YouTube Prankster, Edbassmaster, Debuts Television Show

YouTube comedian and prankster, Ed Bassmaster, is debuting his new TV show on CMT this week.

Another YouTuber is moving to mainstream with “The Ed Bassmaster Show” premiering on Country Music Television (CMT) this Thursday, April 14, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Bassmaster is a YouTube comedian and prankster from Philadelphia, and has garnered a half-billion YouTube views featuring his alter egos like Skippy (the lovable yet annoying nerd who oversteps boundaries), Mumbles (unintelligible accent) and Teste (his low-IQ Philly cross-eyed dude).

Skippy is one of the dozens of freakishy funny characters played by Ed Bassmaster
Skippy is one of the dozens of freakishly funny characters played by Ed Bassmaster

Click to see the very funny trailer for the new Viacom show, which is produced by the folks who launched MTV hits like “Teen Wolf,” “Kesha: My Crazy Beautiful Life” and “The Andy Milonakis Show.”

This is one funny bastard and one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in the YouTube community. Nalts met the fellow prankster back in 2007, soon after he parodied me in a video. He later joined me in the YouTube Presidency as my VP running mate (or I might have ditched him for Winekone; I can’t be sure). And while shooting a documentary with Shaycarl at my house, we pranked him and watched him eat a worm. But few things amuse me more than the video he made of us called “Nalts Likes Dogs.” Feel free to sing along.

This article in the Guardian provides plenty more examples of how YouTubers are moving beyond the video-sharing site into television and film. It’s nice to see it happening to a humble and hysterical guy.

Possessed Baby Stroller Prank: Screamingly Good Viral Marketing

Hear a baby crying in a stroller in NYC? May want to let that pass. Could be a devil baby that contorts itself and pukes. In this particular case, it may be a robot designed by the folks at Thinkmodo for another horror film promotion (remember the Carrie telekinetic prank in a NYC coffee shop?). This one is to promote “Devil’s Due,” and in about 24 hours it’s past 15 million views (1/16 update: 26 million views in 2 days). That, friends, is viral.

It’s “Devil Baby Attack” and it’s taking YouTube by storm. I’m probably most impressed by the way I learned about this. On a phone call with my mom this evening. I guess I’ll have to call her more often.

Some feedback/thoughts:

  • The prank is beautifully executed from beginning to end. We’re shocked. Then we see behind-scenes. No wasted shot.
  • Excellent job on “seeding” it. There’s no way it would have been seen this many times — so quickly — without a smart promotion of the clip itself (bloggers, journalists, etc).
  • Given the 22K comments, I’d say the majority of the views are real views. When videos are “gamed,” you see a really low number of comments. Rough math: 22K comments divided by 15 million views is .0015 percent of viewers commented. With more programatic  stuff, you see a slightly better ratio. For instance a recent RWJ video got 200K views and 1,700 comments (.0085 percent).
  • I would love to see a bit more of the off camera laughs and the team behind it — It helps when the viewer has a chance to connect more with the creators. But it’s a horror film promo so I suppose you have to keep it somewhat dark and mysterious.
  • I’m glad we’re no longer concerned about making these appear non sponsored. The video’s end reveals it’s a promo. And if you’re gonna have a logo at the end, there’s no shame in providing a link to the movie site for Devil’s Due (www.devilsduemovie.com). This would drive traffic to the film site’s real trailers and almost invariably help convert more of these 15 million views into ticket-paying customers. Even better: give us a reason to hit the horror site. As long at the viral stunt is this good, we’ll forgive the plug at the end.

Finally, a note to Thinkmodo team: for the love of God people, I missed my invite to these productions. I’ll consult for free to see you guys pull the next one off. I’m one of YouTube’s most-viewed pranksters, an author of a book on viral video marketing, an advertising executive and a horror fan. And I can keep a secret. What else do you need? 

Thinkmodo created the robotic possessed baby to promote the film "Devil's Due."
Thinkmodo created the robotic possessed baby to promote the film “Devil’s Due.” Who’s missing from this shot, friends?

Weekly Prank Channel (pitch)

This is a rare post, and I’m not sure I should share this since someone may steal the idea. But I established this blog to “open source” what I’m learning as the only career marketer who is a prolific YouTube presence. Plus I think the idea is less valuable than the crafty execution.

Here’s my note to YouTube about a concept for a weekly channel that highlights the best pranks. Unlike my Nalts pranks or Edbassmaster or Jack Valet or PrankvsPrank, this would be American Idol meets MTV pranked with the mission of popularizing unknown prank creators. More importantly it would help curate the best pranks weekly in a way that doesn’t exploit the creator.

Thoughts welcome! 🙂

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kevin Nalty
Date: Thursday, May 5, 2011
Subject: Weekly Prank Show: win/win/win

Hey guys. For a while I’ve been planning on releasing weekly pranks on a specific day of the week (Wednesday), since
regular/consistant/predictable programming is becoming so vital on YouTube. Initially I was planning a “go solo” approach on the Nalts channel or on a new channel. But it’s a lot of work to produce a weekly prank, and there are loads of amateur pranksters like this one whose creator shared it with me via Twitter:

This “snake on fishing line” is hysterical (especially if edited down) and harmless, but won’t get likely views or repeat audience: Fishing Pole Snake Pranks

Solution? Create a win/win/win, where revenue is a 3-way split between a producer, me (host/promoter), and creators of harmless but funny pranks. I’m proposing this to YouTube to see if there’s still interest in custom content and programming. It might be a candidate for YouTube Next Whatever if that train hasn’t already left the station. Otherwise you may know of a producer that’s already working with you in a “share” model instead of “house takes all revenue, and host/creator gets a capped check per video.” Not fair.

Unlike MTV Pranked, this UBER PRANK YouTube channel would invite submissions from viewers, but be clear that they can’t be mean, dangerous, or legally risky (they must either get written/video releases by “victims” or blur them). That solves what MTV pranked wants (no liability for encouraging pranks). And we’re not talking about “kick friend in nuts,” but family-friendly “Candid Camera” style experiments that aren’t so damn overproduced (expensive) as some of the repeat failures on TV…

What’s In It For Key Players:

Audience:
• People like pranks, but the good ones are hard to find. With exceptions like Edbassmaster, few are producing regular prank content, and a lot of it’s just mean/stupid. Most pranksters also couldn’t do well as hosts.
• While MTV Pranked is clever, it’s too long-form and overproduced for YouTube. It’s also only mining for pranks instead of inviting new/fresh ones.http://www.youtube.com/user/cutewinfail is a nice model, where AFV producer Vince DeBono? joined Sxephil and Tobuscus- popular YouTube web stars who know the medium and promoted it.
• The target would be teens AND parents… Like “Farting in Public,” it would appeal to the child in all of us.

Amateur Pranksters:
• They’d get their pranks seen in ways they couldn’t do alone
• They’d get either cash or rev-sharing in ways not possible today… avoiding the AFV model where they release it exclusively and lose downstream rights or upside. That’s clearly not creator friendly (imagine if “David at Dentist” had gone that route… no upside). There would be absolutely NO “exclusive” requirements, and ideally a model that rewards the creator if the video POPS. The creator would give non-elusive rights and ensure ownership of content and releases.
• The channel wouldn’t hide the creator. … they’d get links to their own channel and maybe develop their own following. Maybe the sub box features all contributors.

Host/Director (me):
• I’d love to feature new/emerging creators to help get their stuff seen. I’d position it more “ImprovEverywhere” than “PrankvsPrank,” which is funny as heck but a bit edgy for advertisers or parents.
• I could provide fun commentary and help edit the submissions down so it moves FAST like RayWilliamJohnson, CuteWinFail, etc. I can promote the channel via links from my top pranks, and this would also help me keep “Nalts” from going from Renetto to Mr. Pregnant.

Producer (or YouTube’s Next)
• They’d get 1/3 revenue for simply keeping the channel consistant, helping ID pranks, and overseeing the channel voice (with my active participation). I’d promote the show via my popular pranks and Nalts channel, but the producer would help with logistics and ensuring that we’re planning ahead for key holidays and recent buzz topics.
• They could also license the content for use beyond YouTube. I just want to ensure that creators aren’t themselves “pranked” by signing away rights for a small check and no upside.

YouTube:
• High-demand content that can be monetized (because we’d avoid pranks that are dangerous or mean… thus not “safe” or perceived safe by advertisers). You could provide it some love via spotlight… to help jump start it

Let me know if you’re interested! I always liked The Onion’s predictable release on Wednesday (a less competitive day for video releases, but easy to remember). Of course I’m also thinking that branding it “Prank Xday could be strong (and arguably critical) at the beginning, but potentially rate limiting if it grows into a larger format.

Nalts

What’s the Best YouTube Prank Channel?

Where are the best pranks on YouTube? I’m partial to amateurs, so I’d say my favorite YouTube Partner pranksters are Edbassmaster (just look at this) and Jack Vale. I also spent much of the weekend binging on the epic battle between girlfriend and boyfriend on PrankvsPrank (the modern Spy vs. Spy). Prank vs Prank’s “Wet T-Shirt Prank Gone Wrong” is my favorite, and it makes me squeal with laughter.

