The JASH launch event at SXSW this year — which included a BBQ brunch, a live episode of Scott Aukerman’s podcast “Comedy Bang Bang” and a panel discussion — took place a little early, the creators were the first to admit. “People should check it out, but they should make sure to check it out every few months, we’re just figuring out what it is,” Sarah Silverman said. “Really, we should be here in a year when we’ve found our stride, is the truth.” The new premium YouTube channel was formed to feature the work of five distinctive and well-known figures in alt comedy — Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, Silverman and Reggie Watts. But aside from an entertaining intro video and individual greetings from comedians, the JASH team was promoting a channel and a website (jash.com) that didn’t have much by way of content… yet.
That said, the promise of JASH is certainly enough to merit a lot of attention. It’s the creation of comedy producer Daniel Kellison, along with Doug DeLuca, Mickey Meyer and Fullscreen Inc. The idea behind it is to give Cera, Tim and Eric, Silverman and Watts the financing, production resources, editing facilities and personnel to create online videos at their own pace, with the five given complete creative autonomy over and partial ownership of the content. And while Funny or Die remains the major player in the realm of comedy videos, YouTube is comparatively underpopulated with work from professional comedians.
“We all are very different, but have similar sensitivities, similar tastes,” said Heidecker, who spared a moment with the rest of the team to talk to Indiewire while in Austin, adding that he and Wareheim were initially drawn in by the participation of the other comedians they admire and by the freedom offered: “It’s like, here’s some money, go make whatever you’re going to make, and not worry about having Taylor Swift in it.” “This is not a money gig,” Silverman added. “But you can dream stuff up and then shoot it, and none of it comes out of your pocket. It’s not schmancy, but it’s awesome.”
“Basically, we wanted to create one area that’s not a shit zone on the internet,” Wareheim put it.
“All of this is just who’s involved with it,” Watts said. “Because we’re on board with shaping how it’s perceived and what it looks like. it really does feel handcrafted. We’re all connected, from the very top to the finished project.” “It’s more of a network where you can commission people to make things and attract people with similar sensibilities,” Cera noted.
What can viewers look forward to on JASH? Tim and Eric have an upcoming bit called “Baby Life Coach,” which, Wareheim explained, is a service for “if you’re pregnant and you want a man to come sing to your baby, to make sure that that prenatal care is taken care of.” Cera made a short film that Heidecker said wouldn’t be out of place on the Sundance Channel. The wide-openness of the channel and the unfiltered nature of the content that’s coming is certainly intriguing: “It’s fartsy and artsy,” Silverman said, and Watts added that some of the videos would be “sincere and serious.” Heidecker said that there would be show strands as well as standalone videos: “We want it to be where you turn it on like it’s Comedy Central.”
But what’s with that name? Kellison explained that originally the plan was to name the channel “Josh,” but the owner of josh.com wanted a million dollars for the domain name. “We offered, we said we’ll put your picture on their, you can be ‘Josh,’ but he said no.” During a night out, Heidecker suggested “Jash,” which was sort of “Josh” with a Southern accent, and it stuck. But it was the challenge of getting an affordable domain that drove the naming, Kellison said — “We almost became MexicanFoodRecipes.com.”
Here’s the first non-introductory JASH video, a teaser for Heidecker and Wareheim’s reality show spoof “Tim & Eric’s GoPro Show.”