Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy Anniversary Part 6: Comedy that Makes You Think

In the beginning of 2014, the big question on my mind was: "What am I doing"? The streak, which I had been on at the end of 2013, had taken aside to training a new puppy. Wanting to be back on that streak, I tried to upload videos as much as I could. I uploaded a video, featuring a character named, Professor Glenn Robbins, whom I felt was inspired by Carrie Brownstein of "Portlandia", which I had been watching on Netflix at the time.

But, after that, things were a bit downhill. I just didn't know what to do. I wanted to go full time with J-Dubb's Theatre. I wanted to eventually create an enterprise of some sort, like Phillip DeFranco had done. But I didn't know how to market J-Dubb's Theatre. I was getting next to no new subscribers, my audience wasn't growing at all, and it was very frustrating. I still had fewer subscribers than I had before the subscriber purge of 2012. I knew how to market things, and I was pretty good at coming up with marketing ideas for other people's product, but I just couldn't figure out how to market J-Dubb's Theatre. I thought about different niches that I could try. I wondered if I should do something other than comedy or if I should start a new channel and retire J-Dubb's Theatre. I wondered if I should continue YouTube at all, or focus on something else. I wanted to progress somehow at something.

Meanwhile, there was just so much I wanted to do. I had all this passion bottled up and about to explode. I wanted to do...  EVERYTHING!! I wanted to try every restaurant, travel everywhere, visit every house I drove by, meet the people who lived there and see what it was like inside, I wanted to landscape, I wanted to study everything and learn everything, and the list goes on.

In the Summer, I made a video in which I requested help for growing my audience, and voicied my frustration. It was the first time I had ever done such a thing, but I decided it was time to put it out there. Many people were surprised to learn that my audience wasn't growing. I decided to really have fun with this video, and I did. It was the first time, since the beginning of the year, that I really felt like I had put out a fun video. At the end, I stated a specific subscriber goal that I wanted to meet.

Later, as I was editing this video, I noticed Spenser chewing on something. He had been chewing for a while, and I hadn't really thought about it. But, at that moment, I looked over, and realized that he had gotten a hold of the J-Dubb's Theatre pipe. The iconic pipe, which had represented J-Dubb's Theatre for so many years, was now ragged with unfinished wood showing through the chew marks. I wasn't sure what to do: just leave it as is, go to a pipe-shop and look for a similar one, or maybe discontinue using it, as J-Dubb's Theatre was a changing thing, anyway. In the end, I decided to make a video about repairing it, in which I travel to Japan to recover the necessary items, and then sand and stain it. Now, the pipe is a little shinier, and the patterns on it are a little different. Some of the chew marks were worked into the preexisting pattern.

VidCon was coming up. I had decided on two things. Number one: the previous year, I had regretted not being social enough, and felt I had missed out on some things, such as meals with other YouTubers. Number two: I was gonna promote the hell out of J-Dubb's Theatre.  I filmed a video about how to bring back the dinosaurs. Much like "The Network Series", years previously, this was another failed promotional attempt. I had planned to set this as the featured video on my channel, and then print up fliers about, "how you may see dinosaurs in your lifetime" which I would leave around VidCon, directing people to my channel.

I didn't get any of these fliers printed out on time. Goal number two was a bust, but number one was not. As soon as I got there, I ran into LaneVids, and met some new people including BusVlogger and TheWackyChels. We met up with a group of people, and had lunch together. I had barely gotten there, hadn't even checked into my hotel yet, and I was already having the social experience that I wanted. I then proceeded to make the best VidCon video ever made, in which I am on a wildlife safari, documenting YouTubers. I also spent time exploring Annaheim and the Downtown Disney area, and taking Instagram pics.

Towards the end of the year, something began to...  click. It began when I posted a video lamenting about the end of Summer, in which I declare war on the Fall. I had done a similar video the previous year, while I was on my streak. Revisiting this seemed to put me back into that same mindset. I was back on that streak, cranking out videos, and having a lot of fun with it. I was once again making videos that I felt good about. I began to hone in on a sort of formula, which allowed me to make simple videos, but still put in the effort and creativity which I enjoyed.

