a twenty-minute TV show.
 While the TV show is like a Hardly Working, it's not a Hardly Working:
it's slightly more down-to-earth and character driven.

This is today's Hardly Working, btw:

How and why did you end up pitching MTV on it? Was the network's
previous relationship with the Human Giant guys an influence at all in
that decision? How do you think CollegeHumor's "reality" will fit in
with the rest of MTV's stable of "reality" programming?
MTV actually came to us with the skeleton of the
idea.  Originally the idea was to recycle the material we do on the
site and create little bumpers in order to turn it into a TV show.  In
other words, 90% old material, 10% new material.  Now it's 90% new
material, 10% old material, and a much better show.  Human Giant
definitely paved the way for comedy on MTV, but so did The State and
Beavis and Butthead.  In a way, comedy shows on MTV get more exposure
because they stand out against the network's other content.

Speaking of reality, it really looks like you guys have a lot of fun
around the office. I'm not normally a fan of lip dubs, but that
choreographed production of "Flagpole Sitta" really got me to start
paying more attention to you. So. How do you and
your coworkers manage to have fun in the office? And how would you
compare the CollegeHumor office to The Office?
The CollegeHumor Show isn't a reality show.  It's a
sitcom, a scripted comedy, whatever you want to say.  The only thing
that's real about it is that it's our actual office and the actual
people that work here.  Rather than that making it somewhat a reality
show, I think it simply adds to the charm of it being a scripted show.
 When you're watching "Friends," you know these people aren't actually
friends, but we are.  Except for me and Jake.  I hate that fucking guy.

More than a few stand-up comedians also are getting to play roles
within the CollegeHumor universe. Can you tell me who'll appear during
the first season, and how you ended up working with these comedians
In terms of comedians, Nick Kroll appears in the
first episode and is amazing.  We're using a ton of UCB folks: Doug
Mand, Andree Vermeulen, Curtis Gwinn, Violet Krumbein, Paul Downs, Adam
Frucci.  UCB is the pulse of comedy in New York.  There's no better
group of performers.  One episode features Josh Ruben, a member of my
comedy group Dutch West.  Josh is one of the funniest performers I know
and I'm thrilled to introduce him to the world.

Do you think the TV audience is ready for a CollegeHumor show that's
more about the folks who work at the company and less about all of the
other photos, videos and items that made CollegeHumor such a big
website in the first place? And how much have the "original videos" helped make viewers ready for that?
I think our audience is ready for this.  Over the
past few years, we've made painstaking efforts to transform the brand
from something chauvinistic and sophomoric into something smart and
interesting.  The show is an opportunity to complete that

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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