Jake and Amir on Loneliness, Horniness, and Their New Vimeo Series Lonely and Horny

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Amir Blumenfeld (left) and Jake Hurwitz. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

For much of their twenties, and a little bit of their thirties, Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld played heightened versions of themselves on the CollegeHumor web series Jake and Amir. In the space of a few minutes every week, the duo carved out tiny portraits of co-dependent co-workers: Amir, manic and devious; Jake, the straight man who hid small pockets of insecurity. After eight years, the duo left CollegeHumor last year to strike it out on their own. Though a TV adaptation of the web series failed to get traction at TBS and truTV, they've just come out with a new project on Vimeo, where they leave their old character behind for good. It's called Lonely and Horny, and it stars Blumenfeld as Ruby, an abrasive nerd desperately swiping his way across Los Angeles. (Hurwitz plays the teacher of a pickup-artist class Ruby attends, and also directed the series.) Shortly before the show's premiere at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Vulture caught up with Jake and Amir to discuss making the show, stepping away from "Jake" and "Amir," and whether New York or L.A. is more horny.

You guys played the same characters for eight years. Now you've both got to be someone else. Was that a hard transition?
Jake: It was actually surprisingly easy. It's probably a harder transition for people who watch the videos. The last couple years of doing the [CollegeHumor] videos, we were joking around all the time, making these different characters that we couldn't explore because they didn't make sense with the Jake and Amir world. By the time we finished Jake and Amir, we had his character pretty much fully formed. Not named Ruby Jade — it took us forever to come up with that perfect name — but that character was making us laugh for a year or two.

Where did he come from?
Jake: [To Amir] 
I think it was a natural progression from your actual character.

Amir: We grew up and started hearing these dating stories. When you're 30, what's the funny situation? You, on a terrible double date. When you're 22, you're running around drinking with your friends, not doing anything important. I would say that the harder transition was more on the writing side, when we were creating the character. Once the lines were written, it felt easy for us. We just had to say the words on the page.

Jake: Acting's really simple! [Laughs.]

Amir: If you're not good at it, it's easy as hell.

What made the writing hard?
Jake: 
The scripts had to be like two or three times as long as we were used to ...

Amir: ... While still maintaining the audience interest. In the Jake and Amir world, we just were cramming as many jokes as possible into two or three pages and then we're out. If anything, they should have been a little longer. Here, there was more room to breathe. Scenes can be seven, eight, nine, ten pages.

Jake: And there is this weird in-between, too, because we're not making web shorts in a minute-and-a-half that people consume like popcorn. But, we're also not making a TV show that needs to be three acts and have act breaks and arcs. Each episode was like a mini-vignette of some scene in his life we wanted to explore.

How did you guys choose that eight-minute run time? You don't see a lot of web videos that long.
Amir: I think it was a Vimeo thing. They wanted to make longer episodes, but less of them. So intend of like, 800 three-minute videos, why not make ten-by-ten. Basically a movie's length, told in ten acts. 

Jake: It was also a baby step for us. If we had gotten thrown into a 30-page script by ourselves, we might have freaked out.

Had your collaborative process changed since the Jake and Amir days?
Amir: Especially on set, yeah. When we were shooting for CollegeHumor, we were both directors, we were both actors, we were both writers. And here we split: Jake went more directing, less acting; I went less directing, more acting. It was me on camera, and Jake telling me what to do.

Was there tension there?
Amir: Maybe a little bit more than usual. Not like screaming matches. He thinks that he's the boss, when really it's the other way around. I'm carrying the load. He doesn't realize that.

Jake: Directors need to stroke this fragile ego, so his world can remain intact.

How much research did you guys do with actual pickup artists?
Jake: I read a little bit of The Game and watched some of [Neil Strauss's] YouTube videos. A lot of that stuff was ingrained in my head, because it was so prevalent in the culture when I was growing up. It was all so interesting, because as we were making this, a lot of them were writing these memoirs that were reversing everything that they said.

