Over the weekend, we had the opportunity to meet and speak with 3 YouTubers who are household names in not only the US states (where they’re from) but also around the globe. Do the names Bart, Joe Jo, and Geo ring any bells for you? ;)
Yes, indeed we mean JustKiddingFilms aka JKFilms! The phenomenal YouTuber trio rocked up to sunny Kuala Lumpur as they were part of the “Reach Out 2015” event lineup, armed with an arsenal of witty words/phrases enough to leave any hardcore fan in stitches from laughter.
Luckily, we managed to snag an exclusive interview with ’em comedic peeps before their show because let’s be real now, who’d say no to that, right? Here’s what went down:
Hey guys, how’s it going? You guys alright? Not feeling jetlaggy or anything like that?
Joe: I actually don’t get jetlagged haha! We woke up at like 6am or 7am and we immediately went back on our natural schedules.
Geo: Yeah but we’ll see what happens at 7pm though.
Oh right, I saw Geo posting up a picture on her Instagram over breakfast?
Bart: Did you see the picture I posted of breakfast? Mine was better. I have my angles and they’re better angles.
Joe: I took a picture for both of them.
Geo: I took my own picture so credits to me for mine.
Bart: No, all credits to me!
I’m not even going to argue with filmmakers right now haha! So, JustKiddingFilms have always been known to push boundaries of the Asian stereotype. Has that always worked in your favour or otherwise?
Joe: Oh yeah, definitely it’s controversial because when you do something that makes people offended and when we do things that are always challenging what people think is normal..like for example, we use accents in a lot of our videos and some people just hear the accents and they say, “You’re making fun of Asians, this is not funny!”, right? But other people go, “Oh, this reminds me of how my Mom is.” There’s a reason behind the accents and it makes people feel like this is a character, a true character. My Mom has an accent so this is real, cause it wouldn’t make sense if the Asian mom is was speaking perfect English or has a Mexican/British accent or whatever. We’re trying to create characters that are realistic and then push the boundaries through examples of what types of upbringing we had and share with the rest of the world..Asian American culture.
Bart: When I think about it, Asian Americans are portrayed in the media as a little bit more conservative and I think we represent another group out there who are a little bit more liberal and a little bit more outspoken. So that way, people can have a more accurate view..we’re not saying that we’re the only view..but I think in every culture, you have the timid ones, the loud ones, the shy ones, and also the geniuses, and I think it’s important for Asian Americans of all types of personalities to come out so that people won’t pigeonhole us as “just quiet and timid”. It’s like you said, it’s kinda like a double-edged word. We are able to represent an entire sector of Asian Americans, but sometimes yeah because we’re pushing boundaries, we also get backlash.
Joe: I don’t know if there’s a stereotype here in Malaysia but in America, Asians are looked upon as (physically) small, nerdy, quiet, timid, unattractive, desexualised..
Bart: Like for example, if you go to a stand-up comedy show in the US, other ethnics races will have no problems telling jokes about Asians immediately – versus if there were like black folks in the audience, a white comedian would be a little bit more hesitant about saying jokes about them.
Geo: I’m not Asian but..
Bart: She’s Mexican.
Geo: Yeah, I’m Mexican but what really connected to JKFilms in the beginning was, Unco Same and Unco Chin..they have accents and they’re Asians but outside of those 2 elements..they really weren’t your sort of typical Asian guys. They listen to funk, they’re really loud, and I thought, “Hey, that’s really cool because I actually know Asians like that” minus the accent and crazy attires that they wear. And that’s really cool because now you’re talking about the Asians that I grew up with and not what the media often talks about, like the super geeky and nerdy Asians.
What’s the working process like for the JKFilms fam? How do you brainstorm for ideas to feature in your videos?
Joe: A lot of skits that we came up with in the past, they’re inspired by life events that happened to us during childhood or whatnot. Usually the way the brainstorming process goes is, we’re basically telling each other stories of happened when we were 3 years old or “just the other day” or something like that. And then we go, “That’s a great idea, let’s put that into a skit!”
You’ve cemented your brand as Asian American comedians, but what are some things you wish your subscribers knew about you?
Joe: We wish they knew? Hmm..
Bart: Actually I wish they knew less. I don’t think there’s anything that they don’t know!
Joe: We share a lot of our personal lives! But you know, we have a lot of channels and all of them have different purposes. On top of that, we all have personal channels (laughs). We started as JKFilms (group channel) first before we moved on to start our own channels for our more personal stuff. They (Bart and Geo) also own a gym and a clothing brand. The gym is called Barbell Brigade.
Geo: And Joe also owns 2 different companies, and a blog, and he also produces music.
Bart: (teases) Joe is an international DJ.
Joe: We do a lot of things and a lot of people see us as comedians and filmmakers but in reality..in essence, what we really are..are serial entrepreneurs. Whatever idea we have, we turn into reality. So we don’t really have a step-by-step for how we do things. We just.. “Hey, that’s a great idea. Let’s do it!” and that’s how it has always been for all of us.
In what ways do you think that being part of the fam has changed you individually?
Bart: That’s a great question!
Geo: Oohh, yeah that’s a great question. I know for me personally, cause they’ve been my friends before JKFilms started..
Bart: She used to look down on us!
