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Duo redefines humor

Funny bone tickled by shorts

By Shahruz Shaukat, online editor
On May 12, 2009

The Internet is home to millions of funny videos. Whether it is a chance recording of a failed skateboard trick or a cat wandering aimlessly around the house with a bag over its head, there is almost always something to laugh at.

But these viral videos usually only offer a few minutes of enjoyment, and are singular by nature.

Sometimes, however, a true gem emerges, capable of offering endless laughter on a regular schedule. Such is the case for the comedy Web site www.jakeandamir.com.

The site, run by Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld from New York, N.Y., is home to short sketch comedy skits starring the two, who keep their same names in the show.

Jake plays a traditional normal man in the videos. He has friends, a job and lives a normal lifestyle.

Amir's character, on the other hand, is about as far from normal as can be. As a somewhat lonely and socially awkward co-worker, Amir is convinced that he is Jake's best friend and tries to convince Jake to believe the same.

Episodes, which are posted twice a week, are based around this simple dynamic.

In a typical skit, Amir tries to find ways to impress, imitate or unnecessarily spend extra time with Jake.

For example, in a recent episode titled "Fashion Tips," Amir learns – and follows — 48 summer fashion tips, not knowing they are from a women's magazine, thinking it would impress Jake. Amazed by Amir's stupidity, Jake tells him that the tips are for women, and the rest of the episode shows Amir trying to prove how they actually apply to men.

The duo has posted more than 200 videos on the Web site over the course of two years, with the writing and acting improving each episode.

Early episodes, which were made exclusively for their friends' entertainment, were often based around only a single joke, with both actors being unable to hide their laughter during filming.

One of the first episodes uploaded, titled "Trust Fall," shows Amir asking Jake if he can trust him and then intentionally falls backward onto the wood floor. Jake fails to catch him in time.

Barely concealing the smile forming on his face, Jake says, "I feel like such shit. You trusted me and I let you down."

Before Amir can say his reply, both actors burst into laughter, unable to hold it in any longer.

The quality quickly picked up as soon as the duo began to include more jokes into each video, and the characters slowly began to develop into who they are today.

Only two weeks after "Trust Fall," the pair uploaded "Tattoo," in which Amir confidently brags to Jake about his new tattoo, but is unwilling to show it.

By the end of the episode, Jake forcefully lifts Amir's shirt to look for the tattoo, only to find a penis Sharpied onto his stomach, along with the word "gay."

Amir, not wanting to look like a loser to Jake, explains that it is actually a picture of a cannon, and that G, A, and Y are his initials.

Amir's cluelessness and Jake's condescending manner in the episode molded the characters, and future videos began to build upon those traits.

The duo's strong writing skills compensate for the extremely economical filming style of the series. Most episodes are filmed entirely on two Canon SD750s, which are ordinary digital still cameras. In a typical skit, the cameras are placed at the ends of each of Jake and Amir's desks, and remain stationary throughout.

The editing, however, is very concise and well done. Conversations are broken up from their original timeline, and the segments are mixed around so that multiple jokes can recur through each episode.

Because of the increasing writing, acting and editing quality with each new episode, Jake and Amir's audience quickly grew from being only their close friends into tens of thousands of viewers online.

Looking for more ways to satisfy their growing audience, Jake and Amir slowly began to find their way outside their video frames and onto the rest of the Internet.

Amir's character regularly updates a Twitter account, posts his photos and artwork of Jake to a blog and has a personal MySpace page.

Jake's character also blogs, using it to post embarrassing things Amir sends to him over the AOL Instant Messaging service.

By allowing the characters to expand to the rest of the Web, the duo has created their own immersive universe, to the point where it becomes almost believable that they actually do have the kind of relationship that they pretend to have, and that perhaps their video skits are not written and performed, but rather, are real footage of actual events.

With their consistent, high-quality humor and their willingness to act in-character even outside their semi-weekly skits, the Jake and Amir series is worthy of your entertainment time.

Contact Shahruz Shaukat at sshaukat.advocate@gmail.com.


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