Making It with Jimmy Diresta
This week we chat with Jimmy Diresta. Find out how Jimmy has been Making It with his skills and tools on TV, podcasts and YouTube for nearly 4 decades.
- Getting started as a kid
- First project Jimmy remembers
- Jimmy's first taste of being an entreprenuer
Transitioning for architecture to art
Kevin O'Callahan and why concept alawys comes first.
Going from student to teacher
How teaching has influenced Jimmy's work
How Jimmy's designs his classes for teaching now
Jimmy's lone strange run in with a fan.
Getting into the toy business.
Jimmy's most successful toy.
How the toy invention process works.
How Jimmy got into TV.
How HGTV's Hammered got made.
Getting Dirty Money on the air.
Jimmy's start on YouTube.
Why share your work.
How YouTube became a big part of Jimmy's life.
New show Making It on NBC.
Meeting Nick Offerman.
How the Making It Podcast got started.
Brandon: We want to welcome you guys back to the make or break show we're hanging out with the one and only Jimmy Diresta today.
Brandon: Who gets all kinds of phone calls because you are super popular man all over the place now are you...are you in New York right now?
Jimmy Diresta: I am in my house in upstate New York.
Brandon: OK. Is this your new your new house new shop all that kind of stuff?.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah.
Jimmy Diresta: Well I've owned this house for 15 years 14 years and I used to come here on weekends. I bought this house originally with the whole intention of moving up here moving my life and everything and then all my work began to just keep going on and on locally in New York City and so I kept the shop and then all of a sudden YouTube became a thing for me which we can get into the details of it.
Jimmy Diresta: And then all of a sudden after 15 years down there I bought the house and rented that space almost at the same time and I had to get out of that space and finally I made this house what it was originally intended for my home and I rented a shop down the block but we're also building one in the backyard. Gets really confusing.
Brandon: Is that the one you said you had steel delivery coming this morning.
Jimmy Diresta: Exactly. I was there at 7:00 this morning I got a big truck load of steel for a bunch of upcoming projects.
Brandon: That's cool I think I was following your Instagram story and saw lots of folks out there with lots of things going on.
Jimmy Diresta: Oh yeah yeah yeah that's my buddy's here he's building in the background Kyle from Kyle from Western Illinois. He's here building.
Brandon: Oh cool, well I kind of want to get into your back story. I know you pretty much been building all your life and I'll listen to a ton of different interviews with you and it sounds like was it your dad that kind of got you into working? He just kind of put stuff in front of ya and you got going?
Getting Started as a Kid
Jimmy Diresta: Pretty much yeah growing up my dad always had a workshop. He always had tools around growing up. He had his dad had tools around and then my dad got more into it and then he bought more and more tools and then now I am taking it from my grandfather had a workbench with a couple of things on it my dad had a basement and now I have warehouse. If ever have kids forget it they're going to need a football field.
Brandon: What was it. What was the stuff you started to do in life do you remember like early projects from when you're young that you worked on.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah. My dad I used to hang out with him and help him carry wood and stuff and occasionally he would let me try and hammer a nail when I was little.
Jimmy Diresta: But I remember he kind of kept me busy by just handing me a box of scraps and a hot glue gun and said go do what you got to do. And that's what I would do. I would just make things out of the scrap box with hot glue and hot glue things together and that was around six or seven years old.
Jimmy Diresta: I remember this big clunky... you know back in the day a 40 year old hot glue gun.
Brandon: That's cool, is there a project that you remember making like remember being really proud and like oh this is cool I actually made this.
First project Jimmy remembers
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah I get that question often actually we just talked about my podcast with Bob and Dave but no it's sort of a common answer.
Jimmy Diresta: My dad let me use the jig saw so I would use this old giant big old Craftsman saw...now it's commonly called.. what the hell are they called I call it a jigsaw... but it's called a.... the ones like the old men have the clubs where they cut out little silhouettes, What is it called?.
Brandon: Oh the scroll saw?
Jimmy Diresta: See that's kind of a new name for me.
Jimmy Diresta: I used to call it the jigsaw. And so we had to table mount the jig saw and he let me cut out a couple of shapes. My dad would draw images out of magazines and he drew an image of a seahorse and I cut out the silhouette of it.
Jimmy Diresta: And then he set me up with a with like a common Dremel tool. But it was a Sears version of the Dremel tool and he did one or two for me to show me what to do and then I did the rest the scallops on the surface of the seahorse. And then he burnt it for me and then a wire brushed it and then I painted it and it was the very first thing I looked at and I said wow I can't believe I made that. That's really cool.
Jimmy Diresta: I always say it and people who listen to me a lot probably going to get bored by the things I repeat. But the one thing I always say is you want to make something that the very next morning the minute you wake up you want to run to your shop and look at it. Have you ever had that feeling.
Brandon: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Jimmy Diresta: And have you ever had the feeling the opposite where you wake up and you're like oh I got to get back into that project I hate.
Brandon: We're expecting in February. I mean my wife and I'm working on my home and shelves for our closet and I'm just painting and tons of painting right now and it's like 12 different Cubbies I like this is horrible like I want to be done with this and start working on something cool.
Brandon: Your dad was a firefighter?.
Jimmy Diresta: Dad was in New York City firefighter and he was also a carpenter on the side.
Jimmy Diresta: He always had to make ends meet. You know they don't pay a lot in the fire department in New York at least back in the 60s and 70s. And so my dad was always doing side work and also working with other firemen.
Brandon: OK. Gottcha so was making early on was that something you always knew like this is going to be what I do like the rest of my life or does it just kind of evolved.
Jimmy's first taste of being an entreprenuer.
Jimmy Diresta: One thing just kept leading to another. My dad set up me and my brothers he would hand draw letters on a strip of wood and we would cut them out. And my dad would say bring these to school and charge a quarter a letter and get names from other kids so we could go and get little name plates we'd have a little note book a little black notebook.
