By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Comedy has taken over the Internet!
Every day, aspiring comedians take to YouTube to unleash their creative energies for the delight of viewers.
One particular ensemble group that has caught my eye is Garlic Jackson Comedy. Founded by Zack Bornstein, Adam Wagner and Adam Weinrib, this nontet has collectively worked for and appeared on College Humor, Funny or Die, the Huffington Post and the Late Show with David Letterman.
Some of their best material has to be from their YouTube videos such as “Help! My Girlfriend Is Literally Dying” and “their rejected Coke Ad Languages” have reached over 500,000 views and will definitely leave you smiling.
In this edition of A Conversation, two of Garlic Jackson’s co-founders: Zach Bornstein and Adam Wagner, shared the group’s creative process, the challenges that the group is currently facing and reflect on David Letterman’s recent retirement announcement.
Jacob Elyachar: Could you please share Garlic Jackson’s origin story with my readers?
Zack Bornstein: In the beginning, there was only dark nothingness. Billions of years later, Garlic’s first three members, Zack Bornstein, Adam Wagner, and Adam Weinrib, performed sketch and stand up together at Brown University. We had a similar sensibility, a love of working with each other, and a drive to make infinite comedy. When we graduated and landed in New York, we started filming sketches and landed the opportunity to do a live show at The People’s Improv Theater.
After we sold out our first show, we got a longer run at the theater and have been performing a new hour of material monthly ever since. At one point early on, we were called Tartamooto, and later Your Uncle’s Employees. The name Garlic Jackson comes from the fact that garlic is something everyone likes, but is a little weird and a little stinky. Jackson also sounds nice with that hard ‘k’, and is hard to misspell. From there, we brought in the most talented performers we knew from the comedy community in NYC, and it has been nothing but joyful light ever since.
JE: Who is in the group? What is each of their specialties?
Adam Wagner: Zack Bornstein writes endless rapid-fire jokes. I write with perfect structure. Adam Weinrib is the king of impressions. Will Tempfer moves his body hilariously like no other. Sam Klemmer makes any line funny, no matter what. Lauren Ireland has an amazing voice and is a burst of energy in every sketch. Anna Callegari makes a lot of food jokes. Caralyn Stone plays the most likable characters and knows how to party. Luke Kelly-Clyne has his finger on the pulse and writes like a wren coos (very well). Jesus, I sound like a proud mother right now. (Laughs)
JE: How long does it take the group to create a piece from conception to presentation?
ZB: Anywhere from 20 minutes (#Cosby) to a year (Freelance Life). Depends on the timeliness, the prep work, the drafts, everything. A lot of our best sketches are written the night before producing with only one draft. We also go through 17 drafts and a lot of nitpicking…for some of them.
JE: What are some of the challenges that the group has faced? How have you overcome them?
AW: Recently, Zack moved to LA, so we are currently figuring out how to exist bi-coastally. Also, we are a large group with a thousand ideas, so it can be tough to focus into a unified voice. But, early on in the process, we developed a core philosophy and Garlic tone/pace that allows us to Garlickify any sketch while maintaining the individuality of our writers.
JE: What direction do you see the comedy world going? How has the Millennial generation helped in moving it in that direction?
ZB: Lots and lots and lots of it in every direction you look. Every single website, even ones you would not expect, are ordering comedy web series, pilots, sketches, etc., so the world is turning into a funnier place. It is also becoming a lot easier to be forgotten about. With most sketches you have one moment to hit it big, and if you do not, it will never be seen. It is amazing with the web that a million people could see our sketch like never before, but it is also scary that if we do not hit the timing perfect, no one will ever see it. Sketches do not matter once they are a week old anymore.
JE: If my readers visited the group’s website, they would find that some of your members got their start on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” In light of Letterman’s retirement announcement, could you share your thoughts about that decision?
AW: Letterman is the man, and we are sad to see him go. A couple of us (Zach, Will and I) had our first jobs in New York City, where we were a part of his page program, so we have a big ol’ soft spot for him.
JE: How has social media helped build the group’s comedic empire?
ZB: Oh sweet Jesus, it has been everything. (Laughs)
JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring comedians who want to enter the entertainment industry, what advice would you share with them?
ZB: Make, make, make, make, make. Stop waiting for someone to hand you a camera. Stop waiting for someone to green light your script. Stop waiting to get casted in an NBC pilot. It’s so cheap and easy to make things nowadays that there is no excuse to not be making what you want. Hell, iPhone’s capture great sound and you can rent a DSLR that looks amazing for like $40/day, but more than likely one of your friend’s has a better one. Work nights and weekends on your craft. Surround yourself in passionate people, carry a notebook and write down everything that makes you laugh, do not over analyze, but always know what to do better next time, don’t be a dick to work with or precious with your ideas, do not worry about making more money than you need to live for the first two years, get a lot of sleep when you can, meet often, set deadlines for yourself, set more deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, sleep, make, deadlines, make, make, make, sleep, deadlines, beer.
For more information about Garlic Jackson Comedy, visit their website: http://garlicjackson.com/