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Interview: Dormtainment Talks to S&A About Absolutely Everything

Interview: Dormtainment Talks to S&A About Absolutely Everything

After making Comedy Central history with the most successful
digital launch of last season, Dormtainment returns with season two of their
Comedy Central web series, “Six Guys One Car” this November.

The
comedy troupe composed of members Mike Anthony, Rome Green, Chaz Miller, Cam
Miller, Tay Dier 
and Amanuel Richards first made a name for themselves with
weekly comedy videos released on their YouTube channel, which has racked up over 800,000 subscribers to date.

S&A spoke with Dormtainment members Amanuel, Chaz, Rome
and Tay about their web series, their plans, and a little bit of everything. Find the hilarious exchange below.

JAI TIGGETT: What can
you say about season two of your show?

ROME GREEN: Season two is… it’s… why can’t I think of the
word I’m trying to say?

AMANUEL RICHARDS: What Rome is trying to say is that he doesn’t
know what Season Two is.

ROME: I know what it is.

AMANUEL: It’s the second season of our Comedy Central series.
It’s loosely based on our lives and our adventure going from Atlanta to LA, as
a comedy troupe crossing over from the internet to movies and television – with
very, very, very limited resources.

How are you finding
Los Angeles?

ROME: We’ve been in LA for two years now, and when we first
got here we didn’t know that you could just take a lot of meetings and do
nothing. What do they call them?

The water bottle
tour?

ROME: Yeah, we didn’t know that. So when we first got here,
we spread ourselves a little bit thin because we were trying to meet people and
do everything. Once we figured it out, I think we’ve done okay. We were six
guys in a three-bedroom apartment. We’ve upgraded to a house and we have more
space to think and create, because living on top of each other isn’t fun.

Is living together
still just a necessity, or do you feel it helps what you’re doing creatively?

TAY DIER: I think that when you’re doing a funny story,
you’ve got to design it to have as much conflict as possible. And this has the
most conflict possible. With six guys living together you get to really see our
personalities and how we interact. So I feel like it’s a story that we will
continue, even if it’s not a necessity.

ROME: But please for the love of God, help find us a car.


With six different
voices in the group, how do you handle conflict?

AMANUEL: We fight.

ROME: To the death.

AMANUEL: There’s obviously different personalities in the
group and even though we live together, we still have separate lives. And
people can butt heads, but at the end of the day we have a common goal. We just
try to stay positive and focused on that, and we try to look out for each other.
There were times when we didn’t have much to eat, especially back in Atlanta coming
out here, we had to band together and just stick through it. Then good things
started happening.

ROME: And because our group was an organic thing – we’ve all
been genuine friends for almost ten years now – we just discovered that if
we’re honest with each other then everything just works out. So if you’ve got a
problem, just bring it to the table and we’ll talk about it. We have diplomatic
arguments, and we need to.

What are your tips for those who have to buckle down and share
resources, especially in a place like LA?

TAY:
Be nice.  [laughs]

ROME:
I usually tell people when they move to LA, have a little bit of something
saved up. It’s a calculated risk because you don’t know what’s going to happen
once you get out here. Then you have to surround yourself with like-minded
people or it’s just not going to work, because I’ve seen the selfishness.
Everywhere has selfish people, but in LA it’s just kind of…

AMANUEL:
Everybody’s out for their own. We’re lucky enough to have a group where we
might not know anybody out here, but we know each other.

ROME:
I guess the best tip is to find real friends, or people that believe in the
same things you do, and you can all come up together. Even for us, we don’t
just want to help each other. We want to help other up-and-coming groups or
artists, anybody that is trying to get a name out there we want to help as
well.

AMANUEL:
When we first started this back in college, we went through a plethora of ideas
before we landed on this. We had no idea that it was going to end up being
comedy. We started off saying hey, we could start a non-profit to do creative
workshops for kids. What we found out was that you needed profit to start a
non-profit. We took a step back and after some other ventures, we said let’s
try this new digital thing. You could just start your own channel and get a
little buzz, and we fell in love with it.

