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CollegeHumor’s Sam Reich Spills Secrets to Success

Sam Reich, who after five years with CollegeHumor (s IAC) now holds the lofty title of President of Original Content, had a six-hour flight from New York to Los Angeles to kill last night. So, because they have the Internet on airplanes now, he hopped into Reddit’s I AM A community and told Redditors to ask him anything.

As of writing, nearly a thousand comments have been left on the thread, and in between thorough discussions about the attractiveness of Reich’s wife Elaine Carroll (star of Very Mary Kate, which was added to the CH lineup last fall), who on the CollegeHumor staff is gay and who is the funniest, Reich also revealed behind-the-scenes details about CollegeHumor operations that I have painstakingly compiled below for you. Why? Because CollegeHumor has become one of online comedy’s most enduring and successful brands — they’re some of the guys doing it right. And thus it makes sense to pay attention to their secrets.

CollegeHumor sketches get written in pairs: Reich laid out the writing process for most of CH’s original content as follows: “We have writing meetings every Monday where we hash out topical and non-topical ideas. Then I pick ideas and assign them to one or two writers. People tend to write better in pairs. It’s easier to joke with a friend than with yourself.”

If it works, make a sequel to it: Reich promised Redditors that follow-ups to fan favorites like Internet Commentor Business Meeting, Photoshop Rap and POV were coming soon. (That doesn’t apply to The Phantom, which Reich said writer Streeter Seidell felt was “played out.”)

CollegeHumor is out of Nazi jokes: When asked if CH had used every Nazi joke, Reich confirmed this, saying that “We’ve officially used all 138 jokes in Schleimer and Heilgud’s official book, ‘The 138 Jokes About Nazis.'”

Friday is CollegeHumor’s lowest traffic day: Which is why CH does not post original videos on that day, as part of its “F–k Fridays” policy.

CollegeHumor doesn’t care about large audiences: When asked if he tries to hit a certain demographic with CH content, Reich stated that “I don’t worry about all of our content appealing to a certain demo. With a video, I’d rather reach a small and passionate group of people who are going to share the video than a broad and passionless group of people who are going to watch and forget.”

Why was the grunt sound removed? This question came up more than once, and while one commenter theorized that the “UH!” sound, which used to close each CollegeHumor video, was removed for copyright reasons, Reich’s answer was that “The truth about the ‘huh’ is that someone high-level wanted it gone, so it went.”

The Internet still means freedom: While higher-ups may have the ability to remove trademark grunt noises, life online seems to be easier than the TV world. When asked about MTV’s pretty-much-dead CollegeHumor series, Reich commented that, “The MTV show definitely netted us more fans, but I think it also made us appreciate how much freedom and power we have on the Internet.”

The auto-play feature isn’t going away: When one commenter complained about the fact that the CollegeHumor’s auto-play feature is, by default, always on, Reich’s reply was “We tested it, and believe it or not, most people prefer watching with the continuous player turned on. But I’m sorry you don’t like it. Really, I am. Look at my face.” When others chimed in, Reich offered a compromise: “What if we played you all the videos at once? Do you think you’d laugh harder?”

CollegeHumor might be hiring: Several Redditors asked if there were potential opportunities for aspiring directors, writers or editors; Reich told them to send him samples of their work, offering up his email address freely.

CollegeHumor could lead to bigger things: Reich’s ambitions aren’t limited to the web, he says — “I’d like to direct movies or create television shows someday, but I have just as much of a chance of doing that within CollegeHumor as without.”

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