"You have to stay relaxed"

Julian Graf (left) and Ramin Yousofzai from UniGAG.

Direction: Priska Feichter

Camera/editing: Brigittte Blöchlinger

 

Ideas for good gags can’t be forced, according to Julian Graf and
Ramin Yousofzai. The two comedians lampoon student life on their Instagram page UniGAG.

Interview: Priska Feichter; translated by Gena Olson

Julian Graf and Ramin Yousofzai, why is student life in particular such a comedic gold mine?

Graf: Particularly when you’re studying for exams it’s such an intense experience. We make fun of typical situations familiar to all students, for example when you’ve put off studying for so long that you now have to cram in an entire semester’s worth of information right before the exam.

Yousofzai: Or if you suddenly prefer to start cleaning and watching Netflix instead of studying. Most people can identify with these situations, so it provides a lot of comedic material.

Can academia be humorous?

Graf: Totally. There are so many nerd memes that you can only understand if you’ve studied a particular subject. Memes are photos or videos accompanied by short witty texts. Students are already very well represented in the Swiss online comedy scene. There are a lot of successful meme pages founded by students, for instance the Instagram page schwiizchiste.

How did you end up founding UniGAG?

Yousofzai: We weren’t always the most disciplined students. We made fun of a lot of things. For example, we made a video of an instructor saying something incorrect in English and shared it in a WhatsApp group. Or we took excerpts from podcasts and added in our own punchlines.

Graf: The opportunity to publish this content finally came about during a social media seminar at UZH. The task was to build you own website and get as much traffic as possible. That’s how the UniGAG Instagram account was born.

Do you test your gags before putting them online?

Graf: No, we publish what we find funny and then quickly find out how it is received. On social media you have the freedom to try out different things.

What do you do when your ideas dry up?

Graf: Nothing at all. You can’t force it. You have to stay relaxed to get good ideas. When we don’t have any ideas, we don’t post anything.

How do you deal with it when yours fans don’t find your ideas funny?

Graf: The feedback you get on social media is more one-sided. We don’t get much in the way of negative responses. If something didn’t work so well, you notice that it got fewer likes and comments. But we also leave up content that didn’t go over that well.

Your best short joke?

Yousofzai: Two students go to the library to study...

Julian Graf and Ramin Yousofzai

Julian Graf and Ramin Yousofzai founded the popular Instagram page UniGAG, which has over 44,000 followers. They also do the SRF morning show “Zwei am Morge” on YouTube. Both have a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from UZH. In 2018 they were finalists for the Swiss Comedy Online Award.