Jimmy Diresta: My brother Joey is five years older than me and John who's been on TV with me he's two years older than me and the three of us would in each one of our own grades we would collect names from other students and we'd come home with a list of names. And my dad would hand draw them out and we would all jig saw them out on the on the jigsaw and we would go back to school two days later with them.
Jimmy Diresta: We would burn them, wire brush them to raise the grain and then give him a coat of shellac. So it was pretty amazing my dad kind of put that entrepreneurial spirit into us early on. Yeah. And all I've ever done my whole life is do stuff like that. I never had a paper out. I never worked in a restaurant I never worked at a cash register. All I've ever done is make things. One thing led to another I'd also helped my dad in his side work. Doing handyman work for installations making shelves. And then I got a job at a science shop when I was in high school I worked at two different sign shops. I did a lot of my own private side work. So one thing led to another.
Brandon: Yeah. So you went to The School of Visual Arts is that right?
Jimmy Diresta: I went to school visual arts from 1985 to 1990. And graduated with the Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Brandon: What about that made you decide you wanted to go to school?
Transitioning for architecture to art
In high school I went to architecture school and I was going to be an architect but I don't like math.
Jimmy Diresta: I had a really hard time with math. I actually cheated to get out of my state regents exam. I had to the kid in front of I said please let me cheat off you. I said I'm never going into this career. I just need to graduate high school. And I cheated of the kid in front of me.
Jimmy Diresta: And he kind of moved his elbows so I could see his work to say oh you had to have that little yellow square sheet that showed you how you arrived at you answer. So I copied everything off his page and that's how I graduated high school regents physics. Because I went through 10th 11th and 12th grade architecture school and I loved the aspect of the geometry and the design aspect. I hated having to be the engineer in the mathematics. It just wasn't fun to me.
Jimmy Diresta: And I knew right there and then I was more of an artist than than an engineer and I figured when I was also slowly becoming interested in say Picasso Andy Warhol and Leonardo da Vinci and I thought to myself.
Jimmy Diresta: All these guys a famous artists in one way or another they could just hire a geek that knows how to use a calculator to do all these calculations. I could certainly be an architect as a designer. I don't need to know all this math. And so I started to pursue a career in art as opposed to architecture.
Brandon: When you went in and know art is like super broad.. did you have like a focus you were thinking of when you started school or was it something you just kind of exploring all the different mediums?
Jimmy Diresta: I didn't really know I thought it was going to be graphic designer. That's what everybody said oh go into graphic design go into graphic design. And then when I got into graphic design I hated it. I was like wow this isn't fun I was making all these excuses to use three dimensional approaches to all my solutions.
Jimmy Diresta: And I met a teacher who changed my life.
Jimmy Diresta: He was all about three dimensional design and he was introduced to me by another teacher who saw me struggling so in my graphic design teacher saw me struggling and nearly wanting to quit school just because I wasn't being fulfilled in my second year at art school.
Jimmy Diresta: And he goes come with me and he brought me and said this is where you belong. And it was Kevin who I talked about in past Kevin O'Callahan. He's a teacher of three dimensional design in 1986. I guess it was 87.
Jimmy Diresta: I found my home where every solution was made three dimensionally and any materials hot glue. So you know we use table saws Jigsaw's bandsaws. Prior to that I was in Graphic Design trying to make all my solutions and graphic design with done three dimensionally and then I would photograph them whereas everybody was using line arts and rule that there was a computer at the time so they were drawing on boards.
Brandon: What about his teaching. I guess other than the fact you were working in 3D. What about him really drew you to him in his class and then over and over the years.
Kevin O'Callahan and why concept alawys comes first..
Jimmy Diresta: It was all about concept... conceptual design and the way that for instance I redesigned this cover of this magazine and into a three dimensional illustration. And he really emphasized how you need to have a strong concept as well as a good execution.
Jimmy Diresta: And that was really kind of early on for me and that's why David Welder they're also took the same teacher 20 years later and I feel Dave and I have similar work. Dave's kind of taken a hiatus from YouTube but he's planning on getting back into it.
Jimmy Diresta: So Dave Weldor and I both had Kevin as teachers 20 years apart and we one day we're talking to him are like wow it's funny how how similar you know our work is as far as concept and you know how it's important to have an interesting concept practical or non practical or just as long as it's songs as a concept. It could be funny you know instead of just making a simple box that has to be a box that's about something or has a very clever interesting design.
Jimmy Diresta: And I think that really strongly emphasized by my teacher Kevin.
Brandon: Was he the one that brought you back because you recently stopped teaching at the School of Fine Arts. Was he kind of how you got into it as a teacher?
Going from student to teacher.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah. Well I graduated and then two years later he hired me actually three years later he hired me to be a teacher, so I ended up starting my first semester at 94 and yeah it was definitely Kevin who got me back in teaching. So he was sort of my chair person might say.
Jimmy Diresta: And then I yeah I taught for about twenty three years and then I just got to a point where I was just getting so busy with some of these YouTube opportunities. Everybody wants me to go to a lecture so I travel on Friday do a lecture on a Saturday and then Friday it was always my class. So the last semester I taught I missed three classes because I had to travel and so I decided you know what.
Jimmy Diresta: And it was good timing because I got hired to do the show on NBC this whole month of September. This is the first September that I haven't had school in 23 years. So I spent the whole month of September in California for this TV show I just did on NBC.
Brandon: Yeah. So how is your approach to making how has it changed. Because you taught for so long because you had to bring it back to the basics. So much shows that changed.
How teaching has influenced Jimmy's work.
Jimmy Diresta: It's a good question. You know I guess my approach has always been instructional in a way because it's even when I was a student I did so many unusual things that other students would be like... How do you do that?.
Jimmy Diresta: And I would always share information I was never one of those people that would hoard contacts and avenues of information. I would always share everything with everybody so it always just came natural to me. I was always the student.