Amir: "Girls don't like it when you're mean to them, actually, so don't do that."

Is this show you guys growing up, too?
Jake: Definitely.

Amir: I think it's the best thing we've ever made. We've matured. One, it objectively looks better. It's shot on nicer lenses.

Jake: Can't argue with that. It at least looks good. The question is, Will it be funny?, and we think so. It has a little bit more depth to it. Not every scene is hysterical. Some of it is also socially interesting. 

How did you figure out the right amount of humor then?
Amir: 
We alternated. One joke, one message, back and forth.

Jake: We tried to take things as seriously as we could — and it's impossible for us to take anything very seriously for too long. So even though there's a little more meaning injected into this, we can't shy away from dick jokes. They come to the surface anyway. But I think because it looks so good, and because you grow to like this character, we earn the dick jokes even more than we did with the web series.

Amir: There's this one episode that's our honest take about why Ruby can't succeed with ladies. It's the most serious episode, and it also contains the most absurd joke: It comes out that in one point in my life I went on six dates with an olive. The more serious we get, the more absurd we have to get to stay grounded.

How do you balance making Ruby so terrible without turning the audience off?
Jake: For whatever reason, Amir is like, inherently likable.

Amir: It's ’cause I look like a cartoon chipmunk. [Makes face.] How mad could you be?

Jake: See these chubby little cheeks. It doesn't matter what he does or what he says, you're like, I forgive you and I want you to win. In the Jake and Amir stories, Amir stabs me. And people would comment online that I was mean to Amir. He stabbed me!

Amir: I have the opposite of a punchable face. I have a huggable cheek.

Ruby's swiping basically 24 hours a day. What's your opinion on Tinder in real life?
Amir: 
It definitely creates an idea of ADD when it comes to dating. Like, Even if this is okay, I have a thousand people waiting to be judged so I don't need this right now. As much as it helps [dating], I'm sure it's not great.

Is that why you're not on it?
Amir: I'm not
on it ’cause the girls are fucking mean to me. I'm joking. I starting seeing a lot of people where I knew I wouldn't get along with those people. And they wouldn't get along with me either. 

It's pretty inefficient like that.
Amir: It's like walking around going, Yes! No! Yes! No! No! If it's complete chaos, I need some level of selection before I let everyone into my phone. But there are apps that are curated now. Bumble is for people who are more tech savvy, it seems, and that seems to be one of the biggest steps in the right direction.

The show makes L.A. look pretty lonely. Was the move from New York hard for you?
Amir: I think the harder thing is going from L.A. to New York. L.A. is like, you're at the beach chilling out; New York is like, they throw you into some sort of grinder. "How's the transition from the grinder to the beach?" It's like, It's fine, I'm on vacation.

Is L.A. being lonely just a comforting myth that New Yorkers tell themselves, then?
Jake: L.A. is lonely. You get a lot more space to yourself. And maybe it's just because we're getting older, and you get more lonely as you get older. [In New York] I used to wake up to texts from my friends being like, "Hey we're at the bar downstairs," and in L.A. it's like, if you're gonna do something, you've gotta plan where you're gonna meet, all Uber together ... 

Amir: Think of a commute. When we were in New York, we were crammed in a car with 500 people. In L.A., you're just in a pod all by yourself, getting to your location in solitude.

Is L.A. hornier?
Jake: New York is way hornier. They're both horny, but you have sex more in New York. I wonder if being horny is directly related to how much you have sex. Having sex doesn't necessarily quench the thirst.

Dating's easier in New York?
Jake: 
I lived in L.A., maybe, like, four years ago. Before Uber, dating was awful in L.A.. You had to both drive to a car, both valet your car. You could get like, one or two drinks. No one was going home with anybody. It was nothing, it was a complete wasteland out there. But Uber and Tinder changed everything. Dating in L.A. feels a lot like dating in New York now, because you don't have to worry about parking your car.