10 Things We Learned From Geoffrey The Dumbass
Updated: Dec 4, 2018
By John Ricker
1. College actually did something for him
Geoffrey James snatched up a Funny or Die writing fellowship between his freshman and sophomore year at USC, writing upwards of 30 sketches for the comedy website. Only one video saw the light of the day because that same summer Funny or Die “fired like half their workforce and stopped making videos.”
“It was a whole thing, like a purge of sorts,” says Geoffrey. “I sat down with the head of creative at the time and he said, ‘Yeah, this is just a lesson to be learned: you’re never gonna have the best job, and if you do take advantage of it.’” Geoffrey did indeed take advantage, having his video be one of the last videos published.
2. He manifested his future while working at a food bank
Geoffrey started interning for the podcast network HeadGum in 2016, where he helped reignite the fire for creating comedy videos in the company’s founders, Jake and Amir. They wanted to make videos again, “just to have fun, though,” said Geoffrey. “Not to garner any kind of attention, just for us, to make each other laugh.” With his internship ending, Geoffrey thought it ‘twas a pipe dream to be involved in the sketches. That is, until he was called upon to be a part of what is now becoming more of a media network, giving home to podcasts, sketches, and a live comedy variety hour. “I still remember because in 2015 I was still in Cleveland,” Geoffrey said, explaining his manifest destiny, “and I was listening to a podcast where they were announcing the creation of HeadGum. I was volunteering at one of those food banks, and I was just listening to that podcast and a year later I was working there.”
3. He creates content for the love of it
Geoffrey used to write the first drafts of Geoffrey the Dumbass with only a proofreading by Amir. However,
with HeadGum’s business booming and time being crunched, the sketches are now usually written together by Geoffrey and his co-star, Reilly Ansapugh, who is in the same position Geoffrey when he was as intern in 2016.
They take the script to the College Humor retirees for approval, and then act in and shoot it themselves. Geoffrey edits the final product. “But it’s really guerrilla style,” Geoffrey said. “We don’t have a lot of money at the network, we just do it. We don’t get paid that much, but we do it for the love of it.”
4. But sometimes has to forgive himself
Having to balance schoolwork and a personal life, some of his videos sometimes turn out unsatisfactory, what Geoffrey calls “just fine,” but the comedian has learned since to be more forgiving of himself if it is a bad video week. At the beginning, he “didn’t think anybody was going to watch them.” But after 15,000 views and audience engagement after the first video release, some faith was restored. “I was surprised because nothing I had ever done was like that,” says Geoffrey. “But now we get within the first week probably 30,000, and within the next week, depending on the video, like, 50,000 or more.”
5. He loves confident idiots
Growing up watching Jake and Amir’s sketches, Geoffrey’s humor was shaped into that absurdist niche a la Arrested Development. “My sense of humor has always been absurd
idiots. Idiots with confidence is how we like to describe Geoffrey the Dumbass,” he explains, describing his influences. “David Wayne, Arrested Development, and Jake and Amir were the three main influences on my comedy.” A rule of thumb he still follows while writing his sketches is, “If it makes Jake and Amir laugh, we shoot it.”
6. Riley is going to get mad at him if he reveals too much
Geoffrey has projects in the present, past, and future. “I made a short film in high school called Check Please that I think was the reason I got into USC.” It was essentially a very nice looking YouTube sketch, but longer.” In the present, he and his writing partner Riley, are developing a web series they plan to shoot in the spring. Still in its refining stages, the premise is about “two people who decided not to go to college,” he explains. “So it’s about the ways they try to make money having not gone to college. And I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want her to get mad at me.”
7. He’ll run you over to pay for dinner
When he was a wee tike, Geoffrey made the aforementioned short film Check Please. “It was about two people on a double date that both want to pay the check. It just unravels from there into the most heightened ways you can argue about a check.” One guy gets run over by a car, which excited young Geoffrey, who was very into editing and visual effects at the time. “Trying to to make someone look like they got flattened by an SUV was fun,” says Geoffrey. The short got into a few film festivals, which was both good and bad because “you can’t really put [the films] online until after you’re at the festival,” he explains. “The festivals won’t allow you to play it if they’re online, so by the time I put it online it was two years after and no one really cared about it anymore.”
8. He’s working on his long-form writing skills
As for now, Geoffrey is focused more towards writing and acting than online sketches. He’s recently started going out on auditions for shows and movies and still getting used to that ecosystem. “I think acting is the short-term goal, alongside HeadGum.” When asked why he questions his self-worth with full-length TV writing, Geoffrey replies, “I think I’m fine with sketches, “but trying to write pilots for TV, I don’t think anyone knows who I am enough for that. I’ve just got to hone that longer form writing.”
9. He knows Hollywood’s dirtiest secrets
We dug into Geoffrey’s deep dark past: child abuse and the devil’s music. Okay, maybe not that drastic. Geoffrey’s magnum opus was a YouTube video dating back nine years ago -- an exposé of how Hollywood used sugar glass to break glass over actors’ skulls. “The best part of that video is that my mom has a little behind-the-scenes cameo in it, and she hits me over the head with a pane of glass.” He critiqued his younger self’s production quality, noting his pronunciation of the word “vase” which he pronounced “voss” and the video’s audio levels.
10. He pawned a beat machine for a camera and a career
Geoffrey used to make beats! After chopping Al Green’s music once with his childhood drum machine , he sold it. The decision would end being a drastic plot point in his life. “I had a Maschine for a few months, and then I got bored with it and I sold it to buy a camera,” he explains. “I probably wouldn’t have gotten into film school if I didn’t do it.”
You can experience Geoffrey retelling his past life and watch him do a mashup of Al Green and a Geoffrey the Dumbass sample in the video above.
This piece is by John Ricker. Follow him on Twitter @CollarJohn.