The Glazed Badge of Courage: How JK! Studios’ Risky Freelancers Delivered a Ridiculous, Delicious Pilot
March 28th welcomed the premiere episode of JK! Studios’ first full-length series, Freelancers. It’s fast-paced, family friendly, fully available on YouTube. I love it. And so will you.
The show’s premise is simple: five freelancing friends strive to create a successful video production company with nothing but a dream. The pilot episode jumps right in to a ridiculous universe, where our brave friends struggle with the violent failure of their office shoot. In order to pay the $4000 medical bill resultant of a ball-point pen assault on the office manager, the freelancers scavenge for money while producer, Arizona, resists the temptation to return to her former glory…working as a sign dancer for Krispy Kreme.
I have loved the creators of JK! Studios for a long time, diligently following their work with Studio C long before the YouTube channel hit two million subscribers. I, however, am unafraid to put on my critic pants and pull tough love out of the pockets.
The show’s premise is simple: five freelancing friends strive to create a successful video production company with nothing but a dream.
With these comedians…I don’t have to. Their brave trek into the unknown is, in my highly critical opinion, an unprecedented success.
Let’s start with the look and the words. Freelancers is filmed in a popular fashion, the camera using that slightly shaky, documentary-like intimacy, but with a clarity and freshness that we, the spoiled, come to expect from YouTube content. That means you can sit back and watch this delightful, inexplicable thing with ease, not a single shot hard on the eyes or the mind. Watching Freelancers is like a clear day at the beach…where at any minute Micah, played by Stacey Harkey, may appear on the shore and dropkick a bird. You’re lounging in the sand, free and clear to laugh.
The Writing is the Real Star
But the script, my friends, that’s what really steals the spotlight. The writers of Freelancers were clever enough to pull the viewers in immediately, diving into an unquestionably wacky universe without questions or foot-dragging exposition. The characters simply are. Belief in this world and this group of friends is helped along by dedication to ornately goofy dialogue (“We need to pedal our wares. Who has wares?”), and by the actors’ spot-on delivery. These players, being long-time friends in real life, create characters who speak the same eccentric language while maintaining slight differences through characterized actions. No pointless backstories. Just Owen, played by Stephen Meek, calling a Tesla employee a classless swine, or Devin, played by Mallory Everton, wearing sweatshirt and pants modeled after “fat Scott Calvin” from Disney’s The Santa Clause. These little things serve to quickly create individual characters and keep you laughing.
The writers of Freelancers were clever enough to pull the viewers in immediately, diving into an unquestionably wacky universe without questions or foot-dragging exposition.
And though we’ve all seen silly shows before, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen one so unrepentantly silly. Sarcastic silliness, reminiscent of The Office, is typical, expected. In such a show there’s always sarcasm lurking around every corner, a Jim Halpert ready to glance sideways at the camera as if to say, “Can you believe these wackjobs?” With Freelancers the viewer can do nothing but laugh and go along happily as Arizona, played by Whitney Call, is offered $70,000 a year to return to Krispy Kreme sign dancing and Ryan, played by Matt Meese, makes $300 selling old women five cent foot rubs. Watching a JK! Studios creation, you can put your millennial pessimism aside and simply enjoy what you’re given by a uniquely talented group of comedians.
Killer Scenes and One-Liners
Speaking of talent, this article would be incomplete without praising a few of Freelancers’ killer scenes and one-liners. Ryan’s 4AM antics literally had me weeping with laughter. The failed lipreading between Arizona and Owen underscored by subtitles, is, in a word, brilliant. Then, in the middle of back-and-forth dialogue, we’re suddenly gifted with gut-wrenchingly great lines, like, “Something about the way you move makes people want donuts,” or my personal favorite, delivered by the one and only Matt Meese, “When you meet Daniel Radcliffe, tell him that we’re all attracted to him.” Whereas other comedies drain their own batteries with stylistic dialogue that, soon enough, becomes routine, Freelancers systematically jumpstarts your laughter again and again and again.
To once again quote Ryan, played by Matt Meese, “It is a hopeless nether-scape out there.” Yet, in spite of the nether-scape, the ten original cast members of Studio C are raspberry-filled with courage. After witnessing the originality and undeniable humor of Freelancers’ pilot, we can say, without hesitation, that bravery has paid off. These sketch artists have remained true to themselves but embodied a newly crafted format and characters, made their own bold enterprise and still kept it family friendly. Yes, they’ve come a long way from BYUtv, from Scott Sterling, from Peeta Melark’s rap song… Their JK! Studios journey is amped and ready to prove those good ol’ clichés – follow your dreams, stick with your friends, and don’t be afraid to be “broke poor.”
For more impressive JK! Studios content, like their challenge videos or their outrageous, flat-out hilarious vlog series, “Loving Lyfe”, head to their channel! And check out Studio C’s channel to see their past successes!