commodoreHUSTLE: The heck’s up with that?
November 11th, 2009

Posted by Graham

If you’re here, you probably like us. We like you too. That’s why we like to keep you guys in the loop for any changes we make.

We figure that even if you’re not 100% behind a given change, at least we’re being direct about it, right?

Now, commodoreHUSTLE. You love watching it, and goodness we love making it. And it’s not stopping, but it is changing. I’m going to do my best to explain how, and why.

—–

So, way back, we started cH for a bunch of reasons. Essentially they run down like this:

  • - For fun! (Like most of what we do)
  • - To try our hand at longer-form videos (and I think we learned a lot)
  • - To unify our “Us Playing Us” videos into a cohesive continuity.

But, to be perfectly honest, a huge reason was:

  • - To bring in more viewers.

See, we think we’re really good. I mean, we’re extremely biased of course, but we think we’re one of the best sites doing what we do, and it’s always been sort of apparent that we don’t get as many viewers as we feel we ought to. We love all the viewers we have (you guys!) but more would allow us to turn the site into at least a part-time job for us.

The problem with bring viewers in through sketch comedy is that it’s different every week. We happen to love that, because it lets us be creative and try new things all the time, but with no ongoing plot or recurring characters, it can’t hold an audience week-to-week. And we don’t want to stop doing sketches, certainly. So we started a web series.

—–

But to bring an audience in, you have to be targeting an audience. Every popular web series has an audience, and so does cH, but unfortunately cH’s audience (and one who’s interests we targeted with laser precision) was people who were already fans of LRR. So, in that regard, it didn’t work.

As the series went on, the plot became almost too self-referential (is there such a thing?) and the jokes (while still great!) became more about getting characters to where they needed to be for plot-reasons, instead of character, or even comedy.

I’m saying: We learned a lot.

—–

Something else that cH Season 1 was, as well as fun: a lot of work. A 15 – 17 minute episode every month, as well as three standard videos? That’s a tough workload. Each episode of cH was shot over at least three days, and that’s a huge time commitment for people who (as a reminder) aren’t being paid to do this. It’s also interesting to note that since Season 1 of cH ended, there have been a lot of comments on how the quality of our weekly videos has improved, and I’m sure that’s related to us not feeling completely worn out every three weeks.

Which brought up the question: If it’s not bringing in new fans, and we’re not making money from it, can we validate putting in the huge time commitment to do it?

Considering we now have Unskippable, and ENN (which are projects we actually get paid for) we really can’t. So what does this mean?

—–

Well, we’re not going to stop making cH, certainly. We love it, you love it, it’s win-win! But some changes have to be made.

For one thing, it’s going to be shorter, probably around the 7-minute length you saw in the Season 1 epilogue. Secondly, while it will still retain continuity and maintain the persistent “cH Universe”, the videos will be largely self-contained. I guess they’ll be a hybrid of cH and the “us playing us” videos of previous years.

I know this is going to be a blow to many of you, but trust us when we say that it was a hard decision for all of us, and the subject of several, tiring discussions.

Also, if previous changes to site layout and video content are anything to go on, you’ll get used to it soon :)

—–

In addition to the reasons I mentioned above, there’s another big reason not to have a monthly update that’s exceedingly self-referential and 17-minutes long, and that reason is something I can’t tell you about now. Speculate all you like, but I can’t say yet. I will say this:

– It’s a good thing.

– We’re not stopping.

– It doesn’t involve nudity or animals (No promises).

—–

One more thing, sorry for not mentioning all this earlier (I know a lot of you were really looking forward to the next season with readied expectations) but a lot of these things came about recently (especially that last, secret one) and we didn’t get a chance.

Hope that answers most of your questions about the new commodoreHUSTLE. If you’ve still got more, I’ll my best to answer them!

—–

Thanks guys,

Graham


34 Comments »

  1. When I first started reading this I was really worried, but now that I read it all I am fine with these changes and think they make sense. Although I liked the long cH videos, I think keeping them under ten minutes will be a good thing. As long as you don’t talk about huffing dongs for the entire episode.

