With the three-headed cable-Netflix-Hulu hydra sucking up most of our viewing time, independent web series often get the short shrift. Case in point: the brilliant nine-episode (and counting, we hope) How To Make It In USA, written and performed by Joe Pera (MTV’s Pancake Breakfast Critic) and Late Night With Seth Meyers scribe Conner O’Malley. The series, about a shy, young comic (Pera) placing his career in the hands of the world’s most boorish manager, debuted just over a year ago. And since then, most episodes have ratcheted up a paltry 6,000 views. Bad job, internet. Each installment of How To Make It In USA serves as a comedic two-hander, with Max Gold (O’Malley) culling the lion’s share of the dialogue. When not hurling abuses at his client, he’s punching up his stand-up set (“We need to get you wearing a hat”) and excitedly describing random things he’s just Googled. (“Have you seen this? Pod races? Star Wars: Episode I? Whoa!”)
Max may share the same vocation and last name as Entourage’s Ari Gold, but with his paltry roster and abysmal people skills, the similarities end pretty quickly. Say what you want about Ari, but the man knew how to lock down prestige gigs for the folks he repped. Max’s approach hinges on cold calling Disney Cruise receptionists to pitch Joe as a pro bono entertainer. (“He could perform comedy in hallways… On elevators if you need him.”) To keep things authentic, all of Max’s conference call pitches are real, much to the chagrin of those manning the phones at several cruise lines, as well as NY1, WGN, and Netflix. How To Make It In USA’s writing and improvisation are razor sharp, and O’Malley—most recently seen in Louis CK’s Horace And Pete—gives a fearless, revelatory performance. Max Gold may be the world’s worst manager, but with a little love from all us YouTube watchers, fingers crossed he’ll be botching Joe’s career for many episodes to come.