This series explores the lives of former Dallas Comedy House students and graduates, showcasing their creativity and how they’ve used lessons from DCH classes in their artistic pursuits.
Joe Scott is the host of the popular, science-based YouTube channel Answers With Joe, which currently has more than 180,000 subscribers. He’s also a DCH alum, attending improv and stand-up classes in 2012-2013. This is part two of our interview. Part one can be read here.
Jason Hensel: Would you say you get most of your income from sponsors or from AdSense (YouTube)?
Joe: Right now, I’m making more from the sponsors. In March, I made more from YouTube, but I have four revenue streams: AdSense, sponsorships, Patreon, and T-shirts sales.
JH: What are you goals for the channel?
Joe: Ultimately, the original goal of using this to create narrative content still stands. My goal is once I hit 100,000 subscribers to do a short film every quarter. I still would like to do that, but in order to do that, I’ve got to take some of the stuff off my plate.
My immediate goal right now is by the end of the year to have a team set up so that Answers With Joe is just like a machine — all I have to do is record it and put my Joe spin on it.
JH: What do you recommend for someone wanting to start a YouTube channel?
Joe: I’m going to talk in platitudes for a second, so forgive me.
I went to VidCon the last three years. Part of the reason I’m not going this year is because I’ve heard it all at this point. You go to all these panels and you hear big YouTubers get up there and give their advice, and it’s always, “Just do it, you just got to do it. The world needs your voice,” and all this kind of crap.
I hate it, but now I’m at this place where when people ask me stuff like that, I’m saying the same crap because, here’s the thing, you DO just have to start. I left my first videos up on my channel. I recorded them on my phone downstairs in the dining room with no lighting, and it’s awful. But that’s the thing. You can record a video on your phone and upload it. You just have to get started, and I know that that’s a bunch of platitudes and BS, but I’ve seen so many people who have ideas and they just overthink it and never get started.
But my number one thing would be to build your library, which means upload stuff, even if it’s crap, just upload stuff, upload something.
Uploading something is better than nothing. Everybody wants the viral video, and I know people who have had really big viral videos who didn’t grow their channel off of it, because they didn’t have a library of content. People subscribe to a channel; they don’t subscribe to a video.
You’re never going to grow unless you have something for people to follow. It has to start with creating a library, and don’t get caught up in it being perfect, just put something out there. And be flexible.
JH: Those are two improv ideas — just step out on stage and be flexible.
Joe: Exactly. You’re absolutely right.
If I had said in the beginning, “No, this is going to be a stand-up channel, this is a comedy thing, I’m not going the science route,” I don’t think I’d be here. It was because that Fermi Paradox video did well. and I said, “Okay, I’ll do some more science stuff,” but I added my own little twist to it.
I put my comedy stuff in there, and that’s what I get the most comments about. People say, “I love that your channel is entertaining, but informative and you talk about deep topics, but you also have a bunch of levity, and it’s still fun to watch.”
JH: Any other recommendations?
Joe: Be consistent.
I started this channel three times and stopped three times, because I would get frustrated. I get the frustration of smaller YouTubers saying, “I’ve put 20 hours of work into this video and 10 people saw it.” That’s what it’s going to be for anybody who wants to start.
There are so many different interests that no matter what your interest is, somebody else shares that with you. Ze Frank said that to be successful on YouTube, the trick is to make people feel less lonely. When you share an interest or an idea that you think is so singular to you, I promise it’s not. There are millions of other people that share that thought.
When you share that, it’s like a magic trick. It’s like, “He’s saying what I’m thinking, and he’s saying the thing that I believe,” or “He’s into that weird thing that I’m into.” It makes people feel less alone, and it makes them connect with you. That’s where YouTube is great.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jason Hensel likes books, bacon, and performing in his troupes .f.a.c.e., The 1995 Chicago Bulls, Ye Olde Comedie Guilde, and Don’t Broken, Not Fixin.