This streak continued into the next year, and that's when things started to come together. One thing I considered was: did it really matter if I did J-Dubb's Theatre full time? I wanted to continue making videos for the same reason  in which I had began in the first place. I enjoyed being a part of the YouTube community. I didn't have to be a full time vlogger to do this. I already was this, and had been for quite some time. It would still be nice, but it doesn't have to be my only option.

At that time, I began to find my niche. One thing I've often seen in the comments of my videos, is: "that made me think." I'm in my head a lot. Sometime's in the past, I had found it difficult to concentrate on a comedy idea, because I was working something in my mind that I just couldn't veer away from.

I didn't have any desire to "be a comedian" or to "do comedy." There were other things I wanted to focus on. I wanted to inspire. I wanted to provoke thought. I liked studying psychology, philosophy, science, and history. I wanted to explore things such as conceptualization, and human consciousness. But I enjoyed using comedy. It's not me, if I don't involve comedy, and a bit of snark. I realized that this is my niche.

Almost as soon as I had this realization, I started gaining subscribers again. Finally, after three years, I made my way back up to my subscriber count from the beginning of 2012, and it's continued rising. As I write this, I'm only 15 away from the goal I stated in 2014. Soon, I will need a loftier goal.

I finally printed out business cards for VidCon. I decided to include the tagline, "comedy that makes you think". As I began to formulate this idea, I began describing J-Dubb's Theatre as "educational", but I decided to veer away from that. There are some channels which focus purely on teaching facts. My videos include educational facts, but they are more about interpretation. My channel is more about exploring ideas.

Looking at my videos from the end of 2014, through 2015, there have been times when I've been on a streak, and times when I had to, well... take some time. But, every video I've posted during this time period makes me think , "that was a fun one." I did not jump the shark. I grew to the next level. I just needed to take the time to figure out what that meant.

In 2005, I was a student studying Psychology, because I wanted to explore the things which create what we experience. I started a blog. I dropped my psych major. My blog became a YouTube channel. In 2015, I make YouTube videos about exploring the things which create what we experience.

See you next time. J-Dubb out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Anniversary Part 5: VidCon

The Beginning of 2012: I was a YouTube partner. I had adjusted to my work schedule, and resumed uploading videos on a regular basis. The old blog which was the origin of J-Dubb's Theatre, however, sat unused. The things I would have blogged about in the past, went to Facebook or Twitter, if not the topic of a video. I focused largely on video responses. My favorite videos to create had always been video responses. They gave me an avenue with which to engage with the YouTube community, hearkening back to an older time when a "vlog" was typically a part of a conversation with other YouTubers, and not just a self-contained web-show. Plus, it was a way to get recognition from other YouTubers and expand my audience.

On that note, my audience was expanding very slowly, if at all. The subscriber boom I experienced in 2010 had ended in the Fall of that year, just as suddenly and mysteriously as it had begun. I had come to see the Summer as prime time for engaging and growing an audience, and the Fall as "too late". This is a large reason for my later disdain of the Fall. Then, the first "subscriber purge" happened. YouTube introduced an algorithm to clear out subscribers whose accounts had been inactive for a certain amount of time. Since my subscriber base went back five years, a lot of old accounts were purged, and my count dropped significantly. This was a bit discouraging.

When I began seeing advertisements for VidCon 2012, something occurred to me. For many years, ever since the beginning of my involvement with YouTube, I had wanted to go to a YouTube gathering, and meet other YouTubers face to face. In the past, I had seen this as an impossibility because I was either a broke student, or a struggling freelancer. I now had a steady stream of income. I could do this.

That Summer, I attended my first VidCon. The first day, I spent most of the time going to panels. I saw YouTubers such as Phillip DeFranco, Shay Carl, and Kassem G. in person for the first time. It was surreal, but I wasn't really meeting or hanging out with anyone like I had wanted to do for so long, so I went to bed feeling a little ho-hum about the whole thing.

