Insights in youth Offered by trendwolves A glimpse into the future

Humour heroes: interview with Jerome Jarre

Jerome Jarre

Professional Humourist
From Paris, Lives in New York

Jerome Jarre picture

A couple of years ago, showing your best and cool self was a much used means to acquire status. Today it’s the funny guys that score high in the popularity ranks.

Aside from this development, more and more youngsters have begun to realize that continuously updating your profile status on Instagram and Facebook doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Gradually but slowly, people get tired of this proliferation of social narcissism. This is reflected in the rise of new platforms in which it’s the funny guys that call the shots, pulling together a record number of devoted followers. We were fortunate to have a Skype call with one of the funniest guys alive today.

25 years old and 8,5 million followers

8,5 million followers on Vine, 1,9 million followers on Instagram, 1,2 million followers on Twitter, 0,9 million subscribers on his Youtube channel and 2 million fans on Facebook. In 2015 he won a Shorty Award, who honour the best people and organizations on social media, as Snapchatter. Together with ‘ultimate businessman’ Gary Vaynerchuk, he founded GrapeStory: a talent agency that connects micro-content creators to brands. Some of his videos are rather embarrassing, whereas other clips are just plain silly, many are empowering and aim to spread his message: LOVE LIFE LIKE CRAZY. Without exception, everything he does is amusing. And maybe that’s why his optimism preaching works?

France-China-Canada-New York

Jarre was raised by his mother in one of Paris’ infamous banlieuses. Ironically, at the age of 19, dropping out of business school became the kick-start of a thriving career.
“All I felt I was learning was how to get a job. Yet that wasn’t my pursuit in life. So I quit, in spite of the hurt I was causing my mother and family. But also my friends thought I was going to be a complete failure. In part to prove everyone wrong, I moved to China, stayed there for a year and revitalized myself before moving to Canada and finally New York.”

“Why is Everybody Afraid of Love?”

Jarre’s first Vine ‘Why is Everybody Afraid of Love’ quickly garnered a great deal of attention. Still without doubt, variables such as luck and coincidence, play a huge role in the success of ‘Internet stars’. “I made that clip during one of my first days in New York. With tons of strangers around me, I felt desperately alone that day, when all of a sudden the question dawned on me: why is everybody afraid of love? I truly felt like hugging everybody! I came by this little Asian woman in a store, when I uttered wholly out of the blue ‘LOVE!’ Boy, did I scare her… I didn’t consider it that good really, but already the day after it aired on Buzzfeed and the Ellen Show. That was the beginning of it all”.

Viners United

In Toronto he met a bunch of popular Viners. That encounter made him realize that developing an app around this phenomenon could in fact become a lucrative business.
“I really wanted to help Viners make a living out of Vine and since I was actually one of them, that made plenty of sense. So I started a company called GrapeStory together with Gary. Through this business, we represent the best content creators on Vine and other micro-blogs and connect them with brands. As such, we’ve done campaigns for all kinds of companies. When companies want to air on Vine, they should collaborate with people that are obsessed by it and really love the app rather than go out and try it themselves. Vine is a complicated format, that should not be underestimated!”

“I think everybody who creates content should keep it positive.”

Secrets of success

Although he still considers the popularity of his creations ‘unreal’, he does have one explanation for it: his French je-ne-sais-quoi. “I think a big factor is that I’m a foreigner. It’s funny for people that I’m in New York with a big accent with all kinds of French habits. For example, everyone in New York calls for a taxi like this (Jerome puts his hand up), which got me thinking, ‘perhaps they want a high five!’. A lot of people thought that was funny because it’s so different from what they usually see. But in France, I wouldn’t be that different, you know”.

Immediately, he adds another, more important reason: “All my content is positive.
That first Vine “Why is Everybody Afraid of Love?” resulted in quite a following. I told myself: I’m not having an audience to spread negativity. Whichever way, I don’t want my clips to have a bad impact on the world. I always remain positive with everything I do. I think everybody who creates content should do that. I’ve always been positive and love spreading it”.

Fame is bullshit

Although he is hugely successful, the Vine celebrity remains remarkably modest. Accordingly so, it is no coincidence that his adage is to remain true to yourself. “It’s all about exploring and growing. This outlook does require a fair share of self-reflection though. But I also learned to persevere and not give up. When I arrived in New York, I was totally broke, sleeping on the floor of an office. Up to two months ago, that was still my living situation. Luckily I found a nice place to live. I really want to keep it real and that why I’m not moving to L.A for instance. My chances for success are statistically higher there, but I don’t want to trap in this fame thing. Because – and this is the only time you’ll hear me swear – fame is bullshit.”

Bye bye Vine, hello Snapchat

The World Wide Web is like a jungle; only the fittest survive. New formats and concepts to cater to the needs and likes of youngsters are omnipresent these days, but only a few of these formats actually stand the test of time. More often than not, another, more attractive novelty is lurking behind the corner. As such, there’s fairly little (brand) loyalty. “Right now, I’m not making a lot of Vines anymore. In fact, I’ve moved over to Snapchat. As a longer format, Snapchat allows me to tell longer stories. It generates more impact than my Vines. As for now, it’s really the next big thing. But who knows what medium or format will be next. I would love to be part of the creation of a new platform.”

It is an all too familiar dynamic in the world of novelties & the Internet: popular apps that rapidly turn into lucrative cash cows for developers and investors. The early adopters are often not amused at all. Snapchat’s refusal to become part of Mark Zuckerberg’s empire for a staggering three billion dollars was presumably the best marketing ever, particularly since young people are remarkably critical when it comes to commercial interests. Jarre certainly is no exception to this.

Driven by the good cause

“The thing that makes me sad about Vine is that at the end of the day they are owned by big corporations such as Twitter; corporations who are all active on the stock market. At the top, the metric to measure the success of these apps is money. But it shouldn’t be like that. I was in love with Vine because I thought it was going to change the world. It seemed like a Renaissance; everybody started to create things…But still, in the end, money prevails. That hunger for money should be replaced by societal engagement”, Jarre asserts. “The measure should be how much you’re changing the world with your app, how positive an impact you have on society and how much art is being created with your app.”

Fame is bullshit and more life lessons with humour hero @jeromejarre.

✍Note for the future

Social networks such as Snapchat, which displays photographs temporarily, make it easier for us to make fun of ourselves than networks like Facebook, where content spreads and is difficult to keep under control. This applies to consumers as well as brands. To implement humour in your communication requires extensive knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not in the online humour department. It becomes harder to get a hold of and utilise these platforms for commercial objectives particularly in the periphery of the Internet, the so-called deep web.

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What this trend is about...

The ideology of laughter, fun and play

Young people are all about enjoying life. Facilitated and stimulated by the Internet, they consciously take time off to have a good time. Although they are ambitious and feel that the pressure is on, they are also very aware that the pursuit to success shouldn’t come at any price, particularly since they’ve witnessed –often at first hand- the toll it has taken on their parents as well as other generations before them. For many young people today, having fun outweighs the desire to win. Specifically on the web, humour is all-pervasive. While the masters in self-mockery are considered the new heroes, joy is increasing in power. Humour and play are gaining more ground and form a fertile outlet for self-expression, and a key ingredient for communication.

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