If you like more commercially produced content, however, here’s one you might not have discovered. JustForLaughsTV are short and mostly physical-comedy pranks (read: international potential). The apparently French Canadian show has been posting a few new pranks each morning lately, and its YouTube channel is at under 70K subscribers… I’d predict that to be at 300K plus in months. A nice player on the hahaha.com website displays many of the micro pranks.

They’re far from subtle, mind you. They each feature dangerously campy music, a laugh track and almost insulting pantomime explanation of the prank to viewers (which to me steals some thunder). But the tight editing and great tight shots of the “victims” is rewarding. And even if you don’t like the old goatee man’s “theater like” acting, you’ll dig the brunette who pops up occasionally wearing yellow.

What the channel reminds me is the criticality of explaining a prank (like we did in “Farting in Public” but failed to do in “Itchy Butt Prank“). I like to plunge people into an awkward scene, but the viewers generally want to be “in” on the prank… and what might seem obvious to the creator is not to the viewer.

Laughing is a cue that works even if it’s a laugh track. The off-camera muffled giggles in “Farting” make an audience feel more like a participant than a distant viewer (this was quite an accidental discovery and I’m reluctant to “force” it). You’ll notice EdBassmaster has a giggler in the car for his “Just Look At It Prank,” and her laughter makes it genuinely funnier. The best part of “Prank vs Prank” is the maniacal laugh of the couple when they’ve powned the other. Watch this “Girlfriend Wears Mario Pube Prank” and listen at 1:28 to Jesse and 1:46. The breathless spasms of laughter contrasted with his girlfriend’s scream is hysterical.

Prankster be warned, however… a forced laugh is very detectible and toxic.

Pranks follow predictable format and require no language skills (or brain)

Scary Snowman Prank

RIPFilms with the ScarySnowman series. Very funny reactions.

At the risk of appearing unintentionally racist, I’d observe that African Americans seem far more prepared to kick ass on pranks like these. For further evidence, observe the well-dressed midget in the suitcase at the bus stop (can’t seem to find it), or the Halloween prank (where a pumpkin-wearing scarecrow gets his ass kicked).

iPad Parodies (MadTV & Hitler)

It was absolute torture to be spending 3 hours on my 1-hour commute (snow) and not having the time to parody the iPad. So many thoughts, and no time to make a video.

But I took solace in finding that MidnightBlade created this brilliant parody of Hitler’s response. The Hitler parodies are not new, and have not “jumped the shark” for me yet. If they’re well written, the joke gets funnier like wine ages.

After you watch that, check out the Feb 2007 MadTV skit below that predicted the name about 5 years ago

Of course any tampon/pad gags should note that MadTV hit this in September 2007 (source Washington Post Comic Riffs). Even CNN found the MadTV gag newsworthy. See the video (after enduring a 30-second preroll). “I can hook my iPad to my peach.” So glad CNN alerted me to the fact that #iTampon was hot on Twitter, and that MadTV is making a come-back five years later. The writers and actors of the MadTV skit ask, “are there now women at Apple, or are they so nerdy they don’t menstruate?”

Doesn’t it feel like all these parodies are just helping Apple market? Indeed we’ll soon grow decensitized to the connotation, but we’ll remain dissappointed that the iPad didn’t give us all the things Web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis‘ prank claimed (see Gawker/Valleywag to learn about how his absurdly unbelievable prank claims drifted into real news reports).

Times Squares Hijinks

I wrote about Jessica Kurson recently, and yesterday spent the afternoon with the nationally-known Comedian in NY City (Times Square). I don’t think I’ve had this much fun making a video in ages, and I’m certain this was my finest hour in NYC ever. Subscribe to her here.

NBC’s Ann Curry Joins ImprovEverywhere Prankers in “I Love Lunch” Musical

Ann Curry joined in a “spontaneous” musical about lunch at Trump Tower, and the ImprovEverywhere team worked with NBC to capture the fantastic moment in “I Love Lunch! The Musical.”  Watch the Today Show coverage of the event and see some fantastic photos by visiting ImprovEverywhere.com.

The bit borrows heavily from my favorite ImprovEverywhere clip “Food Court Musical,” but gives me goosebumps anyway. Charlie Todd’s mission is to to bring people a fun, harmless, interesting moment. And their reactions bring a wonderful richness to the experience. 5 of the largest stars possible.

I met Todd last year, and have remained puzzled why this format couldn’t substantiate an incredible 30-minute television show. It’s simply brilliant.

You may also like the Grocery Store Musical. “They turned life into a musical,” says a bystander. Could we ask for more?