The next day, however, was one of the highlights of my life. That morning, I just decided to go out there, be J-Dubb of J-Dubb's Theatre, and have fun reporting on the whole thing. Energized, I ran into Sean Klitzner... only I had never heard of him, and mistook him for Toby Turner. Then, my friend, Peter of Journey of Life Vlogs showed up. We met in person for the first time, then went and hung out in the expo hall. That's when I began running into people left and right. I met Cory "Mr. Saftey" and Katers17, Greg Benson, Lamar Wilson, and Tay Zonday. And, I met some new people, such as Epoddle and Cullen and Katie.

The highest point, was having Greg Benson of Mediocre Films, Husband of Kim Evey who produces the "The Guild" and "Geek and Sundry", and works with Felicia Day and Will Wheaton, who have played characters in several TV shows, act just as starstruck to meet the guy from J-Dubb's Theatre.

Having been to a YouTube event, I felt legitimized. I was now becoming a recognizable face beyond my videos. I felt so proud to add my VidCon video to J-Dubb's Theatre history. All those blog posts and videos from so many years, and now this was a part of it. This is when it occurred to me that maybe I could do J-Dubb's Theatre professionally. Actually, it had occurred to me years before, when I was a blogger involved with Portland Media. But now, I decided that maybe I could be a professional YouTuber... except... I had no idea how to make that happen... 

I began focusing exclusively on video responses. Each of my videos were as elaborate as possible, and two of them took several weeks to finish. But, most of the YouTubers I responded to didn't even notice. I didn't know how to grow my audience, and I was struggling to get my videos out in time.

In December, either through Twitter, or Cort Webber's Facebook page, I saw an announcement that the Cort and Fatboy show was ending. This was advertised with a poster which read "Cort and Fatboy is Dead." They broadcast their final show from the Baghdad Theatre. Since Cort and Fatboy had played such a big part in J-Dubb's Theatre history, I decided it would only be fitting to blog about this. As I wrote my article, I came to a decision: since The Cort and Fatboy Show was so intertwined with this blog...  even the very creation of this blog... and since I no longer used this blog, I decided that the end of the Cort and Fatboy Show would signify the closing of the blogging era of J-Dubb's Theatre.

By the end of 2012, I had a lot on my mind. Just a few months ago, I'd had all this ambition. But, I wasn't really sure who I was on YouTube anymore. I wasn't the same person who started making videos almost six years ago. I didn't have the desire to make the same sort of content that I did as a 20-something. Would people still find me entertaining, or would I alienate my audience who subscribed for "the old J-Dubb"?

In 2013, I continued to struggle to post a weekly video, as all my ideas seemed to be extravagant.  I created a music video called El Pollito J-Dubb Here, which took over a month to produce. While it was fun, I couldn't expect to post such involved videos on a weekly basis. I uploaded a Draw My Life video, at the end of which, I announced that I would be doing simple vlogs from then on, no more video responses, and only occasionally a full cinematic work. In the beginning, this was a relief, and felt like a return to the 2010 boom. But I wasn't really putting together videos that I felt were fun or enjoyable.

I started to go through a bit of a life crisis, where I didn't really know what I was doing. I wanted to get out of my current job as soon as possible. I wanted to progress somehow, but I didn't know how. I liked the idea of being a professional YouTuber, but I didn't know how to do that. I wanted to come up with an alternate idea, but if I spent too much time on plan B, how could I put in the effort needed for plan A? I finished school for Web Design in 2008, but at that point, it had been years since I'd dabbled in CSS. It was difficult for me do make a "fun" video while in the midst of this confusion. I found my relief in photography. Going out in nature and seeing the compositions around me felt liberating. I wondered if I couldn't somehow turn this into a living.

In the beginning of the Summer, I went to a new YouTube gathering in Seattle called "Vloggerfaire". I met several new people, including my freind JakeHasAnApple, and ran into Sean Klitzner again. Then, later in the Summer, I attended my second VidCon. Walking around, I found it amazing that this thing which I had dreamed of for so many years had become a regular part of my life.

But I was still in my melancholy. I met up with my friend Peter, and met some new people. I met some of my subscribers, which was pretty exciting. I ran into Greg Benson and Aaron Yonda. But I was quiet and I needed to take a lot of introspective time. I regretted not being able to spend more time getting to know these people.

