By Sahil Patel
“Grown Ups 2,” the sequel to the 2010 hit comedy film “Grown Ups,” stars a lot of people you recognize from TV and movies, including Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, Salma Hayek, and Maya Rudolph in lead roles as well as appearances from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Meadows. If you watch a lot of YouTube videos, you will also recognize another familiar face: Jimmy Tatro.
“I got an email from my manager one day saying that Adam Sandler had seen one or two of my videos and wanted me to audition for the role of a frat guy in his new movie,” says Tatro. “So yeah, it’s safe to say I was without a doubt 100 percent down.”
It’s a notable leap for Tatro, who has seen his YouTube stock rise since he launched his Life According to Jimmy channel on November 23, 2011. In a little more than 19 months, Tatro has seen his subscriber numbers top 1.5 million — a growing fanbase that altogether has seen his YouTube videos more than 113 million times.
When asked to explain his meteoric rise in the past year or so, Tatro cites hard work and consistency. “I’ve been doing a video a week for over a year and a half now, which I think adds a certain level of credibility in the eyes of potential subscribers,” he says. “People will like your videos or they won’t. But the more you have, the more people will like, and if they can count on you every week to give them original content, that’s how you start building your fan-base.”
With that consistency in mind, Tatro publishes a comedy video sketch every Monday. Some feature other talent who have managed to find an audience online. In fact, his most popular video is a sketch with Laina (she of the Overly Attached Girlfriend fame), which has been viewed over 13.7 million times. “Collaborations have also been a huge accelerator (for audience growth),” says Tatro, “but it’s really been a learning process as far as figuring out what my subscribers respond to the best and what they want to see.
Take a glance at Tatro’s YouTube channel, and you can make an educated guess that his subscribers like low-brow frat-boy humor, which should feel right at home in any movie produced by Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Productions.
And Tatro hopes that “Grown Ups 2” is the start of the next stage of his career. “I’ve always wanted to be in movies and TV shows,” he says, “but having the ability to be in charge of the creative side while starring in them is what really drives me.”
It’s why he launched Life According to Jimmy.* “I saw it as a great place to start off on my own without taking the traditional ‘go on a ton of auditions while living a separate life as a waiter’ approach,” says Tatro. “YouTube allows me to be my own boss and do whatever I want, which is awesome. I’m incredibly fortunate to be in the position I’m in while I focus on getting to the next level.”
So what’s next? “I’ve been working on a couple of shows that we’re hoping to get on TV,” says Tatro. “I’ve talked about some movie ideas as well, but in my eyes comedy is comedy — there are many different ways to go about it and I don’t want to limit myself to any of them.”
In other words, just because Tatro now has a foot in the door to “traditional media,” don’t expect him to neglect his YouTube channel. “In two years I would love to have my own TV show and be landing more movie roles, but at the same time it would be cool to keep my YouTube channel going,” he says. “It might not be a video every Monday at that point, but for now, I’m not at all content with where my channel is at.”
“Grown Ups 2” arrives in theaters this Friday, July 12. Jimmy Tatro is represented by Big Frame.
*Incidentally, while checking out some of Tatro’s videos on YouTube, I was served with several ads for “Grown Ups 2,” which isn’t all that surprising, but still something to take a stock of. At the end of some of his videos, Tatro also spotlights his appearance in the movie’s first trailer, which you can see below: