101 Fantastic Freebies

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Freebies in Action: YouTube Launches a Comedy Career

Luke Barats and Joe Bereta credit YouTube for their success in breaking into Hollywood.
Luke Barats and Joe Bereta credit YouTube for their success in breaking into Hollywood.
How's this for an improbable tale: Upon their college graduation, a comedy duo hailing originally from the wilds of Montana and Idaho hit it big in Hollywood -- all without setting foot in New York or Los Angeles. They go on to star in a pilot for NBC, and to negotiate for a feature film with a major studio, while still living in laid-back Spokane, Washington. Improbable, but true. The team of Luke Barats and Joe Bereta has ridden the power of YouTube to bypass the usual Hollywood madness, and the performers are on the cusp of being stars.

Film-and-theater majors Barats and Bereta met as undergraduates at Gonzaga College in Spokane, in the college's improv troupe. When courses called for them to make comedy-sketch videos, they decided to share the videos with their parents back home, on their own Web site. Their parents, unfortunately, couldn't view the videos there. "Then someone told us about this Web site called YouTube, where you could post videos and anyone could watch them," remembers Barats. "We started posting so our parents could see what we were doing in college."

On Mother's Day of 2006, YouTube featured a Mother's Day video that the two had made -- and then everything changed. "We went from 200 hits a day of our video on our own Web site to 40,000 hits a day on YouTube," Barats says.

In August talent manager Dan Farah saw their videos on YouTube. "I thought they were hilarious," he says. "I immediately got in touch with them, told them I wanted to be their manager, and we signed a contract."

The rest, as they say, is history.

Soon after, Farah negotiated a deal with NBC for a pilot for Barats and Bereta, and began talks with various film studios.

Although all of those developments sound as if they were parts of a well-thought-out plan, Barats says that their success was entirely accidental.

"We never planned on having our careers explode out of the Internet," Barats says. "That was never really the intention. We had no idea how Hollywood worked...we didn't even know what a manager was."

Preston Gralla

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