Jimmy Diresta: I stopped drinking early on I stopped drinking alcohol at the age of 20. So that was in my second my first or second year at school visual arts so for the next two years I took it extremely serious and all the other students...this is a very generalized statement... a lot of the other students were party because they lived in New York and they would hang around the city and I would go home and work and then do my homework and you know over deliver, deliver early. And then I come back to the city on the train and all my other co-students or you know had hangovers and you know getting waking up from the night before.
Jimmy Diresta: And so I would always have a much more serious approach to the homework. And they would be like what do you do? I went down to Canal Street. I went to this new school shop I found. Oh wow.
Jimmy Diresta: It was all before the internet so you really have to kind of walk around like a detective and figure things out.
Brandon: Yeah that's cool.
Jimmy Diresta: So the city was my resource basically.
Brandon: Yeah. And so I know you guys just got done doing an axe class that you're doing last week, is that right?.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah we did an ax handle making class.
Brandon: And this is late late October that we're recording this. So as your approach to teaching changed it all. Or if you were designing a class what are you thinking through as like the best way to approach it?
How Jimmy's designs his classes for teaching now.
Jimmy Diresta: Well honestly now that I'm kind of YouTube famous my classes are much more personable whereas I would start from zero.
Jimmy Diresta: You could imagine like I walk into a room at 25, 20 year olds and they'd all be staring right at me not knowing who I was or if this class was even worth their time.
Jimmy Diresta: And then I would have to win them over. It was basically like the humor for me is a very big thing. Keeping a twenty five person class interested in everything you say. It's extremely important. I remember my teachers that were open honest and funny most of all well the ones I loved the most and so I try to be open honest and funny and I interact with the students as soon as they ask me a question or I try and give him the best answer and I always make some of the students feel like they're part of the teaching process.
Jimmy Diresta: You know there was always one student I would I would banter with and have fun with and then they would like it and so they wouldn't they wouldn't mind being the teacher's pet so to speak. And so I was like for somebody to goof with. The students would immediately lighten up.
Jimmy Diresta: But now I don't have to do that because if I hold the class of axe making handle kits they all know me. And it's like we're on like a 20th date and they immediately like oh I know this guy I really I'm happy to be here my 20th date. Yeah you know. And so it makes life a lot easier for me where I don't have to win over a group of people.
Jimmy Diresta: So that's that's that's the best thing about you know this YouTube fame and teaching still teaching and this YouTube thing. Unfortunately most of my students in the last few years didn't really know who I was but that's only because you know the millennials are on to other things you know they're looking at dubstep videos and whatever else.
Brandon: Yeah. Ishat weird for you at all when people come up to you. I mean especially now with your vlogs and how personally are a new YouTube channel that folks like know all of this about you but you have no clue about the person that you're talking with is that ever strange.
Jimmy Diresta: Honestly it doesn't matter to me at all. I mean I'm not doing anything illegal I have no. You know I have no access hollywood videotapes in my past. So you know I love that honest life. And I have nothing to worry about coming back to haunt me. And everybody I meet is super nice and has been super.
Jimmy Diresta: You know it's so funny, it never happens to me ever but I had an extremely enthusiastic fan write me just a couple of days ago and he works for a lumber yard. And he said oh we can provide you with this you know something like something I've gotten a million times on my own I don't really need this particular species of wood he's trying to sell me.
Jimmy's lone strange run in with a fan.
Jimmy Diresta: I said oh cool man that's great. And so I didn't really place an order for lumber as if he was like implying for me to do. And I said great or whatever.
Jimmy Diresta: And now it's like four days later. This was this before the end of this week like Friday. And he writes me back last night. It's really sad that you haven't answered this e-mail yet I guess your to busy with your new TV show. I was like what tha....
Jimmy Diresta: He's asking me to buy something from his stores he's not even giving it to me and I don't expect him to give it to me. But it was a sales email and he gave me accolades because he likes my YouTube channel. I said Great thanks. I'm not obligated to buy from him because he likes my YouTube channel. Something I have thousands of board feet of.
Jimmy Diresta: And so I wrote back to him I said what exactly do you want for me. Here's my phone number. Give me a call let's talk about it. So now he has my phone number and he's not calling me. What exactly did he want from me. That's the only thing I can remember that got super weird and that happened last night.
Brandon: That's crazy.
Jimmy Diresta: And I mean it's not even big deal. But he said it's really sad that you have an answer to this e-mail. I have e-mails from seven months ago that I haven't answered. And I eventually answer them and I said hey thanks.
Jimmy Diresta: Because when I have free time which is very little these days I just scroll through e-mails and see ones which I did I opened read and I just haven't answered. I look for that little tiny arrow on the left side of the e-mail and I'm like oh that looks interesting let me up. I didn't answer. Let me answer that now. So ninety nine nine nine nine nine percent of the people I meet say that one person don't get weird.
Brandon: That's funny that happened last week. Going back to school visual arts are you teaching. After that is that when you got into like toy making toy design on a mission like a ton of like factory visits to China in the early 2000s that kind of that next step for you?
Getting into the toy business..
Jimmy Diresta: Well I was in school visual arts learning how to work with my teacher Kevin who I mentioned we got into a three dimensional illustration. And then in my final semester of school which was the second half of the last year I met a teacher named Mark. Mark and I hit it off right away. Mark was a toy inventor and he taught a class called Toys and Games inventing and designing toys and games. And right away Mark encourages me and says, Wow you've got a really good mind for this. And he's the one who kind of brought me into. He's the one who brought me into the toy business.
Jimmy Diresta: I owe him a huge debt of gratitude and we still talk with friends and he got me into the toy business. And the idea of selling the business of selling ideas that's not an easy business. I was never hugely successful at it but I did make a career of it. But also the idea of marketing ideas and and selling yourself. That's a big part of my YouTube and that all came from my experience at the toy business.
Brandon: Is there a toy that you look back or design you look back on as like your favorite from that period.
Jimmy's most successful toy.
Jimmy Diresta: The most successful toy I've ever done and I think you know in my world it was successful as a toy called gurgling guts it's a squishy eye ball you squeeze it.
Brandon: Yes I had one of those!