Was there anyone
within the group who came from a comedy, writing or production background, or
were you all starting from square one at the same time?

TAY: Myself and Rome come from music. And music and comedy
are like, what’s a good metaphor for that? They’re like…

ROME: Complete opposites? [laughs]

TAY: Just when it comes to rhythm, timing, the element of
surprise, it’s all the same to me. Also, I use to write funny stuff on Facebook
and that’s why I was picked up into the company. We were going to have, what
was it then, a sweepstakes company. And I was supposed to write blogs for it.

CHAZ MILLER: I was in the NFL. I was playing with Dallas
Cowboys.

ROME: You were not playing with the Dallas Cowboys.

CHAZ: Like I was saying, while I was playing for the
Dolphins, I kind of tweaked my hamstring and my minor dorphalismsisms. It’s a
little hard to talk about. But after I won the gold medal in the Olympics I
figured I needed to do something that doesn’t put a lot of strain on my body. So
that’s why I’m looking to go into porn.

ROME: As you can see, Chaz is going to get kicked out of the
group next… But everyone pulled together obviously. And we researched
everything ourselves, none of us went to school for it. We watched movies, we watched
TV shows, we read scripts. We just studied every day and that’s how we got to
this point. And we’re still learning.

How has the writing process changed
as you’ve gone from short web sketches to a series that’s more story-based and
targeted for television?

TAY: Creating these stories has made me f***ing fall in love
with writing. There’s a couple ways you can write for YouTube, and that’s a lot
of the reason why YouTubers have trouble crossing over into television, because
you can write short-form content and hit on a topic and be very successful, but
to create something that can last you have to put some heart and soul into it. So
it’s a thing that we’ve learned, how to put in personal stories, how to pull
from life and create a whole new story. When it comes to television it’s a
whole new beast. But the soul of it has to stay the same.

ROME: For the Comedy
Central web series we’ve teamed up with a writer, Rodney Barnes, and we learned
quickly that you have to know how to collaborate.

AMANUEL: It’s a team effort, anything that we do from here
on out, because if we’re trying to expand beyond just the six guys in the house
to TV, film, and all that, all of it is a collaborative process, maybe hundreds
of people working on a project. And everyone is hoping that the best product
comes out.

You guys have
mentioned comedians like Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock as some
of your influences. What are some of the things you’ve seen these other
comedians do that you try to pull from or implement in your own work?

TAY: What I’ve seen from Dave Chappelle is that he has a
very real outlook on race. It’s real, yet forward thinking. Also, when you start
writing you learn themes, and he has a lot of themes that continue over all of his
stand-up. With some stand-ups you’ll see a change to whatever the people need,
but he stays. And he knows what he stands for.

CHAZ: I look up to Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. They
have a lot of characters that they play and you can relate to them, whether you
have a family member or you’ve been out and you’ve seen someone like that. It’s
fun to change into another person and their different characteristics.

AMANUEL: For me, any comedian that was good at storytelling
won me over. When I first heard Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious,” the jokes
were hilarious throughout that whole stand-up, but the reason it got me is that
it’s just a series of stories. The way he portrayed the stories and like Chaz
said, gets into different characters to expand it, is amazing. And that is what
won me over with Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., any of
these comedians that have a good story that can really make me laugh.

So Chris Rock is
hosting the Oscars again this season. Are you looking forward to it?

ALL: Yes!

AMANUEL: I think some people were kind of hating on him
hosting the last time. So I think he’s going to come back and show out this
time.

ROME: People don’t realize that comedy, as fun as it is, it’s
stressful at the same time in the sense that you’re putting you at risk. Anything you believe,
you’re putting it out there for someone to be like, oh you’re stupid. I don’t
like that. It’s not funny. So whenever somebody hosts something, if they’re not
the best or the funniest, I try to give people leeway. Doing it every day, we
know how tough it is. Immediately when I see people say, oh he’s not funny…

AMANUEL: They don’t know how hard it is. When you’re putting
your heart, sweat, and soul into it, it’s tough.

