Local resident brings his comedy skills to Mossy web videos
By Kathy Day
A phone call out of the blue from his cousin brought Justin York to California for an unusual project – creating comedy videos for YouTube for his cousin’s car dealerships.
It wasn’t just any car dealer, but Jason Mossy – of the well known family’s string of dealerships – who came up with the idea.
“Video is becoming so much more on the Web,” said Mossy, who is general manager of Mossy Toyota in Pacific Beach, part of the Mossy Automotive Group. “We thought it would be a way to get customers more interested in us.”
Knowing that his cousin, who was living in Austin, Texas, and working at a comedy club there, had a sense of humor similar to his own, he put out the call earlier this year.
“We wanted to add humor, and not be as dry as the normal stuff that other dealerships and other businesses are using online,” Mossy said.
Enter York, who said he initially anticipated being here for about three months when he moved into the guest room at Mossy’s Rancho Santa Fe home. Since then, they agreed they needed more time to develop the program so York moved to Del Mar and his wife quit her job and joined him. Now he’s a full-time Mossy employee.
York’s mother is a member of the Mossy family, which opened its first auto business in New Orleans in 1921 and later in Texas before coming to San Diego.
York works in a small office tucked into Mossy Toyota’s parts supply room, where he dreams up ideas and does his editing. He attended the University of Georgia and then moved to Los Angeles where he took improv classes with the Improv Olympic West and Second City groups.
While there he worked for a while as a viewer relations staff member for the Jay Leno show, meaning he answered calls and e-mails from the show’s fans and critics. He also had an opportunity to work with celebrity guests a bit.
“But I couldn’t see myself staying in L.A. because I was the really low man on the totem pole,” York said.
So back home to New Orleans he went to attend graduate school at Tulane. As an assignment for a class in entrepreneurships, he had planned to build a business model for a local comedy club similar to what he’d seen in Los Angeles.
During his research he met a woman who had already done that so the project turned into writing a business plan for her and he eventually worked at her club. Then came Hurricane Katrina.
“I stayed and tried to make it work,” York said, but many of his friends had left for Austin to open a comedy theater so, in May 2006, he joined them at the ColdTowne Theater where he not only performed and helped run the club but also taught at their improv center.
With Austin becoming a hotspot for entertainment and comedy, he had settled in fairly well. It’s also where he met Teresa, his wife of a year and a half, while they were both doing improv. Now she is featured in some of the Mossy videos.
In one, she gets up close — literally — with a new BMW 6 series car; in another, she’s asking odd questions about a shiny new Mustang.
Other videos feature just York, such as the video titled “Braking News” about the importance of getting brakes serviced. He said the title is a takeoff on a comedy skit called “Breaking News” he did in the past.
York likens his style to Ian Roberts of the Upright Citizens Brigade, who was seen regularly on Conan O’Brien’s show; had roles in such films as “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights”; and is an executive producer of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” sketches.
While York has a few videos already on YouTube, he’s working on more to promote Mossy’s Toyota, Ford, BMW and VW dealerships, remembering all the while that he must maintain the image of a values and family-oriented company.
“Online, to get attention, you need to be a little weird and absurd,” York said, adding that he always puts his humor “through a filter and remembers the brand.”
Jason Mossy said that, so far, they’ve heard from a few customers who have liked what they’ve seen but the challenge now is to integrate them into the Mossy website so they attract more viewers.
York said he’s having the most fun putting the “weird ones” together. Since he’s learning video techniques as he goes, some are a little more complicated.
He says he’d like to add a mail section so viewers can suggest ideas and give him feedback, but he’s still building the program so that’s down the road a bit. But they have been seen at dealer conventions and viewed by some top auto execs, he added.
Whether or not the video venture will be incorporated into the regular ad campaign hasn’t been broached, Mossy said. “But everything is evolving so quickly in video, we’ll see.”
To see Mossy’s videos, go to:
Learn more about the Mossy Automotive Group at www.mossy.com.
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