The Da Lopez brothers are on to something.
While most, if not all, Indonesian comedies on television and in movies are overacted or marred with obvious product placement, the two brothers, both currently studying at the University of Indonesia, have taken to YouTube in a gallant effort to get their version of funny out to the masses.
Funny thing is, it’s working.
Their crafted, well-timed jokes in videos such as “Indonesians vs. Bule,” and “3 Things I’d Do if I Had a Twin,” attempt to translate the secret language of comedy: point the finger at the audience, then turn it around and point it back at the comedian. Because, as comedian Louis CK says, when you’re done telling jokes about airplanes and dogs, you’re forced to dig deeper and start talking about who you are.
The Da Lopez brothers, Jovial, 23, and Andovi, 19, lean toward the same line of logic. They’re happy to talk about who they are: worldly college kids who didn’t see anything funny on TV, or in the movies, and so decided to do something about it.
“Good comedy needs to have a story line … it needs to be relatable, and most importantly, it needs to send a message,” Jovial said. “And the material has to be somewhat original.”
Somewhat original doesn’t translate to regurgitating other people’s ideas. For the Da Lopez brothers, it is more about taking the audience’s fears and insecurities, and making them their own.
“I keep on making videos, because I realized that I might actually have something going here,” Andovi said. “I love the mixed responses I get from making these videos. Whether people love it or hate it, I enjoy the whole process of making videos. I really want to encourage young men and women in Indonesia to showcase their creativity to the world through YouTube.”
With Jovial behind the camera and Andovi acting and flushing out the script, the two have created SkinnyIndonesian24, a YouTube channel that takes a critical look at society. The duo recently shot a video in praise of Jason Collins, a gay American basketballer; the next shot they take at society will be another short video, taking a critical look at Indonesia’s favorite snack, IndoMie, which the brothers have dubbed “delicious garbage.”
And with 60,000 views across 24 videos, the brothers are gradually garnering attention. Studios and writers have contacted them for meetings. There are talks of collaborative efforts with well-known production houses. But the brothers aren’t really looking to jump ship just yet. They’re convinced YouTube is the future.
Success, most would agree, is the result of taking advantages of opportunities you stumble across. The SkinnyIndonesian videos started out as something to do with friends. Andovi, who started vlogging — video blogging — just nine months ago, decided he and his brother would invite a few friends over and film a few skits and some, often horrific, covers of popular songs.
But “Indonesians vs. Bule” is a six-minute short that takes a critical-comical look at Indonesian women’s fascination with foreign men. It was shot on a digital camera over two days and is not only well-constructed comically, but filmed and edited with an acumen you wouldn’t expect to see from two brothers with absolutely no formal training.
They are the epitome of autodidactic.
But the Da Lopez brothers are far from alone in their YouTube endeavor. Without Gabriella Permata, 21, and Granzetta Chandikya, 18, there would be no “Indonesians vs. Bule.”
“Gabriella and Granzetta helped a lot,” Andovi says. “Granzetta came up with a lot of jokes, especially local Indonesian jokes. When we made ‘Indonesians vs. Bule,’ we knew we had to put in jokes that people wouldn’t forget. We had to make sure we could get a wide audience, plus we didn’t want the jokes to be just about bule [foreigner] . You have to be able to make fun of yourself too.”
The girls’ perspective is key to the skit. Without it, the video would be limp and forgettable. Once you realize the video is not just about whiny Indonesian guys complaining that girls melt over bule, that bule doesn’t just mean white guy, and that the film comments on phenomena such as the rise of K-pop in Indonesia, it becomes clear that the Da Lopez brothers really know what they’re doing.
“The thing is the video starts with Indonesian girls’ perspective about bule,” Jovial explained.
“Indonesian girls are so crazy about bule. Indonesian girls put bule on top of the hierarchy. OK fine, they are taller, but Indonesian girls love the bule. They are more proud to have a white boyfriend.
“It is very important that we capture each perspective. Then at the end you see that Andovi has been chasing Indo girls with various methods and he fails.”
“Most people don’t get the ending,” Andovi said. “We want people watching the skit to think a little more about the joke. Before ‘Indonesian vs. Bule,’ we had a video that had 14,000 hits; Indonesians loved that video.
“But when we put another layer of humor in ‘Indonesians vs. Bule,’ one where you have to think, the response from the Web is, ‘this is kind of funny, but I didn’t get the ending.’ ”