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From comedy shorts to voice-over beauty hacks from your favorite creators, scripted content was prevalent in the days of YouTube’s early rise. Have we come to the end of skits on YouTube? Is scripted content being replaced with more “relatable” content?
YouTube, like all things, has gone through a myriad of changes and seasons. The first video on YouTube “Me at the zoo” showcases a man standing in front of an elephant exhibit. The video is just 19 seconds long, yet it garnered over 250 million views. The virality of this clip indicates that viewers like authenticity. YouTube’s audience is more interested in the novel and new.
From an innocuous videosharing website for viewers to watch compilations of cats making mischief to the place for Vevo artists to upload their music videos and DIY videos of YouTubers helping their audiences dye their hair, YouTube has seen many phases of the internet.
An artifact of the platform is the skits on YouTube. Nowadays, scripted content is seldom on mainstream YouTube.
Interested in the evolution of YouTube? Read more about the rise of scripted content like video essays in this blog.
Wong Fu Productions
One of the most prolific channels on YouTube and one of the original YouTubers is Wong Fu Productions. Wong Fu Productions is a film-making company founded by Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, and Philip Wang. They were the first Asian-American creators on the platform to create, write, and direct compelling stories about Asian representation. Founded in 2007, the channel has amassed over 3 million subscribers and 600 million views on their main channel.
Wong Fu is known for making romantic skits and short films. The faces of the channel itself are the founders, but it has since evolved with the production team and employees producing cameos. The most viewed video on the channel is a short film titled, “Strangers, again” with over 20 million views.
In addition to romantic and drama videos, Wong Fu created many skits that generated millions of views. One of Wong Fu’s most popular skits is, “How old is she?”, a skit about a guy interested in a girl whose age he does not know. The 5-minute video received nearly 8 million views back in 2015.
Nowadays, with the waning popularity of skits, Wong Fu’s scripted content doesn’t perform as well as before. One of their recent skits, “When K-Dramas watch YOU” is about K-drama characters breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the audience. The video was around the same length as one of the top-performing videos, but it barely received 45,000 views.
Nevertheless, Wong Fu Productions remain one of the most prolific channels on YouTube. The channel skyrocketed the demand for romantic short films and comedy skits on the platform. Skits on YouTube were typically comedy bits, however, Wong Fu Productions transformed skits on YouTube into a full production. Filled with diverse representation rarely seen in American media, Wong Fu Productions were one of the best skit producers.
Ultimately, filming skits on YouTube resulted in Wong Fu graduating from small-time skits on YouTube to filming a movie in 2015. Wong Fu Productions released Everything Before Us to announce their feature film release on Netflix and iTunes. Shockingly, the trailer alone amassed over a million views.
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JK Films to JK News
Just Kidding Films is a film production company that joined YouTube around the same time as Wong Fu. While Wong Fu was romantic and heartfelt, JK Films was irreverent and hilarious. Best-friend duo Joe Jitsukawa and Bart Kwan founded the channel and company.
JK Films and its affiliated channels have amassed over 5 million subscribers and over 300 million views on its main channel alone. From 2010-2014, JK Films posted a skit on their channel every week on Sunday. One of their most viewed videos on their channel is called “Korean Teacher in America” posted over 10 years ago in 2012, receiving over 3.4 million views.
In October 2014, JKFilms announced they would end their weekly scripted content to focus on new endeavors for the channel, expressing their desire to make a movie. Their video titled bluntly JustKiddingFilms Quits featured the cast and crew, explaining that after four years of making skits, they were ready to move on to other projects.
Nowadays, despite being named JK Films, most of their efforts are allocated to their more popular channel, JK News. The faces of the channel, Bart and Joe focused their energy on commentating on news and sharing candid stories about their lives. The channel’s legacy of producing skits was long gone. In addition, their current channel has taken advantage of YouTube’s new Shorts feature. With the help of their show, the duo now creates teaser-like Shorts to help gain traction.
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Long vs Short Form Content and its Effect on Skits
During the early to mid-2010s of YouTube, short and sweet videos were ideal, similar to how many TikTok users prefer short forms of content. At the time, these 5-10 minute sweet-spot videos would receive the most attention on the platform.
One of the original YouTubers on the platform, Ryan Higa, amassed over 21 million subscribers and accumulated over 4.3 billion views before the existence of YouTube Shorts. Higa is responsible for one of YouTube’s most popular trends: Roast Yourself Challenge.
On October 31, 2015, Ryan Higa posted a 30-minute skit to his channel ‘nigahiga’ called ‘The Last Skitzo!’. The video was abnormally long for the algorithm of the time. In a following video, Higa admitted that he could have “easily turn[ed] that video into six, 5-minute videos, upload it, and upload it, you know, six different times and literally get like six times the views”. Despite this, Higa’s popularity helped rack up 13 million views on the video that would’ve been neglected by YouTube’s algorithm.
Ultimately, skits on YouTube were a trend on YouTube that gained popularity and heavy traction during the early to mid-2010s and generated a surplus of creators and videos. Skits on YouTube laid the foundation for the future generation of YouTube and trends that are present on the site today.