The latest Jackass movie crossed the $100 million mark at the box office last weekend as it continues the remarkable success streak for the franchise. But the reasons Jackass has become such a phenomenon goes beyond people’s fascination with guys tasering each other. Here’s a look at 6 Lessons You Can Learn From The Success Of Jackass that will help you create and market your own comedy creations.
You Don’t Need A Big Budget
The most common excuse I hear for why somebody’s content doesn’t work is because they don’t have enough money to make it work. While there’s truth to that excuse some times, it’s usually just a cop out.
The Jackass crew produces its movies on a miniscule budget compared to a typical feature film and it has absolutely no impact on the entertainment value of the final product. This is even more true online, where typically the videos that go “viral,” have little or no budget at all behind them. In fact, I’d even argue that in most cases online, the bigger the budget the less likely the video is to succeed.
There’s Strength In Numbers
One of the keys to the success of Jackass is that it revolves around a crew of guys doing the stunts and not just one individual. The competition between the guys drives them to do bigger and better stuff than they would on their own. Second, it allows the audience to connect with different members of the Jackass crew and accentuates their individual characteristics (i.e., Johnny Knoxville’s the ringleader, Bam Margera’s the one who messes with his parents, Steve-O is now the sober one, etc.). Third, having a group also creates natural marketing advantages because it allows more people to market to more audiences and bring their own niche followings into the fold.
From a comedy standpoint, I rarely ever see comedians take advantage of the strength in numbers – though I have noticed that many of the biggest stars on YouTube informally collaborate and work to grow each other’s followings. Even forming a loose coalition, can pay big dividends for comedians who are trying to break into the business.
What You Stand For Is As Important As What You Produce
The Jackass guys make some really funny movies, but that’s not what really drives the connection between them and their fans. That connection and loyalty comes from the ideology behind their brand. People aren’t just entertained by the Jackass world, they passionately connect with what it stands for – a balls-out, no fear, approach to life. There’s lots of videos of people hurting themselves out there, but there’s only one Jackass and that’s mainly because Jackass stands for more than just entertainment to its fans.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
People like things that are simple to understand and they like to share and talk about things that are simple to explain. Jackass is both of these things. You don’t need a college degree to “get” a Jackass movie and you also don’t need to have seen anything else the Jackass guys have done to appreciate their latest masterpiece. These are two things that are completely opposite of what I see lots of creators doing when they roll out episode 14 of their obscure Napoleanic political satire series on YouTube.
Get More Bang For Your Buck
It’s always smart to develop multiple ways to monetize your content and Jackass do this on a large scale by essentially shooting enough bonus footage to release a straight-to-DVD sequel to their latest big screen productions. After Jackass 2, they followed it up with Jackass 2.5, a straight-to-DVD release that included enough new footage to stand on its own, even though it was all shot using the same budget they used to shoot the feature film. They’re planning to do the same thing with an upcoming Jackass 3.5 DVD release.
This is smart business and something I’d encourage you to consider on a smaller scale in your own projects. If you’re shooting a sketch video, what else can you get out of that? Maybe you can sell a song that you play in the video? Maybe you can shoot a funny “Making of” video and get two videos out of your one production?
Show People You’re Having Fun
It seems obvious, but if you’re creating comedy it should be fun. And that fun can be contagious because audiences want to connect with people who look like they’re having fun. The Jackass guys always look like they’re having the times of their lives and that’s why just about everybody that watches their work has that moment when they feel like they wish they were a part of the crew because they make it look like so much fun. Even though you know it would be torture, they make it look so fun that you want to be a part of it…by paying to go see the movie from the safety of the theater.
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