Jimmy Diresta: That was my invention and that invention it established a category of toys I believe.
Jimmy Diresta: I mean some people might dispute that but I believe it established the category of gross toys which were pretty popular in the 90s. We did that in 94. So you know for the next five years there were all these gross toys like Doctor... Dr. Gorie is something from what you make like gross things to eat like slimy toys. And so yeah I believe that was a big part of that you that it was right at the right time and me and a couple of inventors came up with it all together. As you know the category of gross.
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. What's that process like. When I think I heard you first mention on the Making It Podcast saying that you invented toys and I'm like I've never even heard of someone that doesn't like it. Like do you just come up with an idea and then pitch it to a company how does that process work?
How the toy invention process works.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah that's basically it you come up with some ideas you've got to really do your research because it's embarrassing when you walk into a company and you show them an idea and they open a catalog from four years earlier and like we did that already.
Jimmy Diresta: So you really have to do your homework. You've got one of the most precious commodities in the toy business was old catalogs and my brother have a huge collection of old toy catalogs. We have thousands of toy catalogs from every year and they're hard to get because you have to get the catalog from a sales person.
Jimmy Diresta: And we have toy catalogs from the 80s and 90s and the 70s 80s and 90s. I don't have any past like 95 96 is kind of when I stopped collecting but we got old collections from old friends of ours that were in the toy business. But those are the biggest resource. And now of course the Internet probably has millions of indexes of toy catalogs. But as a toy inventor you want to research and make sure that the toy that you're coming up with is is a new derivative or new patentable project or something different that that's been already manufactured and is in this category.
Jimmy Diresta: Now a lot of times you can come up with a little widget and you could license that little widget say like a Barbie doll category which is a longstanding brand so if you can become a parasite in another brand that's always good too.
Jimmy Diresta: Or when I got the guts we've made a lot of money on a license called Goosebumps. Goosebumps book series came to us and said hey can we put our licensing on all of your patentable image.
Jimmy Diresta: I said sure.
Jimmy Diresta: So we made more money with goosebumps licensing than we did with the actual concept of the squishy eyeball.
Jimmy Diresta: The patentable product that was the ball inside of the skin that slurped and spit on the liquid inside.
Jimmy Diresta: And then they made it and all the characters from the Goosebumps books were some of them weren't really a fit. Well even did Star Wars ones but nobody bought them because that's silly.
Brandon: That's awesome.
Jimmy Diresta: The guys that own the that was our patent and we leased it to these guys and you know they basically rented our space and paid us rent that's kind of the same concept. And while they were renting our space of the patent so to speak they licensed it to as many things as they could figure out because it was you know these things also have a timeline. So you want to try and rinse them with as much money as you can rinse all the money out of them.
Brandon: Gotcha. So you are definately the first one we've had on you has a career in actual television like big boy television not just YouTube. It was your first show was it was it Trrash to Cash in 2003. Was that the first one with FX?.
How Jimmy got into TV.
Brandon: That was Trash to Cash was the first show I just learned how to edit and I started putting together a little sequences and my brother said. Hey why don't you put together a sequence of me picking garbage and trying to make a table out of it and we shot it. It was like 35 minutes long and I always talk about my friend Barry Katz who is my brother's manager at the time and Barry has a successful podcast called the industry standard it's all about show business.
Jimmy Diresta: And so Barry was John's manager at the time and he sat with me at the editing booth which is basically a laptop. And we went through and I recut the thirty five minutes down to seven minutes. And that's where I learned the importance of having a short tight video. And that was the first video I ever edited. And we sold it shortly thereafter to Fox TV. That's cool.
Jimmy Diresta: Barry set up set up a meeting and we could sell it.
Brandon: So if your brother hadn't already had the experience kind of in that network television world would that have been something you think you ever would have approached?
Jimmy Diresta: Oh it's funny because my brother was getting from 98 99 2000 2001 my brother was kind of popping in the TV business and everybody kept saying to me.. Oh you're young good looking you should go to the TV business. And I always said I swear I remember having 10 conversations with a few people saying... I don't want to get into that business unless I could be myself. I'm not an actor.
Jimmy Diresta: And I always said I would only get into that and I don't even know if reality TV was the thing at the time.. I said I would just want to be myself like I see Norm Abrams at the time and Bob Vila and those kind of the guys I was like if I could be myself like their being their selves. That's how I'd get into TV. I would never try and do what my brother was constantly doing his acting. My brother was an actor. So I said I would only ever get into TV if I could just be myself.
Jimmy Diresta: And now 2003 comes along and we pitch this show about making things out of the garbage and the guy in the meeting the producer who is buying the show he said, What is your role in this? He looked at me and said...
Jimmy Diresta: Well I just want to be behind the scenes to be able to provide ideas for my brother and I could and I had overqualified. I have a portfolio which is like an over deliver is basically you know my Always my mind over the lever so people happy.
Jimmy Diresta: And I showed him my portfolio and he says wow, Why don't you just be the guy that makes stuff and he said to John why don't you just be funny you just be the host. Let him make stuff and you'd be the guy that drives the show with your comedy and your banter and that's how that's how our partnership in TV began. Right there and then he looks at me because Would you be on TV OK being on TV. I said sure.
Jimmy Diresta: Let's shoot a pilot and see if it works. Then we shot a pilot and have a lot of fun and we did seven episodes of that show and the show quickly got canceled because a TV show named Nip Tuck came in and took over the whole network and canceled like 15 shows just to make drama shows.
Jimmy Diresta: I sort of got the bug started making pitches I bought a brand new camera but the Panasonic DDX100 and I started making TV pitches and we made a couple of pictures right there in the summer of 2004. We made like four TV show pitches. One of them was called Making It with John and Jimmy and that's the show that became Hammered.
Jimmy Diresta: And later that same summer I made a pitch for a TV show called Lord of the Fleas and that became Dirty Money. So in the summer of 2004 was like the big summer where I came up with those two big ideas which ended up both becoming TV shows and I see me and my brother develop these shows and I have to admit John came up with the concept of both of those straight away. And then we developed him into the ideas they became.