During my introspection, however, I had an epiphany from atop a high balcony. No, seriously, that actually happened. I had started out filming a video about success. Since that was the thing that was taking my attention, I figured that might as wall be the topic of my video. But as I stood at the edge of the balcony, watching the sun begin to set, and taking in the beauty around me, I thought that maybe success wasn't about being on the top, but taking in the moment and going from there. I realized that in my obsession, I was missing out on the community which I had signed up for in the first place. This whole process can be seen in my video from that year.

I began having fun again, after that. I had a good run of videos for a little while, but there was still one hitch, one thing I had yet to figure out: What was I doing?


Friday, November 06, 2015

Happy Anniversary Part 4: The YouTube Boom

By the beginning of 2010, I was no longer making videos. I also found that all these podcasts were way too time-consuming. It was one thing to listen to a radio show while I worked. I could work while the music played and tune in when the show came back on. But listening to podcasts meant several hours of listening and getting nothing done. I had been out of school for a year, and was trying to make money designing websites, so I had to drop the podcasts.

After a few months, one day, I decided to reminisce by watching some old videos that I remembered from the old YouTube days. I also checked out some of the YouTubers from the old days who I was familiar with, but had never gotten around to watching. This brought back the desire to be a part of that old YouTube community. That's when I realized: if I wanted to be a part of it, I could choose to BE it, whether YouTube wanted to promote it or not. I made my comeback by joining in with the Hitler Downfall parodies which were popular at the time; the ones where you add your own subtitles over the bunker scene from the movie, "Downfall".

I had always wanted to be more a part of the Vlogging scene, so I began producing more Vlog type videos than I typically had in the past. I refer to this as the beginning of "The Modern Format". This is when I started using my common vlogging location, and began to develop my style of vlogging with jump cuts and overlays.

Although the angle has changed over the years, this is the familiar background of my vlogs, which I started using in 2010.

2010 turned out to be the most booming year I'd had on YouTube. I began posting videos once a week, which was considered a lot in those days. This was before the boom of daily Vloggers, or YouTube shows with regular schedules. I became involved and actively participated in the YouTube community like never before, making a lot of new friends and acquaintances, and my subscribers jumped up several hundred, which was the largest amount of growth I had ever had in one year.

One day that Summer, a bunch of videos began popping up from a YouTube gathering called "VidCon". I had always wanted to go to a YouTube gathering. In the beginning of 2007, I had watched videos from the first YouTube gathering, "As One", put together by Corey "Mr. Safety" Williams in San Fransisco, and after that, there were Summer gatherings once a year. I had thought about collaborating with Nalts on a gathering in Portland. But that year, this "VidCon" event turned out to be the big YouTube gathering, and I wanted to be a part of it. So I made a video about having my own VidCon in Portland.

I continued my video routine in 2011, while the blogging dwindled. At this time, I mainly used my blog to post my videos, while only occasionally writing a blog post. One thing I just had to cover, was the final demise of KUFO. It had been a while since I'd paid attention to KUFO, Portland Media, Cort and Fatboy, or anything of that ilk. One day, I turned the channel to 101.1, and heard talk radio. I did some research, and found out that KUFO had been gone for about a month. I remember KUFO from my childhood, however, Alpha Broadcasting's changes had soured its audience, and by March 2011, they had to pull the plug. There was almost no coverage of this event, in contrast to the uproar surrounding the canning of KUFO's personalities.

But the YouTubing kept going strong. One of the highlights, was my parody of Rebecca Black's "Friday", which I called Tuesday. I began a new series called the Rich Munnich Awards, in honor of my friend, well, Rich Munnich. I became a YouTube partner, and could now monetize my videos. Then, in the middle of the year, I started to do bi-weekly videos, but soon after, I got a new job, which made this impossible. In fact, it was difficult to concentrate on Youtube as I adjusted. The second VidCon came and went, and I barely noticed.