    Comment by jtaylor — November 11, 2009 @ 12:42 am

  2. I disagree. An episode discussing Dong Huffing would be awesome.

    Anyway, shorter episodes sound okay… I guess… but I mean it’s not like you guys are doing anything else important…

    Okay enough stupid jokes. I know everyone will stand behind you guys no matter what you decide to go with and I’m eagerly awaiting the new season.

    Comment by Steelfox — November 11, 2009 @ 1:05 am

  3. Hey Graham. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say no worries. It was your guys’ genius that made LRR into what we love today. It would be silly of anyone who enjoys your work to now tell you not to continue to take it where it leads you. That’s how the videos got so awesome in the first place. All the power to you and we look forward to whatever you create on whatever terms you deem fit.

    Comment by Shandi — November 11, 2009 @ 1:14 am

  4. I was a little worried after seeing the recent video but all the changes to CH you’ve listed have rational & well thought out reasoning behind them so I can’t argue. We love you for specifically directing season one at your fanbase & look forward to seeing how you handle season two.

    I wish I could pay you for doing LRR but I can only buy so many shirts & DVDs. I do have some ideas, but I’ll wait until I visit during Desert Bus to discuss them.

    Comment by Evil Jim — November 11, 2009 @ 1:20 am

  5. I’m cool with the new CH changes, it’s better than nothing, I was amazed at how you managed 17 minutes a month as it was.
    Now with Unskipable and ENN and jobs it makes sense for you to stop, which your not doing your just making it shorter.
    I hope there is still a chance for a commodoreHUSTLE DVD, I’m sure that would bring you a lot of well deserved cash.

    Comment by kzap333 — November 11, 2009 @ 1:23 am

  6. Eh. The funny in the epilogue definitely seemed more high-pressure. I think I’ll miss the old style of web-series but I do believe that the shorter-length videos will end up being better videos.

    While I’m at it, the “Abomination” line was fantastic.

    Comment by gryffinp — November 11, 2009 @ 1:35 am

  7. @gryffinp Yea I agree I liked the old style videos better but if they’re finding it too hard to keep doing them then this is best.
    When I first started watching commodoreHUSTLE was in full swing and with the weekly videos, commodoreHUSTLE, Unskipable and sometimes Phailhouse I just assumed this was their full time job.
    I’m amazed they managed to pull it off as long as they did and while it was good while it lasted I’m fine with them shortening them, we don’t want Graham to burn out do we.
    It would be nice if they brought the longer format back for a one off, maybe a commodoreHUSTLE Christmas special but I doubt they’ll have time to get that done.

    Comment by kzap333 — November 11, 2009 @ 2:27 am

  8. No sweat dude. To be honest I was looking forward to 17 minute episodes but I’m sure I’ll learn to like the 7 minute ones.

    Also Unskippable + ENN + Shorter CHustle = Better than 17 minute CHustle.

    Comment by Chaoticneutral — November 11, 2009 @ 3:43 am

  9. I’m mostly happy about this. I could see the reasons to cut down episode length as soon as you mentioned it yesterday (and really started to wonder how you’d managed to keep it up for so long), and I remember you saying at the end of Season 1 that you’d need to change it to make it less self-referential. And I was pretty much going to riot if there wasn’t more Us Playing Us-style material in Season 2, because I love those videos and the early Hustle episodes, and didn’t want the longer storylines to permanently take over, awesome though they were.

    I will shed one final tear in memory of the three-hour incestuously self-referential fanservice extravaganza that was commodore HUSTLE Season 1, and then speak of it no more.

    Comment by ThrashJazzAssassin — November 11, 2009 @ 6:50 am

  10. I HATE YOU, YOU’RE NOT MY REAL FATHER!

    1. If I had to guess, I would guess this new secret project would be linked to the Resident Evil Game pilot thing. However, if you are working on a secret project which you can’t talk about or we may never see, PLEASE DON’T SAY! What’s the point in doing so? What with ENN, Unskippable and Desert Bus its pretty clear you guys are ‘getting there’. Its like a dangling comedic carrot in front of a donkey…hm, yes.

    2. RELEASE THE FUCKING SEASON 5 DVD SO I CAN BUY IT AND YOU CAN DO MORE BLOW OFF HOOKERS.

    3. I always reckoned the ‘You Playing You’ part of commodoreHUSTLE was more important than the epic storyline. I love you guys!