Joe: She was the “business woman” and we were not “business” enough.
Geo: I never looked down on them! I just thought that the films that they were making were really dumb. Like, why are you guys showing me this? Why are guys wasting your time? Why aren’t you guys studying? Why aren’t you guys focusing on school?
Bart: Were you subscribed?
Geo: No! You guys would give it to me and I’m like..so, at that time, I was going to college and I was working full time, and then..like I was just kinda blind to everything in terms of what I can pursue and what I’m supposed to do with my life. Because I was so fixated on these are like the steps you’re supposed to take as an adult: you finish high school, then you immediately go to university, after getting your degree then you immediately start in the workforce, you work for a few years, you get your stability and money, you get married, have kids, the end. And that was what I thought the path was but then..you know..growing with JKFilms, it was like well actually no, that’s not the path because it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s personally what I learnt from being part of this. I think I would be miserable if I had that cookie cutter lifestyle.
Joe: The thing that I love about all of this and how we turned JKFilms into something real is that it proved to me that no matter what, as long as I put my mind into it, I can make it happen. And from JKFilms, I think that’s where they were able to build Barbell Brigade and I was able to build all these other channels.
Bart: International DJ! (laughs)
Joe: (laughs) It becomes like a domino effect thing. And for those out there who want to pursue something and achieve whatever, I’ve met so many people who have achieved greatness and its all the same formula. Once you start working towards something and no matter what achieve that goal by any means necessary, you’ll start to realise that you have more control over your life than you ever thought. So, a lot of people don’t understand how much responsibility or control they have over their own actions, their own emotions, their own lifestyles, and they always narrow it down to just “luck”. Like “These people are successful because they’re lucky” or “I have bad luck, that’s why I can’t make it”. They don’t understand that every single action that they do everyday turns into what the future is going to be.so that’s the biggest lesson for me. I’m really thankful that I went against my fears and was able to build something out of it. I heard this from a speech and this guy said, “Everybody wants a good life, but no one wants to work for it”.
Bart: For me what I really love or what I got from JKFilms is..I think like, in a lot of industries, there are already all these preset routes to success, and most people..they find that and they try to make themselves fit that route. But at JKFilms, we’re very non conventional in the way we do things and I think to us, family is very important. We’ve turned down really big opportunities that would’ve, I guess, skyrocketed or launched our careers, for the sake of our family. And we’ve done things the way we wanted to do them since day one and we’ve never made any sacrifices, and what that has taught me..what I learnt from that is..like Joe said, you can have full control of your life, be 100% accountable for your actions, do things the way you want to, and still be successful without having to fit into one of those presets.
Joe: To put it all together, don’t ever let anyone tell you how your life can pan out. If you have a desire for something, you can break all the rules as long as it’s not illegal. For example, when people say, “Don’t do business with your friends, you’re gonna mess it all up”..we’re doing business, and we’re friends. And when people say, “Don’t do business with your girlfriend”..Bart and Geo are boyfriend and girlfriend. When people say, “You shouldn’t have relationships in the company”, well, we have 3. We break all those rules because we know that we can make it work.
Last one for the road, and a fun question at that – do you remember any crazy fan moments? What are they?
Bart: The craziest fan moment I’ve ever had, was actually not a personal one. Because when I think that when I deal with a people one-on-one like in person, it’s different because they’re accountable for their actions and if it comes down to it, I’d just beat them up or whatever (laughs). But..one of the craziest ones that happen was um, so we use our homes a shoot a lot, and one time, I see this post-it on my doorknob that said, “Hey, I just want you to know that I’m your biggest fan and I know where you live!” I didn’t know how to take it at that time like was I supposed to take it as a compliment or should I be scared? So, I just flipped the post-it over and I wrote, “If you ever show up at my house again, I’m gonna kill you” and I taped it back on the doorknob.
Geo: Yeah, we didn’t get anymore post-its after that.
Joe: I think the craziest was probably when we were filming JustKiddingNews and all of a sudden somebody thumped at our door it felt like there was a police officer outside. We were like, “Wait, did anyone invite someone?” and our office is in a warehouse so it’s very hidden. We opened up the door and there was this guy who was like, “Hi, I brought my kids and they’re big fans of you guys. We found your address on your Internet..” and I was just thinking like, no dude..we’re filming right now sorry. Apparently, the mom was outside filming it and the kids were out there, and the guy was like, “Really? You can’t just come out for 2 minutes to take some pictures with us?” and we’re like, “What? We’re filming, we’re working. What are you doing?”
Bart: I think to people outside we look like we’re just goofing around on JustKiddingNews, but we’re actually on a schedule when we’re filming. They don’t understand that it’s almost like going into a doctor’s office and going, “Stop the surgery! Take off your mask and take a pictures with us!”
Yikes! Not only that. It’s also an invasion of privacy.
Joe, Bart, & Geo: Yeah, definitely! Exactly.
Thanks for sharing that with us, you guys. And thanks for taking time off you schedule to speak with us!
Joe, Bart, & Geo: Thank you! Those were really good questions.
We’ll leave you now with one of their latest videos featuring the hunt for a new JKFilms HQ. Don’t stalk them though ;)
For more information, visit their website.
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(Featured image from Melly Lee)
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