Bursting with fresh comedic appeal, Sydney Heller and Olivia DeLaurentis are two students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) making thousands laugh through their ‘Barely Legal Comedy’ YouTube channel.
“2 girls. 1 video camera. This is not going where you think it is”, as stated on their Facebook page, is an apt desciption of the brand of humour seen in their YouTube sketches – to date, their channel has 1,283 subscribers and 73,288 views.
One of their popular uploads is “Phone Sex”, a skit which starts with red lipstick and sexy overtones, but stars two of the most unpredictable bits one would expect from a sex-themed show: an omelette and falafels.
The video, which has been viewed more than 35,000 times, starts with a male customer requesting for “realistic role-play” from a phone sex company run by the two girls, who then offer their sexy services as an omelette and a dish of falafels to the poor guy.
“If it makes us laugh – even if it doesn’t make sense, like having an omelette whisper to people – we’ll build off of it and that’s a sketch,” said DeLaurentis, a third-year film student to the Daily Bruin.
“We’ll lose our ability to talk or breathe while writing stuff because the jokes are so much funnier to us then they probably ever will be to anyone else.”
The pair also run an eight-episode web series on their channel, called “Sugar Babies”, a wacky satire tapping into the current trend by American students, where a young female – i.e. the sugar baby – is supported (typically financially) by an older companion, known as the sugar daddy, through an agreed arrangement.
Fun, Risk, Passion
As a comedy duo, DeLaurentis and Heller go way back, starting from their years at Agoura High School and in ComedySportz, a comedy improvisation training programme.
According to Heller, a fourth-year theatre student, they found out they made a great comedic pair when they joined a tournament together.
Thus, after filming two comedy sketches for an NBC Playground comedy contest in 2014, and receiving positive feedback from family and friends, they decided to expand into YouTube videos.
— Michael Santell (@MichaelSantell) January 23, 2017
The channel now serves as an outlet for their passion for screenwriting, film-making, and acting while in college.
Apart from being passionate, two other elements are obvious from their films: fun and risk.
“They’re different performers – Sydney can turn into any character at any second and Olivia is a beautiful storyteller,” said ComedySportz improv coach Natasha Arnold. “But the thing that both of them have is that they’re risk-takers. They’re willing to do whatever it takes for the comedy.”
And a lot of fun go into growing their little YouTube empire too. Whenever they get stage fright for their improv shows, they warm up by singing and dancing together to “Lip Gloss” by Lil Mama to get out of their heads and up on stage.
— Syd Heller (@SydHeller) October 24, 2016
To help get the ideas going, both agree that the best ideas come to them while they’re eating, drinking smoothies, driving, or just hanging out. These ideas range from the banal (introducing yourself in class) to the opposite, outlandish end of the spectrum, such as post-apocalyptic makeup tutorial.
“We’ve written a last-minute sketch over FaceTime while driving back from road trips with our dads, which was a weird coincidence,” Heller said. “Our dads were pitching jokes, too.”
Heller and DeLaurentis also said they try to create a fun atmosphere for their guest actors so they have as much fun as the girls do collaborating with each other, making sure people won’t have to wait on set for hours.
“We shot like three scenes in three separate locations in two hours – they’re very fast,” said “Sugar Babies” actor Kurt Maloney. “We probably did two takes a scene. I felt like such a diva being like, ‘Can I get a third take?’”
Dreams to take on the world
One last thing. You inspired my comedic filmmaking daughter, Olivia! Thank you ❤️https://t.co/wAEAd7L61j
— Diane Franklin (@DianeFranklin80) January 15, 2017
Right now, the duo is balancing their time between filming the “Sugar Babies” web series and school. They will often film during the day, edit at night, and have the video up by the next day.
But for the future, the girls are aiming big. They plan to use Barely Legal Comedy as their stepping stone to reach a wider audience and move on to bigger things.
Their aim with “Sugar Babies” is to prove that they can hold up a narrative comedy show; Heller said they want to work toward writing for networks like Hulu and Netflix.
“It’s important to get stuff out there even if it’s not perfect – it should just be funny enough or good enough for you,” DeLaurentis said. “It’s never going to be perfect – what matters is that it makes people laugh.”