"The CollegeHumor Show" -- a hyper-reality version of NBC's "The Office" and created by a University of Richmond graduate -- may be back for a second season.
Josh Abramson, the show's producer and Richmond 2003 graduate, said that MTV, the show's network, would consider factors such as the cost and ratings of the show in its decision-making process. Although no definite decision has been made, Abramson said he was confident and hopeful the network would continue the series.
The show premiered at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009, and ran through a six-episode season. Currently, it is being rerun during various slots.
"It's not really a defined genre," Abramson said when asked to describe the half-hour show.
The CollegeHumor Show is an offshoot of CollegeHumor.com, which Abramson co-founded during his freshman year at Richmond in December 1999.
The Web site contains games, articles, pictures and short videos - all of which are produced either by users or the site's staff. Abramson said the original pilot episode for the CollegeHumor Show had used staff-produced Web content that was repackaged for television.
But the initial screening of the episode did not work well, Abramson said, and the staff had to start over. Instead of pulling content directly from the site, the writers instead scripted a story line related to the site content. At the time, the staff had been producing "Hardly Working," a Web series of short videos. It was this material, Abramson said, that had been used to create new storylines for the final version of the show.
"The editorial staff turned [Hardly Working] into the show, and made it sort of a hyper-reality version of 'The Office,'" he said, explaining that the show is scripted, but stars actual people from his office place.
Abramson said he had been interested in producing a television show for a while, but had not realistically considered it until the Web site had built up a quality in-house production team. Abramson said they had also been working on a film with Paramount Pictures for the past four years, which he described as a slower process than television.
"TV is a little more instant-gratification," he said.
CollegeHumor.com employees handle every element of The CollegeHumor Show, Abramson said, including the filming process. As the producer, Abramson does not act in the show but many of the other staff members do.
"I don't really have a day-to-day schedule," he said, adding that his responsibilities included problem solving, strategic planning and making sure people are doing what they should be doing.
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When Abramson started the CollegeHumor.com Web site nine years ago, he had not intended it to be a career, he said. Instead, his initial motivation was to make money while in college. Abramson said he never had an ordinary job like lawn mowing during high school, but instead tried unusual avenues like disc jockeying and playing piano for restaurants. Likewise, he said, when he arrived at college, he did not want to work a typical job and instead looked toward the Web site.
According to CollegeHumor.com, the site was started as a way for Abramson and his high school friend, Ricky Van Veen, to share pictures, videos and links with each other while they attended different colleges.
After graduating from Richmond, they acquired another business partner and started to launch other ventures, such as the t-shirt site, BustedTees.com. Finally, in 2005, Abramson said it became clear that CollegeHumor.com could become big. Today, the site has 60 employees, produces 50 original videos a month and receives more than 6.21 million unique hits each month.
Robert Dolan, professor of economics, said he was not surprised by Abramson's current success because Abramson had already been successful during his time at Richmond. Dolan said he remembered Abramson regularly taking the red-eye flight between Richmond and Los Angeles for business-related trips during his time at the university.
"It was pretty clear that Josh had a lot of intuition about the tastes of his peers as well as the emerging value of the Internet as an entertainment medium," Dolan said.
Abramson earned a degree in finance, with a minor in philosophy. Although the business school professors were great -- especially Dolan and his economics course -- Abramson said he wished he had taken advantage of more liberal arts classes.
"Business is something you learn in the field, not in a classroom," he said, adding that the creative aspects of what he does are different from what business courses focus on.
Abramson won the Distinguished Young Graduate Award in 2006 in recognition of his achievements as a businessman.
Although he could not choose one video as his all-time personal favorite, Abramson said his current pick would be the "Prank War" series. In the videos, two of the site's employees - Amir Blumenfeld and Streeter Seidell -- capture the various back-and-forth pranks they've played on each other during the past year. One prank involves a fake JumboTron marriage proposal at a Yankees game, and another involves a rigged half-court basketball shot for $500,000.
The work environment at the CollegeHumor office is fun, Abramson said, and while employees work hard, they are all friends.
"I get to come into work and be a part of something everyone here is passionate about," he said.
Contact staff writer Jill Cavaliere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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