Andrew Schulz doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings. See for yourself on his YouTube series Views From the Cis, where he riffs on eating ass, floppy vaginas, and the usefulness of the word “tranny.” You can also listen to his debut comedy album 5:1:1, his podcasts “Brilliant Idiots” and “Flagrant 2,” or—better yet—catch him on his ten-city Matador Tour, now through November. We met up with the 35-year-old comedian to discuss his unorthodox strategy for releasing content, and why now is the best time for comedy.
Why did you decide to start releasing content the way you did?
First of all, everybody said no. I filmed my own special, doing sets in five different comedy clubs and the cab rides in between. The idea was, this is what a New York comic goes through. I knew the industry wasn’t going to let me in based on my name, so I captured what it is to be a New York comic and that still didn’t work.
I was really down. I was fucked up. But I had to find my own way in. So I started asking friends about comedy specials, ’cause you can learn everything about your industry by asking people who are not in your industry. Everybody would say, “I just watched this guy’s special. It was really funny, but I didn’t finish it.” I’m like, okay, boom, the special is too long. So I turned my one-hour special into a 15-minute special. Four clubs, one night—I called it 4:1:1. I put it out on YouTube and it got a good reaction. I sold out shows that very same weekend in San Diego. I was never a guy to sell out shows. So I go, “Okay, there’s something to this. Shorter is better.” Then I said, “Fuck it, I’m going to start giving away a new joke every week for a year.”
I’d looked at certain people, like this singer named Russ who would put a new song out every week. I looked at vloggers like Casey Neistat. I looked at the people who were winning in the new digital media age. Their success came from consistency. They put [material] out every day or every week. It wasn’t about one big event.
So, every week I put out clips on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The clips started to go viral and then my YouTube guy was like, “Yo, something wild happens when people watch a video of yours—they end up watching two hours.” Netflix and Comedy Central can’t get people to watch one hour of stand-up. I’m putting my shit on YouTube and people are watching two hours.
You mean they go from clip to clip?
Exactly. When somebody puts a one-hour special out, that person’s saying you have to sit and listen for an hour. There are many things wrong with that, but what’s most wrong is the viewer is not in control. If you give them a three-minute clip, another clip is going to pop up right after, and they make the choice to watch it.
So you took advantage of YouTube.
YouTube is the future, except people are caught up in the traditional structures of media so they don’t understand it yet.