Behind the Scenes of ‘The Late Late Show’s’ YouTube Episode

Since its debut in March, James Corden’s “The Late Late Show” has scored an impressive audience in the digital realm, racking up 200 million views and nearly a million subscribers.

So the host says it was only natural that they would celebrate YouTube’s 10th anniversary with a themed episode featuring the stars of the digital provider — moving out of “Late Late Show’s” usual studio to stage the show in Playa Vista’s YouTube Space L.A.

“We were so overwhelmed by the manner in which people were consuming the show on YouTube,” says Corden. “We thought, ‘Has anyone ever done a show from YouTube, celebrating all the stars they’ve created?’ When we realized no one had, we thought, ‘Right. Let’s do it!'”

See More: James Corden on Taking Over ‘The Late Late Show’ and Winning Over America

The mechanics of putting the show together proved a bit of a logistical challenge — from booking the talent (YouTube stars don’t necessarily have publicists and agents) to figuring out how to configure the YouTube space to match the feel of the studio (where should Reggie and the band sit?).

Executive producer Ben Winston had a bit of experience in the location: Back in 2013 he’d staged One Direction’s “1D Day” — an eight-hour live broadcast to launch their album — there. That was, he says, “the single most difficult thing I’ve ever produced in my life.”

But six weeks of feverish planning resulted in a jam-packed episode, which airs Aug. 21 (the first time the show has aired an original show on a Friday). Featured are YouTube legends Jenna Marbles, Tyler Oakley, makeup artist Kandee Johnson and the Slow Mo guys, along with performances by Epic Rap Battles of History and Boyce Avenue.

“Jenna Marbles and Tyler Oakley have amassed this huge following. Ten or 15 years ago, it’s not inconceivable they would have been the hosts of ‘TRL’ on MTV,” says Corden. “These people would have found a way to break through as avenues have been closed to them on television. TV in general has been dismissive of these people, and that’s a little bit naive.”

It was important to the team that the show preserve the vibe of “The Late Late Show” while giving it a YouTube flair — from the opening number (an admittedly “silly” song written by David “An Act of God” Javerbaum and featuring a cameo by Rebecca “Friday” Black) to the guest check-in to the monologue, which charts the history of YouTube, showing the first, rather underwhelming YouTube video and letting Corden rant about life before YouTube. “Before YouTube, going viral was a bad thing,” he jokes. “Before YouTube, we had no way of knowing what the fox said.” Even the show’s bumpers pay tribute to YouTube’s infinite animal videos: Corden gets to dine with dogs.

“If you like when James plays ‘Nuzzle Wha’ on the show, you’ll like when he plays ‘Nuzzle Wha’ on the show with Jenna Marbles and Tyler Oakley,” says executive producer Rob Crabbe, of the game where contestants have to identify an object while blindfolded, by nuzzling up against it. (Warning: Beware the twerker.)

Adds Winston, “We kept the core of our show. It felt like our show, just a YouTube version of it.”

The creative team’s only concern was whether the audience would also embrace the idea — but that was quickly allayed when more than 2,000 people applied for tickets for just over 100 available seats at the show. “There’s a worry when you do these things that the YouTube community would think it’s disingenuous, that we’re trying to placate them,” says Winston. “To see all these YouTube characters in the same room — for them even to meet each other — that was quite exciting to be a part of.”

In the end, Corden and team say they’re glad they took the risk by taking the show on the road. “I’m just proud of the ambition of it,” says Corden.

The exec producers are quick to credit YouTube with helping the show find an audience. “It’s a leveler,” says Winston. “It’s not about what time you’re on and what your lead-in is. If your clip is funny, it will survive and it will do well.”

“We always knew we weren’t going to be able to measure our show by ratings,” adds Crabbe. “What I hoped was you were going to be able to measure our show by relevance. I don’t think you can look at our ratings following ‘The Mentalist’ and get a good gauge of what our show is. But you can look at all of our videos going over a million views on YouTube and recognize there’s some relevance there.”

The episode is the last before the “Late Late Show” takes a break for the rest of the summer; it’ll return with new shows after the debut of Stephen Colbert’s new “Late Show” on September 8.

“It’s a privilege to follow him,” says Corden. “As much as we don’t know what the show is, what we do know about him is to know how great he is at tackling news and politics. He’s going to make a brilliant, fun and funny show.”

Expect a crossover — or two. Corden reveals they shot a teaser last week, and that he’ll be a guest on Colbert’s show in a few weeks. Adds Crabbe, “We’re going to try to figure out a clever way to do a crossover between the coasts.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content