That means it’s time for our weekly Alumni Q&A, where I use magical tools like the Internet and telephones to track down former Michigan athletes. They could be close, they could be far, but I will find them.
I didn’t have to go very far for this week’s Q&A, which features Pat Stansik. The 24-year-old is a former club lacrosse player turned Ann Arbor YouTube sensation. If you are consuming adult beverages with a large number of people who are also consuming these adult beverages — also known as a pre-game, for those folks who hate fun — there’s a good chance Stansik will be there for his Pre-Gaming with Pat videos.
Stansik originally played two years of Division I lacrosse at Bucknell University before transferring to Michigan. In Ann Arbor, he joined the club lacrosse team before graduating in 2011, the spring before the team went from club to varsity.
If you have no idea who Pat Stansik is, check out his YouTube page, laugh for a while, and then come back and read this Q&A.
To the questions:
The Michigan Daily: Were you excited about the club lacrosse team going varsity, or were you a little mad?
Pat Stansik: I guess it’s just my luck they went varsity the year I graduated. It’s definitely a little bittersweet. Growing up in Ann Arbor, you always heard rumors of it happening, but I didn’t really think it was going to happen. Coach (John) Paul made a lot of it happen, and it’s really exciting and I’m really happy for them, but at the same time, part of me wishes it would have happened a little earlier.
TMD: How did the “Pre-Gaming with Pat videos” get started? Did you think they would take off as much as they did?
PS: I made one my senior year at Michigan, and that year they were
doing something called Mustaches for Michigan. I grew out a moustache and brought just a little flip cam with me to record some footage. I didn’t have any videos on my YouTube page or anything, this was just for fun to show a few friends. It didn’t take off, but it got a pretty good reception considering I had never uploaded a video before. Then I joined the club lacrosse team the next week, so I couldn’t keep making them for obvious reasons. I worked at an ad agency in the summer in Boulder, (Colo.) and didn’t really have a great experience, so I moved back to Ann Arbor to try and figure out what my next move would be. I figured I wanted to keep making videos and I liked the concept, so I figured why not try it with a little bit more professional equipment.
I guess there are two things for the motivation behind them: I grew up in Ann Arbor and I literally had no idea the pre-games were of this magnitude before I came here — it’s a lot different being a townie as opposed to a student. There’s a lot of stuff you miss. I thought it would be cool to document that. My other motivation was that Michigan kind of gets a bad rep of not being a party school, so it’s partly wanting to document a cool part of Michigan and also, a lot of people will come up to me and say, “I watched your videos and that’s part of the reason I came here,” so I just want to — I don’t want to say paying back Michigan — but show it in a different light than it’s usually portrayed.
TMD: How much of those videos are scripted?
PS: Usually, I’ll write out questions during the week. The first season, I didn’t really know what it was, so it took a little bit of figuring out what was funny and what worked. By this season, I kind of figured out what works and what doesn’t. The questions are definitely scripted, I write stuff out before hand. I try to have a song picked out before I go out during the day, so I know what I’m editing to, and try to have some sort of theme. For the Michigan State one, it wasn’t trying to bash Michigan State, but I have a lot of friends that go to MSU and it’s definitely the biggest rivalry game we play at home this year, so I wanted to make it more of a rivalry video. Obviously, for the Air Force game it’s harder to ask questions where you are trying not to make fun of a service academy, so I base a lot of the questions off who the opponent is.
PS: Those are kind of my focus, because that’s the kind of stuff I want to be making. Going forward, that’s going to be what I focus my time on. I made videos at Michigan because the first thing I did when I first transferred here was join the staff of the Every Three Weekly, and they had a brand-new video department. So I made videos with them my first year at Michigan, and those didn’t really take off and didn’t get many views, but I learned a lot doing that. We put a lot of time and effort into it, but we were still figuring it out because we were just getting started. That taught me a lot about video-making.
My second year at Michigan I joined the club lacrosse team and I video-blogged for Inside Lacrosse throughout the year, and that was my focus that year. Those were very similar in style and how they are edited to the “Pre-Gaming” videos, because it was a mix of interviews but also game footage and practice footage and stuff like that. Everything I’ve been doing leads to the next thing, so now I’m making the “Pre-Gaming” videos but my main focus is making the music videos and the sketch videos that appeal to more people, because they aren’t just Michigan-based. I’ve been wanting to make stuff like that for a while, but it was just a matter of learning the skills to make them and figuring out what ideas work and what don’t.
TMD: Obviously social media has been pretty massive for you, not just with YouTube but also with Twitter and Facebook. If you had graduated in 1980 instead of 2011, would you have been able to do this kind of stuff? What would you be doing?
PS: I have no idea. I’m really glad that I am living in the era that I am. With entertainment in general, it was definitely more of a straight path, like someone did stand-up and then got on a tonight show and then did a sitcom, and there weren’t many opportunities to build your own brand. You look back at someone at Larry David, who’s my idol, and there’s not much history on him. If you search him on the Internet, it seems like he kind of just blew up with Seinfeld and then went on from there. It’s funny because guys like that spent years doing stand-up trying to make it. Nowadays, there’s a virtual record of how people make it. It seems more gradual nowadays, but the Internet has just flipped everything on its head. It’s awesome because I can hopefully use the videos I’ve made so far and eventually wind up where I want to be.
I’m glad I don’t have to actually answer that question, because it would be a lot different even 10 years ago. Only recently have I really reached that point where I make something and people will willingly want to share it, as opposed to me begging people to post it on Facebook. It’s a gradual process, but it’s pretty cool to look around and see other young people who are always making videos and see how other people use the Internet to their advantage. I’m trying to do my own thing, but it’s reassuring to look around and see that there’s other people making a name for themselves doing something similar.
TMD: How much longer do you want to keep doing these videos, and what’s the future look like for Pat Stansik?
PS: I really like short videos right now, just because for the most part it doesn’t require too much of a time commitment for a two- to four-minute video, and I can make it, post it and move on to the next idea, which is awesome. I guess right now I would like to get a job doing this at a website making videos, like Funny or Die, I would love to work there. Further down the road, I definitely want to write for television and movies. I think anyone who is making Internet videos, the ultimate goal is always to move on to something bigger. It’s fun to make your own stuff and I have complete control over what I’m making right now, but I’d also like to have an actual job doing this.
Right now, I’m trying to figure out plans to move down to Los Angeles and get involved in the comedy scene down there. Later, something like writing for a sitcom or writing for Saturday Night Live or writing movies would be the ultimate goal. I want to go with the flow and see what happens, and it’s a weird time in terms of just not knowing what’s going to happen, but just knowing I have these tools at my disposal and the fact that I can even make stuff like this from Ann Arbor, Michigan and anyone in the world can see it is pretty awesome.
TMD: Do you think you’ll be around next football season or is this your last go-round?
PS: I don’t know, but I think this will probably be my last go-round, depending on where I move. I always thought it would be fun to take this concept and do it around the nation at a different school every game, but at the same time, I think the reason I like it the way it is is because it’s very Michigan-centric. I like the fact that other people from other schools can watch it and enjoy it, but people from Michigan can appreciate it more and identify with it more because it captures the Michigan gameday experience. It all depends on what I’m doing. I always liked filming stuff that was going to happen anyway. People are going to be out anyway, so I might as well film them partying, which might sound kind of creepy, but it’s always fun to take part in things that are going to happen anyway. There are obviously a lot of different schools and different pre-gaming and tailgating experiences, but at the same time, I can only film drunk college students for so long.