Do you think there
are any topics that should be off limits in comedy?

TAY: I think that one, you’ve gotta know your audience. There
are certain audiences that will react to a black joke differently than others. It
depends on what type of black joke and it depends on how savage it is, but you’ve
gotta watch that. The other thing is, I don’t think that anything is off limits
if you are structuring it right, if you have thoroughly thought about what the
f*** you’re saying and you’re not just trying to get the laugh. Like if you’re trying
to do something that’s risky, then you better have done your research. You
better know how people will take it, know where you stand and be able to stand
by it, and know how to structure the joke and get it across.

ROME: For example comedian Louis C.K., the other day I was
watching his stand-up and he had a n***** joke and it was really funny and I was
like, why am I laughing at this? But it was just the way he structured it. It’s
not like he was bashing black people or anything. It was his perspective, but
it was also just a funny situation and a funny joke. He just took it there, and
he did it in a smart way so I wasn’t mad at him for it.

TAY: There’s a lot of jokes that you can tell, like I could
tell a joke right now to my homie and it could be the most savage thing ever
and it could be hilarious, but if I put that on screen for everybody to consume,
people are going to have their opinions and judgments on it. And they are
allowed to, and they should.

AMANUEL: But as a comedian you’re allowed to say whatever
the hell you want in this world. I believe that is one of the Amendments, there
is freedom of speech. You can say anything that you want and people can bash
you online or whatever, but you do have that right to say it. And with a joke
there’s a difference between ignorance and honesty. If you’re honest in a joke,
it could be brash or whatever but people connect with the honesty. That’s why
Louis C.K. could say the n-word and we just laugh at it, because there’s some
honesty in it. When there’s ignorance that’s when people start to question.

Is that something
that you’ve had to negotiate as you’ve moved from independent web content to
targeting TV and film?

TAY: I think it’s a battle and something that we’ve had to
learn. On the internet you can do whatever you want and on TV you can’t. There’re
some things that [Comedy Central’s] audience may laugh at that we don’t find as
funny and vice versa, so it’s a learning curve.

AMANUEL: The good thing about us is that we’ve been doing
this for so long that we know our audience. We know what makes them laugh and
what makes us laugh. Comedy Central picked us up for reason. They wanted us for
us, but at the same time it’s a collaborative process. And there’s some jokes
they may find a little funnier, and some jokes that we find a little funnier,
but we come together and try to make it work.

What’s the long-term
plan for Dormtainment?

TAY: Rulers of the world.

AMANUEL: I was thinking more like masters of the universe.
He has unrealistic goals.

TAY: Like Rome said, we really want to be able to foster new
talent. There are a lot of things that we’ve learned through this process that
we would love to bring to other people. And the long-term for us personally is
TV and film.

AMANUEL: You have Dormtainment the group and you have
Dormtainment the business. The group can eventually expand into anything.
Dormtainment the business is a comedy channel wanting to be a network. We have
a big demographic of college kids that follow us, so I think getting that out
there and bringing other talent into the network would be great for us in the
future.

CHAZ: They’re lying to you. I’ma give it to you straight.
I’m trying to get into porn. So if you can help me out, if you know anybody?

Not my area. Wish I
could help.

ROME: Regardless of what Chaz is doing, we’re going to
continue to grow. And also, music is a big part of us. We want to be the first
comedy group to win a Grammy. We do comedy Hip Hop and R&B but it’s music
that you can ride to. It’s not just funny, it’s good music. We also have a
tour so we want to keep expanding with that and take that international
whenever we can. We’re trying to get our hands into podcasts as well. We’re
really trying to be a full force.


New episodes of “Six Guys One Car” premiere on YouTube and Comedy Central online in
November.

More Dormtainment videos can be found at Dormtainment.com.

*

jai tiggett is a
screenwriter, producer, and associate editor of Shadow & Act. She’s a
pro at nodding attentively while saying, “mmn-hmn.” Find her at jaitiggett.com.

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