Amazing Digital Circus Producer Jasmine Yang: "All of Us Are Super Nervous"

Glitch Productions, home of Meta Runner and Murder Drones, drops the second episode of their viral hit The Amazing Digital Circus tonight.

Glitch Productions, a YouTube channel and animation house founded in 2017, has exploded in popularity over the last two years, most notably with the pilot to its newest series, The Amazing Digital Circus garnering over 300 million views since it was posted to YouTube in October. Jasmine Yang, the General Manager of Glitch, has been there more or less the whole time they have been on their big rise. Joining up with the production house in 2019, Yang worked first on SMG4, a parody series using 64-bit Super Mario characters, and then as a writer on Meta Runner, a series created by Glitch co-founders Kevin and Luke Lerdwichagul. That was their first original content, and it established Glitch as more htan just a small arm of the once-great Machinima (which hosted SMG4).

By late 2021, though, there came Murder Drones. The darkly comic series about worker drones at war with each other on a desolate future world drained of its resources became a huge hit, and expanded the Glitch lineup by bringing in not only another -- and very toyetic -- original series, but also creator Liam Vickers. 

Murder Drones brought the studio to new heights, getting tens of millions of views per video -- but nobody knew what a massive hit The Amazing Digital Circus would be.

"Honestly, it's been pretty bizarre. None of us really saw this level of success coming," Yang told "When I joined, it was such a small, silly, ramshackle operation. We were working on random laptops and computers that were cobbled together, none of us had a chair that matched another chair. And we just kept making stuff that we enjoyed. I wrote Meta Runner, our first Glitch show, and then we made another show, and then another show, and now Amazing Digital Circus, and we have more stuff to come. Each time, we keep thinking we're done for -- we already hit our peak and it's all downhill from here, but then every time we do something new, it just becomes more popular. Really we have nothing to do with it, except to keep making the stuff we enjoy and hope people keep responding to it."

With over 8 million subscribers and many times that eager for more Amazing Digital Circus, tonight's second episode -- it will drop on YouTube at 6 p.m. ET -- marks arguably the most important single piece of work for Glitch since the launch of Meta Runner

"We keep feeling like we're putting up higher stakes, and we keep wondering, 'When is this finally going to crash down around us?' and somehow it keeps paying off," Yang said. "Everything we do, even within seasons themselves...each episode of a series is more expensive and more ambitious than the last, and that really just comes down to the great talent that we have....They just keep pushing the envelope, and I guess audiences really appreciate that."

Whether it's an ever-expanding scope or just the time it takes to make the episodes, Yang says that as creative director, she has a hard time telling the likes of Vickers and The Amazing Digital Circus creator Gooseworx no. After all, up to this point, giving the creatives their way seems to have been working out for them.

"If we had to wait until the entire season was ready before dropping any episodes, [the Digital Circus pilot] would not have premiered for years," Yang admitted. "We work in the YouTube space, where people are used to some creators who spend months between videos, and then they drop it, and people are happy, and they move onto something else." 

It isn't management at Glitch, but the entertainment market itself that Yang finds herself bristling against when it comes to release timetables.

"What we have to work against is this misconception, built off the last decade and a half of streaming, that the binge model was necessary," Yang explained. "I think a lot of the big platforms are also realizing this now -- that dropping all the episodes at the same time is not only impractical but also counterintuitive. If you want your franchise to have any longevity, people need some time to talk about it. They need to digest things, form a community, and eagerly anticipate the next drop. For us, not only is it practical but it works a little bit in our favor because every time we make a new episode of anything, we can make a big event about it."

For a company that was -- just five years ago -- operating out of somebody's living room, Yang says they still haven't fully processed the incredible success of The Amazing Digital Circus. Recently, they had a pop-up store in Japan, and screened the second episode there -- where Yang told us she actually saw the finished animation for the first time -- a strange experience, since it was dubbed to Japanese.

"It was surreal. I am actually, not only one of the producers on the show, I'm also the head of product, so I handle all the merchandise and licensing as well," Yang told "I worked closely with our Japanese partners on the pop-up store and all the merchandise. I've always been in charge of our [direct-to-consumer] merchandise. It's always been a to actually walk into a store and to see people buying it -- to have a big Pomni statue there and to see them pick merchandise up and point to each other, or to pick up a blind box and get excited that they got the right character -- is surreal. Kevin, Luke, and me, when we went to Japan for the pop-up store, we couldn't stop saying to each other, 'This is so surreal.' We didn't think, ever when we were working in that living room, that we would be standing in Japan with fans of our show, with a big statue of the character from our show. We always joked about that being our goal, but we never really thought it could happen."

Tonight's second episode of Digital Circus comes with a level of expectations that no Glitch production has had before, and especially not the first episode of the series. That's daunting, even if the response has so far been pretty great, Yang admits.

"All of us are super nervous about how it's going to go," Yang told us. "That's just our nature, to worry. I know Gooseworx is always super nervous about how people will take anything that she puts out. 'What if the first one is a fluke? What if people don't like the second one?' And we're going to keep feeling the same way, over and over again."

Still, Yang said, she's heartened by the response that they have had from fans so far.

"I've seen the fandom at the pop-up store, and they're so excited for episode two," Yang said. "We had a screening of episode two in Japan, and I could see the audience's faces. They were crying, they were laughing, they cheered at the end. So really, what it comes down to is, we just try to make content that we enjoy and we hope that everyone else likes it, too. For us, that's the best we can try to do."

Yang said that, as a big fan of The Simpsons, one of the things she sees Glitch trying to do is to make shows that aren't laser-focused on either kids or adults. So much of animation seems to be siloed off in one direction or another, but the hope with shows like The Amazing Digital Circus is that the different audiences get different things out of it.

"We make stuff that anyone can enjoy," Yang said. "We don't like the term 'this is a kids' how, because I think adults can enjoy things that kids watch, and kids aren't babies. They tend to watch things that have sometimes a more serious theme, something that's more shocking. We grew up on Cartoon Network stuff, and in between the fun and happy slapstick stuff, you would have really shocking episodes, where someone died. Avatar, within the first three episodes, showed a genocide. These are serious themes, but it's still a 'kids show.' We know that kids can enjoy the bright colors and everything, but we don't intend to say 'this is for kids.' I remember an interview with Maurice Sendak, the writer of Where the Wild Things Are, and somebody asked him 'why do you write children's books?' and Sendak said, 'I don't write children's books. I write books and somebody out there says they're for children.' And I think that's the mentality that we have as well. We just make shows, and if kids watch it, that's great. If adults watch it, also great."