Brandon: So you guys are doing these shows. Are you still building and doing kind of like client work on the side too. Or is it kind of TV or full time deal at this point?
Jimmy Diresta: No well TV is all consuming and so when I did the TV show Trash to Cash the first one I had to move to L.A. for a few months. So I moved to L.A. for like three months. We shot probably for a month and a half but I kind of hung around with my brother making stuff saw him at the flea market catch hoping the show would pick back up on it and it never did. So I came back to New York.
How HGTV's Hammered got made.
Jimmy Diresta: I was actually teaching so that was the whole summer I had to get back to New York after school started. So I came back to New York before school started and then a few years went by and we had the tape kicking around of of what became Hammered. And I got a call from my friends at HGTV who said I had a meeting with the person that HGTV sent that tape and a couple of tapes of concepts we were doing and we never heard anything and it just goes to show you persistence and you just never know.
Jimmy Diresta: I dropped the tape off there had the meeting left them with a couple of videotapes. This is before video tapes were defunct and in 2005 I got a phone call from the woman I met with at HGTV and she said:
Jimmy Diresta: Hey do you still is still interested in this game?.
Jimmy Diresta: I was like why what's up?.
Jimmy Diresta: She's like you left us a videotape of you and your brother making something in the basement. We really like this. Is this something you would want to do as a TV show?.
Jimmy Diresta: I said sure.
Jimmy Diresta: And the show was fast tracked.
Jimmy Diresta: It only takes one person internally that's of importance or power. And your video have your show will get made. It's really always just one person that's what you call a champion. So our champion was a woman named Beth and she pushed it through and we ended up making the show which became Hammered. We did 28 episodes.
Jimmy Diresta: And as we were making the show the network really didn't know how to market it. They were a little nervous about the show because my brother's edgy comedy and he and I bantering and being weird.
Jimmy Diresta: You know if you watch any of the HGTV shows now they're just like this kind of super lighthearted humor. No one takes any direction. You know it's like ha ha ha ha ha. Oh my God. He put the cup on the thing you know.
Jimmy Diresta: No cutting edge humor and cutting edge I mean you know like nobody like look he tripped. You know that's cutting edge humor for HGTV. And they did not like any of that slapstick stuff. And so they made the show because they were committed to 28 episodes. But I don't think they really were they weren't super proud of it.
Jimmy Diresta: We were happy with what came out. I mean it was there was always compromises with the executive producers and stuff. You know anytime you do a TV show you walk away feeling like you gave a little bit. You had to give up a little too much. No I don't care who it is you walk away going:.
Jimmy Diresta: I guess that was fun. That's TV. You always go. Yes I guess that was good.
Brandon: Yeah. So what got you into YouTube initially was your first video December 2012, is that right?
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah well what happened was we did we then.. I'll tell you a quick story about how I ended up getting Dirty Money on the air.
Getting Dirty Money on the air.
Jimmy Diresta: So I Dirty Money there's a tape I had sitting around. It was called Lord of the Fleas as my brother came up with the idea he hey let's pick the garbage and make it into stuff and sell it at a flea market. That was a great idea. Well fix it up or whatever.
Jimmy Diresta: And so we made a tape in the summer of 2004 we pitched it around and got a lot of traction. We almost end up selling it to Comedy Central of all people and Discovery Channel liked it also. But then it never went anywhere. You know you drop these ideas off and it's like you just said it's like you just send them out into the world and you don't know what's going to happen. And so I put it on my YouTube channel I said Oh YouTube just started. Let me let me put this on YouTube see if anybody is interested it got about a hundred got about 8100 hits on YouTube.
Jimmy Diresta: But I was not getting traction on YouTube at all.
Jimmy Diresta: And then I had a meeting in 2010 with a friend of mine who owns a production company. His company is the company that made Cribs and a lot of MTV stuff.
Jimmy Diresta: Because only ever there was post-production. So his place he owned the editing rooms and editing equipment all he did was post-production. He never actually produced his own show. So I said to Michael go when are you going to produce your own show you've got all the you've got all the material and you got everything in place so it's a good idea. He goes we've been shopping for a good idea..you got one?
Jimmy Diresta: I said Oh check out Lord of the fleas on my YouTube channel. He calls me that we can because I want to try and sell a Discovery. Have they seen it I go yeah they saw it years ago but you know the turnover at these companies is incredible. I said I guarantee if you showed it nobody would know who did it. Nobody would remember seeing it.
Jimmy Diresta: He showed it to Discovery. They bought it. They bought it almost immediately and we ended up doing. They changed the name to Dirty Money and we did 12 episodes in the summer of 2011 and halfway through shooting about Episode 5... nothing has aired yet the whole entire network team has changed.
Jimmy Diresta: They fire everybody at the network and replace them with all new people. And right there our project died because the person who bought the show was no longer there and now it's like. It's like you know you get a job and you sitting at somebody else's desk the first thing you do is clean out the desk and put all your stuff in it. And that's just a metaphor for what happened to our show. And even though contractually they aired it because they had to finish it and air it. There was no promotion so the show did well on its own. But it only aired one time on Discovery Channel in America and they license it everywhere it ended up on Netflix and it was getting rerun all the time. And but there was no there was absolutely was never going to be another episode.
Jimmy's start on YouTube.
Jimmy Diresta: And so fans were e-mailing me from all around the world going when are we going to see another episode of the show and Taylor my girlfriend said why don't you just do these little pitches that you've been doing just make them into little YouTube movies and just start doing YouTube.
Jimmy Diresta: So that was my first Youtube movie I think in the fall of 11 because I was kind I mean the fall maybe the fall of 11 or 12 I can't remember exactly. I mean you can go back chronologically and see but I started making these little clips of me just doing stuff and it's something that I had pitched years before right after we did the TV show Trash the Cash. One of the producers on the show ended up working at MTV. So I sent her a video of me making this this foot this old foot. It's like one of my first videos on YouTube and I was like wouldn't it be cool if I made these little 30 second videos of me making stuff we can use them as interstitials in and out of in and out of bumpers of me making the MTV logo and and didn't go anywhere.
