Editors’ note: SAG-AFTRA members are currently on strike; as part of the strike, union actors are not promoting their film and TV projects. This interview was conducted prior to the strike.
Don’t ask Jimmy Tatro what he does for a living. Sure, it’s a boring question, but Tatro’s answer is going to include YouTube.com.
“I'm sure not good at answering that question,” Tatro tells NYLON. “It should be way more simple, but I end up telling a two-minute-long story of how I started out on YouTube and killing the conversation.”
Tatro, to be clear, is an actor, who is well known for his roles on American Vandal and The Real Bros of Simi Valley, the television satire he created. He is also one of the stars of Theater Camp, the cheeky summer mockumentary about the campers and staff at an ailing performance art camp, which was co-written and co-directed by NYLON It Girl Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman.
But YouTube played a significant role in Tatro’s come up as a comedian: He got his start as the creator and star of the YouTube channel LifeAccordingToJimmy, a pillar of the platform’s early humor, which he started in 2011 as a freshman at the University of Arizona. He tapped his improv comedy skills for Theater Camp, which started filming with only a slim script, with the rest of the dialogue planned to be improvised.
“Molly [Gordon] would always say that her favorite part of shooting a movie was those takes after you got it where they'd let you have fun with it and she would always say, ‘What if the whole movie was that?’” Tatro says. “So the majority of the dialogue was improv, and that is so much fun, especially when you trust the directors and the people who are in charge of making it, that they're not going to let the tangents take over the plot line of the movie.”
Tatro is a scene stealer as Troy, the bro-y influencer son of the camp’s owner, who helps run the business side of the theater camp, but doesn’t know the difference between a “straight play” and a musical. He based the character on what Tatro calls “podcast guys,” who like to give advice, but are wholly unqualified to do so.
“There's just so many podcast guys right now that have no reason to be giving as much advice as they are, but something about being on camera in front of a microphone has given so many people this unwavering confidence to give life advice, and I have always thought that that was a really funny character,” Tatro says. “I thought Troy is totally the kind of guy that would watch a Gary V or a Ty Lopez video and think to himself, ‘That's what I want to do.’ Not the business part, but the giving people business advice part.”
NYLON caught up with Tatro ahead of the release of Theater Camp as he took on the NYLON 19, telling us about his first concert, his favorite internet rabbit holes, and his Crunchwrap Supreme obsession.