Comedian heads to TV while sticking to his roots: "Producing for YouTube means freedom"

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Comedian PaulTelner is one of YouTube's most popular Canadian partners and recently parlayed his YouTube experience into a show on MuchMusic. His co-writer is his director/editor Jason Fisher, and they also maintain a separate behind-the-scenes channel, which makes all their hard work look like a lot of fun. Telner took a break from telling people they're "sooooo weird" to do this interview.

Where do you get inspiration for your sketches? 

We love silly; LOL moments where you can just sit back and laugh at weird / irreverent situations. Most things preach they have to have meaning, but we really like the David Letterman/Andy Kaufman school of comedy: the absurd, the random and the weird. When I play a character, we pull from real life. Everyone we meet has traits we find pretty funny. We try and adapt the ones that really make us laugh.

How did you catch the eye of MuchMusic? 

Our YouTube channels! They were interested in doing something prankish, daring and fun. They liked the edge and look of what we were doing online. Some existing segments from YouTube, and new material we shot airs on MuchMusic on their flagship daily entertainment series called MuchOnDemand. It also airs as half-hour prime time specials.

How do you think traditional media like TV can enhance your YouTube presence and vice versa? 

Producing for YouTube means freedom; no notes from execs and total control. People who know us through YouTube get excited when they see that you're on TV. It's like your community has finally gotten recognition from the mainstream media. 

Being on TV can redirect people to our online presence. 

Thanks to producing all this content for YouTube it’s given us more experience and skills to produce for TV. 

What advice would you give to other YouTube users who want to make a career in online video? 

BE ORIGINAL. Understand how YouTube works. See what’s out there, what’s missing, but it comes back to being yourself. YouTube has a place for your voice. 

Interact with your audience. 

Work as hard as you can to entertain and create something you're proud of. 

YouTube can be a very inspiring place but if you see someone is getting millions of views and you're getting a few hundred it can really deflate you. Drive in your lane and don't look over at traffic.

How about for those who want to parlay their YouTube channel into something in a different medium?

You can take your YouTube fan base anywhere. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll get the opportunity to have a TV series or a movie. 

Just because someone is big online, doesn't mean they know how to make a recurring series. Meet producers who have been successful in the other medium you want to explore, impress them and learn from them. 

Relationships, talent, great numbers, hard work, luck, and so many other factors are involved. For some, YouTube is a launching pad. For others, it’s their world. For those that can create great content and make enough money from YouTube, they’re living the dream. 

What should people know about the Canadian YouTube community? 

Some of the most interesting, quirky and unique people on all of YouTube are from Canada. We produce the funniest comedians in the world in film and TV; ideally more Canadian YouTubers will come together and create something epic. 

Tell people something they wouldn't know about yourself. 

People always ask me what I’m like in real life. The answer is pretty much the same as the videos to some degree. I love people, and feed off their energy. You see me hugging random strangers, being silly and not being afraid of talking to anyone. That's who I am. I hug random people, talk to everyone and basically treat the street like a playground. 

As a kid, I was extremely shy and would never ever do that. Comedy gave me the ability to break out my shell. With YouTube, people starting to recognize me, my hug frequency is on high alert! 

I love strangers! I treat every person I just met as if we have known each other for years. That's the way I'd want others to say hi to me! Yes, it definitely creeps some people out! That's cool with me!

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