    Comment by Emperor Gum — November 11, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

  11. I am actually all in favor for this. Contrary to the popular opinion, I did not look forward to the CH videos nearly as much as just the random things, and it is not because I am just a casual interloper, I have listened to all the podcasts, have seen nearly every video and lurk on the forums. But, I am all in favor of a series of videos that are self contained, but within the same world. For me, this is the perfect combination of short stories within the same world where themes can be explored quickly and easily without having to do much extra setup or background stories. Kind of like the early future history series by Heinlen.

    Comment by branmyson — November 11, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  12. Sounds good I look forward to seeing what you will do with it. Are you going to try and do another series (maybe not as long time wise) that will have a common theme that will draw other to the site? I think this would be a great idea (maybe the big secret?). Either way I trust what ever is done will still be good, it has been over 6 years and you haven’t failed us yet.

    Comment by Niveus Leo — November 11, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  13. @Kzap333 But that’s the thing then. I’m not sure that I do like the old ones more. I feel like the epilogue was funnier then a lot of the other commodoreHUSTLEs previous. I will miss the more syndication-esque format, but I can definitely see how it will lead to an increase in comedy.

    Comment by gryffinp — November 11, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  14. @Emperor Gum

    “However, if you are working on a secret project which you can’t talk about or we may never see, PLEASE DON’T SAY!”

    I can assure you this is going to happen, so don’t worry.

    Comment by James — November 11, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  15. I’m behind these decisions 100%. If there’s anything within my means that I can do to help further your goals, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Keep up the awesome!

    Comment by Cade Antilles — November 11, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  16. While I am fine with this I want to share something.

    I found the site, probably like many of the newer fans, by watching zero punctuation and then checking out what else was at the escapist i.e. unskipable and then eventually checking out what you guys actually do. The first video I saw was ComadoreHUSTLE: growl. What i like about it, and what made it different from other sketch stuff that I saw online, was that it seemed so connected. Their were jokes that were made that I didn’t get at all, but because both the plot and the jokes referenced prexisting content it convinced me to go back and watch HUSTLE all the way through in order to better under stand it.

    My point here is, first and foremost make each episode funny on it’s own marrets, but keep at least a semblance of plot since that causes at least certain types of people to go back and find out what happened before and then come back next month to see how it continuous.

    Comment by pigmy wurm — November 11, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  17. By secret project do you mean L4D2 is being released?

    Comment by Dash — November 11, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  18. Graham, I’m trying really hard to get behind you guys on this one, so I ask one question.

    Will there be dedicated servers in cH S2? I’m trying to give you a chance.

    Seriously, though, I agree with everything you’ve stated. Also, I think it lends itself more to LRR’s sense of humour not to be tied down to plot too much. Good stuff.

    Comment by Metcarfre — November 12, 2009 @ 1:48 am

  19. :) I defiantly see the reason there yes. Fair enough cutting down the video size you guys still amaze me on how you pull it off each week especially now with ENN and unskipable plus your daily lives of course. I look forward to seeing what the team does in the near future.

    Cheers for the 3 videos I must catch each week.

    Comment by Dempsas — November 12, 2009 @ 3:38 am

  20. I will be fine with this, assuming You guys Finally make Underpantalooms 2!

    Comment by Sir_Lag — November 12, 2009 @ 3:58 am

  21. Personally, I came to this site because of one of your more ‘mainstream’ updates, but I became a fan and stayed because of the ephemera you produced alongside such releases. I welcomed cH as one more such facet of your output, but I didn’t find it eo ipso providing any greater draw for me to this site and to this community. Now, sadly, and for arguably good reason given your other commitments, that ephemera (podcasts, bonus updates, blog posts even) has dropped off to near-nothingness, and I don’t feel that modifying one of the forms of your main output will really do much to rejuvenate the returns you receive from it.

    Comment by Greg Dyke — November 12, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  22. As long as they keep coming out I’m happy. Hell, if you guys have to adjust to make sure you don’t grind yourselves into the ground then adjust! Adjust, I say! While I loved the aspect of getting an almost 20 minute episode every month I would hate for you guys to get wrecked and fizzle out later.