Jimmy Diresta: So the idea of me making fast paced things has been around for a long time anyway. So once I realized I had no control it just had no control in the TV business. Like I said even when Dirty Money was a wonderful experience.
Jimmy Diresta: I don't watch the episodes or when I do happen to see an episode of the oh yeah that was the time I had to give up this about myself.
Jimmy Diresta: Oh yeah that's the time I had to give up this idea.
Jimmy Diresta: That's the time I had to compromise with that person about the horrible idea.
Jimmy Diresta: Oh yeah I remember how to pretend to be interested in this person's idea.
Jimmy Diresta: And that's what TV is like.
Jimmy Diresta: That's funny at the moment having that reckoning right this moment. So you know TV is giving up your ideas to somebody else's bad ideas.
Jimmy Diresta: YouTube is I'm the executive producer, cameraman, editor, idea man and TV star all those things and one and I'm not going to argue with myself I'm going to do exactly what I want.
Brandon: What is it that makes you share so much. I mean I feel like I get tons of interviews I talk with tons of people everyone's like me. Jimmy Jimmy is awesome. Like he talks to you. He shares everything he like really enjoys what he's doing. But like even through TV or is teaching and anther YouTube like some people are just awesome and they just make things and for commission and that's it like why do you put so much out there for other people?
Why Jimmy shares his work so much.
Jimmy Diresta: I guess because I've always been a teacher I'm a natural teacher and I like it I like sharing things. I actually once I used to be friends with a doctor. We're no longer friends due to matter of circumstances. But he was constantly helping people and saying oh you know this is the problem. This is what you do with it.
Jimmy Diresta: And he would say he goes I feel like I'm going to hoard this information this person needs help right here I'm going to hoard this and we're going to I'm going to funnel it through my office for a certain amount of money for a certain period of time because I just give it away.
Jimmy Diresta: I mean he's poor and he's broken isn't I have the money he feels more fulfilled giving information away that he knows will benefit people.
Jimmy Diresta: And I kind of have the same point of view I could you know firewall in my life and charge people to come in and do stuff. And that's so i guess i'm doing with the axe class. But when I do something like the excuss or the photography class I'm basically setting up an environment for people to have a completely creative immersive experience.
Jimmy Diresta: They can pick my brain for as much as they need to while they are here. We feed them. They get to spend a few nights here at the house but so far both times I've I've hired extremely experienced people to teach what it is that that class is about. So you have my input what I know. And then you have their input and what they know.
Jimmy Diresta: And they're usually more of an expert on it than me. So I can come in with the concepts and help you kind of free yourself up creatively but technically this is exactly what you should know. And so it's a great experience to me and the teacher or teachers. And it's a great experience for the students because they see me learning to.
Jimmy Diresta: Oh wow that's just. That's amazing. I didn't know that that does it.
Jimmy Diresta: So this axe class I learned a tremendous amount from the teacher as well as the students learning from the teacher. I think it's a great it sets up a great environment and it's also very natural and you know nothing's forced.
Jimmy Diresta: I like giving information and because what am I going to do it's just going to sit my head anyway, might as well just pass on.
Brandon: Yeah that's awesome. That's really cool.
How YouTube became a big part of Jimmy's life.
Brandon: So going back to YouTube as it always has been kind of like a gradual increase or is there a point where you're like hey this is like a this is a thing that I like I could actually or not a career but like I can actually this is this is a little bit bigger than me just putting videos out I guess.
Jimmy Diresta: I know I've always known that the potential was there because you know there was always Pewdie Pie and it's just a celebrity YouTubers that have always been there it seems from the very beginning.
Jimmy Diresta: So I always knew there was a possible career here and I just I thankfully have the peace of mind you know like hey if all goes to pot I could just go dig ditches. I can go offer my services to make bookshelves I can go. I'll always be OK.
Jimmy Diresta: So when it came to YouTube I never really had to say OK I'm declaring my independence from my other life because my other life is everything I just make stuff.
Jimmy Diresta: Well I just quoted seven garment racks and that'll be a great YouTube video of me making a garment rack. But you know I'm charging a thousand dollars per garment rack that $7000 it'll take me three days worth of work. So I'll always be OK. So even as YouTube is ramping up I could always like I get offered jobs all the time which I turned down.
Jimmy Diresta: Hey do you want to build up my whole restaurant. It's like $100000 worth of work. But that's not fun because I'm going to be chasing my tail the entire time making sure they're happy and the stress is too much.
Jimmy Diresta: If I could make. Five or eight or seven $10000 from a sponsored video in my shop or I never have to leave. It's done in a few hours. I don't know if the park my truck in front of some place where I'm going to get towed away from it.
Jimmy Diresta: So it's a mad at my life has gotten gradually easier.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah but I could still always do that other work if I wanted to it's always available for me. Yeah. So I guess it's still it's like it used to be like I used to get 90% like installation and 10% YouTube.
Jimmy Diresta: Now it's the other way around. It's flipped and my life has become a little bit easier and I'm making a little bit more money working a little less hard.
Brandon: Yes. So is your filter then does it come back to you like am I going to enjoy doing this. When you're getting to study as it takes to build this kind of how you run it?
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah absolutely. I've been through I've spent so many years just saying yes to everything because I needed the money.
Jimmy Diresta: And now it's like OK wow. So I wanted to do these garment racks that means I have to do them in one week. I have to means if to stay up late a couple nights in a row because I get to go to Fabtech you know.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeh ok I'll do it.
Jimmy Diresta: But then if I say I've got too much to do. You know that's not going to be fun working late getting grinding dust in my teeth.
Jimmy Diresta: It's always weighed against the potential pain in the butt that it could get you. And then when someone offers me like you know somebody offers me like FU money for something like the budget is $20000 and all you have to make is a bench press it's an advertising thing. Advertising money is always much more money also.
