A Night at Whip-Laugh

Photo Courtesy of Splitsider.com.

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, Josh Ruben and Vince Peone, of CollegeHumor fame, paid a visit to SUNY New Paltz to host a screening of their new film; “A Night at Whiplash.” The event was hosted by the Media and Journalism Society and came to fruition mainly due to the hard work of Vice President Ian Todaro. The event featured a Q&A with Ruben and Peone, which followed the film along with light refreshments.

Josh Ruben and Vince Peone, who are from Woodstock and Saugerties respectively, were introduced by a mutual friend named Travis Satten. Satten attended Woodstock Youth Theater with Ruben and was the drummer for Peone’s band. They hung out sparingly while they both lived in upstate New York but after Peone attended the School of Visual Arts in the city, they formed the sketch comedy group Dutch West where they created video content and really began to work together as a team.

YouTube wasn’t around when Dutch West began making videos so when it was launched Peone said they had 50 videos in the can and uploaded them. CollegeHumor was also a relatively new website and wasn’t creating their own videos yet. They “collected videos and aggregated content,” Peone said. CollegeHumor contacted Ruben and Peone after seeing Dutch West’s videos.

“They were like ‘Hey, you guys make these videos! Do you wanna come do that for us and get paid to do the exact same thing you do now?’,” Peone said.

The duo began working at CollegeHumor soon after and stayed there for seven years.  According to the duo, they look at it as ”the best job of [their] lives.” They made 2,000 videos for the company in that span of time, including classics such as “Tweetlejuice” and “Precious Plum.” The duo parted ways with CollegeHumor after their seven-year tenure and recently pitched an idea for a T.V. show to Comedy Central and are currently waiting to hear back.

The videos that Ruben and Peone created for CollegeHumor were typically shorts and weren’t more than two minutes in length. A Night at Whiplash is unlike any of their CollegeHumor videos and it gave them the chance to make a feature in one night.

The film is a documentary of a night at the whiplash comedy show which is located in New York City at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) theater. “Whiplash” happens every Monday night at 11 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Famous comics such as Aziz Ansari, Horatio Sanz and Zach Galifinakis have all performed there.

“Adam Frucci, from [the comedy website] Splitsider, came to us and he was like ‘there’s this great show, its the longest running stand up show at the UCB and would love you guys to… if not direct it, produce [a film about it],’” Ruben said.

Ruben continued to elaborate on the film.

“We teamed up with Leo Allen, who hosts [the show] and producer Jeremy Levenbach and we proposed our idea of how to do the film without breaking the bank. We funded the film as well as shot it and produced it,” Ruben said.

They were both passionate about the project.

“We just kinda wanted to be part of this really cool thing that was going on every Monday night in a basement in New York that’s free and constantly packed even though it’s late at night.” Peone said.

Peone elaborated on the concept of making a type of film they had never made before.

“For us it was an opportunity to make a feature in an evening which is unusual because we are sort of long form centric nowadays, writing movies and things like that,” Peone said.

Of course the main focus of a stand up comedy show is the comics themselves and Peone expressed just how great the ones they captured on film are.

“The comics that we captured on tape are headed for greatness, they’re going to be huge and some already are,” Peone said.

The comics featured in A Night at Whiplash are Sheng Wang, Carmen Lynch, Eugene Mirman (the voice of Gene on Bob’s Burgers), Janeane Garofalo (Of The Larry Sanders Show and Saturday Night Live fame), Jared Logan, Michael Che (Of Saturday Night Live fame), and Sean Patton.

This whole event would not have come together though, if Todaro hadn’t interned at the Woodstock Comedy Festival.

Todaro, 24, was interning at the Woodstock Comedy Festival when he met Ruben who was screening A Night at Whiplash at the festival. Todaro said he knew about Ruben and Peone prior to the comedy festival due to their CollegeHumor videos. After the event ended Todaro got Ruben’s email from the Director of Media and PR of the festival, Sheila Isenberg, and the two began communicating regularly. Over the course of about a month Todaro and Ruben communicated and set up the event.

“When I emailed [Ruben] about the possibility of screening the movie at New Paltz, he was psyched,” Todaro said.

Ryan Percy, president of the media and journalism society said he was really excited for the event and that he was “thrilled to have [Ruben and Peone] at New Paltz.”

“I love CollegeHumor and they made some awesome videos,” he said.

Lecture Center Room 100 was filled with laughter right from the start of of the film. With each passing joke the film seemed to get better and better. Once the credits began to roll the applause began and the lights came up. Ruben and Peone were greeted with a huge applause as they made their way to the podium.

Students from the audience asked Ruben and Peone many questions about the film, their careers, how to succeed in the film business and their lives.

When asked about the film, Ruben and Peone said they wanted it to feel like we were actually there in the comedy club; they wanted it to be immersive.

The duo shared stories from their beginnings, CollegeHumor days, comedy stories in general and experiences they’ve had with comedy. At the end of the Q&A, they tossed Woodstock Comedy Festival t-shirts out to the audience and gave away some posters.