I had to slow down on J-Dubb's Theatre a bit. The last thing I posted to my blog was a video to Greg Benson, where I disguise myself with a paper mustache, and try to sell him a fish tank under the guise of a time-machine. This fish tank has become an inside joke between me and Greg, and one of us brings it up whenever we see each other. I started to write an anniversary post, as I had every previous year on October 11, where I would post the same fireworks images from my first blog post, and summarize the past year. But I never finished it.

The videos slowed down, but they were far from done. Once I had adjusted, I began to put my focus back into YouTube. In 2012, I took J-Dubb's Theatre to the next level...


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Happy Anniversary Part 3: Portland Media

In 2009, I had become a little disenchanted with YouTube. Things were different since Google had taken over. There was a wedge in the Community, between the "big YouTubers" whom YouTube actively promoted, and the average YouTuber, who YouTube had stopped promoting. YouTube had become less about community, and more about trying to "be a star". A lot of people from the old community disappeared around this time.

Alongside that, I found out that the music I used in my videos, including the "Network Series" which I had just put a lot of effort into, required an expensive license in order to be broadcast in a YouTube video. When I had first began using it, the TOS for the music site didn't really specify this, because YouTube wasn't really much of a thing yet. It was Royalty Free music, so I figured I could use it. When I started seeing videos and reading blogs which warned about using it, I was afraid that I might lose the majority of my work on Youtube, so, you know, I was a bit discouraged.

At one point, while stuck in traffic, I decided to listen to KUFO, just for nostalgia sake. After listening for a while, I realized that I wasn't hearing the Marconi Show, I was hearing the Cort and Fatboy Show. Marconi had been ditched, and Cort and Fatboy had taken over his old slot as the main afternoon show. I found that KUFO had seemingly grown up with me. Cort and Fatboy, despite Fatboy's ridiculous nickname (he's actually a little guy, for one thing) catered less to a collegian frat-boy mentality, and more to a nerd demographic. They were essentially the anti-Marconi, and their listeners were relieved to have Marconi out of there.

I became a fan, and listened to Cort and Fatboy on a regular basis. The entire station seemed to be on the same page as me, now. The morning program was hosted by an erudite, yet funny guy, named Rick Emerson, and his crew. It turned out that Cort and Fatboy, teemed up with the Rick Emerson crew, had a lot of involvement in the Portland community. I relinked my blog to KUFO, and began following them on Twitter. I became involved in their whole social media circle, and Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts became a reader of J-Dubb's Theatre. This circle included a podcaster named, Robert Wagner, who ran a whole Portland-based podcasting network.

During this time, I became less interested in YouTube, and more interested in the Portland media scene. There was a big collaborative effort at that time to attempt to link the old media with the bloggers and podcasters of new media. I linked up on social media with some media people of both venues, and began to focus more on Portland related events. My videos dwindled to around one a month, and largely reflected my disenchantment with the new YouTube.

At this time, I retired the old banner from 2006, for a new one, which I still use in some form or another to this day, including the end cards at the end of my videos.

Then, one day in October, I logged on to Twitter to see talk of Cort and Fatboy having been fired. The next morning, It was confirmed that the Rick Emerson crew had also been let go. I found out that the majority of Portland's radio stations had been purchased by an evil corporation called, Alpha Broadcasting (now part of the merged company, Alpha Media). Apparently, Alpha Broadcasting's technical manual for what a rock station's demographic wants, didn't match up with the current programming on KUFO. So, they replaced the programming director.

The new programming director canned the talent and replaced them. To add insult to injury, they were replaced by none other than our old pal, Marconi, who once again took the main slot of the day. But he turned out to be the lesser of the evils. The station also brought on a DJ from Seattle named, Ricker, who made Marconi look like Martha Stewart, and a former Howard Stern intern named, Kidd Chris. At this time, I re-unlinked J-Dubb's Theatre from the KUFO page. These changes would lead to the demise of KUFO.

There was a lot of outrage in the Portland community. Bloggers, podcasters, and traditional media journalists expressed their disappointment. I covered this story on J-Dubb's Theatre, as well as invented a couple of Urban Dictionary definitions for KUFO. It was a lot of fun watching these definitions go viral. Both my article and my definitions were linked to in an article by Culture Pulp. This probably doesn't mean anything to you, the reader, but it was a big deal to me at the time.