Jimmy Diresta: OK cool. I'll do it.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah I'll just stay up late tonight and do it.
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. So I know you were you were out shooting and in September. I don't know if you can actually talk about what the show was or anything yet but what I wanted to ask is.. So you're doing YouTube at the same time now that you're over a million subscribers and then you're back doing like a full out production. Was it weird like seeing video from both sides of things like you're in that world where you're almost like in both worlds at the same time?
Jimmys new show Making It.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah. Well it's funny when I went to the NBC TV show it's called the Making It which is the home of the story because it's the same name as my podcast. Yeah and it's the Nick Nick Offerman Amy Poehler. They've already about it. They PR'd a little bit about there's some stuff in the news about it so I suppose to talk about it.
Jimmy Diresta: And I'm the shop teacher on the show. The contestants compete against one another to win fame and prizes and I am the shop teacher as each one of them do their challenges that make sure they don't get hurt. And I help them engineer their projects a little bit.
Jimmy Diresta: So I'm like a very small part of the show even though it's a great opportunity for me the show is not about me. A lot of people like, when is your show coming out?.
Jimmy Diresta: I'm like no no I'm just like one cog in the wheel of that whole show. The show's about the contestants.
Jimmy Diresta: But watching the wastefulness of network show is just amazing.
Jimmy Diresta: They're spending millions and millions of dollars to get the same amount of news that somebody potentially like me can get with a 100 dollar GoPro camera. And a stupid idea.
Jimmy Diresta: And that's just it just reinforces what I'm doing is right when I go to NBC. I'm spending I'm doing for instance I'm doing one week's worth of work for a segment of money I could make that same segment of money in five minutes on YouTube.
Jimmy Diresta: But because the TV game is like in this old old system it's like oh you're going to get this per episode.
Jimmy Diresta: Like I get that in 10 minutes on YouTube..
Jimmy Diresta: My agent's like it's a different thing it's totally different it's still you got you got to do this it could be huge potential and that's why I did it because the potential the upside of me being on NBC if I'm on NBC primetime 10 million people see me in one night.
Jimmy Diresta: Ten million people have seen me in the last five years you know. So we'll see if it means anything if it helps move the needle. But I did it for purely selfish reasons and that's because my YouTube. So I just want to I want to use NBC as a parasite to grow my youtube so i could charge more money for my branded videos.
Brandon: Gotcha. That makes sense so its a business decision.
Brandon: Well I would I don't we're wrapping up here but I would definitely have to ask you on that show with Nick Offerman. How did that relationship start?
How Jimmy meet Nick Offerman.
Brandon: Oh yeah that's..I've answered that question a few times Nick and my well when I was doing the TV show Hammered at HGTV. My brother had the ability and his contract to go to drama because he comedy and drama because I was a reality TV person and Jon was also reality but he also had this whole career of comedy.
Jimmy Diresta: So his agent carved that out for him and he got an opportunity to do a show with a cast of people called the American body shop on Comedy Central. Nick Offerman was on that show. He plays a really crazy character like this is going back do you remember the TV show Taxi.
Brandon: Yeah yeah.
Jimmy Diresta: Do you remember that Jim Natonski character the guy who became Doc Brown.
Brandon: Yeah yeah.
Jimmy Diresta: It was kind of crazy weirdo New Yorker like I was stringing out talking stuff. Nick right that same type of character but on American body shop really I mean it wasn't the same character but it was that type of like oddball completely out of left field type character.
Jimmy Diresta: And he did a really great job of it so if you ever find old episodes of American body shop check out Nick. And anyway so Nick came to New York and John said oh look up my brother because John's in L.A. at the time so Nick came to New York he looked me up and he's like:.
Jimmy Diresta: Hey I'm looking for a place to build a canoe.
Jimmy Diresta: And Nick I mean Nick was just another actor like my brother Nick wasn't as famous as he is now.
Jimmy Diresta: He said I want to build a canoe with you know where I can build the canoe. And he looked at my New York shop and your shop is too small. And he ended up renting a place in Redhook and then he calls me a couple like maybe almost a full week later I got a great place in Redhook.
Jimmy Diresta: He just said I've got a proposition for you. I'm going to build this canoe and this company doesn't have a DVD so I offer them the opportunity. While I build this canoe. Somebody could videotape me building the canoe.
Jimmy Diresta: Do you want to do it?
Jimmy Diresta: And even before he was done he said ya I'll do it. Sure lets do it.
Jimmy Diresta: And he couldn't believe he's like really. I'm like yeah I go it will be fun because I always always look. I'm always looking for opportunities to improve skills. So I thought I'm like wow this is going to be 20 hours of video at least that I've got to cut it down to an hour probably.
Jimmy Diresta: I'm like OK I'll do that and it will be fun because I get to watch somebody make a canoe which I've never seen being made. And so a week later he and I were in a car driving 600 miles up into Toronto to go pick up two canoe kits. And we met Joan and Ted the owners of Bear Mountain boats and they're wonderful people. We cemented a friendship that's still ongoing.
Jimmy Diresta: And with each other and then with Nick with with Joan and Ted the owners of Bear Mountain boats they're wonderful people and they gave me a canoe couple of years ago which I haven't had a chance to build yet but that's an upcoming project for my YouTube channel.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah. And that's how that happened then the rest is history and while we were working on the canoe project Nick goes...
Jimmy Diresta: Hey I've got a great opportunity for this character. It's written for me. It's a great character. It's going to be fun as a show about like national parks or something.
Jimmy Diresta: Ron Swanson the is. Ron Swanson was born.
Jimmy Diresta: I'm looking for my dog into my feet so I move it away from the microphone sorry.
Brandon: You're fine. You're totally fine.
Brandon: So was it. Was it weird or slash fund getting to work with him this morning in his world and your world too?.
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah.
