Comedy School: Young Van Damme

Aspiring YouTube Videographers, take note: This is how it’s done.

But let’s break down the five rules that “Young Van Damme” follows that makes it work so well:

1. Brevity

It’s a brisk 30 seconds long, the perfect length for an Internet surfer’s attention span. Anything longer and you risk the dreaded “skip-through-the-timeline” style of browsing. And if that happens, you might as well forget about your video being forwarded on.

2. Violence

If you can’t have sex – and to get a YouTube audience, you can’t – then you better have some violence. Not all-out blood and guts, mind you. But some minor form of destruction that appeals to our more animalistic side. (This is why any videos of people getting hit in the nuts work.) The neck-breaking in the video above satisfies that urge.

3. Pop Culture References

The pop culture reference is a short-hand way of binding all of the viewers watching the video into one; it gets everyone on the same page right away. In this case, the reference is our collected knowledge of Jean Claude Van Damme, specifically the distinct combination between overly melodramatic moments and ass-kicking intensity.

4. Kids

Besides the inane lives of cats, nothing gathers more views that children. Take that “David After Dentist” video which currently has over 20 millions views. Kids are to viral videos as scorecard girls are to boxing: they’re not 100% necessary, but they sure do help.

5. Twist Ending

Who doesn’t love ending a video with a good twist? (In this case, the twist is literal.) I mean, as long as it doesn’t come from M. Night Shyamalan.

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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.