Cort and Fatboy brought back "The Cort and Fatboy Show" as a podcast, and eventually began broadcasting over Robert Wagner's podcasting network. They began hosting their local events again. As well, Greg Nibler and Sarah X. Dylan, formerly of the "Rick Emerson Show", started a podcast called "Funemployment Radio." This podcast grew in popularity to an international renowned, won some web awards for top ten comedy podcasts, and is still going strong, six years later.

By the beginning of 2010, I was no longer making videos...


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Happy Anniversary Part 2: YouTube

In 2006, there was a forum I frequented where we would often share funny things from around the web, such as the old "Chuck Norris Facts" meme (I even Made Chuck Norris the first Superstar of the Year). This included videos from Google Videos and Metacafe, and I noticed there were a lot of videos from this new site called "YouTube". I remember thinking that this was a dumb name. There were a few videos, in particular, which I enjoyed the most. One of them came from a guy called "The WineKone". There was a sketch from a duo called "Barats and Bereta". And there were a few videos from these young guys who called themselves "Smosh". I decided to check out more videos from these people.

The first time I clicked on a channel link, I thought I had mistakenly gone to MySpace, as the classic channel design looked like a MySpace page. After browsing around a bit, I realized I was on something called a "YouTube Channel". Upon my arrival to The WineKone's channel, I found a video featured on his page called "Internet Creepo" which involved several other people who made videos for YouTube, including Smosh. I thought it was so cool seeing Smosh appear in a WineKone video. I had never seen an internet video which addressed other people who make internet videos. I checked out the other people who were featured in that video, and found that they also would address other people who make YouTube videos, or "YouTubers". There was a whole network of people who referred to themselves as the "YouTube Community". I decided I wanted J-Dubb's Theatre to be a part of it.

I received a digital camera for Christmas that year. In February of 2007, I uploaded a welcome video to my new, J-Dubb's Theatre YouTube channel, where I recreated the scene in the banner of my blog, with the pipe and the book.

 I proceeded to upload a new video once a week, most of which were video responses to other YouTubers. Only, instead of just talking in front of a webcam, I made my responses "J-Dubb's Theatre style" which would involve a sketch comedy act. At this point, J-Dubb's Theatre was all about blogging and videos.

In the Summer, I started a series called, "The Network". This began with a fan fiction video. There was a series on Youtube called "Lonelygirl15", about a vlogger and her friends as they tried to evade a secret society called "The Order". The series was filmed as if these were real vloggers, telling the stories from their webcams. Fans of the series often made fan fiction videos. So I decided to do my own, where I get abducted by The Order. After this, I uploaded posts to my blog from the point of view of a member of the resistance, who was searching for me. After that, however, I decided to expand outside of the LG15 series, into a "bigger picture", where a secret society which runs the television networks is taking over YouTube through some sort of supernatural means, with the help of an ethereal network executive. I ended the series by posting the videos which detail my escape, and defeat of The Executive. This was also the first video to include the J-Dubb's Theatre theme tune.

In 2008, I went through some changes. I decided it was time to start thinking of myself in terms of a successful professional, rather than a young collegian type. I changed my hair and began dressing differently. I would still tune in to KUFO, on occasion, and listen to the Marconi Show. But during this time, I decided that I had outgrown a 40-something shock-jock who acts like a frat-boy. I decided to unlink from the KUFO website.

After another year's worth of videos, at the end of the Summer, I decided to continue The Network, in a series of more cinematic videos than my usual content of the time. In this series, The Executive from the previous series, named Belphegor, had taken on my form and taken over my life, and was recruiting for a new Network. This was supposed to be an interactive series to promote my channel, where Belphegor would post video responses and attempt to recruit other Youtubers. Due to high demands with school and an internship, however, it didn't pan out this way, and just became a series of videos.

In 2009, I started to become a little disenchanted with YouTube. Things were different since Google had taken over. YouTube had become less about community, and more about trying to "be a star".My interest in YouTube began to wane...