Jimmy Diresta: Nick and I obviously like we pitched the show together a couple of years ago and it didn't work out. We both looked at me like you know this isn't fun. We both were like... comedy drama but this is a reality show of us. It was kind of exactly what Anthony Bourdain is doing right now going around and meeting people in their workshop.
Jimmy Diresta: That's with me and Nick we're going to do. Nick is going to be the executive producer of the show and kind of sometimes host and I was going to be a full time person because he didn't have the schedule to devote full time. So I like his wife said:.
Jimmy Diresta: Why don't you ask Jimmy and Jimmy good at making stuff and being on TV?.
Jimmy Diresta: And he's like: oh yeah that's a great idea. So it's like hey you want to try this and we pitch the show. You know we got interest from everybody but we everybody wanted to do a pilot which is a great thing to leave a meeting on they want a pilot.
Jimmy Diresta: And I said yeah go for them to not pick up a series at the time I had a few hundred thousand subscribers and Nick of course was Nick and I was like they're not going to pick up a 12 episode pick up based on you know our idea. It's kind of annoying. I don't think we're being treated with the respect we deserve so we both just want to hear great and we went our own way.
Jimmy Diresta: And then now this show came up and he said you want to be involved in the show. So I started talking to the casting people and and here it is we shot six episodes and the show is going to air I think in January.
Brandon: Oh cool.
Jimmy Diresta: It's very funny. Nick and Amy are super funny and the judges are super funny. So if anything carries the show it'll definitely be the comedy just so much so many laughs. It was great.
Brandon: Well I'll appreciate you hanging out on this... What is this Wednesday Wednesday morning. It's Tuesday it's Tuesday. I don't even know what day it is.
Jimmy Diresta: Tuesday morning is this Tuesday. Tuesday the 24th.
Brandon: Like I just messed up his schedule he doesn't know it is.
Brandon: Last week I kind of wanted to ask you a great job. This is you do a great job of leveraging your platform for other people. Are there folks that you would say hey these folks aren't getting enough attention like they're doing a really cool work that you'd encourage people to check out.
Jimmy Diresta: Mm hmm. You're asking me Is there anybody that I could recommend that you asking?
Jimmy Diresta: Yeah. Well you know I just was e-mailing with this whole Tony.
Jimmy Diresta: He's he's becoming a friend and this all Tony is a great YouTuber I talked about him recently my podcast and who else I think everybody deserves a chance. So when somebody says hey subscribe to me I subscribe and I like one of their videos and you know everybody started somewhere.
Jimmy Diresta: So I think everybody needs encouragement and I credit Make Magazine with my big jump in the news because I was bumping along and I had a little bit of TV fame but not enough to really carry me.
Jimmy Diresta: And when I started posting videos on my Make Channel. That's when my channel really started to grow quickly. And then that just kind of spread like cracks in the windshield from there on. And then you get a viral video here and there and then you know when when you know you're in the deep end of the ocean when when the comments are not just accolades there are negative ones too.
Jimmy Diresta: So if you're a young YouTuber and you start getting negative comments you know you're in like you're out at the harbor. You know you're in the ocean and that's a good place to go when it comes to being played in this game.
Brandon: Yeah yeah.
Brandon: You're the way you treat tr.
Olls is one of my favorite things. Even in your comments you'll just like I was reading like a Reddit that you did like an A.M.A. a few years ago in like the top comment was someone say no he's not safe... you just came right back at him you're like oh what have you been working on or stuff like that I was like that's awesome.
Jimmy Diresta: I have a couple of policies when I play with trolls. I never curse you although I have lost my temper once in a while. I usually delete those comments. You can see the residue of me losing my temper with the comments a lot of times I'll say exactly what I'll say.
Jimmy Diresta: You bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep.
Jimmy Diresta: I hit send and then I hit it delete because I know it goes to their e-mail.
Jimmy Diresta: I know they'll get the e-mail I'll say you know you can screengrab this and try and show that people I don't care your a so so and so so...
Jimmy Diresta: And then I delete the comment immediately because I know they'll at least get it inside the skull somehow.
Jimmy Diresta: But yeh know I try and just never curse and I always try to keep a clever retort... Sometimes I say Mom I told you stop watching my YouTube channel and that gets a laugh.
Brandon: And that's funny.
Jimmy Diresta: As if it was just the person being mean as my mother.
Jimmy Diresta: Well jimmydiresta.com for folks?.
Jimmy Diresta: Jimmydiresta.com for everything.
Jimmy Diresta: It's been a world it's been it's been a game changer the Internet it's really and I have friends now all around the world. Most of my friends that I hang out with on a daily basis the people I met through YouTube.
Jimmy Diresta: Kyle is at my house, Kyle from RR Builders. He's here with his buddy Greg and you know two years ago I nervously sent them an e-mail saying hey would you be interested in making a building and I didn't know if you'd even see it or answer back. So it's funny. We're all we're all like stars of each other. It's great.
Brandon: Yeah yeah. Well I appreciate your time. It was a blast chatting with you.
Brandon: And I forgot to mention the Making It Podcast.
How the Making It Podcast got started.
Brandon: It's definitely that's ones to listen to.
Jimmy Diresta: Thank you very much. Yeh me Bob and Dave started the the podcast.
Jimmy Diresta: Fan created, a fan wrote to us and said: Why don't you guys podcast together? And before that the three of us never really talked outside of the comments section and we had a phone call a group phone call like oh hey this is Jimmy.
Jimmy Diresta: I'm Bob.
Jimmy Diresta: This is Dave. What do you think about this idea? That was it. We said let's just tape one if it no good. No one has to know. If it's OK if anybody likes it and we are at 141 episodes.
Brandon: Yeh the dynamic is awesome, one of my favorites was when Bob was getting trying to get you with like an organizer like phone organizer or something you like my phone is messed up. This is hilarious.
Jimmy Diresta: I think it's in my DNA you know some people are born with car troubles I'm born with like schedule troubles and calendar the troubles.
Brandon: Yeah. Well thank you so much. I won't take too much for time.
Jimmy Diresta: Thank you buddy.