For the past seven weeks, some of the comedians you know from "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" have been starring in almost daily YouTube videos on the Above Average Network. Haven't heard of the group yet? We'll fill you in.
Although the project was launched right at the end of the television season, Above Average is not a summer spin-off of SNL's Digital Shorts, even if many of the actors and producers are from SNL's staff. The reason for so much cross-over? The new YouTube channel is spearheaded by Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video, which brought us "The Kids in the Hall", "30 Rock", and, yes "Saturday Night Live." Utilizing their talent network, the group is looking to make an entirely new programming slate that they say will last year round.
SNL stars like Keenan Thompson, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen have made cameos in webisodes of Above Average's "Cool Kids' Table" and "The Front Desk" the latter starring "30 Rock"'s John Lutz. SNL's Abby Elliott adds another layer of Studio 8H involvement to the collective, headlining "The Assistant," a series written by College Humor alum Sarah Schneider. In the show, Elliott plays the role of her own personal assistant by way of clever editing and camera tricks.
Above Average is also producing new content from several YouTube notables, including Mikey Day, Michael Naughton and Andrew Friedman, best known for their mind-boggling, twisted David Blaine parody videos. The trio is producing a series called "Puppet High." which is based on a trailer they created for Funny or Die in 2010. The show features, you guessed it, puppets attending high school, and premiered this past Thursday.
Newcomer sketch series "Paulilu Mixtape" has produced Above Average's most popular video thus far, a hyper-violent "Dark Knight Rises" spoof that's claimed a half million views within a week of being published. Paulilu is run by comedy team Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello, who found popularity last year with their series "The Real Housewives of South Boston" as well as their unorthodox promotional video for Dollar Shave Club.
Several Broadway Video produced web shows are planned to join Above Average on YouTube, providing a dedicated home for projects, which, up until this point, have been spread between Hulu, Yahoo and YouTube. SNL writer Christine Nangle's 2011 series "I Wanna Have Your Baby" is one of those shows; SNL writer Mike O'Brien's "Seven Minutes in Heaven" is another. Each episode of "Heaven" sees O'Brien interviewing celebrity guests in an uncomfortably small closet over the course of seven minutes. Recent guests have included Jeff Goldblum, Paul Rudd and the Insane Clown Posse. The series racked up millions of views between YouTube and Yahoo Screen.
The "Above Average" moniker has been used by Lorne Michaels before. In the late 70's, Michaels launched a series of specials under an "Above Average" production company. The specials famously included the "Rutles" TV movie "All You Need is Cash," a Beatles parody from Eric Idle that guest-starred many first and second season "Saturday Night Live" cast members.
Above Average's operations are split between Los Angeles and New York, although they remain open to featuring content from almost anywhere. On Fridays they feature videos not produced by their network but picked by their partners. You can find the aforementioned shows and more , including recent premieres of "Belle & Bernice… Livin' in the City and "Rejected Pitches"... at the Above Average YouTube Channel.
Do you regularly watch YouTube shows? What are you watching? Do you think Broadway Video is on to something with their new channel? Let us know in the comments below.