To understand Jash, you need to know what the YouTube Channel Initiative is all about. Funded by Google with the specific goal of bringing innovative content to YouTube, it's a 100 million dollar program that kickstarted Google TV's entree into original programming.
You can think of Jash as the 21st Century's online version of the sketch comedy troupes of Second City that originated in Chicago back in the late 1950s or its Canadian offshoot Second City Television (SCTV) that ran from 1976 to 1984. While both venues became a source of cast members for TV's Saturday Night Live, the Internet is now fertile ground for catapulting this genre into cyberspace.
Replacing the comedy luminaries of Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, John Belushi, Mike Meyers and even Tina Fey, Jash brings you the creative collaboration of Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim and Reggie Watts.
As web-based comedy, Rash is just one of a number of channels YouTube is now labeling as "original" or "premium" content. In an effort to promote programming that can only be found online, YouTube has signed a number of artists who have or are in the process of creating their own channels for the video social network.
In October 2012, YouTube introduced 60 new original channels, where the top 25 original programs averaged around 1 million views a piece almost immediately following the announcement. This included world famous celebs from the fields of entertainment, news and sports. Madonna, Deepak Chopra and Shaquille O'Neal are creating their own premium channels through their production companies, as we speak.
With a host of new and recognizable comedy content creators, YouTube's first-ever YouTube 'Comedy Week" will debut May 19-25. The program will be streamed on the site, commencing at 8 PM, ET and has enlisted in addition to Rash over 150 performers featuring some of the comedy sites that have grown up on the Internet, such a The Onion and College Humor.
With YouTube already one of the largest generators of online entertainment attracting more than 1 billion viewers monthly, Comedy Week was the brainchild of Danielle Tiedt, YouTube's vice president of marketing. In a statement she noted that the festival is aimed at building awareness for just how popular comedy is on YouTube. "A third of our top 100 channels are comedy," she says. (Music is by far the most popular genre.)
Starting with the Sunday, May 19th kick-off, each night will offer a two-hour mash-up of live performances and taped pieces. There's no official host, but Silverman and Vince Vaughn will introduce various segments. And if you don't think the week will be full of laughs, Silverman puts out a warning to would-be comedians who are looking to cut their virgin teeth in front of an audience that dwarfs the size of any comedy club they may have played for in the past. Worth watching!