Know Your Web Series: Jake and Amir
Written by Bwog Staff
It’s time again to learn about another exciting Web Series with Internet television aficionado Rob Trump. This week, a multimedia presentation of why you should be watching Jake and Amir.
Relationship problems stemming from insignificant reasons. One person acting like a chump and another person being annoyed by it. Dudes getting nailed in the nuts. Will any of these things ever stop being funny? Let me throw my hat in the “probably not” category. With that short introduction, allow me to introduce Jake and Amir, a couple CollegeHumor writers with an eponymous webseries that fits squarely in the “rube and foil” category. And yep, they do it right, and yep, it’s great.
Before watching the entirety of Jake and Amir — for which I deserve some award hopefully called “going to somewhere other than Minnesota for the next nine months” — I mostly knew Amir Blumenfeld from the CollegeHumor series “Prank War”, which, while not really a web series, is still highly recommended if you’re a fan of good pranks. (Watch it chronologically. It will make you laugh, then want to be in a prank war, then realize you really don’t want to be in a prank war.) Anyway, Amir in that came off as a really, really likable guy who could probably sometimes be a little annoying and needy. So, I’m guessing that Amir’s character in Jake and Amir — the idiot/loser to Jake’s straight man — is an exaggeration of how the other people in the CollegeHumor offices see him. And it’s a really funny character.
Let’s start chronologically, since I did watch all of these (seriously, over 120 videos). Jake and Amir is less of an episodic webseries than any of the ones I’ve reviewed so far; until recently, there were rarely plotlines or multi-installment arcs. In general, it’s closer to a sketch show with the same characters every time. The first few episodes comparatively pretty weak, and a lot of them drag on a little too long without much comedic development on the central joke. But there are also very solid early episodes that show the show at its conceptual best, where Amir does something stupid, then continues to dig his own hole deeper and deeper to absurd levels:
The dynamic got better as the characters’ relationship came into full view: Amir mostly wants approval from Jake, in a very Michael Scott-Jim Halpert (or David Brent-Tim Canterbury) way. Amir isn’t Jake’s boss, however, so that means Jake can take advantage of Amir, a concept introduced slowly in episodes like this quality one:
As the show went on, the creative minds behind it (I assume, but don’t know, that it’s mostly Jake and Amir themselves) started exaggerating the characters a little more, making Amir even dumber and Jake more of a jerk to him. Amir (the character) also became more infatuated with Jake as Amir (the actor) became a better actor, eventually turning in really wonderfully pathetic performances. Jake (the actor) was and still is a little stiff, but he doesn’t need to do as much, so it’s not all bad. Anyway, with these tweaks, the show for the first time started turning out really hilarious episodes regularly, for example:
Over the last six months or so of the show, which as a whole keeps getting better and better, there were so many running jokes added (Amir’s diet of exclusively Chicken McNuggets, his obsession with mediocre comedy, his frequent idle utterance of, “Jake”), that perhaps the next video isn’t as funny without all the background. If you have the background, though, it might be their best. Watch it now, or I’m going to spoil it by discussing it afterward:
Script Notes from Amir on Vimeo.
That last line, “Is ‘butthole’ with two ‘b’s?” is a pretty great testament to how good the writing for this show has gotten. Someone lazier might have been happy with Amir asking, “Is ‘butthole’ with two ‘t’s?” but Amir’s stupidity is such that it’s just as plausible, just as concise, and way funnier for him to say what he does.
On the negative end, other than the lack of originality (which doesn’t bug me much when your execution is this good), my major gripe with the show that the production is sometimes really lazy, with a lot of the early videos shot without noise cancellation and having pretty bad sound problems. Also, whenever the jokes are too reliant on the production, like ones involving dream sequences or fast-motion, the effect isn’t quite professional enough for me to get lost in it and completely buy the joke. It’s low budget comedy, and it works best on a low budget. Oh, another criticism: most of the other CollegeHumor guys and girls, when they show up, make Jake look like DeNiro.
In sum, if you laughed at any of the above videos, well, the characters get funnier the more time you spend with them. You’d do well to go to the start (kind of hard to find, it’s here at the bottom of the page) and watch them all in order, only a few every few days or they can be a real time-waster. (Yes, your mother is writing this.) If you didn’t laugh, then consider yourself lucky, because you will get a better grade on your first midterm than the people who are watching all of these.