    Best of luck and Much Love

    Niko

    Comment by Niko88 — November 12, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

  23. Commodore Hustle season 1 was epic. You guys did an amazing job with the longer playtimes, the overarching plot, jokes, etc.

    But, now you’ve done it.

    It ended so well and so completely that there’s nothing left hanging and no reason to do it again with another season just the same. Change is good, and these changes sound very interesting. What you’re planning on doing just sounds…right, although I can’t explain why.

    Comment by Timelady — November 12, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  24. I’ll be happy with any changes you guys need to make to bring in views. I think you guys deserve to be making money for the effort you put into your videos. You should know your website is under appreciated by the rest of interwebs and is one of my favorites, which I visit on a regular basis.

    What’s funny is that I had seen your “Halo Future” video and your “Rejected Wii Games” video a long time ago, but did not follow you guys until 6 or 7 months ago when I saw “Fun with Condoms” being broadcast on my local cable access channel at about 9:30 pm on a Thursday. With no censorship! :)

    Keep up the good stuff.

    Comment by dooberry — November 13, 2009 @ 2:53 am

  25. Heavily continuity-based humor is great, but it killed Arrested Development.

    Comment by Dominic Appleguard — November 14, 2009 @ 1:27 am

  26. scaling back cH is a sad thing but if its for the good of Lrr then its a great thing. I and all the rest of the fans want Lrr to get stronger and if this is the way then I support any changes to that end fully.

    Comment by crabcore — November 15, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  27. Honestly I’m amazed you guys even manage to do all the stuff you do now, even without cH, so any Hustle is good for me. I can barely keep up with one or two videos a week, your editing prowess never ceases to amaze me.

    Comment by Numbert — November 15, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  28. Wow, that’s a really considerate and informative post. Thanks.
    I’m sure cH, no matter what form it might take will amuse me.

    Hell, it could be a biannual 3-hour sockpuppet performance and I’d probably still like it.
    Good luck with the secret and non-secret things.

    Comment by Bea — November 16, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  29. If we buy enough of your shit, will you return to the old length?

    Comment by Pilot Luke — November 16, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

  30. @Greg Dyke: One of the reasons that other content has fallen by the wayside was the immense amount of writing, planning and shooting time involved in each episode of cH.
    I think our other content has been stronger since the season stopped.

    Now, granted, we’ve been behind on the Phail, but once we figure out a better schedule it’ll return. I like it too much!

    Comment by Graham — November 17, 2009 @ 3:55 am

  31. Never commented on the blog before, so here goes.

    I admit, I was a tad disappointed – the hustles are my favourite videos, next to iron stomach challenges (so more of those would be awesome and appreciated). But frankly, it’s your site, your work, and especially given that you’re doing videos you’re being paid for (which is awesome), the stuff that we like, as terrible leeches who have never given you anything, is the secondary priority. So, in conclusion, whatever you guys feel you need to do, your community will support you.

    Looking forward to seeing the new style of it. And some new iron stomach challenges.

    Subtle. That’s me.

    Comment by Keegan — November 17, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  32. I am on board with everything, guys. However, if you want to, I’ll volunteer to come to Victoria, and lie on the floor outside the moonbase, just so you can physically feel the sensation of draggins someone kicking and screaming.

    Comment by tak197 — November 17, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  33. hey, you keep making em and i’ll keep watching them and spreading the good word down here in the states. i’ve been a fan of you guys for about a year now (by way of unskippable) and am pimping you to everyone i know.

    by the by, I’m an nyu film student, and if you guys ever want to comedown to manhatta and do a screening (sketches, commodorehustle, whatever) I’d love to help you shove your foot in the door and set up a respawn point. also, when ever you decide to put out a cH dvd, i will buy that.

    Comment by eric — November 19, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  34. I think the “we’ll get used to it” idea is right. As with many shows’ first seasons changes always come in the second season.

    I’d hope to put my money on a LRR pilot for Comedy Central taking up your time… Mainstream and full time work as LRR here we come. I remember the podcast where in the Ask LRR they said they would sell if a network wanted them.

    Comment by Canonfoder — November 19, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

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