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The Buzz: Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Buzz: Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire
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If you’re like most Americans, you probably spent at least a small amount of time each day surfing the internet, goofing off, looking at cat pictures and watching silly videos. So chances are, you’ve probably already seen the work of the locally based group known as Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire, responsible for a series of hidden-camera public prank videos that have become popular on Youtube.

The troupe is made up of six main members: Roman Atwood, Dennis Roady, Chase Gilroy, Greg Painter, Jeff Williams, Jon Cormany. We had a chance to chat with Dennis (who heads up marketing for the group as well as serving as the principle prankster) to find out more about their newly found internet fame and what kinds of bigger projects are in store for the future:

Q: Do you guys have a background in filmmaking, film production or comedy? What’s your backstory?

A: Roman Atwood has been filming and producing videos since High School. He produced a series of DVDs called “The Nerd Herd” which he sold at Warp Tour 2006. Roman also worked on various film projects and commercials in Columbus until 2010, when he decided to focus on his passion of comedy and created Roman Atwood’s Sketch Empire. Roman knows that if this fails, it’s on to the adult film industry, where dreams go to die.

I started performing standup comedy at age 17 in Cincinnati. Served in the US Army from 2001-2010. Completed local acting/improv classes in Columbus OH. Graduated from Franklin University with B.S. focus on Marketing. Pursued passion of comedy/acting booking network television commercials & print advertising. Joined Sketch Empire May 2010. I soon realized that people found me annoying, and if I could just find someone to film me, those annoyances would be interpreted as pranks.

Chase Gilroy began his passion for video in high school when he took the video broadcasting class that was responsible for broadcasting live video morning announcements. After he realized no one ever cared about morning announcements in high school he knew he needed to think bigger. He has completed his Associates degree in graphic design and is currently working on his Bachelors degree.

Q: So how did this group of people meet?

A: The bulk of the crew have been longtime friends, Atwood & Gilroy go as far back as kindergarten. Believe it or not, Atwood met Cormany and myself via craigslist ads, and surprisingly no one turned out to be creepy… but I guess there’s still time. The first time the group met was in May 2010. We filmed a sketch and never stopped filming. Every single Tuesday we were uploading a new video onto our YouTube channel. We did that consistently for over 12 months, never missing an upload. We believe our upload consistency and reliable team is a big part of our success.

Q: Some of the clips have become wildly popular on YouTube, collectively amassing over 64 million views. Has the warm reception been expected, or has it surpassed your expectations?

A: We film for fun. Comedy is what we all enjoy. Our videos just recently became “wildly popular” and definitely surpassed our expectations. Before, we were just another YouTube channel. Now, we have been dubbed a “viral video production team” by whatsgoodmusic.com and “the new internet standard” by a TBS Television Producer. Simultaneously, we have been successful in booking collaborations with larger YouTube channels and have been contacted by executive officers from several mainstream media outlets.

Q: The first clip I saw myself (“Epic Pee Prank”) was several months ago. Someone embedded the video on the Columbus Underground forum and I watched not realizing it was locally made until I started recognizing the scenery (can’t mistake our Convention Center!). Have you been getting interesting responses from local people viewing the clips or recognizing you guys from the internet?

A: People already recognized us because of the sex offender notices they received in the mail. Kidding! In 2011 614 Magazine did an article about Sketch Empire, and earlier this year The Columbus Dispatch did an article about our Epic Pee Prank video. Now when we are out filming we are recognized by our fans and they say things like “Hi, love your videos!” A few weeks ago, ABC6/FOX28 met us at the Ohio State University and filmed a full story about us. The reporter even helped us prank unsuspecting interviewees for part of their segment.

Q: So where would you like to be in five years? Do you have aspirations to write, act or produce for tv, film or other formats?

A: In five years we want to be working together, expanding our reach, collaborating with successful like-minded talent, creating full feature movies and staying ahead of the curve. What we have is very rare and unique… we work so well together. Words can’t explain it but our videos and recent success can.

Q: Got any upcoming video clip releases that we should keep an eye out for? Or any fun concepts in the works that you can let us in on in advance?

A: Currently we are working on a web-series show for Break.com called “OutPrank”. Our objective is to accept a challenge from creators of popular pranks on the web and “OutPrank” their prank. We get to meet amazing comedians, challenge our skills, and expand our network and reach. It’s our first show with a budget, and I think it will go over well and entertain the viewers.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Recently we have been scheduling collaborations with amazing talents and organizations. We have upcoming work with mainstream media companies within the USA and Canada. It’s an achievement we worked very hard for and we are excited to take on the new challenges the “next level” throws at us.

More information can be found online at www.sketchempire.com or www.youtube.com/user/RomanAtwood.

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